Friday/ Julian Assange’s cat

Here’s an internet meme to celebrate National Pet Day (even though it was yesterday).
The feline is Julian Assange*’s cat Michi, pictured in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in 2016. After Assange’s arrest on Thursday, Ecuador threatened to put Michi in an animal shelter – but the kitty kat is now reportedly with Assange’s family.

*Assange is an Australian journalist, computer programmer and the founder and director of WikiLeaks [Source: Wikipedia].

Thursday/ Brexit .. will we ever see it?

So Brexit is now delayed until Oct 31 this year (yes, Halloween).
Will it be a trick or a treat?
The UK must participate in the upcoming elections to the European Parliament (if it fails to do that, the UK will leave the EU on June 1). The European Council also reiterated that there can be no reopening of the withdrawal agreement negotiations.

I propose, that we call it Brexit’, says this German ‘astrophysicist’ of the long-awaited, elusive image of a black hole. [Cartoon from German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel, by cartoonist Schwalme].

Wednesday/ there it is: a black hole

Google made a great doodle of the first-ever image of a black hole ●. This black hole is in Messier 87 (abbreviated as M87), a giant galaxy in the constellation Virgo. The black hole is several billion times more massive than our Sun. Lucky for us, it is about 53 million light years from Earth.

What will happen to a human falling into a black hole? Based on the mathematics in Einstein’s general theory of relativity of 1915, you would fall through the event horizon unscathed, then the force of gravity would pull you into a very long noodle and ultimately cram you into singularity, the black hole’s infinitely dense core. Ouch?

Images of the M87 black hole. [Source: New York Times]. The line and the 50 μas shown in the picture is 50 millionths of an arc-second, an angle unit of measure. That is a vanishingly small sliver of an angle that the radio telescopes had to pin down. For comparison, the angular diameter of the Sun comes in at 32′ (minutes) and that of Venus at about 1′ (one minute). One degree equals 60 minutes, one minute equals 60 seconds.
The elements of a black hole. Black holes were predicted by Einstein’s general theory of relativity that was published in 1916. [Diagrams and article: The Guardian newspaper].
 

Tuesday/ the beer is here

Here’s a Rainier beer truck on 15th Ave, delivering supplies to the local restaurants and watering holes, no doubt.

Rainier-branded beer was launched 1878, 11 years before Washington became the 42nd state in the Union (on November 11, 1889). The ‘pale mountain ale’ shown on the truck was introduced in 2016, brewed with Yakima valley hops. I see on the website it was a limited-time offering, though – so it might not be available anymore.

Monday/ another candidate for 2020 .. go Democrats!

Wow, the Democratic candidates for President of the United States for the 2020 campaign have been jumping into the fray by the dozen and more. Tonight there was another, on Stephen Colbert’s Late Night Show. His name is Eric Swalwell and he is represents California’s 15th congressional district.  He is only 38 yrs old (got to be 35 to run for President), but he’s been a Congressman for 6 yrs, so that will help. I like him a lot. He’s been a regular guest on the cable news programs that I watch.

P.S. Psst! And for the first time ever, there will be a gay candidate running for President of the United States as well. I will write about him later. He is expected to announce his candidacy on Sunday April 14.

Congressman Eric Swalwell is on the left, with late night talk show host Stephen Colbert on the right. Swalwell will try to distinguish himself from the other Democratic Party candidates (and there may be as many as 20!), by making gun reform in the United States the primary issue that he will run on. (Background checks with no exceptions, ban assault rifles and start buying them back, start programs to try to prevent gang violence).

Sunday/ Cougar Mountain Zoo

I ran out to Cougar Mountain Zoo today. It’s a smallish (11 acres) zoological park located on the north slope of Cougar Mountain about 15 miles east of Seattle. These are my pictures.

The grey crowned crane (Balearica regulorum) is native to eastern and southern Africa, and is the national bird of Uganda.
Here’s the best I shot I could get of the sarus crane (Grus antigone), found in parts of the Indian subcontinent, southeast Asia and Australia. They are the tallest of the flying birds, standing at a height of up to 5 ft 11 in (1.8 m).
The emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae) from Australia is the second-largest living bird after the ostrich. They weigh about 80 lbs (36 kg).
Another Australian creature at the zoo, a marsupial called the wallaby. There are dozens of species and this one is a swamp wallaby, sometimes called a black wallaby (Wallabia bicolor).
This is a gray wolf or timber wolf (Canis lupis). They come in different color variations in their coats. Washington State’s wolf population has been doing OK in recent years, with the numbers slowly increasing. Most are found in the northeastern quarter of the state. At the end of 2017, there were at least 122 wolves counted in 22 packs, with 14 breeding pairs. (Man – that still does not sound like a very large number to me!).
It’s cold and there is no jungle here! .. so these ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) huddle together. They are an endangered species, native the to island of Madagascar of the east coast of Africa.
Oh dear! Here we have the regular old garden variety of mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), a deer indigenous to western North America. It is named for its ears, which are large like those of the mule. [Source: Wikipedia]
On to the exotic birds. Here is the hyacinthine macaw or blue macaw (Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus). It is a parrot native to central and eastern South America. It is the largest of the macaws, and can live up to 50 years of age.
This is a blue-and-gold macaw (Ara ararauna), also native in South America. This one’s name is Ejea. These macaws are considered to be one of the most trainable and intelligent birds of all the parrots. [Source: Wikipedia]
‘Hmm. I will just sit here and look spectacular in my red feather get-up’ .. is what this scarlet macaw (Ara macao) named Kiwi, seems to be thinking.
And here is Paco the African grey parrot (Psittacus erithacus), eating some food that got stuck on his foot. These parrots are native to equatorial Africa. These guys are great companion parrots, prized for their ability to mimic human speech, and may also live up to 50 years.
From Indonesia, the Moluccan cockatoo (Cacatua moluccensis).
And here is a reindeer (Rangifer tarandus), one of a little herd at the zoo. These deer are native to arctic, sub-arctic, tundra, boreal, and mountainous regions of northern Europe, Siberia, and North America. This zoo has the largest herd of Siberian Reindeer in the United States.
Tigers are still found in parts of India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Burma – but are critically endangered in the wild, and almost certain to become extinct in the next decade. This is a Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris), with the white color variation. This is not an albino, or a separate species from the orange and black Bengal tigers.
Here’s the classic orange-black-and-white coated Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris). I’m keeping my distance and using my zoom lens through one of the two fences. Even so, I was not of much interest to the big feline. It was getting ready to ..
.. y-a-a-a-wn!
Finally, here is the famous mountain lion or cougar (Puma concolor). I love its heavy tail. Sadly, the Eastern cougar (Puma concolor couguar) is now officially extinct. On the western side of North America, cougars are doing OK for now, in the wild.

Friday/ release the report, Mr Barr

Two weeks later — and still no release of the Mueller report (not to Congress and not to the public). AG William Barr has now issued four statements about the report. So some stonewalling is going on. The New York Times and Washington Post both reported that the Mueller team is grumbling about Barr’s (mis)characterization of the findings. Trump promptly called their reporting ‘fake news’.

Then again, does it really matter what’s in the Mueller report?
Trump’s corruption, cruelty, lies and incompetence are plain to see.  He broadcasts it on Twitter and blabbers non-stop lies to the press, in the Oval Office, or before he flies off, to go play golf. Any given day of the week.

Friday/ showers & camellia flowers

We’re finally getting some rain again here in the city (and 58 °F/ 14 °C).
Here’s a spectacular camellia flower that I found a few blocks from my house. I have a camellia shrub in my front yard as well, but its flowers are not quite as big these!

Thursday/ Marmite peanut butter

I eat Marmite on toast almost every day – the yeasty, vegetable extract concoction that has been around since 1902, similar to Vegemite in Australia.

Now I see  Marmite peanut butter has hit the supermarket shelves in the UK. Some call this move by Marmite ‘more divisive than Brexit’.

So, the equation to verify with a taste test is,
if ❤ Marmite
+ ❤ Peanut Butter
=  ❤❤ Marmite Peanut Butter !

I will have to get my grubby hands on a jar, ‘spread the love’ on my toast (as it says on the cap), and find out!

Wednesday/ there is an end to everything

‘There is an end to everything, to good things as well’.
Proverb that dates back to about 1374 (Geoffrey Chaucer, poet).


We learned yesterday that the reason the Rolling Stones had to postpone their upcoming concert in May in Seattle, was for Mick Jagger (75) to undergo heart surgery (a heart valve replacement). Yikes. Apparently surgeons can work new wonders these days with a much less invasive procedure, but even so.
Is this not a sign for Mick and the Stones to finally, just pack it up, and call it quits?

Posters on Pike Street here in Capitol Hill, for the Rolling Stones ‘No Filter’ concert that had been planned for May here in Seattle, but that is now postponed. (That red tongue logo debuted in 1971). I saw the Rolling Stones in St Louis in 1996 – their ‘Bridges to Babylon’ tour. With the internet brand new at the time, there was a projected computer screen on stage. Fans could e-mail in requests for songs – from their hard-wired desktop or notebook computers at home, I suppose. There was no Blackberry, no smartphone, no wifi, nothing mobile like that.

Tuesday/ Our Planet: can we save it?

The spectacular – and spectacularly upsetting, it looks like to me – Our Planet series of episodes from renowned filmmaker Sir David Attenborough (he’s 92) is set to debut on Friday on Netflix in 190 countries. It may draw a total audience of one billion viewers.

The material has been four years in the making, with filming done in 50 countries and with the collaboration of the World Wildlife Fund. No bones are made about the impact that human activity has had on the planet. Humans are accelerating what is called the Sixth Extinction, of plant and animal species across the globe.

Below is a preview and a few photos from the series, that the Irish Times had published over the weekend. The octopus in the last picture is off the coast of South Africa.

 

Monday/ here’s April

Well, March is behind us. We had only 36% of the normal month of March rainfall, here in the Seattle area: 1.37 in. vs the average of 3.72 in.

Cloud cover but still no rain. Here’s a late afternoon view looking into the sunset, from where I’m standing at 14th Ave and John. Those are the Olympic Mountains, on the Olympic Peninsula, behind the Space Needle.

Sunday/ iTunes tune-up: completed

Alright .. I’m done for now with my iTunes tune-up. It was a lot of fun. In some cases I broke the ‘rules’: uploaded a singles album cover from online,  if I had only imported the hit song from a full CD, and I did not like the CD cover much. In other cases where I had multiple CDs for one artist or group (ABBA), I could upload several cool old vinyl covers or CD covers.

Check it out! All the little squares are filled now .. (top left) the first two pics are from the original ABBA’s Greatest Hits. That was on vinyl and I had the record for many years. On the right, Bennie is kissing Anni-frid on the park bench, and on the left Agnetha is hoping (I think!) that Björn will notice her. (They were in fact married at the time. Bennie and Anni-frid would marry each other many years later). Further to the right are two vintage ABBA covers, one for People Need Love and one for I do, I do, I do, I do, I do. In the second row, I like the two Albert Hammond covers that I found online, and uploaded. And I especially like the Barry Ryan cover for Eloise, far right on the third row! 

Saturday/ tuning up my iTunes

The Sony Walkman cassette player was a sensation when it came out in 1979, and I got one just a year or two later. It was a lot of money to spend at the time, but I loved it.

I’m still doggedly maintaining my iTunes library of music, even though music purveyors like Apple and Amazon are trying hard to make me let go and subscribe to their online music. For about $10 a month, one can get access to a vast library of old and new music (50 million songs), as well as curated playlists from music buffs.

But if one has listened to recorded music for several decades (me), and have bought music CDs in places all over the world*, it’s really hard to let go of all that. Why not keep the music on CDs AND upload it into a searchable collection of 2,000 songs to carry on your smartphone? It

*I left my vinyl collection behind in South Africa in 1995; gave it all to a friend .. but have replaced some of them with CDs, since.

There are heavy metal, rock, pop, Afrikaans, K-pop, classical music and many more albums in my collection. iTunes does not always pick up the artwork automatically when one imports it, but there is a way to upload artwork into iTunes. I found that ‘Jessica Jones’ picture on the far right online, and popped it in. The search for filling out the other gray boxes is ongoing.

Friday March 29 2019 has come and gone

Cartoon by Peter Brookes of The Times.

What happens now — now that the apocalyptic Brexit deadline of March 29 has come and gone?

Will British PM Theresa May resign?
Will there be a second referendum?

The Daily Mail newspaper was having none of it (not moving forward with Brexiting, that is). In a full-page editorial they called the Members of Parliament ‘utterly beneath contempt‘. (Shout-out to the MP looking up from his phone and waving at the camera in that last picture! He looks like a friendly guy, even though I don’t know his politics).

Thursday/ the cherry blossoms at UW

The large cherry trees on the Quad of the University of Washington’s campus in Seattle’s University District are reaching their peak bloom, and I went out to take a look today.

The blossoms are 65% in bloom today, reports the UW website. The trees already look splendid to me, but maybe I will go back next week to experience them at full bloom! The 29 large cherry trees in the Quad are about 86 yrs old and in good shape.
‘Thanks to precious Earth and Mother Nature for cherry trees’, says this banner around the tree.
This administration building called Denny Hall is nearby the Quad. It is named after Arthur Denny, one of the founders of Seattle. It is the oldest building on the main UW campus, and was completed in 1895. It is looking great after a $56m renovation inside and out, that was completed in 2016.
A closer look at the main facade and its clock.
And I always stop on Red Square to take a picture of Suzzallo Library (Collegiate Gothic architecture, 1926). Side note: My alma mater in Stellenbosch, South Africa, also has a plaza called Red Square (die ‘Rooi Plein’) right by its main library.

Wednesday/ the bad, the worse, and the absolute worst

We don’t even know exactly what’s in the Mueller Report yet (we only know the Barr Summary of the Mueller Report), but Trump and his supporters have been taking a victory lap all week.

There Trump was on TV, in all his fake news & lying glory, gesturing while saying ‘the report is a complete and total exoneration‘ – while the report took great pains to specifically say its findings are not an exoneration.

On Monday night’s Late Show, Stephen Colbert crossed off ‘colluded with Russia’ from this list (since Mueller’s Report apparently says he did not do that – even though Trump Jr did). The title of this list is way too kind to Trump. He is not just bad. He has to be the absolute worst president the United States of America has had. [Source: CBS Television, YouTube]
Just look at this list of open investigations. It’s a real list. Seventeen. Other presidents (think: Obama) had NONE, or maybe one. Or two. So yes, looks like we can cross No 1 off the list. Trump did not collude with Russia. But he broke campaign finance laws in 2016 and lied about it; probably has not paid his taxes the last 10 years, or ever; employed undocumented workers; overruled the FBI to get security clearances for Jared and Ivanka .. on and on and on. [Source: CBS Television, YouTube]

Tuesday

Here’s 16th Avenue at 7.08 pm today. (Sunset is at 7.32 pm).
Green leaf and flower buds are starting to sprout everywhere. These big gnarly trees that have seen many winters, are a little slower to wake up from their slumber.

Monday/ stroopwafels!

The last of my stash of Daelmans stroopwafels (‘syrup waffles’) that I had brought back from the Netherlands. They come in caramel (shown), honey and chocolate. I can buy them online or even in the Cost Plus World Market store here in Seattle, but I will hold off as long as I can before I do that. Lots of sugar in them, and it is almost impossible to eat just one.

It is International Waffle Day.
Money cannot buy happiness, they say .. but money can buy stroopwafels, and is that not the same as happiness?

Sunday/ Denny substation update

I went down to check on the construction of Seattle’s sleek new $209 million substation in South Lake Union today. Its construction has been three years in the making – and its planning much longer than that. Seattle City Light purchased the site from the Greyhound bus company in October 2008.

The work inside the substation is basically done, and the equipment has been energized. The walkways on its perimeter and the little public park are not yet open, though. There is also ongoing work done for building out an underground distribution network, scheduled to be completed in 2020.

Here’s a diagram that shows the incoming transmission lines (green), as well as the power distribution lines (lime green and orange). As substations go, this one is a decent size in terms of capacity, but not as big as a national grid substation. For now its capacity is 50 MVA (Megavolt-Ampere), but this could be increased up to 405 MVA to meet future power demands. The gas-insulated switchgear allowed for a smaller footprint for the substation.
Here’s the ground view from John St, looking toward Denny Way. I believe there is still some artwork that will be installed in the little public park: a 110 ft tall transmission tower-morphed-into-a-tree!
‘Seattle City Light Denny Substation’ says the lettering. This is looking west along John St. Space Needle on the right edge of the picture. The two trucks are parked in front of garage doors that allow maintenance vehicles to go into the substation.
And this will be the entrance to the information kiosk on Denny Way.