Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Picture of the Day - Earthquake Potato Chips

While shopping in the Atascadero Food 4 Less earlier this evening I picked up some canned goods for my "earthquake" shelf both to replace cans from that supply cache I had recently used as well as to enlarge that supply cache. Upon accomplishing that task on the canned food aisle I proceeded down that aisle and as I was about to make a turn off that aisle I spotted a promotional display featuring amongst other things, California Chips brand Earthquake Chips flavor. The odd coincidence of this sequence was not lost on me.

Photo by Kim Patrick Noyes (all rights reserved)

Shit Wine Tasters Say

A good friend of mine co-created this and I am sharing it here with the intent of scoring a job in the wine business. Ha-Ha!

NOTE:I have done much wine tasting over the course of the past couple of years and have NEVER uttered a single one of these refrains... just sayin'.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Of Stalactites & Phalluses

Last year I posted a column here entitled A Vagina Stone Monologue about chalcedony conchas which distinctly resemble vaginas. In the spirit of gender equality I feel compelled to give the men some equal representation here. Of course, because I have included five images of phallic-looking quartz stalactites from India I am now thus compelled in that very same spirit of gender equality to at some point post four more images of Vagina Stones to even the accounting. All of you may look forward to that coming soon to this space.

All photos by Kim Patrick Noyes (all rights reserved)

Cuesta College Cloud Structure Study

This evening at sunset the incoming storm front manifested itself rather dramatically over the Cuesta College North County Campus in Paso Robles, CA, as these images clearly show:

All photos by Kim Patrick Noyes (all rights reserved)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

My First San Rafael Gem Faire

The past few days I had the privilege of helping my friend Dave in his Rocks & Relics booth as he returned to the San Rafael Gem Faire for the first time in several years. The show was a hoot to do as well as quite fruitful. We also broke in a new helper for Dave's business. Our friend Desiree did a wonderful job in her first show with us adding feminine energy to the booth chemistry which enhanced the effectiveness of the sales team and expedited the breakdown of the booth at the end of the show.

For me personally this was my first time working and staying in inland Marin County. Previously I had devoted my time to the coast when visiting Marin County or simply was passing through on US 101. I found I enjoyed it much more than I had anticipated in light of the political culture of the area. Indeed, I am now quite smitten with the area from San Rafael down to Sausalito and hope to return often in the future.

Note: we had a cool visitor to our booth this weekend which I discuss HERE
The booth under construction.
Marin Center
The booth upon opening for business Friday morning around 10 AM.
Front-end view of the booth.
Druzy quartz stalactite from India.

Druzy quartz stalactite

Monster lingum stone from India.
Druzy quartz stalactite cluster formed in a geode-like structure.
Oreodont skull from Wyoming.
Back-end view of the booth.
Marin Center
Carved rock crystal quartz "flame" from Madagascar.
Indian druzy quartz stalactite cluster with Uruguayan amethyst vug behind it.
Druzy quartz stalactite from India.
Druzy quartz stalactite from India
Camera flash gave this Indian druzy quartz stalactite a bluish tinge.
Booth "eye candy" including Ice Age Cave Bear skeletal pawys and Brazilian smokey quartz point.
Green River Formation fossil fish from Wyoming.
Native copper from Michigan with mounted slab of a large Arkansas quartz crystal.
Arkansas quartz crystal at left with Brazilian smokey quartz point at right.
Quartz stalactite and points from India, Brazil, and Madagascar.
Beads of various colors of Beryls.
Fossil turtle.
Large quartz crystal point from Coleman Mine in Arkansas.
Opposite side view of same extinct oreodont skull as earlier image.
Another view of previously identified specimens.
Introducing our newest addition, Desiree, a self-described....
...."Texting Whore", getting caught in the act... OMG... LOL!

Scripture of the Day - Jesus Christ (Matt 24:6-8)

"And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows."
~ Matthew 24:6-8

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Quote of the Day - St. Francis of Assisi

"Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words." ~ Saint Francis of Assisi

*Note: this is often attributed to St. Francis but that is unverifiable. I believe he probably said this or otherwise something similar unto it and this being merely a paraphrasing. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

White & Nerdy vs. Ridin' Dirty

I have long adored Weird Al Yankovic since I was a kid growing up in the 1980's. I thoroughly enjoyed his parodies of Madonna and Michael Jackson in particular. As time has progressed since then Weird Al has remained culturally relevant producing ever more clever material over the course of the 1990's and 2000's. In the mid-2000's he achieved arguably his greatest artistic and critical coup with a brilliant parody of "Ridin'" (Dirty) by Chamillionaire featuring Krayzie Bone. Yankovic's parody is entitled "White & Nerdy". The song went platinum and deservedly so. For purposes of comparison I have placed both videos below for your edification and enjoyment. Please do compare and contrast them. Do note the superior wordsmithy demonstrated by Yankovic not to mention the superior quality of its accompanying music video in contrast to that for the other song. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Quote of the Day - "Jerry"

"You are alone... within yourself... you are alone. That is why you humans have separated your sexes into two separate halves with the joy of that brief union." - Jerry the Drac (played by Louis Gossett, Jr.) in the movie "Enemy Mine"

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Alan Simmons Fire Videos Are The Bomb

In the mid-1990's I became aware of Alan Simmons Fire Videos through the Firefighters Bookstore (in Huntington Beach, CA) catalog during a time I contemplated getting into firefighting. It was love at first sight with the first one of his videos I watched. At the time I was already a connoisseur of storm chase videos such as those by legends like Tim Marshall, Bill Reid, and Dean Cosgrove. I was even a connoisseur of disaster-related documentaries which included a good many NOVA videos as well as Weather Channel videos. A bit later on I acquired nearly entire television series like Wrath of God on the History Channel as well as U.S. Forest Service stock footage videos.

I also would tape live coverage of disasters on television when they happened as I did with the Northridge Quake and the 1993 and 1996 October Southern California firestorms. Of course, back in those days it was all VHS cassette for both what I purchased as well as the format in which I recorded. Later on by the late 1990's I began taping my own storm and fire videos in Hi-8MM format but never liked my own work nearly as much as that of others and elected to leave that to the professionals and instead stick to my strong suite: still photography.

Over the course of the 1990's into the first half of the 2000's I accumulated the following Alan Simmons fire videos on VHS: 1990 Universal Studios Fire, 1992 Los Angeles Burning: Fires of the 1992 Riot, Los Angeles Area Multiple Alarm Fires Volumes 1-6 including Volume 3 which features 1994's Northridge Earthquake (much footage in this was featured as stock footage in scores of documentaries ever since). I also acquired the first six volumes of his East Meets West series. Best of all, I added all three of his California Firestorm volumes '93, '96, and '99. Add to that his Hot Shots video and I owned (and still own) copies of 18 of his videos in VHS format.

As I am now finally and reluctantly fully transitioning to only DVD format in my video library I am about to get rid of all my VHS cassettes (fire videos and otherwise) and give them all to my mother. I am now left with only Alan Simmons' more recent fire videos on DVD that I have accumulated over the past decade which are as follows: West Coast Fires Volume 1, Firestorm 2003 Volumes 1-3, Firestorm 2005, Firestorm 2006 Volumes 1-2, and Firestorm 2007 Volumes 1-3.

On my agenda is to at some point acquire the following Alan Simmons fire videos on DVD: Wildland Fire 2008, October Firestorm 2008, November Firestorm 2008, Firestorm 2009 Volumes 1-2, Station Fire: August 2009 Volumes 1-2, Southern California Fires 2010, and finally, the digitally remastered 1992 Los Angeles Burning on DVD.

Although I do not intend to purchase this video I did notice that Simmons is already offering Hollywood Arson Fires: 2011 New Years Eve Weekend. As you can see he is on top of things and continues to produce timely and relevant offerings.

Something else you have probably noticed by now is how many more firestorm videos he has produced in the past decade than in the decade previous. The times they are a changin'... as is the nature of fire in California. If you are a fire buff or disaster buff or California history buff or all of those things as I am you cannot claim to have a decent video library without having at least one Alan Simmons fire video. I cannot overstate how highly I recommend Alan Simmons fire videos. Not only are they great for your own video library but they make a wonderful gift to others as well.

For the record I have no financial connection to Alan Simmons and have never met him or contacted him other than to order a video by phone and that was long ago. Given this fact and the fact that I have acquired and seen many other fire videos from other sources over the years to which I can compare this I am able to impartially and accurately judge this product.

Below are two wonderful samples of Alan Simmons' work.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Picture of the Day - Tornado Alley-Looking Sky

A cloud formation that resembled a wall cloud with suspicious-looking cloud filaments dangling below it passed just north of the Cuesta College North County Campus this afternoon. Photo by Kim Patrick Noyes (all rights reserved)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Scripture of the Day - Solomon

"Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil." ~ Ecclesiates 12:13-14

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Real Deal On 'The 99%'

There has been a lot of talk over the course of the past year regarding the "1%" versus the "99%" as embodied in the "We Are The 99%" slogan of the Occupy Wall Street crowd. Those persons whom talk in those terms actually make up less than 1% of that "99%". Most of the "99%" don't wish to be grouped with that "1%" and many in the "1%" started out in the "99%". That tiny segment of Left-wing shit-stirrers be they community organizers or union apparatchiks or easily-manipulated college students or fellow traveler artist types or professional anarchists, et al, DO NOT speak for most Americans and DO NOT speak to most Americans. They tend to speak only into the echo chamber of their own narrow little 1% of the "99%".

In reality, our nation is divided in a much more complex fashion than the simplistic and now hackneyed "1% versus 99%" paradigm promulgated by Occupy Wall Street. The "1%" is divided into various shades of Liberal (limousine liberal) and Conservative (country club Republican). Some are dick-heads and some are very cool people who do a lot of good with their money, more good per percentage of their wealth than most other Americans. Many/most elites are somewhere in between those two types of elites.

The Middle Class in which I used to inhabit is likewise rifted with various shades of Liberal and Conservative but more and more they are self-identifying as being in the Middle not just socio-economically but politically as well. Increasingly they espouse neither the Democratic nor Republican Parties in a phenomenon known to political scientists as dealignment. Nor do they much cotton to the increasing militancy of Neo-Conservatism and Neo-Liberalism that dominates the political party duopoly that dominates our political landscape. The Middle Class is the hardest working and most productive class. However, they find their wealth leaving their level and traveling both up and down the socio-economic pyramid as their productivity supports both the Elites and the Poor both of whom do not pay taxes at the rate the Middle Class does.

I am currently living below the poverty line and have been thus over the course of the past few years of the ongoing economic malaise known as the Great Recession. Consequently, I have acquired a life-altering education into how it is to be poor in America. It has been one of the best experiences of my life and my only regret is that it did not come sooner. During this time I have had the opportunity to observe the American poor and how they live and act given that I have been one of them living amongst them.
Strangely enough, in the context of my ongoing poverty I feel more like a gonzo journalist/tourist visiting a strange country from which I intend to one day leave and return home to the middle class.

Following years of careful observation I note there are basically two types of poor people in America. There are the temporarily poor who have experienced one or more shocks in their lives in a relatively short period of time that have knocked the pins out from under them or are new immigrants but whom in any case through hard work and pluck will lift themselves up out of their current condition. Then there are the chronically poor be they native born or new immigrants for whom poverty is essentially a choice given their persistent self-limiting behavior patterns that make it an inevitability they will remain poor their entire lives as they milk the welfare system at each level of government. The former are victims of Fate or perhaps even their own mistakes from which they will learn and move onwards and upwards. The latter are their own worst enemies as well as enemies of those who are productive and are supporting them through their own labors. The chronically poor possess agency in their affairs and deliberately choose to never adapt and learn and improve their station in life but instead elect to freeload while wallowing in a degraded and abased existence.

I self-identify as being in the former category and have great respect for my fellow men and women in this honorable fraternity (I use that last word in the neuter, of course). For whatever reason(s) we find ourselves in a tight spot but we are self-starters and ambitious and entrepreneurial and will fully exploit what opportunities Providence will place before us as inevitably happens to everybody, including the chronic poor who either fail to recognize Providence tapping on their shoulder or deliberately elect to thrust away the hand of Providence.

I met a married couple through a mutual friend a couple of years ago. They lived in Paso Robles in public housing (or publicly-assisted housing) in an apartment complex. Both were morbidly obese because they didn't take care of themselves and both were diabetic. They used their food stamps and other welfare monies to acquire food that was excessively fattening and they shoveled it into their mouths. They cached non-diet sodas all over the kitchen counters by the bottle-full. They used their welfare money to purchase a Wii gaming system with all the fixings and played it all the time, including most of the time I was visiting with my friend. The man of the house at the time I met him had just undergone surgery for testicular cancer (paid for by the public treasury, of course). Quite recently his staples had come out so he had just come back from the hospital. He complained that while he was in there the staff did not wish to take the time to check his blood sugar as he had requested. He had the temerity to wonder why the obvious and complain. Since he didn't care about his blood sugar enough to eat and drink right and was a recurring nuisance visitor to the hospital why should they care any more than he did? In a broader context why should the public treasury be funding this sort of cluster fuck of a wretched publicly-subsidized and non-productive existence? By what factor can this couple's case be multiplied to represent a true picture of the American landscape at the bottom of the socio-economic pile?

I used to spend a lot of time up in the Willits, CA, area both before I had a girlfriend there and then while I was with her. This gave me a lot of exposure to how the White Underclass lives. The picture I observed was dismal and dismaying to say the least. The entire town is covered with some sort of dark cloud of bad karma and in the town are a lot of bad actors to use a counter-terrorism term. Dependency upon public subsidy is rampant in the Little Lake Valley in which Willits resides as well as in the surrounding forested mountains inhabited by folks who could easily be cast as extras in any remake of the movie "Deliverance".
Having traipsed all over Northern California for much of my life I can say that while Willits is a bit of an extreme example there are plenty of places like it spread over the state. Add to that all the poor urban black areas as well as poor urban and rural brown areas across California and indeed across all of America of all ethnic extractions and you get a clearer picture of how big a problem this sort of deliberate impoverishment is and how expensive it is to society as supported disproportionately by the Middle Class.

The chronically poor of their own agency and volition choose to live lives that are frequently degrading and uninspiring. So many poor folks I have met could immediately be in a better station in life if they consistently made better decisions and lived more enlightened and elevated existences. The following is my short list of common bad habits or catastrophic setbacks of the chronically poor.
  • Getting pregnant (or getting someone pregnant) early in life - limits options and costs a lot of money.
  • Having too many kids - for chrissakes replicate within your means - failure to heed this is expensive.
  • Getting a criminal record - limits options throughout life.
  • Drug use - undermines productivity, limits options and costs a lot of money
  • Smoking - dirty and unhealthy habit that costs a lot of money.
  • Regularly heavy alcohol consumption - undermines productivity and costs a lot of money.
  • Tattoo collecting - limits some employment options and costs a lot of money
  • Pimp rides - spending all that money on something as utilitarian as your transportation is dumb.
  • Electronic gaming - in excess it limits productivity and costs a lot of money - get off your lazy ass!
  • Processed food consumption - it costs more than preparing your own food and is less healthy. 
  • Associating with rabble - in any human grouping, everybody goes to the lowest common denominator
  • Failure to network - build a network of helpful associations and fully exploit that network.
  • Lack of personal initiative/entrepreneurial pluck - get off your ass, use your head and get after it.
One disclosure I must make is that am receiving both federal Pell Grant money to help me go back to school as well as California's Board of Governors is fully paying my tuition. Essentially my society is investing in me and betting that by helping me out right now I will later on be productive and paying taxes into the treasury that far exceed the sum of money invested in me by my society at present. I have accepted that challenge and intend to prove society right. I work hard and do my best and get good grades. I am achieving. I am productive. I will eventually pay back what was given me and not only to the public treasury but the aforementioned now-ex-girlfriend invested in me, too. I will prove her right in her investment as well. I say all this to clearly define and differentiate between my smart-bet subsidy and the sort of dead-end subsidization of the chronic poor that is the epitome of throwing good money after bad as perpetrated by the U.S. Federal government as well as state and local governments across the land.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Caliente Ridge Rockhounding Recon

This morning I drove out to the Carrizo Plain with my friend and hiking buddy Mike. En route there I noted more traffic than usual on Highway 58 and once the highway burst out onto  the plain I saw all the construction activity relating to the new and controversial Carrizo Energy Solar Farm being constructed there on private land. The location of this facility is actually at the northwest end of the plain in the most populated and man-altered sector of the plain and not near the Carrizo Plain National Monument.

It felt weird seeing all the activity after spending so much quiet time there in the 1990's and 2000's healing my soul and my mind. That period of my life was followed more recently by then not visiting the area hardly at all the past few to several years due to profound changes (albeit mostly positive) in my life. I hope the new activity out there does not spoil the spirit of the place. It certainly was pleasant renewing my acquaintance with my old friend the San Andreas Fault which certainly won't be in any way changed by anything Mankind does out there.

We turned off Highway 58 at Soda Lake Road and passing through California Valley (originally Simmler) and CalFire Station 42 located there we headed into the national monument. We drove up onto Caliente Ridge and parked at the trailhead and then proceeded to head east and up the ridgeline toward Caliente Peak which is actually relatively high for the area at over 5,100 feet in elevation. However, the threat of impending rain turning the road into a quagmire forced us to turn around before reaching the summit and head back and down off the mountain. Along the way I did my usual rockhounding and photography bit and found the following images... and rocks. 
Caliente Ridge Road with Soda Lake in the Carrizo Plain in background.
Soda Lake with approaching Winter storm.
Eastern Soda Lake with dirt road to Selby Campground and Caliente Ridge Road leading up the mountain from the paved Soda Lake Road.
Soda Lake in middle background with Caliente Ridge Road visible on spur ridge in middle foreground.
Selby Campground as viewed from atop Caliente Ridge. Note the linear rock formations.
Soda Lake in the Carrizo Plain and the Temblor Range in the background.
View looking west and downhill along Caliente Ridge Trail. Note: no vehicle traffic allowed on this segment.
Carrizo Plain in middle foreground with Temblor Range in background. San Andreas Fault surface trace visible at far edge of valley at base of the hills appearing as long, low scarp parallel to the hills running left to right.
Southern Sierra Nevada, Tehachapi Mountains, and San Emigdio Mountains in order left to right in background with Temblor Range and Carrizo Plain in middle foreground and Caliente Ridge in near foreground.
San Andreas Fault trace runs along the linear low hillock in middle foreground running up the Carrizo Plain.
View looking east and uphill along Caliente Ridge Trail.
Detail of cluster of interesting rocks exposed by blade of heavy equipment that graded this fire road.
More interesting rocks were found in this other cluster of exposed material in the near foreground.
View of the Cuyama Valley from Caliente Ridge.
Although relatively high up above the surrounding terrain Caliente Ridge is by no means steeps with a few exceptions.
My biggest discovery of the day: a platy nodule of quartz and calcite.
Detail of my quartz-calcite platy nodule showing quartz at left with calcite at right.
Slickenslided sandstone material
All photos by Kim Patrick Noyes (all rights reserved)