Jelly, jelly so fine

Friday, June 30, 2017

What is in the water?

The surreal lunacy of our nation these days is just so amazing. Do you ever wonder if this is an actual government or are we living in a Truman Show type of reality television episode? I'm waiting for a klieg light to drop out of the sky.

I wake up every day wondering what idiotic thing will be next? Today we find out that the National Enquirer has been running interference for the President in a little extortion scheme taregtting the morning television couple, Mika and Joe.

In a wonderful illustration of Zeno's Law in action, Scott Pruitt at EPA wants a new debate that will give the 3 percent of scientists that deny global warming an equal footing with the 97% that have already performed peer review.

And Rick Perry thinks that wearing smart guy glasses now gives him the intellectual gravitas and superpowers to tackle the same heady subject.

The state of New York has passed a bill that states that someone cannot ask or allow a child under 16 to beg for money or receive payment for "picking rags, or collecting cigar stumps, or collecting bones."

As I have stated before, if you don't drink, now would be a real good time to start.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the daughter of a christian minister, may have never heard about the concept of turning the other cheek. She thinks the President has a right to smite back at his enemies, but even ten times stronger.

As you can see, I am quickly grabbing at low hanging fruit. It is so easy these days. And the clear winner of the first Blue Heron Blast Charles Darwin Award has to be the young Minnesota couple that thought that they would gain fame and stardom by concocting a Youtube experiment where a mere hardback book placed over a man's chest would stop a 50 caliber slug.


The pistol that they used, the desert eagle, is said to be so powerful that it can punch a hole in an engine block.

Sadly the shooter is pregnant with the couple's second child. They have already reproduced. Her boyfriend, Pedro Ruiz is dead. The dumbdown continues.

Arthur Lee and Love

Goodbye June.

It's quite tough living the retired life when one still has to pay a bunch of bills every month or face drowning. Today is reckoning day. I don't do it by computer, I handwrite every check, at times a very painful proposition. Can't help but think that I will be hustling until I am dead.

Tough as things can be, for most of us anyway, I don't think I would have changed much. Never had all that much money but was able to live my life mostly on my own terms. I was thinking the other day of the poor bastard who finally buys the red Porsche at 75, when he is too damn old to enjoy it.

Never wanted to be that guy. Tore a big chunk out of life whenever I got the chance. You wait to retire to live your life you just might get a really boring life. Don't do it. First thing you know it's the last thing you know. Security is highly overrated. Rather face continual poverty than spend a life putting a nut on a bolt and waiting for the mythical golden pot at the end of the rainbow.


I have this new lens and I had a little time yesterday to continue to put the nikkor 400mm 2.8e fl through its paces. Taking care of all the business I could see on the horizon in the morning, I drove up to the San Jacinto Wildlife Area in the afternoon. Lot of smog and haze across the southland. Still nice to be out in my element, in fact only me and a thousand birds and 20 thousand wild acres of peace. Didn't see another soul who wasn't on a tractor and I was down with that.

Decided to shoot the lens with my Nikon d810. No teleconverter, no tricks. Made some shots, missed some shots. Still need to dial in the focus better. Although since at times it worked perfectly the most likely culprit is probably operator error. As usual.

I have to keep reminding myself that there is little water in the ponds in the summer, hence few birds. But there were some avian friends out there. Love the white faced ibis, they were clowning around in the marsh yesterday.

Your caption here

Drove out to the Walker Ponds and saw a whole bunch of kestrels flying around. Seems like the place they like to hang. With this lens you can even occasionally get them flying and that ain't easy, it is a fast little falcon.

I'm shooting at ƒ3.5 1250th of a second, iso 64. 400mm here. Handheld mind you. Thank you, most exalted spaghetti monster, for vibration reduction. I love kestrels, so pretty. Here I managed to get one to stop and pose.

Won't bore you or draw this out. Saw a lot of egrets, some ducks. A beautiful meadowlark on a branch with a kingbird.

Flubbed quite a few meadowlark shots. Tough to shoot at 2.8 or even 3.5 when you have a pair of anything or a large object front to back. Note to self. Stopped this down to ƒ9 and it worked.

Photographers like to use rarefied terms like focus acquisition. This combo has it in spades. This lens works with the D810 like Lucy and Ricky, fastest autofocus I have yet encountered.

My friend Kerry likes to tell me that I will never be a real photographer until I start selling my work. Not that I haven't but it has never been a primary motivation.

I share a hell of a lot of work and that makes me happy too.

My fantasy would be to have enough money to spend a big chunk of a year in the Yellowstone and Tetons and get that great bison in the snowy river with the steam shot.

Publish my book and get ridiculously famous. Just give me a shot, lord.

I drove home and saw a kestrel sitting on a branch on my own road, sort of an oddity.

Not an earth shattering day, sorry, no money shot Kerry. Got a little better acquainted with my gear. Nothing gained without mileage.

Got home and the acorn woodpecker was pecking away at his power pole. Why not? It's a job.

Buzz isn't doing so well. I will be traveling again soon.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Go, Leave

tim buckley

The invisible stuff

I was reading about fire ants the other day. Fascinating. They form living rafts in treacherous high waters and intermittently switch places with each other so that they don't drown. The survival of the queen and future colony is paramount to the ant. The individual will often sublimate and sacrifice their life for the whole.

These huge colonies travel on the water after floods and tropical storms. They are an engineering marvel.
Kelly Loftin, an entomologist and professor at the University of Arkansas, told the Washington Post the raft building exercise is a communal one designed to keep the colony’s queen and young safe.
The queen is kept safe in the middle of that raft,” he added. “The workers are keeping the eggs and the small larvae safe from the water and oftentimes they’re doing that by holding them in their mouth.”
The ants trapped underwater on the bottom side of the raft collect bubbles to raise up the raft so it can float, Loftin said, but the ants constantly switch positions, so that no ant remains submerged in the water for long.
I have a continual red ant problem at my home. I was bit several times last year and the painful bite of multiple fire ant bites on my foot was akin to getting hit with a sledge hammer. Excruciating for several weeks.

We typically forego poisons or insecticides but I put an ant bait out the other day. The bait, which looks like food, was carried to the queen. The next morning the mound was strewn with a red paste of ant parts. Felt bad for my complicity in the mass murder but it was me or them in the garden.

Curious creatures. How are their complex signals transmitted by the hive mind? We know that ants can communicate by sound, by touch, by emitting pheromone smells and by swapping fluids through their mouths.  But the precise signals to keep a floating a 500,000 insect convoy aloft, with military grade instructions on position swapping, simply boggles me.

I feel kind of bad for killing the ants. And maybe they sent a signal out that I was a schmuck. At coffee yesterday my friend and neighbor Ron asked me if I had a bee problem? Said that they had become very aggressive at his place, would strike without warning.

Went home early yesterday to fix a sprinkler, wearing my zorries. Out of nowhere a long yellow wasp struck the soft flank of my right foot. Incredible pain, all night. Did everything to curtail the agony, ice, Benadryl, cortisone cream. Leslie made a baking soda, aspirin poultice and it seemed to finally do the trick this morning.  Perhaps the fire ants have a protection deal worked out with the wasps and I am currently persona non grata in my region of the insect world? Who knows? And isn't it interesting that my friend gave me the warning on the sting that very same day?

Hive communication is a curious thing. I went to Professor's Joan Maloof's lecture on her new book dealing with old growth forests and she says that the trees are a bit player in the forest ecosystem.

The real action is the fungus, the mounds, the invisible stuff, she talked about the concept of mycelial interconnectivity, everything is connected to everything else in the old growth ecosystem. Perhaps there is a botanical group mind? Look forward to reading the book, which we bought at the talk.

Which made me think back to a book I read decades ago, by the late psychonaut Terrence McKenna with his brother Dennis, under the pseudonym of Oss and Oeric. Been a couple decades but if I remember correctly, they mapped out a big invisible interconnected fungal web over in psilocybin land. Which apparently works on connecting individual parts of the human brain that were heretofore not speaking.

Doctor Rupert Sheldrake took the concept even further, postulating the presence of electrical type "morphogenetic" fields that could transfer knowledge through the ether and change dna without having to go through traditional evolutionary processes.

I was talking on these lines with a friend recently and they said that an experiment was made in which someone performed an act deemed malicious by a crow and that future generations of crows could pick the human miscreant out of a lineup. A fascinating article on crow brains and communication here.

How is information like this transferred? How do ants know when it is time to paddle and time to surf? Beats the hell out of me. People who have explored psychedelic states of consciousness will tell you that there is definitely some arcane transmission occurring. Have seen multiple examples real time personally that I won't bore you with.

The late science fiction writer Theodore Sturgeon wrote an epic and groundbreaking novel called More than Human. This book introduced the concept of the human hive mind, which he named Homo Gestalt. Wordless communication. Perhaps we could pick up a thing or two from our friends the ants?

Fire ants build Eiffel Towers out of their own bodies.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Jokers are wild


End of the innocence

100% American

This kid was walking in 120˚ weather in Borrego, in front of a rather dilapidated building.

I couldn't help notice the great dual patriotic iconography.

Hooded oriole, Borrego

This hooded oriole didn't seem to mind the intense desert heat in Borrego. We have noticed that orioles gravitate to palms, they use the sisal in nest building. The washingtonia filifera is the only native california palm. Some botanists think that the tall variant is a separate sub species and call it a robusta but I'm not so sure.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Borrego reprise

If you want to tell me that we were certifiably insane for going out to the desert when the temperatures were hovering around 119˚ you certainly won't get any arguments from us. But if you will allow us to explain perhaps it will be more understandable.

It was Stanley and Tracys' 41st anniversary and they were going out to celebrate at Casa Del Zorro in Borrego Springs on our recommendation.

They had made the reservations ages ago and we had done the same, not knowing that we would all be ensnared in a severe heat wave.

And besides, there are ample swimming pools and the air conditioning is quite good, right?

We actually had a great time. We had traveled with the pair before, to Death Valley and knew that they could take the heat. But to be honest, you would have had to dump a truck full of ice in the pool to get a refreshing jolt at these temperatures.

My Leslie can wilt on occasion but she is smart and knows how to pick her spots. We all did just fine. Just don't put your hand on the pool railing at 120˚ or allow your bare feet to touch the pavers and everything will be copacetic. My palm and feet are still a bit cooked but then I have always been a slow study.

We had a nice couple days away and I experienced a touch of kismet. For the second time in a row, I went out to the Tamarisk Grove, in extreme heat and looked for my old friends, the long eared owls. I snuck in to the closed campground and walked every tree but no luck. Two trips around the grove, just to make sure. I was even wearing my lucky owl shirt, the same one I had on when I found the long eared owl but unfortunately no dice.

I did come across an eagle feather. And a minor league epiphany. I had the thought that in photography, art and life, you get what you get. In the words of the bard, Bobby Z, nothing was delivered and maybe Mick had it right too, you get what you need. But wishing and hoping only goes so far. You what you get. And I had struck out.

So I drove back to the hotel, the temperature pinned at about 122˚ and cooled off in the room for a minute. And within a second or two I get a call, the owl was right outside my door on the Washingtonia filifera palm tree. Who knew that they delivered? The owl came to me!

And sure as shit, here was a beautiful owl, staring like a cheshire cat, not 10' above my head. Wow.

As it turns out this is not a long eared owl like I captured last time, it is a great horned owl but like, who cares? It's my novel, it's still beautiful and the cosmic timing was incredible.

Now I want you to know that this was not taken with my fancy new nikkor 400mm 2.8 fl, there was no way I was going to let that extremely expensive piece of machinery melt in the desert. I took it instead with the Sigma 150-600mm C and the Nikon D810. More than adequate for the job. Rarely use the combination, if ever, usually needing the reach of the crop sensor on the D7200 but the resolution and image quality is actually better this way.

Beautiful raptor. Might have had its eyes and talons set on a tasty looking chihuahua by the pool. I guess there are two owls living at the resort and I did a little further research and eventually discovered their specific pad location.

Haven't really had time to go through my shots but I think I will be very pleased. Owl was going through a strange panting ritual at one point ,maybe it was hot too and this allowed it to respirate? Not sure what it was. Lots of nice birds out there, saw a few hooded orioles, possibly an indigo or lazuli bunting.

We had a nice dinner with our friends at Carmelitas, Leslie's chili verde was simply the best I have ever tasted and my mole was its normal superb self.

Ate at Carlees the second night, chicken artichoke pizza. Also quite awesome.

On the way I took this shot of a kid walking in front of a dilapidated building and thought that the patriotic motif was quite synchronous.

The stuff that comes unexpectedly down the pike is unfailingly more interesting than the stuff that you plan for.

Had breakfast at Casa Del Zorro one morning, corn flake encrusted french toast which is pretty crunchy wonderful. Afterwards we checked out all the cool Nixon and Agnew material in the lobby, after all this was a Copley hotel.

I got up at 5:30 this morning and drove with the sunrise in tow over to Palm Canyon.

I hiked part way up the desolate trail hoping my owl fortune would rub off onto bighorn sheep but no luck. You get what you get. Very hot, didn't have adequate water and didn't really feel like dying out in the desert with the keys to my van in my pocket. It would have created a lot of serious problems for Leslie getting home, among other things.

And then I thought, hey, she will still be in bed for another hour, I will drive the 28 miles one way out to the Salton Sea and no one will be the wiser (turns out I slammed the door and she had been up since 5:30 too. Sorry.)

I had met an emergency room doctor from Irvine who was taking a mental health break in the desert on his 400cc scooter and he had drove the particular route the day before. It was new to me.

And he was talking and worrying about proper tire pressure in this kind of heat, fearing a blowout from the heat expanding his tires.

And driving out there in nowhere, without much water or even my phone which I had forgotten in the room, you do kind of think about mortality a little bit. I was way out in Ocotillo Wells, how many days would it take for them to find what was left of my rotting carcass? Passed through some serious badlands this morning.

Ran across an interesting monument to the artist John Hilton, who I occasionally handle. Who knew?

I hit the Salton Sea at the Western Shore, half way between Indio and El Centro. Yacht Club Rd.

Another shattered sort of a place, a real lake of a mistake. Quite tragic. Boulevard of broken dreams.
Returned eventually, mostly in one piece.

Had a last dip and came home. Even in this same heat I would do the same thing again in a heartbeat.

The desert is good for you, it gets you in touch with something deep inside. To desert to the desert offers just desserts.

Happy anniversary Trace and Stan. Let's do it again!

Friday, June 23, 2017


I'm reading an interesting book about New York City that I got from the library. It is called Bowery Boys - Adventures in Old New York and is written by Greg Young and Tom Meyers.

I believe that the book started as a podcast and kept rolling and now it is a huge compendium of little known historical facts about the city, pretty much block by block.

I should point out that neither author is a native New Yorker, come to think of it, neither am I, yet I think we have all earned the sobriquet. People constantly ask me if I am a New Yorker, maybe it's the wisecracking jewish thing, I don't know. Even though I was born in San Diego, I answer affirmatively. I spent my formative years there and it's awfully tough to get out of your skin.

Learned a lot reading the book, very comprehensive. I automatically looked for some of the landmarks of my youth and was a bit disappointing to see them missing; nothing on Dave's Luncheonette on Canal, egg creams in the wee hours after hours of smoking nepalese temple balls. Nothing on Tad's Steaks, what were they $4.95? Ditto the late Fulton St. Fish Market where I had many a bowl of sea broth with unlimited oyster crackers for three cents a serving.

If you have an interest in the city, you can get it out of the library it is certainly worth a look.

And it taught me a new word.


If you know it you know it, I confess I did not, even contextually I was way off. If you want to cheat and look it up and play wise, well that is between you and the flying spaghetti monster.

What does it mean? Two things. It is a word for an old fashioned suitcase or chiffonier separated into two equal compartments and also a literary term for a word that is conjoined from two other words. Actually coined by Lewis Carroll who came up with a few portmanteaus of his own, like frumius and mimsy.

Here's Merriam Webster's take on the subject:

Definition of portmanteau
plural portmanteaus or portmanteauxplay \-(ˌ)tōz\
:  a large suitcase
:  a word or morpheme whose form and meaning are derived from a blending of two or more distinct forms (such as smog from smoke and fog)

It is a very good word but a kind of expensive word. Not the kind of thing one throws around in casual daily conversation too easily, a word that can make the user quickly sound like an erudite a-hole. I bet dollars to doughnuts Charles Bukowski never had the word stumble off his sodden tongue.

Now if your parents mortgaged the Connecticut house to send you to Brown or Vassar and you came out of the deal with a degree in literature and zero prospects for anything else, with the exception of that first novel which you never quite finished, the one the literary agent thought was crap and you now find yourself teaching high school somewhere near Dubuque wearing a corduroy jacket with leather elbow patches, commiserating with other poor souls in similar jackets and straits, well you can have at it with the word. You earned it.

But a guy like me, playing around with a word like portmanteau is like playing with fire. Way too heady, the distance between sounding bright and distinguished and sounding like a pompous douchebag far too narrow.

As I get older I crave the simple things in life. Like a perfect egg salad sandwich. Do you know how hard they are to find around these parts? Good egg salad and good chicken salad, not poisoned by foul onionry, are scarce as hen's teeth in Fallbrook. I try to explain to some restaurant owners but they just don't get it; for many of us, any raw onion is too much.

But I am lucky. I know restauranteurs that like and even love me. So I went into Main Street Cafe today and asked Chris, the owner, to make me one. He doesn't cook anymore but he does for me. I love the greek. He has been cooking for me for over thirty years and I occasionally I go off menu.

Only honest diner in town. 

I got it on wheat bread, with the perfect mustard ratio. Egg warm, bread fresh, as I said, a beautiful thing. Lately I have been getting the patty melts, hold the onions and the barbecued chicken salad, hold the barbecue sauce. With ranch dressing it is just an epic hot weather salad. You can get the chicken grilled or fried. Very refreshing.

All the servers at Main St. are sweet. Place is just aces. Not fancy but an honest meal at a place where real Fallbrookians go to eat. Try it for yourself. And throw the cook a few bucks on your way out. Believe me it pays off, you will get more than your money's worth the next time you order a rib eye steak sandwich off menu. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Lemon Pipers - Through With You



Penitent puppets review past lives giddily misspent in wanton perfidy.
I could launch into a spirited soliloquy regarding one outrage or affront after another today.

Quite easily.

But I don't feel like being that guy. You voted for him America, you deserve what you get. Enjoy.

Why get my blood pressure up?

Although the optics of cops dragging disabled people bloody out of the Capital might be a little hard to scrub.

My favorite this week was them letting you know that the health of children will be majorly impacted by the new environmental cuts and delays but don't worry, they won't last forever (the kids or the cuts?)

This may be the most cynical if not the sickest thing I have ever seen from my government.

EPA acknowledges delaying methane rule might make more children sick, but will help industry.
Environmental groups immediately attacked the proposed delay. The Environmental Defense Fund pointed to the fact that the EPA’s announcement acknowledges that the delay may make children sick, “but argues that more illness for only two years is acceptable.”EDF highlighted a section of the agency’s proposed rule that states: “EPA believes that the environmental health or safety risk addressed by this action may have a disproportionate effect on children… However, because this action merely proposes to delay the 2016 Rule, this action will not change any impacts of the 2016 Rule after the stay. Any impacts on children’s health caused by the delay in the rule will be limited, because the length of the proposed stay is limited.”
Limited, right. How much exposure is okay, how many sick kids, what if it was your sick kid, Pruitt? Sick people, contemptible swine. I have a problem with people who hurt children, the elderly, those that can not fend for theirselves. So that their cronies can have a big fat payday. In fact I hate such people. Hate.

Got some correspondence to take care of, I have been slacking. A few loose ends.

Jonathan Hill sent this cool video over. The wood swimmer. And a new Chuck Berry record over. Howard Levy.

Hudgins sent this gif over, evolution of the desk.

Missed the indigo bunting down at Famosa Slough a week or so ago. Need to explore Tijuana River and San Diego more.

Shawn sends a theory of the collapse of civilization, back in 1177 b.c. that is.

Kip brings music from Sir Paul.

A spirited defense of progressive rock.

Love the site Atlas Obscura. Found it through a recipe for Professor Robert Baker's famous barbecued chicken actually.

Too stupid to govern? Mike sends over this Trump screed from Foreign Policy. And Adam West was evidently trying to break Wilt's other record.

Ever seem like the President's fawning followers are saluting the infallible and most brilliant god king, like toadies for a North Korean despot? Trump and the new cult of personality.

Moron - Jay Lynch

Two great underground artists died recently, Skip Williamson and Jay Lynch. I met Jay a couple times, don't think I ever met Skip but loved them both.

Kim Deitch

Liz turned me on to the undergrounds at their inception and I amassed quite a collection in my sordid youth. Loved to read about Sammy Smoot and co., Philbert DeSanex, all the rest of the gang.
Here's a link to an interview with one of their peers, a comics great who is still with us, Denis Kitchen. Amazing guy, met him at the early cons, like I did most of these artists.

Denis Kitchen.

And many are now dearly departed, guys I hold in such reverence, like Dave Sheridan. These were fantastic people and artists. Mother's Oats Comix was so damn big. Very psychedelic.

Dizzy Ratstein - Bob Armstrong
Spain, Griff, Kelley, Bode, Irons, Joel Beck, Jaxon, so many greats now departed. S. Clay Wilson in bad shape. Victor and Williams still hanging in.

Time marches forward.

© Robert Sommers 
Glad I was there to witness what I could.

Sheriden and Schrier