Two Videos to Make Your Heart Go Melty (Unless You’re a Hater)

Sometimes, things happen that remind me the world isn’t filled quite to the brim with assholes. There are plenty of good folk, too. And sometimes, I collect those things and share them with you.

First up, a commercial from a for-profit company that carefully considered some of their customers’ suggestions they hate the non-heterosexual folk and said, “Nah, we’ll go with making love from hate instead.”

Yes, of course I got teary-eyed. Are you kidding? And yes, the cynical will say that of course they laughed at the haters, as ten times as many customers aren’t haters, but this was a rather in-your-face rejection of the hateful message rather than just quietly letting the subject drop. So yes, Honey Maid will of course be my graham cracker of choice whenever I venture into culinary territory that requires them.

Next, we have got a mock-serious Irish ad warning about the gaypocalypse that will surely happen should same-sex folk be allowed to marry. They portray the actual dangers of passing marriage equality legislation. Nailed it. Before you watch, please finish all food and/or drink and remove anything spillable from around the computer, because you’re probably going to be howling with laughter and possibly pounding the table. Let’s not allow the gaypocalypse to claim another victim before it’s got properly started.

Unfortunately, I suspect there actually will be people barricading themselves in little enclaves and homeschooling their children in desperate fear that accepting people different from them will get them zapped by God. They will be as pitiable as the couple in the ad.

Want a bonus video? Of course you do! Here you are: the original hater song!

I don’t know about you, but I kind of feel they were unfair to gibbons… We shall make up for it with a desperately cute meme.

Image shows a cat being hugged by a monkey. Caption reads, "Teh monkee is gibbon meh a hugz."

Derpy Horses

I haven’t had a chance to do up our horsies properly, but we need a bit of the light stuff, anyway. And this year, the medieval faire cooperated. Usually, I get horses looking rather dramatic and awesome, or like serious workhorses, but this time round, I caught a few in moments of derp.

Image shows a dun horse with its tongue out.

[your caption here]

The above horse was brand-new, didn’t like the crowd noise or the festival atmosphere, and I believe in the above photo she was expressing her opinion of the proceedings. This was shortly before they called upon her to joust and she said, “Nope. Nope nope nope noper NOPE.” Smart lass.

Image is a pale gray horse with its head back, eyes rolled, and nostrils flared.

[your caption here]

This one gave us two moments of derp. There’s the above, and an even better one below:

Image shows same horse, now trotting away with its eyes closed and its bottom lip dangling in an attitude of extreme derp.

[your caption here]

I salute these noble steeds for their contribution to the world’s stock of derpy horse pictures. For the most part, they’re firey and fierce and majestic, so I know it took extra effort on their parts to get the derp done right. You can contribute by captioning!

If you’re local, do check their calendar and see when you might get a chance to go enjoy their live performances. Is anyone else around on October 5th? I’m rather tempted to go…

Who’d Like a Goode Olde Blacke Powder Explosion, Then?

Alas, I didn’t make it to Sunday’s festivities – Starspider put her knee out, and needed to stay off it so that we didn’t end up having to pop it back into place again on the field. People get squicky about stuff like dislocated knees. She, of course, enjoyed watching her roomie’s face as he nearly tossed his cookies helping her wrench everything back into place. She’s like that. And she’s fine, and sends her regrets. Next year!

While we wait for next year to arrive, I’ve got yer black powder guns a-firing.

Image shows the pirates from yesterday's post tamping down their black powder in their guns and getting ready to Make Noise.

Pirates prepare to plunder.

Unfortunately, the video can’t capture the ground shaking when that small cannon at the end went, but I think you’ll get the general idea. Enjoy!

That little cannon was sweet – and so loud! If you want a better look, here ye go:

Image shows a pirate bent over, tamping powder down the barrel of a small cannon on a wooden frame, while Pirate Jamie Hyneman looks on in the background.

Tamping the powder down, gonna be a big boom, yeah!

I wish I knew who these fellas were, but the website for the faire doesn’t say, and I didn’t grab a flyer. Perhaps Trebuchet knows?

I’ll have horsies and hurlers up soon, as long as no one else in the skeptical community says or does something outrageously awful in the next day or two.

Trebuchets! Horsies! Geology!

Sunny was the day and high our hearts as we parked in deep grass full o’ crane flies and waded into the 7th Annual Snohomish Pumpkin Hurl & Medieval Faire. And I could continue in the mock-epic language, but I’m not one of Terry Pratchett’s dwarves, so I think I’ll just give you some pictures and snarky commentary instead.

Like Trebuchet said, we only got to see each other for a few minutes, and the new onager had some performance issues, but it was still a lot of fun. Here is a bit of the onager posing with a Cascade mountain whose identity I don’t know because I am teh suck at maps and landmarks.

Image shows the arm and sling of an onager, with a dark pointy mountain in the distance.

The new onager, avec mountain.

It’s okay. He brought Mixed Nuts, too, and that one did its usual excellent job. I haz video. You can haz after I’ve done it up for ye. In the meantime, here’s a hawt action shot where you can see the sling rippling after having hurled its pumpkin.

Mixed Nuts in action.

Mixed Nuts in action.

I love that machine.

Last year, one of the things that disappointed B and me was that we’d missed out on cannons. Not this year! And it was extra-special:

Image shows a group of people getting ready to fire black powder guns. To the far right, there is a man dressed as a pirate with red-striped socks. He looks like Jamie Hyneman from Mythbusters. There's a finger pointing to him and a text box that says, "Pirate Jamie Hyneman." To his left is a gallant-looking pirate who seems to be taking a shallow bow beside a small canon. A thought bubble says, "Time for me aaarghncore." In the center bottom of the photo, a blonde girl with a crown is visible. Her thought bubble says, "It's good to be the queen...." To her left is a spectator in an ornate pirate outfit. He looks like Baron Munchausen from Terry Gilliam's Adventures of Baron Munchausen. The text box beside him says, "Totally Baron Munchausen."

We had many illustrious personages present.

You have absolutely no idea how much I love that photo. And I couldn’t even see what I was photographing. There were tall people in front of me, and I could only hold the camera above my head, click, and hope. We got lots of hawt black powder action, and you shall have video of it as well.

I didn’t get many good photos of the pumpkins hurlers in action – my timing was teh suck. But here’s a nice tableau with all the various machines for ye.

Image shows a line of trebuchets and onagers in order of descending size.

The contenders.

There weren’t many this year. What this means is, if you are at all interested in hurling pumpkins to their death with garage-built siege engines, you should build one this winter and have it ready by next fall. I WANT MOAR PUNKIN CHUNKIN ACTION!!

There were people in armor bashing each other heartily, as I so fondly remember from days spent with SCA members. No, the other SCA. The one that includes kilts, drinking, and people bashing each other with fake weapons. I am very happy with this shot of them:

Image shows two men in silver suits of armor. One has just thunked the other mightily, and the thunked one is in midair, falling.

I smite thee!

Alas, my zoom function was being a bugger, so there’s no larger image – I had to crop to achieve. But ’tis awesome.

Image shows same knights on the ground, one atop the other. The one on top has a text bubble saying, "And stay down." The one on bottom has a text bubble saying, "Verily, Ow."

Le aftermath.

I’ve got many lovely horse pics for ya, most of which I’ll post with the bit o’ video. But I wanted an iconic shot of the knight on horseback with volcano in the background, and this one is it:

Image shows a knight on a gray horse, holding a lance. The horse is in mid-whirl toward Mount Baker in the background, a green blanket with a black edge flaring around its rump. The knight holds a spear. It is very majestic.

Knight, steed, volcano.

That right there is all I’d hoped for. Marvelous!

Having said hello to our own Trebuchet, acquired some of the best jerky in the Pacific Northwest, snagged fresh-popped kettle corn, and seen a bunch of awesome stuff (including small children wailing on each other with foam swords, always awesome), plus all of the other action, and now suffering from heatstroke, B and I took our leave. Seriously, it was bloody hot. My legs felt like some evil child was aiming the sun at them with a huge magnifying glass. Since we hadn’t thought to bring sunscreen, we had to leave earlier than we might have wished. We headed back to B’s, where we watched the new all-women Ultimate Fighter, and I buggered off before Doctor Who, because I’ve not finished Series 7 yet because I’m having a hard time with the idea of saying goodbye to Amy and Rory, to say nothing of Eleven, but I’ll get there eventually.

I rounded out a relaxing day by reading people bashing Twilight and eating jerky. Seriously, people, if you’re a carnivore, order some of this. It is amazing, and they have many varieties, including kangaroo, which I may someday be brave enough to try. I hear the gator and the wild boar are also amazing. B will report back on the salmon soon, but I’m pretty sure it will make your mouth go into delighted spasms. I will certainly be getting more if Starspider takes me to the faire today. If you happen to be there, I’ll be the one in the olive green expedition hat with a mouth full of beef jerky. Come say howdy!

“Pew! Pew!” Adorable Woodland Critters Revealed

A rousing round of applause, please, for our own Onamission5, who identified our calling critters. Yep, them’s definitely Douglas Squirrels!

Image shows a small, gray-backed squirrel with a yellow-orange belly, clinging to a tree.

One of the Douglas Squirrels that was making so much racket.

And for once, I’m not squeeing all over an invasive species! These are Pacific Northwest natives. John Muir described them perfectly:

THE Douglas Squirrel is by far the most interesting and influential of the California sciuridæ, surpassing every other species in force of character, numbers, and extent of range, and in the amount of influence he brings to bear upon the health and distribution of the vast forests he inhabits.

Go where you will throughout the noble woods of the Sierra Nevada, among the giant pines and spruces of the lower zones, up through the towering Silver Firs to the storm-bent thickets of the summit peaks, you everywhere find this little squirrel the master-existence. Though only a few inches long, so intense is his fiery vigor and restlessness, he stirs every grove with wild life, and makes himself more important than even the huge bears that shuffle through the tangled underbrush beneath him. Every wind is fretted by his voice, almost every bole and branch feels the sting of his sharp feet. How much the growth of the trees is stimulated by this means it is not easy to learn, but his action in manipulating their seeds is more appreciable. Nature has made him master forester and committed most of her coniferous crops to his paws. Probably over fifty per cent. of all the cones ripened on the Sierra are cut off and handled by the Douglas alone, and of those of the Big Trees perhaps ninety per cent. pass through his hands: the greater portion is of course stored away for food to last during the winter and spring, but some of them are tucked separately into loosely covered holes, where some of the seeds germinate and become trees. But the Sierra is only one of the many provinces over which he holds sway, for his dominion extends over all the Redwood Belt of the Coast Mountains, and far northward throughout the majestic forests of Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. I make haste to mention these facts, to show upon how substantial a foundation the importance I ascribe to him rests.


From the nose to the root of the tail he measures about eight inches; and his tail, which he so effectively uses in interpreting his feelings, is about six inches in length. He wears dark bluish-gray over the back and half-way down the sides, bright buff on the belly, with a stripe of dark gray, nearly black, separating the upper and under colors; this dividing stripe, however, is not very sharply defined. He has long black whiskers, which gives him a rather fierce look when observed closely, strong claws, sharp as fish-hooks, and the brightest of bright eyes, full of telling speculation.

Yup. That’s our little fellas!

Here’s the video of one of our very own callers: brace yourselves for the adorableness as it tells all and sundry that this is its tree, thankeeverymuch, and no one is allowed to encroach.

And for more charming Douglas Squirrel action, plus a look at how the little ones battle:


Pew! Pew! Another Clue

All right, so far, we’ve got two votes for squirrels with frickin’ laser beams on their heads in our cute woodland critters going “pew pew” thread. That describes them to a T. However! As generally accurate as those guesses are, they do not have the specificity I’m aiming for (see what I did there? Aiming? Hur hur). So it’s time for the patented blurry photo of a woodland critter for you to identify!

Image shows a small gray and orange squirrel staring at the camera from the tangle of branches around the trunk of a tree.

Unidentified Woodland Critter

I know you can identify this little guy, my darlings. Mostly because you’re brilliant, but also because I had an ident after thirty seconds on Google, and I am teh crap at this zoology stuff. I’m still throwing it out to you lot, because I know you enjoy this sort of thing. And then one of you will be named! In a post! As the Person Who Got the Ident!

I can think of many things more prestigious, but hey, I can’t give you those. I can give you this.

Another, far less blurry picture, and also a killer-cute video, to come once I’ve given you a chance to do your thing. Identify away, my darlings! And I like the laser beams idea – is there anyone here who can manufacture little helmets with lasers for me to strap to squirrel noggins? We’ll run a Kickstarter.

“Pew! Pew!” Squeak the Adorable Woodland Critters

A few weeks ago, B and I did some more exploring around Deception Pass State Park. It’s going to take us a while to properly explore – the thing spans two islands and has a myriad of trails.

This being a hot day, we decided we wanted beach. There was definitely beach. Also, some geology that hadn’t been in any of my guides.

Photo of the map at the trailhead, showing the Pass, beaches, and a small lake.

Portion of Deception Pass State Park map, showing West Beach.

Now, take a look at West Beach, and see if you can tell me what I spotted about it that made me go, “Yay, geology!!!” What do you expect to find there, based on the shape, features, and elevation of the terrain? I’ll give you the answer in our next installment. But I’ll hint that I knew I’d find the type of beach Washington isn’t exactly known for.

As we walked the trails at West Beach, we encountered a bit of forest beside Cranberry Lake. On the map, it’s basically the tip of the loop trail, where you see the dude going walkies. It’s a charming, somewhat eerie little coastal forest, and it resounded with strange cries.

There’s nothing quite like little woodland critters going “Pew! Pew!” to put a huge ol’ grin on your face. Now, I’m going to give you a chance to identify them before I show you them. Well, show you one of them. I didn’t get the little critter’s buddy, but I did get some lovely video and still images of one of them, and you will squee yourself hoarse, they are so cute.

Image is described in post.

The forest within which our little critters dwell.

This is a very rich, albeit small, patch of woods. You can tell it’s quite wet, what with all the ferns, Old Man’s Beard, and spruce and such. I think I see a madrona, too. Put it like this: you basically can’t have much more than a square inch of land around here that hasn’t got twelve billion plant species on it, unless it’s a rock, in which case it’s only ten billion. Having come from a place where you could go ages without seeing anything very green, this is still sometimes a little overwhelming to me. And when you’ve got creatures in all those plants making adorable noises, well, I melt into a little puddle. Good thing for you lot I can still hold the camera in a melted state, innit?

A New Trebuchet! Hurling Pumpkins! And Knights! On Horsies!

Bit of late notice, here, but we’re going to be enjoying the pumpkin hurling and jousting this weekend at the Snohomish Pumpkin Hurl & Medieval Faire. Our own Trebuchet will be there, with a hawt new trebuchet!

Image shows a trebuchet with a jack o lantern in its sling.

Trebuchet’s new trebuchet, locked and loaded! Shamelessly filched from Trebuchet, with permission.

B and I are planning on coming on Saturday, and Starspider and I may do a second day on Sunday. Let me know if you’re local and can be there – we’ll meet up! And yes, I will bring you lots and lots of pictures and video, if you can’t make it. Live vicariously!

UFD: Hey, Hoomin – Whatcha Doin?

You remember my luck with birds, right? I mean, normally the little bastards just hide in the trees and chirp at me merrily, knowing I can’t get a look at them, much less a good photo. They sing all the more lustily as my frustration winds to a fever pitch. Then they wait for me to give up and put the camera away. Once I’ve done that, they come sailing out of their hidey-spots, and flaunt themselves a bit as I curse and grab for the camera. Once I have it out and on and look up again, the buggers have vanished once again, leaving a trail of titters in their wake.

I did have a hummingbird buzz me on the porch a few weeks ago, even hovering patiently for a bit until I looked up, then hovering a bit more so I could admire it, before buzzing off. I think that happened because I didn’t have a camera at the time.

In other words, my luck with birds is generally rotten, and we only get to have this series because I’ve got a good zoom on this camera and can sometimes manage to ambush the little fuckers. But I rarely have an experience with a non-corvid or sparrow-type bird that I had at Mount Rainier in early August.

B and I had taken the Upper Palisides Lake trail down to Sunrise Lake, because vigorous exercise is just what the doctor ordered, and we do sometimes try to get the recommended dose. We’d admired the scenery, like so:

Image shows part of a pretty little mountain lake from water level, with tall fir trees and rugged mountain ranges framing and reflecting off it.

Sunrise Lake

and were just beginning to head back to the spur to the main trail when I heard a rustling near my head, and B remarked that I was being checked out by a curious bird.

I knew the little shit would fly off as soon as I made a move, because I had the camera out and on, but I turned cautiously anyway, and…

Image shows a fir tree with a very curious tan-chested bird with a dark bar across its eyes staring at us.


There’s this curious bird which was not a corvid or a sparrow, and rather smaller than the former but larger than the latter, eyeballing us intently. It didn’t care a bit that we were humans and that it was wild. It didn’t seem to grok us as potential predators at all. And it apparently hadn’t gotten the avian memo detailing what to do in order to make Dana do frustrated noises.

I got a couple of shots in, quickly, as it jumped to a higher branch for a more panoramic look at us, and then it flew away.

Image is a gif showing the bird on a higher branch of the same tree, then the tree sans-bird.


I had just enough time to begin the “Aw, shit. Oh well, at least I got a couple of pictures” inner monologue before it landed on the tree next to B for further ogling.

Image shows the same bird, now above us on an evergreen bough. It has a very short pointy beak.


I was so afraid it would fly straight off that I didn’t give the camera time to do more than focus on it. I snapped before I could adjust the angle enough to deal with the weird late-afternoon lighting conditions that caused the sky to turn white in the camera’s opinion. But it’s a kinda neat effect.

I needn’t have been so hasty, because our birdie stayed up there for some time, happily inspecting us. And this final shot, taken before its curiosity was satisfied and it headed off to do its own thing, captured its attitude perfectly:

Image shows the same bird in the same evergreen bough, with its head tipped on its side.


Isn’t that the perfect, “Hey, hoomin – whatcha doin?” pose?

I’ve had crows and jays land nearby, check me out, decide whether or not I could be persuaded to provide food and/or entertainment. I’ve been stared at by sparrows, who are plenty used to people but are usually still skittish. And, as I said, there was that hummingbird, which for all the world appeared to be there simply to show off to the nearest available human just how awesome its hovering skills were. But this is the first time a bird in the wilderness that was not any of those things has expressed this much fearless interest. I swear, if I’d had something to feed it with, we’d have had a veritable Snow White Feeding the Birdies moment.

I hope you lot can tell me what species it is.

Hold My Calls, Pleez

I know, I’ve not been around much lately, and I’m afraid that’s going to continue for just a bit. I got sucked in to some rather intriguing sporkings, which also led to some new books, and I’ve pretty much been a 24/7 layabout. There will be payoff for you, I promise. I meant to have that for you this week, but then awesome personal life developments intervened, and well… I’m taking the rest of the week off. I’ll return next week, when we’ll restart our… well, interesting, if not exactly fun… Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education. I’ve got many posts written, just need to type them up. I’ll be introducing you to an awesome new earth science comic to ease your pain. It’s because I love you, and also because I got sent an advanced copy and fell in love with it.

This came up while I was searching for a suitable picture for this post, and I love it, and want you to have it:

Image is split in half. On the left, a woman is chucking her golden retriever under the chin, while a gray cat looks on in the foreground. On the right, the woman is smiling at her dog, and the cat is now looking into the camera with a disgusted expression. Caption says, "My cat disapproves of human/dog love... I didn't even know she could do that face..."

I covet that cat. What gorgeous green eyes! Misha’s got them, too, but of course she’s not all silvery-gray. The last Russian Blue (which I think is that cat above) we had got stolen by the neighbor’s visiting in-laws. Funny ol’ world, innit?

Summer’s almost over. Get your adventuring in while ye may, for those of you who still have some lovely days ahead. For those in the southern hemisphere, get out and enjoy the waning winter! Indulge in the things that make you happy, my darlings, and I’ll see you soon!

Image shows a winking white owl. Caption says, "Owl see you later."

If you have any special requests for the winter’s postings, please do let me know in comments.