The Museum of Flight

I visited the Museum of Flight in Tukwila, which has a vast collection of aircraft spanning multiple decades.

In the Red Barn, we learned about the history of the Boeing Company. William Boeing started out building seaplanes, then moved on to building planes with cabins. He built a network of runways to send people to and fro. But then the Boeing Company was hit with an anti-monopoly ruling, so the company was split into two companies: the Boeing Company as it is today which makes aircraft, and United Airlines. William Boeing was upset that the government would want to break up a successful company, and so he ceased involvement with the business.

Great Gallery
Great Gallery

In the Great Gallery, various aircraft are suspended in the sun-dappled hall. One unique aircraft is the Lockheed M-21 Blackbird. Attached to the Lockheed’s back is a drone (the drone is significantly larger than modern drones, such as the 3-foot long drone on display in the Great Gallery that was able to circumnavigate the globe). The Lockheed M-21 Blackbird is the only one in existence, because the other Lockheed of the same model was a complete failure. Its mission was something straight out of a James Bond film. The Lockheed was to fly over the Soviet Union, then deploy the drone. The drone would collect information, then land in the Pacific Ocean, where it would be collected by a submarine. But what actually happened was, the drone was launched, then immediately crashed into the Lockheed, downing both aircraft.

Old Air Force One
Old Air Force One

In the Aviation Pavilion, there is an old Air Force one and a decommissioned Boeing 737 test plane.

Yakovlev Yak-9U Frank WWII fighter plane
Yakovlev Yak-9U Frank WWII fighter plane

In the Personal Courage Wing, there was a Yakovlev Yak-9U Frank WWII fighter plane replica, emblazoned with a tiger crushing a deer with Hitler’s face.

Seattle Aquarium

My brother visited over the weekend. We walked around the city with his co-workers. Coming from conservative towns, they were surprised by the massive turnout for the Women’s March. From the Space Needle, we could see the march stretching from the Seattle Center down south into the city until the view was impeded by skyscrapers. An hour later, after taking the monorail to Westlake, we saw the march was still going strong, with no sign of the tail end.

Marchers blanketing 4th Ave
Marchers blanketing 4th Ave

We visited the typical Seattle tourist attractions. For the first time ever, I visited the Seattle Aquarium. The aquarium was definitely geared towards small children. I found it rather small. Except for a Hawaiian fish section, the species were all native to the Puget Sound. In the tide pools where visitors could touch the invertebrates, I saw a familiar sight: the green anemones and pink algae from the Olympic National Park beach tide pools. The anemones’ tentacles gripped my finger when I prodded them.

Life on the Edge tide pool exhibit
Life on the Edge tide pool exhibit

There was a fish tank modeled after Neah Bay. A diver inside the tank talked about the ecosystem and fed krill to coho salmon. At the end of the talk, the diver asked if there were any questions. A boy raised his hand.

“What’s your question?”

“I like fish.”

Jellyfish
Jellyfish

The flounder glided with an awkward sideways grace. A crab methodically ate some kind of debris off the edges of the anemone. Everything underwater was so slow and unhurried, and so colorful. There was an octopus that remained suctioned to the glass all day. A caretaker gave it fish on a stick, and it grabbed the fish with one tentacle. Otherwise, it remained immobile. The octopuses, seals, otters— they were well-fed, but their tanks were so small compared to the natural environment outside the aquarium. Where would the animals prefer to live, or did they even know any better? I enjoyed watching the otters. They had a lot of energy, swimming on their backs, diving, harassing each other. And they would laze about in a relatable way.

Company picnic

I went to my third company picnic of family-friendly fun. The company picnic is held at a farm, and though the event is tailored for small children, I have a blast!

My friend and I had a paddleboat race with two middle schoolers. We had a firm lead, but near the end we pretended to be tired. Then when the children approached the finish line and could taste victory, we cycled furiously to dash their hopes of winning. I believe no one learned a lesson from that, and life continued on as normal.

There’s a zip line, bounce houses, driving range, rock climbing. I shamelessly queued up with the five-year-olds to go on the inflatable slide, until I had an unlucky run that gave me a rug burn.

weeeeeeeeeee
weeeeeeeeeee

My favorite thing at the picnic is the animal petting zoo. There are goats, maras, bunnies. I rarely see non-humans in my day-to-day life, perhaps a garter snake in the yard or a robin. It is a reminder that the planet has such rich biodiversity, and I’ve seen the tiniest fraction of it.

Holding a chicken
Holding a chicken

Someone from the Reptile Zoo brought a van full of plastic bins. From each bin, he pulled out a reptile and told us interesting facts. For example, the snapping turtle has a bright pink tongue that it uses to lure its prey.

I enjoyed holding the juvenile alligator for the novelty of it. I thought the alligator would be dangerous to hold, but it was surprisingly mellow.

Alligator, picnic #2
Alligator, picnic #2
Alligator, picnic #3
Alligator, picnic #3

It was like holding a baby. An even-tempered baby that is as smooth as a handbag.

When I drive on Highway 2, I pass by the Reptile Zoo. Curiously, its neighbor is a BBQ joint, so we crack jokes about the kind of BBQ served there.

Pokémon Go

I work for a company that made an announcement that Pokémon Go will have a limited contribution to its earnings. The opinions below are my own.

I downloaded Pokémon Go as soon as it was released in the US. At first, I would walk around local parks, and perhaps run across a few other people holding out their phones in front of them. We would exchange knowing glances, that yes, we were catching virtual creatures on our phone. At some inflection point, the majority of the people I came across on my walks were playing the game.

Pokémon Go players at Bellevue Downtown Park
Pokémon Go players at Bellevue Downtown Park

I went to the Bellevue Downtown Park, which was thronged by players. The park’s traffic reached a peak. Someone would yell out a rare Pokémon, such as Dragonite, and a mob of over a hundred people would sprint across the park to that PokéStop.

My favorite feature by far is taking photos of Pokémon.

Jynx at Safeco Field
Jynx at Safeco Field
Gym leader of my gym
Gym leader of my gym
Vulpix at Snoqualmie Falls
Vulpix at Snoqualmie Falls
Bellsprout on a riverbank
Bellsprout on a riverbank
Krabby at Rattlesnake Lake
Krabby at Rattlesnake Lake

Eventually, I got tired of grinding for the ridiculous number of experience points needed to advance to the next level. The battle system lacks the depth that I enjoy in the core Pokémon series. So the game is uninstalled, for now.

Unbusy bees

There’s a lot of bumblebee activity in my house’s gardens. The bees especially love the lavender plants. I got home late, around 9PM, and I noticed that there were bees sleeping on the flowers. I found it really peculiar that they would sleep out in the open like that.

I did some reading, and learned that male bumblebees (drones) are kicked out of the hive. They spend their days drinking nectar. Around autumn, young queen bees leave their hives and the male bees try to mate with them. So those balls of fluff sleeping on the flowers are male bees with nowhere to go.

It’s fun to watch the bees wake up in the early morning. Each bee wakes up at a different time, some much later than others. First, they slowly brush their body with a leg, back and forth like a window wiper. The bees warm up, crawl around the flowers a bit. After they’re warmed up, they start flying and buzzing around. They make themselves look busy.