I Am Appalled By Recent Events

You probably heard in the news this week about the US pulling out of Afghanistan and the Taliban taking over…and I thought I would pass along Neil’s thoughts on that debacle since he used to be in the military and then the intelligence business.

Update from the home front first…not really much to report there. With the increase in COVID cases over the past couple of weeks…we’ve gone back to take out for Date Night the past couple of Mondays and are limiting our out and about activities as much as possible. We continue to go down to the Elks as it is a small group normally there and we’re all fully vaccinated…and we carry masks with us whenever we go out for those places that are now requiring them again. Although we don’t really need to protect ourselves since we’re both recovered and vaccinated…it’s possible we could get reinfected although the likelihood is low and the symptoms would be likely correspondingly low but we could shed virus if we were reinfected…so we’re complying with the wishes of businesses or whatever if they ask customers or visitors to mask up.

Connie’s off this morning to her district meeting for the Ladies of Elks and we were out to the board of directors meeting for the lodge last night but other than that it’s pretty much normal.

We did have a bit of excitement yesterday morning…she heard a noise out front which Neil later determined was the front screen door rattling on the hinges a bit…we’ve been keeping it about an inch ajar since the latch is broke and they hadn’t gotten around to installing the new one yet. When she opened the front door to look…she discovered a snake on the front porch…and it was definitely not a good snake as it was still alive. So Neil evicted it…turned out to be just a garter snake. He flipped it over to the edge of the street to get it away from the house and then it crawled out in the middle of the street…where at some point it got run over and was transformed into a good (i.e., squished and dead) snake.

Here’s a mugshot of this particular offender…it was still in the bad snake category at this point…it might look close but Neil took the shot with his 200mm lens fro about 5 feet away and he had verified that it wasn’t venomous by that point…but it’s still a bad snake. He feels like he gave it a chance by putting it away from the house but still near enough to the grass to hide…not his fault it crawled out into the street.

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Yeah…I know that snakes are supposedly good things for some of ya’…but as far as Neil is concerned there is no such thing as a good snake. It goes back to his college days of cruising timber during the summer working for the paper company. Ya see…if you are a landowner with say 50,000 acres and you want to sell the timber you get the paper companies to bid for it and they bid so many dollars per acre. Now trees can become one of 3 things once the paper company buys them…they can become pulp wood for making paper and a pulp tree is worth maybe a quarter. Next up…they can be worthy of being lumber and that’s worth a few dollars per tree. Finally…if they’re good for making a telephone pole out of they’re worth about 20 dollars. So…as you can see the landowner says they’re all pole worthy and the paper company says they’re all pulp worthy…so the only way for the owner to get the maximum return and the paper company not to lose money on the deal is to count the trees. Yep…I said count the trees…but as you can probably imagine counting the trees on 50,000 acres is pretty much impossible so one turns to the miracle of statistics. Statistics says that for 50,000 acres if you count 1% of the land and multiply by 100 you’ll get a number pretty close to actuality…the percentage you need varies with the number of acres. So…a survey crew goes out and counts the trees on 1% of the the land…or in this case about 500 acres. In each area selected for counting they measure the diameter of the trees, the number of each, and whether they’re pulp, lumber, or pole and then go along to the next area selected. And therein lies the difficulty in cruising timber as it’s called and that whole snake thing for Neil. In order for the statistics to work at a 1% survey…the areas selected for counting have to be equally distributed over the whole area of the land in a grid like pattern. So…the crew starts at one edge of the property and then goes in a cardinal direction (N, S, E, or W) to the other side. Every 170something feet they stop and count the trees in a radius or something close to 30 feet…he can’t remember the exact numbers as it was 40something years ago. Then they go another 170something feet in the cardinal direction and repeat ad nauseam. On reaching the other side…they move left or right the specified distance and then go back the other direction repeating the previous measurements…and continue in these straight line treks until they run out of land and the numbers work out that they’ve counted trees on 1% of the total area. The problem is that whole go in a straight line in a cardinal direction thing. You don’t follow a trail or game track…you go in the cardinal direction no matter what’s in the way. One person on the 3 man crew stays still and the other two walk out pulling a long tape measure with them and when the distance gets to 170something feet the one left behind tells them to stop. He then winds the tape back up as he walks up to the other two. Meanwhile…one of the remaining two stands there with another tape measure and they measure out the 30 feet radius and the third guy walks in a circle at this distance measuring and classifying the trees inside the circle which the guy in the middle of the circle writes down.

So…as you do this for days on end…you naturally walk through the brambles and forest…and across the streams…and right into the arms of the waiting snakes…which in this case happen to be water moccasins, copperheads, and various kinds of rattlesnakes depending on exactly where you are (southern AL and MS in his case). Which means you end up walking up on all of those poisonous critters…who naturally defend themselves by striking you. It’s safe enough…you wear thick leather pants similar to a cowboy’s chaps over your jeans and high top boots so you never actually get snakebite…but frequently the snake’s fangs get stuck in your leather pants and you end up killing the snake as you beat him away from your leg with a stick. Neil says that when a snake hits your leg it’s not a love tap…but then figure the snake weighs 3-4 pounds and is traveling 20 miles an hour when it hits your leg. Anyways…after a summer of getting struck at repeatedly by snakes…he came to his completely accurate…for him…conclusion that there’s no such thing as a good snake.

OK…’nuff about that…so let’s talk about Afghanistan.

Neil read a piece this week that talked about the countries over in that region of the world written by an expert in the area…and it said that generally speaking you can divide the countries over there into the -ia countries like Serbia, Bosnia, etc…and the -stan countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, and all those others that are really hard to spell. Generally speaking…the -ia country population consider themselves as citizens of whatever the country is…while the population in -stan countries are generally much more tribal in nature and have loyalty to their tribe and clan but relatively little loyalty to whatever the current government calls the country. Nothing wrong with either of those approaches…they’re just different. This is what makes a lot of the -stan countries practically ungovernable.

So…should we have been in there in the first place? Who knows…we entered Afghanistan back in 2001 after 9/11 with overwhelming support from both political parties to root out Al Queda for the terrorist attacks…and we’ve been there through 5 administrations…Bush, Clinton, Obama, Trump, and Biden. The responsibility for still being there is shared by all of those administrations of both parties and each of them did some good things and some stupid things. So…arguing about whose fault being there is irrelevant.

The US policy there had several overall failures. First and foremost…the occupation was more political than military and the military was never turned loose to win the war…because that would have resulted in dead people and broken things and none of the administrations wanted that on the evening news…so just like Vietnam the military was hamstrung and given an impossible mission…win the war without killing anybody. Second…we tried to implement a US style democracy with country loyalty in an essentially ungovernable tribal region. Third…it turned out to be a guerrilla warfare situation…and just like Vietnam and the Soviet Union against the Mujahideen winning that war is not really possible unless you’re the guerrilla side.

So…back in 2020 the Trump administration decided to leave and executed the Doha agreement with the Taliban and without involving the Afghan government…which was stupid on it’s face as how can the occupier and the guerrilla forces have a peace treaty without involving the government? President Biden ran on the promise to “end America’s longest war”…which is just a lie since Korea is America’s longest war…it’s been going on since 1950. 

Anyways…after Jan 20, 2021…President Trump was no longer in charge…President Biden was…and since his administration overturned almost everything the former administration said or did he could easily have tossed out the Doha agreement as well. However…he decided to continue the withdrawal…which frankly is the correct choice and we would have withdrawn no matter who won the election in Nov 2020.

The problem is that the withdrawal was completely FUBAR for those of you familiar with that military acronym. Let’s consider the Taliban. They’re known to chop your head off if you disagree with them…and are well known for treating women as chattel and stoning them to death for what they consider an offense…in other words…the Taliban are not good people. Now 10s of thousands of Afghan people believed the bill of goods they were sold and supported the US efforts in country as translators, helped with logistics and supplies, drove trucks, joined the Afghan armed forces, and so on. Anybody with half a brain clearly should have known that when we left those people and their families would be killed for their assistance to the “enemy”.

In a properly planned withdrawal…we would have done something like this. Choose a location…say the air base at Bagram for instance…and put sufficient forces into it to defend it from the Taliban if necessary. Tell the Taliban that we would use that air base to evacuate our friends in the population and our military equipment…and that when that was done we would leave. Tell them we would be flying helicopters over the country to transport those friends and equipment back to the air base…and that if the Taliban shot at our aircraft or attacked the base, our friends being evacuated, or our equipment we would respond with overwhelming force. All they had to do was leave us alone to get our people, friends, and equipment out and we would leave. Period…end of problem. At the end…the Taliban and the government forces could duke it out in their civil war over the future of the country…which as we saw this week meant that the government forces would essentially abandon the fight, the president would leave the country with $169 million in cash, and the Taliban would be in charge.

Instead…we screwed the pooch on just about the whole departure. Our friends were left behind due to the lunacy of how hard we made it to validate who our friends were before we got them out. Heck…we knew who they were already as we were paying them…so why all the administrative rigamarole? We screwed the pooch on getting US citizens out of the country…according to what I saw yesterday the only area we now control is the Kabul airport which is blockaded by the Taliban and there are on the order of 10,000 (more or less) US citizens outside the blockade with no way to get to the only way out of the country. Lastly…we abandoned huge numbers of military equipment…drones, Humvees, armored personnel carriers, small arms, and who knows what else…all of that is now in possession of the Taliban who can either use it against us or sell the technology to Russia or China or Iran. We actually used air strikes and drone strikes to destroy some of this equipment after it was left behind.

Now I understand that stuff was going to get left behind in the completely unorganized rout of an evacuation…but how in heaven were the administration, State Department, and Defense Department stupid enough to not have a plan to blow up whatever was getting left behind and to get our people, citizens, and friends out.

This is the part that is completely the fault of the Biden administration…once they took over…blaming the Trump administration for the problem is no longer an option. They continued (and actually delayed) the evacuation…and were responsible for carrying it out in a fashion that resembled a properly planned military operation…not the complete cluster-f*** that we happened. 

As recently as a month ago…President Biden said that you would never see a helo evacuation from the roof of the embassy…and lo and behold we got one…photos all over the news. He said that it was highly unlikely that the Afghan government would collapse quickly…completely ignoring intelligence analysis that said that is exactly what would happen. Then he went on TV Monday…and said that he stood behind his decision…which I applaud him for since he took credit for continuing the withdrawal…but then he blamed everybody else except his administration for the debacle. When asked by a reporter about the Afghan civilians clinging to USAF planes as they departed and falling to their death…he said “that was 4 or 5 days ago”…when it was yesterday and the day before.

The administration completely bungled the evacuation and then completely bungled the PR fallout…and all of that falls completely 100% on them. Why we were there in the first place and why we stayed so long has plenty of blame to go around as I said above…but this past week is on them.

Even a lot of the liberal press is in agreement…as are most of our allies around the world. We simply didn’t consult them and abandoned our principles, people, friends, and equipment.

Disgusting. We’ve screwed ourselves out of the likelihood that in a future war…and you know there will be one, there always is…that the local population will buy into our assistance and do the things that the Afghan people did for us. And that’s a damned shame.

No interesting stuff from the internet this time…this is a serious subject and shouldn’t be lightened by anything humorous.

Cyas.

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

Silliness…and a Li’l Bit of Fun Stuff©

So…if it’s just a li’l bit of Fun Stuff©…does that make it fun stuff© instead? Dunno…but the thought did occur to me.

Anyways…what’s up with us.

Happy 231st Birthday to the US Coast Guard…or the shallow water Navy as real sailors say. That isn’t quite true though…they do have some actual ocean going cutters but mostly they’re on smaller ships and boats doing search and rescue, law enforcement and other related duties…and they go out in really big storms and waves in much smaller craft than I would be comfortable in.

We got the strangest phone call this week…it wasn’t identified as spam by the software on Neil’s phone…turned out to be a real estate agent checking to see if we had any property for sale in SW FL. Neil hung up…but the house market is pretty seller free down here right now…so apparently some enterprising agents are trying to get you to let them sell your house and then obviously you’ll need a new house so they’ll be able to collect 2 commissions. Seems to me that any idiot…even a real estate salesman…would be able to figure out that IF we had any property for sale it would already be listed with an agent and on the multiple listing service…since otherwise the for sale property would be something that no buyer would know about. 

Summer continues…it’s really been brutally hot and humid the last week or 10 days with most of them being in the low 90s but with heat indexes well into the 3 digits…114 was the highest we saw on Dark Sky which gives hyperlocal conditions rather than the ones down at the airport. It didn’t feel quite that hot to us but it was hot. We’ve taken for the summer to setting an alarm at 0530 on bike days so Neil can get out of the house after coffee and breakfast by about 0900 so he’s back before we get into the serious heat part of the day. It’s also been raining…a…lot…like…a…metric…buttload. Mostly in the afternoon but a couple times in the morning but fortunately so far not on his every other day Bike Day…it looked the evening before a couple of times like he would get rained out but one the higher rain percentage shifted to later in the day and the other it was raining seriously 50 miles or so north of us and 50 miles or so south but just slightly overcast here.

We had dinner at the Lodge week before last…it was ham and only 13 people showed up…a lot of people don’t like ham down here apparently. There’s another rib/steak dinner late this month we might go to…and we (well, Connie did and Neil figures he can be her plus one) got invited to one of those financial/retirement presentation things. We get these periodically and normally trash them…but seeing that this one is at Ruth’s Chris Steak House we might go anyway…it’s probably worth listening to their dog and pony show for a free steak dinner.

And…the lodge is closed again. After the ham dinner 2 Saturdays back…turns out the bartender and her significant other tested positive after being at a wedding where people were positive. Since the positive tests were either Sunday or Monday…they obviously knew they were potentially positive before she worked Saturday and he sat at the bar next to Neil for 45 minutes or so. Luckily…all the humans at our house are both vaccinated and have had it so no real worries for us…and it’s been 9 or 10 days so we’re fine.

The other local lodge that we transferred out of has gotten themselves into even more trouble. As I previously reported way back when…the Exalted Ruler over essentially drove away (in a lot of people’s opinion) many long term members due to personality, ignoring the rules, favoritism, nepotism and numerous other things…well they’ve gotten themselves into some more trouble…both with the national group and others. Later this month there’s a special meeting called for their membership by the national organization rep…we briefly entertained the idea of attending the meeting…which any Elk can do regardless of membership in a particular lodge…just to watch the fireworks. Haven’t made up our minds yet.

Speaking of Elks…this week Connie as president of the Ladies of Elks auxiliary in addition to being a regular Elk member…delivered a whole bunch of school supplies the LoE collected to a local school. Here’s a shot of her, one of the other Ladies, and 3 of the folks from the school.

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In other LoE news…Neil’s getting a bit irritated with several of the Ladies who declined to run for President but still want Connie as the President to do what they say…in other words they want to be President but without the responsibilities. She just ignores them and does the right thing under the rules and as the members voted on…but she keeps griping to him about it and he wishes the would just quit trying to boss her around…one would think that after them knowing her for years…they would have figure out by now that she doesn’t get pushed around much by anybody. He’s obviously not a LoE member since fails the lady part…so he doesn’t interfere…too much…but ya know he’s got an opinion on just about everything and he wishes they would leave it alone.

Lessee…silliness.

Oh yeah…Amazon and the Union. This isn’t an anti union report…it’s a silliness and anti-stupidity report.

You remember back in the spring…one of the unions tried to organize the workers at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama. Naturally both side kept claiming the other side cheated all through the run up to the election…but from afar it all just looked like political posturing to us. Anyway…the union lost the vote by 1,978 to 738 or 63% to 27%. The union…naturally…challenged the results of the election so after 576 votes were challenged and 76 of those resulted in rejected ballots the union still lost 71% to 29%.

Naturally…they didn’t like this so they filed another appeal to the NLRB stating that Amazon ‘illegally interfered with the vote” and included 23 or so actions that were “illegal” according to the union.

Now one of the things that Amazon did in the run up to the election was to offer to the NLRB folk running the election a drop box on Amazon property where workers could deposit their ballots…a box for which Amazon would not have the key…they were trying to make it easier for workers to submit their ballots directly to the NLRB while the union wanted to send people around door to door to collect the ballots. The former seems much less likely to result in worker intimidation to me than the latter…but no matter. Anyway…the NLRB rejected Amazon’s request and instead said that ballots needed to be either mailed in or dropped off at wherever the NLRB put the approved drop boxes. 

So Amazon…since ballots could be mailed…worked with the US Post Office to put a mailbox on Amazon property…again a box for which Amazon did not have a key…this mailbox was a regular mailbox which could get any mail dropped into it…and none of the articles I read had any information about whether workers did or did not use this mailbox to mail their ballots.

The NLRB official this week issued his opinion…which if accepted by the NLRB management means they’ll have to have a new election. Now remember…they lost the first one in a landslide…but essentially the union is now demanding a do-over…

Of the 23 supposedly “illegal” actions by Amazon that the union cited…exactly one of them was upheld in the opinion this week. Mr. Applebaum (the NLRB guy) said that despite the fact that the NLRB denied an NLRB drop box on Amazon property that Amazon “illegally worked with the post office to install one because it (editor: the mailbox) provided a clear ability to intimidate workers”. Amazon says that “they wanted all employees to vote” and that the union demanded a mail only election…so Amazon made it easy for the workers to mail their ballots.

So…the silliness. How does having a USPS owned mailbox…which Amazon has no control over and which can be used for any postal mail one might want to put in it…be illegal? But…according to Mr. Applebaum

Throughout the NLRB hearing, we heard compelling evidence how Amazon tried to illegally interfere with and intimidate workers as they sought to exercise their right to form a union. We support the hearing officer’s recommendation that the NLRB set aside the election results and direct a new election.

Further…Mr. Applebaum stated that the presence of the USPS mailbox…”violated the laboratory conditions” required for a fair election…whatever that means.

So…the union demanded mail in ballots…and got them…and Amazon made it easy for workers to mail said ballots…and the union overwhelmingly lost…and now they claim that the mailbox allowed Amazon to “intimidate workers”…and are demanding a do over.

Sounds to me like Mr. Applebaum is personally invested in getting the warehouse unionized rather than being a fair caller of balls and strikes at the NLRB. We’ll see what happens next…but sounds like somebody bought off the judge or else he has his mind made up and doesn’t want to be confused by the facts.

OK…on to the li’l bit of Fun Stuff©…or fun stuff©…whichever moniker ya prefer.

Down the road about 2 miles south of us is the Prairie Pines Preserve which is a state preserve. Neil went down a few months back as you’ll recall and got a few photos but the wetlands part of it was…well…not wet. With all the rain recently and this being the rainy season…it seemed like there would be some wet in the wetlands and hence some more wildlife. So…this week we got up early on a non bike day and got down there just a bit after sunrise…figuring that there would be some medium shallow wet in the wetlands and some birds eating breakfast.

Unfortunately…we wuz wrong…incorrect…out to lunch…whatever.

We saw precisely 2 birds, 1 rabbit, and 2 squirrels…and one of both of the 2s escaped without a picture…so I don’t got much for ya…but it is what it is as they say. We got in a nice hike of about 3/4 of a mile but both Neil and Connie needed a dry shirt when we got back…hot and humid even at 0700.

Z72 001 2

Female cardinal.

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Z72 008 2 Edit

This is the same cardinal and squirrel as the above 2 shots but Connie took a wider shot of both of them.

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And her obligatory plants and flowers.

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Woodpecker nest…sans woodpecker unfortunately.

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Interesting things found on the net…or in our email.

Some southern humor…and yes…they’re all funny even to Neil who is as he says “American by birth…Southern by the grace of God”.

Alabama

A group of Alabama friends went deer hunting and paired off in twos for the day. That night, one of the hunters returned alone, staggering under the weight of an eight-point buck.

“Where’s Henry?” the others asked.

“Henry had a stroke o’ some kind. He’s a couple of miles back up the trail,” the successful hunter replied.

“You left Henry layin’ out there and carried the deer back?” they inquired.

“A tough call,” nodded the hunter. “But I figured no one’s gonna steal Henry!”

Georgia

The owner of a golf course in Georgia was confused about paying an invoice, so he decided to ask his secretary for some mathematical help.

He called her into his office and said, “Y’all graduated from the University of Georgia and I need some help. If I wuz to give yew $20,000, minus 14%, how much would you take off?”

The secretary thought a moment, and then replied, “Everthang but my earrings.”

Louisiana

A senior citizen in Louisiana was overheard saying … “When the end of the world comes, I hope to be in Louisiana ”

When asked why, he replied, “I’d rather be in Louisiana ’cause everythang happens in Louisiana 20 years later than in the rest of the world.”

Mississippi

The young man from Mississippi came running into the store and said to his buddy, “Bubba, somebody just stole your pickup truck from the parking lot!”

Bubba replied, “Did y’all see who it was?”

The young man answered, “I couldn’t tell, but I got the license number.”

North Carolina

A man in North Carolina had a flat tire, pulled off on the side of the road, and proceeded to put a bouquet of flowers in front of the car and one behind it. Then he got back in the car to wait.

A passerby studied the scene as he drove by, and was so curious he turned around and went back. He asked the fellow what the problem was.

The man replied, “I got a flat tahr.”

But, what’s with the flowers?

The man responded, “When you break down they tell you to put flares in the front and flares in the back. I never did understand it neither.”

Tennessee

A Tennessee State trooper pulled over a pickup on I-65. The trooper asked, “Got any ID?”

The driver replied, “Bout whut?”

Texas

The Sheriff pulled up next to the guy unloading garbage out of his pick-up into the ditch. The Sheriff asked, “Why are you dumping garbage in the ditch? Don’t you see that sign right over your head.”

“Yep,” he replied. “That’s why I’m dumpin’ it here, ’cause it says: ‘Fine For Dumping Garbage.’ “

And finally…at least for the southern jokes…

**Y’all kin say whut y’all want ’bout the South, but y’all never heard o’ nobody retirin’ an’ movin’ North.

And here’s some Irish humor…since Neil’s ancient ancestors were Irish river pirates…and no, he doesn’t remember how many greats back it was or whether it was grandfathers or 3rd cousins twice removed or whatever…you’ll have to ask Connie for those sordid details…but Neil says “ya had me at river pirates”.

Why Irish Eyes Are Full Of Laughter —
——————————————————————————–
Paddy was driving down the street in a sweat because he had an
important meeting and couldn’t find a parking place. Looking up to
heaven he said, ‘Lord take pity on me. If you find me a parking place
I will go to Mass every Sunday for the rest of me life and give up me
Irish Whiskey!’
Miraculously, a parking place appeared.
Paddy looked up again and said, ‘Never mind, I found one.’
 
Father Murphy walks into a pub in Donegal, and asks the first man he
meets, ‘Do you want to go to heaven?
The man said, ‘I do, Father.’ The priest said, ‘Then stand over there
against the wall.’
Then the priest asked the second man, ‘Do you want to go to heaven?’
‘Certainly, Father,’ the man replied.
‘Then stand over there against the wall,’ said the priest. Then Father
Murphy walked up to O’Toole and asked, ‘Do you want to go to heaven?’
O’Toole said, ‘No, I don’t Father.’
The priest said, ‘I don’t believe this. You mean to tell me that when
you die you don’t want to go to heaven?’
O’Toole said, ‘Oh, when I die , yes. I thought you were getting a
group together to go right now.’
 
Paddy was in New York ..
He was patiently waiting and watching the traffic cop on a busy street
crossing. The cop stopped the flow of traffic and shouted, ‘Okay,
pedestrians.’ Then he’d allow the traffic to pass.
He’d done this several times, and Paddy still stood on the sidewalk.
After the cop had shouted, ‘Pedestrians!’ for the tenth time, Paddy
went over to him and said, ‘Is it not about time ye let the Catholics
cross?’
 
Gallagher opened the morning newspaper and was dumbfounded to read in
the obituary column that he had died. He quickly phoned his best
friend, Finney. ‘Did you see the paper?’ asked Gallagher. ‘They say I
died!!’
‘Yes, I saw it!’ replied Finney. ‘Where are ye callin’ from?’
 
An Irish priest is driving down to New York and gets stopped for
speeding in Connecticut .. The state trooper smells alcohol on the
priest’s breath and then sees an empty wine bottle on the floor of the
car. He says, ‘Sir, have you been drinking?’
‘Just water,’ says the priest.  The trooper says, ‘Then why do I smell wine?’
The priest looks at the bottle and says, ‘Good Lord! He’s done it again!’
 
Walking into the bar, Mike said to Charlie the bartender, ‘Pour me a
stiff one – just had another fight with the little woman.’ ‘Oh yeah?’
said Charlie, ‘And how did this one end?’
‘When it was over,’ Mike replied, ‘She came to me on her hands and knees.’
‘Really,’ said Charles, ‘Now that’s a switch! What did she say?’
She said, ‘Come out from under the bed, you little chicken.’
 
Paddy staggered home very late after another evening with his drinking
buddy, Finney. He took off his shoes to avoid waking his wife,
Kathleen. He tiptoed as quietly as he could toward the stairs leading
to their upstairs bedroom, but misjudged the bottom step. As he caught
himself by grabbing the banister, his body swung around and he landed
heavily on his rump. A whiskey bottle in each back pocket broke and
made the landing especially painful.
Managing not to yell, Paddy sprung up, pulled down his pants, and
looked in the hall mirror to see that his butt cheeks were cut and
bleeding. He managed to quietly find a full box of Band-Aids and began
putting a Band-Aid as best he could on each place he saw blood.
He then hid the now almost empty Band-Aid box and shuffled and
stumbled his way to bed..
In the morning, Paddy woke up with searing pain in both his head and
butt and Kathleen staring at him from across the room. She said, ‘You
were drunk again last night weren’t you?’ Paddy said, ‘Why would you
say such a mean thing?
 
‘Well,’ Kathleen said, ‘it could be the open front door, it could be
the broken glass at the bottom of the stairs, it could be the drops of
blood trailing through the house, it could be your bloodshot eyes, but
mostly , it’s all those Band-Aids stuck on the hall mirror.

Our friend Randy from thisistrue.com…and you should really go and subscribe to his newsletter in either the free or paid versions…one of the weekly additions is the “honorary unsubscribe” which details the life and death of somebody that deserves some recognition. This week’s recipient was involved in the invention of frozen fish sticks, the microwave, StarBurst, and other food technologies…go read about his life at thisistrue.com…it’s worth it. The newsletter specializes in “thought provoking entertainment via social commentary on weird news”.

DangerousBeverageTea

Oxymorons

And those math weiners have been at it again.

SinusoidalShoreline

 

And the Hardy Ramanujan Number…which is the smallest number that can be expressed as the sum of two different sets of cubes…my thought on them is…who…cares?

 

HardyRamanujanNumber

Psychopaths

I especially like the brand name on his grill.

PoorDinosaurs

Guess this answers the age old question…

WhichCameFirst

And no matter which side of the argument you’re on…

TearEmDownBoys

SocialDistancing3

And finally…we keep hearing about how the United States should shift to the metric system because it’s so much better and we’re the only major country that doesn’t use it…in fact there are three countries total including Liberia and Myanmar but who cares about these two. Now ‘round these parts we’re just find with either metric or imperial measurements and can use either…and we recognize that there are both pros and cons to both shifting to the metric system in the USofA or in sticking with imperial system…but the sentiment in this one is right on.

MetricSystem

‘Nuff said.

Cyas.

Posted in Critters, Hiking, Ya Can't Fix Stupid | Leave a comment

Stupidity and Hyprocrisy

Yep…that’s today’s topic once I get past what’s new in ‘dese parts.

We had to cancel Date Night last night…again…that makes 3 weeks in a row. The first two times it was because Connie wasn’t feeling well but last night it was the rain. Right about the time we were thinking about going the thunderstorm started and it was moving pretty slow…we decided that it wasn’t worth driving as far as we planned in the rain down one of the major rush hour routes in the pouring rain with no visibility and people that don’t know how to drive.

So instead…we had the rest of the House Special Fried Rice that we picked up from #1 Wok on the way home from Bingo on Sunday. Connie won 3 or 4 times so it was a hit for her, but in deference to her tummy which was still a little less than normal we picked up the fried rice instead of our normal post Bingo pizza from Jet’s Pizza. Assuming she still feels better tonight Neil will run down and pick us up some ribs from Smokin’ Pit BBQ…two racks and sides of fried okra, fried mushrooms, and baked beans will give us dinner for two nights. It’s about the best BBQ we’ve found down here…it isn’t as good as Dreamland up in Tuscaloosa AL or Oklahoma Joe’s (now known as Kansas City Joe’s) out in Kansas City but it is pretty darned tasty.

Nothing else is really going on…Neil’s biking every other day…Connie had 2 funeral masses so far this week along with cantering both days over the weekend. We do have a trip to St. Augustine FL scheduled for late September for the Florida Ladies of Elks convention/conference…and are thinking about spending a couple days either there or up in Savannah GA before coming back home…but we’ll wait until later and check weather forecasts and hurricane maps before making a final decision on that. We’re all just getting so bored doing nothing that we need a break to do something…anything really.

We got a ‘Hold the Date’ for Neil’s 50th high school reunion next summer…put it on the calendar but no idea whether we’ll go or not. Personally he’s not really all that interested but perhaps we’ll need a trip out of town or something interesting.

Ok, let’s get on to the stupidity…most of this is government stupidity of course although the first one is private sector.

Ya’ll probably read in the news a couple weeks back about Mr. Branson and his trip up to space…he’s got a company named Virgin Space or some such that will take tourists up to ‘space’ for the slight feel $250,000 each. For that price you get a ride in a rocket powered airplane that gets carried up to 45,000 feet dropped off and then lights it’s engine before zooming skyward. After reaching a maximum altitude of about 52 or 53 miles it glides back down and lands about 14 minutes after it was dropped off and the passengers get to experience 2 or 3 minutes of ‘weightlessness’. Then today…Jeff Bezos of Amazon fame launched himself up in his Blue Origins rocket…which actually takes off vertically like a rocket does and after 4 minutes or so the engine cuts off, the capsule at the top separates and coasts up to about 63 or 64 miles before falling back earthward and sending up a couple of parachutes at about 5,000 feet to drift back to land in the sand of west Texas. His price for paying passengers…a bargain at only $200,000 each (according to reports). 

You probably notice that the maximum altitude of each of those is different…and that’s because there’s some disagreement on what constitutes ‘space’. So…just how does one tell if you’r in space or not? As you probably already know…as one increases altitude the density of the air gets less and less and eventually you’re in a vacuum which is generally how space is defined. For many years…the Kármán line was the definition of space at an altitude of 100 kilometers or 62 miles…hence Mr. Bezos’s rocket topping out at just over that. That definition worked just fine…until the US Air Force got involved. Back in the 50s or 60s…the Air Force decided that they wanted to be able to declare some of their high altitude test pilots…specifically those that flew in the X-15 rocket plane…as astronauts. Some of the flights of that craft exceeded the Kármán line at 62 miles but most of them only reached altitudes between 50 and 60 miles high…and those pilots felt discriminate against I guess and lobbied for a different definition. In order to please them…the Air Force…and in turn the FAA and NASA…redefined space as being higher than 80 kilometers or 50 miles. Thus…all of the X-15 pilots became ‘astronauts’. Unfortunately…most of the rest of the world, in fact just about all of it…still recognizes the Kármán line line as space.

Personally…I think that both are BS. In my view…you’re not in space unless you’re in orbit. To date…the only private company that has done that (and it has a pretty good record going) is SpaceX. While I don’t generally think much of Mr. Musk…he did build a company that successfully puts people in space and he will even take tourists along starting next year I believe…some to the space station and some just to orbit. His price will be slightly higher though…somewhere between $30 and $55 million depending on which source you believe on the interwebs.

Both Branson and Bezos have licenses from the FAA to take tourists to ‘space’…but I think that the first time one of them hits the ground at a thousand miles an hour and kills a bunch of rich people…the licenses will get pulled no matter how many waivers said rich people have signed. Maybe if they get to 100 flights without a failure…as SpaceX has…there might be a pause until they figure out what went wrong but I dunno for sure. In any event…Mr. Branson says that by late 2022 they will be sending up their craft at 350 flights per year and Mr. Bezos thinks perhaps several dozen a year by 2023…but the problem with both of those is scale. Branson has a single carrying aircraft and a single rocket ship that carries 2 pilots and 4 passengers. He wants to double the capacity but that means a whole new rocket ship to be designed and tested and probably a higher payload carrying aircraft…of which he only has one currently. I don’t know what the turnaround time on the rocket ship is or the maintenance schedule for the carrying aircraft is…but he’s not doing more than one flight per day with one of each. Bezos on the other hand has multiple rockets and capsules…so his projections by 2023 at least seem remotely possible but again it depends on turnaround time for the various components.

Rich boys and their toys I guess…both have a long way to go compared to SpaceX as far as doing anything actually useful in space.

As you know…I get the weekly newsletter with humorous stories from the news…one of this week’s stories was about a lady that lives over on the east coast of Florida who has something over $100K in parking fines…for parking on the grass on her property, for having a driveway that the city decided was inadequate, for having a fence that fell down in a hurricane and she waited on insurance payment before replacing it, and for parking on the grass after she no longer parked on “her own grass that she paid for” as her lawsuit against the city says. That reminded me of some of the stupidity here on the west coast of Florida…and why we deliberately did not look at any houses located within the city limits of Cape Coral. Again…in CC as thy call it…it is illegal to park on your grass for any reason despite there being basically no on street parking in any of the residential neighborhoods. In addition…it is illegal to leave your garage door open and illegal to leave your trash can or recycling bin out despite the completely random time that your collection actually happens. You’re supposed to bring your trash can back into the back yard rather than leave it out over night…but if the garbage man hasn’t come by sunset and you bring it in…and then he comes by afterwards as has happened in our neighborhood at least once…then your trash doesn’t get picked up. At least in North Fort Myers you put it out the night before and it can stay out until it’s picked up…that usually happens on Tuesday but occasionally it gets over to Wednesday depending on truck availability I guess.

Up in Punta Gorda…the city council has approved installation of a whole bunch of free electrical vehicle recharging stations…at least the first one is free. Seems they have a company that will put them in free of charge to the city and handle maintenance and pay for the power for some time period…but if the company goes out of business apparently the city will get stuck with the bill for maintaining them and the power bill. So…at least in Punta Gorda…real estate taxes might go to pay for the free charging stations for those ‘green’ vehicles…there’s also some consternation going on about road maintenance and what will happen when gas powered vehicles are deemed illegal. Current federal gasoline tax collects about $73 million per day…which goes to road construction and maintenance but for which electrical vehicles pay nothing. This (a) isn’t fair to the people who pay gas taxes since the EV for get a free ride…and (b) doesn’t explain how roads will get fixed when gasoline taxes go away. Makes me glad we didn’t get a house in PG either.

Ok…on to federal government stupidity…although the rest of these get into hypocrisy as well.

Up in Congress…as you know we’re currently proceeding down a dual infrastructure bill path. One ‘bipartisan’ bill which covers actual infrastructure that both political parties support…it’s about $1.5 trillion of which $700 million or so is new spending and the rest is leftover COVID money that hasn’t been spent…and the bill includes plans for how to pay for the spending. In parallel with that is the Democrats ‘human infrastructure bill’…whatever that is…that is currently at $3.5 trillion…even though the contents of the bill haven’t been written yet but Mr. Schumer is trying to force a vote on it this week. Apparently he’s trying to get the reconciliation budget resolution passed so that the Senate Parliamentarian…who gets to determine whether the individual parts are even eligible for reconciliation…can be bypassed as from what we read in the news about it some of it clearly does not fall within the reconciliation rules. Minimum wage, Medicare expansion, and just about every other progressive demand is included in their bill…which even the Democrats admit will be estimated by the Congressional Budget Office at around $5.5 trillion…most of which is not paid for.

Their spending plan covers 8 years because some of the provisions ‘expire’…but the payment part of the plan covers 15 years with not expiration of the higher taxes and budget deficits required to pay for it…and you know that assuming it passes they’ll try to make the spending a permanent entitlement next year.

The major things they’re using to pay for their bill are higher taxes on the rich and projected long term economic growth.

Taking the second one first…this is the same projected long term economic growth that the other side used to ‘pay’ for the tax cut back in 2016…and which the Democrats including Mr. Schumer labeled at that time as “fake math”, a “gimmick”, and “counting chickens before they hatch”…not to mention “voodoo economics”. No matter though…despite decrying the practice 5 years ago they’re all for it now. In reality…it was BS then and it’s BS now.

Taxes…I’m sure you’ve seen Schumer, et. al.…all taking about the “rich paying their fair share”…so let’s talk just a bit about who pays taxes.

Taxes are based on income…and wealth is a different animal than income…let’s take Mr. Bezos for example as he’s currently the world’s richest individual. He is a very wealthy man…but wealth is not taxable in the United States…it is specifically outlawed in the Constitution. In fact…even our current income tax required a constitutional amendment to make it legal…but that’s another blog post. His actual income is about $2 million dollars a year in salary…the fact that he owns a metric buttload of Amazon stock as wealth is irrelevant.

So…now that you’re up to date with the difference between wealth and income and which is taxed…let’s talk about who actually pays income taxes.

These numbers come directly from the IRS…and are for tax year 2017 which was the latest information available as of April 2021 when the
article I’m referencing
was written. Total personal income tax for that year was about $1.6 trillion.

  • The top 1% have 21% of the income total and pay 38.5% of the taxes
  • The top 5% have 36% of the income and pay 59.2% of the taxes
  • The top 10% have 47.7% of the income and pay 71.1% of the taxes
  • The top 50% have 89% of the income and pay 97% of the taxes.

Dividing just into two categories…the top 50% and the bottom 50%…the dividing line is $41,740 in income. This lower half pays 3% of personal income taxes while the top half pays 97%.

So…don’t believe what you hear from Schumer and company…they’re really good at spending other people’s money.

Yes…there are rich people; and most of them got that way through hard work by either themselves or their ancestors…and by running successful companies and taking risks. However…most of those people actually don’t make that much taxable income…nothing compared to their wealth which is prudently invested to grow and prosper.

Corporate taxes…you’ll also recall the horror stories about how big companies like Apple and Amazon don’t pay enough taxes…but there is no legal requirement to pay any more taxes than necessary…the tax code is after all written by Congress and each and every on of those ‘loopholes’ the Democrats want to close were put there by a succession of both Democratic and Republican controlled Congress and administrations…and each was put in place for what seemed like a good reason at the time.

Our tax system is progressive…the higher your income the higher both your tax rate and your total payment becomes…personally I think we should put the IRS out of business and go to a progressive but flat tax. No deductions at all…zip, nada,  nothing. List your income…an again I emphasize income, not wealth…and then pay the required percentage on your total income. I could not find it again…but I ran across a web pate a year or so back that listed what flat rate tax brackets would have to be in order to collect the same amount of total tax from each percentile group that we have now…and the rate started at something in the 8% or 10% range for the low end and maxed out at 25% or so for the top 1% of income earners.

I’ve got some more on the voting rights controversies going on right now…but this has gotten long enough so I’ll save them for another day.

In the “What Were They Thinking” category.

Over at the Fort Lauderdale airport last week…a 74 year old Canadian citizen got into some sort of dispute with the airline employee at the counter and ended up walking away. The employee told him that he would have to take his luggage with him…at which point he told them there was a bomb in it and continued walking away. Net result…3 of the 4 terminals were evacuated and the airport was shut down for several hours with 50ish flights cancelled…and he was charged with making a false bomb threat — a second-degree felony. 

Up in Atlanta…someone in a black neighborhood called 911 to report a shooting incident…and amazingly enough a whole passle of cops responded. One of the cars was occupied by a white officer…who upon exiting his vehicle with his partner because the center of a pop up peaceful protest with residents screaming things like “get that white pig out of here” and “take him down”…to the point where the senior officer on scene sent him without his partner back to his car. Meanwhile…the dude that got shot keeps yelling that he’s just fine with white cops being there as long as they don’t let him die.

How is this not racist…and how does it show support for the cops who put their lives on the line each and every day.

Like I said…What…Were…They…Thinking. Short answer…they weren’t and racism goes both ways.

This week…a documentary was released on the 3rd anniversary of the suicide of Anthony Bourdain…who I’ll admit we did watch his show back when it was on. I have to admit…the original No Reservations was worth watching but the replacement show Layover was not nearly as good but was decent…his third show Parts Unknown took a distinctly more political slant and became more commentary than travel related. No problem with that…his show so his ideas…but then eventually he killed himself apparently over depression because his girlfriend left him and then last week’s documentary. It included some apparently record quotes by him as part of the liberal canonization of the man…but it turns out that he never actually said some of those things. The producer/director/whoever was in charge took a bunch of excerpts from his email and then used an AI voice to mimic him actually saying them and presented them in the film as ‘quotes’. Not quite accurate and he was pilloried by even the liberal press…and apparently he thought and still thinks that there isn’t anything wrong with doing so…because it enhanced his ‘art’.

I did get a couple critter photos out back yesterday…but Neil ain’t processed them for me yet so they’ll have to wait ’til next time I reckon.

OK, enough of that for today…on to interesting things found on the net.

I really wish that ‘news sources’ would hire writers who can construct a sentence that makes sense and a headline that both makes sense and actually is supported by the article. Today’s case in point is an article from yahoo.com about one of the alternate US Olympic gymnasts who tested positive for COVID in the athlete’s village despite being fully vaccinated…that’s newsworthy but then about halfway through the article it says “the main team members…and then named them…are quartered together separately”.

Now I ask ya…do those bolded words above make a lick o’ sense? Nope.

This one was posted in the Attic section on Neil’s photography forum…and while I’m sure that one could have written a similar blurb about the Republican Party…this one was about the Democrats…and while it is pithy and written to slam that party…there’s a whole lot of truth in what it says.

SuccessfulHateGroup

This is a Green Tree Python…a 2 meter long snake found in South America.

GreenTreePython

Yes…I said Green Tree Python. 

But it’s yellow you say? Correct-amundo…the babies are apparently yellow.

The driver of this truck is sooooooo fired. No, the bridge did not fall on the truck…he hit it so hard that (a) the bed of the truck was detached from the remainder of the t ruck which is presumably either under or past the bridge and (b) the bridge structure was knocked 4 or 5 feet sideways.

You did know that most bridges are not actually attached to their support structure, right? For thermal expansion reasons generally they just sit on top situated in such a manner with slots, shelves and such so that they can’t fall off the supports.

DriverIsSoFired

PeacefulTransitionOfPower

These two require some thought…

Horse picnic

HorsePicnic

Another from the photo forum…that’s a 35mm film can for those of you who aren’t old enough to remember what they are.

SmallTupperware

How lost are they?

HowLostAreThey

And finally…anybody who’s ever gotten a package from Amazon can appreciate this…a SIM card is about a half inch square and less than 1/8 inch thick.

AmazonPackaging

Cyas.

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

Hurricane Elsa…She Sorta Wussed Out On Us

Before I get into all of that…sorry ‘bout not posting for the past going on 3 weeks now…but there just ain’t been anything worth yakking about…it’s been raining a lot so no wildlife out at the pond, we skipped Date Night the past 2 weeks once because Connie wasn’t feeling well and once for Elsa, and we haven’t been to the Elks in a couple weeks either.

We just have been staying home doin nuttin’ as they say.

We did have a nice dinner for Independence Day…some gourmet mashed taters, bison burgers topped with onions and mushrooms and cheese, and some corn on the cob…but it was way too hot too cook outside that day so we just steamed them inside…not quite as good as grilling them but it is what it is. Neil also made some of his famous Blueberry Crisp using the recipe that we got from Dogbite and Catscratch some years back…only instead of blueberries he used a can of peach slices and made it Peach Cobbler Crisp…we tried it with just whipped cream, then with caramel sauce and whipped cream, then with mint chocolate chip ice cream…and we’re going back wot the caramel sauce and whipped cream for the last one this evening as it was the best topping…next time he does peaches he needs to add a bit of sugar to the syrup and peach mixture before piling on the crisp part and baking it.

Connie got herself a new Apple Silicon M1 MacBook Air a couple weeks back…well, actually Neil got it for her…and then since he’s the head of the IT department he set it up for her. She got the Rose Gold case one to match her iPhone and iPad…she’s happy because it’s faster and since it’s got a better screen things on it are a lot clearer for her than before. He investigated trading her old one in…Apple takes them in trade…but it was only worth about 100 bucks so he’s keeping it for a spare on the shelf at least for now. Hopefully the new higher performance one will get released soon and he can upgrade his 2015 MacBook Pro as well…but her old one was from 2013 so she needed a new one worse than he does although his keys are a lot more worn off then her old one is…good thing he’s a touch typist I reckon.

So…Hurricane Else…guess ya read ‘bout it over the past week or so as it made it’s way through the islands down in the Caribbean…it mostly stayed just a tropical storm and after passing over Cuba heading mostly west it took a right just past Key West and headed up the west side of Florida. It turned into a hurricane category 1 just after it passed about 50 miles west of North Fort Myers and then weakened again before making landfall up the coast just east of Cedar Key and north of Tampa. 

Not knowing what it would do…we sort of rigged for storms at home…moved the plants inside from the lanai as well as some of the lighter stuff into the garage. The heavier stuff on the lanai got shoved over into one corner and he put a couple of tie downs around it to hold everything steady. We had expected…and were forecast for…winds of 40-50 knots but the highest wind we recorded was just 26 and that just once. Rainwise…we got about 4.5 inches over the 36 hours it rained…again mostly just regular rain and not your typical hurricane downpour. We were on the northeast side of the storm as it past which is the worst side usually but Elsa was a strange one. She really didn’t have a defined eye like most tropical storms/hurricanes do but sort of an oval center of circulation with no defined clear area in the middle. The strangest part was that our strongest wind and most of the heavy rain happened after she was past us and north of Tampa…we did get some thunderstorms in the wee hours of Wednesday morning and a tornado warning but as far as we heard no actual tornadoes on the ground.

Sure enough…by mid day on Wednesday it was no longer raining and by late afternoon the sun was back out and we were right back into Florida summertime weather. After Neil’s bike ride this morning (Thursday) we put the lanai back together after Neil took the opportunity to blow all the dirt and stuff out the doors since it was empty already.

Dinner tonight…he’s got a pork tenderloin marinating in some dry rub in the fridge and some corn he got from the Winn Dixie the other day along with a zucchini he’ll grill for her…he’ll probably do a couple of mushrooms for a side dish for himself.

I don’t have any Fun Stuff© to report on or cool wildlife photos for ya…but he did give me a few photos to illustrate how much our pond out back varies it’s water level over the year.

Normally…summer is the rainy season down here and winter is the dry season. Last summer…2020…however it really didn’t rain much in our neighborhood, it seemed like most of the storms coming in from the southwest from the Gulf (the typical direction) split and it rained north and south of us but not where we were. Consequently, the pond got pretty low and then even lower during the dry season this past winter.

None of these are really great shots…but they’re just helpful to show you the water level change. Pay attention to the notes in the captions as they’ll become clear later on. The first three were taken some last summer and some at the beginning of the dry season.

In this first one…note the position of the couple of clumps of grass at the far left side near the end of the lake, also the dry bank areas on the left side of the pond (across from our house which is just out of frame to the right) known as Ragnar Beach, and also the partial tree on the far right side, particularly how far it is from the water. Also all the dry clumps of grass on the right side of the lake (right of center in the image) just behind the house. This one was from last summer sometime.

D75 5595

Ragnar Beach at the end of the 2021 dry season…as you can see it’s a lot more beach than in the above…the top of the sandy bank is about 4 feet out of the water at this point.

D75 5117

This one is Alligator Shelf…in the first shot above it is underwater just about where the circular ripple is right the dark double clump in the first shot…this was taken at the end of the dry season in April or so and is about 3 feet or so lower than in the first shot which was already pretty low. 

D75 5837

The rest of these were all taken after Else passed through. First one…the grass clumps just left of center are the same clumps that were high and dry in the first shot…and Alligator Shelf is just about where the reflected sky is visible in the water right of the grass and left of the sign reflection in the water. The shelf is about 4 feet underwater today.

Z72 001 copy

Ragnar Beach…well it would be if it wasn’t under water. All of those grass clumps that are surrounded by water were high and dry a month ago.

Z72 003 copy

Remember that partial tree from the first shot…as you can see in this one it’s just about at the water line and the clump of grass you can see about even with it was dry a month ago and is now several feet under. All of those small grass tufts just below center of the image were also dry.

Z72 019

This is the bank just behind our lanai…about 12 or so feet from the edge and 4 feet down. The bank has about a 45 degree slope and the edge of the grass is about a foot deep.

Z72 024

So…you might be thinking that we’re about to get flooded but fear not…it would take a lot…a huge amount more…before it got up to us. The edge of the lanai is 4 feet at least above the current water level and with the bank the way it is every foot of rise increases the pond surface are by 25% or so…meaning it would take more water to go up another foot than it did for the previous foot. Even if it got to the lanai it would need another foot rise to get to the house and that would increase the pond area by 10 or 20 times…so we’re not worried.

We did not lose power at all…in fact I heard of no outages in the entire area but that’s because most of the power infrastructure to the houses is underground. The high voltage lines are kept clear of trees and once it leaves the substation for a development it’s underground in waterproof conduit.

And that’s about all the excitement for this week…sorry to ramble on about pond levels and such but it’s something for ya…

Interesting things found on the net.

I’m really puzzled why math people feel it necessary to figure out things like this.

MoreMathWeirdness

and 296³ + 584³ + 415³ = 296,584,415 710³ + 656³ + 413³ = 710,656,413 828³ + 538³ + 472³ = 828,538,472

It turns out that if you square 99 and then take the reciprocal you get a very strange number as well.

99Squared

And then there’s the number 2592…or the ABCD number. It is the only number known such that ABCD is equal to A to the B power times C to the D power. 

You might need to be a nerd from the 60s to get this one…think The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The books…a trilogy consisting of 5 books and then a 6th sequel)…was written by the late Douglas Adams and it also includes “The Restaurant at the End of the Universe”, “Life, the Universe, and Everything”, “So Long, and Thanks For all the Fish”, “Mostly Harmless”, and “And Another Thing”. On page 16 of the first book you’ll find that 42 is

RequiresANerd

Ima tellin’ ya…nobody understands mathematicians…nobody.

ScaredSnowman

TherapistSaysWow

RomanticWife

SerialKiller

TalkAboutMozart

LowFlyingAircraft

SpeedLimit35

HavitureWay

WifesSize

And finally…

HighwayToHell

Cyas.

Posted in Homebody, Nature | Leave a comment

We’re Back

We took a short trip up to VA to see Alex and his parents this week and last…gone from home for 7 days. 

It’s about 900 miles up there so going up we stopped overnight in Florence SC as it’s a bit over halfway and then got to our hotel in Midlothian mid-afternoon last Thursday. After checking in we had a short rest and a shower and then went over to the kid’s house for dinner which turned out to be pizza. Alex is still in school in the mornings so our original plan was to head over there after school was done for the day. It turned out that Bryan had an appointment he needed to go to so on Friday we showed up early enough for him to make that and watched Alex while he did school remotely…it was Field day so mostly they were doing various puzzles and exercises. After that…Bryan made waffles for dinner and then we headed back to the hotel.

By bedtime…it was clear that Neil had picked up a cold somewhere along the way…sore throat, aches and pains and sniffles. He took some drugs and wasn’t any better Saturday morning…but we headed over to the kid’s house for Alex’s class picnic at the park in their development…it was cold and windy so nobody really stayed very long and we got back to the house in the mid afternoon. For dinner…we headed over to a local Mexican place and had dinner before heading back to the hotel from the restaurant.

Sunday morning we changed our plans a bit…we would still leave Monday as planned but instead of going to Charleston SC for 2 nights as we had never seen Fort Sumter despite living there 6 years or so…and then heading back to Florida on Wednesday. The hotel we were going to be in was on the expensive side and we know from experience that dinner in Charleston downtown is expensive…and there would be another $60 for 2 ferry tickets out to the fort and back. With Neil feeling poorly…we would not have enjoyed the trip so we cancelled that reservation…gotta love hotels.com and their cancellation fee policy…and would head home on Monday.

We did stop by the Wegmans on the way to the kid’s house…bought a couple of duck breasts that just aren’t available down in Florida and also picked up some steaks as neither Neil or Connie wanted another dinner out…we needed some basic home cooked food at least one night. Bryan made a sautéed red potato and mushroom dish…which Neil decided to steal as it was pretty darned good…and Neil grilled some NY Strip steaks which we had along with a bottle of wine they also picked up at Wegmans…the kids don’t drink but a good steak really needs a good wine in our opinion.

By the time dinner was done and cleaned up it was Alex’s bedtime so we bid them adieu after Connie read a book to him and headed bak to the hotel. 

Monday it was a repeat of the previous trip…up early and on the road with stops for food and gas. We overnighted in the Savannah GA area, ran out to a Longhorn Steakhouse nearby for dinner and then back to the hotel. By this time Neil was feeling somewhat better except for the aches and being tired so they were glad they had changed their plans…Fort Sumter will always be there on the next trip.

Tuesday we finished the drive home and got unpacked…then Neil did some pasta with scallops and bacon with a lemon wine sauce for dinner.

It’s been raining a lot lately…we’ve had over 4 inches in the 3+ days we’ve been back and over 11 for the last month…as a result our pond out back has filled up at least 2 to 3 feet. It was down almost as low as it got last summer but is back to full now. With the rain and the ongoing construction of new houses up in the front of Magnolia Landing…they’re doing the infrastructure layout for water, sewer, and electrical which necessitated a road closure on the main road in and an associated detour through a couple of the other side residential streets…a lot of the storm drains are temporarily blocked to keep construction debris out of them so there was 6 or 8 inches of water on the road as we drove back home from the Elks Lodge taco night on Thursday. It was better today (Friday) and looks like it will be less dreary over the weekend and into next week.

So…no pictures for ya this week…woulda had some from Fort Sumter if we had gone…but we didn’t so you don’t.

Interesting things found on the internet.

ParkingSpaceForGuys

CowHumor

SquirrelsCrossingRoad

ThisComplicatesThings

How blondes think cows work.

BlondesHowCowsWork

ShortGunStory

This one was from Neil’s photography forum…but it was in the non photo section.

PresentCompanyExcluded

The image could easily have a man with the kangaroo and it would still be funny. It did engender a bunch of comments from men on the forum that were along the lines of “gladly paid the price for the past 50 years and darn well worth it” as well as “when you find the one…never let her go”.

Cyas.

Posted in Homebody, Travel | Leave a comment

Memorial Day Weekend

This weekend is Memorial Day weekend…and like most of us we’ll be grilling some meat out back on the lanai on Monday and generally having a good time. Nothing wrong with that at all.

However…in the midst of your celebrations and libations…please take a moment to reflect on the actual holiday we’re celebrating and what it means. Politics aside…we have a free country here in the US of A with constitutional rights, a good economy, and plenty of brews and burgers for the holiday. Remember that it is our men and women in uniform who have fought for their country…and a good number of them have died for their country…in order for us to have the freedoms we have. Neil as you know retired from the Navy and although he was never in combat it was always a possibility that some situation could blow up somewhere in the world and we would end up in hostilities with another country.

I just took a look at wikipedia and going back to the Revolutionary war we’ve had 666,441…plus or minus…members of the armed forces killed in the service of their country. Most were men because until recently women were legally barred from serving in combat units but that number does include women who were killed not serving in combat units plus those serving in those units since the prohibition was lifted. 

That’s what the holiday is about…Memorial Day is a day to remember those who sacrificed their lives in the service of the country…and to thank them for their service and as President Lincoln said at Gettysburg…”they shall not have died in vain.”

So in the midst of your barbecuing and quaffing of tasty beverages…don’t forget to remember the fallen and to raise a toast in their honor. And if you are a veteran…as Neil is…I thank you and appreciate your service.

OK…what else is going on. We headed off to Orlando on Thursday morning for the Florida Elks Convention at the Rosen Center which is immediately adjacent to Sea World…and I gotta tell you I-4 in Orlando is about the worst traffic we’ve ever been in and that includes LA, San Francisco, and NYC. It’s just turrible as Charles Barkley would say…turrible.

Neil says that when we go up for the convention next year he’s finding a way to get there without getting onto I-4…it’s that bad.

Anyways…they had these great plans on where they were going to eat out on Thursday and Friday nights…but then they discovered the Hospitality Suites. Essentially each district gets a suite for their use from the hotel as part of the convention package along with the Ladies of Elks and several other groups associated with them…and every darned one of them has an open bar and way too much eatables. Each district has somewhere between a dozen and two dozen lodges in it and each lodge is told by their district management what they should provide for the hospitality suite…6 bottles of booze or whatever along with mixers, food and all the various accessories and ingredients needed…and none of it is the cheap booze, it’s all top shelf stuff.

So by the time you wander around 3 or 4 of those and spend 30 or 45 minutes at each socializing, nibbling, and quaffing adult beverages…well let’s just say that dinner becomes and afterthought. Thursday night they were still a bit hungry so they split an appetizer…conch fritters which while they did have calories had pretty much no flavor…at the poolside bar before heading back up to the room.

Friday morning came early with the alarm going off at 0430…Connie had a Ladies of Elks luncheon at noon but he was headed back over to the Orlando Wetlands Park Preserve to see the birds…and he needed to be there at sunrise which was 0630…and it was 40 miles away. He stopped by the Golden Arches and got a breakfast sammy and cup of coffee for breakfast and headed over. Arriving just before sunrise and the park opening…he went on a nice 4 mile or so hike around the marshes and lakes before getting back to the parking lot about 0830 to head back to the hotel…that might seem like a pretty early stopping point but the beautiful golden light only hangs around for an hour or so in the morning and afternoon…photographers call it the Golden Hour.

He got some good shots and took a nap for a bit when he got back to the hotel…then had a cheese steak for lunch while Connie was dining on her huge luncheon meal…then they spent a couple hours at the pool before heading off to another evening in the Hospitality Suites. They ensured that they got enough for dinner on Friday and headed up to bed when they got tired.

Saturday morning Connie had her Ladies of Elks business meeting so Neil packed the car, checked out, and waited in the lobby until she was finished then we headed home. Having failed to figure out a better way to go they started west on I-4…it was all of 15 miles over to FL-27 which they would be taking south to head home. Well…I-4 was basically a parking lot so they got off at the first exit and Connie navigated them over the river and through the woods but not to Grandma’s house…to FL-27 instead. Those 15 miles took them about 45 minutes in total but it was still better than the hour+ it would have taken if they had stayed on I-4. Once on FL-27 it was a nice easy drive back home down 27, US-17, and I-75 to home. They stopped and Neil bought some corn to cook tomorrow along with our bison burgers and unpacked the car before heading over to St. Therese for 1600 Mass as Sunday was a bike day and he likes to go early during the summer before it gets too hot. At Mass…we discovered there was no cantor…don’t know whether she forgot or had an issue but as Connie was the only other cantor in the music section she got drafted to sing…she was apprehensive as she is normally a preparer and likes to practice to get it perfect…she hates going into it cold…but she did her usual outstanding job. Fortunately…most of the music was stuff she had sung before so even though it was awhile back she was at least familiar with the tune and words. The only issue was the Alleluah before the Gospel…there’s a refrain at the beginning and end with a verse in the middle…the refrain is standard so she was OK for that but she had no words for the verse and there wasn’t a copy she could use…so Marge (the music director) sang just the verse which was printed on her piano music and Connie handled the refrain. Since it is Memorial Day weekend…the Mass recessional hymn was God Bless America which is one of her favorites…and she did the flourish stratospheric note version at the end…got herself an ovation from the crowd which is atypical for Mass. 

Dinner tonight will be some scallops with either linguini or polenta…haven’t figured out what Connie wants yet but I know it will involve butter and bacon and garlic and cheese…so how could it be bad…oh yeah, and some wine too.

OK…let’s get on to the images from Neil’s trip over to the Orlando Wetlands Preserve Park…which is actually located in Christmas Florida…not Orlando.

Just after entering the marsh area of the park about 1/4 miles from the parking lot…sun just coming up.

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Great Blue Heron against the rising sun.

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Daddy Sandhill Crane doing his best to look fearsome and aggressive to keep Neil away from his colt…yeah, that’s what a baby Sandhill Crane is called…not sure why he was concerned because this was with the bird lens at a range of maybe 50 yards and a bit later on he walked past them at about 10 feet and both dad, mom, and colt just ignored him.

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Roseate Spoonbills.

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Roseate Spoonbill and Black Bellied Whistling Duck.

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Dad Sandhill Crane still being fearsome.

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Another Great Blue Heron.

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Male Cardinal.

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The Sandhill Crane family after Neil walked past them…he was walking down the middle of the road as he passed and they were standing where they are in this shot…Dad must have decided Neil wasn’t a threat by then.

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Tricolor Heron…also known as a Louisiana Heron…still in breeding plumage as he has the little white ponytail on the back of his head.

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Black vultures against the early morning sky…this is about 1/4 of the clump of trees in the shot and there were literally hundreds of them perched there.

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Osprey with some Spanish Moss hanging from his talons…or maybe her talons, can’t tell as the sexes look the same. Not sure if it was taking nesting material back to the nest or not but don’t think so as this is just hanging by a strand from the lower leg as opposed to being carried if it was nesting intended.

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Mottled Duck.

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Moorhen.

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Gator portrait…this was about 10 feet from Neil and is maybe 7 or 8 feet long but he thought it made a nice shot…you can see the swamp reflected in it’s eyeball.

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There are a few wading birds in this shot as you can see.

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A pretty big bull gator doing his “I’m bigger than you” thing. They arch themselves like this and do a rumbling groaning thing and the lower the pitch the larger the gator is…it’s a useful mechanism for them to establish dominance over an area and it’s females for breeding. Sometimes you can see water droplets dancing from the vibration of pretty much the whole body of the gator.

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This is…I think…Bob…one of the regulars at the park said that the locals had named him. Bob is a pretty big fella…after he passed and went into the water Neil went back and measured the road and it is about 15 feet wide…so that makes Bob probably 12 or 13 feet long which is huge for a gator. This shot was actually taken before the one above and Bob was headed for the area where Neil spotted the rumbler above so it might be the same gator although if it is his swim over there washed all the algae off of his back. Neil had noticed a couple of dozen narrow drag marks about an inch wide going across the road and thought they were from snakes crawling over but decided they were too straight for that and then noticed that Bob had left one behind as well so what he was seeing were gator crossings.

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Another Tricolor Heron.

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Dragonfly.

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Osprey…this one actually has nesting material with it as it is grasped in the talons.

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Great Blue Heron.

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Another Moorhen.

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Black Bellied Whistling Ducks…Neil’s never seen ducks up in a tree before.

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Male Red Winged Blackbird.

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Interesting things found on the net.

OstrichRunning

BonelessDonuts

TimingIsKey

DryDockersPants

Clipboard

MissingTheBoat

GeorgiaWeatherman

ColdCase

Cyas.

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

Dang…Time Flies When You’re Having Fun

Yup…2 weeks since my last post and I dunno what happened…life I guess so let me catch ya up.

The first week we did nuttin’…

Last week we had a short vacation out of town for Neil’s birthday which was on Friday. Connie had a Ladies of Elks meeting up at the Rotonda Lodge on Thursday morning so she rode up with some friends and after their meeting and lunch Neil picked her up and we headed on over to Englewood Beach and stayed at the Beach Croft Motel for 2 nights…our plan was to have dinner at the Tiki Bar on Thursday and then hit the beach Friday AM with dinner Friday night before coming home Saturday morning. That worked out excellently except for the original place we were going to eat having a shootout a couple days before so we changed our plans and ate at the Waverly Restaurant instead. Turns out the shootout was out in the street in front of the restaurant and it wasn’t involved…the shooter and shootee had an ongoing argument from months ago and picked it up at a wedding they both attended earlier in the day. No matter…the original location was pretty much a beach dive and Connie would not have been comfortable there since she was dressed up…images to follow…but the Waverly although downstairs was a beach bar had a very nice upstairs with windows overlooking the beach. They had eaten brunch close to noon in the morning after spending a couple hours on the beach before it got too hot…so weren’t really that hungry…and chose 3 appetizers instead of eating dinner. They split a plate of Oysters Rockefeller which were excellent then Neil had a half pound of shrimp…again excellent once he added some hot sauce to the cocktail sauce and Connie had crab cakes which were mostly bread with a few shreds of crab in them so not so great. They split a creme brulee for desert which was also excellent. They walked back across the street to to the motel, wandered out to the beach for sunset, and that was it for the vacation. They headed home Saturday morning since we had tickets to the Steak and Rib night at our Elks Lodge and Connie was scheduled to cantor the 0800 Mass on Sunday…so it was a pretty busy 4 days to end the week.

There’s been a lot of stupidity in the news this week…if you’re not interested in it ya can skip on ahead to the photo section below.

Last week seemed to be a really heavy duty week in the media talking about then insurrection back on Jan 6…and I’ve been thinking that insurrection might be a mite strong of a description so I looked it up…in order to convict anyone of a crime the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt each of the elements of the crime as listed in the appropriate statute. Looking up the elements of insurrection and the elements of sedition in the Code of Federal Regulations here’s what it says.

Whoever incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.

And for sedition

If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.

So let’s look at what actually happened. The President had a rally in which he never said to invade the Capitol…he said to march down there and protest. Yes…he mentioned the word ‘fight’ but just like when a football coach tells his team to ‘fight’ there is more than one definition of that word. Some of the crowd went home and a bunch went to the Capitol to protest…on the order of 2,000 to 3,000 based on estimates I’ve seen but the actual number isn’t relevant to the discussion…and some number of those people went inside the Capitol…and some number of those were either carrying firearms which were not used in the incident or used fire extinguishers or poles or whatever to smash windows. Remember…a grand total of 5 people died either during the incident or shortly afterwards…4 of those were of natural causes…and one person (a protester) was shot and killed by a member of the Capitol Police…no shots were fired by any of the protesters.

Were these people in rebellion against the laws of the US or its authority? Possibly they were but a more reasoned evaluation might indicate that they were merely protesting the certification of the Presidential election.

Were they conspiring to overthrow, put down, or destroy by force the government…levying war against the government…or by force delaying the execution of US law…or possessing any property of the US. The first two I think not but the last two you might be able to make a reasonable argument that they were delaying the execution but then one gets into the definition of ‘force’ and the definition of ‘possessing’ the property of the US.

However…let’s consider the uprisings out in Portland, Seattle, et. al. What really happened there? Again…there were a large number of protesters at a rally…and some number of them turned violent, seized federal buildings and city buildings, looted, burned, were armed with firearms (although they were mostly not used), attacked police and destroyed police/city/federal property.

All I’m saying is that if the people on Jan 6 committed insurrection or sedition…the BLM and whatever other protesters out in Portland and Seattle did as well…since looking dispassionately at the facts both groups essentially committed the same crimes. Most of the people at both protests were peaceful and did not participate in the law breaking activities…and those that did committed the same crimes. The fact that one was in DC at the Capitol and one was in Portland at the police precinct makes no difference to the words in the statute about force, possessing, or waging war.

Moving along…

Over in one of America’s most dangerous cities…Mayor Lightfoot of Chicago has announced that as she comes up on her two year anniversary of taking office she will ONLY grant interviews to ‘reporters of color’…her words…because of the ‘overwhelming whiteness and maleness’…again her words…of the Chicago media. This is an elected city official going on record that she will be racist and only grant interviews to black or brown people. Democrats and liberals are insisting that this isn’t racist at all but justice. But again folks…let’s get real…judging whether you will give a reporter an interview based on the amount of melanin in their skin…is purely and simply making a decision based on race…and if the police are racist because they pull over black motorists based on their blackness…then she is racist in granting interviews based on the blackness of the reporter’s skin.

Moving onto something a little lighter…but just as idiotic…

From the
Wall Street Journal
…out in the PRC they want to cancel Math class apparently. 

They have a proposed mathematics curriculum framework to guide instruction in the K-12 grades which includes the following

  • Usage of a manual from equitablemath.org named “A Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction: Dismantling Racism in Mathematics Instruction”. This document states that if teacher addresses a student’s mistake it is an example of “white supremacy culture in the mathematics classroom”…and it sets forth some indicators of this white supremacy culture including focus on getting the right answer, teaching math in a linear fashion, requiring students to show their work, and grading them on demonstrated knowledge of the subject matter. Further…the document states that “the concept of mathematics being purely objective is unequivocally false” and that “upholding the idea that there are always right and wrong answers perpetuates objectivity”. In other words…a student doesn’t need to get the right answer because if you make them get the right answer and demonstrate how they got it and demonstrate knowledge of the principles being taught…then the system is racist.
  • This framework rejects the goal of preparing students to take Algebra II in the 8th grade…a long time goal of education reformers…because forcing them to take Algebra II in the 8th grade is racist. Studies have shown that in 1999 this was true for 16% of students and it increased to 67% in 2013 and that ethnic minority and low income students were the biggest beneficiaries of this policy…student success tripled over all but increased 5 times for black students and 6 times for Latino or low income students.
  • The framework rejects tracking…which is the system whereby students are grouped by ability into classes rather than by grade…thus students having a harder time in math get instructed in a manner to increase their understanding while more advanced students are allowed to progress faster. Essentially…under this framework gifted students are prohibited from reaching their potential learning ability.
  • The framework says that math should be taught so that it can be used for social justice and pushes teachers to develop their students sociopolitical consciousness…instead of…well…just teaching math. Math is to be used to change the world…and teachers are supposed to adopt a culturally relevant pedagogy help students solve real world problems that resulting social inequities. 
  • The framework suggests learning fractions and how they can be used to organize a protest march. Seems to me that learning fractions is the goal here and fractions don’t have anything to do with protest organization…but that’s just me.

What the heck is wrong with these people? Math is math…and the answer is either right or wrong…and if the student gets the wrong answer then he/she needs more instruction to understand how to get the correct answer. Turning out a generation that believes the right answer is irrelevant will only ensure that they don’t get into better colleges, get an education, and enable themselves to get decent jobs.

Educators can argue about social justice and white supremacy and all that other crap all they want to…but they’re forgetting the sole and essential purpose of the educational system. It isn’t to produce social justice warriors and it isn’t to overcome this supposed white supremacy culture. The purpose…the only purpose…of school systems, teachers, and administrators is to educate the children…and turning out students illiterate in math is beyond doing them a disservice…it borders on criminal negligence in my opinion.

And it’s not just California…it’s everywhere. In Fairfax VA…where we lived before starting our RV life…the preeminent high school is Thomas Jefferson and it has for years required an admittance test and only the best and brightest are admitted. As it turns out…students of Asian descent are the largest portion of the student body because they are culturally encouraged by their parents to reach for the stars, get an education, and excel. Nope…not any more…apparently the admission test is being eliminated and it will become just another high school rather than one filled with gifted students of all races and ethnicities.

Ok…let’s see some images…these are taken (mostly) with Neil’s new mirrorless Nikon Z7II camera body and those that weren’t were with Connie’s Z50, the smaller mirrorless body she carries.

Great Egret out back of the lanai.

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Butterflies or moths…I can never tell or remember the differences.

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Sea oats our first night at the beach.

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Turtle nest…Neil saw the Turtle Patrol ladies both mornings he was out early…they come out to find and mark off new nests.

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Sea oats from a better angle without the condo in the background.

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First sunset and pelican.

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Brown pelican.

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Common tern.

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Herring gull…somewhere between the juvenile and adult plumage.

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Great Blue Heron…an uncommon site at the beach as they usually stay in fresh or brackish water areas.

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Jogger scared him off.

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And off he goes between the sunbathers.

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Porpoise.

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The best dressed lady on the beach at our second sunset…she left her heels in the motel room.

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Sitting in the chair outside The Waverly…this was before the sunset and beach pictures above.

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Shell sculpture at the entrance to Englewood Beach where you come onto the island…we took this as we left the island and headed home.

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Interesting things found on the net.

SeenItAll

FloridaHot

ElectricianExperienced

Found the next two in the gift shop at Englewood Beach.

ShoppingSocialDistancing

TenCookies

IKnowHowManyOneIs

Then there’s this 39 digit number which is the sum of the 39th power of each of its digits…math people must be really bored to worry about figuring stuff like this out…but I guess if the PRC gets its way and outlaws getting the right answer then math people figuring out stuff this will eventually become a thing of the past…since nobody will know either what the 39th power or a digit is or how to add the results up correctly.

39DigitNumber

Cyas.

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

New Camera Body Arrived

Things continue to be pretty normal ‘round here…except that it’s hot and in the high 80s to low 90s every day as we get into summer. That means that Neil changed his bike riding routine and is trying to get out earlier. We set the alarm for 0530 on bike days…we’re usually awake by then anyway…and Connie makes coffee around 0700 and he tries to head out by 0830. It’s still warm and humid then but it isn’t nearly as bad as if he goes out at 1000 or 1030.

Other than that…not really much is new. We are keeping the A/C on almost all the time but are able to open up for a few hours about half the days…if it’s nice Connie opens up when she gets up to make coffee and we close up when it gets to be time…sometimes as late as 1400 depending on weather and breezes.

Neil’s new Nikon Z7II body came in on Sunday…it was originally supposed to get here on Monday but FedEx came a day early…and that delivery makes the whole pile of ‘useless stuff’ over on the couch suddenly ‘useful’. He spent a couple hours configuring all the various settings to his desires yesterday afternoon and got a few test shots that I will add below. There’s gonna be a bit of a learning curve on the new body as the autofocus modes and areas are completely different from his DSLR that he used before…he’s been playing with Connie’s Z50 to start to get used to those but his new one has even more modes than her entry level Z50 does.

He also ordered himself another solid state drive for the iMac back in the office that he does most of his processing on…he wants to move his Lightroom catalog off of the spinning hard drive RAID array it currently lives on and onto a solid state drive for speed purposes. He did an experiment yesterday and did a couple test imports…starting with a 60GB set of files on a camera memory card he started an import into the catalog on the RAID…he stopped it after 15+ minutes and it was only about 20% complete. He then copied the catalog over to the internal SSD and repeated the import…it stopped itself after 12 minutes because the drive in the iMac was full but it did fully import 80% of the 60GB in that time. So…he ordered himself a 2 TB external SSD that will hook up to the fast Thunderbolt 3 port on the back of the computer and will move booting, applications, and Lightroom to that drive instead. 

Our local eaglets have both fledged the nest and are flying around doing their juvenile eagle thing…Harriet and M15 are presumably taking them on hunting trips to start to teach them how to feed themselves. We’ve all seen the photos of eagles snatching fish out of rivers or lakes but that’s an adult skill and takes them a year or two to perfect…in the meantime the juveniles…like adult eagles…will both eat just about anything dead or alive or will gladly steal fish from ospreys. Even adult eagles mostly are scavengers rather than hunters…at least in urban and suburban areas.

Here’s a shot of E17 and E18…no idea on their sex at this point. I don’t know which is which but the close one appears to be female since it’s a bit larger…although that could just be the perspective caused by the relatively close video camera on the nest. They are essentially full grown at this point to adult size and will learn to hunt and each for themselves over the next few months before heading off to live alone until they’re 4 years or so old and reach sexual maturity when they will look for a mate for life and start raising their own eaglets.

Screen Shot 2021 04 26 at 4 21 37 PM

Here are some shots he’s gotten the past week or so…the beginning ones were taken with Connie’s Z50 and his bird lens as he started work on getting familiar with the whole mirrorless way of doing business.

This is what the news called the “pink moon” earlier this month…it’s not actually pink but it’s also called a super-moon…because it’s bigger than normal full moons are. That’s obviously because the close approach of the moon over the year varies since it’s orbit is slightly elliptical varying in close approach by about 14,000 kilometers or 8,680 miles…whenever the closer distance coincides with a full moon you get the super-moon.

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Ragnar’s back.

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And our friendly neighborhood non-skittish Great Blue Heron. You can see his breeding plumage in the first couple…the jaunty little feather off the back of his head.

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The ones above were taken right outside our lanai…Neil actually had to back away from him for the full body shot as he was pretty close for the bird lens but that’s the one he had at the moment. Shortly after that he took off to the other side of the pond and Neil got a nice flight sequence…one good thing about the Z software is that it does a better job of latching onto and holding focus on the bird.

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And a couple that he got yesterday with his new Z7II and the bird lens…these aren’t quite as good as they should be photographically as they were shot in JPEG instead of his normal RAW image mode (operator error on his part in doing the setup…it’s fixed now) so lighting and processing aren’t really up to snuff. The AF did really nail the focus on the osprey as it turned over our pond in the first one.

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Interesting things found on the net.

DontJudgeByRelatives

OnlyTwoFaults

StrugglesWithMath

GoAway

FuneralFlowers

FlintstonesInDubai

DontScareTheDonuts

UniverseMorons

Cyas.

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

Random Investigations and Musings…and Wildlife Too

OK first up…what’s going on around Long Pond Road. Not much really, still waiting on Neil’s new camera body but other than that not much. Connie is now the President of the Ladies of Elks…she spent almost 2 full days this past week straightening out their IRS paperwork which didn’t get done before because the responsible party who was supposed to do it refuses to deal with the IRS. Like Neil sez…it’s hard to get good help. Nuts I say…but that part is straightened out…or it will be in 6 weeks which is how long the IRS takes to input the info she gave them into the computer system…seems like the info could have just gotten typed straight in but mebbe it has to get reviewed and approved because…ya know…the gummint is involved so it can’t be easy. 

We’ve suffered a lot of things under COVID…but eatin’ well ain’t one of ‘em…we keep coming up with simply outstanding meals. Neil does most of the cooking but Connie brainstorms ideas and passes them along to him so we end up with Good Eats as Alton Brown would say. Today’s gonna be carne asada…that’s pork marinated in orange, lime, and lemon juices with chili powder and garlic. One that’s grilled he’ll grill some onions and Shishito peppers since we don’t have a reg’lar old bell pepper…and he whipped up a batch of corn tortilla dough a bit before. It’s restin’ now so after the meat and veggies are done he’ll divide it up into portions, smash ‘em in our tortilla press, and cook ‘em on our griddle. Add in some salsa for Connie and hot sauce and onion dip for Neil, squeeze a lime over them and they’ll be mighty tasty vittles…

I dunno know why…but I saw on the interwebs this week…again…how the former President incited a riot and directed an insurrection…so I figured I would ‘vestigate and see exactly what he said. Sure ‘nuff…googling ‘President Trump Speech January 6’ turned up a CNN transcription of the speech for my elucidation. Now Ima not gonna claim he won because there ain’t no evidence he did or that the election was stolen, rigged, or otherwise fraudulent…and Ima not gonna say that everything (or anything for that matter) he said was correct…I was jus’ lookin’ for the part where he incited the riot and insurrection.

The closest thing I could find to incitement was where he said “we’re gonna fight like hell” and “we’re gonna walk down Pennsylvania Avenue.
Here’s the link to the transcription
…I didn’t find anything else that seemed like incitement to me. Still though…they impeached him for it so it must be true.

But then I got to thinking ‘bout some other things I seen on the interwebs as well.

If it’s inciting insurrection to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue and is an actual insurrection to go into the Capitol…then why isn’t trying to burn down the police HQ out in Portland and taking possession of several square blocks in downtown and declaring yourselves independent of the US of A insurrection? Yeah…I know…BLM and all that and it was only a peaceful protest but I distinctly recall seeing a lot of fires, burning police vehicles, rocks getting tossed at the cops, and looting going on. Now the BLM folk claim that they’re being tarred with the wrong brush and it was just some ‘criminal elements’ who infiltrated their peaceful protest.

So’s…that got me to thinking. I don’t remember where I saw it but there were supposedly some 5,000 or 6,000 people at the President’s rally back on January 6…ya know, the one where he incited the riot and insurrection. I figure that maybe half of those people actually walked down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol so that’s call it 2,500 or 3,000 people at the Capitol. Yesterday…I saw that the DoJ was filing charges against about 400 or 500 people…total…over the incident…and that got me to thinking. If there were 3,000 people outside the Capitol and only 500 got arrested…then the other 2,500 must have been peaceful protestors. That means that the vast majority of the people at the protest were peaceful…just like the BLM ones are…and there were a few ‘criminal elements’ who took advantage of the situation. And of those 500 people arrested…I’m betting that the vast majority can only be charged with trespassing or not complying with law enforcement commands…just like most of the people arrested at the peaceful BLM protests.

Yes…there were some people who actively attacked the security forces, invaded and damaged property, and all that…but was it really as bad as the news is making it out? And if it is that bad…why is there no similar outcry against the BLM riots and the Occupy encampments which again took over city property a year or two back?

And why when Representative Maxine Waters says “We got to stay on the street. And we’ve got to get more active, we’ve got to get more confrontational. We’ve got to make sure that they know that we mean business.” in reference to a possible acquittal in the George Floyd case…why is that not incitement to riot?

And why…getting into another ‘person of color murdered by the police’ regarding the young lady who was shot by the police while lunging towards two other women with a knife…as clearly seen in the video…does LeBron James tweet out the name and photo of the officer involved with a note “You’re next.” How is that not incitement to violence. To his credit…it was a knee-jerk reaction on his part and once he saw the video he retracted and deleted his tweet and replaced it with one asking for a ‘full investigation’…or maybe that was just his PR flacks who told him to walk it back. 

I guess it comes down to what we’ve known all along…politicians and media lie and you can tell because their lips are moving. 

Anyways…enough of that…how ‘bout some pictures.

Since Neil does’t have the new body yet…on Friday it was a very pleasant afternoon so he took his camera and bird lens out along with a chair and sat in the shade by the lanai for an hour or so. He’s tried to sneak out when the birds are around but usually they get scared and fly off so he decided to just be part of the environment…and golly…it worked. Got some nice shots…mostly nothing special but there were a few excellent ones.

This Blue Jay was looking at him with one of those “what you talkin’ ‘bout, Willis” looks…if you can remember that TV show from the 80s.

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Brown Thasher.

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Mr. Cardinal…again looking at Neil rather strangely…or maybe he was working on romancing Mrs. Cardinal in the next shot as she was in the tree over his head.

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This bunny was hunched down in the grass eating out of the neighbor’s shrubbery.

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Out in the pond he spotted some fish…this one is about 2-1/2 feet long but I got no idea what it is…and more importantly why Ragnar hasn’t had him for lunch yet. Probably because there are dozens of them in there I guess based on the numbers we’ve seen at one time. That little concrete ledge it is over is about 10 inches under water or so and in another month will be dry by about a foot…but at the height of winter it was at least 3 to 4 feet under water…our pond level is falling pretty quickly as it does this time of year.

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Mr. Cardinal displaying for his lady friend.

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Another shot of the Blue Jay…or maybe a different one…who knows.

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A Red Bellied Woodpecker…although to be more accurate it should have been called a Red Headed Woodpecker…but there was already one of those, the whole head is red like he was dipped into the paint bucket so I guess Red Bellied was the next closest thing…even though there’s really not much red on the belly…down by the legs it does go from tan to dusky sorta reddish brown…but they didna ask me when they named it. We usually see this one pecking on the trees but it was eating on the ground for a change.

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Another shot of the Blue Jay…he kept coming back.

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One interesting catch…a Swallow Tailed Kite…so named because of the scissor shaped tail feathers. This is a bird of prey…like a hawk or eagle…and not really a swallow at all. Sorry Neil didn’t get a shot of it from the front…but that upgraded camera that he’s still waiting on has a much more sophisticated autofocus subject finding algorithm and he couldn’t get onto the bird and focused quickly enough for a front shot…but he did get a nice display of the swallow tail. This is a medium to medium-large bird…wingspan about 3 to 4 feet and 2 feet long including the tail. Neil’s seen them several times out on bike rides but mostly up at the front of the neighborhood…this is the first time we’ve seen one back near our pond. I think he was looking for the bunny to eat but by this time the bunny had retreated to the woods. 

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Another shot of the Brown Thrasher…this one was across the pond where the first one was closer out under the bush in the side yard.

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A Snowy Egret flew in and he was in a good spot for a couple of action shots as it chased a late afternoon snack. Luv dem golden slippers…he’s not a stand still ambush hunter like most wading birds are…Snowy’s shuffle their feet along the bottom while moving slowly and the bright feet scare the critters out of hiding then they pounce on them.

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And finally…a Boat Tailed Grackle…I’ll give you two guesses how they came up with the name.

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I got no interesting stuff…at least cartoon or image wise…from the net this week…that’s just the way the cookie crumbles some days.

Cyas.

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

Rolling Along

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Our chill Great Blue Heron dropped by as well.

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

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

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Interesting things found on the net.

PerspectiveOnVoterID

IfYouSeeBeer

GrumpyOldMan2

GrumpyOldMan1

ChooseWisely

DidYouEver

DistractAnEgyptianGod

BuryTheBody

Cyas.

Posted in Critters, Homebody, WIldlife | Leave a comment