Grand Canyon Diorama

This is the proposed sketch for the new Grand Canyon diorama. Due to possible governmental budget cuts (by shortsighted bureaucrats and other government officials with comb overs), where our National parks’ funding for upkeep and improvements is considered a frivolous and unnecessary expense, we have been contacted by the state of Arizona to create a diorama that would be viewable from the various lookouts and other vantage points most used by visitors today. This would be undertaken to help offset some of the detrimental effects that would occur from this shortsighted but lucrative action.

The officials of Arizona, where some of you know the Grand Canyon is currently located, have indicated a growing concern for the likely loss of tourist dollars if large portions of the Grand Canyon are closed to view. The new Wingnut in charge of overseeing our Nation’s National Parks and wildlife’s well being and good health as well as other parts of our citizens lives and freedoms here in our good but not great enough yet country, is proposing that not only should funding be cut for the maintenance of our park system but actual use of the parks should be curtailed as it would be more beneficial to the overall public good if those individuals who insist on visiting our national parks and take nonprofit advantage of its beauty, would stay home and tend to their coal burning furnaces and visit places more suited to enhancing our economy, such as the various golf courses, gambling casinos, high-rise hotels and other privately owned profit centers.

To aid in encouraging this new type of activity large areas of the Grand Canyon will simply be blocked off and closed to viewing. Some of it may simply be filled in and leveled off for building new golf courses, gambling casinos and high-rise hotels and to make it simpler to mine the minerals that may lie beneath now useless land under the Colorado river drainage. This hither to now unused property has not yet been fully developed to extract profits that could be gained by strip mining, river diversion, etc.

Well this could be an unmitigated disaster as there are many people here in America who like to go to these areas, especially the Grand Canyon, just to look at it. They like it. It makes them feel good in a way that is different from losing their money at the craps table in high-rise hotels with gambling casinos. They, the visitors, spend money on bumper stickers, frybread, the occasional hotel room, binoculars to look into the Grand Canyon and other national wonders, t-shirts with pictures of the Grand Canyon on them and phrases like “I’m with Dumbass” and arrows pointing in different directions indicating where dumbass might be, margaritas, sunglasses to replace those that fall into the Grand Canyon, new $8000 digital cameras with even more expense lens’s and straps to keep them from falling into the Grand Canyon when they’re leaning closer to get better pictures, sunburn prevention systems, and tattoos of the Grand Canyon, as you can see the list goes on and on.

With all of the possible catastrophes that could and probably will befall our most scared traditions and places we like but don’t really make the kind of money that large commercial ventures make, the officials of Arizona called and said “Hey, looks like we’ll need some dioramas. Better get busy.” What you see above is the first draft of one of the new Grand Canyon dioramas we are preparing for installation as soon as word comes down to kill the parks. This will be slightly different than our usual 3-D dioramas such as the one in Yellowstone National Park as we cannot get the necessary permits to construct and install our normal fiberglass and concrete dioramas. Instead this will be a 6 mile wide by 47′ ¾” high canvas roller, much like the old window shades you used to get at Woolworths. Remember? The kind that if you let them go before they got to the bottom they’d snap up and roll around the wooden spring thing at the top of the window making this cool flapping sound, then the canvas is mounted on tasteful cast iron or aluminum 60′ uprights shaped like Saguaro cactus in front of each view that you can no longer see as it is gone.

We’ll only be installing these on the South rim as there won’t need to be any for the North rim. Access will not be available to the public as that is where the bulldozer ramps and conveyor belts down to the canyon floor will be set up. Plus the tailings from the ore extraction will be dumping back into the river and that would be dangerous for the public to go wandering through that stuff.

We’d prefer to do the old style diorama as we have to cut slits in the canvas of these new ones to let the wind through so they don’t shred themselves. But since we can’t, there it is, make the best of it. Since most people have short little spans of attention they most likely won’t even remember what the real deal looked like anyway.

It looks like we’ll be making dioramas for the full 137 miles of the canyons length as once these new directives go into effect they’ll be busting hump to get this place shut down and development underway. Let us know if you like the new look of the replacement or not. We’re  going with it regardless but it’s always fun to hear  what you think about it.

In the interest of full disclosure the image above is a photograph taken at the Grand Canyon then run through several versions of software that includes Photoshop (Yes Virginia there is a Photoshop and we use it) to produce an image that looks like a painting. But then you knew that just by looking at it.

Chicks, Man



For those of you who follow the blog closely you will remember that the Eagle Observation Department (EOD) here at The Institute has been closely following developments at our Top Secret Golden eagle nesting site at Watson lake, Bellvue, Colorado, 80512. Just a few weeks ago we conducted a scientific study concerning the number of Feathers on a Golden Eagle and its importance to their quality of life. You may refresh your memory by revisiting this important study here .

One of the reasons we have been closely following this Golden eagle pair is that due to recent activity between the two we have been led to believe it is entirely possible that they will produce young. We’re talking Chicks, man. As this is not a triple X rated blog we will not describe all the lurid details of these eaglesque encounters but we have all the pictures just in case someone doubts our word. And just like Kim Kardashian we won’t show you all the intimate details, wait, Kim Kardashian did show us all the intimate details. Hmmmm, however we’ve already said we won’t so we mean it. NO naughty eagle bits here.

But as you well know you can’t be doing the eagle dance of love all the time and there are other things that need to be taken care of before it’s egg time. There’s the eaglet shower, and getting the nursery ready, catching a movie and maybe an eagle dance or two to get in before it’s time to lay the eggs. As each egg is about 3″ long the eagles are looking at a long incubation period of 43-45 days with the female sitting on the nest constantly until the eggs are hatched. Absolutely no eagle dancing goes on during that period for sure I can tell you. The male, who by the time the incubation period has been in effect for a week or so, gets a little grumpy and goes out and hunts stuff and brings back the unnecessarily mangled prey for his mate to eat. This goes on for about 6 weeks after the chicks are hatched and by that time you can’t even tell what it was that the male eagle killed and brought back. Eagles are pretty basic animals, live, grow feathers, love, get frustrated, kill stuff, raise chicks. That about covers eagle behavior.

But as we mentioned earlier there’s a lot of stuff to get done and one of the biggys is getting the nursery ready. Here we see some rather common eagle behavior. Featherglo, the female Golden eagle, is bringing in nesting material to line the nest with. In this case it is a sage plant she has ripped out of the ground and she will use her body weight to press the sage down into the nest cavity forming a lush soft base for her to lay her eggs on.  She will be sitting on this for nearly a month and a half so it needs to be pretty comfortable.

We have given these two Golden eagles identifying names so we can tell them apart and have some sort of reference to indicate who’s who. We have already mentioned  Featherglo our female eagle, and we have named the male Strongbeak the mighty of the Iron Bill clan, Rabbit killer and Talon Thruster, Highest Flyer, Sky Crusher and Rattlesnake’s bane, we call him Strongbeak for short.

Since things are really getting good here at our Top Secret Golden Eagle nesting site, what with eagles flying around doing cool stuff in the air, the frenzied eagle dancing, and nest-building and such, we plan to follow-up this story to its hopefully successful conclusion, which would be young eaglets being raised and sent forth out into the world to make their own lives and repeat the cycle. This will require long periods of time spent sitting in a lawn chair behind our long lens drinking cold drinks and eating Subway sandwiches and occasionally some lasagna we made a few days ago, waiting for something to happen and then photographing it. We are prepared to do that so that you, who can not be here in person, can follow the lives of Featherglo and Strongbeak as they undertake this most important time of their lives.

If there is any problem with this plan it is that our Top Secret Nesting Site is on government property which is controlled and managed by the Colorado Fish and Game department. Consequently they have seen fit to establish the eagle’s nest on a Cliffside across a river, approximately 600 plus yards from where we can set up our observation post where it is handy for us to put up our lawn chairs, coolers for our refreshments, stands to hold our eagle identification books for dummies, trash receptacles, restroom facilities etc. As this is just about the optical limit for our specially designed Japanese manufactured telephoto lens to hope to get useable pictures, we have petitioned the Colorado Fish and Game division to move the nest closer, perhaps to one of the cottonwood trees nearby that line the river bank. That would make life much easier for us and give the eagles a change of view. So far we have had no response to our request. In fact when trying to flag down the government vehicle that is filled to overflowing with government officials that periodically cruise by to observe us, they speed up and will even take drastic measures to avoid the nail strips we place in the road to slow them down. We are considering writing a harsh but carefully worded letter to the New York Times if we don’t get a response soon. I know they don’t want that so we hope to get word from them soon.

In the mean time, we shall be on the job, doing photography stuff, observing, analyzing data, taking short power naps, calling people to see what they’re doing, trying to figure a way to stop the government truck, telling jokes to people who walk by, singing songs of nature and trying to figure out the lyrics to any Joe Cocker song, making bets on what the next food item might be that Strongbeak brings in, and living life. That’s it, Join us if you want to, Oh that’s right, this is a Top Secret Golden eagle nesting site located at Watson lake, Bellvue, Colorado, 80512 and you won’t be able to find it. Watch for future posts then.