Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Housewivescheating? Really?

My Tom Tom Club post from last year continues to draw the dumbest, most poorly worded, foriegn spam I've ever seen.  I got this yesterday:   (seriously, cut and pasted)

"The stereotype loses past the freed cabinet. The march resets the harsh paperback throughout the scientific confine. The fabric dances. A caffeine bombs Toms Toms & Furs into the cheer. Toms Toms & Furs explains a dawn in a shouted discovery. Toms Toms & Furs pays the chain."

I don't know if this is Chinese in origin for sure, but I suspect it is.  Mandarin Chinese has no future or past tense (as I've been told in my many Chinese travels) and you have to take the tense "in context", so since this is entirely in the present tense, I suspect it's a Chinese Spambot / Spam slave posting, where some poor bastard is making less than a dollar a day to combat CAPTCHAs to promote the website "cheatuingwives" dot tk, with a hyperlink labeled as "housewivescheating". 

Pope Brooks

David Brooks can get out of hand from time to time, on NPR, PBS, or the NYTimes.

P.C. Bingo

Too funny!

They Should Call It "the Belly"

Starbucks introduced the Trenta.  Nearly a liter.  In relative volume, it is larger than the average human stomach.  They should just call it "The Stomach" or "The Belly".  In the poorer neighborhoods in Western Phoenix, that are approximately 90% Hispanic in central and eastern Maryvale district, Dr Desert Flower has noticed cars lined up Around the Starbucks in the morning when she drives down McDowell if the I-10 has an accident on it.  The Chicas Love their over-priced and grossly over-sized iced coffees. 
When we first moved here 4 years ago, Dr Desert Flower ordered a Fat Free, No whip cream, Dolche Latte.  The Starbucks barrista LOOKED at her, as if she was INSANE, and had to search and search and search, until some non fat milk could be located.  He put whip cream on it reflexively, out of habit, and we just scooped it off and left it on a napkin.  I wonder why type II mellitus is at epidemic levels in the Hispanic and Native American communities in Arizona?

Equivalent Sugar Content

This eye opening graphic shows the equivalent sugar in the Western diet.  Yikes!  I used to ingest massive amounts of Mountain Dew.  No wonder I trended towards borderline type II diabetes 2 years ago. 

I do have a banana a day, for the pectin.   I wish there was a way to get pectin without the accompanying sugar, but so far I've not found pectin in pill form.

Since most people in the US don't like to read, this graphic display is very illustrative and direct.  Welcome to a food-scape populated by Federally subsidized sugar, high fructose corn syrup,. and labeling obfuscation.

My Money's On Raphael

Our son was Massively into TMNT (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles).  His older Uncle Chris liked the dark comic books of the early 80s that illustrated the pizza munching reptiles.  From the ages 2 to 6, our son got TMNT clothes, games, figures, toys every Christmas and Birthday.  I lost count of all the times I went to ToyRUs in Greenville to look for new action figures, the Christmas shopping seasons of 189 and 1990. 

Then, when video games were in their infancy in the early 90s, we got a Sega.  Sonic the Hedgehog was a rather benign and mom-friendly character, and there were a ton of sames back then, so we NEVER got into the Nintendo craze.  I did not enjoy Donkey Kong and its boring, blocky, choppy graphics.  We played Sega games in rich, graphically intense environments.  Then, when games migrated onto Pentium PCs, we played Doom, Duke Nuke'm, Redneck Rampage, Heretic (you could look UP and Down!), Quake, Doom II, Quake II, Mechwarrior II... so a Nintendo (original, Nintendo 64, or any other version) never was owned in my household.

So when I saw this image, it made me laugh.  An inept Italian plumber who originally fought a predictable gorilla in 2D,, versus a borderline psychotic, chronically depressed, massively sarcastic, incredibly violent mutant turtle martial artist armed with Psis.  What's Mario gonna do, jump on him?  Run away? Yep, my money is on Raphael.

6 Month Old Focus

Not mine, personally, as I've not been capable of making a 6 month old in almost 18 years now, but I found this chart quite funny.

Family Council Comparison

Healthy Pie

Origin Of Pacman Sound

American Jesus Christ

American Jesus Christ, with ninja-messiah throwing nails, death-killer-cross, pump action over-under shotgun.  "Son of God, King of the Jews". (Chuck Norris figure, with a black beard)

This made me laugh at first, until I then thought about all the white kids, in all the trailers and suburban homes where their so called "christian" parents live, playing with action figures like this... and all the so called "adults" who bought these action figures for their kids, with the thought that "it'll be fun and remind them of Jesus".


Science Funding: Which Makes More Sense?

+90% of Peer Reviewed scientists...  Yeah, it's a massive conspiracy by all those 'scientific elites' who rely on facts, and science, and long term data.  What do they know?

Internet Superheros

I found this quite amusing, and very accurate.  Google+ ... LOL!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Up Robbins Butte

On Saturday morning, after a hearty breakfast of organic eggs, onions, mushrooms and pancetta, Dr Desert Flower and I headed West to Robbins Butte Wildlife Area, to ascend the 600 foot high Robbins Butte.  I'd seen this butte (pronounced bU-teh... like "beauty" without the "y") last month when I went out hiking on my birthday and it looked like a little volcano, all by itself on the banks of the Gila River.  I wanted to see for myself what the morphology of the rocks were on this rather cone shaped geological feature - hoping to find a crater at the top.  No such crater was found, unfortunately.

We had to park a good mile and a 1/2 away from the butte.    There were two hunters, discharging their fire arms somewhat haphazardly, which concerned Dr Desert Flower, but I figured "we're in Arizona, almost everyone is packing" and we headed West away from the parking area, towards the maintenance buildings for the Arizona Fish & Game Department.  The straight dirt road was rather monotonous, but it was a lovely day, and I had a very lovely hiking partner, so it was a nice hike. 

The ascent was rather friable, and finding a solid footing was a challenge.  Dr Desert Flower found a nice piece of granite, and waited 20 minutes for me to ascend, and descend, saving her knees from injury.  On our way out of the wildlife conservation area we saw a boy road runner chasing a girl road runner across the road (no coyotes spotted) - the male road runner had a more colorful comb and red eye liner & rouge (go figure).  As I was driving, I could not snap a quick picture, but it was an interesting sight.
View at the top of Robbins Butte

Looking East from the top of the Butte, towards the maintenance & hunting area - hoping no one had a rifle with a scope.

San Tan Solitude

Sunday morning, after I dropped Dr Desert Flower off at the Sky Harbor Airport at 630am, I continued Eastward to San Tan Regional Park.  I always wanted to hike San Tan, but from my home it takes more than an hour to get there.  Being at the airport already, that shaved off almost 1/2 the trip, and it being just before sunrise, I hoped I could beat the crowds that seem to throng to the hiking trails around Phoenix on weekends.

I got to the Rock Peak Wash trailhead, the furthest South, and most remote part of the park, by 715am.  It was still 45F outside, so I took a polar fleece with me.  I was the Only car in the parking lot - yay!  A nominal $2 hiking fee, and I was off, hiking up the Rock Peak Wash trail, which should have been named 'Loose Sandy Beach Watch' since the sand was extremely loose and requiring trudging through it in the early dawn light.  0.8 miles later, I turned West on the San Tan trail, and then onto the Malipais trail with Rock Peak and the Southern San Tans rising SHARPLY to the South.  My initial plan was to head West along the Malpais trail, and look for a place to ascend into the mountains, and circle back to the east along the summit line.  LOL!   The photo below, showing the 100+ foot vertical rises made such a route, impossible. 
That dark shadow line horizontally along the center of the photo is the +100ft rise along the ridge.
A Friend of mine who decided to leave the trail and head up what appeared to be a gradual sloping "saddle" in the ridge line, told me how he found the ascent quite treacherous.  You see, that sudden Rise is a shear face friable low density sandstone.  My friend told me how when he went to grip parts of the wall to avoid sliding down the slope, head and thigh sized chunks of sandstone easily broke off in his hands, as he lost his footing repeatedly.  I of course, never left the assigned trail, and waited on the Malpais trail patently, for 2 hours, following park rules to not leave the trail while waited for my friend to come back to the trail and back to his senses.
Photo my Friend took from the ridge line at the top of the southern saddle.  He said that same vertical ridge formed a U shaped saddle on the South side of the Mountain range, out of sight from the Malpais trail.
There was all sorts of lovely wild flowers that were beginning to bloom along the trail, that my Friend took pictures of on his way up and down the ridge.  Yellows, purples, blues, when the desert wild flowers come into full bloom later this Spring, the southern San Tan valley will be lovely.

Once my Friend was back on the trail, and back to his senses, the rest of the Malpais trail was explored, followed by the San tan, Moonlight, Stargazer, San tan (again), Hedgehog, San Tan, and back to Rock Peak Wash.  Altogether, it was 11.4 miles over 5 hours (plus the 2 hours of ascent & descent stupidity / adventure where I waited for my Friend).  2 large Kelty bottles, 1 large Nalgene bottle, and a 1.5 liter Camelback were consumed, along with about 10 handfuls of Marcona almonds.  It was wonderfully invigorating, and a great hike - but I can't recommend the sandy washes that were not enjoyable to trudge through.  Once I got home, I soaked my feet in the 55F degree swimming pool for the time it took to drink a long cool white russian.  I'd crossed paths with 3 riders on horses,. one runner passed me up, one couple pushing an all-terrain baby stroller, and a family of three (older dad, later teen son in black, and much younger wife #2) crossed paths with me on one of the San tan legs.  Other than that, it was a great hike to commune with nature, see some soaring hawks, and get some hiking in before the Sonoran sun becomes brutal in a few months.

I did not visit the northern part of San tan Mountain Park, where the Goldmine Trailhead starts and the mountains are more gradually sloped, and probably more easily scaled, but I'll leave that to another day for my Friend to try.

The Military Loves Ron Paul

Though the US Military (enlisted and officers) are grossly underpaid for what they do, it is interesting to see where they are putting their money this election season.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Drop-Out Future

Only if you're Dave Grohl.  Otherwise, finish HS, go to college if you can afford it, and study something that will help you be a contributing member of society. 

Moon Landings Were Faked!

Yes, there's no shortage of Americans who think the Apollo moon landings were faked.  They also think that the commercial airlines are dumping aluminum oxide into the atmosphere as they cross over the US, that both crack was imported and Al Qaeda was created by the CIA, as well as believing that Fluoride in drinking water leads to government mind control.  These people are gullible and easily manipulated (idiots).  Back in 2009, I less than eloquently railed against them in a brief post (link here).  Well, Science Friday talked to a planetary geologist today who has been looking at the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter data, that has some amazing pixel resolution.  They've taken images of all the Apollo landing sites (as wel as surveying about 1/2 the moon, in extreme detail), from an altitude of about 25 kilometers.  Really, really, clear images.  (links here, here, here, and here). 
Faking foot prints, go cart trails, a discarded go cart, the lunar landers,  and their shadows, visible by orbiting cameras, being looked at by scientists who are trying to understand erosion, geologic science, and landscape morphology on and under the lunar surface.  Yeah, you can never believe scientists.

Oh, and they found vast fields of Titanium rich basalts, so Newt Gingrich can have some raw materials to build his moon colony out of as well (link here).

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Van Halen Vocab

Ohhh Yeahhhh!!!   Uh Huh!!!!!

1GB Over 20 years

My first Micron Pentium 90 MHz, that I "over clocked" to be a 100 MHz, had a GIANT 500 Megabyte hard drive, and 4 whole meg of RAM, 2 meg of VRAM (so that I could play Duke Nukem, through a 28.8 KBps USRobitics Modem on dial up). 

5 years from now, memory will be 32 times smaller / more dense... and the iPad2 Dr Desert Flower bought last year will look like a relic of the ancient past.

Dragonfly Condensation

Dragonfly Condensation - it's not something I think could ever be seen in the Sonoran desert, with our consistently low relative humidity and dew point.  Not on dragon flies, or any other insect, morning, evening, or even during a rain storm.  Lovely image though.

Hummer, Now Everyone Will Know

This is too funny, and so very accurate!  tip of the hat to Tom the Dancing Bug.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fez Diagram

Walking Dead Returns

The Walking Dead returned to AMC earlier this month, and I've got mixed feelings about it.  I was frustrated about the whole inane plot of "find the little girl" last season, but they concluded it nicely.  The new season started off slowly, but the first episode ended spectacularly.  I hoped the writing, plot, and zombies would keep up, and involve more anarchic marauders... but that didn't happen, and several frustratingly poor decisions were written into the show, greatly diminishing my enthusiasm.  It's hard to care about stupid characters who make poor decisions, whether they are stressed out or not - I don't care.  I prefer more ruthless adaptation to over-come new obstacles. And when did digging multiple graves with hand tools NOT require those who dig to wear gloves?  Who digs graves bare handed, in the Georgia heat?

One especially bright spot though, is Andrew Lincoln's acting.  When Sheriff Grimes hears from his wife what she suspects his former partner did last Season and what she believes he's capable of doing next, Andrew Lincoln gives her a look that the camera captured, a look that a bad actor can't fake.  It was a visceral, raw, "I'm going to have to kill my friend now" look on Lincoln's face.  While Lincoln's character is written to make some really stupid decisions, his acting redeems the show somewhat. 

I am going to try to suspend disbelief in the multiple, glaring, logic & plot inconsistencies this season of TWD, and hopefully, it'll improve, and not suffer the same tangent into 'really dumb decision land' that Breaking Bad took after it's 2nd second season.

Republican Deregulations

I forgot the "deregulation" mantra, that will be repeatedly chanted tonight in Mesa.

Oh Gay Canada

There's a Republican Debate (the 200th, of this primary season) in the Republican bastion of Mesa Arizona this evening.  I won't be attending, but I am sure the remaining four candidates will rant about
- immigration (Obama's administration has deported more illegal immigrants than Bush's did, but...),
- a strong military (Bush dismantled the "Hunt for Bin Laden" CIA office, Obama personally approved the Navy Seal mission that successfully killed Bin Laden in May of 2011.  Ron Paul won't, but the other three definitely will)
- Obama is coming to get yer guns! (which is a false belief, without a single shred of evidence to support it,  fanned by the paramilitary & lobbying organization known as the NRA)
- lower taxes (so that we can be like Greece, or Italy, where most people pay little or no taxes)
- and "traditional marriage" (out of their own ignorance, fear, and repressed homosexual desires)
And it is "traditional marriage" that is the most ridiculous and personal anachronism of the Republican platform, but since old Republicans vote in much larger numbers than younger Republicans, and multiple cross societal surveys have shown that people under 40 don't really care one way or the other about Gay Marriage, whereas people over 40 are disproportionately against it as an 'abomination against God's[TM] law' (yeah, so is eating pork, and working on a Saturday... but...)
...I found this Canadian statement quite illuminating.  Hopefully, it can predict a wider North American future, and not just how things go in the Great White North.

Drink Water & Tea, All Day

I used to be a Diet Coke fiend, drinking 6 to 8 cans a day, leaching the calcium out of my bones, eating away the enamel at my teeth, and requiring a constant supply of expensive Nexium to counter-act the massive doses of acidity the Diet Coke & Coke Zero provided.  It also used to make me insanely hungry, driving the next can to be addicitively opened, sequentially, 2 or 3 dozen a week.

In 2008, I switched over to tea, and drink caffeinated teas throughout the working day, refilling at least once an hour, sometimes twice an hour, depending on how much sleep I had and what quality slumber it was the night before.  I also keep a 12 ounce glass of reverse osmosis water, next to the tea cup, to "refill" when I'm stuck on multi-hour phone calls.  All of this ingested liquid keeps the renal system working really well AND it helps to AVOID kidney stones,  especially being in very low humidity Arizona, where dehydration can easily become an issue.

So when I saw this chart the other day on the interwebs, I thought to myself "how useful!" gives a quick, easily readable, graduated scale of color intensity that can help early identification of renal issues.  And, I used to be a boy scout too - my dad was the Scout Master, and my older brother was already in the troop, so I sort of 'had to', but after I got my "Scout First Class" badge (my brother stopped at "Second Class") and my dad stepped down to "assistant", and High School began, I hung up my olive green scout shirt, and shelved my scout hand book. 

Beyond Awesome Chocolate

I've not yet made it beyond "Awesome".  For Valentines, after seeing The Grey Dr Desert Flower and I got a box of Godiva Truffles.   They are indeed, Awesome. I actively avoid the lowest four tiers, as they have paltry amounts of real chocolate in them, and none of it is "fair trade", and I actively seek out the "Good" tier.  I've not yet enjoyed DeLafée, NōKA, Pierre Marcolini, or Knipschildt yet, but one can always dream. (on ne peut qu'espérer)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Is It Dystopia?

As I have a few extended family members who love to agonize about one crisis / catastrophe or another, I found this chart quite relevant and hilarious.  Is it Dystopia?

Dumb Things Kids Do

Maybe you're wondering why there's a picture of a fan guard on the edge of a bath tub in this post?  Well, last weekend, I noticed the dark brown stains splattered over one side of the fan.  they originated about 12 years ago when our son and his buddy experimented with either Go-gurt (a yogurt-like product that used to come in tubes, and was voraciously consumed by adolscent boys) or chocolate pudding, where the boys wanted to "see what would happen" if it went through the fan, in the bonus room over our garage back in South Carolina, where it splattered against the wall.. 

I never got around to cleaning the fan back then, and it baked in the South Carolina sunshine that streamed through the bonus room's sky light, and then cured in the furnace heat of four Arizona summers, being stored in our garage.  I hauled out the fan last weekend from the garage, to accelerate the drying of some "no heated drying" clothes that we hang in the bath room and let the 9% relative humidity air in Arizona dry off the wet clothes through evaporation and convection.  Last weekend I noticed the 6 small screws that held on the guard, and decided it would be worth a try to clean it.

I poured a warm bath (actually ALL hot water) and as the tub filled, I easily removed the guard.  Once the tub was 1/2 full, the guard fit into the water, submerged.  I figured that since the stained guard was some kind of fat / protein / lipid / carbohydrate / synthetic goop combination, that heating it to human gut temperature might help to denature whatever the sticky substance was.  I left the bath room for 2 or 3 minutes, and upon my return, found all of the stains completely dissolved in the warm bath water.   I lifted out the guard to dry on the sill of the tub, and you see a photo of it here, a few minutes later.

As I disassembled the fan guard, I thought of all the many, many, many stupid things I and my friends did as boys, that nearly prevented us from living long enough to become young men - many of the things were much more stupid and dangerous than squirting / flinging go-gurt into a fan.  Most of them, our parents never learned about, and remained blissfully unaware. 

I cannot speak for stupid things that daughters might do, as I have no sisters nor daughters, and growing up I was not close in age or geographic distance to either of my female cousins - a family of 7 male cousins and just 2 female cousins.  I am sure that daughters do some things that drive their parents nuts, but daughters don't typically do extremely dangerous, highly destructive, property damaging, "this'll go down on your permanent record" type of idiocy in which boys readily engage.  The collective IQ of a bunch of smart Jr High or High School boys drops, to about 2X the square root of their combined IQs [for example: take (120 X 4) + (110 X 2) + (140 X 2) = 980.  Then take the square root of 980, and multiple by 2... and THAT's the collective IQ of a bunch of supposedly 'smart' boys.]  Considering this theorem, it's good that splattered go-gurt was as bad as things got that year for our son.  Of course, 2 years later, he went way beyond splattered go-gurt in seeing how far he could push boundaries, driving without our knowing it.... but that's what boys do.

If you find a fan guard covered in experimental food that was pushed into it, or squirted into it by your progeny, try soaking the guard in a warm bath.  Maybe you'll have success equivalent to my experience with this fan.

Scott Benson on Reading

I agree with Scott.

Monday, February 20, 2012

BrisAndes Casablanca Valley

Dr Desert Flower and I have had alot of cheese and hummus weekend afternoons, chicken dinners, and lighter fare that pairs better with white wine than it does with red wine.  And since we do not love grassy chardonnays, or grape-fruity Sauvignon Blancs (as many New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs often are), finding delicious and inexpensive white wines can be a challenge. 
BrisAndes from Barons de Rothschild Lafite, made in Chile's Casablanca Valley.   We did not detect "pineapple and lime" as the label said, but there were some citrus notes, and a nice sharp acidity.  It didn't stab us in the mouth, but it was enjoyable to drink.  And from Trader Joes, it was all of $6.  I've had some "eh, so so" wines from Rothschild before, but I suspended my skepticism and was pleasantly surprised. 

Underwater Mortgage

Compared to what we paid for it, this accurately describes how underwater Dr Desert Flower and I are on our home.  The lavender outside is nice to look at and smell at least.  =)  [yes, I am using my blog as therapy today].

Dolia Monica Di Sardegna

Back in December, in a total Wine run I made into Goodyear, I found a nice red wine from Sardinia.  I always like to explore lesser known wines, finding inexpensive gems that are worth writing about.  Cantine de Dolianova makes a delicious Dolia Monica di Sardegna D.O.C. 2010.  It is imported by Saranty Imports, White Plains New York.  The Dolia Monica di Sardegna had a nice mineral finish, as Sardinia wines often do, but it was not over-whelming.  Southern Italian wines are often under-rated and pleasant surprises, and this dry red from Dolianova did not disappoint.

Iris Close Up

Please prove you're not a robot

Google Blogger has changed their comment posting slightly, to make the CAPTCHA words harder to read.  When I try to comment on friends' blogs, it takes me 4 or 5 tries to get it right.  Slightly annoying, but what I find more remarkable, is that the spam comments into my own blog here at JustJoeP have skyrocketed recently.  This spam is driven by persons who do not speak English as their native language, and they all follow the same format:
'FakeFirst Name, Initial, NotQuiteRealLastName
Nice post! Keep up the good work!' followed by a link to some push ad.  It's pretty silly, futile, and annoying.
- for example -
Catherine L.Fulcher has left a new comment on your post "Frozen Stop Sign":
Helpful information. Fortunate me I found your web site unintentionally, and I'm shocked why this coincidence didn't took place earlier! I bookmarked it.
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Andre N.Polanco has left a new comment on your post "Better Know A Country, Kyrgyzstan":
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Unknown has left a new comment on your post "Finger Pointing Arizona Blonds":
I would like to thank you for the efforts you've put in writing this blog. I'm hoping the same high-grade blog post from you in the upcoming also. Actually your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my own blog now. Really the blogging is spreading its wings quickly. Your write up is a good example of it.
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Carolyn J.Bouknight has left a new comment on your post "Google Earth Captured Yoga":
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sujai has left a new comment on your post "When Trimming Lavender...":
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For More Details visit http://sujayispathetic,really really

So while I am having to type in the CAPTCHA words 3 or 4 times to figure them out, some Really D. Fool spammer somewhere else in the world is cutting and pasting their ads into my blog, which I think "Mark as Spam" and delete.  This last week, has seen a surge in this inane activity. 

[each one of these had embedded links that I've modified, to avoid re-broadcasting or aiding search engine content]

When I got my county tax assessment in the mail this afternoon, and I see that my Phoenix property lost ANOTHER 11% in the last year, I started to get depressed... but then I thought, at least I will pay lower taxes, and I am not employed in a third world country as a inefficient and poorly executed spammer who is wasting his and his employer's time.  So I guess things could be worse. 

If you are a spammer, and you are considering targeting my blog with your ads, there's a few criteria you'll need to meet to be allowed to post:
1) your comment must be germane to the blog post.  It doesn't take that much effort, if you speak English.
2) your embedded link needs to not be a re-direct of a redirect.  Just include the link, and I'll assess if it is safe to post or not.
3) have a real name, not False.MI.FakeLastName
4) email me at my JustJoePblog  gmail address, and tell me what an awesome / or pathetic life you lead, and where you lead it, so I can understand your "plight" or perspective. 

I know No One will be reading this, or adhering to it, but I got a kick out of writing it.

National Engineers Week

It's National Engineers Week.  Have you hugged your engineer today?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Geococcyx Californianus Hunting Along the Wall

My friendly neighborhood Road Runner (Geococcyx californianus) showed up this afternoon on the northern border wall of my back yard while I was doing yoga, poolside.  I remained VERY still, and watched as she ran along the top of the wall to the north west corner.  A male vireo who was in a neighbor's tree, singing loudly that my back yard and pool were his territory, got the road runner's attention.  She was roughly 100X his size, as the large, sleek, Lamborghini-esque raptor chicken peering up at him, the walnut sized warbler about 10 feet above her changed his song to that of "danger! danger! danger!" and flew to a perch another 5 feet higher and deeper into the leave-less mulberry tree, to put some distance between them.

But she was still hungry, so she turned South,and ran along the top of the wall, cross 1/3 of the length of my back yard in a blink of an eye... then she spotted a striped whip tail lizard, and began to stalk it.  There's a plethora of lizards in my back yard, and she's just wandered into a lizard smorgasbord.  I froze in my yoga pose, mesmerized.  She POUNCED, and crested one of the "posts", Grabbed a 4 or 5 inch long lizard whose body was the size of one of my fingers, and Gulped it down, 2 feet above the large aloe patch beside my pool.

This impromptu meal aggravated the male black chinned hummingbird who has claimed all of my aloe as his personal nectar cafe.  10 or so feet above the Road Runner, the hummingbird chirped, clicked, hovered, and whirled.  At about 150X the humming bird's size, the Road Runner paid him no attention whatsoever, and stalked down towards the South West corner behind the lemon tree.  Looked all around, and then headed West down the neighbor's wall, in the same route that she took on Tuesday.

It was truly amazing to see this efficient, beautiful, streamlined, evolved avian predator patrolling in my own back yard, eating a lizard that's been eating the beetles and crickets from my back yard. When the hawk took the squirrel from the bird feeder in South Carolina, it was in a FLASH, a flurry of red wings and a wriggling furry tail being taken off into the sky through the trees, with no time to appreciate it or have it sink in.  The Road Runner encounter today, by contrast, seemed to be almost in slow motion, less than 15 feet away at one point, a full 180 degree panoramic view.  I am going to take my camera out with me from now on each time I do yoga in the afternoon (90% of the 2012 afternoons so far, I've spent an hour poolside, increasing flexibility, lowering blood pressure, and increasing muscle tone) in case she comes by again to hunt more lizards. 

Fuel, the #1 US EXPORT

Today, President Obama is at a Boeing plant, talking about jobs.  Aircraft used to be the largest US Export, back in 2008 and 2009, but not anymore.  Now, America's biggest export, is fuel.  Yep, The USA, who has 5% of the world's population, but who consumes 20% of the world's natural resources, is exporting more fuel - at record prices I might add - to the rest of the world than any other export, according to US Census data. (read about it here in the Boston Globe, here in the Pittsburgh Gazette, or here in USA Today). 

Why do we need the Keystone XL pipeline? For Exxon Mobile, Chevron and ConocoPhillips to make larger profits of course!  As Americans, we need to 'drill baby drill!' and get all that nasty, hard to extract Canadian oil sand contaminated crude pumped down to Texas, before our Canadian friends try to build a pipeline over the Rockies (and through Indian lands!) to sell it to China!

The US market is not so thirsty anymore, with all those pesky wind mills popping up, and all those efficient hybrid cars, and the rise in CAFE standards, as well as most Americans sinking lower in the 99% with less buying power to purchase ever more expensive gasoline & plane tickets.  It's in the USA's national interests to have XOM, CVX, and COP to rise as much as possible, and build share holder wealth.  Don't listen to all the malarkey about "Energy Independence" - yes, the US is still a net importer of crude oil, but we're refining more than we need and exporting it.  Exporting it to other countries who pay heavily for it, raising the share prices of the largest US refiners.  Who is making all this refined fuel?  Well, I'll show the top 25 here... so everyone can see my point.
RANK     CORPORATION                 Barrels per Calendar Day
1     EXXON MOBIL CORP     Texas     BAYTOWN         560,640    
2     EXXON MOBIL CORP     EBATON ROUGE             502,000    
3     HOVENSA LLC         KINGSHILL             500,000    
4     MARATHON OIL CORP     Louisiana     GARYVILLE     464,000    
5     CITGO PETROLEUM CORP     Louisiana     LAKE CHARLES     427,800    
6     BP PLC             Texas     TEXAS CITY         406,570    
7     BP PLC             Indiana     WHITING     405,000    
8     WRB REFINING LLC     Illinois     WOOD RIVER     362,000    
9     EXXON MOBIL CORP     Texas     BEAUMONT         344,500    
10     SUNOCO INC         Pennsylvania     PHILADELPHIA     335,000    
11     CHEVRON CORP         Mississippi     PASCAGOULA     330,000    
12     DEER PARK REFINING LTD     Texas     DEER PARK         327,000    
13     VALERO ENERGY CORP     Texas     PORT ARTHUR         292,000    
14     KOCH INDUSTRIES INC     Texas     CORPUS CHRISTI         290,078    
15     MOTIVA ENTERPRISES LLC     Texas     PORT ARTHUR         285,000    
16     ACCESS INDUSTRIES     Texas     HOUSTON         280,390    
17     CHEVRON CORP         California     EL SEGUNDO     273,000    
18     KOCH INDUSTRIES INC     Minnesota     SAINT PAUL     262,000    
19     BP PLC     BP West Coast     California     LOS ANGELES     253,000    
20     CONOCOPHILLIPS         Louisiana     BELLE CHASSE     247,000    
21     CONOCOPHILLIPS         Texas     SWEENY             247,000    
22     CHEVRON CORP         California     RICHMOND     245,271    
23     CONOCOPHILLIPS         Louisiana     WESTLAKE     239,400    
24     EXXON MOBIL CORP     Illinois     JOLIET         238,600    
25     CONOCOPHILLIPS         New Jersey     LINDEN         238,000

Romney Gekko 2012

Greed is good!  And "This money tastes delicious!" Investment Capital Firms...  we make money whether your company grows, or if we shut it down, sell it off, and ship the machinery off to China and Brazil!  Either way, we walk away with the remnants of what used to be your former company's pension fund, your dignity, and the hope you might have had to build a better life for your children.

Too bad your daddy wasn't the head of American Motors, who paid for you to go to Harvard and get both an MBA and a law degree like Mitt did.  Born into such wealth, you might be as rich as Mitt is too!

Buttery Primitivo Di Manduria from Epicuro

Epicuro makes good quality, drinkable, affordable wines in Italy.  Trader Joes carries many of their wines, and recently, Trader Joes began selling a Primitivo De Manduria, Denomazione di Origine Controllata (2008).  I purchased a bottle for $6 last month, and put it in the wine rack.  Tuesday, I opened it with some meat dish I made - I can't remember exactly what it was, but Thursday I grilled up some pollo asada and the Primitivo di Manduria paired wonderfully with it.  While the Primitivo started off with plum and subtle black berry notes that did not over-whelm on Tuesday, by Thursday it had transformed into a smooth, buttery (not caramely, but a buttery feeling on the tongue) delicious 2 glasses. 

I highly recommend it. 

Spin̈al Tap - Hell Hole

Spial Tap's Hell Hole kept running through my head this morning, after I heard Dr Desert Flower's blaringly loud alarm go off across the house from my office.  Appropriate morning music before heading to work.

When Trimming Lavender...

When trimming lavender around your pool, make sure you:
- trim them early in the morning, before the honey bees wake up.  Trimming them in the late morning or afternoon will really anger the bees who are harvesting pollen from them by the dozens, and those girls' stings are painful and fatal to the bees too.

- use really sharp shears.  Dull shears will not make clean cuts and damage the plants.

- retaining an old, long, cardboard box (from a LCD HD TV box, for example) makes a handy way to easily collect the trimmings

- trim an inch or two more beyond the edge of the pool deck, so that you don't need to trim again for a few more weeks.

- don't bother trying to retain & display in a vase all the blossom trimmings, as they will wilt within just a few hours.  The hydrostatic pressure the plant produces keeps the blossoms nearly vertical.  Lop off the plant, and there's no easy way to retain that pressure.

This weekend will be a massive planting effort for the Valentines Day French Lavender.  Hopefully, it will all go well (digging of holes in Arizona top soil the consistency of concrete, using a contractor grade pick, uprooting a severely frost damaged bougainvillea, engineering adequate drip irrigation and elevation sloping in an effort to not drown the plants, and then re-surrounding the new plantings with ubiquitous Arizona yard gravel, all without getting stung, punctured, or pulling any back muscles).