Tuesday, June 26, 2007

SLU Neighborhood

Every so often, it comes to folks' attention that the South Lake Union community is undergoing major change. Today, it is a front-page story in the P-I.

I work at the University of Washington building at 9th and Mercer. When our lab moved here two and a half years ago, there was a 'vision' for SLU to be a biotech hub where scientists, grad students and biotech employees would all live and work. The only way students will be able to live here is if we bring cots into the lab!

SLU is turning into a nice neighborhood, and it will be nice to have a mixed tech-residential- commercial neighborhood. UNLIKE Belltown, Cappy Hill and the Central District, there are new businesses AND new residences moving in. This of course all comes at the expense of the poor, who were shut out of their low-rent apartments 5 years ago. Amazon.com replaces Pearl Jam. Yuppie replaces starving artist.

Ahhh... Progress!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Cubs Sweep Sox

Worthy of a post here is that the Chicago Cubs (the good guys) beat the Chicago White Sox (the guys in black or something) three times this weekend. For those unaware, this phenomenon of winning all three games of a series is called a sweep. In case you need to know more and don't already, here's the obligatory hyperlink to another story.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Urban Coyotes

Two days of the last week, my wife and I have spotted coyotes near our Seattle apartment unit. She saw a group of three near our parking lot and together we saw one on the drive up to our building. It makes me really happy that there are predators in our neighborhood. Of all the mammalian predators, coyotes are the most likely to inhabit urban areas. Here are some specifics about them from Wikipedia:

Size and appearance: A member of the dog family, it stands about 24 inches at the shoulder, weighs 20-25 pounds and is 3.3 to 4.3 feet long, including its roughly footlong tail. The fur is long, coarse and generally grizzled, buff above and whitish below. It has reddish legs and a bushy, black-tipped tail. There is considerable local variation in size and color.

Characteristics: Noted for nightly serenades of short yaps and mournful howls, it is primarily nocturnal and hunts alone or in relays. Coyotes are intelligent animals with a reputation for cunning and swiftness. They can sometimes attain a speed of 40 mph. They virtually never attack humans.

How do they survive in Seattle, and why are they in our backyard? Our apartment abuts on one side with a golf course where coyotes have frequented for 20 years, and the other side consists of sloping brush down to the Burke-Gilman trail. Just beyond the trail is an old military base now called Magnusen Park. Coyotes love to den in ravines, and there are several near our place. They eat rodents and small pets - both menu items abound in Seattle. My guess is that they use the Burke-Gilman trail as a conduit. The wildlife service estimates that there are thousands of coyotes in King County.

I will be looking forward this summer to nightly serenades of short yaps and mournful howls.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Vanilla Orchid

I can taste the ice cream already!

For those that do not know it, my wife Susan keeps a nice population of orchids in our home. Occasionally they bloom, and it's a real treat when that happens. You may know that most orchids are epiphytic, meaning they grow without soil. The vanilla bean orchid however, grows in soil and forms a long vine. Susan's mom (in Hawaii) has one that is probably 15 meters long. (We got its clone a couple of years ago.) The Kailua mother plant has started to bloom! Evidently, it blooms at night and is only open for a short time. Susan's mom and sister have started artificially pollinating the blooms in hopes of getting a bean. It's a good thing they have the green thumbs.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Summer In Seattle

The 4 month stretch of sunny 70 degree days without a cloud in the sky that defines the Seattle summer started 5 days ago.

Shhhh.... don't tell anyone that it really doesn't rain that much in Seattle!