Solar generator, Andalucia - © Robert Sommers 2019

Sunday, September 22, 2019

One for my baby

Touching base

I will be the first to admit that this is not always the most pleasant blog to follow. I have never been exactly shy about letting you now how I really feel. Emotionally and physically. And having had my share of medical issues over the years, many of you have been along for the entire ride and it's not always a lot of fun. Gets gritty at times. Whiny? Sorry.

Got a note the other day that I should turn down the volume on the doomsday device. Fair enough. Just permit me one last slog through the muck.

This week has been a bit of a bitch. I don't react well with narcotics and pain meds and I didn't get to sleep for two days after the surgery, at least not until four in the morning. It completely destroyed my sleep cycle, I am extremely sensitive to opiates. I couldn't crap either. I have a catheter on the end of my penis. It pinches and hurts. It is an engineering problem that half of you will never experience and the other half should hope and pray to the deity of your choice that you never do experience. Sitting is problematic. Urine bags must be changed with regularity or the pressure intensifies the pain.

It gets removed tomorrow, hopefully without complication. I frankly can't wait. Last time out, when the kidney was removed, I developed prostatitis when I removed the catheter and I am crossing my fingers, wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy.

So what have I been doing? Mostly been on the computer, wasting time, fighting dopey boredom. Have watched practically every Efren Reyes billiard's competition, starting with his 1994 U.S. Open nine ball win over Nick Varner. Pimple popping videos. Mike Tyson's complete first round knockout tapes. Sparred with some crackers on the Orange County Register. Napped. Been eating like a pig. Trying to stay off the phone.

Can't really move too much, my muscles are crying out for movement and exercise. Actually did drive yesterday, to look at some stuff and hope to get more back in the normal groove this week.

All in all, I am still elated that the worst did not occur and that I somehow grabbed another lifeline. I am looking forward to hearing from my doctor on my prognosis tomorrow. Best to all. Looking forward to some very good things.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Strike for survival

I take my hat off and applaud the young people engaging in the Global Climate Strike.

Some reports estimate the number of marchers worldwide at over four million. This makes it likely the largest climate protest in history. Good for them. 

The young people understand what is at stake here. The older fossils are a bit too ossified and co-opted to do anything to right our collective ship.

Of course the nasty right wing media believes that these young people have been totally manipulated and brainwashed, not smart enough to think for themselves.  I personally think that they sell them short. Time to lead or get out of the way.

Foggy Notion

Friday, September 20, 2019

A theosophist meets this eccentric...

I'm not qualified to tell you exactly what ImageNet Roulette is. It describes itself as a provocation, as a warning system against classification, a Cassandra like clarion pointing to the dangers of relying on artificial intelligence and machine learning datasets.

What is ImageNet? It is a huge image database, organized and classified according to the Princeton English language database WordNet.

You have exactly one week to figure it out for yourself, then it is coming down.

The ImageNet Roulette project has achieved its aims.
Starting Friday, September 27th this application will no longer be available online.
ImageNet Roulette was launched earlier this year as part of a broader project to draw attention to the things that can – and regularly do – go wrong when artificial intelligence models are trained on problematic training data.

ImageNet Roulette is trained on the “person” categories from a dataset called ImageNet (developed at Princeton and Stanford Universities in 2009), one of the most widely used training sets in machine learning research and development.

We created ImageNet Roulette as a provocation: it acts as a window into some of the racist, misogynistic, cruel, and simply absurd categorizations embedded within ImageNet. It lets the training set “speak for itself,” and in doing so, highlights why classifying people in this way is unscientific at best, and deeply harmful at worst.

One of the things we struggled with was that if we wanted to show how problematic these ImageNet classes are, it meant showing all the offensive and stereotypical terms they contain. We object deeply to these classifications, yet we think it is important that they are seen, rather than ignored and tacitly accepted. Our hope was that we could spark in others the same sense of shock and dismay that we felt as we studied ImageNet and other benchmark datasets over the last two years.

“Excavating AI” is our investigative article about ImageNet and other problematic training sets. It’s available at https://www.excavating.ai/

A few days ago, the research team responsible for ImageNet announced that after ten years of leaving ImageNet as it was, they will now remove half of the 1.5 million images in the “person” categories. While we may disagree on the extent to which this kind of “technical debiasing” of training data will resolve the deep issues at work, we welcome their recognition of the problem. There needs to be a substantial reassessment of the ethics of how AI is trained, who it harms, and the inbuilt politics of these ‘ways of seeing.’ So we applaud the ImageNet team for taking the first step.

ImageNet Roulette has made its point - it has inspired a long-overdue public conversation about the politics of training data, and we hope it acts as a call to action for the AI community to contend with the potential harms of classifying people.

So, as the Monkees once sang, apparently I am a believer. Only I'm not, not even a closeted worshipper. And my wife is mildly eccentric at times yes, but she is no flake. In fact, she is solid as a rock. I think you are better off with a random fortune cookie than sampling this sort of AI swill but I guess that that is their point.

But you should still amuse us and enter your picture and let me have a looksee.

Reading the linked article is interesting. Computers and machines are not really very good at describing what they see. The newest mirrorless cameras are using ai to fill in the blanks of your photography, supposedly improve autofocus and make what are supposed to be some very educated guesses based on huge databases of other people's pictures of similar subjects. They are largely terrible at it. Adobe tried something similar last year with Sensei and I tried it, it is frankly awful and mostly useless to anyone with their own set of eyes and a brain. How boring.

I read a scientist say something last week that gave me pause. People kill themselves or each other on the roads and freeways all the time. But a psychological maginot line will be crossed when machines or autonomous cars start inadvertently killing us based on algorithms and faulty data collection. How will we react to that and will we ultimately accept it as breaking a few eggs for the greater good?

Tesla kills. Self driving Uber kills. When Robots kill: Artificial intelligence under criminal law.

So am I a theosophist or a microeconomist, which is it?

Thursday, September 19, 2019

The Ventures - Wipeout

I did not know until recently that the Ventures' amazing late drummer Mel Taylor was the older brother of Canned Heat bass player Larry Taylor. Mel was from Brooklyn. Buddy Rich was too. Billy Cobham grew up there. So did Marky Ramone. How does Brooklyn grow such great drummers?

Google, are you listening?

I was talking to my friend Larry today on my android phone and he mentioned that he and his wife were flying to Canada to visit Jasper National Park next week. They were scheduled to go a few months ago but she fell ill so this is a makeup trip.

I turned my computer on after I hung up a few minutes later. Bang, there was an advertisement from Google for cut rate accommodations to Jasper National Park. This is the second time in a week that it strongly appears that Google is straining my phone conversations for information. Both incidents were very specific and outside the realm of coincidence.

I did a search on "Is google listening to my phone calls?" and got this: Google Is Absolutely Listening to Your Conversations, and It Confirms Why People Don't Trust Big Tech

Every time you say "Hey Google," or physically access the Google Assistant feature on your smartphone or Google Home, your interactions are recorded and those recordings are then potentially reviewed by contractors that Google says are used to improve its products.However, in addition to listening when you give a command, sometimes your device will experience what Google calls a "false accept," which means that your conversation is recorded even though you're not directly engaging with Google Assistant, and haven't given the wake command.That means it's possible for Google's contractors to listen to audio recorded when you're talking to your spouse or on the phone, even when you're not interacting with a Google device.As for your personal information captured, Google says that just 0.2 percent of all audio snippets end up being listened to by the company's language reviewers. And the company does allow you to delete those snippets manually, or automatically after a period of time. 
I'm not sure I still trust the company whose motto was once Don't be evil. Of course that clause was removed from their charter a year ago. So twentieth century...

Maria Callas Live: Bizet's Carmen Habanera, Hamburg 1962

An American of Greek extraction singing in French to a German audience.


I read the other day that the great swath of people who characterize themselves as politically independent is vastly exaggerated. The number of people who don't lean one way or another is down to about seven percent.

So if you harbor the impression that things are getting increasingly nasty and vituperative politically, you are probably right. The partisan split has never felt wider in my lifetime. The left views the right as a bunch of tree hating nazi racists and the right sees the left as a cadre of gun grabbing communists who want everything handed to them for free.

There are many reasons for the division, you are smart enough to figure them out, the current president is not the necessary cause of the disease but merely a symptom. Both sides feel victimized, both are comfortably ensconced in their own private social media and national media echo chambers and the rocks and arrows are flying left and right at a fever pitch.

Our political system certainly contributes its share to the problem. Centrists and moderates from both sides get primaried out, the louder voices from the wings demanding ideological purity and having an unwillingness to compromise. The middle is not a safe and happy place to be anymore. The electoral college was created to keep the majority from dictating to the minority, but I wonder if the founders ever conceived that instead the reverse could happen? Why does a single vote from New York or California have such a small political impact relative to a vote from Wyoming?

This unfair demonization of bi-coastal urban areas is, I believe, feeding the inherent racial animus we now see emerging in our country, the rural white red states are not going to let a bunch of liberal city minority types tell them what they can or not do, socially or in any other way. With an increasing minority demographic projected, rural folks are scared and you see more and more GOP states working to dilute the voting rights and power of hispanic and black voters, through a host of deceptive chicanery and sleight of hand to make voting more difficult and purge the voting rolls.

Try as they might, they just can't find even hundreds of illegal voters, let alone millions. But no matter, it is about framing and perception and fear. I have a lot I want to spill on this and many other subjects but I think I will wait a day and stay chill.


Blood on the skyline

Nashville Skyline is my favorite Dylan album after Blood on the Tracks. Dylan and Johnny Cash's 1969 collaborations made it onto both Skyline and outtakes from John Wesley Harding. Much of the recorded session material was reportedly unfortunately lost forever. Nashville Skyline probably had the most beautiful band musicianship and definitely the best Dylan vocals of any of his albums. Who said he couldn't sing like a canary when he wanted to? Listen to Lay Lady Lay. I guess he didn't care so much afterwards, been there done that. They are releasing a bunch of the unheard Cash/Dylan material. Can't wait.


Sword of Damocles - Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677)
Yesterday went very well. Not out of the woods entirely but got extremely good news on the kidney front, the fourth diagnostic test, the MRI with i.v., did not show the anomalies present in the prior catscans and renal ultrasound.

Maybe I dodged a bullet? We, or should I say my doctor, still need to do a lot more analyzation and comparison to be sure of what is going on there but I will take any hope I can get at this point.

The bladder tumors were removed without too much incident. They still need to go through pathology. It is apparently very difficult to gauge their depth because the bladder morphs during their removal. But no matter what, I still have my bladder and that is what was most freaking me out, that and the kidney.

The Doctor agrees with me that going back on B.C.G. would be our best course of effort. I was part of the first study when I first developed bladder cancer thirty four years ago and it seemed to really help me. Unfortunately there is a worldwide shortage and it is in very short supply. Bacille Calmette - Guerin is a tuberculin vaccine and an excellent immunotherapy agent.

I was given a couple oxycodone before my discharge. I hate pain medication but didn't feel like arguing. Was up for a big block of the night, narcotics really interfere with my sleep cycle. Can't drive for twenty four hours, sporting a catheter for five days, need to start my antibiotics but CVS never got the order. I developed prostatitis during my nephrectomy and it was one of the most painful episodes of my life. Need those antibiotics.

So I am chilling out today, a lovely breezy morning at this point.

I like my doctor Saad Juma. He has the worst patient reviews of any doctor I have ever seen but I like and respect him. If you were to believe the online commenters who said to run and not walk away, that the guy was an arrogant prick who was always late, you would think I needed to have my head examined. There was just something about the guy I liked instantly, from one supposed prick to another. He seemed plenty nice to me.

He was my late urologist John Griesman's personal urologist and that means a lot to me and he also worked with my other urologist, Joe Schmidt, who was the teaching urologist at UCSD.  Plus he is a world renowned expert in many subfields including female reconstruction, which is not germane in my case but still impressive.

Funny, an Iraqi, he was also schooled in Canada. Coincidentally, almost all of my doctors have always been Canadian. When I started calling around for a Doctor I sheepishly asked Genesis if they had any Jewish doctors available? Strange, clannish question on my part but I am being straight with you. Anyway they said, "No, Cohen's busy, but we do have an Iraqi Arab." "Done," I said. I like him, competent, smart, direct and straight. I see why John wanted to hire him and why my Doctor Seymour Myers recommended him.

The nurse asked me if I had a religious preference. I told her that I was a follower of the most holy flying spaghetti monster. She said she had never heard of it and Leslie explained that I was a pastafarian. She thought that I had lost my noodle. Funny that this was online today.

Thanks to all of you well wishers. Not taking calls today but I really appreciate your support and am feeling extreme relief, especially with the ray of hope on the remaining kidney.



Wednesday, September 18, 2019

High Voltage Red tailed, SJWA

That's what you get for loving me

Phoenix rising

Jeff Witt, my long absent college roommate who now lives in Virginia North Carolina, sent me this old picture this morning, of the two of us holding up my stained glass window of the phoenix, created so many years ago by the amazing Lali Hough of Escondido. Still have it hanging in my home.

I believe that the bearded fellow on the left is yours truly. Hard to believe that I was ever that skinny, isn't it? The benefits of study aids and clean living (and a healthy dose of mannitol.)

Thanks Jeff.

Please don't bombard Leslie (or me) with phone calls and texts for the next two days. She or I will definitely get in touch and let you know how things are going. I do not want to wear her out. Please.

Let it rock

Home base

Yesterday was a crazy day, a day of tidying up loose ends, ends long in need of tightening.

My cousin, lawyer and great friend Stan dropped everything the other day in order to help get my legal house in order in case of a medical worst case scenario.

Ditto Deb Haydis and her wonderful team at Ameriprise. I then went to the county recorder and recorded new deeds that will protect Leslie if I were to implode or combust.

The afternoon saw me a hundred miles in the other direction, on an intravenous feed in an MRI getting more tests and forking over some serious co-pay.

Lots of deep breathing involved, had some problems getting the contrast to appear, but it finally did, the Roberts' side of the family known for its small veins.

I needed some space before what is to come. I have been through so much of this before, surgery and hospitalization is a bit like jail, you are suddenly cast into a monochromatic vortex where you have little if any control.

Submit and surrender, two things I have little aptitude for. Have to get myself mentally ready for another dip in the pool. This afternoon.

I drove up to my personal home base, the San Jacinto Wildlife Area. 19,000 acres of wetlands and I never saw another soul with the exception of a lone hunter making big clouds of dust with his truck as I left. Just how I like it.

It is still pretty dry up there, few ponds are full, won't be optimal for a couple more months, but a bad day there is always better than a good day practically anywhere else.


I took a short hike, looked for the vermilion, never saw it, battled the mosquitos for my precious blood and found myself once again in my natural element.

Not a lot there right now but there were lots of white faced ibis and many egrets and I don't require much more than that. Walker Ponds were pretty dead too.

Many dragonflies around, a whole bunch of red winged blackbirds, coots, a few kestrels and red tailed.

Strange to see a couple pelicans, an uncommon visitor there, at least for me.

I went looking for burrowing owls at a secret new location my pal Larry gave me. Never saw them. Also didn't see a very large hole, bottomed out the van, feared I had done damage but the universe was very kind and merciful to me.

Will take a so-so day there over the alternative of not being there. Hope to return next month. Don't know what I would do without the place.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Les in blue and green

Judy Henske


She was there for me but was I there for her?


Calling Buzz

Like I said, this is not my first rodeo. You know the toughest thing about going through it this time, hell the toughest thing about getting through a normal week, cancer be damned?

Not having my little brother around. I've never fought this thing without Buzz before.

Buzz was a rock for me. His constant support was unfailing. His absence makes things measurably more difficult.

I miss the shit out of him. But just like the line in the song says, nothing is going to bring him back. Unfortunately.

Leslie in black and white

That's the bag I'm in

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Can I be Frank?

Robert Frank - Indianapolis, 1956

The great Swiss-American photographer Robert Frank has passed away. There have been many tributes in the media this week. He had a truly amazing eye and vision.

I would have loved to have been able to shoot like Robert Frank. Or Henri Cartier-Bresson. Or Andre Kertesz. Or Diane Arbus. Any of them. Unfortunately they already had their positions filled. I will have to settle for being me.

Robert Sommers - Girl with white shoes on Broadway, Los Angeles
But if I had been a more urban creature, I would certainly have liked to give it my best shot.

Frank was not an equipment snob. Neither was Capa. They shot with basic gear, utilizing their eyes and brains.

Today everybody is a photographer and so nobody is a photographer.

New cameras pump out perfect focus and exposure on request but so many pictures end up saying nothing. That damn vision thing.

The greats like Frank and the rest of the people I mentioned set a very high mark for the rest of us.

One that will be very hard to match and eclipse. No digital photographer will ever ascend to a place next to the titans of film.

Andy Williams with Simon & Garfunkel

I am an unabashed fan of Andy William's voice. He took a back seat to no one in that department. Do you notice how nobody steps on each other's part here, how much respect these impeccable sonic craftsmen have for each other? A pity they didn't record more material together, Andy is like a perfect missing part. Like listening to angels from heaven.

Charles Kupperman

Interesting article, well worth reading, about the current acting National Security Advisor, Charles Kupperman. Trump’s Acting National Security Adviser Said Nuclear War With USSR Was Winnable
Questioning “mutual assured destruction,” Charles Kupperman called nuclear conflict “in large part a physics problem.”

A physics problem. Welcome to Doctor Strangelove, folks.
Kupperman, appointed to his new post on Tuesday after Trump fired his John Bolton from the job, argued it was possible to win a nuclear war “in the classical sense,” and that the notion of total destruction stemming from such a superpower conflict was inaccurate. He said that in a scenario in which 20 million people died in the U.S. as opposed to 150 million, the nation could then emerge as the stronger side and prevail in its objectives.
His argument was that with enough planning and civil defense measures, such as “a certain layer of dirt and some reinforced construction materials,” the effects of a nuclear war could be limited and that U.S. would be able to fairly quickly rebuild itself after an all-out conflict with the then-Soviet Union.
It may take 15 years, but geez, look how long it took Europe to recover after the Second World War,” Kupperman said. 
There, you feel better now? I remember it well when he said that in case of a nuclear bomb, you just dig a hole in the back yard, throw some plywood and dirt over the top and you were home free. When the calculations were made over the cubic quantity of earth involved, it was literally tons and it was of course shown to be a totally ridiculous notion.

This is our new National Security Advisor. God help us.

The Boxer

The songs of Simon and Garfunkel have always had a special meaning and importance for me. This song is one of them. I was very poor as a child. When I moved to New York in late 1968 at the age of eleven I had two pairs of pants and they were both full of holes. At that point it was just Buzz and I and our alcoholic stepfather. I took a lot of shit from the other kids over my ragged appearance, as well as quite a few punches from the old man, not always for any particular reason at all.

I moved to the lower east side a few years later with my now single mother, I couldn't afford a coat that first winter, until about mid November anyway. The late October and early November wind and snow was biting cold that year, I can still feel it cutting through me today like a rusty knife. Eventually I obtained a pea coat, don't remember exactly how.

I had an academic scholarship to a prep school but it was sixty three blocks away in the upper east side. Normally I took a subway, the 23rd street IRT was right around the corner, but there were times I couldn't afford it. It was a quarter back then. There were a few times I walked.

The line about the whores on seventh avenue rings true for me because I remember hustling hookers for a subway token in front of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel late one night in order to get home before midnight. I was maybe fourteen at the time. Needless to say, I got street wise very fast. Would often walk the streets of Harlem and Spanish Harlem, taking photographs with my real father's old Voightlander, which I was unfortunately conned out of near Washington Square. Guess I wasn't as streetsmart as I thought I was. Lucky I wasn't killed in retrospect.

Weekends I would sometimes panhandle in Central Park. I wasn't ashamed, I did what I had to do to survive. Eventually I got a job breading chicken for a fast food restaurant. Ghastly work. I would come in at four in the morning and then go to school afterwards. Made a dollar and a nickel an hour, got fired when I asked for an additional nickel raise.

New York is a hell of a city but it is a tough place to be cold, alone, young and poor. Simon and Garfunkel capture the feelings I experienced so vividly as a kid perfectly here.


I get a daily email from Word Genius called word of the day. Feeds you odd words. Today's word was syzygy.

A greek word from the 17th century, Syzygy has two meanings. In a physical, cosmological sense it is the straight alignment of three heavenly bodies as in an eclipse. In a human, interactional sense it describes a situation where two people, ideas or events are confluent or in alignment, either alike or in opposition.

I was not familiar with the term but I find it curious, etymologically speaking. Because rarely would a word be binary in one meaning and ternary or trinary in another. Wonder how that happened?

I looked it up, hoping to find further information.

This definition describes the astronomical relationship as one of conjunction or opposition, basically as a binary proposition.

And I find a different binary meaning in biology, Syzygy, the pairing of chromosomes during meiosis.

Syzygy comes from the greek word syzygos which derives from syn (together) and zygon (to yoke).

I found another astronomical definition of the word that relates to two rather than three - Either of two points in the orbit of a celestial body where the body is in opposition to or in conjunction with the Sun.

I may never figure this one out.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Homeward Bound

Space City

I'm sort of flailing around right now, free spooling, not amounting to much at all. Very hard to focus on anything. Had a myriad of tests yesterday, saw a couple doctors, pre-op, got some blood work, an ekg, sucked up my whole day and left me spent and exhausted. As well as still broke and depressed.

We are double tracking the bladder and the kidney and are set for Wednesday for the bladder operation. There is a possibility of losing the bladder. One of the tumors is big and in a terrible position.

I really don't want that to happen. Doctor mentioned it in earshot to the radiologist yesterday and I let out an involuntary scream of protest, "No!"

Have had cat scans, with and without contrast, as well as a renal ultrasound. Kidney problem is still difficult to read and I need to get an additional MRI to see if we can get more information.

I had always heard that you could live on an eighth of one kidney but the urologist told me yesterday that that is bullshit, you need at least two thirds of one to function. Damn. I fucking hope I am not cutting it too close.

At least the pain in my side has stopped. Probably fortunate I was in pain or I would have never detected this shit and maybe just dropped dead one day. I guess this is better.

Had a strange dream last night, had been to Egypt and received what were apparently ancient Egyptian magical power objects. My psyche is obviously trying to pull out all of the stops.

This is, as I have said, my third bout with cancer. I have learned a fair deal about the disease in the thirty four years I have dealt with it. You make an internal list, who was there for you and who bailed. Or at least I always have, petty person that I am. I swear some people must think it is contagious. Or are too busy, have too much on their plate or are emotionally ill equipped to deal. This phenomenon is nothing new.

Those are the people you possibly have to excise from your life if you get the chance. But then again you get these incredible blessings and gifts from complete strangers and everybody else so I guess life balances out. I appreciate those of you who are there for me and Leslie. Lets keep on keeping on.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Seven Curses

This is one of my favorite Dylan songs. It is based on a centuries old folk song, The maid freed from the gallows and a 1930's Leadbelly song called The Gallis Pole. I went looking for the lyrics and found that they are all wrong online, even on the Bob Dylan site. I transcribed it correctly myself. You ever put a curse on anybody? I did once...

Old Reilly stole a stallion

But they caught him and they brought him back

And they laid him down on the jailhouse ground

With an iron chain around his neck.

Old Reilly's daughter got a message

That her father was goin' to hang.

She rode by night and came by morning

With gold and silver in her hand.

When the judge saw Reilly's daughter

His old eyes deepened in his head,

Sayin' "Gold will never free your father,

The price, my dear, is you instead."

"Oh I'm as good as dead, " cried Reilly,

"It's only you that he does crave

And my skin will surely crawl if he touches you at all.

Get on your horse and ride away."

"Oh father you will surely die

If I don't take the chance and try

To pay the price and not take your advice.

For that reason I will have to stay."

The gallow's shadows shook the evening,

In the night a hound dog bayed,

In the night the grounds were groanin',

In the dark the price was paid.

The next mornin' when she had awoken

She found that the judge had never spoken.

She saw that hangin' branch a-bendin',

She saw her father's body broken.

These be seven curses on a judge so cruel:

That one doctor can not save him,

That two eyes can not see him,

And that three healers cannot heal him.

That four ears can not hear him,

That five walls can not hide him,

That six diggers can not bury him

And that seven deaths shall never kill him.

Bob Dylan © 1963

Hummer reprise

I took this with a lesser lens and a lesser camera yet still, it might be my favorite personal hummingbird shot of all time. My yard, August 26, 2015. I feel like I caught lightning in a bottle with this one. Something about the wings...

Nikon D7200 Sigma 150-600mm C ƒ8 1/1000 iso 3200

Dave Thuleen

I was saddened to hear the news that David Thuleen passed away the day before yesterday, after a long bout with cancer.

Dave was a very intelligent and articulate man, maybe one of the very smartest people I have ever met in Fallbrook. He was a big man with a hearty, genuine laugh.

A long time physics teacher at Fallbrook High, we got acquainted by being fellow acolytes of Warren Bishop's afternoon coffee klatch.

Warren was our pope and after a long coterie of disciples were finished kissing his holy decoder ring, we would sit around and talk about the various issues of the day, which often included a run down of the day's handicap action at the track.

I was not a close friend of David's, I believe he was a private man, but he had many highly redeeming and admirable qualities that showed through his guarded exterior veneer.

I liked him a lot and truth be told, often sought his intellectual approval when in his presence.

He was innately skeptical and was not reluctant to challenge bullshit. He did so in a professorial way that was kind and rarely if ever cutting.

He had, as I have, an admiration for old time radio shows, principally the pinnacle achievement of the genre, Yours TrulyJohnny Dollar, insurance detective. He also had a great passion for a wide range of music.

You had to be on your A- game talking to David, because he usually was and he didn't suffer fools too gladly.

And like many smart people, he played by his own rules and was not a man to be dictated to too much by outside forces.

I think he will be greatly missed. When Warren left his flock in the Sinai and headed south alone and on his own, we lost our lodestone and penchant for congregating.

I have to apologize for the crummy picture but I had borrowed a friend's Leica medium format this particular day and obviously didn't have the first idea of how to use it. Once again, okay is always better than none.

Arrivaderci Dave, your absence will be felt in many hearts.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

So Cal frolic

I had a fun weekend, indulging in a bunch of diversions. I am feeling a little better, for some reason the side pain has abated quite a bit.

We went out whale watching on Sunday with Renee.

We never saw any whales but we quickly ran into a bunch of bottlenose dolphins that were hanging out pretty close to the coast.

Just good to be out on the water.

There was a nice Chaldean family on the boat if a bit hirsute. An eleven year old Chaldean can grow a better mustache than I can and we're not even talking about the male children. They were trying hard to project the hip Southern California surf look but finished it off with an awful lot of gold. The young lady, who was very pretty, was wearing what I believe were Kardashian sandals. I hope that I am wrong.

Because nothing screams bad taste like buying the footware of billionaire reality television stars who are famous for doing and accomplishing absolutely nothing. Will probably take a generation or two more to sink in.

I noticed that a huge number of boats docked in the harbor were sporting Trump 2020 signs or Vote Trump, Cut the bullshit banners.

The last healthy GOP demographic in California, rich sailors.

Dave and Amy are in town for a conference so we all went out and had dinner later that night at my Peruvian joint Panca, which was great as usual.

Yesterday I grabbed BigDave at his hotel and we took a cruise.

First stop was Roxy for a so-so lunch. Then hit Swamis and watched the surf.

It was pretty small but still looked fun. A gull flew by us as we stood on the cliff.

Oh shit, I thought, here my camera is in my hand and that gull was wearing blinkers. I had let an osprey fly by. He parked on a tall aloe far away, just out of range. To taunt me.

Found out that the promoter for my Del Mar show decided it was time to quit, with practically no notice, the show was 59 years old, started by his dad. But he has experienced a lot of health problems and is calling it a day. Go to at least sixty years, dude. And return the deposits. Tin to Tiffany to tough shit.

My promoter friend Rosemary is going to try and resurrect it. Dinosaurs facing extinction, we need every show.

After we left Swamis I took Dave to Pampelmousse so that we could split an appetizer and try the world famous john but it was closed. Another time. We headed down to Torrey Pines for a walk.

Didn't see much of note but stretched the legs and enjoyed the lovely day. Dave is a big Cubs fan and was treating me to a Cubs - Padres game at Petco. We stopped at Lefty's first for a Chicago dog.

Drove through beautiful Balboa Park when we got close.

Got there early and watched some bp. Real game was pretty miserable for a Padres fan with so many Chicago fans representing and then their team kicking our ass ten to two. But I took the defeat rather gracefully.

We stopped at the car wash Mexican food restaurant in Cardiff on the way home and I drowned my sorrows in fish tacos. Didn't get home until late.

orange crowned warbler

Got up early today and met Ken and Penny for birdwatching in Live Oak Park. It was cloudy but I managed to snap a few pictures and see some lovely birds. Like this Wilson's warbler.

Are they not cute as hell?

Watched a lovely Nuttal's Woodpecker peck around on a log, me from a nice vantage.

And caught an Acorn Woodpecker finding a tasty grub.

There are worse ways to start a week.


Saturday, September 7, 2019

Beverson Electric

Anybody in the Fallbrook or Temecula area need a reliable licensed electrician who also understands and can fix air conditioning? Who shows up when he says he will or ten minutes early.

Look no farther than Matt Beverson.

I first heard about him from Chris at Main St. Cafe. He has been working for him for a while and the Greek offered high praise.

Matt came out last year and got my home air back running. Fixed some bad wiring problems as well. Has done electrical work for my wife at Caravan too.

Wonderful guy, inexpensive, could not have been nicer, knowledgable and more caring, competent and accommodating. Matt just fixed and cleaned out my rooftop unit at the store. He was working for another company but has recently quit his regular job and now is full time on his own.

Now is the time when air conditioners are going on the fritz and you can't get anyone to return your call. Matt will. I don't hardly ever do these sorts of recommendations but Matt has been a godsend. If you need anything electrical in nature fixed give him a call. Great work, no attitude. 

Matt Beverson
Beverson Electric
(951) 419-7681

lic. 1053726

Soul Kitchen

I have to repost this every so often.

Sea Squill

Do you remember a few years ago when I wrote about my purchase of a drimia maritima, the magic plant of lore?

The one the ancients put on their door to ward off evil spirits? I of course, had no idea at the time of its historic occultist underpinnings, I just found it a curious plant when I saw it at Serra Gardens and I bought it.

You might revisit the post, I find it interesting.
This plant is thought to be Moly, the plant that Homer considered the most holy of all plants, said to be revealed by the god Hermes himself.
Ulysses was handed a sprig by Hermes to assure him that he would be safe when he wandered into the Palace of Circe. Proteus's daughters were cured by this plant after being driven mad by Dionysus.

The plant is indeed very odd. It dies off and than pops a tall flower stalk out of a strange bulb like base when you least expect it.

In the spring it is equipped with a lovely leaf form but it loses all foliage on the approach of summer.

The flower is something to behold. And the bees are crazy about it.

We could all use a good dose of holy magic right now. Or at least I know I could.

Ulysses foiling the wiles of Circe - Pier Francesco Cittadini (1616-1681)