Monday, December 11, 2017

This Happened on the Block of Our Old House - We Are All Fine

This happened near our old house. If you have any questions. We are fine.  It happened in the tunnel from the Port Authority to the Subway, where we have taken almost all of our friends.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Non-Profit I Work With

Project 1948 works on inter-generational trauma in Bosnia Herzegovina. I often have a difficult time explaining what they do, or why I care.  This short (13 minute) documentary shows it all.

It's embedded here, or YouTube LINK here.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Saw Call Me By Your Name

I loved it. Armie was good, but the breakout was Timothee Chalamet.  He was stunning. They are both straight guys, but energy was believeable.  A fair amount of kissing, but not sex shown (so safe for your mom).


And Dad's speech at the end brought me to tears.

Friday, December 08, 2017

The First Vote Presidential Vote I Ever Cast....

John Anderson passed away this week.  For most people he is but a footnote in history. For me, he was the first Presidential vote I ever cast.

"But Scott", I hear you ask, "you hate throwing away your vote.  Why?!"

Well, I lived in California and voted after school and work. By the time I got to the polls - at 5:45 PM PDT, President Carter had already conceded to Ronald Reagan. Nimrod. So my vote wasn't wasted so much as useless before I voted. So I voted my heart.

Why vote at all, you ask. Well, there were down ballot races that were important - and probably changed when Carter conceded too early.

Back to John.  John Anderson was what was, at that time, a liberal Republican. We don't have those anymore. He was socially liberal / libertarian, but financial conservative. California had a shit-load of those until Pete Wilson screwed the pooch with the anti-Hispanic propositions.

Oddly, I was around when the amendment happened to drop the voting age to 18 (if they were old enough to fight in Vietnam, they were old enough to vote - went the saying). And, even odder, it didn't effect me at all. My first presidential election was when I turned 21.  The previous one was when I was 17.

I also remember my first vote period. It was in the 1980 Democratic primary. I selected 5 electors pledged to Jessie Jackson and 3 electors pledged to Jimmy Carter. An elector system that was only used once in California.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Watching Synergy in Nature Real Time

The twin process of climate change and man encroaching on natural habitats is creating real time changes that people are studying.

In this case, it is the synergy rising between Elk and Magpies. In parts of Alberta (Canada), Elk have taken to staying close to towns and not migrating. Partially due to climate change and partially due to humans settling in areas that elk live in and partially due to wolves that are moving into the territory.

What researchers have found is that Elk in town are braver. "Shy" elk, those that don't like people, still migrate.

But now migrating "shy" elk, at the end of a day, will lay down and "brave" magpies will approach them. The magpies groom the elk by eating ticks that attack the elk. The rise in ticks is due to climate change.

Right now it is the "shy" elk that migrate and need groomers and the "brave" magpies that started approaching them to groom them.

In 50 or 100 years, we may see a species synergy like the honey badger and the bee-catcher in Africa. We are seeing it happen in front of our eyes. Which is a bit magical, even though it is driven by human forced needs.

link to full story.

Bluster that is Relatively Safe

President Trump's statement on Jerusalem is neither shocking nor groundbreaking. The movement of the embassy has been talking point of his backers for a long time.

Sheldon Anderson, a prominent Jewish backer - who has donated billions to various Republicans for years AND who started a newspaper in Israel - has been pushing for this for a long time. For him, it serves as marker that the United States supports Israel over the Palestinians.

For many on the Evangelical right, it serves as the start of the time Second Coming. Sure it will kill hundreds of millions in the middle east, but it saves them. Yay.

For some people in America, with a persistent but low level of anti-Muslim bias, it is a way to poke the Muslim world with very little downside.

For most Americans it is a non-issue. Given everything else going on in the country, this is relatively unimportant to us as an issue.

For the "international community", it makes the US less able to be an independent arbiter of peace in the Middle East. But most foreign actors didn't ever think we independent arbiters before. For some international observers, it makes us subservient to Israel policies - but Americans don't care. We believe about foreigners in general "they hate us anyway - no matter what we do".

We are breaching international norms, and our own stated morality - but welcome to Donald Trump's America kids. Breaching our own morality is what we do now.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Imagine Your Spouse Didn't Get Equal Benefits Becasue They Were Jewish or Black

Let us say that you are working. Your co-worker's husbands got medical and dental insurance via marriage. But you were married to a Jewish Man and he couldn't get those benefits because he was Jewish. Or you were married to a Black man and he couldn't get those benefits because he was black.

Or you were legally married to a man who was the same sex as you, and he wasn't given medical or dental because your are both men or women.

Of those three ideas, guess which one is legal in Texas.

And guess which one the Supreme Court just upheld as legal in the United States. Yep, it is totally legal to give different rights (and always fewer) to people married to same-sex partners as opposed to opposite sex partners. Supreme Court says so...

full story

Again my triggers on GTFOOD (... getting the fuck out of Dodge).

- - - - from Jan 20, 2017 - - - -

So, in reality, these are the triggers I see that would make me want to get the fuck out of Dodge.
1. Right to Marriage is overturned via Supreme Court
2. Serious talk of "postponing the next election" occurs and / or legislation is introduced (my guess is this would occur - IF it occurs - due to a terrorist attack and we should "all come together).
These are general warning signs and hitting a majority of these would tend to have me thinking of leaving:
1. Right to discriminate laws are passed and upheld by the Supreme Court <- DONE 12/4/2017
2. Any registry of Muslims is started up and advertised as a positive
3. Newspapers are successfully shut down for negative press coverage
There you go. That is my list of triggers per last night's discussion.
I feel better for getting these down.


Saturday, December 02, 2017

Sam Underwood at 54 Below

I'm excited. My friend Sam is playing at 54 below. It is the show from the Edinburgh fringe - so it should be fun. Let me know if you're going as I'll be there.

Sam - in show mode, definitely not the glamour shot.

Mascot of December: Ocotillo


This month's mascot is the Ocotillo. It is a gorgeous plant (very like a cactus) but only for a season. In the spring, if there was enough rain, the Ocotillo blooms. But blooms isn't enough of a word. It explodes - turning from a collection of sticks to green and red bonanza.

Mainly around the low desert from Palm Springs - through Anza-Borrego: the heaven of Ocotoillo - down to Baja California. It is gorgeous.

The bloom time varies, so the very best way to see it is to dry CA - 22 from Warner Springs to Borrego Springs in the spring.

You see the road winds down a mountain on the desert side that enables the Ocotillo to bloom at different elevations at different times. So you get your best chance to see a natural bloom somewhere.

Now I hear you say, "WTF, Scott? Why the Ocotillo?" Because it looks dead, but it isn't. It is resilient and will pop back. Hell, at a little nursery in Morongo they had stacks of it that look like firewood. But you plug it in the ground in December. Water it a little and poof - it blooms in March.  March is my birthday month and I am always charmed by their return to life.
Dormant - not dead
Maybe my country will come back to life after the long winter of this soul.

What is Low Desert and High Desert?

I was reading Dwell today and they talked about about a house in the high desert. And I thought, do people know the difference?

Wikipedia gives correct, but dry definition:

A local will give you a more direct answer - depending on where they live. "Over the Cajon Pass", "It's past Yucca Valley" or "Joshua Tree". This refers to the rise you take to get to the high desert from LA (to Vegas) or from Palm Springs / the 10.  You see the the rise from Moronogo Valley (already higher than Palm Springs) up to Yucca Valley below.
Look at the rise up to Yucca Valley in the distance

So what is the real difference?

Ecologically, the High Desert will often fall below freezing in the winter. This requires a different sort of plant that has to endure frost, more rain (so they have to be able to store it - so usually larger plants) and long dry spells. The Joshua Tree is the most recognized of these types of plants.

By contrast the Low Desert will have much higher temperatures in the summer, usually no frost in the winter and longer more severe periods of drought.

Areas of near constant beauty are those places where the mountains drop into the low desert and therefore there is a lot of water. Palm Canyon hikes are gorgeous (the one below is from Anza-Borrego, and there is another in South Palm Springs Canyon).

Socially, traditionally the High Desert dweller is a year-round resident. Often military (there are large military bases in the high desert), often retired, very often retired military. A little cold is more than offset by a much cooler summer (101 F instead of 115 F  or 38C vs 46 C).

By contrast the Low Desert is populated by second homes, snow birds and lots of irrigation. And a lot more rich people.
Condos in Ranco Mirage
Having said all that thought - nothing in the world beats the view of Joshua Tree National Park at sunset....