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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…

My Villa

March 13, 2018

Each time we leave on “rotation” we have to check out of our hotel rooms so our flights home are cost-effective.  I decided that I had had enough of the cheerful SeaWorld crowd, and found an apartment in a uge (sorry – I’ll never be able to say that word again without a Trump accent) resort complex, Westgate Lakes Resort & Spa.  I’m in building 90.  (You’ll need to click on this map to read it.) I have a One-Bedroom Deluxe Villa.  Now a villa is supposed to be a large and luxurious country residence.  So they’re trumping up (yes, a real expression meaning concocting especially with intent to deceive) their rentals.

Saturday we were told not to work, so I decided to walk from one end of Westgate to the other.  Took an hour.  I walked out to the Sunset Key Island (top left on the map).  A cay (pronounced key) is a low island or reef of sand or coral, so shouldn’t it just be Sunset Cay?  This photo of the stacks of “villas” is shot from Sunset Key Island.  My “villa” is in the third building from the right.)

 

Quite a mix of people: black, white, older, younger, some with kids, others with dogs, a man in Mickey Mouse ears, most in shorts or bathing suits, but a few women in hijabs.  Didn’t look at all full, but the parking lot was. Took some photos of water birds with my iphone.  Gray heron posing on a fence, limpkin, egret.  And a photo of Sunset Key Island.

I did my usual laundry and grocery shopping and went to the Jewish deli again for bagel and lox.  Then I walked the length of the open-air Marketplace at Dr. Phillips.  65 shops – these are just the restaurants:

Bistro Clo Clo (coming soon), Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine, Cariera’s Cucina Italiana, Chamberlin’s, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Christini’s Ristorante Italiano, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Flame Kabob, Greek Flame Taverna,  Keke’s Breakfast Cafe, Lemon Shark Poke, Lotus Garden Chinese Restaurant, Morton’s The Steakhouse, Nagoya Sushi, Pinkberry, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, Stefano’s Grill, Subway, The Dessert Lady, TooJay’s Original Gourmet Deli, Which Wich?, and Yogurtology.

Recycling

I don’t see anyone recycling here.  At work we toss a lot of papers, and I used to put them in the blue wastebasket until I noticed the cleaning guy empty them all into the same bin.  I asked and no, we don’t recycle.  Plus there’s a soda machine in the break room, so imagine how many cans and plastic bottles are thrown out daily.  (I refill my water bottle at the drinking fountain.)

I only went to a local sandwich place once because everything was served in or on Styrofoam!

Styrofoam is non-biodegradable and appears to last forever. It’s resistant to photolysis… This, combined with the fact that Styrofoam floats, means that large amounts of polystyrene have accumulated along coastlines and waterways around the world… a main component of marine debris.

It breaks down into those tiny pellets that sea birds and fish accidentally eat, and die with their stomachs full of them.  Plus it’s poisonous.  Read the whole article: styrofoam

When my hotel room gets cleaned, they change my towels daily, polluting more water, even though I hang them up.  And they toss out a roll of toilet paper if it doesn’t have much on it, and small bars of soap that I could easily use for another week.

I also miss my compost pile.  Last night I was peeling a potato and hated to put the peels into the garbage disposal.

Rental Car

I had a slow leak in one tire, so instead of giving me a coupon to have a tire store fix it, the Avis guy gave me a different car, a Hyundai Elantra.  The black Beetle had had Georgia plates; this one has New York plates.  They’re school-bus-yellow, which is lucky, as I’d never find it in a parking lot otherwise – it blends in with all of the other gray Asian cars.  I miss the heated seats on our cold mornings, but I like having a windshield wiper on the back window.  On foggy mornings the windows fog up and I need to see out the back.  Anyway, when he told me that it had New York plates, he said, So be sure to cut people off and honk a lot!  After that we discussed the dreadful Florida drivers.

On a similar note:  we have two armed guards per floor at work, one for each elevator bank (as FEMA is part of the Department of Home Security), and all they have to do is check our badges as we enter and exit.  So each has a television, and the rest of the time they watch the news.  The other day one was watching a snow storm in New York.  I asked him if he’d ever lived Up North.  He said, Yes, New York!  So I asked him where the worse drivers were – New York or Orlando.  Orlando!  We both laughed.

But we shouldn’t be laughing about the snow.  A co-worker who follows the news announced at lunchtime today that, The Boston Globe reports 155K without power so far.

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.

Never a Dull Moment

January 21, 2018

What a roller coaster ride this last year.  Never boring.  Just this last week, Hawaii thought it would get nuked, it was reported that Trump “entertained” a porn star four months after Melania had Barron, for which his lawyer paid $130,000 hush money just before the election, he was also quoted as calling African nations, Haiti, and El Salvador “shitholes”, and the Federal government has just shut down.

Well, I and my compatriots happen to work for the Feds.  “FEMA is ordered to execute an orderly shutdown and we will furlough non-exempted employees,” emailed our Director, Brock Long.  Luckily, our group is exempt, so we shan’t have to leave our hotel rooms and move into our office spaces.  Hah!

Speaking of Brock (who signs his emails to us with just his first name, no title or anything else), he visited us last week.  He gave a talk on the seventh floor, broadcast to us on floors four through six.  The video onto a sheet.  With such tiny speakers we could only hear a fraction of what he said.  Embarrassing.  But he did come downstairs and shake hands with all of us, thanking us for our work.  Quite a personable guy, and one one of the few of Trump’s appointees who is actually qualified for the job (as opposed to Betsy DeVos), and doesn’t think that his department should be gutted (as Rick Perry, who said he wanted to abolish the Energy Department, and Scott Pruitt, who heads the Environmental Protection Agency but is a known climate change denier and coal industry supporter).  This from FEMA:

Mr. Long has more than 16 years of experience assisting and supporting local, state, and Federal Governments with building robust emergency management and public health preparedness programs…

From 2008-2011, Mr. Long served as Director of Alabama’s Emergency Management Agency (AEMA)… and served as the State Coordinating Officer for 14 disasters, including eight presidentially-declared events. Mr. Long also served as an on-scene State Incident Commander for the Alabama Unified Command during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Women’s March Orlando Anniversary

The weather is still up and down – Thursday morning it was 28°, and now it’s 78°.  That doesn’t seem to be helping my cough.  But I take meds, go to work, and vegetate on the weekend.  Didn’t feel up to joining the Women’s March Orlando Anniversary yesterday. (Photo by Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel)  It was reported that thousands gathered.

A Glimpse of Beauty

Was driving “home” Friday, following Google Maps suggestions of shortcuts around backed-up streets, grimacing at some of the worst “architecture”, if you can even use that word, and then there was a four-and-a-half foot sandhill crane, standing in the grass on one leg, glancing at the traffic.  With a red head and dove-grey wing feathers, blending into its white neck.  Wow – so elegant!  Obviously couldn’t take a photo of it at 40mph, but Dannie Polley gave me permission to use his photo from the Web that looks just like it.

Immigrants

Practically everybody I know is a descendants of immigrants.  (I have worked with a few Navajos, who also migrated to North America, but about 3,000 BC+, so we call them Native Americans.)  Anyway, this from Nicholas Kristof’s column in the Times last week:

In 1885, a poor, uneducated 16-year-old boy arrived in our country from Germany at a time when immigrants were often looked down on by affluent Americans.

This boy was ambitious and entrepreneurial, and, despite language problems, he earned some money and then traveled up to the Klondike during the gold rush to operate a hotel that became notorious for prostitution.  He prospered, and today his grandson is President Trump.

Please read the whole column: Mr. Trump, Meet a Hero You Maligned

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.


Fast and Furious

November 30, 2017

About forty newbies from Wave 11 showed up at our AFO on Monday.  We scrambled to find enough tables and chairs, and the PA TFLs (Team Field Leaders) were stretched to manage more of us.  Our feet are being held to the fire to get our calls, meetings, and documentation done quickly and the applicants’ paperwork finished and to the feds before the Christmas holidays.  I started off behind, as my first applicants were schools, I arrived at the AFO on the Monday of Thanksgiving week, when all of the schools had a week off for break.  (I did not get an entire week off to join the Native Americans in their National Day of Mourning, nor did my children or grandchildren.)  Our applicants have already waited almost two months for disaster relief from our government.  BTW – According to Wikipedia, Irma’s damage is almost $64.66 billion – Unofficially the fifth-costliest hurricane on record, which makes this a good time to cut taxes.

Fitness

Walked to the Subway for lunch today – 0.8 miles each way, according to Google maps. In anticipation had slathered with sunscreen in the morning, as the clouds have finally receeded.  But I had forgotten that when the humidity is 75%, you’re damp when you return.  However, I need exercise, and walking up and down the stairs to my second floor “residence” (It’s not a room,  it’s a residence), plus walking up and down the stairs to the third floor office aren’t enough, but getting up to exercise before work (starting time 8 am at the latest) does not appeal to this not-a-morning-person.  And after work I’m tired.  (Remember, I haven’t worked full time for almost ten years.)  Nevertheless, the RVD Athletic Club is near, and at 5:30 pm they offer Group Core:

Train like an athlete in 30-action packed minutes. A strong core, from your shoulders to your hips, will improve your athletic performance, prevent back pain and give you ripped abs! Motivating instructors and music will coach you through functional and integrated exercises using your body weight, a weight plate, a towel and a platform – all to challenge you like never before. REACH YOUR PEAK with Group Core!

Hahahahaha…

Flora and Fauna

Our office is in a beautiful office park (photos here from the Web) with mature trees (with leaves! unlike those in Tucson), some laden with Spanish moss.  (Click on the one at right for a view.)  Walkways wind along masses of green – azaleas, some blooming, society garlic, also blooming, large swaths of giant philodendren, liriope larger than I can grow in Tucson, New Zealand flax, all in large beds, manicured hedges,  low walls covered with ivy or moss, and large ponds, some with water lilies.

Already mentioned the plethora of squirrels, the vultures and the hawk, but forgot the cattle egrets (tick birds we used to call them in Jamaica, as they had a symbiotic relationship with the cattle, keeping them relatively free of bugs) – about five of them sitting on a hedge, as there are no cows around.  And a solitary egret in one of the ponds, looking like a statue among the flock of ducks, mallards and white peking, enjoying the water.  No segregation here.

No Frolicking

We were sent an email about Rental Car Unauthorized Activities.   This was one:

Frolicking- doing things that are for recreation, sightseeing, movies, bowling, concerts, bar hopping, going to the beach or amusement parks; if you are having fun you are unlikely to be in the scope of your employment.

Having fun is definitely not in our scope of work.

Speaking of rental cars, ours are to be cheap, and mine is a two-door VW beetle.  But a bit snazzier than the delapidated one my boyfriend had in college. Because it’s a turbo, the first time I hit the gas I nearly got whiplash!  And it has heated seats, which I’ve used on two “cold” mornings.

Disaster

November 26, 2017

PA

First, let me clarify the difference between PA and IA, Public Assistance v. Individual Assistance.  I’m working PA, assisting three schools (public facilities), rather than helping individuals with their homes, cars, and other possessions. This explains it well: understanding IA and PA.  But it’s way different from what I did for Katrina victims, three school districts off the coast where the hurricane had spawned tornadoes, and then on the coast out of Biloxi, with an elementary school with so much damage and the dreaded black mold that it had to be razed.  Now I’m managing the federal paperwork (which isn’t paper but electronic) and am the single POC (Point Of Contact) for each applicant; others  such as SI (Site Inspectors) report to me on the damage and yet others do the estimation of cost, both of which I had done previously.

Another acronym: FEMA is under the DHS (Department of Homeland Security).

Holidays

We got this notice two weeks ago:

The spirit of the holiday season is once again upon us and I wish you all the best during this special time of the year. This year, FEMA’s official holiday celebration will be observed on Thursday, December 14, 2017. We encourage each of you to take time to enjoy the season, share goodwill with coworkers, and spend quality time with family and friends.

A few of you have asked about Thanksgiving.  A woman in the office put out a sign-in sheet, ordered the food from Boston Market,  and 30 of us paid $17 and gathered at one of the extended stays that had a conference room.  Nice community of people.   [In Mississippi the boss asked me to organize Thanksgiving.  We (PA) shared an exhibition hall at a county fairgrounds with the distribution warehouse for IA which housed water, MREs – Meals Ready to Eat, mattresses,  blankets,  and so on.  So the truckers deep-fried a few turkeys (marvelous!) and I ordered large amounts of coleslaw, potato salad, and whatever else the local grocery’s deli counter had, as well as pies.  We moved our tables together in the hall and about 40 of us ate on paper plates.  Think the boss may even have waived the prohibition on alcohol.  Don’t remember.  But he had FEMA pay for the whole feast.]

On Thanksgiving morning I moved into new digs.  Had only reserved the room at the ESA (Extended Stay America) for one week, and it didn’t have much room for clothes; I’d been living out of suitcases for three weeks – two at the Econo Lodge in Frederick (one star), and one here in Maitland.  A few women at work said that the Residence Inn had a three-drawer dresser under the television.  I called but was told that there was no room at the inn.  Forgoing a manger, I got on their 800 number and after almost half an hour booked a room for the next six months.  Had to spend one more night in the ESA, hence the Turkey Day move.

We worked Friday.

My handlers (at my contracting firm, a subsidiary of Fluor) are doing a cost-benefit analysis of my possible Christmas leave.  If I move out of my room, store my bags, and they don’t have to give me per diem for a few days, I may get six days off, two of which shall be spent flying.   BTW – google Florida and per diem 2017.  The GSA (General Services Administration) gives us up to $129/night for accommodations.   The Residence Inn is $119 but shall be going up to  $129, as many others are doing.  At the far right of the list is M&IE (Meals & Incidental Expenses).

Speaking of which, I have to do my expense report for tomorrow, which has also been a learning curve, taking photos of paper receipts, turning them in to pdf’s, which then have to be attached pages in the WIS ( think it’s a Weekly Input Sheet), a spreadsheet which also needs to be converted to a pdf (Portable Document Format).  And three estimates of plane fare to and from Tucson for the cost-benefit analysis.  So must stop typing for today.

Driving around Orlando

I-4 is the main drag north of the center of Orlando. It is under construction and a big mess, but I have only seen one steam shovel at work. At 1:10 in the afternoon it was bumper to bumper. An hour and a quarter later it was bumper to bumper in the other direction.  Plus could never find anything if it weren’t for my trusty Waze.  One of the guys in our group recommended it; he likes it better than google maps ’cause it also mentions a disabled car at the side of the road, or a cop ahead.

We were just given a phone list of our compatriots here. 488 on the list.

Wildlife

Looking out the window at work (we’re working in a “bull pen”, ringed by windowed offices for the higher-ups, but one office hasn’t been filled yet and we use it for phone conversations) I saw a red-tailed hawk glide over the large pond next to our building.  It was a rainy day – many of those, many others overcast.  You would think that they could do without the sprinklers on the lawns.

Going to breakfast yesterday (not bad here at the Residence Inn,  as opposed to granola bars at the less expensive ESA) saw three vultures hunched over on dead branches at the top of a tall tree,  huddled against the heavy fog.  Today there were about 8 of them circling overhead.  Wonder what I don’ t know about this area.  Lots of cute squirrels.

 

Just to brag.  My son went as Jon Snow (albeit with less hair) to a costume party and got first prize.  (I used to love costume parties, although I did have my mom around to sew the outfits.)

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.)

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.”  However, 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 typically 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/