Peregrine Falcon, Torrey Pines

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Purple one

Checks and balances.

I don't want to get too far into the impeach/not impeach debate. With this particular Senate, there is no way that it will ultimately be anything but a pyrrhic exercise.

However it would be a way for people to register their dissatisfaction with this President's conduct in office, and I can see some value in that. An impeachment inquiry would allow the House to get information that they have been heretofore denied access to.

I think that there is a greater problem at hand than impeachment. I believe that we are in a constitutional crisis in this country. We are founded on the principle of checks and balances, with all three branches of government normally engaged in a grand exercise of rock, paper, scissors. But checks and balances are on life support.

President Trump does not believe in being checked. He claims executive privilege at every turn, instructs his minions to not cooperate with congressional oversight and feels he has the right to "run the country" even if it means obstruction, lying or illegality. His Attorney General also believes in the concept of an over strong unitary executive branch. He and his underlings regularly shred common norms and boundaries regarding things like the Hatch act, personal enrichment, the census question and emoluments.

The Treasury Department says that Congress does not have an appropriate "legislative interest" to see Trump's tax returns. Other departments have been making similar refrains in order to stymie investigations.

Now I personally can see a lot of value in having this President's returns. It might answer the question of why he has always been so beholden to the Russians and Saudis.

The process does not work if the person being checked can decide what constitutes proper legislative interest or intent on the part of the investigator. We have turned the whole system on its ear. I guess that the courts will ultimately have to sort it out. But what did we have, a hundred Benghazi hearings? Obama never tried to shield himself like this, neither did Clinton. Always different when the shoe is on the other foot.

Our Republic may have not been designed as a true democracy but it was certainly not designed as an authoritarian dictatorship either. Congress needs to be able to do its job and investigate the President properly without these roadblocks. The Executive branch can not decide what are proper intent and motives on the part of the Congress in their hunt for information. It would be like Boeing telling the FAA that they don't have proper or legitimate reasons to inspect their 737s.

Trump said this morning that his supporters might demand that he serve more than two terms. With a Trump friendly, ultra conservative Supreme Court that splits regularly on ideological lines, it will be interesting to see if there is anything that now legally stands in his way of becoming President for life.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Cortez the Killer

Willie Waldman on trumpet.

Get back

cheetahs © Robert Sommers 2019
I don't know how many years I have left on the planet. Who does? I'm definitely not one of the guys planning to live to one hundred and twenty. Will gratefully take what I am given.

I have largely been able to write my ticket and accomplish many things in my lifetime although it certainly has its share of ups and downs. Happy so far.

I have a bucket list but it's not that extensive. Patagonia, Antarctica, Alaska, Portugal. Chile. Easter Island. The Rhine. Hokkaido. A few more places. Like to go back to Glacier, see Jasper too some day. And I think I want to get back to Africa. Been spending a lot of time on YouTube watching people on safari.

My trip in 1989, even with my choice of travel companion at the time, was pretty epic.

Masai Mara meal © Robert Sommers 2019
I shot slides with a Konica Ft2. My longest lens was probably 135mm. What I could do today, he says wistfully... I would sure like to go back to Kenya and Tanzania, visit Botswana and Kruger someday.

Masai boys undergoing initiation © Robert Sommers 2019
Truth be told if I had to do it all over again I think I might have tried to become a travel and wildlife writer and photographer. I love to explore, to learn, to discover new things. Love to hunt, just not kill. Would have been a great gig.

The birds I saw in Africa, from Maribou storks at Mt. Kenya to the crested eagles, it was simply amazing. I hope that I can one day return to man's motherland, that is, if things ever open up for me again.

Leitz 10 x 40 trinovid binoculars

I tried to shoot Jupiter's moons last week at opposition. It was a big fail, both with my longest lens and with my field glasses. Much of my problems can certainly be ascribed to poor technique but the fact of the matter is that I didn't have ample focal length with the camera and that my current binoculars are basically little toys, they plainly suck.

I put the word out to a few friends that I needed to upgrade my binoculars. Started to do a little research. I do way too much birdwatching to not have a decent pair.

I stopped by my good friend Bill's yesterday to get some woodworking done. Bill used to be a great picker and I told him I needed binoculars. He pulled out about eight pairs, Nikons, Bushnells and more.

I fell in love with this vintage pair of Leitz Trinovids. With the original leather case and straps. Looks like they were hardly ever used, if at all. He sold them to me for a very fair price.

Just what I was looking for, in the size I wanted. I think from the serial # 736195 that they were made somewhere between 1969 and 1970.

I am told that the quality control was superior back then. This binocular uses a sophisticated Uppendahl prism system, which is thought to be superior to the systems available today. The field of view is 7 deg, 122 yd / 1000 yd. Near focus is 25'. Relative brightness (glv) 16.0. They weigh a bit over 500 grams.

Leitz has been making binoculars since 1907. The company became Leica in 1986. Incidentally, their founder, Ernst Leitz, helped many jewish workers escape the holocaust.

Their products are known for their superior optics. I just tried them out outside my shop and the clarity is startling!

This product was introduced in 1963 and stopped production in 1975. It is light and sharp, and has a wide field of view. It lacks some of the modern features of current field glasses, like phase coatings and waterproofing. But I think that it will be a wonderful new addition to my favorite hobby.

Thank you Bill!

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Congrats Kawhi Leonard - NBA MVP

Sam Cooke - Little Red Rooster

A smooth counterpoint to Howlin Wolf's prior hardcore rendition. Recorded in Los Angeles in 1963 with session guys. Billy Preston playing incredibly well and expressively on the Hammond B-3, Ray Johnson tinkling the keys, Hal Blaine on drums. Although not listed, many believe that Barney Kessel is playing guitar on this track. Not sure of the bass player. Carol Kaye? I really like the occasional tasteful repartee between piano and organ.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

biff boff

Stage four cancer patient sentenced to four years in jail for buying edibles to self medicate. State legalizes the next day. * Baboons raise dogs as pets. * Hung jury for Scott Warren, who saved migrants from dying in the Sonoran desert. WWJD? * Stone age stoners in ancient China. * Migrant kids housed at ex Japanese internment camp. * Steinway and Sons airdropped pianos in World War II.* Roundup in your Cheerios. * Lets mine the land next to the Grand Canyon for Uranium and let the energy companies do it for free.* Seventeen years, no trial - indefinite detention and the Supreme Court.* David Bernhardt and Glenwood Springs mining.* New offerings from the Blue Heron Gallery. * Repubs join Dems in rebuking Trump on Saudi deal.* Key and Peele - Sex Detective.* Trump steamrolls GMO regs.* Trump signs executive order, curtails states' ability to block dirty energy projects.* Crime to oppose pipeline construction, even indirectly?* More on anti-protest bill, welcome to Beijing, USA.* Four woman convicted of giving thirsty migrants water.* Iman says beat your wife but don't leave any marks. It will remind her she misbehaved."

puppy braid

I was lucky enough to run into these fine fellows walking their pooches behind my store this morning. Little guy was having a problem, the three pups kept getting tangled up into a knot. Dad was pretty patient, tried his best to keep him untied.

The raptor's perch

I've been up and down the last couple days recovery wise.

Energy, blood pressure, motivation. Have had some problems with dizziness and headaches.

I saw my cardiologist yesterday, back in sinus rhythm thankfully.

Will take somewhere between six weeks and six months to find stasis again.

Left early yesterday. Caught this red tailed hawk on a pole by the mailboxes on the way home.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Funky Revelation

The Straw Hat

I moved around quite a bit as a kid and one of the things you find is that every small town has its toughest guy, the legendary thumper that nobody wanted to mess with.

It was a guy named Stanley in Syosset, never actually met the man but the mere mention of his name caused people to quake in their boots. The apex alpha male phenomenon is very strong when young men are in their teens and twenties.

San Diego has a couple little burgs that have always been special places, known for their unusual inhabitants. I think of Ocean Beach, Descanso and that quaint little lakeside hamlet by Escondido, Del Dios. Del Dios has been under a no growth sewer moratorium since the 1960's and the people that live there are a slightly different breed, the Dons of Del Dios. Artists and bohemians, working men and women, unconventional types. It is a special place.

Life in Del Dios long revolves around the Del Dios Country Store, a place that has been open for I don't know how long but certainly back to the 1940's. Store often has included a bar and that is where this story starts.

The toughest guy in Del Dios back in the 1970's was a guy named George. Don't remember how to spell his last name, might have been Gerlichy. That is what it sounded like anyway. George was a friend of mine and the least likely looking tough guy one could ever meet. He was maybe 150 lbs. soaking wet. Not conspicuously muscular. Wiry and lean, liked to wear a straw hat. Very pleasant, never went looking for trouble but had his share of scraps.

George ran a drywall taping crew, worked for me for a while when I was building. And he had a reputation of not being a guy to mess with. Originally hailed from the mean streets of Cleveland, he might have been Czech or Hungarian.

Anyway, as my friend the late Garry Cohen told the story, one day a biker pulls into town with a girl on the back of his chopper and stops at the bar. He was typically drunk and belligerent, making a general ass of himself and started chirping about wanting to fight the toughest guy in town. People ignored him for a while but the name George slowly started to percolate up from the shadows. The biker hears the name and issues a challenge. "Where is this George guy?"

Fast forward an undetermined period of time. Word gets around to George, he shows up at the store.

"I hear you've been looking for me."

The biker pulls out a knife and brandishing it menacingly says,"I have."

George smiles and says, "Oh good, a knife." Now George always wore that wide brimmed straw hat.  He pulls the hat down off his head with his left hand, obscuring his face and shoulders and with the other hand, in one simultaneous motion punches right through the crown, landing on the miscreant's chin, knocking the Harley riding putz out instantly with one straight right.

"Damn," he says. "Have to buy me another hat."

George moved to Pauma Valley, eventually passed away due to a medical problem, as did Garry. He was the nicest guy you could ever meet but you would be foolish to ever fight a guy like him. Never fight a guy from Cleveland or Youngstown or Philly unless that you are very sure that you know what you are doing. These guys grew up on the veldt, they learn to jab right out of the crib.

Vaya con dios, Jorge y Geraldo.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Sour Milk Sea (Esher Demo)

Another song of Harrison's, along with the djangoey Not guilty, that George should have been allowed to put on the White Album. Eventually it was given to Apple protege Jackie Lomax. No wonder George had a chip on his shoulder. They wouldn't record his songs.

The called the White Album the Tension album. Paul pissing everybody off. Yoko doing her thing. John and Yoko taking heroin, Paul drinking. George Martin quitting, Ringo quitting (at least for a week), Geoff Emerick quits, interminable retakes of Paul's songs upsetting the apple cart.

Even so, these Esher demos from May of 1968, recorded at Harrison's estate Kinfauns, for one of the greatest Beatle's albums, are a revelation, all twenty seven of them. I think the Dear Prudence is far superior to the finished product, as are many of the raw tracks.  Each song is fresh and a new peak inside. The guitar playing on the entire demo album is simply sublime, imo Prudence is much better without Paul's booming bass.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Felinous assault

I was saddened to hear that the African male lion M'bari recently passed away at the San Diego Zoo. He was fifteen. His mate, Etosha, still lives.

As a native, I have been going to the zoo since I was an infant.  It was a different place when I was a kid, there were roosters and chickens freely strutting all over the grounds, the biggest stars back then were the black bears Yogi and Boo Boo.

Most of the subsequent changes to the zoo have been for the better but, in my opinion, not all of them. And the worst change of all was the lion enclosure situated by the gigantic Steele Elephant Odyssey.

The two lions were in an incredibly small cage, behind chain link wire, they always looked severely stressed out, as do the leopards pacing around down in cat canyon. The lions would walk the perimeter of their incredibly confined pen, spray onlookers, just never looked happy. The original multi level lion enclosure was definitely more spacious and chill. It was built in 1922, don't know why they made a downgrade change.

I have friends that hate zoos, I am a big lover and defender of my hometown zoo. But their current lion enclosure is a big fail. And adding to the stupidity was putting all the bronze dinosaurs next door in the fossil portal and adding the rattlesnake enclosure. Was that really necessary? Why waste the room? Why conflate zoology and archaeology in a time of limited funding?

We have plenty of rattlesnakes all over the place in San Diego. I personally think space for cats should trump an archaeological exhibit at a zoo. The elephants have all this room at the Elephant Odyssey and the lions get cooped up in this horrible and tiny enclosure. Having been on safari in Kenya and Tanzania, I know how much these big cats need space.

The zoo did such a great job with the Malayan tiger exhibit, hope they can one day grant the king of beasts the same sort of love and care.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Little Sun Glover

I read the other day that bluesman and harmonica whiz Tony Glover had passed. Tony was a Minnesota musician and one of the first authentic white bluesmen in America, with his band Koerner, Ray and Glover. Early sixties. Fairly literal interpretations of black blues music that had yet to resonate with white folk in our country. Took the British invasion to do that, specifically Stones, Yardbirds, Mayall and Alexis Korner. I had one or two of his blues harmonica books when I was a kid. He was a writer, a critic and an excellent musician. Left a contribution, did something nobody else was doing like him at the time. I think he taught Mick Jagger to play harp if memory serves.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Old and in the way

Thomas Cole - Catskill Mountain House - 1843
Odd, two national articles referencing the seminal Hudson River painter Thomas Cole this month. He's been gone for 171 years now by my reckoning.

It's not often that I find myself in agreement with a right wing columnist and I don't buy much of his argument but if you have an interest read Brian Allen's Classic American Art in the doldrums at National Review.

In terms of art and architecture we have largely thrown our classical foundations away for a chimera of empty dross and vacant fancy.

Still he goes a bit rhetorically overboard in his reasoning for the sea change in current taste to modernism, ascribing very convenient and tendentious political foils.
The great American landscape and seascape painters created a visual iconography for civic and religious ideals celebrating the country’s past, present, and future. Explorers, settlers, and cowboys were once heroes, making land and sea an asset for human advancement and prosperity. Now, they’re more likely racists, polluters, swindlers, killers.
His argument is weak. Cole painted in the era of the Grand Landscape, humans and their presence didn't really even start entering the picture plane in a major way here in America until the ashcan and social realist movements of the teens and twenties. And the human advancement of these settlers he romantically extols left a trail of devastation and misery for the native inhabitants.

He also unnecessarily takes a cheap shot at the African American artist Hale Woodruff, calling one of his works hideous and suggesting that the artist is unknown and has little merit, something I profoundly disagree with. He alleges that his currently popularity is merely race driven.
A hideous painting by Hale Aspacio Woodruff, Picking Cotton, from 1926, sold for $764,000. He’s a minor African-American artist. It’s not that Woodruff is in style; nobody’s heard of him. It’s his race and his subject that appeal.
I didn't realize that there was a cadre of right wing, racist art historians, guess I learned something new. Frightening.

The other article mentioning Cole is at the New Yorker, Timelessness in Works by Thomas Cole and Brice Marden by Peter Schjeldahl. The author compares the 19th century painter to a man he refers to as the last great American abstractionist. I don't really buy this either and don't know why he felt the need to conflate the two painters either for the purposes of this article they have as much in common as marbles and whipping cream.
All differences aside, I absorbed from works by both artists a poetic affirmation of reconciliation with nature, including the human kind, and a recoil from the wastage of nature’s gifts. The shows hint at long spiritual rhythms that are not lost, though they may be occluded, in the staccato frenzies of our day.
Very poetic but long spiritual rhythms are a bit over my pay grade, I'll take his word for it.

On the subject of Modern Art, looks like MoMA in New York is headed is heading in a better direction. See the New York Times, Will the renovated MoMA let folk art back in?

You can't stay stuck in the past but you throw it away at your peril. Many wonderful museums in this country that have done so have become mere bastions of institutional cynicism and shadows of their former selves. The DeYoung comes immediately to mind. If I want to see great art in San Francisco I go to the Legion of Honor.

Star struck

San Diego recently got its only Michelin starred restaurant, Addison. Sincere congratulations to them. I have only eaten there once and it was not quite my cup of tea, you might remember. But apparently the establishment is beloved by those that are obviously more in the know and gustatorily refined than I am.

If I want a great meal here I will either search for ethnic or cheap or go to Pampelmousse or maybe Vincent's but I don't need the chi chi bells and whistles of Addison and their food doesn't appeal to my particular palette. Or credit card for that matter.

I was maybe a little harsh the other day in my comments regarding said restaurant, admittedly a place where I have not dined in ten years and a man from Chicago apparently took umbrage. Said I might be better off at the Cracker Barrel. Never been, but will give it a shot. Thanks, Mr. Ravini!


Dear Prudence (Esher Demo)

All good

I am back home and recuperating from my recent surgery. Bed rest and no driving for three days, then restrictions on lifting objects over 20 lbs. and doing really stupid things for a while. Everything went perfect. Thanks to all of you well wishers who have been keeping tabs on me and sending me your love and prayers.

I had an ablation surgery, the electrophysiologist doctor ablated some scar tissue left over from my open heart surgery that was creating new aberrant circuits in my heart and keeping me out of sinus rhythm. Reflexively the heart tissue wants to make connections and sometimes, just like in matters of love, they don't quite work.

This procedure has about a 70% success rate for people in my condition on the first go. Often people have to undergo multiple ablations. I hope not. Will know in about six weeks if it worked.

They initially knock you out of rhythm and then map the resultant circuits on a screen. Dr. Gibson took a movie with his phone and later I watched me light up like a hannukah bush. I need to call his office and ask him to send me the file to share with you. My slightly over sized heart looked like the white whale swallowing Captain Ahab under a disco light. Actually oversized from previous murmur and mitral valve work, not some surfeit of love and compassion.

I have been in and out of the hospital probably more than anyone I know with the exception of Big Dave. Won't go through the entire litany, most of you know. I was a little nervous with this one, not sure why. Was thinking of my old friend Don Pearson, who died during a simple heart procedure. The truth is that any time you get an invasive procedure in the hospital where you get knocked out by an anesthesiologist, bad shit can happen. I am glad to be alive and awake.

The nurse did notice that my oxygen dropped way to low in the middle of the night and stuck the tubes in my nose. I have sleep apnea, as anyone who has ever roomed with me at night will tell you and I often seem to stop breathing. I need to deal with it. Another nurse said that I won't cure my afib until I get rid of the sleep apnea. Have been tiptoeing around it for too long, need to bite the bullet.

Definitely felt old when our twenty six year old nurse didn't know who John Lennon was, had heard of the Beatles but couldn't really pick one out and didn't know their music. Well, she said, until we sang Hey Jude to her and she hummed along.

Surgery is no fun, any surgery. Once again, for the fourth or fifth surgery in a row, I took no pain meds with the exception of two tylenol and gutted it out. This includes shoulder surgery and a kidney removal. It gets a bit gritty with this method but I find that you recover quicker. My pain level was never over a three on the ten scale this time but three is still a bit greater than a pain in the ass. They tap your femoral vein for this procedure, one of the insertion spots is still very tender. I have to be careful to just relax and not disturb the healing suture. Keep stair climbing to a minimum, flush system.

Great nurses, top to bottom. Had one problem with an i.v. infiltration that created a nasty bump but it thankfully relaxed and is now nearly back to normal. I know the system in a hospital, know how far to push and am a recognized expert at poaching free graham crackers in the middle of the night. Just have to learn to tie the back of my robe up a little better, was freaking out the nurses. I stated atheist for religious preference, probably should have gone with the jewish and I would have received a better kosher dinner. The asian chicken was tough as shoe leather and coated with red bell peppers, my culinary nemesis.

Picked up a bunch of new meds and now need to just read, rest and try to not to dwell on paying the bills for a week or two, put life and stress on hold for a few days if possible. Try to cut the salt intake.

I got word yesterday morning that a close friend and associate in the business took her life a few days ago. We spoke not a week ago. We had both shared intimate details regarding our mutual battles with severe depression and she had helped me not all that long ago when I was in a deep and dark funk.

People say that it is selfish and it very well may be but there comes a time when people just can't take it anymore and can't see a way out, no matter who you are and what your station in life. Everyone has a breaking point.

I know from experience that things often look different in the light of a new day. I will miss her. I am running the tapes of our last conversation through my mind over and over again, was I dismissive, was I listening, did I fail to hear the information she was trying to impart, did I act as a friend is properly supposed to act? I don't know that I will ever be able to give myself a proper answer.

She had split from her wife and was worried that they could not separately have homes that could keep their kids in the right school. So fucking sad. From the outside you know the kids would trade her for any school.  It's hard not to think about her. Fuck. We still own something together but it is the last of my worries, she helped me out when I was down.

I am reading three books this weekend, finally finishing up the Pushkin compilation, loved Dubrovsky. Got a book titled Strangers in a stolen land, American Indians in San Diego 1850 to 1880 by Richard Carrico which is very well researched and also Dale Walker's Bear Flag Rising, The Conquest of California, 1846, which I may not get to for a while depending on how much I stay off the computer.

Leslie is really taking great care of me and all is well. Thanks for caring.

Manny Robles

I enjoy boxing and like many people, was totally blown away by the Andy Ruiz fight. The new heavyweight champion, a boxer from Imperial with humble roots and a lion's heart. And an unconventional build. Having been in the martial arts ring, I know its not about the dog in the fight but also the fight in the dog. But more importantly, it is the fact that the kid boxed from the age of six and has very fast hands. The training and technique is burned into his muscle memory. Fearless, after he got tagged he let it all go. Kid is a fighter and I wish him continued success.

I rarely put up stuff like this but am so impressed with his trainer. Boxer doesn't win, he doesn't eat. Hard to watch this and not both empathize with him and like him. Looking forward to the rematch.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

China Doll

Smite the Palm Haters!

Palm Canyon - Balboa Park

Did anybody see this letter to the Union Tribune the other day?

San Diego needs shade trees, not palm trees

In many cities in the country, they are going to great expense to remove utility poles because they are not attractive. In San Diego, we have an enormous number of equally unattractive palm trees.
They are similar to 30- to 40-foot utility poles with a small amount of green foliage on top. These palm trees cast little shade, allowing the pavement below to be hot to the touch. Not good on an 85-degree day.
Contrast this with streets that have shade trees. Certainly this has been recognized as an environmental and fiscal problem. It takes very large and expensive cranes to hoist tree trimmers to prune these ugly giants. I was distressed to learn that planting these ugly monsters is still allowed. The nearly finished condo on the corner of Maple and 5th has two newly planted palm trees.
When will we stop allowing new palm trees and start removing most of the present palm trees?
Jack Machun - Bankers Hill
Hey Jack. As a San Diego native and ardent palm tree lover, I suggest you move your butt out of Bankers Hill and back to whatever sorry ass briar patch you hail from, lickety split. These "ugly giants" define our native landscape and you would be surprised to know that they have legions of hometown fans. You must hate Balboa Park and the zoo too, they have some of the most wonderful specimens of butia, bismarckia and reclinata palms one could find anywhere in the world. Or Mission Bay with its extraordinary jubea palms in front of the Bahia. You are obviously not a local. Probably don't know who Johnny Downs was, or Dick Dale, or Enzo Hernandez either, for that matter.  Doesn't sound like you are the right fit for your tony neighborhood. I say we pass the hat and get you and your burned toes a plane ticket back to Paducah as fast as you can waddle home. Leave San Diego to those that appreciate it!
Robert Sommers - Fallbrook

I Walk On Guilded Splinters

Sick of Mick

Michael Kovac / Getty
When queried on the proposed new tariffs on Mexico, Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said something so incredibly stupid the other day.

He said that American consumers will not pay for the burden of these tariffs. 

Really Mick, you think that business, small and large, will absorb all of these new costs without passing them to consumers?

You sir, are an idiot.

He also said that the standoff would not hurt ongoing negotiations on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, saying that the proposed North American Free Trade Agreement replacement was a trade issue rather than an immigration issue and that the two are “not interrelated.”

You sir, are a fool.

This is a bald face lie. The Trump administration has itself conflated the two issues by demanding an immigration cessation in order to stop the proposed tariffs. These tariffs on Mexico, our largest trading partner, are set to start at 5% and accelerate to 25%. GOP Senators from Texas to the midwest know how badly they will hurt their state economies and are sounding the alarms but Trump blindly rushes forward. 

Mexico sent the United States $346.5 billion of goods last year—meaning that a 5 percent tariff on those products would amount to a tax increase of more than $17 billion.

In the car segment alone: 

The Center for Automotive Research estimates that a 5% tariff rate would increase the price of an average new vehicle built in the United States by at least $250. At a 25% tariff rate, U.S.-built vehicle prices would rise at least $1,100. Vehicles imported from Mexico would see sharper price increases — at least $1,100 at 5% tariff rate and at least $5,400 if the tariffs were ratcheted up to 25% by this fall. Overall, the tariffs would reduce U.S. gross domestic product by at least $7 billion to $34 billion annually and cause the loss of 82,000 to 390,000 U.S. jobs.  

Just how dumb do these people think we are? Stop pissing on our legs and telling us it's raining.


According to a WaPo article by Mary Beth Sheridan, the flow of immigrants of United States citizens moving to Mexico is probably currently higher than the migrant flow heading north. 
Mexico’s statistics institute estimated this month that the U.S.-born population in the country has reached 799,000 — a roughly fourfold increase since 1990. And that is probably an undercount. The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City estimates the real number at 1.5 million or more.They’re a mixed group. They’re digital natives who can work just as easily from Puerto Vallarta as Palo Alto. They’re U.S.-born kids — nearly 600,000 of them — who’ve returned with their Mexican-born parents. And they’re retirees like Guzmán, who settled in this city five years ago and is now basically the pickleball king of San Miguel.If the thousands of Mexicans moving home are taken into account, the flow of migrants from the United States to Mexico is probably larger than the flow of Mexicans to the United States.
 Funny nobody ever talks about that.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Save the country

Honest appraisal

An unknown guy calls me up the other day, said he has an oil painting that he would like me to look at. "Who's the artist?" I ask. "Lockwood D--- "he says. I'm thinking the Santa Barbara artist Lockwood DeForest, and I ask him to text me a picture. People are often asking me for free appraisals and I usually don't mind helping them.

I received the picture and it was a nondescript forest painting with heavy paint buildup signed L. Dennis. The kind of colorful but dead painting that you regularly in see in mobile home clubhouses or second hand stores, circa late fifties, early sixties. They were usually painted in China or Vietnam and got produced by the bushel.

I either called or texted him back and told him that the artist was not listed and that he had a canvas that we in the business call a "factory painting." Created in towns like this. Only had what we in the trade call "decorative value." No response from him, beyond a texted "okay," no thanks.

That night, at four in the morning and change I got an angry text message; "Fuck your no listing, fuck your shitty factory painting." That was all.

Obviously my honest appraisal of his artwork was not what he wanted to hear.  He thought the painting would make him rich and I unfortunately killed his dream. He wanted to benefit from my expertise, which I gave him for nothing and then was pissed off at me to boot when he didn't like what I told him. I blocked his number.

But his tone was so angry that it actually worried me. Is it so far off to think that someone would come after me and do me or my family harm because they did not like the information they received in a free appraisal? I told my wife about the incident when she came home from Santa Rosa. She told me that maybe I can't be honest with people. Shame. It is going to make appraising really tough.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Western Kingbird pondering the meaning of existence.

Transformative change is needed

One time Fallbrookian Dan Gluesenkamp co-authored an excellent newspaper opinion with Governor Jerry Brown this week, Finding Hope in the face of Extinction.

The article ran in the San Francisco Chronicle this Sunday. It's easy to be pessimistic in this depressing time with all of the miserable environmental news. Dan and Jerry actually offer us some rare hope here. Once again, California provides a model for change to the rest of the country.
...amid the roar of Silicon Valley traffic, suburban sprawl and an agricultural industry that feeds our nation, we’ve very nearly stopped plant extinction. The list of California native plants now has 22 extinct as we rediscover species — it was 27 a few years ago.
Dan now lives in the Bay Area, he is the executive director of the California Native Plant Society and a long time friend and reader of the blog.

I have written about his important work and mission several times before. Here is a TedTalk by Doctor Gluesenkamp, Dare to end extinction.

Proud of you, Dan! And more importantly, I agree and believe in your message.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

First Snoop, now this...

While I am toiling  down here in the salt mines, look who is kicking it with Sean Lennon up in Santa Rosa this weekend.

Sunday antics

What possesses a man to get up at four in the morning and shoot pictures of birds? Please let me know, I am freaking exhausted. But there was a confluence of events to think about. The baby peregrine falcons only started to fly three or four days ago but the window is short before the young flyers disappear from the horizon completely. I had images to capture.

I am going under the small knife with a procedure in just a couple days and will need a little recuperation. It was now or never.

I drove down in drizzly rain, arrived at Torrey Pines a little after six and walked down from the parking on the highway. I had the beach to myself. High on the hill to my east I could see two of the three peregrine youngsters bobbing on the bluff top.

These two were not flying and I was there to see a flying display. Aerobatics, food exchanges, the whole megillah. But they were clearly not interested.

I walked back to my van and drove to the self pay for my twenty dollar pass into the Torrey Pines State Reserve. Forgot my license plate but got close. Would see if I had better luck up top.

I drove up the hill to the dirt area where people hiking the Guy Fleming trail park. I was close to the ocean bluff when I saw the adult male on a dead Torrey perch.

Sometimes a good sign, sometimes the only bird you will see all day. You really never know in this business.

I met two or three other photographers, all bearing similarly oversized equipment. And we waited. And waited.

Saw birds once or twice but they were not very active, frankly they were really being quite coy. Sky stayed overcast all morning.

We had nothing to do but wait. There is a lot of waiting involved in the hunting business, whether your primary tool is a rifle or camera.

People are under the impression that we call these lovely creatures in like Doctor Doolittle but it really doesn't happen that way. Still need a dollop of luck and/or providence.

I did catch this beautiful young falcon cruise by on nascent wings.

And then we waited. And waited. And waited some more. The docent Herb came by, an affable german man. He explained that one of the three progeny flew off a few days before the others, that is why I have only been seeing two birds this week.

An hour went by, then two, then three. The birds were right below us on the ledge but not active. I had met Ken in the morning, a fellow Nikoner and a retired I.T. guy. We talked a bunch about various things and he finally packed it up and headed for home.

A few minutes later a young couple came by and said there was a young peregrine perched way over in another part of the preserve. I decided to make something happen, hiked over with my heavy gear, no guts, no glory. Found nothing of course. Turned out to be a red tailed hawk.

My left knee, which is bone on bone at this point and killing me, was just about to collapse, but I decided to make one more trail loop before I too headed for the exit.

Was talking to an asian lady when a young peregrine appeared out of nowhere and sailed right toward us. The fastest creature on earth had built up quite a head of steam.

Lo and behold it swooped down to a treetop not four feet from us, so close that I was almost unable to fit the bird into my prime picture frame. Truth be told, closer than I have ever been to a falcon. Like reach out and touch somebody.

I packed it in. I got my shot, all that I came for and more. Look forward to going through all of these pictures and seeing what else is usable in the near future.

I was famished, had not eaten since I made a paltry snack for dinner last night. I called Tracy and Stanley up and we had a nice lunch at Paon in Carlsbad. I am headed home to take a nap, a successful shoot now squarely in the bag. Peregrine fledging is definitely one of my favorite times of the year.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

White faced ibis

Child Of Nature

Gadzooks, it's a godwit!

I am a member of a couple birdwatching yahoo websites, both Inland Empire and San Diego. They keep you informed about what's in the air. This week on the latter people are going gaga over a Hudsonian godwit that is gracing our western shores for the first time in memory. Every move this fairly nondescript bird takes is duly noted and documented. He has been given the name of Hugo by the faithful.

This particular godwit (Limosa haemastica) is a large shorebird in the sandpiper family, Scolopacidae. The genus name Limosa is from Latin and means "muddy", from limus, "mud". The specific haemastica is from Ancient Greek and means "bloody." It breeds in Alaska and the Hudson Bay and then like Canadians in Winnebagos flocking to Quartsite or New York yids traveling to Miami, finally makes its way south in the summer.

I don't really get the hubbub but that's me. I think its a little bigger than your normal godwit but that is all I know. A guy named Ed Henry took this picture of said bird and put it on the yahoo site. I'm guessing that he is the big guy in back.

© Ed Henry

As obsessed as many of you think I am about birds, my obsession is rather selective. I like the colorful, the diminutive and the raptors but there are giant holes in my game.

Real birders scoff at me and mock my avian myopia. A tunnel vision which I readily admit and even embrace.

They sometimes even write mean messages on the dirty back window of my van.

While the Inland group will occasionally post a message or picture from me, and are always very nice and appreciative, the San Diego guys are a bit snobbish, they wouldn't touch me with a ten foot godwit. I get little messages like this one back from them with no explanation.

Which is okay. I know my limitations. I am a half ass bird photographer, not a birder. I can't differentiate 90% of the sparrow species, my ability to recognize most bird songs is woeful at best.

If I get brilliant at all this one day, cool, but I am content to slowly plod along. If I need help with identifications, Ken or Beth always provide very cordial assistance.

Actually the birding websites are on top of a lot of things. Like this message from last week:

Two days later a four year old kid was attacked by the lion, which was hunted down and ultimately dispatched. So you see, birders are pretty together. We just want to be left alone in nature and hopefully skirt our way around the felines with the sharp claws.

I went birding yesterday. Drove up to the San Jacinto Wildlife Area for a look around. I keep forgetting how bleak it can get as we near summer. Saw exactly one redtail, one harrier. No kestrels, falcons, eagles, nothing. It is over until the fall.

Not even a coot in sight. I thought with all the rain that things would be still rolling merrily along. Wrong. Ponds are drying up.


I did get my mile walk in with heavy gear in tow. Been walking every day, surgery coming up you know.

Saw some birds. Lots of ibis. A couple kingbirds. A flotilla of red winged blackbirds. An avocet, a kildeer. Mr. Loggerhead Shrike.

A nuttal's woodpecker.

Lots of egrets. A few ducks. Walker pond road was closed for some reason. As I left I heard the beautiful sound that could only mean one thing, a meadowlark in the area.

And there he was, one of nature's most gorgeous voices.

And all was good.

Friday, May 31, 2019


Being a temporary bachelor, I opportunistically waggled my way to a dinner invitation over at the Accent Mark and Vern's house last night.

She is an incredibly good cook and I was definitely not disappointed. Delicious, moist, roasted chicken, sweet potatoes and a salad. And I left with a large bag of avocados.

They have a large coterie of hummingbirds making themselves a regular presence at their feeders.

What was I supposed to do, the camera was in the car?

This guy has pollen rubbed all over his head, sort of looks like a hare krishna.

Donald Byrd

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Current events

Good Jonathan Chait article on the Mueller brouhaha today. And another. Barr says that if things were so bad Mueller would have brought charges. Mueller says that charges were never a legal option. The split widens.

North Korea executes five officials for failed summit, sticks another in hard labor. Is it any wonder that Trump loves this guy so much? And who really cares about a few short range ballistic missiles?

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Harrier female

White tailed kite

Needle In a Haystack

One of the cool things about Sirius Radio is that occasionally great musicians will DJ and play stuff from their personal collection. Long time blog readers know how much I love Tommy James and the Shondells. Tommy played this cut on his excellent show last week, but I forgot the name of the Velvelettes tune and couldn't find it on line. I wrote to him on his website and one of his peeps named Ed Osborne kindly wrote me back. Thanks Ed and thank you Tommy!

Black Headed Grosbeak