Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Nature vs the Folly of Man

“History shows again and again how nature points up the folly of man . . .”
Blue Oyster Cult, "Godzilla" 

Monarch Caterpillar: photo by Cliff Hutson

A Book


Last night I finished reading "Career of Evil," by Robert Galbraith. This author is better known as J.K. Rowling, of Harry Potter fame. It is the third book, written under this pseudonym,  about Cormoran Strike, a private deceive, and by far the worst in my opinion. I very much enjoyed "Cuckoo's Calling", the first in the series. The second "The Silkworm" was just adequate, to my mind. This last book stinks, in my opinion.

A more discerning reader might take exception to that. Which is cool by me. But, I found the descriptions of the crimes to be far too grisly for my taste. I feel that detective stories can be well done without this nonsense as proven by Robert Crais, Agatha Christy, and Edgar Allen Poe, whom many contend to be the progenitor of the genre.

However, I was very much intrigued that "Career of Evil" has an interesting conceit of heading up most chapters with lyrics from songs recorded by the band Blue Oyster Cult. Now, I have long considered myself to be a BÖC fan, but was not familiar with hardly any of these lyrics. And, after having seen them in this context, may never be able to enjoy listening to the band again.
  
Milkweed in Bloom: photo by Cliff Hutson

The Music


Even so, I will hold on to my second favorite BOC song, "(Don't Fear) The Reaper".  And, the one I like the best, "Godzilla". 

Just like the the novel, I started off this post with a snippet of actual lyrics. However, I have always thought of them as, "nature must pay for the folly of man." 

I, for the purposes of today's lesson, relate this conjecture to the decline of the Monarch Butterfly. As the referenced article states - "Across North America, the number of monarchs has dropped 27 percent in the last year alone, and by four-fifths since the 1990s. Habitat loss, especially in midwestern farm country, is a big reason. Farmers have plowed up most of the nation's milkweed patches to plant GMO soy and corn, much of it for ethanol fuels. But monarch caterpillars can only eat milkweed. And less food means fewer butterflies."


Asclepius fascicularis: photo by Cliff Hutson

The Pitch


Monarch caterpillars rely on milkweeds for food.  Fortunately, many California native species are quite attractive in the garden — and unlike milkweeds from elsewhere, they've evolved to bloom right when California monarchs need them.

Thus, I propose that many of us are in a position to give these little guys a hand. Please consider giving some space to help out our fellow creatures.

An Aside


The California Wildflower Show runs at RSABG from April 22 - 24, and the Butterfly Pavilion opens May 13, 2017.


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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

First Day of Spring

A nice walk


I took a walk through the botanic garden on the first day of Spring. These plants captured my attention.

x Chiranthofremontia lenzii: photo by Cliff Hutson
x Chiranthofremontia lenzii: photo by Cliff Hutson

Manzanita Berries: photo by Cliff Hutson
Manzanita Berries: photo by Cliff Hutson

Berberis aquifolium 'Golden Abundance': photo by Cliff Hutson
Berberis aquifolium 'Golden Abundance': photo by Cliff Hutson

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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

February 2017 Reading

The books I finished reading in the month of February 2017

February 2107 Reading: photo by Cliff Hutson
February 2107 Reading: photo by Cliff Hutson
The month of February was a very slow month for me when it came to reading, only three books. And, fairly thin ones at that. The fault lies within myself as I became addicted to watching "Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries" on Netflix. Viewing all three seasons took up much of my time.

Perhaps the most interesting of the books was "Island of the Blue Dolphins," by Scott O’Dell. It is a children's novel, and, indeed, it was recommended to me by students from Sycamore Elementary School when I was leading a Native Partners program at the botanic garden. The book had come up from time to time in previous years, but these kids were very insistent once I admitted to not having read it. (I have a good excuse though. When I was in forth grade, it had not yet been written.) Presumptively based on a true story, it tells the story of a young California Indian girl stranded alone for years on one of the Channel Islands. While quite entertaining, I feel that much of it has to be taken with the proverbial grain of salt. However, I am glad that I read it as it may help me put some of the concepts we teach in to a better context for children who have also read it.

Frankly speaking, “Breaking Cat News,” by Georgia Dunn is a bit a cheat as I read it last year. But, in need of some good humor, I picked it up again. Anyone who has any appreciation for cats should love reading about cats reporting on the news that matters to cats. I also read the comic on a daily basis.

How to See: Visual Adventures in a World God Never Made,” by George Nelson disappointed me a bit. Nelson tells us that - "Einstein has been reported as saying that it is not possible to make an observation unless the observer has a theory to bring to bear on what he is looking at." So, I assumed that this book might give one the tools with which "visual literacy" may be enhanced. It did not do that for me. That could be because I am too much a technician (whose skills are primarily verbal) to pick up what was going on. Or, alternatively, perhaps I am an accomplished enough of a photographer that I already have an intuitive grasp on visual reading. Obviously, a book that has held its own for forty years must have some merit. I intend to give it another go in a few months to see if my view of it can be altered.

Another thing that remains to be seen is if March holds less binge watching and more reading for me.

NOTE: March 8 is National Proofreading Day. Did you find any errors in this post?

#NationalProofreadingDay

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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

National Margarita Day

Drink Up


El Ranchero: photo by Cliff Hutson
El Ranchero: photo by Cliff Hutson

February 22 is National Margarita Day 2017 in the United States of America.

I am not one to say that Jose Cuervo is a friend of mine. My current tequila of choice is Hornitos Reposado. But, when you get right down to it, almost any tequila listed as "100% de agave" on the label is good in a margarita whether you like one en las rocas or congelada

Hornitos: photo by Cliff Hutson
Hornitos: photo by Cliff Hutson

Then, again, I am of the opinion that "rocks" is the the way to go. And, I seem to be in good company thinking that frozen is a distant second place. A frozen margarita just ruins the experience as far as I am concerned. Your mileage may vary. My research also noted that they can be served "straight up", but I have never seen that done.

Old Fashioned Margarita: photo by Cliff Hutson
Old Fashioned Margarita: photo by Cliff Hutson

A margarita is a cocktail consisting of triple sec, tequila and lime or lemon juice. There are many stories as to its origin. There are nearly as many opinions as to which type of glass in which to serve one. I am pretty much uncommitted when it comes to this. But, I lean toward the old fashioned glass, or even a mason jar, over the more traditional coupe variant.

Premium Tequila: photo by Cliff Hutson
Premium Tequila: photo by Cliff Hutson

Being born and bred in Southern California, I feel fortunate having encountered Mexican (or Mexican-American) food when I was just a tad; eating my first burrito about the age of five or six years old. My first encounter with tequila would have been in the late 60s. It took several more years before I discovered margaritas But, this was because they were not all that popular until then. I highly recommend Taco USAGustavo Arellano's history of how, and why, Mexican food has such great popularity in America; and the margarita may be its most favorite cocktail.

El Coyote: photo by Cliff Hutson
El Coyote: photo by Cliff Hutson


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