Friday/ coming up roses 🌹

You’ll be swell! You’ll be great!
Gonna have the whole world on a plate!
Starting here, starting now,
honey, everything’s coming up roses!
– From Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics for Everything’s Coming Up Roses, written for the 1959 Broadway musical Gypsy.

Happy Friday.
It’s Memorial Day weekend here in the US.
It’s been a while, but the little rose bush in my front yard has roses again.

Thursday/ another credibility implosion ☄️

So Nikki Haley* will vote for Trump, she said on Wednesday. She had called him ‘bad’, ‘unqualified to be President’, ‘do not trust him’ blah blah blah.

She didn’t bother to wait for the outcome of Trump’s first criminal trial— 34 felony counts over allegations that he falsified business records to conceal a $130,000 hush-money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election. (Closing arguments for Trump’s case are on Tue May 28 and then the case goes to the jury).

*Former governor of South Carolina, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in the Trump administration, and the last remaining challenger to Trump in the 2024 Republican primaries until she dropped out of the race after Super Tuesday in March.

Cartoon by Michael Ramirez/Las Vegas Review-Journal for The Washington Post.

Wednesday/ rain ☔

We had more than a half inch of rain in the city yesterday, which is a lot for a single day in May.
A tornado struck the small town of Greenfield in Iowa on Tuesday, killing several people and destroying a large part of the town of 2,000 inhabitants.
Elsewhere, across the Great Plains and the US Midwest, there has already been extensive damage from tornadoes this year.

Tuesday/ stamp of the day ✉️

I bought this single stamp from a seller in Canada.
It’s the highest value stamp (10 shillings) in the series known as the 1927-1930 London Pictorials; the last South African stamps printed in London.
(After that stamps were printed in South Africa).
The Afrikaans-English se-tenant (joined) stamp pairs are very expensive (up to $200), but the single ones are $10 or so.
I’m still looking for an English one with ‘SOUTH AFRICA’ inscribed at the top.

From the 1927-1930 London Pictorials
Issued 1927, Mar. 1
Perf. 14 | Engraved printing | Wmk. Multiple springbok’s heads
29 16 | 10sh | Bright blue and brown |  Cape Town, Table Mountain and Table Bay
[Source: 2016 Stanley Gibbons Stamp Catalogue for Commonwealth & British Empire Stamps 1840-1970)
My notes: The prominent white tower might be Mouille Point Lighthouse— built in 1842 but demolished in 1908. To its right and further back would be Cape Town City Hall, a large Edwardian building built from honey-colored oolitic limestone imported from Bath in England, and located on the Grand Parade.
It was completed in 1905 and is still there today.

Sunday/ no turns! ⬆️

I walked by the East Madison St – 14th Avenue intersection this afternoon where my Tesla’s Full Self-Driving (Supervised) function made a boo-boo yesterday (just to check it out again).

The green light shapes are ‘Straight Ahead’ arrows, and there is a NO TURNS sign on the beam as well.

Even so, as the car approached the intersection from Madison Street, the FSD turned on the turn signal, and turned left onto 14th Avenue.
There was no oncoming traffic, and I should have tapped the brake or held the steering wheel (to override the FSD controls) to keep going straight.


Saturday/ 44 years ago 🌋

Today marks the 44th anniversary of the 1980 Mt St Helens eruption.

‘We know that Mount St. Helens is the volcano in the Cascades most likely to erupt again in our lifetimes. It is likely that the types, frequencies, and magnitudes of past activity will be repeated in the future. However, neither a large debris avalanche nor a major lateral blast like those of May 18, 1980 is likely now that a deep crater has formed’.
– Cascades Volcano Observatory, Mount St. Helens, Nov. 3, 2023 (from the website)

Mount St. Helens prior to the catastrophic eruption of May 18, 1980. Streams and lava flows also visible. View is looking southerly from oblique aerial view. Mount Hood in distance.
[Photo and description from website]
Plinian eruption column from May 18, 1980 Mount St. Helens. Aerial view from the Southwest.
[Photo and description from website]

Friday/ here’s Dow 40,000 📈

Happy Friday.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 40,000 for the first time today.
Is the US stock market overvalued? I asked the AI chat bot Chat GPT.
Yes— by a lot, was the answer (with some caveats, see below).

Thursday/ mail from Great Britain 🇬🇧

Mail from Great Britain with Sherlock Holmes stamps on the outside, and South African stamps inside, arrived yesterday.

I am hounding down the last ones I need to complete my Union of South Africa (1910-1961) collection.

Sherlock Holmes: Centenary of the Publication of The Final Problem.
Issued 1993, Oct. 12
Perf. 14×14½ Phosphorized paper
Colors: blue, greenish yellow, magenta, black & gold
1785 1112 24p The Hound of the Baskervilles
1786 1113 24p The Six Napoleons
[Source: Stanley Gibbons Stamp Catalogue Part I British Commonwealth Volume 1]

Wednesday/ look Ma, (almost) no hands 👐

Tesla enabled a 30-day trial for me on my Model 3, of the car’s Full Self-Driving (Supervised) ability.

FSD (Supervised) means the car can drive itself to almost any address with lane changes, fork selections, navigate around other vehicles and objects, and make left and right turns at traffic lights and four-way stops. The driver is still responsible for all driving and need to be able to intervene at all times, though.

Driving with FSD turned on is very impressive— and a little hair-raising at times. FSD is instantly disengaged if the driver taps the brakes or hold the steering wheel to override what the car does.

Here’s 15th Avenue East on Capitol Hill (in Seattle), across from Volunteer Park.
I have my hand on the steering wheel, but the car is driving itself at 23 mph towards an address on Roosevelt Way in U-District, sticking to the 25 mph speed limit and reading all the road signs and steering clear of obstacles and other cars. The car’s cameras picked up the pedestrian on the sidewalk up ahead in the shadows (shown as a speck on the left on the screen). If there were pedestrians in the cross-walk or about to enter the crosswalk, it would have stopped in good time. As I passed the white car parked up ahead on the right, a careless driver flung open his door into the street to get out of his car. My car gave him a wide berth, going into the open lane as there was no oncoming traffic. (It would have stopped or completely slowed down if there were oncoming traffic).
There are three general settings for the FSD function: Chill, Average or Aggressive. Average is probably were one wants to be. Chill might frustrate drivers behind you, or at intersections (the car will react with more caution, and wider margins of safety).
I am not sure how aggressive ‘Aggressive’ is, and I don’t particularly want to find out by driving the car with an aggressive FSD attitude! 😱

Tuesday/ planet Mars 🛰️

Here is a new image of the Martian surface, taken by the Perseverance rover.
The atmosphere of Mars is much thinner than Earth’s.
The Red Planet’s atmosphere contains more than 95% carbon dioxide and much less than 1% oxygen.
Gravity on Mars is about 38% of the gravity of Earth, due to its smaller mass.

Picture posted by Curiosity @MAstronomers on X

Monday/ the magic is back 🪄

Packets of zeroes and ones* started coming in through the fiber optic modem into my house again this morning (a technical way to say my internet service has been restored).

I can again watch TV & tennis & Netflix on the big screen downstairs (instead of on my phone).
I could download and install iOS 17.5 for my iPhone and iPad,  and watchOS 10.4.
I regained remote control of the thermostat, the garage door, and the car in the garage.
It’s also sooo much nicer to use the 24-in. computer monitor upstairs to search for stuff on Amazon— or for stamps on Ebay.

*IPv4 was the first internet protocol deployed for production on SATNET in 1982, and on the ARPANET in January 1983.
It is still used to route most internet traffic today, even with the ongoing deployment of Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6), its successor.

Saturday/ the northern lights

We were treated to a rare display of the northern lights here from Seattle on Friday night.
I took the first two pictures from my back porch around midnight on Friday.
The third picture was taken by my friend Thomas from Kitsap Peninsula. Look for the grouping of stars called the Big Dipper (a big ladle, left-of-middle, top of picture).

Friday/ lost in cyberspace 👨‍🚀

Happy Friday.
Joe Biden arrived in Seattle late in the afternoon.
I hope he raises lots of money for his campaign because he might (will?) need it.

I have had no internet all day, and it is still out. (There is an outage in my neighborhood).
Plan B is to use my mobile phone as a hotspot, which I did, until AT&T texted me late morning and said I had used 75% of my hotspot data for the month.
I guess I will go read  a book now and go to bed early.

YouTube letting me know that I am offline. Yes, that’s how it feels.

Thursday/ a jaunt to downtown 🏙

I had lunch at the Washington Athletic Club on Sixth Avenue today, and then stopped by the Seattle Public Library.

Beautiful blue skies and 74°F (23 °C) is what we had today here in the city.
Fifteenth Ave E where I had planned to depart from is in rough shape, and the No 10 bus stop by Republican St is non-existent for now. (I walked down to the corner of 15th and John to the next stop).
Now entering downtown on the No 10 bus, and here is the new part of the expanded Seattle Convention Center.
This lovely lounge is on the second floor in the US Bank Building, part of the whole Cedar Hall public space renovation there. (Not many people around, and the vendor spaces for espresso and pastry shops downstairs are still mostly empty).
Done with lunch and now I’m making my way to the Seattle Central Library.
This is the IBM Building at 1200 Fifth Avenue, designed by renowned architect Minoru Yamasaki in 1964. The 20-story building features twelve stone arches, an elegant spiral staircase and a glass-enclosed and newly renovated, modern lobby.
Another view of the arches of the IBM Building. That’s Fifth Avenue ahead.
Seattle Public Library building with its 11 floors, and glass and steel ‘diamonds’ exterior, opened to the public 20 years ago, on May 23, 2004.
I always feel compelled to take a picture when I take the escalator upstairs with the neon lighting and neon-yellow paint.
I spent a little time going back in time (to the 50s, 60s and 70s) by checking out a few vintage magazines on Level 6 of the Books Spiral (a walkway that spirals from one floor to the next at almost imperceptible incline, with access to rows of bookshelves).

Wednesday/ snack time

From today’s Seattle Times
Photographer: Robert Denney
Photo taken: March 30, 2024, at the Center for Urban Horticulture wetlands, near Husky Stadium.
Photographer’s description: “Herons are great. I came upon this heron at the Center for Urban Horticulture. He/she let me get pretty close, and we bonded. It fished while I photographed. In the span of about an hour, it got a pretty good meal of three or four little fish. The center is a lovely place to roam and see birdlife.”

Tuesday/ Loeloeraai 🛸

Hey! Amazon opened its online doors in South Africa today.
The Books section has a language filter— necessary for a country with 11 official languages.
I searched for Afrikaans books, and specifically for the beloved Afrikaans poet and author C.J. Langenhoven (1873-1932).
I did find the book Loeloeraai, but right now it is out of stock on

Loeloeraai (say ‘lu-lu-rye’) was published in 1923. (This the cover of a modern reprint of the book).
It is believed to be the very first Afrikaans science fiction novel. Most of the colorful characters in the book are from Langenhoven’s other books: Kerneels, Vroutjie (‘wifey’), their daughter Engela, his uncle Stoffel, his brother-in-law Watwo, Herrie (Kerneels’s tame elephant) and Jakhals (Kerneels’s dog).
The other main character is Loeloeraai— an unexpected visitor from Venus that lands at Kerneels’s homestead on his farm.
At first, Kerneels is very leery of the alien, but realizes over time that Loeloeraai has no ill intentions. (Other humans that learn of Loeloeraai wants the alien locked up in jail).
Loeloeraai’s visit is ostensibly to learn more of Earth, but the alien’s interaction with humans educate them about their greed, self-interest and cruelty.
The novel illustrates what was known of the universe at the time, and also what was still unknown.

Monday/ another day in court 👨🏽‍⚖️

Reporting from Jonathan Alter, Contributing Opinion Writer for the New York Times:
At the end of the day, the judge asked Josh Steinglass of the prosecution team how much longer he expected the D.A.’s case to take.
When Steinglass said “very roughly” two weeks — to May 21 — I saw Trump raise and lower his arms in exasperation, like a 6-year-old told to clean up his Legos.
Then he went into the hallway and whined to reporters, “I thought they were finished today.”
Trump never thought anything of the kind.
He’s a caged animal (to use his word for immigrants) and wants out ASAP.
Good luck with that.

Donald Trump’s son Eric watches his father speak to the media at Manhattan criminal court on Monday.
[Picture by Brendan McDermid/Pool/Reuters/AP]
From the Washington Post: New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan made it clear to Trump that his 10th gag order violation — which he ruled on at the start of Monday’s court session — was going to be the last that would result in only a fine. “Going forward, this court will have to consider a jail sentence. The last thing I want to do is put you in jail.”