31 December 2008

Laughter Therapy

if you haven't seen this performer before, you are in for a treat:

25 December 2008

Five Minutes

my 'backyard'if you just wait around for five minutes, the weather changes. we've been told this any number of times in our life, and not infrequently it is true.

today, as an example, it was mostly dry until sunrise, at which time the skies tried their best to bury us in more snow off and on during the day. i would think there was a final break, and five minutes later visibility would be 50 metres.

Spotted Towhee

well, here it is about 1430, and i think that final break has occurred. from daybreak to about 30 minutes ago, we probably received another 2-3 inches. yet, within the last hour, at least half of the white cover in the trees is already gone, taking with it about an inch.

Pileated Woodpecker, male

the white you see so prevalent in the first photo is almost completely gone from the evergreen needles and the smaller branches, but i'm seeing more birds out and about. witness the spotted towhee and the male pileated woodpecker, both of whom (with their entire families) seem married to my homemade suet. :)

24 December 2008

Holiday Music for the Ages

from the Richter Scales, a wonderful a Capella group, comes holiday music with a kick... :)

Stupid Season, Part 001

at one time in the '70s and '80s, news rooms started to notice (and document) "the silly season." given the availability of news gathering tools we have today, i'm prepared to start calling for a name change to "the stupid season."

To be honest with you, i could probably provide examples of Stupid Season daily for the rest of your natural lives... However, since it IS snowing outside (and has been for hours), and it is *a* holiday season (choose the one that fits your belief structure, and assume I said "[insert greeting here]"), here are a few cartoons that also exemplify the meaning of the season:


21 December 2008

A Red-headed Sunday

if the ivory-billed woodpecker is "the lord god bird," does that make the pileated woodpecker "the son-of-a-gun bird?"

this lovely gem has enjoyed my suet for years now, but within the last week insists on 5-10 minute feeds. no one has, so far, challenged his authority, not even the jays, crows, or the towhee family who may outnumber and certainly out-annoy but not outweigh him, even en toto...

i have to say i'm lucky to have all five western washington woodpeckers in the greenbelt behind my tax deduction, but my favourite of the bunch is the pileated.

as for "the others", the surprises on the suet have been many, from towhees to song and fox sparrows. at the moment, a towhee is showing a song sparrow who is boss by literally climbing into the suet container and flaring wings and tail feathers promiscuously. the sparrow isn't backing down, though, as the flaring and hopping and flitting that is good for one is obviously just as good for the other.

the encounter ends as a draw, as both flit completely off the railing and out-of-sight...

before friday night's entertainment, we had about 4 inches of snow on the ground. by this evening, we have not quite a foot of white heaven, but underneath is almost an inch of compacted teflon... if you don't have to drive tonight or tomorrow, please don't.

18 December 2008

the big picture

be careful what you wish for: after today's bloodbath on the roads, with snow totals anywhere from 4-6 inches to two feet, the temp is going below zero for a few days where everything that can freeze, including those snow-covered roads, will be a skating rink.

this could be a very early white xmas...

so, with enough time to wander the web, check out this link for some incredible photography, again from the boston globe's Big Picture.

there are three pages worth of remarkable imagery here, almost any one of which i'd be proud to call my own... among my favourites are # 01, 18 and 40...

le boeuf, c'est arrive!

well, they (the weather weasels) have been predicting a snow event since sunday, and for my little bit of heaven in sammamish, we have been left out.

until this morning.

i awoke to nothing but dust and spit, and figured i'd make my way to work same as yesterday... the tube was saying redmond was a nightmare, showing many of the approaches i would take to get to work, so i decided to stick around and see what happened.

the suet feeders are getting a workout: a gorgeous male pileated woodpecker has taken to hanging around, as have numerous steller's jays, downy (topmost photo in this entry) and northern flickers. as there isn't a way for ground feeders to feed, at least four spotted towhees have also been enjoying the suet, along with the normal denizens...

while i'm not too pleased with being unpaid, the view is attempting to make up for that fact... within the last hour, i've gotten enough snow (about another 1.5 inches) to make me feel a lot less guilty about taking a snow day. and the snow is still coming down.

enjoy the snow and stay safe...

17 December 2008

where's the beef?

on sunday, they said "tuesday evening, 1 to 3 inches."

on tuesday, they said "just before midnight, 1 to 10 inches depending on your location."

on wednesday morning, they said "in time for the afternoon rush hour, 2 to 4 inches" then "around midnight, 1 to 3 inches."

will i be surprised by what i see in the morning? because it rained a tiny bit today, will ice be the reason i stay home, as the temp is supposed to reach -3C tonight, and there appears to be very little organized moisture in the latest doppler radar images?

15 December 2008

Xmas Contract


Please accept without obligation, express or implied, these best wishes for an environmentally safe, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, and gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday as practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice (but with respect for the religious or secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or for their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all) and further for a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling, and medically uncomplicated onset of the generally accepted calendar year (including, but not limited to, the Christian calendar, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures). The preceding wishes are extended without regard to the race, creed, age, physical ability, religious faith or lack thereof, choice of computer platform, or sexual preference of the wishee(s).


Whereas, on or about the night prior to Christmas, there did occur at a certain improved piece of real property (hereinafter "the House") a general lack of stirring by all creatures therein, including, but not limited to a mouse.

A variety of foot apparel, e.g., stocking, socks, etc., had been affixed by and around the chimney in said House in the hope and/or belief that St. Nick a/k/a/ St. Nicholas a/k/a/ Santa Claus (hereinafter "Claus") would arrive at sometime thereafter. The minor residents, i.e. the children, of the aforementioned House were located in their individual beds and were engaged in nocturnal hallucinations, i.e. dreams, wherein vision of confectionery treats, including, but not limited to, candies, nuts and/or sugar plums, did dance, cavort and otherwise appear in said dreams.

Whereupon the party of the first part (sometimes hereinafter referred to as ("I"), being the joint-owner in fee simple of the House with the party of the second part (hereinafter "Mamma"), and said Mamma had retired for a sustained period of sleep. At such time, the parties were clad in various forms of headgear, e.g., kerchief and cap.

Suddenly, and without prior notice or warning, there did occur upon the unimproved real property adjacent and appurtenant to said House, i.e., the lawn, a certain disruption of unknown nature, cause and/or circumstance. The party of the first part did immediately rush to a window in the House to investigate the cause of such disturbance.

At that time, the party of the first part did observe, with some degree of wonder and/or disbelief, a miniature sleigh (hereinafter "the Vehicle") being pulled and/or drawn very rapidly through the air by approximately eight (8) reindeer. The driver of the Vehicle appeared to be and in fact was, the previously referenced Claus.

Said Claus was providing specific direction, instruction and guidance to the approximately eight (8) reindeer and specifically identified the animal co-conspirators by name: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen (hereinafter "the Deer"). (Upon information and belief, it is further asserted that an additional co- conspirator named "Rudolph" may have been involved.)

The party of the first part witnessed Claus, the Vehicle and the Deer intentionally and willfully trespass upon the roofs of several residences located adjacent to and in the vicinity of the House, and noted that the Vehicle was heavily laden with packages, toys and other items of unknown origin or nature. Suddenly, without prior invitation or permission, either express or implied, the Vehicle arrived at the House, and Claus entered said House via the chimney.

Said Claus was clad in a red fur suit, which was partially covered with residue from the chimney, and he carried a large sack containing a portion of the aforementioned packages, toys, and other unknown items.

He was smoking what appeared to be tobacco in a small pipe in blatant violation of local ordinances and health regulations.

Claus did not speak, but immediately began to fill the stocking of the minor children, which hung adjacent to the chimney, with toys and other small gifts. (Said items did not, however, constitute "gifts" to said minor pursuant to the applicable provisions of the U.S. Tax Code.)

Upon completion of such task, Claus touched the side of his nose and flew, rose and/or ascended up the chimney of the House to the roof where the Vehicle and Deer waited and/or served as "lookouts." Claus immediately departed for an unknown destination.

However, prior to the departure of the Vehicle, Deer and Claus from said House, the party of the first part did hear Claus state and/or exclaim: "Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!" Or words to that effect.

at the tone...

current °F / °C == high °F / °C == low °F / °C
Temp: 19.9 °F / -6.7 °C == 22.6 °F / -5.2 °C == 19.8 °F / -6.8 °C
Dew Point: 7.6 °F / -13.6 °C == 7.7 °F / -13.5 °C == 3.2 °F / -16.0 °C
Humidity: 58% == 58% == 43%

baby, it's starting to be cold out there, and the weasels are saying this could last through the week... no obvious snow yesterday, nothing so far today. wednesday and thursday are predicted to be interesting, though...

13 December 2008

1986, December

A couple wanted to keep their Christmas tree from the clutches of their 14-month-old daughter who "gets into everything," so they hung it from the ceiling --- upside down.

The noble fir is suspended from an S-hook anchored in the ceiling at the home of Steve and Corrina Atterton.

"The idea began as kind of a joke," said Atterton, a Portland photographer. "But it grew to reality as we worked the bugs out."

They even figured out how to get water into it from a special can caulked around the base.

"Our daughter gets into everything. We didn't want to say, 'No, No,' all the time, so we selected a tree that would hang down to a point she could barely touch it"

ignore the woman behind the curtain, episode 01

it seems like seattle proper missed the fun and games of the snow event, as the low pressure centre decided to move 100 miles further north instead, stalling the cold air mass at the canuckian border until the pineapple express rain was mostly dissipated.

but, it doesn't mean we won't get SOME weather freakiness.

later this afternoon, temps will start falling from right-around-freezing at the moment, and are forecast to stay below freezing into late next week.


nothing like a lot of rain, followed by below-freezing temperatures for extended periods to make the roads into skating rinks. it's not bad enough that seattle-ites (in general) haven't a clue how to drive in rainy weather, but combine that with frictionless roads, and the whole region is going to be an insurance company's nightmare for the next week...

last year's main snowstorm demonstrated problems in my town that, to the best of my knowledge, have not yet been mitigated. there are only a few ways to get from the lowlands up onto the plateau, and not a one of them has a slope less than 5% grade, nor a distance of that grade less than one-half mile, so you can imagine what a little ice can do to your commute. as an example, it has been estimated that fewer than 50 cars made the plateau inaccessible to thousands of people returning home as they spun out on all of those approaches during that storm. i'd be willing to bet 49 of those cars were driven by idiots who thought their car had super powers.

a few days later on the radio, my theory is confirmed. evergreen ford, a local vehicle retailer, blatantly stated "... you would not have been stuck if you had been driving one of our new four-wheel drive SUVs."

you have to love clueless marketing weasels.

this could have been funny on a number of fronts if it weren't for (1) my sleeping at work because i couldn't get home, and (2) the primary plugs on those roads were SUVs which were left where they stopped because they couldn't manage the icy conditions.

anyway, i'm hunkered down, and will walk to the local store later for a little fresh fruit and blushing cheek action. tomorrow, if i'm feeling particularly feisty, i may take a camp chair and a thermos of hot chocolate about a mile down what should be an inch-thick ice road to watch people who think a 7% grade, gravity, physics, and the physical properties of their cars are different from everyone else's.

cheap entertainment, provided i'm not in the firing line...

12 December 2008

the Morning Before

four days ago, our local weather weasels said we had an outside chance of snow tonight. three days ago, same. two days ago, last night, same.

now, i know this area's weather is about as difficult to predict as any on the planet, so it will be interesting to see what actually does happen. for those of you not in the area, this link and this link will provide same-day information...

this morning, they are warning that isolated "pockets" could get upwards of six inches of snow by satyrday evening, with temperatures that struggle to reach freezing and winds that could cause wide-spread power outages.

of course, a movie many of us have been waiting to see for all the hype opens tonight in local theatres: "the day the earth stood still." you have to wonder if this is divine retribution's idea of irony or not. it's getting horrid reviews; i may just sit this one out and watch "scrooged" or "the nightmare before christmas" instead. :)

if you don't hear from me by monday, i might have been buried by a pocket. don't worry, though. i have a warm cat. :)

09 December 2008

Define: Well-Adjusted

Is there anyone who better exemplifies what the holiday season is REALLY all about?

08 December 2008


given the weather weasels in the seattle area are calling for the possibility of snow in a few days,

it's time to start harping on EVERYTHING about the season :)

05 December 2008

Medicare Guns and Ammo

this has to be one of the stranger ideas i've seen in a long time: there is a company out and about that has created a pistol that can be used by people who have severe issues with arthritis, limited strength, etc, for using a gun.

this, i don't have a problem with. well, ok, i do, only mildly-so, but probably not for the reason you might be thinking.

now, though, we get to the fun part: the manufacturer wants the 9mm handgun to be treated as a medical device covered by medicare...

yes, you heard right. a doctor-prescribed medical device. your government paying for a gun, using medicare dollars.

sometimes i find it difficult to believe i can't make this kind of crap up.

eeeehaaa, little doggies.

03 December 2008

PomPom Mallards

Apparently, there are more than a few of these unusually-coiffed birds around. Over the years, I've photographed two individuals at Marina Park in Kirkland, Washington, never realizing (as they were two-years apart AND i never really checked) I'd photographed two individuals.

For someone as visually-oriented as myself, consider this a wake-up.

Anyway, this morning I'm pawing through a friend's website when I come across a photo that reminds me of my two little darlings, and I thinks to myself, "Hey, Stupid, there are more of these things out there!".

And, so I wander into my archives and lo, one is male, the other is female, separated by two years.


Any biologists care to take a potshot into why this particular mutation occurs, and just how prevalent it is?

01 December 2008

2008.12 Desktop Calendar

Josie, here, was photographed about a month ago at Marymoor Park, on a day that found me photographing three separate dogs of three separate and distinct breeds (with three unique owners), where all three had blue left eyes and all three had non-blue right eyes, all within two hours.

I have to say I can't remember the last time I'd seen a single animal with this condition, much less three in a few hours.

Please feel free to download this photo for personal use on your computer's desktop. To download, just click once on the image, which will bring up the enlarged image on a new webpage. Then, right-click on the image and follow your operating system's instructions for pictures / images.

I hope you enjoy :)

30 November 2008

Sunday on West Snoqualmie River Road

It's been a while since I've gone out looking for a photographic moment, so when the weather (and my time) cooperated, I was out the door.

My route for today was from Aldarra (Fall City) to Novelty Hill Road (Redmond/Duvall) and back, mostly along West Snoqualmie River Road.

Headed out on Redmond-Fall City Road, my windscreen was brushed by a large hawk that I don't believe was a Red-tail (no obvious dark markings on the leading edge, no obvious red tail feathers) as it dove into a hillside not far from Duthie Hill Road. Traveling at speed in traffic meant the hawk itself would go unidentified, but it was a treat (if a bit scary) to have something that large cross traffic almost over the front end of my vehicle.

The first safe stop was just north of Aldarra, where hundreds of very-noisy-in-flight starlings and more than a few Dark-Eyed Slate Juncos were feeding. I was surprised at how much noise the starlings made with their wings, even from about 100 metres away. Setting the trend for the day was a second hawk, this time a light-morph juvenile Red-tailed Hawk on a successful hunt. It was on the ground for no more than 5 seconds before it winged its way back into the trees with its meal.

A few minutes further north, my third RTHA, this time an adult. It was also a successful hunter just north of Tall Chief Golf Course.

Near Chinook Bend Natural Area, a fourth RTHA, a Cooper's Hawk, and a Northern Harrier were seen.

One snag near Jubilee Farms had three Great Blue Herons in it. When the river could be seen, there were Bufflehead, Mallard, a few Northern Shovelers and what could have been Ring-necked Ducks here and there, with American Coots the most plentiful (100-200) also near Chinook Bend Natural Area.

Back at Carnation Marsh for the second time, I found Grace and Ollie Oliver looking for the Swamp Sparrow. While I was there, we saw Mourning Dove, a Downy Woodpecker, Song Sparrows, and more than a few Ruby-crowned Kinglets, but no Swamp.

With the exception of an overflight of Canada Geese, Remlinger Farms was almost completely bird-free, and no swans were seen.

Depending on where I was, the fog went from pea-soup to just-about-burned-off, with an average visibility of about 150 metres at best through most of the valley.

29 November 2008

28 November 2008

Americans, Take Notice

Concerned about too many carbs and calories in your diet?

For those of you who watch what you eat, here's the final word on nutrition and health. It's a relief to know the truth after all conflicting medical studies:

1 The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans
2 The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans
3 The Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans
4 The Italians drink excessive amounts of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans
5 The Germans drink a lot of beers and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans

CONCLUSION: Eat and drink what you like. Being American is apparently what kills you

27 November 2008

Ribs, 'Taters, Squash, Pie...

stolen from a website that borrowed it from another website that... :)

Happy US Thanksgiving!

22 November 2008

2012 Iowa

Some of you were thinking I was on drugs when I postulated there was a likelihood of four-year-long election cycles in our future.

For myself, I honestly didn't believe it would happen THIS year, but of course I was wrong: NPR is already reporting Republicans are stumping for the next presidential election in their interview with a local Iowa farmer...


About the only plus I can think of regarding this: I don't live in Iowa.


wasn't it yesterday that little mermaids and tiny goblins were haunting our work hallways and side streets, looking for THE sugar rush that parents dread? isn't NEXT week thanksgiving?

so, and i ask this with all sarcastic flair: why the hell have seven homes in a three-mile stretch of "my drive home from work" already hung LIT holiday lights? none of these homes are small, and one is locally-famous for the over-the-top displays... at the same time, a local radio station (106.9) is already 24-hour holiday music... i'm guessing you can bet it's a station i won't listen to for another five weeks...

am i the only sane person left who believes that presidential elections should be six weeks MAX, that holiday celebrations and marketing should be limited to the week or two before the event?

it probably won't be so far into the future that we see four-year-long election cycles, and holiday marketing that never ends. it's not difficult to find some large box retailers with holiday reminders in july, though who they think they are marketing to i have no idea.

so, in the spirit of the holidays, follow me:

if you should know of other cartoons and photographs with the same sentiments, please feel free to share them with everyone. i will endeavour to post as many as i can.

Year-long holidays must stop.

17 November 2008


old family week, apparently: 47 years ago tomorrow (tuesday), my sister lisa came into this world. the things i remember from those years:
  • when she came home from the hospital for the first time, at least part of the trip home was in my arms in the back of a recently-purchased renault (an unusual car for the US at the time). given that i was seven years of age at the time, given she was somewhere less than seven DAYS old, my turn holding her was unusual and (as you've noticed) unforgettable
  • both of my sisters, but especially lisa, had a thing for water sports à la buff. both, to the best of my knowledge, lost that "thing" sometime before the age 4
  • she has a penchant for larger vehicles, some of which require(d) thick phone books so she could see over the dash
  • she's the one that physically looks most like mom, if a slightly-smaller version
  • she was probably still being carded during liquor purchases until her late 30s. her joyous laugh would not help others to understand she was older than they were. by this time, she had several daughters taller than herself
  • of all of us, she's the one filled with the most love, the most compassion, the most of your beaver cleaver "mom" attributes, minus the housekeeping in high heels and that string of pearls. i hesitate to point out she also had the most practice (grin)
lisa, as you can see, i remember more than you probably want me to broadcast, so i'll finish with a quote from a recording i saved of you from about 45 years ago:
hatty boothdee to oooo!

much love on your day, my favourite little one...

16 November 2008


seven years ago, the US economy was trying its damndest to go into the dumper, mostly as the tech bubble exploded. terrorism had struck the US only two months previous, and fear was in the air. given the job market at the time, i was in the middle of selling a house and moving to the UK as preface to what i thought would be an early retirement.

among the major positives during my short life in europe was a welcome and fanatic return to a love i'd had thirty years before, one i could not afford at the time: photography.

among the many landscapes that became backdrops for the lens were also a few portraits. my favourite subject was a precocious little girl, my goddaughter, born to an american mother and a scottish father not long before i arrived. the camera loved her as much as i did, and it was a profound gift to have documented a bit of her first few years. her sister reid is who you see every time you come to my blog page; she's the header photo of a sleeping child in a dark room, wrapped quietly in her mother's arms in a trying time.

this particular photo, however, is one year into my visit, a difficult-for-me-to-believe seven years ago this week. riley was visiting my friend and i in a sussex coastal town when she became ill, face deeply-flushed, and had just been put down for a quick nap in the living room. seconds later, the camera allows me to relive the moment.

07 November 2008

a rarity just passing through...

almost four years ago to the day, a rough-legged hawk visited the redmond willows neighbourhood for approximately one week. this particular photograph was taken on a very overcast day, just west of the (then new) 124th street bridge over the sammamish river. i'm on the bridge itself, attempting to look like a tiny bump over one of the berms. s/he was skittish, not allowing me closer than about 40 metres, resulting in the following photo:

the white you see directly below the bird is what you think it is, whitewashing the pole mere seconds before the shot.

the bird was, apparently, unconcerned. :)

04 November 2008

Impromptu Celebration

this very moment, heartbeats before the first midnight of the first day of the obama nation, there are thousands of people in several groups walking and dancing and stopping large swaths of traffic on the streets of downtown seattle. they aren't throwing rocks, flipping the bird to police, or angry.

for the first time in decades, a spontaneous demonstration is happening that looks like mardi gras or new year's eve. music, laughter, cheering, smiling, happy people.

who'da thunk something like this would have happened even a few hours ago? vive la difference!

Yes, We Can

One historic night, two historic speeches, two solemn individuals:
  • John McCain: the man, not as he has been portrayed the last few months, but as I remember him eight years ago, with as humble, gracious and honourable a concession as seems possible...
  • Barack Obama: the man who appears equal parts Martin Luther King Jr and John Kennedy, his intense vision filled with eloquent notes reminiscent of King's "I Have a Dream" and Kennedy's inauguration speech, notable for "Ask Not What Your Country Can Do for You" sentiment...
Given the divisiveness of the past eight years, Senator McCain said sincerely "... [Barack Obama] is now my President," and asked America to join him in serving the American ideal to defeat the many problems we face today.

Minutes later, Senator Obama stepped up, thanked Senator McCain and, with references to the past, asked all of America to join him in taking responsibility for the future.

In the last hour, both of these men have taken the first step in restoring in me hope the United States can recover what it has so dearly lost. Time will tell if the hope is justified.

03 November 2008

"Vote for the Kennedy of Your Choice"

Well, OK, if you recognized the title of this entry, you probably remember the line from listening (if you were like me, 100s of times) to the early 1960s album "The First Family", starring Vaughn Meader. It was a smash hit, mostly because Mr Meader was a comic impersonator who had Jack Kennedy down cold, with all nuances possible.

Unfortunately for Mr Meader (and Mr Kennedy), the album was an incredible hit just before Mr Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, and not so much afterwards.

Anyway, this is my segue into telling you (if you live in the United States / les États Unis) to VOTE tomorrow, if you haven't already. If you need a push one way or another on the following items of interest, feel free to utilise my endorsements here:
  • If you are eligible to vote in California, please defeat Proposition 8
  • If you are eligible to vote in Washington, please vote to pass Proposition 1 (Sound Transit) and Proposition 1000 (Death with Dignity)
Whomever you vote for, however you vote, please make your voice heard.

01 November 2008

The Giant Behemoth

Ah, yes, to be transported back into time, maybe as far as 1959. Pick any weekend afternoon when for some reason you aren't outside playing, doing chores or homework. Maybe it is raining outside, or you have the measles.

On channels around the world, sponsored by manufacturers of products so shoddy in nature the only advertising on TV they could afford was usually either very late-night or weekend Bad-B-Movie-Time.

One of the movies you probably would have seen: The Giant Behemoth.

As a kid, I was utterly intrigued by the likes of these monsters; Gamera, the Beast from 20k Fathoms, Them, Godzilla, and a whole host of others. Most of these movies would have displays of atomic blasts in the first 10-15 minutes, if only to underscore the dangers of radiation. Kids would recount on the school playgrounds how many times Tokyo was obliterated, complete with sound effects and movie quotes.

Much as I'd like to say this one isn't that bad, I can't. It's worse. The "special effects" appear to be (and probably are) a bath tub, some inanimate puppets, and in one scene, plastic cars on a plastic toy ferry that tips over in the bath tub. The acting runs the gamut between pretty good and incredibly bad.

Even so, it was my choice for a different weekend of rain. As I was leaving the library last Sunday, the DVD cover caught my eye, transporting me. As bad as it was, it was fun to watch and be taken back to less-sullied days, when (to a kid's eye, anyway) the world was a much simpler place...

2008.11 Desktop Calendar

Wood Duck, Aix sponsa, is one of my favourite winter ducks. The male is so gaudy, I wonder if he knows he's an obvious target for raptors and other predators with such an incredible plumage.

This photo was taken at Juanita Bay Park a few years ago. The park holds a special place in my heart for a lot of reasons, among them the ability to get in close to numerous types of wildlife.

Please feel free to download this photo for personal use on your computer's desktop. To download, just click once on the image, which will bring up the enlarged image on a new webpage. Then, right-click on the image and follow your operating system's instructions for pictures / images.

I hope you enjoy :)

30 October 2008

Take the Hero Challenge

just because you don't have a lot of help on your side, and your opponent is flush with pieces that should wipe you off the face of the board, it doesn't mean you can't win. you are white pieces here; be my hero.

i have to say, this one took me a few minutes to puzzle out. from time to time, my mind just refuses to see the repercussions until an epiphany occurs, and we all know how often that happens...

29 October 2008

Picasso Lives. Sort of.

image: the car Picasso wishes he'd had

if they are telling the truth, the car can get up to 65 mph...

quoting: "
A custom-built asymmetric car inspired by an artwork by Picasso is among 100 classic vehicles due to go under the hammer in south London later.

"The Citroen 2CV, by car sculptor Andy Saunders, 45, from Poole, Dorset, could fetch £14,000."

25 October 2008

24 October 2008

Pumpkin Head

ahh, yes, a place to lay one's head...

23 October 2008

More Whole-Grain Wheat

For lovers of Claymation, lovers of Chess, here is a YouTube video you will enjoy...

Random Intertubes Wheat

sometimes, the intertubes can look like so much dreck. days, even weeks, can go by where you won't see more than one intelligent thought, one creative idea.

and then you come across a mini-motherlode.

today, i struck poddownloading heaven at the website http://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/. among the items i will strive to listen to (or watch in hires video) soon:
there is an eclectic selection in other subjects, from german politics to world war i poetry to environmental climate change lectures, and so on. i suggest you wander over and take a look. from my initial look-see, the quality is Very Good Indeed.

22 October 2008

35 Days of Hell

it all started when...
  • my cute little saturn car was registered (yearly tabs)
  • my cute little saturn was then rear-ended, low-speed, no air bags, etc.
he really was a gentleman, no sarcasm here. he pulled over, gave up all pertinent information with no hassle, etc. he was kind and respectful, and quite thankful no one was physically hurt.
  • the damage to my cute little saturn is almost entirely a lack of water-tightness in the trunk (car boot). This was due to a Ford F-250 PenisEnvy Diesel (on raised tires) truck attempting to have low-speed unrequited sex with my Saturn.
  • the saturn is taken to repair, and a rental vehicle is performed on his insurance
  • the car boot LID has a small hole in it, the boot lid won't close properly because it has been slightly rumpled. repair is estimated to cost $2000.
  • let me repeat this: the car boot LID has a small hole in it, the boot lid won't close properly because it has been slightly rumpled, and the repair is estimated to cost $2000
  • his insurance company does not ask me (1) if the car is driveable (it is), nor (2) if a lesser repair would make me happy (ie, making the trunk water-tight and latchable, which would be fine). no, they mark the car as dead. deceased. totalled. destroyed. no longer driveable. pining for the fraking fjords.
  • the insurance company offers me MORE than the repairs will cost to buy the car from me, but not enough to buy another car. they then offer me enough to effect repairs AND keep the car, but the car has been reported to the state Department of Licensing as totalled. Remember: the car has a hole in the trunk lid that keeps the trunk from being water-tight. the size of the hole is a few inches across at the widest. $2000. pining for the fjords.
  • when i take their lower offer (which allows me to keep the car), i must vacate the rental, even though the repairs have yet to be done (which will happen several days hence, and take a few days to complete). my dime and time now.
  • i must use a new rental while the repairs are done. my dime.
we are now in october, and the repairs are almost complete.
  • remember now, where we left our intrepid heroine: the vehicle was killed by his insurance company for a hole in the lid, so i must visit the washington state department of licensing with the original title
  • the DOL kills my car (and its old title) even more dead
  • the DOL makes my car born-again (with a new title, for a fee, the new title to magickally appear on my doorstep within the next few months)
  • the DOL re-registers my car again (for a fee)

dénouement: i have my cute little car back with a water-tight ass-end. not included in any bills: numerous hours of waiting for someone to pick me up, drop me off, wait in line (for repairs, for information, for tabs, for title rebirth, for rental vehicles (plural)). i have tons of paperwork i must hang onto because the state mandates, should my car ever be sold, the future purchaser should know the boot / trunk had a small hole that caused the car to pine for the fjords, and the vehicle was made "driveable" again.

i'm guessing the gentleman who hit me has more headaches than i, as he was driving on his commercial license from out-of-state. his pain and suffering for playing with his radio at the wrong moment are financially much worse, though his truck suffered only the loss of a tiny bit of paint on his tow grill.

so, given mandates and raised insurance rates, it can safely be stated the rear-end is one gift that keeps on giving.


20 October 2008

19 October 2008

Sunday Photo # 001

i'm not sure what the flower is, but the butterfly is known as a Queen (Danaus gilippus). the photo was taken in the Woodland Park Zoo's butterfly house a few year's back. as i recall, i was sweating more than a little on this late-June afternoon as the temperature inside is kept artificially-high so the butterflies don't spend all of their time conserving energy by sleeping on the otherwise not-so-photographic walls of the house.

it remains one of my favourites to this day.

18 October 2008

Must See Web...

the boston globe should be commended for running a page that posts some pretty fascinating photography on a regular basis on a wide variety of topics. it's called "the big picture" (under the boston.com banner), and what it purports to do (and usually delivers) reminds me of what LIFE and LOOK magazines were doing during their heydays.

well, i have to tell you, they've outdone themselves with today's incredible photography for World Animal Day.

i think i'm good, but this stuff?


17 October 2008

69 days until...

i have to say, one of the funnier halloween cartoons i've seen...

14 October 2008

the eyes have it

it was a gorgeous day; marc and i spent much of it either dining on sushi or walking the marymoor park nature loop.

while we didn't see much in the way of wildlife, we did see more than a few dogs. normally, this isn't the most interesting part of my day. however, before sunday afternoon, i could probably count on one hand the total number of animals i'd personally seen that had two differently-coloured eyes.

in less than two hours, we saw three, all different breeds: a boston terrier named "robble" (i wish i'd asked the derivation of the name),

a beagle named "josie",

and a husky named "ringo".

i've been told this problem is not abnormal for the huskies, but very unusual for the other breeds.

shows you how observant i am. i didn't notice the left eye for all three canines was blue until i put them all together for this entry...

oddly enough, most photographs i could find on heterochromia (the name of the disorder) also showed the left eye as the blue eye.


09 October 2008

I'm Late, I'm Late

mea culpa, maxima culpa. a number of you have commented on the lack of calendar images the past few months, and i've got to say two things: (1) i'm flattered and pleasantly surprised at the response, and (2) i'm sorry... on an evening such as this, please accept this little reminder, taken from the bellevue botanical gardens, one of my favourite places in early fall for gorgeous blooms...

Please feel free to download this photo for personal use on your computer's desktop. To download, just click once on the image, which will bring up the enlarged image on a new webpage. Then, right-click on the image and follow your operating system's instructions for pictures / images.

What Happened, David?

i have to say, that's one of the funnier photoshop'd ideas i've seen in quite some time: imagine Michaelangelo's beautiful sculpture of David after a tour of the US...

05 October 2008

cooper's v pileated, a local drama

it all started just a few minutes ago. a beautiful male pileated landed on the rail below my feeder, and went about his business scarfing grains and nut fragments strewn by less-fastidious eaters earlier in the day.

when chirp, my kitty, noticed him (from inside the house, thank you), and he her, he postured a bit, turned side to side to get a closer look at his admirer, took a few more grains, then flew off towards one of the forest's many deciduous trees. within seconds of his take-off, a mini-dogfight occurred with one of the neighbouring cooper's hawks.

no problem, really. the PIWO found his way to the birch, settling on the trunk for a moment, then deciding a cedar across the way was probably a bit safer.
immediately, the cooper's zeroed in and again gave chase, with the pileated gaining the cedar trunk safely; the cooper's landed quickly on a neighbouring branch.

this has gone on for the last 10 minutes, and i was wondering: do cooper's often hassle (and/or take) full-grown pileateds? i'd suppose they'd have no problems with an unhealthy bird, but the male was magnificent in size and colour, and had no obvious physical maladies. perhaps the COHA was a juvenile and still learning what he could and could not handle?

it's been more than 10 minutes now, and the COHA hasn't given up. if i should see a d
énouement, i will report it... this is so much more entertaining than watching seahawks... :)

04 October 2008

Decompressing In Huelgoat

the past few weeks have been incredibly busy: work, several volunteer commitments, and life in general, not to mention having to deal with my car being rear-ended (long story).

so, i'm attempting to decompress by wandering through memories of time spent living in western france a few years ago. among the thousands of photos still in need of triage is this relaxing reminder of a quieter moment in a tiny town named Huelgoat.

as is my wont when traveling, most travel days are spent not knowing where i'm going nor how long i will spend. the car is pointed in a random direction, then goaded into moving in that direction until something interesting is spotted, or on a whim, direction changes.

on this particular morning, i had driven west towards the city of Morlaix, then south into the rolling hills. the experience of meandering slowly through those fertile green lands should be bottled and marketed as a cure for whatever ails.

the day was as picture-perfect as you can ask for, so when it looked like Huelgoat was a place of interest, some rambling was in order.

Over the next two hours, I had discovered Le Champignon (the Mushroom), La Grotte du Diable (the Devil's Grotto), and La Grotte d'Artus
(the Grotto of Arthur). The Mushroom is a Very Large Boulder that has somehow become married to a much smaller boulder in a way that looks like an overgrown mushroom. The grottos are part of a trail that wanders through the countryside, to occasionally hike underneath more impressively large boulders that did not quite succeed in burying a creek. If memory serves, the deepest is around 10 metres below the surface boulders, requiring several ladder-aided (and not completely-safe) descents to reach.

What I wouldn't give to be relaxing there right now... :)

photo perspective: my vehicle is parked behind me along the south shoreline, and the camera is facing generically east towards the "highway" bridge over a creek.

03 October 2008

Most Conversations...

This is a test to see what happens when I upload a photograph...

Not bad, not bad... Here's hoping the resolution is "good enough" to display what I want, but not so good as to have people appropriate for monetary gain, something I've had to deal with in the past.

The quote:
"Most conversations are simply monologues delivered in the presence of witnesses" -- Margaret Millar

The photo: two double-crested cormorants in a territorial dispute at Log Boom Park / Tracy Owen Station

For My Next Trick...

About four months ago, my five-year-old photography website was hacked and subtly-defaced.

About two months ago, I found out about it, and in the process learned my hosting company knew of the problem four months ago.
I'm informed some of you may have noticed, getting caught up in the idiocy.

About one month ago, my hosting company refunded all of my hosting fee because I was less than satisfied with them and their idea of service. When you get angry, be polite and start your conversation with the CEO. When you make a suggestion, always make sure it is to someone who can make a difference.

Today, we start over.

Given that I
  • hack at chess;
  • photograph what interests me;
  • am almost always owned by cat(s);
  • love cartoons and comics;
  • love to cook, hate to clean;
  • love to travel;
  • owned a popular BBS for over a decade;
  • owned a book store (real bricks for years, virtual for more);
  • enjoy reading (especially science, science fiction, and mysteries); AND,
  • usually have an opinion on most topics, whether the opinion is reasonable or not,
perhaps this blog can be an interesting shared conversation about the world, life, and whatever else comes up... If you find it interesting, frustrating, opinionated, banal, topical, hilarious, stupid, or just plain "huh", join the conversation.