Category Archives: Uncategorized

No Context For You – January 14th

There’s probably only one person who might read this who would recognize it, so for you there’s context. Sort of.

For everyone else, you get to wonder how little sleep I’ve had recently and how many times a night I’ve been getting woken up with leg cramps. Or maybe it just shows.

Getting old is not for the meek.

And the thought for the day, thanks to Dr. Julie Gurner (@drgurner) on Twitter:

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More Excellent Noise Tonight

Yesterday I noted that my watch warned me on Thursday about the noise levels at the Kings game.

There will be slightly fewer folks here than at the Crypt on Thursday. Capacity here is 17,500 vs 20,000 at Arena – but our band tonight will be a LOT louder.

It’s night #2 at the Hollywood Bowl for Danny Elfman’s Halloween 🎃 concert.

The moon was setting as we climbed the hill.

The crowd is packed – this is a hot ticket. The use of legal recreational pot is widespread, “No Smoking” signs be damned, and those of us not partaking are in danger of a contact high.

The opening act was loud and okay, but I didn’t catch their names and I have no urgent need to track them down.

Now, the full orchestra is assembled and momentarily it will be a Dead Man’s Party – literally!

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Focus & The Search For Flow

Thinking a bit this weekend about process and goals and methods, priorities and evaluating all of the same. The good news is that I’ve allowed myself (or forced myself, perhaps) to take that time and let my mind wander.

It always seems to come back to “balance” as a lynchpin. When time is tight and deadlines get near, I tend to get ultra focused on the goal. That’s good – but if you get too focused on that goal you can miss other issues and opportunites and get blindsided. Don’t lose track of the big picture. Focusing on landing the plane on the numbers and on the centerline is good, unless you lose sight of the flock of seagulls that you’re about to fly through with negative results.

There’s a thing folks talk about these days called “flow,” where you’re clicking on all cylinders, operating at a higher level, just churning out high quality results like they were flowing magically from your fingertips. I’ve occasionally gotten into the flow, and it is a sweet, sweet feeling. One aspect of it for me is that it’s not stressed or high pressure or tense. When I find the flow I’m relaxed, loose, and totally balanced. Think of a major league baseball pitcher who’s throwing a no-hitter or perfect game and it’s just smooth, like he’s on autopilot and can do no wrong.

But that’s wrong as well. You can’t be on autopilot, you have to have situational awareness, you have to be in control.

Which brought me back to the idea of “focus,’ but in a photographic sense. With my DSLRs, for “normal” photography I often have the camera set to autofocus, which is good and fast and easy most of the time. But I’m finding out that more and more, particularly with things like astrophotography, bird photography when they’re not in a simple location, critter photography where they’re trying to hide like their lives depend on it, then going to manual focus can be critical. Shooting into the shade at the base of the tree with a lizard there trying to look a lot like tree bark can fool the camera’s electronics. Peering into the sunlight and shadows of some lush fruit tree, your camera doesn’t know that you want to focus on that bird-like shape instead of those leaves. And looking at the Moon rising through the pine trees, some sensor and software designed ten or fifteen years ago doesn’t know to ignore the branches and make the Moon as sharp as possible.

This picture and the first one are a matched set, taken seconds apart with different techniques for focusing.

Keep track of your focus, assumptions, and situational awareness. Search for the flow – it’s out there. You can find it.

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Accurate, If Not Acceptable

How does one get the “jet lagged” (for lack of a better term) without ever leaving home?

WTF was coating that apple fritter?

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New Neighbors?

We already have two house finch nests out on the back porch, but they’re hidden well, tucked up behind a pair of outdoor speakers that the landlord had installed back when he lived here. However, we have a lot more finches around than those two pairs. They’re horny and flitting about all year around (they can have a couple clutches of eggs per year) and it looks like a third couple has started a nest.

The nest from two years ago is just to the left of this, two roof segments over. These pair of finches has been checking out all of these little compartments for several weeks, and it looks like they’ve finally settled on this one.

Good choice, with those couple of vines anchored up there, gives them a good base of support to build against. Some of their building material makes me think they found a coffee filter or some other trash to use. NONE of this was there yesterday, but by this afternoon they had a nice bit of construction done.

Later in the day they both came back several times to add on and to scout lookout positions. Lucy (the female) is up in the nest and Ricky (the male) is perched in the vines below the thermometer.

I’ve had a talk with them about how they’re very near the door to the back porch that we use all day long and we won’t bother them, but I don’t know if they got the message. Right now they’re still taking off like a bat out of Hell every time the door opens, just like the two right above that door, behind the speakers.

This may take some getting used to, by all of us.

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Evening Stroll

My watch bitches at me if I don’t get up and move around once an hour. I tend to take short walks around the yard, front or back, or down the block a house or two.

Tonight I noticed that the two street lights that have bedeviled my astrophotography and ISS photos for the last four years are both out. With the twelve day old moon 96% illuminate above it’s still easy to see, but for at least a hundred yards or so between working lights it’s strangely NOT like being in the middle of a huge metropolis.

Think what it’s like out there away from the metropolis and all of those working streetlights, porch lights, cars, stadiums, and so on. I’ve seen it, used to live there, but it’s been so long. LA’s pretty at night, Jim Morrison’s “city of light,” but I miss the dark sky and the stars.

Soon. I hope.

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Working Class Rose

Looking at some of the other roses that have been blooming in the last week, many are to me the equivalent of beautiful actresses or models. They’re the epitome of beauty and grace, hovering on the edge of perfection. They’re like the champion dogs at Westminster, meeting the standard established for “roses.”

This one didn’t give me that vibe.

The vibe I got from this rose is “working class.” This is the rose that isn’t going to be spending any time on a pedestal, being admired for “perfection.” But for all of that it’s no less beautiful, no less aromatic, no less stunning in its subtle colors and enormous ball of petals.

This is a “Rosie the Riveter” of roses (yes, I did that on purpose), getting the rose job done and getting it done well, without worrying about any extra effort on useless style points. It’s big, it’s brash, and it will kick your ass (and cut your fingers) if you don’t give it the respect and admiration it deserves. This rose didn’t come from Beverly Hills where the beautiful people lounge, it comes from Philly and has a nine to five job and the attitude to go along with it.

I love this rose!

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Do Foreign Directors Make Watered Down Versions Of Cool American Films?

What might spark such an odd question, one might ask?

Back in the early, early days of pay television in Los Angeles, probably even before HBO or Showtime, when the “premium” or pay-TV came on an over-the-air channel that was scrambled, with about eight hours of service a day, I saw a Brazilian film called “Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands.” In short, a woman marries a red hot lover who gambles and drinks and finally dies, then marries a boring but reliable doctor. The second husband takes good care of her, but the sex sucks and he’s dull. Then the ghost of her first husband appears, always naked, and complicates her life considerably.

There was a reason it was shown at midnight on an encrypted channel. I loved it.

“Dona Flor” was made in 1976. In 1982 an American film came out called “Kiss Me Goodbye,” starring Sally Field, James Caan, and Jeff Bridges. (James Caan is the dead husband, you can figure out the rest from there.) They don’t even try to say that it’s not a re-make. The original screenwriters get credit on the American version as well.

But after watching them both… Why?

It’s not a terrible film. The talent is decent, it comes across as a perfectly serviceable, odd, screwball comedy. It has moments.

But the original film was fantastic!

Tonight “Kiss Me Goodbye” is on some cable channel or the other, there’s nothing else on, so I’ve got it on as background noise. (The honkin’ big TV also helps keep the room warm.) But it just bugs me that it’s so watered down and bland compared to the original. Thus the original question.

Do foreign directors make versions of “The Godfather” without all of the violence? Family friendly versions of “Kill Bill” with everyone using water guns instead of swords? Somewhere is there a French or Brazilian version of “Full Metal Jacket” starring a former children’s show actor?

Just curious.

Watch the original, it’s got to be available out there somewhere these days. NSFW, but much more satisfying.


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Brighter Days Ahead

Physically and astronomically, at least. The political and social aspect of “brighter” are much more uncertain.

But erase us from the planet in an eyeblink and the rest of the biosphere in the Northern Hemisphere will merrily go onward toward June 21st with each day getting more hours of daylight.

The winter solstice is three weeks behind us, the Christmas lights are off and it’s a bit darker out there for that.

The moonlight waxes and wanes from night to night and that porch light can only do so much. Orion can guide our way, but we’ll have to bring our own inner light to our actions and attitudes.

Be kind. Be aware. Be responsible.

Get fully vaccinated. Wear a mask. Stay away from indoor crowds. Socially distance.

Be intelligent. Stay out of the cults that seem to be fracturing our society.

Be an adult but hold tight to a childlike sense of wonder.

Balance maintenance of a healthy skepticism with an open mind driven by facts.

Have fun.

Enjoy life.

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Bob & Weave

It was chaotic, it was over full, it was stressful. But at least there was a plan.

Then things changed. And now, it’s chaotic, it’s hectic, it’s stressful. But there’s no plan at the moment.

It will be fine. I’m not the one who is having issues. No one’s dying. At least, not today and not anyone I know. It’s just a bit…disorienting.

EGBOK! Everything’s Gonna Be OK! And it will.

But for the moment it’s one step at a time. Literally.

When I was a kid and we lived in the Kansas City area our house had a fairly steep in half of our back yard. There was a chain link fence at the bottom, to keep me and my siblings in I suspect, not to keep others out. My dad worked with computer drum drives on mainframes and would occasionally bring home one of the shipping containers they were transported in. They were cylindrical, heavy, thick cardboard, about four feet long, about three feet in diameter, a little bigger than a trash can.

We would cram three of us in there, sort of like tennis balls in a can, then roll it down that hill. It would pick up some pretty good speed, then slam into that fence. We would tumble out, always dizzy as hell, sometimes bruised, always giggling and laughing and trying to run back up the hill to do it again.

Today feels a bit like that, trying to run back up that hill while super dizzy and a bit bruised and banged up.

There’s less giggling and laughing, but I’m trying to keep my sense of humor about it all. So far, so good.

But I really would prefer not to do it again.

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