Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Unidentified Fat Old Fart

... in socks and sandals, taking pictures of a Black-Necked Stilt.


Legs. Really legs.


Monday, February 27, 2012

One More View of America

I am presently residing in the far bottom tip of "The South", but I try to interact only with birders and the Latinos, who by tenure, are the true Americans down here.

A Proposed Reorganization of the United States

I've listening to all this crap about southern states trying to outlaw abortion through the back door with laws requiring "transvaginal ultrasound" and other procedures trying to shame women as they invade their rights and bodies. This the final straw. These redneck S.O.B.s aren't worth it. A few years ago I stole the following from a friend, who stole it from his friend, who got it from his cousin. At this point, it is certainly something to consider:
We’ve decided we’re leaving. We intend to form our own country, and we’re taking the other Blue States with us. In case you aren’t aware, that includes California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and all the Northeast. We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation, and especially to the people of the new country of New California.
To sum up briefly: You get Texas, Oklahoma and all the slave states. We get stem cell research and the best beaches. We get the Statue of Liberty. You get Dollywood. We get Intel and Microsoft. You get WorldCom. We get Harvard. You get Ole’ Miss. We get 85 percent of America’s venture capital and entrepreneurs. You get Alabama. We get two-thirds of the tax revenue, you get to make the red states pay their fair share.
Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22 percent lower than the Christian Coalition’s, we get a bunch of happy families. You get a bunch of single moms. Please be aware that Nuevo California will be pro-choice and anti-war, and we’re going to want all our citizens back from Iraq at once. If you need people to fight, ask your evangelicals. They have kids they’re apparently willing to send to their deaths for no purpose, and they don’t care if you don’t show pictures of their children’s caskets coming home. We do wish you success in Iraq, and hope that the WMD’s turn up, but we’re not willing to spend our resources in Bush’s Quagmire.
With the Blue States in hand, we will have firm control of 80 percent of the country’s fresh water, more than 90 percent of the pineapple and lettuce, 92 percent of the nation’s fresh fruit, 95 percent of America’s quality wines, 90 percent of all cheese, 90 percent of the high tech industry, most of the U.S. low-sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and condors, all the Ivy and Seven Sister schools plus Stanford, Cal Tech and MIT. With the Red States, on the other hand, you will have to cope with 88 percent of all obese Americans (and their projected health care costs), 92 percent of all U.S. mosquitoes, nearly 100 percent of the tornadoes, 90 percent of the hurricanes, 99 percent of all Southern Baptists, virtually 100 percent of all televangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Bob Jones University, Clemson and the University of Georgia. We get Hollywood and Yosemite, thank you.
Additionally, 38 percent of those in the Red states believe Jonah was actually swallowed by a whale, 62 percent believe life is sacred unless we’re discussing the war, the death penalty or gun laws, 44 percent say that evolution is only a theory, 53 percent that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and 61 percent of you crazy bastards believe you are people with higher morals then we lefties.
Finally, we’re taking the good pot, too. You can have that dirt weed they grow in Mexico.
Peace out,
Blue States

Sunday, February 26, 2012

An Alamo Report

I haven't had time to actually write, but I have a little time to catch my breath today. My daughter was down for the past week and this morning we took her to the airport. I was hoping to spend more time with Pence, but his health took a bit of a relapse and he and Vicki headed north yesterday. So, we are more alone except for the birders in the surrounding apartments that come and go. In general they are nice people, about our age, are active and we have a passion for birds in common, which is a natural icebreaker. A typical greeting, "Hey, nice optics."  We are all a little eccentric.

In addition to daily birding hikes, Lorna has been doing her nordic walking and I've turned a few pedals on the McLean. I haven't seen anyone else on what I would call a "real" bike. The Latino locals tend to drive very shiny pickups and don't seem inclined to ride around on what they probably perceive as children's toys. The riding is fine in town, no sidewalks, untethered dogs taking half-hearted runs after the bike, but nothing aggressive. (Just a thought - I grew up in a smalltown time of free ranging dogs. If no one leashes their dogs, vicious dogs are simply not tolerated.) The easily accessible road leading out of town for the seven miles toward the border is flat, dead-straight asphalt, running through huge, beautiful black dirt vegetable fields. The downside is that they are narrow with no shoulders and they carry large trucks intent on getting to town as fast as possible. A good way to die young. Or old, in my case.

Most the locals are Latinos who families have been here for 200+ years. That makes them more American than I am. The other half of the population are winter Texans, down from the north. I suppose I should feel a kinship with them, but they all seem old, and they tend to live in mobile homes and RVs, parked shoulder to shoulder in fenced enclaves with guard shacks. I'm not certain what they are afraid of. Maybe I'm naive, a lot of the locals are poor, some nearby communities have drug issues, but the people here certainly don't seem dangerous. One evening in a restaurant I asked our local Latino waiter how to pronounce an item on the menu. He said he didn't know, he had just started and he didn't know how to speak Spanish. These kids are bright and most speak impeccable English. My feeling, dealing with the young clerks and waiters is that they should all be in college. They tend to be very poor, so that is probably not in their future. Instead we will continue educating the dull-witted sons and daughters of the privileged. This country is wasting a tremendous resource. 

More later.  

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Miscellaneous Water Birds: 02/23/12


Black-Bellied Whistling Duck.




Little Blue Heron. *Gasp!* coloration.

Reddish Egret. A stunner in the feather.

Common Moorhen (or Common Gallinule) There is a nomenclature fight going on. But it's the "Common" part I object to. It is not common.

Sora Rail. A little bitch to see. Worse to photograph. I'll do better next time.

Great Blue Heron. I waited to get just the right pose. I got it, pulled the trigger, and later discovered it's eyes were closed. Another "next time".

















American Bittern. Thanks to my daughter, Addy for the photo. Try as I might, she could see it and my old eyes could not. When I grew up as a kid in Southern Minnesota we knew them as Slough Pumps or Old Danes because of their call.

Great Egret Swallow: 02/23/12








*burp*

Friday, February 24, 2012

In Quest of Ale: 02/23/12

Some of you have followed my beer travails. I have discovered that people in Texas do not have a taste for ales. All of the beer is major label, a few Mexican style lagers and a couple of bocks. At first I thought it might be a local aberration, but even large liquors stores don't carry any ales, say nothing of a nice EPA or IPA. I guess the taste for ale is in pockets of the East Coast, the Midwest, Colorado and the West Coast. Who knew?

On a short outing to South Padre Island we discovered the Padre Island Brewing Company, founded in 1995 by a third generation brewer, an emigre ... from Minnesota. He makes a pale ale with enough B.U.s to keep me happy. At least temporarily, I was home. 



Not Birds: 02/23/12

Shots from a cold, windy South Padre Island.

Mullet photographed off the bridge, slithering through the water like a great segmented serpent.
Camera envy. Or, if you get a really big honkin' camera, you too can take great pictures. And yes, I really wish I could afford one too.
Abandoned chair. My guess is was so visually perfect the sitter just couldn't bring himself to take it back home to the garage.
The ladies in my life.

Cold. And windy. Rather, Windy on your right, Cold on your left. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Frampton Is Still Alive

People of a certain age group still remember the huge-haired pop-rocker Peter Frampton, and Frampton Comes Alive, which sold 16 million albums, at the tine the largest selling album ever. He was too cute and nobody took him seriously musically. His star has since faded, the hair is long gone, his shirt is buttoned up. This is what he's playing now at the retirement home.

Signs and 'Gators: 02/20/12

Snake habitat, please stay on trails. No problem.
Stay safe, do not feed the alligators. No swimming. No problem there either.  :-)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Rose-Throated Becard: 02/21/12

I am old and my plumbing is starting to fail - that is, I seldom pass up a chance to piss. I took these photos yesterday at Estero Llano Grande State Park on the way to the john. It is a female Rose-Throated Becard (Pachyramphus aglaiae). I am being specific on the location and circumstances because people travel from all over the U.S. to try to catch a glimpse of this bird and cut a new notch in their life list. Many, many fail. I don't maintain a life list. Life ain't fair.



Sunday, February 19, 2012

Living Large: 02/19/12

Due to scheduling issues we had to book units with a switch after one week. Theoretically this second unit is a bit of a downgrade, but it is still comfortable living. The previous occupants left the hummingbird feeder, a large bag of sugar and a recipe for the sugar ratio. We added a couple of hangers. Wind chimes would not be totally accurate, it's more like a wind powered marimba. Probably spook the Broad-tailed Hummingbirds.

Today is a jewel, clear sunshine, light breeze, predicted highs in the 70s.