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July 19, 2006

Cockatiel

So I'm visiting my mother one night, maybe 8 or 9 years ago, and we'd just finished dinner. We're outside on their back deck when I hear my step-dad call out to my mother and say, "Look at that bird. It must be sick or something." He was pointing down to something in the grass.

I walked over to where he was, looked over the railing, and down there in the grass was a cockatiel trying to get some shut eye. I said, "That's somebody's pet."

"How do you know?" my step dad asked.

"That kind of bird doesn't live in the United States," I responded.

Now I already had a pet bird, a peach fronted conure named "Charlie". I had Charlie for about 12 years. I don't know how old he was when I got him, but I have a feeling that he was no spring chicken. In spite of having him for so very long, I took very very few photos of him. He died about 5 years ago. Here's a couple of photos that I just found to scan in - they're not good, but they and just a couple of others are all that I have (incidentally, that fish was named, "Grouper"; he was about 4 years old, there; he died at about age 11 whilst living in an 80 gallon fish tank):

Charlie, the peach front conure

Charlie was a brilliant animal, brain wise. Conures and parrots are like that. Most people have pet dogs and/or pet cats, and everyone thinks that their pet is intelligent. People argue over which is smarter, cats or dogs. Dogs seem dumb, but they can learn lots of tricks. Cats seem smart, but just try to train them to do anything. After some time with either one, you learn what kind of intelligence each of them has, and they seem smart to you once you've learned about them.

Charlie, on the other hand, had all of the intelligence of a dog and all of the intelligence of a cat. If you've never had a conure or a parrot before, you just wouldn't understand, but the levels of communication which are available between humans and those birds is shocking. It takes a bit to grow accustomed to it. Dogs and cats are a bit lower on the ladder (yes, I know, I'll never convince you...your dog or cat is as brilliant as a human).

Anyway, being familiar with birds as I was, I walked down to that cockatiel which was on the grass and gently talked to it as I extended my finger in front of it. The thing hopped right on.

For a couple of years the cockatiel didn't have a name. The day I got it, I named it, "Einstein", as a sort of partner to Charlie who was named after Charles Darwin. However, I shortly discovered that this cockatiel was no "Einstein". The intelligence which goes along with conures and parrots just plain isn't there with cockatiels. In fact, I used to say that, after getting the cockatiel, I felt a whole lot better about eating chickens. The truth is that the cockatiel is probably as smart as a dog or a cat, but just has different limitations. But, for ages I thought of the thing as being very slow witted, but that was because I was comparing it to Charlie.

After a while, it finally got a name. It was constantly whistling at me to communicate, so I used to call it, "you little whistle bird!" Sounds dumb, and it was. So what. Eventually that became "Whistles" - which quickly was baby-talked into "Whiskles". Here's Whisks:

Whiskles, the cockatiel

When I found Whiskles, I checked the classifieds for people who were missing a pet cockatiel. To my recollection, there were 7 people advertising for a lost cockatiel. Two of them, after describing the bird on the phone, thought that it was worth stopping by to see if it was theirs, but it had no takers. So, I wound up with a new pet - a companion for Charlie. The only problem: They hated each other. Oh well.

Anyway, fast forward to tonight, July 18, 2006. I'd just finished a workout and I went to my bedroom to look something up on the Internet (Apex nutrition bars, if you must know). While I was there, Whiskles whistled to me. I whistled back. And another bird outside whistled back in the same way. It was a very loud whistle, and I guessed that it must be a magpie:

Black Billed Magpie

Those birds seem to like it around my house and they seem to make all different kinds of noises. I figured that the loud whistle that I was hearing would probably be a cinch for them.

I whistled back to my bird, and the bird outside whistled back...then my bird took its turn. I didn't actually think that the bird outside was whistling back, I just thought it was out there minding its own business. Anyway, this kept up for about 2 or 3 minutes, and I thought it was strange that Whiskles hadn't bothered flying downstairs to my shoulder as he'd normally do. So, I went upstairs to get him.

He was in the window sill between his cage and the window, which happens to be a place where I can't get to him. That's no big deal, because once I'm there saying, "Come on, come on...", as you would to a dog or a cat, he nearly always climbs up over the cage and to me.

Not this time, though.

Instead, he stayed put there in the window, looking out at something. I whistled to him...but he didn't answer. Instead that damned bird outside whistled back again.

I wanted to see what kind of bird it was that was doing this whistling, so I walked over to my sliding door, which was open (the screen was shut), and looked into the trees, expecting to see a magpie. I whistled - a bird whistled back, but I still couldn't see it.

Looking deeper and more carefully into the trees, I whistled again. It whistled back, and this time I realized that the sound wasn't coming from the trees, but was coming from over to the right near Whiskles' window where there were no trees available - and the sound was very close! I pressed my head against the screen and looked over to the right...and there it was sitting on my deck railing:

Stray cockatiel

Definitely not a magpie.

I walked outside, stuck my finger out in front of it, it hopped on and we went inside.

About 3 seconds after getting inside, it spied Whiskles' food - and it flew off of my finger and started pigging out. I got it a fresh few cubes of food, shut the cage door, locked Whiskles in the bathroom, and headed outside to retrieve Whiskles' old cage from back when Charlie was alive. I hadn't even cleaned the thing before I stored it. I put it in the bathtub and gave it a good cleaning. Now that cage is upstairs hanging from a hook on the ceiling, the door open, with the new cockatiel inside. It sure seems happy to have a cage. It's probably felt pretty exposed outside, for however long its been there.

Anyway, here's the thing: I checked the classifieds for lost cockatiels and - not a single ad. Somehow I just know I'm going to get stuck with this thing. I think it's young, too. I was expecting to be bird free within a decade. So much for that.

Posted by Jeff at 01:17 AM | Comments (29)

July 16, 2006

Operation Let Freedom Wing

What we are fighting for:

What they are fighting for:

Posted by Jeff at 05:16 PM | Comments (2)

July 09, 2006

Where the HELL did all of these Mexicans come from??? (Please don't answer: Mexico.)

Judas PRIEST things have changed around here in the last 6 months. What the hell is going on? About six weeks ago, I went to CostCo and found the store flooded with Mexicans - most of whom didn't speak English - even the kids, 8 years old, running around the aisles out of control didn't speak English. I thought that it must be some kind of weird fluke. I mean, for months I've been noticing Mexicans more and more, but I thought I was just noticing them because they're the focus of so much news (hence interest is piqued).

Then four weeks ago, on my trip to CostCo, I noticed it again - Mexicans everywhere, but there was not quite as many as the time before. A couple of more trips, including one last week, same scenario - Mexicans everywhere.

Now yesterday there were even more! No English. Children who don't speak English. Full grown adult males averaging about 5' 5" in height - clearly not reared on healthy American cuisine. And you should've seen their clothes. Their fashion sense came right out of this video.

Something freaking BIZARRE is going on right now. This is a MAJOR change over a very very short period of time, and it's no fluke - it seems to be permanent and increasing.

PS: Okay, it's January 11th, 2007 now, and I'm starting to get annoyed at some of ridiculous comments in this thread. In response, I'm going to perform a public service. For those of you who post on bulletin boards and message boards that allow the use of avatars, he's a great one for ya:

Awesome avatar.

And here's the original if you want to use it to create your own avatar, or...whatever:

In case you're confused....
Posted by Jeff at 03:55 PM | Comments (517)

July 08, 2006

Vernon Robinson

Now this guy, Vernon Robinson, has some interesting campaign ads. He is running for congress against Brad Miller in North Carolina. Here are his ads:

That's interesting stuff. Personally, I agree with him especially on the race issue. Do you agree with the following points?

Black skinned Americans lag behind other racial groups in America in many key areas, particularly that of economic success, because racism holds them down.

Black skinned Americans lag behind because of their own lack of taking personal responsibility for their conditions, individually.

My answer is that it's both. But let's be clear about what kind of racism holds them back: it's the racism of the American Left which sets lower standards for black-skinned people in schools and the workplace, and which assigns to black skinned individuals a separate "culture" from the rest of us (see the bottom of "My McDonald's Experience", prior to the comments, for just one example of young black skinned children being severely handicapped as compared to all other races). There can be no doubt that this type of institutional racism is the single most destructive element which "keeps the black man down".

The Democrats, by the way, have a vested interest in racism. Ask yourself: What would be the effect on the Democratic party if racism completely disappeared? They'd lose half of their base, that's what. No wonder these people have such a dismal record of appointing minorities to leadership positions, and no wonder Republicans - like George W. Bush - have such a laudible record, and no wonder Democrats and welfare beggars hate Condi so much.

Posted by Jeff at 01:02 PM | Comments (2)

July 07, 2006

Mosquitos in Kansas

Mosquitos in Kansas are, apparently, taken very very seriously:

Fighting Kansas mosquitos.

Google News is pretty awesome, but it isn't perfect.

Posted by Jeff at 03:06 PM | Comments (0)

The New York Times and the Holland Tunnel

Well, apparently the FBI were able to stop a terrorist attack before the New York Times could expose the critical FBI methods of identifying and tracking terrorists:

Terror Plot To Flood City Uncovered
July 07, 2006

The FBI has reportedly uncovered a terrorist plot to bomb the Holland Tunnel in the hopes the Hudson would then flood New York City.

The Daily News says one of the alleged plotters was arrested in Beirut and that a worldwide search is on for other suspects.

The terrorists allegedly got promises of money and tactical support from Jordanian associates of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi before he was killed last month.

The News says the FBI uncovered the plot by watching internet chat rooms.

Still, experts say the plan wouldn't have worker because even if the explosives managed to breach the tunnel, the city wouldn't flood because it is built above the level of the river.

Senator Chuck Schumer is using news of the foiled bomb plot to remind the Department of Homeland Security of the bad judgment it exercise in cutting New York's security funding.

In a statement he says:

"This is one instance where intelligence was on top of its game and discovered the plot when it was just in the talking phase," said Schumer. "But it once again illustrates how misguided Homeland Security's allocation of funds is. How many warnings does the Department need about threats to New York until it changes its formula?"

Score another for the FBI and Homeland Security - and it's nice to see the New York Times & the terrorists on the losing end.

Posted by Jeff at 08:56 AM | Comments (0)

July 06, 2006

Ken Lay Not Guilty?

Ken Lay's Death May Erase Conviction

HOUSTON The death of Enron Corp. founder Kenneth Lay will likely cause his conviction to be erased from the record, experts said Thursday.

The 64-year-old executive's sudden death Wednesday from heart disease allows his lawyers to ask the court to vacate his conviction for fraud and conspiracy in Enron's scandal that left thousands jobless and wiped out billions from investors.

...

Roma Theus, vice chairman of the corporate integrity and white collar crime committee of the Chicago-based Defense Research Institute and a former federal prosecutor, said that because an appeal was pending, Lay's convictions are abated.

"The law views it as though he had never been indicted, tried and convicted," Theus said.

Without that, the government cannot continue its efforts to seize Lay's assets through criminal courts, he said.

David Berg, a Houston civil litigator, said all that's left is a bureaucratic process in which Lay's attorneys can file court papers, with Lay's death certificate, asking Lake to vacate the convictions. If Lake complies as expected, Lay would no longer be a felon.

"His lawyers will move to set aside the conviction, and it'll be done. The slate is wiped clean," Berg said.

Ken Lay died last week, sparing him from sentencing after having been convicted of securities fraud associated with the Enron scandal. When he emerged from the courthouse after having received this judgment, he said that he believes that God works all things for the good for those who believe in Him. He had faith that all of this was for the good where he was concerned. All of the events are fitting within the realm of his statement. I'll bet that really ticks a lot of people off.

There are many different kinds of immoral and unfair prejudice. There's racial prejudice that says, "The defendant is black, therefore he's probably guilty." There's sexual preference prejudice that says, "This homosexual won't be as good of a soldier or policeman as the rest of us." There's sexist prejudice that tells an employer, "If I hire one woman, I'm okay, but if I hire two I become a full time referee." There's even prejudice against politicians which says, "All politicians are dishonest." But the most despicable prejudice of all is the prejudice against the good for being the good, the successful for being successful, the business man who does well.

Most of the fury against Ken Lay comes from this last source: he's rich, therefore he must have screwed over people in order to become wealthy. As with the black defendant, he might very well be guilty, but that's not the point; what matters to me as I write this post are the predispositions of those who judge them. Whether the issue of erasing Lay's conviction is wrong or not depends upon the details of the case. But whether that cloud is dark or not, it certainly has a silver lining: those whose internal motivation for seeing him as guilty is dominated by prejudice against the rich will not be happy. And they deserve not to be.

Posted by Jeff at 04:17 PM | Comments (1)

Soccer, Futebol, and...Whatever

With all of the soccer (futebol!!!) hysteria going around, I thought I'd share my opinion on the matter. For your enjoyment:

What's more important than futebol?

"We might suck at soccer, but at least our babies aren't starving!!!"

Gotta love it.

And while we're at it, let's not forget this awesome clip from The Simpsons.

Enjoy your day!

Posted by Jeff at 02:17 PM | Comments (2)

Veiled Chameleon Eggs

These eggs are from a chameleon that I owned a few years ago. She was my first chameleon and I made a lot of mistakes with her. Three days before she died, she deposited these eggs. If you wonder how much size a chameleon loses when she lays eggs, this'll give you a fair idea. However, how much she loses depends upon how many eggs she has, and that can vary a lot.

Veiled Chameleon Eggs
Posted by Jeff at 01:32 PM | Comments (190)

July 03, 2006

Truth, Justice, and the American Way II

I just read a great column. I'll give you some highlights, but you should read it yourself at the Chicago Tribune:

Is Superman in the new movie "Superman Returns" still an American?

And, if he's not an American--which he's not because in the new movie he's ashamed of the "American way"--what is he, Iranian? Has Hollywood turned the Man of Steel into some United Nations bureaucrat?

...what about Superman?

The American icon is no longer an American. He's not proud of the American way.

...

The real Superman, the pre-Kyoto, pre-Guantanamo Bay Superman, understood who he was. He fought for "truth, justice and the American way." That was his credo--even while threatening terrorists into giving up important information in time to save the day.

But in the new movie, the Man of Steel can't even bring himself to say it. Instead, a supporting character, played by Frank Langella, says Superman stands for "truth, justice and all that stuff."

...

Since Superman is so uncomfortable with the American way, expect the other superheroes to expel him from the Justice League of America just about the time the movie opens in Iran.

...

"We were hesitant to include the term `American way' because the meaning of that today is somewhat uncertain," the Hollywood Reporter quoted "Superman Returns" screenwriter Michael Dougherty as saying.

Excuse me? The meaning of `the American way' is somewhat uncertain? I think Hollywood is uncertain. They're ashamed, and prove it as often as they can, while wondering what happened to the box office.

"The world has changed," said Dougherty's writing partner, Dan Harris. "The world is a different place. The truth is, he's an alien. He was sent from another planet. He has landed on the planet Earth, and he is here for everybody. He's an international superhero."

I just want to stop here and point out what should be glaringly obvious: Superman has always stood for what's good and right. That's inherent in the statement: Truth, Justice, and the American Way. These people aren't saying that Superman has changed, they're saying - nearly quoting here - that the world has changed. So why should Superman's catch phrase change, then, if he hasn't? Clearly, they think that America has changed and is no longer worthy of Superman.

Which means he's not an American superhero. I'm sure Belgium and China are thrilled. But Superman protected our interests, once. Now, he's the world's muscle man so that Hollywood can make a few more bucks selling the movie in countries where they burn the American flag for breakfast, not in Belgium, but elsewhere.

How did this happen?

"So you play the movie in a foreign country, and you say, `What does he stand for--truth, justice and the American way.' I think a lot of people's opinions of what the American way means outside of this country are different from what the line actually means, because they are not the same any more," Harris said. "And using that line would taint the meaning of what he is saying."

I think what he really means is that he wants to sell tickets in Iran, North Korea and other places where they hate our guts.

The old Superman was an uncomplicated Midwesterner in tights and cape, made shy by Lois Lane's fetching beauty....

But now?

Look, up in the sky, it's a bird. It's a plane. Who cares? Whatever.

I have to be honest, here: I'm really disappointed at Hollywood. It doesn't make sense that I would be disappointed. After all, disappointment comes from unrealized expectations, does it not? And I clearly expected Hollywood to do exactly what they've done. I predicted it before I knew anything about it. Apparently, even when expectations are fulfilled, disappointment can come from unrealized hope as well.

Posted by Jeff at 02:39 AM | Comments (1)

July 02, 2006

Jack Murtha's Arguments

I love this, this is amazing: Someone actually credits John Murtha with sound argumentation here and posts a link to it from his weblog thinking that Murtha has actually scored points.

The "I served in the military, you didn't" argument is completely without merit. It's a non-sequitur, as it has no impact one way or another on ideas that are presented. That's why it's so frequently used: because you can't argue with stupidity. Ever. Representative Gohmert makes valid points, then Jack Murtha stands up and asks completely irrelevant questions. This is the depth of the reasoning of so many on the left.

Posted by Jeff at 04:11 PM | Comments (1)

July 01, 2006

Truth, Justice, and the American Way

Well, I won't be forking out any dollars to see the new Superman movie. A few days ago, on the 26th, I wrote on a bulletin board website:

I have no expectations of [Superman V] being any good at all.

The Christopher Reeve Superman movies sucked rocks. They were freaking stupid. In one movie, when the bad guys were creating a hurricane down a city street in Metropolis, a phone booth gets knocked over and the guy who was using the phone just keeps right on talking, now laying on his side in the booth, laughing his ass off while he's talking, as if nothing happened (or was happening around him). I suppose that was supposed to be funny, and defenders would say, "Hey, it's based upon a COMIC BOOK! It's supposed to be dumb!" I say: Mission accomplished, then.

I've seen so very very little in the way of previewing the current movie. But the choice of actor to play Superman doesn't exactly give it a boost.

Also: Truth, Justice, and the American Way. I see the politically correct, pinko culture of Hollywood distancing themselves as far as they can get from what Superman was all about. I don't think I could bear to see that at this point in time (and I don't see much point in awarding Hollywood with my dollar for doing it a disservice). We've had a rough few years - and have come out on top - but the choir could certainly use a song for their efforts.

Well, politically correct is exactly what they've made the new Superman, and politically correctness, it seems, now not only means avoiding obviously bad language such as racial epithets, but now lumps into the "bad" category any claim that the American Way is good. The very point from the beginning of Superman was that he would defend American values - such as truth and justice. The movie producers' implication is that, now, American values no longer are grouped with such desirable concepts.

Some may claim that the producers did it as a cash grab, that the audience for American movies is worldwide and some of them aren't all that happy with us right now. Perhaps they thought they'd be boycotted if Superman was tied to American values. Well, that's just the point, isn't it? Defending America requires taking the argument to America's detractors. It may offend some, sure, but others who are undecided just may think, at some level: I like Superman, I want to be like him and stand for the same values for which he stands - "the American Way". Many a youngster introduced to Superman has felt that way. But now, those who want to be like Superman will go back and learn more about him - and notice that he's abandoned the American portion of his catch-phrase. What are they to assume from his hero's judgment of America now?

A Superman movie is precisely the type of movie that I like to see. I am their target audience. I am their implied audience. I am their base. And I won't be seeing this movie. Am I part of a disorganized boycott? Well, there's an awful lot of bad reviews of the movie, and I've yet to see a good one. The reviews which hold it in the highest esteem seem to be those which simply report on the facts of the movie, without making any judgments of its worth. Consciously or subconsciously, I suspect that "...and all that stuff" is taking an effect. - and it's money down the drain.

Posted by Jeff at 12:27 PM | Comments (1)

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