Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year Celebration

Ribeye Steak with mushroom gravy, polenta, spinach with garlic, and steamed lobster.

Home-made Lemon Custard Tart for desert.

Everybody ate well!

Feeling very full now. We all had a wonderful new year's dinner and a nap seems very nice right now. Hah, the diet can wait until tomorrow.

Happy New Year everyone!

New Year's Resolutions

Nerd Venn Diagram. Okay, okay, the Venn Diagram just screams dweeb! LOL. Of course, come 2010, I'll make my best efforts to be more geek and less dweeb! Hahah (or not...)! What's your new year's resolution?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Best Wishes for the New Year

Parrotfish (Uhu) and Miscellaeous Tangs (Palani, etc.) on Ice at Tamashiro Market. Christmas and New Years are a big deal in Hawaii and people pull out all the stops to celebrate, normally with heaps of food and socializing. I bought my Mom one of those big, beautiful, red Uhu that I rubbed with Mrs. Dash and steamed. Once cooked we poured hot, ginger-infused oil (an Asian thing) over it for that extra bit of ginger flavor. Fish for the holidays is a sort of traditional Hawaii thing although we had crab, chicken, turkey, ham... I even bought some live blue crabs for the for my sister and aunt to munch on (steamed/boiled). Needless to say, everyone else brought all sorts of food as well and a good time was had by all.

Admittedly, I had mixed feelings about seeing all the fish on ice. On one hand, I was amazed by all the incredibly large, truculent fish for sale at very reasonable prices. It brought back fond childhood memories. On the other hand, I was a little saddened to see my beautiful photo buddies on ice. It's a tradition, however. I only hope the fish stocks in Hawaii, perhaps through active management, can permit this sort of thing far into the future.

As we head into the new year, I find myself feeling cheerier about things (in spite of the recently burst hot water pipe under the house and pending repairs). Spending some time with Mom and the family was a nice break from the hectic pace here in San Diego and I feel recharged (even with a bit of the Hawaiian sniffles).

So, as the New Year fast approaches, I'd like to wish my friends here online (and offline too!) all the very best for 2010 with your dreams come true and much success. For the Asians out there, Gung Hee Fat Choi (not quite Asian New Year but close enough); health, wealth and happiness. Haouli Makahiki Hou and special hugs to Martin, Karen, Sharene, Ms. Birdie, Pierre, Stephen, Steve and David!

Surfing Sunset Beach

Surfer at Sunset Beach, North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii. Oahu's North Shore gets some huge waves in the Winter. A passing storm sent 40-60ft waves to Waiamea Bay the day prior to this picture. However, the line of cars wanting to see the gigantic waves stretched all the way out to Haleiwa (aka for miles). Faced with stop and go traffic, wet roads and stormy weather that would likely last through sunset, we opted to snap pictures of the nearly as huge waves in Haleiwa. The 60 footer was a freak wave in Waiamea Bay that same day prior day. The waves started dropping off throughout the day to a measly 20-25 feet the following day. Oddly enough, when I snapped this picture at Sunset Beach, Waiamea Bay was fairly calm (for Winter time anyhow).

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Rare Hawaiian Honeycreeper

Female Oahu Amakihi, Hemignathus flavus, Oahu, Hawaii. The Oahu Amakihi is a theatened Oahu variant of the Amakahi, one of the few remaining Hawaiian Honeycreepers, nectar-feeding birds endemic to Hawaii. The females are brownish with two wing bars. The males are green. The spread of non-native plants such as the stawberry guava increasingly threatens the plants and flowers that these plants feed and depend upon such as the ohia lehua and the koa. This one is feeding on nectar from the Octopus Tree, another non-native but less invasive species.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Big Waves

Big waves outside Haleiwa Harbor from a passing storm. There was a 60 ft. wave reported in Waiamea Bay.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Waikiki by Night

A warm and pleasant evening along Waikiki Beach, Oahu, Hawaii as the lights of the hotels reflect off of the ocean.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Santa Claus & Mrs. Claus, Hawaiian Style

Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus -- Hawaiian Style, Festival of Lights, City Hall, Honolulu, Hawaii. Mayor Frank Fasi started an annual Christmas tradition (many years ago) with huge Christmas figures and a wonderful display of decorated trees originally from a Christmas tree charity comnpetition and now from the different departments in the city. There was even a Hawaii-inspired wreath competition. Even better, meter parking on holidays is free so you can go down and see the festivities at your leisure. Note that Santa is flashing a Shocka (friendly Hawaiian greeting) sign and Mrs. Claus is wearing a Muumuu!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas Hawaiian Style

Diamond Head, Hawaii. In Hawaiian, Mele Kalikimaka (Merry Christmas) and Haouli Makahiki Hou (Happy New Year).

For you photographers out there, this photo was taken from the hills above Honolulu. In hindsight, I would have used mosquito repellent before heading out to the edge of the ridge to allow a more leisurely photo. We were getting eaten alive (10 mosquitos on each leg at a time) and, needless to say, didn't stay for more than a few shots. Thank goodness for auto-focus. As for pruning the little haole koa branch first...the mosquitos won out. Maybe next time.

In true tradition, the family is getting together for Christmas eve and there promises to be huge amounts of food! Everyone is cooking up a storm for tonight. Nobody leaves hungry. I've already managed to get poked by a stray blue pinch crab who got his revenge through three layers of bags. The crabs (now in the fridge waiting for the pot!) and a very nice Uhu (parrot fish) came from Tameshiro Market but that's a story for another blog.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas to All and to All a Good Wrasse!

Christmas Wrasse, Thalassoma trilobatum, Waikiki, Hawaii. It seems even the fish are getting into the Christmas mood. Pictured here is a Christmas Wrasse, known for it's many bright colors. May you all have a wonderful Christmas and an awesome new year!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

In the Bait Ball

Huge school of Nehu, Waikiki, Hawaii. I've heard of huge bait balls, giant swarms of fish. However, I've never been in one. This one was perhaps a measly hundreds or even a thousand fish but being in the middle of it is an amazing and beautiful experience nonetheless.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Passing Showers

The crowd hiding under one of the huge, 50+ year old banyan trees on Waikiki beach as a passing torrential shower stopped in for about 15 minutes.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Yellow Spotted Moray

Yellow spotted moray, unknown species, Waikiki, Hawaii. This moray was showing me his teeth as a warning not to come closer but I managed to snap off a few shots before being swept off to a new portion of the reef by the waves. I've never seen this particular (exceptionally beautiful) species/color form. If you know what species it is, feel free to send the name over.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Nenue, Rudderfish, Kyphosus analogus. One of the more attractive of the various Kyphosus species. As far as I know, the Hawaiians call them all Nenue without differentiating between the different Kyphosus species. This is a schooling fish and large schools of these can often be seen on shallow to medium depth reefs and tidal flats.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Surf Lessons in Style

Student at the Surf School paddling out with her instructor. Normally, you're on the board and the instructor is in the water or they teach you on the sand. This little lady, however, managed to get the instructor out there with her on the same board! Call me a skeptic but standing up together has got to be tough. Still, maybe the fun is in the process of falling into the brink.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hawaii from the Air

Hawaii Kai (right), a maze of man made canals lined with expensive homes, Koko head crater (left) and the famous Hanauma Bay wildlife preserve (top center) and former hangout for Royalty.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hawaiian Islands

From foreground to Background: Molokai, Maui, Hawaii. A view of the tops of the volcanos of three of the major islands in the Hawaiian Island chain as they rise above the clouds & vog (Kilauea is erupting again...). Notably missing Oahu, Kauai and Niihau.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Last Final for the Semester Tonight

Art along San Diego Bay. Odd thing that. It's colorful, playful, full of motion and generally fun. However, there's a part of me that has a little trouble getting over it being made of old tire rims. Of course, it's not in my back yard so I suppose it really doesn't matter one way or the other.

Last final tonight. Cross your fingers for me.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Rain, Rain, Here to Stay?

Echeveria species after the rain. It's been raining cats and dogs and everything in the yard is covered with dew drops (well, rain drops in this case). It's quite beautiful when they refect the rays of sun that are barely peaking through. The rain's been going for a few days now with lots of wind and cold (for here anyhow) weather. It makes it a little easier to study in front of the computer when it is gloomy out. Less temptation...

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Sea Nettle, Chrysaora fuscescens. Those beautiful tentacles are covered with thousands of stinging nematocysts (stinging cells) used to stun their prey. Dramatically beautiful but not fun to brush up against.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Seashell Mermaid

Seashell Mermaid along San Diego Bay. They have art placed along the water in San Diego Bay. This one was a mermaid with hair made out of seashells taken on a sunny day a while back. Still cold and overcast here but at least the pictures are sunny.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Lobster Waiting for the Pot

Maine Lobster waiting for the pot. Lobsters may live for 30 years or more, at least, if they don't get eaten. This pretty husky lobster was in the fish tank at a restaurant along the bay. I have to admit, I go back and forth between feeling sorry for the poor little guys and thinking they're a heck of a good meal. I suppose they're both valid.

Tonight, however, it was eggplant with mozzarella, mushrooms and tomato sauce plus a teensy bit of ham. One more final to go! I have to admit, I was pretty happy to remove the class recording out of the car's CD player after the first final. I can listen to the radio again, at least until class starts up again. One and half more years of law school. It's fascinating, fun, stimulating and a whole heck of a lot of work. Not much sleep for a year and a half more but I suppose I'll miss it all once it's done.

Chambered Nautilus

Chambered Nautilus, Nautilus belauensis. These cephalopods (members of the squid family) are some of the most ancient critters still around, having been around in the age of the trilobites. Compared to the cuttlefish, a relative, that I posted the other day, you can see that the eye structure looks much simpler and cruder. You may have seen these shells for sale in the store, sliced down the midline (medially). In the center of the spiral is a tiny hole that extends through each chamber. These chambers are filled with air and used to control bouyancy. In their native environment they migrate daily from very deep water during the day to shallow depths during the night to feed, the buoyancy control enabling them to traverse these great depths. I'm not sure if part of the nautilus (the critter) extends all the way back through the different chambers or if the hole is there to pass air in and out of the rear chambers. In either case, it's pretty amazing stuff!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Random Beach Shot of Sunnier Days

Looking down Mission Beach from the Pacific Beach Pier on a bright sunny day.

It's been cold and rainy here. The good news is I don't have to water the yard. The sprinklers are off! The bad news: it is awful hard to get the dog to go outside (and yes, dog does need to go outside to avert calamity) when it is raining outside. OMG, what a fiasco.

Got a plumbing leak somewhere too. Not good. Plumbers crawling around under the house trying to track it down. There goes the Christmas kitty. Gosh, it's hard to save any money. I just need them to get it fixed.

Meanwhile, I had my first final tonight. Done. I think I did a decent job of it but you never know until the grades come back. 6pm-9pm. Came home hungry as a dog but otherwise in good spirits. One more tomorrow so I have to study. That's it for tonight.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Are You Feeling Cuttley?

Pharaoh Cuttlefish, Sepia pharaonis. This little cuttlefish was hovering in mid-water posing for a picture. They're from the West Indies and live mainly on Shrimp. I totally love the opalescent green underbody and the big, sad eyes. They're quite beautiful in an abstract, squidly sort of way.

First final of the semester is tomorrow. It's a quick dinner and back to studying. Next one after that is on Wednesday!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Figurehead on a Wooden 3-Master

Figurehead on a Wooden 3-Master, Maritime Museum, San Diego Bay, California. I didn't find the name of this old 3-Master on its hull but enjoyed the statue on the bow. Those figureheads are a pretty cool custom. Although, I'm not sure how well a figurehead would fit in with those huge, sleek, steel and glass vessels that they have these days.

Apparently, figureheads started off as talismans for good luck and safe sailing. The practice included eyes on ancient Chinese and Egyptian vessels (to find their way to the destination), deities on Phoenician vessels and, later on, even carvings of owner's wives. How's that for company?

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Where do Night Herons Go During the Day?

Night Heron a.k.a. Black-Crowned Night Heron, Nycticorax nycticorax, San Diego, California. Night herons come out at night to fish in the surf. If you go down the beach with a flashlight you'll see them in little groups of 1-3 looking for small fish in the wave wash. They're pretty hard to spot during the day, however, generally keeping out of sight. I spotted this one up high in a huge old Eucalyptas tree by the harbor near Mission Bay.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Brandts on the Wing

Flock of Brandt Geese, Branta bernicula. These geese come all the way down from Alaska and Northern Canada to winter in sunny San Diego. Ironically, I see more of them here then I saw up in Alaska. Could have saved myself some money! Oh yeah, but there were glaciers up there...and humpback whales. Details...

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Love is a Tree

Treeffiti, San Diego Bay, California. Some people will put their names anywhere! These are on a middle aged banyan along the bay. While I don't necessarily condone carving your name on a tree, there is a part of me that wonders who these people were/are, how long ago they carved their names on the tree and what where they doing at the time. Friends on a lark? Lovers on a stroll? How old are they now? Are they happy? Are they still friends? Maybe the next thing to tatooing your lovers name on your arm?

Meanwhile, classes are over for the semester and finals are coming all too soon. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Acineta chrysantha

Acineta chrysantha. These wonderful pendant-flowered, husky-sized orchids come from Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Panama at around 4,000 feet. This one is blooming in my greenhouse.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Fast Little Boat

Coast Guard on Patrol in San Diego Bay. It's a busy bay with all sorts of people going back and forth including sail boats, fisherman, aircraft carriers, freighters and cruise ships. I'm guessing they keep the Coast Guard pretty busy. I also noticed that they have two HUGE outboard motors on that little inflatable vessel so they must really fly when they want to. On that day, they were just taking a leisurely spin.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Cattleya amesthystoglass, my greenhouse. This is a polyploid variety of amesthystoglossa. At least, the parents were counted tetraploids. You can see the ploidy difference in the incredible thickness of the flowers and the added width of the segments. You can see a normal amesthystoglossa at As to which is actually prettier or whether we should be tampering with the genetics of nature, that's a personal thing. However, man's been tampering with genetics for as long as civilation has existed. Ironically, that's how we created those cute, cuddly little dogs and cats and those uber-huge cows, turkeys and chickens. It's also how we created disease resistent and more productive strains of wheat, corn and potatos. In recent years, man's become a bit more efficient and creative about genetics which raises some ethical issues. A mixed bag, I suspect, but most things are.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bandit the Biker Dog

Harley advertising for Bandit the Biker Dog, San Diego, California. Only in California... You've probably seen cars with URLs adverstised on their rear windows. This, however, was the first motorcycle with a URL advertisement on it that I've seen (noted photography benefits of being a passenger; my apologies for the jitter). I was curious enough to actually go to to see what it was all about. It's a sentimental memorial for Bandit the Biker Dog, RIP, and a fundraising page for various charities, the humane society, police and firemen included. Clearly, there's more to this Harley rider and his dog than the movie stereotypes would have you believe. I think it would be fun to talk to some Harley riders and find out more about why they ride and what it's all about. I suspect that bikers are as varied as the rest of us. I'd also bet that many of the answers are sitting right at our fingertips here online.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Grebe Chasing Fish

Western Grebe, Aechmophorus occidentalis, San Diego Bay, California. This little grebe was zigging and zagging underwater with amazingly rapid speed and agility as it chased a school of fairly decent sized fish. It is very different from the wait and surprise technique used by herons and egrets. I could almost imagine ancient pleiosaurs zigging along in similar fashion but after the titanic fish of the time.

Having trouble seeing the bird and the school of fish? Click on the picture for a slightly larger view.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Resting on the Foundation of Giants (literally)

Huge Statue of Sailor kissing a Nurse during shore leave, San Diego Bay, San Diego, California. Okay, so it's not the most profound art but it does kind of fit in with the huge Naval presence in San Diego Bay as well as the miscellaneous maritime museums. One family (lower left) felt that it was an equally nice place to sit down and have lunch. So it's useful too! ...even if only as a park bench. I don't mind it too much. It's kind of a curiosity. Of course, I really don't want to know how much the government spent to fund it. No, I really don't want to know lest I be tempted to suggest that they spend that money on keeping people employed instead. Although I suppose the artist was employed and countless crane operators and site preparation people so maybe they really did intend to spend the money to keep people employed. Hmmmm....?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher, Ceryle alcyon, Mission River, San Diego, California. I saw this guy sitting on a tree overlooking the Mission River. He promptly took flight and hovered in mid-air as he eyed the water below for fish!

Hope your Thanksgiving was a good one!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all and to all, best wishes for warm, joyful holidays spent with those you love.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Architectural Wonder

The Grand Hyatt Shanghai, Jin Mao Tower, 88 Century Avenue,Pudong New Area, Shanghai, People's Republic of China. One of the most beautiful hotels in Shanghai, the Hyatt actually starts in the middle of the hotel (somewhere around the 40th floor if I recall...) with businesses down below. The core is hollow and you can look all the way down to the lobby from the interior hallway adjacent to your room. At night, they light the whole thing up and it goes up so high, you can almost not see the top. If you enjoy architecture, Shanghai is full of awesome buildings from the Asian inspired to the ultra-modern to old European. There is lots to do, lots of shopping and lots to see.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Claire and Her Amazing Lizards

Claire Tietje and her amazing ceramics. Claire said the lizards and rock were all ceramic and that she created that really cool, rock-like finish with a sponge. If not for the hole on the top, I would have sworn it was a rock. The lizards were very realistic too! Wow... See more from Claire and her equally talented husband Gerry at

Natatorium WWI Memorial

Natatorium World War I Memorial, Waikiki, Hawaii. This is the entrace to the Natatorium, a salt water pool created along the beach by dredging out an area and building a pool wall around it. The water in the pool was salt water in free exchange with the ocean. It's been closed for years but they are finally starting to repair and restore it after some twenty years of neglect. I hope to see it open again.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Talmadege Art Show

Hanging Orb by Kelly Zijlstra, Still Lily Designs. There were all kinds of fun, artsy things at the Talmadge Art show in Hillcrest. This one is a hanging garden by Still Lily Designs.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Abalone by Morning...

Abalone on Glass. If you look close, you can see the rough plates or radula, a mollusks equivalent of teeth, that the abalone uses to scrape algae off the rocks. These poor little guys are in decline due to over harvesting, pollution and other issues.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Great Egret

Great Egret, Ardea alba, Mission River Preserve, San Diego, California. These large birds are generally a little shy and will take to wing if you get within a hundred feet or so. They are fun to watch, however, as they stalk through the shallows looking for fish and crustaceans.

Curlew with Crab

Curlew with Crab. I thought Curlews ate worms but they are apparently quite adaptable in their eating habits. This one caught a crab and systematically removed both pincers and most of the legs before, at an almost leisurely pace, gulping down the carapace as one tasty morsel! I snapped pictures in sequence that show the Curlew first grabbing the hapless crab's left pincer, shaking (off goes the left pincer), then grabbing the right pincer, shaking (off goes the right pincer), shaking off a few legs and GULP. We seriously don't give animals anywhere near the credit they deserve for being uncannily smart and adaptable. As for the crab, what a way to go. Ouch.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Long Nosed Wrasse

Long Nosed (Bird) Wrasse, Gomphosus varius, Honolulu, Hawaii. These fish use their long snouts to reach into coral crevices to pull out the small crustaceans that they eat. The males are green and the females are black and white (dimorphic).