Tuesday/ Canoe Pass bridge 🛶

Two two-lane bridges (Canoe Pass Bridge and Deception Pass Bridge) on Washington State Route 20, connect Whidbey Island in Island County, to Fidalgo Island in Skagit County in Washington State.
The bridges opened on July 31, 1935.
[Source: Wikipedia]

These pictures of the Canoe Pass Bridge were all taken from Pass Island, looking south. The pictures were taken around 4.15 pm. The Salish Sea is to the west, and with high tide at about 6.48 pm today, the tide from the Pacific Ocean was still coming in.


Sunday/ it’s a wrap 🪲

The US Open tennis tournament is a wrap*— and I believe this coat with a green sheen, on a Tesla Model Y, is a wrap as well.

*Novak Djokovic (Serbia, 36) beat Danill Medvedev (27) in straight sets in today’s Men’s Singles final. I pay my respects to Djokovic begrudgingly.  I am not a fan of his.

Thursday/ shopping for electronics 📺

I ran out to Best Buy today to pick up one more Google Chromecast*, for the TV in my guest room.

*A device that plugs into the HDMI port of a TV and then creates an on-screen user interface with a range of TV services, for watching shows or movies (such as Netflix, Hulu, or YouTube TV), listening to music (like Spotify or YouTube Music), and more.

Here’s a Jurassic World indoraptor on the shelf, that I made to pose with my Google Chromecast before I walked over to the cash register.
(A metaphor for me? A dinosaur that can still install a little bit of technology in his house 🤗 . )
And here is the mythical, unicorn of a compact camera, the FujiFilm X100V.
It has gotten rave reviews and gold star ratings from camera experts, but has forever been sold out in stores, and online. (Forever= for more than three years).
I never did get to see one on the shelf in any of the camera stores in Tokyo.
Best Buy does not have any in stock either (of course not), but hey, at least one can hold it and fiddle with the buttons and settings.

Caturday 😼

I found this feline at the West Exit of Shinjuku Station in Tokyo during my recent visit there (stills from a giant video screen).

The entrance to the Studio Alta building right next door is one of world’s famous rendezvous points.
Some 3.6 million people pass through Shinjuku Station every single day.

Saturday/ good-bye to Tokyo 😘

I am at Haneda airport— ready for the flight back to Vanouver (9 hours), and then on to Seattle (45 mins). I had a wonderful time, but I am looking forward to the cooler weather that seems to persist this summer in the Pacific Northwest.

Here’s a view from the little driverless train on the Yurikamome Line (it opened in 1995) that runs across Odeiba, an artificial island close to the shoreline in Tokyo Bay. The 6-car train runs on a double track and 600 V 50 Hz 3-phase alternating current.
Look for the little Statue of Liberty in the second picture (on Odeiba). In the background is the Rainbow Bridge that opened in August 1993, so just about 30 years old.

Thursday/ built for speed 🚅

We did a quickie return trip today on the shinkansen from Shinagawa Station to Shin-Yokohama Station, and back.
It took all of 11 minutes to get there.
It would easily take twice that amount of time with the regular train— or by car.

This is the Nozomi N700— the ‘New 700’ series that had gradually replaced the 300, 500 and 700 series sets.
(The N700S entered service in 2020 with plans to eventually replace all N700-series trains).
This train is operated with 8 cars per train set, and it has a maximum speed of 300 km/h (186 mph). The N700 also accelerates more quickly than the older 700 series trains, with a maximum acceleration rate of 2.6 km/h/s.
That means it could attain its top speed of 300 km/h in just under two minutes.

Thursday/ Yodobashi camera 📸

I checked in at the Yodobashi Camera store in Akihabara today.
(No, I have not bought a new camera yet).
The store is a giant department store for all things technology, office, home appliances, home decor, toys & games, entertainment, and even more.

There it is, the technology and toy emporium (my view of it, at least) that goes by Yodobashi-Akiba, in Tokyo’s buzzing shopping hub for geeks— Akihabara.
Fans of all shapes and sizes on the main entrance display board— today was still hot, but bearable at 31 °C (88 °F).
Nice .. a kit for brewing one’s own beer and ciders and other fermented concoctions. Kirin is a Japanese beverage company.
These colored LED lighting tubes look almost neon tubes. (The iPhone camera sensor could not quite capture the colors from the tubes).
Back at the hotel and a check of the parking lot reveals the first Tesla that I have spotted in the city. There are not many Teslas in Tokyo, or even in all of Japan (only some 5,000 were sold last year). EV sales are still only 2% of the domestic market here, and the top seller is a little Nissan microcar called the Sakura. I looked in vain for a little Tesla toy model in Yodobashi, but there was none.
Another view from my hotel room window: the construction cranes used for erecting the Takanawa Gateway City apartment and office blocks.
Just an interesting gate on my walkabout near the hotel in Shinagawa.
No smoking and no flicking of cigarette butts. I wonder if the sign actually stops any scofflaws from doing that. If you go out early in the morning, you are sure to see people (volunteers in many cases, I’m sure) picking up anything down to cigarette butts from the streets.
A parking lot with exactly two parking bays. I love it.

Tuesday/ where is Titan? 🚁

The craft submerged Sunday morning, and its support vessel lost contact with it about an hour and 45 minutes later, according to the Coast Guard.
The vessel was reported overdue about 435 miles (700 kilometers) south of St. John’s, Newfoundland, according to Canada’s Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The Titan was launched from an icebreaker that was hired by OceanGate and formerly operated by the Canadian Coast Guard. The ship has ferried dozens of people and the submersible craft to the North Atlantic wreck site, where the Titan has made multiple dives.
The U.S. Coast Guard said Tuesday afternoon that the submersible had about 40 hours of oxygen remaining, meaning the supply could run out Thursday morning.
– Reported by AP News

There are five people on the vessel: OceanGate Inc. founder Stockton Rush, British businessman Hamish Harding, father-and-son Shahzada Dawood & Suleman Dawood from Pakistan, and former French navy officer Paul-Henry Nargeolet.

Update Thu 6/22:
Headlines from the New York Times—
After days of searching, no hope of finding survivors remains.
Debris suggests 5 aboard submersible were lost in ‘catastrophic implosion’.

Map and reporting from the New York Times.
Pictures from the New York Times.

Friday/ the glow of neon 🌈

These pictures are all from inside the National Neon Sign Museum in the former Elks Building in the heart of The Dalles downtown historic district.
The museum narrates the evolution of the electric sign, from pre-electric and gold leaf signage to the invention and widespread use of neon signs.
It houses one of the largest collections of neon storefront signs in the world.
Yes, neon signage has been in decline the last few decades, but many cities are now concerned with preserving and restoring their antique neon signs.

Fun fact— Argon is much more versatile than neon for creating colors, and some 75% of ‘neon’ signs actually has argon in the tubes and not neon. ‘Neon’ is the name that stuck for all signs that use either neon or argon.

That’s David Benko himself in one of the pictures, telling us about the history of neon signs. He established the museum in 2018, and is the curator— with a lifelong passion for collecting neon signs.
The museum has displays that show inventors and their experimentation with electricity in the 1700s and 1800s, the discovery of the noble gases argon (1894) and neon (1898) and a model of the patent for the first neon sign tubes that were created in 1910 by French engineer and inventor Georges Claude (the third picture).
By the end of the Roaring ’20s, most American cities were electrified. Illuminated streets and storefronts lured people into the streets at night time. The commercialization of neon signs took off in the 1930s after the Great Depression.

Thursday/ driving back 🚘

It’s about a 4 hour drive without stops and without heavy traffic. There was a lot of traffic north of Olympia and around Tacoma, and with the stops we made the total trip time was closer to 6 hours.

We drove back to Seattle via Interstate 5 on Thursday, and stopped at two superchargers on the way: the one at Hood River and the one at Chehalis.

Interstate 84 out of The Dalles runs through the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic area, offering beautiful views of the cliffs and forests along the river.

The Dalles is one of Oregon’s most historical cities and was known earlier in its history as the town at the end of the Oregon Trail. This is The Dalles City Hall building. The two-story structure with basement on a stone foundation was built in 1908 at a cost of about $30,000.
At the Hood River supercharger station off Interstate 84. There are 8 superchargers, available 24/7, charging at up to 250 kW.  The Hood River Waterfront Park is close by. We saw a few food trucks in an adjacent parking lot, and there is a microbrewery close by.  There are toilets by the windsurfing spot on the banks of the Columbia river.
Charging time of 11 mins remaining (of 20 mins or so) to continue the trip. Charging at 86 kW to add 149 miles of range. Current range is 218 miles. The charge limit is still set to the 92% I had set at home when I left, but it is unnecessary and unproductive to charge up to that level at this charger. The battery is not a gas tank that you fill up to the brim with gas. After 2 hours of driving from here we are going to make another stop (at a charger), and and add more miles again, there.
A bit of a walk from the Hood River supercharger, there is a famous (world-famous?) wind-surfing spot on the banks of the Columbia River. We are still on the Oregon side.
Here’s the new-ish (less than 6 months old, I think) supercharger at Chehalis off Interstate 5, also with 8 superchargers, available 24/7, up to 250 kW. There are several restaurants and stores across the street, within walking distance, which is great. It’s just not a closed lot, and one has to watch for other cars that come by, driving through.
Across from the Tesla chargers is a row of chargers from EVgo— one of several other EV charging station operators in North America. Tesla is still ‘leading the charge’, with its installed network of superchargers. Beginning in early 2024, owners of Ford and G.M. electric vehicles will be able to buy adapters to connect to Tesla fast chargers. In 2025, both companies plan to sell vehicles designed to use Tesla’s North American plug.

Wednesday/ road trip to Oregon 🚘

It’s over 4 hours’ driving to The Dalles— make it 5 hours, if 2 or 3 stops are made en route.


Three amigos in two Teslas drove down to The Dalles in Oregon on Wednesday.
(Two more amigos were in The Dalles already).

We made stops at Snoqualmie Pass, in Ellensburg, and at the Tesla supercharger station in Yakima.


At the Yakima Tesla Supercharger off Interstate 82.
The supercharger can charge at a rate of up to 250 kW. If I recall correctly— I forgot to take a screen shot of the control panel— my car’s battery was at about 50% of full charge at the start of charging, and the average charging rate achieved was 80 kW. We stayed for no more than 20 minutes, and my bill for the charging came to $13.34 ($0.44c/ kWh).
The blue Tesla Model 3 and the gray Model Y (further back) made the trip to The Dalles, Oregon. There are 8 charging bays at the Yakima supercharger station.
Our lodging for the overnight stay: Cousin’s Country Inn in The Dalles, Oregon.
A giant weather vane at the entrance of Bargeway Pub on the banks of the Columbia River in The Dalles, Oregon.
Hollyhocks (Alcea rosea) in the flower garden by the entrance of Bargeway Pub.
The patio at the Bargeway Pub offers a panoramic view of the mighty Columbia River. That’s Washington State on the other side. The ship is the American Jazz* from river cruise ship operator American Cruise Lines, making her way to Portland, Oregon.
*Built in 2020 by Chesapeake Shipbuilding (Salisbury, Maryland, USA) for US$45m. She has 6 decks and 99 cabins.
A view of the cliffs on the opposing river bank. Look for the blue jay perched on the sign.


Monday/ two Porsches 👀

Here’s a gray Porsche Carrera GTS and a white Boxster S, keeping each other company in the bowels of the Amazon Fresh parking garage on Jackson Street today.

These are not EVs— Porsche’s electric cars are the Porsche Taycan (several versions) and the upcoming 2024 Porsche Macan EV (SUV).

Sunday/ more & more EVs around ⚡️

Here’s a Kia EV6—  all the way from Texas— on the streets of Capitol Hill today.

According to the registration data from Experian (via Automotive News), the total number of Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) registrations during the first three months of 2023 amounted to 257,507, which is 63 % more than a year ago and about 7 % of the total market (up from 4.6 % in Q1 ’22).
[Source: InsideEVs.com]

The 2023 Kia EV6 starts at $50k. This could be a rear-wheel or all-wheel drive model— I’m not sure which one.
Car And Driver magazine’s Verdict is ‘Affordable, lively, and easy to live with, the EV6 electric SUV does most everything right’.

Tuesday/ on the ferry ⛴

Here are a few photos that I took while I was on the 11.05 am Kingston-to-Edmonds ferry today.

Shortly after departure, with the Kingston Ferry Terminal on Kitsap Peninsula in the distance.
Sailboat with dinghy in tow, getting towed. Those are Kitsap Peninsula homes in the background.
Here comes the Commander, a passenger-only Kitsap Fast Ferry from Seattle’s Pier 50.
The Commander was built in 2021, and has a cruising speed of 35 knots (top speed 37 knots).
Marine Vessel Spokane is a Jumbo-class ferry servicing the Edmonds-Kingston route. She was built in 1972.
The tug boat is the Ocean Ranger, built in 1990 and sailing under the flag of the USA.
Look for the spec in the sky— possibly a Kenmore Air seaplane.
I am on the Marine Vessel Puyallup, in service since 1999 and a Jumbo Mark-II-class ferry. This ferry and her two sisters MV Tacoma and MV Wenatchee are the largest in the Washington State fleet of ferries.
Mr. Seagull is not perturbed by the ferry’s arrival at Edmonds terminal.

Friday/ a Rivian truck⚡️

I spotted this Rivian R1T in the Amazon Fresh parking garage in Central District.
Only about 21,000 of these electric trucks have been delivered, so it’s still very rare to see one out and about. Rivian’s sole production factory is in Normal, Illinois.
Starting price: US$74,800.
Car and Driver’s verdict: ‘The R1T is the electric pickup truck of the moment, and its engineering is as impressive as its performance’.

Sunday/ a poem about a fossil II 📱

Here it is, an AI*-generated poem about a fossil :
*ChatGPT Mar 23 Version, at https://chat.openai.com/


There was a ‘Regenerate’ button on the side, on which I clicked.
Instantly, a second poem was generated, line by line.
‘Was this better, worse or the same as the first one?’ inquired the AI chatbot.
‘Better’, I said.

Saturday/ the grid needs an overhaul ⚡️

Happy Earth Day.
There is a series of articles on electric grids in a recent Economist news magazine.
The cover says ‘Hug Pylons Not Trees’, recognizing that while it’s good to protect Earth’s resources, it’s not enough. There needs to be a wholesale change in the way we produce energy.

From the magazine:
At present, 62% of the energy delivered as electricity comes from fossil fuels. That has to come down to more or less zero. A lot of its replacement will be in the form of cheap wind and solar, and that presents a serious challenge to grid operators. It means a lot of new connections, which are troublesome. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that renewable installations typically generate less power than steam turbines do. That means more connections per unit of capacity.
As well as adding a great many new connections, grids will also have to change shape. The places best suited to the generation of renewable energy in very large amounts are often not the places where today’s generation is concentrated. So new transmission lines will be needed. And because grids are complicated things, some of these expansions will require compensating changes elsewhere as bits of the grid become congested.


Sunday/ Super Heavy is ready 🚀

“My top hope is please, may fate smile upon us, and we clear the launchpad before anything goes wrong. That’s all I’m asking.”
– Elon Musk

Thirty-three Raptors are installed on Super Heavy on the SpaceX Starship that is set for launch tomorrow morning. (Raptors are the engines, and Super Heavy is the booster for the super-sized rocket).

A major concern is that a problem with one engine could cascade and destroy other engines, part of the vehicle— or even the launchpad. Rebuilding the pad, depending on what happened, could take several months.
[Information obtained from reporting in the Wall Street Journal].

On the left is the SpaceX Starship that sits on the launchpad in Brownsville, Texas. It takes an awful lot of thrust for such a large rocket to break free from Earth’s gravitational pull. (The booster can generate about 1500 tons-force of thrust). To the right is NASA’s Saturn V rocket of 1967-73, and NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket that was launched last year.
Update Mon. 8.20am CDT: The launch was scrubbed due to a pressurization issue with the massive Super Heavy booster that could not be resolved before the launch time.
[Picture posted on Monday morning on Twitter @SpaceX]

Wednesday/ arrival in Seattle 🛬

We landed at 12.00 pm— 20 minutes early, so we had to wait for our space at the gate to open up.
Then at baggage claim it took a while for the luggage to come out— but after that it was smooth sailing to clear customs.
I just had to stop at the Global Entry* kiosk for a face picture, and stand for a minute in a short line to show my passport to the customs official.

*A Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States.

At Frankfurt Airport, the ‘Queen Of The Skies’ (Boeing 747-8) called ‘Niedersachsen’  is following us, getting into position for her take off to San Francisco.
At 39,000 ft, and just entering into Canada’s airspace, with about 4 hours of the 9 hours of flight time left.
Over Canada, with about 2 hours of flying time left.
Our plane is an Airbus A330-300 (twin jet).
At Seattle-Tacoma airport, a United Airlines Boeing 737 jet is getting pushed back for its take-off to Denver.
This wide-angle view is from the new skybridge, on the way to the international arrivals baggage claim & arrival hall. (Mount Rainier, visible from on the other side of the skybridge on a clear day, was obscured by clouds).