Archive for November, 2014

Winter Cactus Flower

Winter Cactus Flower

I bought a potted seasonal cactus at the supermarket earlier this month. The flowers have been opening on it ever since then.

This variety is frequently called Thanksgiving or Christmas Cactus since the plant flowers bloom during our year-end holidays. See the Wikipedia reference to Schlumbergera.

I took this photo yesterday in our outdoor patio. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Happy Thanksgiving


Happy Thanksgiving to you and to yours!

CB&D

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Thanksgiving Snark

I like the way Ramirez thinks . . .

Snark

Regardless of the riots, illegal alien infestation and other things wrong in our country and on the planet, may the Thanksgiving holiday find you all grateful for the good things. Happy Thanksgiving from both of us!

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Real Time Lightning Monitor

Lightning Monitor

I ran across this interesting site last week while surfing. Blitzortung is a near real-time display of recent lightning strikes worldwide. The image above was from yesterday, but I just checked the site a few minutes ago and there is a line of strikes across the southeast US as I write this.

The color of the individual strike pixels is time-dependent; white indicates very recent strikes (less than 20 minutes), while dark red indicates oldest (up to two hours old). As you watch the display, each strike is surrounded by an expanding circle for a second or two. The green radial lines each extend to the location of a detector in the network reporting the recent strike and are also only displayed a short time.

I recall from my piloting days a device called a “storm scope” which also reported azimuth and distance information for lightning strikes. It was much less expensive than airborne radar and was effective for guiding aircraft around the more intense storms. Blitzortung is the first on-line display of this nature that I have found.

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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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