Friday, August 31, 2012

Look UP Tonight (Friday)

Yikes!  I allowed my tirade against Jesse Palmer to deflect one item that I wanted to mention.  Look up tonight at the full moon.  It's the last "blue moon" we will see until July 2015.  A blue moon happens when there are 2 full moons during one calendar month; they are rare, hence the expression, "once in a blue moon." 
   The other request is that you wink at tonight's blue moon in a respectful salute to Neil Armstrong, who was the first man to step onto the surface of the moon.  It would be a nice tribute to him, his family, and NASA.  Thank you.

Far Flung Critters

These young men in Muensing, Germany do not appear very confident (or happy) while participating in the fifth annual oxen racing contest
Nikon (canine) and Zoia (feline) greet in Poland
A greater double-collared sunbird drinks from an aloe plant in South Africa

Jesse Palmer

Last night I was delighted to be able to watch the first of the collegiate season's football games.  I was especially delighted because one of the teams playing was the South Carolina Gamecocks.  The Gamecocks are coached by Steve Spurrier.  I like Steve.   -  First, a little bit of background:  my family moved to Gainesville in July of 1961, and my Dad, retired from the US Navy, started classes at UF to become a primary school teacher on the GI Bill.  That September, when Dad became a Gator, I was starting Kindergarten.  In school, I was a Lake Forest Scout, a Westwood Whirlwind, and an Eastside Ram - but I was always a Gator, too.  Dad took us to UF football games, to Gator Growl, to the UF Homecoming Parade, UF baseball games and UF wrestling meets...  I grew up respecting Bobby Bowden and the Seminoles, but I was always a Gator.  -  Steve Spurrier is a polarizing individual - you either love him, or you love to hate him.  He, himself, loves enemies.  I happen to like his style and his character.
  I was watching the ESPN pre-game coverage, and as I looked at Jesse Palmer, the middle commentator, I was not happy.  This young man (aged 33) is fairly handsome, he is pretty well-spoken (though not eloquent, and he certainly needs a lot more experience to equal Chris Collingsworth), and he was a quarterback at UF.  He was a Gator; he played for Steve Spurrier. He played in the NFL, he played in the CFL.  Ah, what counted against him in my memory was that he was the center of attention on The Bachelor, one of those God-awful so-called "reality" shows, which is anything but reality-based....  And I thought I remembered a few disparaging remarks about Spurrier, coming from the lips of Palmer, once he had graduated.  My memories of the remarks, however, had made me think at the time "sour grapes."
   In any event, there was the inevitable hype about could the Vanderbilt Commodores defeat a Top Ten-rated team at home in the season opener.  Vandy had installed a new artificial turf surface - one of those that have loose rubber pellets in the grass; they had a new, huge Trinitron viewing system in the stadium; and their second year head coach was really playing them up as the team to beat.
   The game was not a very prettily-played game.  There were goofs, there were blatant errors and misjudgements, and there were injuries.  But I got upset with Jesse Palmer, who seemed to be on a tear to make Steve Spurrier into a caricature of himself.  Yes, a lot of folks refer to Steve as "the Ol' Ball Coach," and, yes, as a coach, Spurrier wants his team to win.  What Head Coach would not want his team to win?  Jesse Palmer started a refrain that ran from the second quarter to the end of the game about how the ol' ball coach would do anything - anything - to win.  He got under my skin.  I still think it's a case of sour grapes:
Spurrier finished his three-year, thirty-one-game career as Florida's starting quarterback having completed 392 of 692 attempts, with 4,848 passing yards, thirty-seven TDs and 442 yards rushing.
   Palmer often alternated playing time with quarterback Doug Johnson, and later, with quarterback Rex Grossman. Memorably, he connected with Bo Carroll on a 75-yard touchdown pass play, and rushed for four touchdowns against the Kentucky Wildcats in 2000. He finished his four-year college career with 3,755 passing yards.
   Palmer still can't touch Spurrier!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Bear Closes Local Park

One of the jewels of the Boulder Parks system, the Eben G. Fine Park is located along the western end of  the Boulder Creek Path and includes picnic shelters, restrooms, bike paths, lots of shade, and lovely creekside picnic spots.  Today, it also has an adult black bear napping in a cottonwood tree about 30 to 40 feet above the ground.  The bear had been spotted before dawn, raiding trash cans...
The black bear in Eben G. Fine Park in Boulder this afternoon.
It is assumed by the Department of Wildlife that the bear will exit the tree at dusk and head back into the foothills.  The bear has not been caught, tranquilized, or tagged previously.
 And we have a wildfire burning nearby - the Roach Fire is burning in Larimer County, near Red Feather Lakes and the Wyoming border.  It has grown to 125 acres and is now 50% contained.  Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle will be issuing a fire ban beginning at noon tomorrow, August 31.  This area normally has a record of about 32 days between May and September in which we have a temperature of 90 degrees or higher; this year, we are looking at day 66 (of temps higher than 90) to arrive tomorrow.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Awwwww... And an "Oh, My!"

Found abandoned, burned, and covered in soot, a bobcat kitten rescued from a Northern California wildfire over the weekend is recuperating just fine at a South Lake Tahoe wildlife shelter, officials said on Wednesday.
Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care
Chips, the bobcat kitten, was rescued by firefighters patrolling the Chips Fire in Plumas National Forest in California. She's fattening up at a wildlife center, getting fed mouse meat.
The 4-week-old bobcat is “starting to feel better and wants to get out,” Cheryl Millham, executive director and co-founder of Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care, told NBC News. “She’s sleeping and eating much better.”  Members from Northern California’s Mad River Hand Crew were patrolling the northern end of the 74,000-acre Chips Fire in Plumas National Forest on Saturday when they found the bobcat stumbling in the ashes, Millham said.  Crew superintendent Tad Hair spotted the animal, described as about the size of a domestic kitten, walking alone near a stump. The bobcat was walking in circles, barely able to hold herself up.
The kitten had suffered second-degree burns on her four paws. After seeing no signs of her mother, Hair decided to get her to a Sierraville, Calif., firefighter who transported her to Lake Tahoe, Millham said.  The wildlife center received the kitten, who was named Chips, on Saturday evening and started her rehabilitation. Chips will be sheltered throughout the winter at the center, where she will learn appropriate behaviors with other animals, Millham said. She's eating pulverized mouse and squirrel, and drinking formula.  "She will get well, heal up and be released into the wild when she is ready," probably when she is about 8 months, Millham said.  Chips is expected to gain 10 more pounds before her release into the wild. Her vision, which had been impaired by an infection from smoke and ash, is expected to heal, Millham said.
  Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care is a non-profit organization that helps injured and orphaned animals.

************** The mayor of the South Texas town of Hollywood Park has died after apparently being attacked by a 500-pound donkey on his ranch, officials said Wednesday.  The body of Mayor William "Bill" Bohlke, 65, was found Monday night during a search by Atascosa County Sheriff’s deputies and relatives, according to the sheriff’s office.  Chief Deputy David Soward told The Associated Press that Bohlke apparently was attacked on Monday morning by an aggressive male donkey on his ranch.  The Mayor went out to his ranch to takes photos of his prize heifers and check on all the stock.  A jenny was in season in an adjacent pasture, and the jack, known to be aggressive, attacked the Mayor.   -   My only (and truly awful) question is - was the Mayor a Democrat or a Republican?

Seal Pup, Kitten and Foal

This young seal seems to be laughing
Persian kitten seems upset with a watermelon
This Gypsy Vanner foal already has dapples on its butt

Critters Near and Far

What a few days for domesticated and wild critters! In Delmar, Maryland during this past weekend, a young man in a drunken stupor stumbled onto a poultry-raising farm. The young man doesn't remember anything - how he got there, what happened, etc. - until he awoke in the local jail. He somehow got into the shed with all of the power controls, and, apparently (we're guessing here...), tried to turn on what appeared to be a light switch. What he turned OFF was the ventilation system and cooling fans for 70,000 chickens that were due at the market a day later. Without the ventilation and cooling systems on, the birds began to die from heat prostration within a period of 15 minutes. Less than 300 chickens survived from the 70,000 affected. (Demon rum wins again! ... Sorry, I just had to type that line! Rotten, wicked, little me.)
     Near College Station, Texas, a family feeds their cats outside on a porch that is beside the kitchen. For the last several weeks, a skunk has been happily eating its' fill each night. Finally, the wife had enough, and said she was tired of spending money on food for the cats that a skunk was eating. She has a license for a concealed weapon, and when the skunk made its nightly appearance, she went to another room to get her .45 pistol. She exited the house through a side door, and crept up on the skunk. She then shot it - but she somehow missed. The skunk sprayed her as it hurriedly left, and her shot ricocheted off the porch, through the kitchen door, and ended up in her husband's abdomen. Luckily, since the bullet was pretty spent, it did not penetrate deeply into the husband. Both the husband and wife were stinky, bloody messes when they arrived at the local hospital.
     The Department of Wildlife officials here in Boulder killed a mountain lion last night, and scared off another. Both were sighted by the DoW, and identified as adolescent cats - just old enough to be out on their own, and acquiring their own territories after leaving the family den. The youngster who ran was first spotted laying on the top of a hot tub cover, six blocks from my apartment. The one that was killed was spotted one block further east. The hot tub cat, when he spotted people, ran. DoW will try to trap and tag him, hoping to ensure he doesn't become a nuisance. The young male that was killed was in an apartment area back yard, and had killed and eaten a domestic house cat. When DoW arrived to look at this youngster, he allowed people to approach him within a distance of 6 feet, before he crept back. Since he was allowing such a close approach, it was decided that he was too desensitized to humans to trap and relocate. (I hate it when this happens!) So he was shot and killed on the spot. I live in, essentially, downtown Boulder. The mountain lion that was killed was in the back yard of an apartment complex, and next to the Dairy Center for Performing Arts - it is a heavily trafficked area, and there are a great many children, both in the complex and visiting the Center. I understand the need to make sure the area is safe, but I don't like the loss of the mountain lion.
    Boulder is so terribly proud of all of the green spaces, and open areas, and wide creek and bike paths - however, folks need to realize that they are an open invitation to wild wildlife. I don't mind looking out into my back yard and seeing raccoons, chipmunks, squirrels, birds, foxes and the occasional deer. I wouldn't mind seeing bears or mountain lions either. But we need to find a way of living together equitably!!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Interesting Sights

Sunrise at Mono Lake, California
Stonehenge, on Salisbury Plain, England
Venezuela poodle moth

Poor New Orleans!

Hurricane Isaac seems to be following the same path that Hurricane Katrina did.  While not as powerful as Katrina, Isaac is moving very slowly, and the problem with him will be rising waters, storm surge and flooding rain, not to mention the continuous wind.  At least the state had good warning this time.  At least FEMA, the US government, and the state and local governments had lots of warning.  At least it was announced that there would be no evacuation centers of last resort, like the Convention Center and the Super Dome.  It just doesn't seem fair that the city is getting smacked again, seven years to the day that Katrina brought such ruin.
  It's currently 82 degrees here in Boulder, the sky is mostly overcast, there is quite a breeze blowing about 20 to 30 feet above the ground, and we have 30% humidity.  Walking the red kids this morning seemed a breeze, but I was covered with sweat by the time we finished - and my hair is still soaked with sweat, almost an hour later.  I let the kits run outside for 90 minutes this morning, before I left to walk the dogs, and I opened the patio door as soon as I got back.  Nedi has popped in and out, but Lovey is staying in the cat tree.  (At least Katrina's legacy to me was the gift of Lovey in my life!)
  I had to take a dose of meclizine this morning - with three minutes left in the Jets game Sunday night, I broke out into a cold sweat, was nauseated, and couldn't get my eyes to focus.  I was terribly dizzy, and couldn't walk, even to bed, without having something to hold onto, to keep me erect. When I was in bed, I turned my head to the left, and lost the world in a vortex of vertigo.  I was able to function yesterday with meds, but this morning, I kept making mis-steps, so I finally medicated myself before heading out for the always rambunctious Irish Setters.  With the constant sound of the wind in the tree leaves outside, I'm having a hard time keeping myself "feeling steady"  right now.  Mom used to have the same problem, so at least I know it's not something personal!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Pretty Scenes

The Colorado National Monument
Sunrise at the LaDue Reservoir in Ohio
Sunset at Pentwater, Michigan

Crimes and Times

I don't remember when I first heard, "If you do the crime, you do the time," - but I'm pretty sure it was around when I was attending high school back in the early 1970s.   At that time in my life, it usually referred to someone 'borrowing' a parent's car without permission, having an accident, and admitting it to said parents, then taking the punishment in stride.  And I realize that I sound like an 'old fogey,' and that each generation bemoans the fact that the following generation just doesn't live up to the elders' expectations...  I realize, too, that today's extraordinary communications array allows for the world-wide dissemination of news in seconds, as opposed to the relatively slow spread of "news" via letters, newspapers, and news magazines up until the mid-1800s.  It just seems to me that younger generation today has no grasp, or any idea of, the sanctity of life - nor of the widening ripples that flow out from a single instance of violence. 
   Today, I shook my head while reading the local newspaper because last year, a young man, then a teen (now 20), had plead "not guilty" to a felony animal cruelty charge.  He and two friends had beaten a raccoon to death with a baseball bat, a hockey stick and a tennis racquet.  The two friends plead guilty, but this young man was adamant that it was a 'quick blow' gone bad.  (According to neighbors, the boys were dancing around the raccoon that was trying to escape it's tormentors, and yelling, "Get it!"  "Smack it hard!")  Today, 30 minutes before he was due in court to face a jury trial, the young man made a plea deal.  He admitted guilt to a misdemeanor animal cruelty charge, and got one year's probation, and 6 weeks of Community Service.  Is this just an acknowledgement that "boys will be boys," and that humankind has a built-in lust for "blood sport?"
   Over the weekend, the news was that Zoey Ripple, the CU student who was shot in the hip while she was in a drunken stupor and invaded the bedroom of a couple asleep in their own home, is still seeking a plea deal.  According to the local press, she has a long history of misdemeanor charges, including petit theft and DUI, but has never had to serve any time or perform any community service.  Now having been caught with an alcohol level three times the amount that is legally allowed, having let herself inside a private residence and trespassed on into the bedroom, having been so drunk that she simply couldn't respond to several "Stop or be shot!" warnings, she now doesn't want to face the consequences of her actions.  This is a young woman who, apparently, has needed some type of interventionary help, but who has either (a) not availed herself of such counseling, or (b) just doesn't care about anyone except herself.
    I won't even start writing about the gunman at the Aurora movie theater...  He really upsets me!
   People need to start acknowledging that there is a right and a wrong.  And if they do the wrong thing, they need to readily accept the punishment that the rest of society sets out for them.  All of this pleading down to lesser crimes and sentences is a slap in the face to justice.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

More Critters

A chipmunk lunching in Yellowstone National Park
One of the local squirrels enjoying a peanut
A black bear grabbing greens in a Massachusetts back yard garden

Bicycle Racing, Football, a Fight, and a Wedding

I was able to watch the last few miles of the US Pro Cycling Challenge on the NBC Sports channel yesterday, as it wound through Boulder and then up Flagstaff Mountain.  It was nice that a locally-based rider won yesterday's stage - but I was appalled to see the way that the cyclist had to, sometimes, fend off well-wishers on the way to the finish line.  And I was also amazed at the clothing, or the lack of it, among some of the spectators, too.   -  I mean, really, running up the side of the road on Flagstaff wearing nothing but a Speedo bathing suit and flip-flops - it was a horrendous sight! 
  I was also able to watch both the Redskins and the Saints win their pre-season games yesterday, and hope to do the same today watching the Broncos, and then the Jets.  I've already taken care of Ooch and the Thore girls - and was bemused by the "Wedding ---->" signs in the neighborhood, until I realized that it was Alexy Pendle's son's nuptials.  Alexy had frightened me the other day, by climbing 10 feet up a ladder and hanging lights in a tree.  The trouble was, she stepped on one side of the ladder, and it tipped, leaving her hanging by her arms from a tree limb, and directly over a concrete walk.  (Believe me, concrete does not respect your bones when you are over 50 years old!)  I heard an odd sound from the back of her house, jogged back there, and was able to retrieve the ladder so she could safely descend.  We both needed a cuppa to calm our nerves...
  And I don't know if I should be classified as a good or a bad neighbor, after I called 911 to report a "domestic disturbance" in the apartment two door down, and one story up, from me.  She was yelling and cursing to beat the band, hallway and patio doors were slamming, there were several "thunks" and "thuds" against the walls, and since I couldn't hear my TV (which I had turned up to the max to drown out the live rock band playing next door) due to her screaming and yelling, I called the police.  Apparently others in the building had called, too, so I don't really feel too badly about it...
  Hope your last Sunday in August (this year) is a great day!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Western US Views

Taking a walk at White Sands, New Mexico
Starry skies above a cloud containing lightning and rain...
Silver Lake, California

Cycling, Lance Armstrong, and Drugs

It's a beautiful day outside: sunny with a light breeze, and the temperature is currently 65 degrees.  I have had breakfast, done my grocery shopping, taken care of my kits, and visited and cared for Ooch and the Thore girls.  Lovey is sleeping in the cat tree and Nedi is lying on the tiles, just inside the patio door.  I ran into one of my cabby buddies who drove me up to North Boulder and back, and we discussed the "rolling closures" that will be taking place in the streets around Boulder due to the US Pro Cycling Challenge being here today.  -  The city is expecting more than $8 million in income from today's race - it runs through Boulder twice, and there's a day-long cycling Expo at the Pearl Street Mall.  And it seems a shame that all of the garbage about Lance Armstrong has hit the news while (a) he is cycling in Aspen, and (b) the US Pro Cycling Challenge is being held in Colorado.  Lance Armstrong never failed a drug test; he never tested positive for any banned or illegal substance.  But now, several years after his last Tour de France win, other racers say he was "doping" - and he has been stripped of his titles and winning records only by hear-say evidence from other athletes who were beaten by him.  It seems a little fishy to me....
  Three silly teen aged girls are in critical condition after "experimenting" with prescription drugs and large doses of Tylenol in Virginia.  They all took varying doses of prescription Xanax, Zoloft, codeine, and an unidentified drug used to battle Parkinson's disease, as well as 20 to 50 tablets of Tylenol apiece.  After two of her friends passed out, the third was barely able to call 911 and tell the dispatcher that they had taken "lots of drugs..."  It just amazes me that anyone would do such a thing - with so many side-effects warnings being shown on the TV when drug companies try to garner new patients for their prescription drugs.  As a kid on Chincoteague, I wasn't aware of a drug problem, but since the mid-1970's, it seems to have exploded exponentially.
   Today I have a Redskins game to watch, and tomorrow is a double-header, with the Broncos first and the Jets following.  At least it's nearing the beginning of football season, again!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Impressive Sights

A giant tree towers above others
Manatee meets maiden
A waterfall at Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia

Strange Night....

It's my own fault, I know.  But I was glad I had purchased a new straw broom last week, and left it in my walk-in closet/dressing room.  I watched one of my favorite movies last night, Die Hard, and followed it up with last night's episode of Person of Interest.  It was cooler than it has been, and the kits were enjoying running in and out and catching bugs, so I had left both the sliding glass door and the screen door to the patio open about a foot in width.  At the end of Person of Interest, I turned the TV off, and wandered into the bathroom, relieved myself, brushed my teeth, and put on my long cotton sleep shirt.  As I turned to exit the bathroom, Lovey came in, talking away.  Then Nedi came to the dressing room doorway, and seemed to be checking over his shoulder...  I walked on out and found five raccoons in my apartment.  I know that Momma 'Coon brings her four youngsters along and, essentially, they "quarter" the back yard each night around 10 p.m.  I just didn't really expect them to be bold enough to come in through my door.  Dumb me! 
  It was one of the younger kits that I first met; it hissed and stayed right where it was, looking over it's shoulder for Mom's back-up.  I couldn't help it: I started to laugh.  Two of the youngsters were eating from the two types of dry food that I have in kitty dishes, Mom was eating salmon in gravy canned food; the fourth youngster was investigating the door of the refrigerator.  None of the critters seemed interested in leaving.  Lovey and Nedi were staying behind my legs, with occasional growls and hisses erupting.  First, I tried to look larger than I am - I swung my arms out like the Tasmanian Devil in the cartoons, and hissed and growled.  I got looks from all of the intruders, but nothing else.  So I started to look around in the closet/dressing room, and I spied the new straw broom. 
  It's a little ragged in places right now, but I consider the missing areas of straw as war wounds.  I ended up literally sweeping the first (closest) youngster back through the back door, then the one at the 'fridge.  Mom and the two young'uns together are the ones who bit and tore at the broom, as I pushed them along the tiled floor and out the back door.  I closed the glass door and locked it.  Lovey got up in the cat tree, and Nedi crawled behind the glass door's curtain, so they could both lord it over the raccoons who had been sent packing.  I dumped and washed the old cat food bowls; then filled up new clean ones.  The raccoon family stayed for another half hour, trying to convince me to open the door and feed them some more - but I didn't.
  I'll have to keep an eye on the time, the kits, and the raccoons tonight!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

County Judge in Texas Says Obama Re-Election Will Start Another Civil War in the United States

This is taken directly from a CNN news report:
"An elected county judge in Texas is warning that the nation could descend into civil war if President Barack Obama is re-elected, and is calling for a trained, well-equipped force to battle the United Nations troops he says Obama would bring in.
  The comments by Lubbock County Judge Tom Head, who oversees emergency planning efforts, were broadcast by CNN affiliate KJTV. He made similar remarks on radio station FOX Talk 950.
Saying that as the county's emergency management coordinator he has to "think about the very worst thing that can happen and prepare for that and hope and pray for the best," Head told radio host Jeff Klotzman that he believes "in this political climate and financial climate, what is the very worst thing that could happen right now? Obama gets back in the White House. No. God forbid."
  Referring to unexplained "executive orders" and other documents that Obama and "his minions have filed," Head said, "regardless of whether the Republicans take over the Senate, which I hope they do, he is going to make the United States Congress and he's going to make the Constitution irrelevant. He's got his czars in place that don't answer to anybody."
  Obama, Head said, will "try to give the sovereignty of the United States away to the United Nations. What do you think the public's going to do when that happens? We are talking civil unrest, civil disobedience, possibly, possibly civil war ... I'm not talking just talking riots here and there. I'm talking Lexington, Concord, take up arms, get rid of the dictator. OK, what do you think he is going to do when that happens? He is going to call in the U.N. troops, personnel carriers, tanks and whatever."
  Head vowed to personally stand "in front of their personnel carriers and say, 'You're not coming in here.' And I've asked the sheriff. I said, 'Are you going to back me on this?' And he said, 'Yeah, I'm going to back you.' Well, I don't want a bunch of rookies back there who have no training and little equipment. I want seasoned veteran people who are trained that have got equipment. And even then, you know we may have two or three hundred deputies facing maybe a thousand U.N. troops. We may have to call out the militia."  "

Loch Ness - & - Nessie(?)

Urquhart Castle, overlooking Loch Ness in Scotland
The famous 1934 photo of Nessie, supposedly taken by Dr. Wilson, and lately proven a hoax
Nessie?  Or a sinking log?
Latest Nessie photo, taken at 1 p.m. on 2 November 2011...

Loch Ness Monster, Thoroughbreds & Ads

Yesterday, in the year 565 (and that's 1447 years ago), was the first reported sighting of the monster in Loch Ness, Scotland. An Irish missionary wrote that he saw a huge, long-necked creature arise from the water of the loch and pull another man into the water, before submerging and disappearing. How does the story of this creature stay alive? I know there were reported sightings throughout the years; between October 1871 and August 1933, there were 14 reported sightings. In 1934, a road was built around the loch, and sightings became more frequent, with a London paper printing a photo taken by a well-known physician (lately proved a hoax). Loch Ness is almost 23 miles long, nearly 800 feet deep and stocked with salmon, eels, trout and sturgeon. The lake was formed by melting Ice Age glaciers some 10,000 years ago, and is a body of freshwater. The last sighting of "Nessie" was reported on 2 November 2011, but it had last been seen on 17 June in 1998.   Has he/she/it finally passed away? Was it really a trapped plesiosaur (and, possibly, family?) from the Jurassic period? I think that as long as man has dreams and imagination, there will always be a monster in Loch Ness, a Bigfoot or Sasquatch in the northwestern US, and Yetis or Abominable Snowmen in the Himalayas. After all, humans need dreams and imagination to continue to grow and explore with every generation... When there are no more questions to be answered, I think mankind will swirl down the drain of life.
   I have to say that this year's crop of three-year-old colts has been a disappointment. Yes, I'll Have Another won two of the three Triple Crown races; Union Rags won the third; Bodemeister was runner-up in two of the Triple Crown races and was a Grade I winner.  And it was just announced that Hansen, the striking grey colt, has an injured tendon and will probably be retired, also. All three colts have been retired from racing due to leg problems; all might have been able to race again, next year, if given time off and allowed to heal.   Then again, are we Americans breeding the thoroughbred race horse into something that can't run beyond three years of age? Surely not! What about Seabiscuit? - Oh, yeah... He ran in the 1930s. What about Kelso, Forego, and John Henry? They raced into their later years - but they were all geldings, and couldn't pass along their wonderful racing genes of strength and longevity on the track to new generations. I really am beginning to believe that the USA is breeding the thoroughbred into disaster. How many horses today could contend in the old type of racing - in four mile heats, sometimes running three in one period of daylight? Perhaps steeplechasers could compete, and perhaps three-day event horses could compete - but I can't think of one horse, who could, today, race in the old fashioned manner. Perhaps Secretariat and Man o' War could have done so... But I really don't think that today's thoroughbreds - bred anywhere in the world - can hold a candle to the old racers: Cade, Regulus, Lath, and the original Eclipse. The Breeders Cup will be held the first weekend of November at Santa Anita - we'll have to see who will be able to run...
   While watching Jeopardy! last night, I counted commercials: there were three normal ads (ie: cars, toothpaste, grocery shopping); nine ads for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan; and three ads for Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Can I guess which party has more money? - I am so sick of seeing the same political ads, and it's only the end of August! I think the ads I find most offensive are the ones that neither Romney nor Obama have approved - the ads claiming to be from different support groups. Bah! Humbug! You can tell from the way the ads start, as to whether it is pro or anti someone. I will be very happy when this Presidential election is over!
  We're expecting afternoon thunderstorms, which will be a welcome relief...  It's partly cloudy, and a nice breeze is blowing from the west.  The haze from the western wildfires is still present, as one can barely see the Indian Peaks and Mount Audubon from my place.  Oh, well....

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


I am decrepit this morning -  I slept in the wrong position, and I can't move my head or neck (that's what comes of breaking your neck and ripping all the support muscles and tendons from one side when you're young and foolish); I awoke with a migraine; my recurrent shingles are back, and a 23-year-old cousin was killed in a work-related accident yesterday.  I am blue, bummed out, and I hurt.  It's not a great start for hump day.
  At least the kits are fine - both slept with me, until I dreamed I was working with a dog I know very well, but it wouldn't stop and sit... I awoke, sitting up in bed, and saying, "Sit!" - that's when the kits left.  And there's a man in the building, whom I haven't seen before - he claims to have lived here "a long time" and last night he pitched a tent in the back yard and slept in it.  The back doors and windows to the apartments on the ground floor are extremely easy to break into, and it worries me that someone I don't know, who reeks of alcohol, is wandering in the area of my patio at all hours.  Is it just me, being contrary?  (I can break into my apartment with anything that is half-way sharp...)
   And, as a final note, do these two guys look similar to you?  Or am I really going nuts? 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

High and Low Places

The Tungurahua volcano is erupting near Bilbao, Ecuador - this photo was taken this morning.

The barely discernible line running from the left of the photo and winding back on itself to finally disappear on the lower right is the path that my brother-in-law, Jim Snow, ran up Pikes Peak on the 13.32 mile Ascent run on Saturday, and the 26.218 mile Marathon (to the top and back to the bottom) on Sunday.  Jim finsihed 10th in his age group (65 - 69) in the Ascent, and 5th in the Marathon.  Go, Jimmy, go! (In no way could I do that!)

A view of Talyllyn Lake in North Wales

A Drink, Therapy, and Dreams

Oh, dear....  I've found another beverage that I like - and it's from Starbuck's.  I tried their Cool Lime Refresher today, made with a slice of lime, lime juice, and "green coffee extract."  I certainly got more of a caffeine buzz from half of this drink than I get from 12 ounces of Coca-Cola.  It certainly is an 'energizer' type of drink - and it tastes wonderfully delicious, too.  (I had been prowling the aisles of Safeway, looking for something for lunch and/or supper, when I heard my friend Patrick announce that Starbuck's was having a special on this new drink.  Ummm-ummm...  Glad I wandered over to the kiosk and surprised Patrick and Joy by actually ordering something!
   Lovey would not leave me alone when I returned home yesterday.  She had to be the center of my attention at all times, while Nedi was happy getting a little bit of love, leaving, and then getting more love.  Lovey slept on my chest last night - I wonder if she thinks her 11 pounds can keep me pinned to the mattress?  This morning I saw my therapist, and we laughed a lot.  We both were pointing fingers at each other and declaring that what the other had said wasn't "proper."  But that's OK - it's the second time in 8 years of visits that I actually felt good.  So we had a very pleasant session.
   I laughed and told her how I had purchased two PowerBall tickets for the $327 million prize, and then, knowing the odds were trillions to one of me winning, I looked at properties for sale on Chincoteague.  I decided that I wanted to buy 6 different houses and a 26-acre plot of land, and become a beach cottage landlord-mogul.  There was one house I would live in, one I would keep for friends and visitors, and I'd lease the other 4 out during the summer boom.  What a laugh.  At least I spent only $4 on the two tickets, and I won $12...  even though it would have been nice to go back to the island with some real money....
   I'm continuing to walk the red kids, and on Saturday, I start attending Ooch twice a day; then on the first, I move in with Skipper for the Labor Day weekend.  Should be quiet, but interesting, and I hope the family leaves me with the use of a car...  they live a mile from the closest bus stop - but I can walk it with no problem - it's just nice to have the convenience of wheels.  I haven't yet looked up all of my football teams schedules, and printed them out; that's the only item on my "to do list" today.  Then I can decide who I'll try to watch, and when.  With five college teams and three pro teams to watch, it might get pretty hectic this fall...  Maybe, even, exciting?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Assateague Island Erosion & New Chincoteague Bridge

Aerial view of the new bridge to Chincoteague Island (top) and to Marsh Island (bottom)

The Assateague Beach-Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge beach parking lot in 2010

Here is a photo of the same area above in 1966 - the red lines denote the shore line in 2010

Tidal wash-through on Assateague Beach just north of the pictured parking lot in 2011

Sea Levels Rising, Coastal Islands Shrinking

I love my eastern Virginia island homes - they are two separate islands, but, to me, they are both "home."  Assteague Island is the outrider, farthest to the east, and is a long sandy barrier island that lies in both the state of Maryland and the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Assateague Island is a designated National Seashore, and the southern end (in Virginia) also contains the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.  Chincoteague Island, today, is made up of four islands - Chincoteague, Little Piney, Marsh, and Piney Islands.  White people have lived on Chincoteague since the 1640s, and they moved over onto Assateague, then back onto Chincoteague, when the US government took over the management of Assateague.
   My Whealton family ancestors received one of the first land patents on Chincoteague back in 1643;  my Tunnel family ancestors settled near present-day Oak Hall in 1650.  My ancestors were a combination of watermen, fishermen, and farmers - near, and on, Chincoteague and Assateague Islands.  Nearly 100 years ago my great-grandfather and grandfather tended the Assateague Lighthouse and the Killock Shoals Lighthouse.  The family has seen a lot of changes on both islands over the passage of years -  I, personally, can remember when there was another 800 to 1000 feet of sand dunes and beach on the southern end of Assateague...
   Chincoteague and Assateague are barrier islands.  They change yearly - parts are eaten away by the action of the wind and surf, while, in other places, debris and sand build up the land mass.  Following is a newspaper report from the Salisbury Daily Times that was written by staff writer Carol Vaughn, and was published yesterday:
    "Islands Caught in Middle of Debate"
CHINCOTEAGUE -- Local businessman S. Scott Chesson was angry when he testified earlier this year before a house subcommittee about U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service plans for nearby Assateague Island.  "Our Federal Government seems to be on a course to turn Chincoteague Island into a ghost town. ... Unfortunately, the business people of Chincoteague Island no longer view the Fish and Wildlife as our partner -- they have become an impediment and a threat to our livelihood."
  At issue is a federal agency struggling to deal with the impacts of coastal erosion, sea-level rise and climate change, and a town seeking to hold on to the tourism industry that has exploded over the last 50 years.  The epicenter of the controversy is a 961-space parking lot on Assateague Island -- a pristine barrier that loses ground to the ocean every year. The short-term erosion rate averages more than 25 feet a year but a recurring spit of sand is building at Toms Cove Hook, growing at a rate of more than 120 feet a year. "We're just running out of real estate" on the site where historically, the recreational beach and parking lot has been, said Joe McCauley, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's regional lead working on a new management plan for the refuge.  Some of the erosion is the nature of a barrier island, but "we're seeing sea level and climate change having an additional effect," he said.
  Life changed on this barrier island -- where Marguerite Henry was inspired to write the Newbery Honor book, "Misty of Chincoteague" -- when the bridge to Assateague from Chincoteague was built in the 1950s. Tourism has evolved and grown to be the area's main economic driver.
  The local chapter of The Nature Conservancy supports federal efforts to consider climate change in the equation for Assateague.  "Unfortunately, climate change will very likely have profound effects on the location and nature of habitats at Chincoteague NWR and surrounding coastal ecosystems," wrote Virginia Coast Reserve Director Steve Parker last year.  Parker commended the federal agency for its pro-active approach to planning for how to adapt in a way that preserves the ecology at the wildlife refuge and the multiple conservation and public uses.
  Which is why business owners like Chesson are worried about a scenario that no longer lets visitors park near the beach and instead depends on a shuttle bus system. "We are scared because a future with limited access to the beach on Assateague Island via a bus service will destroy jobs, diminish property values and close the doors of family owned and operated businesses," Chesson said. "Our town's people have mortgages on their homes, business loans and children to feed and educate." The town business infrastructure includes 962 motel rooms, 1,143 camp sites and 670 rental homes and cottages.
  Tom Bonetti, lead planner for the refuge management plan, said the agency had no intention of replacing the parking lot with a remote shuttle system. Instead, the remote lot was a safeguard in the event that the existing lot lost some of it's 961 spaces and overflow parking was needed.  The parking lot has been replaced four times in the last 10 years because of flooding and storms, costing between $200,000 to $700,000 each time. Nor'Ida destroyed the parking lot in 2009 and most recently, Hurricane Irene left 18-inches of sand on some parts of the lot and created a 100-yard-wide breach just north of the parking area. It later filled in.
  Greg Merritt remembers what the beach at the Assateague Island National Seashore looked like 40 years ago.  "It used to have really high sand dunes," said Merritt, a retired journalist and Chincoteague Island native who worked summers at the seashore in the early 1970s. "It's a lot different over there now from what it used to be."
   The beach is a shadow of its former self. Maps show the recreational beach at the southern end of Assateague Island lost 800 feet since 1962. A snack bar with inside seating was torn down because of encroaching seas -- so were bathhouses with running water.  It is impossible to tell just how much is due to sea level rise itself because storm overwash is also a factor in shoreline erosion on Assateague, said geologist and barrier island expert Orrin Pilkey in June, when he visited the refuge to lecture on the effect of sea level rise on barrier islands.  But projections being used to develop a management plan for the national seashore indicate the sea level could rise between 3.5 and 9 inches by 2040.
Lou Hinds, manager of the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, said it's obvious land is disappearing as a result of sea level rise.
   The sad part: "There's nothing the American public or government agencies can do," he said.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Football, Horse Racing, & Home

I watched two football games yesterday, and both teams I wanted to win, lost.  It was a shocker that the Seattle Seahawks beat the Broncos with a score of 30 to 10.  Everyone thought that once the Broncos had secured the golden boy, Peyton Manning, that winning would be pretty much guaranteed.  Not so.  Peyton played for the first half, without throwing a touchdown pass, and tossing two interceptions.  The first was batted down by a defensive lineman, and flipped right into the hands of another defensive lineman.  The second interception sailed over the receiver, and ended up nestled nicely in the hands of a defender.  The Jets failed badly against the Giants - at least Tim Tebow was able to get the team placed on the field so they could make their only score, a field goal.  And I was saddened to learn that the Bears defeated the Redskins, too.  My preferred professional teams and players aren't doing too well...
  Jackson Bend, a five-year-old, was training yesterday morning at Saratoga.  He was doing his usual morning gallop under his usual exercise rider.  Little Nick, a seven-year-old gelding, bolted under his rider and ran into Jackson Bend.  Little Nick's trainer said it was a glancing body-blow.  Whatever happened, it knocked the Nick Zito-trained horse down onto the track, where he didn't move for five minutes.  The exercise rider was a little shaken up - Jackson Bend was transported by ambulance back to his stall, and was immediately seen by an NYRTC vet, who treated the colt for shock, giving him IV fluids with electrolytes.  Jackson Bend has been training to defend his Forego Stakes title on the first of September.  Now he will have to be reevaluated, with special attention to his ribs and lungs.  (Little Nick was fine, finishing his work out as usual.)
   Lovey and Nedi are sunning on the patio.  I have already fed, medicated, and walked Aiko and Yoshi, Brandi, and Mona and Boo.  I'll move into the Snow house this afternoon, and be able to sleep at home tomorrow night.  I hope that Mona doesn't snore too much tonight - and that the deer stay away from the apple tree next to the house.  It's still hazy here, thanks to the smoke from all the wildfires to our west.  We need a week-long light rain, no down pours, for all of the United States.

Saturday, August 18, 2012


Cathedral Falls in West Virginia

A waterfall in the woods of western Virginia

It's been dry in Florida - this is the remnant of a waterfall in the Devil's Millhopper

Birds and Bees

I was able to rusticate for a couple of hours yesterday - and I thoroughly enjoyed myself, watching birds, bees, insects and dogs.  I was sitting in the Snow backyard, between two large cottonwood trees, and about fifteen feet away from the garden.  The garden has raspberry patches on the north and south sides, that have migrated past the fence and into the yard.  I had a blast sitting there and watching a group of five hummingbirds fuss over territorial rights - between the hummers and the honey bees, the raspberry patch was very busy.  Of course, there were other birds all around and above me, too - chickadees, house finches, blue jays, nuthatches, magpies, crows, ravens, flickers, woodpeckers, sparrows, and lots of little wrens and warblers.  Several of the neighbors keep honey bees, so their presence was expected, as were the flies and a few mosquitoes.  I was surprised to hear the click of a beak near my ear, and glanced up in time to see a swallow swoop up and away.  Then a couple of the swallows started to eat the honey bees, so I had to go scatter the birds and bees from the raspberries.
   Lovey and Nedi were very happy to see me this morning - so were Yoshi and Aiko, Ooch, Mona and Boo, and I think Brandi was happy to get a pat and rub with her breakfast.  I loved and fed and medicated and walked at four houses before I came home to my kits.  Wow.  I just had to pause and look at Rawhide - Ken Curtis was on-screen, and I recognized his face, but he was playing a bad guy, and it didn't sound like him - certainly not his put-on screechy voice of Festus Hagen, nor his usual voice in John Wayne movies.
   I'm looking forward to the two football games tonight...  and I'll bake a raspberry pound cake tonight, too.  That I'll share with Alexy, and Kathy and Jim.  Jim is running the first part of his double marathon up Pikes Peak right now - today's race is up a gravel, rock and dirt trail.  Tomorrow he'll be running on an asphalt road.  More power to him!  I can walk, but I sure can't run - and here Jim is, less than a month away from his 69th birthday, and he's running back-to-back marathons.  The man is incredible.

Friday, August 17, 2012


I love kittens - especially those with speckled bellies

Puppies that are half Chinese Pug are smart and energetic

This Oldenburg filly is certainly full of energy!

Name Your Price Feline Adoption Thru 31 August

As of two minutes ago, the Humane Society of Boulder Valley has 88 cats and kittens available for adoption.  Adopt a cat or kitten and set your own feline adoption fee! Or take a chance and spin the “Wheel of Indecision.” The offer runs through the end of this month, August 31.  You can start your search now at     There are also many dogs, puppies, and smaller pets available.  All critters deserve a loving, "forever" home; if you can help one of these animals, please do.  ...  Also, the Denver Dumb Friends League has cats, dogs, small pets, and equines for adoption.  The Denver Dumb Friends League was established in 1920, and is a no-kill organization, like the HSBV.  They have 143 cats and kittens available for adoption (through August 31, all cats aged 12 months or older can be adopted for only $10), 72 dogs and puppies available, 66 small pets (mice, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, rabbits, rats, and ferrets), and they have about 50 horses, ponies, mules, donkeys, and burros also available.  They may be found and contacted at
   Nedi has been nursing on my right arm, and Lovey is asleep in the cat tree.  We had to have a 15-minute "love me" session as soon as I got inside the door this morning.  They are wonderful kits.  It will be fantastic to sleep with them again when Monday afternoon arrives!  -  And I just checked the Sports listings to see when I'll be in front of the TV watching the Jets and the Broncos this weekend.  The Jets face the Giants at 5 p.m. (EDT) on the NFL Network; the Broncos play the Seahawks starting two hours later on one of our local NBC stations...  And, if you look closely at the photo of Tim Tebow in the latest GQ magazine, you can see that he's standing in the Swamp - the photos were taken 6 years ago.
   On Monday, the USA Pro Challenge bicycle race begins; it finishes here in Boulder, at the top of Flagstaff Mountain.  Flagstaff Mountain sits above Boulder like a Greek god in his amphitheater looking down on his kingdom. Amateur cyclists have paid homage to this mountain for decades, paying the price for spectacular views with spectacular pain. In eight days some of the best pro cyclists in the world will make Boulder, once again, a focal point of the cycling world. The USA Pro Challenge, which begins Monday in Durango, comes through here in what should be the quintessential stage of this second annual race.  The finish atop Flagstaff is the reason.
   "It's hard," said Barry Siff, the volunteer director of the Boulder Organizing Committee. "It's legitimately hard."  With the finishing time trial in Denver the next day, the race could be won or lost on the finish up Flagstaff. When the 102.8-mile stage from Golden reaches the base at Gregory Canyon, it winds steeply around wide bends and switchbacks with fantastic vistas of Boulder, the University of Colorado and Boulder Reservoir.
    It's only 3 ½ miles and not as long or steep as some climbs in the Tour de France, but when the finish reaches the summit, especially after climbs that day up Boulder Canyon, Left Hand Canyon and Lee Hill Road, the cyclists will feel every inch.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


A western screech owl

A white-faced Saki

The scent of a fresh tulip is magnificat.

Cool! - Really

It's 10  a.m., and still only 60 degrees outside. It's a nice change from the mid-90s.  I walked the munchkins and then Rosie and Remy this morning, and got quite a few looks from other folks out 'early.'  I was wearing my usual T-shirt, shorts and sneakers - but I was looking at them too, because they had on jackets and hats (and a few even had sweat suits on).  I can see wearing a light jacket if you're riding a bike, but just walking or jogging?  Nah.
  I slept with Brandi last night, having stayed with the munchkins until 10:30.  Got up at 5, and watered the plants at Brandi's while she was playing in the back yard,and then fed and medicated her.  My next stop was back at Yoshi and Aiko's - fed, watered, and medicated them, and them took them out for their morning constitutional.  Their little legs are so short that it takes me almost an hour to get around the block with them - Rosie and Remy do that in 10 minutes or less.  Anyway, then it was the red kids' turn, and we went over to the Snow's yard, so Remy could chase squirrels, and Rosie could play keep the blue bone away from Mona.  After an hour of that, and checking on return times for the Snow household, I got the reds back home and fed them breakfast.  Then I was able to head back here and love my kits.  Both Lovey and Nedi wanted love and attention first, then food and outside.  Lovey is already back inside and curled up on the sofa; Nedi has been in and out, frequently with a raven trailing him, so I'm guessing he's been bothering the bird family and they're bothering him right back.
  Yesterday, I laughed out loud while I was watching Lovey, Nedi, and Cashew, a local squirrel.  I had been hand-feeding Cashew some peanuts and almonds.  Nedi and Lovey were both nestled in the grass, watching both me and the squirrel intently.  Most of the time, Cashew ate the peanuts immediately, but went and buried the almonds.  My kits really focused on him when he was patting the earth and grass back into place.  What made me laugh was that Cashew frequently ran right up to Lovey and Nedi's noses, stopping within 3 inches of their faces, before he high-tailed it back to me.  It was as if he was saying, "She likes me best right now!"

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Two Foals

This is Paul Merrit's Mountain Mist, a Chincoteague Pony, at seven days old

On Black Mountain, walking along Offa's Dyke Path, between England and Wales

64 Large Wildfires in Western US

We have drought.  We have higher than average summer temperatures.  We have very little rainfall.  For the past five days, Colorado skies have been hazy with smoke and ash and fine particulates due to the wildfires all around us.  Currently, the "Large Incident Wildfires map" shows only one fire burning in western Colorado; there are five in Oklahoma and three in Texas - the other 55 fires are spread across states to the north and west of Colorado.  The largest fire is in Montana and is partially on the Rose Bud Reservation; the fastest spreading fire is in Washington state; and we're also getting smoke from the Mount Shasta fire in California.  This haze gives the sunrises and sunsets a tremendous amount of red color - and it's pretty -  but I'd prefer clear air, myself.
  Not only is the western US on fire, but Spain is being hit by wildfires.  The areas of Catalonia, Valencia, and the Canary Islands are being extremely hard hit, and three times the amount of land has burned (so far this year) compared to what was lost last year.  With the euro dropping, and the austerity measures called for in most European countries, Spain's fire fighters are being hit hard.  Almost 25% of the professional fire fighters cannot help combat fires because they don't have gloves and/or boots - and their oxygen breathing apparatuses are in short supply.  That isn't healthy for any one.  -  And then there's the flooding in the Philippines...  I could go on and on...
   I had to laugh out loud yesterday - the Munsingers left yesterday to drive their youngest son to Tacoma, where he begins his college education on Monday.  A good friend of Andrew's, Henry, spent some time with Andrew on Monday afternoon and evening.  Lisa, Henry's mother, called me in a panic, because Henry lost his wallet sometime Monday evening.  As I have met Lisa and Henry previously, I told them to come on over and search for the missing wallet.  It had Henry's drivers license, a new credit card, a debit card, his insurance cards, and Social Security number in it.  The only thing Henry could find was his new CSU student ID.  They spent almost 40 minutes, checking the computer and band rooms, looking in the family cars (as Henry had ridden in both of them), and checking out Andrew's room.  No wallet.  About an  hour later, Lisa called me from home - Henry had found his wallet.  Where was it?  In his bed, under his pillow.  It sounded as though Lisa was going to strangle Henry before he got away to the university at all.....

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


I've shopped for my kitties, walked the red kids, and walked the munchkins.  I will only have internet access while I'm at home until next Monday, so my posts may be short and sweet, or missing altogether.  Lovey is currently asleep in the middle of the cat tree, while Nedi is stretched out in my reading chair.  When I visit them during this week, I'll give them as much attention as they want, and then I'll turn on the PC...  Today is my sister and brother-in-law's 32nd wedding anniversary.  I gave them a card and $70 to have a nice dinner while they're in Colorado Springs this weekend.  (Jim is running in the double Marathon up Pikes Peak Saturday and Sunday -  and Mike and Annie are spending her last few days of leave together.)  I hope to be able to do a lot of baking this week while I'm looking after the munchkins;  I also want to cook myself a pot of meatballs.  I'll have to see how I can parcel the time out - four houses and four sets of critters take time.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Olympic Host Cities

London at night, looking west, down the River Thames - the 30th Summer Olympics are over, but the Para-Olympics will soon begin.

Sochi, Russia, on the Black Sea, will be the host of the 2014 Winter Olympics

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil will be the host of the 31st Summer Olympics in 2016