26 May 2010
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Second Nature

First nature this year was a trip to the zoo.  But nature comes fast and furious in New Jersey in the spring.  Today it came with the thwap thwap thwap of enormous wings.  (Thwap, like argh, has neither standardized meaning nor spelling.  I use it here in its onomatopoetic sense only.)  I was sitting outside when the sun was blotted out by those same wings, and a very large bird, probably a "turkey vulture" settled in a tree nearby.  I watched to see if it would find something on which to feed, but instead, and in less than a minute, it glided down to the fence behind the pool.  I began to develop a "plan."  I picked up my cell phone, got as close to the bird as I dared, and took a picture.  (The plan was to take as many pictures as I could, each one from a closer vantage, but the bird, in splendid disregard of my intentions, took off after the first photo.)

Backyard photo - turkey vulture on fence

In Raptors We Trust

In addition to my local raptor, I offer this report on a trip to the Raptor Trust, about an hour's drive from here. 

Raptor Trust information sign:  Birds to the right, rest rooms to the left A cute snowy owl, picture taken through mesh Bald eagle at the Raptor Trust, New Jersey


Snowy Owl Bald Eagle

The birds are a lot more impressive when you're there.  It's hard to get a good photo through the obtrusive mesh of the cages.  They also had a raven, which, although it quoth nothing particularly recognizable, clearly has the capacity to utter "Nevermore" if so inclined.

Some Natures Without Photos

  • Although I was without a camera this time, I saw a turtle on the road in mortal danger of vehicular terrapinicide.  I helped it across the road without incident.

  • I found a tiny frog in the pool skimmer.  Alas, it was too late to consign him to the frog pond to frolic with his many conspecifics.

  • On a walk a number of months ago, there was a large bear on the road in front of me.  My companion and I were both wearing sneakers, but they turned out to be unnecessary.

  • There have been remarkably few chipmunks this year, or so it seems.

Nature Time is Mulch Time

But not this time.  No steaming piles, no contest, no deliveries at all.  The best I can offer is a quote from a press release: 

"Everybody Loves Summertime," but few people more so than Mark and Nick Mulch. And nowadays they're singing about it. Their new single is already being requested on their tour, after only having been released a few days ago. The name of their tour-of course-"Everybody Loves Summertime Tour 2010."

Yes, the Mulch Brothers have released a new single.


Epson, the printer manufacturer, has made me very cranky indeed, and I thought I would issue a brief rant.  If I get carried away, as many of you may desire, it will be more than brief.  I bought one of their products a couple of years ago.  It was a printer/copier/scanner, as so many "printers" are nowadays.  These products themselves are incredible bargains, largely because they use proprietary ink cartridges which cost a fortune.  It's like the razor/razor blade theory, but even worse, because you only shave once a day, and who knows how much you might end up printing.  Most printers come with "starter" cartridges, which will print enough to prove the product works, and then must be replaced at ruinous cost if you want to print any more.  (The cost difference to the manufacturer between a "starter" cartridge and a full one can't possibly exceed a few cents.  They deliberately "cripple" their product so that you'll replace the print cartridge(s) sooner than should be necessary.)

But you know all that, and we're all used to it by now.  And that has nothing to do with my rant.  As I mentioned, this printer is also capable of copying and scanning.  The scanning function converts a printed page or a photograph to a computer file.  No ink is used in the process.  Imagine my surprise, then, when an attempt to scan an old photograph resulted in an error message declaring that the printer was out of ink!  With a hearty "So what," I proceeded to try scanning again, and tried everything I could think of to bypass the irrelevant error message.  I then tried everything I could find on the internet, where this problem had also been noted.  I then tried, at some peril to my remaining and precarious sanity, to commune with Epson's customer service department, which turned out to be well aware of the problem even if it wasn't mentioned on their web site.

Epson emailed me a customer satisfaction survey to find out how well they handled my inquiry.  I get a lot of those.  This is the first one in a long time in which I got to practice exuding vitriol.

In terms of the support "experience," I was satisfied if not thrilled. However, the problem that I had, and the "solution" that you offered, made me so angry that I will never buy another Epson product. I was trying to scan a document, something that has NOTHING to do with printing. However the printer kept complaining that it needed a new ink cartridge and I was unable to get past that irrelevant error to scan. After spending a half hour using your web site (and finding nothing about this) and searching the internet for an answer, I finally emailed your service department. I was told that there was no workaround. Imagine an auto manufacturer preventing a car from starting in the daytime if the headlights are bad!

I have an HP printer as well, and it is happy to scan whether or not it has ink. Your shortsighted greed in demanding ink replacement before allowing your product to operate has lost you an otherwise happy customer, and, if I ever get around to it, a very angry, and hopefully embarrassing-to-you blog entry.

I have never encountered any evidence that these surveys are read or acted on in any way, possibly because almost every interaction with "customer service" engenders one and the survey recipients must be overwhelmed.  I can't imagine why they bother; certainly I have never heard from Epson.  In order to be able to use their "printer" I found some non-OEM cartridges on eBay at 1/6 the Epson price.  Hallelujah, I can scan again.

"Meridian Leeward"





Unlike this previous Spam t-shirt of unknown provenance, today's appears to be a genuine Hormel offering.  If they had a gift store (which they may,) it would be a hot seller indeed!

I reduced the picture size less than usual so you could read the ad and the ingredients.

Would you say "SPAM," too?

Hormel SPAM T-shirt.  "Gracie  if a strange man offered to buy you lunch, what would you say?"  "SPAM"
Richard Factor

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