alex the mighty and brave kitten

Well as luck would have it, we’ve picked up another unwitting member of our animal family due to someone abandoning an tiny animal left on its own to starve.  These pictures are a couple of months old now since, well, I haven’t blogged in foreva.  These pictures are also a few weeks after I found Alex in my front yard starving and emaciated.  She’s even bigger and healthier now than in these pictures.  

 

 

Here is the story of how I met Alex the mighty and brave kitten…

It was a dark and stormy night when I heard the four tiny but fearless canine soldiers sound the alarm that an intruder was within our gates.  As I walked outside, an eerie calm and silence befell the yard and then as if out of the darkness – MEEEOOWWW.  But not just any MEOW, a somewhat faint and delirious one from a tiny and emaciated but still beautiful figure.   The four fearless warriors just looked at me in horror and disbelief as the poor little kitten struggled to walk towards me.  They certainly knew what felines are and normally go crazy at the sight of them but not this particular night.  This night I think they felt pity on the tiny helpless creature and almost seemed to ask me if we could help it.

I went inside and got some warm milk and soft food to see if it would eat.  It tried to eat the food but acted like it had never had solid food before.  I’ve seen plenty of starving animals but this kitten was definitely within it’s final night if it hadn’t have found food.  I wondered if it had even been properly weaned since it seemed confused with what to do with the soft food.

Alex eventually gained her strength and is now much bigger than when I found her.  She gets along better with the four tiny dogs than they amongst themselves.  She likes to play and climb trees every hour of every day.  For a cat she seems to almost never sleep.  Maybe she’s just happy she found her big animal family.  We now have six dogs, two cats, and 8 chickens.

🙂

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katy’s chicken test and the brave chicken

You have to wonder if it’s narcissism or stupidity in chickens that cause them to challenge animals with big teeth and 10 times their size .

Anyway, I actually set up this supervised chicken test in the images below because katy the big white dog failed an unplanned and unsupervised chicken test a couple of months ago when one happy just for a moment chicken escaped the chicken pen.  I can sum up the results of that earlier test with two words – “poor chicken.”  Even back then katy had already been taught that chickens are not simply fun flappy chew toys.  However, dogs are a little like children when you’re trying to teach them what not to do.  As soon as you have your back turned you’ll discover whether or not they have really been taught to avoid certain things.

So I’ve been working with katy to try to get her trained not to kill chickens.  To begin with this is mostly done by scolding her if she acts like she’s going to eat the chicken.  Most dogs are pretty smart and they quickly learn if you don’t approve of them doing something.  And then at least while they know you’re around they’ll mostly try to behave.  After she learns that part then the 2nd phase of training is to get her to follow the training when I’m not around or she thinks I’m not around.  This is mostly through having her in close proximity to chickens while I’m close enough to hear the chicken scream if katy forgets her training.

So i’m glad to announce that katy passed her one day supervised test and no one is more happier than the test chicken.  The chicken was being bullied by the other hens so I decided to separate her for a little while and let her participate in some exciting dog training.

Katy hasn’t graduated from chicken training yet so there will be more tests and test chickens but maybe she’ll continue to do well.  Katy is in a large pen with another dog, a blue heeler we call sargent, and he’s been trained not to kill chickens for many years.  But if you put him with an untrained dog that attacks a chicken, he’s not able to override his pack instinct to join in on the carnage. 😦

 

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Katy’s not to sure about this chicken test.

 

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The chicken is really getting into the testing spirit by challenging Katy and her food bowl.

 

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This was Katy last April when someone abandoned her on our road.

small rivulets of watercolor danced back and forth as I whimsically attempted to sketch and paint in the backyard swing

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small rivulets of watercolor danced back and forth as I whimsically attempted to sketch and paint in the backyard swing

I had finally sat in the swing enough days and watched the dogs play that I decided I’d try to do a quick and simple sketch and watercolor painting.  I think somehow they know when I try to sketch them because they won’t stay still and I’m not very good at sketching especially dogs from different angles and perspective.  Although sketching and painting in a swing doesn’t make things any easier either.  LOL.

Anyway, I figured I’d use the opportunity to blog about a watercolor field kit I bought and some tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way.  I think i only paid around $15 for the kit and you can find it at Michael’s or Hobby Lobby both of which have weekly coupons for 40% to 50% off.  Here is a link to amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Sakura-XNCW-24N-Assorted-Watercolors-Sketch/dp/B001OVG40E

So here a few tips and tricks.  As you can see a 4×6 index card fits neatly in the case.  What isn’t visible is a small ring in the bottom of the case so you can hold it securely with your finger.  Back when I used to dabble with watercolor more often I always used traditional brushes but a few months ago I discovered watercolor brush pens and luckily the case above comes with one.  It holds the water inside the pen and you squeeze it slightly to wet or clean the brush.  It works pretty well but you’ll still want to hold onto your classical brushes for more options.

As you may notice the mixing tray will fit on the left or right side of the case.  This is a convenient design and it fits in the middle so you can close it inside the case when you’re done.  The water brush comes apart when you’re not using it so it also stores inside the case.  The lighter can be used to strike a flame close to wet paint to dry it quickly so you can close it in your case – just be careful not to burn your paper.

When it comes to drying the brush or cleaning it during painting, you could use a paper towel or cloth but it could be tedious to keep up with.  So while the kit comes with a small sponge on both sides with one visible in the picture, I decided to wear an old cotton sports wrist band also visible in the picture.  It actually works better than the small sponge that’s built in the case and it gives a nice artsy color pattern to an otherwise dull white sports band.  🙂

The silly sketch and painting is of two of my four small dogs.  There is a debris pile in the backyard that I need to clean up but a colony of lizards have claimed it as their home and the dogs love to chase them 24×7.   The clumsily sketched and painted drum in the picture is what I plan on burning the wood debris in.  That is if the wood doesn’t naturally decay first.

I had always thought watercolor painting was too messy to do quickly and I wasn’t familiar with these field kits until I saw a video of someone painting watercolor with one on a public bus.  I then decided I had to get one and try out so I can do more watercolor.  It is really quick and easy to do use watercolor almost anywhere with one of these kits.

One final tip that I’ll share is one I’ve read about but haven’t tried yet so test it at your own risk.  🙂   If you want to swap out any of the individual paint colors that originally arrived in the kit, you can pop out the cell and replace it with another one of the same size.  Also, if you have watercolor paint in a tube and you want to use it in the field kit then you can pour the watercolor tube paint into an empty cell and leave the kit open for a day or two for it to dry out.  Then it should work like any of the other colors since you have to add water to activate them.  Good luck and if you need any tutorials on how to get started or learn about advanced techniques check out videos on YouTube.

 

 

Trying out an old camera and my recent Goodwill Haul

Trying out an old camera and my recent Goodwill Haul

Quite a few years back my wife and I bought this Cannon Power shot A495.  It’s never worked very well but I decided to get it out and try it again and snap a few pics of a recent Goodwill thrift store trip.  Goodwill prices are a little higher than they used to be but I still shop there often because the money goes to a great cause and overall the prices are still awesome.  I mean you never know what you’re going to find mixed with good prices and helping out others so how cool is that.  The first pic was taken with my older on it’s last leg iPod touch.

 

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Little blue guy approves of the blue camera but the pig just wanted to be the center of attention.

 

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The cool looking yellow bowl was 99 cents.  I figured it would make a good soup or cereal bowl after an industrial strength cleaning.

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The pink globe was 2.99 and the yellow and blue vases were 99 cents each.  All the toys came in a plastic bag for 2.99.

So came out to 8.95 so not bad for all the stuff.  Now I just got to go out in my yard and find some flowers to put in the vases – I think some roses would work well.  🙂

 

 

 

“What a distressing contrast there is between the radiant intelligence of the child and the feeble mentality of the average adult.”

“What a distressing contrast there is between the radiant intelligence of the child and the feeble mentality of the average adult.” – Sigmund Freud

Child wearing red sleeves creates chalk art on sidewalk

While I’m not a big fan of Freud, I think he may have been on to something here.  Today we give children medications to calm them down and make them tiny sleepy minded zombies and are constantly shushing them when their wonderful little minds race and they want to share their uncontainable but fun thoughts with us or worse yet they are told by adults to shut-up or stop asking so many questions.  Maybe it’s a conspiracy by some adults to bring their children’s intelligence down to the level of the adults.

Personally I’ve always thought we should encourage children to think on their own and not be afraid to ask questions.  Maybe that way they can grow up to be above average adults.  🙂

Betrayed again, my all too common unwitting chat with those pesky Nigerian Scammers.

Betrayed again, my all too common unwitting chat with those pesky Nigerians.

As I was having a long overdue but friendly chat with a somewhat distant relative whom I thought was either drunk or possibly sleep deprived, I finally figured out he wasn’t a relative at all but the danged ol lochness monster and you know what he said to me, he wanted to know if I had about tree-fiddy.  Ok so he asked for an iTunes $15 gift card instead of $3.50 but it’s close enough I suppose.   Image result for tree fiddy meme no profanity

I was gonna include a YouTube video about this scene but it had too much profanity for me to post.

 

 

Infinity’s Conveyor of Numbers and Thoughts

 

Infinity’s Conveyor of Numbers and Thoughts

If I take the concept infinity as it applies to numbers and add something to it such as thoughts then do I still get infinity even if that something else isn’t purely a number?  So David Hilbert had his infinity hotel and I have my infinity of thoughts?  No?  Maybe?  LOL.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hilbert%27s_paradox_of_the_Grand_Hotel

And what does this have to do if anything with Zeno’s paradox of Achilles and the Tortoise?  And more importantly will these thought experiments lead to an infinite loop inside ones mind?  Nah, that would only happen if you were more connected to the other yous in parallel universes of course assuming such things exist.

So why even consider such profound and incomprehensible ideas that some people would consider useless and headache invoking?  I think I agree with many ideas Max Tegmark lays out in his book Our Mathematical Universe and Andrew Liddle summed up nicely in a review for Nature,

The culmination that Tegmark seeks to lead us to is the “Level IV multiverse”. This level contends that the Universe is not just well described by mathematics, but, in fact, is mathematics. All possible mathematical structures have a physical existence, and collectively, give a multiverse that subsumes all others. Here, Tegmark is taking us well beyond accepted viewpoints, advocating his personal vision for explaining the Universe.

Ok, now may be a good time for me to admit that I’m a Math major and a bit obsessed with math and physics but please don’t hold that against me because if Max is right then we’re not only related genetically as humans but also as numbers.  🙂

And so you don’t consider me as being totally biased I’ll even include in this fanboy glorification of science, physics and all things math, for your viewing pleasure since you’ve made it this far – a dissenting opinion from an old show I somehow got exposed to as a kid and still enjoy today…

Not every show can get away with having a weather balloon as the evil villain:

And so you don’t think I’m the only one who thinks of the risks of infinite loops, I end with an interesting thought by Douglas Hofstadter ingeniously named Hofstadter’s law that says “It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.”  The “it” in this case is describing my point.  Good Night.  🙂

a story from my childhood: a most deadly riff that you never, ever want to hear – especially like this

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This is a story from my childhood and one that I remember well.  This is a picture of me near my house in Florida which isn’t in the picture and one of my many beloved hand-me-down adult bikes that would have been taken within a few years of the time of the story I’m about to tell but unlike the story which happened at night this photo was taken in the day time.  As you may surmise from the photo, I grew up in a very rural area.   I spent a lot of time working on a farm and even though I went to school like every other kid there were many nights that I didn’t get home from the farm until late into the night.  The road I took in this story was less maintained than the one in the photo.  So let’s start shall we…

a story from my childhood: a farm kid, a bicycle and a pitch black night.

I was on a dark dirt road on this particular night when I was probably around 12 years old, part of the farm from where I had been working was to my back and had some dim lights which barely broke the firm grasp of the darkness.  Me and my bike were in a dark area pointing towards what looked like a dark swamp and to the untrained one wouldn’t have recognized it as a road.  Slightly to my left was the main road which was a wide well maintained dirt road but still pitch black except in the distance you could see dim lights of another part of the farm.  It’s the road I normally take home at night when I’m on my bike and forgot to bring a flashlight like on this night.  It would have been easy to take the main road even in pitch black darkness but it was a mile and a half home that way.  I was alone and it was late on a school night and I was exhausted and just wanted to get home to my warm comfy bed.  Through the dark swampy trail, it would have been around a 3/4 mile trek though much more challenging to navigate in the complete darkness with no stars or moonlight to speak of.

Decisions, decisions.  Standing in the dark on the road with my oversized bike, I contemplated the choice in front of me and I remember not being scared of anything as I made the careful necessary calculation.  Taking the swamp trail would be very challenging; I would have to rely purely off memory from where I took the trail countless times in the daytime but never at night.  It would be like taking the trail blindfolded or with my eyes closed but in the mind of my young 10 year-old self, “no problemo!”  It all boiled down to the time savings so off on my little journey into the darkness I went.

I had to build up speed and hit the ditch between me and the trail head.  The deep ditch was full of water and was muddy which could easily stop a bike and throw it’s rider right over the handle bars.  I had learned this the hard way one unsuspecting day.   But this night there were no magnificent handle bar acrobatics and bad physics experiments in store for me.  However, my bike hit the deep ditch full of water hard and bounced violently before I made it across to the other side.  I got soaked with water and mud but it was too dark to inventory the damage so I continued on having walk my bike up a steep embankment.  I knew the path ahead of me which I could not see in the total darkness was straight for about a quarter mile and made a hard right turn.  I knew there were always deep holes almost big enough and deep enough to swallow me and my bike about the distance of 20 bike lengths.  I couldnt see those either so I decided to push my bike until I passed those hazards.  The road, well if one could call it that, maybe a goat trail is a better name for it, was mostly grass and only about the width of an automobile tire or slightly wider was the dirt part of the trail.  It was easy to walk in the dark and feel the dirt under my old worn out shoes.  When I started venturing off the road which happened a couple of times, I could feel the rough grass and weeds under my shoes.  Each time I quickly corrected my direction to get back on the road.  Eventually, I stepped right into one of the deep holes and knew I was there.  Oddly the holes didn’t hold water long after storms so they were dry.  There were large hogs in this area so I always wondered if that was their little watering holes and they drank them dry.

Now, I knew I had a straight shot in the darkness until the road curved sharply to the right.  I knew the field past the curve would often get muddy with something I can only best describe as quicksand though rarely went deeper than waste deep and also tended to harbor a great briar patch which could slice up ones skin with all it’s barbs.  I surely need to avoid running into that field I thought to myself as  I got on my bike and began to pedal.  I ran off the road a few times but quickly corrected by just feeling the narrow but smooth road under my tires.  I picked up speed and tried to remember how far it was to the curve.  While I was pedaling, I noticed an eerie quietness in the cool night air.  Nights can sometimes be loud due to the magnificent orchestra of frogs and crickets and who knows what else in the wooded areas like this one.  But not on this night.  I made a mental note of it an continued onwards since by now I had gotten a little better at navigating the road and correcting course when needed to stay on the smooth dirt.

Then just as I got comfortable with my blind bike riding adventure, I ran through the curve into the field full of weeds.  My feet instinctively landed onto the soft muddy ground and kept me from falling and I paused a moment waiting for the strong sting of briars but it never came.  Wow, I thought I’m lucky these waste high weeds aren’t briars or I’d be shredded. I stood for a moment to see if I sank into the potential quicksand.  But tonight was my lucky night – no razor blade weeds and no quick sand.  Things are looking up for me so I by using nothing but the feel of the ground beneath my feet,  found the curved wannabe road that I had failed to recognize earlier on my bike and climbed back onto my bike.

I tried to make sure I was oriented in the right direction and not go back in the direction from which I had came and get well positioned on the road before I started pedaling.  This entire area was surrounded by thick forests so I couldn’t use any lights from the farm or from my house to help guide me.  I took another moment to calculate the distance of this leg of the obstacle course.  I knew the path ahead of me was straight for a little over a quarter mile and then veered left into a very swampy and wet area of the road that was usually under water.  I dreaded the thought of having to navigate that area as I’d likely have to travel through water on my bike.  I figured I’d wind up wading water on foot which didn’t sound at all pleasant to me.  I was still wet from the ditch encounter earlier.

I then paused and once again briefly noted how strange it was that it was so quiet on this night.  I don’t recall that ever happening before so it kind of creeped me out.  Other than that creepy feeling I remember not being scared of anything.  I got on my bike and continued on and by now I was pretty good at navigating this road in the darkness.  The road felt smooth under my tires and by now I rarely even ventured off the road into the grass.  So for a while I felt at ease in the quiet total darkness on my bike feeling the cool damp night air pass across my face.  With more speed I could hear the air passing by my ears slightly breaking the silence and the quiet pitter patter of mud from the tires hitting me in the back of the head and back of my shirt from where I ran into the muddy field and none of the adult bikes I inherited as a child had fenders to block the dirt and mud.  I continued on without many cares or concerns of what may or may not go wrong.  Little kid minds like mine at the time just don’t think of those things in great detail it’s more like as a kid we live minute by minute or second by second and don’t really ponder how a bad quick decision could go wrong and potentially affect you for the rest of your life.  A quick bad decision like I made on this particular pitch black night to take a narrow trail without a flashlight through a swampy area.  Anyway things were about to go very bad for me and I don’t remember what came first whether it was running over something big in the road or the sound, the piercing sound that I knew so, so well.  It was a natural riff played by one of the most deadly creatures in an arsenal of bad creatures also known as venomous snakes.  I could see nothing and all I had to go on was feeling something very evil under the tires of my bike and the piercing sound that now echoed against all the big trees that I couldn’t see.  And obviously by now a whole lot of adrenaline for a little kids body.  I heard this sound often in the daytime for which I never had a healthy enough dose of fear from it but in the day time I always knew where it was.  But tonight as I heard the loud dire warning, I had no idea where its lethal head was and for once in my little invincible kid mind, I was scared.  I think anyone can recognize the fear inducing sound of a very large rattlesnake, it’s almost like the fear response is coded into our very DNA.

Anyway, in the split second from the time I ran over the large creature and the instant warning sound, I instinctually pulled up on the handle bars to keep the bike from stalling out the forward speed and falling directly on top of or at least near whatever the offending object was.  Unfortunately or maybe fortunately, however you look at it, I had well rehearsed this response after some very nasty accidents in the past including some that irreparably damaged some earlier bikes.  I learned physics at an early age I suppose. So back to our story where at this moment the snake would have  been between my front and back tires and well within striking distance of my little legs and feet.  I pedaled hard knowing I had to make sure the back tire of the bike made it over the large lethal venomous snake that  I could not see but I could hear and sense quite well.  Imagining back I’m surprised I didn’t pedal with enough force to throw the snake backwards at least a 100 feet.  But I felt every bit of the creature under the back wheel and I was never happier to feel the bounce of the bike and continued forward motion.  I don’t remember taking inventory of my legs to see if I felt any large puncture wounds but for the 2nd half of the trail including the part of the road that was under water took no time at all to finish up.  I got home and as usual no one was waiting on me and no one would have missed me at least until the next day probably if I hadn’t have made it through the field that night.  I had a strange childhood with almost no rules, no curfew, and no supervision.  But I made it home that night without getting bit or breaking any limbs and without a flash light.  I don’t think I ever took that short-cut again in the dark without a flashlight and I’ve never forgot that night even though it was so many years ago.  I don’t know how I survived my childhood because this is only one of many stories just as bad as this one.  But I did survive it and I’m glad I’m able to write about it and laugh about it now.

 

 

halo gingerly world! simple doodling with plumbago and paint 3d

I just upgraded my pc to windows 10 creators update which has Microsoft Paint 3d.  I didn’t have a lot of time to spend with it so I just did a simple doodle to test it out along with another free app called plumbago which is a notebook writing sketching app.  The first image below I did with plumbago and a stylus.

I then saved it as a png and loaded paint 3d and created a simple blue 3d sphere.   The eyes, mouth, and north pole err I mean hair are called stickers and you can place them on the 3d objects.  Finally, I loaded the first image as a custom sticker and stretched it over the sphere.  It also supports 3d text which is what I did the date in.  Lastly, I used a yellow light source on the first and red light source on the second and exported them to standard jpg format.

My main problem with plumbago is I couldn’t figure out how to lasso some of the image and enlarge or shrink it.  I figure it must be possible but with the ruled lines maybe it disallows it.  All in all both programs are pretty neat.  I’m sure I’ll try them out again when I have more time so I can gingerly doodle more and hopefully better images.  🙂

 

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zeitgeist, loyalty feigned and real, and a talking blond wig named womp

zeitgeist, loyalty feigned and real, and a talking blond wig named womp

Stream of consciousness can be a funny thing if you just sit back and let it.  If I can ever be disciplined and loyal enough to write in the mornings (morning pages), I think I would write better blog posts but here I am at 10 PM tired from a long day and a 2.5 hours commute time and trying to rely on SoC to help me write a decent post before another restless night of what some people call sleep.

I was listening to a new podcast tonight, sitting in the back yard swing after dark enjoying the cooler night air when the podcast, called It Makes a Sound, used the word zeitgeist which I haven’t heard in a long time; okay and they used it in a particularly entertaining way – at least to my silly sense of humor.  I thought to myself now there is a word to go in the title of a tired sleep blog entry so here we are.  LOL.  Not that we shouldn’t worry about the implications of that word…

And then there is loyalty or lack thereof.  In politics and the rat race everyone expects it even though it almost never exists in the wild.  I was going to look up some recent research on the topic which suggests people are almost always looking out for themselves but I’ll save it for later.  Also somewhat related, I was listening to a podcast of 60 minutes (Episode of ~10/8/2017) on the way home after work this evening and they ended it with a quote from Nixon about six years before he resigned, I know they are real subtle right? And it went something like this from the original 60 minutes interview by Mike Wallace

“When style and charisma connotes the idea of contriving of public relations, I don’t buy it at all…” Nixon told Wallace. “Some public men are destined to be loved and other public men are destined to be disliked, but the most important thing about a public man is not whether he’s loved or disliked, but whether he’s respected. And I hope to restore respect to the presidency at all levels by my conduct.”

The 60 minutes episode, however, did have a good report on how Trump’s team leveraged facebook with a dedicated team of facebook republican employees (wow such a thing exists?), and a sad report on the vegas shooting, and an interesting report on shake shack.

And last and maybe I dare say least to some people that is we have a talking blond wig.  OK my goal so far with the blog is to mostly avoid politics so I’m not going to go too far out on this shaky limb but I listen and read quite a bit of news and everywhere you look is well, you know.  I remember a few years ago talking to my mom about an encounter she had with a family member and I asked her what she thought of him (the family member) and she responded she thought he was the loch ness monster.  Now I actually like the vulgar South Park cartoon series sometimes but I knew my mom who is old fashioned had never watched it so she had obviously just single handedly created out of thin air one of the funniest parts of South Park but I couldn’t bring myself to ask her how in the world she came up with that or if my cousin err umm the loch ness monster asked her for about tree fiddy.  So today I decided to think of how my mom might describe our current prez and I came up with talking blond wig.  Naming the blond wig womp just seemed natural and when I read the definition of womp, I figured putting a blond wig on the old rabbit ears tv antenna we used to have would surely improve the signal quality – ok I know I’m grasping at straws or fake wig hairs here but it’s late and I’m tired so that’s all for now.  🙂