Wednesday/ a party in a pandemic

My friends were here to celebrate my birthday tonight.
We sat a social distance apart from each other for beers, and pizzas from Olympic Pizza around the corner.
I really hope by this time next year, we can let our hair down a bit when we socialize and not worry too much about the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Tuesday/ meanwhile, in Wuhan ..

.. partygoers packed the Wuhan Maya Beach Water Park this weekend. Wuhan ended its 76-day lockdown in early April, and no new domestically-transmitted cases have been officially reported there since mid-May [Bloomberg Business News Quicktake on Twitter].

Monday/ the Democratic National Convention starts

“Let me be as honest and clear as I possibly can: Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country. He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us. It is what it is”.
-Former First Lady Michelle Obama, in her speech closing out the first night of the virtual 2020 Democratic National Convention

It was a great speech. That phrase ‘It is what it is’ is a reference to Donald Trump’s dismissive assessment of the state of the Covid-19 pandemic and its destruction of lives and jobs.

Even so, one has to wonder if a single voter in America will be ‘convinced’ by any Convention speaker’s entreatments to vote for Biden, and not for Trump.

You know already very well that Trump belongs in jail — OR you still support him after 3½ years, closing your eyes & ears to the destruction he still sows to this day. 

Sunday/ 98 and .01 in of rain

Well, we did get up to 98 °F (almost 37 °C) today.
As the sun was setting tonight, there was a startling burst of thunder from the clouds over the city. (Thunderstorms were not mentioned in the weather bulletins that I had followed).
Just a few drops of rain fell here in the city, though – the kind that gets recorded as 1/ 100th of an inch, I suspect.

The clouds that had moved in, and beautiful fiery colors in the distance:  the view from West Seattle as the sun was setting. [Picture posted by WestSeattleWx@WestSeaWx on Twitter].

Saturday/ the heat is here

The weatherman says we may see temperatures as high as 97 °F (36 °C) here in the city tomorrow. I wish I had a swimming pool.

These pictures are from May, taken by a homeowner in Ottawa, Canada. Police and conservation officials arrived to help, but the moose found her way out of the pool and went on her way.

Friday/ holding steady

The high infection numbers of July are coming down for Washington State, but are still far higher than April’s peaks.

Let me check what the pandemic numbers are for some counties in Washington State, I thought tonight.

Here are the results, courtesy of the New York Times.

King County (Seattle) seems to be holding steady at 7 or so, per 100 000. Schools & universities are not going to open— remote learning only. For schools to open the % of positive cases from testing should be below 5%, and that is still not the case for King County (and not for the vast majority of counties in the country).  P.S. Those orange spots are Chelan County at 36/ 100,000 and Grant County at 39/ 100,000.
Here’s Kittitas County that have had a jump up this week. A rate of 17 still compares well against counties in Florida and Texas that have numbers like 70, 100 or even 210.
And Kitsap County is looking really good with a low rate that seems to be decreasing.

Thursday/ put your game face on

Our social tennis club’s management splurged on expensive tennis balls for us for tonight. The can features Roger Federer’s ‘game face’ and signature, and there is a note inside that says he worked with Wilson to design a premium tennis ball. (For a premium price, of course: a good 20% more for a case of these).

Put your game face on! Veteran champion and one of the best protagonists of the game—ever— Roger Federer, turned 39 on Aug. 8. He is still recovering from a second arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, and is out for the rest of the year. So we will not see him in the US Open that will start on Aug. 31st in Queens, New York City, but without crowds! Oh no! and boo! to the pandemic.

Wednesday/ it’s still summer

We only got  72 °F (22 °C)  here in the city today, but it looks like Sunday will be warm: 90 °F (32 °C).

Here’s a set of whimsical forest fairytale items that I found next to the sidewalk in a garden here on Capitol Hill. 

Tuesday/ 1984, 2016, 2020: third time’s a charm?

It’s official: 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden (age 77) has picked Senator Kamala Harris (55) as his running mate for vice president. Ms Harris’s father is Donald Harris, a renowned Stanford professor and an immigrant from Jamaica. Her mother, Shyamala Gopalan, was an India born Tamil American cancer researcher and civil rights activist (she passed away in 2009).

The pundits say at least part of Biden’s choice of Harris was driven by demographics: he needs women, and African American voters to turn out in 2008 numbers (when they came out to vote for Obama).

In 1984 we had Walter Mondale that picked Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro, only to lose big against Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. That was the last time a Republican presidential candidate won the state of Washington. (Good).

Then just in 2016, we had Hillary Clinton at the top of the ticket with Senator Tim Kaine, narrowly losing to Trump. (Will we ever forget that in this lifetime? No).

P.S. On the Republican side there was John McCain in 2008 and his ‘maverick’ pick for VP, Sarah Palin.

Monday/ don’t be a Maskenmuffel

die Maskenmuffel
definition of Maskenmuffel:
Grouches that refuse to wear masks, as in ‘Die Maskenmuffel weigern sich, Masken zu tragen‘.

Trust the Germans to come up with one word for the grouches that refuse to wear masks in this pandemic: Maskenmuffel.  The word is surely a contender for top new word for 2020, in Germany.

Translation: Hamburger Verkehrsverbund (Transport Network) takes action with a fine: in the future, ‘mask grouches’ will have to dig deep into their pockets (reportedly €50/ US$60). [Hamburger Morgenpost on Twitter @mopo].

Sunday/ the Model Y

Here’s a black Tesla Model Y that I found here on 17th Ave. It has a range of 315 miles, and sports a very sleek look.

‘While the introduction of the Model Y wasn’t as groundbreaking as the hoopla around Models 3, S, and X, it’s clear it is going to be big. SUV and crossover sales continue to dwarf sedan sales in the United States, and the Model X is probably a bit too radical and expensive for most potential EV* buyers, so the Model Y appears to hit the sweet spot buyers are looking for: an EV with plenty of cargo space and a high sitting position’.
– From a review on

*Electrical vehicle

Black is beautiful, but man! it shows dirt very quickly. If one gets the black paint, one should probably spring for the black wheels as well, instead of the silver.

Saturday/ a 4×6 escape to Kaunas

Here’s another ‘4×6 escape’ card from my neighborhood, featuring Kaunas, Lithuania. This is the old town square, and the confluence of the Neris and Nemunas rivers is close by.

Kaunas is a city in south-central Lithuania at the confluence of the Neris and Nemunas rivers, with a population of about 300,000 people. Lithuania is one of the Baltic states, situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, to the southeast of Sweden and Denmark.

Here’s the Google Street View image of the picture, from 2012.
P.S. Lithuania has a population of 2.8 million people, and has reported 81 fatalities from Covid-19 as of Aug 7. If Lithuania’s number is a true count, that’s about 1/15th of the fatality rate recorded in the United States so far (on a per capita basis).

Friday/ more protesting, peacefully

There was a little crowd tonight in front of Uncle Ike’s on 15th Ave, chanting ‘Black Lives Matter!’ and ‘Defund the Police!’.
There was no visible police presence, but it seemed the organizers of the gathering designated a handful of ‘marshals’ that kept an eye out for vandals and troublemakers.

There’s Uncle Ike’s in the distance (purveyor of marijuana products). I was not about to wade into the crowd, but it did seem that just about everyone was wearing a mask.
The intersection of Republican & 15th Ave was blocked for a good 30 or 40 minutes, and I don’t know what the buses on No 10 route did to get through or around the crowd.

Thursday/ a little welcome rain

There was a little welcome rain this morning, with mild highs later on (70 °F/ 21 °C).

Pinks in the sky tonight, and in this hollyhock flower (genus Alcea). Alcea is a genus of about 60 species of flowering plants in the mallow family Malvaceae. This one is about 6 ft tall.

Wednesday/ rain on the way

There is rain on the way for Thursday, says the meteorologists.
Yes! I need it to dissolve and disperse the dry moss treatment that the gutter cleaners had left on my roof.

Tuesday/ the explosion in Beirut

‘This is like Hiroshima
– Mayor of Beirut, Marwan Abboud, while appearing to be in tears while addressing reporters a few hours after the massive explosion that rocked the city on Monday evening

As someone said on Twitter: in a city that still bears the scars of a civil war of 15 years (1975-1990), the people of Beirut deserve better than this.
Early indications are that the explosion was the accidental ignition of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate used in fertilisers and bombs had been stored for six years at the port without safety measures.

It looks like a war zone in Beirut. France has promised to send help. Trump expressed sympathy and said the USA would help, but said ‘Looks like a terrible attack’ and ‘It was a bomb of some kind’ .. offering no evidence or that intelligence was gathered or obtained, of course.  [Picture was reposted on Twitter, original source unknown]

Monday/ caramelized shallots

My house smell of shallot onions and garlic.
It’s from a caramelized paste that I had cooked earlier.
The stuff is potent, and enough for 5 or 6 days to scoop onto fried eggs, or use as is, on toast.
The shallot onions and garlic are sliced thin and cooked down in olive oil.
After a while, l add in a small tin of anchovy fillets, tomato paste and salt & pepper.
When the tomato paste has turned a deeper red – it’s done!

Sunday/ wild blackberries

These wild blackberries (Rubus fruticosus) are by the Amy Yee tennis courts where I played a little social-distance tennis today. The plant is a prickly, scrambling, woody shrub, and is actually considered an invasive species in many areas.

The dry summer weather continues here in the city (79 °F/ 26 °C today).
There were clouds and a chance of drizzle on Saturday morning, but it stayed dry.

The average number of rainfall days in July is 5, and for August it is even lower at 4.8.

Saturday/ more help needed, right away

It’s going awfully bad for many millions of people here in the United States.
With 153, 000 lives lost, there is no end in sight for the pandemic.
There is no national strategy to contain it.
The country’s GDP had declined by 9.5% in the second quarter, wiping out 5 years of economic growth.
Unemployment benefits for tens of millions of workers have expired at the end of July.
Mitch McConnell & his Senate Republicans have let legislation languish for months— proposed by the House for additional help from the government to people in dire need.

Infographic from the Washington Post, showing how the bad the pandemic was in the Northeast, but that it has now moved to the Southeast and the Southwest.
From The Washington Post, Aug. 3. Let’s just note: Congress = The House + The Senate. It’s Mitch McConnell & his Senate Republicans that are to blame for doing nothing.

Friday/ decoding street art

I walked down to the former Capitol Hill Organized Protest zone by the East Precinct police station today.

All was quiet with not much traffic on the streets – but right then three police patrol vans erupted out of the police station garage, piercing sirens going and headlights flashing.  There was an emergency somewhere that they were rushing to.

Here’s artwork on the boarded up street corner where CHOP was (Pine St & 11th Ave): a gallery of pop culture characters.
At the back, left to right: Barney Rubble from The Flintstones (first appearance 1959), Luigi from Super Mario Bros., Inspector Gadget from the namesake animated TV series (1983), Ned Flanders from The Simpsons (1989), and The Kool-Aid Man, primary mascot for Kool-Aid (1975).
In front, left to right: Rocko the wallaby from Rocko’s Modern Life (1993), Nibbler from the cartoon series Futurama (1999), Underdog from the animated movie (2007).
And this one makes one wonder what Anti-Anti-Antifa would mean. Well: Antifa is short for anti-fascist* or anti-fascism. So Anti-Antifa would presumably support a right-wing fascistic stance, and Anti-Anti-Antifa would bring us back to a reiterated Antifa. (Just as in math, where a double negative becomes a positive).
*Fascism is a form of far-right, authoritarian ultranationalism characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, as well as strong regimentation of society and of the economy which came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe [Wikipedia].