20-06-2019 01:06

Laugh and the world laughs with you.



For too long, U.S. foreign policy has shamefully ignored our allies under the sea — extremely buff aquatic mammals like King Triton, ghosts who live in haunted shipwrecks, squid. But no more. President Trump, it seems, has finally opened diplomatic talks with the ocean’s Biggest Boys: whales…

Trump did not elaborate on whether his meeting with the royal cetacean took place above or below water, or what they discussed. Perhaps the effects of global warming, or the relative wetness of the ocean. Maybe the prince apologized on behalf of the overly friendly Russian-spy beluga who eagerly gave herself up to Norwegian fisherman earlier this year. Or maybe he finally told the Trumps what he is thinking.

Hot, hot, hotter

I started this blog two weeks ago, Wednesday, June 5, 2019.  This was the Tucson weather forecast:

Then there’s this week.  (The tennis team I’m on played the last game of the season at 7pm Friday, when the temps dipped below 100°.)

Seen the past two weeks

A coyote strolling along the pedestrian path at dusk.  A number of bicyclists in the early morning, zipping along in packs.  My palo verde is still blooming.

A couple of centipedes in my compost pile, along with a bunch of tiny ones.  (See centipede-v-millipede for identification.)  To have more compost to dig into my vegetable garden as the carrots and spinach are finished, and the lettuce is bolting, I was sifting it, putting the red worms and undigested twigs back into the bin – and think that in addition to the centipedes there were about 753 worms of various sizes, three times that many earwigs (see left), and a handful of pill bugs.

Many birds around.  This is the best I could do to identify the bird at the tiny pink flowers on the purple heart plant.  That patch of orange on its wing, and the yellow on its head distinguishes a verdin.  But they weren’t after any sparse nectar.

They forage almost continuously… by gleaning live foliage and flowers for spiders and small insects.

A hummingbird, which has at least four feeders in my neighbor’s yard to frequent, sampled the tiny lavender flowers.

A couple of pyrrhuloxias, perhaps making a nest in the desert willow outside my kitchen window.  A quail on duty each morning, on the fence, watching for predators, and gabbling to his harem below – no little ‘uns yet.  A few white-wing doves at the bird bath, or on the fence above, and two small ones, not very good fliers, walking around the yard below, checking me out.  Their parents left them out on their own, without a Watch out for humans.

A Cooper’s hawk stood in the birdbath for a while.  My brother (the hawk expert – see: cazadero) said that birds don’t perspire but in the heat will pant or cool the bare skin of their feet in water.  My camera’s battery was dead, so I just watched it for a while.  There’s a good photo of one from two years ago at the bottom of this blog: 2017

The agave and yucca flowers are progressing.  Saw one bird (Gila woodpecker?) at the barrel fruit and a smaller bird (house sparrow?) picking the seeds, or the bugs on them,  from the brittle bush behind it.  Didn’t have time to get the camera.

Many lizards in the yard, and the cat yowls at them because she can’t go out.  The one on the left was doing his territorial pushups.

Working Out

I’m sticking with the evening tennis; there’s no longer a Sunday 10am clinic, which is now way too hot and 7am is too early for me to start.  But I’ve decided that instead of the exercise classes at the Y that I had cut back to two days a week, I need to condition for my upcoming Road Scholar trip to the Galapagos with my 13-year-old granddaughter.  In addition to seeing the various animals, we’ll be kayaking, bicycle riding on a beach, snorkeling, and hiking a volcano.  For my fellow travelers I’m picturing 15-year-old boys and their 60-year old grandpas who can hike Kilimanjaro.  Anyway, I’m now rowing, riding a stationary bicycle, and doing the elliptical, 20 min each, all in A/C, of course.

However, I do hurt a lot of the time.  I can’t keep up: A mother-of-five with stage IV lung cancer and her daughter hiked up to the summit of the highest mountain in the Americas…  cancer-mother  And one of the women in one of the tennis clinics suggested that we train for the Tour de Tucson (which you can read about here: 2012/11/16).  She’d just done a 2-week bike ride (but she is “only” 67).


I’ve been reading a lot these past two months, as I nurse my sore muscles.

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Singaporean author Balli Kaur Jaswal.  This was pretty funny.  (Can a murder mystery be funny?)  Interesting detail about the Sikh community in London.  I don’t know much about Sikhs, except for Kip, the Sikh British Army sapper (photo on left), in the movie The English Patient; whole Sikh families on motorcycles in Malaysia, when I worked there; and one of the supervisors on the US Embassy project I worked on in Jamaica (who mandated hardhats for everyone on the job, except for himself as he had to wear his turban).  Would recommend the book.

Rosewater, the start of an award-winning, cutting edge trilogy set in Nigeria, which received an Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Science Fiction Novel, by Tade Thompson, a British-born Yoruba psychiatrist who grew up in Nigeria.  Reading scifi by black authors, and this is the best so far; highly recommend it.

Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller, a Nebula-Award-winning author.  One of many climate change, dystopian novels, with colorful characters. (I’m reminded of the skateboarder in Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash.) And the Breaks is a fascinating disease.  The eight-armed artificial ocean city of Qaanaaq is run by artificial intelligences, the million refugees segregated rich/poor kinda like in the movie Snowpiercer, but that was a train, and this is much better. (Is that the one with Tilda Swinton’s horrible teeth?)  Anyway, it’s rather captivating, and the native american woman’s polar bear and orca add interest.  If you can stand the violence (did you finish The Godfather?), then read this.

Severance by Ling Ma.  More apocalypse.  According to the New Yorker (review), it Captures the Bleak, Fatalistic Mood of 2018 – A début novel’s of-the-moment consideration of capitalism, immigration, and zombies.  (I don’t like zombies as well as vampires, but these are done well.)

Herland Charlotte Perkins Gilman.  A utopian, versus distopian novel.  Found it on some scifi list, and hadn’t heard of it, and I’m interested in scifi by women, so thought I’d try it.  Well, it’s from 1915 and is so outdated.  The plot has three men stumble upon an unknown country full of only women (who miraculously have virgin births – parthenogenesis – to only girls).  The author was a feminist and has all of the women and girls getting along peachy keen.  No Margaret Thatcher, bombing the Falklands, just to show that the Brits were still powerful. (Yes, this photo comes up when you google the Falklands.)

Good Omens The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett.  I’d recommend it if you want funny escapism; many of the jokes are groaners.  After reading it I watched Amazon Prime’s three-part series, which premiered on May 31, and I don’t know if you’d get it if you hadn’t read the book.  But did like Michael Sheen as the fussy, anxious angel Aziraphale, and especially David Tennant’s Crowley (who started off offering Eve an apple, hence his name), the shades-wearing, Freddie Mercury-worshipping, ultra-cool demon, as The Wrap put it.  His swagger was great. Had read Gaiman’s American Gods, which was cute, but loved his Neverwhere.  (Had gotten Prime free for a month to watch it but had to pay for each episode!  The quality if the videos was bad so only watched two episodes.)  Had read Terry Pratchett’s The Colour of Magic comic fantasy novel and first book of the Discworld (a flat planet balanced on the backs of four elephants which in turn stand on the back of a giant turtle) series – but too silly for me.

The Beggar Maid, Stories of Flo and Rose by Alice Munro. She may have won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2013, but I disliked the book, a series of short stories first published 1977.  They just seem antiquated (I don’t like books by the Brontes either) – guess that comes from reading so much scifi.

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  Second time around, thought I must read this book, and tried my darnedest, but still couldn’t get through it, which Barnes and Nobel says is for Age Range: 14 – 18 Years!

The Heavens by Sandra Newman.  Kinda interesting time travel (but I preferred the Outlander series).

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris.  Trending – #1 International Bestseller & New York Times Bestseller.  Have read many books and seen many movies about the Holocaust, and this is historical fiction, but its not my favorite (which is The Wall by John Hersey, about the Warsaw Ghetto, based on real life recording of events) – it seems to gloss over so much.  I know the author interviewed the main character before he died in 2006, at the age of 90, and he had no doubt forgotten a lot, but I love books crammed with details. Of course, Hersey’s book is 640 pages, where Morris’ is 288, and most people today have shorter attention spans (except for Shades of Grey).  But hey, Buzzfeed posted 46 Brilliant Short Novels You Can Read In A Day, which doesn’t even include Jonathan Livingston Seagull or Life of Pi, and I’ve read most of them.


Bought a bottle of vanilla at the grocery store – cost more than the bottle of wine!

I have lots more that I’d like to blog about, but this has taken two weeks and is already outdated.  Hasta…