Thursday, January 31, 2019

Miscellaneous Notes - Rams' Male Cheerleaders, Peter's "Nights At The Brazen Huskey" and Travel Shots

1.  Rams' Cheerleaders - An LA Times story this morning highlighted Quinten Peron  and Napoleon Jinnies, the NFL's first two male cheerleaders, and next Sunday, the first two male cheerleaders in the Super Bowl.
"Last March, during open cheerleading tryouts, Peron and Jinnies showed up out of nowhere.
Peron is a professional dancer and choreographer who got the idea while watching a Lakers game.
“I’m looking down at the Laker Girls and I thought, ‘Why can’t I do this?’ ” he said.
Jinnies is a professional dancer and makeup artist who got the idea from friends dancing alongside him during a Disneyland show.
“We were just casually talking about auditions and I thought, ‘Why not just show up?’ ” he said.
In the Rams’ two previous seasons since their return to Los Angeles, no males had tried to make the cheerleading team. But there has never been a rule against it.
“He came home one day and said he was trying out for the Rams cheerleaders and I’m like, ‘They’ll let you do that?’ ” said Peron’s mother, Sherry. “He said, ‘It doesn’t say I can’t.’ So I said, ‘Go for it!’ ”
The men drew long looks when they showed up among 300 or so hopefuls, but their dancing and interviewing skills quickly won over Rams officials and their future teammates.
'They’re not just incredible men, they’re incredible people,” said Sarah
Scheade, one of the team’s five captains. “We thought it would be so special if they could represent our city.'”
I tried to find video of them performing - this one seemed to have the most of that, though not enough.  Also, its ad can be skipped after 4 seconds.

The Rams cheerleaders is not a topic I ever thought I'd post about.  In the big scheme of things, this is not a that big a deal - say like climate change or the Mueller investigation - but it sounds like these two have already become role models for many young male dancers.

2.  Nights at the Brazen Huskey
You can read Chapter 1 of Peter Dunlap-Shohl's new graphic novel "Nights at the Brazen Huskey" at
this Frozen Grin website.  Peter's previous book was his incredible adventure story of dealing with the villain PD (Parkinson's Disease.)

3.  SF-Seattle Shots - Mt Rainer Still Stands And The Sun Still Sets

After taking our grandson to pre-school yesterday, we headed for BART and the SFO airport to get back to Seattle for more time with our granddaughter here.  We flew out over Oakland.

That's Lake Merritt (the upper body of water.

And Mt Rainier still towers over the Washington landscape.

Here are two shots of downtown Seattle - one from the plane as it circled around to land from the north - and one from the ferry.  If you look closely at the aerial view, you can see the dock with two ferries about the middle on the right, and the ferris wheel a little below it.  (You may have to double click to enlarge and sharpen the image.)

From the ferry, the ferris wheel is pretty obvious.  I'm not happy about the reflected lights in the ferry window, but couldn't angle my way around them.  But this picture shows more of downtown to compare to the aerial photo.
The long gray line along the waterfront is the Alaskan Way viaduct - a highway that is being torn down 'early 2019'.  It's being replaced by a tunnel which will be open for people to walk in this Saturday.  Tickets are available online for free for the two mile walk.  From Engineering News-Record (ENR) Northwest:
"Seattle residents will get the opportunity to celebrate their new tunnel Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 2-3, and get one last chance to check out the Alaskan Way Viaduct, which will be fully removed in the coming months.
Washington State Dept. of Transportation has spent years leading the effort to build the nearly 2-mile-long State Route 99 tunnel under downtown Seattle and erase the need for the viaduct, considered seismically vulnerable. Now, on the eve of the tunnel opening to vehicle traffic, WSDOT has an entire weekend of festivities planned.
Saturday includes an 8K fun run, tunnel walk, family-friendly STEM activities and a community celebration and art festival on the viaduct. Sunday features a bike ride through the tunnel. Some events require tickets."
From the air again, looking straight west, from the water's edge out toward the Olympic range, it was looking out any time in the last ten thousand years - no sign of modern life at all.

And at the end of the ferry ride, we were welcomed by a fiery red sunset.  I tried to catch it with my iPhone camera, but it came out pale compared to the real thing.  (I know how I could have gotten it more accurately on my little Canon Powershot, but not on the iPhone.)  But I got it back closer to what it really looked like using iPhoto, though it was more red than orange.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Golden Gate Park's Japanese Garden Tells Tales Of What Immigrants Add To US And The Waste Caused By Xenophobia

We ended up at the Japanese Garden after dropping off our grandson at his pre-school.  Our timing was great - as we walked in Mary Ann Provence was about to start a tour of the garden and invited us to join.  There were six of us altogether.

From the garden's website (and covered in Mary Ann's talk):

"Originally created as a “Japanese Village” exhibit for the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition, the site originally spanned about one acre and showcased a Japanese style garden.  When the fair closed, Japanese landscape architect Makoto Hagiwara and superintendent John McLaren reached a gentleman’s agreement, allowing Mr. Hagiwara to create and maintain a permanent Japanese style garden as a gift for posterity.  He became caretaker of the property, pouring all of his personal wealth, passion, and creative talents into creating a garden of utmost perfection.  Mr. Hagiwara expanded the garden to its current size of approximately 5 acres where he and his family lived for many years until 1942 when they, along with approximately 120,000 Japanese Americans, were forced to evacuate their homes and move into internment camps.  When the war was over, the Hagiwara family was not allowed to return to their home at the tea garden and in subsequent years, many Hagiwara family treasures were removed and new additions were made."
It's all in there - Makoto Hagiwara's great contribution and then his forced evacuation due to xenophobia in 1942.  They even changed the name to Oriental Gardens in WW II and it wasn't until many years later it became the Japanese Garden again.

The rock is the head of a dragon - the hedge winds on up the hill with a rock tail.

Rocks are a key foundation of Japanese gardens. They give it structure, we were told.  Trees and flowers come and go, but rocks stay.  Other aspects - water, walks, fish.  There might have been one or two more.  Oh, yes, bridges.

Most of the paths were gravel, but this stone path, our guide pointed out, was to force you to slow down as you approach the zen meditation garden.

Here the gravel is sculpted to look like ripples in water.  You're supposed to look at it, not walk in it.  But the squirrels, she said, don't follow the rules.

The free tour was one of many offered by San Francisco City Guides.  They do give you the chance to make a donation at the end, but there's no pressure.

Mary Ann was a great guide and she also gave us a great tip - next door at the DeYoung Museum you can go to the top of the 9 story tower to the observation room which is floor to ceiling glass windows all the way around.  That part of the museum is free.  And the view is stunning.  My camera could not in any way capture it, but here's a couple of glimpses.

To the north.

To the northeast.

And here's the tower from in front of the Cal Academy of Science where I checked out the earthquake simulation room Sunday.  If you look closely (or click on the picture to enlarge it) you can see people in the observation room on the top level.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Gramping, Comparing Earthquakes, And Lunching With An Old Friend

Yesterday I took my grandson to the California Academy of Science.

I wanted to do a redo of their earthquake reenactment room.  I'd been there with him before.  I didn't
Earthquake Simulation Room Cal Academy
remember it being very scary at all.  Certainly not like November 30 quake in Anchorage a couple of months ago which shook us back and forth for 30 minutes.

So I wanted to go back and compare it to our recent quake.  Well, it did shake about as much as the quake we were in.  But it doesn't give you a sense of a real earthquake.  It's a small room like in a house, but there are hand rails to hold onto all around.  You know what's going to happen.  There are other people in the room with you.  It shook back and forth mimicking the 1989 quake, and then the 1906 quake.

But this was more like the entertainment of an amusement park ride.  You go there to experience it.  It is different when it arrives announced in your own house or office or elsewhere in your environment and starts up and you have no idea how much bigger it's going to get or how long it's going to last and whether your house is going to hold together.

So, yes, physically, you get a sense of an earthquake in this room.  But psychically, not at all.    We went on to watch the Foucault Pendulum knock over a couple of pegs and then to the rain forest.

There's the several story netted rainforest with lots of tropical butterflies and there are smaller exhibits along the path that winds up to the top.   Like the one that held this bright green lizard.

Then at the top, you take an elevator down and you end up below the water at the bottom of the rainforest.

It was great to be on an adventure with my grandson, just the two of us.  And there were plenty of other grandparent/grand child visitors there too.

Today, after dropping him off at his pre-school we stopped at a great little  hardware store in Japan Town, but they didn't have the Chinese picture hanger I was looking for.  But they have so many interesting things.

A bit later we went for lunch with PK who was in my Peace Corps group.  In fact he was the closest volunteer to my town.  Except that there were no roads between his town and mine.  You had to wander by motorcycle through the rice paddies to connect.

We passed this bear gargoyle on the way to meeting him and his partner.

P was in the hotel business in San Francisco for many years so he took us to a couple places we never would have found.  First, to eat at Belden Place.

From Wikipedia
"Belden Place itself is a one-lane, one block long street running south from Pine Street to Bush Street, parallel to and in between Montgomery and Kearny streets, immediately south of the Bank of America tower. It is roughly between Chinatown and the Financial District.
In 1990, restaurateurs Olivier Azancot and Eric Klein opened Cafe Bastille, the mainstay that set the modern tone for the area. The French, Italian, and Catalan establishments are popular with locals, tourists, and office workers, and are generally considered on par with the city's best casual full-service European restaurants.[3] Notable restaurants in the alley itself include Sam's Grill, Cafe Bastille, Cafe Tiramisu, Plouf, B44, Belden Taverna, and Brindisi Cucina di Mare. Nearby are Café de la Presse (though modest and unassuming, a favorite hangout of the city's political and social elite) and Le Central. Also nearby are the Alliance Française, the French consulate, and the Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church (where mass is still celebrated in French) and an affiliated elementary school. In the vicinity are several other restaurants, cafes, hotels and other French-related institutions along Bush Street and Claude Lane, another nearby alley.[2]"

 In summer the canopies are gone, but it was a nice day and we sat under the canopy and had a delicious Italian lunch at Tiramisu.  (After the yellow tarps.)

Then to see the courtyard at the Palace Hotel.

From the Garden Court Restaurant website: 
"When the Palace Hotel opened its doors in 1875, the Garden Court was the carriage entrance to this grand hotel. A parade of famous guests visited San Francisco's Palace and stood in awe of its magnificence.
In 1906, following the earthquake, the Palace closed its doors for the first restoration. Three years later, the carriage entrance was transformed and The Garden Court was unveiled. Since its debut in 1909, The Garden Court has been recognized as one of the world's most beautiful public spaces
With its incredible architecture, dome stained glass ceiling and Austrian crystal chandeliers, The Garden Court became the site for some of the nation's most prestigious events. In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson hosted two luncheons in support of the Versailles Treaty which ended World War I. In 1945, the official banquet honoring the opening session of the United Nations was held in The Garden Court."
P and I first met at Peace Corps training in DeKalb, Illinois in 1966.  We don't see each other often, but it's great when we do.  

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Joel Sartore's Photo Ark

 Here's a post I forgot to put up.  We stopped at the Annenberg Space For Photography when we were in Los Angeles.

These posters were on the street light poles on my bike ride to the beach, but I'd never been to the Annenberg.

This museum is in Century City and is free, but parking is $4.50.  But if you get there after 4:30pm, it's only $1.50.  Since it's a small space and it closes at 6:00pm, there's enough time.

Joel Sartore is the photographer.

The photos are magnificent.  I only had my little camera to take pictures of pictures.  This one is a close up of his photo.

Despite humans' greater abilities to think and communicate, those abilities too often are used to destroy the natural habitats of these animals.  Whether by turning natural spaces - forests, plains, jungles, shorelines, wetlands - into farmland, oil fields,  mines, housing, battlefields, or simply cutting the trees or taking all the fish, we have radically endangered a multitude of species.

And that's not to mention how climate change further threatens the animal world.

This exhibit is a reminder of the mass plundering humans have done and the diversity of amazing animals we're likely going to wipe off the face of the earth.   Sorry this is blurry, but it's all I have of this message.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Sunrise Seattle

We're on the move again.  To help our son with the other grandkids while his wife is traveling for work.  As cool as it is to take the ferry back and forth to Bainbridge Island, it makes the trip to the airport a long one - especially when you have to go early because the next ferry would be cutting it close.  But an advantage of getting up early is the sunrise.

Here's a closer view of downtown Seattle.

These are with the good camera.  We're normally good at keeping our luggage down to a minimum, but this time we worked on getting rid of all unnecessary weight.  So for quick pictures, I'm going to go with the phone.  My Canon Powershot stayed behind.  No books this time.  Some magazines.  We're down to two backpacks and a relatively small duffel bag.  But this is only a short trip - returning Wednesday.

There are repeated announcements for the flight at the gate next to ours.  It's going to Puerta Vallarta and they're calling passengers to check their passports.  The announcement:  "If you hear your name, or something like it, please come to the counter."

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Miscellaneous Bits And Pieces

I've been working on a post in reaction to the Covington High School buzz.  (I'm trying to think of a reasonable name for the many social media/mainstream media phenomena that cause a temporary ringing in our ears, then are gone as something else gets our attention.  This is clearly not a good way to get an understanding of what's happening in the world.  Well, this is my problem.  This parenthetical comment was not what I was writing about, but could become a whole post on its own.  And the Covington post is raising so many issues that I can't tie it all together.  But maybe that shouldn't be my goal, since the world itself is messy.  But the whole point I used to think, was that a blog post should make at least a small part of the universe a little less opaque.)

Also working on the lack of useful instructions for people who sit in the emergency rows in airplanes.

My daughter invited me to her Barrecor exercise class yesterday and it was much easier than the high intensity workout my son took me to three years ago in San Francisco.  After the one - in which I made it through the routines without embarrassing myself - I ached badly for three days.  But today, no new aches or pains.

Today I did a bike ride, which here on Bainbridge Island means lots of ups and downs through big trees.  And water.  There was a raft of water birds at my turnaround spot, and a view of Seattle.

And the sun came out and lit up downtown Seattle across the channel.  Here are two different pictures - one from my old Canon Powershot and the other from my new used iPhone 7.

I like the Canon result better, but maybe it's because I tried to enlarge the iPhone image too much.

Getting good granddaughter time while we're here.

And Murkowski voted to open the government without requiring $5 billion, or is it $7 billion now?

And Dunleavy's new commissioner of administration apparently lied to the a Senate committee about his background.  But, hey guys, he went to a Christian college, that's all Dunleavy had to read.

And finally, I recommend this video be shown at the School Board meeting when they discuss the minimum times kids should get to be at recess and lunch.  Right now it's being whittled down to nothing, which means teachers have kids with way too much unused energy who can't sit still in class.  (I couldn't figure out a way to embed the video itself, so you get the whole tweet.)

So, it's not that I don't have anything to write about, rather there's too much, and I'm trying to write the posts so you can read and get the bigger sense of things.  Not easy.  Remember that once each day ends, it's gone.  So don't complain about waiting in line - take those seconds or minutes and enjoy your life.  Try thinking about something important.  Text your members of congress what you're thinking they should do.  Send a note to someone you care about.

[UPDATE 10:14 pm:  And the ADN had an article today about how three major oil companies have carbon pricing already built into their long term plans, the House has reintroduce a carbon fee and dividend bill, and the Senate is working on one too.  There is good news.  But as Vox notes:
"But what’s gone largely unnoticed is that Exxon’s proposal comes with a massive catch: In exchange for a tax, the company wants immunity from all climate lawsuits in the future."]

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

1964 Alaska Earthquake - I Learn From The Author That A New Book Is Coming Out Soon

I didn't think to take Jon's picture
This profile was  on the edge of
a picture of the children's march.
I also met author Jon Mooallem at the MLK children's march yesterday.

His daughter is a friend of my granddaughter.  It was only later that I realized that I'd crossed paths with Jon before.  We hadn't met, but  I posted about his book Wild Ones:  A Sometimes Dismaying, Weirdly Reassuring Story About Looking at People Looking at Animals in America in December 2017.  I didn't get around to reading the whole book, but I was struck by his observation about how many animals are in kids' lives - in books, on pajamas and sheets and cereal boxes,  or stuffed - yet many are disappearing in the real world.

I probably wouldn't mention meeting Jon, except that he's writing a new book on - Alaskans are you paying attention? - the 1964 Alaska earthquake.  I told him I'd recently read a book on that earthquake, and he said Henry Fountain's book (which I posted about in 2018) came out just as he was submitting his proposal.

The new one will focus more on the three days after the quake, and on Genie Chance broadcasting on KENI that connected Alaskans and communicated to the rest of the world.  There is also a tie-in to social scientists who came to Alaska to study how communities deal with a catastrophe.  And there are other story lines that get followed  - like Frank Brink's AMU production of our town that was scheduled that weekend.

As I was getting more information, I found a 99%Invisible broadcast featuring Jon with a radio spoken drama about the earthquake, which I'm sure was an early presentation of notes Jon had already then put together.  (It's good listening, part of the legacy that This America Life has had on broadcasting story-news. And check out the name of the music group on the show.  A kind of tribute, Jon told me in a followup.)

So this post is a heads-up that there's a new 1964 Alaska earthquake book coming out around the beginning of 2020 (that's only a year away)  and you can get a preview at 99%Invisible.

Here's a bit of the transcript from the 99%Invisible website, but you really should listen to the audio.

JON: And one of KENI’s biggest on-air-personalities was a woman named Genie Chance.
Genie was 37. She’d grown up poor in Bonham, Texas then came to Alaska with her husband a few years earlier looking for opportunity. They only sort of found it, at first. He sold used cars. She watched their three kids at home. But Genie loved radio. So she started working construction every morning, in exchange for childcare. Then she’d go to work all afternoon at KENI.
Back then, women usually covered cooking or fashion. But Genie turned herself into a gutsy roving reporter, driving across Alaska with a mobile radio unit in her car. She flew with smoke jumpers, covered Arctic warfare exercises, reported from Inuit villages and crab boats.
Genie’s voice was part of the city. Everyone in Anchorage trusted her, respected her—and in a way women journalists weren’t always respected in 1964. Later, a New York paper would celebrate her as:
VOICE/ROMAN:“An Alaskan housewife and mother of three children who does a man-sized job with a radio microphone.”

I should have put up a link to Jon Mooallem's website when I first put this up this morning.

Monday, January 21, 2019

MLK Day Spent With Kids Writing Letters To Politicians And Marching To Post Office To Mail Them

I'm near Seattle visiting family and so I want along with my daughter and granddaughter to the  library for an event to honor Martin Luther King and to fulfill his legacy.  It was called the Children's March for Peace and Justice.  From the announcement:
"Honor the vision of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Write letters to the leaders of your choice, asking them to work for peace or thanking them for acts of kindness. Then march to the post office to mail our letters. Bring posters or banners from home. All Ages"

We ended up outside because the main room was so full.  Kids were making signs and writing letters in keeping with the day.  There were cards and envelopes for those who were going to do more drawing than writing, and stationery as well.

Kids were asked what topics they might want to write about and the younger ones did seem to need a little more help.  Here's one asking President Trump to be more kind.

Kids also made signs for the march.  

Eventually, everyone got their signs and letters together and we marched about a mile to the post office.  Here's the tail end of the march.

And, some more, and there were just as many beyond - down the hill.

And finally to the post office - which was closed for the MLK holiday - where people put their letters into the mail box.

I'd note that I try hard not to show faces of kids without parental permission.  So I've smudged all the identifiable faces I saw, and smudged the letter where it had a name on it.

I'd note that as I sat there and watched parents coach little kids about whom to write to and the topics to write about, I thought about conservative groups coaching their kids on anti-abortion messages.  Is this different?  I think it is in some ways and isn't in others.  In both cases, kids are being taught to participate in their democracy - to voice their opinions.  And in both cases, the parents' opinions strongly influence what the kids write.  But what I saw today was more about American values in general - freedom, democracy, tolerance, and peace*.  There was also some environmental ideas including global warming.  There wasn't anything here that advocated for limiting other people's ability to do anything - like control their bodies, like seek freedom and opportunity.  I didn't see any signs that demeaned anyone, instead it was about pushing basic democratic values.

*Given how many years the US has been involved in wars in the last 100 years, I'm not sure that peace is really an American value any more, or if it ever was.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Camera Fun With Lunar Eclipse

I found a great website that gave me exact instructions on how to use my camera to shoot a lunar eclipse in 2014. You can see the eclipse pictures I got then at this link.  (There were three posts that night and there are links to the other two there.)

But that link (to how to shoot an eclipse with a Canon rebel) doesn't work any more.  I learned a bit more tonight about my camera, but not enough.  And my little tripod just isn't steady enough.  But here are some shots.

Sometimes not being able to keep the camera completely still offers more surreal pictures.

Here's the blood red moon in complete shadow.

I did a much better job in 2014 and recommend looking back there.