How many cities can you name?

I saw this challenge to name as many US cities as you can posted on a blog I follow. There's no time limit - your only limit is your own persistence.

I scored 60,859,966 million people ("26.63% of the national urban population in 2010") with 201 cities before I gave up. Though if you actually want to try it with an uncontaminated slate, don't click that link or read the rest of my post until you've given up!

I was trying to think of places I've been, places with sports teams, places I've seen in TV and movies, or heard about on the news. With some cities, the challenge is spelling: It took me too long to recall that Lansing is spelled with an S.

That the game assumes a state when none is given helped. Trying to figure out a city in Vermont, I tried White Mountain, hoping there might be a city named after that mountain. There is not, but it gave me White Mountain, Alaska. (I never did recall a Vermont city, though I can't believe I failed to recall Burlington and Montpelier, despite my days rooting for Howard Dean's presidential campaign! And I failed to name either the capital or largest city of South Carolina, for the second of the two states where I failed to tally a single city.) I learned that Montclair, NJ is not a city, but got Montclair, CA out of it.

The largest city in the US that I failed to name was Nashville, Tennessee. I've never been a big country music fan. The next largest I missed was in the next state over, Louisville. Those two plus Albuquerque, NM (Go Isotopes!) round out the three cities with over 500,000 residents that I couldn't name.

The largest city I missed in California was Stockton - which is certainly a memorable sight when driving the 5 north. It somehow slipped my mind, even in the company of smaller nearby cities like Modesto and Lodi. The next largest that I overlooked was Irvine, which I've passed through uncountably many times.

The smallest city I entered was White Mountain, but again that was just by luck; the smallest I intentionally named was Industry, CA, a fiefdom with a notorious past

In Arkansas, the historically significant Little Rock eluded my memory, while the spawning grounds of mega-corp Benton did not.

More backyard wildlife

A couple weeks ago, I heard some squacking noise, and went into the back yard to hear what it was, and saw this hawk fly from a jacoranda in our backyard to into a Eucalyptus tree across the canyon.

Looked down around my feet and saw this allegator lizard trying to blend in.

Spent some more time hanging around the back yard waiting for the hawk to come back. I mostly ended up just taking pictures of hummingbirds...

... though I did get one more flyby, of a different hawk.

And then back to the humming biards, with a house finch and a Gulf Frittilary butterfly thrown in.

Skip ahead to today, when as I was heading out, I saw this hawk, probably another Cooper's hawk, perched on a branch about 10 feet from the house.

Later in the backyard, I again heard hawk-squacks. After looking around the trees, I spotted it on a fence about 100 feet away in the bottom of the canyon. And it looks like it was just finishing up a meal! Being in a canyon near dusk, the light is low, so the image is noisy.

A hooded oriole returns to the palm tree where it nests.


It is convenient that hummingbirds like to perch on exposed branches - it makes photographing them so much easier!

Hummingbird PreeningHummingbird craning its neck awayHummingbird looking stage-left showing off its irridescent featherslooking the other wayWith beak slightly openWith fireplant in backgroundfluttering its wingstwo hummingbirds fightGlowing in the sun


Took this while visiting my dad back in August. The background bougainvillia and foreground honeysuckle have been there since before we moved in about 30 years ago.

Diffuse light from a bougainvillea behind three backlight honeysuckle flowers

Backyard practice shots

A couple practice shots from the backyard taken with the new camera:

An ant drinks nectar from a tropical milkweed

I know that's not the best crop but the ant in the top-left corner looked so derpy I had to keep it in.

Two Jonny Jump-Ups