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Some days are better than others

Started: 2020-04-12 22:20:16

Submitted: 2020-04-13 01:02:47

Visibility: World-readable

As Bono sang, "Some days are better than others"

For most of the last two weeks I felt like we had reached the bottom of the COVID-19 health crisis, at least on the West Coast. I knew I shouldn't expect to see the end of the tunnel anytime soon, but I thought I could at least relax a little because things weren't going to get any worse.

That hope proved misguided on Friday afternoon when the mayor of Seattle decided that the weekend weather forecast was too bright and sunny, so 15 of the city's biggest parks would be closed for the weekend to keep people from going outside, because if we went outside we might not stay the magical six foot distance away from each other. We could still go to our little neighborhood parks (though the playgrounds there had been closed for weeks, leaving only the grassy fields to run around in). I've been to all of my neighborhood parks, multiple times; I was hoping for a change of scenery and even that change of scenery was being denied to me.

(This new park closure was phrased as a "temporary" restriction for the weekend, but I'm having trouble putting much weight in that modifier. None of the other restrictions have been rolled back (they keep getting extended before their deadline expires) so why should I expect this "temporary" restriction to get rolled back, even if it has a shorter deadline?)

This was the moment where I needed the Lego Architecture San Francisco set as a bit of Lego therapy.

Lego Architecture San Francisco
Lego Architecture San Francisco

The set recreates San Francisco's three tallest buildings (Salesforce, Transamerica, and 555 California (formerly known as the BofA building)), all at their relative heights. I couldn't help but observe, though, that the all of the landmarks are jumbled together, and at the point where one can actually see those three buildings lined up in order (from somewhere above Mission Bay, probably) there is a big suspension bridge in the right place -- but it's the Bay Bridge, not the Golden Gate Bridge (not to mention that Alcatraz is not actually nestled under the main span of the Golden Gate Bridge in the middle of the shipping channel). I'm impressed with the level of detail in the model: every brick has its own purpose, and the building techniques spin the bricks in every direction to lean heavily into the studs-not-on-top paradigm. The Painted Ladies, Coit Tower, and the cars on the hill are all masterful micro-scale Lego construction, suggesting a famous landmark with only a couple of well-placed bricks. Even Fort Point gets a shout-out, nestled (correctly) under the arch on the southern approach to the bridge.

The main thing I did to get out of the house on Saturday was to kayak to Lake Washington. (Kayaking is not yet proscribed.) I can cart my kayak down to the boat ramp at Sunnyside Ave, which turns out to be the same boat ramp the Duck Boats use when they're launching and landing on Lake Union. From there I basically have two choices: turn right down the ship canal into Lake Union, or turn left up the ship canal into Portage Bay, the Montlake Cut, Union Bay, and Lake Washington. This time I turned left and ended up further than I've gone into Lake Washington: I paddled out to the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge and paddled under the fixed channel on the western side of the bridge, at the interface between the fixed towers (in water only 34 feet deep, according to the NOAA chart) and the pontoon section of the bridge (where the bottom of the lake, carved by glaciers in the last ice age, drops quickly to 156 feet), before returning the way I'd come.

Paddling into Union Bay
Paddling into Union Bay

I still want a better idea where we're going from here: What's the plan for testing people and tracing contacts and what kind of semi-normal life can we hope for in a month or two? Because I can't handle being locked down in my house for the next twelve or eighteen months waiting for a vaccine and I don't think everyone else can either.