Smithsonianing and phone photos

I subscribe to the Smithsonian’s newsletter. I should probably subscribe to their magazine but I don’t really need paper copies showing up where I live. Their short stories are generally enough and if I do chance on something that piques my interest, I gots Wikipedia providing me with references, photos, and leads to more in-depth stuff. 

That said, I do contribute to both Wikipedia and the Smithsonian. 


Painting from the lobby of a local hotel — treated with Topaz Plugins.

Anyway, I figure I would sit and share a few articles I found interesting and also share a few random photos from my phone. 

Before I get to the articles, I wanted to share a video about surfing the Great Lakes . . . 

Obviously, you don’t have to watch it all (or any of it) but you could move the slider around to get a feel for the video (warning – music accompanies the video).

Anyway, on with some of the Smithsonianing I have been doing. First up, the Ghost Shark. The cool name aside, there is a cool video taken by underwater drones. You can click on the link and read the article, but this video gives you the information. 

The creature looks strange enough that I thought it was a CGI representation of what scientist thought this shark might look like . . . but no; this is actual footage.  The cool name makes me want to write a story about Ghost Sharks. Also, it brought this song to mind. 

For them who are not going to click on the videos, here is a photo of an honest-to-goodness Ent . . . 


Look at them feet!

. . . here’s another view — from a different angle — on them feet . . . 

20161221_152119-processed_digiYes, all the photos are from my phone, my now ancient — and not bursting into flames — Samsung Note II. You can click on the photos for a larger version of them.

This next story has a video associated with it, but I’m not linking it. You can click on THIS link and read the full story and — if you have the stomach for it — watch the video.

So, people studying woodpecker have filmed adult woodpeckers drill into the heads of baby doves and eat their brains. Some theorize the birds are doing this because it’s a way to get water in environments where water is at a premium. Others point out that it’s not functionally different from birds eating the eggs of other birds. 

Whatever the reason, we humans have a nasty tendency of anthropomorphizing the behavior of animals. I see this as a case where the same bird that a few moments ago might have been looked at as a cute and interesting bird might now be viewed by some as being “evil”. The bird, of course, has no feelings one way or the other about what it is doing.  

We like to imagine woodpeckers use their skill as borers mostly to attack things like this . . . 


But, they do eat grubs and pick at carcasses. Also, put out a basket of suet, and one of the first birds to come feast on the suet could very well be a woodpecker. . . if the crows don’t beat it to it.  The point is, they obviously know to eat animal fat. Which means it’s already in their diet before you put the suet out. 

As far as observers can tell, there is no malice on the part of the woodpecker and, unlike cats, it’s not killing for pleasure.

Cats. I love cats, but they are too efficient at killing. I’ve posted before about the toll they take on songbirds and other native small game populations. It’s staggering. In Australia, THIS article talks about the problem — 99.8% of Australia is infested with feral cats — and its eventual solution. They refer to feral cats, but I know a few cat owners who insist cats belong outdoors and their killing sprees — the cat’s, not their owner’s — are perfectly natural. It’s just nature, they say. It’s also nature when bears and cougars maul people, but boy don’t humans get all worked up about it when the shoe is on the other foot. 

The eventual solution, of course, is culling. I mean the cats, not the people, although at the rate we are going, we’ll have to eventually do something about them as well. Some people have already taken it upon themselves to do something about it. I don’t approve of it; I would prefer “fixing” them too, but that’s for another article.

Culling is a nice-sounding word; it sounds almost like cuddling. But, no; it means killing the animals to thin a given herd or population. 

People don’t like it when other people start talking about killing cats.

The place where we walk has a large population of cats that are being fed by a group that also captures them and “fixes” them. Of course, this does not keep the cats from killing anything that moves and that is smaller than them. It’s what they enjoy doing, you see. Plus, other places where similar programs are in force do not see any reduction in the cat population; the numbers still increase, but slower. And songbirds and other animals are still paying the bill for our inability to manage our lives responsibly. 

From the park where we walk.

From the park where we walk.

Oil Spill treatment using Topaz Adjust plugin.

Oil Spill treatment using Topaz Glow 2 plugin.

So, two depressing article in a row . . . let me get to some lighter fare . . . 

THIS article surprised me. It never occurred to me anyone would do this. It’s a 702 miles hike pulling a 265-pounds sled. 

What Am I talking about? Sweden’s Johanna Davidsson skied to the South Pole. She did it in 38 days, 23 hours and 5 minutes, beating by ten hours the previous record for a female skiing to the South pole. That means there were others. 

I walk 4.5 miles every morning and I go to the gym for an hour or so where I row for 30 minutes . . . but now, I would like to hike to the South Pole. I have one huge challenge ahead of me; no, not the hike . . . the challenge is my wife letting me do it. I’ll drop a few hints and see how they land. I predict “flat” but you never know.

Regardless if I ever do it, an impressive feat . . . but, I have questions. How does one go to the bathroom? I mean, it’s cold, right? Does one have to dig holes in the snow or ice or does one just leave cairns-like markers? Are there a number of different routes mapped out as little piles on the ice? Inquisitive minds want to know. 

Regardless, an impressive feat.


Topaz Impressions 2 plugin

Topaz Impressions 2 plugin

Another impressive lady — Dorothy Levitt — is a person I can identify with. One, she raced automobiles. Two, she gives advice (something I’ve been known to do once or twice). 

But, it’s this advice to women planning to drive that led me to have a soft spot for the lady:

Don’t forget your gun. Although Levitt, an experienced hunter, wrote that she never had to use hers, “it is nevertheless a comfort to know that should the occasion arise I have the means of defending myself.” She recommended an automatic Colt, or, should you be disinclined towards firearms, a dog.

The only objection is that last part about the dog. For one, you can’t throw a dog all that far, and the dog won’t like it when you do. A gun has a much longer range and more shots. Unless you travel with a pack of eight dogs . . . but, even if you do, dog projectiles are notoriously difficult to aim and, again, the dogs don’t like it much. 


Thanks for letting me indulge in a bit of fun. I enjoy sharing things that cross my path and that I find interesting. These are only a few of many. 

Here, let me end with something for them pesky woodpeckers . . . 


That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


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. . .  my FP ward  . . . chieken shit.

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About disperser

Odd guy with odd views living an odd life during odd times.
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18 Responses to Smithsonianing and phone photos

  1. oneowner says:

    It’s not wise to bring a dog to a gunfight.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Eddy Winko says:

    A funny post, thank you again!


  3. I always love that very last line in the stuff below.
    (and you are right. Can’t throw a dog very far. Burglar tried that last year here – surprised the dog completely (some guard dog he was), but the cop still got the crook.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • disperser says:

      Hey! . . . someone reads that stuff. Glad to hear it. Also about the cops.

      Thing is, I see dogs as a warning device signaling for the owner to get some serious deterrent and protect both themselves and the dog.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The trouble with the cats in Australia is that they are an introduced species. My countrymen brought them here along with rabbits, both to the detriment of the local flora and fauna when first settling the country.
    Love that tree with the legs & feet that’s a beauty.

    I’m not into swimming(I can’t) and the idea of surfing the Great Lakes struck me as odd, until I remembered that the are BIG, what I wonder though is the buoyancy. Being fresh water must make it harder to swim in; then what would I know?


    • disperser says:

      Every species on Earth is an introduced species at one time or another.

      As buoyancy, Salt water has a 2.5% differential to Fresh water. None of that matters to me since my floating height in salt water is about an inch below the surface. In fresh water it’s about four inches. In either case, the result is drowning.


  5. I forgot to mention the tree with the cow/bulls head, with the rings through the nose; did anyone else notice it ? or have I been drinking too much bourbon!


  6. HA! You crack me up! :-D Thanks for the much needed laughs!

    I enjoyed the vids! Especially learning about the ghost sharks. The Ghost Dance song/vid is powerful!

    We had a woodpecker that would visit us often…he’d sit on the corner of the house by the kitchen window and peck away! I missed him when he stopped coming. Maybe a cat got him. ???

    Your photos in this post are stunning! I especially enjoyed the flowers and The Tree Creature! He reminds me of the walking/talking trees in movies!

    Let us know how your hints go!
    HUGS!!! :-)


    • disperser says:

      This next song is my favorite on that album. I used to have a top-notch audio setup and this was amazing listening to it on a good system. Still good, though.

      As far as the hints, as predicted, they kind of fell flat. More like knocked down and stomped on. I’ve cancelled my plans to drag a truck tire behind me wherever I go . . .

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Aquileana says:

    Great photographs… You are right when you say that we humans have a tendency of anthropomorphizing the behavior of animal.
    But there is no doubt woodpeckers have skill as borers, judging by the photograph of the tree… I was amazed!… If you look closer, they seem to have created faces…
    Human faces (wait: I am anthropomorphizing their behavior!. ;) )
    The flowers from the park are gorgeous… They reminded me of a plant with similar flowers I saw in Rio de Janeiro. (Botanic Garden)… the editions of the pics make them look different, even if it is the same plant.
    Finally… how odd Hydrolagus trolli is!!!… Looks like a shark, somehow… regardless of the clear differences.. One could see that his eyes are proof that he lives in abyssal depths ;)
    Sending all my best wishes, dear Disperser. :)


    • disperser says:

      Thank you, Aquileana.

      Just to be clear, those trunk features were not produced by woodpeckers. That I know of, there are no woodpeckers on the islands. Whatever the process, many faces can be found on those textures . . . all of them from our own fertile imagination and pattern-recognition abilities.

      Liked by 1 person

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