Category Archives: Life

Social Squirrel

I swear I’m not trying to turn this into a squirrel-themed blog, but here’s another encounter that I thought was worth sharing.

Most of the squirrels I see are really skittish around people. This one, in a city park, walked up to me and posed. I’m not sure what it was doing in the first shot, because it can’t have been trying to psych out a boxing opponent. But a few seconds later, after I’d knelt down with the camera for a better shot, it adjusted its pose into a perfect Oliver Twist, “Please sir? May I have some more?”

Tough Squirrel and Please, sir? on Flickr. Originally posted on Pixelfed and on iNaturalist.

The Visible Housing Timeline

I saw an article about open space preservation efforts in Newport Beach, and decided to look up the area on maps’ satellite view. Looking around nearby areas in Newport, Laguna Beach, Irvine, Tustin, Orange, etc, I realized: the timeline of residential development in central Orange County is actually visible.

  • Newer neighborhoods have bigger houses than older ones.
  • Older neighborhoods have varied muted colored roofs. Newer ones are almost all red tile.
  • With some exceptions, older areas were built on flatter land & newer areas have crept into the hills, so grids are mostly older. The one newer area that’s flat-and-grid is all red tile roofs.

I don’t know how well it tracks for other areas. I’m less familiar with southern Orange County, for instance, and areas from Santa Ana northward into the LA Basin are much flatter and were largely built-up by the time I started paying attention.

Instagram Getting Even More Hostile to the Web

Instagram is now requiring you to sign in to view public profiles. You can still look at (for example), my Instagram profile, but once you scroll down a few pages, it pops up a login form and you’re stuck.

A spokesperson said, “This is to help people see photos on Instagram and then understand how to get the best Instagram experience by being part of the community, connecting and interacting with the people and things they love”

Oh, please.

This isn’t to help people.

This is to help Instagram.

This is to force people to sign up for Instagram just so they can see users’ photos that they have posted publicly.

Admittedly, Instagram has always kept the web at a bit of a distance. When it launched, they only had an app. Later you could follow a link to a photo on the web, but it was a dead end. Eventually you could actually browse your timeline, search, and look at people’s photo collections on the web.

And now they’re moving to close themselves off again.

I wrote a few months ago about how I’ve been weighing alternatives. As Facebook exerts more and more control, it becomes less appealing to use. And that’s not even getting into the train wreck of “influencer” culture.

Since then I’ve mostly stopped visiting Instagram, either to view photos or to post them. When I do, it’s frustrating. I’ve been posting more at Pixelfed (lead dev @dansup shared a link to the article at the top) and Mastodon, or just bypassing social networks entirely and going straight to Flickr. You can look at my complete archives on all of those sites, incidentally.

I’m not at the point of deleting my account yet, but I’m thinking it might be time to pull back more actively. Pare down the list of people I’m following, at least, in hopes that it will be a little more welcoming and useful when I do visit. Though I did that with Tumblr and haven’t been back much anyway.

And maybe I should start clearing out my archive. If people are only going to see a dozen or two of my photos, I should at least make sure they’re good ones, right?

Squirrel Guard

I saw this squirrel running across the grass, then got my camera out and caught the first photo as it ran up the side of a tree and paused, looking at me as if assessing whether I was a threat or not.

Then it ran the rest of the way up to look at a gap in the tree, perhaps assuring itself that its stash was still where it had left it.

I walked around to see that there was a hollow between the two major branches, and the squirrel turned around and planted itself firmly, staring at me as if ready to defend its hoard.

My photos taken, I walked away.

Squirrel poised defiantly in front of a hollow in a tree.