One Screaming October

I must admit, this was one of the scariest Octobers I have experienced in a long time.  If you recall from the last post (link here) , every day this month was packed with task after task trying to get everything done for the big party.  If you recall from that post (or looked at the comments) you might remember that there was a quick mention of an “event” I was training for.  That was a tad understated since the event was actually a half marathon… and it was scheduled for the DAY BEFORE THE PARTY.  Actually, check that… it was literally the NIGHT BEFORE THE PARTY.  I am not exactly sure what came over me when I decided to enter this race, but I had a Life List entry for this year to make it through 2 halfs sometime during the year.  As you know, I made it through the first one back in September (link here).    That didn’t leave a whole lot of time to get the second one in before the end of the year.  Originally the thought was to hit the Vegas Rock and Roll 1/2 in December, but then I stumbled on the Screaming Pumpkin Race.  First of all, it was at night which is my favorite time to race.  Second it was a course I was familiar with and the cherry .. it was Halloween themed.  You can’t go wrong with that can you?   ummm, actually you can if you forget about all the other things that had to get done around that time.

The main issue was getting time to keep the maintenance runs up.  I was already trained up for the half in September so it was really a matter of keeping the legs fresh and the endurance up.  My runs were cut down to three a week – if I could even get that many in – and the miles were backed down into the 7 to 9 range which made it sliiiightly easier to get in between tasks.  Unfortunately, sometime at the beginning of the month something bad happened … to the point I would have argued with any doctor that tried to convince me I didn’t give myself a hernia.  That was the last thing I needed.  I did make the training runs, but found myself going slower and slower at the splits.  CRAP!  The interesting thing is there was no visible sign so there was some optimism that it was just a nasty muscle pull.  As race day approached, I became so busy that I actually forgot about it and somehow it ended up feeling pretty good  – nothing like mind over matter – if someone could bottle that the medical industry would be devastated.

Hit the jump to read all about the event!

Continue reading One Screaming October

It’s Official, Society is Doomed

I’d like to start this post with reading from a popular song….

“I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be”

At this point you should be staring down at a pinkish rendition of your most recent meal.. if not,  then you should introduce yourself much better genres of music (for starters, take a listen to The Gracious Few which appears to be about the only thing new worth listening to at the moment).  But my intention for referencing this umm garbage was not to make you sick, but unfortunately it was cheesy enough to fit the theme of this post… and that theme is “our society should be ashamed for openly torturing our young”.

Let’s look at Exhibit A:

I’ll wait a few minutes to allow you to catch your breath and bring your pulse back to a reasonable level .. tick tock tick tock tick tock tick tock.  If you need to, shield your eyes so you can only see the text, we definitely understand.  What you saw just before trying to find the closest red hot poker to burn your eyes out was a scene that Linda and I came upon while we were at the University of Iowa medical facility.   Imagine if you will already being a little on edge from being there in the first place, but to turn the corner and encounter this horrific scene about stopped my heart on the spot.  So I get the whole Iowa Hawkeye pride thing (well, I actually don’t but let’s go with it for my marriage’s sake).  They obviously like their Herky mascot even though it is far inferior to my revered Chief Illiniwek symbol (it is not a mascot for you uneducated people out there), but hey, if you wanna be a chicken hawk have at it.  From a design perspective, I can totally get the concept of putting pride swelling decor in facility that gets it share of daily bad news.  But if you recall from your quick glimpse of the image above, some idiot decided to expand on that design point.  This particular walkway led to the children’s section of the hospital (we had to go through it to get to the MRI area).  Apparently some idiot had the awful idea to replace the yellow and black pride with …just a sec, gotta grab a bucket… raaaaaaaauuuuuuuuullllllllllllpppppphhhh  eeesh, that Twinkie looked and tasted better going down.. now where was I? oh right . replace it with a cl   rauullllgaggggrauuulllfffgaggg  .. sorry.. replace it with a clown outfit.  I’m sorry, but this horrific.  Imagine an innocent child already having to endure the fear and uncertainty that comes with having to be in a place like this and instead of cheerful trains or cuddly creatures like teddy bears and wolves, they are instead met with the embodiment of pure evil.  How can our society allow this cruelty to our young?

(Note, the ONLY reason this picture was taken was because I promised a coworker I would do this if they were able to find something that would help Linda’s vertigo and I always keep my promise)

Still not convinced our society has one foot in the toilet (hopefully flushed after our previous upchuck)?  Well, I give you Exhibit B (for the squeamish prepare to cover your eyes.

hit the jump to read more of this horror story

Continue reading It’s Official, Society is Doomed

One Nervous Tick

It is not often that a blog opportunity just drops into my lap.  I by that I mean literally drops into my lap!  In case you did not get the chance to read my last post, I had my Macro glass out taking pictures of some metal shavings that were wrecking havoc on my whirlpool faucets.  As it turns out, during the afternoon before that picture was taken I was out working in the woods trying to clean up the brush from last year’s Operation Parkify.  I came in and decided to get the images created for the post (trust me, that steps takes far longer than the actual post text takes).  I finally got the camera, Macro glass and tripod all set up next to computer desk in order to capture the metal shavings.  As I was checking something on my computer I noticed something strange on wrist.  On closer investigation a controlled (and very manly) eeeesh was emitted.  Now, snakes do not bother me much, spiders fascinate me and bees/wasps will live another day unless they make a stupid decision to annoy me.  What does slightly raise the blood pressure is this!

I am not sure exactly what causes this concern, but it is likely due to the fact they are CREEPY looking and very difficult to actually kill.  Scratch that [hehehe clever pun], they are actually very easy to kill when you are trying to remove them once they have bedded down in the skin.

Based on some literature I read (actually, my brother may have given me the reference for it sometime back), ticks supposedly do not violate the prey until a number of hours after it lands on the host.  And yes, land is the appropriate verb since contrary to a common city dweller opinion, they do not have the ability to fly forcing them to fall from trees and such on their victims.  Needless to say, there was no way this Macro opportunity was going untested.  For some reason, (let’s call him) Vlad did not want to cooperate with the artiiiiist.  No problems, a quick reach for some paper provided a means to move it into the camera zone.  Vlad must have had a flashback of kids trying to burn its legs off with a magnifying glass because he did not want to sit still under the lens (what, you never did that when you were a kid? how about smacking lightening bugs with a Wiffle ball bat?  tearing wings off of flies?  nevermind 8^).  Anyway, the tight aperture of the Macro was not liking the movement with the low depth of field.

As you can see, the front legs and body are in focus, but the top legs were likely moving and past the depth of field.  Keep in mind this particular beast is all of 7mm long.  By my guess we are about 8x-9x magnification with this Macro shot.  Now, am I crazy or is this image not on the same level as demon spawn CLOWNS?  This was a trick question since nothing is in the same league as CLOWNS, but the jury will accept any comparison to moles or our current Congress members.

The annoying thing about Vlad and his species is how hard they are to see in the woods.  Having perfectly adapted to their natural surroundings, they are basically invisible to the naked eye when lurking between the tree bark and their feather weight raises no concerns when they successfully invade your personal space.  The stain on my computer desk is a little lighter than the hues in the woods, but you can see how it starts to blend in better (compared to the yellow paper in the background above)

The odd thing about ticks around here is they tend to attack a certain member of the family far more than the others.  In fact, that member does not even have to leave the house to get them.  If one of the others are out in the woods and forget to properly check their clothes when then come back in, it is a sure thing one of Vlad’s cousins will seek that member out and start feasting.  That member happens to be Rizzi, our youngest toy poodle.  Why you ask?  Well, he happens to be bright white and this is like streetlights to moths.  I can’t count the number of times we have had to pull ticks of him – once even on his eyebrow.  We do treat him regularly to help prevent this, but these sneaky pests always find a way past the defenses.

In closing, here are a couple super zoomed pictures.  Vlad wouldn’t keep still for a even a second so a lot of the detail shots came out a tad blurry.  This particular shot shows the tiny hairs along the bloody colored legs – try getting this image out of your head come bedtime, worse yet the new associations you will have with CLOWNS hehehehe.

I wish the shot came out better, but here is one of the tip of the foot.  It looks like a tiny scalpel.

Probably so it can dig into the flesh when it goes to bury its head deep into the epidermis to start sucking that juicy red nectar.  I am betting you just developed a phantom itch 8^)

Sweet dreams everyone!

We’re Here for You Marmots – Rocky Mountain National Park

What does the Puss ‘n  Boots and the tiny rock creatures in Galaxy Quest have in common?  The answer is they frighten me.  No, I know they are not clowns, but they have the ability to be charming and cute while they are scheming to kill you.  Puss ‘N Boots would take off his hat, expand the eyes to capture his victim off guard and the pounces on them with saber in hand.  Those cute looking rock creatures are all smurf like until one shows a weakness and they pounce on it and tear it to shreds with their fangs and claws.  Why am I bothering to tell you this?  The reason is I encountered a new creature on visit to the Rocky Mountain National Park that creeps me out in a similar manner.   Here it is in stealth mode:

Yellow-Bellied Marmot

Did you find it?  Here is a hint:

Yellow-Bellied Marmot

According to my National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Rocky Mountain States, this devious creature is a Marmot.  In my opinion he looks like a groundhog or possibly a beaver with a furry tale instead of the paddle.  Apparently, it is a member of the squirrel family which puts it in the Yosemite Sam Varmint category.  There is an error in this guide as it states that the Marmot’s habitat is below 11,000 feet.  This picture was taken at 12,000 feet on the Tundra trail.

Upon first look, it is all soft and cuddly like.  He would probably curl up in your lap and softly chirp (straight from the guide) away.

Yellow-Bellied Marmot

But there is definitely a demon side to this creature.  Take the jump to see a couple more pictures of the Marmot

Continue reading We’re Here for You Marmots – Rocky Mountain National Park