March 2005

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Jet Blue

  Originally uploaded by cybele-la.
I’ve been away.

You probably didn’t notice the difference between me being away any more than my normal indifference to my blog.

I’ve taken hundreds of photos.

This was one of the first, as it was when the trip started in Long Beach on Saturday.

I’m in the airport in NY - JetBlue offers free wifi in their waiting area.

Check the flickr blog for other photos (only a few so far) and other updates.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:34 am    

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Dark Food

Crispin told me this story was bloggable.

On Tuesday night I got home and the power was out. After about an hour of sitting around, I decided to make some dinner. No biggie, we’ve got a gas stove.

I took the flashlight and looked through the pantry and found some chicken soup with wild rice. I then went to the stove and got a pot and searched all the drawers for a can opener. I couldn’t find it. No, I found one, but that one is an electric can opener.

I later abandoned the soup idea and made some macaroni and cheese from an easy to open box (though I used scissors to open the cheezy packet).

After the lights came on a bit later I went to do the dishes and was dismayed to see that the can of soup HAD A PULL TOP!

POSTED BY Cybele AT 5:23 pm    

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Whale Watch Season Wrap-Up

I had dreams of adding a tally on the left nav area of my sightings for the year, but I never got around to it.

I’d say I saw about 20 whales this year. No real good up-close looks though. But I guess that will keep me coming back. There was a good article in the LA Times today about gray whales and the threats to their birthing lagoons in Baja. Click on the flash photo gallery - it’s pretty amazing.

Voyager II - January 30th out of Redondo Beach - lots of dolphins (my best shots of the year).

Whale Watch, um, no Dolphin Watch - my first trip of the year on January 17th. We saw bottlenose dolphins. YaY!

Long Beach Sportfishing - Saturday - February 3 (trip was on the 5th) this post features my only real shot of a gray whale I got this year.

The Seldom Seen Side of Catalina - I already cross-posted this. The trip was on March 12th and was awesome.

The best part of the year absolutely was the dolphins. If they could just take out boats and go looking for dolphins year-round, I’d do that.

The Redondo Sportfishing group is going to keep running their whale-watch daily until April 3rd and then they switch to a last weekend of the 9th & 10th. So I might not be done yet! There might be a whale out there ready to show his face and flukes to me in the next few weeks.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:46 am     Whale Watching

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Whale Watch #8

I can’t remember how many times I’ve been whale watching this year. That’s the coolest part, I think. It’s a habit now.

Not much to report, no dolphins. A zig-zagging whale. Lots of wind and choppy water.

these are gulls and shearwaters

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:54 pm     Whale Watching

Funniest Interview on the Net

The New York Times Magazine has an interview with Jeff Gannon/Jim Guckert. It’s hilarious. Especially the part where he gets Freud confused with Einstein because “I got my old Jewish men confused.”

POSTED BY Cybele AT 5:40 pm    

Friday, March 18, 2005

+o Go

I tried fixi+g my keyboard this eve+i+g. I thought I discovered the difficulty - a fleck of +ougat u+der there. But alas, all the dog hair removal has +ot helped.

I’m +ot sure what to do +ow. The computer is out of its warra+ty period. The problem seems so slight, +ot somethi+g I would pay more tha+ $25 to resolve.

Perhaps I should just use this as a+ oppportu+ity to alter my vocabulary to excise the difficult letter. This’ll be hard. Yes, very hard.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:01 pm    

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Hit & Run

First, an update on my keys. My N is still misbehaving. So, if you notice one missing someplace, it’s because I was typing too fast to hit the key eight times. (There were other choices for numbers that were more accurate, but they required the dreaded letter.)

On Monday morning as I was going into the house through the side door I saw a tan Volvo come around the curve in front of my house, pass closely by a blue Lexus and give it a glancing blow, shearing off the side view mirror.

The Volvo barely made a course correction upon striking the Lexus. The Lexus shuddered and the mirror and its control wires dangled down against the door and the housing flipped towards the front of the car.

This is probably not so uncommon, and that the car didn’t stop is little surprise. I suspect that the Volvo lives on the street, but I don’t remember everyone’s car. For the record, the Lexus was parked on the wrong side of the street. Well, I call it the wrong side of the street, but someone removed the signs years ago when they built that new house. Most of us still understand that they shouldn’t park there, not really because someone might hit you, but mostly because there’s no room for two way traffic if people park on both sides and no one likes backing up around a curve when you come nose to nose there.

I left a note on the Lexus’ windshield as I left for the work with a brief account of what I witnessed and my contact info.

Here’s why I mention it.

I haven’t heard a thing.

I don’t know quite what to think, I mean, I don’t know what to expect with such things. A few weeks ago an ATM gave me more money than I requested. I returned it, though I wasn’t sure if the money belonged to the credit union or some user of the ATM. I guess I’m asking for closure. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I’m a writer or that I watch too much TV where things are always tied up in neat little packages.

Of course this post is ending much the same way, with no real conclusion.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:10 pm    

Sunday, March 13, 2005

The Seldom Seen Side of Catalina Island

Last spring I went to Catalina for the first time. I did the tourista trip, Catalina Express to Avalon for the day. Yesterday I had a completely different experience with the island, starting with the fact that I never stepped foot on it but fell in love with it from afar. I took a trip set up by the American Cetacean Society called “Around Catalina with John Olguin.”

We departed from Long Beach along with 500 other people on the Catalina Countess - a huge three story boat that gave us a smooth crossing. It was hazy and overcast but the visibility was pretty good. Shortly after rounding the Palos Verdes Peninsula we spotted two gray whales heading north. We slowed and circled, and caught sight of them once from a distance before we sped off to our destination, the far side of Catalina. During the crossing we had special guest lecturers, including John Olguin giving his amazing recreation of the sounds that whales make (memorized from a record he had), which included the buzzing lawnmower like sounds of pilot whales to the booming thumps of sperm whales to the mournful songs of humpbacks.

As we approached the west end, the first thing evident is that the heavy rains have made Catalina vividly green and lush looking. Even with the heavy clouds, the color was striking. The sun was poking through the cloud wrapped hilltops and illuminating the valleys. Next thing we saw close into shore was a pod of dolphins—make that a megapod—there were thousands, at least two miles long and a half a mile across. The long-beaked common dolphins came out to meet the boat and delighted everyone by riding both in our bow wake and surfing behind in the boat’s wake for about ten minutes.

We headed around the western tip and kept a keen eye out for Gray Whales. Though they usually hug the coast on their southern migration, their north migration usually takes advantage of the currents and they skirt along the western side of the island. But we didn’t spot them right away, instead it was a small pod of Bottlenose Dolphins speeding off, probably to feed on nearby squid. Their course paralleled ours for about 10 minutes. Within minutes we spotted some telltale, heart-shaped blows off our starboard and came about to catch up, finding four whales traveling in a loose group. We followed them for close to ten minutes as we watched the megapod of common dolphins we saw from the other side of the island streaming out in a long dark line several miles long towards San Nicolas Island. The same direction we saw the bottlenose heading a half hour earlier.

After that burst of activity we settled in to watch the backside of Catalina, with fishing boats anchored close to shore and our geologist guide gave us a wonderful primer on the history of the island and pointed out relevant features. During part of that lecture a Bald Eagle was spotted in the air as it was harassed by some seagulls. Up on the little coves and rocky outcroppings were sea lions and harbor seals hauled out to sun (well, not much sun) themselves in complete seclusion.

Far out to sea we saw more blows from other groups of gray whales - too far for us to catch as they were going north and we had to continue south. Rounding the east side of the island brought us back within sight of civilization as we passed the quarry where most of the seawalls in Los Angeles got their rocks. Shortly after rounding the bend we came upon the reverse-osmosis desalination plant for the island residents and then the town of Avalon. Off in the distance were more dolphins throwing themselves out of the water and spinning. The boat had already spent so much time with the whales and other common dolphins that it was time to head back to the dock in Long Beach. As we got closer the clouds cleared and the water turned from turquoise to prussian blue. Getting off the boat, I wanted to relive the day and look at all my photos.

The gray whalewatch season ends in a few weeks, but we’re already making plans to go see the Humpback whales in the Santa Barbara Channel in May and Blue Whales in July.

(cross-posted at with more photos)

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:41 pm     Whale Watching

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Kamchatka Volcanoes

I was reading through my regular science blogs this morning and found a link to the ESA site where they’ve captured some shots of volcanic activity in Russia.

high resolution image (552k)

That’s a photo of the Kliuchevskoi and Sheveluch volcanoes erupting at the same time on the lonely Kamchatka Peninsula (which most of us know from playing Risk).

The European Space Agency site has been following the activity for a while.

The more southerly 4835-metre-high Kliuchevskoi volcano began its latest eruption on 17 January 2005. By 7 March its consequent lava flow had reached the Erman glacier and started to melt it, causing a threat of potential mudslides. The hot volcanic material in contact with the surrounding ice and snow caused secondary explosions, hurling material as far as eight kilometres into the air. 

Above it is Kamchatka’s most northerly active volcano Shiveluch ñ also known as Sheveluch. It is 3283 metres high and started its latest eruption on 27 February 2005. The erupting material covers an area over 700 kilometres across with a layer of ash about 150 kilometres wide and eight centimetres thick, extending westward to the Okhotsk Sea. A ten-km-wide lava flow destroyed the Shiveluch seismological station, located about eight km from the volcano.

If there’s one other thing that this photo shows me, it’s that it looks damn cold in Kamchatka right now.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 12:59 pm    

Monday, March 07, 2005


As blogged yesterday, The Man and I went to Whole Foods yesterday morning.

We picked out our Sunday evening meal which was to be a baked chicken with root vegetables (parsnips, potatoes and carrots).

After returning from the marathon The Man set to prep the chicken and opened the 7-pound, free-range, organic bird. It smelled like a garbage dumpster on a hot day. We’d gone right from the grocery store to home and put it in the fridge right away - that bird was bad when we brought it home, that’s the only explanation.

We immediately put into several plastic bags to cloak the smell, dug out the receipt and I trucked back up to Whole Foods - at the exact time that I loathe shopping, 5 PM. The place was mobbed, but I got up to the service desk and returned my chicken. The fellow kind of glowered at me, as if I’d some something wrong and I said I was concerned and that they should check their entire inventory because there was definitely something not right with that bird.

He nodded and gave me a merchandise credit. I’d presented my receipt and the original packaging and he was giving me a merchandise credit? He said I could redeem it for cash at any of the checkstands - and I glanced around to the Sunday pre-dinner lines and sighed. I was there to get a replacement dinner anyway (we were going to now have leftovers and a big salad so we needed some greens and tomatoes).

I fetched my new food and got in line, cashed out and thought to myself that when I’m paying $18 for a chicken, I should get much better treatment when they sell me a spoiled bird. Starting with an apology.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 4:06 pm    

Sunday, March 06, 2005


I was booked to go out on the 10AM boat from Redondo Sportfishing, but their boat is in the shop.

So no boat this week.

There are very few opportunities left before the end of the season. Even though the migration (next week begins the “turnaround time” where we’ll see as many southbound whales as northbound) lasts through the end of April, the whale watch boats stop going out (except for charters) at the end of March.

Next weekend, The Man and I are going on a naturalist trip that goes around Catalina Island - it’s a whole day boat with the founder of the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium founder, John M. Olguin. I have this image of all the whales and dolphins native to this area just hiding on the other side of the island. That we’d pass around the west side of the island and they’ll just be popping out of the water over there on the mysterious far side of the island.

The big question is what shall I do with my now free Sunday morning? So far I’ve done a load of laundry. Later a trip out to Whole Foods and Petco.

And of course my afternoon is booked today with a very important activity. I’m crashing the Marathon. Will has already completed the bike tour and started the Marathon about 20 minutes ago. I’ll join him somewhere around mile 20 to boost him with a little turkey jerky and M&Ms. I’ll try to walk with him for a couple of miles. The trick is figuring how to meet up with him - but he’s moblogging as he goes along so we’ll always know where he is.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 8:29 am     Whale Watching

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Spellig troubles

I’ve got a slight problem with my laptop keyboard.

My N key doesn’t seem to be functioning consistently.

That is, sometimes, well, most times I press it, it doesn’t work. Which means that a lot of the time when I’m typing, I have to go back and fill in my Ns.

I took the key off tonight ad cleaned the dog hair and dust out from under it, hoping that would help, but it doesn’t seem to have done any good.

My eventual plan for this computer is to make it my desktop and give it an external firewire hard drive for extra storage. Good thing about this plan is that I’d probably hook up an external keyboard, so this N problem would be a thing of the past.

How is it, do you think, that the N key has given out before any of the others.

I think I might have to go back and check over my novels and do a letter occurrence chart.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:11 pm    

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Buzznet vs Flickr

Sean at has this way of making me sign up for new web services (he sends me an invite). So over the past year or so I’ve signed up for a variety of sites, including,,, and now

I’ve resisted Flickr because I already have a photoblogging site, I have my own site ( - nothing there yet) and The Man and I are about to launch our own photo gallery site. My other problem with them is the fact that they dropped the E in flicker. Dunno, just bothers me. 

But I have to say, I like Flickr quite a bit. It’s similar to buzznet in that it’s a community and you can leave comments and have friends and syndicate content. What it has that buzznet doesn’t have is the ability to show high quality photos. Buzznet can’t show anything bigger than 400x400. Though Flickr’s default is a little smaller than that, if you see a photo you like, you can see it in its full scale size if you want. Buzznet lets you hop right into content though - when you go to someone’s home page you see their little recent gallery, their most recent image with all the comments. Flickr makes you click on an image before seeing that stuff, which I think makes the community part of browsing other people’s photos just a little tougher.

Flickr is new enough that they don’t have a lot of advertising yet, and some of buzznet’s banner ads on their site bug the crap out of me. I can’t stand animated banner ads and I loathe ones with sound to the point that I do not keep the sound on with my laptop at home and I will leave a site that has any advertising with sound if I’m at the office and not go back until the next day when I figure they’ve rotated to a less intrusive ad.

So, for the moment I have both services in my left column. Buzznet’s Marc Brown graciously gave me unlimited uploads when I signed up and I’m really fond of the easy to use service and of course I’ve made friends there. Flickr has an upload limit of 10 megs per month, which is quite a bit (and I expertly maxed it out last night!). At the moment I’m duplicating my content on both streams. Flickr is offering their “daily zeitgeist” animated badge that you see over there. (Will also has one on his site.) Anyone have any thoughts on which they like better? Or should I just go back to hand coding whatever images I want to have their and forget this syndicated stream stuff?

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:11 am    













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During November it's all about me writing a novel. Sometimes it's about whalewatching. You know, and then there's other stuff.