Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Que Syrah, Syrah

Soooo many grapes....

When we moved into the house in 2013, the previous owners said the grape vines were Paso Robles Syrah.  They had Cut Them Back to just the main vine, that had taken 25 years to wind around the metal arched arbor they'd installed.  And when we moved in during October, the vines sprouted only a few little new shoots of growth.  Dr Desert Flower looked it up online, and she found where it said to cut back the new growth each year, so that the 2nd year's growth would produce fruit.  So we cut off the few little shoots in the winter of 2013, and then in the 2014 Spring, the vine surged in growth.
Dionysus (Διόνυσος) would be proud
In the Winter of 2014-2015, I cut back the vines about 1/2 way, and left the largest shoots still in place.  Wow... abundant production doesn't start to describe it.  Whereas we had about 10 bunches of grapes total in 2014, the 2015 out put will be over a 100 bunches, if not more.  They are hanging everywhere... and won't be ripe enough to pick or eat for at least another month or two at the earliest.

The birds & gnats got to the grapes in 2014, and of the 10 or so bunches, we enjoyed 1.5 bunches that were not pecked at by birds, swirling with gnat clouds, or being chomped on my lizards or insects.  Those 100+ 2015 bunches will make a real mess later this summer, if not promptly harvested by the new owners.

You can't see it, but there's a robin's nest, smack dab in the center of that arbor.  Two mourning doves tried to build a nest there, and I shooed them out, since they were going to poop all over my grill just 4 feet away.   Then, a pair of robins moved into the 1/2 built nest, finished it, and the female sits silently, paralyzed, "you can't see me" on it when I walk past to take out the garbage or do yard work. Persistent these birds are!

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Government Dole for OC Hummingbirds is OVER

As I sit in the NW corner of my home this Memorial Day afternoon, watching dozens of hummingbirds visit what used to be the locations of 8 different hummingbird nectar feeders in my backyard, I find it quite ironic and funny, that the era of Hummingbird Welfare has come to an end in Orange County - Laguna Hills specifically.  SO Many hummingbirds have grown so accustomed to visiting my backyard for high quality, fresh, consistently available sugar water...  that when I took down 3 of the last 4 empty - or - nearly - empty feeders this afternoon, the colibri boys and girls go to where they USED TO find nectar feeders, and look around... and look around some more...  hovering, pivoting... and then go to a nearby agapanthus or day lily or petunia, and drink from the lower-sugar-higher-protein sources of natural-and-not-human-provided food.  I took the first 4 down yesterday, and washed them all thoroughly - I've been making 1 gallon per week of sugar water, refilling the 8 feeders, since last Christmas when the last 2 feeders were added to the previous 6.
taken via iPhone 5S, through NW breakfast nook window (hence the shadow reflections), from 3 feet away
Dr Desert Flower has reassured me that in Carlsbad we will have many hummingbirds.  I countered, that the plethora of hummingbirds I've attracted here (Rufous, Anna's, Costa's, Black Chinned, Allen's) won't be able to fly the 40 mile commute down to Carlsbad, through the Camp Pendleton barren & hazardous landscape...  but she said new, San Diego County hummingbirds will definitely show up.  Il faut voir...   the backyard hummingbird paradise I created here in Laguna Hills may be difficult to replicate in the arid hills of Carlsbad.  We will soon find out.

Morrissey + Violent Femmes = Ski Patrol

Dr Desert Flower is playing Direct TV's "Alternative" station today as we throw things out and get ready for this week's move, further south in California.  I heard a song by Ski Patrol...  and I thought...  "I liked them when they were called the Violent Femmes".   Then..  the song got more whiney, and had more back-ground guitar music...  and I said..  no...   this is like if Morrissey and the Violent Femmes had drunken sex, and then 9 months later, they'd give birth to Ski Patrol.  (hard to do, since Morrissey & all the Violent Femmes members are all male...   but the analogy still stands).

I still do like the Violent Femmes.  I have never really liked Morrissey (too whiny, too self absorbed, too preachy for me.  I am undecided on Ski Patrol.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Esposito In Duck Territory

As I was working outside my house today, trimming away foliage that the Termite company had accidentally painted as they restored my home to a termite-free status before we move next week, I unexpectedly saw a package on my front porch, addressed to me, from Schereville, IN.  I was confused...  everyone I knew who lived in Schereville (my cousins Mike & Tom) had moved out of there many years ago...  so who was sending me something?

I opened the package, to find an unexpected surprise from my very cool little brother.  A customized Tony Esposito #35 Blackhawks jersey, from one of my little brother's friend's businesses ("he knows a guy" ... he's from Chicago).  Very cool!  When I was in Chicago recently, I inquired if such a jersey was in stock, and my brother called his friend who said no, it would have to be special ordered and take 6 weeks or so... so I told my little brother not to worry about it.  When my little brother called to ask me what my address is, and when I am moving earlier this week, I should have known something was up!!  Thanks little brother!!

Now, I need to find an Anaheim Ducks oriented sports bar to go to tonight and wear my new jersey...  heh heh heh!  Let's hope da Hawks even it up to 2-2, and don't let the Ducks go 3-1.

And I promise not to get into any fights with Ducks fans.  = )

The Good Ship Venus

My brother in law shared this with me...   it is hilarious!  (parental warning though, don't listen to it with small children around, unless you want to be asked LOTS of questions and have to explain a whole bunch of sexually explicit material to the young listener)

 Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLotX3HE-4c 
Link again (since youtube removes it): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLotX3HE-4c Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

14 to 1, LA tries to become livable

Today, I heard on NPR, that Los Angeles City Council voted 14 to 1, to eventually raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020, a dollar a year (it's $9 an hour now, above the national minimum wage standard).  In doing so, LA becomes the LARGEST US city to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

What's the matter with you New York and Chicago?  Falling a little behind, ain't ya?  I'm sure it's easy to raise a family on $9 an hour in both NE Illinois and Eastern New York State, no problem.  While Mid Western states are often heading back to the 17th Century, California added 350,000 residents last year (yes, we'll get Another congressman soon).   Sure, San Francisco will get to $15 an hour by 2018 (2 years earlier than LA), but LA is 5 times the size of land locked & peninsula'ed SF.
Sorry Mitchell, but my wife is far smarter & hotter than yours, and has a much more progressive world view.

It's the one aspect of moving further south, towards San Diego, that makes me a little bit sad... as we'll be farther away from tempted-income-equality-LA, and closer to Mitt-Romney-loving-San-Diego County.  But Dr Desert Flower's commute will be cut in half, and the onerous Camp Pendleton immigration check point will no longer have to be endured non a daily basis.

Mitchell Englander, the lone Republican on the City Council, and the only fool to vote against the minimum wage increase, you're on the wrong side of history, as is your party and your ideology.  Watch, as the City of Angels continues to grow and thrive, instead of wither, atrophy, and decay (as you and your party have predicted).  You're an anachronism Englander.  If you really hate income equality, move to China, where the disparity is so pronounced, you can taste it in the actual air you're trying to breathe.

Friday, April 17, 2015

First Lady Honorable Senator Madam Secretary Khaleesi

Catching up on my DVR'ed Daily & Nightly Shows this week,  found Larry Wilmore's Nightly Show last Monday to be absolutely hilarious!  Following Hillary Clinton's presidential run announcement on Sunday, along with the start of Game of Thrones, Larry's writers had a field day, graphically.

They're really not that different...
Hillary could use Khaleesi's campaign slogan
Both had their kingdoms taken away a few years ago
They were both married to horny warlords
They've both spent years dealing with spiteful, barbaric horse people
Their paths to the throne has been blocked by gold hoarding families
Those families have been guided by a patriarch in shadows, who has been positioning the family
With the torture loving son who famously choked at a banquet
And the brother everyone likes, despite the red flags... 
And the dark horse from the fringes, who might have a chance, but who's brain has been turned to mush by religion
And of course, there's Hodor
Hodor...   I laughed out loud!   Too damn funny!!!!  Highly recommended.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Delta, Zone 1, Isn't

I flew Delta Airlines recently, and I was surprised and a little bit amazed to be BOTH TSA-Pre-check AND "Zone 1" boarding group.  "Zone 1"? I thought to myself....   that's reserved for Diamond and Platinum level frequent flyers (neither of which I am anymore, nor have been for a decade), or military in uniform (thank you for your service) or people traveling with children under 2 years of age, or those "needing extra time / assistance in boarding".  What luck!  Perhaps, in the Monopoly Game of Life, there was a computer glitch / error in my favor...

No such luck.  On Delta, Zone 1 isn't one.  Zone 1 is ACTUALLY Zone 3.  FIRST they board "PREM" ....  "PREM" is first class, million milers, Delta employees (Pilots, etc, who are not flying the plane).   Then, next is "SKY" (short for "Sky Priority"), as the 2nd boarding group.   In Europe, where Silver matters on Delta, Silver status Frequent Flyers (which I am one, after flying to Bangalore and then to Warsaw in the last year, both in Coach, narrowly avoiding Deep Vein Thrombosis) are also included in "SKY".  But in the good ole USA, Silver means bumpkus.  Silver, ever since Delta bought Northwest and inherited more frequent flyers than their Medallion Club lounges and priory boarding queues could handle, have ignored and jettisoned their Silver status members as "nobodies".  Gold gets you 1 bag free, and a listing in the "SKY" queue.  Silver, "back of the line bud!"...  persona non grata.  One of the unwashed, sweaty masses.

After printing my boarding pass the day before travel, and seeing I was "Zone 1" I did not check a bag and took my 22" roller bag on, thinking "I'll have a place in the over-head, surely!  I am 'Zone 1" after all!"  [Printing, how archaic you say?  Why not get it emailed to me, and scan it at the gate?  Well... once you've tried to do that, and you're in Zone 3 or 4 and they're out of over-head room, so they have to gate check your bag...  the only way to do it with a cell phone electronic boarding pass is to walk with the gate agent back up the jet way, so she can re-scan your pass with you phone, issue you a gate-check baggage claim ticket, and then walk back down to the plane, wasting another 10 minutes of your life that you could have been AIS [Ass In Seat] and about to fall asleep for the 4 hour flight back home. Having a PRINTED boarding pass, you just give the gate agent the printed paper, and they come back to you with a baggage claim ticket.]

So all the PREMs boarded.  Then the HOARD of SKYs boarded.  Then, when "Zone 1" boarded, the plane was more than 1/2 full, most of the over-heads were already taken, and I had to find a place for my bag 4 rows behind where my seat was... which is such a joy when getting off the plane and no one is polite enough to let you go back 4 rows.  The poor bastards in Zone 2 were all screwed.  No more over-head space.  "Zone 2" on Delta = "Zone 4" on all other airlines.  Or "Boarding group D" on Southwest.  Despicable how Delta ineptly tries to manipulate language to get the beleaguered passenger to temporarily feel better. Just call it "Zone 3" and treat your passengers like grown ups, your stupid Georgia Peaches!

On top of this, I find out in April of this year that EVERY state in which I have to travel for work, will now have State Income Tax withheld, for each day I am traveling to that state.  So in 2016, I'll get to file 5 or 6 State tax returns, to get my money back.  Joy!!!!!!  So much incentive to be a happy traveling employee!!!!  So customer centric!!!  (at Accenture, where a friend of mine works, the COMPANY Files For the employee, in the multiple states to which they have been dispatched to do work for the company..   but not so at my corporate leviathan).  Lamer than a 2 legged dog.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Tomato, Tomato... Potato... Potato...

Tomato, Tomato... Potato...  Potato...

Have you ever heard this ring tone?  (Circuit)

= )

Play it on your iPhone...   and then say  "Tomato, Tomahtoe, Potato, Potahtoe...."

Blogger won't let me upload a WAV file.

Horse Manure First Class Farts

On Sunday afternoon, my flight to Atlanta was delayed, in-ordinately.  My connecting flight was lost by my late arrival, so Delta re-booked me on a later flight, and put me into first class, seat 1A.  "Great!" I thought.  And as I later sank into my 1A seat, at gate B5 in Atlanta, I smelled something vaguely familiar.

I've been to a horse farm.  I've smelled horse manure in the past.  In my 1A seat, with a bulkhead in front of me, an external fuselage frame to my left, and a large, obese man, reading his Kindle to my right.  My nostrils filled with the stench of horse manure.  Scent is one of the most powerful of human senses.  Wired directly into the ancient reptilian brain.  Far stronger than the other senses, from our primitive ancestry.

The passenger in in 1B, a "Mr Weisner" had apparently been eating oatmeal as if he is Wilfred Brimley's best friend, or if he's drank an entire keg of oatmeal stout.  But the stench of horse manure, of an animal whose majority diet is oats.  Before we took off, it wafted to my nostrils.  After we took off, it wafted again.   Then mid-flight, during the 22 minutes of flight to Greenville SC, again.  Once we landed, he let loose his last flatulence.  All of it, smelled of horse manure.  Had I not been on a plane, in a semi-confined space, I would never have known, it was the fetid passenger next to me.  Unmistakably horse manure.

Please, if you're going to fly, be cognizant of the senses of those around you.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

My Dana Point Yoga Studio & Gym

DDF recently got a very nice job as director of research & development at a moderately sized bio-medical firm in San Diego, so we'll be saying good bye to the lovely environment of Orange County in the next few months after the house is sold.  As I type this late March blog post, I am sitting in my home's breakfast nook / drinking area that has glass on two sides and looks out over the back & side yards, where I can see all 8 hummingbird feeders, 3 hummingbirds drinking from various ones, and
an adolescent (and vociferous) mocking bird exploring one of the feeders under the white guava tree. The sun is setting behind the trio of king palms, and I am well rested after 90 minutes of yoga and 2 hours of stair running and beach parkour.  Started off the work day early, ended before 2pm, and made a bee-line for the beach.  4 and a 1/2 hours later I am feeling reflective and somewhat pensive.  The hummingbirds - who are chasing each other all around the 8 happy hour dusk feeders - are not pensive at all.

But I digress...  this post is supposed to be about my Dana Point Yoga Studio & Gym...  so we'll move onto the collection of photos I've taken in the last several weeks to help illustrate these abodes.  These are in contrast to the earlier locations I've illustrated here on JustJoeP, like Arizona Back Yards, Arizona Blue sky environments, Pool Sides, Group Pool Sides, Hawaii, Hotel Rooms (French Hotel Rooms, and Chicago Hotel Rooms), Mountain tops, grassy beach fronts (my first introduction to the Dana Point Beach) and next to Tide Pools.

There's usually lots of flowers and floral arrangements all around the studio & gym.  It's especially nice when laying on the yoga mat and looking up to see this brilliant coral tree, contrasted with the beautiful blue sky behind it - no gray pall here, typically.  Sometimes a California Phoebe comes up and proclaims his loyalty to K-Mart: "Cheap!  Cheap!" and then dives down towards the grass to snatch up some insect or another.  Other times an Anna's hummingbird male alights and flits all about the coral tree, claiming it as his.  Other times and ornery crow squawks at me: "get off my concrete pad!!!"  from one of the two symmetrical coral trees.   (I am fluent in Crow now, having observed them closely for 2 years in California)

My gym has showers...   which one can use to remove the sand from one's feet, if you've gone down to where the water meets the land.  People in wet suits frequently rinse off there - not something most gyms have (wet suits).

There's lots of very large whales who frequent my gym.  They're almost always on the move, and many times bring their small (10 feet long and a 1000 lbs...  if you call that "small") children with them.  Lots of grays, some sperm, blue, fin, and occasionally a humpback comes to the gym as well.   I wouldn't call them "obese", but they are very Big folks indeed.

And then you've got all the skinny white folks, who are always looking at food, but apparently never eating any of it.  They're down by the water's edge, gazing at their own reflections.  They're up on inclined slopes, tip-toeing through the succulent ice plants.

And there's those who try and hog all the equipment, and sing while they're doing so.  They don't sing too loud, even if they're trying to be fierce and menacing...  it's still pretty adorable.

And there's the flashy dressers...  in bright green & fiery red magentas.

There's a wide variety of equipment in the rock parkour area.  Big ones, little ones, solid ones, smaller ones that rock when you push off, sandy ones - but like most gyms, you have to be careful about those who don't clean up after they've used the equipment.  A little bit of Bird poop on rocks is still better than MRSA though, any day.

You don't have to have status to work out here... but there's lots of +$100K vehicles in the parking lot.

So I am going to miss my coastal gym that I've grown so fond of here in Dana Point.  It's a short 15 to 20 minute drive (if I get out of the house before the high school kids get out of class), and the parking is free, or nearly free.  The breezes are amazing.  The scenery, unparalleled.  Every Wednesday they do cut the grass and that makes it a little itchy...  - grass in Arizona was never really an issue as it was all burnt by the orange fiery ball in the sky.  I'm sure I'll find some kind of studio & gym equivalent in San Diego...  but Dana Point was nice while it lasted.