Sunrise 11/1/17

This is what I saw on my way to work yesterday morning.    Unfortunately, the day went downhill from there.

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Buddies.

A rare moment between Sheldon and BabyCat, who usually avoid each other.   They’re enjoying their afternoon siesta.

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Daylilies.

Daylilies growing in my garden.  Photos were taken just before sunset.

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Sunset and dragonfly.

Two pictures taken from my yard at sunset, and about a half hour after the sun went down (transition from civil to nautical twilight). My new phone takes so much better pictures than my old one, yay!

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Close-up of a Dragonfly (my daughter took these this afternoon):

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Earth Day 2017 — March for Science

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In these days of dangerous lies called alternative facts and facts touted by our leaders as fake news,  the celebration of Earth Day has never seemed more important.  All over the nation today, people in cities big and small gathered to defend science and scientific research.  Scientific knowledge and education is important to keep our water and air clean, our food healthy and safe, and keep our young people educated instead of indoctrinated in ignorance.

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The organizations that sponsored our event.

In one important sense, the Trump presidency is the best thing that could happen to our country, because it’s forcing people to wake up and finally take a stand for the things that really matter.   I doubt there would be this level of activity had Hillary won the election.   People would remain stuck in their apathy and cynicism.

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It’s encouraging that so many cities had such a big turnout for these Marches for Science, including my own.   I live in a small city (a blue city in a red state), but it seemed like there were thousands of people attending (though some were probably just there to watch the goings-on).

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Our March for Science started at one end of town (where I picked up my tee shirt I’d ordered ahead of time) and wound up on the other, in a park in the center of the city, where we’d be seen and heard.    I enjoyed watching people’s reactions, most who seemed friendly to the cause.    Many people carried signs, though I didn’t — but as you can see, I enjoyed taking pictures of the signs, most which were pretty creative.  We chanted and someone banged a drum while we marched to the park.

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When we arrived at the park, loudspeakers were playing three rock songs related to science:  Major Tom by David Bowie, Rocket Man by Elton John, and She Blinded Me With Science by Thomas Dolby.   Some of the attendees were dancing to the music.   After about 20 minutes of listening to music, the organizer of the event — a 17 year old high school boy named Luke Shealy — gave a short but inspiring speech and introduced some other speakers.   They were all good, but one — a Latino man who is also an astrophysicist — was so passionate he moved many people to tears.

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Young Luke Shealy, the organizer of our March.   The tee shirt I purchased is exactly like his.

After the speeches, some local musicians played for awhile, and I went to the various tables and picked up literature and a couple of bumper stickers.    Next Saturday I’ll be attending another rally I just found out about today addressing climate change.  I might make a sign this time!

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Pictures: 4/8/17

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Seagulls all facing the sunset.  You should have heard the din they made!

 

I haven’t had time to write much, so I’ll just share the photos I took yesterday and caption them.   We had a wonderful day.  It was a little too cold to swim, but we waded in the shallow water on the beach, spent some time relaxing in the hot tub, went back to the beach at sunset where I took most of these photos, and then went to a party at my son’s apartment where we met some of his friends.   It was a fun day!

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I found this shrub interesting.  Notice the fall colors on some of the leaves.  I have no idea what it is.

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Looking back on the beach just before sunset.

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A romantic picture of my daughter and her friend as the sun sets over the Gulf.

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I don’t know what these are exactly but since they were at the top of the beach, they appear to be the stumps of some kind of shrubs where the tides have come in and cut them off.

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Another look at the stumps.  I think they’re fascinating.

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So moody!  I love this.

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Seagulls at sunset.  They were sure noisy!

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Rally for ACA (Obamacare), Asheville, NC

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This event, which was really an outdoor Town Hall meeting, focused on the right to affordable or better yet, single payer healthcare and the importance of not repealing Obamacare, since the ACA was an important step in that direction — and now it’s under threat.

I arrived early, so early there were only a few people there before me.  The day was cooler than it has been, but clear as a bell, as you can see in the photos.  It was fun taking pictures of all the different sights I saw.  Some of the protest signs were really creative.

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I apologize — the tops of her signs got cut off but I think her shirt is a hoot.

I would say probably about 400 people attended, and maybe a few more than that.   Most of the people attending were older folks — some older than me (Medicare age), which makes sense since older people are the most likely to have medical issues and the most at risk should they lose their healthcare.   There were some young families there too though, and a couple of the speakers were quite young.

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I was surprised how many people brought their dogs, and one woman, wearing a “pink pussy hat” had dressed up her little dog in an adorable miniature version of the hat she wore.   The sign she had made was pretty funny too.

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Not everyone there was a Democrat. There were some independents, and even a few stray Republicans, who agree that ACA should not be repealed, like the sign of the lady shown below. When it comes to affordable healthcare, party really doesn’t matter. Some actually understand that.

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Some of the signs were quite funny.  Here are a couple.

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There were four speakers.  One speaker’s story brought tears to my eyes.  She talked about her son, who was born in 1974. Doctors urged her to have an abortion because he had some genetic abnormalities but she refused.   Well, the condition he had left him extremely vulnerable to certain forms of cancer, especially colon cancer.   In 2008, just before Obama was elected, when he was just 34, he had to be rushed to the emergency room.  He hadn’t been seeing doctors regularly  because they didn’t have the money and he could not get health insurance because of his pre-existing condition.  He was too sick to work enough hours to get company sponsored health insurance so he never got the surgeries and other treatments that had been recommended.   So he just did without.

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One of the young volunteers.

On the day he was rushed to the ER, some tests were run, and it was found he had developed inoperable colon cancer. He died just before Christmas in 2008, just after Obama was elected, but before Obamacare was a reality.  It was too late for him.

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The woman, who was now in tears, concluded her story by saying that no politician who says “No” to the ACA or who wants to repeal it has the right to call themselves pro-life.  Life doesn’t stop at the end of the birth canal.    Being pro-life means caring for people of ALL ages — and making sure everyone has affordable health care. No exceptions.

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These are the kind of tragic personal stories that used to happen on a regular basis before the ACA was passed.  People dying prematurely and unnecessarily, and sometimes suffering horribly — just because they couldn’t get health insurance and weren’t wealthy enough to pay for treatments out of pocket.    And now our “dear leader” wants to roll back not only that but is also threatening social security, Medicaid, Medicare, and even Veteran’s benefits.   Can you imagine how horrible things would be if they were to succeed in taking all that away?   We can’t allow that.

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I took lots of pictures — the rest are below this post. I didn’t have a sign this time, but next time I will make sure I do.  It was a good experience, and was very peaceful. In spite of the serious issue being addressed, it was a lot of fun too.

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On my way out, there was a vendor selling related merchandise, such as T-shirts and buttons.   The proceeds go to the Indivisible movement, which co-sponsored this event.   These are my purchases (I’ll  be wearing these at the next event I attend — and carrying a sign too).  The button in the middle was free — it was given to me when I signed up for emails.

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The rest of the photos:

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Sunrise: 1/12/17

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Early winter sunrise.

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This is what greeted me this morning on my way to work!  Life can’t be all bad!

Soon I will start feeling better and get some relief from my severe SAD.   The winter solstice was two days ago (or is it three?) so the days are already getting longer.  I’ll start feeling the effects late next month.

Autumn’s last gasp: day trip on the Parkway.

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Looking up toward Craggy Dome, 6105 ft.

Down here in the southern Appalachians, the trees still have some color (a few are even still mostly green!)  I’m also happy to say that once October came, the trees seemed to be more colorful than they have been in the past several years.   Perhaps this was due to the very rainy July and August, followed by a very dry September.   It’s also been unseasonably warm (though not hot).  So I actually found myself appreciating Fall more this year.

This is my second drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway since fall started, and I’m happy to say the weather this time was much more pleasant than the last time.   This time I decided to drive north on the Parkway (last time we drove south, to Mount Pisgah),  with the intention of making it to the Virginia border.

But I got a very late start (it was almost 1:00 when I started out) and drove as far as I could to leave myself enough time to drive back before it got too dark.   I made it as far as the Blowing Rock/Boone area , which is about 120 miles north from where I live.

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The parkway begins to climb when you enter the Black Mountains, on its way to Mount Mitchell, the highest peak on the East Coast.   I chewed gum to relieve the popping in my ears.  As you climb, the trees become shorter and scrubbier, almost like shrubs.  At that high an elevation, that’s as high as deciduous trees can grow.  Their short and slightly twisted stature helps them conserve energy and protects them from the high winds.  At that high elevation, the air is colder and the trees were completely winter-bare–except that many of these trees are sporting clusters of bright red  berries!    Craggy Gardens, several miles south of Mount Mitchell, is filled with wild evergreen rhododendrons and all those attractive red-berried small trees.

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I had the radio on while I drove, and kept switching stations.   I settled on a country station that was playing this song about driving on backroads so I left it on and sang along while driving.

As you drive farther, you can see the rather sharp delineation (around 5,500 feet) where the conifers and fir trees (taiga zone) begin to take over from the last stunted deciduous trees.   That high up, the climate is too cold for even deciduous trees to survive.   At the tops of the peaks of the Black Mountain range, there are nothing but dark conifers, which gives the mountains the black appearance that inspired their name.    The starkness of the landscape this time of year gives it a primordial feel and you are stuck by just how ancient these mountains are (they are the oldest mountain range in the world: millions of years ago, they were as high as the Sierras).

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Once you pass through the Blacks, the road descends and your ears start to  pop again.  For about 30 miles the landscape is pretty, but not that exciting.  There are a few spectacular views from the various outlooks, where people stop to take pictures or take a break from driving.   The deciduous trees took over again, but this far north, I noticed they were almost completely bare and did not show the color the trees farther south did.    I realized that even though I’d only driven about 70 or 80 miles by this point, I’d probably entered a more northerly “hardiness” zone.   The landscape had a decidedly more “northern” look even though I was still in North Carolina (and would be for some time, since I live very close to the South Carolina border).

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I drove about another 50 miles and passed through another mountain range almost as high and impressive as the Blacks with a more rugged appearance (Linville Gorge Wilderness).  Grandfather Mountain is here,  just outside of Marion, and I remembered my son went on an Outward Bound expedition here as his 8th grade school trip and how much that experience seemed to change and mature him.   By this point I was picking up a rock station out of Winston-Salem, so I left that on for awhile.   I also found another station–an oldies station that plays only music from the 50s and 60s!  (I didn’t think those existed anymore!)

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I kept driving, and the landscape leveled out again.   I passed through areas where you could actually see private homes and farms from off the Parkway (closer to where I live, the Parkway’s surrounded by the Pisgah National Forest, so you cannot see private homes or property from the road).   It looked like winter here, even though the temperature wasn’t that cold.   When I reached the Blowing Rock/Boone area, I decided it was time to turn around and go back.  It was already close to 3:30 and since I have such terrible night vision and knew it would be getting dark by 6 (we set the clocks back tonight, folks) that I could go no further.   My bladder was about to burst!  I stopped back at Craggy Gardens to pee, but had to use their Port-a-Potty because the visitor center was closed.

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I arrived home just after sunset.   I love driving on the Parkway; it’s always so relaxing and spiritually uplifting, no matter what time of year I go.