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@ Robert Sommers 2018

Monday, February 26, 2018

Bryan MacLean

Tale of two worlds

Not even two weeks ago, a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida left seventeen students and educators dead.

The shooter was a right wing zealot who is seen in the above picture wearing his Make America Great Again hat. He was using a legal assault rifle when the killing was done.
Cruz allegedly “repeatedly espoused racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic views and displayed an obsession with violence and guns,” reported CNN, including writing that he hated “jews, ni**ers, immigrants” and talking “about killing Mexicans, keeping black people in chains and cutting their necks.” According to CNN, he also wrote that he had written a letter to Trump and wrote “I think I am going to kill people.”
Last Tuesday the Florida House defeated a bill to ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines. The conversation lasted less than three minutes.They wouldn't even debate the bill, which required a two thirds majority to pass. Thirty-six lawmakers supported it, while 71 voted no. They did however, have a different vote the next day.


The House passed a bill to require the words In God We Trust be posted in a conspicuous place in every school building. The legislation passed 97 to 10. The phrase first appeared in the 19th century, in the Star Spangled Banner and did not become our nation's motto until 1957 and the motto of the state of Florida in 2006.

Our original motto, E pluribus unum, meant out of many, one. Bit more inclusive.

Maybe it is just me, but if I had my choice between the two sources of protection, a religious motto or spell to ward off evil or an actual ban on dangerous assault weapons, I think I would probably go with the latter. But I recognize that I might be in the minority here.

If you gotta go

Birdilicious

Lesser gold finch
I got all the important things out of the way this morning and decided to take a walk. Didn't feel like driving all the way to SJWA so I ended up at Los Jilgueros Preserve here in Fallbrook. Took a nice walk, smelled the sage.


I got something in my eye the other day and maybe it scratched my eye, I don't know. I didn't sleep well last night because of the pain. Might have to get it checked.

So for whatever reason, I have no energy whatsoever today, could hardly complete my walk. Felt like I had weights tied to my legs.

Saw some birds though, couldn't quite nail them properly but know where to find them for next time.

Like this Nuttal's Downy woodpecker. Just starting to show a little color.


I sold my full frame Nikon D810 the other day. At a significant loss. Best camera I have ever had, it honestly hurt. In fact I think it could be argued as the second best camera in the world.

But I have a new D850 on order. What many consider to be the best dslr out there. Or should I say back order? Me and 4000 other photographers. All anxiously awaiting.

Guy at Samy's Los Angeles says that they have people that ordered January 1 who still don't have cameras. Good thing I am such a patient fellow. Might be several more months.

Like I said, not a lot of captures and a few near misses. Like this yellow rumped or Audubon's Warbler. Don't need a great camera or photograph to identify him.

The warblers at the preserve like to hang out in thickets. If you are a small passerine it makes sense, affords some protection. And since we are on the subject, they found a yellow cardinal the other day in Alabama, read about it here.

You start out wanting to identify the sexy birds, you end up wanting to know every bird.

black phoebe



Sticky cyber wicket

Ever seem like the world wide web has become one big and sticky feedback loop? Notice that Google knows more about you than your own spouse or your kids?

I get five calls a week regarding updating my stupid Google business listing. I can’t walk into a gas station or restaurant, or stay at a hotel for that matter, without being instantly asked for a review. People want to know, damnit!

Let's see; The ethyl was especially pungent with notes of asphalt and carborundum… Our lives are now an open book. Forget the targeted ads, if you have a cell phone and who doesn’t, your every living motion and ambulation lies in some cloud file in Utah waiting to be properly filed and collated.

As well as your medical history, shoe size, political and religious inclinations, phone communication records and exacting notes on your particular taste in pornography. Where were you at 2:30 p.m. last Tuesday? Never mind, we already looked it up.

Everybody demands feedback and it is laborious to even think about the gargantuan task of keeping up.  But you owe it to humanity. Try calling the phone and power company and before the end of the phone call you will get a scared woman in Punjab begging you for a positive review and also letting you know that you have her future employment fate resting squarely in your hands if you are the least bit critical. Yelp wants to know, Expedia wants to know, Facebook wants you to represent, the whole internet is becoming one big psychic ball and chain. Try being a blogger. Once the heady dopamine high of getting likes wears off, it simply becomes another no pay job where everybody wants you to tell it just like them as Mr. Zim would say. Don’t dare miss a day either.

It is all getting so stupid and I imagined this scenario when I was driving back from Orange County this morning. You have just left a breakfast with Sally and Jim. Your phone flashes. Would you have time to complete a brief three minute survey about Jim? Do you think he is a real friend or merely a passing acquaintance? Do you think he might be putting on weight? Have you ever seen him rob from the till or leave spinach in his teeth? Does he beat his wife, or his dog, would you recommend him as a friend?

I’m serious. I may be going back to real flesh and blood human beings again. This cyber bullshit is a lot of pressure and work.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Walk on by

running rap.

So maybe chocolate anuses aren't your bag. sheesh... Was surprised at some of the private comments I have received, not like I dip my toe in the muck that often but I guess you folks are a fairly prudish bunch. Want more birds, you will get more birds.

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Quincy Jones sort of stepped in it too recently, at least for me. Not the gay Brando stuff, which I could care less about, his saying that the Beatles were lousy musicians, specifically Paul and Ringo. Talk to bass players. Paul is one of the most revolutionary bass players the world has ever known with his lead style, not to mention a brilliant composer. I don't have to make apologies for the fab four, arguably the most powerful musical comet to hit the planet in the last couple hundred years, lets put their work up next to ...say Quincy Jones. Beatles library, Jones library. Liverpudlians adding hundreds of iconic songs to the musical lexicon. Quincy uh... Can you name one Quincy Jones song? What did he ever compose that was noteworthy besides the theme from Sanford and Son?

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I have seen some amazing concerts in my life, Mick's birthday in 1972 at the Garden, Tull Thick as a brick, Grateful Dead at the Swing. But there are many performers I was not lucky enough to see, people like Hendrix, Marley, Janis and Otis. As much as I would loved to have seen any of them, what I wouldn't give to have seen Laura Nyro or Eva Cassidy while they were still alive.

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Have been a legal firearm owner for over 40 years. See no need for assault weapons like the AR -15. Ban them. If I can't protect myself with my handguns and shotgun then it is on me. Constitution wouldn't allow you to have a tank or an F-16, shouldn't have a machine gun either.

The mass arming of teachers is idiotic as well. The problem? The person initiating the violent action always has such an advantage. You know how many gun shops get robbed? A lot. And they are typically armed to the gills. The truth is that the person on defense rarely has time to react.

And the problem with mental health screening is that it is hard to make a determination about a person and take away their rights until they commit a horrible act. Very difficult problem.

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Trump is threatening to pull ICE out of California. Good, sooner the better. Our economy needs immigrant labor, they tend to be better behaved than the natives. I live with them every day. Sooner we leave the USA, the happier I will be. Tired of paying for you parasitic red state losers. Take the gestapo with you and don't ever come back. We don't need you, you need us.

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One of my photographs is honorable mention at the Anza Borrego Photo Contest. Owl and hummingbird. They invited me to attend a critique. No thanks. I am a horrible sore loser.

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The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services pulled the phrase "America's promise as a nation of immigrants" out of its mission statement today. We are officially no longer a nation of immigrants. You happy? Your guy.

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Scott Pruitt is talking to god again. Some great comments at The Hill.

Crystal ship


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Luke McDaniel

Karen and Tony Barone


Wish you were here

Pucker up - NSFW

Ever get a hankering to memorialize your posterior for posterity? Me neither. But evidently some people do. The newest gift idea, bunghole sculpture.

Some bloke from across the pond will create a custom bronze impression of your anus. Or make a special gift box containing perfect replicas of your exit hole in rich Belgian milk chocolate.

A great treat for that special someone in your life that seemingly has everything, a casting of your chocolate starfish. Read more about it here. Or straight down the pipe from the manufacturer, Edible Anus.

Now the Blast usually doesn't sink down to this level of crudeness and depravity but I would feel somewhat remiss not to spill and share this unusual story with you.

If you do order a gift box of the nougaty chocolate sphincters please understand that you don't have to share. I really don't want to see it or eat it. Please. I see enough assholes every day as it is. Watch the video if you are so inclined.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Close up the honky tonks

Palm Springs Modernism 2018

Mrs. Barone outdid herself once again.
Just got back from a fun but grueling six days in Palm Springs exhibiting at the Palm Springs Modernism Show.

The show was great for me. The promoter, Rosemary Krieger from Dolphin Promotions and her staffmates Gordon and Charlie were fantastic to us and we had a really good time. Made a little dough too.

I shared a booth, as always, with Steve Stoops from Stevens Fine Art in Phoenix.

Opening was huge, record breaking, line to get in long. More energy at a show than I can remember in a long time.



We created a nice little annex for furniture. Bought a few nice things too. Had some delicious meals, including lobster benedict at Spencers.


Leslie even came out to join me at the show for a couple days and she hasn't done that in years.


Here is a picture of her with three other girlfriend dealer friends that we went to Italy with. We all went out for drinks. They went out to a drag queen show later. Not really my thing.


Now I am frankly exhausted. I just unloaded the van, am beat, so pictures will have to do for now. Not going to get real wordy.

Annie Forcum from Rosebud with Josie




People watching at the Palm Springs show is just over the top. Human beings of all shapes and flavors.



fabulous band

Kenny with some unsavory types
Ken Stern

The one and only Dennis Boses


If you have never visited Palm Springs during Modernism week I encourage you to do so. Nothing else quite like it.

Great colorful characters and cutting edge material.

Interesting t-shirt design




Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Smokestack Lightning

Come rain or come shine

Bettman
If you don't want people talking about Climate Change, which you spent your time debunking while running for election, it makes sense to disembowel the National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 


Anything to do with climate change research is purportedly heading for draconian cuts in the prospective budget.
The Trump administration budget proposal would slash the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration by more than $1 billion next year, forcing the agency to cut about 8 percent of jobs. The weather service, part of NOAA, would lose 355 jobs, including 248 forecasting positions.Other proposed cuts at the NWS include $11 million slashed from the tsunami warning program, and a $15.5 million reduction to ocean surface and marine observation programs.
More about the entire topic here.
If you think it's only a joke to suggest that the Trump administration would terminate an active observatory once we've gone through the expense of putting it in orbit, well, then you haven't read the rest of the budget proposal, which attempts to follow through on earlier threats to gut NASA's Earth-observing missions. Two are not yet launched. One is a satellite called CLARREO pathfinder, which is intended to develop instruments for a follow-on satellite to produce detailed climate records. Another, PACE, would track ocean-atmosphere interactions. Two other satellites would have specific instruments shut down—one of them an Earth-observing camera championed by Al Gore that has been targeted by every Republican administration since he left the vice presidency (the Bush administration shelved the working hardware rather than put it in orbit).
But the most striking thing is the call to shut down the Orbiting Carbon Observatory, which has only been in operation for less than four years. The ability to monitor Earths' carbon dioxide fluxes was considered so important for following climate change that NASA built a second after the first was lost in a launch accident. The Trump administration would now shut it down.
It's not only in space where environmental monitoring would be cut. For the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the United States Geological Survey (USGS), there is a clear theme to the budget request: efforts to collect data or study our home planet get funding cuts, and climate-related efforts doubly so.
Both agencies are cut by about 20 percent in total. The only increases in NOAA's budget are for facilities or operating costs, with the exception of work to incorporate data from new European weather satellites. About 250 positions would be cut from the National Weather Service, with another 25 cut from the Tsunami Warning Program as one of the two US Tsunami Warning Centers would be shut down. A NOAA summary document notes that "Support for [tsunami] preparedness education, outreach, and innovation research will cease."
Funding for development of weather forecast models, hydrological models, ocean observations and ocean acidification research, climate research, and university partnerships would all be cut. Although the budget seems to reverse last year's call to scrap several future weather satellites—endangering weather forecasting as older satellites die—it cuts $565 million from two satellite programs without really explaining how that would be done.
In addition, as the above snippet mentions, the budget has the National Weather Service in its sights. 355 jobs are slated to be cut.
Sobien told weather.com Tuesday that if the budget proposal is approved, it would mean that by 2019, more than a quarter of the NWS staff would be eliminated. 
"That means many offices will have to close or close nights and weekends," Sobien said of the proposed staffing cuts. "Already, many NWS staff work months at a time with no days off and are forced overtime."
"What you will see is a decrease in forecasting and warning accuracy," Sabien said, adding that inaccurate forecasting will "cost us all a whole lot more than $75 million."Literally, this (proposed budget) is risking all of our lives to save a few million dollars," he added. 
How many times can you say idiotic? Looks like we are in for stormy weather. And lets fast track pipelines in our national parks as well. I would like to ask my Republican friends, especially you socially liberal, fiscal conservative types, how much of this stuff you are prepared to own? Yea or nay, make yourselves heard so that we have a record, okay?

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Embryonic Journey



My stomach is tied up in knots today. Big Dave is in the hospital, some serious internal issues, undergoing surgery.

Dave is a former roommate of mine and one of my oldest and very closest friends.

We have both always been there for each other in our forty year plus friendship.


Wish I could be in two places at once but I can't, have a show in Palm Springs this week.

I was thinking I needed to hear some airplane, turned on Pandora and this song came right to the fore on its own accord.

Will take it as a good sign.

Wishing my friend the best. He is one tough guy.

Happy Eleven.


The Blue Heron Blast enters its eleventh year of shpieling in just a few weeks. This is a picture that Kerry took of me August 17, 2007, just prior to the year of the blog's inception. My, do I go on. Eleven years. Note the black hair on the rather porcine subject. Thought I would have it forever. Sheesh.

Over 7055 posts. Several million direct views. Thanks for reading. Wouldn't be much fun by myself. And thanks to all you lurkers out there who still read the screed daily. I saw one of you at coffee the other day and said hello and can't tell you how much it means to me. Forward ho!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Lucinda Williams - Can´t Let Go

Red winged blackbird, Hemet


John Hartford

Mick Mulvaney is a liar

In a clear case of illegal loansharking, Golden Valley Lending was lending money at a usurious 950% interest rate.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau took a couple years to build a strong case against them and they were ready to pounce.

According to anonymous sources inside the bureau, new CFPB head Mick Mulvaney ordered the regulatory action dropped and then lied about having had nothing to do with it.

Read the whole sordid story here.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

How Can I Tell You?

Nonna

My niece was in town this week, attending a law conference. She lives in Toronto with her husband and children. Her father's passing has affected her deeply, as it has similarly hurt me.

She asked us to join her for dinner. She wanted us to take her somewhere that was important to her father Buzz and to our family, sort of retrace his steps. We are all still processing as best we can. A memorial dinner, if you will.

The only real possible choice for us was Busalacchis. Busalacchis was sort of our family restaurant, back then the location on Fifth and Robinson that no longer exists except in our collective memories.

We would join our father and Shela there when we were younger, all of our separate families, the waiters would dutifully trot out the gold Sommers nameplate for our table. The old craftsman house turned restaurant was like eating in someone's home. The best chopped salad, the best fruto di mare. Superb Italian food. We were at home there. And we felt genuinely honored there too.

The staff were so warm and became so close to us, the maitre 'd Diego such a close friend that he played his native flamenco guitar at Leslie and my wedding. Food and wine always perfect.

Busalacchis moved to various other places, the brothers split up somewhere along the way. Living in Fallbrook we don't get down there to San Diego too much anymore. I stopped by and saw Joe after my father died and he was already aware of his passing and very warm and supportive.

We met Rachel at Nonna in Little India last night and a young man who identified himself as Joe's nephew seated us. We had somehow messed up on the date and he found a space for us anyway. Quickly, in a packed restaurant. I had explained the deal to him and he took care of us. Nonna is a newer Busalacchi iteration, a slightly different paradigm, bit less expensive, bills its fare as comfort food. Real, tried and true, not overly fancy. The block is full of those kind of places, if that is what you are looking for.

Leslie, my niece and I shared story after story of my late brother and exchanged family news. Fabulous food as always, antipasti, lamb, short ribs, funghi pizza, pasta, chopped salad. Enough food to feed an army. A great and entertaining server from Milan.


I think of my niece as still a kid sometimes but she is not, she is a beautiful, cerebral, self assured and talented woman.

She told us a story about Buzz and his mountain of unpaid parking tickets that had us rolling off of our chairs.

Everything was going fine until they brought our a huge dessert plate for our table, gratis.

Cannoli, tortes, macaroons, chocolate covered strawberries, the whole shebang. Sweet quickly became bittersweet for me, they often walk side by side.

For some reason the generosity of the Busalacchi family coupled with the intense sadness and pain that I still feel every single day because of the loss of my brother chose that moment to hit me right between the eyes.

I managed to hide most of my tears but not all of them. The hurt is never far away and it looks for opportunities like last night to bubble to the surface.

I want to thank the restaurant for taking such amazing care of us, old clients that those present were probably too young to remember, for still being family, and to my niece for taking the time to dine with us, my wife for accompanying me. Buzz, it never gets easier for those of us left down here.