July of 2021: Space tourism and Olympic Games

By Morf Morford

By Morf Morford

Tacoma Daily Index

A new space age

July introduced us to a new phase of space travel – space tourism.

Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos both showed us new paths for us normal people (non-billionaires) to experience space travel. For a mere $250,000, you too could experience a few minutes of weightlessness.

You could have purchased a nice house for that amount a few years ago.

Bidding wars for rentals?

We’ve seen bidding wars for home buyers for a year or more. Would you ever have imagined bidding wars for rentals?

Welcome to July of 2021.

In spite of a construction boom, and record high prices, bidding wars on existing rentals broke out almost everywhere – even in those urban centers like San Francisco and NYC – which were being deserted by the work from home movement.

Fire season

About ten western states experienced record drought and fire danger.

By Mid-July we had surpassed double the acreage on fire compared to 2020 – and 2020 was a record fire year.

Death Valley earned its name by hitting the highest temperatures ever recorded anywhere on the planet.

Many regions from Las Vegas to Palm Springs had night-time lows in the mid 80s.

Many crops and industries, from tomatoes to shellfish are experiencing record weather-related losses.

It’s not just us, of course, brutal droughts, floods and heat waves hit Europe and Asia. In Siberia, for example, well above the Arctic Circle, temperatures hit 118̊.

We can all add “heat dome” to our weather vocabulary.

Cars

In automotive news, the shortage of auto production has created many unforeseen dynamics; the shortage of new cars has led to an increased demand for used cars.

2019 cars are often selling for more than the same model of 2021 car. If you can find one.

It’s much like the housing market of a few months ago.

It’s a crazy time for buyers and sellers – and if you can wait to buy, that might be your best strategy.

And if you have a car to sell, you might want to get it polished and ready to sell.

Most industry experts project the shortage to last at least another year.

Housing fever passes?

The ten or more percent (monthly) increase in home prices has stabilized a bit.

Or at least it has around here.

The fever point has shifted a bit, from this urban center to that small town, but the trend, like the others, is unmistakable; astronomical prices are here to stay.

According to Redfin, our house actually lost value in the past couple months. Now the price is only astronomical – not obscenely expensive.

But for the most part, housing prices are a bit more stable than they have been for a year or so.

COVID

As much as most of us are long past ready to bid a permanent farewell to COVID, many regions of the country if not the world, seem determined to keep it going.

Perhaps it has become part of their tradition and local identity by now.

I just hope we don’t start seeing COVID banners, flags and statues in public places.

Several states, primarily those with low vaccination rates, reported yet another surge in COVID.

Mask mandates – and protests against them – were a standard feature of life this summer.

Richard Sherman

If there was anyone who had achieved near sainthood from the NFL, at least in the Puget Sound area, it would be Richard Sherman.

Locally and nationally he was lionized both as a player and as a contributing participant of many community causes.

In mid-July, he dominated our headlines and conversations for very different reasons. We can only wish him the best and hope to see him in more healthy and productive circumstances in the future.

Oh, Canada

Beginning August 9, 2021, Canada plans to begin allowing entry to American citizens and permanent residents, who are currently residing in the United States, and have been fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to entering Canada for non-essential travel.

Details can be found here: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/news/2021/07/government-of-canada-announces-easing-of-border-measures-for-fully-vaccinated-travellers.html.

Moon wobbling

And if you thought murder hornets were a menace, consider the expected “wobbling” of the moon.

The moon, of course impacts our tides (ever notice how during full moons, we have extra high – and low – tides?). But we usually assume that the moon is steady in its orbit. And it is. But not for the next few years.

Thanks to increases in sea level rise, high tides, especially in times of storms, are even more of a threat to coastal cites, naval bases and low lying areas. You can see the details here: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/weather/2021/07/13/moons-wobble-cause-record-number-flood-nasa/7958703002/.

And yes, murder hornets are still a threat. If you’d like to do your part to help catch and monitor them, you could start here – https://crosscut.com/environment/2021/07/citizen-scientists-enlist-fight-against-was-murder-hornets?

Olympics 2021 Style

The Olympics of 2020 in 2021 went on about as well as they could have. Originally scheduled for 2020, delayed to 2021, this year’s games will be memorable for almost everything except the competitions.

With host city Tokyo in a state of COVID-related emergency, essentially no cheering fans, seemingly endless controversy about female athletic attire, and more public protestors opposed to the games than fans or participants, this was a set of games like no other.

As expected, Simone Biles, by what she did and did not do, dominated Olympics headlines.

I noticed that some news anchors reporting on The Olympics described the games as “the 2020 Olympics” even though they took place in 2021.

Meanwhile back home in the USA

For whatever reason, everyday life in America in July of 2021 was even more fractious than usual.

Virtually every American city hit record high murder rates.

Every state, city, business or church seemed to have its own rules regarding public masking. Disputes about masking, or almost anything else it seemed, was reason enough to fight. Whether in restaurants, on airplanes or at home, arguments, scuffles or even worse, over masks was a common theme in July.

Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On

The largest U.S. earthquake in 55 years hit Alaska with a magnitude 8.2 quake July 28. Tsunami warnings were issued as far away as Hawaii.

We are still waiting for “The Big One”.

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