Category Archives: Golden State

Yosemite National Park and Mono Basin: 1

on the way upAfter a midday drive from Sacramento, I put in a 2-hour round trip climb to Sentinel Dome summit, using scouting reports like this one from Jason and Katie Loomis. I had originally planned the complete loop around the dome, with the side trip to Taft Point, but I got started later than I planned and I didn’t want to force myself in unfamiliar country at elevation. From the parking area on Glacier Point Road, it’s but a 400 foot ascent.

scoping the areaThe nearly bare summit (8122 feet [2476 m]) nevertheless supports quite a bit of life — several wildflowers, including Mountain Pride (Penstemon newberryi); a succulent shrub that provides cover for the rather tame ground squirrels; an unidentified butterfly having a bask; and a couple of Common Ravens (Corvus corax).

nice viewA handful of people on the trail and at the top, like me, enjoying the extravagant views.

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West decoded: 3

Or not, as the case may be. The Day of the Locust, Nathanael West’s maggotty mash note to California, has several instances of slang that may be obscure, undocumented, or simply his own coinages. I got nowhere with the following:

He sat near Harry’s bed and listened to his stories by the hour. Forty years in vaudeville and burlesque had provided him with an infinite number of them. As he put it, his life had consisted of a lightning series of “nip-ups,” “high-gruesomes,” “flying-W’s” and “hundred-and-eights” done to escape a barrage of “exploding stoves.” An “exploding stove” was any catastrophe, natural or human, from a flood in Medicine Hat, Wyoming, to an angry policeman in Moose Factory, Ontario. (ch. 6)

How is it that Medicine Hat was transported from Alberta to the Equality State? I wonder whether hundred-and-eight is a misprint for hundred-and-eighty—unlikely, since it would be plural in this context.

Most of the online hits that this next one turns up want to sell me an Acura.

Faye was coming back. Homer saw that Tod was going to speak to her about Earle and the Mexican and signaled desperately for him not to do it. She, however, caught him at it and was curious.

“What have you guys been chinning about?”

“You, darling,” Tod said. “Homer has a t.l. for you.” (ch. 20)

This last one has such a rhythm that I have to believe West made it up.

… all those poor devils who can only be stirred by the promise of miracles and then only to violence. A super “Dr. Know-All Pierce-All” had made the necessary promise and they were marching behind his banner in a great united front of screwballs and screwboxes to purify the land. No longer bored, they sang and danced joyously in the red light of the flames (ch. 27)

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Still smiling

on lineHere is Leta standing somewhere toward the end of a huge entrance queue at the California Academy of Sciences, perky as always. The San Francisco museums were aswarm with patrons on this Tuesday of the inter-holiday period.

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Out of the garage

Maybe a little too close to home: Jon Mooallem checks out self-storage culture in suburban California:

“My parents were Depression babies,” [Tom] Litton told me, “and what they taught me was, it’s the accumulation of things that defines you as an American, and to throw anything away was being wasteful.” The self-storage industry reconciles these opposing values: paying for storage is, paradoxically, thrifty.

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classicOn my last trip to California, I was dealing with family business, so I didn’t in get much sightseeing or birding—none, really. But I did start building my collection of West Coast street name signs with this easy-to-read example from Arden Arcade, an unincorporated suburban area of Sacramento County. The arrows (which don’t appear consistently) indicate the direction in which street numbers increase.

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Wildlife and wind power in California

The California Energy Commission has adopted a set of voluntary guidelines for wind power projects in the state, as reported by The Birding Community E-Bulletin. The document’s abstract:

These voluntary guidelines provide information to help reduce impacts to birds and bats
from new development or repowering of wind energy projects in California. They
include recommendations on preliminary screening of proposed wind energy project
sites; pre-permitting study design and methods; assessing direct, indirect, and
cumulative impacts to birds and bats in accordance with state and federal laws;
developing avoidance and minimization measures; establishing appropriate
compensatory mitigation; and post-construction operations monitoring, analysis, and
reporting methods.

The guidelines were developed in conjunction with the California Department of Fish and Game.

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