Creature Feature

Took a photo-stroll through the Houston Arboretum and found the pond by the Woodway parking lot abuzz with critters. July 19, 2021.

Flame Skimmer (or Neon?)
Blue Dasher
Blue Dasher
Yellow Garden Spider
Brazilian Skipper
White Stripe Longtail (skipper)
Spicebush Swallowtail

(All IDs subject to scrutiny but I’m not saying it unless I believe it.)

Call Me Ishmael

In the first place, I did not know that cormorants hunt in packs.

At Brays Bayou in Houston, TX this morning I witnessed a flock of maybe 40 in an absolute feeding frenzy, working their way downstream in a tight grouping and spreading terror, no doubt, throughout the fish community below. I captured some surface turmoil at one point and later discovered this huge fish had burst into the air to the amazement of everyone, including the cormorants.

Anyway, I had no idea there were fish this big in the local bayous. What do I know? Next to nothing, apparently.

The Importance of Being Existential

[Lady Bracknell and Algernon have
just exited into the music room.]

          JACK
Don't worry Miss Fairfax, nothing will
come of all this. In my experience
nothing ever comes of anything.

          GWENDOLEN 
Pray don't talk to me about nonexistence,
Mr. Worthing. Whenever people talk to me
about nothing, I always feel quite certain
that they mean something else.

          JACK
I do mean something else.

          GWENDOLEN
I thought so.

          JACK
Nothing is or is not, but that
thinking determines the matter.

          GWENDOLEN
Lady Bracknell has a way of coming
suddenly back into rooms, and thinking
has never made it not so.

          JACK
I should get to the point then. There's
something I desperately need to
discuss with you.

          GWENDOLEN
Critical Race Theory?

          JACK
Um… no. I am in love with you Miss Fairfax.

          GWENDOLEN
Romantically?

          JACK
Madly. I know that's terribly conventional
but it feels utterly unique somehow.

          GWENDOLEN
Are you sure it isn't existential angst?

          JACK
It's hard to tell the difference
sometimes, isn't it?

          GWENDOLEN
Oh, very, Mr. Worthing. Very.

          JACK
I fell in angst once. This is different.

          GWENDOLEN
Oh, I'm sure it's nothing, Mr. Worthing.

          JACK
I'm sure that it's not, but you asked
me not to talk about nothing.

          GWENDOLEN
So long as you don't mean something else.

          JACK
Marry me, Miss Fairfax. Before you
change your mind. Or I mine.

          GWENDOLEN
I've never believed that one should
marry for angst.

          JACK
Well, then do it in haste. Does this
village have a vicar?

          GWENDOLEN
Not any more. Now we have a
meteorologist.

          JACK
Does he preside at weddings?

          GWENDOLEN
He talks about the weather. Is it true
what they say?

          JACK
You would have to wait until
they say it. In my experience, the
voracity of statements not yet made
is exceedingly difficult to ascertain.

          GWENDOLEN
They say that love is forever.

          JACK
Oh, that. No, I think they mean
existential angst.

          GWENDOLEN
It's hard to tell the difference sometimes.

          JACK
Sometimes I feel it's just a thought.
Other times I think it's just a feeling.

          GWENDOLEN
Maybe we should just talk about the weather.

          JACK
When people talk about the weather, they
usually mean something else. It makes
me quite nervous.

          GWENDOLEN
It's all weather, Mr. Worthing. Everything
is exactly like the weather.

          JACK
I was afraid this all would come to
nothing, Miss Fairfax. And now
it actually has.

          GWENDOLEN
It's a wonder anything happens at all,
Mr. Worthing.

[Lady Bracknell fails to come suddenly
back into the room. Awkward silence.]

With all respect to Mr. Oscar Wilde.

Gender Blender

A Social Researcher named Fender
Mixed HE, SHE, and IT in a blender
But the sample got out
And it spread all about
Now we all get to pick a new gender

* For the record, please refer to me as He, Him, or “Hey You!”

Boswell & Johnson

Back in my days at the used bookstore, we once acquired an estate which included a significant library of Boswell & Johnson related material. While these items did not sell well, we did dedicate an entire shelf section to them for the shear prestige of it.

Here’s a bit I recall reading in one of the books, an exchange between the two recorded by Boswell, I believe. This is retrieved from an unreliable memory, keep in mind. I could not find a reference to it with an internet search.

Johnson, in teasing, asks Boswell about the Scott’s habit of consuming oats. “In England,” he says, “we feed oats to our horses.” To this Boswell replies, “well, that’s why England has such great horses, and Scotland has such great men.”

Anyway, this came to mind after reading Catherine Meyrick’s book review of a novel that casts these two as mystery solving sleuths. Seems like a fun read.

Black Velvet Leatherleaf Slug

Native to South America, the Black Velvet Leatherleaf Slug is by far the most stylish of mollusks. In appearance it is unlike any of our native slugs and is being monitored as an invasive species by the scientists who concern themselves with that sort of thing. It is clearly the Batman-villain of lawn sod and forest leaf mat. Sightings have been recorded in all the US gulf coast states since 2005, when it was first spotted in Florida. This one crossed my path at a nearby park here in Houston, Texas.

#Sluglife

The Visible Wavelengths III

When the plastics reach the apex of second half-life they will lose all mass and become weightless misshapen orbs of light, floating up out of the depths of the oceans to disperse and litter the skies, eventually forming a vast blanket around the planet and reflecting the sun’s energy back into space. By this time humans will have devolved into tadpoles incapable of abstraction and the petrochemical winter will blot out most of the higher life forms.

Somewhere, in a self-sustaining cryogenic chamber, one man will survive to fight back against the coming end of civilization. That man will be played by Vin Diesel. No, no. Nicolas Cage.