I received this link with an email message stating that “Studies…have proven the connection between animal abuse, child abuse and domestic violence.” When I was a boy, I distinctly remember a group of bullies laughing at school one day about how they had thrown a kitten into the air repeatly while trying to shoot it with BB guns. These are the same kids that had complete disregard for other people and their property and would just as soon beat another kid up than look at him…basically the kinds of kids that perform criminal acts. It seems plausible to me that there is a connection between lack of compassion for animals and a similar lack of compassion for humans. So the request for a formal investigation, while it may seem on the surface to be overblown (since, afterall, it was merely a dog that was abused), is justifiable.


This Newsvine article is an interesting piece.  Whether or not it’s relevant to the 63 dead birds found in Austin last week is not the point — the cover-up is the point.

Yesterday, Mimi and I took a long walk around Town Lake, relishing the lack of cars on the streets (due to everything being closed by the icy weather — restaurants, even) and the dearth of foot traffic on the hike and bike trail. We were surprised at the bird activity all along the shoreline, from the de rigueur water birds (American coots, swans, cormorants, wood ducks, yellow-crowned night herons, great blue herons, etc.) to a swirl of activity in the leafless trees (cardinals, sparrows, mockers, and tiny ones that Mimi thought were kinglets, but wasn’t able to confirm without a field guide).

We were treated to a grand display of the natural order when we spied a sizeable hawk jumping from limb to limb through the twist of branches along the shoreline. We’re not sure exactly what type of hawk it was but have narrowed it down to either a red-tail or ferruginous. We thought maybe it was injured because of the way it hopped from one perch to the next, spreading it’s wings as it leapt, colliding with the tangled branches in it’s path, and then painstakingly folding its large wings once it landed. After a couple minutes of observation, it became clear that it was stalking the cardinals and mockingbirds flitting around the same branches. This is very strange way for such a large hawk to hunt — we suspect that it may be a juvenile, trying to score a meal any way it can! At one point it leapt and descended a few feet to the shore below, stood there a few moments, and then flew to a large, protruding limb high above. It paused for some time, looking around, and then it began to tear the feathers off it’s catch (a mockingbird, we think — without binoculars it was hard to know). We watched for a few minutes as it devoured its prey, but it became obvious that our presence concerned him — he kept pausing to check on us (or was he just chewing his food thirty times?) — so we left him to eat his meal in peace.

We always feel lucky to witness nature in action like this.

1/16/2007 12:31 PM (Belated posting.)

Being “trapped” at home is always kind of fun, as long as one has the basic comforts: heat, light, food, drink, and shelter. (It would suck to be homeless on a day like today.) I’m taking advantage of this down time by sorting through my several boxes of photos, scrap books, and other memorabilia that I’ve dragged from closet to attic to storage unit over the years. Our goal for this move is to depart Austin with nothing in storage, which means if it won’t fit in Laluna or Squeaker, it has to be eliminated. Our trailer is pretty much packed with things we need to live (like four seasons of clothing) and the van will be full of things necessary for my art business, leaving little room for “unnecessaries” like guitars and photos and scrap books. So I must pare down these things before the move.

I have strong pack rat tendencies (inherited from my grandmother, I’m sure, who left behind a house full of “stuff” when she died…like a closet chock full of unopened packages of bed sheets), and I have to work hard to keep from accumulating layers of personal detritus. And even though I’m aware of my tendencies, stuff still accumulates. So, this process feels really good – it’s liberating to let go of one’s possessions voluntarily. This doesn’t mean it’s easy, but like pruning a tree in season, I know it will be good for me.

Making this task more pleasurable is the fact that I don’t have to be anywhere right now — in fact, it’s better if I stay right here. And we’ve got a few movies from Waterloo Video, so I can watch groovy flicks while reading letters from old girlfriends or deciding which pictures to keep from a camp-out in the Ozarks 22 years ago.

1/16/2007 12:31 PM (belated posting)

Laluna is not built for winter. The Airstream Corporation (yes, they’re still in business and still making aluminum trailers) claims in the original promo literature that our 1984 International is a four-season vehicle. In fact, it would be very difficult if not impossible to live in it full-time in any place that has real winter weather. I bring this up now because Austin is in the midst of an ice storm, with daytime highs staying below freezing. While it’s not uncommon to have ice storms in central Texas every couple years, statistically the January lows/highs in Austin are in the 40s/60s, so we rarely have to deal with this type of cold spell.

With aluminum skin on the outside and inside of the walls and aluminum struts providing the wall structure, the mere 2” fiberglass wall insulation doesn’t reduce heat loss very effectively, compared with a regular house that has 4” or 6” insulated exterior walls. And these aluminum struts are excellent heat conductors, meaning that inside heat is transmitted readily through the struts. This is obvious when you see an Airstream after an ice storm – there is ice build up over the entire exterior broken up by vertical lines of bare metal where the struts are located.

Nonetheless, we’re staying pretty comfortable. We’ve got two small electric space heaters, one at each end of the trailer. It’s 34 feet long – nominally it’s a 34-footer, but when you subtract the hitch and bumper, it’s more like 30 feet of living space – and one space heater can’t handle it. We don’t use the central heat (propane furnace) much except to bring it up to temperature after we’ve been away for a period of time (of course, we don’t leave the electric space heaters running unattended). [Note:  We changed our ways after a notice was put up in Pecan Grove to curb electric heater usage.] But when it’s this cold we have severe problems with condensation on the inside of windows. It just occurred to me today that running the furnace some might remedy this problem, as it will eject moisture-laden air through the furnace exhaust in the side of the trailer. Since I’m a former HVAC engineer (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning), you’d think I would have snapped to this sooner.


How cool is YOUR Airstream?

January 17, 2007

Airstream and Ford have teamed up to create a concept SUV that is pretty spacy looking. Check it out.

This appears to be stop-motion animation done on a marker board.  It’s fascinating!  Minilogue Hitchhikers – Kristofer Stroms stop-motion animation – on Bore Me