Wednesday, July 12, 2017

June 2017 Reading

The books I finished reading in June 2017


June 2017 Reading: photo by Cliff Hutson
June 2017 Reading: photo by Cliff Hutson

“Setting Up Shop: The Practical Guide to Designing and Building Your Dream Shop”  -  Sandor Nagyszalanczy

I first read this book about fifteen years ago. It was clear then that I did not have the time, space, nor money to set up a woodworking shop along the lines of its recommendations. Now, having more of each, I decided to reread it only to realize I no longer have the inclination.

“Cars and Culture: The Life Story of a Technology”  -  Rudi Volti

This is an informative and enjoyable book. I appreciated it even more because I have worked with Rudi for a number of years.

“Murder at the Opera: A Capital Crimes Novel”  -  Margaret Truman

A fairly good mystery, but I will probably not rush out and look for others in the series.

“How to Be Black”  -  Baratunde Thurston

Part autobiography, part satire, and a look at a world of which most Americans have no clue, I highly recommend this book. (By the way, it seems that I have been doing it correctly.)

“The Only Investment Guide You'll Ever Need” (April 26, 2016)  -  Andrew Tobias

I read the first edition of this book in the late 1970s. And, to use a cliche, it changed my life. I recently gave a copy of this latest edition to each of my grandchildren, sight unseen, knowing that the core principles would still be valid. Then, I decided to get one for myself to read what the updates had to say, and perhaps learn some new tricks. It is still the best guide for anyone seeking advice on spending, saving, and investing.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A Good Reason and the Real Reason

A Real Reason



A quote I have been using quite a bit of late is: “A man buys something for two reasons: a good reason and the real reason.”

This hit close to home recently as was trying to organize some of my image files and realized that sometimes I buy a bottle of beer or wine just because I want to photograph the label.

That is the case with these first two photographs. The ale has been here for about three weeks and I have yet to try it. I did drink the "California Girl", which  is a pretty decent white wine.


Renegade Blonde Ale: photo by Cliff Hutson
Renegade Blonde Ale: photo by Cliff Hutson

California Girl: photo by Cliff Hutson
California Girl: photo by Cliff Hutson

Another reason for the California Girl selection is that the image reminds me of a girl I dated when I was an undergrad. (I wonder if she has aged as much as I have.)


A Good Reason


The next two photographs were taken after I bought the wines for a good reason. They came highly recommend by someone whose taste I trust; and I am truly into Zinfandel. 

Old Vine Zinfandel: photo by Cliff Hutson
Old Vine Zinfandel: photo by Cliff Hutson

Grower's Reserve Zinfandel: photo by Cliff Hutson
Grower's Reserve Zinfandel: photo by Cliff Hutson

These photographs are due to my following  Garry Winogrand's statement; “I photograph to find out what something will look like photographed."  Thus my work becomes sort of a diary. 



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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

May 2017 Reading

The books I finished reading in May 2017


May 2017 Reading: photo by Cliff Hutson
May 2017 Reading: photo by Cliff Hutson

Foodie bonus


This article, on vegetarian dishes in South America, features a rice and beans meal I (AKA "The Marmot") prepared and then photographed.


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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Matilija Poppy

Romneya coulteri


Romneya coulteri: photo by Cliff Hutson
Romneya coulteri: photo by Cliff Hutson

Matilija Poppy, Romneya coulteri, is a perennial herb that is not only native to California but is endemic (limited) to California alone. It also has the distinction of being having the largest flower of any plant native to the state.  The flowers, up to seven inches in diameter, are said to resemble a fried egg as they are yellow in the center and surrounded by five or six white, crinkled petals. Its tall stems, with grayish-green leaves, may reach between three and eight feet in height.
This rampantly showy species, of the Papaveraceae family, is found in the chaparral and costal sage scrub habits. It should be blooming from May through June in the Peninsular Ranges and the eastern parts of the South Coast Ranges; at elevations of 20 - 1200 meters. Some blossoms may last well in to late Summer. Threatened by both development (urbanization, flood control, road widening, and road maintenance) and invasive species it is included in the CNPS Inventory of Rare and Endangered Plants on list 4.2 (limited distribution).
Matilija Poppy is very popular in native plant gardens. Care must be taken in its placement as it is rhizomatous and very aggressive in spreading itself through underground rootstocks which form additional colonies. It needs sun and tolerates various amounts of watering depending on how well the soil drains.
The scientific name commemorates Romney Robinson, an Irish astronomer of the 1800’s, and Thomas Coulter, an Irish physician, botanist, and explorer. The plant itself was almost honored. It was a nominee in 1890 for the title of state flower but lost to the California poppy ( Eschscholzia californica ) by an apparently considerable margin. However, I would like to demand a recount.
Matilija Poppy: photo by Cliff Hutson
Matilija Poppy: photo by Cliff Hutson

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Analog Lives!

Blue Books


Blue Books: photo by Cliff Hutson
Blue Books: photo by Cliff Hutson

I am a subscriber to the quarterly editions of Field Notes memo books. Occasionally, we get a little something extra in the mail. The latest was three blue books. It has been at least 45 years since I last took an exam using one of these; so, I wondered if they might really be a thing. Surly, after all this time something "new and improved" - iPads or the like - would have taken their place.

This question was quickly resolved with a query to my daughter who informed me that blue books are still being used in colleges, especially for final exams in social science courses: psychology, philosophy, political science, and sociology, by her and other "older professors".

Perhaps, this should not have surprised me as I had just finished reading "The Revenge of Analog," by David Sax.

Analog Matters


Sax writes convincingly about "real things and why they matter".  Digital technology has encroached on, if not taken over, much of our lives. The book is not against this, per se; it, instead shows that analog technology can not only coexist with the digital world, it can enhance it as well. But, then, he really takes to task the emergence of digital devices, such as the aforementioned iPads, in education. And stresses that one of the greatest promises and failures of educational technology is the online course. Studies show that these courses have very low completion rates. One source states that typically 90 percent of students drop out, and that those who stay with it learn less than students in a classroom.
This really intrigued me as I am enrolled in just such a course (Making Sense of Climate Science Denial - offered by the University of Queensland, no less) scheduled to begin on May 29.  

Correspondence School


FN School: photo by Cliff Hutson
FN School: photo by Cliff Hutson


The blue books from Field Notes were accompanied by a letter giving me instructions for a Final Exam. Just as if it were a correspondence school whose motto is, "Getting Smarter, One Letter at a Time". 

It just so happens that I have had some real world experience with traditional correspondence classes. My favorite example is the competition of a seminar in Bird Biology at Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Cornell University, in 1993. This done by actually mailing assignments back and forth, to and from Ithaca, with what could have only been an actual person. 

Now, I will be the among the first to maintain that the preferred method of education is having students and teachers interact with each other in a classroom (or the field as in my current situation). But, I got a lot out of that seminar, and still use that information to this day. One point that I bear in mind was that i still had to put pen and pencil to paper. A technique that many consider far superior to using a keyboard, touch screen, or stylus. I am eager to see how this online course will work for me.
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