Archive for the ‘Arizona’ Category

The Desert in Bloom

August 9, 2018

The red birds out front are ginormous, probably from the flood from my cracked drip line, which the neighbors reported. $100+ water bill last month for what is mostly a desert yard.  Finally, the owner agreed to replacing a whole section of the PVC pipe, which dries out underground after many years of our heat, not just one patch at a time.  Anyway, I keep a bouquet of the birds next to my computer when I’m home, even though each branch last only two to three day, there are so many to cut.

Flowers on two barrels.

Only three Japanese eggplants this time home.  Photo of my veggies from the last time.  I’ve planted nothing for a year – these are continuing since last year.  Unfortunately, the tomatoes didn’t make it.

A family of eight quail, just beyond my fence.  The spring babies, those little acorns, have grown and are almost ready to be on their own.  The loud cheeping of a towhee on my bird feeder, then the birdbath – first bird I’ve seen there since I filled it last Saturday.  (Put it away when I’m gone as water in it lasts about a-day-and-a-half in this heat.)

Day before yesterday a coyote just next to the fence, walking slowly due to the 105° temp at 1pm, but still too quick for me to find my camera.

Sand

There are two issues that really get me with the Feds: government insurance so people can build back in flood zones and moving sand back into places where rich people have their summer homes.

Hurricanes often wash away or remove sand with strong winds from under the foundations of beach properties undermining the structures. This is a condominium complex in need of serious repair after Hurricane Irma in Key Colony Beach, Florida.
Photo by Robert Kaufmann – Jun 14, 2018 – Location: Key Colony Beach, FL fema sand

Wordsmithing

We used to talk about accidents; now in Orlando they say crashes and in Tucson I heard a newscaster say collisions. A bit more graphic than not-on-purposes.
Would people give more thought to guns being deadly if, instead of a shooting (which could happen to a target at a shooting range or a captive animal at a hunting preserve) we called it a multiple murder.

Disasters

Presently California is burning up. (cbsnews.com)  This is last year, which I am still working on in Orlando:

2017 Atlantic Hurricane season. In three weeks, the nation responded to three hurricanes: Harvey, Irma and Maria. At the same time, wildfires claimed lives and destroyed property across California. FEMA processed more individual assistance claims in one year than the previous decade combined.  In 2017, FEMA had 73 declared disasters, presence in 35 states, and 800 open disasters. fema.gov

A must read is: Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change. I haven’t finished it yet ’cause it’s real depressing. But we all must read it.  This just part of the Prologue:

The world has warmed more than one degree Celsius since the Industrial Revolution. The Paris climate agreement… hoped to restrict warming to two degrees. The odds of succeeding… are one in 20.  If… [we] limit warming to two degrees, we will only have to negotiate the extinction of the world’s tropical reefs, sea-level rise of several meters and the abandonment of the Persian Gulf… Three-degree warming… forests in the Arctic and the loss of most coastal cities… Four degrees: Europe in permanent drought; vast areas of China, India and Bangladesh claimed by desert; Polynesia swallowed by the sea; the Colorado River thinned to a trickle; the American Southwest largely uninhabitable. The prospect of a five-degree warming… the end of human civilization.  losing-earth

Good News

I do look for positivity in the news.  One extraordinary merganser duck has been spotted leading about 76 ducklings. ducklings-creche  I guess if one flunks geometry it’s no big deal.  (I was thinking of when I had 44 kids in a geometry class.)

Health Care

Because I manage over ten million dollars in FEMA claims, most from three regions of hospitals which I’m getting to know pretty well, I’m understanding why Florida Obamacare premiums have gone up 41.8% from 2017 to 2018.

This is a great website: atoday.org/the-adventist-health-business

A business magazine in Florida reported 2011 annual “total executive compensation, including base salaries, bonuses, retirement or other deferred compensation, and non-taxable benefits” for the Florida based Adventist Health System as $1,062,010 per year for the lowest of the top 10 executives, to $3,191,124 for the head of the organization.  I suspect that in 2017 none of them has had a significant pay cut.

DHS

FEMA is part of the Department of Homeland Security, which sends us almost daily emails about this and that, and most of them (with this administration) make me mad.

August 1, 2018
Dear Colleagues,
I am honored and excited to be the Department’s Chair for the 2018 Feds Feed Families campaign. This year’s campaign began on July 15 and will run through October 18. Food insecurity impacts approximately 41 million American households, including 13 million children and 5.4 million seniors. This means people lack access to enough food for an active healthy life for all household members.
Feds Feed Families was created to help food banks and pantries stay stocked during summer months when they traditionally see a decrease in donations and an increase in need. There are many ways to contribute, and our Department is uniquely poised to help with a strong presence in local communities across the Nation.
Last year, employees donated non-perishable items at work, traveled to farms to harvest crops (gleaning), and even donated freshly prepared food directly to local shelters. Recognizing that families in financial crisis can find it difficult to meet the nutritional needs of their pets, Feds Feed Families has expanded the campaign to accept donations of pet food. These donations can ensure that families and pets stay together, and that these pets stay out of shelters.
As Department Chair for the 2018 campaign, I commend you for your past generosity, and invite you to make this year’s drive the most successful yet.
Sincerely,
Thomas J. Walters
Director, Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers and 2018 DHS Feds Feed Families Chair

Am I a curmudgeon thinking that the Feds want the middle class to take over feeding the poor, so actually, we’d be subsidizing the huge tax breaks they gave to the rich?  (I have been giving to our  Community Food Bank since the old days when Punch Woods was CEO.)

Political Commentary

May 11, 2018

Education

The Arizona teachers were on strike for a week.  My daughter, at home with three kids because of it, took them to Phoenix one day to join in the protest.  What a great thing to do!  Education in Arizona is poorly funded because the Republicans, who often send their kids to private schools, would rather pass tax breaks.  Here’s why I left: phew!  You can read that blog and the ones preceding it.

This from Wikiedia:

The 2018 Arizona teachers’ strike was held from April 26–May 3, 2018 by 20,000 teachers to protest low pay and cuts to school funding.  Arizona Governor Doug Ducey had approved a proposal giving a 20 percent raise to teachers by 2020 with a 9 percent raise in 2019; teachers rejected this proposal as it did not provide increased funding for schools themselves or raises for support staff. It has coincided with a similar strike in neighboring Colorado.

The walkout occurred after similar actions in West Virginia and Oklahoma, and is the third in the ongoing wave of teachers’ strikes in the United States…

The strike ended on May 3, 2018 when the Government of Arizona conceded to increase funding to increase salaries for support staff and to decrease student to counselor ratios.

…Before the walkout, teachers’ salaries in 2018 were between $8000 and $9000 lower than teachers’ salaries in 1990, when adjusted for inflation. Wages for teachers in Arizona are some of the lowest in the United States, averaging $48,372 per year. In 2017, Arizona ranked last of all fifty states for average elementary school pay, and second to last for teacher pay at the secondary level

But the strike ended with only a few promises.  Someone asked, What happens now?  One of our state  senators answered:

Steve Farley — Arizona State Senator for District 9, April 29

As the son of two public school teachers and the father of two daughters who got a great education in Arizona public schools, I know we need to increase pay for all K-12 public educators, including support staff, as well as restore funding for textbooks, computers, and building maintenance…

We need to do it now. We are in an unprecedented crisis in which more than half of our teaching positions are either vacant or held by someone without proper qualifications, because so many teachers have left teaching entirely or left the state because they could not afford to teach in Arizona. Our future as a society and economy depends on adequately funded and well-run public schools…

The Governor’s “plan” still does not have details in legislative form, so we do not know how he is claiming to fund the proposal. From what we have seen so far, this is not financially sustainable beyond the upcoming fiscal year, and nonpartisan legislative economists project a $300 million deficit within two years.

In the past when deficits have happened, this Governor and this legislative majority have traditionally voted to cut public education…

While the legislature is famously unpredictable, here’s my best guess on what the upcoming week might look like, so you can be prepared to act when necessary. There are no set times for any of these steps to commence.

This could be the last week of session if there is a budget deal, as the Governor has asserted. If there is a deal, it will only be with Republicans because neither legislative Democrats nor the leaders of the Red For Ed movement have been consulted.

If there is a deal, it will be a part of the overall state budget (including all funding for all state agencies and many other policy changes, not just education) and the first bills will be introduced on Monday.

Most of the action will take place on Tuesday, starting with Appropriations Committee hearings on all budget bills, with an opportunity in both House and Senate for public testimony. It is likely that the committee chairs will severely limit public testimony — in the past they have asked for three people in favor and three against with as little as one minute each. This is the only opportunity for the public to be heard in a formal setting. Not my idea of true democracy…

Later that day, there will be a Committee of the Whole on the House and Senate floor. This is where the bills will be debated by elected members and the public can watch in the gallery. Please pack the galleries. As your elected official, I need you to witness this. We as Democrats will attempt to amend the budget bills to address the true priorities of Arizona, including sustainable education funding. Our amendments will likely be voted down, but we will make the case for investing in ourselves instead of giving taxpayer money away to out-of-state corporate interests. This often happens in the middle of the night. Sometimes from midnight till 6am. I’m not kidding.

Then on Wednesday, the final vote will be tallied for or against the bills, they will be submitted to the Governor for signature, and the session will likely end.

Other bills will be voted on throughout these last days as members try to get their other priorities through, and bills once thought dead could come back to life, so I will be watching for those carefully. I suggest you do too.

Keep up the pressure. Your advocacy is working. Thank you for helping to revitalize our democracy, and stay involved. It’s worth it.

Steve

Does anyone know how it went?

North Korea

Education was last week’s News.  This week it’s North Korea.  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was just there and brought back three American “detainees”.  Yesterday I heard Associated Press reporter Matt Lee (who was one of two journalists allowed to accompany Pompeo) on NPR’s All Things Considered (Copyright © 2018 NPR):

KELLY: … I want to ask you, Matt Lee – this is not your first time traveling to North Korea, not your first time traveling there with the U.S. secretary of state. You went along on the plane with Madeleine Albright when she traveled in 2000, and I’m curious what differences you saw… as you’re driving by … what do you see out the window? What’s it look like?
LEE: We arrived early in the morning, like what would be rush hour in a normal city. There was more traffic than certainly there was 18 years ago… Most of the morning commuters that we saw were either on bicycles or on foot – farmers, soldiers, people who are potentially office workers and lots of children in school uniforms walking to school along the side of the road. The city, from what I remember from 18 years ago, was not a sprawling metropolis of skyscraper-type buildings. That has changed.
KELLY: Suggests money is coming from somewhere to pay for that.
LEE: Exactly, exactly. Despite …severe sanctions on North Korea… the city is still growing up and out.

That made me think of an article I had read in the NY Times Magazine last Sunday, bank-heist

The New York Times has reported that North Korea is believed to maintain a network of about 1,700 computer hackers around the world, aided by 5,000 trainers, supervisors and other support staff. Many operations are aimed at harvesting intelligence from South Korea; others, as in the case of Sony, are intended to avenge slights, or others to reap financial gain. North Korean hackers have become especially adept at targeting the weak links in the financial system: banks in developing nations, especially those in Southeast Asia. “They are easy prey,” says Vitaly Kamluk of Kaspersky Lab, which found Korean-language coding embedded in some Lazarus Group malware and claims it definitively linked the Lazarus Group to North Korea, through an I.P. address that the group briefly used during a wave of attacks in Europe and Central America in 2017. “These central banks often cannot afford good security, good software, or hire a proper specialist to configure their network,” Kamluk says. “They are low-hanging fruit.”

Seen Today

A church across the street from the office has three Sunday morning services.  The first is in Creole.

A woman waiting in line ahead of me at a store Pickup had her hair in about 30 narrow braids.  Asked her how long it took – 10 hours!  Her son, age 7 he told me, was shuffling around doing basketball moves the entire time.  A woman leaving the store behind me had two children; the daughter, who looked about eight,  was bouncing sideways, perhaps a soccer move.  Kids have such energy!

Each evening, when I get home from work, I get a glass of wine and the newspaper and sit on the patio overlooking Sand Lake.  Much better view than my last place, which was mostly plants, although it was interesting to see a squirrel in a palm.

English Proficiency

Can you tell what this quote refers to?

“Against the luminous sky the rays of her halo were spikes of darkness roweling the air; shadow flattened the torch she bore to a black cross against flawless light — the blackened hilt of a broken sword. Liberty.”

Backstory from the New York Times: Thousands of German Students (taking pivotal final secondary-school exams) Protested ‘Unfair’ English Exam … which they said was absurd, with obscure and outdated references.  Kudos for my seven-year-old grandson who knew the answer!  english-test

Past our Shelf Life

A friend of mine in her mid-80’s, whose husband had died a few years ago, had moved to a retirement village.  This last year she hooked up with a fellow retiree whose wife had just passed away.  Serendipity!

Another friend, 94, who lives just outside of DC, and whose husband passed away a year ago, broke her hip a week ago, tripping on a carpet on her way out of exercise class!  It is DC, but I didn’t ask her if she exercised with the Notorious RBG.  (Here is a video of Stephen Colbert working out with her: RBG.)

Home

April 22, 2018

I do so like being home, spending time with family and friends, and working in my garden, even if it only is for a week of “rotation”.  Harvested four round carrots (easier to grown in the desert hardpan soil), two stubby bell peppers,  five small japanese eggplants, and one ripe cherry tomato.  The squash is in bloom and there are dozens of green cherry tomatoes, but the brussel sprout plant is not producing yet.  These are all plants that didn’t die back in the winter.  I’m working my own compost (produced by slow but steady worms) into the soil to plant more on my next visit home.  The Abert’s towhee is enjoying water in the birdbath; fun to watch him revel in it.  Quail investigating the yard; guess they haven’t had chicks yet.  And lots of collared lizards enjoying the sun.

Wednesday friend K and I saw an art movie at the Loft, Leaning into the Wind – Andy Goldsworthy.  I love his work, and have two books of it, but now he’s doing a kind of performance art (like climbing through hedges, as in this photo).  Here’s a trailer: into the Wind

The next day we took a tour of University of Arizona’s Environment + Natural Resources Building II by Richärd+Bauer Architecture.  Awesome building which earned LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – I am accredited in it) Platinum Certification.

The vision for the Environment and Natural Sciences complex (ENR2)… sustainable design. The University’s goals: this project is the centerpiece of environmental research, the building should have a definable iconic identity… serving as a living and learning laboratory, and be the most sustainable on campus…

Organized about a central “slot canyon”; curvilinear anodized aluminum ribbons define the walls of the central canyon, recalling the terra cotta walls of the natural canyon, leaning overhead, and falling away. The vertical striations of the anodized scrim recall the desert varnish pattern of the Navajo tapestry and the canyon walls. As in the natural environs, each terrace reflects the elevated desert floor, with native trees, grasses, shrub, and stone. The canyon floor is a sand and stone dry bed, which gathers the rainwater and guides it into storage cisterns for reuse…

https://www.richard-bauer.com/work/environment-natural-resources-2/

Walked the U (of Az) this morning w/ friend B and her dog, and brunch at the B-line.  Weather lovely: 64° feels like 84°.

LOL

You must read 40 Sea Gulls Wrecked His Hotel Room. 17 Years Later, a Pepperoni Pardon.  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/14/world/canada/sea-gulls-fairmont-empress-victoria-nick-burchill-pepperoni.html

Florida Art

I’ve not been posting as often because I spend at least 7 3/4 hours a day on the computer at work, so I’m not enthusiastic about working on my tablet on weekends. But St. Petersburg was fun a few weekends ago. I had to go to the Dali Museum. It was built by Reynolds and Eleanor Morse who, in 1943, married, became friends with Dali, and bought their first work of his.  In 1982 they built this museum to house the largest collection of Dalí’s works outside Europe.  The architecture was amusing.  Those colored ropes, trailing from the tree in the wind, are made up of the bracelets we got when we entered the museum.  When you leave, you contribute to art.  The spiral staircase is in the center.

Dali’s style changed with the times.  Here are some of my favorites.  Love this Post-Impressionist scene, Cadaques, 1923.  (Cadaqués is a town in Catalonia, Spain where Dali spent summers as a boy and later made his home as an adult.)

The Portrait of My Dead Brother is huge – 69 in x 69 in.  This older brother was also named Salvador and died at the age of two, before the second Salvador was born.  When you’re close to it you see only the cherries (click on the photo and enlarge to see them) – the two under his nose have joined stems representing him and his brother.  Sorry not great focus – I was using a phone to photograph.  Had to take that one from a room away.

This Surrealistic self-portrait of Dalí surrounded by the elements of war, Daddy Longlegs of the Evening–Hope! was painted in 1939 in the US, where Dali and his wife sought refuge during World War II (The daddy longlegs spider, when seen in the evening, is a French symbol for hope.)  This was the Morses’ first purchase, a wedding present for themselves.

You’ll have to look up this Surrealistic painting, The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus, to understand all of the references.  It took over a year to paint and is so large, over 14 feet tall and 9 feet wide, I couldn’t get back far enough, with the crowds of people, for a straight shot.  It is amazing.


There is a room where you put on goggles and earphones to move through space made up of symbols in Dali’s paintings.  Sound has been added.  Much fun!

Even the gift shop has Art: this car.

Then the Imagine Museum, a glass museum, which was free that family Saturday, with children doing projects in the cafe area.  Can’t imagine them touring the glass exhibits.  Asked one of the women in charge – she said it was “a challenge.”  I have the names of the artists who did these marvelous pieces, if anyone is interested.

This is not my best photograph.  These are all glass copies of plastic containers.

 

This is all glass.  Amazing.  I had lots more photos, but can’t find them now.  Took them with my FEMA iphone.

 

Anyway, am leaving Tucson tomorrow morning to get back to work.  So figured I ought to post this.  Hasta…

Worst State in the Country

February 3, 2018

I was surprised when NPR’s Whad’Ya Know? (a two-hour comedy/quiz/interview) host Michael Feldman asked this question this morning, What is Florida worst at? and the answer was Everything!  Newsweek published Florida Has Been Ranked the Worst State in the U.S. (I added the internet photo of an I-4 traffic jam.)

Florida is officially the crème de la crappy of all 50 states, ranking dead last on a list of best to worst locations in America.

Thrillist released a definitive ranking of the states in July with a… ranking system based on, literally, “everything,” …contributions to America: important, well-known people, inventions, food and drink, and unique physical beauty and landmarks.

So what makes Florida so god-awful?

Could be the humidity, the atrocious traffic and… “Florida is where bath salts and Creed and the Great Recession all got their starts. It’s where Donald Trump has chosen to hang out for seven solid weeks during the past year. I mean, c’mon.”

“When putting together a list such as this, there can be some temptation to defy popular expectations and go against the grain,” the site said. “However, Florida’s awfulness résumé is so staggeringly impressive that it couldn’t go any other way.”

…The state that likely broke most every prediction by topping the list was Michigan.

Despite Detroit’s bad rep, the site argues that Michigan has more coastline than any other state, except for Alaska. The site also mentions the undeniable beauty of the Upper Peninsula and its residents’ willingness to apologize for their creation of Kid Rock.   florida-worst-state-country

Was surprised also when Michigan, where I grew up, got best.  We lived in Detroit (between 7 and 8 mile, which Eminem rapped about).  Back then, before it got its bad rep, Detroit was the fifth largest city in the country, the Motor City.

I graduated from a nationally recognized high school in downtown Detroit, Cass Tech, which had been built in 1917, and have good memories of that.

Sorry I never got to the U.P. to see its undeniable beauty.  A cousin of mine went to college there, where you could ski to class!  Nostalgic about camping trips to Interlochen State Park, in the upper part of the Lower Peninsula, near the internationally renowned Interlochen Center for the Arts.  You could see a solitary musician, such as a french horn player, sitting in the middle of the forest, practicing.  I was never a good clarinetist, never getting past second clarinet in our high school band (it was an excellent band – our director left to lead the Michigan State marching band) but my brother was great at the saxophone; too bad we couldn’t afford to send him there.

However, I did take art classes at Cranbrook Academy of Art, outside of Detroit, in Bloomfield Hills, at one point.  Had a junk sculpture of a fawn next to a painting  by Picasso in the Cranbrook Art Museum.  Beautiful campus, with many sculptures by Henry Moore, buildings designed by Eliel Saarinen.  But, sadly, in 1972 they sold off some of the academy’s art collection, including works by Henry Moore… a way of increasing the endowment.  I remember photos my father took of this pond.  (Dick – do you have them?)

Our little patch of Arizona did  get attention from elsewhere.  The school district  where my children attended, CFSD, was rated best in the state (see left).

The Mail

Airlines completely lost a suitcase of mine back in ’68,  and have misplaced suitcases on at least three occasions, for up to a day (which they then delivered to my door), but never, to my recollection, was mail lost.  So when the 9×12 manila envelope that my daughter sent, with my letters she’s been collecting for me, I figured it was the fault of the hotel.

But it contained documents for my taxes and coupons to pay the HOA fees on my land.  And I did not remember the name of the accountant to whom the HOA dues are paid.  So I did some sleuthing.  My bank looked up the account the checks went to, and as that was in the same bank, gave me the name of the accountant; I called him, got the amount due and the address to send it to, as it was due the end of the month.  The secretary said that she would send more coupons.  Phew!  The hotel, of course, had the envelope the next day.  I pointed it out to the man at the front desk, who said he couldn’t read my name on it because it was written in cursive!

Kudos

After Brock’s “Grip and Grin” visit (see my blog never-a-dull-moment) he emailed us this:

As I walked through FEMA Headquarters and spoke with employees yesterday, I was impressed by the positive attitude of the FEMA workforce and your flexibility during times of uncertainty. When I spoke with Regional Administrators, I heard the same stories throughout our Regional offices and facilities across the country. Thank you for being a workforce that demonstrates integrity and professionalism..

Brock

Rodney Dangerfield

An article on him (nee Jacob Cohen) in last week’s NY Times Magazine:  rodney-dangerfield.  This video of him on Carson (for those of you who are not old enough to remember  Johnny, it was the Tonight show) from 1979 is pretty good: dangerfield

Seagull

As I was walking to lunch Friday,  saw a seagull flying.  I thought they stayed by the ocean.  This photo from Rennett Stowe on the Internet.

Home for the Holidays

December 29, 2017

We get to take a “rotation” every 45 days.  So I was home for the holidays.  And it was a lot cooler in Tucson than Orlando!  When I left Orlando at 6 am last Friday it was 63°, but with the humidity at 98%, even long sleeves were warm.  When I arrived in Tucson at 12:30 (having lost a few hours) it was 57° with 24% humidity.  What a beautiful city!  The air was clear and all four mountain ranges could be clearly seen.  I did like the morning fog in Orlando during the previous week, but I do enjoy views.

After getting Uber’ed home, ditching my suitcase, and picking up my car, went to my daughter’s to make many dozens of Christmas cookies.

Shopping & Ice Hockey

What a marvelous day of shopping Saturday, which I usually don’t like.  First took my youngest grandchild to Toys “R” Us for his choice, then on to the mall and Dillard’s for my son, the middle grandson, and my granddaughter to buy the wardrobe items they wanted.  Already got my daughter and son-in-law gift certificates for their wishes.  And I didn’t even think of all of the dollars flowing from my credit card, ’cause I’m working when I hadn’t expected to.

That night my son took us all to a hockey game, in my daughter’s new SUV.  We may not be the 1%, but it’s a good year for us.  Didn’t even know that Tucson had jump-started hockey again.  The Tucson Roadrunners are a professional ice hockey team in the American Hockey League which began play for the 2016–17 season.  (The University of Arizona had had a hockey team from 1979 to 2011.)  Because my son lives in Vancouver, Canada, he is very into hockey.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

Lights in my daughter’s neighborhood.


Plastics

November 2, 2017

Many of you are old enough to have seen the movie, The Graduate, with Dustin Hoffman.  One of the famous lines was: I want to say one word to you. Just one word… Plastics.

Many years ago, when the kids were young, I took them on a trip to Costa Rica.  We saw the green turtles nesting, among other things, such as a tour of a banana plantation.  (Have you ever wondered why we have 47 varieties of apples in the supermarket and only one kind of banana?  Even though there are over 1,000 banana types, the only one we eat is the Cavendish, which can survive weeks in a ship’s hold, unlike most varieties. Yes, this is going somewhere.)  The plantation (think it was Del Monte) decided that the bananas that can be grown in Costa Rican weather weren’t as good as Cavendish, which needed more heat.  So they put plastic bags around each growing hand of bananas.  But some of the bags get blown off and washed downstream to the Caribbean, where they look like jellyfish, the food of green turtles, who eat them, which causes blockages within their digestive system and eventual death.  So – bad plastic bags!  (These photos are just two of many on this website – plastic-pollution – check it out.)

Well, one of Arizona’s most forward-thinking cities, Bisbee (!), banned the use of plastic bags.  I can go with that; I hate to see them caught on our cacti (I had a photo in one blog), and estimates for the time it takes them to decompose ranging from 20 to 1000 years1.  But our progressive state government (= Republican) said that they could not. As I mentioned in a previous blog (water), last year our legislature passed:

House Bill 2131 restricts Arizona localities from imposing prohibitions and restriction on plastic grocery bags. Retailers, grocery stores and other business interests pushed the measure after the city of Tempe looked to restrict the use of plastic grocery bags.2

So Tempe didn’t do it, but Bisbee banned them; however, last month:

Bisbee’s ban on plastic grocery bags violates state law and must be repealed, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office has concluded.
The decision leaves that city’s leaders with a precarious choice: Undo the 2012 ordinance or risk losing vital state-shared revenues that pay for public services.3

Well, the country of Rwanda is more enlightened than Arizona.  In the New York Times last Sunday was an article,  Public Shaming and Even Prison for Plastic Bag Use in Rwanda:

Here in Rwanda, it is illegal to import, produce, use or sell plastic bags and plastic packaging except within specific industries like hospitals and pharmaceuticals. The nation is one of more than 40 around the world that have banned, restricted or taxed the use of plastic bags, including China, France and Italy…

Last month, Kenya put in place a rule that will punish anyone making, selling or importing plastic bags with as much as four years in jail or a $19,000 fine

Rwanda is probably Africa’s cleanest nation and among the most pristine in the world…  Children here are taught in schools… to cherish the environment. Smugglers are often held in detention centers or forced to write confessions in newspapers or broadcast them on the radio. Supermarkets caught selling food in plastic packaging are shut down until they pay a fine and write an apology.4

What’s Wrong with this Picture

On October 1, a white guy killed 59 people and injured another 527. Police recovered 23 guns from his Las Vegas hotel room and another 19 guns from Paddock’s home… [which] were purchased legally.In addition to the 42 guns, he also had bump stocks, which made his semiautomatic weapons fire like automatic weapons.  These also are legal.  This was over a month ago

Has our Congress done anything to make the bump stocks illegal?  Has anyone said that no one should own 42 guns?  Maybe one to shoot deer, but get real!

Turn the page – an immigrant from Uzbekistan plowed a rented pickup down a bicycle path near the World Trade Center, in the name of ISIS, killing 8 and injuring 11, two days ago, and our President tweeted that he…

SHOULD GET DEATH PENALTY!

While the White House deemed it unseemly to have a policy debate on gun control immediately after the massacre in Las Vegas last month, Mr. Trump was eager on Wednesday to have a policy debate on immigration. He pressed Congress to cancel a visa lottery program that allowed the driver into the country, attributing it to Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, and called Democrats “obstructionists” who “don’t want to do what’s right for our country.”6

 Hello!  Is anyone listening?  This from the Brady Campaign (remember – 30 years ago a person attempting to  assassinate President Reagan shot Jim Brady in the head, which left him partially paralyzed for life, hence the Brady Bill):

In One Year on Average

114,994 people in America are shot in murders, assaults, suicides & suicide attempts, unintentional shootings, or by police intervention.  33,880 people die from gun violence…  81,114 people survive gun injuries…7

We’re not going to ban pickups, but we should ban bump stocks and put a limit on guns!

Virga

I took a picture of the virga Monday night.  That’s a cloud trying to rain, but the moisture evaporates before it hits the ground.  However, after the sun went down, in the middle of the night, we got a drenching, with thunder and lightening.  Quite an event for the end of October.

1http://www.abc.net.au/science/features/bags/
2https://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/news/2016/03/14/arizona-legislature-approves-ban-on-plastic-bag.html
3http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/arizona/2017/10/24/bisbee-must-repeal-plastic-grocery-bag-ban-lose-funding-arizona-ag-says/795970001/
4https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/28/world/africa/rwanda-plastic-bags-banned.html
5http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/02/us/las-vegas-shooter/index.html
6https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/01/us/politics/trump-new-york-attack-schumer-visa.html
6https://www.bradycampaign.org/key-gun-violence-statistics

Halloween 2017

October 29, 2017

Just a photo of one house in my neighborhood.  Makes me think I ought to do something other than give out candy…  No photos of the grandkids in their costumes yet – the night for spooks is two away.

WordPress

WordPress shut down my adding photos to my blogs, saying that I had used 3.0 GB of my 3.0 GB upload limit (a limit that I didn’t know I had).  Well, considering that my photos tend to be about 13 KB, that I have an average of 5 (or possibly many more) photos per blog, and that I’ve been blogging an average of twice a month for the past seven years, they should have shut me down me four years ago.  So I had to chuck out $99 per year for the Premium Blog, which I did, and now have 3.0 GB out of 13.0 GB upload limit (23%).

Renegade installations

 

I’ve always liked flash mobs1, including Random Acts Of Classical Music.  These are the visual equivalent – Catskill Yarn Bombers on trees, guerrilla knitting on statues (this one in Portland), Chilean yarn bombers, Lanapuerto, which translates as Wool Port (boat show here).

 

 

But now there are flash flowers, Lewis Miller with his pop-up flower installations in New York City (photos of which I saw in the NY Times), and Geoffroy Mottart, a florist in Belgium, who puts flowered beards and wigs on statues because he wants people to pay attention to statues.

TMA continued

Just one of the outfits I photographed from feature exhibition Desert Dweller, the original ad and the outfit, designed by Cele Peterson, who for more than 75 years served as Tucson’s arbiter of fashion and grace, died2… in 2010 at 101.

This photo, right, from the TMA website of the John Chamberlain crushed car sculpture that the museum owns.  Compare that to his humongous sculpture I saw in Berlin: berlin-day-three

Also from the museum collection, this Bill Schenck, Wyoming #44.  I used to own one of his large oils, Psycho Killer (shown on right), but the ex- got it in the divorce, and one of his subsequent wives didn’t like it, so it was sold.  I rather like his kitsch cowboy paintings; wish I still had that one.  Got to know his art when I as working at IBM –  they had a huge triptych of a rodeo scene in their dining room.  So we went to Phoenix  for one of his showings, met him, and bought the painting.

I also like Donna Howell-Sickles And the Dog Jumped Over the Moon.  Her art was inspired by a postcard of a cowgirl c. 1935 seated on a horse captioned “Greetings from a Real Cowgirl from the Ole Southwest”, according to her website.

Canyon Wren is by Kate Breakey. I wrote about her2 when we saw her work at the Stillness show at the Louis Carlos Bernal Gallery, at the Pima College West Campus.  (Sorry – this photo is blurred.)

CAS (TMA’s Contemporary Art Society) bought this large photo, Untitled (Dispatch), Summer by Gregory Crewdson.  From Wikipedia:

Crewdson’s photographs usually take place in small-town America, but are dramatic and cinematic. They feature often disturbing, surreal events. His photographs are elaborately staged and lit using crews familiar with motion picture production and lighting large scenes using motion picture film equipment and techniques.

From our trip to Berlin, TMA purchased two of Argentine artist Tomás Saraceno‘s spider compositions, Semi-Social Mapping of Perdita 0.638 by a Pair of Cyrtophora citricola – Four Heads.  Click on them to see the detail.

Sorry – I never got around to finishing my Berlin blogs.  Can find no photos of the lab so think that we were not allowed to take any.  We saw his studio the last day.  We were told that the spiders are not enclosed, so anyone with arachnophobia should not go in; one woman stayed out. Here are my notes:

Arachnolab – spiders at work.  Senegalese spider in open lab for a couple of weeks… Combining different species for hybrid webs.  Some webs overnight, some a month.  Biologists know which ones can coexist.

Webs natural or sprayed black (ink has linseed oil, so tacky).  After spiders are moved to another frame, paper is put under the web and lifted up.  Food crickets and flies.  Spiders from all over the globe, Croatia, South Africa, South America.  Open frames have spiders working.

I had written about Barbara Rogers in is-it-over.  This, Her Garden: Objects and Sights Remembered # 127, is just a snippet of her commission for the dining room of Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas, the largest cruise ship on the ocean (16 decks).

CAS had visited Ellen Wagener‘s home studio in 20124.  This tree she did in black and white pastels, D.H. Lawrence Tree, Kiowa, NM, was donated to the museum by the Greenbergs.

I have many more photos of the exhibits, but it’s late and I’m tired, so this shall have to do.

1https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2012/10/26/the-vegetarian-coyote/
2cele-peterson
3https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2017/03/24/equal-pay-day/
4https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2012/01/28/phoenix-art/

TMA

October 21, 2017

 

Tucson Museum of Art

After a summer of renovation and expansion, TMA reopened to members Friday night, with new galleries, new feature exhibitions, and new selections from the museum’s permanent collection.  And the public are free this weekend!  Because I hadn’t taken my camera Friday night, I went back for two tours today, one, Dress Matters: Clothing as Metaphor, by our curator, Julie Sasse, another, Desert Dweller, by the CEO, Jeremy Mikolajczak, and a guest curator whose name I didn’t get (both shown at left).

The museum looks totally awesome!  You must go.  Here are a few of the pieces I liked.

Wikipedia says that Nick Cave is a… fabric sculptor, dancer, and performance artist… best known for his Soundsuits: wearable fabric sculptures that are bright, whimsical, and other-worldly. He also trained as a dancer with Alvin Ailey.  Can’t imagine him dancing in this Soundsuit – made from fabric, fiberglass and metal, and covered in sequins, it looks very heavy.

A painting of a ballgown, Unfinished Conversations, by Laura Schiff Bean.

 

Bob Carey is the photographer and subject of the “Tutu Project.” This series of stunningly silly videos and still self-portraits was originally launched to cheer up his wife, Linda, after she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and later went viral. 5

This lithograph, Untitled (Joseph), by Robert Longo [who, according to Wikipedia] became a rising star in the 1980s for his “Men in the Cities” series, which depicted sharply dressed men and women writhing in contorted emotion.  (Unfortunately, I caught glare and/or reflections on most of these photos.)

Barbara Penn, a professor at the University of Arizona, came in to talk of her sculpture, On a Columnar Self, which she had originally done in 1994, but recreated for the show, and how memorials are being much discussed today (as in the Civil War memorials).  Her mother’s wedding dress on the plinth.  She said the eggs represent creativity to her, but could also be (obviously) fertility.

Angela Ellsworthwas raised as a Mormon; some of her work relates to that upbringing, such as the Seer Bonnet XIX24,182 pearl corsage pins, fabric, steel, and wood.  This series of pioneer bonnets represents the wives of Joseph Smith – this one is ascribed to Flora Ann.

Had to add this photo of Julie talking as I loved the outfit of the woman in pink lavender.

This gorgeous video by Sama Alshaibi – Wasl (Union) deals with climate change and is part of Silsila, a multi-media project depicting Alshaibi’s seven-year cyclic journey through the significant deserts and endangered water sources of the Middle East and North African… Silsila

WordPress has started limiting the amount and size of photos that I put in my blogs (it is free…), so I have to stop here and add more TMA photos to another blog.  On to other topics:

Republicans

First, Arizona’s governor, Doug Ducey, gives his staff outrageous raises:

Ducey’s PR guy, Daniel Scarpinato… has scored 14 percent in pay raises since Ducey took office in 2015, bringing his salary to $162,000.
…Registrar of Contractors Director Jeff Fleetham, a campaign contributor… snagged a nearly 13 percent raise to $115,000.
…Department of Child Safety Director Greg McKay, whose 33 percent raise has boosted his pay to $215,250. Or Corrections Director Charles Ryan, whose 10 percent raise brought him to $185,000.
[and] …a long-time pal he promoted from assistant director to deputy director of the Department of Administration… Kevin Donnellan scored a 41 percent pay raise, boosting his salary to $161,200. That’s not counting bonuses of $4,836 over the past two years.1

Then he gives teachers only  1%:

…he proposed a four-tenths of 1 percent pay raise for teachers – though ultimately he was pressured to boost the raise to 1 percent.1

When they protested…

Ducey’s office… stated that those receiving raises had assumed additional responsibilities, and the governor has shrunk state government by shedding 978 employees…  The Republic found at least 1,700 state workers had been fired since Ducey took office, with the largest number from DES.

The majority of those fired across the state were over age 40. Older employees are more expensive to the state payroll because they typically have higher wages, cost more to insure, and their pension contributions are higher. Numerous fired workers told The Republic that Ducey appointees also targeted women, minorities, those with disabilities, gays and lesbians.2

The Church

This was on the news the other day:

ROME – A Vatican trial over $500,000 in donations to the pope’s pediatric hospital that were diverted to renovate a cardinal’s penthouse is reaching its conclusion, with neither the cardinal who benefited nor the contractor who was apparently paid twice for the work facing trial.

Instead, the former president of the Bambino Gesu children’s hospital and his ex-treasurer are accused of misappropriating 422,000 euros from the hospital’s fundraising foundation to overhaul the retirement home of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State. vatican/2017/10/14/

So I wondered if the guys in charge of Wells Fargo’s misfeasance went to jail.  But I didn’t even know about their bank fraud ring:

An Inglewood man convicted of running a bank fraud ring that pilfered more than half a million dollars from Wells Fargo bank and its customers was sentenced to more than seven years in federal prison Thursday.3

Okay – steal $500,000, get seven years in prison.  So shouldn’t that happen to the cardinal and the contractor (who maybe should get 14 years, as he was paid twice)?  But no, I was thinking of the Wells Fargo employees who secretly opened 565,443 credit card accounts without their customers’ knowledge or consent.  Nope, nobody went to jail.  Not only that, but:

…it does not appear that Wells Fargo is requiring its former consumer banking chief Carrie Tolstedt…[who] was in charge of the unit where Wells Fargo employees opened more than 2 million largely unauthorized customer accounts… to give back any of her nine-figure pay… $124.6 million.

Wells Fargo… agreed to pay $185 million… to settle claims that that it defrauded its customers… The bank also said it had fired 5,300 employees over five years related to the bad behavior.4

More pleasant predators

The roadrunner has taken over my yard, and peered at me eating lunch.  And I caught a photo of the Cooper’s hawk at the birdbath.

1http://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/laurieroberts/2017/10/17/ducey-tosses-peanuts-teachers-while-throwing-banquet-his-staff/773475001/
2http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/2017/10/20/teachers-union-fight-20-percent-raises-just-like-gov-ducey-gave-staff-friends/782488001/
3http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-wells-fraud-sentencing-20170112-story.html
4 http://fortune.com/2016/09/12/wells-fargo-cfpb-carrie-tolstedt/
5Tutu Project

Acts of God

October 14, 2017

Hurricanes, Fires

Well, your insurance says Act of God, but I think it’s more Devilish.  We start investigating Trump’s ties to Russia, and what happens?  Four category 4 and 5 hurricanes hit the US.  Harvey hit the east coast of Texas – you no doubt have seen photos of Houston inundated.  Then Irma hit Florida and the Caribbean.  Jose grazed the east coast.  Maria slammed into Puerto Rico, which is better now that they have some paper towels.  The US Virgin Islands also got flattened.


Now the West in on fire.  Santa Rosa, in California, is still on fire.

Several thousand more people were ordered Saturday to evacuate from… Santa Rosa as a new wildfire threatened the area, six days after deadly blazes started to devastate the region.  cnn.com/2017/10/14/

Here is a photo of Coffey Park, 10 minutes to the west of the Bird Rescue Center in Santa Rosa where my brother volunteers. (This is the last posting I did of it, with photos of the mews and my brother, D, with hawks: cazadero.)  This account from him:

The Bird Rescue Center was untouched, in spite of being surrounded by neighborhoods that were devastated. The 18 resident raptors and also the wild birds in rehab were evacuated in about 45 minutes by the quick actions of experienced volunteers — the residents were taken primarily in boxes designed for birds of their size used in field rescue. Once at the volunteer’s home where they are currently residing, we transferred most of them to larger vet cages and dog and cat carriers. They also are getting out on the fist and on perches daily — depending on the prevailing winds sometimes outside, or in the house on smoky days. To date, six volunteers have lost homes (most leaving with only the clothes on their backs and pets) — the fires continue to burn, but once we feel that they are under control the birds will be returned to the center.

D was backpacking in the Sierras with his son and didn’t even know of the fires until they got back to “civilization” and cell service.  Also, his wife was ready to evacuate, with the cat carrier at ready, but the fires drove east, not west, so Cazadero lucked out.

Seen two weeks ago

A red-tailed hawk flew out in front of me as I drove through the neighborhood.  I recognize them as my brother painted a watercolor of one for me.

Sixteen bicyclists in that marvelous spandex, zipping down La Cañada.  (The Spanish tilde doesn’t show up on maps, so Siri, or whatever voice talks to you for directions, pronounces it Canada, as the country.)

Two orthodox men walking down the sidewalk.  (They are not allowed to drive on the sabbath.)  I wish I could have stopped to take a photo.  They were stunning, one in white, one in black, with hats and long beards.  This photo is of a Halloween costume, but you get the idea.

My grandson, F, has been doing taekwondo for a few years, and participated in his first regional tournament at their doh-jahng.  It was very crowded, with at least 40 competitors, and the families spread out along the wall, cameras or phones in hand.  All the kids (and a few adults) got trophies, for first, second, third places, and participating.  F (left) got two second places in his age group, one for his routine, and one for sparing.  He did not do the armed sparing (with padded batons).

Seen yesterday

A juvenile Cooper’s hawk landed on my birdbath, three dark bands on its tail, but it took off before I could retrieve the camera.  Could it be the one I’ve seen at my neighbor’s, or maybe they’re a family?  What with the hawk, roadrunner, and bobcats, no wonder I haven’t seen a ground squirrel in months.  Nor many lizards except for the 4″ squirts.

More taekwondo.  This time the end-of-the-season (summer?) wrap-up, with forms, sparing, and new belts, for three dozen participants.  F got a camo (camouflage) belt.  Four of eleven levels:  white, orange, yellow, camo, green, purple, blue, brown, red, red/black, and black, in addition to many levels of black belt.  At least that’s what’s listed for the AKA (American Taekwondo Association taekwondo/belts).  But our Master (I’m not sure of his title) has added half-color belts too, white/orange, and so on.  Also, this next season, the students shall be learning about Self-Esteem.  (Last season it was Respect.)

This ‘n that

September 23, 2017

Last week we laughed because the weather forecasters talked about a cooling trend – in other words, double digits, 97° rather than 104°.  But today it’s absolutely balmy!  Only 85° with 14% humidity.

Worms and Spiders

I’ve had these tiny black striped caterpillars eating my parsley.  Been picking them off to save a few sprigs for myself, and putting them on the “hedge” of my neighbor’s cat’s claw above the wall, thinking they could eat anything green.  Only thought today to look them up.  Turns out they’re also called parsley worms.  Guess why!  Then they turn into pretty black swallowtail butterflies, and I guess I’m not going to have any more, having starved these poor worms.  These photos, and the info, from another blog:

Swallowtail caterpillars… serve as a food source for songbirds and other wildlife. After their metamorphosis into butterflies… one-third of the world’s cultivated crops depend upon the work of pollinators like butterfly and bees. In addition… just watching the whimsical flight of butterflies is enough to lift the spirits!  black-swallowtail-caterpillar

I had also seen inch worms on my basil (and mint and lantana) and had picked them off and deposited them in the cat’s claw.  Today more holes in the leaves but only a tiny yellowish white spider.  It couldn’t be eating the cutworms.

What if you can’t see any worms eating the… plant? The culprit might still be mint plant worms – cutworms to be exact. Cutworms are nocturnal feeders and then post feast, hiding in the soil during the day at the plant’s base or in its debris.  edible/herbs

And speaking of spiders, I have a number of pretty 1½- to 2-inch black and yellow garden spiders on my tomato plants and bougainvillea (this photo from Orkin, which, unfortunately, sells you chemicals to kill all bugs) but none of them have done the zippers on their orb webs I’ve seen before.  I just work around them; love having them eat the tiny insects.

Vegetable Garden

After spending half a day raking out two inches of gravel, which I guess the owner considers landscaping, dug my compost into another two feet of space for the vegetable garden, having found another section of soaker hose.  Planted seeds for a few butterfly bushes, broccoli and cauliflower plants, carrots, radishes, and nasturtiums.  A month too early for arugula.

Am still harvesting about a pint of cherry tomatoes a week, and made ratatouille twice, first from three Japanese eggplants, next from three small, round eggplants (Black Beauty).  The tomato bushes (Super Sweet 100) are so huge, had to buy a tomato tower to support one of them, which I had originally only planted with a tiny cage.  Tried a recipe for baked cherry tomatoes, and it made them way too sweet!  Slathered it on goat cheese sandwiches.

Lizards

After the bobcat and roadrunner appearances in my yard, have not seen any large collared lizards around, they’re being more cautious, just tiny ones doing pushups.  Googled that, even though I knew the answer, and got this cute column from the Tucson Weekly a number of years ago.  You must read it!  why-lizards-do-push-ups-and-other-tucson-wildlife-tidbits-you-need-to-know-before-you-die

The English Monarchy

Reading commentary in last Sunday’s New York Times about my cousin, Tony Blair, The Boys of Brexit:

Did Blair ever think he would see a time when the royal family would keep calm and carry on as the queen’s grandson moved toward marrying an American TV actress who is divorced and half black?

Huh?  I don’t follow the Monarchy (except to watch Netflix’s series The Crown and the 2006 movie The Queen, with Helen Mirren, about the royal debacle after Diana died), so had to look up which grandson was marrying an American.  Turns out red-headed Prince Harry is “dating” a divorced American actress, Meghan Markle, Jewish, half-black, and four years older that he is (36, 32).  And it appears that she has moved into his “cottage”, at Kensington Palace.  Nottingham Cottage is not a Thomas Kinkade cottage (gag), but small.  (Photo of the couple from Getty Images.)

Loved this detail of Kensington Palace from the U.K.’s Daily Mail.  You can click on it to make it larger.  Price Harry’s arrow is third down on the left.  According to Hello Magazine,

Harry’s new digs have been dubbed “the royal bedsit” due to the one-bedroom apartment’s modest facilities, which include a small living room, kitchen and bathroom.

Equifax

Another article in the Times, Consumers, but Not Executives, May Pay for Equifax Failings.  Thought I ought to see if I was caught in the web.  equifaxsecurity2017.com  According to the NPR news, you click on Am I Impacted? and get another page.

  1. Click the button above, “Am I Impacted?,” and provide your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number.  [And prove you’re not a robot.]
  2. Based on that information, you will receive a message indicating whether your personal information may have been impacted by this incident.
  3. Regardless of whether your information may have been impacted, we will provide you the option to enroll in TrustedID Premier. After checking if you were impacted you will see an option to enroll. The enrollment period ends on Tuesday, November 21, 2017.

I did so and got:

Thank You
Based on the information provided, we believe that your personal information may have been impacted by this incident.
Click the button below to continue your enrollment in TrustedID Premier.

Darn.  But  was so gratified to know that:

Equifax paid $3.8 million in restitution to customers, a fine of $2.5 million and $200,000 in legal costs.

However,

Richard F. Smith, the chief executive and chairman of the Equifax board… received $15 million in total compensation in 2016, up from $13 million in 2015.

John Gamble, Equifax’s chief financial officer… received $3.1 million in 2016.

John J. Kelley III, the company’s chief legal officer… received $2.8 million in compensation last year.

Gee, that’s fair.  Read the article to see why they pulled in the big bucks.  Consumers, but Not Executives, May Pay for Equifax Failings