Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Black Peter

This is a funny little rendition of the grateful dead's dirge Black Peter as performed by Patti Smith and co. Never heard it before, like how they work in cheesecake. Definitely done with a sense of humor, not bad, not good.


I jumped on my computer at work this afternoon and after grabbing the mouse and assuming the position I felt the familiar pinch back in my neck. My mind said "Aha! That's what is causing my neck pain. Too much time on the computer. My god, I've got blogitis (pronounced blog eye tis)!"

Seriously, I should have it. I have been on a terror tear. This is my 137th post of the month, my second highest total in several years, only trailing June of 2018 with 147. I have time on my hands, I have a lot to say and I am letting it rip. I used to care about moving forward too quickly, worried that jewels of the past were getting buried, not anymore.

I am moving forward and I won't wait for you to keep up. Thirty six more blogs and I am at 9000 total, now in our thirteenth year, the blog birthday was the beginning of March, on the third I believe. I had forty percent more hits this month too, 46,696, so readership is definitely up. I had been running about eight hundred to a thousand a day, now it is much more than that. Of course the national links didn't hurt and in the final analysis who cares anyway?

Of course there was a time it was two thousand to twenty five hundred views a day but Google changed their algorithm somewhere along the way and I got buried. Which is sort of good because I would look too many things up back then while researching and see my own information come up.  I was globally saturated. Which is seriously not right.

Anyway I have heard from several readers and lurkers lately and want everybody to know that I appreciate your readership and also welcome your contributions. If you have something to say, please say it, anonymously if you wish, I don't have to be the constant megaphone. Everybody stay well.

Numbers game

 3/31/20 www.ncov2019.live
I keep getting these covid deniers writing to tell me that it is all much ado about nothing, that people always die, it's media hysteria, not as bad as the flu, numbers don't add up, bla, bla, bla.

Now the epidemiologists will tell you that it is far worse than the flu, from a mortality standpoint by a near factor of ten. But why believe deep state doctors, let's look at the numbers ourselves:

We lost 719 people today. That is a very bad day, a 22.07% mortality increase to date. In one day. Grand total of deceased in the United States at 3976 now.

The flu totals for the last season (2018-2019) were estimated to max out at 32,400. If we divide that number by 365 it comes out to 88.76. per day. So you can see that today was indeed a very bad day and the covid 19 deaths we experienced today are larger than flu deaths in an average day by a factor of over nine times. 14.38% more covid 19 cases in the country today.

Now you may not believe me. And what is interesting is that what you believe or not believe is probably tied to your political beliefs. New study: Partisanship is the strongest predictor of coronavirus response. Click on the survey and then download the pdf if you wish.

Postscript: A math teacher friend writes to tell me that people don't die from the flu year round so my numbers are skewed and inaccurate. Perhaps. For sake of argument, if people die six months a year from the flu, the average causalties per day will still be a little over half that of Covid -19. And according to this Request for correction, flu deaths are often overstated as well.

More sketches of Spain

Spain has been hit very badly in this epidemic. It is one of my favorite countries.

I was only there one time but I was instantly enchanted. As was my wife. Especially Andalucia.

man behind window grate, Cordoba

I wish its people well and I hope to return one day when we have money and things settle down.

As part of my confinement travel tour I will be posting some shots here of Spain in the next couple of days.

Did you that at one time it was considered the northernmost country in Africa?

Need to go through them and see what I have got.

stairwell, Sacrada Familia
solar tower, La Mancha

palpable disapproval
Here are a few. Will try to revisit when I am done paying bills.

Sevilla porthole
Street performer and passerby.

Loving note and warning

Renée sent over this beautiful and very heartbreaking picture she received today from her grandchild in the Bay Area.

Kids are scared and worried right now, like most of us. We all need to be loved and reassured.

On the topic of the coronavirus, an MIT researcher says that the six foot distancing Covid-19 rule is based on faulty hundred year old modeling. She says it should instead be twenty seven feet.
In the JAMA article, Bourouiba wrote that peak exhalation speeds can reach up to 33 to 100 feet per second, thus creating a cloud that can span approximately 23 to 27 feet.
Here is the scientific paper, Turbulent gas clouds and respiratory pathogen emissions.

Send me blue flowers

As I said, it has been so beautiful here. Today is a little overcast. Here is a picture of my home and our wisteria fence yesterday.

The flowers now run the  entire length of my property.

Making this one of my favorite times of the year.

I also got a picture of the first bloom of the blue hibiscus that I planted a few months ago.

The blue hibiscus (alyogyne huegelii) is not really a hibiscus and it is also not really blue. More of a violet purple. It is in the mallow family, native to south and western Australia, first named by Austrian botanist Stephan Endlicher. This wan in honor of its western discoverer, Charles von Hügel, the Baron von Huegel (1795-1870) an Austrian army man who botanized Western Australia, Tasmania and New South Wales from 1833 to 1834. He returned to Vienna with a collection of plants that were later given botanical names and descriptions by Endlicher. 

There are very few truly blue flowers in nature. Less than 10 percent of the 280,000 species of flowering plants produce blue flowers, blue pigments are quite rare in nature. Blues are the product of a pigment called anthocyanin.
Plants have evolved many classes of pigments: Chlorophylls color leaves green; carotenoids come in orange (carrots), red (tomatoes), and yellow (maize); and betalains produce the red color of beetroot. But only one class of pigments is capable of producing blue: the anthocyanins. (The word literally means "blue flower.") And even most anthocyanins are not blue but red, because they naturally absorb blue light; only if the plant tacks on chemical groups can the molecule shift toward absorbing red.
No blue roses, carnations or tulips. And flowers have to go through heavy gymnastics to even simulate or approximate a blue hue.
...Over the following decades, a different story emerged, one that was finally confirmed by x-ray crystallography in 2005. Cyanidin itself does not produce a stable blue color; instead, cornflowers combine six molecules of cyanidin with six molecules of a colorless copigment arranged around two metal ions—a huge molecular complex that stabilizes the cyanidin molecules and allows one electron to make the right energy transition. "Flowers are doing crazy chemistry to generate that blue," says Beverley Glover, a botanist at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.
Several other blue flowers have hit on the same trick, but most produce a different anthocyanin, called delphinidin, that can more easily be coaxed to appear blue. The only difference between cyanidin and delphinidin is that the latter has an extra oxygen atom on one of its rings, put there by an enzyme called flavonoid 3',5'-hydroxylase. The entire family of roses, which includes apples and pears, lacks the enzyme, which means that delphinidin-producing roses can't be produced through traditional breeding.
Are you sorry you even asked?

Astronomy Domine

The interviewer is Hans Keller, an erudite Austrian writer and musician who championed Schoenberg.  Sort of has a Freudian bent. Read his wiki bio here. Cutting, intelligent and rather funny interview. One of the best early Floyd songs but one that might not make much sense in a "normal" mindset to a straight guy. Then again I never tripped to Schoenberg.

Quick shout out

Good article today on the red state / blue city divide by Ronald Brownstein at CNN. Everybody is handling this differently, one governor says it is a matter of personal responsibility. But what I find most funny is the news of the stay at home order in  Arizona, which still lets you hit the golf course and the beauty parlor. Which makes sense, since it is scientifically proven that nasty microbes can't survive on fairways or in sand traps. And hair stylists always keep a safe distance from their customers. Way to go, Arizona and Governor Doug Doofus. You're taking this really seriously. More here.

Monday, March 30, 2020

We get letters

From anonymous:

As a retired military officer with 21 years of service, I saw something today that truly flummoxed me in the midst of our current national crisis. I had just finished shopping at a grocery store and was walking to my car when I spotted a large bumper sticker on a car emblazoned with the words “Veterans for Trump.” Let me begin the description of my reaction by saying that I can see why some people initially warmed to the (theoretical, it turns out) populist message espoused by Trump in 2016, or warmed to him because of their visceral hatred of Hillary Clinton. That said, today I totally recoiled from the message of this bumper sticker and stood in complete astonishment because here was someone proudly (apparently, since they hadn't yet scraped it off their car) proclaiming:

- I support the man that General Mattis, a Marine Corps hero, felt he could no longer serve.
- I support the man that chastised Navy Rear Admiral William McRaven, the leader of the SEAL team that killed Osama Bin Laden and politicized and criticized his service to the nation because he assumed he was a “Hillary Clinton fan.”
- I support the man who endangered the lives of US servicemen in Syria by secretly agreeing to Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's invasion of territory occupied by US servicemen without warning.
- I support the man who excoriated the Joint Chiefs of Staff in a meeting at the Pentagon because he felt they were “stupid.”
-I support the man who honestly feels the health of businesses (and especially casinos) for the next several months during this pandemic is more important than any human life.

- I support a man who encouraged Russian assistance during an American election.

Incredibly, I know such veterans even in my home town, yet remain astonished that they still support this pathological narcissist, or somehow cannot seem to just let go and have the courage to admit that maybe this man is not the best person to lead our great nation right now, or that perhaps the current criticism of him is warranted. This depresses me beyond belief. What have we become?

Fallbrook Veteran

GOP Misogyny

The disparate political leanings of the individuals in my photographers group are starting to come to the fore and are causing some minor tremors in the force. We have a text message chain going now and like most things, people get a little nastier online or messaging than they do face to face. We have always been a fairly tolerant group but there must be a bug or microbe in the air that is making things a little testy. Things are dividing.

Individual A said that McConnell and Pelosi were equally contemptible. Now I personally fail to see it. And mentioned that any strong woman seems to be loathsome to your average Republican, it is built into the GOP DNA. The venom that gets directed at a Pelosi, or a Hillary or a Boxer was always, in my mind, way out of line with any real or imagined sin they may have actually committed. And I have always wondered why? Is it because they are women? They denied it and I got hammered. Hey I have a thick skin. I dish it out and I can take it.

Perhaps the attitude starts at the top right now although it has been going on as long as I can remember. Consider the female makeup in the Republican Senate, few and far between. No, I think it goes back to childhood for some people. Problems with mother or seeing women take charge and stepping out front in a man's world. Yearn for a better time when Mrs. Cleaver would stay home all day on the divan clutching her pearls, waiting for Ward and the Beaver to come home.

Look at our President and his history. Going after Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer this week, or the nasty bile he directs to female reporters like Yamiche Alcindor, Joy Reid, Cecilia Vega or any number of other women reporters with regularity. If you are a woman, he hits harder than if you are a man and doubly so if you are a woman of color. It is not a mere coincidence, his misogynist rage is palpable.

And I think that I know why this is. Republican men like mousy, compliant, submissive women of the stepford persuasion. They have a tough time with strong ones. This may be vestigial behavior going all the way back to the bible, where women were oft regarded as property and coached to be rather suppressed and subordinate. It is a patriarchal thing.

All you have to do is look at Fox News to see what the favored GOP look is. Preferably airhead blondes. Like Senator Marsha Blackburn. Or wackjobs like Michele Bachmann.

I was raised by a strong woman and had strong sisters. I am married to a strong woman. In fact I rather enjoy them. I am not threatened by them, well, except occasionally by my wife.

But some people definitely are. Or think that a woman's job is solely in the kitchen or bedroom. Or are still not down with equal rights or the concept of equal women whatsoever. Certainly not with a woman's right to make her own reproductive choices.

I am not going to belabor this but I am being sincere and honest here. Where does this hostility towards women come from?

Letter from the north.

I received this letter from a friend up north who shall remain anonymous. A lot of people I know share his palpable anger and frustration.


The swans picture is so serene, it would make a nice picture for a meditation video.
Just watched Trump talk about how they have done 1 million tests and how hospitals are stealing masks, then picking fights with CNN and NPR reporters who repeat back to him what he said a couple days earlier and he denies it.  After watching fuckface, the news went to virus hot spots hospitals that are OUT of protective materials, loading bodies in refrigerators, waiting for testing, Health care workers dropping like flies, scared out of their minds. Governors pitted against each other, please someone put him out of his misery. He bragged about doing a better job than anyone has ever done, he should be charged for murder for delaying doing anything for 4-5 weeks and sacking the pandemic department. The only positive is that it is compelling television, I am afraid to go out, I pick up Peets in the a.m., I order ahead and they put it just outside. I wear mask, gloves and glasses and wipe the cup clean before taking off my gloves.  You are right about Newsom following Inslee in Washington's lead. People up here are staying put. Be safe my friend, 

San Mateo Kid


I have to admit that I was not a big Gavin Newsom fan before. He never showed me much and I stupidly bought into other people's tropes and opinions about him (rich kid, Getty, Zuckerberg, etc.)

Well that's changing. I listened to the California Governor's midday address today and I couldn't be more impressed with both his words and his actions.

Very intelligent, very sincere. Kind of man we need at the helm in times like this. Bold and decisive. Not the false cartoon I had stored in my brain.

I shudder to think of what would have happened to my state if we had a governor here like they do in Florida. We caught a break in the Golden State when he took precipitous action early rather than too late.

I read once that heroes are made by difficult circumstances, never born. And I think that is true. Leadership is a trial by fire and unfortunately, as we see today in Washington, few are up to the job.

I remember seeing a great documentary on President Chester Arthur on PBS a few years ago. It was excellent, if you can, try to find it and watch. Arthur was part of Senator Conkling's big and very corrupt New York machine and a friend of Boss Tweed. He became Vice President on a ticket with James Garfield and assumed the presidency after James Garfield was assassinated. And people rightly feared the worst. Nobody thought he would amount to a hill of beans. Thought he would carry water for the political machine. But Arthur rose to the occasion and became a very good if not great president and was pretty much loved by all.
"No man ever entered the Presidency so profoundly and widely distrusted as Chester Alan Arthur, and no one ever retired… more generally respected, alike by political friend and foe." Alexander McClure
 I am sure that there are heroes among us right now. These are the times in which such men and women are forged.

Almost time.

Somebody gave me this roll of toilet paper last year, sort of as a joke. never thought that I might actually have to use it. Thank you Mr. President. You were made for the roll, er role.

Lots of people looking, like me, rather shaggy these days. Unless your spouse cuts your hair. Mine doesn't. I can wait. Lady at coffee's hair looked too good, so I asked. She goes to her barber's house but he will only cut her's as a favor. I get it.

Have a pinched nerve in my upper back that is debilitating me. Hope it works itself out. Going to try to finish the book I am currently reading, The Stranger by Camus. I know, the Plague would have been more timely. This is a difficult book with a difficult, diffident character, not quite capable of feeling.

Such a beautiful day in Southern California! Perfect weather, my place is looking so good with all the wisteria, will try to post a shot tomorrow.

I was looking around my shop today and was thinking what a shame. I have so many beautiful paintings right now and no one is looking at them. Just a great collection of material, completely invisible.

Joan for John and Fiona

Thank you Joan Baez for playing this beautiful song for its writer. Your playing and singing are still wonderful, it brings a tear to my eye.

Anatomy of a failed shot

Not all of my shots work all the time, many don't, I thought it would be nice to deconstruct a fail for you. Learning experience for both of us. Hopefully helps my humility index.

I scouted a spot on the river I wanted to shoot the other day. Went back yesterday afternoon with Leslie, lugging the tripod and a backpack full of gear. It is a nice little spot where the river takes an abrupt divot. I almost missed the poison oak, got a little on my stomach. The water flows over the rocks pretty quickly at this location right now and I thought it would be a nice spot for a long exposure, the slowing technique that gives you the silky water look that photographers dig.

This untouched shot was a fifteen second exposure at ƒ16, iso 64. Nikon D850 with Nikkor 24 -70, 24mm, a b&w c.p and a Breakthrough 10-stop nd filter.

It isn't easy necessarily. You first take a baseline shot without the filters and ascertain proper, normal exposure, than apply a loose formula for the neutral density filter adding time per filter stop. You focus as best as you can and then screw in your filters which invariably causes you to lose some focus again with lens drift. Because you can't see what you have captured in the viewfinder at this point.

I took quite a few shots at different speeds and aperture, from ƒ8 to ƒ22 and up to thirty seconds. Because the sun was stage right, I went up in the aperture (down?) to see if I could grab and play with some sun rays. I did not. But they all are basically unusable, for several reasons.

I had wanted to get the shot in the morning, with the eastern sun behind me and it was late afternoon. The sun was low in the sky to my right, creating uneven color in the sky and undue brightness on the right side of the sky. Would have preferred the sun behind me. There is also some sun flare evident in the shadows right.

Midday shots are always problematic with their deep shadows and cross light.

Now I could certainly lift them but shadows do occur and there is something unnatural about revealing every detail of a scene in natural darkness.

One must use judgement and a light hand.

An even bigger problem is wind. Wind is the mortal enemy of the long exposure, hence the moving branches top left.

Now I could spend hours in photoshop deleting that tree or maybe painting over the sky section but that is tedious and not really my style. Better to go back and shoot it right. Something not right here with light and timing.

I did lop off a few twig shots on this vertical portrait shot to the left. I lightened the shadows too much, do you see how flat and chalky the oak shadow to your right looks?

One more problem I should mention, the circular polarizer filter. These invaluable tools remove glare and increase saturation, very helpful for water. But they are optimally used at a direction of 90° to the sun, my scene is near straight on.

In addition the filter fits under the nd so even though in normal usage you can twist it to find the best angle, it is practically impossible when under a pitch dark neutral density filter, hence the uneven sky tones here. Well, that and the sun.

I am going to go back to the river bend soon, both in the morning and at sundown and get some shots from the exact same vantage and see if I can do any better. Will post.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Joe Diffie - Movin' Train

Perfect Storm

"Tis the times' plague, when madmen lead the blind." William Shakespeare - King Lear Act 4, scene 1

I got the first call around noon yesterday A friend who is in a similar but slightly different line of trade, with some points of tangency. "Do we still have a business?" he asked. I'm like, How can you ask me that question, how the hell do I know?  Got another similar call this morning. "What the heck are we going to do? How do we not go broke?"

I don't know. Cry, wail, bleat, scream, knock our heads against the wall might work for starters. You tell me, what are we going to do?"

Client called today, had consigned two paintings to me. I offered to buy them last month, we differed on a fair price, now he wants to take the deal but the old offer is of course, now off the table. Because pretty much everybody I know is burning through their savings and what the farmers called their seed corn at an incredible pace. Me included.

I have an outstanding bill swirling around me that could literally cause me to hurl and lose my lunch in a heartbeat if I gave it more than a second's thought. who is still conducting business today? Who in the hell is not worried financially right now? Some one with damn sure more money and faith than I have, I tell you. What's a poor working stiff to do?

So you know what? I'm not thinking about it, especially on a weekend and especially only two weeks or so into our corona virus, shelter in place and lockdown. There is a time in our lives when you have to sit back and let it all unfold and just surrender. There is not a damn thing we can do about our financial circumstances at the moment and there is no point getting sick over it. Let us give it another week, then get sick over it.

At last count there were approximately 327 million human beings in the United States and they are pretty much all going through the same crap. And with an epidemic that is forecast to take upwards of 200k innocent souls and is not supposed to reach any kind of apex until late April, at least in California, the fireworks may just be starting.

So banish the word security from your vocabulary, it is so 2019. Unless you are one of those rare souls I read about in the paper this morning rich enough to rent out hermetically sealed castles with robot waiters in Ireland or Switzerland, the perfect storm has hit and you better be thinking defensively instead. How about refitting your Mad Max thunder cruiser and polishing the Ben Hur vehicle spikes? Buy war paint.

Hide a few eggs, baking power and tranquilizers, if you are lucky enough to find them, in your safe (currency and precious metals having gone into the toilet.) Sharpen some sticks. Be prepared to defend your home, transportable yurt or the park bench you are now claiming as home by force, prescriptive right and eminent domain if necessary.

This whole descent into thunder dome armageddon has really shown the strength of federalism in this country. A President not willing to give medical equipment to certain governors until they kiss his ass, saying it's not even his job to help the states. Who encourages states to bid against each other. Who tells manufacturers not to sell to certain states. Who bids against those same states for needed equipment and says that the Federal government is not a shipping clerk.  Obviously he's not. He delivered 170 broken ventilators to California yesterday, a big Trumpian fuck you. And Didouche D'Souza asking why the President should help the mean old blue states at all?

Rhode Island doing door to door searches looking for New Yorkers, Florida sealing off both the New Yorkers and the Louisianans. Hawaii shutting its doors. I don't blame the states for having no faith in Washington right now, this is a state's rights wet dream, with a President who says he won't help anyone who isn't nice to him. What use is it to even have a federal government?

It is clearly every man for himself, every state for itself and any national apparatus that we may have thought we had to guard against such a calamitous event was either grossly incompetent or clearly outgunned. Or more probably disabled by a bean counting toadie in some cost cutting move.

Did you ever think it could become this fractured and savage? Or have we been deluded, has our national comfort and security been a ruse this entire time? The feeling that the Federal government we pay taxes to would have more responsibility than this one evidently thinks it does when the shit hits the fan. Because it all feels like it is hanging from a very fine thread right now.

So what do we do? Fiddle? Toast marshmallows? I guess we wait, prepare as best we can, keep an adequate social distance and deal with the after effects when the storm has passed. No point worrying now. Have to let it ride.

Buteo springs

Sunday confession

I wish all of my fellow Americans and fellow citizens of the world the best of Sundays. We always said that we humans would might band together if the alien monster came down from Mars to wipe us out. Funny that the thing that finally got us all confronting the same malady at the same time was a tiny home grown microbe. Band together, we shall see...

I sent out a pretty snarky query the other night regarding the minister doofus in Louisiana who was telling people to come worship with him, at this awful time, in fact sending out a large number of buses so the plus thousand number of worshipers could attend together. My comment was nasty even by my usual standards.

But I also do honestly realize that the great majority of Christians are not idiots like this guy, that as agnostic as I am, I do feel that there is a collective power in at least the mechanism of prayer, to whatever deity you may choose to worship and in whatever manner. And most religious people, of any persuasion, are not congregating today, most of them are as rational as the rest of us, whatever that means, for better or for worse.

I have a bad habit of visiting the sins of the few on the many, it makes for an easy, lazy argument to pick on the outlying dolts. I got a letter from a great Christian friend the other day that simply said; we are not robots.

Very succinct, four words. He is of course right, not every person of faith is a brainless idiot. I know that. And I must say that the majority of my close Christian friends are far more tolerant than I am. After all, they put up with me. And my profanity. We don't always agree politically but it doesn't mean we have to be completely divided.

So let me just say, if you are spending this Sunday in intense prayer, thank you and have at it. We need all hands on every available oar and I am sure that prayer won't hurt right now. In fact it might help. Bless you all.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

...the wheels have stopped

alternate take

Lou Orrantia

I was bummed to read that my old bud and boss Luis "Lou" Orrantia recently passed away. Lou was one of the most important teachers and mentors I have ever had in my life.

My father, Amos Sommers, had a long career building houses in San Diego. He started with American Housing Guild in the early fifties. His own company, Sommers Development, built for many income levels, from modest single family FHA homes to some of the nicest neighborhoods in San Diego, from Alvarado Estates to Del Cerro Highlands.

My dad's first superintendent was a man named Cliff Hitt. Second was a man named Roger Soper. Both of these guys were very competent, very tough men, very good at what they did.

The super built the houses, my dad got them approved and secured financing. He used the great architect Dale Naegle for conceptual architectural plans and Bob Young Engineering and Alvarado Engineering for civil engineering and design work, respectively. Lou worked for Alvarado and when Roger left, my father hired Lou as a Vice President / Project manager and he became responsible for construction. They were a very good team and had a very successful operation. They built a lot of good projects together, fought a lot of wars.

Lou was a legitimate artist as a designer, a very talented man. A big man, a star baseball player at San Diego High in the 1950's. Knew construction and design inside and out. Great draftsman. He forged wonderful relationships with our sub contractors. A great boss who I respected very much.

I came in as a young laborer and then became an assistant superintendent and finally a project manager. Lou taught me everything I knew and put up with a lot of crap from me at times. I was not in the best place as a human being back then and he treated me like a son and tried to direct me to the proper road. I just can't begin to tell you what he meant to me, for a big stretch of my life almost a second father. We played racketball, we drank together, told dirty jokes, he showed me what it meant to be a man in some ways. Turned me on to menudo, to good tamales. He was a good man, a good father, good husband and a good catholic.

At some point things went south on a big project and my dad and Lou severed their relationship. I had to pick up the pieces and it was a very tough time. Last I heard Lou was working for Caster and then building stuff in Reno. I tried often to find contact info for him but never could. Because he meant a lot to me and I wanted to rekindle our relationship.

Saw his name in the paper and had to say something. All of my love and condolences to his family.Would love to tell Buzz and Amos but they are gone now too.

Robby's Garden

Red tailed primer

Since we are only weeks away from having little red tailed hawk babies in the new nest, perhaps we should brush up a little on our knowledge of the species.

Red tailed hawks (buteo jamaicencis) normally mate for life. The gestation period for the eggs is between 28 and 40 days. I figure our current clutch has been set on for about 18 days at this point. The number of eggs is usually between one and four but I have personally never seen more than three young hatchlings in my long viewing experience and it is usually two. I think there is an innate genetic "knowledge" about how many birds can be successfully sustained by the habitat. Eggs are laid every two to three days and the final group is called a "clutch." First laid, first hatched. Young birds are called an "eyass." Pipping is what happens when the young chick first breaks out of its shell. Female raptors of all kinds tend to be larger than males, including this species. Red tailed hawks start breeding when they are around three years of age, the time it takes for the species to reach maturity. The hawks get their eponymous red tail after their second year. It takes about two weeks for the chicks to sit up in the nest, about four weeks to stretch their wings and exercise. The development of the necessary muscles and wings for flying is called fledging. More on that and other hawk stuff here. They usually leave the nest after around six weeks, at which point the young start to capture their own prey. The parents will continue to supplement their diet for several weeks. The oldest known wild red tailed was found to be near or over thirty years of age. In my experience, at least locally, red tailed tend to favor sycamores for their nests while red shouldered like eucalyptus and conifers.Unlike Coopers hawks and red shouldered hawks, red tailed tend to only eat mammals, reptiles and amphibians, so you don't see them at your feeder.
The young birds like to hang out on relatively low dead branches and structure initially. They often go through a very geeky period while losing their white baby feathers. When they leave the nest, they are usually gone forever. Red tailed hawks come in a variety of color patterns or "morphs" and are segregated into fourteen separate subspecies. The western population is mostly what is termed B.J. calurus and comes in a light, dark or an intermediate shade called rufous. Calarus is further divided into two sub species, Canadian or Northern Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis abieticolus) and Saint Lucas Red-tail (Buteo jamaicensis lucasanus) a disputed species from Baja first taken and described in 1859.

As I am sure you can tell, I am getting excited about the prospect of new chicks!

Latest shots

I'm really not quite sure why I am attracted to birds? I have been drawing and photographing them since I was a young child.

Never particularly liked owning them, honestly find them a bit smelly in the house and have never forged warm reciprocal emotive relations with them, although we had a parrot and a macaw as a kid.

I believe it is honestly the artist in me, their beautiful feather symmetry and gorgeous neck set itches some compositional lobe in my brain that obviously needs scratching. And I love how their feathers diffuse sunlight, if viewed at the proper angle.

I found a greater egret rookery in Del Mar yesterday. It is nesting time and all hands were on deck.

I sat on a bench and watched the huge beauties do their work.

Such elegance of form!

Earlier I had been scouting around the Del Mar Public Works building for the yellow crowned night herons that I heard were there but I unfortunately couldn't find one. Flew the coop.

I did find one black crowned night heron but he was sleeping high in a tree and didn't look particularly thrilled that I had woke him up from his nap. Sorry!

As I said yesterday, it wasn't a particularly noteworthy day, photographically speaking, didn't ever put on the better lens, which I had in the boot. Was content to enjoy myself and take it all in.

Liked watching the long billed curlew strut and fly around, another pretty bird that I don't see all the time, not being much of an ocean shorebird guy.

A nice full display.

I watched the nest building for a while longer. My god this is so much better than being cooped up inside with the news or an electronic instrument.

Not much more to report. Saw a red tailed on a wire on the way home in a mondrian like composition. Have a lot on my mind that will have to wait, principally the similarity between climate deniers and covid 19 deniers. Have this image of the latter confronting the reaper with the scythe and trying to tell him with last breath that it is really no worse than the flu. Which I might add, we currently have a vaccine for.

On my way in this morning I noticed a coyote digging for something off the roadside in the wet dew and the high grass. He was largely unconcerned with me. I rolled down the passenger side window and took a couple shots through the car. The iso was very high, 5000. Noisy, not perfect. But he was certainly a pretty guy. We'll take it.

Neighbor Todd came face to face with a beautiful grayish colored bobcat the other day. He said the beautiful spotted cat arched his back and hissed at him, then took off. Tail like a deer, he said. Rumour has it there is a mom and two kittens around his neck of our woods. Hope I get to see another one soon. But I do have an idea for a photograph I am going to take tomorrow, weather permitting. Need to bring one more piece of equipment home,

Friday, March 27, 2020

Poop talk

"Controlling cleanliness around bowel movements is the earliest way the child asserts control. The fact that we are all now losing control creates a regressive push to a very early time. So, I guess that translates in the unconscious to 'If I have a lifelong supply of toilet paper, I'll never be out of control, never be a helpless, dirty child again.'"
Andrea Greenman, President of the Contemporary Freudian Society

Sweet Paisan

I loved the story in USA Today about the doughnut shop in Rochester, New York making doughnuts with the likeness of National Infectious Disease director, Dr. Anthony Fauci. Donut Delight, which has been operating since 1958, is currently sold out of the confections, which have gone viral nationally. (Should I say an immunologist's cupcakes have gone viral?)

Shawn Dowd - Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
They have such an early Americana feel to them, really cool, I like the red and blue sprinkles. Very old timey.

Dr. Fauci and Governor Cuomo are currently polling higher nationally than anybody else in this crisis and Italian Americans are rightfully proud of him, as are the rest of us Americans.

The full dinner pail was a McKinley campaign slogan in 1896 and 1900

From the owner:
“He is calm, knowledgeable and he’s comforting during a time when our country needs it. He is inspiring to listen to. He is one of America’s heroes during this challenging time. Plus, he is a Paisano! We wanted to honor a great Italian American who is on the front lines in fighting this pandemic.” Salvator Fantauzzo
I think all Americans are grateful that Dr. Fauci is there, one of the few apparent adults in the room. Where would we be right now without him?

I guess he got into it with Trump today regarding the Malaria drug. Hope he manages to stick around. What a great cupcake! I would buy one.

And a well meaning copycat in Wisconsin is already making Fauci cookies. More the merrier. We need a hero right now.

Be well

Cardiff Kook - Hayne Palmour IV - UT
In this time of mortal crisis people have to be careful not to prematurely forecast their imminent demise. It can get quite embarrassing when the end doesn't go exactly according to plan.

Leslie has a friend on Facebook right now who is facing a bit of a quandary, having initially cried wolf on the Covid thing and now too sheepish to fess up and admit that the test results came in and that she is currently copacetic. Curtain calls are always difficult.

I should know. I have written my own eulogy dozens of times. But life has this way of rising up and thwarting the best laid of exits. So we have to be smart and sparing about such things. People quickly tire of the drama. So die already.

I have been largely in isolation this last week with a couple of minor pops into town for provisions. Had a good friend get too close and I freaked out yesterday, actually got myself sick with imagined worry. Everybody, friend or enemy, is under scrutiny these days as a potential host and carrier.

I went down to the medical center this morning for a cancer immunotherapy treatment. Gloves, masks, wipes and purel ready. Don't touch anything! Place was devoid of people, many lights were off, waiting room was empty. I got whisked into a room and a nurse I had never seen before asked me to take a urine test.

She came back a few minutes later and asked me if I was feeling okay? Fever, tired, pee smelling funny? Cough? I asked her what was up and she gave me "the look" and said that we had had a dip, whatever that means. "Wait here, I am going to get the doctor."

Now I am starting to plotz a little bit. A dip? The doctor came in and explained that I had an infection of some sort. It will take approximately five days to culture to understand its true nature, she prescribed some antibiotics. I'm guessing probably no big deal. But no chemo or immunotherapy for me this week, whatever I was brewing inside would kill any potential benefit.

Now I have had uti's before and hope that this is maybe your standard garden variety urinary infection. Which I hope that it is, not having a ready date scheduled for a personal swansong.

Because there is a lot of nasty shit lurking around this world these days, as I am sure you have heard, and as I have said before, I seem to have a target on my back for such things. So shoot me, I'm either oversensitive or paranoid. But even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

In any case, I am going to take my medicine and continue to lie low. Wait for further instruction. Try not to let my mind wander too much. Because it doesn't take much for this fertile imagination to start wondering what is up?

I drove over to Bread & Cie afterwards so that they could make good on the seeded corn rye they accidentally shorted me two weeks ago. And noticed that there was a half empty (half full?) catheter laying in the doorway.

I informed them when I walked inside that some awful miscreant had dumped his piss bag outside the door. Hardly sanitary.

Barely ruffled a feather, I don't think they pay them enough to jump up and deal with the detritus that must be present down there off Washington in Hillcrest on a daily basis. It was still laying there when I left. Now we Fallbrookians tend to frown on leaving our biological hazards around in front of our shops but we are admittedly a strange bunch.

Afterwards I drove to Del Mar and birded the area near the Pubic Works building, the San Dieguito River and the San Elijo Lagoon. Nothing special but nice to be out in the cool ocean air with the birds. Will see if I captured or caught anything notable tomorrow. And in about five days.

People, not pawns

I'm not wild about the governments in either Iran or Venezuela. But I have no hatred for their people. And so I applaud Senator Chris Murphy for his profile in courage, speaking out against sanctions against these beleaguered countries during this time of global pandemic. Iran has over 30,000 cases of Covid - 19. While the incidence numbers right now in Venezuela are relatively small at present, doctors and humanitarians there fear the worst. The Venezuelans and Iranians, like much of the rest of the world, are undergoing a medical crisis right now and our sanctions are making it extremely hard for medical aid to get through.
“Helping these nations save lives during this crisis is the right thing to do from a moral perspective, but it is also the right thing to do from a national security perspective,” Murphy wrote in the letter sent Thursday to Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “By allowing our sanctions to contribute to the exceptional pain and suffering brought about by the coronavirus outbreaks in both nations, we play into the anti-Americanism that is at the heart of both regimes’ hold on power.” The letter was co-signed by several Senate Democrats, including Chris Van Hollen, Tim Kaine, and Patrick Leahy.
Don't punish the people right now for the sins of dictators. Let's not play politics with their lives. Murphy wrote an excellent opinion in the Washington Post on the subject of Venezuela in January. Today he wrote on Twitter that it hurts both our national security and our moral standing when our sanction's policy results in innocent people dying. I agree.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Louie Shelton

I hadn't even heard of Louie Shelton until very recently. I discovered him on YouTube while listening to Monkees music. He is the guy really playing when Nesmith is supposed to be playing. It is said that this Wrecking Crew member is on more hit singles than any other guitar player in the world. According to Wikipedia these include Marvin GayeSimon and GarfunkelStevie WonderBoz ScaggsGladys Knight & the Pipsthe Jackson 5Neil DiamondJohn LennonBarbra Streisandthe Carpentersthe Mamas & the PapasGlen CampbellElla Fitzgeraldthe Partridge FamilyJames BrownDiana RossOtis SpannWhitney HoustonJoe CockerKenny RogersHenry ManciniDave GrusinQuincy JonesLalo Schifrin and Victor Wooten. He played the guitar solo on Lionel Richie's hit "Hello" and Boz Scaggs "Lowdown."

An incredibly fluid and talented player. Very humble. Check out more of his stuff. Guy can play it all.

J.H. update

I posted a coronavirus fact sheet an hour or two ago, supposedly from an infectious disease doctor at Johns Hopkins, but have since taken it down. Although all of the facts seemed helpful and accurate, I see that it has recently been on Facebook in the Philippines and need to get additional corroboration before I let it run.  Don't trust anything. It made a slightly inaccurate statement regarding protein and DNA that got me wondering about it. If it turns out to be square I will certainly repost. I apologize for not previously fact checking it. It has not shown up on SNOPES although a really bad phony Johns Hopkins letter did. This is the second time in the month that I receive something from a friend of a friend that might prove to be crap. Please do not send me things written by friends or friends of friends unless you actually know them. We shall remain vigilant.

Doug works at a hospital in New York. He recommends we watch this video from a very knowledgeable Covid - 19 Doctor there, David Price. It is long but I learned so much from it and so will you. Give it a listen. On empowering and protecting your families. Dispels many myths, will make you feel better.

Fox host says she knows people are dying but the bigger problem is that she can't get her nails done.

Obviously this Corona denier's faith wasn't strong enough. Or as Leslie said, "Hey, do you believe it yet?"