Archive for the ‘nature’ Category

CA State Parks Rant #1

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

California has an incredibly groovy State Park system. It’s big, and it’s mind-bogglingly diverse. I’m continually baffled stunned, bemused, aggravated, exasperated, and nonplussed by the Parks management and by the CA State government which runs it. One source of bewilderment is Jerry Brown’s choice of Anthony L. Jackson to be  State Parks Director. He’s a long-time Marine Corps officer with no discernable connection to the problems facing the parks.

The more I read about the guy, the more I say WTF? But seriously, WTF? Some of the articles I’ve read try really hard to make it sound like he knows more about California’s State Parks than your average space alien, but they’re not very convincing. “Although lacking a formal connection to park service, Jackson links his military career to his advocacy for conservation and alternative energy.” But seriously, does alternative energy have a closer relationship to State Parks than working on a military base in Okinawa does?

‘ “I love the California state parks,” he said. “And I bought an RV in January (2012) …. We figured we would mark every state and natural park in the state of California in it, and since January, we have put nearly 10,000 miles on it” ’ Wow. He’d been visiting the parks for several months before he got the job. I’m so impressed.

Can somebody out there in web land help me out here? Why did this guy get the job? Is this Jackson guy really the one to turn around the troubled, twisted bureaucracy with the demented priorities? Couldn’t the Governor find anybody who’d even visited the parks before 2012? Does Jerry Brown even give a fuck about the parks?

sometimes the magic works

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Even in a weak economy, even with old media in a hyper-technological world, sometimes inspiration and hard work pay off. Exhibit A: David Imus. Who is David Imus, you may ask. He’s a guy you makes old-fashioned paper maps. By himself. In his garage. He’s good at it.

A few years ago, a client of mine (Bob Lorentzen of Bored Feet Press) started distributing a line of maps by Imus Geographics. It was a semi-big deal at the time; the maps were/are extra groovy and they’d won some awards. But still, they were obscure and the idea of big wall maps of large areas was very retro. A couple of years passed, and they sold OK, but unspectacularly. Then, all of the sudden, the orders started pouring in. An article on Slate.com extolling the praises of the Imus USA map was the primary instigator. Interviews with a couple of NPR programs, posts on blogs, articles on other sites, a news story on an Oregon TV station, and more continued to build on the momentum.

Imus’ maps are available from quite a few places on the web, but you should get yours from Bored Feet. Yes, you should check out the USA map, but you should also explore the whole line of Imus Geographics maps.

adventures up north

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

I’ve been having too many adventures, and getting too little work done. We recently took a week long camping/family trip up to Oregon. Several blog post worthy event happened on that trip. I’ll try to briefly cover a couple of them here.

Vaux’s Swifts in Eugene

The day after a family reunion, a cousin of mine performed in a big band concert in a park in Eugene. After the show, we were standing around talking, and I noticed the sky was suddenly full of thousands of small birds, which I took to be swallows. The locals knew right away; the birds were swifts, not swallows, and they were gathering to roost together in an old chimney a couple of blocks from the park. We walk over to watch.

It’s hard to describe the spectacle of a swirling tornado of thousands of birds getting sucked into a large chimney. Fortunately, I caught it on video so I don’t have to try too hard to describe it with words. The subhead above links to my YouTube video. Make sure you watch it in HD, the low def version is awfully gooey.

Before the Europeans Came and Messed Everything Up, swifts roosted in hollow standing snags in old growth forests. Fortunately for the swifts, as the Europeans knocked down the forests they built chimneys. Now, many of the old chimneys are being razed, but the old growth forests are still gone.

Bad Boy Elk

On the way back, Andi and I stopped briefly near Prairie Creek Redwoods to watch the Elk. This elk herd is famous; they hang out right next to Highway 101 and the Newton Drury Parkway, so thousands of tourists see and photograph them every year.

The late summer is a transition time for male elk. Earlier in the year, they’re remarkably docile for such big wild creatures. In the fall rut, they are aggresive towards everybody, especially other male elk.

When we first saw the herd, two males were locking horns in a half-hearted preliminary bout. We parked on a little side road next to the highway. We walked around a little, trying to get good sight lines, photo light, and a safe working distance. There was a wide pathway between two clumps of trees which crossed the side road, connecting two large meadows. Several elk, a mix of females and young males, were grazing calmly on that pathway about fifty feet from the road. I took a few minutes of video. It was a close range and good light, but the elk weren’t doing anything real interesting, so the video is a bit on the blah side.

As this group of elk grazed, they were gradually moving towards me and about a dozen other observers/photographers who had gathered in that spot. I figured they were gradually moving towards the other meadow across the road. They were getting a little close for my comfort level, and I believe in always yielding the right of way to big strong wild creatures, even if they’re herbivorous; so I walked back to the car and put away my camera.

Andi was still watching the elk, and the phalanx of photographers, from behind our car, so I kept watching, too. The elk continued to move toward the road; the photo phalanx stayed in position, picking up a few more members. The elk group now had all categories of camera pointed at it: cell phones, point and shoots, video cameras, even one over-equipped guy with a long-lensed digital SLR on a tripod, another SLR around his neck, and a vest full of accessories.

One of the female elk crossed through the phalanx and onto the side road. The people parted just enough to let her through. She was clearly nervous, stamping her feet and looking around anxiously. Yet, the photo tourists mostly stayed put. Suddenly, a big bull elk burst onto the scene, apparently protecting his lady. He bluff charged the over-equipped photographer, who skedaddled quickly behind a car. The humans were yielding more space to the elk all of a sudden, but it wasn’t enough for the bull. He charged the car behind which the OEP and others were hiding with a mighty CRASH of antler on metal and tinkle of antler on glass.

As near as I could tell, no humans were hurt. The woman in the part of the car closest to the charge looked rather stunned, unsurprisingly. The car suffered a broken window, a big dent on the door, and several large scratches. The bull elk suffered a headache.

Maybe, just maybe, a few tourists learned a lesson about yielding the right of way to large wild animals.


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