Category Archives: Fauna

SNIPPETS (5/17/2019)

Snippets

SNIPPET 1

I finished my second video of the two Union Pacific steam locomotives, this one titled “They’ll be coming round the mountain when they come. They’ll be high up on the mountain when they come.” The scenery is just as beautiful as the train!

SNIPPET 2

The lead locomotive, Big Boy #4014, recently restored after sitting in static display at Rail Giants Museum in Pomona, California, from 1959 to 2014, derailed yesterday. The public didn’t know the extent of any damage for about thirty minutes. Fortunately, the train was entering the yard in Rawlins, Wyoming, so it was going rather slow. It took them a little over three hours to get Big Boy up on the rails again. We rail fans were tense for a time there.

SNIPPET 3

All the cacti that had bloomed in my gardens two days ago bloomed again yesterday. However, someone was late to the party but finally made it, but it was worth the wait. It’s a Trichocereus grandiflorus Thai hybrid.

SNIPPET 4

My neighbors have a huge loquat tree (Eriobotrya japonica) in their back yard which I can see from my kitchen window. It is in full fruit right now, and the ground squirrels are all over it, seeming to forget that they are ground squirrels, not tree squirrels. Here’s one who has found an all-you-can-eat buffet about thirty feet up in the tree:

Ground squirrel eating loquats in the tree

SNIPPET 5

It rained all day yesterday, so I drank some macho juice and went outside to take macro pictures of raindrops on flowers. The first picture below is raindrops on the flowers of Asclepias physocarpa, a type of milkweed called the “Balloon Plant” because it’s seed pods look like balloons, albeit hairy balloons. The second picture is of the seed pods, of which this plant had three last year when it was just a wee plant; it’s now about ten feet tall.

Asclepias physocarpa

Asclepias physocarpa seed pod

SNIPPET 6

My road trip to Promontory Summit and Ogden, Utah, comprised five days and covered 2,282.9 miles (yes, I’m a little detailed). My two favorite scenic parts of the drive were the Virgin River Gorge in Arizona and Interstate 80 from Echo, Utah, to Evanston, Wyoming.

I bought a dash cam last July on that eight-day road trip, so eventually I’ll be able to share these two drives on YouTube. They were that great.

SNIPPET 6

Based on state license plates over the 2,282.9-mile drive, here is my considered opinion of drivers, best to worst:

  1. Wyoming drivers were the best but perhaps only because there were so few of them, right in line with Wyoming being the least populous state with a mere 544,270 people spread out over 97,000 square miles.
  2. Arizona—Interstate 15 went through the northwest corner of Arizona for only about 35 miles so I might not have a large enough sample to truly say anything definitive about Arizona drivers.
  3. Nevada—The speed limit was 70 or 75 mph, and Interstate 15 goes right smack dab through the heart of Las Vegas. I do believe most Nevada drivers also were gambling while driving.
  4. Utah—The speed limit on Interstate 15 in Utah is 70 to 80 miles per hour, mostly 80, only dropping to 70 in construction zones. Sadly, speed limit laws apply equally to the smart and the stupid, but I think the number of stupid people is far greater than smart people. The fact that so many stupid people are driving 80 miles per hour, and often up to 90 miles per hour, in heavy traffic, was a constant source of worry.
  5. California drivers were the worst. I think each person believes all roadways within 10 miles belong to him or her; female drivers were far worse than male drivers.

SNIPPET 7

Speaking of speed limits, it was interesting how each state handles them. California was 65 mph in or near cities and 70 mph in boondocks areas. Arizona was 70 mph and 75 mph, as was Nevada. Utah was 70 mph in construction zones, 75 mph through cities, and 80 mph in the boondocks, which was basically all of southern Utah. Wyoming was 80 mph. My thinking would be that California needs to get with the program!

SNIPPET 8

Gas prices were another issue of mine. When I left the confines of California, gas was $4.799 a gallon for the cheapest grade, usually something like ARCO 87 octane. In Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming, gas was $3.049 to $3.159. Interestingly, almost all the brands were the exact same price, so instead of doing ARCO, I went with Shell, Union 76, and ExxonMobil.

As I determined back in the late ’70s when I got my first car, the major brands brought better gas mileage. What was weird, though, was that the major brand cheap gas was 85 octane. Theoretically, 85 octane should give you lower gas mileage than 87 octane.

Gas mileage using California ARCO 87 octane gas ranged from 30.9 mpg to 33.8 mpg. Using Shell, Union 76, and ExxonMobil 85 octane gas provided 35.2 to 40.7 mpg.

A new item this morning indicates that certain entities might be manipulating California gas prices, which I would believe since California gas prices usually aren’t $1.80 higher than surrounding states.

I filled up with Shell gas at a truck stop just south of Las Vegas where I paid $3.089. A few miles later I passed the first truck stop in California where the gas was $4.999. I saved $1.91 a gallon, calculating to $22.92 for my
12-gallon tank. That would buy a lot of margaritas!

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

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….stuck in the kitchen

I live in my own little world

If the weather is good in the morning, I pot or plant in the ground at least one plant. The big ones first. This morning I got quite a few planted in the ground. Here they are.

Cactus

Cactus

Cactus

Cactus

Trichocereus sp.

Mammillaria magnimamma

Mammillaria hahniana

Mammillaria pilcayensis

Oreocereus species

Notocactus leninghausii

Echinocereus reichenbachii v. albispinus

When I came in from the gardens, planning on working in the office, I found an unknown creature at the end of the hallway giving me the evil eye.

Zoey the Cool Cat

There was no way to get to the office, so I was stuck in the kitchen, but at least that’s where the margaritas were.

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

SNIPPETS (4/8/18)

Snippets

SNIPPET 1

I joined the Internet as soon as it was available because previously I had been connected from Texas A&M University to co-workers at other universities like Wisconsin, LSU, Georgia, Washington, Washington State, Oregon, and Oregon State through the ARPANET, the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network.

Although ARPANET was run by the United States Department of Defense, it wasn’t so much a defense network per sé as it was a way for researchers throughout the nation to connect with each other in writing without relying on the U.S. Mail.

With ARPANET, though, to the best of my knowledge after forty years, we had a little privacy. Such is not true with today’s Internet. Searches using Google, Bing, and Yahoo, are great examples.

If I ever thought that my little ol’ blog here was just an out-of-the-limelight set of musings, I realized very early after starting to blog in July 2007 that such was not the case. It got to the point in 2015 where I could publish a blog post and, within just a couple of minutes, my post would be indexed by Google and Yahoo. Because I don’t publish as often, it will take over an hour for this post to be indexed.

And now we have Facebook. If, after the Facebook fiasco, anyone thinks their information is private, well, I have news for you. I’m thinking that there needs to be a sequel to the 2010 movie, “The Social Network.”

SNIPPET 2

I have always loved pictures of raindrops on plants but I never was happy with my own pictures. That was the purpose of me buying the Tamron 90mm Macro lens several months ago. I just wasn’t happy with the raindrops pictures I was getting with my Tamron 18-300mm lens, which didn’t completely surprise me because it’s not a macro lens.

My gardens have had over 13 inches of rain in 2018, and that has allowed me plenty of opportunities to get pictures of raindrops on plants. Here are five of my favorites:

#1 — Raindrops on Sprenger asparagus fern (not a true fern)Raindrops

#2 — Raindrops on Aloe flower
Raindrops

#3 — Raindrops on a succulent flower stalk
Raindrops

#4 — Raindrops on leaves of Aeonium arboreum ‘Zwartkop’
Raindrops

#5 — Raindrops on a Graptopetalum leaf
(Might be in the NSFW category)
Raindrops

SNIPPET 3

I have been working tirelessly on getting a good inventory of Designer Pots for my new company, A+R POTTERY. There are about 50 completed pots, some of which will be kept as display pots to provide inspiration for those looking to buy but wondering what to do with such a small pot. Remember that my tagline is Designer Pots For Your Small Cactus And Succulents.

I shall be selling at cactus & succulent shows throughout Southern California. There are 15 such shows through August 12, although I don’t know if I’ll be able to participate in all of them. I sure would like to.

In order to be a vendor at a show, though, there usually are two basic requirements: (1) One has to be a member of the Cactus & Succulent Society that is hosting the show, and (2) One has to enter anywhere from two to eight entries into the show. They don’t have to be competitive entries, but obviously a show has to have plants in the show in order to have a show. Makes sense.

Of course, members and even the general public can enter plants into the show, but of vendors, it is a requirement. Here are five of my Designer Pots with plants for entering shows:

#1
These plants are stonecrops, so I call this my Stonecrop Swimming Pool.
Stonecrop Swimming Pool

#2
The larger plant at the back is Graptoveria olivia.
I bought it from a person on Facebook that I met
in the Cactus & Succulents Marketplace group.
Show pot & plants

#3
Many shows have auctions with the proceeds going to scholarships,
libraries, or special functions. It’s a great way to get publicity.
This one will be donated to the Benefit Auction on April 14
for the San Diego Cactus & Succulent Society,
which benefits their scholarship fund.
Benefit Auction Designer Pot & plant

#4
Many people don’t like “scraggly” plants. I’m a big fan of them.
They look so cool hanging over the edge of one of my Designer Pots.
Designer Pot with scraggly plant

#5
This is Crassula corymbulosa (Red Pagoda).
This one will be entered into show competitions.
Crassula corymbulosa (Red Pagoda)

#6
These five plants are Aloe varieties.
I call this Aloe Avenue.
It will be for inspiration only display.
Aloe Avenue

#7
I call this one Cactus Condominiums.
It also will be for inspiration only display.
Cactus Condominiums

#8
Lastly, I like this one so much
that I will be making more of them today and tomorrow.
San Diego Designer Pot by A+R Pottery

Each Designer Pot is different and numbered, so even if I make more starting with the same San Diego tile, the glass pot and frame on each one will be different, making each pot unique.

SNIPPET 4

Jim’s brother, Steve, had a stroke on March 19 and spent a couple of weeks in the hospital and rehab after successful surgery. Steve has a cat named Ninja. Since he lives just 120 miles from us, the Jim & Russel Rescue Service sprang into action and took Ninja in to care for her and love her while her daddy is recovering. Ninja will be returning to her daddy this coming Friday. Ninja is an older cat, and quite large. I call her Ninja the Visiting Fat Cat. She and Zoey the Cool Cat don’t really like each other but they do tolerate each other.

Here are a few pictures of Ninja the Visiting Fat Cat:

Ninja the Visiting Fat Cat

Ninja the Visiting Fat Cat

It took a little while for Ninja the Visiting Fat Cat
to get comfortable in her new home.
She did that by creating bed tunnels
to hide in while she was acclimating.
Ninja the Visiting Fat Cat

Ninja the Visiting Fat Cat

Eventually they were able to get pretty close to each other
without growling and hissing.
Zoey the Cool Cat & Ninja the visiting Fat Cat

Zoey the Cool Cat & Ninja the visiting Fat Cat

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

Zoey the Cool Cat has a visitor, but she’s not too happy about it

I live in my own little world

Jim’s brother had a stroke yesterday and is in the hospital, which meant that there was a lonely scared kitty up at his place.

Ergo, J&R Rescue Service went to work and rescued Ninja today.

Two pictures of Ninja in our laundry room chowing down.

Ninja

Ninja

Ninja will be staying with us for a while; not sure how long, though.

Zoey the Cool Cat was not too happy whereas Ninja was, like, oh, another cat. Ninja once was an outdoor cat so she’s probably seen lots of cats. Zoey the Cool Cat, on the other hand, has never been an outdoor cat, so at the age of 11½, this is her first up-close-and-personal experience with another feline.I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

San Diego Zoo—Here kitty, kitty, kitty. Nice kitty.

San Diego Zoo logo

The oldest part of the San Diego Zoo, Cat Canyon, built in 1915, used to house the big cats. Over the past couple of years all the cats were moved out of Cat Canyon as it was destroyed to make way for the new Africa Rocks! natural habitat exhibit. After Flamingo Lagoon, which was at the Zoo entrance, Cat Canyon was always #2 on our list. The only thing better than big kitties is little household kitties. While Africa Rocks! was being built, one had to trundle all over the Zoo hoping to see the big kitties. Sometimes the big kitties were nowhere to be found, having been loaned to other zoos. Uprooting animals from their homes of 10, 20, 30 years and sending them off to a strange zoo with strange smells, perhaps even colder weather, just seemed so wrong. It’s still difficult to find all the big kitties since there is no Cat Canyon anymore, so here, dear readers, just for you, are all sorts of big kitties in one place, my blog!

Mountain lion at the San Diego Zoo

African lion at the San Diego Zoo

Lion tongue at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Lion paw at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Tiger at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Snow leopard

Mountain lion

Mountain lion

Cheetah at the San Diego Zoo

Snow leopard

Rarely is the snow leopard (last picture) visible so well, either because he’s wandering around or hiding. I had never noticed that he only has one eye, and didn’t notice that until just now when I was processing these pictures. This is one reason why having a nice 150-600mm telephoto lens is useful, to get up close and personal, to see things one has never seen before.

In today’s world, all of the animals residing at the San Diego Zoo come from four sources: (1) born at the Zoo; (2) rescued from a failing zoo somewhere else, like eight of elephants that were rescued from a zoo closing in Oklahoma and a “backyard zoo” in Texas; (3) rescued from the illegal animal trade; or (4) brought here as part of the Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research or the Global Wildlife Conservancy program.

California CondorThe latter two programs are why we still have California Condors (Gymnogyps californianus). In 1987, the California Condor was declared extinct in the wild due to the effects of DDT, which resulted in defective egg shells, and hunters’ lead bullets. When hunters killed wildlife that the condors feasted on, the condors would often ingest lead bullets as well, which killed them.

California Condor at the San Diego ZooBecause of the Zoo’s breeding program, as of December 2016 there were 446 condors living in the wild or in captivity. The ones living in the wild, about 170 of them, were re-introduced to California, Arizona, Nevada, and Baja California because of the Zoo’s Captive Breeding Program.

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

Picture of the Moment—Looking a little ragged after traveling millions of miles

Picture of the Moment

There are resident reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) at the San Diego Zoo but I don’t know how many since their habitat is hilly and parts of their habitat are hidden.

Earlier this month one of them was out in full view.

He looked a little ragged after traveling millions of miles on Christmas Eve.

Reindeer at the San Diego Zoo

Poor thing. I’d look ragged, too, if I traveled all those miles in just a few hours….

Now he is back at the San Diego Zoo where he can spend the year relaxing and freshening up in preparation for Christmas Eve 2018.

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

New giraffe species at the San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo logo

I discovered many decades ago that annual memberships to places that one enjoys going quite regularly are very worthwhile.

First, they save a lot of money.

Second, though, things are always changing.

As my wise old grandmother told me after I had become the largest typing service in Kingsville, Texas: “If you want to stay #1, you have to change.”

At the time that didn’t make sense to me, but after watching several companies—Quark Express, Lotus 1-2-3, PC Word, Wordstar, WordPerfect—with #1 market share disappear because they failed to change, either with the times or in response to competition, I now understand.

The San Diego Zoo is another case in point. When I was watching Johnny Carson in the ’60s and ’70s, two of his regular guests came from the Cincinnati Zoo and the San Diego Zoo. Even though San Diego was much closer to Hollywood, I thought the Cincinnati Zoo got more exposure. That put the Cincinnati Zoo on my list of top zoos to visit.

When I finally got to the Cincinnati Zoo in 1995, it was a major disappoint-ment, especially since I had already been a member of the San Diego Zoo for a year. I was soooooooooo looking forward to visiting what I had always considered the #1 zoo in North America. Sadly, the exhibits and the zoo itself were overgrown with weeds, the alligator exhibit was disgustingly gross and odiferous, and many daytime animals simply were nowhere to be found. I now know that the Cincinnati Zoo had lost a major benefactor due to his death and had not found a replacement for several millions of dollars that had flowed into the zoo each year.

Elephant getting a pedicure at the San Diego ZooHere at the San Diego Zoo, they continue to expand the boundaries of zoo exhibits, being the first zoo to create natural exhibits where several different species live together, just like in the wild. Conrad Prebys, San Diego Zoo’s major benefactor, died a few years ago but left a lot of money to the San Diego Zoo. Thus, we have the Conrad Prebys Koalifornia koala exhibit, the Conrad Prebys elephant care facility, and the newly opened Conrad Prebys Africa Rocks! exhibit.

The San Diego Zoo comprises only 100 acres, though, so when an area gets renovated, they have to do something with all the animals that made that area home. Typically, they will loan them out to other zoos, and other zoos reciprocate when they are undergoing their own renovations. The San Diego Zoo also often rescues animals from other zoos that didn’t make it financially, or “backyard zoos” which are typically still found in the Midwest and South. A couple of years ago, several abused and distressed elephants from an Oklahoma Zoo and a backyard zoo in Texas were brought to the San Diego Zoo and rehabilitated, now happily roaming around 14 acres with their own herd.

Recently I discovered a new giraffe species at the San Diego Zoo.

I was quite surprised because I had read nothing about this new species in the Zoo Magazine or on the web site, and nothing in the news about it.

It’s quite an interesting animal.

Here’s its picture:

Unusual giraffe

And you thought this whole post was going to be serious. I guess I just can’t be trusted.

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