Lion and sparrow

Saturday, May 27, 2017

russians are coming

"This is off the map. I know of no other experience like this in our history, and certainly not within my life experience."Michael Hayden, former director of the NSA and the CIA

with the knowledge that the president could do anything imaginable and 38% of the population would not care in the slightest, no matter what - this Kushner secret backchannel story with the russkis may be the greatest malfeasance uncovered yet. old hands in the intelligence service are reportedly aghast, no matter what McMasters says about the practice. Mind you, this occurred before Trump was crowned king. Presidents can back channel, President - elects can not.

the question at breakfast was - in the event that the fiasco gets opened up, does Trump throw his own son in law to the wolves? the general consensus was - yes, he would. and I have no knowledge either way but if I was a betting man, I would say that it was all the donald's idea. somewhere in the old soviet union is a bagman who was willing to finance trumpco when times were tough, he sent the kid over to fix things, who knew that the feds make it a standard practice to tape these people? kid will fry, donald will skate, his type never gets dirty and never takes the fall.

next - Team Trump goes to the mattresses.

stay tuned...

Greg Allman - Midnight Rider (Live At Farm Aid With Willie Nelson)

Crowded House


So who's left, Jaimoe? I first saw the Allman Brothers back in a time when practically no one had heard of them, they were a backup band for I want to say Steppenwolf at the first show of theirs I attended but went through the mental archives and can't put my finger on it. Maybe 1971. Post Hourglass but not a household name yet.

I remember being astounded at how tight they were, maybe the tightest syncopated groove of anybody this side of James Brown. And the idea of two drummers was new to me at the time, haven't seen the Grateful Dead yet. They were wonderful. Got to see Duane. Berry. Awesome.

I had my coming of age during a time that I call the blue jean bands - Dead, Allmans and The Band. Straight ahead American roots music. My pals and I would argue about their relative merit but we loved them all. The Watkins Glen lineup. A well crafted sound that held up for decades and through numerous painful losses, for all three bands.

The Allman Brothers were a southern psychedelic band, the first.

There was a good reason they were associated with the psilocybin mushroom, they grew wild under the patties in the swamps near Gainesville and Micinopi.

And as much as the recently departed Gregg Allman tried to disassociate from that aspect and say it was overblown in his book, I remember the time and they were very psychedelic. The Macon sound.

You put on Mountain Jam or Le Brers and you knew that it wasn't about show with these guys. They could play with craft, timing and artistry like no one else of their day.

Their rhythm section was superb. Duane's chops were legendary, Clapton himself was supposed to have had a religious epiphany when he first heard Duane's session work on Hey Jude for Wilson Pickett.

Gregg had one of, if not the greatest, white soul blues voices. Sang like sweet caramel. He started as a guitar player, switched to the Hammond and created an explosion heard wound the world when he handed his brother a coricidin bottle when he was sick.

That bottle launched Duane onto slide. And the rest was history. What amazed me about Gregg was how hard he worked, how many songs he sang. He was the voice of the band, and often the sole principal voice after Dickie left. Or meaningful voice anyway.

Good on you and god bless Gregg. You were a musician who worked his ass off and played his heart out. Daresay too soon, but livers and kidneys are precious organs and sometimes a payment must be made. You sang and played beautifully.

Here's the dead and allmans from Watkins Glen. The soundcheck, night before.

Burnt Weeny Sandwich

Never the twain shall meet

Republicans used a "blue slip" procedure to hold up 42 judgeships during the Obama administration. Now the hypocritical GOP is threatening to change the rules so that they don't get a taste of their own medicine. Typical.
“We can’t allow Democratic senators to continue to obstruct this president’s agenda. If they’re just arbitrarily not returning blue slips, we have to consider changing that tradition." Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR)
Hard not to puke when faced with such double talk. The behavior of the Republicans during the last administration was nothing if not an exercise in continual obstruction, judicial, legislative and otherwise.

I usually write a story about a current political event in a similar fashion, first with a broad brush hypothesis and then I try to surround it with both supportive and non supportive facts and information, hoping that people holding opposite views will at least consider their position after my onslaught. But no more. Because people from both sides of the spectrum are largely incapable of critical thinking.

I read a good comment in the Huffington Post about the recent Montana body slamming incident by a Democratic official from the state.
“The lesson here, and I think frankly even around the country, is that it’s too soon for there to be a backlash,” said Jacquie Helt, a vice chair of the Montana Democratic Party and the state director of the Service Employees International Union.
“It takes a while. People want to dance with who brung them,” Helt added, referring to her fellow Montana voters. “They also, I think, are reluctant to admit that they made a mistake.”
Perhaps the incident even lifted Gianforte's numbers. It is said that his post slamming votes were even higher than the absentee tally. A culmination of a long battle against the press, orchestrated by the President himself, an attack that has brought cheers from GOP officials and loyalists alike.
"I feel like, it's all just propaganda, you know what I mean, it's hard for me to believe anything the media tells me," said Nathaniel Trumper, who cast a vote for Gianforte at a polling station in Helena.
The commenter said that the body slammer failed to change voter's minds, at least the ones that had not already voted by mail, because to do so would be an admission that they were wrong about Trump.
"The body-slamming? Ah, yeah, it just seems a little too good to be true to me," said Chandler Ortman, who works in the restaurant industry in Bozeman and voted for Gianforte. "I guess I'm just gonna say he's innocent until proven guilty."
James Baker, a lobbyist in Bozeman who also voted for Gianforte, said, "Sometimes I think a lot of reporters get aggressive, and after the heat of a long campaign people can lose tempers."
Debbie Warriner of Kalispell called the reports "a crock of baloney."
"I mean, that story — it's possible it's not even true," she told Montana Public Radio.
Shaun Scott, a computer science professor at Carroll College in Helena, said the assault charge was barely a factor in his decision."If you have somebody sticking a phone in your face, a mic in your face, over and over, and you don't know how to deal with the situation, you haven't really done that, you haven't dealt with that, I can see where it can ... make you a little angry," Scott said Thursday. 
I think that the failure of egregious displays like this to move the meter a tick just show that people are not capable of being shamed anymore, let alone consider the propriety or basis for their beliefs.

Everything is excusable. Trump could literally shoot somebody in the street and his followers could find a justification and roll merrily along. America is in two camps and never the twain shall meet.

I can see the candidate going ballistic on the reporter. While inexcusable, people do get angry and fly off the handle.

What is most pernicious and disgusting is how fast Gianforte's press team went live with a knowingly false and concocted story that the reporter had somehow initiated the physical contact. Ironic that a Fox team served to rebut the bullshit. They'll never get work on the network again.

Saw that John Daly went to bat for his buddy Donald Trump the other day. The golfer was responding to the threats of an anti Trump protest and had this to say:
“I just ignore them,” Daly said. “I think that’s the thing you got to do.He’s the President of the United States; I think people need to get on his wagon and ride with him and let him do what he’s doing and leave him alone. It’s not going to change for at least, you know, this year and three more."So, it just seems like the Democrats always have a problem when a Republican gets in office. Republicans seem to kind of put up with the Democrats sometimes, we just go along with it. But I think they just need to leave him alone and let him do what he’s doing. I think he’s doing a hell of a job. I really do."I followed up by asking if Daly has any concerns about all of the investigations and allegations that have enveloped the Trump administration.“No, I mean, if anything’s wrong then we’ll see. But I don’t think so. I think we still need to worry about Hillary (Clinton) and what her and Bill did all these years. That’s the ones we really need to worry about.But she’s not in office.“I know that, but there’s been a lot of things going on with the Democrats that people just want to ignore now. They don’t, they just want to pick on my buddy. Let him do his job and just see what he does. He’s doing great so far.”
Now John Daly is entitled to his opinion, as we all are. He has had his share of problems but who hasn't?

But it is also fair to judge a person, or even a President by the company they keep.

Surprised that Daly isn't miffed for missing the family picture and so is Scott Baio, Johnny Rotten and Stephen Baldwin, other prominent Trump supporters. Seems like there is a common thread here. Unhinged?

Jason Chaffetz is a real piece of work. The lame duck congressman was like a nasty bulldog chasing the sins of Obama, Clinton and Co. but he will retire rather than hold the present administration accountable.

If the Democrats had done a tenth of the things Trump is doing, from collusion and Flynn, to secret channels to Moscow and ethics violations at the hotels, we would never hear the end of it.

But Chaffetz, Gowdy and their ilk have been so passive quiet about the potential sins of the new regime. Amazing the lack of integrity these people show and occasionally admit.

Senator Rand Paul said it best:
“I just don’t think it’s useful to be doing investigation after investigation, particularly of your own party,” he said. “We’ll never even get started with doing the things we need to do like repealing Obamacare if we’re spending our whole time having Republicans investigate Republicans. I think it makes no sense.”

Hannity's advertisers - Media Matters

Friday, May 26, 2017

Expressway To Your Heart - Todd Rundgren

Toronto monuments - color

The Hondells "Hot Rod High"

52nd Annual Fallbrook Vintage Car Show

I hope to see you at the Fallbrook Vintage Car Show at Pala Mesa this Sunday. I know that many of you don't believe that I would know the difference between a dipstick and lipstick, and that very well may be, but I actually started judging the show in 2009 and have only missed one year since.

This show will have 450 lovely cars. It is the longest continuing and non interrupted car show on the West Coast.

Might see some people you haven't seen for a while, like Mike Breining here.

Hope to see you there. Come say hi and see some beautiful cars. Leslie will be there too.

Thursday, May 25, 2017


I have lived on the Santa Margarita River for twenty eight years and was in the next valley over for the preceding ten. I am very lucky as it is a wonderful cañon to live in. I know the area well. I daresay as intimately as anyone. It is populated by a large range of birds, reptiles, fish and mammals, from beavers and puma to deer and turtles. We used to have a breeding pair of herons across the way. For years. And I haven't seen them in ages, and I only rarely see osprey now. Why is that?

Last year the CCC sent people out to clear the Santa Margarita of what they consider non native fish. The river has a bunch of fish including an indigenous red eyed bass. You can find a list here from the state.

I am not sure how successful they were but I think it has harmed the native balance and affected the native bird population that depend on fish. They thrive on  fish like blue gill and bass and yes, even carp.  I personally think it is rather stupid that this is all being done for a southern steelhead that hasn't been seen in these upper parts for fifty years, the last specimen on the Santa Margarita supposedly sighted in 2003 near the ocean. A fish that purportedly got lost.

There are supposedly less than 500 of these fish left on the earth, unfortunately. And due to a variety of reasons, including ground water extraction and dams, they just can't make it up here anymore.

In the 1960's they stocked the river with rainbow and brook trout, at the mailboxes at the end of my road actually. But the powers that be were afraid that they would breed with the "phantom" steelhead so they curtailed the stocking. Wouldn't be the first time that a bunch of academics with good intentions fail to see the ramifications of their handiwork while they elevate one species above another.

An interesting old blog on the subject from Southland Beaver here. Would love to consider other points of view.

Love the steelhead but love all the other animals too. Primum non nocere.

red eye bass

Mama take this badge off of me...


I am always trying to become a better artist. Luckily I have friends that continually teach me new techniques to improve my craft, people like Ken Seals. I am revisiting some of my older shots with my new knowledge and acumen and finding ways to improve them. These are some pictures that I messed with today.

peregrine falcon - Torrey Pines
I was invited to contribute to the Raptors of the world site on Google+. Some excellent international raptor photographers there and it is a privilege to put my work beside theirs.

Peregrine falcon

I don't think that I ever gave this shot of a golden eagle more than a cursory glance, being bothered by the obstruction. But if you can get past that, the form of the bird is actually quite pretty, probably the best eagle shot I have (which isn't saying much.)


juvenile red tailed hawk

Marsh Hawk

What's wrong with Ringo? - The Bon Bons

Sirius Radio has a Beatle channel now, channel 18, and it is really great. With my voice activated car system I merely say Beatles and I get the fab four now 24 -7. Lots of interesting fill, Chris Carter, Beatles covers and rarities, whoever put the thing together deserves a big hand. They really were the defining voice of my generation.

Now all we need is a Dylan channel and everything will be perfect. Zimmy's birthday yesterday, happy b-day. Bob!


The CBO numbers are out on the Republican health care plan and they are frankly pretty scary. Not only are twenty four million Americans expected to lose health insurance if the bill comes to pass, it will disproportionately affect the old and the infirm. This line item says it all for me:
According to the CBO, 64-year olds making $26,500 per year would see their premiums increase by an estimated 750 percent by 2026. While they are on track to pay $1,700 under the current law, the CBO projects the American Health Care Act would force them to pay $14,600. 
By my rough calculations, this would amount to 55% of a person's annual income going to pay for medical care. With necessary expenditures for food, shelter, gas, heat and clothing I just don't see how this works in the real world. Well, actually I do see how it works, people will forego health insurance, they will get sick and they will die.

The GOP, sensing the brewing firestorm, is filling the netwaves with senseless blather about health insurance rates doubling under Obama. And being totally dishonest. Because they don't include the Obamacare health subsidies in their recap.

My personal health insurance did go up under Obamacare, but fairly gradually and incrementally and nowhere near double. Not anywhere near a potential 750% increase like this. How did the line go from the old Band song? "They're trying to shuck us..."

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.