Spruce Resin Drips – Macro Monday

I won’t make you wait until next Monday to announce what this is a photo of. But try and guess anyhow before you read the story below the photo.


Yes, the photo is Tree Sap. Spruce tree resin, to be specific. Isn’t it wonderful looking stuff? I suppose I should be concerned that a few of my spruce trees are spitting out copious quantities of this sticky goo, but it is so enchanting that I am just not going to worry about what evil force might be at work here.

There is a certain amount of danger involved in taking these photos. An army of ants scurries around the base of the tree, and they bite anything that lingers long enough to observe the sticky dripping above them. I was too busy looking up to look down, and paid a handsome price for my inattention. Now when I take pictures of sap, I wear long pants and tuck them into heavy socks, thus reducing ant entry points.

Deciding whether or not to trust a person is like deciding whether or not to climb a tree because you might get a wonderful view from the highest branch or you might simply get covered in sap and for this reason many people choose to spend their time alone and indoors where it is harder to get a splinter.
– Lemony Snicket, The Penultimate Peril –

Hands – Both Human and Card

The Older Teacher:

You have 14 points showing. What do you want to do?
The Younger Student: Go Fish?

Card games, or any game really, are wonderful tools for teaching children how to do something and how to lose.  Where else can a person learn how to push the envelope without being fearful of the consequences? How else can a child learn that winning isn’t what life is all about – being in the game is what is really important!

One of the world’s most popular entertainments is a deck of cards, which contains thirteen each of four suits, highlighted by kings, queens and jacks, who are possibly the queen’s younger, more attractive boyfriends.
– Lemony Snicket –

The guy who invented poker was bright, but the guy who invented the chip was a genius.
-Julius “Big Julie” Weintraub –

One of the world’s most tiresome questions is what object one would bring to a desert island, because people always answer “a deck of cards” or “Anna Karenina” when the obvious answer is ‘a well equipped boat and a crew to sail me off the island and back home where I can play all the card games and read all the Russian novels I want.’
– Lemony Snicket –

Besides lovemaking and singing in the shower, there aren’t many human activities where there is a greater difference between a person’s self-delusional ability and actual ability than in poker.
– Steve Badget

I’m Blue – WordPress Sometimes Sucks the Joy Out of Blogging

Actually, the Photo Challenge this week was simply the word Blue, but I’m feeling Blue so that is what today’s post will be about.

It has been one of those weeks. Nothing bad happened, but a series of little things coincided with a shift in the ‘feel fine’ chemical brew that keeps me on an even keel. The result is, and always has been, several days of living with a black cloud hanging right over my head.

Not an awesomely beautiful black cloud like the ones I sometimes see in the blue morning sky over the hay field. No, a dismal, dull black cloud that wants to suck the life out of everything.  (If you are into Harry Potter, think dementors, only not quite as evil as that.) But bad enough that a small feast of chocolate does nothing to lift me out of morose. (And it didn’t help my mood at all to watch the season finale of NCIS last night, either. It looks like Ducky has met his demise. Trust television to make you think they are going to kill off a senior.)

I had hoped this morning would see the clouds lift, and it might have if I had not logged into WordPress.com to write this post.  I shouldn’t have read their latest weblog called ‘Stay in the Conversation’  because it didn’t brighten things up at all. In their infinite wisdom, the WordPress team has decided that by default, everyone who comments on a WordPress blog post will now be subscribed to all the comments for that post. That means you get an email in your inbox every time someone else comments on that post. If you do not want a full inbox, and you have a WordPress account, you can turn this feature off, (go to your WordPress Reader and click ‘Manage Email Delivery Settings. Or you can manage it on a post by post basis by unchecking the appropriate box under the comment you make). If you do not have a WordPress account, and you want to turn this feature off, they suggest you open a WordPress account. (I could remove the requirement that you must leave your name and email address when you leave a comment on my blog. If WordPress doesn’t have your email address, then they can’t send you comments you don’t want. But for now, I will remove the option to subscribe to comments at all.)

(PS:  The very next day, WordPress withdrew this feature with the following announcement:

Update (May 17): Since this feature went live we’ve had a bunch of feedback and it looks like following comments by default is not a good fit for a lot of bloggers (and their readers) after all. We looked at a few different options, but for now we’ve just changed things back to how they were before. To follow a conversation, make sure you check the box when you post a comment.)

I hate this ‘Opt Out’ mentality. If you want out, push this button. Well, I do want out, and it is for that reason I’m going to take a blogging break. I’ll still post, but less frequently. I’ll read others blogs, but not as often. I need to step away from the WordPress rat race for a while. I’m letting it suck the joy out of blogging.

Winter of 2011-2012: Last Snow Day?

Oh the weather outside is frightful,
But the fire is so delightful,
And since we’ve no place to go,
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
– Lyricist Sammy Cahn, composer Jule Styne – 1945

Calendar – May 4, 2012 – The Car Guy mowed the lawn for the first time this year.
Calendar – May 5, 2012 – 4 inches of snow.

Also on May 5, the Hibiscus bloomed. It is an indoor plant with brilliant red flowers.

Green grass, Red flower, White snow – felt very Christmasy!

How to Clone Yourself – Unfocused

I was going to use this photo for a post about how I wish I could clone myself.  I even have it figured out how the process would happen. I will simply stand outside the house in front of a dual pane window (the cleaner the better so that there isn’t dirt blobs or bird poop on my clone.) I will hold up a box like apparatus (think Calvin and Hobbes and ‘The Transmogrifier’ box, only much smaller), focus until two distinct people appear in the viewfinder, and click the shutter.  Then I will take one large step back, leaving my clone standing right in front of me.

I tried it several times with my Canon camera, but the process didn’t work. I think I have to practice  making the two images less unfocused, and perhaps the camera is much too sophisticated for the job. I think an empty kleenex box with a cardboard toilet paper tube stuck in it would be a better starting point.

If I perfect this technology, one of us will let you know by blogging about it. The other will be off taking photos. Gee, I’m sure looking forward to having a twin!

Is it Grey or Gray?

If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.
-Rachel Louise Carson –


I’d like to give you a hint for this photo, but I can’t think of anything that won’t be a dead giveaway. So you are on your own. What is this a close up photo of?

Computers 101 – How to Turn on Your Laptop

Parents know how to push your buttons because, hey, they sewed them on.
– Camryn Manheim –

The VAIO computer ‘on’ button

The instructions for powering up my Sony VAIO laptop are pretty simple. They are found on a sheet of paper that is filed in a folder in the cabinet in our home office. They read:

Lift the LCD screen lid – Press the power button until the power indicator light turns on.

(Apparently I either never read those instructions, or if I did, I forgot them. And really, how much use is a piece of paper in the file cabinet anyhow?)

Unlike many computers, the power button for my laptop is a large button on the right side of the machine. Most laptops have a power button that is under the lid. If a button is under a lid, it can’t be pushed until the lid is opened. If it is on the outside, it says (to me anyhow) you can push me first if you like and then open the lid – which I have been doing for two years and it almost always caused the computer to start up. Almost always.

The first time my computer would not turn on, I ended up taking it to the  repair shop. They charged me $50 and told me they could find nothing wrong.  Apparently they opened the lid before they pushed the ‘on’ button, but they didn’t bother to explain that to me because, well, they assumed I would already know that.

The second time my computer would not turn on, I decided I had better trouble shoot the problem myself and save the $50. In the course of poking and prodding the lifeless little beast, I must have lifted the lid ever so slightly before pressing the power button. The computer leaped into action. It dawned on me then that the lid might have to be lifted ever so slightly before the computer would start, and yes, the instructions in the file cabinet confirmed that.

There are several lessons in this little story. The first is, just because you have done something in a certain way several thousand times, don’t assume you will always get the same result the next time you try it. All it takes is the smallest alteration of one insignificant parameter (in this case the ever so slight difference between a lid that is closed, and a lid that is not quite closed) to change the result. The second lesson is, learn from the mistakes of others – you can never live long enough to make them all yourself. (Don’t thank me, I’m glad to be a lesson in what not to do.)

There are three kinds of men; the ones that learn by reading, the few who learn by observation, the rest of them have to pee on the electric fence.
– Will Rogers –

If Sony had a sticker on the lid of the computer that said “open the lid before pushing the ‘On’ button” would I have thought, “Gee, that is a helpful little piece of advice” or would I have thought “Duh, doesn’t everyone know that”?