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Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014
6:13 pm - Young California Kingsnake? / First Visit to Sibley

Photos taken on 10/21/14, at Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve. If I have the ID right, this is a young California Kingsnake, Lampropeltis getula californiae. This was the first time I've seen a kingsnake in the wild, and the first time that I remember seeing this color variation for a kingsnake, anywhere. Very cool--it was maybe 12 to 14 inches long, moved sinuously, and was very fiesty--it wiggled its tail-tip as if it had rattles, and it struck at a dog that came up to sniff at it. (Neither snake nor dog seemed hurt.) Wikipedia says these snakes are constrictors, usually diurnal, that they eat rodents, other reptiles, amphibians, and birds--pretty much any vertebrate they can constrict. Typical hatchling size is 8 to 13 inches in length, so this individual is probably quite young. Typical adult snake size is 2.5 to 3 feet in length. Click either photo once or twice to zoom in.

This was the first time I've been to Sibley, though I'd been planning to go for awhile. The park felt bigger than I expected. Arriving around mid-afternoon, I made it to only two of the park's eleven signed points of geological interest. One of the two turned out to have a labyrinth, in addition to interesting geology. I'd known there were labyrinths in the hills, but hadn't remembered which park they were in, so finding it was a nice surprise. I walked the labyrinth into its center, saying heya in my mind, and was pleased about doing so. Given how late it was getting, how rough part of the path in had been, and the fact that I was wearing the Wrong Shoes For Serious Hiking, I did step over one rock boundary to take a shortcut out of the labyrinth, rather than retracing my path. That felt OK, too.

There was lots of wildlife at Sibley--I saw a rabbit, a lizard, two raptors (probably red-tailed hawks, but hard to be sure--the park signs say they also have golden eagles there), some jays (probably Steller's jays), and some unidentified little gray-brown birds. I heard lots of bird songs that I couldn't identify. And, coming home via Old Tunnel Road, I saw two deer and a flock of nine wild turkeys.

Not sure whether I'll drive Old Tunnel Road, again, or not--that is a seriously windy road. (Now I want to see a topographic map that shows how deep those hill canyons are, even though they're full of houses. A lot of topo maps don't show contour lines inside city limits.) But, regardless of route choices, I definitely plan to go back to Sibley--I want to see more!

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Saturday, October 4th, 2014
10:40 pm - Herons Sculpture

Herons sculpture by Mark Edward Canepa, at the West end of Buchanan Street, on the Albany Bulb. Photo taken on 09/25/14.

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Monday, September 29th, 2014
9:43 pm - Link to Photo Post Elsewhere: Albany Bulb Bike Racks

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9:23 pm - Coast Range Fence Lizard?

Photo taken at the Albany Bulb on 09/25/14. ID is tentative--if this is a coast range fence lizard, the scientific name is Sceloporus occidentalis bocourtii. The information at the link says that these lizards eat "small bugs including crickets, spiders, ticks, scorpions, and even tiny lizards." I think this individual was about two-thirds to three-quarters grown.

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Monday, September 15th, 2014
4:57 pm - Twenty-Spotted Lady Beetle?

On Saturday, 9/13/14, I saw this tiny beetle in Sarah's garden--only the second time I've ever seen this species. Looking here on, I believe it to be a Twenty-Spotted Lady Beetle (aka ladybug, ladybird beetle), Psyllobora vigintimaculata, which feeds on fungus--usually mildew on leaf surfaces.

These are a lot smaller than the various kinds of red or orange ladybugs that I usually see in my area: that's my index fingernail to give some scale re how small these critters are. The size is just about at the limit of what my camera can usefully see, so all of these photos are heavily cropped, and the first two photos are displayed at full size.

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Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014
5:54 pm - Cool Mosaic Mural by Local Artist!

So, yesterday evening (9/2/14), I went to the site of the historic Chung Mei Home for Chinese Boys, to take some photos. I found out about it through Wikipedia's Summer of Monuments call for photos of national registered historic places--the Chung Mei Home was the nearest one to my home for which they were lacking photos.

In the process of scrambling around the site, trying to take informative and interesting photos of the historic building, I spotted a delightful mosaic mural on the site's modern annex building. Even better, it was signed by a local artist who I've met a couple of times, Arlin Robins. She kindly gave me permission to post photos of the work. Click either photo to zoom in:

For the curious, here are links to the WikiMedia Commons pages that contain the Chung Mei Home photos that I uploaded, today:

This is the first time I've made a contribution to content on Wikipedia.

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Monday, September 1st, 2014
1:29 am - Monarch Butterfly!

Photos taken on 08/31/14, in Sarah's garden. Click either photo to zoom in. The Monarch may have been the only kind of butterfly I knew a name for, in my childhood, but this is the first time I've gotten a close look at one in my own photos. There were at least two flying around this garden, when I was photographing, so I'm not sure if it's the same individual in both pics, or not. From what the internet says, each of these photos shows the wing pattern for a female.

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Saturday, August 30th, 2014
10:44 pm - Sunset Over Mt. Tamalpais

Photo taken on 08/29/14, from the Kensington hills.

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10:37 pm - Link to Photo Post Elsewhere: Lorquin's Admiral Butterfly

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Wednesday, August 27th, 2014
11:12 am - Wild Turkey Tom Portraits
To go with yesterday's texture shot. Click any photo to zoom in.

All four photos taken on 8/26/14, in a housing development in the north Oakland Hills.

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Tuesday, August 26th, 2014
8:20 pm - Link to Photo Post Elsewhere: Wild Turkey Textures

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Sunday, August 24th, 2014
12:52 am - Link to Photo Posts Elsewhere: Snowy Egret and Brown Pelican
Snowy Egret:
Brown Pelican:

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Friday, August 15th, 2014
11:58 am - Signal Boost: Taking Action re Ferguson, MO
For anyone who's concerned about the police violence of the past few days in Ferguson, MO, and the safety and well-being of the inhabitants, here are two tumblr posts suggesting ways to take action:

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Saturday, August 9th, 2014
3:31 pm - Quick poem from the tumblr prompt "Summertime"
In a foggy town,
warm summer days
are savored,
the warm asphalt
under my bare feet
as I squeezed an old
Palmolive bottle
filled with water
to write words
and draw patterns
along our quiet street.

The patterns
didn't linger--
sunlight dried them,
dark to gray--
making space where
I could write again:
intent and drowsy
summer play.

I may tweak this poem a bit more, later.

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Tuesday, July 29th, 2014
10:41 am - Internal Process Art: Three Versions of Depression

Created in Sketchbook for Galaxy, early this morning (07/29/14), when I couldn't get back to sleep after waking.

I like the look of the dark one better than the gray-green one, but the gray-green one more accurately represents the feeling of depression for me.

I'll try to make a positively transformed version of at least one of these, later. Maybe with a torch standing ready to be taken in hand and carried along?

ETA: One (partially) transformed image added.

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Saturday, July 12th, 2014
7:46 pm - New Word of the Day for Me: Infix

I just discovered that when an expletive is inserted into the middle of an exclamatory word (like "abso-fuckin'-lutely" or similar), that's called an infix (as distinguished from a prefix or a suffix). And, at least in English, the insert is always put just before the syllable of the base word that has the most stress put on it.

More at

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Wednesday, July 9th, 2014
12:16 pm - Link to Photo Post Elsewhere: Radial (Almost) Symmetry

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Friday, July 4th, 2014
10:33 pm - Poem: On July Fourth
On July Fourth
Last night, at dusk, I heard the fireworks start,
and, pausing first, I ventured out to look:
my view was poor, at first, a glimpse of sparks
that rose between two trees to fade the sky.

But sparks there were, and as I stood and watched
upon the sidewalk, in the place I'd sought,
my neighbor came out to her taller porch
and called her children, showing them the sight.

I thought to ask if I might climb their stairs
and join them, but I heard complaint of trees,
so, moved to tell them what I'd learned before--
which fence to stand beside to see more sky.

And so we went: at first, three little girls,
their father and their uncle, down the road,
and, yes, the view was better--almost good--
and blessedly the fog held off enough

to only block the topmost of the rays
that burst and burst in red and gold and green.
So, next-door dad went back to gather mom,
returned in time to see some minutes more--

some bursts with blue and punctuating white.
A lady and her dog came, spoke, and went...
The booms far off enough that we could hear
each others' voices raised in soft delight--

not like the year I went to WesterCon,
and found myself so close to each big bang
that ears complained and heart beat out of time,
as if bombardment had, in truth, arrived.

So, no, last night, the distance made it good,
and clarity enough to see the sky
and almost all the grand finale blaze,
a decoration safely far away.

Then it was done. We made our way
back to our lighted houses, well content;
they thanked me for the "secret" I had shared;
we parted cordially to go to bed.

Next time the fireworks boom, perhaps I'll see
that family observing every burst,
and, down the years, perhaps there'll also be
a memory of one girl's fireworks first.

--K. Summerly,

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Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014
7:32 pm - Art Experiment: Arcs

Created in Sketchbook for Galaxy on 06/19/14.

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Tuesday, July 1st, 2014
11:07 am - Accidental Impressionism

Photo taken on 07/01/14.

I'm not sure if the accidental soft focus resulted from some inherent limitations of my recently-purchased phone's camera, my relative lack of practice with trying to shoot from a phablet, a smudged lens, or some combination of the above.

I experimented with cropping and heavily sharpening the shot in post-processing, and this is what that looks like when resized to a height of 480 pixels.

The cat's attention was on a Steller's Jay that was hopping around in a nearby birch tree, giving off occasional screeches. I tried to get a photo of the jay, as well, but I really needed my regular camera for that, and I didn't have it with me.

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