Young Boys and Old Dogs

Young boys and old dogs are one of those special relationships that can only happen under the most auspicious circumstances. Timing is everything. The boy is at that perfect age for a canine companion and the dog has the perfect temperament for a rambunctious boy. The circumstances are especially important because you need room for both boy and dog to roam and something to do that makes roaming worthwhile. This is usually never a problem with young boys, or old dogs either, for that matter. They also need a place to return to that completes that most special time period in childhood. And that, of course, is home.

After a full day roaming and doing stuff that young boys have to do to complete their boyhood and old dogs have to do to accompany them, if only to make sure they witness and confirm in dog style that the tasks are done correctly, it’s time to return to the home place. Maybe find a place to settle down and take a rest. Sleep or even a small nap is totally out of the question as boys unlike old dogs, do not give in to weariness. One might miss something. But every so often, when the boy is lying still and the warmth of the old dog begins to seep into his back and neck as he rests against that perfect pillow, his eyes might droop a little and his breathing quiets, and the dog lies still knowing that if it remains quiet it might get a little rest too, a short nap may occur.

The boy is a man now with a grown child of his own, and the old dog is just a memory of sun-filled days and tall grass to run through and the whole world to see. But memories remain and the further back out of the past they come the more precious they are. Especially when they bring back those feelings of seeing a young boy and an old dog doing what they do best. Being together and loving each other. And maybe catching a stray nap now and again.

Moonset On Storm Mountain

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The Mummy range is a mountain range located within Rocky Mountain National Park and is visible from the third tier observation and weather monitoring deck here at *The Institute year round. Storm mountain is particularly visible due to its prominence on the horizon. Normally it is surrounded by other snow caps, well in fact it is always surrounded by other snow caps, and keeps its mantle of white till late into the summer. However in the summer things change. The wet storms begin and they arrive with gale force winds and driving rain. Lots of rain. The lightning and the thunderous sounds of its strikes rending and tearing its way through the sky can be heard for miles. The flashes of the lightning strikes themselves can be seen for minutes and sometimes days after the flash having burned their image indelibly onto your retinas. Which is why you want to always wear welding goggles when looking at lightning or welding too. Remember you only get one set of eyeballs. Treat them as if you’d like to see out of them for a long time. Just because lighting is fun doesn’t mean you should stare at it like a dumb person.

It is during these storms that some of our best pictures are taken of the immense power and magnitude of these storms. Capturing these moments is not for the faint-hearted. To get the full effect of the drama that occurs we have set up an open to the elements, semi-permanent photographic station out on the third tier, cantilevered deck, high up on the West Tower. We have fastened our metal tripod and waterproof cameras to the floor with non-conductive fasteners rated for two billion Joules of electricity in the unlikely event that lightning strikes the setup during one of these photographic sessions.

However lately we haven’t had that much luck in the not getting struck by lightning category. In fact the last three interns we’ve had chained to the tripod have come close to sustaining serious injury and third degree burns from hanging on to the metal railing around the deck when lighting struck the metal collars they were wearing. Some of them find this unsettling and begin screaming uncontrollably and leaping about. Luckily the doors are thick enough to cancel most of the noise. We think maybe the two billion Joules fasteners we used might be faulty.  It’s because the interns tend to run away or even jump off the deck when the lightning strikes get too close, thereby missing the better shots, that we’ve had to resort to the light chaining and padlocking the outer doors to make sure we get all the data we need.

During the last Super moon that occurred our fail-safe lightning rod system broke down in the middle of the torrential storm and let a small amount of lightning slip through to one of our interns who had unaccountably wrapped his chain around the legs of the tripod, tripped and was hanging over the metal deck railing when the lightning burned through his chain, allowing him to slip rather ungracefully over the edge. Apparently he fell down onto the tall timber next to the foot of The Institutes massive stone foundation. We say apparently because we can’t see him in any of the treetops so he must have crashed on through to a lower point. We hope to find him when we do our annual spring pruning next month.

Unfortunately he managed to break off the camera mount and the camera during his struggles losing the images we desperately needed for this post. One of our staff illustrators was able to create a facsimile of the image of the Super moon setting over Storm Mountain in the middle of that fantastic storm that you see above, so we were able to complete the post thereby saving the day. There always seems to be a bright side to these things for which we’re thankful of course. Anyway here you have it such as it is, Moonset On Storm Mountain

* Note: For those of you unfamiliar with The Institute and what it does, please see the page labeled The Institute on the Menu Bar above. That should explain everything. You shouldn’t have one single question remaining regarding The Institute after reading it. None. For those of you favored few who already know about the Institute, Nevermind. Return to your daily activities. Thank you for your support.

Blue Side of Nowhere Pt. 2

On a recent trip to Pawnee National Grasslands looking for early migrating raptors and antelope herds moving north through the short-cropped grass, we were on the lookout for anything moving. The land was empty to the horizon with nothing stirring but tufts of last years golden grass waving in the fitful wind.

Pawnee National grasslands is located 40 miles west of nowhere and 61 miles east of too far. This makes it hard to find unless you really want to get there. We did so we persevered. Not really lost but unsure of where we were we would drive into little towns like Grover, population less than you’d expect and ask “Where are we?”. One reticent local we spoke to answered with gestures more than words, saying we were here pointing downwards, and we should go that way indicated with outstretched arm, and then with a flick of his thumb indicated we should then go that way, which may have been to the right. It was clear as mud but helped us on our way.

There are two large monolithic limestone buttes that rise several hundred feet into the air, sort of like a miniature Ayers Rock, or Uluru as the natives musically call it but doubled, that tell you have reached the virtual center of the Pawnee National grasslands. The full view of these is best obtained by climbing up a steep rutted dirt road that you thought when you turned onto it from another steep rutted dirt road, might take you to the Buttes as they’re called. And the joy and relief you feel that you were right adds to the enjoyment of seeing them, standing there in all their glory, just where the rumors had it they’d be.

Since we were high up on a neighboring ridge with the buttes and half the world at our feet we felt like it was a good place to stop and consider. Much time was spent watching the buttes, waiting to see it they’d move, they didn’t, but the wind through the grass did. The occasional bird flying overhead did, the sun did, but not us. We stayed as still as the buttes and had lunch. Beauty doesn’t negate hungry. All your senses must be fed.

It wasn’t long before the sun had made its relentless journey to the West and threatened to dive behind the blue wall of mountains ending another day. The sky turned an even deeper shade of blue and the realization that we were on a ridge in the middle of nowhere and had many miles to go before we saw civilization again made the decision to leave for us. We began the bumpy jolting journey down towards blacktop and waiting modern life.

The lights jumped crazily over the two ruts that were the road and darkness raced towards us at the speed of light. The hundreds and thousands of miles it felt like we had traveled, although the speedometer said much less, seemed even longer in the encroaching darkness and it was a small relief to suddenly top out and find smooth blacktop under our wheels again. We were on a low ridge forming one side of a wide flat valley that the magic began to happen.

Fog, or mist, no it was fog, much much thicker than mist, substantial and definite as it began to form what looked like, from a distance, impenetrable clouds of pale blue light rising out of the valley floor. At first it was just wispy and directionless. Then as if deciding it was its time to become alive it rapidly formed into opaque fingers that quickly stretched across the valley seemingly barring all access to the outside world. Strangely beautiful it wasn’t long before the entire valley was engulfed in it’s eerie luminescence. It seemed slightly intimidating in its ghostly beauty but if we wanted to get home and at that moment home seemed like a welcome place to be, we entered the valley and trusted to the fates that our journey would be a safe one. Entering the blue side of nowhere had its risks but what doesn’t these days.

The odyssey to Pawnee Buttes National grasslands was a unique experience. Meeting strangers who became helpful, finding lost roads and quirky little side trips, locating the buttes and watching them turn from pure white sandstone to the golden colors of end of day on its smooth-sided walls made every moment one that will be permanently etched into our memory. But what made this a truly meaningful and unforgettable experience was the pale blue fog of the high plains grasslands. What we now call the Blue Side of Nowhere.

A Color Explosion People – A Big One

A Giant Color Explosion, or Man! Did you see that? happened at *The Institute at roughly 4:24 AM this morning. Story to follow below.

An accident of epic proportions has occurred here in the media department at The Institute today. There has been a terrible color explosion. You can see some of the results in the image above which is supposed to be of a quiet subdued pastel fall scene. What we have here instead is the equivalent of a color tsunami. A fall scene gone incredibly bad. Color chaos of monumental proportions. At first we were mystified as to how this could happen. We were clueless and this was much different than our usual every day cluelessness. It wasn’t until we started getting calls flooding our switchboard with frantic warnings that something had gone terribly amiss with our color development process that we realized ” Holy Pixels, we’re in deep Kimchi” as our Korean friends like to say. Calls of “My eyes, my eyes” and “turn if off, for god’s sake turn it off” were heard on almost all three of our incoming lines paralyzing our ability to call the Kodak “Colors Gone Wrong” hotline. We were on our own. We had to figure this out without any competent help and quick, before all ten of our readers including our international readers from other countries saw this.

It was “chaos in the coat closet” as we like to say in that pixel drenched, color saturated room that houses our media department. Senior techs and rank interns alike were bursting into tears as they ran about screaming and banging into things. The sound of palms smacking foreheads became deafening. Forehead lumps as big as hen’s eggs began to appear on the foreheads of some of our senior technicians as they began to grasp the significance of the problem. The same sounds of palms smacking became even louder as those in charge began smacking the foreheads of hapless interns that should have been smacking their own foreheads in frustration but weren’t. They needed a smack just because they were there and had probably caused the problem anyway. The entire department was in a color shambles.

We had no idea how far-reaching this problem was. Did it get into our collection of tasteful female studies rendering them, so to speak, too colorful? Did it paint our animal collection in unnatural tones making them unrecognizable, much like that horse of a different color we saw in Wizard of Oz? Did it extend into our collection of prize-winning black & white images of famous garden vegetables? Could our entire out of control color program roll down the mountainside affecting independent color processing labs in town? Should we evacuate? The questions seemed endless. Was there anyway to contain the truth of this fiasco before it besmirched our reputation? Would we have to ‘LIE’ to save our phony baloney jobs? Again?  An immediate call was put into the White House for advice. So far they haven’t returned our call even though we made it plain we needed help with a big lie. An enormous lie. The spokesman in the Whopping Huge Lie department we got a hold of said they were busy. Call back later. It seems they have their own problems to deal with.

It wasn’t until our pixel tanks began to run dry that we discovered the cause of the problem. And yes it was intern related. We keep our colors stored in individual tanks much like those shiny big stainless steel tanks you see in brewery’s. We call them Color tanks. The primary uncolored pixels that need to be colored and arranged to form the images we display on our daily posts are in adjacent tanks. Which we call the Pixel tanks. The process is fairly simple. When we get an image to process for our daily post, we lay out the blank image surface material, a flat paper-like material called the picture, on a movable platform that is located directly beneath the nozzles of each of the Color tanks. Using algorithms and arcane sorcery we then move the correct amount of pixels from the Pixel tank with a no. 8 scoop shovel to the correct Color tank containing the needed color to impregnate those pixels prior to the pixels being dripped or drizzled or squirted onto the image surface. It’s really very simple. The intern of the day gets a list of colors needed from the Color Section Specialist each day with the color application data that tells it (the intern) which colors should be applied and in which order to apply them, to create the wonderful images you see here on The Institutes posts. It is very important that the colors be applied in the proper quantity and in the proper order. “Do not deviate.” we say. We tell this to all of our deviates. “Do not deviate. Really, don’t do it.”

It seems that the intern on duty whose name shall not be mentioned but whose initials are Lloyd Armstrong Custer, yes a direct descendant of that magnificent decision maker George Armstrong Custer himself, took it upon himself to change the order in which those colors should be applied. Now see, he shouldn’t have done that. That’s what caused the problem. That was really stupid. Everyone knows that yellow and orange are dangerous colors to use together anyway and the utmost care must always be taken when using them next to each other. But it gets even more important, like on a magnitude of say a thousand bazillion times more important, when adding the color purple. Especially the shade of purple like what is on those rocks there to the left of the tree in the middle of the image. It is critical to put that purple color on first before adding any yellow or orange. Failure to do so leads to catastrophic consequences. Well he didn’t. He added it after while the yellow and orange was still wet. The colors then began to mix and well it was shortly after that the tanks began to blow and Rainbow Lloyd as he would be forever known, left the building along with roof. The yellow and orange mixed with the purple on the picture surface and that tore it. That lethal combination did what it does, which is blow sky freaking high and the rest is history.

So far we are still picking up the pieces, checking to see what damage has been done to our priceless inventory of old Nixon photos and other irreplaceable treasures, calling Kansas city to see if they have any of our tank covers, and reluctantly looking for any sign of Rainbow Lloyd. Someone found what may be his shoe. Maybe not. So if you think that perhaps that image above is a little overdone, you’ve got a good eye. It is. Sorry.

* Note: For those of you unfamiliar with The Institute and what it does, please see the page labeled The Institute on the Menu Bar above. That should explain everything. You shouldn’t have one single question remaining regarding The Institute after reading it. None. For those of you favored few who already know about the Institute, Nevermind. Return to your daily activities. Thank you for your support.

Captive Beauty – Green Moray eel

As we periodically do here at *The Institute we are featuring another in our series titled Captive Beauty where we showcase animals in captivity. We started this project sometime ago to show the beauty of animals that may be endangered or basically unavailable to you our readers to see first-hand in the wild.

This image was taken at one of our Green Moray eel repositories that are located throughout the contiguous United states and sometimes in Hawaii, but usually not Alaska and certainly not in Puerto Rico. Nor the Trust Territories which consists of the  Marianas islands. They, the Marianas islands, have free-range Green Moray eels instead that live in the ocean right near the edge of the Marianas trench, one of the deepest and scariest places in the whole ocean to swim over. We advise if you do swim over it don’t look down. You cannot even begin to see the bottom. We mean it it’s scary.

These Green Moray eel repositories are water filled enclaves that feature animals and fish that you might never observe in the wild unless you frequent oceans and submerge yourself in the wetness of their general habitat. Some of you do that and consequently may have seen a Green Moray eel up close and personal. This is for the rest of you that don’t do that but are somewhat curious about what it would be like if you did.

As you can see they are green and have the most startling blue eyes you might ever come across when observing eels in general. Most eels have eyes that are small and squinty yet unremarkable but as you can see not the Green Moray eel. Those peepers are blue. If you get a chance go see a Green Moray eel. They are truly beautiful creatures. We know they would appreciate it and you might enjoy it yourself.

If you would like to see other animals that have been featured in our Captive Beauty series simply type in Captive Beauty in the search box at the top of the page.

* Note: For those of you unfamiliar with The Institute and what it does, please see the page labeled The Institute on the Menu Bar above. That should explain everything. You shouldn’t have one single question remaining regarding The Institute after reading it. None. For those of you favored few who already know about the Institute, Nevermind. Return to your daily activities. Thank you for your support.

Diorama Sale !

Here it is again! Our February Inventory Clearance sale of overstocked Dioramas! That’s right throughout the month of February *The Institute is making all of our Overstocked Dioramas available to the public at a vastly reduced price. Everything must go to make room for our new Spring line. We are offering especially low prices for all of our top sellers regardless of size or overall approval rating from the traveling public.

Shown above is our deluxe Spruce Tree House Surprise diorama from our exclusive Mesa Verde National Park series. One of our all time best sellers. This is an extraordinary 1:1 reproduction of one of the most scenic views from famed Spruce Tree House, a centuries old Anasazi dwelling normally off-limits to all but the richest visitors. You heard us right! That’s a 960′ wide by 1530′ high, 18″ thick exact copy of Spruce Tree house. Unlike the original you can walk right up to this reproduction and touch it without fear of repercussions or arrest from Rangers or others seeking to protect our National heritage. Avoid being Tazed or tear-gassed by over zealous authorities. With your own personal copy you could even tag it with your own slogans or art work using our own proprietary spray paint that washes off easily with a power washer and ultra-strength bleach. Make it your own by using your own designs or purchase, for a reasonable cost, our own patented stencils for fun and artistic display. Fix what the Anasazi left out. Add those missing items to your diorama like your street address, or personalized messages like “Emma’s Garden” should you choose to install it in your backyard.

We were able to get into the park late in the evening and pull rubber molds from the dwellings and rock face adjacent to them allowing us to get the realistic detail and character that you have come to demand from our dioramas. In fact, on some of the earlier serial numbered dioramas you can even find small pieces (not more that 6″ in diameter or less) embedded in our reproductions. Proudly show your friends bits of these unique pieces of dwellings from a World Heritage site. Note: we cannot guarantee that all dioramas will have these exclusive chunks of Anasazi history embedded in them so order soon to get the pick of the litter.

This beautiful one piece diorama is made from our own patented, trade marked, super-secret foam and pumice material guaranteed to last for months and months with little or no upkeep. Order it with our own optional specially formulated sealer that will protect it from the elements, bird droppings, rain, (acid rain excluded) sun, most unexpected mishaps, small children, civil disobedience, war, dog urine, and other acts of mayhem. Not suitable for Rock Climbers. Note: this is a non-smoking diorama, keep open flames, jerks smoking, and kids with magnifying glasses away. This puppy will go up like a Roman Candle if not properly protected. Burning chunks will stick to the skin if contact is made. Use at your own risk. The Institute is not responsible for any claims of damages or loss of life due to improper installation and use. Read and understand any directions included with this product. Dispose of packing materials properly. Installer is responsible for the placement of guide wires and other supports and all necessary permits.

Order now for immediate delivery. We have less than sixty of these beauties left and they will go fast. Marked down from our every day price of $106,975.00 to $3900.00 these beauties won’t last long. Cash,Credit cards, checks (please allow nine weeks for us to clean out your bank account) bearer’s bonds, items of gold, silver, platinum and/or precious stones gladly accepted. Se Hable Espanol. Please indicate your preferred method of shipment, PP, UPS, or Common Carrier. Call us for shipping charges. Purchaser responsible for unloading.

As this may be your first exposure to our National Parks and World Heritage sites dioramas you might like additional background information on these wonderful additions to your State or County parks, or for that mega-mansion you’re building, or even to dress up that local trailer park, please see the following post for more information. 

We look forward to cashing your check and doing business with you. Remember order now and order often. We can’t do this all day.

* Note: For those of you unfamiliar with The Institute and what it does, please see the page labeled The Institute on the Menu Bar above. That should explain everything. You shouldn’t have one single question remaining regarding The Institute after reading it. None. For those of you favored few who already know about the Institute, Nevermind. Return to your daily activities. Thank you for your support.