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.