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2021 December 31

Fifty-fourth weight progress report

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 10:40
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This post is yet another weight progress report, continuing the previous one, part of a long series since I started in January 2015.


My weight has been fairly steady for the past four months.


I’m at the high end of what I consider acceptable and 16 pounds heavier than I want to be.

For October–December, my bike riding averaged 1.86 miles/day—still way too small.  It probably did not help that I stopped going up to campus when live bread-and-tea was cancelled after Nov 12.

I’ve averaged about 6.7k steps/day over the last 3 months. A big chunk of the steps still comes from doing the “secret walks” once a week, but I’ve also been walking with a friend about once a week.  My wife and I have almost finished doing all the walks in  Secret Walks & Staircases in Santa Cruz, by Debbie Bulger and Richard Stover, and soon we’ll have to start making up our own routes.  I think that on-campus walks will be a good start, though my wife will probably want to take the bus to or from campus, as just walking to and from Science Hill is 6 miles.

2021 December 26

Christmas tree 2021

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 13:27
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We have used live Christmas trees for a long time (see the 2015 version), but in 2018 the one we were using was getting too big for its pot and was as heavy as we could get up the stairs, so we put a “free” sign on it and left it by the sidewalk—it was gone within a week.  My wife found a new live tree in a tiny pot that someone else had left out for free, which we have used ever since (see the 2019 decoration of the tiny tree).

The tree has grown a bit, and the pot and tree now weighs something like 60 pounds—I can still lift it by myself onto the table, but if I have to repot it, it will get too heavy for that.  We used a somewhat unusual tree topper this year.


Here is the whole tree, in a much larger pot than in 2019.


The tree topper is a Buddha’s hand fruit from the New Leaf grocery store.


Here is the tree topper from the other side.

2021 December 23

Secret Walks: Wilder Ranch

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 16:41
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On Saturday 18 December, my wife and I  walked the Wilder Ranch walk from Secret Walks & Staircases in Santa Cruz, by Debbie Bulger and Richard Stover. The walk is 3.2 miles, but we added 1.6 miles to get to the start and 2.0 miles to get home, for a total of 6.8 miles.  The walk back was longer, because we stopped to get groceries at New Leaf on the way.


I showed this industrial building in an earlier post—the graffiti has been added to since then.


Across Highway 1 a herd of cows were grazing on the newly green grass—this one stood on the top of the cliff and looked like it was contemplating jumping. I apologize for the low quality of the image—digital zoom is useless.


The horse ranch and surrounding fields are for sale (214 acres for $30 million).


This tall plant (an agave?) has a nice silhouette.


The pasture at Wilder Ranch is unusually green, thanks to the early rainfall this year.


Some of the old farm equipment at Wilder Ranch is just left outside to rust.


But some is carefully displayed under a roof—still subject to rust, but not quite as quickly.


The driveshaft and pulleys in the machine shop make a pleasant abstract image—I think I’ll add a higher-resolution version of this to my Zoom backgrounds. The power is coming diagonally up from a Pelton wheel off the bottom right of the image. The Pelton wheel is no longer connected to plumbing, so the entire machine shop is a static display.


The drill press is a particularly elegant piece of machinery. There is also a wood lathe and a number of grinding wheels.


The blooming aloe was quite attractive to birds, but I was unable to get a clear picture of any of the birds, despite several attempts. Later in the walk, I failed to get a usable picture of soaring turkey vultures.


The aloe plants have tunnels through them large enough for kids to crawl through.


This multi-trunk tree is one of my wife’s favorite things at Wilder Ranch.


The multi-trunk tree clearly had some beetles that a woodpecker was trying to get.


The fields that used to be all brussels sprouts were planted with pumpkins this year. Most of the brussels sprouts in the US come from San Mateo, Santa Cruz, and Monterey counties—it seems a shame to plant the much more common pumpkins instead.


On the way back, I photographed this sewage spill from the leachate line from the city dump, just a little west of Shaffer Road. I’ll be sending this photo to the City.

I tried taking a number of pictures of birds on this walk, but none of them came out well. I really have to get a new camera soon, as the cell phone doesn’t really do the job (despite being easy to carry).

We had a good lunch (panini) at 11th Hour Cafe, which replaces Kelly’s Bakery, then went to New Leaf for grocery shopping.

Secret Walks: Metro Center-Ocean View

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 12:26
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On Saturday 11 December, my wife and I  walked the Metro Center-Ocean View walk from Secret Walks & Staircases in Santa Cruz, by Debbie Bulger and Richard Stover. The walk is 3.7 miles, but we added 2.4 miles getting to and from the official walk, plus 0.1 mile for a side trip to the Buttery, for a total of 6.2 miles.


The gingko leaves seem to have a more synchronized fall than many of the trees here, covering the pavement with a colorful carpet.


The water level in the river was extremely low—a very stark contrast to a few days later, when water rose to flood the homeless encampment visible in the background. (Allowing the homeless encampment between the levees during rainy season never made any sense.)


The mallards enjoy the duck pond in San Lorenzo Park.


Cork oaks are not native to California, but they seem to do well here, and they have beautiful bark.


The mural on the Starbucks is new (but the whole building here is fairly new).


The mosaic on the Chase bank building is pointed out in the book, but it seems rather awkwardly composed to me.


The stained glass inside the bank is a little more interesting.


I was rather amused by this sign that seems to have replaced “CHILDREN AT PLAY” with “LIMITED SIGHT”. I guess they figured that car drivers no longer care if they run over children.


This flowering shrub (probably some species of leucadendron) makes a colorful splash.


This Little Free Library (on Branciforte Ave, if I remember right) was the first of three we saw.


Another fairly recent mural on Soquel.


Branciforte Plaza is now office, retail, and restaurant space, but it was originally built as a hospital. I’ve never been inside it.


The second Little Free Library is unusually placed on a driveway off of Ocean View.


This photo shows only a tiny portion of the model railroad on Ocean View, which fills the front yard (and presumably the back yard) of the house.


The third Little Free Library is by Ocean View Park, where we stopped to eat pastries from the Buttery. The bear claw was a little disappointing, but the marionberry puff was quite good. While in the park, I had to try out the long slides, which I remembered from 20 years ago. They have put ripples in the slide so that they are now quite slow—not the way I remember them.


We’d never previously visited the little park called Riverside Gardens. We did not see anyone else there either, despite the fine weather, so I guess it is not a very popular park. (The skate park about a block away was very busy, though.)


I did like this bicycle parking sculpture in Riverside Gardens, though it is not obviously a bike parking rack and needed a sign to let people know!


I’ve often seen these mosaic-covered stairs (the Barson Street stairs) from the top , but this is the first time I’ve walked up them.


We stopped downtown for a slice of pizza and visiting Bookshop Santa Cruz, so the sun was setting as we walked home.

I tried taking a number of pictures of birds on this walk, but none of them came out well.  I really have to get a new camera soon, as the cell phone doesn’t really do the job (despite being easy to carry).

2021 December 14

Which cover?

Filed under: Circuits course — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 14:50
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My publisher has sent me 3 mock-ups of the cover for the book.  Which of them do you think will sell best?  (I know which one I like best, I think, but that is less important than how well the book will sell.)  I’ve converted their files to PNG for the blog—the real covers have much better resolution.


Peach cover


Blue cover


Brown cover

2021 Dec 28: We’re going with the blue cover.

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