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Lady of the lake, version #938

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Where the forest spirits sleep

These are two different versions of a shot that I took at Jemez Falls in New Mexico a year and a half ago.

A woman on Google + asked me today if I had seen the face in the rock before.

I had not but I do now. Looks a bit like Pan.

I had, of course, seen Nineve sleeping in the water in another version.



Flying

Least I'm enjoying the ride.


Well it is time to wrap 2016 up, put another one in the books. It was a great year for me, on many levels. I stayed healthy for the most part, with the exception of one scare, stayed away from doctors almost completely. None of my family members bought their final ticket. Business was very good, got lucky a few times. Visited a town called Everyman in Texas. Ate pigeon in Florence. Took a jeep down the most incredible and steep thirty five mile trail in Canyonlands, Utah. Started the year chasing sandhill cranes at New Mexico's Bosque del Apache in the snow. Had an exceptional trip to the Tetons and Yellowstone. Met some beautiful nuns at the Salt Pueblos. Kept the blog flowing, at a reasonable and doable rate. Got some exceptional pictures. Joshua Tree, Bristlecone Pines, Goblin Valley, Saguaro. Lost my hawk nest, after so many years, miss my babies. Miss my black burmese cat Nigel, lost him too. Visited my brother and his family in Canada. Hit the eastern Sierras and the Salton Sea. Nailed the peregrine falcons at Torrey Pines. Planted lots of succulents and flowers. Changed the carpet in the bathroom. Suffered through an election. Hit an eighth of a ton recently, first time. Chipped a bottom tooth the other day biting my nails. Cultivated and maintained friendships as much as possible for a guy who develops a late life social inversion and goes into hiding. Put over 30,892 camera shots on my hard drive. Read some good books. Didn't play enough guitar. Never cleaned my office. Or my garage. Still need a new mattress and a dishwasher. Planted trees including my most recent dig, a Palo Verde and a weeping Japanese maple, whose name is undetermined but was cheap. Didn't buy any new camera gear but fixed a lens to the tune of five hundred bucks. Binged Better call Saul and now Breaking Bad, which I sort of hate and have to fast forward through on occasion. Have no new enemies that I can think of. Wrote practically no new fiction, one of my few regrets. Started writing a book and never finished it. Never learned Italian. Or actually used my gym membership.


A bird on a wire, in the words of the dearly departed Leonard Cohen, but managed to keep my footing.

It was basically a year when everything went my way. Can't count on that again but it is nice when it happens. A career year for me artistically with the camera, kept learning and refining. Never had to actually open my store for regular hours which was nice. Was allowed to be pretty selfish, still got the bills paid and took umpteen trips. Have to thank my incredible wife most of all for putting up with and loving me and being good natured and flexible and also to you and the rest of my friends for coming along for the ride.

May your most important dreams and wishes come true in the new year. Be yourself, no one else can.

Robert

Friday, December 30, 2016

Cristo Redentor - David Sanborn

Couple nice letters


Good evening Robert !

I sometimes want to comment on things in the blog, but very seldom do.

Thought now might be a good time for a couple of comments while wishing you and Leslie a very Happy New Year.  And a prosperous one.

Your close up photo of the 2 little girls at the beach is my favorite of the year.  It is absolutely wonderful.  You have captured the innocence, peace, and beauty.   What a world we live in!

More recently, I was shocked when I read your neighbor's comment about your "hating Christians".  It would be funny if it weren't so hateful in itself.  Wow.

That's it.  I truly do wish you a great New Year.   
Wanda



Thanks for showing Rick’s art. Always cheers me up and surprises me. 
  I love seeing all the art you show and write about.
Happy New Year 
    Ida  

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robert-HAPPY HOLIDAYS-THANKS FOR SHARING YOUR PHOTOS AND LIFE WITH US-
JUST WANTED TO TELL YOU YOUR REBUTTAL OF J,M’S TRUMP LETTER WAS ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL , LOGICAL,POSITIONS I’VE EVER READ- YOU DO HAVE A GIFT………JONATHAN

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Good morning Rob
Just wanted to wish you and your nearest all the best for the holiday season.
Also wanted to say how much I've enjoyed the blast. I must admit to skimming some of the political stuff but I love the photos and the cartoons and the quotes.
The piece on psychedelics was
particularly amusing. Loved the training wheels and the anarchy bone. It was indeed a bit like sailing away on a pirate ship.
Lovely to see the old cranial drip being put to such an eloquent use.
No fear of Alzheimer's for you
The old admit nothing seems to have gone well out the window and now your admitting all to the whole world.
But it's all good
Rock on
P x

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Writing to sincerely wish you a wonderful, healthy, powerful, warm and Happy
Christmas week and an unforgettably fantastic New Year! Love, always, Abby

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Calvanese sent this.

And Lena sent this:

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Robert
Great reading! your quest for knowledge at 60 is remarkable,....Happy New Year to You and Leslie, it is a pleasure to know you

Michael




Thanks everybody. I don't want to continue to pile on JM. He is an old friend and gave me a sincere apology. The Blast is about a free and open exchange of ideas. Love and Happy New Year to everybody.
Light chalice - Toadstools, Utah

James Cotton - Slow Blues (Angel Of Mercy / Blues in my sleep)



I had lunch with Neil yesterday and he said I needed more blues on the site. Don't have to ask me twice.

Hail Kleisthenes

Kleisthenes
As I had mentioned I have been on an ancient Greek thing lately. I have made my way through the lion's share of Greek tragedies, Euripides through Sophocles, and have greatly increased my knowledge of both the culture and mythology. Herotodus next.

I have just finished reading Richard Billows book Marathon; How One Battle Changed Western Civilization. Marathon was a battle that occurred between the Athenians and the Persians in 490 b.c.e. in which a greatly outnumbered Greek force decimated the Persian invaders. The casualty count at the aftermath was 203 Greeks killed and 6400 Persians.

The battle itself was a strategic wonder. Armies of the time typically formed rectangular blocks of phalanxes and moved against each other en masse.

At Marathon the brilliant Greek General Miltiades devised a plan for lengthening the phalanx and forming two mobile wings, thinning the center position.

They ran towards their Median enemy, also uncustomary, and lessoned their exposure to Persian arrowshot. They managed to flank and encircle their enemy and win the day. Heavily outmanned, they won the battle with innovative strategy and superior weaponry and armor.

Following the battle the Athenian army climbed a steep mountain in full battle gear and ran back eighteen more miles to defend their seaport from a large flotilla of Persian ships, who then also retreated. An amazing story.

But while the book is ostensibly about a battle I also learned how important ancient Athens was to what we now know as modern democratic society.  Early Greece was compartmentalized into separate city states and ruled by kings, oligarchs and tyrants (tyrannos), hereditary aristocracies known as Eupatridai. The word tyrant is not what we hold it to be today, some of these autocratic rulers were kind and just.

In any case, an aristocrat named Kylon attempted to install himself as tyrant of Athens some time around 632 b.c.e. and was thwarted by a family called the Alkmaionidai. Kylon's family subsequently bribed the Oracle at Delphi, causing a curse to be put on the Alkmaionidai family.

The continuing disputes soured the Athenians' views of rulers and tyrants. They insisted that the Eupatridai codify and write down laws and instill them in a public place where ordinary citizens could read them.  In 621 an aristocrat named Drakon did just so but his laws were overly harsh, hence the modern term draconian.

Soon a new magistrate was appointed, named Solon, and he is one of the most important and visionary figures in developing democratic law the world has ever seen.

Solon was also a poet and wrote of the excessive greed of the wealthy. He seized the land of the aristocracy and divvied it up amongst the people who actually worked the land, a reform program known as seisachtheia or "throwing off a burden."

He created four separate property classes, the upper two were eligible to be magistrates and to sit on the Areopagos Council. While this seems slightly barbaric by todays standards prior to that land was only passed through descent.

Solon repealed Drakon's death sentence for trivial crimes, cancelled debts and mortgages and allowed families sold into slavery to pay off their debts and redeem themselves.

He obligated children to take care of their aging parents and instituted a system of weights and measures. Solon encouraged immigration and practiced amnesty.

Other innovators followed Solon, including Pesistratos, who created the Pananthenaia festival every four years, the basis for the modern Olympics. But the most important of all was a man named Kleisthenes, who might be the father of democracy as we know it today.

Kleisthenes reformed the Athenian system around 508. The people became the foundation for the government, citizens all had equal rights and they met in assemblies to decide and debate policy. The new system was called demokrateia or rule by the people.

The book delves into these reforms at length, read it if it sounds interesting and if nothing else you will get a better understanding of hoplite warfare. I found one portion quite interesting.

Every year at an assembly of 6000 citizens, the Athenian people would be queried if, in their opinion, there was a leader whose power was too great and a threat to democracy.

If the vote was affirmative that person would be exiled from Athens for a ten year period, without loss of property or civil rights, nor with any dishonor to his family. This power was called ostrakismos, which we now know as ostracism.

Maybe not such a bad idea for today's rulers. But we will have to do it by popular vote. It's much more demokratic.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Golden Gate Quartet - God's gonna cut 'em down

A pox on all of their houses

"The prime minister is being dragged after the messianic stream, standing in front of an abyss and insisting on walking forward." Ehud Barak



A friend asked me to sound off on the Kerry speech and recent U.N. resolution. I wish I had time to write more extensively on the matter but I don't. I hope that it will suffice to say that there are no shortage of devils in this opera, plenty of blame to go around. I fail to see any white hats, any good guys.

Where do I start? Netanyahu, who has played a dishonest double game since he was elected. No settlements suddenly became naturally evolving settlements, etc. He is a duplicitous bastard who simply can't be trusted and is always pushing the credibility envelope. Beholden to right wing zealots wishing to re-establish biblical Israel, he has paid lip service to the prospect of a lasting peace. Knows that he can count on Palestinian intransigence to deepsix any agreement so his calculus is a long war win of slow attrition.

When ex PM and defense minister Ehud Barak says that he has no problem with Kerry's statement and the resolution it is hard for me to. Bibi is busy chopping the possibility of a contiguous Palestinian state into little pieces.

Barack Obama, who has been hostile to Israel since the start of his tenure. I have chronicled this on a monthly basis for the last eight years. His daylight with Israel turned into a massive chasm and gulf. A man who cut a secret deal with an enemy of Israel that ultimately provided billions of dollars to its proxies in Hezbollah and Hamas, both sworn to Israel's destruction. Whose Press Secretary referred to molotov throwing Palestinian killers as freedom fighters. Who leaked and scuttled an Israeli Saudi airspace pact and whose state department once proclaimed that Jerusalem was not a part of Israel.

He gave them a massive aid package, conditionally, but in no way ever treated them as you would a friend or ally, or at least with the same attitude that he embraced his friends in Iran or Cuba.

Never missed an opportunity to joust with his hated enemy Netanyahu, slow walked agreed upon arms to Israel, glossed over Palestinian terror attacks, blocked Hellfire missile shipments, shared private Israeli military information with its enemies and always went out of his way to punish the only democracy in the region, a democracy mind you, where arab citizens vote and are elected. There was no reason to stick his finger in Israel's eye at the last minute when he was out of political capital but he did it anyway, out of sheer spite, to get one last lick in.

The Palestinians. How many times did they reject a two state solution? 1937, 1947, 1967, 2000, 2005, 2008. They refuse to accept Israel's right to exist and have never forsaken violent resistance. This is tough for liberal minds to accept so the John Kerry's of this world keep pushing a two state idea with this blind hope of Palestinian acceptance that never materializes. How long is Israel supposed to try to kick this illusory football? How do you strike a deal with a people who wean themselves on a dream of martyrdom and violent victory over the occupiers seemingly from the cradle. A Palestinian authority that pays 75 million dollars a year to families of terrorists and names streets after them. Money that they receive from this administration. Perhaps Palestinians would fare better in a single state of Israel? How do you fashion a two state deal when only one partner agrees to come to the table and negotiate?

The Israelis: Inured over time to the plight of the occupied and to their de facto role as jailer, they find it easier at this point to live with and tolerate the status quo.

The U.N.. The United Nations reprimands Israel at every turn, for the pettiest reasons and affronts. Twenty in the last year, women's rights violations, for every real and imagined sin you could conger while ignoring neighboring countries whose conduct is clearly barbaric. UNESCO conveniently omits any information to jewish history in the area in regard to cultural heritage. WHO singles out Israel as the only alleged violator of “mental, physical and environmental health” in the world earlier this year. Fighters in Gaza attack and shoot rockets at Israel from U.N. enclaves. The United Nations has zero credibility.

By the way, the current resolution would not allow Jewish access to the Wailing Wall, the holiest spot in jewry, remnant of the Second Temple, or access to Hadassah Hospital on Mt. Scopus, even to the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem. Definitely a non starter but quite indicative of the mindset of the international body.

There are even more villains in this passion play, witting and unwitting. J Street, the conservative and evangelical right, Europe, the arab street, all being artfully used by the players in this horrid game of chess. Israel and the Palestinians are caught in what marriage counselors call the "dark dance" and the whole world is swept away in the vortex.

Israel was never a convenient nation. Born out of the gas chambers, the diaspora and the inquisition, to many people who had no place to turn but their ancient homeland, the original mandate created a land for them that encompassed both modern Israel and Judea and Samaria. Transjordan was created as the original Palestinian state on a world map where practically all the neighboring countries were less than thirty years old. Blood was spilled in the original war for independence and survival and the existing inhabitants feelings were and continue to be raw.

I don't have any answers. My father was born in Tel Aviv, the memory of the Hebron riots a vivid part of his childhood. The animosity between peoples reaches back to Herzl and before in the late 19th century, exacerbated by the arab denial of the Jewish link to Israel. I do know that the conceptual fantasy of well meaning western liberals will be trumped by the real security considerations of the people who actually live there, no matter how gloriously they are framed. See no reason to flog  a dead horse.

There is a reason that settlers are moving to the West Bank. Israel is a small country, there is not a lot of land available. Faced with an intransigent foe that wishes their bloodshed, their choice is more understandable. People's hearts are being hardened, on both sides. Both sides waiting to execute a perfect endgame, the plight of the occupied is grim and tragic, the objectification and demonization of the other side makes both sides equally guilty. They almost deserve each other.

Benjamin Netanyahu may think that he has caught lightning in a bottle and that his new pal Trump will reshuffle the deck in a favorable way. He might in the near term. But decks shuffle and reshuffle and times change. He may be hitching his horse to an unstable wagon and end up repelling much of the world.

Hard to be hopeful at this point.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Funny How Time Slips Away

Otis Heald

Got word today that Otis Heald died Christmas day.

This is a picture I took a few years ago of Otis. I knew him for near 35 years. Not a close friend but a man whose company I always enjoyed.

Otis was a fixture, a pillar of the Fallbrook community. We met at lunch three or four days ago and talked for at least a half hour. At the Greek's.

The same place I was at when Renée called me with the sad news this afternoon. Not sure of the hows and whys.

We could talk about anything, he was a robust man who had a keen mind and an easy, laid back manner. Big, honest laugh and a powerful handshake. The other day we talked about his wife Linda and his sister, a minister, amongst other things.

Poof, he's gone.

Otis was a man of means but he never put on airs. No pretense to the man whatsoever. He loved latin american art, traveling to exotic locales, bird hunting, poker, mostly he loved and took great pride in his family.

He always seemed to have a good bullshit detector. We were on the opposite side of the fence politically but always respected each other and got along great. He was highly intelligent and will be missed by a lot of people around these parts, including me.

Goodbye Otie. Life is short.

Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys

Highlining


Shawn sent me this crazy video. Pretty incredible, not for my acrophobic self but w0w!

I had a pretty good christmas/solstice/chanukah/kwanzaa holiday, hope that you did too. I am still sick with the respiratory thing but hopefully past the point of contagion.



I actually got out of my shell and visited some folks, Christmas Eve with Bill and Jean and family, dim sum with Jerry, Michelle, Leslie, Max and Corrie at Jasmine on Christmas day. Our favorite duck rolls were hot, food was excellent.

Later that day we had latkes replete with sour cream and applesauce with the Evans.

I bought five hundred gladiolus from an excellent wholesale place in Michigan, Fred Nagle, and have planted about 400 so far. A couple hundred yesterday morning. This is going to be an epic spring and summer. I haven't done the massive glad thing for a few decades, my ranch is going to rock with color!

The perennial/palm/succulent/cycad/cactus garden is really growing up beautifully too. Just adding the finishing touches and will take pictures in the spring when it is in bloom. Need a Palo Verde tree and a few more  agave specimens. The reluctant bismarckia palm is finally opening up its spikes.


I am about to add a Japanese maple from this Temecula company, I am thinking Tamukeyama. I have the perfect spot. It was first cultivated in Japan in 1710 so I think will stand the test of time. They don't mind the heat but they don't like our area's hard water.

We planted a Chinese fringe tree this week that we got from Ganter Nursery recently. Have you ever seen one? Extraordinary beauty and fragrance.

We bought the last one they had for the season, they will get some more bare root soon.

Jubea chilensis - Mission Bay
Saw Renée's garden yesterday which is looking pretty amazing. Roger Boeddart has added some great tipi structures.

Her jubea palm is so much farther along then mine but I get a chance to see what mine will become some day. Hope I live long enough to see some trunk on the thing.

Hopi Woman - Edward Curtis
Bye bye Carrie Fisher. Caught Rogue One last night and she had a computer graphic part laid in from her youth. Wasn't terribly impressed with the movie, basically plotless and a lot of people shooting each other. Ho hum.

Carrie went through a lot of crap, suffered her illnesses publicly, think she made a mark and contribution to this spinning globe, adios muchacha.

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A stoner friend showed me the latest in bong breakfast technology, the wake and bake coffee mug. Ingenious!

Honestly not my thing but there was a time I would have been right on it. First cup or first puff?

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I have decided that I need a retirement plan beyond drop dead.

Have a few goals for the next year, back away from the keyboard and the dining room table. Back to the gym, make a whole bunch of money if possible. Hawaii, hopefully Chile and Portugal one day.

I feel like a sailor on dry land right now. I was so spoiled by travel last year and epic photography opportunities but this year I need to think business and priorities.

My very expensive and most important nikkor 24 -70mm 2.8 lens is in the shop. Will cost over five hundred smackers to fix what felt like a minor manual focus hiccough. Have to do it but it hurts.

So don't be surprised if I go dark if not darker with the blast. This blow by blow of my life is about to amscray.

Unless of course I can catch lightning in a bottle and do everything I want to do as usual, which would make for more fun and happiness but cannot be practically expected. I better get my ass to work or you'll see me on the bread line.


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Dare ya!

I found this one circulating on Google +

Friday, December 23, 2016

Cold Jordan

Ain't no time to hate

Hosanna - Rick Griffin
I got an interesting, thought provoking and rather challenging email this morning from a long time neighbor who I like and respect. Remember that I recently asked people to share the reasons they voted for Trump. I think that this person's identity shall remain anonymous even though he signed his letter.

Hello Robert,

You are the second person to ask why anyone would vote for Trump. The first time was on Facebook and I submitted what is in the brief doc below. What I learned from that was what good debaters already know: debate one tiny specific topic at a time. My answer created a firestorm…you are against abortion therefore (then they completely change the topic) you hate women. Trump said those awful things in private on that bus and I replied, “Yes that was disgusting. It makes him 40% as bad as Bill Clinton.” I actually tried to phrase my answers so liberals and conservatives might unite but all that did was alienate me from both sides.

I claim you have something in common with DJT: You both say what you feel to be true and forget PC. Which I find refreshing. In your case the fact that you do not hide your hatred of Christians. [ed. emphasis added]

The file below has too many topics to debate but you asked for it.

I would like a president who: Is a lady/gentleman in public AND in private. Believes the constitution is a great document and has and will obey it. (As our founding fathers knew big government is anathema to our continued freedom.) Is a strong negotiator and will dismantle the horrid Iran Nuclear deal, NAFTA and the sadly one-sided China trade agreement. Understands that higher taxes devastatingly drives businesses out. Realizes there is a huge difference between legal and illegal immigration. Remembers that the disastrous Obama Care Bill was doomed until the politicians exempted themselves from it. Has a thorough working knowledge of how our economy functions. Wishes to grow the middle class not by crippling the employers and taking them down a notch but by bringing back jobs for the poor lifting them up. Is horrified by the thought that it is legal for a doctor to insert a sheathed scalpel into the womb and slice a fully 100% developed baby into pieces as it frantically tries to avoid the pain. The person I’m voting for gets an “A” on all but one of these.

JM

First of all I would like to thank my friend for being forthright. I am not going to debate Trump with him, I think I have said all I need to say on the subject, don't want to either repeat myself or run the subject into the dirt. Like he found out on Facebook, there is little middle ground to be found on the subject, zero chance of winning hearts and minds at this point.

I do admit to some pain and consternation at his statement that I hate christians. At the risk of embarking on a rebuttal on the eve of what is a sacred holiday for most Americans I will tell you that he is wrong. I do not. Critical? Yes, on occasion. Hostile? Once in a while. Hateful? I don't think so.

It sounds like a cliche but some of my best friends and the people I love the most are christians. Jeff and Gena, Steve and Sue, Gary, Kerry, the list is actually very long. We agree to disagree on certain matters of faith and politics but hate never enters the picture. Even pray with them on occasion.

I was raised for the greater part of my childhood in one christian church or another, baptized Methodist, with stints in the Presbyterian, Unitarian and Catholic churches as well. I went through confirmation classes. I read the bible cover to cover at least three times, know the book inside and out, maybe even better than some of the experts out there. It just felt like a big concocted fantasy at some point, no longer worked for me.

I do not happen to accept the christian doctrine but I don't hate the adherents, well any more than I hate any other particular ideology anyway. My misanthropy is much broader by nature.

There is not a religion in this world with clean hands. Look at what the Buddhists are doing to the Muslim Rohingya in Burma, the predations of the ultranationalist Hindi and Tamil, the Christian Eric Rudolph and the killers of abortion doctor George Tiller in America, the depraved followers of ISIS in the Moslem world. The Jews have their Deir Yassin, the Catholics had their inquisition. Good christians perpetrated massive extermination campaigns on native americans in this country,

Humans are a nasty lot and religion has provided cover for some of their greatest acts of terror, usually involving ways to pick up new real estate.

I had an Israeli father but no jewish identity until I was surrounded by two hundred or so fellow campers in the hills of New Mexico as a nine year old and accused of killing Jesus. It helped plant the seeds of feelings of not really belonging to the mainstream, like a scene from Kafka or Lord of the Flies. I am  now quite comfortable on the outside.

I have a tribal identity but really don't follow any belief system besides a basic interest in psychology and science with maybe a little golden rule thrown in. When I see people adopting positions that are anti science, like pointing to climate change as evidence of God's will, I get a little queasy.

Politically I do have differences with Christians as they do with me. When a Marco Rubio says that a Zika infected mother must carry a microcephalic baby to term, I take umbrage. I don't find it godly, I find it self righteous and barbaric. Same with the denial of rape and incest exceptions. When the poor are cut off from medical services because of a battle over reproductive rights, like in Texas, I get angry. When gay spouses are denied survivorship benefits or LGBT people are denied services, lodging or employment on the basis of sexual orientation I get enraged.

It is the moral authority of those that profess themselves to be "saved" wish to inflict on the rest of us heathens that makes me squirm and see red. The propensity and need to make moral choices for others. Christians like to say that this is a "Christian Nation" although the fathers took pains to declare that not so. Yes they are a plurality and majority but we have no national religion, at least not yet.

Why do the adherents make such efforts to get us nonbelievers to toe their religious party line? Why the push for creationism and intelligent design in the schools, not to mention prayer? That quest to have everybody else adopt their belief system and moral code is part of what drives us nonbelievers so crazy. Think what you want but please try to leave the rest of us alone if at all possible. Respect our space and we will be more respectful of yours. Try to be more like christ, feed the poor, wash feet, the great stuff. And have a Merry Christmas.


Thursday, December 22, 2016

Ferruginous Hawk

Thanks to sharp eyed reader and birder Beth for correctly identifying this beautiful raptor I shot at SJWA the other day.

Tis the season

Rick Griffin - Uncle Jam

Sick but I got out of bed to pay a bill. Why can't all the bills come at the end of the month? These days it seems like a daily money shed...

Guess I should go through the mail bag.

Ralph finally sent his photo of the year. He was on safari in South Africa at Kruger when he encountered this leopard with a porcupine quill projecting from its head. Ouch. Amazing really. The girth of the projectile is gigantic. Don't think you mess with one twice.


Shawn sends some resource material over from Dan Ariely's Center for Advanced Hindsight.

My neighbor Jerry created a cool little movie, Mask.

Ever wonder if birds have to scratch? I can equivocally say that they do. A harrier from the other day...



And another carrying a strange half birdie payload.


Jeff Barney up in Alaska sent me this comment regarding my story recounting meeting the energy ball.

Funny u would comment on the light balls. Wanted to comment but no place too. You would love to talk to my neighbor who and their family have seen them numerous times at their cabin in the tallketnea mountains south of us 150 miles. He's not crazy either is his wife. In fact he was head of Republican Party of Alaska and was one of nations largest ford dealers. So all that being said I have heard about this for years. May be fun to compare notes when u "visit ". Love the Carlos books. Brings back early pacific vibrations days in Laguna. Take care buddy

Hudgins sends along a sad farewell to the America we once knew from Bill Moyers.

Received a nice holiday card from Glenn Bray and Lena Zwalve


Jonathan Hill shares an interesting article on Jasper James and his poignant double exposures.

Thai drag queens from Shelley Poplak.

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I am not going to break my streak and get too political. But I find it sad that Texas can defund Planned Parenthood from Medicaid. Planned Parenthood is unfortunately the only comprehensive health provider many poor women see. Ninety percent of Planned Parenthood's services are not abortion related. Researchers say nearly 200,000 Texas women have lost or could lose access to contraception, cancer screenings, and basic preventive care, especially in low-income, rural parts of the state. Texas has the worst maternity survival rate in the country and ranks right up there with the third world.

It would be nice to dig further into why the death rate for mothers in Texas has doubled but they won't release the data. Way to go Texas. Bringing stupidity to a new high. Watch out Mississippi, thar's a new sheriff in town.

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For years there have been stories of Neo Nazis keeping lists of the jews that live in the Northwest. Guess it is true. Sad story in Whitefish, Montana where nazis are now publicly outing jews and subjecting them to harassment. But it is also a little funny that they would live in Whitefish. What, is the weather better there than in the neighboring town of Lox?

And since we are on the jew thing, did you read the story of the family that has to flee their town in Lancaster County Pennsylvania because they were accused by Fox of killing christmas?  Thanks Fox and Breitbart.

Bring on the hate.

I don't blame Trump and I don't blame Bannon, the whole family of deplorables is helping set the new tone, from Charlotte to Whitefish.  National Security Advisor Michael Flynn meets the head of the Austrian Nazi like Freedom Party, it is amazing just how fast we can slide into the new dark paradigm. Happens so quick. The office of the President is now a reality TV spinoff, they are draining the swamp of alligators and instead the cabinet will be manned by Exxon, Goldman and Dow Chemical. And of course our new pals in Moscow. Billionaires can run the show because obviously they are now beyond enriching themselves. But funny how many of them are Ayn Rand devotees. The woman who turned selfishness into a religion. Fasten your seat belt America. You got it coming.


America, be the worst that you can be.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Merry F'n Christmas

Feathered frolic


It has been a tough week. I have been sick, felt it coming on the plane back from Canada, family member really sick, hard to focus on much, tough to be around people.

So I scrammed up to the wildlife area yesterday. I am happiest when I am alone with the birds. In crisis the blue heron seeks the solace of the marsh.


It wasn't necessarily a stellar day photographically but it was what I needed from a mental health standpoint. I swear if I lived closer and could afford it I would be out there every day. A bad day hiking and shooting pictures of my avian friends beats the best day working or fishing.

I saw a couple people hiking behind me at one point and hid. Had no desire to engage, even with happy birders, usually the nicest people you would ever want to meet.

Any day I see a vermillion flycatcher is a good day!

Larry Moskovitz told me that he saw a mature bald eagle out at SJWA recently. I looked for it past the Walker Ponds but couldn't find it.

I did see a Golden Eagle but couldn't get close enough to shoot anything decent.


But got my fill of Red tailed, Red shouldered and Harriers. My raptor friends, they never let me down.



Saw a loggerhead shrike, or butcher bird. This one was not banded like the last one I was able to shoot.


This barbaric little bird likes to impale its live prey on a thorn or barbed wire.

Didn't see that many shorebirds, a couple egrets and an ibis, one heron, lots of ducks and coots.



I was out here with some photog pals a few weeks ago and was shred by mosquitos. Thankfully the cold has done its work. Felt just one little bugger all day.


I just love it out there. Snow capped San Gorgonio gleamed in the distance. Never tire of the beauty of sycamore and native brush. Always feel spiritually replenished. Might be the place to finally rest my bones. Hopefully not anytime soon.