Weekly Roundup, March 25, 2022

NASA’s new moon rocket was taken out to its launch pad for the first time last week. See article, below.
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Good morning

Last time I wrote, I mentioned I’m moving from Redmond (suburb of Seattle, WA) to Texas, where I’ll be settling in either El Campo or Bay City, two small towns about 75 minutes west of Houston.

It took me only one sentence to share that information.  But accomplishing this move is proving to be difficult every which way.  On the basis that moving is a sort of travel, you might find the next few paragraphs interesting.  If not, skip on, either to some more thoughts about what is happening in Ukraine, or on to the rest of the newsletter.

After visiting the El Campo and Bay City areas, I decided to “go back to my roots” (I come from a radio family and have had various involvements with radio on both sides of the microphone over many decades) and buy two FM radio stations in Bay City, one each from two different sellers.  (I’d mentioned a couple of months ago my plans for a classical music station, and that will be one of the signals on the stations’ extra/spare HD channels.)

I returned back to Redmond on the weekend, and on Monday morning had one of those “we buy your house instantly for cash” type people come around.  Within an hour, we’d agreed on a cash price for the house sale.  He sent me an agreement later that day, I signed and returned it to him, he then signed and returned it to me.  He agreed to pay me the cash on Friday 25 March – today.

An instantly done deal, or so it seemed – I even had penciled in the house I wanted to buy in Bay City.

I immediately started preparing for the move, which I scheduled for Saturday 2 April.  I excitedly told both sellers of the radio stations that my offers were no longer conditional on selling my house.

The next day I discovered that I was misunderstanding the agreement with the buyer of my house.  It referred to being subject to an inspection, and I’d assumed that inspection was what the buyer’s visit was on Monday (because sometimes he’ll make offers on houses, sight-unseen, in which case a subject-to-inspection condition would be appropriate).  But the buyer said the condition applied in my case too, and the agreement had no expiry date for the condition.  I started to worry – had I sold my house or not?

It was Friday of that week that saw me share with you my plans, with a mention of the conditionality of the sale.  Happily on Saturday the buyer agreed the condition had been satisfied and notified me in writing on the Sunday that the deal was now unconditional.

So all seemed wonderful.  I had two radio stations that I was finalizing the purchase of – we’d signed “memorandums of understanding”, I had identified a nice house to move to, and my house was now for-sure sold.  Which brings me to the Monday of the next week, when the broker for one of the two stations told me the seller wanted more money – and not just a little more – about 50% more.  I realized that in telegraphing my eagerness and commitment to the sellers, to keep them positive, I’d committed a blunder; one of the sellers thought I was now “too far in” and that he could take advantage of me.

Of course I refused, but found myself in the awkward situation of having sold my house, having movers coming at the end of March, but with nowhere to go!  Meanwhile, according to Zillow, my house was increasing in value by an astonishing $6,000 every day – money that was not flowing to me because I’d taken myself off “the property ladder”, and each day brought me closer to being “homeless”.

Urgent attempts to re-open other potential radio purchase deals were made with sellers all across the country, and eventually I ended up agreeing with the seller of the second Bay City station to also buy his other station in nearby El Campo.  This was actually a better deal – two FM signals in two different cities, rather than two FM signals in the same city.

So, things seemed to be back to where they should be, and with a better pair of radio stations.

Next was to arrange the move.  This is a non-trivial matter; apart from a short move a couple of blocks, 26 years ago that I easily did on my own, I’ve not moved since coming to the US in 1985, and I’ve way too much “stuff” filling my house.

I’d considered the “Pod” type of concept, where you essentially hire small containers (they look a bit like the LD3 containers loaded onto airplanes) and pack them up yourself, then have them trucked to your destination, at which point you unpack them.  I liked being able to do the packing myself, and I liked being able to have them for as many weeks as I wanted to load them up and subsequently empty them out at a steady pace rather than having to do it all in a day or two.

But it turned out that one company refused to work with me because they don’t serve Bay City and El Campo, and the other company was not only awkward in terms of “the last mile” from a Houston depot to my future home, but also, astonishingly, their cost was much higher than simply getting a traditional moving company to load up a truck in Redmond, drive it to TX, and unload it at the other end.  I’d guessed that the loading/unloading costs that are included in a normal move would greatly increase its cost.

I also looked at the idea of renting a U-Haul truck.  The problem with that was two-fold – first, I don’t think everything I’ll be moving will fit in a single 26′ ft truck (the maximum size any company will rent).  Secondly, after hitching up a car to it as well to tow to TX, it would be so appallingly underpowered as to be agony to drive.  On the plus side, it seemed like the lowest cost, but I’d need to get some men to help me load/unload the truck, and if I couldn’t get everything on one truck, the whole concept crashed and burned.

So I got quotes from lots of traditional moving companies.  Except that, most of the companies are not “traditional” moving companies.  They are intermediary brokers.  They don’t own any trucks themselves, they just exist in the middle, making money by charging clients as much as they can and paying truckers as little as they can.

Many of these companies seem to be of uncertain probity, to put it politely.  Eventually I found one that seemed okay and had a competitive rate.  But their contract was silent on several important matters – they would not guarantee a date they’d deliver my stuff, for example, and they would only quote insurance rates after I’d signed the contract.  Neither of those points was acceptable, so we eventually parted ways, and I am now working with a second company that seems only slightly better than the first.  They’ve promised to pick everything up next Thursday or Friday (which day?) and have quoted me insurance, plus offer a promised delivery date window.

The plan was for Anna (my 17 yr old daughter) and I to drive my two cars down to TX, leaving on Saturday 2 April.  She was not very keen on this – the longest she’d ever driven before was about two hours.  Both of us tried not to dwell on the facts that one of the cars is on its last legs and likely to fail at any moment without warning, and the other hasn’t been driven for more than 100 or so miles a year for the last five years or longer and who only knows what surprises are currently lurking under its hood (when I opened the hood a few years back, the surprise was mice living in the engine compartment!).

And then I realized that the route would take us over a series of mountain passes and extended stretches of high-elevation road – places where snow is still falling, and sometimes heavily.  The Land Rover would probably manage, but the rear-wheel-drive and “summer/sport tires” of the Jaguar would utterly fail.  So we had to re-route a longer route, avoiding higher elevations, but also keeping out of California for the obvious reasons.

Having made several changes to the route, we ended up with a roundabout but seemingly good one, at which point I then had a further epiphany.  Maybe it would be best to have the Jaguar transported down to TX.  It is almost a 2500 mile journey, so the cost of driving that distance, allowing for gas, other consumables, and – most expensive of all, mileage-based depreciation – looked like it would easily exceed $1000, and if we transported the Jag, I could share the driving of the Land Rover with Anna, making it a much better experience for her.

Well.  If dealing with house movers was difficult, dealing with car movers was a whole new level of difficultness (I’m surprised that Spellcheck considers that a word!).  My sense is that there are tens – maybe hundreds – of different brand names for car transporting companies, almost all of them brokers, but many of the different company names and their different phone numbers likely end up in the same call center.  I’ve noticed calling one company that the phone is answered “Moving Company” rather than by the actual name of the company.

I received quotes ranging from $900 to $1900.  Naturally, I chose the $900 one – a guy called me with a story so “old” that it was all I could do not to laugh – “We have a truck in your area at present and it just needs one more car to fill its load, so we can give you a good price”.  I didn’t really care the reason for the price, was simply glad to find a good deal.

But after signing their contract, they went silent on me.  I would occasionally call, and each time I called, the guy was coincidentally “working on your job right now”.  But the mythical truck in my area seemed to have disappeared, although each day he promised firm details of a truck and pickup time later in the day, with the promised details never arising.

Eventually I insisted on specifics, at which point he said he could find a truck, but due to the rising cost of gas and inflation, there was now a problem with the price and it would have to go up a bit.  A “bit” proved to be a leap from $900 to $1600.

I was not surprised by this.  I had suspected they were trying to delay as much as possible, because with each passing day, my options dwindle, and I become more compelled to accept anything at all.

I managed to find another company that is promising it will have the Jaguar collected this afternoon.  I hope that happens!

Meanwhile, I’ve been steadily packing up stuff, like the many CDs and books I own.  My estimate is 180 standard packing cartons of stuff as well as beds, furniture, etc.  I’ve been a bit ambitious with the weight of the boxes I’ve been carrying up the stairs and fear I may have caused severe and lasting injury to my back.

Plus, I discovered today that the packed boxes, stored in my garage, have a problem.  The moist air has soaked into the cardboard, weakening the boxes, and causing the packing tape to come completely unstuck!

So, what else might go wrong?  Well, my house buyer today told me he needed to delay closing until next week because the LLC he formed for this particular transaction is taking longer than normal to be registered by the Secretary of State.  That’s probably the truth, I’m experiencing the same thing with my new Texas LLC, too.  Have you also noticed how government departments have been severely affected by Covid, even while ordinary small businesses have managed to keep on keeping on, the same as always?

I’ve been swinging from perceptions of triumph to perceptions of disaster on a regular basis.  It is terribly vexing.  And so it is perhaps not altogether inappropriate that the final update to share with you is that I’m now going to start the epic journey a day earlier – on Friday next week.  That will be Friday, 1 April.  You know – April Fool’s Day!  Hopefully not a significant choice of day, but at times it sure feels like it.

A mention of swinging between triumph and disaster is probably a good segue into a quick look at Ukraine.  Yes, I know, everyone and their dog are sharing their opinions of the war there, and of course, you can skip on down past this too if you wish.  But there are two points that I think are little appreciated and which need to be clarified.

The first is that our sanctions, so far, have had no impact at all on Russia’s war-fighting.  More to the point, perhaps, they have had no impact on Russia’s domestic situation, either.  If there has been any impact, it has only been to strengthen the Russian resolve.  With Mr Putin having a tight control on the media, the average Russian – and even very well read intelligent ones – are likely to believe without question his version of the story – that he is saving Ukraine from neo-Nazis, and that the west is supporting the neo-Nazis, and vengefully punishing Russia for trying to help Russia’s “fellow Slavs” in Ukraine.

Before you reject that as impossible – before you say that no-one would be that gullible – let me not just point out the many credible accounts that this is indeed the way that most “normal” Russian people are thinking (such as linked above), but also point out to you the mirror image of this – how almost the entirety of the US is eagerly accepting without question the other version of the truth, and our political leaders are censoring the Russian side of things every bit as aggressively as Russia is censoring the west’s story-telling (as obvious example – look what happened to RT.com and its television and other programming).  In reality, neither we in the west, nor Russians in Russia, have any way to independently verify the claims we are being given, and in both cases, we are predisposed to believe the “truths” that our leaders pass to us.

I’m not suggesting that what we are being told are lies, but I am pointing out that the Russian people are doing exactly the same as us -they are rallying to their leadership and to what they see as a noble cause.  Our sanctions, in their mind, “prove” the moral depravity of the west.

As for the oligarchs, I’ve seen headlines gloating about billions of dollars seized from the oligarchs, and stories suggesting they’re about to overthrow Putin in fury at this happening to them.

Maybe they’ve lost billions of dollars, but how many billions of dollars more have they kept?  Remember that this war has been signaled on both sides for several months, and the likelihood of western countries seizing Russian assets has always been very high.  Any sensible oligarch would have repatriated (or shifted to China or other friendly/neutral countries) any and all assets they were keen to keep.

As for the oligarchs overthrowing Putin, they have only become wealthy because of Putin’s grace and favor and forbearance.  They have no grounds for unhappiness – they are in a symbiotic relationship with Putin (for Mr Putin gets a share of their wealth too) and quite clearly understand they are better off with “the devil they know” rather than allowing Mr Putin’s overthrow and having to reconcile with a new leader.

Maybe our sanctions are harming the Russian economy, in the short term.  But they’re also harming our economy, in both the short and long terms.

The second point is to rebut the commonly stated belief that Ukraine is winning the war with Russia (for example this Washington Post piece).  The thing is that Russia’s worst case scenario is a return to the status quo, and its best case scenario is that it gets to keep all of Ukraine.  It has no appreciable downside, just a varying amount of upside.  But Ukraine has a worst case scenario that it is destroyed and made into a part of Russia, while its best cast scenario is a return to the status quo.  Ukraine has no appreciable upside, just a varying amount of downside.

Ukraine has already offered, in its occasional peace talks with Russia, to disarm, to become neutral, and never to join NATO or the EU either (I believe).  So, currently, Russia has both taken substantial chunks of Ukrainian territory and also got the country to walk back some of the key future benefits/protections it most wanted.  Noting how reliable the previous “guarantee of independence” from Russia to Ukraine has proved to be (after Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons) we’d urge Ukraine to think carefully about its offer to become neutral and separate from the west.

Even if Russia moves back to the borders prior to its February invasion, it has also strengthened the status of the Donbass region as a separate state, free of Ukraine (but not free of Russia), and similarly, has held on to its takeover of the Crimean region.

Every day, with every bomb dropped and bullet shot, Ukraine suffers further harm, and while Russia is suffering harm too, Russia is accepting the cost of its campaign and steadfastly continuing it.  Ukraine’s brave and noble President, Volodymyr Zelensky, is performing outstandingly, but is living on borrowed time, and very likely, he will be assassinated at some point, and we doubt Ukraine will continue so resolutely when he disappears.

Fighting Russia to a stand-still is not a victory.  It is a loss.  Not a complete loss, but a partial loss.  Plus, the way wars are fought mean that while it was hard for Russia to take territory from Ukraine, now that it has done so, it will become hard for Ukraine to now take it back again.

It is one thing to stop the Russian advance, but quite another to drive them out of the territory they have already taken.

Russia has a “Plan B” for just about anything it needs – turn to China. Ukraine’s Plan B is at least as fickle as that of Russia’s – seeking support from the west has already been greatly constrained.  The US even refuses to allow Poland to give Ukraine old 1980s era planes, for fear of further escalation.  But what constraints is China imposing on its support of Russia?

I’d also point out that most of what we think we know about the war comes from Ukraine.  Russian information is either suppressed, ignored, or claimed to be false.  The reality is probably somewhere in the middle – Russia is almost certainly understating its losses of men and material, but Ukraine is almost certainly overstating just how successful it is being at killing/wounding/capturing troops and destroying or seizing equipment.  As for the separate NATO estimates, they admit to being based on Ukrainian estimates so are not really any better.

One thing all estimates agree upon – every day, Russia destroys more buildings and resources, kills more Ukrainian civilians, and many more flee the country.  Each extra day Russia does this can not be portrayed as anything other than a tragic disaster for Ukraine and its people.  Even more tragic, as Ukrainian forces fight back and try and dislodge Russian troops, what do they do?  The exact same thing – bomb their own buildings.  Even if they force a withdrawal, they’re destroying their own country in the process.

So why are some people proclaiming Ukraine’s success (this article ridiculously suggests that by today, the Russian forces will have no food, no fuel, and no ammunition)?  Here’s an off-the-wall thought :  Whether knowingly or not, the more they say Ukraine is winning, the more they reduce the pressure on western leaders to “do more” to assist Ukraine.  Whether they mean this outcome or not, their claims of Ukraine’s success and Russia’s failure are actually helping Russia’s efforts.

None of the above is intended to either justify Russia’s actions or to suggest they are being successful in their actions.  But “not being (completely) successful” is not the same as “being defeated”.

Phew.  3300 words already, and the normal part of a newsletter is only just now starting.  As I said in my last newsletter, “normal service” is seriously curtailed at present due to the demands of the move, and I expect there will be some changes when I settle in to my new Texas life as well.  The good news is that the various radio stations and their programming (four different channels of programming) will all be available online through internet streaming, phone apps and smart speakers, and I’m trying to think of ways to come up with some appropriate audio travel and technology programming that you could either listen to live or stream as a podcast at times of your choosing.

One important thing to note.  By all means continue contributing, as a thank you for past content you’ve received and enjoyed and as general kind support.  But please don’t contribute in exchange for an implied promise for ongoing future content indefinitely into the future – I’m not certain what form it will take.  I’ll tell you more about this when it becomes clear to me, and that won’t be until probably May.  (And if you have any ideas or suggestions, I’d love to hear them.)

Below, please find :

  • Air Travel Numbers
  • Mandatory Mask Requirement to End on Flights?
  • The Puzzling Chinese 737 Crash
  • Boeing Scapegoat Found Not Guilty
  • Cruise Lines Unfairly Guilty of Going to Cuba?
  • NASA Has Champagne Tastes on a Beer Budget
  • And Lastly This Week….

Air Travel Numbers

US air passenger numbers have been slowly climbing, and we’re now back at levels similar to a month ago.  But, as you can see, every time numbers rise above 90%, they quickly pull back again.  Might this happen again now?

There’s no reason why it should, and my sense is the country continues to return to normalcy, at least until the next wave of Covid comes along – something that seems almost pre-ordained because numbers are on the rise again in some of Europe (France in particular, while Austria and Germany already have way-high numbers – 40 times higher than the US at present).

Of course, now that passenger travel numbers are averaging 90% of 2019, that means in some cases and places, they are peaking way over 100%.  A “winner” seems to be Miami, which has several times this year set new records for handling the most passengers in a single day.

Which brings all the associated misery with it – things many of us have been close to forgetting.  Full parking lots.  Traffic jams in and out of the airport.  TSA lines snaking out of the terminal.  Standing room only wherever you go.  Impossibly long lines at the coffee shops.  Oh, such joy……

Mandatory Mask Requirement to End on Flights?

It is strange these days.  In Washington State, mandatory mask wearing indoors has ended, and in stores there is now a curious mix of people who are and are not masked.  It has got to the point now where I don’t even “see” masks – they have switched from unusual to “usual”, so I’m not even entirely sure what the percentages of mask wearers and non-wearers is.

But, of course, the federal requirement for mask wearing on planes and in airports remains fully in effect, at least until 18 April.  And what then?

The major US carriers are asking for the mandate to be lifted.

The curious nature of masks is that wearing a mask is more protective to people around the wearer than it is to the wearer directly.  And so, anxious people are focused not just on their own mask wearing, but on encouraging others around them to wear masks too.

With the sometimes long periods of time when we’re all on a flight, and with the cramped proximity of many other people, airplane flights are perceived as one of the highest risk activities by many people, even though the airlines continue to claim that their air purification systems make air travel very safe.

It is unfortunate there’s no obvious or easy compromise, like was the case with smoking and non-smoking sections on planes.  Of course, that approach was far from perfect, and the stakes from an unwanted Covid infection are much higher than from a few lungs-full of cigarette smoke.

The Puzzling Chinese 737 Crash

You probably heard of the crash of a China Eastern Airlines 737-800 while it was at cruising speed and altitude, in China, earlier this week.

Very little is known about the crash yet, and possibly might never be known – it is China, after all, and one thing is certain – no accident cause which reflects poorly on the country will likely be revealed.  They’ve already come up with one patently ridiculous suggestion – that the three pilots on the flight deck (there was a third pilot in the cockpit on this flight) fell unconscious due to the G-forces when the plane first started to plunge down, and didn’t recover consciousness until it was too late to save the plane.

G-forces strong enough to cause three people to very quickly loose consciousness are so great that the plane’s wings would be ripped off before they could be reached.  A 737 is typically rated for a maximum of -1.0G (you experience negative G forces when a plane starts to dive) and can probably handle up to -2G before it starts to experience damage; most people remain conscious until about -3G, some stay conscious longer.

Although it has also been suggested that maybe the wings did come off – a faint image of the plane on some video might hint that the plane had no wings.  But that explanation makes no sense either, because one of the most puzzling things about the crash is how, after inexplicably suddenly plunging down at a rate which is almost impossible in normal flight conditions from almost 30,000 ft to 7,000 ft, the plane then briefly leveled out and even climbed a bit before returning to plunge the rest of the way back down.

This does sound eerily similar to the AS261 (MD-83) and other 737 crashes that had problems with their horizontal stabilizer, and it is possible a horizontal stabilizer problem might have caused the sharp plunge.  Then, perhaps, the pilots managed to come up with a fix/workaround that brought the plane back to level flight, but then maybe the stabilizer problem repeated, and there just wasn’t enough altitude to fix it a second time, or even, conceivably, the stresses of the first plunge and recovery did then cause a wing or both wings to fail.

On the other hand, perhaps this mysterious recovery is a data anomaly caused by the stresses and strains and “over rated specifications” being imposed on the measuring data that was broadcasting realtime information about the flight.

We can be certain however that this was not caused by engine failure.  Engine failure would see the plane assume a steady and reasonably gentle glide down, not an almost impossibly steep plunge.  Rumors have also started to circulate that it was something deliberately caused by Boeing or the US in general, and those rumors are of course not even worth responding to.

On the other hand, some sort of deliberate sabotage seems possible, and is no more unlikely than any of the other conjectures currently being made.

The plane itself was around 7 years old and had flown just under 9,000 flights.  Assuming good maintenance, the plane is barely “middle aged”, and the 737-800 model has been robustly reliable and safe (it is the model series before the latest MAX series, and it was the MAX that had the problems a couple of years ago).

The Chinese authorities have found the cockpit voice recorder and it has been sent to Beijing for processing and analysis.  Some reports say the data module is in good shape, others say it has been appreciably damaged.  They continue to hunt for the other “black box” – the flight data recorder.  Both sets of data may be very helpful, at least in the sense of eliminating some possibilities.

It is disappointing that at this stage US NTSB members do not seem likely to join in the processing of the black box.  I’m not sure if Boeing will have representatives present either.  The official reason for no NTSB participation is “due to strict visa and quarantine requirements” – in other words, because the Chinese government wishes to tightly control the investigation and what findings are created and publicized.

There’s a hint about the direction the Chinese government is taking in the news that the airline and its two subsidiaries has grounded its fleet of 737-800s “as an emergency precaution”.

Boeing Scapegoat Found Not Guilty

Very good news.  The unfortunate Boeing test pilot who became the designated scapegoat for the failings of both Boeing and the FAA, and who was then ridiculously charged with felony charges of deceiving the FAA and Boeing’s flawed MCAS system in the 737 MAX planes that crashed twice, was found not guilty after a very short jury deliberation at the end of an also very short federal trial.

This was a case that should never have been filed.  The pilot was never told by Boeing of how the company modified the MCAS to make it more aggressive and able to override the pilots’ commands.  How could he deceive the FAA about something he didn’t know?

My remaining question – who pays this unfortunate person’s legal fees?  It probably cost him $25k – $50k to defend himself against these baseless charges, and he shouldn’t be the person who has to pay that cost.

Cruise Lines Unfairly Guilty of Going to Cuba?

Do you remember, during the Obama administration, the relaxation on restrictions concerning visiting Cuba?  This created a brief surge in cruises that included Cuba in their itineraries.

The cruise lines were given licenses to take American passengers to Cuba by the Office of Foreign Assets Control, and senior government officials, including the President, encouraged the cruise lines to do so.  The cruise companies are thought to have “made” over $1.1 billion from these cruises (not sure if “made” means “generated gross revenues” or “earned net profits”).

But apparently earlier restrictions on tourism superseded these liberalizations, and were never lifted, and so both OFAC and President Obama were encouraging cruise lines to break the law.

This was the finding by a federal judge in Miami this week, who has now scheduled a trial for damages.  Details here.

NASA Has Champagne Tastes on a Beer Budget

For the longest time, NASA had no problems being its own single supplier of rockets and space craft.  The results varied – Apollo was an outstanding albeit expensive success.  The Space Shuttles were an appalling disgrace, both in terms of safety and in terms of the shortfall between projections and the reality of turnaround times and flight costs.

It is generally good practice to get three quotes for anything major.  And if you are buying a large quantity of something important, it is often a great ideal to have at least two suppliers, so you don’t have all your eggs in one basket.  A factory fire or something else could zero out a single supplier’s production.

But if you’re talking about one flight to the moon every two years, do you really need two different companies building different types of moon rockets?  NASA thinks it needs two suppliers.  I think that is beyond nonsensical and will only guarantee massively increased costs, rather than savings or efficiencies.

The probable reason behind this new move is so NASA can throw a bone to Jeff Bezos, who is still sulking (and doubtless lobbying) after his way-overpriced initial bid to win the moon rocket business was very rightly spurned by NASA.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX company fairly won the NASA contract, with a lower priced bid and a more reliable history of developing rocketry than the Bezos company, Blue Origin.  The award was upheld when bad-loser Bezos complained and appealed.

It would seem ill-advised to now allow him yet another chance of charging more money.  If NASA needs redundancy, it should order more rockets from SpaceX, and keep everything compatible and standardized.

Details here.

And Lastly This Week….

Did you know there are two separate Titanic re-construction projects under way at present – one for a permanently moored scale recreation, the other for a reasonably true-to-life (slightly larger than the original and with more lifeboats) “real” ship.

Both are way behind schedule.  I’ve written about them before, here’s an interesting update.

If you’re going to Britain this year, maybe include a visit to “Downton Abbey”.  Yes, there really is a Downton Abbey, or at least, a building that appears under that name in the television series.  Here’s an interesting article.

Ever since the Brits had a public competition to name a new research vessel, which ended up being named “Boaty McBoatface”, calls for name suggestions both in Britain and elsewhere have tended to be somewhat eccentric.  But, snow plows?  This article tells of the three (only three?) that the Washington State Dept of Transport has, their names, and the voting for the name of a fourth one.

How many of these “unusual vintage car accessories” do you remember?  They didn’t seem unusual at the time, did they!

I don’t think I’ll be able to write next week, because by Thursday night, just about everything will be packed and boxed up.  If possible, I will, but I fear (with only 40 of the 180 or so cartons yet packed) that I’ll probably be terribly busy moving out of the Seattle area after 37 largely lovely years here.

As for you, I hope you’re not doing the same thing, and that, whatever/wherever/however, you’ll be enjoying safe travels





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