Archive for the ‘Bugs’ Category

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

Tucson, Mid-July

July 10, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reading

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

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

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

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

Politics

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

Mea Culpa

December 16, 2016

My favorite columnist, Nicholas Kristof, skewered me in his column, The Dangers of Echo Chambers on Campus

We champion tolerance, except for conservatives and evangelical Christians. We want to be inclusive of people who don’t look like usso long as they think like ushttp://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/10/opinion/sunday/the-dangers-of-echo-chambers-on-campus.html?rref=collection%2Fcolumn%2Fnicholas-kristof&action=click&contentCollection=opinion&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=collection&_r=0

walking-stickspeak-englishWalking stick on my back wall yesterday morning.  Put my fingers in the photo for scale.

And a cute article a friend had on her Facebook page.

 

 

Satire

Scientists: Earth Endangered by New Strain of Fact-Resistant Humans

“Scientists: Earth Endangered by New Strain of Fact-Resistant Humans,” by Andy Borowitz (May 12th)“Scientists: Earth Endangered by New Strain of Fact-Resistant Humans,” by Andy Borowitz (May 12th) PHOTOGRAPH BY NASA EO/REX/FEATURES VIA AP

MINNEAPOLIS (The Borowitz Report)—Scientists have discovered a powerful new strain of fact-resistant humans who are threatening the ability of Earth to sustain life, a sobering new study reports.

The research, conducted by the University of Minnesota, identifies a virulent strain of humans who are virtually immune to any form of verifiable knowledge, leaving scientists at a loss as to how to combat them.

“These humans appear to have all the faculties necessary to receive and process information,” Davis Logsdon, one of the scientists who contributed to the study, said. “And yet, somehow, they have developed defenses that, for all intents and purposes, have rendered those faculties totally inactive.”

More worryingly, Logsdon said, “As facts have multiplied, their defenses against those facts have only grown more powerful.”

While scientists have no clear understanding of the mechanisms that prevent the fact-resistant humans from absorbing data, they theorize that the strain may have developed the ability to intercept and discard information en route from the auditory nerve to the brain. “The normal functions of human consciousness have been completely nullified,” Logsdon said.

While reaffirming the gloomy assessments of the study, Logsdon held out hope that the threat of fact-resistant humans could be mitigated in the future. “Our research is very preliminary, but it’s possible that they will become more receptive to facts once they are in an environment without food, water, or oxygen,” he said.

Andy Borowitz is a New York Times best-selling author and a comedian who has written for The New Yorker since 1998. He writes the Borowitz Report for newyorker.com.  http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/scientists-earth-endangered-by-new-strain-of-fact-resistant-humans

Melania shall not move into White House

President-elect Donald Trump confirmed Sunday that future first lady Melania Trump and their 10-year-old son, Barron, will remain in New York after he becomes president, as first reported in the New York Post…

Melania Trump’s decision to not to live in the White House, at least for now, appears unprecedented. Nearly every first lady has taken up residence there. According to the White House Historical Association, George Washington and his wife, Martha Washington, did not live in the White House because it hadn’t been built yet. Also, first lady Anna Harrison, whose husband, William Henry Harrison, was the ninth president of the United States, never moved into the executive mansion because her husband died one month after his swearing-in.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/reliable-source/wp/2016/11/20/melania-trump-and-son-barron-will-reportedly-stay-in-new-york-after-the-presidential-inauguration/?utm_term=.38a43bb53211

trump-familyConsequently,

Protecting Donald Trump and his family members costs New York City more than $1 million every day, city officials said.

The expenses come as city police have been assigned to Trump, his adult children and his grandchildren, who all live in New York and can receive Secret Service protection…

The steep costs are not expected to dip very much once Trump is inaugurated because his wife, Melania Trump, and their 10-year-old son, Barron, are not moving to the White House, at least until Barron is done with school, CNN Money reported. Trump has also said he plans to frequently return to New York.

NYPD officers are protecting Trump and his family through security posts around Trump Tower and by assisting Secret Service at screening checkpoints.

http://time.com/4579340/new-york-city-trump-protect-money/

Imagine if Melania said, no, my son should not cost the city of New York $400 million.  We’ll (sigh) live in the White House.  Give that $400 million, instead, to the New York City School District to build a new school in the poorest section of the city.  (As if.)

A Chimp

September 19, 2016

SYDNEY, NSW - JULY 14: A Chimpanzee jumps at a glass screen as primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall holds a press conference at Taronga Zoo July 14, 2006 in Sydney, Australia. Dr Goodall visited the zoo to raise awareness of the plight of wild Chimpanzees. The zoo's colony of Chimps includes several family groups, and three of the oldest Chimpanzees in zoos. (Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images)Dr. Jane Goodall held a press conference at Taronga Zoo July 14, 2006 in Sydney, Australia.  (This was on NPR today.  Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images)

Donald Trump’s antics remind famed anthropologist Jane Goodall of the primates she spent decades studying in the wild.

“In many ways the performances of Donald Trump remind me of male chimpanzees and their dominance rituals,” Goodall told The Atlantic. “In order to impress rivals, males seeking to rise in the dominance hierarchy perform spectacular displays: stamping, slapping the ground, dragging branches, throwing rocks.”

Goodall added, “the more vigorous and imaginative the display, the faster the individual is likely to rise in the hierarchy, and the longer he is likely to maintain that position.”

the-donaldA friend of mine had posted this on her Facebook page:

 

Entomologando

A friend of mine posted this video on her Facebook page. What a great website!bug
https://www.facebook.com/entomologando/videos/1363242347038096/

Reminds me of a U of A Humanities Seminars class I took entitled What’s Bugging You: Insects and Culture.1

Oro Valley

My brother shall be visiting and he’s flying into the Phoenix airport. I was looking for a possible van to bring him here, and on tripadvisor.com found this question:

I am actually staying in PHX, but may make it to Oro Valley to purchase something. Is it an Indian Reservation?

1https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2012/12/04/entomophagy/

The Oro Valley Desert & Readings

August 27, 2016

The Desert

I loved to watch the wildlife at my last house – the deer, raccoon, javelinas, bobcats, rabbits (cottontail and jackrabbit), and all of the birds (especially the roadrunners and hawks).

There is a hill of desert behind the house I’m renting.  Because it is separated from the rest of the desert, typical of developers, (unless a creature, scarab_beetleusually a coyote, dares to cross the ring road around the subdivision), I can see only a few rabbits, cactus wrens (in the prickly pear, eating not the fruit, but the bugs after the fruit), doves, quail, and goldfinches.  And ants – lots of ants.  Also, recently the beautiful emerald green scarab beetles (also, according to Wikipedia, known as the figeater beetle, whose habitat is primarily the southwestern United States and Mexico).  Their photo.

“My” dove (see her photo in this blog: https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2016/06/27/pause/) raised one chick and both of them left.  (Not sure if there was a father around – sometimes the nest was not being tended.)  Lazy, I didn’t get rid of the nest on the back patio beam.  A week later, the dove returned, laid one more egg, and raised one more chick.  They are gone now.  Reminds me of friends who had one daughter.  When she went off to college, being empty nesters, they thought it was the right moment for the second child. As she said: One morning woke up and realized it is now or never and voila!  (Kids are 18 years apart.)

Our monsoon rains have brought out flowers on the barrel cactus and many fruit on the prickly pear cactus (called tuna in Spanish).

IMG_6493 IMG_6495

IMG_6502[1]Here is a photo of insect eggs, yellow and gold, laid neatly in lines on my bedroom window.  (Okay, I didn’t work hard enough to get their color – it was too bright outside.)  Each is approximately 2mm long.  I googled insect eggs and found no match, but all of these gorgeous others.

insect-eggs-2insect-eggs-1

insect-eggs-3insect-eggs-5 insect-eggs-4

Reading

Just read The Optimist’s Daughter by Eudora Welty.  In 1972 it won her a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. It was a nice novel, but I didn’t think that it came up to the quality of The Orphan Master’s Son, Olive Kitteridge, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, or other winners that I have read.  (But 1972 was when Marcus Welby, M.D, and My Three Sons were popular on TV.)

I am presently reading The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain. Bill Bryson married an English woman and now resides there and writes.  This book is a walking tour through Britain (with humour  and many snarky remarks).  I last visited the British Isles, approximately 25 years ago, when my children were young.  For the month-long vacation I had rented four cottages, two in England, one in Wales, one in Scotland (to see Blair Castle, but that’s another story), each for one week.  I remember being surprised that there was a footpath going right past the front garden of our Welsh cottage.  That’s when I learned that Britain has 140,000 miles of footpaths all across the island. 

Can’t imagine our Agro-Giants allowing people to walk through their crops in the US.  Plus, I checked, and Britain is about 57% the size of California.  I googled people who have walked across the United States, and there have been 19 recorded from 1896 to 2015.  A few more have bicycled; a young woman who I worked with in FEMA did it.  She had a hard time getting in enough training beforehand as we were working 60-hour weeks after Hurricane Katrina, and the storm had decimated most of the roads.  Also, my nephew rode across country back in his college days.  If I know two people who have done it, there must be hundreds.

But the walking tour brought to mind the walk a friend had taken with another, from Tucson to Nogales, approximately 70 miles (back when we were all younger).  Unfortunately, most of the way they walked next to a highway, breathing in the particulate matter and many noxious gases.  Their wives met them in Nogales for dinner.  (Google said that it should take 23 hours, 45 minutes for that walk, but I think they did it in half of that time.)  Believe that was the end of his long treks.

 

Birds, Bees, and Bobcats

June 8, 2015

art & birds 002Another one bit the dust.  Am going to have to put decals on the bedroom doors too.  This small bird has a tiny splotch of yellow on its head, so I guess it qualifies as a verdin.

At my computer Saturday I hear a loud art & birds 006smash, as a large bird hitting a window.  Went out front to check, and saw no dead bird, but a few quail were looking distressed and squawking up a storm.  Later, when I went out to my garden, I saw the evidence.  A hawk had flown a large bird (no doubt a quail, whose relatives I heard grieving) into the window, then had plunked it feathers outside the fence (see the photo) and dined.

art & birds 004On a cheerier note, a cardinal in the wildflower garden.  And (an un-photographed) visit from the neighborhood roadrunner, stopping just briefly on my bedroom patio, as the cat was outside, but they have a tacit agreement not to bother each other as the roadrunner is too big for the cat, and the cat is too big for the roadrunner.

Our killer bees are not a problem around here unless you disturb their hive, or are around a pool.  poolAfter house-hunting with my daughter on Sunday (they found another house and have made an offer) we went swimming at the El Conquistador pool (showing family in pool), where they are staying.  A few bees around the edge drinking the splashed water.  Many years ago, in similar circumstances,  I stepped on one, which of course stung me.  Another time, raising myself out of a pool, I put my hand down on one and got stung.  Unfortunately, I believe that both died.

This morning I thought I ought to plug my camera battery in for a recharge and as I stood up the young bobcat was just stepping onto the bedroom patio.  It looked at my cat (whose back was turned), then at me, and backed away.  With no battery I missed the shot.  The other day, getting ready for work, I noticed the cat staring out the sliding door, very interested.  The young bobcat was chasing a small rabbit in circles around a barrel cactus.  They were going quite fast, so these are the best photos I could get, obliquely through the glass.

bobcat & barrel 004
Commentary

freedom

I know that some of you prefer my animals to my politics, but had to share these. First, a poster about American freedoms, then commentary on the Koch brothers, based on a Coke commercial:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbykzqJ6ens

Next, a report on our world’s pollution.
earth1

…the Earth is surrounded by nearly 4 million pounds of space debris. The image you see above was actually generated by NASA to show which ones are presently being tracked.1

the loved oneThis brought to mind a farcical movie from the 60’s, The Loved One,2 which skewers the American Way of Death, and concludes with the deceased being shot into space; so you could add all those satellites filled with corpses, circling the earth, to the picture above.

1http://list25.com/the-25-most-polluted-places-on-earth/3/
2http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Loved_One_%28film%29

 

Water

May 6, 2015

California is cutting its water usage.  I emailed my brother, who lives in Sonoma County, and his son has a small apartment in San Francisco:

I spoke with the guy in charge of our water consortium, and he told me we’re ‘under the radar’ as we all use waaay less water than the most minimal users. I’m pretty sure Ian is also a low user…apartment renters aren’t watering lawns etc.  The most water I ever used was in Orinda, and we got charged very large penalties during the first drought.

Also emailed friends in San Diego:

Are you having mandatory water cuts?  As you no longer have a lawn to be watered, and I’ve never seen you wash a car in your driveway, are you going to have to start taking showers every other day?

She answered:

We already only shower twice a week…  only cut I can think of is to replace the toilets.  It’s going to be hard for us to meet the goal of a 35% cut.

Rain

clouds 008

Three words you generally don’t find in the same sentence: Tucson, Rain, May.  However, the past two days I awoke to the patter of raindrops.  Billowy clouds edged the sky.  The air was cooler and softer, yet the humidity was only 29%.  Today the clouds have thinned out and the humidity is back to 12%.

Plastic bags 

139 cities and counties in California have banned the use of plastic bags1.  Guess the major political party of the governor and legislature.  Arizona has passed a law to make it illegal for cities to ban plastic bags2. Guess the major political party of the governor and legislature.

Read

Victor LaValle’s new novel, The Devil in Silver (Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2012, New York Times Notable Book 2012), takes place in a mental hospital where the protagonist is dropped for the convenience of the cops who arrest him.  All of the patients are so drugged up, for the convenience of the hospital personnel, that they are barely able to function.

Different from 1962 novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey, which you might have read, or the 1975 film starring Jack Nicholson, which you might have seen.  That book is mentioned in The Devil in Silver:  Four of the patients are at their book club. A nurse has suggested a book for them to read.

“How about Ken Kesey?” Josephine suggested. “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest? That book meant a lot to me in high school. I think you all might really like it.”

Sammy frowned. Well, why don’t you read Slaughterhouse Five to a roomful of cattle.”

Josephine didn’t give up. “I just thought you all might like it because it’s about a mental hospital.”

Dorry took off her glasses, which instantly made her look less nuts. Her eyes were smaller, and she seemed younger by ten years. She blew on the lenses, and small specks of dust, flakes of skin, and dandruff fell like flurries toward the tabletop. She put the glasses back on and, nutty again, looked at the nurse.

“Here’s what you have to understand about that book, Josephine. As good as it is, it isn’t about mentally ill people. It takes place in a mental hospital, yes. But that book is about the way a certain young generation felt that society was designed to destroy them. Make them into thoughtless parts of a machine. To lobotomize them. That book is about them, not about people like us.”

Josephine stammered, trying to respond, but Dorry didn’t stop talking.

“If you remember the patients who really mattered in that story, most of them were voluntary. Do you remember what the main characters called the other ones? The ones who would never leave because they could never be cured?”

“No,” Josephine admitted quietly.

“The Chronics. Most of them were vegetables. Brain-deads. Maybe violent. Chronically sick. Diagnosed as everlastingly damaged. All of us here at Northwest? That’s who we are. Northwest is nothing but Chronics. We’ve all been committed, and most of us are not voluntary. So why would we want to read a book that barely mentions us except to tell us we’re f–d in the anus?”

Well, maybe that quote doesn’t catch your fancy.  But the book does have a lot to say about mental hospitals, and there is a bit of humor.  (But no guns or car chases, and the romance is very short.)

Bugs

spiderMade from used computer parts1, watch parts and light bulbs2:

bug

1http://money.cnn.com/2014/09/30/news/california-plastic-bag-ban/
2http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/arizona-lawmakers-tell-cities-they-cant-ban-plastic-bags/2015/04/30/6f6939c0-ef57-11e4-8050-839e9234b303_story.html
3http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2015/04/nintendo-insects/
4http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2012/11/mechanical-arthropods-and-insects-made-from-watch-parts-and-light-bulbs/

Killer Bees

April 27, 2015

beeI had noticed one bee buzzing around the outdoor cabinets on my deck.  I opened the cabinet, but only the start of a paper wasp nest.  Took it off and threw it away.  The last time a few bees were around I just sprayed the cabinets with the Deet I had left over from the trip down the Amazon; tried it but the can was finished.  And I never have any poison around, as I usually live and let live.

ant-argentine(Except for the invasion of the ants.  This is the fourth in the ant series:
https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2014/12/19/rain-3/, but it mentions the poison that worked.)

beeBackstory: When I was living in South Carolina, my ex- had moved out of the house and it was on the market.  The real estate agent called and said that the bees on the deck were scaring the potential buyers.  I think he may have mentioned bees before, but hadn’t given it a thought.  The problem he now said was that a storm had blow the far cabinet door off and the bees had built a hive.  Don’t know why he didn’t call the ex-, as he was living in Tucson, but figured I had to deal with it.

beeLooked online, found a bee removal service, called them and was told that no, they didn’t relocate the hive, as all bees in Arizona had been Africanized [Africanized honey bees are known colloquially as “killer bees”], they killed them.  Plus they had to wear bee suits to do it, and it’s rather dangerous as Africanized bees are only dangerous when you attack their hive.  And, of course, it would cost more to remove the hive.  So I said Let it be done.

beeNext time I was in Tucson (unfortunately for a friend’s funeral), checked out the house.  The bee removal company had done a lousy job of cleaning out the hive, as there was still honey smeared inside the cabinet.  Oh well, I cleaned it myself, regretting that I hadn’t gotten the honey, repaired the door and reattached it.

beeBack to last weekend.  I started to call bee removal companies to get estimates on the removal of the now two dozen bees.  Estimates from five companies ranged from $125 to $580 (!!!), for only 24 bees!?  But as I was on the phone I noticed that the numbers were increasing, and at that point the real estate agent called to bring out a client, within 15 minutes!  Déjà vu.  I was freaking.  So I told him about the bees and left to go to the hardware store for problem solving, and down the street was a pest control truck, with the pest control guy in it.

killer beesI stopped to quiz him about my problem (and saw the real estate agent go down the street).  He said that bees were swarming at that time, and I needed to put weather stripping around the doors so the bees didn’t get in the cracks.  Bought the weather stripping, but by the time I got home there were four dozen bees, and the thought of going out to remove cabinet doors with them possibly attacking was a bit unnerving.  (There have been two movies made: Killer Bees, 1974, and Killer Bees!, 2002.)

beeCalled one more bee company, and this guy told me just to spray the cabinets with Raid and the bees would go away.  (Duh – why didn’t I think of that, when the Deet had worked before.)  Called my neighbors to ask if they had any Raid (not wanting to go out again), which I borrowed, and sure enough it worked.  Phew!  A dozen bees dead unfortunately, but none left trying to get in.  Took the (same) offending door off, repaired it again, and noticed that when it swung correctly, no weather stripping was necessary.  Took that back the next day for my money back.  Crisis averted!

Attack of the Crane Flies

March 10, 2015

250px-CraneFlyThe crane flies have been all over the house and attacking the windows for about a week.  According to Wikipedi, Although crane flies look like mosquitoes, they do not bite humans. Adult crane flies do not eat at all; most adult crane flies only mate and then die.  The larva eat the roots of grass so they no doubt love the golf courses here.  Looked at old blogs — didn’t mention crane flies last year.   Maybe was too busy to notice.  But two years ago they showed up in April, not March.  This must be a warmer year, climate change and all.  (For all of you folks back east, buried in snow, notice that I didn’t say global warming.)

Spring

meadow 011
Imeadow 003t’s spring, and with the bit of rain we’ve had, the flowers (mostly alyssum) that I seeded in my “meadow ” are thick, as well as the volunteers in my vegetable garden, from snapdragons that I’d planted years ago to wildflowers, California bluebells (shown here), desert verbena with both thin and wide leaves.    Plus my Lady Banks rose, which I have tied up
to the back fence, is roses 007 starting to bloom more than it ever has before.  BTW, this website is good for identifying flowers and recommending ones to plant: http://www.cvwd.org/conservation/lush_book/lush3_8.html

But even nicer to look at than flowers are the bicyclists of spring, packs of svelte bodies clad in lycra, riding up or down Anklam, taking in Gates Pass.

Seen yesterday: six cars stopped on the main drag through Starr Pass (a road with very little traffic) as a small herd of javelina crossed the street.

Life In The Universe

This week’s lecture, Intelligent Life Beyond Earth by Christopher D. Impey, University Distinguished Professor, Astronomy, was killed dinosaursthe best!  Chris has such a great sense of humor. (65 million years ago a comet killed off the dinosaurs; unfortunately it missed Barney.)  You must watch the podcasts.  All are on this site except for this one, which should be there in a week:
http://cos.arizona.edu/connections/life-in-the-universe
Here is the introductory spiel:

One question rises above all others when it comes to our place in a vast and ancient Universe, ‘Are we alone?’ With a billion habitable locations in the Milky Way galaxy, and more than ten billion years for biological experiments to play out, a search for intelligent life beyond Earth is well-motivated. Unfortunately, the single example of life on Earth gives no clear indication of whether intelligence is an inevitable or an extremely rare consequence of biological evolution. The search for extraterrestrial intelligence, or SETI, is more appropriately called the search for extraterrestrial technology. So far, the search for intelligent aliens by their electromagnetic communication has met with half a century of stony silence. It’s challenging to define life, and even more difficult to make general definitions of intelligence and technology. We’ll look at the premises and assumptions involved in the search, the strategies used, and the profound consequences of making contact.

He also mentioned that, according to the eminent physicist Stephen Hawking, “If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans,” … He argues that, instead of trying to find and communicate with life in the cosmos, humans would be better off doing everything they can to avoid contact.

Scandalous Women

This week we discussed the movie Mildred Pierce,  with Joan Crawford, 1945.  Here is some of the editing that was done:

Mildredmildred pierceApparently the book would not have passed The Code.  So, in addition to the language being cleaned up, the panoply of screen writers (including the uncredited William Faulkner and Catherine Turney), changed the plot to a murder mystery, simplified characters to make them either bad or good, and killed off one of the “bad guys”.  It was a box office hit, and won many Oscars.  You can get it from the library or Netflix.

CSA

This is what I picked up at the CSA today: Beets, Carrots, Collard Greens (which I traded for more beets, as I can cook them and freeze them), Hakurei Turnips, Navel Oranges, Salad Mix, Sweet Potatoes, Swiss Chard.  Lots of veggies to finish before the weekend, when I leave to visit my brother during spring break.

Reading

You don’t have to see a picture of James Beard to know what he looks like, just read the descriptions of his breads in Beard on Bread, [They] should be eaten fresh, with plenty of good sweet butter.

Home

January 13, 2015

Freeze

I returned home from my Christmas trip1 to a note from my housesitter.  I had left out sheets for her to cover my tomatoes if we got a freeze.  She apologized as it didn’t help with the temps down to 25°.  I should have put Xmas lights on them.  I cut off the two dozen green tomatoes and am trying to ripen them indoors.  The freeze continued for the next four days and the foothills got snow.

We’ve had a few good rains since then and my carrots, peas, and spinach are doing fine.  Plus I have way too much arugula and mizuna.  My next-door neighbor says they’re too bitter for him, but I have three friends who welcome bags full.

Ants

My housesitter also mentioned that she had vacuumed up the million ants around the house2, as the poison that I had ordered on the internet hadn’t come in yet, saying that I could get the next million.  But I found few ants alive.  They lay in tiny piles in the corner of rooms, and wafted up along the baseboards.  I think the freeze got them.  There were a couple left in the kitchen, and dozens around the guest bathroom tub, which has a large window over it facing south, so the room is warm.  And hundreds left scurrying about the edge of the outdoor spa.  The poison had come, so I put it in the plastic traps in the kitchen, bath, and two along the spa.  Wow!  Worked great.  ‘Cept now I have dozens of tiny dead ants in and around the tub each day, a couple around other house corners, and maybe only two hundred left by the spa.  Almost success!

Gas

The price of gas has been less than $2/ gallon since my return!

January

Went to the downtown library last week, just as they were closing at 1:20 because they had no heat!  Got home and realized that the book that I had ordered and picked up (The Round House) I’d already read, and the DVD (Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close) I had already seen.  Well, at least I remember that I’ve already read and seen them (both good).  Other movies requested are in the range of 67 of 98 holds on 13 copies or 300 of 374 holds on 50 copies!  So I finished the last of my New Yorker magazines from the 2011 subscription and went through and tossed out many old Architectural Digests and Sierra Club and Desert Museum magazines.  Went back to the library and got Steven King’s Revival, which I read  in two days – not one of his best, but had picked it up from the library’s Recommendation shelf.  Now have his Salem’s Lot, which is much better.  Thought his Under the Dome, which I had read a couple of years ago, and 11/22/63 (about an English teacher trying to go back in time to prevent JFK’s assassination), which I read last year, were pretty good.

Back to school next week and still don’t have my schedule.  Will no doubt be impossible to schedule my physical therapy at the last minute.

Am having all of my doctor’s appointments in the two weeks before school.  A week ago the dermatologist burned off three “pre-cancers” and my face still has huge red blotches.  Blond people should never live in the desert.

My real estate guy had another Open House on Sunday.  A dozen couples plus a few curious neighbors. But unfortunately no offers.  Since I had to be out of the house, friend R and I saw The Imitation Game.  Had studied the Turing Machine, one of the first computers, in computer science, but knew nothing of Turing.  What a great movie!  Benedict Cumberbatch (who you may know as TV’s Sherlock) did a great job as Alan Turing.  By cracking the German enigma code, it is supposed that he code shortened the war by two to four years and saved an estimated 14 to 21 million lives, but afterwards (spoiler alert) he gets arrested for being homosexual and undergoes chemical castration!  In 1954 he committed suicide at age 41.  How horrible these laws were.

Before the holidays had seen The Theory of Everything with friend N, the story of Stephen Hawking, with Eddie Redmayne playing Hawking, before and after he gets Lou Gehrig’s disease.  He won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama for it, and Hawking himself approved, but one review called it mawkish.  You decide.

1https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2015/01/04/baby-its-cold-outside/
2https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2014/12/19/rain-3/