Friday, June 29, 2007

Butterfly Cookie

Similar to concretions are cookies with rock hard decorations.
Tasty delicious, though.
Better than hematite.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Hematite Concretions?

These heavy metallic blobs keep turning up in my yard as heavy rains wash away exposed dirt.
Googling has turned up hematite concretions as the most likely ID, after a wild-goose-chase with manganese nodules.
They are non-magnetic.
First chance I get I'll have one band-sawed in half to see the inside detail, but I doubt I'll find anything different from the fragment of a larger one on the right--although it suggests that they might be hollow. I doubt it, though.

I like using words like concretion and nodule. Makes me sound smart.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Hibiscus Blossom

A rare sunny day yields a flower photo for the start of summer.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Corpus Christi Leftovers

A fishing boat at the marina.

A seagull that seems enamored by a boogie-boarder.

A vertical version of a previous favorite. I like the extra boardwalk at the bottom and the closer view of the buildings compared to the horizontal.

Highway bridge across the port's ship channel.
Looking closely, you can see ships and a refinery in the background.
The Aquarium is in the foreground.
My favorite exhibit was the otters.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Gecko Dinner Party

I used to have dozens of reptile pets but now have none. Watching them live their lives was fascinating and entertaining to me, and I miss it.
So watching the turkish geckos who live on our patio (and front porch) is something I enjoy on many evenings, and have even moved the light so their antics can be seen from our couch.
I have discovered that just like a cat they will chase a laser's red dot up and down the walls endlessly, snapping at it as if the red dot is a tasty insect dinner.

On this particular night the one in the center caught a large moth attracted by the light (that's why they hang around porch lights) and within seconds the other two came running, trying to steal a meal.
Failing that, they would nip at the winner's tail. I don't know if they did that because these geckos twitch their tails when hunting--causing a natural predatory response--or if they are just little pricks to each other sometimes.
Fighting for territory is normal, so maybe that's what was going on.

The color variation seen here is normal, and is caused by a variety of factors.
Many reptiles will darken to absorb more heat from the sun, then lighten as they reach optimum operational temperatures.
Being mostly nocturnal, the turkish gecko may be using color as camoflage since the ones closest to the light are usually the lightest in color--to blend into the wall better--or it may be about temperature after all.

Friday, June 15, 2007

New Dollar Coins

The US Mint tried dollar coins with the Susan B. Anthony version, but people complained that they were too close to the size of the quarter, which confused people.
I guess they would lose $.75 on some transactions, but that never happened to me.

The Sacajawea dollars were bigger and gold colored like these, but they didn't really catch on with the public either.

The popularity of the 50 State Quarter Series gave the Mint confidence that by releasing the new dollars with all of the President's faces on them, the public will embrace them and collect them.
Maybe so, but they are barely bigger than a quarter again so John Q. Public-Idiot will get confused and complain, mark my words.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Car Show

In the parking lot of the Audie Murphy VA Hospital of all places, a small car show provided a small diversion recently.
Most goofy of all was this HEB shopping cart. I wouldn't feel too comfortable sitting way up there while driving this beast.
(For my non-Texan visitors, HEB stands for Howard E. Butt, son of the company's founder. HEB is one of the largest privately owned grocery store chains with 300 stores in Texas and Mexico, and has been in business since 1905.)

My Hot Wheels™ collecting ended several years ago with the exception of this car, the Shelby Cobra.

I hate cluttered backgrounds that don't flatter the subject, so car shows aren't fun for me photographically.
I feel that a great car deserves to be shot somewhere that it can take all the attention, but that wasn't possible here so I took a 2nd photo with an eye for cropping out as much "Not-Shelby" as I could. I kept the low viewpoint which seemed to emphasize what I like about the Cobra's lines.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

El Nina

To celebrate the 500 year anniversary of the voyage of Columbus, a replica of his smallest ship--the Nina--was sailed to North America.

It was completed in 1991, and visits 15-20 ports every year.

It spends the rest of the year moored at the marina in Corpus Christi where it's a popular tourist attraction.

Getting good pictures was nearly impossible because there were people crowded around it night and day.

Monday, June 11, 2007

USS Lexington Part 2

Like chow halls and school cafeterias everywhere, life on a Navy vessel isn't glamorous or classy.
But I can guarantee that the food was delicious and plentiful. The US Air Force and Navy always had good reputations in this regard.
In fact, this scene reminds me of the Sunday Brunches at the Officer's Club I enjoyed as a small boy, although there was a bit less stainless steel and a few more linen tablecloths involved.

The medical/dental sections of the tour were full of funny little slices of life like this. I also saw a Japanese Coke can next to root-canal-instruction VHS tapes.

The "island", where it all starts. Command and control of both the ship and air operations is conducted here.

Planes and helicopters have been donated from many different NASs and museums to provide a historical perspective on the many war- and peacetime missions this ship has accomplished from WWII to the 1980s.

The Captain's chair on the bridge. You can see the downtown Omni Hotels featured in previous posts through the windows.

On the way down the ramp I got off one last shot featuring anti-aircraft cannons. The "barrels" contain life rafts and supplies that can be dropped safely into the water way down below, and the nets are to save any crew member who got blown over the side by jet exhaust or rough weather.

Hope you enjoyed the tour.
I strongly recommend visiting the Lex if you get the chance.

Friday, June 08, 2007

The USS Lexington

Click to enlarge the photos
Coming from a military family I have always wanted to tour the Lexington, looking at it wistfully whenever business or pleasure brought me to Corpus Christi.
It was closed the last time I was there a couple years back, resulting in a very sad walk back down the long ramp.

This time everything fell into place (except for beautiful weather) so here are some photos I took while exploring this massive aircraft carrier.

My favorite feature was that there aren't guided tours with dumbed-down sound bites and a hurried pace, or too slow for that matter. You're free to explore the public areas at your own pace, and can linger at whatever interests you or bypass that which doesn't.

A veteran of WWII, the Lex served longer than any other carrier.

Being inside a big Navy ship gives you a real sense of the cramped spaces, maze-like layout and the difficulty of moving quickly when every door has a lower sill to trip you and every staircase is narrow and steep. If you enjoy old war movies, visiting the Lexington really makes the interior scenes come alive.

i won't attempt to cover the long history of this great ship.
Instead, please visit the official website of The USS Lexington and follow the links to plenty of information about her, past and present.

I'll have more photos next post.

The Spurs just took Game 1 of the NBA Finals. After waiting a painful week for the series to begin, our relief is enormous.
Just to point out how good yet underrated the Spurs are, did you know that they are the most successful team sports franchise?
Over the last ten years, their win/loss percentage is higher than any other pro team's.
That's not just the best record in the NBA, but includes the NFL, MLB and NHL, too.

3 More Wins, that's all we need.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Batter Up!

A deserted little-league diamond on a perfect spring day.
Infrared scores again.

In other news:
The San Antonio Spurs will be meeting the Cleveland Cavaliers in the ATT Center this Thursday to see who'll be the Champions of the NBA, in a best-of-seven-games series.
Finley, Barry and Horry had better get their 3-pointers to fall, because young "Boobie" Gibson will be gunning for these old guys.
He went 5 for 5 tonight to put away Detroit.

I'm not worried, much.
Lebron James just had a Kobe-like performance Thursday night.
Rest up a little, then Go Spurs Go!!!

I slapped this together during halftime of a Suns/Spurs game using a VietNam-era US Army helmet's fiberglass liner.
I wasn't willing to paint the steel outer shell, or wear that heavy thing for an entire game every other day.
My support for the Spurs has certain practical limits but they don't include looking like an idiot fan, just paying for it with a sore neck.
When we take the Championship I'll proudly wear it to the post-game downtown celebration and at the River Parade that follows a few days later.