October 26, 2022

West Oakland Botany

A walking tour of the plant life under the freeways in west Oakland by a man with a non-California accent.

permalink | October 26, 2022 at 09:36 PM | Comments (0)

May 21, 2022

Mountain Lion M317

The track of a young male mountain lion since he was collared in March 2022.
Mountain lion track

News story here. He has managed to traverse the 5, 241 and 91 freeways! The news article says there are no female mountain lions in the area, as if humans have 100% perfect knowledge of the location of all mountain lions. I think what they mean to say is that we don't know of any female lions in the area, but the article suggests there are other males in the area. One wonders how and why there are so many male lions in the area if there isn't even one female?

UPDATE: M317 spotted in Newport Beach.

Mountain lion seen in Port Streets is captured

By City News Service and Hunter Lee

A mountain lion spotted roaming around the Port Streets neighborhood in Newport Beach, the same cat seen earlier this month in Laguna Beach, was captured on Friday [May 20, 2022]. The cougar was seen in the community near Andersen Elementary School on Friday afternoon, according to Newport Beach police.

The school was put on alert while authorities searched for the mountain lion, which authorities believed to be M317, a collared cat that was seen in Laguna Beach earlier this month and at an Irvine shopping center in late March. The cougar is one being tracked by a UC Davis research group.

On Friday evening, Tim Daly of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife confirmed the Newport Beach visitor was, in fact, M317.

“The lion appears to be healthy, and is currently being transported to nearest suitable habitat, in the Santa Ana Mountains,” Daly said.

Christy Labarthe, a Port Streets resident, said she was aware that a mountain lion was in the area after receiving several alerts from authorities. She moved her dogs indoors and kept her eye on the backyard.

Around 1 p.m., Labarthe noticed a tree rustling from something that was “definitely bigger than a squirrel.”

It was the mountain lion, she realized — a big one.

“It appeared to have blood near its leg, probably from a tranquilizer dart,” Labarthe said. “It was up and walking around my backyard, jumping on and off the (embankment) for awhile, before it finally started falling asleep.

“My dogs were barking the whole time,” she added.

Labarthe waited for authorities to arrive. Once they

did, they confirmed the lion had been shot with a dart, and after about an hour, the cougar was removed from her yard.

Drones were used to aid in the search, Daly said. And after sheltering in place, the Andersen students were safely picked up, said Annette Franco, a spokeswoman for the Newport- Mesa Unified School District.

Though M317 has been hanging around for at least a couple of months, officials believe the recent Coastal Fire in Laguna Beach may have pushed some wildlife from their natural habitats into urban areas.

Anyone seeing a mountain lion should stand tall and wave their arms above their head, make noise, act defiant and unafraid — and slowly back away.

permalink | May 21, 2022 at 09:43 AM | Comments (0)

May 15, 2022

That Was A Nice Slam!

Heard it coming. Felt it coming. And then it came. Most distinctive slam of an earthquake that I've ever felt. It didn't sound like I had any damage. It was small, but sharp. I'll get you the numbers as they become available.

It was in Long Canyon, within walking distance (a long walk). 4.27 miles (6.87 km) from me, measured on a direct line according to Google. Some boulders have moved.

USGS info. Currently estimated at 3.8. Noticeable.

permalink | May 15, 2022 at 11:20 PM | Comments (0)

February 11, 2022

Wolf Protections Restored

"A federal judge on Thursday restored protections for gray wolves in much of the country, reversing a decision by the Trump administration that stripped Endangered Species Act protections and exposed the animals to aggressive hunting in areas where they were nearly killed off years ago."

During the Trump administration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had taken gray wolves off the list of endangered species and given control back to states. In his ruling, White challenged the rationale for doing so, saying the agency didn’t rely on the best available science or fully address threats to wolves outside of their main populations.

permalink | February 11, 2022 at 07:28 AM | Comments (0)

January 27, 2022

Possible Factors In Long COVID

A study has been published in Cell that found four major factors that correlated with long COVID. Those factors are:

  • "the level of coronavirus RNA in the blood early in the infection, an indicator of viral load" [One assumes there is a correlation with a HIGH viral load],
  • "the presence of certain autoantibodies,"
  • "the reactivation of Epstein-Barr virus;"
  • and "Type 2 diabetes."

A Dr. Deeks pointed out the good news is that "each is actionable."

I don't pretend to be able to actually understand scientific papers, I did at least search the study itself for the word "vaccine" and found nothing relevant. I had wondered if there was any correlation with vaccination status. Very likely they started the study before the vaccines were available.

permalink | January 27, 2022 at 08:23 PM | Comments (0)

December 16, 2021

Lobster Rescue

They are called Leon.

permalink | December 16, 2021 at 08:33 PM | Comments (0)

December 8, 2021

COVID May Take Up Long-Term Residence In Fat Tissue

"'The bottom line is, "Oh my god, indeed, the virus can infect fat cells directly,"' said Dr. Philipp Scherer, a scientist who studies fat cells at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas." The study has not been peer-reviewed or published.

permalink | December 8, 2021 at 07:49 PM | Comments (0)

October 17, 2021

Lucy Visiting The Trojans

Yesterday NASA launched Lucy, a robotic explorer that will travel to the Trojans, arriving in 2027. This gives you about five years to refresh your knowledge of Lagrange points (every pair of bodies orbiting each other has five of them) and Trojans (two of the Lagrange points). When astronomers refer to The Trojans, they mean the ones at Jupiter because those are the most numerous and were the first to be identified.

Lucy will visit the "Greek camp" first (2027-28), then visit the "Trojan camp" in 2033.

permalink | October 17, 2021 at 08:19 AM | Comments (0)

October 14, 2021

Bezos Dises Shatner

permalink | October 14, 2021 at 01:30 PM | Comments (0)

August 28, 2021

Don't Call It Subsidence

A section of a black bean field in Minnesota dropped 25 feet, but no one calls it subsidence. At the end of the video report included at that link the reporter says it's a rotational slump

permalink | August 28, 2021 at 07:55 PM | Comments (0)

July 7, 2021

More Beavers

In Placer County, beavers were re-introduced to a dried-out floodplain. In three years, and at a cost of only $58,000, the beavers restored 60 acres of floodplain. Estimated costs for doing it the "traditional" way with heavy machinery were one- to two-million dollars for a project that would have taken a decade.

permalink | July 7, 2021 at 09:08 AM | Comments (0)

June 9, 2021


Anyone familiar with the federal government should know that the Earth's orbit falls under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Reclamation, not the Forest Service! Sheesh!

permalink | June 9, 2021 at 10:12 AM | Comments (0)

May 24, 2021

Lunar Eclipse Wednesday Morning

This info comes from the Launch Alert mailing list.

If the sky is clear, observers across the Pacific will be treated to a total lunar eclipse on May 26. For the West Coast of North America, the display occurs during early morning and dawn. The key times are as follows:

PDT         Event
-----     ----------------------
02:45   Partial eclipse begins

04:11   Totality begins

04:19   Maximum eclipse

04:27   Totality ends

05:53   Partial eclipse ends

permalink | May 24, 2021 at 08:48 PM | Comments (0)

April 6, 2021


A man corrals a swarm of bees, apparently without protection or smoke.

permalink | April 6, 2021 at 05:48 PM | Comments (0)

March 28, 2021

Wolf OR-93 Reaches Fresno

Farther south than any wolf in "modern times," they say, and along the way he managed to cross route 99.

permalink | March 28, 2021 at 09:04 AM | Comments (0)

March 25, 2021

More About The Mission Creek Fault

L.A.'s biggest quake threat on overlooked part of San Andreas - Los Angeles Times Amina Khan

Scientists have pinpointed a long-overlooked portion of the southern San Andreas fault that they say could pose the most significant earthquake risk for the Greater Los Angeles area — and it’s about 80 years overdue for release.

But there could be a silver lining. If their analysis is right, experts say it’s possible that when a long-predicted and much more devastating earthquake hits, it may not do quite as much damage to the region as some scientists previously feared.

“That’s a significant reduction in risk for L.A. if this is true,” said longtime seismologist Lucy Jones, who was not involved in the study published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances.

The San Andreas fault is a roughly 800-mile fracture that runs much of the length of California and is capable of producing a much-feared, massive temblor known simply as “the Big One.”

The San Andreas also serves as a major marker of the boundary between the Pacific and North American plates. As the plates move past one another, so do the two sides of the fault.

But the fault itself is caught by friction, and as the two sides move, strain builds up until it’s eventually released through earthquakes. The southern San Andreas carries roughly half the strain resulting from the plates’ motion, as much as 25 millimeters (about one inch) per year.

Not every part of the fault carries that strain equally, though. In Southern California, the San Andreas fault system is made up of many smaller “strands,” and it’s difficult for earthquake researchers to identify which parts of the fault system are most at risk of rupture.

Case in point: the bouquet of fault strands — Garnet Hill, Banning and Mission Creek — that crosses the Coachella Valley. Scientists long thought much of the southern San Andreas fault’s slip occurred along the Banning strand and the Garnet Hill strand; the Mission Creek strand, they said, didn’t take much of the strain at all.

But the new findings turn that idea on its head.

Kimberly Blisniuk, an earthquake geologist at San Jose State University, went looking for evidence that earthquakes had caused landforms to move across the surface. She found them at Pushawalla Canyon, a site along the Mission Creek strand in the Little San Bernardino Mountains.

There, right next to the water-carved canyon, she saw a series of three ancient “beheaded channels” — long depressions in the desert that looked like they were once part of the original canyon before earthquakes shoved them aside.

Blisniuk walked the area to get a better look at these telltale signs of ancient rupture. In each of the channels, she and her team dated the ages of rocks and soil.

The oldest channel, which lay about 2 kilometers (more than a mile) away from the current canyon, was roughly 80,000 to 95,000 years old. The second, about 1.3 kilometers (less than a mile) away, was about 70,000 years old; and the third beheaded channel, about 0.7 kilometer (less than half a mile) away, was about 25,000 years old.

Based on these three landmarks, the researchers calculated that the average slip rate for the Mission Creek strand was about 21.6 millimeters (less than an inch) per year. At that rate, they realized, it accounted for the vast majority of the strain along the southern San Andreas fault.

By contrast, they calculated that the Banning strand had a slip rate of just 2.5 millimeters per year.

“I was really excited,” said Blisniuk, who said it took years to produce the data needed to make a convincing case that the ancient channels did indeed once connect to Pushawalla Canyon.

“The San Andreas fault is one of the best studied faults in the world, and there’s still so much we can do” to better understand it, she said.

Because the southern San Andreas fault is likely to experience ground-rupturing earthquakes at an average rate of one every 215 years or so — and because the last such earth-shaker in the southernmost section took place in 1726 — we’re about 80 years overdue, Blisniuk said.

About six to nine meters of elastic strain have likely accumulated along the fault since the last one, the scientists said — which means that when it finally releases, the ground will likely shift roughly 20 to 30 feet. Whether it takes a single quake, or many of them, to go that distance remains to be seen, Blisniuk said.

The discovery “looks like it could be a landmark study,” said Thomas Heaton, an emeritus professor of engineering seismology at Caltech who was not involved in the research.

Lucy Jones is now retired from the U.S. Geological Survey. But in 2008, she led a group of more than 300 scientists, engineers and other experts to study the potential consequences of the Big One in detail. The result was the ShakeOut Earthquake Scenario, which predicted that a 7.8 magnitude earthquake on the San Andreas fault could result in more than 1,800 deaths, 50,000 injuries and $200 billion in damage and other losses.

The new findings could alter that scenario and make it less grim, Jones said. Here’s why: The Big One can only be triggered by a massive rupture on a long stretch of the San Andreas fault, something on the order of 200 miles. If that rupture ended up traveling along the Banning strand — as the ShakeOut model assumed — its east-west tilt would send energy into the San Bernardino Valley, the San Gabriel Valley and finally into the Los Angeles Basin.

But if the rupture were to follow the Mission Creek strand, its more northwesterly orientation would divert some of that energy away from the L.A. Basin, sparing it some of the devastation.

Sarah Minson, a research geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Northern California, stressed that the new findings did not change the region’s total seismic hazard — just the way it’s distributed.

“I personally would love to see this sort of [analysis] applied to more areas,” she said.

Ultimately, Jones said, “This is a piece in an ongoing debate and not yet completely resolved — probably won’t be, until we have the earthquake.”

Heaton agreed.

“It would almost be a surprise to me as a scientist if the real earthquake, when it happens, plays out in a way that’s really close to what we imagined,” he said. “The earth is always surprising us — it’s always reminding us that we need some humility in this business.”

permalink | March 25, 2021 at 09:17 AM | Comments (0)

March 24, 2021

8 More Millimeters

While [the Mission Creek strand of the san Andreas fault] was long believed to have a slip rate of around 14 millimeters per year, the paper, published in Science Advances, argues that it's actually around 22 millimeters..

Part Of The San Andreas Fault Is Moving Way Faster Than We Previously Thought

Updated March 24, 2021 11:17 AM Published March 24, 2021 11:15 AM

As if the San Andreas fault wasn't concerning enough, research just released today shows that a nearby portion of it is moving much faster than scientists previously thought.

It's called the Mission Creek strand and it runs from around Indio, through Desert Hot Springs and into the San Bernardino Mountains.

While it was long believed to have a slip rate of around 14 millimeters per year, the paper, published in Science Advances, argues that it's actually around 22 millimeters.

"This particular strand of the San Andreas fault has been interpreted to not be very active," said Kimberly Blisniuk, a geochronologist at San Jose State University and lead author on the study. "It's actually very active and is the fastest slipping fault for the San Andreas in Southern California. Therefore it has the highest likelihood of a large magnitude earthquake to occur on it in the future."

A few millimeters might not sound like a lot but when we're talking about massive tectonic plates pushing up against each other, the stress adds up.

"Higher slip rates on faults mean more risk," said Morgan Page, a geophysicist at the U.S. Geological Survey in Pasadena and one of the developers of the Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast. Page was not associated with the recent study. "It means stress is accumulating faster on that fault and you would need basically either more earthquakes or larger earthquakes over centuries to relieve that stress."

All of which means that this particular strand on the San Andreas has a greater risk than was previously understood. How much of an additional risk? It needs to be assessed.

Any infrastructure in that area, like water or gas lines which run over the fault itself, will need to be looked at with a critical eye, given that offsets of as much as 30 feet could occur in the event of a major quake.

"Their study is in a region where the San Andreas fault is quite complex," said Sally McGill, a geology professor at Cal State San Bernardino. "This is a substantial step in improving our understanding of how the Southern San Andreas fault works."

Regardless of what happens on the Mission Creek strand, we know that sizable earthquakes on the San Andreas are possible.

Like... at any moment.

So now is always a good time to get your earthquake kit ready.

permalink | March 24, 2021 at 01:14 PM | Comments (0)

March 5, 2021

Lunar Sodium

Every new moon the earth is bathed in a stream of sodium atoms carried from the moon by the solar wind. This was first identified in the late 1990s using an all-sky-imaging camera operated by Boston University researchers.

permalink | March 5, 2021 at 07:02 AM | Comments (0)

May 15, 2018

Photos of the Library of Congress

Library of Congress (4807)
The ceiling in the grand hall where one enters the Jefferson building.

Library of Congress (1916)

Library of Congress (1915)
A bit of the ceiling.

Library of Congress (1913)

Jefferson's Library (1917)
Thomas Jefferson's library.

Baseball - Library of Congress (4814)
Naked baseball players on the ceiling of the Library of Congress.
I've got another photo showing football players.

Library of Congress (4827)
Down in the tunnels connecting the Jefferson and Madison (and I'm sure other) buildings.

Library of Congress (4825)
Some of the floor.

Library of Congress floor tiles (1912)
More floor.

Madison Memorial building (8120)
Columns at the entrance to the Madison Memorial Building.

Madison Memorial Building (5943)

Click here to see all 22 of my photos from the Library of Congress.

permalink | May 15, 2018 at 09:04 PM | Comments (0)

February 14, 2018

Match Sphere

Scientists at Los Alamos Laboratory had a betting pool for Trinity, the first atomic bomb test. One of the betting options was that the bomb would work, but would ignite the atmosphere, wiping out all life on Earth. This video allows you visualize what that might look like from the moon.

permalink | February 14, 2018 at 09:44 AM | Comments (0)