December 4, 2012
The giant squid is the largest creature without a backbone. It weighs up to 2.5 tons and grows up to 55 feet long. Each eye is a foot or more in diameter. For eons the shark has been considered the oceans top predator until the Seattle Aquarium found sharks disappearing. One night they caught on camera, a common giant octopus, that had been moved into a larger tank with sharks and other big fish, gobble up a shark. Hmm!
The divers that have photographed octopus and giant squids now know what danger they have been in. Besides their unique ability to camouflage themselves and disappear before your eyes besides, a giant octopus or squid has the strength to easily gobble up a human.
check out the link below:
We think we know what the top land predator is. But do we? That’s something to think about.
April 19, 2012
Pictures I’ve been taking lately have been lousy. Since I have a brand new camera, an exact replacement of the one I had, I couldn’t figure it out. The pictures are mushy, slightly out of focus. I have one disadvantage. I can read the small booklet that comes with the camera, but I cannot play the CD that goes into the advanced features. I’ve held to auto-focus, which is what I use most anyway. I took test photos around the house and yard and I threw out most of them. The one above is not enhanced in any way and turned out well.
Nor was this one of my newly cleaned purse enhanced. It occasionally turns into a rat’s nest, somehow.
This one was blurry-still is. I had to enhance it by saturating the color and cropping.
I did the same with this brave seedling starting life on a log, although, it could have stood alone. I liked it better cropped tighter and saturated a bit.
Then I got to playing around and turned this rather dull photo of plants against my brick wall with a reflective picture in the background into a pen and ink drawing. All with the magic of Picasa. It isn’t a great photo, either, but it is an interesting editing feature.
This tulip hadn’t bloomed in several years. It liked the strange rain pattern we’ve had this year. It turned out okay.
This Iris was gorgeous, not that the photo showed what my eyes saw.
This daffodil is a perfect specimen, but juxtaposed against a huge tree and distant background, it seems to float as though it was pasted onto a drawing. The light was weak and overhead and doesn’t illuminate the flower. Composition can make or break the photo.
In among the weeds, bright calendulas were hidden.
I concluded that the camera isn’t at fault. It is the photographer, that’s me, who should take more thoughtful time to get decent pictures. Maybe the best part of my camera test was getting outside and enjoying my yard for a half hour. Or, as in the photo above, just looking at everyday objects around the house from a different perspective.
October 31, 2011
I’d forgotten about Halloween until I saw the date on my computer. On our rural road, a trick-or-treater is a rarity. In 33 years, I’ve had six kids, three one year, and three another year, begging for treats. School parties are popular and safer anyway. But, those people living in a house-to-house neighborhood enjoy the fun. This weight guessing contest was set up at our local grocery store. I noticed yesterday it had been moved. I’ll have to go into town and see if I won the guess.
Happy Halloween to you and yours. In its celebrated form in the USA, it has transformed to a purely North American fun night without it’s original pagan dark side. My youngest daughter was an exchange student to France during her high school years and enjoyed teaching her French family how to carve a jack-o-lantern. With youngsters still at home, the carving, decorating, costuming and begging treats has become, for all of my grandkids, their second favorite holiday.
Yesterday, I spent time in the yard, enjoying the soon to be gone sunny days.
I harvested my walnuts for the first time in seven years. A balance of nature took all the squirrels away. I expect red tail hawks got everyone. In the past, a woman asked me what was growing on my trees. She had never seen walnuts grow. They have a husk, which dries out and the nuts free fall to the ground.
August 22, 2011
Because the Bronco developed a transmission leak, we extended our stay in Mt. Vernon. Today, we haul it to Monroe and settle in for Mike Coleman to perform his magic on it. I’ve enjoyed this park for its beautiful woods, great Olympic sized swimming pool and the hot tub.
July 19, 2011
I knew there was a reason I like to use Southwest Airlines when I fly. In fact, I always attempt to put my money where I sense corporate responsibility. Many companies, especially small companies encourage their employees to do community service, often giving them company time to do it. But how does a huge corporation that does business in so many communities involve itself with people projects?
Several months ago, the Student Conservation Association, which coordinates young adult volunteers on conservation projects across the country, approached Southwest about a collaboration tied to Southwest’s 40th anniversary. Southwest was enthusiastic about the idea and both groups met and came up with “Conservation in Action Tour: 40 Projects for 40 Years.”
On the ground, that translates as a circuitous nationwide trip in a painted Southwest RV, moving from city to city to work on conservation projects.
Prior to each stop, Southwest organizes a group of its employees to participate in the day’s project and the Student Conservation Association mobilizes its own volunteers. They were spotted in Las Vegas last week at McCarran Airport.
The Las Vegas conservation project was scheduled for the Springs Preserve, a 180-acre center-of-town cultural center dedicated to the desert ecosystem. Organizers at the preserve and the SCA planned a morning of tree planting, mulching, weeding and general garden cleanup. But the night before the event, Mother Nature intervened with a flash flood. The clean-up became a recovery project that included replacing some downed trees.
The 60 volunteers worked through the heat to get the place back in order in one day, a project that probably would’ve taken the area Springs Preserve volunteers many days to complete.
“They didn’t even want to take water breaks,” claimed Tyler Lau, an SCA project leader for the Tour 40 team.
A midsummer outdoor project in the sizzling heat of Las Vegas probably had as much appeal as skunk grease, but the volunteers pitched right in. They have done invasive plant removals, habitat restorations and wetland and riverbed cleanups, but fixing up a desert garden after a storm was something new.
Southwest spokeswoman Michelle Agnew said the Tour 40 project was something new for the airline, but giving back to communities is something it has done for years. Last week, VEGAS INC chronicled the importance of corporate philanthropy, but imagine how tough that is for an airline that flies into 72 cities?
The company initiated a program called Tickets for Time in which for every 40 hours a Southwest employee volunteers for a nonprofit organization, the benefiting organization is eligible for a complimentary roundtrip flight for fund-raising or transportation needs. Southwest employees logged 45,000 hours of volunteer work in 2009, according to the company website.
On last week’s visit, the SCA crew got a day off from RV living to spend a free night at Bally’s on the Strip.
“I never thought I’d ever spend a night in Las Vegas,” Lau says.
I’ve blogged a number of times about bad corporate citizens so it gives me great pleasure to illuminate what happens when tourism, business and conservation work together for the benefit of all.
July 11, 2011
I just got a message from the League Of Conservation Voters about a new bill in congress to repeal the mandate for efficient light bulbs enacted with a lot of bi-partisan support in 2007. It seems Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck have been ridiculing them on their shows, and, in the process, distorting the truth about these new bulbs. That, then translated into a bill by a friendly congressman. It always amazes me when congress people listen to rumor and crap and disregard solid science when they make decisions. Kind of makes you wonder if candidates shouldn’t have to pass the citizens test given to immigrants before they run for office.
Truth be told, I didn’t like the new bulbs either, at first, because I’d purchased several of them at a high price only to have them fail. You can return, them, yes, but who keeps the receipt? What bulb did you buy where? I began keeping the cardboard backing and attaching the receipt to it and writing where those particular bulbs were inserted. All for naught. In the end, most of the bulbs work just fine and last a long time. And, the cost has come down, down, down. In fact, in Arizona second-hand stores (where Jim and I always look first for anything we need in the motorhome), the bulbs are subsidized by the state to encourage their use.
But all this talk of bulbs made me kind of reflect and chuckle because while working in the Bay Area at the Santa Rita Jail in the 1950′s, I was told about a light bulb still burning in the Livermore fire department that was over 50 years old. I eventually went to look at it and indeed the story was true. Just for kicks, I went into my search engine and asked for the longest burning light bulb, and sure enough, it’s still going. Here is what wikipedia has to say:
The world’s longest lasting light bulb is the Centennial Light located at 4550 East Avenue, Livermore, California. It is maintained by the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department. The fire department claims that the bulb is at least 109 years old and has only been turned off a handful of times. The bulb has been noted by The Guinness Book of World Records, Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, and General Electric as being the world’s longest-lasting light bulb.
There are some other long-lasting light bulb stories on the wikipedia site if you want to check them out at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longest-lasting_light_bulbs
The other reason I didn’t like the new bulbs is they didn’t fit into my lamps and my light fixture globes didn’t fit over the new bulbs. Bare, they are just plain ugly. But, I’ve dined at some pretty fancy restaurants and seen those same ugly bare bulbs and figured if they can do it. I can do it. And, they are going to transpose the lighting fixture industry which translates into more jobs. The real benefit, as I see it, and the reason that the bill won’t pass, is because businesses that watch their bottom line already realize the cost savings of these new bulbs. They’ve already made a $12 billion dollar annual savings in this country alone. So, while Beck and Limbaugh claim the new standards are part of a “nanny state” governance, the reality is the bulb technology is getting much better because of the law and we (or our children’s children) may someday be reading about a rare thousand-year light bulb.
June 10, 2011
Yesterday, I found a beautiful condo complex, buildings surrounding a lovely lake with an island in the center. The day was beautiful, the lake with trout and koi swimming about, gorgeous pond lilies in bloom, the requisite ducks, and frogs; the price was right, but the town was not. Everett is an industrial kind of town with a strong rental market and downtown re-gentrification for anyone interested in this area. In the end, the crush of traffic between Everett and Seattle, and a few wrinkles with the unit as a rental, changed my mind, temporarily, anyway. If you are job hunting, this is the place to come.
We moved about 30 miles south to Monroe and spent the night at an Eagles Park. Jim and I sometimes look out our dining room window and comment how nice it is to enjoy a different view from place to place. Of course, not always this pretty. Looking out on a beautiful green meadow, a river rushes by, a flower garden, horse shoe pits, swings for the kids and a huge bonfire sized fire-pit. It’s only open to Eagles member.
The river is clean and clear, with a gravel and sand bed; a wading river. If the day had been hot, I’d have had my toes in it immediately. I’m thoroughly enjoying Washington State, despite the cold weather and rain.
June 5, 2011
Several months ago, I picked up the book Blue Highways, by William Least Heat-Moon. He calls himself a half-breed. Part Indian, his father called himself Heat Moon, and his oldest son Little Heat Moon, thus, born last, William became Least Heat Moon. Least Heat Moon set out in a home-made camper van and traveled on “small roads”, across the U.S. from Missouri headed east to the coast then back through the Carolinas, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Utah, Nevada; north to Oregon; east across the top part of the U.S., through the Great Lakes, up to Maine and then back to Missouri. An epic journey of trails and travails in fascinating prose. What made it special to me is the many places he passed through that I have passed through these last three years, with Jim, at the helm of a motor home. Least Heat Moon reminded me of other RVers, (particularly our friend Randy Vining,) who take the path less traveled, and adopt philosophies of a simplified life. Emerson, Thoreau, poets, Walt Whitman, and other historic figures like Muir, who relate to nature and the simpler things in life. People shed their possessions and find harmony, peace and joy. On the road, we meet people who profess to want that, few find it. Be inspired by this book. Here is a link to Least Heat Moon:
Jim ordered 68 books from the Book Barn in Connecticut, at $1.00 each. He finds an author he likes, and they ship him the used books. He is set to put in another order, and I’ve ordered two more “journey” books by Least Heat Moon and a Walk In The Woods by Bill Dryson. What a treat, what a deal.
Yesterday was a quiet day of letter writing, swimming and reading. The weather remained cool, but dry with a weak sun. Enough sun for Jim to get out and put new battery cables on the Bronco while I swam. At the pool, I met three kids from Tennessee with their grandfather. None of them knew how to swim. I had fun with the youngest, seven-year old, teaching him the basic rules of learning to blow bubbles, getting used to having his face in the water, and holding onto the edge and kicking. All benefit of watching my own grandkids take swimming lessons a few summers back. The boy was pleased with himself. I was taught the old, regrettable way, as a kid, when my dad pushed me off a stump and said, “swim.”
May 28, 2011
It’s the weather. It can make or break your garage sale. Washingtonians take rain in stride. The sale was smaller than advertised, it rained off and on all day, with more of the same scheduled for today. Many of the vendors had their goods in tents, or inside of their garages. Some suffered with sodden goods half covered by tarps. Everyone was cheerful. The numbers and letters above, beautifully handcrafted, would look great at my place for only a buck twenty-five each. Smaller versions were fifty cents, not that I wanted to haul it around in a motor home until I return, though.
Normally, I avoid garage sales because I already own a garage full of “stuff” I don’t need. We were looking for a cast iron omelette pan since I’m determined to give up those coated pans that make cooking so easy but release horrible chemicals into your food. Sometimes I think, I’m already ancient, so what? These sales tease me to look for eccentric, fascinating, unheard of, items I’ve never encountered before. Make my day, I say. I’ve seen beautiful decoys, hand crafted. Collectors love them. This cheap rubber flyer can cleverly fool a duck. Cheating, unsportsmanlike. I felt the same way about decoys when I was just a little girl and hated it when my dad hunted birds. The feeling is still there.
Ahh, something beautiful and indigenous to the area. Small cranberry vine woven baskets with oyster shell, apple wood and sand dollar bottoms. Hard work; beautiful; worth the $15 I paid for one. A reasonable fit in the Motor Home. .
Nobody uses old doilies any more. This woman was loading them onto a curtain rod for a valance over her kitchen window. A great recycler.
This vendor had hundreds of scarves at fifty cents, a dollar, larger ones for two and three bucks. She demonstrated package wrapping with them. A clever idea, beautiful, and cheaper than wrapping paper.
This guy, it turned out, wasn’t selling old buoys. He just collects them as a yard decoration. Hey,whatever floats your boat!
I enjoyed poking around town for a couple of hours dodging raindrops. Didn’t find a cast iron omelette pan. Next time!
May 8, 2011
The Haceta Lighthouse is barely visible from a distance on this rugged section of the Oregon coast. The day was overcast, damp, cool and invigorating.
The steep hike up gave us aerial views of the beautiful point and cove it commands and also the Cave Creek Bridge over which we crossed to get to the parking lot.
From above, we watched the churning power of the sea swirling around huge rock outcroppings as though to pulverize them to pieces.
On the way up I wanted to swing like monkey from the branches of this a tree that formed natural stairs along the trail with its huge root system. I haven’t a clue what kind of tree it is.
Amazingly, Haceta is an old 1894 lighthouse, but it is still in service. It has an automated fresnel lense that turns a 1,000 watt bulb, magnified a million times by the lense to shine 21 miles out to sea. Its an historic relic maintained by the Oregon Parks System because ships and planes have GPS and satellite sounding systems that have no need for this piece of history.
Jim and I visited about a dozen lighthouses on the East Coast last year, but I learned more about them on this visit than all of the others. Each lighthouse has two oil houses. In case one catches fire and burns, the oil from the 2nd house is available to keep the lamps lit for passing ships. The big can was filled and brought to the service level twice per shift. The small can was used to fill the oil lamp. On the day shift, the fresnel lense had to be cleaned of soot and smoke from the lamps.
The keeper had to climb inside the lamp through this service bay and polish every facet of the lense and the lighthouse windows as well. The keepers had to wear white aprons over their uniform to keep their brass buttons from scratching the lens.The lense weighs two thousand pounds and operated in the old days by counter weights such as those used by a grandfather clock.