New wildlife gallery

I decided to start a new gallery with pictures of the various wild animals that live in this part of Texas.  Living near the lake as I do, I see quite a variety of local wildlife and think it would be cool to share that.  To kick things off, I've already added some pictures I took during our recent snow storm.  These are ducks who were swimming up and down the creek oblivious to the snow.  Stay tuned as I already have other wildlife photos I've taken recently that I'll be adding to the gallery soon.

2004 Valentine’s Day snow!

North Texas had an absolutely wonderful snow storm on Valentine's Day, 2004.  The snow began falling around six in the morning and continued for approximately three hours.  Although mileage varied across the area, most folks received three or four inches — and some received much more than that.  Here by White Rock Lake where I live, we got about four inches of the white stuff.  It was a fantastic Valentine's Day gift.  Of course I took pictures…

I've already opened the gallery for this story (if you want to skip the commentary), but know that there are a few large photos in this article that are not in the gallery.

Many people are often shocked to hear about winter weather in Texas.  When we get snow or ice of any kind, those who don't live here often think it's entirely bizarre and out of place.

Contrary to that popular belief, 2.7 inches of our yearly rainfall is, on average, frozen precipitation of one kind or another.  In fact, one inch of our normal precipitation in February is usually of the frozen variety.

So it's not truly a surprise when such things happen here.  The real joy comes from the fact that they don't happen often and they don't hang around for long.

In this case, the best snow only lasted about 12 hours.  By 3:00 PM that afternoon, we were above freezing and the snow was quickly melting.  By the following day, it was up to 50 degrees — and what little snow had survived overnight was quickly vanquished.

The moral is that you must enjoy it while it's here because it won't be here for long.

So I went out early that morning (around 6:30 AM) to get some pictures.  It was already gray outside with the clouds and snow, but the sun wasn't up when I first ventured out.

Billed as the biggest snow storm here since 1978 when we got eight inches (heh… he said he got eight inches…), I was not disappointed by the winter wonderland.

The walking trail crosses the creek and continues along the tree line. (127_2725)

This is undoubtedly my favorite picture.  With the bridge, the creek, the trees and all the snow, it feels almost imaginary.

There's one larger picture here (1024×768) that isn't in the gallery.  It's looking up through the tree limbs to watch the snow fall.  The problem is that, once I reduced the picture size below 1024×768, it became increasingly difficult to see the snow in the sky.  This is only a slightly reduced crop section of the original 2592×1944 image.

Looking across the creek and into private property. (127_2758_1)

Standing on the walking trail bridge over the creek that runs behind our property and into White Rock Lake Park, I snapped this photo looking over the creek and through the trees at the swimming pool area of the apartment complex next door.

A wider shot of the previous picture. (127_2760)

That's a wider shot of the previous picture.

Looking up the creek at the walking trail bridge. (127_2771)

Back in White Rock Lake Park, this is looking up the creek (away from the lake) at the walking trail bridge.  It just seemed like a very Normal Rockwell picture that needed to be saved.

Standing here (not included in the gallery), I took the next two photos trying to capture the snow falling against the dark background of the creek.

Catching a glimpse of the falling snow against the background of the creek. (127_2774)

After I took this one, I realized I could zoom in further and get a better shot.

A tighter shot of the creek showing how hard it was snowing. (127_2777)
This particular tree line is thick, but it's made even more impassable by the snow. (127_2783)

This is the tree line that is located near where our walking trail empties into the lake park.  The thicket and trees generally make this a virtual wall of leaves and branches, but the snow seemed to blend it all together and make it even more impenetrable.

I just thought this was a cool view given the snow. (127_2785)

That's actually the same tree line as the previous picture.  I had zoomed out a bit and included the tree I was standing under.  The nearness and color of the tree made for a great contrast against the snowy background.

Looking up toward the tops of the trees through the snow. (127_2786)

That is again the same view as the two previous pictures.

Technology outsourcing part II

Following up yesterday's posting about the outsourcing of white-collar jobs to foreign countries (in this case, mainly India), I ran across this article on and decided to share it with you.  The article talks about how US technology workers are becoming a political force in response to the continuous hemorrhaging of US white-collar jobs to cheaper labor pools — such as India.  As should have been expected by political and business leaders alike, the continuing loss of jobs in America as they are shipped overseas is rapidly becoming a significant hot-button issue.

Good news for chocolate lovers

If, like me, you love chocolate, then recent news about the confection is confirmation that our love affair with the sweet is not misplaced.  Speakers at the National Academy of Sciences discussed anecdotal and scientific evidence which indicates that chocolate, which contains chemicals like those in green tea and red wine, may have health benefits — such as cutting blood pressure and improving circulation.  See the article at CNN for more details.  Like the announcement about coffee and type II diabetes, this news is more confirmation of what chocolate lovers have known for a very long time.

I have been so neglectful

Once December rolled in with a heavy sigh and not so pleasant things to look forward to, I put my entire workout routine on the back burner.  I knew I'd eat too much and would spend more time in the company of others than I normally do, so, perhaps in an attempt to provide an alibi before the fact, I set aside my exercise and focused on surviving the horrodays.

Well, I didn't gain but a few pounds and spent more time being busy than I did visiting or partying.

But I had also become too stressed and too tired to be constructive in my workout.

To the contrary, I had reached a state of stress and fatigue that made working out dangerous and counterproductive.

Now that it's February and I've had time to recover, I think it's time to get serious about this.  In fact, I'm seriously looking at personal trainers right now.  I think I'd like some guidance on how best to achieve my goals.

I think one of the reasons I quit so easily was because I had become frustrated with the minimal results I felt I was seeing.

Now I think I'd be more challenged and focused by knowing I was following a proven approach to achieving my goals.

I just keep kicking myself in the ass for caving to my own cheap excuses.