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.

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.

 

Sacramento actually does something useful… Be still my palpitating heart!

 Well what do you know?

The Governor actually signed laws I can agree with.

One is AB 1844 and the other is SB 1349. Both have to do with the rights of an employee or prospective employee to refuse to provide their Facebook or other social media IDs or passwords.

See the article here.

All I can say is this; It’s sad as hell that we even had to write a law to provide this kind of protection.

We could have avoided the situation by simply having everyone say NO when they were asked for their ID and Password.

What I find particularly astounding is that people actually did it. You do realize that you can make purchases from within Facebook? SO if you give someone your ID and Password you might as well have given them your ATM card and PIN.

You wouldn’t have done that… so why would you give someone access to your Facebook, Twitter, MySpace or whatever account? 

The more astounding part is that HR people felt somehow entitled… 

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Then again if you look at so called “Professional Job Search Sites” like Cybercoders,  what you see is a very social media oriented site.

I mean really… do I need to see a photo gallery of my recruiter partying or getting married?

Nope! What I need is for them to stop playing on a Facebook-like site and get on the phone to find me a job.

This whole Social Media thing is completely out of control.

I was talking to an acquaintance over the weekend who commented that he didn’t know where people found the time to update their Facebook status so often.

He also has an evil sense of humor and has considered updating his Facebook status with information like “I’m going to the bathroom”, “I’m in the parking lot at work”, “I’m leaving my cubicle” and other inanities as a parody of all those people who take Facebook so seriously.

We also were discussing some of the darker sides of Facebook. What about those people that for whatever reason decided they wanted to stalk you? 

In his line of work that’s a possibility because he’s dealing with people that have problems.

It’s ashamed that these new laws do nothing to stop other web sites from publishing private information about you.

Seriously, do a Google search of your name sometime and see what pops up. You might be surprised to find your name, your address, where you work, even a picture of you and your house. It’s spooky how invasive things have gotten.

Recently, I searched my name and found that three addressees were listed for me. One of the addresses was a place that I’d worked. The website listed me as the owner of that building and that my net worth was in the 10’s of millions of dollars (I wish!)

This same web site listed me as the owner of an apartment complex and also listed my current address. Again all  of these entires had an estimated net worth associated with me. This is concerning because the over-inflated net worth could potentially make me a target of unscrupulous people that wanted to try the old “Slip & Fall” scam on my property hoping to get a big settlement.

Boy, would they be in for a big disappointment! 

I’m pleased to see that the state government at least is taking some action. Miraculous for Sacramento to do any kind of work, much less something really useful.

I wish that the law had been more far reaching, curtailing the private information collection and dissemination. I suppose that a law like that will be proposed when some politician gets stalked.

In the mean time… 

Good Job Sacramento!

Hiking

Here is a picture of one of the places that I’ve been hiking lately.
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As you can see it gets a lot more rugged the higher up you go. This is at about 6750 FT above sea level. It’s also less than a mile from my house.

Whats interesting is that even though I live here in the mountains I’m supposed to pay for something called an Adventure Pass from the Forestry Service.

Sorry guys, not happening. I park my car at my own house, I leave no traces, no trash or whatever. I pack out whatever I carry in. So I’m not paying…

I’m planning to head further up this area.

Obviously I’ll wait until there is no snow and it hasn’t rained in a long time. This is a wash, and all those rocks and trees you see strewn about? Well that stuff is there because of lots of water rushing down this wash. It would be very bad to get caught in a flash flood here while I was hiking.

The Top of the peak is something like 8 thousand feet up. It’s a personal goal for me to get to the top

According to the topographical map, the  the Pacific Crest Trail is just over the ridge. As I understand it, this section of the trail is called Blue ridge Truck Trail. I’d like to walk the trail for at least a short distance.

The dogs seem to enjoy going with me. It’s good for all of us because we’re getting our cardio workouts in.
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They may not appreciate the cardio but they love getting to sniff all over the trail.

I’m appreciating the muscle tone and shrinking belly.

Before you decide to strike out and hike to the top of your nearest mountain…

Consider that you’re combating not only the slope but you’re also having to consider the altitude.

If you’re not used to it being above 6000 ft can cause shortness of breath. So work up to it, make sure that you’re not likely to have a heart attack and then begin training.

Have a blast…

One of the ways I relax

Took a long drive yesterday This was my first time on hwy 2 since it reopened.

The road was partially closed for 4 or 5 years. At it’s highest point it’s about 7000 ft. One very bad winter, the snow, ice, and rockslides caused a large section to slide down the mountainside. CalTrans opened as much as they could in the Summer but it wasn’t open to La Canada.

I used to take it home sometimes from work. It’s not as fast as the Freeway (well come to think of it, in rush hour traffic… it might be faster!) but the scenery is beautiful and if you’re someone that likes to drive, it’s a great road to forget about the work day on.

I took a few pictures but it really was the wrong time of day to get nice shots. I couldn’t resist a picture of the road, it’s new and smooth.
This is the kind of road my car was built for.

Drove all the way to La Canada from Wrightwood, it was a great drive! I had the top down, the road to myself and it was sunny & beautiful.

Coming back from La Canada right at the base of hwy 2,  I watched a young deer saunter across the road.

He was at least a 4 point buck, once he crossed the road he paralleled it for a bit. I drove by slowly, keeping an eye on him.

My concern was that he might panic and dart back into the road ahead of me then both of us would have a bad day.

I don’t think California lets you keep what you kill… the image of a deer strapped across the front of my car is amusing. The further thought of the cost to repair the inevitable body damage is not!

As I got even with him, he started to panic a little… when I realized he was trying to get ahead of me, I accelerated away. He disappeared into the trees a second or two after I passed him.

I wish I’d been able to grab the camera and snap a few pictures of him, he really was beautiful. But paying attention to the road took priority.

Seeing that deer made my day. Between him, the drive, and the sun on my skin I returned home very contented.

Gotta do stuff like that more often.