Saturday, January 31, 2015

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Geckos hanging out

My Tokay gecko is trying to hide, inadequately:

 My Grandis Geico gecko doesn't bother with the hiding thing.

The Raconteurs - Salute Your Solution, Nashville 2015-01-28

OK, here we go! Thank you Chuck Heeke, uploader, and whomever it was who dared to bootleg Jack White's ban on video, if that was someone else.

God, I miss the Raconteurs. Everyone I know seems to like Solo!Jack but I think he plays best when he's with other songwriters as strong as he is. Brendan Benson is one of the best collaborators, an awesome power pop songwriter who on his own lacks a bit of oomph, paired with Jack White, 100% pure pharmaceutical grade oomph who writes middling songs but plays the shit out of them. While the video above may not be the greatest ad for the Raconteurs - it sounds like they can't hear their voices on the monitor - it has all the energy and atmosphere you came to expect from them. Little Jack Lawrence and Dean Fertita are reunited with the twosome, but unfortunately not Patrick Keeler. Daru Jones was demolishing his drumkit drumming for them.  They also played Steady as She Goes, and if video of that goes up, I'll post it here as well.

I hope they do something new together this year.

More here at the Tennessean.

Edit: Steady As She Goes video is here.

Jack White and Loretta Lynn - Portland Oregon and Whispering Sea 2015-01-28

Here's Jack and Loretta singing Portland, Oregon on 01/28/15. Yes, I posted about that yesterday, but this is a video from an uploader with a tele lens, so you can see everyone on stage - including Jack Lawrence and Brendan Benson. Still waiting for video of the Raconteurs songs!

Edited to add - uploader Chuck Heeke has put up a second video of Whispering Sea.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Jack White and Loretta Lynn in concert 2015-01-28

Jack and Loretta sang Portland, Oregon, and Whispering Sea tonight in his hometown of Nashville.

He calls her 'the greatest lady singer-songwriter of the twentieth century'.

Edit:  Better resolution video here.

I am hearing that he also 'reformed the Raconteurs, but without Patrick' for Steady As She Goes and Salute Your Solution. I'm awaiting video on that to be sure. Edit: Video of Salute Your Solution here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Dana Point geology trip

On Saturday, we took a trip to Dana Point. A friend of ours we hadn't seen for over five years - but we have kept in touch with via mailing lists and Facebook - teaches a class on Earth Science, and local beach Dana Point is one of the field trips, where he gave a detailed presentation.

The 'point' in DP is a lump (technical term) of San Onofre Breccia, which is harder than the younger Capistrano Formation beside it, and comes to prominence at the point.

According to Caltrans,

The Early-Middle Miocene San Onofre Breccia: [...] great landslides fell down the slopes of a large landmass west of our present coastline. Catalina Island is a remnant of that landmass and cyrstalline Catalina-type rocks were eroded to form the San Onofre Breccia. The breccia formation has been uplifted by faulting and forms the headland of Dana Point. An estimate is that the speed of the landslides must have at times exceeded 100 mph to create such a large boulder breccia. The rocks and minerals include asbestos, serpentine, actinolite, fuchsite, epidote, chlorite, glaucophane, pyrite, magnetite and quartzite.

The Late Miocene to Early Pliocene Capistrano Formation: The marine Capistrano Formation is found in the southern part of the county. It ranges from Late Miocene to Early Pliocene in age and consists of poorly consolidated, fossiliferous, sandy-siltstone and mudstone. Sediment failures have caused extensive landsliding in the San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente areas. Turbidite deposits may be seen in the sea cliffs between Dana Point and San Onofre. Turbidites are deposits of marine sediment formed by undersea mud slides or turbidity currents that dump sediment into graded layers: the larger-sized gravel falls first, followed upward by progressively finder sediment grains. the base of the turbidite is a sharp accumulation of the coarse gravels. The top of a turbidite deposite is often difficult to define because the fine-grained, last to settle sediments, blend with the natural "grain size" of marine sediments. 

Our friend Professor Phil giving a presentation about the 
cliff of San Onofre Breccia. (My photo.)

A short walk off to the right of that picture is the junction of the San Onofre Breccia with the Capistrano Formation, and therein lies a tale. 

Dana Point is quite lovely, and the locals have always had a fascination with building as close as possible to the edge of the cliffs so the inhabitants can admire the view. More or less concurrently, they've always moved to edge out surfers - who used to love Stillwater Bay and its long pier - in favor of hordes of yacht captains who pay massive berthing fees just to have a boat in the water. 

So Dana Point used to look like this: 

That picture is from this site, which has great pictures and anecdotes about DP's surfing history. 

In the twenties, Sidney Woodruff, developer of Hollywood(land), wanted to build Dana Point Inn on the top of the cliffs just to the right of the picture above. He built concrete arches and some of the superstructure directly on the edge of the cliff, and put in a tunnel (through the soft Capistrano Formation) to the bottom of the cliff as an elevator shaft. 

The Depression interfered with his plans, and all that's left of the Inn are the concrete arches, still perched at the edge of the cliff.  (Photo above from this page.)

The tunnel ended up being used for bootleg liquor shipped in from Mexico and smuggled to a speakeasy above. 

Here's Phil talking to his students about Prohibition. (My photo.) You can see how far back the cliffs have retreated by the way the tunnel door is no longer flush with the rock. 

This is what the Capistrano Formation looks like, just to the right of the picture above:
 (My photo.)

And here's a piece of rock from the cliff the builders have left on the ground, presumably so Geology Professors can explain the history of the rock.

(My photo.)

So the 1920s adventure came to naught. However, from the forties on, people were determined to monetarize Dana Cove. In the early 1960s, Dana Point was being prepped for the new harbor, and now looked like this:
(Photo is a crop of a postcard.)

You can see the dirt track is now a road sloping up from center to top left, with grading below, and some shoring up has been done on the fault where the red San Onofre Breccia to the left meets the sand-colored Capistrano Formation, top  right.

In 1971, Dana Point Harbor was built, with space for 2,500 yachts. The pier was shortened, a breakwater was constructed (to the dismay of the surfers) and a great deal of concrete was strewn about to keep the sea away from the cliffs and generally build things. At that time a restaurant was proposed, called The Quiet Cannon, to sit exactly on top of the fault right at the edge of the cliff. According to this paper by Scott Kerwin, it was generally known to be a not-unarguably-good idea even at the time, but the restaurant went ahead. When the inevitable slope failure occurred in 1980 the restaurant (now called Cannons and a really nice place to get Sunday Brunch btw) sued Orange County.  The County accepted responsibility for clean up, and shored the cliff up. There's a detailed explanation in the above paper, and two illustrations, which I've cleaned up a bit to post here. 

The landslip under Cannons. (Photo from Kerwin.)

Remediation: A crib wall at the bottom, and a concrete structure at the top of the cliff, held in place by greater than 100 foot long rock anchors. (Photo from Kerwin.)

^^ If I'm reading that report correctly, San Juan Capistrano is basically made out of pudding with pebbles in it, on a steep tilt, and the land is likely to disappear under me at any moment. 

In the 21st century, Dana Point looks like this:

Although this looks south-east, opposite direction to photos above, you can orient by the the pier, visible nearly half way up and just to the right left of center. 

According to, there is a time capsule beneath the rock work of the harbor due to be opened on August 29th, 2016, 50 years after the surfing at Killer Dana came to an end. Exciting!

Oh, and it was nice talking to Phil as well. :)

Sunday, January 18, 2015


Sunset tonight was curved, so for a moment, it looked like we were on a moon of a big, banded, gas giant.


Like this one. Jupiter (upside down).

Courtesy NASA.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Road Worrier update

Alas, the famous twin lampposts of San Juan Capistrano are no more.

They used to look like this.

Which I think was a much better effect.

On the other hand, the unbelievable acreage of road that has been produced here is actually quite useful, as instead of going through the center of town at 1 mph, I can zip up the 75 new lanes, turn left a bit and be home in seconds. It was worth the $70 million or whatever.

On another note, I went on foot to McDonalds to take this picture and had to go past some 16 year old douchebucket who mocked the way I walked as I went past. This makes him literally the third person of American origin I've met who has acted like a total shitweasel. Since I've met tens of thousands, I can confidently say Americans are generally saints compared with English people. That makes American world policing and domestic policing so hard to understand - everyone's so nice in person but collectively they're somewhere between "kill it with fire" and "nuke it from orbit, it's the only way to be sure" when it comes to security.*

*Not that Brits are any less punitive, but at least you know that's how we are as soon as you meet more than three of us.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Get It On, T. Rex (video)

Excellent T. Rex Bang a Gong (Get It On) performance.

The sound has suffered a little from  multiple generations, but perhaps you could sync your pristine vinyl with the excellent video.
The exact provenance of the video isn't known, according to the Youtube uploader.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Pheasant plucking's done

RIP Lance Percival.

I recently watched as much sixties British satirical comedy as I could find, including some TW3 (That Was The Week That Was) and John Lancelot Blades Percival was one of the greats.

His schtick was to ask for a phrase, place or event from the audience and then make it into an instant calypso.  I saw him live once, and he asked the audience for an occupation. A man shouted out "pheasant plucker" and without missing a beat, literally, Lance sang:

I am a pheasant plucker
I'm a pheasant plucker's son
And I won't stop pheasant plucking
Till the pheasant plucking's done

Which I can't even type out without making the obvious error. It probably wasn't original even then, but in (I'm guessing) 1965 it's a pretty brave thing to attempt in front of a live audience.  I'm having difficulty fitting it to a calypso beat, but I was about seven when I heard it - there may be more syllables in there that I've forgotten.


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