Friday, November 30, 2018

Arizona Blonde




A special kind of blonde.




An Arizona tarantula.




Right out there in the dark last night.


Henry found it first.


We haven’t meant to be looking for tarantulas, but this has turned out to be a good tarantula year for us.  Now we’ve seen three in the last couple months.


Our picture in the dark isn’t very good.  Here is a better picture:

(Not my photo.)


Maybe we should go on a tarantula-quest.  At least one tarantula in every state!  Oh.  Wait.  Judy says maybe not.


Here is where the Arizona Blonde lives


Thursday, November 29, 2018

I made dinner tonight



In WWII, the military ate K Rations.  When I was in the Army in the 60s, we ate C Rations when we were in the field.  Today, Judy and I decided to try the current version of military field-food, MREs, Meals Ready to Eat.  (Actually, I decided and inflicted my decision on Judy.)


The first problem with an MRE is that it packs 1,250 calories for one meal.  That’s more than either of us needs for a single meal, so we split one.


Tonight’s fare, beef brisket (warmed up with the included heating pouch), Au gratin potatoes (that’s the yellow/orange food on the plate), bread, peanut butter, jelly, cranberries, irish cappuchino, and a tootsie roll for dessert.

That’s a lot of stuff.  Yum!


Or maybe not.  A few hours later, this effort doesn’t seem like such a good idea.  We could use a little help.  Maybe each MRE should include Alka Seltzer as well…


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Yuma, Arizona


2018 December Arizona Trip


Hanging out with brother Tom and Kathy in Yuma for a couple days.

They’ve moved on from South Texas.  They’re back in their bus.  Yuma is now their winter home base, so it was good to come see them in their new surroundings.


Checked to see where Janis from our Denver office is, and she’s in Yuma too!  She is a wandering digital worker like I am.  Had a nice lunch with Brian and Janis; good to catch up.  (Totally forgot to take a picture, darn it.)  If we follow the same schedule for our next visit, we should see them again about 2028!


This is our farthest foray away from Matt and Lindsay for this trip.  We’ll get back to the Phoenix area and probably stay within a couple hours of them until after the baby is born.  So tomorrow, Cave Creek Regional Park out north of Scottsdale.



Monday, November 26, 2018



Remember that song from 1982?  “I bless the rains down in Africa.”  Catchy tune.  I heard it again recently in a restaurant and went and found it on YouTube.


That sounded pretty good, so I listened to it again.


Then I didn’t have to listen to it anymore because it was still playing in my head.


Then it wouldn’t stop!  I can only remember a few of the words, but they keep going around and around.  Make it stop!  “I bless the rains down in Africa.”  What the hell does that even mean anyway!?!?  “There's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do?”  What?  I hate this song!!!!!!!


It’s like that America song Horse With No Name.  “In the desert you can remember your name, 'Cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain.”  THAT DOESN’T EVEN MEAN ANYTHING!


Oh well, it’s not really all that bad.  It could be worse.  It could be Hotel California stuck in my head.  “Plenty of room at the Hotel California.  Any time of year (any time of year) you can find it here.”


What?  Hotel California?  OH NOOOOOOO……..


Saturday, November 24, 2018



The kids are expecting us in Phoenix in time for the new baby arriving in December.  We decided to leave early and get there for the baby shower today and surprise them, so we made this entire trip in stealth mode, talking in our nightly trip reports and phone calls about anything except being on the road, until after the big surprise moment.


Finally, after a thousand miles and a week on the road, we showed up for the shower…. But the only ones surprised were us.  We had the time wrong.  We arrived at two and the shower was at eleven.  They’d all just left!


Darn.  That was a bit of a letdown.  We had to call and find out where they were going to be next.  We all met up at their house and had a nice afternoon together with them and the kids.


Then Alex babysat while the four of us went out for dinner.  It would have been nice to surprise Matt and Lindsay at the shower, but we’d have spent the next two hours in a large group, not being able to hear each other in a noisy restaurant.  This way we got a nice long quiet dinner on an outside patio, at a restaurant where we could all hear the conversation.


A very nice end to the day of course.


Friday, November 23, 2018



Well, maybe tomorrow we’ll eat light and exercise a lot.


The migrants we get here are mostly easterners.  There are western migrants too, but in the Valley, we primarily get the eastern ones.  Here is a blue-headed vireo






Thursday, November 22, 2018



A quiet day here.  We slept in, had morning coffee, then some of us went back to sleep until noon!  A lazy day eating, sleeping, reading, football, and the group potluck Thanksgiving Dinner.  Tomorrow we’ll try to eat light and exercise enough to make up for today.


Happy Thanksgiving all!



Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Wild turkey


Can you find the wild turkey in this photo?



Monday, November 19, 2018

Today’s puzzler


In the NFL, after a touchdown, there are options:  If you try for an extra point, the ball is spotted at the fifteen and you try to kick it through the uprights for one point.  If you decide to try for a two point conversion, the ball is spotted at the two and you try to run or pass it into the end zone for two points.


So here is my question.  If you decide to go for the extra point, snap it from the fifteen, mishandle the ball, which destroys the timing of the kick, but the holder, still in possession of the ball, turns and runs the ball into the end zone, how many points do you get?


One, because even though you didn't kick it through the uprights, you got it into the end zone?


Two, because even though you set up for an extra point, you put the ball in the end zone like you would have if you had successfully gone for the two point conversion?


Or zero, because you didn't do what you said you were going to do?




Saturday, November 17, 2018

Friday, November 16, 2018



That’s the number of species of birds we generally see in a year.  Good years, in terms of birding, we record more.  Last year we recorded a record 474.  This year, not so much.  We had a few distractions.  This year, in mid-November, we’re at 372 and probably won’t record many more.


Next year however, might be different.  We’re planning the long-awaited trip to Alaska.  We’ll head north in May.  We’ll get all the winter birds here in South Texas in January and February.  We’ll watch the migrants pass through in March and April.  Then we’ll drive north through Colorado, Montana, British Columbia, and Yukon to arrive in Alaska.  We’ll see west-coast birds.  We’ll see far-north birds.  We’ll ramble Alaska to our content, then begin the long march back south about the same time all the birds up north begin their return to lower latitudes.  We’ll just float south with them.


With that many habitats and that many months, how could we not see our normal 400 birds?  In fact, how could we not see many more than that?  We’ll be covering so much more ground than normal.  In 2017 we made a push at the end of the year and got to 474.  Maybe next year, in 2019, 500?  That sounds like a good target.  500 species in one year.  With us traveling all over the place, really, how hard could it be?


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Black and white warbler


Like a little mouse running up and down the tree.


Gravity does not apply.


A migrant mostly just passing through, but a few winter here way down south.


Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Can you see


The cooper’s hawk?



That was my bird count for that spot for the day.  One.


Monday, November 12, 2018

Bill Taylor


An historical artifact

A business card from Dad, circa 1960, I’ve been hanging on to since then.


I looked up all those trailer brands.  It doesn’t look like any of them have been made since the 60s.  Mostly they look like this now:


Or this:


I remember them shiny and fine when they were new on the lot though.


Love the phone number on the card.  5 digits, with a two-letter prefix:  GA for Garfield in North Long Beach; our home number in Long Beach having GE for Geneva.  Before prefixes; in Seal Beach our number was 98779.


I looked up the trailer lot location on Google Earth.

The trailer lot then is a storage center now.


The link to the google earth view showing Dad’s commute from Long Beach to North Long Beach.

Commute map


And what the heck, a street view of our house.

321 Carroll Park West


Hey look.  The Christmas lights I put up are still there!


You can zoom out and see the neighborhood.  Carroll Park; a very cool place to grow up.


Sunday, November 11, 2018

Saturday, November 10, 2018



I got everything right yesterday about the green kingfisher except the part about the green kingfisher.  The green kingfisher pictures I sent out were really of a belted kingfisher.


My bad.  Forget everything I said about green kingfishers.  The belted kingfisher is ubiquitous.


Thursday, November 8, 2018

Henry got a new raincoat



With a hoodie.


Look how much he likes it!


Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Ask the Google


The golf cart has all these little storage slots in the dash.


An oddity of the top center slot is that the stop at the back only goes half-way up.  If you put something in it, you have to be careful to keep it low, so it doesn’t just go past the stop and fall down into an inaccessible hole.


Well if something can go wrong, you know it’s only a matter of time until it does, and our time ran out.  Now we had to retrieve something valuable from the innards of the golf cart but didn’t know how far down that was or how to get there.  A good place to start would be to remove the drink holder and see if that gave us access.  We could tell that the top of the drink holder was a separate piece, but there were clearly releases to get past that would let it lift out.  I couldn’t figure them out.  I could just overpower it with screwdrivers and leverage, but I wanted the drink holder to still be usable after I was done.  What to do?


Ask the Google!  “Removing drink holder from EZ Go golf cart.”  Guess what.  There is a youtube video precisely for removing the drink holder from our golf cart.  1:17


Knowing where to press while pulling on the drink holder, it popped right out, the cellphone was right there in plain sight, we retrieved it, and our lives are in order again.  All credit to the Google!


As a bonus, we found a letter from 2017 that had gotten dropped in there and never recovered.


Tuesday, November 6, 2018

It’s all about habitat


If you're looking for a particular bird, it helps to know which habitat that bird favors.


If you look in the right place you can often find plenty of them.


It's all about knowing where the birds like to be.


Bronzed Cowbirds.




Monday, November 5, 2018

Walking on a trail in a scrub forest



I round a corner and to my surprise.

There is a gator lying in the trail.


Not a little gator.

This is a very big gator.


Usually I see them in the water like this.


It turns out there is water within about a hundred yards of where I came across this beast.  Not knowing that at the time though, I was totally surprised by this find.  I have to say that finding an alligator on the same trail I’m walking, is significantly more intimidating than seeing one in the water from the safety of a boardwalk.


I decided to walk a different trail that day.


Sunday, November 4, 2018



Watching college football on Saturday, I was amazed to see a kickoff returner signal for a fair-catch at his own 2 yard line.  Why would he do that; make a fair catch at the 2 and pin his team there, instead of letting the ball careen into the end zone for a touchback?  Then the television broadcaster announced that the receiver had elected for a touchback.  What?  How was that a touchback and not a fair catch?


It turns out, over the off-season, they made up a new rule in college football so anywhere inside their own 25 yard line, the kickoff receiver can signal for a fair catch which is then treated as a touchback and the ball comes out to the 25 yard-line; and no one even checked with me, or informed me!


Who knew?


I had to look it up.  This is part of the overall effort to reduce high speed head-on collisions in football.


Saturday, November 3, 2018

Medicine in the U.S.


What is wrong with this picture?


Amount charged        $11,000

Medicare approved   $  1,000


What a strange game to claim ten times what you know you can collect.  Do they have to do that to get paid the right amount?  If they had charged $1,000, what they expect to collect, would Medicare have negotiated them down to $100?  If we didn’t have any insurance would this have cost us $11,000?


Friday, November 2, 2018

American redstart


The Redstart I just sent pictures of, is a migrant warbler.


It only passes through Texas briefly in the spring and fall.


There’ll be a quiz on this later.



Thursday, November 1, 2018