2013 Dec 15 | Jimmy Gomez, Geminid meteor shower, monarch butterflies, Solvang

Don't see many Alaska plates here.

The best combination of license plate and holder I've ever seen: may the force be with you.

What a jackass.

I give out these glittery pencils to kids at the office. However, they always take the red and blue ones; nobody likes the green or yellow ones. So I hvae a couple of packs of these left over.

The people who use the bus leave their grocery carts in the parking spots here. I'm a bit annoyed, but then again, there's no shopping cart corral anywhere nearby, and it'd be pretty risky to leave their groceries at the bus stop while they push the empty cart all the way back to the store. The store really should put a corral around here somewhere.

The Prius' auto mode for any sort of heating or cooling is feet only with the A/C on. I want face and feet with no A/C. I've heard that some new cars need the A/C for proper air cycling or something, but when it's freezing out and I want it 80 in the car, it shouldn't keep trying to use the A/C.

That's an interesting little heater. Didn't work very well, though.

I got the carpool lane sticker for the Prius.

I put it on along with my happy shark.

I like the pirate antenna ball, but since the antenna is in the back, it's a bit too much along with the shark and the carpool sticker, so I took it off. If the antenna was in front, though, I'd put it on to help find the car in parking lots.

Three priuses right next to each other; they're certainly popular, including almost all of the taxi cabs now.

I saw this photography light stand in the thrift store. I wonder if it'd be a good deal?

I can whip out my phone and look up the price of new ones on Amazon. One for $20 or two for $30.

This one costs $20 as well. It might be a bit better quality, but you're not saving any money.

I remember when Ron got a TMNT van that shot pizza disks for Christmas when we were kids. Best present ever; we spent the entire day shooting each other.

Play-Doh made into food shapes? That sounds like a horrible idea.

I finally figured out the confusing parking lot at the Target downtown. There are actually two separate spirals of parking spaces, one that you get into from the south and one from the north. Even when I validate my parking ticket at Target, there's a guy at the payment station that I have to get a second validation from. I realized the north entrance is for people who work in the building, so the machine that gives you the parking ticket from there isn't set up for the Target validation, and that's the one I always use; if you're shopping at Target, you're supposed to use the south entrance. I just drove around and around the whole parking structure to figure it out this time.

I don't know about an Advent Calendar that has the chocolate wrapped up in foil; it's supposed to be directly in the plastic.

Driving east in the morning to work has the sun right in my eyes and the sun visors don't go far enough to cover it.

What a horrible set of lotto numbers. First, I wanted five separate tickets to give the staff at work, but they all went onto a single printout, and second, the Mega number is three fives, a seven, and a nine. Bah.

The parking level is so confusing here. Parking level 6 is halfway between building level 4 and 5.

So there's this screwy staircase to get to it.

Yars' Revenge for the old Atari; I remember playing that.

We went to Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez's holiday open house Thursday night.

Everyone was supposed to bring a toy.

Jimmy Gomez speaking.

Me and him.

That doesn't look very safe.

Watching The Ref. We're working our way through Christmas movies. Bad Santa, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, and Scrooged are done; next up is Home Alone and Die Hard.

One of the less-than-pleasant surprises about parking on the streets in LA: puke on the sidewalk by the car.

And some human excrement on a piece of cardboard right behind it.

I love these "stuff whatever you can no matter how much it weighs into a box for the same price" boxes at the post office.

I've finally gotten pretty good a parallel parking the Prius. Turn the wheel all the way to the right when the back of car I'm beside passes the back of the back passenger window and turn the wheel all the way to the left when it gets around the middle of the front passenger window.

One problem with seeing poor patients is their kids are much more likely to run around, throw stuff, leave trash, and in this case, write in pen on a card I put on the wall. Really? You're gonna let your kid ruin this thank-you note I have?

My favorite aspect of Toyota vehicles is watching which letters fall off over time.

Gotta love the carpool lane.

This is a single lane, but since big trucks are always backed up turning left, people have basically turned the shoulder into a right-turn lane.

This is the worst-looking exit sign I've ever seen.

This homeless guy in a wheelchair stopped here. I think he was just trying to get money, but maybe he was sick or hurt. Either way, he was blocking traffic. Some woman came from the sidewalk and pushed him there.

Cutie to envy.

Ogii and I drove up north to get to an area that was dark enough to watch the meteor shower. We found out we didn't win the Mega Millions on the way there, so we bought new tickets when we stopped for gas.

We were getting in really late and staying in a small motel, so they just left the room key under the office mat.

We saw this fat raccoon in the parking lot when we woke up.

We got up at 4am because it was a full moon that evening. If you tried to look for meteors earlier the moon would be so bright you'd miss a lot. Moonset was at 4:30am and sunrise was around 6:30am, so between those was the best time to watch. Ogii saw the moon looking really neat over the ocean, so we stopped here and watched for meteors a bit.

Slightly different camera settings.

You can see a meteor way off to the left side, slightly below halfway down. The camera lens isn't very wide, so I didn't get many pictures, but we saw a lot, including one huge earthgrazer whose trail stayed visible for over 15 seconds.

Then we drove down to Morro Rock, which Ogii had never been to.

Watching for meteors there.

Next stop was the Pismo Beach butterfly grove.

I couldn't find any, but Ogii saw this cluster of them.

They just looked like dead leaves until the sun hit them. I thought there would be more, but we only saw that one group in one tree.

A random one on a post.

The sun between some trees.

A leaf they had chewed on.

Some interesting nuts.

Rudolph and a lot of stop signs.

Solvang was the next stop on our way back south to LA. It's modeled on an old Dutch town.

We grabbed breakfast here.

A windmill.

An old telephone booth.

The shops were designed to look old, but most weren't very authentic.

A little town center.

A panoramic of stores and the town center.

A copy of a famous mermaid fountain.

Another windmill.

An old clock.

There was an ostrich farm just outside of the town.

When we woke up and watched meteors it was around 30 degress outside; as the day went along and we drove south, it kept getting warmer.

Which resulted in Ogii wearing this winter outfit for our hike to see butterflies in 70-degree weather.

Our next stop was the Coronado Butterfly Preserve.

A little map.

A nice wooden bench.

This looks like it's the right way.

A little bridge.

As we were walking towards the butterflies, an old gentleman named Gilbert stopped us and asked us if we wanted to see some hummingbirds, so of course we said yes. He wasn't kidding; he had four feeders outside his house and probably 30 or so hummingbirds that would fly down from the nearby trees, eat a bit, and then fly back up.

A bunch on one feeder.

This one had a shiny green body.

And this one had a shiny purple neck.

The paths at the butterfly reserve were nicely wooded.

A bunch of butterflies on a branch.

And a bunch of bunches. Like the previous area, they were all on only a couple of trees.

One on a post.

Another nice path.

People looking at the butterflies.

This woman has some pretty big dogs with her.

Usually it's faster to take the highway rather than local roads, but not in this case.

That evening I went and played volleyball at LABV. We had planned on getting back around noon, but it was closer to 2pm, so I played more than took pictures until the end.

By that time, the sun made the players into neat outline.

Nice set.

Then I went down to the beach to get pictures of the sunset with the sailboats. There were also some birds flying around on occasion.

I saw these birds starting to fly down from the north, but the angle wasn't good, so I had to sprint to get this shot.

The waves coming up to a shell on the beach.

A photographer taking shots of a couple.

Just past the full moon.

Moon and palm trees.

And with a single bigger tree.