Sunday, June 29, 2008

Alien Predators From Above

The other day all my sparrows and pigeons had disappeared. Well, they aren't mine but they do like to hang out and chow down on all the crumbs that the morning feeding frenzy of the parrots has left strewn all over. Great way not to have to clean the feeder: let the smaller birds do it!

But, they wasn't around! Very odd, thought I. I had a look in one of the trees they like to hang out in and I saw a bird that I hadn't seen here before. Looked kinda predatory too. Out came the binoculars and the camera, and, sure enough, there was a bird of prey hanging out in the backyard.

Meet the alien predator from above:

This bloke is what's know around here in Oz as a brown goshawk. They eat sparrows, finches, small honey-eaters, and the occasional fat, dumb pigeon. Is it any wonder that when he showed up they all high-tailed it outta here? I would too. But don't worry, they were all back the next day, just not in as many numbers as usual. I suspect the goshawk had a meal or two on his way through.

I wasn't going to put these next two parrot pics up. They were both shot through the window and you can see the reflection on the blinds from another window on both pics. BUT they just look so cool so here ya go:

As I'm sure you've noticed, the galah is a female and she's fighting off the nasty little lorikeets so she can get her brekkie. You can tell she's a sheila cus of the eyes. Ahem... NO JOKE!

Friday, June 27, 2008

I'm Good At Quickies

I'm busy working (shudder), typing, and processing pics. If I don't get the post up today, then here's a quickie to tide you over:

The Ringling Bros  and Barnum & Bailey don't gots nothin' on me cockies!

I was tracking this bloke just as he went into the sun. I SWEAR no enhancements were done to this particular pic (trust me):

Just call me Icarus!

Monday, June 23, 2008

FREE parrot screensaver

Cus I'm such a nice guy, I made a screensaver out of 12 of my birdie pics. It's in a ZIP file and it's only 1.2 megs so it won't take long to download. Inside the ZIP file is a .exe that is a self-extracting screensaver. There's no germs in it, but by all means run any type of virus scanner over the .exe to make you feel better, no worries.

Just click on this RIGHT HERE and tell it to save the file in whatever nomenclature your browser uses. Once you open the zip file then just run the .exe which is called Parrots From Oz.exe Gee, ain't I clever?

Sorry, but it's pc only as I don't have a mac.

Feel free to tell your friends about it and send them thisaway for them to download. Or you can share it around if you'd like, no worries.

Drop a comment here if you download it and let me know whether you like it or not. I can make more, no worries.

Oh, and here's a pic for you today since everyone who comes here only visits for the bird pics and not my clever wit cus y'all think I'm a moron (I was SURE I'd get more comments on yesterdays Fondling My Shaft post):

And since I'm SUCH a nice guy (just ask my BIL), you get a bonus pic today:

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Fondling My Shaft

Well, now that title should drive some interesting traffic, eh? Get your mind out of the gutter though cus this ain't dirty.

Did anyone read the previous post? The one where I listed (and talked about) six random things about me. This pertains to #5 of that list.

Regarding #5... I couldn't find it! I searched everywhere! Not to be found... Checked everywhere in the bedroom, searched the den, checked the storage room, the shed, the laundry. NOWHERE! I started to panic, hyperventilation set in, heart began to race, broke out in a cold sweat; well, not really but I was getting a bit frantic. I even checked my drawers!

*note about the following paragraph: it could really be mis-interpreted!

Finally looked in the back of the front closet and there it was! YEA! I took it out of it's case, stroked the shaft a few times, gripped the handle, screwed it together, burnished the sides of the tip with my leather belt, checked the tip shape, and finally made a few practice strokes on the counter. Ahhhhhh, what relief, what bliss I found from taking a few practice strokes of my shaft with a well shaped tip!

Yup, I was darned happy to make sure my pool cue was still in good nick!

Ahem, moving on...

Being a former Pet. E. student and almost a reservoir engineer before fleeing from the oil patch, this story really really gets me mad for so many reasons: The Pit of Hell. Go ahead, read all about it. Then come back for some birdie pics, 'k?

You're back! See? Kinda sucks, eh? How much natural gas has been wasted and how many thousands of tonnes of greenhouse gases have been put into the atmosphere over the last 35 years? Bastards!

And now for some birdie pics --which is the reason why most of you visit here, I do believe.

I love the way the cockatoo that's landing has his beak and claws poking out from under the canopy of his wings. And the blur on the lories as they scatter is cool too.

The framing of this next one sucks. Really, it does. However, the lighting through the wings and tail, the detail on the feathers, and the action going on is just too cool not to share it with everyone. And since I'm such a nice guy, I will share cus that's how I was raised. Although according to the old fart, I grew up in spite of everything mom and dad did.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Tagged Again

... and this time I'll finish it :)

Suzer tagged me with a 6 random things about me thingy doohickey (as opposed to a regular hickey!). 

But first, let me put up a birdie pic for those of you needing your daily (HA) fix:

See? They really do hang out in trees after all.

On with the show: 6 random things about me!

          1) I spent a lot of summer weekends in Seward, Alaska. Why was I there? Sailing! My parents had a sailboat and I also crewed on some of the race boats (I was a great foredeck dude). I also windsurfed in Turnagain Arm. I used to play with a dingy (AMF Force 5, basically a copy of the Laser) and always wanted to take it down to Seward. One year when I came back from college for the summer (to work) I found out my parents sold the dingy. Shit!

I haven't sailed at all down here in Oz and have only been out on the water twice (inflatable kayak). This obviously does not include me lounging around in our pool :)

          2) I used to bowl. Tenpin US bowling. My first 200+ was scored when I was 13. At age of 14 I had beat my dad's high score of 254 (I had a 255). At age 16 I bowled 22 strikes in a row (turkey in the tenth frame of game one, 12 more for a perfect 300, and 7 to start the third game); I do remember that monday night quite well as the bowling alley was jam packed, and a large crowd had stopped bowling 10 lanes on either side to watch. The next day I rolled a 299 (solid 8 pin left on last ball --the shot was too perfect!). The next day in league I only averaged 185... shit. Used to use a Columbia Yellow Dot Bleeder (this was before the era of urethane lanes and balls).

754 was my best 3 game set; 1423 was my best 6 game set.

I used to ride my bike (old schwinn ten-speed) to the bowling alley while carrying my bowling bag with 2 balls, shoes, towels, etc. My bike handling skills got pretty good.

7 years ago I went bowling for the first time in seven years. Shot in the 140's. Sigh.

I don't have any of my old bowling trophies.

         3) Rubik's Cube. Best time was 1 min 25 sec. I never cheated by reading books to get the algorithms for it; used only the ones I reasoned out myself. In Physics class in high school I'd do the homework assignment in class and then play with the ole cube for the next 30 mins while the teach lectured about how to do the assignment (he and I got along great). I did pay attention in calculus in high school cus that stuff is just so darned fascinating.

When the 4 layered Rubik's Revenge came out, I figured it out quite quickly. Just adapted my own algorithms to it. Got to where I could do it 4 mins 15 secs. Got bored so I started solving the four layered one with various designs --really cool looking ones too. Got bored with that, so I started to do the last 20 or so moves with my eyes closed. Then moved up to the last 40 moves; then did the last forty moves behind my back. This was a GREAT party trick at college! Imagine, 10 drunk college blokes (me too) betting me shots of Everclear whether or not I could do it. I never lost, but after a while took pity on their inebriated slobbering selves and took a shot if I took too long to solve it behind my back.

I had fun in college.

          4) I never, ever, ever envisioned myself leaving Alaska. The Interior, specifically. Well, except to go down to the Kenai for some sailing. That is, until, I met The Most Wonderful Woman In The Entire World. She even tried to go through an early part of a Fairbanks winter. -25 was not her cup of tea, so what would she do when it started to get cold? Needless to say, we decided it'd be easier for me to get used to an Aussie summer than for her to get used to a Fairbanks winter. We were right! I've also turned into a bit of a wuss these last 8 years down here. Hell, I don't even jump in the pool if the water temp is below 65 F (90 F is niceer) and I think I may even have to change out of shorts and sandals this winter. Can you imagine me in a cabin in the Goldstream Valley in the winter with no running water, no gas heat, and this weird crystallized water all over the ground? No, me neither.

          5) Another thing I learned in college was how to shoot pool. I got very good. There were only 2 guys in Fairbanks that could beat me regularly in 8 ball, and no one that could regularly beat me in straight pool (14-1 continuous). I dislike 9 ball as I feel it's a "bangers" game. I also love snooker and billiards. Snooker will teach you about position (leave) and billiards will teach you about any kind of spin you can think of. Combine them both into my favorite game of straight pool. My pool cue is a McDermott. It's not one of the custom made ones, but it is custom balanced to 19 3/4 ounces. It's fairly plain compared to all these new "over the top" ones. As much as I would have liked a Meucci, this one fits me to a T. It was pretty pricey 22 years ago, don't even want to think how much it'd cost nowadays. Dang, need to go find that sucker and fondle it :)

EDIT: My best run at straight pool was 52 balls in a row and my pool cue is worth more than one of my bikes (I have nice bikes).

A friend of mine in one of the pool leagues in Fairbanks wanted me to join his team and travel to the US National 8-Ball Championships in Las Vegas. I turned him down... Which brings me to the next random thing about me;

         6) I fence. All 3 weapons. I'm very good. I taught at a Uni Phys Ed Dept for 6 years. Won a State Championship in Epee. Our Epee team from Alaska got 8th nationally when I traveled with them. High-speed chess is what I liken it to. My early training was in foil and sabre, but I like epee the best: no weird rules, target is the entire body (head to foot) and whoever hits first gets the point. Gotta love it! I've beaten a former US Olympian (he's the nicest guy in the world) and trained a few JO's. One of the fencers from Anchorage always called me "Sir", even when I wasn't Directing (Refereeing) a bout. I finally asked him why and he said it's a sign of respect from him to me --this from a guy who had won many sabre titles and competed on the US National circuit. 

My strength in fencing? I'm athletic, I think, I analyze, and I figure a way through a defense or offense; all done in fractions of seconds. Yep: high speed chess with no board and no constraints on moves :)

There! Six random things about me! And I'll have you know I had to really dig deep into the ole memory well for them! Well hell! You asked! I'm done bragging now... I shall now take my old, fat, lazy body off into a corner and go contemplate dinner for tomorrow night while feeding the birds. 

Speaking of which, would you believe me if I told you I actually planned this next pic? No, I wouldn't believe me either, especially as I know I'm lying:

That's the shadow of a Sulphur Crested Cockatoo about to land on a cross beam of my balcony of which I'm standing under whilst clicking the little button on the camera that makes the shutter go click.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Just Some More Cool Bird Pics

Well now, I think that title pretty much sums it all up. 

This first shot was total dumb luck (which is the best kind to have).

I'd actually planned this next one. I had the camera set for something ultra fast motion (the lories wings are really really fast) and the manual focus set on one specific spot. It only took about 10 tries to get this:

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

What a WASTE

It's not often I rant and rave about something on this here blog. In fact, I'm not sure I ever have... Perhaps someone who's familiar with my archives could check?

Can you guess that this post will be me ranting and raving about something? Well? CAN YOU? Obviously you can cus I've gots me some smart readers, eh? This post will be about food and about oil.

OT; don't worry, there'll be bird pics at the end of this.

I'm sure everyone is aware of the global food crisis that's going on. Is it because there's not enough? Well... not really... YET... Yes there are some regions where there is an actual food shortage, but most regions and countries with food crisises have more to do with the fact that food staples are sky-rocketing in price.

Why are basic foods getting really expensive? A lot has to do with high oil prices which in turn sends shockwaves throughout every food distribution network worldwide, countrywide, statewide, citywide, etc (anyone who's been in any facet of the transportation business will verify this). It's also estimated that about 25% of the high price problem has to do with biofuels. There's plenty of sites out there where you can verify all this, BTW. Commodity speculation also accounts for a slice of it. Developing countries wanting (demanding) a US lifestyle when there are ten times as many of them as there are US'ns has a heckuva lot to do with it too. Corporate induced supply shortages are also said to be blamed.

So, it's a variety of factors. Add em all up and you've got really high food prices.

What does this mean to you? Well, if you're a blogger that means you won't starve, but you'll be paying a lot more for food. But don't worry, YOU can afford it.

If you don't have internet and broadband access, then that probably means you don't have much spare money, or time. Everything you do is just to make ends meet. If you live in a "first world" country you won't starve, but you'll definitely not be eating out very often and you might have to learn how to cook. But if you are in a second or third world country and 75% of your family budget is for food which you prepare yourself... well, let's just say that hard times are ahead.

BTW, I've always told the household not to make us rich cus I'll give it all away. I'd really like to sponsor a soup kitchen or something like that down here and I give loads to various charities. Oh yeah, rich celebrities making headlines by doing miniscule work for the poor and the beaten down make me want to puke; hope you feel good about yourselves while hanging out in your mansions!

So is this going anywhere and what about the oil?

Yes, it's going somewhere and here's about the oil. Now, I could easily rant and rave about the SUV's and gasguzzling habits (and cars) of many drivers. I could also offer tips on saving energy and walking or biking to places. Public transport, etc, etc, blah, blah, blah. But I'm not going to. Why not? Cus you've heard it all before and if you aren't already fairly energy conscious by now then I'm sure as heck not gonna change your mind.

But what about the price of oil... Obviously everyone is aware of oil company profits so there's no need to beat that dead horse. And we also know that various kings and royal families in the Middle East are getting richer. But does it really sink in just how rich they are getting? Does the extra 500 billion dollars a year one monarch is getting really mean anything? How can you relate to numbers like that? Well, here's how...

3 weeks ago the local paper ran a story about a chef who has just returned to Adelaide. He was the Head Chef for the King of Bahrain Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa Abdullah for 3 and a half years. The chef had servants attending his every need, drove a porsche, and lived in a fine home. All provided for him. Cool so far, no worries, perks of the job. He oversaw a kitchen staff of 550 people. Yes, that's a kitchen staff of 550 people for the King's Palace. Now, the King would host various foreign dignitaries and diplomats (all probably kissing his ass so he keeps the oil flowing, ahem) so I can understand having extravagant functions and feasts. Again, no worries... but some grumbling.

The chef would travel with the King on his private jet with hundreds if not thousands of bodyguards (hmmmmm, do you think the peasants might not like him?????). He made sure the King had every gastronomical experience he could desire. Ok, no worries, that's his job... right?

Here's the kicker: This is a quote directly from the article!

"We would prepare up to 14 tonnes of food for a guest list of maybe 10 people. The fact that most of it was going in the bin wasn't a consideration."

WHOA!!!! Read that again! Go on, scroll up and read that quote again!

Firstly, "bin" is aussie for TRASH BIN. As in thrown away. Recycle? What's that?

Nextly, a tonne is a metric ton which is 1000 kilos, or 2,205 pounds. That's 30,870 pounds of food that was delivered and prepared for a feast to feed 10 people.

Folks, this is seriously WRONG!!!! Do I need to explain how WRONG this is? No, I didn't think so.

Don't believe me? Well, read the whole story RIGHT HERE.

Just think about this next time you fill your SUV.

And now to get back to the regularly scheduled programme of bird pics:

Even cockatoos like to watch the sunrise

"Ahhhhh, pretty... Now gimme some sunflower seeds before I rip your thumbs off!"

For you dirty minded folk:

"Ahhhhhhhhh... faster baby, faster."

"Ok, that's fast enough."

Notice how I got the horizon line to be perfectly angled at 8 degrees off true? Pretty difficult.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

I'm Still Here!!!!

Oi! G'Day, mates!

Why have I not updated for two weeks? Well, my wireless adapter died so I didn't have access to the house's wireless broadband. In this area dialups are disgustingly slow so it's pretty much impossible to blog.

After I called telstra to get a new adapter, they didn't even send out the new one for 10 days! I've been back up for 2 days now (catching up on work, gack) and I've got loads of stuff to post (including a really cool tag). Let's not forget the fact my back gave out 8 days ago... sigh...

In the meantime (till monday (holiday down unda) or tuesday), please enjoy this pic of a galah making a bombing run at the feeder.