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.

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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.

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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…

Z50 0155

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

The More Things Change…

…the more they stay the same.

Yeah.

That’s it in a nutshell.

My original title was going to be “Unity…Not!”…but I decided that was more appropriate.

However…before I get into all of that let’s catch you up on the latest happenin’s round these parts.

First up…it’s cold. Well…not cold as in Alaska cold or even as in Tennessee or North Carolina cold…but it’s definitely cold for Florida, especially the far southern reaches of the states. We had a cold front come through the other day and have had overnight lows in the low 40s ever since although it’s supposed to warm up a bit and have lows in the 60s starting tomorrow. Highs have been mostly in the 60s two low 70s but we’ll be up in the low 80s by Monday and remain that way for awhile. That’s a much more reasonable temperature for us. We aren’t necessarily against cold weather…just against shoveling snow and we only want cold weather by choice and not by the fickleness of the weather gods.

Good news…we won the Vaccine Lottery Bingo this morning…the local Publix supermarkets have it and every 3 days or so they open up some appointments starting at 0600. We been getting up early those days and getting in line but to no avail…until this morning when Neil’s iPad hit the magic number or something…we had 2 laptops and 2 iPads working on trying to get in…so we got ourselves scheduled for the first jab next Wednesday Feb 10 and the second jab a month later on Mar 10. It’s one of those take what you can get things…and even after we got into the “actually make the reservation” queue from the “waiting on an open spot on the server” queue you would select a store, date, and time and by the time you did that it told you the time had been taken by somebody else and to try again. Took 3 or 4 tries before he got an actual confirmation then since he was in he went ahead and made one for Connie as well. It’s at a different Publix…naturally…and a different time…naturally…but as I said it’s a lottery so one takes what you can get.

As everybody knows…we sold Big Red back in mid January and started looking for a second car. We occasionally have to be different places at the same time and also wanted the ability to self rescue if one of us was out and had troubles so that they needed a ride home. Since it was going to be Neil’s car…he got to pretty much get what he wanted although he was smart enough to make sure that it wasn’t something Connie hated. We looked at the Mazda MX-5 Miata RF which is the 2 seat sports car in hardtop vs convertible but it got eliminated pretty quickly for a couple of reasons. First…it was uncomfortable to drive for more than an hour or so according to all of the reviews which we couldn’t verify since we didn’t actually test drive one due to the other two reasons. These were the lack of space…you could probably fit a couple six packs of beer in the trunk before it was full…and the extreme low slung nature of it. In the seats your but was about 12 inches off the ground maximum and while it was possible to get in and out…the likelihood of Connie getting out if she had on a skirt and heels was essentially zero…Neil would have had to crane her out every time…so we crossed that off the list. We looked at a couple of other Mazda models as well as a couple of Kia models…and as it turned out the first choice for both of them was the Mazda 3 Sedan. So…let me present to you the newest member of the household…Sporty Red.

IMG 3765

IMG 3766

Sporty Red is pretty low compared to Li’l Red…your head is about at the level of the taillights on Li’l Red…but it’s high enough so as not to be uncomfortable. Since we wanted something sporty…we got the high end Turbo 2.5 Premium Plus model…bigger engine, turbo, leather seats, all wheel drive, sun roof, auto everything, cameras out the wazoo…and naturally we got the red one…Soul Red Crystal Metallic to be exact. We picked the black leather rather than the white/tan one and since we already had the tag from Big Red we just used it for the new registration.

Neil ordered a new camera lens…a lighter better quality version of the Bird Lens…but I’ll relate all of that and his dilemma about what to do and when regarding upgrading our photo equipment in another post so this one doesn’t drag on and on.

Other than that…SSDD as we used to say. Nothing else going on. We’re still staying home mostly but do venture out to the Elks Lodge every couple weeks for tacos and Show Me The Money as well as bingo on the 1st and 3rd Sunday afternoons.

We did a little rearranging in our living area…we had put the blue double wide recliner from the rig back against the wall near the lanai door and a rattan love seat over in the TV seating area since the blue matched some art we were putting over there. On further review as the replay official says…we decided to move the double wide recliner to the TV area as it’s much more comfortable for visiting. We also got a floor mount portable fireplace for both ambiance and a little heat boost without turning on the main furnace and have been glad to have it this week. So the only thing we’re missing is the bed for our spare bedroom…got the mattress and box spring back in December but when we ordered the bed back then the delivery date was Feb 22…which will be just in time (actually 3 weeks early) for our friends Bill and Linda to have a place to sleep when the visit next month. We’ll all be immunized by then and they were coming down anyway to visit grave sites and Linda’s college roommate but it will be great to see them again for a couple of days.

Neil did get a few pictures for me to show you…

Ragnar showed back up for the first time in quite awhile…we have a total of (we think) 3 gators that apparently move back and forth between the ponds in the development. Ragnar is the biggest and he’s about 10 or 12 feet long Neil figured out. It’s not visible in this photo but on the berm above him there’s a sign on a 4×4 post that it’s a nature preserve area and people are to keep out. If he had a laser range finder to know the exact distance of the photo then figuring out the length is simple as he knows the angular view of the 500mm lens and a little trigonometry would tell you the answer…but he doesn’t have one of those.  What he does have is the knowledge of the size of a 4×4 post and since it is about the same rage as the gator he just counted how many post widths long the gator is and a little simpler math gives the answer. 

The other two are smaller…one about 7 feet named Lagatha and a really short one in the 4 or 5 feet range named Loki. They stay either in the water or over on the berm on the other side of the pond although occasionally they get within 10 feet or so of the bank on our side but we’ve never seen them out of the water on our side. The area around the pond is a nature reserve…one of those Florida land use rules…and people aren’t allowed over on the far side of the pond. Past the berm is 15 or 20 feet of woods then the sidewalk and Magnolia Landing Drive which is the main drag through the development.

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And we had a new visitor to our pond…there are plenty of them in the development but this is the first one seen at our pond. These are wood storks…a beautiful bird when flying but with a face only a mother could love. They’re about 4 feet tall…somewhat larger than the Great Blue Herons we see a lot of and eat mostly stuff they dig up out of the mud.

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The Red Cockaded Woodpecker came back and sat on the same tree having brunch yesterday…and Neil was able to get some shots of it without the leaves in the way like last time. Unfortunately…you still can’t see the red cockade that gives it the name and he still had to take them through the lanai screen as trying to sneak out the front and around would have most likely scared it away. He’ll give it a try next time anyway but didn’t want to lose the opportunity to get a clearer shot of it.

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OK…let’s talk about that the more things change thing.

The President talked at his inauguration about wanting to have unity and bipartisanship in order to try and make both sides happy. Unfortunately…his rhetoric and his actions…as well as the actions of his fellow party members in the Congress…don’t match in the slightest.

I realize that he won the election and the Democrats now have the majority in the Senate since the VP can break the 50-50 tie… but they’re forgetting that 74 million people voted for the other guy, they lost seats in the House, and the only reason they won the Senate majority is because the former President poisoned the well and told his voters to stay home.

I also realize that a lot of things the former President were not the right things to be doing…and he does bear some responsibility for the riot at the capitol. However…let’s also realize that the vast majority of his supporters did not storm the building and do not believe that the election was stolen…they recognize that he lost but this is a different thing than stolen. Just like the BLM protestors…most of his supporters are non violent but the bad actors on both sides give the entire side a bad name.

Unfortunately…the elites on the left refuse to recognize these things…and seem intent on cancelling everyone and everybody that doesn’t agree with them.

A few observations.

The President wants another $1.9 trillion corona relief bill. While I agree that some relief is probably necessary…there is way too much give away and things not related to the coronavirus in the bill as proposed. Specifically…increasing the minimum wage is not related but it was in there until it failed yesterday. There’s also something on the order of $400 billion in state bailouts. While there is some justification for helping the states with lost revenue due to the coronavirus…the total of this to date is estimated to be $20 billion. Being generous…let’s up this estimate to $50 billion to take care of local government revenue shortfalls due to the coronavirus and any potential bias in the number depending on who came up with it. If the President’s bill included this $50 billion…it would get some bipartisan support…enough to pass with a bipartisan label attached. Instead…the vast majority of this state bailout is aimed at blue states with large budget issues due to pension shortfalls and too many freeloader or otherwise not paid for programs. In other words…the failure of blue states to rein in their give aways to union demands and the establishment of vast social programs in their states is now being transferred to the rest of the states who were more frugal in the management of their budget. I’m happy if NY, OH, MI, and IL want to spend like drunken sailors…but do it on your dime, not mine. Federal tax dollars from citizens in states that didn’t spend themselves into bankruptcy should not be used to bail out those that did. Progressives forget that the primary reasons for national government to exist are national defense and border control.

Then there’s this whole kick Representatives off of committees thing…specifically Rep Greene of GA. You see…she won her election and while she is a supporter of the former President there is this whole free speech right in the US but she’s essentially been blackballed from doing the job her constituents elected her to do…and the gall is that the things the Democrats specifically banned her for happened years ago before she was a Congressman. Yes…she frequently speaks her mind and the progressives don’t like it…but fair is fair. Why haven’t the members of the squad been banned for things they say and do? Seems like a double standard to me…and nothing to do with that whole unity thing the President talked about. Yeah…I think Ms. Greene is an idiot…and I’m not sure whether she’s just dumb enough to believe the propaganda or has never actually looked at any of the evidence to see if there is any that indicates a stolen election…but she’s the state of Georgia’s idiot…and depriving her constituents of their duly elected congressional representation based on something she favorited on social media years ago is simply an attempt to cancel folks that the left doesn’t agree with. I don’t agree with anything AOC, Ilhan, and the rest of the squad say or do either…but you don’t see me fomenting for their banning. I keep asking myself why in the hell the Democratic Party (or the Republican Party for that matter) lets freshman congresspeople dictate to them…demanding committee assignments that are normally given to more senior members, saying and doing stupid things on social media and in the press, and doing their level best to make it all about them instead of the job they were elected to do. After all…AOC won her most recent reelection with about 74,000 votes…how does that make her the spokesman for the entire party instead of a junior congressman who should concentrate on her job instead of her followers and how many sound bites she gets on TV. In fact…just recently she claimed to be a sexual assault survivor and while I didn’t spend an inordinate amount amount of time looking…googling evidence for AOC sexual assault claims didn’t reveal anything on the first 3 pages of results except her interview where she made that claim. No police report, no article from 4 years ago reporting on it…nothing. I have no idea whether it really happened or whether it’s just another me-me-me story…or if it did happen what’s her definition of sexual assault…these days everything from a wolf whistle on up is liable to be so labeled. 

The country is pretty widely divided right now…and it is essentially split down the middle but by the luck of the election draw the Democrats have all the levers of power. Instead of realizing that this will be fleeting…and the payback will be a bitch as Neil used to say in the Navy…it looks like they’re going use their bully pulpit to jam a whole bunch of far left socialist agenda crap down the throats of the rest of the country whether we like it or not.

Immigration…they’re essentially opening up the border as well as instituting a path to legality for the 11 million illegals already here…and spare me that crap about “undocumented”…they’re here illegally and putting lipstick on a pig doesn’t make it not a pig. Now I’m not advocating that the 11 million illegals be deported…in the first place the government has neither the facilities, infrastructure, or capable organizations to make this possible…it’s just not happening. So either we keep them illegal…or we figure out a way to offer them a path to being legal including paying back taxes and waiting for some time period. But we also need to fix the immigration system as a whole…after all we supposedly fixed this problem back in 1974 when President Reagan legalized 3 million illegals…but here we are 40 some odd years later and we’re having to do it again. I dunno…work visas, increasing immigration quotas, or something but I’m sure that if both sides were to…do their job and compromise then we could solve this and everybody would get part of what they want.

Just about every problem we have in this country could be solved if our elected government folks would agree that the other side has a point sometimes and try to compromise instead of continually bad mouthing and demonizing the other side. Both Democrats and Republicans out on the fringes are guilty of this…for every Taylor Green and Josh Hawley on the right there’s an AOC and Ilhan on the left…each making ridiculous demands that a majority of the country does not approve of and each thinking that defeating and cancelling the other side is the only acceptable solution. Gun control and rights, election security, immigration, abortion…every one of these could not necessarily be completely solved but could be improved. However…until both sides realize that their “I must win and you must lose” attitude means nothing will get done is the problem it just ain’t gonna happen. There are some Ds and Rs that are more middle left and right and both of those groups have a lot of ideas we agree with…solving the DACA issue, fixing immigration, and the like…but leadership is too scared of the wacko fringe to actually compromise with the other side since their own wacko fringe will then blame them for “caving in” to the other side and organize primary challengers to the leadership. Mr. Schumer is afraid that AOC will run against him in a couple of years…I think she will lose badly statewide as most of the state is not wacko left. Same with some of those on the Republican side…but as long as the wackos on both sides aren’t ignored and the media decides to make the news instead of reporting the news…we’ll never go back to the days when politicians could agree to compromises. Too bad…the assholes are ruining it for the rest of us.

Interesting things found on the net.

This one should need no explanation.

PastorPriestRabbiBar

We all saw the photo of Bernie Sanders at the inauguration and the accompanying meme it generated…this is the best one I saw on that topic.

BernieMeme

You may or may not be familiar with the Red Winged Blackbird…but I’m pretty sure you would recognize his call…the we weeh we weeeeeeeeeeeeh is readily familiar to probably the majority of us. However…this shot of a vortex caused by the call is (a) a pretty interesting image and (b) easily recalls the song to mind. I don’t know how this vortex was formed…probably at sunrise on a day when the air temperature was just barely above the dew point and the varying pressure in the sound wave caused some condensation…but it’s pretty neat.

RedWingBlackbirdVortex

COVID19Tax

How big is the air and water compared to the earth? This one is a follow on to one I did some time back. The air sphere is the size of all the air at sea level pressure. 

EarthAirWater

Things that might interest only me

Antipodes…an antipode is the point on earth that is exactly opposite where you are located. Somebody figured out that only 15% of the land on earth is antipodal to other land which means that 85% of it is antipodal to water. Here’s a graphic to illustrate that. My question is…why would anybody pay money for somebody to figure out another completely useless bit of information…it’s kinda like calculating the value of pi to more than a dozen or so decimal places…yes, it’s true but who cares.

720px Antipodes LAEA

And finally…the world’s shortest street.

In Wick Scotland there is a street named Ebeneezer Street which is 6 feet 9 inches long and has a single address on it…the Mackays Hotel which was built in 1883. The property it was built on by Alexander Sinclair was situated so that the entrance had to be on the narrow end of the building as two almost parallel streets came together…and the postal gods decreed that it needed an address on that side of the building and therefore there had to be a street for the address to be on. Here’s a shot from google street view. Yep…that’s Ebeneezer Street you can see there and it’s officially recognized as the shortest street in the world. The narrowest street in the world is also in the UK…maybe I’ll dig that one up for ya next time.

0 DNP CHP 130121Slug 5466 World s shortest streetJPG

Cyas.

Posted in Homebody, Photography, Reality Based Blogging, WIldlife | Leave a comment

Third Time’s The Charm I Reckon

Yep…I sat down to write this post 2 times before and got a couple paragraphs in and was so disgusted with the whole situation that I deleted it and quit.

Life at home first…still not doing much…went to the Elks a couple times for tacos and Show Me The Money as well as Bingo last Sunday. I’m not real popular with the management there right now…there’s a fella named Al who’s been the host/caller for Show Me The Money for a long time and apparently he decided he was retired from that. Neil volunteered to do it since he was told that Al was out with the COVID…and he had previously told Al that he would substitute if Al had a conflict. So he did it one week and management said that he had volunteered to do it full time and they thought he wanted it that way…Neil thinks that’s just a cover for the fact that they tried to pressure him into doing it every week. We like tacos and he doesn’t mind helping out…but neither Connie or he wants to eat tacos every Thursday night or have a permanent commitment for that night. He offered to do it every other week…which is about as often as we go to tacos anyway…but apparently they’re not interested in that. He’s deliberately not interested in running for office in the Lodge…he’s seen how many hours and how much volunteering officers are expected to do and frankly he’s got other interests that preclude him from wanting to be that involved…but management would like you to volunteer when and how they want you to do, not what you’re willing and able to do. He’s doing the bingo calling which is 2 Sunday afternoons a month…but that’s an after lunch and before dinner thing and it isn’t every Sunday so it’s a different commitment.

We’re still eating good…made some chicken curry last week and had baked halibut with jazzed up mashed taters last night.

Other than that…same-o…same-o.

Oh yeah…the post title.

I’m talking about the last couple of weeks of course…and tangentially about the last 4 years.

Four years ago…we were reluctant supporters of then candidate Trump…because we didn’t trust Mrs. Clinton who’s demonstrated an affinity for dodgy behavior and decisions and because she’s a smart enough politician to have easily used the position to enrich her family through their foundation which is a very nice way to collect money for influence but without violating any laws. We figured that he was the lesser of two bad choices…and once again Neil wished that his idea of “none of the above” being on the ballot and if it wins there’s a new election and none of the previous candidates can run in the new election…was the way these things work…but alas, it’s not so one chooses your poison so to speak. We figured that if he won he would act a little more presidential and quit tweeting stupid things.

Well…he won and didn’t stop…and because he had stacked his administration with a bunch of yes-people…even though some of them were clearly up to the jobs they held…nobody told him no and forced him to act like the President instead of a game show host and twitter rabble rouser. Still though…a lot of his policies were exactly what he ran on and while the left and media didn’t like those policies the people that voted for him and the people in the flyover states away from DC, NYC, and the left coast tended to agree with what he wanted to do. He also had some policies we didn’t like…the elimination of DACA for instance without making some provision for those unfortunate individuals who are in a legal limbo situation because of circumstances and decisions their parents made…we’ve always thought that getting the 11 million or whatever it is illegal immigrants out of the country was both politically and physically impossible…the government doesn’t have the infrastructure to deport all of them and even if they did they don’t have the competent and efficient mechanism to (a) find all of them, (b) make sure they had the right people, and (c) deport them since their mere presence in this country is illegal…what part of that do the liberals not understand. Add in the sanctuary cities and states and the absolute refusal to assist in enforcing valid federal law by those jurisdictions and…well you can see it just won’t work. Still though…there’s a way to solve this problem…but it would require compromise on both sides. The right would have to agree to some form of legal path to citizenship for both the DACA folk and the rest of the illegals…some combination of paying taxes, waiting a required period of time, perhaps paying a fine for breaking the law…whatever. The left would have to agree to actually enforce immigration law, secure the border, and put a stop to illegal immigration and letting the refugee convoys in and all that. As I said though…compromise would be required and there’s precious little of that on either side of the aisle any more.

There were other decisions he made that we didn’t really agree with…but there were also decisions we did agree with.

Chief among the disagree ones was the whole brouhaha and blather about the stolen election…yes, any losing candidate can and should contest the election…but you need evidence to convince the courts and over and over there was no evidence and the case was dismissed. Even states with Republican governments did not find any systemic voter suppression or voter fraud in anything like the numbers required to change the outcome…it just wasn’t there. Despite this…he continued his rants that quickly turned him into looking like a sore loser instead of the President.

Then came January 6…and while you could never convict the man of inciting a riot or insurrection…and it really was a riot and not a serious attempt to overthrow the government but insurrection sounds more ominous and anti-Republican to the left so that’s the term they keep on using…and you can’t convict him of accessory to murder as Pelosi wants either. The reasons he can’t be convicted are…just like OJ…and just like Mrs. Clinton (although she was never charged)…are twofold as I see it. First…finding an unbiased jury is guaranteed impossible…anybody that says different is either lying or in a very small minority. Neil thinks he’s unbiased enough to evaluate the facts…and to evaluate the requirements that the prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt and thus would be able to vote guilty or innocent fairly…but he’s the minority; almost everybody already has their mind made up. The second reason is that whole…guilty beyond a reasonable doubt…requirement. If you go and read the actual transcript of the speech he gave at the rally…and what the words mean…any halfway decent defense lawyer would be able to generate reasonable doubt in our opinion…and thus he would not be convicted.

That doesn’t mean he didn’t do it…just like OJ and Mrs. Clinton he probably did but knowing he did it and proving it beyond a reasonable doubt to an unbiased jury is a whole different animal…and is precisely the reason that she wasn’t prosecuted and that OJ got off. The requirement to fairly convict somebody requires that the prosecution prove each and every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt and given his actual words that doesn’t seem very likely to me.

Calling the rally on the same day the EC votes were being counted…stupid is as stupid does as Forest Gump said…it was a really dumb idea, but no dumber than continuing to insist the election was stolen even when all the evidence says it wasn’t.

So instead…he got impeached again…and as everybody knows impeachment is not a legal thing, it’s a political thing. Should he be convicted? Frankly I believe there is a lot to be said for just letting him sink into obscurity and for the House to never formally present the charges to the Senate…in the first place he’s not in office any more and in the second place the trial will take place immediately on presentation of the charges to the exclusion of all other Senate business…including things like approving President Biden’s cabinet choices and that whole compromise thing on his proposed legislative agenda.

On the other hand…the man and the far right that he incites don’t really represent what we’ve always thought of as America’s Republican Party any more than the far left represents the Democratic Party. Despite the claims of the fringes on both sides…most voters are actually pretty centrist. Believe it or not…Neil actually thinks some of the reasonable wants of the Democrats are a good thing…and he would be willing to compromise to get some of the Republican good things…but then as I said before compromise is pretty much down the toilet these days.

Let there be no mistake…what the former President did was reprehensible and what the assholes that invaded the Capitol did was reprehensible, illegal, and generally what we would call a bad thing. However…to be fair one should also agree that what the BLM and George Floyd protestors did was reprehensible and illegal. Not all of them on either side…I’m sure that 98% of the folks at the rally did not invade the Capitol and were peacefully protesting what they were told was a stolen election…because idiots believe whatever they’re told. Likewise…98% of the BLM/Floyd protestors were peacefully protesting what they perceived as a wrong. It’s the 2% on both sides who took over property that wasn’t their’s, attempted to find and kill police or politicians, and attempted to burn down an occupied courthouse out west. Both of those are absolutely, fundamentally wrong…and should have been stamped out with extreme prejudice. I’m all for peaceful protests…I’m also for riots and violence to be immediately and forcefully terminated. Frankly…the Capitol police were…in our opinion…criminally negligent in not having the riot squad prepared and in the basement just in case…and I would have recommended opening fire as soon as the first window was broken in the Capitol or the first firebomb tossed at the courthouse…security forces would have only had to shoot a couple criminals before the remainder had second thoughts about continuing.

Go read
this column from Mike Rowe
…I’ll wait because he says it a lot better than I do.

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Oh, I see you’re back.

So…President Biden was inaugurated yesterday and immediately signed 17 Executive Orders…mostly undoing what his predecessor enacted by EO…and I do wonder about some of those.

Can anybody explain how…for instance, this is just an example…DACA was enacted by President Obama because he couldn’t or wouldn’t try to get Congress to solve the problem. Nothing wrong with doing things by EO…but in the past EOs could be summarily cancelled by the next President. So President Trump EO’ed DACA out of existence and the illegal immigration apologists promptly sued…and got injunctions to prevent enforcement of the EO and essentially ran out the clock on his administration. How along comes President Biden…and he issues an EO to overturn President Trump’s EO and reinstate DACA…and tomorrow the right will sue over it being reinstated…and I wonder if the same court that injunctioned Trump’s EO out of existence because his administration didn’t follow the Administrative Procedures Act and have proposed regulations and public comment…I just wonder if this EO will be similarly held up or if it will be upheld because progressives want it. Doesn’t seem fair to me…

Similarly…another EO issued yesterday cancelled the construction permit for the Keystone XL pipeline expansion. So let’s talk about that a bit. First off…this isn’t a new pipeline…the original Keystone Pipeline is already constructed and delivering oil from Alberta in Canuckistan down to Oklahoma where it went into another pipeline to refineries in OK, TX, and down on the Gulf Coast…this part already exists and is pumping oil today. The XL expansion was in the original plans for the original pipeline approved 15 years ago. So back in the Obama Administration…the XL expansion came up for permit approval…and according to what I read 5 separate studies found that construction of the expansion would be better for the environment than expanding capacity through rail and truck transport of the oil…there would be far less carbon impact or leakage problems from the pipeline expansion than there would be from the rail/truck alternative. So did the Obama Administration follow the advice of their own EPA? Of course not…the permit was denied for political purposes to appease the Green people who want to put the fossil fuel industry out of business no matter how many jobs it costs. So along comes the Trump Administration…and they proceed to follow the Administrative Procedures Act this time and after appropriate comment and deliberation issued the permit. Both private industry and the Canadian government have invested heavily in both the original Keystone pipeline and the XL expansion…and construction was in progress. Until yesterday. President Biden immediately cancelled the construction permit for the XL expansion…but again failed to follow the Administrative Procedures Act…so I wonder if this EO will be upheld. In addition…he’s screwed a trading partner and friendly government…and for nothing. Oil will continue to flow from Alberta through the already in operation original pipeline to OK and more by rail and truck due to expanded production in Alberta…and it will eventually get to the refineries and be refined and used. The only thing positive is that President Biden has tossed a meaningless bone to the anti fossil fuel people.

I’m not opposed at all to the expansion of renewable energy sources…not at all. What I am opposed to is putting a bullet into the head of the US economy when shifting to solely renewable sources is (a) not a technically or engineering achievable goal at this point in time…sun and wind only work when there’s sun and wind and…news flash…the sun isn’t out at night and the wind doesn’t always blow so what happens when there’s no power in the grid and (b) we don’t have the grid infrastructure to deliver the solar/wind power from where it’s primarily generated…which is in all of those flyover states the left doesn’t care about…to the places that are the highest users of the power in the grid…which are the Northeast and CA which the left only cares about. Frankly…nuclear power is the only way that we can reasonably achieve a carbon free grid anytime soon…and even some of the lefties like the Sierra Club now agree with that reasoning.

President Biden has also demanded another $2 trillion in stimulus spending for the COVID…and while I agree that some additional spending to help counteract the effects of the virus should be considered…there’s a whole pile of things in his proposal that don’t have anything to do with the COVID.

  • Raising the federal minimum wage will reduce employment. Yes…it will make some of the jobs that aren’t lost pay more but the left ignores the jobs it will kill.
  • $480 billion in bailout money to states and local government is also in the proposal. Now while I think that perhaps…in the spirit of compromise…helping states who lost tax revenue due to the COVIC is probably ok…the total impact on tax revenue for states is only something like $20 billion…and while I suspect that number might be a bit low depending on who calculated it it’s certainly not $480 billion. This has nothing to do with COVID…but is just a bailout of profligate states who provided exorbitant benefits and retirement to unions there and who were irresponsible spenders of public money. Why should Florida…or Kansas…taxpayers bail out NY or CA. Simple…they shouldn’t and it’s nothing do with COVID anyway.
  • He wants to provide an additional $400 per week in unemployment benefits…over and beyond state paid benefits…until September…this means that for a lot of those workers they’ll make more staying home than they would by going back to work. How many of those people will choose to sit on their butt and collect free money. Plenty of them will and that doesn’t help get the economy running again.
  • Another $1,400 cash payment to every person in the country…this should be targeted more towards people who are actually hurting and provided in a way that it will be spent and not put into savings or paying down debt like a lot of the previous payments were.
  • Student loan forgiveness…again this has nothing to do with COVID and he can only forgive (maybe, the laws on it haven’t been fully litigated yet) federal student loans which is not the majority of them.

I’m…again…all for reasonable actions to help combat the COVID crisis but this is just shoveling out cash to every Democratic lobbying group.

He also claims that he’s going to get 100 million people vaccinated in the first 100 days…unfortunately that’s unlikely to happen because of vaccine production capacity…and using the doses that were saved for the second shot to give a few more people the first shot isn’t the best medical usage of those doses.

He’s also rejoining the Paris Climate Accords…even though the Constitution says that treaties need to be approved by the Senate. President Obama ignored this requirement and claimed it was an agreement and not a treaty…bull crap. I wonder if President Biden will likewise ignore the requirement as well.

I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt…for now…until I see what he actually does. His inauguration speech talked about compromise and coming together…but every inauguration speech since Kennedy has said that and it never happens much on either side. Yes…he won the election but let’s not forget that 75 million people voted for the other guy…and for a lot of them it was a policy vote and not a do I like this guy vote…they were voting against the demands of the progressive left. Ignoring those 75 million people and ramming through policies that take us a long way down the socialist path would not be good. I’m waiting to see.

Now that Big Red is gone…we’re looking for a second car…we have second test drives scheduled for the 3 finalists in the next couple of days.

Neil did get a couple photos today…these were both taken with Connie’s new mirrorless Nikon Z50 as it was the first one he grabbed.

Sunrise over the pond…the sky color is known as sky-blue-pink…from back in the days when we were in college with our friend Joe…I’m not sure which one of the 3 of them actually came up with the expression…

Z50 004

Red Cockaded Woodpecker…and yes, I know there’s no red to be seen. Only mature males have the red and it’s just a little patch behind the eye. Even in mature males it’s only about 5% of the size of the black area around the eye and is generally not visible…so this is either a female or a juvenile. It’s a pretty good shot considering he shot it through the lanai screen…it only stayed long enough for about 6 or 7 shots before flying off and it was about 3 feet the other side of the screen with zero possibility he could have snuck out the door to get an unobstructed view. I’ll have to try and send him out one day before dawn to sit in a chair with a blanket hiding his form since we see woodpeckers right after sunrise frequently. 

Z50 003

Things that might interest only me.

We’ve all seen the size comparisons between the earth, Jupiter and the sun and how the earth would fit into the sun roughly 1.3 million times…but the sun is only a white dwarf so how does it compare to other stars. Take a look at
this video
to see…Cassias Majoris which is one the largest known stars is somewhere between 1,400 and 2,000 larger than the sun in diameter (depending on the estimate)…and we’ve only scaled a fraction of the stars we can see…who knows what might be found in galaxies that are so faraway they appear as simply a dot even to the strongest telescopes we have.

Speaking of galaxies…scientists have announced that they made a slight error in their estimate of the number of galaxies in the universe…formerly it was at least 2 trillion but it’s been revised downward to only a couple hundred billion. Still a lot though.

Speaking of NASA…the tested the core stage of the SLS (space launch system) which is…yeah, right…going to deliver us to the moon by the end of 2024 last week. The SLS is essentially a larger version of the old space shuttle external tank with 4 space shuttle main engines at the bottom and two larger versions of the solid rocket boosters strapped to the sides. Instead of the shuttle strapped to the side of the tank…there’s a second stage on top of the tank and then it will have the Orion capsule mounted on top of that. Anyway…the test last week was just of the core state strapped in a test stand…and the test firing was supposed to last 8.5 minutes to simulate the length of time the engines will burn during an actual launch. The test was going to include the throttle down sequence for maximum dynamic pressure during an actual launch as well as gimbaling the engines like they will in an actual launch. The test shut itself down after just over a minute and achieved essentially none of the goals for the test. Nonetheless…NASA has declared it a success and that they have enough data to properly evaluate the core stage performance and send it to Florida…because we gotta launch it this year ya know in order to meet the 2024 deadline. The problem is that the core stage is only rated for 9 fuel load and offload cycles of the cryogenic fuel and oxidizer…and they’ve already used 3 of them I believe along with a couple of practice runs before launch then they need to save some of the cycles for a potential launch delay. So far…we’ve spent $9 billion on this which is a third more than originally thought and NASA has conveniently ignored another $3 billion of overruns due to some financial hand waving and it’s yet to actually launch. Meanwhile…SpaceX and Mr. Musk have launched over 100 Falcon 9 missions with exactly 1 failure at an average cost of $62 million for a new booster launch and mid $40s million for a reused booster…several of their boosters have flown 5 times. Nobody knows what the cost of an SLS launch…NASA’s current estimate is over $2 billion in recurring costs for the vehicle and launch over and above the development cost. Granted…an SLS has greater payload capacity…a maximum of about 100,000 pounds to lunar transfer orbit  while a Falcon 9 Heavy has about 60,000 pounds to geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO) and 140,000 to low earth orbit (LEO)…the lunar transfer orbit is in between LEO and GTO. Seems to me that some sort of dual launch of the reusable Falcon 9 Heavy system or even the Falcon 9 which is 50,000 pounds to LEO and then a mating of the vehicles would be a lot cheaper to achieve and given NASA’s overall success rate compared to SpaceX likely more technically achievable as well. Private industry has clearly shown itself to be more efficient and reliable than most NASA systems have been…but here we are essentially wasting money on both the SLS and going back to the moon. Musk wants to go to Mars instead…but achieving anytime soon that is likely beyond even his dreams. It isn’t that we don’t have the technology to send spacecraft that far…but a Mars trip would take about 260 days each way plus however much time you spent there and that’s an awful lot of fuel, food, water, oxygen, and spare parts you need even for a minimal crew of 4 or 5 people. The Orion spacecraft which would supposedly be eventually used for Mars missions doesn’t have anything remotely close to enough payload capacity for a mission of that length. I wonder why…other than just because…we need to go back to the moon anyway. Considering the cost of the ISS already…about $150 billion to date…and the difficulty of getting there…just why are we spending money to go back? Until we figure out a cheaper way to get weight out of the earth’s gravity well and into orbit than we currently have…the cost of going back to the moon or to Mars is simply prohibitive. Of course…it’s less than the cost of the blue state bailout in the proposed COVID bill…but then we can’t afford that either.

Interesting things found on the net.

Just when you think you’ve seen it all.

RedneckEngineering

MotherViceGrip

TrustIssues

HowToIdentifyTruth

IkeaLogCabin

TheSameDress

HaveToFireDave

LightsCameraFiction

Cyas.

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

Crimson Tide…National Champs…Again

Once again…the post title pretty much says it all.

Screen Shot 2021 01 12 at 11 40 19 AM

 

Last night ‘Bama and Ohio State met for the championship in Miami with the Tide being favored by 8 our 10 points. OSU’s quarterback had some cracked ribs from a targeting hit he took in the semi final against Clemson but it didn’t seem to affect his performance much as he passed accurately when he had the chance and ran the ball successfully a few times What did affect his performance was the dominance of the Tide’s defense…which was pretty dominant overall. OSU ran for 147 and passed for 194 on 17 of 33 passing but was only able to muster 2 long drives in the first half and they lost the time of possession 22 minutes to 37 minutes. Bama…with Mac Jones going 36 of 45 with 5 TD passes rolled up over 620 yards of total offense and pretty much dominated the game 52-24 and it was never close or in doubt after about the first 5 minutes of the second quarter.

After early scores by both Bama and OSU and another later in the quarter…we opened the 2nd quarter with a score and then 2 more before halftime. OSU only was able to get a field goal and a short TD drive of 20 yards after they recovered an uncharacteristic fumble on a strip sack…and they were down 35-17 at halftime. Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith finished the first half with 12 catches, 215 yards, and 3 scores and didn’t play after the 2nd play of the second half due to a dislocated finger. Didn’t matter though…OSU lost the second half 7 to 17 and they were simply outmanned on the O-line and in the secondary.

The Tide now has 18 national championships…although one has to admit that some of the ones back in the Stone Age of the 20s and 30s are a bit sketchy as there was no real way to determine champions back then other than random papers or magazines declaring it so. Of those 18…Saban and the Bear have 13 of them. The NCAA credits them with only 16 though since they only count starting in the poll area which puts them in first place in that category…the NCAA counts Yale as having 18 but none in the poll era. Going back through the 23 seasons of the playoffs and the Bowl Championship Series that was the 2 team championship game that preceded the playoffs and started in 1998…

On the other hand…in the 7 years of the current playoff system they’ve been it 6 times and in the finals 5 times winning 3 of those giving Nick Saban his 7th championship which moves him into the all time lead over Bear Bryant and others…and he’s done it in a lot fewer years. He won his first at LSU and has picked up another 6 in 14 years with the Tide…and as he says it’s simply a matter of the teams following “the process”.

I’m not going to claim they don’t recruit highly rated folks but beyond talent he and his staff look for attitude. To do well for him…a player needs to not worry about stats or scores or sacks but to worry about doing his job each and every play to the best of his ability…and that the team and winning is what is important over individual stats…if you do that then a lot of good things follow. This years big 3 on offense…Smith, QB Jones, and RB Harris…all could have turned pro last year but each made the decision…as did numerous others…to return for their senior year and chase another trophy.

Those guys all have played their final college game…but the talent pool is deep with QB, RB, and WRs all in plentiful supply along with line and defensive folk…in fact next year’s D will probably be better as most of them should be returning and have more experience.

Connie’s off to a Ladies of Elks meeting this AM…Neil finished taking down the Christmas tree and decorations and got all them packed up…we’ll tote them up into the attic over the garage this afternoon when she’s back. We also had a great Date Nite last evening before the ball game…ribs and sides from Smokin’ Pit BBQ down Tamiami trail about 7 miles from home. Their BBQ is better than Hogbodies…but only a bit…and Hogbodies has wings as well so which we pick depends on exactly what we want to eat. 

Cyas…off to do some more jobs round the house.

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We’re Officially Out Of The RV Business

The title says it all. After selling our rig last month we’ve still been looking to move Big Red along to his new owners. Neil had emailed Tom Martin up at Classy Chassis to see if he was interested in it…he was and a day or two later we had an offer and 3 days later (yesterday…Sunday)…he flew in and picked it up.

We picked him up from the airport and went out to the cell phone waiting lot, did the paperwork, swapped the keys for a check and headed home in our newly single vehicle state. He drove over to the gas station at the waiting area to sanitize the interior…with the covid that makes perfect sense for him even though we’ve all recovered from it and were nowhere near Big Red while we were infectious.

He only paid wholesale…since he’s going to resell it and needs to make a profit…but buyers have been few and far between down here for used 5th wheel tow vehicles so Connie and Neil decided to go that route and not worry about it. Now we need to buy a second car for ourselves…Neil has a few picked out and we’ll check them out in the next week or so.

Here are a couple shots of Tom and us during the turnover…the past 3 days have been the coldest of the season so far and it was only in the mid 50s when we met at 2000…so we were all bundled up for the weather. Tom stayed overnight with some family up north of Tampa before heading back to Indiana.

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Other than that…same-o same-o down here. The Elks Lodge did open back up last week so we went down for tacos and Show Me The Money…it’s Bingo for Dummies or Bingo for people with a short attention span…the games go much quicker than bingo and you don’t need as many players to make money for the lodge. 

Neil took down the outside holiday decorations over the weekend…they got rules ‘bout that sort of thing here in the HoA…and Connie will do the tree this afternoon. 

Let’s see…we did get the rest of the office setup over the holidays…Neil went through his old computer bins of parts, software, and such and tossed 3 huge garbage bags of things that weren’t worth keeping and software that won’t run on any computer he still has. He went from 3.5 bins down to about 1/3 of one so that’s a good thing.

On to the news…

I reckon you saw the news about the ruckus up in DC last week…and do have a few things to say on it.

First off…the majority of the blame for the riot belongs to the President with his continued insistence that he won the election and that it was stolen from him…despite the complete lack of evidence and numerous recounts and court cases affirming the lack of evidence he keeps on with his me, me, me attitude. I don’t know if he really believes his advisors who tell him he won and got cheated…or if they’re lying to him…or if he’s just too egotistical to accept that he lost so somebody else must be at fault…but his rally and speech gets pretty close to inciting a riot. I don’t know what will happen over that…I’m sure that a Democrat administration can indict him for the crime but there are problems with having a trial…first off finding an impartial jury about the case is absolutely impossible…and anybody that claims they’re unbiased is either lying or in a seriously small minority…and lastly if you read his actual words and parse exactly what he said…assuming you could have found the impossible unbiased jury a good lawyer can generate reasonable doubt. The other alternatives are either impeaching him or just letting the term expire…impeachment has the advantage that if he was convicted he would be barred from running for reelection and perhaps the Republican Party can get back to what most of it’s members want instead of the far right wing bS that he has inspired.

However…some portion of the blame falls to the other side…not specifically inciting the riot part…but they’re definitely culpable (as are the Republicans) for the current political climate. The Ds never accepted Mrs. Clinton’s loss in 2016 and have been going on about “he’s not my President”, trying to impeach him since the day after the election in 2016, and filing suits over every executive order the man signed…not to mention calling him a liar, sexual predator, Putin’s puppet, and every other nasty vile thing they can think of. They never gave him the respect that the President deserves from the opposition…you have to at least respect the office and thus the office holder even if you disagree with him.

I think a lot of heads need to roll over the ill preparedness of the Capitol Police, DC Police, the National Guard, the Army who declined to immediately activate the Guard when asked, Congressional staff, and anybody involved with security. After all of the BS the man has spouted since the election and the incessant roar from his supporters about “stopping the steal” and so on…a complete moron would have figured out that the probability of an incident during the EC vote counting was pretty darned high. I understand that they didn’t want a line of soldiers with weapons and uniforms across the Capitol steps…but not having the Guard activated, in garrison and ready to roll out if needed…and not having the riot squad mustered, kitted up, armed, and stealthily brought into the Capitol basement just in case borders on criminal negligence to me…how freaking stupid can they be?

I guess just about as freaking stupid as the idiots…legislators, off duty police (apparently), far right wing people, and some military members (both active and retired) who invaded the building and let themselves have pictures taken…luckily most of the idiots have been identified and arrested.

Me…it’s a good thing for the rioters that Neil wasn’t in charge of security…because he would have had the riot squad ready and once the first window was broken and the first individual invaded the building he would have had the riot terminated with prejudice as they say. At that point…lethal force is perfectly justified in his opinion…and security would only have had to shoot the first few invaders before the rest of them turned tail and ran. I hate to say that they needed killin’…but they needed killin’.

On the other hand…he would have put down the protests in Portland, Seattle, et. al., just as definitively.

His internet buddy Pete from Alaska wondered on his blog why there was non stop media coverage, declarations of domestic terrorism and such while nothing similar happened during the peaceful protests out in Portland, Seattle, et. al.…his observation was that it depended on who was rioting. That’s about 110% correct in our view…and it’s a sad state of affairs.

Of course…our elected officials are all taking political advantage of the situation…not to mention demonstrating a complete lack of understanding of how the government is supposed to work.

Pelosi…well first off she took it upon herself to call the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to demand that he make sure that no orders from the President to start military action or use nuclear weapons be carried out. However…she is completely wrong on that one for many reasons. First off…the chairman of the JCS is not in the operational chain of command and has no authority to direct what the heads of the various armed services do. Second…we have civilian control of the military in this country…and the President is the Commander in Chief of the military forces. Third…the military will carry out all lawful orders that the President issues including the use of nuclear weapons. They can refuse to carry out unlawful orders…but that’s a difficult situation for them to be in and is certainly a step they would not take lightly. In addition…her attempt to tell the military what to do is clearly a violation of the separation of powers as specified in the Constitution…it just isn’t her job too do that…and it’s not the military’s job to refuse to obey orders because the Speaker of the House demands it.

Pelosi…again demonstrating a complete lack of understanding or ignoring of the separation of powers idea…then demanded that the VP invoke the 25th amendment to remove the President from office. Again…this is not her job. That amendment provides the guidelines for how the VP and a majority of the cabinet…all of who are members of the Executive branch…can do so. The legislative branch has zip squat nothing to do with this…and she again severely overstepped her bounds.

Next up…impeachment. Pelosi…again…has said she’s going to institute impeachment charges and she has the majority to pass them through the House. She’ll have to ignore the whole investigation part and the send it to committee part…but she’s willing to ignore the rules once again. However…there are a couple of problems with an impeachment. The rules say that once the impeachment charges pass the House they must be delivered to the Senate when the Senate is in session. It is not in session now and by Senate rules cannot be brought back into session without the unanimous consent of every member. The next regularly scheduled session is January 19…so the earliest the charges can be presented to the Senate is that day…and the trial must start the next day…so by the time it can happen the President will no longer be in office.

So…in another demonstration that the impeachment talk is just political BS…Mr. Clyburn announced that when charges are approved they won’t be presented to the Senate until after Mr. Biden’s first 100 days in office so that “his agenda can be enacted”. Any impeachment of the guy that was President 100 days ago is purely an exercise in political BS.

Speaking of Mr. Biden’s agenda…they Democrats are going to have trouble with a lot of the farther out demands the left wing is demanding…because with a tied senate and the VP breaking the tie that only gives them 51 votes. With the Senate having the filibuster…they need 60 votes to move forward with anything…which means that negotiation…everybody getting something and giving something…and bipartisanship will be the only way they get anything done. Yes…there’s the reconciliation process…but that only applies to budget, spending, and revenue bills…and can only be used once for each one in a year. So…if they come in and use reconciliation to immediately pass say the $2000 per person give away at a price tag of another half a trillion dollars…they can’t use reconciliation for any other spending bill this year…and that means that the filibuster will keep them from passing other spending priorities. Senator Manchin has already said he won’t vote to eliminate the filibuster…so that puts 51 votes in the “keep the filibuster” category.

I keep seeing articles about the “biased SCOTUS” we have as a result of the President “ramming through activist judges who will repudiate Mr. Biden’s goals”…along with the requisite packing the courts articles and the why we need to get rid of the EC articles, and the why we need to ban guns articles…but again I refer the liberals back to the constitutionally prescribed method for changing the constitution…follow it. Yes…it’s hard…but it was deliberately designed to be hard so that a 50% plus 1 majority did not run roughshod over the rights of the 50% minus 1 minority.

Enough about that…can our leaders just get back to doing their jobs and doing the people’s business. Nobody will be completely happy with bipartisan legislation…but they won’t be completely unhappy either.

Interesting things found on the net.

OldPersonFromSchool

NudistDarkSelfie

LetsSeeWhatHappens

Neil likes this one.

GrowingUpBy50

AAAAmbulanceRide

DamnTacos

105YearOldHealthAdvice

Determination

MathNotYourThing

And finally…this is as accurate as it gets.

AccurateAsItGets

Cyas.

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

Happy New Years

…or whatevers. Nothing really going down here. We got some good stuff for presents…a new camera for Connie and a Roomba for her…hey, she wanted one…and a new tripod and fancy head for Neil.Also got some new bike shorts and tops, slippers, and assorted stuff. 

I can report that the sous vide duck that then got crispied on the grill for Christmas dinner was pretty spectacular. Neil took the skin and fat off and rendered it the day before then we used some of the duck fat to sous vide the duck breast and also to make the roux for the creamed pearl onions we had along with the duck and sweet taters. Dessert was cheese cake since we wuz full by that time and we had a nice bottle of wine to go along with it all.

We ended up sending 2 presents back…Connie’s slippers were the wrong size since she and Neil failed to communicate as the sheriff in Cool Hand Luke said way back when…and Neil’s tripod came with the spike feet for mud and dirt. They weren’t indicated on the “in the box” section on the web site so Connie ordered them and we ended up with 2 sets as they were actually included…so we sent those back as well.

We also got new iPad Airs…Connie’s earlier model Pro than Neil’s one was at the end of it’s battery life so she got a new one from him…and as the IT guy it’s illegal for him not to have a new one as well so he bought a pair of them. We sent the old ones back to Apple as trade ins…we’ll get a total of $440 back on them once they’re checked in.

Dinner today will be Cornish game hen…although in the US of A they’re really just young chickens rather than actual game hens…Ima not really sure what the difference is…google says that it’s a young hen that is a cross breed between a Cornish chicken and a White Plymouth Rock chicken…so maybe these really are those and not just a young chicken…anyways they taste like chicken. Neil brined it for a day…then spatchcocked it…that’s a fancy cooking term that means he split it down the breast only ad laid the two sides out flat. Onto the smoker it went about1230 and when it gets up to almost done he’ll put it on the grill for a few minutes to crispy the skin and make it delicious instead of just chewy. We’re having turkey stuffing alongside it and another nice bottle of wine…this one is Mondavi Butter Chardonnay so hopefully it will be good. Then we’ll tune into the Alabama vs Notre Dame playoff semifinal game…luckily the Rose Bowl…which has been translated to Texas by the way…is the early game and it starts at 1620. The other semifinal starts past 2000 and won’t be over until past midnight and we’re never up that late. We had some merlot dessert wine last night…tastes really more like port than dessert wine…and have the other half of the small bottle left for later on tonight.

Ok…let’s get to some pictures…we got a bit o’ additional wildlife this week…nothing we haven’t seen before but at least one of them is the first appearance outside our lanai.

These first three were taken with Connie’s new Nikon Z50 mirrorless by Neil…it’s about half the size of her old D7100 DSLR and with 2 lens giving her a huge increase in focal length so that she has some telephoto capability…and with 2 lens it weighs less than her old D7100 with just a wide angle zoom.

Z50 0059 AuroraHDR2019 edit 2

These two were done using the auto area auto focus mode which amazingly enough figures out what subject you actually want to be focused on most of the time.

Z50 0039 2

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Over to some taken with Neil’s D7500 and the bird lens…this is a female Anhinga and while they’re pretty common down here this is the first one at our pond.

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Tricolor heron.

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Anhingas dive under the water to hunt and sit on the bank or branches a lot to let their wings dry out.

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One of our resident Great Blue Herons…this is the non skittish one and you can see the mating plumage hanging off the front in some of the shots.

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While he was getting the shots above this squirrel attracted his attention about 40 feet away on our side of the pond.

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Interesting things found on the net.

More math nerdism…what is it with those people.

This is a countdown to 021.

CountdownTo2021

Yeah…I know it’s the Fibonacci sequence…but so what?

Fibonacci Series

VikingQuarantine

PlanesCrash

TeacherWinterBreak

TurkeyFeeds12

TestinginRear

YardSafety

NoMatterHowStupid

NeverSnortViagra

NotNatural

ItsCooties

SevenDwarfsMeeting

Cyas.

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