Like a tropical paradise

Escape.  Who hasn’t wished for such a thing?

A creek running through a verdant landscape (20080713_09749)

When one can walk a short distance from home and find lush tributaries overflowing with vegetation, escape comes instantly, easily.

In the middle of the urban jungle of Dallas, White Rock Lake offers excursions into realms hardly befitting their location.

A creek running through a verdant landscape (20080713_09751)

All manner of wildlife thrives here alongside the picturesque flora.

Even as I stood in the midst of this setting, a juvenile toad hopped across the path upon which I stood, paused longer than briefly as I stared back, then disappeared into the undergrowth.

Cicadas sang from the trees that reached in from all sides, sounded their quest for mates throughout the space, offered up that ubiquitous refrain by which summer is defined.  A myriad of insects joined them by land and sea and air.  The place seemed alive with tiny creatures.

Innumerable birds dashed and darted everywhere I looked.  Too many to count, I appreciated them all.

The tracks of a raccoon still seemed fresh on the sandy banks of this waterway, signs of nocturnal life that rivals the daytime occupants.

Warm humid air rushed through with a still admiration for what it touched as it passed by.

I stood in awe at the surroundings all these things enjoyed.

A creek running through a verdant landscape (20080713_09757)

The world washed away in slow moving waters, the bustle of humanity found itself brushed aside by plant life thriving in a world all its own.

Such escape remains difficult to find in the world we’ve created.

I shall miss this place when I’m gone.

No news and no changes

Grendel‘s condition remains unchanged at present.  He continues suffering from trembles that quake him from head to toe.  He also continues losing weight despite this very regular behavior:

Grendel enjoying a bite to eat (188_8890)

His appetite seems normal both for food and water.  His activity remains the same.  Even his attitude and interraction continue on their respective normal courses.

Nevertheless, I know him too well to be fooled by the feline inclination to hide at all costs any sign of illness or weakness.

Yet all the tests have thus far been negative.  No thyroid issues, no diabetes, no infection, no nothing.

I find this very troubling.

We have more investigation forthcoming, more tests, but I refuse to put him through too much considering his overall condition.  Stress is a cat’s worst enemy after all.

Upgrades galore

I’m in the process of installing patches and upgrades at all levels (OS, system, security and blog).  For that reason, you might see errors and/or weird behavior for the next hour.

Pending changes

I’ve decided to migrate all of my photos to a new hosting service.  I’m leaving both Flickr and Zooomr.  Here’s why:

  1. Flickr, via it being owned by Yahoo!, appears destined to become a Microsoft service.  I will not financially support or utilize Microsoft for any reason.  Period.
  2. Flickr presently has Carl Icahn breathing down its neck.  I have no respect for Icahn.  He seems destined to ruin everything he touches, at least from the consumer perspective.
  3. Zooomr suffers from performance issues now that it moved to Japan.  This was expected.
  4. Zooomr still has many unfulfilled promises to keep, and I keep running across features that simply don’t work (e.g., for months now it has refused to save my web site in my profile and I still can’t switch it from OpenID authentication to username/password authentication).  I’m tired of waiting.
  5. Unless signed in (and with a Pro account on Flickr IIRC), both Zooomr and Flickr offer up advertisements alongside my photographs.  In essence, they are using my copyrighted material for profit.  I find that unacceptable.

In my search for a new image host, I evaluated many.  All have their shortcomings; most have far too many.

The one I settled on is SmugMug.  As a fully for-pay hosting provider, there are no advertisements.  I have full control over my images.  They provide a meaningful and robust service (albeit with a few things I would change, but that’s true of all of them).  The company is stable, profitable and free of debt.  The interface is sleek and stylish, and it’s customizable.  I can use my own domain to access my SmugMug galleries.  The list goes on (and on and on and on…).

The shortcomings are few (from my perspective):

  1. Every image has to be in a gallery.
  2. The default image sizes, while numerous, seem to contradict the standard sizes so many others offer (e.g., 500×375 or 375×500).  This is hardly worth mentioning since I’m allowed to create custom sizes, yet it bears remark in that many blogs use this size by default and it seems backward to have to configure a personal option to create it.

I couldn’t find any other issues.  At least not yet, and I doubt I’ll run across anything that would be catastrophic.  In truth, they do what they do and they do it well: host images for paying customers.

I will likely reduce the embedded image size I use so I don’t have to worry about creating custom sizes on SmugMug.  No big deal as far as I’m concerned.  The reduction will be minimal and will probably create a better contrast between the content column and the images included.

As for the transition, it will take time.  There are thousands of photos on this blog spanning a thousand posts.  There’s no easy way to move all the images and update all the posts except on a one-by-one basis.

I also have begun work on trimming my blogroll.  Thus a thing is necessary now, what with my time limited and my focus elsewhere.  This requires serious evaluation on my part.

Neither of these changes should be traumatic except for me and the work necessary to make them happen.

[btw, if you ever decide to go with SmugMug as your photograph host, contact me and I’ll be happy to provide a referral code that will save you and me some money]

[Update] One thing I forgot: I’m switching to tags both here and at xenogere unseen.  That provides a significant improvement over the category system I use now by offering something more dynamic and malleable.  This too will take much time to complete.

Child of a lesser god

Grendel is sick.  Very sick, in fact.

And this atop the many ailments that already beset him: the immune system disorder that attacks his own intestinal tract, the stones within his kidney and bladder, the asthma that besets his lungs with fervent evil, and the arthritic bone spurs that grapple with his joints.

Yet even now some new villain wields its tempestuous blade in another attempt to rob his marvelous spirit of life.

Within the past week he has lost almost a full pound (half a kilogram).

He shakes and shivers as though beset with a fever measured far beyond what we humans can know.

A glaze rests within his eyes, visible in both direct and indirect light.

Today he spent hours at the veterinarian’s office, blood taken, tests given, all manner of suffering poured upon a soul already in torment.

Results offer no clue as to what vile ghoul stabs at him with blades of anguish.

For those who believe in some deity, some god, I ponder this on your behalf: What devilish being would continually visit upon this hapless soul the murderous agonies of such a life?  Is this the mercy you would have the rest of us believe your god practices?

Grendel is the child of a lesser god, a savior of such sadistic tortures as to be the very fiend from whom we are promised salvation.

Go and pray now, offer up your shallow wishes for help to that wicked, malevolent thing you call a god.  It doesn’t exist, you know, for my poor child can testify that no divine being would see fit to torture such a loving soul with so many plagues.

As for what will become of this episode, one cannot know.  The promise of days to come has been taken from my sponge, my alpha, my tiger.  Little hope remains that he will survive this onslaught.

Your disgusting gods notwithstanding, I have more hope than that, hope resting not upon such empty promises but upon the best science and medicine that money can buy.

Now we wait…