January 2013 Archives

We've got a lot of ground to cover today, kiddies, so try to keep up.

Spraffl Logo
What the internet needs is way more anonymity...said no one, ever. OK, that's not entirely true, as the creators of Spraffl obviously feel that personalization in social media is overrated, and have created an iPhone app (Android coming soon) that will allow the posting of anonymous observations anywhere, anytime, and about any subject. Think of it as the ultimate playground for trolls.

Or maybe not. Even the Spraffl guys are apparently a little gunshy about all this freedom, and have built in a process whereby the community can get you kicked off the service for posting stuff that offends or just annoys someone else. Yeah, what could possibly go wrong with that?

So, when I first heard about Spraff, I'm like, well, what's the point...who wants to get involved with something like that? Turns out that I sort of do. I downloaded the app as an experiment and - whaddayaknow? - it's a little addictive (albeit more than a little weird). Here's my first Spraff (side note: is there an unwritten rule that social media posts must have silly names?):

My first spraff

Because Spraffl shows a map of the locations of all spraffs, I could tell that my post was the first one in Midland (albeit not the first one in West Texas; there's apparently at least one spraffer in Lamesa, of all places). I could also ascertain that it was one of the first ten in the entire state of Texas, so I've go that going for me...you know, in case the service ever gains Twitter-like stature.

But, you see the problem with being an early adopter, don't you? I just blew my anonymity, or at least my assumption of invisibility, because now any posting from Midland will be attributed to me, at least until some critical mass of users is reached. The app attaches a location to each post, so your anonymity doesn't extend to geography unless you disable Location Services, which in turns cripples the app.

So, what's my prediction for the success of Spraffl? I give it about a 1% chance of success, as it seems designed to fill a hole that few fear falling into. But don't tell anyone I said that; I value my anonymity.

I posted the following photo on Facebook but have been asked to blog it as well. We've had several sightings of foxes in our neighborhood recently, and last week our next door neighbor glanced out her window and saw this little guy napping in the back yard. She said there was a second one who may have either been a lookout or responsible for finding dinner, because he didn't hang around much. 

Photo - Sleeping fox

Foxes have always been a fixture around Midland, and not just on the outskirts of town, where we live. Some people fear them, but they don't pose any danger, other than minor rabies outbreaks, and those are no worse than your run-of-the-mill zombie attacks. We do have friends who claim that foxes were responsible for the hollowed out shells where their back yard turtles once lived, so there is that.

During the winter months (both of them), we move some of our more delicate plants into the garage for safekeeping. Each year, our garage gets a bit more crowded, and this winter's addition is the Mexican Lime Tree that normally resides on our back porch. I worried a little how it might react to the relative darkness and much cooler weather, even though it was protected from freezing. Well, my worries were apparently groundless:

Photo - Mexican Lime Tree

Can you spot the two limes in the middle? They weren't there when we moved the tree into the garage. (Ignore what looks like a lemon; that's what happens when you let your lime linger too long and fail to harvest it.) If you give the tree a weekly drink and roll it into the sunshine every now and then, it's perfectly content to be a garage-dweller.

I got into a spring cleaning mode last weekend and tidied up the attic and one of our closets. I made some tough decision about getting rid of some old friends, and this was simultaneously one of the easiest and toughest.

Photo - Hypertech Pro 9A housing

This is an underwater housing for a video camera. I purchased it in 1990 or thereabouts for a cool $1,000, back when we were doing a fair amount of scuba diving. It was a 19-pound one trick pony...the only camera it fit was Sony's CCD-V9 8-mm video camera (which was a real workhorse of a camera, but laughably huge and low-quality compared to today's units). It was a chore to lug around, especially through third world airports, and the controls were temperamental. I never really knew whether I'd managed to turn the camera on or not before getting back to the surface, and the battery life was such that you didn't dare turn it on before getting geared up and in the water.

Anyway, our video camera is long gone (I can't even recall what happened to it), and Sony stopped supporting the 8-mm tape format years ago. I racked my brain trying to think of some way to repurpose the housing; I even experimented with taping my iPhone just inside the lens, figuring that was a possible hipsterish steampunkish approach that might just be crazy enough to work. I'll try to post something separately about that experiment; the short story is that it didn't. I finally reached the sad conclusion that technology had rendered this apparatus obsolete, and into the dumpster it went. (If you have a brilliant idea on what I should have done with it instead, please keep it to yourself. Thanks.)

A Houston-based architectural designer (don't ask me how that's different than a plain old architect) has put her creative touches on an old adobe dance hall in Marfa, Texas, and turned it into an unusual home. If you know anything at all about Marfa, you'll know that "unusual" isn't that unusual, but this raises the bar for out-of-the-ordinariness, from a housing perspective.

The interior design is ultra-stark and ultra-hip (pardon the redundancy). While I wouldn't want it as a primary residence, it does scratch a creative urge in a pleasing manner. It has lots of open space - well, there are actually NO interior walls, just movable partitions to create an illusion of privacy - and some pretty funky accessories. But this scene from the "bedroom" really caught my eye.

Photo - Marfa house bedroom

Yes, the bathtub just sits in the middle of the room (I didn't see a photo showing the location of the toilet; I assume we're not talking outhouse here), and those closets act as the rolling partitions I mentioned above. This house is obviously designed for someone who lives alone, or for a childless couple, or for anyone who grew up in a commune in the 60s.

Take a look at this slideshow for additional photos of this rather fascinating design.

"That thang got a hemi?" - Pt. 2
January 24, 2013 5:33 PM | Posted in: ,

So, I was grinding through my usual brutal commute home from work yesterday evening - the longest ten minutes of my life, you know - when I laid eyes on this odd sight:

Photo - Bentley Continental GT

For those who don't keep up with such things, join the club; I had to google it, too. It's a Continental GT. Bentley's aren't exactly commonplace in West Texas, although this was the second one I've spotted in Midland in the past seven days.

Anyway, I confess that my second thought after spotting the car was "why would you feel the need to have a vanity plate to tell people what kind of car you're driving?" I mean, isn't the car itself sort of, you know, self-explanatory?

Well, no, actually. Because my first thought was, "oh, there's a nice-looking Chrysler 300." And then it struck me: if you'd paid 200 large for a car, you surely wouldn't want people to mistake it for a car costing 1/10th as much.

Photo - Chrysler 300

I think it's the badge that threw me, although both have rather boxy rear ends (no offense to any boxy-rear-ended Gazette readers). And I'm sure that Chrysler would be simply appalled to think that people are mistaking one of its cars for a Bentley.

Of course, it does occur to me that the owner's name is Bently, in which case it all makes a lot more sense, plus I don't have to express umbrage over the sorry state of spelling on vanity plates nowadays. I blame the interent. [See what I did there?]

This encounter did give me an idea for a plate for my next car:

A Mile of Midland
January 23, 2013 6:04 PM | Posted in: ,

One Square Mile: Texas is an upcoming PBS television series that will focus on nine very specific geographic areas across our state...including one located in Midland. The square mile in Midland is being referred to as "Holiday Hill Village," and has as its approximate center C.J. Kelly Park, in the northwest quadrant of the city. Here's a locator map of the area:

At first glance, I couldn't figure out why the producers picked this particular area to represent Midland (other than they claim that the locations were "selected from viewer suggestions and were pulled from over 200+ nominations across the state"). For one thing, there are no Tex-Mex restaurants within the boundaries. You have to go out of your way to find a square mile in Midland with no access to fajitas. Plus, there are no pumpjacks or drilling rigs, or at least there weren't any a couple of weeks ago. That may well have changed by now.

On the other hand, I don't have a better suggestion for an area this size that better represents the identity and diversity of Midland, Texas. The boundaries encompass a bowling alley, a Freebirds, a sporting goods store selling guns and ammo, a Christian bookstore, a Cracker Barrel, a home improvement store, one of the larger parks in the city, one of the largest churches in the city, an apartment complex, a new and burgeoning upper-middle-class housing development as well as a more well-worn residential neighborhood, a large junior high school, the edge of a golf course, and some pasture that undoubtedly sports a healthy population of rattlesnakes and jackrabbits. 

Anyway, the producers of the series are soliciting suggestions for stories that arise from life within this square mile area. They are specifically targeting the following themes:

  • Community - What role does community play in this square mile. How do residents interact and socialize? Is community involvement centered at the school, the barber shop, the cafe or the home? 
  • Family - What is the role of family in this square mile? What is it like to live, grow up or raise a family in this square mile?
  • Work - How do people earn a living in this square mile? 
  • Food - How is food a part of the culture in this square mile? 
  • Future - What is the future of this square mile?
Any Midlander can make a suggestion as to a storyline for this segment of the series, via this webpage. So, if you know someone who lives within this square mile and who has a story that you think others would want to hear, drop the producers a note. It wouldn't even be considered crass to nominate yourself, if your address so qualifies you.
I admit I twisted off with yesterday's post, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. Now that I've got that out of my system, don't look for much in the way of political commentary for a good long while. Unless...well...never mind.

As an expression of contrition, allow me to repost another Gazette offering from 2009, which should get us back on track, especially considering that another installment in the Die Hard  franchise is set to open on Valentine's Day. How appropriate is that?
So, we took in a matinée showing of Taken today, and as we walked out of the theater I bounced this idea off MLB.

"They need to pair up Liam Neeson's Bryan Mills with Bruce Willis's John McClain and have them be dads who volunteer to be chaperones on a high school trip in order to keep an eye on their daughters. Something could go terribly wrong -- terrorists could, like, kidnap the whole class and, like, do mean stuff -- and Bryan and John could go into action to save them."

I know, it sounds lame, but what if the field trip was to Washington, D.C. And what if the bad guys were actually Congress? Starting to see the appeal now?

OK, it's just a fantasy, but if you're a Hollywood screenwriter cruising the net for ideas, remember where you heard it. Anyway, if you haven't seen Taken and you're a fan of the Die Hard movies, go see it. Neeson doesn't have Willis's comic flair, but to paraphrase Johner in Alien: Resurrection*, he is not the guy with whom you want to **** (pardon my French special characters, which is appropriate given that most of the movie's action took place in Paris).

*This is an under-appreciated member of the "Alien" line-up, in my opinion. The movie is worth watching if only for Ripley's basketball scene, and getting to see the corrupt General Perez pull his own pineal gland** out of the back of his head and stare at it in horror is, well, compelling beyond description.

**OK, I have no idea if it really was a pineal gland, but it was small and icky and seemed like something a person would be really sad to be holding in his hand.

Oops. I just noticed that this was a political post after all. My bad.

Inauguration Day 2009: Revisited
January 21, 2013 8:08 PM | Posted in: ,

Here's what I wrote four years ago.
We rejoice today, for at long last, the fires of Mordor have been quenched, and the evil intentions of The Empire have been thwarted. How bright is that light that signals a new dawn, where Jupiter has finally aligned with Mars, and Starbucks lattes, thick with the foam of freedom, are but one thin dime, freeing us from yet another burden that had long dragged down our inherent optimism. 

If I seem a bit giddy, it's just that I'm overwhelmed by emotions today, as I confront the reality of an historic occasion. I mean, really, who ever thought we'd see the day when Arizona would make it to the Super Bowl? *rimshot* 

OK. I'm just funnin' you; I'm not that big a fan of the Cardinals (although I am a Kurt Warner fan). And, yeah, the frenzy over today's presidential inauguration has pegged the Hype-O-Meter at eleven. But, you know what? I like it. I'm thrilled that once again, America has the opportunity to demonstrate to the rest of the world how a free people carries out a significant transition of power at the highest levels of government. I'm ecstatic that politicians are "reaching across the aisle" in a spirit of cooperation and mutual commitment to the common good...however fleeting this phenomenon may be. I'm proud of the fact that at a very real level, we as a nation have seemed to finally put behind us a barrier to opportunity that at one time seemed insurmountable. And regardless of the cynicism that invariably dogs the sentiment, I'm buoyed by the hope that free people of good will can work together to further strengthen an already strong nation, and that our shining light on the hill can burn even brighter. 

I'm sure it's no surprise that I didn't vote for Barack Obama, and I strongly disagree with many of his apparent policies. But I've seen nothing to indicate that he's not a man of honor, and I've been impressed with the way he's comported himself in the days since the election. I want to believe that he'll continue to move toward a centrist view on many important issues facing our country, and I've always believed that a nation with the diversity of ours is best served by such a view, regardless of the party in power at any given time. 

So I do face today with the optimism of a new start, but also with a bit of cautionary advice. To those who look to the government as the source of their contentment and happiness, my warning is to be prepared for disappointment. If the best you have is the reliance on human beings to do the right thing on your behalf, I guarantee that you'll find it to be temporary, at best. We as a species are just not cut out for the job, and however superior our form of government may be, it's still energized by humans and thus prone to jumping the tracks at every inopportune moment. 

So, am I a cynic after all? It's OK if you think so, but I don't. I prefer to think that I'm a realist. My true optimism...my true hope...comes from a Higher Source, one that transcends elections and political parties and all the oh-so-temporary things we seem to think are so important during this portion of our lives. And so it's very easy for me to wrap this up with this sincere wish for the day, and the days ahead: may God bless President Obama, and may God continue to bless America.

If that doesn't prove that I'm a moron, nothing will. The only prescient portion of that post addressed the uniqueness of the Arizona Cardinals making it to the Super Bowl (and even they lost that year). [By the way, I take little solace in the fact that many of you agreed with me at the time; your comments mercifully disappeared into the ether when the Gazette was rolled out in a shiny new wrapper not long after the preceding post.]

President Obama has been consistent in his ability to disappoint me in almost every fact of his administration. In my opinion, as a nation we're more polarized than ever, Obama is less centrist than ever, Congress is less effective than ever, and his administration has made our Constitution less relevant than ever. He's made it clear in word and deed, time and again, that he holds in contempt some of the values that are most important to me. The federal government is now more confiscatory and intrusive than ever before, and if Obama is not directly to blame, he's at least the poster child for the changes. The highlight of Inauguration Day 2013 is that it marks the beginning of the end of his term and I pray that we can somehow survive the next four years with our liberties intact.

Four years older and, I hope, four years wiser, and my prayer now is simply, "have mercy on us, O Lord, for we are a people of unclean hands and unclean lips."
Fellow [occasional] blogger Jen posted a link to this list of "50 Life Hacks to Simplify Your World." In a previous era, "life hacks" were referred to as "Hints from Heloise," but that's another topic for another time.

Anyway, after skimming through the article, I started wondering what future extraterrestrial archeologists might glean about our culture, assuming the list survived after our world's inevitable extinction caused by a lethal combination of Honey Boo Boo and zombies.

I think the first thing they'd find is that we were obsessed with mastering our electrical and electronics cables, a task that was apparently more challenging than it looks. Six of the fifty deal with taming unruly cords and cables. We should forgive those future investigators if they arrive at the conclusion that we were ultimately throttled to death by our own devices.

Mmmmmmm....We also couldn't be bothered with conventional ideas of food preparation. Otherwise, we wouldn't be skewering strawberries with soda straws, or concocting confections in our coffee cups, or doctoring discards with dollops of dairy. On the other hand, they would doubtless approve of the recipe for bacon pancakes. There's not a force in the 'verse that doesn't endorse bacon as a delicious alternative to actual nutrition.

Finally, we will be judged and found wanting by our textiles. A race that needs step-by-step instructions for folding its bedclothes has obviously earned its destruction to make way for a more intelligent life form.

Future historians may discern that humans were never able to conquer poverty, much less cure the common cold, but by George, we did finally overcome the inherent limitations of those little paper ketchup cups, and that's not nothing.

Betsy Andreu: My New Heroine
January 18, 2013 4:45 PM | Posted in: ,

At the time of this writing, if you type "Betsy" into the Google search bar, "Betsy Andreu" comes up as the second suggested phrase, behind only Betsey Johnson, which makes no Photo of Betsysense at all because the two names are spelled differently, and I would expect that Big Brother would be well aware that I couldn't care less about some ditzy fashion designer.

Anyway, if the name Betsy Andreu doesn't ring a bell, don't feel badly; that probably means that you don't follow Lance Armstrong on Twitter. She's the wife of professional cyclist and former Armstrong teammate Frankie Andreu, and she's the Cycling Spouse From Hell. At least, that's how Armstrong characterized her for years.

See, Betsy was the one person who early on went public with her educated opinion that Lance was doping. She paid a heavy price in the court of public opinion for her steadfast pronouncements that Armstrong was a manipulative, lying SOB. You know that song phrase, "you don't tug on Superman's cape"? Betsy not only pulled on it, she hitched it to a monster truck and tried to drag it around a rodeo arena. For her efforts, she was painted by the Armstrong cartel as deranged and psychotic, and a gullible press and fandom bought the story. And her husband's cycling career was derailed; Superman can kick butt when he wishes.

Well, guess who's vindicated...somewhat. Betsy's not completely satisfied with Armstrong's admissions of guilt - she thinks they don't go far enough - but surely she feels that the years of being viewed as the equivalent of the crazy shopping cart lady who talks to lamp posts has a somewhat happy ending.

Or, maybe not. Read this interview with her on the Sports Illustrated website and decide for yourself.

Maybe she isn't satisfied with the admissions; I can't say as I blame her. But she told the truth when it wasn't popular (or believable) and that seems to be a rare thing nowadays.

Two Things: Lance / Missy
January 16, 2013 9:25 PM | Posted in: ,

Lance Armstrong: Self-inflicted irrelevance

I'm still trying to decide how I feel about Lance Armstrong now that he's [apparently] coming clean - more or less, and no pun intended - about his use of PEDs during his cycling career. I've been a fan since his early days in the sport, and felt an inordinate amount of pride - even patriotism - in his seven Tour de France victories.

Photo - Lance Armstrong

Even so, I never really liked the guy, if that makes any sense. I had tremendous respect for his skill on the bike, and his tenacity was awe-inspiring, but there was always a dark undercurrent to his personality. When rumors about his "externally enhanced" abilities began to circulate, I bought into the whole "he's the most tested athlete in history and has never tested positive" argument...and yet. When Bicycling Magazine publish an extensive article last year, written by an admitted fan who laid out a very well researched and detailed case against Armstrong, and took no joy in doing so, it just seemed to ring true to me. And it turns out that it was.

So, where I'm at today - and this could change, for better or worse - is wondering just what kind of sociopath could cultivate such a convincing façade of lies, and aggressively - even pugnaciously - maintain it for years, leaving a wide swath of figurative bodies in the ditches, just as he often did his cycling competitors. How does a person build such a public persona, to the point where he is arguably the most recognized athlete on the planet based on his accomplishments on and off the bike, and go to bed every night knowing it's based on lies piled atop lies? Was there a point in his life where he reached a crossroads, where he could have fessed up with a minimal amount of backlash, and he made a conscious decision not to do so? Or was it out of hand before he realized it?

These are questions for others to contemplate. I don't expect he'll ever answer them, but for now, while I pose the questions, I'm really not interested in the answers. Instead, I'd much rather call attention to...

Missy Franklin: Glittering more than gold

You remember Missy, doncha? Sure, you do. She's the world-record-holding American swimmer who won four gold medals at the London Olympics last summer. She's also a 17-year-old high school student in Colorado who just turned down an estimated $3 million endorsement package in favor of staying in school in an attempt to live a normal teenager's life.

Photo - Missy Franklin

Not everyone is happy about that decision, by the way. The Wall Street Journal reports that many swimmers at neighboring high schools are dismayed at the prospect of having to compete against an Olympic gold medalist (although it sounds like the parents and coaches may have more invested in the issue than the kids themselves, like that's any great revelation). By the way, the WSJ poll accompanying the preceding story shows that almost 90% of respondents agree with her decision to continue to compete in high school meets.

Despite the sour grapes attitudes by some, most of us would agree that it's refreshing to hear about a gifted athlete who is so well-grounded. Setting aside the obvious question of "how rich ARE her parents, anyway?" it's hard to imagine that Missy will ever fall into the same self-constructed trap that Lance succumbed to. And as long as we have enough Missys to counterbalance the Lances, there's reason for optimism, at least in the wonderful world of sports.

Reason #437 why I'm not in public relations
January 7, 2013 9:30 PM | Posted in:

So I pick up a man and his wife at the airport this afternoon; we're interviewing him for a position. They live in Alaska (which might give you an idea of how hard it is to fill jobs here). On the way out of the airport, they're telling me about all the wildlife in the area where they live: bears, moose, bald eagles, wolves. I respond that they wouldn't have to deal with much wildlife around here, perhaps just a few coyotes and rattlesnakes.

I immediately sense that we're on shaky ground.

Her: You...have rattlesnakes?

Me (hoping to defuse the situation): Oh, but don't worry about them. The scorpions generally kill them before there's a problem.

Her: You...have scorpions?

Me (who seems to always find another shovel when I'm in a hole): Ha-ha. *ahem* They're not a big deal; the tarantulas keep them pretty well under control.

Her: When's the next flight out?

This might be a little hard to explain back at the office.

My Spiritual Gift is Contortion
January 6, 2013 2:10 PM | Posted in:

We met as a congregation in our fourth location in the past 18 months, as we continue to deal with the inconveniences of a major remodeling/expansion program, complicated by a fire in end of the church not being worked on.

Today, we assembled in the auditorium of Midland Lee High School, a location where we expect to be every Sunday until construction is completed on the main campus in March. It's a pretty comfortable setting, and with a capacity of about 1,600 (including the balcony), it should accommodate our normal crowd. And the fact that its primary color scheme is maroon and white is an added plus for some of us (and one that God obviously approves of). 

Here's a photo of the stage and part of the floor, taken before the services from the camera stand where I set up shop this morning.


It's not without its inconveniences, however, especially from the media crew's perspective. While one of those challenges isn't a shaky camera stand, there are other issues. Take a look at this picture:

Another photo

See that "decorative" concrete shelf that runs the length of the auditorium wall, and how it appears to be right on top of the camera? Well, that's not all due to the perspective of the photo...that shelf is indeed almost on top of the camera. I spent almost the entire service with one shoulder touching the brick wall, with my head tilted slightly to the left as the right side of my noggin was up against the concrete.

Fortunately, while we're taping the services, we're not broadcasting them, so the general TV-viewing public will never experience the less-than-stellar camera/lighting/audio work that comes with the territory where everything must be assembled the night before, and then broken down and moved after the service, only to be repeated the next Sunday.

I'm confident the major bugs will be worked out, but it may be an interesting three months. And, of course, if hash tags had any relevance on the Gazette, the appropriate one for this post would be #1stworldproblems. Wish they were all that easy to cope with.

The real blessing is that our congregation continues to attract new members, regardless of where we're meeting. That might be a lesson worth dwelling on.

Elizabeth Cooks...musically speaking, that is
January 5, 2013 2:55 PM | Posted in:

If you don't listen to the Outlaw Country channel on Sirius XM*, you are likely not familiar with Elizabeth Cook, who hosts a daily program called Apron Strings**. Like most of the on-air "personalities" on that channel, she's also a professional musician, and an intriguing one at that.

I think of her as Carrie Underwood's evil twin. Both are blond and beautiful, with a blue-collar, small town upbringing and college degrees in non-music fields - Underwood: mass communication and journalism; Cook: accounting (yay!) and computer information systems (double yay!). That's where the similarity ends. Cook's music has a non-Nashville-slick sound and an occasional (frequent?) dark streak that makes it an acquired taste...and one that I've acquired.

She writes some edgy lyrics, like these from El Camino (about a guy who drives a 1972 "funky-a**" refurb), an ode to a decidedly non-yuppie relationship:

After Saturday matinee roller derby
We went parking and things got blurry
I thought man I can't get much hotter
And then I caught a whiff of piña colada
And we were making love in the disco era
And he was Travolta and I was Farrah
I was like man what is happening here
Dude must of put a quaalude in my beer
If I wake up married, I'll have to annul it
Right now my hands are in his mullet

It takes a special kind of mind to think about rhyming "annul it" with "mullet" and have it make perfect sense.

Here are a couple of songs that capture the essence of Elizabeth Cook. Both are from her album Welder, the title being a tribute to her father's occupation.

*I don't blame you for not listening to Outlaw Country. Some of the DJs (if that's what they're called nowadays) are vulgar, profane idiots (yes, I'm talking to you, Mojo Nixon). But they sure play some interesting music.

**I have no idea why she chose that name for her show; I suspect she's being ironic because she's hardly the poster child for the live-in-the-kitchen country mom stereotype. While she does occasionally share recipes, most of them involve a blender and tequila.

New Year Snow
January 4, 2013 5:16 PM | Posted in: ,

We didn't exactly get a blizzard in Midland (although parts of West Texas did get just that), but it was nice to wake up to a snow-covered view on our day off. I suspect that the back yard horny toad - who, by the way, is attracting way more coverage lately than he merits - probably would disagree.

Photo of snow-covered yard art

Since we don't get much snow in these parts, I like to try to get a few photos to illustrate how the phenomenon transforms our usual surroundings. Like, for instance, these pansies:

Photo of snow-covered pansies

You did recognize the pansies, right?

The snow on the roof had begun to melt, and the water dripping onto the back porch persuaded me to grab my new macro lens, with the following result:

Photo of bubble

I have a feeling that the new lens and I are going to have some fun in 2013.

Guardian Horny Toad
January 3, 2013 6:25 AM | Posted in: ,

Doves don't strike me as being the most intelligent members of the avian world, if only because of how often they seem to knock themselves silly by flying into our windows. But their silliness can also be sort of tranquil, in the right setting.

Photo - Dove and Yard Art

This guy (gal?) apparently decided he (she?) was among friends, regardless of the vaguely menacing and/or hungry look on the big metal horned lizard in our back yard. Perhaps he figured if the blue ants had survived, his chances were also pretty good.

Remembering Chris LeDoux
January 2, 2013 6:34 AM | Posted in:

I was listening to music on my iPad last weekend and Riding For A Fall came up on the playlist. It made me think about the great music provided by Chris LeDoux, and what we lost when he died of cancer in 2005.

LeDoux was a rare talent - a world champion rodeo cowboy and a six-million-record-selling musician whose high-energy shows inspired one Garth Brooks to up his onstage game. (And the way Brooks returned the favor is a great story in itself; scroll down the bio page linked above to read it.)

Following are three examples of his music. Riding For A Fall contains one of the great phrases in all of country music, and LeDoux writes about the downside of being and aging and ruggedly independent loner.

Why doncha turn back,
Just saddle up and backtrack
You know you'll never find a love quite like hers.
On a cold and lonesome evenin'
What the hell good's your freedom?
Don't you think it's time you hung up your spurs?

What'cha Gonna Do With A Cowboy was recorded as a duo with Garth and it, too, paints a pretty accurate picture of the challenges of living with one of those guys. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a video of the two of them doing the song; I'm guessing that the recording was a studio project only. (And here's a bit of Gazette trivia: in an inexplicable lapse of judgment several years back, I recorded my own version of this song and posted it on the blog. Fortunately for all, that post has somehow been "lost.")

The final video is For Your Love, and it shows a side of LeDoux that can only be described as zany. I think he and his band had a lot of fun making the vid, and while it's not the pinnacle of cinematic achievement, it's also a lot of fun for his fans.

RIP, Mr. LeDoux. Thanks for the songs, amigo.


Best Photos of 2012? Could be...
January 1, 2013 12:18 PM | Posted in:

As we stumble into a new year, a pleasant way to idle away some time is by looking at some really striking photos, and the aggregation website Twisted Sifter has assembled a pretty decent 2012 "Top 100" list.

I suspect there are a few that have been subjected to some Photoshop manipulation, but that shouldn't detract from their awesomeness. This one's real, though:

Photo - Green Vine Snake

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from January 2013 listed from newest to oldest.

December 2012 is the previous archive.

February 2013 is the next archive.

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