Category Archives: Photography

No Context For You – September 27th

How can we possibly be at the end of September?

Time seems more fluid, more flexible, more fungible than ever before. I don’t know if that’s a product of my age or this age, whether I’m changing or the world is.

Or all of the above.

But I’m not sure I’m that happy with it. Perhaps if I were more able to see how things were getting “better,” as opposed to “different.”

In the end it all comes down to figuring out what you want, how to get from here to there, and then doing the work to get there.

Tomorrow’s another day. At least we’re not in Florida. Or Cuba. And if you are, be safe.


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Filed under Photography, Random Blatherationings

Sunset Again

It’s a few days past the autumn solstice and we had just enough clouds and atmospheric smoke and dust to make the sunset interesting.

Meanwhile, the incoming Hurricane Ian that’s about to hit Florida made my day “interesting.”

Our payroll provider is in the Tampa Bay area. Our payroll would normally be processed Wednesday & Thursday.

So we played “52 pickup” with my work schedule for the week.

Happy Monday!

At least the clouds were pretty for ten minutes.

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Filed under Photography, Sunsets

The Final Delta IV Heavy From Vandenberg

There are stories to be told, maybe, but if so, later. Today was a full day, and a day full of ADVENTURE! The good kind.

Tonight, just the pictures. I’ve had enough time to see what I have and what I missed and clean it all up a bit.

In short, I made it up to Lompoc, about 135 miles north of where I in western Los Angeles County.

The second I opened the window to take this picture, a large, weird bug flew into my ear.

To orient us, the launch site was at Space Launch Complex #6 (Slick-6) as marked on the left side, right near the coast. I was where the blue dot was in the middle right, just barely outside Lompoc city limits. The “heart” pins indicate places where I had flagged from online articles as good places for Vandenberg launch viewing. I was headed for one of the two on Ocean Avenue to the west of where I stopped, but the police had the road closed before I got to either.

I was guessing that we were about eight miles from the launch site. Whatever! This was a new experience, a chance to learn how to do this more in the future. I got settled.

Next to us was a guy working on his field. I have no idea if he loves rockets or hates the crowds. In the background you can see some of the fairly large crowd parked aside the road between his fields.

There was what I perceived to be a large crowd, even if it wasn’t gargantuan. (Try getting out of the Rose Bowl after an N’Sync concert!) Folks were lining all of the roads all the way back into town and beyond, plus any open side road.

There were turkey vultures flying overhead.

There were turkeys taking selfies. Off on the horizon on the left, my best guess by eyeballing the map said that the rocket would come up over one of those two peaks behind that barn.

I was right. (For all of these rocket photos, I haven’t cropped them. They’re all shot with a 300mm telephoto lens – click on the photos to blow them up to full sized, there’s actually some decent detail in the rockets and plumes!)

The rocket cleared the hills about 18 seconds after liftoff. We had plenty of folks with radios who were listening to ULA Launch Control, so we knew when it lifted off.

Remember my guess of eight miles to the pad? That was pretty close, it was just over 40 seconds before we started hearing the engines.

From our vantage point, the rocket seemed to go right next to the sun, which was a rude surpose to those of us (i.e., me) who were looking at it through a telephoto lens.

For a brief time around then there was a really nice condensation trail, which made it much easier to follow.

Here’s a wider angle view from a video screen capture. I’ll have to play with the video to see if there’s anything else that’s salvagable.

Back at SLC-6.

And then there was traffic. And other adventures to tell about later. And maybe video.

Was it worth the three hour drive each way?



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Filed under Photography, Space, Travel

Nature’s Popcorn Dritter Teil

Yesterday, after I saw the tiny dude from the previous post, I went walking around the back yard and spotted another tiny dude.

This guy was not nearly as calm as the first one, skittering and running like hell when I was still twenty feet or more away.

He got off of the grass and onto the dirt very quickly, letting his natural camaflouge work for him.

If I hadn’t seen him skitter over there, I’m not sure I would have noticed him as I walked by if he didn’t move.

He only waited a few seconds before moving to make his escape over the edge and down the hill, even though I had frozen.

Not sure why he thought I was such a threat. I think it has something to do with the “popcorn” title and the idea that everything and everyone is trying to eat you.

And there he goes, just the tip of his tail left! Total time of the encounter, from first picture to last? Twenty-eight seconds.

Tomorrow, with luck, an adventure!

As many times as I’ve talked about going up the coast about 150 miles to Vandenberg to see a launch, it’s never quite worked out. But tomorrow, the final Delta IV Heavy launches from the west coast (there are two more scheduled from Florida before the rocket is discontinued and replaced with the Vulcan rocket) and my schedule is otherwise clear. No super critical work deadlines, no more Wing activities for the CAF, no travel, no Chiefs game – “no obligations.”

So, footloose & fancy free, I plan to wander up the coast to Lompoc, see if I can find a wide spot off of the road near the base entrance or on the beach if it’s open and not foggy, and watch a really freakin’ big rocket take off.

I’ll let you know how it goes…


Filed under Critters, Photography, Space, Travel

Nature’s Popcorn Part Deux

Here’s the same little guy as the other day but with the “big” camera and lens. (Canon DSLR with a 300mm telephoto lense instead of an iPhone 13 Pro Max.)

I don’t know if it’s because I was coming up behind him or not, but I got a lot closer than I did two days ago.

Or maybe it’s just that he had a really good, warm spot and didn’t want to leave if he didn’t have to.

Once he saw me, he kept me in his sights. Lots of side eye.

As long as I moved really, really slowly (and stayed at least seven to eight feet away) he was sorta okay.

That board he’s on is about a half-inch thick (maybe 1.5 centimeters).

That gives you a good scale. He’s not very big at all.

Still bigger than when I first saw him (and his siblings) a week or so ago.

Just hanging out, trying to learn to balance, both physcially on the edge of the board, and in terms of threat assessment, balancing the need to be in the sun and warm vs. being exposed to predators.

Ah, he’s lifting his tail, bringing it out of the shade and into the sunlight. For warmth, or as a prelude to flight?

It was flight. He was off in an instant into the brown grass and essentially invisble.

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Filed under Critters, Photography

Nature’s Popcorn

That’s a phrase I’ve heard Dr. Earyn McGee use more than once on Twitter referring to tiny baby fence lizards. (Also, tomorrow’s Wednesday, so a reminder that Dr. McGee runs the best “game” on Twitter on Wednesday nights. At 17:00 PT you can get her picture of the week with a lizard in there somewhere and try to #FindThatLizard. When you do, let folks know with the #FoundThatLizard hashtag, with the answer revealed at 21:00 PT. It’s fantastic!)

Well, we’ve had another hatching. We got back from Chicago two weeks ago and I’ve noticed them all over the dry dirt of the back yard. Most aren’t more than an inch or two inches long. You almost don’t see them so much as you see their shadows as they skitter for cover.

She calls them that (I believe) because they hatch by the dozens, but the vast majority of them don’t survive long. They get eaten pretty quickly by birds, other lizards, and anything else fast enough to catch them.

Don’t underestimate that speed. The reason these pictures are marginal is because they’re taken from 20+ feet away with my iPhone on full digital zoom. If I get any closer, POOF!! They’re scattering at Warp Nine.

Maybe one or two of them will win the Darwin lottery and make it to a spot in the front yard under the car, as front door dragon, or big boy of the back yard next year.


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Filed under Critters, Photography

In Search Of A Little Green

We started restrictions on lawn watering back in June (or was it May?) and between that and several solid weeks of 100+ºF days every single day, the back yard has taken a beating.

But abour ten days ago, just after we got back from Chicago, there were some hurricane remnants wandering through and we got a tiny bit of rain here. Other places out in the mountains and deserts inland, out beyond Palm Springs and into Nevada and Arizona, some isolated spots got enough rain to cause some flash flooding and mudslides, but here we got maybe 0.2 inches of rain over a 24-hour stretch.

Plus, since then it’s been mostly in the mid-80’s every day instead of 100+.

Did it help?

I’m going to go with a resounding, “Maybe?”

I’m not sure how much of it is wishful thinking and how much is actual recovery, but it seems to be a tiny little bit more green than it was.

I’m not talking about those tall, long desert grasses on the right, it’s the standard issue monoculture lawn grass on the left hand side of that barrier that I’m wondering about. Maybe? In spots? Kinda?

At this point, I would be happy to have the lawn hanging on in a “less dead” state than even bothering to hope for “thriving.” Let’s manage our expectations, folks.

This would be another benefit to owning our home instead of renting. If we owned I would be ripping out the wanna be putting green and putting in some low water, desert vegitation and flowers, along with some succulents, cactus, rocks, pathways, and lots of fancy gravel or decomposed granite in between everything. It would look great, be very low maintenance, and have ultra low water requirements. Maybe a bench or two, a birdbath, some bird feeders…

I think we’ll probably be out of the drought via natural causes and a couple of consecutive El Niño years before the owner will be doing that. Brown and dusty might be the new norm. With just the slightest, semi-hallucinatory bit of green mixed in…


Filed under Castle Willett, Photography, Weather

And A New Week Is Upon Us

My usual Monday phrase at work for every informal email or text is “Happy Monday!”

I’ve made it quite clear to everyone else on the team that this is 1% a “fake it ’til you make it” philosophy and 99% utter sarcasm. If they ever detect even one part per billion of sincerity in there I am to be immediately institutionalized and given a full course of rabies shots.

It is what it is.

Here, have a random picture of some plants in my back yard as I was dropping my phone while out futzing and getting soaked in the middle of the night tonight.

Happy Monday Eve!

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Filed under Farce, Photography

The Same Way Bricks Don’t

It’s truly astonishing how big these jets are.

Coming out of LAX, even at over 10,000 feet and almost 300 knots, it looks freakishly large. Yet it just seems to float there, as Douglas Adams said, the same way bricks don’t.

Airbus 380. Impressive.

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Filed under Flying, Photography

No Context For You – September 16th

While I know where and when the picture was taken, I don’t know what it is, what it does, or whose sneaker that is.

I’m pretty sure it’s not mine.

In other not-so-riveting news, you may noticed that after two weeks of writing for Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction prompts (here and here, and I liked them a lot), this is the third week in a row where there hasn’t been one.

The first reason is simple – Chuck’s been busier than god (he might have been at Worldcon or Dragoncon or both) and we haven’t gotten new prompts for the last three weeks. Not that I’m in any way blaming, it’s a volunteer space that Chuck provides to begin with, so I’m more than happy with whatever we can get. But if he doesn’t do the prompt…

Secondly, given what my schedule has been like for the past month between deadlines at work (which we met – I do sincerely LOVE being on one of those “highly functioning teams” that they taught us about in the Pepperdine MBA program!) and the trip to Chicago for Worldcon, I don’t see any way that I could have squeezed in time to write in those three weeks. So I guess it all worked out.

Finally, are there other “Flash Fiction” prompts out there that are open to whoever wants to jump in? If you know of any, please point me to the sites in the comments. I want and need to be writing, it’s time to open up my options!

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Filed under Photography, Writing