It’s Like Groundhog Day

Or like Yogi once said…”it’s like deja vu all over again”.

Yep…not a day goes by that our politicians of almost all stripes demonstrate…once again…that hypocrisy is the most important thing they do.

Ya got Stacie Abrams who’s running again for the governor position in GA…and she is outspokenly and practically cultish about a mask mandate in schools. That’s all fine and dandy even though a study released this week by John Hopkins concluded that masks had little to no effect on covid case numbers. Me…I think that mandates on a broad scale are an over reaction and that they should be targeted to cities or particular schools or whatever that have high case rates…and I believe that people should follow whatever rules a town, school district, business, or organization establishes. Being both fully vaccinated and boosted as well as recovered from covid…we’re essentially immune to it at this point. Yes…we could get reinfected with one of the variants but with vaccinations reinfections are almost exclusively mild to no symptoms. Despite that…we put on our masks if requested by a venue or business or whatever…that’s just common courtesy.

Less I be accused of only picking on those that favor mask mandates…I’m against pretty much any mandate pro or con regarding masks or vaccines for any kind of wide sweeping category like a state or city or federal workers or businesses over 500 or whatever. Mandates should be pushed down to the lowest level possible…individual schools for instance rather than entire districts…and the decision should be made apolitically…based on studies and scientific research. We’ve all seen how masks were not recommended to save them for health care workers to everybody wear them to wear them inside to the latest study from John Hopkins that said masks didn’t really have any effect on infection rates. The problem with “follow the science” is that various studies come to different conclusions based on how it was conducted and the parameters involved…and both sides in this debate blindly believe those studies that support their desired outcome and decry those that don’t as fake science.

As I said…shove them as far down the totem pole as possible and let school principals or store managers make the decision based on local conditions and whatever the best non politicized research says at the time…and make sure that you’re not only considering research that supports your desired outcome.

Anyway…Ms. Abrams…was recently photographed maskless while surrounded by masked school children. Despite her strident demands for mask mandates in schools…her photo op was more important to her. She almost immediately deleted the photo when the other side pounced on it…and claimed that the other side is pathetic for bringing it up. 

Ditto for the mayor of San Francisco, the CA governor, etc, etc.

Ditto for Marjorie Taylor Greene…and others on the other side who flagrantly flout the rules.

Moving on…as you saw on the news the President has vowed to appoint a black woman to the SCOTUS. That’s certainly his right but announcing it was both pandering to the progressive left as well as a dumb political decision. He could easily have had a broad spectrum of candidates and then chosen a black woman as the best qualified person…and looked good going that but instead it almost seems like that’s the only qualification she will need. It isn’t true…most of the women the talking heads are featuring seem qualified and the fact that they’re Democrats and left of center isn’t really surprising at all…but the politically smart thing to do would have not to make it seem like a quota.

Then there’s the Republican senator who demanded that a SCOTUS judge needed to know the law and not just the Prada catalog…again…just a dumb political statement as obviously a judge is going to know the law and just because they happen to be a loose constructionist instead of a strict constructionist doesn’t make them unqualified…political parties have been arguing that debate since the dawn of the Constitution.

Then there are the Democratic Senators who are already lined up to approve whoever and whichever black woman the President selects…and they’re not talking about qualifications but about how it’s important to both make this politically popular on the left appointment and to reverse the extreme partisanship of the current justices…even though all 9 of them are considered partisan by one or the other party…back to the strict/loose construction argument again on that one. I read today that back in Sep 2019 the former President nominated a black woman to be a district judge in TX…and 13 of the Democratic Senators voted against her…I guess in her case the fact that she was nominated by a Republican overrode their desire to diversify the court.

And this just in…it isn’t just politicians…Sports Illustrated announced a new advertising mandate for the May 22 Swimsuit Issue. Yeah…you know, the one with all of the scantily clad to not clad at all young ladies in swimming suits. I never thought it was anything but soft core porn myself since posing in a bikini isn’t athletic and this is Sports Illustrated but no matter. Anyway…the new advertising mandate is that in order to advertise in that issue a company must “be a brand that is helping to drive gender equity forward”…whatever that means. 

Stupid…all of them.

Then there’s the whole gerrymandering brouhaha but you only read about the evil red states doing it in most of the media you see…that happening in blue states is ignored. Going along with that…we keep reading all about the horrible voter suppression in red states but never in blue states…despite that fact that the rules for voting in Delaware for instance…the President’s home state…are far more restrictive than those in Georgia…which by the way are much less restrictive than the rules before the pandemic.

I don’t want to make it sound like it was all kumbaya back in the day…but it sure seems like at least most of the time our congress critters could negotiate and compromise with the other side to actually pass legislation that gave a little to each side and made the country a better place…and SCOTUS judges were routinely approved by almost unanimous approval in the Senate because in those days when compromise wasn’t a dirty word folks on both sides figured that the President got to pick the justice and just because he and the selection were in the opposite party didn’t make them unqualified. Different yes…but still qualified. 

Then we got into the internet driven 24 hour news cycle and media folk decided that reporting the news wasn’t important anymore…the important thing was to make and be the news and to vilify those who didn’t agree with your political views.

Sure wish we could go back…but it pro’bly ain’t happenin’. It would be so nice to have some smart, truthful politicians.

Enough of that though…

You’ll recall these two images of an Osprey and a Black Crowned Night Heron from my last post that Neil took at Circle Bar B.

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He decided to re-edit some of those photos with the latest additions to his post processing software arsenal…his new AI driven noise reduction one and his AI driven one that increases the resolution and sharpness like you see a lot on crime shows on TV.

Here’s what you get after those operations…he thinks they look considerably better.

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It’s pretty easy to see if you look at the feather details around the eyes and beak and that there’s something to that whole AI thing after all.

He got a couple shots out back of the lanai today…a Snowy Egret showed up and this one is pretty much full on with breeding plumage.

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He noticed this gator on our side of the pond while taking the above shots…this is the small gator only about 4 feet or so long.

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This is actually a Little Blue Heron…if you recall from previous shots they’re completely dark blue with reddish tints up around the neck…but those are adults. Juveniles are completely white and as they become teenagers on the way to being adults they become what is called a changeling and gradually change color.

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And one last shot of the Snowy reflected in the water.

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Interesting things found on the net.


You would never have guessed it…but from the northernmost point of Brazil it is closer to Canada than to the southernmost point of Brazil.





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

Day Trip to Circle Bar B Preserve

Well…Connie was off this week for a couple days up to Umatilla FL up northwest of Orlando ‘bout 30 miles for an Elks thing…as the Prez of the Ladies of Elks she needed to show up and donate some money from the ladies as well as hear a bunch of ‘em blather on about sometin’ or udder…and Neil decided that if she got to go prancing about the state he should to…so he scheduled himself a trip up to Circle Bar B Preserve in Lakeland.

CBB is a 1,300ish acre preserve on the shores of Lake Hancock in Lakeland which is about midway betwixt Tampa and Orlando…and naturally ya know that the wildlife is beast seen during golden hour in the morning which is the hour or so after sunrise. It’s about a 100 mile drive so last night on the way home from Tacos at the Elks he bought himself some strudel things for breakfast and set the alarm for 0400. He was out of the house about 0445 and after a quick stop for gas and coffee at our normal Circle K he hit the road. A couple exits up I-75 and he got off onto US-17 right before the highway crosses the Peace River to Port Charlotte then another 75 miles up US-17 to the preserve. The name of it come from the cattle ranch that formerly existed on the property before it was purchased by the SW Florida Water Management District for water management, flood control, and assorted other water related things. There are a bunch of trails through the preserve and Neil walked a couple of them today…the Heron Trail and Alligator Alley…the former is through the marsh and intersects with the latter that runs mostly on the edge of the lake, then there’s a cut through a forested section ack to the main parking area.

It was mighty dark on the way up and almost no traffic was seen until the last 20 miles or so as he got into Lakeland which is a decent sized city and it was going on rush hour by the time he got there…he arrived a few minutes before 0700 and sunrise was scheduled for 0712 so that’s just about right. He was trying out a new way to carry his stuff today…instead of a backpack he used a couple Black Rapid shoulder strap for the two lenses he took and moved his Nikon Z7II body back and forth between the 70-200mm lens (with and without his 1.4x and 2.0x teleconverters and his 500PF bird lens…when in the open the latter got more use but in more closely woods or brush areas the former so that he hopefully had the right lens on the body for whatever opportunities presented themselves. He also carried Connie’s Nikon Z50 with the 16-50mm lens on it for landscapes or broader field of view shots and was actually glad he did so. He coulda carried his 24-70 lens for that purpose but having the small/light Z50 body on his shoulder as well made things easier all the way around.

And actually…wildlife presented itself in pretty good abundance…including several species that are either hard to find or scarce…along with some nice mood shots as the sun came up.

So…on with the pictures.

Sun peeking over the horizon and actually across the lake although it’s not visible in this shot.

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Looking the other way…

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First bird of the day…Great Egret just a bit after the sunrise shots above.

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Nicely lit spider web in the backlight glow from sunrise…Neil had to do the artsy-fartsy flower and environmental shots since Connie wasn’t along.

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Little Blue Heron.

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Male Anhinga.

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Moorhens…there were a ton of these today.

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Great Blue Heron mid gulp of his breakfast.

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This is Alligator Alley along the same named trail…the lake is about 50 yards to the left of this canal.

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Great Blue Heron and reflection.

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The trail along Alligator Alley.

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Osprey flying in with take out for breakfast.

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And settling down to eat while keeping an eye out for any eagles which are bigger and can easily steal his meal.

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Black Crowned Night Heron…pretty scarce at least in the further south places we usually go.

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Another Moorhen…these guys have huge feet that are about 1/3 the length of its body across.

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Great Egret and reflection…and a male Anhinga to his right.

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Snowy Egret.

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Female Anhinga…she’s got the brown breast and back…he really likes the backlit feather detail.

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Gator our in the lake…which was amazingly calm. The horizon is actually in this shot but it was so foggy out on the water that the water/sky transition just faded away.

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The same view as above but with the wider angle on Connie’s Z50.

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A pair of squirrels hunting breakfast…

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Wood Stork.

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Another Snowy Egret through the Spanish Moss.

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And he flew down to a lower perch to eat.

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Great Blue Heron starting to get the male breeding plumage on the back of the head.

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Snowy and Great Egrets sharing a perch…this actually happens more often than you think it would.

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Yellow Rumped Warbler…guess you can tell how it got its name.

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And what it looks like from the front.

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And finally, a couple of shots from Oak Trail after he left the edge of the lake and headed back to the parking lot…good thing as the 3.5 mile hike plus standing around and walking back and forth for shots added up for him by this time…besides, it was going on 0845 by this time so the light wasn’t as nice any longer.

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And with that the day’s work was done…he got back in the car and was home shortly before noon…had a bit of lunch and a nap after the early start. Chatted with Connie a bit when he woke up about her day and such and then had a pot pie for dinner along with a glass of wine.

Interesting things found on the net.

Just a couple today since it’s already a photo intensive post.









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Almost Three Weeks of Nuttin’ Goin’ On

Yeah…that’s about it…although we do have some activities scheduled for the next couple of weeks. We did have a new grandchild welcomed to our extended family…Neil’s brother Ron welcomed the arrival of granddaughter Olivia Nell on the 13th so that’s good news. We went to the Elks Lodge a couple of times and had our normal Monday night Date Nite but that’s about it. Neil made some excellent beef bourguignon in the crock pot…essentially browned some short ribs and tossed them into the crockpot with some broth and a bottle of red wine and spices. Then a few hours later added a bag of frozen pearl onions and some sautéed quartered mushrooms along with some baby carrots…which by the way aren’t actually baby carrots but essentially full grown ones that get turned down on a veggie lathe to make the skinny ones you get in the bag from the store. Actual baby carrots look like whole carrots only smaller instead of the essentially cylindrical things you get in the bag. The only real drawback to the fake baby carrots is that…since they’re actually mature carrots…they’re a lot tougher than a real baby carrot is so even cooking ‘em in the crockpot for 6 hours they still are crunchy and taste raw…and we don’t think much ‘bout raw carrots ‘round here. So Neil baked ‘em in the oven for an hour before adding them to the crockpot and that ensured they were done. He made some roasted tater wedges to have in the dish as well and it were mighty tasty Ima tellin’ ya.

Over the next couple of weeks we do have some stuff goin’ on though. Connie’s headed up to Umatilla FL for an Elks thing a couple days next week…so Neil is going to drive up to Lakeland the day she’s gone to visit the Circle Bar B Preserve and see what kinda bird and other wildlife he can fine. It’s about 100 miles away and he needs to be there at sunrise (0700ish) so will have to set an alarm and head out early along with making sure all the camera batteries are charged and everything is ready to go the night before.

Then when Connie gets back we’ve got a Sarasota Orchestra concert on Sunday…assuming they don’t cancel it again.

The following week we’re planning on another couple days out for Fun Stuff©…this time it’s a repeat visit up to Black Point Wildlife Drive near Kennedy Space Center and then a second stop at Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive near Orlando…both of those will be early morning drives cuz that’s when the birds are active. Neil’s also planning another day trip down to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary but we haven’t scheduled that one yet, but mid Feb should be a good time for the water to be low enough that the wading birds will be there.

We’ve also got annual physicals and the associated pre visit lab tests coming up so the next 3 weeks or so are pretty busy on our calendar.

Weatherwise…it’s been a lot of cold days down here the past 2 weeks…lows in the 50s to high 40s and even in the 30s over the weekend. That’s crazy talk we think…FL is s’posed to be warm and sunny and this wearing jeans and hoodies is  nuts I tellya. I guess it’s better than up north though…we saw a report that there’s gonna be a metric buttload of snow up that way over the weekend…and with typical weather-guesser accuracy the prediction for NYC is…believe it or not…somewhere between a dusting and 20 inches. One would think they could do better at estimating than that.

Lessee…what else is goin’ on.

I guess ya read ‘bout Justice Breyer retiring from the SCOTUS…and predictably politicians, talking heads, influencers, media mouthpieces, and just about everybody else is commenting on it. You got some liberals claiming that this is a historic legacy influencing court appointment, you got some conservatives complaining about the nominee being a hard left activist even though he/she hasn’t even been named yet, you got your SC representatives demanding that it be a person from their state, you got your media mouthpieces crowing about how with the Veep’s vote they can pass the nomination without any votes from the other party and the Veep breaking the tie…and you’ve even got your far left constitutional scholars who said 18 months ago the the Veep doesn’t have the power to break the tie under the Constitution since the Veep isn’t a member of the Senate and thus cannot participate in the “advice and consent” part.

I thought about pointing out the huge number of lies, hypocrisy, and what not…but eventually decided to just point out a few inconsistencies. If you don’t want to read about them…skip down to the pictures…frankly neither side will come off looking very good here. 

Historically…SCOTUS justices who were going to retire announce that retirement near the end of a term (which is June) and they let the President know privately a few months ahead of time…but the White House keeps their mouth shut and let’s the justice announce it when he/she decides is the time. Apparently somebody in the White House…almost assuredly not the President…decided to leak the news though and force Justice Breyer’s hand in a formal announcement. It makes one wonder just who is actually in charge at the White House…and it certainly looks like some of the more progressive people on his staff are talking out of turn.

The President has preemptively announced that he will honor his previous promise to nominate a black woman for the court…he made that promise during the first debate in the fall of 2020…but apparently he forgot to make the announcement until Representative Clyburn went backstage during the last commercial break to twist his arm to do so. Now I’m of the opinion that any President should be free to nominate whoever they desire for a seat on the court…but announcing that it will be a black woman ahead of any vetting of nominees rubs me the wrong way. If he had announced that it would be a white male…the NAACP and progressive elements would have accused him of racism…so how is announcing that he will nominate a black woman not racist as well? It seems to me that any smart politician…even if he had already decided to nominate a black woman…would at least be smart enough to have a diverse short list and then pick her as the best qualified candidate to give a fig leaf to being fair. But again…smart and politician usually is an oxymoron. In addition to being apparently biased in even the candidate list…one has to wonder whether the black female nominee will feel diminished because she appears to be an affirmative action choice rather than a best qualified choice. Again…the President is free to choose whomever he likes just like the previous President was free to choose whomever he liked…but this is a pretty ham handed way to handle things…much akin to the “monkeys and a football” fiasco of the Iraq withdrawal back in the fall.

I remember back when Presidents chose who they wanted and mostly they were confirmed on a bipartisan basis regardless of politics…Justice Roberts was 78-22, Breyer 87-9, Sotomayor 68-31, Kagan 60-37, Bader Ginsburg 96-3…and every one of those justices was politically and judicially aligned with the President who nominated them. Only recently…particularly with the previous President…did things really start to get nasty, before President Trump you have to back to Justice Thomas in 1991 to find a mostly partisan confirmation vote. Unfortunately…today’s Senate when ruled by either party is much more about screwing the other party and getting your way instead of what is good for the country. Part of that is that the two parties have differing philosophies…and fundamental disagreements about what government should and should not do…but it’s gotten really nasty as time goes on and I don’t see it improving.

The Democrats are demanding a short confirmation process based on the short process that Justice Barrett had back in the fall of 2020…and while there’s some justification for that historically the process has been longer and at least one potential Republican senate supporter of the President’s nominee voted against Barrett’s nomination solely because of the short time period involved. That doesn’t seem like an approach to bipartisanship to me…but then again in today’s world bipartisanship is pretty much dead. However…after the deliberately contentious hearings that the previous President’s nominees were subjected to…if the Democrats think that the current President’s nominee won’t be subjected to the same aggressive questioning and rhetoric is ludicrous.

Finally…will the President’s nominee get confirmed? I dunno…there are a bunch of competing factors. First you have the Democrats who will lock step fall into line most likely and vote for confirmation…which gives them 50 votes. Then you have the other side who will mostly vote against her…although as I noted there are several senators on that side who have voted for Democratic presidential nominees in the past based on qualifications…unfortunately there aren’t very many Senators that look beyond party and at qualifications so that number is small. If those Senators follow their past history…and assuming the nominee is qualified even though being progressive is almost a given for a Democratic nominee…then she will be confirmed. If the other side votes in lockstep as the Democrats will…the vote could be tied 50-50…which makes things harder.

The constitution says that a nominee must get a majority…at this point it’s a simple majority due to the combat that majority leaders Reid and McConnell waged in the past…of the Senate under their advise and consent power. It also specifies who is in the Senate and that the Veep shall be the President of the Senate but shall have no vote unless to break a tie, as well as the fact that the Senate is empowered to make their own rules, but does not specifically make the Veep part of the Senate.

So…if they tie 50-50…which I personally do not think will happen as some Senate Republicans have shown the ability to look beyond party for judicial nominations recently…it all comes down to whether the Veep can legally break the tie.

Back in 2020…a well known strongly left constitutional scholar named Lawrence Tribe (he is a professor emeritus at Harvard Law School and pretty well respected for his legal opinions by both sides of the aisle) said that in his opinion under the Constitution the Veep does not have the power to break the tie…and this week he stated that he would still say that today…even though in this instance he wishes he didn’t have to say so since he wants a liberal confirmed to the court…at least he has the integrity to stick by what he said when he was in opposition to the President and Senate. So this is a highly trusted and lauded Democrat saying that she can’t legally break the tie. Part of his justification is that when you read the papers and letters of Alexander Hamilton from back in the Founding Fathers days said that the tie break was solely for bills and not for nominations. Of course…those papers aren’t part of the constitution itself but courts read them all the time when trying to determine the actual intentions of the writers of the constitution.

So…if it’s a 50-50 tie…it will eventually end up at the SCOTUS to determine whether she can vote I guess…although I’m quite sure that none of the justices on the court including the Chief Justice want to touch that argument with a 100 foot pole. The court will be accused of being politically motivated no matter what they rule…and really…depending on which sentence in the constitution you read and how you read it vis a vis the other relevant sentences in the constitution you could easily make a decent legal argument that she does have the right to break the tie…or that she does not have the right to break the tie. I have no idea how they would rule…my guess is that if possible they’ll not rule at all and try to figure out a way to not take up the case…which means it will bounce back to the Senate and who knows what will happen then. 

Frankly…what I think will happen is that enough Republican Senators will vote for qualifications and not for party to allow her to be confirmed…albeit after a bloody hearing process…and one side will proclaim a great moral victory while the other side will decry it as a sham political process and some will call it an affirmative action hire…and I think the nominee will be diminished by the appearance of being nominated because of gender and race…and that’s just a damned shame. Judges should be judged based on their qualifications and not their political leanings…but that gets back into the whole strict verses loose construction of the constitution. And the trouble here is…as noted above…that it depends on which sentence you decide takes precedence over the other sentences and how the words are interpreted.

So…we did have a few wildlife sightings out back the past couple of weeks.

Well actually…this one wasn’t out back but is a reprocessing of one of Neil’s shots from back in 2015 on our Alaska trip. He was trying out his new noise reduction software in combination with a new detail enhancing feature in Lightroom and they make the shot much better than it was before.

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Little Green Heron out back. They look like they have a really short neck but that’s because most of the time they keep it scrunched down…in reality they can just about double their body length by extending the neck.

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Tricolor Heron.

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Great Blue Heron in flight.

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Close up portrait of the Tricolor Heron.

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Interesting things found on the net.

Siberian tiger paw…next to a human hand…they’re pretty big cats up to about 500 pounds and 6-1/2 feet long not including the tail.











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

On The Actual Performance Of Fun Stuff©

Before I get into that though…Ima gotta tellya that Ima gettin’ pretty darned unhappy with the ridiculous claims, counterclaims, lies, distortions, and completely BS claims of both sides far reaches of our political spectrum. From vaccines to masks to insurrections to peaceful protests to universal health care to rights guaranteed in the constitution to rights that were invented in the constitution to rights that are required to be unlimited to rights that can be reasonably limited to…and on and on and on.

It’s just a bunch of crap…both sides taking political shots at the other side and doing all of the above stuff to rile up people. Over the past couple of decades the fringes have continuously moved outwards to the outer fringes and despite being a significant minority in the country both sides fringe idiots…and that’s exactly what they are, idiots…have an increasingly large say in determination of the policies and nominees of both parties and an increasingly large portion of the people that are middle right to center to middle left have no real say in who gets nominated for election but all too often those folks in the middle-ish who actually determine who wins the election…there aren’t enough fringe people on either side to really matter overall…so we get to choose from between bad alternatives. Makes me think that Neil’s longstanding idea on elections has considerable merit. He says that in every election there should be the candidates and that “None of the above” should also be on the ballot…and if “None” wins then there must be a new election and none of the previous candidates can run. This would encourage bipartisanship and reaching out to voters in the middle and on both sides to elect people who actually believe in doing the job they were elected to do and run the country/state/city/whatever…instead of the current situation which essentially is that an elected official’s primary duty is to oppose whatever the other side wants.

Not going to list all the examples of sheer stupidity and hypocrisy today…ya’ll all know what they are. Connie thinks I bash the idiots too much here but much like our friend Randy Cassingham from
 I think I really roast the obliviots on both sides pretty much equally. Speaking of This is True…ya oughta go and check it out. It’s a free weekly newsletter that includes actual news stories from around the world rewritten in a humorous style to encourage people to think…he calls it thought provoking entertainment and social commentary…and if ya like it there’s also a premium version which is pretty cheap that includes no advertisements and twice as many stories. In fact…obliviots is a word he coined…it’s a combination of oblivious and idiot…and Randy is one of the earliest members of the internet related created economy we have today…he’s been publishing it since 1994 and has made a full time living from it since not too long after that. Check it out.

Anyways…Fun Stuff©.

We had a pretty nice holiday…I guess. Connie tripped back before Christmas and bumped her noggin on the floor in the kitchen. No serious damage done and she was mostly fine but had a 1/4 inch or so long split in her scalp up under her bangs. Neil took her down to the urgent care clinic and they put a staple in it to hold it together…then a day or so later she come down with fever and headache. He took her back and they made sure she had not had a concussion and it turned out that she caught the flu from her previous visit to the same urgent care center…fever was too low and the symptoms came on too fast to be covid and we’re fully recovered, vaccinated, and boosted anyway…but he told her to isolate from people anyway until no fever for 24 hours. So there went Christmas Midnight (at 1600) Mass the day before which bummed her out since she really looks forward to the pre-Mass concert. And there went a planned trip up to Midlothian VA to see the human kids and Alex.

Instead…we stayed home and Neil cooked a chicken…smoked it spatchcock style and then put it on the grill to crispy up the skin…it was good. We did nothing the week between Xmas and New Years since she was feeling bad…low grade fever and lots of headaches are the primary symptoms of whatever flu is going around down here according to the docs. New Years Eve we watched Alabama beat Cincinnati in the playoff semifinal…then Neil did a ham for New Years and by early last week she was feeling better albeit really bummed out since we had been doing nothing.

So…Neil scheduled us a trip down to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary last Thursday. Corkscrew is owned and operated by the National Audubon Society and is a 13,000ish acre wetlands/pine forest nature preserve down on the western edge of the Everglades. Home to all the usual suspects for SW Fl…gators, birdlife of all kinds, and other critters…it’s $100 for a yearly membership for 2. It’s located about 30 miles south of us and 20 or so miles east.

We figured it was a mite early in the year for most of the wading birds since the winter is the dry season down here and the water probably hadn’t really receded enough for the waders to be here…and as it turned out we were correct…but given our increasing unhappiness with doing nuttin’…it was still a worthwhile trip.

We got an 0800 reservation for our free admission…unlimited visits instead of $17/person/day…is included in the annual fee…sunrise is about 0730ish this time of the year and ya gotta be there early if you want to see the birds. It’s about a 2.6 mile hike around the boardwalk…the entire circuit is on a raised boardwalk since all of it is either underwater or marshy/wet for at least part of the year and some of it is wet year round. They’ve implemented some covid restrictions…reservations required and one way traffic on the boardwalk for the most part…but being outside and in the breeze no masks are required except in the buildings. As expected…on the clockwise one way path you start around the left side and that’s mostly the pine forest/plain/savannah sort of environment. Few birds there although we did find some very fresh raccoon tracks on the boardwalk where they climbed the posts and used it to move around. Once you get to the far end and turn around the 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock portion of the essentially oval loop you’re into the swamp areas which are always wet…and sure enough…the water was still too high for most of the birds…we’ll make another trip down there next month sometime and expect to see many more. Despite the water though…we did get a few sightings and Ima gonna put some photos down below.

We got back to the visitor center about 1045 and headed home for the remainder of the day.

Let’s see…what else is going on. Nope, I got nuttin’ else for ya…you’re pretty much up to date…so let’s get into the photos from the other day…there are a few included that Neil got out back of the lanai on the pond. I’ll point those out when they come up but it’s probably not necessary as regular readers will recognize the pond. Oh yeah…Neil did buy himself a couple of camera things…a 1.4x and 2.0x teleconverter in the Nikon Z mount continuing his transition to mirrorless cameras and also ordered a 100-400mm zoom lens but the latter is back ordered at the moment. Still…the two teleconverters came in handy on the trip the other day. He also bought himself a new noise reduction program…it uses AI to remove noise and enhance sharpness on photos…and is pretty much magic. It gets used early in the post processing process so the noise is gone before he starts adjusting color, exposure, crop and so on. So…on to pictures. These are a mix of shots from Neil’s Z7II and Connie’s Z50…she’s really happy to have a longer lens now so she can get some wildlife shots.

Oh yeah…I almost fergot…our local eagle couple Harriet and M15 have two new baby eaglets…E19 and E20. They were hatched on Dec 27 and 28 and are doing well…ya can follow their progress
. This was taken on NYE…they’re getting bigger already.


Great Blue Heron and a male Anhinga out back

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This little guy…again out back…is called a changeling. It’s actually a Little Blue Heron…which regular readers will recognize as usually being a dark blue bird with a red/purple neck and head area. However…that’s the adult version, juveniles are pure white and then they spend some time as a changeling before becoming adults. We’ve seen this one several times over the past month or so and either there’s more than one visiting the pond or he’s changing into adult plumage faster than we thought they did.

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This is the pine savannah/forest/plain area on the left side of the boardwalk. Looking southwest here although the pine section vs the swamp section is a matter of elevation difference and not really anything to do with direction…the difference in elevation is only 3 or 4 feet but that makes all the difference in what grows and thrives there.

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A section of the boardwalk in the swamp area.

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Raccoon tracks…these were early in the circuit on the pine/sunny side.

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These next two require a bit of ‘splainin. Much like the Rock Bears one sees up in Alaska, the Bush Moose up in Maine, and the Stump Birds that you see in the forest a lot…this is an example of what we call a Tree Owl.

Not an actual owl of course…or a bear or bird either for that matter…but out in the woods ya see a lot things that initially catch your eye as being something that on further review as they say turn out to be just conveniently shaped twigs or shadows or scars or fungi or whatever that calls to mind something…hence the aforementioned names. This is exactly the same shot twice…but the second one Neil did some Lightroom magic to highlight the Tree Owl. See if you can find it first though.

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Yep, there on the tree…looks a lot like a Barred Owl which is either brownish or grayish depending and they perch on trees a lot so their coloration conveniently…for them but not so much for their prey…blends into the background of the tree. He’s highlighted the section…you can see the whitish area on the face with the darker beak in the midland the mottled body below that with the whitish underside of the tail feathers at the bottom. Fooled him for a few seconds as he pulled up the camera though.

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Red Bellied Woodpecker from the back…this particular species has the black and white checked back and the bright red cape/cowl on the back of his head but not the front. It would have been called…probably…the Red Headed Woodpecker except that name was already taken for another species that has an entire red head like it was dunked in the paint can.

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Woodpecker nest…we think.

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Great Egret fishing.

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Black Vulture.

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Black Throated Blue Warbler…and yes…I know it’s neither black throated or blue…but this is the female which…just like the Red Wing Blackbird…is considerably less colorful than the male of the species. The boys need to be pretty to attract the ladies ya know.

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Male Anhinga…the female has a brown neck and head but is otherwise similar.

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Pileated Woodpecker…about twice the size of the Red Bellied above…you’ll recognize it as the namesake of Woody the Woodpecker cartoons from your younger days. There were actually a pair of these in the same area as another Red Bellied. Unfortunately…neither of them really came out into the open for a really great shot but these are better than average poses for them…they’re not all that common.

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White Ibis.

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With the exception of the couple of ‘what it looks like’ shots at the beginning…the wildlife shots are pretty much in order as we went around, the squirrel and female warbler were up at the far end turnaround just before we headed into the swampy section of the boardwalk. 

We were pretty tired by the time we got back…haven’t done much hiking for the past almost 2 years due to the covid and we really need to get out more and do cool stuff…and not the least because Neil will get me cool pictures to post. He’s scheduled already a trip back up to Black Point Wildlife Drive and Lake Apopka Drive for next month……and we’ll do a day trip to Venice Rookery and get back to Corkscrew as well…it’s mating/nesting season down here now and you get both a much higher concentration of wildlife as well as they’re all dressed in their finest mating plumage in order to impress the ladies…or guys in the female case.

Interesting things found on the net.


No one is immune I guess.


Just in case you ever want to be able to find the state of Kentucky on a map of the USA.


A few interesting map comparisons…

The US vs the size of India.


And compared to China…although at 1.5 billion they have over 4 times our 330 million population.


Everybody knows that Texas is pretty big…the largest state outside of Alaska but how does it compare to Africa?


And a couple example of why the founding fathers insisted that our country is a union of states and not one large company…just in case the name United States of America doesn’t give you a clue.

Fifty percent of the US population lives in the red shaded area. Notice that it’s heavily slanted towards densely populated urban coastal cities.



The orange area and the red area have equal population.



These last two maps illustrate why the Electoral College is a good idea…it keeps a relatively small area of the country from imposing whatever political will they have on the larger portion…it was the same idea back when the EC was invented by the founding fathers although for a different reason…back then they didn’t want the cities of NY and Boston to run the country despite what the more agricultural states with fewer people per square mile thought should happen. I’m not opposed to the idea that some folk don’t like the idea of the EC…what I am opposed to is attempts to end run around it because they don’t like how it works. There’s a way to get rid of it…way back when the aforementioned founding fathers included in the constitution a way to amend it as times change…but by design they made amending it really hard because they thought that any changes to the founding law of the land should require buy in from most of the population…hence the requirement that 2/3 of both houses of Congress approve it…that’s 67 Senators and 291 Representatives then it must be approved by 3/4 of the states…or 38 states. It’s supposed to be hard.

There go those silly mathematicians again…this week’s installment is something known as narcissistic numbers. That’s any number that is the sum of the cubes of it’s digits.

N narcissisticNumber

Now I understand the concept here and it’s not really surprising that some numbers exist such that this rule holds true…but it’s another in a long line of utterly useless trivia that those nerds come up with.

Ima still waitin’ on somebody to ‘splain to me just why all these numerical concepts exist. Some of them have uses but there are way too many that seemingly exist just to get the discoverer’s name out there or to impress the other nerds with what they figgered out.

And finally…since it is…er, was…the holidays ya know…




Posted in Critters, Hiking, Photography, WIldlife | 4 Comments


Ya know…everybody talks about the good weather down here in Florida…but we got your hot, humid, sticky summers so it’s not all roses ya know. We do have nice winters…but in the summer we have thunderstorms and tropical storms and all but winter…and well spring and fall as well…are pretty darned nice mostly.

Hurricanes…yeah, we got ‘em. Tornadoes though…not so much.

At least until Tuesday…although it really wasn’t much as tornadoes go.

Up our way in North Fort Myers…we had pretty strong winds most of the morning…generally in the 30s but with gusts up to the high 40s range but they had most died down by early afternoon…and then we saw on the news that a tornado had touched down in South Fort Myers about 13 miles as the heron files South Southeast of our location. It was only an EF 1 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale so it was the second smallest one that would get called a tornado instead of a whirlwind or whatever a tornado wannabe gets called. EF 0 is for winds from 40 to 72 and EF 1 is 73 to 112 so at 95 mph this one was just about in the center of the EF 1 range. It was on the ground for about 2 minutes, 50 yards wide, and had a path about a mile long so forward speed was 15 miles an hour heading North Northeast…if it had continued on a straight line it would have passed 4 or 5 mies east of us 20 or 30 minutes or so later but it dissipated. It was early in the morning about 0630 and at the time the winds were from the northeast before shining around to the southeast and then south by 1000 or so…I’m not sure why it headed northeast instead of southwest which was the prevailing wind direction at the time…at least up in our neighborhood. Total damage was less than $500K and with the exception of one car damaged by a falling palm tree and a single minor injury the damage was confined to patio furniture and pool/lanai screen enclosures.

Magnolia Landing had all the recycle and garbage cans blow over on their sides…Tuesday is our pickup day and they were all out from the night before. That meant that a lot of recycled beer cans, plastic bottles, and cardboard got scattered all over creation and those folks who had loose garbage in their cans instead of having it in bags had to pick up all that crap from the front yard…at least that part that wasn’t blown down the street. Our recycle bin fell over so Neil just brought it up to the garage door out of the wind and then when we heard the truck he ran out and pulled it across the other side of the cul-de-sac street we live on so the auto lift truck could dump it as he came back down the other side. Our garbage can was fine…partly because all of our garbage was in bags as it should be but mostly because Neil had tossed in a dozen busted hard drives he has collected over the years…and the extra 20 pounds or so for them all fell to the bottom of the can and lowered it’s center of gravity so it stayed upright most of the morning…although it did tip over late morning in the worst part of the wind so he just positioned it so the lid wouldn’t blow open and scatter stuff.

Then after that…it was 49 degrees over night into this morning…I dunno who ordered that temperature but whoever it was is just wrong. It aint’ s’posed to be like that here…any temperature that starts with 4 is definitely prohibited and mostly any one starting with 5 never happens either. Low temps are gradually going to warm up through the end of the year with highs also slowly warming to the mid 80s by late next week.

We got all of our Christmas decorating done this week…Neil and Connie had already put the wreath on the door and the lights on the bushes…one of our strings got cut somehow by the yard guys so he used our last spare strip to get back decorated…we’ll buy some more spares after Christmas when they’re on half price sale. Over last weekend we…well Connie mostly…Neil assembled the tree into it’s stand. We bought it last year and it’s got lights and some decorations permanently attached so his part took just a few minutes then she took over the remainder.

Connie tripped the other night and banged her head on the floor…it was still bleeding after the overnight (we thought it was stopped) so he took her down in the AM to the urgent care clinic and they put a staple in it…Neil said that if he knew they were gonna do that he coulda saved the trip since he’s got a staple gun out in the garage. It’s a small split up under her bangs from where she hit the floor…and she’s got some aches and pains from bouncing off the floor and…we think…the side of the freezer door in the fridge. She’s getting better though…and we’ll have to go get the staple removed next week sometime.

Connie has an extra choir rehearsal today and then a busy weekend…she’s singing at Midnight Mass Friday…which actually happens at 1600…Florida and old people ya know…and then at both 0800 and 1000 on Christmas morning. While she’s doing that…he will be baking the Pecan Pie Brownies we’re having for dessert. He’s got a whole chicken brining out in the fridge in the garage that he’s gonna spatchcock and grill on Christmas…we’ll have a baked winter squash to go along with it and whatever else they decide to make.

Nothing much else planned though.

He did get one shot out back this week…this Great Blue Heron which took off shortly after he got the shot. It was just sitting there and waiting to fly…he stood out ready to shoot for a bit and naturally it didn’t move…at least not until 2 seconds after the lanai screen door closed as he came in after giving up. Our local eagles Harriet and M15 are brooding a pair of eggs with expected hatchings on the 26th and 29th. 

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You probably saw where Senator Manchin put the kibosh on the Build Back Better plan over the weekend…he kept telling them it was too expensive and they were using budget gimmicks to hide the true cost and that creating a permanent welfare class wasn’t good for the country…but they ket pushing and browbeating and social media complaining and trying to force him to do it their way…until he finally just said basically “What part of No do you not understand?”. Most of his constituents are against the bill…75% by the poll we saw…and the man is a smart politician so that combined with his real concerns about the cost of the bill and the fact that the free money programs in it will never be cancelled no matter who is in charge in Congress and the White House make his opposition seem pretty normal.

We keep hearing these booms in the neighborhood…there is construction going on both east and west of us (further to the front and back of the community. Most of them are dull booms that are clearly explosions and the house rattles a bit. However…the ones the last couple of days have sounded more like a dumpster getting dragged across concrete than a boom but they still make the house rattle. We haven’t figured out what is different about them. 

Interesting things found on the net.

Ya know those nachos you get at the ball park or football stadium with the gooey melted cheese like substance on top of them? Well…although it’s not really cheese but just cheese like stuff…the chemical that makes it ooey-gooey and creamy is named  Sodium Citrate. Interestingly enough…here’s the formula for Sodium Citrate.







A few late but Thanksgiving related ones.

The Octo-Crab-Turrkey



Working around the clock


Ima really sure I don’t want any of this perfume.

Ass fragerances

Cats playing Spin the Bottle.


And finally…



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Off To The Symphony

Ok, lessee what’s been happenin’ since Turkey Day…or as we called it ‘round here Duck Day.

Alabama wrapped up the SEC championship with a thrilling come from behind 4 overtime victory over Auburn in the Iron Bowl…in most years the respective quality of the tow teams and the season records have nothing to do with how close or run away the game is…and this year was no exception. Auburn played inspired defense and had a 0-10 lead over the Tide into the 4th quarter but a field goal and then a clutch 97 yard drive in the last minute and a half or so of the game with a TD pass at 24 seconds remaining sent the game into overtime and after swapping CDs and field goals in the first two extra periods it came down to 2 point conversions. Third overtime both were successful and in the 4th a defender tipped away Auburn’s pass attempt followed by a slick move by one of the Tide’s receivers to get open and tiptoe into the end zone for the winning points.

The next week…it was off to Atlanta for the SEC championship…but we had wrapped up the SEC West the week before so regardless of the Iron Bowl were headed to Atlanta. Everybody expected a defensive battle and it started that way with Georgia having a 0-10 lead early in the second. We then scored on 5 consecutive possessions to put the game away midway through the 3rd quarter and then dominated defensively on the way to a 41-24 victory, a Heisman moment for the ‘Bama QB Bryce Young, and the top seeding in the playoffs…we’ll play Cincinnati on New Years Eve and Georgia and Michigan will play that evening for berths and a potential rematch in the championship.

Young went on to win the Heisman Trophy yesterday…that’s 4 of the past 13 despite having never won one before…and despite a bunch of really good QBs over the years (Starr, Namath, Tua, Mac Jones and others he’s the first QB winner from the school…and it looks like Georgia’s defensive coordinator is headed to Oregon…it remains to be seen whether he’ll coach through the playoffs or get replaced.

Other than that…nuttin’ is really going on. We went down the the Elks a couple times, Connie’s cantored…a lot…and we’re headed off to Sarasota this afternoon for the second Masterworks series concert. And it’s Alex’s birthday…so we’ll give him a call and wish him a happy 7th birthday this evening on the way home after the concert and dinner at our usual Longhorn Steakhouse.

We had our annual termite inspection…no issues…and our quarterly pest control visit…no issues there either but we did get him to spray for the centipedes. We’ve seen a couple of them inside the house but that’s pretty much a way of life down here.

We’re looking forward to the holidays…probably do a spatchcocked chicken on the barbie as they would say down under in Aussieland.

We got our Moderna COVID booster shots and also had a very nice dinner for Connie’s birthday on Dec 2. We did the shots the afternoon of her birthday since we knew whatever side effects we had would not happen until the next day…then headed down to a place named Deep Lagoon…had some excellent oysters and lobstah bisque along with a bottle of vino. The guy next to her at the bar used to be the manager there and it was his birthday…so they brought him out 4…count ‘em 4…desserts…chocolate cake, chocolate mousse pie, cheesecake, and I canna ‘member the last one. He offered us one since he wasn’t going to eat them all…the cheesecake and the canna ‘member one were already spoken for and Connie picked the mousse as it would be light. The chocolate cake looked good…but it was really dark and would obviously be rich and heavy…and it was Connie’s birthday after all so he let her pick…and the mousse was pretty darned good.

Friday we ran a bunch of errands…did the Bingo deposit, picked up a Walmart grocery pickup order, and picked up an Italian sausage sandwich from the place outside Home Depot that we brought home for lunch. The plan was to run down to the pool area at dinner since there was a cheese steak sandwich truck coming in…but that was a bust. We got there about 1715 or so and had at least a dozen to fifteen people in front of us. After waiting over 15 minutes…we had seen exactly 3 sandwiches delivered to hungry customers…obviously they weren’t really prepared for a crowd and no sandwich is worth an hour plus wait in our opinion. So we bailed and had a frozen pizza instead. Then Connie had cantor duty for Saturday afternoon Mass so we had leftover chicken thigh stir-fry for dinner after Mass.

This week Jussie Smollet was convicted of masterminding the hoax hate crime up in Chicago back in 2020…like anybody really believed that there were a couple of MAGA folk running around downtown Chicago at 2AM. His case quickly became a ‘cause’ after it happened and everybody from the President on down decried the hate crime against him…again without bothering to get any of the facts. The original case was wrongfully dismissed by the local DA but after her whitewash of the entire lying incident a special prosecutor was quickly appointed that resulted in new charges. Clearly the jury believed the prosecution’s case or else they would not have convicted him…but naturally the left is screaming about the wrongful conviction by the ‘biased justice system’. Sheesh…just like in the other two politically charged cases recently…I wish people would actually get the facts before coming to their own biased conclusion and then putting it in the media like Moses coming down from the mountain.

Then there was the McDonald’s CEO. In April, a 7 year old girl was killed in a drive by shooting in one of their parking lots in Chicago…and in this case the father was fully aware that the other gang was after him to kill him…then a few weeks later a young black man was killed at 0230 in the morning running from police with a weapon in his hand…video showed that he tossed the gun a second or so before being shot. The CEO of McDonalds tweeted that both shootings were tragic but that in both cases the parents failed the child…the father of the girl for taking her out in the car while being hunted by another gang and the parents of the second for letting him run around at 0230 in the morning with a weapon. Interestingly…his tweet did not blame the usual suspects of racism and rogue cops…but pointed the finger at the parents. 

Nonetheless…activist groups decried his tweet as

“ignorant, racist and unacceptable.”


“You relied on lazy, outdated and racist stereotypes in order to uphold the status quo and avoid accountability for those in power,” the groups wrote. “As the leader of one of the world’s largest private employers and most iconic brands, you have a responsibility to do so much better.”

at which point the CEO immediately apologized and met with 100 pastors and community leaders in the city to bow and beg forgiveness for his sins. Even the WSJ said that he was “stating a plain truth that is surely shared by a an overwhelming majority of rational adults.”

What the heck has happened to personal responsibility in America?

And in
another video
by the legal eagle…it turns out that the judge in the Rittenhouse case might not have been so racially and defense biased as the media and left have repeatedly claimed…once again a rational analysis of the actual laws, facts, and judicial norms might lead an unbiased person to think that just maybe the judge did his job and wasn’t in the tank for the defense.

And just so you wont’ think we only skewer the left…we’re equal opportunity pointers out of behavior by idiots of either party…the President hosted a virtual Democracy Summit this week…and while this is a dumb concept in general that’’s not really the point. As part of his introductory speech…he said that all men and women were created equal and had a right to lift, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…and while this isn’t exactly the wording of the Declaration of Independence it seems to me to be a perfectly reasonable adaptation. Back then…women didn’t have too many rights but we’re more enlightened today…so I really don’t see any problem with it.. However…Fox News host
Tammy Bruce thinks it’s an issue
. Frankly…we don’t watch Fox except for their sports events…and I’ve never even heard of this woman…but she’s apparently a self described out of the closet lesbian feminist…so rather than accept this as a progressive step towards inclusion…she immediately went on a tirade about “sleepy Joe” and how his words were “not what the founders wrote” and “the sacred words of our founders weren’t inclusive enough for sleepy Joe, so he corrected them.”

In this case…I have to agree with those on the left who said that’s she’s just an idiot.

We did get a few more wildlife shots for ya…

White Ibis

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Another Great Blue Heron…why do wading birds stand on one leg so much I wonder

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And a couple of shots of an Osprey who was fishing in our pond…unfortunately Neil wasn’t able to get either of the splashes but did get him right after takeoff from the second unsuccessful attempt.

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And the little ‘gator was back up on the bank on our side of the pond again.

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And since it’s Alex’s birthday…here’s a shot of him on his actual birthday. He’s bigger now of course…and recently got glasses but that was expected as his parents and grandparents all have them.

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Interesting things found on the net.

In honor of Keith Richards (front man for The Rolling Stones) upcoming birthday this week.



This is an Organ Pipe Cactus…notice the person down at the base…figuring it’s an average sized man this makes the cactus 50ish feet tall. It was identified as a Saguaro Cactus by the guy (Massimo) that posted it on twitter but he was quickly corrected.



There’s this concept called Pi-ish which is when you make up sentences that actually make sense using words that have a number of letters in them conforming to the digits of pi.




This is apparently not a real road name out in Colorado…but the name of a private road/drive…but it’s still a great name for a road.






And finally…



Posted in Homebody, Photography, WIldlife | Leave a comment

Happy Thanksgiving E’vrybody

Yep…have a happy one today and don’t eat too much…or at least get yerself a turducken…John Madden’s favorite meal of a deboned chicken stuffed inside a deboned duck stuffed inside a deboned turkey with layers of sausage stuffing and cornbread stuffing inside. We’ve never had one at our house for a couple reasons…first off Neil don’t do turkey for this holiday and second the thing weighs 17 or so pounds and since the birds are deboned it is al meat and while we dearly love meat of all types that’s just way too danged much and we would be eating it for weeks.

Do we love meat? Sure we do…as we’re fond of saying ‘round here “there’s room for all of God’s creatures, right next to the mashed potatoes.

We’re having a duck breast with raspberry/orange/habanero sauce, some pumpkin puree with brown sugar and cinnamon and some left over garlic/parmesan mashed potatoes from last night…along with a nice bottle of Pinot Noir and then some blueberry/apricot crisp for desert.

So…have a great day and pay no mind to the woke liberals who claim the holiday is racist and historically inaccurate. Yes, the Indians fed the English settlers and it wasn’t the whole kumbaya thing of lore…but we all learned that back in our grammar school years. And yes…the behavior of the colonists and the early history in what became the US of A was racist…by today’s standards. However, it wasn’t racist by the standards of the day and it’s fundamentally dishonest to judge behavior and policies of 200 odd years ago by today’s differing standards…just like it will be dishonest to judge today’s behavior and policies by whatever standards exist in 2221 and later. Times, social mores, and attitudes change…as well as laws so let us just judge behavior by the prevailing standards of whatever time period we’re talking about.

Lessee…what’s new.

Last Friday morning we headed up to the Gainesville area for the Mid Year Elks Convention. We weren’t attending it but Connie as a junior delegate or alternate delegate or whatever she is (arguably both according to Neil but her mileage may vary) needed to attend a single meeting on Saturday morning so we made the 200 or so mile drive up on Friday mid day…and I gotta tell ya the idiot drivers were out in force. The whole way up I-75 it was like rush hour on the beltway in DC…too many people following too closely with a series of idiots weaving back and forth much faster than the traffic flow in general so they could get there 2 minutes early…and the idiots included at least 2 unmarked police cars who were at least 20 miles an hour faster than traffic with no lights on and no use of blinkers before merging into a space about 1.5 car lengths long at 90 mph.

On the good side…Saturday was also Neil and Connie’s 45th anniversary so in lieu of celebrating on Saturday they moved their dinner out to Friday night and headed over to Mark’s Prime Steaks and Seafood for dinner. They had Happy Hour in the bar before checking in for their reservation at 1830 and had a great dinner…petite filet for Connie and lamb chops for Neil…both were excellent but even Connie agreed that the lamb chops were better. They split a side of lyonnaise potatoes and had enough of them, the steak, and the lamb to make hash with eggs for dinner on Sunday evening. A nice glass of wine for each of them and they split a creme brûlée for dessert before heading back to the hotel. They were up early the next morning for a pretty decent pair of breakfast sandwiches from the cafe downstairs then she was off to her meeting. She was done about 1030 or so and we were all back home by early afternoon.

Let’s see what’s in the news…

I reckon everybody has seen the results of the Rittenhouse trial out in Wisconsin…acquitted on all counts…but that seemed like it was an easy conclusion with the evidence that was presented during the trial. Nonetheless…the outcome is being labeled as “no justice”, “a travesty”, and “clear proof that the system is biased against non whites and stacked in favor of whites” by our friends in the media and far left. Unfortunately…it seems that those folks don’t believe in having the justice system work the way it is designed and supposed to work but are only interested in the outcome they demand.

Let’s face it…the kid was crucified and convicted in the media and by the woke lefties long ago…and also by the President, administration, and most of the Democrats in Congress. Never mind that folks in authority…like the President for instance…should refrain from prejudging situations.

Let me say up front…the young man was a complete idiot…as are most teenagers…in going over to the demonstration and in taking a weapon with him. However…neither of those actions was or is illegal…and he had homes in both Kenosha and across the river in Illinois so it really isn’t like he came from a long distance to insert himself into the riot. Nonetheless…his actions were stupid but being stupid…again…isn’t illegal.

The issue came down to the fact that he shot 3 people, 2 of them fatally…and whether that was justified or not. By longstanding common law and US law…he is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a jury of his peers…and that guilt must evaluate ONLY the evidence produced during the trial…and that guilt must be based on each and every stipulation of the elements of the offense. The 12 jurors…including 7 women and 5 men and which included 1 black man…unanimously found that the prosecution had not met its burden…and if that is true then acquittal is required. Note…acquittal doesn’t mean not guilty…it means the the prosecution didn’t prove it’s case beyond a shadow of a doubt.

There’s this lawyer who publishes YouTube videos under a channel named Legal Eagle…in which he explains the law and what it says but evaluates it for particular cases. From reviewing his videos, law firm page, and wikipedia page he appears to be left of center but not severely left. However…he rarely takes an official position on the cases he examines one way or the other…he just explains the law and why what happened…happened. Go and take a
gander at this video
…it’s about 25 minutes long but I’ll wait. He discusses a bunch of details about self defense, the differing laws in different states, provocation, whether that invalidates self defense claims and a lot more in way more logical and understanding the legal system than I can do.

For those of you who didn’t watch the whole video…here’s the Cliff Notes (are those even a thing anymore?) version.

The prosecution charged him with various counts of homicide and unlawful possession of a firearm and violating curfew…but did not charge him with any of the lesser included offenses in the various homicide counts. Prosecutors frequently decline to charge the lesser included offenses if they think they have a strong case so as to prevent the jury from acquitting on the worst charges but convicting on a lesser charge with a shorter prison sentence. It’s a gamble on their part…but you pays your money and you takes your chances.

Rittenhouse said that it was self defense. The definition of that term differs by state and includes various requirements as to provocation, duty to flee, stand your ground, reasonable assumption by the defendant, and a whole bunch of other things that…again…differ by state. Self defense is what is known as an affirmative defense…in other words the defendant says “I shot him but it was self defense” which means it can’t be an illegal homicide.

In Wisconsin…and again this differs by state…once self defense is claimed then the prosecution has to prove…again beyond a reasonable doubt…that it was NOT self defense or else the defendant cannot be convicted. As discussed in the video…and again I think you should watch it regardless of your position on his guilt or not…if it is reasonable that he feared for his life then his actions were justified. In the video…he states that if the survivor of the shooting had instead killed Rittenhouse with the handgun he pulled and pointed at Rittenhouse then he would also have been able to claim self defense and given the other evidence it would have been reasonable to conclude that he feared for his life. It’s as simple as that.

The woke articles and complaints about the system being rigged for white defendants and rigged against black/brown/non white defendants is just so much BS…none of the people in this case were non white…and this case was solely about a single instance.

So…back to the trial…the prosecutor was an even bigger idiot than Rittenhouse was…he did lousy witness preparation, he failed to keep the defense from attacking prosecution witness credibility, and just generally did a lousy job while assuming he had an airtight case.

After the evidence was finished but before jury deliberations…the judge dismissed the illegal weapon charge and the out after curfew charge entirely…the first one because weapon was actually not illegal under Wisconsin law and the second because while he was violating curfew all of the rioters were also violating curfew and none of them were charged.

He did allow the prosecution to include the lesser included charges in the homicide counts after the fact…which seems to me to be fundamentally unfair. Either charge them at the beginning and risk the jury convicting on one of those instead or stick with the higher charge and take your chances.

So…jury deliberations. I’ll grant that only the jury and anybody who watched the entire trial on TV saw all the evidence…but that which was shown on the news sites clearly to any unbiased or “my mind’s made up, don’t try to convince me with the facts” person demonstrated that a reasonable person could conclude that Rittenhouse reasonably feared for his life in all 3 shootings. In one…a person attacked him with a skateboard and tried to take his weapon, in another the attacker said “I’m going to kill you”, and in the third the attacker pointed his weapon at Rittenhouse…even the prosecutions own video showed that and the surviving attacker admitted he pointed his weapon at Rittenhouse. 

Therefore…under the law and not the demands of the media and left…the jury obviously had to acquit…but again that does not mean not guilty…it means the prosecution failed to surmount the “beyond a reasonable doubt” bar for each and every element in the “it was not self defense” requirement.

As I said…the kid was beyond stupid…but that isn’t illegal. His attackers were also stupid…at least 2 of them for using a skateboard to attack a guy with with a rifle. However…they were also at the riot and the rioters were destroying property…again stupid on their part.

In my view…the system worked as designed…which has nothing to with guilt or innocence…it has to do with that whole “beyond a reasonable doubt” requirement that the prosecution is required to meet for conviction.

The trial down in Georgia of the three guys that shot Arbery turned out differently…we always thought that they had a higher probability of being convicted than Rittenhouse…but I really don’t like how the left and media made Arbery out to be such a choirboy who was just jogging along. Arbery deliberately drove to a well to do neighborhood and was seen on video entering a house under construction and looking around for something…and jogging in a different neighborhood in basketball shoes that were not tied up is not how one jogs…so there’s at least some reasonable idea there that he was up to no good and not quite the choir boy the prosecution, media, and lefties portrayed him to be. However…again the system worked as designed.

In wildlife news…we continue to see the return of said wildlife to the pond out back as we get into the drier winter season here in Florida…it got down to 52 the other night and we actually had to close our windows before bedtime.

Here’s the same…we think…gator we saw on our side of the pond the other day. Almost two years into living on the pond here and we’ve seen precisely 2 of them on our side of the pond within a week. It was further up the bank than the last time so this shot was taken through the lanai screen. It is only 4 to 5 feet long so not really a serious threat but Neil was afraid it would skedaddle if he tried to get out the door for a shot.

Z72 1335

Tricolor heron, no mating plumage yet but it’s a bit early for that.

Z72 1337

Florida soft-shell turtle…first one we’ve seen of both it and the Tricolor this season.Again…through the lanai screen because despite being across the pond from us they are pretty skittish and rarely stay put if you open the lanai screen door.

Z72 1327

Better shot of the Tricolor Heron.

Z72 1340

Great Blue Heron…we’ve seen these for the past month or so.

Z72 1357

Great Egret.

Z72 1368

And finally…another Great Blue Heron in a strange pose. We’ve never seen one holding its wings out to dry like an Anhinga does…and never seen any heron holding their wings out to dry at such a low and awkward looking angle.

Z72 1372

Yeah…we like this time of year.

Interesting things found on the net.



And those math wieners are at it again.

Apparently there is a thing called a cyclic number which an integer in which cyclic permutations of the digits are successive multiples of the number. The most widely known is the six-digit number 142857, whose first six integer multiples are cyclic permutations of its digits…although it appears to have no useful purpose. If one makes the reasonable interpretation that there are no leading zeros in a number…i.e., it is 1,000 and 01,000 isn’t allowed…then this is the only cycle number. If one accepts that leading zeros are allowed…then there are other examples but all of them (10 to the xth power  − 1) where x can be 17, 19, 23, 29,47, 59, 61, or 97…but again this appears t one a singularly useless concept.


And just in case you haven’t forgotten about π there’s the Chudnovsky algorithm which can be used to calculate the digits of π…and it was recently used to calculate them out to 62.8 trillion digits…despite the fact that 15 is way more than enough. As I’ve previously noted…NASA uses 15 in their calculations for space missions…because while 15 digits is only an approximation it is off by less than the diameter of a hydrogen atom for a circle the size of the known universe…and if that’s true then 15 is way more than enough for any possible need and in fact 3.14159 is really good enough. Anyways…here’s the algorithm.


How or why this was developed by the Chudnovsky brothers in 1988 based on work by Srinivasa Ramanujan in the late 1800s or early 1900s is unexplained. Old Srinivasa’s formula is

Screen Shot 2021 11 25 at 10 29 01

How the Chudnovskys derived their formula from his is likewise unexplained.




And finally…



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

Random Stuff

Yup…pretty much just some random stuff today as nothing else is really going on. 

Neil’s new laptop arrived…14 inch M1 Pro MacBook Pro with 32 GB RAM and 2 TB drive…and it’s pretty wicked fast compared to the old one. Of course…that necessitated the purchase of some new USB C external drives and thumb drives since all of our current devices can use them…but that’s just fine with the IT department.

We went out to Bonefish for Date Night this week…decent dinner and great wine sitting at the bar before heading home. Elks board meeting tonight and then Ladies of Elks Bingo at the lodge on Sunday but other than that pretty much nothing really happening.

Oh yeah…we got a new grill for the lanai. When we moved into the house in Feb 20 our CharBroil infrared grill was about at the end of its useful life…3 years or so is about all you get out of a grill. So after we moved in in late summer we got a supposedly much longer lasting and much more expensive Sea-B-Que from Dickinson Marine…it’s designed for use on boats and according to their propaganda…and several people who recommended it to us…they last practically forever. So we sprung for the extra money and got one hoping it would last longer.

Not. So. Much.

In fact…extremely Not. So. Much

Neil had been noticing over the past couple of months that he only got flames from the burner on the left side which is opposite of where the gas connection is, so he figured the burner was clogged with rust or something. Took the grill grates off and discovered the entire burner assembly had failed…so it lasted less than a year for all the extra cost.

We went back to the CharBroil infrared model we had before…it’s less than half the price of the Sea-B-Que and will last well over 3 years based on our experience. Tossed the old one out with the garbage Monday evening…they pick up stuff like that on regular pickup days here…and by 0900 Tuesday morning somebody had opened up the top and checked it out to make sure that they didn’t want to steal/requisition/repurpose or whatever you want to call it. Neil had already dismantled it to see if the gas valve was aa standard valve and if so he would have kept it as a spare for the CharBroil but it is designed differently so out it went. 

In other exciting news…we used to have garbage pickup on Tuesday and recycle on Friday…that got changed effective Nov 1 to both on Tuesday by the county.

Ok…let’s see what’s happening in the news this week.

You probably read about or heard about the Rittenhouse trial out in Wisconsin…he’s the now 18 year old who went over to Kenosha in the aftermath of a shooting there by the police to protect businesses from rioters. Now…he was an idiot for going over there and playing vigilante…but being an idiot isn’t illegal. However…he ended up shooting 3 people and killing 2 of them…and from everything we have been reading in the media ever since one would have believed that he deliberately targeted and gunned down 3 innocent peaceful protestors.

Once the trial started though…not so much.

The prosecutor clearly did not do a very good job of reviewing the evidence or or preparing his witnesses. The kid claimed self defense…and under the law there the prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it was not self defense. 

Of the 3 people who were shot…there is actually video that shows each of them were the aggressor in the encounters and in fact shows that the kid was trying to get away from them. One prosecution witness reported that one of the two dead people actually threatened to kill the kid and tried to take his gun away while the other dead guy aimed a handgun at the kid. The surviving shoot-ee admitted that he pulled his handgun and aimed at the kid…but he “wasn’t planning to shoot anybody”. Seems to me that if you aim your handgun at another person and admit that he wasn’t aiming at you first then he’s got every right to defend himself.

The defense clearly…at least to an unbiased observer…has demonstrated reasonable doubt about the prosecution case but I guess we’ll see what the jury does.

The prosecutor also tried…in the presence of the jury…to suggest that the kid not answering police questions during the investigation was tantamount to guilt…and also tried to bring up items…again in front of the jury…that the judge had previously disallowed. That earned him a tongue lashing from the judge.

With the case by the prosecution going so well…the media shifted to attacking the judge saying that he is biased. Some of their examples…when told that lunch was being delivered by an Asian restaurant he quipped the he hoped it wasn’t on one of the ships over in Long Beach or LA or else it would be a long wait…and on Veterans Day he asked if anybody in the courtroom was a veteran and led the courtroom attendees in a round of applause for the single veteran who was there, this supposedly gave extra credibility to the man who was an about to testify defense witness…then the judge’s ring tone is God Bless the USA.

One of the prosecution witnesses was asked if he ever had words with one of the dead men…and he admitted that he never exchanged words. At that point…the DA asked him how he could have anything to say about what the dead guy was thinking…the witness then testified that the dead guy said “F&%^ you to the kid and pulled his weapon. Duh…really bad witness prep there Mr. DA.

The prosecution’s own medical expert confirmed on the stand that the dead guy in the video shown reaching for the kid’s rifle had gunshot residue on his hands meaning he grabbed the barrel. Again…great witness prep.

From reading the testimony of the various witnesses in the media…it is pretty clear that the prosecution lost the case easily…so at the last minute they got the judge to allow the jury to consider lesser charges while deliberating…even though they were not originally included. The DA thought he had such a great case that he didn’t charge the lesser offenses…in order to not give the jury an out…but then when his case went south he wanted them added back in. I’m really fine with lesser included charges being included or not as the prosecution wants…but they should have to stick with their decision and not change the rules in the middle of the game.

Ok…enough on the trial…how about the Pentagon.

GM is actually making a
military prototype of their Hummer electric vehicle
at the request of the Pentagon in the President’s quest to divest all carbon fueled vehicles from the government. Yeah…and electric only military vehicle. Because we all know that there would never be any electrical outages in a war zone and that there’s a plethora of charging stations in likely conflict spots like the Middle East in the sandbox.

A professor at
Arizona State
is calling for an “end to white supremacy language” in grading criteria in favor of an effort based system which will “redistribute power”. In his proposed system…getting the right…or wrong…answer isn’t what a student will be graded on. Rather…students should be graded by “how much labor they put into their work”. Nuts, eh?

A recent
editorial in the Wall Street Journal
…quotes from a NY Times article that says Democrats will keep losing elections until they have an “honest conversation in the Democratic Party about how to return to the moderate policies and values that fueled the blue-wave victories in 2018 and won Joe Biden the presidency in 2020.”…and this from the decidedly liberal and left wing paper in NYC. The problem is that…just as happens on the other side…the fringes of the party are responsible for platforms and candidates that are far out of touch with mainstream America…progressives and Tea Party people do not represent the majority of the population but they are the people in charge of platforms and who vote in primaries on both sides and this results in candidates that can’t win the regular election.

video by a Washington Post staffer
last week teamed up with a NY Times editorial board writer and wondered why Democrats who have a super majority that can override a governors veto or a complete control of the legislative and gubernatorial branches of government aren’t doing more to solve the long standing goals of the party…they have that advantage in 18 states. Democrats in DC frequently blame the GOP for foiling their progressive vision…so how are they doing in the states the Democratic Party controls? Housing is one of the bedrock things in their 2020 platform…so let’s take a look at the Peoples Republic of California. The Democratic leaning editorial staffer says that you can’t say you’re interested in housing unless you’re willing to have affordable housing in your neighborhoods.…yet CA has the worst housing crisis and the most homeless encampments of any state in the union…and local governments frequently vote against multi family housing units because it will result in declining home values…an argument made by the well off people who already live in that neighborhood. 

Taxation…the platform says that the tax policy has been rigged against the American people…so let’s look at Washington state…another Democratic stronghold. Looking at the percentage of income paid in taxes by income bracket…the percentages are far higher for low income people. 

Schooling…Democrats want to fix the education system…so let’s look at Cook County in IL…this is where Chicago is. If they were really interested in fixing it…how about a single school district for the entire county which takes the property taxes and distributes them fairly to all schools in the county. Sounds good, right? However…the county has divided itself into more than 140 school districts…and by law the property taxes in a district must be distributed to schools within that district. So…the more well off districts pay more in school taxes which goes to make the schools in their neighborhood better…but the poorer neighborhoods continue to fall further and further behind. What are Democrats thinking here?

And it isn’t just states…let’s look at the federal government in DC. Again…we see folks like Schumer and Pelosi giving speeches how the “rich need to pay their fair share”…while completely ignoring the fact that almost all of the income tax collected by the IRS is paid for by people in the higher income brackets. However…let’s look at the actions of Democratic leadership rather than their words.

Ever since the 2017 tax law changes…which limited the state and local tax (SALT) deduction on federal taxes to $10,000…the Democrats have been complaining about how unfair it is that large, blue, Democratic states like NY, CA, OH, and IL aren’t allowed to fully deduct their SALT taxes. Personally…I feel like it’s perfectly fair. I have no issue with those states charging whatever tax rates they want…but then the residents of those states are responsible for paying them. Allowing the residents of those states to deduct their high tax bills from their federal taxes essentially means that they’re transferring the liability for the high taxes in those states to taxpayers in lower tax states…it seems fair to me that things that benefit those states should be paid for by those states.

In the currently under negotiation by the House Build Back Better bill…the Democrats are
trying to insert a repeal of the SALT tax limitations
to allow their blue, Democratic, heavily taxed states to be subsidized by the rest of us. In fact…this $285 billion tax cut is one of the largest expenditures in the proposed bill. So…let’s look at who it benefits. From the article…here’s a chart that shows by income bracket where those benefits would be going.

0c95afd0 47b2 11ec affc 01f7510c8ef1

Taxpayers in the bottom 40% will receive zero benefits from this provision…and the Tax Policy Center says that people in the top 5% will get 70%  the benefits of this provision. So…in other words…it only benefits rich people living in CA, NY, IO, OH, and WA.

And…the provision is being pushed by representatives from the aforementioned high tax states who complain that not being allowed to deduct their SALT is an “undue burden” and “is pushing some high income residents to leave their state”.

Another example of “rules are for thee, not for me” by our progressive friends. I’m not pointing the finger only at the Democrats though…the other side does plenty of stupid things as well…for instance the article this week about Michael Flynn and Sidney Powell urging the Defense Department to investigate to help them overturn the election. In the first place…the Pentagon has no authority to either investigate or overturn elections and those two people have no authority to ask the Pentagon either. However…they may or may not have actually done it…it’s in a new book by long time ABC White House chief correspondent Jonathan Karl. I have no idea about his political persuasion…but hopefully he has some evidence or reporting or investigative journalism to actually support that claim and it isn’t just to help sell his book.

Ok, on to interesting things found on the net.

Our friends the mathematicians…they’re at it again. 

Apparently…somebody thought it was necessary to investigate the value of Pi to determine how often a digit appears multiple times in a row…and after deep and careful research they’ve determined that the digit 9 appears six times in a row starting at the 762nd decimal place and again at position 193,034. I’m not sure why they only did the research for 6 consecutive digits and not 4 or 5 or 12…and I’m also quite sure that you only need 15 decimal places when using Pi in a calculation. That’’s what NASA uses to calculate the trajectories of space missions and is enough precision so that if you used15 decimal places and calculated the circumference of a circle with a diameter equal to the size of the known universe the calculation would be off by less than the size of an atom of hydrogen. However…calculate it they did.


Then there’s how you calculate Pi. As everybody knows…it is the ration of a circle’s circumference to its diameter and is an irrational number that never repeats and goes on for an infinite number of decimal places. There are numerous ways of calculating an approximation of Pi and in a recent post I reported how it had calculated out to 32 trillion decimal places or something like that (not withstanding the fact that 15 is plenty). Anyways…there’s another way to calculate that I saw yesterday…it’s known as Wall’s Formula and was published in 1656.


Me…I just push the Pi button on my calculator or I ask Neil who quickly reports the it is 3.1415962653589 because that’s how many digits he memorized in college. Similarly…he knows that the constant e is 2.718281828459045…again because that’s how many digits he memorized.

Have you ever wondered what the longest word in the English language is? 

Me neither…but if’n you were go guess…what would you guess. Go ahead, I’ll wait.















Ok, whatcha got? Neil had no idea but figured it might be something the 30 or 40 letters long range…but I guess you’re both wrong.

The longest word in English is 1,909 letters long and is the expansion of the chemical formula for the compound C1289H2051N343O375S8…yeah, those numbers are supposed to be subscripts but I can’t figure out how to make it happen so I just made them smaller instead.

What is C1289H2051N343O375Syou say? Why it’s a protein with 267 amino acids in it…but it turns out that whether it’s really the longest depends on how you define the word “word”. There’s another chemical compound with the short name titin which is the largest known protein and that one has 189,819 letters in it but according to wikipedia there’s some dispute about whether either it or C1289H2051N343O375Sis actually a word. The longest word in any major English language dictionaries is the 45 letter long


which is a lung disease contracted from the inhalation of very fine silica particles from a volcano, otherwise it would just be known as silicosis.

A computer study in 2009 of a million examples of normal English prose reported that the longest word one is likely to encounter on an everyday basis is uncharacteristically which is 20 letters long.

And a few the need little to no explanation.






Neil says his is already up to the year 2350 or so.



And Neil’s fave of this bunch.



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Test Post — Mostly You Can Ignore This One

As the title says…this is just a testing post. Now that…hopefully…rather covid is starting to die down…and since Neil got his new laptop setup…and because I wanted to test the post by email feature of WordPress I am doing a test here.

Editor Note: Sending this via email again. It posted correctly the first time but I went in to it via MarsEdit and added some notes then saved it back to the blog. That made the post disappear from published, it went into Drafts but the image links were busted so I deleted it altogether and am resending via email to add in the notes.

Images did not post correctly…they appear to be half sized over what I had intended…I will figure out what happened and try it again hopefully.

If he’s carrying his laptop on a trip…he can use his normal MarsEdit program to compose posts with images and such…and can use Lightroom on the laptop to suck in images from our cameras and do post processing…so that part is easy and doesn’t need posting by email.

On the other hand…on some trips he might just have his iPad and not a laptop…which makes things a bit harder. I’m doing this post via laptop just to check out the features but will eventually do another test one from the iPad. That requires a more complex process to get the photos onto the iPad and backed up to external storage media. Once that’s done I’ll test using the Internet version of Lightroom to suck in and process the images. It’s not as fully featured as the Classic version of Lightroom…but it has the advantage that you can use it on an iPad. Once the images are processed…they get exported to the Camera Roll or the Files app on the iPad…not sure which will work better yet as I haven’t tried it…and then I can create an email, insert the post text and images, and send it off to be published.

You’re probably wondering why the long winded drivel above is in this post since it’s just a test…the reason is to have the opening text long enough so that the photos end up bing below the sidebar entries…if it’s not then the images extend into the sidebar and look crappy.


I think this is enough text so here are some test photos. Nothing really new, all of them were from a trip up to the Venice Rookery in early 2020…Neil recalls that we were masked up so probably March or so. I sucked them into Lightroom on the laptop and did some editing of the RAW files before exporting just to fully test how a normal post would be done.

Great Blue Heron

Great Egret with mating plumage

Black Crowned Night Heron

Great Egret Mating Plumage again

Red Wing Blackbird

Great Egret close up

Green Heron closeup, cropped from the image below…it got kinda noisy so I’ll have to fix that with some noise reduction for an actual post. Easy to do but I didn’t bother for testing purposes.

Original shot of the Green Heron

That’s it…sorry, no Interesting Stuff found on the net today.


Posted in Critters, Photography, Site Maintenance, Technology | Leave a comment

Pro Tip For Living In Southwest Florida

…or for that matter just about anyplace south of Tennessee probably although that far north the issue would be a different critter. On the other hand…it also applies for Central or South America as well as Africa and most other places around the world…especially Aussieland because everybody knows that everything there wants to kill you. (Editors note: If ya don’t believe me on that…check out
shark attack
most deadly
even more deadly
 or even the
land of nope
. It’s no wonder Aussies drink so much.) But then…probably Alaska, Siberia, northern Canuckistan, and out in the ocean as well…but again different critters.

And yeah…almost a month between posts and then twice in 3 days…deal with it.

We journeyed up to Sarasota yesterday for the opening concert in the Sarasota Symphony Masterworks series which we have season tickets to. We did move to better seats this year closer to both the stage and to the exit for making a quicker exit not requiring going down stairs with limited visibility with Connie in high heels. She’s happy because closer to the stage means she can see the soloist and orchestra members and make out facial expressions. The concert itself was pretty darned spectacular…as usual for the first one the orchestra played and the audience sang the Star Spangled Banner…Connie did her usual professional vocal coach trained thing with full volume, descant and all the normal trills and fanfare…she got 3 compliments from the ladies in front of us. 

The highlight of the program was the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto by a 26 year old named Blake Pouliot. Based on his bio in the program we thought he was one of the second tier soloists…but he was hands down the best violin soloist we’ve heard since Joshua Bell years back. He was clearly feeling the music…tapping his heels in time with the orchestra parts and singing to himself (silently probably but we could read his lips) to the music. Truly excellent performance of a concerto with a lot of fireworks in it…it was actually declared to be “unplayable” by the original violinist it was dedicated to. Fortunately…others differed in opinion and it’s a great showpiece today of soloist technique, artistry, and fireworks.

That was followed up in the second half with Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition…the original piece was a piano composition composed after Mussorgsky attended a posthumous exhibition of paintings by his friend Viktor Hartmann. There’s a Promenade section that opens the piece and evokes walking into the exhibition then a series of 10 paintings by Hartmann are depicted in sound with sketches of the Promenade as if one was walking through the exhibition hall. This is one of Connie’s favorite pieces and she was really happy with the way it turned out…especially the Great Gates of Kiev at the end of the piece. She likes it to be suitably majestic…neither too fast or too dirge like…with dramatic reductions in tempo…but only in the places she wants them. 

After the concert we stopped by Longhorn Steak House for our usual dinner after the afternoon concert and happened to sit next to the head of public relations for the orchestra and her husband…we had a nice chat with them while eating.

Then an hour plus ride home and we were still back just about 1900 for the evening.

So…the pro tip.

The other day…right after my last post by an hour or so…we noticed this Great Egret over across the pond out back of the lanai.

Z72 1280 copy

In order to understand the Pro Tip© I’ll need to do a little setup…so here’s a shot towards where it was sitting from right inside our lanai.

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Neil was standing about 3 or 4 feet from the back screen of the lanai and the exit door is to his left. The Great Egret was sitting in the tree just above the white sign across the other side and about 8 or 10 feet to the left. From the screen on our lanai straight down to the edge of the pond is about 15 feet.

So Neil snuck out the left side lanai door and keeping the tree to the left of the out the lanai shot above between him and the bird snuck over next to the palm grass thing around the tree and got a couple of insurance shots…ya know, you get one from farther away and then take more as you close in so that you don’t miss the opportunity if it gets skittish and flies away. After getting those shots…he decided to walk around the front of the tree between the tree and the lanai and down to the edge of the water to get a slightly closer shot…his destination was right between those two clumps of weeds you see just about at the center of the out the lanai shot. He was watching the bird in case it flew so he could grab more shots as it departed and got to within about 8 or 10 feet of the water when he spotted this.

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Yep…a little gator about 3 feet long or so and he didn’t see it until he was probably 6 or 8 feet from it. We’ve never…ever…seen one of the alligators out of the water on our side of the pond. They frequently patrol in the water near the bank on our side but I think they’ve figured out that people don’t go on the other side of the pond…it’s illegal to do that but the gator just knows they don’t go there. This little guy is probably only a few years old and I guess he didna’ learn that yet.

He quickly backtracked…

So the Pro Tip©…watch where you’re going while you’re sneaking into a better photo position. Depending on where you are…there could be gators, water moccasins, rattlesnakes, lions, tigers or what have you that ya just might be getting too close too. Down in Aussieland…it’s all of the above plus more since almost all of the wildlife and many of the plants there just want to kill you.

He wandered around in a semi circle around the li’l gator and got a couple more shots…it was clearly watching him closely but wasn’t concerned enough to move, didn’t feel threatened enough to defend itself, and clearly recognized that trying to eat Neil would have been biting off more than it could chew.

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He doesn’t walk out there without shoes on and does watch for snakes…and did in this instance as well…but the gator wasn’t really visible until you sort of got over the crest of the bank…it was lying there about 2 or 3 feet out of the water right above the two clumps of grass at center of the out the lanai shot above.

Interesting things found on the net.

It’s a bit past Halloween but here’s one on that theme.


And in recognition of Falling Back last night as we exited Daylight Savings Time.

Resetting the clocks at Stonehenge.


I think there’s a Simon and Garfunkel tune that goes with this.


Random other stuff.






Remembering William Shatner’s so called trip to space a week or three back…Neil saw an edited shot of him and his three cremates and 3 of them were in red shirts while Shatner had a gold one. The thing is…red shirts on Star Trek were doomed to be killed…any other color shirt and you survived.


Three Little Pigs family portraits.


And finally…the second scariest dinosaur…I can’t tell you the scariest one as that would take this into the non PG category…but if you ask in the comments I might tell ya since those are a bit more work for blog viewers to see.



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