Time Saver

TimeSaver3775click to enlarge

Here at the Institute we are all about helping our fellow-man and/or woman, so as a public service we are going to do you a big favor and save you some time. Won’t that be great!

If there are two things we know about at the Institute it is Holidays and saving time. Please see http://www.bigshotsnow.com/zen-and-everclear/ for further information about Holidays and see todays post for information on time-saving.

Because it is a holiday and we know you’re busy and you don’t want to sit in front of a computer even if it means missing one of our posts, we, in the interest of giving you a break, have put up a picture that doesn’t require a lot of time to look at. It is nearly effortless to view. It is all primary colors, simple composition, and registers quickly in the area of your brain that recognizes color. That, of course, is the area that lies near the back of your brain, behind and below your temples, next to but distinct from the area that was believed for years to be the color center. This is another great time saver, sending it directly to the area of the brain that does its job, color recognition. No waiting around while the image slowly bangs around in your head until it gets to where it’s supposed to go and the light goes off, or on, as it were.

So, all you have to do is call up our blog, look at todays image and go turn the brats before they burn. Check on the corn on the cob while you’re there too, it tends to burn quicker and start blowing out the kernels down at the thinner end if you don’t keep an eye on it. There you are, then. Two birds with one post. Holidays and time-saving. Are we great or what.

The Gleaners

The Gleaner2305click to enlarge

If you go to France and you go to the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, which is just down from the left bank McDonald’s, you will find a famous painting by Jean-François Millet, a French guy, called the Gleaners (the painting not the French guy). He painted it in 1857 and called it that because that is what was going on in the painting and because they liked short names back then.

It depicts three supposedly French women, we’re not sure if they’re French or not because he didn’t say. They could just as easily been Croatian or Moldavian or even Dutch, but that’s beside the point. What is the point is that these women are called Gleaners because they would go into the fields after the harvest and pick up bits of whatever had just been harvested, take it home, put in it linen sacks, hit those sacks with a stick to settle the contents and store them in a storage unit known as a gleaner locker, for use during the cold winter that was just down the road. Apparently a bunch of people did this as a way to cut the high cost of living. It was way before Costco or Wal-Mart or Sam’s.

A lot of you are probably sitting there right now saying “Yeah, So?” but what you don’t know is that Jean-François Millet, or Johnny Millet as he was known here, was a huge traveler. Not huge like 420 lbs. and having to book two seats all the time huge, but huge as in he traveled a lot. Everywhere he could get reservations. He was never home. He did this because it was hard to come up with new ides every time he wanted to do a painting and like all artists you have got to keep churning this stuff out.

It was on one of his journeys that he came to America and went straight to Rocky Mountain National Park to see what was happening. There he met a park ranger and had an idea that would change the art world completely and earn him a permanent place in Art history classes forever. This ranger whose name has been lost in the dim recesses of the historical past, found Johnny looking down a rock strewn hillside on Trail Ridge road. He was raptly watching many little creatures darting out into the meadow and harvesting huge mouthfuls of grass which they would then bring back to their dens, put in linen sacks, hit those sacks with a stick to settle the contents and store them in a storage unit known as a Pica locker.

“What are those marvelous creatures?” he asked in a French accent that totally gave away where he was from. “They’re gleaners, a form of rodent that lives above the tree line, that harvests grass to sustain them through the long cold winters ” replied the ranger “but as they are from the Lagomorphs family or more precisely the Ochotonidae order we intend to call them Pikas.” “Mon Dieu” said Johnny Millet and then and there the light bulb went off and a work of art was born. The rest is history, or Art History, to be exact. Johnny caught the next clipper ship back to France and soon The Gleaners was on the wall at the Musée d’Orsay. Now American tourists pay good money to look at it not knowing that the idea was taken from the side of Trail Ridge road in Rocky Mountain National Park. And now, as Paul Harvey used to say, You know the rest of the story.

Danger at 10 O’clock

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The post would have been out earlier today but we’ve just gotten out of a hostage situation here at the Institute. Fall is normally the time when the things that live outside attempt to live inside. They lay in wait all summer slowly pulsating in their lairs, growing larger and meaner and more vicious, as they scheme and design and contrive ways to sneak into your house when you are otherwise occupied. Thus was the case with this most deadly of spiders, the “Black Widow”.

Fortunately we have a spider alarm system installed around the main headquarters and it has been assembled from old submarine Klaxons’, civil defense sirens from the atomic bomb warning systems of the 50’s, and anything else loud and annoying so that if it goes off we have no doubt that we are under attack by murderous arachnoids. Today right at post time that alarm went off. Since we had never tested the system before todays deployment we weren’t sure what the sound level would be. Now we know. In fact everyone within eighty miles now knows what it sounds like. It’s lucky for the spider that it was hard of hearing otherwise it would have died right on the spot, melted into a little puddle of arachnid juices by the standing waves. It did kill one of our chickens but we’re not certain if that was the sound waves or the chicken got a good look at the spider and just keeled over.

I immediately sent out gullible, I mean dedicated volunteers to obtain info on what was causing the breach. Immediately reports came in giving the size of the intruder as anything from four to eleven feet in diameter and that it was a psychotic, ravenous monster trying to rip the patio doors off their hinges. This sounded serious, so I sent some of our lower IQ researchers who are our shock troops whenever danger threatens, to confront the beast and lure it away from the entrance until we could get it into rifle range. Unfortunately we haven’t heard from those folks yet but I imagine they’re just taking a break and will soon be back in touch. One of the supervisors who normally do not place themselves in any high risk situations, quickly glanced over the railing and said there was a shoe down there and what looked like an elbow but no sign of people. Since she could not determine if it was a human elbow we still have hope that these folks have simply run away and hidden themselves down in the bunker in the valley like they have before, the cowards.

Something had to be done, and quickly, before things got out of hand. Luckily we have had a pest control agent on standby since we opened the Institute to visitors back in ’09 and we immediately put him to work. After staking out a young pony as bait we sent the sniper, I mean, pest exterminator up on the roof and as soon as the arachnid made a move for the pony he opened up with his Mauser Mod. 1918 13.2 mm Tankgewehr  or Mauser 1918 TuF Gewehr as its known in the trade. Even then it took 35 rounds in the kill zone right behind the mandibles before he dropped it. We also learned to let these beasts lay there for an hour or so after shooting them in case they lash out in their death throes, as one of our more backward interns learned to his dismay. We unfortunately were unable to pry his leg out of the jaws of this creature but on the bright side our workman’s comp is paid up.

The rest of the day has been spent quartering the thing up and hauling the remains to our commissary storage unit. Supposedly there are ways to fix these things if you know the tricks involved. We have a chef coming in from Japan who has had a lot experience fixing poisonous things to eat so that may offset some of the damage caused by this whole episode. We are also setting up contingency plans so that if we have similar episodes in the future it will not interfere with our posting schedule. Thank you for your patience and understanding.



Missed Payments

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What you see here is a sad story. That’s rain out there on the plains and its falling pretty good where its falling and that’s a good thing. But you’ll notice it isn’t falling everywhere, there’s empty spaces between those rain spouts, and that’s the sad part of the story.

Out West here water is more important than anything else. Its more important than politics, religion, money, although all those things play a part in managing it. It’s the actual water itself, the wet part, that is important. There’s been wars fought over it, laws made controlling it, lives ruined for lack of it. It’s a big deal here.

Water is becoming scarcer and scarcer every season and so it’s becoming expensiver and expensiver every season. The powers that be have set up what is called, ‘the Rain Commission’, which is made up of the usual suspects and they’ve managed to set the price on rain. The price being determined by how much rain you want, how long you want it to rain for and how often. And by how much the R.C. can make off it by establishing their regulatory fees. They say its expensive maneuvering those clouds around and timing the rainfall, so if you want rain now, you’ve got to ante up and they aren’t fooling. Get out the big bucks and if you think the price is going to go back down again you’ve been listening to those oil boys too long.

You can own water here and keep it for yourself if you’re a ruthless greedy bastard. Politicians get elected and unelected over it by deciding who gets to use it. We’ve even got a law that says you can’t catch the rain that falls off your roof and use it for your own selfish needs unless you want to go to jail. That rain has to run down unimpeded to where the people who want to control it can get their hands on it. They collect it in big ponds they call reservoirs and fence it off and the people who live around them can’t even swim in it, or go boating on the top of them without the rain owners permission because they own the surface rights to that stored up rain. Consequently bootleg water can be a big business if you’ve got the stomach for it and you can dodge the Rain Commission’s regulators. They’ll disappear you if they catch you dealing water. But folks have a way of working around  things like that. That’s why you rarely see those plastic water bottles littering up our highways out here. As soon as someone sees one it is snatched up and guess what goes in it. Yup, rainwater. You’ll see people out behind the 7-11 passing money over and loading those plastic bottles into their trunks.

Which brings us back to the sad part of our tale. If you look again at that rain falling out on the plains you’ll see that there are spaces between the rainfalls, we mentioned that at the beginning of this story. In the old days, before the ‘Rain Commission’, that rain that’s falling out there would have been a solid unbroken sheet of water running from Denver in the South to Cheyenne in the North. Everybody would have gotten some. And it was free water, a gift from the heavens to make those farmers lives easier. Now you got to pay for that rain. The politicians and the greedy rain owners have put a price on it. They’ve commoditized it. The spaces where the rain isn’t falling are over those poor farmers land that missed their rain payments and so now they don’t get any. No pay, no rain. It’s going to take a lot of trips to the back of the 7-11 and a lot of those plastic water bottles to make up for that lost rainfall for those poor folks. Crops don’t grow themselves, they need that water. There’s going to be a lot of unhappy farmers out there. It also looks like there’s going to be some more politicians out of work soon. I wonder if they’ll take up farming. Probably not.


Caracara0621click to enlarge

You know Mother Nature is a busy person right, she can’t do everything. Some stuff just has to be farmed out. I would say that whoever she selected to be in charge of bird coloring was a snap decision, you know, made in haste, she was on a tight schedule, there was a lot of pressure. We are not just talking about this guy marching to a different drummer, he didn’t even know where the band was playing. This person, and it must have been one of those lowest bids kind of things, must have padded his resume, like, big time.

The ad that went out for this job must have been something like,

Wanted:::Cosmos building individual with busy schedule needs an all around artist with complete command of the color spectrum, must be a freethinker with a deep understanding of the nuances of shading, blending and complimentary color theory to design and provide individual color schemes for a unique line of feathered creatures that propel themselves, unaided, through the atmosphere. These creatures will be collectively known as birds. These ‘Birds’ which are still to be issued, will need to have color schemes that compliment their environment, provide for their safety and not make them look goofy. Send full resume showing past experience with this type of creation, include complete portfolio of proposed artwork with estimated color application cost per bird. If you want your materials returned please provide a stamped self-addressed envelope with return address to, M.N. Cosmos creations, LLC, 3050 Backside of the Moon lane, suite 11c, Earth, 90210. All replies confidential.

We can’t have any idea of how many applicants there might have been but we can speculate on the thoroughness of the vetting process. My guess is that that process too, was farmed out to a another group who had limited knowledge of color and were still dealing with the whole light, dark thing and took the first guy who came along with any thoughts on the matter at all. That they could get him for next to nothing sealed the deal.

Now you can generalize that he did all right when he first started out. Bluebirds are nice, cardinal, crows and ravens, anything with primary colors were a slam dunk and once the boss saw that things were going along ok she went off to handle other bigger more pressing things. What to put on mountains to keep the dirt from sliding down into a big pile at the bottom, stuff to go into the oceans, that’s a big job all by itself, where and how many spots to put on things like cheetahs and leopards, that’s a detail but you got to know about the details before you can delegate the job, and etc., the list was endless, so its easy to see how she might have missed our boy in charge of bird coloring going off the deep end  somewhat.

All in all we got to give him a little credit, it was a huge job after all, and he didn’t screw up all that often, and it had to get a little boring near the end. He had to have his dark days also, look at buzzards for instance or all the scavengers, they could have been handled a little better. But you figure he had to take what they did for a living into consideration while he was contemplating their coloring, and that would be enough to put you off your oatmeal for a while.  No wonder they are just plain butt ugly.

After much consideration I’m changing my opinion of this guy. Even after viewing the Caracara above I’m going to give this guy an 8.7. This was a tough job, much tougher than it looked at first glance. I’m going on record and saying I’d recommend him and if he needs a recommendation, I’m there.

Whole lot of Joules

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Here at the Institute we get a lot of lightning. Storms come rolling through the valleys sending out lightning and thunder at an incredible rate. This is the view from the observation deck of the main headquarters building here at the Institute and it is a typical sight from a Saturday night storm. This is known as your forked lightning. Other than the fact that forked lightning can cause humongus forest fires we don’t mind it that much.

Storms on other nights generate different amounts and types of lightning, such as a Tuesday night storm will create what ‘s known as Ball lightning. Ball lightning is just what it sounds like, instead of the crisp forked strikes like in the image above, you get lightning in the shape of balls of various sizes that roll along the ground willy-nilly, jumping here and there and generally setting stuff on fire.

Monday is a bad night for lightning. Monday you get what is called Sheet lightning, that is lightning in a sheet form that if it strikes too close to your house will set your bed on fire. Don’t sleep in your bed on Monday nights.

Wednesday nights are ok, we don’t get storms on Wednesday nights.

Friday night lightning is what is referred to as CC lightning, or Cloud to Cloud lightning. This is the party lightning of the celestial electrical power service. It’s on Friday night because that is party night, where folks gather in the out-of-doors for different social events. Softball games, beach parties, mid-night marches on Washington, Ranger talks at National parks, anywhere that people get together in groups of fifty or more for some legitimate reason you’ll find CC lightning. The sound of the thunder you hear is actually the crowd noise of the people watching it. CC lightning is Mother Nature’s answer to the 4th of July.

Thursday is sort of an iffy night for lightning, it’s kind of  a people’s choice deal. You can get Rocket lightning, Bead lightning, Ribbon lightning, or even Staccato lightning. When you check in at the National Center for Lightning Prediction’s website to see what’s on tap lightning-wise there is a box you can check for the type of lightning you prefer. They average the votes and that’s what you get that night. Vote Rocket lightning, very, very cool.

Sunday…..Man, Sunday is the one you got to watch out for. Sunday we get, and I hesitate to even write this down, Dark Lightning. Dark lightning is bad, really, really, really bad. I used three really’s there because it is really, really, really bad. Dark lightning is made up of stuff most of us don’t even know about, stuff like high energy electrons and its evil twin brother, the anti-matter equivalent, positrons. Don’t be fooled by that name there’s nothing positive about them. That’s anti-matter we’re talking about here. You don’t mess with that stuff. Carl Sagan didn’t even mess with that stuff. Chuck Norris wouldn’t mess with that stuff. If anti-matter happens to mix with your matter, parts of you disappear. And you don’t grow it back. When all those high energy electrons and anti-matter equivalent positrons are doing their thing, it causes explosive emissions of terrestrial gamma ray flashes that the scientific community says are faster than normal lightning. Faster than normal lightning! Do you know how fast normal lightning is? Faster than a cat in a taco kitchen, that’s how fast. Faster than a Big Mac in Bill Clinton’s hands. Fast. What makes it even worse is you can’t even see it. Its Dark Lightning.

We have chosen not to participate in any Dark lightning events here at the Institute and I recommend you do the same. It’s not that we’re scared, it’s a safety thing. Make sure to check that box too, the don’t have Dark Lightning events box, when you’re on the National Center for Lightning Prediction’s website. Its right below the people’s choice selection for Tuesday night. And here’s a PSA for all you folks born with a Silver Spoon in your mouth. Stay inside when there’s lightning. Seriously, stay inside.

One Headed Buffalo Calf

One HeadedCalf4969click to enlarge

You know when you’re waiting in line at the supermarket because that lady that just walked jumped in front of you has sent the checkout person back to exchange a cucumber that had a spot on it for another one. You know who I mean, she’s the same one who orders spaghetti at McDonald’s and then argues with the counter guy because it’s not available. Well when this happens and it always does, it gives you time to read those magazines at the end of the counter, the ones with stories like “My Grandmother Had Bigfoot’s Baby!” and “Aliens Ate my Poodle!” stuff like that. Well I like those. It gives you a chance to see what the normal folks are up to while you’re out in the boonies taking pictures.

So there, right on the front cover was the story “One Headed Buffalo Calf Born in Yellowstone!” I was GobSmacked I got to tell you. I had recently been up to Yellowstone and hadn’t heard a word about it. You’d a thunk they would have had roadblocks set up so everybody coming and going would know what was going on. Nope, not a word.

I was so excited by this phenomenon that I dropped my gallon jug of Ensure and dashed out to Yellowstone. I didn’t even stop to water my Coleman’s coralroot, a stunning purple orchid that exists in only a few mountain ranges in the Southwest. Fewer than 200 are known to exist in the wild and I had just nudged mine into blooming. I didn’t care. All I could think of was to get up to Yellowstone and document this miracle before some else did.

I barely came to a rolling stop at the park’s entrance to flash my lifetime Geezer Pass and current Driver’s License while yelling “Where is It ? Where’s the one headed Buffalo calf?” The attendant crisp and sharp in her freshly pressed Ranger suit barely looked up as she said “Try along the Madison.”

I was baffled. Here we have one of the biological miracles of the century and you would have thought I had asked her where I might see some Japanese tourists with cameras. I looked her right in the eye and said “There’s a one headed Buffalo calf in the park and I’m going to find it.” She didn’t seem alarmed as she looked directly at me but I noticed she pushed that red button thing they have in their booths that take your picture.

But I had my first clue, the Madison river, that’s where all the buffalo hang out to have their calves. Clever, hiding it plain sight that way. I drove slowly along watching the various groups of buffalo and then suddenly there it was. She was standing alone as if shunned by the rest of the herd. A young buffalo cow and her newly born ! – One Headed Buffalo Calf- ! I nearly passed out with excitement. My hands were shaking and I couldn’t do a simple thing like set my tripod up, I was only able to extend two of the legs and the stupid clamp wouldn’t work and I finally just threw it down on the ground and kicked it under the truck. I handheld the camera and that is why the first three hundred of my shots were blurry but eventually I was able to get a hold of myself and start acting like the professional I am.

I got those pictures that day. You can see one above in fact. There he is, a one headed buffalo calf born in the wild to a registered full-blooded buffalo mother and I have the picture. There were other photographers there that day and some were taking pictures, but they missed the story of their lives. They looked right past this little guy as if something like this happened every day. Not me though, I got the shot and right now I’m shopping it around to the tabloids. Murdoch hasn’t returned my call yet but that’s probably because some aide is asleep at the switch. Boy is he fired when the boss sees this shot in Nat Geo and he could have had it for a song. My answering machine is blinking, that’s probably Getty wanting exclusive rights, but I don’t know, I’m holding out for the big bucks. Wish me luck.