Yep…the title is exactly as old Agent 86 Maxwell Smart woulda said it. It’s been 3 weeks since I last posted but there’s reasons I’ll get into in just a bit.
But first…a public service announcement and word of caution. I know you’ve probably all seen those so called “fact checks” on various websites of both liberal and conservative bent…they’re always picking something that the other side said or did and “fact checking” it to give you what they refer to as the “real story”…this actually means that they just want to disagree with whatever the other side said, call them bald faced liars, and expound the opposite view of whatever the original story, statement, or situation was.
But I’ve always wondered just how much of them were true and typically read through the actual facts to see what the truth actually is. For instance…in the ongoing (as of this writing) SCOTUS confirmations for Judge Jackson to become the first black female justice on the court…a whole lot has been made of both comparing the treatment she is getting vs that given to previous nominees Kavanaugh and Comey Barret as well as how Judge Jackson is supposedly “soft on child porn offenders” in her sentencing. For the former…I really think that the right is slightly more correct than the left since while they are asking her questions she’s doing a pretty good job at dodging any answers that either side considers as a litmus test or something to make political hay out of. The fact of the matter is that she’s a liberal judge replacing another liberal judge and won’t change the balance of the court…and also that she’s not nearly as progressive as either the former RBG was or either of the current female women justices. She’s left leaning but…at least from her record and answers which admittedly are pretty vague…but not way out there. It does sort of offend me that both sides are talking way, way much about her race…one side insisting that she’s a proponent of critical race theory and the other side insisting that almost any question the right asks her is racist. For the record…I think she’s obviously qualified for the job and replacing a liberal with another liberal isn’t really so bad…and she’s the President’s choice…and I think she’ll be confirmed with a couple of Republican votes. On the other hand…I think that the President did her a disservice and essentially disrespected her by the way she was selected. As a fairly young, liberal judge sitting on the DC Court of Appeals…she would obviously have been on the short list for a vacancy being filled by the President. However…by his insistence on appointing only a black woman to fill this seat he eliminated way north of 90% of the also obviously qualified people from the job…and made this about race rather than about qualifications. In my view…he bowed to the progressive left by announcing that he would only consider black women for this vacancy…and I think the politically as well as respect for the nominee view he would have been far, far better to have a broader short list including multiple men, women, and races…and then choose her from that list as the most qualified. That way he still gets the prestige I guess you would call it from appointing the first black woman justice…but then she got the job on her merits and qualifications rather than by being the best qualified black woman. The whole process just seems fubar to me (fubar is fouled up beyond all repair but in the Navy we replaced fouled with another less savory word beginning with F).
The second big deal about the supposed fact checks…and although this is the first fact check that I’ve ever seen that was itself fact checked…I guess the summary is that you just can’t believe any fact check you see in the media on either side without doing your own research to see what the actual truth is.
To wit…this week USA Today
published a story that “fact checked” the following statement…”Tipping became popular in the United States because restaurant owners didn’t want to pay Black workers after the ratification of the 15th Amendment”. The article relies on two accounts to conclude that this statement is true…one from a book by Kerry Seagrave published in 1998 and a Washington Post article from 1916. While I have no idea about the political leanings of either of these authors…it is pretty clear from reading what they wrote that they are progressive politically…and while that doesn’t make them wrong it does make them biased and it’s pretty easy to only cite evidence that supports your point of view as we’ve seen in every contentious issue debate for the past 250 years. In any event…two singular quotes do not truth make.
Almost immediately after the article was posted…somebody named Phil Magness
tweeted that the story is not accurate. Mr. Magness is a Senior Research Fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research who has written extensively on economic dimensions of slavery and racial discrimination, the history of taxation, and measurements of economic inequality over time according to his bio at the AIER home page…so apparently he does know what he’s talking about.
His tweet pointed out that tipping existed in Europe well before the abolition of slavery in the US or the 15th amendment…citing a “Travel Guide to Europe” that indicates that tipping and gratuities are normal there. This guide was published in 1730. He then points out that the play Twelfth Night…written in 1602 by some guy named Shakespeare…has a scene about tipping. He then…in the twitter thread…cites that there are numerous references to tipping in the US colonies in newspapers published before the Civil War. He acknowledges that the original “fact check” article does say that tipping came to the colonies at their founding since they were founded by people from England…and that the acknowledgement of that fact invalidates the conclusion that tipping in the US was rooted in the desire by white business owners to under compensate freed slaves in the 1930s. He agrees that the lower minimum wage for service staff was codified by US law in the 1930s but that since tipping existed for centuries before the Civil War you really can’t shoehorn tipping into the aftermath of slavery argument. The twitter thread also talks about USA Today undermining their own premise by citing uberfacts as a valid source. In addition to uberfacts, the article also cites such known bastions of journalistic integrity as Motherjones.com, Quartz.com, and NPR; all of which are most definitely liberal in viewpoint.
So…I guess you just can’t believe all of the so called fact checks you see in the news without doing your own research first.
Ok…moving on to reasons. After our last post on Feb 28…we actually had another trip scheduled for Mar 16-18 so that was going to be the subject of my next post…but then computer problems intervened. As I’ve mentioned before, Neil does his photo processing on his Intel iMac with the Lightroom catalog and images on an external SSD drive and low and behold on Mar 3 the iMac shut down. After some investigation…he discovered that the external SSD was dead…tried 3 cables and 3 different computers in all possible combinations and none of them resulted in the drive being visible. So off it went to OWC for repair/replacement. He figured they would just replace the entire drive and he would have to restore it from backup when it arrived…so he decided not to try and restore the backups to a different location so that he could use Lightroom because it would take him a half day to restore the files and modify the Lightroom configuration to make things work…and because he would have to do all that work again when the new drive arrived.
The last time he sent in a drive to OWC for repair it was back in 6 days from when he shipped it…but apparently the covid has affected their productivity as well as he shipped the drive on Mar 4 and its didn’t get back until Mar 22 so a bit over 2.5 weeks door to door. The good news is that it wasn’t actually the SSD in the case that died, their troubleshooting revealed that it was only the interface board in the drive which they replaced and all the data was still there…so no restore needed…he had plenty of backups but not needing to restore a terabyte of data and reconfiguring things is always better than not.
In the end…he would have had the photos done and I would have had this post done last Friday or Saturday if not for the failure instead of today…so it got delayed by almost another week…so sue me I guess.
Our original plan was to leave the house at zero dark thirty and drive up to Fort Desoto Park near St. Petersburg to get more shots of the birds at dawn including the rarely seen Reddish Egrets. Then we were going to give Connie a couple hours to sit on the beach before heading up in the afternoon to Titusville for dinner on Wednesday night followed by Black Point Wildlife Drive Thursday morning and then a drive to Lakeland for dinner followed by Circle Bar B Reserve on Friday morning before coming home. However…on Tuesday we checked the weather for the St. Pete area and it was 60% chance of rain almost the whole day with a high of about 70…so essentially we would be taking photos in the rain with no Golden Hour due to the cloud cover and rain and no beach for Connie. So we cancelled the first stop and left at a more reasonable 1130 and went straight to Titusville…then followed the Thursday and Friday schedule as it was.
It was a great trip…nice cool weather, no rain and we got some nice photos albeit it appeared at both Black Point and Circle Bar B that the peak of the breeding season has passed…we saw a lot fewer birds and wildlife than the previous trip…but we did get a couple of rare finds and action shots instead…so all in all the trip was definitely worthwhile. On the way home we ran down to Fort Myers to pick up 3 pairs of heels that Connie was getting the heels fixed on…the guy does good work but speaks zero English so he uses his iPhone and an app to converse with customers. She’s happy to get the three pairs fixed for $45…way cheaper than 80 to 110 bucks a pair since she buys Naturalizer brand and doesn’t go to Shoes-R-Us and get the cheapie ones.
Ok Black Point Wildlife Drive was our first stop.
Reddish Egret to the left and more Roseate Spoonbills than we’ve typically seen in one spot. The pink bill on the Reddish which is his breeding advertisement to the lady egrets is pretty pronounced in this individual. Sorry for no closeup…these first shots were taken just about 10 minutes after dawn and it was still pretty dark so Neil couldn’t put the teleconverter on the lens to get closer…he tried cropping in closer but just lost all the detail in the birds so settled for a wider shot. There were actually another dozen or more spoonbills out to the left from this shot 40 yards or so.
A couple of the other gaggle of spoonbills along with a breeding Great Egret.
Nice launch sequence of this Red Bellied Woodpecker that was across the road from the spoonbills…unfortunately the shot where he’s actually totally in the air with his wings out after the jump went down behind the branches to the left and he was mostly obscured.
Great Egrets back over near the spoonbills.
This one decided to blow the joint and left.
Which caused this spoonbill and pair of White Ibis to depart as well.
The Reddish Egret and the last of his spoonbill friends.
Nice landing sequence of another White Ibis…the airborne Great Egret in the upper left is the same one that took off in the shot 3 shots back but another second or so after the first shot.
And the Reddish stands alone…it’s too early for him to use the wings up creating shadow to attract fish and see them through the surface reflections so I guess he’s just waiting there for something to happen by. He never moved the whole time we were there.
After leaving that spot on the drive…everything so far was taken within about 5 or 6 minutes without moving the car we headed on down the drive and spotted this Kingfisher through the window. Connie was only able to get a single shot before this jerk wheeled in at about 30 miles an hour with his radio blaring and windows down which naturally scared the normally skittish anyway kingfisher away. Connie and he had a brief disagreement…she called him a dufus and he said “who me?” and wanted to make a big deal out of it but Neil just drove away. And all because he wanted to walk his little rat dogs off leash…which isn’t allowed on the drive anyway but jerks typically don’t follow the rules anyway.
Red Wing Blackbird male trying to attract the ladies.
Caspian Tern out on the mud flats.
Cattle Egret with mating plumage…it’s the brownish tint and the yellow vice normal greenish legs so that makes this a male. Cattle Egrets are relatively small (18 inches or so tall max) and are the ones you normally see around agricultural fields or cow pastures…hence the name.
A different Red Wing Blackbird male in flight. No real detail in the face and feathers but this particular image out of the burst really shows the red and yellow epaulets that give the species its name.
Moorhens scouring the bottom for breakfast.
This is the one that was inverted in the shot above after coming up with some grass to eat.
Neil and Connie’s shots of the same Great Blue Heron shortly before leaving the drive.
With that our trip to Black Point was done. We stopped at a different brewery than last time and had a couple brews around lunch time but weren’t really hungry and had dinner reservations at a Steak House in Lakeland so we just skipped lunch.
Dinner was great…steaks for both of us and cocktails and wine were 2 for 1 so that was a good score. All was good…we were going to have dessert originally but were too full after the steak and taters…actually had leftovers that we made sandwiches out of on Saturday…so we skipped it and headed to the hotel.
Up again early the next morning for Circle Bar B Reserve and again we headed out on the trail just a few minutes after dawn. Luckily with the onset of Daylight Saving Time sunrise was an hour later so we didn’t have to get up quite as early this trip.
We picked a different trail…decided to do Heron Way and Eagle Roost loop trail of about 2+ miles instead of the 4+ Alligator Canal trail.
Male Anhinga on a bad hair day.
Warbler of some sort…we think it’s a Yellow Throated Warbler, not a perfect match for either Peterson’s birds of North America or googled images but it’s the closest to matching so that’s what we went with.
And a second or three later after it found something to snack on.
Connie noticed this nice spiderweb about 4 feet from the warbler.
Great Blue Heron in breeding plumage…his isn’t very ornate and is mostly the blue ponytail on the back of his head.
Limpkin…a find almost as rare as the Reddish Egret…this is a super skittish species and Connie and Neil have probably seen 20 or less between them over a lot of years out in the swamps. They don’t make any calls and move very slowly and generally stay hidden in brush.
Tricolor Heron again in breeding plumage…although instead of just the gold ponytail on the back this one also has the blue beak…Neil doesn’t recall having seen the bright blue beak on any of them before this one.
Male Cardinal with breakfast.
Male Moorhen…again calling for the ladies…or perhaps issuing challenges to other potential suitors.
Really eerie view down the path next to the canal…Spanish Moss hanging low.
You usually don’t see an Eagle in the same tree as an Anhinga and a bunch of egrets…but then this is a tree out in the middle of a lake so it wasn’t like there were a lot of other choices. This is one of the local mated pair.
Nice reflection in the canal.
Female Red Wing Blackbird…and yes, they’re brown and neither red or black. We got a dozen or shots between Neil and Connie and picked this prelaunch shot by Connie and the airborne one by Neil…he’s got an easier time tracking the birds in flight than she does since she has little to no depth perception. She’s getting better with her new camera though…she keeps practicing tracking them and gets better every time out.
Neil spotted a lady in front of them about 50 yards who started running up the trail so he hoofed it up there to get these shots of a Great Blue Heron with breakfast…it’s a skate which is sort of a cross between an eel and a fish. Connie caught up and at least one of these she got but I can’t remember which.
And down the hatch. Good to the last drop.
Black Crowned Night Heron.
Mated pair of Sandhill Cranes expressing their love for each other…or something like that. Like many other large species…they mate for life and are rarely apart from each other except when one is sitting on the nest brooding eggs while the other forages.
Male Anhinga drying his wings.
Double Crested Cormorant with breakfast…again a combo of Neil and Connie shots.
After passing between the two lakes and turning back south and then east toward the parking lot we were on Eagle Roost Trail. Here’s the nest with one of the eaglets sitting out on the left side and…I think…the second eaglet in the center but partially hidden by the vertical limb.
And here’s the mate to the one that was out on the water. Based on size we think this is the female but it’s essentially impossible to tell without seeing them side by side. The fact that it is sitting off the nest and watching indicates that the eaglets have matured enough to not be susceptible to predators and since they haven’t fledged yet the parents just drop off prey and let them fight over and tear it apart rather than feeding them as they did post hatching.
As we headed back east to the parking lot we spotted this Glossy Ibis and got a couple of shots…but otherwise the last half mile back was pretty bleak as far as bird life goes.
With that our trip was done…we hated to miss DeSoto but it wasn’t worth getting up early enough for a 100 mile drive to get there at dawn. We headed home, grabbed some fast food on the way, picked up her shoes, and that was it for the trip.
Interesting things found on the net.
More math nerdery.
Yes, 2592 which is the only number less than 10 to the 100th power that when you take 2 to the 5th power times 9 to the second power (using the digits in the order they’re the number) you get the number. Not sure why we care about this at all…but apparently we do.
And because 42 is the Ultimate Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything (as noted in book 1 of the trilogy consisting of 5 books The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.
Best airport sign ever.
And in further proof that 42 is the ultimate answer…if you use 42 digits of pi to calculate the circumference of the observable universe you get the correct answer to an accuracy of the size of a proton.
Green Power…although this will probably cause PTSD for progressives.
Star Trek humor