June 18, 2017

Okay, who turned on the sun? -or- "Never Happy"


Things are starting to get out of hand here in northern California.

Oh! We're having a heatwave, a tropical heatwave
The temperature's rising, it isn't surprising,
She certainly can can-can
She started a heatwave by letting her seat wave,
In such a way that the customers say
That she certainly can can-can

Gee, gee! Her anatomy makes the mercury rise to 93!
Having a heatwave, a tropical heatwave, the way that she moves,
That thermometer proves that she certainly can...
(What's your name honey? Pablo).Certainly can..
(Chico, Miguelito, Pablo, Chico, Miguelito)...oh, can-can.

I don't know about anybody else but my life has come down to one concept: FLEE! FLEE TO THE OCEAN!


[Of course, the above bitching brings to mind this observation from all the way back in 2005:]

Never Happy


When I lived in Manhattan, I never needed to know when winter officially arrived. I could count on one particular coworker to announce it. The official date changed every year, but he never failed to signify it by dropping by my office first thing in the morning, a Starbucks commuting coffee mug in his hand, and saying, "Boy, oh, boy, do you believe how cold it is? Damn!"

Having just peeled off watch cap, ear muffs, scarf, gloves, and a ten pound top coat, I could -- while watching the sleet moving horizontally across the windows -- say with some conviction, "Yes, as a matter of fact, I do believe how cold it is."

With this exchange, the first of a daily ritual that would be repeated between us for months without variation, I knew that winter had been declared open.

In New York City, there are really only two seasons -- "Winter" and "Street Repair." Winter was cold and inconvenient. "Street Repair" was hot and inconvenient. My coworker wasn't happy with either. Yet he never failed to announce the beginning of "Road Work." The official date changed every year, but he never failed to signify it by dropping by my office first thing in the morning, his Starbucks commuting coffee mug in his hand, and saying, "Boy, oh, boy, do you believe how hot it is? Damn!"

He was a living, breathing, mind-numbing example of why the number two fantasy of people who work in offices is the ruthless slaughter of one or more of their coworkers. (The number one fantasy? I don't have to tell you. You know. And you should be ashamed of yourself.)

When I moved to southern California, this was one little daily irritation I was happy to leave behind along with "Winter" and "Road Work." Instead, I got only one season, "Traffic," but since you have to go to "Traffic" in order to be in that was okay. I no longer needed to kill my coworker, so that was a win.

In the hills above Laguna, however, I discovered another two seasons -- "No birds" and "Birds." That's otherwise known as "Not Spring" and "Spring." When the birds leave sometime around the Christmas holidays, you don't really notice it. At least I didn't until I passed a neighbor, a Starbucks commuting coffee mug in his hand, on his daily constitutional and he said, "Boy, oh, boy, do you believe how quiet it is? Damn! Sure wish the birds would come back."

He walked on but I stopped and turned slowly to look at him. Brief memories of fantasized mayhem washed over my mind until I shook my head and thought, "No. Can't be. Just your imagination," and went on my way.

But, of course, what couldn't be, was. Over the course of the next few months, I'd pass this neighbor on our overlapping walks and he'd invariably say, just to be neighborly, "Boy, oh, boy, do you believe how quiet it is? Damn! Sure wish the birds would come back."

In time, of course, the birds, as birds will, did come back. I noticed it one day when, just at dawn, a bird woke me with a Bachesque series of trills and calls. A day or so later, when passing my neighbor on the hill, he said, "Boy, oh, boy, did you hear that bird this morning? Terrific!"

But nature is not decorative no matter how much we might wish it would be. Where you have one bird, you get two. When you have two, you get ten. And ten is just the prelude to a hundred or even more, as Alfred Hitchcock knew.

About a month after the first return of the birds, I was awakened by a cacophony of bird calls hooting and screeching at the first crack of light. I shrugged it off and went outside to get the paper from the drive way. My bird-loving neighbor lives diagonally across the intersection. I picked up the paper to go inside when I heard the sliding door to his deck open. I looked across and saw him in his underwear stagger sleepily out into the rising and falling cloud of colorful bird calls, wipe the sleep from his sad eyes, and shout out into the pristine morning, "Shut... UP!"

Even in paradise it seems that some people are never really happy. Must be the traffic.

Posted by gerardvanderleun at June 18, 2017 10:09 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

This year the crows are back, after having been *gone* for the past 2 years. I'm talking about the BIG ones. Maybe 16-18" tall, walk around with their arms behind their backs (not unlike Groucho Marx) like they are assessing everything. And talkin that shit. Loudly. VERY loudly. Easily the loudest birds in the forest, drowning out even the pileateds.

They are alert, watching each others backs, and they will see you before you see them. They keep their distance from you, at least 50 feet or more. Get closer than that and they take flight. Fraidy cats.

Crows is curious creatures, maybe an indication of higher intelligence. Oops. Did I just infer they could be human? OMG, you know what that means!

All black. Body. Beak. Legs. Eyes. Black to the core. And picky assed eaters. The other birds anxiously eat from the smorgasboard that is delivered daily but the crows are better'n that, so they think. I've seen a crow pick up a sunflower seed and throw it back down in disgust then run it's yap for a bit then come back and pick it up again and head of to a high limb somewhere to enjoy that tasty snack.

6am to 8am is their *staying connected* time around here. Fortunately we are early risers so we are not unduly bothered by their group tirades. I find them humorous and enjoy watching them from afar. If I stay perfectly still on the porch they get closer for better viewing and they are magnificent creatures.

They have a purpose. The crows do the jobs others don't want to do. If a squirrel gets splattered on the road the crows are right there disposing of it. Nice. Then I don't have to shovel scoop it up and dig a hole. They peck at it til it's skin and bones, then the rest just magically disappears. Do they carry it into the woods? I've never seen a squirrel carcass in the woods. Do the crows eat the fur and bones? Don't know.

As I said, the crows are the BIG variety. If they had a mind to, I imagine a group of 10 or more could most certainly take out a grown person. The beaks and claws look quite diabolical. At a full speed low angle dive I believe a 2" black chisel beak would leave a deep permanent scar and maybe a trip to the ER. 10 of them punctures in rapid succession and you may succumb.

Then in a bit they will have picked you clean. And maybe we'll find out what happens to the carcasses.....

Posted by: ghostsniper at June 19, 2017 4:21 AM

Here in w Texas we have summer and the rest of the year. It's now summer. Last week it was above 105 almost every day. It lasts until late Sept. Then it's beautiful.

Not 6,000' CO mountain beautiful but you do 4 months in the 105-115 range and Oct & on sure is nice.

Posted by: MMinLamesa at June 19, 2017 4:33 AM

Here in the Sonoran Desert,we get Boat-Tailed Grackles. They've been migrating north from Mexico for 40 yrs or so. The males are 15-17" stem to stern,shiny iridescent black with round golden eyes. They like to strut around the lawn,pecking at bugs etc. When they spot a drab brown female,the mating dance begins:feathers fluffed out to double body size,head bobbing up & down,mouth open wide shrieking "HEY! Look at ME" as he hops around her. They like to roost in flocks in tall trees and greet the morning with loud shrieks & whistles,makes quite the cacophony.

As for the lazy,crazy days of summer,well,here in sunny AZ we're about to enjoy 118 degrees Fahrenheit today,120 Tuesday. That oughta keep the grackles quiet,at least in the afternoon.

Posted by: Nori at June 19, 2017 7:20 AM

ghosniper, there's a cure for those bastards.

.22 LR ammo with a sighted-in rifle and a shot to the head.

Off a few and the rest will do clean-up duty.

Do it often enough (2-3 days seems to be the magic number) and they will find new turf to terrorize.

Plus you get free range practice.

Posted by: Fuel Filter at June 19, 2017 7:46 AM

@Nori, but, its a dry heat. (I hate those birds, they steal nests)

Posted by: Leslie at June 19, 2017 4:58 PM

We Eastern Canadians are similar to the New Yorkers in our constant observations on weather, particularly winter weather. I once read a newspaper piece that was so Canadian, I wish I'd cut it out and saved it. The writer described car drives at night in the winter, where everyone looked out for those lighted boards on buildings that display the current time and temperature. There would be much discussion over the variations in these readouts. It was generally agreed that the coldest reading had to be the correct one, and anything warmer was probably caused by some proximity to electric lights.

And the best thing was to have a visitor from California over in the winter. He'd be regaled with daily pronouncements about how cold it was outside, especially if there was a windchill; "It's so cold outside, your EYEBALLS will freeze!" And the hapless American would reply, "You must be crazy to live here!" and the Canadians would just smile with satisfaction.

Posted by: Dr. Mabuse at June 19, 2017 7:07 PM

@Leslie "Its a dry heat."

I'm here to tell you that that line works all the way to 105° or so. After that, it is hot....real hot. Today at the airport a mile from my house, they reported that the temp. topped out at 114.8°, and at dinner tonight the thermometer in Mrs. Azlib's car showed 120° over an asphalt parking lot. The forecast for tomorrow will beat today's record: 118°.

Mind you, I'm not complaining. The heat keeps out the riff-raff.

Posted by: azlibertarian at June 19, 2017 8:57 PM

Oh, I meant to add....I know I shouldn't, but I hate those grackles.

Posted by: azlibertarian at June 19, 2017 8:59 PM

I know, @Azlibertairian, I was in the thick of it. It tapped out at 119 at my house. I get all my work done before 8am. It is actually quite pleasant about 5:30 am.

Posted by: Leslie at June 20, 2017 6:51 AM

My Dad hated the grackles too. Anytime he would go outside to grill,several of them would swoop down to do their poop dance on his spotless patio-the rest of the flock whistling & catcalling from the trees. He called AZ Game & Fish to see if they had a solution to pest birds and was advised,no,you can't shoot them. But for $600.00 they would send out an ornithologist to offer less drastic ideas.
The look on his face as he related this to me remains a cherished memory.

Grackles belong in that "Field Guide to Dumb Birds" Gerard posted awhile back. Call 'em F**k-Tailed Snarkles.

Posted by: Nori at June 20, 2017 6:56 AM

Today in Phoenix, it's supposed to be 120 degrees. Which means it well over 120 degrees on the tarmac at Sky Harbor airport. Certain jets will not be able to get sufficient lift from the thin overheated air to take off, so many flights between 3 and 6 will be cancelled. That means it will be too hot to use the airport today

I'll be spending the afternoon biting my fingernails as I monitor the 30 minute cooling intervals and wondering if my HVAC is going to die on me. And you folks are complaining about heat? Pikers

Posted by: Callmelennie at June 20, 2017 9:06 AM

Yeah, I saw this on the thermometer of my 18 year-old truck (which probably wasn't all that accurate even when it was new), but I saw 122° this afternoon. It was way hot.

Posted by: azlibertarian at June 20, 2017 7:53 PM
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