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We've had a couple of "yellow alerts" from the weather guy, and now we're on red even though it doesn't look like we will have First Flush today.  The radar doesn't seem to indicate enough rain to measure, and the pilot storm drains are dry, but it does keep sprinkling on and off.

So I'm doing a dry run in my rain gear.  I shortened my rain pants so now they totally work with my silly rain boots.  They're really snow boots, which got to go to Prague last winter, so they're not as waterproof as I'd like, and they only fit without socks, thougfh they're really cozy without socks.  And they're off-white and have fake fur on the top, but that gets hidden inside my totally butch green rain pants.  And my styling blue raincoat.

After First Flush, I will keep these out so on the days of heaviest rain I don't have to completely change my clothes when I get to work.  The steep uphill block on Laurel Street seems to channel the rain downhill, so no matter which way the wind is blowing elsewhere in town, you get it full in the face when you're walking up the hill.

Know what's cool about that?  I know that because this is going to be my second winter walking up that hill to my babies!


Oct. 12th, 2009 10:23 pm
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It's gently drizzling out there, but Jason from NOAA says that it will be a good storm sometime after midnight. I should go to bed and get a couple hours' sleep.

It's almost routine after six years. I'm certainly not all tenterhooks like I have been in the past. Ho-hum it's First Flush.

Up till a few days ago it wasn't clear whether we were going to do the City of Santa Cruz this time or just Live Oak and a bit of South COunty. The city came through with the money, but very late, and required all the people who had once applied for measure E money to re-apply, and that cut all the time very short. Measure E is where the people of Santa Cruz said yeah, let's put some tax money towards moniutoring and mitigating the stresses on the environment.

So anyway I was assigned to a site I've never seen -- we couldn't reconnaissance it during the dry run event last month because it's behaind a locked gate and the city of Capitola hadn't got around to giving us a key, so the person who was my partner at the time and I went to this other spot to reconnoiter, and we discovered a dry ditch. But now that the city is on board, I'm back to my first true love of all storm drains, the culvert at the end of Woodrow Avenue, home to a thug's garden, kind of tame compared to some places I've been but my dear friend after all these years. Is it wrong to love a storm drain?


That's what's up with me.

edit, hours later: hours and hours and nothing measurable. No First Flush tonight.

still later: we're doing it but my group is not responding.
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I'm going out the door in a few minutes to go sample water from the storm drain under Capitola Wharf. On the way I'm getting my young friend Rebeccah and taking her to the site we call "Creekside" where Soquel Creek runs under Highway 1. I'm just waiting for my team captain to call. I've been on the phone off and on tonight as we discuss whether the rain is enough to "call it." (isn't it fun how every endeavor develops its own lingo?) Around eight o'clock, they had called it in Ukiah (way up north). A few minutes ago, they called it in San Gregorio (fifty miles or so up the coast). We just called it in Santa Cruz, and Capitola is right after (except once in a while the storm is narrow enough to call it in one place and not the other). I can hear the rain now.

We won't be counting fish tomorrow because the first rain is pretty stressful for the fish already, since it brings down all the loose sediment that hasn't been washed out for six months. But Emma and I are going to go kelp viewing. It's kind of like cherry blossom viewing, or fall leaves viewing, except that it's on the beaches after an early winter storm. Low tide is too early in the morning, so we're just going whenever.

Later, I'm going to a Move On calling party. Damn right. We need a landslide: it has to be absolutely ironclad against trickery.

In other news, my copy of The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror arrived. The stories are in there alphabetically by author's name, which means I'm right before Tanith Lee. And I got the email heads-up that I'm getting the contract for the story about latent sexes to appear in the online magazine The Hub.

I'm thinking about flannel.

It's pretty wet out there. I love the smell of rain.


Oct. 10th, 2007 11:25 am
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the "surge." Hell, it's less than I usually pay for shoes.

Also. First Flush last night. Rain started at midnight, right after I gave up and brushed my teeth. Bed at 3:30 this morning. Tooth cleaning at 8:00. I am literally staggering.

It was beautiful, though. Wet and windy and we were perched on the riprap above the swirling waters and my camera won't take pictures at night even with the nighttime setting. I don't know when I finally warmed up.
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Maybe tonight. Gotta go label collection bottles and check my kit. Also, cooler? Ice? got to get. Also, I fit into my rain pants now!

Unfortunately, that also means that my rain jacket from the same set is way too big. As are most of my clothes.
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First Flush training this morning and this afternoon I get a free entry to Long Marine Lab for being so good. And right now, I'm writing the final set piece for the suitable lover, the first time I've worked on it since the last time the computer went south.

This year I'm team captain for the Merced outfall. My team and I went up there to scope the place out and discuss where to collect the water samples from. It's not obvious, because the culvert ends in a pile of riprap on the cliff. There's a wee opening in the riprap, into which the five gallon bucket will barely fit. After that? cliff, rocks, and the bay. We considered trying for a more open spot down the cliff and I suddenly realized these were the rocks where one of my former students was swept away by a big wave during a rather mediocre winter storm. So we don't want to go down the cliff when it's raining.

But the dog thinks I'm useless. Laters for you, pooch.

Also, my friend Anton has as a running joke the scenario of a crew coming into an office claiming to be there to replace the yellow ink on all the printers, because you hardly ever use any yellow ink!

Apparently, flesh tones use a hell of a lot of yellow ink. We're out again.
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Back in the day, alienation was the thing to think about and talk about. The alienation of labor, the alienation of youth. All kinds of alienation. Today I heard a heartrending story of alienation. It has a comical moment in it.

Today was First Flush for Capitola. I don't expect you to remember what that is. Every year, during the first hours of the first measurable rain storm of the season, we go out and get samples of the water that comes through selected storm drains. This is really early. We hadn't even had our trainings, and we didn't have our teams set up or our phone tree. But we had a false alarm a few days ago so we were actually kind of ready. Fortunately we only got measurable rain in Capitola, and not in Santa Cruz, because we had only a minimal group to go out and we would not have been able to cover Santa Cruz as well. It does mean we're going to go out again sometime probably in the next month, when we get enough rain in Santa Cruz.

I was really fortunate. I was assigned to my favorite spot on Soquel Creek. It's not the most beautiful. It's pretty nice, but all summer during Urban Watch it was dry as a bone because of the fancy cachements that have been built in the parking lot of the shopping center that used to drain into the creek there. Along the bank of the creek, they're doing a renaturalizing project with native plants (some of which seem dubious for that exact spot, but what do I know?).

The exciting thing is the beehive. This is the one I have been talking about for the last two summers, first because it was such a beautiful thing, and so strange: the hive started in a birdhouse and grew out of it in undulating formations like Gaudi's tiled benches or like the growth patterns of certain shelf fungus. D'Arcy Thompson all over again. Last year it appeared to be a healthy hive, golden, buzzing, growing: it seemed like you could smell the honey and wax from the group. And it was a good five meters or more above the ground. This year it's silent, bleached and stained, though it does look like there is a bee or bee-like organism living there. So I like the spot.

I was fortunate, too, in the people I went out with. I've never gone out with these two before, but they were amiable and fun to go with. One was the well-known "Steve from Capitola Public Works" who gets out data reports and intercedes for us when somebody locks a gate that keeps us out of areas we need to go to. The other one was another middle-aged grad student. Apparently there is a growing cohort of mostly women who weren't science students when they were young but are science students now. This one, Nancy, told me about Astro the unfortunately bonded steller sea lion. This sweetie bonded so thoroughly to people that when he was released to the wild he kept coming back again. He joined a children's walk-a-thon, for example. And he swam back to land when they tried releasing him at Ano Nuevo where he came from, or at Farallones, he just swam back. So now he has to go live as a demonstration animal.

This is the alienation I was thinking about thiis evening, but I'm serioualy falling asleep so I have to explore the implications later.

Also, today I held an impromptu party for the relatives. And finally, the nice fellow and I met up with Zac and his mother and we saw (and danced to) Yuri Yunankov and his band.

This is what 30 pounds less and a tailored diet does: I never gasped for my breath and when I started sweating I didn't get clammy. I only stopped because the nice fellow was falling asleep and I began to worry about various tendons and nerve. I bought two records.
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2:00 am and NOAA shows "trace" of rain. I'm going to bed.
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So (personhead)redbird says the google hitson my name might have been mostly people searching ritaxis, and so I decided to look at that out of curiosity's sake. It was about what I expected: about evenly me and the nice fellow in the first few pages, and a sprinkling of Frank's bbs activity and his Pokemon D&D thing, and one hit each for Meribel Taxis and some art student in Canada who signs his Deviantart page ~ritaxis. And then there's one or two references to a misspelled gastropod of the Caribbean and Florida shores also called "Adam's Baby Bubble," which is a dumb name for a snail.

Okay. That's not bad. But there are two or three hits to nonexistent sites which reference my private webstorage space. Get that: nonexistent. By private, I mean there are no links to that space anywhere that I know of. Of course I know that it's not deeply hidden: but it would take a bot or someone who knew me to uncover it. You shouldn't be able to find it by casually messing around not knowing what you're looking for. It's storage. Even though both of those sites are nonexistent, the references on Google do contain the whole address of . . . a novel that's being stored for safety in that space, and which is not meant to be read in that space, because it's in submission for normal print publication. I tried to get Google to remove those two dead pages, without success. I get cannot be displayed errors when I try to use the auto remove thing. Maybe I'll call them on the phone.

I looked at the cached pages, and they are identical. It looks like they were two attempts to create the same Mp3 site, and that they did use some kind of bot to gather links for the band featured on the page, which has the same name as my file (but not my novel). I wonder what they thought they were accomplishing by having such badly-vetted pages.

Look, I know I don't have my stuff stored in a top secret place, and I know it doesn't really harm me if someone gets a peek at my unpublished stuff. But, still: it shouldn't be that easy to find the stuff I'm not trying to show you.

On another front: I just got a call and I might be going out to check water quality on Soquel Creek around midnight tonight. NOAA is calling for at least .1 of an inch of rain stretching down to Monterey. This is thirty days, I think, since we got First Flush in Santa Cruz.
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I'm working really slowly on a total rewrite of chapter four of Afterwar. This is a chapter whose purpose is a little obscure, and the way it was originally written it was really hard to care about. But after getting the critique on the first three chapters I have an additional goal for every chapter: which is to establish and advance my man of action as a man of action, and not a depressive and passive creature like most of my protagonists. So in chapter four, originally, there was a bunch of stuff that just happened, and then Pablo organized a charity drive among the kids at his school, and then there was some video that caught his attention. So I moved things around and changed things so the "stuff that happened" was mostly initiated by Pablo, and the controversy which was mentioned in passing before is moved more front and center and Pablo gets to be in the middle of it. But he's not omnipotent, and it's not his eloquence but a distant disaster that changes everybody's mind about things.

It's going slowly because I'm having to do a lot of invention. Usually when I write I already know most of what goes where and the only invention that happens is that weird speaking-in-tongues thing when stuff just comes out of nowhere. This is more deliberate and I have to keep stopping and thinking "What? What? How does that go?" which gives me excuses to play a round of Bunch, which is the most addicting game on the planet and I've had to restrict myself to one round at a time because otherwise four hours will go by. Only a five-level demo is online, but I don't even play all five levels: I play to maximize the score on the first level (which is a way I often end up playing these move-the-marbles games). When I first started playing, I was please to get a score in the eight hundreds. Today I got one which was nearly eight thousand and because of details that I noticed I am pretty sure that I could break eight thousand.

Oi. I'm an addict, pure and simple.

On another front, I have promised to cut tile today, but I'm worried about it because the tile saw throws water everywhere and I don't currently have a place where it's okay to throw water around. And the poor nice fellow finally had a two-day weekend and they called him in to work today because the other guy didn't show. So he's not going to find me a tarp and I'll have to ask Frank because I can't go in the shed or under the house because of past rodent occupation.

and lastly: it's a lovely day, and the ground is still wet from the first rain of the season, even though it was barely enough to call the First Flush event (and not enough in Capitola, so I think I'll be doing Urban Watch there one more time).
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So they called the first real rain of the season today at about 5:30, and I'm up the mountain at Gloria's until 7:30 or 8. I'll swing by the "hub" -- a house where the stuff is dropped off -- to see if I can help, but I expect by the time I get there all the excitement will be over. And I found some nifty rain pants at the Goodwill today, too, when I took Gloria there.

October fourth and the rainy season has begun, more or less. It's really more of what I call "will it really rain again?" season. Because sometimes the first rain is followed by a dry spell. It also puts me in an awkward position re the boy who I'm not really letting sleep on my couch (because I just can't stand having him there all the time, sorry). I meant to have him set up before now, but I don't. I may have to let him sleep there a few more times, which will annoy Frank and Emma and the nice fellow very much. While it was summer, and dry and warm enough at night, I could afford to be cold about it.

Even though our climate is completely clement, it is not healthy to get wet here and stay wet for a long time. Every year a few people die out there -- usually old, ill, or alcoholic or junkies, but occasionally a young healthy sober person too.

This just in: the FBI has decided that there is some criminality involved in the spinach fiasco and has raided Grower's Express, a packing company which has not been mentioned in any of the reports or investigations till now. They say they're investigating allegations that somebody somewhere might not have taken all the necessary steps to insure spinach safety before putting the bagged salads into interstate commerce.

You know what? This is bullshit. They can't find contaminants at the packing sheds they've already looked at. They won't find contaminants in the office records of this company either. What they're doing is seizing on an opportunity to make the Office of Homeland Security look like it gives a damn about something. By turning it into an FBI action instead of an FDA action, they've turned it from a medical and scientific issue into a political one. (that is, they've robbed the issue of its last scientific vestiges and thrown it into the depths of political maneuvering).

On another front, I'm doing substantial rewrites on Afterwar because I have seen all these places where my men of action can actually act.

Futurismic didn't want "convoy."

And I'm thinking about expanding "what to do with a thousand lemons" into a bookful of flash fictions with lemon recipes. Is that a good idea?
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So, I know those of you who live in less clement climes are anxiously awaiting the year's first snowfall, and those of you who live on the other other side of the world are watching your days grow longer, but around here, it's the rain we're looking out for.

The weather report says maybe showers Tuesday, to which I reply "better fucking not," because I'm with Gloria all day Tuesday and if it rains before seven-thirty I've basically missed out on the First Flush event and that would be tragic.

What else did I learn at First Flush training today? Well, there's been new ocean disease research and the implications are interesting. Toxoplasmosis is endemic in birds and rodents -- it mostly doesn't make them sick even. Any animal that eats birds and rodents sheds toxoplasmosis in its feces. Any feces that are washed over by rainfall runoff releases toxoplasmosis into that water, and the water is carried in the storm drains to the ocean, where it lives and gets picked up by ocean animals. Otters get the disease and they have seizures and other brain disorders (makes me wonder about that bad-actor otter that was raping and killing baby seals a while back). Makes me wish I had a box cat instead of an outdoors cat.

Also, red tide organisms (there are multiples) like most kinds of nutrients in the water but what they really love is urea, which gets into the bay by way of lawn fertilizer runoff and, again, mammalian excretion. Fertilizer is a big one. Also feedlot runoff, in some areas. This was tested two ways -- in vitro, with colonies in different media, and with enhanced aerial photography, which showed the red tide oranisms really concentrating in the water around the outfalls.

Remember how I said that Huntington Beach and Santa Cruz had each claimed the right to be called "Surf City?" Huntington Beach won. In court. They started the beef, they took it to court, and now that they've won . . . they've issued "cease and desist" letters to little surf shops selling t-shirts with "Santa Cruz Surf City" logos on them. Yes, they have.

Which elevates the issue from a stupid little NorCal-SoCal rivalry to another of those "property rights trumps freedom of expression" events. It makes an insignificant little bit of community marketing into a minor, but significant, attack on the first ammendment.

But how can anybody fight it? This is the same week that Congress just suspended habeas corpus.
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The cat came into bed wet and it woke me right up. I had gotten email yesterday saying "rain is no longer expected this weekend." But it's rain ing out there, sure as hell's a mantrap, as the nice fellow says. I've found something like a raincoat but not my rainhat and I'm about to put on some clothes and call the First Flush person. Meanwhile I can't take the nice fellow's drive to work car and mine has a spare on it because I've gotten yet another flat tire but it's only a couple of miles, maybe three, roundtrip, to my storm drain and the First FLush "hub."

The song that's on my mind right now isthe great Jimmie Rodgers' "Blue Yodel Number Nine." I thought I had heard them all but this one has Louis Armstrong on the trumpet (muted and sexy as all getout) and Lil Hardin-Armstrong on the piano.

It just seems utterly significant to me that the guy called "the father of country music" -- a genre which most people think is really, well, white -- was so thoroughly black in sound and style. And some idiots have the utter ignorance to call Elvis Prsley the "first crossover artist." When it's clear that the very roots of American music are so plaited and tangled that crossing over is almost a meaningless term until after Presley.

I think the rain stopped but I'm not going back to bed. But I am giving the computer to the nice fellow.
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Making flowers!

We had twoi First Flush false alarms this weekemd . . . but no rain. Am I ready? My plants are.

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