Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Surfin Christmas

6 to 10 foot waves for Christmas week...  at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas where there are changing and shower facilities.

4 star waves on Wednesday, at the beach closest, chez nous.

I think I know where I will be tomorrow.  Concept in Encinitas will rent boards and wet suits.

Monday, December 14, 2015

If you have cats...

Don't get these:
Unless you're trying to give them a heart attack.

Chez Nous, N San Diego Co

If those electronic deer could eat the grass upon which they are standing, they'd eat it all Winter as there's < 0.01% chance we'd ever get any snow here.  And if we did get snow, it'd be melted within an hour or two of sunrise.

Our home is The Least decorated on the adjacent street, where several of the neighbors have gone "the Full Griswold".  We may add some electronic peacocks and a "under the pam tree laser" next year... we'll see.

Merry Christmas, Happy Saturnalia, Happy Hanukah, Joyful Winter Solstice.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

10am, 11Dec2015

10am on the 11th of December, 2015...  I will remember this day and time.

I had taken the day off, to run some errands, get several things done, and get my beard trimmed that I'd been growing since I visited Nathan Jr in Charleston, South Carolina  back in mid September and realized I was (more than once during my visit there) the only adult male human without a beard in the room / in the building / in-sight.  It had been more than 20 years since my last terrible attempt to grow a beard... one that came out with brown mutton chops, a reddish goatee, and a white blond mustache... none of the three connecting, and definitely not complimenting the pony tail that went down to between my shoulder blades.  The 90s facial hair I tried to cultivate looked akin to  US Civil War Major General Alphas Williams   (link here) sort of... but without the length or fullness.

The new version in 2015, looks more like Ulysses S Grant's beard when he was elected.  I'd been trying to coif  it with the various trimmers I have, but all I succeeded in doing was to snag it, make it asymmetric, or or leave whiskers all over the tall sink and vanity in the bath room.  Mirrored-hand-eye coordination, like Javier Bardem's character Anton Chigurh had in No Country For Old Men, when he removed the shot gun pellets and shrapnel from his leg and behind in Mexico, I Do Not have.

So after I picked up some things at the CVS and Sprouts in Carlsbad, I simply pressed my iPhone 5s, and said "Barber".  Siri found 5 barbers within 5 miles of me.  I went to the one that was not SuperCuts, driving 3 miles down to Encinitas.  It was a barber shop, with 3 seats where customers could have their hair cut.  No non-sense, straight forward, barber shop.  I walked in...  there were two open chairs, one cut in-progress, and was offered the middle chair, which I accepted.  Told the barber what I wanted...  "shorter, but not buzz cut, leave some length on the top and front, remove all curls you find, and when the hair is done, ah... I see... you Do trim beards... good, I would like the side burns tapered to the beard, and then short and not bushy like it is right now."  "Number 2 guard?" the barber asked me.  "Sure, just make sure the sideburns and beard and mustache all 'connect', so not too short".  "No problem".

The cut progressed nicely... nearly all completely-white hair fell down on the black draped cape covering me that the barber had fixed around my neck.  Snipping, trimming, more careful snipping.  20 minute later, at 10am, I was done, and stood up to pay the nice barber.  Then the question came that was so unexpected, that I asked the barber to repeat it.  "Are you a senior? You want the senior discount?"

No, no thank you...  I'm not a senior yet.  Men's hair cuts were $16; beard trims $12 but only $6 with a hair cut.  A "Senior hair cut" was $12.  I looked around at the other two customers getting cut and the two men waiting to be cut... they were indeed, all eligible AARP members, or perhaps even all old enough to be getting medicare, 10 to 20 years older than I, at least. I gave the nice barber a Jackson and Hamilton, and wished the shop a Merry Christmas (they had a small Christmas tree in the corner, and were playing "The View" on an over-head television, that had some kind of Christmasy theme on the show that day.  I paid little attention to it, as I did my best "Ben Carson" closing my eyes and taking a micro-nap which getting my hair cut and beard trimmed.

I don't know at what age most people are asked if they want a Senior Discount, but for me, I'm not yet 50 and it's already begun.  Sigh.  10am on the 11th of December, 2015

Winter IS Coming, but...

I checked the mail today... and there was a large US Postal package addressed to me, from a Brooklyn NY T-shirt shop.  No other return address nor note as to "from whom" or for what purpose...  Within the package was this XL white cotton sweat shirt:

It is humorous...  and it coincidentally goes along with he next post I was planning on doing, based upon a unique event that happened to my yesterday... but... I have no idea who sent this.  If it is someone who reads my blog...  thank you for the unexpected gift.  = )

Nominally, Winter will be here the week after next, in December 22nd.  In reality, North San Diego County doesn't really get "Winter" ... sure it might drop down into the low 50s or upper 40s some nights, and the days might not get up above 60 or 65F... but it's not really "Winter".  No dire wolves... but lots of Coyotes.  = )

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Lackluster Alaska Air

In the last month, I've had the misfortune to fly Alaska Air four times.  I say "misfortune" because I had previously held Alaska Air in rather high esteem when they were a partner with Northwest Airlines, and I was a NW Airlines Platinum member.  "Membership has its priviledges"... indeed.  Lemme 'splain.

The day after Halloween, I had to go to Hong Kong for a business trip.  I booked the trip with Alaska Air on the US domestic legs, continuing onto their PARTNER Delta Airlines for the international legs.  It was supposed to be all one big ticket, and supposed to be San Diego to Seattle, and then Seattle to Hong Kong DIRECT, Non-stop, so I could sleep on the flight and arrive Well Rested to talk to the customers I needed to talk to the day after I landed, 14 time zones away. The multi-national corporation no longer allows business class travel anywhere, so this was going to be 15 hours in a coach seat, hoping to not get deep vein thrombosis from the cramped inactivity of being a human sardine / steerage / valued-slightly-less-than-cheap-cargo-under-the-plane.  I booked the ticket..  and then... my corporate travel agent Split the Alaskan ticket and the Delta, then Delta cancelled the direct flight, routing me through Tokyo Narita.  Well, for an airline with useful IT support and adaptive ticketing, this should not have been a problem.  Unfortunately, Alaska Airlines has terrible IT support - very nice & friendly staff who interface with customers in the airports and on the phone, but abysmal computer infrastructure and inter-connectivity.

When I attempted, on Halloween morning, to check-in online, all I kept getting was an error message online "There has been an error, please contact customer service".  4 times I entered my information, four times I was foiled.  I called a customer service person... they manually checked me in, and then told me "we cannot check you into the Delta flights, our system doesn't talk to theirs. You'll need to check in at the airport with them when you get to Seattle."  WTF??? (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday...)  My $2000 flight over 15,000 miles of this planet, is checked in only from San Diego to Seattle? Seriously?  Great.

So I take off out of San Diego Lindberg field 45 minutes late, land in Seattle with barely enough time to SPRINT from the N to the S gates (along with a snail's pace tram ride, since both the N and S gates are not connected to the rest of the airport, and the underground tram is the Only way to get there = lame), wolf down a Wendy's Baconator without bread or cheese, arrive at the Delta gate to Tokyo, with no boarding pass (since Alaska Air's system doesn't talk to Delta's) and I am told by the gate agent that "I'm sorry, you not checked in"  Exasperated, I told her I was checked in, I'd spent two hours checking in the day before, I'd talked to both Delta and Alaska Air on the phone, and I do have a seat back in row 18.  Another passenger from San Diego who was also going to Hong Kong, had the same conversation with the next agent over at the gate desk... so it wasn't just me.  They printed up my Seattle to Tokyo and Tokyo to Hong Kong passes, and I was literally the 2nd to last person on the Airbus 330 (the other SD passenger was the last), squeezing my luggage into the already over-burdened over-head racks, and sitting down hot & sweaty & itchy in my coach seat.  Awesome.

8 hours later, when I get to Tokyo, and I get security scanned like all the passengers, since Seattle security screening is obviously incompetent and inferior to the Tokyo security screeners - and I am finally queued up to get into the next plane to go to Hong Kong...  Again, my boarding pass is invalid, and I am told that I need to step aside and let the other passengers board.  Incredible, and ridiculous.  Because Alaska's system could not communicate with Delta's system, I am being stopped at every boarding and being told I am not checked in.  Grrrrrrrrrrrr....

On the way back, the same thing happened... every time I tried to board, I was told that my boarding pass was invalid.  Maddening.  My frequent flyer miles didn't post, and I had to waste 30 minutes on the phone with Delta to get them to post when I got home.

Trying to be the eternal optimist, I booked a last minute flight to Portland and back through Seattle via Alaska Air because they had direct flights, it was last minute for a business emergency, and I didn't want to have connections on the busiest travel day of the year, minimizing my chances of being stranded at some connection city too far to drive back to California.  I thought to myself "Alaska used to be very good...  top awards...  excellent safety record... they'll do better the 2nd time."  Plus the fact that they were not part of a 2 airline trip, so at least one variable was being eliminated with the "our system doesn't talk to theirs" excuse.

This Pre-Thanksgiving trip BEGAN very nicely... I was TSA pre-check, bumped up to First Class (because I am now Gold on Delta), got a big comfy seat, used glass glassware, steel knives and forks, and was offered copious amounts of cognac, which I had to refuse after the first one since I needed to drive once I got to Portland.  Getting to Portland was not a problem.  4 days later, when I attempted to fly home, was when the Alaska Airlines fun began.

You see, my incompetent corporate travel agent cancelled my ticket, and re-booked it, for a fare that was $120 cheaper.   This COMPLETELY discombobulated Alaska Airlines.  I was not allowed to check in (again) on my phone the night before.  I DID have a seat... but could not get a boarding pass.    The fourth day of my emergency trip ended 5 hours earlier than expected, so I headed to the airport hoping to get not he 3:50pm flight instead of the 6:50 flight (I got to the airport at 12:30, far in advance).  The Alaska Air desk agent before security worked for a full 20 minutes to get a boarding pass to print for me.  In her words "4000 key strokes later, it worked!"  Pathetic programming.  Completely non-robust.  Any change upsets the fragile software architecture and crashes on the traveller.  Sickening.

The ever-friendly gate agent tells me "we don't wait list passengers.  The 3:50 flight is showing full, but you CAN go to the departure gate and ask the agent there if anyone has not checked in."  Okey-dokey.  I can do that.. I have 3 hours to spare!   I go to the gate...   and the very polite agent there tells me "we are solidly checked in, but you can check again 30 minutes prior to the door closing."  OK...  I hover around... charge my phone... text my friends...  and then I notice the off-duty Alaska Air pilots wearing their hats and leather jackets, but not flying the plane... OHHHHHH!!!  They're the ones who get the last unclaimed seats...  3 of them!  Me, the paying passenger, I am no-body.  Personae non gratis.  The smirking, smug, elderly Alaska Air pilots laugh as I hover, and I hear one of them say "poor bastard thinks he'll get on" and nods in my direction.  Grrrrrrr  (again)

So now I am standing at my 6:50pm Departure gate, adjacent to an Anchorage Alaska departure gate, with a bunch of Alaskans and Alaska visitors all around me, as I rant about how I will never be flying Alaska Air again.  I don't care if they are the cheapest or the most direct, my behind will not be in another Alaska Air seat again.  Their IT system programming is walled off from American and Delta (the friendly gate agents told me "we have the same problem with American...  no one's system talks to ours"), they don't wait-list travelers, and they cater to their own off-duty pilots for the last unclaimed seats, as opposed to paying, ticketed passengers.  I am wasting an extra 3 hours of my life in Seattle because of Lackluster Alaskan Airline's non-customer-centric policies, pathetic IT programming, smug off-duty pilots, and my corporate travel agent's misguided metrics of "cost is more important than the traveler".

It will be good to finally decompress when I get home at 11 or 1130 pm this evening, after working 14 hour days the last 4 days through he weekend, and not give a damn about much of anything.  The Packers can smear the Bears by 40 points tomorrow, and I won't be surprised or sad by it, because I will just not be giving a damn at all this holiday weekend.

Rant over...  now I feel better.   = )

If you fly Alaska Airlines, and you like it, you're probably a Gold or Platinum frequent flyer.  Or, you're one of their smug pilots.

Old Hard Hat, New Additions

While waiting interminably in the Seattle airport this Wednesday - the busiest day of travel in the United States - I stopped at Subpop records and did some early Christmas shopping for the family.  I also got a sticker for the hard hat I've had since 1986.
It's rather large, but, after spending Saturday-Wednesday at a local power plant, and noticing my rather ancient hard hat was one of the LEAST stickers of the millwrights, crane operators, and field engineers at the outage, I wanted to adorn it a little bit more.  Now the stickers on the front won't be as lonely as they were previously.
I do find it interesting that NIPSCO, where I first wore my hard hat, has plants that are spread across Indiana, and some in Illinois, not in Indiana At All... but... that's corporate America. [I also wonder, of the 7 billion people in the world, how many of them have been to the exact same plants I've been to, wearing a hard hat, as I have... keeping in mind, that the power plants in Europe and Asia that I have visited, I did not take my own hard hat and wore one that site provided... so there's more than stickers-to-the-eye would reveal]

Thursday, November 12, 2015

November In Flight Movie Reviews

The day after Halloween, I got in a plane in San Diego, flew to Seattle, then Tokyo Narita, then onto Hong Kong, arriving super late Monday night, for a work trip.  Then, last Friday, November 6th, I got in a plane in Hong Kong, and flew the 17 hours back.  All in coach (Attention Corporate America bean counters and executives: if you want to crush the spirt of your workers, make them incredibly unproductive, and lower their morale while trying to induce deep vein thrombosis, then 17 hours in a coach seat on a trans-pacific flight is definitely the best way to do it!)

While unable to open a lap top in a coach seat with the traveler in front of you reclined and blocking 1/3 of your tray space, you are able to watch lots and lots of movies.  You can't order "Woodford Double Neat" from the flight attendants, who rebuke you with "I can't give you a double" ... Oh Really?? If I was in Business Class or First, you certainly could and would and have... but back here in steerage, I understand.  I'm no one.  A no-body.  So one at a time, I got a Woodford or a Courvoisier on the international legs.

What you're going to read here are short summaries that I jotted down, from the many movies I watched on a 4" x 6" screen on the back of the fully reclined seat in front of me, while flying from Seattle to Hong Kong, and back (all the work I could have gotten done... if the company had only sprung for a business class seat... oh well):

Me & Earl & the Dying Girl
Not bad.  Had its moments. If I was a lot younger I might have enjoyed it /  appreciated / related to it more.
Blowing up stuff for the sake of blowing up stuff.  Ridiculously predictable. Interesting to see Tony Stark try to function without Jarvis for a change, but other than that, not worth anyone's time. 

Poorly acted, poorly written, extremely stretched premises... Funny the first time originally in 1983, but not a good sequel.  Perhaps if I was high or drunk when watching it might have been better or funnier. Christina Applegate was great in it. Ed Helms basically played Michael Scott from The Office, but more clumsily that Steve Carell would have. 

Stand up & skits forced into a movie... Had funny moments (a few), but, very unlikable characters. Sad, since Bill Hader and Amy Schumer are very funny comedians & writers.  Glad I didn't see it in theaters 

Laughable bad. Spielberg wasted all viewers' time & money on this farce. Pre-dict-able!!!!!  So bad, it was hilariously funny where it was supposed to be scary.  Dumb dumb dumb.  Zero plausibility, zero believability, zero credibility.  This diminishes Spielberg's movie making legacy, in my perspective.  He should have kept his distance.
Just "before lunch"
Ted 2 - sequel should not have been made.  (I won't waste your time with a graphic or link... just avoid this, unless you're from Boston... then you might like it).  If you loved Ted 2, you have to explain why... and if I can't understand why, you cannot be my friend. Morgan Freeman... have you turned into Nicholas Cage in not being able to turn down any script?

As I have no small child or grand child or little niece or nephew who lives near me, I never saw this in the theaters.   It was a cute Disney movie.  No idea why it didn't go over smashingly in US movie theaters. I did fall asleep on the way from Narita to Seattle while watching this after mom gets turned into a bear and escapes from the castle... and woke up at the end when everyone was happily reunited again.  I need to figure out of the bratty little triplets turned into bears too...  or... ?

Steve Carell was creepy in this.  Tatum needed to scowl and frown more, as he looked only partially like a thick browed, brooding Neanderthal.   I saw only the first 45 minutes or so of this film before we landed in Seattle.  It was enough time to see an Olympic gold medalist go from the top of his sport, to kneeling before a billionaire and doing coke lines off a porch table.  I don't want to see the other 1/2 of the movie.  (and I wrestled, in 8th grade... so I understand the sport somewhat) 
Iron Man 3
Not to California Code
Did Audi pay for this movie with tons of product placement?  More blowing up things for the sake of blowing up things.  Predictable, no suspense at all.  Guy Ritchie is quite evil - and far too in shape for a man as old as he is... but I guess if I had a personal trainer and worked out 3 or 4 hours a day... still... I think this was the worst of the Iron Man movies.

"His body has been replaced at a cellular level.  He cannot be cured."
This movie was so terrible, there was no cure.  Not even Daenerys Stormborn with dark hair, and naked, could save this laughable farce. "Questions remain..."  ... yes, like "who agreed to fund this P.O.S.?"

Was great the first time I saw it in a theater. On a small plane screen with bad headphones, less spectacular, but still the best movie I saw the entire trip.  Theron and Hardy were both awesome.  Stunts were amazing.
Girl Power!!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Evil Mr. Vaccine

This is how I feel in my neighborhood...

A drumset doesn't work as well as a flute I guess.  = P

This is how I feel in the world, often...

AstroTurf Commenter "Ronny Anderson"

What I am wearing Saturday Night.
JustJoeP is open to commenters who are real, who are not spammers, and who are not trying to sell something / promote their own business's website / troll and be an unpleasant, not nice, unwelcome person.  Comments, criticisms, alternative view points are always welcome, and published.  Sales promotions, spam, and trolls are sent to spam, deleted, or reported.

So it amused me this morning to AGAIN see yet another attempt from spammer "Ronny Anderson" enter my comment screening queue, AGAIN trying to sell his pool filters, and AGAIN showing that English is not his first language.  So once again, I have sent his comment to spam.

"Ronny" (or his chosen "English name" from whatever non-English speaking mother tongue, where he bamboozled his employer into believing that he actually has a mastery of the English language) is persistent.  Five separate occasions since March of 2015, he's tried to cut-and-paste generic comments into my Hayward Pool Filter change out post, with small tweaks each time to see if I'll just mindlessly, robotically, click "Approve" and get the word out about his internet pool filter business.  5 separate times he's failed.  This last attempt, adding "  I googled and found your blog did what you have mentioned results differently. "  I don't understand Ronny the spammer...  "results differently.... what?"  If I was a really devout linguist, I would try and back-track this poorly constructed sentence to see if it's origins might be Burmese, Chinese, Romanian, Portuguese, Slavic, Spanish, Germanic... but I'm not.  It's definitely not grammatically correct English.

I'm not going to mention nor promote the off-shore website that "Ronny" was poorly attempting to promote with his astroturf comments.  I mention it here because I find it amusing that someone can do their job so poorly and yet still make a sustainable living; that many bloggers fall for this astro-turf and just publish it after reading a tiny bit of insincere praise; that "Ronny" keeps trying, for 7 months, to convince me to post his crude cut-and-paste.

Appears that "John Harris" and "Ronny Anderson" may work for the same (or similar) spam firms.

My rejection of spam marketing has nothing to do with me being cheap or not generous.  We're giving out FULL SIZED candy bars tonight for trick or treat to the first 50 kids who come by - then cheap-o bags of costco candy = P  ... I just don't want to promote poorly worded spam that adds little to no value to the post, and that masquerade as actual blog visitor comments.  If you're going to spam me, you need to be better worded, slicker, more value-added... or you'll be deleted and possibly later mocked for your feeble efforts.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

"The Highest I've Ever Seen"

I recently had some blood work done to figure out what I'm allergically reacting to on my skin.  My very experienced physician - who told me he was Jonas Salk's last graduate student (and Salk died in 1995) - spoke with me today about some preliminary lab results he'd gotten back on the blood work, and made this statement:  "For cat, you were very high. In fact, the highest I've ever seen for any patient."  The man's been in practice for decades and has seen 1000s of patients.  Wow.  That stuck with me.

So, while I loved my cat while she was alive, and I miss her tremendously (her presence, her warmth, her meowing, her companionship, her sense that she owned the house, the couch, the people in it, her ability to kill spiders and beetles and silver fish, the way she didn't want her back petted but preferred it be 'spanked' when she arched up into your hand, her patrolling of the house for no reason, her watching NFL football with me, her indignation when I'd yell at a losing Bears or Cubs or Blackhawk's game, her watching birds at the window and making the "at-at-at-at-atttt" sounds) ... replacing her, and the "hole" that not having her in my life has left, with any feline, is contra-indicated to my health.  For my friends and acquaintances who keep asking me "when will you get another pet?" my answer will continue to be: "DDF will get several cats after I die".

Dogs, ragweed (I shall not go to my preferred yoga spot at the lagoon again, which is surrounded by ragweed), and alternaria fungus were also strong reactors in the blood work.  So I can't get a canine, a sentient pollen laden weed, or a mobile fungus based pet either  = P   ...probably why some beers (yeast is a fungus) make me so darn itchy as well.

"The highest I've ever seen".  Great... not exactly what I wanted to be remembered for, or "best in" ... but now I know that volunteering at the animal shelter in the future is a Very Very bad idea for me and my histamines.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Science The Sh*t Out Of It!!

I saw The Martian last week by myself, and then I saw it again with DDF last Sunday.  It takes a very good movie for me to see twice in the theater (The Road, No Country For Old Men, The Hurt Locker, in recent memory... yes, it was lonely living and working in Phoenix).

The Martian is one of those movies that is really truly worth seeing.  I was skeptical going into it, but that skepticism was quickly dashed by excellent science, excellent acting, excellent screen writing, fastidious attention to detail, technical accuracy, and a high value placed upon tenacity, intelligence, survival of the human spirit, grace under pressure, and fantastic movie making.  Even Neil De Grasse Tyson, the "rock star of science" liked it, and he pans / criticizes many science based movies.
The Hermes... next to the ISS currently orbiting the Earth, the longest serving Space Craft in the world.

I liked it the first time, and loved it by the end of the first watching.  By the end of the second watching I have this advisory for parents:
- If you are a parent of a 11 to 17 year old who has show ANY interest in Science or Engineering as a possible vocation, TAKE THEM!!!!  It is better than Apollo 13 was at it's time.  It is realistic, it is brutal (at times), it is heart warming and inspiring.
- If you are a parent of a younger child who cusses like a sailor, or if you, yourself, use "shit", "fuck" and "dick" around the house in front of the children (instead of the anatomically correct "penis" as DDF and I always did when our son was a very little boy a 1/4 of a century ago), then taking them won't be a big surprise.  The word "fuck" is used twice, shouted (appropriately) and then again later.  The word "shit" is used to describe both feces and as an expletive twice & twice as an expletive (2+2 times each, for a total of four times).  And the phrase "dick punch" is introduced by a dismayed Matt Damon upon hearing bad news.  For the record, I don't believe our son ever used the word "dick punch" until perhaps he went to college...  at least he never used it around us.
"According to my alma mater, the University of Chicago, once you grow crops somewhere, you've officially colonized it"
This is a movie for engineers, scientists, mathematicians, program managers who give a damn about the people in their programs and not just profits, botanists, computer scientists, chemists, astrophysicists, fans of the JPL, alumni of the University Chicago, people who believe NASA is not a government boondoggle and that is has INTRINSIC value to all of mankind, fans of international scientific collaborations, thinking humans, explorers, intelligent people, and people who like to see good motion pictures.  It's a story about problem solving, tenacity, valuing intelligence & human life over ideology or politics, and coming together as a species to root for the under-dog.  (as a life long Cubs fan...  I know how that feels).

Excellent quotes that stuck with me:
"I'm going to have to science the shit out of this"
"According to my alma mater, the University of Chicago, they said that once you've planted and harvested crops somewhere, you've officially colonized it...  so I guess, I've colonies Mars"
"Commander Lewis, you have horrible taste in music"
"Rich Purnell is a steely eyed missile man"
"Martinez, no barrel rolls"
"Physicists don't use the word 'fast' when describing someone's velocity"
"You solve one problem, you DO THE MATH, and then if you get it right, you get to solve another problem, and another problem, and then you get to stay alive and come come"

Sean Bean gets to play a role where he neither dies, nor is he a flawed asshole who you want to hate... hooray for Sean Bean as flight director Mitch Henderson!!!

I WISH there had been a movie like this for me, when I was in middle school and High School... instead of just Apocalypse Now, The China Syndrome,  Star Wars and An Office And A Gentleman...  that helped me to form an opinion and vision of what I wanted to do with my life, and who I DID NOT want to be (go into the military, and have Lewis Gusset Jr make my life hell...  oh heck no!!)

Why More Than One Feeder?

There's more than enough nectar for all 4 of us. Everyone, chill & have some sucrose. (out my office window)
Why do I set out more than one nectar feeder in some locations around my house?  Well, first, the shepherd hook mounts often come with 2 hooks, and I have more than one double hook...
Now boys, there's no need to fight...
 ...but more than that, it is to encourage more hummingbirds to come and feed, attracting as many as possible.   I get Anna's, Allen's, Rufous, Black Chinned and the occasional Costa's hummingbirds.

The females share the nectar happily, though nervously...  always wary of some young male who might try and swoop in and threaten them.  Two adolescent males will try and intimidate each other, but usually they both decide they're too thirsty to fight, and just perch on the same feeder to lap up as much sugar as they can before a bigger, older, stronger male runs them off.

The males' brains are instinctually programmed to fight and hoard as many resources as possible.  The younger males, especially of the smaller Rufous and Allen's species try to threaten everything, while the older, mature, fully-ascotted males like the larger Anna's that are ~20% bigger than the other species are more often laid back, like "boy, you don't want to make me angry... you wouldn't like it when I'm angry Mr McGee"

I try to wash out the feeders about every 2 weeks, or "every other filling" if they don't show visible signs of mold, fungus, bacteria, or smell bad.

Trying to focus in on the head of a hummingbird while the wings are furiously beating is not an easy task.  The photo above was taken at 10 feet away, with a 75X zoom, through a glass window and screen (Panasonic Lumix makes some truly awesome optics software).

Sharing is much less stressful than fighting and fencing with your beak & aerial momentum, as these Anna's females understand.

This feisty little Rufous thinks he owns the feeders outside my window.  It's always a treat when I can catch him in the sun light feeding with his fierce plumage reflecting the sun's rays.

This immature Anna's male (note the lack of fully bright ascot plumage and just the start of a goatee) loves the Fuchsia plants outside the family room windows in my back yard.  I believe hummingbirds see Fuchsia flowers & Hibiscus blossoms similar to how I see most red Bordeaux and Languedoc-Roussilion wines... as a delicious staple that's preferred, whenever available.  Sure, I'll take a $5 Nero d'Avola Italian bottle as a daily table wine (like a sucrose nectar feeder). But given a choice of something more delicious... mmmmm.

This little Rufous guards the front yard feeders outside of DDF's window, roosting high up on the spines of the palm trees in the shade. He's ready to swoop down the 15 foot elevation advantage and scare off anyone who's attempting to sip his nectar.
He's trying to do his best Smaug impersonation... but doesn't have the scales or girth to pull it off.
The Anna's male who sits on a  low hanging vine-that-looks-like-a-swing over our backyard patio will often sit and sing for an hour or so, telling all the neighborhood females "hey baby, I've got nectar if you're thirsty, Fuchsia plants not too far away, and lots of places you can build your nest...  hey baby..." It's just kinda sad that the male hummingbirds don't help at all in the nest building, child raising, or home defense, leaving it all to the fertile female.  The only thing the males do is hoard resources, fight with other males, attempt to posture impressively, and sing their own praises loudly.  It's a good thing their plumage looks spectacular int he sunlight, or I would have lost interest a long time ago.

Spiders Are Not Easy Subjects to Photograph

Spiders are not the easiest of photographic subjects, especially when they are spinning their webs.  Dr Desert Flower spotted this one last month, outside one of our upstairs windows, busily spinning a very large orb web that was nearly perpendicular to the window pane, hanging under an eve.

I tried autofocusing to no success, and then tried repeated to manually focus, but the spider kept spinning and spinning, moving almost a body length and completely out of focus 3 feet away.
 The red and black and yellow hairy striped legs were moving very rapidly, as the female (she later laid a big-ole egg sack under the eve - I wonder if her mate was delicious, or if he escaped the big beautiful female he impregnated before being devoured) built her nearly 3 foot diameter web, just before sunset.  She was fascinating to watch, and one of the largest non-tarantula spiders I have ever seen outside of a zoo.  Her body alone was nearly as big as a large peach pit, and her legs more than doubled that impressive size.

It did make a beautiful silhouette that was much easier to photograph though  = )

And when I backed up from the window, and then tried to zoom back in, I "sort of" was able to capture this perspective with the palms in the back ground:

This arachnid made an orb web outside the kitchen window, right in the line of sight to the kitchen window bird feeder.  Again, autofocus was no good.  Manual focus worked, from a distance, as the spider stood still, waiting for a meal to arrive.

So there's no wonder why our outdoor Halloween theme has a heavy Spider emphasis.  =)
 I do think the Mandevilla have thrived on the South Facing garage, replacing the very messy bougainvella that used to litter my garage floor with wispy pink blossoms.

The large orange & black spider is mounted on a spring that lets it bounce and spin in the wind beneath the downspout gutter from which it hangs.