Hello everyone! Decided to bring you something different to start the new year off right. The cell phone has revolutionized how society communicates on a daily basis. Some would say that we have come too far as it permeates every aspect of our lives (well, at least the newer generation’s) You cannot deny that these super computers that we hold in our hands have had a positive impact, the ability to call for help, private navigation help for those too proud to ask for directions or dread having to fold up those damn paper maps and of course the benefit of having your runs tracked and analyzed is a godsend for those of us who strive to go further/faster on every training run. However, there is another big benefit – BLOG FODDER! Thanks to those convenient built in cameras, mistakes, oddities and things that make us go hmmm (credit CJ for coining that term) can be captured with ease. I find myself taking pictures of things ALL the time in hopes of finding time to sharing a few laughs to help get us through stressful days. So, have a laugh or two on me:
Holy crap, there’s an opening for my dream job – the Chick-fil-A Cow Mascot. If they only knew I’d do it for free. It does make me wonder about their leadership opportunities – I pictured their corporate office being filled with people in cow costumes. Note, my brother Ron has been invited to tour their corporate offices thanks to their reward program and his love for chicken. Hoping he will be able to confirm the above vision… and get pictures!
We stopped to get a quick bite at one of our local McDonald’s. Truthfully, I can barely stomach their hamburgers these days. We do not put extra salt on any of our foods so we might be more sensitive than usual, but their hamburgers taste like salt blocks. While there I notice the giant “take the survey on your receipt” signage plastered right behind the register. Didn’t think much about it until I looked around the corner and saw their handwritten results. Apparently the surveys says 61% – good job there…NOT.
Hit the jump to see a bunch more finds over the past year or so.
Continue reading Hmmms and Fails Cornucopia
At some point in the previous year I must have forgotten how much time these blog summaries take. Not so much the high level commentary, but gathering up all the year end statistics rivals the daunting 50K. Oh, did I mention I checked the 50K off my life list -yeah, I did that ha! Truthfully, 2019 turned out to be one of those years I’ll probably try hard to put past me. Something tells me it will keep flashing into conscious for some time. The running addiction sent me to the doctor earlier in the year thanks to a marksman hornet/bee that nailed by spine and then I lost a battle with the Heat Miser that landed me in the ER with a set of shiny new staples. Watching Linda go through her surgery and recovery still takes the top spot on my stressful experiences – a distinction that doesn’t come lightly based on some of life’s challenges that fill the rest of that list. Then there’s still trying to keep my emotions in check whenever a random event triggers a cherished memory with my father. Fortunately for me, blogging is the best therapy for the money. It has been a fantastic grounding that allows me to document my thoughts, events, opinions, adventures, accomplishments and progression on the things that intrigue me in this thing called life – the fact that the completion of 2019 represents the 12th consecutive year of producing the flagship LifeIntrigued and its offshoot WildlifeIntrigued is testament to the joy it brings me. Through this effort, I’ve been able to meet new friends across the world, share experiences, explore differing perspectives and learn about their cultures and hobbies from their own blogging efforts – ex: CJ has introduced me to the world of canoeing/kayaking, adventures in the Netherlands and St Louis zombies (https://thecedarjournal.com/blog/ ) – B has been ramping up my Butterfly/Dragonfly/Birding knowledge from the UK while taking me to places like the Berlin Wall that seemed so far away from my stomping grounds in the broke state of Illinois (https://blhphotoblog.wordpress.com/blog/). A big thanks to all you birding bloggers out there that challenge me every day to get better at my photography craft and special gratitude to all those that take the time to read my musings, comment and show your appreciation through likes. Shout out to Brad M. who catches all my typos so I at least appear halfway credible.
Even with some of the downsides in ’19 there were still some very bright spots that I can’t overlook. Seeing Linda on the upside of her recovery brings a big smile to me every time I see her. Can’t wait to witness her tear up the dog agility competitions now that she can keep up with Raven. On the personal front, getting the 50K trail checked off was big for me. Failure doesn’t sit well with me and being able to recover and redeem myself in a little more than 3 months took some pushing (especially with all the chaotic things happening during that time). Add to that the 17 (at least) new checks on the NA bird list (link here) which kept me in striking reach of Ron (yes, he who owes me bigly ha!). Was able to meet up with Ron for some local birding adventures (and one not so local) – always fun times to be had in the field and going through the tins trying to ID the day’s haul. Goal this year is for me to get him posting more on his own blog (link here). He was the catalyst for me to start this whole blog endeavor 12 years ago. Although the surgery limited us on our usual travel, Linda and I were able to catch a few short trips allowing for some good birding opportunities that have filled up the blog hopper for likely years to come (Lake Tahoe, Henderson NV, St. Louis) as well as quick excursions to local hotspots. I promise to try and get those tins posted at a fresher rate this year. If nothing else, having just celebrated another birthday it is starting to limit how far back I can easily recall.
Keeping with tradition, it’s time to look back at the year’s output and self-evaluate. Did I hit my self-imposed monthly quota, did my photography show progress and what posts intrigued my readers ..or more important which topics missed the mark. So with that, I bring you the 2019 year end summary. If you are curious, hit the jump below to see the individual stats and accomplishments. Thanks again for all your help throughout the year and for spending precious time on my little project. Can’t wait to see what intriguing things 2020 throws at us. Fingers crossed I’ll be able to get you crispy pictures in the tin to share.
And now, the annual stats for the year’s worth of blogging.
Hit the jump to see the 2019 stats!
Continue reading An Even Dozen
Greetings from the white tundra. For those curious (and hopefully in warmer climates) it is currently 3F out with 18 mph winds with warnings of windchill temps below 20F. A far cry from the relative desert like conditions the Texas Gulf Coast is getting at the moment – although I did think it would be warmer than high 50’s/lows 60’s. Time for Linda and I to get back in our RV and get our butts to some warmer settings ha! I have been holding off on talking about our holiday activities, but most of you know we once again headed back to the Texas border for a little R and R after a rather rough ’19. Kicked the year off right birding the Gulf Coast and checking our favorite spots along the Rio Grande. It will be a while before the fruits of that endeavor get fit for consumption 3..4..5..6 years…hehehe..
In the meantime, thought I would go with the bird that has a lock at the top of my list for favorite North American birds. Now, a bit of this decision was based on the fact if you read my previous bird post you should already be standing about 10 feet away from your monitor. Hoping that is sufficient distance to make these pictures somewhat viewable – keep thinking to yourself that there’s at least one bird somewhere in the shot – to help you out, it is white and really tall. These birds top out in the 5 foot range and command attention whenever in their presence. Reminds of the traveling basketball team for the Great Egrets.
Take a few brief steps toward the keyboard and hit the jump to read more about these Cranes (then quickly take a step back).
Continue reading Standing Tall in the Aftermath of Tragedy
Christmas is officially over and the New Year festivities have calmed down. That can only mean one thing around here at Intrigued – yep stress time as we only have about 9 months to get prepped for this year’s Haunted Halloween Trail. Already looking tight and worried we will once again be scrambling to get all the new decorations built and the haunt layout planned in time. To help get me in the mood figured it was finally time to get a post out on a decoration I built for the 2018 trail.
I already walked you through the witch construction (link here) – those made their appearance back on the 2017 trail. The initial scene just had a cauldron sitting on the ground in the middle of the circle. Had an idea to kick it up a bit for the 2018 version. A cauldron isn’t going to get too hot if it is just sitting on the ground… what to do … what to do… oh yeah, let’s add some fire (append your own Tim the Tool Man grunts). Getting the cauldron off the ground was pretty easy – thankfully because I left that design to the very end. Ron and I were busy finishing up the final decoration prep the night before the main event. After a quick build of the Nightwing stand – if I remember correctly that was around midnight (link here) – looked down at the to-do list and remembered the cauldron stand. Happened to look over and noticed a bunch of 3/8″ grey PVC conduit laying against the garage wall. Problem solved. Grabbed three pieces and some twine and went about connecting them at one end. Finished if off with three more lines to hold the cauldron. Patted myself on the back when I remembered I had adjustable eyehook connectors laying around from a previous build. Hooked those on the end of the support strings and then connected to the cauldron in the three newly drilled holes. In case it didn’t click, the adjustable hooks allowed me to get the cauldron leveled without playing games trying to get the strings tied evenly.
Hit the jump to see how the fire prop was constructed.
Continue reading Hang Fire
We are closing out a long two weeks of travel with an agility show at the Purina grounds near St. Louis MO. Usually these shows drive me crazy with the amount of downtime involved. Get the agility course set, receive instructions from the event judge, walk the course to become familiar with it, wait for your dog’s turn in the ring, enjoy the maximum of 2 minutes of excitement as Raven leads Linda through the obstacles, watch Raven bask in the post run accolades and then sit for what seems hours as the rest of the dogs compete and they start setting for the next round. Absolutely brutal especially since this is really Linda’s thing as I am the designated Sherpa. It is a great feeling to see Linda back on her feet and enjoying herself in the ring again – it was getting rough leading up to the surgery as I could tell she was really struggling to get through the stop and start sprinting between the obstacles – looks harder than my ultra marathon. This time I could use the rest to get the batteries recharged again and the downtime means I get a chance to pound out some posts – yeah!
Was checking the post queue and decided I would break down and go with one that has been in there for a while. Each time I considered going with it I decided the execution was too poor and opted to wait. Unfortunately, the soft images are of a bird I have yet to checked off my official list and I need to push my counter up (hmmm, wonder why). So, without further delay, take a few steps back from your monitor so these images of a nonbreeding Blue Grosbeak do not look so bad.
Hit the jump if you really want to see some more soft shots of Mr. Blue.
Continue reading A Softer Side of Blue
Greetings all once again! Starting to get in the groove of the new year now that the “Ron Owes Me Bigly” mission is coming to closure – not the “owes me” part, rather the initial mission part. He’s in the midst of doing some packing, but I am sure as soon as that settles down, he will be getting those fingers oiled up and letting everyone know about said mission in due time… nudge, nudge. Meanwhile my immediate mission is to get the photo queue whittled down a bit.
Thought I’d go ahead and get the big boys out of the way – well, at least some of the pictures in the hopper of the American White Pelican. Whitey is one of those species we have easy access to in the heartland. Cornell documents their regional map as breeders across our northern border and spotty locations in the west with a wintering destination along our southern border. Then they got out their yellow crayon and colored everything in between for migration. Truth is, we can find this full-bodied birds patrolling our waterways pretty regularly outside of the dead of winter.
Hit the jump to read and see a bit more about this tank of a bird.
Continue reading More Days in White Feathers
So, how does the old Samuel Clemens quip go – “reports of my death are greatly exaggerated”. Although, I will admit, I had always remembered it as “rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated”. I prefer my version, apparently it was just a derivation. Hell, even the original quote seems mistaken as Mr. Twain scribed it as “the report of my death was an exaggeration”. Apparently watching the Jeopardy GOAT competition is starting to impact my post research ha! Way off base here, yet the theme still applies – I’m still breathing, yet admittedly woefully behind on my posting. I distinctly get the feeling from the look on today’s featured feathered friend that I have been judged and found lacking.
Truth is I decided to start the New Year on a mission we’ll simply call “Ron owes me bigly”. An endeavor that benefited him almost as equally as it negatively impacted me. Say it with me everyone, B I G L Y! Unfortunately, the details of said undertaking will remain a secret for sometime longer in order to give Ron time to reveal the fruits of our labor. It was the theme of a secret that led to the decision to go with Mr. Yellowbelly for my post.
Hit the jump to read more about this mysterious bird!
Continue reading The Elusive Knautta Bird