I cannot believe we are practically out of August already. Apologize for being out of pocket for a lot of this month (especially late on responding to everyone’s comments). I mentioned previously that I was a couple of months away from our big Halloween event and the to-do list for that would run a new printer cartridge dry. Now we are only 32 days away and I certainly didn’t get halfway way through the list. Truth is… this is par for course so it isn’t as bad as it reads. I did manage to take this weekend off to do some very productive birding with my brother Ron. He came down and we attended an Illinois Ornithological Society Shorebird Event at Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge – about 45 minutes from where I live. All I can say to that is b-r-a-v-o. My shorebird identification skills are in the upper echelons of craptastic. Sure, the easy ones I have down, it’s the other 43,245 that drive me bonkers – long legs, brownish, tannish, whitish, greyish, predominantly head down ass up and dancing around the edge of water – know what that gets you in the reference manuals – let me tell you DIDDLEY. Fortunately, the IOS guides know their stuff and helped us spot and ID everything Chautauqua had to offer to the tune of 16 new birds for the year with a number of them lifers. Ron had a few of my new ones already, but he also added a bunch. Ended up finding a new bird on a quick outing the next day to give me 281 for the Average Year (link here – note NOT UPDATED YET). Ron thinks I am in striking distance for 300, we’ll have to see how the remaining months go – seems like a loooong way to go.
… and while we are on the topic of long way to go, here is today’s featured feathered friend!
Pretty cool huh!?! It is actually a new lifer for me – a bird that I have had in my top 5 target list for at least the last 10 years. Obviously I will need to figure out a new target to replace the gap left from officially checking this bird off while on our January trip to Texas. Wait, maybe you haven’t figure out what feathered creature I’m talking about – let me take a Frogger stroll across a surprisingly busy road.
Hit the jump and I’ll get you closer to the castle, I mean the bird.
All I can say is thankfully you do not need to hear to write a post – although it may play a part in continuity! My ears (and Linda’s) are completely fried thanks to our weekend trip back home to attend the Illinois State Fair. Having grown up in Springfield, it is basically weaved into our DNA as small children that we must make the annual pilgrimage to see The Butter Cow. I actually have fond memories of the fair – corn dogs, ribeye sandwiches, losing my shoe somewhere in the muddy track during a Beach Boys concert, trying to pick up the carney girls (trust me, they live on the wild side and you know they will be gone in under two weeks – no brainer ha), mopping up at the ridiculously shady games (just need to know the tricks.. say it with me… carney girls), local bands in the beer tents and racing pigs. Note, the smart people NEVER ride the rides – don’t believe me, go look at the 2x4s stacked up under the coaster supports …or ask a carney girl when the last accident was when her boss isn’t around. This weekend Linda and I got to relive a lot of those memories (NOT THE CARNEY GIRL PART – those days are long gone..moved up to the beer tent women – kidding of course! Ended up camping there so we could catch all the traditional sights and then attend the Sammy Hagar and the Circle/Ann Wilson of Heart concert – thus the deaf part.
Had a great time and even got into the Disturbed concert the night before thanks to some very nice people checking tickets at the gate. A massive storm came through that delayed the concert. Opening act was dropped and Disturbed started late. We walked by one of the gates and stood there and listened to one of their songs – the ticket takers called to us and just told us to go on in with one condition – “Don’t get into trouble”. We agreed to their terms, thanked them for their generosity and grabbed a seat in the grandstand – which had PLENTY of seats left. Guessing the rain scared their fans away. The next night we attended the concert we paid for. Some quick takeaways from the gig:
Ann Wilson was better than expected, but I had very low expectations there – not a huge fan of her. Played an hour, hit the Heart classics, threw in some crappy solo work and then nailed the Zeppelin cover. Suggestion, going back and sitting on the stage while the band does their solo parts is pretty rude – act like you want to be there.
Sammy was incredibly good and they covered many of the greats from each of the member’s bands – Sammy from Montrose, solo, Van Halen and his post Van Halen groups, Michael Anthony brought the early Van Halen era and Jason Bonham added his band and, of course, Zeppelin in honor of his dad. Apparently Vic Johnson doesn’t have the legacy of the other members, but he smoothly transitioned through all the other band material.
Damn that was loud – after Sammy’s first song my ears were toast, but that made the rest of the night sound incredible or they finally fixed the treble – days later and still ringing although I already have Tinnitus (hey kiddies, your parents are right, turn those speakers down)
If you are going to “get in trouble” do not sit at the very top of the grandstand where nobody is – you stick out like a sore thumb and have to give up your expensive bottle of whiskey when the State Police swarm on you rookies.
You don’t need to clap after each song in the house music – lady in row ahead of me would enthusiastically cheer after every piped in song. She didn’t look “baked” to me, just living in her own little world I guess – still made me chuckle.
How great is it to see an older band – the audience is very appreciative, yet most of their knees are shot so they remain seated so everyone can enjoy the show.
Sammy knows how to entertain and you get the feeling he genuinely wants to be there for the crowd, no stage sitting for him – interacting constantly with bandmates, talking to the crowd between songs, signing every damn thing that was tossed on stage and handing it back (mid-song) and of course belting out songs as good now at 74 as when the songs first came out.
I forgot how good Sammy can play – having been sidelined by Eddie, he didn’t really get to show his skills with Van Hagar.
Lastly, I am not a big fan of the Van Hagar albums. I am on team Dave there, but then I heard them last night with harder drums, unsmoothed vocals and stronger baselines – muuuuuuchhhhh better.
Oh, and I guess my only complaint of the night was piping in the keyboards for the one Van Halen song that needed it (Right Now). Just grab Ann’s keyboardist from the bus for that one song and make it as authentic as the rest of the show – small complaint, but it was a surprise
Yikes, maybe that wasn’t so quick after all – what can I say, probably the first real concert we have seen since before 2019. I know, you are really here to see the wildlife, not some old guy’s fair experience. The good news is I do have some wildlife shots to show you!
Hit the jump to find out more about our featured bandit.
Doing my best to stay on top of the posts this month. Although this month seems to be gobbling up time faster than Ms. Pac-man on a pellet run, next month is going to be downright ugly. That is when the heavy Halloween Trail lifting begins. So much still to do on this year’s new prop additions. Linda isn’t too pleased about the condition of the basement at the moment – there are at least 5 projects in various stages down there, not to mention my den has another 2 servo based props that are driving me absolutely crazy thanks to either a wiring glitch or an erratic software demon. Bad flashbacks to those sleepless system troubleshooting days with the tiny sign in my office. “A repeatable problem is easily solved”. Those living an IT life already know this, it’s the random shit that’s a pain in the ass. Luckily for me, Ron is coming down next weekend to lend a hand..oh and we are attending a birding event with the local Ornithological Chapter. Speaking of which, how about we get to the real reason you are here.. the pretty birds!
Hit the jump to learn more about our flamboyantly colored bird.
Howdy everyone! Although I did get another Halloween project out on the mothership (Our updated UV Light Bombs link here), it has been a bit of time since we’ve had a real wildlife post. To remedy that, today I wanted to bring you a new lifer bird in thanks for having to sit through that rather lengthy project post(s). Some house cleaning before I get to that.
First off, I left my readers hanging on the outcome of the Bix7 race. Some details were provided in response to a few of the comments that asked how it went. As a whole it went quite well! The weather probably lands in the top 5 best conditions I’ve had for that event. End of July races in the Midwest can be brutal with the heat and humidity sucking out every bit of moisture in your body. I’ll never forget the year the course was littered with runners getting IVs in the street gutters. Somewhat cool at the start and smattering of clouds that kept a lot of the humidity in check. They did add a new layer of asphalt to the middle of the race course a year or two ago and for some reason that portion really cooks ya’. Beyond that – no performance excuses can be levied on the race conditions. My primary focus was on the tender ankle. Right before the gun went off I gave it a very stern lecture on how there would be NO whining, NO bitching and certainly NO pansy footing tolerated – there was Whitey’s popsicles at stake and nothing was going to jeopardize getting that delicious post race treat – Linda calls me a medal whore.. in reality I am more of a popsicle whore ha. To keep with tradition, I’ll put a full account of the race in a future post (on the mothership), but as a summary – ankle did just fine. Had some minor swelling afterwards, which was less than expected so complete success. Note – the next day I was moving a ridiculously heavy washer up a truck ramp and the damn thing fell on top of me pinning my injured ankle under it. That pissed me off, but I couldn’t yell at the ankle for that – that was all me and the guy I was helping getting distracted by a Squirrel. Although extremely frustrating at the time, ended up being okay and no additional damage occurred – at least not the serious kind. Ankle continues to improve and now with the ultra race coming up here in October, I’ve been hitting the trails hard and it is holding (always mind over body!).
In honor of being frustrated with the washer incident, decided this, or should I say these, would be a good feature for today.
Hit the jump to read about why these Fulvous Ducks are equated to rampaging appliances
It’s the middle of August and that means the stress is starting to build fast. We are around 8 weeks before our annual Halloween Party and a big element of that event is the haunted trail (link here). The Haunt Factory lights are on and the machines are already running double shifts. We try to bring you a lot of our Halloween project, although due to the time crunch those usually come after the haunt. As I just finished the latest design for our Halloween Prop UV Light Bombs, l thought it would be a good time to feature them while the details were still fresh in my mind.
These UV lights have gone through several iterations over the years. I’ve never been happy at the price point of these units and each iteration was focused on trying to get the components as cheap as possible and still deliver the effect we wanted. Our first version was actually born out of a need to put some light on areas that required extra caution by our guests, a dip in the ground, a step up, maybe a low hanging branch. The safety of our guests is priority one. Scares are a distant second.
Hit the jump to learn how we have evolved the design our of our haunt lights over the years.
A week into the new month and I am just now getting around to a post – I can see another last minute postapalooza coming toward the end of the month, big sigh. Seems like just when I get ready to sit back in the pool with an umbrella adorned drink someone (or something) drops a cinder block of to-dos in the water deviously tied to my ankle. Written on one side of that block was the words “Your Halloween Party is only 8 weeks away!” and the other side was some bizarre scribbling that looked like “Al yur seeds r belong 2 us” . I am painfully aware of the quickly approaching party date, but the other… no ide…wait, wait – THOSE BASTARDS!!!
Picked up the cinder block, grabbed my umbrella cocktail and leaped out of the pool …okay, maybe not leaped – those blocks can be heavy and awkward .. but I did get out and run to the bird feeder. Sure enough, those devil spawn Raccoons had done it – a frayed wire looking heartbroken having let my precious seed slip from its clutches. Apparently the devil spawn I caught going for my feeders the day before came back with vengeance on its mind.
As if I didn’t have enough to do, now I needed to reconstruct my feeder system. I knew this was going to happen at some point due to a design decision I had made that ended up biting me in the ass – more on that in a bit. The good news is the Feeder 2.0 is done.
To make lemonade out of lemons – or maybe should say soup out of Raccoons, decided it was time to finally document the process and make a post. That is the real reason for the late post this month as I was busy taking pictures during the build and needed to get those collected and uploaded. So, if you are intrigued on how this project went, hope you enjoy the walk-through below. Almost forgot – this design is for a 2 feeder system. If you only want one, then a single wire system with one upper arm is all you would need.
Hit the jump to get to the nitty gritty details of my self-developed feeder stand (rights restricted to non-commercial use only unless permission explicitly granted).