Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Prop 8 upheld

Shame on you California.

Shame for voting in such a riduclous measure, shame for continued support, and shame for this ruling.

As someone who doesn't have a dog in that fight, I'm still outraged that the legislating of preference trumps the individual liberty that is the essence of the American democracy.

We are a country founded on the protection of freedoms, not the elimination thereof. If every person is not equal under the law, none of us are.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Artcar 2009 Wackiness.

Houston's annual Artcar parade is like the Matrix. You cannot be told what it is, you have to see it for yourself. What started as a small group of committed...well...crazy folk, has turned into a tens of thousands strong event. The essence of the artcar parade is captured in its name. 1) Have a car. 2) make it into art. That ranges drastically from a car covered in those singing fish and lobsters (all timed to sing and move with music) to pimped out lowriders, and about everything in between.

This has grown to include bicycles, trucks, and all manner of motorized or man-powered vehicle. The parade runs along a divided highway near downtown and has gorwn exponentially from its humble beginnings. There's still a good degree of the ultra-wacky performance art aspect to some of it, but it really has become a more mainstreamed event in the last several years. It's nice to have some sort of community art event in Houston that is not dominated by big Oil and restricted to those who can afford the price of admission. This is definitely grass roots art funkiness at its most raw and, amazingly, accessible.

Here are a few shots from this year's parade (click to see larger):

Artcar Parade - Flower Powered
I brought the wrong lens (tele instead of a wide angle) so tried to capture some of the detail instead of whole cars this year. Loved this car/shot

Artcar Parade - Viking Boogie
Rollerskating Viking, for the win.

Artcar Parade - Lobster Tabernacle Choir
The "Lobster Tabernacle Choir". Timed and choreographed, covered in those tacky singing fish. When this rolls by to "Bohemian Rhapsody" (the head banging part) it boggles the mind.

Artcar Parade - Gargoyle Car 2
The gargoyle car is one of my perrenial faves, which I have never gotten a decent shot of. Here's hoping next year is better. But still, fantastic car.

Artcar Parade - Hydraulics detail
Lowriders were here in force (for the first time?) this year. I don't recall seeing them before, but these were definitely works of art. hydraulics!

Artcar Parade - Crochet Car
This entire car was covered in a crocheted doily. There;s another car covered entirely in patterns made of solid walls of yarn

Artcar Parade - Chicken
Giant 30 foot tall metal chicken. That talks. I'm not sure what else I can say about the sheer awesomeness here.

Artcar Parade - Texas!
She is the embodiment of Texas...big, spirited, just a little bit crazed...

Artcar Parade - Disturbing.
This rollerskater was just a little disturbing. Ok, a lot disturbing.

Artcar Parade - Hari Krishna
The HAri Krishnas had a float. Really? There are still Hari Krishnas? I just liked this shot because of the negative space at looks almost as if she's pulling down the corner of the picture, revealing a void. I guess that's more of a zen buddhism thing, but they didn't have a float.

Artcar Parade - Make Out, Not War!
The inevitable political car/float. Last year, pre-Obama, it was a giant missle with a Cheney/Satan 08 ticket, and ladies with giant strap on missiles. It was so subtle...

Artcar Parade - Kinky Friedman
Speaking of politics, Kinky Friedman! He's like our Mark Twain.

Artcar Parade Esplanade Wildflowers
The median of the highway is left unmowed to let the wildflowers bloom. Took this as we were walking back.

All in all not as good as last year, but still enjoyable.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Walk log, 5/13/09

I haven't posted much since the end of last year. The irony being, the events of the interceding time frame give me more than enough to write about, but I'm still wading through the emotions of it all, and this didn't seem the best forum. Maybe in a while..

For now, I thought I'd start keeping a record of the species, etc I run across in my almost daily hikes or lunch walks at various parks in the area. Something fairly safe and detached to ease my return, I suppose.

5/13/09 - Cullinan Park, Houston

Cullinan Park is a small park consisting primarily of an equally small lake, that runs along a regional creek. Outside of the boardwalk that meanders through some woods and along the lake edge (providing fantastic views of the wetlands and other inaccessible areas), there are only a few unkept trails through second growth riparian corridor. However, I've come to like it as a great place for macro photography.

The lake is getting choked up with lillypads. I think they're american lotus because that's what will be blooming later on in the summer. It's always an odd sight...the seed pods staring like bright yellow sightless aliens in unison across the water. The lake goes from clear all winter long, to completely covered during the summer. It's a pretty fantastic transition, and the species present vary wildly in accordance with the changes.

The lake was practically shimmering from the volume of dragonflies that flitted above it's mottled surface. I saw several of the usual blue dashers and eastern pondhawks. They're swarming all over, must be mating season. That can only mean the golden silk spiders won't be far behind. I also saw at least two other species I have not yet identified. One an almost calico mix of reds and yellows (eastern amberwing?)and the other a dark variety with distinct markings on its wings.

Today was a big day for herps, compared to the usual fare...saw a garter/ribbon snake of a size that would lead me to lean toward the latter, and an unidentified water snake which declined to show anything but its back half...dark, with bright red/orange/brown? rings. Combined with a tiny, delicate yellowish damselfly species and a lark-sized bird I could not see well, I will have several photos species to identify when I get home.

The usual swifts/swallows and vultures were present, along with a few cattle egrets, a yellow-crowned night heron, and a black bellied whistling duck. A Little Blue egret and some moorhens also made appearances to round out the birding list.

I've been on a species photographing/identifying kick as of late. Partly the latent naturalist coming into a more focused pursuit, partly the human collecting urge, I suppose. Someone of greater perception may delve into deeper motivations based on events of late. In any regard, a walk in wild areas is greater balm to me than hashing such ideas out.

Photos, as always, to follow, and also available at:
My Flickr Page