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 :)