A Welcome Break

I didn’t set out to do a Saturday Surprise post this week, for I’m working on two posts of a more serious nature.  But, when I popped over to The Guardian to get some additional information for one of those posts, I was drawn by their weekly feature, The Week In Wildlife, for its teaser had a giant panda resting in a tree, and I’m a sucker for cute pandas!  So, after scrolling through the pictures, finding several delightful ones, I decided the serious stuff could wait for a bit and we would start our weekend off with a bit of appreciation for the wonders of nature!

A bee is attracted to the pollen of poppies at Walker Canyon in Lake Elsinore, Los Angeles, US. Officials announced that the popular poppy fields will be closed until the wildflower bloom has subsided Photograph: Ringo Chiu/Sopa Images/Rex/Shutterstock

A male wreathed hornbill in Khao Yai national park, Nakhon Ratchasima province, Thailand, just before Valentine’s Day. The hornbill is the symbol of eternal love in the country Photograph: Chalinee Thirasupa/Reuters

A koala at a rehabilitation centre in Namadgi national park in Canberra, Australia Photograph: Jonas Ekströmer/TT/Rex/Shutterstock

An endangered white-tailed sea eagle flies through the snow after capturing a fish in the Namdae stream in Gangneung, South Korea Photograph: Yonhap/EPA

Horses on the Yudaokou pasture in Chengde, Hebei province, China Photograph: Xinhua/Alamy Live News

A robin welcomes February sunshine in Duddingston, Edinburgh, UK Photograph: Arch White/Alamy Live News

Wild goats roam close to the city in heavy snow near Tehran, Iran. In cold weather wildlife comes closer to urban areas looking for food Photograph: Amin Mohammad Jamali/Getty Images

A woman takes a photo of a swan on the Grand Canal in Portobello, Dublin, Ireland Photograph: Artur Widak/NurPhoto/Rex/Shutterstock

Tawny owls at the SSPCA’s national wildlife rescue centre in Fishcross, Clackmannanshire, UK Photograph: Colin Seddon/PA

A flock of birds flies past the silhouettes of pedestrians crossing Saint-Pierre bridge in Toulouse, France Photograph: Charly Triballeau/AFP/Getty Images

Plum blossom in the snow at Xiangshui Lake scenic area in Beijing, China Photograph: VCG/Getty Images

A giant panda dozes in a tree at the conservation and research centre for giant pandas in Wenchuan, China Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock

A monkey eats yoghurt from a clay pot discarded by people at a marketplace in Delhi, India Photograph: Sajjad Hussain/AFP/Getty Images

A flock of snow geese about 50,000 strong takes off from the Middle Creek wildlife management area near Kleinfeltersville, Pennsylvania, US. A new strain of the H5N1 bird flu virus is spreading through flocks Photograph: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

An endangered monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) caterpillar prepares to shed its skin as it starts to form its chrysalis in a garden in Christchurch, New Zealand Photograph: Sanka Vidanagama/NurPhoto/Rex/Shutterstock

Milu deer forage in the snow at Daqingshan national nature reserve in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, China Photograph: VCG/Getty Images

A yellow-vented bulbul feeds on an insect at Garden by the Bay in Singapore Photograph: Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty Images

I hope you enjoyed the critters this morning … isn’t nature awesome?  Have a wonderful weekend ahead, my friends!

Saturday Surprise — Uniquely Interesting Critters!

I thought we could all use a short break from the world of news & politics this morning, so I popped over to Bored Panda to see if I could find us some cute critter fun, and LO & BEHOLD!  I found some!!!  Just a few cute critters with some unique traits and habits to, hopefully, bring a smile to your face before you start out on your weekend chores that might include a bit of Christmas shopping this weekend.

Some of these are animals you’re already familiar with, but have unique features or traits you may not have known about, while others are likely new to you!

Here’s Twinzy, A Half-Sider Budgie, Half-Siders Are Budgies With A Condition Called “Chimerism” Which, In Genetics, Means That It’s The Result Of Non-Identical Twins Fusing Together Early In Their Development To Become One!

Although It Takes Newborn Elephants Only A Few Hours To Master Standing And Walking, They Need 1 Year To Figure Out How To Use Their Trunks To Drink Water

The Resplendent Quetzal Is A Sacred Symbol In Mesoamerica And Guatemala’s National Bird, Pictured On The Country’s Flag. They Favor Eating Fruit In The Avocado Family, Eating Them Whole Before Regurgitating The Pits. Essentially Making Them The Avocado “Gardeners” Of Their Forest Habitats

The Maned Wolf Is The One Of Largest Canid In South America. This Species Is The Only Member Of Its Genus. Although Technically, It Is Not A Fox Or A Wolf. Its Long Legs Are Likely An Adaptation To The Tall Grasslands Of Its Native Habitat

The Wild Iberian Lynx Population Has Increased Tenfold In The Last Two Decades, From 94 Individuals In 2002 To 1,111 Lynxes In 2021, A True Success Story Owing To Conservation Efforts And Public Awareness. Listed As “Endangered”, The Lynx Lives In Fragmented Wilderness Areas In Spain And Portugal

The Olinguito (Bassaricyon Neblina) Made Global Headlines When Scientists Announced Its Discovery In 2013, A Notable Event As This Was The First Carnivore Described In The Western Hemisphere Since The 1970s. It Is Native To The Forests Of Colombia And Ecuador. This Is A Photo Of A Baby Olinguito

The Indian Giant Squirrel Can Grow To A Full Length Of Over A Metre

Blue-Footed Boobies Have Bright Blue Feet Due To Their Diet, And The Level Of Brightness Shows How Healthy The Bird Is To Their Mate!

Bat-Eared Foxes Sleep Mostly During The Day In Their Burrows And Emerge At Dusk To Feed Mainly On Termites And Other Insects. As You Can Guess, They Have An Incredible Sense Of Hearing

Gray Wolves Eating Blueberries; Wolves Actually Covet Berries And Other Fruits, During Their Growing Seasons Berries Can Make Up 80% Of Wolf Packs’ Diet

Hey, maybe that explains why I love berries — blueberries, raspberries, blackberries — I always knew the wolf was my spirit animal!!!

The Appaloosa Is An American Horse Breed Known For Its Distinctive And Colorful Leopard Complex-Spotted Coat. Each Horse’s Color Pattern Is Genetically The Result Of Various Overlay Patterns On One Of Several Recognized Base Coat Colors. This Particular Appaloosa Is Sporting A Peacock-Leopard Coat

This Is A Baby Giraffe, Giraffes Are The Tallest Mammals On The Planet. Baby Giraffes Usually Will Be Able To Stand And Walk Within 5 Hours Of Being Born. They Stand Most Of Their Life And Need Very Little Sleep. Plus They Have The Most Adorable Babies

The Tufted Coquette Is A Hummingbird That Breeds In Eastern Venezuela, Trinidad, Guiana, And Northern Brazil. The Male, Pictured Here, Has A Rufous Head Crest And A Coppery Green Back With A Whitish Rump Band That Is Prominent In Flight. Tufted Coquettes Are Known For Being Quite Approachable

The Male Of The Purple-Gold Jumping Spider (Irura Bidenticulata) Is Recognized By Its Striking, Shiny Magenta-Gold Patterned Body. It Was Discovered In 2011 In Southeast Asia. The Purple-Gold Jumping Spider Typically Measures 5–6 Mm. It Is Not Considered Harmful To Humans

Costasiella Kuroshimae (Leaf Sheep) Are Capable Of A Chemical Process Called Kleptoplasty, In Which They Retain The Chloroplasts From The Algae They Feed On. Absorbing The Chloroplasts From Algae Then Enables Them To Indirectly Perform Photosynthesis

Well, that’s all I’ve got for today, folks.  Have a wonderful weekend!


WARNING:  This is a rant, and one for which I make no apologies.

Humans comprise only 1 of 2.12 million species on the Earth today that we know of.  Some scientists believe there are actually somewhere between 5 million and 10 million species on the planet.  Think about that one for a minute … we are not the ‘be all and end all’ of the planet, although it seems we are trying very hard to end life on this planet for most all species including ourselves.  The one thing that humans take the #1 place for, though, is arrogance.  Humans evolved and at some point, decided that they are the most valuable, superior species on Planet Earth.  To that end, mankind has somehow concluded that it is his “god-given right” to kill members of every other species either for food or for sport.

Do you remember a man named Greg Gianforte?  He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 2017-2021 and is now the governor of Montana.  But what Gianforte is most famous for is beating up a member of the press, Ben Jacobs of The Guardian, simply because he didn’t like the question Mr. Jacobs asked him regarding his view on health care policy during his 2016 campaign.  Gianforte tried to claim that Mr. Jacobs had grabbed his wrist, but that was proven to be a bald-faced lie by witness testimony and recordings of the event.  In the 2016 election, Gianforte was elected despite (or perhaps because of?) his assault on the reporter … says something about the state of Montana and its people.

Gianforte lasted only four years in Congress but is now the governor of Montana and never has there been a more despicable example of the human species.  What has he done now, you ask?

It happened last December 28th when Gianforte decided to commit murder.  The 5-year-old mountain lion was wearing a GPS-tracking collar that Yellowstone biologists use to monitor the rare and elusive predators. Park staff knew the animal by its research number: M220. I have no idea what gave Gianforte the notion that what he was about to do was in any way fair or honourable, but what he did was chased the mountain lion with hounds until it ran up a tree for safety, at which time Gianforte and his friends shot and killed the lion.

Look at this face … isn’t it far more beautiful than that if its murderer, Greg Gianforte?

There was no ‘fair fight’ … Gianforte and his group had 4 bloodhounds and hi-powered guns that could cover a distance far greater than the lion could, while the lion had only his claws and teeth and he could not possibly have gotten close enough to cause so much as a scratch on any of those so-called ‘men’.

This was far from the first murder Gianforte has committed upon other species. Less than a year earlier, Gianforte killed a Yellowstone wolf in a similar area that was also wearing a tracking collar, prompting an outcry among environmentalists.  On October 28, 2000, he was fined a measly $70 for violating state Fish and Wildlife Commission rules by killing an elk. In February 2021 while governor, he violated state hunting regulations when he trapped and shot an adult black wolf known as “1155”.  This sorry excuse for a ‘man’ believes he has a ‘right’ to murder innocent animals for trophies!

Gianforte grins as he shows off his “trophies”

Gianforte has four children … this ‘man’ should NEVER have been allowed to reproduce!  Why isn’t this ‘man’ in prison???  He committed a crime … a crime against this entire nation, against all inhabitants of this planet!

While I believe that Gianforte is among the very worst examples of the human species, there are others vying for that title.  In a period of just under six months last year, hunters shot and trapped 25 of Yellowstone’s wolves — a record for one season — the majority killed in Montana just over the park border. The hunting has eliminated about one-fifth of the park’s wolves, the most serious threat yet to a population that has been observed by tourists and studied by scientists more intensively than any in the world.  The Republican-controlled legislature in Montana passed laws mandating a decrease in the state’s wolf numbers and allowing hunters to catch wolves in neck snares, hunt them at night and lure them with bait, sometimes chopping off the animals’ feet and heads, among other atrocities.

A wolf’s carcass left to rot by murderous hunters

I’ve long said, only half-jokingly, that if I get the chance to come back to Earth again, I’m coming back as a wolf.  I still hold that hope, for I’ve always felt that the wolf is my ‘spirit animal’ if such a thing exists, but today I hope that if I do return to Earth as a wolf, it is almost anyplace other than the United States!  People here love their guns and are so damned arrogant that they believe they are superior to every other species and that it gives them the right to murder members of other species.  Heck, I won’t even kill an ant or cricket I find in my house if there’s any way to rescue them and return them to nature!  Apparently I am an anomaly among the human species, at least in this backward nation!

Meanwhile … no, humans, you are quite possibly the most flawed species that exists today.  You fight against doing those things that might ensure the survival of yours and others’ futures here on Earth, but would rather keep driving your big cars, keeping your house the perfect temperature, and buying more and more ‘boys toys’ — guns to kill, to murder.  To murder … helpless wolves, mountain lions and other beautiful animals who have never harmed you in any way.

Saturday Surprise — For The Birds!

Well, folks, it’s Saturday and time to give our brains a brief respite, to relax and find something enjoyable to focus on.  In that vein, I have discovered a wildlife photographer, Tim Flach, who has done some truly amazing work.  He has photographed endangered species, does commissions to photograph family pets, but the collection I want to share with you today is … birds!  Not just any ol’ birds, mind you, but some very unique birds that Flach has captured to perfection. 

For more about Tim and his other works, including his two books, Endangered and More Than Human, visit his website

Meanwhile … take a look at these gorgeous birds!

The Himalayan Monal is the national bird of Nepal.

Blue Tits are a common sight at bird tables in the U.K. Researchers found that the British put double the food in bird feeders than our European neighbours, which they believe is contributing to some bird species developing longer beaks.

This for me, is the Salvador Dali of the bird world. When it comes to the length of the Peruvian Inca tern’s moustache, longer is healthier. A longer moustache indicates a stronger immune system and therefore a more attractive proposition for courtship.

The Gouldian finch from Australia for me is one of the most colourful of all finches. I was fortunate to have a model on the day that permitted me to come so close, sometimes times too close, as it decided to land on my head a number of times rather than to stay on his perch.

Silver Laced Polish Chicken

Northern red cardinals are adept songsters, with individuals being able to produce more than a dozen song variations. This particular cardinal had a fair bit of attitude, as though he could have flown straight out of Angry Birds.

The beautiful crest on the heads of cockatoos is one of the things that sets them apart from other parrots. However, they share the longevity of many members of the parrot family, and have a very similar life span to humans.

I spend days travelling through the Mountains on the Philippine islands looking for this eagle, and in the end I photographed it at a rescue sanctuary. The Philippine Eagle has one of the largest wing spans of any eagle, at 2 metres, and is only found on the Philippine islands, where it is the national bird. IUCN: Critically Endangered

The Jacobins are one of the oldest domestic pigeon breeds in the world, originating from India. Their arrival in Europe during the 16th Century is what sparked their evolution into the fashionable exhibition birds we see today.

This long-tailed broadbill can be found from the Himalayas to South East Asia. He reminds me of a fighter pilot – but a lot of you seem to think he looks like Elvis – with his helmet-like black cap and sleek blue patch on their crown.

The Jacobin received its European name because it’s hood of feathers resembles the garments worn by the Jacobin order of monks. For others it resembles a lady in feathery clothing.

The Victoria Crowned Pigeon is considered the largest of the living pigeon species, and can be found on mainland New Guinea. The only larger member of the pigeon family would have been the Dodo.

The Toco Toucan’s bill is the largest relative to body size of any bird and it can be used to regulate heat distribution similar to elephants ears. While sleeping, heat loss can be reduced by placing their bill under their wing.

The Jacobin’s probably the most regal pigeon, having been kept by the likes of Charles Darwin and Queen Victoria. It gets its name because of the hood of feathers enveloping it’s head.

During breeding male Cock-of-the-rock take part in “confrontation displays” which is rather like a dance battle with other males which gets more and more frenzied as the female approaches.

The Grey Crowned Crane, from Southern and Eastern Africa, has a reputation for being rather short tempered and can potentially take ones eye out with a single peck. When he started pecking at my camera and seemed intent to start on me, I didn’t hang around!


The Mayans once believed that the King vulture was the messenger between gods and people. Contrary to the common association between vultures and deserts, the King vulture inhabits the dense forests found in South America up to Mexico!

Vultrurine Guineafowl hens can lay up to 40 eggs per season – this might be one of the reasons that this bird is not a threatened species! They are found in the bushy half-deserts of Eastern Africa and spend most of their time running rather than flying.

This domestic duck is a Crested Miniature. Comb-like structures around the edge of their beak allow them to strain through the mud for food such as insects.

The Nicobar Pigeon is the closest living relative to the Dodo. They are a threatened species hunted for food and their gizzard stones are extracted for jewellery. They are a nomadic species moving from places like the Nicobar islands in India to other coastal regions in Southeast Asia.

Bearded tits are the only British songbird to stay and breed in reed beds all year round. There are less than 600 breeding pairs of bearded tits found in Britain, most likely because they are limited by habitat, building their nests low down in the reeds. A group of bearded tits is called a ‘banditry’.

This Silver-Laced rooster has come to symbolise, in Polish literature and art, a country gentleman from medieval Poland. I took this photograph at the Federation Championship Poultry Show last week.

Hooded Vulture


Just one short snippet for this Sunday morning, for I am both exhausted and discouraged and most anything I write is going to come out surly at best.

Mr. Greg Gianforte first popped onto my radar in May 2017 when he beat up a reporter … yes, physically beat up Ben Jacobs, a reporter from The Guardian during a campaign event.  The fools in Montana elected him to the U.S. House of Representatives anyway, and last year they went one better and elected him as the governor of Montana.

Beating up a reporter who was simply trying to ask a question is a serious crime, one worthy of some prison time and certainly not one to be taken lightly, as the people of Montana have apparently done.  Gianforte had a history of abusing and damning the press even before the 2017 event, and he does not, obviously, have the temperament to be in government … in any position.

But what he did last month is, to me, worthy of a life-long prison sentence.  He committed murder.  Yes, murder … for no good reason whatsoever, he trapped and killed a black wolf in Yellowstone National Park.  Now, I’m in a rage because of what he did to the wolf … a collared wolf, meaning he was under the protection of the park.  Others, however, are only upset that Gianforte didn’t take a mandated trapper education course before murdering the wolf.  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.  He was given a warning, no fine, and is being allowed to keep the beautiful victim’s head and hide for … bragging rights?  The wolf, No. 1155, was born in the park, was estimated to be 6 or 7 years old and had been collared by park biologists in 2018.


This wasn’t Gianforte’s first murder, either, for in 2017, the same year he beat up Ben Jacobs, he murdered a bull elk and was given only a warning and a $70 fine.  Okay, as far as I’m concerned, we can cut Montana out of the United States map, if people there are stupid enough to first send this evil idiot to Congress, then elect him to the governorship, and not care that he murders beautiful, defenseless animals.  Gianforte, by the way, received a written warning.  He better hope that when I come back to earth as a wolf I don’t land in Montana!

And now I shall go howl myself to sleep …

howling wolf

Saturday Surprise — Critters From Down Under

For the sake of my sanity, I need Saturday Surprise this week as much as you guys … anything besides impeachment just for this morning, please!  Well, you guys know where I turn when I’m stressed and need a smile, right … CRITTERS!

When we think of Australia and critters, a few come to mind right off … kangaroo, wallaby, koala … but there are many more critters that are native to Australia and I thought it might be fun to take a look at some of them.

More than 70% of Australian wildlife is found nowhere else in the world, but sadly much of it also is vulnerable, threatened, or endangered. The 2019-2020 bushfires didn’t help, destroying over 18 million hectares (approx 46 million acres) of land, and it is estimated that it killed over 1 billion animals. 😢  And a few endangered species are now facing the risk of extinction especially with the loss of habitats. So, let’s learn a little bit about these (mostly) cute critters.

(Header image:  Wombats have very interesting butts. Not only do they produce cubed poop, they also protect themselves from predators by diving into their burrows and block the entrance with their butts. Their bottom mostly consists of cartilage that is resistant to bites and scratches.


Quokkas have been labelled one of the friendliest animals on the planet because of their cute smiles. They will even happily live in big groups without being territorial and have no problems with sharing food or shelter with other Quokkas. But even though they are pretty friendly, they are still wild animals and will scratch and bite if they feel threatened. It is prohibited to touch them and can result in a fine, as irresistibly cute these creatures are DO NOT TOUCH.


Galahs can travel in flocks of 1000 birds and are known to fly at 70km/hr. Since these birds main diet is seeds, They are vital in helping with seed dispersal by dropping germinated seeds into other areas.


These beautiful birds are often considered the bullies of the birds as they chase and pick on other bird species. Male and female rainbow lorikeets are pretty much identical so the only way you can really tell is by a DNA test. Their diet mainly consists of nectar and pollen.


These leafy sea dragons can only be found off the coast of South and East of Australia. They are near threatened due to divers taking them home as pets but are now protected. They have no known predators because of their spiny fins and camouflage. Whilst they are closely related to sea horses they cant grip onto things with their tails and they mainly drift in the current than propel themselves with their fins like sea horses do.


The fairy penguin is the smallest in the world. They are the only penguins to breed in Australia but have found themselves to be a great target for predators. Which makes them highly dependent on human intervention and protection and not just humans but one specific colony relies on Maremma sheepdogs to protect them from foxes. They even made a movie about the first dog to look after the penguins, called “Oddball”.


Red bellied black snakes are one of the most encountered snakes and are responsible for a number of bites annually. But they are generally a shy snake and will usually slither away or stay still in the hopes of not being seen. Most victims of bites suffer mild symptoms with very few cases needing hospitalisation. There have been no confirmed deaths from a red bellied black snake bite.


This colourful octopus is the only octopus that is toxic to humans. So much so that they can kill 26 adults within minutes. When they flash their blue rings it is because they are NOT happy so you should stay away, although best to keep away from them in the first place. In saying that there have only been very few deaths from this tiny octopus. The blue ringed octopus is very small, reaching the size of a golf ball and love to hide under rocks and inside shells.


The cassowary is considered one of the deadliest birds but in fact there have only been two recorded human fatalities from a cassowary, one in 1926 and the other in 2019. These birds have talons that look similar to a velociraptor and is one of the reasons the cassowary is often called a “living dinosaur”. They are fast runners, high jumpers and good swimmers so it’s best to steer clear.


Koalas solely live on eucalyptus leaves and spend up to 4-5 hours eating, the rest of the time they are sleeping (approx18-20hours a day). Sadly koala chlamydia is quite prevalent so there are sterilisation programs to stop infected koalas from procreating. The biggest colony of koalas that is not affected by chlamydia is on Kangaroo Island, but after the 2019-2020 bushfires there has been a huge decline in koala numbers and are now considered endangered in many parts of the country.


Kookaburras are part of the kingfisher family but do not need to live near water and don’t really eat fish. They mainly eat small animals like mice, chicks, lizards and insects. They have a very distinguishable sound, which is a bit like a laugh and often call loudly during dusk and dawn.


The pig-nosed turtle is the only surviving member of it’s family, which are the only freshwater turtle with large paddle like flippers. Their shell is not hard but is in fact leathery feeling.


The blue-tongued lizard is the largest member of the skink family, when they feel threatened they will puff up their bodies, sticks out it’s tongue whilst hissing. Whilst they don’t have the best teeth, they do have a powerful bite and tend not to let go.


The bilby is a nocturnal animal about the size of a rabbit. They have poor eyesight so rely on their sense of smell and acute hearing. The bilby is kind of an Easter icon in Aus as you can get chocolate Bilby’s just like the bunnies and a portion of the sales gets donated to Bilby conservation programs/organisations.


Numbats are one of only a few marsupials that don’t have a pouch. They have about 4 babies and the young attach themselves to the teats for the first 5 months. Then the mother will dig a burrow for them to finish their development and will stay in there until around late spring, where they will leave and go off on their own.


Potoroos are mainly solitary animals and are also non-territorial. They are nocturnal animals but have been known to come out during the day in winter months, particularly on cloudy days foraging for food. The potoroo is the oldest species of the kangaroo family and have undergone little changes, essentially becoming a living fossil.


The frill on the neck of the frill-necked lizard can reach 30cm (12in) in diameter and is erected by cartilage spines that are connected to the jaw bones. They unfold their frill during mating to get rid of excess heat and also as a defence with a bit of a hissing sound too. They can also run pretty fast upright on their hind legs.


Tasmanian devils are the largest living carnivorous marsupials with an estimated 544kg (1199lbs) of bite pressure per square inch so they can crush bone. Sadly tens of thousands of Tassie Devils have died since the 90’s from starvation due to a contagious disease that causes tumours to grow around the mouth area, making it hard to eat. Tasmanian Devils can only be found in Tasmania in the wild but many wildlife parks and zoos have them on the mainland.


The flying fox (megabat) is the largest flying mammal in Australia with a wingspan of over a metre. They are vital in the survival of many native plant species as they are major pollinators for over 50 types of trees. They are pretty harmless but if you get bitten or scratched seek medical attention as they can carry the lyssavirus which is closely related to rabies.


Just like the Platypus, the Echidna is also a monotreme (egg laying mammal),. The female deposits a single egg into her pouch and 10 days later a baby echidna hatches, which is called a puggle. Echidnas are solitary animals but will meet to mate and spend about a year looking after their babies.

These are only some of the fascinating wildlife found in Australia … for more, hop over to Bored Panda and check out the rest!

Saturday Surprise — B

Good morning, and welcome to the Weekend! You guys have big plans for the weekend?  We’re having a joint birthday party with our neighbors Maha & Ali and kids this evening, so I’ll be in the kitchen most of this day.  Daughter Chris’ birthday was last Saturday, and Maha’s was on Sunday, but we were all busy doing other things last weekend, so we’re celebrating together this weekend.  I was going to put a number of candles on the cake equal to their combined ages, but as Natasha pointed out, it would be a fire hazard, and anyway, can you imagine how long it would take me to light 93 candles???  Anyway … I had to go to Kroger for a few things yesterday … November 1st and let me tell you … Kroger did not waste a single second switching from Hallowe’en to Christmas!  Christmas nuts, Christmas candy, Christmas lunch cakes, napkins, paper plates, baking stuff … ay ay ay!!!  Could we please have a little break in between holidays … and anyway, what happened to Thanksgiving???

I had heard the term “Social media influencer” a few times recently, but paid no attention and gave it no further thought.  Until last night, that is, when while searching for something to enchant you this Saturday morning, I came across a very special little ‘influencer’, and thought I should at least figure out what was meant by the term.  Now sure, I know that an influencer would be somebody or something that has influence over another person or people, but these days, social media has a language all its own, so I did a bit of digging.

“An influencer is an individual who has the power to affect purchase decisions of others because of his/her authority, knowledge, position or relationship with his/her audience. An individual who has a following in a particular niche, which they actively engage with.”

Okay, not much different than I would have thought, and it sounds like not much more than Marketing 101.  But, today’s Surprise is a very special influencer and her marketing efforts are for a very good cause – to raise money to save the bees.  Bees are the most important living thing on Earth, due to 70% of the world’s agriculture depending on them.  Frighteningly, bees are now an endangered species, with recent studies showing a dramatic decline in the insects’ numbers; almost 90% of the bee population has disappeared in the past few years.

Enter Fondation de France, an independent administrative agency established by the government for the purpose of saving the bees.  They have set up a charity, Bee Fund, and an Instagram account for the subject of today’s Surprise, an adorable little CGI (computer-generated imagery) bee called, appropriately, B.  B has more than 122,000 followers today, and B aims to save the world by generating ad revenue via social media and then donating everything to the Bee Fund charity.  Let’s take a look at a few of B’s pictures … I think you’ll enjoy her.  Please do take just a minute to visit Bee Fund’s site … I found a lot of information about the declining bee population there, as well as the things being done to try to save the bees … it’s well worth the visit.


“Yo guys! So, name a thing you love.
Chocolate? I make it.
Ice-cream? I make it. 
Coffee? Always me.
Broccoli? Me again.
Clothes? Still me. 
We are behind most of the things you use everyday! And 24% of bees are dying every year.This is bad for us, but terrible for you as well dear humans… Are you ready for a world without chocolate?”


“I love to read and reply to your comments on my posts from my bathtube! Ask me questions in the comments: I will answer to EVERYONE! (As long as water stays warm)”


“Je vois la vie en rose. Maybe I should think about painting my hive in pink.”


“I might not be in a museum, but I’m Mother Nature’s masterpiece.”


“It is essential to save the planet… And the bees too! Both are threatened and trust me, it would be terrible to live without bees. Thanks a lot for demonstrating today, it was really nice to see you all and let’s keep up the fight!”


“Afternoon at the Sacré-Coeur! Where should I go for my next painting?”


“I spend so much time in my bathroom every morning… Ladies what is your morning routine?”


“I am so happy to work on my next partnerships and I can’t wait to share it with you!”


“On my way to the Montmartre’s 2019 grape harvest festival! Did you know that without bees there would be no wine? We pollinate plants and flowers that are essential for vineyards’ health.”


“Watering my little plants! Tips for humans: always keep flowers on your balconies, we might stop by to say hi.”


“What a better place than your bed when it is rainy outside. Even though it’s very important for nature, I’m not very much into rain because it frizzes my hair!”


“Great game with my friends today! (Haha just kidding I went there just to take pictures for my Instagram.)”


“Heading into the weekend like..”


“I’m not like Pablo, but I try to do my best…”


“Trying to get a little tan before going back to work.”


“Are you ready for the Pride, Paris?? I can’t wait to march with you.”


“Check out that side bee…”


“If you love to eat, you have to celebrate World Food Day! My sisters and I are behind most of the food you eat everyday. Are you wondering which ones?”


“Finally back home and working late today but it’s worth it.”


“Today I visited @FondationdeFrance, together we are working on my upcoming partnerships. From this flower of their balcony, I feel more than motivated and thanks to you all, we will save the bees.”

It Started With A Letter …

In my personal email this morning, I received one that floored me …

Dear Jill,

Sorry to see you have promoted little Greta… the most incredible and complete shill to hit the news in some time…. Just as ‘Climate change’ is one of the the biggest hoaxes to ever be perpetrated on this planet…. just pay Al Gore your carbon tax and we can all breathe a little easier.  PLEASE…For God’s sakes do some research on this issue.




He included a link I could follow, presumably so that I could do that “research on this issue” that he recommended.  The link was to a site called “anticorruptionsociety” — sounds like a fact-based, scientific site, doesn’t it?  I did not click on the link, not because I’m so close-minded that I don’t read opposing opinions – I actually do.  But, I have no idea who this person is and the source seemed questionable.

My initial reaction was … I wanted to strike back … I wanted to reply to his email and ask him when he escaped from the mental hospital.  I wanted to tell him that in fact Donald Trump is the most complete “shill” to hit the news.  But, sigh, I know that the best response is no response, so I have not and will not respond.  Still, this letter, first thing this morning, set the mood for my day, and I have found it impossible to focus, to settle in to finish any of the posts I have started.  And so, I shall ramble for a bit, if it’s alright with you guys.

It isn’t that I’m thin-skinned and can’t take criticism … if that were the case, I wouldn’t write this blog!  I can fight fire with fire and have often fought rhetoric with facts.  But … the denial of climate change is something else altogether, for the deniers are not reasonable people and they bend or ignore facts to suit their purposes.

All the talk about the economy, Trump claims the economy is strong, but still wants the Federal Reserve Board to lower interest rates yet again.  Hopefully, Jerome Powell will stand his ground, for it would be very foolish to lower the rates at this time.  But, the fact is that if we continue to ignore the environment, the economy is not going to make one damn bit of difference to anybody.  Which would you rather have:  a million dollars, or fresh air to breathe, water to drink, and food to eat?

The United States, since Trump took office, has done less than any other western nation to address environmental issues.  In fact … it has done nothing.  Under President Obama, we were on the right track, though we still had a long way to go.  But, Trump has undone almost every environmental regulation that was put into place under the Obama administration.  Just yesterday, he announced that he is planning to roll back rules on methane emissions, a major contributor to climate change. It’s the 84th environmental rule to be targeted by President Trump.  Why would he do that?  A number of reasons …

  • He is so jealous of President Obama that he is hellbent and determined to undo everything he did
  • He is deeply indebted to his campaign donors who mainly asked for two things: tax cuts, and a rollback of environmental regulations
  • He is a fool

I see a couple of possible outcomes to this perfidy.

The first, and best-case scenario is that in just over 14 months, this nation elects a new president and replaces enough republican senators that environmental issues will once again be placed at the top of the priority list.  We re-join the Paris Climate Accord and work cooperatively with the rest of the world to try to solve the problems, largely eliminating fossil fuel use, expanding renewable energy sources, promoting improvements for electric vehicles, banning toxic chemicals, finding alternatives to single-use plastics, protecting wildlife, and more.

Another scenario, however, is if Trump is re-elected and continues to hasten the demise of the planet.  Think about it this way.  Say you live in a neighborhood where everybody tries to keep their yards tidy, most have flowers, shrubbery, and green grass.  A new neighbor moves in and every single day he throws his trash in everybody else’s yard.  How long will it be before the neighbors take action against this one slovenly neighbor?  Not long, I think.  If Trump continues to disregard the environment while other nations are working to try to bring it back into balance, don’t you think that eventually they will take action against the U.S.?  Think about that one for a minute.

sad-imgThose who truly believe that climate change is a hoax are delusional, most fall in line with the conspiracy theory of the day and are largely irrelevant.  It is, rather, those who do understand that there is a problem, but refuse to address it that are complicit in the destruction of the earth.  For some, they “live for today” and to hell with tomorrow.  For them, greed has overtaken caring.  For others, they believe that one morning they will awaken and find that their god has miraculously cleared the air, removed all the plastic from the oceans, removed the chemicals from our water and soil, re-forested the rain forests, and put everything back to rights.

We talk about the economy, about health care, about infrastructure and building walls, but in truth, there is only one issue on the docket, for if we do not take drastic action to address climate change, none of the rest will matter … not one bit.


Climate Snippets

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the environment, about climate change and the way we’ve ignored it for so long that we are now in a crisis, and the way so many are still ignoring it, placing their convenience, their profit before the future of life on the planet.  People buy the best locks, outfit their homes with security systems, alarms, cameras, keep a gun in the nightstand … all in the name of protecting their family.  But yet … those things … they cannot protect against the impending climate crisis, and they refuse to do a single thing to protect the air we breathe, the water we drink, the land and sea from whence comes our food supply.  Why is that, I wonder?  Arrogance?  Lack of foresight?  Greed?  Ignorance?  Religion?  I don’t know, but I think we need to figure it out and act now, or it will soon be too late.

So, with that said, I thought it was time for a few environmental snippets.  I have notably not included the fires in the Amazon rainforest, for I am working on a separate post about that, probably for tomorrow.

She’s HERE!!! And She’s Speaking Out!!!

Greta Thunberg arrived in New York City yesterday.  Crowds had gathered for hours beforehand, ready to welcome Thunberg’s arrival on the unconventional solar-powered craft.Greta-ThunbergShe spoke briefly with the press before moving on … a few snippets from that speech …

“We need to stand together and take action because otherwise it might be too late. Let’s not wait any longer. Let’s do it now.  It is insane that a 16-year-old would have to cross the Atlantic to take a stand … [against] the climate and ecological crisis is a global crisis and the biggest humanity has ever faced.”

When asked if she had a message for Trump, she said …

“I say, ‘Listen to the science’. And he obviously does not do that. If no one has been able to convince him about the climate crisis and the urgency, why would I be able to?”

Ms. Thunberg will be participating in UN climate summits in New York City (September) and Chile (December).  And while she is here, she also is expected to participate in protests slated to start Sept. 20 as part of a Week of Action to pressure U.N. member states to make systemic changes that will reduce their planet-heating emissions, such as transitioning to renewable energy.

And speaking of the Global Climate Strike …

At least four major U.S. companies will close their doors on September 20 to encourage employees to take part in the Global Climate Strike in order to send a clear message that they will not conduct “business as usual” while the world’s children are demanding action to stop the climate crisis.climate-strikeBen & Jerry’s, Lush Cosmetics, Patagonia, and Seventh Generation all pledged support Wednesday for the strike, which millions of people of all ages are expected to take part in next month as part of a Week of Action before the UN Climate Summit.

“The climate crisis is a human issue—affecting all of us. We are inspired by the youth activists who have led a global movement, and Patagonia is calling for urgent and decisive action for people and our home planet. We invite the business community and all those concerned about the fate of our planet and humankind to answer with action and join us.” – Rose Marcario, President & CEO, Patagonia

Slowly but surely, some are actually getting it.  Not, of course, the fool on the hill …

The fool on the hill, the forest he will kill …

Tongass-2The Tongass National Forest covers 16.7 million acres of Alaska.  Not quite the size of the Amazon rainforest at 1.359 billion acres, but nonetheless relevant, as together with British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest in Canada, it is the planet’s largest intact temperate1 rainforest.  Well, guess what, folks?  Ol’ Donnie has ordered the U.S. Department of Agriculture to open Alaska’s 16.7 million-acre Tongass National Forest to logging, mining and other corporate development projects.Tongass-1Under the Clinton-era “roadless rule,” construction of roads were barred in the forest, thereby restricting commercial logging, energy, and mining projects (only certain road projects approved by the Forest Service were allowed).

The rule has faced challenges over the years, including by President George W. Bush who tried unsuccessfully to reverse it. Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy and Senator Lisa Murkowski, both republicans, have also called for Trump to exempt the state from the rule.Tongass-3The pristine forest includes thousands of islands along with glacial fjords and old-growth cedar, spruce, and hemlock trees — old-growth trees are those that have generally grown undisturbed for at least 120 years. The area supports countless wildlife, including all five species of Pacific salmon, brown bears, wolves, and Bald Eagles.

Listen up, people!  There are not enough trees to meet the oxygen requirements to sustain life on earth into the future as it is, and you want to chop and burn them down???  Where the Sam Hell are your brains, in your back pockets???

Give me trees over ugly buildings any day of the week.  The folks we have sent to Washington seem not to understand that the economy is not going to amount to a hill of beans if they don’t aggressively protect the environment.  Stupid people.

1 Temperate rainforests are cool, as opposed to tropical rainforests like the Amazon that are warm and moist. 

Last night, my friend Herb sent me a video clip by the Parody Project.  I had never heard of this, but according to the website …

The Parody Project was founded in August of 2017 by Film-maker/composer Don Caron, as a means of surviving the current political and social mire by laughing and helping others to do the same.

Others are more humorous, but this one is most relevant to the topic of the day  Please take just 3 minutes to watch it … you won’t regret it, I promise!

Stealing From ‘We The People’ … Again

We never get a break from the horrors of the Donnie Show anymore … rarely does a single day go by that there isn’t some new abomination to stir our ire, to cause a wtf to emit from our voicebox before we can catch it.  Today’s came before I was even out of bed, thereby jump-starting my day, though not in any good way.

There are a number of reasons that Trump was able to garner enough electoral votes to win the election in 2016:  gerrymandered districts, Russian propaganda, Hillary’s lack of popularity, and “The Wall”.  He fostered fear among the predominantly un-and-under-educated … fear of immigrants who, he said, were “bad hombres”, were rapists and drug lords, who must be stopped.  He alone, he said, could fix this, and his solution was … well, it started out being a “big, beautiful wall” along the southern border that “Mexico is going to pay for”.

Early on, like the moment he first said the words, it was clear that Mexico wasn’t going to pay for a damn wall or anything else.  Why should they?  Why would they?  So, that part of the conversation simply died, and Trump’s cheering section quickly forgot about it.  Now, 31 months into his term, the “big, beautiful wall” is to be an ugly black fence, and he is planning to steal from We the People to build said fence.  Before election day 2020.  Why?  Because it is the only thing, when all the detritus is set aside, that he proposed that rallied the masses in 2016, and as of right now, he has accomplished absolutely nothing.  It is a safe bet that the economy will be in worse, not better, shape by the time election day rolls around, so he needs something with which to appease his base.

The wall, or fence as it were, has been undisputedly proven by experts to be useless, unnecessary, and a colossal waste of taxpayer dollars.  That, in and of itself, would be bad enough, but now he is so obsessed with his damn fence that he is planning to steal from landowners, and steal money from disaster relief funds that exist to help people after such things as hurricanes, wildfires and more.

According to The Washington Post …

Trump is so eager to complete hundreds of miles of border fence ahead of the 2020 presidential election that he has directed aides to fast-track billions of dollars’ worth of construction contracts, aggressively seize private land and disregard environmental rules, according to current and former officials involved with the project.

He also has told worried subordinates that he will pardon them of any potential wrongdoing should they have to break laws to get the barriers built quickly, those officials said.

[Trump] has told senior aides that a failure to deliver on the signature promise of his 2016 campaign would be a letdown to his supporters and an embarrassing defeat.

When aides have suggested that some orders are illegal or unworkable, Trump has suggested he would pardon the officials if they would just go ahead, aides said. He has waved off worries about contracting procedures and the use of eminent domain, saying “take the land.”

The article goes on to tell of Trump’s insistence on painting the fence black, even though it will add significantly to the cost, simply because he likes the way it looks.  Billions of dollars will be spent, people will have their land stolen from them, and worse yet, irreparable damage will be done to the environment.  All so Trump can say he kept his promise … sort of … to his supporters.  It’s a fence, not a wall.  It’s being paid for by We the People, not Mexico.  It will kill flora and fauna.  And it won’t do a damn thing to resolve the issue of people crossing the border without proper authorization.

Tropical storm Dorian is brewing in the Atlantic, expected to strengthen to a Category 3 hurricane.  Puerto Rico, still struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria in 2017, is in its path, and then it is likely to head to Florida as it gains even more strength.  Will Puerto Rico once again be denied disaster assistance, this time because Trump spent all the money in the pot on his abomination of a fence … a useless fence?

It is my opinion that since this fence’s only real purpose is to give Trump bragging rights for his 2020 re-election campaign, the money for the wall should come from his campaign war chest.  Surely all his wealthy donors, all those people to whom he gave tax cuts amounting to millions of dollars, would be willing to chip in to ensure he pleases his gullible base with this ignoble wall?  Here’s what his top ten donors have given him …

  1. Robert Mercer, Renaissance Technologies – $13.5 million
  2. Sheldon Adelson and Miriam Adelson, Las Vegas Sands Corporation (LVS) – $10 million
  3. Linda McMahon, World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. (WWE) – $6 million
  4. Bernard Marcus, Retired – $7 million
  5. Geoffrey Palmer, G.H. Palmer Associates – $2 million
  6. Ronald M Cameron, Mountaire Corp. – $2 million
  7. Peter Thiel, Palantir Technologies – $1.25 million
  8. Walter Buckley Jr, Actua Corporation (ACTA) – $1 million
  9. Cherna Moskowitz, Hawaiian Gardens Casino – $1 million
  10. Peter Zieve, Electroimpact – $1 million

You want a wall fence, Donnie … pay for it with something other than our money!  Get your donors to up the ante by a few million each.  We the People have better things to do with our money, like providing health care to our citizens, repairing broken infrastructure, providing relief to Puerto Rico to re-build, providing funds to California when the inevitable wildfires hit later this fall, and finding ways to protect our planet for our children and grandchildren.  Frankly, we have more to fear from you than from immigrants crossing the border.