February 2006

Ranch Weather Station
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Ranch Operations
Ranch Wildlife
The Indians
Stealth Cam
Ranch Photography
Cedar Fire 2003


RV Trips

Idaho to Home

Salton Sea

Arizona 08'


Tuesday, Feb 29, 2006

1 PM - Finally a deep soaking serious rain storm.  By eastern standards it wouldn't be noticed but for us it's a welcome event. As of now our 24 hour total is 1.9" and it was spread out perfectly to soak in and not run off.  I can't believe it's this late in the season and this is only our first usable rain. By usable I mean it came in an amount which is enough to get the creek flowing and maybe add a little to our low water table.  Those quarter inch drizzle storms don't do a thing. Within hours the Santa Ana winds dry up any moisture that they provide.

5:45 PM - Clearing weather this afternoon with the rain total still at 1.9". 

Spent the afternoon fooling with a Yahoo desktop program called Widgets that places little gizmos on your desktop.  Small programs like clocks, calendars or to-do lists. Spent a couple of hours adapting one to display the mountain cam picture and update the photo automatically.  If anyone is familiar with Widgets, I'd be glad to e-mail it to you.  You'd want a full time internet connection to appreciate it.

I'll spend the rest of the evening figuring out how I'm going to archive these posts.  Because of the photos, loading a month of these daily entries takes forever.

Monday, Feb. 27, 2006

3:30 PM - Catherine's birthday and we headed out early for our traditional birthday hike.  Today we ended up on Sunrise Highway and did a hike into the Laguna Meadows area.  Perfect day for a hike, slightly overcast with hints of a pending storm.

We came back by Engineer Road and Boulder Creek Road which is "the back way" and goes through the burned areas of Cuyamaca.  Lots of construction going on but you can't ignore the acres and acres of burned pines and oaks. It'll never be the same, at least not in my lifetime.

Sunday, Feb 26, 2006

11 AM -  Headed out early to do a short bike ride with Cath.  We drove all the way into Descanso, parked at the Town Hall and rode a loop on Viejas Grade and Oak Grove.  Probably only a half hour ride with some up and a nice downhill.  I'm using a good mountain bike that was given to us but I'm unfamiliar with the gears and unused to the feel of such a light bike. I never feel like I'm really in control and I'm always just on the brink of losing it.  Of course the uphill's are killers but they seem even worse than I remember when I just had a street bike. Of course I'm heavier now than I've ever been in my life.  Could that have something to do with it?

5 PM - I just got back from re-loading the stealth cam and as usual, I didn't get any new wildlife shots.  I did get a shot of the squirrel mating with it's girlfriend but it was kind of blurry. Lots of action going on.

The tree on the right is typical of many on our property.  Leftovers from the fire of 03' and we have left most of them standing till the wind does them in.  Yes, I have a chain saw and I know how to use it but the trees provide an attractive perch for dozens of the birds that migrate through our property.  Currently we have groups of blackbirds coming through and it isn't unusual to see that tree covered with up to 50 of them.

Saturday, Feb 25, 2006

12:30 PM - Woke up this morning with a blistering headache. It's eased a bit but still there in the background, lurking.

Spent the day so far watering and doing small chores.  It's another hot day and though they're predicting rain, I can't count on it.  The TV news likes to hype their weather and make it more dramatic.  The weather service got sued a few years ago for not predicting a storm and now they tend to "over predict" just to cover themselves.  I tend to downplay anything I hear from either of them.

8:30 PM - Spent the day dragging myself around doing as little as possible.  I did eat a lot of ice cream though.  The migraine has finally eased  up and tomorrow may be a normal day. (Doesn't mean I won't be eating ice cream.) 

Catherine bought me some biking gloves and a pump for my bike.  That probably means she wants to go biking tomorrow so I'd better be prepared.  We don't have a flat road within 40 miles and somehow, they all go up (even when I'm coming back). I can hold my own when we hike but on the bike, she leaves me in the dust.  Thought I was going to have a heart attack last time.

Friday, Feb 24, 2006

5 PM - Headed out early today to REI in San Diego to pick up Catherine's birthday present. Of course they didn't have what she really wanted so I had to adjust my purchase.

Not a lot happening on the ranch today.

Still fussing with the website a little. Went through one of my old websites that isn't posted anymore and was amazed at the amount of work I put into that thing.  I had stories from people from all over the US as well as quizzes and a real-time outdoor news feed. It was a very good website and it could stand up to any I see today.

Thursday, Feb 23, 2006

9:45 - Good grief, it's a warm day!! No winter for us and I've already been out watering the plants.  My nurse grass, which was temporary to hold the slope, is struggling and because no native weeds are coming up, the rabbits are eating it.  It's almost getting scary.

Saw an interesting article on Nightline about Craigslist.org so I went to the San Diego area and posted a note about the East County Forums that I have going.  We don't get many visitors so I thought I might try to drum up some interest.  Some current contributors have really shown an interest so I'd like to at least reward them by getting more people on board.

Cath and I are headed out for our morning walk. No jackets needed today.


Wednesday, Feb 22, 2006

6 AM - Spent 45 minutes trying to find were I wrote elusion rather than illusion.  Cath knew she had seen it somewhere but couldn't remember where, nor could I.  Found it, changed it, what a hassle.

Back in the 60's I was a big fan of the Jefferson Airplane so when I heard that someone was selling old posters found in the Bill Graham vault, I had to check it out.  I'm not too big on nostalgia but I thought I might make an exception in this case. Went to Wolfgang's Vault for a trip down memory lane and did find the posters, starting at $95.  Not sure about that especially when I have a feeling that I took the music more seriously than the band did. 

My mom was a fan of the Big Bands back in her day and had an autograph book filled with some of the well known musicians.  Of course, being a kid, I thought it was silly especially when she got misty eyed while hearing Mitch Miller play the oldies.  So here I am, and here's a sample of what makes me wistful.

12:45 - Feeling a little better today.  I think I might have over-done the chocolate eggs yesterday.  Not that there's anything wrong with chocolate. Actually, chocolate is very good for you and I advocate eating as much of it as you can. Especially dark chocolate which has anti-carcinogenic qualities.  That's what they say. Really!

Went for my 20 minute fast walk today and actually finished a little early. Had to extend my path out the gate and up the road a bit.  Did 21. Yeeha.

The computer's behaving a little better today as well. I use FrontPage to do my web pages and it can really get fussy.  I got locked into it years ago but it's not the best regarded program around. Actually, even Microsoft doesn't take it that seriously anymore and they're no longer going to include it in the MsOffice Suite. Don't call me sweet.

Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2006

9 AM - We've been getting hundreds of birds at our feeder recently.  I've been putting out sunflower seeds which is a big favorite with them.  This morning things were a little quiet for a while because we had a hawk circling the area.

I'm headed out to check my stealth cam and for my trail walk.

5:45 PM - We had a little of everything today. Sun, Rain and snow.  Definitely cold today and I've had the heater on several times.  Still spending a lot of time on the internet and updating web pages. Hey, it's a hobby.

Monday, Feb. 20, 2006

Doctors appointment at 9AM and I spent most of it updating the doctor on the latest developments in her profession. Interesting that she doesn't read her subscription to Time Magazine. Oh well, I'll see her again in four months and bring her up to date again.

Stopped at Von's on the way home and bought a couple of bags of Dove chocolate eggs. Pretty good when frozen but now I'm suffering the consequences. Burning stomach.

Spending a lot of time on the website updating my weather page and updating the weather software. With the constant internet connection I have a lot of extra options open for updating the data. The Weather Underground site has some areas that accept updates constantly.  They're called flash reports and I would literally be sending the data every couple of seconds.  Seems a bit like over-kill and frankly I don't think anyone out there is really paying that much attention.  The NOAA weather service has a similar system called MESONET and they are looking for people to send them data as well.  I've contacted them; I'm just not sure if my equipment is up to their standards.  While my station seemed pricey to me, they're used to dealing with higher end stuff.

Snow on the mountain but it's melting fast.  Most likely it will be gone tomorrow so I've saved this web cam shot from earlier today.

Another way I'm enjoying my new internet connection is by running several news updating programs on my desktop.  No doubt I'll tire of this but for now, I have Google constantly bringing news updates that are automatically displayed on the screen.  I'm also running several "gimmicky" programs that stay in the taskbar but constantly scroll the latest news & weather.  Yeah, too much info but it's fun for now.

Sunday, Feb. 19, 2006

7:30 AM - My migraine finally went away. It came on Friday night and stayed till late last night.  Feels so good when it's gone.

We're still having wet weather, just over a quarter inch so far. We are way under what we need.  Had some snow flurries for a few seconds yesterday but not enough to stick.  In honor of the occasion I spent some time upgrading my weather web site. Here. I really like the streaming weather map.

Saturday, Feb. 18, 2006

7:00 AM - Rain, well, sort of. Not enough to make puddles but we have some definite drippings out there. 5 100's of an inch so far.  Got up at 12:30 last night and ran around closing car windows etc.

Fooling around with adding a Amazon book page on this site.  Not sure if I'll go through with it or not.  Makes me feel like a pimp for Amazon though I buy from them a lot and have had good service.  Not sure exactly how it works but apparently if someone clicks on the link and then buys the book, I get a coupon for a few cents off my next purchase. Here is my test page so readers of this journal can get a sneak preview. Wow! Here

Friday, Feb 17, 2006

10:30 AM - Returned from our morning walk; did 20 minutes.  One of our neighbors decided to burn some cut brush and the fire had our hearts beating for a while.  He most likely had a permit but I think the flames were a little more than he planned. Quite high and dramatic looking.

Thursday, Feb. 16, 2006

9:30 AM - Cold this morning. It got down to 29 and I can see snow on the ridge of Cuyamaca.  Cath and I just got back from our hike along the trail. Lots of turkeys out today. Must have counted over 30.  Took that photo from the bench I placed at the top of the property.

9 PM - Spent a lot of time posting Cath's bird life list on this site under "Ranch Wildlife". Would like to post some photos of each bird but man, that's a lot of work.


Wednesday, Feb 15, 2006

4:30 AM - Wakeup to clouds.  Wow, for us, clouds are a remarkable occurrence.  Thanks to TIVO I started my day with John Stewart and Letterman.  The Daily Show is at the top of my list of favorites and I consider it a legitimate news source (in spite of it's Comedy Central Address).

Continuing with my research into bird watching or, as we naturalist call it, birding. ;-) I'm trying to use Thayer Birding Software to identify some of our locals.  The program is a bit clumsy and they have an annoying habit of trying to get you to upgrade to more expensive programs.  They don't allow highlighting within the program and I can't get the logging procedure to work.  Catherine is talking about making cards of the local birds which would be really helpful.

6 PM - I've been struggling with my stealth cam lately. The Santa Ana's seem to cause the camera to take false shots and if it isn't that, it's the squirrel that lives under the rock. I had over 100 shots in 24 hours and 50 of them were of the squirrel in various poses. No night shots but then, I usually have to put out some bait to attract the night critters.  Just haven't had time for that.

Spent a lot of time today working on Cathy's list of Sherilton Valley birds which will be posted on this site. About half way there. 

Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2006

10:30 - Out by 7 to do a 19 min brisk walk on the trail.  Spent the morning cleaning the kitchen & bathrooms and watching the birds eat the sunflower seeds I put out.

11:00 - To post office & Guatay Hardware for bird seed and 3 galvanized cans for storage.

1:30 PM - Saw this bird at the feeder. The Oak Titmouse.  Catherine and several of our neighbors are avid bird watchers.  When I see a Blue Jay, they know if it's a Steller's Jay or Scrub Jay and of course they can tell if it's male or female. Hell, they probably know who Steller was and had lunch with him on one of their bird watching trips. Hawks, owls, woodpeckers; I know the generic names while they know the specific.  I'm going to work on that.

Spent the afternoon working on this website playing around with adding Google ads.  I have no illusions about getting clicks on the ads but I do enjoy seeing which ads are selected to match the content of the page.  Some are quite interesting and any clicks I get will most likely be my own.

Monday, Feb. 13, 2006

Up with Catherine at 4:30 this morning.  I'm still concerned about the wind disturbing the two sat dishes I have on the hill.  This morning I guy wired the anemometer pole which was jiggling the dish pedestal.  A definite improvement in the 30 mph winds this morning.  50 mph winds have been predicted for later. We'll see.

Took a run into town for groceries. Picked up a new bird feeder.  Baked a meatloaf. Exciting!

Sunday, Feb. 12, 2006

7:30 AM - Another day of high winds.  We're really getting pounded this season.  Many of the dead pines have blown down and we've lost some Sycamores that blew across the road at the creek crossing. Those blocked the road to the south and I had to get them moved right away so the Lewis's and Gross's could get out.

9:00 AM - Finished the Time Mag article "Happiness Isn't Normal" about the psychologist Steven Hayes who has moved away from the cognitive approach to psychotherapy. It seems to me that he is using a basic Buddhist approach of mindfulness.  Desensitizing the troubling thoughts that stream through our mind and recognizing them as nothing more than peripheral products of our thinking machine.  From the context of the article it seemed that the Hayes proponents are worried about being lumped in with what they consider the quirky fringe "self help" crowd. To me, it sounds like they've been reading books by Eckhart Tolle (The Power of Now) and Steve Hagen (Buddhism is Not What You Think).

5:30 PM - Spent time on the computer enjoying the full time internet.  Added Google Desktop to display real time news news updates and set up messenger so I can instant message Catherine in the next room. ;-)

Saturday, Feb. 11, 2006
9 AM - Plan for the day. Crawl under the house to continue search for where the mice are getting in.  Take web cam apart and try to remove smudges.

10:31 AM - Spent some time under the house on mouse patrol. The crawl space seems tight as a drum so I just sealed a couple of sleeves that were already sealed on the outside.  Last week we sealed a hole in one sleeve that had been chewed through so I'm hoping we haven't had any new entries. This house is sealed better than any I've been in before. I hate the sound of scratching in the walls at night.

The wind is up again today! 35 mph gusts. I'm really getting tired of this non-winter. One Santa Ana after another.  The stand I made for the Direcway dish is cemented in and guy wired so I'm confident it is sturdy. On the other hand it doesn't take much to lose the signal and even the installer had a hard time pointing the thing.  Expensive to call them back out here.

1:00 PM - Cleaned the inside filament of the webcam with LCD cleaning cloth.  Kinda nervous about that  because so often you can make it worse or damage it completely.  So far so good and the smudges seem to be gone. Most people probably never noticed them to begin with but they were driving me crazy.  We'll see if they show up again when the light hits the camera at a different angle.

6:30 PM - Another summer day on the ranch.  This the driest winter I've ever seen up here.  I planted grass on the bare dirt areas around the house with the idea that it would hold the soil when the rains came.  Now I'm spending time and water just trying to keep it alive.  The grass was to be a temporary measure; a nurse crop to help the native growth fill in.

Global Warming - Michael Crichton says it has very little to do with human industrialization.  What ever the cause I guess I'll have to get used to the idea that I live in the desert instead of the mountain foothills