Saturday, January 31, 2009

Fleeting Glimpses

Passing Swimmer, Waikiki Beach. So what's a photographer to do. Here I am floating with my trusty underwater camera when, to the sound of huge splashes, this man swims by chasing all my fish away? When confronted by lemons, make lemonade, right? There was only one "fish" left to take a picture of ya go! Biggest fish I saw all day!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Iron Camel

Iron Camel. The SD Zoo had these huge metal sculptures on sale. I thought the camel was cute. Still, no matter how cute, I had a hard time imaging putting a rusting iron sculpture in the yard. I would much rather stick to large porcelain pots or carved wooden figurines. I suppose you could convince me into a painted, waterproof camel. Something that would last a while before becoming a rusty, sharp edged hazard. It's all personal taste I suppose. Besides, who the heck has money these days to spend on a rusty camel??? You know what they say: ...for rust thou art, and unto rust shalt thou return...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Harlequin Duck

Harlequin Duck, Histrionicus histrionicus. I saw a pair of Harlequin Ducks in the Prince William Sound (Alaska). We had hiked up along the steep mossy banks of a rapidly flowing, cold river, surrounded by huge, lichen-covered conifers. At the top of the rise, there was a placid, icy lake obscured by a thin, wispy coating of white mist that danced in the light breeze. There, on the far side of the lake, under the cover of some waterside shrubs was a pair of Harlequin Ducks. I could see their bold markings and steely grey and red-brown plumage from across the lake. They paddled idly in the still water, far out of reach of everything but the camera and remained small in my sight, even then. They seemed to have not a care in the world and for a moment, neither did I.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bonobo Blues

Bonobo. Do you wonder what these little Bonobos are thinking, with their far off glazy, day dreamy stares?

You're probably thinking this looks like a chimp. If so, you're not alone. Apparently, both Chimps and Bonobos both live along the Zaire/Congo river, Bonobos to the South and Chimps to the North. The Chimps compete with Gorillas for food and thus form smaller groups which roam a wider area for food. The Chimps tend to be more competitive with each other and perhaps more violent including infanticide, invasion and cannibalism. The lovable Bonobos to the South of the river have the lowland rainforest (and hence all the food) to themselves, the Gorillas having left long ago due to an ancient drought. The Bonobos, having the luxury of abundant food, are able to form social groups and strong bonding, particularly between females, possibly for mutual protection. Social sex is common. The combination of these behaviors could explain the virtual absence of infanticide.

The bonobo is more slender than a chimp and has longer limbs and a slimmer appearance as well as a rounder face. They're about the same size as chimps and most people, including myself, have a hard time telling them apart. The big differences appear to be behavioral as mentioned above. Bonobos do not hunt monkeys for food like Chimps do. They apparently have been seen grooming and interacting with monkeys instead.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Une Cuvette Repérée Bleue

Une Cuvette Repérée Bleue. In English, blue spotted bowl. Hmmm... Did I get it right? Anyhow, another really beautiful ceramic creation by the other half who, after being laid off, has used the unplanned free time to dive into pottery, create a pottery web site and look for a job. The economy absolutely stinks right now but I suppose every dark cloud has a silver lining. If you want to know more about similar pottery, click here. I suppose being laid off isn't all bad. Of course, the photography was done by by yours truly.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Whistling Duck

Whistling Duck, Dendrocygna viduata. This adorable little duck is native to South America and Central Africa. It's named for this adorable, distinctive, tri-part, high-pitched whistle that I cannot quite figure out how to describe in words (but I could whistle it for you, given half a chance!). Two short trills followed by a longer trill that descends in frequency. I've never heard one quack, just whistle. They seem quite sociable and prolific and are cute to boot as well.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Riding the Pipe Overtime

No, it is not a shark. It is not a turtle. It is a surfer surfing under the curl of the wave.

There is a thrill to riding inside of the curl of the wave. I suppose part of that thrill is knowing that sometimes, the curl catches up with you. You can see this guy just barely peeping through the wave.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Happy Year of the Ox

Happy Year of the Ox. Are you an Ox? If so, what kind of Ox? Did you know that the Chinese Zodiac has different elemental categories for the zodiac? Oxes split up as follows:

January 25, 1925 - February 12, 1926: Wood Ox
February 11, 1937 - January 30, 1938: Fire Ox
January 29, 1949 - February 16, 1950: Earth Ox
February 15, 1961 - February 4, 1962: Metal Ox
February 3, 1973 - January 22, 1974: Water Ox
February 20, 1985 - February 8, 1986: Wood Ox
February 7,1997 - January 28, 1998: Fire Ox

The Ox is characterized by prosperity via hard work. They are dependable leaders who perservere. They are calm and modest, patient and tireless. The Ox enjoys his peace and quiet to work through his ideas. When the Ox has made up his mind, he may be a bit stubborn. The Ox is logical and systematic, quiet and intelligent but is capable of eloquent expression.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Diving Around

Spotted Boxfish, Ostracion melealgris, male. This little spotted boxfish is quite a beauty to see in person with the bright blue and polka dots. The females are a nice fawn brown. They can be see hovering around the reef most days looking for small crustaceans.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Old and New

Old masted sailing ship against the San Diego skyline. It's odd to see the two together, isn't it? Two of them were ferrying tourists around the bay and staging fake cannon attacks against each other. They seem so slow compared to the modern boats but people got by fairly well nonetheless.

What is the New Minority?

I was joking about similarities and differences between our new president and myself in a prior blog. Ironically, the line of thought ended with my being even more uncertain what being a minority really means in this day and age. Is it just the color of your skin? Surely in an era where you may express yourself in many different ways, skin color is not always apparent. Is it your upbringing? Is it a cultural difference? Is it represented by how many generations your family has been in America?

Let's take a little look at that just for fun. (Don't get me wrong, I really like our new president. I'm just making a point).

High School:
Obama - Most expensive private school in Honolulu
Me - Public school in Honolulu

Obama - Harvard Law School
Me - Standard Engineering School, USD Law School

Raised by:
Obama - White mom and White Grandmother
Me - 4th generation US parents

Obama - Politics/Law
Me - Law/Engineering/Business

You should be forming an odd picture at this point. If you ignore the skin color, neither of us is very ethnic at all. The words Hoho and Twinkie come to mind (never mind if you didn't get the joke). What do we really understand about very ethnic, recent immigrants? Perhaps we have more empathy because of the discrimination we sometimes face due to skin color or other reasons. However, integrated is an understatement.

So what did we really prove in this election? On the surface, at least, that a majority of us can get beyond the color of one's skin. That's a big step. Also, perhaps that we are willing to vote for relative youth (47 is youthful as presidents go). These things are indeed hopeful. Still, I must laugh at least a little bit in thinking that Mr. Obama did indeed get the last laugh in more ways than one as he pulled in the vote from people of color. He's got at least one foot in the majority camp culturally, ethnically & socioeconomically. Let's hope the other foot is still on equal ground.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Godwits and Plovers on the wing. Gosh but I love those Winter days when all the migratory birds are ambling around the beach in huge flocks! What a sight. I wish it could last forever. Every Winter anyhow.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Obama rumors for inauguration day:
1. Our president elect was on Oahu at the same time as the Wayward Hawaiian.

2. Both stayed at beautiful seaside resorts.
False. President Obama stayed at a multimillion dollar mansion on Kailua bay. The Wayward Hawaiian stayed with his Mom.

3. Both feasted on only the best Hawaiian food!
No idea. However, if he didn't, I certainly had a piece of Haupia pie (or two or three) for him!

4. Both were trailed by hordes of paparazzi.
False. Poor President Obama hardly had a single private moment at the beach without sneaky paparazzi snapping shots of him in a swimsuit. For shame for shame... The Wayward Hawaiian was staying in Honolulu proper, far away from the craziness and the crazy traffic.

5. Both suffered through a power outage.
True. However, President Obama had not one but two private generators. The Wayward Hawaiian had a battery powered latern and good company to chat with.

Overall, I'd guess I had more fun. Ironic isn't it? Multi-million dollar mansion on Kailua bay and you can barely enjoy it? He's got all our hopes and some sympathy as well. The presidency does not look like a fun job, sycophants, paparazzi, perks and all.

Sailing on San Diego Bay

Sailboat on San Diego Bay. For you cold weather folks, doesn't that make you want to come and visit? Spend a little money and help get the economy going! Visit San Diego. It's been warm and sunny and there are lots of migratory birds that you'd have to go to Alaska to see otherwise. Besides, you'd have to wait until June to see them in Alaska! Hahah. San Diego, vacation capital of California.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Le Vase Bleu

Blue Vase, two tone glaze. If you had to guess, what do you think someone would pay for this very pretty blue vase? Hand thrown and glazed.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Where Are All The Bees

Honey bee (Apis)on Gaillardia. This little honey bee is jammed full of pollen. Overall, I see fewer honey bees these days. I don't know if it is due to colony collapse disorder or not. Some claim that colony collapse disorder is caused by a combination of factors such as changing climate/global warming, pesticides and environmental pollutants. Others look to parasites and diseases. I, for one, wonder if the modern trend of bee keepers taking their hives from farm to farm to provide pollination services is a contributing factor. If it is a pathogen, those mobile bees would spread it nationwide in short order. Only time will tell.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Marbled Godwit

Marbled Godwit, Limosa fedoa. These guys were busy pulling food out of the sand with their long, thin beaks. I suspect they are eating small worms and crustaceans but have no idea how they can tell when they've found something.

Hawaiian Style

Laying back and relaxing after a day on Waimanalo Beach. They might get you for hanging 10 without a seatbelt in San Diego but nobody in Hawaii minded the keiki (kid) enjoying a relaxing ride in the sun in the back of the truck.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Something Special

White Koi, Wahiawa, Hawaii. This little Koi was jumping just a little higher to get his dinner. As for us, it's always nice to think we stand out from the crowd as just something a little bit special, each in our own way. Everyone has a something to be proud of and people that care for them just as they are. When times are tough, it's good to remember that we are all worthwhile and that there are people who love us.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


California ground squirrel peaking from behind a boulder in Imperial beach. I think there's a whole family of them living under a couple of boulders. Every now and then one pops up his head to peak at the curious people.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Seagull chasing a Tern. This seagull decided it was easier to intimidate a tern out of his rightfully caught fish than it was to catch one on his own. The seagull chased that tern for a long time and that tern was not giving in. I watched them fly off into the distance, the tern still holding on and found myself rooting for the tern. Sometimes nature mimics life.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Suft Scoter

Surf Scoter or "skunk-duck"; Melanitta perspicillata. Found these guys hovering around the Imperial Beach pier during a very low tide. They were diving for seaweed off the bottom. I first saw these ducks up in the Prince William Sound in Alaska. Ironically, after spending all that money to go up to Alaska to see the wildlife, I find that the birds, at least, spend their Winters in San Diego. Go figure.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Caught the Photography Bug

Photographer in the Surf. This photographer was standing in the water in a wetsuit snapping pictures of the surfers yesterday. I had to chuckle at bit, thinking about the heavy back packs, stubbed toes, dunks in the water, kayaks and other craziness I've been through to get a good picture. Yep, we're a crazy breed. Still, it was nice to know I'm not alone.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Sunny Days in San Diego

Coronado Bridge over Downtown San Diego. We had a beautiful, sunny, clear day today. It was shorts and T-shirts weather. Admittedly, the water was still a bit cold but then, hey, it's not Hawaii. It was clear enough to snap this shot from miles down the coast in Imperial Beach and still see downtown!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Pot of Gold

Golden bromeliads beneath a Wahiawa rainbow. Well, I couldn't find that doggone pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. With this economy, the menehunes (mythical little people in Hawaii) probably spent it. However, there were some beautiful golden bromeliads (Portea species?) in full bloom and that was good enough to put a smile on my face.

Little Jewels

Dendrochilum propinquum. This little plant is about 8 inches tall with cascading spikes of some 70+ quarter inch (or maybe 3/8") flowers each. The flowers are a translucent tawny green with the brightest orange column. Cute, cute, cute and in bloom now. Cool stuff. They grow in Philippine forests at around 2000 ft elevation.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Surfing Sunset Beach

I spent and hour or so snapping a few shots at Sunset Beach, Oahu. I had to hoof it down the beach to get to the close in break. However, it was worth the walk. Some of the surfers there were totally amazing.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Have You Seen a Ghost?

Ghost Crab, Ocypode pallidula. These little crabs patrol the beach for scraps and are quick to dive back into their burrows when threatened. This one was on the beach near Chinaman's Hat, Hawaii.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Checking In

Dendrochilum bicallosum. I peeked in the greenhouse. Overall, it was cold and nasty in there so I bit the bullet and upped the thermostat. I'll hate myself when the electric bill comes.

This tiny little Dendrochilum was in bloom with flowers somewhere around 1/4-3/8 inch. They glisten like stardust and look really cool when you enlarge the photo to see the details (which would otherwise escape my less than perfect eyes).

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Valley of the Temples

Byodo-In Temple Replica in Hawaii's famous Valley of the Temples. Ground breaking ceremonies were on January 12, 1966 and the dedication ceremonies were on June 7, 1968, roughly 100 years after the first Japanese immigrants arrived in Hawaii.

This is also the home of the friendly black swan pictured a few days back and some very voracious koi. There is a large golden Buddha in the temple to whom guests may offer incense offerings. The gift shop also does a decent business in Koi food for the fish and birds.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Booby or What?

Red-Footed Booby, Brown Phase, Sula sula or, in Hawaiian, 'A. I was thinking this looked like a red-footed booby but it wasn't white. The old switcharoo thing. So I hunted it down in the literature and apparently there are different color phases of Red-footed bobby birds including a white phase, a brown phase and a brown phase with white tail. This one is real friendly and hopped up on the boat to beg for snacks. Perhaps he was hand raised by people?

Friday, January 02, 2009

The Uncommonly Delicious Kumu

The Whitesaddle Goatfish, Parupeneus porphyreus, or Kumu in Hawaiian. This one was under a coral ledge in Waikiki.

Kumu is one of the most popular and, these days, uncommon of the goatfish in Hawaii. Its soft, flaky, white meat is treasured in Hawaii and, even when I was a kid, was considered quite a catch when you could find one. You don't see many anymore, probably doomed by their own tastiness. The ancient Hawaiians offered kumu to the gods because of their red color, which was meaningful for rituals. The few I saw were hiding under coral ledges as opposed to their more free ranging goatfish cousin, the moana, which could be seen freely roaming the reef during the day.

New Day, New Fish

Pipefish, Waikiki, Hawaii. The water was rough and murky so it's hard to see the colors but this little guy has a bright yellow tail. He was hanging out below the reef ledge waiting for food to float by. These are pretty uncommon in Hawaii, this being the first I've ever seen in the wild anyhow. I hunted around on the Internet and didn't find a latin ID so he'll just have to go nameless for now.

For the pipefish neophytes in the audience, pipefish are related/similar to seahorses. They suck in their prey (i.e., no teeth) and, as with the seahorses, raise their young in a brood pouch on the male until they are large enough to survive on their own. If anyone knows the name of this little pipefish (about 6-8 inches long), please let me know.