Archive for the ‘Weather’ Category

LOL

June 19, 2019

Laugh and the world laughs with you.

 

 

For too long, U.S. foreign policy has shamefully ignored our allies under the sea — extremely buff aquatic mammals like King Triton, ghosts who live in haunted shipwrecks, squid. But no more. President Trump, it seems, has finally opened diplomatic talks with the ocean’s Biggest Boys: whales…

Trump did not elaborate on whether his meeting with the royal cetacean took place above or below water, or what they discussed. Perhaps the effects of global warming, or the relative wetness of the ocean. Maybe the prince apologized on behalf of the overly friendly Russian-spy beluga who eagerly gave herself up to Norwegian fisherman earlier this year. Or maybe he finally told the Trumps what he is thinking.  https://www.thecut.com/2019/06/trump-prince-of-whales-tweet.html

Hot, hot, hotter

I started this blog two weeks ago, Wednesday, June 5, 2019.  This was the Tucson weather forecast:

Then there’s this week.  (The tennis team I’m on played the last game of the season at 7pm Friday, when the temps dipped below 100°.)

Seen the past two weeks

A coyote strolling along the pedestrian path at dusk.  A number of bicyclists in the early morning, zipping along in packs.  My palo verde is still blooming.

A couple of centipedes in my compost pile, along with a bunch of tiny ones.  (See centipede-v-millipede for identification.)  To have more compost to dig into my vegetable garden as the carrots and spinach are finished, and the lettuce is bolting, I was sifting it, putting the red worms and undigested twigs back into the bin – and think that in addition to the centipedes there were about 753 worms of various sizes, three times that many earwigs (see left), and a handful of pill bugs.

Many birds around.  This is the best I could do to identify the bird at the tiny pink flowers on the purple heart plant.  That patch of orange on its wing, and the yellow on its head distinguishes a verdin.  But they weren’t after any sparse nectar.

They forage almost continuously… by gleaning live foliage and flowers for spiders and small insects.  birdsna.org

A hummingbird, which has at least four feeders in my neighbor’s yard to frequent, sampled the tiny lavender flowers.

A couple of pyrrhuloxias, perhaps making a nest in the desert willow outside my kitchen window.  A quail on duty each morning, on the fence, watching for predators, and gabbling to his harem below – no little ‘uns yet.  A few white-wing doves at the bird bath, or on the fence above, and two small ones, not very good fliers, walking around the yard below, checking me out.  Their parents left them out on their own, without a Watch out for humans.

A Cooper’s hawk stood in the birdbath for a while.  My brother (the hawk expert – see: cazadero) said that birds don’t perspire but in the heat will pant or cool the bare skin of their feet in water.  My camera’s battery was dead, so I just watched it for a while.  There’s a good photo of one from two years ago at the bottom of this blog: 2017

The agave and yucca flowers are progressing.  Saw one bird (Gila woodpecker?) at the barrel fruit and a smaller bird (house sparrow?) picking the seeds, or the bugs on them,  from the brittle bush behind it.  Didn’t have time to get the camera.

Many lizards in the yard, and the cat yowls at them because she can’t go out.  The one on the left was doing his territorial pushups.

Working Out

I’m sticking with the evening tennis; there’s no longer a Sunday 10am clinic, which is now way too hot and 7am is too early for me to start.  But I’ve decided that instead of the exercise classes at the Y that I had cut back to two days a week, I need to condition for my upcoming Road Scholar trip to the Galapagos with my 13-year-old granddaughter.  In addition to seeing the various animals, we’ll be kayaking, bicycle riding on a beach, snorkeling, and hiking a volcano.  For my fellow travelers I’m picturing 15-year-old boys and their 60-year old grandpas who can hike Kilimanjaro.  Anyway, I’m now rowing, riding a stationary bicycle, and doing the elliptical, 20 min each, all in A/C, of course.

However, I do hurt a lot of the time.  I can’t keep up: A mother-of-five with stage IV lung cancer and her daughter hiked up to the summit of the highest mountain in the Americas…  cancer-mother  And one of the women in one of the tennis clinics suggested that we train for the Tour de Tucson (which you can read about here: 2012/11/16).  She’d just done a 2-week bike ride (but she is “only” 67).

Books

I’ve been reading a lot these past two months, as I nurse my sore muscles.

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Singaporean author Balli Kaur Jaswal.  This was pretty funny.  (Can a murder mystery be funny?)  Interesting detail about the Sikh community in London.  I don’t know much about Sikhs, except for Kip, the Sikh British Army sapper (photo on left), in the movie The English Patient; whole Sikh families on motorcycles in Malaysia, when I worked there; and one of the supervisors on the US Embassy project I worked on in Jamaica (who mandated hardhats for everyone on the job, except for himself as he had to wear his turban).  Would recommend the book.

Rosewater, the start of an award-winning, cutting edge trilogy set in Nigeria, which received an Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Science Fiction Novel, by Tade Thompson, a British-born Yoruba psychiatrist who grew up in Nigeria.  Reading scifi by black authors, and this is the best so far; highly recommend it.

Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller, a Nebula-Award-winning author.  One of many climate change, dystopian novels, with colorful characters. (I’m reminded of the skateboarder in Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash.) And the Breaks is a fascinating disease.  The eight-armed artificial ocean city of Qaanaaq is run by artificial intelligences, the million refugees segregated rich/poor kinda like in the movie Snowpiercer, but that was a train, and this is much better. (Is that the one with Tilda Swinton’s horrible teeth?)  Anyway, it’s rather captivating, and the native american woman’s polar bear and orca add interest.  If you can stand the violence (did you finish The Godfather?), then read this.

Severance by Ling Ma.  More apocalypse.  According to the New Yorker (review), it Captures the Bleak, Fatalistic Mood of 2018 – A début novel’s of-the-moment consideration of capitalism, immigration, and zombies.  (I don’t like zombies as well as vampires, but these are done well.)

Herland Charlotte Perkins Gilman.  A utopian, versus distopian novel.  Found it on some scifi list, and hadn’t heard of it, and I’m interested in scifi by women, so thought I’d try it.  Well, it’s from 1915 and is so outdated.  The plot has three men stumble upon an unknown country full of only women (who miraculously have virgin births – parthenogenesis – to only girls).  The author was a feminist and has all of the women and girls getting along peachy keen.  No Margaret Thatcher, bombing the Falklands, just to show that the Brits were still powerful. (Yes, this photo comes up when you google the Falklands.)

Good Omens The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett.  I’d recommend it if you want funny escapism; many of the jokes are groaners.  After reading it I watched Amazon Prime’s three-part series, which premiered on May 31, and I don’t know if you’d get it if you hadn’t read the book.  But did like Michael Sheen as the fussy, anxious angel Aziraphale, and especially David Tennant’s Crowley (who started off offering Eve an apple, hence his name), the shades-wearing, Freddie Mercury-worshipping, ultra-cool demon, as The Wrap put it.  His swagger was great. Had read Gaiman’s American Gods, which was cute, but loved his Neverwhere.  (Had gotten Prime free for a month to watch it but had to pay for each episode!  The quality if the videos was bad so only watched two episodes.)  Had read Terry Pratchett’s The Colour of Magic comic fantasy novel and first book of the Discworld (a flat planet balanced on the backs of four elephants which in turn stand on the back of a giant turtle) series – but too silly for me.

The Beggar Maid, Stories of Flo and Rose by Alice Munro. She may have won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2013, but I disliked the book, a series of short stories first published 1977.  They just seem antiquated (I don’t like books by the Brontes either) – guess that comes from reading so much scifi.

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  Second time around, thought I must read this book, and tried my darnedest, but still couldn’t get through it, which Barnes and Nobel says is for Age Range: 14 – 18 Years!

The Heavens by Sandra Newman.  Kinda interesting time travel (but I preferred the Outlander series).

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris.  Trending – #1 International Bestseller & New York Times Bestseller.  Have read many books and seen many movies about the Holocaust, and this is historical fiction, but its not my favorite (which is The Wall by John Hersey, about the Warsaw Ghetto, based on real life recording of events) – it seems to gloss over so much.  I know the author interviewed the main character before he died in 2006, at the age of 90, and he had no doubt forgotten a lot, but I love books crammed with details. Of course, Hersey’s book is 640 pages, where Morris’ is 288, and most people today have shorter attention spans (except for Shades of Grey).  But hey, Buzzfeed posted 46 Brilliant Short Novels You Can Read In A Day, which doesn’t even include Jonathan Livingston Seagull or Life of Pi, and I’ve read most of them.

$$$

Bought a bottle of vanilla at the grocery store – cost more than the bottle of wine!

I have lots more that I’d like to blog about, but this has taken two weeks and is already outdated.  Hasta…

My Favorite Things

March 13, 2019

I started this blog two weeks ago.  Thought I just ought to post it, even if incomplete.  I didn’t even mention art or books or travel or bugs or gardening or bobcats and javelinas…

A cousin (one of my favorites) emailed me after my last (downer) post: And yet, we must find the delights in life or ….  So here are a few of my favorite things:

Humor.  As in the book, Tonight with John Oliver Presents A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo:

A children’s picture book released by comedian John Oliver about a gay bunny has hit the top spot on Amazon, outselling a vanilla version featuring US vice-president’s Mike Pence’s pet rabbit.

The satirical doppelganger… was strategically released by the British late-night TV host a day before Marlon Bundo’s A Day in the Life of the Vice President, which was written by Pence’s daughter Charlotte and illustrated by his wife, Karen.

Within two days of its release, Oliver’s Marlon Bundo had sold 180,000 copies on Amazon and become the bestselling book on the site, outstripping the Pence version which at the time of writing languished in fourth place.

The Pence book tells the tale of Marlon Bundo trailing his master for a day, but Oliver’s version, written by comedian and staff writer Jill Twiss, is about “a lonely bunny who lives with his grampa, the vice-president of the United States” who one day “falls in love with another boy bunny”.  gay-rabbit

Also, this is a great video of John Oliver being interviewed about Marlon Bundo on Late Night with Seth Meyers: John Oliver on Late Night.

Snow.  (Photos from my family room two Fridays ago.  The yard snow was gone by mid-day, but it took a few days for the north side of the Catalinas to melt.)  I liked sledding and ice-skating when I was a kid in Michigan.  In fact, my parents would flood our back yard for a “rink” and we pretended to play hockey with the kids on the block.  One night, when I was at Michigan State, Lansing had three feet of snow overnight.  MSU had to close, even though it had 21 snow plows.  What fun!  Also took figure skating while at MSU.  (When my daughter was in elementary school I drove her to Phoenix for a class when she wanted to give figure skating a whirl.  The first lesson was how to fall – she refused.  Said she’d never fall, and she didn’t.  Don’t think she ever fell skiing either.)

We would go up to Mt Lemmon every February, because there would always be snow.  (Photo of my daughter with a snowman.)  So we decided built a cabin in Summerhaven after our son was born.  I taught the kids to ski there, although I was dreadful myself, having had only a few lessons from a boyfriend on what was a very low “mountain” outside Detroit.

Relatives and Friends.  I adore my brother, despite the fact that he was always beating me.  I was awarded a $300 bond for winning the poster contest – I have no color photo of it; he got actual cash for $300 his National Art Scholastic win.  I once beat him at tennis, but then needed surgery on my elbow, after catching one of his serves backhand.  I did pretty well in architecture by end of my career, but at that point my brother was making four times what I did directing commercials! This is one of his best (make sure you have your sound on): Honda Eraser

I could go on and on about my two kids, three grandkids, favorite cousins, and old and new friends, but will have to do that at another time.  However, must put in a photo of my son, in his lab about 15 years ago, to give him equal time with his sister (above):

Tennis.  I’ve always loved tennis.  I grew up in Detroit and bicycled to a city park in the summer when in junior high to take free lessons (at least that was my recollection from the late 50’s) and earned a spot on my high school team.  During the summer played on the Detroit team, and my couch, a student at Michigan State, said I could make the MSU team.  Problem was, I needed to work through college, so had no time for sports.  But after I settled in Tucson, I played at the Racquet Club for many years with friends; my son did All-Sports Camp there during the summer, and my daughter did the tennis program after-school every day when she was in high school. When I was working one my architecture degree I played on the Racquet Club team. (As competition was in the morning, I couldn’t do it when I was working.)  But when I was working in South Carolina, played on my company’s team – we practiced after work and competed on the weekends.  That ended when I returned to Arizona.  Hadn’t played in ten years until my daughter suggested we start back up, so I’m taking one to two clinics a week to try to recreate my game. I’m sore most of the time but love it. Was 30 degrees when I left home two Sundays ago to play, but got warm enough in our sun to shed the warm-up suit.

Chocolate.  It’s supposed to make you feel like you’re in love.

Phenylethylamine is sometimes called “the love drug”, because it arouses feelings similar to those that occur when one is in love. Another neurotransmitter, serotonin, is a mood-lifter, as well. One chemical that causes the release of serotonin into the brain is tryptophan, found in (wait for it!) chocolate.

I try to eat chocolate every day – it’s easy to make pots de creme au chocolate, which are marvelous with whipped cream.  Sliced pear goes nicely with dark chocolate for dessert.  Looking through a Living (Martha Stewart) magazine in the dentist’s office yesterday, saw a recipe for Triple Chocolate Brownie Bars (pictured right) which was not hard to make!  Even talked my mother into making me a Flourless Chocolate Cake one year for my birthday.  Death by chocolate!

Positivity.  As Nicholas Kristof’s column “Why 2018 Was the Best Year in Human History”. progress-poverty-health

Cooking.  I’ve gone through many different episodes, including Julia Child for many years, starting in college (yes, chapter by chapter, which got a bit much in the souffles), and many years of curries after living in Jamaica, which included making my own curry powder.  A few years ago I got away somewhat from my Mediterranean cookbook to The Pleasures of Cooking for One and Radically Simple.  Although, as many people whose cookbooks are falling apart are doing, I’m simply Googling.  Like what to do with mizuna, as I have so much of it and it’s bolting now.

Architecture.  I had been a math and an English teacher, and then a computer programmer which I quite enjoyed (until IBM left town and my spouse-at-the-time didn’t want to move), just as I still enjoy math games.  But then I went into architecture, later in life, and really really loved it.  Bad luck for the youngsters in my class, trying to date simultaneously, with their brains rattled (been there, done that), as I was top of my class.  Designing microchip factories with Fluor wasn’t a lark, but it was so engaging to work in Taiwan and Micronesia (not so much Dublin or São Paulo), and designing US embassies was interesting (Kazakhstan, Haiti, and Jamaica) but the most fun I’ve ever had in life was designing two houses for myself (on the side, while working full time). Above, my first house.  Fifteen years later when I was working on my program to teach 3D CAD (which was also a lot of fun), I did the above house in 3D.  Here is a rendering (not a photograph) of the living room/ dining room:

Diving.  Scuba diving opens up a whole new world, and is very calm.  This trip to Fiji wasn’t my favorite fiji-day-5, but it’s the only one I blogged.  The best was Palau, on a live-aboard, with friends, diving with my son.  If I had a dive partner, I’d go again to some exotic locale, but haven’t had one in a number of years.

When the dog bites,
When the bee stings,
When I’m feelin’ sad,
I simply remember my favorite things,
And then I don’t feel so bad…

Winter

January 31, 2019

A devastating cold front, complete with extreme low temperatures, wind and precipitation, is hitting much of the United States this week. The phenomenon, known popularly as a “polar vortex,” will move across the Midwest and Northeast, keeping temperatures in many places well below freezing for an extended period of time. (Photo: DieterMeyrl / Getty Images)  arctic-blast

Guess that’s why Arizona is so popular in the winter.  I’ve been going to tennis clinics these past couple of weeks and it’s so warm you don’t even need a jacket.  (Photo not me, just a Racquet Club shot.)

The coldest I’ve ever been in was -20° at Michigan State walking one evening in very dry snow.  (Yes, that was just after the dinosaurs died.)  Hard to wrap my head around temperatures with wind chills of -65°.  I’m sure you’ve all read “To Build a Fire”, the short story by Jack London. I think the guy was told not to go out when it was 60° below.  (?)

Exercise

I go to exercise classes at the local Y five days a week (Senior Aerobics and Piloxing – a non-stop, cardio fusion of standing pilates, boxing and dance) but the Y’s new rule is that classes over 30 need two instructors, which these don’t have.  The 10am MWF Aerobics is so popular that there is a line by 9:30.  Got there then on Monday and the last five of us were overflow and couldn’t get in!  Today there was no sub for our TT Piloxing class, so that was cancelled.  Aargh! Walked fast uphill on the NordicTrack for 15 minutes and did another 10 on the rowing machine, but got bored and left.  Guess if I had music on my cell with an earphone I could have done the 50 minutes, so must be prepared in the future.

The Government Shutdown

Dec. 26 [2018] The Federal Emergency Management Agency issues a “stop work” order to all contractors, telling them they will not be paid.  government-shutdown

Note: I was a contractor, through my company (Fluor), for FEMA.  If I hadn’t quit (end of October) I guess I’d have been home for an extended holiday, not paid.  Sure feel sorry for my compatriots who stayed on.

Impeachment

So if the Prez gets impeached and actually leaves, we’re left with the Veep.  There’s a recent, hostile (read this: NPR review) biography of Mike Pence, The Shadow President: The Truth About Mike Pence, out by Michael D’Antonio and Peter Eisner.  According to them, Pence is a “Christian supremacist” biding his time until he can take over the presidency from Donald Trump.  Sure, Trump is not fit to be President, but do we want to replace him with a Christian Supremacist?

Back on September 5 there was a NY Times op-ed white-house-anonymous: I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration; I work for the president but like-minded colleagues and I have vowed to thwart parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations. Then speculation that Pence could be the author, based on the op-ed’s use of the word “lodestar,” which Pence has used throughout his career. Check out this video from The Late Show: Stephen Cobert

But when it says that docs have been removed from Trump’s desk how do we knows that they weren’t something liberal?  Trump used to be a Democrat.  Maybe he wanted the government to fund Planned Parenthood (hah!) and Pence couldn’t stand that!

Plus, according to the Los Angeles Times’ letters editor (the bold is mine):

God’s presidential plan for Mike Pence
God's presidential plan for Mike Pence

Good morning. I’m Paul Thornton, and it is Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018.  Let’s take a look back at the week in Opinion.  (Photo: Vice President Mike Pence gestures while speaking to the Republican National Lawyers Assn. on Friday. Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press)

Permit me a brief biographical digression. I grew up in the world of evangelical Christianity, having attended schools that promoted things like biblical literalism, doubts about Darwinism, and abstinence-only education, including the lie that condoms contained microscopic pores that allowed transmission of the HIV virus (more on that in a bit). Each week, we attended chapel services that often ended with calls to rededicate ourselves to Jesus Christ, even if we were already professed Christians.

It is this background that helps me understand the behavior of Vice President Mike Pence, the pious man who faithfully serves the famously non-penitent President Trump. Just as the faithful Christians at my school were happy to perpetuate falsehoods about disease-spreading condoms if it served the greater godliness of abstinence before marriage, Pence is willing to abide Trump’s constant lying and personal moral failings if it puts him in the best position to do God’s will by becoming president.  latimes

You must read the whole article, which does quote from the above book.  Scary.  But no, I haven’t read the book.  Can’t even finish the article on Mitch McConnell in last Sunday’s NY Times Magazine (Mcconnell) that a friend says I have to read.  Politics is making me sick to my stomach and am reading mostly scifi for escapism, although said friend did lend me Dead Wake about the sinking of the Lusitania.  It is non-fiction, but a long time ago, and lots of people die (Cousin Hal – I can hear you laughing at my lame jokes), so I can stomach that reality.  Am reading more now that I am not working.  Shall mention the books (a few about memory) in my next blog, if I remember!

Last October

You can kinda tell that I had emails to myself all through the five months when I wasn’t blogging, of what I could write when I got back to it.  Today tossed out all of the FEMA letters to the troops (us) – buck up, next hurricane coming, etc.   But there’s a note from October 19th:

This morning, exiting Orlando for home in Tucson, went better than expected.  First, I had scored on a hotel baggage cart last night.  (They often could not be found at all.)  And gave my leftover food to a compatriot, just a floor above me in the same timeshare building.

I finished packing and got everything in my expandable two bags (one an inexpensive duffel) and a carry-on, not bad for almost a year away from home.  Had never used my bathing suit; had never even gone to the ocean, which I guess I should have done at least once in the year in Florida.  But skin cancer can do that to you.

Pulled up to check out at timeshare main desk and valet said he could do that for me.✔  No traffic to the airport.✔  Person checking out my Avis car got me a valet with cart.✔  ($10 but worth it, as only one bag had wheels.)  Remembered to get a receipt for $40 for second bag to expense.✔  (My AA status gives me the 1st bag free.)  Long line to hand in bags but it went fast.✔  A few minutes to finish my morning coffee (no liquids through security), then a short time through TSA pre-check, well worth the $85 for 5 years, with all of my travels.✔  Full flight, but with AA Priority (gold, not platinum), I got a seat an extra inch wider!✔

Asians

September 9, 2018

Saw Crazy Rich Asians two weeks ago. I also read about the controversy over casting Nick, as Henry Golding is only half Asian. He’s trending now.  Instagram photo of him at Tom Ford’s spring collection, between Anna Wintour and Cardi B. The entire rest of the cast is made up of Asians from all over the globe, including Ronny Chieng who is an annoying senior correspondent on Trevor Noah’s The Daily Show; he plays an equally annoying character in the movie.

Rich Asians reminded me of Ali Wong: Baby Cobra (on Netflix); she’s a bit too profane for me but did crack me up at this description of her husband:

Asian-American men are very underrated. I don’t know why people don’t go for them. They’re the sexiest. Asian men are the sexiest. They got no body hair from the neck down. It’s like making love to a dolphin. Oh, my God. It’s so smooth, just like a slip and slide…  And then Asian men, no body odor. None. They just smell like responsibility. That’s where the umami flavor comes from.

The same idea as Rich Asians (rich boy falls for poor girl and mother isn’t pleased) carries two Netflix series – Meteor Garden (Chinese) and Boys over Flowers (Korean), both with subtitles and both based on the same manga series.  But these are set in high school with an edge to the plot – rich boy with attitude falls for poor girl with attitude.  Frankly, good escapism from work.

SNL

Was reading, in the NY Times, about a new Amazon series with Maya Rudolph; I don’t have Amazon, but it mentioned her SNL impersonization of Donatella Versace, so I had to check them out.  LOL. There are three on this link:  Versace. Then, since the last one had Mick Jagger, had to check out his nine SNL sketches (which you can also do from that link).  He’s also a kick.

Epcot

Labor Day last weekend so spent Sunday at Epcot Center with two guys from work.  Probably shouldn’t have gone to the first weekend of the its International Food & Wine Festival; parking was zooey, but there are trams to take you to the in lines (followed by the check bags line). Nine hours, and more than I usually drink, but also more than I usually eat. 90° and 78% humidity, with a few very short rains.  Then, at the end of the day when I was looking like a drowned rat, they thought we should take pictures.

Hurricanes and Other Disasters

We are watching the weather here – please no hurricane until we’ve completed processing the last one!  This from Brock:

Once again, we find ourselves looking at multiple storms threatening the United States at the height of hurricane season.  Right now, a Tropical Cyclone is bearing down on Guam and will likely make landfall early next week, Hurricane Oliva is tracking towards Hawaii with effects potentially starting as early as Tuesday, Hurricane Florence will begin to intensify again as it heads toward the East Coast, and there are other storms brewing in the Caribbean and off the coast of Africa.  I cannot recall a time when so many intense storms threatened the United States in such a short timeframe.  Added to that, the area of concern spans more than half the globe…

Orlando Art

July 15, 2018

Last weekend went to the Orlando Museum of Art. Behind the front desk were two large-scale charcoals by Robert Longo.  (See tma for another.)  In the courtyard a large Chihuly.  (Scroll down in denver-2014 for many more.)

Then the Florida Prize in Contemporary Art.  The Florida Prize, now in its fifth year, is an invitational exhibition recognizing 10 progressive artists working in the Sunshine State.

Carlos Betancourt’s “Let Them Feel Pink,” a 26-foot-long banquet table topped with a smorgasbord of objects including a giant pelican, all in pepto-bismol pink:

There were many of his photos too.  This huge one, Castro in Triumphant Advance to Havana, piqued my interest.  He was born in Puerto Rico; check him out in Wikipedia.  He was selected as the “People’s Choice” award recipient.

I did a double-take with Gonzalo Fuenmayor’s The Seeds of Decadence andTropicalypse.  They almost looked like black-and-white photos, but were ginormous charcoal works.  The first is a negative of a Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace.  A section of it at right.  I just took these photos with my camera, so resoution isn’t great, but you can click on them to see them larger.  He was born in Colombia, but has resided of the US for over 20 years.

His recurrent opulent and decadent charcoal drawings have grown dramatically in scale and complexity with two monumental multi-panel, charcoal drawings such as “Tropicalypse” and “The Seeds of Decadence”. These massive works portray two seemingly disparate scenarios: While the drawing “Tropicalypse” portrays an imaginary apocalyptic landscape of burning palm trees; a gesture alluding to the palm tree as an archetype of “tropical culture” in America, “The Seeds of Decadence” depicts a lavish and opulent Victorian room with inverted values.  TROPICALYPSE

This by Kenya (Robinson), the recipient of $20,000 (the “Florida Prize”), considers white male supremacy (but no one mentioned the fake grass buddah).  Guess the artist’s race and gender.

The #WHITEMANINMYPOCKET, a project that began in 2013, is a work in which (Robinson) imagined a small, corporate-clad, plastic figure as a talismanic reminder that “white male heteronormative supremacy is an idea not restricted to phenotype, gender or nationality.” In fact, (Robinson) suggests that, “the -ism is insidious because we each believe in it a small amount, creating a dense network to be challenged internally, and as a societal task.”

I have many more photographs, but I  think this is enough for today.

Sink Holes

Sink holes are big in Florida (except for the small ones).  I’ve been watching one slowly grow next to the road I take from my hotel to work.  I first noticed it as a leaning power pole and a chainlink fence, covered with a vine (kudzu – the vine that is trying to take over the South?), sinking into the ground.  The fence has gone from about 10 yards to 40 yards underground so far.

This from the Orlando Sentinel (Monday, July 9, 2018):
Several guests were evacuated after buildings crumbled when a sinkhole formed at the Summer Bay Resort on US Highway 192 in Clermont near Walt Disney World.

This explanation offered by Cloud9 Services:

Types of Sinkholes Found in Florida

… Dissolution is a process where surface rock is soluble to weak acids and becomes dissolved. Suffusion forms cavities below the land …

Dissolution sinkholes of dolomite or limestone are most intense when water first contacts the rock’s surface…

…cover-subsidence sinkholes… develop gradually. Their cover sediments are permeable and also contain sand. Usually they form in areas with thicker brush [and] may go undetected for long periods of time since they are hard to spot. With new construction… they become uncovered.

…collapse sinkholes can develop over a period of hours [and] are devastating; you probably seen photos of them devour a family’s home…  They occur when the covering sediments contain a vast majority of clay. Over time, erosion, ground water flow, and deposition of the sinkhole will cause a surface depression and a cave-in from below.
http://cloud9services.com/sewer-drain-and-septic-services-blog/types-of-sinkholes-found-in-florida/

Post rain

It does rain almost every day now, and afterwards the sidewalk around our office is patrolled by tiny six-lined racerunners, a few dragonflies doing their thing, a few brown aloles on the wall, showing off their orange crests.  Racerunners can grow to 12” so I wondered why these were so small, and then I saw the egret.  Guess she (so graceful I made her female) was picking them off before they had time to grow up.

Phone Booth

Scott Pruitt is gone.  So I asked my boss if we couldn’t request his $48K phone booth.  We have no place here for private conversations.

I was thinking of Superman and his phone booth.   I can understand that he had his diver’s skin/bicycler’s lyrca under his suit, but where was the cape?  And does he leave his shoes and suit (neatly folded) in the booth?  What about his wallet?

Traffic

The lights here in Orlando are three to four times as long as those in Tucson.  It was a culture shock being back in Tucson –  I was stopped at a light and had no time to drink coffee or file my nails or read a book, the light changes to green so fast!

But long stoplights are not the problem on I-4.  This from the Orlando Sentinel:

Declaring that taxpayers deserve to know more, Central Florida’s Democratic U.S. Reps… today asked the state’s top transportation official why the “I-4 Ultimate project is both behind schedule and over budget.”

Other stories are Surviving I-4: Punctured tires, busted windshields – “Oh lord, please”, Construction resumes on I-4 Ultimate project after worker’s death, Local reactions mixed to plans to tear apart, rebuild SR 436 intersection with I-4, and more.

Aging

Some people worry about losing as they grow older: their eyesight, their hearing, their hair, their minds.  Some worry about gaining: weight, cataracts, skin tags, nose hair, a wavering in your voice (the website said I need to sing to maintain a robust voice). But I am bothered about the migration.  This is not like the wildebeest migration, which I have witnessed in Tanzania (and I can tell you, I don’t care if I never see another wildebeest again).

Over two million wildebeest, zebras and gazelles move through the Serengeti and Masai Mara ecosystems in search of green pasture, in a regular pattern.

Watching two million anything day after day can get boring.  No, the migration I speak of is more insidious, and quiet.  Not like those animals splashing and braying as the crocodiles catch them in the river (wildebeests).  That “baby fat” that kept your hands soft, which are now witchy, the bones and veins bulging out, slithers up your arms, gathering strength, until it slides down your back, leaving some scouts on guard there, peering over your bra straps, then realigning its forces into a circle, as Cape buffalos do for protection.  Against what?  The hug of a grandchild?  (This circle is sometimes called a tire, although for thin people, such as my brother, it’s usually a bicycle tire.)  Why did evolution create this?

But while the migration is happening, so is calcification.  Don’t stop exercising or you’ll be taken for granite – and exercising is much harder to restart!  Granite doesn’t bend well and moves more slowly.

Haboob

Two of my friends have been in Glasgow, two others in Amsterdam.  And of course I’m delighted to be in Orlando where it’s 94° (heat index, which takes  into account the 57% humidity, 99°), even hotter than Tucson, whose monsoons have “cooled” the city down to “only” 91° (and with the humidity of 45% still feels like 91°).

In my 40+ years in Tucson I have only seen one haboob, and it was last fall, driving back from Phoenix.  Our climate change must be hatching more.  A friend posted this marvelous video on Facebook.  It shows A mountain, and the two houses I designed and built are right behind it.  haboob

Newfangled Gadgets

I challenge you to guess how to open the back end of my latest rental car, a Ford ecosport.  Bet you can’t figure it out without googling video instructions.

Note

My fortune cookie said, New possibilities with friends are in your future. 

Baked or Steamed

July 2, 2018

Obviously we’re baked in Tucson and steamed in Orlando.

Except in the office, where we’re refrigerated.  Maybe they think that if they keep us cold we’ll work faster to keep warm?

But the A/C was out at work for three days.  The first day the residual cold was extinguished.  After that it gradually warmed, so I wound down from my third layer jacket, then my sweater, to short sleeves, and was actually warm by the third day.  Reminded me of the punch line from the a fifteen stanza poem, The Cremation of Sam McGee, by Robert W Service, Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it’s the first time I’ve been warm.

(You can look it up and read it.  My father used to recite it at campfires every year when we’d go camping, and I memorized it in about the 4th grade.  After I had kids I would recite it at campfires. Had taken them on a raft trip down the Colorado River, and our boatman said he’d recite it at campfire; my son announced, My mom knows it!  So we recited in tandem.  My son also learned it, freaking out my daughter, You sound just like Mom!)

Commuting

Between the dark and the daylight,
When the rain continues to shower,
Comes a pause in the day’s occupations,
That is known as Commuters’ Hour

Blue Men

They’ve performed at U of A on many occasions, but I’d never gotten around to seeing them, so I bought a ticket at the Universal Theater complex, for the row behind the first 4 rows, where they have a splash zone, like at SeaWorld for the orcas and dolphins shows. They color splashing from the snare drums appeared to be mustard and catsup.  And later on someone smashed bananas. But the audience there were all wearing those $1.95 clear ponchos, which I assume the show gave out.  It was vacuous but fun.  They didn’t allow photos during the act so I just snapped this afterwards.

Distilled Water

We’ve had a number of people who have “demob’ed”.  One of the guys in our group, who went home to get his roof, severely damaged from a storm, fixed.  He left me a gallon of distilled water that he bought to iron his shirts.  (! You can tell he’s old.)  Now I rarely iron, so I thought to just drink it, then thought I ought to check before drinking that water:

Distilled water tends to be acidic and can only be recommended as a way of drawing poisons out of the body. Once this is accomplished, the continued drinking of distilled water is a bad idea. Water filtered through reverse osmosis tends to be neutral and is acceptable for regular use provided minerals are supplemented. http://waterhealthstudies.blogspot.com/2007/12/distilled-water-vs-reverse-osmosis.html

So thought to make coffee from it:

If you care more about the longevity of your coffee maker, feel free to use distilled water. Your morning fuel won’t be great, but it will get the job done. However, if you’re all about stellar coffee, always skip the distilled water. Instead, make coffee with cold tap water. Your taste buds will thank you.  http://www.myrecipes.com/extracrispy/should-i-make-coffee-with-distilled-water

But it works well for my Waterpic.

Six things you could do without

Try to limit it to just six.

Betsy DeVos, office coffee, the Heritage Foundation*, plastic grocery bags, the Syrian war, soda (except for tonic to go  with my gin)…

*…Heritage’s recommendations included some of the most prominent members of Trump’s cabinet: Scott Pruitt, Betsy DeVos (whose in-laws endowed Heritage’s Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society)…

…Feulner packaged his fledgling think tank’s ideology into five basic principles: free enterprise, limited government [= no help for the poor], individual freedom, traditional values [=white men in charge] and a strong national defense…

…It published papers advocating making Social Security voluntary, argued against giving striking workers access to food stamps and warned parents about the danger posed by the advancement of “secular humanism” in public schools…

…But Heritage had its complaints about Reagan at the time… “They were looking for competent people,” Nofziger, who had gone on to become a key political strategist for Reagan, later recalled. “I tried to explain to them that the first thing you do is get loyal people, and competence is a bonus.”..

…supported a Heritage agenda that included opening offshore drilling on federal lands; opposing mandatory labeling of genetically engineered food; reducing regulations on for-profit universities; revoking an Obama executive order on green-energy mandates for federal agencies; phasing out federal subsidies for housing; and opposing marriage equality and nondiscrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity…

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/20/magazine/trump-government-heritage-foundation-think-tank.html

Grammar Lady

From the person who manages my weekly hotel bills: your welcome
From a reviewer of my documentation: Debris quantity inconsistency’s

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.