DWR Briefing on the Oroville Dam

This is an interesting briefing video from about noon today. Tech Talk about the problems and what they are doing.

Interesting to note that the powerhouse is closed down so that water backing up (from the debris from the spillway) won’t be a problem…

Update: This is a KCRA video of the same original update on 11 Feb:

And I’ve added the Evacuation Briefing:

I also find it interesting they say that the power plant can’t run disconnected from the grid, and the power lines go out over the spillway with a tower at risk. Right now, the power plant is shut down and water can’t be run through it. The main spillway is being limited to about 55,000 CFS to prevent too rapid decay. That leaves only the Emergency Spillway to take anything over the limited run down the regular spillway…

Then the spillways are building a pile of sediments in the pool at the bottom and that threatens to back up water into the powerhouse. So they are looking at how to dredge while all this is going on.

I’m glad it isn’t my problem to solve…

Added image of Emergency Spillway profile:

Weir profile

Weir profile

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Posted in Emergency Preparation and Risks, News Related | Tagged , , , | 120 Comments

Dividing The 9th

How would you do the division?


The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (in case citations, 9th Cir.) is a U.S. Federal court with appellate jurisdiction over the district courts in the following districts:

District of Alaska
District of Arizona
Central District of California
Eastern District of California
Northern District of California
Southern District of California
District of Hawaii
District of Idaho
District of Montana
District of Nevada
District of Oregon
Eastern District of Washington
Western District of Washington

It also has appellate jurisdiction over the following territorial courts:

District of Guam
District of the Northern Mariana Islands

Now I could see an issue with carving out the liberal western districts in that you make an even MORE socialist / progressive court of appeals that will make even loonier rulings and be overturned even more. Yet the folks in the more conservative parts of this district have been having this crap shoved down their throats so long they would just love to be set free of it (and many cases about their local needs would be brought up their chain of courts anyway).

The present push is to split it in half. IMHO that doesn’t go far enough.

What would I do? Well, first off, I’d make the 12th out of:

District of Idaho
District of Montana
District of Nevada
District of Arizona
Eastern District of California
Eastern District of Washington

That lumps all of the mountain areas more or less together. If possible, split Oregon into east and west too, lumping the east in here.

In the 9th, I’d leave all the islands and Pacific Ocean / maritime oriented bits:

District of Alaska
District of Hawaii
District of Guam
District of the Northern Mariana Islands

These areas are highly interested in things having to do with ocean fishing rights and maritime law. Native rights cases too. I suspect they would put their new headquarters in Hawaii…

Then renumber the ‘rump’ of the 9th as the 13th district:

Central District of California
Northern District of California
Southern District of California
Western District of Washington
District of Oregon

If possible, put the new Western District of Oregon in here too. Further, I’d love to split off all the northern rural areas of the Northern District of California from it and put them in the 12th. That would leave the 13th with the SF to LA and related areas, mostly, and similar philosophical areas of Washington and Oregon.

For those who have not visited here, the large coastal cities of Washington, Oregon, and California tend to be very liberal / progressive / Democrat dominated; while the less populated rural inland areas tend much more to the conservative / Republican POV. There are variations, but not much. There is a constant resentment by the inland areas toward their domination by a few coastal elites in a few major cites. So my major goal in this division it to give those areas legal freedom from that domination, to the extent possible.

Note that the “Central” district is in fact down around L.A. as San Bernardino / Santa Barbara areas. Southern is the bit just below L.A., a very old view of California…

So why not put Alaska into the Mountain states? Mostly due to the largely empty inland and the huge coastline. It is much more coastal / ocean oriented in many ways and fisheries are a major industry.

So that’s my ‘cut’ at it. Other ideas?

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Posted in Political Current Events | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Is Honesty, Valuing Truth, and Fairness Hereditary?

The title is somewhat just a rhetorical device. An unanswerable hypothetical at our present level of understanding of heredity. But it pokes at a confession I must make. I have been wrong about one of the surnames in my family tree.

Somewhere along the line I was told it meant “Orphan”, and just figured that line of the ancestry would be forever muddied by someone having been an orphan and that was that. I don’t remember who told me or when, as it was way back before tracking attribution mattered to a little kid. But wherever it came from, that was not the truth.

This last month we had a family party for the winter birthdays. (6 or 7 of them inside 2 months, more if you add one more month…) My sister has done a big genealogy / ancestry search on the family. Over dinner, it was discussed, including the Irish line of the family. That’s when I found out the real origin of the family name. The etymology of it is not orphan, but “son of the judge”. Breheney. Though it can be spelled many ways:



No wonder I can’t spell worth a damn… I come by it honestly given that this part of the clan can’t even keep their own name straight…


Has an annoying pop-up for their “newsletter” user information phish, so I’m quoting enough you won’t need to hit the link…

Last name: Breheny

This interesting surname is of Irish origin, and is derived from the Gaelic “Mac an Bhreitheamhnaigh”, meaning son of the judge. The name was first phonetically Anglicized as Mac Evrehoona, Mac Vrehonne and Mac Brehon, but today it has generally become Judge.

BTW, that kind of extreme variation in what any given bit of Gaelic gets turned into in the anglicizing is common. So not too hard for someone to get a completely different translation if they try to pick it up in the middle with an off spelling, which is what I suspect may have happened to whomever it was told me a tail as a child.

The surname is common is Counties Sligo and North Roscommon and many examples occur in the birth registers of a family using Breheny and Judge indifferently. The Cormac Mac an Brehon, recorded below, whose death was recorded in the Four Masters in 1483, was the “intended ollave (learned man) of Muintir Maelruain” which was a population group comprising the families of Mac Dermot of Moylurg, Mac Dermot Roe, Mac Dermot Gall and Mac Donagh of Tirerril, in County Sligo. One Eugene Mac Brehan was Bishop of County Mayo from 1541 to 1561.

Now given that my people came from county Mayo (long long ago, long ago…) it looks like we might even be related to a Bishop. Don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing… but one hopes he isn’t an ancestor, given vows and all… ;-)

The surname can be found as Breheny, Breheney, Brehany, Brehon, Brehan and Judge. Among the recordings in Ireland is the christening of Richard, son of Hugh Breheny, on March 9th 1743 at St. John’s, County Limerick. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Cormac Mac an Brehon, which was dated 1483, Tirerril, County Sligo, Ireland, during the reign of King Henry V1 of England, “The Founder of Eton”, 1422 – 1485. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to “develop” often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

All of which leaves me just a little spun. From orphan to Son Of Judge in one swift rotation.

But in many ways “it just fits”.

My whole life folks have trusted me. I’ve been given all sorts of duties that required trust and could not really explain why. But something in my core being just can not abide breaking a trust. So I don’t. So people notice, and I get more such duties.

Similarly, I don’t like taking sides before there is good evidence and reason to do so. I prefer to “withhold judgement until the facts are in”. I like to treat both sides fairly and keep personal insults and emotional floor-shows out of it. I believe in “seeing both sides from their perspective” BEFORE choosing which one to endorse. (Often both are right from their POV and you simply must choose the lesser harm). I like exploring a side fully, even if I think it wrong, and come to a complete understanding of it.

While I am capable of deception, I don’t like it, and reserve it only for when the greater good demands it. (So I’d not have a problem lying to a border guard to get my family out of a despotic country bent on murder, but if the same border guard asked if I had anything to declare would likely say “Sure, I bought a case of whiskey at the duty free shop” even knowing that would cost me a few bottles…) Something about deception is “just wrong”.

As a very core value I hold that “What I want does not matter.” and “The truth just is.” and “The facts just are.”. And of course you’ve all seen me say “It isn’t about me.” All things you would expect from a Judge.

When I look over how I treat the world, it does look remarkably like the rules of a courtroom.

So that leaves me to wonder just how much of that kind of thing is hereditary, and how much came to me from family values. I’m fairly sure the “calm and centered” is a hereditary nature, similarly the desire to take in all the details that exist (that borderline high function Aspe thing). But trust? Fairness? “Speak your piece but politely and my agreement with your POV isn’t important”? Or how about “That just is not true.”? It doesn’t “Fit with the other known facts”. I can see a consistency filter being hereditary, but also familial. To what extent are we born with the traits for a given role, and to what extent is it familial grooming? Does that matter?

One other sidebar:

On Mum’s side we have “Summoner to the Court” – or the Royal Bounty Hunter… On Dad’s side the Judge. Though originating in different islands, and being separated by an ocean for a couple of hundred years, here we have two lines of the family that originated near each other and working the courts, rejoining a few thousand miles away in an alien land. Accident of history? Similar inherent values bringing them together as shared culture? One wonders.

If “shared culture”, then how to explain the Blacksmith line? They were the arms industry of that era, and they did make(and break) the locks and keys, so also had to be trustworthy folks. (Though it also lead to the cheeky snark of calling the skeleton key “The Blacksmith’s wife”… he who makes the chastity belt can open it too…)

On To The Future

So now I’m looking at my family history and my own history just a little bit differently. Not an ancestral orphan looking for an anchor, but a judge trying to keep folks calm and sort out the injustices. And a Smith, forging systems that work and making locks & keys for decent security. Doing what my ancestors have done for hundreds (thousands?) of years, but in a new computer context. And having that “it just fits” moment.

This also is interesting in the light of my Master Druid certification. The Druids were the learn’d class. They came in a few variations, from the Bards who were the recorders of history and news, to the judges who settled disputes. The name now tells me that my ancestors were of the Druid Judge class. Yet another semi-compulsive interest driven from the mists of time? I had no reason to go that route prior, yet did, and now I find it is ancestral…

To what extent is our future driven by our past, even if we do not know that past? If personal experience is any guide, it isn’t locked on rails, but the general direction is familiar…

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Posted in Human Interest | Tagged , , , | 17 Comments

9th Circus Court Rules No Travel Block

So the 9th Circus Court of Appeals has ruled that the stay of Trumps Executive Order is to be held in place until the issue is heard and resolved in court. Essentially they are forcing open borders as long as any legal process is happening.

OK, IMHO we’re seeing the opening salvo of how the Democrats intend to use the legal system to block everything they can. Sue in as many venues as possible until one of them rule the way they like, then let it go up the appeals process in as slow a pace as possible.

One Talking Head on Fox Business said Trump can just write a new E.O. every day. I’m not so sure. Usually there’s an “And any substantially similar” clause in court actions blocking things. Is an E.O. different in that regard?

IMHO Trump hurt his own case by insulting a Judge while a case was being heard. Judges, in my experience, are vain, petty, sensitive, and with ego problems, so will have immediately wanted to side with a ‘fellow judge’. Oh Well.

One hopes the Senate realizes this game is afoot and gets the Supremes up to 9 as quickly as possible; using the Nuclear Option of a rules change if needed. This week would be nice… ( I know that functionally means tomorrow…)

IMHO the statute as read out (about a dozen times) in the White House Press Briefing could not be more clear. President can ban any entrance by any foreigner or any identifiable group of foreigners as he sees fit for purposes of US Safety.

Then there are those “High Tech” companies asserting they NEED free inflow of immigrants from those 6 countries or will suffer dire harm. Oh Really? And just how many C Programmers and Ph.D. Computer Science have you hired this year from Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Iran & Iraq? Really. I doubt that number even rises to “one”. India is the center of that H1B Visa scam (and it is a scam) and India is not on the list.

So what’s a President to do? Guess I’d try writing an E.O. a day, each one ever more selective and precise. So one each for each country, specifically exempting green card holders. Then one exempting folks “approved” by the local embassy (what? No embassy in Iran? Oh, well…)

We will also get to see if the Senate has any brains left… In the “Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way” Trump is leading, Democrats are standing in the way, so Republicans, are you standing with the Democrats (and against the people…) or are you going to follow and support Trump? We’re watching…

So one time there was a movement to break up the 9th as it covers a huge area (set before all the people moved out here). Maybe it’s time to restart that. I’m sure places like Idaho, Montana, Arizona etc. would love to not have those clowns leading their legal parade. Maybe time to shrink it to just Washington, Oregon, and California… and maybe Hawaii. All the coastal places, and leave the inland areas to have their own appeals court.

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Posted in Political Current Events | Tagged , , , , | 43 Comments

Is it time to buy, or sell, or what?

Some article or three back, Serioso was complaining that I’d not made a spread sheet of every single buy / sell call I’d made so he could decide how stupid I was. (I suggested he go do that work, as I had it all open and public… but I didn’t point out that when I was regularly doing the WSW articles I’d review my performance from the prior article in the next one of them…)

So here as a bit of a “Well, what have you done for me lately?” is a review of my last “time to buy” call, and some speculation about the future. Folks who are regulars will remember we were all intently watching the election. In that thread, in comments (once we had an idea what was happening) I’d stated:

E.M.Smith says:
9 November 2016 at 4:04 am
The time to buy will be in the next day or two…I’ll post graphs tomorrow…

Then didn’t get the time to post graphs, so put up a hurried comment:

E.M.Smith says:
9 November 2016 at 8:18 am
About 10 pm pdt is when to buy stocks IMHO. The market futures are down. That ought to hold through the open, then about 10 pdt it ought to reverse.

A bit unclear as I had PM instead of AM on the first mention (about futures so actually talking about that night, then), then nothing on the second, but in fact at about 10 PM in the futures market was the best buy moment, then when markets were open, at about 10 AM in the general market was a good time too. Which was what I was thinking when my AM and PM collided… Though 10 “market time” is what I ought to have said. By 1 PM market time (10 AM PT) we were already rising.

But for anyone but a day trader, that level of precision to the hour is not very important. Here’s the hourly chart for that week:

SPY vs Mix of Tickers, Election 2016 hourly

SPY vs Mix of Tickers, Election 2016 hourly

Gee, at 10 Eastern PM in the futures market was the best time to buy, but 10 AM ET ( or 7 PDT ) wasn’t too bad either.

There was a drop in bonds (TLT) and gold (GLD) with a rise in equities. Looks like a whale was positioned for “bad things” and needed to cover stock shorts fast (Mr. Soros perhaps?).

And what has happened since then?

SPY vs Mix of Tickers Feb 2017 6 month daily

SPY vs Mix of Tickers Feb 2017 6 month daily

Well, gee, the market (SPY) was drifting down right up to November day after the election, then has been in a nice uptrend since.

OK, I blew it on the “exact hour” call as I couldn’t keep my AM / PM / ET / PT etc. swapping straight. Fair enough on that. But on the “what day” it was spot on, and I doubt many of you are day trading based on hourly information from a web page you read once a day or so… (IF you are, you need to start doing your own charts and with 15 minute ticker updates…)

So is calling the market turn to the day good enough? I hope so…

Note the huge volume spike (black bar, so on a rising market day) on the day after the election.

The Market Now

Well, reading that last chart there’s a bunch of interesting things on it. Copper (JJC) has rocketed up. That means the miners will be making more money AND it is a general indication of expected economic upturn. Think Daddy Warbucks saying “Copper! Copper! Buy more Copper!”… the movie and story have that right. DIA (Dow Jones Industrial 30) and QQQQ (NASDAQ 100) both rising faster than SPY is also bullish. Even EEM Emerging Markets has started to climb in the last couple of months as the idea we might need more of their stuff sinks in (and as the $US has softened some). Bonds TLT laying on the bottom, as you would expect facing rate hikes from The Fed.

Yet there are some little worries. Volume is fading in the last week, while volatility compresses (those price bars getting shorter and more like a dash than a box). That happens at local tops and more so at major tops, but can happen anytime the market isn’t decided on which way to head. It can just indicate a battle of buyers and sellers and not indicate who will win.

The MACD shows a beautiful crossover ‘below zero’ and rise to above zero on the rocket ride, then settles into a sideways weave above zero which is a stable steady rising market. (Do note the mid December to mid January red-on-top ‘be out for the holidays’ that is typical).

ADX / DMI is still “blue on top – be in”, but that black ADX line is showing weaker trend strength. At 10 to 12 it is saying “not going to move up very fast, if at all, until news causes a new trend”.

Now look back at the price bars. Notice the little red PSAR dots? They are saying to put a stop loss order about there, but expect continued uptrend for now.

Overall, it is a bull market trend taking a pause. I would speculate that the run up will resume, if more slowly, after more good news out of the White House (and when the Dimocrats {the most Dim of the Democrats} in Congress decide they would rather help to govern and create prosperity, than be marginalized as pants wetting tantrum tossers…)

So overall, I’d speculate that this is saying “Stay in, but start adding some caution and expect dips”. That then argues for a “buy the dips” general rule (until such time as some horrid news, like a war or economic collapse somewhere, shifts bias).

OK, with that general context, I need to make more specific charts on selected indexes, ETFs, and tickers. Time to start being more selective.

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Posted in Economics - Trading - and Money | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Yet More Flooding Drought in California

I’ve complained about the Palmer Drought Index for a few years now. I’m still doing it… First off, it doesn’t recognize that anything inside of one standard deviation of average precipitation is normal. That includes one standard deviation to the low side. If you are at 99.999% of normal rainfall, that is not a drought. But worse, it adjusts the precipitation value based on the temperatures, which we know are not being correctly represented by the NOAA folks as they are claiming horrendous record heat when we’re cold and lighting the fireplace…


The Palmer drought index, sometimes called the Palmer drought severity index and often abbreviated PDSI, is a measurement of dryness based on recent precipitation and temperature. It was developed by meteorologist Wayne Palmer, who first published his method in the 1965 paper Meteorological Drought for the Office of Climatology of the U.S. Weather Bureau.

The Palmer Drought Index is based on a supply-and-demand model of soil moisture. Supply is comparatively straightforward to calculate, but demand is more complicated as it depends on many factors, not just temperature and the amount of moisture in the soil but also hard-to-calibrate factors including evapotranspiration and recharge rates. Palmer tried to overcome these difficulties by developing an algorithm that approximated them based on the most readily available data, precipitation and temperature.

The index has proven most effective in determining long-term drought, a matter of several months, but it is not as good with conditions over a matter of weeks. It uses a 0 as normal, and drought is shown in terms of negative numbers; for example, negative 2 is moderate drought, negative 3 is severe drought, and negative 4 is extreme drought. Palmer’s algorithm also is used to describe wet spells, using corresponding positive numbers. Palmer also developed a formula for standardizing drought calculations for each individual location based on the variability of precipitation and temperature at that location. The Palmer index can therefore be applied to any site for which sufficient precipitation and temperature data is available.

Critics have complained that the utility of the Palmer index is weakened by the arbitrary nature of Palmer’s algorithms, including the technique used for standardization. The Palmer index’s inability to account for snow and frozen ground also is cited as a weakness.

So if you have 20 feet of snow, you are in a drought. If you have 2 real drought years in a row, and then absolutely normal, or even well above normal, rainfall, you are in a drought (since it hasn’t filled up the ground yet, per the model). If the folks at NOAA cook the temperature normals and you have average rain, you are in a drought. Etc. etc.

This leads to such absurdities as last year in San Jose California having a bit above normal rainfall, yet staying a ‘drought’, and this year we’re well above normal rainfall, so we are having a Flooding Drought. Again.

Here’s the watches and warnings map for today:

USA Watches and Warnings Map 9 Feb 2017

USA Watches and Warnings Map 9 Feb 2017

Since they produce this color map independent of the legend, I would need to do a screen capture / edit to pick that up. Instead, being lazy at the moment, you can just hit the link to see the legend in detail:


The only part I’m interested in at the moment is that large patch of green in the middle of California. That’s the flood area. Light green is a warning, dark green a watch.

(Oddly, the legend does not show some of the colors on the map, like the bright red in Montana or the pink / fuchsia in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California that will be under heaving winter snows and avalanche conditions, so “go figure” on how they make their legend and the wisdom of using a dozen hard to distinguish colors when the monitors displaying it vary widely in bit depth).

But the key bit is just that the center of California, all of it, is under some kind of flood watch or warning, and I’ve had rain persistently over the last weeks, on and off. There’s a LOT of water in California right now. So, about that drought…

From: https://www.drought.gov/drought/data-maps-tools/current-conditions

Drought Monitor Map 9 Feb, 2017

Drought Monitor Map 9 Feb, 2017

Oh, look, at least 1/2 of California in a drought… Now the bottom 1/3 of the State is a functional desert, so good luck explaining to me how you have a drought in the Mojave Desert and notice… Then there’s those snow covered Sierra Nevada. I guess it is a drought due to being under snow. Finally, that middle 1/3 that is under flood watches and warnings: Drought because?… How many years of above average rainfall and flooding does it take for the “model” to “refill” the ground?

I have a hard time with the hype over the “persistent drought” in California and attributing it to Global Warming when under a Flood Watch / Warning / precipitation that doesn’t stop for days on end… I’ve got 2 fences to fix and the weather hasn’t let up long enough to mend them. It looks like I’ll be building fence in the rain this weekend, that is, if the drought doesn’t wash away my yard…

Here’s our percent of normal rainfall in the fourth column, or third column of numbers:

Printer Version
Climate Station Precipitation Summary

SRUS56 KRSA 090200

600 PM PST WED FEB 08 2017



                           SINCE    OCT 01-       OCT 01-       OCT 01-  OCT 01-
                           MIDNITE  FEB 08        FEB 08        FEB 08   SEP 30
CLIMATE STATION            TOTAL    2017     PON  2016     PON  NORMAL   NORMAL
-------------------------  -------  ------------  ------------  -------  -------


MEDFORD OR                    0.14   17.58   165   14.23   134    10.64    18.35
KLAMATH FALLS OR                 T    6.80    96    6.79    96     7.06    14.96
CRESCENT CITY                 0.51   61.17   159   49.77   130    38.37    64.03
EUREKA                        0.33   39.26   163   33.16   138    24.09    40.33
UKIAH                         0.95   37.12   169   23.28   106    22.01    37.35
MONTAGUE / SISKIYOU           0.15   10.92   114    8.67    91     9.54    18.47
ALTURAS                       0.03    8.20   125    8.07   123     6.54    14.17
MOUNT SHASTA CITY             0.31   36.31   150   22.62    93    24.22    43.21
REDDING                       0.34   33.56   164   22.63   111    20.43    34.62
SACRAMENTO EXEC AIRPORT       0.38   23.21   212    8.92    82    10.94    18.52
SACRAMENTO - CSUS             0.39   23.25   194       M     M    12.01    20.27
BLUE CANYON AIRPORT*          3.08   82.92   228   42.32   116    36.42    64.62
SANTA ROSA                    1.20   44.79   199   19.48    87    22.47    36.28
SAN FRANCISCO                 0.34   21.09   144   13.79    94    14.67    23.65
SFO INT'L AIRPORT             0.26   20.90   164   10.55    83    12.75    20.65
OAKLAND AIRPORT               0.33   18.41   150   10.44    85    12.26    20.81
LIVERMORE                     0.22   16.82   180    8.98    96     9.32    15.71
MOUNTAIN VIEW - MOFFETT       0.04   11.09   132    8.04    96     8.41    14.68
SAN JOSE                      0.06   11.23   124    8.84    98     9.06    14.90


STOCKTON                      0.37   14.35   174    9.48   115     8.24    14.06
MODESTO                       0.10   11.64   157    9.44   127     7.41    13.11
MERCED                        0.03   11.38   169    8.21   122     6.73    12.50
MADERA                           T   10.15   152    8.19   123     6.68    12.02
FRESNO                           T   10.53   168    9.62   154     6.25    11.50
HANFORD                          T    7.38   132    5.47    98     5.58    10.10
BAKERSFIELD                   0.00    6.14   177    3.28    95     3.47     6.47
BISHOP                        0.00    6.57   227    1.87    64     2.90     5.18
SALINAS                       0.00   10.43   144    8.95   124     7.24    12.83
PASO ROBLES                      T   12.29   172    5.55    78     7.14    12.78
SANTA MARIA                   0.02   12.22   160    4.81    63     7.63    13.95


SANDBERG                      0.00    7.29   109    4.72    71     6.67    12.33
PALMDALE                      0.00    4.13    93    3.17    71     4.44     8.30
LANCASTER                     0.00    4.46   108    3.02    73     4.12     7.38
SANTA BARBARA                 0.04   16.63   168    6.67    67     9.90    17.76
CAMARILLO                     0.10   14.50   175    3.19    39     8.27    15.22
BURBANK - BOB HOPE            0.02   10.59   116    4.84    53     9.14    17.31
LAX INT'L AIRPORT             0.03   13.41   184    4.18    57     7.30    12.82
LOS ANGELES / USC             0.03   15.74   193    4.20    52     8.14    14.93
LONG BEACH                    0.03   16.06   230    3.29    47     6.97    12.26
FULLERTON                     0.03   14.11   184    3.71    48     7.65    13.88
IRVINE - JOHN WAYNE           0.02   13.49   179    3.26    43     7.52    13.33
OCEANSIDE                     0.00   10.38   147    4.80    68     7.07    13.66
RAMONA                        0.00   14.85   184   10.08   125     8.07    16.04
SAN DIEGO - LINDBERGH         0.00    8.04   142    6.06   107     5.67    10.34
ONTARIO                          T   12.70   155    4.31    52     8.21    15.04
RIVERSIDE                     0.01   11.09   176    3.76    60     6.30    12.40
PALM SPRINGS                  0.00    5.32   176    2.45    81     3.02     5.74
THERMAL                       0.00    2.99   182    1.63    99     1.64     3.20
CAMPO                         0.00   12.47   155    6.75    84     8.03    15.73
BARSTOW - DAGGETT             0.00    3.87   210    1.29    70     1.84     4.06
NEEDLES                       0.00    2.00    95    1.37    65     2.10     4.62

Gee Barstow, down in that southern desert, at over 200% of normal rainfall. That’s quite a drought! Long Beach in the LA Basin drought area at 230% of normal. More drought like that the beach will wash away… Sacramento Exec Airport (inland about 60 miles / 100 km from San Francisco Bay) 212% of normal. Santa Barbara, where that dark red spot is on the coast above Los Angeles, at 168% of normal.

Man, that’s a heck of a drought… Oh, and do note these numbers are from BEFORE the present storm hits, the one causing the flood watches and warnings to be issued, so they will be rising over the next few days.

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Posted in AGW and Weather News Events, AGW Science and Background | Tagged , , , | 37 Comments

Mystery Tree is a Bay Laurel

A couple of years back I’d commented that I had this tree growing from seed in the middle of my back yard garden and I didn’t know what it was. Long enough ago that I can’t find the article… I’d thought maybe it was from some cloves as I’d tossed a tin of old cloves (including some large lozenge shaped bits that are their seed case) into the yard a year or two before and wondered if some had sprouted? It had a vaguely cloves like smell to the leaves when crushed, and the flowers looked similar to cloves.

Well, time passes. Eventually they mature. It made fruit.

The fruit look like miniature avocados about the size of a small woman’s thumb or my little finger tip… A BIG seed with a thin coating of what passes for fruit flesh and then a rind like a mini-avocado. Note the quarter in the picture:

California Bay Laurel fruit, size of a quarter

California Bay Laurel fruit, size of a quarter

Well, that’s the California Bay Laurel. It has LOTS of uses, so I’m letting it run. I will need to take out the other 4 that have grown in the back yard too (mostly much smaller) as I don’t have room, or use, for them. I suspect the squirrels have been busy with the seeds…


After a bit of a wait, it has a pop-up, but I like the picture… and hitting reload seems to have cleared the pop-up.

Distinctive Characteristics: This evergreen, shade-tolerant tree has a single or multiple trunks with an open, dome-shaped crown. The shiny, dark-green leaves are narrow, long pointed ovals with smooth edges; leaves can reach 4 in. (10 cm) long and 1.2 in. (3 cm) wide. Small yellowish-green flowers are held in an “umbel,” a number of short flower stalks, equal in length and spreading from a common point, somewhat like umbrella ribs. The tree’s fruit, the bay nut, is a round to olive-shaped green berry about 1 in. (2.5 cm) long; it matures to a purple color with a cap that resembles a golf tee. Under the thin, leathery skin is a bit of green flesh coating a hard, thin-shelled edible pit, in whole resembling a miniature avocado (the trees belong to the same Lauraceae Family).

The tree is similar to its Mediterranean cousin, the culinary Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis), which is smaller in size, with generally narrower leaves containing sweeter oils. All parts of the California Bay Laurel, especially the leaves, contain a distinctively aromatic camphor-like volatile oil that has cooling, irritating, germicidal, and insecticidal qualities. The fragrance is much more aromatic than that of its Mediterranean relative, and it can easily cause headaches that last for days, and can send over-zealously inhaling hikers to the emergency room.

I’ve not had any issue from inhaling the “camphor-like” aroma, so I think some of this is a bit of hype (or don’t sniff it when on M.J. and not knowing when to stop…). It has a reputation for both causing, and curing, headaches. The Native Americans Indians of the area used it as food and as medicinal.

Maximum Age: Approximately 500 years.

Maximum Height and Girth: 108 ft. (33 m) in height; 31 ft. (9.4 m) in circumference.

Oh Dear… in a couple of hundred years, someone is going to have a problem in my back yard….

California Bay Laurel

California Bay Laurel

( Images from rom the wiki article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umbellularia )

Traditional Uses: California Bay Laurel has long been valued for its many edible, medicinal, insecticidal, and ceremonial uses throughout its range by native cultures including the Cahuilla, Chumash, Pomo, Kashaya Pomo, Miwok, Yujki, Coos, Concow, Maidu, Costanoan, Yukok, Tongva, Tolowa, Ohlone, Karuk, Karok, Mendocino Indians, and Salinan people.

Medicinal: Crushed fresh leaves were inhaled as pain relief for headaches and nasal congestion, though the volatile oils in the leaves may also cause headaches (Cahuilla, Coast Miwok). A poultice was also applied to the head for headaches (Miwok, Yuki, Mendocino Indian). Fresh leaves were placed in water and boiled to make aromatic steam to treat colds and sinus infections (Karok). The light-green tips of new growth were used as a poultice to treat toothache (Lake Miwok). A leaf poultice was used for shingles. A tea was used for sore throats and colds. Leaf oil was used to treat earaches and sores and to prevent allergies in the spring; it was also used to relieve colitis and ulcers. Women used an infusion of the plant for pain after childbirth (Karok). A decoction of the plant was used as a wash for head lice (Mendocino Indian). An infusion of leaves was used as a bath (Mendocino Indian) and a poultice was applied for rheumatism (Pomo, Kashaya Pomo). The leaves were taken as a decoction or poultice for stomachaches (Mendocino Indian, Coast Miwok). Kashaya Pomo doctors would sometimes hit a patient with little branches while singing as a treatment for pain, headache, or colds. A decoction of the leaves was used for menstrual cramps (Kashaya Pomo). A poultice made from flowers was used to reduce swelling. The burning leaf smoke and vapor was used to treat many diseases and to fumigate the house after sicknesses. Leaves were made into an infusion for cramps from diarrhea, food poisoning, or gastroenteritis; a diluted tincture or strong tea can be used as an antimicrobial or antifungal on skin; and a bath may be taken with the leaves for arthritis and joint pain. A repellant tea was made of the root bark, and smoke from burning leaves was used to keep insects out of acorn granaries and houses. Feather-work and baskets were stored with leaves to repel insects. Used also as a flea repellent (Costanoan, Kashaya Pomo, Mendocino Indians).

Food: Both the fruity flesh under the skin and the nut itself are edible. The fruit is palatable raw for only a brief time when ripe; if too ripe, the flesh quickly becomes bruised, like an overripe avocado, and the volatile aromatic oils are so strong that the fruit is inedible. The shelled nuts, which look like the pit of an avocado, are roasted (to remove pungency) in hot ashes and eaten whole, or pounded and sun-dried to make flat cakes that can be eaten right away or stored for winter’s use. Roasted nuts or cakes are eaten with greens, buckeye meal, acorn meal, mush, or seaweed. They were also ground into a powder and roasted to make a beverage with the taste of unsweetened coffee or burnt cocoa. While the leaf can be used in cooking, it is spicier and stronger than the Mediterranean seasoning and used in smaller quantity.

Tools and Objects: The wood was used to make bows (Western Mono).

There’s more at the link, go there if interested…

So now I’ve got a bit of a “project”. I’ve let it grow big enough to be interesting, and the squirrels seem to like it, and, well, I find the range of uses intriguing. So it’s going to be there as long as I’m here. May even try a “bath may be taken with the leaves for arthritis and joint pain” just to see if it does anything.

For another posting ‘some day’, two of these sprouted at the same time about 4 feet from each other. One south west of the other. Their difference in growth is surprising. This has important implications for tree rings as thermometers… so once nice weather returns, I’m hoping to get a photo of it and make a posting on that point. It isn’t often you have a personal history with two trees in just the right orientation…

So there you have it. A mystery solved. Disappointment at NOT having a cloves tree. Fascination at having a native medicinal and food tree. Interest in observing how tree rings depend on location, location, location.

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Posted in AGW Science and Background, Plants - Seeds - Gardening | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments