Monday, January 21, 2019

MLK Day, the Desert and Complaining About Google

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day to you all.  I realize some of you are up to your waists in snow and I'm sorry about that.  I can not imagine the awfulness of the amount of snow in the middle of the country and the east.  Here in Tucson we're under a high wind warning (which the forecasters got right), but there will be no complaining about our climate.

There has been hiking.

The other day we headed towards the water tower and went uphill from there, towards this.

Notice the saguaros growing out of the top of the mountain.  How do they do that?  There is a bench placed on the trail, just as it peters out.  To continue, one must bushwhack.

This is buffel grass which is the scourge of the Sonoran Desert.  Awhile ago I read an article that said its spread was due to illegal immigrants bringing the seeds in on their clothing from Mexico.  Hopefully I never referenced that article because it's not true.  Ranchers planted it for forage for their cows.  It's non-native, spreads like the weed it is, burns hot enough to kill the cactus, shades the baby cactus and kills them and in ten or so years depletes the ground so that all is left is an area unable to support life.  Great plant, eh?   Our neighbor has been removing a patch of buffel grass up by the bench.  He levers it out with a bladed tool, leaves it to dry (and be less heavy) and then bags it up and brings it down the hill.  I saw him this morning at 8:45 having brought down two bags.  We have an infestation on the side of the wash just on the other side of the wall.  Five weeks of glyphosate last October has killed the existing plants.  We don't know if the seeds have escaped death.  I've ordered up a bunch of casoron and another pre-germinant to try to keep any seeds from sprouting.  Looks like killing buffel grass will be an ongoing project.  We can't dig it out because the bank is really unstable.

More of the always lovely desert.

This was from today.  The chollas are very happy this year.  They had a good monsoon and then a bunch of rain in December.  Cactus happiness abounds.

This is a pack rat nest.  It's hard to see, but look at all the cholla pieces that are all over the ground.  I think they put them there, there is no cholla in the immediate vicinity.  They dig huge burrows, and then the individuals have little rooms.  Rattle snakes will go in there and eat them, which may be why they've booby trapped the area with cholla pups.  If you live in the desert, think carefully about seed bird feeders.  The birds drop the seeds, the pack rats come for the seeds and the rattle snakes come for the pack rats.

This is a close up of one of the palm trees.  I love the way the light illuminates their fronds.

There is a persistent belief in the bloggo-sphere that Picasa will die in March.  I have been told by smart friends that it's only the API that will die, but one tends to expect the worst and be pleasantly surprised when it doesn't happen.  It just annoys the living snot out of me that Google killed Picasa in 2016 and replaced it with Google photos which is an absolute piece of dog doo-doo.  Its biggest fault is that it's not local to your machine.  If one is using a mi-fi, one is using much bandwidth to upload photos to edit them.  I have yet to figure out how, or if, the product will de-resolution photos.  I down loaded PhotoScapeX from the Windows store.  It will de-res, but although it says it will batch de-res I don't see how to do that.  It is resident on your machine, so there's that, but it's a pain to use.  Picasa is the best there ever was for the use of sliders.  Oh - the other thing PhotoScapeX does, is that is sorts your folders by name and not date.  Who does that?  All of my April photos are at the top of the list, I have to go looking for January.  Does anyone have a stump stupid easy to use photo editor that they like?  This is just a depressing state of affairs.  I don't have enough brain cells left to learn Photoshop.


  1. I use Photoshop ... have for many years. It's really not hard to learn if someone shows you the basics first. Unfortunately you have to download it from the "Cloud" (which I hate) and pay $10-15 a month for it (I use the old disk version). You might try Photoshop Express or GIMP. I think both are free and easy to use.

  2. I agree with you on Photoshop. When both it and I were young, I could follow along. Then I was sidetracked for some years, and found it no longer intuitive. I asked my tech savvy daughter how to use it, and she said, "Mom, you know a lot more about Photoshop than I do." I used to have a disc, but gave it to my library. I'll check back here and see if you get a solution.
    PS-your desert is beautiful!

  3. Frustrating, isn't it. I got an Android Smartphone and Google Photos right after our Mifi box died, so I haven't had to suffer as much since I can download high-res photos to my laptop without using metered bandwidth, then reduce them on the laptop. I do like the occasional photo that Google Photos doctors up for me without any intervention, as it always looks pretty. But if I were still on metered internet, I'd be screaming. Actually, in that case, I would change my settings not to upload photos to the cloud from my phone, only to save them onto a microSD card, then port them over to my laptop with a cable. Kind of a pain, though.

    I use a program that came with my little Nikon Coolpix to edit photos (reduce, crop, rotate, etc). It's called ViewNX 2. I recently lost it when I had to reinstall Windows 10 after my laptop went bonkers, and I was able to download a fresh copy from the Nikon site. Did not have to have proof of purchase, and I'm pretty sure it will work even if you don't have a Nikon; it just needs the correct file extension. If you learn about 5% of what it can do, you can (or at least I can) do everything you will probably want to do with photo editing, if you just want something basic, as I do. I don't mess with the fancier stuff; I just want to be able to straighten, adjust brightness, color saturation, and a few simple things like that. It doesn't have filters or anything fancy like that. Anywho, you might want to check it out. I am like you; I don't want to learn anything too involved at this point. I have better things to do. :-)

    1. D'oh, actually I am sure it will work even if you don't have a Nikon, since I use it to edit photos I've downloaded from Google Photos that were taken on my phone, as well as photos we take on our little camera!