Thursday, May 31, 2012

The happy family

 

 

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks.

 

 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I want to go to Mexico

 

Once in a while we get vagrant birds that cross the Rio Grande into Texas, and we have that brief opportunity to see them.  The place they are coming from is a mountain range not too far south of the border.  A long day-trip or a short camping trip into Mexico would open up a vastly different, more-tropical birding experience for us.

 

But we can’t go to Mexico.  Too much violence.  Drug cartels killing people.  We can’t justify the risk just to see a few birds.  There is a war on drugs going on.  I don’t actually know anything about the war on drugs, but that doesn’t stop me from having an opinion about it, so here is:

 

I think there are people who will use drugs.  There are people who will sell drugs.  The people who are going to use drugs will, regardless of the cost, and the people who will sell them will find a way.  The more difficult we make that transaction, the more money will change hands, the more profit will be made, and the more collateral damage there will be on either side of the equation.

 

How much damage do the drug users do to get the money to buy their drugs?  It’s a giant multiple of the money they actually spend on drugs.  And how many lives are lost?  In Mexico alone there are over 1,000 drug trafficking related deaths every month.  1,000 deaths, and those are not just people involved in the drug trade.  There are a lot of innocent men, women, and children in that number.  That’s over 50,000 deaths just in Mexico in the last 5 years, and the problem is much bigger than Mexico and the U.S.  It’s all over Central America, South America, and the Caribbean.

 

What if we simplify it; decriminalize it?  Take desperation and exorbitant profit out of the equation.  Forget the war on drugs.  Let people buy and sell them.  They’re going to do it anyway.  Make the reason for the drug cartels go away.  Make the violence go away.  Make all the property damage go away.  Spend some money on education, prevention, and rehab.  We don’t have to abandon the drug users just because we don’t criminalize them.  Educate, prevent, rehabilitate, and allow for some personal responsibility.  There might be a downside to decriminalizing drugs, but can it be worse than the downside of continuing what we’re doing?

 

Then Judy and I can go to Mexico.

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I got profiled

 

I don’t mind.  It’s happened before.

 

Last time it was the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.  They did a story on us in 2007 for their magazine.  They wanted to chronicle our wandering CPA ways.

This time it’s the Colorado Society of Certified Public Accountants.  They chose me for a member profile in their magazine.  We’re still not doing things the way they’re normally done.  We’re farther down the road now, so the story has evolved.

 

We did the interview last week and had a fun rambling conversation.  If that visit results in a coherent story, it will go in the July/August 2012 issue.  “An unconventional guy finding his way in a profession known for its convention.” is the tag line.

 

 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Looking back

 

We had a good wildflower spring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Indy 500

 

Nice smooth race.  Nice new cars; a new design.  A few wrecks, but nothing tragic.  Mostly it was about racing.  With identical cars now, nobody ran away with it.  Nobody could stay out front for long either.  With evenly matched cars it was all about lead changes.  Sometimes the lead changed every lap.

 

I do miss the intrigue of the old days.  Different cars.  Different chassis.  Different kinds of engines.  There was room for secrecy and sneak-attacks like Andy Granatelli’s STP gas turbine car surprise back in 1967.  Remember that?  He developed it in secret.  He stuck an aircraft engine in a redesigned Indy car and competed against all the conventional cars.  Took the field by surprise.  Took the entire establishment by surprise.  He led 172 of the 200 laps.  He would have won easily, but a $6 bearing broke in the rear-end before he could finish.  By the next season they had updated the rules to eliminate his advantage.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRr-DGO2sOw

 

Now they’re going 220mph plus and they have to keep changing the rules to keep the cars from going faster.  In the early days they allowed engine displacement of 7,400cc’s.  Now it’s all the way down to 2,200.

 

Judy made us a nice picnic lunch so I didn’t have to get up, and I got to watch the race with my son in Colorado.  We texted back and forth through it.  Altogether a good time.

 

 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

It's fun to go to nurseries here

 

They tend to look like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A vast selection of tropical and sub-tropical plants.

 

We got one of these, a Mediterranean Fan Palm.

 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Migration

 

Eastern Kingbirds

 

It takes weeks for them to all pass through.  We see 20 or 30 a day during the height of the migration.

 

 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Indy 500

 

This year I’m totally ready.

 

I watch the race every year.  It’s the only Indy-car racing we watch, but I never want to miss it.  It’s a tradition.

 

In fact it always seems to be over too quickly.  I want to know more about who is running and what they’ve done to the equipment each year, but it always sneaks up and surprises me and I only tune in just in time to watch the race, sometimes not even until the middle.

 

Well, this year I paid attention and found the television coverage.  Last Saturday we watched the fastest 24 qualify, then the fastest 9 of those compete for the pole position.  Sunday the other 9 cars qualified for the back of the pack, completing the 33 car field.  On the television coverage they talked to drivers, mechanics, crew chiefs, team owners, used-to-be drivers.  It was awesome.  We got Indy 500 saturation.  We’re totally ready for Sunday.  (Well, Judy isn’t quite as ready as I am.  She spent a fair amount of time out of the room.)

 

So bring it on.  Indy 500.  Gentlepeople start your engines!

 

 

Now, only 472 days until the America’s Cup finals in 2013.

http://www.americascup.com/

 

 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Windmill wings

 

Windmill blades look really big.  Going down the highway behind trucks they look really really big.  We found one parked behind the truck stop in Riviera on the way down here last Sunday.

 

 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tuesday

 

Attended an all day conference in Denver; virtually.

 

Henry has mastered the art of relaxation; with a toy.

 

 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Oh no!

 

Five weeks away from here, some summer heat, a flood, and the garden at Sandpipers is ragged.

 

 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Go figure

 

When we were at Sandpipers, it was so nice there we didn’t need to leave.

 

But we went to Gulf Waters.  It’s so nice on the beach we don’t ever need to leave!

 

Except we did.  Now we’re back to Sandpipers.  It’s good to be here.

 

 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

We got some rain

 

 

Paradise Pond looks and sounds more like a pond again.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ElXQrxAzhJQ&feature=youtu.be

 

Meanwhile,

I’m watching a Coot taking a bath in the pond in front of our coach; ducking his head underwater, shaking and splashing all about, scrubbing every feather, and I wonder:  How is it that a bird that spends all day in the water suddenly needs to take a bath?  Isn’t his whole life just one big bath?

 

 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Annie and Judy update

 

Annie was feeling badly.  Her tummy was upset and it was hard for her to move around.  She couldn’t jump up on the couch or go up or down the motorhome stairs.  We took her to the Vet.  They administered lots of tests, but didn’t find any specific cause.  They prescribed medicine to calm her stomach and that helped.  It took a couple weeks but she is moving and feeling better now.

 

The cardiologist ruled out Judy’s heart as the source of her discomfort without giving us any alternatives to pursue, so we just went home to see if she got better, worse, or stayed the same.  We’re about a week later and she feels better; not completely better, but better, so we’ll continue the wait-and-see approach.

 

Funny thing.  She’s in the hospital because she’s feeling dizzy, lightheaded, fatigue, and tightness in the chest.  In the midst of all their testing, they determined her LDL Cholesterol is too high so they gave her a prescription for Crestor.  Want to guess the commonly reported side-effects of Crestor?  That’s right; dizziness, lightheadedness, fatigue, and tightness in the chest.  If she got better, how would we know?

 

Judy feels well enough that we shifted attention to her left knee.  It has been sore lately.  We thought she might have to get her meniscus scoped again.  We got her to the Ortho, and he decided she doesn’t need knee surgery.  She has a little arthritis under her kneecap that is causing the soreness.  We’ll treat it with regular doses of Aleve and some physical therapy type exercise.

 

 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

"Jungly"

 

That’s the theme of our landscaping here at Gulf Waters.

 

Heavy Oleanders on the driver’s side.

 

Closely planted Palms on the passenger side.

 

Tall Washingtonia Palms above with smaller Mediterranean Fan Palms underneath to fill in.

 

It’s open to the pond in front, but otherwise it’s overgrown.  Tropical.  Private.

 

 

Just for fun, here are some old pictures from when we first got our site.  Judy in the middle of our spot.

 

Good progress carving it out.

 

Newly completed.  Check out the size of the palms.  They’re little shrubs!

 

 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

It was a busy day

 

It was a busy day for our dashboard migrant trap.  Caught and released a Ruby-throated Hummingbird and a Gray-cheeked Thrush.

 

We don’t really mean to collect birds there on the dash, but if we leave the door open for a minute it just seems to suck them in.

 

 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Monday, May 14, 2012

Ruby-throated Hummingirds

 

The hummingbirds are back.  I stuck a feeder on the window next to my desk so they can keep me company while I work.

 

 

 

They perch on the oleanders between sips at the feeder.

 

 

 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

That's it for the West Texas trip

 

No more reports.

 

I could have sent out pictures of the Acorn Woodpecker.

 

And the holes they make in power poles

 

Or the Clark’s Grebe.

 

Or the Lark Sparrow.

 

But I decided not to.

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day, all.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

West Texas - the photos

 

Our camp at Chisos Basin.

 

What we climbed to get the Colima Warbler.

 

The view.

 

The Boot.

 

The attack-squirrel at Boot Spring.

 

Common Black Hawk.

 

 

Gray Hawk.

 

 

 

Lucifer Hummingbird.

 

 

 

The Fort Davis State Park camp.

 

A Montezuma Quail.

 

A female Montezuma Quail cleverly disguised as a rock.

 

A sign on the way to Lake Balmoreah.

How much would it suck to be this Lake Property Manager?  They have to post a reward to stop people from vandalizing him?