Author Archives: Alan Bates

Skywatch Friday – Afternoon Outlaw Hike at Oxley Nature Center

Earlier this week I wanted some outside time and wanted to try something different so I decided to do some running/hiking at Oxley Nature Center. Flat, no rocks, no people, perfect.

Huh!?

So I took the back way in which is the closest access to downtown and I knew they had some gates they close on weekends and late at night. When I got there I found this locked gate??? So, okay, I’ll just go with it. So I parked outside the gate and stepped over it and off I went. There were no signs saying I couldn’t.

Just before the trailhead I found this group of wildflowers.

I got to the trail and started down it and noticed that it hadn’t been mowed or much of anything done in the way of maintenance. Oxley holds half the worlds population of ticks and chiggers and so I had doused myself with deet before I left the car so I wasn’t too worried.

The boardwalk had damage and had not been cleared or anything. By now, I was thinking that maybe I shouldn’t be there but I was also kind of into it pretty far so I just plowed on ahead.

See that tunnel up ahead, that is where the trail goes!

I didn’t get any photos because I wasn’t fast enough but I saw lots of deer running through the woods, a raccoon, and a turtle. Also, lots and lots of small frogs hopping here, there and everywhere.

At the far reach of the North Woods Loop the trail was completely overgrown and I was convinced that the trail was probably closed. See that bench up there? I am a rule follower and if I had known the trail was closed I wouldn’t have gone down it. I guess that I should check the web site. I don’t generally do that before going hiking.

I love being on trails where there is nobody else. In maybe fifteen years of going on this trail I have literally seen maybe a dozen people, probably less. I love it especially on bitterly cold sunny windy cold days. There is no wind at ground level but you can hear the wind howling through the trees above. I know I am weird, but I love that.

It is quite watery their. The area borders Lake Yahola, Bird Creek, and some oxbow lakes formed off Bird Creek. I am glad I was deeted up as this is mosquito heaven.

Toward the end of my outing, the sky reflecting off one of the oxbow lakes.

And another sky photo.

And an aerial view of my outing. Not very long but I enjoyed myself immensely. And I can report that apparently I put enough deet on, I only have two mosquito bites on the back of my neck.

I am linking with Skywatch Friday, come join in!

Asymetrical Warfare – Drone Attack on Saudi Arabia

I read with a little alarm and much interest about the drone attack on the Saudi Arabian Abqaiq Oil Processing Facility and other infrastrucutre recently. Big deal I say. Yes, it is a big deal, the Abqaiq facility with a capacity of 7 million barrels per day and 5 million throughput is shut down for now! That gets my attention! The Houthis of Yemen are taking credit while the US claims that Iran is behind the attack. It turns out that the Iranians have drones with a theoretical range of almost a thousand miles!!

I say theoretical because the Iranians do not have satellites so they have to use ground stations to control their drones which limits their effective range to 100 to 200 miles depending on what you read.

Still not worried about it? How about the following video which shoes Iranian Drone video of an American Aircraft Carrier taken from directly over the ship?

Don’t get too excited. Iran has great social media people and there is a lot of speculation that the video was faked using video available on the internet. If you have ever looked at Iranian Military social media you will know that they are very enthusiastic but not convincing, and I am not convinced.

What I get excited about is that Iran has well developed drone technology that have used in battle in Syria and other places. hundreds of times. Meet the second generation Shahed 129 drone, their most advanced drone.

According to Wikipedia, this aircraft attempted an attack on coalition personnel but failed. Also, the US Air Force shot down one down. It can carry about to four bombs or missiles, and/or conduct surveillance. From what I read a lot of the US sanctions and embargoes have been efforts to keep the Iranians from increasing the capabilities of their drone technologies.

The US is accusing the Iranians of launching the attacks on Abqaiq. This all points to Asymetrical Warfare which involves war between combatants with vastly unequal capabilities. This seems to be something that American leadership consistently does not take into account and we suffer as a result. The Iranians, the Houthis, Al Qaida, whoever, would be stupid to try and match up the United States and our Allies in stand warfare. They would be wiped out. So they develop other, cheaper strategies that tend to drive us crazy, IED’s for example, that neutralize our advantage.

You always have to be ready for unexpected is what I have learned over the years and one is most vulnerable when you feel most invulnerable. Somebody may not be playing by the rules you set. They will have their own rules. It appears that ten inexpensive drones easily defeated a world class air defense system and shut off five million barrels per day of oil from the world’s energy supply.

Our World – American Beauty Berries

During our hike in southeast Oklahoma’s Beavers Bend State Park last week, we saw some beautiful purple colored berries. Consulting my iNaturlists App later on it looked like they were American Beauty Berries. They are native to the area and apparently everybody but me knew all about them.

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Callicarpa americana

They are also known as the French Mulberry. Deer eat the leaves, birds eat the fruit. Humans can eat the berries which appear in late Summer or early Fall. A few my instagram and facebook followers report they have made jam and jelly with the berries. They reportedly have a slight medicinal taste. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center reports that Native Americans made tea out of the berries, foliage, and roots to treat various ailments. The Foraging Texas web site has other information about the plant and its berries including a recipe to make jelly out of them. (If you are going to do that, please do not pick your berries at a State Park or any other similar place.)

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I doubt that I will be eating any but I love the soft purple color. I think I have seen them on Tulsa’s Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness. They stand out among the various shades of green.

I am linking with Our World Tuesday, come join in!

You Can Keep Your Yeti

33 years ago I paid about 33 bucks for this cooler at a Target in Oklahoma City to use for a company picnic. My wife and I used it this past weekend for a trip. We packed it full of food and sprinkled a couple bags of ice in it and later in the day when we unpacked our food, the contents were still cold and most of the ice was still frozen.
I guess I’ll keep it a few more years.

Skywatch Friday – Little Dixie Skies

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This past weekend my wife and I ventured down to southeast Oklahoma to celebrate our 30th Wedding Anniversary. Southeast Oklahoma is quite mountainous and woodsy, think Arkansas. In Oklahoma it is called “Little Dixie” because it is so different in a lot of ways from the rest of Oklahoma which is mainly western in nature. Think Arkansas

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Our first day we went hiking, just a nice short 3.3 mile route and it kicked our rear ends. Part of the issue was it was almost 100F and had a lot of vertical, about 800 feet overall. But you know, we would walk for a while and rest for a while and pretty soon it was over. And we were tired at the end of the day.

After the first 200 yards, we did not see anybody. I guess most people were smarter than we were.

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We stopped at this tree for a break. I’ve read a lot about “Native American Guide Trees” online where people claim that Native Americans shaped trees like this as guides to routes and water and other things. I am very skeptical as I see very little original information plus it seems like a very labor intensive way to transmit information. But my my mind is still open to the possibility.

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So yep, the hike was a little hard for us but we were happy to be doing it.

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Heather is always ready for anything.

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I loved the look of the light filtering through the leaves.

She had some fun with me. I love geocaching, she not so much but she is good at it. We were looking for one and she found it when I could not and she taunted me a little bit. That’s all right!! I guess I’ll keep her. After 30 years we have learned a lot about each other.

Later on in the week, she had to bail me out twice during a rough spot I had during a kayaking expedition we were on. I kept running into rocks and turning over so she came up and rode my kayak down through the rapids while I walked down on the bank. I wish I had photos but I ruined my camera when it took one too many dunks. She’s bailed me out a bunch of times during our 30 years we’ve been together.

I am linking with Skywatch Friday

Skywatch Friday – Beach Sky

Orange Beach Skywatch 1-Edit

This is from one of our trips to Orange Beach, Alabama when we had a windy day. It makes for a nice photo. Right now though I am thinking about Hurricane Dorian and the people who suffered from the destructive force it unleashed on the Bahamas.

(Current as of 9/3, check https://www.nhc.noaa.gov for updates)

As I write this, the storm is expected to travel, excruciatingly slowly up the coast of the US and who knows what it will do. I sat through a category I hurricane back in the 1980s. It was Alicia and I lived one hundred miles from the coast so its force was much attenuated by the time it go to me but it was scary enough. Next time I vowed to go to Nebraska. (Since then though I have decided that Oklahoma is far enough.) I have no idea what it would feel like to be on an island just a few feet above the ocean and no safe shelter from the storms.

There is no way to point at any one particular storm and say that it is caused by global warming. I am convinced though that we are experiencing human caused climate change and increased hurricanes are just one of the many results of this. I found a web site, SkepticalScience.com that provides a lot of information presented in such a way that even I can understand it. It also has a guide on common myths and misconceptions presented by climate change skeptics. Check it out, bookmark it and keep it handy. The first step to solving a problem is admitting that you have a problem.

I am linking with Skywatch Friday

“Blinded by the Light” – starring the Music of Bruce Springsteen

The family went to see another movie on Sunday. “Blinded by the Light” by Gurinder Chada, starring Vivek Kalra, as Javed, a young Pakastani living in a small town in England in 1987 with his parents and sister. He lives a life dominated by his Father and family which doesn’t leave him much room to himself and he doesn’t quite know what to do about it until one day…

A friend of his loans him a couple of tapes (it’s 1987, and you could loan somebody tapes, and share the music, how the crap do you share music in this day of downloads???? Yeah, I don’t know either!)

Through Springsteen’s music, Javed feels understood finally, that somebody else has felt hopeless in a small town yet still found a way to find hope in this world. This is helped by a sympathetic teacher that recognizes Javed’s writing talent and of course the love a of a good woman, a new girlfriend.

Javed eventually finds his voice, gets the courage to stand up against his socially rigid, controlling father, and learns that he can find a future without building a wall against his Pakastani upbringing.

It was eyeopening for me, I was like a quarter generation off Bruce Springsteen’s core audience. I liked some of his music but found it a little pretentious for my tastes plus I wondered why he never really rocked out. But then again I never listened to the lyrics. I never listen to lyrics except for hit them over the head lyrics like Carly Simon’s “Come Upstairs” … “Come upstairs, we can take off the phone, Come Upstairs, you can take off my clothes”!!! (Yes, I get those lyrics). Oops sorry, (not sorry), I am really digressing bad.

The first song, Javed listens to “Dancing in the Dark”

I get up in the evenin’
And I ain’t got nothin’ to say
I come home in the mornin’
I go to bed feelin’ the same way
I ain’t nothin’ but tired
Man, I’m just tired and bored with myself
Hey there, baby, I could use just a little helpYou can’t start a fire
You can’t start a fire without a spark
This gun’s for hire
Even if we’re just dancin’ in the dark

And its like wow, and it is on and on. And it is fun watching Javed grows up right before our eyes and learns how to be his own person. In the meantime, movie magic happens and people break out singing and dancing.

This is a great, feel good, eye opening movie. I highly recommend it. How many stars you give to movie, give all of them to this one.

Labor Day 2019

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Labor Day is here, the historical end of Summer. We went down to Chickasha and picked the kid up from college. He was in good spirits and his room wasn’t as messy as what we were anticipating. But then again he had only been in it a week and a half. I’m sure given time he’ll get it as messy as anybody else.

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Labor Day of course is a holiday to celebrate labor. We celebrate it by taking the day off and not working. Labor has a big history in this country. Labor Unions used to be a big deal but not so much any longer. For some reason they have a negative connotation in many people’s minds. In my career I was never a union member but I worked with all sorts of union contractors and crafts unions. I never had one issue with them. Unions have changed though. Above is a photo of a union protest of a renovation project downtown some years ago. Are they union members? Heck no, they are homeless people that the union hired to protest on their behalf. Where were the actual union members? Working I guess, I don’t know. I thought the whole situation was hilarious.

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Speaking of protestors and hilarity, here are my wife and son protesting at City Hall here in Tulsa about a move that was going to shut down a community theater. My son is an excellent protester with his loud booming voice.

We are not protesting this year at Labor Day. We have been going to movies and enjoying our son’s company until we take him back to school early Monday afternoon. When we come back I’ll celebrate by mowing our yard. It has been a couple weeks and I might need to hire a haying crew to come out and cut and bale it.

Have a great holiday, if you are celebrating it. I found a few quotes about labor on Al Gore’s interwebs that he invented.

  • My grandfather once told me that there were two kinds of people: those who do the work and those who take the credit. He told me to try to be in the first group; there was much less competition.
    Indira Gandhi
  • No labor, however humble, is dishonoring.
    The Talmud
  • All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.
    Martin Luther King Jr.

I am linking with Our World Tuesday

“Where’d You Go Bernadette” with Cate Blanchette

Heather and I celebrated our new status of being emptynesters by going to a movie on a Thursday night. Who does that besides people with no kids at home?

Heather picked the movie and it was a good one, “Where Did You Go Bernadette” about a wife and mother and also former award winning architect, Bernadette Fox, who after a career reversal twenty years ago has turned into a moody hot mess of hell on wheels, kind of like a female Donald Trump without a twitter account, at war with everybody.

Her husband tries to arrange an intervention to address all these issues, and poof! she bolts. Where did she go, so her husband and daughter go look for her.

This is a great movie, Cate Blanchette does a great job, it has a great message. Also, just so you know, everybody keeps their clothes on, and keeps their language clean and no vegans were harmed during the filming of this movie. I give it four stars out of four, or five out of five, or however many stars you got it gets.

Small Town Skywatch – Sapulpa, Oklahoma

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Last weekend I was in the Tulsa suburb of Sapulpa. I had never spent much time in the downtown area before and I was surprised to see many attractive older buildings that were well maintained and seemed to have many businesses in them along with apartments on the upper floors. The main street is also part of Route 66 as it winds its way through town.

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Creek County Courthouse

And all under some intense deep blue skies and big fluffy white clouds.

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Renovated Apartment Building

So I enjoyed my walk up and down downtown Sapulpa. I am convinced that towns, big and small, need a vital and thriving downtown for the city as a whole to be successful.

I have some more photos I will share later.

I am linking with Skywatch Friday