The Watering Hole, Monday, November 23rd, 2015: NatGeo, Take Me Away!

I can’t deal with “Ugly Americans” [of course, “Ugly Americans” = “Republican Presidential Candidates and their Fans/Supporters”] anymore; we keep thinking, “How can these guys sink so low?”, then, the next hour or day or week, one or two or several of them come out with such outrageous shit that we really need a new word to define what circle of hell lies beyond “outrageous” or “horrific” or “despicable” or “abhorrent” or “inhuman” – sorry, I need more words!

And I’ve had it up to HERE with the holidays being turned into meaningless “shop-’til-you-drop” commercialism [how about if “Black Friday” could be turned into “Black Lives Matter Friday” – hell, make every day of the entire Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday shopping season a day of protests]. So I’m going with some beautiful photos from National Geographic to start the week.

Here’s some pretty birds, from “A Flight of Birds”, a section of NatGeo’s Photo Ark, including a photo capturing the iridescent plumage of the Purple Glossy Starling, such as seen below,
and a more close-up shot of the Javan Rhinoceros Hornbill, like the one seen below:
javan rhinoceros Hornbill

And if you prefer a larger gallery for leisurely viewing, here’s more from NatGeo’s 2015 Photo Contest. The “Week 10” group includes a brooding sunset photo of Godafoss Waterfall in Iceland – here’s a chilly winter shot of the falls, just to start the calming process:

This is our daily Open Thread – enjoy the views or rant away – or you can do both!

Sunday Roast: Spider!


Photo by Zooey

This beautiful spider has set up an abattoir on a huge web outside my kitchen window.  He’s got about five of these little “packets” in his web at any given time, and just goes from one to another, stabbing in his sippy straw and chugging away.

It’s really rather disgusting, but fascinating at the same time — and as long as he stays on his side of the window, we will remain the best of friends.

This is our daily open thread — Anyone know what kind of spider this is?

The Watering Hole, Monday, September 14th, 2015: ICYMI Grab Bag

While the “Christian” flavor of the right-wing-religious-nut-jobs have been hogging the limelight lately, there’s been more of ‘teh crazy’ happening over in the Mormon corner. According to an article by Peggy Fletcher Stack in last Thursday’s Salt Lake Tribune, many Mormons, in the belief that the signs are about right for doomsday to arrive, are starting preparations (these Mormons are referred to as “preppers.) Here’s a couple of excerpts from the article, titled “Some Mormons stocking up amid fears that doomsday could come this month”:

“Jordan Jensen, a salesman at Emergency Essentials, said his Bountiful store has been “crazy busy, sales up by definitely a large amount.”
Those 72-hour emergency kits are “almost impossible to keep on the shelves,” Jensen says, “and we get a shipment every day.” A lot of customers, he says, believe “this is the month it will all happen — with a ‘blood moon’ and a currency collapse and everything.”

Here’s how the doomsday scenario plays out: History, some preppers believe, is divided into seven-year periods…In 2008, seven years after 9/11, the stock market crashed, a harbinger of a devastating recession. It’s been seven years since then, and Wall Street has fluctuated wildly in recent weeks in the wake of China devaluing its currency. Thus, they believe, starting Sept. 13, the beginning of the Jewish High Holy Days, there will be another, even larger financial crisis, based on the United States’ “wickedness.” That would launch the “days of tribulation” — as described in the Bible. They say Sept. 28 will see a full, red or “blood moon” and a major earthquake in or near Utah. Some anticipate an invasion by U.N. troops, technological disruptions and decline, chaos and hysteria.

Some of these speculations stem from Julie Rowe’s books, “A Greater Tomorrow: My Journey Beyond the Veil” and “The Time Is Now.” Rowe, a Mormon mother of three, published the books in 2014 to detail a “near-death experience” in 2004, when the author says she visited the afterlife and was shown visions of the past and future. Though Rowe rarely gives specific dates for predicted events, she did describe in a Fox News Radio interview “cities of light,” including scores of white tents where people will live in the mountains and sometimes be fed heavenly “manna.” She saw a “bomb from Libya landing in Israel, but Iran will take credit.” And “Gadianton robbers” of Book of Mormon infamy, meaning secret and corrupt leaders, are “already here.”

Okay, that’s the crazy part–now for the scary-crazy part:

Her purpose in speaking out, Rowe told interviewer Kate Dalley, was “to wake more of us up. … We need each other as we unify in righteousness and continue to build a righteous army. When we need to defend the [U.S.] Constitution, we will be ready.”

Oh, great, another right-wing-religious-nut-job cult that doesn’t understand that the Constitution proscribes the very idea of their “righteous” religious rule. Then again, this particular zealot who is trying to build her “righteous army” may not have a whole army of followers:

“For the past year, the popular writer has been sharing her experience and visions at Mormon venues nationwide, drawing crowds of eager — and worried — listeners. Her two books have sold more than 20,000 copies apiece.”

Uh-huh, and probably all 40,000 books are sitting in a Newsmax warehouse or its religious-literature equivalent.

Next, from TheWeatherChannel, cool photos of volcanic ‘blue’ lava, taken by photographer Reuben Wu in East Java, Indonesia.

Last, NASA has some new photos of Pluto to share from New Horizons’ flyby of the “dwarf planet.” Photos of Pluto’s moons will be coming along soon.

This is our daily Open Thread–enjoy!

The Watering Hole, Saturday, August 29th, 2015: Let’s Get Away From It All

This ought to take your minds off of the insanity of the Republican “presidential hopefuls”, if only for a little while.

The Weather Channel has posted the finalists for its 2015 “It’s Amazing Out There” photo contest. So enjoy some cool photos and forget about Teh Stupid.

Here’s one of last year’s photo finalists, a cool shot taken by Dwayne Kear:
2014 Its Amazing Out There photo submitted by Dwayne Kear

So go ahead, refresh your sense of wonder at something other than jaw-dropping idiocy.

This is our daily Open Thread – enjoy!

Sunday Roast: Day trip


The day started a bit hazy…but cleared up nicely.  My eldest likes to take the Otter Crest Loop byway, and in the few minutes it took to get there, the day became crystal clear.




Photos by Zooey

So it was another beautiful day on the Oregon coast — and there were FAR too many people who agreed with me.

This is our daily open thread — Hey look!  I didn’t forget and posted on time!

The Watering Hole; Friday May 22 2015; Cool Critters v. Clown Car Creepoids

In these days where political insanity seems to rule the world in which we’re stuck, it’s most enjoyable to head out and commune with critters that have never heard the word ‘Wingnut,’ and most certainly would head for the tall weeds if ever they should happen to encounter one — a concept with which I happen to be totally sympathetic.

Ergo, whenever the opportunity shows itself, I grab at the chance to turn my back on the ‘madding crowd’ and head for a more peaceful surround — assuming the weather cooperates, a rare happenstance so far this year (I could make some sort of snide comment concerning the science of climate change, but won’t because I don’t want to come across as really arrogant).

So here are a couple of critters that share the lake with the local flock of Canadian Geese. First up is what I’m guessing to be a Western Painted Turtle. He likes to hang out on an old bleached beaver-felled log that lies in the shallows very near the shore. He’s a fairly good sized fella, shell about 12″ in diameter, plus or minus one or two. He’s also a very peaceful dude; was sprawled on the same log on both days last week that we spotted him. We watched him for close to a half-hour each day, and he was the most statuesque critter I’ve ever seen — never moved a single muscle.

Beckwith turtle 1197Beckwith turtle 1227In the turtle’s general neighbood we spotted this other fellow as well. S/he is one half of a mating pair of Great Blue Herons which appear to have set up houskeeping at the lake this year. At least they’ve been hanging around for several weeks — time will tell if they choose to settle in. They are, however, very elusive, very secretive, and quite skilled at avoiding people. I got lucky with this one — spotted it standing near the shore a hundred yards or so distant. Fortunately, the camera’s 60X zoom was ready and willing to do its job!

Great Blue Heron 1192In the immortal words of Robert Burns,

“Still thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me
The present only toucheth thee:
But, Och! I backward cast my e’e.
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!”

That’s a very fair summation of what rolls about in the back of my mind every time I leave “we the people” behind and venture out for a mingle with the Higher Animals. The main downside to the whole process is the inevitable return to “civilization” and all of the noise that keeps it operational. Such as current political news, even little tidbits thereof. I think it was just yesterday morning, for example, when I heard that Rick Perry is going to announce on June 3rd or thereabouts that he’s decided to become the first Presidential candidate in US history to enter the race while under criminal indictment. WOW! He’s also just recently made it clear that nobody will worry about jade helm-type conspiracy theories when HE is president. Double WOW! For some odd reason, those two headlines, along with recollections of his brief candidacy in 2012 B.G. (Before Glasses),  reminded me of an old joke which, if based on genuine fact, would explain a lot of that WOW stuff:

A few decades back, a Texas family – mom, dad, and son – moved to another state. Come fall, mom and dad enrolled their son in first grade in the local school and told him that from the first day onward they wanted to hear all about what school was like, how things were going, etc. Dad said, “Son, always remember one thing: we’re from TEXAS and proud of it! And being from Texas means we got a heads up on everybody else, cause that’s what happens when you’re born in TEXAS!”

Son nodded and smiled. “Yes, daddy, I know. We’re from TEXAS!”

Over supper the night after the boy’s first day in school, dad asked, “So, son, how was school today? What’s it like?”

“It was ok, daddy. We all got told by the teacher where we should sit and I’m in the front row! Then she asked if anybody knew the alphabet and I raised my hand and she called on me, had me go to the blackboard and write it out, and I did! And I got all the letters wrote just right and teacher said I was the only one in first grade that ever knew all the alphabet on the first day! Is that cause we’re from Texas, daddy?”

“Yep, son, that’s cause we’re from TEXAS!”

The next night at supper, daddy asked again how school went. The boy smiled big and said, “It went great, daddy. Today the teacher asked if anybody could count all the way to twenty, and I raised my hand and she had me stand up and do it, and I done it! She was really happy, cause most kids can’t even count to ten and get it right. Is that cause we’re from Texas, daddy?”

“Yep, that’s cause we’re from TEXAS, son.”

On the third night, daddy again asked the boy how school went.

“Well daddy, today we went to the gym and they gave us shorts and a shirt to wear when we learnt how to do exercisins on the gym floor.”

“How’d you do, son?” Daddy asked.

“Oh, I done good. But afterwards we all had to take a shower get cleaned up afore we went back to class, and in the shower I noticed that all them boys had little bitty weenies compared to me.” The son paused, then asked, “Why is that, daddy? Is that cause I’m from Texas?”

Daddy thought a minute, then finally said, “No, son. It’s because you’re seventeen.”

The following year the Perry family moved back to the cotton farm in TEXAS.

Yep, that would pretty much define the Rick Perry with which I’m familiar. And I should add that while I’m definitely NOT a Democrat who has ‘sold my soul’ for immigrant votes (in spite of what one of the potential Clown Car Creepoids proclaims), it remains a FACT that I’d happily vote for either a turtle of a Great Blue Heron — immigrant or native, no worries —before I’d vote for ANYONE in said Clown Car!

Ok, that’s enough for now. The OPEN THREAD  is now . . . ummm . . . open.

The Watering Hole; Thursday May 21 2015; “Difficult standards for people to live up to.”

“Animals are reliable, many full of love, true in their affections,
predictable in their actions, grateful and loyal.
Difficult standards for people to live up to.”

Alfred A. Montapert

About two weeks ago, I posted here a series of ten photos, taken on May 2 and 3, of a Canadian Goose “family” which included three newly hatched goslings, probably out on one of their very first forays into their new world.

3 sibling goslins 1126-cr

Then a week ago and for no apparent reason, those three little guys were nowhere to be seen. I noted here our fears that the “odds against them being somewhere — even in the nest — unsupervised are quite high. Dare we hope? In any case, time will tell if they’re still around or gone for good. We do intend to keep a close eye on the situation and will report back if anything happens to pop up.”

Later that same day, fellow bird-watcher Woody-the-Goose-Guy stopped by late in the afternoon to say he’d spotted the little ones in another corner of the lake. So last weekend when the weather finally cleared up long enough for us to go take a look, we got lucky. There they were!

Here’s the “family” as of May 16, pretty close to exactly two weeks since the goslings first left the nest (note that the newbies have grown a bit in those two weeks — apparently there’s adequate chow available!).

Goose and goslings 1231Goose family 1235Goslings 1237crGeese & gosling 1233Goose family 1245So all is well, at least with what appears to be the ONLY local Canadian Goose family that has managed to reproduce this year, and that’s out of an overall population where potential mating pairs likely number in the hundreds. Also curious, there are only three goslings; usually in years past the number is typically more like six, maybe seven goslings per family. So what’s up with that?

I asked Woody-the-Goose-Guy the same question, and he explained that “they” (Homo sapiens sapiens) who monitor and control the local goose population are sending their people out during spring nesting season with instruction to locate eggs and coat them with vegetable oil. That prevents the embryos from developing (by disallowing the eggs to “breathe”), and when most eggs don’t hatch there are obviously going to be far fewer goslings and, as a result, far less goose crap on the lake’s paved walkway come late summer/early fall — which means far less complaining by people who are offended by goose crap. Problem solved. More or less. Humans are SO clever, aren’t we?

One thing I have to wonder when I ponder these human-inspired “lower” animal birth control agendas is highlighted by this pair of recent ‘headline’ links:

Trent Franks: 20-Week Abortion Ban Will Make Americans Realize Legal Abortion Is Like Slavery

Anti-Choice Leader Admits Rape Exceptions Are ‘Political,’ Goal Is To Outlaw All Abortion ‘From Conception’

So “fundamentally” it’s OK to control birth rates in (and numbers of) every other species of life on the planet, but it’s NOT permissible to allow the same or similar privilege to fellow humans? Why the difference? Just curious.

Stephen Jay Gould once wrote,

“The fundamentalists, by ‘knowing’ the answers before they start examining evolution, and then forcing nature into the straitjacket of their discredited preconceptions, lie outside the domain of science —
or of any honest intellectual inquiry.”

I think I agree.