July 30, 2007

Simpsonize Me!

It's official. I have been Simpsonized. The process is surprisingly painless, and only takes a couple moments. In no time, you are discovering your inner Simpson. Anyway, it's a pretty cool site. And just in time for the new movie. Many of the reviews I've read say it's like a good, extra-long episode. Which is about as much as I assumed it would be. Most people seem pretty pleased with the movie, so we'll probably go see it. I just can't get that excited about it. I mean, I watched the show religiously back in the 90's, but have almost forgotten it's still on. I think I lost interest around the time of the "Who shot Mr. Burns?" broo-ha-ha.

I Simpsonized Sonja, too. And I must say she looks better than I do as a Simpsons character. Anyway, I probably won't be updating my blog much more until next week. We're headed to Minnesota for a family reunion-type thing. We'll be camping at Lake Carlos State Park, the site of many family campouts, not to mention the first place I was allowed to spend a night with a friend totally unsupervised. I am determined to get up on one ski for the first time this week as we buzz around the lakes. So, that means look for some fun photos from the Land of 10,000 Lakes sometime early next week.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with a couple more Simpsonized pictures. The site lets you place your Simpsons Self in various settings. Here's what I chose for the two of us.

I chose the domestic scene for Sonja cuz I didn't think she'd fit in very well in a nuculer power plant. Although, I suppose putting her in front of the school would have been appropriate now that she's enrolled in NAU's graduate school.

I could have chosen a couple better scenes to place myself than Krustylu Studios...like Comicbook Guy's store, or something equally geeky. But they didn't have that option.

July 27, 2007

Aren't Deserts Usually Dry?

I guess this one isn't. At least not during the monsoon season. It's pretty crazy just how wet it's been lately. This afternoon we had a helluva thunderstorm which dumped a butt-load of rain over only about an hours time. 45 minutes later we get a call from the National Weather Service asking to keep an eye on Beaver Creek, since it had just crested at Montezuma Well and they wanted us to let them know when it crested at the Castle.

Another 45 minutes later, the creek suddenly transforms from a tiny little bubbling brook into what you see below over a span of approximately five minutes.

I'm kinda liking this whole monsoon thing. I've been pretty amazed at how regular the cycle is once it sinks into the area. Clear skies in the morning, but by 2pm the thunder starts to roll. Then by 8 in the evening it clears back up. It's done that practically every day for the last two weeks now. And after nearly 30 days of high temps over 100 degrees, we've finally gotten a break. Haven't hit triple digits now for six days. I'm liking this late summer desert climate!

July 22, 2007

Leaping Lizards, Batman!

I always find it annoying when bloggers comment on how long it's been since they last posted. So I'm not going to do that this time. Instead, we'll just pretend that I have filled the last sixteen days will a multitude of witty and interesting posts. Soooo....

Anyway, today was a good lizard day. It's always nice when you experience a good lizard day.

It all started because I got to spend the first half of my work day at the Well. I spent part of it wandering around the trails looking for reptiles, and I wasn't disappointed. While I could have photographed many more species today, for some reason these three lizards peaked my curiosity. So, three lizards from three very different subfamilies (you can click on the name of each lizard to see more info about them).

Greater Earless Lizard
Cophosaurus texanus
First up is a species I see all the time along the rim of the Well, and practically nowhere else in the valley. From the subfamily Phrynosomatinae, this colorful lizard is one of my favorites. If you get too close, it runs a short distance, then stops and lifts/wags its tail at you, a behavior that is intended to inform predators that the lizard has spotted them. I suppose this could discourage a fox or bird from expending the energy needed to catch it. This guy decided rather quickly that I wasn't a predator. Instead he seemed impressed by how manly I am and tried to intimidate me into getting out of his territory by doing push-ups and extending his blue and yellow gullar fold (the flap of skin on his throat).

Desert Grassland Whiptail
Aspidoscelis uniparens
Running around next to the Greater Earless Lizard was this female whiptail, a member of the subfamily Teiidae. I know for a fact that it is a female because there are no males at all in this species! The eggs are completely unfertilized and all offspring are merely clones of the mother. And, get this...in order to provoke egg-laying, two female whiptails will simulate copulation (mating), with one acting as the male. So much for homosexuality being unnatural! I think gay-rights activists need to start spreading the word about Arizona's lesbian lizards. Take that, Fred Phelps! I wouldn't be surprised if Fred started a website called www.godhateslizards.com if he ever learned of this. However, since he's nothing but an ignorant, hateful bigot, I'm not worried about any impending anti-lizard campaigns.

Madrean Alligator Lizard, (juvenile)
Elgaria kingii
The grand finale of the day was this tiny little member of the subfamily Anguidae, which includes both glass and alligator lizards. We saw this one slithering around along the trail near our house during a walk with the dogs. I had absolutely no idea what it was initially, although I did notice that it moved alot like the other alligator lizards I've seen. As you can see if you click on the link under the picture, adults and juveniles look very different. So it's not surprising that I was confused. This one was definitely the highlight of the day. It's legs and feet were so tiny, and it moved so snake-like, we weren't even sure it was a lizard until I picked it up.

I'm hoping to get some better lizard photos when we finally get around to buying a real camera (which will hopefully be sooner, rather than later). Until then, here's a blurry glare from an annoyed alligator lizard.

July 06, 2007

Bryce Canyon and Eight Random Facts

Sonja and I just got back from exploring Bryce Canyon National Park over our 4th of July weekend. It was a long, six-hour drive, but considering the experience we had it was well worth the effort. This was the first time either of us had been to Bryce, and because it was the 4th of July we were expecting it to be packed. Fortunately, it wasn't too crowded. Sure, there were quite a few people at the overlooks, and a lot of totally unprepared hikers on one of the sections of trail that we explored, but we didn't have any problems finding a campsite or parking spaces. And we didn't even have to wait in line to get into the park.

I've uploaded a set of pictures to my flickr account, so you can either click on the picture above, or click here to view a slideshow of our trip's highlights. You'll see the same pictures either way. When viewing the slideshow, you can click on the "i" in the middle of the first picture to see the captions on each image.

Finally, I've been tagged for a blogging meme by Patrick, so now I've got to post eight random facts about myself.

Here are the rules for Eight Random Facts:

  • Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
  • People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
  • At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
  • Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

  • I bet you didn't know this... or maybe you did:

    1) I can recite the entire "Battle of Wits" scene from the movie The Princess Bride by memory (I memorized it while in high school cuz I believed people would think it was cool...which it is, by the way);

    2) I won second place in a fencing tournament in Fairbanks five years ago;

    3) I won first place in my 5th grade science fair for a project involving ruining several of my mom's cooking pots by growing crystals in them using all sorts of nasty chemicals (like copper sulfate).

    4) I played tuba in high school (and some in college) and marched in the 1990 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, CA;

    5) One of the first things Sonja and I learned about each other is that we both experience hand-swelling during long hikes;

    6) I've visited 49 states (it's Rhode Island, in case you were wondering), and lived in twelve (MN, IL, ND, NC, VA, NM, CO, AK, NH, WY, ID, AZ);

    7) I once got stuck on a conveyor belt for two hours while chasing my brother through a sandpit near our house (don't ask); and,

    8) I know from first-hand experience that daddy long-legs taste like spearmint.

    Ok, now I guess I need to tag some people: