Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Critter Shootin' Near Mid-June 2019

Previously, I blogged "Lotsa Bloomin' Mid-May Near Mid-year 2019", regarding a neighborhood stroll—flora and fauna images from May 16, 17, 18. This neighborhood stroll video includes only animals; the walk took less than an hour. What a collection of critters!
  1. Cooper's Hawk and mockingbird
  2. Doe and two fawns
  3. Red June bug
  4. Doe and two fawns (Initially unsure if a second family or the same one.)
  5. Caterpillar (June bug larva)
The Cooper's Hawk perched atop a foliage-free branch group. A mockingbird kept dive-bombing it. Trying to keep the camera steady at the distance and zoom challenged me.

I wasn't sure that the doe and fawns were the same family until reviewing the video clips. In the second footage of deer, they were much more energetic than in the first footage.

The June bug might have already been dead; I didn't want to prod it to find out. Incidentally, I'd uploaded the bug to LinkedIn with request for ID. The color and pose didn't resemble any of the three olivy green/brown June bugs I pic'd last year ("So How Cute ARE June Bugs?"). Maybe I should have ensured the reddish bug had its total back upward.

The caterpillar resembled several that I'd shot in April. The undulation movement intrigued me, as well as its prolegs. It took some poking around Google images to find some that resemble my "capture"; I finally found enough info to declare the critter a June bug larva. "Life Cycle Process of a June Bug" shows a basic diagram. "Turfgrass - May/June Beetle Grubs" links to a January-through-December image. Grubs don't sound good to have around. "How To: Get Rid of June Bugs", section "PREVENT DAMAGE FROM GRUBS" has a large image with caution and recommendation: "grubs that will get your grass. Lose the larvae …". Another anti-grub resource: "Grub Worm Identification and Treatment".

This year has been very good for abundant blooms, new-growth plants, and wildlife. View some via the index. Also, I'll be posting more strolling image items to share.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Lotsa Bloomin' Mid-May Near Mid-year 2019

This year, May has been an especially eye-popping year for blooms. This blog and accompanying video represent sightings simply from short walks in and near the neighborhood on May 16, 17, and 18. (Includes coupla non-bloom subjects.)
While strolling in the 'hood one day,
In this kinda wet month of May,
Many blooms, so picturesque,
E'en a non-bloom piqued me, yes,
I meandered and pic'd another couple of days!
Acknowledgement to Ed Haley's "Strolling Through The Park One Day" music and lyrics. Want to sing along to the original?

The following subjects caught my eye:
  • Two different prickly pear colonies with varying bloom stages (Dig those toes!)
  • Small flattened snake with an intriguing pattern (to me) that looks even more interesting at the head
  • Two different Mexican hat colonies, one trail with loads of color variations, one patch with a blink-and-and-you'll-miss-it bee
  • Creek, somewhat vertically zigzagged
  • Shoal Creek Chaste Tree, blooms sparse and pale so far this year
Prickly pear plants were predominant in this stroll. Some prickly pear references: "Prickly Pear Cactus", "Prickly pear cactus, our state plant". Mexican hat blooms were also prominent. Visit "Mexican hats el 5 de mayo, no mas el 7 de mayo" for more eyefuls and references.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Mexican hats el 5 de mayo, no mas el 7 de mayo

To bee'd

Or not to bee'd

During a short walk on Sunday, May 5, I took a few pix of some small clutches of Mexican hat flowers. (I hadn't actually thought of the date coincidence as a Mexican theme.) Two days later, I had hoped to show them to someone else. ¡Ay caramba! They were nowhere in sight! Where'd they go? Did someone pluck them? To take inside? To take them somewhere else? To throw them away? Eh, I wasn't going to be brave enough to knock on the homeowner's door to ask.

Separate places in the past (May last year, May 2014) bloomed wildly with Mexican hats, but nada on the 5th or 7th this year. Fortunately for me, more recently, I did manage to spot additional crops of Mexican hats and took pix and video. My compilation videos (bee'd and beeless include Mexican hats from four different areas (shot May 5, 16, 17, and 23). Hope you yourself spot such striking cute blooms where you live, work, play, or wander!

A few online resources to visit—
  • "Upright prairie coneflower Ratibida columnifera" is a good starting point, with very basic description and some images.
  • "Ratibida columnifera" lists "Mexican Hat, Red-spike Mexican Hat, Upright Prairie Coneflower, Prairie Coneflower, Long-headed Coneflower, Thimbleflower" as common names. The website has more extensive information and a link to almost 200 images.
  • "Wildflowers of Texas", besides providing its image of Mexican hats and short description, also includes similar thumbnail info on other Texas wildflowers. (Note: Because of inconsistency in vertical placements of images near flowers' descriptions, it helps if you already know some of these specimens.)
    Mexican hat (Ratibida columnaris)—Blooms May to July, later with favorable weather. Common throughout most of state. Named for its resemblance to the traditional high-crowned, broad-brimmed Mexican sombrero.

    Seeing both "Ratibida columnifera" and "Ratibida columnaris" terms confused me. I've not been able to find much to clarify the difference. "Ratibida columnifera" shows up a lot more in hits, even when searching for "columnaris". "Mexican Hat / Ratibida columnaris / 500+ Seeds Perennial" indicates both terms are acceptable. (Prices look a lot more economical than some other sites that sell seeds and plants!)
  • "Ratibida Species, Mexican Hats, Thimbleflower, Upright Prairie Coneflower Ratibida columnifera" caught my eye for a pic that shows a striking batch of yellow-only petaled blooms.
  • A friend blogger Steve Schwartzman's blog collection of Mexican hat flowers reflects different times of years that he's caught 'em.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Blue Heron Sighting, Swans, and 12 Days of Christmas Connection

During this morning's walk, we spotted a pair of birds flying overhead. Companion speculated swans. A nearby homeowner who also spotted them declared they were blue herons. I had figured "swans" was not feasible. "They don't fly," I thought. Or do they?

A few years ago, when some relatives visited, we walked into a hotel that had swans in a pond area. View "Embassy Suites Austin TX - Arboretum", starting about 2:10 to see some swans in the lobby. A nearby sign mentions something about feeding (or not). My recollection was seeing a sign that said they swam only and did not fly. (I'm not making a special trip to the hotel to confirm no-fly swan zone.)

Swan Flights

From "Swan Facts for Kids", "swans can actually fly. They are among the largest flying birds out there and need about 30 yards to become airborne". "Flight Profiles and Take Off" describes flight and communication methodologies among trumpeter and tundra swan flocks.

"Swan Migration" provides details about migration of trumpeter and tundra swans.
Two swan species are native to North America. In summer, both migrate to the Arctic for breeding and nesting. Male trumpeter swans, one of the world's largest water birds, can weigh up to 28 pounds, with females a few pounds lighter; tundra swans are less than two-thirds that size. … trumpeters have all-black bills, while most tundra swans have a yellow patch on theirs.
12 Days of Christmas, Swans, and Additional Birds

During my mind meandering about swans, I thought about "12 Days of Christmas" and the line about seven swans a-swimming. Then I recalled several gift references to different bird types. Yet, how many younger people know what these birds are? Partridge? Turtle doves? French hens? Calling birds?

For a starting point about lyrics, visit "The Twelve Days of Christmas Traditional" to view all lyrics in one place. Want to know how many total birds? Visit "How Many Birds Are In The 12 Days Of Christmas Carol?".

View two entertainingly illustrated videos are "12 Days Of Christmas | Kids Songs | Super Simple Songs" and "Christmas Songs for Children * 12 Days of Christmas * Kids Songs * Christmas Carols for Kids". BTW, those images might be unhelpful with identifying actual birds in the lyrics. View real bird pix accompanied by descriptions at "The bird songs behind 'The 12 Days of Christmas'".

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

DIY Red-light Head Light

You might ask, "Who would want a red-light head light?" Well, amateur astronomers, for hands-free seeing at night, especially if they're carrying or handling equipment, such as telescopes. Other night-sky observers might want to wear them for being able to walk around without bumping into people or items, and they can retain night vision while viewing objects, whether through telescopes or binoculars at night-sky watching events.

You might wonder why it's important to use red light at night to see with instead of using other-color light. Red light helps illuminate dark areas without adversely affecting night vision. Eyes need time to adjust to dark surroundings. At night, when someone turns on a non-red light, such as car headlights or white-light flashlight, sky objects become less visible and vibrant until the eyesight becomes re-accustomed to darkness.

A red light head light is a modification of an off-the-shelf elastic headband lamp. (More on acquiring the lamp and similar later.) The bulb itself is white—suitable for normal uses. For astronomy purposes, the light needs to be red.

Step-by-step Modifying Regular Headlight to Red Headlight

The video shows items needed, procedure, and white lightcircle next to red light circle. Items required:
  • Head lamp (Western Safety brand) or similar elastic-band lamp with center bulb
  • Red automotive tail light tape, available at auto parts stores
  • Scissors
Note: The tape should be wider than the diameter of the lamp's screw-on transparent cap. For example, the tape I used was 1 7/8" wide, and the cap was 1 5/8" across. (Ruler in video is for tape width reference.)

  1. Unscrew the retainer ring with clear cap from the rest of the lamp.
  2. Separate the clear cap from the ring.
  3. Cut a squarish piece of red tape that overlaps the cap with a reasonable margin all around. In my case, the tape was wider than the cap diameter by only 1/4".
  4. Firmly place the center of the flat part of the cap onto the sticky part of the tape.
  5. With scissors, snip the red tape's corners and sides up to the cap's edge.
  6. Fold and evenly press each of the snipped tape corners to the cap's edge, pressing at opposite corners for evenness in stickiness and surfaces.
  7. Press the retainer ring back onto the cap.
  8. Screw the retainer ring and cap onto the lamp.
For contrast, the video shows red and white flashlight circles side by side.

Getting an Elastic-band Headlight

Western Safety manufactures a headlamp commonly available at Amazon and Harbor Freight. Amazon's price is $1.79, and Harbor Freight's list price is $2.99. HF often offers freebie coupons for walk-in purchases. (Buy something, get lamp free.) For additional types of headlamps, visit Google image offerings.

Some Caveats of the Western Safety Headlamp

You might run into at least one of the following situations if you get headlamps that this company manufactures. The first two items have workarounds.

  • Slots for straps might be wide; straps might loosen from the unit. (Tape the strap pegs together.)

    Related: Contrast two styles of strap retainers and slots.

  • Straps might be short (tight fit) for the wearer. (Stitch an extender, such as a piece of a lanyard or wide ribbon.)

  • Switch sometimes doesn't turn on reliably.

  • Battery cavity can be slightly undersized and batteries not fitting well.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Nandina Domestica—Good, Bad, not Ugly

Out on a walk early February 4, I spotted a plant with striking red berries and vibrant leaves, making me think of Christmas and holly. It was growing wild in a shallow ravine just behind a guard rail.

The weather around that time was surprisingly moderate—mid-60s to 70ish, no precipitation. For that matter, January and February this year seemed mostly pretty springy, with February staying moderate except for about February 8 and 9, when wintery weather came for a short visit.

Took a few pix, then created a composite. Being pretty ignorant about plants, I posted the image to LinkedIn and requested ID help. Happily for me, a connection shortly replied and IDed it as "nandina", enthusiastically embracing its ever greenness and presence in her yard.

That enthusiasm and ID at that time sent me off web-hunting A Google search for "nandina" returned numerous hits that allude to poisonous and invasive properties. Hmmm, maybe nandina has both fans and haters. More on that later.

About a week or so ago, I ran across a copy of native plant species that a blogger friend of mine provided for one of the annual nearby nature walks. One item was "Nandina, heavenly bamboo — Nandina domestica", in the category of "Some Alien Invasive Plant Species ...". ("Alien" and "Invasive" in the same breath don't sound complimentary to me.)

"What Are the Different Types of Nandina Shrubs?" provides a good overview of the plant.
The shrubs are also called heavenly bamboo due to their upright shoots, which resemble those of bamboo, but in fact they're no relation. In U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 6 through 9, where nandina shrubs grow year-round, they can become invasive. ... To help prevent nandinas from taking over your yard, grow nonfruiting varieties. … Nandina leaves and berries are toxic and may be harmful to birds, humans, grazing animals and cats.

"Nandina domestica Heavenly Bamboo" provides both positive and negative points. (BTW, the site's pic at the left side shows just the berries and leaves that are very similar to my pic.)

Good and not Ugly (Upside)
Nandina spreads slowly by underground stems, providing attractive clumps for entryways, containers, or as specimen plantings in a ground cover. They also add an accent to the front of a shrub border when planted in groups or clumps.

Nandina is a low maintenance shrub, requiring only one pruning each year to control plant height, if needed.

Bad (Downside)
Plants have been reported as invasive into selected natural areas in Florida and other southern states.

"Nandina domestica (Heavenly Bamboo)" echoes a similar downside sentiment: "Native to Japan, China and India. Plants tend to be invasive in some southern states".

"Nandina (Nandina domestica)" is a two-minute video that provides good basic description and images of the plant. It, like several resources I've run across, mention the invasiveness.

"Heavenly Bamboo" provides description, pictures, and care information. No downside info. Wonder why? It's a plant vendor. Gave me pause to see the price—$69, considering the one I spotted was growing wild and free.

Additional Resources
  • "Nandina domestica Heavenly bamboo" heavily describes the plant's physical characteristics, propagation means, toxicity to some animals, and difficulty in controlling it. Note the website's name includes "invasives".
  • "Why nandina berries and certain birds don't mix" provides good basic info about nandina with a bit more specifics about the cedar waxwing bird's eating habits that make the berries more dangerous for them than most other animals. The embedded video describes the berries and leaf shape and configuration for those of us curious non-botanists.
  • "Just Try To Kill Nandina!" is an entertaining article that the author seems to both grudgingly admire the nandina for its beauty, yet also disdain the plant's tenacity for survival and propagation.
More Recent Composite, with Flowers

Three months after having taken the February pix, saw flowers and no berries. From "Nandina domestica" WRT order of flowers/berries, "8-15 in. erect panicle of white flowers in early summer; panicle of 0.3 in. bright red berries fall into winter". Panicle's a new term for me! Wisegeek's "What is a Panicle?" explains, "A panicle is a cluster of flowers which grows on the end of a branch or shoot."

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Reaching Past Pasta Ads that Feature La Donna E Mobile

Every now and then, I've tried finding a TV commercial that advertised pasta and used a particularly catchy classical piece. I've long since forgotten the name of the pasta and most of the pasta words. I had never learned the name of the music until a few weeks ago. With some further effort beyond doing a playlist lookup for my local classical music radio station, I narrowed it down to "La Donna E Mobile" from Giuseppe Verdi's opera Rigoletto. ("La Donna e Mobile" is a 43-sec instrumental autoplay audio that loops.)

I figured it would be easy to find the TV ad on YouTube, but it wasn't so. I expanded my searches. I've wracked my brain and looked all over the web. I posted to a forum requesting help in finding the ad. My inquiry included my feeble recall of lyrics that mention pasta shapes, such as mostaccioli, vermecilli, …. It seems the singer mentioned about 20 pasta shapes.

A couple of suggestions were close, but not correct. "The Pasta Song" has loads of pasta shapes in both lyrics and images. Not the correct song, however. Be forewarned that the images are mouth-watering and maybe hunger inducing! "Leggos ad by Grey Melbourne" starts out with a charming choreography of dancing tomatoes, and ends with their total destruction into sauce. Integration with music equipment is fascinating! Right music, incorrect lyrics.

I had an interesting journey seeking the ad. Besides encountering some nice performances, the following resources helped provide some overview of the opera plot.
Deeper curiosity about the plot led me to "Rigoletto Synopsis The Story of Verdi's Rigoletto", which provides info about the composer, characters, and summary about the entire play.

My curiosity about pronunciation percolated. "How to pronounce La donna è mobile" and "'La donna è mobile' Verdi (Rigoletto)" seem sensible resources.

The following links describe the popularity of La Donna e Mobile for various products—Doritos, tomato paste, Dancing with the Stars, Nestle Choco Crossies (cookies), AXE (body spray), …
I have almost totally given up on trying to find the ad (eh, from maybe early 60s). I suppose someone's parent or older friend who worked there AND spotted this resource or my article could specify the company name. Long shot, I think.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Bur Oak Acorn, Walnut-sized Nut

I spotted the curious-looking bur oak acorn just before Halloween. The acorn had a bushy cap, like a short-dreadlocks hairstyle. The acorn itself seemed about the size of a walnut. After I took it home, I found that the cap easily detached. The composite shows the acorn and cap with measuring stick.
I needed help with IDing the acorn; I made a composite picture with measuring stick, the acorn, and some live oak acorns for acorn-size comparisons.
Mama mia! Like imagining a bunch of munchins grouped near Jabba the Hutt!

I posted the comparison image to LinkedIn with a request for ID help. A LinkedIn connection kindly IDed it as a bur oak acorn and provided a link that redirected to Etsy’s “Popular items for burr oak acorns”. What an eyeful!

TexasSmartScape’s “Bur Oak Details” provides a general-interest description suitable for would-be tree owners. The acorn size info confirms largeness—“The acorns can be up to 2 inches in size”. The cap description is “thick mossy”.

"What Is This Thing? Bur oak acorn cap" goes into great detail about the cap. The site shows some pictures of size variations of one tree’s acorns and leaves. (Other comparison pictures show acorns and caps for bur oak against some other oaks.)
gargantuan, monster acorn caps from the bur oak tree (Quercus macrocarpa) … weird because of the shaggy ornamentation encircling the cap. … Caps in the southern portion have long fringe hairs while others at the far north of its range are much smaller and barely have any shag at all. … The shagginess and the size of the cap are the reason for one of the tree's other common names: mossy-cup oak. … The Latin name macrocarpa translates to "large fruit." The acorns of bur oak are the largest of all the native oaks.
"How to Identify Oaks Using Acorns" was helpful in identifying the smallish acorns I collected in the yard. These are shiny, stripey, and sleek, and matched pictures of live oak acorns on the site.

Although I also have Texas red oak trees (Quercus buckleyi)—or trees closely related to them, the site’s pictures of red oaks' acorns more resemble the nuts I’ve seen in spring sproutings. (I’d actually transplanted a few over the years. I kid about squirrels burying such nuts and forgetting about them later.)

How to Identify Oaks by the Acorns” is another source for identifying oaks by their acorns. The websites’ approaches are different, but helpful with content and images.

Are you ambitious enough to try to process acorns for consumption? “Foraging for Acorns: Identification, Processing + Acorn Recipes” is loaded with how-to information.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Raking Leaves Ain't Hard to Do (widescreen)

My previous article about parodying "Neil Sedaka's "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do" included info about raking leaves chores and implements, and parts collection for the music videos. (It points to the YouTube video that integrates content, scrolling lyrics, and vocals.) This article, besides pointing to the widescreen video, describes some of my processes and the lessons learned for picking, creating, and integrating items into both video versions.

After deciding that raking chores were both fun and not fun, we decided Neil Sedaka's "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do" would be doable for music and lyrical twists. For refamiliarizing myself with the music, I poked around YouTube for instances of both vocal and instrumental versions. It took me a few tries of writing leaf-rake-theme lyrics, with occasional recent tweaking, to mimic Breaking's rhyme scheme and meter.

In December, I shot videos of mostly leaf blowing and stills of items I thought might be usable. In January, I shot videos of myself with leaf-raking implements. Over time, I took and edited screenshots and scans—sizing, placements, enhancements.

I compiled an initial video using clips. For creating the scrolling-lyrics version (narrow-screen), I then recorded a widescreen mid-section, but with the action area to the left and a blank area to the right. I then severely edited out dead-action sections of the narrow-screen video. Afterward, I revisited the initial video, editing and matching clip durations of the narrow-screen version.

The vocals were challenging. I've not sung in a group for, uh, a long time. Singing melody's easier than singing harmony. My range and timing are not so hot; I'm not planning to go pro anytime soon.

Initial Distortion Issues and Resolution
Major lesson learned was recording of the vocals. (I used the microphone in my Canon PowerShot.) Some of my recording attempts resulted in distortions:
  • Recording with the camera too close to the speaker (~15 inches away).
  • Having the speaker volume too high.
I resolved the issues by being sure to mount the camera on a tripod, about a yard away from the speaker, high enough for me stand and sing while holding the lyrics sheet. Because the earlier recording also showed the background in viewfinder, I was able to position the camera in the same place the next day.

Takes, Vocals Timings
I created multiple tracks of instrumental sections—intro, which also served as the song ending, verse 1 and 2 together (v1v2), and bridge with verse 3 (bridgeandv3). I sang into these tracks to emulate multiple takes to lessen the number of start/stop times. After reviewing recordings, I could hear problems—hurrying, lagging, mispronunciations, off-key notes. Audio graphs made me think of marching band members that are out of step.

I had recorded separate soprano and alto sections for v1v2 and bridgeandv3. Attempts to mesh each song part resulted in awfulness. Subsequently, recording multiple takes of soprano during playback of alto worked reasonably well.

The initial integrated videos amounted to a little over 2 minutes. The audio, consisting of intro, v1v2, bridgeandv3 twice, and intro again, amounted to almost 2 1/2 minutes. (The final audio drove the videos.) To align the story telling, I duplicated appropriate visual parts for matching lyrics, varying speed rates of clips and durations of images. Lyrics follow.
Raking Leaves Ain't Hard to Do

Do do do darn, lots of leaves are down!
Come on, get the rakes and leaf bags now,
Come on, get the blower, chute, and dust pan, too,
Raking leaves ain’t hard to do!

Don't bellyache, complain to me.
Don't you think it's time to rake the leaves?
If you leave, then I'll feel blue,
Coz raking 'lone's no fun to do.

Remember when you'd nag me times,
That we had a lot of leaves in sight?
Think of bags that we've gone through,
But raking wasn't hard to do.

You often say that raking's a drudge to do,
Now you know it isn’t quite true,
Don’t grump or be in a funk,
Instead of feeling dreary,
I wish that we were being cheery.

I'm telling you, we'll have good fun,
Movin' leaves around and raking them up,
Sacking, packing bags in rows of two,
Raking leaves ain't hard to do.

[Repeat bridge and subsequent verse.]

Do do do darn, lots of leaves are down!
Come on, get the rakes and leaf bags now,
Come on, get the blower, chute, and dust pan, too,
Raking leaves ain’t hard to do!
If you prefer, you can view lyrics in the YouTube video "Raking Leaves Ain't Hard to Do (with scrolling lyrics)".

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Raking Leaves Ain't Hard to Do (with scrolling lyrics)

Early December, raking chores inspired me to parody "Neil Sedaka's "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do". I wrote and sang (not greatly) words to go with "Breaking Up" instrumental music. This article points to the YouTube video that integrates original content, scrolling lyrics, and vocals.

For working items, I shot videos of blowing leaves using a blower and holding up equipment (rakes, leaf bags, blower, leaf chute, and dust pan). For still images, I shot pictures, created and edited images. I created widescreen and narrow-view videos. This narrow-view version shows scrolling lyrics at the right side.

Note: The resolution is less sharp than with original video clips. I had displayed and recorded the clips so the visuals would show up narrow and offset, with a solid section to the right for later addition of scrolling lyrics.

"Raking Leaves Ain't Hard to Do (widescreen)" links to the widescreen version, which shows no scrolling lyrics, but more of the backgrounds. It also describes some of the lessons learned for picking, creating, and integrating items into the two video versions.

I've pasted part of the parody lyrics; the rest are available at the YouTube video.
Do do do darn, lots of leaves are down!
Come on, get the rakes and leaf bags now,
Come on, get the blower, chute, and dust pan, too,
Raking leaves ain’t hard to do!

Don't bellyache, complain to me.
Don't you think it's time to rake the leaves?

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

An Earl of Sandwich at a Blue Baker

Over several years of patronizing Blue Baker (Austin), I'd occasionally glanced at wall artwork—mostly food items and an Earl of Sandwich.

Blue Baker's painting of the Earl of Sandwich conveys a lot of basic info, starting with the banner above him with name and title. He sits with his arms almost folded, holding a card hand in his right hand. Behind him at his right shoulder is a sandwich. A nearby scroll displays short text about his sandwich association.

About a month ago, I took closer note of the card hand. He held the ace of diamonds, king of spades, queen of hearts, jack of clubs, and ten of hearts. I got to thinking about card hand ranks. "Poker Hand Rankings" shows images and text for the 10 ranking poker hands. Because the earl's sequential cards (ace high) are not in the same suit, the hand is not the highest ranked royal flush, but seventh-ranked straight.

The sandwich part of the image piqued me to consider single-hand foods. On one hand, impractical sandwiches—sloppy (Sloppy Joes), oversize (triple burgers), utensil-required open-face sandwiches. On another hand, dough-enclosure foods that totally envelop fillings.

Awkward Sandwiches

Sandwiches can be drippy and messy, such as sloppy joes. How about open-faced sandwiches that go against the earl's intent of one-handed eating? How about a Dagwood, which "Dagwood Sandwich History" describes it as "a mountainous pile of dissimilar leftovers precariously arranged between two slices of bread"?

Seems that more recently, several eatery chains offer up sandwiches that are as thick as they are wide. Examples include triple-patty burgers and submarine sandwiches with multiple items and options for extra meat servings. Do a Google image search for "thick sandwiches" for eye-popping pictures.

Dough-enclosure Foods

Maybe Earl of Sandwich was capable of eating a sandwich while playing cards. More convenient hand handling foods would seem to be dough-enclosure foods like piroshki, savory kolaches, bierocks, and Chinese pork buns. With apparent similar feature of keeping fillings inside, empañadas are smaller hand-held turnovers.

"Baked Piroshki (Russian Stuffed Rolls)" explains the stuffed pies and mentions similar hand-held foods. It also points to "Bierocks (German Stuffed Rolls)". I'd not heard of bierocks before, but they sound similar to piroshki. Both sites include cultural info, pictures, and recipes.

"The Czech Pastry That Took Texas By Storm, And Keeps Gaining Strength" explains that kolaches are Czech-origin, but savory ones started in Texas.
While traditional kolaches are fruit-filled, a Texan twist evolved when they were made with sausage, cheese and jalapeños. Irwin, a self-proclaimed kolache purist, maintains that these are not true kolaches, but rather what her father called a "klobasniki."
"Pork Buns" shows seven types of pork buns—baked, fried, steamed, with links to recipes.

Ahhh, I'm not much into bread dough labor, even though I have both a tilt-head mixer and bread maker. I use them in spurts. Pizza recipes make my eyes glaze over. My favorite way to get these fresh, doughy foods is to go to ethnic eateries. Or think about other things till the yens subside.


In the distant past, I had prepared a sandwich that evolved from BLT. The initials were good reminders of the ingredients, excluding condiments. A BLEATCH sandwich is labor intensive, and easier to assemble if ingredients are prepared and parceled out ahead of time.

Initial ingredients (Prepare with consideration for bread size you'd use.)
  • Bacon (couple of cooked slices)
  • Lettuce (a leaf)
  • Egg (yolk broken and cooked after egg flip, or stir then pan-fried as though for an omelet)
  • Avocado (a layer. It'd be BLETCH without avocado.)
  • Tomato (a layer)
  • Cheese (a slice or more)
  • Ham (a slice)
Lightly grill or toast two slices of bread. Spread condiments. Assemble initial ingredients between the bread slices. Your stacking order may vary.

Another Early Look

For more details and images of the Earl of Sandwich, visit "The sandwich was named after an 18th century earl who didn’t want to take a break from gambling to eat".

Friday, January 11, 2019

2019 New Year's Day Buck

On January 1 about 4:30 PM, I spotted the buck during a neighborhood walk. Those antlers were the biggest I've seen in a residential area. I wondered What kind of deer I recorded? Based on several sources that indicate loads of white-tailed deer in Texas, and confirming concentrations in Central Texas, I'd say he was a white-tail buck. Also, he resembles several pix I've run across in websites. From "What Kind of Deer Are in Texas?":
Two species of deer are native to Texas’s vast and varied countryside: the white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and the mule deer (O. heminous). … one of the largest populations of whitetails in the country: close to four million. … White-tailed deer, the most widely distributed and evolutionarily ancient deer in North America, get their common name from the snowy underside of their tails, which they prominently flash when alarmed.

The Texas whitetail (O. v. texanus) occupies the broadest range, found across most of the central and western portions of the state. … Compared to whitetails, mule deer -- named for their outsized ears -- have a much smaller native range in Texas. … According to Texas Parks & Wildlife, the state likely harbors between 150,000 and 250,000 mule deer.
Visit "A QUICK GUIDE TO DIFFERENTIATE MULE DEER FROM WHITE-TAILED DEER" for good content and side-by-side pictures to contrast these two deer types.

"5 Facts About Texas Deer That You May or May Not Know" states that 3.6 million white-tailed deer are in Texas (as of November 2017 publication). Regarding size, "South Texas produces the biggest white-tailed deer, due to the protein in the brush that the deer eat there." (The three white-tail deer in the group picture resemble my neighborhood buck.)
I wondered about antlers. "How Do Deer Antlers Grow?" provided rudimentary info.
Deer antlers are growths of bone that deer and similar animals produce for mating season. Only male deer produce antlers, and few deer keep their antlers for long periods. Contrary to popular belief, the size of the antlers and the number of points do not indicate the age of the deer.
I wondered further: How fast do antlers grow? What happens to shed antlers? More details about the velvety fuzz on antlers?

For a really in-depth read, visit "About Deer Antlers". Interesting factoid—"antler growth is one of the fastest known types of tissue growth in mammals, and a deer’s antlers can grow at a rate of 1/4 inch per day".

From "What Happens to a Male Deer's Antlers in the Winter?"
they eventually drop off sometime between December and March -- not always at the same time -- and are left behind. The skull bleeds and scabs over, healing so the antlers can grow back in the spring. In the meantime, the antlers that he shed are eaten by smaller animals like squirrels, who benefit from whatever calcium remains.
"White-tailed Deer" provides more details about antlers.
antlers are shed each year after breeding season and must be replaced with a new set grown the following year. … Shedding takes place from mid-January to mid-April, but most mature bucks in good physical condition have dropped their antlers by the end of February.

Unlike horns, antlers are solid bone and are grown only by members of the deer family.
For very detailed descriptions of the antler process, accompanied by stunning images of bucks' heads, visit "Whitetail Deer Antler Growth Process". As for velvety antlers:
Most northern bucks will have completed their antler growth by the 10th of August, … For the next 20-25 days the antlers will harden. During this time … the velvet covering the antlers shrinks as the blood flow slows. Sometime in late August through mid-September most bucks will peel the velvet from their antlers.
I thought about additional curiosities about deer, such as speed, odd head noises, and jumping.

"How Fast Does a Whitetail Deer Run?" states "White-tailed deer can sprint at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour."

Have you been close enough to hear deer snort or make other weird head noises? "Bleats to Grunts – Deer Sounds and What They Mean" contains lots of authoritative content and videos.

Wonder about deer jumping capabilities? A company that sells fence kits describes the relationship between deer vision and fence jumping. From "FACTS ABOUT DEER AND FENCES: WHY DEER JUMP":
They have real trouble seeing the fence top. Deer see best in the yellow, deep blue and certain ultraviolet portions of the spectrum, …. In addition, deer have limited depth perception. Their eyes are on the sides of their heads (for wrap-around peripheral vision to spot predators), so their binocular vision is sacrificed and their 3D sense (especially for nearby objects) is weak. Thus, they have difficulty telling where your barely visible deer fence leaves off and the trees or sky begin.
Another company that sells fence parts also describes deer vision and fence jumping. From "How High Does a Deer Fence Need To Be?":
Deer can jump an average of 8’ high, but will not risk the jump if they are uncertain because they have poor vertical vision … both plastic deer fencing and PVC-coated steel hex web mesh deer fence poorly reflect these wavelengths.
For more info about fences and other means to resolve deer problems in your area, the following sites provide suggestions. (The fourth website more emphasizes using plants than fences.)
I myself don't see deer sauntering near my own home, and have very little in the way of a salad bar that attracts deer. The buck was a happy accidental spotting to start my year off.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

April Fooling Easter Halloween and More

This year's hoppening day was the convergence of April Fool's Day and Easter Sunday, very rare. How rare? From "Easter falls on April Fools Day in 2018: How often does that happen? …":
For the first time since 1956, Easter Sunday falls on April 1 - or April Fool's Day. Since 1900, Easter has fallen on April Fool's Day only four times - 1923, 1934, 1945 and 1956. It won't happen again until 2029. … Easter generally falls between March 22 and April 25 each year. … egg hunts, family gatherings and visits from the Easter Bunny, who leaves treats in children's Easter baskets.
Were-Rabbit for April Fool's Day/Easter Sunday and Halloween

A weirdly appropriate item to use this year was the Burger King Curse of the Were-Rabbit basket, which came out around Halloween 2005. This basket promoted "Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)".

From "Clay Time: Wallace & Gromit's U.S. Romp" (publish date October 2, 2005):
Wallace and Gromit are asked to protect a small town from night-raiding rabbits who chomp people's prized vegetables…. Prepare for Halloween buckets, ….
Thoughts back in 2005 about the were-rabbit might not have extended to 2018 and Easter. Think rabbits and Easter baskets. And having Easter and April Fool's Day made that Sunday even more cutesy, imho. The basket did double duty this year. (I gave a friend my basket so her grandchild could tote it for this year's Easter/April Fool's Day and Halloween. If I'd only had the foresight to stash away some 2017 Halloween candy, …)

What Else Hoppened?

During a walk in the neighborhood last week, I spotted symbols of differing occasions at one house. Christmas-themed, to be sure, but a rabbit (Easter symbol) and winged dragon (Halloween symbol) are unusual. If the homeowner also laid out some hearts, shamrocks, and American flags, the display could cover six holiday seasons.

Speaking of shamrocks, during yesterday evening's walk, I spotted a snowman balloon that made me think of St. Patrick's Day. The hatband has a sprig of hollies and berries, but could probably look appropriate with a shamrock or leprechaun around March 17 in cold areas.

Circling back to an offbeat symbol, how about a fangy snowman, or two? Spotted them during yesterday's walk. Imho, their faces look more Halloweeny scary than Frosty friendly.

Heck, why not just have Halloween inflatables and lights up starting in September? F'rinstance, "Christmas Disney Inflatable 5.5 Santa Jack Skellington The Nightmare Before Christmas Airblown Decoration" is available at Amazon. Another inflatable, fangy like my finds, is "Gemmy Bumble Christmas Inflatable Fabric 1 Multicolored".

April Fool's Day and Sunday, no Hoppening Easter Bunny)

My tshirt's design shows a footrace for April 1, 1990. That day was a Sunday ("Sunday 1 April 1990"). It was not, however, Easter Sunday. "When Was Easter Sunday in 1990?" shows that date was April 15. This site provides dates for Easter Sundays that you can click for links up through 2047 and also use the calculator for an unlisted year.

Want another calendar source? Astronomical Society of South Australia's "Calculate the Date of Easter Sunday" includes links to Easter Sunday dates that span six centuries (18th through 23rd). Speaking of astronomy, the following is my 2018 April Fool's story, which I sent out to a select audience March 31.

March Madness Under a Full Moon (Awoooo!)

The March astronomy meeting triggered a melee during a speaker's Raspberry Pi Astrophotography: LinGuider presentation. A precocious youth blew a raspberry during the discussion about the Raspberry Pi, then exclaimed, "Where's the pie!" The youth's father, embarrassed and angry at his son's outburst, went full Homer and started to throttle the boy's throat, growling, "Why you little …!"

Another audience member, shocked at the physical interaction, threw his pocket pen protector (PPP) at the dueling pair. The plastic envelope started to float harmlessly towards earth, but somehow picked up an air pocket, then veered and jabbed someone nearer the PPP thrower. The unintended target, enraged at the jab, shaped a hardcopy celestial-events handout into a paper plane, then hurled it toward the PPP thrower. It missed, and instead pricked yet another audience member.

Within minutes, handouts, spectacles, smartphones, laptops, and soda cans ranging in fluid capacity from empty to full flew everywhere. Police were summoned. Dozens were arrested and escorted into a paddy wagon under the full-moon evening, presumably arraigned and released in time to attend the next month's meeting.

APRIL FOOL'S DAY! Actually, the speaker's March 1 presentation was very well-received. Lots of questions, answers, comments, suggestions.

This article brings me to the end of 2018, having hopped from and to a few special occasions this year. Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Chuckwalla Lizard Part 2 of 2 (with Walla Segue)

Initially, I intended to have one article that described a chuckwalla in context of a wildlife rescue facility, general info about this species of lizard, and other "walla" items. I wound up with so much content that I decided to split the topic into two. The previous part, "Chuckwalla Lizard, Part 1 of 2 (at Lindsay Wildlife Experience)" focuses on the common chuckwalla at the rescue facility. This part pertains to general chuckwalla lizard info with segue into "walla".

General Chuckwalla Lizard Info

WikiVividly entry for chuckwalla provides good overall chuckwalla info. The Chuckwalla Sauromalus table, headed by pix of male and female common chuckwallas, has a nice feature of expanding scientific terms by hovering over them. The webpage also has abbreviated sections with pictures for related chuckwallas. Etymological info breaks down the genus name.
The generic name, Sauromalus, is a combination of two Ancient Greek words: … (sauros) meaning "lizard" and … (omalus) meaning "flat".[2] The common name "chuckwalla" derives from the Shoshone word tcaxxwal or Cahuilla caxwal, transcribed by Spaniards as chacahuala.
"Northern Chuckwalla" provides a good introduction of the common chuckwalla. The site describes physical characteristics, habitat, life cycle, reproduction, and role as predator/prey.

"Chuckwallas [Sauromalus ater]" provides a short overview; the textual contrast between the male and female are helpful.
In the common chuckwalla, depending upon the population, male coloration may include black head, forelegs and upper trunk, and reddish-yellow toward the rear or a showy bright red body. Females are usually a much less showy gray or brown with little pattern.
"COMMON CHUCKWALLA Sauromalus ater" is an Arizona-centric website. It describes distribution and habitat to be primarily westernish Arizona, accompanied by a "Known Range" map. It has overview descriptions of the animal and includes specimen pictures.
A large (up to 229 mm or 9" from snout to vent) flat and wide lizard with loose folds of skin on the neck and sides of the body. The head, shoulders, and limbs of males are black. ... Females are gray-brown with faint mottling or crossbars and often have faint gray bands on the tail.
"Common Chuckwalla - Sauromalus ater" is short on content but plentiful for visual items. Its map shows the range as a big splotch that, besides westernish Arizona, also includes parts of southeastern California, southern Nevada, and parts of Mexico adjoining the Gulf of California. Somewhat amusing is that all the still images are chuckwallas in Arizona.

The common chuckwalla is related to the spiny lizard, which I wrote about in "Texas Spiny Lizard and Some Kin". The higher level of reptiles is "squamates" (amphibians, snakes, lizards) > lizards. (Click Taxonomy tab at "Lizards (Suborder Sauria)" to view hierarchy info.)
  • Lizards Suborder Sauria > Iguanas and Chuckwallas (Family Iguanidae)—the common chuckwalla is at Iguanas and Chuckwallas (Family Iguanidae) > Chuckwallas (Genus Sauromalus) > Common Chuckwalla (Sauromalus ater).
  • Lizards Suborder Sauria > Phrynosomatid Lizards (Family Phrynosomatidae)—the Texas spiny lizard is at Phrynosomatid Lizards (Family Phrynosomatidae) > Subfamily Phrynosomatinae > Subfamily Sceloporinae > Spiny Lizards (Genus Sceloporus) > Texas Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus olivaceus).
Additional Walla Items

"Chuckwalla" made me think of "walla" text, which shows up in diverse places but seem to have little commonality for meaning.

"Odwalla, Inc. History" states the product and origin of the company name.
today one of the country's leading brands of fresh juice … The company's name came from a character in an Art Ensemble of Chicago song-poem called 'Illistrum.' Odwalla delivered the 'people of the sun' from the 'gray haze.'
"Walla Walla… Then & Now" provides basic information about Walla Walla.
Walla Walla is a First Nations name meaning "many waters." In 1805, when Lewis and Clark traveled by the mouth of a small river flowing into the Columbia River, they met a group of Indians who told them their name for the small river was "Wallah Wallah."
"Walla Walla – People of Many Waters" provides extensive history of the tribe, area, and current geographical area.
A Shahaptian tribe who lived for centuries on the Columbia River Plateau in northeastern Oregon and southeastern Washington, their name is translated several ways but, most often, as “many waters.” … The tribe included many groups and bands that were often referred to by their village names, such as Wallulapum and Chomnapum.
"Word of the Day / Walla: What, Really? Walla!" is a different look at walla, but feasible because of pronunciation.
comes from the Arabic word that means “by Allah!” or “I swear to God!” It is made up of the word “Allah” and the “w” sound that can be used in Arabic to represent an oath.
An entertaining use of walla walla comes from the very old novelty song "Witch Doctor - Ooh Eeh Ooh Ah Aah Ting Tang Walla Walla Bing".

Remember "Tie Me Kangaroo Down"? View "Rolf Harris - Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport [Bandstand 1960]". The first animal mentioned is "wallaby", "walla" appended with additional syllable. At Wiktionary's "wallaby":
From wolaba, an Australian Aboriginal word from New South Wales.… Any of several species of marsupial; usually smaller and stockier than kangaroos
Well, I now know a lot more about chuckwalla lizards than I did a week ago!

Lizard articles:

Friday, November 30, 2018

Chuckwalla Lizard Part 1 of 2 (at Lindsay Wildlife Experience)

I took pix of a chuckwalla lizard last month when I visited Lindsay Wildlife Experience (LWE), a wild-animal rescue facility that rehabilitates 5,500 animals a year. The keeper, who had a harness on it, invited us to touch its back, head to tail direction, and not the other direction. It was bigger than geckos that I'd occasionally seen in my garage, and not particularly colorful. If the keeper mentioned gender, name, habitat, or other details, I didn't retain the info. Fortunately, I did recall "chuckwalla".

This week, my interest in the chuckwalla increased after I researched info and published my blog article about a related lizard: "Texas Spiny Lizard and Some Kin". I poked around LWE's webpages. I figured basic chuckwalla info would include webpage timeframe, name, gender. My online travels to find and organize those pieces of info seemed like Family Circus dashed line paths. Such information was confusing among LWE webpages, the most mystifying being no year reference.

From "Common Chuckwalla"—"newest and youngest reptile animal ambassador. She came to live at Lindsay Wildlife in 2014 at only a few years old." Note reference to "she" at condensed info and expansive info pages.

The "Name Lindsay’s New Common Chuckwalla", besides including "October 18" without a year, confused me because of seemingly male names and descriptions as follow:
Joshua – To represent Joshua Tree National Park.
Guapo – Meaning handsome in Spanish.
Aladar – This is the name of the iguanodon from the Disney movie Dinosaur.
Pasqual – To represent San Pasqual Band of Diegueño Mission Indians of California.
Instagram and Facebook both enlightened and confused—two posts a week apart that listed "2017" for the year.
  1. May 21, 2017—"Chucki says 'happy Sunday'!" I think a name that ends with "i" instead of "y" usually signals a female. Confirmation? Maybe not.
  2. May 28, 2017—"CHUCK SAYS HAPPY SUNDAY …".
Both posts had the same picture for both "Chucki" and "Chuck"! Weirdly, both Instagram and Facebook's posting dates were Mondays, not Sundays. So, I wondered, what's going on with LWE's post talking about a name for its male chuckwalla. ??

Closer Looks Through Facebook

When I started including "Facebook" with my searches for chuckwalla and Lindsay Wildlife Experience, more background info emerged. The September 15 Facebook post announces deeper details about the male chuckwalla's arrival at LWE. Three images accompany this post.
The new ambassador now at Lindsay is: A Common Chuckwalla! This is Lindsay's second Common Chuckwalla onsite. Our other is named Chucki and she has been at Lindsay since 2014. … And we are happy to have him because now he and Chucki can be on display together in the Exhibit Hall. … And stay tuned for when we announce how to help name this awesome reptile!
A Facebook post October 10 about naming the chuckwalla had almost identical info as the LWE naming-contest post.

Closer Looks and More Complete Recent Info Through Instagram

When I started including "Instagram" with my searches for chuckwalla and Lindsay Wildlife Experience, details became more clear. Google provided an Instagram link WRT voting for a name for their new male. The hit summary especially helped by listing Oct 10, 2018 for date.
lindsaywildlifeVOTE NOW: NAME THAT CHUCKWALLA! Help us name our new Common Chuckwalla. Our new male Chuckwalla comes from our friends at the Oakland Zoo. He and our other Chuckwalla, Chucki, can be found on display together in the Exhibit Hall. But this new wildlife ambassador needs a name. …
The Instagram and Facebook posts coincided with each other for topic for naming the chuckwalla and dates.

Some previous-years Instagram posts came up via "lindsaywildlife":
  1. December 11, 2016 featuring chuckwalla Chucki and desert iguana Sonora: "lindsaywildlifeGal pals Chucki and Sonora." (Click hashtags at the post to display additional pix.)
  2. March 22, 2017 featuring towel-wrapped Chucki: "Chucki really seems to enjoy her warm bath. …"
  3. March 24, 2017 announcing Sonora's death. The post includes a link to a very short video of her from earlier in the month.
Returning to more current Instagram posts, LWE's post of October 17 provided the chuckwalla-naming vote outcome and cleared up my confusion about the male/female animal.
lindsaywildlifeMEET… GUAPO! Thanks to all who voted. It was a very, very close vote for the winning name for our new Common Chuckwalla. The name Guapo, meaning handsome in Spanish, won out for this new wildlife ambassador. Thanks all for voting!

We agree and think this lizard is muy guapo! Come meet him in person and his friend Chucki, our female Common Chuckwalla, the next time you are at Lindsay Wildlife.
LWE's Instagram Halloween post and picture of the pair provided more chuckwalla content. It even gave me more help with my inquisitiveness—the keeper's name.
COUPLE COSTUME GOALS: Our two Common Chuckwallas Guapo and Chucki will for sure win Best Couple Costume tonight! They are all decked out in their [sic], specially made by Keeper Rachael, dragon wings! And Chucki, the girl chuckwalla, wanted to show who was boss so she just laid on top of Guapo!
FWIW, I think the picture was cropped too narrow for having excluded both lizards' snouts. Anyway, based on a few pix of the LWE's male chuckwalla (Guapo) being darkish blue, I think my chuckwalla pic is more likely Chucki (kinda grayish in my pix) than Guapo.

Not Facebook nor Instagram Help

Twitter posts were rare WRT chuckwalla and Lindsay Wildlife Experience. One Goggle hit that I explored, however, helped for date context by listing an actual event date—"Saturday, October 20, 2018" . "Feathers, Scales, & Furry Tails! Lindsay Wildlife Experience in Beach Park" shows a prominent pic of a chuckwalla. This picture is the same one on LWE's thumbnail pic of chuckwalla in "Adopt An Animal".

Read my second part about chuckwallas Chuckwalla Lizard Part 2 of 2 (with Walla Segue).

Lizard articles:

Friday, November 23, 2018

Texas Spiny Lizard and Some Kin

Last week during a walk, a critter scampered up a 6' picket fence. It splayed its legs along a picket (6" wide). From the positioning of the head, neck, and tail extending into adjacent pickets, it looked to be up to a foot long. The biggest eye-catchers were glimpses of blue at its underbelly and spiky dorsal. The spikiness, imho, makes it look somewhat prehistoric, like a scelidosaurus, or maybe a dragon.

A friend more familiar with lizards than I thought it might be a Texas spiny lizard. The next day, I rooted around the web for more info and images. (Some resources will be about additional spiny lizards and likewise spiky-looking horned lizards.)

"WILD ABOUT TEXAS: Texas spiny lizards harmless, helpful" provides good, moderate amount of info about my animal of interest.
often called "tree lizards" or "fence lizards" by those who are lucky enough to witness them, and for good reason. Texas spiny lizards are highly arboreal, spending much of their time above the ground in oak, pecan or mesquite trees. Wooden fenceposts are also a favorite, …

adult males frequently achieving lengths of nearly 11 inches. … The lizard's belly is usually cream colored, and males have two blue patches on either side of their belly. The tail is quite long.
For stepping back and taking a bigger-picture look at lizards, visit "A List of Different Types of Lizards With Facts and Images", which has loads of overall info and pretty pix. Note: the family categorization WRT spiny lizards goes down to only "Phrynosomatidae Family".

Click the taxonomy tab of "Phrynosomatid Lizards (Family Phrynosomatidae)" to view the subfamilies of Phrynosomatinae, which include Horned Lizards (Genus Phrynosoma) and Sceloporinae Spiny Lizards (Genus Sceloporus). The Texas spiny lizard a member of this genus, as is the desert spiny lizard.

For deeper drilldown of taxonomy of Phrynosomatidae > Sceloporinae > Spiny Lizards (Genus Sceloporus) > Texas Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus olivaceus), visit "Texas Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus olivaceus)". View numerous pix at "Photos of Texas Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus olivaceus)". For kin spiny lizards (seemingly close cousins), visit "Spiny Lizards (Genus Sceloporus)".

Horned lizards are similar to spiny lizards. Organization is Phrynosomatinae > Horned Lizards (Genus Phrynosoma)".

Many of the resources I list are videos because they contain many more visual details of these animals than static pages. Note the similarities in name and looks among Texas spiny lizard, desert spiny lizard, and Texas horned lizard. Another lizard in my following mix is the regal honed lizard.

"Reptile - Lizard: Texas Spiny Lizard" has good views and general info about the female lizard.

"Wild Desert Spiny Lizard Loves Flies" shows best profile view at about 1:00. the narrator for "Desert Spiny Lizard" provides good views and general info about the male lizard.

At "Spiny Lizard Catches Me!", most footage of the desert spiny lizard starts at about 8:30. Other significant items (at front end of video) are a large fallen saguaro cactus and small diamondback rattlesnake. The lizard's tongue, viewable for about a split second, shows up at 12:54 mark. (The lizard's tongue is significant in my Supergirl reference farther down.)

In "Lizard Covered in SPIKES?!", the animal is a Regal Horned Lizard, but skin spikiness is similar to a spiny lizard. This video includes a roadrunner without audio of "Beep! Beep!" View another spiky lizard—the Texas horned lizard which has Texas state fame.
Texas designated the Texas horned lizard (Phrynosoma cornutum) the official state reptile in 1993. … Known variously as a horned toad, horny toad, and horned frog
A recent Supergirl episode featured a spiky lizard. "Supergirl 4x06 Kara fights a Dragon (HD)" shows Spike, a girl's alien lizard that transforms into a flying, flame-breathing dragon. Spike is mostly in dim lighting while in the terrarium near the clip's start, on the floor later, and in Supergirl's arms near the clip's end. Spike as lizard has a pointy head and long tongue.

Spike as dragon has a more rounded jaw, not-obvious tongue as he blows flames outward. Imho, if not for wings and fire-breathing and outsize scale (size, not dermis), he resembles the Texas spiny lizard.

Lizard articles:

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

So How Cute ARE June Bugs?

Back in late August, I took a pic of a green bug. Was fortunate that a neighbor was able to ID it for me. Well, he sent me a link that was most helpful. The feature hit went to "June Beetle Time!" (from NCSU). Besides chock full of info and some beautiful images, that site helpfully linked to Bugguide's "Species Cotinis nitida - Green June Beetle" info tab. I was sure glad the Taxonomy tab showed the hierarchy. (When I searched before finding my neighbor's email, "Family Scarabaeidae - Scarab Beetles" was about as far as I could go before getting really lost.)

It was a little odd that NCSU's article was dated for late July, and my set of three pix are from August. So before talking about its cuteness, we'll address why it's called a June bug. Terminex's "Why are June Bugs Called June Bugs?" explains "June bugs derive their name from the fact that adult June bugs emerge from the soil at the end of spring or the beginning of the summer." The June bug they show looks quite different than the picture I show, probably because of so many species of beetles.
The name "June bug" refers to any of the 100 species of beetles that are related to the scarabs familiar from ancient Egyptian iconography. Other common names for the June bug include "June beetle" and "May beetle." The common June bug is one-half to five-eighths inches long and reddish-brown in color. Being beetles, they also sport shiny wing covers, called elytra.
"What are June Bugs? How Can I Get Rid of June Bugs?" content seems to vacillate between objectiveness and hostility. Helpful info does include short descriptions of what the site lists as the six most common species. (The pix are nice to look at.)
One of the most troublesome bugs – at least for a few weeks each summer – is the so-called June bug. These large and clumsy beetles are attracted to nighttime light, so they can be a pest to any outdoor evening activity you have planned.
"This Month's Bug: The 'June Bug'" has good news and bad news.
June bugs don't bite, sting, or spread disease. The bad news: adult June bugs feed on trees and shrubs, and can cause quite a bit of damage to your landscaping. Even more harmful are the grubs, who live underground and feed on your plant roots, harming plants.
The three previous resources are from pest control companies. They do a reasonable job of describing June bugs and showing pix. They also are ready to help the reader control them. Some informative sites that aren't in the control business:
  • "5 things you need to know about June bugs" is light on content, but has humongous gorgeous bug pic.
  • "Cute as a June Bug" was dated June 2011, plugging a museum event and cited the expression, but no in-depth analysis. The bug pic was large but not so cute.
  • "Cute as a bug?" has much cuter June bugs on a flower, reminding me of emerald color.
  • "Green June Beetle Bug" shows a bug tromping through some grasses. You can see jade-like topside and green-foil-like legs and head.
  • "THE SHINY GREEN JUNE BUG" shows someone handling the bug so you can see top side (matte) and bottom side (glossy).
  • Another June bug expression, which I stumbled on during research: The title says it all:"All Over it like a Duck on a Junebug" "For many Southerners, it’s very picture of eagerness and alacrity:"
June bugs are quite cute in shape and color, especially the underside. Too bad I didn't have the nerve to pick up my specimen for fear of bites or stings. Ignorance on my part. If I see another one in the future, I might muster enough nerve to use a small stick to flip it over and take its pic. After I take the topside pic, natch.
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