Author: Chuq Von Rospach

2017 Best of the Year: Sandhill Cranes Dancing

Some days you get really lucky. On my most recent trip out to the refuges, I stopped by Merced and ran into a small group of Sandhill Cranes in one of the ponds fairly close to the road. They took no notice of me, so I stopped to watch. And then they danced. There’s something incredible about seeing the Cranes dance. It’s an act of joy, part of the process of attracting a mate and building the bonds between a crane pair, and in watching them you can see the happiness in the way the birds move and carry...

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Eisenhower in War and Peace by Jean Edward Smith

Eisenhower in War and Peace Buy on Amazon Eisenhower in War and Peace by Jean Edward Smith For much of 2017 I found myself reading non-fiction more than fiction. This has included continue to read books about the two World Wars, but I’ve also started exploring new areas of the past that I haven’t really studied in any detail before. My most recent read was about Dwight D. Eisenhower, our President at the time of Korea, the build-up of the Cold War and nuclear proliferation, and also the architect of the Normandy invasion on D0-Day that was the turning point of World War II’s fight against Germany. Eisenhower was a president who played an influential part during a time of great crisis and risk, and some of the decisions he made echo forward into our country and some of its current challenges. Despite that, I tend to think of him as kind of forgotten; I know I mostly thought of him in terms of “I like Ike” and the president who guided us out of World War II and through the early days of the Cold War. That’s all true, but Eisenhower was a lot more than that, and it wasn’t until I read this book that I realized just how formative his work and opinions are for modern America. He is also a very complex man who had...

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2017 Best of the Year: San Luis National Wildlife Refuge

I’ve been trying to travel out to the refuges as often as I can recently. Laurie and I did that a couple of weeks ago and I realized that an area of San Luis NWR that I’ve been wanting to photograph in fall colors was at peak, and so I made plans to get back the next week in hopes of catching the color before it failed. Unfortunately, we had some strong winds before I got back, and that impacted a lot of the color. Much of the color was gone, but fortunately, the location I most wanted to...

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Vallista (A Vlad Taltos Novel) by Steven Brust

Vallista Buy on Amazon Vallista is the 15th novel in the Vlad Taltos series by Steven Brust. Taltos is an Easterner warlock who is a retired assassin — retired because he ran afoul of the leaders of his guild, who now want him dead, so Taltos is on the run because he’d much prefer not to be. It’s rare for me to follow a series too long; I prefer to explore different worlds and stories rather than revisiting previous ones. I do have exceptions to that, though, and the Taltos series is one of them, having been reading it since the first book was released. That said, the previous couple of books (Tiassa and Hawk) both left me feeling like the series was running in place and was maybe falling into contractual obligation mode. Both books had Vlad running around trying to stay alive while solving his problem with the group that wanted him dead and not really accomplishing much. The ending of Hawk did, in fact, solve that dilemma, but replaced it with a new group that wanted him dead instead, and that felt really forced and didn’t work for me as a volume climax. Hawk left me wondering if it was time to drop the series, to be honest. I’m happy to say that Vallista ended that thought. It’s a big change from the previous couple of...

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New Work: Colusa and Sacramento NWR; learning lessons

With the new job starting — today, as you read this — I’ve been trying to compress some things I’d planned on doing into the time left before it starts, so it’s been busy as I’ve tried to clear the decks for going back to work. That said, I decided to take a day last week and make a day trip up to a couple of the more northern refuges, Colusa and Sacramento NWR. These refuges are about a 2 1/2 hour drive from the house, compared to 2 hours for Merced and 90 minutes for San Luis NWR,...

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