2020 Christmas Lights – Round One

As much as I had thought about starting Christmas lights a week or even several weeks early this year (because 2020 = SUCKS while Christmas lights = anti-SUCKS, in case that wasn’t obvious), the intentions might have been good but the work load and that whole “only 24 hours in the day and that’s the LAW!” thing sort of ruled that out. But now it’s after Thanksgiving, the normal time for starting to put up lights, in no small part because there’s a four-day weekend, so off we go!

I got up about half of what’s normal for this house over the last two years, but it’s the harder half with almost all of the roof lights and ladder work done. The lights that still need to go up go into those bushes and ground cover and that’s pretty straightforward and quick. (I hope!)

Plus there’s a 13 day-old moon rising, one day away from full!

Still need the lights over the garage door, but let’s hope it’s quick tomorrow and Sunday. Remember, if you aren’t blowing circuit breakers, you can still put up more lights!

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Filed under Castle Willett, Christmas Lights, Photography

Thanksgiving 2020

What an odd holiday this year.

On the one hand, I have so much to be personally thankful for – family whom I love, our health (so far, and let’s keep it that way), a job with a great team where I find challenges and rewards and wonderful folks to work with, and overall a great many things capable of bringing me joy.

On the other hand – well, read the headlines. We seem to have dodged the worst of the political nightmare if we can make it another 57 days without an outright catastrophe, but it will take decades to repair the damage that the last four years have inflicted. And the COVID numbers continue to skyrocket with another 57 days before we can get an actual adult in charge. And, well, everything else.

This year we did not meet up with our kids or in-laws as we have every year in the past. There was not a huge bird or a full table or a house full of laughter and jokes and football and parades. There was just a lovely dinner for two.

We set up Zoom meetings with the Long Suffering Wife’s family back east and then with our kids and in-laws out on the Left Coast. We relaxed and picked up the mess as the wind was howling (35 mph at times with gusts pushing 50) but overall it was a relaxing day, with a long weekend ahead to put up lights and start the Christmas celebrations.

I hope you and your family had a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving. And if you’re not in the US, then he, it’s Friday!! Celebrate along with us.

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Random Old Photos – November 25th

The seed thought for tonight’s random photo generator brainwave was, “What was I doing ten years ago?”

Wandering around down by the waterfront at a UC Berkeley facility after a storm, apparently.

WHY was I at Berkeley? That’s a long story. Let’s say that I was chasing wild geese and still getting a pay check for doing it. But it was interesting.

Have a safe Thanksgiving tomorrow if you’re in the US. I hope you’re able to stay home if possible. Missing Thanksgiving dinner sucks. But not nearly as much as being intubated, being a “long hauler,” or being a statistic.

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Paranoid Much?

I just got an email, not even spam, a legit email apparently, from DFW Airport, “Clean, Safe and Ready for the Holidays.”


Aside from their need to use the Oxford comma, I have to wonder why I’m getting this. To the best of my knowledge I’ve never subscribed to anything asking for information on DFW. Yes, I’ve flown through there many times – who in this country who’s flown more than a handful of times has not? It’s a hub for just about every major airline except Southwest. And while it’s possible (I guess?) that at one point when I was there I logged onto a public wi-fi network or looked up a terminal map (that place is freakin’ HUGE) and inadvertently gave permission to get notifications and ads, why have I never seen anything from them before? I didn’t check, but I don’t think I’ve been through there in at least three or four years.

So maybe it’s random. Maybe it’s innocent. Maybe they bought the subscriber database from Aviation Week & Space Technology (I’m a subscriber) and they’re doing a spammy email blast. Maybe.

Or maybe…

I got a phone call this morning from one of my co-workers about something I needed to look into since she’s gone. She was at DFW, transferring planes. Does the cell phone + computers + internet + Amazon/Apple/Google/IBM group AI know the origin of that call and flag it with that data in turn being cross referenced with advertisers and spammers?

Probably not. PROBABLY not. I know there are a lot of whacked out conspiracy theories out there and all, but c’mon! How paranoid do you want to be?

But if we have our family Zoom Thanksgiving and one of the kids mentions a video game and I don’t even have a game console and don’t play video games at all and I’m not researching it for any gift ideas or anything else even remotely connected to it and then I get an email from them…

I might start to get suspicious.

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Monster Movie

He tweeted this, she finally did that, and at last over two weeks after everyone else on the planet with any contact with reality had declared Biden to be the election winner, we’re starting to see the transition given the green light. It’s insane that it took this long, and it appears the attempted coup is still going to be played out until the bitter end by the cult, but it’s another big step to being where we can exhale at last and realize that in fifty-nine days it might actually be over.


Maybe it’s just PTSD. Maybe we’ve just had our emotions and fears assaulted for four years and we’re not capable of being hopeful and upbeat in an honest and healthy way. Or maybe we’ve just seen this plot in too many horror movies.

But even after you’ve blown the Terminator up, he comes back. Even after you freeze him in liquid nitrogen, the thaws. Even after you crush him in machinery, he just pulls off an arm and keeps coming. Even after you blow that honkin’ huge hole in him and drop him into the pit of molten metal…

Is he really dead?

We’ve done all of that. We’ve killed the monster, dismembered the body, buried each small piece in a deep grave covered in salt and holy water with a wooden stake through it, and…

…why is there still twenty minutes left in the movie? Or, in this case, fifty-nine days until our new Attorney General can start serving arrest warrants?

When do we get to relax? Oh, right, we can’t, there’s COVID…


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Mile 25

When you run the LA Marathon and you’re near the end, there’s a check point at the 40 kilometer point, which is essentially at Mile 25. There’s a little over a mile left, you’re near the coast (having started at Dodger Stadium and wound through Chinatown, downtown LA, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Century City, and finally Santa Monica) and if you’re running a good race you know that there’s a huge sense of accomplishment waiting around the bend, and a chance to rest following that.

BUT… You can’t let up. You have to finish strong. If you’re running your good race and you want that great time and you want to meet that goal that you’ve worked on for months and months, you need to keep up the pace and earn that rest.

Sunday night, especially this Sunday night before Thanksgiving, remind me of that feeling. It’s been a tough year in many respects and there has been a LOT of work put in on so many fronts. But I can’t let up yet – this next weekend there will be rest.

Here’s to a short week and a long weekend to come.

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A Small Spot Of Splendor

It’s so hard these days to keep looking for beauty, wonder, and splendor in the world around us. We’re bogged down with some serious existential terrors, and those are the GOOD days! But it’s still out there – we just have to remain open to it.

While we may note the exceptional sunsets (remember the skyline of the old house at times?), let’s not overlook the ones that have just a little bit of that colorful glory, a small spot of splendor far off in the distance, vanishing with the light.

We’re used to everything being spectacular on rare occasions and bland (at best) the rest of the time, but if we look closely, we might find that oddly fluorescent and vivid bit of the world around us, and be enraptured by it, if only for a moment.

We don’t have to know what causes it, whether it be a missed bit of timing or location, or bemoan what might have been a missed opportunity for more. We just have to be happy in that moment because it’s beautiful and we got to see it and be part of it – there’s plenty of time to be miserable and overwhelmed the other 1,439 minutes of the day.

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Eastern Panorama

The panorama function on the iPhone is amazing, but it can give some weird fisheye lens effects.

Our view down the hill, through the trees (where the owls and unexplained foreign quail hang out) and off toward the east. If you find the right spot through the trees you can see all the way to Griffith Observatory just north of downtown LA.

That sidewalk? It’s actually a circle around the backyard and from this point stretches out to my left and right behind me, back toward the house. So while it looks like I’m standing at the top of a deep ravine cutting into the hillside, in fact it’s convex, not concave.

Optics, FTW!

Have a quiet weekend, folks. God knows that I’m exhausted and can use a couple days off, with a short week and a four-day weekend ahead. I feel like I’m just barely going to make it to the finish line. I’m sure many (most?) of you know the feeling.

Keep breathing. One step at a time. Don’t panic!


Filed under Panorama, Photography

No Context For You – November 19th

1 – I’m so glad that I even remembered how to tie one.

2 – That’s not dandruff – there are little sparkly threads woven into the material.

3 – Wow, November 19th must be a tough day in my life! Typically the days when I’ve been beaten heavily about the head & shoulders (see, no dandruff!) are when I cop out, don’t want to write anything elaborate, and do a “No Context For You” post. It’s a shortcut. And WordPress, if you feed it the same post title, will add a “-1” to the end. This permalink is “no-context-for-you-november-19th-3” so I’m seeing a pattern here. That’s got to be four years in a row or four out of the last five or six when this date on the calendar was a “holy shit, I’m exhausted!” sort of day.

4 – Who knew?

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Hummingbird Song

What do hummingbirds sound like when they know the words?

The “humming” sound that hummingbirds make comes from their wings beating at 50+ strokes per second. Many (most?) folks think that hummingbirds to not have a song like other birds, but that’s not true. I’ve often heard them – it’s a sharp, almost electronic sounding, clicking noise.

Normally I hear a couple of clicks at a time – today, even inside the kitchen with the screen door open, I could hear one hummingbird just going nuts, emitting just a constant barrage of clicks. I could see it darting around the fruit trees and figured that by the time I got outside it would have stopped or it would have flown off, but that didn’t happen.

Warning: you’ll have to turn it up a fair amount, I couldn’t get too close and it’s not that loud of a sound.

This is an edited down video for filesize management, only ten seconds. He had been going on like this for several minutes before I went out, and the entire video I have is almost two minutes long before he finally flew off, still clicking.

I’m not sure what all of the ruckus was about. Mating? Predators? The feeders were empty? (They weren’t.) Ants in the feeders again? (They weren’t.) Thanks for keeping the feeders filled? (You’re welcome!)

Carry on, little hummer dude! Click away to your heart’s content!

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Filed under Critters, Video