And in the “You should know your history before picking a mascot” category

In Murrieta, a group of folks have dressed up as Aztecs then began performing street theater for the IMG 7842JPGsake of the news cameras.

They’re PRO-Amnesty and are Chanting “White Supremacists out” 

The full article is here

The only problem(s) are:

Apparently, The Aztecs were among the most Xenophobic civilizations on the planet. Their enemies ended up with their still beating hearts being ripped out of their chests, and their bodies rolled down the steps of a pyramid. 

According to one article the Aztecs were so vicious that surrounding tribes joined Cortéz when they understood he was trying to destroy the Aztecs.

If ANYONE would have been a group of <blank> supremacists it was the Aztecs. 

And 

Being anti-amnesty isn’t the same as being a White Supremacist.

Then again, facts, and common sense often go out the window when you’re trying to justify a position that you know is inherently wrong.

Remember these guys?

I wrote a month or two ago about the local tarantulas.

At the time I said there were two varieties indigenous to this area. Don’t ask me to be all that specific about the phylum, species, and all that. It’s been way too long since I had to even think about it. 

The nail in my Phylum, Species information came when an Asian coworker pointed out that many birds are called different species when only their plumage was a different color and perhaps beaks were slightly different.

My co worker went on to point out that the birds could in some cases cross mate and their diets were identical. This coworker made the same points about fish.

Then came the coup de gras

Why, my co worker asked, don’t we apply the same rules to people?

TILT! “Danger Will Robinson!, Danger!”, “Illogical, Illogical, Norman, please coordinate”

All That hard work, from Mrs Vincent, Mrs Sharp… Undone in a moment!


Anyhow… I managed to get a photo of the Blond Tarantula. So here is my matching set for your enjoyment.

The first little beastie, the Black Tarantula (Aphonopelma reversum) I photographed in late August.

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The second beastie, the Blond Tarantula (Aphonopelma chalcodes). I photographed a couple of days ago.

As you can see they really do look quite a bit different.

My next door neighbor came and got me when they saw blondie hiking across the street. I took several pictures of the spider as he crossed my driveway. This one was also a lot more timid than the black tarantula.

I don’t think this guy was quite sexually mature, since he doesn’t have the “hooks” on his front legs. He’s also significantly smaller than the black tarantula in the photo to the left. You can’t really tell because there is no scale in the photos. Just take my word for it. That may have accounted for the timidness.

20 years here and I’d only seen one indigenous tarantula here. Now in one year I’ve seen both types. How cool is that? 

I really shouldn’t get so spun up… BUT DAMN!

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My Nike+ Fuel band is broken and needs repair. I look up the warranty and find the receipt then discover that I only have to take the fuel band down to the local Nike store and they’ll repair or replace it.

Great! I print out the receipt, and the warranty page which clearly states “To obtain in-person warranty support bring the defective product and sales receipt to a Nike retail store

Yesterday Morning, I sync the last data out of the fuel band, locking up my computer in the process.

Really?

You choose NOW to lock up? I swear I’ve done exactly this same procedure 100 times in the past 8 months and had no trouble at all.

But this time WHEN I need to get out the door, It’s a hard lockup.

Great! I sit down, disconnect all the cabling from the laptop open it, press and hold the power button then restart the system. I reconnect all the cables and boom I’m out the door.

I saddle up and drive the 45 minutes to the Nike Store.

I’m in the parking lot and heading for a parking space when a crazed bitch pops through the parking lanes does a U-turn in front of me and whips into the parking space I was pulling into then she gives ME Shit for being close to her POS car WHILE she’s talking to her phone in speaker phone mode and I’m the one who’s in the wrong…

Riiiight! I called her a bad name, I actually called her a fat assed one…

I backed up a little and went to the furthest parking spot in the freakin parking lot.

I don’t want no trouble, I just want to get into this shopping center, do my shit and get the hell out of here and home BEFORE it gets completely insane!

I hoof it to the store, wait in line and get to the cash register.

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I hand the clerk the broken fuel band and the receipt plus a printout of the warranty… then ask him “who should I talk to about this?”

He looks at the warranty paper then goes to get someone else. OK Fine…

The new guy looks at the warranty paper and the receipt and says “you bought this in December from Nike”

I’m starting to get a bad feeling but I figure nope, I’ll be nice.

“Yep direct from Nike. The button is broken I just need to exchange it. Under warranty which is 1 year and we’re not there yet.”

He says, “We’re supposed to get them in tomorrow.”

Which begs the questions I think to myself “You’ve never had them in the first place?” or “Is this just a way to get me out of the store”

He continues, “To do the exchange we need to have all the parts that came with it.”

Now I’m sure this is a delay tactic. But I think to myself I’ve still got the original box, and the parts and accessories I can pack ’em all up and come back tomorrow.

I point out that the band is the failure point and that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to just have a big box of the bands without their clasps in the back room and simply do a replacement from that stock. Just swap the customers clasp right there in the store it would take 2 minutes tops and would prevent the bands in the back from being pilfered since they’d fall off without the clasp mechanism.

But THAT would of course be too freakin intelligent. 

Ok, I’m annoyed… but not ticked off. 

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I head out to my car and sure as shit, there’s a rusted out POS parked crooked and so close that I can’t open my drivers door.

Fine! I crawl into the passengers side and squirm my way into the drivers seat. It’s 97F outside. Inside the car it’s well beyond that.

I fire the beast up and hit MAX on the A/C then pull out of the parking lot.

I have one more stop to make. I need to deposit a couple of checks at the credit union. I head toward them, make a right, make another right, then make a left into a shady parking spot. SCORE!!!

Go inside, stand in line… and stand…. and stand… and stand. WTH?

Only Two tellers and both of them occupied with two crazy women. One demanding that the money be recounted (6th time) “‘cause she be knoin she gave dat teller another $40” at one teller window and at the other window the woman is explaining her boyfriends access to the various accounts and that she thinks he’s cheating on her and she needs to get herself some money that aint his money… 

At which point my eyes and ears are starting to bleed.

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I’m wondering if the ATM would be a better option when miracle of miracles a third teller appears at the counter and waves the guy in front of me over. Progress! My eyes and ears are still bleeding. But I might make it out of the credit union before 9PM this evening.

Finally my turn, I hand the teller my endorsed checks, I swipe my ATM card and enter my PIN (Might as well have done the ATM thing) and tell him I want to deposit these checks and get $100 in cash. And that’s when it all fell down…

He looks at the checks, and then logs out of his computer. “Please wait, I’ll be right back…” 

ZIP he’s over conversing with a woman that looks like she put the whole lemon forest in her mouth. After 5 minutes the young guy comes back.

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I ask him what the problem was… He couldn’t read the first word of the spelled out amount… Sigh…

I remind him about wanting the hundred back. Then I’m done… Out the door and across the parking lot I see… a POS parked too close to my passenger door and an orange cone near my drivers door. WTF?

Oh the orange cone is from the mobile car wash guy who’s working on a Mercedes and has gotten my car with the water as he rinsed the Mercedes. He’s looking at me with fear in his eyes.

I guess by rights I could demand a free car wash but the poor guy looks so sorry, hot, & tired, I don’t have the heart. Besides my car is filthy the most he did was add to the water spots already in the dust on my hood. Big Deal!

It’s 99F when I get in the car. I’m on the road again heading North. 18 Wheelers are taking up 3 of the 3 lanes and not giving anyone a break as we inch along toward the freeway.

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Eventually the 18 wheelers manage to take up only 2/3 of the available lanes, me along with everyone else squirts through the opening and ahead into open lanes. Shortly though several cars are playing Indy 500 pace cars and we’re all crawling along catching every light.

Grrrr….

Finally the Freeway! Zip… I’m on cruising and all is well. I come up on Day Creek there’s enough room for 2 cars between me and the guy in front of me. The two cars merge perfectly and get on the freeway without problem. I’m watching the traffic as we approach the I-15 Northbound it bunches up in this area and it’s not uncommon for someone to realize they need to get on the i-15 and they’re not in the correct lane. This results in someone sailing across 6 lanes of traffic and further increase in the backup around the transition.

Out of the corner of my eye I see a white infinity SUV ON MY RIGHT! There’s either no lane or they’re about to run out of lane but they’re accelerating! There’s no room ahead of me, what the hell are they doing?

I’ve been moving at the same speed neither faster or slower there’s 1/4 mile of open road behind me and this dumbass has accelerated and is trying to force herself in to a space that is too small for her bloated ass and why is she doing this anyway?

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I’ve got nowhere to go, I can’t change lanes, and I figure the minute I touch my brakes so will she and we’ll still have a deadlock.

I keep moving at the same speed and hope she figures out that her best choice is to drop behind me like a good little BITCH and stop trying to cause an accident.

I momentarily think of the relative values of our vehicles and her probable impact point on my car, Yep! It would be her fault and I’d sue the fucking hell out of her. But nah… I just want to go home.

So I accelerate a bit to get out of her way because I still have nowhere to go… and the dumb bitch accelerates too!

Now it’s insane! She finally drops behind me as she should have done in the fucking first place and gets on the freeway.

As she takes the faster lane next to me another little bitch…

(I’m thnking a much worse word that is prefaced with Rancid, Diseased, Dried up, and ends with the bad word)

…in the passenger seat flips me off with her $90 manicured nails and enough diamonds on her fingers to make Xerxes I of Persia jealous.

I can’t stop myself, I safely signal and change lanes, I pull my phone out of it’s holster and snap a picture of them from behind.

NOW is when they get concerned that maybe, just maybe, they’ve pulled the wrong fucking guys chain. They speed off and I change lanes back to the slow lane to make the transition home.

You know, I just want to go about my life, It shouldn’t be an ordeal every fucking time I leave my driveway.

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This is one of the reasons that I’ve wanted to leave California for the last 5 years. I’ve actually wanted to leave this state for about the last 20 years but you make sacrifices for your significant other. The last 5 years however have made me want to be somewhere else I’m almost to the point of ANYWHERE else.

When do I get to go someplace that’s civilized?

I couldn’t help but think as I was finally heading home about that old saying “an armed society is a polite society” and that California is mostly disarmed now days.

Then there was the usual bullshit going up the I-15.

I’m going to get a sign to post in the back window of my vehicles, it’s going to read;

HEY DUMBASS!

It’s a simple rule…

SLOWER TRAFFIC TO THE RIGHT!

I finally get home. I’m hungry, spun-up and what should have been an hour errand at most, turned into a 3 hour tour. I think that’s going to be a new saying for me. “example, Then I was on a Gilligan – Something that should have been over far sooner than it actually was.

I’m pissed off and storming so I sit down at my computer.

Logic, rationality, and calmness are what I’m craving.

I click on my browser, I want to look at some settings on the blog and maybe read the news.

The computer locks up… again… I have absolutely no control…

REALLY??????

AAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!

I need a drink!

Here’s a rare sight.

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This is a nice Tarantula. He just walked across my drive way like nobodies business. I ran in and grabbed the camera then caught up with him in front of the neighbors driveway

They’re indigenous to the area but we don’t see them very often. In fact this is only the second tarantula I’ve seen in the wild since I moved here in 1991.

I didn’t want to scare it or cause it to feel threatened.

He froze when I started taking pictures and while he didn’t seem to be threatened he was justifiably cautious. I snapped only a few pictures, then let him be on his way.

This critter had someplace to be, it was moving pretty darn fast, but it wasn’t running.

After looking up tarantulas native to southern California on the web it turns out that there are only 2 species in this area.

This is an example of the Black Tarantula (Aphonopelma reversum) and this one is probably a male. He’s also a big boy the specs say his body is usually about 1 inch or so, this dude is double that.

I’ll have to keep my eyes open for the other species which I’ve never seen. It’s and I can’t help but chuckle since this is California… The Blond Tarantula (Aphonopelma chalcodes) They usually show up a couple months after the Black Tarantulas. But as I said, I’ve never seen one.

This guy has probably become sexually mature and is doing what males do… Looking for a mate.

Unfortunately for him, if he finds a mate she’s likely to kill him then eat him. after sex of course…

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Wow talk about a harsh punishment for not pleasing your partner!

This is one of the reasons I like living here. You never know what you’re likely to encounter, and more often than not the encounters can be very cool and no-one gets hurt.

There are of course exceptions to every rule but thus far my encounters have been of the peaceful variety I hope that continues to be the trend.

My pride was hurt once when a California King Snake treed me on top of my motorcycle.

Being raised in the South, we were taught to fear the Coral Snake. The California King mimics the color pattern of the Coral Snake and to a Southern boy like myself seeing a certain combination of colors moving out of the corner of my eye will cause a dramatic leap to the top of anything nearby.

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My so called friends had a big laugh, and honestly I laughed too once I processed the following; I’m above 6000 ft, In California, and that snake is WAY too big to be a Coral snake.

In fact, that Kingsnake lived in my yard for many years, and I saw it often while gardening.

I think it was seeing if it could make me jump again, probably had a mean streak or a great sense of humor.

The 1st picture is of a Coral Snake. (Venomous)

The 2nd picture is of a California Mountain Kingsnake (Non Venomous)

Yes they’re very different, but when assessing the danger factor if you assume the snake is poisonous odds are you’re going to live!

The California Kingsnake comes in a bewildering variety of colors.

After doing some research, I found out that the California Mountain Kingsnake appears to mimic the Arizona Coral Snake.

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The last photo shows an Arizona Coral snake. Like it’s Southern cousin, it’s very poisonous They are related to cobras and their venom is a neurotoxin.

Which is why, when it comes to snakes, it’s always a good idea to leave them be.

Sharp Fire Day 4

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Looks like the evacuation order will be lifted sometime today.

Unfortunately, this will happen after the checkout time for this hotel. Oh well, we’re going to be charged for the day, sigh…

There’s supposed to be a re-entry plan posted at noon.

I’m not sure exactly what that means but I suspect Police may be checking IDs at the bottom of East Canyon.

On the one hand yeah that’s a pain, on the other hand it’s reasonable if it keeps the lookie loos and criminal element out of the area.

It really SUCKS that there are scumbags who might try to go in, rob a place and then leave before the real homeowner was able to return.

The fire is about 75% contained and they’ve managed to make significant progress in making fire lines.

To date no homes have been lost. There have been two injuries to Firefighters but nothing severe has been reported. For that I’m thankful. One injury was a back injury and the other was something heat related

I’d rather see the homes burn than firefighters severely injured or killed. It’s a balance, Firefighters do a really dangerous job and sometimes they get hurt badly or killed. I’d never want one of these brave souls to get killed protecting my house… I’d tell them run! Let it burn! Your life is more valuable than my stuff.

Having watched my house burn in 2008 I guess my perspective is a little different. My stuff can be replaced, a Firefighters life can’t.

This is not to say I don’t appreciate the job these folks do. I’m very grateful that they’ve stopped the fire and my home is still there.

But if I had to choose between my house and stuff, and a Firefighter. Hands Down every time I choose the Firefighter.

I actually said that to several of the guys as they were suiting up, before we were asked to evacuate.

I looked carefully at the faces of the men as they marched up the hill. They knew they were walking into a tough situation you could see the tension in their faces.

The incline is very steep, their packs on average weigh 40lbs. I knew what the hike ahead of them was going to be like. I can’t imagine what that hike would be like with fire, and smoke, knowing that you have a job to do, and that no matter how much you plan with fire… you can’t ever plan enough.

When I hoist my pack and hike up the canyon I know I can always turn around and go home. I know my house is there, with food and water and air conditioning.

These guys, had none of that easy security, and yet they kept marching.

My respect for them, and what they do is boundless.

There was nothing I could do to help them. I could tell them the lay of the land, I could tell them my water was on and that once I left they were welcome to park at my place. I connected a hose to the front hose bib, (the softened water spigot). They could fill their canteens and rest if they wanted in the shady coolness of the decks. They could eat at the table on the deck like human beings if they chose.

That was all I could do, except leave and get out of their way.

What they did for me can’t be repaid with parking, or water, or a shady place to rest. Had I stayed in my home, I’d have been cooking for them.

But I think maybe them not having to worry about me was worth more to them.

I hope my appreciation and thanks helps to balance the scales a little bit.

Firefighters…

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart!

People are so weird.

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Big news yesterday was that a bear wandered down from a mountain to the East, walked along my fence line and then through a neighbors garden then up the mountain to the South of the house.

Nothing at all unusual about that, well not to me at any rate.

I live in a canyon on a mountain. The peak to the south of me tops 8000 ft (maybe higher, I don’t  feel like digging out the topo maps for an exact altitude.) I live at 6250 FT above sea level.

In this area we have bears, coyotes, bobcats, and the occasional cougar (mountain lion). We also have rabbits, raccoons, deer, bats, owls, and hawks. Not to mention a variety of snakes, poisonous and non poisonous.

Part of the reason I like living here is that there are birds in the trees, and wildlife is pretty abundant.

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I get a kick out of the way people down below get their panties in a bunch when they see a critter.

On the one hand they’ll oooh and ahhh and protest about the destruction of the Brazilian habitat and yet they’ll freak out when they encounter a Coyote on a trail near their tract homes.

God forbid a Bear should walk through a neighborhood…  Mountain Lions? You’d think that a T-Rex had been found alive.

(Down Below… That’s how we refer to the areas which are not Mountain towns. Yes it sounds effete and I guess it is, so what? Even my Orange County friends live on the top of a mountain, Yes, we do look down on some areas.)

I understand that these people are so disconnected from nature that the only way they ever interact with wildlife is via the Discover Channel, Green Peace, or a nice safe zoo.

Their support of environmental causes doesn’t do anything to minimize their blatant hypocrisy. There are times when I want to slap them and point out that protecting the environment starts at home.

Maybe people should tear down some of their 15FT high concrete walls around their homes. How about creating easements so that critters could once again migrate to better hunting grounds and sources of water easily?

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Oh I see, that’s too scary… You’d have to be responsible and keep an eye on your kids & pets.

I get it, it’s the same mentality that says “put criminals in prison, but don’t build the prison near me.” Or “I want cheap clean electricity but it can’t be nuclear and solar panels are so ugly… Thank goodness my homeowner association won’t let those in our development.”

I got to thinking about these things because a neighbor has family visiting. The family is from one of the most artificial warrens of humanity I’ve ever seen… New York City.

The Grandmother was so freaked out by the fact that a bear had been sighted she’d been keeping the children inside for fear that the bear would carry them off and devour them.

She kept asking why no-one was concerned and why didn’t we contact animal control or the police? (I heard it all through the open windows, sound carries here in the canyon.)

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She just assumed that the locals (us) didn’t have a plan.

Obviously we were ignorant savages because we weren’t freaking out about it. (Hummm now that sounds familiar… in what other context are people presumed to be too unintelligent to handle their own affairs?)

We do have a plan. When we see a bear we contact those people we know have kids first. Then folks with small pets. We inform each other that a bear or other critter is in the neighborhood and to take appropriate action.

Often this results in families gathered on their decks well above ground watching the critter pass harmlessly by. It’s a great show and we feel privileged to have been able to watch.

Then when the critter has gone, the kids, and dogs go back outside to play and life returns to normal.

We’re prepared, we keep our garbage in special containers and we don’t leave edible things outside to attract critters. We also know that most critters aren’t at all interested in us.

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Coyotes & Hawks keep the rabbits, mice, and other rodents in check.

We don’t as a rule have to worry about gophers, squirrels, or rabbits, getting out of control in our gardens.

Sure, we might have to replant a few plants one morning but the telltale blood on the ground tells us that the rodent met it’s end.

Replanting a few plants is a small price to pay for not having to poison the environment.

Notice I said, “out of control”… I lose a few raspberries, blackberries, and apples each year to rodents and birds. I’m content to share, they have to eat too.

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FYI there is nothing like watching a Hawk snatch a critter off the ground and fly off. It’s amazing. Yeah, I feel sorry for the critter but it’s not going to suffer.

I do my part, I accept losses in my garden so that I can witness hawks and snakes doing what comes naturally.

Watching coyotes hunt in the evening or the early morning is a study in teamwork. It’s very interesting to watch and surprisingly often, the prey slips between the coyotes paws and the pack goes hungry.

I enjoy the acrobatic flight of bats snagging insects out of the air.

When I get to watch a bear wander around. The light on their fur makes them look shiny. The last bear I saw had dark black fur but the sunlight playing across its shoulders hinted at a reddish undertone.

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You think about bears and cougars as being somewhat monochromatic but they’re not. They have variations and each one is unique, just like people.

You can’t really appreciate that unless you get to watch them in their natural habitat.

All of these things are worth the minimal risks. The kids learn a lot more practical lessons and hopefully appreciate nature a little more than the denizens of glass and concrete.

My neighbors were trying to explain all of this to Grandma, but she was having none of it.

This was wild and uncontrolled (therefore dangerous) and we have to protect the children! I knew for sure that Grandma was from a big city when she said that.

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Protecting children is obvious, for the most part instinctive, and even those like myself without children will go out of our way to protect them.

(“Protect the children” as a phrase has lost all meaning as it has been overused to forward an agenda. I personally believe that agenda will in fact increase the danger that children face. I’m a believer in knowledge and experience being far better protectors of children than fear and insulation from the world. That’s another completely different story, for another time.)

I couldn’t help but think about the noise that kids make. They’re loud and active and every animal on the planet knows that where there are young… Mama’s not too far away.

Nothing is more dangerous than a mother protecting her young. So between the noise and the mama rule… Critters are going to give the area a wide berth.

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I thought I could have some fun by pointing out the wide variety of poisonous snakes and insects that no doubt existed where the kids had been playing. And that the kids were far more likely to break bones or come to other harm by running around barefoot in the yard.

Thus far I’ve refrained.

No sense in terrorizing Grandma, she’d just make it harder on the kids.

My neighbor pointed out to the Grandmother that I tended to keep an eye on the kids too.

I’m sure that raised eyebrows because so many people nowadays automatically assume the worst. At least it gave her something else to fixate on.

I notice the kids are outside running around enjoying themselves again.