Archive for April, 2020

Tidbits

26 April 2020

…consisting of somewhat random notes.

The Arboretum

It was warm this weekend! And when it gets hot – which means I get hotter on my ride home – I usually stop at the arboretum (UC Sac State) along the way.

butterfly bush flowers

Here is the butterfly bush mentioned on the marker above. Exotic!

And an iris.

iris

Nearby were some calla lilies.

calla

This is quite a peaceful place. And popular as a way to take in a short walk.

There were a lot of people out Saturday. The regular bike racers, plus a ton of families with kids.

The weather, predicted to be partly cloudy, turned out mostly sunny, and I got burned.

eArt Projects

At home I have been working – almost feverishly – on putting together some systems that will allow me to continue to develop more electronic art.

I worked a lot on an oscillator made from an old IC known as “XR2206.” This IC is considered very outdated, yet it continues to have popularity among hobbyists and can still be obtained from electronics surplus stores. One wonders, though, why these parts are surplus. Could it be they were rejected by the original manufacturers due to being out-of-specification?

What I know about this IC is that it has been hard for me to work with in that it does not deliver the full functionality it was specified for. In theory, you can get a 2000:1 frequency range out of this part, but this is difficult to achieve because at higher current levels it begins to go unstable or stop oscillating.

Still it is a great way to get a sine wave for testing purposes with just the turn of one knob. And that’s all I needed it for.

XR2206 oscillator

This is an important part of my “analog” rack. This rack is for developing different ways to process sound and turn it into signals that can control light (LED) displays.

Below the oscillator is an open section where boards can be inserted for testing. That part isn’t finished yet.

analog rack

The whole thing looks like this right now.

The mounting rails with all the little screw holes in them are taken from the “eurorack” system. This system was developed as a metric standard that imitates the old U.S. standard 19-inch wide equipment racks. This rack size has continued to be popular for computer equipment and for professional audio equipment. The eurorack has become the default standard for modern modular equipment, especially analog (old-school) synthesizers. The “new breed” of “analog” synths can be computer-aided, which helps to overcome some of their old problems with tuning stability, amount of space required, and similar issues.

I note that vinyl as a recording medium is also back in vogue. Some people really think it sounds better.

I use these racks for projects that need to be modular – built in functional sections. They are a great substitute for older rack equipment which tends to be way too deep for this sort of application. Lots of professional synth modules are less than 1 inch deep behind the panel! My racks are about 4 inches deep. That was not quite deep enough, however, for the power supply module I found (at a very good price) so I had to make a hole in its panel so it could stick out 1/2 an inch in the front. That meant putting a thick plastic cover over it so it would be electrically safe.

I also have an analog meter in this rack, as I sometimes want to see the slower changes in a signal, and digital meters aren’t good for that.

digital rack

My digital rack is very similar, except it all works on 5 volts. Its purpose is to help me design digital pattern generators that will respond (usually) to one or more analog signals taken from the environment.

Here is another open section where boards may be inserted to try them out. That still needs more work.

Deliveries

I wanted a better webcam in case I had reason to use one over this period or later. So I ordered one and asked for it to be delivered by the second business day (Fedex). The driver, however, could not get into my building because the managers have not been unlocking the door when they’re in the office, like they usually do. For some reason he didn’t think to (or couldn’t) call me so I could let him in, so it’s the third business day and the camera remained undelivered.

I decided to go out to the Fedex facility and pick it up. It wasn’t hard, though it took about two hours by bus. Right now the bus drivers have to wear masks and all the passengers have to enter and exit via the back door (unless they are wheelchair types). Most people are taking it pretty well, but I think it’s crazy.

My electronics parts orders have been coming through pretty well, though. The USPS has no problem delivering the mail, and orders from California only take two days to get here, so that’s working for me.

Is the way out the way through?

This is an old saying used in Scientology, but actually broadly applicable. It means that if you have something hanging around that’s bothering you, it’s only there because you didn’t confront it well enough the first time you ran into it. The only way to get rid of it is to confront it more thoroughly.

While some doctors, including that Fauci dude, remain almost studiously ambivalent about this particular disease, the fact is that we wouldn’t be alive on Earth today if we didn’t have some natural way to build up immunity against all the pathogens floating around in the environment. And so, while it takes its toll on us to one degree or another, we will build up our immunity to this one, the next one, and a few more after that (I hope).

The doctors who do talk about immunity and the immune system as the way through this thing are oddly ignored by some of the others who want drugs or a vaccine to handle it. This has led some of them to wonder out loud if the medical establishment has some “agenda” it’s trying to push forward (to make more money and gain more control), and from all I’ve heard and read, this is quite possible.

What I know for sure is: This disease needs to run its course, and people need to get back to what they were doing to earn money and make things go right. You can’t put the world on hold forever without killing it. Is that what those doctors want?

Here’s another photo of flowers. They don’t seem to be aware that there’s anything wrong.

yellow flowers

Life as Treatment

20 April 2020

This is intended to be a brief philosophic look at various approaches to life and its problems. It is provoked, perhaps, by the material I am studying right now, along with our current social situation.

When we think of “treatments” we usually think of medicine. What has now become the tradition in Medicine (though the profession seems to prefer to call itself “scientific” with the implication that this is not “traditional”) is to identify a disease or disorder or condition that accounts for the symptoms the patient is complaining about, then find a proper treatment that will lessen the symptoms or make them go away.

Ideally the treatment “cures” the problem and the patient is healthy again, or at least back to his or her previous level of health. But if the problem continues, it is common to simply continue the treatment. Some problems, it seems, can’t be cured.

Condition: Being alive in a human body

My studies have informed me that “being human” is actually a non-optimum condition. Everyone accepts is as normal because most are unaware that there are any better alternatives. Indeed, some might not agree that there are any “better” alternatives, even assuming they were aware of any. There are some among us who have become aware of alternatives and have deliberated on this question. For most of us, living in a human body is the baseline, normal thing that we all do.

However, we can see it as a “chronic” condition, and identify certain “treatments” that are required to maintain the “patient’s” health:

  • Feed the body using the most nutritious food available, and water.
  • Protect the body with clothing, heat or cooling, and shelter.
  • Make sure the body has some way to get around (transport).
  • Give the body enough sleep or rest.
  • Give the body sufficient exercise or vigorous work.

In fact, our entire economy is anchored on these necessary “treatments” for the condition of “having a biological body.” If you didn’t have a body, you wouldn’t need money to keep the body treated so it would remain healthy. You might still want to enjoy the entertaining or “fun” aspects of human life. And those cost money, too (for the most part). So not having a biological body might not make an economy totally unnecessary, but it would be an economy based on entertainment, not on food, shelter, etc.

Condition: Body not feeling good

For this, we usually go to a doctor to get “treated.” Most “scientific” doctors use medicines as treatments, though we somehow survived for thousands of years without modern medicines. This suggests there may be more to treating unhealthy bodies than mere medicine.

We have found that there are many body conditions that will “heal,” often without even the help of a doctor. While others seem to persist or get worse once they start. Many doctors, I think, believe, that we just have to find better medicines and this will make more conditions totally curable.

Meanwhile, they are content to take in considerable sums for those treatments, whether they lead to a cure or not. My personal opinion is that doctors shouldn’t get paid if they can’t effect a cure.

Condition: Feel sad

The field of “mental health” has become a special category of physical health. This is only because the people currently in charge of this field decided that they should be doctors and treat mental problems the way doctors treat physical problems. This was a bad decision, but they don’t seem to care that much. The general public seems perfectly happy with this system as well. After all, it all comes under the general heading of Having a Biological Body.

Oddly (I think) these “doctors” tend to see mental health problems as treatable, but not curable. I think they are just greedy and lazy. But the general public tend to agree with this rendition of the problem, because there is a consensus that life is a condition that requires treatment, but cannot be “cured.”

Condition: Dead

Though there is no widely accepted treatment or cure for this condition, it should be noted that a few people every now and then have recovered from it. In other words, their bodies were clinically “dead” for a while and then they became alive again.

This fact opens up the possibility that the general public – and physicians in particular – have overlooked something about death (and life, needless to say) that they should really know more about. Only a very few have not overlooked this and they, for the most part, were rudely ousted from their chosen professions as somehow “unfit.” Hubbard, of course, was one such person.

Condition: Stupid or uninformed on some subject

The “treatment” most people accept for this condition is called “education.” It is one of the most widely praised treatments that society has made available to its members. Traditionally (now, in, say the last 100 years or so, but not before that) this treatment consisted of going to school for roughly 12 years, then if you survived that in some sort of good state, continuing to go to school for a number of years more.

Most schools still utilize “grades” which are a method of evaluating for the student how well he or she has learned some particular subject. They also use “teachers,” who are considered somehow necessary to education even though there are so many books (now) written on so many subjects that no one could possibly ever read them all, but could possibly read some subset of them and become quite adept at certain skills with no help from a “teacher” at all. The “teachers” in that case would be the authors of the books!

That the alternate form of education outlined above has occurred successfully – and perhaps is the most successful form of education – seems to have escaped the notice of people who think you have to have schools where teachers teach subjects to students.

The failure of society in general, and those in charge in particular, to realize that education consists mostly of looking to see what is there, studying it with enough care to gain some proficiency with it, then practicing those learned skills until one becomes adept, is a big reason why a number of people aren’t gainfully employed, are barely literate, or are incompetent at their jobs.

The ability to recognize and apply the above data about education has led to some persons, by the age of 14 – some even younger, competently able to do “adult” work.

Condition: Constant improvement

This condition, in this world, is considered by most to be impossible. All you can expect is to grow up, get a job, make it through a lifetime having more or less fun and bearing more or less responsibility, then getting old, then sick, then dead.

Most still believe that this is all there is, even though it has been amply demonstrated now that this isn’t all there is.

Though many, given the choice, would still choose to play the game of biological life on Earth, most aren’t aware they have a choice. Well, that’s just not true; they do have a choice.

It is my hope that more and more will learn this fact and act on it. Then life will become less and less treatment and more and more game. Isn’t that what most of us really want?

Flower Show

19 April 2020

Flowers continue to dominate the American River Parkway bike trail experience.

The buckeyes are now starting to bloom.

buckeye

If you are familiar with horse chestnuts and these flowers look familiar to you, it’s because they are very closely-related plants. They are also in the same family as maple trees.

Lupine is huge in the upper part of the parkway right now. I’m not sure why the lower part (nearer Sacramento) is so different.

lupine

Behind this field of lupine are the ever-present California poppies.

The above is a zoom shot, and at first I thought the gold-colored flowers in back might be hawkweed. But that grows mostly in small patches close to the trail.

hawkweed

Not to be confused with dandelions, a close relative that grows in moister locations, like lawns.

dandelions

Vetch is in full bloom now, and is widely seen along the length of the trail.

vetch with more poppies

More poppies – just can’t get away from them! Notice how these vetch flowers whiten in their lower parts after being out for a while. This is apparently a natural variation, but may have to do with sunlight, as flowers I saw that were more shaded didn’t have this much white.

The thistles are just starting to flower. They will likely continue into the summer. Most plants in the Aster family, particularly native varieties, are quite hardy and tend to continue flowering for some time.

blue thistle

Further down the trail, cow parsnip starts to make an appearance, along with some other wild umbellifers like wild fennel (or anise).

cow parsnip

These are related to carrots, celery and parsley.

The elderberries are just beginning to flower. These are probably the “blue” variety that can be batter-fried and eaten.

elderberry

There is a “red” variety that is too toxic to eat safely.

This manroot, featured in the photos from my last trip, was climbing up on the elderberry bushes, so easy to photograph.

manroot

I will end this little flower show with a full shot of a single lupine. These are supposedly native in this area, but I’ve never seen so many growing together as I’ve seen on the upper part of this trail near Folsom.

lupine

Stay Safe

16 April 2020

At the end Jim says, “be safe.”

A viable alternative to the oft-heard salutation “stay safe.”

This expression, as have many others I’ve heard, arose – apparently – in my lifetime.

Here is a Google n-gram graph for the expression:

n-gram for "stay safe"

According to this graph, this expression doesn’t get off the ground until around 1990.

Others I have heard include: “quick,” as in, “quick question;” “no problem;” “dude” and of course all the other Valley phrases like “gag me with a spoon,” “whatever” and others.

These are in a sense “memes” or imitated behaviors. Though this didn’t start in the 1900s, it has greatly increased since the rise of the internet, and then social media following that.

Culture changes

Some of these are just silly slang words mostly (see Valleyspeak). But others seem to have acquired some cultural significance, and have been legitimized by “leaders” at least as old as I am, simply on the grounds that they express some popular sentiment, or possibly for the purpose of making that sentiment more popular.

For example, references to doing things “quick” or faster often seem to refer to a perception that we have to move faster these days in order to keep up. The environment is sometimes characterized as a “fast-paced world.” Which, per the n-gram viewer, did not exist as an expression in English until 1966!

Here we see the abstract of a study about “Pace of Life.”

This study compared the pace of life in large cities from 31 countries around the world. Three indicators of pace of life were observed: average walking speed in downtown locations, the speed with which postal clerks completed a simple request (work speed), and the accuracy of public clocks. Overall, pace of life was fastest in Japan and the countries of Western Europe and was slowest in economically undeveloped countries. The pace was significantly faster in colder climates, economically productive countries, and in individualistic cultures. Faster places also tended to have higher rates of death from coronary heart disease, higher smoking rates, and greater subjective well-being. Discussion focuses on how the pace of life is intertwined with the social-psychological and community characteristics of a culture, and the central role of pace of life in defining the personality of a place and its people.

Levine, R. V., & Norenzayan, A. (1999). The Pace of Life in 31 Countries. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 30(2), 178–205. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022022199030002003

It is ironic that people perceive themselves to have greater well-being while at the same time dying more from heart disease and related problems. But perhaps this perception, though apparently illogical, really indicates how people feel.

And so with the expression “stay safe.”

The whole subject of “terrorism” doesn’t really get started in literature, per the n-gram viewer, until the 1980s. In 1940 there was one violent incident at a school that resulted in 5 deaths. The perpetrator was on bromide, a pain killer. It was not until 1966 that another act of mass terrorism would occur at a US school. That perpetrator was later found to have a brain tumor, and was taking drugs to deal with headaches. The Columbine School incident did not happen until 1999, and Dr. Peter Breggin has cited psychiatric drugs as a key factor in that incident and in many that followed.

I had head about The Troubles in Northern Ireland, which included some of the earliest terrorist attacks I was aware of. These started around 1966. The Oklahoma City bombing happened in 1995. And of course we have the whole “war on terror” ramp-up starting at the end of 2001.

Meanwhile, we were seeing an increase of drug use – and drug pushing – in our country as well as in Europe and other places. This was accompanied by increased gang violence and some riots.

It is in this context that the idea of “stay safe” must have gathered enough real meaning to enough people to make it into the common phrase it is today.

Is “staying safe” really that great of an idea?

Ben Franklin’s take on a similar subject is often quoted:

Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

Ben Franklin in a letter to a Governor protesting the use of a tax increase to protect the state from Indian attacks.

If we were really that concerned about our safety would we:

Drive cars?

2.2 million injuries and fatalities per year from driving cars.

Do things that give us heart disease, cancer, diabetes or obesity?

The “average” American consumes over 100 pounds of sugar per year. That’s up from 5 pounds per year in the early 1800s. High fructose corn syrup wasn’t invented until 1965.

“Staying safe” seems to be rather at odds with enjoying life! Imagine that!

I wonder who would want us to enjoy life less by pretending that we are doing more things to keep us “safe.”

Toilet Paper – A Note

16 April 2020
toilet paper roll

There was a big thing a while back – and it still vibrates around the internet – involving all the extra toilet paper people were buying.

I was aware there was a problem with TP in the stores after this whole thing started. But I didn’t bother to read about it until later.

On 2 April a writer named Will Oremus (who seems like a very competent writer, by the way, and quite prolific) got an article published on “Marker” (a website featuring various stories) which quickly got pushed into my browser feed. This article sought to explain the TP problem.

First, he listed all the people and organizations who were making a big thing out of this being some sort of irrational hoarding behavior:

  • U.S. Health Secretary Alex Azar
  • the president of a paper manufacturer
  • psychologists
  • the BBC
  • the Mises Institute
  • The Atlantic

Then he brings out the person who probably got it right: Jim Luke, a professor of economics at Lansing Community College, who once worked as head of planning for a wholesale paper distributor.

In the following week (April 10), NPR interviewed professor Luke on the same subject.

Our intrepid writer also contacted a person from Georgia-Pacific to confirm this theory.

The theory is: More people are staying a home. Thus, more toilet paper is needed at home. Less is needed in schools and businesses, and they get their TP from totally different sources (usually) than home dwellers. People were just preparing for more bathroom use in their houses, and this pushed the whole supply chain out of adjustment, because it is built on the assumption that demand for TP at home remains very constant.

Irrational behavior? I think not! Just a new (temporary) need not artfully handled. End of story!

My Latest Big Project

16 April 2020
open side of pattern generator and serializer

I have been working on my latest project for about a week straight now. It’s finally in a usable form.

This project has several purposes behind it. First, I needed a pattern generator to test LED arrays that would output very ordinary patterns, nothing fancy, just so I could tell if the display was working. Second, I needed the output to be serialized to simplify connection of the display to the signal source. Third, I wanted to use as many old boards as I could, rather than junk them.

This project incorporates about a dozen old boards that were taken out of “dead” projects and gathering dust on my bench. They all had to be re-worked for this project. It also incorporates some older pattern generation circuits as a way of preserving a technology I have not been using recently.

Here is another shot of the project:

new project showing front panel

Here we can see the front panel which has four main knobs, DIN connectors for the serial signal output, and some other controls.

Added Control Systems

This was an ambitious project for me basically because of the additional front panel controls that I would not put on equipment unless it was being used to test other equipment.

Besides the four voltage-controlled oscillators (VCOs) that have been fairly standard in my eArt projects, there is a pattern selector that is implemented by a rotating “click” knob that I got off an old mobile radio. This gives me about 64 different possible combinations using just one knob.

The other thing I wanted to implement was the ability to isolate just one section of a pattern and show only that on the display. For this I used an old 4-bit binary rotary switch that I had laying around (making 16 possible choices) and some comparison logic using the infamous “XOR” (exclusive OR) gate, also known as a binary adder. This gate, basically, has one output (“0”) if the two inputs match and another output (“1”) if the two inputs are different. AND the outputs together (after inverting them), and you see if two binary numbers match for as many bits as you need or want.

As a geeky aside, I made use of the fact that binary AND and OR are complementary functions. Thus, you can accomplish a binary AND on the outputs of the XOR gates without inverting them first (to make a match = “1” instead of “0”) using an OR gate, which then gives you a “0” output only when there is a match (when all inputs are “0”). Invert that, and you get a “1” for a match. In my case I needed the “0” to show a match!

I also wanted to choose between the “legacy” patterns that I built into this project and the “simple” patterns used for test purposes. For this I used a 4-bit selector IC. One can make a “tree” of these ICs and select from as many different inputs as one wants.

I don’t build these sort of control circuits that much, so I had to do a bit of head-scratching along the way.

My bench and a few closeups

The project on my work bench

I don’t photograph my bench that often because it looks so messy. But here we see my current setup with the project and one of my displays on it.

To the left is a small oscilloscope and you can see its two test leads hanging down from little hooks. In the center is one of my numerous parts cabinets. Behind the project is a work light and a soldering iron. Above the light is a digital meter I bought used (highly recommended for an electronics bench) and above that a rack chassis full of power supplies. The supply with the panel lit up is the one I use the most.

my bench power supply

It produces four different voltages, 5, 7.5, 9 and 12. I use 5 volts the most. The panel had room for two meters (eBay specials!) so I can monitor more than one output at a time if I need to. Here it shows my five volt connection switched on and drawing 38 milliamps. With CMOS logic, most of the circuitry draws close to zero power. Most of this current draw is from the oscillators.

The 12 volt meter shows 18 mA current draw. This is from the panel meters themselves. It was easier to power them from one of the four supplies, rather than adding another just for them.

pattern generator set up in demonstration area

Here we see the pattern generator installed in its case and running the same display. This is in the “demonstration” area of my room.

closeup of the panel

There is room for another panel section above the one I used. You can also see the binary rotary switch set to “A” which is ten in hexadecimal.

8 spirals display

Here is “8 spirals,” one of my more colorful displays. All the lights should be lit in this pattern, but you can see that there are two lights having problems.

Poor Images

11 April 2020

With a broken play on words, I introduce some of my photos from today’s trip back from Folsom. Was my camera giving me trouble or was I the problem? Hopefully this question is not important enough to answer at this time…

hummingbird on dead branch

Hummingbirds don’t often pose for me, but one did today. Still, I used all the optical zoom I could plus a crop of the photo to bring this little one this close.

people on the trail

This photo of some of the other trail users features a young man riding what seems to be a giant scooter. I’m not sure if it was motorized.

old cut in river bank

This is one of several cuts into the sandstone bank of the river that were likely made many years ago to facilitate gold mining operations.

manroot fruit

Though this would normally be called “wild cucumber,” it appears to be the related plant Manroot.

deer feeding on young leaves

There must be something in the young tree leaves or flowers that attracts this deer, as forage is abundant this time of year.

head of bluebird

This bluebird was also posing for me in this tree, but I failed to point my camera correctly, catching only its head. This bird is probably here because of the nearby nest boxes put out as part of a habitat restoration project.

jackrabbit running away

Likewise here, I had several good opportunities to get a profile of this jackrabbit, but ended up only with a shot of its rear. I have seen this animal in this area before, but they are very rare in these parts, and I consider myself lucky to have noticed it at all.

the clouds thin

By lunchtime, the clouds started thinning, as predicted. This is at the William B. Pond Recreation Area. Sometimes horse riders come here, as there’s plenty of parking space and some nice short trails.

horses at William B. Pond

This lady told me that the horses like having their pictures taken.

locust tree

I just call this tree a “locust,” but it’s probably a Black Locust. It is in the Legume family, related to the Acacias, Brooms, Clovers, Peas, etc. The flowers are striking as they bloom, but usually don’t last long.

men work on power lines

There are two sets of power lines that run basically north-to-south through this part of the county. I believe this was the “first” set of lines (more to the east). I never see these lines worked on. It is fairly uncommon, as you have to turn the power off to do it, and that’s a lot of power (about 300,000 volts at some hundreds of amps).

sundrops flower

This Sundrops plant was blooming! It’s a yellow Evening Primrose, and I last noticed in the late summer last year.

As I headed into the city, I saw more turkeys at the arboretum, but I already have a bunch of better photos of turkeys posted. Next stop was at the train tracks.

freight train going through midtown sacramento

This line runs through midtown (around 20th) and is used a lot. Fortunately, this train wasn’t very long.

In other news…

The most surprising thing (I think) that came to my attention recently was the fact that the U.S. now has a Space Force. The plan is to make it an independent branch of the Armed Forces, operating under the Air Force Department of the DOD.

I found out about this because I get newsletters from a bunch of electronics trade magazines and sites, and a recent featured article covered the story of how the Space Force is upgrading their near-earth radar systems so they can track more orbiting space objects.

I understand that a lot of people aren’t thrilled with the U.S. decision to militarize space. They don’t want to see space weaponized, as we already have enough trouble with land-based weapons. There is a United Nations treaty to this effect. However, with no space-capable fighters yet visible, these objections seem a bit premature. The current mission of the new branch consists mostly of protecting our most vital assets in space, like the GPS satellites.

There have been multiple stories released since the Air Force Space Command was established in 1982 concerning what might be “out there” besides our own satellites and space probes. No one is officially talking about that these days, though Reagan talked about the “other possibility” at least four times in public, so that keeps the fires burning under the story that there is more to our Space Force than meets the eye.

Space Force Seal in bad taste?

There has been some problem with the logo, or “seal” as it is called, for the new unit. Some Star Trek fans seem to feel that it might have been stolen from that show (late 1960s). However, the show’s emblem was purposely based on NASA’s emblem, which had been around since 1959. The main problem remains that the Starfleet was considered a non-military (mostly) activity sponsored by a federation of planets that had established peaceful relations among themselves. This was a central tenet of the original series, an appeal to viewers to embrace the diversity of races and cultures on Earth and abandon the Cold War and other types of war. With the implementation of our new Space Force, we have turned and walked defiantly off in a different direction, or so it appears.

Here is the “seal:”

U.S. Space Force Seal

April’s Fools

4 April 2020
people at the light rail stop Friday morning

In anticipation of more rain today (Saturday) I (again) went out to do my grocery shopping in Folsom on Friday. Just a few people needing transport hung around the light rail station – about normal for non-rush times on this line.

empty light rail car

By the time we got to Folsom, everyone else had debarked.

bridge on trail with bikers

I very seldom take shots of the general area that the bike trail goes through. This is a foot bridge across an inlet on the little lake used for boat racing by university student athletes. As you can see, there are plenty of people out on bikes.

further down the river trail

Further down the trail there are both walkers and bikers.

more people on the trail

And on this very picturesque section of the trail much closer to town, still more walkers and bikers.

More Flowers

fiddlenecks

I got a nice clear photo of the fiddlenecks.

vetch

And another of some vetch. There is a lot of this along the trail; most of it will bloom out a little later.

collinsias

And I couldn’t resist taking more pictures of the little hill full of Collinsias. These are also interspersed with Lupine.

Then down at the Aquatic Park I decided to take a closer look at the tree I’d seen last week full of big yellow flowers. I have been unable to identify this tree. Obviously it has a horticultural source, as this is the only specimen I have ever seen.

unidentified tree with big yellow flowers

California poppies continue to proliferate, particularly on sun-baked slopes.

California poppies along the river

Flowering dogwood is a familiar site in other climates this time of year, but it thrives only in gardens here in Sacramento.

flowering dogwood in town

These streets were full of these small trees, and they were full of flowers. Quite a display! This was taken by the way in the “40’s” neighborhood, streets 40 through 49. It’s a very nice part of town.

Animals in motion

A swallowtail posed patiently for me, but my camera refused to focus on its black body. The image below is cropped out of a wider shot.

swallowtail butterfly

The turkeys were chasing a hen, but I was moving a little when I snapped this, if they weren’t.

male turkeys chasing a hen

Pandemic News

The Germans got their testing started early, with almost 100,000 confirmed cases at this point, and 1,500 deaths. That would be a fatality rate of about 1.5%, but doctors there think that number will rise. According to reports I’ve seen, ordinary flu kills at about 1/10th of that rate.

My friend Patrick who was visiting Malaysia and afraid of getting stuck there managed to get on the next-to-the-last plane from Malaysia to Japan. He likes Japan and trusts that country to handle the pandemic brightly.

He recommended “Last Plane Out” as the theme song for his adventure and possibly this whole episode of history. It was written by Kevin Gilbert (a short-lived professional musician born in Sacramento in 1966) and recorded by his band Toy Matinee, getting some airplay around 1990.