The Many Manifestations of R2D2

R2-D2 (phonetically spelled Artoo-Detoo, and called “R2” or “Artoo” for short) is a robot character in the Star Wars universe. An astromech droid (referred to in the novel as a ‘theromcapsulary dehousing assister’), R2-D2 is a major character in all six Star Wars films. Along with his protocol droid companion C-3PO, he joins or supports Anakin Skywalker, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Obi-Wan Kenobi in various points in the saga. R2-D2 was played by Kenny Baker. Along with Anakin Skywalker (Darth Vader), Obi-Wan Kenobi, and C-3PO, he is one of only four characters to appear in all six Star Wars films.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

World Cattle Population by Country

Cattle relaxing on the streets of India

 

The world cattle inventory in 2020 was reported at 987.5 million head.  

India has the largest cattle inventory in the world in 2020 followed by Brazil & the United States.   Roughly 65% of the world’s cattle are in India, Brazil & the United States.  (The cattle inventory in India includes water buffalo).

Cattle ranch in Brazil. Ranching greatly contributes to deforestation in the Amazon region of the country.

 

 

Cattle ranch in the United States

 

Canadian ranch

Cattle on a beautiful ranch in Alberta. The beef industry in Canada and around the world has faced many challenges. Mad cow disease, over supply, drought, cost of hay, and many other challenges have resulted in a fairly up and down industry. However, these cattle, resting on a hill in Kananaskis Country in Alberta’s pristine foothills, don’t seem to have a worry in the world. The dramatic fall colours and snow on the Rocky Mountains enhance the scenic image…an idyllic Alberta landscape!

Real Life Killer Monsters

Killer Crocodile

It’s the kind of beast Steven Spielberg might feature in a movie. Villagers in Bunawan township in the Philippines celebrated what they hope is the end of a reign of terror when they captured a 21 feet long, 2,370 pound crocodile. Two years ago, a child was eaten by a crocodile that was never caught. Since July, a fisherman went missing, and a croc is a prime suspect. Villagers also reported that they saw a crocodile kill a water buffalo this summer. But this week, using steel cable traps and an animal carcass as bait, they caught the beast and it’s the largest crocodile ever to be taken alive. It took nearly 100 people to haul the monster from a creek, then a crane to lift it into a truck. While this capture may set Guinness Book records, there are still an estimated 250 such giant freshwater crocodiles still in the wild and roughly 1,000 of the saltwater variety. So perhaps they shouldn’t celebrate too quickly. And don’t forget Spielberg’s classic film Jaws in which the residents of a town terrorized by a great white shark rejoice when one of the creatures is killed, only to learn a harsh lesson later — -the real culprit was still out in the water. We hope the real life story has a better ending.

 

The Giant Squid

 

The giant squid has never been captured alive. These enormous sea creatures — scientists estimate that they may grow to be as much as 45 feet long and weigh up to a ton — occasionally wash up on shore but are more often found by deep sea fishermen who accidentally catch them in their commercial trawl nets. Giant squids have eight thick arms and two longer tentacles. Their eyes can be as much as 10 inches in diameter. In 2004, Japanese scientists successfully photographed a live squid nearly 3,000 feet underwater off the coast of the Ogasawara Islands. And here’s a fun thought: these inky cephalopods might be the true objects of sailors’ terror-filled tales or misguided affections, as sightings of merpeople and sea monsters date back hundreds of years. The most famous fictional incarnation of this legendary animal can be found in Jules Verne’s novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea in which the crew of the Nautilus does battle with a nefarious giant squid that has tentacles as long as the ship itself. Actually, now that we think about it, maybe it’s better that live squids don’t surface very often.

 

The World’s Largest Spider: Goliath Birdeater Tarantula

 

Arachnophobes, take this opportunity to look away, because the Goliath Birdeater Tarantula might be your biggest fear. As the largest spider in terms of mass, the Goliath Tarantula can grow up to nearly a foot across, weighing in at more than six ounces, with fangs that are over an inch long. Native to the remote rain forests of South America, this tarantula was named based on reports from explorers who claimed to see one eating a hummingbird. But while their scale can prompt them to seek out this type of large prey, for the most part, the Goliath primarily feeds on insects and other invertebrates, which it traps using its silk web and kills with its fatal venom. Despite their creepy appearance and vicious reputation, however, the tarantula’s bite is no worse than a wasp sting to humans, and to date there have been no reports of human fatalities due to this arachnid. Not like that makes us want to cuddle up to the Goliath anytime in the foreseeable future.

 

Portuguese Man-of-War

 

Don’t let its appearance fool you. That blob floating in the ocean is far from innocuous and it isn’t a jellyfish. As the name implies, the Portuguese Man-of-War isn’t a nice beast to meet in the ocean, as roughly 10,000 people swimming off the Australian coast discover each year. The creature is actually a “colonial organism” made of multiple polyps, the largest, a bladder filled with gas that is similar to the atmosphere, is often mistaken for a jellyfish — and it gives the animal it’s name since the bladder looks like the sail of an old Man-of-War battle ship). The other three polyps, gastrozooid (feeding), gonozooid (reproduction) and dactylozooid (defense), are clustered around the
bladder. The dactylzooids compose tentacles that can be more than 150 feet in length. Tiny fish can live in the tentacles, but when a human or larger fish is stung, the venom leaves red welts that can last multiple days. The recommended treatment is to apply salt water to the sting. Unlike jelly fish, vinegar is not recommended as a treatment, and contrary to old wives’ tales, urine is not a recommended treatment for a jellyfish or a Man-of-War. Let’s just say that avoiding this animal all together is the best defense.

 

BIG Fish

 

Why pick one gigantic, ugly fish when you can pick three? First up is the rarely seen oarfish, an eel that is the Guinness Book of World Records holder as the longest bony fish in the world. Oarfish — really a family of several species — can grow to as long as 56 ft. in length. While they usually live in deep water, they can sometimes float to the surface when dying — a habit that’s caused them to be mistaken for mythical sea serpents. The Brazilian arapaima is the biggest freshwater fish on the planet — they can reach 14 ft. and tip the scales at morethan 400 lbs. Unfortunately for their survival, arapaima are also very tasty — the species is threatened by overfishing. That’s not something the very nasty giant snakehead has to worry about, though. The Southeast Asian river fish is pretty big, but it’s also extremely aggressive, attacking anything that might threaten its young — including human beings. The snakehead can walk on land with its soft pectoral fins, and even breathe air for a little while. Don’t make one mad — it will find you.

 

Box Jellyfish

 

These guys definitely win for the least scary name, but the box jellyfish is proof that some of the most innocent-looking things can actually be incredibly dangerous — sort of like Justin Bieber. The fearsome box jellyfish or sea wasp can be found in the tropical Indo-Pacific, and their tentacles, each of which contain about 5,000 stinging cells, pack a serious punch. Box jellyfish poison is among the most toxic in the world, attacking the heart and nervous system. The pain from a sting is apparently so great victims beg to have the poisoned limbs amputated, and can sometimes simply go into heart failure because of the agony. Oh, and they’re also nearly translucent, meaning swimmers can collide with them unaware. Your best bet might be to make friends with a sea turtle — they’re impervious to the box jelly venom, and love to eat the spongy creatures.

 

Burmese Python

 

There are a lot of ways to get on this list: be super poisonous, be super scary or just be nasty looking. But the Burmese python does it the old-fashioned way — it’s just really, really big. The constrictor is one of the largest snakes in the world, usually growing up to 25 ft. and some 200 lbs, but there have been pythons as long as 50 ft. and as heavy as 1,000 lbs. And the snakes put that bulk to good use — they grab their victims with sharp teeth, wrap themselves around their target and simply squeeze. After their lunch has suffocated, the pythons swallow them whole with super-stretchy jaws. Fortunately, Burmese pythons rarely attack human beings, and thanks to habitat loss in the Southeast Asian jungle, the snakes are actually now a threatened species. So they should be more afraid of you — though if you meet one in a dark corner of the rainforest, somehow I doubt that’ll be the case.

 

Sasquatch

 

 

With over 5,000 eye-witness accounts, tens of thousands of documented footprints, recorded vocalizations and some video, photo and film evidence the Sasquatch creature is a either a grand legend, or a blood and bones entity.  Sane people report seeing the creature close up.  And they say it is not a bi-pedal bear or a guy in a gorilla suit.  It is a big, smelly ape that walks on 2 legs.  But damn can this thing hide.  Eventually one is going to eat some rotten berries and get disoriented, then it may stagger onto a hilly highway, and some big rambling semi truck is going to nail it dead on.  Then the skeptics won’t know what to say.

As far as anybody knows the Sasquatch hasn’t killed any human beings.  Although Teddy Roosevelt wrote about an incident in Montana in the 1910’s where a mountain man was stalked by a Bigfoot.  His badly beaten body was found by two trappers some time later.  Farmers and ranchers have reported missing chickens and sheep shortly after a Sasquatch was observed in the area.

 

 

Bengal White Tiger swims for chunks of meat

Although many big cats, like their diminutive domestic cousins, are none too fond of soggy fur and wet whiskers, tigers positively thrive in the water, and are often found enjoying a bath in rivers and ponds. Far from shunning water, the biggest of the big cats actively seek it out, with cooling temperatures a perfect tonic to the extreme heat of the day in much of Asia. Tigers are also powerful swimmers, capable of travelling up to 4 miles in the water and commonly seen carrying their kills across lakes.

So much for the swimming skills of tigers in the wild, but what about those of the creatures that find themselves in the arms of captivity? Well, the same rules apply, except that man-made bodies of water become each beast’s watering hole, and there are probably one or two more spectators than these naturally shy cats would prefer. Not so in the case of Odin, though, the famous white Bengal tiger living in Six Flags Discovery Kingdom Zoo in Vallejo, near San Francisco.

Odin seems purr-fectly suited to the watery stage and can be watched in action diving daily for his meals in a large pool with glass walls – built to allow visitors to watch him gliding through the water with, says one British newspaper, “all the grace of a polar bear”. Now 8 years old, Odin has been making a spectacle of himself for quite some time, and with his pictures pasted all over the Web, this superlative swimmer’s popularity shows no signs of waning.

Odin was hand-reared at the zoo and once weaned, his trainer Lee Munroe soon discovered his talent for jumping in after chunks of meat thrown into a pool of water. Like other tigers – apart from the vegetarian variety – Odin loves the taste of fleshy goodness probably even more than he does a cool dip in the afternoon. But by no means every big cat will dive and swim underwater – even for meat treats – and that includes other tigers and jaguars, who also like the water.

Clearly Six Flags saw an opportunity for making their already exceptional looking white Bengal tiger even more of a crowd pleaser. Ten-foot long from nose to tail, and with the super sharp claws and teeth of all tigers, Odin is in many ways like others of his kin. The only major difference of course is that he is white. Neither an albino nor a distinct subspecies, the white tiger is a tiger with an unusual genetic combination – a recessive gene – that creates its pale coloration.

White tigers are incredibly rare in the wild, the last one seen there having been shot in 1958. There are dozens in zoos, but with the inbreeding of these popular beasts to preserve their special trait, white tigers are more likely to be born with physical defects such as cleft palates and curvature of the spine. That said, the future looks bleaker still for the species as a whole, as an estimated world population of 100,000 tigers at the start of the 20th century has shrunk to about 2,000 in the wild.

As we face up to the tragic possibility that within our lifetimes, zoos might be the only places left to observe these majestic animals, one final word about Odin to lighten the mood. Lest the tiger-phobes demonise him for his frightening expressions, it seems the funny faces he pulls are actually to stop water from going up his nose. Awww. Is an oversized clothes peg out of the question?

 

Odin, the beloved and popular 17-year-old white Bengal tiger at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, has died, park officials confirmed.

Suffering from chronic arthritis and pain, Odin was humanely euthanized on Monday about a week shy of his 18th birthday, said Lee Munro, an animal ambassador at the park.

“It’s very hard for me and very hard for the entire park,” Munro said by phone Tuesday about Odin’s death. “I was Odin’s sidekick and helped raise him from when he was two weeks old.”

ROY SMECK: THE EDDIE VAN HALEN OF UKULELE PLAYERS

One of the many rumors passed around the Internet (imagine that!) concerns musician and ukulele player Roy Smeck, known as “The Wizard of the Strings.” It turns out that a lot of people seemed convinced that Smeck was actually Eddie Van Halen’s father and an innovator of “two-hand-tapping,” a method of playing a stringed instrument by tapping the strings with an object or your fingers. The technique has been traced back to the late 1700s, but as far as the popularization of two-hand-tapping, that honor belongs to Roy Smeck – a visionary ukulele player who rose to fame as one of vaudeville’s premier attractions. Smeck’s popularity was such that he was invited to play at President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s inauguration celebration in 1933. Getting back to the popular notion Smeck was EVH’s dad…after the devastating loss of Eddie earlier this month, keyboard warriors started sharing videos of Smeck tapping away on his uke with lightning speed, with the caption “this is Eddie Van Halen’s father.” I suppose it was an easy mistake to make, given the skill level Smeck possessed, and its eerie similarity to one of Eddie’s calling cards, his blink-and-you-missed-it guitar tapping wizardry.

Ed’s real father, Jan Van Halen, was, of course, a great musician in his own right and mentor to both Eddie and Alex Van Halen. He was also born twenty years after Smeck in 1920. To my knowledge, Eddie has never credited Smeck as a source of inspiration for his style. Though he has given the nod to another musician known for his finger-tapping innovations, Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett. In a 2012 interview with Ultimate Guitar, Hackett credited himself as being the “inventor of tapping on record,” which isn’t really true as guitarist Jimmie Webster was known for his tapping (or the sexy-sounding “touching”) technique, which you can hear on at least one recording, Webster’s Unabridged, from 1959.

Roy Smeck was born in 1900 in Pennsylvania. Starting at a young age, the future virtuoso would teach himself to play the guitar, steel guitar, banjo, octo-chorda (or “octachorda,” an eight-string steel guitar), jaw harp, harmonica, and his weapon of choice, the ukulele. While still in his early 20s, Smeck would become one of vaudeville’s most successful stars without uttering a single word during his energetic performances. Smeck preferred to dance for his fans while he frantically tapped on his uke. He’d also play it upside down with the same alarming speed and precision. His early exposure in vaudeville would lead to a myriad of incredible opportunities. His music would be featured along with the 1926 film Don Juan—the very first film to use Vitaphone sound-on-disc, which allowed both music and other sounds to be played in sync with the moving picture. His Pastimes, a short preceding Don Juan, featured an electrifying uke performance by Smeck would send his star soaring. The following year, he was approached by Jay Krause, the president of the largest string instrument manufacturer in the U.S. (at the time), the Harmony Company of Chicago. In a 1984 interview with an 84-year-old Smeck, he recalled Krause’s proposal that Smeck “produce” a Hawaiian guitar, uke, banjo, and guitar exclusively for Harmony. Smeck’s bosses at Warner objected to the use of the word Vitaphone for the line. Smeck and Kraus changed directions slightly by naming the various instruments as “The Roy Smeck Vita-Uke,” The Roy Smeck Vita-Guitar,” etc.

From ‘Dangerous Minds.’

Mother Nature’s Ire

The biggest dust storm in living memory rolls into Phoenix on July 5, 2011, reducing visibility to zero. Desert thunderstorms kicked up the mile-high wall of dust and sand.

 

 

Fortified by a levee, a house near Vicksburg survives a Yazoo River flood in May 2011. Snowmelt and intense rains—eight times as much rainfall as usual in parts of the Mississippi River watershed—triggered floods that caused three to four billion dollars in damages.

 

 

Lightning cracks during an eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano in 2010.

 

 

The eruption of Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano inspires the formation of a waterspout in this undated photo.

 

 

A Lake Michigan lighthouse takes the brunt of a frigid winter in Saint Joseph, Michigan.

 

 

A  funnel cloud rips through a trailer park near Cheyenne, Wyoming,  in  this undated photo. The photographer snapped this shot from a  quarter  mile away before taking cover in his basement.

 

 

A  waterspout parallels a lightning strike over Lake Okeechobee in Florida. A sister of the tornado, waterspouts are generally less   powerful.

 

A tornado heads toward two cars on a country road near Campo, Colorado.

 

 

In  a dramatic display of summer atmospheric conditions, lightning marks the end of an impressively long shelf cloud in the Midwestern U.S.

 

 

Dark clouds loom over a beach on Grand Cayman Island.

 

 

Landslide  rubble buries a car in northern India’s Doda district in 2011. The  devastating erosion was the result of a downpour that washed soil,  rocks, and other debris onto the Doda-Batote highway.

Louie Louie 2 versions

Louie Louie, oh no, you take me where ya gotta go, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, baby
Louie Louie, oh baby, take me where ya gotta go

A fine little girl, she waits for me
Me catch the ship across the sea
Me sailed the ship all alone
Me never think I’ll make it home

Louie Louie, oh no no no, me gotta go, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, baby
Louie Louie, oh baby, me gotta go

Fuck!

Three nights and days I sailed the sea
Me think of girl constantly
On the ship, I dream she there
I smell the rose in her hair

Louie Louie, oh no, me gotta go, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, baby
Louie Louie, oh baby, me gotta go
OK, let’s give it to ’em right now

Me see

 

 

and now…the news: louie louie oh baby i gotta go

louie louie oh baby i gotta go

the communist world is fallin apart

the capitalists are just breakin hearts

money is the reason to be

it makes me just wanna sing louie louie louie louie oh baby i gotta go louie louie oh baby i gotta go

a fine little girl is waitin for me but i ‘m as bent as dostoevsky

i think about the meaning of my life again and i have to sing louie louie again

louie louie oh baby i gotta go louie louie oh baby i gotta go let’s give it to’ em right now oh man,

i dunno like…health insurance the homeless & world peace & aids & education … i’ m tryin to do right but. ..hey life after bush & gorbachev the wall is down but something is lost turn on the news it looks like a movie it makes me wanna sing louie louie louie louie oh baby i gotta go let’s go

Winnipeg Shots

Winnipeg is the capital and largest city of the province of Manitoba in Canada. It is centred on the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine rivers, near the longitudinal centre of North America. Even though Winnipeg is located only 90 miles from the American border, relative to other areas of North America it is a northern city.

Winnipeg has extreme weather in terms of temperatures. The winters are brutally cold, with temperatures in December, January and February often reaching 30 degrees below zero, often accompanied with very brisk winds. On the other side of the ledger the summers are hot, with temperatures often reaching into the high 30’s celsius, or in the 90’s fahrenheit. Therefore Winnipegers experience very hot weather on one hand to unbelievably cold weather that could kill people if they are exposed without proper clothing or shelter.

The population of the Winnipeg metro area is just over 800,000 souls. Winnipeg has one of the largest urban Native American populations on the continent. 

 

Downtown Winnipeg