Wednesday, May 24, 2017

George Harrison - Mama, You Been On My Mind

Another hummer

I saw this hummingbird in my Hong Kong Orchid yesterday. It was very brown and I think that she might be a female rufous.

I predict that the bug upper left is not long for this world.

Breaking the ice

There was a neat bit of cognitive dissonance last week at President Trump's address to the Coast Guard Academy. Reversing course on the plans to cut a billion dollars from the Coast Guard's budget that he announced in March, Trump now wants to build a new fleet of icebreakers.
"It's only the Coast Guard that has the power to break through 21 feet of rock solid Arctic ice -- right?" Trump said to the crowd. "And I am proud to say that under my administration... we will be building the first new heavy icebreakers the United States has seen in over 40 years. We're gonna build many of them. We need 'em," Trump told the crowd.
Icebreakers are of course necessary because due to global warming, large blocks of arctic ice are now breaking off into the sea, creating serious navigation hazards. While some are welcoming global warming for its potential on opening up new sea lanes to the north, the Coast Guard Academy has long seen the peril in climate change. Read US Navy and Coast Guard testimony on the subject here.
Climate change impacts in the Arctic have resulted in significant reductions in sea ice, making the Arctic Ocean increasingly accessible. We have also seen an increase in shipping through the Bering Strait, a potential future funnel for trans-Arctic shipping traffic. In addition, the ice-diminished maritime environment is attracting resource exploration in areas previously inaccessible. Advancing safety in the Arctic Ocean requires improved maritime domain awareness, for which navigational services such as weather and sea ice forecasting and nautical charting are critically important.
We are prioritizing emergency response by convening exercises under the auspices of the Agreement on Cooperation on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue in the Arctic and the Agreement on Cooperation on Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic to examine the coordination of emergency response capabilities of the Arctic States, in conjunction with local communities. We are fostering new partnerships with government institutions, the private sector and indigenous communities for emergency response and environmentally responsible maritime activity in the region. The Arctic Council also continues to develop a network of existing marine protected areas to leverage international best practices for sensible maritime activities that avoid areas of ecological and cultural significance where possible. In addition, a Task Force on Arctic Marine Cooperation is assessing future needs for deepened coordination among the Arctic States in the Arctic Ocean.
The cold temperatures of the Arctic Ocean make it particularly vulnerable to ocean acidification. If current emissions trends continue, scientists predict that, by the end of the century, the Arctic waters will become corrosive to all shell-building organisms, thereby threatening an important component of the marine ecosystem as these organisms are a critical food source. The Arctic Council is working to expand the Arctic reach of the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network, increase the number of stakeholders trained to conduct ocean acidification monitoring, and raise public awareness of this threat to the entire Arctic food web and the people whose livelihoods depend on these creatures.
We remain cognizant of how changes in the Arctic have created significant challenges and opportunities for every Arctic nation, especially for our own American citizens in Alaska. The warming climate threatens the traditional ways of life of Arctic residents and risks disrupting ecosystem balance. During the U.S. Chairmanship, we are striving to bring tangible benefits to communities across the Arctic. Admiral Robert Papp, Jr., USCG, Retired U.S. Special Representative for the Arctic, U.S. Department of State
Global warming is seen by Navy and Coast Guard experts as dangerous on a myriad of fronts, which include rising sea levels, ocean acidification, supercharging of hurricanes and other extreme weather events. But it is taboo for people in this administration to mention the elephant in the room, climate change, so we now have the prospect of a President ordering new tools to fight a problem that officially doesn't exist. Brilliant!


Glacier Park had 159 glaciers when it was founded in 1920. It is now down to 39 but 10 of those have lost at least half their area in the last fifty years. These glaciers have been on the planet for the last 7000 years. We are poised to lose them within a generation. Read about the subject here. Reportedly the USGS is removing information from its websites relating to glacial loss.

Nature - new study refutes Scott Pruitt on global warming.

Look at the top graph. Do you see the overall trend as going up, going down or staying even over time?

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Chicken Shack

Los pájaros

Ferruginous hawk, SJWA
The big plan was to go to Torrey Pines Preserve today and shoot falcons. But the road needed emergency repairs down there and was shut down.

And my photo pal I was going to shoot with couldn't go. So I worked a little in my shop this morning and tried to put some of my affairs in order.

I'm not even sure if there are babies this year. But I love kicking it down there and I'm ready to take a shot when the opportunity presents.

Yesterday Leslie and I stopped back at Tamarisk to see if we could find one of the long eared owls. No luck and we both looked really hard.

Peregrine Falcon

I did see an all white juvenile barn own fly out of 24. Don't think it was a long eared juvenile anyway.

My wife mentioned how I never want to go out, to concerts, social events and the like anymore. She's right.

Late life social aversion complex. Do real well with several not so good with a bunch, especially when they are drinking, or packed together like sardines, or dumb as doors.

Ziggy Marley concert last year was the worst. Great music but I realized that I was done at large outdoor events. Need my space. can't take compression anymore.

But I do love the birds.

Probably won't make it to Alaska this year or much anywhere else, with the exception of Canada. No interest in trips or expeditions. And the photographic equipment I have at present is more than adequate for my purposes. Will work close, with what I have, and hopefully continue to improve as an artist, pay the bills and be a good husband and brother.


Quiet for a second....Did you hear that? Real faint sound.

You know what that is? Listen close.

That's your dignity coming back. Dig?

Attention scofflaws, indigents, millstones, all you lazy larcenous bastards out there who have spent literally years gaming the system from the hard working American taxpayer and that includes you old and sick people, well there is a new sheriff in town. Welcome to the Church of Trump. Know that ye have been judged and you are guilty cheaters until you can prove otherwise.

The Director of the Office of Management and Budget is ready to save you from yourselves. Mike Mulvaney is about to kick your good for nothing butts right off the American dole. And you are going to love him for it. Maybe not right now and maybe not in this lifetime but somewhere down the road in this world or in heaven, this will be the dude to thank. Because you will have your dignity back.
“We need people to go to work,” Mulvaney said. “If you’re on food stamps and you’re able-bodied, we need you to go to work. If you’re on disability insurance and you’re not supposed to be, you're not truly disabled, we need you to go back to work. There’s a dignity to work. There’s a necessity to work to help the country succeed, and we need everybody to be pulling in the same direction.”
Besides smiting the poor, the budget does a lot of other swell stuff. Not just quash the budget for climate change, who didn't see that coming, but a whole host of things. NIH, Cancer research, Centers for Disease Control, FDA, all that fluffy stuff. Gone.

It all may go to hell in a hand basket but at least we will have our dignity back and be able to once again look at our no good asses in the mirror. Bless you.

Black Hole Sun


Leslie in front of Breceda Dragon

It has been an incredibly beautiful week in Southern California, our first really hot days but well complimented by a nice breeze. Leslie and I decided to check out the desert Sunday and drove out to Borrego Springs.

Burts circa 1930
We stayed at the beautiful resort La Casa del Zorro. Awesome place. There weren't a lot of other guests and it felt at times like we had the resort to ourselves.

The rooms are really, really nice, we got a downstairs suite that opened up to a nice pool and jacuzzi. There are five pools on property, this one had a few cabanas so my fair skinned sweetheart was able to stay out of the hot sun.

The rooms are really cheap, about half the price of Two Bunch Palms and the environs aren't sketchy like they are in Desert Hot Springs. A pool view room can be found for eighty five bucks on Expedia. We paid about thirty five bucks more for a deluxe room. Peanuts. Some people we met at breakfast flew over from Carlsbad in their plane and there is a convenient shuttle from the airport.

La Casa Del Zorro started out as the Burks Ranch in Borrego and opened as the Desert Lodge Hotel in 1933. In 1960 it was bought by San Diego newspaper magnate James Copley. Copley was very conservative and his Republican books and signed memorabilia still litter the foyer. The Copley Family sold a few years ago after David's passing and the new owners have done a very nice job renovating and bringing things up to a first class level.

It also houses quite a few paintings by the late stagecoach artist Marjorie Reed, many of which still reside on its walls. The Butterfield Overland Mail passed through Borrego on the first overland mail delivery between St. Louis and San Francisco. The 2,812 mile trip took 23 days, 23 hours, and 30 minutes.  Operations were suspended in 1861.

We would go back in a heartbeat, an hour and a half drive through lovely backcountry between Fallbrook and our destination.

We ate at Carmelitas in the evening, I am a nut for their mole. In the morning we decided to try the fare at the resort. Bit pricey but my corn flake french toast was best in show.

Would love to get a bunch of couples out there, have a party, rent a bunch of rooms one day. You in?

We got back home to a yard that was teeming with beautiful flowers, including many of my gladiolus blooms that I have been eagerly awaiting.

This hummingbird to our left is feeding on a flower of the lovely desert bird of paradise plant or Caesalpinia macrantha.

It has been a nice addition to our garden and I can't wait until both it and the Palo Verde Tree Desert Museum reach maturity.

I grabbed my camera and a chair and watched the hummingbirds cavort around the buds for a couple hours, an activity I plan on repeating all summer.

Herding hummers is far from easy. They don't exactly like to land where you want them and they are as fast as dragonflies.

Protea for lunch bunch
But I discovered a trick to get them to come hither. Turn on a sprinkler, they like to play in the water. As do the many mockingbirds on my property.

Should be a very nice summer. At least as far as the birds, bees and flowers are concerned.

Will keep you posted.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Talking Heads - Heaven

Cross pollination

I figure that I have at least three separate lives, the blog, the business and real life. Occasionally they intermix but I don't tend to get too much into the business stuff on these pages, unless of course I am bitching about one thing or another.

In any case I sent this letter out to some of my clients yesterday and thought that my blog readers might want to follow the links and check it out.

Dear friends,

It is annoying to get constant, if not daily solicitations from galleries and companies to buy their stuff. Who has the time and who has the money?
I don't clog your inbox like that, know a few nice folks that do (Now my blog, that's a different story, let me know if you want off that list...) 

There is a guy in New York that sells decent fine art and every email he sends out says Wow! in the subject line like
he's hawking hair removal tonic or maybe widgetsI would never buy from a guy like that on sheer principle. Well, maybe a Buick. Bombarding inboxes isn't copacetic and I won't do that to you.

If you haven't checked out my website for a while, please do look at some of the wonderful objects under new stuff. I will try to put more and more up in the coming weeks.

Have a wonderful summer. I will be exhibiting in both Albuquerque and Santa Fe this year. Open every Saturday that I am here, or am trying to be. Please come visit.


Robert Sommers
Blue Heron Gallery
113 N. Main Ave.
Fallbrook, CA 92028

Pomo gift basket

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Tomato, Tomahto

Whenever I hear people fumble over the name of the cherubic Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein I have to sing this song with fresh lyrics:

Rosenshteen, Rosenshtine, Rosenshteen, Rosen-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha...

cue Young Frankenstein:

Rosenstein needs to put this national pronunciation battle to bed, for once and for all. The people demand it.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Koi - Self Realization Fellowship

Boz Scaggs and the boys

Heavens to Murgatroyd

Vlad was asking me how I decided what to write when there is so much low hanging fruit waiting to be picked?

Good question. There are plenty of people out there commenting, pontificating and hair splitting so although I was once much more thorough, I really don't see the need anymore to turn over every topical rock.

Although some of you do get your news from the blast, I would not recommend it. While I think I get closer to fair and balanced than Fox News does, we all have our slants. I'm just a little more honest about mine.

But I am in no way comprehensive. I suggest Google News and Politico, perhaps Real Clear Politics if you want comprehensive and truly balanced. That villain of the right, the New York Times, does a pretty good job. Or do what I do, read everything, left and right and figure it out for yourself. Townhall gives you a pretty good snapshot into the conservative mind, albeit in a somewhat evangelical and red meat fashion.

When I want candy or to merely reinforce my pre-existing political preconceptions, I grab for Huffington Post or Talking Points Memo. That's pretty much my news round up.

And then there are you guys.

Vlad said something funny yesterday which got me laughing. He and his wife Natasha were talking about the etymology of the phrase "Heavens to Murgatroyd." She thought it was Shakespearean. "No honey," he said. "It is Snagglepussian."

And Vladimir was indeed right. I looked it up. If you don't remember, Snagglepuss was a character on the Yogi Bear cartoon put out by the folks at Hannah Barbera.

Snagglepuss was a mountain lion. He actually first appeared on the Quick Draw McGraw show in 1959 as Snaggletooth. He got his own gig on the Yogi Bear Show, a show which debuted in 1961 and ran two seasons.  He also had bit parts on Augie Doggie & Doggie Daddy and Snooper & Blabber. Not easy for a coral colored feline to find work. Later he managed to eke out an existence on some Yogi spinoffs in the 1970's.

Heavens to Murgatroyd is a close linguistic cousin to Heavens to Betsy. And while there are plenty of Betsys, Murgatroyds are apparently a rarer breed. There are ten Murgatroyds in Gilbert and Sullivan's comic opera Ruddigore from 1887.

But the name is far older.
Where then did the librettist Sir William Gilbert get the name? It seems that Murgatroyd has a long history as a family name in the English aristocracy. In his genealogy The Murgatroyds of Murgatroyd, Bill Murgatroyd states that, in 1371, a constable was appointed for the district of Warley in Yorkshire. He adopted the name of Johanus de Morgateroyde - literally John of Moor Gate Royde or 'the district leading to the moor'.
By the way, Snagglepuss is a gay icon in some circles, said to be one of the gayest cartoon characters ever to inhabit a cell. Actually came out in a later incarnation even.

Heavens to Betsy?

First usage found was in the US journal Ballou's dollar monthly magazine, Volume 5, January 1857 as part of a dialogue. While some have made allusions to flagmaker Betsy Ross, jury is still out on this one. Some lexicographers feel that the origin will never be solved although there is a school of thought that a betsy might have been a pet name for a frontiersman's gun. Davy Crockett named his favorite rifle Pretty Betsy. In the TV show where he is portrayed by Fess Parker, the flintlock is known as Ol' Betsy.

And that's how I come up with my material. Now exit, stage left.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Manuel de Falla

Memories of Spain

Stairwell, Sacrada Familia

Ancient portal, Alhambra

Twinkle - Madrid - Barajas

Subterranean view- Barcelona

Silhouette - Meskita, Cordoba

Mosaic maker - Andalusia

Pigeon and piety, Sevilla

Street performer - Madrid

Lightmaker's shop - Toledo

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Happy birthday, Taj Mahal

Spasiba, tovarish

This Washington Post headline today is sort of a hoot. If Congress wants to know about the Trump Administration, the Kremlin is only too happy to help.

Cañon clouds

Saw a video at the Washington Post today about clouds in the Grand Canyon.  Honestly didn't know it was such a big deal. We got totally clouded in this year. I would have blabbed to holy hell if I knew it was a rare event.

Brian Jones and Peter & Gordon - "Love Me, Baby" (Asher, Waller) 1964

Some friends...

I bag on President Trump quite often, not agreeing with the great majority of his policies. But like a broken clock, he is occasionally right.

I agreed with his taking a stand for the Syrian Kurds, agreeing to arm them recently, against Turkish objections.

The Kurds are an ancient people, who long inhabited an ancient land and were dispossessed, much like the jews. They seem to be our only reliable ally in the muslim world. They deserve an autonomous homeland.

It is amazing that the Turks can come to the United States of America and beat up Kurdish protesters indiscriminately.

Armed bodyguards of Erdogan beat several nonviolent protesters bloody this week in Washington D.C., including several elderly men.

The Trump administration needs to protest this shameful event and condemn the Turks in the strongest of terms.

The Turks of course view the incident differently. They cast it as a failure on the part of local police.
The Anadolu news agency framed the guards’ actions as a response to the presence of “terrorist” sympathizers — apparently a reference to Kurdish activists.
The news agency criticized U.S. police for failing to end the dissent; such protests are largely suppressed in Turkey.

Mr. Bojangles

Egret, San Elijo