Ever heard of barklice?

We have a large tree in our backyard which has barklice. Sounds bad, huh? When we first noticed it, it looked like I would have to make another trip to Home Depot to ask the guys in the garden department what this was. I took these pictures of it.

It looks like a long spider web and travels up into the top branches. Click on the pictures and you will see better details. So before heading out to Home Depot, I did some research first. I found it is not caused by lice or spiders, but by a small bug about an 1/8″ in size. This little critter eats algae and fungus and has no ill effect on the tree. I remember earlier seeing algae growing on one side of the trunk, which then became covered with barklice, which has since moved elsewhere. So since it is not a deadly organism that will kill me dead if I touch it, I touched it and found it to be like fine fur.

Mother Nature is an incredible Woman, yet what we know of her is minuscule. I often think of those who pass on before us and wonder how amazing it must be to see how all the Universe is connected.

Next time I want to tell you about a recent chicken I sacrificed with a can of beer up its butt.


Action from the Backyard

As the previous postings told, the birdfeeder has many creatures taking advantage of the free food. Unfortunately, the squirrels are chasing the birds away and gobbling up the seed. The below image I captured capped off my anger for them. It’s as if they are taunting me.

So my research has told me that I can use safflower seed, as the squirrels do not have a taste for such, or I can add cayenne pepper to the seed. Since I had just purchased a large bag of seed, (not safflower) I have to use this up first. So, it’s the cayenne pepper.

Now, if you are like me, your first thought would be, doesn’t the birds mind the spicy taste of cayenne? Well to determine this idea, I took about quart measure of the seeds and added cayenne to it, and poured it into an empty bird bath in the yard to see what critter would eat it.

A sparrow came in first and touched the seeds here and there while looking all around for cats, dogs, humans and the occasional pterodactyl, then flew away. I realized the bird bath was too close to the ground. So I scooped up most of the seed and went ahead and put it in the feeder.

So, while sitting in the sunroom at my writing desk, watching the backyard, I spotted a squirrel at the bird bath chowing down. So, my thinking is I did not put enough cayenne in the seeds, but it gave me an opportunity to use my slingshot and some paint balls.

If you are like me, you are thinking I have perfect shooting abilities with the slingshot after dealing with monkeys, barking dogs nine floors down and the unsuspecting pedestrian on their way to the subway in Sao Paulo; not to forget the occasional police car at the intersection below, but not so. When I unpacked my slingshot, I decided to replace the bands. I ordered some red ones which anyone would think has got to be better that the regulator yellowish ones. But they are stiffer and I will have to get used to them before I am a deadly shot like I used to be.

But I took the opportunity to try my luck at the squirrels while they were feasting at the bird bath. Below is a picture of the bird bath and my shots. Not perfect, but I will eventually get there.

If you look closely at the image above, you will see where my paintballs hit. They are circled with a kinda red circles, but you will also see a squirrel that was accidentally captured in the image.

I am convinced the birds don’t mind the cayenne as shown in the video below.

All I can do, is keep up the good fight. Will let you know more when I know more.

An Addition to the Damn Bird Feeder

Eventually, the software started identifying the bird species. It is not very accurate as it keeps trying to tell me the squirrels are birds. Last count, it identified them as 17 different species. I could get more accurate identification by having my daughter doing it from 1700 miles away. (crow flight)

This bird feeder camera has the ability to share with others. Since my wife’s sister who lives down in the Southern Hemisphere loves birds, we sent her the link so she can watch them in live time. To make this even more interesting, her little 6 year old daughter also finds it fascinating so she watches them almost continuously.

But the little niece has discovered a microphone icon on the screen that enables her to talk to the birds & the damn squirrels. So, she sits in a house 5000 miles away (crow flight) and talks to birds and the damn squirrels in my backyard. I haven’t been out in back to hear her, but it find it fascinating. … the little stinker.

As you can see in the image, the feeders of the feeder has emptied the feed again, and I filled it the day before yesterday. I found my nefarious slingshot and now trying to find where I put the 68 caliber paint balls (red). When I do, I will sit outside with whiskey and cigar and patiently wait for one of the squirrels to come and feed again,  …. after running back to Walmart to get more feed, or course. I just need to make sure the little niece doesn’t see me.

Unfortunately, there is a side effect to this scenario. It seems when she is watching the feeder, I cannot connect to the live camera. It appears only one viewer at a time can watch; but that itself is inconsequential as I love the idea she is talking with them from 5000 miles away (crow flight)

Find the fascination of things in Life and you will never be bored.

As We Age …

We tend to become like our parents.

Remember how Mom and Pop would sit and watch the birds?

I purchased a bird feeder with a built-in camera. It would have been the perfect gift for them, especially for Mom in the past few years to be able to sit in her house and see what birds have come to feed in her yard. This model has an AI (artificial intelligence) that can identify up to 6000 species.

So, below are some of the videos taken of the birds:







Now if you are sharp-eyed like me, you noticed that one of those is not a bird, and you would be correct.

The camera is amazing, but most unfortunately, the software is not. I have not been able to get the AI to identify the birds. So, even though I noticed one of those is not a bird, the software didn’t notice any of them. I am communicating via email with the manufacturer and so far I am not pleased.

But I find myself thinking how MotherDear would be in awe at seeing birds like this in her yard, even if the software is not working.

I will keep working.

BTW, they finished off all the seed I had in it, so back to Walmart.

Arisaka 99

With the Internet it is easy to do research on items I find interesting. Back when I was just a gleam in my Dad’s eye, my uncle brought back a Japanese rifle from the Pacific Theater. I asked an engineer of Japanese descent at the manufacturing plant I worked at if she could interpret the insignia. She said it means, “Model 99.”

That just fed the interest in finding out more about it.

With the help of a decades old book and the Internet, this rifle is called Arisaka Model 99. There is a fascinating history to it I am going to share with you unless you fall asleep.

Its predecessor was a different caliber. The one my uncle brought back is a 7.7mm caliber, which equals to .303 inches, whereas the previous version was a 6.5mm, or .256 inches.

The decades old book I have that is pre-Internet, points out that the Japanese army went to the 7.7mm (commonly known as 7.7 Jap) so that if any of the Allied forces captured any of their 7.7mm ammunition and tried to shoot it in their 7.62 (30 caliber) rifles, it would cause over pressure and destroy the rifle. And if the Japanese captured any Allied ammunition, they could shoot it in their 7.7 mm rifles. It would not be too accurate but would work.

So I am in possession of my uncle’s rifle (with bayonet) which I heard over the years was a training model. Those models have no rifling and cannot fire a real cartridge. I was happily surprised, even to the point of giddiness to find this rifle is not a trainer. It has rifling and not only that, I purchase a box of 7.7 Jap ammo from the Norma Manufacturing and have shot 10 of the cartridges through it.

History books say that in order for these rifles to enter the US, they had to have the imperial ownership seal, a 16-petal chrysanthemum known as the Chrysanthemum Flower Seal stamped on top of the receiver in all official imperial-issue rifles, filed down. See below. This rifle unfortunately had it removed.

Because the Japanese are little people (do not confuse with Munchkins), the butt of the rifle is short and has a metal butt-plate, so it tends to want to jam itself into the shoulder of a grown Texas man, really hard.

Further research says this rifle is a low pressure weapon designed for only 38,000 psi. The modern day rifles usually tops out at about 56,000 psi. So when I fired the cartridges from Norma, I noticed the primers were flattened. Now I realize I probably lost you there, but understand it means the cartridges from Norma are for high pressure rifles.

So I acquired a Lee-Loader® so I could reload the cartridges to a safe pressure. I used the 7.62 mm (30 caliber) bullets and used less powder. It was not an accurate load but would hit a pie-pan at 100 yards without a scope.

That is actually impressive for an undersized bullet, So if the Chinese or Russians attack us, I will pull the 7.7 Jap from under the bed and head into battle. If any of you want to join, please send me your name, address and phone number.

P.S. Bring your own rifle, … and your own snacks.


Thank God for Shenanigans … and Serial Killers

A few years back, without realizing it I became a person who no longer gave a $h1t on issues in life. I blame it on being an old retired fart who has seen much and heard too much BS in life which has no bearing on the real world. (think: Will Smith/Chris Rock fiasco). But to maintain sanity, I still cling to my shenanigans, something I never knew existed until Pop said, “No damn fool shenanigans.” – and he was serious!

I didn’t look up the word but relied on my personal expert analysis of life to understand and appreciate its meaning.

I decided it is perfectly acceptable to pull off innocent shenanigans provided:

  1. No one is harmed.
  2. It costs no money.
  3. The action remains anonymous.
  4. I can get away with it.

Let me explain examples of shenanigans over the past years.

I worked at a manufacturing plant years ago where bosses would drive around in little three-wheeled golf carts so they wouldn’t have to walk. When I found one that was parked outside a building, I would jump in it and turn it around. They would come out of the building and see it headed in the wrong direction and wondered if they parked it that way.

1. No one was harmed.  2. It was free.  3. The action remained anonymous.  4. I got away with it.

When I saw a jacket or lab coat hanging up, I would put something in the pockets. I once put a couple of dandelion flowers in one. A rock in another. I usually had loose items in my pockets such as screws, blown fuses, a short piece of wire and believe it or not, I once came across a small frog that I scooped up and placed in a coat pocket.

Again: 1, 2, 3, 4

When I was a welder, there was a crazy cowboy who insisted on using the whole table to spread his lunch on, leaving just enough room for my sandwich.

Years ago, my late brother who was a master of shenanigans, taught me how to make Nitrogen Triiodide (NI₃). For those who are unfamiliar with NI₃, it is an easy to make contact explosive from ammonia and tincture of iodine. It is a very corrosive mixture that is harmless until it dries, at which point, it is very sensitive. I made up a nice batch of it and smeared it on the latches of his lunch box. When he placed his box in the middle of the table and proceeded to open it, BANG! It left a blister on his thumb. He was totally baffled but knew I may have had something to do with it. Couldn’t prove it.

Again: 1 (well, maybe not 1) but 2, 3, and 4.

In High School, I placed the NI₃ in pencil sharpeners, under the pads of commode seats and in padlocks on lockers. I had a teacher who had a small desk bell like the one you find at hotel counters. If the class got too noisy, she would tap the bell, “ding!”, and everyone would stop talking to see what that “ding” was. I placed NI₃ under the little clapper of the bell. I believe it was the fourth period when I heard the bang followed by a strange ringing sound, followed by a long scream that went down the hallway.

2, 3, 4.

When I lived in Brazil before moving back to Texas, I used a slingshot smuggled through the mail system to me by an unscrupulous sibling. There are more tales of usage by the weapon, er. instrument than I have time to tell. But there was one time I sat on the balcony late one night and watched the people meander toward the subway. One individual was about a half a block away when I sent a marble flying down the street. Didn’t hit him, but he stopped to look where it came from. I stood in the shadows of a fourth-floor balcony. Every time he turned toward the subway, I sent another marble. This took place at least four times until he was too far.

1, 2, 3, 4.

Okay. There are many of these stories, but let’s look at others.

I have a good friend whose father was as onery as his son. His name was Orville. Once when he was using a power saw, Orville cut his thumb pretty bad and went to the doctor to have it sutured up. Afterwards he asked, “Doc, will I be able to play the piano?”

Doc said, “Well there will be dexterity issues at first, but within a few months I feel you will be able to play with no problems.”

Orville said, “That’s great Doc. I always wanted to play the piano.”

1, 2, 3, 4.

A little girl I knew who lost her first tooth, told me she placed it under her pillow, and in the morning there was a quarter! I told her that once when I was a little boy, I had a fist full of quarters that I was afraid my brother would steal when I was asleep, so I put them under my pillow. The next morning, when I woke up, I looked under my pillow and found a bunch of teeth!

1, 2, 3, 4.

My wife is currently learning English. I told her she needs to get into the habit of speaking Texan.

Examples include:

Yeah huh.  Yeah boy! Over yonder.  And it is Colder than a Well Digger’s Butt.

I told her when some kid tells her their goldfish went over the Rainbow Bridge, tell them, “No, your fish just kicked the bucket.”

1, 2, 3, 4.

There are so many shenanigans in life, that if it were not for them I would be in an Insane Asylum.

Speaking of Insane Asylums, shenanigans remind me of one of my favorite games to play when I am with several people in a crowded area. Back in December I was at my sister’s wedding and after everyone was content with good food and drink, I went to the bar where two bartenders were standing at the end talking.

I told them, “I need your help with something.” They both perked up and I told them, “Somewhere in this room is a serial killer. Who is it?” Right away they scanned the crowd and within 5 seconds, they both pointed to a man in a striped shirt. “It’s him.” they said in unison. Before I could find him in the crowd, they said, “He hasn’t been to the bar yet.”

So, if any of you are a serial killer, be sure and get a drink at the bar. That is how I do it.

Thank God for shenanigans and serial killers.