January 26, 2015
I received this question yesterday from Nick and Julie . “Yes, we are also owl-less again this year. What has happened with the barn owl population? We keep getting invited each fall to go up to Irvine to our grandkids’ school to make a presentation, but all we have to show are the pictures and videos of several years ago. We would very much like to have live video feeds of barn owls in our box. Very disappointing.” Nick and Julie live in Rancho Bernardo, California about 20 minutes northeast of San Diego and southeast of San Marcos.
Let me start off by saying I have not seen one barn owl this year and last year I saw maybe two or three. Definitely not like when Molly and McGee were in The Owl Box. Barn Owls were everywhere; some nights we would see or hear as many as 10 or 15 in the area.
The number of barn owls like so much of nature is controlled by their food supply. Reduce their food supply and their population reduces. California is in the third year of one of the state’s worst droughts in the past century, one that’s led to fierce wildfires and water shortages and less food for wildlife thus fewer barn owls. Even the number of eggs the female barn owl lays is controlled by the amount and duration of food the male brings to her. This is nature’s way of balancing the ecosystem.
If you remember, when Molly was in the box we had lots of rain and plenty of food. We also had those that said owls don’t like water and couldn’t fly in the rain. Those were two myths The Owl Box cameras busted. We not only captured barn owls flying in the rain but playing in the water. Remember when Molly left the box and came back soaking wet on a clear night? She had left and taken a bath after being in the box for a couple of months taking care of her babies.
Pray for rain or do your rain dance if you want the barn owls to return.
All the best,
Carlos and Donna Royal
P.S. The dust bowl drought lasted for 6 years in Oklahoma in the 30’s and up to 8 years in some of the High Plains. Light rain is predicted for later today.
One last note: I am 72 today. Everyone have a piece of cake and enjoy your day. Life is a beautiful thing.
January 25, 2015
I don’t know if you have been paying any attention to the Super Bowl but there is a big controversy over did the Patriots play with under inflated balls in the Colts game. I thought I would weigh in.
I see where Belichick finally filled a football with air inside the stadium office to 12.5 PSI, the minimum allowed, and then took the ball outside where air was colder. They waited a while and then checked the PSI of the football. It had dropped 1.5 PSI or to 11 PSI, to put it simply, it had deflated. That is the law of physics at work. The pressure in the football will decline in direct proportion to the decline in temperature.
Pump up a football to 12.5 PSI at 72 degrees inside the stadium and then cool the ball to 47 degrees on the field and the PSI will drop to 8.2 PSI. (P1/T1=P2/T2) The question should be, why did the Colt’s balls not deflate, not why did the Patriots play with under inflated balls because balls that do not deflate in cold weather are the ones that are defying the law of physics.
What is interesting is footballs have been inflating in hot weather and deflating in cold weather since the game was invented.
If a ball is filled to the minimum 12.5 PSI allowed, then temperature on the field must be equal to or warmer than the fill up temperature for the ball’s PSI to be legal, but the field temperature cannot be more than 8% warmer than the fill up temperature or the ball will become over inflated and not be legal.
If the ball is filled to the maximum 13.5 PSI allowed, then the temperature on the field must be equal to or cooler than the fill up temperature for the ball’s PSI to be legal, but the field temperature cannot be less than 7.4% cooler or the ball will become under inflated and not be legal.
Think about how many games are played where the temperature inside the stadium office and on the field is different by more than 7 or 8% . My guess is that most games have been played with illegal balls, either over inflated or under inflated, due to the temperature on the field being different from the temperature when pumped up.
Prediction: NFL will install temperature control boxes on the sidelines that will maintain the ball at 72 degrees. Oops, atmospheric pressure also affects the pressure of the ball. Oh well, you can’t control everything.
If you want to change the pressure in the football for the game you don’t have to do anything to the ball, all you have to do is change the temperature of the room where it is filled.
Question: Did you do anything to the ball?
Answer: Absolutely not!
Remark: I was cold, so I turned up the thermostat; I mean it was 47 degrees outside.
You can get extra points if you can tell me what the ball PSI would be on the playing field if the room temperature was raised from 72 to 76 assuming the fill pressure was set to the minimum of 12.5 PSI. Remember, the field temperature was 47 degrees.
Life is so much fun to observe. I laugh a lot.
Owl update: No Owls, but a pair of kestrels showed up yesterday. Also, Roark the red-shoulder hawk, has been seen eating grubs in the backyard when it rains.
All the best,
Carlos and Donna Royal
January 3, 2015
Norma Noral Royal
The owl box was started because I wanted to share Molly with my Mother and sister who lived in Bakersfield, California, 200 mile away. She was 95 at the time. Many of you got to know her on the Owl Box, so I thought I would let you know she passed away in her sleep this past week. The cycle of life continues, just as it did in the Owl Box.
Born April 15th 1915, she lived almost 100 years and before she passed she said to me. “I have had a wonderful life and I am ready to go.” I wonder how many of us will be able to say the same thing when our time comes?
Let me share a few things you may or may not know about her and her wonderful life. She had five kids and in her eyes they all turned out great. I told her once, Mom, I have done good. She looked me right in the eye and said, all my kids have done good. Letting me know each of her children had done well in their own way and one was no better than the other in her eyes.
She only had an eighth grade education but she was smarter than most people I knew. She could out spell anyone of us kids growing up and she was better at numbers too. If you don’t believe me just ask anyone that ever played a game of cards or dominos with her. She would win your spare change and smile all the way to the money jar where she kept her spare change and added to it regularly.
And if you are looking for an inspirational story, just listen to this one. With five kids in tow she started her working career in the fields and packing sheds in and around Arvin, Lamont and Bakersfield picking cotton, potatoes, hoeing weeds, packing plums and grapes doing whatever it took to help support the family, but she finished her working career as a Surgical Technician working alongside the finest doctors in the surgery rooms of San Joaquin and Kern Valley Hospital. She would say, “I can do any job, if someone will just show me how.”
While most students complete their education between the ages 18 to 30, she received her Surgical Technician Certification at age 52 and received her National Certification of Meritorious Achievement from the Association of Operating Room Technicians at age of 59. Colin Powell said it best, “A dream doesn’t become a reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” And anyone that knew my mother knew she never backed away from hard work and sweat. She was always there to help and get the job done.
Her life is as an example for others, but I don’t think she thought of it as teaching something; it was just how she lived her life. She had an open door to family and friends, always willing to help and share what little we had. “It was the Oklahoma way,” she would say. I can remember more than once seeing a family member, relative or friend showing up at our home needing milk or food for their baby or rent money and Mom going to her purse or refrigerator or both and giving them a helping hand. I remember once, when she opened her purse, she hesitated for a moment as she looked inside, but then she handed the lady standing there with her baby her last dollar bill. I remember asking her, even though I was very young at the time, why? Her only response to me was, “We will get by.” Like I said, her life was an example to live by. That’s just the way she was.
She not only believed in herself and what she could do but she also believed in us. I remember my mom and me meeting with the counselor to select classes for high school. I told the counselor I wanted to take college prep classes: Math, Science and Engineering. The counselor looked at my grades and my test scores and suggested to my mother that I take vocational training classes. I can still hear my mother saying to the lady, “My son can do anything he wants to do. Please put him in the classes he has requested.”
While I was in high school my mom became famous. That’s right famous. She was in all the newspapers across the country, the sports section of all places. “Mother stops high school wrestling match.” I was on my back about to be pinned when all of a sudden Drew Washington, the wrestler on top of me from South High, let go, and let me up. My mother, ever the protector, had come rushing out of the stands and tapped Drew on the shoulder. When I escorted her back to her seat in the stands to a roar from the fans, without embarrassment, she said, “I thought he was choking you.” Think about it, she went to the mat for me.
Rarely did I ever hear my Mom say anything bad about anyone; that just wasn’t her. She believed in live and let live. Also, I never ever talked to my Mom that she didn’t ask about my wife Donna and how she was doing. She was always a very caring person.
They talk about Super Mom’s today like it is something new, but I can tell you it is not. I can remember Mom holding down multiple jobs, getting up at 4 AM to fix breakfast for Daddy and packing his lunch, pack her lunch, our lunches, then see us kids off to school, go to work and still come home and fix dinner for the entire family and in her spare time do the laundry and the house cleaning. Oh, and did I forget to mention she also helped with school fund raisers, charity drives and with summer recreation, like handy crafts, swimming, hiking and day camping.
One of my fondest memories of childhood was going day camping and learning to cook Ring Tum Diddy in a coffee can over an open fire, hiking five miles and swimming in the Kern River. She didn’t do this just for us but for a whole bus load of kids and not just once but daily for several summers as a volunteer. I know, how did she have the time? I don’t know but she did. It is like she was the first Super Mom.
And for all you young girls and women you should definitely take a look at Grandma Royal’s life. Even though she got married at 16, had 5 kids and was devoted to her husband, she was definitely a feminist and made her own decisions. Back in those days the man was the head of the house or at least that is what we were told by Momma even though we all knew Mom handled the money and paid the bills. The rule was, the man of the house made all the big decisions, especially when it came to buying things like a car. I mean, what could a woman possibly know about buying a car?
My dad found out in 1955, when he came home from work and in the drive way sat a brand new red and white 1955 Plymouth with a push button automatic transmission. My mom had not only bought the new car but had haggled the trade-in of our old one which was having problems. I think my Dad would have really been upset, but my Mom, your Grandmother or your Great grandmother, depending on your age, was really smart. My dad’s favorite color was red and she bought a red and white car. Think about it, she bought it for him, how could he object. It is the one car I remember the most and my Mom bought it.
I think one of the reasons my Mom lived such a long life is she had a lot of good days even in hard times. She had this philosophy that most things in life, good or bad, just aren’t a big deal in this journey through life. We are born with nothing and we leave with nothing. “Just do the best you can son,” she would say to me, “and the rest will take care of itself.” What a great lesson to learn. “Just do the best you can and the rest will take care of itself.” Another favorite saying was, “A wise man never leaves home without his coat.”
My Mom loved family and friends and she loved having them over for visits. In fact, it is about the only time I can remember my Mom complaining about anything. Let’s say 100 people stopped by to see her, she would complain it wasn’t a 101. My Mother could perform miracles in the kitchen, kind of like the miracles in the Bible when it came to feeding people. She never complained like so many do, if a stranger or extra guest or two arrived just at dinner time. We kids were always bringing someone home for dinner. No, with a smile and a welcome she would jump up, head to the kitchen. She could expand any meal. She had been a cook, first at the elementary school, then at the new Arvin High School when it was built. One of her favorite five minute specials was fried potatoes, hot biscuits and gravy.
She left the following for all of us. It is by Mary Alice Ramish
LET ME GO
To those I love and those who love me
When I’m gone, release me, let me go.
I have so many things to see and do.
You must not tie yourself to me with tears;
Be thankful for our happy years.
I gave you my love. You can only guess
How much you gave me in happiness.
I thank you for the love you have shown,
But now it’s time I traveled on.
So grieve for a while, if grieve you must
Then let your grief be comforted by trust.
It’s only for a time we must part.
So bless our memories within your heart.
I won’t be far away, for life goes on
So if you need me, call- I will come.
Though you cannot touch me, I’ll be near.
And if you’ll listen with your heart,
You’ll hear my love all around you loud and clear.
And then, when you must come this way alone,
I’ll greet you with a smile and say,
Norma Noral Royal
So if you want to pay a tribute to Mom, just post a little note on the blog.
I was blessed to have been her youngest son.
May 20, 2014
The photo I took and posted on the blog may show the start of the San Marcos fire. I sent it to NBC7 and asked them to send it to the authorities because I thought it might help in the investigation of the location and cause of the San Marcos fire. The photo was taken with my iPhone so it is date and time stamped. NBC7 came out today and interviewed me today and said they had forwarded the photo to the authorities as I had requested. They agreed I might have just capture the start of the fire. If they show the interview on the news it will air sometime between 4 and 7 PM tonight on the local San Diego NBC channel 7.
Carlos Royal P.S. Here are a few more photos to enjoy. I think the Male Western Tanager with it’s red head is one of the most beautiful birds in California. You can click on any of the photos for an enlarged view.
May 15, 2014
Update: 1:15 PM While this looks ominous, it is about four or five miles to the south east of us. We are in no danger because there are lots of houses and streets including a Freeway between us and the fire but it does give you an idea of what it is like to be close to a wildfire.
It cooled down overnight and the wind stopped blowing. This morning most of the smoke had cleared and it was 25 degrees cooler than it was yesterday at this time. All is good for now, but they are forecasting record temperatures, 104, for later today. It hasn’t been that hot on this day in San Marcos since 1956 or 58 years.
The biggest difference between today and yesterday is yesterday as we sat on the patio watching the bluebirds, the hummingbirds, and the orioles; in the distance we would first see a puff, then a bellow of black smoke rise into the air. Out of nowhere air tankers would roar in dropping fire retardant. The black smoke would then turn white and begin to dissipate. Just when you thought they had that fire under control, another puff would appear with more black smoke bellowing into the air and all was repeated. By 3 PM we had fires burning to the southwest of us, the west of us and to the north of us. That’s when we decided it was time to gas up in case we needed to leave. As Donna and I drove South on Twin Oaks Valley Road to the gas station, a small puff of smoke appeared on the mountainside just above and to the southeast of Cal State University. What we were seeing was the start of the San Marcos fire.
Within less than 5 seconds the small puff of smoke had exploded into red flames shooting 40 feet into the air creating a giant black mushroom cloud. By the time we pulled into the gas station the hot Santa Ana winds were driving the fire west at an incredible speed. The small puff we had first seen was now a raging wildfire over a quarter mile wide. We now had fires burning north, south and west of us. That was yesterday.
Today we are enjoying the bluebirds, which are mating, the hummingbirds which are fighting for territory and the orioles which just seem to be coming in for the free food and water. The only smoke we can see is to the south, the San Marcos Fire, which in the last hour has picked up with the rise in temperature. I can hear the air tankers coming in and as I look to the east a large billow of smoke is rising into the sky.
For now all is good, but the San Marcos Fire continues to burn.
On a happier note, last week Donna and I took a trip to the mountains nearby. I took my camera. A cold front moved in and it snowed on us. Can you believe how fast that weather can change? Last week it was snowing, this week it’s blazing over 100 degrees. The cold front also brought in a flock of western tanagers. They were everywhere in the tall pine trees of Idyllwild. I only managed to get one decent picture because by the time I could point and focus my camera with a 500mm lens attached, they were gone to the next branch or tree. We also saw about a half dozen deer, tons of squirrels, but only a few mountain bluebirds.
Enjoy the photos and we will keep you posted.
Carlos and Donna Royal
May 14, 2014
Just a quick note to let you know we are fine. The fire is South of us about 4 miles. We can see it from our house as you can see from the video. We have been watching all the fires all day. This morning I put out the Hummingbird feeder and the Oriole feeder and while watching for the birds to arrive noticed the fires as they have developed with the last one being the San Marcos Fire. We are North of San Marcos Blvd and the evacuation are south of San Marcos Blvd.
Thanks for thinking of us, but unless things turn for the worse we are in no danger, but just in case we have our cars fueled up and ready to go.
Carlos and Donna Royal
May 12, 2014
Hi everyone just wanted to say thanks again for all of your continued support and thought I would give you a sneak peek of something I’m working on! I couldn’t have gotten here without you guys.
I started this project a couple of months ago during a Lighting and Rendering Class and have continued working on it into my Sound Design Class. The process included:
1. Coming up with a concept
2. Creating a storyboard
3. Filming the opening scene with an aerial video Quadrocopter
4. Tracking the footage and re-creating the environment in 3D space
5. Creating the biplane and banner attempting to match the environment’s lighting and physics along with matching the cameras depth of field and motion blur. This was the most time consuming part and took about 30 hours.
6. Using google maps I put together some images to animate the blast off scene
7. Created the earth, moon and stars and attempted to simulate lighting based on photos taken by astronauts for the final sequence flying to the moon.
8. Took all the finalized clips and put them together in order then refined color and added final effects
9. The final step was adding sound using a sound effects library and placing in the song “5 Years Time by Noah and the Whale,” to tie it all together!
Lipstick Surf Co is a company a couple of my lifelong friends and I launched about a month ago based out of Carlsbad California. We provide surfers with out of this world fruit loops scented surf wax, shirts, hats, jackets and will soon be making surf leashes, traction pads and surf boards! We currently sell our products in local surf shops and on our new website at www.LipstickSurf.com Our goal is to take it to the moon!
Thanks for all the great advice!! I’ve been reading all of the comments as they come in.
May 10, 2014
It was a big night as Austin received his BA Degree with honors from Platt College. He was one of only five students graduating with perfect 4.0 grade point averages. He is the first in our family to graduate from College. We are very proud of him.
Donna and I want to thank all the owl box fans that supported him by buying his Molly Videos and merchandise plus posting encouraging comments on the blog. I am not sure who is more proud, us or him, and by us I include all the Molly watchers. We all watched him grow up and mature from age 16 to 21. In a way, we feel his success is our success, just like rooting for a home team or a player, when they win, we feel good and last night we felt good!
But let’s not stop there. It is time to give him your best advice and wisdom going forward. Let him know what you wish someone had shared with you when you were young and just stepping out into the world of self-reliance. For example, share with him your favorite saying(s) or words of wisdom.
I will start it off with. Austin, I wish someone would have pointed out to me that it cost the same to dream big as it does to dream small but the results are usually vastly different. Big dreams stir passion and passion is what drives us to overcome obstacles to success. Success is not an event; it is the journey through life. Today we may be judged successful, only to fail or miss step tomorrow or vice versa. Success is neither permanent nor guaranteed, but then neither is failure. If there was just one thing I could tell you, it would be; Spend less than you earn.
May 9, 2014
Austin actually completed all his courses for his BA earlier but the school’s graduation ceremony is to night. I know a lot of you supported Austin so if you want to see him get his degree it will be broadcast tonight at 7:00 PM Pacific Coast Time on Ustream. http://www.ustream.tv/channel/platt-broadcast
Join us tonight in saying Congratulation Austin for a job well done. 4.0 grade point average
Carlos and Donna Royal
March 25, 2014
Well, not really a National day but the City of San Marcos declared March 25, Molly and McGee Day in 2010. I can think of no better example for people to follow than Molly and McGee when it comes to raising a family. This loving pair of barn owls demonstrated dedication, patience, hard work, caring and protection of their family. Once the brooding process started Molly would not leave the Owl Box/home until the youngest owlet had learned to swallow a whole mouse. Even though the law of nature says the biggest and the strongest gets the most, Molly made sure her littlest also got his share. McGee would hunt all night if necessary to provide his family food and both he and Molly were always on the watch for predators, ready to fight to the death to defend their family.
Update: We replaced the owl box this year, but so far no owls. I have seen some in the area but none have taken up residency. Austin completed his courses for his BA and is now doing advanced studies which he completes in July. Eric Blehm and his wife are building a new home in Cardiff by the Sea and working on his next book. Chris Adams and his wife have moved from Boston to Seattle, so they are now on the West coast. Donna and I are in good health and helping my sister plan a big 99th birthday party for my mother. If you remember, the owl box was the result of Donna and I wanting to share Molly with my mother and sister. It just happened that 21 million other people from 104 countries decided to watch too. Gee it was fun and we were all a part of it.
Carlos, Donna and Austin