9/20/2017 Diablo Foothills State Park

Sep. 20th, 2017 03:02 pm
mrkinch: Erik holding fieldglasses in "Russia" (binocs)
[personal profile] mrkinch
Went out with U, DW, and one other for the first time since early July, starting at 8:30 am. It was overcast with no wind so I went out in a t-shirt, a canvas shirt, and my trusty neckwarmer and was fine. No goddamned warblers nor any migrants save a Pacific-slope flycatcher or possibly two, and here it's the goddamned equinox. Very frustrating. A nice list of residents: )

Experiments in carrying bins )

US politics

Sep. 20th, 2017 09:33 am
cesy: "Cesy" - An old-fashioned quill and ink (Default)
[personal profile] cesy
Hope not Hate is coming to the US, to counter the rise of international hate groups. American friends, you can sign up here.
mrkinch: Erik holding fieldglasses in "Russia" (binocs)
[personal profile] mrkinch
The "Wildcat Peak Trail is closed" signs disappeared a while ago so this morning I went up to see if the trail had really been fixed or just bashed down by foot traffic. But first I was surprised on Upper Packrat Trail by a bicycle coming up behind me. The guy claimed to have come from a trail "up there" and to have seen no signs; I know of no trail "up there" and the ranger I reported it to much later didn't seem to believe the claim, either. I wish I could say I made him turn back, but I think he would have pushed me off the trail had I refused to step aside. So that was a nice start.

Wildcat Peak Trail has indeed been fixed, wider and flatter than before. I guess it was done by a couple of guys with shovels as I cannot imagine how to get any other equipment to the site short of a helicopter. Maybe that's what they did. Anyway, once up that far (the slide site is a lot closer to the top than I recalled, but then I was too freaked to remember clearly) I of course did not turn around (my plan were it not sufficiently fixed) and after briefly contemplating going down Conlon I settled for the connector down to Laurel Canyon Trail and out.

There have been first of season reports for a number of winter species, but I neither heard nor saw any. Wildcat Peak Trail has no hard bits but it's boring and today was no exception. Just the usuals: )

So not an exciting morning, and it produced some un-encouraging empirical data. Stupid back. )

I forgot to say that the weather was perfect, clearing quickly but cool. I went out in two t-shirts and a light flannel, with my neckwarmer to start, and was quite comfortable.
mrkinch: Erik holding fieldglasses in "Russia" (binocs)
[personal profile] mrkinch
I got out about sunrise, went to three places, and was home about 11:30, so have three short lists. Point Emery: )

I didn't stay long before heading up the frontage road to what used to be called Berkeley Meadow. I walked east up the Virginia street extension, through the park, out the west gate, and along the fence back to the car. McLaughlin Eastshore State Park: )

There were great reports from Richmond Shoreline yesterday monrning but today it was the least productive. Meeker Slough: )

A day of mysteries.

My timing was terrible in that I was at Richmond Shoreline right around high tide and didn't want to hang around for an hour or more while the tide receded. There was also intense clean-up activity, which is wonderful if only briefly noticeable, given the unimaginable amount of crap that washes continually onto those shores and marshes, so too many people, however good their reason for being there.
mrkinch: Erik holding fieldglasses in "Russia" (binocs)
[personal profile] mrkinch
I drove up through the fog to higher overcast, but the weather rose as well. It looked like this )

There were breaks in the clouds over Contra Costa and thunder to the SSE while I was in the parking lot, but it got worse as I headed north: not much rain but wind so strong I turned back at the first gap in the ridge lest I be blown over. Twenty minutes later I was able to continue and despite not much energy I walked out to 2 mile and back. Lack of birds doesn't help, but it was all made worthwhile just north of the first cattle gate. I was looking for a thrasher calling in a little hollow to the west; I never found it but I did find a wonderful mixed flock: bushtits, several blue-gray gnatcatchers, a Hutton's vireo, two orange-crowned warblers, and a chickadee. This is what we're always hoping for. I wasn't going to bother with a list til that happened: )

Some colorful and varied vegetation at about one and a half mile. )

It was 11 am and I didn't want to go home yet so I spent an hour at the EBRP Botanic Garden. It was still overcast but not cold, or even windy down in the gorge, and I had quite a few birds not encountered up on the ridge. Best was sitting on a bench and listening to purple finches singing and calling just over my head: Another short list: )

My view from the aforesaid bench )

Other taxa: From the Botanic Garden's primary bridge over Wildcat Creek I watched an enormous crayfish slowly but steadily working its way upstream. I've never noticed one there before and saw no other in other parts of the stream. I know they're in Jewel so presumably they're in Anza, but that's still quite a ways downstream. Impressive.

Not-exactly-fmk: Gor and Yuletide

Sep. 12th, 2017 07:05 pm
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
[personal profile] melannen
So in FMK reading adventures, I finally finished the first Gor book, that was voted K early on but I decided I wanted to read before dumping just so I could say I had.

I should have trusted y'all: it was mostly just incredibly pointlessly bland, occasionally rising to actively annoying. It wasn't even really bad enough to be interestingly bad. There was a lot more flying around on giant soulbonded warbirds than I expected, tbh (somehow I had though that Tarnsman meant "man of the mountain lake country" but I think that was giving him too much credit for having a vocabulary,) but the warbirds are so badly wordbuilt and lacking in individual personality and the flying scenes so lacking in joy that the only time I actually cared about them was when the abused half-starved ones were about to eat the MC and I roused enough to cheer them on. The plot is built on bad characterization and improbable coincidences; the language aspires to basic competence; you can very easy disassemble it into its component stereotypes; and all sense-of-wonder or hints that the MC is not a sociopath are missing. Also amused that the author refuses to comment on whether it's John Carter of Mars fanfic (it's really badly done John Carter of Mars fanfic, omg.) I understand the series gets far more batshit later, but I don't think I need to read far enough to find out.

Also, thank you all for your help with picking a yuletide nomination! I shall be ignoring the clear preference of the poll, and nominating Mr. Trash Wheel RPF. He didn't win, but he did win the vote of everybody I know who has taken a selfie with him, and their votes count 10x, sorry.

(this is Mr. Trash Wheel: )

I will also be nominating Professor Trash Wheel and a five foot long West African Ball Python as characters, of course. I am stuck on who should be my fourth nom, though. A modular robotic eel that hunts for water pollution? Lynyrd Skymmer? Some other celebrity of the waters that I don't yet know about?


Clearly there's a market for Always Coming Home, though. Someone else should nominate it. (If I requested it, it'd just be as "tell me a story of the Valley", so I don't care about characters.)


Meanwhile, I re-read The Girl With The Silver Eyes to prepare to nominate. That one does hold up very well! Things I had forgotten about this book: the muumuu wearing old fat lady who lives alone with her cats and her books and gives no fucks and is #rolemodel. The fact that Katie can TALK TO CATS. The constant references to other YA fantasy/sf novels by the same imprint that she is reading. How much this book distrusts all adult men. How much this book also distrusts all non-readers. How yes they have psi powers and are super-smart, but they're also explicitly non-neurotypical in a way that read a lot more Autism Spectrum than any of the books about supposedly autistic kids that I was reading at the time, and that's more of an issue for them than the psi powers.

The book really needs an active fandom if only so we can have epic fanwars about whether they spoilers )

Anyway I am stuck for character noms there too, because I want all the kid characters but I also want Mr. C, Mrs. M, Miss K and Jackson Jones.

FMK #23: Long Book Is Long

Sep. 12th, 2017 01:51 pm
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
[personal profile] melannen
Last week's F winner, after a very close race, was a tie between Beguilement and Daughter of Witches! I picked Beguilement because I know I'm keeping the rest of Lyra regardless, so Beguilement is more likely to lead to me dumping several books at once. K winner was The Death of Sleep, so goodbye Lunzie!

The comics bonus round winner was Asterix le Galois. Of course the bonus round I threw in because "comics are fast and easy!" gets won by one where I'm going to have to review a whole other language first... There was no K majority for the comics round, although I'm curious about the fact that Maison Ikkoku nearly got it, because I had not idea there was active dislike for Maison Ikkoku out there.

I am going to spend two days of next week trapped in a car with a couple of cats and almost no luggage space, so it's time to finally roll out the LONG BOOKS ARE LONG poll. That way I can only pack one and be reading it all week. :P

I don't know if I'll have internet next Tuesday but likely not (we are helping sister move) so there may be another break in fmk next week.

How FMK works, short version: I am trying to clear out my unreads. So there is a poll, in which you get to pick F, M, or K. F means I should spend a night of wild passion with the book ASAP, and then decide whether to keep it or not. M means I should continue to commit to a long-term relationship of sharing my bedroom with it. K means it should go away immediately. Anyone can vote, you don't have to actually know anything about the books.

I pick a winner on Friday night (although won't actually close the poll, people can still vote,) and report results/ post the new poll on the following Tuesday, and write a response to the F winner sometime in the next week.

Link to long version of explanation (on first poll)

Poll: Adams, Asaro, Clarke, Coville, Delany, Hobb, Hunt, Jemisin, Lynch, Melville, Michalson, Pynchon, Stephenson, Williams, Williamson )

GIVEAWAY!

Sep. 11th, 2017 03:38 pm
mrkinch: albatross soaring (Default)
[personal profile] mrkinch
So I wore the flanged ear plugs on the way to work once and discovered they are useless to me. Returning them is too much trouble (I've given up amazon AGAIN so returning stuff is a pain) and will ship them at once to anyone who wants to try them. Comment and then we can take it to email or whatever for the details. Please take them off my hands!

9/10/2017 Inspiration Trail

Sep. 10th, 2017 09:44 am
mrkinch: Erik holding fieldglasses in "Russia" (binocs)
[personal profile] mrkinch
Took what is becoming my usual Sunday morning walk down Inspiration Trail, this time almost to the not-a-junction with Nimitz Way (blocked by cows). I was only out two hours because by 9 am it was quite warm. Surprise of the day was hearing both acorn woodpecker and white-breasted nuthatch up on the ridge. Not much migration so far: )

On the way out there was a coyote that kept peeking back around the corner at me to see if I was still coming, which I was, though very slowly. I glimpsed it on the way back, too.

yuletide etc.

Sep. 9th, 2017 01:48 pm
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
[personal profile] melannen
So, Yuletide noms are open!

I am definitely nominating:

The Saga of Burnt Njal (with characters from Njal's generation - all the existing fics are post-canon about Kari)
The Girl With The Silver Eyes by Willo Davis Roberts (because we all had a discussion on one of [personal profile] rachelmanija's FMK posts about how we all wanted MORE after we read that.)

I can't decide on number three, and I'm pretty sure the other stuff I definitely want to request will have other noms. So:

Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 22


My third yuletide nomination should be:

View Answers

Always Coming Home by Ursula K. Le Guin
15 (68.2%)

The Hidden Almanac (the podcast)
6 (27.3%)

King's Blood (Steve Jackson games)
1 (4.5%)

Mr. Trash Wheel RPF
4 (18.2%)




I am also trying to at least finish the first chapter of the Discworld Sedoretu fic before I let myself read any of the fics that are now revealed in the fest, but I have not yet. :/

Instead, have some reviews of the CDs I bought for $.10 each this morning:

Delmarva Groove Kings
Genre: Is "Groove" a genre?
Local kitsch factor: Well, "Delmarva" is in the title, but they appear to actually be from Clinton, which isn't really Delmarva? Also we're pretty sure the bridge on the cover is the Golden Gate, not the Chesapeake. 2/5
Cover art: Oil painting of a viking ship sailing past a decaying suspension bridge against a red sky. -1 point for not being the right bridge and for not having any cover credits so I can't track down the original. 4/5
Song titles: Titles include "Northeast Corridor Blues", "Evil", and "Dueling Hillbillies on the Mother Ship". 4/5
Music: Ehh? Some of the songs appear to be just screaming over boring electric guitar chords, but some of the more bluesy ones are pretty okay. 3/5
Comment: This was originally a benefit to pay for someone's cancer treatment. Why do I still live in a county where people think it's ok that you have to sell benefit CDs to pay for someone's cancer treatment.

Celtic Fury - O'Malley's March
Genre: Basic American Celtic
Local Kitsch Factor: Yep, it's O'Malley as in Governor Martin O'Malley! This was his band's first CD, that they put out while he was still just on the city council. 5/5
Cover Art: Black-and-white photo of the band. TERRIFYINgLY BAD PHOTOS. Two of them look like they are planning to lure you into a white van, one of them looks like he is wearing a human mask and hasn't quite learned how to make it smile yet, and one of them looks like they stuck a dead person's head on a mannequin. O'Malley hardly looks sinister at all in comparison, which may be a first. 1/5
Song Titles: Mostly your basic sort of Celtic standards, but there is one called "Mickey Chewing Gum" and one called "Streets of Baltimore". 3/5
Music: Would hire them to play on one of the outdoor stages at a street fair. Competent. The lead singer sounds weirdly insincere about everything he sings, but maybe that's just because I know it's O'Malley. 3/5
Comment: It's autographed by the whole band! I wonder if I could sell the Governor's autograph for more than I paid for the CD. ...Actually I probably know some people who would pay me at least twice that just to burn it while cackling.
mrkinch: Erik holding fieldglasses in "Russia" (binocs)
[personal profile] mrkinch
U and I left the East Bay at 7 am for Fort Mason via the San Rafael and GG bridges, which was not nearly as painful as I feared. We spent time in the community garden, walked around the General's mansion, and sat on a bench overlooking the batteries before moving on to The Presidio and El Polin Springs. The birding was much less interesting both places than on previous visits. A few yellow warblers at Fort Mason and that was it for warblers. One just never knows. Surprise of the day was a single call of a blue-gray gnatcatcher near the General's residence at Fort Mason. We looked at each other in shock; there was no question what we'd heard, but we could not find it. U has become a trained watcher with the Hawk Hill crew and said they had a flock of sixty gnatcatchers come through recently. Without that information I might have thought we were both delusional. Fort Mason: )

We shared El Polin Springs with several classes of small children at various decibel levels and three twenty-something white guys who were obviously tripping. Took me a while to twig, but no one giggles that much without chemical aid. We went up the stairs because I thought I heard a tanager, but nothing so interesting appeared. Best bird there was the selasphorous sp we saw at the north edge of the tiny parking lot, exactly where others had been in May 2014, though not in September 2015. Birds, man, I dunno. El Polin Springs: )

It's always good to get out, but these are not the lists we were hoping for.
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