Seen soaring above our house a couple days ago. Obviously a raptor or hawk of some sort, but doesn’t appear to be a red-tailed hawk. We get a ton of red-tails riding the thermals on the edge of the San Fernando Valley (i.e., the “hills” in “West Hills”) and they’re pretty distinctive. This guy had a different cry, different body shape, and a much different tail shape.

Poking around on the web I think it might be a Cooper’s hawk, but someone with more experience and knowledge than I will have to confirm that.

I did see that he ended up landing up near the top of one of the tall trees just down the hill from us, so with luck I’ll get more chances to see him, perhaps even getting some better pictures for ID later on.


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Filed under Castle Willett, Critters, Flying, Photography


There are a lot of things pulling and tugging at my priorities and time right now. The end result is that I’m feeling adrift, cut off from my usual routines and the anchors and predictability that our daily schedules provide.

Part of it is the move – while we’re out of the old house, there’s still a ton of unpacking to do, as well as dealing with a garage and three storage spaces full of “stuff” that got put there out of a lack of time in the rush to get out of the old house by the deadline. There’s a roller-coaster like thrill to meeting that deadline, then the plunge downward as you realize that’s only maybe a third of the total task.

Part of it was the trip last week, then trying to catch up at work (where we’ve had our own “challenges” for months) and again, while those challenges are wrapping up, now it’s time to deal with everything that got put on the back burner while that was going on.

Part of it is the hangar, where the volunteer work there got put on the back, back, back, back, back burner while I dealt with work and the move – but none of it went away.

Throw in some serious lack of sleep issues and the fact that I’ve been playing bachelor for a few days after getting back from Virginia…

Faith is needed. Faith that by just drifting I’ll end up where I need to be, even if it’s not where I knew that I needed to be.

Faith is not my strong point.

We’ll see.

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That Feeling When – June 16th

That feeling when you’re thinking about the last straw again, the one that will break the proverbial camel’s back and you’re really hating that you’re the proverbial camel and you’re not sure how you got the gig or how much notice you need to give to resign and will you get any severance, but seriously you can’t figure if that last straw is going to be a steel beam falling from low Earth orbit or just feel that way despite only being a feather-weight and otherwise totally inconsequential thing and of course it’s going to be the latter since that’s the whole point of the figure of speech and wondering if the stupid thing you did tonight because you’re too fucking tired to see straight is going to be *IT* or just another wasted hour tomorrow to fix and you could fix it tonight if you really, really wanted to be an A-type but if you’re too tired to do things right it’s probably an even more stupid thing to try to fix it without getting some sleep so maybe you’ll just leave this here as a reminder and instead listen to some depressing and melancholy music for a while before drifting off in exhaustion and desperation…

Or I could just stay up another hour or so and start watching World Cup games. Who’s on first, Costa Rica and Serbia?


Filed under Deep Thoughts, Paul

Crescent Moon & Venus – June 15th

There’s a nice view to the west from the new house. Tonight we had again had a lovely, 2-day old crescent moon to float along in it.

A couple of palm trees off in the neighbors’ yards to provide a bit of foreground for perspective, but not enough to block much of the sky.

Shortly after sunset it’s still bright enough so that a fast exposure can be used and there isn’t much blurring, even with a hand-held picture.

I’m going to like this front yard in the evening.

As it got a touch darker, Venus popped into view.

The pair were lovely together, as always.

Still hand-held (I think I know where the tripod is, but it would be non-trivial to go get it right now as I unpack) but steady enough to show craters along the terminator.

I caught one of the jets coming into LAX on this one. (Middle left.) Often as they’re leaving LAX on a route up the coast or to Asia they come right over our head, but those coming back the other way swing out over Ventura County, hang a left a Malibu, turn base over Dodger Stadium, and turn final over Huntington Park. Which puts them into this view.

Looking forward to the days when I can sit for an hour and watch something like this all the way to the horizon without my brain bugging me with, “You really should be…” Yes, I know. Unpacking. Catching up on my Wing duties and reports. Catching up on my personal accounting. Cleaning up the garage. Loading up the van with stuff to go to storage.

When did sitting on your ass and breathing for an hour get a bad reputation?


Filed under Astronomy, Photography, Space

Vapor In The Cabin

It’s been a long time since I’ve lived in the hot & humid South, but it hasn’t been that rare for me to be getting onto a plane in the hot & humid South. Yet I’ve never seen this before:

  1. It wasn’t black or grey smoke
  2. It didn’t smell like anything dangerous
  3. It was cold as hell
  4. No one else seemed to be paying it any attention…

…so I just ignored it and didn’t start screaming. (This, by the way, is the reason so many horror movies don’t end after five minutes of set up. No one wants to be embarrassed or exposed as the simpleton who sees anything odd about a guy in a hockey mask, carrying a machete, covered in blood. So we all just ignore it and “go along,” which is fine until teenagers start to get hacked to death at an isolated cabin.)

Given the weather, people’s reactions, and the fact that I saw it again on the connecting flight in Charlotte, I’m guessing it’s some new kind of super fast, super powerful cooling system which the planes hook up to while on the ground to keep them at a slightly bearable temperature inside. The white mist isn’t smoke, but water condensation of some sort. Very similar to the “fog” you see coming off of a horizontal fridge at Baskin-Robbins during the summer.

Just so long as they’re not putting me under a tombstone that says, “He saw the smoke but figured it was normal.”


Filed under Flying, Travel, Video

No Context For You – June 13th

I got nothing. Four of them, pretty much identical.

Except the three of them say “Rimrock” as the location and one says “Happy Jack.”

The cell phone is possessed, I tell you!

(But to be honest, possession’s gotten a bad rap ever since Linda Blair’s projectile pea soup thing. If I could just get the possessed cell phone to give me winning Lotto numbers the day BEFORE they win, I would be more than happy to accept it as a valued member of the household. And probably put it into law school, since possession is 9/10ths of the law…)

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New House

It has been mentioned by friends in distant places that while MUCH has been written in the past few months about the efforts to actually move, I haven’t show much, if anything, of the new house itself. I can solve that.

I can’t wait to get the telescopes back out of storage – instead of having that honkin’ big hill to our west, we’re pretty much on top of that honkin’ big hill to our west.

So far we’re really loving it here.

There are still boxes stacked everywhere as I unpack (and the paper’s still down to protect the hardwood floors as I move heavy stuff around) but the kitchen’s starting to get into shape.

Out in back there’s a wonderful yard (with lizards) and a view off the back of the hill down toward the east. I put the chairs out there near the edge – it’s a fantastic place to sit and watch the world get dark and the lights turn on in the evening.

There are trees that partially block the view – but they’re also filled with squirrels and hawks and crows and hummingbirds and sparrows and god knows what else, so I’m more than happy to let them share the view.

From the chairs, looking back across the yard at the house – it’s light and airy with skylights and lots of big windows. I think we’re going to really like it here.

Especially after we get unpacked and settled!


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