More Stuff…

September 18, 2017

One of my San Diego friends, knowing that I had just read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and another of Marie Kondo’s books, Joy1, gave me a copy of The Story of Stuff, by Annie Leonard.  The subtitle (it seems you need subtitles nowadays – Tidying Up has The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing) is The Impact of Overconsumption on the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health-And How We Can Make It Better.  It is way depressing.  A snippet:

In the 1950’s, the chairman of President Eisenhower’s Council of Economic Advisors stated, “The American economy’s ultimate purpose is to produce more consumer goods.”  Really?  Rather than to provide health care, safe communities, solid education for our youngsters, or a good quality of life…

So I wouldn’t recommend that you read the book, unless you’re up for a downer.  However, she has made a 20-minute online movie, which (very quickly) summarizes the book, and I do recommend that you watch it (just click here): story-of-stuff. The only thing that bothers me about the movie is that she is too perky about a depressing subject (as opposed to Al Gore in An Inconvenient Truth).

And speaking of Stuff:

DETROIT — A gun was pulled after two pairs of women fought over the last notebook on a shelf at a Walmart in Michigan this week, according to police.2  (Photo from  © James Dingeldey Video footage of a woman pulling out a gun at a Walmart in Novi.)

A notebook.  Really.

The other book I’m reading now is A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There by Aldo Leopold.  Lovely charcoal drawings throughout by Charles Schwartz.

Admired by an ever-growing number of readers and imitated by hundreds of writers, A Sand County Almanac serves as one of the cornerstones of modern conservation science, policy, and ethics. First published by Oxford University Press in 1949, it has become a conservation classic.3

It is depressing in a different way.  He poetically describes all that he sees, but also writes about all of the animals and plants that have been eliminated from our planet due to “progress.”  But he isn’t strident about it.  He killed many of the animals for his own meals, but the tree that he cut up for firewood had been downed by a lightning strike.  It is quietly sad.

On April nights when it has become warm enough to sit outdoors, we love to listen to the proceedings of the convention in the marsh.  There are long periods of silence when one hears only the winnowing of snipe, the hoot of a distant owl, or the nasal clucking of some amorous coot.  Then, of a sudden, a strident honk resounds, and in an instant pandemonium echoes. There is a beating of pinions on water, a rushing of dark prows propelled by churning paddles, and a general shouting by the onlookers of a vehement controversy.  Finally some deep honker has his last word, and the noise subsides to that half-audible small-talk that seldom ceases among geese…

It is a kind providence that has withheld a sense of of history from the thousands of species of plants and animals that have exterminated each other to build the present world. The same kind providence now withholds it from us. Few grieved when the last buffalo left Wisconsin, and few will grieve when the last Silphium follows him to the lush prairies of the never-never land.

These animals have not been eliminated by Oro Valley yet:


Bobcat

First time I’ve seen one in this yard.  Was working at the computer when I saw it, ran for the camera in the bedroom and got these shots from there.  Probably should have knocked on the window so it looked at me.  The third photo is it on top of the wall before it jumped into the neighbor’s yard.  I also grabbed my cat and put her on her stool so she could see it too.  Explained to her that was why she wasn’t going out any more.  She was very attentive.  (I mentioned the bobcat to my neighbor, so she’d watch out for her small dog.  She said the couple in this rental before me had a small dog.  One night they let it out, and never saw it again.  So it could have been the bobcat.)

Roadrunner

First time I’ve seen one of these in this yard too.  (This taken from the family room.)

Doves

Each evening seven mourning doves sit on my back fence.  Tightly knit family?

Towhee

An Albert’s towhee has been attacking my office window for the past three days.  This is the wrong season.  They are usually attack their reflections in the spring, competing for mates.  Also, usually brightly colored birds do it, as they can more easily see their reflections.  Three houses ago there was a male cardinal who would attack the office window.  Was afraid he’d hurt himself, but a website said no.

Catalina Mountains

Of course, another photo of these gorgeous mountains.

1https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2017/08/10/stuff/
2gun-pulled-in-fight-between-back-to-school-shoppers
3https://www.aldoleopold.org/about/aldo-leopold/sand-county-almanac/

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The Power of Prayer

September 15, 2017

Think prayer helps?  Then try asking for help for these people:

Victims of Hurricane Harvey

Damage from Hurricane Harvey (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) rivals the ten biblical plagues:

1.  wind and 40 – 52″ of rain affecting an estimated 100,000 homes, and 300 schools closed indefinitely.  One million cars wrecked.

2.  flood water contaminated with oil, grease, chemicals, heavy metals, sewage, and debris

Harris County, home to Houston, hosts more than two dozen current and former toxic waste sites … legacy contamination: lead, arsenic, polychlorinated biphenyls, benzene and other toxic and carcinogenic compounds from industrial activities many years ago.

3.  spills from petrochemical plants including barium, arsenic, mercury

The chemicals released in the week after Harvey made landfall, [such as] benzene, 1,3-butadiene, hexane, hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide, toluene and xylene.
All seven chemicals are toxic air pollutants documented to harm human health; several cause cancer. Other emissions would bring the total to more than 5 million pounds
…the city of Houston registered up to 15,000 parts per billion of smog-forming volatile organic compounds in and around the Valero refinery in east Houston’s Manchester neighborhood, as well as at other refineries in the region. These concentrations are at least 10 times higher than health officials deem safe…  1-million-pounds-extra-air-pollution

4.  poor sanitary conditions in shelters which can spread illnesses including the common cold, norovirus (the winter vomiting bug), hepatitis A and E

5.  lost prescription medicines and dialysis treatment machines

6.  ear infection, skin rashes, respiratory infections

7.  alligators, snakes (about 34 species of which six species are venomous – three species of rattlesnakes, the Texas coral snake, the southern copperhead and the western cottonmouth, better known as a water moccasin), and fire ants (as many as 500,000 fire ants forming a living flotilla to reach higher ground) in flooded homes and environs

8.  a possible thousand dead cattle, as well as cattle standing in water with weakened skin and hooves which are susceptible to infection, and prolonged standing cattle, which, with lack of food and lack of drinkable water, are susceptible to respiratory disease

9.  mosquitoes which can carry West Nile virus, Zika, dengue, chikungunya, and yellow fever

10. mold, especially black mold, which can trigger allergic reactions and asthma attacks, and, in some extreme cases, cause death.

I had worked in Mississippi for eight months with FEMA after Hurricane Katrina a dozen years ago.  Cleanup cost $150 billion in today’s dollars.  Texas governor Greg Abbott says they’ll need $180 billion.

Part of Houston’s problems is due to weak zoning laws, too many people, too much concrete (so water can’t soak in), and dams constructed in the 1930’s ($72 million in repairs, now underway, won’t solve long-term issuesHouston-dams).

I may or may not be going to Texas.  A few months ago TRS, a staffing agency, recruited me for my old A/E firm, Fluor, for a FEMA bid with the Feds for disaster relief, and I’ve done lots of paperwork.  After hurricanes Harvey and Irma hit they called me, staffing directly for FEMA.  But, as an architect, not an engineer, I did not make the first or second cut, so may not be going at all, or may be going to Florida.  It’s all up in the air.

Mexican Casualties

(Photo: Angel Hernandez / EPA)

Last month, as Hurricane Harvey flooded Houston with days of record-breaking rains, Mexico issued a statement offering to send food, generators and medical aid to Texas “as good neighbors should always do in trying times.”

But after an earthquake and a hurricane — and Trump’s failure to send condolences — Mexico rescinded [its] offer of aid to U.S.

At least 95 people died in Thursday’s magnitude 8.1 earthquake, according to the Foreign Ministry, most of them in the southern Mexican states of Oaxaca and Chiapas… where thousands of homes were reduced to rubble… survivors still waiting for help.

While authorities scrambled to dig victims from rubble and provide shelter to the homeless on Mexico’s southwestern coast, a Category 1 hurricane struck Mexico’s Gulf Coast on Saturday. At least two people were killed by Hurricane Katia…

Trump did not offer condolences to Mexico after either disaster, as is common when tragedies befall U.S. allies, even as multiple American mayors and governors offered their sympathies and help. Nor did Trump offer U.S. aid to Mexico.  mexico-aid

The Rohingya

The United Nations’ top human rights official accused Myanmar on Monday of carrying out “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing” against Rohingya Muslims, hundreds of thousands of whom have crossed into Bangladesh since late August to escape a military crackdown.

Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, UN high commissioner for human rights, said the military’s “brutal” security campaign was in clear violation of international law, and cited what he called refugees’ consistent accounts of widespread killings, rape and other atrocities. ethnic-cleansing (photo: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters)

Aun San Suu Kyi, the de facto leader of Myanmar and Nobel Peace Prize winner, is under the gun for not protecting the Rohingya minority.

Desmond Tutu condemned Aung San Suu Kyi: ‘Silence is too high a price’ – Nobel laureate issued heartfelt letter to fellow peace prize winner calling for her to speak up for Rohingya in Myanmar  desmond-tutu

Men of peace are all appealing to her:

The Dalai Lama says the suffering of Rohingya Muslims fleeing violence in Myanmar would have inspired Buddha to help…

The Dalai Lama said he had also delivered this message to Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi several years ago at a meeting of Nobel Peace Prize laureates. He told reporters Saturday that the situation in Buddhist-majority Myanmar made him “very sad.” The comments were captured on video at the airport in the Indian hill town of Dharamsala, where he has lived in exile for decades.

The Bangladesh government says it has offered a plot of land for a new camp to shelter Rohingya Muslims who have fled recent violence in Myanmar.

The violence has driven nearly 300,000 Rohingya to flee Buddhist-majority Myanmar, with many of them packed into existing camps or huddled in makeshift settlements that have mushroomed along roadsides and in open fields across Cox’s Bazaar district on the border.  dalai-lama

I had mentionedt Aun San Suu Kyi when Ai Weiwei had included her in his display in Alcatraz open-up-your-golden-gate
The next room in the New Industries Building was Trace, carpets of Legos, with portraits of 176 people from around the world who have been imprisoned or exiled because of their beliefs or affiliations.

At least we’re aghast at genocide now.  But our American past is full of it.  Please read Goodbye, Yosemite. Hello, What? by Daniel Duane from the 9/2/17 Sunday New York Times:

…in 1850… [California] lawmakers legalized forcing American Indian children into white custody and barred Indians from voting, giving evidence against whites in criminal cases or serving as jurors…

These are all classic steps in the march toward mass murder, with clear echoes in later genocides. In 1851, California’s governor, Peter Burnett, said that he expected “a war of extermination” to continue “between the races until the Indian race becomes extinct,” and Senator John Weller later said that “the interest of the white man demands their extinction.” Toward that end, California spent the equivalent of $45 million in today’s money on two dozen state militia expeditions that murdered at least 1,340 California Indians…
goodbye-yosemite

1,200 dead in India, Nepal and Bangladesh

Floods in India, Nepal and Bangladesh kill over 1,200 in August of this year. Rescue workers scramble to provide aid to millions of people stranded by worst monsoon floods in South Asia for years.  floods-kill-1200  (Photo: Bangladesh Department of Disaster Management)

And I can go on and on.  Do you think there’s a god who listens to prayers?

August in San Diego continued

August 30, 2017

Los Angeles

A continuation of art at the Broad Museum:

(We missed Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room—The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away, a mirror-lined chamber housing a dazzling and seemingly endless LED light display. This experiential artwork has extremely limited capacity, accommodating one visitor at a time for about a minute, and requires a separate free timed same-day reservation which ticket holders are able to reserve, pending availability, after arrival at the museum at a kiosk in the center of the lobby, as we hadn’t figured that out when we first got in.  L said it’s coming to the San Diego Art Museum in November, so she’ll try to get tickets for it.)

A room of Jeff Koons, well known for his balloon dogs and other balloon animals produced in stainless steel with mirror-finish surfaces, but years ago (1988) he did Buster Keaton of polychromed wood and others of its ilk.  This about Rabbit:

In 1979 Jeff Koons made Inflatable Flower and Bunny (Tall White, Pink Bunny), the seed for so much of his future work… Seven years later, Koons… created Rabbit. The switch from the word “bunny” to “rabbit” is intriguing. Bunny is cute and floppy; rabbit is quick and sharp. The carrot in the rabbit’s paw is wielded like a weapon, and the once soft, leaky, and cheap vinyl shell of the bunny has been replaced by armorlike, costly stainless steel, which reflects everything surrounding Rabbit and deflects any allusions to the sculpture’s interior.

(Dorothy Cargill, who just passed away, at 86, in April of this year, the millionairess who gave our art group a tour of her Palm Springs home back in 2014 – I never finished those blogs – donated a larger balloon dog to the Palm Springs Art Museum, so “Jeff” made her a small one with a radio in it.)

I liked Forward Retreat by Mark Tansey.

Forward Retreat, 1986, describes the slipperiness of perception and questions the validity of innovation in art. The central image of horseback riders is painted as a reflection on water. The riders, all outfitted in uniforms of Western powers (American, French, German, and British), represent the nationalities of artists who came to dominate twentieth-century art history. They are seated backward on their horses, focused on a distant receding horizon, and are oblivious to the fact that their steeds trample on the crushed ruins of myriad pottery and objets d’art. With typically dry humor, Tansey implies two conclusions: that art progresses on the ruins of its past and that art making is propelled in part by unconscious forces.

Robert Therrien‘s Under the Table:

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland…  The table, at nearly ten feet tall, exudes an extraordinary presence.  One is compelled to walk underneath it…

 

 

Here a photo of another visitor.  Loved his diaphanous skirt, jacket with the skull, and fuchsia topknot, fitting nicely with Marakami’s work.

 

 

 

 

A few of Takashi Murakami‘s huge (pronounce that in Trump’s voice, without the “h”) paintings.  These were my two favorites, My arms and legs rot off and though my blood rushes forth, the tranquility of my heart shall be prized above all (Red blood, black blood, blood that is not blood), acrylic and platinum leaf on canvas mounted on board, although the ceiling reflection takes away from the blackness, and this one that I couldn’t get an entire photo of, as it wrapped around the room:

Takashi Murakami’s massive eighty-two-foot-long painting, In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow, reflects on the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan. Murakami discovered that roughly 150 years earlier, after the great Ansei Edo earthquake of 1855, artist Kano Kazunobu had created a large grouping of monumental scrolls conjuring the five hundred arhats, the traditional stewards of Buddha’s teaching. Murakami, through the post–World War II lens of Japan’s pervasive pop culture, again revived the arhats. In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow portrays a cartoonish, spiritual landscape, awash in an enormous tsunami of churning water. The work is a specific reference to a Japanese history of natural disasters and an attempt to place suffering into a visual language.


John Ahearn‘s Raymond and Toby.

John Ahearn has worked closely with his subjects, making life casts of people in the South Bronx neighborhood of New York City… often making molds of people directly in plaster and casting them [this one in fiberglass]… Many subjects enact the roles that fill most of our lives — grocery shopping, walking a dog, getting children ready for school — and, subsequently, the sculptures are not only recognizable but joyful in their celebration of life.

I’d seen another of Kara Walker‘s cutouts at the Venice Biennale.

In African’t, [her] cutouts are nearly life size, becoming a theater of remembrance and forgetting.  Here, blacks and whites, men, women, and children, all participate in pre-Civil War scenes of degradation, sex and violence…

There were two of Shirin Neshat‘s videos.  (She has been exiled from Iran.)  Here are some shots from one of them.  Not much sound other than the wind and the women’s ululations.

Shirin Neshat’s Rapture shows a divided world where architecture and landscape stand as metaphors for entrenched cultural beliefs about men and women. The men are trapped in a fortress while the women make a long journey through the desert to the sea. While the men wrestle and pray, the women eventually board small boats to leave the land entirely. As with Possessed, Rapture’s poetic potential taps into the collective dreams, fantasies, and horrors confronting the Iranian people.

Cy Twombly‘s Nini’s Painting (Rome).  Think my color’s off; don’t remember the green, but looked online and saw it in five different shades.

Nini’s Painting (Rome)… is part of a series of monumental works completed by Twombly in the early 1970s that, according to some critics, were inspired by both a trip to a Jackson Pollock retrospective and the themes of repetition emerging in minimalist art.

 

Edward Ruscha‘s Desire.  He came into prominence during the 1960s pop art movement.  I liked this one.

John, by Chuck Close.  (Put L in the photo so you could see the monumentality of the painting.)

John, one of Close’s earliest paintings, is described as photo-realist…  instead of using mechanical means to transfer his images onto canvas, Close works entirely from sight to achieve the intensely animate detail…

Back to Tucson

Returned home Saturday afternoon.  The high for the day had been 108° and the humidity was 57% (not a dry heat!) as it had just rained.  Blowover from Hurricane Harvey.  A newscaster was interviewing someone in Texas whose house had just flooded for the third time in two years.  (Photo from CNN.)  I had just ranted about that in my last blog!  The feds should buy the house, tear it down, and make the land into a park.  And get rid of flood insurance!  Then I was thinking that all of the news had been about the amount of water (50″!!!) and the rescue of people, nothing about all of the oil refineries down there.  But on NPR this morning it was said that one million pounds of pollutants would be released around Houston:

On Sunday, Houston-area resident Stephanie Thomas told Houston Press “something powerful” hit her nostrils, describing the smell “like burnt rubber with a hint of something metallic thrown in.”

The La Porte Office of Emergency Management identified the chemical as anhydrous hydrogen chloride, a colorless gas that turns into a white mist of hydrochloric acid when exposed to moisture in the air. A Dow Chemical safety sheet warns that eye or skin contact causes severe burns, and that inhaling the fumes can be fatal.

Air Alliance Houston estimates that the area’s petrochemical plants will release more than 1 million pounds of air pollution as a result of Harvey…

(In April of this year, a federal judge ordered Exxon Mobil to pay $20 million in fines because the Baytown complex illegally spewed 8 million pounds of hazardous chemicals over a five year period.)  houston-refinery-toxic-pollution

That fits nicely with Trump’s pushing for the Keystone pipeline, and at the end of March:

..the State Department granted the pipeline giant TransCanada a permit for Keystone construction…

…it would connect with existing pipelines to deliver the sludgy oil to refineries in Texas and Louisiana for processing. Most of the refined product would probably be exported…  keystone-oil-pipeline

On a positive note, my plants having been loving all of the rain.  A few months ago I started making a daily bouquet for the shelf above my desk.  The flowers on the bougainvillea, Mexican petunia, and red bird of paradise last only one day, but there are so many of them that I can have fresh flowers daily.  (The woman who does the flower arrangements for our art group’s monthly art-viewing-with-wine-and-hors d’oeuvres did one with bougainvillea, giving me the idea.)  This arrangement of chive blooms (white), Mexican petunia (lavender), and red bird.  Yes, the chive flowers are a bit odoriferous, so I added some mint flowers (lavender) which don’t really show up here, but somewhat ameliorate the scent.

But all of my second round of tomatoes are still green, and the eggplants aren’t ripe yet.  I had to buy tomatoes at the grocery store!  As my daughter often texts me: #firstworldproblems  Like when the irrigation guys took a week to show up to fix a spouter on my drip system, which had to be turned off, so I had to water the garden by hand!  #firstworldproblems  Or the handle on the 20-year-old microwave broke off, and I had to wait two weeks for a new microwave.  (This is a rental, and the microwave was so old you couldn’t get parts any more.)  #firstworldproblems

Yes, I’m one of the spoiled Americans.  You probably are too.

Are You in the Top One Percent of the World?  According to the Global Rich List… an income of $32,400 a year will allow you to make the cut.  one-percent-world

August 2017

August 29, 2017

San Diego

Visited friends L and P last week in California.  Monday morning we made pinhole cameras and watched The Eclipse as tiny dots on white paper on their patio, coverage only 59% here in San Diego, kinda an eh event, but the weather was gorgeous. Then watched on television as The Eclipse moved across our country.  Our President wasn’t getting enough attention, as we were focused on Nature, so he pardoned Maricopa County‘s ex-sheriff, Joe Arpaio.  Arizona is such an embarrassing state to live in.

Next day went to see the movie Detroit, of the 1967 Detroit riot (think I was at Michigan State in summer school when it happened), because I am from Detroit and the director, Kathryn Bigelow, had done Hurt Locker, a good flick.  Do not see Detroit; way too depressing.

Thursday went to Balboa Park for an exhibit, Ultimate Dinosaurs, at the Natural History Museum.  At least a dozen complete skeletons, and a few great videos of the beasts flying by or walking by in herds, looking as natural as elephants.  The rooms, in the basement of the museum, were dark, and dinosaur roars and squeals emanated from the bones.  (My brother told me not to buy this camera ’cause it’s not good in low light. My bad – bought it anyway and it’s not good in low light.)  Lots of active information on how the continents divided from the original Gondwana.  (Explanation here from National Geographic: continental-drift.)

Wednesday was overcast, great day to hike one of the area’s five peaks, Kwaay Paay, at 1,194 feet.  We were in a cloud at the top.  Much easier than hiking at 12,000 feet!  (denver-2017.)

That afternoon to Ocean Beach to see friends N and G, who are renting there, escaping Tucson’s heat.  Walked about the town, through the large Farmer’s Market (Wednesdays 4-8 PM featuring locally grown produce, art & live music), and a short drive away, to Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, to see the sunset, it too late and too chilly for the ubiquitous divers who illegally take their lives in their hands.  TripAdvisor recommends cliff diving here!  (This photo from their site.)

 

Friday L and I drove up to Los Angeles to see the relatively new Broad Museum (pronounced with a long “o”).  It’s next door to the Walt Disney Concert Hall, designed by Frank O. Gehry Architects, which I have a photo of in this blog: 2014 san-diego.

She drove, and I was supposed to navigate.  After two-and-a-half hours of freeway driving, we could see the museum, but the main street, Grand Avenue, was blocked by construction.  Detoured to the adjacent street, but each of the next six cross streets had been turned into underground parking garages.  Finally backtracked to the correct cross street, but we were going one way through a tunnel, while the entrance to the parking garage was above us, going the other direction.  Took us probably 40 minutes to find the garage, once we were downtown!

Then we saw the line of maybe 200 people who didn’t have reservations for one of the 15-minute time slots, and, of course, we didn’t either.  L said to the guard who escorted us to and from the restroom, that she couldn’t possibly stand in line that long with her plantar fasciitis, so the guard gave us two tickets for immediate entry!

First, the architecture.  It is known as the Veil and the Vault.  The fiber-reinforced concrete façade, seen at left, was dubbed the “veil” by the architectural firm who designed it, Diller Scofidio + Renfro.  (The other photo at left shows the skylights providing filtered natural daylight to the galleries.)    The “vault” houses the collection storage, as well as the entry (photos at left).  This diagram from the museum’s website: the broad building.

Fabulous exhibits!

Three humongous pieces by a favorite of mine, El Anatsui, from Ghana.  (Mentioned him in this blog: monsoon.)  Friend L in front of Stripes of Earth’s Skin (detail, left – look at the curled copper wires and the small strips of aluminum, as narrow as bag ties), me in front of Red Block, for scale.

Born in Ghana and based in Nigeria, El Anatsui crafts giant shimmering sheets from bottle caps, reused aluminum commercial packaging, copper wire, and other materials. The elaborate works hang like tapestries referencing kente cloth, all-purpose pieces of fabric used in Nigerian and sub-Saharan African culture for everything from washcloths to dresses. The function of the kente cloth is often determined by its context. Red Block can be thought of in a similar manner; the firm square of woven red liquor labels can be folded and hung according to the dictates and curation of the institution that displays it. The materials are embedded with multiple histories and influences, ranging from the effect of the colonial period on Africa to current problems facing its people, including alcoholism, pervasive poverty, and the impact of global markets on the continent’s economies.


I’m going to post this and finish up the Broad artwork in the next post.

 

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/