October 22, 2012
Only the most skilled photographers can do this...
Just kidding. Pure luck, photographing the flash.
That's my older son with his new Ruger Mini 14. Very nice weapon! He and I had a lot of fun shooting last weekend. It's a cool thing for a father when his son surpasses him in some way. He teaches me about firearms.
June 8, 2012
Bravo 308, or, Why I Hate Astronauts, Part Two...
Of course I don't really hate them. How silly of you to think so. I'm just trying to make a point and get your attention... (Again with thanks to Terry, at the previous post. I create pearls because of such gritty commenters.)
Anyway, I think people get muddled in their thinking about space, because they imagine that going to places like Mars or the Moon must be giant one-swoop affairs, where a huge rocket takes off from Canaveral, sheds several stages, and then proceeds on to Mars or Venus. Then heroic cosmonauts pick up some rocks, and reverse the process to get back home. Voila, a great moment in human history. Worthless little rabbits like us are awestruck that we are can witness such heroics on our TV's.
But there's a different way such explorings and what-nots might work out. Think about Antarctic exploration and science. Imagine that SF State University (next door to me) wants to do research in Antarctica. Do they build a ship? Stuff it with all necessities? Train some heroic Antarctic-nauts in simulators, to prepare them for the severe conditions? And do they then set sail for the antipodes all on their own?
Of course not. They pack a few boxes of gear and fly to New Zealand in comfort. Then, in a bit less comfort, they take take a C-17 to... Tah dah! MacMurdo Station, our Antarctic base. Where they will find bunkhouses and chow-halls, gyms, a bowling alley, and even a chapel. Plus helicopters and crawly-machines galore. And, especially, they find expert staff who will assist them in whatever crazy things they are doing.
I think that's what future space doings will be like. IF (the big if, the cosmic if...) IF we can get the cost of getting stuff up into orbit to maybe a tenth of what the Space Shuttle costs. Then we will soon see bases in orbit. How will that happen? Who knows. But there will space hotels for sure, and they will need permanent staff. There will be lots more satellites and space telescopes, needing servicing from time to time. Cripples who can afford it will want to move to space, where they can be fully mobile in zero gravity. There will develop a population. Things will start to percolate, and the result will be somethings like MacMurdo. The starting point for a thousand-and-one different projects. The base camp.
Think about all the fools who climb Mt Everest. (There were lines recently, leading to some deaths. Lunacy.) Well, that is very expensive. Comparable to what I suspect a trip to space will cost soon. Think of all the fools who buy huge yachts. They will be able soon to go to space soon, for comparable expenditure, and more prestige. All of these things will lead to people living in space to facilitate this stuff. Living in space-shacks and shanty-towns. Making homes out of empty fuel tanks and cargo containers.
How do I know about what happens in the Antarctic? Because an old family friend, Sandwich Girl, works at MacMurdo every winter (which is the Antarctic summer). Pictures here. Here's a bit from her blog...
...oh hi antarctica. It's me, sandwich.
i came down to the ice this season for winfly,* an early deployment that comes in august to help open the station for mainbody*. for 6 weeks, i worked in the BFC* getting gear ready and together for science groups. the night sky has been spectacular, the nacreous clouds incredible, the temperatures colder than i ever remember (-80F windchill? really!?), and the work has been busy and fun.
winfly has been mellow, but not boring. i've been working on some silly things for the craft fair, went on some walks, visited the pressure ridges*, took a nodwell* to castle rock, blew bubbles in -40F (they turn to a shredded papery substance), organized a balsa man antarctic regional event, re-created the bowling alley, chainsawed holes in the ice, watched the movie "the room" (wow. just wow), and saw a face-melting concert by colorful and talented local folk. mcmurdo, you are an excellent village full of wonderful people.
now is the time when winterovers leave, and the rest of the summer crew arrives in droves. this year is interesting, since there is a lack of bedspace in christchurch nz due to the massive quake last february. passenger flights come south only twice a week, instead of every other day. my science team, Bravo 308, arrived a couple days ago, so i have since moved from the BFC to the lab to help things get ready for our fishing season. [The scientists are studying fish.] i'll be here until mid-december. looking forward to more fun and fish, but until then, trainings....
Here's our friend...
Posted by John Weidner at 8:23 PM
March 8, 2012
One of our regular readers...
It was kind of cool just now to notice the name of an old friend on Instapundit:
...UPDATE: Reader Robert Ethan Hahn emails:I credit the Tea Partiers on the Clermont County Republican Central Committee, who got Jean Schmidt un-endorsed this cycle:...those central committees are where the action is – that's where you go to take the party back....http://www.gopclermont.org/endorsed-candidates-2012.html
Races where candidates requested endorsement but where none was granted were the following:
2nd Congressional District
Yep. Them Tea Parties are fading away into oblivion...
November 3, 2011
Proud day for the Weidners!
Blogging has been slow lately, because Charlene and I are in Columbia, SC, to see our middle son, William, graduate from Basic Training! We've had a couple of awesome days at Ft. Jackson. Will's changed in many ways, all for the better. And is bursting with stories. And eating astonishing amounts of food when we take him out to dinner. He liked the Army chow, especially grits(!) but has lost a lot of weight.
Tomorrow he heads off to Ft. Huachuca in Arizona, for AIT. That's advanced training in his specialty, intelligence analysis. Then he'll come home. He's in the the Army Reserves, in a unit based in Mountain View. Sooner or later, he'll deploy and help America govern an empire she doesn't want, but seems to be collecting just because of the sheer hapless ineptitude of the rest of the world.
Anyway, we are very proud! Here he is with Charlene, who got to shoot off some blanks from an M-16. (No biggie; we have an AR-15.)
And here he is with his platoon, kneeling on the lower left, listening to the drill sergeants. (Who I've cropped out; you are not supposed to blog their pictures.) The berets they get to wear upon graduation. Until now they've only worn patrol caps. But Lordy, they look so young! Buncha kids. But very polite and serious, a big contrast with the #Occupy flakes.
Update: We are home at last. And Will was sent on a charter from Columbia direct to Ft. Huachuca, (pronounced wuh CHEW kuh.) So he got there before we had struggled home, after driving to the airport in Charlotte, and he called us while we were waiting for a streetcar in SF.
It's a funny thing. I valued keenly the people we met in places like Columbia; they are solid, sensible, patriotic, polite, soft-spoken. You can trust them, you can rely on them. The problem, to an urbanite like me, is that they are also homely and slow-witted. And, well. boring. And then we get back to the city, and trendy kids are schooling past us like quicksilver, and they are electric, and often good-looking. But, alas, they are flaky and relativistic, without ballast or seriousness or good-sense. So it seems like there's nowhere I can really call home.
June 1, 2011
I've never even seen a pear-citron vodkatini...
Andrea on, as she puts it, that species of internet persona known as the PUA, or "pick-up-artist."..:
... However, I have one little bone to pick with them: almost every time they talk about how difficult and bitchy American women are, yadda yadda, it turns out that their favorite places to go and pick out women are always bars. Sure, these places are high-end, fancy places where the upper income brackets like to go to order pear-citron vodkatinis, and as such they have more bright lights and shiny surfaces than the traditional watering hole, but they are still bars, and you know what kind of woman hangs out in a bar? Yep.
So no wonder, guys, that your romantic lives have been so disappointing. If you want a faithful, loving, feminine woman, you need to 1) stop hanging out in bars, and 2) probably leave your large urban area altogether. Also stay away from universities and places with lots of lawyers, and you might have to settle — yes, I said settle — for a woman who isn't a perfect 10 and doesn't know all about your pop culture fads. She might even be — gasp — religious. And here is the major stumbling block for the lovelorn PUA (when he's finally through denying he's not lovelorn): most of these guys claim to be atheist, but atheist women tend to at least think they are smarter than other people and as such are high-maintenance so we're right back in the "bitch" area. But none of these guys will dare go to anything so unfashionable as a church for their wife material, so they're destined to be forever dissatisfied....
Listen to the woman, she speaks pearls. Go to church.
This reminds me of a peeve of mine from back in the 70's, maybe it was. There was this stock complaint at the time by women, that men don't "want to commit." And I had to listen to this guff, and I'm in fact the kind of guy who was eager to commit to the right woman! (And I'll be happily married 26 years this month.) And my two best friends likewise. I remember this one gal, gorgeous creature, that I knew in a business connection. And with me she was always friendly in a very business-like way--clearly nothing personal. (A PUA would know how to cut through that, but I didn't.) And I heard later that she had a baby on her own, because she couldn't find a man who would "commit."
So my guess is that those women were looking to the wrong guys. Maybe in bars! Because the thing is, the type of guy who "commits" to a woman is not hanging around in watering holes. They are already committed, to career, or hobby, or sport, or craft. They are Scout leaders, or bungee-jumpers, or are building the world's largest model railroad. And they are mostly not very "cool," and not especially good at whispering sweet nothings in a gal's ear. But they are solid. Dependable. Committed.
Therefore, they are not hanging around girlie places. Fern bars, they were called back then. I could have told certain females that they needed to go where the solid sensible guys are. Of course they would not have listened . But in the picture below of a Kenpo Karate school, you can see one gal who is definitely smarter than most, and did just that. The woman in the back with the biggest smile is Charlene. And I'm sitting in the front row, second from the right. The man in the white gi is our teacher and old friend, Sifu (now Grandmaster) Rick Alemany. Next to him is his similarly-smart wife Marge. This was about 1985.
May 20, 2011
Here's a little bit of the fun I'm having with my iPhone. The first picture is my home screen. If you click on the icon "Photos," you will find not only the expected photos of my children, pets, trips etc. But also my art galleries. I've been inspired by this marvelous little machine to systematically collect all the images which give me delight. (Not just in the category "art," but that's what I'm writing about today.)
The second screen is one of my albums. Shin Hanga means "new prints." It is an early 20th century Japanese movement, a new wave of woodblock printing. The artist is Yoshida Hiroshi, one of my favorites. You can see his work here. Cool stuff, eh? You'll notice that some of the images I have are similar to each other. That's because each run of prints tended to be different, so it's interesting to place different impressions adjacent to each other.
I'll put some more below the fold...
If I could be "any artist," Jules Guerin is the guy. 1866 to 1946. (Despite the name, he's an American, from St Louis, and I'd hazard a guess that is name was pronounced, "Jools Goorin," not "Zhool Zhur-AHN.")
Someone described his work as "Art Nouveau combined with meticulous draftsmanship." That to me is about as good as it gets! Real and concrete things, rendered with love, and respect for their true qualities. And at the same time infused with the mysterious profundity and beauty we sometimes glimpse, but can hardly express.
The first image is Guerin's painting of the Arch Of The Rising Sun, in the Court Of The Universe, part of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exhibition, in San Francisco. (second image is a photo of it.) It has a special meaning for me, because my grandfather, a recent immigrant from Sweden, made his way from Visalia to SF, to see the amazing exhibition. I recently learned that Guerin was the Director of Color for the exhibition, and created a color palette that the entire exhibition had to follow. Right down to the color of the sand spread on the paths! A first in history.
Check out this page for some good Jules Guerin images. Click on the pictures to get to the large versions.
This is a miscellaneous album that's especially interesting to me for illustrations by Louis Darling of Eleanor Cameron's books, which influenced me in my childhood. That's where the name Random Jottings comes from. (More here.) The enlarged picture was on my first version of this blog, once I grasped that it was possible to add pictures! (My ignorance was profound. For instance, I had no idea one could link to a particular blog-post. But that was in 2001, which in Internet Time is about 70 years ago.)
When I was young, a person would have to be a millionaire to possess the amount of art that I'm carrying on my belt.
January 11, 2011
We Weidners decided that our current dog, Aidan, a standard poodle, needed a poodle pet to play with. So now we have a new six month-old pup, Miranda. She was bred as a show dog, but then she had a brief seizure while being groomed. So the owner gave her to us. They were so panicky over this that she hasn't been groomed for like, forever. She's the Dreadlock Kid, and smelly to boot, until we can manage to get her trimmed. It's all very funny. We have to put the hair on her forehead up in little pony-tails, so she can see! She's a real sweetheart...
July 9, 2010
Blogger and poet Alan Sullivan has died; I have quoted him often here. Charlene and I once had lunch with him and his partner Tim Murphy in Fargo, ND! She and I will both miss reading him. He was always so open about his life and feelings that I feel closer to him than one normally would with an Internet acquaintance. Also, he came to Catholic faith not very long after I did. That was something that astonished and delighted us...
This is the last stanza of Alan and Tim's translation of Beowulf...
High on the headland they heaped his grave-moundSome old posts that mention Alan... Link, link, link, link, link, link.
which seafaring sailors would see from afar.
Ten days they toiled on the scorched hilltop,
the cleverest men skillfully crafting
a long-home built for the bold in battle.
They walled with timbers the trove they had taken
sealing in stone the circlets and gems
wealth of the worm-hoard gotten with grief
gold from the ground gone back to Earth
as worthless to men as when it was won
the sorrowing swordsman circled the barrow
twelve of his earls telling their tales,
the sons of nobles sadly saluting
deeds of the dead. So dutiful thanes
in liege to their lord mourn him with lays
praising his peerless prowess in battle
as it is fitting when life leaves the flesh.
Heavy-hearted his hearth-companions
grieved for Beowulf great among kings,
mild in his mien most gentle of men,
kindest to kinfolk and keenest for fame.
May 22, 2010
"Back two spaces" in the board game of life...
A friend of ours, Kirk Kelsen, has written a good piece for the American Thinker, The Speaker Who Won't Speak with the People:
Kirk's attempts to engage Speaker Pelosi's staff in discussing the constitutionality of the health care bill seem naive to the point of being charmingly dream-like. Kirk, she's a demon from Hell, for pity's sake! Asking Pelosi about the Constitution is like asking Grendel to discuss table etiquette for a collation de minuit in a Mead Hall.
But Kirk is just dead-on on the way government regulations morph into government control even in supposedly private institutions. Finicky regulations multiply endlessly, and one says, "What is the purpose of this idiocy?" Well, the purpose is to train us to obedience to the welfare state. And to grind down any energy we might put into questioning the system.
Charlene and I recently applied for a mortgage pre-approval. I submitted recent bank statements, as is usual, and they were rejected! Why? Because they didn't have all their pages. I omitted the page that explains how to balance a bank statement, and also the page that said, "This page left deliberately blank." So, an hour or so wasted finding the statements online and sending them where they should go. My mood, after this and a lot of other hoop-jumpings-though? A kind of dull despair. Reform is impossible—most people can't even grasp what the problem is. (And it is possible that there is no there there. Some regulator may have frowned, and the obedient ant-workers of the "private" sector just imagined that all the pages were required, and spread the word that this is a new "regulation.")
...As massive new regulations blur the division between private business and federal government, choices will become limited to products supplied only by large corporations able to comply.
Or our choices disappear altogether.
Whether for banking or healthcare; or -- if Cap and Trade regulations become law -- selling a home or choosing what to eat, these transactions will be subject to a barrage of applications, either filled out by the citizen directly or shuffled upstream to companies supplying the goods and services we use, everyday. You liked trans-fats? Too bad. New York's Bloomberg regulations are going national.
But we'll get used to it. Engaging in federally restricted activities is like playing a board game: comply, and your application wends through a series of non-negotiable authorizations, albeit at glacial speed. Interrupt the normal process and it could be "back two spaces," so better to keep one's head down. Better, instead (as I did), to sign the Penalty of Perjury statement swearing that I am who I am, and wait for a bureaucrat to agree....
April 8, 2010
Closing the gap...
Remember this post from last week, with the video of my Mom? Well, she's now in second place, only 70 votes behind the leader.
SO, if you just happen to have a wierd impulse to cast a vote for someone named Weidner, you can go here and do so! (She's on the bottom of the third page. The deadline is tomorrow (Friday) the 9th at 9:00 pm.)
March 29, 2010
Some Weidner doings...
This is a video featuring my mother (with a brief appearance by my sister Mary), at Weidners Gardens, the family business, in Encinitas, CA. She made the video for a contest by the marketing company VerticalResponse, whose services she uses.
You can see the contest here. If you like the video you might cast a vote for her! (She's at the bottom of page 3.) Contest closes April 9.
I helped to build some of the things you see in the background, long long ago. I grew up working with plants, but never made it my career. The web site for Weidners Gardens is here.
March 27, 2010
Live-blogging "Earth Hour"
I put my halogen work-light outside, to really get into the spirit of celebrating the top dogs in Earth's cat fight. Then was lucky to have the Earth's sidekick shining right there in the sky...
Update: Charlene says I should put it: "Earth's sidekick, upon whom only one flag has been planted." Quite right. And we claimed it, so we own it. We may possibly rent out patches to other countries, if they are nice to us.
January 8, 2010
A bit more of Yosemite...
Here's another picture from Yosemite Valley. (We're home now, by the way.) That's a bridge over the Merced River, with Half Dome in the background. Notice how nice the reflection of the bridge in the water is. We took a mid-week vacation, the best time because few people are around, and rates are low. Once I wandered away from the roads I'd hardly see another soul. We wouldn't dream of going to the valley in summertime, it would just be absurd...
Below the fold you can see Charlene relaxing in front of the fire in her "Fortress of Solitude," the rustic Weidner cabin, pondering deep and dangerous thoughts. Be very afraid, collectivists!
January 5, 2010
We are away for a few days...
Charlene and I and one of our sons are spending 3 days in Yosemite Valley. Stunning place of course. I won't try to do it justice, and right now I'm more inclined to drink Scotch by the fire than blog.... but here's one picture that I liked. We hiked up to lower Yosemite Falls, and this is the stream that flows therefrom....
December 31, 2009
Happy New Year to all, from the Weidners!
December 25, 2009
I and a few others in our parish, St Dominic's San Francisco, have been working on getting podcasts of homilies (sermons) up on the parish web-site. It has not been easy to get the ball rolling! But at last there is progress...
You can see them here. Just click on the "Homilies Podcasts" button on the left. They are all good so far (the Dominicans are not called the "Order of Preachers" for nothing) but I especially recommend anything by Fr. Xavier Lavagetto, our pastor.
I assembled most of those. (Feel free to criticize.) I've been using the Apple program Garageband, which is quite astonishin', and very easy to use...
December 24, 2009
The trouble with Midnight Mass...
...is that it leaves a sort of empty space in the evening ahead of time... Which is likely to be filled not with constructive activities—too late for that—but with mischievous flurryings such as ... blogging...
You'll like this one!
(Thanks to Hillbuzz)
December 19, 2009
Charlene and Betsy just got back from seeing Avatar, and they give it a very high recommendation. They said it was gorgeous, and that they thought they had been in the theater for perhaps 1 1/ 2 hours, and upon emerging checked the time, and found they had been watching for three hours!
November 13, 2009
Review: "Where The Wild Things Are"
Excerpted from an e-mail from my daughter Elizabeth, who is a credit to her parents...
The girls and I saw "Where the Wild Things Are" on Veteran's day (though I pleaded to go see "The Men Who Stare at Goats," which looks hilarious! And has Ewan McGregor, and he's definitely in my top-five of people, were I an actress, I would want to work with). WTWTA wasn't really worth it. The girls were okay with it, but I thought it was almost nihilistic and hopeless. It seemed to glorify all the things that were bad about being a child, and didn't resolve anything at all. I'm moderately peeved to say the least. It definitely could have been better.
And now instead of being a beloved children's book, it is something the hipster-indie-chic kids are looking at as the next bible. They think it's the coolest thing, and they won't really see that they need to grow up (these are the kids who wear American Apparel, and buy shoes that light up, like the ones I had when I was a kid, because now, instead of wearing them to be cool, they're wearing them for the irony of them being not cool. It's really deep, you should try it).
September 13, 2009
Wacky long-hair impresses Mr & Mrs Random Jottings....
Charlene and I subscribe to the performances of the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, which we recommend highly! Awesome music performed on period instruments. We went last week to a splendid program of Haydn, and Beethoven's 7th.
But what was really amazin' was the Haydn Concerto for Violoncello in C major, with soloist cellist Steven Isserlis. My first thought was that Isserlis was some kind of spoof, he was so funny-looking and odd. Like Harpo Marx pretending to be a soulful musician. But then he started playing, (on his Strad) and even a dull and un-musical guy like me had to just say, Wow!
July 5, 2009
Knee high on the Fourth of July....
Reg'ler reader & friend Scott Chaffin has some pix he took of the San Antonio Tea Party.
I had to laugh ruefully, seeing pictures of people flocking to the shady spots, escaping the broiling Texas sun. Because the Fourth is always foggy in coastal SF, and I put on a turtleneck shirt this afternoon to go out and grill some burgers!
Mostly I love my burg, liberal nihilist loony-bin though it is, but every fourth of July I have the same thought.... It's WRONG! It's against nature to be cold on Independence Day!!!!
April 10, 2009
The Easter eggs on the banner above were painted by Charlene and our daughter Betsy!
March 22, 2009
My own "Bridge to Nowhere"
The new Random Jottings banner picture above was taken this week, on a walk across the Golden Gate Bridge with my older son and his girlfriend. Streamers of fog were pouring through the Gate, and one minute we'd be in bright sun, and the next in inspissated mist, with the city and the towers of the bridge completely invisible. I just got lucky with the shot. (I won't comment on any of the eleven possible symbolic meanings...)
I've lived in San Francisco since the mid 70's, and I've yet to get bored with the bridge! There's always a different angle, a different light, to make it seem like you're really seeing it for the first time.
Here's a sunny moment...
March 17, 2009
We were at the Monterey Bay Aquarium yesterday. It's really an amazing place--extremely well done. These are just a couple of quickie videos I took. The first one is from the Sea Otter tank...
And these are some little jellyfish plankton. They are the most delicate things...no bigger than your thumb.
December 10, 2008
Life in SF...
My wife the lawyer got in two new cases today....Ting and Tang!
Now she's humming some song about a witch-doctor.
September 21, 2008
I found this piece by Thomas Tallis and sung by the Cambridge Singers, posted by DREADNAUGHT. It's utterly beautiful.
(My son the singer heard it and immediately lost his usual indifference to the teejus blog doings of his father. He instantly said, "That's a canon." And proceeded to explain to me how a canon works, and why it pleases the ear. With examples played on the piano. Of course it was all Greek to me, but cool nonetheless...)DREADNAUGHT writes:
....How do we love each other? Like the Christ loved us. That one is a mystery. I won't venture there.
How do we love God? Here there is another mystery, but we have some guidance.
In John, Jesus tells us to love Him by keeping His commandments. It is one of those times when He clearly marks Himself out as more than another prophet, beyond just a man of God. The Christ has come in Jesus, and He is the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity. The commandments He references are the same ones Moses brought down from Mount Sinai.
Notice the sequence:
If you love Me. Keep My commandments. Then, I will ask the Father. The Father will listen to Me. On the strength of My prayer, the Father will give you another Comforter. The Comforter will abide with you. Truth will come down, and abide with you forever.
It is a mighty thing that Jesus makes for us....
And the simplicity under the simplicity is that it's what you DO that matters. In the realm of faith, or just in slogging through daily life. (The two are really the same.) What you feel or think or intend, or your profound elite mystical insights, are secondary at best.
July 26, 2008
My latest oddball project...
Our son Will is singing with the Lamplighters in this summer's performance of The Mikado. (He's in the chorus, plus he's the understudy for Nanki-Poo.) And the director wanted to ornament the drama with a Taiko drum.
So they arranged to borrow a drum, in exchange for providing a stand for it. Which is where I came in. The stand was initially going to be a simple affair of two-by-fours bolted together, but somehow, once i was kinda committed to the project, it.......grew. And grew. The stand ended up having through-tenons, held in by pegs that can be removed so it can be disassembled. I'll stain it and finish it when there's a break in the rehearsals.
Here's Will giving drum and stand a trial run, at Emeryville Taiko...
July 4, 2008
Happy Fourth of July!
I came upon this old photo and scanned it. It's hard to imagine these three are now driving cars and going to college! The picture is taken on the balcony of our house. We are very lucky to live on our quiet circle, with grass and shaggy trees in the middle...
June 29, 2008
I haven't blogged yet about our trip to the Holy Land. Really, I'm not a good enough writer to express what feel. And what I feel will tend to be regarded as crazy by most people, since I believe that there is, all around us, much that is real without being in any way observable by natural or scientific means. I am very much not a Nominalist, and Nominalism is the factory-default setting for people in our culture. (In fact I'm coming to suspect that the common thread in all the things that creep me out, and that I blog against, such as Communism, Postmodernism, Nihilism, Deconstructionism, "Progressivism" and the like is....Nominalism. Here's a summary on that subject)
And the unseen realities are not off in some woo woo "spiritual realm;" they interpenetrate our world at every point. The eyes of Faith can, to some extent perceive them. And yes of course I'm aware that such subtleties can be just self-deception, just products of the imagination. BUT, but, going up to Jerusalem...It's like having pondered hints of the unseen that are sort of like faded postcards of Yosemite...and then actually going to Yosemite. Words are useless. The reality is awesome....
Anyway, I just blog for the fun of it, so it doesn't matter what I write. Pass by, or pay attention. SO, attendez! (And thank you Mary Anderberg for prodding me.) In the picture below you are standing on the Mount of Olives. You are looking west. In the foreground is the Jewish cemetery. (The world's most expensive, by the way. You could easily pay a million bucks to rest your bones there.) It's hard to realize it in the picture, but the hillside is steep, especially past those spiky junipers. You can walk down that walled road on your right and you will go down to the Garden of Gethsemane hidden below the brow of the hill.
The Valley is the Kidron Valley. Above the spiky trees you can see its other slope. There are the remains of old terraces of olive trees, then a road, then the Moslem Cemetery, and then, the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. Which on this side are where they have been for more than 2,000 years. (They've been rebuilt a few times, but in the same place.) Behind the wall you see a lot of greenery. That is the Temple Mount. It is a broad plateau built up over what was once a hill by the construction of vast retaining walls, the largest of them built by Herod the Great, who died in 4 B.C. Before AD 70 the plateau was covered by the Temple Complex, and, where that gold dome is, The Temple of Jerusalem. The gold dome is on the Dome of the Rock, a Moslem shrine (Not a mosque.)
When you look at that dome you are looking at the center of the world. Not the scientific center, but the real center. That's the very hill where Abraham was asked to sacrifice his son. The very place where King David planned, and Solomon built the first Temple...
Or, more accurately, you are looking at what used to be the center. 2,000 years ago the center was moved. Look to the left and a little above the dome. You will see a small grey shape, below the tallest building on the horizon. That's the grey dome of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. (It's not really small—just distant.) That's the place where Jesus of Nazareth was killed, buried, and rose again to life.
In Roman days it was a knob of rock just outside the city walls, with quarries, and also with the rock-cut tombs used by those who could afford them. A good conspicuous place for making an example of those who don't appreciate the benefits of big government....
Now I had none of this geography clear in my head when I went to Jerusalem. Perhaps I dozed off in Sunday school, but I had never got the hang of how things fit together. Saliba, our splendid guide, would always get us going early in the mornings to miss the crowds. So we wandered onto the Temple Mount when almost no one else was there. That in itself was a moment of a lifetime. But then we walked to the Dome of the Rock, and Saliba pointed out that you could draw a straight line between the Holy Sepulcher and the Garden of Gethsemane, and it would pass exactly though the Temple. You can see it. That just made my hair want to stand on end.
If I maintain my energy perhaps next Sunday I'll walk you downhill, down the walled road that's on the right side of the photo...
June 24, 2008
An RJ reader does us proud!
Regulars will have noticed that yesterday our friend Ethan Hahn commented for the first time since about last March. You may possibly have wondered where he was.
Well, I knew, but I couldn't tell. Until now. Here's Robert Ethan Hahn, of the United States Army Reserves...
Is that totally cool, or what! He tells me that Random Jottings helped inspire him for this adventure....I think he's being too kind; anyway it's he who inspires me right now.
Here's another picture. (He's preparing to fire a "Rumsfeld," one of our new anti-satellite bazookas...)
April 24, 2008
Oh, by his cockle hat and staff, And by his sandal shoon
Blogging will be paused for a while, because tomorrow, Charlene and I are off and away for our first overseas venture since 2001. Leaving our children home to run the circus. (Well, they really can't be called children any more—young adults—and considering all the pets one night call this a zoo.)
Where are we going? You will be amazed. Saturday night we will shall sleep by the shores of the Sea of Galilee, in Tiberius! We are off to the Holy Land with a group from our parish. I'm not bringing a computer, nor planning to blog along the way. But I shall bring back pictures, and tales of derring-do.... See you in about 10 days.
Jerusalem du cote du Nord, by DAVID ROBERTS, Scottish, 1796-1864
April 14, 2008
We know these guys...
I think my dear wife just captured Mr Obama's essence perfectly. She said, "He's a white liberal elitist."
March 31, 2008
Another day, another ducat....
Charlene was working—lawyering, you know—in a Hispanic neighborhood today, and saw a car with a couple of bumper stickers...
(She spent a tedious day inspecting apartments in a matter of lawsuits over habitability. She said her one good moment was when she saw a stuffed dog hanging from a ceiling, and said, "Perro piñata!")
March 11, 2008
The last WWI vet...
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush met the last known surviving veteran of the first world war on Thursday, thanking the 107-year-old for his service and his "love for America."
Bush called Frank Buckles "the last living doughboy from World War I" and said the centenarian still has a crisp memory.
"Mr. Buckles has a vivid recollection of historic times, and one way for me to honor the service of those who wear the uniform in the past and those who wear it today is to herald you, sir, and to thank you very much for your patriotism and your love for America," the president said, seated with Buckles in the Oval Office.
"We're glad you're here."
Buckles, who turned 107 last month, lied about his age to join the U.S. Army at the age of 16...
This seems so poignant and strange to me. When I was young, the gray-haired distinguished men who ran things were of the WWI Generation. Harry Truman, Ike, the presidents of big corporations. And the handsome young men who were just starting to get on in the world were the WWII generation. Now the men of the AEF are all gone. nd the men and women of WWII are pretty much out of public life. (Except one guy, named Josef Ratzinger!)
There was an old-timer who worked for my dad who fought in WWI. Well, actually, he told me that on his first day in France he got in a knife fight with another southern boy, and that was the end of his war! He chewed tobacco--that was a fascinating thing to a boy. And not snuff; he bit pieces off a chaw. And chewed, and then spit. A bit of history I'm glad to have seen, but don't miss....
August 16, 2007
I've been a teensy bit busy. But seeing this guy only a pane of glass away was a treat to share..
Hippopotamus, at the San Diego Zoo...
July 27, 2007
Death can strike at any moment....
The explosion at Scaled Composites is a big deal for our family, because my brother-in-law works there. Fortunately, he was not there at the time it happened, but if he'd been at work, he would likely have been close to the blast. Pray for the dead and injured!
Here's my post on the time we were there to watch SpaceShipOne win the X-Prize...
July 22, 2007
A moment of concern...
We recently had an ecumenical service at the parish, and a very splendid thing it was...
CATHOLIC SAN FRANCISCO: Peace, reconciliation, unity are themes of June 28 event at St. Dominic Church
An evening of sacred music and sacred readings featuring themes of peace and reconciliation June 28 St. Dominic Parish was capped by exhortations from leaders of San Francisco's Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox communities for their traditions to continue pursuit of mutual understanding and unity.
Following their remarks to a nearly full church, Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Gerasimos and Archbishop George H. Niederauer lit in unison the final candle of a candelabra which had served as symbol of growing unity during the evening. Between choral offerings, pairs of youngsters — one Greek Orthodox, one Catholic — would walk to the altar area and each light a candle on either side of the candelabra.
Titled "Litany for Peace: An Ecumenical Evening of Sacred Readings and Music," the program featured three choral ensembles — the Solemn Choir of St. Dominic Church and the choirs of San Francisco's Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral and Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church...
Photo by Arne Folkedal
�2007 ArneFolkedal@gmail.com, used by permission. [Thanks!]
The little awkwardness for me was that I built that platform they are standing on. And all I had been told was that it was for the children, to help them reach the candles! Of course I had made it very sturdy, I know how to do this stuff. But still I felt a bit queasy when I realized that these two important guys were about to stand on it together... "The early 21st Century seemed to be experiencing a new dawn of ecumenism, until the catastrophic incident in San Francisco..."
May 26, 2007
War-dances, and similar...
One of my children asked: What's with "renewing marriage vows?" Don't people know how to keep a contract? I don't renew my library card unless it's expired...
You are not using the right tools to analyze this stuff. The analogy is not to renewing a library card. The analogy is to Injuns war-dancing around the campfire before going into battle.
Why do such an illogical thing? Because on some deep level humans respond to ceremonies and rituals. And to a thousand other non-rational clues. For instance, young people often respond to the ceremonial of a high school graduation by taking on a new level of maturity. And their families respond by looking at them somewhat differently, and expecting more from them. None of this can be quantified or "proven," but it seems to be true.
The trouble for conservatives like me is that our belief that things like old ceremonies are valuable can't be demonstrated, so it is hard to defend such things in the "culture wars." For instance, people are forever inventing new ways to get married, such as underwater with scuba gear, or by fudging up a hippie "new age" marriage ceremony. I think these are REALLY bad ideas, that harm all of us, but I can't easily point to any specific harm done.
Actually it is very easy to forget marriage vows in the rush of events, like raising children, and so reminders are a good thing for anyone. You and I would both tend to avoid hokey ceremonies, but it might be better to endure them if it would do us or our spouses good.
(Being a Catholic is VERY good discipline for people in this regard, by the way, because it gives one daily practice in remembering what's really important in the midst of life's distractions. Often by means of ceremonies, ancient texts, smells, sights, postures, beads, music, etc. Crazy, like a war-dance, but it works. And doing it repeatedly works--we are our habits.)
My theory, by the way, is that a lot of the deconstruction of traditional ways that we see is, mostly unconsciously, socialism. That is, people want to destroy the old ties of families, clubs, churches, private schools, because what they really want is to atomize people, and have everyone dependent ONLY on the state.
I should explain again, though I'm probably wasting electrons, that I value things like ancient ceremonies NOT because I'm someone who wants to "turn back the clock," but because I think we are all being hurled at hideous speed into change and into the future, and we need these things as tools in our toolboxes precisely for coping with the new and the unexpected.
Imagine that someone grabs you and stuffs you into a time machine, and sends you 100 years into the future. There is no way to prepare for the specific things you will encounter. (And it is certain that they will be bewildering and frightening.) But you can be philosophically prepared by being grounded in universal truths and in authoritative traditions...
May 14, 2007
The family problem that's been keeping the Weidners from things like blogging is solved, at least the biggest part of it. I may tell you all about it someday...it's been.......interesting.
Now I'm back, but I can't think of a single thing to say...maybe tomorrow.
March 18, 2007
Long day, on airplanes. It's good to be home with the rest of my family.
Here's a train yard in Grand Forks. We walked up an overpass, but I was too cold to compose the picture, just aimed in the general direction and shot...I love train yards; all those horizontal lines converging in the distance are just too bewitching. And in the snow, even better.
March 17, 2007
We've arrived in Grand Forks, but I'm too fizzled-out to write anything. Rob recommends this YouTube: Planets and Stars To Scale. Just to put things in perspective.
March 16, 2007
My camera's working again. Here's a shot looking back at the Rocky Mountains as we head out onto the plains. A poor picture, but it gives some idea of the amazing contrast, because of the way the Rockies rise very abruptly from the plains. The terrain in the foreground is what we drove through today for hundreds of miles. In the background is a wall of mountains.
Today's journey across the plains did not make for exciting pictures, because you just can't capture in a small rectangle the experience of being able to look around and see for hundreds of miles in any direction. But I think it moves my spirit more than do dramatic snowy peaks.
OH, and there's something else that never fails to thrill me...
We are stopped for the night at Medora, ND. (Where trains pass through frequently) A very strange experience. Medora is a tourist trap, a "wild west" town that is set up to cater to thousands of people. In the summer. Nobody's here now! Spooky. It's a kind of imitation-ghost-town ghost town. We got some chow in the only eatery open, a ramshackle cowboy saloon that is obviously ready to feed burgers and beer to large rollicking crowds. But Rob and I were the only customers. And the two fellows running it were glued to the TV over the bar, watching imitation hillbillies on the Dukes of Hazzard. Too funny. But the food was OK.
But I already "know" Medora, from reading biographies of Teddy Roosevelt. So it was interesting to poke around the ruins left by the Marquis de Mores, and ponder the changes that have occurred since the 1880's.
March 15, 2007
Pictures, not so hotso...
Today we drove a little farther across Nevada (I love it) and then headed up US 93 to Twin Falls in Idaho. Then across Southern Idaho (boring) and north, past the NW corner of Yellowstone (gorgeous country) to Bozeman, Montana. (Stunning place. But it's been "discovered.") My camera failed me, however. Battery won't hold a charge more than one day. Here's a pic from yesterday, and then some cell-phone pix.
That's me driving in Nevada, and the blur in the middle is a big dust-devil—we saw lots of them. (Not much of a picture, I know)
Here are some wagon-ruts that still exist from the early pioneers. They are from where they would climb a bluff up from the Humboldt River Valley. The Humboldt crosses most of Nevada, and it's so obviously the only way across the state for the old wagons. There's not much water anywhere else. The last part, after the Humboldt dies, must have been a grim trek.
We are not looking for history by the way, just driving. But there's a lot of it lying around. In Idaho we followed the course of the Snake River. You've heard of it.
I love rivers in the desert. Intensely. But they are hard to photograph. Even with the real camera the pictures just come out grayish and drab.
I really shouldn't post this, but it will remind me of the real scene, which was intense. I walked through a forest of tall white brush—crackly-dry, but just starting to bud out. The river (the Little Salmon) was fast and cold and green. There were still patches of snow on the ground, but the black cliff-faces were starting to bake in the early sun.
Here are some of the the cliffs...
December 7, 2006
Happy birthday, Rob!
December 7th is actually a happy day for the Weidners. Our oldest son was born on this day, 21 years ago. (After a drive across town through a howling rainstorm at 2 in the morning!)
September 13, 2006
...Want to have some fun? The next time you and your fellow conservatives are gathered together and having a merry old time discussing the WOT, the decline of the family, welfare reform, etc, wait for a pause and then launch into a tirade against the execrable quality and corrupting influence of modern music. Before your very eyes you will see everyone start to squirm and strategize how to shut you up until after the next election. Their body language will scream: “Why can’t this wingnut just stick with The Rapture?” Alan Bloom succeeded in belling the cat and living to tell the tale, but almost everyone else who dares to say what we all know perfectly well is marked as a spent force who would be well and compassionately advised to just go on home quietly and die.
Nothing captures the sheer horror of the modern decline more than trying to introduce your iPod-addicted twelve year old to the classics, only to have him snap back that his taste is every bit as good as yours while his glaring mother stands by clasping the telephone number of the child protection authorities....
I'm very lucky to have children with some musical taste. (And far more musical abilities than their father. It comes from Charlene's side.) We drive them to school in the morning, and while they do not, at that time of the day, talk, they do like to listen to our local classical station.
August 6, 2006
....From a pleasant weekend at Sunset State Beach, near Santa Cruz. It's not a great place to take pictures; like much of coastal California it's rather desert-like and colorless. But the poppies were going crazy...
You can see our blue van, and blue and gray tent in the middle background...
July 30, 2006
Emigrant Wilderness, some more pictures
Just in case there's someone else out there who likes granite as much as I do...
For a person like me who loves to walk, the cool thing about the high Sierra is that you can walk in almost any direction you choose. There are almost no thickets or tangles or bogs to impede you. And the rough crystalline surface of the rock gives such good traction that you can walk up some very steep slopes in perfect safety...
These trees below made me think of those walking trees that the Ents herded in the (book) Lord of the Rings...
July 26, 2006
The trip we've just come back from was another horse-packing adventure into the Emigrant Wilderness, with the help of the good folks at Aspen Meadow Pack Station. It was, like last year, awesome! Unbelievably beautiful. Especially if, like me, you like rocks! Weathered and rounded, sculpted and glacier-carved rocks--the whole place is rock, with a thin layer of soil and trees in crevices and hollows.
I've got hundreds of pictures like this. I'll post some more soon...
June 4, 2006
And now we are home again...
Too short a get-away to even feel rested, but we went to Big Sur, and the sights sure were nice. This Acorn Woodpecker can catch peanuts in mid-air...
May 4, 2006
I give up...
This morning our faithful old Maytag washer failed. It would wash, but not go into the spin cycle and drain.
Whenever I have a broke machine, I always at least poke around and see if there are any loose wires. But there never are, so this time I didn't bother. (I did check that the belt wasn't broken, or the pump seized up.)
I called a repairman. He investigated, and seemed mystified. Suddenly it started to spin. He said, "That's funny. I just touched that wire, and it started. Must have been loose."
May 1, 2006
Yesterday, after weeks and months of wet and dreary weather, we had a day of surpassing clarity and sweetness. So there isn't much to say, except that we enjoyed it thoroughly. As did all the neighbors.
This is a (poor) picture of a Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum "Shin Deshojo") that has brilliant red new leaves in Spring...In a few weeks the leaves will turn green. And in front of it some Maidenhair ferns that also have reddish new growth.
I did say one funny thing. Due to stupidity. On the way to church we drive past another church, and I said. "It's sad how that church never looks like it has much going on."
Charlene replied, "It's Seventh Day Adventist!"
March 30, 2006
This doesn't have any significance, it's just a picture I snapped hastily, and liked. That's St Ignatius Church in the middle The mountain in the background is Mt Tamalpais, across the Golden Gate in Marin County. On my right is the aptly named Buena Vista Park. (Long ago, when I was young, and new to SF, I happened to cut through that park, and thought it peculiar that everyone I saw was male. It eventually dawned on me that it was a gay rendezvous. I have no idea if it still is.)
March 11, 2006
This will seem boring to much of the planet...
But we had snow last night in San Francisco. This is the first time I've seen it like this....
I'm not sure snow is the right word. It was more like soft mushy hail. No flakes, little clumps... But it was a wild storm we had last night, with lots of nearby lightning strikes, and people out with their kids on the streets throwing snowballs, and cars skidding, and Hwy 1 closed north of the GG Bridge due to ice that caused a 30-car pile-up...
I blame Bush! If he had said nice things about the Kyoto Treaty, and done a few Goddess Rosaries, the earth gods would not have been restive.
February 11, 2006
My son Will (the singer) and I went on a "hard-hat tour" of what will be the new home of the SF Conservatory of Music at 50 Oak St. I was fascinated--I Iove seeing what's happening "backstage" of almost anything. Will seemed pretty interested too, though he's too cool to show it.
They've taken a historic 6-story 1907 building, and just kept two facades and a ballroom. Everything else is new, including digging an extra below-ground level and creating completely new foundations. There will be many new classrooms and practice rooms, with double walls and enough other insulation that sound from one won't impinge on the adjacent one. And three performance halls so well sound-proofed that the fire trucks on the next block can't be heard at all.
This is the largest of the three performance halls. What you see is the old ballroom, which forms the audience end of the hall. (Not my photo; this space was mostly stuffed with scaffolding today, and we had to guess at what it would look like.)
They've done a lot of really neat things. On the three top floors, where most of the classrooms and practice rooms are, the main corridor on each floor has curved walls, convex, so the corridor is narrower in the middle. This is visually exciting, creates wide areas where people can gather, makes it easier to roll pianos around the corner, and gives all the adjoining rooms a curved wall,which is much better acoustically!
They also scattered practice rooms and studios throughout the building, tucking them into odd corners. They don't want there to be any "enclaves." Everyone will have to move around and mix. The only enclave is the administrative offices, grouped around a "workroom" with all the printers and copiers...
We were on a balcony up near the ceiling of one performance hall, and could see drywall being applied 5 layers thick! And a floating ceiling being built, that hung from things like the shock-absorbers in your car. Also, the ceiling was not square to the room, but lower in one corner.
You can see more pictures here.
January 21, 2006
Charlene went marching today, on the Walk For Life. She had a great time, but was disappointed that the counter-protesters were a pretty puny bunch, so she doesn't have much exciting to report. No violence, only one giant puppet, and the twisted-demented-and-repulsive component was pretty mild by SF standards...
She thought the marchers numbered several thousands, and the anti's only a hundred or so....
She took pix that show more marchers, but I liked this one, with the Balclutha in the background, and the steam ferryboat Eureka next to it. [You're letting yourself wander off-topic --ed. Ooops.] Charlene regrets not getting a picture of the Gay/Lesbian Pro-Life group!
She said the anti's kept running ahead and posing themselves as a backdrop to the march, so they would look more impressive on TV.
Update: More links and details here. Apparently there were 15,000 people on the march!
Notice the same sign in different places...
You know, maybe some people should be in burqas...
AND, in the Giant Puppet category, the WINNER, and only entrant...
December 21, 2005
A day by the sea...
Charlene, Rob, Betsy and I joined our friends Dave Trowbridge, Deborah Ross and their daughter Rose, for an excursion to A�o Nuevo State Reserve, to see the Elephant Seals. They are one of nature's extravagances, and this little spit and offshore island called A�o Nuevo is the only place in the world you can get a good look at them. They only come on land once a year, for mating and calving.
There's no easy way to convey their scale in a picture--you do NOT want to go stand next to them--but the big male lifting his head in the middle of the picture is probably 15" long, and weighs about 5,000 lb. (4.57 meter, 2267 kg). The slug-like blobs on the left are his harem of females.
That guy could be dangerous if he thought you were another male, or if you got between him and a male he wanted to drive away. Though they move on land by sort of galumpfing along with their blubbery bodies they can hit up to 35 mph for a short run, before overheating. They look absurd on land, but at sea they are superb predators, diving as deep as 5,000 feet (1524 meters) twice as deep as our subs go, to gorge on squid. They spend perhaps 8 minutes on the surface breathing and the rest of an hour underwater. They also sleep underwater, and we saw one in a shallow pond, happily snoozing with his head under water.
It was a very misty and rainy day, and a few hours hiking on the dunes made us very glad to get back to our van for some of Charlene's awesome Red Bell Pepper soup.
Here's a closer look at one...We were cold and wet, but he spends most of his life in freezing water, and finds the land too warm for comfort...
November 24, 2005
Charlene, the only "morning person" in the family, was up betimes, working her usual magic in the kitchen. Here are our pies...
Widdershins, from the front: pear tart, shaker lemon, pecan, pumpkin, cranberry-apple, and in the middle, pumpkin with maple.
October 20, 2005
In trial every day...
Beldar has a great post, with fascinating anecdotes, on the question of trial experience in the Miers nomination...
...Thus, I can tell you this with great confidence, even without knowing whether Ms. Miers would or would not meet my highly subjective standards for being a "real trial lawyer": JPod's [John Podhoretz's] assumption — "If Miers has spent her career helping people and corporations avoid courtrooms, that doesn't suggest she has any judicial legal skills whatsoever" — is badly wrong. His insistence that settled cases are "beside the point" means that he's never understood how litigation actually works, and that's why all those "billions" of lawyers are emailing him! It's the sort of thing that only someone very inexperienced in the American civil justice system could say....
...The only way that lawyers who handle litigation can "help people and corporations avoid courtrooms" is by being fully prepared to go into courtrooms, and projecting to the other side their readiness and capability to do so...
This is something I can confirm. As you know, Mrs Random Jottings is a lawer. She's a skilled litigator, and takes cases to trial...and wins. However the great majority of her cases never get to trial; they are settled out-of-court.
But I can tell you, since I'm often her sounding-board, that actually she tries all of them! Every move is made with an eye on an eventual trial, and on how the other side is going to think about their chances in that trial. And as the pre-trial maneuverings go on, sometimes for years, the amount each party is willing to settle for keeps changing. If a witness looks good in deposition, or if a motion to exclude some morsel of evidence wins, then everyones calculations change...
October 6, 2005
My daughter would be pleased if you would be so good as to go here, where you can see the first nine minutes of Serenity. Then she feels you will surely feel compelled to see the film.
It's important, you see, that the movie be popular. There MUST be a sequel....She wants MORE!
August 1, 2005
Horse-packing into the Emigrant Wilderness...
It wasn't easy! Let me tell you, five or six hours in the saddle on steep rocky trails is about an hour too many. But I feel very proud of me, and my family, and our friend Pam--we did it! (Scotty couldn't make it, but...next time!) The trails were unbelievable. In many of the steep places they are built with steps made of slabs of stone--in some places hundreds of steps twisting and winding up the slopes and ravines. And in other places the trails cross great sloping sheets of bare stone, with the path marked only with cairns. Horses and mules clattered and clambered up rocky hills, or picked their way downhill with many a jolting drop.
I couldn't get any pictures of the most dramatic parts, I had to concentrate on riding! But this might give you a bit of the flavor of it..
That's my son Will, who was right in front of me, and further down you see Betsy and Charlene. Everything you see is rock, scoured by the glaciers of the last Ice Age. Those trees grow out of crevices, or little pockets of soil.
This is the horse I rode, named Robert. This was the first time in my life that I encountered a horse and felt instantly that he was just my style. And I was right. How I enjoyed him. He's big fellow, at least 17 hands. He responded to the smallest signals, and seemed to take the wildest and steepest--and sometimes downright terrifying--paths with aplomb. What a treat.
The trip was a mix of good and bad things. But for Charlene and I, the good far out-weighed the bad. We are avid for this sort of extreme natural beauty, and are willing to suffer for it.
Good: patches of snow remained on the slopes above our campground, feeding little streams and rivulets of fresh water. Superb.
Bad: The mosquitos had just hatched--we were tormented by them, and spent a lot of time sitting near smoky fires..
Good: We were in the high country, over 9,000 feet, with views of intense clarity and brilliance and drama.
Bad: When we were trapped for a while on a hot steep narrow trail due to pack-mule mishaps, I fainted from altitude-sickness and fell off my horse! Clunk. I was OK as soon as I got to moving and breathing deeply, but my poor family was terrified!
Here's me. Down below you see Deer Lake, where we camped. Close by here was a snow field, where I'm about to dig a load of snow to re-fill our ice-chest. (If you wonder why one would prefer horse-packing to back-packing, well, we had beer, wine, and a bottle of Laphroaig! And none of this "freeze-dried" food. Charlene cooked treats like blueberry cobbler in her Dutch Oven.)
Good: Wildflowers and alpine plants were exploding into their brief growing season.
Bad: Worst hay-fever I've ever had.
The Weidners have returned from a big adventure...pictures will be posted soon, I hope
May 7, 2005
Camping on Angel Island...
An awesome 36 hours...
Charlene and I and a couple of good friends just came back from one of the coolest camping trips ever. Angel Island, in San Francisco Bay, has a handful of campsites you can walk in to. We spent Friday night at one, and except for some park rangers we had the island to ourselves...
We hiked about 2 miles from the cove where the ferry lands (backpacking lite, with wine). On weekends the campsites are much in demand, but there were no other campers yesterday. We had the usual ingredients for a good time...friends, food, good weather and a beautiful spot.
BUT, what we hadn't anticipated, having only hiked and picnicked there before, was the surreal and oneiric experience of sitting in our campsite on a quiet and rustic slope and simultaneously seeing the intense urban vista of the Bay Area spread before us. Especially at night. There we were, cooking our s'mores over the campfire as we looked down on a parade of lighted ferries and tugboats and tankers, while beyond them the gazillion city lights of Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco blazed. And yet it was dark enough for us that the stars shone quite brightly. This poor picture does NOT do it any justice...
If someone asked, "What did you do on your trip?" I'd have to reply, "We mostly just stood there and stared in awe." I can't imagine there are very many places in the world where one could do something like this.
April 9, 2005
Day on the water...
Charlene and I had a great day today. We were out sailing on the Bay with friends. Beautiful weather, a total treat.
Here's Charlene taking a turn at the helm. The boat is a Sabre 36, and that's the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.
February 14, 2005
Born too early!
Charlene and I used to enjoy backpacking very much. She just noticed this item, which is pricey, but could eliminate some of the discomforts of life on the trail:
...In designing the Raku, Nunatak added sleeves and a drawstring-closure ankle hem to a standard mummy sleeping bag. To get in, loosen the drawcord at the bottom and slide the bag over your head; or enter via the main zipper, which runs down your sternum like in a jacket.
The extra-long sleeves keep your arms mobile but always insulated, and the bottom opening enables anyone to be a sleep walker. The benefits are numerous. No more cramped, cross-armed sleeping like the guest of honor at an open-casket funeral. No more twisting up in your sleeping bag every time you roll over. No more freezing your hands and arms when you want to read. No more enduring an uncomfortably full bladder while working up the nerve to answer nature's call on a chilly night...
January 23, 2005
Here's one of the rock-slides that temporarily trapped Charlene and Betsy in Ojai two weeks ago. This is Highway 33, about 11 miles north of the town.
This is the sort of thing that can happen in many places of coastal California. The mountains and hills of our Coastal Range tend to resemble heaps of rubble. Majestic granite peaks they are not. With heavy rains hillsides often dissolve into catastrophic soups of rock and mud, which sometimes rush down canyons scouring away anything in their path.
January 14, 2005
Visiting the City...
My daughter converses with a young girl visiting from Australia...
So how do you like San Francisco so far?
It's wonderful. I especially liked the street with the rainbow flags. It's so decorative.
Uh, you know what that's all about, don't you?
That's the Castro District where all the gay people live and work.
You keep them secluded ????
No no no, they like it there....
January 10, 2005
Stuck in the mud...
You've doubtless heard about the floods and mudslides in Southern California. My poor wife and daughter were visiting in Ojai, and are now stuck in a motel there because mudslides have closed the road out.
But they haven't suffered any real difficulties, except for brief power outages. They are only a few miles from La Conchita, where mudslides have left 2 dead and 12 people missing
Update: They are heading home...but from LA! after many hours of trying they escaped from Ojai, but could only go south. They will be coming home via US 5
December 25, 2004
Our friend Frank wins the prize for "Best Star Amayllis."
December 24, 2004
Charlene wins the prize...
harlene wins the prize for perfect timing of her Christmas bulbs...
...at least for this Amaryllis, in full bloom on Christmas Eve:
December 9, 2004
Liveblogging a pleasant morning...
It's a rainy morning, the children have gone away to their various schools, and Charlene is lingering a while before going downtown to her office to do justice.
And I just remembered that we have some nice Stilton and some Bosc pears that we've been meaning to eat all week, but keep forgetting about! So we are having Stilton and pears for our lazy breakfast—totally self-indulgent, except for the lack of sherry...
October 1, 2004
The Weidners will will be leaving tomorrow morning, and won't be back 'till Monday night. Hopefully after having witnessed the winning of the X-Prize! But technical problems or too much wind could mean nothing happens at all.
July 10, 2004
"warm rain" sounds so bizarre...
My son writes about North Dakota weather...
...I had to weather my stage 15 flight today, (I'll take it on Wednesday) because of thunderstorms, as well as a tornado warning, and possible winds gusting to 69 knots until 9 this evening. My flight instructor and I will fly in the evenings to get two lessons done per flight to get me caught up...Around here, "bad weather" means earthquakes...
....In San Francisco, rain means cold. Unfortunately here in Grand Forks, ND, right now rain means 73 degrees F. and 85% humidity. It was very odd watching people walk down the street holding both an umbrella to keep the rain off, and wearing shorts because of the heat.
Another thing that seemed strange to us San Franciscans when we were in ND, is that it's all white people! The maids cleaning our hotel rooms were blondes. I felt kind of at home when I went into a WalMart, because the clerks were Filipino. Oooops, wrong. Besides white folks, there's Injuns! Plenty. Rob also wrote:
... At dinner this evening, I was surrounded by Native Americans, there were A LOT! It was some kind of summer camp program I think. It took a lot of my energy NOT to look the right, and then to the left, and then to inform the person sitting in front of me "We're in deep trouble, Tonto") I had to bite my tongue to keep from laughing...Another curiosity: Alan Sullivan mentioned that if ND were a separate country, it would be the world's third-largest nuclear power...
June 21, 2004
Some pix from our vacation...
The high point of our vacation was spending a few days on a ranch in North Dakota. Knife River Ranch is no dude ranch, it's a working cattle ranch that also has cabins for a few guests. Ron and Lois Wanner and their sons are the best sort of hosts; we felt right at home. Entertainment is just loafing by the river, or watching the ranch work, or taking horseback rides—usually just riding along as the Wanners check up on cattle or horses in distant fields. Betsy got to to help chase cattle that had broken through a fence.
Here we rode out in the evening to take a look at a herd of younger horses, not yet ready to be trained.
and here's our daughter Betsy feeding a week-old colt whose mother doesn't have enough milk...
May 31, 2004
I jut talked with Charlene, who is in Salt Lake City, traveling Eastwith our oldest son Rob, who's off to college at UND. (The other kids and I will fly to Grand Forks when their schools are out, and we will drive back with various sightseeings and diversions.) anyway, Charlene says in Nevada you see big initials painted in white on various mountains. They are the initials of local towns. There's one town called "Battle Mountain," with a giant BM painted on the mountain.
May 24, 2004
Steps on the road...
The thoughts of parents when the oldest kid graduates from High School are many and varied, and beyond my poor powers as a writer to do justice to. For me, proud and sad and wondering if one is about to be "kicked upstairs" as a new generation emerges and elbows its way to the center of the stage. Astonishing how we sent our young boy to a boy's high school and now suddenly there are all these men. Big competent confident brutes.
Now our guy is headed off to college in the heartlands. North Dakota. To a school where his blond hair and Northern European extraction won't put him in an odd minority. Where Bondoc and Lacayanga and Huypungco are not ordinary last names. A place where I bet high school graduates are not draped with leis! You can see some in the background of the picture...
February 26, 2004
Code of the Woosters...
It's not my style to have a tip-jar, but if you like this blog, you might donate a few shekels to Dean Esmay. He's in a bind, and he very generously helped me (as he's helped many others) to move my weblog from the sloughs of Blogger to Movable Type.
January 19, 2004
Elves, are they cool, are they hot?
I find my daughter's fascination with all things Tolkien, both books and movies, entirely admirable. Still, I had to wonder when I noticed her going to a site called hot-elf.com!
(It's actually a very nice site, if you are a Legolas Greenleaf fan. It even has recipes for Lembas.)
January 9, 2004
I've tended to assume that "on-line dating services" were somehow flaky and peripheral. But Dean Esmay, who met his wife Rosemary that way, has written a very interesting post on the subject....
....People joke about online dating, but you know what? It's a fabulous way to meet people, as long as you have the right attitude: you will meet people you don't click with at all, and you might wind up with a few funny stories about weird dates and weird people. But you also just might meet the person you've always been looking for. It's very hard in this modern world to meet people, especially if you don't date people you work with, and this sort of thing is a perfectly sensible solution. It's not "desperate," it's sensible as hell. My brother met his wife that way. My brother-in-law met his wife that way, and they just had their first baby. Another buddy of mine recently proposed to a woman he met through eHarmony. Not a single one of these people is or was stupid, desperate, or psychotic.(And this is typical of Esmay�not only does he find himself a gal, he's helping other people. Apparently the FAQ he's written has been posted by the some of the services because of its usefulness..)
Online dating has one wonderful feature that normal dating doesn't usually have, by the way: you both know, up front, what you're looking for. You bypass that entire embarassing and uncomfortable dance: "Are you marriage-minded, do you want kids, are you just looking for a good time, are you just looking for a friend, will I look desperate if I reveal my true desires?"....
January 4, 2004
Andrea Harris, restless creature that she is, has moved, and is blogging Here now. Mus' be the gypsy in her soul.
(The obscure link she left on the last blog didn't work for me at first, and I thought maybe she'd really decamped or even died�gone, as the Dean put it, where savage indignation can no longer ruffle her feathers...)
December 26, 2003
Boxing Day surprise...
I was scrolling down-down-down at Boing Boing and was astonished to discover an old friend of ours�Allie Barden, (who used to babysit for our kids, and remains a special friend.) She was reporting from McMurdo, in Antartica, where she is working in a mess hall.
We knew she was there, but didn't know about her web-site, a sort of blog with penguins...
....we were going on a us air force plane c141 which is a big, massive, loud piece of metal that travels through stupid conditions at amazing speeds. it was the auschwitz train of moving bodies to the ice. earplugs are mandatory (if anyone wants to purchase my used ones, they can do a search on ebay.) but you can't really hold conversations on the craft anyway since its as loud as a train engine compartment inside the plane. there were 137 people on my flight, of them, 32 were female. we were gender segregated on the flight, our seats, basically cargo netting with seat belts and oxy masks...
there were 2 long paralell rows that ran down the center of the plane. your knees met the knees of the person across from you, your back against the back of the person behind you, your shoulders against the shoulders of the person next to you. moving is not really an option with huge boots and 20 pounds of cold wether gear. my knees hurt so much. if you could maneuver it, you could stand on your seat, but something on your lap ended up falling on the lap of the person next to you. comfortable, it was not. exciting ..... i enjoyed every minute of that flight. except the part when it felt like my eardums were bein sucked out of my head. i didn't like that feeling. there were no windows on the craft except one porthole in the middle which i was lucky enough to be in the vicity of, but could not see out of,due to the whole not being able to move thing.
bathroom travel was not prohibited, but the latrine was nasty. howver, when you gotta go..... so i went. and i am so glad. the latrine was next to the flight deck, and the usaf crew wre hanging out by the door. i talked my way into the cockpit an hour before landing. we had just started to fly over the continent and that's where i saw my first glimpse of antarctica. i can't explain it. the trans-antarctic range peaked below us, and i had a driver side view. i sat in the co-pilot's seat, and was like a little girl in a candy store, fogging the window. there were deep cracks in the otherwise flawless ice floes which denotes glacier movement like when you stick a spoon in chowder that has cooled and formed a skin over the top. i saw ranges that rose to 14,000 (our altitude was 35,000) that were all prefect white with hints of blue. they looked like what clouds would look like if they wre sharp and pointy. i saw places completely untouched, where man has never walked. some of it was like the moon, but sanded over smooth like fiberlass and freshly painted....
December 24, 2003
This was my Grandmother's recipe. Julglögg (Christmas Glögg) is a spiced wine to serve at holiday parties...
1 tsp Cardamom
1 tsp Cloves
1 tsp Ginger
3 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1 cup of Vodka
Let these two mixtures stand separately in their own bottles for at least 5 days.
RECIPE: Add 3/4 cup Sugar to 1 1/2 cups of water, and warm to near boiling point. Add a splash of Lemon Juice, a bottle of red wine and a few spoonfuls of Brandy or Vodka. Add 2tsp of the Vanilla Mixture, and 1 TBSP of the Spice Mix.
Serve piping hot in little cups, sprinkled with sliced Blanched Almonds
December 13, 2003
ALIENS LAND IN SAN FRANCISCO
FIRST VISITORS FROM ANOTHER WORLD DEVOURED BY SAVAGE NATIVES
Eight-Legged envoys from Planet Zwarthrob disappear on primitive planet called "Earth;" Galaxy shocked.
The arachnoid Zwarthrobians may have run afoul of a local festival called "Crab Season."
This may be the last picture of the Zwarthrobian Plenipotentiary, believed eaten by Republicans...
Locals expressed no remorse over the crime, and seem to feel that the hapless space travellers have fulfilled a "higher purpose." Their cruel religion enjoins them to seize local spider-like people know as "crab," boil them alive, and eat them drenched in melted-butter. A spokesman emphasized the ritual importance of an accompaniment of dry white wine, and crusty loaves of sourdough bread.
One indigene answered the Galactic criticisms: "Hey, it's not like we're some kinda primitivos in this town. We don't cut their beating hearts out with stone knives, like some real savages I could name."
October 18, 2003
Ubi caritas, et amor. Ubi caritas, deus ibi est
The Weidners all trooped down to Ben Lomand today, to see two notable science fiction writers wed! Our good friends Deborah Ross and Blogger Dave Trowbridge were married at St Andrew's Church. As with all things Dave, it was both delightful and unusual. And since it would be hard to find two people we like more, or two people who fit each other better, it was a rare treat of a day.
After leaving the church they pause again under the Huppah and drink from the Kiddush cup...
Deborah's Jewish and Dave is Episcopalian, so they had two weddings combined. First, outside, under the Redwoods, a Jewish wedding with a Ketubah and a Huppah.. Then into the church (to the Coronation March by Meyerbeer!) for the Christian version. Including, appropriately, what we Episcopalians call the "Star Wars Liturgy," which includes the lines: ...At your command all things came to be: the vast expanse of interstellar space, galaxies, suns, the planets in their courses, and this fragile earth, our island home...We exited to the Liberty Bell March by Sousa...
Afterwards, there was Regency Dancing, where we learned a couple of the dances that were cool around 1800. That was a lot of fun, and far more pleasing to the eye and spirit than anything danced today...
Aside (because I may never have an excuse to mention this again). When Charlene and I were married we did nothing unusual, or even contemporary (sort of like Hobbits). But we did one neat thing that outdid every other wedding I've ever seen. We memorized the marriage vows, and spoke them without the prompts by the minister...
September 13, 2003
A splendid Saturday ...
Another hot day, but pleasingly dry and balmy. Really sweet, a day to remember when it's cold and wet. I did some work on a long-term project (about 2 years now) building a retaining wall and fence. There are few things as satisfying as building things with Redwood. It's soft and easily shaped, yet amazingly durable and resistant to rot. The smell and texture bring back childhood memories, when I would help in our family business. Even the frequent splinters are like old friends. We built our greenhouses and the benches inside them from Redwood. Truckloads of it. And painted them with copper-green wood preservative that came in 55 gal. drums--A smell I love, though you would probably find it obnoxious.
Those roses of Charlene's drew lots of blood The white one you see is
Eglantine Iceberg (these details are important around here.) but there's something very satisfying about being showered with rose petals while you work...
September 12, 2003
The Mozart Requiem
It was exactly the right thing to do on September 11, and Charlene and I feel lucky to have just the right friends to do it with.
August 22, 2003
Rand Simberg and his wife came by for dinner last night. I was a little nervous because I've always considered Rand a major thinker, and a prophet "crying in the wilderness." I was relieved to discover he is not seven feet tall. We had fun talking about slide-rules, space (of course), wineries, (did you know Fess Parker has a winery? Amazin') and some radio guys in LA who call Gray Davis "Gumby." Perfect..
August 16, 2003
Re-posting an old picture
This is a picture I posted a while back, of Dave Trowbridge expanding my son Bill's musical knowledge by teaching him how to make eery sounds on a new instrument. Bill was disappointed because this picture somehow got deleted from my archives...so I'm just putting it up again.
Bill and I went to Community Day (ie. parent's work day) today at the high school he is about to start at. I pooped-out at 1:00, and he stayed 'till 4. Good kid. Deserves to be immortalized by a mention in Random Jottings...
August 15, 2003
In like Flynn ...
One thing I haven't gotten around to blogging is that our oldest son has been accepted into the aviation department at the University of North Dakota at Grand Forks. Sounds like the North Pole, but if you are interested in a career in aviation, UND is the place to go. (imagine a fleet of 80 planes...plus the helicopters. And these are sharp new machines--no old clunkers.)
What's really delicious is that UND allows early applications, and Rob was accepted in July, at the end of his Junior year of high school. So he is looking forward to this coming Senior year because <evil grin> all his classmates will be sweating the college-admissions process, and the SAT test, and college visits...while he will be sitting back and smiling as teachers and counselors lash the sluggards into action. </evil grin>