Disaster

November 26, 2017

PA

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

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

Holidays

We got this notice two weeks ago:

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

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

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

We worked Friday.

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

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

Driving around Orlando

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

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

Wildlife

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

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

 

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

The Call

November 25, 2017

Yes, this blog is two weeks late, but I’ve been busy.

Travel

Many of you know that the international  A/E  (Architecture/Engineering) firm that I had worked for called me in June to ask if I’d like to be put on a bid for FEMA.  (Large companies bid for federal disaster relief contracts and the new bid is to be for five years. When Hurricane Katrina hit 12 years ago, Fluor had committed 10% of their work force. There were 60 in our Tucson office, so six of us left for DC where we went through two weeks of concentrated FEMA training.  Then I was deployed to Mississippi, off the coast.  But those are other stories.)

Then it was mid-August and Harvey hit.  First responders go in – first.  So I waited. Irma slammed in, followed by Jose and Maria.  After a few weeks I called.  No word yet. More weeks went by.  Then a call on Thursday night, October 31st:  we’d be working Irma.  Possible deployment on Sunday but don’t make reservations yet. An email on Friday Possible deployment on Sunday but don’t make reservations yet. Got The Call 10:30 Saturday morning while I was in the shop getting my car fixed: make reservations for the next morning. So I made plane reservations (6:30am) drove my cat up to relatives north of Phoenix (almost five hours round trip), my daughter and her family came over with the pickup truck to take all of my outdoor potted plants, as they weren’t on the drip system, and food that wouldn’t keep, called my housesitter who would water my indoor plants once a week, ran the dishwasher,  and packed.  Had already bought a cheap small duffel bag as I had to pack both cold weather clothes for Maryland and warm weather clothes for Florida.  Scheduled an Uber for 4:30 am and got a bit of sleep.

First Sunday

Sunday was an 18-hour day, but only because there was a two-hour time difference.  Three shuttles to the National Emergency Training Center (NETC) in Emmitsburg, Maryland from the Baltimore airport, at 2, 5, and 7 pm.  Of course my plane arrived at 2:05. We had to show two pieces of ID before we got on the bus (I now carry my passport to travel around the US), when we were on the bus, when the bus reached the security gate at the NETC, and when we were processed. The NETC was already full (five dorms housing over three hundred) as it serves as an interagency emergency management training body for the EMI (Emergency Management Institute), NFA (National Fire Academy), and USFA (United States Fire Administration) and there were firefighters there (they were the ones in short-sleeve shirts with bulging muscles) as well as FEMA Wave 9 (we’re Wave 10 of 12), so we were housed in three inexpensive motels in Frederick, half an hour bus drive on a freeway each way.

BTW – the history of the campus is interesting: NETC

Training

Monday: In a meeting filling out MORE forms. 1600 FEMA people already trained here. 300 here now (says lecturer). Every county in Florida needs FEMA. Texas has 20% more debris than Katrina.  Those were my notes on the morning of the first day;  then we got busy with ten intensive days of lecture and practice with our intranet system; all of my notes are in acronyms.

Emmitsburg, Maryland

Too picture perfect, as a postcard or trainset. (These photos are from the Net as I was always too tired to take any.)  Manicured lawns, farms with neatly rolled-up bales of hay, trees gold and scarlet and magenta. No old-growth forests or any animals except for horses and cows. Haven’t even seen a bird or squirrel! Sun just coming up (our bus picks us up at 6:30 each morning), making ponds into shimmering mirrors. Contrail in a light blue sky. 19° – wearing four layers.

In the evening back at my hotel with my feet on the heater to try to drive out residual cold. But it warmed up from this morning to 29° now.  Have tomorrow off for laundry – Sunday, a day when I don’t have to get up at 5:30.

Had six days of rigorous lectures and practice on the computer system we’ll use. Next week “boot camp” for four days to go over the whole procedure again and again. We’re the Program Delivery Managers (PDMG – we speak in acronyms).

Next Friday shall fly in to Orlando and the AFO (Area Field Office) where they’ll decide where to deploy me.  Many interesting people and lots of diversity – old, young, black, white, Hispanic.  A woman from Iraq, another from Guam. Bus driver today from Jamaica (where I had been in the Peace Corps) – had been a teacher there, and was about my age, so after my dinner in the cafeteria (where we eat three meals a day) we chatted for half an hour before the bus left.

Second Sunday

Wow- I could get used to Uber – a variety of chauffeurs. An older friend in Tucson travels this way. Slept in to 9 this am, then turned over and slept ’til 10.  Uber to the main street in this tiny town of Frederick where some historic row houses are hundreds of years old. Cute!  Started at Starbucks for latte and a NY Times (both of which I have missed), on to a laundromat, then a Vietnamese restaurant for summer rolls.  At Spanish place tonight for tapas and wine (which I haven’t had all week).

Lots more to come.  (This is mostly from jottings I email to myself until I have time to compose a blog posting.)

Plastics

November 2, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s Wrong with this Picture

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

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

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

SHOULD GET DEATH PENALTY!

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

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

In One Year on Average

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

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

Virga

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

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

Halloween 2017

October 29, 2017

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

WordPress

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

Renegade installations

 

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

 

 

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

TMA continued

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TMA

October 21, 2017

 

Tucson Museum of Art

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Republicans

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

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

Then he gives teachers only  1%:

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

When they protested…

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

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

The Church

This was on the news the other day:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More pleasant predators

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

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

Acts of God

October 14, 2017

Hurricanes, Fires

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


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

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

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

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

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

Seen two weeks ago

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

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

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

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

Seen yesterday

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

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

This ‘n that

September 23, 2017

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

Worms and Spiders

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

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

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

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

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

Vegetable Garden

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

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

Lizards

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

The English Monarchy

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

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

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

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

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

Equifax

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

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

I did so and got:

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

Darn.  But  was so gratified to know that:

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

However,

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

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

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

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

More Stuff…

September 18, 2017

One of my San Diego friends, knowing that I had just read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and another of Marie Kondo’s books, Joy1, gave me a copy of The Story of Stuff, by Annie Leonard.  The subtitle (it seems you need subtitles nowadays – Tidying Up has The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing) is The Impact of Overconsumption on the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health-And How We Can Make It Better.  It is way depressing.  A snippet:

In the 1950’s, the chairman of President Eisenhower’s Council of Economic Advisors stated, “The American economy’s ultimate purpose is to produce more consumer goods.”  Really?  Rather than to provide health care, safe communities, solid education for our youngsters, or a good quality of life…

So I wouldn’t recommend that you read the book, unless you’re up for a downer.  However, she has made a 20-minute online movie, which (very quickly) summarizes the book, and I do recommend that you watch it (just click here): story-of-stuff. The only thing that bothers me about the movie is that she is too perky about a depressing subject (as opposed to Al Gore in An Inconvenient Truth).

And speaking of Stuff:

DETROIT — A gun was pulled after two pairs of women fought over the last notebook on a shelf at a Walmart in Michigan this week, according to police.2  (Photo from  © James Dingeldey Video footage of a woman pulling out a gun at a Walmart in Novi.)

A notebook.  Really.

The other book I’m reading now is A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There by Aldo Leopold.  Lovely charcoal drawings throughout by Charles Schwartz.

Admired by an ever-growing number of readers and imitated by hundreds of writers, A Sand County Almanac serves as one of the cornerstones of modern conservation science, policy, and ethics. First published by Oxford University Press in 1949, it has become a conservation classic.3

It is depressing in a different way.  He poetically describes all that he sees, but also writes about all of the animals and plants that have been eliminated from our planet due to “progress.”  However, he isn’t strident about it.  He killed many of the animals for his own meals, but the tree that he cut up for firewood had been downed by a lightning strike.  It is quietly sad.

On April nights when it has become warm enough to sit outdoors, we love to listen to the proceedings of the convention in the marsh.  There are long periods of silence when one hears only the winnowing of snipe, the hoot of a distant owl, or the nasal clucking of some amorous coot.  Then, of a sudden, a strident honk resounds, and in an instant pandemonium echoes. There is a beating of pinions on water, a rushing of dark prows propelled by churning paddles, and a general shouting by the onlookers of a vehement controversy.  Finally some deep honker has his last word, and the noise subsides to that half-audible small-talk that seldom ceases among geese…

It is a kind providence that has withheld a sense of of history from the thousands of species of plants and animals that have exterminated each other to build the present world. The same kind providence now withholds it from us. Few grieved when the last buffalo left Wisconsin, and few will grieve when the last Silphium follows him to the lush prairies of the never-never land.

These animals have not been eliminated by Oro Valley yet:


Bobcat

First time I’ve seen one in this yard.  Was working at the computer when I saw it, ran for the camera in the bedroom and got these shots from there.  Probably should have knocked on the window so it looked at me.  The third photo is it on top of the wall before it jumped into the neighbor’s yard.  I also grabbed my cat and put her on her stool so she could see it too.  Explained to her that was why she wasn’t going out any more.  She was very attentive.  (I mentioned the bobcat to my neighbor, so she’d watch out for her small dog.  She said the couple in this rental before me had a small dog.  One night they let it out, and never saw it again.  So it could have been the bobcat.)

Roadrunner

First time I’ve seen one of these in this yard too.  (This taken from the family room.)

Doves

Each evening seven mourning doves sit on my back fence.  Tightly knit family?

Towhee

An Albert’s towhee has been attacking my office window for the past three days.  This is the wrong season.  They typically attack their reflections in the spring, competing for mates.  Also, usually brightly colored birds do it, as they can more easily see their reflections.  Three houses ago there was a male cardinal who would attack the office window.  Was afraid he’d hurt himself, but a website said no.

Catalina Mountains

Of course, another photo of these gorgeous mountains.

1https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2017/08/10/stuff/
2gun-pulled-in-fight-between-back-to-school-shoppers
3https://www.aldoleopold.org/about/aldo-leopold/sand-county-almanac/

The Power of Prayer

September 15, 2017

Think prayer helps?  Then try asking for help for these people:

Victims of Hurricane Harvey

Damage from Hurricane Harvey (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) rivals the ten biblical plagues:

1.  wind and 40 – 52″ of rain affecting an estimated 100,000 homes, and 300 schools closed indefinitely.  One million cars wrecked.

2.  flood water contaminated with oil, grease, chemicals, heavy metals, sewage, and debris

Harris County, home to Houston, hosts more than two dozen current and former toxic waste sites … legacy contamination: lead, arsenic, polychlorinated biphenyls, benzene and other toxic and carcinogenic compounds from industrial activities many years ago.

3.  spills from petrochemical plants including barium, arsenic, mercury

The chemicals released in the week after Harvey made landfall, [such as] benzene, 1,3-butadiene, hexane, hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide, toluene and xylene.
All seven chemicals are toxic air pollutants documented to harm human health; several cause cancer. Other emissions would bring the total to more than 5 million pounds
…the city of Houston registered up to 15,000 parts per billion of smog-forming volatile organic compounds in and around the Valero refinery in east Houston’s Manchester neighborhood, as well as at other refineries in the region. These concentrations are at least 10 times higher than health officials deem safe…  1-million-pounds-extra-air-pollution

4.  poor sanitary conditions in shelters which can spread illnesses including the common cold, norovirus (the winter vomiting bug), hepatitis A and E

5.  lost prescription medicines and dialysis treatment machines

6.  ear infection, skin rashes, respiratory infections

7.  alligators, snakes (about 34 species of which six species are venomous – three species of rattlesnakes, the Texas coral snake, the southern copperhead and the western cottonmouth, better known as a water moccasin), and fire ants (as many as 500,000 fire ants forming a living flotilla to reach higher ground) in flooded homes and environs

8.  a possible thousand dead cattle, as well as cattle standing in water with weakened skin and hooves which are susceptible to infection, and prolonged standing cattle, which, with lack of food and lack of drinkable water, are susceptible to respiratory disease

9.  mosquitoes which can carry West Nile virus, Zika, dengue, chikungunya, and yellow fever

10. mold, especially black mold, which can trigger allergic reactions and asthma attacks, and, in some extreme cases, cause death.

I had worked in Mississippi for eight months with FEMA after Hurricane Katrina a dozen years ago.  Cleanup cost $150 billion in today’s dollars.  Texas governor Greg Abbott says they’ll need $180 billion.

Part of Houston’s problems is due to weak zoning laws, too many people, too much concrete (so water can’t soak in), and dams constructed in the 1930’s ($72 million in repairs, now underway, won’t solve long-term issuesHouston-dams).

I may or may not be going to Texas.  A few months ago TRS, a staffing agency, recruited me for my old A/E firm, Fluor, for a FEMA bid with the Feds for disaster relief, and I’ve done lots of paperwork.  After hurricanes Harvey and Irma hit they called me, staffing directly for FEMA.  But, as an architect, not an engineer, I did not make the first or second cut, so may not be going at all, or may be going to Florida.  It’s all up in the air.

Mexican Casualties

(Photo: Angel Hernandez / EPA)

Last month, as Hurricane Harvey flooded Houston with days of record-breaking rains, Mexico issued a statement offering to send food, generators and medical aid to Texas “as good neighbors should always do in trying times.”

But after an earthquake and a hurricane — and Trump’s failure to send condolences — Mexico rescinded [its] offer of aid to U.S.

At least 95 people died in Thursday’s magnitude 8.1 earthquake, according to the Foreign Ministry, most of them in the southern Mexican states of Oaxaca and Chiapas… where thousands of homes were reduced to rubble… survivors still waiting for help.

While authorities scrambled to dig victims from rubble and provide shelter to the homeless on Mexico’s southwestern coast, a Category 1 hurricane struck Mexico’s Gulf Coast on Saturday. At least two people were killed by Hurricane Katia…

Trump did not offer condolences to Mexico after either disaster, as is common when tragedies befall U.S. allies, even as multiple American mayors and governors offered their sympathies and help. Nor did Trump offer U.S. aid to Mexico.  mexico-aid

The Rohingya

The United Nations’ top human rights official accused Myanmar on Monday of carrying out “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing” against Rohingya Muslims, hundreds of thousands of whom have crossed into Bangladesh since late August to escape a military crackdown.

Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, UN high commissioner for human rights, said the military’s “brutal” security campaign was in clear violation of international law, and cited what he called refugees’ consistent accounts of widespread killings, rape and other atrocities. ethnic-cleansing (photo: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters)

Aun San Suu Kyi, the de facto leader of Myanmar and Nobel Peace Prize winner, is under the gun for not protecting the Rohingya minority.

Desmond Tutu condemned Aung San Suu Kyi: ‘Silence is too high a price’ – Nobel laureate issued heartfelt letter to fellow peace prize winner calling for her to speak up for Rohingya in Myanmar  desmond-tutu

Men of peace are all appealing to her:

The Dalai Lama says the suffering of Rohingya Muslims fleeing violence in Myanmar would have inspired Buddha to help…

The Dalai Lama said he had also delivered this message to Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi several years ago at a meeting of Nobel Peace Prize laureates. He told reporters Saturday that the situation in Buddhist-majority Myanmar made him “very sad.” The comments were captured on video at the airport in the Indian hill town of Dharamsala, where he has lived in exile for decades.

The Bangladesh government says it has offered a plot of land for a new camp to shelter Rohingya Muslims who have fled recent violence in Myanmar.

The violence has driven nearly 300,000 Rohingya to flee Buddhist-majority Myanmar, with many of them packed into existing camps or huddled in makeshift settlements that have mushroomed along roadsides and in open fields across Cox’s Bazaar district on the border.  dalai-lama

I had mentionedt Aun San Suu Kyi when Ai Weiwei had included her in his display in Alcatraz open-up-your-golden-gate
The next room in the New Industries Building was Trace, carpets of Legos, with portraits of 176 people from around the world who have been imprisoned or exiled because of their beliefs or affiliations.

At least we’re aghast at genocide now.  But our American past is full of it.  Please read Goodbye, Yosemite. Hello, What? by Daniel Duane from the 9/2/17 Sunday New York Times:

…in 1850… [California] lawmakers legalized forcing American Indian children into white custody and barred Indians from voting, giving evidence against whites in criminal cases or serving as jurors…

These are all classic steps in the march toward mass murder, with clear echoes in later genocides. In 1851, California’s governor, Peter Burnett, said that he expected “a war of extermination” to continue “between the races until the Indian race becomes extinct,” and Senator John Weller later said that “the interest of the white man demands their extinction.” Toward that end, California spent the equivalent of $45 million in today’s money on two dozen state militia expeditions that murdered at least 1,340 California Indians…
goodbye-yosemite

1,200 dead in India, Nepal and Bangladesh

Floods in India, Nepal and Bangladesh kill over 1,200 in August of this year. Rescue workers scramble to provide aid to millions of people stranded by worst monsoon floods in South Asia for years.  floods-kill-1200  (Photo: Bangladesh Department of Disaster Management)

And I can go on and on.  Do you think there’s a god who listens to prayers?

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