Raven at San Jacinto

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Proto-speak, linguistics and computational phylogenetics


"Almost half of all people in the world today speak an Indo-European language, one whose origins go back thousands of years to a single mother tongue. Languages as different as English, Russian, Hindustani, Latin, and Sanskrit can all be traced back to this ancestral language.

Over the last couple of hundred years, linguists have figured out a lot about that first Indo-European language, including many of the words it used and some of the grammatical rules that governed it. Along the way, they’ve come up with theories about who its original speakers were, where and how they lived, and how their language spread so widely."

They say in the beginning there was the word

but in which fair place 

was it first heard?

Anatolia or a West Russian berg

neither possibility would be too absurd.

Was it an ancient farmer  

or a person hunting herds 

who was the first to enunciate their verbs?

Why do we share so many words

with folks who live so far not near?

wish we had a perfect mirror

to see our past and what brought us here.


Crashing the gym

Anytime Fitness, Fallbrook

Santa Barbara Antique Show


Please join me at the Santa Barbara Decorative Arts and Vintage Sale and Show.


Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Monday, February 12, 2024

Syd Barrett - Octopus

Sunny Side of Heaven

I have been listening to a lot of the late Danny Kirwan's music of late. Such a beautiful player.

Bad Press

Boy has our sleepy little town of Fallbrook made the news this week. Not in a good way. First a major drug bust that included meth, heroin and fentanyl along with a bunch of illegal guns. Then we had a stabbing murder at the Econo Lodge by a guy who fancied himself the pirate, Jack Sparrow. A drunk driver drove through the front window of Anytime Fitness at some point this weekend. And top it all off with a shooting at the gas station this morning.

This is all very strange and uncharacteristic stuff, not the sort of activity or publicity we need or are accustomed to. I was talking to a detective this morning and was told that the cheap motels get about three hundred dollars a night from some governmental agency instead of the $59 they would normally charge a tourist. So they keep them filled with some pretty unsavory types of riff raff as well as the unfortunates who are just down on their luck. Because they are making money.

We get the local motels (not to mention our old hospital) brim full of these out of town basket cases and nobody knows it is going on until you hear about a guy playing pirate who does somebody in. Arrgh. Very sad.

Billy Joe Shaver

Super Sunday

I have a busy show schedule coming up and am not much interested in football so I thought I would get lost in nature yesterday. What a beautiful morning. Leslie made me a bacon and pancake breakfast and a cup of her amazing coffee.

I drove out the driveway which Todd had fixed the day before so that we could get in and out again after the massive rain.

The red tailed mother was on her nest, perched high over the Santa Margarita River Valley.

I drove up north to my special spot and took a look around. 

The road was pretty muddy in spots but I managed to amble through.

I normally don't come on Sundays because there are other humans there, it was mostly older birders yesterday, in big packs. 

I prefer midweek when I have the place to myself.

I wonder if there is a venery term for a large group of older birders? 

In any case, they were well behaved and pleasant and their phalanx mostly self contained. 

Had themselves a nice little picnic afterwards. 

Beats shuffleboard I guess.

I never understood birding by committee or photography by committee, the reason I practice both avocations is really so that I can be alone. 

I like the silence. But everybody has their own needs and to each his or her own.

It was gorgeous and crisp out there. 

I had snow capped peaks in every direction, Jacinto, Baldy, Gorgonio and more.

It wasn't an epic day birding but it was a very good day and I had a great time. 

The first bird I spotted was a vermilion flycatcher, but not in his usual spot. 

I didn't get a great vantage through the branches and didn't even take a shot.

 I have plenty of good ones already, no big.

I saw lots of red tailed hawks, no eagles yesterday. 

Ran into a fellow who saw red tailed hawks mob a falcon but I never saw the peregrine myself. 

I did see a red tailed cross skypaths with a crow.

Lots of shovelers and coots, a few avocets and black necked stilts. Greater egrets, no herons.

Watched this Nuttal's woodpecker flit about in an old oak tree.

I was very content. I started my customary hike but didn't have the right shoes for the mud and stopped my trek short.

This red tailed looks rather forlorn, no? Probably bet on the 49'ers...

I saw quite a few mountain bluebirds. 

Never got the perfect shot but was happy to see them. 

Saw a lot of pipits too. 

The mountain bluebird has the prettiest blue in the sky, short of a macaw anyway.

The highlight of my day, visually and photographically speaking, was spotting this great horned owl taking a nap.

I was sorry to disturb his slumber. 

What a beauty!

I drove to my shop and met my restorer and his wife who had just finished conserving a painting for me. He did a great job as usual. Afterwards I met Leslie at Renee's to watch the end of the game. Renee made prime New York strips, Snoop Dog's mac and cheese and an arugula salad. Leslie roasted her golden cauliflower. Renee made a strawberry cake for dessert.

Epic meal and game. Quite competitive, both teams should be proud. What an ending!

A very good day!

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Wild Billy's Circus Story

Fallbrook Eats

Leslie made a korma, coconut cashew curry tonight with duck. It was delicious. She made it over basmati and we added the last loin lamb chops from the other night. I bought the large ten pack at Costco the other day, stretched through three meals.

She had wanted to make a red curry but must have thrown out the paste. Next time. 

I made lamb chops the other night, as I said, with rosemary garlic potatoes. But I went all out on the potatoes, combining Frank Proto and Kenji Lopez Alt's methodology.

First I par boiled the small organic yellows, cut in half in a water bath that I had added baking soda too, along with the salt. This raises the ph and makes the centers fluffier. I let them cool, then fried them cut side down in a cast iron pan with peanut oil.

I then removed them to a baking sheet and, after spraying them with duck fat, gave them another half hour in the oven. Flipped them at 15. With two minutes to go I added the garlic and rosemary and parsley so as not to burn.

Was all the time invested in making thrice cooked potatoes worth it?

I think so.

And for those of you who want to comment on the lack of green on the plate, we had a separate organic butter leaf salad.

The meals are for my stomach, not for show.

I came home yesterday and started to cook and realized that all the plastic cutting boards were gone.

I asked Leslie and she said that she had thrown them away.

We are going to stick with bamboo and wood.

There is a serious micro plastic problem in our world and in our bodies and we don't need to contribute any more particles to our food.

I am down with this.

We also use a lot of parchment paper in our home. I was watching Chef Jean Pierre and he will not allow aluminum foil to touch his food. Probably wise. Wrapping the parchment paper with foil is fine.

Renee's kids have been finding mass quantities of chanterelles by their house in Marin after the recent rains as well as other mushrooms.

They look so good, won't send us any. 😠


I had lunch with her the other day at Rosas.

She went with her favorite, camerones de mojo de ajo.

I stuck with my favorite, chicken soup.

Afterwards we drove out to DeLuz to check out the river crossing.

Sandia Creek had obviously been over the bridge.

Rainbow Creek and the Santa Margarita have been really high by me as well.

Back on food. I had a really nice red chicken curry at Thai Thai the other day.

People like to bitch about the new ownership and while it is a bit inconsistent, my experience has been pretty good there.

Must be lucky.

I went to the Firehouse for lunch today. I hardly ever go there.

Now I remember why.

I had an expensive rib sandwich that was fatty and pretty tasteless. Mac and cheese was good but over twenty one bucks with a root beer. 

No specials on the board anymore.

Will be a while before I go back.

I do like the new specials at Trupianos. On the suggestion of my server I had the penne arrabiata with breaded chicken on top. Really good. Talk about consistency, I always leave Trupiano's happy and pleased.

Renee told me that there is a new avocado variety in Fallbrook that is taking foodies by storm, courtesy of Jerri P. I need to look into it. Supposedly better than fuertes and reeds, my favorites.

Grocery Outlet is selling a really good Mexican ice cream for about fifty cents. I bought two yesterday, guy in front of me bought six, woman behind me bought two. Won't last long. I bought chocolate, coffee with chocolate. Leslie went back for a churro and another chocolate coffee today. Maybe something else too.

Get them while you can. 99 cents and get one free. Such a deal.



Late classic wearing blanket with border - Ex Blue Heron Gallery

Late classic Moki blanket
- Hilbert Museum Collection

The Navajos have long been known for their beautiful weaving. In the early part of the 19th century they wove blankets with homespun wool and native dyes. 

The Navajos learned to weave from the Hopi and Pueblo Indians. Curiously the Pueblo weavers were men, the Navajo weavers were usually female.

In 1863 the Navajo tribe was forced on what is known as “The long march” to a remote encampment at Ft. Sumner, New Mexico called Bosque Redondo where they were interned by the United States government until 1868. This was situated over 350 miles from their native home and lands.

It was at Bosque Redondo where, some say in order to placate them and keep them busy, the government issued them a new and exciting commercial wool from a suburb of Philadelphia called Germantown.

Germantown eyedazzler
Hilbert Museum Collection

This new aniline dyed wool, originally a three ply but then quickly becoming a four ply, allowed them to create a brilliant new type of weaving called an eyedazzler. 

These new weavings were very time intensive to weave and much denser, almost four times the knots per inch compared to the older wool. 

The colors were startling, the repetitive patterns kinetic and bordering on what we would now describe as "Op Art."

They were typically created with a cotton warp, making them a bit more fragile than blankets created with a wool warp. 

Germantown runner
 from Hubbell Trading Post
ex. Blue Heron Gallery

Fringe was added sometimes but only after the weaving was finished, not a part of the general field.

The advent of the railroad and the trading post, as well as the popularity of shows like Wild Bill Hickock’s Exposition at Niagara Falls piqued interest in our native Americans. 

This greatly increased the desire of Americans to buy native goods of all kinds including blankets.

Most germantown blankets date from 1870 to 1900 although there was a minor revival from 1910 to 1915. 

While they were no longer woven, their design complexity and color continued to influence Navajo weavings in what is known as the transitional era.

Transitional banded blanket
Hilbert Museum Collection
The transitional period began in 1895 and the homespun wool blankets started to be influenced by the Germantown designs and colors. 

These are now called transitional blankets. It is important to note that blankets of all kinds largely gave way to heavier rugs at this point in the timeline. 

Until this time they were worn, covered doorways and beds but had not been on the floor.

Germantown eyedazzlers occupy a special historical apex in Navajo weaving that will never be eclipsed or matched again on a design level.

The newly expanded Hilbert Museum, a part of Chapman College located in Orange, CA is opening a new show, Eyedazzlers: Marvels of Navajo weaving from the Hilbert Collection

The exhibition runs from February 23 to September 7, 2024. Reservations highly suggested.

I am happy to say that I have sold several beautiful blankets that are in this collection. I look forward to seeing this marvelous new show. I got a sneak peak at the new addition a few weeks ago and it is really something.

The Hilberts have created a wonderful Museum of California Art and if you have not visited yet, you need to. It is truly something.

Thursday, February 8, 2024


The Wind Cries Mary

Cooper's Hawk


I saw this beautiful Cooper's hawk drying its wings in the setting sun on my way home last night. Gavilan Mountain is in the distance.

Crime and Immigration

Having ranted about the cop beating immigrants in New York I decided to look into the true relationship between immigration and crime. The results I find are surprising.

See Stanford's The mythical tie between immigration and crime.

The study reveals that first-generation immigrants have not been more likely to be imprisoned than people born in the United States since 1880.

Today, immigrants are 30 percent less likely to be incarcerated than are U.S.-born individuals who are white, the study finds. And when the analysis is expanded to include Black Americans — whose prison rates are higher than the general population — the likelihood of an immigrant being incarcerated is 60 percent lower than of people born in the United States. 

They did find higher incarceration rates for Mexican and Latin American immigrants but tie the discrepancy to immigration related offenses. I wonder?

I decided to look for other studies and found much the same results.

The Myth of Immigrant Criminality - Immigration Policy Center

Undocumented Immigrants Are Half as Likely to Be Arrested for Violent Crimes as U.S.-Born Citizens - Scientific American

Does immigration really cause crime? - McGill University

I found several other concurring studies. The only outlier, as you might expect from a highly partisan think tank, is from the Heritage Foundation.

Increased Illegal Immigration Brings Increased Crime: Almost 2/3 of Federal Arrests Involve Noncitizens

Heritage appears to conflate what we consider "normal" crime with the illegal act of crossing the border, somewhat skewing the results. Cato, no left wing megaphone, also shows lower crime numbers for immigrants than the native born.


I have mixed feelings about all of these studies, which average crime across these wide demographics. Because I know there are operational cartels of Latin Americans, they have uncovered them in home break in rings locally and in the business world I operate in. It is obvious that they are at work in New York City as well. The MS- 13 gang, which is comprised of members from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, is responsible for a wide array of violent crime, from Los Angeles to New York.

While a majority of crime might be home grown, I do believe that there is significant criminality extant by illegal immigrants, many from Latin America and to deny it is to bury your head in the sand.

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Don't come back


Every American should be revulsed by the images of the Venezuelan thugs beating on cops in New York.

I am disgusted that these vermin were released without bail. I am offended by their behavior.

These punks need to be apprehended, jailed and then sent back to wherever they are from and never allowed to dirty our shores again.

I have long been an advocate for a strong border. While I understand that some migrants are fleeing violence and persecution, unfortunately we do not have the resources to fix the entire world's problems. 

This is not a partisan issue. My father was an immigrant. But he didn't sneak in or go on welfare. He played by the rules.

But it looks like we're getting the worst of the worst. Ungrateful scum, undeserving of what we have to offer.

These South American and Russian cartels have been spreading havoc and engaging in serious crime for at least thirty years. Salvadoreans, Chileans, Ecuadorians.

The Post reported this week that nearly 100 migrants also have popped up on the NYPD’s radar as suspected pickpockets. One team of accused sticky-fingered asylum seekers was busted over the weekend for allegedly targeting Greenwich Village bars.

I was at many shows where Colombians were targeting jewelry dealers. I know people that have been assaulted, held up, followed home and beaten at gunpoint. Read about these Times Square shitheads. Men and women, thieves, pickpockets, criminals.

One of the men, Reveron, has two open cases in Manhattan for assault and robbery.

In November, he allegedly “pushed, punched and bit” a Nordstrom Rack employee who caught him lifting a $130 item from the Union Square store’s display rack, according to law enforcement sources.

Last month, Reveron also allegedly “punched with a closed fist” a loss prevention officer at the Herald Square Macy’s after trying to pull off a robbery with two other suspects, the sources said.

These a-holes have forfeited any rights they may have had and definitely worn out their welcome. Adios.


Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Long Distance Call

Bo, Muddy and Wolf

Ever forward

I worked for a few hours in the shop yesterday but stayed isolated from people. Jennifer was kind enough to drop a few test kits through my door as Leslie also tested positive. I feel better and thought I might be clear yesterday but unfortunately I was not.

So I went home and baked a peach cobbler before my overflow peaches went bad. 

It was the responsible thing to do.

Also quite delicious. I am getting a hold of this cooking stuff. 

Leslie said that it reminded her of Reneé's Clofoutti. I cut the called for amount of white sugar and added some dark cane molasses sugar.

Baking is fun. I am glad I didn't discover it any earlier...


Today I tested again.

All clear!

Although I still have respiratory issues I am glad to be on the other side of this covid business. 

Let's hope Leslie joins me very soon.

I am way behind on my new course for the university and will try to make significant progress.

Saturday, February 3, 2024

El Carretero

Health Alert

I felt poorly this week but tested for Covid the day before yesterday, all clear. Slight fever but just a cold and scratchy throat. I felt pretty good yesterday actually. However I didn't feel that good this morning. I came home to cook dinner tonight and noticed that I could not smell the garlic and the lemon so I tested again.


My first positive response ever.  I don't really feel that bad physically, thankfully. But hopefully did not give it to anybody else. Not sure when I caught the bug. Maybe Vegas? Thankfully, even though I had no inkling and tested negative, I pretty much stayed home all week in bed until yesterday and limited my exposure.

To any of you that were in close proximity to me at the opening last night, or today, you better test. If you know people that were there that might have health concerns or are immunocompromised please alert them. So sorry,

Robert Sommers

I guess the guy who wouldn't ever get Covid did. Damn. Paxlovid, anybody?

Dutiful husband

Leslie went to see music last night and got to bed late so I let her sleep. 

Before I left for work I whipped up a batch of my patented peach, walnut, ginger scones so they would hopefully be warm when she woke up. 

As I like to brag, these are my own invention, so packed with delectable they're more like a fruitcake than a scone, but the kind that people actually eat rather than just pass around on holidays.

I use really big chunks of walnut and ginger. I found Chilean peaches at Northgate. 

Not perfect. The yellow were not that sweet but the white ones were better. What are you going to do in February?

I don't really look at recipes anymore. Maybe I should?

When I wrote this down for you before I added a half teaspoon of baking soda, I don't do that anymore. 

I like the two teaspoon baking powder method better. 

Less cakey.

But I screwed up and added a whole cup of half and half instead of a half.

This is a very wet dough anyway and this made it even more so. 

So I added another scoop of flour, mixed it all in with my hand and everything was copacetic.

I used a little cream left in the small mixing bowl and made a slight wash with a couple minutes to go and not finding any turbinado sugar, added some dark cane sugar for a topping. It worked well.

Actually one of my best batches yet. I make quite a few types of scones but this is our favorite by far. I thought about substituting hazelnuts for walnuts but just couldn't pull the trigger.

Why mess with something that is working?

Time to nest


A harbinger of Spring has arrived. The red tailed hawk mother was in her nest for the first time this morning. Of course I was sick a large part of the week but I did not see her yesterday and think this is the initial visit for the long brood.

I love this of course because it means we will have new baby hawks to enjoy in a few months!

Life follows Art


I put a monochromatic version of this shot in the show that opened last night, one of my favorites. An inebriated man walking with two chickens on a string. It is from a sequence I took seven years ago which you can find here

Although he was fairly wasted there is a beautiful humanity that shines through in his face in this photograph.

As luck would have it, the bracero was walking right down the street today. I cornered him and tried to explain to him that his picture was hanging on the wall at the Art Center but he could not quite understand my rudimentary Spanish, he being a Guatemalteco and a nearby hispanic woman kindly translated for me.

I walked him into the room when it opened and got a shot of him in front of his picture. 

I believe that it made him happy, certainly surprised. He thanked me. 

Cool concurrence.

Friday, February 2, 2024

I Can't Stand The Rain

Visual Narrative


The opening of the photo show was interesting. There was some excellent work there, by a variety of artists. It was a well attended opening, I saw a lot of friends I had not seen in a great long time. It was fun to mingle and meet other photographers and talk about our work.

Having just participated in a group show, I had not planned on entering this show. But I was asked and I pulled it together at short notice. I never want to show the exact same things twice so I framed and matted a bunch of new work, at some expense. 

Unfortunately, unbeknownst to me, they decided not to hang my new material. I get it, the show was oversold. A lot of great photographers probably have stuff leaning in the hallway. My submissions may have just failed to make the grade.

They say that they will put new things up as pieces sell. This is more of a sale than an exhibition, I prefer a traditional museum format where people get to enjoy the work for the tenure of the show and it doesn't just disappear. But this is their show and paradigm and god bless them, they get to run it as best as they see fit.

The only reason I am even mentioning this is if you are one of my bird photography aficionados and were expecting to see some of my new work, please save your gas, especially if you attended the last show, I don't want you to be disappointed.


I've been sick all week with a cold, this is my first day out of bed. Not 100% but functional. Have barely enough energy to grab some low hanging fruit.


I will miss actor and one time Aztec Carl Weathers. The Mandalorian will never be the same. He got better at his craft as he got older and left a fine legacy.

Speaking of the Mandalorian, we may be dropping Disney + now that Andor has been pushed back another year and the Mandalorian going to the big screen. It is endless commercials and the offerings are getting worse and worse.


There are a million conspiracy theories out there swimming in the nutter soup. Taylor Swift, Pizza Gate, Flat Earthers, the list is a mile long. Perhaps the most intriguing is the notion that Donald Trump is a time traveler. Or should I say, his son Barron is.

And that it was all forecast in a series of books written in the 19th century.

In 1889  a book titled "Travels and Adventures of Little Baron Trump and His Wonderful Dog Bulger," was written by Ingersoll Lockwood. 

The main character in these children's novels is a German boy named Wilhelm Heinrich Sebastian Von Troomp, who goes by the name Baron Trump.

Young Baron is a time traveler, guided by a pompous man who lives on Fifth Avenue in New York named Don who has a little side action with Russia..

But it was The Last President, Ingersoll’s 1896 novel, that really lit a fire under the conspiracy theorists. Originally described as a political satire, it focuses on violent protests by Americans following a corrupt election process that delivers a socialist president to the White House.

It’s unsurprising that MAGA-supporting, election-denying conspiracy theorists have jumped on this. The notion that Donald Trump is a time traveller from the late 19th century would certainly help explain his antediluvian behaviour, his views on everything from women to windmills, and the fact that he can’t use a computer, text or email.

In 1893, Lockwood published a sequel called "Baron Trump's Marvellous Underground Journey."

While time travel remains a hypothetical concept in our reality, the uncanny similarities between Barron Trump and the character Baron Trump from Ingersoll Lockwood's books are mind-boggling. In the novels, Baron is described as a young aristocrat bored with his opulent life in Castle Trump. He decides to go on an adventure and is guided by a man named Don, a wealthy New Yorker who lives on Fifth Avenue, who leads him to a time-traveling portal in Russia. Yes, you read that right.

Good for you, Barron. If you have to do a bit of interdimensional traveling to escape the stench of certain other members of your family, well all power to you. I must say that even at your height, you have done a remarkably good job at staying above the fray to this point.

Sort of reminds me of Vonnegut's book Siren's of Titan.


From Will Chandler - The Ogre gorging on America.


Kip sent this lovely image from a relative in London.

Photo show opens tonight at the Art Center. Not sure how it will play out, rather ambivalent about my work.

Bruce Taylor sent a picture from Alabama.

Miss you, man.


I haven't had my camera out in a month, about to stick it in the car. Lots of hawks around the place, rainbows, better get back to it before I forget how...

Sorry, cell phone don't cut it.


I picked up the back ordered airfryer attachment for the new range on the way back from Las Vegas.

I tried it out with drumsticks, double dipped in a yolk cream and a seasoned flour mix. 

I sprayed duckfat on the chicken between the coats but it didn't really stick right. 

It's going to take a couple tries to get it right, I think.

The convection baked thighs at right were far better.