Saturday, October 31, 2020

Waiting For The Election

The last presidential election (in 2016) ended with a very bad result.  We are told, as citizens, that if we don't like our elected representatives then it is our right to replace them at the next election.  We've had to wait four long seemingly endless years for that opportunity and now it's right around the corner.  Just a few days away.

The waiting has been torturous.  To measure it, right after the 2016 election I installed a countdown clock in the right column of Mixed Meters.  It listed the number of years, months and days until we the people could turn Donald Trump into a loser.  Wouldn't that be nice.

As the election date loomed closer and closer, it has become clear that the counter widget is a few days off.  Hey, this is just a blog.  At Mixed Meters close is good enough.
Two days until the presidential election
Almost every day this year I've been obsessively reading news articles about the election.  If you're in the U.S. I think you know what those articles are about:
  • Trump wants to suppress the vote, 
  • Trump told a bunch of lies, 
  • Trump has a chance of winning, 
  • Trump might steal the election, 
  • Trump will ruin the country even more in a second term.
By this time next week maybe we'll know who the winner is.  I sure hope we will.  The waiting might be over after four endless years.  I find it hard to stop thinking about it.

Today I needed an escape.  So I took my camera outside into our backyard and driveway and shot some pictures of whatever I happened to find out there.  It was sunny and warm, but not too sunny and not too warm.  Just right.

To start, here are some close-ups of a fence.

Turn this thingee to hold the gate in the fence open

Two shades of green and fence hardware

Though a hole in the fence post.

We built this fence 13 years ago when Chowderhead came to live with us.  It has deteriorated quite a bit.  Time does that.  

I took pictures of Leslie's carnivorous plants.

A carnivorous pitcher plant

Two pitcher plants

A fly living dangerously on a pitcher plant

This fly actually flew into the pitcher plant while I watched it.  Pitcher plants are designed so flies can't escape from them.  It flew down about an inch before it realized the danger it was in.  "Holy shit," I heard it scream, "I better get the fuck out of this dangerous place." and it flew away.  Maybe it was actually talking about politics in the United States in the year 2020.

I took some pictures of plants which don't eat insects.

Yellow and white flowers

California Aster

The curly cactus

The last one - the curly cactus - is one of my favorites among all of Leslie's plants.

And I took some selfies.  You'd have done the same, I bet.  I kept seeing my reflection in windows.  I look pretty unhappy in the first one because I was thinking about Donald Trump.  It's hard not to think about Donald Trump these days.  Not thinking about him was the whole idea behind this post.  I'm not doing too well. 

The lines on my forehead are reflections from something inside the house - possibly our microwave.  Also, can you say 'double chin'?  I thought so.

David Ocker - angry selfie

David Ocker - laughing selfie

David Ocker - selfie 1

David Ocker - selfie 2

The last three selfies also show more pitcher plants.   Leslie has a lot of them.

I even took one picture of Leslie looking out at me through a window.  Yes, I got her permission before I uploaded it.  Tomorrow is our 28th wedding anniversary.  Love you, honey.

Leslie peering out through the kitchen window

There is one more shot.  Our two ceramic backyard icons, another happily married couple, Irving (he's on the left) and Happy.  We bought them in 2004 in Los Olivos so they've been together for 16 years.  Irving appeared in Mixed Meters previously here.

Irving and Happy - garden ceramic heads

Only a couple days to go before the election.  Irving and Happy can't vote.  I hope you voted.  If not, do it now.  Right now.

If Donald Trump loses I will reset the counter to show the number of days until the inauguration on January 20, 2021.  After that Mixed Meters may not need a counter.  That will make me happy.

If the devil is victorious and Donald Trump gets re-elected, I will reset the counter until election day in 2024.  And we can all just cross our fingers that the nation survives until then.  Good luck, America.  We're gonna need it.

Here are a links to political news sites which I have found useful this year:

Friday, May 15, 2020

Arboretum With Peacocks

This post is about a short walk in a park.

Peacock feathers at the LA Arboretum

In this case the park is the Los Angeles County Arboretum in Arcadia California - Arcadia is one city east of Pasadena - a place where many pea fowl live and squawk.

Eucalyptus bark at the LA Arboretum

Remarkably the Arboretum has been open to visitors in this time of the Coronavirus.  Leslie and I took an hour-long stroll there several days ago.  In this time of shelter in place we were happy to get out to somewhere beautiful.

Matilija Poppy bloom at the LA Arboretum

On the same day we visited, the L.A.Times ran this article about how and why the Arboretum has stayed open during the pandemic.  (Quick answer: wide roads.) 

Dusty Miller bloom at the LA Arboretum

While we were there I took a few pictures.  Landscapes aren't really my thing.  (Click on these shots and somehow they get bigger.)

Spotted Gum Tree at the LA Arboretum

This tree-trunk face looks to have a third eye.  Or maybe it's a doctor wearing a head mirror.

Queensland Bottletree at the LA Arboretum - looks like a face to me

I also shot some video.  Later I added music.  The music is adapted from two old 30-Second Spots: Druella's Four-part Gossip Reel (which I composed Oct. 4, 2004) and Nothing to Wear (composed Oct. 5, 2004).   I'll let you guess which is which:

Arboretum with Peacocks by David Ocker © 2020 - 96 seconds

Leslie called it March of the Peacocks

Previous Los Angeles Arboretum-related MM posts:
Squawk! (a video about the noise peacocks make)
Water With Ducks (another avian-based video - wait for the Wagner quote)

Stay off the narrow pathways at the LA Arboretum

Monday, September 16, 2019

Cactus Flower

Today is the fourteenth anniversary of Mixed Meters.  Feeble yay.

To celebrate, here's a picture of a cactus flower.

Now, a quiz: How is a cactus flower like this blog?

Answer: a cactus doesn't often get new flowers and this blog doesn't often get new posts.

My very first post in 2005 addressed the issue of infrequent posting.  Here's the whole thing:

In which David fails to find an interesting first comment

Every new adventure begins with the words "Why am I doing this?" It would be so much easier not to bother trying new things.

If you, future person reading these words, discover that this blog hasn't changed in months . . . years . . . then you'll know I couldn't find a good answer for the question.

My philosophy will be . . . keep it short.

Fascinating, huh?

And here's another quiz question for you, O Future-Person-reading-these-words: Why am I doing this? 

Please write your answers on a postcard and send them to the comment section.  The winner receives a four year stay at the Trump property of their choice, no expenses paid.

Finally . . .
In celebration of Mixed Meters' august September anniversary I created a video from my cactus flower picture.

The video is entitled Cactus Flower.  The picture above is the only visual component.  If you watch very closely you might notice some slight changes as time passes.

I suggest watching at the largest size and highest resolution available to you.

Cactus Flower © 2019 David Ocker - 190 seconds.

If you enjoyed the music, you might also like these pieces.

Quiz question #3:  How were the visual transformations done?  Answer: Deep Dream Generator.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019


This post is to celebrate our excellent kumquat harvest.

An uncertain number of years ago, maybe 25 or so, Leslie bought me a kumquat tree because she had discovered that I liked them.  For roughly half those years Kumquat Tree lived in a big pot.   Then we replanted it in the ground next to our driveway.

The tree went through some difficult years until we discovered that it needs lots of water.  More water did the trick and we started getting a lot more fruit.  This last winter was very wet rain-wise in Pasadena.  Our kumquat harvest was exemplary.  This picture shows about 40 pounds worth, about 75% of the total haul.

The English name "kumquat" derives from the Cantonese gām-gwāt 金橘, literally meaning "golden orange" or "golden tangerine".  Kumquats are apparently symbols of good luck in China.  I was told by our friend Richard that the name can be translated as "orange fortune".  Or something.

Are you wondering what we did with all those little kumquats?  Leslie took them to her friend and colleague Regina who supervised the production of kumquat/orange marmalade.  Here's the after picture.

Good stuff.  Thanks Regina.

I created a video showing the piles of these little bursts of citrus, often in extreme closeup, before they met their jellied fate.  You'll see Leslie's hands doing the washing.

TRIGGER WARNING: if you find that exposure to bright orange color disturbs you, please use caution.

Kumquats © 2019 David Ocker - 176 seconds.  (I suggest that you use hi-definition mode if you can.)

Here's a link to my previous MM post concerning Kumquat Martinis.  (I drink my martinis considerably less dry these days.)

Here's a link to a post at the blog The Indigenous Bartender with a recipe for Kumquat Marmalade Martinis.  Gonna try it once I get some Triple Sec.

And here's an LA Times article about making candied kumquats for cocktails.  (I couldn't try this because we used up all our kumquats, so I'm posting the link as a reminder during our next kumquat harvest.)

Friday, January 04, 2019

Pet Pictures

Back during the B.E. posting an occasional picture of your pet was essential.  "What's the B.E.?" I hear you ask.  It was "The Blog Era."

The long gone, killed off by Social Media.  S.M. makes posting pictures of your pets much easier.  Actually, anything you could do on a blog is easier with S.M.  You just need to sell your soul by sharing your personal data.  And also spend time looking at ads.

Chowderhead the dog behind the gate

Today, in a 'glorious' homage to the B.E., I present more than a few pictures of our pets.  (Click them to see enlargements.)  We will begin with Chowderhead.

Chowderhead the dog on wet driveway

Chowderhead is our dog.  He's old for a big dog.  We got him in 2007 when we figured he was about one year old.  That makes him twelve now.  (Read a little about his origin story here.)

Chowderhead the dog and hexagonal tile floor

More gray hairs.  Moves more slowly.  Deterioration of hearing.  Sleeps a lot more.  Overweight.  Those things all describe me.  Also the dog.  Still, we're both doing pretty well for our ages.  We both have health insurance.

Chowderhead the dog on floor with rear leg extended

Chowderhead did have a recent medical issue, a hematoma in his left ear.  We took him to the vet  who said he had to wear the collar for a week.  At the end of the week he had totally reduced the collar to plastic shards.

Chowderhead the dog wearing his ruff, or collar

Chowderhead hates the vet.  He hates the vet so much he growls a lot and, when the doctors try to touch him, he vibrates with fear like a cellphone.  They make him wear a muzzle when he visits lest he bite.  Otherwise leatherwear is not really his thing.

Chowderhead the dog wearing a leather muzzle

His thing is sleeping in the backyard.  He is king of the backyard.

Chowderhead the dog sleeping on the grass

Most certainly Chowderhead's most remarkable appendage is his tail.  Here's a little video of 'The Tail' in action.

Mixed Meters' one remaining reader will remember that we also have three cats.  They rarely gather for a group photo unless food is involved.

Our three cats, clockwise from top: Doctor Pyewacket, Spackle Puss and Crackle Pop

The two gray and white cats are twins.  Spackle Puss is the smaller one; she has white stripes on the back of her ears.  Her brother, Crackle Pop, has a tabby stripe tail and a white spot on his back.  Like the dog, they're about twelve years old.  Here's their origin story.

2 cats on stairs: Spackle Puss (L) and Crackle Pop (R)

We'll start with pictures of Crackle.  There isn't much to say about Crackle.

Crackle Pop, the cat

Crackle isn't very friendly to strangers.  He hides when there are visitors.  Otherwise he's a great cat who likes getting petted and doesn't often make a mess.  He likes to climb on my lap but he can never get comfortable up there.

Crackle Pop, the cat, wants up on my lap

In the following picture you can see a cow poster hanging in my office.  It was given to me by a composer named John Adams.  It's the cover of his Gnarly Buttons album.  He autographed it for me, accidentally finishing the tail end of his signature on the wall itself.  Then the signature faded.  However the mark on the wall remains.  Later he returned and signed the poster again, twice, in indelible ink.

Crackle Pop, the cat, in front of John Adams' Gnarly Buttons album poster

While Donald Trump's dislike of dogs is well known, I've never read anything about his feeling towards felines.  You can search almost five million words he has spoken at this website.  I couldn't find a single reference to 'cat' or 'kitty' or 'feline'.  'Pussy' gets a few hits.

Crackle Pop, the cat, on the stairs

The second pussy on our list is named Spackle.  Spell check does not know the word Spackle; it underlines every occurrence as a possible misspelling.  There's much more to tell you about Spackle than about her brother.

Spackle Puss, the cat, on my desk

Spackle has an incredibly sharp tongue.  We know this because she likes to lick people's bare skin.  When she really gets into her licking it can be very painful for the human.  We don't know why she does this.

Spackle Puss, the cat, yawning

Another annoying thing is that she drools a lot.  After she sits on your lap you'll find a damp spot on your leg.  Yuch.

Spackle Puss, the cat, wishing she were outside hunting birds

Spackle is an extremely vocal cat.  While underfoot in the kitchen she repeats - in cat language -  "Give me some of that." over and over.  It's gotten to the point that she'll beg anytime a human walks into the kitchen.  This happens whether food is present or not.  Then she runs excitedly from one side of the room to the other.  And she runs back.  She does these little cat sprints over and over again.

Spackle Puss, the cat, looking cute on the back of a chair

When dinner time finally rolls around she eats voraciously.  And yet somehow she is still a super thin kitty, just skin and bones.  Her skinniness is actually worrying.  At least we've gotten her to stop vomiting her dinner in unexpected places.

Spackle Puss, the cat, on the stairs

Although Chowderhead and Crackle and Spackle are all approximately the same chronological age, they are different ages relative to their species.  I've seen charts which suggest that Chowder, compared to human lifespan, is in his 'late seventies'.  The gray cats, compared to humans, are, oh, about mid-sixties.  By coincidence, I'm in my mid-sixties as well.

Spackle Puss, the cat, on oval table

Pets don't have any idea how old they are.  I think I might enjoy not knowing how old I am.  Unfortunately we humans have calendars to keep track of these things.  For an excellent description of the invention of the calendar I suggest you listen to The Adventures of Greggery Peccary by Frank Zappa.

Spackle Puss, the cat, on the back of a chair

By any measure the youngest member of our household is Doctor Pyewacket, the black kitten which Leslie found in the bushes near our house.  Pyewacket will be four years old this spring.  This cat on the fence post is not Doctor Pyewacket.

A feral black cat on a fence

That fence cat is probably one of Pye's distant cousins, a member of the same feral clowder of cats to which we think Pyewacket traces his ancestry.  HERE is the real Doctor Pyewacket sitting on the floor.    (Yeah, I had to look up the word 'clowder'.)

Doctor Pyewacket, the cat, on the floor

The good doctor recently had serious health issues in the form of blocked urinary tract.  He nearly died.  After multiple visits to the the kitty hospital his condition mysteriously improved just about the time the vet suggested surgically removing his penis.

Doctor Pyewacket, the cat, in a blue medical collar

Penectomies are never the preferred option for billions of male humans worldwide.  I, for one, wince just hearing the suggestion, even when it isn't me being considered as the patient.  The subject of penises has come up several times during Mixed Meters' varied history.  Read all about them here.

Doctor Pyewacket, the cat, with shaved legs

We presume that Pyewacket spent the first few weeks of his life out in the wilds of suburban Pasasdena.  Since then we've confined him indoors - safely away from predatory coyotes and unable to predate on cute little birdies.  Spackle and Crackle have never been outside a single day in their entire lives.  Or, for that matter, even for a few minutes.  (Yeah, predate is not really a real word.)

Doctor Pyewacket, the cat, looking out window with lace curtains and outside bushes

Poor Doctor Pyewacket is pretty much at the bottom of the feline pecking order in our little cat trio.  Maybe it should be called "scratching order"?  In any case, old skinny Spackle can send young virile Pyewacket running off with one swipe of her paw.

Doctor Pyewacket, the cat, on a table looking up

Shooting pictures of Pyewacket is difficult.  All black cats are hard to photograph.  Or maybe not.  Maybe I'm just not a great photographer.  Maybe shooting pictures of black cats is really easy.  Or maybe I don't have good enough equipment.  Yes, that's it.  That must be the problem - I have been given inadequate tools.

Doctor Pyewacket, the cat, looking intently out a window

Blaming inadequate results on something or someone else is becoming common in the U.S. these days.  If good stuff happens, sure, that was us doing that.  We'll happily take credit for the good stuff.  When bad stuff hits the fan - find someone to blame.  In fact, maybe "Blame Them" should replace "e pluribus unum" as our national motto.  It's shorter and easier to remember.

Doctor Pyewacket, the cat, shown as a shadow behind a curtain

Recently a complete stranger came up to me and said she thought that I looked like Marlon Brando.  She asked whether I was told that often.  Looking at this picture of Doctor Pyewacket holding on to my shoulder for dear life, I think I look more like Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell.  Now there's someone who deserves a lot of blame for America's current impasses.

Doctor Pyewacket, the cat, looking terrified, on the shoulder of a Mitch McConnell impersonator

I will say that Mitch does have more hair than I do.  I wonder if he owns a cat.

Mitch McConnell, a turtle impersonator and majority leader of the US Senate, who is an even bigger threat to American Democracy than Donald Fucking Tr-mp.  A very dangerous and evil person