Wednesday, August 29, 2012

This is what I am day dreaming about- bikepacking or bicycle camping.

Just like our friend over at
ScreenHunter_04 Aug. 29 12.46

I have been perusing various forums, the latest of which is dealing with bikepacking in the United Kingdom, where I have obtained a wealth of new ideas, particularly as it relates to shorter trips of a weekend or so duration.
Here is the link to the forum and a 59 page threaded discussion with photos
that I am currently reading.

Sick as a dog so, show me you Bivi / Bikepacking / Adventure racing gear.....

From that promising lead, I ventured over to Search videos for “bikepacking”
and this multi-shot screen capture shows just the first page of video results.
ScreenHunter_01 Aug. 29 12.43

ScreenHunter_02 Aug. 29 12.44

ScreenHunter_03 Aug. 29 12.44

Below is a nice video taken from a bikepacking trip in Scotland and is from
the above link of 59 pages I told you about.

Bikepacking Rothiemurchus from Fraser McAlister on Vimeo.

A few shots and some timelapse footage from my recent bikepacking trip around Rothiemurchus in the Cairngorm NP, Scotland.

The flashing during the timelapse sequence is due to fireworks [shot Nov. 5]. I had hoped to get a longer sequence, but the lens fogged up. :(

Music: Business Car Park 9 - The Black Dog

A very scenic forest to ride bikes and camp in!

Well I have to work from 3-11 pm today so I need to start getting ready for work.
See you later.

I almost forgot. Here is a blog that is devoted to bikepacking for you to check out.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

This man has to be one of the best landscape photographers ever! And make sure that you watch the video!

Excellent film. Makes me want to ride out to the wilderness!

Michael Routh Fine Art Photography

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to watch this video and
thoroughly go through the photographer’s website, and then give in to the urge
to go grab a camera, any camera, and head out for the wilderness!

I have quoted here before what Adams or Weston said about roadside photography but thank the Lord for photographers like Mr. Routh who travel
far from the beaten path to bring such magnificent images as those found on his site.

All in pursuit of the perfect light and image. Having hiked into some lonely areas, I know a little about this, but never have I ventured so far afield as this
gentleman does, driving a specially built and rugged 4 wheel drive vehicle to the very end of the trail, and then hiking in for miles- alone with all the dangers-
it takes a special breed, and I salute him.

Keep taking the pictures sir that the rest of us can only dream about!


Monday, August 27, 2012

Not in a writing mood lately. Plus my thoughts on the election.

More like a reading mode. Lately I have read the latest drycyclist Mojave Desert bicycle camping journal, trip reports and other information regarding touring on recumbent style trikes, and information about certain Nikon digital slr’s that I am
interested in as possible successors to my venerable Nikon D70 shown below
fully decked out in its’ evening attire!
08272012sample 010

Rather than beat myself up for not writing anything lately, I am just going to say that for a week or two, there may not be an update here. I feel like taking
a blogging break for a few days. Having said this in the past, don’t be surprised
if the drought here is broken sooner than that.

I have been thinking a lot lately also about politics and the upcoming election
in a few months. I have gone on record here several times pointing out that I am
a liberal in my politics which most of you have forgiven me for being.Winking smile Again for the umpteenth time, I am  going to mention that I have no intention of
voting for this president again, and I am also most likely not going to even vote this time around.

In my humble and admittedly unsophisticated view, the choice between Obama and Romney is a choice between two sides of the same crooked coin, bought and paid for by the moneyed folks.

If I choose to discuss politics in the future, it will probably be a radical view that might scare off all of you readers, so I probably won’t talk about it on this forum

I have been commenting lately on the Common Dreams site and also over at Smirking Chimp. I have enjoyed that and may continue. So far, I haven’t ticked
off too many of the trolls and my site here hasn’t be hacked in protest either.

These above thoughts I have mentioned to you readers, not in an attempt to influence you, but just to inform you. My hope is that all will vote or not vote, based on their conscience, and not because some outside political group
spammed all their television stations with attack ads. A forlorn hope I am sure,
but one I have nonetheless.

Let me tell you guys some personal information. You are aware that I have been hobbled by a sore left ankle. Evidently my last failed hiking attempt up
in the desert had a greater effect on me than I expected. I am speaking of the
mental effect mostly. I seem to be coming up with inventive excuses to myself for not driving up to Big Morongo or other places now- using the hot weather
or the ankle as the excuse, or wear and tear on the Morongomobile- you name
it and I have told myself the excuse of the moment.
archivecd9 054

Hopefully when I come back to the backporch in a few days, it will be with a trip
report. No promises but I will try.



Friday, August 24, 2012

What I am reading for entertainment and motivation now.

ScreenHunter_01 Aug. 24 12.33

Of course, I found this Mojave Desert bicycle camping tour journal over at:

Route 66 And Kelso Dunes Wilderness Mojave Desert Bikepacking and  Hiking, fall 2011.

One day I am going to quit talking about it and actually do it.

Now go read all about it @ drycyclist’s site.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A big thank you shout out to Los Angeles City Department of Recreation and Parks for the cleanup effort so far at the Korean Bell of Friendship! Plus a photographic interpretation of last night’s visit there.

And let me say without equivocation, that I am now convinced that they are doing absolutely all that they can do in this time of budget cutting and economic hard times. Some of you are probably wondering why I seem to be changing my tune, let me just say that two recent visits within a very few days of each other presented me with overwhelming evidence of the root causes for the mess and just how difficult it will be to solve the intractable problem with
the bell.

I made two visits just one week apart. The top photo shows the floor to the left of the bell after the cleanup. Note the small amount of pigeon droppings(or seagull.)
08142012kfb_cleanup 009

Next, a close up of the same area.
08142012kfb_cleanup 010

In hindsight, I now realize those are fresh droppings above. Below, is a photo
that I took last night, one week later, of the same area to the left of the bell.
In these shots, because the bright sun was setting, I took the photos from the other side of the bell. So the area to really look at is across the photo at the other side. I know this is complicated.
08212012kf_bell 017

Folks, that is from just one week. Only one week’s worth of pigeon droppings! I wish to apologize to the managers and cleaning staff at LACDRAP for my hard tone in earlier posts. Unless something drastically changes; i.e. a Great Horned Owl or Red- tailed Hawk or other bird of prey
takes up residence inside the rafters of this monument, the custodians have an overwhelming task to try to clean this monument, akin to the Augean Stables that Hercules ended up diverting a river to clean as his fifth labor.

By the way, I wish to thank the gentleman that I talked to last night at the monument who suggested the idea of somehow getting an owl or other bird of prey to start roosting there, as a way to scare off the pigeons. I had said that perhaps the fake owl might work and he said after about a week the pigeons would figure out it was a fake.

Per City Councilman Buscaino’s chief of staff, the monument is now on a bi-weekly power washing schedule. That is about all that can be expected in these hard times and will be welcomed by the visitors to this monument. The work needed up in the rafters will probably have to be thought long and hard about, however. Take a look at these two photos that were taken last night. The intricate painting and scrollwork done by the craftsmen who built this monument, would probably not take too well to power washing. I do not know the answer and hope that some study will be made before attempting that part of the cleanup effort. In addition, the staff should give thought to ways to remove the pigeons and study how to keep them out. I like the idea of having an owl or hawk to take up here. Perhaps consultation with biologists and wildlife experts might be useful right now.
08212012kf_bell 048

In the photo above, you can already see the evidence of damage to the paint possibly from previous cleaning attempts.
08212012kf_bell 047

All this being said, I drove down with the intent of trying to make some
delightful photographs. The goal was to stick around until sunset and try to record the twilight’s effect upon the look of the memorial. I took my Nikon D70 slr with the new 50mm f/1.8 lens. Wrong lens choice as I discovered that due to the location of the sunset, I needed my wide angle lens to get the whole building into the shot, which was my vision. Turned out it didn’t matter, we all started leaving way before sunset at 7:15 pm because they were going to shut the gate. I do wish that they would stay open until 8pm, until after the sunset.
Here are a few of the pictures that I took.
08212012kf_bell 004

08212012kf_bell 005

08212012kf_bell 006

08212012kf_bell 015

The sun is beginning to set in the next photo behind me, note that the light has started to change.
08212012kf_bell 026

I really was concerned that I would not get enough cloud detail in the above photo due to the contrast in lighting.
So using Nikon’s full matrix metering, I used the bell which is as close to neutral gray as anything in the above to
meter on. It worked!
08212012kf_bell 027

In the above shot, I used the flat edges of the rounded roof tiles to meter off of. It worked better, the clouds and sky are less
subdued than in the previous photo. I really like the lighting in the photo below. Very warm.
08212012kf_bell 030
Now for a couple of attempts at the bell enclosure itself.
08212012kf_bell 034

A moody shot above quite intentional I might add.
In the shot below, I wanted to see how much detail could be pulled out of the shadow, all of these photos are as taken
straight from the camera, no tweaking on the computer. In this case, I got lucky.
08212012kf_bell 035

Here are two different interpretations of the same scene, with the goal of making the light be totally different in each photo. One seems bluer or colder, and one shows a warm glowing look. Which do you prefer?
08212012kf_bell 037

And now the next interpretation.
08212012kf_bell 038

I will end this post with an attempt at a farewell photo, I just wish that I could have stayed another 20 minutes or so
for the sun’s grand finale of the day. Sorry for the green lens flare.
08212012kf_bell 051

That’s it folks. Hope to see you again and feel free to comment if you so desire.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Calling out hypocrites is a nasty job but someone has got to do it.

May I suggest that you go view this article over at the Atlantic and read the comment that I just left? You might want to bookmark it and check back from time to time, as I may need some help from the attacks that I fully expect to get from all the greenies out there on the world wide web.

I am taking the liberty of cutting-and-pasting my comment here and will publish
my post before hitting the send button at their site. I spent quite a bit of time writing it and do own it, that’s just the way it is.

Great article pointing this out.

Now may I suggest that you do the same for the Native American created Blythe Intaglios(Geoglyphs) located near the Colorado River in eastern California?

While not threatened by squatters, they are endangered by the rampant renewable energy development(solar) that this magazine favors, along with our current administration in Washington.

If they and other sacred Native American sites were not threatened, I sincerely doubt that some of the tribes would not have launched expensive court cases to try and stop some of these projects, such as the one near Blythe.

Of course, it doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things, as we need to have this "green" energy and unfortunately as some of the enviro groups say, the fate of the whole planet means that something has to be sacrificed, in this case, the desert wilderness;
which translated means that all this ecosystem will be bulldozed with all plants and animals removed, and the resulting landscape will be covered with Chinese made pv solar panels, built with electricity produced by burning coal, with said panels and smog being shipped over here to the formerly pristine southwest.

So by all means, please continue reminding us about how poor people with no place to live are threatening historical sites in the developing world, but also point out how similar sites are being threatened here in this country by rapacious corporations, fully funded by our government and without any "skin in the game," being egged on by the cheering section of so-called environmental groups and magazines such as this one.

ScreenHunter_01 Aug. 19 17.52

Here is a link to one of three posts I made in 2011 referring to the Atlantic.
Morongobill’s Backporch, by an overwhelming vote, names Alexis Madrigal and The Atlantic co-winners of the prestigious CARBONMENTALIST OF THE YEAR AWARD!

So after reading that post and the article linked inside, you may have an understanding why I reacted the way I did when I came across this article about
the Peruvian geoglyphs known as the Nazca Lines today.

The cynicism and hypocrisy is breathtaking! Telling the “backward” government of Peru how to handle its’ own internal matter, while in this country
sacred Native American sites of real cultural and historical significance are being bulldozed with reckless abandon, all after being approved by a marsupial like permitting process with governments bending over backwards
to do so, and policies being implemented by these rapacious corporations who
have absolutely none of their own money at risk, and the whole thing meeting the approval of carbonmentalist rags like the Atlantic, who chant the same old tired chant” something has to be sacrificed to save the planet from
global warming and climate change- never mind the millions of empty rooftops waiting to be fitted with solar panels, that would accomplish the same goal and without destroying the wild lands in the process!

So by all means, please go read the article and tell the folks there how you feel, I know some of you care about the deserts, now it is time for you to show it. Make a comment there, put yourself out there.

You will feel better about yourself for doing so. Stand up for what you believe in. Don’t go quietly, make them work to justify their position.

Belay that last suggestion. Do what you want, when you want.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

An interesting video regarding desert solar development, Ivanpah in particular.

My thanks to KCET and Chris Clarke for this video which I just discovered
today during my aimless wandering through the world wide web.

The Great Green Rush: Desert Solar Energy Leaving Tortoise in the Dust?

Well worth a watch and it was a reminder of what was at stake at Ivanpah
and still is at stake with other sites scattered across the Mojave Desert.


Friday, August 17, 2012

I gotta start making a plan.

A few nights ago, I lucked out and got off around 6pm. From my vantage point driving a shuttle bus, I knew that the clouds were rolling in and it might be a great time to rush home, pick up a camera, and try to photograph the Korean Bell of Friendship in a sunset situation. I left work and somehow forgot all about the idea.

About 7’ish, I looked up from my laptop sitting in the donut shop that I sometimes hang out at, and noticed one of the longest lasting, intense colored
sunsets through very interesting clouds that I have seen in years.

“Damn, I forgot all about it!”

So tonight after mulling the idea for a while, I decided about 6:45 pm to drive down to San Pedro. The following photo I took from my car while sitting at a red light in Long Beach turned out to be the only usable shot and when I arrived at the park, it was after sunset and the gates were locked.
08172012san_pedro 001

Although just a record shot, I am pleased with how the matrix metering in camera handled the contrasts. I think the D70 with the 50mm F1.8 G would have been a good choice tonight.

Well, I won’t get another chance until next Tuesday unless they change my day off. Next time, I will get there plenty early, and most likely will take both cameras- the P510 and the D70.

I guess that I better not bring my tripod, as the chatter online is that they may
be worried that the person using it might be a professional photographer.
Considering my recent little kerfuffle with L.A. Parks and Recreation, being caught with a tripod there might result in my ejection from the site. That is something that I am not willing to risk, I went there in the first place to try to make good photographs, and the ensuing controversy regarding the cleaning the monument needed, sidetracked me for weeks.

I will try to be less critical in the future now that some progress has been made and they have committed to a future biweekly cleaning cycle. Don't tell anyone smile

Oh, I almost forgot. Never underestimate the ability of the Frys Electronics
salesmen order takers to snatch defeat right out of the jaws of victory, and
sending a buyer fleeing the store and vowing for the umpteenth time, never to buy anything there again.

I went with a friend to the Anaheim Frys location, with the intent of looking at the D7000, the D300S, and the D700- all made by Nikon- and with a Frys credit card burning a hole in my wallet! I left not spending a penny, and for the same reason as before, ignored until the last minute and also being told that the D300S was boxed and on the shelf in the backroom. I took the hint and said, okay I will go look at it at Samy’s Camera, and walked out.

In hindsight, I am glad that the folks there are such pathetic salesmen, it gives me a chance to play the “wait and see” game, especially now that I have heard that Nikon may be bringing out a cheaper full frame digital slr, the D600.

So their incompetence saved me money.

Now if I have an emergency and my laptop dies, I will probably go there for their cheapest or I could get Dell to sell me another, or for a super good deal on a small item, I sincerely doubt that they will ever get any real big business from me again.

Anyway that’s what happened in my world today, a lazy hot day, but at least I didn’t blow a grand at Frys!

Bill McDonald aka Morongobill


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The latest news about Los Angeles City Department of Recreation and Parks cleanup of the Korean Bell of Friendship, said cleaning occurring yesterday.

A late addition on 8/22/2012. See my latest post on this which occurred one
week after I wrote this very post:
A big thank you shout out to Los Angeles City Department of Recreation and Parks for the cleanup effort so far at the Korean Bell of Friendship! Plus a photographic interpretation of last night’s visit there.

I recommend that you read that post after finishing this one as you will see what I did on my return visit. Hint- it’s a very “messy” situation.

First, a couple of emails to set up the story. These emails are in response to
my email sent to members of the L.A. government. First is the response from the Mayor’s office:

Mayor Villaraigosa

Aug 10 (4 days ago)

to me

Thank you for taking the time to contact Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa.
Your thoughts and concerns are greatly appreciated and although you
may not receive a return message, your comments will be shared with
the Mayor and appropriate staff member(s) or city department, and
considered in all related matters.
•       If further action is required, we suggest contacting 311 “One Call
to City Hall” or the appropriate city department directly to resolve
your issue.
•       If this is a Scheduling Request please contact (213) 922-9747 for
instructions on how to request the Mayor’s participation at your
•       If you would like to request a Certificate of Recognition from the
Mayor’s Office please email your request to (please note that you will need to
request your certificate at least 20 business days in advance of your
event, at this time certificates cannot be back dated for your event.)
Please contact Constituent Services at 213-978-0721 if you have any
further questions or comments.  Thank you again for your thoughts and
Very truly yours,
Constituent Services Department,
Office of the Mayor”

As expected a typical canned, one size fits all response. Next is the response
from the gentleman who evidently is responsible for the Korean Bell of Friend-
ship at L.A. Parks and Recreation Department:

Mark Mariscal

Aug 10 (4 days ago)

to me, jacob.haik, Mike, David, Juan

Images are not displayed. Display images below - Always display images from

Mr. McDonald

Thanks for your email. There has been some discussion as to different approaches to the cleaning. I will speak with our Environmental Section about the process.

Now his email told me that they are in the talking stage of how to cleanup the memorial.

Then I received this email today from the Chief of Staff to the City Councilman whose district the bell lies within:

Doane Liu

10:54 AM (7 hours ago)

to me, jacob

Hi Bill - 

Thanks for letting us know about the conditions at the Korean Bell.  We wanted to let you know that we notified the Department of Recreation and Parks (RAP) and forwarded your photographs and video. 

RAP contacted us yesterday to let us know that they power-washed the pavillion yesterday and will return every 2 weeks from now on.  By the way, the bird droppings you documented happened recently.  The councilman was at the site on the 4th of July and said the facility was in very good condition. 

Thanks again for contacting our office. 


Doane Liu | Chief of Staff | Councilman Joe Buscaino

15th Council District | City of Los Angeles | 213.473.7015 | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

Now this email really was great news to me, especially the part that said that the memorial would be on an every two weeks cleaning cycle from now on. Bravo!

But as President Ronald Wilson Reagan once said to Secretary Mikhail
Gorbachev in the 1980’s-“trust but verify”- I decided to go back to the
memorial to see for myself how well the cleanup went. But before I show you the results of my visit in picture form, I wish to thank Mr’s Mariscal and Liu for taking the time to get back to me and for starting the whole ball rolling. I do not hold them responsible for the quality or
lack thereof, in the cleaning effort, as these photographs taken today, on the eve of the Korean Liberation Day ceremony to be held at the bell, indicate.

To my admittedly untrained eye, the floor was power washed and not very thoroughly at that, and the eaves and rafters above the bell as well
as the striking log were ignored. A typical bureaucratic response to a problem in other words. To the cleanup crew: I am sure that you were told that the bell would be rung soon at a ceremony, don’t you think that cleaning the striking log might have been a good idea? Heck, even if you just took Windex and a sponge to it, that
would have made a difference, a big difference.
08142012kfb_cleanup 011

Same old pigeon crap on the striking log as last visit.
08142012kfb_cleanup 012
08142012kfb_cleanup 009

08142012kfb_cleanup 013
08142012kfb_cleanup 037
08142012kfb_cleanup 038
But the real scandal besides the condition of the striking log are the eaves overhead. This part of the monument was absolutely left untouched as the following photographs will attest. This sickens and disgusts me. I sure hope that the dignitaries in attendance at the ceremony tomorrow, held at the bell, do not lookup.
08142012kfb_cleanup 042
No way did this much crap build up overnight! This area was not cleaned up, I guarantee it!
08142012kfb_cleanup 040
Did the bird nest in the pic below get built overnight?
08142012kfb_cleanup 034
08142012kfb_cleanup 030
08142012kfb_cleanup 026
I have many more of images like these, taken today, the day after the  cleanup by the L.A. Parks and
Recreation crew but these make the point.
08142012kfb_cleanup 022

Lying is something that I don’t like, and I don’t believe that Mr. Mariscal or Mr. Liu lied to me; but someone may have lied to them. In no way, was this memorial given a proper cleanup. No way. The photographs taken the day  after the alleged cleanup prove it.

I really don’t like telling people their business either, but I will make an exception here. Somebody’s head needs to roll over this. An important
political block is about to be insulted tomorrow at this ceremony, by this half assed joke of a cleanup, and in an election year, that cannot be ignored or go unpunished. Besides that reason, it is the right thing to do. Do not reward bad behavior, that has always been my belief, and I see no reason why that shouldn’t apply to this situation as well. As I have written here several times recently, this memorial, a gift from one people to another, has been the recipient of dishonorable neglect and this affront is an example of that.

It needs to stop now. The cleanup is incomplete and if the department heads have to come out from behind their desks and be on hand to supervise the operation, fine. It might do the cleanup crew some good to see that the big boss is standing there watching, and motivate them to refocus their efforts and do a better job.

Folks, I have done all that I can do with this. Except for one more thing. Perhaps I can bring this to the attention of the Korean- American media.There may be a language issue but  I might find a way around that. I can try to help ensure that somebody shines a light upon this situation, someone with a larger readership than I have, and perhaps their viewers can call and get this job done right, once and for all.

A late addition at 1921 pm. This is the email that I just sent to Mr. Liu, the Chief of Staff, for the city councilman, Joseph Buscaino, who represents this area of San Pedro that is home of the Korean Bell of

William Mcdonald

7:20 PM (0 minutes ago)

to Doane, bcc: me

Thank you sir for the reply. I went to the Korean Bell of Friendship
at once and am saddened and angered to say that
the cleanup crew did not do a good job at all.
You would think that they would at least have cleaned the striking log
used to ring the bell , but they obviously didn't.
I sure hope that you receive this email before the ceremony and that
someone gets right over first thing in the morning to clean the log,
or else have rubber gloves available for the dignitaries, it is that
I have taken the time to write up a followup post with photos
regarding this cleanup effort which can be read here:
As I say in the post, I do not think that either you or Mr. Mariscal
lied to me about this cleanup, but someone has sure done so to both of
you. The photos prove it. It is extremely apparent that the only thing
power washed was the concrete floor and possibly a couple of columns.
The ignored cleaning of the striking log actually reaches a level of
willful insubordination almost, and for sure fails the common sense
This effort is unacceptable and will definitely be a source of
embarrassment to the people involved in the ceremony tomorrow, and by
proxy to the city government.
As to my further participation with this, there is not much more that
I can do, except for what I promise in my post.
Thank you for attempting to settle this matter.
Bill McDonald aka Morongobill

I know, tilting at windmills again, but at least I have tried to help.

Bill McDonald aka Morongobill