Blooming Mexican Bush Sage

We’re into our third year in this house (time flies…) but I don’t remember this Mexican Bush Sage ever blooming quite this overwhelmingly before.

Maybe it’s been encouraged by all of the stinking hot weather?

Maybe the gardeners have fertilized it this year?

Maybe it was that “golden hour” light as the sun set? (This is where my money lies!)

The bees have found it in the past, but apparently not tonight.

Whatever’s going on, it was worth a trip back into the house for the good camera.

No aroma that I can smell, not like the roses (search the site, there are a gazillion of them) on the other side of the driveway.

Whatever’s happening, it’s worth a trip down to the mailbox when the sun starts to set! (Wear a mask!)

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Filed under Flowers, Photography

Twin Tree Lizards

I saw the big tree lizard out gathering some sun.

At this point I’m just at the edge of the porch, maybe fifteen to twenty feet away with a telephoto lens.

Two small steps forward, slowly, I don’t want to spook him. Another half step…

…wait, what’s that on the left that just moved?
I had failed to #FindThatLizard. There had been an assumption on my part, which was incorrect.

This guy was off on the left, ready to bolt.

The first guy was still holding steady on the right, but my guess is that a quick getaway wouldn’t be long in coming if I twitched.

Y’all are good – enjoy the afternoon sun and watch out for those crows. I’ll back away slowly and let you have the yard.


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If you’ve never taken a flight in an open cockpit plane, I highly recommend you try it!

This is our PT-19 trainer out at the CAF Southern California Wing in Camarillo.

Boarding is a little bit different than on Southwest or United – just climb up onto the wing, stay on the black strip, flip a leg over, and settle in.

In the back seat you’ll have that stick moving around and the rudder pedals moving back and forth as the pilot flies the plane. Try not to hit those unless you’re flying the plane. Those other knobs and levers are for fuel and throttle and flaps – don’t touch any of them, either. Just enjoy the view!

It’s not super fast – top speed is barely 100 mph. It’s still a joy to fly in.

If you want to fly and you’re in SoCal, get in touch with us once the COVID thing is over. (We’re all grounded right now.) We can make that happen!


Filed under CAF, Flying, Photography

Random Old Photos – September 25th

The setting should be familiar, even if you’ve never been there yourself.

American Falls on the left, Horseshoe Falls in the distance in the center-right.

It was an okay day, we had fun. One of those places that I spent a couple hours at where I wouldn’t mind going back for a day or two to explore more.

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Test Results In The Time Of COVID

It’s one thing to see that everything’s fine. That’s good.

It’s another to see that all of that clean living, healthy diet, a little exercise, and one previous result that the doctor had been bugging me about was now MUCH better. That’s great!

So I sent a message to the doctor about how that means that I don’t have to change meds like he’s been pushing, right? And I got the usual “this stuff is great” and “in the long run” and so on, but in the end I got my long sought after “ATTA BOY!” and his consent to leave things as they are. Which I’m happy about.

Now if I could just get rid of this rotator cuff (old age, threw way too much batting practice a couple decades ago) issue which is annoying as hell. The worst part is when I’m not thinking about it, like when I picked up the newspaper and threw it up toward the garage without thinking. It can make one scream like a stuck pig, sink to one’s knees in the driveway, and have the neighbors wondering if there was a drive by shooting that they didn’t get invited to. It can make me use words that my mother would not approve of! (Not that that particular bar was ever set real high…)

If someone tells you they’ve got a chronic pain condition – cut them some slack. This shit isn’t fun.


Filed under Health

Tests In The Time Of COVID

It’s that time of year when a whole slew of annual tests were due to convince my doctor that I’m not on Death’s door. I managed to group them all together with a bit of time left in between to get my flu shot. All’s good.

Of course everyone’s fully masked up. I got several complements and inquiries about mine. I also had my eyes dilated as part of the final test and they gave me those cheap temporary sunglasses to use. The combination might not have been my best look, but it was unique.

Probably a good day to try going into a bank…

The mask is printed to show a standard Visual Flight Rules (VFR) sectional map from the FAA. There’s a small company started by a teenager in Florida that will print them with whatever location you want – mine show Camarillo, where the CAF SoCal Wing is based. I bought them as a lark (through Sporty’s catalogue if you’re interested) but they turn out to be the best fitting and largest masks I’ve gotten. And it is a conversation piece.

One of the folks who was checking me in for one of the appointments was quite taken with the mask (I hadn’t gotten the glasses yet, so I looked a little less like a “Watchman” extra) but she filled out part of the initial patient intake form without getting my input.

I’m not saying she’s WRONG, mind you. Some assumptions are pretty solid. But it is 2020…



Filed under Health, Photography

Autumn Equinox

Which means winter is coming? We don’t have winter here, but maybe we can ameliorate some of the more savage heat waves of winter with some failed Darke Ancient Magik¬†byproducts.

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No Context For You – September 21st

Enough doomscrolling about the fires around Mount Wilson, at least for tonight. (Yes, the fires are still a threat, they were setting defensive backfires all day on the north side, which looked scary as hell, and now those have moved to the west, still very close, still very scary, but they seem to know what they’re doing.)

It’s been a frustrating few days – getting things done, actually getting some results, but every single one feels like it takes ten times more effort and bullshit than it should. The sense of accomplishment from pushing through the BS and getting things done is okay, but would it freakin’ kill the universe to cut me some slack and let things that are supposed to be easy and trivial actually be easy and trivial?

Apparently it would.

So, let’s limit the thinking tonight and go back to random photographic nonsense for the evening. I hope wherever you are and whatever you’re doing you’re having an easier, more pleasant time of it.

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Bobcat Still Burning

After last night, when some defensive backfires were set on the east side of the Mount Wilson Observatory, which looked scary but were actually controlled and to prevent worse, we were hoping that Mount Wilson was out of danger from the Bobcat Fire.

Not so fast.

This afternoon another flare up occurred on the north side of the mountain. You can see it start just after 12:30 (time stamps in the upper left) in the 12:00 to 15:00 time-lapse video, then blow up in the 15:00 to 18:00 video, and continue to spread to the north in the 18:00 to 21:00 video. (All videos and images from the HPWREN webcam system unless otherwise noted.)

Here’s where we are now:

The good news is that all of this new fire growth is pushing away from the Observatory grounds. This is all about a mile to the north on the next ridge over, pushing up toward Highway 2.

(Image from Google Maps – incredibly professional graphics from yours truly.)

There have been a LOT of water and Phos-Chek drops today. At one point someone monitoring the radios tweeted that all air tankers had been diverted to Mount Wilson to make a stand there. It obviously worked.

These are the TV and radio transmission towers on the ridge just west of the ridge where the observatory is. You can clearly see them in the HPWREN pictures I shared on Thursday. But as I said, the flare up isn’t super close to the observatory – just close, not super close.

Also, while I’m obviously invested in the Mount Wilson Observatory site being protected, this fire continues to grow almost out of control for the fifth day with thousands of homes being threatened on the south side of the mountains where the San Gabriel Valley is and on the north side where the Antelope Valley lies.

Up in the Antelope Valley, they were using our pair of Canadian Super Scoopers, refilling them on the fly from Lake Palmdale. Since that lake is a recreational site and at least the shore facilities aren’t closed off, it’s drawing crowds to watch.

(Video credit to Matt Winheim, Executive Director/Superintendent of the Palmdale Aerospace Academy)

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Filed under Astronomy, Disasters, Los Angeles

Panic Not

I tell you this in advance – this is not necessarily a terrible thing. It’s under control, even if it doesn’t seem that way. We’ll get through this and come out stronger and better on the other side.

You and I aren’t the experts. Don’t try this at home.

All images from the HPWREN cameras on Mount Wilson, run by UC San Diego. (I would also note that they put out time-lapse videos for each of the four cameras for every three-hour period, 24 hours a day, and the archive goes back a couple of years. There’s an interesting one on my birthday of it snowing like crazy up there. For those who don’t know how it can snow in Los Angeles County, remember this is at about 5,700 feet. Lots of things are different there. That’s why we have ski resorts just a 90 minute drive from the beach.)

Again, this national treasure is *NOT* burning to the ground tonight – but it sure looked like it if you didn’t get the memo. Just a few minutes after 19:00 local time, looking east, just beyond the line of big domes, there was a puff of smoke:

A half-hour later it was a huge blaze. What we had missed was this:

The “good window of opportunity with favorable conditions” equals cool(er) temperatures, higher humidity, light winds, and most importantly, winds that will push the flames away from the domes and back down the ridge to where it had already burned.

That “existing retardant line?” I think this picture from yesterday explains that:

So the pros saw their chance and took it!

It’s up on top of the ridge where the observatories are and looks like it’s only a few meters from some of the facilities. That’s because it was.

Then it started to die down a bit over there…

…before flaring up over here.

And now it’s all died down and is being put out.

Mount Wilson appears to have been saved from this horror. The fire is less than 20% contained and on the north side, leading into the Antelope Valley, there are more new evacuations tonight. Some of the evacuation areas on the south side around Glendale (where all of those lights are in the right center) have been lifted, but many are still in place for the eighth day. But for now, looking at the weather and the containment lines and defensive burns like tonight’s, it seems that Mount Wilson is safe.

So many thanks to the firefighters who have made this happen. In this hell of a year, we need to grab our victories where we can.

And for those who might think that I’ve slipped into a fugue state and obsessing over Mount Wilson because I can’t face what’s going on in the real world these days – go back and read the first sentence.

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Filed under Astronomy, Disasters, Los Angeles