Moving On

August 16, 2017

No, not me.  Jonathon Overpeck, the U of A professor I’d had for a Humanities class on Climate Change1, a globally recognized climate researcher who co-authored a Nobel Prize-winning report2, after having said that the lowering water level in the Colorado River would doom life in Southern Arizona3, has left U of A for a position at the University of Michigan.

Then there’s Usain Bolt of Jamaica, who had compensated pretty well for having scoliosis, leaving his right leg half an inch shorter than his left,

Though Bolt stands 6 feet 5 inches, he starts nearly as explosively as smaller sprinters and needs only 41 strides to cover 100 meters, while other elite runners need 43 or 45 or even 48.

On average, Bolt struck the ground with 1,080 pounds of peak force on his right leg and 955 pounds on his left leg. Because his right leg is shorter, it has a slightly longer drop to the track, contributing to a higher velocity for that step.4

and who I wrote about during the 2012 Olympics5, who pulled

…up with an apparent injury in the men’s 4×100-meter relay final at the world track and field championships on Saturday…  It was hardly the farewell party that Bolt had in mind when he decided to make this meet the final one of his career.6 (Photo by Martin Meissner/Associated Press)

Storm


I actually took this photo in July before a storm.  Think we had the last monsoon of the season last week.  My phone woke me at 1:30am and 3:30am with storm and flood warnings.  Decided it was time to google how to take those warnings off my phone.  Done.  And for all of the blustery winds, we only got maybe an inch of rain here.

But New Orleans flooded yet again, on August the fifth.

NEW ORLEANS – A massive series of rain storms dumped between 8 and 10 inches of rain in the metro New Orleans area over about a three-hour time span, flooding streets, stranding motorists and – unlike two weeks ago – getting in to some homes, cars and businesses.8

After Hurricane Katrina I worked for FEMA for eight months in Mississippi9, so I do have some informed opinions.  After Katrina, the National Flood Insurance Program paid out $16.3 billion in claims. $13 billion went to claims in Louisiana.  hurricane-katrina-statistics-fast-facts

In Arizona, or at least Pima county, you are not allowed to build in a 500-year flood zone.  Gee, that makes sense.  So rather than the National Flood Insurance Program paying people to fix their houses, or rebuild their houses right back in the flood zone, why don’t the Feds just give each family a fair price for their house (yes, this could be businesses too – I worked with school districts, and after Katrina smashed three blocks of houses into an elementary school, and four feet of water sat there, impregnating the CMU block construction with mucky water that turned to mold, the district decided to build farther from the Gulf of Mexico, away from the flood zone – duh!) and forbid anyone to build in a flood zone!  The government would be out a lot of money short term, but then they could disband the stupid system.

And then there’s the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers moving sand back onto Dauphin Island, Alabama, a strip of land with beach houses for the well-to-do.  I saw it after Katrina, but before the sand was moved back.  Sand washes away with each storm.  Leave those rich people without sand, and maybe they’d move away…

Spark Joy

Finished Marie Kondo’s second book, Spark Joy.  Only filled up one giant trash container and one giant recycle container.  But am donating, to Goodwill, five more giant trash bags of mostly Christmas decorations, including fourteen strings of outdoor lights that I used to put out.  In fact, for the last house I built, my electrical engineer put in electric sockets on the garage roof, switched from indoors.  Loved that.  But I never have Christmas at my house, and my daughter has enough of her own decorations.

Also donated a few of the winter sweaters that my mother knit probably forty years ago.  Had to say goodbye to them (which the book instructs you to do).  Don’t even remember what’s in one of the black plastic trash bags.  Also have to get rid of the steamer truck (covered in contact paper) that my ex- and I used for our first coffee table!  Way tacky.  Has been full of Christmas decorations ever since.

Also must sell my Grandmother’s china set, which I only use once a year for a large party.  No one in the family wants it, and I don’t even like it -it has a platinum edge , but then dainty pink and grey flowers.  My next-door neighbor in Starr Pass said that her mother had the same pattern, Noritake china – Glenwood pattern.  There are numerous partial sets for sale on ebay, for quite a lot!  Also many shown on etsy and pinterest.  Interesting history:

The Noritake of today grew out of a trading company that was originally established by the Morimura Brothers in New York in 1876. This trading company imported chinaware, curios, paper lanterns and other gift items. In 1904 [it] …was established in the village of Noritake, a small suburb near Nagoya, Japan. It took until 1914… to create the first porcelain dinnerware plate that was suitable for export.  noritake-history

Then there’s my grandmother’s vintage Coronation Oneida Community silver plate flatware set.  (The Coronation pattern was introduced to commemorate the crowning of King Edward VIII in England – which never did happen.7)  Had to google a couple of items.  Believe the spoon on the left to be a dessert spoon, the next a soup spoon, the third a bon bon spoon ( also called a jelly server and a stewed tomato strainer!).  Then there are four kinds of knives in this pattern, not counting the butter knives and butter spreaders.  I apparently have french grille knifes (top) and modern grille knives.  (Grille knives have shorter blades than dinner knives, which have the same length blade and handle.)

1climate-change blog
2jonathan-overpeck-leaving-university-of-arizona
3colorado-river-water-climate-change
4usain-bolt-stride-speed
5scroll down to 2012 Olympics in the-ovens-a-dry-heat-too blog
6usain-bolt-relay-world-championships
7Oneida-Community-Plate-CORONATION
8massive-rain-swamps-metro-no-saturday
9blog is-this-the-end

Stuff

August 10, 2017

First, watch this George Carlin video: carlin on stuff

A couple of weeks ago in the NY Times I read this commentary:  summer-bucket-listThe author, Bari Weiss, mentioned a Kondo closet, which I had to look up and found this article from a few years ago: Tidying Up.  (She also listed Buy Dyson hair dryer!  Had to hit that hot button.  They cost $400!!!)  I was intrigued.  Marie Kondo makes me look like a hoarder!   (OMG – there’s an American television series, Hoarders!)

Anyway, I got her first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, from the library.  Before I’d finished the first chapter I began on my bookshelves and took three grocery bags of books to the library.  Then I started in on clothes, camping equipment and holiday decorations.  Four giant trash bags to Goodwill.  Plus numerous bags of recyclables and trash.  And I’m not even doing it right!  You’re supposed to start with your clothes and only keep ones that “spark joy”.  Now that I’ve finished the short book (and gotten her second, Spark Joy, from the library), I’ve learned to fold “properly” and the drawers that I’ve worked on are now only half full.  But it’s tiring…

Spurred by a comment in her second book, I started to throw on photos from albums.  Mostly buildings, such as ones I’d photographed in Mexico City.  Know the kids aren’t interested in them.  Then tossed out a few folders of student stuff from Pima.  And started in under the bathroom sink.  (Try it!) After than opened a few boxes in my third bedroom (AKA storage locker) and found the wrapping paper box I’d lost for a year, and some empty frames to donate.  Got my daughter to stop by to read old letters she had sent from her college year abroad in France so I could toss them.  Next she went through a pile of elementary school artwork.  Almost kept one gorgeous painting of a rabbit, but no, she’s got enough elementary school paintings by her own kids.

(Going to wrap up my son’s letters in one box and his elementary school paintings in another, and give them to him for Christmas.  Did that before – a number of years ago I had run out of room in my filing cabinet, so took two folders of each of my kid’s elementary school grades and awards, boxed and decorated them, and gave them to my son and daughter for Christmas.  My daughter had a hissy fit: Oh you’re trying to get rid of our memories, but my son read his, laughed about a lot of it, and then threw the pile away.)

Each time I visit my friends in San Diego, L & P, L asks me to help her clean out a room.  The last time it was her office, as she had retired as an attorney.  What I’m good as is triage – keep, donate, toss.  Because most of her documents were confidential, the shredder was working constantly.  We filled both the trash and the recycle bin, and even borrowed her neighbor’s.  To facilitate disposal, I even took four bags home to recycle them here.  (Scroll down in san-diego-continued for another project, Collection Triage, moving the chairs and bookcases in to the addition to their living/dining room, and “tidying up” in the process.)  L thinks I should hire out.

Seen in the past few weeks

There were four small bobcats in front of my neighbor’s garage as I drove past.  They heard the car and skittered under a huge red bird of paradise.  Not sure if it was a mother and three kittens, but when I took this photo there was some low growling.  When I checked an hour later they were gone.

This is the round-tailed ground squirrel that climbs the welded wire to eat my plants.  It’s trying to get away from me and my camera.  Cute as the dickens, but why we use that epithet is beyond me.  Dickens is a euphemism for  the devil, and why would a devil be cute?

I love to watch the mountains from the back of my house.  This photo at dusk.

A few unusual animals to see.  A red-headed lizard in my yard, probably a male collared lizard.  A (poisonous) Colorado river toad hiding from the heat in the corner of my daughter’s entry.  The hot gravel yards were no doubt inhospitable.

A defensive milky neurotoxin venom can be released from the parotid gland behind the eyes and similar organs on the legs. The venom is potent enough to kill a large dog, should the dog grab a toad. Symptoms of envenomation include foaming at the mouth, drunken gait, confusion, vomiting, diarrhea, or complete collapse. There is no antitoxin.
https://arizonadailyindependent.com/2014/05/18/the-sonoran-desert-toad-psychedelic-and-toxic/

A couple of police down the street from my daughter’s were watching an African spurred tortoise while someone was trying to find its owner.  They are much larger than our desert tortoise.  This article is probably about the tortoise on the lam: tucsonlocalmedia.com.  Think Oro Valley is a bit slow on crime…

A silky flycatcher (phainopepla) has taken a liking to my birdbath.  Learned something new about them:

The Phainopepla, when pursued by predators or handled by humans, mimics the calls of other birds; imitations of at least 13 species have been recorded. allaboutbirds.org

And my barrel cactus is blooming beautifully.

 

Denver 2017 Continued

July 28, 2017

I love the Denver Botanical Gardens.  Last time I was there there was an extensive Dale Chihuly glass exhibit.   (Scroll down to the bottom of this blog: denver-2014.)  This time it was Calder.  Photo of my cousins in front of one.   I liked the water lilies the best.

But I had to take some photos of bugs, as my father was wont to do.  (After he had been gone a few years my mother suggested that we look at some of his slides.  Hoping to actually see people, we chose a set entitled Jane and Hal’s.  It was, of course, bugs in Aunt Jane and Uncle Hal’s garden.)  

That was Tuesday.  In the evening they got a call from M’s nephew who had crashed his bicycle and broken a thumb, and, as neither he nor his girlfriend had a car, could they pick him up after surgery tomorrow?

So on Wednesday morning we walked some of the extensive trails through Lone Tree, from their condo, and in the afternoon went downtown Denver to the hospital.  Had a nice chat with the girlfriend who is getting her PhD in bug-ology (entomology)*.  There’s a lot of traffic in Denver, and google maps (or whatever they were using) would mention that there was a traffic jam ahead, and direct us off the freeway, only to say that there was a traffic jam ahead, and direct us back to the freeway.

Must mention that every morning (lovely, cool mornings) we had breakfast on one of their three decks (the condo is a tri-level), which overlooks the paved trail that winds through their town.  This section has numerous trees, deciduous and pines.  Many people passed, walking with friends, or more often their dogs, and M chatted with all of them.  And we watched the squirrels, rabbits, and birds.  There was a murder of crows (yes, that’s the collective noun for a group of crows) in the pines, and one morning a  Cooper’s hawk – it was the same size as the crows, with a striped tail – had an extended  tête-à-tête with one of those raucous birds.

Thursday we went to the Molly Brown House Museum.  She is known because of the musical film, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, which we were told is quite fictionalized.  From Wikipedia:

Margaret “Maggie” Brown was an American socialite and philanthropist. She is best remembered for exhorting the crew in Lifeboat No. 6 to return to the debris field of the 1912 sinking of RMS Titanic to look for survivors.

The house was very dark, to save the furnishings from the Denver sun.  The volunteer who gave the hour-long tour was great.  (She said that Margaret Brown was never called Maggie.) The house was presumably upper-middle class at the turn of the  last century.  Quite large, but it accommodated the couple, their two children, and her parents.

 

 

 

Margaret was a pretty liberated woman, going to Japan, Egypt, and Europe with her maid.  On the trip back from France she took the Titanic, which, as you possibly know, went down.  Being one of the well-to-do passengers, she got into one of the lifeboats and went on to raise money from the more wealthy to help the poor who had survived.  (She posted two lists, one of the rich survivors who donated, and how much they gave, and another of those who did not give.  That helped.)

In her early years, after her husband had discovered gold and became a partner in the mining company, she helped miners and their families and worked to improve the town’s schools.  Later on she worked with women’s suffrage and workers’ rights, and also ran for a Colorado state senate seat three times.  (She did not win.)

 

Friday we went to the Lookout Mountain Nature Preserve and checked out the Boettcher Mansion, which was celebrating its 100th year, and which stays open by hosting weddings – the other couple touring the house were scheduling their nuptials.  I enjoyed the Craftsman architecture and furnishings (from the Arts and Crafts movement), including the wallpaper in the William Morris style.

And the Nature Center (which only had a large diorama, but the taxidermy was done well).  We exited as it started raining.

 

Then left at dawn Saturday morning to return to Tucson.  (Didn’t have a lot of choice with tickets using my frequent flyer miles.)

*Sorry – I have to tell a Tucson insect story.  Yesterday I sat for my grandkids.  The middle one is in the Phoenix area with paternal grandparents (clever enough to take one at a time), the youngest had his tonsils out three days ago and is spending his time eating ice cream and watching movies, and the oldest was to go to a friend’s house for a swim.  On the way over she mentioned that they have a collection of scorpions, knowing that her brother has an interest in scorpions ever since, at age one in Chandler, he poked at one on the staircase and got stung.  (It’s family legend.)

Turns out the mother has a few scorpions in terrariums, and a collection of Madagascar hissing cockroaches, but has at least a dozen cages and terrariums with tarantulas from all over the world.  Had to show us all of them, one of her favorites being the one which has pink toes.  Avicularia avicularia… are arboreal tarantulas and are found in South America.1

1http://awesomearachnids.tumblr.com/post/109170783825/pink-toe-tarantula

Denver 2017

July 26, 2017

Yes, I will get back to my Berlin blogs, but first check out this commercial: herding-cats.

First half of last week

Last week I visited cousins in Lone Tree, Colorado.  It was my cousin’s birthday, but he doesn’t like to say which one.  (A few more than mine.)  Photo of him, me, his equestrian daughter, and son-in-law, at the birthday picnic.  (His wife took all of the family photos, so she’s not in any.)

Meant to get away from Tucson heat, but the monsoons had taken over back home, and it was 10° cooler in Tucson than in Denver!  So we spent our days in the mountains. Sunday Mount Evans (14,300 feet high1 – first of my fourteeners2 – but it was raining at the top, so we luckily didn’t have to walk the few steps to the top, as breathing was difficult).

The road was the scariest I’ve ever been on – two narrow lanes, no guard rail, and a precipitous drop.  Photo on the way down of Echo Lake, a tarn (a lake that develops in the basin of a cirque, generally after the melting of the glacier).  There were a few mountain goats molting – they looked dreadful!  When we stopped, one came to the car to beg.  Didn’t embarrass them with a photo, but there are many copyrighted ones online.

Monday the Rocky Mountain National Park along Trail Ridge Road3. The mountains are gorgeous, although there is not much left of the glaciers but patches of snow, rock slides with talus, a pile of rocks, at the bottom, the cirques, and other terminology that I can’t remember because I wrote nothing down. Think this photo was taken at the Gore Range Overlook4.  At the Forest Canyon Overlook I took this photo of a cirque, a bowl-shaped, amphitheater-like depression eroded into the head or the side of a glacier valley. Typically, a cirque has a lip at its lower end. The term is French and is derived from the Latin word circus.)

We did the stairway at the Alpine Visitor Center.  (This photo one of my cousin’s from earlier in the year – there were lots of wildflowers when we were there.  I overexposed my set of photos – darn!)  Top of stairs at 12,003 feet above sea level.  Cousin H bounded up, but his wife had had knee surgery a few weeks before, so was going slowly (or was just being nice to me, as I was having a hard time breathing.  Twenty-five years ago I had no problem hiking near Cuzco, Peru, with elevation 11,152′, but I had spent eight years trekking on Mt. Lemmon when I had a cabin in Summerhaven, elevation 7,700′.)

Don’t remember what stop this was.  Photos of me, a ground squirrel  posing with wildflowers, and a moving chipmunk, which has more stripes on its back than the ground squirrel, the only critters that we saw other than the sheep and some birds.  I know I took a photo of the Continental Divide, but have no idea which one it is.

Tuesday morning M and I still had sore calves, but my cousin did his daily run!  Running in the mile-high city has acclimated him.

1Atop 14,259-foot Longs Peak, the highest mountain in the park, oxygen levels are 50% less [than at sea level] so I guess that’s the same on Evans.  altitude-sickness
2Colorado_fourteeners
3Elevations on park roads range between 7,800 feet and 12,183 feet – the highest point on Trail Ridge Road.   Trail Ridge Road provides spectacular view of the majestic scenery of Rocky Mountain National Park. It is the highest continuous motorway in the United States, with more than eight miles lying above 11,000′ and a maximum elevation of 12,183‘.  At this lofty spot there’s 35% less oxygen in the air than at sea level.
4http://www.rmnp.com/RMNP-Areas-TrailRidge.HTML

 

Tucson, Mid-July

July 10, 2017

It’s 110° and the clouds are building up over the mountains for our anticipated monsoons, but the humidity is only 9%, so guess it won’t rain tonight.  Yesterday evening had eight drops of rain on my kitchen window!

For the Fourth of July we had BBQ with another family (also with a grandmother included).  The family room had an enormous television on the entire time with a miscellaneous movie.  Some of the kids watched it for ten minutes or so.  The living room was taken up by a jumping castle, kinda like this one.  Six kids, from three to eleven, make an incredible din!

Dinner.  It was much too hot to eat outside so we adults got the dining room, the kids the breakfast room.  The father smokes his own pork, and the pulled pork was incredible delicious. (I didn’t try the ribs.)  My daughter made sangria and marvelous hors d’oeuvres (prosciutto spread with boursin, wrapped around asparagus), I brought watermelon with a cute sculpture on top (which I copied from an internet video, but it’s no longer there!) all of which the kids devoured, and there was coleslaw and a potato salad and a red-white-and-blue cake which I didn’t even taste, I was so full.

Then fireworks in the street.  (In Arizona you’re only allowed fireworks that stay on the ground, so sparklers and smoke bombs are popular.)  After which we drove to a school parking lot above Naranja Park, so we didn’t have to battle for parking, and watched the fireworks with about a dozen other clever families, all with camp chairs.

The coyote wandered by my fence yesterday afternoon, which is no doubt why the ground squirrels are not agilely climbing over my fence today to dine on the wandering jew, with mint for dessert.  (Oops – until just now!)

There was a cactus  longhorn beetle at my door yesterday.  Then are very large, and eat chollas and prickly pear cacti.

Had the grandsons (six and eight) over Friday afternoon, as the rental agency had a guy fixing the leak in the drip system. (! I thought I’d have to do it, so spent two days digging a hole to the PVC pipe in this hard hard dirt.)  The boys got into my games cabinet and I taught them pente, mastermind, and backgammon.  The youngest wants to play monopoly all of the time, but I’ve gotten tired of it.  We played battleship, jenga, and Jamaican-style dominoes at their house the other day.  (You can only spend so much time in the pool!)

Reading

To get my mind off politics, and instead of streaming any more TV series in the evening (except for binging on Anne With an E, and the movie Okja), had read a few scifi.  Got an audio book from the library, an oldie, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, by Robert A. Heinlein (used to read a lot of his novels), about a lunar colony’s revolt against rule from Earth.  Interesting look at the future.  The guy who does the reading does the many accents very well.  I usually fell asleep to it, then had to figure where I left off.

Next read The Mote in God’s Eye, by Niven and Pournelle, about the first contact between humanity and an alien species.  Creative take on aliens (not limited to two arms and two legs, as the aliens in the “gateway drug”, Star Trek, which were restricted due to budget – except for the tribbles).  Heinlein described the story as “possibly the finest science fiction novel I have ever read.”

Then I finally got A Man Called Ove,  an international bestseller, recently translated from Swedish, from the library as CD’s, as I enjoy someone reading to me at night.  Loved it!  Laughed and cried (numerous tissues).  Highly recommend it.  It’s now a movie, nominated for two Academy Awards, streaming on Netflix.  Wonder if I’d like that as much as the book…

The New York Times had an article, Summer Reading Books: The Ties That Bind Colleges (college-summer-reading), last Sunday.  Shall put a number of the recommended books (Just Mercy, Hillbilly Elegy, and possibly Silence, which is now a movie, as well as others) on my request list at the library after I get back from my next trip, visiting cousins in Colorado.

Politics

Speaking of which, also in the Times, was a commentary, The Problem With Participatory Democracy Is the Participants.  I was insulted.  You may wish to read it and comment: participatory-democracy

SF Day Two

June 29, 2017

After a very active day yesterday, A. (six) slept in until nine!  Don’t think he’s ever done that before. Had a great breakfast at the Church Street Cafe, where the espresso drinks are labeled Fancy Drinks on the menu.  Then my brother’s son, Ian, joined us (taking the day off from work) to go to the Exploratorium.  According to Wikipedia:

The Exploratorium is a public learning laboratory in San Francisco exploring the world through science, art, and human perception. Its mission is to create inquiry-based experiences that transform learning worldwide.

It used to be housed in the cavernous—and very empty—Palace of Fine Arts, which was once part of the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition in Golden Gate Park.  Took my kids there many years ago.  Now it’s on Pier 15 along San Francisco’s Embarcadero.  We took a trolley to get there.  They run up and down Market Street, the Embarcadero, and Fisherman’s Wharf, and are restored vintage trolleys from all over the world.  (See these pictures: streetcars.)

A. had another pal now, and the two of them dashed around from exhibit to exhibit while my brother and I lagged behind, reading some of the text.  (The purpose of the interactive exhibits, of course, if to learn why something happens.)

Here are A. and Ian in a parabolic mirror, and (right) watching their slow motion video.  Then my strobe light photo, and Ian taking a photo of his.

 

Next, my brother viewing his stop-action photo, the water drop image of him upside down.

We ate lunch at the SeaGlass Restaurant there, the sushi chef (at left in this photo from their website) making a dish for me and A.  Ian got a nice vegetarian dish (which could have been Mexican, as he and his girlfriend had spent six months in Mexico City last year).  Forgot what my brother got, but it included french fries.

We continued dashing about, until the dissection of a cow’s eye, where we sat, upstairs, and which was very interesting.  Can’t even start to relate all of the exhibits we saw, but we were there for over five hours.

Then we had to catch a trolley back to The Castro to meet Ian’s girlfriend, J., for dinner.  First trolley too full for the four of us to squeeze on.  The next one, just as crowded, didn’t bother to stop.  So we thought to hail a cab.  Only two went by us, and they were full.  Finally Ian called an Uber driver.   Then we were caught in rush hour traffic (which is why a trolley would have been better, but the next one was in half-an-hour).  Were twenty minutes late for our six o’clock reservation.  Luckily they held the table at Pauline’s Pizza.  (Homegrown ingredients go into the pies & salads at this family-friendly pizzeria with a wine room.)  Ian and J. are vegetarians, so we all split two pizzas, one with a Salted Meyer Lemon Puree, blueberries, mint, and goat cheese (yummy!), the other asparagus, kale, and something else that was green (the Green of the Day?).  Plus nice wines.  We walked back to our motel and A. got to bed a bit late.

Had to get up early for the drive to the Oakland airport.  A. and I had our breakfast there.  Had our lunch (not much, as we were still full!) in Los Angeles, then the final flight home.  (No delays!)  What a nice week.

https://www.exploratorium.edu/

Back in The Heat

June 28, 2017

Seen Today

A quail with two young’uns crossing the road.  A ground squirrel climbing up the welded wire into my yard to break off pieces of my purple wandering jew; would have thought that it was poisonous. A pair of pyrrhuloxias on the fence.  (Photo of the ground squirrel on the other side of the fence with branch, and a pyrrhuloxia on the purple sweet potato vine.)

A gila woodpecker at the birdbath.  A dove on the barrel cactus eating the fruit.  A coyote behind my  yard chasing (unsuccessfully) the ground squirrels.  (Sorry – bad photo; he was moving fast.)  This hot (106° today) desert is home to many.  But the neighbor’s mesquite has rained seed pods all over; where are the javelina and deer who should be eating them?

My housesitter found a baby snake in the house (how did it get in?), said it refused to be caught, so she had to kill it and save its body for me.  It appears to be a baby kingsnake.

Missed so much last week!  Oro Valley police beat said that one woman was ticketed for illegally making a U-turn, and three teenagers were caught with a bong.

And hadn’t been watching the national news either.  Never heard of Kim Kardashian’s blackface controversy.  Nor of Randy Rainbow’s “Covfefe: The Broadway Medley.”  (He’s A Bit Much, but he has a nice voice, and you can google it.) Or that Jared Kushner finally speaks: Jared Kushner Speaks.

But yes, I do know that Bill Cosby got off, and that the Congressional Budget Office said of the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 that The Senate bill would increase the number of people who are uninsured by 22 million in 2026 relative to the number under current law.

(Have time to catch up on my blogs ’cause my daughter’s family is escaping the heat with another family in the White Mountains for a few days.)

San Francisco with a Six-Year-Old

June 27, 2017

On Thursday my brother, my grandson, A., and I drove into San Francisco.  We went immediately to the The California Academy of Sciences.  (For you other architects, LEED Platinum status.)  These quotes from their website.

…a renowned scientific and educational institution dedicated to exploring, explaining, and sustaining life on Earth.  Based in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, it is home to a world-class aquarium, planetarium, and natural history museum—all under one living roof.

Keeping a six-year-old on track was a bit difficult, but we zipped about, and saw most of the museum except for the living roof.

We walked under the four-story living rainforest, which is a section of the aquarium.

The Steinhart Aquarium is one of the most advanced and biologically diverse aquariums in the world, home to the world’s deepest indoor living coral reef, an albino alligator, …a shark lagoon and more than 38,000 live animals representing over 900 species.

The aquarium was a big hit, especially where they allowed the kids to touch (just with two fingers) the sea stars.  I liked the jellyfish.  A. took lots of photos with the phone his mom had lent him.  And he learned how to focus and enlarge.

Even the lunch there was great. A. wanted sushi, and, it being California, I figured it was very fresh. We split a pack.

We watched the feeding of the African penguins, but A. wasn’t interested in the dioramas of African landscapes and animals in the Kimball Natural History Museum, because the animals were stuffed.

We walked up to the top of the four-story Osher Rainforest, housed in a 90-foot glass dome and teeming with life from some of the most biodiverse places on Earth—from… free-flying birds and butterflies to enormous Amazonian fish.
(Photo of dome from zoochat.com, which has a lot of information.)

Snakes such as the Madagascar leaf-nosed snake were fun because they hid in plain sight (photo Wikipedia).  Also geckos, chameleons, and the tiny poison dart frogs.  (These were all in separate terrariums.)

The whale and dinosaur bones were no big deal, nor the minerals.  But we went into the Earthquake Shake House to experience San Francisco’s two biggest quakes—the 6.9-magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake [1989, which my brother was in] and the 7.9-magnitude Great San Francisco quake of 1906.  That was fun, and informative.

And when we started to lag, we sat for half an hour learning about asteroids and comets in the newest planetarium show.  The Morrison Planetarium

…is home to one of the largest and most advanced all-digital domes in the world. The Academy’s Visualization Studio produces award-winning original planetarium shows that tell stories about faraway galaxies—and our home planet Earth—using scientific data to depict the most current discoveries.

Note: A. said this was the best day, possibly because we went to the gift shop and he spent his $20 on a Plasma Ball, which shall be a great nightlight for someone who doesn’t like the dark, in addition to being fun to play with.

A. requested clams for dinner, so we went to an excellent but tiny fish restaurant, the Anchor Oyster Bar.  My brother doesn’t even like fish, but he’s cool, and had a shrimp dinner.  It’s walking distance from Becks Motor Lodge in The Castro district, where we were staying, because it is reasonable, right on a trolley line, and has free parking.

Kinda sorry that we missed the 47th annual Pride Parade, as it was on Sunday, and we left on Saturday. (These photo two of many from sfgate.com.)  Would have been an eye-opener for a six-year-old.

Water

June 27, 2017

Other than my daughter’s pool, not much water around here.  So my brother and I (his wife has just had knee surgery) took A. to the creek one day, to play with a small sailboat.

The next day we went to One of the Most Deadly Beaches in California, Jenner Beach.  The Russian River runs into the Pacific there, where harbor seals raise their young.  Obviously we did not go into the water at the beach, but made an intricate sand castle.

On the way back we stopped to watch a paraglider on Goat Rock, but he wasn’t airborne, so no photo. Here are two from my last time at that beach:

 

When we made a stop at Whole Foods to buy a few items for the evening’s hot pot, A. chose clams!  Not sure he had ever had them before, and my sister-in-law had never cooked them before, but for dinner he ate six of the eight!

Cazadero 2017

June 27, 2017

Visited my brother and his wife in California with my six-year-old grandson, A.  Had a fun time flying a week ago Sunday.  The family dropped us up at the airport; an hour-and-a-half later, when we were supposed to be boarding, we were told that the plane was broken (crack in windshield), and we’d have to wait four hours for another plane.  (This being summer in Tucson, there were only two other planes at the airport, both full of people escaping the heat.)

So… called my daughter, 45 minutes away.  They had to get their daughter, B., to the airport in the afternoon to catch a plane to visit her grandfather, so they drove back and we had a Mexican lunch in South Tucson.  Then back to the airport, where the whole family got to go to the gate, as my granddaughter is under 13, flying unaccompanied.  What a great Father’s Day at the airport my son-in-law had!  (The loud family – as in SNL – was next to us – four kids, the two-year-old screaming.  A. stared, unbelieving.)  After B. left, A. and I still had two hours until our flight to Salt Lake City, where we were to change planes.  The SLC airport was fun – moving walkways!  For dinner,during our two-hour layover, we ate the PB&J sandwiches my daughter had packed for our lunch.  (A young woman in a lightweight backless white top – a very lacy pink bra showing totally in back, and jeggings.  With her a young man with one full sleeve of tattoos, curly hair past his shoulders, and a camouflage baseball cap on backwards.)

At the last minute, a flight delay to CA of half-an-hour was announced. We didn’t leave until 10:30 pm.  Did I mention that my grandson is six?  He watched two movies on his Kindle, a power cord connected to a power pole between seats.  I had called my brother twice to keep him apprised of the situation.  He greeted us at 11:15 in Oakland, and we still had a two-and-a-half hour drive to northern Sonoma.

This was Delta airlines, whose entire computer system had gone out two weeks ago.  Flying is so much fun.  (Or why can’t someone invent a transporter?)

Monday we went geocaching.  (See this blog from Idaho re geocaching: geocaching.)

We couldn’t open the first box we found, so, “thinking it was not the cache”, we crossed the bridge, skidded down a hillside, waded across the shallow river and climbed back up the “cliff” under the bridge.  Tried the box again and got it opened.  Did two more locations on the interactive map.  A. got a Smoky the Bear pin for his brother and a “diamond” ring for his mom.  He traded them for Prized Items he had found in Uncle Grandpa Dick’s workroom.

BTW – it was 89° there and 113° in Tucson that day.