Thursday, February 28, 2013

Dive! Dive!

I'm still fascinated by this bird.  The pelican is one of the ugliest birds in the animal kingdom.  Just my opinion, of course.  Until they get in the air, then they are somewhat majestic.  Ungainly, awkward and stiff out of water, they become prehistoric-looking masters of the wind when cruising aloft.  Flying usually solo, but sometimes in groups with the timing, symmetry and grace of the Blue Angels. 
This post is devoted to their other unique trick, diving head first into the water in search of lunch.  

Target acquired.

Keep Your Eye On The Prize!



Dive! Dive!


Got it!

Sometimes Your Target Moves.

Locked on target.

Dive Dive!


Damn! I lost it!

But If You Are patient, and Persevere, You'll Get another Chance...

The first time I saw this feeding ritual was at the beach and I was mesmerized.  The geometry and skill to finesse this kind of behavior seems a bit more difficult than, say, the eagle or osprey.  They just kind of skim and catch with their feet, but a pelican must sight, dive and time it impeccably in order to get their catch.  All while doing it head first.  Then try not to choke on the morsel or drown.  Yes, I like these guys.  

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Inane Inanities

1.  This picture is astounding on many levels.

WARNING. POLITICAL RANT.  DO NOT READ IF YOU ARE FAR RIGHT, FAR LEFT OR OTHERWISE EAILY RILED BY POLITICAL DISCOURSE Perhaps you saw this on the news.  Longtime Senator Danial Inoye died and just-as-long Senator Bob Dole is saluting him.  But did you know that they met while  convalescing for woulds received from action in World War II?  Dole lost the use of his arm and Inoye lost a leg.  They were in the same room in the hospital and vowed they would enter public life and do good for people.

Well, they sure did, didn't they.  Dole is usually confined to a wheelchair these days but stood to salute remarking, "I don't want him to see me in that chair."  One was a Republican, the other a Democrat.  Both friends for life doing good, on opposite sides of the aisle.  This is the kind of people we need to elect to Congress.  Therefore I am launching my new national campaign called KTBO.  Kick The Bums Out.  Why should we be satisfied with a Congressional approval rate of 13%.  We have been asleep at the wheel.   KTBO!  KTBO!  Political rant over.

2.  Those clamoring for more essays from Bodine-DILLIGAF have been pleasantly surprised at his recent spurt of performance.  I do mostly a picture blog.  I'm too lazy to write essays.  Besides I haven't that much to say.  But Bodine-DILLIGAF is an essayist who wraps each one of his blogs in charm, humor and between-the-eyes perceptiveness.

3.  WARNING. POLITICAL RANT.  DO NOT READ FURTHER IF YOU ARE FAR RIGHT, FAR LEFT OR OTHERWISE EASILY RILED BY POLITICAL DISCOURSE  What kind of sick-ass paranoid dumbshit shouts down the father of a Newtown father who lost their child when he is talking about violence-control?  Note to dumbass gun freak:  its not about the so-called absolutism of the 2nd Amendment, its about the respect a civilized person gives to a father who just lost his son.  Simple respect, people.

4.  Ran across this the other day.

Snakes are beautiful creatures, undeserving of the scorn often heaped on them.
But one breezy evening early in the dry season, you may be quietly following the monkeys. The sun is low in the sky, and everyone is slowly settling in for the evening. The monkeys have been spotting and harassing two or three rattlesnakes daily - it’s the dry season, after all - but it’s ok because that warning is always there, you can follow the steady mobbing to its cold, beautiful, and safely distant reptilian source. At any rate, there’s nothing to worry about now… you’re on a gravel road with high visibility, there are no long grasses, and the monkeys are calm and drowsing. They always see the snakes before you do. So you stroll on. Looking up.
Until you hear something.
Something that makes you look down.
A terrifying high-speed rattle.
And a split second later, out of the corner of your eye, you see it.
It is directly between your feet.
Its mouth is open.
Its head is up.
Rearing back.
The next thing you know, you’re on your back, a full five feet away from where you’d just been standing. Your heart is pounding out of your chest as the monkeys alarm wildly at the four-foot-long rattlesnake that, just now, narrowly missed a direct strike at your delicates.
It’s ok.
Take a deep breath (and then take another).
Scold the monkeys for, this once, having missed a snake in plain site.
And prepare for a lifetime of helpless chagrin.
Because from this moment forward, despite knowing that they will not harm you unless you absolutely ask for it, you will never see a snake (or upset a snake-sized branch in the leaf litter) again without daintily crumpling your limbs, catching your breath in your throat, and emitting the most delicate, the most timorous, the most tremulous of squeals.
Gleefully stolen from Christopher Schmitt, biological anthropologist and field biologist who also happens to have his own blog called EVOPROPINQUITOUS, which details life as a scientist out in the jungles and wherever he does his work.  He has, in these few sentences, summed up man's (generic term for most sane people) instinctual dislike for snakes.  Certainly did for me.  I fukken hate the bastards.   Each and every one of them.  To the depth of my soul.  They are God's one mistake.

ADDENDUM:  Since writing the above there has been another video entry regarding the  removal of a botfly from one's person.  This site is sometimes gross but always entertaining and educational.  Never run into anything else like it on the Big Wide Web.  Type in the title and it should get you to his site.  But, damn, you don't want get a botfly in you!


  Grapefruit tree out the back door.  Looks like a bumper crop.

6.  I have stopped my one-a-day soda fix.  Haven't bought pop at the grocery store now for several weeks.  I will sneak one on a weekend, but otherwise, no more sugary drinks for me.

7.  Shameless remains one of the best series on TV.  I'm not sure what channel it is on, maybe Showtime, but having watched the second season now from Netflix, it is as good as anything on TV today. It can go from uproarious humor in one second and heartbreaking pathos the next.  

8.  Took this picture of an Allegiant jet flying overhead the other week.  Cool vapor trail.  I want to be on it heading North so I can step into snow.  

9.  First time I haven't seen many movies up for an Oscar.  Just haven't been out.  Actually the last few times at the theater soured me on going.  Loud and rude patrons. (See #16 below.)

10.  A beautiful sunset a few weeks back.  

11.  I hand make each and every post on this blog.  Some of it is spur of the moment, but often posts are constructed a week to 3 weeks in advance.  I place the pictures in, then add text.  It is sometimes quite time consuming, but usually I get an idea or I went someplace and sit down and get the darn thing in queue.  I have noticed quality control is slipping; my auto correct doesn't pick up my typos and for that I am egregiously sorry.  I hate typos in books, texts and and in messages, and to have this blog dumbed down due to poor construction by the editorial department staff is inexcusable.  I shall send a strongly worded memo in hopes they will do better, but they are overworked and underpaid.  If their typos don't end soon, I'll have to make some changes - heads will roll.

12.  I just had breakfast at Skyway Jack's down the street from me.  Been at Shawshank for a while now and never been to this place.  Perhaps it was the childish fowl and grinning egg out front that kept me away.  But I decided to give it a try.  And I'm glad I did.  Good food, but then breakfast is my favorite and how do you screw that up?  French toast.  A couple sausage patties.  Perfect.  Not healthy, but good.  I had a couple extra bucks after paying the bill and tipping the waitress, and asked her to give it to the cook.  Added points to my karma jar.

The outdoor elements may be a little on the cheesy side, but it is a true Americana diner: well-worn seats and tables, no particular decorating style, but clean and good food, and waitresses who have learned the art of extracting patron's money into their aproned tip pocket. 

13.  I went downtown at 6 to take some sunrise pics.  Wouldn't you know it, today (Feb. 10) is a marathon and all downtown roads are blocked off and you can't park anywhere near the Bay.  Too bad, too, because it looked like a good one.

14.  Images and video of the Great Winter Storm Nemo out East makes me sad to have to look out the window at more frakking endless blue sky.

15.  The ongoing joke down here is the terrible order-taking at McDonalds.  We don't go often, but when we do they NEVER get it right.  Just yesterday I took Alhanna and she got a happy meal and I ordered the new Fish McBites and a tea.  There was a woman in front of me who ordered a sandwich of some kind to go.  Ours was eat-in.  I got her sandwich, she got my McBites, forgot my tea, and Alhannas cup of ice cream.   The kid behind the counter was flustered and offered me a free tea, but I declined.  On our way out I handed him a dollar and said such kindness needed rewarding.  My philosophy - I won't give to a panhandler, but if I got a buck and someone does something good, it's theirs.  Karma jar!

16. I saw Oscar-winning Argo.  Couldn't stay seated for last 30 minutes.  I was pacing and simply unable to relax, it was that riveting.  True or not, it makes for wrenching viewing.

17.  Wombie Mark and his golfing buddies from BFE Aledo have been in St. Pete the past week.  Had the pleasure to be entertained by them two nights ago.  It will warrant its own post in the future.  Suffice to say it was nice to see you, Mark, and the guys from OVCC.


Spotted this in a parking lot down here a coupel weeks ago.  You usually have to go say 300-400 miles South of here to Cuba to see such old iron being used as daily drivers.  


Finally rained around here yesterday, with tornado warnings.  Like most things Florida it was underwhelming, producing a little water and then blue skies once again.  No wonder the Skyway Bridge is the 4th most popular bridge for suicides.

The picture above I took out the back porch here at Shawshank.  The next sound you here is my horn tooting.    


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Night Moves

Arising early and heading downtown is one of my favorite pastimes.  I go to Demen's landing to take pictures of the city skyline and then move over to get Vinoy for sunrise shots.  Today's trip was a little different than usual, however.  As I will explain a little later.    

Demen's Landing consists of a park, playground, picnic area and public marina.  Looking out over the Bay one sees distant lights, to the right the Alfred Whitted Airport, and to the left the Pier.  If one turns around, then one sees this view, which is the place boaters put their craft into the water.  This dock is just next to it.   

I don't want to be boastful, but these are beautiful pictures courtesy of my new camera.  Today, I got here a little early.  Too early, apparently for the local authorities.  It wasn't long before a truck pulled up and wanted to know what I was doing.  Since I had a camera and tripod I was tempted to say "Just trying to get a little fishing in before the sun comes up.", but, instead stated the obvious.  He said there is surveillance all over the place and that it was a residential area.  He also said the park isn't open yet.  He then wanted to know how much longer I would be and replied, 10 minutes.  He said OK, and I just took a couple more before packing up, being the law abiding person I am.  Okay, I have done this many times and I finally get busted?  If you go over to the Vinoy there are joggers all over the place, but since I have wheels and a camera, I'm asked to leave?  Hmmm.  Sounds fishy.  

I turned around and took this shot of the airport, and left.  I was a bit miffed, but I wasn't done yet.

I decided to try some other early morning shots so I headed up Central Avenue and pulled the bike over.  This  building was a good subject so i took this and another  one below.  

This is a gated (that was unlocked) opening into a foyer of shops.  It was every bit as spooky as it looked.  One must be somewhat careful down here.  I wasn't factually correct in saying the downtown is deserted.   There is a small company of homeless that live down here, some of who sleep in Williams park which is about 2 blocks away from where this shot was taken.  I have no doubt that some cracks and crevices around here are occupied by them and I have no interest in tangling with them.  

I then turned around and took my camera and tripod out to the sidewalk to test exposures, apertures and f-stops.  (OK, I'm still learning - I let "auto" do all the thinking.)  In going around a few blocks to navigate the one way streets, I was a t a red light and I'll be damned if a young guy, a kid,really, who was walking across the street turned and started walking toward me.  Mind you I'm on a motorcycle, at a red light, with a helmet and he starts trying to talk.  It is the unmistakable shakedown routine many street people have down here.  "I've got all but 50 cents for a soda."  "Can you help me so I can get a cab and go to the hospital to see my mother?"  "Can you spare your change so I can take a bus for my medical appointment?"   I'm not proud of it, but I have in the past, when I see someone approaching will get a head start and before that have a chance, I ask them for their change.  This confuses them.   For some reason I have little or no patience with panhandlers (probably because it is a debasing occupation, which provides a great living for them - many of which make more in a year than I do).  I fill my karma jar in other ways.       

I liked this stuff and plan to do more soon.  In fact since I took these I went back and took quite possibly the best shots I have ever done.  You'll just have to be patient. 

I liked the lighting on the building and a real photographer could do so much more with this.  Baby steps.

Finally I decided to leave the area but if you'll notice in the top picture above, I actually went out into the middle of the street and took a 20 second exposure.  There is no traffic down here, and I could have stayed in this spot for another 15 minutes before a car came along.

The bottom picture is from the far southern tip of Vinoy Park looking back at the city.  I tinkered with the coloring a bit for this one.  Not sure if I like it or not.

In the next couple of weeks I'll post a second set of pictures that I'm giddy about.  They really turned out well I think.   Still waiting to get that shot of the country side from the North Henderson grain elevator at night.   Hmmm.  Any BFE'ers out there wanna climb up with me?  Maybe carry my tripod?  It's on my to-do list for my summer tour.

Monday, February 25, 2013

BFE Reporter Monday



Today's submission are these stunning pictures taken at the  Galesburg Hot Air Balloon races this year.  I'm not sure how this even is funded anymore but a few years ago it was subsidized by local businesses.  This is where I won an opportunity to take a hot-air balloon ride courtesy my employer at the time, Dick Blick.  These pictures are part of the dusk balloon lighting event.  

Sometimes pictures take your breath away, and these certainly qualify.  Without a doubt, these are the best, most artistic and technically beautiful pictures I think we've ever had on BFE.  I'd like to thank Anonymous for sharing them with us, and sure hope you grace us with your artistry again.  

Again, thanks Anonymous for providing these thrilling pictures today.