Not Stopping To Smell The Flowers

It’s not that I don’t stop to smell the flowers – god knows there are enough pictures of them here. But as a comment on how you should slow down in life and take the time to enjoy the little things, my preferred activity would be to stop and listen to the birds.

And there are few as entertaining to listen to as the mockingbirds.

I understand that not everyone appreciates them, especially when they’re singing all damn night at top volume outside your window. My first wife in particular sort of hated them, while I look at it as Nature’s lullaby.

We’ve got several pairs in the neighborhood. While they’re not sounding off every night, 365 days a year, right now seems to be a prime time for them. (I know that it’s only the bachelor males who sing all night long.)

The other night I wandered out and recorded a few minutes of one particularly noisy (and presumably particularly horny) male, along with a passing motorcycle down on Valley Circle Drive and all of the neighbors’ air conditioning units rumbling in the background:

Enjoy! The range and variety of song just goes on and on and on! (Whether you’re trying to sleep or not…)

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Filed under Castle Willett, Critters

Vermont Panorama – VT22

From our trip to Vermont two weeks ago. We had just parked at the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory in Shelburne (seen at the far left) and I climbed this embankment to see what was up there and look at the clouds.

(Click to see the full-sized image!)

Aside from some nice Adirondack chairs, off in the distance I saw some planes and a couple of hangars. But where’s the runway?

See all of that grass?

This is VT22, Shelburne Farms airport, with a 1,900′ grass runway, and plenty of other grass on the side to park your plane on. A quick check on ForeFlight says you need to plan ahead to fly in there – no gas, no services.

In my flight training I’ve flown into small airports with no towers, but I’ve never flown into a grass strip.

Maybe next time we’re in Vermont and need a bear we can just fly in and walk over instead of driving all the way up to Shelburne!

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Filed under Panorama, Photography, Travel

Yes, A Second Major Earthquake

We’re fine, it was a decent distance away. Tonight’s M7.1 quake was about 125 miles away from us, same as the M6.4 quake yesterday.

For those of you who don’t live on shaky ground, that means that for a major quake like that (we’ll see in the morning what’s going on in Ridgecrest and places near the epicenter, but a M7.1 will be knocking down buildings and collapsing bridges) is that here we felt very little of the violent shaking and rattling that you see near the epicenter, but lots of the the rolling and swaying that you get far away.

It’s a matter of physics and geology – check out the CalTech and USGS sites for details. The short version is that the violent, energetic, and largely vertical P-waves don’t travel very far through rock, while the horizontal S-waves with a much higher amplitude do. Then the S-waves damp out as they spread (very much like water waves if you drop a big stone into a calm pool) so 125 miles away you’re likely to feel seasick or dizzy instead of being thrown up against a wall as the bookshelf is falling over and trapping you underneath.

Tonight’s major quake being about eleven times as strong as yesterday’s means that the “oh, is that an earthquake? I think that it probably is!” reaction for 30 seconds or so was supplanted by tonight’s “holy shit, I think this might be getting bigger! sit down and hang on!!!” response for 60 or 90 seconds. Much more adrenaline, the same amount of actual damage. (i.e., NONE)

The scientists at CalTech (who all deserve medals and/or sainthood for dealing with the idiot reporters) always say there’s about a 1 in 20 chance on any earthquake that it will in fact be a foreshock, to be followed by a bigger quake in the next couple of days. Today we hit the jackpot! That’s great – until you hear them saying the same thing about today’s quake having a 1 in 20 chance of being a foreshock of something EVEN BIGGER tomorrow or Sunday.

That would be…exciting.

At least we’re not having any brush fires tonight! Just a couple of really energetic and loud mockingbirds who don’t seem to know that it’s bedtime.

1 in 20, eh? Feeling lucky, punk?

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Filed under Disasters

A Most Bizarre Fourth Of July

First, there was a pretty decent sized earthquake.

I felt it as a long, slow swaying motion, sort of like being on a dock that’s floating free when the wake from a motorboat passes by. There was no rattling or shaking, no sharp movements, and no noise. But it went on and on, at least 30 seconds, possibly twice that. I had time to feel it, know what it was, and get out into the other room, where I could still feel it while standing for a while.

I recognize that phenomenon – it means there was a fairly big earthquake a fair distance away. (I felt the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake like that even though it was over 400 miles away.) This one was about 120 miles away.

It was “exciting.”

Then this afternoon I started hearing multiple helicopters coming low over the house and multiple sirens along Valley Circle Boulevard. Unfortunately, I recognize that phenomenon as well – brush fire!

Yep, that’s the same area that burned last November and kept us for four days with all of our critical documents and belongings packed in the car “just in case.” My money says that today’s brush fire was started by some moron with illegal fireworks.

Fortunately, winds were light, it wasn’t terribly hot, and LA City and LA County and Ventura County Fire Departments jumped on it pretty quickly with over two dozen fire trucks and crews and at least four helicopters. It took a couple of hours, but it’s out.

I hope your Fourth was more fun and less stressful than mine!

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Filed under Castle Willett, Disasters, Photography

Halfway Through 2019

Give or take a few hours, we’re halfway through 2019. How are we doing?

2018 was a tough one in many respects, but there were some bright spots. While that whole “moving” experience kicked my ass, there was travel and some fun, especially to finish the year with the trip to Seattle and Kansas City.

2019 so far as been…





And that’s before you bother to turn on the news. *shudder*

Here’s to hoping that the second half of 2019 raises the average and finishes strong.

Here’s to hoping that we find untapped reserves of strength, hope, faith, and patience.

Here’s to busting our ass to keep going and making it better even when we’re too damn tired.

Here’s to sticking to it and not bailing too early, to having the courage to pull the ripcord and ride the hurricane when it’s time – and to having the wisdom (or the luck) to know when that time arrives.

Here’s to finding some good tunes, a fine book, and a quiet spot when all you’ve got left is to hold on and not do anything stupid to make it worse.

And here’s to being here for one another when we stumble and fall, to help each other back up, to hold each other when we need to cry, and to celebrate with each other when we triumph.

I’ll be here.


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Filed under Deep Thoughts, Paul

Side Effects

When I was at Urgent Care last week and hadn’t had more than about ten minutes’ consecutive sleep in three or four days due to the 24/7/365 coughing fits, I didn’t ask about the side effects of the industrial-strength drugs I was begging for. Not wanting to be dead or dying was pretty much the one and only priority on the table.

Now that I’ve run the course of those prescriptions (both for only four or five days, since they did their magic and I could again breathe and occasionally sleep without coughing to the point where I turned inside out) and I’m getting back to normal (hey, you, shut up, I can too be normal!) I’m noticing some of the lingering side effects.

Even if I had known then what I know now, I still would have taken the prescriptions (duh!) but it would have been nice to know in advance what to expect.

Feeling a little bit “fuzzy?” It must be lingering effects of the cold. (Wrong!)

So tired that you’re falling asleep driving to work in the morning and trying hard not fall asleep on your desk at lunch? That cold must have really taken it out of you! (Wrong!)

Got that horrible feeling of existential dread and impending doom? Dude, you’ve really got to stay off of Twitter and stop watching the political news! (Okay, that one’s true, but the effect isn’t helped at all by that medicinal cocktail.)

It finally occurred to me to check today. Geez! This isn’t “normal.” This is, “God, I hope I never really get any of those diseases where this crap is used every day for years or longer because this sucks, four or five days is plenty!”

I know, lots of water. Flush my system. Out with the bad, in with the good.

But I still need sleep. How am I supposed to get any when I’m getting up to pee every half hour all night long?

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Filed under Health

No Context For You – July 1st

We’re half way through 2019.

My voice is coming back and I’m talking way too much when I should be resting it and quiet.

I’m out of Twitter Timeout, still without a clue about what triggered it.

I’m furious abut this, incredibly frustrated about that, concerned about a friend, the tiniest bit hopeful about this other thing (against all my better judgement), and overall I am just absolutely exhausted.

How are you doing?

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Filed under Paul, Photography