Category Archives: Asides

Passenger Rail Study in Arizona

Eying the projected doubling of the population here in the Grand Canyon State by 2050 our forward-thinking Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) is studying the feasibility of passenger rail service connecting our two main population centers, Tucson and Phoenix.

Giddy with excitement we participated in the first survey back in late 2012. We imagined whizzing through the desert in comfort without the hassle and danger of driving: haboobs, semis, congestion. After arriving in the Phoenix area one could speak their mind at the Governor’s office, explore a museum, attend a professional game, or catch a concert and then return home safely.

So we sent off our surveys and… (crickets chirping)… heard nothing. Figuring the idea had suffered a slow and torturous death we went on with our lives.

Good news! The next part of the survey is now here. ADOT has winnowed through the 6,500 plus comments and narrowed the route options down to three. After reading the background information I am even more impressed by the concept and hopeful that it will get built.

Sure, there are major obstacles such as funding but to ignore the existing traffic problems won’t make them go away, it will only make them worse. Trust me, we’ve tried doing nothing, and that hasn’t worked out so well.

If you live in Arizona please make your voice heard, take a few minutes, and fill out this survey.

Poor, Poor Pitiful Me

A cold, wet storm moved into the Tucson area yesterday and it’s been raining ever since. Good for our thirsty plants. Bad for the 9,000-odd folks riding in El Tour de Tucson bike event.

Apparently it is also bad for the juvenile Harris’ Hawk  that lives in our neighborhood. This is what I woke up to this morning:

Look at me, I'm pathetic. Don't you feel sorry for me?Seriously, that’s one pathetic-looking bird.

Mom. Mom. Mom?

Crying for help…Now I'm mad!

Now I’ve got that Linda Ronstadt song in my head, “Poor, poor pitiful me…

Flat-seamed Baseballs

DI committee changes to flat-seamed baseballs for 2015 championship.

NCAA baseball wants to increase scoring a bit, but not as much as before the 2011 bat change that drastically reduced home runs. I’m for it since it could mean more runs for our home-town University of Arizona Wildcats. Though they made a habit of creating offense with doubles and triples and smart base-running for the last several years, including one very special National Championship. All without relying on the long ball.

Earlier Mona Lisa

Somehow I missed this “discovery” where an earlier Mona Lisa was locked in a vault until recently: Two Mona Lisas.


The Mona Lisa Foundation’s mission is to make Leonardo’s “Earlier Mona Lisa” known and loved in its own right, as much as the version that hangs in the Louvre Museum. The Foundation tells the remarkable story of this 500-year-old masterpiece, mobilizes art historians, scientists, forensic artists, and other experts to prove the “Earlier Mona Lisa’s” authenticity, and Leonardo’s exceptional skills.

I remain skeptical that it is truly by Leonardo, but the research and evidence presented is genuinely interesting.

Hat tip: Matías Ventura.

Peccary Paint Job

Woke up one wet September morning to find our front yard had been mucked up by marauding Javelinas (aka Collared Peccaries). Rocks flipped, cactuses chomped, holes dug, and plants eaten – what a muddy mess!

As we made repairs and salvaged plants we noticed that our visitors had found another way to leave their mark. With their muddy snouts they painted dots and swooshes on our metal coyote. Pretty creative, eh?

I dunno about you but I kinda like it! And lucky us, we’ll get to enjoy it until the next big rain…

(Photo was taken two weeks after actual event, hence the dry ground.)