blue heron © robert sommers 2015

Friday, May 29, 2015

Dan and Jorma

Save the Nepenthes

Nepenthes Surantensis

My friend Shawn has spent many years trying to save an endangered plant in southeast asia, Thailand's nepenthes plant. He has been working with the highest echelons of science and government and has done much to help this beautiful plant survive. With single minded focus he has worked to save this entire carnivorous plant genus from extinction.

A few weeks ago, after a series of very positive meetings at Prince of Songkhla University Shawn sent out a press release celebrating some very hard fought victories.
"PSU Trang has set aside 5 rai of the​ last known genetically pure and extremely endangered​ N. mirabilis var globosa colony as a 'total ​ex​clusion zone' for Nep​enthes​ conservation​!​
​PSU Trang has set aside ​a further ​6 rai of the N. mirabilis var globosa colony as an educational​ ​conservation garden​!​
PSU Surat has offered ​use of ​2,700 rai of land ​in Chai Ya ​for Endangered Nepenthes ​species ​​gene banking!
The Department of Corrections has set aside 50 rai of their Kanchanadit prison land as a conservation area​ for the World's very last remaining colony of the critically endangered N. suratensis​!
SEANSRF has PSU's full support of​ all​ Nep​enthes​ research and conservation programs​ in Thailand​ including hosting our first primary school teacher training Science Camp on June 2, 3 &
The Walailak U. study, 'A new classification of Thailand’s Nepenthes species by genetic analysis of AFLP markers' has now been repeated​ (4 times!)​ with 12 Thai species + 1 variety and numerous​ surrounding countries'​ IC ​species, each time confirming the initial results!The PSU preliminary experimental results of the 'Flow Cytometry Identification of Sex of Individual Nepenthes ​​species'​​ ​(N. suratensis) has been a success!​ (Hint; lower pitcher tissues provide the best results!)​
The PSU preliminary experiments on 'Nepenthes Pollen ​storage for ​l​engthened ​​viability' has been a success!​ (we are up to 42 days at 4 degrees Celsius)​
The PSU experiments on 'Creation of Artificial Seeds​​ ​('Synseeds') based on Somatic Embryos with Artificial Endosperm' has been a success!"
I don't know how much you know about botany but in plant speak this guy is really kvelling! Shawn runs a botanical nonprofit called SEANSRF, the Southeast Asian Study and Research Foundation.

Then life decides to give him a fudgie. I get this letter the next day. Talk agony and the ecstasy...

Dear friends,
As much as yesterday's Nepenthes workshop and discussions at Prince of Songkhla University were filled with good news (See below), today's session brought us back down to Earth!

The participating official from Thailand's Department of Corrections informed us that the 'far-off' construction of the new prison complex on the site of the World's last remaining N. suratensis colony will actually begin in about 2 weeks with clearing of the site by bulldozers! Without immediate action, this almost assures the extinction of Thailand's N. suratensisspecies.
I have posted an appeal for assistance on a few of the Nepenthes forums on the internet and rather than repeat it all here I will just pass you the link in hopes you will take a few minutes to read through it.

Anything you can do to assist us in this matter will be greatly appreciated!
Thank you for your time!
Shawn Mayes
Secretariat - SEANSRF

Wow, talk about a left hook. If you prefer to read something about it in thai, click here.

This no joke. Shawn needs our help. He needs signatures. Let's figure out a way to help him achieve his life's work, not have the remaining plants and habitat lost to a prison. Forward this information to anyone you know that is interested in saving rare species, ecology and even Thailand. 

I asked Shawn if I could help.

SURE! request people not get negative with comments on government or prison... Need to keep the cooperation I'm now getting going!  Thanks!  Shawn

Shawn, where is the link to the Change.Org petition?


"...trying to save an entire endangered plant Genus...Shawn

R. Crumb's Sweet Shellac - Early French Jazz Before Django

Golden feathers

Man with golden feather, Balboa Park
Ken suggested that I concentrate on single themes and not jump around so much in my posts.

I wish I could summon the requisite concentration to crystallize but I fear that you are going get dished a bit more of the stream of consciousness angle for a while longer. Late onset A.D.D. no doubt.

It might help to visualize the blog as an ugly abstract post modern painting given to you by your crazy aunt, the one that you always hated until you found out it was worth real money. Things grow on you somehow.

I had this thought. Boy, I bet some of them are sick of birds. Man, I have posted a lot of bird shots this year. One or two months more walking, fledging, flying and we will be done for the year. Promise. Soon as these kids grow up. No mas.

I approached the nest yesterday afternoon and mother was about 16 feet away, sort of hiding in the side branches.

These kids are getting big and very active, lots of mantling and posing, full wing extensions. No wonder she wants to stay clear, these kids could destroy some furniture.

A blur at times.

Every day the juvenile red tailed hawks are getting more mature. Will be any day before they arise into the blue yonder. Hope that I am around.

Pretty side view, sort of a Fabian, Frankie Avalon coiffure, comb forward but it works somehow on these birds. At least they are out of that dreadful mullet stage.

Mama dropped a squirrel or rabbit in. I approached the nest and the forward guy was positively dovening, bouncing up and down on his prey like a hasid at the Wailing Wall.

Ripped it apart like a cheap steak at a Shriner's Convention.

Saw a Cooper's hawk a little further down the trail.

Setting sun, late afternoon, very dark.

See ya.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Bird brains

Yearling black night crowned heron
Ken, Doug and I loaded up our nikon cameras and our longest lenses and had a photographic outing today. Not like we wouldn't shoot with a Canon photographer, its just that we would have to see his or her work first.

Black night crowned heron adult male?
First today, a trip to an alternate local hawk nest to see three young dark morph red tailed hawklets.

Afterwards we headed down to Lakeside to Lindo Lake to go birdwatching and shoot some photos. New place for us, lots of avian swag there.

Blue herons, white herons (the greater egret ardea alba), black night crowned herons, egrets, cranes, geese, ducks, grackles, blackbirds and all sorts of other cool stuff. The neatest was the tall tree where a trio of white heron fledges played far overhead. Spectacular.

Took a ton of pictures, this was pretty extraordinary to watch. People that like to observe birds aren't just there for a static image or moment, animal behavior is interesting and important to us, not to mention often beautiful.

Got a few blue heron pics too.

Saw some neat folks down there like this Filipino woman.

There was a skateboard park nearby and I took some shots of some really good skaters. More flying objects.

After a while, we headed back to Santee Lakes and grabbed some shots there. No ospreys again but some familiar bird faces.

Juvenile black night crowned heron

Fallen memories

It was a nice weekend. Friday we were supposed to meet a couple pals at the brewery for a pop after work. One person showed up, the other thought I was evidently supposed to call first and we got our signals crossed.

I got to hear something precious for the first time, you are great on the internet, but you suck at real life or something like that. I think it was a legitimate screw up but am always willing to fall on my sword for a friend. Whatever.

A typical Saturday at work. Sunday I got up early to judge the Fallbrook Vintage Car Show at Pala Mesa.

Not sure how many years I have been doing it, but it has to be close to 10, this is the fiftieth year and we had over 400 cars.

I had a third of the pre '40 modified and had a great car or two in my class. Not sure who got what, I was whupped and left after I finished my class.

Drove over to Rosas for a menudo breakfast and then went to Major Market to buy some barbecue from a touring grilling god from Mississippi named Jones, I think. Looked like a Nascar star in the ads, great guy, we talked about his rub, brisket was going to take another hour, I opted for his chicken and ribs, which were quite delicious.

Went home and slept the afternoon away.

Yesterday was memorial day and I thought I should spend it the old fashioned way, while remembering the souls and spirits of the departed.

I drove over to the masonic cemetery and visited the grave of my old friend Liz Duchi. God, has it really been eleven years? I loved Liz and her late husband Tony like family and they loved me, in fact Tony often called me his third son and meant it. But the kids wouldn't even let me go on the memorial boat ride, they were either jealous or they didn't get it and I will never forget it.

Leslie met me at the top of the hill and we drove down to San Diego, stopping at Jasmine for an excellent repast of early afternoon dim sum. Place was packed but the food was special and outrageous and they custom made duck rolls for us.

After lunch we headed down to Imperial Avenue and the family cemetery, not in a great part of town but in an interesting part of town.

My sister and my grandmother are both buried at Home of Peace. They may plant me there one day too and it will be fine with me.

I am much more conscious of my own mortality since losing my father and with my mother's extended illness. The world misses you for a second but nothing really ever misses a beat, things move along.

Amie was born ten years and one day after I was. She never let me forget it. Full of piss and vinegar, talented and full of life, she died at a tender age in a car accident. The worst pain I have ever felt.

I was in the second grade when grandma died. The gravestone says Pola but we had always known her as Pessa.

It was possible that both she and my grandfather used deceased relatives papers to leave Poland, while they still could and that their names were not really their names.

I don't know that much about her except that she loved me, always gave me silver dollars, served seven layer rum cake and sweet Russian tea, while grandpa sat in his wifebeater t -shirt and pared green gage plums with his knife.

It is said that she killed herself, with pills, after some infidelity of my grandfather's. I don't know and with all the players now gone, will probably never know.

I was in the second grade when she died, in godforsaken Lancaster. My mom and her husband left me by myself at home for three days while they went to the funeral and I got sick with the mumps and whooping couch while they were gone. Lancaster, many of my classmates wore hosiery caps, with a major outbreak of head lice going around.

The school wasn't real happy with my being home alone. Will thoughtfully spare you some gory details of my illness.

My grandmother's grave is in sad, forlorn shape now. Covered with alkaline salts and pretty much forgotten, I must find something to spruce it up.

I had the realization that I might be the last one of the family with the geographic ability to visit these graves, or maybe one of the few who still cared about such things. Some people don't do death well. A lovely dandelion grew perfectly in front, the weed adding  a measure of grace to the picture. We left a rock and a rose on each grave.

Life is so short and death is such a long time.

Les wanted to go to Balboa Park and we walked around the garden so I could take pictures of the giant bismarckia and we did.

Afterwards we decided to spend the last hour and a half at the zoo while it was still open.

We did the skytram ride and both the feel of the cool air and the glorious view of Balboa Park and the ocean were wonderful.

I am proud to be a native San Diegan, I love the city and the city it once was. Outside of Sevilla, maybe the most beautiful park I have ever been to. I just saw that the man who delivered me and my brother, Dr. Phil Rand, just died at the age of 94. Delivered Buzz's kids too. They said Phil Rand delivered more kids than any other man anywhere, over 40 thousand I hear. Thanks Phil, never got to tell you.

My dad and the man who brought me into this world, both now gone, months apart.

The zoo and the park are so beautiful.

Oh yeah and there were animals too, lots of animals.

Spent a lot of quality time with the Malaysian tiger, who was huge and as cute as they come.

I have lots more pics but don't want to bore you and will stop right here. Because there are birds too. Thanks for sharing my memorial day with me. Hope that I wasn't too maudlin.