Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Happy Day For Me...

...since Brendan will be arriving here in Tucson in about 3 hours. It will be nice to have him out here for the 10 days he will be spending here. I figure with him here I'll have a hiking buddy, a fishing buddy, a camping buddy, a herping buddy, a shooting buddy and most of all just him with whom I can hang out and enjoy Tucson and Arizona.

All the best,
Glenn B

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Violent Revolution

Is now the time for violent revolution. I have to wonder about just how bad it was for our founding fathers when they decided that all hell needed to break loose. The principles upon which our nation was founded are being trashed one by one, by previous presidential administrations (Democrat & Republican) and apparently also by the current one, at least in my personal estimation. Our president seemingly wants to have a Supreme Court justice who empathises and who decides legal issues based upon emotion instead of upon our Constitution (the basis of all of our laws, the bedrock of our legal system, the foundation of our jurisprudence, the make up of our republic). Simply amazing. Of course, we are also rapidly becoming a socialist nation economically and politically, and we are facing a major fiscal collapse the likes of which we have not seen in decades and all the politicians seem to want to do is to raise taxes while the citizenry who actually work for a living will have no way to pay them. Our moral condition has become demoralized and abortion is considered ethical and in fact a preferred form of birth control by many, there are same sex marriages, and there are pedophiles who have raped children over and over again for years who then get minimal sentences. We are floundering on issues of national defense such as North Korea with the bomb, the two wars in which we are involved, our mission to wipe out terrorism, and securing our own borders to name a few. We are allowing our Constitutional rights to be whittled away such as the Right to keep and Bear Arms, the Right to Free Speech, and the Right to Worship as we please or not; but gosh darn it let's make sure that non-combatant prisoners of war, those terrorists at Gitmo, have more right than do U.S. Citizens while we decide to punish lawyers for giving a legal opinion that water boarding was not torture - all the while as we have a president who apparently was a personal friend of a terrorist and evidently who had a hate monger for a preacher! Doesn't this seem of kilter to you, it sure does to me - badly so!

So yes, I am wondering just what it is that will make people start to look at violent revolution as a viable form of saving our principles and a way of life that at one time in the not too distant past made the United States of America the greatest nation on the face of this earth. Does there need to be more fuel added to the fire, do we need more prodding by inept and corrupt politicians or is it that we who remember a better life are just too old and fat to care and our younger citizens do not have a clue about the likely consequences of the path we are currently taking. While I am not advocating it, I must say, I believe that violent revolution is drawing nearer and nearer if only because I cannot for the life of me fathom how our government will be able to keep the people pacified what with the potentially imminent destruction of all that for which our nation once stood. I think it is closer than any of us may imagine, maybe only a few or even only a couple of years off. I pray things get better before it comes to that. Yet, the pragmatic side of me just does not think that we will ever regain our freedoms, our integrity, our prosperity, our sense of justice and morality without a violent upheaval of some sort though I hope for those things to be regained peacefully. Am I off the mark or do you too see storm clouds on the horizon?

All the best,
Glenn B

Monday, May 25, 2009

On This memorial Day...

...let us not forget they who have fallen for our country nor the reason that they fell. They stood the line to fight for our freedoms, for our Constitution, for our way of life. Today is not Veteran's Day - it is not a day to celebrate those in the military or the Veterans who were in the muilitary, it is a day to memorialize the sacrifices made by those of our military forces who have lost life or limb in battle protecting our great Nation. Remember that, and remember them and their sacrifice, then pay them homage in a fitting manner.

All the best,
Glenn B

Friday, May 22, 2009

A Sad Commentary On Law Enforcement At Our Borders

There I was driving along a country road, near a very small town here in southern Arizona realizing, when the realization hit me that I had probably just made a wrong turn. Not so much that I was lost or anything, just that I was out on my day off and thought I would head in the other direction than that in which I had been traveling to see what was in that direction. So when I spotted a sign for a historical marker ahead I figured I'd pull over and get my bearings. As I approached I could not help but notice a white pickup truck parked therein with hood up and a Border Patrol Agent looking into the engine compartment. Another white pick up was just pulling up next to the first one. As I pulled into the cut out for the historical marker I saw the second BPA get out of his vehicle and greet the first. It was OBVIOUS that he was there to help check up on the other guy, and both started looking under the hood of the first pick up. They were at the near end as I pulled in, and I drove to the center next to the historical marker, maybe 20 or 25 yards from them and stopped to read the little bit of history written there. I then pulled to the far end of the small parking area, maybe 50 yards long, and took a look at my GPS to help me decide which way I wanted to go. I was thinking of heading to Sierra Vista but as it turned out I went to Parker Canyon Lake but like today while on the road I am straying again so allow me to get back to my point.

My point is that as I drove passed the two Border Patrol Agents it was obvious that neither was holding a long arm. Not the first guy who had been under the hood, nor the second guy who drove up to help him. Yet when I pulled to the far end of the parking area to check my GPS and looked back at them it was obvious that the second guy was holding a rifle and had it pointed in my direction as he looked over my vehicle. No it was not mounted on his shoulder ready to fire, but was slung in front of him and pointed in my general direction as he gawked at my car. A couple of things were immediately apparent: He had gotten the rifle out of his vehicle once I pulled over to the historical marker, and more importantly that he probably is/was paranoid. The truth be told, a lot of things have changed since I was in the Border Patrol and the current state of affairs what with Washington basically allowing an invasion of our nation to take place is not one of the bigger changes - yes it was virtually the same when I was in 25 plus years ago. Sure it is worse today, but the invasion began before even I was in the Patrol and the politicians have allowed it. Things that have changed are: the number of armed alien and drug smugglers, the increase in disrespect for the law, and the worsening conditions in Mexico with regard to drug czars in essence running the border of that country.

Does any of that justify this knucklehead grabbing a rifle out of his truck simply because I pulled into the same parking area, on a public highway, as he and his fellow agent were using. I think not, I know that back in the day I certainly would never have grabbed a rifle in similar circumstances, nor would I do so even now on my current job. I made no suspicious or threatening moves, I did not exhibit sort of behavior that should have heated this guy up, I had my windows open and could easily be observed (it was a wonderful 68 degrees at the time), I stopped to look at the historical marker as might anyone else who was passing buy, I had Arizona plates on the vehicle I was driving, I was just another guy. Yet for some reason, in some way, it seemed appropriate to this agent to retrieve his rifle and then point it in my direction. Fuck that shit! This is a different Border Patrol than the one I knew. With a mindset like that among some of the BPAs I would not work for the Border Patrol today even if you tripled my salary - and my salary is quite a bit more than even that of a supervisory Border Patrol Agent.

Don't get me wrong, I feel their pain. I can understand their being on edge all of the time. I know that we need to get tough on people and drugs illegally crossing our borders. Hell if you read any of my stuff on illegal aliens you know I am pro enforcement of our sovereignty and I support the U.S. Border Patrol 100%. Yet there was no need for such a display of force today although I can understand the underlying anxiety (or even the paranoia) that triggered it; and I know the agents are not at fault for creating that monster. We truly need to keep the pressure on the politicos in DC to get something done to correct the situation to secure our Borders and to keep our nation and our citizens (including Border patrol Agents) safe because as things are now life for an LEO on the border sucks. That my friends is my short commentary (based upon my personal opinion) on the conditions of LE at our borders.

All the best,
Glenn B

Sunday, May 17, 2009

My First Chance To Attend An NRA Convention...

...and what happens but I had to work Friday, Saturday and today. Yep, here I am in Tucson, only a stones throw (so to speak) from Phoenix where the NRA convention was held this weekend and I missed it. If you want to read up on blogs by some of those who attended I know that The Anarchangel went, and that Cap'n Bob & The Damsel also attended. I suppose I will have to experience it through their blogs and I can only hope that if I am ever again that close to where one is held I will have the chance to make it. At least my upcoming schedule has me off for the upcoming gun show at the Pima County Fairgrounds on May 30th & 31st. Brendan should be here then for a visit too, so that should make it extra nice.

All the best,
Glenn B

Sometimes It Pays To Have A Sharp Eye In The Desert

For instance, if you take a look at the first picture I am posting in this blog, you will probably see what looks like a view off to the side of a mountain trail were run off has cleared the larger debris from around some boulders. If that is what you think you see, well click on the photo to enlarge it and look at it again. Do you see anything else?

What do you mean you don't see anything different? Look closer and focus on the center of the picture. Yes there is a good sized flat rock right about at the center, but don't look at the rock - look on it. You should just about be able to make it out, much as I did while I was passing by along the trail on which I was hiking. Have you spotted it yet. It is a Yarrow's Spiny Lizard - one of the most beautiful lizards in the USA. They have an amazing amount of blue/green in their scales and when the sun shines on an adult male it looks almost like some sort of exotic jewel. Still though, they are not all that easy to see at any distance, heck they are only about 6 inches long - and this was was not highlighted by the sun. I saw it though, and so can you if you peer long enough, or if you look at the next pic.

Yeah, I know, the picture kind of sucks; but the thing is at least now you can see it if you were not able to see it before. When you hike trails here in Arizona, whether they be up in the mountains - like where I took this photo at just above 7,000 feet - or at lower elevations in the desert. it pays to keep a sharp lookout as you walk along. because you can never be quite sure of what you might come upon. Same goes when you are driving.

For instance I was driving down a road out in the middle of nowhere, when I stopped to avoid crushing this creature. Yeah - you have to see yet another of my crappy photos to see what I mean. This time it is not as easy as seeing the lizard was in the first pic above is it! What do you mean you don't see anything but roadway. Yeah that's right it is tough to see, and I was driving at about 35 mph when I saw it, and it was not moving. Not that my eyes are any better than yours but I have sort of trained myself to keep at least one eye on the roadway for such critters. Click on the pic to enlarge it and look closely, you will see the little booger near the center of the pic (hopefully it will enlarge enough). That one is a Tucson Banded Gecko. It's a creature of the night, they come out and hang out on roads to warm up at night since the blacktop retains heat longer than the surrounding ground. Look at it again, then compare its size to the gravel in the blacktop and ask yourself if you would have seen it at that speed. It blends in pretty well when viewed from above like in this photo, but truth be told it kind of stands out when you know what to look for.

Of course there are some other creatures out there in the desert that you do not necessarily need to see first to know that they are there if only because they give you a warning of their presence, well sometimes anyhow. If one of them decides to remain quiet, well then you had best hope that you notice it by way of a sharp eye, otherwise you might feel something else sharp - as in a venom filled fang. This one is a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake. You definitely want to know that this guy is nearby before you get too close. While most of them will retreat at your approach, some will not, and you definitely do not want to get tagged by one of them. Their bite can be fatal to an adult human in excellent health let alone someone who has medical problems of any sort. Even if not fatal the bite causes extreme pain, terrible necrosis of the flesh in the bitten area, and can lead to amputation if envenomation occurs. I say IF because not all bites by rattlesnakes envenomate; they can control whether or not they release their venom and dry bites are not all that uncommon. Still though, I would rather keep my eyes open and avoid a bite in the first place. By the way, this one was abut 3 feet, and it did not rattle as I walked over to it to take the picture. It did rattle a little bit when I got closer and prodded it lightly with my walking stick. In fact it made the infamous S-curve with its fore body, rattling and retreating as it did so. Smart snake not wanting to waste venom on a defensive bite when such is much more useful to it to capture dinner.

I would have liked to have been able to have cropped these to better highlight the animals but as things would have it the computer at my hotel does not have photo editing software - neither does the one in my office out here (go figure). So much for not owning my own laptop for travel.

All the best,
Glenn B

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The New Me...

...or is it the old me coming out of its shell. I mean after all this is the new me at 15 pounds lighter, 15 pounds of excess blob I had carried around for years. I still have a long way to go but I imagine that hikes like the one I took yesterday - 9 miles in all - will help me to keep shedding off the pounds. That and not snacking more than once a week on junk food snacks. Now some may think it Narcissistic of me to post pics of myself here as I lose weight, and maybe it is just that, at least a little bit, but I don't care what they think anyhow. Yes I am feeling good about myself, and yes I am sharing that sentiment, and so what do I care if some think it self centered. You see, it is self centered, and I am quite pleased with myself but no enough to think I am the end all - be all. I am just happy and feeling better about shedding some flab. I am also pretty happy about having hiked 9 miles yesterday with a 25 pound pack on my back, that and the several pounds added by my sidearm and extra ammo and my walking stick. I would love to live here in or near Tucson; I'd hike like that at least weekly on average. By the way, I hiked the Madera Canyon area on the Super Trail to Josephine Saddle, then took a side trip to McBeth Spring, then back to the parking lot - 9 miles in all.

All the best,


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

I Have No Idea What Type Of Cactus...

...this is, but I think you will admit that the flower - even though apparently not fully open - is pretty impressive. Just another interesting shot from along the Pima Canyon Trail near my hotel here in Tucson. Click on it to view a bigger view of it.
Somehow, I thought the flowers would have all been gone by now but I got this shot on May 1st. There are still lots of cacti blooming all around here in the mountains and valleys. maybe if I am really lucky I'll be able to get some shots at of some Hummingbirds in action while attending one of these beauties. I did see a hummingbird plucking small gnats or flies out of the air on Saturday as I rested from a hike. I never knew that ate anything but nectar; but I guess it stands to reason they need some protein. At first I doubted what I saw because of my vision but I put on my glasses and the bugs were back-lit so as to make them stand out from the background as they buzzed around so I know what I saw when I saw it. The Hummingbird would hover a few seconds, then dart forward and snap its beak and gobble down a gnat. It had amazing accuracy and got one each time it tried. It flew off after about 20 or so such morsels. Of course that flight coincided with me grabbing for my camera to record the event. Next time I will be ready for it.
All the best,
Glenn B

Monday, May 4, 2009

As The Lizard Saw Me...

I may have been just another big tempting meal that it wished it could eat. They were out and about in pretty good numbers, along with some others, but most were not quite as cooperative as was this one in letting me get as many shots. This one was fairly brazen and stayed around while I took several shots of it with my little point and shoot Canon on full auto mode. I am 100% sure, but am still fairly certain, that this is a Greater (or was it a Lesser) Earless Lizard, and since this one looks so darned faded I would say it is the subspecies known as the Faded Earless Lizard. I got this shot on this past Saturday along the Pima Canyon Trail.

Of course I would have been too big a meal for that lizard of only about 6-7 inches or so, but lizard apparently sometimes bite off more than they can chew. Here is a pic, of what I think was a Tree Lizard (Ornate Tree Lizard) and it apparently did just that, that is bit off more than it could chew. Egads, what a way to go. Then again, probably not a bad way for a lizard to bite the big one (yes that was an intentional pun). It probably was pretty much in ecstasy thinking mmm what a scrumptious morsel, and then can figure the rest. As for the bug, I suppose it too may have been thinking a nice sized meal was about to be had, heck the lizard was not all that much bigger than it.
For those of you who are old enough to remember the original Addams Family on TV in the 60's - does this remind you of the Marlin with the person's lower leg and foot sticking out of its mouth. It sure struck a bell with me, a warning bell to take human bites!
All the best,
Glenn B

Saturday, May 2, 2009

As Things Would Have It...

I was all ready to blog tonight and just came to the business center in the hotel. I sat down ans started to log on, then realized i was not wearing my glasses. Guess where they are. If you guessed back in my room, well let me just say I hope you are right because I put them on top of my car when I got done hiking this evening. Hopefully I took them off of the car's roof and brought them back to my room. So as it is I am typing in a not quite blind state, but certainly a very blurry one. With that said let me just add that I had a great exercise and nature hike yesterday and another slower but just as good nature hike today. I got what I believe are some decent pictures of two or three species of lizard, and one interesting one of a lizard in a bizarre state that I will wait to comment on further until I can edit the pic for posting on the blog. I am working through either Wednesday or Thursday so it may be a while, but I will do my best to post again sooner than later; and next time will have my glasses right where they belong.

all the best,
Glenn B