Another Year of Blogging in the Books

My how time flies these days.  It seems like less than a year ago I committed to this little project but in reality the end of this month marks my third year in the blogging community.  As probably all commitments that take a time investment, the blog content has morphed and expanded a few times, but the theme has remained steadfast.  It may have more entries on wildlife photography and a few new topics like projects and What is This, but they are all things that still intrigue me and hopefully something you find interesting as well.  To continue a year end tradition, I’m posting this summary of the year’s output (data does include this post as it is the 6th post of the month to hit my quota for another month).

  • According to the WordPress Stats: To Date Total Posts 246 and 101 comments
  • According to the WordPress Stats: This Year Total Posts 81 and 52 comments
  • Total blog pages this year (according to MS Word): 340
  • Total number of words this year (according to MS Word): 82,252
  • Post topics (some posts had multiple categories) 2010 / Total
    • Birds: 13 / 33
    • Fail: 0 / 3
    • General: 6 / 25
    • Insects: 2/2
    • Observation: 62 / 172
    • Phoadtography: 3/3
    • Products: 7 / 9
    • Projects: 5/5
    • Ramblings: 1/ 10
    • Recollection: 6 / 16
    • Service: 15 / 41
    • Uncategorized: 0 / 0
    • Wildlife: 29 / 46
    • WIT: 1/1
  • Blogs this year by month
    • Jan: 6
    • Feb: 6
    • Mar: 6
    • Apr: 6
    • May: 7 (bonus month)
    • Jun: 7 (bonus month)
    • Jul: 6
    • Aug: 7 (bonus month)
    • Sep: 6
    • Oct: 6
    • Nov: 6
    • Dec: 6
  • Writing style: conversational (although some service posts took an angry tone)
  • Most common grammatical error: Continuing to leverage Firefox to catch the easy spelling mistakes, but there are still some mistakes getting through.  I also copy all posts to MS Word for backup which does try to detect any grammar errors.  I have noticed a passion to use Do for Due, the misuse of To for Too and my thought stream seems to be outpacing my fairly proficient typing skills causing some small words to be skipped.  This year I decided to re-read all my posts before submitting them (which I ABSOLUTELY hate doing because it feels like I’m back in school) and probably the most helpful, Linda started reading my posts and pointed out a number of mistakes (sometimes with a little too much passion).   Oh, and I do retain all rights to make words up (if Palin can do it, I can do it).
  • Number of WordPress uprades:1 in July – I need to upgrade again, but will make that a task for the new year
  • Number of reference links used: 59
  • Number of images used:  (note, all posts but one had at least one graphic in it hitting my goal – note, missing one was just an update saying my Internet was down and was part of a 7 post month)
    • Wildlife Photos – 206  (oh yeah)
    • Other Photos – 101
    • Custom Graphics – 48
    • TOTAL: 355 (wow)
  • Languages uses: 1 (unless you count Engrish and Brigrish)
  • Completed Life List Items: 6
    • Ran the Steamboat 4mile  – experienced a significant injury this year which held me back on some running goals
    • Ran the BIX7 – (another year another medal)
    • Blogging for a third year hitting my self-imposed 6 post/month quota including three months with an extra post
    • Transforming a portion of my woods into a park setting – including a new trail
    • Constructing a bridge – put the finishing touches on it this year and it is still holding strong
    • Establishing a photo website (
  • Maintained convictions: 5
    • Never giving Metallica a penny of my money (still not a dime)
    • Ban from RIAA backed musicians
    • Not giving Sprint a dime of my money
    • Lost 12 pounds
    • Made it back from a significant running injury
  • Posted 78 more items than my brother over at Dead Reckonings (he clocked in at 3 again this year) – Of course, this number is significantly skewed when considering quality where his posts make mine look like scraps of trash.  Maybe this year I’ll finally give him a run for the money… yeah, I laughed at that as well.
  • Personal Revelations:
    • My graphic output was definitely through the roof.  A lot of this is due to finally getting my photo website up and running.  From a progression perspective the shots are definitely improving but there is ALWAYs room for improvement.  Having this blog to document the technical aspects and feelings regarding the photos has provided an excellent way to put a historical perspective on the work.
    • My disposition is still on the sarcasm side and my political angst has shown through in a number of posts (there might be a brightspot in the coming year, but I’m not holding my breath)
    • My bad service experiences are still on the rise and the top of that list is my disappointment with BMW.  They have now officially lied to me 3 times (once to my face) regarding a payment they promised and at this point my relationship with the local dealership is all but destroyed.
    • Continue to leverage my elective psychology classes
    • Our woods provides a great amount of enjoyment – it is hard work, but the lot is beginning to resemble the grand plans I made for it after walking the lot the first time trying to decide if this was the right investment for us.
    • Track record for New Year’s resolution is going quite well, but need to fully recover from the running injury to keep meeting those goals

As was the case last year, I think it was a better product this year.  I would love to have more comments and hoping this year will bring in more subscribers and feedback.  I did hit the century mark for comments this month which was very satisfying.  Next year’s resolutions are still in the percolation stage but blogging will likely be part of it (not sure of the quotas yet since this year it was a struggle each month).   If there is one area that I’d like to improve on is decreasing the time when a blog topic occurs and when it makes it to this post.  Not sure how to do this yet due to the backlog, but I might decided to make my topic list a LIFO queue instead of a FIFO queue.

In closing, another big thanks to everyone that took the time to check in on my ramblings.  There is some definite energy expended to keep this site going but it is pretty cool to look back and see what had caught my attention during the course of a year.  This is the reason my posts started having a little blurb before getting into the subject matter in order to put a little context into what was going around me at the time.  There are a lot of interesting things (both good and bad) going on in the world and this blog forces me to be a little more aware of that activity.   The odds are this will continue so hopefully you will all make it back to my little space on the i-superhighway.

A Prophecy Becomes Reality

Just a short blurb and not even counting this as a real post.  This is just a followup to a recent post of mine regarding a recent experience at Bar Louie located at our local outdoor mall.  If you recall, that experience was not a favorable one and put a slight damper on our special night out.  One thing I didn’t mention is that we ordered an appetizer.  In somewhat of a surprise, our waitress mentioned she didn’t know if they had any of those left … because they had been so busy … but would check on them.  She ended up bringing some out to us and the event was pretty much forgotten.  As I was running on the treadmill today, my wife came down and read the following from the paper:

“At Bar Louie, which is also at the Shoppes [of Grand Prairie] a small handmade sign at the restaurant said it was closed.  The phone did not ring Tuesday at Bar Louie, and an official with the company that manages the Shoppes at Grand Prairie declined to comment.”

Well, there you have it and needless to say, neither of us are surprised.  The depressing thing is while we were there I think someone came in and ordered two $25 gift cards.  I did not hear all of the conversation, but I did hear “would you like that as two ?$ or one $50.  The response was two and the bartender went to the register.  I sure hope this guy wasn’t stuck with those as a result of this closing and if that bartender knew the situation beforehand he’s as guilty of theft as the owner is.  Oh, as I was wondering aloud if the new Jillian’s at that mall might have caused their closing, Linda responded with:  “By they way, they [Jillian’s] were  in the paper recently for failing their health inspection”.

Things don’t seem to be so “Grand” anymore at that particular mall.

Phoadtography Gallery: Maine Trip 2010 Pt 2

Time to close out this year’s posts.  With only the remaining year end summary left, this post essentially puts the finishing touches on the 2010 blog entries.  As with Part I of this Phoadtography Gallery this set comes with a healthy dose of photos as well.  The good news is this closes out all the road shots from the Maine trip allowing me to start fresh with the new year.  Unfortunately, I was unable to get through all the Maine photos (off the road) and now even farther behind with the recent Vegas/Mt Zion trip we took a month ago.   Oh well, plenty in the hopper for 2011 (should I choose to continue this activity for next year). Time’s a wasting, let’s get to the shots.

This should not be a surprise, but I have an affinity towards bridges.  The exact reason is difficult to tell since it is difficult to pin down exactly when I started admiring these structures.  Having built one now, this appreciation has definitely increased.  If pressed, I’d have to say that the fusion of artistic characteristics and functional purpose entwined in physics and math is the compelling factor.  This might be similar to some people’s fascination with sundials seeing how ornate and complex those functional timepieces can be.  This particular bridge has all of the classic features of bridge with its arches, triangles (notice the vertical beams are not straight up and down) and the cross hatch underneath to keep it rigid.  With the height of this beast, there are probably large ships traversing this waterway.

This particular bridge still confuses me in the sense I am unable to figure out the functional component.  It appears to go absolutely nowhere and the railing on the end suggests there was no plan for it to go anywhere.  The metal structure towards the middle of the bridge is interesting as well.  First thought was it rotated in some manner and connected up to another span allowing for easy traversal of the waterway.  This sounds good in theory, but there did not seem to be a pivot point or any span to hook up to.  It is a mystery and if anyone is near 194.75 and knows anything about this, please leave a comment.

Hit the jump to see the rest of the Phoadtography gallery.

Continue reading Phoadtography Gallery: Maine Trip 2010 Pt 2

A Christmas Scorn

Merry Christmas Everyone! Best wishes for a safe and happy holidays. Our plans for today were altered slightly due to a Linda’s mom coming down a little ill, so figured I’d make a quick post. In honor of the season, thought it would be a perfect time to post on a funny situation that occurred a mere two days ago. Linda and I decided to go out for our Christmas dinner a few nights early since the weather was looking a little iffy (ended up getting at least 6″ yesterday and even plowed for a second time today as it continued to fall well into the night). Electing to go with casual attire, we chose to eat at Bar Louie in our outdoor mall. Convinced that the wait would be extensive, it would also give us a chance to pick up some last minute gifts. The first oddity of the night occurred when we walked into the establishment. The wait time ended up being the length of time it took to tell the hostess whether we wanted a booth or a table. There were at most 10 people in the whole place with most of those sitting at the bar. If we had to guess there were at least 30 empty tables. We both looked at each other and both had a flash we had missed a health report or something. Committed, we sat down and made our order noting that it was special day so both our diets were out the door. In the end it didn’t matter since I only ate half of my food and ended up eating some of Linda’s instead (note, if the hamburger is too charbroiled for me to eat, it isn’t fit to be served – especially annoying since they didn’t even ask me how I wanted it cooked). The “lack of customers” mystery was quickly solved.

It did allow us plenty of time to shop afterward. The ever-efficient shopper Linda was either feeling the effects of the supper or was just in a good mood knowing her shopping responsibilities had already been completed. This manifested in a night of sarcastic comments and humor as I desperately tried to find the perfect Christmas gift. I was also trying to get Linda to pick out few gifts for herself, since she gave me a wish list with a whopping 6 or 7 items on it that I was forced to give to others who were looking for gifts. I had threatened a Chia Pet or The Clapper if she didn’t give me any additional ideas. After a few stops we ended up at Barnes and Noble and by that time Linda was on a roll pointing out a number of gift options in jest. As we turned the corner Linda spots this:

hit the jump to see the rest of the story.

Continue reading A Christmas Scorn

Phoadtography Gallery: Maine Trip 2010 Pt 1

This year is quickly coming to a close, but the blog queue is still deep with 2010 photo collections.  I try to keep it fresh and maintain a balance of photos, interesting viewpoints, service complaints/rants and things that make me go huh?  Linda and I were lucky enough to go on some pretty nice trips this year which means our hard drives have been riddled with photos this year.  It is far easier to make comments on things if they are still in short term memory so rather than push this off to next year, let’s go ahead and dump the Phoadtography collection from the Maine trip we took in June.  There are a lot of them so be warned, your browser cache is going to get a workout.  For sanity purposes (yours and mine) this post will actually be a two parter.  For those who don’t know what Phoadtography is please check out my previous post… especially if you are preparing to unleash your fury on how bad some of these shots ended up being.

Starting off this set is every kid’s favorite toys and more importantly, the machines that pay both our salaries.  Guessing due to the stimulus money (that actually got spent on job creating projects), we encountered a lot of construction on our way out and back to Maine.  Most travelers probably cuss the slow downs and stoppages, but in the case of my wife and I the sound of Caterpillar machines in motion is music to our ears.  As mentioned in the introduction Cat machines are always a good target for Phoadtography shots.  This vehicle is one of our articulated trucks that, if I remember correctly, are produced in Waco TX.

Pretty cool machine if I say so myself.  Hit the jump to see the rest of the pictures in this post.

Continue reading Phoadtography Gallery: Maine Trip 2010 Pt 1

Beware the Urban Ninja

Remember me, I’m the dude that is suppose to have 6 posts a month yet it is nearly Christmas and the tally is stuck at a lousy one.  Of course, there is another more “half full” way to look at it which is 67 out of 72 in the books already with another New Year’s commitment about to get the checkmark.  Truth is things have been busy as of late, but Friday was my last day of work this year which leaves me plenty of time to pound on the keyboard.  Which brings me to tonight’s quick post.  Linda and I were up in the Quad Cities yesterday to have Christmas dinner (actually to be more accurate, Christmas lunch) with her side of the family.  Linda’s middle brother lives in Bettendorf IA which is minutes away from our favorite place to take eagle pictures.  With the cameras all packed, we left an hour early to give us some time to see if this year’s eagles had made their way down yet.

Unfortunately, I only saw two eagles.  One ended up flying over us and landing in the trees at the other end of the parking lot.  Creeping over there in my best ninja impersonation provided about 5 “bird on a stick” shots.  By the last shot, he was clearly staring at me rather intently before deciding his wings gave a significant advantage over the land dwellers and left for the safety somewhere out in the Mississippi River.  Stupid me didn’t have the camera configured to my preferred in flight settings making it difficult to get shots as he flew directly over my head.  Eventually another decided to check out the fish options nearby, but again, no shots worth bragging about.  I did walk down a little and say hello to another photographer that had set up along the river.  After some lens envy (always impressed by the $6K+ fast glass some people haul out there).  According to that photographer there were 10 eagles nesting in a nearby set of trees, but another photography couple had decided to walk directly out to those trees and scared them all away.  They were on their way back over while I was talking to the guy.  Guessing the dude wasn’t too happy about that since he literally stared at them the entire time they were walking back past him until they were in their car heading out.  Keep in mind, it was about 1 degree out and he was probably staking out that location for some time.  I always try to be conscious of other photographers in the area and respect their positions especially if they were there before me.  For the curious, I verified there were no other photographers taking pictures of the eagle I saw at the end of the lot, otherwise the approach would have been delayed.

Guessing at this point that it is still a little early for the best eagle watching.  After about 10 more minutes I called it a shoot and headed back to the car where Linda and the dogs were waiting patiently.  Another car pulled into the area just as I reached the edge of the lot.  Something seemed odd about it, but had difficulty pinning it down.  Nothing really unique or special about the car, in fact, it was a pretty boring 4 door in a champagne or off silver color.  There were no stickers or ornate hangings from the rear view mirror that would interest me either.  As I started to turn back to our car it became clear why the brain alarm was going off.  The front license plate was covered in a camouflage cloth.  It was also done with care since it was perfectly wrapped and tight fitting like a package.  Although I was trying n0t to stare since the car was right next to me and the owner was still inside, it did seem like it was actually more like a shower cap of sorts that had elastic on the backside which held it tight to the plate bracket.  Okay, now I am totally curious.  Is this some kind of car ninja all decked out in clever urban camo?  Maybe he’s like a transporter and wants to remain stealth like or worse here to kill me, take my camera and throw my lifeless carcass into the frozen river.  Conscious of the latter option I headed back to our SUV.  Once inside I informed Linda of the interesting situation, but it didn’t seem to be as intriguing to her as it was to me.  Needing to get to her brother’s, she backed out and headed to the exit.  As we passed the car, the first thing I noticed was it had a rear license plate (Iowa) that wasn’t covered up at all.  At the same time the owner of the car got out revealing he was probably in his late 60’s early 70’s causing an internal chuckle since my own ninja skilz would have kept me safe and sound.  This whole things still interests me and still kicking myself for not trying to get a shot for you.  Linda’s conclusion was that he didn’t want his car being photographed by the traffic cameras in the Quad Cities and therefore put the cover on the front.  I’d almost buy this under the assumption the traffic cameras only took head-on shots, but guessing they also take a rear shot just in case.  Secondly, and more importantly, it is mandatory in Iowa (like Illinois) to have a front license plate, so actually he is putting himself in a more likely position to get pulled over and given a ticket by any of the local police forces.

Probably reading more into this than there really is, but I’m all about the weird and this discovery fits the bill.  Any of you have theories on this you would like to share?  If not, I’m going with the discovery of an urban ninja using his clever skilz to live among us without detection (this includes the old guy disguise).  For what evil purposes is still unclear, but clearly lucky to be alive today to tell about it.

Stoner Poodle

For a couple of weeks our youngest toy poodle, Rizzi, has been having some difficulties. He was diagnosed previously as having pancreatitis which has caused him to be on a special diet. At first we thought it was just another flair up that would eventually calm down, but he was continually struggling when he went outside and started having some accidents in the house. Since the symptoms seemed to be getting worse we decided to take him to see his vet. This is what they found:

In case you are not a doctor or stay at Holiday Inn Express, this is a sonogram of Rizzi’s bladder. For ease I went ahead and outlined it. See that huge mass in the middle of that outline? That is, unfortunately, a bladder stone and as you can tell, it’s relatively large in context of the overall bladder size. It was also one with sharp edges all around it which actually gives a clue to the issue – apparently there are smooth ones and sharp ones depending on whether the issue is due to being too acidic or too base (can’t remember which is which right now). Definitely too big to pass and the edges would make it extremely painful. The only course of action was surgery, so with sadness I had to drop him off on Friday to get the procedure done. Having also dropped him off for the pre-exam earlier in the week I have probably slid about 30 notches in his “like” scale. Of course Linda got to rescue him on those two occasions so she’ll surely score this upcoming Valentine’s Day.

Hit the jump to see how the surgery went.

Continue reading Stoner Poodle