In Praise of the Sky

We’ve really been enjoying living in our rental property adjacent to where our new home is being built. As I’ve written about before, we love having a back yard again! It was something our prior San Carlos home, built into a hill, didn’t have.

Today I realized it’s not just the backyard which is so wonderful. Or rather, there’s an aspect to having a backyard which isn’t part of the yard per se, but is definitely part of the experience.

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It’s Not a Pejorative

Recently my brother Art confessed to being a dinosaur because he dislikes web video snippets which would work much better as an article (I share the  same feeling).

But that got me to thinking: why is being a dinosaur a bad thing?

Sure, they’re extinct. But:

  • They ruled the Earth for hundreds of millions of years.
  • They supplanted early mammals, or at least mammal-like creatures, and kept them suppressed for eons.
  • It took a giant 10 kilometer diameter asteroid or comet impacting the Earth to knock them out.

There’s nothing shameful about being a dinosaur. Except for the being extinct part. And, hey, everything dies eventually :).

Hummingbird Photos

I’ve been having fun taking pictures of hummingbirds at our feeder.

I must admit to being surprised at how territorial these little guys are. There’s one hummer in particular who chases every other bird away from the feeder when he’s in the neighborhood.

Taking Flight

Over the last few months I’ve heard several hummingbirds use our feeder. Usually I don’t see them; all I get to experience is the sound of a giant bumblebee, because they don’t spend much time feeding.

But today I managed to watch three different hummers feeding. It was cool to see them at a standstill in mid-air with their tiny beak jammed into the feeder tube. A small bubble would drift up through the nectar reservoir and they’d be gone.

The most interesting one, though, was when I was close enough to see the action but far enough away not to hear the bass hum. The lack of sound made it all the more magical.

Maybe one of these days I’ll get the chance to photograph one of these amazing creatures refueling themselves.

Cruising at 5 Miles per Second

This past Sunday morning I got up a little before 6 AM to see the International Space Station cruise over San Carlos. It was one of the better displays, going from the western horizon to the eastern horizon, and passing very close to straight overhead. So it was visible for almost 10 minutes, outshining everything in the pre-dawn sky.

I waved at them, too. But I doubt they noticed me :).

It being Sunday I then went back to bed, waking up for good around 8:30 AM.

By which point the ISS was just about completing it’s second lap around the Earth since I’d watched them pass out of view.

Now that’s fast!

Masonry Foundations

Today I went to a 150th anniversary celebration for the local Masonic lodge. While San Carlos, where the lodge resides, hasn’t been around that long, the lodge itself traces back to one which was founded in San Mateo in 1863, moved to Redwood City sometime around the early 1900s and then merged with the San Carlos lodge.

It was a very interesting experience, as I hadn’t known anything about the Masons. Except that they figure in a large number of conspiracy theories, I suspect because they don’t share the details of their beliefs with outsiders.

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The Clock Is Running!

Today, after more weeks of delay and effort than I want to remember we — finally! — submitted the plans for our new home to the City.

If it weren’t for Dave Crabbe, who stepped in after we had to abandon our first architect due to glacial slowness (non-global-warming-impacted glacial slowness), we still wouldn’t have begun the design review process. Thanx, Dave!

There are a number of key hurdles left (e.g., hearing and attempting address issues raised by neighbors, approval by the Residential Design Review Committee, soliciting construction bids to see if we can afford to build what we’ve designed, getting building permits) and a lot of work to come (e.g., finishing off the interior design and landscaping, identifying all the appliances, fixtures and treatments). Not to mention getting the thing built.

But at least we’re moving!

And now, for those of you who found the title of this posting oddly familiar, here’s Tom Hanks in Apollo 13.

Tricks of Memory

While I haven’t watched many episodes recently, I was a huge fan of the original Star Trek. My sister and I watched the episodes so often in reruns that we could almost always name them from the first few opening bars of music.

A year of so I ago I was given a BluRay collection of the first season. I left it unopened for quite a while, but after recently re-installing iTunes I decided to rip a few favorite episodes to my library.

When I looked at the show list in the package I was convinced they’d put the episodes in a different order for marketing purposes.

But I was wrong. A quick visit to Wikipedia proved my memory was what had changed. Because my very favorite episodes were in season two, I’d reshuffled everything to put all my favorites in season two. In reality, most of them were first year episodes, with only a handful — and my most favorite — in the second year (the third year, as any true Star Trek fan will tell you, is, with a few exceptions, best forgotten, or only discussed in mumbles).

It makes me wonder what else I “know” that just ain’t so :).

Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat

We saw Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat at Hillbarn Theatre in Foster City last night. Neither of us had seen it before, or knew anything about it. We almost didn’t go because we’d heard it was based on a Biblical story and sounded overly dramatic.

Boy were we wrong. It was a lot of fun!

One interesting little observation: in all the songs that refer to Joseph’s coat, it’s never referred to as a technicolor dreamcoat. Just a colored/colorful dreamcoat. I wonder where and how the reference got Hollywoodized to create the title?

Tragedy in Connecticut

I’ve had enough. Here’s an email I just sent to Congresswoman Speier, Senator Feinstein and Senator Boxer.

What happened in Connecticut today shows the failure of our current gun control efforts. It’s true that guns don’t kill people, people do. But this tragedy shows it is far too easy for deranged and destructive people to own firearms.

I accept that the Constitution grants individuals the right to bear arms. But even Justice Scalia, one of our most conservative, strict constructionist jurists, acknowledged the government’s power to regulate firearm possession.

Our elected leaders’ inability to address this problem is reprehensible. It’s time for Congress to stop anointing itself with the blood of innocents while aiding and abetting the crazies among us.

Enough is enough. Take the power of life and death away from the nutjobs. Today!