Lightning

Sort of out of nowhere today the weather kicked up over the Catalina Channel to our south and a series of fairly good sized thunderstorm cells started drifting north over the Los Angeles basin. We don’t get that sort of weather often, maybe once every couple of years at best, and often even when we do, the storms tend to drift inland into Riverside and San Bernardino Counties and miss us over here at the far west end of Los Angeles County.

Not today.

It’s no secret that I absolutely ❤ LOVE ❤ rain and thunderstorms. So when they started coming in, I grabbed a whole slew of cameras and gear over the evening to take pictures of the clouds (some fantastic pictures of mammatus clouds right over head), to listen to the rain, wind, and thunder, and to try to catch lightning strikes on video.

Eventually about 20:30 there was a good sized cell sitting just to our south.

(Image from NOAA High-Def Weather Radar app)

Sitting out in the back yard, listening to the rain pounding on the back porch roof and the howling of the wind, seeing the flashes of lightning, this (long-ish, 4:31 total) clip ends (at 3:36) with a HUGE boomer. That was a good one!

A little later things had fired up again and a couple of big thunder boomers had rattled the house, so I took my iPhone out into the front. Another cell was coming in south of Calabasas, so I started recording. It was raining pretty hard, so I stayed on the porch, but then I couldn’t see the sky real well, so I decided to walk down to the garage door, figuring I could lean against the garage and stay pretty much out of the rain, but still have a good view of the sky. Just as I got there, at about 0:55 in this clip, and turned around… (I urge caution if you’re listening with headphones or earbuds or have the volume turned up!!)

BOOOOOOOOOOM!!!!!!!!!

How I managed to not clear out the deepest darkest corner of my obscenity directory, I’ll never know. How I managed to not come in with brown jeans when I went out with blue jeans, I’ll never know.

Curious, once I got my heart rate back down into double digits, while editing the video I checked a few figures on the timeline.

The frame where the bolt struck, at 1:02977 seconds.

The frame where the sound hit, at 1.04070 seconds.

That’s an elapsed time of 1.093 seconds. With the speed of sound being 1100 feet per second, that means that the bolt hit somewhere down the street 1,202 feet away.

That’s a really high “pucker factor.”

Furthermore, look at the soundtrack magnified way, way up:

About 1/20 second before the sound hit, there’s this.

An extremely vivid part of my memory of the event is that the incredibly bright flash hit, but in that 1.093 seconds between the strike and the sound I very distinctly heard a frying or sizzling noise, almost like someone on the roof right above me had a big sheet of cellophane and was crumbling it up into a ball. I think this is that sound. Why I would hear it separate from the “BOOOOOOM!” and every so slightly earlier, I don’t know.

Looking at the map shows more waves of showers building to the south and headed our way…

…with more behind that.

It could be a VERY long night!

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Filed under Photography, Video, Weather

Hunting Alligator Lizards

No pictures, yet. But I’ve seen it.

First, happy to report that yesterday’s goals of getting some down time were met. Groceries, football, a nap (naps are SO wasted on toddlers, they have no clue how wonderful they are) – it was an excellent start. Of course, tomorrow’s Monday, but little steps.

Anyway, anyone who’s read this site for any length of time has seen lizards. Almost all are fence lizards, at most about eight or nine inches long, most smaller, some very small. At first I thought they were California alligator lizards, but it seems that they’re in fact western fence lizards. The body size and shape gives them away. The alligator lizards are long and thin and can get bigger, well over a foot long, while the fence lizards are shorter, thicker, squatter, and rarely get over nine or ten inches.

Knowing that now, I think the only time I’ve seen an alligator lizard was the one at the old house about four years ago. The one that showed up in our toilet in the house. Fredzilla.

Looking through the pictures you can see how much longer Fredzilla was, how much longer his tail was in proportion to his body, how skinny he was, how his head shape is different. Best guess – California alligator lizard.

(As always, I’m guessing, not a herpetologist.)

So a few days ago, new house, no Fredzillas here, starting to see fewer of the fence lizards as it starts to cool and they start go bed down for the winter. Out on the front porch, tucked away in the corner, there’s one of those big plastic bins that you get from the hardware store that are used to stash away about fifty feet of garden hose. I picked it up and slid it four or five feet until I got to the end of the connecting hose…

…and underneath was an alligator lizard that was probably 20% to 30% bigger than Fredzilla. It was over two feet long if it was an inch. And it was just as surprised as I was.

In about two seconds it had scuttled back under the hose reel box where I had put it down. I considered lifting the box up again, but a) it was heavy and I didn’t want to throw out my back, b) I was awkward to lift and I didn’t want to put it down on top of FredZilla II and squish it, and c) I didn’t want FredZilla II freaking out and heading for parts unknown where I would never see it again.

For now I’m assuming it’s still under there from time to time, and in the vicinity in general. I do have to move that hose reel box back at some point, so maybe I’ll set up a couple of cameras to watch when I move it back to see if it’s under there then. If not, I’ve got a trail cam that I can set up at ground level out there, maybe that will catch some photos of it.

The hunt is afoot! Photos only, no captures or injuries or death. Is FredZilla II real or just a hallucination of my aging brain? Time to gather evidence!


Everybody have a good week, starting with Monday tomorrow. Face the day and your fears head on, kick ass, take names. EGBOK!

 

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Filed under Castle Willett, Critters

Until Six Months After I’m Dead

How do I get my gut to “understand” what my head knows, that I need a break and some actual relaxing and down time?

You’ve all been harangued for a couple months about my schedule and workload and deadlines. I’m sure you’re as tired of it as I am, and I’m freakin’ exhausted.

We’ve now reached a short time when there aren’t any “FULL SPEED AHEAD, ALL HANDS ON DECK!” deadlines in the immediate future. Just the usual grind on about four different fronts, including work, the CAF hangar, home, and so on. Yet even when I have a day like today where I got rid of the “required” and “urgent” tasks for the weekend by 14:00 or so, I just had a pain in the ass time getting my gut to let me relax.

I need to be working on this, or that, or maybe I should try to get ahead on this other thing! And then there are all of those OTHER THINGS that I haven’t even considered working on for so long and they’re so far onto the back burner that you need Hubble to see them – maybe I can do some of those today!

What’s up with that? What part of my upbringing makes it so hard to let go, relax, and not feel guilty about it?

AND HOW DO I STOP USING ALL CAPS AND BOLD AND ITALICS SO MUCH?

Yeah, let’s get to the important questions!

Where’s an Ambien or Valium when you really need one?

Humor. Right. That’s not going to happen, nor are the 100% legal alternatives. I blame the Midwestern conservative upbringing in the 60’s where we saw “Reefer Madness” as a propaganda weapon of terror on a regular basis.

I hope whoever and wherever you are, you can get your brain to cut you some slack and let you just breathe a bit.

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No Context For You – October 01st

How much of what we see, or a better term might be “perceive,” is “real?”

In a historic context, we can travel to ancient lands and see ruins or magnificent architecture that’s 2,000+ years old, or we can go to Disneyland or Las Vegas and see something almost exactly like it, in many ways even more magnificent. “Real” or “fake?”

If you ever have any eye issues you’ll start to see just how personal that distinction can be. I’m dealing with a little issue with floaters and flashes of light, which I’m told is normal and harmless and it will go away on its own soon. How? How will it “go away?” Are they going to give me some pills, or do some sort of surgery, or should I put warm compresses or ice packs (or both) on my eyeballs? No, my brain will just learn to ignore them, they say.

So far all my brain is doing is screaming, “SPIDER!” or “FLY!” or “LIZARD!” or “LOOK OUT!!” about every fifteen seconds, which is not nearly as much fun as it sounds.

Many years ago as my vision started to deteriorate I had laser surgery on my eyes and ended up with “EAGLE VISION!” It was great! I went from being unable to read or see anything at a distance without glasses (“Bats use me as a role model,” to quote a line from a long forgotten 1986 Jeffrey Tambor sitcom that lasted only eleven episodes) to being able to read “Copyright (C) 2004 Acme Eye Chart Company” at the very, very bottom of the sign.

This is sort of the reverse of that and it sucks. Painless (fortunately, ’cause I’m a wussy boy) but annoying as all get out. And they aren’t kidding – “just be patient” is the #1 piece of advice, unless it gets so bad that they put you on the list for an eyeball transplant.

“Just be patient” – HAVE THEY EVER MET ME??!!

So, my eyes might be lying to me, just a bit. It’s like my very own, personal optical illusion, 24/7/365.

But then I start asking questions and trying to troubleshoot it. For example, the flashes of light… I get that I don’t really see them in normal lighting or daylight, but if I go wandering around the yard after dark to try to look at the stars (and boy, take a look around this site for the past several years and look at all of the astrophotography and astronomy and space related stuff there is and you’ll know just how PISSED I am that I’m having real problems with THAT manifestation of this issue!) I’m seeing flashes every time I blink or move my eyes. It’s dark there, the relatively dim flashes stand out. Uh-huh. So why when I close my eyes do I never see flashes. Or when I just cover my eyes with my hands? Only when my eyes are wide open and I’m in a dark location?

Or not when I lay down at night? Maybe it’s a horizontal-vs-vertical thing? Nope, go outside at night, lie down on the sidewalk (it’s okay, the neighbors already know I’m a little odd) and I still see them.

So I ask the nice eye doctor folks about it. And they just smile, and nod, and put notes in my file, AND NEVER ANSWER. Because they don’t know.

This further supports the theory (and just to be clear, I’m joking here, I don’t want this to be the accidental start of another bullshit theory for the anti-vaxxing, science-denying, conspiracy-theory whack jobs to run with) that medicine and science aren’t real at all and this eye thing is a personal punishment from God just to piss me off.

It’s working.

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My October 2021 Wish List

And so we’re officially 3/4 of the way through 2021. I will say that, at least for me, it’s better than 2020, but that’s relative, not absolute. It hasn’t been a great year so far, or even a good one. But it’s slightly less horrible than 2020, and the four years of horror that preceded.

Sure, The Former Guy is gone. At least, gone-ish. We still have to deal with all of the monsters, fascists, and subhuman slime that are today’s GOP in the Senate, House, Supreme Court, a thousand lower courts, and so on. And TFG is still spewing BS on a regular basis. But at least he doesn’t have his finger on the nuclear missile button.

And I do have a great job now with people I really like working with, which was not always the case four or five years ago. So I’ve got that.

And while we’re still eyeballs deep in COVID and the unspeakably insane, evil, and psychotic anti-vaxx crowd, so far all of us in the family are in good shape.

But again, that’s all a case of, “Cool! We personally have only a 72% suckage rating, while last year it was 82% and for many folks even now it’s in the 98%+ sucakage range!” Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

So I have a wish list for October. I’m not going to wish for the statistically ludicrous (yes, winning the Lottery is always a given, I would love a nine-figure bank account, thanks!) or any fantasy-based  ridiculousness (i.e., having that whole GOP crowd vanishing off the face of the Earth and being transported physically to the deepest depths of Hell by an Act of God) but I do have a few changes, simple and not-so-simple, that I wouldn’t mind seeing.

In no particular order:

  1. Can the Chiefs pull their collective heads out of their collective asses and start playing like a team that’s been in the last two Super Bowls and would like to be there again this year?
  2. Along another sports line, while the Angels have again broken my heart by playing so below their expectations, can the Kings, just starting the 2021-22 NHL season, return to their Stanley Cup form and bring joy to my soul?
  3. Can I never again see one of these spam ads online? I’ve lost track of how many HUNDREDS of them I’ve seen (and deleted and blocked and muted and cursed to Hell) over the past two months or so. It’s always the exact same video and always the exact same text, even though the “sponsoring” account is always different. “blumbergfamilydentalcare” is selling these kinetic art pieces instead of, you know, doing family dental care? (Sorry, might be some funky HTML formatting there)
  4. Can we get a ton of “back burner” items taken care of at work (which got pushed there after two months of “OH GOD, we’re all gonna die!” priority items) and also not have any more of the latter pushing them back onto the back burner? I’ve got a feeling the year-end is going to get hairy, and it would be nice to have a basic level of accomplishment and a clean slate going into that.
  5. Ditto for the CAF hangar work
  6. Can I please get this string of minor, non life threatening, annoying as hell medical and dental things to just stop and leave me alone? This “growing old” thing sucks and I would like to talk to a manager.
  7. Can the juncos return soon? Instead of Solo Junco I’ve now seen two this week, but I miss having a couple dozen every day, fighting the finches over the bird seed.
  8. May I please get a little bit of time every now and then (maybe even every day?) to just sit and read a bit?

I’m thinking if the Universe is in a good mood, I might get at least bits and pieces of four of the eight wishes. We’ll see. (And I’ll take that Lottery thing as a bonus – I’ve earned it.)

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Filed under Health, KC Chiefs, LA Kings, Paul, Politics

The Beatles

I have a confession to make, brought about by several Beatles songs popping up on my random playlist tonight.

I’m not a fan of The Beatles.

That might be sacrilege and cause some of you to flee in horror, fearing that any exposure to me or my thoughts might be contagious. No worries, via con Dios.

So while I have pretty much all of the standard Beatles catalogue in my music library (I’m a completist and have LOTS of music that I’ll never listen to but have it because there was one song I wanted on the album), there are only eight in my “Favorites” playlist.

  • Yesterday.
  • Eleanor Rigby
  • Penny Lane
  • Lady Madonna
  • Hey Jude
  • The Ballad Of John & Yoko
  • Let It Be
  • The Long & Winding Road

Maybe it was a matter of timing. They were huge in the early and mid 60’s when I was still a pre-teen. I was also in a somewhat conservative family and didn’t discover rock & roll until we moved to the Chicago area in 1967. WLS! WCFL! Top 40 AM radio! I was more likely to be listening to Chicago, Simon & Garfunkel, Grand Funk Railroad, The Doors, or Steppenwolf.

Not much of a Rolling Stones fan either. Just one song, but how could I not have “Sympathy For The Devil” in there?

So sue me.

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Random Old Photos – September 28th

No sure quite how “random,” but the truth is I wasn’t even looking for a photo necessarily, and in particular I wasn’t looking for something to use in a “random old photo” post. But I was punching buttons at random-ish on my iPhone, looking for inspiration, and at some point hit something referring to “Your Memories” and it came up with a set of photos from exactly fifteen years ago, September 28, 2006.

Antwerp. I was there with a group of my Pepperdine MBA classmates for the next to last day of our foreign tour to Prague and Brussels. We had traveled to Antwerp by bus (I remember having been up waaaaaay too late the night before and gotten up way too early that morning), had two meetings that were part of our MBA curriculum, had lunch next to the harbor, and then had about an hour to wander around town.

I walked down to the town square and the cathedral, camera in hand of course.

It’s funny what you remember. Just on the right past the crosswalk was a little pharmacy. By this point in the trip I had massive blisters and wanted to find some Band-Aids and  something to kill the pain. The very nice woman in the store spoke no English, I spoke no Dutch, but we figured it out. Curiously, I still have a couple of those Band-Aids, or at least I did the last time I looked.

Not the oddest souvenir I’ve ever brought home, but a contender for the short list.

Fifteen years. It actually turned out to be a melancholy memory. About half of the photos were of classmates, at lunch, in town, on the bus, at dinner afterwards… We’ve gone our separate ways. I still see one or two on FaceBook every now and then and there are a few Christmas cards that get swapped, but that’s it. And I have no idea when I’ll see Europe again. Or if…

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Filed under Photography, Travel

Make Art – September 27th

When did it get to be the end of September?

Why do we make calendars in rectangular, regular, regimented designs when in fact it’s all chaos and it’s only by dint of sheer willpower that we can determine what day of the week and date it is?

I love the hubris, but I’m buying into it less by the day.

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Apocalypse Light

Has the Sun started to expand into a red giant, its outer layers reaching out to engulf the inner planets, blowing away our atmosphere and leaving the Earth a scorched cinder?

Probably not, by which I mean, “No!” Probably a couple of billion years early for that, although if you stick around…

This is just the combination of the setting Sun, some leftover smoke, and a marine layer of fog and clouds starting to move in off the Pacific.

It just happened to come on a day when  the apocalypse might have been met with a comment of, “Eh? Cool! About time!” instead of all of that screaming and terror one usually imagines.

And then tomorrow’s Monday. So, screaming, terror…

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As The Grateful Dead Said…

“What a long, strange trip it’s been.”

Indeed.

Part of last night’s last minute primal scream was in fact caused directly the the fact that I deliberately set aside a number of tasks that really, really needed to be done no desperately I needed a short break so that I could, in fact, take a short break. The first episode of “Foundation” was streaming on Amazon+ (I enjoyed it, wasn’t absolutely 100% gobsmacked by it as I was hoping, but I’ll be watching more), followed by catching up on the last three or four episodes of “Ted Lasso” (a show that I have grown to truly love dearly).

Friday nights are going to be certifiably odd for the next two weeks as the two continue to get watched back-to-back. I’m not sure it matters which I watch first and which second.

Given the incredible latest episode of “Ted Lasso” I find it beyond sheer coincidence that this morning I heard a discussion about this breaking story out of England.

I love the bizarre, the whimsical, the just old fashioned odd, and I also love the Smiths and Morrisey. (Probably because their songs are bizarre, whimsical, and odd, no matter how old or how fashioned.)

But seriously – Rick Astley doing a tour where he just does covers of Smiths songs?

Well done, September 25th! Well done!!

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