Archive for Arizona

Clear Skies over the Southwest US

GOES East Map Image

A couple of weeks ago (10/22/2019), I captured this image from the GOES East weather satellite in geosynchronous orbit above the western hemisphere. GOES East showed this area of the southwestern US which I cropped to highlight Arizona which is centered, more or less, in the image. The image showed the area mostly clear of clouds at that time, hence the terrain features are mostly visible.

Late October and early November in our part of Arizona has the in-between hot summer and cooler winter temperatures which are still warm (80-90 degree highs) and we call “Second Spring” because of the flowers we have open this time of year. As I write this post, the early November temperatures are forecast for highs in mid-80s and lows in upper 40s or lower 50s. Soon, however, the temperatures will start to drop and we will be back in flannel and long pants.

Anyhow, back to the satellite image; you can clearly see the Mogollon Rim which is defined by the darker forested area at its southern side that extends from the inside the New Mexico border on the east and arcs toward the north across the northeastern part of the state and ends in northern Yavapai county in north central Arizona. The two darker forested areas continuing north are the Kaibab National Forest. The lighter gap between the southern Kaibab dark area and the northern dark area is where the Grand Canyon is located.

Other interesting features visible in the image can also be seen; over in New Mexico toward the right lower side of the image you can see the White Sands Missile Test area where WW2 Atomic Bombs were tested. On the left side, in California, you can see the Salton Sea. Finally, at the bottom left corner, the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California) in Mexico is visible.

I look at the satellite images on a regular basis to help me identify our weather patterns. I use them in addition to radar and other tools to get an insight on our weather. You may click on the image to enlarge.

Looking at the enlarged image, you can identify Roosevelt Lake which is the flying eagle-shaped dark area below the Mogollon Forested area. West of that is Lake Pleasant, an oval-shaped dark spot. Lake Pleasant is just about forty miles east of our place.

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Arizona Rated #1 For Seven Years In A Row

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Email from Arizona Citizens Defense League:

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Arizona rated best state for gun owners - again!

For the SEVENTH consecutive year Guns and Ammo magazine has rated Arizona as the #1 state for gun owners. The ratings are published in their November 2019 issue. Click here to view a copy of the ratings.

States were measured by the following criteria:

  • Right To Carry
  • Treatment of “Black Rifles” (ARs, AKs, etc.)
  • Treatment of NFA firearms
  • Castle Doctrine
  • Miscellaneous issues like preemption statutes, laws and rules that fall outside of the other rated areas, as well as the availability of places to shoot

Arizona’s seventh year #1 rating is primarily because of what AzCDL has accomplished. Prior to AzCDL’s involvement, Arizona’s CCW system was onerous and discouraged applications. Permits were only good for 4 years and required training, testing and additional fingerprinting to renew. Court cases narrowed the interpretation of open carry to a point where the only way to safely openly carry your firearm and avoid arrest was by having a CCW permit. In self-defense situations, the burden of proof was on YOU to prove your innocence – after you admitted to the “crime.” Firearms preemption was Balkanized. Castle doctrine and “no duty to retreat” laws were weak.

AzCDL was created by a handful of activists in 2005 who didn’t like the status quo. By 2010 we achieved Constitutional Carry. CCW permits are now optional and the process to obtain a permit is more realistic. Arizona permits are recognized in the majority of states. Arizona is also one of the few states that recognize all permits from all states – again thanks to AzCDL.

Because of AzCDL’s efforts, you are now “innocent until proven guilty” when defending yourself. Firearms preemption has been strengthened. We were even successful in getting the Arizona Constitution changed to protect law-abiding citizens from law suits when they defend themselves. Visit our Accomplishments and Why AzCDL web pages to learn more about what AzCDL has accomplished.

We are proud that AzCDL’s efforts, with the support of our members, have again garnered this high rating for Arizona from such a prestigious publication. However, from our perspective, there is a lot more that needs to be done to make Arizona truly a free state when it comes to honoring your constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. With your continued support we can achieve that goal.

End of AzCDL email.

For reference, here are the top five states followed by the bottom five:

1. Arizona
2. Idaho
3. Alaska
4. Kansas
5. Oklahoma

47. California
48. Hawaii
49. New Jersey
50. Massachusetts
51. New York *

* We know there aren’t 51 states, but for the purposes of the survey, the District of Columbia (ranked #46) is included as it’s own entity.

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Queen of the Night Cactus Fruit

Queen of the Night FruitNow that the hottest days of Summer are over, we find ourselves in our so-called fifth season, “Second Spring.” This is when we get another wave of cactus flowers opening, blossoms on our rosemary shrubs and ripening fruit from summer blooms.

Last summer, several of our cactus flowers opened. Among them the Queen of the Night (peniocereus greggii) rescue cactus in our courtyard which had two flowers open. Now, those two flower stalks have become cactus fruit as shown at the right. After pollination overnight, the flowers wither and eventually fall off, leaving the flower stems which enlarge to become the cactus fruit.

More about P- Gregii from The University of Arizona - namely cultivation of the cactii:

Peniocereus greggii can be propagated from either seed or short stem cuttings. Once established this species is known to have large tuberous roots that are similar to potatoes. Generally this plant species likes to grow around or under desert ironwood, creosote bushes, and other desert shrubs that can provide shade, support and concealment. This cacti species only flowers once a year at night (usually in June or July) and for the rest of the year it appears to be dead. The following morning at sunrise, the flower dies. Unlike other cacti, P. greggii is not self-fertile and has widely separated individuals as a result. These flowers are cross-pollinated by hawk moths. P. greggi also typically has a slow growth rate, uses little water and does well in full sun, or partially shady environments. These cacti are also hardy plants, suffering damage at temperatures below 10° F.

Be sure to click on the links in the first paragraph above to see a couple of the Damsel’s excellent photos in the Cap’n Bob Image Viewer.

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Milestone - One Decade of Retirement!

block-10.pngToday marks the tenth year milestone since I began my retirement from the Aerospace Mill for which I worked many years. I must say that those daily routines of getting up out of bed, commuting to the office, participating in whatever the plan of the day might have been, finishing up for the day, commuting back home and attending to home matters were comfortable for me right up until the last day. Now, however, at a decade down the road, I must also state that I don’t miss the old ways a bit.

During the last decade before retirement (starting 20 years ago), Damsel and I spent a lot of time planning for the retirement we were to have. It turned out that by the grace of God and our own foresight, we managed to get our basic plan together. Thankfully, my employer had good a retirement plan and an incentivized 401(k) savings plan, both of which we participated in. Upon retirement, we exercised our choice to roll the 401(k) into a managed payout mutual fund designed just for retirees. We opted for the retirement pension payout as well. Bottom line: we’re doing OK.

Sure, there were still some unknowns and other events post-retirement that would shape our destiny, but the foundation for our sustenance was set by the time we were out of there. We weren’t prepared to lose our California house to flooding, for example, but our insurance payout and a fortunate find of a “flipper” to take that property off of our hands made it a sweet departure from home ownership in California. Otherwise, we would have had to do the fixing up and “flipping” ourselves for which we weren’t exactly prepared. Between that example and a couple of other post-retirement glitches, we have managed to stay afloat.

Pardon all the metaphors, but it seems that we’re set for smooth sailing for the next decade of our retirement, God willing.

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Emergence of the Waxing Crescent

Waxing Crescent at 3%

After yesterday’s lunar new moon phase, we knew that a pencil thin crescent moon might be visible after sunset and before moonset today. Damsel and I went out to the courtyard to witness the thin crescent just at the end of civil twilight this evening. We could see it just above the hill to the west of us which obscures the western horizon from our view, so the timing was important.

After viewing the moon with Damsel, I went back into the house and got my camera to see if I could capture the image posted above. My Canon SL1, like other cameras of it’s class, has a programmed setting which automatically chooses most of the camera settings. To get the photo, it chose F 5.6, 1/400 sec. exposure and ISO 6400. I used a 300 mm telephoto lens. I didn’t have time to get the tripod and set it and the camera up before the moon would set, so I propped myself and the camera up against one of the posts holding up the porch roof.

Click on the image to enlarge.

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Irrigation Problems - Solved

Back of the RV Drive

What a difference a couple of days make! We were bemoaning the problems we had with a busted irrigation system just a couple of days ago and today the problem is non-existent. Our landscape contractor found the time to come here and fix our woes this week instead of what we thought would be a delay of unknown length. They quickly diagnosed the problems, made the changes and this evening, all is working again.

Of course, the fixes weren’t all as simple as I make them sound in the first paragraph. They actually spent considerable time cleaning up the area behind the RV drive where our “Rosemary Farm” is growing - or maybe overgrowing. In the composite image above, you can see the after cleanup of the back area - I could look in the photo archives to find a before picture, but I’m too lazy this evening. ;)

I forget the exact number of one gallon rosemary shrubs they originally planted back there, but it was over fifty and under a hundred. Each one with a watering tube of its own from the irrigation feed line planted on the hill just above the shrubs. After the cleanup as shown, the crew installed an all new main line and “spaghetti” feeders for each shrub. This time, the feeders are short and they extended the larger diameter feed line for each group of two or three shrubs. We tested it this afternoon and it looks like everybody is getting the water they need in our arid climate.

The first thing they fixed (yesterday) was the leak shown in our previous post about the problem. They also replaced one of two electrically-controlled valves that activate the two main feeder lines according to the program set up in the controller. Both the leak and the valve malfunction contributed to the excessive water usage we have been experiencing.

We are still in the process of doing some other work with the landscapers; there is another area we want to have irrigated where we acquired a nice ocotillo after the fact. There is also some overdue rock and cactus garden maintenance they are willing to do while they are available. We should be in pretty good shape after they’re done with that and won’t need to do any of that for ourselves until after the weather cools down a bit.

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Irrigation Problems

Subterranean Leak

Since May or June, we have noticed an increase in water consumption on the monthly bill from the Town. At first, I thought it was because we had filled the spa for the summer, but then the increased consumption continued. In July, I found that the circuit breaker to the water system had tripped after having some of the shrubs appear to wither. I got that fixed and then the increased consumption resumed.

Yesterday, I finally contacted the landscapers that installed the irrigation system here. Together, the foreman and I discovered that a continuous water flow was occurring in an unknown location around the property. We also discovered a flow (pictured above) that ran during the active time for the irrigation to flow. Both problems, the one we can see and another somewhere stop when we cut off the main irrigation valve.

After discussing the problem with the landscaper and probable solutions, it would seem we’re in for a complete overhaul and replacement of much of the system. Chronically, in the desert, systems that use PVC tubing seem to need replacement at eight-to-ten year intervals, which is exactly how old the system is.

So, for the time being, we’re going to have to water the shrubs and trees manually since the irrigation valve is closed pending fixing things. Our landscaper has a number of other jobs ahead of us and it will be a week to a month before we can get back to normal.

For reference, the leak pictured above (the one we can see) is located between the ocotillo and the courtyard wall in front of the walkway to the courtyard gate. The irrigation lines and all are controlled from near the corner of the garage. Click on either image to enlarge.

Front Walkway

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