Rain On The Hoodoos

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We were at our favorite observation point at Bryce national park observing the state of the rock formations in the Valley of the Non-essential Hoodoos when it suddenly began to rain. That in itself is not that unusual, however it was only raining on this one particular set of hoodoos. Not on any of the other hoodoos, (of which some say there are too many of, but we disagree thinking that one cannot have too many hoodoos), but just on these particular hoodoos. As if by design. As if it was being created by some unknown entity just to rain there and nowhere else. A weather modification as it were.

“Hmm,” we said to no one in particular “this has the look of some nefarious organization at work here. Could it be *The Institute?” But then we remembered that The Institute had gone bosoms up, as they say, hunted down and removed root and twig, never to be a formal Worldwide organization again. All of its minions, staff, even its Director cast to the four winds to seek employment elsewhere or to starve pathetically in a ditch somewhere. It’s tons of equipment melted down for the slag market. All of its records, data and spiral notebooks snapped up by its jealous vindictive competitors to be pored through for their secrets. Secrets The Institute had developed over years of blood sweat and tears, not to mention hard work and no small amount of intellectual theft.

We were interested yet dismayed to find that a certain huge, yet well-known imaging processing software company (who shall remain nameless, but whose initials are ADOBE) have blatantly appropriated the Weather Modification program pioneered by the Oceanography and Atmospheric weather modification team of the now defunct organization known as The Institute and incorporated it into its shoddy yet expensive software. You can find it under Adobe/ Photoshop/ Filters/ Make it Rain on the Hoodoos/ Light/ Moderate/ Heavy. To support the claim that The Institute first developed this program we have done some research and found several items that reference The Institutes use of its weather modification program to do good in the world and not do bad, which we have listed below for your perusual.


Bad Weather Day

All Dreams Must End

Storm of The Full Moon

Moon Painting

Cloud Cutting

Stored Away Storms


Behind The Ridge

Thor’s Revenge

Although those of us that remember The Institute are pretty darn mad at that heartless yet soulless large Company that apparently is getting filthy rich off the sweat of the people who made it all possible, we kind of secretly like the ease of how they made it work. The Institute’s program was unwieldy, requiring lots of nuclear power and boring deep into the bowels of the earth for the pilings that held up the equipment and to keep it from shaking causing the neighbors cows to abort. Not to mention the excessive production of enormous quantities of EMF’s around the power shed whenever they fired that stuff up. If by some stroke of fate The Institute ever returns we may just appropriate it for our own use again. Be warned Adobe whats good for the goose is good for the gander.

Announcement ! We’re On A Mission

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Or more accurately we were on a mission. That’s why there have been a dearth of posts lately here at BigShotsNow-The Blog. Saving lives and getting huge ATTABOY’s are what we live for. We’re back now. The patient lived and is properly grateful. Some of you know, at least the ones we’ve rescued from certain disaster before, that *The Institute has a search and rescue facility on site. We get distress calls from individuals all around the globe who have gotten themselves into some sort of medical emergency and needed our immediate response. Consequently we have semi-trained technicians, although they are not always medically trained, that can provide life saving procedures if necessary. Usually they just stand around leaning up against the mess hall wall, looking for someone bleeding or dragging around a severed limb so they can jump on them and save ’em. There have even been unsubstantiated reports of an unsuspecting new-to-be patient getting struck in the brain pan area with a brick or small length of two by four to induce what they call “patient-dom” so they have something to do. Otherwise they serve no useful purpose until a call come in.

But when a call does come in, jump back, because then they go gonzo nuts grabbing their med kits, getting a fix on where the calamity is, piling into the our private medical dirigible,”The Mother Theresa”, and springing into action when necessary. There is no accident or mayhem or chaos that is too far away, or too huge for our team to handle. Their motto is “Yeah, Well, How bad can it be?”

Lets just say you’re in the tall grass just outside of Mburu Buro slightly north and west of JoBerg and you get bit by a Black Mamba, (also called the ex-wife snake) one of the fastest meanest snakes in the world. They’re so mean that if there is no one else is around to bite they’ll bite themselves. You call us, we fire up the dirigible and we’re on the way. Unfortunately in that case you’re SOL because Black Mamba bites are deadly in a about two and a half minutes. Sorry. But thanks for calling us any way.

In each of our med kits we have life-saving equipment, such as big gauzy pads to hide all the blood, point and shoot cameras for selfies and to document our procedures and maybe some scenery shots if we go someplace cool, little skinny bandages that are good for holding someone’s eyelids open when you don’t want them to go to sleep. Lots of different sized baggies for placing over stumps and the rolls of duck tape to hold them in place. Specially grown sticks off of the Hawthorne grove down in the valley to bite on in case we have to remove a limb or larger portions of torso. A small hammer wrapped in a resilient foam-like material to gently tap the patient out with. We cannot, due to a screw up with the licensing procedures, carry any anesthesia or pain medication so we found that a short-term, manually induced coma works just as well, and is more profitable for us. Anesthesia is expensive, just saying.

Recently a very good friend had a procedure done in a normal medical facility run by a For Profit corporation ( first mistake ) that sent her into a total tailspin causing a crash that nearly gave her severe whiplash along with the loss of her spine and resulted in her calling on The Institute to come to her aid. Which we did. Luckily for her we were able to call our team back from that Black Mamba incident and get to her location in time to assist her. It took a few days to get things completely under control, but we did, and now she is happy, not to mention pert and sassy, and in nearly perfect health.  Plus she looks marvelous. She’ll have a few scars but they’re tasteful ones and unless you know her well will never see them anyway. She has a new opinion of The Institute and its Director, which is favorable. Lets hope all that feeling of good will remains after we bill her.

So there you have it. That’s why we’ve been out of touch but there’s plenty of old stuff to read until we get back so don’t go away mad. Remember if you get into trouble “Who You Gonna Call?: The Institute that’s who. We’re standing by.

* 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.

Holy Mackerel !


Is that bird blue or What ?!? As The Director I’m always looking for things that are eye-catching, dazzling, stop you in your tracks beautiful, and as I was walking by the media center here at *The Institute I happened to look up at the several Jumbo-trons we have placed around the Great Hall. On the screen was an image with the most brilliant blue imaginable. Instead of changing to the next image the shot remained on the screen, flickering, casting its blue light across the room as it kept its place in the que of gallery images that are shown throughout the day.

We use the Image Selector, our patented, proprietary little black box that is in charge of picking the image for the day, the one that sits on the desk of the head of our Pick a Picture for the Blog Today department heads’ desk. We never realized that it had a predilection for the color blue, all shades of it actually, and when it came across this image of a Stellar’s Jay it just froze up. Stopped dead in its little electronic tracks. So far the image has been playing non-stop on the overheating Jumbo-trons for seven hours and twenty-eight minutes and shows no sign of stopping.

Unfortunately or not, depending on your tolerance for blue, we cannot shut down the Image Selector for various reasons (See http://www.bigshotsnow.com/first-light-3/ ) so we are patiently waiting for the algorithm that controls the color choice in an image to finally gets its fill of blue. If it doesn’t knock it off by tomorrow we’re going to try hitting it on its flat little top with a rubber hammer. Meanwhile if you like blue you’re in luck. Here’s a good example of it.

* 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.

Behind The Ridge


Those of you who have visited The Institute know that there is more to it than the cluster of magnificent buildings housing some of the most high-tech equipment and knowledge on planet earth. You also know about some of the other activities we have in progress that require their own set of buildings, such as our world famous Observatory placed on the mountain top that overshadows and shelters The Institute.

And there is our world-famous weather modification program that is housed its own tuff shed because of the intricacy of the equipment needed, and the need to keep that equipment out of the weather. We use a lot of tuff sheds because we can get them from Home Depot and have them delivered right to the compound complex. They’re tuff enough for the modifications we make to them to handle things like the hook up for the incredible amount of electrical power needed to change the weather. We bring some of our power in from the outside world and have to use 36″ culverts for conduits which makes it heavy and difficult to connect. It takes three interns just to pick up the plug and stuff it in the socket installed in the side of the tuff shed. Plus if we have to unplug it the tuff shed walls can withstand the force of the pickup pulling on the plug to disconnect it. So we need to use tuff sheds for some of the larger installations. We’re dealing with 111,000 amps here with a three-prong plug nearly 8′ in diameter so a tuff shed is the only way to go.

We have the command center located in the middle of the Institute complex that we call the Big House, which is where our very own Director maintains his own living quarters so he can oversee the immense multiplicity of activities that take place here, and have the kind of living space that he has become famous for, and only the misuse of huge amounts of Institute funds can provide. We have the staff quarters where we house some of more lucid PhD’s, and the compound where Tent city is located to accommodate the many interns that come and go. We have the zoo, the 1.2563 million gallon aquarium, our own high country botanical center with specimens from around the world plus the new ones we have developed right here in-house. We have our own privately owned shock-collar wearing Wolf pack that patrols the property itself. It took nearly herculean effort to bury the power cable around the perimeter of The Institute so the collars would work and apply the necessary voltage to our canine friends to keep them from leaving the property, but not totally kill anyone who accidently wandered onto our property. But it was necessary to keep the pack contained. I mean one or two of the villagers kids go missing and there is a hell of a row. We just don’t have time for that.

We have our incredible data center where we have our very own Cray super computer that we purchased for pennies on the dollar from CSU when they were going to throw it out, if fact some of it was already in the dumpster and we had to dig it out.  Plus, not to mention the hundreds if not dozens of specially modified IBM 8086 floppy disk drive PC’s, daisy-chained together with usb cables and 4″ link log chain to produce another super computer, plus cut down on theft. They were modified because originally the 8086 IBM computer didn’t have a usb connector. We didn’t realize that many of our readers weren’t aware of that. We weren’t either when we purchased them. We just thought we got a good deal. But live and learn, fortunately our trained IT technicians were able to weld the proper usb connectors in place so we ‘re good to go now. The only other issue we’re dealing with is where to store all those millions of 5″ floppy disks that have been accumulating. We may have solved that problem already as our head IT person found storage in the magnetron building where we store all of our spare magnets. So our backups are secure now.

We could go on and on about the yacht harbor on the North Fork of the Cache La Poudre river, our helipad, the Bentley restoration garage, but The Institute is more than these shallow but very cool and desirable things that many of us could not live without. These items mentioned are just the trappings of a wildly successful Institute that brings in bales of money. The projects come and go like financial raindrops. Sometimes you have a torrential monsoon of wealth literally falling out of the sky, other times there is but a drizzle and we’re as broke as the Ten Commandments.

What we also have in abundance is the property itself, and that is what some people think is the most important part of our operation. The miles and miles of limited access wilderness that we oversee. If you have been following the blog for any time at all you know our property encompasses every thing from the driest deserts to the highest mountains and everything in between. Do you have any idea of how much razor wire it takes to fence a spread like this, lots, like really a lot. We have trains full of it pulling into our siding every day.

Recently we have acquired this new piece of property and had it shipped here with everything you see in the image above. The trees, the rocks, the fog, the light. It was simply going to waste in Arizona and because their state budget is strapped because of housing all of the illegal aliens and even some of those from other countries, plus the money it takes to keep that wall polished and in good repair, we were able to get this property at a tremendous discount. Plus all we have to do is let some of the guys in the city council down there come up here and hang out on it every so often and we can even defer the interest on the promissory note for it. I’m telling you, we made out like scalded cats on this deal.

There were some objections raised about the feasibility of moving another mountain here by some of those on our board of directors but after we made known our plans to bring back the Lamprey Surprise menu at the commissary and cut off their contact with the outside world, which meant no internet, no running down to the 7-11 for Slurpee’s, no conjugal visits, they changed their minds and welcomed the idea.

Plus we were able to shoehorn it in where we had that disastrous hazardous waste dump site that was so lucrative for us, until they stopped running a lot of those nuclear power plants and prohibited shipping those 55 gal. drums across state lines. Man did we take it in the shorts on that deal. Dealing with all those EPA guys and losing all those interns we sent down there to try and bury that stuff. That was about as much fun as a tornado in a trailer park.

Right now we haven’t exactly figured out how we’re going to monetize this property but there has to be an angle where we can produce some kind of revenue stream, even if it is only charging a rather expensive but excessive rescue operation for those city council guys that come up and want to use it. That’s some rough country down there before you even get to the hazardous waste dump place. Plus there’s some really deep areas, bottomless ravines and stuff, and cracks that go on for miles. So where we had some install problems fitting that property in there makes it a little dicey to navigate through. You don’t just casually drop a new mountain in place without having something not fit right. So there are places where if you go you might never be seen again, but that’s wilderness, Right?

Any way we thought you might enjoy being brought up to speed on some of the improvements happening here at The Institute. Stop in sometime, but make sure you call first. Seriously, call. Ever since the election started our security people are kind of jumpy. They don’t know what kind of  weirdo might be trying to get in and access our people, so they tend to be rather liberal with the use of those depleted plutonium bullets they carry. Just a warning, especially if you have an expensive comb-over. We’d like to see you but call first.

Short Days


As Director of the World Famous Institute I was surprised and somewhat dismayed at the fact that the days here in the immediate area of the Institute’s holdings are getting noticeably shorter. It was just a moment ago and it was light until nearly 10:00 pm. You could work late. Get things done. Now just a low belch after supper it was getting dark. I mean, like, Geeze. We have things to do yet that require long periods of light. Places to go, pictures to take, stuff to look at. Check out the picture above. That’s what happens when it gets dark early. Well I immediately called a meeting.

Gathering the heads of the various departments that are responsible for handling these types of events I demanded answers. “WTF is going on?” was one of my first queries. Looking around to see who I could pin down for some straight answers my gaze swept over the my elite team of specialists. We have cast offs from NOAA, The WMO: World Meteorological Service, The National Weather Service, the one run by the government, even CoCoRaHS or the Community Collaborative Rain Hail & Snow Network, none of them would look me in the eye. We even have that goofy intern wunderkind that has The WeatherBug widget on his computer at the table, as it seems most of these other supposed experts ask him daily for the forecast. No one ventured an answer.

“This shall not stand!” I roared in my best dictatorial voice “These days shall not get shorter until we get all the crap done we’re supposed to and If heads have to roll, then I advise you to get steel collars on your wife beaters, because they will.” The room got quiet, even the WeatherBug kid snuffed out his joint. They knew I was serious. We’ve had purges here before and for a lot less reason. I reminded them if they had any chance in hell of getting that back pay I was holding just for circumstances like this, they had better get things straightened out and I mean now. Yeah that got the sweat rolling down their faces.

They started brainstorming and the suggestions that flew around our 35′
Amazonian Rosewood table, imported before the moratorium on wasting irreplaceable timber resources went into effect, that went from the sublime to the ridiculous. “Let’s pull an iceberg down and plant it off the coast of California and reflect sunlight back this way. That’ll get us a couple more hours.” This was from the NOAA guy. Every other word out of his mouth was iceberg  this and iceberg that. I remembered they punched his ticket for spending too much time out on the icebergs until he was just too loopy to find his butt with both hands behind him. He may not have been our best pick of the litter.

Someone asked the guy from the WMO, the ex-World Meteorological Service person, for a suggestion but no one could get him to answer until we provided him with a mike and a whiteboard. He’s turned out to be useless. They wouldn’t even send his dossier over, said it was classified. That’s probably why we got him so cheap.

The suggestions flew around the table, each one more preposterous than the next until a quiet voice was heard back at the end of the table. “How much more time do you need each day? How many hours?” The room went deathly still. You could have heard a pin drop. It was the stoner kid, the intern we took in after they towed the 79 Pontiac he was living in. We hired him because he was able to get Outlook to work again and we could get our email. He’s now the head of our IT department and will make big, I mean big bucks, if we ever pay him. I thought for  a minute and said “About 4 hours.” “What time is it now” he asked. I looked at my steel-cased, waterproof to 600 meters Rolex chronometer and said “11:15”. “Set your clocks back 4 hours.” he said.

Set your clocks back 4 hours! Set your clocks back? That would make it like 7:15 in the morning. We had the whole day ahead of us. “Eureka!!!” someone yelled, I think it was that woman from CoCoRaHS and pandemonium broke loose. What an absolute perfect solution and it didn’t cost anything, other than hiring that crazy guy to climb the tower and change that clock up there, but that was nothing compared to the productivity we’d get with the days made 4 hours longer. Who would have thought that little 420 burner, I think his name is Billy Haze, would have the answer. My aide, in a quiet aside, said I should reward him somehow, do something nice for him. So I told him that he could move from his tent into one of the dorm rooms in the intern barracks. He quickly asked if it could be one of the heated ones. I nearly balked but thinking of all the time he saved us I said yes, and he immediately split to move his stuff before I changed my mind.

Right now everyone is in feverish hyperactivity determined to wring every second out of those new 4 hours. Quarterly reviews are coming up and since their pay, or lack of it, is dependent on their scores everyone wants to look like a hero. We’ll see. Personally I’m soon off to an important shoot and can’t wait until I get to pack those 4 hours with pictures from my latest adventure. If I run out of light, I may set my watch back another hour. Genius that kid, absolute genius.

Monday Morning Blues

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This morning feels like Monday Morning Blues. After 10 days of standing out in the searing heat under a white-hot sun, photographing the Greeley Stampede rodeo, it was a relief to be back home and find The Institute grounds shrouded in a cool mist this morning. The temp up at the weather station located in the east tower is 58° as the dawn approaches and the dew point was enough to make your tennis shoes wet when you walked out to check on how the interns were faring.

There were a few smoldering fires in front of several of the tents down in tent city, or as everyone calls it, Internville, in the meadow below, so it looks like they may be up soon getting ready for the days activities but right now it’s pretty quiet. Even the bears are silent as they wander through the small tent city looking for something to eat.

Sometimes you need the gentle calmness of a day like this to change your perspective and allow you to decompress, a time kind of like Luke had, to get his mind right. That’s what makes The Institute special. It provides you with what ever you need. If you’re wound tight and need to reach your inner zen you can do that here. If you need the opposite and have to rev up so you can go out and do good things then that can be found here also.

A good way to get every one pointed in the same direction and up to speed is set the interns to locating and removing the rattlesnake population in the area. That always sets the tone for the day. It’s enjoyable to see them spread out in a long line beating the grass with rattlesnake whippy sticks and hear the call of “There it is! It’s a big one. Get the snake grabber over here before it gets away. OH, man it bit me!” and the gentle chuckles from the other interns who haven’t been bitten yet.

But the best times are when it’s quiet like this and the day hasn’t started yet. The birds are making their first morning noises. The tin roofs are making the creaking groaning sounds they make when there’s been a drastic temperature change, expanding and contracting to their own rhythm. There’s so much dew on the roof that you can hear it running in the rain gutters and dripping into the interns water collection barrel. As Director I walk around the deck in the morning, looking at the grounds, checking to see if any of the interns have escaped, deciding what monumental task we will choose for our next big earth-shaking project and I can almost hear the sound the mist makes as it bumps into the side of the main hall, the center of The Institute’s heart. This is what makes our time here special. Even if it is the Monday Morning Blues.

The image above is Moulton’s Barn in Grand Teton National Park. It gets the blues sometimes too.

The Final Frontier


We have received just under a zillion letters asking about The Institutes ongoing space program. Rather than post each one here we have chosen one letter out of the overstuffed mailbags left leaning on the gate post down at the bottom of the hill. It is from one of our many admirers in Oasis, New Mexico.


“Dear  Director, I just wanted to thank you for the lovely weekend we had. You were so gallant, bringing flowers, wine, reserving our table at Arby’s. I still remember the emergency room visit due to the carbon monoxide leak you had  in the jeep. I’m sorry you almost died but then we shouldn’t have been parked that far out of town. I’m writing this letter because I think we have a “little’ problem as I have not been visited by Mother’s natures gift to women in three months and thought you should (Note: The beginning of this note has been redacted due to its personal nature and continues below regarding our Space program.)

I know you have been working really hard on getting the launch vehicle ready for its maiden flight. I hope my small donation of welding the gantry, it was my first real welding experience since I graduated from County Tech, I gave you helps in your efforts to explore space and its time continuum thingy you talked about. That spark that started the fire and burned down the control center was unfortunate, but those things happen when you weld in knee-high grass. You were good about it though. You seemed so smart. That ‘s why I decided to let you (Note: Sorry, didn’t catch that the first time I reread this.)

I drove by the Space Port the other day and noticed that part of the gantry, is that the right word?, had fallen down, I guess I should have ‘tacked’ it more, that’s welding talk, hon, and one of the letters in America was crooked. When are you coming back down here to work on it? We really, really need to talk, I think that our little problem (Note: the rest of the letter doesn’t pertain to our Space program so I’m just going to leave it off. She ends with,)

I miss you terribly and hope that your extra government funding comes through so you can send this ship up into the heavens. I’m thinking about your offer to be the first woman in space from New Mexico and the honor that would be but I’m a little concerned about the rust around the  engine compartment, is that supposed to be there? Hoping to see you soon, and I mean soon, yours truly,

Spacey in New Mexico.”

Well, we don’t have an answer for Spacey as she obvious has us confused with some other space ship builder and cosmos explorer. Unfortunately we get letters like this periodically but that’s the price of fame. We hope everything works out ok for her and she finds the right space explorer to help her with her problems. But I have no recollection of anyone in New Mexico named Spacey and now that I look more closely at the picture I think that isn’t even our space vehicle. Ours had USA on the side, I remember, our letters were the really neat wooden ones with the routed edges because we got a deal on them from Home Depot, not those plastic cheap ones they used for America on this spaceship, and it was pointed up more. Anyway thank you for all your cards and letters and remember to include us in your last bequests when you make out  your will. We could use the funding for more programs like this one.