Tucson, mid-September, 2013


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coyote 003coyote 006Yesterday morning.  My cat was attentive – a coyote in the yard again.  Last week I’d see him (her?) outside the fence and assumed that they had grown too large to get through the fence.   It sniffed around the spa and, grabbing the tie-down (which I have never tied down), tried to pull the cover off to get to the water.  Didn’t work.  So it continued through the yard, looking up to check on the chattering of birds.  Then it ambled to the opposite fence and slid out.

Today I saw him in the neighbor’s front yard.  This just in: I heard the coyote yipping painfully, not the typical songfest, and went to look from the deck.  He was outside the fence.  When I asked him what was the matter he took off, still yipping.  Bet he went after a pack rat and got a cholla in his nose.  (Packrats surround the entrances to their burrows with cactus.)  Hard to get a piece of cholla out without a comb.  (You put the comb through the needles and yank, being careful not to yank the spine into your leg!)


The bobcat is still around.  When I was at my computer yesterday afternoon (escaping this ever-present 100° weather) it meandered across the driveway.


A quail family of six crossing the street.  A gila woodpecker at the birdbath.

Invasive Species

Was listening to NPR on the radio this morning (determined not to get up early as it was Sunday) when a professor was discussing his work in the Arizona grasslands of Patagonia, studying the many finches there.  (This site has beautiful photos of 33 varieties of finch: http://www.antpitta.com/images/photos/finches/gallery_finches1.htm)

He mentioned invasive species and I thought that homo sapiens are the worst invasive species.  Our cancerous growth is eating away at the lungs of the planet.  We have been clearing forests for centuries to grow crops and to house our burgeoning population.  Our greenhouse gases and overfishing are eating away at the biodiversity in our oceans.

But I already blogged about that:


kagameLast Sunday’s New York Times Magazine had a very interesting article about Paul Kagame1, the president of Rwanda.  Our very genial student instructor (presently helping in the math lab for free) is from Africa so I showed it to him and asked if he kept up on African politics.  He said, That’s my country.  I countered, But I thought that you were from South Africa.  He answered, We are Hutus and escaped to South Africa.

…a Hutu man, this one much more critical, told me that if I used his name, “they will come for me.” This man vented that Tutsis were favored by the government for everything from college scholarships to high-ranking jobs under the guise of an affirmative-action program designed to help “genocide survivors” who, by definition, are Tutsis.1

I didn’t ask what he knew of the 1994 genocide (about the time he was born).

During Rwanda’s genocide, the majority Hutus turned on the minority Tutsis, slaughtering an estimated one million men, women and children, most dispatched by machetes or crude clubs. Rwandans say it is difficult for any outsider to appreciate how horrifying it was.1

He had the article bookmarked on his iphone, but asked if he could borrow the magazine to read it.  (A bit easier to read than on a smart phone.)  Must question him about the article next week.

Ender’s Game

enders gameHad a chat with my son last evening about Ender’s Game, a scifi by Orson Scott Card that I just finished.  Wikipedia says,

Reception of the book has generally been positive, though some critics have denounced Card’s perceived justification of his characters’ violent actions.  It has also become suggested reading for many military organizations, including the United States Marine Corps.  Ender’s Game won the 1985 Nebula Award for best novel and the 1986 Hugo Award for best novel.

My son thought it was the best scifi he’d ever read (and we both read a lot), but he is pissed that Card is using his popularity as a novelist to rail against gay marriage.

…in addition to being one of the most critically acclaimed writers of science fiction, Card, or OSC, as he’s dubbed in sci-fi circles, is also one of the most openly bigoted. Card is the great-great-grandson of Mormon icon Brigham Young, and his politics are deeply linked to his lifelong Mormonism. Card has been openly railing against what he calls “the homosexual agenda” for decades. 2

Ender’s Game has been made into a movie, to be released November 1, but some are boycotting it due to his rants about homosexuality.  Huh.  I hadn’t been following the controversy.  Guess I’ll have to skip the movie.

Listverse lists the Top 10 Most Influential Science Fiction Writers:3

  1. H.G. Wells (The War of the Worlds…)
  2. Jules Verne (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea…)
  3. Isaac Asimov (I Robot…)
  4. Arthur C. Clarke (2001: A Space Odyssey…)
  5. Frank Herbert (Dune…)
  6. Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451…)
  7. William Gibson (Neuromancers…)
  8. Robert Heinlein (Stranger in a Strange Land…)
  9. Orson Scott Card (Ender’s Game…)
  10. Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy…)

I’ve read them all, except for the first two!  Wells and Verne just soaked in through my pores.  Of course I saw the movies.  Guess I ought to read the books.


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6 Responses to “Tucson, mid-September, 2013”

  1. thehumansarah Says:


  2. Kim D. Blair, P.E. Says:

    Do you remember Omni magazine? I sure miss it…

  3. Price Says:


    Good pictures and comments as usual. Just finished the 260 mile bike ride from Monterey through Big Sur to Santa Barbara – about 4 1/2 days with scary moments on Big Sur’s narrow – no shoulder roads. Ender’s Game is only novel on your list I have not read – will pick it up today at local library.

  4. stressandmotivation Says:

    Love the pictures!

  5. Matt Says:

    Hello Notes from the West,
    It’s great to see such a variety of animals in and around your yard. I wonder if I can get in contact with you to discuss a documentary I’m working on specifically dealing with some of these species you encounter often? Looking forward to hearing back from you, thanks!

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