Friday, June 29, 2012

A Bad 3 Days For SoCal

Historically-speaking the past few days have been rather rough for Southern California when it comes to natural disasters with Santa Barbara seeming to get the worst of it both earthquake-wise and wildfire-wise.

Eighty-seven years ago this morning a rather powerful earthquake (about M6.8) rocked the Santa Barbara area killing 13 people and effectively demolishing the downtown area which was subsequently rebuilt in an architecturally-cohesive, consistent and coordinated manner (Spanish Colonial Revival) giving Santa Barbara its wonderfully distinctive downtown.

Twenty-one years ago yesterday the San Gabriel Valley was rocked by the strong M5.8 Sierra Madre Earthquake which killed two people and injured 100 people and caused widespread scattered damage. A year later (or twenty years ago yesterday) Southern California was rocked by two powerful earthquakes, the M7.3 Landers Earthquake and three hours later the M6.5 Big Bear Earthquake. The former quake killed three people and injured 400 people but most of its damage was focused in the lightly-populated high desert of SoCal. The latter event killed nobody, injured few and caused surprisingly light damage given its size and location.

Twenty-two years ago day-before-yesterday the arson-caused Painted Cave Fire ravaged Santa Barbara killing one person, burning 640 homes, and charring 4,900 acres of prime real estate and thick chaparral.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My Promethean Review

As of last night I have now twice viewed (in 2D) the new Alien movie franchise quasi-prequel Prometheus. After having taken a nearly two decade break from watching movies in theaters this is only my second movie watched in a theater in the past 22 years (the other being Borat - don't ask!). Anywho, I am quite used to sequels and prequels sucking as well as heavily-promoted movies falling well short of expecations (I have been watching movies on DVD and VHS for the better part of the past decade since rejoining the human race). I have also always loved the Alien movie franchise including the oft-maligned third installment in the series (which didn't and continues to not be fairly appreciated for the classic and gem that it is). The fourth movie in the franchise was not nearly as good as the first three (which were off-the-charts great) but was still a good movie nonetheless.

I began hearing murmurs of something prequel-ish being possibly in the works in the then-not-too-distant future during the second half of the 2000's and allowed myself to get my curiosity piqued but refused to get too excited given the rumor mill-ish nature of what I was reading and hearing. Next, I began reading and hearing that this project started out as a prequel and in the process of writing it Ridley Scott (director of the original Alien movie) went on a bit of a bird walk and the movie ended up more along the lines of setting the universe for the Alien movie franchise but not specifically addressing the Space Jockey and his ship seen in the first Alien movie which element has always begged a prequel. This news disappointed me and did turn out to be utterly true. However, I needn't have worried as I have ecstatically discovered over the course of two viewings in two weeks. I dogmatically state here and now without reservation or any fear of being guilty of hyperbole that Prometheus is a great movie in its own right (regardless of genre) and one of the great science fiction movies of all time. Furthermore, I will add to that the view that this movie does justice to and is on an equal par with the Alien movie franchise.

Prometheus is great on many levels and for many reasons. Prometheus is a very well-written story. It touches on a variety of themes most prominent of those being what is the origin of humanity and what is it to be human? Prometheus is well-directed as Ridley Scott created a gem here with not only his writing but also how he got the most out of this great cast whom performed consistently well throughout. Prometheus is well-cast. I cannot think of anybody miscast in that movie. The choice of Michael Fassbender to play the ship-board android "David" was a stroke of brilliance and brilliant was Fassbender's performance in this film. I am utterly in love with this character and hope to see him again in an Alien movie franchise prequel sequel which seems inevitable given how this movie ends. Also deserving particular praise is Noomi Rapace as Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (a new actress to me but I love her in this film) who creates a new heroine of note in this movie franchise all the while not threatening Sigourney Weaver's Ellen Ripley as the all-time queen of sci-fi heroines. Prometheus has great special effects which help suspend disbelief while not transgressing in the usual fashion in movies nowadays by getting carried away with what special effects are possible and allowing the special effects to drive the plot and attempt to carry the movie and usually to an unsatisfying effect. Indeed, computer generated images (CGI) is used now almost exclusively over the old method of using models. The effect is to make movies look and feel more and more like video games instead of films and the CGI look like video games and have a rather unreal quality about them which fails to suspend disbelief. This film makes use of a lot of models all the while utilizing CGI quite effectively.

I could go on and on and break this film down more and more but I will leave that to the movie critics and film school students. Just watch the movie if you haven't already and if you miss it in the theaters then by all means watch it on DVD but do so with surround sound and a good television screen... the bigger the better!

Below is a short web-featurette introducing us to the delightfully entertaining character of David in a futuristic faux corporate infomercial format. This was created to introduce us to this character outside the movie itself. As I see it the only weakness of this featurette is that it omits David's unintentional humor and irony as well as his darker side that is devoid of evil but is fairly indifferent to human well-being if his programming gives him that latitude in a particular case.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Of Minerals & Mammaries

This hilarious music video is a comedy short by Rachel Bloom, the woman who has stolen my big, clumsy, fragile heart away from the inimitable Kate Beckinsale. In it she mentions actual minerals (yep, you read that right) not once, but TWICE all the while also mentioning french kissing in a go-cart and touching boobies. As a life-long fan of minerals AND boobies how can I not now have a big honking crush on this woman? Below are the lyrical highlights (some might say lowlights but those would have to be stick-in-the-mud types like Golda Meir).

"We'll lick tongues in a go-cart and you'll tell me fun facts about minerals."
"Wow, amethyst is a type of quartz? For that you can touch my boobies!"

Is it just me or does this video seem to suggest only dorks and geeks like minerals? Geesh! Apparently, we rockhound types still have a lot of work to do in hippifying our hobby (yes, I just invented a new word there!).

In other related news, the geologist in the new sci-fi thriller Prometheus is a complete idiot and one of the first to die in the movie as a result. We earth science people can't catch any breaks!

Oh, and YES, we males at and around the age of 12 (as with the boy in the video) do indeed ponder (and sometimes dream) rather frequently and longingly upon topics ranging from where babies come from to the wonders of boobies and girly parts to how hot particular teachers are and how we wouldn't mind getting involved with them and other such related matters. I can also testify to the fact that by age 42 nothing in regards to any of this has changed one iota!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

High Park Fire Pyrocumulus Cloud

California Disasters member and Colorado sheriff deputy James Nelson took these two images today of the aerial firefighting efforts based at the Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport against the ongoing monster of a forest fire known as the High Park Incident, the most destructive wildfire in Colorado's history. Today, the fire made a run into the Glacier View Meadows subdivision in the Fort Collins, CO, area. Some initial reports indicate as many as 30-50 more homes were destroyed to go along with the nearly 200 homes that have already been confirmed destroyed as well as the one reported fatality to go along with 81,191 acres with only 45%  containment. As noted in the title, today the fire generated some rather spectacular pyrocumulus clouds.
Tanker #144 on final to Rwy 11L with the Flatirons in the background.
Tanker #45 about to land with the smoke from the High Park Fire billowing above it.
Both photos and their captions by James Nelson.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Air Tankers Of The High Park Fire

California Disasters member and Colorado sheriff deputy James Nelson has just sent me another parcel of interesting photographs showing wildfire activity in his area of Colorado and the resulting firefighting activity. The following images are shown in the order they were given to me and show aerial firefighting assets in action employed against both the High Park Incident as well as the Springer Incident. The scenes pictured below show the action at the Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport in Broomfield, CO. The High Park Fire as of this posting has killed one woman and destroyed 191 homes (thus making it the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history) while also charring 69,543 acres with only 45% containment. Today the fire spotted across a canyon and made a run on several subdivisions. Given ongoing weather conditions, to wit, red flag warnings and such, plus the fact this fire is now established in some bug killed forest zones it seems probable this is far from over.

Tanker #142 lifting off from Rwy 29R at the Rocky Mountain Regional Airport in Broomfield, CO, last Sunday The building in the background is the USFS Slurry Bomber Base, expanded 3 years ago.

Tanker #883, a SEAT, lifts off from Rwy 11L the second day of the fire.

Tanker #44 departs Rwy 11L on June 17, 2012, after a week of the High Park fire burning.

In the next two images Tanker #142 and #48 depart Rwy 29R last Sunday, June 17, 2012. They both turned south and headed to the new Springer Fire located about 60 miles to the southwest of Denver. The fire in the background is the High Park Fire, burning 40 miles to the northwest.

All photos and captions by James Nelson (all rights reserved).

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sex Really Can Get You Killed!

For those of us my age or older (and perhaps a minority of younger folks) who have seen many/most/all of the teen slasher flicks of the 1980's (and since) despite the pervasive and almost requisite sexual themes and situations (in some cases even nudity and/or simulated sex scenes) they almost universally contain subtle and surprisingly traditional and conservative morality tales regarding sexual mores. In most cases the antagonist (Freddy Krueger / Jason Voorhees / Michael Myers / et al) kills off all the sexually promiscuous young people while the more virtuous characters always seem to have a higher survival rate. Indeed, in these sorts of "cautionary tales" death seems often to occur for victims while in the midst of the throws of passion. These sorts of themes are hardly anything new to the human race as this sort of societal object lesson can be found in numerous other formulations throughout human history from various ancient mythos to modern fiction in all its formulations, i.e. literature and cinema. Now comes evidence of what drives all these vain attempts by older human beings to reign in the hormones of those their junior: sex has always been a killer going back to pre-human prehistory as captured in the above recently discovered fossilized scene of reptile debauchery frozen for all time following some sort of disaster in a pond in what would almost 50 million years later become Germany. Yes, you are looking at a fossilized Beast-With-Two-Backs. Note to self: don't have sex in German ponds.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Picture of the Day - Resonation

I was invited to join friends at the Summer concert series in the Templeton Community Park this evening. I accepted the offer and was pleased with the performance of the reggae rock band Resonation whom I have never heard or heard of before today. The park was packed and the vibe was great on this first day of Summer. Photo by Kim Patrick Noyes (all rights reserved).

Caveat Emptor Blue Agate

This past weekend I had the ignominious distinction of overhearing a Chinese dealer bullshit with an American citizen in the Salt Lake City Gem Faire. A simple-minded white woman asked the Chinese dealer what the beads pictured above were and he responded: "blue agate from Northern China".  A pox upon him and his commercial culture of deception and deceit that is running rampant across the globe and causing so much harm. There is little imagination and innovation coming out of China these days other than newer and more effective ways of selling more and more things of inferior value in a deceptive manner to the rest of the world while destructively exploiting multiple layers of resources across the globe be it mineral or technological or otherwise. The above beads are a very generic white agate with silica rind that could have come from a hundred different places on Earth which beads have been dyed in a most tacky fashion worthy of a tourist trap. For the record: I am in a rather strict boycott of any and all things Chinese. Given how much they dominate in so many areas of industry it is sometimes impossible to observe it but I do what I can. Photo by Kim Patrick Noyes (all rights reserved). 

Picture of the Day - Field of Flowers

This past day I found this field of flowering sweet peas (Lathyrus odoratus) along Turri Road in the Los Osos Valley area near the rear of the Morro Bay Estuary .  Photo by Kim Patrick Noyes (all rights reserved).

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Picture of the Day - Windmill & Three Cerros

In the background Hollister Peak at right and Park Ridge and an unnamed hill to the left of it each of which comprise but part of the Nine Sisters which are actually more numerous than nine. The windmill in the foreground is actually spinning but the high speed photo I captured today of this scene along Turri Road looking north doesn't give evidence of that motion.  Photo by Kim Patrick Noyes (all right reserved).

Monday, June 18, 2012

Picture of the Day - Double Shot of Desert Wind

Today en route back home to the Central Coast from doing Gem Faire in Sandy, UT, we were frequently buffeted by headwinds or crosswinds which moved over the surface of the desert throughout the day.

Photos by Kim Patrick Noyes (all rights reserved).

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Picture of the Day - Squire Meyer

One of Dave's customers today in the Rocks & Relics booth at Gem Faire in Sandy, UT, was a gentleman named Squire Meyer who is as colorful a character as his wardrobe. FYI: his shirt features Sugar Daddy candy wrappers on a lavender background to match his hair and classic sneakers. Photo by Kim Patrick Noyes (all rights reserved).

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Picture of the Day - Play Me, I'm Your's

Only in downtown Salt Lake City, UT, could one see this in any of American's major cities: when thriving arts community combines with Mormon community values culture. This was taken on the street out in front of Squatters. Photo by Kim Patrick Noyes (all rights reserved).

Picture of the Day - Flight of Squatters

My flight of beers tonight at Squatters in downtown Salt Lake City, UT. And yes, that is a mini-surf board serving platters the small cups are resting upon. Photo by Kim Patrick Noyes (all rights reserved).

Friday, June 15, 2012

Rock Photography Set VIII

This past weekend I helped by friend Dave Richter in his Rocks & Relics booth at the Salt Lake City, UT, area Gem Faire. This gave me the opportunity to fool around with my non-professional camera and try to push the boundaries of what my little machine is capable of doing and in the meantime try to get better at taking photos of minerals and fossils. Below is what resulted from that experiment.

Polished Brazilian quartz crystal point.
Druzy quartz-coated botryoidal chalcedony stalactites in Tampa Bay fossilized coral.
Large quartz crystal point from Mt. Ida, Arkansas.
Botryoidal chalcedony stalactites on Tampa Bay fossilized coral.
Acheulian tools from interior Morocco.
Fossil fish from the Green River Formation with polished ammonite half pairs from Madagascar.
Smokey Ametrine from Minas Gerais, Brazil.
Beryl that is lime green is still technically aquamarine and not emerald. This material is from Minas Gerais, Brazil.
Quartz pseudomorph of calcite dogtooth crystals with druzy quartz atop that from Maharashtra, India.
More polished quartz crystal points from Minas Gerais, Brazil.
Moroccan ammonites.
Cut and polished rock crystal quartz from Minas Gerais, Brazil.
Polished agate from Madagascar.
Iridescent ammonite from Madagascar (NOT ammolite).
Pink tourmaline (rubellilte) from Minas Gerais, Brazil.

All photos by Kim Patrick Noyes (all rights reserved).

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

My Mental Moving Images of Oklahoma

While traveling and working in Oklahoma recently it occurred to me that I only have a handful of mental moving images referring to that fine state and below is my rather eclectic mental list of five such.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

San Simeon Point & Cove Trek

Today a contingent of El Ejercicios met up in Cambria, CA.  After walking the full length of the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve (formerly known as the East-West Ranch) bluff-top trail (and back) we proceeded to head up to William Randolph Hearst State Beach and park and walk out to the end of San Simeon Point. We saw no gray whales today but did see a seal. Below is what I saw.

A fog bank lurked just beyond the point.

San Simeon Pier
An old Hearst-era structure.

There is an idyllic and enchanted quality about this scenic and tranquil cove.
Trail out to the end of San Simeon Point.
This wave angled into the cove in precisely the correct angle such that it broke upon the beach simultaneously across the entire length of the shore within the cove.

A most remarkable cluster of eucalyptus trees such as I have never before seen.
From the main trail this appears as one giant tentacled tree but is actually four such trees with serpentine boughs.
An unposed image of Blake Burgess, Jonathan Garcia, Kameron McMeekin, and Tanner Smith.
I like the way the trees framed this scene with the pier in the background.
A posed image of Blake Burgess, Jonathan Garcia, Tanner Smith, and Kameron McMeekin.
This angle brings to my mind the mental image of a mythological kraken.
Perhaps the most scenic scene here.
San Simeon Point looks a lot like the coast further north in and around Carmel, CA.
Kameron (left) and one of today's guest hikers.
This rock formation is actually greatly undermined by the ocean which surges up under it creating cavernous explosive noises as water surges up into the caves it has carved out of this rock.
Half our party elected to watch from the bluff-top the other half whom climbed down onto the beach.
Blake and Kameron climbing atop one of the picturesque rock mini-seastacks.
All photos by Kim Patrick Noyes (all rights reserved).