Archive for the ‘Weather’ Category

A Rainy Sunday

January 28, 2018

Every Sunday I get the one copy that the local Walmart has of the New York Times, make myself a latte, and try to read the whole thing, as it’s gotten quite expensive (although I am saving four dollars a day by making my own lattes) and I’m trying to get my money’s worth.  I even read the Sports and the Business sections.

In this week’s Business section was a  interview with Bill Gates and Steven Pinker (mind-meld-bill-gates-steven-pinker).  As I often do, I get distracted, and when Gates said that, “If you’ve never seen Eddie [Izzard] perform his stand-up routine… you’re missing out,”  I had to watch a few videos of Eddie Izzard.  Enjoyed Stonehenge, but was really Laughing Out Loud at Eddie Izzard – Learning French.

Gentrification

Then went out for my Sunday lunch of bagels and lox, taking the Magazine.  It started pouring before I left,  so had to stay and read another article, this on gentrification, when-gentrification-isnt-about-housing.  In Tucson I was aware of the gentrification of the barrios, guacamole, and burritos, even kale and pho, but had just heard of the trending raw water  (unfiltered, collected from the natural environment).

Exercise

I’ve been missing my daily hour of exercise class at the Y.  This hotel has a workout room next to the laundry, so I do some fast walking uphill, lift weights (the smallest is five pounds and I hadn’t done that with my right arm since my last shoulder injury, but I’ve just got a very sore neck), and use the elliptical trainer, good for the arms and legs.  However, it’s boring by myself, so I asked a friend at work what she does and she says that she swims lap around the Spring Garden pond on weekends at the De Leon Springs State Park.

The outstanding feature of the 625 acre park is the spring, overlooking beautiful Spring Garden Run, producing 19 million gallons of water a day at 72 degrees year-round…  swimming nine laps around the pool would be about a mile.

She says there’s a fence around it, so there aren’t any alligators (!), and it’s a bit chilly, so she always wears  a wetsuit.  Brrr – I prefer an 80° pool, or the Caribbean. 

Surf Expo

Because I have a kitchenette in my hotel room, I usualy fix my own dinner, as restaurant meals are usually too large for me.  But Friday nights I often go out,  and if there’s a wait for seating, I eat at the bar.  The Bonefish Grill bar area has a length of bar-height tables, and there was one seat vacant at the end so I asked the good-looking young guy on the next stool over if anyone was sitting there and he answered, Yes, you.  (!)  Started to chat and he said he was here for the Surf Expo, www.surfexpo.com, selling T-shirts.  Then the old guy (my age) across from me piped up that he was here for the Expo selling T-shirts too.  Funny.  I got an earful about merchandising and how much Amazon has cut into it.

Politics

I really don’t want to comment on Trump today, and no, I am not going to read Fire and Fury, but I enjoyed Trevor Noah being interviewed by Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show, turning Trump’s words into a bad reggae song (and I do appreciate reggae, having lived in Jamaica for two years in the Bob Marley era): Trevor Noah’s reggae.

Future Disasters

Had a meeting with our Fluor rep the other day.  This is what I was recruited for last June, before all of the hurricanes hit and the Feds postponed the decision.  The country has henceforth been divided in thirds, so one contractor gets the West, with fires, floods, and mudslides; another gets the Midwest with tornadoes and ice storms; and third, we get the East, with hurricanes.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has awarded three companies positions on a potential five-year, $610 million contract for advisory and assistance services to support FEMA’s emergency response and disaster recovery missions.
Fluor Corp., Serco Group’s North American subsidiary and CH2M Hill will perform technical assistance and infrastructure support work the agency has divided into three geographic zones for each individual awardee.
Fluor was selected for the Zone 1 portion that covers 19 states primarily along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. Serco Inc. was chosen for Zone 2 that covers 17 states primarily across the Midwest. CH2M Hill was picked for Zone 3 that covers the remaining 14 states including those along the Pacific Coast.
fema-response-contract

SeaWorld

January 16, 2018

With a title like that, guess I ought to see it, but I’m just living across the street.  We had the day off for MLK Day, so I went to Disney Springs this afternoon; it’s a large shopping mall with numerous themed stores – T-shirts or hoodies or pajamas with Mickey or Minnie, with Star Wars characters, with Marvel superheros, with various princeses. And numerous themed restaurants,  most serving french fries (except for the Japanese one).  Went to the Raglan Road Irish Pub for dinner; had a bad cold for the past two days (not the flu that’s killing babies and those over 65 – I’ve had my flu shot) and, as moving got me coughing, had spent a day and a half in bed with a box of tissue, cough drops, and a NY Times, so figured some comfort food would be nice – shepherd’s pie.  And stout, reminiscent of my month working in Dublin, where we drank Guiness every evening.  The Irish singers and dancers were fun.  (Their photo. I didn’t take any.)

But the cold is biting.  Thursday it hit 82° here.  Then another cold front rolled in and yesterday morning it was 39°.

Moved to a Residence Inn closer to the new office.  That hour in stop-and-go traffic on I-4 was wearing; to think that my father did it each way every day for 30 years in Detroit.  Spent Saturday packing, doing laundry, driving, then unpacking and grocery shopping.  The room is similar but I have a large window next to the bed that looks out, from the third floor, to a scraped lot, which shall no doubt be another high-rise in a few years. Within a few miles of my digs are at least 62 other hotel and apartment buildings which all look about the same.   I looked for places to eat and stopped counting at 110.  (See red dots on map.)  Grocery stores near here?  Zero.

Alt Right

There was an article in last week’s Times about how many white supremacist men marry Asian women (alt-right-asian-fetish).  Kinda typecasting.  Then I thought of Doonesbury.  Not alt-right, but geek.  Guess times have changed.

Fire and Fury

At least one friend is reading Fire and Fury, but it was depressing enough to just to listen to Michael Wolff’s interviews on NPR, and with Stephen Colbert, as well as commentary by “Melania Trump” on the Late Show.  (Well, Laura Benanti’s not depressing, she’s hilarious: Melania.)

Korea

Despite the false alarm in Hawaii (and another in Japan two days later!), Kim Jong-un won’t be pushing the “nuclear button” anytime soon, as North Korea shall be joining South Korea in the Winter Olympics.   Who would have thought that Trump could bring those two countries together?

The Move

January 9, 2018

I had mentioned, in fema-flexible, that we move a bit.  Well, our office left our verdant setting, where the lease was almost up, to a building south of the downtown area, which I have been told is a hangout for ladies of the evening and purveyors of pharmaceuticals.  Not a place to be at night.  I counted the pawn shops on the road we take from the freeway to the office – five.  Then there are two buildings which advertise “dolls”,  but from the look of them, there are no cabbage patch dolls there.  Another flashes girls, girls, girls.  These, and a McDonald’s.

Yesterday it took me an hour on I-40, in stop-and-go traffic, averaging 20 mph, to get back to my Residence Inn.  I’m moving to a closer one at the end of the week.  We weren’t supposed to move to the new office until next week.

Here is a view from my new, narrower window.  Not as picturesque as the pond.

This is what I shall be missing: from my office window last week I observed, not only the morning fog, but an egret sitting on a duck decoy, daily.  We’re not sure why the decoy is tethered in the pond – maybe to indicate a pipe?  Then a squirrel scampered past on the outside window sill.  Too fast for me to grab my phone for a photo.  We’re on the third floor!  One of the guys said that squirrels can climb up a brick wall.  Why?  Just to check us out, I guess. Two cranes (much larger than egrets) below the window, one making a very raucous cry!  At lunchtime, a cluster of six egrets took a long time to stroll across the road.

Away from the office a hawk darted ahead of me at an office building where I was having a meeting.  Vultures hung in the air above the Residence Inn.  A racoon scurried across the street in front of me last night.

But no frozen iguanas!  They’re farther south.

The cold is causing frozen iguanas to fall from trees in Florida

Because of the cold temperatures sweeping the nation, iguanas are dropping out of trees like overripe mangoes, littering the ground in an apparent state of rigor mortis. One tiny detail, though: They’re probably not dead. They are, however, literally frozen.
Emily Maple, the reptile keeper at the Palm Beach County Zoo, [said that] the cold-blooded animals get “cold stunned” – that is, they basically freeze – if the temperature gets below 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
“If it’s just for a day or two they’ll just get to where they’re completely frozen in time. They’re still able to breathe. They’re still able to do bodily functions just very slow,” said Maple.

by AJ Willingham, CNN, Fri January 5, 2018

Iguanas!  I didn’t even know Florida had them.  Last time I had seen them was in the Galapagos, piled six high.  (This photo © Eric Mohl of Trans-Americas Journey – he sent me a nice email to use his photo.)  So I looked that up.  According to Wikipedia:

Due to a combination of events, the green iguana is considered an invasive species in South Florida and is found along the Gulf Coast of Florida from Key West to Pinellas County. The original small populations in the Florida Keys were stowaways on ships carrying fruit from South America.

Where I shall be leaving there are seven suite hotels on the block (most of them owned by Marriott I think, as they have been buying up the competition), and on the next street, a mall with seven restaurants.  Across  the main drag are sixteen more restaurants, spread over a few miles, from chains (such as Chuck E. Cheese, Denny’s, and Chili’s) to sushi, my favorite, Turkish, and a very good Italian.  Wonder what the next location will be like.

 

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.

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

August in San Diego continued

August 30, 2017

Los Angeles

A continuation of art at the Broad Museum:

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

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

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

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

I liked Forward Retreat by Mark Tansey.

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

Robert Therrien‘s Under the Table:

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

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


John Ahearn‘s Raymond and Toby.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Back to Tucson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weeds

March 18, 2017

My grandson was helping me pull weeds.  But Grandma, these have yellow flowers.  Why do we have to pull them?  The line between weeds and wildflowers is a wavy one, or maybe a dashed one.  Had to kill all of the weeds at my last house, then move into another rental house, 4.7 miles away, only to get a note from the HOA that we have to have all of our weeds pulled by April 1.  No fooling.


But speaking of wildflowers – while the east coast is covered in snow there is a spectacular wildflower display here in the desert wherever the housing developments haven’t scraped the ground and replaced the natural desert with a few trees, cacti, bushes trimmed into tight balls, and lots of gravel.  This photo from the Web of the flowers at Picacho Peak, where my daughter and family are camping for the weekend with the Boy Scouts, there to see the wildflowers and the reenactment of the Civil War battle at Picacho Peak.  (http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/picachopeak.html)  Unfortunately, the hot weather (it’s 92° right now, at 5pm) has also brought out the rattlesnakes, so she texted me that they’re leaving after the roasting of the marshmallows tonight.

Backstory

My life has gotten just a tad busier the beginning of February.

Did dislike the last rental.  January’s gas bill was $148!!!  The insulation was terrible, and, in the winter, it was cold downstairs, with drafts, and hot upstairs.  But good news – hah!  So many things had gone wrong with it (such as the heat going out four times in one year!) that they decided to sell.

My lease was up end of January,  then was on month-to-month, but four families had looked at it in the first week, so I figured I better find another rental as my son-in-law won’t finish his training (to be a hospital CFO) for another year, and when the hospital chain assigns him to a hospital somewhere, if it’s a nifty place, I may move there too, to be near the grandkids.  Another move!  Much harder than finding a place to buy, as rental agents “own” their own properties.  Thank goodness for the internet!

Online, looked at 50 (!) houses near here (which means near my daughter and my grandkids), and chose five.  One zapped me for having a cat, so I looked at four.  Found a smaller, less expensive rental (but with a view of the desert and mountains) west of the last house.  The people were moving out the middle of February, so I started packing, yet again.

Here’s a photo from my bedroom window, after I got all of the windows cleaned.  (Not as good as the professional photo above, but it is 5pm, with its long shadows.)


Was chest high in boxes on that first weekend and I was sore to the bone, double-popping ibuprofen.  In order to get my security deposit back, had to have the empty house clean, including the tops of the fans (ten feet up in the living room), the outdoor lights, garage, you name it.  And no weeds.  (This all in the lease that I had signed.)  Of course, we had had our winter rain, and then the temperatures soared into the 80’s.  Never saw so many weeds.  Too many too small to pull, even with my grandson’s small hands, so I had to resort to the dreaded poison.  (Sorry Mitch!  It was that v. $2200.)  My daughter, having never read Silent Spring, had a poison sprayer canister, which I borrowed.

Final inspection.  A woman came to spend an hour taking photos of everything with cabinets open, lights on. Then she gave the set to the rental agent (the fourth one I’ve had, and never met) and he would decide how much of the security deposit to return in two+ weeks (per contract).  The photographer called me the next day and said that they had just put a check in the mail for the entire security deposit.  Guess I overdid it!

Speaking of rental agents- I mentioned to my present one that the garbage disposal was backing up and she said she’d get back to me. Four days later and no return call to my message left, so I tried it when the dishwasher had filled up the sink, and it magically fixed itself. What a way to get things done…  (There’s an apocryphal story that Napoleon opened his mail about once a month. Why? Because if it was still important after a month, he attended to it; if not, one of his minions had dealt with it, or it was just junk mail.)

Too Much to Protest, Too Little Time

As I was packing, moving, unpacking, etc I was feeling very guilty about not having enough time to protest!  Sure, I had emailed my senators regarding Trump’s appointments, especially of Scott Pruitt and Betsy DeVos.  (See my blog from January: https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2017/01/26/trumps-appointees/)  As if Flake and McCain care about my opinion.  But my rep is Tom O’Halleran, and he’s a Democrat, so no prob.  Next was the protest against Monsanto, which is building a huge greenhouse near here.  https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2017/01/13/monsanto/

Then I sent off an email to my governor because he…

 …defended state laws that let parents use public funds to send children to private and parochial schools.  But he sidestepped questions of whether he would sign legislation to open up that possibility to all 1.1 million public school students statewide.
http://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2017/01/27/ducey-depends-using-public-funds-for-private-schools/

Unfortunately,

Republican lawmakers in the Arizona Legislature are attempting to fast-track a plan to eventually offer vouchers to every public-school student and, in separate legislation, privatize oversight of the public money given to parents to pay private-school tuition and other expenses.

The Legislature is training its sights on the plan to broaden eligibility for Empowerment Scholarship Accounts, a school-choice program created six years ago for disabled children. Under the legislation, all of Arizona’s 1.1 million students would be eligible for the program by 2020.

Sen. Debbie Lesko, of Peoria, and Rep. John Allen, of Scottsdale, have introduced identical bills to expand the program in their chambers, a move intended to expedite passage. ESAs allow families to use public-school dollars on private-school tuition and other educational expenses.

http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/arizona-education/2017/02/08/republicans-fast-track-school-voucher-bill-arizona-legislature/97572798/

As I had pointed out to my governor, private schools, including Catholic or Christian, are segregated – either by economic inequality (with shades of race discrimination) or by religion.  As Wikipedia points out,

Separation of church and state is a phrase used by Thomas Jefferson and others expressing an understanding of the intent and function of the Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause of First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States which reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

Consequently, I believe that it is in our constitution that our taxes should not be used to fund private and parochial schools, and that includes the school tax credit, which comes out of our taxes.  But Arizona is a red state, so it’ll no doubt pass.

Zero to 1.34 Million

You must read Nicholas Kristof’s column from Sunday’s New York Times from a month ago, regarding Trump’s original travel ban:
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/11/opinion/sunday/husbands-are-deadlier-than-terrorists.html

People’s Climate Movement April 29th

This was in my Sierra Club magazine:

Michael Brune on the People’s Climate Mobilization, Feb 24 2017

Two years ago, the first People’s Climate March took place on a crisp, blue-sky September day in Manhattan. An estimated 400,000 people, representing the full display of American diversity, were united in the same righteous purpose: to demand that our leaders act fast to address the climate crisis.

The day was filled with promise, and in the following years our enthusiasm was reciprocated with progress. The Paris Agreement. The Clean Power Plan. The rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline. We could say that, powered by a movement of millions, the United States was truly leading on climate.

Now the political landscape is different. Donald Trump’s election will upend U.S. climate policy. I doubt that many citizens voted for Trump because they were enthusiastic about his views on climate change, but that’s beside the point.

The Trump-Pence administration has no mandate to roll back environmental progress. Polling before the election showed that seven in 10 Americans agreed the government should do something about global warming. Polling after the election showed that 86 percent of voters—including three out of four of those who voted for Trump—support “action to accelerate the development and use of clean energy.”

… we can’t afford to underestimate the Trump administration. Unchecked, Donald Trump and Mike Pence are a threat to our climate and the civil rights and liberties guaranteed by our Constitution. This is a dangerous moment in U.S. history.

…If the Trump-Pence administration attempts to roll back the progress we’ve made in the past 50 years, we do not have to stand for it. Instead, we will stand up against it. We will march, organize, and keep marching—and we will not give up.

The Tucson march:


https://www.evensi.us/tucson-peoples-climate-march-el-presidio-plaza-park/202310124

LOL

February 10, 2017

dogWhen I think something’s funny, I don’t say LOL, I actually laugh out loud!  Here are a commercial (especially the horse watching porn and this family scene)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Kj-4F8pWfk
and an article from the New Yorker that had me laughing (especially the bathing suit):  Shouts & Murmurs, New Yorker February 6, 2017 Issue
Melania’s Diary 1/21/2017, by Paul Rudnick

…Then [Kellyanne] brought up the Tiffany gift box that I’d given Michelle Obama on Inauguration Day. “What was in that box?” Kellyanne demanded. I smiled in my alluringly mysterious way, which makes people wonder if I have wads of cash duct-taped to my body at all times, in case I need to flee the country.
“It was just a gracious parting gift,” I said. I will never reveal the box’s true contents, except in the pages of this secret diary: it was a framed photo of me modelling swimwear in a JCPenney catalogue, on which I’d written my cell-phone number and the words “Please come to visit. And never leave.”  http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/02/06/melanias-diary-1-21-2017

Just a Grimace

Yesterday it was 86° here in Tucson.  Today 87°,  20° above normal.  Must be the overheated political climate.

trump-vacationTrump’s Mar-a-Lago getaway could cost taxpayers more than $3 million
The president regularly hassled Obama for his travel. Now Trump is about to get a taste of his own medicine.
by Matthew Nussbaum 02/03/17

Trump’s multimillion-dollar trip, which comes just two weeks into his presidency, shows that Trump is not shy about engaging in the same type of jet-setting that he and other Republicans heavily criticized Obama for throughout his presidency…
“The habitual vacationer, @BarackObama, is now in Hawaii. This vacation is costing taxpayers $4 milion +++ while there is 20% unemployment,” Trump wrote on Twitter in December 2011 (when the unemployment rate was actually 8.5 percent).
“President @BarackObama’s vacation is costing taxpayers millions of dollars——Unbelievable!” Trump opined again on Twitter a few days later.
http://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/trump-mar-lago-taxpayers-234562

hidden_figuresFriends and I went to see a movie, Hidden Figures, the true story of the women who crunched the numbers for NASA. It was great!

Much better than La La Land, which we saw last weekend, and which has 14 Academy Award nominations.  A friend commented:  “…Why not get actors who can sing and dance?  It’s not like there aren’t plenty of them in LA…”  But hey, they have to keep the “Oscars so white”.

tom-bradyThis on Sunday, instead of watching the Super Bowl.  There were the controversies of Tom Brady having a Trump Make America Great Again baseball cap in his locker, and spending his four-month suspension sunbathing nude in Italy, but he was back, and the New England Patriots won, so who cares?  (Or as the Washington Post said, Tom Brady won this Super Bowl…)