Big Black Fred’s Friend

And by “friend,” I mean “potential dinner.”

(Typing up a little loose end, one of literally thousands on this site I’m afraid.)

About ten days ago I posted some pictures of one of our yard’s California Alligator Lizard friends, who I dubbed “Big Black Fred.” I also closed that post with a teaser – “Something besides the sun had his attention.” And then my muse went on her merry way and I completely forgot about the tease or where it was headed.

Until today.

This guy was fairly large, about three inches long.

One of the odd things was that he didn’t spook or jump away or fly up into my face – which would have made me scream and cry and possibly wet myself despite my intellectual knowledge that he’s 100% harmless.

I was still a couple feet away, shooting with a 300mm telephoto lens, but still you would think at some point that he would feel that I was invading his personal, insectoid space. Nope. He never moved.

Even when I got down on my belly on the concrete and was looking at him head on, he never took off or twitched. I was starting to think that he might be dead.

But when I stood back up he moved a few inches, so I knew that he was alive. He just wasn’t moving.

It was after I got back to my feet that I noticed Big Black Fred over by the trash cans, maybe eight or nine feet away. And I noted in those pictures that Fred didn’t seem too spooked by me, allowing me to get much closer than usual for the skittish lizards in this yard.

It occurred to me only later that I might have gone and lay down on the concrete in the middle of a classic reptile/insect version of a Mexican standoff. Fred didn’t want to move because he didn’t want to spook the grasshopper while he was sneaking up on it. The grasshopper didn’t want to move for fear that the motion would catch the eye of Fred. At some point Fred was going to hit the gas straight into fifth gear (unlike the new Corvette C8, apparently – sorry, couldn’t pass up that little bit of snark!) and go after the grasshopper before he could jump away.

Who was going to be faster? Who was going to be the victor with eating dinner or being dinner on the line?


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Filed under Castle Willett, Critters, Photography

Why Bother?

I’m not a “car guy” – but I do enjoy driving a lot, and I enjoy going fast. (And yet somehow I managed to drive for over forty years before I got my first speeding ticket…) So it was with at least a touch of passing interest I noted that the new 2020 Corvette will be out in July. Reports say the C8 Corvette will have a mid-engine, 6.2 liter V-8 with something on the order of 500 horsepower.

It will go fast.

And yet…

There will be no option for a manual transmission??!!

This is an abomination.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again – that isn’t driving, it’s steering.

If you can’t drive a stick, you shouldn’t be allowed to drive a car with this much power.


Damn straight. And not sorry about it.

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Plus ça Change

While watching the horror of Notre-Dame burning in Paris, along with the sadness of losing both Gene Wolfe and Owen Garriott in the same day, and then hearing that the Falcon Heavy center booster was lost (after successfully landing on Of Course You Know I Love You but then breaking loose in heavy seas on the way back to Florida) I was especially saddened to see that the way we all treat disasters like this is the same way we all seem to treat everything these days – HORRIBLY.

The trolls.

The stupidity.

The racism.

The hatred.

It’s all there.

It’s an attempt at humor to say, “This is why we can’t have good things.” But maybe it’s true. Maybe for all of the wonderful things we can do as a species, such as spending hundreds of years to build places like Notre-Dame or landing first stage rockets on barges in the mid-Atlantic, maybe we’re just too ugly, too stupid, too immature to deserve such “nice things.”

I don’t want to believe that.

But there’s an awful lot of evidence out there today.

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Filed under Art, Deep Thoughts

Plan C

In addition to yesterday’s adventures (from which I am sore AS HELL today) where I was able to turn what might have been a frustrating change in plans into a useful and productive time, today also saw a change some changed plans and minor accomplishments.

In the big scheme of things none of it’s curing cancer or solving that whole world peace thing, but it’s surprising to me how much of a difference it makes in my mood and outlook.

I’ve spoken in the past about how the disruptions to life following a major event go far beyond the event itself. I compare them to earthquake aftershocks. We survived the 1994 Northridge earthquake relatively unscathed, but the aftershock sequences for months and months afterward drove me crazy. Enduring the earthquake while it was happening was relatively easy (and you had no warning and no options) – enduring the aftershocks was (literally) like going thorough it again and again and again.

Similarly, after having our car broken into and my briefcase stolen, the initial damage was repaired and the initial losses tallied (credit cards cancelled, new checking account opened and checks ordered, and so on), but for months afterward I would go looking for something that I expected to be easy to locate, only to realize then that it had been in that stolen briefcase. It was like being robbed all over again. And again. And again.

This weekend made me realize how much of my current state is due to last year’s move. (Pretty much look at the entire month of May 2018 to see how frantic, panicked, and exhausting it was.) Too much of that entire experience was dealt with on an emergency basis, in terms of doing just enough to get by and damn the cost and damn everything else. Then when we were out of the old house and into the new, the “emergency priorities” continued as we tried to unpack, reorganize, and find the dishes and clothes and all of the things we needed to function on a daily basis.

With my work situation and priorities being what they were all of last year (and continuing on into this year) as well as our travels as well as my work load and crises at my volunteer CAF gig as well as the family health issues, there are dozens of major “loose ends” that are just flapping in the breeze.

For example, I have a couple dozen sweatshirts. When we travel I tend to pick them up as functional souvenirs. All this last fall and winter since we moved they’ve been “somewhere.” I’ve gone looking through the piles of stuff in storage and in the garage – no joy. I think I have one in the house, one in the van, and one at the hangar. The other fifteen or twenty or more? Might have well be at the bottom of that black hole they took a picture of last week. (BTW, wasn’t that just bitchin‘?!!)

Yesterday I found them in storage. I also found my collection of Hawaiian shirts, which is good because it’s heating up.

Another example – I write checks about once a month, so it’s just earlier this week (for our income taxes) that I used up the last two checks in my checkbook. I went looking for the next book of checks a couple days ago. And I couldn’t find it to save my life. I know EXACTLY where it was in my desk in the old house, but everything got pulled out of the desk for the move and while I’ve found most things, the checks weren’t on the list. I’ve been tearing through boxes for days.

I finally gave in to Murphy’s Law tonight and ordered the next set of checks, which will be here in about ten days. Of course, within fifteen minutes of that, my subconscious (no doubt laughing its ass off) coughed up the location of the old checks.


Finally, we were just starting to get caught up on “Game of Thrones” last year when the move and its attendant priority shifts hit us. With the final season starting tonight, we wanted to get back into the effort of getting caught up – but didn’t have a clue where we had left off. This was more a case of detective work, going through the discs and some of the episode summaries online to narrow down what we remember seeing and what sounded alien. Once we figured it out and confirmed it, then it was time to kick back and binge. (FWIW, we’re in the fifth season, watched episodes 1-7 today. Cersi just got thrown in a cell by the Sparrows, and I’ve decided I probably hate Rams1y Bolton more than I hated Joffrey Baratheon, and that’s saying something.)


So, if we force our way through these roadblocks, recognize the broken pieces of our daily routines and fix them, get back to “normal,” will the aftershocks stop?


Or that’s when we’ll have to move again and the whole cycle will start over again.

Just like with earthquakes.

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Plan B

Lemons —> Lemonade

I had work to do at the CAF hangar as I normally do on Saturday, but we were having an event there which had the entire location packed to the gills. I probably could have gotten in since I work there, but I had a new printer (weighing in at 50 pounds) and would have had to park blocks and blocks away, then walk while carrying the printer plus my briefcase and other stuff.

I had a Plan B.

Our storage unit is just on the other side of the runway (this is not an accident) and I’ve still got plenty of work to do to clean up following our move eleven months ago. Way too much of the last few days (looking back at it I still can’t quite believe we actually pulled it off) was spent simply stuffing boxes into storage as fast as possible because there were no other options or alternatives. So sorting stuff into order is still a work in progress.

Five hours later I was quite exhausted – I don’t get enough exercise these days, which has got to change. But for today there was more sweating, lifting, hauling, and flat-out grunt work than I’ve had in several months. So I locked up and went over to the hangar to see how quickly I could get the bare minimum “accounting stuff” done. (About three and a half hours.)

The good news is that my watch is thrilled with me. For the first time since I got it, I closed all three rings. (If you don’t have an Apple Watch, just go with “It’s a good thing!”)

What I find hilarious is the red graph – four to five hours where the activity readings are pegged, followed by a rapid decent to the rest of the day sitting at a desk and plotzing, watching repeats of yesterday’s SpaceX launch, watching the new Star Wars IX trailer, and generally being sore and stiff and waiting for the sweet, sweet release of the grave.

Tomorrow’s another day. Kick ass – take names!

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Filed under CAF, Castle Willett, Health


Again. Only better.

Launch at the 19:56 mark, which is phenomenal.

But holy shit – check out the twin side boosters landing side by side at 27:29!!!

Then they landed the center booster first stage on the barge at 29:21 – the first time they’ve recovered all three boosters. (This is the second Falcon Heavy launch – on the first launch they ONLY recovered the two side boosters. ONLY!!)

And now I see that they recovered both fairing halves as well and they’ll be re-used.

If you aren’t just moved to tears of joy watching this, we probably can’t be friends.

But I found even better.

All of the professional video feeds and views live from space are truly amazing. But here’s why I want to see a launch live:

There are a bunch of things not going so well these days – thank god we have people like SpaceX doing the “impossible” things like this!

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He May Rotten, But He May Be Right


Anger is an energy.

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Filed under Music