Blue Heron in flight

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

On the road with the Blue Heron Gallery

Pasadena this weekend. More info here. Please come join me. Friday through Sunday. Convention Center.

Autumn Leaves


My late father, Amos Sommers, would have been ninety one years old today.  I hold his dear memory close to my heart. He was a solid rock of a man, not only brilliant but incredibly successful. An imperfect man, he tried as hard as he could, in his own way, to care for his family, whom he took pride in and loved deeply.

If he had not put his faith in a cheating conniver there is no telling how things would have ultimately worked out. One of his main failings but his heart was in the right place. He saved my ass on multiple occasions. I contrast my own accomplishments at sixty with those of my father with a genuine sense of shame. But we all must walk our own path.

Losing my brother Buzz has made this the most difficult year in memory. Buzz was in some ways the closest person on earth to me, with the only exception possible being my wife Leslie. I had a wonderful happy dream of him the night before last. I miss him so much. We talked practically every day without fail. Such a hole in my life, his beautiful voice will never again grace my ears.

He was equally close if not closer to my father. They were golfing buddies and had an ease between themselves that my father and I unfortunate missed. Until near the end when his illness softened both of our sharp edges. I am so glad Dad didn't have to go through his son's passing. It would have devastated if not killed him much like the searing pain when we lost Amie.

Please honor the Sommers family with a silent prayer of your choosing if that is something that is in your heart. Feel free to join me in a tear in our lost member's memory. I promise to do the same for you one day.

Leslie, Buzz, Amos, Zach, Rachel, Julia, Robert - Missing are Shela and Jacob, Laurie, Sarah, Barbara, Amie and Lisa 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Old Tree

Pretty Boy Floyd

Wolves to the henhouse

With Mulvaney detailed to the CFPB working alongside Secretary Betsy DeVos, who is trashing the Department of Education, and Scott Pruitt, who is ravaging the EPA, President Trump has temporarily succeeded in putting the Joker, the Riddler and the Penguin in charge of Gotham City.
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D- MD)

The Donald's naming a guy to lead the CFBP who is on record opposing its very existence is about right, or should I say, par for the course for this administration.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is the only entity that has kept the wolves out of the financial henhouse but I am afraid its days are now numbered.

God forbid that there should be an independent agency that looks out for consumers. And frankly this administration could not care less for the rights of consumers.

Let's look at the agency's record. A $700-million settlement with Citibank. The CFPB found that the big bank had bilked up to 8.8 million customers through "deceptive marketing, billing, and administration of debt protection and credit monitoring add-on products" and through "deceptively charged" payment fees.

"We don't want a lapdog for predatory lenders. We want a watchdog for American families. That's what we're fighting for." Sen. Jeff Merkley

The agency has not only targeted mortgage abuses, the kind that brought the whole economy down in 2008, but also rotten credit card issuers, credit reporting agencies (the source, according to CFPB director Richard Cordray, of 11% of all complaints to his agency) and for-profit colleges.

And they slapped a very deserving Wells Fargo, hard. In the wake of the fake account and involuntary insurance scandals, CFPB ordered the bank to pay a $185 million fine and doled out $5 million in customer refunds.

All in all they have clawed back about $11.9 billion dollars to the American consumer. Republicans complain that they should of got more. Like they really care. They would prefer to rely on sweetheart arbitrators that will keep bank abuse under the rug. Not like you can expect much when your own Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin was a prime miscreant who relied on robo signors to screw mortgagees when he ran his nasty bank.

I think of Wells Fargo and my mind keeps going racing back to the story of poor Larry Delassus. See Blue Heron Blast - Jurist Nonprudence. Crooked bank, arm in arm with a crooked court system. Leaves a guy dead on the courthouse steps.

The CFPB has been vigorous in rooting out shoddy lending. It alleges that Think Finance, a financial technology company, tricked customers into paying debts they did not legally owe. The CFPB filed a lawsuit on November 15 alleging Think Finance made deceptive demands and illegally took money from consumers' bank accounts.

There are lots of companies that have committed acts similar to what  Think has allegedly committed. But Mick Mulvaney is putting a freeze on all the action and will try to put the agency to sleep before it breaks any more eggs and people see what is really going on.

I fully expect Trump to prevail in this dueling directors saga, especially since the Judge overseeing the kerfuffle is a recent appointee. Justice in our world is a commodity dispensed by crooked judges and politicians. Wonder why Judge Laura Ellison started going by another name? But I think the real craw that sticks to the GOP like a burr in the saddle is the complaint database.

The agency maintains a public database of complaints against financial companies. And it is public and accessible. It currently lists over 900.000 grievances. And Trump and the bankers don't want you to see them. They plan on hiding it, if not doing away with it. The CFPB sees it differently.
Banks and other financial institutions have expressed concern that it allows consumers to report complaints anonymously, and that the CFPB doesn't not fully vet the complaints for accuracy.
“We have long objected to the public disclosure of unverified consumer complaints and repeatedly called on the Bureau to make improvements,” says John Mechem, vice president of public affairs for the Mortgage Bankers Association.
Ruth Susswein, deputy director of national priorities for Consumer Action, an advocacy group based Washington, D.C., defended the way the database works.
"A company has every right to come back and say, ‘that's not what happened’," she says. Susswein noted that in many cases, consumers resort to complaining to the CFPB when they've exhausted their efforts working directly with companies. "This may be their last, best hope for resolution,” she says. “It's an effective and unique, first-class complaint system.”
The Trump administration, the bankers and Republicans in general have short memories about such matters. Dodd Frank, Glass Steagall, all the post recession regulations that were implemented so that we don't repeat these past mistakes and bank bail outs, yet they are so quickly forgotten.

Trump says that the CFPB has been hamstringing financial institutions while in reality they have never raked in such record profits, over 157 billion last year alone. Over 11 trillion dollars in assets.

But god forbid the President ever let the truth get in the way.  Pigs must get fatter.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Like A Rolling Stone - 1966

Tired Meme

Janos Molnar - The thirty pieces of silver, 1909

The San Diego Union Tribune has a sports writer who has been around seemingly forever named Nick Canepa. Nick is a good writer, brash, candid, sort of a machine gun Jim Healy style. I like his work. Been writing here in his hometown since 1971.

One thing that bugs me about Nick is that he constantly refers to the now departed Chargers as Judases. On a regular basis, try every day. For your information, Judas Iscariot is the disciple that sold out the Christian savior for thirty pieces of silver, in case you didn't know, and he has been the cause of a lot of anti semitism and problems for the tribe ever since.

And he is apparently a favorite metaphor for Canepa, who must have really fixated on the guy in Catholic school, I don't know. But it didn't start with the Chargers:

Downtown Phoenix. What downtown? Judas has been dead longer and is more vibrant than this place. UT 2/4/2008

So Lance The Cyclist goes into Oprah to confess and hope for penance. I wouldn’t watch her show if her special guest was Judas Iscariot, but for some stupid reason Lance The Imbiber admitted he was juicing, and he lied about it for about half his life. His next revelation will involve chickens laying eggs. UT 1/19/2013

It’s become fairly obvious that, since the Judases became blinded by the Hollywood tinsel and fool’s gold and bailed in January, the combustible San Diegans who once stormed our city with torches in hand have gone mute. UT 3/26/17

LT has joined the Pontius Fredo Judas Spanos’ front office... Speaking of betrayers, those buying Judases season tickets must use them — or, if they’re sold, lose them. UT 3/4/17

I think I found over thirty similar references, not counting twitter, not trying too hard. And they make me rather ill. So I wrote Nick a letter yesterday.

Dear Nick,

As a San Diego native currently living in my sixth decade I want you to know how much I enjoy your writing. Even follow you on Twitter. But as a jewish man I want you to know that when you use the Judas adjective it pains me a bit. For centuries or millennia the reference has been used to castigate jews as unfaithful and being responsible for killing the christian savior.

You are free to write what you want of course but I think that you are smart enough to come up with another aphorism that is less emotionally charged and offensive to some and free from religious baggage.


Robert Sommers

and got this reply:

Not changing it. Some like it, some don't.



I started thinking to myself ,"I wonder what ex Charger Ron Mix would say about the subject or even the first Charger coach Sid Gillman, an old friend of my fathers? They were both jewish."

I wrote him back:

Appreciate your sensitivity.

Got this back:

I can't see insensitivity in it. Judas was a betrayer. It has nothing to do with castigating a religion, which, by the way, I admire very much. 

Fair enough. I wrote Nick back a quote from an interesting article in the New Yorker on the subject:

"The most important fact about Judas, apart from his betrayal of Jesus, is his connection with anti-Semitism. Almost since the death of Christ, Judas has been held up by Christians as a symbol of the Jews: their supposed deviousness, their lust for money, and other racial vices."

And that is where it ended. Am I being oversensitive? I don't think so. The invocation of Judas to vilify jews as deceivers and betrayers dates back to the first century and heavily influenced the nazis. Another good article on the subject here.

The majority religion and its adherents don't always get it. I have recounted this story before; being at YMCA camp in Cloudcroft with my brother around 1966, nine years old. In a scene right out of Lord of the Flies being surrounded at the campfire by about a hundred kids screaming at us that we had killed Jesus. I was a bit shocked, I had never killed anything but a tadpole or two. I will never forget the particular feeling I experienced that day of being on the outside and I don't think I ever will.

Nick ain't changing. Whatever.

Sunday, November 26, 2017


Family Finder

Family Tree DNA is, in my opinion, by far the best genetics testing outfit on the market. I have tested everything possible with them over the years including the complete Big Y sequence. Very simple cheek swab and you get results in about six weeks or so. It gave me access to the excellent website double helix and other pages where I have learned much about my distant parentage. 

I am currently the only B405* in the world. I am lonely. Get tested autosomally and come join me on the family branch.

This organization is run by scientists and professors. The autosomal or Family Finder test allows you to understand your genetic parentage and find cousins, from a distance range of one to five degrees of relation. I now have discovered over 12,000 relatives with this service and can actually see where the chromosomes match.

FTDNA is offering an amazing deal on this test for one more day - forty nine bucks. This is about half of normal.

If you have an interest in your genetic parentage I strongly suggest that you order Family Finder now. Here is a link. $49.00. Big deal.

Different Drum

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Seattle Abstract

The world is a rich tapestry my friends.

I stand corrected.

Those that know me well know that I am a bit of a spelling and grammar nazi, not that I don't make a mistake myself now and then. Who doesn't? Happy to take my whacks. But I certainly dish it out, there is a barista in town that can hardly look at me, after being twice instructed that you spell the word does exactly so and not dose. No extra a in celebrate either after the second e.

I have stopped correcting her verbally, I just casually wipe out the offending letter or word on the chalk board when she is not looking. I am the child of an editor, the inclination is surely genetic. And I did a lot of proofing for Pinnacle Books as a kid, back in the days of long galley pages.

It is amazing how many errors I find in old books, the problem is not new by a long shot but it is certainly getting worse, especially in the new internet era where everybody is an author and no one has the time or knowledge to bother to correct anything.

I am feeling crummy, have been for the past few days. I sat a table over from my peeps this morning. My eyes traveled to this headline and without bothering to read the content I started bitching.

"Freaking editors. Nigeriens. Awful."

I was quickly corrected by Sanoguy.

"They are not talking about people from Nigeria. They are talking about people from Niger."

Oops. I had not considered that possibility. I took my verbal whipping, which my friends seem to take particular delight in, but decided to do some further checking. Ronald Reagan - Trust but verify. And he was right of course, with a minor caveat.

The people of Niger do call themselves Nigeriens although an alternate term used by the New York Times until 2011 was Nigerois. Sounds french but more a fancy bastardization than anything else. See here.

So there will be no Pinnochios or hedges here. I made a false assumption and got caught. Happens to the best of us. Obviously.

The word that explains where somebody is from is called a demonym. For more demonyms see this list. Pretty straightforward, a person from Ireland is Irish, a person from Qatar a Qatari and someone who hails from the Island of Man a Manx. Simple.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Pino Forastiere


Song For Judith

San Elijo, afternoon.


I had a nice Thanksgiving and I hope that you did as well. On Wednesday I decided to get the camera out  and see if I could get a picture or two of the groove billed ani, the super rare visitor from the south. It was not to be. Encinitas Community Park was filled with birders but our little black bird was either hiding or had flown the coop. Ron and Lena walked over and saw it the day before but it was not to be for yours truly.


I had thoughts about hitting Lindo Lake or Santee Lakes but the traffic was just murder so I went down and took a short walk around San Elijo Lagoon instead with the 400mm.

lesser scaup

Grabbed a few shots of shorebirds, sun was facing me so the light wasn't ideal. Made do.

I am not quite sure what this guy is to the left here. I will take a shot and say black bellied plover but it might also be a sandpiper.

I saw buffleheads, widgeons and scaups, egrets and hawks. My eponymous bird of course.

Almost nailed a shot of a cormorant enjoying an early supper but my exposure settings were a might slow. Oh well.

Thrashing around with the big fish, the bird just would not slow down for me.


Next time, hopefully!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Plastic People

Horror movie

In between the WWE style tweet war between Donald Trump, LaVar Ball and whatever other target of his he is currently battling with, there was actually some news and goings on worth reading about and considering.

In shades of the evil shenanigans of big tobacco, new news that the big sugar industry successfully buried scientific research that showed a strong connection between sugar consumption and blood fat levels.
Back in 1968, the Sugar Research Foundation, a predecessor to the International Sugar Research Foundation, paid a researcher to lead a study with lab animals.
Initial results showed that a high-sugar diet increased the animals' triglyceride levels, a type of fat in the blood, through effects on the gut bacteria. In people, high triglycerides can increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. The study also found that animals fed sugar had higher levels of an enzyme associated with bladder cancer in their urine.
The study was halted before it was completed. Glantz says the researcher asked for more time to continue the study, but the Sugar Research Foundation pulled the plug on the project.
The Sugar Industry's statement on the matter is classic misdirection, lies and gobbledygook:
"The study in question ended for three reasons, none of which involved potential research findings," the association says. The statement goes on to explain that the study was over budget and delayed. "The delay overlapped with an organizational restructuring with the Sugar Research Foundation becoming a new entity, the International Sugar Research Foundation," the statement says.
The New Yorker had an excellent article a few weeks ago about Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family and their role in hooking the country on opioids. The Family that built an Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe.
Highly regarded doctors, like Russell Portenoy, then a pain specialist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, in New York, spoke out about the problem of untreated chronic pain—and the wisdom of using opioids to treat it. “There is a growing literature showing that these drugs can be used for a long time, with few side effects,” Portenoy told the Times, in 1993. Describing opioids as a “gift from nature,” he said that they needed to be destigmatized. Portenoy, who received funding from Purdue, decried the reticence among clinicians to administer such narcotics for chronic pain, claiming that it was indicative of “opiophobia,” and suggesting that concerns about addiction and abuse amounted to a “medical myth.” 
Yes they are watching you. And they see everything. No boundaries: Exfiltration of personal data by session-replay scripts 
You may know that most websites have third-party analytics scripts that record which pages you visit and the searches you make.  But lately, more and more sites use “session replay” scripts. These scripts record your keystrokes, mouse movements, and scrolling behavior, along with the entire contents of the pages you visit, and send them to third-party servers. Unlike typical analytics services that provide aggregate statistics, these scripts are intended for the recording and playback of individual browsing sessions, as if someone is looking over your shoulder.


Two Republican Senators in North Carolina have joined forces to oppose the nomination of Michael Dourson to lead the EPA's Chemical Safety office. Dourson is a scientist who appears to have long been in the pocket of the chemical companies.
The opposition from the North Carolina senators, first reported by the Wilmington, N.C., Star News, stems from a pair of major health controversies in the state surrounding water contamination at the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and the recent discovery of the as-yet-unregulated chemical GenX in the Cape Fear River. The senators do not believe Dourson would be an effective force to protect the victims of those incidents.
The nominee worked on behalf of the chemical industry defending weakened standards and exposure guidelines for toxic chemicals like PFAS, 1,4, dioxane and trichloroethylene.

Speaking of water and chemicals, the EPA estimates that about 1% of water in our country is contaminated with PFOA, a main ingredient of teflon. The real number is more like 28%. Good article here.

Or read this article
at the good old Blue Heron Blast, Over persistent three eyed frogs and geologic time.
Internal documents revealed DuPont had long known that C8, also known as PFOA, caused cancer, had poisoned drinking water in the mid-Ohio River Valley and polluted the blood of people and animals worldwide. But the company never told its workers, local officials and residents, state regulators or the EPA. After the truth came out, research by federal officials and public interest groups, including EWG, found that the blood of almost all Americans was contaminated with PFCs, which passed readily from mothers to unborn babies in the womb. 
Not content to overthrow Obama era policies on the environment, police brutality, the state department, etc. Trump FCC commissioner Ajit Pal is getting ready to screw up the internet and the concept of net neutrality. This will adversely affect both performance and content.
"If the FCC votes to roll back these net neutrality protections, they would end the internet as we know it, harming every day users and small businesses, eroding free speech, competition, innovation and user choice in the process," said Mozilla, the nonprofit corporation that makes the Firefox browser and advocates for internet accessibility. "Our position is clear: the end of net neutrality would only benefit Internet Service Providers."
Of course one of Trump's favorite Bogeymen is CNN so he is now going after the ATT vertical merger under the guise of being suddenly concerned about monopolies. But he has no problem with Sinclair Broadcast Group gobbling up television and radio stations right and left and forcing them to carry "must runs", editorial content snippets to the right of Breitbart.

Have to love the story of Wes Goodman, the anti gay "family values" Republican congressman from Ohio who liked to cruise Craig's list for man on man meet-ups. Wes is now going to have to find new employment after being caught having sex with a man in his office.
Johnny Hadlock, a former congressional staffer, told The AP he engaged in sexual banter by text and had phone sex with Goodman while the two worked in Washington in the early 2010s. He said he was furious when, years later, he saw Goodman campaigning on the issue of “natural marriage” between a man and a woman, “because I knew differently.”
This story segues nicely with the recent story about the vocal Pro Life congressman Tim Murphy from Pittsburgh, who resigned after news got out that he forced his mistress to get an abortion. Not the first hypocrite to get nailed on this count, of course.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Rep. Tim Ryan says it all.

Waiting For the Man

Robert Quine on lead.

Dorothy Stratton and Beatrice Levy

I am so proud to now represent an estate that includes large numbers of works by the late print makers Dorothy Stratton and Beatrice Levy.

I plan on having a good part of the collection catalogued and on the Blue Heron Gallery website in the following couple weeks.

Some incredible work in the group.

Call - Dorothy Stratton



Some men in positions of power turn into sexual predators and pigs. Men of all colors, creeds and ideological stripes. Is this news to anybody? Didn't we go through this already? Of course we know that aggressive pursuit is one thing, predation and pedophilia another matter entirely.

The Franken backlash seems a bit overdone. A woman who has made a career out of being sexually objectified is aghast for being sexually objectified by a comedian while she was sleeping. Crummy yes, but a big deal? I don't think so. Not ready to burn him at the stake.

I think he has been a great Senator personally, not going to pillory him for an ill conceived joke on a USO tour. Or George Bush senior either for that matter. In the memorable words of the old French Prime Minister Giscard D'estaing, "Why else would one be Prime Minister?" We are biologically driven animals. Men think with the wrong head and do dumb shit. Always have. Is this news? Why are we waiting twenty or thirty years to report the purported grope again?

Show me a man or woman who has never done anything they need to apologize for and I will show you a liar.

Leeann Tweeden doesn't strike me as your typical girl scout. Don't think she has her mother's picture in her pocket, in fact in most of her pictures she doesn't appear to have any pockets at all.

I had a very good conversation with a Republican friend the other day about the state of things. She is sick of liberals assuming that she is a bigoted monster because of her political beliefs.

She is pro choice, socially moderate and can't stand Trump. In fact when we got to talking we had little or no distance between us on most issues.

I think a very small fraction and number of Republicans are alt-right racists. To lump in the majority is needlessly inflammatory. More on the subject in an excellent article over at Atlantic, Republican is not a synonym for racist by Peter Beinert.

Best of 2017 Photo blog fast approaching

Man at antique show on supplemental oxygen
Please start thinking about an end of the year photograph for the annual my favorite/best shot of the year photography post. All of you.

I will start running it mid December so it stays up until the end of the year. Start sending them now and I will save them for publication.

We have done it for many years now but last year things started to slack a bit. Let's pick it up.

Remember, it doesn't have to be arty, technically proficient, good, bad or indifferent, it just has to speak to you.

Looking forward to seeing what pearls you have to offer. Everybody has a phone, there are no excuses for not entering. You lurkers out there too. Azurebirds at gmail dot com.


Groove Billed Ani

© Gary Nunn
Last Sunday Claudia Dias, a woman apparently just visiting the area, found a bird in Encinitas that has never before been seen in the region. The rare bird is called a groove billed ani.

Birders have been flocking to the park where it is currently residing the last few days to view the exotic visitor.

Encinitas Community Park is located in Cardiff between Birmingham and Santa Fe, west of the freeway. The old Hall property.

Ace local birder Gary Nunn took some great pictures that can be found on here on Ebird.

© Claudia Dias

The groove billed ani is native to the tropics and sometimes reaches southern Texas in its migration. No record of previous sightings in California.

It is a member of the cuckoo family like the roadrunner and has two toes forward and two toes back. The bird has a very pretty whistle, a recording of which can be found here. Feeds on insects primarily, tends to raise its young communally. More on the bird here.

Perhaps word will get out in the Ani community that this is a chill place to hang with plenty of orthopterans to eat and maybe we will see more of these pretty and unusual visitors.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Phallic protrusion, Kodachrome Basin


Del Martian

I had a surprisingly good show at Del Mar. And a good and positive portent, more young people around than I had ever seen at an antique show. Sold a young couple a painting. Good omen. Hope the phenomenon continues.

I am going to continue to grind and push every money making lever I can find until the end of the year.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Lou Gottlieb

The year was 1974. I had dropped out of high school and was hitchhiking around and across the northwest. For about three or four months I camped out at what became known as a Rainbow Gathering, a big hippie free for all located at a place called Highbridge Park in Spokane. Music, free love, the works.

Lots of school buses and hippies of all feather abound. And it was here that I met Lou Gottlieb, the late Limelighter bass player who is singing in this video, who piloted the Morning Star Ranch school bus. Very funny and charming guy and very fun days.

Savoy Brown

Ideological silos

I walked by the husband and wife and smiled at the hardware store yesterday. He returned the smile, she grimaced and would not look me in the eye. The hatred she exuded was a palpable thing, even though we had barely ever interacted.

Wealthy, I had seen them around a few fundraisers and Art Center functions and don't think I had ever been unpleasant. But you never know. Maybe it was what I represent to them? Or the false rumor going around last year that I hated christians.

The town is getting wealthier and more conservative and I am neither. And I don't go to church. My wife heard whispers a few months ago that some women wouldn't shop at her store because she was a (shudder) liberal. Her retort was that they could take their business elsewhere. And I don't really care to hang out with nasty people either.

A new Pew poll out that shows that Americans increasingly do not want to live or fraternize with those of the opposite political persuasion, Political Polarization in the American Public.

It is a shame really. Many of my best friends are staunch Republicans and it has never got in the way of our friendship or frivolity. We agree to disagree. My own beliefs are closer to the center. But the center is becoming an increasingly lonely place to be. And what were once mere differences of opinion are becoming increasingly weaponized.

We don't just dislike each other, we now loathe each other. Another good article on the subject with a really good graphic at Axios, How American Politics went Batshit Crazy. It breaks down some of the factors that led to the current ideological civil war. Sad state of affairs.