I Got this


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Well crap, another Monday morning. Let’s see, this is supposed to be a big week too. I know I’ve got meetings coming up but I don’t have a clue when and where. I need some bugs or something. What the hell happened to the weekend, a second ago it was Friday afternoon and then there was that party at the Worms Tip, I am never going back there, not ever. Oh my God, did I take home that Brown Thrasher that was hanging around? I did, didn’t I. I did. Man…everyone knows she has mites. I can not believe I did that. That means I’m going to have to sit through another series of insecticide spraying over at the sugar beet field. That stuff gets rid of mites but it can’t be any good for you. I am so stupid. I wonder where Slim Billy, my wing-man is, why didn’t he stop me. I ought a jerk his primaries out I wouldn’t of let him go back to the tree with her. What goods a wing-man if he doesn’t stop you from being stupid. I’ve saved his tail feathers enough times. OK I need to get well, I wonder if there’s any of that fermented hummingbird food left at the Johnson’s feeder, that ought to work. Then I got to find my Daytimer I know I’m going to be late to something. I hate Mondays.

Life’s Surprises

The RutBegins-7click to enlarge

Shocked! That’s the word I was looking for. Every once in a while you run up against something that just smacks you right in the face. No warning, no by-your-leave just “Hey” and you catch one right in the old choppers. That’s what happened to me yesterday.

For a very long time I’ve been photographing the ‘Rut’ that happens every fall here in the mountains. That’s where the bulls, like the one you see above, get together and wage battle for the mating rights to replenish the herd and pass along their genes in the process. Every year they do this, it’s one of principal reasons they grow those huge antlers, I mean otherwise, why bother. And every year I’m there to photograph the event. Until this year that is.

This year commitments beyond my control have prevented me from being in my favorite spot, camera in hand, documenting the activities as I have for what seems like eons. I’ve known deep down in my soul that if ever I was unable to attend the rituals, they would simply postpone them until I could make it. But they didn’t! They went right the hell along and started them anyway. Holy Freaking Cow! This feels like such a betrayal. I am devastated and as you might imagine, upset. I’ve only been able to eat a few thousand calories per meal but luckily I have been able to keep those down. You can not begin to imagine the pain of knowing that there they are, those heartless uncaring bastard bull elk, going about their business as if it didn’t matter that I wasn’t there. What about all the times I was there and photographed them in all their glory then published the pictures bringing them great fame and riches they could never have obtained on their own, the miserable wretches. They don’t care, the “what have you done for me lately” attitude they’ve developed is just sickening.

Well, there it is then. It is what it is. I’m going up and make eleven pounds of spaghetti for breakfast and they won’t get a single bite the rat-bastards. They’ll be out there getting their cans kicked back and forth across the meadow and I’ll be here in my warm house eating spaghetti and laughing. So much for them, see if I vote for gun control.

Color Dump


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Any one who has been to Bryce National Park can tell you about the incredible colors available to the viewing public. It’s as if every color that has ever been thought of has been used here just to impress the viewer. It would take years just to identify the shades of red used, not to mention the purples and magentas and blues and on and on and on. This random appearing vista known as Bryce National Park isn’t just left to nature to construct, this is a carefully choreographed production by many, many people who work in the color trades.

It takes a tremendous amount of effort to keep a place like Bryce looking fresh and vibrant all the time. We here at the Institute commend the National Park service for spending the time and money to keep a full staff of colorist’s working to constantly present to you, the American public, new and updated views of your national parks. It’s not easy creating the new looks the public demands, many of which are driven by the constant barrage of photos and articles in the trendy fashion magazines available now. The constant need to change and create the new looks the public demands from their national parks are powered by the advertising combines that fuel the publics’ demand for new fresh colors and textures. And that effort doesn’t even include the maintenance required in a place that has constant erosion problems from wind and rain, freeze and thaw that are a constant force here in the park. The repairs alone take a crew of seven just to keep the colors that have fallen off the rock spires swept up and carefully disposed of.

Yes it is a huge expense to keep the constant repairs and upkeep and the semi-annual color change that takes place each year up to the standards we’ve come to expect. The expense of creating and applying a new color in a national park is absolutely huge and quite frankly in the present economy not sustainable. Which is why the park has had to resort to repurposing materials that normally would be disposed of or sent to another park in a complex color exchange program. There have been cutbacks and re-budgeting that have cost the jobs of at least one colorist and two of the maintenance people that we know of and who knows what the future holds. It’s possible that if these reductions in budget continue we may be forced to resort to leaving this entire process in Mother Nature’s hands, and that is a terrifying prospect.

On a recent trip our staff photographer found some unsettling evidence of some of these new programs already in place. The image above, which was obtained under very dangerous conditions, our photographer had to walk down a hill and look behind some big rocks to be able to get a photo of this carefully hidden away site that clearly shows a color dump in use as a storage facility. It seems the material will be used to replace some of the other colors instead of manufacturing the new colors that were scheduled to be applied. We have learned that this has caused massive layoffs in not only the color manufacturing sector but in related industries as well, such as trucking, scaffolding building and erection, color application tools and devices, the list goes on. And this was only one site! Apparently there are dozens of these sites scattered around in the back areas of the park that are off-limits to the general public.

The end result of course, is that you the American public will not get to see the newest most carefully designed color schemes when you make your next visit to Bryce National park. Instead you will see the same somewhat tired, but tried and true, colors that have been used for ages, although admittedly they are perfectly adequate and the average tourist will notice little or no change but we know what the difference is. So if you want to see the latest colors displayed you better hurry and see them now, they’re already a season old and it looks like they won’t be replenished this year or for many years to come. You better jump in the old microbus and head to Bryce before Mother Nature has her way and you’re stuck with seeing the old colors for ever. P.S. bring your camera it’s still pretty.

Friday Color

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We have sort of developed a tradition here at the Institute of posting something on Friday that has a calming, soothing effect on our readers. We know you work hard all week and you look forward to the weekend so you can let off some steam by going absolutely gonzo, freaking nuts. You might not have intended for this to happen, but you know how it is, you get out with some friends, you drink a quart of Everclear or Mad Dog 50/50 and suddenly you can’t find your shirt and you have a ticket for your impounded vehicle stapled to your ear, some one has sewn your three smallest toes together and you have your bosses’ name tattooed on your forehead. These things happen. We’ve all been there. Why I remember one time in Creede, Colorado I …. uhm wait, let’s not go there as I do not know if the statute of limitations has cleared on that one yet.

The Institute is charged with seeing to the public good and trying to prevent the public bad. It’s what we do and we take it very seriously. We don’t want to see you wind up in that drunk tank in Nuevo Leon, Coahuila, Chihuahua or even Tijuana, although I hear that one has almost turned into a country club compared to the hell hole that is Piedras Negras, they don’t call the ‘Black Rocks’ the rectum of the world for nothing, but I digress. Just don’t do it, stop, think, relax and just say no.

To help you just say no, we are posting this image in the hopes that it will take that edge off that’s been building all week, think of it as Visual Valium, and the good news is you can take as much of it as you want with no dangerous after effects. There’s no OD-ing on beauty folks. Won’t it be cool not to have to explain to your significant other why you’re in White Horse, Canada when you call asking for bail next Wednesday. That’s when they finally let you have your phone call as you can only call out once a week up there. I know, it was a turning point for me. So again I suggest you reread this post then refer to the image above as often as you need to. Send it on to those friends you have doubts about. They may thank you for your help, although unless you have bail money you may not want to include your phone number. Let me know how you make out.

Yo Da Lady, The Lady Who

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Fall and music is in the air. Up in Rocky Mountain National Park the bull elk’s favorite season is here, the trees are starting to turn into the spectacular golden hues of autumn, their antlers are polished until they nearly glow in the dark, and they’re ready for their favorite musical pastime, yodeling. Yes, you heard right, Yodeling. Many people don’t know, including the folks that study these magnificent creatures, that the majority of the elk found in the central Rocky Mountain region above 10,200′ are originally from Switzerland, the home of the yodel.

During the period of 1450 thru 1575  A.D. there was a massive migration of Rocky Mountain Elk or “Wapiti” as they’re known in the highlands of Switzerland, from the Langnauerli and Schwyzerörgeli regions. And of course those elk who came from the Schwyzerörgeli region brought along their favorite instrument, the Schwyzerörgeli Diatonic Accordion to accompany their yodeling. I mean, how could they not. It’s been their belief that you can’t yodel to anything else and some of the purists in the herd simply won’t.

They found the area in Northern Colorado, especially the high meadows of Rocky Mountain National Park, to be most like their homeland and settled there in great numbers. It wasn’t long before you heard the sounds of yodeling and of course the snappy foot-tapping rhythms of the accordion echoing off the mountainsides, filling the meadows and stream bottoms with the festive sounds of their native country like this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BjrlemFSVFk

Although yodeling was a way of communicating between the bulls during the off-season when one bull would be on one side of the mountain and another would be on the opposite side and they wanted to get together somewhere in the middle to have coffee and those delightful little pastries, Bräzeli, and perhaps listen to some yodeling while they dined, yodeling is now mainly done in the fall months of September and October and perhaps early November. In fact instead of being a method of displaying their musical emotions throughout the year, it has turned into a battle cry for many of the more aggressive bulls. Unfortunately it is becoming less and less popular with the young bulls as an art form who now prefer to listen to “Hootie and the Blowfish” or “Luther Vandross”, or even “Little Richard” rather than the music of their fore-fathers. It has gotten to the point where the older bulls have resorted to bringing in tutors from the motherland to instruct the younger set on the correct way to yodel. Here’s an example http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJHn542lPok

The good news is the traditional sounds of yodeling are beginning to be heard again high in the back country of the Rockies. If you are fortunate enough to be nearby when the music starts be sure to listen for the incredible sounds of Switzerland in the mountains. Its yodeling time again in the big herds, don’t miss it.

Prairie Mansions


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Out on the prairie there are places where you can see for three days. There is nothing to obstruct your view except for the occasional rock outcropping or the stunted tree that has managed to eke out a living, somehow defying the odds to remain one of the prairie’s only permanent citizens. The hills roll on forever and if you are standing on top of one of them the only thing taller than you are the huge clouds that sail slowly past like the prairie schooners that pushed through here on their way further west. The wagons left two ruts to show their passage towards dreams unrealized, the clouds leave only shadows.

Not all the dreamers went west. Some stayed and gambled that there was a living to be made here. Maybe to run cattle, there was plenty of grass, but there was also drought and tornadoes and fire. Some tried farming but Mother Nature was a cruel landlord and taught a hard lesson to those dry land farmers. There was rain but only when she allowed it, and very often she didn’t. Others, though not very many, brought their fortunes with them and bought their existence, building grand prairie mansions and becoming royalty here on the plains, ruling what they could while their fortunes lasted.

But the plains are nothing if not eternal. They have the stamina and constancy that humans can only dream of. You may affect change here for a while and even look like you’re successful but the prairie has patience, and sooner or later it will watch your dreams and desires fade away, and all traces of your passage will be as if they never happened. Sad for those who dreamed perhaps, but nothing at all to the winds and clouds that blow across the prairie.

For those of us living on a time-table that is measured in minutes and seconds all this change appears to be very gradual, lasting for what may be half a lifetime before you see a dream crumble back to earth. But if you stop and take a good long look you can occasionally see into the future, and what you see will be green grass waving in the wind and huge white clouds sailing overhead and perhaps a chance for the next dreamer to try his luck.

Twin Suns : Planet Earth

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Every one has been complaining that this summer was one of the hottest on record and it was. We had drought, record temperatures, forest fires, unusual weather, irritated wildlife, irritated spouses, disgruntled outerwear manufacturers, happy soft drink purveyors, and just about every kind of social problem you could imagine. It was not a good year to be working on the chain gang under the hot Alabama sun. That blacktop just would not set up and the straw boss would only let you have so much water. Everyone blamed global warming.

Unfortunately global warming was only part of the problem. This is going to be difficult to confess but we’ve always been straight with you, our readers, and if anyone needs to know the truth it is you. As you know we have many different research programs going on here at the Institute, what we may not have fully disclosed due to advice from our attorneys, was that we have a program that is experimenting with “Interdimensional Travel”. We always use capital letters when we refer to it because it is like really important and it can’t be confused with other stuff we do that is kind of important but not quite so hazardous for the human race.

“Interdimensional Travel” is really complicated and needs very smart people to work on it. You have to have graduated from an extremely intellectual college that does science and academics and stuff, not from a tech school or an online university, and have gotten at least C’s in all of your classes. This is important, we check. After all, a program that daily confronts the mysteries of Inter-dimensionality, Astral travel, time-warping, quantum mechanics, math, algebra, long division, Interdimensional Portal creating (remember that one because that one was pretty darn important) and other complicated stuff that is really hard to spell.

“Just what the hell happened?” you asked. Well it’s complicated. When you travel between dimensions you have to have a door, or more correctly, an “Interdimensional Portal” other wise how you gonna get over there, right.  Creating one is the tricky part, it’s where you use all that science and Math and stuff, and it has to be done very carefully and monitored constantly because if you make one little mistake it can end life on earth as we know it, so you need to pay attention. No taking breaks whenever you feel like it, no running off to the bathroom just because you have to go, no x-box, no sexting with your girlfriend, you’ve got to be on the ball and focused, above all focused.

One of the critical aspects of maintaining an “Interdimensional Portal” is that it is possible, no very likely, that if you can go through it, you can also come back through it, not just you but anything or anyone else that’s on the other side too. In other words its a two-way street, or door, so to speak. That’s why it is important to pick nice dimensions with friendly stuff in it when you open one of these cosmic doorways. We keep a list of all the dimensions that it is OK to go to and a list of all the ones that are bad. These lists need to be clearly marked on the top of the page in black highlighter, we use Bic ones for this, whether it is the good list or the bad list. These lists are then posted on the fridge where we keep the Red Bull so everyone knows what page we’re on.

The dimension we’ve been investigating lately is a close one proximity-wise, right next door to our dimension in fact, and it is very similar to ours with the exception that it is almost exactly 50 years behind us in comparative time. We labeled it dimension 23 left. So, no rap, no meth, lower taxes, lots of tie-dye, you only had three channels, all the usual stuff. The only kicker is that this dimension has two primary suns orbiting their earth. Yeah I know, cool huh? but the downside is it is a lot hotter over there, and that kind of brings us to the problem of our weather here in our dimension.

When you create your Interdimensional Portal you should only keep it open for as short a period as you can, after all its expensive and it creates a hell of a draft between the two places. Remember all those hurricanes we had last year? Due to lots of engineering and R&D we have been able to reduce our hardware needed to do all this stuff down to fit into a tuff-shed and a small storage unit. The machinery needed to create the Interdimensional Portal has been reduced to the size of a Sears 12v battery charger with an 11″ diameter cable running up over to a wall switch, similar to what you have in your home but about the size of a Volkswagen. It take two husky lads working together to throw this switch and it is a tough job. You need Pop-eye arms. Since this program is fairly new, only a few years old, we can’t pay much more than minimum wage to our researchers and occasionally a wimpy one sneaks through our extensive evaluation process. And that’s what happened.

It was a Friday night in early spring, there was free beer and all the burritos you could eat over at the dining room/mess hall and our people on duty were in a hurry to get over there before all the burritos were gone. The Portal had been open because we  had been ferrying over some hazardous waste and it needed to be closed. When you throw that switch that shuts the portal down you need to listen for the click it makes so you know it is completely closed. They didn’t listen for the click. The click didn’t happen. Since this click is about the same decibel level as a sonic boom it is hard to image how they missed it but they did. The portal was mostly closed but not all the way. This allowed what we call in the business, “leakage”. Unfortunately the leakage was in the form of the Electromagnetic Spectrum which is of course, X-ray ~ .01 μm, Ultraviolet ~ .1, μm, Infrared ~ 10 μm, Visible from .39 μm to .76 μm, Microwave ~ 100 μm’ and Radio wave >10 mm. In other  words, heat. And because there are two suns in that dimension that is why you are hearing everyone say “this summer is twice as hot as I remember from last year”.

I know, I know, don’t write me about this, the feds have been all over our butts constantly, like this is some big deal or something. We changed the switch, now a Girl Scout could throw it, a pair of brownies even, so that problem is not going to happen again. There’s a bill in Congress to raise the minimum wage again, that should help us recruit better people. Sometime stuff happens. The government does crap like this all the time and you don’t hear everyone jumping in their face. Anyway that’s why it’s been so hot lately. Sorry.