Rapt attention

Monday, February 28, 2022

Slow it down

The new masking tools in Lightroom have allowed me to make some improvements in processing some of my older shots. I took this shot in the late evening, soon after I bought my Sigma zoom lens. 

I shot it at a much slower speed than I customarily shoot hummingbirds, 1/1000th of a second, ƒ8. I usually shoot them at least 1/2500th of a second, wide open. Hummingbirds beat their wings at somewhere between 50 and 80 beats a second, depending on the species, so you have to shoot fast to catch them.

This Anna's hummingbird is the fastest of all the species. From Birdsandblooms.com:

The swiftest hummingbirds fly extremely fast. Christopher James Clark, who has done extensive hummingbird research at the UC Berkeley, discovered that during its courtship dive, the male Anna’s hummingbird folds its wings in to its sides. It achieves an average maximum velocity of approximately 90 feet per second. This is the highest speed every recorded for a vertebrate, relative to size. Even more incredibly, as it pulls up, with wings spread, the bird experiences centripetal accelerations nearly nine times greater than gravitational acceleration.

In short, hummingbirds can fly faster than a fighter jet, relative to size. They can withstand g-forces that would make the average person black out.

I like the shot because it did not freeze the wings. Instead we are left with a staccato like burst of gradated color and movement, which plays perfectly with the available light. I would not have been able to capture this effect with a faster speed.

Glance to the past

Tom Pecore brought me this picture of Leslie and my wedding celebration from May 15, 1994. We were married at our ranch, having met four years prior. My late brother David (Buzz) is in the foreground leading the toast. I miss him so. It makes me sad to think of those loved ones who are no longer with us. 

Garry Cohen is on the left border and I think about him everyday. One of my closest friends, struck down by pancreatic cancer. My mother Adelle is to the left of me in purple. I don't recall the couple to the right, they might be relatives of Leslie.

Leslie looks resplendent in a dress she designed herself after a 1920's lace dress she once owned. It was a beautiful wedding and I am proud and happy to still be married to the beautiful woman that I love.

Ukraine goings on

I guess we should not be surprised by the vicious Putin's perfidy. Witness his killing of Litvinenko, Umar Israilov and Yandarbiev and a host of other defectors and enemies as well as independent journalists like Daniel McGrory.

He is an evil man. It is my fervent hope that Ukraine and a united west will cause him to rethink his expansionist plans of conquest. His toying with the idea of unleashing a nuclear strategy might just ultimately turn Moscow into a parking lot.

There is an interesting article at Foreign Affairs that suggests that Putin needs the West quite a bit more than the West needs Putin, The Kremlin’s Gas Wars,

In theory, the European Union has a significant advantage in its economic relationship with Russia. Russia relies on European markets for more than half of its exports, whereas the European Union sends only five percent of its exports to Russia. This disparity reflects a difference in size—the EU’s economy is ten times larger than Russia’s—and differing exposure to international trade. Russia is poorly integrated into the global economy and, despite the buzz around a growing rapprochement between Beijing and Moscow, it would have difficulty replacing lost EU export revenue with revenue from Chinese markets.

Conversely, no EU country sends more than 20 percent of its exports to Russia. Although Bulgaria, Estonia, and Lithuania are most exposed to trade shocks, their exports to Russia account for only three, three, and six percent of their GDP, respectively. Russia is even less important for large economies such as those of France, Germany, and Italy, accounting for between one and two percent of their total exports. Any potential Russian countersanctions targeting EU imports would therefore have only marginal effects.Energy is a different story, however. Natural gas has long been recognized as Russia’s most potent economic leverage in Europe, and it remains so despite the EU’s efforts to reduce its reliance on Russian supplies. Moscow’s ability to exploit that reliance could be exacerbated by wide disparities among member states’ needs. Belgium, France, and the Netherlands import less than ten percent of their natural gas from Russia; Spain and Portugal import none. Germany, by contrast, relies on Moscow for about half of its natural gas imports, and Italy around 40 percent. For Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, and Slovakia, the figure is roughly 60 percent, and for Poland, 80 percent. Bulgaria relies on Russia for all of its natural gas.


How the American Right Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Russia - NYT


I thought that this was a stupid kerfuffle - CBS Journalist Apologizes For Saying Ukraine More 'Civilized' Than Iraq, Afghanistan. Talk about political correctness. The Muslim countries are offended because a journalist spoke the truth from Kyiv.

“This isn’t a place, with all due respect, like Iraq or Afghanistan, that has seen conflict raging for decades.”

“This is a relatively civilized, relatively European — I have to choose those words carefully, too — city, where you wouldn’t expect that or hope that it’s going to happen,” he said.

The guys is absolutely right of course. They don't kill people for being gay in the Ukraine. Or cut off their own sister's heads for marrying out of the religion or daring to go to school or work. Or blow up the adherents of the religious sects that they dislike. Or turn themselves into suicide bombers. They even let their women drive cars by themselves in the Ukraine, imagine that? It has nothing to do with skin color but a lot to do with cultural savagery, I am afraid. I think the guy gets a pass.

Kudos to the thousands of brave Russians who are marching against this war and risking imprisonment. https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-vladimir-putin-europe-arrests-moscow-cf5dda5528937de907f8916820cfab75


Fiona Hill on Putin

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Friday, February 25, 2022

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Arch Rock Sunset, Joshua Tree (with regards to Raymond Jonson)

The Battle is Over (But the War Goes On)

Joshua Tree


One of the problems I have been facing in the last year is recovery time. I just can't bounce back from a week on the road like I used to. I am exhausted but still trying to be productive every day. Not working really well today. But it's not just me. I talked to Warmboe today and he is beat as well. That is why I am trying to forsake back to back shows, they are just too brutal.

Too tired to work also means too tired to write. I have some things to say about Ukraine but don't want to be too half assed about it while I am deplete. But I will say that events bring me back to something my 10th grade history teacher Mr. Reagan taught me; countries are as moral as economically feasible. And so are people. And it often turns into; not very.

So whether it is countries in Europe willing to overlook Russian intransigence so their gas supply doesn't get shut off or the other golfers mad at Phil Mickelson for accidentally telling the truth about Saudi barbarity, the answer is the same. Don't expect humans to do the right thing or to stick up for the little guy against the bully or ask if the holocaust can happen again because of course it can and it probably will. Because we are usually only good when it fits our selfish purposes.

What was the Napoleon Bonaparte quote that I recently read and mentally footnoted; A man will fight harder for his interests than for his rights. Or for other people's rights. Pretty much.


Still I have to chuckle when I see the convolutions regarding the current invasion amongst my Republican brethren. Steve told me that he could never back Liz Cheney because she is a war monger. This is a position first laid out of late by Rand Paul and I guess further back to Neville Chamberlain. The isolationist appeasers. I am old enough to remember a time when it was the liberals who championed peace at all costs. Now the scripts have flipped and the GOP is becoming the antiwar party.

Would humanity have the gumption and strength to stop a Dachau or Birkenau today or a Killing Fields for that matter? Very doubtful. Is anybody worth saving if it will cut into our cushy lives?

Of course we have the Tucker Carlsons and Laura Ingrahams giving Vladimir the greenlight and a disgusting ex President who claims that the invasion is a smart move for a despot who senses weakness in his neighbors. Or the fault of his successor for not projecting enough strength. He claims to be so good at everything but forgets that he couldn't deliver on the most basic promises during his administration, even with a Republican congress, on things like fixing health care and a host of other promises that went nowhere. A study in incompetence. And lest we forget, the man who withheld $400 million dollars from the Ukraine in military aid because they refused to participate in a scheme to defame his political adversaries.

Does the GOP even believe in right and wrong anymore? Or do any of the rest of us for that matter? And how far will we go out on a limb for our friends? These questions are largely rhetorical, I frankly don't know.

Anyway, that is about it for me. I am played out. By the way, I free handed my title script today for the hell of it. First time, doesn't look too bad, if I may say so myself. Considering I can hardly write cursively any more.

take care,


Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Uncivil War

Scribe o' flab


I bought a new iPhone yesterday, my old SE wasn't holding the charging cable very well so I splurged on a 12. Even though it is not the newest and best, the camera should be a definite upgrade. The guy at ATT said that the SE was discontinued, might be a lie but whatever.

Anyway I do have a late new years resolution. See these chubby cheeks? I need to lose thirty lbs. in the worst way apparently.

I saw my buddy Don who moved to Florida about six months ago yesterday and he says that I have really pigged out. Shirts are definitely tighter. Hearing it from a friend who hasn't seen me in so long really sealed the deal.

Diet starts right now.

Palm Springs Mod 2022

I am back from the Palm Springs Modernism show. 

It was successful for me, not my greatest ever but certainly very respectable. 

There was more good art this year but perhaps less decorative furniture although there was plenty.  A few grouchy people complained about people that were no longer there but if they actually bought from them instead of treating it like a museum showing they would most probably still be exhibiting!

All in all, it was a very well attended and received show, quite attractive and I think most people did rather well.

It was a long week but one with little trauma or problems. Driving down over the mountain I saw more snow in Anza than I have seen in fifty years, what a treat! Winter wonderland. 

Windstorm on the Interstate on Monday made things a little trickier, down to one lane, no porters, made pack out a bitch, had to stay an extra day. Storm was coming and I didn't want to drive tired and certainly not back over the ice and snow on the hill.

Thankfully my friends Frank and Joy put me up for the night.

I had one not so funny moment. An old business partner showed up mask less. He is a tad over eighty and told me that he isn't afraid of covid because he keeps himself in such good shape. I smiled and inquired after his wife.

"Oh, she is home sick, I think it might be covid." I literally jumped back a foot and grabbed my mask and put it on as fast as I could. J is a wonderful guy but it was so utterly clueless and nonchalant.

Of course, the coolest thing there is the crowd. 

Here are some random shots of the people and booths, hope that you enjoy them.

One of the real pleasures of the show for me was having a booth next to the legendary designer Charles Hollis Jones. 

Charles is a pioneer in Lucite and Acrylic, had many important commissions including work for Tennessee Williams and was a genuine and humble man. 

Great to talk to him and see his beautiful work!

I've said it a thousand times before, I am more Flintstones than Jetsons, classic than futurist, still my material manages to fit in and they don't seem to mind my presence too much.  Room for all of us in this great big world.

Monday, February 14, 2022

Xiao Yan

I have permitted myself a couple of new distractions the last few months. I have been watching Chinese magical martial arts television dramas. Might be a bit juvenile for you, I myself enjoy them.

This is a good one, the first episode, you can binge for a few weeks if you want to catch up. Easiest way is to go to Drama Forest and find the playlist.

The first series I watched was called demi gods and semi devils, based on a 1962 novel by Jin Yong. It tracks three separate heroes, Duan Yu,  Qiao Feng and the diminutive monk Xu Zhu and is set in the Northern Song dynasty of 960- 1127. 

There were several screen adaptations, I really like this one that I have linked, which I have now finished. I get up early in the morning and watch the new offerings from China. Hooked.

Pick up your crap

One of the tougher things about growing up is that you learn that nobody wants to pick up after you after you reach a certain age.

This epiphany usually occurs in childhood or adolescence but I guess it takes longer for some.

So I sincerely wish that whoever left it there would understand that the appliance (grill) that they left by the dumpster is not going to mysteriously vanish on its own volition. 

You pulled it out, you take it to the dump.


Don't turn the alley behind my shop into your personal trash can. This once stainless eyesore has sat there long enough.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

I'm A King Bee

I heard this on the radio last night and my jaw dropped. I had never heard of the Australian guitar player before. He is pretty amazing. Give it a listen. And definitely turn it all the way up!

Serpentia de la sur

Lourdes Maldonado. José Gamboa. Margarito Martínez. Heber Lopez. Roberto Toledo. 

These are the names of the journalists who have been killed recently in Mexico. Two more were injured but fortunately survived horrible attacks. These were heroic people, good people, courageous writers and photojournalists who knew that they faced dire consequences for being honest and battling corruption in their country and yet continued to speak the truth.

José Gamboa

Mexico is such a mess. Five journalists have already been killed there in this very short year. Forty three days. And last year was even worse. 

At least three of those killed this year had been enrolled or in contact with a $23m-a-year federal program to protect journalists and rights defenders. Lot of good that did.

Margarito Martinez

Heber Lopez
So what does the President of Mexico, Lopez Obrador do to respond to their concerns? He attacks journalists for writing about his son.

López Obrador’s attacks on the media come at a time when Mexican journalists are facing an unprecedented wave of violence.

In just the first 41 days of the year, five journalists have been slain. They include Heber López, the director of an online news site in Oaxaca state who was killed Thursday, and Lourdes Maldonado López, an investigative journalist in Tijuana killed last month.

Before she was shot to death outside her home, Maldonado attended one of the president’s news conferences to plea for help.“I fear for my life,” she told López Obrador, explaining that she was locked in a labor dispute with one of his political allies, Jaime Bonilla Valdez, the owner of a media company that had once employed Maldonado.

Lourdes Maldonado
I do not trust Mexico. And I am sure that the corruption starts all the way at the top of the government, the head of the snake. Life is seemingly very cheap down there.

Once regular visitors, we will no longer travel to Mexico. Why support a country that treats its own this way?


Today the United States announced that it was suspending the importation of Mexican avocados after a United States Agricultural Inspector was threatened.

The U.S. government suspended all imports of Mexican avocados “until further notice” after a U.S. plant safety inspector in Mexico received a threatening message, Mexico’s Agriculture Department said in a statement.

“U.S. health authorities ... made the decision after one of their officials, who was carrying out inspections in Uruapan, Michoacan, received a threatening message on his official cellphone,” the department wrote.

The import ban came on the day that the Mexican avocado growers and packers association unveiled its Super Bowl ad for this year. Mexican exporters have taken out the pricey ads for almost a decade in a bid to associate guacamole as a Super Bowl tradition.


Roberto Toledo

Only two % of the murders in Mexico ever get solved. Ever wonder why?


Friend of mine's neighbor had his expensive car stolen out of his garage in Bonsall last week. There have been a rash of thefts recently, people are casing neighborhoods. Obviously a cartel. The Mercedes was tracked to Mexico the very next day. What a surprise!


1972 people were murdered in Tijuana last year. Surprisingly, this was a down year for murders there. It had been over 2000 and 2200 the two previous years. Marco Ernesto Islas Flores, 31, the son and nephew of journalist, was also killed on February 6, 2022, outside his home in a premeditated hit. There have already been 150 murders in Tijuana this year.

Marcos Ernesto Islas Flores
A pox on a country that thinks so little of its own citizens and a government that, at best, turns a blind eye to the cartels.

Postscript: Not sure if you can breach the paywall but Nora sent me this interesting article by Wendy Fry, Journalist murders shine a light on blurred role of ‘communicators’ in Mexico. Carrying on in his family tradition, Marcos Ernesto Islas Flores was an "online communicator." Sadly, this probably sealed his fate. I say he was a journalist, for whatever my opinion is worth.

Friday, February 11, 2022

Wishing you all a Superb owl Sunday!


Beware the scam artists...

I just got a funny phone call. A hispanic woman told me that she was from So Cal Edison and that the shop at my address was two months late on its electric payment and was about to get disconnected.

I thought for a moment and knew that I had written a check and was sure that I was not in arrears. 

Then a light did go off. I told her that I knew she was a scammer as I was a San Diego Gas and Electric customer and not an Edison client and not to bother me anymore. 

She called me a motherfucker and hung up.

Redwood shots

One of my friends and blog readers in Santa Barbara, Carol V., has been unfortunately having some medical issues and can't get out much anymore. 

She asked me for some pictures of redwoods. 

I haven't shot a lot of redwoods pictures but do have a few.

I am going to look around in my files and try to repost some of my forest shots for her.

Roosevelt elk - Prairie Creek