Monthly Archives: February 2020

Out & About—Strutting peacock video

Out & About

My speaking engagement on 2/13/20 with the San Gabriel Valley Cactus & Succulent Society occurred at the Los Angeles County Arboretum. They have a flock of peafowl there which seems to be growing. I counted 27 at one point but I could not get them all in one picture. Here’s my mostest:

Peafowl at the Los Angeles County Arboretum

If you’ve never seen a strutting peacock, including behind-the-scene action, here’s one for you from my time at the Los Angeles County Arboretum last week:

Out & About—San Andreas Fault

Out & About

I had speaking engagements this past week with the Bakersfield Cactus & Succulent Society (Tuesday) and the San Gabriel Valley (Los Angeles) Cactus & Succulent Society (Thursday). My topic was Nature’s Geometry in Succulents. Both meetings were evening meetings, so I had a lot of daylight both days to go touring. Not to mention all day Wednesday between the two meetings.

I had created a list of places to visit and things to do, leaving at 4:53 a.m. on 2/11/20 for final destination Bakersfield. Google Maps said it would take me 3 hours and 50 minutes to drive from San Diego to Bakersfield. Ha! It took ten hours! TEN HOURS! In defense of Google Maps, though, I stopped here, there, and everywhere to take pictures, pictures which will provide lots of future blogs posts. First on my list was the….

San Andreas Fault

I always have been fascinated with the creation of the Earth, never believing that God was finished creating it. Ergo, earthquakes and volcanoes.

Several years ago I bought a book by David K. Lynch titled Field Guide to the San Andreas Fault. It has twelve driving tours to view anything and everything related to the San Andreas Fault. I took Trip #3 through the San Gabriel Mountains, San Bernardino to Palmdale.

San Andreas Fault Trip #3

The San Andreas Fault crosses the drive at many points, but the spot I was particularly interested in was one where the fault crosses the road diagonally and is marked on both sides of the road by signs.

San Andreas Fault

San Andreas Fault

Even though that spot was at the top of my San Andreas Fault list, I found two other spots that were far more interesting. The first was where the fault created a rift. On the right side of the rift was the North American Tectonic Plate, and on the left side was the Pacific Tectonic Plate. In the picture below, the train is traveling south on the North American Plate, and I’m on the highway traveling north on the Pacific Plate. How appropriate since the North American Plate also is moving south and the Pacific Plate is moving north. Long-time readers know how infatuated I am with trains, so this picture is my favorite of the fault.

San Andreas Fault

As a former general contractor, Realtor, and home inspector (among other real estate ventures), I found the village of Wrightwood fascinating.

Wrightwood, California

There are 4,500 people in Wrightwood living at about 6,000 feet elevation. All of the houses appeared to be constructed completely of wood: framing, siding, and roofs. The reason is because wood flexes, so earthquake damage won’t be near as massive as it would be with concrete, brick, and stucco buildings.

Wrightwood, California

The fault runs directly through the village, creating offsets, sag ponds, and scarps. A sag pond is a body of fresh water collected in the lowest parts of a depression formed between two sides of a fault, mostly strike-slip faults. Sag ponds are quite common along the San Andreas Fault. Sag ponds have been converted into reservoirs for both livestock and public water resources. One of the sag ponds at Wrightwood had been turned into a community swimming pool.

Sag pond in Wrightwood, California

Nature’s Geometry in Succulents—2020 speaking schedule so far

Nature's Geometry: Succulents by Russel Ray

Having published my book, “Nature’s Geometry: Succulents” in October 2019, I’m now on the speaking circuit for cactus & succulent clubs throughout the nation.

Here is my current “Nature’s Geometry in Succulents” speaking schedule.

Come see me if I’m in your area!

  • February 11 – Bakersfield Cactus & Succulent Society, Bakersfield CA
  • February 13 – San Gabriel Valley Cactus & Succulent Society, Los Angeles County Arboretum, Arcadia CA
  • March 14 – Visalia Succulent Society, Visalia CA
  • May 10 – South Coast Cactus & Succulent Society, Palos Verdes Estates CA
  • June 7 – Atlanta Cactus & Succulent Society, Atlanta GA

I will be driving to all locations, including Georgia.

Consequently, I’m contacting the cactus & succulent clubs between
San Diego and Georgia to see if I can get some more engagements
on the schedule for June.

Raindrops on an aeonium

Nature’s Geometry: Succulents—Orostachys spirals

Nature's Geometry: Succulents by Russel Ray

I’m always on the prowl for plants that exhibit relationships derived from the Fibonacci sequence of numbers. The sequence was published by Leonardo Pisano Bigollo (ca. 1170–1250), better known as Fibonacci, in 1202 in his book, Liber Abaci. (In his book, Fibonacci also introduced Arabic numerals to the Western world. If not for him, we might still be using Roman numerals!)

Fibonacci introduced the Fibonacci sequence of numbers to solve a problem on rabbit breeding. Apparently, rabbit overpopulation was a serious problem in Italy in his time. Here’s the problem:

Beginning with a single pair of rabbits (one male and one female), how many pairs of rabbits will be born in a year, assuming that every month each male and female rabbit gives birth to a new pair of rabbits, and the new pair of rabbits itself starts giving birth to additional pairs of rabbits after the first month of their birth?

Rabbit bathFibonacci determined that the first pair of rabbits would have 377 pairs of rabbits, or 754 rabbits during the year (assuming no rabbit deaths!). If you’ve ever taken care of rabbits for an extended period of time, you know that 754 rabbits is a gross undervalue!

Without going into a great deal of mathematics, the relationship between individual numbers in the Fibonacci sequence creates what are called golden segments, golden ratios, golden squares, golden triangles, and golden spirals.

I became fascinated with the Fibonacci sequence in 1972, and how they manifest themselves throughout nature and the universe.

Golden spirals are my favorite, and I recently discovered the Orostachys genus, species of which are absolutely gorgeous in their display of spirals. Here are two pictures of Orostachys spinosa, a plant that now is high on my list of must-have plants:

Orostachys spinosa

Mental health

I grew up in the generation where mental health was not talked about, and if it was, usually it was mocked. Young people were “crazy” and old people were “senile.” The health profession has made significant advances in the ensuing fifty years, so when I retired and started having to deal more regularly with depression, I also was able to find out more about it.

One of the symptoms of depression is anger. Throughout my life, very little has made me angry enough to harm people (myself) or be destructive. Such feelings had become way too commonplace over the last three years. I could dismiss the feelings if I kept myself busy, but as a polyphasic sleeper, it’s been hard to keep myself busy for 12-18 hours a day.

The anger started causing me concern, though, so I finally took the necessary step, visiting my doctor and asking to be put on an anti-depressant. After listening to me for thirty minutes, he put me on Fluoxetine, 10 mg, daily dosage. He said it might take up to two weeks to see results. Yesterday was the end of day three on Fluoxetine, but I can tell you that it only took two days to feel results.

If you’re having suicidal thoughts or severe anger issues, I highly recommend discussing your issues with your doctor. If you’re somewhat embarrassed about being on anti-depressants, well, you don’t have to tell anyone.

Our health is important, though, especially as the current president and his crime family, as well as his enablers and supporters in our legislatures, attempt to take away our health insurance.