Category Archives: Snakes and lizards

SNIPPETS (10-21-14)

Snippets

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

snip-pet: a small piece of something

Snippets: mini blog posts

SNIPPET 1

For the past six months, I have been visiting up to 400 blogs a day and leaving likes and comments. That takes time.

With Julian gone (see Someone’s missing from Photographic Art), I need to use the four hours a day that he was working to find a substitute for home inspections (my main source of income) that will pay my bills. That means I’m going to have to cut down on blog visits.

Since I’m following 3,302 blogs, the result is that it’s going to be a longer time between my visits to your blog.

My records (yes, I really am that AR!) indicate that over the course of my WordPress blogging (since January 7, 2012), I leave one comment for every four LIKEs. I’m going to change that and try to make it one comment for every like.

For the near future, then, blog camping is on an extended vacation, but I hope to make up for it by leaving more comments when I do visit.

SNIPPET 2

Ever since Random Acts of Kindness came about (Wikipedia says it was 1982 or 1983), I have been a huge fan.

Well, last Thursday at 2:40 p.m. I had a tire blow out at a high rate of speed. Having never experienced that before but having visualized it hundreds of times, I had no problem slowing down and getting off the freeway.

I pulled onto a side street in front of a high school and proceeded to try to change the tire. My left shoulder is not capable of provide the torque necessary to operate the jack to raise a 4,400-pound car and untighten the five lug nuts.

I was hot and sweating by the time school started letting out at 3:00. A teenage girl stopped, said hello as she was looking in her backpack, and pulled out a bottle of water, giving it to me along with her kind words, “I know it’s hot out here and you look like you’re struggling.”

Well, I was struggling so I gave up and called AAA to change the tire for me.

I don’t know the girl’s name or even the name of the high school, but I wanted to give a shout-out to some fine parents raising that girl, not to mention to that fine girl herself.

SNIPPET 3

I moved to San Diego in April 1993 specifically so I could live my life as an openly gay man, something I didn’t see myself doing in my native Texas.

Never in my wildest dreams 21 years ago did I think I would ever be legally married, yet that happened when Jim and I got married, legally, in California on October 30, 2008. Prior to that, we had dated for 2 years, lived together for 9 years, and were domestic partnered (such an ugly term) for 5 years.

As of a few days ago, gay marriage is now legal in 31 states and the District of Columbia, covering about 61% of the American population.

gay marriage

It’s only a matter of time before gay marriage is legal across the land. I’m going to guess less than two years.

What amazes me is that gay marriage was legal in Iowa before California, and that Utah won’t be the last state carried screaming and kicking into the modern world. I’m predicting that the southeast will be last, all joining at the same time due to an Appeals Court decision covering those states, basically a repeat of history from June 12, 1967, when the United States Supreme Court declared anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional:

Interracial marriage

SNIPPET 4

California allows permanent voting by mail:

California mail ballot

It doesn’t mean that I have to return my ballot by mail, but I can. I usually simply drop it off at a polling place on election day since there’s one just two blocks from me.

I was a registered Republican from 1976 to September 2013. I was trying to work within the system to change the Republican Party, but with the advent of the so-called Tea Party taking over control of the Republican Party, I finally gave up and registered as a Democrat last year.

Today I will be filling in those little dots on my ballot.

SNIPPET 5

I have finished my first Photographic Art calendar. This will be the one that I print and hang on my wall:

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I plan on creating several more calendars:

Birds
Butterflies
Little cats
Big cats
Dogs
All other wildlife
Sunrises & sunsets
Orchids
Roses
Hibiscus
All other flowers
Scenes from San Diego County
Railroads & Trains
Custom (you pick any 12 Photographic Art from my Fine Art America galleries)
Double Custom (you provide 12 of your own pictures)
Stamps (pictures will be framed like stamps)

Note that calendar weeks begin with Monday and end with Sunday, keeping the weekend together.

I will be offering two versions: one without designations such as New Year’s Day, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day…. Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. and one with such designations.

I have plans for one other version but it will be complicated to produce so I’ll not announce that yet, waiting until I’m sure I’m going to do it. I’ll do January this week and then decide.

I have looked at calendar-creating software online and am not happy with any of it. I have also looked at prices to buy calendars and can assure you that I will price my digital calendars for less. I am also considering having some printed for promotional purposes, maybe even for sale. I’ll keep everyone informed.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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SNIPPETS (5-14-14)

Snippets

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I attended college from 1973-1977 at Texas A&M University, which, arguably, is the most tradition-rich school in the United States. We had a saying then that if something happened twice, it was tradition! I understand they still have that saying.

This is my third SNIPPETS in three days. Tradition! (Or possibly just a new series; you know how I like series!)

SNIPPET 1

I have an idea for a book: The Murals of San Diego. Unfortunately, I fear that my remaining lifetime (I’m 59) is too short to finish the book. Murals are everywhere in this city. The following three murals were part of a set of four under the freeway overpass near Old Town San Diego. People were standing in front of the fourth mural, and they didn’t look happy that I was taking pictures of them (I wasn’t). I explained that I was taking pictures of the murals, hoping that they would move. They didn’t. Three murals it is, then!

San Diego mural

San Diego mural

San Diego mural

Those are supposed to be representations of areas of San Diego. The last one is Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala, the middle one is the San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge, and the first one…. Well, I think it is supposed to be the San Diego River in Mission Valley. However, the San Diego River doesn’t look anything like that, and probably never did, even 6,000 years ago when the Earth was created (according to some of our friendly Republican religious right-wing ignorants).

Mural location map

See location on Google Maps

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SNIPPET #2

It’s well known that land is valuable in California, not just San Diego. It’s also well known that there is not enough parking. It’s also well known that parking in and of itself generally is ugly. So last year, San Diego’s North Park neighborhood decided to do something about it. They took away two parking spots to create a “parklet.” Looks like this:

Parklet in North Park, San Diego

Parklet in North Park, San Diego

Although the parklet is directly in front of Caffé Calabria, a coffee and espresso bar, seating in the parklet is open to the public, no purchase required. You need proof! Here it is:

Parklet in North Park, San Diego

The parklet is 28 feet long by 6 feet wide, seats 20, and, along with costing two parking spots, also cost $40,000 to build. They should have hired me. I could have done it for $20,000!

Parklet location map

See location on Google Maps

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SNIPPET #3

Just 1½ miles from me is Campus Plaza shopping center where I go quite often to get interesting flavors of yogurt at Yogurtland. I usually go around 10:00 p.m. (they are open until midnight!) because at night I get to see the twinkling neon art. Here are two still pictures.

Neon at Campus Plaza in San Diego

Neon at Campus Plaza in San Diego

Video coming soon of them twinkling!

Campus Plaza location

See location on Google Maps

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SNIPPET #4

When the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, it looks like this:

Hairs on the back of the neck

….maybe….

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SNIPPET #5

My wise old grandmother taught me that sticking out your tongue at people was not polite.

Serval sticking out its tongue

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SNIPPET #6

Not all of the San Diego Zoo animal ambassadors are furry or feathered….

Burmese Python at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SNIPPET #7

I thought a big ol’ snake would make a great subject for the out of bounds effect.

Snake out of bounds

If you want to learn how to create the out of bounds effect, see my post here: How to create the out of bounds effect in Photoshop

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SNIPPET #8

San Diego Zoo Security? Let’s hope our regular police officers don’t start using these baby cars. Although I do like the paint job….

San Diego Zoo security car

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SNIPPET #9

Beauty sleep is important.

Beauty sleep

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SNIPPET #10

The San Diego Zoo is a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which basically means that they do a lot of research to help animals survive in their native habitats which, too often, are destroyed for human development. It also means that they participate in many breeding programs for endangered wildlife, often loaning wildlife to other zoos to try to increase the genetic pool in the various breeding programs. I think the Zoo currently is bringing in pelicans from other zoos because it seems that every time I go to the Zoo, there are more pelicans, and more species of pelicans, than my previous visit. Here’s a beautiful great white pelican from my latest visit:

Great White Pelican at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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San Diego Zoo—Three bird pictures and a hummingbird video

San Diego Zoo logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Usually when I go to the Zoo I don’t hang around one spot for more than fifteen minutes.

This past Saturday, though, I spent three hours in the hummingbird aviary because the birds were putting on such a show.

Following are three bird pictures with a hummingbird video at the end.

Crested Screamer

The Crested Screamer (Chauna torquata), also known as the Southern Screamer, is native to South America. These birds do know how to scream and my goal is to get a video of them screaming. It is something to hear, up to two miles away. Even though they live in large flocks, they mate for life, estimated to be about fifteen years.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Twin-spotted Rattlesnake

The Twin-spotted Rattlesnake (Crotalus pricei) is native to Mexico and the United States, although only to southeastern Arizona in the United States. It is a venomous pit viper, as are all rattlesnakes, but we never hear them called pit vipers. They grow to about two feet in length.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Plate-billed Mountain Toucan

The Plate-billed Mountain Toucan (Andigena laminirostris) is native to Colombia and Ecuador, living in Andean forests among the bromeliads and mosses where annual rainfall is about fourteen feet. Yes, feet. It is the most vocal of the toucans and the flagship bird of the La Planada Nature Reserve in Colombia. It is in decline due to deforestation and poaching.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The White-necked Jacobin (Florisuga mellivora) is native to Mexico and South America where it hangs out in the canopy of forests. According to Wikipedia, it will come down to lower levels to visit hummingbird feeders, proven here since the San Diego Zoo is about 45 feet above sea level. :)

Smile if you think one of those bird pictures isn’t a picture of a bird at all!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Need a unique gift?
Consider Photographic Art!photographic art logoVisit Russel Ray Photos.

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Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend James Frimmer, Realtor, CDPE
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02 HomeSmartRWnameOnly2 copy

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I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Elephant trunk

Jungle Bells at the San Diego Zoo through January 5, 2014

San Diego Zoo logo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Jungle Bells started at the San Diego Zoo on December 14 and continues through January 5.

All sorts of holiday activities throughout the Zoo, including the Twinkle Light Trolley, costumed characters entertaining everywhere, Santa’s igloo, Carols at Camp Critters, Jingle Brass, Light Up The Night, Dr. Zoolittle’s ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, Carol of the Jungle Bells, and much more.

For a complete list of events, times, and durations, see the San Diego Zoo web site.

Jungle Bells

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Extra Christmas presents for you if you can name all of the Jungle Bell animals above. Good luck! I made the graphic and I can’t name them all!………..lol

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, BRE #01458572

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!

Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Peas in pods

Mother Nature is out with the ladies

Out & About

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Remember, if you come to San Diego by plane, sit on the left side of the plane. You’ll be amazed (perhaps even shocked or frightened!) at how close the planes fly to downtown San Diego as they are landing at the airport.

If you come to San Diego and you don’t call me, you shall forever be banned from my blog. If you give me enough notice (at least 23 hours, 59 minutes, 59 seconds), I could even play docent for a day.

When Bryan and Liz Flint came from Houston, I played docent for a couple of days. The following pictures of Father Nature (Mother Nature is out with the ladies and their roses and orchids) were taken at Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo while I was wearing them out traipsing around.

Bee and cactus flowe

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Cactus flowers

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Cactus flowers

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Cactus flowers

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Red leaves

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Old tree

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Barrel cactus

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Date palm

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Dates

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Peas in pods

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Cactus flower stalks

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Cactus flower stalks

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Cactus flower

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Cactus flowers

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Cactus flower stalk

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Cactus flower stalk

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Red flowers

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Silk floss tree

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Flower buds

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Staghorn fern leaf

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Fallen leaf

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Cactus flowers

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Ocotillo cactus

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Snake

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Ooops.

I have no idea how that last picture got in there.

Well, maybe I do……………

ZOEY!……………………….

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved byThis post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, BRE #01458572

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Hollywood, California

Hollywood, California — Where pictures find you

Out & About

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

It’s always easy to find subjects for your pictures if you look around.

In some places, though, such as Hollywood, you don’t have to look.

Pictures seem to find you.

Make sure you have extra batteries and memory cards.

All pictures taken on Hollywood Boulevard between Vine Street and North Highland Avenue in Hollywood, California.

Hollywood, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Hollywood, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Hollywood, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Hollywood, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Hollywood, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Hollywood, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Hollywood, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Hollywood, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Hollywood, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Hollywood, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Location of Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, California

View larger map

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved byThis post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, BRE #01458572

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Sophie the Black Cat

Happy Black Cat Appreciation Day!

Cats

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Today is Black Cat Appreciation Day, so Zoey the Cool Cat wanted me to share the story of how she came to be Queen of this house.

On Thanksgiving day of 2006, a feral black cat strayed into my yard. It looked at me with sorrowful eyes, seeming to ask, “Do you have any food and water for me?” I put out some milk. While it was drinking, I rushed down to the corner store to get a small can of cat food. When I got back, the milk was gone but the cat was still there. I put the cat food on a plate and set it as close to the cat as I could get. Within minutes the food was gone and black cat (hereafter, BC) went to sit on a fence post.

Sophie on fence

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Unfortunately, minutes after eating, BC was gone, too. Never saw it again…..

…..until Christmas Eve.

Hmmm. Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. I thought black cats only celebrated Halloween….

I put out some water (I think it was my mother-in-law who told me not to give cats milk) and rushed down to the corner store again to get another can of cat food.

Sophie the Black Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This time I bought three cans, thinking that the cat might come around more often than once a month. And if this cat celebrated holidays by coming to my place, well, Christmas was tomorrow and New Year’s Eve and Day were just a week away….

I put a plate of cat food out. BC ate the food, drank the water, and….

….collapsed on the asphalt to rest before eventually sheltering itself under a bush:

Sophie the Black Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Sophie the black cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

BC stayed for a couple of hours, but as soon as the sun went down, BC was gone. Hunters must hunt.

Bright and early the next morning, BC was back. Yahooooooooooooooooooooo!

Sophie the Black Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Sophie the Black Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

My wise old grandmother, who had adopted a few billion feral cats (we called them “alley cats”) during her lifetime, many of them tripods, always told me that if you feed a cat, the cat is yours. At the time I didn’t know if that meant that I owned the cat because I had spent money on it, or if the cat owned me because it approved of my actions. I now know it’s the latter.

I became BC’s new Chief of Staff.

We were able to determine that BC was a she, so Jim named her Sophie. She became part of our lives, eventually making it into and through the garage and taking over our home office.

Sophie the Black Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Each day Sophie would present to me a gift from her hunting expedition. Mostly lizards and gophers, I felt like they were especially for me. I didn’t mind losing a few gophers to this skilled hunter, but I really liked my lizards…………..

Mr. Lizard, Zoey the Cool Cat's new little friend

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Alas, I figured that if Sophie could catch them, then there must be too many of them. Population control and all that. Never really convinced myself of that, so I tried instead to believe that losing the lizards was a tradeoff for getting rid of the gophers. Never really convinced myself of that, either.

One day Sophie brought me a hummingbird. That really broke my heart, so I thought I would try to convert her into an indoor cat. It looked like I was succeeding.

Sophie the Black Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Sophie the Black Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Sophie the Black Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

See how she’s winking at me? I now believe she was thinking, “This guy’s cool, and I’ll make him think that he’s converting me so he’ll keep giving me food, but I’ll never be 100% an indoor cat. Too many lizards and gophers in this world…..”

We moved just six months later, and we brought Sophie with us. She enjoyed exploring the new place, inside and out.

Sophie the Black Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Sophie the Black Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Sophie the Black Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Whenever I was outside gardening or watering, Sophie was right there with me. She would follow me around wherever I went. Reminded me of a dog. I would run from her but she stayed right with me. If I was successful at hiding from her while she was occupied chasing a bug, she was equally successful in quickly finding me. At the new digs, she used to follow me down to the swimming pool; the neighbors thought it was funny.

Sophie the Black Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

She dared not come too near the water, though, preferring to hang out at the barbecue pits or play in the trees, all the while keeping an eye on me.

Sophie the Black Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Sophie the Black Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I was fairly successful at converting Sophie into an indoor cat…………

………….during the day.

At night, she just had to go outside. She would meow and sometimes even howl like a coyote until I let her out. However, she would always come back between 4:30 and 5:00 a.m., meowing and scratching at the office window until I woke up and let her in.

Sadly, on September 20, 2007, just six months after moving, Sophie was hit and killed by a car a block over. The street where she was killed was asphalt and unlit; cars liked to turn the corner and zoom down the street. Being caught in the street and blinded by bright car lights meant that Sophie didn’t have a chance. A neighbor found her body, placed it up on the curb under some bushes, removed her tag, and called me.

I had known something was wrong that morning because Sophie was late coming back. The neighbor called just after 8:00. I went to retrieve Sophie’s body and buried her near where she and I originally had met.

That afternoon Jim and I we went to the El Cajon Animal Shelter to adopt a cat, a 100% indoor cat—I decided I never wanted to go through a loss like that again. We found several that we liked but chose an American shorthair with ginger tabby coloring. Unfortunately she wasn’t available for adoption until 10:00 the next morning. Going a whole evening/night/early morning without a cat was tough. We were at the animal shelter promptly at 10:00 the next morning to make sure that we came home with Zoey the Cool Cat.

Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Her name at the El Cajon Animal Shelter had been Zoey, and we decided to let her keep that name. After just six hours in our home, though, I added “the Cool Cat” to her name, all because of this picture:

chairs-19-500 framed

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

In memory of Sophie the Black CatCat drawing

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Zoey the Cool Cat approves this post.This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos