© Robert Sommers 2018

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Corvid and eagle

I have noticed a curious relationship between the smartest and the most powerful of birds. In a contest put your money on smart.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Leslie Sommers, hero.

Watch this video in its entirety and you will see a familiar face. Leslie was driving in this afternoon when she saw a fire on the side of the road on East Mission Rd. spreading near the water tank. Rather than call 911 she called the Fallbrook Fire hotline directly. It took about seven minutes for trucks to arrive. But her car wouldn't start and she was trapped at the scene for over two and a half hours. Firefighters fought the blaze for about an hour. Couldn't get a tow truck in, so she was stuck and worried about her car catching fire at one point.

Very proud of my wife. If she had not been on top of things and vigilant there's no telling how out of hand the blaze might have become.

Chow time

I had quite a few great meals in the bay area. Being the week of my birthday, I got treated a lot, something I really appreciate and am thankful for. Too much food consumed and water over the bridge to be comprehensive but did want to touch on a few high notes.

First night Michael took me to Sapore Italiano in Burlingame. His favorite current spot. I am a sucker for great Italian food and this place was indeed excellent. Started off with arancini, the filled and panko covered deep fried rice balls with marinara sauce. Small but lovely and delicious. For my entree I had rooster pasta with duck ragu. Rustic and hardy, just how I like it. Fabulous. Thanks, Mike!

Sapore Italiano
1447 Burlingame Ave
Burlingame, CA 94010

(650) 348-3277

I took Gordon, Charlie, Rosemary to Creola, my old mainstay in San Carlos. It was their first time and they were due. Forced Charlie to have the filet mignon, Creola's is my favorite anywhere. I started off with the crab and shrimp bisque, a little cornbread round and ended up ordering the shrimp etouffee which was good but not quite as epic as some other things I have ordered there in the past. I think you have to be in Louisiana to get it perfect. Gordon loved his shrimp creola, Rosemary had the buttermilk chicken. They seemed happy, don't think they would fib to me. Ended up with the great beignets and Rosie got some sort of pudding. They bought. Thank you!

344 El Camino Real
San Carlos, CA 94070

(650) 654-0882

Bill, Cam, Rick and I ate at Rocca in Burlingame one night. I had a Fred Flintstone sized monster lamb shank which was scrumptious. The calamari we shared was maybe the worst I have ever tasted. Don't think there was a speck of squid in those limp and languid atrocities. But what a lamb shank! And did I mention that it was free? Think Sapore is frankly a cut above Rocca but who asked me...Thanks boys!

Rocca Ristorante
1205 Broadway
Burlingame, CA 94010
(650) 344-3900

Stayed with Big Dave on Monday. We drove into the city and stopped at the Rincon Towers for dim sum at Yank Sing. There is another location on Stevenson St., this one has lovely murals in the lobby of the building.

Yank Sing may be the most outstanding dim sum I have ever eaten and I have been around the block a few times. The barbecued pork was unbelievable. No corners are cut, the fish looked incredible too. I really love this place. Rich was late joining us and we ate like pigs in his absence. And he picked up the check! Which is good because we really chowed down. I will say that the xlb dumplings were not as flavorful as I am used to. Lot left to discover there. Need to go back again and pronto. Treat yourself or even better, have someone treat you. Thanks, Rich!

Yank Sing
101 Spear St
San Francisco, CA 94105
b/t Mission St & Howard St
Financial District, SoMa
(415) 781-1111

red tailed aloft

Monday, November 12, 2018

Moonrise over Gavilan Mountain

Hearing footsteps?

Don't sweat it Donny, the stock market will be just fine. Even when you are in jail.

Many A Long And Lonesome Highway

zebras in mono

Goodby Stan Lee

Driving south

I decided to take slow road south from San Francisco, drive the coast route, maybe snap a couple pics. It was a nice day, sort of hazy and non eventful.  Chill and heal was the order of the day.

Hardly took any pictures as it turned out. A romantic drive I would much prefer to take with my wife than drive alone by myself.

Kind of day and view that would make the folks in flyover country envious but is just sort of ho hum typical for we coastal natives.

I drove past Point Lobos and Big Sur, drove past Hearst Castle and had a real start at San Simeon. Was I hallucinating or did I just pass a herd of zebras?

The cold meds were pretty strong but not enough to send me tripping through the looking glass and I have eschewed psychedelic sacraments for several decades. No, these were definitely zebras all right.

I started up the road to Hearst Castle but decided that I didn't want to do it without Leslie and turned around in the parking lot. But I would have to find out about this zebra thing. Or was it merely a refuge for the poor painted donkeys in Tijuana when they have outlived their usefulness?

Turns out that the zebras had been there for a long time. Hearst had the most fabulous private zoo in the world. At one time the zebras were accompanied by white fallow deer, antelope, zebras, bactrian and dromedary camels, sambar deer from India, red deer from Europe, axis deer from Asia, llamas, kangaroos, ostriches, emus, Barbary sheep, Alaskan big horned sheep, musk oxen and yaks. Giraffe were kept in an enclosure by the main road. This is in addition to the normal lions, tigers, bears and whatnot that he also kept.

Hearst, believe it or not, was going broke in the late 1930's. Bactrian camels ain't cheap. He disbursed his zoo in 1937. But the hardy zebra had gone wild as well as the elk deer and llamas that still exist and are occasionally sighted on the ranch.

Continued on to Morro Bay for a bite and a pee. Throat hurting, I had been living on soup and was looking for chowder. Found Giovannis on the pier, had great clam chowder and delightful fresh halibut. So good.

Nearby Morro Rock was nicely occluded by fog. It was a perfect lunch. Grabbed my camera for one last shot and never touched it again.

Made it home around midnight last night. Took the 126 through Santa Paula, the 101 still closed in both directions at Reyes Adobe because of the fire. Poor people, my heart goes out to them. Another show starts day after tomorrow. Let me at them.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Me and the Boys

The fun never stops

Last waning hours of the Santa Barbara show. I took a fairly brutal beating. Did not fire. Place can be great or dreadful, was my turn to suck. Four shows, five weeks, getting a bit frayed around the edges.

Trying to sell collector material to a decorative crowd is always tough and I am looking for my mojo at the moment.

Came down with a bad case of bronchitis this week. Doctor prescribed antibiotics but they have not as yet done the trick.

Puked some blood last night. Had to temporarily cease taking heart meds because pharmacist found a potentially fatal interaction with levafloxin. Think I have a broken finger too, not sure how, has a weird new angle and I have lived  with this index finger my whole damned life.

Pals treated me like Typhoid Mary or shall we say at arms length so the human contagion has had lots of time by himself. I could blame the bad show on the smoke and fire but it would be bullshit because others nearby did well. Wrong material is probably more accurate. Stayed pretty positive considering.

Found out in my exhausted state that I have yet another show in Del Mar, setup on Wednesday. Perhaps my fortunes will change, maybe I will sprout wings one day too...

Friday, November 9, 2018

Ian Hunter

Der Trumpf

The national embarrassment that works in the Oval Office managed to disparage three black reporters this week, April Ryan, Abby Phillip and Yamiche Alcindor. Trump called the venerable correspondent Ryan a "loser", Phillip "stupid" and Alcindor a "racist."

This fits into a very familiar pattern for Trump. He always finds a reason to denigrate black people. According to the President, Congresswoman Maxine Waters is an extraordinarily "low i.q." person, Don Lemon is the "dumbest man on television" and has publicly questioned Lebron James intelligence.

Andrew Gillum is a "thief" and Stacey Abrams, a Yale Law School graduate is "unqualified."

He is quoted by employees as stating that laziness is a trait in blacks and according to the Federal Company, his real estate company gave white people preferential treatment in the 1970's, refusing to rent to blacks.

According to Michael Cohen Trump told his one time fixer that blacks were "too stupid" to vote for him and that there was no way he could let an african american contestant win on The Apprentice.

If you read about Trump's father, Fred, you can see that the apple doesn't really fall too far from the tree. Arrested marching with the KKK in 1927, he instituted a racist rental practice at his low income apartment projects.

In fact it was so bad that Woody Guthrie wrote a song about the senior Trump, saying he incited racial hate in the "bloodpot of the human heart."

Kid learned his lessons well. Not sure why he has such an animosity for blacks and women for that matter but he clearly does. He is a disgrace, a disgusting human being, a national tarnish and embarrassment. May his vile stench and toxin be purged from the nation and globe forever.

Calvin and Hobbes

Billy the hillbilly neighbor

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Kill the nonbelievers

So many wackjobs out there it is hard to cover them all. I may have forgotten to write about Washington State Rep. Matt Shea.

Matt wrote a four page biblical manifesto that is pretty frightening. Outlaw gay marriage and abortion, outlaw communism, occultism and the rest of the isms, require adherence to biblical law, and if that doesn't do the trick, kill all the non christian males. Nice.

But don't think that these revelations hurt Matt any. He won handily up in Spokane Tuesday with 58.3% of the vote. This pretty much follows the national numbers. About three in four white evangelicals voted for the Republicans these midterms, even if the candidate was an avowed supremacist like Art Jones or Steve King.

From Pew:
A preliminary analysis of the 2018 midterm elections finds considerable continuity in the voting patterns of several key religious groups. White evangelical or born-again Christians backed Republican candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives at about the same rate they did in 2014. Meanwhile, religiously unaffiliated voters (also known as religious “nones”) and Jewish voters once again backed Democratic candidates by large margins.Three-quarters (75%) of white voters who describe themselves as evangelical or born-again Christians (a group that includes Protestants, Catholics and members of other faiths) voted for Republican House candidates in 2018, according to National Election Pool (NEP) exit poll data reported by NBC News. That is on par with the share who did so in midterm elections in 2014 (78%) and 2010 (77%).
Now I may not agree with the Republicans on many issues but I have never advocated killing all the first born males of my political opponents or anything nearly so draconian. Not interested in getting into a shooting war with my fellow citizens. These people frankly scare the shit out of me. And I am sure that they are much better armed.

On a similar topic, word comes down the pike today that the newly appointed acting attorney general, Matthew Whitaker has called for all judges to be Christian. Whitaker says they need a biblical view of justice. Maybe we can go back to stoning scofflaws in the streets and crucifixion? An old testament wake up call.

Democrats are apparently having a hard time making inroads into the non college educated white demographic. The dumbshit vote.

God, in his or her infinite wisdom, has really been taking it out on country music fans of late. Word is that many of the attendees at the Thousand Oaks shooting were also at the Las Vegas massacre. Very sad. Nine out of ten Americans want stronger back ground checks for gun purchases. But the red Senate refuses to follow the will of the people. I call it the tyranny of the sticks. And everyone will complain and no one will do anything about it once again. Because podunk has control of the steering wheel.

On the topic of religion, had a weird call to look at some paintings last month. Woman thought that I had seen them before. I had, twenty years ago, I had given the woman an appraisal. She had been at least slightly sophisticated, having danced with Balanchine in the New York City ballet. But every other word out of her mouth was don't jew me down, jew this, jew that and I eventually freed myself from having anything to do with her. Vibes were always just terrible.

She died evidently a while back and I recently went through a go round with her daughter that doesn't need public disclosure but was pretty unsatisfactory as well. My friend called the other day and mentioned that besides all the nazi and s.s. material that you would expect to find in such an estate they found a complete KKK hood and robe as well. Beautiful.

Trust your antenna.

Bernie Sanders raised some feathers today when he said that not all white people that failed to vote for black candidates were racists. True and fair enough. And certainly not all christians want to smite the nonbelievers. But how are we supposed to figure out exactly who is who?

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Lately I've Let Things Slide

GOP big tent

Got to love this. 56,000 Illinois voters voted for an avowed nazi and holocaust denier, GOP candidate Art Jones.

In my fiftieth district, voter chose an admitted philanderer, Duncan Hunter, who also happens to be under indictment for campaign fraud over his opponent, after branding said opponent, Ammar Campa Najjar as a sleeper terrorist agent.

Public bought it, apparently.

Ron De Santis will be the new Florida governor. This is the man who obliquely compared his african american opponent as a monkey but he actually had a long history of racial epithets.

Rep. Steve King unfortunately still has a job. The Iowa congressman recently returned from a trip to Auschwitz where he met with a group with nazi ties in order to get the "other side" of the story. King is an outright white supremacist but it doesn't matter a bit to the people who elected him.

Other avowed Republican racists got buried at the polls including Corey Stewart, Russell Walker, John Fitzgerald, Steve West, Paul Nehlen and Patrick Little. Some were returned to office.

The President got in on the fun himself today, making fun of a Japanese reporter's accent among others. If this is making America great again I for one prefer keeping it shitty. I guess I have no sense of humor. He also accused a black reporter of being a racist for asking him about his recent comments on nationalism.

I feel bad for Gillum. And Beto. And Abrams. Good and decent candidates and human beings. Hope that we will see them run for public office again.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018


I wish you many happy returns

It's my birthday. Sixty one if you care. I'm holed up in a hotel in Buellton, pretty sick with a horrible bronchial ick. Drove down Highway 1 today, past Point Lobos, Big Sur and San Simeon. Took pictures of the zebra herds at the latter. Who knew?  Fresh halibut and a great bowl of chowder  at Morro Bay.

First antique show in San Francisco was good. Best in a while, actually. A lot of consignments but every dollar counts and I will take it.

Not going to belabor this, I feel like hell, you get the cliff notes version for now. Had some wonderful food up there which I will recount in all of its glory at the appropriate time.

Election returns are starting to come in. I have been intentionally quiet of late, you know how I feel about Trump but what in the hell does it matter what I think? Think anybody's mind is getting changed? Thought it would be better to sit out the daily outrage than to add to the ever present noise and chatter. Recent AP poll says that 58% of the American public is not happy with the direction that we are headed. I'm blue in the face from trying to explain my exasperation at the GOP. Unfortunately Trump could send stormtroopers out to gun down the little sisters of the poor and my Republican buddies would still point to their fat I.R.A.'s and say it was worth it.

Even if the Dems take the house, what really changes? Impeachment is a longshot, all we will get is a Trump firewall and two yeats of infighting. Truth is that no matter who wins, people on either side are going to remain pissed off and so invested on the edge that they will neglect where we all should be headed, towards the middle.

We are a divided nation, no longer capable of bipartisanship. This started long before Trump, I lay a lot of the blame at McConnell's feet, he set the tone with his Obama freeze out, the Garland machinations and Grassley gets some blame too with the recent blue slip controversy. Ditto Nunes and Gowdy and their blatant partisanship.

After Trump, it will be interesting to see if we can ever restore normal comity and convention. Sort of doubt it, when they had the chance the GOP tried to crush the democrats windpipes. Whoops, I'm getting all heated up and political and it is my birthday. Promised not to do that.


Thursday, November 1, 2018

blodwyn pig


I heard another unfamiliar word on the radio last week, splenetic. Dyspeptic, melancholy, I could be the poster boy.

  1. 1.
    bad-tempered; spiteful.

    "a splenetic outburst"
  2. 2.
    archaic term for splenic.

Monday, October 29, 2018

On Morton's Fork and Avocado Toast

Zeno's Paradox
On the eve of embarking on a major roadie, already exhausted, not to mention tapped, immune system whacked, (I shot some varnish in a non ventilated area the other day and sneezed for two days, feet are leaden, must move forward.)

Hope that the promoters can stretch the shows out a little more next year, five shows in seven weeks is murder, that is if we still have a business. I think the election angst has really killed things of late, for either political side and the stock market drop certainly doesn't help.

I already miss Google plus and it won't even be gone until next August. Haven't found a suitable replacement. Twitter is a blowhard paradise but way too much slagging and woe to he or she who attempts to have a nuanced middle position. Worse than Facebook. Was set upon from the right and the left today because I tried to have a rational talk about the caravan and sovereign borders.

How dare I, cultural appropriation, the land is stolen from the native americans anyway, yada, yada. I will not be long for that world. Member since 2008 but rarely used. And seventy % of the retweeted news is bullshit. Takes a whole lot more time than I have to build a following and I really don't care enough.

There are a lot of writers on Twitter, and reporters, many of whom I respect. And I have noticed something funny, in a Mcluhanesque way, they steal impressive sounding words from each other. Last year it was redound. First caught wind of it with Rachel Maddow repeating it over and over.

Soon everybody was carelessly redounding away, hither and thither. Spread like a virus.

One of the new hip words is anodyne. All the smart talking heads are busy working it into their feeds or conversation. I hear it at least three times a week on MSNBC.

"Listening to the droll Chuck Todd was an anodyne to the typically sharp conversation."

Occam's razor is also getting a lot of play these days.

"Occam's razor (or Ockham's razor) is a principle from philosophy. Suppose there exist two explanations for an occurrence. In this case the one that requires the least speculation is usually better. Another way of saying it is that the more assumptions you have to make, the more unlikely an explanation."

Occam was a 14th century logician and Franciscan friar, better known as William of Ockham, which was somewhere near Surrey. The Razor is also known as the Law of Parsimony.

Which makes me hearken back to some of the ground we have already tilled here, Buridan's Ass and Hobson's choice and the like. From the BHB:
Named for 14th century French philosopher Jean Buridan, Buridan’s Ass is an illustration of a paradox in philosophy in regards to moral determinism and free will. A donkey is placed precisely midway between a stack of hay and a pail of water. The conundrum assumes the ass will always go to whichever is closer, so it will die of both hunger and thirst since it cannot make a rational decision to choose one over the other. Sort of like the zen koan of the strawberry and the tiger. A cousin of Zeno's law - the arrow can never hit the target because it must first travel an infinite number of half steps.
Love to quote myself. Hobson's choice? Again:

A Hobson's choice is really having no choice at all, the choice between picking something and nothing.
The etymology is interesting.  The phrase comes from one Thomas Hobson (1544–1631), a man who owned a livery stable in Cambridge, England. He had a barn full of forty horses yet he offered customers the choice of either taking the horse in the stall nearest the door or taking none at all. There was only one horse in rotation. Hence, Hobson's choice. He was not necessarily being mean or vile, this was a way for him to keep his horses fresh and from being overused.
The Quaker scholar Samuel Fisher referred to the phrase in his religious text, The Rustick's Alarm to the Rabbies, 1660: "If in this Case there be no other (as the Proverb is) then Hobson's choice ... which is, chuse whether you will have this or none."

And Morton's fork?
Under Henry VII John Morton was made archbishop of Canterbury in 1486, then Lord Chancellor in 1487. He raised taxation funds for his king by holding that someone living modestly must be saving money and, therefore, could afford taxes, whereas someone living extravagantly obviously was rich and, therefore, could afford taxes.
As in screwed no matter what you do.

Which leads me to my last little peeve, Avocado Toast. I have noticed it cropping up on local menus, both at Brooktown, Z Cafe and who knows where else? Because it is now the trendy and oh so fashionable dish in big cities all over the world.

This is avocado central. I lived on Fuerte Dr. as a child, on a large avocado ranch. Then to Joris Way in La Mesa, another avocado growing area. This is my thirty ninth year in Fallbrook. The first ten were at a Bacon/Zutano avocado ranch with an occasional Fuerte, Reed, Duke and Topa topa for spice.

My current abode was once a Haas ranch. We kept a few Fuertes for family fruit trees. My point is, that Fallbrook was once proud to be the Avocado capitol of the world. Everybody lives on a grove or a stone's throw from a remnant of one. Every Fallbrookian worth his kosher salt has been putting avocado on toast since christ was a corporal. To see it now become some chic trendy thing revisiting its ancestral home seems plain wrong on some level. Like taking Duke Snider to Live Oak Park and making him play softball with some fat guys from the beer leagues, it makes a mockery of our local ancestral heritage.

We were eating them long before they were hip, sonny.

Bill Withers - Green Grass

Pittsburgh Strong

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Oregon coast

Gimme Shelter


The country and world are at a flashpoint. Racial and political differences have been highlighted and used as kindling in the national and international civil war.

Yesterday another person tried to shoot up a black church here in America, failing to open the door, he instead targeted and killed blacks at a supermarket.

In the wake of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting today, I find it perhaps not so coincidental to see how antisemitism is skyrocketing on social media. I read this article at NBC, Attacks on Jewish people rising on Instagram and Twitter, at about five o'clock this morning, prior to the shooting.

Jonathan Albright - Columbia Univ.
Call me naive for thinking that there is a causal relationship between the actions of corrupt politicians like Steve King and the Bannon sycophants calls for a return to white nationalism and these horrible acts of violence.

The ignorant and hateful people who commit these acts are like manchurian candidates waiting for a reason to explode.

Those that manipulate and spread their message of hate them also share morally responsibility for the outcome.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Young elk cow and redwoods

Roosevelt elk

For Shawn

False Flag Clown Car

Alex Jones had hisself quite a moment yesterday. So did Lou Dobbs. And Geraldo Rivera. Don Jr. Ann Coulter on board? Sure. Michael Savage? Ditto. Limbaugh? Of course

All of these Right Wing wackos jumped out of the GOP clown car yesterday to decry the recent spate of bombings targeting prominent liberals as a nasty "Demon-rat" false flag conspiracy.

The nasty liberals were going to blow themselves up for sympathy.
Now the culprit has been found by law enforcement and guess what, he is just what he sounded like he was, a Pro Trump MAGA man.

Don't hold your breath waiting for an apology from these stooges. They are too busy scrubbing their social media so they won't look quite so stupid for future historians.

Guy Benson at Townhall perfectly sets out the new narrative being peddled by the conservatives, that it is not Trump's fault, simply the actions of one mentally ill individual.

Looks pretty typical to me, in fact more normal than many of the deplorables I run into. Still drinking the bull shit kool-aid.

Empty Pages

San Jac

I saw a few other things worth noting yesterday at San Jacinto. Not necessarily rare but pretty.

Like this egret.

Later we saw the black shouldered kite. This one really needed vr, which I had forgot to engage.

Kites have the most beautiful red eye shadow. Didn't do them justice yesterday.

Sort of a slow day. It is different when you have a friend in tow, harder to find your rhythm. But without eagle eye Bruce I would never have got the hawk and the snake.

Not a lot more. Did shoot my eponymous friend.

And caught a light morph juvenile red tailed high overhead. Pretty.

Always a good day out there.

Prelude and Liebstod from Tristan und Isolde

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Raptor and snake

My buddy Bruce has kicked his cancer. Hallelujah. All clean. I love the guy, was very worried about him.

He took a very rare day off today and accompanied me to the wildlife reserve. Bruce has always had a very sharp eye, he spotted this large red tailed hawk first.

It was sitting on the ground. We didn't know that he had a snake in his clutches. Lucky us.

I shot my 400mm handheld all day. Thing is so heavy it is like carrying an anvil around. And we hiked.

What I didn't know was that the VR was switched off.

Pictures maybe could have been a tad sharper but I am grateful for what I got!

I always feel good when I get raptors carrying snakes. It is so cool.

I had turned the vibration reduction off when I was shooting off the tripod. Forgot to turn it back on.

I am glad that it really isn't all that necessary. Especially when you are shooting wide open at 1/3200th of a second.