Vulture Peak on a Cloudy Day

Vulture Peak on a Cloudy Day

I haven’t posted a picture of this unique mountain peak for over a year. At that time, the weather conditions were clear and not with clouds as in this photo. There was a chance of showers yesterday when we were at the dog park, but they never materialized.

Some interesting facts about this mountain range from Wikipedia:

The Vulture Mountains are about 29-mi long, and east of center, about 13 mi wide; the range is somewhat crescent shaped, mainly trending east-west, and narrowing westwards. The northeast is followed by the course of a southeast stretch of the Hassayampa River; the river turns due-south west of Morristown, on US 60, making the east terminus of the range about 7 mi wide, at the rivers floodplain. The Hassayampa enters the north of the Hassayampa Plain, so a small river canyon region lies at the Vulture Mountain’s northeast, with the Wickenburg Mountains northeast, and the Hieroglyphic Mountains east.

The highpoint of the range is Vulture Peak, 3,658 feet (1,115 m)), at the center east of the range. Another major peak anchors the west region of the range, Black Butte, at 3,612 feet (1,101 m)).

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Banks and Bankers

bucks.pngAfter we sold the property in Kalifornistan, we were relieved at last from the jumbo mortgage and the ludicrous L. A. County property taxes, not to mention the cost of insurance, utilities and upkeep. All of a sudden, there was a place in the budget for putting some money away, rather than allocating funds to the aforementioned money sinks. That was the good news.

The bad news is that when the mortgage balance went to zero and our combined checking and savings account were less than a specific (and large) minimum, the bank where we held the mortgage began charging us about a dollar a day in “fees.” It seems that when we did some refinancing a few years ago to provide the funds for building the Arizona home, “they” required us to sign up for this fancy bank product which provided brokerage services, bonus interest rates, bigger discounts, and fee waivers for many common banking services, none of which we needed.

Damsel and I are 15 and 33 year members of two credit unions whose memberships were available as benefits from previous employers. Both have competitive interest rates for the savings accounts and the checking accounts are free of charge. Plus, our only credit card is issued from one of the CUs (we don’t use it much, but it’s good to have).

So, I fired the bank today. It was the obvious thing for us to do. I electronically transferred the funds out of the bank to our joint savings where we have our retirement accounts. I went to the bank branch office here in town and asked them to close the accounts, which they grudgingly did.

While having a branch here in town was convenient for us to deposit checks, etc., we now can electronically deposit our checks to either credit union via scanner or smartphone. That is even more convenient than visiting the local branch. I think we did the right thing in firing the commercial bank.

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Blue and Green Phalaenopsis Orchids


While we were shopping yesterday at the supermarket, I noticed that they had orchids in the flower concession. I had never seen blue nor green phalaenopsis orchids before, but there they were. I did some research and found that the blue orchids are really white orchids injected with blue dye.

From BlueOrchid.org:

During the growth process, the stalk of a white phalaenopsis orchid is injected with a blue dye solution. The intervention is performed in an environment that keeps the infection risk for the plant at a minimum. The blue color is absorbed by the orchid and creates a blue flower.

I assume the same is true for the green orchids. Click on the image to alternate between photos I took of blue and green orchids.

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Autumn Daisies

Fall Daisies

This is a photo I took of some daisies eight years ago yesterday. The photo was archived on the terabyte drive that we use for backup. I found it by accident when looking for Veteran’s Day photos. I liked the fall colors and always love flowers in general. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Veterans Day 2014

armed-forces.jpg

There are many veterans who deserve credit for keeping our nation safe and free by putting themselves in harm’s way. Not all such “harm’s way” scenarios require combat or the battlefield. Sailors who work on the dangerous decks of aircraft carriers, Soldiers who prepare ordinance and test weaponry, Marines who carry out firefighting missions, Airmen who crew patrol and transport aircraft and Guardsmen who patrol our coasts in aircraft and on the sea.

Special thanks go out to combat veterans as well as those who have risked their lives in training and support roles. God bless them all.

(This is a reprise of our Veterans Day 2009 post - still applicable today.)

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U.S. Marine Corps 216th Birthday

sign72b.jpgA hearty Happy Birthday and job well done to the men and women that serve or have served in the United States Marine Corps. We will never forget the Few and the Proud who share the legacy of the Corps. God bless the USMC.

On November 10, 1798, President John Adams signed the Act establishing the United States Marine Corps. The 13th Commandant of the Marine Corps, General John A. Lejeune, issued Marine Corps Order Number 47, Series 1921, directing that on November 10th of every year, in honor of the Corps’ birthday, the Order’s summary of the history, mission and tradition of the Corps be read to each and every command.

Although I was in the Navy, I really liked this spoof of the “Never mind the dog” window sign that features the USMC Logo and serves as a warning to those that may want to think twice before entering the premises.

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ISS Pass at Dusk

ISS Pass at Dusk

I’m just getting around to posting about the International Space Station (ISS) passing over the Arizona High Desert last week. It was a pretty good pass, the ISS being visible almost from the west horizon to the southeast horizon. The maximum elevation above the horizon for this pass was 78°.

We use the on-line SpaceWeather.com satellite flybys tracker to predict when a suitable satellite pass will occur. We use the filter function to display only the ISS, since those are usually the most dramatic flyovers.

The remarkable thing about the photo is that I candidly snapped the flyover using my less-than-optimum pocket camera, a Canon PowerShot A1400, and got this relatively good image of the ISS as it passed high over the parapets of our little house. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Office Upgrade II

New Chairs and Mats

I spent a couple of hours putting the new office chairs together today and they are quite nice. Our old office chairs were almost 13 years old and had seen better days, although the gas piston air cushions were still functional. The surfaces were worn and the padding was pretty flat (Damsel used a patio chair cushion on hers to soften it up).

The finished products above are (left) my new chair on a new roll around pad and Damsel’s new chair and pad. Click on the image to enlarge.

We use these chairs not only to work at the computers, but sit in them to watch movies on the DVD/TV in the office. We’re looking forward to this evening’s movie in the new chairs. I wonder if we wll be able to stay awake with all the comfort . . . ;)

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Office Upgrade

New ChairWhen we moved to Arizona, we brought only a few items of furniture from the California house. Damsel had designs on furnishing the new house with all new items. That was true for the bedroom-turned-office as well. We bought two new desks and a short filing cabinet for computers and peripherals storage. However, we did not buy new office chairs; the old ones were brought for that purpose.

Now, the original office furniture for the old house had been there for a while. I checked our financial records and found that the office furniture - including the chairs - had been purchased in December of 2001. That’s just under thirteen years ago - time to get some new chairs. Damsel and I both went down to the (greater Phoenix Area) West Valley today and purchased two new chairs similar to the one shown in the graphic.

We also bought two chair pads that sit on the floor in front of the desks for the chairs to roll around on. We had been using area carpets for this, but the plastic pads seemed to be more durable and easier to clean and maintain.

This minor office upgrade is just the beginning. Damsel and I have decided to redecorate the great room and dining area with all new furnishings. The old tables, table lamps and sofas will be donated to charity (as will be the old office chairs) and replaced with new items in the near future.

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Adios AR 2192 (For Now)

AR 2192

I went out to the courtyard to photograph the last image of the great sunspot of 2014, AR 2192 before it rotates out of Earth view. According to the article below, there is a possibility of the spot to return to the Earth-facing side of the solar disk in a couple of weeks. Click on the image to enlarge.

From SpaceWeather.com:

SUPER-SUNSPOT PREPARES TO DEPART: The biggest sunspot in nearly 25 years is about to leave the solar disk.

. . .

As AR2192 approaches the sun’s horizon, it is no longer facing Earth. However, the odds of an Earth-directed radiation storm are higher than ever. The reason is, the western limb of the sun is well-connected to Earth. Solar magnetic fields springing out of that region spiral back to our planet. If a sunspot passing through the area explodes, those spiralling magnetic fields can funnel energetic particles in our direction.

In only a few days, the behemoth sunspot will begin a 2-week transit of the far side of the sun, carried around by the sun’s 27-day rotation. However, that doesn’t mean we’ve seen the last of this magnificent active region. Big sunspots typically persist for two or three solar rotations before they decay. After it leaves, AR2192 will return in November.

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