Black swan and fish © Robert Sommers 2016

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Blast readership photos from 2016

It is time for the end of year photographic round up. Please if you would, send me a shot or two you took from the past year. They can be pretty, ugly, good, bad, funny, sad, any emotion or message you choose to express. I think that I will forego finishing my own greatest hits package, getting a bit busy with other matters.

Reach down and send me something wonderful. I will keep adding until the end of the year.

 Laxmi Niwas Palace, Bikaner, India - Helen McHargue
Scott Bolhack

Oak at Heller's Bend - Jon Harwood

Red Rocks - Mike Reardon

Mike Reardon
Granville Public Market, Granville Island, Vancouver, B.C. Canada - Bill Olson

Renée Ingold
La Jolla Abstract - Ray Fedorchak
Cam Wilde

Four years worth, Noreen Ring
Grandkids - Buzz Sommers
East Cape -Jerry Hall
Ken Seals
Dominick Grossi
Contax 645 with Phase One P45+ digital back, shot in Glacier National Park, Montana.- Kip Peterson

Hawaii - Mark Sublette
Mark Sublette
Myanmar - Kent Borsch
Kent Borsch
Seven Sisters Points, Baja - Jerry Hall

Monday, December 5, 2016

Old Glory


Not really sure why, but a lot of people are tuning in to the Blast of late. Before my hiatus a few years ago, I was at 2k views a day. It dropped to about 800 hits a day when I returned from my self imposed exile.

Last couple months it has been a solid eighteen hundred to twenty five hundred views per day but this week it has been three to four thousand or more. I am not sure why but a lot of traffic comes from Russia for some reason. Not sure if I should be happy or sad that I am getting all these views. Nice to be read, that is if it isn't bot traffic, but it ups the pressure to deliver.

Unfortunately everything I thought I knew turned out to be wrong. I am as befuddled as the next person, sprung and freewheeling through space in this new bizarro universe. So don't expect much from me.

There have been lots of reports of hate crimes since the election, the right has been quick to label them all as bogus. Lots of people harassing muslim women in New York, many reports of subway harassment.  I guess they weren't all fake, one of the muslims was an off duty cop trying to protect her kid and the perp was arrested.

Quite a few of the social media comments regarding the incident have been disgusting, with many people telling the muslims to go back where they came from, etc.. I think about France, where people with yarmulkes are harassed. Not right there and not right here. We seem to be entering an era where we are showing our ugliest side culturally and the fish is rotting from the top.

When I hear about internment camps for people of a certain religion, even those who are U.S. citizens, my brain doesn't have to go too far to think about extermination camps but I admittedly have a ripe imagination. It just seems that when the wheels fall off the wagon, we humans are capable of just about anything. First they came for the muslims...

Magnus Carlsen's winning match in the World Chess Championship was an endgame of poetic beauty.

The Queen sacrifice to h6 is so audacious and deadly. Black resigns because this is one of the two mate results.

In 1956, thirteen year old Bobby Fischer, one of my early heroes and I think the greatest player ever, beat Donald Byrne in what is called the "Game of the Century." He also used a knight and Queen sacrifice, albeit an earlier one..

Brilliant Chess! Carlsen says that his dream would be to play the now deceased Fischer. Many chess players would agree.

The Fabs - That's The Bag I'm In

Sunday, December 4, 2016

View of Del Mar coastline from Torrey Pines

I post this picture for two purposes; one for Ricardo, Shawn, Steve  and BigDave, who have long left us for greener pastures and shores and maybe have forgotten how "bitchen" North County San Diego still is and two, for you red state ingrates who have despoiled your own precious nests and turned them into a shithole.

It is bad enough that we are subsidizing your sorry asses with our tax dollars, we have no desire to emulate your filthy habits. Do us a favor and stop visiting. Pacificus for Pacificans. You still have Branson, Wall Drugs and Dollywood.

Dumb and Dumber

I admit to feeling like I was the the last guy in the world who had actually seen the 2006 movie Idiocracy. Had heard it mentioned for years.

The movie, by Mike Judge, is a satiric look at a future where the world is populated by imbeciles.

A U.S. Army librarian, played by Luke Wilson, is chosen for an experiment where he is put into suspended animation and wakes up 500 years in the future.

He arrives on a dumbed down planet that looks like a prescient observation of the way things are going today.

Bill loaned me his copy the other day. A raw and pithy look at a popular culture that is getting coarser and stupider by the day.

More relevant than ever.

I suggest you rent it on Netflix as soon as possible.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The celestial circus master plots his next move

Steppenwolf - Justice Don't Be Slow

Standing Rock

A lot of people are very concerned about Standing Rock, There is a lot of bullshit rhetoric and half truth on both sides of the argument. I have been trying to wade through it and figure out what was what but haven't made that much headway.

I am sure I am missing a lot. Please feel free to correct me.

The 1170 mile Dakota Access Pipeline crosses a half mile north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. This pipeline will ship light sweet crude oil from the Bakken oil fields to Illinois. The members of the reservation are concerned about the effects of a possible spill on their water sources. And they should be. The contractor, Sunoco Logistics, has the worst spill record in America.
Sunoco Logistics (SXL.N), the future operator of the oil pipeline delayed this month after Native American protests in North Dakota, spills crude more often than any of its competitors with more than 200 leaks since 2010, according to a Reuters analysis of government data.
Opponents of the deal say that the town of Bismarck managed to get the pipeline rerouted but that is not really true. The Army Corps decided that that route would be longer and have more potential impact on water. Snopes breaks it down pretty well.
According to that source, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (not the residents of Bismarck) considered and rejected an alternate route through the city in DAPL's early planning stages. The plan was quickly abandoned, not because the Sioux were considered to be less valuable than their neighbors in Bismarck, but because the alternate route ran an additional eleven miles and included several more water crossings. Additionally, the decision to abandon that route came from a planning party, and did not appear to have anything to do with one set of residents being heard while a second set was ignored.
Energy Transfer Partners, the developers of the pipeline seem pretty hardcore, especially if you read about their negotiation m.o.

On September 3, 2016, the Dakota Access Pipeline brought in a private security firm. The company used bulldozers to dig up part of the pipeline route that was subject to a pending injunction motion; it contained possible Native graves and burial artifacts.

I hate the sacred lands argument in a way because I think that most native americans consider all lands sacred. Water quality rings truer for me and of more paramount concern.

According to the head of the tribe, chairman David Archambault II, the whole project was fast tracked and granted some spurious environmental objections.
Our tribe has opposed the Dakota Access pipeline since we first learned about it in 2014. Although federal law requires the Corps of Engineers to consult with the tribe about its sovereign interests, permits for the project were approved and construction began without meaningful consultation. The Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Interior and the National Advisory Council on Historic Preservation supported more protection of the tribe’s cultural heritage, but the Corps of Engineers and Energy Transfer Partners turned a blind eye to our rights. The first draft of the company’s assessment of the planned route through our treaty and ancestral lands did not even mention our tribe.
The Dakota Access pipeline was fast-tracked from Day 1 using the Nationwide Permit No. 12 process, which grants exemption from environmental reviews required by the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act by treating the pipeline as a series of small construction sites. And unlike the better-known Keystone XL project, which was finally canceled by the Obama administration last year, the Dakota Access project does not cross an international border — the condition that mandated the more rigorous federal assessment of the Keystone pipeline’s economic justification and environmental impacts.
Of course, the United States government has been screwing  the Sioux for a very long time. In 1959, members of the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux were forcibly relocated to make way for a new Lake Oahe dam project. Over 200,000 acres were flooded on the two reservations. They are still seeking compensation for their losses.
The Standing Rock Sioux Reservation was originally established as part of the Great Sioux Reservation. Article 2 of the Treaty of Fort Laramie of April 29, 1868 described the boundaries of the Great Sioux Reservation, as commencing on the 46th parallel of north latitude to the east bank of Missouri River, south along the east bank to the Nebraska line, then west to the 104th parallel of west longitude. (15 stat. 635).
The Great Sioux Reservation comprised all of present-day South Dakota west of the Missouri River, including the sacred Black Hills and the life-giving Missouri River. Under article 11 of the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty, the Great Sioux Nation retained off-reservation hunting rights to a much larger area, south to the Republican and Platte Rivers, and east to the Big Horn Mountains.  Under article 12, no cession of land would be valid unless approved by three-fourths of the adult males. Nevertheless, the Congress unilaterally passed the Act of February 28, 1877 (19 stat. 254), removing the Sacred Black Hills from the Great Sioux Reservation.  The United States never obtained the consent of three-fourths of the Sioux, as required in article 12 of the 1868 Treaty. The U.S. Supreme Court concluded that "A more ripe and rank case of dishonorable dealings will never, in all probability, be found in our history."  United States v. Sioux Nation of Indians, 448 U.S. 371, 388 (1980).
The Standing Rock Agency was established at Fort Yates in 1873. The Executive Order of March 16, 1875 extended the Reservation's northern boundary to the Cannon Ball River.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe stands by its right to self-government as a sovereign nation, which includes taking a government-to-government stance with the states and federal government entities. Having signed treaties as equals with the United States Government in 1851 and in 1868, which established the original boundaries of the Great Sioux Nation. The tribe staunchly asserts these treaty rights to remain steadfast and just as applicable today as on the day they were made.
The Standing Rock Sioux Reservation was greatly reduced through the Act of March 2, 1889, also known as the Dawes Act and the Allotment Act. This opened up the reservations throughout the United States to settlement by non-Indian entities, thus creating checker-boarded land ownership within the Standing Rock Reservation. The tribe maintains jurisdiction on all reservation lands, including rights-of-way, waterways, and streams running through the reservation; this in turn leads to on-going jurisdictional disputes in criminal and civil court. Recent cases such as Nevada vs Hicks have contributed to the contentious issues in this iron triangle between the Federal, State, and Tribal governments.
I really don't blame these people for being pissed. If I have to make a choice between a reservation with 79% unemployment getting their only source of water jeopardized and a bunch of fossil fuelers getting rich, the answer is pretty clear.

Fotheringay, The way I feel

FDR, the Great Conservationist

I am reading a very interesting book right now, Douglas Brinkley's biography of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Rightful Heritage and the Land of America. The outstanding biographer Brinkley had previously written a biography of FDR's cousin and fellow President Teddy called The Wilderness Warrior.

While Teddy Roosevelt's role in establishing the National Parks system is well known, the reader of Rightful Heritage will soon see that Franklin's contribution is no less impressive. FDR was the scion of two old dutch families in the Hudson River Valley, the Roosevelts and the Delanos and a committed forester and soil conservationist.

From an early age Roosevelt could name every tree and bird in the valley and for that matter, the eastern seaboard. He brought down a huge collection with his fowling piece. His father instilled a deep love of trees and forest and Roosevelt was responsible for the welfare of the family estate called Springwood at Hyde Park after his father James early passing.

First elected to the New York State Senate and then the national Senate and then Governor of New York before becoming our only four time President, the very popular FDR never lost touch with the land. While Teddy had lionized the cowboy, FDR was wary of their tendency to overgraze federal land with their cattle.

As a State Senator he crafted the Roosevelt-Jones Conservation Act, which made it illegal for timber companies to clear cut, even of private land. He fought with large Adirondack timber interests and promoted the idea of the Taconic Parkway, still one of my favorite roads in New York.

One of the first environmentalists, FDR was horrified by the southerner's devastation of their native hardwood forests. Roosevelt went on to do so much for the environment, setting up countless National Migratory Bird Refuge. He championed large water projects in the west and helped establish the Everglades as a National Park. He also was responsible for helping create much of the State Park system.

As Governor, according to the author, Roosevelt was the first at his position to establish meaningful relief for those hit by ruthless bankers and financiers during the crash of 1929. He and Henry Morgenthau came up with an idea to hire thousands of unemployed workers to reforest abandoned farms in New York, the initial spark that later became the CCC or Civilian Conservation Corps. In 1931 he recommended the creation of TERA, the Temporary Emergency Relief Administration, which would help put money in the hands of the destitute but force them plant trees as payback.

I am not going to review the whole book, which is long and at times rather tedious but encourage you to give it a look if you can. For nothing else, its appendixes that show the amount of National Forests created throughout the land by President Franklin Roosevelt, is mind boggling, the National Parks and monuments that include Whitman Mission, King's Canyon, Channel Islands, Joshua Tree (the story of which is fantastic) Channel Islands, Organ Pipe Cactus, Cedar Breaks, Capitol Reef, Zion, Jackson Hole, Fort Laramie, Big Bend, Homestead, Pipestone, George Washington Carver, Ackia Battleground,  Mammoth Cave, Shenandoah, Ft. Stanwis, Great Smoky Mountains, Andrew Johnson, Isle Royale, Harper's Ferry, Fort Jefferson and the Everglades.

His 1933 Executive Order gave the National Park Service jurisdiction over all Civil War Battlefields, National Parks and cemeteries, over 64 sites total. He established over140 National Wildlife Refuges.

People interested in America's environment will be well served to read this book and marvel at this Presidents incredible and enormous contribution in the never ending quest for clean air, water, forests and parks in the United States of America.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt did do much for this country, this particular contribution goes overlooked. He was a thorn in the side of his own patrician class his entire life, and his safety net and concern for the well being of the little guy raises the ire of conservatives and robber barons even to this day. Thank you FDR for showing us what the best of America looked like.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Bruce Conner - MONGOLOID - Art + Music - MOCAtv

Pre-dawn, Avalon Harbor

Then you can tell me goodbye

Reeling and rocking

I had been feeling funky and lethargic for much of the week. Noticed a bit of swelling in my legs but nothing else really significant. Cognitively a bit blurry, not able to find familiar words at the normal speed but have also been a bit hammered by current events.

The weirdness got a bit weirder towards the afternoon. I felt a big aching under my left pectoral muscle, that rose from a focalized pierce to a full blown elephant sitting on my chest by nine o'clock that night.

I had a heart attack several years ago and the pain was similar if not more intense, although that pain radiated from my back and the backs of my arms while this was front and center.

It got so bad that I couldn't breathe and told Leslie she had to take me to the hospital around 10:30. Fallbrook no longer has a hospital and I thought about my options and chose Palomar, about a thirty minute drive at that hour of the night.

She hightailed it down there, I called en route to warn them. Still had to go through the triage slough in the waiting room, even after I mentioned that I thought I could be experiencing a cardiac event. Finally they found me a room.

I am not going to go through a full rundown but I was administered a battery of tests, ekg, xray, cat scan with contrast, ultrasound, enzyme, the whole gamut. They were worried about a clot from my legs lodging somewhere it wasn't supposed to be, perhaps a little blowback from my airplane flight to Dallas and back.

All the tests came back negative, except they did see some lingual pneumonia at the bottom of the left lung, near the pain source. A fast google check on the phone showed that this type of pleurisy can mimic cardiac symptoms.  The on call doctor had twins to deliver  and we were left in limbo until the next morning when we met the hospitalist. The nitro patch they administered the night before had left me an intense headache throughout the night and I was largely left adrift without food or medical attention. Leslie squirmed on the uncomfortable seat and we tried to deal with the hand I had been dealt.

They wanted to admit me but couldn't find a room, the place being full up. I had some more tests, a full workup and another enzyme draw. Threw up some blood and bile. Feel like an over-taped human pincushion. Finally I got a tylenol and a room upstairs but was having second thoughts and feeling the distinct urge to get off the hamster wheel and amscray.

I saw a silver haired gentleman and some other folks that radiated authority on the fifth floor near my door and asked if I could have a word for a second. Hot damn, I had hit pay dirt, managing to find the man known in those parts as the Grand Poobah, the chief medical person at the entire hospital, Dr. Roger Acheatal. We sat down and I pled my case. Heavy bargaining phase.

I went over my cardiac and other medical history and pointed out that the emergency doctor's inclination was probably correct. It pointed towards pneumonia. The Grand Vizier was also a cardiologist and he knew my retired cardiologist and he agreed that the the testing probably ruled out a cardiac cause although an angiogram might still be necessary down the road as I don't really know about the amount of obstruction and plaque my arteries currently bear.

I explained that I had a repaired mitral valve and murmur, recounted my voluminous cancer and medical history. My family has a disposition towards angina and my past Prinz metals heart attack was anginary in nature. I agreed to do whatever tests they felt prudent and necessary but voiced my strong urge to vacate the premises as fast as possible, before the cash register wheels really started spinning. The nurse giggled when I gave my pleurisy hypothesis and made a funny comment about "google doctoring" and self diagnosis.

It has been a bad year for me, having switched to Blue Shield from my Health Net PPO and later discovering that none of my providers would work with them. Even my forty year gp. Basically stopped seeing doctors. Which in a way is a good thing, since mostly I didn't need to see doctors. Anyway I told them that having been through the medical circus so many times with my extensive history I believed that I had to be my own best and strongest medical advocate and they surprisingly totally agreed with me. They agreed to release me if they could get a clearance and approval from the on call doctor, who I had not yet met.

I went down and took the stress test, per her orders. Blew them away, they were amazed at my cardiac function and health, although my a fib sort of went crazy at full exertion. But I gritted my teeth and passed with flying colors, without a moment of slowdown, through sheer will and a strong desire to get out of the hospital.

I met with the Indian born Doctor Sanpath, educated at UCSD. She was very bright and personable and cautiously went over every test before granting me my pardon. She did not think the pneumonia was severe enough to have caused my grief and tended to think that it was an angina attack. I told her that I was not ruling out sudden Trump onset.

The rapport I developed with these people was fantastic and I come away from my experience being very bullish about the healthcare at Palomar, which is affiliated with Kaiser. I could nitpick some little things but I will not. Place was clean and professional and the doctors listened, a real rarity. Nurses were extremely warm and caring.

Left last evening, in the midst of a gorgeous sunset. Have to thank Leslie, my wife. 27 hours without sleep, she rose and met every challenge like the loving warrior she is. Thanks to all of you for your good wishes. Still not sure exactly what happened but I think I am cool and okay. Got a nitro prescription if this sort of thing should happen again. Going to find a cardiologist soon and get back on track. I have things to do but will chill as much as possible this week. Chest still hurting but not as bad.

Had a strange dream last night.  I was lying on a beach. My friend Gary was nearby on his own towel. I saw a huge typhoon like wave coming. I decided to do nothing, wondered if my friend would save me but had lost the inclination to do anything to save myself for some reason. Didn't care. I was caught up in a leviathan set, would surely die. Lo and behold, my friend did not save me. I started to fly and saved myself. I flew to an unidentified city and past a highrise with an old woman inside one room. I opened the window and made her acquaintance. The furnishings were sparse but modern, a guitar was sitting in a spot in the middle of the room. She was listening to Eddy Arnold. We talked for a while and then I woke up.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016


We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men. George Orwell

I got a funny text today from a friend who said that Leslie and I need to cool it on the politics. Not sure if it is for our own mental health or if we are causing some sort of psychic disturbance and waves in the community.

I will certainly consider his words. But it is still a good time to keep an eye open. These are strange and curious times and I like to keep my own running record.

Please bear with me.

The very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. Lies will pass into history. George Orwell

If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.
Joseph Goebbels

Cheap Trick

The new surveillance state

It all happens so quickly...Congress goes into matador mode today and refuses to discuss Rule 41. It goes into effect tomorrow. The government will now be able to illegally hack innocent victims of a botnet.

Many thanks to Senator Ron Wyden for sticking up for American citizens' constitutional rights to privacy and unregulated search and seizure. More here.
“At midnight tonight, this Senate will make one of the biggest mistakes in surveillance policy in years and years,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who tried with Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.) to offer three measures to delay or rein in the new FBI powers. “Without a single congressional hearing, without a shred of meaningful public input, without any opportunity for senators to ask their questions in a public forum, one judge with one warrant would be able to authorize the hacking of thousands, possibly
millions of devices, cell phones and tablets.”
In the final analysis we surrender our rights so meekly and passively.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Ooh la la

Second helping

So where was I, best of 2016? Or new stuff? Hmmm. Here's a little bit more of both, shots from the last year.


This guy looks like the road chief.

Can't forget the wonderful session I had with the peregrine falcons at Torrey Pines. Magic.

So much cool stuff this year. Grabbed some good portraits and had a show.

to be continued...