Thursday, August 27, 2015

First NFL Season Without My Familiar

For those who used to play D&D when they were kids you know that a Familiar is a cat, or bird, or monkey, lizard, rat, or little demon or other creature who keeps you company, hangs around, warns you of danger, can even help fight off anyone who is attacking you, or at least prevent the attacker from surprising or ambushing you.  Our cat who succumbed to cancer last May was my familiar for more than 2 decades.  Dr Desert Flower's familiar was our charcoal gray cat that died of pancreatic cancer in 2013.  She often slept in the bed with DDF when I was traveling, snuggled up to her on the couch, and hung out with her.  Her older sister, our home's very first pet in our very first FHA starter house in Bloomington after renting in apartments for 7 years, was my familiar.  She'd sleep on my chest when she was younger.  And as she got older, she'd sit on the chaise lounge part of the sofa, reserved for her, at my feet, so she could demand petting and be close to her alpha male as it pleased her to do so.

During NFL games, when Da Bears were losing and Grossman, or Cutler, Orton, Chandler, Miller, Krieg, Kramer (man, the Bears have had some terrible quarterbacks who perform remarkably erratic & inconsistently) were spiking the ball because they don't know how to call a play-action pass, or throwing interceptions, or calling time outs because they are not made of the same material that a Manning, Rodgers, Marino, Staubach, or Elway were made out of... I would sometimes (frequently) shout loudly (and often in a disgruntled manner) at the TV, making a comment about my dissatisfaction at the terrible play I had just witnessed.  Meanwhile, Robbie Gould would consistently kick points up on the board, no questions asked.

When I would make a vociferously indignant comment, my familiar would LOOK at me, with a "WTF?" look... "can't you see I was lounging peacefully here at your feet? Do that again...  and I'm leaving, so you won't be able to pet me or bask in my glorious presence."  Invariably, another QB sack later, I'd let out another exclamation, and sure enough, my cat would get up and leave the room, finding a quiet resting spot.  This is the first season in 21 seasons, that she's not here.  We have a little box of her ashes with a sweet little cast paw print of her front paw - the one she'd hold up and out-stretch to you if you were not petting her enough - on the lid.  But her physical presence is missed.

I actually found a posting here, back in 2009, about this same subject:
Funny...  I used to drink cheap beer back then....  huh?

I try not to think about it...  and if I do think about it, to focus on the positives, and what a long and comfortable life she had being part of our family for more than 2 decades.  Writing this post, I think, is an attempt at catharsis... so that I can perhaps make it though the Fall and Winter without going into another severe melancholy... I don't know.  It's not just as simple as "get another cat", since I've found out I am terribly allergic to cats (9 months of allergy shots in 2008 didn't work) and there's no such thing as an entirely hypoallergenic feline.  And I don't have the time or patience for a dog, to have to constantly walk them and pick up their waste after them and keep them safe from coyotes and raptors.  You can't keep a dog exclusively inside, it is cruel & difficult, and it is against a dog's nature to remain completely inside.  And picking up the fresh warm fecal matter of a mammal is incredibly repulsive to me. "You get used to it" ... no, I don't think I would, just as "2 girls one cup", Mr Garrison's "glass bottom boat", and finding all of my neglegent neighbors' dogs' excrement on the corner of my yard near the side walk have proven to me that mammalian fecal matter thoroughly nauseates me.  Cleaning a litter box, every other day, when the litter has masked the odor...  that's easy.  It never involved me having to pick up warm poop with a bag over my hand.

Thanks, sweet kitten, for all of the happy memories.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Veracity - Women Over 40

I heard this today... and found it to be uncannily accurate.  The quote was misattributed to Andy Rooney, when it is actually Frank Kaiser...  but it is still very true:

Women Over 40

As I grow in age, I value women who are over 40 most of all. Here are just a few reasons why:
An older woman will never wake you in the middle of the night to ask,"What are you thinking?" She doesn't care what you think.
If an older woman doesn't want to watch the game, she doesn't sit around whining about it. She does something she wants to do. And it's usually something more interesting.
An older woman knows herself well enough to be assured in who she is,what she is, what she wants and from whom.
Few women past the age of 40 give a damn what you might think about her or what she's doing.
Older women are dignified. They seldom have a screaming match with you at the opera or in the middle of an expensive restaurant. Of course, if you deserve it, they won't hesitate to shoot you if they think they can getaway with it.
Older women are generous with praise, often undeserved. They know what it's like to be unappreciated.
An older woman has the self-assurance to introduce you to her women friends. A younger woman with a man will often ignore even her best friend because she doesn't trust the guy with other women.
An older woman couldn't care less if you're attracted to her friends because she knows her friends won't betray her.
Women get psychic as they age. You never have to confess your sins to an older woman. They always know.
An older woman looks good wearing bright red lipstick. This is not true of younger women or drag queens.
Once you get past a wrinkle or two, an older woman is far sexier than her younger counterpart.
Older women are forthright and honest. They'll tell you right off you are a jerk if you are acting like one. You don't ever have to wonder where you stand with her.
Yes, we praise older women for a multitude of reasons. Unfortunately, it's not reciprocal. For every stunning, smart, well-coiffed hot woman of 40+, there is a bald, paunchy relic in yellow pants making a fool of himselfwith some 22-year-old waitress.

(Note: I own no yellow pants, and I leave my waiters and waitresses tips unmolested & without flirtation.  Also, note, I've never been shot)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Dappled Sunlit Anna's

Outside of our kitchen window, I have hung a nectar feeder.  One old Anna's hummingbird has taken to roosting in the adjacent pygmy date palm whose fronds cover the feeder.  The sunlight that filters down through the fronds leaves a dappled effect over him.

Each of these photos is the exact same Anna's male hummingbird.   He's not afraid of me as I shoot his photo through he window.
He takes REALLY long blinks as well... in the middle of the afternoon
He's often itching - I suspect mites, and many birds get - and he's only 1/2 heartedly chasing away challengers who are smaller, younger, and more vigorous than he is.  (yes, I can relate, at this point in my life)

If he passes from this mortal coil (many hummingbirds live only 2 years) I will bury him in my back yard...  making sure not to catch any of the mites he might have.  That's all I need...  to add to my own itch.

The Holy Grail of images or videos, would be one like this...  if I could ever get the perfect angle:
(this link was shared with me by a close friend who loves hummingbirds as much as I do; merci)

Sunday, August 9, 2015

No egrets, No tears, No one else

While I was doing yoga the other day above Batiquitos Lagoon, I spotted a cluster of white dots in a far away tree.
The bench in front of which I do yoga above the lagoon, as seen from across El Camino Real in front of the Omni Resort, taken with a 40X zoom on my Panasonic Lumix
After completing 90 minutes of yoga, I drove closer to the white dots to investigate... they were snowy egrets.  More than a dozen of them, roosting near the Eastern edge of the lagoon.

No one else got this picture, because no one else walked the 3 blocks from the parking lot of the grocery store and bank, to the front of The Omni resort's entrance, and had a 40X zoom lens as I did last week.  Today, on the way back from the beach, Dr Desert Flower and I drove past the lagoon and there were no egrets (no, no... no tears) on the same tree in the lagoon.

I was lucky enough to catch one of them coming in for a landing.  I need more practice in photographing moving birds.  I often practice on military air craft (no shortage of them off the San Diego county coast)...  but they fly in predictable straight lines... so it's not as effective in taking their pictures.

Part of the 1%

At the end of July, almost 2 weeks ago, Nathan Jr came to visit Dr Desert Flower and I for part of a week (4 days).  On his last day here, we took him whale watching at the Dana Wharf Whale Watching and Sport Fishing cruise provider up in Orange County.  DDF and I had gone there back at Mother's Day, and we saw no whales, so they gave us 2 free passes to come back.  This trip did not disappoint.

We first saw a swarm of dolphins.  This were probably about 1000 individual common dolphins, but our son had never seen more than 1/2 a dozen together on the East Coast, so it was a treat.

Then, we saw the first blue whale.  It was impressive.  Larger than a greyhound bus, and actually the largest animal to ever swim, or live, on this blue marble - even bigger than any dinosaur, Brachiosaurus, Siesomosaurus, or even Ichthyosaur.  Our boat's captain tried to get closer without spooking the massive cetacean...  but it dove to feed.  Once they dive, it is a good 7 to 10 minutes before they come back up again.  

When they submerge, they leave a signature "flat spot" on the surface, large enough to park a Winnebago on.

So we moved over to a 2nd blue whale who was cruising along the surface.  Again, very impressive.  Awe inspiring.  We had seen gray whales before, but these blue whales dwarfed their gray cousins.  Our boat was a 65 footer...  about 2/3rds the size of a full grown blue whale adult.

After we saw these impressive creatures and we were heading back to Dana Point Harbor, our captain announced that we were all part of "the 1% now", since less than 1% of all humans have ever seen a living Blue Whale.  And we got to see 2 separate individuals, about a 1/2 mile apart, 7 miles SW of Dana Point.  = )

Monday, July 27, 2015

Wine By Joe - Not So Much

I was in Costco, and I saw this "Wine By Joe" ....  it was $12....  and I thought, "well, why not?  I'll try it".   Wine by Joe Dobbes, V.2013, Pinot Noir, Dundee Oregon.  DDF has been gravitating towards Pinot Noirs, and even though I don't like them as much, maybe she would?

It was a failed experiment.  While the first glass started off...  well... "Ok" ...  it didn't sit well on the pallet and had an unusual after taste.  I had one glass, and kind of chocked it down.  DDF, the Pinot Noir drinker, had a sip of her glass, decided firmly she DID NOT like it, and left it alone.  After dinner, I tried the rest of her glass, hoping it would have gotten better after "breathing" for 1/2 an hour.  It didn't.  Harsh, unpleasant, not to our liking.

I am not saying this is a "bad wine", we just didn't like it at all.  I had high hopes...   but, oh well.  I cannot recommend buying it...  but maybe we just got a bad bottle?  Costco is not known for storing their inventory of wine gingerly.

Warm Weather Rosés

I've mentioned before (link here) how warm weather is the best time to drink a chilled Rosé wine.  I've found 3 more Rosés that are worth mentioning here.

Each one has a unique crispness.  Each one is less than $10 at Trader Joe's.  Each one was enjoyed on a warm afternoon in my back yard, with DDF, or by myself if she was not around.

Crayon La Rosé is a new selection from Trader Joe's.  Light, refreshing, delicious, Southern French Rosé.

Côtes de Provence, J.L. Quinson 2014...  a classic staple from Trader Joe's French wine shelve.  Always a good choice.

Les Portes de Bordeaux,  Bordeaux Rosé, 2014, is a new selection at Trader Joe's to compliment the Bordeaux Superior, The Fronsac, and the St. Emillion Portes de Bordeaux that Trader Joe's has offered for a long time.

I encourage everyone to try these three delicious Rosés, if you're looking for a refreshing adult beverage.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Driving While Black & Not Using Your Turn Signal, Deadly in Texas

The death of Sandy Bland in Waller Texas is senseless, despicable, and never should have happened.  Being taken into custody for "failure to use her turn signal"?  Seriously?

She "had been was combative on the side of the road" Sheriff Glen Smith told a reporter.
Salon link here:

If you pulled me over for failure to use my turn signal, and asked me to step out of the car, I would have been verbally and physically very unreceptive.  Really, a turn signal violation?  If Sandy Bland had been a rich white woman, she'd be alive today.  She either would never have been pulled over, or an expensive lawyer would have been secured on July 10th when she taken to the county jail; she would have posted bond, and she would have posted on The FaceBook about how inappropriate the sheriff's deputies had been in pulling her over in the first place for something that everyone has done at least one forgetfully, or frequently done willfully.  Forgetting to use a turn signal is not a reason to get a ticket (a warning, maybe, sure), or to be taken out of your car, or to be thrown to the ground and knelt upon by an obese sheriff's deputy, or to be put in jail, or to remain in lock-up for 3 days.

I Do Not Know if Sandy Bland committed suicide or if someone came into her cell and strangled her with the plastic bag.  I think the former is unlikely and the latter is pure evil.  Hopefully a ligitimate coroner's inquest will get to the facts clearly, and quickly.  I Do Know that there was no reason to pull her out of her car, to incarcerate her, or to leave her in a jail cell for 3 days.  Write her a warning or a full fledged ticket Sheriff Glen Smith (which she could have fought in court), Even If she is being resentful or verbally combative or physically resisting the sheriff's deputy's draconian behavior.


Yeah, we live in a "post racial era".  Right.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Batiquitos Lagoon Yoga Studio

Last week Thursday, while on a four hour mountain bike ride around Batiquitos Lagoon, I stumbled upon a lovely place to do yoga.  Over the weekend I had no chance to go there again...  but Tuesday afternoon I was able to get back down there with a broom and my yoga mat, covered in SPF75 sun screen.  It was a wonderful place to do yoga.
Looking South towards the lagoon island shoal where Least Terns, Plovers, and other birds nest.
And it was highly effective, as my blood pressure dropped 15 points, both diastolic and systolic numbers.  when I took it upon reaching home.  I was a wimp and drove down there, and drove back up, the 400 foot elevation rise... as I had a 6pm con call I had to get to with Asia, and didn't want to be struggling to climb the hill on my bike... but int he future I hope to be biking down there.
In seated and supine poses, the Pacific is not visible, but it is while standing. The ocean breeze is nearly constant.
My thanks to Eagle Scout Todd Fritz, BSA Troop 750  who built the platform back in 2009, and who probably had no idea that anyone would use it as a place to do yoga.  (Once the rocks and cigarette butts were swept off, the flat rock was very comfy)

My thanks also to Inez  Yoder to whom the park bench was dedicated.  I assume she played a pivotal role in helping to preserve the lagoon from commercial development (a simple Google search showed she wrote articles for the LA Times on the lagoon).

No thanks to the chronic smoker who doesn't understand that their wantonly discarded cigarette butts strewn all around the bench, probably as they sat on Inez's bench enjoying the beautiful view and ocean breeze, would not degrade and turn back into basic elements for at least another  2 to 5 years for the cellulose acetate filter internals (in ideal landfill conditions, not laying on the ground).

My thanks also to the graffiti artist who scribed "Be Yourself" on the bench...  an interesting, individualistic message, probably scribed by a teenager who was sick of conforming.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

No Big Lizard, But Lots Of Peacocks

Way back in 2008, I mentioned the lizards in my back yard in Phoenix (link here)

I still have lots of little lizards in my yard...  eating beetles, little bugs, keeping my tomato plants healthy, dodging hummingbirds who menace them...   and the yard is Much more lush and green here.  But l also have another species that visits the yard.

Both the front yard, and the back yard, and the chimney (as I mentioned earlier, link here)

The white peacock is NOT an albino... it has a color-deficiency mutation in its genes (the Lou Carillo ranch park rangers had it tested... and... it doesn't have red eyes as true albinos would).  The road in front of our house runs approximately east-west, and there's a fairly stiff breeze that almost always blows from the coast (3 miles to the west) down the street.  It is kind of humorous to see the peacocks with massive tail feathers 2X longer than the rest of their body, be pushed along by a still "tail wind" that even tries to "curve" their tail feathers, and turn their whole body sideways.

Maybe it's NOT the rabbits after all who are eating my flowers... maybe it's the peacocks!!

Can Powdered Sugar Be Substituted for Granular Sugar?

Can Powdered Sugar Be Substituted for Granular Sugar?

Absolutely.  But it is not a 1:1 ratio.  I had assumed that powdered sugar would be "more dense" or more concentrated, since the grains are smaller, pulverized, powdered, with "less air" between grains of sugar.  I was completely wrong.  Powdered sugar is "fluffed" with air, and corn starch is added so it won't clump.  The correct ratio is 1.75 to 1... so 1.75 cups of powdered sugar = 1 cup of granular sugar.  I mention all of this not because I eat sugar...  I avoid the stuff like poison.  But I do go through alot of it making sugar water for the hummingbirds who believe they own my yard - about a gallon a week.  Powdered sugar SHOULD NOT be used for hummingbird food.
Taken today, out of my office window, before I went on a 2 hour mountain bike ride, (yeah, it doesn't suck to live here)
Hummingbird food is best made with NO RED DYE - the red dye is toxic, and in there for humans.  Hummingbirds only go to the feeder with a hole in it, not the red one.  The multiple brown and clear feeders around my yard attest to that.  DON'T use red dyed hummingbird sugar crystals.  I actually poured my last red dyed nectar down the drain in Orange County when I found out about it, rather than poison the little creatures.

The correct (and simple) way to make hummingbird food is to mix a 1:4 ratio solution.  1 part sugar for 4 parts water.  I use ordinary tap water - no softened water (the birds don't need to salt), not reverse osmosis (RO) or demineralized (demin) water, neither of which I have since I don't live in a laboratory or a power plant. And I mix 2 pints of very warm water with 1/2 a cup a sugar (remember: 2 cups  =  1 pint, 2 pints = 1 quart, 4 quarts = 1 gallon... only in the US and Myanmar...  everywhere else they're on liters).

I ran out of sugar today, making my last batch.  I was Just About to use the copious amounts of powdered sugar Dr Desert Flower has in the pantry, when I read from reputable sources (here and here) that "that's bad" (as Mr Mackey would say).

Keep Up The Good Work Luke!

Much like his father Tim, Luke Russert is doing an excellent job covering news.  MSNBC under-
utilizes him to fill in for hosts like Andrea Mitchell, and each time Luke is on...  he impresses me with his acumen, his germane & timely follow-up questions, his delivery, his maturity, and his raw skill as a new anchor.  A chip off the old block, close falling apple & such...

In 2012 I opined about missing missing his father on JustJoeP (link here)

... now I get to enjoy listening to the son.  And hopefully, for the rest of my adult life, Luke will be actively broadcasting.  Compared to others on Faux News and CNN (the place for useless info, that the watcher provides, and the network regurgitates) his same age & older, Luke Russet continues to solidly deliver news, interviews, reporting.  Impressive.

How Many People Did Jade Helm Round Up?

The answer is simple: ZERO.
The right wing conspiracy machine was in full "crazy mode" to claim that the US military, Walmart, and President Obama were planning on declaring marshal law and taking over Texas & Utah.  Ridiculous and insane, but given full credit & weight by MANY Republican presidential candidates who want to play to the extreme right primary base who come out to vote like fire ants whose nest has been stepped on by a black booted Federal government thug.

If you don't know what "Jade Helm" is, the CS Monitor back in May laid it out nicely. (link here)

If you don't remember how Cruz and Paul and most of the Republican field reacted back in May, the internet does.  (link here).

"J.E.Dyer" foretold of terrible things to come at "Liberty Unyielding".  Fool.

If you'd like to see a Map of "Operation Jade Helm" I've included one below.

To see how many people have been rounded up, and how many Counties and States have had marshal law imposed on them (staring today, July 15th, of course) read here (link).

Yeah, "I've got some concerns" and "questions remain" ...  yes, like "how did you ever get elected, Ted?"

I am so glad I don't live in a backwards, regressive, insane Red State Dumbphukistan anymore.