Scenes from the Rail Trail: October 12, 2014

Oh, it was a glorious day for a bike ride!

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Hey there, pokey fuzzy thingie.

I suited up and hit the rail trail a few days ago. It’s turning to fall now, and that means…well, of course it means that the leaves on the trees are turning spectacular shades of gold and red and orange. But it also means other plants are changing. Drying up, or exploding into fuzzies. Pulling out one last gasp of color. And in the meanwhile, all these plants are busy adding a deep, rich sense of texture to the trail. Call it nature’s Halloween decor, if you will.

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It’s a chuckle patch! (Magic Garden fans, you know what I’m talking about.)

Whether the colors are vibrant or subdued, they’re all a visual treat.

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Old Rattlebones the Milkweed Pod, that’s what this is.

It can look surprisingly like an oil painting.

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Pokeberries at the end of the season.

And there’s berries far out into the sky and the leafless trees. Kind of like looking at the Hubble Deep Field images. Only different.

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Billions and billions of berries… ~~Apologies to Carl Sagan~~

I never noticed how well black walnut pods match their nubbly leaves, but there you have it.

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Nature gets all matchy-match.

And then there’s a poof!

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I believe they call this the Santa plant. (Like I would know.)

And a pow!

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Like fireworks.

And a…uh…

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Admit it, these kind of look like Animal from Sesame Street.

The trees were in a full-spectrum onslaught of pretty.

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Turning, not one, not two, but THREE fall colors for your enjoyment!

And there were a few spokey-looking…I have no idea what these things are. But I sure do dig their style.

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For all I know they just released spores of alien dust and we are now all doomed. But they look cool, innit?

Even your basic, standard-issue corn is getting into the groovy-texture act (with a little help from a neighboring plant).

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Clearly, corn knows how to accessorize.

And a vast army of wilting sunflowers still manages to look stunning (though perhaps slightly dejected) in the afternoon sun.

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Sunflower post-mortem.

The thing is, pretty much no matter where you look on the rail trail you’ll see something that will catch your eye. It’s not hard to find something of interest, when you’re surrounded by this.

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Hello.

If you want to find out some more information about the Buffalo Valley Rail Trail, you can visit them on the web here, find them on Facebook, or Twitter away. The BVRT is owned and operated by the Buffalo Valley Recreation Authority and may be contacted via email bvrailtrail@bvrec.org or telephone 570-524-4774.

And to play you out, here’s local singer/songwriter KJ Reimensnyder-Wagner‘s ode to the BVRT, appropriately titled:

“Meet Me On The Rail Trail”.

See you there!

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The Walking Dead, S 5 Ep 1: No Sanctuary

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Alert.

Soooo. The Walking Dead‘s season 5 premiere was on Sunday night (computer problems caused the delay in my posting, many apologies), and it was… Something. Full. Jam packed! With blood and gore and zombie mayhem.

But that was only part of it. Did I mention there was blood and gore?

OK, so. To sum up: the vast majority of our hearty and intrepid group had, one way or another, made their way to Terminus. The members of Rick Nation that were assembled at Terminus were:

Rick, Carl, Michonne, Daryl, Maggie, Glenn, Bob, Sasha, Abe, Rosita, Eugene, and Tara

…where they were herded by the Termains into one railroad car (big mistake, Termians! Divide and conquer, not consolidate so the conquerees can plan their escape, duh). They were supposed to wait for their untimely deaths and eventual repurposing as Termian dinner. Yes, the Termians were hipsters, so they repurpose, they don’t simply kill and eat. In the pursuit of nose-to-tail no-waste perfection, they probably had a plan to use their victims’ bones as the boarding around an ice hockey rink (refrigeration capabilities to follow). Yes, the people at Terminus were cannibals. Yes, we suspected it all along, and now we know it.

Poor hippie Sean. (Remember him from the episode where Rick exiled Carol? Yup. Same guy.)

Poor hippie Sean. (Remember him from the episode where Rick exiled Carol? Yup. Same guy.)

You’re either the butcher or you’re the cattle, they said, blah blah blah. And they’re all, we’ll kill our captives and bleed them out over a trough, and if one of our own should die, then he or she will become dinner too because nothing is personal and we can’t help it if everyone is made out of delicious meat, we are clinical, institutional evil, et cetera, et cetera. Right. Got it, Termians. Who else did we have to worry about?

Carol and Tyreese were still on the railroad tracks, with baby Judith (world’s most unlikely zombie apocalypse survivor), making their way to (but not quite at) Terminus. Carol is increasingly suspicious of Terminus because of reasons. Plus, she is so full of badassery, it’s almost ridiculous. #TeamCarol

Old What’sHerFace…I mean, Beth…is running the risk of being Old What’sHerFace all over again, since she was missing for the last two episodes of season 4 and was the only major cast member to not be featured in the season 5 premiere. George reassures me that she’ll have her day, and it seems like we’ll be clued into her circumstances in next week’s episode but nonetheless, this week? Beth WHO? Moving on.

There are a few themes that the writers seem to be addressing fairly regularly throughout the series. One recurring theme discusses the concept of what makes a monster. Sure, the zombies are terrible, but they’re just eating, and it sucks that they’re compelled to eat live human. But if they were compelled to eat only….grass, or squirrels, or pomegranates or something, an entire cottage industry would develop around the care and maintenance of pet zombies and their peculiarities.

You all know it’s true.

But the people…the people are the ones who do some truly terrible things, like institute cold, detached evil. Or, as we saw in the time jump at the end of this episode, be the group that’s so evil/rapey/kill-y it turns decent people clinically evil. Or be the sort of people who would kidnap What’sHerFace. And how could we forget The Governor, and his trophy room full of zombie heads in fish tanks? (Though even he didn’t descend into cannibalism, except for that one time he bit Merle’s fingers off. I mean, the town he founded was essentially Mayberry, in comparison to Terminus. And I digress.)  Even amongst our intrepid heroes, Rick has bitten someone’s throat out AND, in this very episode, has promised a relentless pursuit unto the death for all Termians, almost as though he were…compelled…to hunt and kill. Everyone else in Rick Nation is like, Dude, they’re scattered, they’re either going to run or die, so relax, MMMkay? While Captain Rick quiets down, I don’t think his lust for Termian killing has subsided one teensy bit.

Turning the idea of monster-dom even further on its head, Carol draped herself in a poncho (looking a whole lot like Clint Eastwood in A Fistful of Dollars), smeared herself in zombie gore to mask her human scent, and infiltrated Terminus in a herd of zombies (walkers, whatever, get over it) to rescue the blood-gutter-bound inhabitants of Rick Nation, and we’re with her all the way. Go, Zombie Carol! Take your undead horde and go get those bad guys!

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She’s got a fistful of somethin’, alright.

What? So now we’re siding with the zombies? They’re not the bad guys any longer? Unexpected. But OK. I’m listening.

Furthermore, the moral center of the group? Always dies. First, Dale “The world we know is gone. But keeping our humanity? That’s a choice,” died (though I still maintain he was killed largely because he was super-annoying). Hershel “Life is always a test” died. And now we have a new moral center, in Glenn, who almost–not once, but twice–took a baseball bat to the back of the head in this episode. Later, when Glenn realized  there was at least one captive locked in a Termian railroad car, he said, “We have to let those people out…that’s still who we are.”

Sigh.

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Foreshadowing?

It is official. Glenn is the new moral center. Let us get ready to kiss Glenn’s ass goodbye. And if, in the time jump at the very end of the episode that showed us the beginnings of cannibal Terminus, the cruel leader we saw was the character Negan from the comic book (which I suspect), then Glenn is definitely toast. Comic readers, you know what I’m saying.

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Could smiley evil dude on the right…

negan the walking dead

Be smiley sociopath from the comics? Image from businessinsider.com

 

Now, for the other quandary from episode 1: WTF was Eugene talking about? Sasha finally pinned Eugene down (figuratively, of course) and said (paraphrasing, perhaps), “Hey, just level with us. What is it that you’ve got? Why are we going to defend your mulleted head?” He said:

Even if I provided step-by-step instructions complete with illustrations and a well-composed FAQ and I went red-rain, the cure would still die with me…I was part of a 10-person team with the Human Genome Project to fight weaponized diseases with weaponized diseases, pathogenic microorganisms with pathogenic microorganisms, fire with fire. Inter-departmental drinks were had, relationships made, information shared. I am keenly aware of all the details behind fail-safe delivery systems to kill every living person on this planet. I believe with a little tweaking on the terminals in DC we can flip the script, take out every last dead one of ‘em. Fire with fire.

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Dude, I have no idea what you’re saying. But you’re pretty pleased with yourself for saying it.

Right. So. I can’t figure out if he’s full of shit or…what. On the one hand, he’s got a fair share of “anti-government conspiracy whack job” sprinkled in his speech. He’s using big words that sort of go together, but don’t necessarily say anything. This speech sort of reminds me of the nonsense speech the clock gives in Beauty and the Beast, when he takes Belle on a tour of the Beast’s castle.

On the other hand…Eugene does say, “The cure would die with me.” And he talks about fighting diseases with diseases.

Is Eugene immune?

I’ve been wracking my brain trying to understand the nature of Eugene’s relationship with Abe and Rosita, and it hasn’t made a lick of sense. He’s a burden. He can’t fight, he’s actually a detriment if he’s got a weapon in his hand. I can’t believe that he would come across as that smart that he’s got them bamboozled. Unless he’s physically worth protecting. Unless they know this for sure. Unless, maybe, they’ve seen him recover from a bite that would have killed anyone else. And there’s some kind of “we’ll have to talk to them (meaning, Rick Nation) later” private conversation that Rosita and Abe were having, but who knows what that’s about? Some folks think they don’t like having the baby around, because really, Judith is kind of a detriment too, though at this point that baby isn’t going ANYWHERE. Nothing they can do about her, really, except leave. I suspect their side chat had more to do with Abe and Rosita’s agenda with Eugene than with anything else. They’d gotten everyone in Rick Nation back together. I think they just think it’s time to head to DC.

Despite the bloody zombie mayhem, we had some happy reunions. Rick and Carl got to reunite with Judith, Daryl ran to Carol. *sniffle*

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Awww. Totally dysfunctional family joy.

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And women across the land were once again seethingly jealous of Carol.

Poor What’sHerFace has to wait until next week to hope for reunion. And in all this, one thing I noticed was the silence. There were no joyful squeals and hoorays at the sight of newly reacquainted loved ones; all the greetings of long-lost, feared-dead friends were given in relative quiet, with hugs and pats.

Because you never know what is near enough to track you to your sound.

That’s how it goes in the zombie apocalypse.

And then! Part of next weeks preview showed us that Morgan has returned and is tracking Rick Nation. Wild card! He’s a killing machine with an anti-zombie agenda, almost as relentless as the zombies themselves. If he’s in the game, then there’s no telling what will happen with the Rickites.

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Morgan: What “don’t mess with me” looks like.

So, to repeat: Glenn will die, this season. We’ll meet Negan. Carol will continue to be badass. So will Morgan. Eugene is immune. Beth will have something interesting to do, or she will ask to leave the cast. And Rick will continue to hunt Termians, because revenge is where his heart is.

See you next week!

In the meantime, here’s a little Bad Lip Reading and “Carl Poppa”.

A Restaurant Rant

I just read this excellent article by Amanda Cohen, chef and owner of the NYC restaurant Dirt Candy (get it? It’s a vegetarian restaurant? Dirt Candy? I like it! And after reading her menu, I’m dying to try celeriac ice cream, but I digress…), and I’m with her. She discusses how most restaurant employees honestly do want their patrons to leave happy. It’s true. I did my time in the restaurant biz. For the most part, my objective was to try and make sure customers had a good time. That they liked their food. That the service and overall restaurant experience was positive. That they’d want to come back.

I’d try and hold the perspective that my job in a restaurant wasn’t centered around a battle between Us and Them but rather, it needed to be seen as a healthy and productive working relationship. It didn’t always work, and I wasn’t always perfect at it, but I tried. It’s hard to maintain because you’re basically part dirty grunt/part performance artist, and the surly, tired, my feet hurt, I’m exhausted, I’ve already had to clean vomit, make $2.13 an hour and I’ve still got five hours left on my shift, I’ve got a ton of homework/bills/housework/family concerns that are distracting me, human, non-performer side of a restaurant worker can break through the veneer of pleasantries pretty easily. However. Generally, in response to a customer’s special requests, my answer (and the answers of most of my fellow restaurant peeps, who were often well-intentioned waitstaff and bartenders and hosts and managers who don’t go into that biz because of a relentless desire to stoke the fires of inner rage) was yes. Yes, we can deviate from the menu, yes we can accommodate your allergy, yes we can seat you as soon as possible, yes we can get you that extra whatever on the side.

Image from crayonsglueandtyingshoes.blogspot.com

Image from crayonsglueandtyingshoes.blogspot.com

Because that’s how it works.

Because that’s the nature of the job.

I get insanely offended when restaurants aren’t managed, at the very least, decently.

Recently, I was told something wouldn’t be done by a kitchen, for all the wrong reasons. I’m still shocked.

George and I called a local restaurant (for the moment, staying nameless) to order some take-out food. George did the talking. Hi, he said. We’d like dinner A and dinner B, and we’d also like an order of your extra-spicy sauce on the side. The woman taking the order was new, writing everything down with someone watching her to make sure she got all the information she needed for the order. She conferred with the trainer in the background then got back on the line. “I’m sorry.” she said. “I can’t give you that sauce.”

What? We just want an order of it on the side.

Sorry, she said. The chef says it will make the dish you ordered a different dish. He won’t do it.

Fine. Whatever. We were hungry, we’d already mentally committed to dinner from this place. Don’t sell us the sauce. Be that way. We’ll be by to pick it up in 10 minutes.

Twenty minutes later, George came home, full order and extra sauce in hand.

Here’s what happened: when George gave his name, the new waitress wrote it down, and the owner recognized it. Oh, him!, the owner said. He’s a nice guy! And so, they did make George’s order as he requested, which is bad enough. Because for real, just do it in the first place, no?  But then, when George got there, the owner/manager ACTUALLY SAID, “Yeah, when you first called, I thought you were one of these entitled jerks in town so I didn’t want to make it for you. But you know. It’s you. So that’s different.”

Image from imgflip.com

Image from imgflip.com

He didn’t say, “We misunderstood your initial order and said duh when we realized our mistake, here you go.” He didn’t say, “I was having an aneurysm during your phone call. Of course we’ll make this for you.” He didn’t say, “I was temporarily possessed by Satan. Sorry ’bout that.” Instead, he justified his change of heart by winking and nudging, because we’re special. Awwww. Shouldn’t I feel all warm and fuzzy now?

What? No! Hey, manager dude, let me get this straight: you didn’t want to sell us an item that’s on your menu, because you thought we might be dicks? Not because we were being unreasonable or making insane demands, but because you had a bug up your ass? And when you found out who was doing the ordering, you decided to let us in your petty fiefdom of a club? And you’re training new employees to behave this way? Holy. Moly.

Here’s the thing: I don’t want to learn the secret handshake, I don’t want to know the password, and now? I don’t want your food. We ate the food that night and I felt dirty. I just want to be able to order off a menu, without a hassle. You’re in the restaurant biz, you’re going to deal with people EVERY DAY. Some of them will be total pains, some of them will be awesome, but all of them deserve a fair shake at the start of your interactions.  This manager is someone who’s recently talked about being dedicated to growing his business. He’s sure got a funny way of showing it. It’s too bad, really, because I’d prefer to support local businesses, and the food was pretty good. But we haven’t been back since.

I’m still not going to say which restaurant it was, but feel free to circulate this among local folks and restaurant friends. Maybe the owner/manager will see it and recognize himself. Maybe he’s been wondering why we haven’t been in for the last two months. This is why. View this as a huge learning opportunity, and you’re welcome. Other restaurant folks, if you see your own behavior reflected in my story, then take my advice and get over yourselves. If you don’t, then I recommend a job in an accounting office, or perhaps filing books at a library, where human interaction will be kept to a minimum.

T2 disapproves.  Image from tvtropes.org

T2 disapproves.
Image from tvtropes.org

And please, everybody (that includes you, you difficult customers) stop perpetuating the Us vs. Them mentality. It hurts all my brothers and sisters in the service industry. We’re all in this together, folks. Start acting like it.

EAT ME: The Food Photo Series

Hey, folks! All the photos, and all the food, I’ve worked on in relation to this blog have paid off! I just got back from hanging my pictures at Cherry Alley Cafe, a local coffee shop, as their artist of the month. Check it out!

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If you’re anywhere in the area, please feel free to drop on by. The food is delicious, the coffee is excellent, and it’s a totally relaxed place to spend some time. Reading. Chilling. Bring your computer and have your way with their wi-fi. It’s all good.

If you’re nowhere near the area and are reading this, chances are you’ve already seen most of the images I selected because they’re all food, mostly culled from the very blog in front of you. But nevertheless…here’s a sneak peek.

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The joy of cookies. I need to start planning my Christmas baking soon.

Or there’s this one…

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When I say “A quarter-cup of olives”, I mean it.

But that’s it! I said good day! And go check it out if you get the chance. 

Thank you, friends, for reading. And thank you, good people of Cherry Alley Cafe, for asking me if I wanted to hang some photos. It’s an honor and a thrill.

Then I Was An Extra In A Friend’s Movie

Hi Blogosphere! I’ve missed you! Sorry I’ve been such a slacker of late. I had a situation or two arise that I had to put to rest before I could take the time to write. It’s not you. It’s me. No, really, it’s me. I mean, I’ve got like a thousand emails in one inbox I have to weed through. Really. But! That doesn’t mean I couldn’t take a little time to make my cinematic debut, does it?

George and I are friends with Jessica and Steve, a couple of local independent filmmakers. Jess produces, Steve writes and directs, and BONUS! They’re a lovely couple. A few years ago they put out a horror movie called The Feed, which got a pretty significant amount of recognition at various film festivals. Now they’re making another movie, called Old Baby, which seems to be less straight horror and more creeptastic brain twister.  When they sent out the alert that they needed extras on X weekend, I was completely psyched to do it. Help friends? Be in a movie? Hell yeah!

Until I realized that was the weekend we would be out of town, at an Ohio State football game, with family. No going back on that. Que sera sera, right? *cue the sad trombone*

Happily, one fortuitous evening I bumped into Jess at one of our watering holes. I truly am sorry, I said, that we couldn’t be part of your all-extras-weekend extravaganza. It sounded like a lot of fun. “Well,” she said to me, “you’ve got one more chance.” Seems they were looking for people to do an overnight shoot. They were having a hard time finding extras, since they weren’t anticipating being done until at least 2AM and the filming was taking place about an hour west of home. But you know, George and I have incredibly flexible schedules, so we thought…hell yeah!

We were told to show up in kind of grungy clothes and/or pajamas since the scene we were filming was all about a late night at a no-tell motel. As an extra, I certainly wasn’t given a script but from what I understand, this film is about people living on the outskirts of society, and focuses on one person with a dark secret. I don’t want to slip and give spoilers, so that’s all I’m saying. When I got there Jess said, “Remember, no one here gets to be pretty.”  Fine. Heavy black eyeliner and blue eye shadow it is!

Baby, I'm a star.

Baby, I’m a star.

We all realize that “blue eye shadow” is code for “she’s a steaming hot mess”, right?

Oh! And here’s George, looking as scruffy as he can get…I did instruct him not to shave, so there’s that…but you know, his hair refused to stay mussed.

Mr. Good-Natured genetically rejects being too sloppy.

Mr. Good-Natured genetically rejects being too sloppy.

Seriously. SO. MUCH. FUN.

The extras were wrangled into the green room–a very nice green room, I might add, which was part of the caretaker’s apartment built on to said motel–where we got ready…and waited. We waited in green face masks and leopard-print robes, in work boots, in shirts pulled up and knotted under the breast.

Extras-wrangler Emily looks on as we wait.

Extras-wrangler Emily looks on as we wait. Some day, I’ll fill you all in on her masterful doughnut.

If you’ve never heard anything about the process of movie-making, bear in mind that it’s not all about the glamour. The common wisdom (which I had been aware of before showing up, and was thoughtfully reminded of by Jess) is that in film, you hurry up and wait. Bring a book. Grab your laptop. The woman in curlers brought knitting. And you’d think that sitting around…waiting…would be kind of meh. But here’s the thing: I was in a room full of really nice people. Everybody was nice. All the extras. The crew. The actors. Nobody was there to have a bad time. And when there were breaks in the filming, we got to wander around this motel, which was kind of retro-dated and so long, so very very long, it seemed like the hallway stretched on forever. With the spare lighting it was totally right for a creepy bit of intriguing, cinematic mindfuckery that this movie seems to be.

OH MY GOD THERE WAS NO ONE IN MY CAMERA...oh, wait. That's George.

OH MY GOD THERE WAS NO ONE IN MY CAMERA’S LENS…oh, wait. That’s George.

Check out the retro paneling!

I think my parents had this in the TV room in 1975.

I think my parents had this exact paneling in the TV room. Then my mother went a little nuts with some dark stain. Suddenly our entire house smelled of stain for a month and was dark walnut brown. That was interesting. And I digress.

Here’s the main motel room set, serendipitously set in Room 13. (Yay for fate! That’s the actual room number, in the room that worked best for shooting purposes.)

What? Like we don't all have high-tech movie swag on our cozy chairs?

What? Like we don’t all have a high-tech movie rig on our cozy chairs?

And here’s the front walkway, where the humble beginnings of my future meteoric ascension to the cinematic firmament takes place.

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Fact: I kind of love that little wooden bench.

Can’t you just smell my impending stardom? No? Sniff harder.

Anyway. We had a BLAST. Would we do it again? You bet, in a heartbeat. I can’t wait to see it. And I can’t wait for the next one. Jess and Steve, sign me up!

In case you missed it: 

Old Baby Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/OldBabyMovie

Old Baby Go Fund Me page: http://www.gofundme.com/oldbabymovie

And the motel is for sale! If you want to own an honest-to-God movie set: http://www.loopnet.com/Listing/15824148/1530-Woodward-Ave-Lock-Haven-PA/ It’s in a beautiful location snuggled into one of the valleys of the Appalachians

Good for hunters and you outsidesy types.

Good for hunters and you outsidesy mountain hikey types.

What can I say? This is how we do in central PA.

See you at the movies, y’all! XOXO

Spam Haiku: Google, Spam, Bing

Mmmmm. Spam. Google SPAM. Delectable. Once again, I’ve received a spam that is far, far too amusing to throw into the electronic junk heap. Thank you, GODS OF SPAM! And I mean this in its many, varied ways. Mostly unretouched. All delicious.

Sooner or later,
Google will find all new spam
methods. These pre-com-
spam

Image from o.canada.com

 -puted numbers, hold
on in a very giant
information bank
From computerhistory.org

Image from computerhistory.org

for millions of the
URLs on the net. But
We’re sad that it seems…
Image from comesitbythehearth.blogspot.com

Image from comesitbythehearth.blogspot.com

…Memorial Day
wasn’t important enough
to Google. Hail Bing!

 (This Google/Bing feud is apparently real, people.)

Image from siftingreality.com

Image from siftingreality.com

Big Heron in my Back Yard

(With a grateful nod to The Dead Milkmen).

The other morning, George came running into the bedroom to rouse me from my morning Sudoku: “Hey! Check it out! There’s a great blue heron out back!”

Really?

Really.

They’re not terribly uncommon around us, but they’re not something we get on or near our property, since we don’t have a water source. I do, FYI, know someone who’s back yard fish pond has been fished out by herons dropping by, which is something my local friends should take under advisement if they’re considering any landscape renovations. I mean, seriously, people. It’s like setting out an all-heron sushi buffet, and I digress.

A few days ago, we had a nearly biblical-level deluge in the ‘burg; I even joked on the Facebooks about needing to build an ark. When it rains very hard our neighbor’s poorly-drained farmlet floods. This creates a temporary lake and paves the way for unexpected visitors. We’ve had ducks and geese swimming mid-farm-property, which is kind of surreal. There may not have been fish at the farmlet, but there are plenty of snakes and frogs and crickets and mice for an opportunistic heron to feast on.

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Surprise!

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So, you got any fi– heyyyy, what’s that thing?

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Ooh! Or there’s that thing, too!

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No but really, which is my better side?

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This is my “pensive” look. I’m just waiting. For Godot. Or a snake. All the same to me.

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HA! FLAPPING DEATH FROM ABOVE!

A few things:

Hooray for zoom lenses! I was at least a hundred feet away when I took these pictures.

They really are magnificent to look at.

So long as you don’t try to keep a stocked koi pond. (For future reference.)

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