Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Camel - Lunar Sea

Taco time

I was running a little crazy this morning, pressed for time. I had a minor eye surgery scheduled in Murrieta and about forty minutes to grab a bite and get up there.

I headed for Jack in the Box, something I honestly rarely do and grabbed the two tacos for a buck deal. Threw in a sausage croissant. Great go to on the cheap.

I love Jack in the Box tacos. So does my sister Barbara in Florida who can't get them back there and has to stop first thing when she is in California. There is a gamey quality to the mystery meat paste inside the crackly little gems I find both pleasing and intriguing in some horrible and demented way.

Jack in the Box is cool, a hometown San Diego product now owned by Ralston Purina and one of two restaurants open all night in Fallbrook, the other being Robertitos. And yes, Ralston Purina is the dog food company but it would be in very poor taste to make any kind of culinary nexus connection. Supposedly, the local Jack is a great tweaker hangout at three in the morning. I hear the company is in some bad financial shape. Franchisees are pissed at headquarters at the moment for some reason.

Frankly there was something a little off on my tacos today, they didn't have the usual je ne cest quois. Hope they haven't monkeyed with their little treasure. Will try again soon and try to nail the difference down. So what are the fabulous and incredibly delectable tacos actually made of? Hamster? Cockroach paste? Is it a tang like space food chemical concoction? Some vegans swear that they are made of soy and down them without guilt. Got me.

I did some checking.

Somebody on the net offered this: Beef Regular Taco Filling Ingredients: Beef, Water, Textured Vegetable Protein (Soy Flour, Caramel Color), Defatted Soy Grits, Seasoning (Chili Pepper, Maltodextrin, Spices, Wheat Flour, Salt, Dry Garlic, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Corn and Wheat Gluten, Monosodium Glutamate, Dry Onion, Disodium Inosinate, Disodium.

Another came up with something entirely different. Taco, Regular Filling Ingredients: Beef, Chicken, Water, Textured Vegetable Protein (Soy flour, Caramel Color), Defatted Soy Grits, Seasoning (Chili Pepper, Corn Maltodextrin, Spices, Bleached Enriched Wheat Flour [Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, and Folic Acid], Salt, Garlic Powder, Hydrolyzed Corn, Soy, and Wheat Proteins, Monosodium Glutamate, Onion Powder, Natural Flavors, Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate, Succinic Acid), Salt, Tomato Paste, Worcestershire Sauce (Distilled Vinegar, Molasses, Corn Syrup, Water, Salt, Caramel Color, Garlic Powder, Sugar, Spices, Tamarind, Natural Flavor, Sulfiting Agent). Tortilla Ingredients: Ground Corn, Water, Lime. Cooked in Canola Blend Frying Oil. Contains Soy, Wheat. 

So the second largest ingredient in the beef taco is chicken? Kind of weird but I can live with that. By the way, Jack and the Box reportedly sells 554 million of these babies a year, over 1055 a minute. I assure you that somebody else is eating them besides me, although few will apparently confess. More on the scrumptious morsels here, which the snide writer likens to a "wet envelope of cat food." Accurate but not altogether charitable.

Anyway, as I said, there was something a little off with them today. They lacked their customary "funny smell." By the way the larger supertaco from Jack is a totally different animal and lacks all the redeemable virtues of its poor and diminutive relative. And full disclosure, the sausage croissant was pretty soaked in its own grease. Which was okay because at least the grease wasn't rancid as it can be if you happen to catch Jack on the wrong day.

First Jack, 63rd and El Cajon blvd. I worked four blocks away, my first job at the Rolando Apartments.

By the way, I recently discovered the fish taco at Robertitos. Where have I been? A generous portion of deep fried fish with a bit of pico de gallo, cabbage and ample lime slices, all smothered with an appropriate cream sauce. Sprinkle with a liberal dollop of hot sauce. Only three fifty, half the price of the fish burrito and even better, if you ask me. I usually get it with zanahorias, the hot carrots and jalapenos combo that will set you back another fifty cents. Top it off with a fanta and you are in heaven.

Tell them that you want the Blue Heron Blast discount. They will look at you funny and maybe threaten to call the cops.

Sun flare at Arches

ƒ22 1/60th iso 64 Nikon D810 with Bower 14mm ƒ2.8

Monday, January 14, 2019

Eva Cassidy and the London Symphony

One of my favorite covers by the late and incredible Eva Cassidy, posthumously accompanied by the London Symphony. Not quite as stunning as the solo version but still beyond beautiful.

e ticket, fourth iteration

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Cindy Walker

The arrow of time

Black hole entropy equation
I was in a state of half sleep at three in the morning last night when I strew a few lines together.

I have been thinking about my recent conversations on mortality and longevity and my brain was wandering, as it often does in bed. I didn't get up and write down my thoughts as I had told myself to, so this is what I am left with the next day:

The notion of defeating entropy is
as possible as
suspending gravit
or cancelling fall and winter
for a never ending spring.

Bit pessimistic I know. Not going to win a Pulitzer either but it was three in the morning, after all, and sounded much more profound while I was in my pajamas. There is, of course, probably more, now forever lost to dreamland.

I may have filched the last idea from Bradbury, hope that Ray won't mind.

Are you familiar with the basic notion of entropy? The French mathematician Carnot introduced the concept, he wrote a paper in 1803 that proposed that in any natural process there exists an inherent tendency towards the dissipation of useful energy

All closed systems eventually break down. Even organic beings. There are many reasons for the dissipation including friction and wear. The term entropy is used in various schools of science including economics, quantum mechanics, communications and cosmology.

Definition of entropy 

1thermodynamics a measure of the unavailable energy in a closed thermodynamic system that is also usually considered to be a measure of the system's disorder, that is a property of the system's state, and that varies directly with any reversible change in heat in the system and inversely with the temperature of the system.broadly the degree of disorder or uncertainty in a system

2athe degradation of the matter and energy in the universe to an ultimate state of inert uniformityEntropy is the general trend of the universe toward death and disorder.— James R. Newman

ba process of degradation or running down or a trend to disorderThe deterioration of copy editing and proof-reading, incidentally, is a token of the cultural entropy that has overtaken us in the postwar years.— John Simon

4statistical mechanics a factor or quantity that is a function of the physical state of a mechanical system and is equal to the logarithm of the probability for the occurrence of the particular molecular arrangement in that state

As I said before, I seem to be in the clear minority on the whole death cheating business. Some of you have great plans for the infinite future, including new planet population and space nookie. I salute you comrades. I am content one day to submit to the natural long sleep. Throw me a cosmic rose on your way by.

And make your move before the Large Magellanic Cloud collides with the Milky Way Galaxy. I hear it is going to be one hell of a crash.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Live and die

I was at a dinner party last week and a friend asked the group how long they hoped/wanted to live? He announced that he was thinking of 130 or 140. Another fellow offered 110, 120. I said that I would be happy if I could hit my next birthday.

I guess I should fill in the conversation a bit. The man who made the query was talking about the new frontier in aging and longevity. He mentioned the Google resident genius Ray Kurzweil, father of the concept of singularity, who he said was a sixty something who now lived in the body of a forty something. The first immortal. Some time ago Kurzweil came up with the idea of nanorobots that would course through your veins and keep your systems working optimally. Who wouldn't want to extend their life? Well, maybe me...

I looked up Kurzweil, who I have  touched on before here. Hate to say it but he didn't look so good to me.

The futurist, who wrote the book Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever, is down to 100 supplemental pills a day from his high of 250. Undergoes weekly intravenous longevity treatments. Chelation. Much more. Think a super smart Keith Richards. And very self absorbed.

I believe that I am in the minority on this one. I would not want to live beyond what has been the norm the last forty or fifty years. I have packed in every ounce of life experience I could muster in my paltry sixty one years to date. I will leave with nothing left on the table, knowing I have gone for it at every opportunity. Will I have things left on my bucket list? Who doesn't. But nobody gets to do it all and it is a bit unreasonable to try, at least in my way of thinking.

I remember hearing an old Russian folk tale in kindergarten about a man who was granted his wish to live forever. As you might imagine, it quickly became a curse. Losing everyone you have ever loved. Tiring of life and never being able to undergo the cessation, the final sleep. Sounds horrific.

We seem to have a rather finite productive period in our lives. Even if it was extended significantly, an exponentially larger group of older people living past the century mark would put a large burden on the young. Is that fair? Those that have tried to eat of the tree of knowledge and desired immortality have been struck down in a plethora of myths since time immemorial, from Pandora to Adam. The first had an eagle eat his liver for eternity, while chained to a rock. Ouch.

Perhaps artists are somewhat different in how we wish to leave our mark, think Hendrix, Morrison, Joplin, the twenty seven club. Or those denizens of Thanatos who exercised even more complete control of their final exit, like Plath and Brautigan. Say your piece, make your mark and split.

I never thought I would make it this long, frankly. I was told by a doctor that I had no more than three days to live at the age of 16. After three years of fighting chronic interactive non a, non b hepatitis, my pancreas emptied out, my feet started itching, vomiting bile, I actually started the process of dying. Necrosis. Down close to 125 lbs. Won't go into the gruesome details, saved by my mother's care and prayers, I made it. Then the eight years of continual bladder and kidney cancer. Which returned twenty five years later.  And an incident after open heart surgery where Leslie and I were informed that I had less than two weeks to live. Which turned out to inaccurate but was taken very seriously at the time. And there have been more.

Call of death, 1934 - Kathe Kollwitz
I learned long ago to live for the day and be good with that.

When you face death on a semi continual basis, you make peace and stop clinging to life in the same way a healthy person might. At least in my experience. Appreciate the moment. But a desire for eternity? No thanks. You might wrestle with death but declare victory? I think not. When my ticket gets punched it gets punched. And I am most happy with that. Maybe people who have always been healthy can't grok that.

Infidel753 wrote something tangential to this conversation on his blog today; A century from now people will look back on our time, which passively accepts aging and natural death as inevitable, with the same pity and horror with which we now look back on the age that accepted its helplessness in the face of the Black Death as something normal.

I don't know why this type of thinking is so antithetical to my own but it is. I recognize that my attitude may be in the minority. I hate the thought of gene editing too, imagining a world of perfect children with perfect teeth with all the mad skills one might pick out of the catalogue. I personally don't trust humans with such power. But a large majority of young people today favor the practice. I think I am outvoted.

Can you imagine how world weary a centenarian might get, watching humanity continue to devolve and others continually repeat the same tired mistakes? Give me a final chapter any day.

Short memory

Big day

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Don't worry baby

Our friend, the burrowing owl

Surf's Up!

Mike called yesterday and said that surf was supposed to be up to eleven foot high today and did I want to take some shots with him this morning? Sure. I met him at the market at six and after a quick stop at the donut shop for a cup of coffee we drove to Cardiff Reef.

The surf was pretty big and the form was excellent. Beautiful morning! We saw what looked to me were occasional sets with faces that were at least twelve feet tall and heard that they were up to fifteen earlier in the morning. Saw a couple of nice tube rides. And a lot of spectacular wipeouts.

Unfortunately not only was it a little hazy, I sort of forgot what I was doing and did not do a very good job capturing the session.

My autofocus was bogging down in the whitewater contrast and I should have tried to grab more depth of field.

Haven't shot the waves with the prime in over a year. Need to learn how to shoot surf photographs again. Next time!

Still I definitely had fun and can't wait to go back on another big day. We eventually moved to Swamis and the waves were even nicer there. Lots of people out in the lineup.

We drove up to Grandview, near my old house. That was real nice too. Afterwards breakfast at Honeys and good to go.

Hopefully next time I will have it a little more together! Thanks for driving, Mike.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

San Jacinto Postcard

Taj Mahal

Take off

My favorite Mongolian heavy metal band

Uighur Tragedy

There is no sadder situation in the world than what is happening to the Uighur people that inhabit the Xinjiang province of China.

A Turkic people, they have lived on their native Tian Shan for over 6500 years, they were incorporated into China by conquest in 1876. Xinjiang means new territory in Chinese.

There are said to be up to one million Uighurs in concentration camps in Western China called "re-education camps." Their language, religion and islamic cultural practices are now forbidden and they are in the process of undergoing "sinoization."

From Wiki:
Uyghurs in Xinjiang suffer under a "fully-fledged police state" with extensive controls and restrictions upon their religious, cultural and social life.In Xinjiang, the Chinese government has expanded police surveillance to watch for signs of "religious extremism" that include owning books about Uyghurs, growing a beard, having a prayer rug, or quitting smoking or drinking. The government had also installed cameras in the homes of private citizens.
Further, at least 120,000 (and possibly over 1 million)Uyghurs are detained in mass detention camps, termed "re-education camps," aimed at changing the political thinking of detainees, their identities, and their religious beliefs. Some of these facilities keep prisoners detained around the clock, while others release their inmates at night to return home. The New York Times has reported inmates are required to "sing hymns praising the Chinese Communist Party and write 'self-criticism' essays," and that prisoners are also subjected to physical and verbal abuse by prison guards. Chinese officials are sometimes assigned to monitor the families of current inmates, and women have been detained due to actions by their sons or husbands.
Beijing denied the existence of the camps initially, but have changed their stance since to that the camps serve to combat terrorism and give vocational training to the Uighur people. Yet, calls by activists to open the camps to the visitors to prove their function have gone unheeded. Plus, media groups have shown that many in the camps were forcibly detained there in rough unhygienic conditions while undergoing political indoctrination.The lengthy isolation periods between the two Uyghur genders has been interpreted by some analysts as an attempt to inhibit Uyghur procreation in order to change the ethnic demographics of the country.
I read an interesting article on the subject in the NYT the other day. Taking a page from Joe Stalin, the utterly ruthless and immoral Chinese are arresting Uighur poets, writers, intellectuals and scholars. Moderate and passive people. First slaughter the lambs. There are reports of mass murders being held in the camps which can not be corroborated because third party independent observers are not allowed entrance.

The concentration camps are being used to provide free or low cost forced labor. Some of the goods produced there have made it to the United States. Slavery. To companies like Baxter Sportswear.
“These people who are detained provide free or low-cost forced labor for these factories,” said Mehmet Volkan Kasikci, a researcher in Turkey who has collected accounts of inmates in the factories by interviewing relatives who have left China. “Stories continue to come to me,” he said.
The Chinese are also harassing Uighurs in foreign lands and threatening their families back in Xinjiang with retribution.

Is there a company more sinister and despicable than the current Chinese regime which appears more Stalinist, immoral and repressive every day?

Female shoveler?

Ten Years After

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Mommy, what did butterflies look like?

News came down the pike yesterday that the monarch butterfly population in California has dropped 86% in the last year.

With the second of two consecutive bad years, the monarch butterfly population in California has now dropped to less than 0.5% of its historical size.

We are right at the threshold of losing the population.
“While overwintering populations naturally fluctuate, even by double-digit percentages, the magnitude of this year’s drop is of significant concern because the monarch population was already at a new low after the 97 [percent] decline it has experienced since the 1980s,  leading to a situation which may be catastrophic for the western population,” the Xerces Society said.
Pesticides, herbicides, habitat loss and climate change are all thought to be contributors to the decline.


In other news, the last known member of Achatinella apexfulva, the Hawaiian Tree Snail, died New Years Day. The species is now officially extinct.

What did Rush Limbaugh once say, if they can't hang in the brave new world, who needs them?

Twilight hour, SJWA

Leonard Bernstein – Stravinsky: The soldier's tale

Magic Hour

Northern Shoveler

I went hunting in Temecula yesterday but pickings were slim so I decided to head up to the preserve in the afternoon. Go hunt with the camera instead. Already a quarter of the way there. Wasn't doing much of anything else.

As I drove up Davis Rd., a small car with two older women in it waved me down and stopped me. I must look like a birder. They told me that there was a burrowing owl not 25' away. I have never had a decent shot of one and was very happy for their help. Snapped some shots, hand held. Burrowing owls are the second smallest owl species, a mere 7 to 9" tall. This one was an adult.

They live in the ground, often adopting or sharing mole or gopher holes.

It was a nice harbinger of a lovely shoot. I saw all manner of birds, eagles, falcons, hawks, lbbs, shorebirds and waterfowl.

I had not been up there in the evening for a very long time and it felt good to once again shoot in the golden hour.

Dusk and dawn is when the magic happens.

I don't have adequate time to process today, life is calling, but will leave you with a few to hopefully whet your whistle.

I saw a few of my favorites.

Caught the black shouldered kite by accident in a tree. It was really starting to get dark at that point. Sorry, it is now officially known as the White tailed kite.

I saw the peregrine on the shoals at the Ramona Duck Club off Walker Rd., never seen him there before.

The place was fantastic as always, I was the only human around. Nice to have the intense beauty and calm to myself.

Red Shouldered Hawk

red winged blackbird

I am looking forward to seeing what else I may have captured. had a great hike, second in two days.

Must get there late again.

Nice electric sunset.

I love the big fat kestrels.
Black necked stilt

I will post some more shots once I get time.