January 12: A fresh air

I’m writing early today for two reasons. One’s not so pleasant. I woke up with a bit of stomach upset. This has kept me indoors and forced me to move my hike to the late afternoon, or more likely tomorrow.


The other reason is a bittersweet one. I have brought a new computer into my small livery of Macs. It took me a while to decide on another MacBook Air. Part of the delay was caused by me not quite being able to face reality. You see, my previous MacBook Air, or what I have been calling my new computer is now 11 years old. The nice folks at Apple must have heard it was still running strong so they decided to force my hand by disallowing further upgrades of the Safari browser. That, among other things, made it difficult to access and use the WordPress UI and dodgy sites like Wikipedia.

Well, that’s a pisser.

My old new MacBook Air; not quite ready for retirement.

No, I don’t have any micro brewery stickers on my new Mac…yet. It’s Space Gray, fast, silent and seems just dandy so far. It and my other (can’t quite say old) MacBook Air have helped solidify an evolution of sorts when it comes to how I use computers. There was a time when I stuffed my Macs full of everything; photos, files, music. In fact, in my office is an even older MacMini with a 1TB SSD. It’s full of music and photos and pretty much everything you can imagine. But lately, really since I bought my old-new MacBook Air, I’ve reversed that process. I have a paid subscription to Flickr so most of my photos live there. The Word docs of my books exist on various computers and GoogleDrive and in a host of email accounts. Word files are neat since they’re so small. Storing them is really no problem.

Music presents the biggest challenge and you know I’m not done figuring it out. Every CD I own has been uploaded to the MacMini but how long will I have access to them? The Mini’s ancient OS is getting more hampered by the passage of time every day. It’s only a matter of time, but that’s a worry for another day. For now, it makes it impossible to bring myself to selling off my CDs, which I would really like to do.

So, I have no plans to activate and authorize my iTunes account on my new computer, let alone store any music on it. My iPhone is right here and so is much of my music and everything on the MacMini via Home Sharing is available so long as I’m on my home WiFi.

No, no access to my LPs but that, too, is a subject for another time.

If things follow the plan, there really won’t be much stored locally on my new MacBook Air but I still intend to get a lot of use out it, as I have all of my Macs going back so many years. Most have been great computers, though there were exceptions like a Graphite iMac that liked to power down whenever it wanted and its replacement, a G4 tower that decided powering up wasn’t all that important.

The Macs I’ve owned since have been universally good, but they, like their owner, get old, do less and eventually get put out to pasture. My worst Apple disappointment had to be my iPhone 8. What a great phone, until it unceremoniously failed to work one morning. It sits, still, on my CD shelf; now a very expensive paperweight, but let’s not focus on the negative.

My other MacBook Air is now renamed the Bedtime Surfer, since I anticipate it will spend most of the rest of its days under my bed, waiting for me to use it in those minutes before I put out the lights.

I only wish it had room for a few more beer stickers.

Oh yeah, today’s writing soundtrack is Sometimes Just the Sky by Mary Chapin Carpenter. I’ve heard her name spoken for years but never really listened to her music until recently.

This record makes me realize I’ve been missing something special.

January 12: A fresh air

What’s Special About This?

Sage Park survived…

The Woolsey Fire is now all but out. The evacuation area got as close as a mile from my home. I got out toward the end of last week and saw some of the devastation along the north-bound 101.

Most of the oak trees I have photographed on many of the trails I hike have burned. They stand now like charred skeletons on the fire-darkened slopes. Compared to many of who live not very far from where I do, I was very lucky.

The fire started to the south and west of Sage Park. For days, I wondered if the prevailing winds would allow the dried grasses and oaks of the park survive the inferno and they did.

There’s always something to be thankful for and today I’m thankful for all of the oaks and all of the wildlife and all of the rare open space of Southern California that came through the Woolsey Fire unscathed.

Snapseed (1)

What’s Special About This?

I’m Old Fashioned…More on Flickr’s Explore

I confess.

I took a photo of food (a cocktail to be sure) and posted it to Flickr yet again. I try like hell to avoid doing stupid shit like this but I couldn’t resist. The Westlake Four Seasons serves up an excellent Old Fashioned during their Thursday Happy Hour. The angle of the dark tile under the glass looked good as did the filtered light coming across the hotel’s garden. Man, it was a good drink…so good that I had two.

When I got home I was impressed by the color, the lighting of the image and just how much the camera on the iPhone 8 can do when there’s plenty of light.

I also confess that I had a pretty strong feeling this photo would have a decent shot at getting onto the hallowed servers of Flickr’s Explore. It had a lot of the qualities I think Flickr’s algorithm looks for.

First, the title is unambiguously associated with the image. In other words, I’ll hazard that the algorithm has a dictionary that includes a list of cocktails (that obviously includes the Old Fashioned) and that the algorithm could readily correlate the discernibility of the image to the title of the image.

Second, the image was sharp, saturated and unambiguous.

Third, I used tags that localized and described it completely (down to the name and location of the hotel, the exact camera used and the fact that the Snapseed image processor was employed).

I’m Old Fashioned (not really)

So, what does all this mean? Not much. As I have said before, any notion of knowing what a proprietary and very likely evolving algorithm values will never ascend beyond pure speculation. Still, the criteria I listed about are common to every photo of mine that’s gotten into Explore. In the end, we can deduce some elements of what appear to be valued criteria but there’s no way to know all of them or even to know whether any elements of a kind of computer-generated randomness are part of the process. What I do know and say with more than a touch of irony is this; none of my photos that I consider good have ever made it into Explore.

I’m Old Fashioned…More on Flickr’s Explore

Improving my golf by embracing placebo

I’m having a marginal golf season so I decided I needed to some find some talismans to help my game. OK, I know they’re placebos, but I am  huge believer in placebos.

By the way, if you haven’t heard this podcast listen to it now and come back and look the photo and read this later: Akimbo: Don’t fear placebos

Anyway, I decided to buy some coins from the year of my birth. The quarter was a coin from my dad, so even though I carry it in my golf bag I don’t use it to mark putts since I’m always afraid of losing it.

So, this is the collection so far. None of them cost more than a dollar and I think they make a nice looking group. Now when I loan someone a coin as a ball mark and they forget to give it back I can say, “I’ll bet you have a 1961 coin in your pocket…hand it over.”

By the way, the two divot repair tools are made from real carbon fiber. Back in the day I knew a guy who made them and they are very cool. The are exceptionally light and show very little wear even though I use them all the time.

Sadly, the guy lost his access to carbon fiber and the business never took off.


Hey, I’m just glad I’ve got mine!


Improving my golf by embracing placebo

The surrender of the fleeting green of spring

Southern California has now played the very same trick on me for over a half century. Each spring I revel in the tall green grasses that grow on our local hills & fields.

But, just when I get used to their verdancy, they dry up and die.

It’s true these kinds of grasses have very short life spans but in an area that’s so short on green it’s always hard to see the surrender of the fleeting green of spring.

I know summer is on the way.

Sage Ranch Loop Trail Just Before Sunset

The surrender of the fleeting green of spring


I had never been the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels until last night. There was a performance of Jonah and the Whale on tap and who would want to miss that?

The architecture of the cathedral was better than I expected but it was the counterpoint of the cathedral’s warm, socal stylized exterior hardscape with the nearby monstrosity called Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts that whacked my brain the worst.

I mean, what the heck were they thinking?

Back when our office was in downtown I had a friend whose office looked directly toward the school as it was being built. I can remember him wondering out loud: “Do you think that’s gonna be a stairwell of some kind?”

Nope, not a stairwell, nothing of function or beauty; just a somewhat atypical brand of LAUSD pretentiousness. Like so many things from LAUSD it’s disappointing but not unexpected.

The one act opera was fun and mercifully short. But, for me, the real show was the pre-sunset light. I wish I had more time to enjoy it before the chill-air and the opera brought us into the sanctuary.