Archives for the month of: July, 2011
It all started with a simple bird feeder. I wanted to encourage wildlife in the neighborhood so what better way to accomplish this goal than to purchased a bird feeder. For the first couple of days, there was little activity, and I was disappointed the birds were ignoring the stylish feeder that I had so carefully selected at Target. I needn’t have worried. Before long, the feeder was attracting sparrows, starlings, finches and all manner of unidentifiable bird species. The feeder was a success!

Then several days later, I noticed that cardinals were congregating on the porch floor eating seed. It turns out that the small birds (which are messy eaters!) toss out the larger seeds from the feeder. At some point the larger birds had discovered this new food source. Wow, I thought. My porch has become a sort of bird mecca. 


Nevertheless, my elation was short-lived, since the neighborhood squirrels soon discovered the discarded seed as well, and were now competing with the larger birds for the food. To my dismay, the squirrels always won these ugly confrontations.

The current top of the food-chain, as of this week, is a neighborhood cat that has also managed to find the feeder. The cat hides underneath a porch chair near the feeder, lying in wait as the unsuspecting birds eat the discarded seed. I’ve seen the cat pounce; although, so far as I know, it hasn’t caught anything (yet).


Concerned that the cat would eventually catch a bird, I decided to move the feeder. Unfortunately, relocating the feeder had no effect. When the cat arrived, he initially hid in his usual spot, but after half an hour or so, when no birds showed up, he noticed the new feeder location and put two and two together. It just proves the stereotype that cats are crafty and intelligent, especially when it comes to hunting. 

It seems that the purchase of a simple bird feeder has turned the entire porch into a miniature ecosystem supporting birds, squirrels, and even cats! I wonder what’s next? 
It all started with a simple bird feeder. I wanted to encourage wildlife in the neighborhood so what better way to accomplish this goal than to purchased a bird feeder. For the first couple of days, there was little activity, and I was disappointed the birds were ignoring the stylish feeder that I had so carefully selected at Target. I needn’t have worried. Before long, the feeder was attracting sparrows, starlings, finches and all manner of unidentifiable bird species. The feeder was a success!

Then several days later, I noticed that cardinals were congregating on the porch floor eating seed. It turns out that the small birds (which are messy eaters!) toss out the larger seeds from the feeder. At some point the larger birds had discovered this new food source. Wow, I thought. My porch has become a sort of bird mecca. 


Nevertheless, my elation was short-lived, since the neighborhood squirrels soon discovered the discarded seed as well, and were now competing with the larger birds for the food. To my dismay, the squirrels always won these ugly confrontations.

The current top of the food-chain, as of this week, is a neighborhood cat that has also managed to find the feeder. The cat hides underneath a porch chair near the feeder, lying in wait as the unsuspecting birds eat the discarded seed. I’ve seen the cat pounce; although, so far as I know, it hasn’t caught anything (yet).


Concerned that the cat would eventually catch a bird, I decided to move the feeder. Unfortunately, relocating the feeder had no effect. When the cat arrived, he initially hid in his usual spot, but after half an hour or so, when no birds showed up, he noticed the new feeder location and put two and two together. It just proves the stereotype that cats are crafty and intelligent, especially when it comes to hunting. 

It seems that the purchase of a simple bird feeder has turned the entire porch into a miniature ecosystem supporting birds, squirrels, and even cats! I wonder what’s next? 
Photo courtesy of the Guardian

My neighborhood has a lot of squirrels and they’re a big nuisance. They eat the bird seed I put out for the wild birds, they dig up my newly planted bulbs, and they gnaw at electrical power lines. Moreover, I’ve seen squirrels cause havoc by jumping in front of moving cars and bicycles. Nevertheless, there’s something adorable, and even endearing, about these little neighborhood pests.

Photo courtesy of the Guardian

My neighborhood has a lot of squirrels and they’re a big nuisance. They eat the bird seed I put out for the wild birds, they dig up my newly planted bulbs, and they gnaw at electrical power lines. Moreover, I’ve seen squirrels cause havoc by jumping in front of moving cars and bicycles. Nevertheless, there’s something adorable, and even endearing, about these little neighborhood pests.

Borders South Portland

It’s official. The Borders bookstore chain is closing. The announcement is sad, but not unexpected. Book-buying habits have changed drastically in the past decades, and even with its well-stocked shelves, comfy chairs, and coffee bar, Borders eventually failed. I wonder whether the traditional bookstore is destined to suffer the same fate as the video store?


First, the independent bookstores were replaced by the mega-bookstores (Borders and Barnes & Noble). Then these stores had to compete against the discount chains (Walmart and Costco) and online retailers (Amazon). And now, even paper books may soon be a thing of the past with the advent of e-books (Kindle and Nook).

Not to be nostalgic, but it wasn’t long ago that independent bookstores were everywhere. Browsing in these small independent bookstores was one of my favorite leisure activities. I remember spending hours browsing in Cody’s in Berkeley, Papa Bach’s in West Los Angeles, Tower Books in Sacramento, and, recently, Cunningham Books in Portland. They were once all here, and now they’re gone.

Of course, the truly special thing about the independents was the owner or manager who was a true bibliophile and who knew books. These people could tell you anything you wanted to know about a book, author, or publisher.

For me, books, like anything of value in life, need to be experienced in person, hands on. It’s a sensory experience. I love opening a book and leafing through its pages. I like the tactile sensation, the weight, and the physical look of the printing. And while I do buy books online and have a Kindle, I still prefer books on paper and buying them at a bricks-and-mortar bookstore. For all the benefits online shopping provides, it can’t match the social benefits of going to the bookstore and chatting with staff and other customers.

Yesterday, I visited the Borders in South Portland. As I was browsing through the sale items, I mentioned to a store employee how sad it was that Borders was closing. Every time, I had been to Borders, the store seemed bustling and full of life. He agreed the store was popular, but people used it more like a library than a store. They would hang-out, read, browsed and schmoozed, but didn’t really buy books. At least, not enough. So like any business, if it doesn’t earn a profit, it’s doomed to failure.

Borders South Portland

It’s official. The Borders bookstore chain is closing. The announcement is sad, but not unexpected. Book-buying habits have changed drastically in the past decades, and even with its well-stocked shelves, comfy chairs, and coffee bar, Borders eventually failed. I wonder whether the traditional bookstore is destined to suffer the same fate as the video store?


First, the independent bookstores were replaced by the mega-bookstores (Borders and Barnes & Noble). Then these stores had to compete against the discount chains (Walmart and Costco) and online retailers (Amazon). And now, even paper books may soon be a thing of the past with the advent of e-books (Kindle and Nook).

Not to be nostalgic, but it wasn’t long ago that independent bookstores were everywhere. Browsing in these small independent bookstores was one of my favorite leisure activities. I remember spending hours browsing in Cody’s in Berkeley, Papa Bach’s in West Los Angeles, Tower Books in Sacramento, and, recently, Cunningham Books in Portland. They were once all here, and now they’re gone.

Of course, the truly special thing about the independents was the owner or manager who was a true bibliophile and who knew books. These people could tell you anything you wanted to know about a book, author, or publisher.

For me, books, like anything of value in life, need to be experienced in person, hands on. It’s a sensory experience. I love opening a book and leafing through its pages. I like the tactile sensation, the weight, and the physical look of the printing. And while I do buy books online and have a Kindle, I still prefer books on paper and buying them at a bricks-and-mortar bookstore. For all the benefits online shopping provides, it can’t match the social benefits of going to the bookstore and chatting with staff and other customers.

Yesterday, I visited the Borders in South Portland. As I was browsing through the sale items, I mentioned to a store employee how sad it was that Borders was closing. Every time, I had been to Borders, the store seemed bustling and full of life. He agreed the store was popular, but people used it more like a library than a store. They would hang-out, read, browsed and schmoozed, but didn’t really buy books. At least, not enough. So like any business, if it doesn’t earn a profit, it’s doomed to failure.

Portland Maine set a record today. It was 100°. That’s the hottest July temperature on record, and only the fourth time in Portland’s history that it has been in the triple digits. In fact, the all-time high for Portland is 103°, set in August 1975. Central Maine Power reported that power usage also set an all-time high.


I don’t know what’s all the excitement. I’m from Sacramento where 110° is not uncommon in summer. Now, that’s hot!

Portland Maine set a record today. It was 100°. That’s the hottest July temperature on record, and only the fourth time in Portland’s history that it has been in the triple digits. In fact, the all-time high for Portland is 103°, set in August 1975. Central Maine Power reported that power usage also set an all-time high.


I don’t know what’s all the excitement. I’m from Sacramento where 110° is not uncommon in summer. Now, that’s hot!

Self-Portrait
Lucian Freud has died at the age 88. He was widely acknowledged as one of the greatest British painters of the 20Th century. Known mostly for his nude portraits, Freud was the grandson of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, and achieved fame in depicting his subjects realistically and honestly. 

I found his work particularly unsettling, and, at times, difficult to view; but, I did like it. I remember seeing his, Naked Man, Back View, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (you can listen to a discussion of this work by linking to the Met) and not understanding its appeal. One of his most controversial and unflattering pictures was of Queen Elizabeth II, who posed for Freud fully clothed. When the Queen saw the finished portrait, she wasn’t pleased. 

Freud’s Naked Man, Back View
The Queen

Self-Portrait
Lucian Freud has died at the age 88. He was widely acknowledged as one of the greatest British painters of the 20Th century. Known mostly for his nude portraits, Freud was the grandson of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, and achieved fame in depicting his subjects realistically and honestly. 

I found his work particularly unsettling, and, at times, difficult to view; but, I did like it. I remember seeing his, Naked Man, Back View, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (you can listen to a discussion of this work by linking to the Met) and not understanding its appeal. One of his most controversial and unflattering pictures was of Queen Elizabeth II, who posed for Freud fully clothed. When the Queen saw the finished portrait, she wasn’t pleased. 

Freud’s Naked Man, Back View
The Queen