Another clueless, airhead model

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Fifty Years Old

At what point does the feeling of mortality begin? Looking at your body in the mirror; seeing the sags, wrinkles and graying hair? Waking up to perpetually stiff muscles? Fifty years old, one-half century, five decades. The barber shop I entered on my 50th birthday was not my first choice. The shop formerly called Docs' was closed. It reopened as "Icy Cutz" recently. I feel stupid going in there because of the name so maybe there is no reason to return. This barber shop will have to do as the last vestige of a traditional barbershop and the last one without a hipster name in Angleton. The wall which faces the customer pays homage to the military; young men who left this town to fight in a war fabricated and propped up for years, fed by corporations and a fear mongered population. Sitting on the barber chair I notice a partial interpretation of the second amendment to bill of rights. Quick and to the point, the right to bear arms is a favorite tool of fear for the National Rifle Association and Republican Party. The former to maintain and grow membership, the latter to make the electorate feel the GOP is only defense against the fascist Obama administration. So what? I come here for a haircut and for the time being am tolerant of Rush Limbaugh on the radio because I get a damn good haircut.

What bothers me is his staring; the old man with the feed store cap coming in for what I assume is highlight of his day. At age 50 I'm starting to compare myself to men that are older than me, wondering how the progression of only 10 to 20 more years will have on my mental and physical capacity. He sits there, occasionally engaging in pedestrian conversation but mostly acknowledging what my barber is saying to him.

At this point in life it's not so much the midlife crisis as it is the endgame. I've been fortunate to escape the midlife crisis, being satisfied with my adventurous life. Would have loved to work for the CIA but I screwed up my personal life too early for that. Should I pass judgment on this man without first finding out the life he led? Am I scared to ask because I may be looking at myself in 30 years? Is there anything left to him beyond getting up and hoping his children call him today? His face is so vacant, voided of any extracurricular thought. At what point did he give up?

You can't live in this society and not be immune to the capitalistic forces that want to profit off your age. Hospitals want to scope your colon, Luby's will give you a senior discount, you need One A Day vitamins in your golden years and the makers of Viagra want to give you a four hour erection. I've yet to be told I'm not a kid anymore but that day will come. The forces are numerous that want to take your identity and bring you back into the Matrix and you have to fight it from day one. This is becoming a society of mental pygmies, wasting away without any legacy to improve the destiny of mankind. I need to either escape or become part of the solution. It's 1:35 in the morning. I'm too tired to think anymore. Goodnight

Sunday, November 07, 2010

The War Weasel

I'm ferret siting for Chelsea and Nick while they are vacationing in England. Never had a ferret before but after a day I settled into living with one. The rest of the family doesn't know what to think of BASIL. Motorhead is scared of him, Spock would love to kill him, Othello is undecided and Kahn lets him sniff him. Kahn is the only one I trust with Basil. His full name is Basil Hewett but I call him Basil Rathbone after the British actor that played Sherlock Holmes. Basil (Mustela putorius furo) is a member of the weasel family and possibly a domesticated descendant of European ferrets. He is a true carnivore but only eats ferret pellet food. He has to stay in my room due to the dangers of escaping outside or getting near Spock. Nevertheless he has many opportunities (closets, nooks/crannies and boxes) in there to keep him busy. Otherwise he sleeps for 18 hours a day. In the video you'll see the War Weasel Dance behavior as he fights with my hand. This is displayed as a side to side motion and freaked out jittering.

Saturday, October 09, 2010



Plot (From Netflix)

When the bodies of several dead swimmers and divers begin washing ashore, a seaside town is thrown into a panic. A giant octopus is responsible, and Dr. Ned Turner (John Huston) thinks that its appearance may be related to the construction of an undersea tunnel. And even though an upcoming sailing competition may endanger the lives of countless people, local authorities are hesitant to keep anyone out of the water.


I'm glad I got this one over with first. It was wretched and I felt pity for the once great actors who starred in it – Shelly Winters, John Huston and Henry Fonda. The dialog between Winters and Huston and Fonda was actually quit good but you will notice a precipitous drop in acting ability for the rest of the cast. The monster? Well, you need a lot of imagination to overcome the few seconds it is shown as either stock footage of a real octopus or a piece of tentacle. When the octopus was present you had to assume it killed the victim when he or she disappears beneath the water. The protagonist was Will Gleason (Bo Hopkins) who owns or maybe works for a sea world type venue that includes two killer whales. I'm not sure but the movies degrades further when Will ask his whales to hunt down the octopus. I know whales are smart but this is a stretch. At the movies' climax Will is trapped underwater as the octopus closes in but is saved by the killer whales. This scene looks like someone used rubber whales to poke at a real octopus. A dismembered tentacle tells you the octopus was killed. Since the octopus looks as big as the rubber whales you must assume it was gigantic.

Rating: Don't bother watching unless you like Farah Fawcett hairstyles and late 70's action music.


Plot (From Netflix)

After research scientist Dr. Sands (Eric Roberts) and his daughter, Nicole (Sara Malakul Lane), develop an electrical-implant-controlled hybrid shark/octopus for use by the government as a classified naval weapon, the creature breaks down and goes on a homicidal spree. As the animal chomps its way through the resort beaches of Mexico, Dr. Sands tries to convince a retired colleague to help him and Nicole stop the carnage.


I saw this in Colorado with my friends Rob and Sue and annoyed her by critiquing the eating habits of the monster. A thin, tired plot and overused computer graphics. This movie gets points for showing the monster frequently and in its entirety as it gobbled down most of the cast plus extras. You have to admire the cheesiness of blood splatter on the camera lens. The final scenes leading to the demise of the monster was tedious as you wondered why Sharktopus didn't immediately eat the hero like everyone else. Dr. Sands is portrayed as a scientist that doesn't care how many people are killed by the monster so long as he has a chance to capture it. Thus you know he's a goner. Also, you'd think that after spending millions combining a shark and octopus that Dr. Sands shouldn't have skimped on securing the gadget that controlled the behavior of the monster. It was knocked off by a propeller from its position on top of the head. Why wasn't it implanted near the brain with only an antenna sticking out of the skull?

Rating: Barely worth seeing once and that is why I'm not giving away the ending.


Plot (From Wikipedia)

A space probe, dubbed Helios 7, is sent to study Jupiter. En Route to the planet, the probe is invaded by Yog, an extraterrestrial being of pure energy. The probe lands in the South Pacific, where the disembodied alien leaves the device and invades the body of a Gezora, a giant cuttlefish, which proceeds to wreak havoc. When a photographer named Kudo and a small entourage landed on Selga Island, they are likewise menaced by Gezora.


This movie is not distributed by Netflix although the director, IshirĊ Honda', has many available movies starring Godzilla and a host of other monsters. It is for sale on Amazon and I expect to receive it in a week. Nevertheless I have fond memories when I last saw it in 1970 and will go on what I remember as a 10 year old. I include it because the giant cuttlefish (close enough to an octopus) is the dominant monster. Yog also inhabits a giant crab and giant turtle. Giant animals are always around in the ocean in Honda's movies. Some say this movie was evidence that Mr. Honda had lost his creativity; that his great monster movie days were behind him. I say rubbish. It was ingenious to come up with bat sonar as the disrupter of Yogs' control over the animals. Classic Godzilla-like destruction and the sound track compliment and heighten the edge-of-your-seat action. Selga Island must be in the same region of Monster Island where Godzilla, Rodan, and Mothra live.

Rating: A must see movie. One wonders why the quality of monster movies dipped in the late 70's (Tentacles). Then again all cultural media seemed to bomb after Disco became popular.  Originally titled "Space Amoeba".


Plot (From Netflix)

After a series of mysterious disasters occurs in the Pacific, from the disappearance of a plane to the destruction of an oil rig, a group of scientists discovers that a secret military mission has unearthed a prehistoric shark and a giant octopus. When the government learns of the existence of the menacing beasts, the team of scientists is tasked with formulating a plan to destroy the phenomenal creatures. Lorenzo Lamas and Deborah Gibson star.


I awaited the viewing of this movie with much anticipation. I don't' know if it was ever shown in a movie theater but it was a Youtube sensation. There is only three ways to get a giant shark or octopus or a combination – manmade experiment (radiation or laboratory), alien body invasion or creation of nature. The latter was used for this movie and ripped off from a Godzilla movie or two because he to was frozen in ice. You cannot take this movie serious. There are so many gaps and horrible acting that it is a must-see event for a crowd of intoxicated people. Deborah Gibson (formerly Debbie Gibson of 70's pop fame and still looks great!) is the heroine. She is exploring in a mini sub in what I assume is the Arctic Ocean even though the stock video shows manta rays and hammerhead sharks. As she and her portly navigator (gone after the first 20 minutes of the movie) follow a pod of humpback whales when an illegal Low Frequency Action Sonar Device (her words) is dropped by a helicopter that must be working for the United States Military. Maybe. This device screws up the sonar calls of the whales and somehow emits the right ice-cracking frequency to unlock the giant shark and octopus from their iceberg prison. That's where they somehow froze together while in mortal combat with each other 80 millions years ago. The shark was determined to be a prehistoric megalodon. In reality it is at most 50 ft long. For this movie it is the size of a submarine, can withstand artillery shells and jump 2000 feet in the air to snatch an airliner. Awesome! Too much to talk about. There's also a 30 second love scene between Gibson and her lab geek coworker. After they are finished they figure out how to lure in the shark and octopus. The Geeks shall inherit the Earth! The silliness peaks in the last 20 minutes. Lorenzo Lamos also stars as a CIA(?) Operative that needs to keep the monster's presence a secret.


Umm... Someone needs a girlfriend.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

A nation of sick, fat children because....

Of the thirty-eight ingredients it takes to make a McNugget, thirteen that can be derived from corn: the corn-fed chicken itself; modified cornstarch (to bind the pulverized chicken meat); mono-, tri-, and diglycerides (emulsifiers, which keep the fats and water from separating); dextrose; lecithin (another emulsifier); chicken broth (to restore some of the flavor that processing leeches out); yellow corn flour and more modified cornstarch (for the batter); cornstarch (a filler); vegetable shortening; partially hydrogenated corn oil; and citric acid as a preservative. A couple of other plants take part in the nugget: There's some wheat in the batter, and on any given day the hydrogenated oil could come from soybeans, canola, or cotton rather than corn, depending on the market price and availability.
Chicken McNuggets also contain several completely synthetic ingredients, quasiedible substances that ultimately come not from a corn or soybean field but form a petroleum refinery or chemical plant. These chemicals are what make modern processed food possible, by keeping the organic materials in them from going bad or looking strange after months in the freezer or on the road. Listed first are the "leavening agents": sodium aluminum phosphate, mono-calcium phosphate, sodium acid pyrophosphate, and calcium lactate. These are antioxidants added to keep the various animal and vegetable fats involved in a nugget from turning rancid. Then there are "anti-foaming agents" like dimethylpolysiloxene, added to the cooking oil to keep the starches from binding to air molecules, so as to produce foam during the fry. The problem is evidently grave enough to warrant adding a toxic chemical to the food: According to the Handbook of Food Additives, dimethylpolysiloxene is a suspected carcinogen and an established mutagen, tumorigen, and reproductive effector; it's also flammable. But perhaps the most alarming ingredient in a Chicken McNugget is tertiary butylhydroquinone, or TBHQ, an antioxidant derived from petroleum that is either sprayed directly on the nugget or the inside of the box it comes in to "help preserve freshness." According to A Consumer's Dictionary of Food Additives, TBHQ is a form of butane (i.e. lighter fluid) the FDA allows processors to use sparingly in our food: It can comprise no more than 0.02 percent of the oil in a nugget. Which is probably just as well, considering that ingesting a single gram of TBHQ can cause "nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, delirium, a sense of suffocation, and collapse." Ingesting five grams of TBHQ can kill.”

- "The Omnivores Dilemma" by Michael Pollan"

A 10 piece order of McNuggets = 420 calories and 24 grams of fat

Friday, October 01, 2010

Burn Here, Burn Now

Nearly a year has passed and Connor finally had the opportunity to participate in a prescribe burn at the San Bernard NWR. It was a good initiation for him as most of the burning was preformed from the back of a marsh buggy. He and I manned the buggy's water pumps and used a drip torch to ignite the prairie to lay down a burn line that would stop the approaching head fire. Fairly routine for me but it "ignited" the fire passion in Connor. He wants to do this again and if possible be involved in the world of Wildland Firefighting. This is a good start.

Colorado High

45 hours driving within 6 days brought me to Colorado and back. When my Toyota 4-runner at 206,000 miles decides to die on me is undetermined but for these 6 days it preformed the job asked of it. Rob and I go back 31 years to when we met at the Jester Dormitory on the Univ. of Texas-Austin campus as freshmen. He was studying engineering and I attempting a degree in cluelessness. After miserably failing out of UT I maintained contact with Rob and his soon-to-be wife Sue. Both he and she were working for the war profiteering Lockheed Corp. in Austin. When they tired of working on Tomahawk missiles they changed directions in their lives to concentrate on physical fitness and therapy. Degrees in this field took them to Montana, Washington and Oregon. A bold move to Grand Junction, CO resulted in anxious moments of dwindling funds until the Gods of recreation took pity and gave them each a job as Physical fitness instructors at Mesa State University.

Cut to the present. I stayed two days in Grand Junction with Rob as my guide into the mountain range outside the city. Our first hike was downhill and through a canyon for 8 miles. Phenomenal trail therapy allowed me to vent my anger at Dungpileton and the cultural isolation I've endured over the last 11 years. Walking the trails I railed against the lack of intelligent rapport, the wasting of mind and body by the local denizens and their insipid, indolent mentality. I likened my life to that of Robert Neville in the novel "I Am Legend". Robert must endure the onslaught of "vampires" nightly by shoring up the defenses of his house during the day. The vampires are actually creatures induced by a pandemic virus to desire the nourishment of blood. A former co-worker, Ben Cortman, repeatedly calls out for Robert to join him  – "Come out Robert". For years I've shored up my mental house against these vampires I call the zombies of Dungpileton. A mind shored up against the cultural morass, the wastrels that live only to exist on this island of hopelessness. Like Robert I contemplate joining them to end it all, to give in and join the living brain dead. To come home - medicate my body and mind with a myriad of fats and chemicals and listen lemming-like to opinionated faux news media outlets. So easy to just give up and join them I think to myself, so easy to live in utter denial and ignorance. Chelsea offered a brief respite but she was able to escape while I was resigned to maintain my job in the hopes of leaving this cultural wasteland someday. "Come out Thomas" is what I hear every day and my tope consumption of alcohol offers only a momentary escape.

And so the trail helped me vent for a time until I reenter the land of Zombies. We walked for 8 pleasant miles, mostly downhill. The air was crisp and temps hovering around 70 degrees. Very few hikers were on the trail this day as we bonded with Mother Earth. On a detour that added one more mile we came up a canyon that prompted Rob to explain about the geological formations; the layers of sediment and their age.  I quipped that it made sense or a creationists might say God took his finger and swiped out a giant indention in the earth to make this canyon.  I like Rob's answer.  To quote him: “I would rather be a magnificent speck than a grandiose inheritor.   The next day was a little more arduous. This sea level flatlander followed Rob up a steep 2 mile accent up Mt. Garfield. I was up for the challenge although my lungs and legs begged to differ. Nevertheless I was victorious. As you hikers know the decent is sometimes more brutal on the body and my legs paid the price for my endeavor for the next few days.

Back in Zombieland. Pictures when I can find that damn SD card.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Goodbye Doobie


I found Doobie in a box with his dead/dying siblings by the Brazoria NWR. They were probably dumped the night before. Of the group only Doobie and one sibling survived however that kitten was too weak and died later at the Vet. I took Doobie home, ~ 3 days old, where mama Chelsea fed him by bottle for a couple of weeks until he was ready to eat regular cat chow. Within 10 days of coming home he was attempting to walk around and thereafter was on the verge of finding a way out the dog door into the back yard. Between him and the door was Spock the cat killer. With Doobie in hand we approached Spock and swatted him with Doobies' paw; telling him to never hurt him. From then on they were brothers along with Kahn and Othello. Motorhead became his brother a month later.

With Doobie growing and hunting throughout my wildscape the rat/mouse problem disappeared. Doobie was king of the back and front yards. They were his jungle and he loved every minute roaming his territory. At night he and Motorhead would vigilantly guard against rodents and the no-tail cat gang down the street. Doobie loved to be held and had a habit of licking the shirt of the person who carried him – digging in his claws as if he was a kitten nursing. He had just enough mischievousness to be fun as we lovingly admonished him often for biting off buttons or chewing on a dress or shirt. Doobies' desired to be held was often preceded by a gurgling sound so you knew it was time to put the laptop or magazine down and accommodated him as he jumped on you for a session of body scratching. Doobie had grown from a kitten that could fit inside a shoe to a 17 pound cat. A little chubby in the gut but most of the size was genetic.

Possibly a clue to Doobies sudden sickness was a disembowel rat at the front door. A rat was a rare occurrence now and a dead one like this may have been sickened by poison elsewhere and easy for Doobie to catch and eat. Doobies' heath degenerated over the course of a month. The prognosis was acute kidney failure that resulted from ingestion of a toxin. Despite 6 days of IV treatments, medication and some functioning of his kidneys Doobie had lost over 25% of his body weight - down to 13 pounds within 3 weeks. The treatment gave us some hope he would recover but after coming home he started to waste away again. He was able to drink on his own but never ate and feeding him by hand proved futile to bringing his strength back. His body had lost its capacity to metabolize and regenerated red blood cells. I looked for any signs of improvement but in the end I conceded that Chelsea was right – Doobie had to sleep the final sleep. Even weakened he still managed to claw his way onto the bed at night to sleep with me and seek comfort for what he didn't understand was happening to his body.

The Passing

Doobie spent the night with his mom the day before his passing. I picked him up in the morning at 6:30 am at her apartment. She gave him a tearful kiss goodbye and put him in his cat crate. As Doobie and I drove back to the house I toyed with the idea of caring for him another six days on my road trip but relented to reality. Before the Vet I let him have once more tour his domain and say goodbye to his brothers. In the front yard I walked around with him in my arms and spoke of the good times he had there.

"Remember this Doobie? You use to stalk the birds every morning, lying in wait in the bushes for that morning kill". More often than not unsuccessful especially after I cleared open space for the hummingbirds to see him creep up to them. "Remember how you use to ambush me from the bushes as I set out on my morning run?" "You would try to run with me until I shooed you away". "At night I would see you lounging on the logs with nothing better to do then watch the world go by". I put Doobie down and he walked a few feet before lying down in a thick growth of sedges. I carried him inside the house to say goodbye to his brothers – Spock, Kahn and Othello. Motorhead wasn't present so I called out "Doobie says goodbye Motor!" I walked by the computer desk
"How many nights did you jump on my lap as I sat at the desk?" Signaling beforehand with his gurgle-meow that he wanted to be held and scratched and clawing into me like a kitten as he licked the shirt.

I carried him to the backyard. "This was your Jungle Doobie". Remember how you would hide in the bushes for a rat or any cat from the no-tail gang to come into your domain?" I put him down and he walked to a small log to sharpen his claws. "Still a cat to the end" I thought. He walked off the log, his coat now sagging on a bony frame and too weak to lift his head as he moved into the foliage to lie down. I let him stay a moment then picked him up for the trip to the Vet. He never liked to be in cars or crates and cried the entire drive.

Dr. Dobson was ready for us because I requested her the night before. One more time I pleaded through tears if there was anything else that could save him. She knew it was over but said he would have to be on IV for months in a crate and that would not guarantee anything. This was not the life Doobie loved. I would not want to be in that condition either. She took Doobie from me to prepare him for the sleep; inserting a syringe with a tube into his arm. He was returned to me for a few minutes more. I looked around the room, seeing a picture of a cat inside a paper grocery bag with another cat that looked like Motorhead peering back at him from the outside. "Remember how you loved to climb into bags to play in or sleep Doobie?" A moment more and I asked the vet attendant to bring in Dr. Dobson. I was glad she was quick about the procedure – injecting a sleeping medication first into the tube. Doobie's body went limp in my arms as he slept. Next was the toxin that would instantly stop his heart. It was over, our baby was gone. I kissed Doobie goodbye and told him I love him. He was carried out wrapped in a towel shroud.

As I drove to Doobie's final resting place I kept one hand on his lifeless body, thanking him for the unconditional love he gave me and Chelsea. His resting place was the Hudson Woods Unit of the San Bernard NWR. Last week I planted a small tree there which I had grown in a pot. A tree I called the Friendship Oak because it was a seedling the day I first met Chelsea. Now 5 feet tall it is in the open near a small building and where school children are brought for field trips. At the tree's base was a hole I dug for Doobie. I put him in it, wrapped in his shroud, and shoveled soil over him. A large flat stone over the grave would keep hogs from scavenging it open. As I walked away I shouted to the sky "Doobie, Doobie you're the best!"


Above Doobie is a garden of tropical sages which are frequented by hummingbirds. Once mortal enemies, Doobie and the hummers are now friends for eternity. His essences will feed the Friendship Oak and they  in turn will be released into the air where one day I'll breathe them in. The oak and Doobie will be protected in perpetuity with thousands of children playing around them. 

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

From One Disaster to Another

I was in Angleton for four days after returning from Louisiana when I received a request for help with the damage assessment of an oil spill in the Kalamazoo River. A pipe belonging to Enbridge Energy Company had ruptured and discharged ~ 900,000 gallons of oil into the river and adjacent creeks. My job was to lead a botanical team to identify the flora communities before the Enbridge crews came in to remove the oiled vegetation and soil.

I was familiar with ~ 50% of the flora in the area and it took another week before becoming fairly proficient in the identification of the rest. There was little time to botanize as the crews were coming in fast so this was a rapid assessment dozens of sites along the river. In the morning we boarded either small boats or airboats and covered over 15 miles of riverine plant communities within 6 days. We were required to wear a safety helmet, steel toe rubber boots and oil resistant coveralls at least to the waste. My coveralls were made by Dupont – Tyvek material that was barely resistant to oil staining but unlike the cleaning crews with their Tychem suits (imagine a suit made of the material of a plastic canvas sheet) we didn't have to pick up oil vegetation or use vacuums to suck up pools of oil so rubber gloves were not necessary.

At each site we moved into the center of a community to quickly assess the dominant canopy, mid-story and ground cover by their percent occupation – their "cover". Species were noted as was a judgment call on the impact of the oil. Also noted was the extent of highly invasive non-native plants such as purple loose strife and canary reed grass. We finished each site with photographs and a GPS point. We would often encounter dense stands of wood nettle and when the unavoidable stinging occurred we were fortunate to have Jewelweed in abundance for its sting reliving sap. 

No poisonous snakes and no other animals except turtles, frogs and birds; all of which were captured and cleaned of oil. Too much crew and boat traffic had scared away the rest of the animals. After 9 days I was back home.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Another Deployment

The turtle is a diamondback terrapin; a threatened species of coastal marshes.  This hatchling was found on a island.  It'll probably lose its damaged right eye and those purtuberances on the shell are either a genetic defect or disease while still in the egg.  It was sent it to the animal rehab center.  

Finishing up my deployment in Louisiana. The days are routine with standard protocols for boating on the water to rescue and/or recover birds. Anything goes in this respect. We recover dead birds from the freshly dead to bones and feathers. The dead are bagged and tagged then sent to laboratories where they have the tools to determine if the birds' death was oil related. Oil from the Deep Water Horizon has a signature that can be differentiated from any other oil in the world. This is key as the federal government can fine BP and extract monetary restitution. There are fines for what is considered a "take".

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act

This Act, originally passed in 1918, provides protection for migratory birds. Under the Act, it is unlawful to take, import, export, possess, buy, sell, purchase, or barter any migratory bird. Feathers or other parts, nests, eggs, and products made from migratory birds are also covered by the Act. Take is defined as pursuing, hunting, shooting, poisoning, wounding, killing, capturing, trapping, or collecting.

Migratory bird hunting regulations, established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, allow the taking, during designated seasons, of ducks, geese, doves, rail, woodcock, and some other species. In addition, permits may be granted for various non-commercial activities involving migratory birds and some commercial activities involving captive-bred migratory birds.

Individuals or organizations may be fined up to $5,000 and $10,000 respectively, and may face up to six months imprisonment for misdemeanor violations of the Act. Felony violations may result in fines of up to $250,000 for individuals, $500,000 for organizations, and up to two years imprisonment.

With thousands of birds brought in you can see how much BP has to cough up for damaging birds. Kill or damage a sea turtle:

The Endangered Species Act

Passed in 1973 and reauthorized in 1988, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) regulates a wide range of activities affecting plants and animals designated as endangered or threatened. By definition, "endangered species" is an animal or plant listed by regulation as being in danger of extinction. A "threatened species" is any animal or plant that is likely to become endangered within the forseeable future.

The Act prohibits the following activities involving endangered species:

Prohibitions apply to endangered species, their parts, and products. Most of these restrictions also apply to species listed as threatened unless the species qualifies for an exception. The Act also requires that wildlife be imported or exported through designated ports and that special declarations be filed. If the value of wildlife imported and/or exported is $25,000 per year or more, importers and exporters must be licensed.

Violators of the Endangered Species Act are subject to fines of up to $100,000 and one year imprisonment. Organizations found in violation may be fined up to $200,000. Fish, wildlife, plants, and vehicles and equipment used in violations may be subject to forfeiture.

It adds up. Meanwhile we boat on the open water for 8 hours/day. On occasion getting out to recon an island. Despite the apocalyptic news reports the coastal area is already recovering however, it'll take a few years to get to pre-oil conditions. That's still not an optimistic outcome. Louisiana's marshes have be disappearing for decades. The Oil corporations own the legislators. Carving up the marshes for oil extraction has destroyed thousands of square miles of coastline. Channelizing the Mississippi has prevented sedimentation from flowing into and replenishing the marshes. I have no doubt that the Republican dominated Louisiana congress will blame their irresponsible politics on the BP spill. The marshes are dying and the Gulf of Mexico is expanding into Louisiana and nothing can be done to stop it. 

These hermit crabs are battling it out for a new home.  The entrance is blocked by a smaller crab house.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Corpse has risen

The corpse flower (Amorphophallius titanium) is found on the island of Sumatra. It has bloomed only 29 times at botanical gardens in the U.S. This was #30. The flower smells of rotting flesh to attract hundreds of flies for pollination.  There wasn't much of that smell when we saw the flower and that was an indicator the flower was in decline.  The can weigh 30 pounds or more.  The flowering is a boon to the Houston Museum of Natural History as droves of people have visited and purchased corpse thousands of dollars in merchandise and tickets. The museum stayed open 24/7 while the flower remained open. My friend Dan and I visited the plant at 2:00 am on Sunday morning. Yes, that 2:00 am because all the tickets were sold out until then. We arrive to a line of people who made this the last event of their drunken night after hitting the clubs of Houston. The line of around 100 people was probably continuous starting 4 hours prior. With a situation like this the museum had to herd the people forward and allow only a one minute gaze. Nothing I could do about that. We came, we saw, we took pictures and drove the 60 miles back to Angleton. What a drag. Rack time – 0430.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Clash of the Titans: Doobie vs Motorhead

Doobie, Doobie, Do-wah

One day in 2007 I was driving on the outskirts of Brazoria NWR when the botdar prompted me to pull into a backroad to botanize for spring flora. Arriving at a cul de sac I noticed a box amidst the piles of refuge that is typically dumped in these parts. In this box was several kittens that appeared to be only days old. Two survivors didn't succumb to exposure. One was on the verge of death and taken to the vet to revive. I received a call later that it died. The other was taken home. Chelsea cared for it with kitten milk and baby bottle I purchased at the store. We feared his roaming would bring him near Mr. Spock, a well known cat killer. We approached Spock with "Doobie" and told him he better not hurt our new addition. We used Doobie's paw to swat at him to prove our point. Spock became his big brother after that. Doobie grew into a 16 pound killing machine; a prolific ratter and roacher. Gone were the rats that inhabited the backyard. On occasion we came upon his prey in the house; a gift from Doobie for breakfast. 
 Picture:  Doobie and Motorhead 

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Oil Spill

Officially the Mississippi Canyon 252 Oil Spill Response.


I've been isolated on a barge on the Louisiana coast with no land contact other than rescuing birds for the last four days. Ten more days left. The mission is a search and rescue for birds and mammals affected by that massive oil spill gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. The first wave arrived two days before me and has been the stock footage for the national media. They've been showing that stick in the oil footage for 10 days. Cell coverage is spotty, satellite internet works. Every morning we pull out in boats to search the coast. So far there's been little to find in the way of dead birds, much to the chagrin of the national media. Word has come down that they think BP and the government is in cahoots to hide the true numbers of birds. Not there. The first oil wave is in the soil. The next one is approaching.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Face Book Can Rot in Hell

I was recently accused of being a social zombie by my sister-in-law for criticizing the Big Brother tactics of Face Book, specifically the lack of privacy. People may think I'm a social outcast by choice but I don't see the need to dilute my life and time with peer pressure obligation to be a friend to someone I hardly know or whom I never met. I have too much going on right now to do that. I made a Face Book account to communicate with Joshua in Lubbock whom I mentor for most of his life. Then my little used face book started to morph into a nagging monster. I repeatedly received emails from people I didn't know who wanted to be my friend. I guess the tipping point came when my sister in California became furious because I didn't confirm her as a friend. Enough! If people are insulted because I don't join the Face Book Matrix with them then they should reevaluate our friendship. After all I'm just a letter, email or phone call away.

The fuddy duddy Rogue Botanist.


Check out:


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Connor's Pack Test.

Connor took a pack test to qualify for wildfire assignments where ever.  He's also qualified to pick up oily birds on the shores of Louisiana. 

Must walk (not run) 3 miles in 45 minutes with a 45 pound weight vest.  Time:  38:50.  Excellent!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Looking for Critters

With the possibility of the great oil slick heading for the Texas coast it is imperative that the FWS gather pre-slick information on the subsoil populations of invertebrated that will be affected. I joined a monitoring crew to inventory invertebrates at four FWS complexes – Texas Midcoast, Texas Chenier Plains, Anahuac and South Texas. With a 4" diameter modified PVC pipe we'll pull up a column of estuary soil and sift through it for inverts and send them to Corpus Christi for identification. When the oil hits and kill everything we have an idea about what existed in the soil beforehand. Then we'll place a monetary price on the damage and get our pound of flesh from BP (like everyone else). In other news I'm placed on availability to help with the clean up in the next few months. 

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The Front Yard

Spring again and the yard is a cornucopia of over 100 species of flowers. This is the last year it will be this abundant as I'm covering up some sections to have the property ready to sell when I get that as yet fictitious job elsewhere.