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Hummer

Sunday, December 31, 2023

Bobby McFerrin - Opportunity

Catch you next year!


First off, I would like to wish you all the happiest of New Years and the best of health in the coming year. May you be swathed in oodles of joy. Unbelievable amounts of joy. So much joy that you might even find yourself wishing for a slight tad of depression, just to dull the heady, happy buzz.

I got my new Mac Studio computer setup today. Ken Seals worked on it all morning. Not a lot of glitches but a few, of course. 

My Epson scanner will no longer work with this upgraded Mac OS. Need to call them on Tuesday. My Epson ICC printer profiles have decided to disappear as well but I think I have that figured out.

New computer is super fast, amazing difference from the Intel iMac.

Jeff gave me a great monitor. We calibrated it and it worked just as promised, was within a smidge of where it was supposed to be, color wise.

Now I have to catch up on the Lightroom changes that occurred while I was unable to upgrade and try to get up to speed.

Shouldn't be a serious problem, I am a fairly fast study and a lot of the new stuff, like lens blur, is not really useful to me. 

The older I get, the more fancy new filters I seem to eschew. Tend to play it a lot straighter.

Anyhow, I won't figure it out instantly but hopefully will be able to create beautiful photographs again soon.

Yesterday we had the Escondido Christmas Bird Count. 

Once again we were out in Ramona, doing Rangeland Rd. and the Ramona Grasslands Preserve.


I have been doing it for quite a few years, honestly yesterday was not the greatest day to be out, off and on rain. Nature decided not to cooperate. We made the best of it.


As I have mentioned frequently, I am more of a bird photographer then ace birder and I am smart enough to know that.

Luckily we had Phoenix, Miranda and the two Beths along again and these expert birders more than made up for my avian ignorance.

We got 64 species. Not a bad haul on a crummy day. 

Loggerhead Shrike

We saw seven ferruginous hawks, maybe the most beautiful hawk species of them all, a bunch of red tailed and kestrels, two bald eagles in the nest, three loggerhead shrikes, a pair of vermilion flycatchers, meadowlarks and mountain bluebirds galore. 


A buffle head with a small harem. 


Shovelers engaged in the curious behavior known as rafting.

One faraway burrowing owl. I was worried about my camera getting wet and never really got in the danger zone.

Not enough light for great photographs so I was pretty useless. I tried to make up for my deficiencies by cracking jokes all day, to mixed results.

It was nice to be out, even in the light rain. Once again, I learned a lot. 

I am glad that I did not bring my expensive lens out in the rain. 

I knew it would be marginal pickings, photographically speaking and was okay with it.

Ferruginous hawk

Lark Sparrow

The sparrow freaks were a twitter over the golden crowns, I must admit they didn't do a lot for me.

Takes all kinds I guess.

We had white crowned and lark sparrows, horned larks and savannahs.

No waxwings this year, one measly phainopepla.

Saw a beautiful russula mushroom, identified by Miranda.

Beth made some really good sandwiches, the girls split a beer.

We went to Kit Carson Park afterwards and met the rest of the groups participating in the count and I saw my friend Ken Weaver who is just the greatest guy and the quintessential birder.

I met legendary birder Paul Lehman as well, didn't look at all as I pictured he would. Nice, affable guy.

I had written him last year about the red, yellow headed blackbirds, he didn't remember me.



I wish that I had done a better job but you can't win them all and sometimes you have to take what life gives you. Will be out to redeem myself soon.  I was able to hike with some really nice people.


You will notice that I have a 2024 copy write on these pics, I lost my 2023 marks when I updated the Adobe software so thought I might as well be thinking ahead and played with a couple new styles today. We will see what I land on. 

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I want to remind you that I will be at the Fallbrook Library on January 4th from 3 to 5, hanging out with my photographs, which come down the next day. Don't worry if you have not seen them, my own wife hasn't seen them. 

But if you would like to stop by, I will be there and I will have seven or eight unframed but matted prints for sale as well.

Bring my wife.

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We are going over to Dr. Neon's for New Years tonight.

klaatu barada nikto

Neon is quite the artist, sculptor and fabricator. 

We went out to lunch the other day and he showed me his new robots that he made, replete with laser visors. 

He is an amazing talent, not to mention a very smart guy, if a bit twisted. But hey, like I'm normal?

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He took me to his favorite asian buffet in Murrieta the other day, in the old Burlington center.

All you can eat sushi, for sixteen dollars. Giant prawns, place was insane. I don't see how they do it. I ate a hundred dollars worth of sushi without batting an eye. And it was good.

I want to back.

We hit the place like locusts.












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I guess this is where we bid adieu and I thank you for reading the blast and coming aboard, being part of my strange little world. 

Please be safe tonight, stay off the roads if you can, be snug and warm with your families and the people you love.

As Ringo says, Peace and Love.

Blacks Yesterday

Friday, December 29, 2023

J Street Blues

I was talking to a Jewish friend the other day, who happens to be a rabbi and also has been active in the J Street movement. J Street is interested in promoting peace in the middle east and getting an immediate cease fire in Gaza. They also talk about removing Hamas from operational control in Gaza.

And I told him that I could never sign on to the J Street mandate because Israel is dealing with an enemy that is sworn to their annihilation and destruction. 

Not that Israel has not made numerous mistakes and I am not saying that their hands are entirely clean here but I have seen videos of the hatred that is preached to the children of Gaza in their earliest grades of school, they are taught that martyrdom and violence is the way to heaven. 

Judith Weinstein
He said that is just Hamas, that can't be the entire populace of Gaza. And I asked him, how he could be so sure? And he said that he could not but he had to believe as a human being that many of the people there were innocent.

I would like to think that he is correct but I also think that he is under a western conceit and prejudice that wants to see the world a certain way. Everybody is essentially good. But I am not so sure.

The people of Gaza elected Hamas and they have strong support. Stronger than my progressive friend wants to admit.  And it is rising. I find it hard to believe that the people of the area do not know exactly where the command centers are, be they under schools or hospitals. I have been writing about Gaza for over fourteen years, feel free to look at my blogs. I have no doubt that they are committed to Israel's destruction. Once again.

The military on Tuesday published a recording of a Hamas terrorist who took part in the October 7 onslaught in southern Israel bragging to his parents of slaughtering Jews, as Israel continues to put out further details from the murderous assault earlier this month.

In the call, the man can be heard excitedly telling his parents that he is in Mefalsim, a kibbutz near the Gaza border, and that he alone killed 10 Jews.

“Look how many I killed with my own hands! Your son killed Jews!” he says, according to an English translation.“Mom, your son is a hero,” he later adds.

His parents are heard praising him during the call. Identified by his father as Mahmoud, the terrorist says he is calling his family from the phone of a Jewish woman he’s just murdered, and implores them to check his WhatsApp messages for further documentation.

Both sides, Palestinians and Israelis, know that they are in a war with each other and a proxy war with Iran and both sides are thinking about the long game.

Yehudit Waiss

Now the entire progressive left has turned a blind eye to Hamas atrocities against Israelis. Young children, kids at a concert, old people in wheelchairs, the occupiers all had it coming. Young children were kidnapped, infants as old as 10 months taken. Women raped and sexually mutilated. The U.N. agency turns a blind eye to the atrocities or praises them.

Some members of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees have expressed praise for the atrocities committed by the Hamas terror group on October 7, according to a Monday report by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) organization.

The report details social media posts by numerous Gaza- and West Bank-based members of UNRWA, which provides welfare and humanitarian services for Palestinian refugees from the 1948 and 1967 wars and their descendants. The posts by staff members, including teachers and educational staff, expressed praise or approval of the October 7 onslaught, during which thousands of terrorists murdered 1,400 people in Israel, mostly civilians massacred amid brutal atrocities, and abducted at least 245 to the Gaza Strip.

Not a fair playing field. No one to break bread with. And these guys teach for the United Nations.

Afaf Talab, another Gaza-based UNRWA teacher living in Gaza City, posted a video on his Facebook page on November 4 in which the Hamas massacre was described as the “first real victory” on the way to “liberating” all of Palestine, while praising the destruction of Israeli communities with “1,000 men in 3 hours” causing “entire cities emptied out in one night.”

Talab also posted a supplication to God on his Facebook page on October 23  which incited against Jews. The word Jews was misspelled, possibly deliberately in order to avoid automatic detection by Facebook algorithms.

“God repay [the enemies] for their evils, God make their actions be their destruction, God handle the Jews [misspelled] and their supporters, please God, Amen,” Talab posted.

Roger Waters, Susan Sarandon, Greta Thunberg, Brian Eno, Omar, Tlaib, AOC, everybody on the progressive left gets to pile on regarding the "evil Israelis." They can defend themselves but only so far.

Two articles to read this week, I hope that you can get through the paywall. ‘Screams Without Words’: How Hamas Weaponized Sexual Violence on Oct. 7 at the New York Times and Freed hostage Mia Schem: ‘I experienced hell. No innocent civilians in Gaza’ at the times of Israel.

It makes you wonder who these people really are? Hostage Judith Weinstein did not deserve to die and neither did the rest of the people who were killed, raped and sexually molested and desecrated. 

Noa Marciano
Why would Israel suspend its operations in Gaza if the balance of hostages were not released?  How should Israel have responded to the unprovoked attack that killed 1200 innocent people and took 250 hostage?

How would you react if it was your family and your country?

What is the endgame? Why is the left blind to Jewish suffering? Did these women and children deserve to die, in an attack that Hamas has promised to repeat? Do you think you can parlay with these people?

All Your Love I Miss Loving

Kingshit


This will not be the post for the meek, squeamish or easily offended. I will try to be as tasteful as possible. But I must confess that I am known in some circles for my intestinal fortitude and I mean that quite literally in this circumstance.

My effluence is so prodigious that I have destroyed several small plumbing systems and more than one industrial sized outflow. I took down the Palm Springs Convention Center's restroom facility not once but twice in my lifetime. There is a small hotel in Santa Fe called the King's Rest that still might have my wanted poster behind the front desk for the havoc I inflicted on its small but woefully inadequate sewer system.

While most aspects of my being are really rather quite normal and ordinary, my colon is obviously somewhat superhuman, and that is all I will say on that subject.

Anyway, I was talking to my friend Peter the other day. He is going up to see the Eagles on his birthday. Peter was a major rock photographer and mentioned to me that he was the only other person at the board when the legendary band cut its Greatest Hits album. He has fond memories of the occasion, obviously and well deservedly.

I mentioned to him my one near brush with fame.

Leslie had a school chum named Mitch N. who was Eric Clapton's longtime videographer. We were big fans of Cream, went back to the Madison Square Garden reunion in 2005. Anyway, not long after that, Clapton came to town and played a show at the Sports Arena with J.J. Cale, Robert Cray, Derek Trucks, Doyle Bramhall and I forget who else.

We were gifted first row center tickets to the show, which was fabulous, backstage passes and tour bus privileges and passes. That is a real big deal to a country bumpkin like me.

The show was incredible, Robert Cray stood out as the best to me but Clapton was superb.

Everything was fine afterwards. We filed onto the tour bus, very excited, but smiling and pleasant. They let everybody go through but stopped for some reason when they got to me. Man looked down at his clipboard.

"You are not allowed to use the bus bathroom, man. Orders."

I looked around, sort of bewildered. DamnSo Clapton knows too...

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Tri Tip roast with new kitchen gadget

I put the new thermometer through its paces tonight. I bought a nice grass fed "natural" tri tip at Grocery Outlet this afternoon. A little over two lbs. it ran about fourteen bucks. When I got home I salted it, wrapped it in saran and put it in the fridge for a couple hours.

I wasn't sure if I wanted to do a marinade or a dry rub and settled on the latter. I took a small bowl and added more salt, cracked pepper, paprika, cumin, chipotle, brown sugar, garlic powder, cracked chili flakes, onion powder, instant coffee and black Hawaiian salt and mixed it all up.

I took my roast out of the refrigerator and after washing my hands, patted it down dry. 

Applied olive oil and then rubbed in the dry mixture.

I was ready to start cooking. I fired up the Le Creuset griddle to medium high and added two tablespoons of olive oil.

I got an instant nice sear and turned it down to medium after about four minutes when I flipped the roast.

These cast iron enamel pans hold their heat very well on low temps.

I inserted the Chef I.Q. probe, which had been suitably charged, into the widest cross section of beef.

Care must be taken not to touch metal surfaces because the heat is too intense for the probe.

I stuck the hunk of cow onto a roasting pan and stuck it into the oven which I had preheated to 425 degrees.

I started the cook process on my phone and got instant reads on the internal temperature and the ambient temperature.

I now realize that my oven is giving me temps about 50 to 75 degrees under what I set it for. I honestly did not know.

It is old, like pretty much everything else in this old house, save my beautiful young wife.


But no problem, the thermometer guided me to the exact target internal temperature I had set, 132 degrees. 

The unit has a microphone that tells you when to turn the oven off.

I pulled it out of the oven, tented it with foil to rest and shut off the probe and the phone.

I came out with a perfectly cooked medium rare roast, just how I like it. You even get a cooking summary.

Leslie is not back from the coast yet so I have not eaten dinner. Have to make a salad.

But of course, I gave it a taste and the meat is cooked perfectly.

I am worried that I might have been a little too adventurous with the rub, will have to dial back on the coffee next time or maybe use decaf.

Hope she likes it, will let you know.

But I am sold on the thermometer.

Thanks Bill and Jean.

Go Aztecs


San Diego State plays #13 Gonzaga in basketball tomorrow. It should be really interesting. Gonzaga is 9-3. San Diego is unranked and 10 -2. Why is San Diego unranked? That is a great question.

The NCAA runner up is once again getting no respect. They beat Washington, who beat Gonzaga but it doesn't seem to matter to the east coast voters, who could care less about the Aztecs, it doesn't fit in the current blue blood narrative, the Dukes and Kentucky's that they like to slobber  over.

They would rather genuflect to their darling, an FAU team that the Aztecs beat last year in the playoffs, just like they beat Creighton and a supposedly unbeatable Alabama team.

Polls don't matter, it's how you end up.

I don't know who will win this game. That is why they play.

The Aztecs are young and have lost Mensah, a defensive stopper now employed in the NBA.

But something tells me that this team might end up even better, if Heide and Pal continue to make improvements. We could get lightning in a bottle once again. 

Waters has been a real pickup, the transfer and Pac 12 sixth man of the year from USC. They have no bad losses, lost to a very good Grand Canyon team away and BYU, always tough. 

And Jaedon LeDee is having one of the greatest seasons an Aztec has ever had, back to Malachi Flynn, Leonard and Cage. This guy is a super stud, an incredibly dominant talent and future pro and his game is peaking at the right time. I am so optimistic about this team over time.

Our young players, including Heide, Byrd and Demarshay Johnson Jr., just need minutes. It will be interesting to see what evolves. Our program is one of the greatest in the country, built on hard work and defense, not procuring one and done NIL heartthrobs. Check out their record.

SDSU boasts the third-best winning percentage in the country since the start of the 2019-20 season, is one of five schools, nationally, to win at least 19 games each of the last 18 seasons, and since 2006 trails only Gonzaga among most conference championship game appearances in Division I. The Aztecs have 14 to the 'Zags 18. In addition, San Diego State has won a conference-record 16 Mountain West championships (regular-season and tournament) and its 75.8 percent winning percentage since the start of the 2009-10 campaign is the sixth best in the country.
 

The Aztecs are ready to start conference play. No "bad losses" so far.

And after years of dominating, the rest of the league has now finally caught up. New Mexico has an NBA ready guard tandem, with both players, House and Mashburn the sons of NBA stars. The Mountain West is 6-1 against the Pac-12 this year and 16-6 against the WCC. It has five teams with at least 10 wins and five in the top 40 of NET rankings.

All good teams, top to bottom and some of them will only get better.

This should be a heck of a season!

Rubin And Cherise

Paradise by John Prine

Jumping Jack Flash, it's a gas, gas gas

Two stories caught my eye this week. 

Not content to whitewash black history, Texas is now banning books that show polluters and the fossil fuel industry in a bad light.

Texas's Republican-controlled education board voted on Friday not to include several climate textbooks in the state science curriculum.

The 15-member board rejected seven out of 12 for eighth-graders. The approved textbooks are published by Savvas Learning Company, McGraw Hill, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Accelerate Learning and Summit K-12.

The rejected textbooks included climate-crisis policy solutions, and conservative board members criticized them for being too negative about fossil fuels – a major industry in the state. Texas leads the nation in the production of crude oil and natural gas.

Although Texas adopted standards in 2021 that requires eighth-graders be taught the basics about climate change, some argue that measure does not go far enough.

Aaron Kinsey, a Republican board member and executive of an oilfield services company in west Texas, criticized photos in some textbooks as unduly besmirching the oil and gas industry during a discussion of the materials this week.

“The selection of certain images can make things appear worse than they are, and I believe there was bias,” Kinsey said, according to Hearst Newspapers.

“You want to see children smiling in oilfields?” said Democratic board member Aicha Davis. “I don’t know what you want.”

And what else is bothering them? The devil's own tool, evolution. Can't be teaching that either... Goes hand in hand with the "radical, environmentalist agenda."

Some in powerful positions have tried to sway the board to reject the textbooks. On 1 November, the Texas railroad commissioner, Wayne Christian – who oversees the state’s oil and gas industry – sent a letter to the education board’s chairman, Kevin Ellis, relaying “concerns for potential textbooks that could promote a radical environmentalist agenda”.

Also contested was the inclusion of lessons on evolution – the theory addressing the origins of human existence which the scientific community supports and religious groups reject.

The decision comes despite pleas from the National Science Teaching Association to not “allow misguided objections to evolution and climate change” to affect the adoption of new textbooks.

Good luck with that. You are in Texas.

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In other news, the natural gas companies are paying builders big money to include gas appliances, fearing that the rise of cheaper electrical solutions will cause consumers to step away from fossil fuels.

Dozens of US gas utilities, serving more than 35 million customers, offer builders and contractors incentives to keep fossil fuels in buildings, the Guardian has found.

Washington state’s NW Natural offers builders $2,000 for each new single-family home they equip with gas appliances, while Texas’s Corpus Christi Gas offers $1,000. And in Minnesota, CenterPoint Energy participates in a program that offers paid vacations to builders who outfit homes with gas.

Meanwhile, gas utility trade groups are training members to sell builders on the continued use of the planet-heating fossil fuel, including through trainings at conferences and webinars. “Stress the lifestyle benefits that come with a natural gas home,” one instructor said in a recording of a training session heard by the Guardian.

Rehumanize polluters, promote creationism in the schools and double down on fossil fuels. My job is done here.

Birds again

 




Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Hemingway's Whiskey

Carnivore


So I have a question and would love some input. And I don't need any smarmy suggestions from the vegans here. Vegetables have feelings too, you know?

I want to try my new Chef I.Q. meat thermometer in some roasts and I can't really afford a prime rib roast or ribeye. What lesser cuts of meat do you suggest for rare roast beef?  I don't want to slow cook here, I want 115° plus carryover time. Rare and red.

I have asked a couple friends and heard tri-tip, eye of round and bottom round. What else? Chuck eye? Sirloin tip? Something else? Is there a cheap but wonderful cut out there that will do the job?

Please let me know what you have had good luck with? The consensus seems to be tri tip at present. I tend to like rib eyes better than filet mignon, flavor and marbling over tenderness. But I am open to suggestions.