Thursday, November 29, 2007

down and up

My HDD camcorder arrived today and it never ceases to amaze me how easy things are. I've just been around technology so long it's second nature, and everything is designed for an IQ of 90 anyway. None of this -- setting up the camera, shooting video, uploading it to the laptop, editing out the unnecessary crap, and finally uploading it to YouTube -- has taken any cogitation.

Mr P eats crow

Which is a lot better than yesterday. Near midnight last night I took myself to the local hospital. I've had bouts of gut cramps a few times before, but it usually lasts 3 or 4 hours. Seven hours was just too much -- already I was extra tired from staying up late reading, and had had pretty hectic workday -- and there's always that worry that it's not just the usual thing. Plus I was having chills and sweats, which adds to the seriousness.

So I gave pee and blood, they gave me saline and morphine substitute and a warm blanket (mmm nice), and I dozed on and off. That morphine was something pretty good, it gives an untroubling sort of numbness. Apparently my white blood cell count was up slightly and that worried them, so around 4 am I got to drink some orange flavored barium and got a CT scan. After a few more hours sleep, the pain was gone and they sent me home at 7 am, where I went back to sleep for another 5 hours.

The hospital called back today and suggested I *might* have diverticulitis. I don't think I do. It doesn't happen all that often (once every 4 or 5 years) so I wouldn't call it chronic.

Monday, November 26, 2007

ulyssian lament

Now it's the big things only once in a while instead the little things are here such as how the weather's turning cold though winter is obviously on its way by the calendar over here in California you don't really notice since I've seen rain on Christmas day only once in the past ten years that and the way the house heat clicks on at night even though it's set quite low the cold is what tells you time is running and passing and stretching out time that's one of the little things and another is how I was driving home today and saw the odometer was at fifty-five thousand yet I had never really noticed it had passed fifty because it was forty-six or forty-eight the last time I really looked which means I've driven seven or nine thousand miles which is akin to crossing the United States and back without her in the car beside me and oddly that is painful it seems so small just like the green beans and bacon in cream sauce that I cannot cook without remembering how we tried it for the first time in Brno our magical holiday though I cannot imagine myself making Helmut and Jolana sad with the news although I know I ought to if I expect to go back which I'm not sure I will but if I ever wanted to be an expat it's a beautiful place not like Ensenada which is another place I can't think of without her and how she trembled when the picadors cantered in on blindfolded horses and stabbed the bull so I put my arm around her and thought about how cold it was on the shady side and now it's only growing colder how will I make it through winter

Saturday, November 24, 2007

working up to...

Getting thrown off the goose doesn't seem to have curbed P's enthusiasm. We caught a seagull today, not as much fight as a goose but more than P's used to. I tossed a strip of breast meat into the frying pan and found it's surprisingly tasty. One expects seagulls to taste like fish, but it was quite a lot like steak.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


I have no quarry but I'm grinning from ear to shining ear.

I was cruising a backstreet and saw a flock of geese grubbing in the grass. P stared at them all in longing. One looked different, and as I made a turn I called K.

"I'm driving behind Corporation X, and the other day you were talking about small geese. I think I see one, it's a goose but sized like a really big duck. It's got a bit of white on the wings and some orange around the beak. Color's like a hen mallard."

"That's a speckled goose. Go catch it."

"Think so?"

"They're about five pounds, as opposed to sixteen. Your bird can take it."

A jackrabbit weighs five pounds. No problem. "Later."

I drove back in (P looking in longing yet again), and pulled over, readying for a U-turn. A GMC SUV was 150 yards down the street, coming my way. I took my turn, P popped onto the glove and I dropped the window. Drive drive drive... out!

P unerringly went for the speckled, grappled with it, had it well enough. The Canadas bailed. The crows, appearing from nowhere, yelled. Even I stopped for a second, amazed. I was just about to turn and the damned GMC had come up (how did he get here so fast?), and I had to wait another moment. Just as I pulled up, the goose wangled out of P's grip, stumbled across the road and heavily pulled into the air.

P stood on the grass in shock. I stopped the car and tried to wave him back in, but he wouldn't come. As far as he was concerned, he'd caught it. From the car lot across the street, a sedan had stopped. I looked at the driver. She looked at P. Eventually she said, "Call the police. That bird's injured."

"Yeah, I will."

After she drove away I got out and tried to entice P back onto the glove. He walked away from me, pissed that I hadn't instantly leaped out of the car to back him up. In those moments, a thousand second-guessings. I hadn't really needed to U-turn. I probably should have waited the 30 seconds it would have taken for the GMC to pass. When I offered him a whole quail leg, he came up to the glove. He certainly deserved it and the other quail leg I gave him afterwards.

a win for falconry

After much hard work by Bill Horn of the Wild Raptor Take Conservancy, our birds are now our property.

Up to this point, falconry birds have been the property of USFWS and falconers merely "possess" them. We trap or buy them from private breeders (not FWS), we pay the vet and food bills, we go to great lengths to recover them if they get lost, in all other ways we treat them as if we own them -- but they were never considered ours. FWS had the right to confiscate them at any time for any reason, and some of those reasons have been quite flimsy, particularly during sting operations.

Imagine if this was the situation with your family pet. Someone (you don't know who) has told the feds that they think there's something wrong with your dog -- unlicensed, it barks too much, they think you're doing something wrong. The feds could confiscate your dog before actual charges are made, before there is any proof that you have broken a law. And even when the charges prove false, you will probably never see your dog again.

A duck hunter has had more right to keep his dead quarry than falconers have had over their live birds.

This change is a truly great advancement to falconers' rights. AFAIK it will be enacted at the upcoming revision to the falconry regulations.

Friday, November 16, 2007


Sometimes I wonder what you do these days. As a spirit, you undoubtedly see things in ways I can only speculate about. I imagine you as traveling places on a thought, whether it be Bellingham or Betelgeuse. I don’t think world affairs concern you any longer, or at least not the details. What might concern you is whether or not humans survive as a race. You were always a big-picture kind of person anyway. The systems view you and I have is just a bit bigger for you now. I bet you like it.

Or you might not see systems as objects. Maybe it’s all a mix of atoms, some clustering in patterns, most chaotic, nothing that could be discerned as an individual human or even a species. Humans and sharks and magma and the roots of redwood trees and space dust are all one thing.

Maybe you only discern living matter versus inert, or things that grow and reproduce versus those that don’t. Maybe all you see are certain types of energy: life, or motivation, or perhaps what is transmitted from one being connecting with another.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Petersburg? maybe

A friend of mine showed me a flyer from a class in Russian conversation. $3500 takes you from NY to St Petersburg and you stay for just under a month with a host family and learn Russian. I can read a little and know generally how to pronounce, but rarely have heard it spoken slowly enough for me to pick out the words. It would be quite an experience. I am sorely tempted.

Friday, November 09, 2007

a classic and an unknown

My very favorite cartoon. Half the people I meet don't know falconry exists, a quarter have heard of it but don't know it's a living sport. How did Larson even think of doing a cartoon about falconers?
Hopefully posting one cartoon won't subject me to a lawsuit from him.

The other day I was asked if I had drawn my Nordinho avatar. The answer was no, but it put me in the mood of drawing something sorta Bilal-ish, so I whipped this up. I don't usually color things but this was all done on the computer so no excuses.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

that were no bird

So I was cruising around some parking lot in the Google zone (east Mountain View) and P got all excited about something. There were a lot of trees and I couldn't tell what had grabbed his attention. Sometimes quarry is on the far side of the landscaping, and he can see it but I can't. (I often wonder what if anything I passed up when he cranes his neck like crazy for two seconds, then subsides.)

I cranked the car around, waited while some employee went by, then accellerated and let him go. P flew toward a spot about 5 feet up from the base of a tree and did the most amazing spiral up and around it, like he'd grabbed a stop sign while rollerskating. He was hot after a squirrel! He lost steam on the way up, landing on the ground, but the next moment he was up again, trying to track this goofy animal that was dodging left and right to get out of P's sights. P didn't really have a chance, but if gravity was on his side I'm sure he would have. I'd never seen squirrel hawking, and have to admit it was funny as hell and could be an impressive challenge for a hawk.

Friday, November 02, 2007

I wish there were backpack camcorders

Well, there are, but it's nothing I could afford. I got started late again, so I figured I should get P some exercise before finding no slips with an anxious hawk. Exploring, I found a small field between buildings, and it turned out to have one jackrabbit in it. It was good to see him give chase and grab. He grabbed seriously enough to make the jack squeal, but didn't get a controlling grip, and got thrown off.

Then we were off to find our regular quarry, and as I expected, a slip was pretty hard to find. We drove around for about 45 minutes, and I was ready to call it a day when we spotted a single bird on a green strip, and a sentry on a pole above. It was just after five and traffic was heavier than usual (though still light by city standards.) I wanted to time things so the oncoming was clear, and got it nearly right; a half-second later would have been perfect. We were almost parallel to the bird just as the last oncoming car passed. P was perfectly ready, I tossed him up (rather than out, and I could feel he was a bit startled by the move) and he went high over the tail of the car, sailed down and slammed the quarry flat. It was such a complete surprise the sentry should have committed harakiri in shame.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

back in the saddle

After a troubling couple of days where P had nothing but close calls, we're back to normal. I'm not sure what the problem was there. Maybe I was letting him go too soon, maybe our quarry has been hammered often enough to be jumpy, maybe a touch of internal parasites, maybe because I haven't given him a full relaxing feed after his efforts. Falconry is always full of questions with no certain answer.

But this weekend we did well, and I gave him close to a full gorge Sunday. Today was the fastest hawking job ever. One toss, one catch, and home. I was sleepy, and when I'm sleepy, decisions are harder to make. Wanna do this. No, wanna do that. No... That kind of thing.

I'm catching up on Tuesday because I have a case of bachelorchronisoma, symptoms being staying up till 2am, waking at 6 or 7, and crashing at 3 pm because of it. On workdays, this is not amusing. 3:30 Tuesday I went home to grab something, thought I would just close my eyes on the sofa for 15 minutes, and woke 2.5 hours later. Whoops. I'm just glad for flextime.