My book has now been published as a paperback on Amazon (tinyurl.com/2d5np68m). Now that Kindle accepts .docx manuscripts, the process is a breeze from submission to publication. Kindle tools for cover design are excellent and easy to implement.
I took several 30s time exposures last night of distant high-altitude jets. Their light patterns look like ladders to me when seen up close. Earlier, our first CalFire spotter plane of the season flew overhead. Please enjoy these four pics!
This book is about living Cosmic life, our human birthright, expressed as my spiritual memoir.
Although each of the 170 essays making up this book can be read as its own topic, I have organized them to form a cohesive and comprehensive picture of what Cosmic life is, emphasizing a practical perspective.
This collection of short essays is organized into seven main sections, beginning with my global childhood, spent largely in Southeast Asia. This is followed by reflections on learning and practicing meditation (which I began at 21). Then, after decades of practice, establishing a relationship with one of the greatest saints of our time.
Next, I explore the awareness of what is referred to as Totality, or Brahman, full enlightenment, with perspectives on both the practical skills gained as a result of living Brahman, and the context, the consciousness of this Cosmically oriented life. This leads into a section written about Divinity and the relationships that are critical to live the fullness and glory of a Cosmic life.
Following my perspectives on the abilities, context and key relationships of Cosmic living, are collections of writings reflecting everyday Cosmic life, grouped into four areas of my reflection and experience:
1. California’s Fire Season, 2. My Cosmic Health, 3. National and Global Events, and 4. Living Cosmic Reality.
Rounding out this exposition of Cosmic living is a final group of essays on the implications for a better world as a result of living Cosmic life, and how we are all moving in this direction, without fail.
My purpose in sharing all of this is to illustrate, in a methodical and rational way, the true and vast scope of our human potential, Cosmic living. Exploring, through examples and experience, how to ensure lasting, sustainable fulfillment for ourselves, and for our world.
I first saw the eagle, recognizing the feathers, and then the falcon, a much smaller bird. Both looking for breakfast. Please enjoy these four pictures from this morning, the first two of the eagle and the next two of the falcon:
Because the video is such high resolution, I can capture more details of the major moons this way. Here is a still from 2:45 this morning, showing the relative orbits of the moons and their phases. Enjoy!
Today I was taking pictures of the bullfrogs sunning at Nance Pond. Then I noticed something at the far end of the pond, a Western Pond turtle. I had not seen one here before.
These turtles are California’s only native freshwater turtle species. They are now endangered, with an estimated 25% of the population left. They can live to be 50 years old. I am grateful we have at least one here.
Please enjoy these seven recent pictures – two of Nance Pond, and the remaining five of the turtle:
This morning I was up early and noticed Jupiter was unusually bright. After taking several timed, tripod photos I found one that shows six of Jupiter’s moons, a first for me. The celestial clouds of the Milky Way were also prominent. Please enjoy these two photos!
Taking a reasonably clear picture of the International Space Station (ISS) has been a goal of mine for several years, especially with the clear skies in Paradise and the frequency of observable flyovers, as many as five per night.
The challenges are the intensity of sunlight reflecting from the station, its speed, about 5 mi/8 km per second (at a height of 250 miles/400 km), and relatively small size. It is 361 ft/110 m long and 246 ft/75 m wide, about the size of a football field.
Tonight was an exceptional viewing opportunity, with the station visible for 7 minutes, reaching an arc of 82 degrees, nearly directly overhead. It was just after sunset so the sun was very bright on the station.
Three exposures were my best. The solar panels are clearly visible as is the infrastructure. I used the Nikon P950, 1/800 s. F6.4, handheld. Please enjoy these remarkable views of the ISS:
Especially in hot weather, Nance Pond remains a popular place for the animals. As a child I was always pestering my parents to visit whatever zoo was nearby. Now the animals are steps away. Please enjoy these recent eight pictures of deer and foxes near the pond:
The Sun comes up so early these days, and the Moon and Jupiter are close by. Today I was able to photograph a fifth moon of Jupiter, something that I haven’t seen before. Please enjoy these two pictures from 0500 this morning!
I took a clear picture of Jupiter and its four moons at dawn yesterday, and wanted to share five favorites of these distant planets. Jupiter is ~525M mi/ 845M km away, and Saturn is ~800M mi/1.3B km distant. Please enjoy!
At least two large weather systems are converging over our area, making for an endless show. Here are eight favorites of mine. The first four are from last evening, and the second four are from this morning. Enjoy!
To honor my Norwegian roots, I am celebrating today, May 17th, the national day of Norway. My paternal grandmother was from Norway. Please enjoy this photo of a meteor from last night, as Norway’s holiday had already begun:
I awoke around three this morning and saw that the sky was clear, so a good time to take 30s. time exposures of the Milky Way. Here are my favorite four. In the last photo, the faint vertical track of a satellite can be seen heading northeast. Please enjoy!
Here are seven pictures from my visit, each with a caption. Most are of the island, as that is where my family lived from 1969 to 1972. When our family arrived large demonstrations had just ended – in favor of Mao Tse Tung’s Cultural Revolution. This time the large demonstrations began the day after I left. Good timing!
Here is a striking personification of natural curiosity and focus by a turkey vulture, as it spotted me, and came over for a visit while I was down at the pond yesterday. The wingspan of these birds is about six feet, or just under two meters.
Since coming to Paradise I have felt a kinship with the vultures, who tirelessly and humbly clean the earth of carrion for the rest of us, and they have come to know me too.
Today I pulled the picture card from the camera facing the back meadow, and was very surprised by a sequence of photos taken two seconds apart. In the first, a deer is exiting the frame to the right, and a very bright and focused light appears on the ground like a beam of some sort, behind a large rock. In the second, only the deer is visible, so whatever it was, showed up and left quickly.
This area slopes down into the canyon and pond and there are no man-made structures nearby. If you have any ideas, please share.
I was discussing photography with a friend who is a professional photographer. He favors black and white for his personal work, so this morning I decided to experiment a bit with this picture of a house and the rising moon above it, removing a lot of shadow and most of the color. Enjoy!
The moon wasn’t up until about four this morning, providing a darker night with more stars visible. The glow on the horizon at right is from the Sacramento Valley and Chico (30s. exposure – Nikon P950). Enjoy!
Here are nine recent photos from the Nikon P950. There are three cloudscapes to begin with, then the Spotted Towhee, a large sparrow, hunting in the brush, followed by a jet contrail headed northeast and correcting due north, and a close-up of the plane creating it (a Southwest airlines’ Boeing 737) above 20,000 feet. A shot of the moon is next, with both it’s crescent and shadow visible, then a sunset with the moon visible, and a final thirty second time exposure from last night, looking east across the canyon. Please enjoy!
I took the first three photos just after midnight today, and the fourth one this evening about 9:30 (Nikon P950). I have long been enthralled by the bright moonlight here – so otherworldly. Please enjoy!
PARADISE, Calif. — On Thursday, the Mars rover Perseverance will land on the red planet to begin a two-year mission looking for signs of past life and the potential for future visits by humans.
This new rover is carrying a piece of the Northstate along with it. The spacecraft is embedded with two chips engraved with the words ‘Town of Paradise, California ‘ and ‘Paradise Strong,’, along with the names of the people killed in the 2018 Camp Fire that destroyed most of Paradise. The names of the 85 people killed in the fire are etched in tiny print onto a chip that is about the size of a quarter that will be visible on the rover.
The landing on Mars will happen at 12:55 p.m. California time Thursday, completing the seven-month journey. NASA representative Jerry Stoces visited Paradise in early 2020 to explain the mission and how the town would be represented. On Thursday students in Paradise will be watching a feed from their classroom.
“The NASA Team was very touched by how many lives were affected by this fire,” said Jerry Stoces, a former NASA employee who was part of the effort to including Paradise in the mission. “We felt terrible for the lives lost and we wanted to do something special:”
Stoces said his close childhood friend lived in Paradise and survived the fire. He and others at NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) were inspired by the town’s story and strength in rebuilding.
“You try to take these things we do, these great reaches into space and other planets and try to make it real, and have it be a touchstone for lifting spirits,” Stoces said. “You try to have them be something other than a piece of scientific hardware, You hope it’s something that will help you look beyond the horizon and have a bit of hope, not only a remembrance for those souls that were lost but have a bit of that grit and strength of the community rebounding riding with us too.”
The ‘Paradise Strong’ logo will also be posted in Mission Control as the rover does it’s job roaming the surface of Mars.
“It was a privilege to see the toughness and heart of the community we’re so proud to have them fly with us and be a part of space history forever, that will be on Mars for all time, This rover’s specific purpose is to find out what do we have on that planet than can allow us to extend humanity there.”
Perseverance, the biggest, most advanced rover ever sent by NASA, stood to become the ninth spacecraft to successfully land on Mars, every one of them from the U.S., beginning in the 1970s.
The car-size, plutonium-powered rover was aiming for NASA’s smallest and trickiest target yet: a 5–by-4-mile strip on an ancient river delta full of pits, cliffs, and fields of rock. Scientists believe that if life ever flourished on Mars, it would have happened 3 billion to 4 billion years ago when water still flowed on the planet.
Percy, as it is nicknamed, was designed to drill down with its 7-foot (2-meter) arm and collect rock samples that might hold signs of bygone microscopic life. The plan called for three to four dozen chalk-size samples to be sealed in tubes and set aside on Mars to be retrieved by a fetch rover and brought homeward by another rocket ship, with the goal of getting them back to Earth as early as 2031.
Scientists hope to answer one of the central questions of theology, philosophy, and space exploration.
“Are we alone in this sort of vast cosmic desert, just flying through space, or is life much more common? Does it just emerge whenever and wherever the conditions are ripe?” said deputy project scientist Ken Williford. “Big, basic questions, and we don’t know the answers yet. So we’re really on the verge of being able to potentially answer these enormous questions.”
China’s spacecraft includes a smaller rover that also will be seeking evidence of life — if it makes it safely down from orbit in May or June.
Perseverance’s descent has been described by NASA as “seven minutes of terror,” in which flight controllers can only watch helplessly. The preprogrammed spacecraft was designed to hit the thin Martian atmosphere at 12,100 mph (19,500 kph), then use a parachute to slow it down and a rocket-steered platform known as a sky crane to lower the rover the rest of the way to the surface.
It began snowing last night, wet and heavy. I took some pictures, including one of the dawn yesterday and another of the approaching storm in the afternoon. The wind was very strong last night and we have also “warmed up” by a few degrees, so heavy rain is falling now.
We are just on the snow/rain isotherm here, and tending towards more snow now that Paradise no longer generates as much heat since the fire. Please enjoy these five favorites of mine:
Enjoying this quiet time for rest and rejuvenation. The sky is beautiful and always changing now during early winter. This morning the setting full moon was a special treat before daybreak. Here are five favorites from yesterday and today. Please enjoy! 🙂
My Nikon P900 was well-worn after five years of heavy use, and it was time for a replacement. Thankfully this year Nikon came out with the P950. It is a little heavier but the balance is better, and the performance in terms of speed and resolution is excellent. Same 83x optical zoom, and with a new max 60s. extended exposure capability, which I hope helps with photos of the Milky Way, etc.
Earlier today I was changing out my gamecam chip, and took several pictures of the pond with the P950. Please enjoy! 🙂
I went down to the pond today to swap out the gamecam card, and just as I was off the hill a young buck bolted out of the underbrush to my left. He crossed the path and then stopped. I took his picture and continued on. After I swapped the card out, I noticed a red-tail hawk circling above me and took another picture. I also found pictures of a small deer herd and a few coyotes on the gamecam. Here are five pictures from today and last week. Enjoy! 🙂
Today loosely marks the beginning of the holiday season, one month until winter, and already shorter days, with the sun rising further south. A good time for rest, health, and harmony before the sun returns full-force. Happy Holidays to All! 🙂
It was a beautiful day today, so we took the truck up to Mount Lassen. I summited the mountain in September 2014, and want to again soon. Here are my ten favorite pictures from today, showing several of the peaks in the park – Please enjoy! 🙂
The smoke has died away and we have clean healthy air, though we remain in a severe fire warning condition. The nearby fire is 95 percent contained, however if the wind comes up there is still plenty of fuel left to burn inside the perimeter. The wind has been lighter than forecast, but a proactive power blackout is predicted in two days and we just had one yesterday for about 12 hours.
I continue to say my prayers – not out of desperation, but as a normal part of integration with the natural world; recognition and respect. In the meantime I took a walk in the upper canyon today and took some pictures. Also harvested the gamecam. Please enjoy! 🙂
All of our evacuation orders and warnings have been lifted in Butte County, and the nearby North Complex West Zone fire is about 90 percent contained (not out, though no longer growing). The skies are much clearer and we have even had the windows open all day – haven’t been able to do that since early August. Anyway, the sky was beautiful this evening. Please enjoy these four photos! 🙂
Yesterday, I walked down the hill to swap out my game-cam chip at the pond, and look for visitors’ pictures later on the retrieved one. A lot of wildlife is stopping by, including a bobcat hunting at one in the morning (though I must adjust my night/infrared settings to post pictures of the cat…)
The ducks are gone, and there weren’t many bullfrogs visible either. We do have a lot of deer, no doubt thirsty in the smoky air, and the coyotes. Two bucks came by at the same time, and a doe later. Please enjoy the photos! 🙂
Here is a video flying my UAV (DJI Mavic Pro 2) in Butte Creek Canyon, from the overlook on Skyway.
I began the flight at a ground altitude of 1,100 ft/335 m, and backed into the center of the canyon, then turned the craft WSW and headed nearly a mile down the canyon towards Chico, passing over the covered bridge site. Next I turned 180 degrees, and began flying north towards Paradise.
As the UAV heads north, look for the now extinguished Doe Mill fire (850 acres), visible off to the left above the canyon. I then followed the middle ridge up the canyon to about 1,400 ft/427 m altitude until the battery reached mid-power, and I returned to the take-off point.
Flight Statistics Weather: Clear with light wind – 5 mph/8 kph Distance flown: 7.5 miles/12 km Flight time: 18 minutes Max. altitude from take-off point: 335 ft/102 m Max. altitude above sea level: 1,400 ft/427 m Average speed: 31 mph/50 kph
The soundtrack is ‘Prism 1’ and ‘Prism 2’ from the album ‘Light’ by Alex Theory. Video duration is 16:44. Resolution is 4K/UHD. Now sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight! 🙂
The book is called appropriately The Kiss, by Running Press (c) 1992. One of those tiny ones found in the check-out stand at the book or drug store. As we are spending most of our time indoors, I read it this morning. These are my favorite quotes from the book – Enjoy! 🙂
“There is the kiss of welcome and of parting; the long, lingering, loving, present one; the stolen, or the mutual one; the kiss of love, of joy, and of sorrow; the seal of promise and the receipt of fulfillment.” – Thomas C. Haliburton (1796-1865), Canadian humorist and jurist
” A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous.” – Ingrid Bergman (1915-1982), Swedish actress
“…we embraced each other with – how to say it? – a momentous smiling calm, as if the cup of language had silently overflowed into these eloquent kisses which replaced words like the rewards of silence itself, perfecting thought and gesture.” – Lawrence Durrell (1912-1990), English writer
“I don’t know how to kiss, or I would kiss you. Where do the noses go?” – Dudley Nichols, author of the screenplay, For Whom The Bell Tolls, based on the novel by Ernest Hemingway
“Give me a kiss, and to that kiss a score; Then to that twenty, add a hundred more; A thousand to that hundred; so kiss on, To make that thousand up a million. Treble that million, and when that is done, Let’s kiss afresh, as when we first begun.” – Robert Herrick (1591-1674), English poet
“…my first kiss… I actually asked her permission. She sighed, as in resignation, and then with some impatience she closed her eyes, puckered her lips, and then opened them only long enough to say, ‘Okay, but make it quick,’ whereupon we engaged in the briefest and driest moment in all erotica.” – Phil Donohue, b. 1935, American talk-show host
“Lips only sing when they cannot kiss.” – James Thomson (1834-1882), British poet
“…we kiss. And it feels like we have just shrugged off the world.” – Jim Shahin, 20th century American writer and editor
After my meditation early this afternoon, I noticed a big plume of clouds to the east-southeast. The entire north state is under a red flag warning due to high winds, low humidity, and dry brush, so I was alert. The devastating Camp Fire in 2018 also came from the east.
The wind was relatively strong, about five mph, gusting to fourteen. I sent up the UAV (first photo), but received a high wind warning from the unit, so landed immediately and took the remaining pictures with my Nikon. The sequence is from about two o’clock in the afternoon, until seven this evening. The fire is roughly 24 miles away, a safe enough distance.
Despite this fire, and others, clear wind came from the north today, a welcome relief. Our air quality has improved from a particulate index of 156 (unhealthy) this morning to 32 (good) currently. We are now on back-up power for safety, and should be back on the grid tomorrow evening. Here are eight photographs from today:
I flew the UAV in Butte Creek Canyon yesterday morning, and was quite pleased to be able to render the video in 4K/50 fps., the same resolution and frame rate as the source video.
After painstakingly evaluating several video editing software programs yesterday, Filmora9 by Wondershare is the ONLY one that can edit and export videos in 4K/50 fps, and is rock solid. All other programs cannot handle the buffering requirements of 4K resolution, and quickly become unstable.
My furthest flight way-point was exactly 10,897 feet (3321 m) out, about two miles out from take-off, and my cruising speed was 31 mph/50 kmh. I have been working up to this flight for awhile, studying terrain maps and wind forecasts, and that helped orient me. The canyon is 800 to 1,000 feet deep, with the rim and geologic formations at about 1,200 feet above sea level. Flying behind any formations and losing line-of-sight transmission with the UAV could cause an issue, possibly a crash.
The video is posted on Youtube, and should automatically choose the highest resolution for your device. You can also manually select 4K (2160p50). I recommend full-screen, 16:9 format. The music is “Maha Puja” by David Parsons. Duration is twelve minutes. Please enjoy! 🙂
Today at noon I flew the UAV over Nance Pond and spotted one of the ducks, a very welcome sight. I haven’t seen all four ducks for awhile, and suspect the coyotes or another predator may have taken at least one.
When I last hiked in the canyon, I found two ribs of a deer carcass just off the trail – all that remained in that location. Based on scat, it looks like we have a local mountain lion, which is actually good news.
Here are five pictures of some of the animals who visit the pond. Included is one of the duck and pond, from 110 feet up – Please enjoy! 🙂
The weather is a little cooler today (94 F/34 C), and a lot less smoke, so I went down the hill into the canyon around noon and found a good take-off point. I flew the UAV (DJI Mavic Pro 2) straight out for about a mile and a half and returned, with a cruising speed of 31 mph/50 kmh. [Note: Updated from the original post after I checked my flight record].
The video is edited, dropping it to HD – 1080p (until I upgrade my editing software…). The video is eight minutes long, and the music is “Maha Puja” by David Parsons, from his ‘Yatra’ album. I recommend watching in full-screen. Please enjoy! 🙂
Here near Paradise, we are on the flight path for many helicopters headed north and east, especially the fire crews. A flight level of 1,500 feet clears us by less than 200 feet, so they are close. Nance Pond, behind our house, is a listed Calfire water resource though they have only dipped those orange buckets in a couple of times over the years.
Many fixed-wing and rotor aircraft fly directly over our property. Here are pictures of several helos from yesterday afternoon, and the smoky rising sun this morning. Please enjoy! 🙂
Here is a star trail video (10 s.) from last night, showing a total of eight meteors (the video title is incorrect). Several are just single points of light, or quite faint, though the most dramatic one, a red streak through the center can’t be missed.
I ran the video through an editor and auto-leveled it. The picture is more granular now, though the star trails show up clearly. I recommend watching it full screen. Enjoy!
All continents (except Antarctica) are now represented, with two new additions (in italics), bringing the total countries and territories to 39:
Africa – South Africa
Asia – China, Hong Kong SAR – China, India, Israel, Malaysia, The Maldives, New Zealand, Pakistan, The Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Turkey
Europe – Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia (also in Asia), Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom
The Persied meteor shower is occurring now in the NNE sky until the end of August.
This is how I hunt for meteors: At roughly 2300 on a clear night, I set my camera on its tripod at a best guess angle and direction, and initiate the Nikon P900 “Night sky” program. Then I simply wait while the camera completes its shooting sequence of roughly one frame every ten seconds, for two and a half hours, hopefully coinciding with the speedy arrival of a meteor through the atmosphere. This results in a five second video, which I load into a video editor to capture the still frame of any entering meteors.
Here are three meteor captures from Thursday and Friday nights. All three are shedding material as they enter the atmosphere, showing puffs of light at regular intervals along the tail. One meteor very close to the horizon [image 2] appears to enter at a steep angle and begins to fragment along its trajectory. The light coming in from the right, or East, in each still frame is the rising Moon. Enjoy! 🙂
With humanity so active these days, I like to find natural images too. Here are my favorite six over the last couple of days and nights: A Red-tailed hawk feather, planets, a lizard on a rock tower twice, Jupiter, and a red Moon I found the hawk feather walking Nance Canyon. Please enjoy! 🙂
Last night the moon was nearly full, and forming a triangle with Saturn on its left, and Jupiter on the right. So I decided to take the Mavic Pro 2 up to 390 feet (just below my maximum ceiling), hover, and take some pictures.
Here are three photos, moving from southwest to southeast. The photos were taken close to 2200, and the slim orange band on the western horizon is the remains of the setting sun. Please enjoy! 🙂
Here are my four final pictures of the Comet NEOWISE taken July 18th, before it left us for awhile, due back in 6,800 years (all 60s. time exposures using the Panasonic LUMIX).
Last night I was also able to take my clearest photo of Saturn yet. I had the Nikon set manually (f/8 and ISO 400) and kept playing with the shutter speed until I could get a focused shot at 1/30 s. without a lot of sun glare. Also took a very clear picture of Jupiter with a star halo and three moons. Enjoy! 🙂
Here is my first video (3:43) flying in Nance Canyon with the Mavic Pro 2 drone (shown below), with Gail as spotter using binoculars. After about 400 feet out, even against a clear sky, the drone is impossible to see unaided.
The video is 4K quality and too big to upload directly, so I have embedded the Youtube video (4K) below the drone photo. Please watch full-screen.
I picked out this spot to fly because the land slopes down rapidly to the west, making obstacle avoidance easy. The entire flight was at a height of only 20 to 30 feet above the take-off point, and I just flew straight out from there. Please enjoy!
Here are six recent photos from Paradise – A buck looking in our window yesterday, coyotes from the game-cam at Nance Pond, and a composite shot from last night showing several Starlink (Space-X) satellites in orbit. It is always magic to see the larger animals around here, and celestial objects.
About seventy years ago, the science-fiction writer and scientist Arthur C. Clarke theorized that if a satellite were launched into orbit at an altitude of 22,300 miles, its position would be geostationary, orbiting synchronously with the earth – continuously hovering above the same patch of geography, and could be used reliably as a transmission station for any data transfer within its footprint. This is our current reality for most global transmission, with undersea cables tying the multiple satellite footprints together.
An alternative is to send thousands of smaller satellites into non-geosynchronous low earth orbit (LEO), about 300 miles up, to orbit faster than the earth and serve as cell towers in space, facilitating communications for whatever area of the earth they are passing over.
Although this allows a corporate monopoly on such a transmission network, and removes the latency encountered with satellites in geostationary orbit, it requires a HUGE number of satellites. Sixty of them have been launched so far under the Starlink plan, with 1,600 more planned as a first phase. The full Space-X build out is for 12,000 satellites, with 30,000 more approved after that. This is just one corporation’s effort, with others ready to go.
Although the small size of these 500 lb. satellites allows multiples to be launched at a time, this requires far more rocket launches, interferes with observations of deep space due to the large number of reflective objects transiting the night sky, and due to the far shorter lifetimes of LEO sats, this results in a near constant “rain” of space debris back into our atmosphere.
I personally hope we can find an alternative to these mega-fleets of mini-satellites.
I was pleased to be able to take the Saturn photographs, 830 million miles away, as it is tricky to get the right light and focus, even with a tripod (Nikon P900 – ISO 400, 1/60 s., F 6.3, manual focus). My Jupiter and four moons rising video is 2:26 tonight, as I caught Jupiter further from the horizon. Please enjoy!
The sky has been so clear lately as the Summer season quickly dries out the land, creating fewer clouds. Even a half-moon casts so much light. The last photo is a video still of Jupiter and four of its moons from early this morning. Enjoy!