Rolling Along

Connie and Neil are really glad they’re fully immunized against the Covid now…it means that they can start getting back out with some precautions. They still mask up when inside until they get to their table and are trying to mostly go to places with outside seating…although with the hotter weather we’re getting into that’s getting less attractive. This week they went to a local pub named 1025 for reasons that escape me…Connie chose it since they had 30something beers on tap and on checking their list she noticed a dozen we had tried before and liked so off we went. Neil had a Kentucky Vanilla Cream Ale followed by a Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale…she had a local Irish Red which was so so and then a Key West Ale which was delish as were the two Neil had. Dinner was a plate of homemade tater chips with some jalapeño queso dip…they originally figured they would need to eat more and noticed a lot of delectable things on the menu but were full after the dip so that was that for dinner.

Still waiting on Neil’s new camera to ship…latest estimate is April 22 but he’ll believe that when he gets the shipping notice.

Our weather cooled back off so we have been able to be mostly open for the breeze…had to close up a couple times and engage the A/C in the mid afternoon but by bedtime it had cooled off and we went back to our preferred mode of windows open. We’ve also been eating out on the lanai a lot as well as cooking out there…we’re more likely to have to close up for a bit if Neil cooks inside.

Neil invented another new cocktail this week…it is based on one up in Alaska that is called a Duck Fart and it is one of the traditional drinks up there like a Mai Tai is for tropical islands or a Cuba Libre down in the Caribbean. It is made with Crown Royal Whiskey, Kahlua, and Bailey’s Irish cream and is traditionally served in a shot glass…they tried one when they were up in Alaska and they’re actually quite tasty. Anyways…the Elks Lodge sells them but they’re pretty expensive…so Neil told Connie he would make her one when they got home. We don’t have Crown Royal…but it’s just whiskey so he replaced that with Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon and replaced the Bailey’s with No-name Irish Cream. He didn’t put any Kahlua in it since we didn’t look up the recipe but it was so good we’ll try that next time. Traditionally…this is served as a layered shot with the Kahlua on the bottom, the Baileys in the middle and the whiskey on top…but that means you have to drink it all at once so the flavors mix…and while that’s fine for youngsters and Alaskans…we’re older and wiser than that. So…we stirred ours up to mix the flavors and then sipped instead of slammed it down…lasts longer that way. After some discussion…we named the drink a Cormorant Fart© since Duck Fart is probably copyrighted someplace.

Not much else going on these days…but we did have a few more images we got this week.

Mockingbird mating dance. Yeah…I know it’s only a mockingbird which is common but he’s doing his dance to attract the ladies…we didn’t see one nearby so either he was practicing, the female doesn’t have to be close, or he was practicing for his Modern Dance 101 final exam.

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Our chill Great Blue Heron dropped by as well.

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I wasn’t going to post this last one as it’s a lousy photo since it was taken through the lanai screen…but he flew off before I could get a better one. One of the things that wildlife photographers do is take a series of insurance shots as they work a subject. What you want to end up with is a frame filling shot of a beautifully posed creature doing something interesting…but sometimes they don’t cooperate and fly off or wander away into the woods or whatever. So…when you first see it you take an insurance shot so you have something then you start working closer…generally by angling back and forth while not looking at it works the best…and stopping for better insurance shots as you close. When you’re close enough…you stop and wait for the pose and/or doing something interesting to happen but take some even better insurance shots first.

Anyways…he spotted this Tricolor Heron perched on the very top of one of the pine trees across the pond…it has to be 40 or 50 feet tall…and he got a shot through the lanai screen which resulted in the lack of detail. He then opened the door to get an outside shot without the moire effect cause by the screen but off it flew. I decided to post it since while we have seen herons in trees we’ve never seen one that high in a tree…generally if they’re 10 feet up that’s pretty high for a heron.

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Interesting things found on the net.

PerspectiveOnVoterID

IfYouSeeBeer

GrumpyOldMan2

GrumpyOldMan1

ChooseWisely

DidYouEver

DistractAnEgyptianGod

BuryTheBody

Cyas.

Posted in Critters, Homebody, WIldlife | Leave a comment

Fun Stuff©…Sort Of

Yeah…I know it’s only been 2 days since the last post but work with me here…we got some Fun Stuff©…well, maybe only lower case fun stuff© since it wasn’t as great as we thought it would be.

Anyhoos…yesterday Connie got her hair done and then after bike ride we headed off to the Elks for Taco Thursday as we hadn’t been in awhile. David and his bride…the normal Taco folk…are up at the Elks State Golf Tournament so Bob and his bride filled in but afore they left town David got ‘em all setup so all they had to do was warm and serve.

After dinner…

BOOOOONK!!! BOOOOONK!!! BOOOOONK!!!

(Editor’s note: Please replace the above line with 3 iterations of the overly loud and obnoxiously discordant warning sound we’re all familiar with from your weather radio or whatevers.)

WE INTERRUPT OUR REGULAR PROGRAMMING FOR THIS SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT

THE LONG POND ROAD AREA IN NORTH FORT MYERS FLORIDA HAS BEEN UNDER A SANDHILL CRANE WATCH FOR THE PAST SEVERAL WEEKS DUE TO THE INTERMITTENT DETECTION VIA AUDIO SESORS OF SANDHILL CRANE VOCALIZATIONS.

AT APPROXIMATELY 0730 EASTERN DAYLIGHT TIME ON THURSDAY APRIL 8 THIS HAS BEEN UPGRADED TO A SANDHILL CRANE WARNING. MR AND MRS CRANE WERE DETECTED ON THE GROUND NEAR LATITUDE 26 DEGREES 45.945 MINUTES NORTH AND 81 DEGREES 45.787 MINUTES WEST OR APPROXIMATELY 45 YARDS EAST OF LONG POND ROAD PROCEEDING NORTH AT APPROXIMATELY 50 FEET PER MINUTE.

WE HAVE NO REPORTS OF DAMAGES DUE TO CRANE POOP OR INJURIES.

OUR INTREPID REPORTER WAS DISPATCHED TO THE SCENE AND WE WILL HOPEFULLY HAVE…

 

FILM AT 11 (OR IMAGES BELOW)

WE NOW RETURN YOU TO YOUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED PROGRAMMING ALREADY IN PROGRESS.

BOOOOONK!!! BOOOOONK!!! BOOOOONK!!!

(Ditto last editor’s note)

As I was asayin’…after Tacos it was Show Me The Money or Bingo for Dummies as Neil has renamed it…although perhaps Bingo for People with a Short Attention Span might be more precise. Connie picked out her three sets of 3 cards and after getting zero hits on the first game Neil suggested she trade them out but she didna’ do it…then she got 1 and 2 in the next two games and still didn’t swap ‘em out. See…the caller uses this deck of cards that are about the size of a FedEx envelope and although they try…yer hands just ain’t big enough to properly two handed shuffle the cards after each round…so effectively the same cards keep showing up the whole 10 games. The caller does her best to shuffle and then the previous winner gets to cut the cards…but that mostly involves moving stacks of 10 or so around a coupla times…anyways the net effect is that you don’t get a random shuffle so the same cards keep coming up in similar sub-orders of how they came up the first game. Hence…if your cards ain’t coming up early ya shoulda got yourself over there ‘tween games and get some better ones.

Connie…needless to say…didn’t win but we were still home before dark.

We been meaning to head about 2 miles south on Tamiami Highway or US-41 to visit the Prairie Pines Wildlife Preserve for awhile and since we were home early last night we set the alarm for 0530 and after coffee and packing up Neil headed out to check it out alone as Connie wasn’t feeling well. He took both his DSLR with the new bird lens as well as her Z50 mirrorless but but his new Z lens on it so he could have some test shots.

Prairie Pines is a nice half mile or so walk through a wetland area…well, it’s a wetland sometimes but not in April…it was pretty dry but clearly had been wet in the recent past…didn’t surprise him that it was dry as our pond out back is probably almost 3 feet lower than it was in January since we’re into the dry season. Part of the circle around the wetland is just crushed shell path but 1/3 of it or so is elevated walkway about a foot off the ground so even when it is a wetland it ain’t very deep. Since there was no water there wasn’t much to see but he did spot a couple of bunnies as well as a new bird species for us…an Orchard Warbler.

Here’s the shots our intrepid reporter turned in of Mr. and Mrs. Sandhill Crane the other day.

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Z50 1027 Edit

Dunno which is Mr and which is Mrs…the sexes look the same and are the same size…and these were taken through the lanai screen since opening the door woulda scared them off.

He wasn’t able to get a shot of the Orchard Oriole so here’s one he found via wikipedia.

UntitledImage

Basically it looks a lot like a robin but with darker uppers and a more red breast but about the same size as a Baltimore Oriole or a little smaller and less rounded than a robin is.

Other than the Oriole…the only other things he saw were a couple of bunnies.

The first one was taken with his DSLR and bird lens.

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The same bunny with Connie’s Z50 and his new Z lens…it’s actually a little sharper but that’s mostly because he was able to use a faster lens which means lower ISO which means less noise.

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On around the walk a bit…here’s a shot of the mist over the used to be and will be again eventually wetlands with the sunrise…as you can see it was pretty early and this was 10 or 12 minutes after the bunny shots above.

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He’s about halfway around the wetland area at this point and looking generally south.

Once past the wetland the trail took a left to head back to the parking area and he spotted another bunny…just a photo with Connie’s Z50 this time as it hopped off before he could get the other camera up. Pretty darned sharp although this one also got touched up for noise reduction and sharpness with some new software he picked up.

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Shortly after that one he was back at the parking lot so he texted Connie to make him another cup of coffee which was just about ready when he got there…then he used some leftover sautéed onions and shrooms to make an omelet for breakfast with some leftover gourmet mashed taters on the side…really good. Tonight he’s making jalapeño polenta topped with a crab cake (or maybe scallops, he’s gotta see what she prefers) then topped with bacon, some crispy shallots, and some leftover dill cream sauce he’s got in the fridge.

And finally…this is just a test…he’s trying to figure out the best she too export portrait orientation shots for the blog without having them way too large…this was taken back in May of 19 out in the west…in Colorado somewhere.

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Well…I had to resize that one smaller a bit…he constrained the export to 1000 pixels high but that means that you can’t see the whole image at one time if you’re using a laptop…I’ll have him modify the export to 750 pixels tall and see if that improves things for next time.

Interesting things found on the net

The Ocean Sunfish is the largest hard boned fish in the ocean…some sharks are bigger but they’re soft cartilage boned fish. I don’t know what difference that makes but apparently it does. Anyway…Ocean Sunfish grow up to 2,200 pounds. Pictured below are a full grown specimen and also a couple of newly hatched ones. Guess they got a whole lotsa growin’ to do. Newly hatched ones weigh about half a gram so by the time it’s an adult it increases its weight by just about 2 million times.

OceanSunfish

8GlassesPerDay

LawnMowed

Muppet

SoundEffects

KnowYourWife

Wanted2BeAMonk

Cyas.

Posted in Blast From The Past, Critters, Hiking, Photography, WIldlife | Leave a comment

Election Laws…And Other Stupidity

Well…ya’ll have prob’ly heard ‘bout those “outrageous voter suppression laws in Georgia and Iowa that are doing nothing but trampling on the rights of citizens to vote”…at least if you’ve read any of the mainstream media or seen any quotes from various progressive politicians up to and including the President.

Before that though…pretty much same-o-same-o round here. Been a little cooler the past 4 or 5 days so we could open up and get the breeze and so far it looks pretty good through the middle of next week or so. We started planning a trip up to VA…or these days mebbe I should start referring to it as East PRC since the state is pretty much turning into the eastern nanny state version of the left coast original…to visit Alex and also catch the part of the US-50 coast to coast trip we started in 2019 but missed some of the eastern part after Neil’s kidney stone episode which grounded us in Cody WY for almost 2 months. Neil planned out a route that would have us gone from home 12 days but when Connie started checking out the places we had planned to go for hours and such it turns out that they’re all pretty much closed still. Given that we cancelled the trip before planning really got going…we are really wanting to see Alex and his parents but spending 4 days on the road to spend 2 days there didn’t seem like a very smart idea…they have their own lives and things to do so we generally try to just stay a couple of days to minimize disruption in their routines and what they need to do. Besides…Neil’s new camera probably won’t be here then anyway.

We did get out to eat last Monday for Date Night…now that we’re fully vaccinated we decided that as long as we wear masks and distance appropriately…and try to eat at open air places with good ventilation…we could get a little more back to normal. So we headed out to the Nauti Parrot Tiki Bar after having Happy Hour at home first…and it felt really good to get back to a little normality. Nauti Parrot is a pretty big place but the tables are spread out more than they used to be…and all the waitresses are masked as well as customers until they’re sitting down. We had a couple glasses each of wine, split a stuffed mushroom appetizer and then had some seared ahi tuna (Connie) and a Philly Cheese Steak (Neil)…they were outstanding and we were still home well before sunset since we went early to miss the dinnertime crowd. In addition to the more sparse crowd…there are no walls on 3 sides of the place as it’s right on the canal with the marina and there was a nice breeze coming through the dining area. Nice…with the exception of a burger at the outside Tiki Bar at the Punta Gorda Elks north of us and a few dinners at our own lodge…that’s the first time we’ve eaten out in a year. We’ve got at least a half dozen similar places with outside seating that we’ll be able to frequent each Monday until things get back to normal.

Oh yeah…back to those “outrageous voter suppression laws”.

Yes…those two states have recently passed some election laws but at least in some circles…for example not progressive politicians or most of the media…the actual effect of those laws seems to be a little different fro what you’ve seen in the media. So I figured I would offer up some actual fact as to what is actually in those laws and why…and how whether those restrictions are either perfectly justifiable or a vicious attack on democracy depending on where the restrictions are in effect.

These days…there is pretty much no such thing as an unbiased news source…but the Wall Street Journal is about as straight down the middle, just the facts with no spin as you can get…the rest of this post pretty much comes direct from them as published on March 31. Yes…the piece was written as an opinion and commentary by a Republican…but let’s face it…facts are facts and the WSJ would not have posted lies as it goes against the way they do business.

Last week at his press conference…the President called Republican efforts to reform election laws in Iowa and Georgia as “un-American” and “sick”…yes, those were the words he used. He then went on with numerous statements of “fact” regarding the laws passed by the legislatures in those states. First…he stated as a fact that Republicans would “end voting at 5 o’clock when working people are just getting off from work”…but the actual law in Iowa, while it did reduce voting hours by one hour…specifies that polls are open from 7 AM to 8PM…and in Georgia the hours of 7 AM to 7 PM are unchanged.

He also stated that “there will be no absentee ballots”…which again is incorrect. Iowa’s only absentee ballot change was that they needed to arrive by 8 PM on Election Day…and in Georgia again there was one change in that instead of verifying signatures absentee ballots would have to include the number from the Georgia drivers license or from the free state provided ID or via a photocopy of the ID issued to military members, government employees, and Indian tribal members…thus making verification of the voter’s identity to allow citizens to vote once each. This was implemented due to frequent arguments over the matching of the signature on the ballot with the signature on records of the voter’s registration authority. In the past…election workers who may or may not be experts in signature analysis…used their judgement to determine whether the voter who signed the registration was also the voter who signed the absentee ballot. While most adults that we know of always sign their name the same way…there are those that don’t and whether the middle initial is included or the middle name spelled out or the handwriting style is the same makes signature verification problematic…hence the requirement of the appropriate number.

Finally…he stated that “some states” are saying that “you cannot bring water to people standing in line waiting to vote”…which is an over-statement. It’s not actually a lie like the first two instances above but perhaps a fuller understanding of what is in the election laws of Georgia might lead you to a different interpretation. GA law states that electioneering is prohibited within 150 feet of the polling place and within 25 feet of voters standing in line more than 150 feet from the polling place…this limit is pretty much the same that exists in every state…the purpose is to prevent people from trying to sway your vote one way or the other while you’re standing in line. What the revised law in Georgia states is that politically involved groups are prohibited from doing this but that election officials should provide self service water stations from an unattended receptacle. See…the idea is that politically involved groups…of any political affiliation…can’t do this since that could constitute electioneering within the stated distance limits. 

Finally…he stated that these new laws are “despicable” and “the most pernicious thing” and “make Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle”…whatever that last means but presumably  eagles are bigger, stronger, meaner and more vicious than crows or something.

So…in two cases…the President simply lied and in another he grossly mis-stated the intent and effect of a clause in the new law…seems that the left and media routinely lambasted the former President for doing the same thing but apparently because it’s a Democrat lying and mis-stating it’s all hunky dory and fine.

Let’s look at those two states new laws and compare them with another state…in this case let’s pick Delaware which is home to our President and which he represented in the Senate for 40something years. Remember…he called Iowa and Georgia racist…so let’s see how their laws compare to Delaware’s.

Iowa and Georgia…well, both of them allow unlimited, no excuse needed absentee voting by mail…simply submit an application by the required date and then vote and mail it so it arrives by the deadline and your vote gets counted. Any registered voter can vote by mail without waiting for Election Day. In neither state does the new law reduce that allowance. In Delaware…unlimited, no excuse voting by mail is prohibited…in order to vote absentee you must meet strict limits…you must be a government employee, student out of the county of residence on Election Day, or with religious prohibitions not allowing in person voting on Election Day. Why is it that the much more restrictive absentee voting requirements in Delaware aren’t being pilloried in the media and by progressives?

Georgia has capped the number of drop boxes for hand delivered absentee ballots at one per 100,000 registered voters or one for every early voting site. Yes…this is a reduction in the total number of drop off boxes…but Georgia has double the number of drop off boxes per capita compared to Delaware. Again…why is the more restrictive requirement in Delaware not being protested?

Iowa (since 1990) and Georgia (since 2004) have allowed no excuse in person early voting…in Iowa it is the last 29 days of the election cycle and in Georgia it is 17 days and an optional 2 additional Sundays…this is actually an increase in Georgia over the election in November 2020…it’s really hard to understand how increasing the number of no excuse in person early voting days is in any way voter suppression…but that’s what progressives are claiming. Delaware…well, actually no excuse in person early voting is specifically prohibited there…they do have it but you must meet one of the criteria for absentee balloting to participate. To their credit…starting in 2022 they will allow no excuse in person early voting…for a period of…10…yes 10, count ‘em 10…days. I know it’s redundant…but again why is that state not being pilloried by media and progressives?

In fact…in last year’s election…59% of Iowa votes and 80% of Georgia votes were cast early in person, by drop off, or by absentee mail in…while in Delaware that number was 29%. In other words…it was far easier to vote last November in both of those states than it was in Delaware.

Voter ID to vote in person…let’s take a look at that. All three states require it and accept many of the same forms of identification. Georgia and Iowa provide free IDs on request while Delaware lets you sign an affidavit that you’re the person listed on the voter rolls with a fine/possible jail time if you lie on that affidavit. Seems to me that taking the voter’s word for who they claim to be makes illicit voting more likely. I’m not suggesting that voters in Delaware would lie…but when it’s cost free to get the ID you need and the ID decreases the possibility of fraudulent voting…why is this a bad thing?

The answer is simple folks…this Jim Eagle crap and voter suppression talk is all about political advantage…nothing more and nothing less. Taking just one of the issues above…voter ID…go ahead and count the number of things that you must have an ID for…

  • Buying alcohol
  • Buying recreational marijuana
  • Checking out a library book
  • Getting on an airplane or train
  • Registering for and picking up your welfare check, foot stamps, SNAP funds or subsidized housing allowance
  • Driving a car to do any of the above
  • Opening a bank account
  • Apply for or receive Medicare or Medicaid
  • Apply for a job
  • Buy or rent a vehicle
  • Get married
  • Purchase a firearm
  • Adopt a pet
  • Rent a hotel room
  • Apply for a hunting or fishing license
  • Buy a cell phone
  • Visit a casino
  • Pick up a prescription from the pharmacy
  • Hold a rally
  • Donate blood
  • Buy an M rated video game
  • Purchase nail polish (at CVS at least)
  • Purchase certain cold medications over the counter

Now please explain to me…if you need an ID to do any of the above things…and I’m guessing that the number of US citizens who don’t do at least one of those things is pretty darned small…and if none of those things are nearly as important as exercising your civic right and duty to vote for your government…why is it immoral, racist, and suppression to require the same for voting?

Also please explain to me why the more restrictive requirements in the President’s home state aren’t being pilloried in the media and by progressives while Georgia and Iowa are?

As I said…political advantage, pure and simple…a moron could recognize this.

Moving on to other stupidity…and these two really take the cake.

Let’s start with Baltimore MD. If I were to conduct a survey to find out what the most corrupt crime ridden city in the country is…I’m guessing that Baltimore would be pretty close to the top. 

The state attorney in Baltimore…Marilyn Mosby…announced in March 2020 that her office would no longer prosecute and in fact dropped all pending cases for drug possession, prostitution, trespassing, open container, public urination, paraphernalia possession, attempted distribution of drugs, and minor traffic offenses. She stated that police would not arrest people for these “victimless crimes” and that there was “no public safety value in prosecuting those offenses”. In other words…she announced that in effect…those were no longer crimes in Baltimore. She announced last week that the experiment was over, declared it a complete success based on “incarcerating 18% fewer people”, and that the rules were now permanent. Strange how when you stop arresting people for crimes and don’t prosecute them for those crimes that the number of people in jail is reduced…and in other news water is wet and the sun comes up in the east.

In actuality…the murder rate there is significantly higher over her 6 years in office.

Moving on to that bastion of gun control Chicago…the week before last there was a police involved shooting. The department has some technology spread around the city that detects and localizes gunshots and in the wee hours of the morning it detected and localized 8 gunshots to which police responded. Getting out of their police car and entering the area they located two males who then ran instead of surrendering when ordered…so naturally the police chased them because…well…that’s what they’re paid to do. The two males entered an alley and one of them turned around and apparently aimed a weapon at the pursuing police…who responded by shooting him. The dead gunman turned out to be a 13 year old…my guess is that no matter who was shooting the gun originally it was given to the 13 year old as they ran since he was a juvenile and would get less severe consequences if caught with it.

In response…Ms. Lightfoot the mayor of the city announced that there would be a reform of “foot pursuit” in the city by the summer…so what she’s essentially saying is that she is intent on banning foot pursuit by the police in Chicago…in other words if the criminal runs they will have to let them go…essentially legalizing crime in Chicago similar to that done in Baltimore.

What the heck are these people thinking?

Let’s see…what else do I see on the news these days. 

We’ve heard many progressives since the election last fall start to demand that the Supreme Court be packed to eliminate their conservative decisions. One person who was adamantly against this until her death was the late Justice Ginsburg…and this week another justice also came out against this…none other than the liberal Justice Breyer. If even the liberals on the court are against packing it…maybe the progressive left should rethink their demands.

Over in Sri Lanka…they apparently have a beauty pageant named…Mrs. Sri Lanka. Last week…a woman named Pushpika De Silva won the 2021 edition of the pageant on national television. At that point…the 2019 winner stormed the stage, tore the tiara off of her head and placed it on the runner up declaring that Mrs De Silva was divorced…thereby rendering her ineligible. A riot broke out and Mrs. De Silva was injured. Turns out that she is separated but not divorced…and therefore eligible…and the pageant returned her crown.

No new images for ya…wildlife has been kinda scarce ‘round the pond these days. Neil keeps threatening to run down at sunrise to the wildlife park a couple miles downtime road…maybe now that sunrise is about 0730 due to daylight savings time he’ll get there.

Interesting things found on the net.

CemetaryFreakOut

BackInAJiff

PilotHomeWork

LunchablesForMen

Cyas.

Posted in Homebody, Reality Based Blogging, Ya Can't Fix Stupid | 2 Comments

Camera Gear Update…Sort Of…

Nothing really new going on here…but then ya’ll already knew that since we’re still in Covid lockdown. Went out to the Elks a couple times and picked up some take out dinner…did some bike rides for Neil…Connie got her bangs trimmed and nails done…and that’s about it for highlights. He did get up to 209 riding miles for the month of March on his last ride of the month this morning and that’s a new monthly high for him…16 rides averaging a bit over 13 miles each.

On the idiot politician front though…the liberals are all up in arms over ‘common sense gun laws’ that are simply mandatory after the shootings we had the other week…but as usual they’re mostly just trying to not let a good crisis go to waste and use them to further their agenda. This time…well, every time actually…they’re demanding a ban on ‘military style assault rifles’ as well as ‘improved background checks’. There’s a couple problems with their argument though. First off…it’s already illegal for a regular citizen to have a military style assault rifle…the definition of that term actually means that it’s capable of firing in full automatic which means you hold the trigger down and it shoots over and over again. Yes…military weapons have that feature but its very rarely used as all it does is waste ammo since accurate fire is pretty much impossible. The AR-15s and such you see described by the media are actually just semiautomatic rifles which means one bullet per trigger pull…they’re functionally identical to your standard deer hunting rifle…except they’re black and look scary. The second thing about ‘improved background checks’ is that the bad guy in Colorado and the bad guy in Georgia both passed the required background check and bought their weapons at fully licensed gun stores…and closing of the ‘gun show loophole’ would have done nothing in either case.

I keep finding it funny how liberals are all in favor of restricting constitutional rights they don’t like while allowing no discussion of limiting constitutional rights they do like. Like many of them…we personally believe that in a perfect world keeping guns out of the hands of crazy people, criminals and such is a good idea…but that’s already illegal. Most guns used in homicides by non criminals are purchased legally…and criminals are well…criminals…so they don’t mind breaking the law to get a weapon. Likewise…we personally believe that some voting requirements…like a photo ID to verify citizenship and identity…are also a valid idea…but liberals refuse to even consider those. Finally…and it’s a tragedy that people were killed in mass shootings…but the total number of rifle deaths in the country is minuscule compared to many other causes of death…illegal handguns, knives/axes/edged weapons, cars, abortion, heart attacks and on and on. I’m all for decreasing death from any cause…but it seems the liberals are fixated on the nonsensical ‘military style assault rifles’ and ignore many other things that cause far greater numbers of deaths. Heck…over across the pond in England handgun possession by citizens is pretty much illegal…but it hasn’t stopped crime much…so now they’re realistically talking over there about banning knives. What’s next…hammers and screwdrivers? Cast iron skillets? Golf clubs? Baseball bats?

Here’s a second instance…although this one is really more about lying and hypocrisy than limiting rights. Ya’ll probably saw on the news recently all the hubbub about raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour…right? While the debate about this is reasonable and it’s worthy of discussion…in response Amazon unilaterally raised the minimum wage for their employees to that number…and remember that Amazon was founded by Jeff Bezos who owns 11% of the stock (or maybe 16%, I saw both numbers in different places and didn’t bother to research the correct number…but it’s not relevant to the discussion anyway). One would think that the liberals would be praising Amazon for doing so and holding them up as a pillar of fairness…but that wouldn’t suit their agenda. No way. In fact…there was a tweet which their human kid retweeted the other day that carefully complained how Amazon warehouse workers only made $31,200 per year while Jeff Bezos makes that in 18 seconds. That didn’t seem quite right to me so I did a little googling and used my calculator. If you work the standard 2,080 hours per year (40 times 52 weeks) at $15/hour that works out to $31,200…so that part of the tweet is accurate despite being framed as ‘only’ instead of the equally accurate but much less inflammatory $15/hour. Moving on to the claim that Bezos makes that in 18 seconds one multiplies $31,200 times 4 for approximate earnings per minute then times 60, 24, and 365.25 to convert it to annual income one comes up with $65 billion income per year to Mr. Bezos. A quick check shows his total compensation from Amazon is about $1.7 million per year and while he probably makes money from the Washington Post and other businesses he works for his actual income is probably $10-$20 million per year…easily putting the lie to the ‘Bezos makes that in 18 seconds’ claim. I next checked and his net work is about $200 billion so I have no idea where they came up with that number other than to throw their fellow liberal under the bus. I really wonder if their human kid actually asked any question before he retweeted those lies and distortions…or whether it just agrees with his political leaning so he just put it out there. They tried to teach him that ‘just because you read it on the internet doesn’t make it true’…but apparently either it didn’t take or he’s ok with fake news that he likes. Neil read through the entire thread of that tweet…and it was just an echo chamber…there were pretty much no replies or comments that challenged the so called facts in the original tweet. As President Reagan once said…Trust but verify…but apparently using common sense or actual truth/facts doesn’t work for liberals since lies and falsehoods rile up their supporters more. Of course…the other side does pretty much the same thing so there’s that.

Lemme tellya a story about receiving pretty much useless things.

Back in Feb I talked about some camera upgrades Neil was thinking about and he ordered things to get that ball rolling. He’s been using what is known as a crop sensor DSLR body and it’s going on towards 5 year old technology now and since technology continues to march on the current crop of hardware just has more capabilities than 5 year old stuff…and while the old stuff still works he’ll get more keepers with the better autofocus and better noise performance on newer stuff. In addition to a general technology upgrade…his new body will be of the mirrorless type rather than a regular DSLR…they look pretty much the same externally but have some key internal differences which assist in the better image quality. In a DSLR…the sensor is at the back of the camera and in front of it is a mirror that while focusing/composing reflects the image up to an optical viewfinder and to the autofocus sensors down on the bottom of the body. This leads to potential misalignment between the autofocus sensors and the image sensor at the back with the result that potentially what the camera is focused on at the autofocus sensor isn’t what is in focus when you take the picture, the mirror flops up and out of the way, and the mechanical shutter opens to expose the imaging sensor…so although the autofocus sensor might have been perfectly focused on the eye of the critter as it should be you end up with the focus on the image sensor on the end of the bill or the ear or nose or whatever…resulting in a less than satisfactory image. That’s not anything but how the various tolerances line up.

In a mirrorless body…there is no mirror and the autofocus points are directly on the image sensor so that any focusing tolerances just aren’t there…this effectively moves the imaging sensor forward in the body towards the lens…this in turn allows you to have a larger lens mount opening which allows the lens designer to design better lenses. The drawback…and it’s not really a drawback but rather is just a different approach…is that there is no optical viewfinder and instead there’s an electronic viewfinder that shows you the image as he sensor is seeing it and gives you an accurate picture of how the image will be exposed when you click the shutter…thus letting you better adjust the exposure to get the image you’re looking for. Mirrorless bodies also are smaller and lighter than the equivalent DSLR body since you don’t need a place for the mirror to flop up and out of the way…and also are generally able to shoot more frames per second which is important for action photos or birds in flight and things like that.

Long story short…the days of the DSLR are coming to an end and 5 years from now they’ll be considered antiques…but for today there are still some things they do better than mirrorless.

Looking at all of that…he decided to start his transition into mirrorless but will keep his DSLR crop sensor body for the advantages it has with long telephoto lenses until the mirrorless catches up for that scenario…with the ongoing transition it makes more sense to start rather than stick with the older technology.

So he ended up ordering himself a new Nikon Z7II which in addition to mirrorless is a full frame sensor…due to the size and weight reduction in mirrorless it’s the same physical size as his crop sensor DSLR body but with more megapixels on the sensor which means better image quality as it will put more pixels on the target. To go along with that he needed a couple lenses…so he ordered a 24-70mm zoom and a 70-200 zoom in the new larger size mount…along with assorted new (faster) technology memory cards, card readers, extra batteries, filters and lens caps and all that jazz.

So…this was supposed to be a story about receiving pretty much useless things…guess I need to get ‘round to that part.

He’s received everything he ordered…except for the camera body and the 24-70 lens that comes in the box with it. New Z mount 70-200 check…filters check…batteries…well you get the idea. It’s all here…except for the one part that none of the other parts work without. Bummer. He was able to test the 70-200 lens out to make sure it works by mounting it on Connie’s Z50 she got for Christmas as all of the Z bodies use the new mount so he doesn’t need to send it back…it’s almost as big and heavy as his new bird lens but it (a) zooms internally so it doesn’t get any bigger as you zoom in or out like most zoom lenses do and (b) it’s an f2.8 lens which means it’s bigger around but has better low light performance. With trying it for a few shots out back on Connie’s Z50 body he can tell he will like it a lot when he gets it on the full frame high megapixel Z7II…if it ever gets here. Currently it’s on back order with an estimated shipping date of 4/22…but we’ll have to see how that holds as we get into the month. He was able to review all of the various setup guides for the Z7II available on the web and come up with the list of how he’s going to set all the controls and settings for his wildlife and landscape images.

Anyway…that’s the story of useless stuff…now it’s a waiting game for the body to arrive.

Poop.

Lessee…what else.

I got nuttin’…absolutely nuttin’.

No images to show you since we’ve not seen much out back…but then it’s been pretty hot and we put the A/C on the last week or so…summer in Florida is approaching.

Interesting things found on the net.

As I’ve noted before…mathematicians definitely have waaay too much free time on their hands as they keep coming up over the centuries with more and more completely useless ideas. Here are the latest examples I’ve found.

Back in the day a mathematician named G. H. Hardy went to a hospital to visit his friend Srinivasa Ramanujan…and he happened to mention when he arrived that he was in a taxi with the number 1729…G. H stated that it was 1729 seemed a rather dull number and he hoped it wasn’t a bad omen. Srinivasa responded and said that 1729 was rather an interesting number as it is the smallest number that can be expressed as the sum of two cubes in two different ways…

RamanujanHardyNumber

While that is technically correct…it’s completely useless…no practical value whatsoever other than it is now called the Ramanujan-Hardy Number.

Then there’s the number 73,939,133…which is the largest right-truncatable prime number…which means that if you remove each of it’s digits one at a time from the right side…each resulting number is also prime…for those of you not paying attention a prime number is any number that is divisible by only itself and 1…for instance 3, 5, and 7 are prime but 4 is not since it is divisible by 2

RightTruncatablePrime

Again…technically correct…but also again completely useless.

Ok…what else I got besides useless math stuff.

SparklingIsolation

We have this at our house.

NoVinoPhobia

GrapesTragedy

Again…some thought required.

SomeThoughtRequired3

WhosFaultIsIt

This is a monocot tree…but it’s actually a grass and not a tree…when you cut the bark or leaves it oozes a reddish resin which results in the tree being called “dragon’s blood”.

MonocotTree

Indian bullfrogs decided that various bird species were getting all the credit for spectacular mating plumage so they developed their own counterpoint.

IndianBullfogMatingColor

Patience pays off…sometimes.

PatiencePaysOffSometimes

CantAlwaysGoHome

OneEyedBob

And finally…

OneHorseTown

Ba-dump-bump.

Cyas.

Posted in Homebody, Photography, Ya Can't Fix Stupid | Leave a comment

Visit With Friends

Wow…almost 2 weeks since my last post but we been pretty busy. 

Our friends Bill and Linda were here last week for a couple of days…they arrived on Wednesday and left Friday morning…unfortunately we had our second COVID vaccine shots Wednesday evening so we were mostly not doing very well during the day on Thursday but we had recovered by mid-afternoon on Friday.

Despite our vaccination woes…Neil had smoked a chicken on Wednesday and made Connie’s published recipe Something Different Meatloaf© on Thursday along with some side dishes…and we had chocolate mint cake one night and mango key lime pie the second night. Breakfast both days was pastries from the Publix.

We visited…talked about old RVing days…and commiserated with Bill’s bad knee but otherwise just visited. Luckily for them…we got the bed for the spare bedroom delivered the week before so they had a place to sleep.

Not much else going on…we did some cleaning around the house before Bill and Linda got here…Connie had a district Ladies of Elks meeting today…Neil called bingo for the Ladies on Sunday…and we went to the Lodge on Friday for a couple cocktails before coming home for dinner and that’s about it. 

Neil ordered some new camera gear…don’t ask how much he spent…once it’s here I’ll put in some details on what he got and why…funny thing is that everything he ordered will be here next week except the new body and lenses…those are on back order with no real idea when they will arrive.

Neil took our BBQ grill and camp stove tables out the back today and power washed the gunk off of them…they were getting pretty nasty. Then he hauled the power washer ‘round the front and did Li’l Red and Sporty Red to get some of the dust and grime off of them. He also had several bike rides…pretty much every other day is his norm now.

Let’s see…what else.

Photoshop introduced a new feature in Adobe Camera Raw a week or so back that increases the resolution and detail of your images…it’s one of those magic AI things that essentially makes up details for you much like you see in the photo enhancement stuff on the various crime shows on TV. He tested it out with one of his images from back in 2015 on our Alaska trip…this is a Kodiak brown bear…which happens to be genetically identical to a grizzly bear…it was about 10 feet away when he took this shot. It was taken back when Connie’s old Nikon D7100 was his main camera and this is substantially better than the original shot.

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It was taken on his small plane bear watching trip down to Katmai National Park…they landed on the beach and had to leave before high tide because the runway would disappear at high tide. Luckily…the bears, although wild…are habituated to people and he was fishing so he pretty much left the 6 of them alone…they were huddled together on a small grassy high spot (like 2 feet high) that he measured later was 13 feet from the edge of the stream and this fella passed between them and the bank.

We also had a rare visitor to…or should I say visitors…the pond out back…a pair of Green Herons. I’m not sure whether this was a couple of males establishing dominance or a horny male and his not so receptive female. One chased the other ‘round the pond about 3 time and they landed across from each other a couple of times. Based on the behavior I think it was a male attempting to convince the female to breed with him…but since Green Heron male and females look the same it’s pretty hard to beside.

This is the one that was doing the chasing…you can tell it’s breeding season as the Green Heron just gets the whitish breast instead of the more elaborate plumage that some of the other wading birds get.

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This is the other half…the chase-ee…we think this is a female based on the behavior of the chasing, the longer neck of this one, and the greater amount of white on the breast. Eventually they both flew off so together so that makes the male/female interaction more likely…at least we think.

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We also spotted the juvenile Little Blue Heron again…although it took us a couple of times to figure out what it was as the coloration isn’t quite as described in Peterson’s “Birds of North America” which is the bible for identification.

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The eaglets down any the nest near the Publix are doing well…continuing to grow and starting to look like juvenile birds rather than chicks. They’re now 53 and 54 days old and should fledge the next in another 2 or 3 weeks.

Interesting things found on the net.

After last weekend’s interview by Oprah of Harry and Megan…

BothOfThem

Takes a bit of thought…

TakesSomeThought

Just in case you don’t know…a palindrome is a word that is spelled the same forwards and backwards.

PalindromistsTournament

 

SignOfTheTimes

Reparations

Another one that requires a bit o’ thought.

DifferentPointOfView

 

MarsInhabitants

And on the subject of palindromes…although these are numbers rather than letters and words.

MoreMathNerdness

WineTasting

OutdoorActivity

BottomOfTheBottle

I’m liking the way they think.

WineGoodValue

Best one of the week.

DorothyMugShot

Cyas.

Posted in Critters, Homebody, Photography, WIldlife | Leave a comment

Day Trip to Middle Florida

Wow…2 weeks since my last post but first I was waiting on our second day trip and then I had to wait on Neil and Connie to finish selecting the images (out of 1200 or so) to process and then Neil to process them.

I know that if you listen to the news you think that the COVID is killing everybody and I’m in no way trivializing the 500,000 or whatever the number is up to deaths…but they’re still pretty few and far between on a national scale. We received word this week that Tom Hanneke…a fellow naval officer that Neil served with at his last duty station at the Naval Security Group and who Neil organized the retirement ceremony for has passed away. Tom and his wife Pam retired to Missouri and they visited us over in Seminole Campground back in the mid 20teens while they were down here for baseball spring training games…and we had plans to visit them on our trip across US-50 the first time but by the time we got to actually making the trip we started in the middle instead of the east coast and thus didn’t pass near their home so we didn’t get to see them. Both Tom and Pam came down with the COVID late last year and while she recovered he passed away on Jan 2. He was actually 6 years older than Connie and Neil are and had been having some health issues the past few years but it just goes to show you that you never know how sick you will get with this disease. His photography friend Steve…who is 10-15 years or so younger, doesn’t smoke/drink/have health issues and hikes a lot as he is a wildlife photographer also came down with it and ended up in the ICU  this week with pneumonia as a result of the COVID but at this point he appears to be improving and out of the woods. So…keep masking up and social distancing as well as you can and get vaccinated when you can.

As I previously stated…we had a trip planned late last week up to middle/northern Florida to visit a couple of wildlife sanctuaries and go on their wildlife drives…it’s the mating season and that means the waterfowl have all their breeding plumage to attract the ladies…and the men for the female birds…so this is the prime time to see them in all their glory. In addition…our first stop is a prime rookery for the Reddish Egrets and we wanted to see them.

In light of the social distancing recommendations…we kept masked up whenever we were inside or around other people and ate dinner one night on the dock near Merritt Island and the second night picked up a pizza and ate in the hotel room. Hotels are pretty well sanitized daily and we stayed well away from people. After packing up Sporty Red with camera gear, a suitcase with a couple changes of clothes, and some snacks and beer we headed out mid morning last Wednesday for the 230 mile trip up through Arcadia then over to Fort Pierce then north on I-95. We got to the hotel, checked in, and headed out to the Pier 220 Seafood and Grill arriving there a bit before 1700 to beat the rush. We picked a table out on the dock and ordered a couple brews then had smoked mackerel dip followed by a bowl of clam chowder for Connie and cocoanut shrimp for Neil. All was great and we headed home stuffed then watched TV until bedtime…which came early as we had a mission.

The view from our table.

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We hauled Kara and Li’l Gunther along with us and took their picture alongside the remains of the smoked mackerel dip.

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One interesting note was that we heard this lady behind us who both looked like and sounded like Elizabeth from the show Swamp People. She’s a gator hunting lady down there and this woman really looked/sounded just like she does…we asked and she turned out to be from Tennessee.

We needed to arrive at the Merritt Island NWR for their Black Point Wildlife Drive by 0700 when the sun came up…and had some pastry we bought the night before along with coffee for breakfast before heading out.

We got to the NWR on time, rigged up our cameras for the morning’s activities, and set out on the drive which was mostly along a packed shell road through the marsh on the northern end of Merritt Island…the southern end is occupied by the Kennedy Space Center and the NWR is closed on launch days. We could see the huge Vehicle Assembly Building on the drive across the causeway to the island but no rockets were out on any of the pads that we could see.

On to the pictures…I’ll just label each species the first time they’re shown and leave it to ya to figger out the later ones.

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Tricolor Heron…white chest is the key…although this one is bluer than most and we thought it was a Little Blue Heron at first.

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Little Blue Heron.

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Moorhen also known as Purple Gallinule.

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Tricolor Heron again…this one is more typical in coloration.

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Little Blue Heron in mating plumage…although for him it’s just more red neck feathers than anything really spectacular.

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Snowy Egrets…black bill and legs and golden feet. We’ve never seen them flying in a group before…and they were far and away the most common heron species act this NWR after the small floating birds.

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Glossy Ibis…beak that turns down and brown coloration with the iridescent wings.

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Blue Winged Teals.

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Reddish Egret…mostly grayish with red neck and breast and the pinkish bill during mating season. This and the following photo of another pair were the closest we saw though…they’re relatively uncommon and a close up just wasn’t in our day.

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Male Anhinga.

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We had a hard time with this one…beak and leg colors say it’s a Great Egret but It was pretty small and the beak is too short…and all of the other white herons (immature Little Blue and Cattle Egret) didn’t match the coloration either.

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Greater Yellowlegs for the obvious reason.

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White Pelican.

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Close up Snowy Egret. The breast, back of the neck, and tail fluffy feathers are the breeding plumage and were the reason this species got pretty rare for awhile back in the “women always wear fancy hats” days.

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Great Blue Heron…sleeping on one leg.

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More Blue Winged Teals…female in the front and male behind.

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Snowy Egrets again.

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Female Anhinga…they have the brown neck.

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Red Winged Blackbird.

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Little Green Heron.

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Connie got a close up with her Z50…we continue to be amazed by the improvements in the autofocus algorithm as compared to our older bodies and she’s really happy to have a long enough lens to actually get bird closeups.

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After the drive at Merritt Island we headed west for our second hotel stop near Lake Apopka northwest of Orlando and stopped by the Orlando Wetlands Park on the way for lunch and a walk around the wetlands.

Mated pair of Sandhill Cranes.

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Great Egret out in the marsh.

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Moorhens and American Coot (white beak).

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We got to the hotel mid afternoon and after a nap Neil went out and picked up a pizza for dinner then we did the TV/early bedtime thing again as we had another date with the dawn. Our second drive was along the north shore of Lake Apopka…again on a crushed shell road along the top of the dikes that control the water level in the marshes.

Great Egret with mating plumage…yellow beak, long neck, and black legs are the key…same but with yellow/greenish legs would be the Great White Heron.

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Black Crowned Night Heron…images like this is why you pay $3,500 for a prime lens Nikon telephoto…almost all of these that Neil took were using that (his new bird lens) and it’s a joy to use compared to the old bird lens as it’s hand holdable where his old Tamron zoom just wasn’t. This fella was across the canal sitting there and couldn’t be bothered with people.

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Connie also got a shot with her Z50.

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Snowy with breeding plumage again.

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We didn’t have a rooster to crow but this Great Blue Heron took care of it anyway.

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They both got a shot of this Snowy Egret in Flight…but his didn’t turn out. He had the wrong autofocus mode selected (single point instead of group so the bird wasn’t in focus but he did get an excellently focused shot of the water drops coming off the feet as it took flight) and also too slow a shutter speed so the Bir was blurry.

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It almost looks like this Great Blue Heron is sneaking up on the Moorhen for breakfast but they don’t eat birds as far as we know.

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Blue Winged Teal again…key is the white strip in front of the eye and (usually) the blue wing tip at the rear although the latter isn’t visible on this one.

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White Ibis.

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Little Blue Heron in flight…again Connie got the shot but she took it out the passenger window and Neil was blocked.

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Little Blue Heron on the nest.

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Great Blue Heron…relatively small amount of breeding plumage compared to some other species.

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Ibis flock.

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Double Crested Cormorant. Hooked beak and green eyes.

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Cowbird.

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Belted Kingfisher…this is a female since it doesn’t have the orange tinted belt across it’s waist. Also one of the hardest birds to get a decent photo of as (a) they are small and (b) they usually don’t stay still very long as it’s a very skittish species. This one stayed still for about 10 seconds after we stopped but Neil was able to get a dozen or so shots as it perched then flew off.

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Really big gator…probably 11 or 12 feet.

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After the gator…we were mostly in farmland areas the last 4 miles or so of the drive then on back country roads for an hour as we made our way back to I-75 for the trip home.

We didn’t do much last weekend as Connie was feeling poorly but did go down this week for her to get her nails done…Neil took advantage of the eagle nest across the street from the nail place to get a few pictures from our local eagle nest where both both eaglets are doing well and growing.

Harriet (mom) on guard duty at the nest while M15 (dad) is out hunting. The eaglets aren’t big enough yet to not be owl breakfast so one of the adults will remain on/near the nest until they get closer to fledging size.

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Great Egret that flew overhead…not a super great photo but Neil liked the way the afternoon sun is coming though the wings.

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Dad arriving with some chow for the kids…unfortunately with the way the wind was blowing and the fact that most birds land and take off upwind brought him in from the worst possible direction so no real clear shot of him today.

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After a brief conversation Harriet headed off for her hunting turn.

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While M15 hopped up on the branch for guard duty. His tail feathers are more rounded as you can see in this photo as compared to Harriet’s in the ones above.

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All of that action happened in the last 10 minutes or so of the 90 he spent there. After he got these shots he noticed the time and figured it was about time to pack up and go pick up Connie…she called as he was crossing the street and after picking her up they stopped at Winn Dixie to get a few things.

Our friends Bill and Linda will be here next Wednesday for 2 nights…they’ve both been vaccinated and Neil and Connie have both had COVID and will get their second shot early next week so we’ll have a nice visit with them before they head back to NC.

Interesting things found on the net…just a couple since this is already pretty image intensive.

You can’t actually see the Andromeda Galaxy (our closest neighbor galaxy) with the naked eye because it’s too dim…but if you could this is how big it would appear.

AndromedaGalaxyAndMoon

Excellent instructions…it’s either lawyerspeak or the pizza is pretty bad.

ExcellentInstructions

Safety Violation.

SafetyViolation

Cyas.

Posted in Critters, Photography, WIldlife | Leave a comment

Day Trip To Venice Rookery

Well…it’s mating season for the birds down here in Florida so we headed up to Venice to the Venice Audobon Rookery yesterday morning. It was originally scheduled for Tuesday but it was raining so we blew it off until a nicer weather day.

Set our clocks for 0500 and got out the door a bit before 0600. After a quick trip 1 mile south on US-41 on exiting the neighborhood…we went into the Circle K for gas, coffee, and a donut each as we were planning on having breakfast later. After that…we headed north on 41 and then hopped on over to I-75 where they almost intersect 8 miles or so north of Magnolia Landing and thence on up to Venice. It’s about 5 miles from the freeway to the rookery and the last quarter mile or so they’re building a bunch of something so there is construction equipment everywhere but they did leave a nice path through it to the rookery parking lot. The tractor noise and such kind of spoils the mood a bit but it apparently isn’t bothering the birds at all…they’re pretty habituated to people there.

We arrived just a couple minutes after sunrise at 0710 or so…and got the last parking space available although there were some latecomers that parked along the road. The rookery itself consists of a pond about 100 yards by 150 yards with an island in the middle but closer to the side with the parking lot…there’s about 20 yards of water between the shore and the island. And…it’s simply packed with birds nesting in all their finery…many species all mixed together. There were probably 40 people there taking photos so we jumped right in.

Here’s a shot of about 1/4 of the island to illustrate the close packed nature of the nesting sites…as you can see there’s plenty there. We counted Great Egrets, great blue herons, Anhinga, moorhens, green herons, black crowned night herons, ducks as well as red winged Blackbirds and several other songbirds. We’ve always found it strange that the species count is pretty fixed…no little blue herons or snowy egrets at all in the 3 or 4 times we’ve been up there. We did see a couple of sandhill cranes on one visit but not this time.

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Before  getting into the rest of the photos…a little catch up for us. We’ve decided to…mostly…stay away from the Elks for the time being as management is…well…being stupid and not enforcing any COVID precautions. We aren’t really concerned for our safety as we’ve both had it as well as the first vaccination jab…but neither of those prevents you from carrying the virus with you and spreading it…masks remain a good idea even if you’re immune to protect others. We discovered this state of affairs on the 13th when we went there for the Valentines Day shindig and discovered that nobody was wearing masks except for us. The Exalted Ruler told all of the members when we reopened in early January that precautions were required and that folks should remain masked unless sitting at a table…and the tables had been spread out for social distancing. All of that is apparently now out the window though. We left and had a pizza instead…whoopee, what a great Valentines Day dinner…and Neil sent the ER an email about the lack of precautions. His response was that he was responsible for the business of the lodge first over the health of the members…and the he wasn’t interested in playing policeman to enforce the rules. Nuts I tellya.

Not much else new…so back to our day trip. This was Connie’s first chance to use her new mirrorless Nikon Z50 with a longer lens than she used to have…she still needs some camera training on new features but all in all she was impressed with it and able to get shots she couldn’t get previously. Of particular usefulness to her was the much improved autofocus algorithm which allowed her to actually get several decent bird in flight shots…something she’s previously not been able to do both because of the short lens on her old camera as well as the inability for her to find the bird in the viewfinder and get focused quickly enough to get a shot. Neil also took his new Nikon 500PF bird lens along on his main body and took her old body back so he can carry a second one. That worked and gave him the ability to shift lens without having to change lenses…but the limited feature set on her old body kept him from using it as much as he would have liked…so he clearly needs an upgrade for his second body as well. He’s going to wait a bit and see if Nikon comes out with a more fully featured crop sensor mirrorless body before making a decision. The biggest problems are that her old body has slow autofocus with a less sensitive algorithm and the frame rate for burst shooting is simply too low for any kind of action.

Anyways…on to the photos…I’ll brag on hers as they go in.

This used to be called a moorhen…but it got broken out into it’s own species a few years back and is now known as a common Gallinule…as opposed to a purple Gallinule which is slightly different as it is purplish, hence the name.

This shot was shortly after arrival and it was only about 10 feet away. As Neil turned away to talk to Connie there was a huge splash behind him and this little fellow fled across the water 20 feet or so…obviously the gator missed breakfast as it surfaced out in the pond a few seconds later.

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Connie’s first actually successful bird in flight shot that Neil can recall anyway…the Z50 grabbed onto the Great Egret in flight and ignored the Anhinga behind it. They fly relatively slowly but the algorithm takes motion into account and assumes the moving thing is the subject.

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The egret above took a turn around the pond then came back to the island to land…it had some sort of disagreement with another Great Egret as you can see…and the male Anhinga in the foreground got into the discussion as well…he was probably just saying “get off my lawn”.

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Great Egret with mating plumage…these feathers and their need for fancy hats back in the 1800s played a large part in the reduction in numbers of both herons and egrets…when those hats went out of fashion the fowl made a comeback. Don’t know if this is a male or female…you can’t tell them apart visually but the male does have a display where it extends it’s neck vertically and moves it up and down to entice the ladies.

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Great Blue Heron with breeding plumage and a couple of chicks…er, heron-ettes I guess…there’s a close up of them that Connie got later.

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Grumpy old lobster boat captain Great Egret standing on a branch…this one has a lot more plumage than the one above so that may be because it’s a different gender, or maybe an older bird, or maybe just random variation or how it appears when hanging down as opposed to the display above.

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Neil spotted this squirrel and it stood up very nicely in a beam of sunlight for him.

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This is a male Great Egret doing that display thing I talked about…Connie got a shot of him. As you can see…it hasn’t enticed the ladies yet.

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Red winged Blackbird.

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Extreme close up of head on a Great Egret with Neil’s new bird lens from about 12 feet away…as you can see the detail and focus on the eye is tack sharp and very finely detailed.

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Close up of the two Great Blue Heron chicks from before…Connie really liked their punk spike hairdo…or featherdo I guess…and took way too many pictures (like 100) of the pair.

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Yellow rumped warbler…although Peterson’s was not able to identify it for Neil as the picture in there doesn’t match this one at all. Fortunately…google showed him that there’s a lot of variation in this species appearance and one of the images he found was colored almost exactly like this one. Connie got this shot through the tree branches.

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Another male Great Egret looking for a mate.

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Another successful bird in flight for Connie…a Great Egret bringing some construction material back to the nest site.

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And she also spotted this cowbird through the trees.

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As well as this Red Winged Blackbird.

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Neil got a slightly closer shot of the same individual when it hopped to a neighboring perch. They also got several shots of it displaying with its patches out in the search for a mate.

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Displaying…so this is a male…and the females are more brownish and not black at all.

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Red bellied woodpecker…although there’s really not much red on his belly but more on the back of his head. Unfortunately…the red headed woodpecker was named before this one and that one looks like his whole head was dipped into the paint can.

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Downy woodpecker…the smallest woodpecker species in the US…identified by the red tuft and we like his punk hairdo as well.

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Green Heron…normally a very shy and hard to find species. This one was completely habituated to people and stayed at the edge of the water within 8 or 10 feet of the crowd for 20 minutes or so. Neil liked his “what you lookin’ at?” attitude.

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Female Anhinga…she has the brown neck all the time and the eyes get especially green when looking for a mate.

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Biggest gator we seen in a long time…he was hanging out right near the island but wasn’t the one that went after the bird shortly after our arrival. He announced his presence with that deep rumbling noise that bull gators use to intimidate other bulls so no fights are necessary…the deeper the rumble the bigger the gator and the littler ones stay away.

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Male Anhinga bringing in some construction material.

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A different male Anhinga coming in for a landing.

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Different view of the Green Heron…it is relatively short necked and fat bodies compared to other herons.

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Anhinga.

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Common Gallinule again…they’re floaters and swim like ducks but with those long toes instead of webbing I’m surprised they can move in the water as well as they do.

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Connie came over and got in on the Green Heron and Common Gallinule action as well.

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This flock of Muscovy Ducks kept coming and flying around the pond but never landed.

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Close up of female Anhinga.

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Black Crowned Night Heron…his breeding plumage is pretty minimalistic, consisting of just the single white feather you see here.

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Interesting things found on the net…just a couple as this has already been a long post at 1855 w words and over 10K characters.

We have this local community bulletin board thing named NextDoor…this is a post on it recently.

FishGulpingAir

Unfortunately…Laura doesn’t seem to realize that fish don’t have lungs and are physically incapable of gulping air due to low oxygen levels in the ponds. They eat bugs off of the surface and also hang out with their heads sticking up a bit but I really don’t think they’re gasping for breath as they aren’t moving…not to mention that whole no lungs thing.

With the ongoing power issues in Texas due to the storm…and by the way the problem is not as simplistic as either side wants you to believe…it is neither the fault of the wind turbines going off line or the output from them. They can be designed to operate in cold weather but the ones in Texas were not…like all utilities their rates are regulated and just like out in the PRC they were not given sufficient rates to properly design and maintain the system or to buy the expensive extra cold weather features. There are also some management issues involved but it isn’t as simple as the talking heads on the news make it out to be. Anyway…

WIndTurbineDeicing

Again…I keep asking myself why anybody cares about things like this and why would any effort be spent on figuring them out…but there’s this thing called Diophantine equation and back in 1954 some math geek suggested this one…x³+y³+z³=k with k being all the numbers from 1 to 100. Turns out that all of the numbers had been either solved for or demonstrated that the left hand terms didn’t exist…except for Douglas Adam’s favorite number 42…but it was solved recently.

DiophantineEquationSolution

I still don’t know why anybody cares.

And finally…

HungryKid

Cyas.

Posted in Critters, Homebody, Photography, Travel, WIldlife | Leave a comment

Sample Photos From Neil’s New Bird Lens

As I noted in my post on camera upgrades…Neil ordered us a new bird lens…he’s not sure whether he’ll sell his Tamron 150-600 mm G2 lens but after seeing the sample shots from his new Nikon 500PF lens (and he’ll be getting the teleconverter when one is in stock so this will become a 700mm as well)…and taking into account the lowered size and weight…the Tamron is 10-15 inches long depending on zoom level (usually it’s at the maximum) and weighs 70 ounces while the 500PF is 9 inches and 51 ounces. The Tamron is essentially impossible to hand hold and needs either a tripod or monopod…the 500 is much easier to hold up for images as well as hold steady handheld as one moves through the brush…adding in those advantages to the better image quality that a prime lens has over a zoom lens and that a more expensive lens has over a less expensive…let’s just say he’s quite happy with this $3600 purchase over the $1300 Tamron.

Let’s see…what else is happening. We got our first coronavirus vaccine jabs last week…both of us were achey the next day and had some residual injection site soreness for 3 days or so but are pretty much back to normal now. We had an aborted Valentines Day dinner at the Elks on Saturday…but they’ve essentially abandoned following the CDC guidelines so we ended up leaving before dinner was served and picked up some sushi on the way home instead. We got our bed delivery for next week confirmed by Rooms2Go this morning.

The weather has warmed back up nicely after our cold spell. 

We finally got around to starting to configure the programming on the Roomba he got her for Christmas…and yes, it was on her list…he’s not dumb enough to buy her an appliance for a gift unless she asked him to. It slowly maps out the house and vacuums as it goes…retreating to the base station to dump the bin and recharge when necessary. The first job took about 6 hours by the time it recharged twice and dumped 4 or 5 times. We need to send it out on another mapping only run to let it finalize it’s knowledge of the house layout…you have to run around in front of it and move things out of the way so it gets an accurate location on fixed furniture, walls, island, and such. Once that’s done…we think we will be able to program jobs for a single area like the kitchen and then only a few things need picking up/moving while it does it’s thing. It isn’t very loud except during the brief periods when it’s dumping it’s bin back at the base station. 

It’s Date Night© tonight…and our plan is for some ribs from Smokin’ Pit…assuming Connie continues to improve and we don’t end up cancelling. She had a headache and felt bad this morning but at least as of 1355 as I write this is feeling better but we’ll make sure before I run out in case we need to go to plan C or D or whatever.

As part of selling Big Red…we got a notice from the state that they could not remove it as a ‘vehicle we own’ until it was re-registered in FL with a new title or since that won’t happen ever until we filled out a form and sent it in saying we don’t have it any more. While trying to figure out how to get that form filled out…Neil discovered that Connie’s aqua green 1992 Ford Probe that was totaled back in 2001 or so before the human kid graduated high school…he ran into the back of a semi in stop and go traffic on the freeway…anyway it had never been removed form our account either…despite the fact that it had been long re-registered in VA back then. So we ended up doing the form for Big Red, the Probe, and the rig all at the same time although from what the page said the rig should have been already removed as it was re-registered in Florida.

Assuming it’s a nice morning tomorrow…it’s supposed to be…and that Connie is feeling better we are planning a road trip up to the Venice Rookery about 50 miles away to photograph the nesting and mating plumage waterfowl. If that works out OK…we’re going to plan one up to Orlando and Merritt Island over near Cape Canaveral…there are wildlife drives at both places and this is mating season so they’re all dressed in their finest Sunday go-to-meetin’ clothes. Sunrise is at about 0700 so we’ll get out of the house a bit before 6 and after getting coffee, donut, and gas head off…and after our photo session Connie will find us a brunch place to have a late breakfast/early lunch.

So…here’s some initial shots Neil took with the new lens and if you go back and look again at some of his older posts with the other bird lens it’s pretty easy to notice the difference.

We have several Great Blue Herons…AKA GBH…that frequent our pond out back…this is what we call the skittish one as she…at least we think it’s a female as they’re smaller…she typically flies off before you can get her picture but he was able to sneak out behind the tree and get a couple of shots as she was on our side of the pond.

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Snowy Egret with breeding plumage starting to develop. This one is across the other side of the pond and even at 500mm focal length it’s a crop to about 1/3 or so of the frame…the old bird lens would not have shown the finely textured breeding plumage as distinctly.

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A flower on our side of the pond about 30 feet away…again the old bird lens would not have gotten the detail in the spiderweb nearly as clear.

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This is a different individual in the GBH…he’s starting to get his mating plumage as you can see the separate gray wispy feathers on his breast just below center frame and looking past the plants.

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He kinda of ruffled his feathers after stabbing at lunch…very nice detail in the underneath non flight feathers on his neck and back.

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Next he stretched his neck upwards to full extension and again very nice details…although Neil should have switched to pinpoint instead of single point focus to get it on his eye…the focusing point was over his head across the pond and unfortunately the autofocus usually grabs the closes thing under the selected focusing point.

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Lastly for the same GBH…4 shots taken at 7 frames per second…he got about 15 or so as it flew off and when he could keep the autofocus point on the bird it grabbed excellent detail.

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This is a pretty bad shot of the bird as Neil let the AF point slide off of the body and it grabbed the pines behind him…but there’s much better detail in the pine needles than the old one would have given.

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This shot is the very next one in sequence after the one above so maybe a third of a second later…he got the AF point back on the bird and the new lens focuses much more quickly back to the bird.

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Then there’s this fish…they stick their heads up out of the water and just sit there. They’re about a foot and a half long and do occasionally eat bugs off the surface from underneath…but then they also do this stick the top of their head out of the water thing and we have no idea why that is. We saw on our Next Door community web site a woman who claimed that they were gasping for breath at the surface since the ponds weren’t oxygenated enough and that the community association needed to put bubblers in the pond to save them from suffocating. The trouble with that is that fish don’t have lungs so they’re not physically capable of gasping for breath…and their gills don’t work that way either. This is a shot from behind the fish and if they were trying to breathe at the surface with their gills there would be some movement…but there isn’t…they just sit there without moving for many minutes.

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Neil also took a shot with Connie’s mirrorless Z50 camera body and the new bird lens…the Z’s use a different lens mount but he bought the adapter. Again…not a great shot and normally I would not have posted it as the autofocus missed the eye…again he should have changed AF mode…but the breeding plumage agains comes into very clear focus as the camera grabbed focus on the bird. This one is also across the pond so is probably 35 or 40 yards out and is a pretty severe crop…the old bird lens would not have shown the separate strands in the mating plumage but more of a gauzy veil sort of look. He likes the new one…a lot…

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I dunno whether Dr. Fauci is smoking something he shouldn’t be or whether he’s just trying to please his new boss…or whether he was instructed to walk back his claims by the White House. Anyway…he was on all 3 morning news shows last week and made 3 completely contradictory statements. First…he said that
anybody and everybody
will be able to get a vaccine by April 1…then by 2 mornings later on the third show it was by July. Given the issues with vaccine supply and getting a reservation for one…and that it’s only 6 weeks until April 1…that’s just not gonna happen. The President has announced that we’ve ordered 300 million people’s worth of dual shot vaccine for delivery by the end of July…but (a) there’s a difference between delivery and getting it into arms and (b) it’s not clear that production capacity can be ramped up that fast. And naturally they’re giving no credit at all to the previous administration who actually spent the money and got the vaccines developed in record time…in fact almost every time they talk about the previous administration and the pandemic response it’s a variation of “it was worse than we thought even yesterday”. Yes…the previous administration did a lot of things both wrong and that the Democrats didn’t like…but they did a lot of things right as well.

One of the things that President has said is that he will “fire on the spot anybody in the administration that disrespects anyone”. Apparently the guy that was the Deputy Press Secretary “threatened and harassed a reporter” over somebody he dated. I read what the guy actually said and while it was getting toward the borderline of inappropriate “threatened and harassed” seems a bit much. However…after knowing about this supposed behavior for months…he was finally suspended without pay for a week last week…and while I personally think that this is an appropriate level of discipline considering his actions…it certainly doesn’t square with “fire them on the spot”. He’s subsequently resigned after the White House was pilloried for their inadequate action given the President’s statement…but that doesn’t excuse the fact that they knew about it for several months and then just suspended him a week after the President’s statement.

So…apparently out in San Francisco in the PRC…awhile back the School Board directed back in May 2018 that a study be made of school names so that schools named after historical figures linked to “the subjugation and enslavement of human beings; or who oppressed women, inhibiting societal progress; or whose actions led to genocide; or who otherwise significantly diminished the opportunities of those amongst us to the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” This direction was ignored for a long time but the employees finally got around to doing it, prepared a report that suggested renaming some 44 schools, and it was approved by the School Board in late January. The study…instead of being performed in the matter in which it was directed to be informed…consisted entirely of a wikipedia and google search and in at least one case the ‘researcher’ completely misunderstood what he had read. In any event…the
44 schools to be renamed
…and the list was approved 6-1 by the school board…anyway the list includes schools named after noted racists named George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Diane Feinstein, Roosevelt (don’t know whether it was Teddy or Franklin), Thomas Jefferson, and the Alamo. Lincoln in particular was on the list due to his “mistreatment of First Nation people”…because at least according to the researcher…he signed the execution orders of 28 or 29 Indians who were involved in an uprising and killed a bunch of white people. What the researcher didn’t find…or more likely ignored everything past the first 3 google results…was that the original list of Indians to be hanged sent to Lincoln was 230something names long and he determined that to be unconscionable…and spent hours/days reading the evidence of what each had actually done and only executed the ringleaders or actual murderers. No good deed goes unpunished. Senator Feinstein’s crime…she as the mayor of San Francisco back some time ago ordered the replacement of a Confederate battle flag on a historical display after the original was torn down. 

Only in the PRC would Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln be deemed racist…and I have no idea what the Alamo did wrong other than stand up for freedom.

Interesting things found on the net.

Apparently…Saturn would float. Turns out that it’s density is only 0687 grams per cubic centimeter which is less than that of water which is 1.0. so…assuming you could get Saturn to earth and had an ocean big enough…it would float if you dropped it in.

SaturnDensity

I never realized that an accordion was a “high demand item” that required a limit on purchases in the store…but apparently they are.

HighDemanditem

This guy has set a standard that can never be met.

WorstPhotographerEver

HeatedSeats

We’ve all read on the news about RINO or “Republican in name only”…but apparently there are DINOs too…I especially liked the last speech bubble myself.

DINO

ListenToYourDoctor

Things that might be of interest only to me.

Did you ever wonder how much coronavirus there is in the world? Well…
this guy
was asked to calculate it for an interview/show on the BBC. He has some experience with these cocktail napkin sort of calculation estimates as he wrote a book named “The Maths of Life and Death” so he went through a process of figuring out how many positive cases are diagnosed per day and statistical analysis to get the estimated total infected people when the peak virus load happens (about 6 days past infection) and then figured out the total viral load for those folks. He then took into account the high end estimate for total virus load in an infected person at around 100 billion, the size of the virus, and the numbers and came up with an answer.

How big do you think it is. Think about it and come up with a guess…I’ll tell ya the answer in a minute.

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OK…time’s up…what did you come up with. He came up with a total virus population at any one time on the planet of about 2 quintillion or 2 billion billion virus particles…but ya gotta remember they’re pretty small, on the order of 100 nanometers or 1000 times smaller than a human hair. He then took into account the spherical nature of the virus…the fact that spheres don’t pack evenly in a container (about a 26% space inefficiency), and the average height of the virus spikes on the virus.

Before he did the calculation…his wife estimated either a teaspoon full or a swimming pool full as…her words…it’s always one of those for questions like this.

His actual calculations came up with 160 milliliters or about six shot glasses. In other words…less than would fill a Coke can.

Posted in Homebody, Photography, WIldlife, Ya Can't Fix Stupid | Leave a comment

Random Musings

Connie’s out at her Ladies of Elks meeting and Neil is wandering around the house doing some honey do list stuff…so I grabbed the keyboard to just wonder about some random stuff from the news.

The Democrats seem to be hell bent on ramming through the President’s $1.9 trillion corona relief bill…even though it’s still packed with pork…and even through all the previously authorized funding hasn’t been spent yet…and they don’t seem interested at all in anything remotely resembling compromise. For instance…those folk who are well off just don’t need a stimulus check. Connie and Neil certainly don’t need it and since this whole thing is just blowing up the deficit…with the relief already passed and this additional $1.9 trillion the government has already spent more additional funds than an entire year of the federal budget. That doesn’t mean that spending during a pandemic is a bad thing…but one would think that smart spending would be in order. Yes…give folks who are low on the income scale some assistance…but in the interest of not bankrupting the country well off people maybe should be not on the handout list. Unfortunately…progressives seem to just want to buy votes by shoveling cash out the door and they don’t seem to mind that eventually the bills come due and just printing more money sends us down the path of Venezuela and Zimbabwe…deficit spending eventually causes massive inflation and the resulting loss of purchasing power by everybody in the country. Add in the absolute refusal of the left to even discuss compromise and it seems they’re just ignoring the fact that they don’t have a mandate from the election last year…they have only the slimmest of majorities in both houses of Congress…I predict that their reckless spending will cost them seats in 2022.

Impeachment trial number 2 starts today…and to me it seems obviously doomed to failure…the former President will not be convicted and thus cannot be prohibited from running for further office as conviction and removal has to happen first. So the Ds in Congress are not pushing a resolution…along with some Republicans…to pass a resolution declaring that he is guilty of insurrection under the 14th amendment that says “who engaged in insurrection”. Unfortunately…there’s no constitutional provision that allows Congress to simply declare that someone engage in insurrection so assuming this even got enough votes to pass would be challenged in court. Frankly…the former President should not be allowed to run again in our opinion…but skirting the rules and ignoring the Constitution to accomplish that goal…just like ignoring them to ban guns, allow gay people to marry, or allow people to declare they’re of a different gender now…is just plain wrong. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what the outcome of that is.

Out in the PRC…you may have seen how the governor (who’s about to get have to go through a recall election) banned churches from having services since they are hotbed super spreaders of COVID. Unfortunately for him…he also allows bars to remain open as well as other public gatherings as long as masks, capacity limits, and social distancing are in accordance with the rules. Naturally…several churches in the republic filed religious discriminations against this and last week SCOTUS ruled in favor of the churches…saying that whatever rules you have for bars and other public gatherings must also apply to churches…in other words the rules are the same for everybody. Again naturally…Justice Sotomayor in her dissent accuses the majority of “ignoring the science”…essentially stating that the science that allows bars to remain open is different from the science that shuts churches. Wrongo…

All during the last election cycle…we kept hearing how the Trump tax cuts were “a boon to the rich” and how the rich weren’t paying their fair share and how we should raise their taxes…in fact even our new President is in favor of doing so. Unfortunately…their rhetoric outruns the facts as to who pays taxes and what share of taxes the rich pay.

Here are a few facts from the IRS…ya know…the people who actually collect taxes and manage the system.

Under the first year of the previous administration tax cuts (2018)…the top 1% of filers which is people with incomes of $540,009 or more paid 40.1% of all income taxes…this is about double their share of the total income. This 40.1% is the highest percentage for the top 1% dating back to at least 1980. The top 10% (incomes over $151,935) paid 71% of all income taxes…again the highest since 1980.

In the same year (2018), the bottom 50% (incomes less than $43,614) paid 2.9% of all income taxes…a reduction over the previous year’s 3.1%. 

So…despite the claims of Schumer, Pelosi, Biden, et.al.…the previous administration tax reform actually made the system more progressive…i.e., the rich paid more under the new system than the old system. Seems to me that all of those et.al. Ds mentioned in the last sentence are just liars who ignore any actual facts.

Progressives also want to increase the number of SCOTUS justices and impose term limits on them…and again they’re spouting ‘facts’ that just aren’t true to support their demands. Specifically…they’re stated as fact that the current SCOTUS members are “out of control” and “ignoring the Constitution” when if one fairly reads the decisions they are following the actual words in that document. Yes…there’s a difference between conservative/liberal and loose/strict constructionist points of view…but they’ve yet to point out a single instance where those inherently evil conservative justices have done anything wrong. They have done things the progressives don’t like…but tough. The Constitution says what it says…not what you want it to say. Even the great sainted RBG says that expanding the court would be wrong and serve simply to turn it into a partisan political tool. As to term limits…that’s clearly unconstitutional despite the dodge that they’re not being limited, just transferred to non voting ‘senior justices’ so that they can be replaced by someone more to their liking. Me…I think they should leave it alone and stop trying to politicize the court. After all…FDR tried that back in the 1930s and was soundly rejected.

The real problem is that none of the progressives bother to think about the long term effect of their demands…for that matter the far right doesn’t do so either. Both groups are interested in immediate gratification and getting their demands met…ignoring any effect on long term economic stability as well as the fact that majorities are fleeting and the next time the other guys are in charge it will just be another tit for tat thing. We witnessed that recently…back during the Obama administration the Ds got rid of the filibuster for lower court judges over the Rs objections and confirmed nominees to various courts. They were warned that it would come back to bite them in the ass by the other side…and sure enough when the other side had the majority they eliminated the filibuster for SCOTUS justices and the result was that a Republican administration appointed 3 justices over the Obama administration’s 2. Now the other side is back in charge…so naturally they want to eliminate the filibuster entirely. Fortunately…there are a few smart centrist people in their party who realize this is a stupid idea…despite progressives claims that the minority is simply obstructionist. Funny how their tune changed from when the Ds were in the minority…at that time they were simply a principled opposition who wisely used the filibuster to oppose unconscionable legislation.  Funny how one side’s principled opposition becomes obstructionist when they’re no longer in the minority.

Our legal system is out of whack. Just this week…a guy who sexually assaulted a woman during a bank robbery got 30 years…while a guy who killed his wife got just 16…and the grandfather who let his 3 year old grand daughter fall out the window on a cruise ship to her death got 3 years probation. The family of the latter is still suing the cruise line claiming the line is at fault because the window is open. Video and still photos of the scene clearly show that the grandfather knew the window was open (he leaned out of it before picking her up) and he had to pick her up 3+ feet from the deck and extend her outwards almost 2 feet before he lost his grip on her. How this can be anybody’s fault except 100% the grandfather’s is beyond me…but their lawsuit claims the photos and video are “misleading”.

Another one from the PRC…further evidence that the people who run San Francisco are just wacko.

They posted a job offering on the city web site for a director of the Code Enforcement Department…and in the education requirements it says “high school diploma or GED” but that 2 years of experience would suffice if the applicant didn’t have that much education. No professional licensing required, no advertising on job boards where said licensed professionals might see it, and paying $12K a year more than a similar offering last week. The second one was for an equivalent job in Fort Worth TX…with college degree required, masters degree desired, and professional licensing required. Obviously SF management wanted to give the job to an insider and wrote requirements their chosen one would meet…but then as noted in the
article I found
on this…the department is a hotbed of nepotism.

Why is it that on one hand Ds are demanding that Representative Greene be expelled from Congress but they’re quite OK with AOC
refusing to apologize
for accusing Senator Cruz of “trying to murder me”…even worse she denies that she used the word murder but her tweet is in the linked article…so again…don’t confuse her with the facts, her mind is made up.

Up in our former state in VA…the teachers union in Fairfax County is refusing to go back to work as directed by the Board of Education and will continue to teach from home…the students will be back in class and the district has had to hire ‘classroom monitors’ to control the classroom while the teachers stay home. There are few to no instances of transmission of corona via in person schooling as long as appropriate precautions are in place…but the teachers unions have too much power and simply refuse to follow the directive of the district. They should be told to report to work or be fired…simple as that. Remote learning is a joke and is just penalizing the kids who will have lost almost 2 years of eduction by the time school is over for the summer…and it’s a shame that teachers who would rather sit at home than do their jobs are causing this. Those kids…particularly the disadvantaged ones…will never catch up.

Interesting things found on the net.

The narrowest street in the world is named Spreuerhofstraße and it is located in Reutlingen Germany. It was built in 1727 during reconstruction efforts after a citywide fire in 1726 and ranges from 12.2 inches to 19.7 inches in width. 

Engste Straße der Welt

The narrowest street in the UK is Parliament Street in Exeter…dating from 1651 and ranging from 25 to 45 inches in width.

Parliamentstreet

The US’s narrowest street…Treasury Street in St. Augustine, FL…measuring just a bit under 7 feet and it was built back in the Spanish ownership days. It leads from Bay Street on the waterfront to the Royal Spanish Treasury building and was designed to be wide enough for 2 men to carry a chest of gold but not wide enough to allow a carriage to get in and make off with the gold.

IMG 3722

This one takes a little thought.

ThisTakesSomeThought

Here’s a combined track of all tropical storms worldwide that have been tracked. Note that they don’t go across the equator, this is because of the Coriolis Effect. Also note that almost all of the category 5 ones occurred in the Pacific and not the Atlantic…this is likely because of the longer fetch of warm water they can cross before getting to land which gives them longer to grow in intensity.

AllTropicalStormsEver

So Tom Brady won the Super Bowl…again…we thought all along that he would likely pull off the upset as it’s not nice to pull on Superman’s cape ya know. While some other QBs have greater individual skills than he does…his belief that he is destined to win and his ability to get his teammates to also believe it is what makes him great. He now has more SB championships than any single NFL franchise…and at least according to the sports media is the greatest of all time…don’t know if that is true or not as the game today is different than it was even 20 years ago and that was different from 20 years before that and 20 years before that and 20 years before that. While I don’t really get a vote…for team sports I think that the greatest player is not the guy with the best individual statistics…it’s the guy that makes his team better. Looking through the last 30 years or so…there’s a lot of debate whether MJ is better than Lebron and whether Brady is better than Manning or Rodgers or Montana…same goes with baseball although I don’t give a rat about that sport so no names there. In my book…for football it’s hard to vote against Brady and in basketball it’s hard to vote against Magic. Both of them took their teams to levels that would not have happened without their presence…Magic, like Montana before him and Brady now…simply makes the people around him better just by being there and that’s the definition of great.

I have to say we didn’t watch the game…the NFL has no interest for anybody in our house. The only thing worth watching is the commercials and by most evaluations I’ve seen on the web they continued their downhill slide this year.

RollerCoasterBolt

MenWhoNeedSupervision00006

 

InsideJokes

Cyas.

Posted in Homebody, Reality Based Blogging, Ya Can't Fix Stupid | Leave a comment

Camera Upgrades and Associated Dilemma

I’m partly writing this because I’m bored…and partly so that Neil will remember what happened in what order 2 years from now when he needs to know for whatever reason he has then…and partly so that you can see that when you’re quarantined by the corona with nothing else to do how easy it is to send yourself right down the old rathole.

So…ever since we went on the road with the RV in 2012…we’ve had what are called crop sensor or APS-C size sensor cameras…they’ve always been digital single lens reflex (DSLR) type which means that there’s a mirror assembly that reflects the light from the lens up to the viewfinder…and when you press the shutter button the mirror flops up and out of the way and the shutter behind it and over the sensor opens for whatever the amount of time the shutter speed specifies to put light onto the shutter and eventually onto the memory card. The DSLR came about when the original SLR which has been around since the 1960s…essentially the film canister was replaced by a light sensitive digital sensor, a memory card, and some associated electronics. The original SLRs used 35mm film since that was what was used the rangefinder still cameras that preceded SLR development, and the rangefinder cameras used 35mm film since that’s what movie cameras used. However…when DSLRs came around they were pretty expensive and one of the major reasons for that was the cost of the sensor…so the APS-C or crop sensor was invented…with a smaller and cheaper sensor which also enabled a smaller, lighter, and cheaper body and the lenses to go along with it. Back in the early days…there were also full frame DSLRs which used the same 24x36mm frame size of the traditional film SLR as opposed to the 16x24mm size of the crop sensor cameras. Early digital cameras started out at something less than 10 megapixels in total resolution.

So time rolls on and sensor tech gets better so cameras get more megapixels up to a point…which for crop sensor bodies is around 20-24 megapixels…where you can’t pack the pixels any closer together while for full frame sensors you can not get up to 60 megapixels…which means that you could build a crop sensor of around 30 megapixels if you were a camera company and chose to do so.

There are some advantages to the full frame sensors…particularly if you stay down in the mid 30 megapixel range instead of going the densely packed 60 range…better low light sensitivity and low noise being the main two…with the result that for very large prints you’ll end up with a better output if you have a full frame sensor…since it simply gathers more data in the initial taking the image phase. However…the vast majority of images are viewed on a screen of some sort these days…which seriously narrows the image quality difference between the two sizes.

The next big leap in camera technology came about when mirrorless cameras were introduced some years back…they’re so named because they don’t have the mirror that an SLR or DSLR uses and they don’t have an optical viewfinder. Instead…they have an electronic viewfinder that shows you the image as it is currently seen by the sensor itself. Removal of the mirror and it’s associated mirror box and mechanical hardware to move it means you can make a simpler mechanical camera body that’s smaller than it used to be. In addition…the electronic viewfinder has some advantages over the optical one, particularly in low light or for showing you the exact exposure you’ll get in tricky lighting situations…things that the optical viewfinder can’t do. There are some drawbacks to the mirrorless…particularly in the very fast action area.

So as I said we’ve been using a series of DLSR bodies…all from Nikon…along with an assortment of Nikon and third party (i.e., cheaper) lenses because for most of our purposes the lower priced lenses that are at least theoretically not as high quality optically were just fine. Connie’s body was about 6 years old and Neil’s almost 4 so we got to talking about possibly getting an upgrade. Connie has also had a longstanding issue with the short focal length lens she used…she’s not really big into carrying a bunch of heavy lenses with her and thus had a single wide angle to normal range lens…meaning no ability for telephoto shots of elk cross the way or birds in flight. That was her choice when she started carrying her own camera because she didn’t want the weight.

Neil decided to upgrade her for Christmas…and got her a Nikon Z50 which is a crop sensor mirrorless body…along with the 2 lens kit. This gives her lens range from wide angle through telephoto with 2 lenses and a body that weigh almost a pound less than her previous body and single lens…so she thought it was a win/win thing…she gets more lens reach and lighter weight.

He considered getting a second Z50 for himself but since he does a lot of wildlife and birds in flight shots he wanted a more fully featured body. At the current time there’s only the single mirrorless Nikon crop sensor body…the alternative is to upgrade to a full frame mirrorless body that weighs the same as his current crop sensor body but with more features and more megapixels. The trouble with that is that mirrorless bodies have a different lens mount and while old lenses can be adapted there are some performance penalties and the new mount lenses have better optical quality because of the wider opening in the lens mount.

Since new lenses might be part of the issue…he decided it was smart to possibly consider other brands…so he took a look at Canon and Sony…and came to the conclusion that (a) nobody wants to front him the $20K it would take to get a complete system, (b) he’s used to the way Nikon menus and ergonomics work, and (c) while theoretically some of the higher end Sony and Canon bodies produce better results it all comes back to what he uses his images for and where they’re displayed. On a screen…most of the advantages of the high priced new systems…for Nikon as well as the other two…just aren’t there in sufficient amount to make it worth spending that much.

He read a whole bunch of various smart camera industry folk…and almost all of them say that if you want to improve your photography…improve your techniques and skills first, then buy better lenses, then buy better bodies but only if your current body doesn’t do something you need/want it to do.

He has to admit there’s a lot of good ideas in that last paragraph. His skills are what they are and while they’re pretty good he’s always trying to improve. So the next up would be better lenses…but wait, there’s more.

There’s good evidence that 3 more new Nikon mirrorless bodies will be released this year or early next year…and at least one is supposed to be a more fully featured crop sensor body…which as noted before is plenty adequate for what we do with our shots.

Add in all of that…along with the “we’re not traveling much this year anyway”…and he’s changed his mind more than a woman over the past couple of months…and yes I know that’s somewhat of a stereotype but there’s a reason that stereotypes exist.

His original plan was to buy a full frame high end Nikon body with a single all in one zoom lens so that it would work for travel and use his existing bird lens on either that body or his crop sensor DSLR body for distant shots and potentially get a better bird lens later…but given all of the above and the buy better lenses before better bodies argument he went ahead and ordered himself a new bird lens.

His old bird lens is a Tamron zoom with a focal length of 150-600mm…and it’s almost always used at the long end. Since it’s a zoom lens it inherently has lower optical image quality than a fixed length lens. The new one is a Nikon brand 500mm lens with a teleconverter to go along with it that extends the length to 720mm…but at higher quality output in a smaller (3 inches shorter) and lighter (over a pound lighter at 2.something instead of almost 4 pounds)…which means that handholding and maneuvering in the woods is much easier. He’s going to wait on the full frame body and see if the new lens on the old crop sensor body provides adequate capabilities or if those provided by the more expensive full frame body are worth it…and to see if the rumored full featured crop sensor body comes about. If it does…that will be the sweet spot for him because of the size and weight compared to his current setup…and if he ends up with the full frame body he’ll probably get another Z50 like Connie’s for traveling as the size and weight reduction are very nice to have on trips when photography isn’t the primary interest. 

I’ll get him to post some comparison shots of the new lens when it gets here next week…and maybe I’ll be able to get him to do some side by side comparisons for ya.

Posted in Photography, Technology | Leave a comment