No Implied Context For You – The Day After November 19th

So, last night it was late and I was doing a quickie “No Context” post which usually means I go through my iPhone photos and find something vague and/or blurry and/or bizarre and then write a few paragraphs of free association with it.

It’s not supposed to be deep, it’s just supposed to be quick. (Deep would be gravy, but I’m not holding my breath waiting for it.)

With an image that was various shades of brown and tan and had a bright spot in the upper corner (done, if I recall, by noticing that with the camera on but the camera face down on the desk it made different various gradients and lights depending on the overhead shadows and lighting) my first thought was that I was underwater in a very muddy place with the ray of sunlight to swim up toward to escape. Then, of course, it occurred to me that it might not be muddy water but something more fecal, and that in general was in tune with what’s going on in the world today, particularly in Washington and London, and I went with it.

This might have worried some folks.

It was a metaphor, or possibly a simile or an analogy, or even an allegory. Probably not a similitude.

I’m fine. While there might be days when I’m figuratively drowning in shit (who among us doesn’t in these interesting times?) I am not in any real sense literally drowning in shit.

So, here’s that same image, sprinkled with a few seconds of Photoshop magic, to be much more happier and much more upbeat. (Which is an anthropomorphication which is just as much BS as portraying last night’s as sad and downbeat, but hey, “whetevs” as the kids say. [The kids do not say this.])

Now it’s an algae-filled tank I’m swimming in, but it’s that special new bioengineered algae that’s going to give us unlimited, CO2 free energy while simultaneously sucking the excess CO2 from the atmosphere, pushing the CO2 levels back down below 300 ppm and saving us from climate change. That salvation would be the electronically enhanced, bigger, and brighter future in the upper right.

(DAMN, that’s smarmy!)

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Filed under Art, Paul, Photography

No Context For You – November 19th

Yep. Some days the world is like this.

We recognize that color. We know where it comes from and what it smells like. We’re pretty sure the world looks like this because we’re over our head in it.

But there’s that little bit of light up there. Maybe we’ll move that way and hope that it’s someplace better.

Tomorrow.

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Filed under Deep Thoughts, Photography

LOOK!!

Tonight on Twitter, someone wrote:

…which prompted a response from someone I follow…

…to which I said…

But seriously, folks! Why does everyone on the plane shut the window shade throughout the whole flight these days??!!

Being at 5,000, or 25,000, or 45,000 feet gives us a viewpoint on the world that was flat out impossible only 100 years ago, and was still highly unusual to the average person 60 or 70 years ago. Even today, despite how commonplace air travel has begun, for 90%+ of us it’s something we might see once or twice a year. For probably half of the US population or more it’s something they experience only every few years.

The world is a different place seen from above. The clouds come in myriad shapes and forms, flowing over vast distances, breaking up into puffy cotton balls, building into monstrous thunderheads. Sunrise from high altitude is the closest most of us will come to seeing an orbital sunrise, while sunset lingers and elongates time as the sky darkens and the stars come out.

You’ll always know where I’m sitting on the plane if I get a window seat. It doesn’t matter if it’s night – there might be aurora or stars. It doesn’t matter if it’s cloudy – I love looking at the clouds. It doesn’t matter if it’s a ten-hour flight over open water – I’ll watch for ships or islands or whales or mermaids.

I’ve seen full double rainbows while dodging thunderstorms on final into DFW. I’ve seen the Grand Canyon as a gash in the earth, while the Rockies covered with snow even in April and May look like the Earth’s ragged teeth. Rivers meandering, from the Mississippi to the Rio Grande and Potomac, tributaries branching off like poster children for fractal math.

Whole cities can be laid out before you. The Las Vegas Strip at night with enough neon to scare away the stars themselves. Washington DC laid out like a model, monuments and tourist sites elbow to elbow. New York City with Central Park beckoning and a lady standing in her harbor, Seattle with Mt. Rainier on guard, the Golden Gate and Bay Bridge connecting San Francisco to its neighbors, Chicago and Lake Michigan spreading out like the spokes of a wheel. And for me, the American City of Lights, Los Angeles, lit up like a jewel for 100 miles in every direction, freeways like ribbons of light, the Hollywood sign off to the north, and the fireworks from Disneyland in Anaheim to the south.

Yet on almost flight I’ve taken in the past couple of years, by the time we’ve taxied out and are taking off, 90% of the shades are down. People have logged onto the plane’s wifi and they’re doing the exact same damn things they were doing on the ground. They’re answering boring emails, watching idiot videos, or playing mindless games. While outside, just a few inches away, are wonders and fantastic sights.

We’re jaded. We’ve lost our sense of wonder.

We’ve lost our minds.

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Filed under Flying, Travel

Bold Lizard

I went out into the back yard (it was about 89ยฐF – sorry to my friends in the sub-freezing climes) and spooked a lizard.

This is one of the “tree Freds” – they’re often found sunning themselves on the side of a large tree just off to the right in this view. I went out for something, Tree Fred felt that caution was in order, and he bolted for the bushes along the fence, seen behind him.

But he stopped to watch me. He was a bold lizard today.

I had time to go in and get my good camera with the telephoto lens and Tree Fred was still waiting.

I took a couple of pictures from across the yard, just after I came out onto the porch, then started slowly walking toward him, a couple steps at a time.

Every time I got closer I expected him to bolt, but he was a Bold Lizard!

I was getting a lot of side eye, and I’m pretty sure he knew that he was much faster than I was. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that he could make it into those bushes before I could blink, if he so chose.

I finally got within about five feet of him, then backed off in respect for his ectothermic lifestyle. He had a nice, toasty spot on the sidewalk and who was I to deny him those solar photons? I promised to keep on taking any crickets that I found in the house and releasing them back into his bushes. I’m going to assume he appreciates it.

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Filed under Castle Willett, Critters, Photography

Planets After Sunset

Once again, serendipity rears its ugly head!

A long day at the hangar meant that I was leaving just after sunset with a crystal clear (windy, dry, high fire danger) sky and a gorgeous sunset.

Not only was the gradient stunning, but so were those two bright planets!

That’s Jupiter on top (leaving the evening sky) and Venus on the bottom (entering it). I knew that Mercury might be seen under the right conditions, but was pretty sure that it had either set by this time or was really close to the horizon in the glare and probably not a naked-eye object.

So I checked.

(Image from StarWalkHD for the iPad)

Yeah, Mercury is last week’s news, already on the other side of the Sun, setting before it does. But…

Saturn’s up? I must have forgotten that.

I don’t see it in the photos above, but then, those photos had had the exposure shortened so they would closely resemble what I saw my eye was seeing. I had started by taking a couple of photos and letting the iPhone expose them, which meant they looked way too bright and the colors were all off. But with a longer exposure, maybe…

Click on the image, blow it up to full sized, then look to the upper left, just like in the StarWalk image.

See it?

How about now?

I would note for the record that, according to that image, Pluto is out there just above and to the left of Saturn. But given that I can’t see it even in a dark sky location with my 8″ telescope, I don’t think the iPhone 8 is pulling that one in.

Maybe I need an iPhone 11 Pro?

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Filed under Astronomy, CAF, Photography, Space

Another Tree Heard From

Earlier this week the trees (aspens? poplars?) in front of our office building went from green to bright yellow overnight.

This afternoon some of the trees on the back side of the building were trying for some oranges and reds.

We’ll see how much they get done. For right now it’s a valiant effort, but they have a lot of practice to do before they’re ready for the big leagues in New England and upstate New York.

No tourism calendars will be showing these trees as an enticement to come and visit Beautiful Agoura Hills – but they beat looking at burnt hillsides and ash while taking a break from the office!

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Filed under Los Angeles, Photography

Sunset – November 14th

From the parking lot at the new office – ground level, no horizon views like I had from the second story of the parking garage at the old office.

I think I might have missed “peak sunset” by about five minutes, maybe ten.

I also noticed a really big plane up there, probably descending toward the downwind leg into LAX from Malibu (about 10 miles over the mountains to our left) to downtown LA. It didn’t look like a passenger jet, even one of the big new jumbo jets. More like a C-5 or Antonov 225. Huh…

Just on the other side of the frontage road on the right is the 101 Freeway. At this point and at this time the traffic headed back into the San Fernando Valley through the Calabasas Grade is moving right along. One or two exits down the road it will slow to an absolute crawl. (Fun times!)

The iPhone compensates for the low light by taking a photo that’s quite bright. What did it really look like?

Something more like this. Less detail and color, but much more like what the eye saw then in real life.

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