Category Archives: Life

Silent Conservation

“The Senate on Tuesday passed the most sweeping conservation legislation in a decade, protecting millions of acres of land and hundreds of miles of wild rivers across the country…”

It passed the Senate 92-8.

Weirdly, I’m on several environmental groups’ mailing lists and I’ve heard nothing about this bill from them except for one specific aspect of it: The Nature Conservancy has occasionally asked me to contact lawmakers in support of renewing the Land and Water Conservation Fund (both before and after it expired last year). On Wednesday they sent me a notice that the LWCF renewal had passed the Senate and asked me to contact my Representative when it goes to the House.

But they’ve said nothing about any other aspect of the over-600-page bill, which adds over a million new acres of wilderness, prohibits mining near Yellowstone, protects 620 miles of rivers, and expands and adds several national parks and monuments. And I’ve heard nothing at all — no news, no campaigns to support it, or reject it as a trojan horse, or amend it — from any of the other groups I follow.

I guess the fact that it’s non-controversial enough for a conservation bill to pass with over 90% bipartisan support even during this administration means it wasn’t a priority for activism. Especially with all the attacks on environmental protections from the executive branch to tackle on one side, and the Green New Deal to talk about on the other.

Snow Above Los Angeles (Feb 2019)

Snow Above LA (Morning)

The winter storm of the past few days is over, leaving a thick coat of snow on the higher parts of the San Gabriel Mountains and a thin dusting on the lower parts, even the mountains behind the Hollywood Hills, still lingering though mid-morning.

Snow above the Hollywood Sign

By mid-afternoon, most of the snow in the second photo appeared to have melted, and the patches on Mt. Wilson (barely visible to the left in the first and third images) had mostly faded. The next ridge back was still thoroughly covered, though!

Snow Above LA: Afternoon

I left work just before sunset, to make sure I could get some photos of the reddish light glinting off of the still snow-covered mountains.

Snow Above LA: Evening

Smiling Sky

Wispy clouds with an upside-down rainbow near the top of the sky.

The last few weeks have been really good for halos. The first tangent arc I’ve seen, a clear circumscribed halo, the more common sundogs and 22° halos, and now a circumzenith arc, looking like an upside-down rainbow high above the sun, wrapping around the top of the sky.

I think this is the second I’ve seen, but the first was only a fragment.

Like all sun halos, they’re formed by light reflecting through ice crystals. And since those crystals can be in the upper atmosphere, you can see them even in warmer places like Los Angeles.

Taken with my phone through polarized sunglasses. Color and contrast enhanced.

Lunar Eclipse, January 2019

Full moon, mostly red except for a whiter edge at the upper left.

The evening was hectic, and I almost forgot. I had literally just put my son to bed when I remembered, “The eclipse!” We went out to see if the sky was clear.

Clouds were rushing across the sky, but for the most part, it was clear, and we had a perfect view of the moon looking like a dark brown chunk of rock in the sky.

(Then I spent 10 minutes fighting with camera settings while he went back to bed.)

Update: I went back out about an hour later to check out the view as the moon left the earth’s shadow, and caught these two photos, taken about the same time with different exposures so that you can see either the lit portion of the moon, or the part that’s still in the earth’s shadow.

Tangent in the Sky

A diffuse bright V-shaped light in the sky, slightly redder on the lower edge, with a faint arc of light extending downward from the center.

When I first started paying attention to solar ice halos, I read about tangent arcs. But this is the first time I’m sure I’ve seen one. The tangent arcs appear above and below the sun, branching out from the 22° circular halo (which you can see here, very faintly), and change shape depending on how high the sun is in the sky.

It was late afternoon, and the sun was behind the next building over. I ended up snapping a shot with my phone, wishing I could have grabbed a better camera, but the Pixel 2 caught a surprising amount of detail once I adjusted the brightness to bring it out. (No, the sky wasn’t this dark!). It’s a far cry from the G1’s photo of a very blue (and blurry) set of halos 10 years ago, or even the Galaxy S4’s colorless rainbows at sunset four years ago.