Lions, tigers, and bears…

Okay, maybe not.

But I did run into a spotted leopard, a funny looking bear, and a cheeky koi while on vacation recently.

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Things I learned this week…and last

“Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy.”

– Albert Einstein

This week I learned…

…that sometimes I do stupid things.  I know, hard to believe, but true nonetheless.  This week, I beamed myself in the head with my own car door.  I blame the rain – and my vain desire to protect my freshly straightened hair from falling victim to the frizz factor.  What’s the lesson to be learned here?  Making a mad dash from the house to the car through a steady drizzle with my head down doesn’t help me avoid getting wet, it just means I will inaccurately judge the angle of the opening door.  Ouch.

that you will never catch me driving along a rural Norwegian road at midnight.  It seems in doing so, one runs the risk of literally running into a moose – and a bear.  Crazy, I know. However, one unlucky motorist in Norway did just that.  I haven’t written a Man vs.. Beast blog in several months, but I can’t help to think that this incident lends credence to my long standing assertion that the animals are conspiring to take over the world.  Obviously, the moose and the bear were intent on a carjacking.  The question is:  Why?  Perhaps an errand for the Great Whites lurking just off the New England coast?  It bears consideration.  (See what I did there?)

…that the Dead Sea Scroll exhibit at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is fabulous.  As one who is enthralled with history, especially biblical history, this exhibit gives incredible insight.  It was definitely worth schlepping an hour or so west, through rush hour traffic, white-knuckle construction zones, and torrential rain.   As I said in a previous blog, my family was wholly uninterested in tagging along.  That’s alright, I bear them no ill will.   I recognized the glazed over look they got in their eyes whenever I mentioned going.   It’s the same look I get when my husband mentions that Dream Theater is in town.   I shudder at the very thought…

…that my daughter is turning into a cynic.  This week, while we were camped out on the living room floor watching the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, a commercial for a popular adjustable mattress aired.  It boasted that 93% of users saw improved sleep.  Out of the blue, my daughter says:  “Sucks for that other 7%.”  Indeed, it does.

…that the war on women continues.  I don’t like to infuse politics into my blog.  I firmly believe political ideology is something that should never be thrust upon the unwilling.  I think doing so polarizes the nation, and breeds hostility and hate.  I believe the same can be said for religion.  I usually make a point to avoid the discussion of both.  Having said that, I’d like to take this opportunity to address something that I find troubling:  The far right’s preoccupation with the mysterious inner workings of the female reproductive system.  I’m not really sure where they received their general knowledge of anatomy, but I’d like to reassure the male establishment that my girly parts (and those of every other woman in America) do not have mystical superpowers bent on world domination.  While I agree, that might be kinda cool, and would perhaps lessen the sting of the dreaded “monthly inconvenience”, it is, in fact, not possible for a vagina to take down nations.

I think it’s time to focus on a more imminent threat to the country’s well being – a broken economy.

On a similar note:  If you’d like to have a good laugh,and have an appreciation for the ridiculous, check out the Borowitz Report over at The New Yorker.  Maybe not for everyone, but I sure do get a good giggle out of it every now and then.

…that classes begin again next week.  As always, I’m filled with a host of emotions: excitement, trepidation, annoyance.  I am taking a freshman level science course this semester.  I’m not thrilled.  Science is one of those things that I could do without.  I understand the relevance, even appreciate its need in molding our young people into individuals who can competitively carry our country into the future.  I get that.  I just don’t want to sit through a three hour lab with said young people.  Does that make me old?

…that a See’s Candies has opened up inside my local mall.  This is bad.  Very, very bad.  But it’s so very, very good.

…that I’ve been nominated for the “Addictive Blogger Award” by Katy Brandes.  I always get a big kick out of these awards.  It’s the narcissist in me, I’m sure, but it’s always nice to receive a bit of acknowledgement from one’s peers.  Thank you, Katy.   It is greatly appreciated and puts a big smile on my face.  And, I’ll admit, found me standing in front of my bathroom mirror channeling Sally Field:  “You like me!  You really, really like me!”

Just kidding.  About the Sally Field part – not about the the appreciation part.  I do sincerely love that you may be addicted to my blog.

As always, these things must be paid forward.  The list of blogs I find addictive is endless, but in the interest of brevity, here are the first five that come to mind:

Cosy Travels of a Viking and his Kitten – a chronicle of European travel highlighted by some truly beautiful photographs.

The Writer’s Advice – lots of writing advice with a sarcastic edge I enjoy.

Word Flows –  lots of writing inspiration.  One of my favs.

Mike Osborn Photo – some great photographs from across the pond.

The Sugarlump – love those cats!

…and last, but not least, this week’s awww moment.  I was going to bring you a fabulous photograph of the Monarch butterfly I saw this week at a local nature preserve.  Unfortunately, I never got a clear shot because my lovely daughter photo-bombed me.  So, in retaliation, this week’s awww moment is brought to you by my mischievous daughter.  Enjoy.

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Chihuly and more

It was a hot and steamy weekend…

…okay.  Just kidding. 

I schlepped down into the city for the second weekend in a row.  If you read last Sunday’s entry, you know that this is a rarity for me.  I blame my friend, Bill.  He went to the Dallas Arboretum a few days ago and posted some great pictures to his blog.  I love the arboretum, and I am fascinated by the Chihuly exhibit that is currently on display though out the gardens.  So, I decided to braved the 100+ degree temperatures on Saturday.  I spent about three hours baking in the sun and taking lots of pictures.  Here are a few of my favorites:

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a red dragonfly before.IMG_6621

 

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I don’t know the species, but this guy was very vocal and not at all happy to have me wondering around beneath his tree.IMG_6725

Chihuly.  I love this exhibit and this piece, in particular.  I’ve tried three times to photograph it.  Unsuccessfully.  This time was different.  I experimented a lot more with my manual settings.  I think it also helped that it was a virtual ghost town and I was able to take my time.  IMG_6878

I almost didn’t share this one.  I wanted to keep it all for myself.  But then, it was my favorite of the day, so how could I not share?.IMG_6881

 

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This squirrel was on to something.IMG_7050

Man vs. Beast IX

Egads!  I thought they were supposed to be asleep by now!

Run!  No wait!  Don’t run.

Play dead!

Now!

Man vs. Beast VIII

I’ll be completely honest, I was going to pass on a Man vs. Beast blog this week.  That is until the spider monkey escaped its enclosure at the Dallas Zoo (my local zoo).  It’s the second escape in as many weeks. Talk about instant inspiration!

So…let’s get to it, shall we?

Remember the rash of bee attacks a couple of months ago?  Well, they have struck again.  This time in the Sunshine State.  A man renovating his house was found dead by his family in an upstairs bedroom, surrounded by swarming bees.  60,000 swarming bees, to be exact.  It appears the man was in the process of trying to rid the bedroom of the bees himself using store-bought bug bombs.  Experts do not believe the bees contributed in any way to the man’s death.  They believe he died after falling off a chair that was found near his body.  How is it that experts are always so stupid? This man was clearly pushed.  By the bees.  Duh.  [Click here for more].

A couple of weeks ago, at the Dallas Zoo, a female chimpanzee escaped her enclosure and had to be tranquilized.  Yesterday it happened again, only this time it was a spider monkey who escaped its habitat. Neither animal made it very far, and it did not appear that they had any specific destination in mind – just out for a stroll.  Or were they?  This zoo is not new to animal jailbreaks.  Last year, a female gorilla made it out of her enclosure and in 2004, a male gorilla actually scaled the outer wall of the outdoor exhibit, getting a brief whiff of sweet freedom before being unceremoniously shot dead by police.  Human error at play here?  You bet.  But these are primates we are talking about here.  It is obvious to me that for the past several years, the apes of the Dallas Zoo have been formulating a plan of action – their great escape.  [Click here for more].

In Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, an elk hunter survived a grizzly bear attack by dropping to the ground, covering his head, and playing dead.  Glad to see there is at least one hunter out there who reads my blog.  Right?  [Click here to read more].

Turtles are slow, non-threatening, and unassuming.  But that doesn’t mean they aren’t in on this whole animal revolt.  In Jack County, Texas, near the town of – wait for it – Antelope, a young woman rolled her vehicle when she swerved to dodge a turtle crossing the road.  I wonder how many drunk turtles were hiding in the bushes, laughing their asses off at the calamity their buddy caused.

It’s official.  The ninja shark assassins have laid siege to the west coast.  Of course, they have not been as successful as their Australian brethren.  Or perhaps they just mean to intimidate us with their menacing presence.  In Leucadia, California, at Beacon’s Beach a surfer reported that a ten foot long Great White shark circled him before disappearing into the surf.  The surfer credits his close proximity to the shore with saving him from what could have been a fatal attack.  I doubt that had anything to do with it.  If that shark meant to kill him, he would be dead – or missing a limb. [Click here to read more].

At a surfing competition at San Francisco’s Ocean Beach, a competitor was scared out of the water after he spotted a shark barreling down on him.  He described it as measuring at least fifteen feet in length and most definitely not a dolphin.  Unlike in other recent attacks and sightings, officials did not close the beach and the competition went on as scheduled.  Obviously, these surfers have not been properly intimidated.  Metaphorically flipping the bird at a Great White shark while dressed up like their favorite food – well, that just plain stupidity.  [Click here to read more].

So, I took a step out of my comfort zone and went whale watching in Mexico this year.  It scared the crap out of me, but not for the reason you would think.  My mind was preoccupied with the horrors of drowning in the very deep, very cold Pacific ocean.  Not once did I think about what could happen if one of those whales our guide was so vehemently pursuing actually breached in close proximity to the raft I was riding in.  After seeing the video linked below, I think it is safe to say that I will never, ever, ever, ever, go whale watching again.  Ever.

Man vs. Beast VII

Are you ready to find out how far the animals have progressed in their endeavor to take over the world?

I am.

Here we go…

A Texas man, diving off the southwest coast of Australia died over the weekend in an apparent shark attack.  Officials are taking this latest attack, the third in just two months, very serious.  They have organized an aggressive hunt for the shark with orders that it be destroyed on sight.   Rumors are flying.  Locals believe that they are dealing with a “rogue” shark who has developed a taste for human flesh.  Um…duh.  Of course, experts scoff at this idea and warn that killing the shark goes against conservation efforts to protect the endangered species.  As usual, the experts don’t know shit.   To me, it looks like the animals have deployed the big guns Down Under.  They have called in the ninja shark assassins.  No one is safe now.  My advice – stay the hell out of the water!  [Click for story]

Near Vancouver Island, a man mistakenly shot his friend when he mistook him for a bear.  The two men were camping near the Nitinat River.  During the night, one man was awoken by what he thought were the sounds of a bear trying to break into the tent.  Instead of trying to first identify the source of the ruckus, he pulled out his gun and began firing randomly, in the direction of the sounds.  He hit his camping buddy, who was still asleep, in the face and arms.  The man will recover, however, there is a valuable lesson to be learned here  – tents are for stupid people; be smart, spring for the hotel room.  [Click for story]

A Minnesota man was enjoying some peace and quiet on the porch of his cabin last month, when he felt what he thought was a mosquito brush the back of his neck.  Imagine his surprise when he reached back to swat it, only to come in contact with a wet, furry nose.  He  turned around and found himself face to face with a bear.  Having obviously read the manual on how to survive a bear attack, the man did not move a muscle.  He sat motionless as he bear stared at him for several seconds before becoming interested in a nearby bird feeder.  Still, the man didn’t dare move from his spot.  It was a good thing, too.  A few minutes later the bear returned to the porch and proceeded to thoroughly sniff his face.  Eventually, the bear lost interest and wondered off for good.   I think this animal might be one of the few that has not turned against the humans, though, I’m sure that is of little consequence to this man who likely had to change to soiled undies immediately following this encounter.  [Click here]

Last week in Newport, Oregon, a surfer was lucky enough to survive what could have been a deadly attack by a Great White.  In classic Great White style, the animal attacked from below, lifting the surfer up into the air.  Fortunately, the only thing the shark got its teeth into was the man’s board.  Beaches were closed as officials kept an eye out for the shark.  It seems that Australia’s ninja shark assassins are infiltrating our western coast, as well.  Though, this one does not seem as skilled as it’s Aussie friends.  The victim, who was understandably shaken by the incident, says he is done with surfing.  Finally, a surfer with common sense.  [Click here]

Just in case you were not aware of what a classic Great White attack involves:

And lastly, we have the Utah hiker who came across two moose – a male and a female – and decided the only logical thing to was approach them and capture them on film.  Thanks to the magic of YouTube, I can bring this man’s stupidity to you.  It’s okay to laugh out loud.  I did.

Man vs. Beast Part II

Well, it’s Wednesday.  I wasn’t very optimistic about getting enough material to post a second “Man vs. Beast” blog entry.  I was wrong.  Granted there have not been that many attacks since last week, and I was forced to broaden my search, but I do think I found some interesting ones.  Ones that give credence to the notion that the animals of the world are coming together, in some sort of organized uprising.  Their motives are still unclear to me, for I know not what they hope to accomplish. 

I guess time will tell.

Here’s what I found: 

In Tulla, County Clare, Ireland, a farmer was attacked by an otter.  Yes, you heard me right.  An otter.  You know, those furry little river rat looking things we see at the zoo.  In a small Irish village, a farmer filling his vehicle with diesel spotted the creature struggling to remove a “crisp bag” from its head.  Being the good Samaritan that his mother raised him to be, he came to the animal’s rescue only to be bitten for his trouble.  In addition, the ungrateful otter took his bad attitude out on the poor man’s truck.  And if that weren’t enough, once the farmer was able to release the “fanged fish-gobbler” onto the shores of a nearby river, it had to be rescued, yet again, because it nearly drown from exhaustion.  I was unable repost all of the photographs as they are copyright protected, so please take a minute, and click [here] to view the calamity for yourself.  It is well worth it.  I got quite the laugh out of it.  On an a side note, “fanged fish-gobbler” is now my new favorite animal description.

In Lincoln County, Wisconsin, a man out hunting with his buddies shot and wounded a bear.  The bear then attacked the man, injuring him.  Of course, the bear lost in the end when he was hunted down and killed by the man’s buddies, in what can only be described as a revenge killing.   Again, I’m no bear advocate, but I think this is a clear-cut case of what’s good for the goose…

A kite-surfer (yeah, I don’t know the heck this is) in Papua, New Guinea was attacked by a tiger shark on Sunday.  While wave-running (again…no idea), the man was bitten and knocked off his board by the shark.  This was a strategic attack on the part of the shark, for the man states that it catapulted out of the water and aimed right for his leg.  When I read this story, I couldn’t help but think of that video they play over and over again on America’s Funniest Home Videos – the one where the toddler is just walking along, minding  his own business, and along comes a frisky kitty who launches himself at the boy, knocking him to the ground (looked – could not find it for the life of me).  I wonder in this case, if the shark had ill intentions or if this was simply a case of “I have an uncontrollable urge…”.  You can read more about this story [here].

I may not be a bear advocate, but I am a big cat lover.  Of course, I’m not going to go around camping where they make their home.  That would be stupid, but I do enjoy looking at them and have a healthy respect for their prowess.  Sadly, in a case of guilt by association, on Vancouver Island, two cougars were killed when they were spotted near popular campgrounds.  These killings were in response to an attack on an 18 month old boy by a different cougar at a different campground.  This one sorta pisses me off and I have nothing real snarky to say about it.  If you would like to read more about this one, you can do so [here].

At the El Paso Zoo, a Malaysian tiger on loan from the San Diego Zoo, killed her mate over the weekend in an apparent love triangle gone bad.   To quote Chicago’s Velma Kelly and the other ladies of murderess’ row, “he had it coming”.  The male showered an older female with attention.  This, in any relationship – man or beast, is not to be borne.  She did what any self-respecting female would have done in her position.  She took him by the neck and squeezed until he was dead. 

“Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, No hell a fury like a woman scorned.”  William Congreve, The Mourning Bride

 

Photograph by Michael Nichols