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costa's hummer

Thursday, April 30, 2020

4/30/20

The news is so terribly depressing. I'm sure that you don't really need me to keep score. Trump is blaming Obama for not having a test for a virus that didn't even exist when he was in office. Trump's intelligence services are telling him that the virus was not manmade. He now says somebody else told him it really was but he can't say who because he is not allowed to. He senses that this whole virus thing is going to be over soon, because well, he's got a big gut feeling. The lies just keep pouring out, I'm not going to get the tally, what's the point, there will just be more and more of them. And 4400 meatpackers now sick with covid 19 but they have to keep working because America needs its meat and the minorities that work in the plants are pretty much expendable. And now Trump says he is the one in charge in the hunt for a new vaccine. After the malaria drug and the lysol, why am I not exactly reassured?

I don't blame the deplorables for Trump's actions, they are merely idiots. I don't necessarily even blame the principal perpetrator himself who is a sociopath who never should have been elected and put in this position. I blame the smart Republican enablers who knew what they were getting and decided to hold their collective noses and look the other way because he could either fulfill their social agenda or make them richer. Their ideology flipped. Suddenly the free market party became the protectionist tariff party that thought nothing at all about running up massive debt. We all know people who turned a blind eye to this guy because he served their purposes and who don't give a damn about what has happened to our country during his term. How long will it take to clean up this mess?

There is a direct line from Trump, Bannon and Miller to Charlottesville, Pittsburgh and Poway. The fires of racial animus that have been stoked during his reign could burn down the Reichstag. That may be the most unforgivable sin among many. A bunch of people with guns invaded the Michigan capitol today. Trump undoubtedly thinks they are fine people. I have read about the radical right's plans for the coming violent civil war, they call it the boogaloo. So very depressing. And sad for me to think that I really don't know which side some of the people I have previously called friends will show up on.

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9:05 a.m. Friday Like clockwork.


Seth Herald/Reuters

Young chicks

I only saw two of the three red tailed hawk hatchlings this morning.

I hope that the missing one is merely hiding.

Would hate to think that something else has occurred like falling out of the nest or being seized by a predator.

Will look again when I have a chance tonight or tomorrow morning.

You can start to see the juvenile feathers peaking out on the bird on the left, the fuzzy inchoate baby down now just starting to disappear.

Yay Fallbrook

I was looking at the official S.D. County Covid 19 numbers per thousand table this morning and realized that we here in Fallbrook have the second lowest per capita rate of infection in the entire county of San Diego, with 29 cases per hundred thousand. They only report on zip codes with over 10 thousand residents for this survey.

The only area doing better than 92028 is Oceanside at 25 cases per hundred thousand. Third is the relatively densely populated Ocean Beach. Go figure? Is there a hippy immunity?

Well done Fallbrook! There is yet another benefit to living in Brigadoon. People need to pat themselves on the back for being smart and staying safe.

Let's stay safe and smart in the Friendly Village.


***************
Postscript 5/2/20 - We are now #1 in the county in lowest cases per 100,000 here in Fallbrook, Oceanside's number is now 27.6 with two more confirmed cases.

Norse neighbors

If you can get through the WaPo paywall, here is a neat story.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Bert Jansch

Stiff upper lip

We Americans are sort of running around with our heads cut off with this covid 19 thing. Open it up, close it down, it's a hoax, it's the end of life as we know it. Reactions run the entire gamut. Many of us are freaked out.

The truth is that we are all at a loss here, we are all guessing as to the exact nature of the beast. Nobody knows. Except that we do know it is very serious indeed with now close to a quarter million people already dead globally.

What I also know is that we humans have had it pretty easy for a long time and don't really handle pressure very well.

I was thinking of a corollary in the last hundred years this morning and all I could think of was the blitz.

On September the 7th of 1940, the German Luftwaffe started bombing the United Kingdom. London was bombed for 56 straight days and nights. Blitz is the German word for lightning.

Over 40,000 civilians were killed, 139,000 people wounded and a million houses destroyed in the indiscriminate and constant bombing raids. Can you imagine how terrifying that was?

Nearly a thousand German planes took part in Unternehmen Loge or Operation London and the impact and devastation from the campaign was relentless. Here is an interesting eye witness account by the war correspondent Ernie Pyle.
Below us the Thames grew lighter, and all around below were the shadows - the dark shadows of buildings and bridges that formed the base of this dreadful masterpiece.
Later on I borrowed a tin hat and went out among the fires. That was exciting too; but the thing I shall always remember above all the other things in my life is the monstrous loveliness of that one single view of London on a holiday night - London stabbed with great fires, shaken by explosions, its dark regions along the Thames sparkling with the pin points of white-hot bombs, all of it roofed over with a ceiling of pink that held bursting shells, balloons, flares and the grind of vicious engines. And in yourself the excitement and anticipation and wonder in your soul that this could be happening at all.
These things all went together to make the most hateful, most beautiful single scene I have ever known."
Londoner sipping tea
The bombing continued for nine months, the axis bombers dropping over 41,000 tons of bombs. But the attitude of the British was famous for its resolve and tenacity. Rather than be cowed, they went along with their lives with pluck.
Based in part on the experience of German bombing in the First World War, politicians feared mass psychological trauma from aerial attack and the collapse of civil society. In 1938, a committee of psychiatrists predicted three times as many mental as physical casualties from aerial bombing, implying three to four million psychiatric patients. Winston Churchill told Parliament in 1934, "We must expect that, under the pressure of continuous attack upon London, at least three or four million people would be driven out into the open country around the metropolis." Panic during the Munich crisis, such as the migration by 150,000 people to Wales, contributed to fear of social chaos.
Milk delivery
Guess what? It never happened. People kept their heads together. I loved this snippet that I read:
Although the intensity of the bombing was not as great as pre-war expectations so an equal comparison is impossible, no psychiatric crisis occurred because of the Blitz even during the period of greatest bombing of September 1940. An American witness wrote "By every test and measure I am able to apply, these people are staunch to the bone and won't quit ... the British are stronger and in a better position than they were at its beginning". People referred to raids as if they were weather, stating that a day was "very blitzy."
According to Anna Freud and Edward Glover, London civilians surprisingly did not suffer from widespread shell shock, unlike the soldiers in the Dunkirk evacuation. The psychoanalysts were correct, and the special network of psychiatric clinics opened to receive mental casualties of the attacks closed due to lack of need. Although the stress of the war resulted in many anxiety attacks, eating disorders, fatigue, weeping, miscarriages, and other physical and mental ailments, society did not collapse. The number of suicides and drunkenness declined, and London recorded only about two cases of "bomb neurosis" per week in the first three months of bombing. Many civilians found that the best way to retain mental stability was to be with family, and after the first few weeks of bombing, avoidance of the evacuation programmes grew.
The cheerful crowds visiting bomb sites were so large they interfered with rescue work, pub visits increased in number (beer was never rationed), and 13,000 attended cricket at Lord's. People left shelters when told instead of refusing to leave, although many housewives reportedly enjoyed the break from housework. Some people even told government surveyors that they enjoyed air raids if they occurred occasionally, perhaps once a week.
So let's learn from the brits, keep a stiff upper lip and pull ourselves together chums. We will beat this bastard.

Message to and from Jim Desmond



I received this message from my county supervisor yesterday. He's heard from business and they want to re open.


And I sent back this letter to his aide Donna Cleary yesterday evening:

I first want to thank you and Supervisor Jim Desmond for trying to help me and my business through the covid 19 epidemic. I think he has done a laudable job, his videos are warm and reassuring. I have a much better sense of a very likable guy who is trying his very best for our community. It is much appreciated.

I do have a question about his recent pronouncement that he has heard from North County businesses and that they are ready to open up for business again. I am sure that many do, personally I still think it is too early. If you look at the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic in San Francisco, the second wave was a real killer. I see that Fallbrook got two more confirmed cases today, we were at 7 for the longest time, then 11, now we are at 13. It doesn't seem like we are out of the woods yet to me. But I am seeing people en masse in front of the coffee shop, not taking social distancing precautions, not wearing masks, like we are now in the clear. Do you think that we are in the clear?

So my question is, was there a vote of some kind on the re-opening? Did you take an informal poll?  Do the medical professionals and epidemiologists in the county also think that now is the proper time for the move? And should businesses be the ones making this call at this time?

Please know that I am not being snarky here but sincere. I really do appreciate you but just want to be on record that I think any opening is several weeks premature.

Thanks again,


Robert Sommers
Blue Heron Gallery

I would like to know what the particular calculus was to make the push for reopening decision. Are the wishes of some business owners trumping medical professionals? Was there a poll or vote that I missed? If I get a response from Donna Cleary or Supervisor Desmond I will publish it.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Unlucky us

Why is the United States bearing the brunt of the global pandemic? Confirmed cases here have doubled to over a million in the last three weeks. What did we do wrong in our approach to the contagion and what lessons should we learn from our experience?
The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States surpassed 1 million on Tuesday, more than doubling in less than three weeks, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.The U.S., home to about 4% of the global population, has reported about one-third of the world’s more than 3 million known coronavirus infections. The first known cases of the virus in China began appearing in December. It took nearly four months for the number of confirmed cases in the U.S. to hit 500,000 on April 10. Of the more than 213,000 people who have died of COVID-19 worldwide, roughly 25% ― or about 57,000 deaths ― have occurred in the United States.
Does it sound like we are actually ready to open things up? 

Ole and Sven

Ole and Sven were drinking buddies who worked as aircraft mechanics in Minneapolis and one day the airport was quarantined and they were stuck in the hangar with nothing to do.

Ole said, "I vish ve had somethin ta drink!"

Sven says, "Me too. Y'know, I hear ya can drink dat jet fuel and get a buzz. Ya vanna try it?"

Well if you can drink bleach and disinfectant how bad can jet fuel really be for you? So they pour themselves a couple of glasses of high octane hooch and got completely smashed.

Next morning Ole woke up and is surprised at how good he feels. In fact he feels GREAT! NO hangover! NO bad side effects. Nothing!

The phone rang. It was Sven who asks "How iss you feelin dis mornin?"

Ole says, "I feel great. How bout you?"

Sven says, "I feel great, too. Ya don't have no hangover?"

Ole says, "No dat jet fuel iss great stuff -- no hangover, nothin. Ve oughta do dis more often."

Sven agreed,"Yeah, vell, but dere's yust vun ting."

Ole asked, "Vat's dat?"

Sven questioned, "Haff you farted yet?"

Ole stopped to think, "No ."

"Vell, DON'T, 'cause I'm in Iowa."

Message from earth

Thank you Jerri for sending this along. I hope that we all concur.

Local flora

I shot these blooms in Renee's courtyard this morning. So many beautiful cactus and other flowers blooming around Fallbrook right now.



The next one is from my yard, the barrel cactus again.

Domestic casualties

All week, the Veterans Administration hospitals have been really getting nailed with the Covid -19 virus, according to the websites I visit. The casualty numbers have been rivaling entire states.

www.ncov2019.live

So when I read about FEMA stealing masks meant for the V.A. I got pissed. See Trump administration hijacked 5 million masks from veterans hospitals, chief physician says. Pretty startling and not the only occasion things like this have happened.

Poor guy in Delaware really got shafted. Delaware medical supplier says FEMA seized 400,000 N95 masks; now he's out millions of dollars.

The federal government is trying to spin this stuff, saying they are going after exporters. He wasn't an exporter, he was selling to states and companies for a fair and not exorbitant profit. Guy paid four million bucks for masks and now he is out.

Seems like a really shoddy way to treat veterans and Americans in general. Then again, The Trump administration awarded a $55 million contract to a bankrupt company with zero employees for N95 masks, which it's never manufactured. Look what they are charging for masks. But what do you expect from a crony?

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Dr. Kelli Ward, the chair of the Arizona GOP and a perennial losing candidate and gadfly in that state, has reached a new low, even for her.
Washington (CNN) The chairwoman of the Arizona Republican Party is encouraging people planning to protest stay-at-home orders imposed amid the coronavirus pandemic to dress like health care workers.
Recently, several health care workers around the country have worn their scrubs and medical gear to counterprotest against people calling for states to reopen against the urgings of medical experts.Dr. Kelli Ward, a former state senator and primary care physician, tweeted on Friday that people participating in protests to end the government-imposed closures of regular business should wear scrubs and masks."Planning protest to #ReOpenAmerica? EVERYONE wear scrubs & masks - the media doesn't care if you are really in healthcare or not - it's the 'message' that matters," she wrote.Ward's comments come a few days after she questioned the authenticity of a small group of health care workers in Colorado who counterprotested against people calling for the state to reopen.
She is truly despicable.

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We need our bacon, no matter how many workers it kills. Trump plans to order meat processing plants to stay open during coronavirus.
We only wish that this administration cared as much about the lives of working people as it does about meat, pork and poultry products. Stuart Appelbaum, President Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union

Venting on the spleen

Magistrate Escalus and Constable Elbow
 meet in Measure for Measure,
 woodcut, early 17th century.
Ricardo sent me this Shakespeare quote from Measure for Measure and asked me if I knew what the bard was talking about in the last couplet:

“But man, proud man,
Dress'd in a little brief authority,
Most ignorant of what he's most assur'd—
His glassy essence—like an angry ape
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven
As makes the angels weep; who, with our spleens,
Would all themselves laugh mortal.”

Got me. I note the topical references to our current situation but believe he was focussing on the spleen and he confirmed that he was. What is the meaning to the reference?

He wrote back "Maybe spleen is used pejoratively and our having spleens prevents us from having insight or compassion? That fits in with the American cultural divide trope."

I told him that all I know about spleens is that they often get vented.

When people refer to bodily organs metaphorically it breaks my heart. But I'm a lily liver, we all know that. So pardon me while I spill my guts. But do know that I get weak at the knees with this sort of stuff, I just can't stomach it.

He's a smart guy and wrote me back.

"European Middle Ages beliefs about the humours was in some ways analogous to 5 Element theory. Those beliefs persisted much later in language and cultural than in medicine. Splenetic identified imbalance in the body and personality typology of one of the humours."

Way above my intellectual pay grade here. Note the english spelling of humours, a dead giveaway. But the five elements part is I believe a reference to the Chinese principle of Wuxing 五種流行之氣,  that is infused into much Chinese medicine, martial arts and philosophy. Wood, earth, metal, fire and water change the world through their constant interaction.

References to the spleen and ill humour apparently go back to the early1600's, according to the dictionary.

  • Express one's anger, as in Some people see town council meetings as a place where they can vent their spleen. This expression uses vent in the sense of “air,” and spleen in the sense of “anger,” alluding to the fact that this organ was once thought to be the seat of ill humor and melancholy. [First half of 1600s]

So all this talk about the spleen, what exactly does it do?
The spleen is an important organ involved in cleaning out old blood cells and helping to mount the immune response. Although it is relatively small, it carries out a variety of roles. Despite this, if it is removed, a person can carry on without it.
I would like to wind this back to Shakespeare and wrap up with some pithy quote but it is too early in the morning and I've got nothing. Sorry. But did you know that he is huge in China, some four hundred years later. He is.

I have a friend in town named Will Shakespeare. Perhaps he can shed some light on the subject. I will ask him.

Blog crazy

We all do different things to relieve stress. Some people golf, some people bake, I write. When I was going through counseling during my divorce, the therapist said that people like me took refuge in their intellect and that I was lucky, if I didn't have one I would most probably be charcoal after my unusual childhood. And not to bring wounded birds home to fix.

I have posted 291 posts during the last two calendar months and we are not quite finished. I can not remember and do not believe that I have ever been so prolific, nor so blindly partisan, frankly. Microscopic aliens land to destroy our globe, the gloves come off. Or put on, in some cases.

I was musing in the car and asked my google assistant what percentage of my sixty two year life the last thirteen years writing blogs were? The assistant told me to watch the road, that I had forgot to shave and 20.9%. That is a pretty good stretch, if I can say so myself.

When I send out the blog it is sort of a hunt and peck affair, believe it or not. Who am I harassing with my incessant blather, is it too much? Now I have my regulars that will always be on board but what about those people on the fringes, the people I never hear from, you always have to wonder if you are in the mail clogging, instant delete category? I wouldn't blame anybody honestly. Especially these last two months.

So I sent out a letter yesterday to most of the people I customarily or occasionally send to. May have forgotten a couple.
You know I send this thing out pretty reflexively. I haven't heard from many of you in many years, not sure if this is just a quick delete for you. Don't want to harass you. If you are no longer interested in reading the Blue Heron Blast will you let please me know and I will no longer clog up your inbox. No hard feelings, won't take it personally. I'm aware of what an obsessed and incessant writer I am. 
thanks and best of health. We will get through these dark times, 
Robert Sommers
I was overwhelmed with responses yesterday. Ninety eight at last count. And the count was ninety seven to one, the one guy who said stop sending was pretty polite but felt like he could not stand any more liberal harassment. Told me not to reply, he did not want a lecture and the subject was no longer open to debate. I laughed to myself. Not a bad percentage.

Of course many people never wrote back. But the people that did were emphatic that I should keep writing and keep sending. Thought they were getting a Dear John letter and that I was heaving them overboard.

What was most heartening was hearing from the people I send it to that I have never, ever heard from, who told me for the first time how much it meant to their daily life. The people I was so worried about alienating.

Thank you everybody, lurkers, distants, regulars and occasionals. I appreciate you staying here with me.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Scrub jay in bright sunlight


Stormy Passage


Short Monday takes

Have some things you readers have sent in to share with you.


Renee is growing beautiful organic lettuce. She gave us some recently and it was delicious.

© Roy Cohen 2020

Roy Cohen takes some really beautiful photographs when he is out riding his bike, which is often. Some people need a fancy camera, Roy could get great pictures with an instamatic. Because he has an eye.

Jerri has been baking biscuits. Here are two of her current favorite recipes. If you make them you have to share with me. 😄



Terry DeWald found this dead gila monster on a recent walk.

His seven year old grandson adroitly noted the decorative similarity to Native American basketry, specifically his local Tohono Oʼodham iconography.

Absolutely, kid! Great call.

Lance sent in this article which just shows you that we are not only losing people but great institutions in this pandemic, like the Noriega Hotel.

Jennifer sends an article worth considering; giver and taker states.

Estela sends a link to a Graciela Iturbide exposition and interview.

Ron and Lena finished their mandala puzzle.

Dan and Kim send an osprey pair shot from their window in Eastern Long Island.

Don Perry said that quarantining does not have to be painful. After all, this man spent forty years at home.





Millard sent this.

Nasty ride

We are at that point in the roller coaster ride where the adventure is no longer fun for any of us. We just want it to be over before we hurl.

I was talking with a friend about another friend who is starting to crack a little bit. Well off, he is seeing his life's work get jeopardized and it is completely freaking him out.

People who had reasonable expectation of being totally protected found out there is no security for almost anyone when the world falls apart and the bottom falls out.

Who could blame him? The whole world is similarly affected, unless you were one of the lucky über wealthy few who scooted off to New Zealand at the first sign of trouble. But show me a normal person who isn't scared and they are either totally clueless or harbor much more faith than I currently possess.

The people I know that are handling it the best, seemingly? The street people I know, the poor people, the people who never had much anyway. Personally, life has been pretty edgy for me too for a while, this just carries on the continuum. So I am not so traumatized and neither are they. But I do want things to get back to normal. I am getting edgy too.

We went on a provision run to Temecula yesterday. There is a sign outside Costco that states that you must wear a mask to enter. We both had ours on, hot, clearly not comfortable, but we wore them. And so did everybody else and the place was very crowded, literally hundreds of people inside.

Except one tall guy, forties, who was nonchalantly shopping with no mask in sight. Fit, looked like a fireman. And I looked at this guy and couldn't stop myself. Asked him where he got off not wearing a mask and why he didn't think the rules applied to him? He said it was none of my business, no one stopped him walking in. And then he asked me if I was at risk? I replied that I in fact was and he then said "Well, you should not be out of your home."

I was close to punching the guy at this point. I didn't. My wife was horrified at my behavior, said it was not my job to be a mask cop. Said I attacked him. But the guy was wrong, there is a state order, the sign was clearly visible and he didn't care one bit.

I would do it again. Guy was an asshole.

Yoko, because...


You consider the Beatles and there is legitimate disagreement over who might be the most accomplished musician in the band. Paul, the son of a musician, could play guitar, drums, piano and bass. He started on trumpet. Ringo was, in my opinion, one of the greatest rock drummers in the world. George, my favorite Beatle growing up, was the band's instrumentalist and played the most beautiful structured phrases on the guitar. And John once confided in an interview that he thought that he was an even better guitar player than George.

By the way, I don't think any of the Fab Four were great readers of music. Not that it mattered...

But could it be possible that the best musician of the entire clan was actually Yoko Ono? She certainly had the most classical training.

I put the Gary McFarland (1933-1971) rendition of the Beatles' tune Because up on the blog last week. I really like McFarland, a guy practically nobody has ever heard of. Composer and vibraphonist. Tragic figure, brilliant, died of a methadone overdose, way too young. Anyway I received this message from Terry D. the next day:
You hooked me again on this song Robert, bringing back memories.  In doing a bit of research I uncovered something about it I had not ever heard before. Yoko Ono was a classically trained pianist whose interests had moved towards the avant garde. One day in 1969, however, she played Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor, Op. 27, No. 2 – the Moonlight Sonata. Lying on their sofa listening, John Lennon asked her to play the chords backwards, and wrote ‘Because’ around the result. While not an exact reversal of Beethoven’s piece, it contains a number of musical similarities.
"Yoko was playing Moonlight Sonata on the piano. She was classically trained. I said, ‘Can you play those chords backward?’ and wrote ‘Because’ around them. The lyrics speak for themselves; they’re clear. No bullshit. No imagery, no obscure references."
Do you think Paul could even play the Moonlight Sonata? Or play it backwards? Possibly, but I am not so sure and it is even doubtful. Now I could not stand Yoko's musical contribution to the fabs personally but it turns out she studied classical piano for eight or nine years and also had extensive voice training. Who knew? From Wikipedia:
Ono studied piano from the age of 4 to 12 or 13. She attended kabuki performances with her mother, who was trained in shamisen, koto, otsuzumi, kotsuzumi, nagauta, and could read Japanese musical scores. At 14 Yoko took up vocal training in lieder-singing. At Sarah Lawrence, she studied poetry with Alastair Reid, English literature with Kathryn Mansell, and music composition with the Viennese-trained André Singer.[9] Of this time Ono has said that her heroes were the twelve-tone composers Arnold Schoenberg and Alban Berg. She said, "I was just fascinated with what they could do. I wrote some twelve-tone songs, then my music went into [an] area that my teacher felt was really a bit off track, and..... he said, 'Well, look, there are people who are doing things like what you do and they're called avant-garde.'" Singer introduced her to the work of Edgar Varèse, John Cage, and Henry Cowell. She left college and moved to New York in 1957, supporting herself through secretarial work and lessons in the traditional Japanese arts at the Japan Society.[70]
She met Cage through Ichiyanagi Toshi in Cage's legendary composition class at the New School for Social Research,[71] and in the summer of 1960, she found a cheap loft in downtown Manhattan at 112 Chambers Street and allowed composer La Monte Young to organize concerts in the loft with her,[66] with people like Marcel Duchamp and Peggy Guggenheim attending.[72] Ono only presented work once during the series.[70] In 1961, years before meeting Lennon, Ono had her first major public performance in a concert at the 258-seat Carnegie Recital Hall (smaller than the "Main Hall"). This concert featured radical experimental music and performances. She had a second engagement at the Carnegie Recital Hall in 1965, in which she debuted Cut Piece.[120] She premiered The Fog Machine during her Concert of Music for the Mind at the Bluecoat Society of Arts in Liverpool, England in 1967.[121]
More on Because at the Beatles' Bible. And thanks to Terry for enlightening me.


Hawks' breakfast

I love this shot, especially full resolution which you are not getting here.
I like the shine on the baby's beak.

The red tailed hawk progeny continues to grow. I watched the mother feed her brood a fresh rabbit this morning.


It was early and the light was low, I shot at a higher iso than I would have liked but I'm still happy with the shots, especially with this particular lens.

As always, click on a picture for a close-up.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Lessons of the past

Triumph of Death fresco, circa 1448; Palazzo Abatellis, Palermo, Italy. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
I have read and been sent some interesting articles regarding past pandemics. Rather than write something overarching, I think I will let them speak for themselves.

The first was about Oakland's  Jack London and a book of fiction he wrote in 1910, The Scarlet Plague.
...But London’s larger message was even more powerful and prescient: When pandemic strikes, don’t be distracted by saving your home or your work or even your economy. Prioritize safety, and saving as many humans—and as much human knowledge—as possible.



The radical poet Heinrich Heine wrote about the 1832 cholera epidemic in France. Emergence has a thoughtful piece on the lessons he took from the pandemic. And their enormous toll on humanity.
What is hysteria and what is prudence? What constitutes foolish swagger and what is necessary courage?
Daniel Defoe wrote A journal of the plague year in 1772, which is a story of the bubonic plague in London in 1665. Those that prepared and exercised suitable caution survived.
Nothing was more fatal to the inhabitants of this city than the supine negligence of the people themselves, who, during the long notice or warning they had of the visitation, made no provision for it by laying in store of provisions, or of other necessaries, by which they might have lived retired and within their own houses, as I have observed others did, and who were in a great measure preserved by that caution…
Samuel Clemons visited Europe in 1867 during the cholera epidemic. He wrote a book about his travels in Italy called The innocents abroad. He eventually contracted the disease, though not fatally. There was a decent piece about Twain's book recently in National Review, now unfortunately behind a paywall. But I did find a story on the subject from a Catholic's perspective. From Twain's pen:
When the cholera was raging in Naples; when the people were dying by hundreds and hundreds every day; when every concern for the public welfare was swallowed up in selfish private interest, and every citizen made the taking care of himself his sole object, these men banded themselves together and went about nursing the sick and burying the dead. Their noble efforts cost many of them their lives. They laid them down cheerfully, and well they might. Creeds mathematically precise, and hair-splitting niceties of doctrine, are absolutely necessary for the salvation of some kinds of souls, but surely the charity, the purity, the unselfishness that are in the hearts of men like these would save their souls though they were bankrupt in the true religion - which is ours. 
Great story on the Spanish Flu of 1918 and San Francisco at Business Insider. They unfortunately celebrated too soon and let their guard down and the results from the second wave were tragic and even deadlier. 
Spanish-flu infections seemed to dwindle by November 1918, and the city relaxed lockdown orders. When another wave hit San Francisco, much of the public — including "The Anti-Mask League" — resisted the mandates that city leaders reenacted to help blunt the spread of the disease. The city ended up with nearly 45,000 cases and over 3,000 reported deaths.
I never knew there was an anti-masker movement until Dave told me the other day. An anti mask league was formed in 1919. From Wikipedia:

Although there were some complaints from citizens during the initial period of mask-wearing, the new ordinance in 1919 galvanized more serious opposition and the Anti-Mask League was formed.[1] Members of the league included physicians, citizens,[2] civil libertarians,[3] and at least one member of the Board of Supervisors.[1] An estimated 4,000–5,000 citizens attended the meeting on January 25.[4][5] Some members of the league wanted to collect signatures on a petition to end the mask requirement, while others wanted to initiate recall procedures for the city health officer. The debate was heated.[2] Some objections to the ordinance were based on questions of scientific data while others considered the requirement to infringe on civil liberties.[6]In addition to complaints from the Anti-Mask League, some health officers from other cities also contended that masks were not necessary.[2] The San Francisco city health officer criticized the secretary of the state's Board of Health for questioning the efficacy of masks, saying "The attitude of the state board is encouraging the Anti-Mask League."[7]

Do we ever learn or are we just destined to continually repeat the mistakes of the past?

Have you seen the horizon lately?


Read an article this morning about a Palestinian doctor treating an ultra orthodox jew in Israel, finding common ground in a covid ward. And found this video.

Trouble in the Badger State

My Southern California beaches looked as crowded as Florida yesterday. I drove by the coffee shop in the afternoon and people were sitting maskless outside, practically elbow to elbow. I think this is willfully ignorant and the results are going to be painful. We are not out of the woods by any stretch.

Good article at the Washington Post this morning on the re-opening battle in Wisconsin, In Wisconsin, protesters attack stay-at-home orders as unnecessary — or a government cabal.

And a quote that sums it up in a nutshell. The "nothing but a bad flu" argument.
“I am not saying coronavirus isn’t serious,” Ezzell said. “But I have seen a lot of plagues and viruses and all kinds of junk go through in my lifetime, and I have never seen the government close itself down over something I believe I had and resembles a bad flu. It’s ruining people’s lives, especially young people who are just getting started. They need to get back to work.”
Look at the pictures in the article. You can count the masks on one hand.
“Masks are ridiculous,” said a 57-year-old man in the crowd, who declined to give his name because he said he didn’t trust the media. “This is just some attempt by government bureaucrats to scare people about something that is just the flu so that they can take away our freedoms.”
The flu again. Now where might they have heard that?

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Flowers On the Wall

Basic question

It's the testing. We lag in regards to Covid -19 testing in America, under 2% per capita. We were at 14.73 tests per thousand yesterday, Italy is nearly twice that at 28.88. Dr. Fauci says it is not enough, the President says it is plenty.
"I don't agree with him on that, no, I think we're doing a great job on testing," Trump said. Fauci's comments run counter to Trump's regular assurances that American coronavirus testing is on solid footing, including on Wednesday when he told reporters "we're doing more testing, I think, than probably any of the governors want."
Find me a single governor who says that we are doing too much testing and I will send you a crisp dollar bill. Fauci wants to double the testing in the next two weeks nationally. The case for mass testing.

Please tell me what is the political and rational calculus for the administration not testing more Americans? I'm a little slow on the uptake.


I basically despise Scott Adams, the cartoonist who draws Dilbert. He has become the toadiest of presidential asslickers. In the past he has exploited mass shootings like a ghoul. And I find his comics depressing as hell.

So I thought it extremely funny the other day after Trump weighed in on drinking bleach and U.V. light, Adams penned a twitter polemic that said that the nation needed an i.q. test and that Trump was indeed the smartest man in the room, because he had obviously read an obscure u.v. light study and knew more than the rest of us..

Which was cool, until Trump said that he was just being sarcastic and trolling the nation the next day. Will Adams ever admit that he was taken in? Highly doubtful. Because in the world of "persuasion" that he admires so greatly, perception is everything and truth runs a distant second. In ancient Japan it would be simple, he would be instructed to commit seppuku in a public place. We should be so lucky.

Cinnamon teal in the brush

Such a pretty bird. Note the blue patches on the wings.

Young red tailed hawks

There was still enough light to grab a shot of the nest on the way home. barely.


I looked again this morning, on my way in to process photographs.


The hawklings are quickly losing their nascent white and are now a buff tan in color.


I didn't bother even putting the prime lens on. At this proximity and distance there is not that much practical difference. This is as far as I can crop, handheld. Might have pushed it a tad too much.

April 24, SJWA

I left the valley to go birding yesterday, first time in about six weeks. I was starting to get stir crazy at home. Although Torrey Pines is closed (we are getting very close to falcon time) I called the State Fish and Wildlife office and my sacred spot at SJWA was open. I bought a gallon of water and headed up.

My timing was not necessarily optimal, 100° on the car thermometer and midday sun. But I would take it. I needed to get out.

It was a very sparse day, bird wise. Even though it is still April, it is as hot as hell and the birds don't like that either.

I have a routine, I put the big lens on in the very same spot on Davis Rd. every time.

As soon as I got out of the car I heard my favorite bird singer, the western meadowlark, and thought that it was a good omen for the day.

Such fine singers!


Very few hawks yesterday.

Your normal hot summer day, even though it is not yet officially the season.

Mostly coots, ducks and red winged blackbirds.  Lots of cinnamon teals.


If I had a dollar for every red winged blackbird I saw I would be a rich man.

You normally don't see them mob red tailed hawks. Too bad it was slightly out of my lens reach.

I did see some of the smaller cattle egrets and I don't normally see them there. Still no mountain bluebirds or vermilions this year, which I normally see every year.

I only saw one harrier and there are usually scads of them. I decided to put the circular polarizer on the 400mm. You lose a stop and it is going to take some adjustment to figure it out. Not happy with what I am seeing here but oh, well.

I shot this beautiful bird in my fog, not sure exactly what it is, perhaps a least bittern of some kind? I am sure somebody will tell me. Wish I had nailed it.

Looks like an ornate paper kite from a store in Japantown. I have some other shots of this bird, none perfect but all gorgeous in their own way. A fantasy bird, like a phoenix without the fiery tail.

Black necked stilt

I'm normally never at a loss for words but what does one do when confronted with an overly loquacious mallard?


I decided not to mention decimating his long island kindred at my dinner table the night before. Why even bring things like that up with a duck?

Greater yellowlegs

I drove around the place for hours, happy to be in nature, enjoying the music, the heat, the scenery and the birds. Being by myself.

Here's a butt shot of my eponymous bird, he was huge.


I decided to take my normal hike loop, see if I could find the vermilion.

I took a big swig of water and headed out. Took the lighter lens so I wouldn't kill myself with the weight.

I got about a third of a way through and suddenly wondered if it was a smart thing for a guy in my medical condition to be wandering around in plus 100° heat without water?

Thought about turning back. But segued into an acid type Billy Jack in the desert with the medicine man and the rattlesnakes fantasy.

What a perfect place to succumb. Like Neal Cassady counting railroad tracks.

Didn't see a lot on my route, which I can happily report ended splendidly and with me in fine fettle.

Convinced a wayward dragonfly to stand still for a second. "Step up to the microphone.""Hey, is this thing on?"


And listened to a serenade delivered by a fine quartet of tree swallows. I made it back to my car, no worse for wear and continued my excursion. Saw this belted kingfisher perched on a dead log in a pond.


Believe it or not, this is the first belted kingfisher I have ever seen at SJWA, let alone photographed. And he was far larger than the last one I snapped a picture of. I know it is male, lacking the chestnut belly band, but not a lot of crest showing.

To coin Shakespeare, does the wildlife photographer photoshop the shit off the sign or not, that is the question?

I drove out to the Walker Ponds for the second or third time, I forget.

Not a lot happening, no yellow headed blackbirds or falcons or any of my normal treats.

I went back to the main section and caught a nice red tailed brood hanging out.

I can clearly see two little white puffs behind them in several pictures.


I took my leave, keeping an eye on the ground for burrowing owls. You always think that you will see them at the last spot you saw them but it never happens. Saw a kingfisher twice more. Never rains it pours. You never know what you are going to see when you go to a wild place but it is always good.