Posted by: Mark | July 7, 2015

Which of My Pets Can Breathe through Its Butt?


Actually, red-eared sliders don’t seem to have this ability but its close relatives can.

I don’t know how I got through life so long without knowing that.

Posted by: Mark | July 6, 2015

Japanese Beetle

2015-07-06 13.51.14

This doesn’t look exactly like how I picture Japanese beetles but that’s the closest insect guides will get me. I’m much better at determining species of mammals but not many of them have presented an opportunity.

Posted by: Mark | July 5, 2015

Dark Fishing Spider

2015-07-05 17.00.29

I have a terrible time identifying spiders unless they have a red hourglass shape on their bellies.

I think this is a dark fishing spider but I can’t be sure. He (it looks more like the male than female example in the guides) has been living on our garage door for a while. He’s probably going to get eaten by a lizard or female spider after a while but here’s to him eating as many bugs as he can.

Posted by: Mark | July 3, 2015

The Outrageous Okana

Saturday Night Live once had a great skit about a 13-year-old co-writing the Game of Thrones. Zombies, dragons, and boobs are the holy trinity of teenage boys (and frankly they’re not bad now). Star Trek’s “The Outrageous Okana” is a swing at a 13-year-old’s fantasy but is a clear miss.

Okana is what you get when a Star Trek writer tries to rip off Han Solo. Part Poochie, part Mary Sue, Okana comes off like a middle-aged used car salesman trying to rap. And yet he’s not the worst character in the episode.

Okana is so darn outrageous that he makes Data want to try to be funny. Data, not understanding humor, conjures up Joe Piscopo to learn stand up comedy. (I paid money for one of Piscopo’s albums and probably have a better impression of him than 99% of the population but even I couldn’t stand his character on this episode. ) In one of the lowest points of SF history, Piscopo did a Jerry Lewis imitation that looks and sounded like this

Brent Spiner rises above this material which saves the episode from “Spock’s Brain” level but there’s not much else positive to say.

Posted by: Mark | July 2, 2015

Resolution Update XXVII

More slow going through summer:

1. Blogging. Goal:  300 posts for the year. What I did: For halfway through the year, I should have 151, but this takes me to 200 posts.

2. Writing. Goal:  100,000 words for the year. What I have: Not much this week–54,659 words, needing 50,136.98.

3. Running. Goal: 2,200 miles for the year.  What I have: I needed 1,103.01 miles and have 1,039. I started the year thinking this was going to happen.

4. Publishing. Goal : 105 manuscripts sent out: One in the past week, bringing it to 67 for the year, needing 52.64.

5. Video. Goal : five video projects.  What I did: The latest robot video puts me at five, but I was hoping for bigger projects.

6. Weight. Goal : lose 35 pounds. What I have: I didn’t check again. Probably not good.

7. Art. Goal: Photograph 100 species. What I did : 59:

Mammal (7)  Gerbil, Robo hamster, Campbell’s hamster, Syrian hamster, Rabbit, Gray Squirrel

Bird (23): Budgerigar parakeet, Rock doves (pigeons), Northern cardinal, House sparrow, Mallard duck, Canada goose, House finch, American robin, Red-tailed hawk, Common crow, European starling, Tufted Titmouse, Ring-billed gull, Swan Goose, American tree sparrow, Herring gull, Downy woodpecker,  Red-bellied woodpecker, Northern mockingbird, Mourning dove, Red-winged blackbird, Killdeer, Great blue heron

Reptile (3): Red-eared slider, Leopard gecko, European wall lizard

Amphibian (2): Dwarf aquatic frog, Fire-Bellied Toad

Insect (17): Madagascar Hissing Cockroach, Stink bug, Wax worm, Mealworms, Cricket, Hister or Oil beetle, White grub, Termite, Formica ant, Bumblebee, Varied carpet beetle, Field cricket, Common red soldier beetle, Leaf hopper

Arachnid: Common house spider

Crustacean: Pillbug

Myriapod (3): Millipedes, Garden centipede, House centipede

Annelid (2): Canadian nightcrawler, Red worms

Planaria (1): Planaria

8. Kids. Goal : 300 events.  What I did: 108 events–the Campbell County Library, Game Day,Library Lock In, swimming, the Anderson Library, Mt. Washington Library, and Karate class.

9. Exercise. Goal : 8,000 leg lifts and 5,000 push ups.  What I did: Needed 4,010.96 leg lifts and 2,506.85 push ups and have–

Leg lifts: 3,816 (194.96 down)

Push ups 2,431 (75.85 down)

10. Nothing for weekly resolutions. The year looks shot.

Posted by: Mark | July 1, 2015

Scooby Doo Robot

Here’s my latest program, using loop functions and voice recognition: out of two possible endings, the Scooby Doo.

Posted by: Mark | June 30, 2015

In The Flesh

Back in the 70s,  Douglas Adams assumed that the BBC would cancel Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy after one season so he wrote the final episode to end the story. Then the BBC approved a second season.

Adams ended the final episode of the second season with a cliffhanger, assuming the BBC would renew it. They didn’t.

In the Flesh reminds me of that.

The first season brings a twist to the zombie apocalypse. Scientists effectively cure zombies and attempt to integrate them back to society. Human survivors aren’t especially eager to accept them back.

The first season ends so conclusively that, while I was happy for the second season, the storyline would have been complete without it.

In many aspects the second season was even better than the first but it added elements similar to Josh Whelan’s Firefly, and like Firefly those elements were left unexplained when the series ended. I’d love to see the show picked up on another network but that doesn’t look like it will happen.

Everyone rips on Fox for cancelling shows to early but considering the BBC did the same thing to The Fades , the BBC deserves some flack too.

Posted by: Mark | June 29, 2015

False Equivalence

I wasted hours on Facebook arguing with an idiot who claims that the Supreme Court legalized pedophilia. The idea of 18 being the age of consent wasn’t just lost to him, it was imperceptible.

You have to wonder would he let a six-year-old waiter deliver a hot bowl of soup to him at a restaurant. Would he let a first grader decorate his home?

I realize these arguments are nonexistent across the board but it’s sad he resorted to this.

Posted by: Mark | June 27, 2015

Dreamy Dusky Wing Skipper

2015-06-27 20.03.57

Egad! Another bug post!

It was cold and rainy today which made for poor pictures but as best I can tell, this is a dreamy dusky wing skipper.

If he would have extended his wings, I would have a safer guess but judging by size, color, and antennae, I’m calling it a dreamy dusky.

Entomologists, please correct me if you see fit.

Posted by: Mark | June 26, 2015

Silent Night

A month ago, a night like this would have been a miracle. After visiting Chicago, it’s down graded to merely spectacular.

The kids are spending the night at a library lock in and the house is quiet. I have to get them tomorrow morning at seven but for the first time (excluding Chicago) the television isn’t blaring Scooby Doo or whatnot.

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