Monsoon Panorama

Microsoft has a free iOS app called PhotoSynth that stitches photos together into a panorama. It does a pretty good job. Here’s an example:

Desert Sky

That’s cropped and slightly color-corrected. The original looks like this.

We see clouds like that during the summer monsoons. They rarely turn to rain (or this wouldn’t be a desert) but they bring a fair bit of humidity with them, making it not all that pleasant to be outdoors.

Nature’s Bounty

We’re about 80% of the way done with the extreme pruning project for the oleanders that ring our backyard.

Oleanders (Still Fighting)

We never did find a store that sells Ladybugs’n’Stuff, but we did find one that sells Aphid-Be-Dead in great quantities.

That only leaves one thing: the bees under the shed. They don’t want us messing with any of the oleander bushes on the east side of the property line. The good news is that a properly-treated bee sting hurts less than a scratch inflicted by an oleander bush. The bad news is that I have one sting and Mrs. Jones has two, so we’re knocking off…for the time bee-ing.

Summer is for Spreading Seeds

The lot down the street is covered with vines like this one:

Gourds

So when my eldest child and I took a walk this evening, we ended up throwing gourds to watch them break open and scatter their contents across the lot. The birds will enjoy themselves tomorrow, and next year, there will be even more gourds.

Reflections on Salary

My first job out of college paid an annual salary of S. (The actual amount S represents is unimportant.)

For a brief period of time, that was more money than I could imagine. (We didn’t discuss money in my family, but I have reason to believe that my dad supported us–four kids, mom, and himself–on less than that amount.) Two years later, when I moved to Bell Labs, I also “right-sized” my salary to 140% of S. Then S didn’t seem so impressive.

What’s interesting is that my 1984 salary is 70% of what I make now, 26 years later, according to the measuringworth.com web site. (Actually, they provide a bunch of estimates, ranging from 71% to 140%. I picked the lowest one.)

Now, that was in Albuquerque, which is cheaper to live in than Yucca Valley. According to the cost-of-living comparison at Sperling’s BestPlaces, a dollar there buys as much as $1.06 does here.

So my first job out of college paid effectively 75% of my current salary. And I only had one car and three less mouths to feed. But what’s really amazing is that within two years of graduation, I had run up more than 10% of my salary in credit card debt. To be sure, I do have a mortgage today, but (so far!) we’re paying our bills and living within our means.

Colorful Car Update

The other day, I pointed out a beautiful chartreuse Dodge Charger/Daytona at the hospital. It turns out there’s something in the water at the hospital that makes the staff pick wild colors for their cars. Here’s that same car again, in the background, and a gorgeous purple twin of it in the foreground.

Purple & Green Chargers

I’m not a real car aficionado, so I don’t know if this car is a “Charger” or a “Daytona.” Back in the day, they were Chargers, though, and between that and Rush’s song “War Paint” (from their Presto album) I’m going to go with “Charger.”

My next car will be gassy green

Either my next car, or possibly the next paint job on my current car, will be gassy green like this one:

My Car and Another

(I refer to the green one in back. Mine is the black-and-bare-metal one in front.)

I don’t think a new car is in my budget any time soon, but this one looks pretty sweet. It looks a lot faster than mine, sure, with that high hood and close-to-the-bumper front wheel placement. But most of all, it’s chartreuse.

City Pool

I left work early today, because my wife was taking the kids to the public pool for the last day of summer. But when I got there, it was closed. When I got home, I asked WTF and she told me this was the last day, but that means the last day for the staff. They spent it cleaning the swim rings and whatever else you do at the end of the season, then they all left.

That’s par for the course. When they aren’t shutting the pool down during operating hours, they’re letting little kids crap in it. Then they shut down for a day while the chemicals kill off anything that got in the pool.

It sucks that Yucca Valley doesn’t have a real public pool. Instead, it has the High School’s pool, except for about 10 months of the year.

(If it had a pool designed for kids of all ages, instead of high-schoolers, they could have a smaller wading pool for kids of crap-in-the-pool age, and reduce the risk of having to shut down the pool for everyone.)

But I don’t know what’s up with not having a public pool. You’d think a pool would be a no-brainer for a town of 25K in the middle of the desert.

Of course, the town could just tell people to put in their own pools. It could just cut taxes accordingly, and people could use their money to buy pools, or home theaters, or off-road-vehicles, or whatever else melts their butter.

But, honestly, that wouldn’t be the best thing here, though, since this is the desert. It doesn’t make sense to have a whole bunch of small pools all over the place evaporating, when you could have just one big one doing it. Likewise for draining it at the end of the summer.

In fact, if you had one big pool, and were able to amortize its costs across a lot of users, you could put a building around it, so the water doesn’t evaporate. And you could use it all year long, so you wouldn’t have to drain it at all. In fact, you could use the other three seasons to help pay for it.

That’s such a great idea, in fact, that somebody else already thought of it. There’s a pool just like that here in Yucca Valley. It’s called the Senior Center and Pool, and is located at the Morongo Basin Senior Support Center.

It would be awesome if there was something like that for people who were under 55+.

But kids don’t vote, so they can use the high school pool, from mid June to mid August. The rest of the time, they can look forward to being 55. And if they get bored doing that, they can get tatoos and piercings and join gangs and tag buildings and sell drugs.

To be fair, there is a skateboard/BMX concrete-jungle by the library. Of course, it’s a sunk cost, approximately $zero/year to operate.