Throwing for a Loop

Guess I’ve waited long enough to get this post out.  Time to close this month out on the blog quota and might as well get this one over with.  At the beginning of this month I participated in the annual running of Springdale Cemetery.  Think this might be my fourth running of this grueling half and I knew this one was going to be tougher than usual before the starting gun ever went off.  If you recall this was the first long race since the heat stroke incident.  I was back up to 12 miles a couple of times in the weeks leading up to the race, but none of those did I really feel good about.
IVS Half Marathon 2014

Either the splits were way off or the body would panic at the 7 or 8 mile mark and just drench my entire body with sweat almost instantly – likely overreacting to internal temps.  The doctors informed me that my body would be impacted by the incident and I’d even be more susceptible to heat issues in the future.  All things considered, I had the training miles in so there was some confidence I could finish buuuuuuut…..

IVS Half Marathon 2014

The second to last week before the race I caught the Peoria Plague.  Somewhere around 12 days before the race I lost my voice.  A few days later came down with a sore throat and thing I started feeling awful.  Still tried to get some of the taper runs in but skipped a few and cut the others down in hopes of preventing it from sinking too far in.  No luck, 3 days before the race I was dead on sick.  In a last ditch effort I stayed down all day Friday and Saturday in hopes of maximizing whatever energy I had for the race Sunday.  The morning was at hand, went through all the pre-race prep activities and even made a point to grab the shirt my brother had made for me.  In recognition of my incident and  my distaste for Globull Warming, he got me this!

IVS Half Marathon 2014

In case you can’t read it, it says “Victim of Global Warming” – the front has a two people carrying a person on a gurney – LOVE IT!  By start time I was feeling okay. The race packet indicated they changed the course this year and based on my calcs there was not enough water stops and the ones they had were spaced further than I wanted.  One of the changes I had made since the incident was to take a lot more water and more frequently.  To compensate for that I decided to carry my own water with me.

… and the traditional start picture – even not feeling 100% doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy at least the start – obviously the lady to my left did not approve of my carefree attitude hehehe.  Oh, and race skirts need to go just for the record.

IVS Half Marathon 2014

Hit the jump to see how this one turns out (hint .. not good)

Continue reading Throwing for a Loop

One Awesome V-Day Gift

For all those Globull Warmers errr Climate Change .. or how about Season Deniers out there, figured I’d go with a little SNOW in September (and celebrate 17 years and 11 months of NO Globull Warming – not to mention NOAA having to restate that 2012 was NOT the hottest year ever instead it was something like 1937).  I’ve actually been meaning to get to this post for some time now and finally found a few cycles to do some badly needed work in the digital darkroom.  This happened to be one of those rare times when I get so excited during a shoot that I overlooked some essential techniques.  The result is a slightly soft set but that is a small price to pay for the huge smile that it generated then and every time I get the chance to look back on the products.  To cut through the suspense, I give you a cherished new checkmark in the Ol’ Bird List!
Snowy Owl

In case you for some reason you don not recognize this particular bird of prey, it is the Snowy Owl.  Let me add some emphasis on that … my #2 on my most wanted list Snowy Owl!!!  Well, technically it became my #1 on the list having checked off the previous #1 on a trip in 2013 (someday I’ll get to that post as well).  Two of my highly coveted birds checked off in less than a year Woot!

Snowy Owl

As you might have figured out from the title, I owe a big thanks to Linda for this prized bird.  On Valentine’s Day, Linda hands me a notecard with some writing on it.  Thinking that was kinda of an odd gift I started to read it and about had a heart attack.  She had found a sighting online of this majestic bird relatively close to us and was willing to help hunt it down.  How cool is that – what can I say, somebody loves me.  We had talked a number of times about going up to Chicago where some people were posting pictures of one they found up there.  That is a fairly long drive for us especially if we were to fail to locate one.  We were actually waiting for my brother to make a quick walk down there and snap a photo for us since he already lived in the City … save us the hassle of driving all the way up there… hmmm we are actually still waiting for those pictures .. some lame excuse about it being too cold or something (he is an avid reader of this blog so feel free to use the comments to chastise him for that elitist Chicago attitude.)

Snowy Owl

Hit the jump to read more about this uber cool bird of prey!

Continue reading One Awesome V-Day Gift

Welcome to Benny

Wordpress 4.0 Upgrade It’s cause for celebration here at LifeIntrigued.  5 years ago to the month (the month coincidence being a complete surprise when I did a quick search) I went through the scary and stressful process of upgrading the WordPress engine that powers this blog.  My complete admiration to the WordPress developers for putting out a solid product that hasn’t failed me once in that timeframe.  From one developer to another .. bang up job!  During the course of those 5 years there has been a number of upgrades that were released but when something is working perfectly you generally don’t risk destabilizing it.  There is one situation that does cause concern and that is when a security issues is identified and that is exactly what happened about a month back.  My provider (Go Daddy) informed me that my site was vulnerable to takeover and highly recommended upgrading immediately.  To that point I had not discovered any issues, but about a week after that my site was being pounded by spam comments all written in Chinese.  Akismet successfully caught every one of them but it was unnerving and the timing with the vulnerability was too close to ignore.  7 years of blogging wasn’t something I wanted to risk losing so started the long process of backing up the control files and then started investigating what it was going to take to perform the upgrade – the last time was fairly involved and assumed I needed to dedicate some time to learning what to do.  During that investigation I learned that the last upgrade included a new upgrade tool that basically did all the work for you.  Could this be too good to be true… well, let’s just say the actual upgrade process took me an amazing 10 minutes to complete and most of that time was simply validating the upgrade.  Once again the WordPress crew have delivered a top notch product.  The blog is now officially at release level Benny or more precisely WordPress 4.0 which was released on Sept 4th.  I probably won’t hesitate to stay a little more current on releases from this point on but for now this one happy blogger.  If you experience any user problems let me know and I look into it.  I went through all features I use to develop posts and previewed the outputs but I actually see a slightly different view of the reader’s perspective that has a few more controls for me to manage the content.

When a Wren Isn’t Just a Wren

I’m having some serious concerns about a race I have this Sunday.  It’s time for the annual IVS Half Marathon in the hills of Springdale Cemetery.  Even when I’m healthy this race can take its toll on me, evident by last year’s struggle in the frying pan (link here).  Unfortunately I fell victim to the Peoria Plague last Saturday and I just can’t seem to shake it.  This week was a big project at work which didn’t give me much time to nurse it, so it sunk its teeth in deep.  Hit my last 12+ miler last Friday, missed my 8 miles taper last Sunday, did hit my 6 mile taper Tuesday but felt like crap afterwards and then decided against the 4  mile run  scheduled for yesterday.  Suck Suck Suck.  Topping it off I messed up my back sometime this week .. Suck Suck Double Suck.  I worked from home today to force myself to keep down and opted for a quick adjustment at the chiro in an attempt to get that calmed down.  Back feels much better now (legs were an inch off.. would have been running in circles ha) and some light at the end of the tunnel on the plague.  I primarily breathe through my mouth during the run so that mitigates some of the stuffiness.  One more day of doing nothing (which absolutely kills me) and hopefully my temple will be whole again – keeping the fingers crossed.  Figured I’d crank out a happy post to keep my mind off of the race.

Noticed this bird while reviewing the Red Rock Canyon shots in the digital darkroom.  I initially passed it off as a House Wren and set it to the side noting the execution on the shots was less than stellar.  I have them around here anyway and even featured one during Project Chekov (link here).

At the time I didn’t really think much about it until one day I was looking through the bird references when I came to the House Wren section.  Something caught my eye which made me hesitate a bit.  Something was amiss but couldn’t put my finger on it.  Tail up, wings sharp and down.  Even had the spotting on the wings and tail feathers.  Nothing to strange but the spidy senses were on full on alert.  What the hell?  Decided there was a kink in the system and started turning the page….and then it came to me.  Quickly flipping back to the House Wren confirmed my deduction.  The page I turned to featured the Bewick’s Wren.

Find out the details on this bird after the jump!

Continue reading When a Wren Isn’t Just a Wren

A Vegas Photo Drive

It has been awhile since I’ve brought out a Phoadtography post!  So far you’ve been subjected to shots from the Vegas skyline, shots of Vegas from a photo walk and it just seems fitting that I close out the Vegas scene with a traditional “photos from the road” collection.  For those not familiar with the concept of Phoadtography, it is pretty simple.  Linda drives and I take shots of interesting things – in between my expert navigation duties of course.  To start us off on our little excursion I bring you the prototypical Sin City billboard…

I marveled at the genius of this particular advertisement.  It has so many alternative takes – are they talking about the Vegas Strip, the common theme of stripper shows in Vegas, how to strip a gun down and put it back for cleaning or don’t even think about stripping me of my Second Amendment rights.  This sign must make gun control advocates shake in their house slippers.  One goal activity Linda and I have not been able to cross off is to hit the Gun Store and fire off some (okay, maybe A LOT) of rounds from an automatic rifle – yummy goodness!

“Who ya’ Gonna Call?”

Clearly this was taken closer to the downtown area where these kinds of businesses are everywhere.  Almost as common as drive up wedding chapels.  Based on the vehicle outside of this place, business is good.  What happens in Vegas .. stays on your arrest record.

Hit the jump to see a few more shots!

Continue reading A Vegas Photo Drive

Send in the Scrubs

Taking a quick recovery break from last night’s final long training run.  The IVS half is coming up in a week and start my taper tomorrow.  I wasn’t able to get the desired 10 mile run in due to a swarm of lightning that convinced me to bail out a mile early.  Last weekend a lightening bolt took a 5 inch chunk out of my neighbor’s huge oak tree from top to bottom –  a helpful reminder not to roll the dice with nature.  9 miles should be fine for race day prep .. besides, the last mile or so I was pushing it to make it back to the truck before it let loose.  Not one to just sit around just watching the boob tube (although the Illini are kicking butt), thought it would be a good time to crank out a post!

Unlike the previous post. today’s featured bird didn’t take long to lock in an identification.  If you haven’t noticed a theme yet, the birds of late have all been from our Red Rock Canyon in Nevada shoot.  This is a wonderful park not far from Las Vegas and a standard stop for us when we haul our photography equipment out there.  Definitely a good place to add to your Birding List if you are light on your land birds – which I happen to be at the moment… although building fast.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the Western Scrub-Jay

Pretty cool looking bird with the white eyebrow liner and the white speckled in the throat area.  When the bird list was checked it was discovered that there was a question mark in the check box.  This usually means a possible ID was made but lacking a good confirmation.  Similar to the Gray Vireo and Townsend Solitaire which both have question marks in their check box until the bird in the previous post is officially confirmed (still looking for some help on that by the way).

The question indicator resulted in a quick search of the blog to figure out where it was previously referenced.  Looks like there were two possible sightings – one in 2008 (link here) and one in 2010 (link here).  Reviewing those two possible shots, the conclusion is neither one of those is a Western Scrub-Jay.  Not sure what the 2008 one is yet, but the 2010 is most likely a Clark’s Nutcracker.  So good news, I can replace that question mark with a solid check now.

Time for the classic EddieSoft pose…

Hit the jump to see a few more shots of the Western Scrub-Jay

Continue reading Send in the Scrubs