Thursday, December 31, 2020
I have a little time for one of those rambling end of the year letters. Have an appointment in an hour but will try to not be too circuitous and hit most of my spots.
First get the political out of the way. Don't have much but I agree with Mitch McConnell for once on this one. I am not in favor of a cross the boards 2k disbursement to all Americans. I understand why the democrats agreed with the President, to triangulate the Republican Senate. But I still think it is fiscally irresponsible.
How about a 2k disbursement to Americans that actually need it, not to wealthy ones who don't? I don't need it, nor do many of you. If you do, you do and I am in favor of helping you but if you don't it will merely increase our national debt at a time where it is already too large. Means testing? Of course that didn't help the PPP money from filling the larders of the fat cat billionaires either.
Having said that, the GOP wanting to tie the stimulus package to a Section 230 repeal bill that would allow Trump to continue to lie on social media unchallenged is ludicrous.
Big thank you to Crooks and Liars for once again posting me today.
Now that I got that out of the way let me just say that there are a lot of people I need to thank this year, stating with my wife Leslie for putting up with my crap and sticking by my side for another year. Loving me for all of my deficiencies and cooking me up some of the greatest fare a man could ever desire.
I want to thank my cancer doctors and nurses, Dr. Carol Salem and her staff for keeping me whole and not taking my bladder and prostate away. I want to thank Deb Haydis for keeping my medical insurance together. Dr. Seymour Myers for being my G.P. for over forty two years.
My friends. There are so many of you and I can't name you all without missing some but let me start. Lena, closest thing to my sister in San Diego. Ronnie. Big Dave. Ken, my photography teacher and comrade and more. Bill and Cam. Daly City Mike (or was it San Mateo, I always forget?) Melissa. Renee and Vern. Retha and Doug. Rick. Lois and Bob. My blood family. Barbara, Johnnie, Liz, Rachel, Zach. Shela. Andrew. Corrie. Shawn. Ricardo. Dominick. Horsley. Neil. Scott. Wanda. Jerri. Mary. Valerie. Pat M. Mark. Bruce. To all of those of you that love me, know that I love you too and I feel it in spades during a year like this. Don. Isak. Bob K. Linda and Joseph. Jeff. Dave. Robin. Kip. Bill. Roger. Robert. Debbie. Beth. Ken. David. Barry. Jeff and Gena. Tony, Paul, Jay, Joel, Alex and the boys at coffee. Jon. Kip. Jim. Mike. Paul B.. Vlad and Natasha. Brigitte. Jamie and Kathie. Dixon and Connie. Jennifer and Ron next door.Tom P., who always takes care of me when things are falling apart. Todd. Brian and Steph, Beth and Leven. Rosemary and April. Kim. Don S. Stephen. Dain and Sue, Steve Stoops. Doug. Terry. Jan. Jeter. Steph. Bradford. Vickie. Steve Saylor. RoxAnn. Paul. Brett. Kent. Stan and Tracy. Lynne and Richard. Ida. Millard. Sandra and Brian. Jennifer and Wicki. Helen. Wilbur. Will. Jean. Bill. Mark. Jonathan. John Morris. As I said, way too many to list and my apologies to those important folks that I forgot to mention. All of my daily blast readers, all of my lurkers, thank you!
The reality is that I have the greatest collection of pals a guy could ever ask for. You have all been there for me, in good times and bad and it is so appreciated. This year was one of the toughest in memory but I somehow got through it and so did you.
I wrote Rosemary this morning and said Goodbye and a big fuck you to the year that never was... But maybe that is unduly harsh, how about a certain sadness and farewell to those that could not survive the journey and plaudits to those of us who managed to find a way to stay safe and make it work, masks and social distancing and martial law and shitty business and all the pain in the ass parts aside.
It is amazing. We are in the midst of a titanic plague and yet we are still standing and better days are in sight. We have all found a way to somehow make it work, with each other's help of course. Let's not forget that. We will one day emerge, humbled, appreciative and my hope is with a greater love and empathy for each other.
In summation, begone with you 2020 and do not ever darken our doorstep again! Do not let the door hit you in the ass. I would like to say it was fun but it wasn't. Let's try to make 2021 a little better. Happy New Year everybody.
Wednesday, December 30, 2020
The Nashville bombing story is both horrible and surreal, almost dadaist. The Petula Clark music, now the lizard people tie in.
Investigators are exploring several conspiracy theories as potential motives behind the Christmas Day bombing outside an AT&T building in Nashville, including evidence that the bomber believed in lizard people and a so-called reptilian conspiracy, two senior law enforcement officials told NBC News on Wednesday.Since Saturday, authorities have been probing Warner’s digital devices — which one official says includes a significant trove of pictures, videos and writings — looking for any clues on what drove the man to set off a powerful bomb inside his recreational vehicle that took down communications networks and injured several people in downtown Nashville.Specifically, investigators are looking into the suspect’s previous trips to an undisclosed location in Tennessee where he would camp out in his R.V. and according to the suspect’s statements to others, hunt possible aliens, the officials said.In addition, investigators are aware of statements the suspect made about an internet conspiracy that powerful politicians and Hollywood figures are actually lizards or other reptiles who have extraterrestrial origins and are taking over society, the officials said.
You throw the crap out there and I tell you, some fool will believe it, no matter how farfetched. And some cynical politician will find a way to profit from it. Goes back to the fake Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Our collective intelligence is missing some essential component of the ability to separate fact from fiction. Critical thinking has to be at its nadir. Hence you get a sizable minority of the country believing that an election is stolen from a President without a scintilla of evidence while all the downballot GOP members were somehow still mysteriously elected.
I was accosted last month by a woman who went off on the fourteen families of globalists, basically how the Rothschilds and Soros and "those people" are really running the show. Where the hell was my invitation? Or did the Lizard People run off with it?
As a San Diego native who has been around the block a few times and shared more than my share of good meals there are a lot of restaurants of yesteryear that I miss and remember fondly, all over the county. Some fancy, some plain, all good.
I guess we start with San Diego proper, where I had my start. Blumer's, the best deli that ever was on 54th and El Cajon. Lubach's, where the elite and power brokers went to eat on Pacific Highway. The Islandia, Pernicanos, Miki San, the first place I ever had sushi, in Banker's Hill. Busalacchis on Fifth, where the Sommers family had a gold nameplate. Manny's. Tarantinos in Point Loma. My dad loved Pinos in Encinitas. Ship Ahoy in Solana Beach. Quimbys in Rancho Santa Fe. The original Charcoal House in La Mesa. The Top Shelf.
Royal Palms in Oceanside, where Fidel's now sits served excellent Italian food and was situated in a beautiful room. The Waffle House in Solana Beach, Rog-O's Pie shop in San Marcos, Champion's in Escondido. Champions was my go to breakfast place and when I was going through a tough divorce, the girls would sometimes slip a little kahlua in my coffee in the morning so I could get through the day a bit more smoothly. Sand Crab Tavern.
Le Restaurant in Carlsbad was a pretty epic spot in the 70's on the lagoon. I dated the Maitre D, Anna, for a while when I was young. Wonderful food, nice girl. The great sushi bar in Solana Beach near the trains restaurant, whose name I now somehow forget. Was an English place before. Pepper Tree in Encinitas was a family food sleeper in the Food Basket mall. Summer Breeze in Cardiff. Mountain Rose Soup Parlor in Julian. Ed's Country Kitchen. Mission Chinese Restaurant in Oceanside. Leslie and I would call them at night when we would leave the Del Mar Antique show and our duck and roast pork would be hot and sitting on the table when we walked in. What a sleeper that place was.
Another place whose name I now forget was the French Romanian place in Temecula that served delicious food and had the violin player come to your table. Long gone now. As was the restaurant that served what they decided to serve you in Rainbow that sat right where the freeway now sits near the Border Patrol checkpoint. After Tim's Tiny Acres it had an Italian name when I arrived. Mexico Chiquita was great and had mariachis. It burned down. They had a wonderful Sunday brunch as did La Costa.
Fallbrook had a chef like no other, Robert at Le Bistro. My god, where can you find Beef Wellington today? Kitchen Cupboard, where the paint store now sits. Opals. The Packing House of course. Hard to get a decent steak in Fallbrook now, you ever notice that? Scampis served wonderful food, still miss the pancakes on Sunday. I also still miss the recently departed Aydees, can't find Guatemalan food anywhere like that.
I know I am missing a few. You longtime residents like to offer anything I have forgotten?
Monday, December 28, 2020
The game was simple: Place any configuration of cells on a grid, then watch what transpires according to three rules that dictate how the system plays out.
Birth rule: An empty, or “dead,” cell with precisely three “live” neighbors (full cells) becomes live.
Death rule: A live cell with zero or one neighbors dies of isolation; a live cell with four or more neighbors dies of overcrowding.
Survival rule: A live cell with two or three neighbors remains alive.
What an amazing man and what an incredible game he developed. Pertinent on so many levels, from math and the aesthetic to the social sciences.
Held down my job, paid my bills, didn't get sick with Covid (at least not yet) and still found time to shoot 30,471 pictures, or that is how many are still sitting in my Lightroom catalogue anyway.
Like this belted kingfisher you see on the left.
I have been looking through the year's shots and there are some good ones I forgot about. Many still be processed, if I ever get around to it anyway.
Way too many shots to play favorites.
Hard to forget this chatty green heron at San Luis Rey.
But if I had to pick a peak moment, it was definitely the red tailed hawks once again nesting in my valley.
This shot, taken on March 9th at 4:11 p.m. is a highlight shot for me.
It was such a pleasure to watch the mother and father work in concert this year, nest building and raising the fledges.
I thought I had lost them forever in the sycamores and they came back.
I offer this shot with no adjustment of any kind whatsoever, straight out of the camera.
Way too many birds to pick from.
From the Committee to Protect Journalists website:
In its annual global survey, the Committee to Protect Journalists found at least 274 journalists in jail in relation to their work on December 1, 2020, exceeding the high of 272 in 2016. China, which arrested several journalists for their coverage of the pandemic, was the world’s worst jailer for the second year in a row. It was followed by Turkey, which continues to try journalists free on parole and arrest new ones; Egypt, which went to great lengths to keep custody of journalists not convicted of any crime; and Saudi Arabia. Countries where the number of jailed journalists rose significantly include Belarus, where mass protests have ensued over the disputed re-election of the long-time president, and Ethiopia, where political unrest has degenerated into armed conflict.
This marks the fifth consecutive year that repressive governments have imprisoned at least 250 journalists. Lack of global leadership on democratic values – particularly from the United States, where President Donald Trump has inexhaustibly denigrated the press and cozied up to dictators such as Egyptian President Abdelfattah el-Sisi – has perpetuated the crisis. As authoritarians leveraged Trump’s “fake news” rhetoric to justify their actions – particularly in Egypt – the number of journalists jailed on “false news” charges steadily increased. This year, 34 journalists were jailed for “false news,” compared with 31 last year.
Consider the personal danger these people and activists the world over submit themselves to on a daily basis while doing their job. We owe them a heck of a lot.
Not like they are doing it for the money.
Within the United States, no journalists were jailed at the time of CPJ’s prison census, but an unprecedented 110 journalists were arrested or criminally charged in 2020 and around 300 were assaulted, the majority by law enforcement, according to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker. At least 12 still face criminal charges, some of which carry jail terms. Observers told CPJ that the polarized political climate, militarized law enforcement, and vitriol toward the media combined during a wave of protests to eradicate norms that once afforded journalists police protection.
Sunday, December 27, 2020
It is hard to think of a favorite picture of mine from this year. Because like most of the planet, I never got out very much. But there was that week in early January, before we knew much of anything about the weird contagion from Wuhan called Covid 19 or social distancing when I played hooky and hid out pretty much alone in Yosemite with the full moon.
I hadn't seen my friend in about a year. He loves New York sports teams so I kidded him about the sorry Knicks. "I don't care. I won't watch anymore professional sports because of all that political stuff. BLM and that crap," he said.
I tried to switch topics and not inflame a holiday conversation. "Well, did you watch the Queen's Gambit? What a great series that was."
"Nope." "I won't watch anything made in Hollywood. Damn libs trying to destroy our country."
He then went on to tell me that he had been a man in a trance until the great Donald Trump had opened his eyes to what "those people" were doing to our country.Our leader was like Moses at the Red Sea, delivering his people from the vast liberal conspiracy and the lamestream media.
I really didn't want to go there and I didn't. Minds don't change and there are obviously a lot of people just like my friend out there who bought into whatever the President has been peddling, which seems to change every day. Now he has the GOP in a vice, he is deriding a stimulus package that was his own conception, which his own troops in turn bought into. Left Mnuchin holding the empty bag.
Guy will pull the rug out from anybody, screw his own grandma if he has to. His only care is himself. Why does he want to get rid of Section 230 and tie it into the stimulus bill? Because he is finally getting called on his lies and he hates it. He want to be able to continue to lie with impunity, He in turn has been useful to the conservatives these past four years but is now a glaring reminder of their shameless hypocrisy.
Funny they have been spending like sailors on leave for four years but now with a democratic administration on the horizon Senator Lindsey Graham and Senator Pat Toomey want to talk about the horrible debt again and tie Biden's hands. After being too afraid to utter a peep for the last four years, even while his minions casually threaten to invoke martial law. And every judge in the country, conservative or liberal, has thrown his baseless vote theft accusations out of court.
Be that as it may, I just wanted to talk basketball. Or anything but politics. I ended up leaving instead, going home to check on my water line repair.
Trump led with his elbows for the last four years. There is guaranteed to be a Newtonian equal and opposite reaction, it is a law of physics and people don't much like getting kicked in the teeth. The huge number of people who would rather believe that their election was stolen from them without a scintilla of evidence are not going anywhere either. We are destined for more rancor and more Trump like characters in the days ahead.
Will not be pretty. And people like my friend will continue to be angry and bitter, convinced by a selfish madman, with no basis in fact, that the election was somehow stolen from them. The kraken has been unleashed.
Saturday, December 26, 2020
|Red shouldered hawk|
By the way, in case you haven't noticed, I must have had a lot of time on my hands to type this year. I blew through my previous blogpost total, which was 1131 in 2013.
Passed that a few days ago and still posting as we speak.
Yay me and thanks for reading.
|22 & 1/4" diameter|
|Chambered Ammonite 7"x7" $350.00|
Because of Covid 19 concerns, like many of us, their wings have been clipped this year. Their livelihood, like mine, is heavily dependent on shows and there have been no mineral or antique shows for over a year. Who knows when things will be safe again? They need to move some merch.
Leven and Beth have a surfeit of beautiful table tops for sale at extremely discounted prices. They are chock full of ammonites and trilobites and all sorts of other kinds of prehistoric creatures. They are simply gorgeous and they come in a large variety of colors and sizes. Every table is a unique look at the distant past.
|21 & 1/2" x 30 & 3/4"|
|$35 - 7 x 5" covered box|
|Polished bookends - $30|
|23 x 34"|
Friday, December 25, 2020
Still Saturn is not too horrible and at least you can see one of Jupiter's moons. I hope that I will be ready in 800 years when it happens again to do a better job for you. Stick around...
Maybe you are not quite sure how to use it but are too embarrassed to say so.
So you will either plod along in an automatic or program mode and let the camera make all the significant choices for you or worse still, will put it on the shelf and never use it at all.
I can't tell you how many people have asked me to help them figure out their cameras. A lot.
Never fear, I would like to help you. As good as your cell phone might be I want to share with you the joy that can come from a more hands on photographic experience with an actual camera.
I would like to offer a free one time zoom class for beginners and teach you the basics of photography including the exposure triangle, priority modes and basic camera settings, irrespective of brand. We can talk about shooting portraits and landscapes and the best ways to approach both of them.
The sooner you stop relying on automatic settings the better and more satisfying the whole experience will be, believe me.
It's not as hard as you might think it is.
Although there are many types of cameras out there, digital photography still comes down to three things, the size of the aperture opening, the speed of the shutter and the strength of the signal you choose to receive from the camera sensor. By figuring out the first two variables you can get proper exposure, decide how you want to portray your depth of field for a particular image and also what kind of background you want to achieve.
Let me demystify the experience for you and try to make it simple. Later we can talk about things like post production, the rule of thirds and basic composition. You will leave the first class with the ability to take both a closeup photograph of a person and a landscape.
Email me if you have an interest in this and if enough people are interested we will set a date. We will try one session and see how it works out. All that I ask is that you have a notebook handy, camera in hand and read the manual for your specific camera prior to the class and be familiar with what your particular buttons do beforehand.
Later the local folks can all meet up for a masked hike at Los Jilgueros Preserve and we can put our newfound skills to work together during a short walk. If you find the class helpful you are encouraged to make a small donation to the charity of your choice or buy me a shrimp and garlic skillet at Rosas's.
I didn't get a lot of gifts this year but Cam did send me this festive holiday sweater. I wouldn't even post it normally, but Big Mike up in Seattle can't get pictures on his flip phone so I will risk offending the rest of you by posting it here. Lighten up, earthlings! This will only take a yoctosecond.
Four experts and four days later, I found it myself, but it was admittedly a bit of a sleeper. Located behind my pasture fence, next to the neighbor and my perimeter fence, the break was slowly stating to bubble up. I had to cut through a few obstructed trees and shrubs to find it.
A toyon root had pulled an inch and a half main line pipe apart but only so far as to lose pressure, the water was still mostly flowing into the pipe. Hence a trickle of water and no pressure. I would have thought that more water would have shown but finding one gopher tunnel can cause the stuff to disappear in a hurry.
I dug a large hole in the mud. Hard to flex main line and you need some room because I wanted to do it exactly one time. My buddy Todd showed up and dug a trench to lose the standing water. I went to Joe's when it opened, Grangettos being closed for the holiday, and bought couplings and pipe for 1", 1 & 1/4" and 1 & 1/2" pipe, wanting to go into town exactly one time and also bought the commensurate sizes of pipe.
Tom called from Temecula, he is a master pipefitter. He had bought an old radio on the internet and said he wanted to swing by. He did the honors, showing us a neat trick with primer and the dremel tool to make large pipe repairs much easier. I bought the heavy gray glue and primer instead of the red hot blue, makes a better joint on main line and decided to give it a longer time to bond before turning the water back on, in this case about ten hours.
Afterwards and during the wait, my good friend Don was kind enough to let me come over and take a shower at his place. Leslie caught one at the Kinslers. Thanks all!
Anyway, my present to me this year is the ability to once again take a shower and a hot bath. Scorpio is a water sign and such things our very necessary for our engines to run. Four days without water is a mother and my mood was sinking. My stench was palpable. When I walked into the room people were giving me a wide berth. Dishes were piling up in the kitchen and the mood in the house was dark. A huge fire nearby, I didn't want to have to face it without water, my unfortunate friend Ron lost his house last month when SDGE cut the power off to his well and he had no way to protect himself and fight the flames.
Visions of replumbing my whole ranch were swirling in my head like sugarplums. I am sure my water bill after this episode will be bad enough. Unfortunately, I never got word from FPUD that I had a leak because the rf equipment on my meter was broken so maybe they will do a little negotiating if I am lucky.
My only solace from the entire event was a new idiomatic Mexican saying I learned from Tom, who is half hispanic. Con paciencia y saliva el elefante se un culo un hormiga. Si.
Thursday, December 24, 2020
I have a bag of clothes and heart medication in the car, just waiting for the knock. Will grab the cats. Two fire trucks just rolled down the road but it might have been a medical emergency. Stay tuned.
Wednesday, December 23, 2020
Couple the covid denial and subsequent onslaught with talk of martial law and a totally inept President refusing to leave office and you got yourself one peach of a year. And throw in another bout with a very dangerous cancer on a personal level, mix and stir.
A year when certain people in a year of masks were totally unmasked and found to stand for absolutely nothing.
Like losing John Prine wasn't bad enough.
And a lot of reaction has been completely inane, covid conga lines, maskless caroling, huge gatherings and prayer services, these sorts of activities never ever seem to end well.
The last thing you usually see is somebody hooked to a ventilator telling you that he or she should have taken things more seriously. Or they tell you it is just a bad spot of the flu before they finally pull their eyelids down.
Anyway I don't have any answers. I didn't sleep well last night worrying about my water situation, which is going on the fourth day without. The leak whisperer came out, had no clue, tons of water going through the meter and not showing up anywhere. Ditto Tom, who knows and has worked on my system for years.
I guess I will just watch money pour down the drain, leave the system on and hope that it bubbles up somewhere. So I am depressed. But I am healthy, as is my wife, and there are a lot of people with way worse problems. Have to keep telling myself that but I am starting to stink from the lack of regular hygiene.
I guess the Hopi go months without water, what's the name of that dry desert in Chile? The Atacama? Driest spot on earth and somebody probably lives there and never complains. And look at me.
Do you have a name for 2020? I would like to hear it. I was thinking the year of marginal haircuts but it doesn't quite capture the magnitude of the dread. Plus, Leslie cuts my hair and I don't want to piss her off. They're pretty good really but now at some sort of Einsteinian tipping point. Think Dr. Zorba if you are old enough.
Course next year could be even worse. I think I will go hide under my blanket.
Speaking of sleep, interesting article on Covid and sleep over at the Atlantic. Might be time to pump the melatonin. Read it.
Tuesday, December 22, 2020
I met my friends out at SJWA this morning. I was up at five and we decided to meet early and catch some morning light. I don't have time to go through all my shots but here are some nice peregrine pics, if I may say so myself. Probably could use a little post production help but I have no time.
Anyway, water issues notwithstanding, it was a beautiful day to be out in nature. I wish that I could have stuck around.
If I had my druthers it would not be a tough choice.
I shot this raptor at 800mm with my 2x converter. Really not too bad.