Posts Tagged ‘trees’

Untitled

14 September 2019

That’s what a painter calls a painting when he can’t figure out what it’s about, right? Or just doesn’t know what it’s about?

This is a short post touching on a diverse, perhaps unrelated, set of topics.

Miniature Steam Trains

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I pass by the park pictured above every Saturday on my way home from Folsom. I have noticed the miniature train tracks many times. But last week – I believe as a special event – the miniature train enthusiasts who use these tracks brought out some of their trains and rode them around. The group is called the Sacramento Valley Live Steamers Railroad Museum. It is a non-profit hobbyist group and they create all the trains and tracks, as well as maintain them.

Electronics

I wanted a sound-sensitive signal for my “Dial” series of electronic art pieces. Last week I started building a board that would give me such a signal. I have all the basic circuitry in place now. I seldom photograph my “development environment” so thought I would this time. The two odd things sticking out of the board are oscilloscope probes. I really needed an oscilloscope for this project, as timing is very important.

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Wildflowers and Acorns

While most plants in this area are dying back from the lasting heat of late summer, a few hardy composites (a huge family of plants including sunflower, goldenrod, daisies, dandelions, etc.) continue to flower or are just now beginning to flower. The first is a “tarweed.” I have shown it before. I am amazed that it continues to bloom, and in what seems to be a very dry field.

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The next is another flower I have shown before. For some reason I have had difficulty getting my camera to focus on this flower in closeup mode. Every week it’s still there, and I try taking a few more photos of it.

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This next one is just starting to bloom in some places along the trail. This photograph was taken at the site of a creek bed restoration project. These plants may get a little extra water in the summer. They are certainly growing vigorously at this site.

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Evergreen oaks dominate the forests and fields in this area, and they are producing acorns. I believe this is a blue oak. It looks similar to a live oak, but with less glossy leaves. These long acorns are sweeter than those produced by red oaks or black oaks. They were a huge food resource for the natives of the past, but very few people use them now. Acorn flour is commercially available, but very expensive. That may change some day.

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Sustainability versus the 2045 initiative

One way to “beat” climate change would be to bypass the need for biology on this planet. As batty as that may seem, there is a team of people – it seems to be a joint Russian and American project – working on doing just that.

I thought I might revisit this issue to see if anyone is still taking it seriously. This could be one reason that some sectors of society just don’t seem to be playing the sustainability game; they think they have another answer.

The problem is that it is actually a possible answer, but these guys don’t have it right. As long as they continue to not have it right, it’s basically just a con game to give a bunch of irresponsible researchers and engineers something to do while the planet falls apart around them.

In the West Ray Kurzweil is the project’s main spokesperson. And Oh Shit: He has been Google’s “director of engineering” since 2012. In Russia, Dmitry Itskov is the founder and key proponent of the movement. He has made billions in Russia with his media businesses. As of 2013 they had the Dalai Lama on board. But they have received no press since 2016, which was a thumbs down from the BBC. It is also reported that the late Jeffrey Epstein, accused of numerous sex crimes, also believed in transhumanism. That wasn’t exactly good press, either! Perhaps these boys have retreated to a safer position behind the secrecy which their non-governmental status affords them.

And as I said, right now they are no more than silver-tongued con men. The human personality already is immortal. Only the body is not. The body is currently a biological machine. It could be re-designed to be a non-biological machine. I suppose some of us, if not eventually all of us, could learn to live in a non-biological machine instead of a biological one. But it seems to me that before any of that happens, we need to get the basics of life correctly understood, and we need to rehabilitate our ability to be ethical. Machines could learn to fight and “kill” each other just like humans have. Maybe it would be fun. However, that’s not how we currently experience war and terrorism. I think we first need to learn how to live properly with the bodies we have before trying to move into new ones. And we need to learn to take care of planets, too.

However, given the data above, there may be something to my idea that some sector on this planet has an “alternative” to sustainability that they think will pull them through.

 

 

A Short Walk in Aruba

1 September 2019

Aruba lies on a diagonal (per conventional maps) in the south Caribbean Sea. On its sheltered southwest side live most of its people. A city called Oranjestad serves as its capital and main port. This is where I walked during my recent visit.

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For family and others that might have a sense of this, Aruba is just a bit larger than Beaver Island (largest island in Lake Michigan).

The climate in Aruba is similar to Sacramento. Average annual rainfall is just 19 inches, though this can vary considerably. Average temperature is in the 80s, and because it is so close to the equator, this varies little year round. Thus, the plants there do not really experience seasons, and I found many with new flowers, wilted flowers, and fruit all on the same plant at the same time. The island is at about 12 degrees north, compared to 38 degrees north for Sacramento and 32 degrees north for San Diego.

As mentioned earlier, it has a mixed Spanish/Dutch heritage (not including the original inhabitants who came from South America). Most islanders speak Papiamento as their first language, a Portuguese-based Creole brought in from Portuguese Africa. It also uses a lot of Spanish words and some Dutch words. And so we see the buildings that are typical of these towns have a Dutch-European flare:

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The above building is near the center of the shopping district, and the ones shown below are just a few blocks away.

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The shopping streets have the “nice” trees of this area, acacia and various others. Here is a typical acacia:

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Notice the pods, marking this plant as a legume. Legumes are known in the plant world as being “nitrogen fixing.” This means that they can serve as hosts to a kind of bacterium capable of removing nitrogen from air in the soil. The plant then uses this nitrogen in its leaves and seeds, also leaving much of it in nodules on its roots. When any of these plant parts die, they fertilize the soil, assuming the dead parts are left on (or in) the ground.

Here we have the flowers for this tree. You see here almost no petals. Unlike their cousins the locusts that grow farther north, the acacias are adapted to dry weather and that means different flowers.

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Here is another tree seen on the shopping streets. I have not been able to identify it.

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There was a persistent chirping coming from many of these trees, but it was difficult to identify its source. That is because the bird responsible for the noise is quite small and prefers to stay inside tree foliage. It is known as the bananaquit and is very common in these regions. I finally saw one sitting out on a palm across the street and did my best to get a picture of it.

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I walked out towards the edge of the shopping district, where buildings and plants changed a bit. The buildings got more run-down, and the plants became more indigenous. I don’t know about the animals, though!

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It seems these free-running chickens know to stay out of the shopping areas. This rooster is sitting in a tree that is very common in this area, and which I have identified as a tropical mesquite. Mesquites do well in arid regions. They are causing ranchers considerable trouble in the southern United States because they crowd out grazing grasses which feed cattle better and also hold soil better. But, that is a different issue.

Here the mesquite don’t seem to be causing any particular problems. And as they are also leguminous, we again have nitrogen fixing happening where they grow.

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Given the opportunity, mesquite will “lay down” and shade a considerable area. Notice also the traffic barriers, or bollards, which are seen all over these islands. Variations of these are used in many cities to deter vehicles from entering certain areas.

A closer look at these trees reveals the characteristic pinnately-compound leaf (arranged like a feather; pinna = feather) and seed pods.

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On photographing more of these trees, I came upon this odd image, mostly a shadow from my viewpoint. I brought out a little detail by running auto-color-correct on the image.

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As I continued my walk, I saw many more of these lizards, which all look basically like iguana to me.

I walked back into town along a sort of drainage ditch. It was well-kept but definitely had the appearance of a drain. Along the way I ran across several more showy plants and a few animals. I have not identified this tree with lovely yellow flowers:

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This, however, is a cordia. It has some other common names. According to articles, the fruit is edible but not tasty.

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Right at the water I found this bush, a seagrape.

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And hanging above my head, coconuts:

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In a park near the harbor for small boats, I saw this lizard. It did not seem too concerned about me being there, and was quite patient while I photographed it.

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Likewise, a brown pelican, sitting just a few feet away. The pelicans are just one of many sea birds that frequent the coast. Another one – more difficult to photograph – is the frigate bird, constantly soaring near shore.

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The harbor and similar tourist amenities weren’t stressed in this post, but here is a view of it:

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I found the area for the most part quiet and unchallenging. A nice place to go to “get away from it all.” It is not particularly pricey, though the cost of flying there can be several hundred dollars. For some, it is their favorite vacation destination.

 

 

 

Pictures From Recent Travels

4 November 2018

It’s finally time to sit down and share some photographs. These start in the hot days of August this year.

ICP redding

Our tent at the Incident Command Post near Redding.

20 Aug 2018 Redding scene

Open land near freeway in Redding. This is the same type of ecosystem that was being burned in the fires. Grass under scrub oak.

Redding dried flowers

Naturally dried asters in Redding.

bird on a wire

Dove on a wire near the Orland ICP, near Redding.

Redding Trader Joes

Smoke masks for handout in Redding.

By the following month I was back at another disaster site, this time in North Carolina.

storm damage removal

Storm damage removal site near Jacksonville, North Carolina.

fallen tree

Example of storm damage before the removal process.

after removal process

Example of what is left behind.

little lizard

Small lizard comes out to watch us at a park near the shore.

toy loader

Toy loader at one of our work sites.

boiling spring lakes

Clearing storm damage from a back yard.

damaged church

Work party at a church that suffered water damage.

tents at boiling spring lakes

Our setup at Boiling Spring Lakes, 6 October.

washed out dam

Washed out levee (dam) at Boiling Spring Lakes. This was an earthen structure constructed like a levee but functioning as a dam. The steel side rail to the road that used to run across the top of the dam can be seen hanging in midair. Behind, the lake that this dam used to create has completely emptied. The water drained into an area that is mostly a nature preserve, but did flood some houses.

VM team

Our hygiene kit handout team on 7 October.

sunset scene

We worked into the sunset at this site.

Then Hurricane Michael hit the Florida panhandle, so we went there to see how we could help.

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Scene at a rest stop on our way to Florida, 12 October.

bent steel beam

Storm damage in Panama City, Florida. This beam used to hold up a billboard.

I didn’t stay very long in Florida. We still have a team working there.

When I returned I decided to take my bike on the light rail north towards Folsom, do my grocery shopping at the Winco there, then ride back home through the American River Parkway. These photos are from the second week I made that trip.

buckeye

A mysterious tree near Folsom, American River Parkway.

buckeye fruit

The buckeye produces a large nut which is unfortunately inedible.

river confluence

View from bike trail where the American River flows into the Sacramento.

bike trail near old Sac

Trail / walkway between the American River Parkway and downtown Sacramento is squeezed in between roads and the river bank.

dia de los muertos

Stage decorations at a Dia De Los Muertos celebration in Old Sacramento (3 November).

ice rink

A winter-season ice rink adds some enjoyment to downtown life.