Thursday, November 23, 2017

Good, Bad, and Ugly News (Thanksgiving 2017)

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you and yours have a wonderful weekend whether you celebrate this holiday or not. Just thought I would give a quick update type of blog as to what I have been doing and thinking about.
Summers Meadow (13 of 13)
The bad news first is I fully intended to have another movie location video or two up by about this time. I specifically went to the same location I was at last year in the Alabama Hills. If you recall I couldn't do it because someone had their travel trailer in the spot I needed. Okay, this year I went earlier in the day and sure enough right as I turned the corner there were cars, tents, and people camping nearby. Sigh! So, like I said last year, "There is always next year." Actually, I hope to be there again after the new year a few times. So we shall see. It does get me a little nervous to see so many people hanging out there like that, but not because I don't want people to visit the area. I do. I more concerned about people, city, or government officials wanting more regulations, but I'll leave that for another blog.
Summers Meadow (1 of 13)
The good news is I have finally found a movie location in the Alabama Hills that I have been putting off for almost eight years. It is the one that I have talked about on and off for the past few years. The trick to this one is it takes some legwork to get to it. I took some preliminary pictures and video of the area so I can figure out how I want to do it at a later date when I go back.

I guess the "ugly" news if we want to go there is I have yet to get a new video camcorder. I don't know if Santa Claus will bring one this year or I will have to purchase one at a later date. However, I probably won't do any more movie locations until I get the new camcorder. When I do I'll do some new locations, but probably do some of the old ones to just because I like them. In any case, it could take some time on this one.

As I have been saying, I don't have anything planned for Christmas this year. I do have another video I shot over the summer, but when that one will get edited together I don't know. In any case, enjoy the weekend and the holiday season! 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Happy Veterans Day! (USS Midway)

I think I said I wasn't going to have anything more on military subjects for a while, but I just got finished uploading a bunch of pictures on my recent trip to the USS Midway in San Diego...

So, I will keep this one a bit modest and send you to my Flickr album about the aircraft carrier if you care to see a small portion of what I saw there:

USS Midway Flickr Album

If I put together a video then at some point I will link it here. In any case, I wish you and, of course, our brave veterans a peaceful day.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Summers Meadow (October, 2017)

Happy Halloween!

Hope you have a good one today. As I pointed out a few months ago, I'm skipping Halloween and Christmas themes for the foreseeable future. If and when the time is right I will go back to doing it if I can find something worth showing. If you are into that you can go back and look at the previous October blogs I have had on here.

Today I wanted to talk about how the fall colors were in the High Sierra this year. Since last year, I had been planning to visit the high country outside of Bishop again like I did last year. However, this year was a little strange in the sense that there was much rain and snow. That was a good thing getting the area out of a drought. However, it appears it threw off the timing of the color of the leaves. 

The leaves were uneven. Some turned different red and yellow colors, other stayed green, others had already fallen due to winds. So from what I read, and then saw for myself, many areas were not as spectacular as previous years. Some areas, like in the high country above Bishop you usually expect fall colors turning at the end of September or first week of October. Most areas were delayed about an extra week or two.

So I skipped the Bishop part this year. Sigh...there is always next year. Instead I did get to visit Summers Meadow for about two yours due to my brothers 4X4. 
Summers Meadow (2 of 13)
I had never been here before. I've hiked to different areas nearby, seen the area from a distance, but never stood here before.
Summers Meadow (7 of 13)
The only regret I had was we had to come a little later in the afternoon. I would have liked to have been there earlier in the day. That is the thing about the fall in the High Sierra, if you come too early the sun is not high enough, and a little too late the sun is already down passed the mountains. Your time is limited compared to the early and long sunlight hours of the summer. In this case the sun was still up, but in the angle I would have liked to have taken some really great pictures. Oh well, always next year.
Summers Meadow (9 of 13)
I did a short walk to find a nearby trailhead for a future hike, but since time was limited we had to head back. On the way out I took some of my favorite pictures of the area.
Summers Meadow (12 of 13)
Two days later I would be in a nearby town in a line for some lunch. A guy waiting for his order said that he had to take off since there was a head injury in Summers Meadow. After he took off I heard an ambulance siren passing the town on its way there. I never heard anything more than that. It is a beautiful area, but a bit of a rough drive at some points.

That's all for this one. I'm thinking of doing a few "short" opinion pieces in the upcoming weeks. Assuming I do I will add some more fall pictures from this area or other areas I visited when I do those.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Supremacy (Boxing: GGG-Canelo Open Public Workout)

The extended summer! I'm not as much of a boxing fan as I was when I was younger, but I'll watch any fight Gennady Golovkin is in. Oddly enough, you would have to look closely, but I believe that the hike I did to Mt. Hoffman is the one where he partly inspired me. If it is not in the pictures, then look in the video and you should see him at some point.

A few weeks ago I attended the open public/media workout near the Staples Center (Microsoft Square/LA Live).
GGG Shadowboxing

I've been to all his fights in So. California and I would have gone to this one in Vegas, but the prices are a little too high for this one. Tonight he faces Canelo Alvarez, and it should be a good fight. I'm a fan of GGG and know what he is capable of, but Canelo is no slouch. The fight could go either way.
Canelo Shadow Boxing

I appreciate GGG's sportsmanship, "less talk, more action", no-nonsense approach. Win, lose, or draw I'm a fan.
Gennady Gennadyevich Golovkin

GGG-Canelo Media/Public Workout (Unlisted YouTube Video)

GGG-Canelo Open Public Workout (Flickr Pictures)

Monday, September 04, 2017

Labor Day Weekend 2017

Happy Labor Day for those that celebrate it here in the U.S. As I usually point out on this blog, this marks the unofficial ending to summer in the United States even though technically it goes for another few weeks.

This marks the end of my summer blog series that I started just after the 4th of July. While I have more to show on some things I did this summer, I am going to hold that back for a while. Hopefully at some point closer to or during the holidays I will post some of that material. There is another item I intend to show in less than two weeks, but as far as what I wanted to show during this summer it is already up on here. So if you missed anything I did and care to see, then go back over this summer to find it.

Yesterday, I went to the Huntington Beach Civil War Days. If you have followed the blog from the early days you might remember I had been to this in the past. It was somewhere around the time I started up the blog. Actually, I went last year too, but never said anything about it on here. I thought it was important to go this year though. I'll explain while as I show some of the pictures I took.

Some of the Union troops:
Due to the controversy a few weeks ago where a White Nationalist group held a rally where there was some violence and one death, I found out that Manassas Civil War Reenactment that was to happen a week ago was cancelled.  I understand the reasons for that, but that is unfortunate that it has come to this.

Some Confederate troops:
What bothers me the most about this is the attempt by those to wipe out history. Obviously the American Civil War is the most controversial event for Americans in its own history. The fact that it is the only time that Americans fought against Americans in a war tells us this. No one doubts that American history has its own past sins that have been dealt with, but still linger over us to this day.

The Union side during the reenactment battle:
Taking down statues is probably not the best solution. Those statues should be a reminder of the history itself. For me, having a statue up is not necessarily sign of endorsement. There might be room for debate here as to having them in a museum instead, but the complete takedown of statues is very anti-historical.

The Confederate side of the reenactment:
As was pointed out by many, if you start taking statues down, then where do you stop? You can keep taking down statues of founding fathers who had slaves. How about any statue of any member of the Democratic party which historically endorsed the Confederacy. All of this is silly and gets us into genetic fallacies.

The Union cannon:
In any case, I like history and think all aspects to it need to be preserved. Not just the good parts we like, but the bad parts too. A lot of the old west historical items I have talked about in the past were filled with shady characters. This is not an endorsement or glorification of their personalities.

A former pastor of mine that I have learned a lot from has gone politically correct on so much that I have started to refer to him a "P.C. Pastor". On his podcast where he talks about cultural issues he really has bought into everything the mainstream press talks about. For me, if someone logs into a popular site like Yahoo News and thinks that is what the world really is like then it would be like we are living on two different planets. I think I said it on here after the election, that it is one thing to get the facts straight which is important to get the truth. It is another thing to selectively withhold information from others when it contradicts the narrative. So, a news organization in theory could be telling the truth all the time, but end up being deceptive by only reporting on a handful of issues that fit the narrative.

Getting back to P.C. Pastor he rightfully condemned the White Nationalist rally for Christians are not to think of in terms of racial superiority. Many Christian blogs I read did this as well. While listening to P.C. Pastor's podcast on this I certainly agreed, but kept waiting and waiting for him to talk about something else. What was it I was waiting for?

The counter-movement that has been going on and on since the election has been encouraging violent behavior. Taking the name of Anti-Fascism or Anti-Fascist (Antifa) is a bit strange since they seem to be what they fight against. Just because you define yourself in a certain way doesn't mean they you can't be what you fight against. The fact they encourage violence against those they disagree with is rather telling. I would warn people to stay away from groups like this because they are just there to physically stir things up.

So what did P.C. Pastor say about this group? Nothing. You would think that someone that holds to biblical Jesus beliefs against racism would also condemn the violence of the other group. I don't know what the population of those that attended the White Nationalist rally. Something tells me that that in proportion to the Antifa groups popping up it is not as significant as it might have been 50-150 years ago.

A few final points. As I have stated before, two philosophical truths that guide me in my political views and seem to be the basis for American government. One, human nature is weak, not all good, seeks its own self-interest, and cannot be perfected on its own in this world. Two, because of the truth of number 1, utopias are not realistic because that assumes human nature can be perfected. These two truths are something that needs to be pounded in the heads of millennials and other young people. I've seen a lot of ideas that young people are pushing that tend to be utopian when examined. The whole 20th century was an blood bath of utopian experiments that turned into nightmares. The current situation in Venezuela is another example.

Enough...

I didn't take any video yesterday, but I did take about thirty minutes of video last year that uploaded today. It is really an unedited version. When was the last time I uploaded a thirty minute video? It is unlisted since it is nothing I am really hardcore about people seeing, but if you want to see a long Civil War reenactment video then this is it:

Huntington Beach Civil War Days 2016 (YouTube Video)

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Ursus Investigating Silence

So how many times have I said on this blog, "Nature does not play by rules"? It is my way of saying, "expect the unexpected" while outdoors to protect yourself. Well, here is a situation where I had a hard time following my own advice. Admittedly, this was not one of my better moments, and I probably could have reacted better.

A few hours after I encountered those river otters (A few blog entries back) I went on another short walk right before noon. I remember thinking how I was going to edit that otter video for YouTube while I was walking. Then I was thinking of how I could link it to another wild animal video I did. Then coincidentally, like a gift from heaven, the other wild animal showed up in my view.

Quick disclaimer: there are some "quick word graphics" in this video. Not really quick flashing, and imo rather mild to other things on Youtube, but if you sensitive to that sort of thing then you should know.



As it got closer and closer to me I was thinking, "Seriously? Seriously? It does see me right? Am I going to have to defend myself or run away?" Looking back I probably should have said something or made some sort of noise. When it got just a few feet away I started moving away, and that is when it realized I was a real person. It jumped up, and did a 180 degree turn, ran away, and climbed that tree.

I was pretty sure it was a harmless young bear that probably had just left his mother a few months earlier, but the one bear you have to avoid for black bears is the "stalking bear" (predatory bear). Keep in mind that there was not any trail or reason it should have come directly at me like that. That is what freaked me out at the time. As I said in the video, I think it just caught my scent and decided to head toward it. Then when it realized I was a living person its youngster instincts kicked in which made it climb the tree.

As I said in the video, I was kind of sad that I turned the camcorder off when it ran back and climbed the tree. It was really cool to see that. After it left I kept my distance and tried to walk a nearby road to see if I could see it again, but it was gone. I could have followed it better than I did by going directly where it went, but after our little encounter I did not want to spook it anymore than I had already had done.

If you hadn't seen the blog(s) I did on my black bear encounter two years ago then go there:

Investigating Ursus (Part 1)

Investigating Ursus (Part 2)

The music from Incompetech used in the video is called "Aggressor".

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Ancient Sentinels (Bristlecone Pine Forest, White Mountains)

(GPS: N37 23.140 W118 10.720)

As one goes north on the 395 HWY and passes the town of Big Pine there is a big sign on the right side of the road the says, "Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest". To get there you have to take the 168 HWY towards the east and then up the White Mountains to reach this area. I remember countless times seeing that sign every time I went by there wondering what that place was about. It was probably back in the early 2000's that I made my first trip here. I went back there a few years ago for some better pictures and video of the place.

This is the blog that I have been somewhat hesitant in doing. I've mentioned this place before in this blog at some point, and I've always wanted to say something about it, but how I wanted to do that was the issue. It is not an Eastern Sierra location, but it is close enough in the White Mountains further on the other side of the 395 HWY to the east. At the same time it is much more of a high desert mountain location with trees on it. In some ways, it is not as scenic looking as some of the other Eastern Sierra spots I have shown. The times I have been there it was very dry with no streams as one would have to expect.

The key is knowing what exists here, and that is what is important. But, how do I present it? Off and on I have struggled with this over the past year. Do I go purely educational on this one? Well, if I did that then I would make a long 30 minute boring video trying to explain everything. The place is well known enough that I suspect other people have done something like that and made it more interesting. Okay, so how about I go more suspenseful and entertaining for this one? You know, have some creepy music play as I show where we can be druids and live in harmony with these ancient living creatures that exist here. There was some thought of doing something like that and putting it out on Halloween or on New Year's Eve. After examining my video clips and pictures I thought that really wouldn't work. I would have to do a lot of editing to create some mystical look the place really hasn't had while I have been there. What happened on this one was I was in somewhat of a depressed mood, and I just told myself, "Let's do this one now and see what happens". I just started editing the clips together with some music, going over some of the booklets I have of this area, and putting it together. So the video ends up being a "bare minimum" educational video where I put together a few facts here and there. There are a few interesting scenic moments, and it helped that some clouds where hanging around in the distance to get some of that mystical feeling moments that music helps with.

Let's get to it...

Ancient Bristlecone Forest (1 of 25)

This is a close up of the bristlecones you can see on one of these trees. You should be able to see the bristles and the pinecones. One sees a lot of trees very much like this in the Eastern Sierra, but in this area one can find trees that have lived for thousands of years. The Ancient Bristlecone Forest ends up being the oldest known forest on the planet.

There are a few different groves to visit. A different one I have not been to is higher up on that takes more driving time to get to. This blog will deal with the popular Methuselah Grove that starts out at Schulman Grove Visitor Center. Edmund Schulman was the one who spent many years in the 1950's trying to determine the oldest trees by doing tests here.
Ancient Bristlecone Forest (4 of 25)
After depositing the fees necessary when I parked there I started the trail. The picture above is kind of typical of how the hike is.  You pass by a bunch of trees like this with an occasional sign number which means you need to get out the little booklet that have for you to read what it says about the location. I based the video on the most recent booklet for some of the facts in the video. I also have the much older booklet which is a lot different in presentation.
Ancient Bristlecone Forest (9 of 25)
The trails starts out at roughly 10,000 feet. You end up go up and down for an 800 foot elevation change over almost five miles. The hike is not difficult at all, but you are in an isolated spot with no water around. It is a good trail, but one should always be careful of not making any slips because you can start tumbling down the side of the mountain. Of course, a backpack with liquids should be with you during any hike like this. It really is a dry place not too far away from desert areas of Nevada and Death Valley.
Ancient Bristlecone Forest (12 of 25)
This time around was quite interesting because of the clouds being at this elevation. They did not feel like they were that far way. There were some nice scenic moments with them as I traveled around on this trail.
Ancient Bristlecone Forest (23 of 25)
As I made my way around on this loop trail hike, about half way around I finally got to the Methuselah Grove part of the hike. This is where all the oldest trees are. Some of the trees up to this point are hundreds of years old, but once you get here some of these trees go back thousands of years.

A couple of things I should point out. It is weird that trees live up in this high altitude place in a desert mountain location. You will notice the trees above are living on dolemite rocky soil. Typically, dolemite soil would be something very difficult to grow on, but the advantage is other types of plants do not grow on it. Also, the dolemite reflects the sun keeping the area a few degrees cooler for the trees that live here. One other factor that helps some of these trees is growing on the northern side of the mountain. That gives them less sunlight, but more water and snow during the winter season.
Ancient Bristlecone Forest (24 of 25)
Another factor that helps these trees is that many of the roots and branches go just enough under the soil or grow parallel to it. This allows them to get any water that may not go very deep.
Ancient Bristlecone Forest (22 of 25)
Some of the most interesting looking trees are the ones that have been sculpted by the environment over the centuries. I took a lot of pictures like this that you can see linked below on my Flickr account.

What happened is back in the 1950's Schulman found a tree in this grove that has been dated to roughly 4,700+ years of age. It is amazing to think there is a living thing here that dates back to before the birth of Christ, the Roman Empire, and Ancient Greece to basically when the earliest civilizations existed in Mesopotamia and Egypt. That tree is called "Methuselah" after oldest man written of in the Bible.

That is would I would have told you after my first trip, but it gets better. After many decades of referring to that tree as the oldest, in 2010 another tree here was dated over 5000+ years old making it the oldest tree here. Which gets a little strange because now you have an older tree than "Methuselah".

I guess I would say this is another area that I would summarize as "Survival of the Fittest". Where only the roughest trees have adapted to this area. They have the ability to live off limited resources, yet live so long. For that reason it is a very special place.

With all of that said, I am certainly not an expert on this place. Although I have a book I purchased many years back as well as the booklets about this place, a lot more could be said about it. If you are hardcore into trees like this then there is a lot of things you can find online about it. I'm just going to link a few things, but google is your friend on this one if you want more.

First, my YouTube video and other pictures I took on uploaded to Flickr:

Ancient Sentinels (YouTube Video)

Ancient Bristlecone Pine (White Mountains): all my pictures on Flickr are here.

A few links:

Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest (Wikipedia): check the footnotes for this article.

An PDF Article about Edward Schulman

USDA site: how to get there, fees, etc.

The music used from Incopetech.com in the video is called, "Ever Mindful".

Sunday, August 06, 2017

A Former Luftwaffe Pilot (and Some Planes)

I was going to do this blog two weeks ago about the same time as the Dunkirk movie and the blog about that Spitfire, but decided to wait. Part of the reason was that movie really does not show any German humans in it. I think that is one of the movies strengths since you never see the face of the enemy in that movie. It turns it into a horror survival story against invisible enemies. On the other hand, a movie like the classic Battle of Britain (1969) gives a respectable look at the enemy side.

Some months back I was able to visit the Palm Springs Air Museum to hear the story of a former Luftwaffe pilot. Harald Bauer was a teenager when he flying for the Luftwaffe near the end of the war. He flew mostly Fw-190s and then He-162 jets. He was eventually shot down in a He-162 by a P-51 as the 8th Air Force was bombing the base he was at.
Harald Bauer (#2)
He survived the crash and was captured. Since his mother was living in Germany and was an American, he was classified as an American at the end of the world. Eventually he got involved in journalism and came to the U.S. Then during the Korean War he flew for the U.S., but not as a fighter pilot. He flew a Lockheed Constellation near Alaska (I think). He currently lives in Atascadero, CA.

The He-162 jet:
He 162 1a (#3)
He explains further details of his life in the videos I'll link below. I was glad I got to see him in person and hear his story. As I've said before, we are nearing the end of the lives of those who participated in WW2 so if you have a chance to hear from one then do so. Where I am at WW2 pilots are rare, but even rarer are Luftwaffe pilots.
He 162 1a (#2)
Another look at the He-162 at the Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino, CA.

Not really related to Bauer's story, but since I am showing some German Luftwaffe planes I should probably mention BF 109E #3523:
BF 109E #3523 (#1)
Built in 1939, this was flown in the Battle of France and Battle of Britain as an E-1. Then it was upgraded to E-7 and sent to the eastern front. Wulf-Dietrich Widowitz flew it and was shot down during an escort mission by a hurricane. He made a perfect wheels up landing on the ice of frozen lake. The plane sank and was recovered in 2003. They intend to restore it at a later date.
BF 109E #3523 (#2)

Click here for more pictures I have taken of some of these German Luftwaffe planes.

Other links:

To hear Harald Bauer's story go to this YouTube link: Heinkel He 162 Jet Fighter Test Pilot

The Flying Heritage site has a good interview of him as well: Commander Harald Bauer

An article on the Bf 109 #3523 and its recovery.

This will probably be the last of my blogs dealing with airplanes for while. There is something I probably do sometime next year, but it is time to get to nature in the next blog. Up next time will be the blog, video, and pictures that I have put off and off for the past year or so, but will finally get to. It is something that I have wanted to do, but how to present it is difficult. Well, let's see if I can do it.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

High Sierra River Otters

So about four years ago I had an encounter with rivers otters in the High Sierra. I have not seen any since then until July 4, 2017 at 6:20 a.m. I was doing my morning walk and noticed down below some movement. Sure enough it was a mother and some babies:



What you see is all I got of them. Mother saw me and she and the rest took off. Due to the water level of the lake being much higher this year, it would have been really difficult to get down any closer to them from where I was. I tried to track them over the next ten minutes or so, but they are rather stealthy.

If you didn't see my previous video from four years ago then check it out since I got to spend more time with them in that video:

An Odder Thing

If you are more science inclined or curious as to why river otters are in the High Sierra then check out this science paper.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The "Star" of Dunkirk

Back on October 1, 2016 I was at the Planes of Fame museum in Chino, CA. A certain aircraft had just been taken apart and shipped there from on location at the Dunkirk filming. I took a bunch of pictures and video that I had intended to upload two nights ago when the movie came out. I realized that I wanted to visit the museum today for a presentation they were having so I just decided to take some new pictures and do a new video. It is better this way since I got to see the movie and how important this plane was in it.

I'll probably re-edit this blog at some point in the future to get all the links and history right for these aircraft that I am uploading pictures of. They all have their real histories, and I want to get that correct.

I thought the movie Dunkirk was really well done. As I mentioned last week and in the past with westerns, I don't mind watching movies that aren't intended to be historical documentaries. This was more based in creating an experience based on history. It was really intense, suspenseful, and action packed. One thing in the director's favor is he kept it within the two hour range which to me is a bonus. Sometimes I think movies are stretched out a little too long and tend to overkill. As I say in the video, this is probably the closest experience I ever want to have with a German Stucka dive bombing on me.

Here is the mock-up plane seen in the movie as it is right now. Notice the "R9612". That is not its real number of the plane it is based on, but was added for the movie from what I have read.

The Dunkirk Movie Spitfire #1 (Mk.Ia X2650)
From what I understand, the president of Planes of Fame, Steve Hinton, flew the main scenes you see Tom Hardy's character fly. Yes, another movie with Tom Hardy wanting to destroy planes with no survivors...bad humor...Bane as pilot....lol...;)
The Dunkirk Movie Spitfire #2 (Mk.Ia X2650)
In time they will fix that plane up, but in the meantime here is another Spitfire. A Supermarine Spitfire L.F. Mk.IXe
Supermarine “Spitfire L.F. Mk.IXe”

A few links to look at:

The "Star" of Dunkirk (YouTube)

Warbirds

The music taken from Incompetech.com for the video is called Procession of the King.