Monthly Archives: December 2017

Picture of the Moment—I’m just a hairy guy, morning, noon & night

Picture of the Moment

Yesterday Jim & I went to the San Diego Zoo for two purposes: to visit the finally completed, now open Conrad Prebys Africa Rocks exhibit; and to test out my new Tamron 90mm macro lens on the plants.

If you ever go to the San Diego Zoo, slow down and look around because the Zoo is both a world-renowned botanical garden and a world-renowned zoo.

I’m heading back to the Zoo momentarily with my Tamron 16-300 daily walkaround lens to get pictures of Africa Rocks. Meanwhile, here’s a picture from yesterday that encouraged me to return today with the zoom lens:

Daddy, Mommy & Baby Baboon
Baboon family at the San Diego Zoo

Get a load of the hair on daddy! Straight out of the Summer of Love!

I should come back with many hundreds of pictures that I’ll be able to use for future blog posts, so if you aren’t following me yet, now might be the time!

Happy New Year’s Eve to all!

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Picture of the Moment—Meet Robyn Gordon Grevilla

Picture of the Moment

My new macro lens is a 90mm lens, which means that I can capture things that are a fairly good distance away.

Couple that with the fact that my camera takes pictures that are 6000 pixels by 4000 pixels, add in the ability to crop in Photoshop, and the following two pictures show what is possible.

Original Picture
Original picture

Doesn’t look like much, does it? But look at the cropped picture:

Cropped Picture
Cropped picture

Apparently its name is Robyn Gordon Grevilla.

I’m really liking my new macro lens.

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Friday Flower Fiesta (12-29-17)—Macro pictures

Friday Flower Fiesta

I have never done any type of photography that involved people. No portraits, no weddings, no graduations, no reunions. I just didn’t want the hassle of dealing with people.

I never did certain other types of photography, like macro photography, because I deemed the equipment to be too expensive relative to the results. That has changed. Recently I saw some extraordinarily awesome macro photographs using a lens that was within my price range: the Tamron 90mm F/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 VC USD. Sure glad they never named cars like that!

I bought one.

Following is my first set of pictures taken with my new macro lens. You just knew they were going to be either plants or Zoey the Cool Cat, yes? Well, Zoey the Cool Cat was not being cooperative so you’ll just have to make do with macro pictures of these plants. Happy Friday!

Many people think the red things are the flowers.
They are not. Those are flower brachts.
The green things here are the flower buds
but the flowers aren’t much bigger.
The flowers are what plant people call “insignificant.”Poiinsettia

African violet
I learned a lot about nature after my wise old grandmother adopted me
in December 1965. One of her joys was her collection of African Violets. Although I have an extraordinarily green thumb, I never could get
African Violets to do well after I bought them. Until this year.
This little one is on its second bloom cycle with me.
African violet

Aeonium ‘Sunburst’
I am a huge fan of Aeoniums, and this is one of my favorites.
Aeonium 'Sunburst'

Mother of Thousands (Kalanchoe delagoensis)
This has been one of my favorite plants since I was 11.
Little plantlets grow on the edge of the leaves.
They drop off, hit the ground, and start their own lives.
This particular one is ‘Pink Butterflies.”Mother of Thousands

I have no idea what this is and the pot I bought it in didn’t have a name
other than “Succulent.” As a friend of mine who owns a succulent nursery
likes to say about plant names, “Who cares? If you like it, buy it.”
I bought it.

Milkwort (Polygala myrtifolia)
Seven of these plants were growing at our new home.
Since I think they are kind of pretty, I kept them.

Pussy Willow (Salix sp.)
When I lived in northern Utah (1961-1965),
pussy willows grew everywhere. I liked them.
They are long lasting and look great in a large vase.
This is from a group that I bought in 1999.
Pussy willow

These last three pictures are Osteospermum flower buds.
I was experimenting with various f/stop settings
to give me different depths of field.



Which one is your favorite?

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The system is broken

Did you know?

A friend posted this meme on Facebook this morning:

Bob Corker

I can explain that.

I had U.S. Senator Phil Gramm as my Economics 301 professor at Texas A&M University in Spring 1976. At that time, he was Professor Phil Gramm. He was 34 and had a tenured position at $125,000 annual salary.

He went into politics in 1978 and retired as a U.S. Senator in November 2002. Twenty-five years in politics as a United States Congressman and then  United States Senator. Newspapers throughout the nation reported that he was retiring with $64 million in his “campaign war chest.” He got to keep that. Didn’t have to turn it over to the federal or state government, and I didn’t get a nickel back of my many financial contributions over the years.

So let’s do the math:

Tenured salary from age 34 to 65: $125,000 x 32 years = $4,000,000.

Politician: 1978-2002. Campaign war chest: $64,000,000. Excludes 24 years of salaries as U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator, and excludes annual retirement salary.

See how that works?

Now you know why rich people like the Kennedys, the duPonts, and my own rich-now-career-politician Darrell Issa, and so many others, go into politics. They have no desire to serve the public. Their only desire is to get even wealthier than they already were, get great health care courtesy of the government, and only have to work half the year. Of course, I have a different definition of work.

The system is broken, and has been broken for a very long time. The only thing we can do, in my opinion, is do away with career politicians. If eight years is good enough for the presidency, it should be good enough for all other political positions.

Many would argue for term limits. That’s almost a fix, but not quite. Here’s why: We have term limits for many city, county, and state positions here in California. Not federal positions, though. Most of the term limits are for eight years. Here’s how career politicians work the system:

Russel Ray is elected to the City Council and serves eight years before being termed out.

No problem. With name recognition, Russel Ray is elected to the County Board of Supervisors and serves eight years before being termed out.

No problem. Still with name recognition, Russel Ray is elected Mayor of San Diego and serves eight years before being termed out.

No problem. Now with experience governing a major city, Russel Ray is elected to the California House of Representatives and serves eight years before being termed out.

No problem. Now with state-wide name recognition, Russel Ray is elected to the California State Senate and serves eight years before being termed out.

No problem. Russel Ray runs for the United States House of Representatives but since this is his first federal election, he loses to the incumbent.

No problem. The next year Russel Ray is elected back to the California House of Representatives and serves four years before running for the seat of the retiring United States Congressperson whom he lost to four years earlier. He is elected. Many politicians lose the first time they run for a federal office, 90% of the time to the incumbent. Not until the incumbent retires does someone else inherit the office. Now Russel Ray is in a federal position, which has no term limits, until he decides to retire.

See how that works?

There’s not a single politician willing to fix the system because that would mean voting themselves out of extremely well-paying jobs with great benefits. Regardless of party affiliation, why would they do that? It reminds me of another meme about the current administration of morons governing America:

You're a special kind of stupid

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….and I had a college degree

Did you know?

According to the USPS, I now live in El Cajon CA, hometown of Jimmie Johnson, 2-time winner of the Daytona 500 as well as 7-time champion of the NASCAR Cup Series.

When I first started exploring El Cajon after moving out here, I discovered Jimmie Johnson Drive. It’s an extraordinarily busy main thoroughfare so I wasn’t able to get this picture until yesterday when I was on foot nearby after all the morning rush-hour traffic had dissipated and the traffic signals at both intersections were cooperating.

Jimmie Johnson Drive in El Cajon, California

Johnson’s rookie year was 1998, and, yes, he did win Rookie of the Year. Arguably, Jimmie Johnson’s best year was 2006 when he won the NASCAR Cup Series, the NASCAR All-Star Race, the Daytona 500,  the Brickyard 400, and his first Driver of the Year.

His first big year in terms of wins was 2003 when he won the NASCAR All-Star Race and the first of three consecutive Coca-Cola 600 races. He also came in third at the Daytona 500, on February 16, for which he won $717,526. His total earnings for 2003 were $7,745,530.

For the rest of the story, though, we need to go back to 2002 when he earned $3,788,268.  That’s a lot of money, and Johnson was living in a modest El Cajon home, which he decided to sell.

In early 2003 I, a home inspector at the time, got a call from prospective Clients, and agreed to do their home inspection for them. Whenever I scheduled a home inspection, I would always look up the public records to see how old the home was and who the owners were. The age would tell me a lot about the systems I would be inspecting, and knowing the owner’s name would allow me to address the owner properly (Mr., Mr. & Mrs., Miss, Dr.) if the owner happened to be there.

The owner in this case was Jimmie Johnson. Well, Jimmie and Johnson are somewhat common names, so no big deal. However, when I got to the house, there was a race car in the garage, being worked on, and racing trophies everywhere inside. That’s when I knew it was the one and only Jimmie Johnson.

I have been interested in racing ever since my second semester at Texas A&M University in Spring 1974. Terry LaBonte was one of my rampmates in Puryear Hall (sadly, Puryear and its mirror sister, Law, were demolished in 1997). Terry’s younger brother, Bobby, also got into racing, and both were extraordinarily successful. Terry & Bobby were from Corpus Christi, Texas, and since I was from Kingsville, 40 miles farther south towards the Mexico border, I had something in common with them. Our high schools were rivals.

Although Terry was enrolled at Texas A&M University, he wasn’t there much. He went home every weekend, or to Houston, to race in the local circuits there. Our rampmates didn’t understand why he was even at Texas A&M because he had no interest in anything that didn’t have something to do with cars and racing. Ultimately he did drop out of college and went full time on the racing circuit.

Terry’s first race as a professional was the 1978 Southern 500 (where he came in fourth and won $9,875) and his first win was the 1980 Southern 500. He won $222,501 in 1980. In comparison, I made something like $40,000 in 1980, and I had a college degree….

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Music on Mondays (12-18-17)—Ram on

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

As many readers will remember, I listen to my non-classical music collection in chronological order. My earliest recording is from 1903: March of the Toys (Babes in Toyland) by Victor Herbert & His Orchestra. My most recent recording is Full Circle, released by Great White in June 2017.

When it comes to my Lost on a Desert Island CD, my earliest recording that I’m taking with me is I Walk the Line, released by Johnny Cash in 1956. It was the first song that I could sing along with on the radio because I knew all the words. I was one year old in 1956. Don’t worry. They were still playing it on the radio in 1961, which is when I remember singing it in the car in Palestine, Texas.

Singing is a significant part of the music on my Lost on a Desert Island CD. That doesn’t really surprise me because I love to sing. It’s hard to sing along to Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture or The Nutcracker.

Part of my reason for creating my Lost on a Desert Island CD is because I thought it would help me determine what my favorite albums are, and if I could identify my favorite albums, I’m pretty sure they would point me to my favorite groups.

When I started this project, I was pretty sure that The Beatles and The Who were my top two groups. Although I’m in July 1982 right now, I’m questioning whether or not my assumption about The Beatles and The Who is true.

I can definitively tell you that the year that will have the most songs on my Lost on a Desert Island CD will be 1971. Although I have more hours of music from later years, the songs were much longer so I probably have fewer songs on fewer albums, but they happen to be long songs on long albums.

Here are the years and the number of songs on my CD:

1956 – 2
1958 – 1
1959 – 2
1960 – 3
1964 – 2
1965 – 18
1966 – 35
1967 – 28
1968 – 36
1969 – 22
1970 – 53
1971 – 68
1972 – 59
1973 – 42
1974 – 48
1975 – 53
1976 – 34
1977 – 36
1978 – 36
1979 – 50
1980 – 21
1981 – 42

So far the top album is Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, released by The Beatles in 1968. There are 13 songs on the album; 12 are on my CD. The only song missing is the reprise of the title song.

Interestingly, the #2 album so far is Ram, released by Paul & Linda McCartney in 1971. There are 12 songs on the album; 11 are on my CD. The only song missing is the 56-second reprise of “Ram On.”

I can definitively state that no other album will come close to those two.

So, for Lost on a Desert Island, 1971, part 1, following is the complete Ram album by Paul & Linda McCartney. I could not find any YouTube videos that allowed embedding, so you’ll have to click on the link and listen to it on YouTube.–MuJM

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Friday Flower Fiesta (12-15-17)—San Diego winter roses

Friday Flower Fiesta

My wise old grandmother often told me that if you meet a plant’s specific needs for water, light, and temperature, you can grow anything anywhere. That, of course, is why we have greenhouses.

Here in San Diego, with our Mediterranean climate, we don’t have to worry much about light and temperature. It’s the water that often is the deciding factor for whether or not we can grow something, especially outdoors.

There is a rose garden over in Balboa Park, and except when the rose experts come along in February and March and destroy all the roses by cutting them back, they bloom year round. Following are pictures of roses in the Balboa Park rose garden taken a few days ago.

Which are your favorites?





















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Music on Mondays (12-11-17)—Lost on a desert island in 1970, part 2

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

There will be no more Beatles songs from here forward so I’ll be able to include YouTube videos for all songs.

Following are the next 22 songs from 1970 that I would take with me if there were a possibility of being lost on a desert island.

In The Summertime by Mungo Jerry
#3 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
Over 30 million copies sold, making it one of the best-selling singles ever.

Mean Mistreater by Grand Funk
From their album Closer To Home
This song and the next were on their album Mark, Don & Mel: 1969-1971
which I received as a birthday present in 1973 (my 18th)
and which started me on my hard rock journey.

I’m Your Captain (Closer To Home) by Grand Funk
From their album Closer To Home

Make It With You by Bread
#1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
Their only #1 hit, surprisingly to me.

Green-eyed Lady by Sugarloaf
#3 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
I won an Oldies Contest in 1992 by naming this song in 3 notes.

All Right Now by Free
#4 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
Received one million radio plays in the U.S. in 1989
and three million air plays in 2006.

I Think I Love You by The Partridge Family
#1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
Dare I admit that this song was a natural for me
since I had my first girlfriend in 1970?

Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin
#16 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
The first of one of their few singles.

The Tears Of A Clown by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
#1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
First released on their 1967 album Makie It Happen

American Woman by The Guess Who
#1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
A hit with all my male friends, too,
since we all were 15 and looking for our American woman.

Share The Land by The Guess Who
#10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100

My Sweet Lord by George Harrison
#1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
The subject of possibly the longest-running civil lawsuit in history,
February 1971 to March 1998, claiming copyright infringement
of He’s So Fine by The Chiffons.

What Is Life by George Harrison
#10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100

If Not For You by George Harrison
Written by Bob Dylan. Olivia Newton-John’s cover is the only
one with made it to the Billboard Hot 100, at #25.

Knock Three Times by Tony Orlando & Dawn
#1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100

Rose Garden by Lynn Anderson
#3 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
but a #1 hit on the Billboard country charts.

I Hear You Knocking by Dave Edmunds
#4 hit on the Billboard Hot 100

Joy To The World by Three Dog Night
#1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
Played after every home victory by the Denver Broncos,
although probably just the refrain. I can’t see them playing,
“Jeremiah was a bullfrog….”

Lucky Man by Emerson Lake & Palmer
#48 hit in 1970 on the Billboard Hot 100 and a #51 hit in 1973.
Listen to this song with headphones!

Blue Money by Van Morrison
#23 hit on the Billboard Hot 100

Truckin’ by The Grateful Dead
#64 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
Their highest charting single until 1987.

Lonely Days by the Bee Gees
#3 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
My California cousins got me hooked on the Bee Gees in 1968.

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