We the Ungrateful

The Geese were unimpressed with the weather today

The geese were unimpressed with the weather today

270°  It rained last night and snowed a little today. My rain gauge recorded 0.40 inches, which is an impressive amount for Reno, Nevada.

People were talking about the weather today, as we actually had something to talk about; however, without exception the sentence goes something like this, “Yep, we needed it. We need a lot more.”

0.40 inches of rain and 99% humidity. Not your typicality day in Reno, NV

0.40 inches of rain and 99% humidity. Not your typical day in Reno, NV

189°  It seems that everyone, myself included, can’t be happy with positive events. People in the desert are the-glass-is-more-than-half-empty-and-it’s-only-going-to-get-worse people. Maybe we should all lighten up a little and enjoy what we have been given.

Progress Is Painful

Progress starts with noise and farewells

Progress starts with noise and farewells

290°  Long standing organizations have icons that remind people of the continuity of the entity. Such was the Getchell Library at the University of Nevada. Most people who attended the university in the past several decades will note time spent inside the library to study and research.

Getchell was closed several years ago when the new ‘Knowledge Center’ was built, but it remained as an icon until about a month ago. Now it is a construction site in the middle of the campus and it will serve as the definition of who attended UNR when libraries were actually relevant.

Reno’s Abandoned Dead

Reno's Cemetery of No Concern

Reno’s Cemetery of No Concern

169°  A short distance north of downtown Reno, Nevada, are 1,400 to 1,600 bodies in a neglected cemetery that symbolizes anything but respect for the dead.

The Hillside Cemetery is a few blocks West of the University of Nevada and is surrounded by cheap, but expensive, college apartments and Fraternity and Sorority houses. At one time the cemetery was donated to the university with the plan to move the graves and build dormitories, but that never happened and they sold it to a private party.

One wonders if the dead would have preferred that their names not appear on the memorials over their graves

One wonders if the dead would have preferred that their names not appear on the memorials over their graves

213°  It has been cleaned up at least once in the past few decades, but no one cares for the land or the graves. That might be expected out in a rural area where the people of the town has moved on, but Reno has no excuse for ignoring the sanctity of a burial plot. A four-foot high chain link fence attempts to keep out cars and vandals, but over the years it has taken much abuse.

It is believed to be Reno’s oldest cemetery dating back to the 1870’s, shortly after the city was established. Some want the cemetery restored as a historic landmark. Others want it to go away. It is likely that neither will happen and it will remain a fitting reminder that nothing is sacred in Nevada.

What Will UnWinter Be Like?

Cold night temperatures with no snow create a dilemma for the crew at Rancho San Rafael Park in Reno, how to water the grass without risking the sprinkler system?

Cold night temperatures with no snow create a dilemma for the crew at Rancho San Rafael Park in Reno. How to water the grass without risking the sprinkler system at night?

282°  We still have Winter in Reno. It’s strange, but it’s still cold at night and in the mornings. The below freezing temperatures have allowed frost to form on the ground, which makes the grass damp in the mornings.

Average Global Temperatures 1953 - 2013 (Sequence is upper left, upper right, then one down to the left, etc.)

Average Global Temperatures 1953 – 2013 (Graphic taken from NASA video)

That may change in the next decade or so. NASA has tracked our global average temperatures since the 1950’s and the data shows a consistent trend of global warming. Every fact indicates that the trend of the last 60 years will continue and possibly accelerate. That may result in Winter becoming UnWinter.

Like ice melting ice in a beer cooler we still have blasts of cold air coming down from the Arctic via the Polar Jet Stream. That river of air is being reinforced by water vapor from the melting permanent ice rushing to meet warm air coming up from the equator. Once the ice melts, the Polar Jet will no longer have the engine that drives it South.

No Polar Jet Stream, no cold air. No cold air, no Winter. UnWinter. Short days, long nights, cool temperatures but no frost and no snow. It’s hard to fathom the issues that will come with UnWinter, but they will likely be unpleasant and expensive.

Tipping Point In Reno

The Reno Arch:  A gaudy symbol of the past

The Reno Arch: A gaudy symbol of the past

349°  Recently a prominent Nevada gaming family, the Asguaga’s, sold their casino/hotel property. It was a sign that Reno has finally reached the tipping point in gaming. There is no recovery in the casino industry.

In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed into law the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act that opened the flood gates of Native American involvement in the industry. By the dawn of the 21st century it was apparent that the boom of new casinos in California would siphon off gaming revenues in Nevada for the foreseeable future.

After over a decade of declining profits, Reno casino properties try to carve up a dwindling piece of the tourism dollar. The problem is that the Nevada gaming industry has nothing new to attract people to Reno, nor can they shake the paradigm that gambling is the only means to earn revenue.

The pawn and loan industry is ugly step sister of Nevada gaming

The pawn and loan industry is ugly step sister of Nevada gaming

241°  Gaming has a dark side that is never discussed in public in Nevada. Near every casino area will be pawn and quick loan businesses ready to suck in the weak and gullible tourist or resident. In addition, gaming areas create the perfect storm of people out late at night, drunk, with cash. Violent crime in Nevada always ranks near the top in the United States, in part because tourist are easy prey to the criminal element that hang out in the shadows of the glitz of casinos.

Gaming is the Titanic of industries and Reno is staying with the ship

Gaming is the Titanic of industries and Reno is staying with the ship

246°  It is unfortunate that gaming ever came to Reno. Nestled near Lake Tahoe, the Sierra Nevada mountains, and a four-hour drive to San Francisco and the ocean, the town could be filled with diverse industries making it nearly recession proof, but because the community has become dependent on the gaming industry, it has no will to challenge the hand that used to feed it. In ten years or less, Reno will be the next Detroit.

Reno Water Works in January

Watering in January is not SOP

Watering in January is not SOP

19°  Reno is almost 40° North of the Equator. That is the same latitude as Denver and Philadelphia. We tend to avoid major snow storms as the Sierra Nevada mountain range pulls most of the moisture out of the air before it drops back down to Reno’s altitude (about 4,500 feet or 1,370 meters;) however, the area is cold in Winter….most years.

This year it is cold in the mornings (15° to 24° F or -9° to -4° C) but the afternoon temperatures have been in the 50’s F (10 to 14° C.) Today we watered our front lawn, which I don’t believe we’ve done in the 18 years we’ve lived in this house. The dry conditions and the warm afternoons are endangering lawns, bushes, and trees.

Light and water combine to reveal a woman's face

While washing our car, light and water combine to reveal a woman’s face

13°  I also washed the car today, which is unusual for January. I took images of the car wash spray on the windshield and when I looked at them tonight I saw a woman’s face in the image. I’m not ready to call the Pope, but it was interesting that the water and light created a distinct image on the glass. You see it…..right?

Two Minutes at Sunset

Self portrait in shadow

Self portrait in shadow

There is a certain pressure in trying to take a picture everyday and publish it. I rarely have a plan for my subject matter in advance. Usually I just take my Nikon and go. Today I relied on the sunset. The light of the Sun when it’s low in the sky make everything look more interesting. Here are four subjects I found in about two minutes at sunset.

25°  Nothing magic here. A simple picture of my shadow in the last light of the day.

You wouldn't really make me move would you?

You wouldn’t really make me move would you?

121°  Jasmine has an on/off switch. Late in the day she is ready to sleep. She knows she’s not supposed to be on the couch….and she knows how to look pitiful.

Backyard Angel

Backyard Angel

226°  I put this decoration up on Christmas Eve on our back deck. I think I’ll take it down some day.

Winter without the cold

Winter without the cold

258°  An acoustic thermometer. No batteries. No power cord. It must be magic.

Making a National Geographic Cover Page

Blank emotion is key to any National Geographic cover face

Blank emotion is key to any National Geographic cover face

110°  I have always loved National Geographic. They have always focused on in-depth stories about anything that escapes the average American’s attention, which has provided them a wealth of topics to cover during its 125 year history.

National Geographic is known for its photography, especially its cover photos. The magazine doesn’t use models, but the organization learned a long time ago that expressionless faces of ordinary people sell. Unfortunately, it’s a bit overused.

However, there is a lesson that we can learn from National Geographic. Asking people to smile for the camera is not as interesting and no emotion at all. 

Sparks: Nevada’s City of Failure

This sculpture, tucked away near and abandoned Wal-Mart shopping center shows what happens when you have two cities competing for business, boxes with nothing in them

This sculpture, tucked away near and abandoned Wal-Mart shopping center shows what happens when you have two cities competing for business:  boxes with nothing in them

348°  One of the ongoing tragedies in Nevada is the resource-sucking duplication of two cities in one valley. Reno was founded in 1868. About 30 years later the railroad put in a switching yard a few miles east of Reno and rabble living there declared it and surrounding few houses a city. It was originally named after the President of the railroad, but it was quickly renamed after the current Governor of Nevada, John Sparks, who was very cozy with the railroad.

The attitude of the City of Sparks has probably always been one of jealousy of Reno. Sparks main feature has always been the railroad yard, which is as close as the city comes to having a downtown. The desperation to best Reno has led Sparks to be on a never-ending campaign to steal commerce from the original city.

One example of the damage Sparks has done to the community is the desperate attempts to create a premier shopping center at the far east side of Sparks. To entice businesses they offered taxes incentives. Lowe’s took advantage of this by closing down one of their large home improvement centers in Reno and relocated in the Sparks. Now the community has no additional jobs, but the business provides less in tax revenue for the citizens.

The result has been to have three competing governments (City of Reno, City of Sparks, Washoe County) serving one community, each with duplicate services. No one is benefiting from the mud wrestling-like competition. The premier shopping mall in Sparks is noticeably lacking in customers, even during the holidays.

The Reno/Sparks/Washoe fiasco is typical of Nevada. It is why we are the best of all the worst indicators. High in violent crime, high in unemployment, low in education. Barring a miracle, failure is Nevada’s only option.

Divided Light and Our Perception of It

The Beauty of Light Divided

The Beauty of Light Divided

270°  This morning I noticed a light spectrum blotch on our walkway. It was the Sun shining through a plastic material that acted as a prism. The light blotch was on a part of the walkway that was still in shadow from the morning Sun.

Sunlight is pleasant, but we don’t really see light until it has been separated into its color bands, or wave lengths. A rainbow is considered magical, probably because we rarely see the true nature of the ‘white’ light that is anything but white.

What I find interesting is that the colors that reach our eye are actually reflected light wave lengths, and more significantly, it is the REJECTED light or wave lengths that reach our eye. A red apple has absorbed all the wave lengths but red, which is the color that is rejected by the skin of the apple. It is the rejected color that reaches our eye, therefore we ignore all the absorbed colors (photons, actually,) which become part of the object.

I suspect we judge people in the same way. If we judge color by that which is rejected, by what false standards do we judge other people?