July 2014 Flowers and a Bit of Flash


I’m getting a tad disillusioned with WordPress. There are so many things I liked when I first started using it; a lot of things that made it a clear choice. However, as they strive for “improvement”, I find that my experience if going away from ‘happy and satisfied‘ and approaching ‘ok bordering on annoyed‘. The latest thing is the removal of the sliding bar in the editing window. You used to be able to scroll what you were writing independent of the surrounding content; real useful that for those people (like me) who prefer to do long posts.

By removing the slider, one now has to use the window slider to scroll, and guess what? The side menu goes out of the screen. Overall it makes the editing experience more awkward and annoying.

WordPress seems to have recognized the segment of bloggers who, like me, like to put up long posts. In fact, they suggested tags for these long posts so others who like something more than the single-picture-post can find these entries.

It then seems strange to me WordPress would implement a change that specifically and negatively affects the long-posts people.

I gave feedback, and what I got back was a little strange . . . I respectfully suggest the statement “WordPress.com is always experimenting to try to get better” seems to contradict the other statement I got “If the changes we make here are disruptive in a way that requires you leave WordPress.com, we’ll be sad to see you go, but we understand.

For one, few people choose to leave when things “get better”.

Second, that sounds to me like a strong suggestion that I should in fact depart, and that perhaps WP won’t be overly sad to see me go. It reads exactly like “so long, and good riddance.

. . . of course, I’m easily insulted, so I could be misreading that . . . But, onto flowers.

flowers

Ah, carnations . . . they be doing very well this year.

Flowers

So much so, that I am moved to write a flash piece about them. I thought of this just now, so give me a moment . . .

Rose and Joe
Copyright E. J. D’Alise – 2014

Rose felt silly. And uncomfortable. And nervous. 

She looked around one more time, and then stole a glance at her watch. He was a half hour late. How long should she wait? She knew this was a bad idea when Joe had suggested they meet. She was comfortable with the relationship they had; e-mails, status updates, chats . . . all safe, all under her control. 

This was neither. She had checked him out, of course, but you never knew if a person’s online persona was real or not. She could take care of herself, so that was not even her biggest worry. Her biggest worry was that this was real life, and real life is messy. It was one of the reasons she never posted a photo of herself online, never gave personal information, and what she liked about Joe; he never did either. 

Nothing public online gave away who they were. Sure, there was lots of information out there, but nothing intimate, nothing overly personal. And now this would change. This would get messy. Emotions, expressions, comportment . . . all of it was more intimate than she was used to. The chats and e-mails were also intimate, but more controlled. 

Should she hug him? Would he try to hug her? Were they friends, or a bit more? It felt like more, but he was not here.

Rose looked at her watch again. Forty five minutes. This was enough. She checked her phone, but there was no reply to her instant message, no e-mail, no voicemail. She  headed toward the exit of the museum, disappointed but with a touch of relief. She tossed the pink carnation into the bin by the stairs.

Always aware of her surroundings, she almost missed it. A man sitting on a bench. He looked up, then casually looked away. That she saw. What she almost missed was the pink carnation sticking out of his pocket. She could only see a bit of it, but she was sure that’s what it was.

She changed course, and headed for the man. He had not noticed, and was startled when she sat next to him.

“Hi,” she said. “Do you have the time?”

The man looked flustered, but glanced at his watch.

“. . . uh . . . almost 11:00 . . . “

Rose had been studying the man, and when he looked up and met her eyes he immediately looked away. 

“I . . . I have to go.” The man made to get up.

“I’m starving. Would you like to have lunch with me?” She asked the question as she stood, partially blocking his way.

“I . . . uh . . . I already ate.” He leaned a bit away from her as he slid sideways.

“I know a great place where you can get crepes with granulated sugar . . . just like you like them.” The edge in her voice was plainly heard, and practically felt by the man.

He stopped as if sucker-punched.

“Rose . . . I . . . let me explain . . . I mean . . . ” Joe felt the blood rush up his neck and onto his face. He knew he was blushing, and knew a small bead of sweat was forming on his forehead.

Rose invited him to sit by sitting back down and pointing to a spot on the bench next to her.

“I’m waiting.” She did not cut him any slack, even as she noticed his physical reaction. Friends don’t do this to each other. He’d better have a good explanation.

“. . . this was a bad idea . . . “

“That’s not an explanation. We talked about that, and it was you who insisted otherwise.”

“I know . . . ” Joe looked down to his hands, and repeated it. “I know.”

“Well?”

“I saw you drive up. I mean . . . I did not know it was you, but noticed the car, noticed you walking up the stairs just ahead of me. And I noticed the carnation you were carrying.”

” . . . ?” Rose gave him a look and silent question. 

“You’re . . . rich. You are classy. You are . . .” Joe looked even more uncomfortable as he continued. “I . . . I don’t have much. I mean, I’m not poor, but . . . I  . . .” Joe took a deep breath, and looked at Rose squarely in the eyes. “I didn’t want to face your reaction.”

“My reaction?” Rose was incredulous. “My reaction? We’re friends. My reaction is that we’re friends. Besides, you knew I was well off.”

“You’re driving a . . . what is that, anyway?”

“. . . it’s a Veyron . . . I like fast cars.” Rose too now blushed. She had not thought of how that car would look to others. She didn’t care about others. But she cared about Joe.

“Look, it’s a car, and yes, I have money. I can’t help being born rich. Parents made a ton of money, and gave me some. How is that a problem? You did not seem like someone who cared about money, or cared who has more.” She paused, leaning back before continuing. “Is this one of those manly-macho things where the man should provide for the woman?”

Rose had actually surreptitiously danced around that subject in some of their chats, and she was sure he was not the type . . . then again, she had a lot of money.

“No . . . no, it’s not that.” 

“OK then, what is it?” 

Joe looked at her. He took in her face, her hair, the curve of her chin. Even stern, even bordering on being mad . . . 

“You are beautiful.”

“Wha . . . come again?”

Joe looked down at his hand. He continued very softly.

“You are the most beautiful woman I ever saw. I mean, I liked you as a person, but . . . ” Joe looked up at her. “You probably don’t even realize it, but you’re . . . I . . .” Joe stood before she could move, and started to walk away.

She stood and yelled out after him. 

“One of my boobs is smaller than the other. And I have a scar on my rear end from a burn.”

A couple of old ladies looked sharply at her, but she ignored them. 

Joe stopped, and stood still. Rose walked up behind him. 

“You can check if you don’t believe me.”

He snorted, and then his shoulders shook for a second or two before she heard him laugh out loud.

He turned, still smiling broadly.

“Lets go get that crepe.” Rose took his hand, and walked beside him toward the exit.

“I can’t believe you yelled that out.”

“It worked, didn’t it?”

“Yeah, but now I can’t think of . . . ” 

The two old ladies missed the rest as Joe’s and Rose’s voices got outside hearing range. They looked at each other, smiled, shook their heads, and continued toward the Hall of Nude Statues. It was their favorite place in the whole museum.

The End.

Forty minutes worth of writing, and here’s the last of the carnations.

Flowers, bees,insects,

There lots of buds around, so there’s the promise of many more carnations to come.

Of course, no flower post would be complete without (one of) my favorites . . .

Flowers, bees,insects,

And here, for the ‘soft focus’ crowd . . . or is it the ‘out of focus crowd’? Whatever . . .

Flowers, bees,insects,

The peonies are gone now, but these were the last two blooms . . .

Flowers, bees,insects, Flowers, bees,insects,

Somehow I managed to miss all of the salsify seed balls. But I did get a nice flower in the short time that it bloomed.

Flowers, bees,insects, Flowers, bees,insects, Flowers, bees,insects,

Now, while I don’t claim these are masterpieces, some people will say something like “wow; how do you take such beautiful photos?”

When they do, BAAM! . . . I hit them with this.

Flowers, bees,insects,

If I had a kid, and if she hated photography, and if I could convince her to pick up a camera, even she could do better than that. Right!?

By the way, we’re at the stage where nearly every flower photo I take has a bug somewhere in it. Sometimes they are obvious . . .

Flowers, bees,insects, Flowers, bees,insects,

That ladybug had just landed, and was in the process of folding its wings under the spotted shell . . . it does not seem like they would fit under there, but they do . . . check this out.

Everyone knows these guys from photos from previous years.

Flowers, bees,insects, Flowers, bees,insects,

Sometimes the place gets pretty busy . . . two bugs a-mating, a ladybug a-foraging, and a bee a-pollinating.

Flowers, bees,insects,

Sometimes there are no visible bugs  . . .

Flowers, bees,insects,

. . . and sometimes they jump right out at you.

Flowers, bees,insects, Flowers, bees,insects, Flowers, bees,insects,

Actually, there are two bugs on that flower.

This West Coast Lady was stingy with the open wings poses . . .

Flowers, bees,insects,

. . . and when she offered one up, it was quick.

Flowers, bees,insects,

But she did give me lots of great closeups . . .

Flowers, bees,insects, Flowers, bees,insects, Flowers, bees,insects,

By the way, as usual one can click on the photo to have a larger version open onto a new window or tab. Conversely, one can go to the SmugMug Gallery HERE. for the full size photos and better views.

This brings up a question . . . I try to get all the links open in new windows or tabs, and someone on the support forum mentioned this could cause problems in older browsers. I’ve tested my posts on different platforms, browsers, and operating systems back to XP. I’ve not tested on Safari or IOS devices, but I doubt they look at my stuff since it’s PC-based. Besides, had they had problems I would have heard no end to it, them enjoying pointing out how my equipment is old and decrepit. 

I would insert a poll, but that’s not working right now, part of WordPress ‘making things better’.  So, if anyone is having issues or has an opinion about links and pictures opening in new windows or tabs, let me know in the comments . . . presuming those still work.

As I was shooting the butterfly, I felt big eyes, and big ears, on me. I slowly turned . . .

Flowers, bees,insects,

Huh! . . . it looked at me for a few moments, and then took off hopping like a kangaroo, but instead of using its hind legs, it used its front legs! Really!

Flowers, bees,insects,

SEE!

Anyway, back to the . . . Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!

Flowers, bees,insects,

No wonder it didn’t want to open its wings! . . . is that a little hatch?! 

I’m thinking that’s a drone sent by a nervous government to spy on me!

Flowers, bees,insects,

Pretty good replica, though..

Uh-oh . . . the drone butterfly is being stalked by the drone bee . . . 

Flowers, bees,insects, Flowers, bees,insects,

It all happened so fast; I could not change the focus. However, even out of focus, the bee is obviously not real; bees don’t fly like that!

Flowers, bees,insects,

What looks like a leg is probably the antenna.

Hey, look! . . . a fly!

Flowers, bees,insects, Flowers, bees,insects,

I walked over to one of the Stella D’Oros, and took a half-assed photo.

Flowers, bees,insects,

Guess who followed me and landed on the salvia right next to me?

Flowers, bees,insects, Flowers, bees,insects, Flowers, bees,insects,

Come on! No real butterfly would let me get that close. Drone. I’m thinking CIA . . . they’re always doing that kind of stuff.

Now I wonder if the flowers are real . . . I mean, this looks kind of like a banana bin.

Flowers, bees,insects,

No? How about this?

Flowers, bees,insects, Flowers, bees,insects, Flowers, bees,insects,

However, I bet these are difficult to fake . . . 

Flowers, bees,insects,

And these too . . . 

Flowers, bees,insects,

They would probably fool me with these.

Flowers, bees,insects,

But these?

Flowers, bees,insects, Flowers, bees,insects,

Just too weird to be real.

OK, it’s late, and I need to wind this down. Beside, I probably lost all but a few readers, so it’s time for . . . verbena!

Flowers, bees,insects,

And more carnation!

Flowers, bees,insects,

And a flower from a bush whose name I don’t know . . . with a bug on it.

Flowers, bees,insects,

Here’s one sans bug . . . 

Flowers, bees,insects,

. . . unless you count the tiny one at the end of the petal.

These petunia are very interesting, and they look pretty good in their vases, flanking our front entryway.

Flowers, bees,insects, Flowers, bees,insects,

Did you believe this was winding down? Suckers!

Here’s our purple petunias and some potted geraniums.

Flowers, bees,insects, Flowers, bees,insects,

And of course, the plant whose name I’ve also forgotten despite having posted it in prior years. It don’t matter none . . . people just want the pictures.

Flowers, bees,insects, Flowers, bees,insects,

The wild geraniums are mostly done flowering  . . . 

Flowers, bees,insects,

When the petals fall away, this is what’s left . . . 

Flowers, bees,insects, Flowers, bees,insects,

OK, I was serious after all. It’s almost midnight, and I need to proof this puppy before scheduling it for publication tomorrow morning.

So, here’s a burst of photos . . . 

Flowers, bees,insects, Flowers, bees,insects, Flowers, bees,insects, Flowers, bees,insects,

And now I go back and try to find errors . . . I’ll probably miss a bunch, but what the heck, I’m doing this for the fun of it.

Just a reminder about the SmugMug gallery HERE. It has a few more photos than what I posted here (hard to believe, right?).

That’s it . . . . this post has ended, except for the stuff below.

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ o o o o o o ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Anvils and Friends

Anvils and Friends

Astute persons might have noticed these doodles, and correctly surmised they hold some significance for me, and perhaps for humanity at large.  

If you click on the doodle, and nothing happens, this is the link it’s supposed to go to: http://disperser.wordpress.com/2011/12/26/palm-vx-and-i/.

<><><><><><><><o><><><><><><><><><o><><><><><><><>

Note: if you are not reading this blog post at Disperser.Wordpress.com, know that it has been copied without permission, and likely is being used by someone with nefarious intention, like attracting you to a malware-infested website.  Could be they also torture small mammals.

<><><><><><><><o><><><><><><><><><o><><><><><><><>

Please, if you are considering bestowing me recognition beyond commenting below, refrain from doing so.  I will decline blogger-to-blogger awards.   I appreciate the intent behind it, but I prefer a comment thanking me for turning you away from a life of crime, religion, or making you a better person in some other way.  That would mean something to me.

If you wish to know more, please read below.

About awards: Blogger Awards
About “likes”:   Of “Likes”, Subscriptions, and Stuff

Note: to those who may click on “like”, or rate the post; if you do not hear from me, know that I am sincerely appreciative, and I thank you for noticing what I do.

. . .  my FP ward  . . . chieken shit.

Posted in Fiction, Flash Fiction, Flowers, Macro Photography, Photography, Photography Stuff, Short Stories, Writing Stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

July 2014 Birds


I’ve not had that much time to sit outside and photograph birds. Once the nest-building-and-mating seasons are over, there’s fewer birds within range of my lens, and the amount of time required to get interesting photos increases.

I was fortunate, however, to capture a few bird photos. In particular, I was able to get closeups of the Black-Billed Magpie (information HERE and HERE).

Flowers, bees,insects, Flowers, bees,insects, Flowers, bees,insects,

I have a like-hate relationship with these birds.

I like how they look. I like the fact they are smart. I like their antics.

I hate the fact they are noisy. And not only that, their regular vocalization remind me very much of whiny teens (and some adults).

These particular photos came about when I noticed the nesting Tree Swallows were somewhat agitated; despite me being half deaf, I could hear them chirping alarms. I looked out, and four or five Magpies (they were flying around bushes and trees, so hard to keep track) were hanging around pretty close to the tree swallow’s house. I was concerned the chicks were fledging, and that the Magpies would attack them when they landed. I walked outside, camera in hand, with the intent of convincing them to move along.

Flowers, bees,insects,Here’s the thing with these birds. They are difficult to photograph; they do not stand still for long, and they scatter whenever I make the attempt to get close . . . but not these birds, and not this fellow.

I practically walked right up to it, and it paid no mind until I got very close, and then it flew onto the fence (almost at eye-level). Again I walked right up to it, maybe four or five feet away. I could have probably reached out and touched it, as it was not minding me at all . . . until . . .

Flowers, bees,insects,

Even then, its interest was elsewhere.

Flowers, bees,insects,

One thing I did not know (I was never close enough, or got a clear photo before) is that they have blue eyes.

A few days later I was on my deck having a coffee when I noticed one of the magpies fly to the birdbath directly below the deck.

Birds, Magpie, Robin, Swallow,

That is shot almost directly vertical. If you go to the SmugMug gallery HERE, and look at the original size picture, you will notice the outline of the deck (and me hanging over the edge) reflected in its eye.

Again, this was strange. I had been trying to catch them at the birdbath, but just me looking at them is enough to have them leave. This guy (gal?) really studied me . . .

Birds, Magpie, Robin, Swallow, Birds, Magpie, Robin, Swallow, Birds, Magpie, Robin, Swallow,

Finally looking away . . . by the way, this next shot is my favorite.

Birds, Magpie, Robin, Swallow, Birds, Magpie, Robin, Swallow,

It then had a drink, and flew off to argue with another Magpie. Something was going down, but I can’t even guess what.

Birds, Magpie, Robin, Swallow,

And what of the Tree Swallows, you ask?

Birds, Magpie, Robin, Swallow, Birds, Magpie, Robin, Swallow, Birds, Magpie, Robin, Swallow,

By July 7th, when these were snapped, the chicks looked very close to their time to leave the nest. You will note I had opened up all three holes. The idea is to keep the largest and strongest from monopolizing the feeding.

I got a nasty surprise when I went to pull the plugs . . . thousands of Tree Swallow mites (info HERE and HERE) crawled, jumped, flung themselves at my arm. They do not bite humans, but are attracted to anything living that might give them a ride to their next host.

The black specks next to the chick’s head in the above photo (and along the edges of the wood) are large colonies of them. In likelihood, there were thousand of them inside the box. At first I thought it might have been because of the wood I used, or some other Disperser-caused reason, but it turns out parents use feathers to line the nest, and often these are infested with parasite. Plus, most of the adults are.

The chicks were too old to do much about it (when younger, you can swap the nest out for a clean one, dust the place, etc.), but I did try some mitigation (wiping with alcohol, washing them away with water), and it did make a difference (the outside of the box looked a lot worse.

One of the reason I think the previous years there were no mites (that I could see) was because it was a lot drier. We’ve had a wet late Spring, early Summer. Regardless, back to the birds . . .

I was curious to see if the parents alternated between the chicks, and they did . . .

Birds, Magpie, Robin, Swallow, Birds, Magpie, Robin, Swallow, Birds, Magpie, Robin, Swallow, Birds, Magpie, Robin, Swallow, Birds, Magpie, Robin, Swallow, Birds, Magpie, Robin, Swallow, Birds, Magpie, Robin, Swallow, Birds, Magpie, Robin, Swallow,

The box is empty as I write this, and I will be cleaning it out soon (might just junk it as opposed to dealing with all them nasties). Unfortunately, I missed the actual event of the chicks leaving the nest. I think I caught one trying to fly and making it to a nearby tree, but I could not be sure. I’m also not sure how many were in there. I know at least three since I saw one instance where all three holes had chick looking out from them.

The normal setup was two chicks, and one hole empty as the parents went in there to take out the crap-sacks (imagine a human parent having to change diapers using their lips – humans would have a lot less babies, I betcha!)

Anyway, while I was watching the above, I saw three Robins traveling as a pack. This is rather rare except for juveniles (occasionally). It turn out it was a mother and two chicks, and the mother was showing the chicks how to gather food. (excuse the bad photo; it’s the only one I have of the parent feeding the chick).

Birds, Magpie, Robin, Swallow,

What struck me was the similarity between what I saw, and current human interaction between parents and teens, whereas the teens expect to be served and-and-foot.

Just look at that demanding pose!

Birds, Magpie, Robin, Swallow,

I watched the mother try to get away a few times, only to be almost immediately besieged by the teens.

Birds, Magpie, Robin, Swallow, Birds, Magpie, Robin, Swallow, Birds, Magpie, Robin, Swallow, Birds, Magpie, Robin, Swallow, Birds, Magpie, Robin, Swallow,

Honest, people often react as if they feel sorry for me for not having kids . . . From my side of the fence, I’m definitely not seeing the grass as greener on the other side. 

Sure, there are benefits . . . I guess . . . but, frankly, I gots to tell you that I don’t know how kids get past their teen years alive. It’s all I can do from slapping the crap out of them, and they’re not even my kids; I just want to help the parents. What stays my hand is that, one, they are not my responsibility, and two, current thinking says you should not hit your kids.

But they’re not my kids, you see! 

. . . still frowned-upon, apparently. Often even more so.

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ o o o o o o ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Going Bald

Going Bald

Astute persons might have noticed these doodles, and correctly surmised they hold some significance for me, and perhaps for humanity at large.  

If you click on the doodle, and nothing happens, this is the link it’s supposed to go to: https://disperser.wordpress.com/2011/12/26/palm-vx-and-i/.

<><><><><><><><o><><><><><><><><><o><><><><><><><>

Note: if you are not reading this blog post at Disperser.Wordpress.com, know that it has been copied without permission, and likely is being used by someone with nefarious intention, like attracting you to a malware-infested website.  Could be they also torture small mammals.

<><><><><><><><o><><><><><><><><><o><><><><><><><>

Please, if you are considering bestowing me recognition beyond commenting below, refrain from doing so.  I will decline blogger-to-blogger awards.   I appreciate the intent behind it, but I prefer a comment thanking me for turning you away from a life of crime, religion, or making you a better person in some other way.  That would mean something to me.

If you wish to know more, please read below.

About awards: Blogger Awards
About “likes”:   Of “Likes”, Subscriptions, and Stuff

Note: to those who may click on “like”, or rate the post; if you do not hear from me, know that I am sincerely appreciative, and I thank you for noticing what I do.

. . .  my FP ward  . . . chieken shit.

Posted in American Robin, Birds, Black Billed magpie, Photography, Photography Stuff, Tree Swallows | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Blast from the past – Prequel


Yesterday I posted one of my old contributions to Slice of SciFi, and today I post the prequel, or more accurately the precontribution leading to Plethora of Science

The piece below was written six years ago and, if anything, it underestimates the effect of the Internet (wired and wireless) not only on productivity, but in life’s time management. We have literally fashioned our lives around it. 

I don’t know if this is good or bad. Certainly I’ve seen lots of bad. The Internet empowers many people to be real douche bags, it promotes ‘skimming’ subjects and news as opposed to immersion, it predisposes people to emotional responses as opposed to informed responses.

Some claim the Internet has hurt people’s interactions with each other (as in ‘less’), but then they claimed the same thing about television. Less is fine with me. If I am waiting in line, or in an office, or most anywhere, my biggest fear is a weak phone signal. 

“Why,” you ask? Because if there is a weak or no signal, people will not sit there with their head bowed to their phone god . . . they’ll be looking around. They’re going to fidget . . . they’re going to want to interact with someone.

A weak signal means I cannot pretend to surf the net and avoid that interaction. I might actually have to speak with someone. Someone who has been “educated” and “primed” by the internet to know very, very little about many, many thing . . . most of them not true.

It damages my calm, it does. I live in fear someone will say something that will compel me to correct them, and then hear “No, that can’t be right. I read somewhere something about that, and while I don’t remember exactly where or what, I was left with the impression that was different from what you just said. I mean, what you said makes sense, but you can’t always trust common sense, science, or anything I don’t agree with.

. . . and then the jury would refuse to accept my plea of intellectual self-defense, and I’d end up rotting in some jail.

Anyway, this piece is more about my own struggles with balancing curiosity and the desire to learn versus the drive to be creative, to indulge my other passions.

One thing I noticed, or maybe imagine, is that I’m a better writer than I was. I therefore tweaked the piece to bring it up to Disperser 6.0 level of writing.

I titled the piece . . . 

A  World of Knowledge

Copyright E. J. D’Alise 2008-2014, Updated 2014

The desire for knowledge is messing with my productivity. Like the proverbial tree, the lure is nearly irresistible, and the consequences less than ideal. It’s a struggle between thirst for knowledge, characterized by the broadening of my horizons so they span the entire globe, and taking care of the stuff of life.

I’m speaking, of course, of the Internet as a fountain of knowledge and also as the bane of one’s goals.

Just in this little corner of the Internet, here in Slice of SciFi, there is enough to explore so as to suck up at least a couple of hours of each day . . .  and that’s if you’re just scanning the offerings, not even reading them in-depth. Now multiply that by hundreds, if not thousand of other sites. They all clamor for ever more precious slices of my time. The answer, of course is to cut down on work, eating, sleeping, and family life.

Seriously, does anyone have different suggestions?  Because I know I am not alone. Writers and photographers, show hosts, and professionals in all sorts of fields  all lament how hard it is to get anything done. Read blogs, listen to podcasts, and the story is the same.

Just about anyone who is asked how to deal with it responds the same way; turn off the TV, log off from the e-mail account, or better yet, turn off the Internet.  Yeah . . . get real!! 

The lure is hard to resist. At any given hour one can converse with someone from Australia about a video from the Netherlands submitted to the Internet by someone from Japan.  If one stops to think about it, the reality of it is mind-boggling . . . and exciting, and interesting, and hard to resist.

But I, and many others, don’t think about it. It’s become a common occurrence, something that can happen multiple times a day, substituting any of hundreds of countries, and dealing with almost any conceivable topic.  Being a social recluse (by choice), I find myself using the Internet as a substitute for social interaction. But really, it’s not a substitute; it is social interaction, minus the tiny detail of not being face to face (a good thing to my mind, and likely beneficial for the person at the other end as well).

Chat rooms, forums, and e-mail all blend to give me a virtual presence that spans the globe. A number of people around the world know my name, and I know theirs.  And I’m nobody. I don’t have a popular blog, run a forum, or even have a web page (kind of an embarrassment these days). But others do; interesting people who provide a common ground for others to interact, share ideas, and form friendships . . . the bastards!!

How am I ever going to amount to anything if all these people keep strewing obstacles on my path to published glory and lucrative movie deals?

Of course, it’s me who is to blame. I have a choice. A choice between adding to my stories, polishing them up, forging new worlds, interesting characters . . . or spending an hour answering a small snippet of a comment, made by someone I don’t know, on an obscure forum regarding a subject that within minutes will no longer be of interest to anyone. 

It is a compulsive disorder.  I read something, I formulate an opinion, I correctly assess posting a comment will just be a waste of time . . . and yet the next thing I know, I’m using precious time to compose a piece of writing that will be no more than a drop in the vast sea of the internet.  Maybe all of two people in the whole world will ever read those words, and one of them is me. 

I find this cartoon humorous for a very good reason; if I look very closely, it’s me sitting on that chair. 

Sure, I’m one of those lucky guys who can do well on as little as three hours of sleep a night.  But think of all the time I could have used to write fiction, or even posting more of these brief pieces.  Instead I find myself online debating the pros and cons of using fantastic Nikon equipment versus the other mediocre, if well-selling, brand.  Or debating the merits of my opinion on any given subject versus that of poor souls who invariably seem to hold views that are totally wrong. 

The real annoyance is they think they are right, and that it’s me that’s wrong.  Perhaps that is it!  It’s the sheer audacity of these other people that spurs me to pound out reply after reply. 

Whatever the reason, my “to read” pile grows, my writing projects gather electronic dust, and my goals get time-shifted to the point where it’s automatic to move them a week into the future without even really remembering what they were.  I wish I could say it’s making me miserable, but I can’t.  I like to learn about the world, to converse with people half way around the world, and to reach out and see the universe (WorldWide Telescope).  I get to do all that without paying some airline to lose my luggage, or have some security person feign interest in examining my shoes.  

In truth, invariably my urge to write takes over and I am the better for having added to my understanding of the world we live in, the people we share it with, and its place in the vastness of the universe.

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That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.

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Note: if you are not reading this blog post at Disperser.Wordpress.com, know that it has been copied without permission, and likely is being used by someone with nefarious intention, like attracting you to a malware-infested website.  Could be they also torture small mammals.

<><><><><><><><o><><><><><><><><><o><><><><><><><>

Please, if you are considering bestowing me recognition beyond commenting below, refrain from doing so.  I will decline blogger-to-blogger awards.   I appreciate the intent behind it, but I prefer a comment thanking me for turning you away from a life of crime, religion, or making you a better person in some other way.  That would mean something to me.

If you wish to know more, please read below.

About awards: Blogger Awards
About “likes”:   Of “Likes”, Subscriptions, and Stuff

Note: to those who may click on “like”, or rate the post; if you do not hear from me, know that I am sincerely appreciative, and I thank you for noticing what I do.

. . .  my FP ward  . . . chieken shit.

Posted in Humor, Musings Stuff, Opinion, Personal, Writing Stuff | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Blast from the past


Them who bother to read my “About” page might take note of the bit about me contributing to Slice of SciFi. Having gone through some rough times Slice of SciFi are in transition, but a quick check showed my stuff is still there

Amazing pieces of profound wisdom, clever writing, and bits of demented hubris all stand as monuments proclaiming loudly that I be a bit weird. Some of those contributions were reprinted in this blog whenever I felt a bit lazy and wanted to put something up. 

That list, however, does not bring up all my contributions. One piece that does not show up in that search is Plethora of Science. Posted on August 10, 2008, it contains lots of science-related links. I came across my original research for that piece, and wondered if those links are still active. I use a few with some regularity, but wondered about the rest. 

It turns out, with one exception, they are still good. I still think them worthwhile, and I still think the world needs more exposure to my self-declared clever writing, witty banter, and general quirkiness.  Ergo . . . 

Plethora of Science

Copyright E. J. D’Alise 2008-2014, Updated 2014

Last week I railed against the Internet’s insidious plot to curtail my productivity. This week I want to provide some concrete examples of how the Internet is able to thwart my best resolve to focus on becoming a successful (read: rich) writer, photographer, and all-around nice guy.

For the purpose of this piece, seeing as it is on Slice of SciFi, I’ll restrict my writing to science related websites. In fact, I’ll only write about what I perceive to be the staples of a well-rounded geek; astronomy and physics. Math also figures in there as a core part of both those disciplines. Granted, the definition of geek has changed over the years, but I’m a traditionalist at heart.

Last week I mentioned The WorldWide Telescope project from Microsoft Research. My plan was to review it, but having played with it for about a week, I am sure I would not be able to do it justice. Suffice it to say this effort alone could consume all your attention and then some. The planetary exploration is great, as is the Earth at Night tour, and as are a number of others short and excellent pre-loaded tours. But that just barely scratches the surface. You literally have the entire known universe to explore. You can create your own tours, load other people’s tours, or just wander among the stars. It’s the next best thing to being there. You do have to download a program, and it is a Beta Release, but I encountered very few glitches, and most were due to my unfamiliarity with the program. (Edited To Add: no longer in beta, the program is now on v. 5.0)

I have written before with regards to how most movies play fast and loose with physics, and that worries me because today’s young geeks may be opting for movie versions of laws that govern our universe.

For those who would rather get their understanding of physics from reliable sources, a good place to start is HyperPhysics. There are excellent videos illustrating various physics principles, and a lot of information cleverly arranged to make it easy to navigate. You can learn as little or as much as you want about all matters relating to physics. Some of it is simple and fun, some gets into equations. Fortunately they also have interactive calculators helping you solve problems and work examples. I would rate this as a site for a person wanting to know enough about physics to understand the principles, but without wanting to have to pass exams and earn a degree… although I would venture to say this would be a good start toward either of those goals.

If one desires a simpler version of the same material, the Physics Classroom Tutorial was developed for Regular-level Physics students at Glenbrook South High School in Glenview, Illinois, but has gained in popularity to the point it is also used at the college level. A bit less daunting than HyperPhysics, it nonetheless contains a wealth of information.

These two sites alone could provide the basis for improving how physics is portrayed in movies. Then again, I don’t advise writers to stop in… like me, they would find it difficult to get back to their writings. They would also have to come up with a way for Iron Man to slam into the ground from hundreds of feet in the air and survive the event… sometimes ignorance is the best shortcut to move the plot along.

Other sites of note for general knowledge and reference of physics: Usenet Physics, The Laws List, Flash Animation for Physics, and Physics and Astronomy Reference. By the way, some of those sites have excellent links to math resources… yes, I know; not a favorite, but wouldn’t it be nice to learn a little of it, just so you can confound cashiers around the country?

Theoretical knowledge of physics is one thing, but it’s another to apply it to human projects. Practical examples are to be had at NASA. This is another site where one could spend a considerable amount of time exploring every nook and cranny. And there are many. One I discovered when I started my second career in aerospace was the Aeronautics Resources. These are high-school level references, some interactive, that give you exposure to the basic principles of flight, rockets, and even kites. No, you will not become a rocket scientist, but you will learn the principles behind their operation. The interactive modules let you observe the effect of changing design parameters, and give a hands-on feel for what the equations mean.

One other part of the site, which I recommend, is the World Book at NASA. (Edited To Add: one of the few links that were no longer there. The page explains the contract between NASA and World Book expired, and provides alternative resources.) For an ever-increasing number of topics one can find all sort of useful information. The World Book is found under the Multimedia portion of the site, where one also finds a number of audio and video podcasts, blogs, photographs, and videos letting you know what is happening in the sky right now. By the way, the Perseids are coming, peaking only a few days from now on August 12th… I have my saltwater ready just in case the Triffids try to sneak back in. (Edited To Add: this is the listing for the 2008 Perseids – 2014 information can be found HERE) 

While watching great streaks of light cross the sky you might also observe small specks of light slowly making the way across the sky. You are seeing satellites. You may even be watching a manned satellite, the Space Station, and if one is up there, the Shuttle (Edited To Add: sigh). But how can you find out what you are watching? I’m glad you asked; Satellite Tracking is one of my favorite places at NASA’s Science At NASA. You can research both what satellite you are watching, but also predict when various satellites will pass overhead, printing out viewing directions from your part of the world. It even tracks the Space Station, allowing you the opportunity to catch glimpses of your tax dollars at work from the comfort of your back yard. The J-Track 3-D is a neat Java applet that shows you three dimensionally (no special glasses needed) the satellites orbiting the Earth. (Edited to Add: many people now block Java – this won’t work if you are one of them.) This ties in neatly to the Missions web page. It lists all of the NASA missions alphabetically, linking to information about each one.

A site that is also worth exploring, if one is at all interested in finding out more about the planet we live on, is the National Geophysical Data Center. Their presentation can be a bit dry, consisting mainly of graphs, charts, and lots of data. But their info on volcanoes, tsunamis, and other natural disasters sources can be quite interesting. Their space weather, solar events, and earth observation from space links are also worth exploring.

I’m only touching on a small portion of what is available out there. I’ve not even hit on all the Universities that are providing the public with terabytes of data on all sorts of subjects. It’s a wonder I could even tear myself away to write this little bit.

But all that can be boring to some people … perhaps it bores many people. How about this: do you want to get ready for a post-apocalyptic world? Yes, you say? Here are some neat links that gives you the means to tell time long after most watches will have stopped working. That’s right… you can learn how to make your own sundial. Of all the sites that will help you make sundials, this one is the one I like the best. It even has a program you can download to help you design sundials. +Plus Magazine (an interesting site for the mathematically inclined) will explain all the theory. At the bottom of the Sundials web page you can see a picture of a wrist-sundial, something that would surely make you the envy of geeks everywhere.

One final note… in the course of reviewing all these sites, I found a link to a website that has the electronic copy of Galileo Galilei’s Notes on Motion. These are high-resolution copies of his original notes and equations. How cool is that?!? Of course, it’s one more thing that will keep me from reaching anywhere near the level of his productivity. I imagine if Galileo would have had the Internet to tempt him from his works, he would have died a very informed, if unknown and unaccomplished person… much like I am tracking to do.a

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.

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Note: if you are not reading this blog post at Disperser.Wordpress.com, know that it has been copied without permission, and likely is being used by someone with nefarious intention, like attracting you to a malware-infested website.  Could be they also torture small mammals.

<><><><><><><><o><><><><><><><><><o><><><><><><><>

Please, if you are considering bestowing me recognition beyond commenting below, refrain from doing so.  I will decline blogger-to-blogger awards.   I appreciate the intent behind it, but I prefer a comment thanking me for turning you away from a life of crime, religion, or making you a better person in some other way.  That would mean something to me.

If you wish to know more, please read below.

About awards: Blogger Awards
About “likes”:   Of “Likes”, Subscriptions, and Stuff

Note: to those who may click on “like”, or rate the post; if you do not hear from me, know that I am sincerely appreciative, and I thank you for noticing what I do.

. . .  my FP ward  . . . chieken shit.

Posted in Musings Stuff, Opinion, Personal, Science, Space, Writing Stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Robber Fly – Redux via Comcast


 So, I’ve had a rough three hours dealing with Comcast. Two dropped calls before getting someone who knew what the  fu . . . er . . . what the reproductive act was going on. Thank you Tyler, you restored my calm.

Insect, Robber Fly,

You see, I got an automated call saying I needed to upgrade my internet modem to avoid issues related to new features they were rolling out. They specifically said my modem was outdated. I called to find out what’s going on.

I got a very nice lady that explained my modem is out of date and needs upgrading or I would start having internet errors. She explained that it would be free. OK, I said, go for it, and she placed the order. And then she says I need to send back the old modem.

Insect, Robber Fly,

‘Wait a second,” said I, “I own my internet modem. I’m not sending it to Comcast.”

“You have a modem for your phone service through us. That’s the one you replace and send back.”

“Uh,” said I, “that’s the voice modem; upgrading it would not do anything for the internet.” 

“Oh, sorry,” she said “you need to upgrade your internet modem.”

“OK, but I’m not sending it back. I want to be clear on that,” said I.

“Let me put you on hold.”

Hmm . . . I opened up Lightroom and started to play around with the Robber Fly photos.

Insect, Robber Fly,

You see, I wanted the photos to reflect the life and death drama unfolding in

“Hello, sir? Are you still there?”

“Yes, I’m here.” 

“Thank you for holding. Normally we send a Digital Internet and Voice modem, but we’ll be sending you an Internet modem.”

“Fine, but I won’t have a modem to return.” I was beginning to get an idea how this was going to play out.

“You return your voice modem.”

“How does replacing the voice modem help my internet? And what do I use for a voice modem?”

“It’s a dual modem. It is an internet modem, and it has a separate lead for the phone service.”

“OK . . . I’m going to explain this as best I can; The voice modem is in the basement, and is hooked up to both the phone access panel and my house alarm service.”

“You have a house alarm?” 

“Yes.”

. . . 

“Hello? . . . Hello?  Anyone there?” 

DIAL TONE

So, I’m a little frustrated. I get up, make a small pot of coffee, grab a snack, look at the flowers outside, and then pick up the phone and hit redial. Attempting to navigate the automated system, I end up in a loop I cannot escape. I hang up and redial.

I have a dislike for automated systems. The theory is they save time by gathering all the information before you get with an agent, but invariably the agent will ask me the same information the automated system just asked. 

Here’s the royalties-free system I use when dealing with voices asking me what I want to do.

“How may we help you today?”

“Representative.”

“I understand you want to talk to a representative. Before connecting you, please explain why the hell you are calling Comcast. We’re busy making money here! However, acting like we give liquid excrement about you, please state the nature of your call. You can say things like ‘I have a complaint you’ll ignore’ or ‘I wish to bang my head against the figurative wall that is Comcast.’ Go ahead; try it.”

“Banana.”

“I did not understand that request. Please explain why the hell you are calling Comcast. You can say things like ‘I have a desire to shorten my life’ or ‘I wish to get pissed off and feel like Comcast does not give a crap about me.’ Go ahead; try it.”

“Avocado.”

“I will connect you to a representative. This call may be recorded to make sure we can train the majority of our agent in the fine art of seeming helpful while being anything but.”

ANNOYING MUSIC

Insect, Robber Fly,

“Hello; my name is (redacted so I don’t get sued); how may I help you?”

I went through the whole thing again, explaining about the two modems, the fact one is mine, and not wanting to returning it.

“I understand. Let me pretend to help you. May I have all sorts of information so I can be sure that the unique phone number you are calling from, the one I can see, is actually correct?”

(gives name, address, phone number, last 4 of SSN, shoe size, current life expectancy – prior to this call – and estimated weight)

“I have your information right here. Yes . . . yes . . . OK; you will need to replace the voice modem with the one we are sending you, and then return the old modem.”

“Great! I can do that.” I should have stopped there . . . 

“So you guys are upgrading the voice system?”

“No sir; we are upgrading your internet, allowing faster connection speeds.”

“Uh . . . the voice modem is not connected to my computer.”

“This model has both. Once you hook it up, you can get the Internet through it.”

I’m rubbing my head, and eyeing the machete (must . . . look . . . away). 

“OK; as I explained to the other lady and to you just a few seconds ago, the voice modem is in the basement, and is hooked up to the alarm. It’s on a different floor from where my computer is, and about fifty feet away. I don’t have a good way to run a line to it.”

“The modem has integrated Wi-Fi; you can connect through the wireless system.”

(deep breath . . . deep breath)

“What?”

“You can connect via the wireless signal from the modem. There are instructions on how to . . .”

“Excuse me, I already have a wireless system for the two laptops, the phones, the two readers, the two Roku devices, and that’s fine, but I don’t want to run my PC via a wireless connection.”

“That’s how you would be able to connect.”

“You are telling me that replacing my hardwired PC connection with a wireless connection 50 feet away and on a different floor will get me better internet connection? Besides, I’m not comfortable with the inherent security issues of wireless systems.”

. . .

“Hello? . . . Hello?”

DIAL TONE

I get up, make a larger pot of coffee. I then grab one of the hammers from the garage, and walk outside to the decorative rocks flanking my drive. I pick one out.

“Sorry buddy!” 

I proceed to pulverize the hapless rock with methodical and determined blows. Neighbors shut their windows and close their doors after yelling for their children and dogs to come in, quick!

I stand, take a deep breath, and look up at the sky . . . better.

Insect, Robber Fly,

I walk back in, grab a coffee, grab a snack, and sit in front of my PC as I hit redial.

I don’t pray, but if I did, Tyler would be the answer to my prayers. 

I explain to him the whole sordid tale. I interject humor, I keep my voice neutral.

. . . and I only have to do it once.

He checks my account. He confirms the model of the modem I use to connect to the Internet. He checks the modem I’m using for voice.

“Well,” tyler says, “you are already meeting the requirements for anything we’re likely to roll out in the next year. You don’t have to upgrade either modem. Let me cancel that order; please hold.”

ANNOYING MUSIC (but more optimistic)

“OK. Sorry to keep you on hold. I cancelled the order for a new modem, and you should be all set. Is there anything else I can help you with?”

“Well, I was thinking of dropping cable and phone service, and just have the internet, but I should probably chat with another department.”

“Let me check that for you . . . . hmm . . . ah, yes. I checked if there is a current offer that would benefit you, but you already have our best package. However, dropping cable and the voice services would only save you $40 a month before taxes and fees.”

“Let me get this straight . . . I have the enhanced internet speed, I have phone service, I have a premium cable package plus HBO and Starz, I rent a voice modem and a DVR from you, and if I drop all that and just keep the internet service my bill drops by about $40/month?”

“Yes.”

“OK, thanks. I think I’m all done. It’s been a pleasure conversing with you, and I wish you a nice day.”

“Thank you sir. You have a nice day, too.”

“Thanks.”

CLICK

$40/month sounds like a lot to save. Let me do the math for people so challenged – that’s $480 a year. HOWEVER, regular phone service is around $50 a month, if not more. Deleting services would actually cost me money.

Anyway, that was three hours of my life. The good thing? . . .  it done got me some practice in post-processing my photos . . . 

Edited to Add: I’ve added the larger versions to these originals to the gallery HERE.

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.

<><><><><><><><o><><><><><><><><><o><><><><><><><>

Note: if you are not reading this blog post at Disperser.Wordpress.com, know that it has been copied without permission, and likely is being used by someone with nefarious intention, like attracting you to a malware-infested website.  Could be they also torture small mammals.

<><><><><><><><o><><><><><><><><><o><><><><><><><>

Please, if you are considering bestowing me recognition beyond commenting below, refrain from doing so.  I will decline blogger-to-blogger awards.   I appreciate the intent behind it, but I prefer a comment thanking me for turning you away from a life of crime, religion, or making you a better person in some other way.  That would mean something to me.

If you wish to know more, please read below.

About awards: Blogger Awards
About “likes”:   Of “Likes”, Subscriptions, and Stuff

Note: to those who may click on “like”, or rate the post; if you do not hear from me, know that I am sincerely appreciative, and I thank you for noticing what I do.

. . .  my FP ward  . . . chieken shit.

Posted in Macro Photography, Photo-effects, Photography, Photography Stuff, Spiders and Insects | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Robber – The Impressive Fly


So, last week . . . I was squatting down next to one of the the lawn ornaments, snapping away at the flowering carnation plant, and all of a sudden a loud noise like a miniature outboard motor, right next to my face.

Flowers, C-130, Bugs,

I’m not afraid of insects, really I’m not. I have an Official Bug Transport Vehicle (a.k.a. yellow Solo cup) I use to relocate various insects from inside my house to the great outdoors. Spiders, centipedes, multilegged, multi-eyed, small, large, it makes no difference to me; I capture them, and release them outside.

But I’ve never saw one of these, and the first thing I thought was “GHOUL!”

Before I go onto the rest of the photos, please look at the above carefully . . . that white thing that looks like the bug’s face? Not the bug’s face, but another bug, one it had just caught.

Flowers, C-130, Bugs,

The captured bug was still moving . . . Let me tell you, I was glad this thing already had a meal.

Flowers, C-130, Bugs,

Now, as I was shooting this, I had not noticed the other bug. I thought it was all one bug thing. I didn’t even notice when it did this . . .

Flowers, C-130, Bugs,

. . . and repositioned to the other side of the copper stand. And let me tell you something else; these things are FAST!

Flowers, C-130, Bugs,

I then noticed the captured bug, mostly because it was still alive and moving. The Ghoul had repositioned it so it could feast on the juicy parts of the unfortunate victim.

You can click on the photos for a larger version that will open on a new tab or window, or you can go see the full size photos in Smugmug (HERE).

OK, so it’s not a ghoul (appearances aside) . . . it’s a Robber Fly. More information about them here.

I was worried it might fly off, but I risked repositioning to get a better shot (I had switched to shooting for speed, so I have a shallow depth of field – I need not have bothered; this thing was content to sit there and suck on its poor victim).

Bugs, Robber Fly, Bugs, Robber Fly,

I hoped the meal was dead, otherwise that’s a pretty gruesome way to go.

Bugs, Robber Fly,

The write-up says the Robber Fly is a medium-to-large bug, up to 5cm – that’s two inches, and I estimate this thing to have been all of that.

This next shot shows a little better the “short stout proboscis enclosing the sharp, sucking hypopharynx” (text from Wikipedia).

Bugs, Robber Fly,

I risked getting closer, and in a blur and outboard-motor noise it flew off. Again, I will say these things are FAST! I mean, it makes sense since they are predators . . . but when I say fast, I mean it crossed my yard, the road, and was lost from sight in something like a second and a half, maybe two.

I had never seen (or heard) of a Robber Fly before that day. I then saw more (but smaller) when I went weeding, when I cut the grass, and when I watered the plants. In all,  four or five times during the next week or so.

Which brings me to today . . . I went out to get the mail, and there were two smaller (about an inch and a half) on the concrete drive. I pulled my phone, and got right in the face of one of them . . . 

20140714_140309_DIGI

. . . and was a bit startled when this thing reared up!

20140714_140311_DIGI

That white bit on the tail signifies a male. I pressed on . . . 

20140714_140320(0)_DIGI

. . . and a bit closer yet.

20140714_140320_DIGI

The phone has a wide angle lens, so I was pretty close when I snapped that last one. About then, the fly flew a few feet away. I went to get the mail, and they were still there when I returned to the spot. 

It looked like an invitation to me, so I went to get my camera. This next shot is of the female of the pair.

Insect, Robber Fly,

And guess what? She was having a meal.

Insect, Robber Fly,

The shots were done with the 105mm macro lens, and I was laying down on the ground . . . the neighbors probably just shook their heads and went back to tending their dogs and kids.

Meanwhile, the male had not moved from where it had flown.

Insect, Robber Fly,

It did not seem too perturbed as I circled around it.

Insect, Robber Fly, Insect, Robber Fly,

It was little effort to swing back to the female.

Insect, Robber Fly, Insect, Robber Fly, Insect, Robber Fly,

OMFSM! 

. . . I guess Cecelia did not head out East after all . . . 

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.

<><><><><><><><o><><><><><><><><><o><><><><><><><>

Note: if you are not reading this blog post at Disperser.Wordpress.com, know that it has been copied without permission, and likely is being used by someone with nefarious intention, like attracting you to a malware-infested website.  Could be they also torture small mammals.

<><><><><><><><o><><><><><><><><><o><><><><><><><>

Please, if you are considering bestowing me recognition beyond commenting below, refrain from doing so.  I will decline blogger-to-blogger awards.   I appreciate the intent behind it, but I prefer a comment thanking me for turning you away from a life of crime, religion, or making you a better person in some other way.  That would mean something to me.

If you wish to know more, please read below.

About awards: Blogger Awards
About “likes”:   Of “Likes”, Subscriptions, and Stuff

Note: to those who may click on “like”, or rate the post; if you do not hear from me, know that I am sincerely appreciative, and I thank you for noticing what I do.

. . .  my FP ward  . . . chieken shit.

Posted in Macro Photography, Photography, Photography Stuff, Spiders and Insects, Stuff | Tagged , , , , , | 12 Comments

Bugs and Buds


The photos of the flowerbeds in the previous post are OK, I guess, but to me they don’t have a high-impact score. Rather, I should clarify . . . they have a high impact when I’m seeing them with my own eyes, but as photos (to me) they seem lacking.

I suppose I could do some processing to make them dramatic . . .

Flowers

I call that “Nuclear Blast” . . . but no; what I think works is the macro approach.

Flowers, bees,

That is the flower of the Salsify plant. These flowers don’t stay open long, and this one is already closing. This is a weed, but one that I let grow in selective locations . . . you see, I want more photos of the seed ball (example - scroll down a bit once there). Dandelions are pretty quick to go from flower to seed ball . . . not so these guys; it’s been two weeks, and still no seed ball. No matter, I am patient.

However, as the title of this post indicates, ammo gonna show you some bugs. First I have to show you the conditions I often have to shoot in . . .

Still, I manage . . . so much so that this will be another of them sit-and-take-a-load-off posts.

Flowers, bees,

Flowers, bees,

As a reminder, you can click on the photos and a larger version will open in a new tab or window. You can also go explore the full size original at the Smugmug Gallery HERE.

It might not be evident there, but these bees really get in there . . . they’re working hard for their nectar.

Flowers, bees, Flowers, bees, Flowers, bees, Flowers, bees,

I should mention that Salvia has interesting flowers worthy of looking at on their own.

Flowers, bees, Flowers, bees,

But, on this particular day something new caught my attention . . .

Flowers, bees, Flowers, bees,

This thing belongs to the Bombyliidae family of flies, and more specifically, it’s a Bombylius minor (Heath bee-fly), or at least that’s what I think based on my research. It could be the Black-Tailed bee fly (Bombylius major), but the marking appear wrong to me.

Flowers, bees,

And here’s the interesting thing . . . I found the Heath bee-fly in many British references. I’m beginning to think everyone is looking to emigrate from their country of origin.

Flowers, bees,

This fly can hover stationary much like a hummingbird, and does so even in a pretty good breeze. I tried catching one aloft, but I was not successful.

The interesting feature is the long rigid proboscis  . . .

Flowers, bees,

It was not aggressive at all, but when one sees something like that, one starts to wonder if that’s ever used as a weapon, especially since one is shoving a big-ass lens in its face. Fortunately it paid no attention to me.

Flowers, bees,

Hmm . . . those pictures look a bit ‘soft’. Let me see if I have better success with bees.

Flowers, bees,

See, now, that looks sharper; better focus and all that. Let me imagine the fly is a bee.

Flowers, bees, Flowers, bees,

In this next photo I almost caught it in flight . . . the wings were still moving.

Flowers, bees,

But enough of uninteresting flies, and back to bees.

Flowers, bees,

Flowers, bees,

Those two shots are included because they have nice details of the wings.

This next shot is here because of the detail of the eyes . . .

Flowers, bees,

Let me now switch to buds and flowers; we’ll get back to bugs in a moment.

Geraniums, as I often mention, are some of my favorite subjects.

Flowers, bees,

But the new guys are also fun to shoot . . . here’s a trio with progressively closer zoom:

Flowers, bees, Flowers, bees, Flowers, bees,

Here’s a couple of the same type of flower but with a different color.

Flowers, bees, Flowers, bees,

I had mentioned before that we have Verbena plants in different colors (here; a “u” for British people to insert all willy-nilly in words they spell differently).

Flowers, bees,

Here’s a zinnia trio, including two buds (hence the title).

Flowers, bees, Flowers, bees, Flowers, bees,

And here’s two wildflowers  . . . Onesided Pestemons.

Flowers, bees, Flowers, bees,

These plants were rescued from work a few years ago. The building had been bought by new owners who hired a crew to go out and cut down everything that grew. Over the year a nice selection of wildflowers had found purchase in the barren soil, but in about a half hour they were all wiped out, cut back to ground-level . . . bastards!

I like these flowers because even the larger bees get all the way in there.

I mentioned our front yard peony plant, but we also have a backyard one that flowered this year. Warning; this might be boring to some; it’s different shots of the same bud.

Flowers, bees, Flowers, bees, Flowers, bees, Flowers, bees,

And no; ants are not needed for these flowers to open.

Getting back to the Salvia, it’s not only bees and flies that like hanging around its flowers.

Flowers, bees,insects,

That’s Irwin, looking at me all displeased-like.

Flowers, bees,insects, Flowers, bees,insects,

That’s Guido. I hired him to keep the aphids in line. Yes, his methods are pretty drastic, but they work.

How about a couple of random flower shots? OK, you got it!

Flowers, bees,insects, Flowers, bees,insects,

Here’s Moe. Him and Irwin are related via their aunt Cecelia who, unfortunately is vacationing out East (she likes the humidity).

Flowers, bees,insects, Flowers, bees,insects,

As I was walking around I happened to spot the hover-fly from a few posts ago. And this is why I don’t like shallow depth of field.

Flowers, bees,insects,

The narrow focus locked onto the edge of the petal, and the fly came out all out-of-focus like. 

Ooops, I see by my clock it’s time for random flower shots . . . union rules; I have to comply.

Flowers, bees,insects, Flowers, bees,insects, Flowers, bees,insects, Flowers, bees,insects, Flowers, bees,insects, Flowers, bees,insects,

I don’t know who negotiated these contracts but, mark my words, it will force all the readers to overseas blogs as US blogs will continue to get too long and bloated .

I like these flowers a lot, but they have long stems, and even breathing near them send them in motion. A pain to capture.

Flowers, bees,insects, Flowers, bees,insects,

Here’s a tragic story unfolding . . . 

Flowers, bees,insects, Flowers, bees,insects,

A rouge salsify seed is trying to strangle the flower . . . in these sad cases I try and remember nature is harsh. I suppose I could intervene, but I would be helping one organism at the expense of another.  

Best let nature take its course. 

I’m gonna wrap things up with a set leading to what I think is my favorite shot . . . 

Flowers, bees,insects, Flowers, bees,insects, Flowers, bees,insects,

Next, I will show you one of the many pink geraniums . . . 

Flowers, bees,insects,

And I’ll wrap up with red geraniums. 

Flowers, bees,insects,

Now, these are in full sun, and the red is really difficult to shoot . . . but then I noticed something. Note: you should look at at least the larger version of this if not the original.

Flowers, bees,insects,

The strong light of the full sun is making it look as if the back of the flower is a lamp. Both the lighting and coloring grabbed my attention. I’m glad it turned out halfway decent.

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ o o o o o o ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Going Bald

Going Bald

Astute persons might have noticed these doodles, and correctly surmised they hold some significance for me, and perhaps for humanity at large.  

If you click on the doodle, and nothing happens, this is the link it’s supposed to go to: https://disperser.wordpress.com/2011/12/26/palm-vx-and-i/.

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Note: if you are not reading this blog post at Disperser.Wordpress.com, know that it has been copied without permission, and likely is being used by someone with nefarious intention, like attracting you to a malware-infested website.  Could be they also torture small mammals.

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. . .  my FP ward  . . . chieken shit.

Posted in Bee, flies, Flowers, Geraniums, Lady Bugs, peony, Petunia, Photography, Photography Stuff, Salvia, Spiders and Insects | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments