The Mundanity of Some Yellow Things

We went out for a walk on Scott Boulevard and saw a lot of yellow things. We were looking for Goldfinches. We saw mostly yellow flowers.

Compass flowers were everywhere. It looked like most of the flowers were facing east. However, it turns out that it’s the leaves that point east.

Black-eyed Susans competed with the Compass Flowers. Both made it more difficult to spot the male Goldfinches, which are brilliant yellow. We never got a snapshot or video of any of them, though we could see them flitting about at lightning speed.

We also saw a yellow airplane flying repeatedly around and around above fields and over the land surrounding Scott Boulevard. It seemed to be painted both yellow and black, raising the question of whether it’s linked to University of Iowa. It seemed to fly in ellipses from east to west and back. It was a mystery.

Later, my romanticizing imagination led me to think maybe the pilot was drawing a massive compass flower in the air, tracing the path of each petal.

Eventually, Sena said several times she thought the plane was crop dusting, which I pooh-poohed.

After we got back home, I took a close look at the videos I shot of the yellow plane. Using my video editing software, I could mitigate the camera shake artifact and sharpen the still images I got from the best clips.

I found one image which displayed a number on the tail, N942QC. The tail number is an alphanumeric code which identifies a specific airplane. I looked it up on the FAA Registry.

The plane was probably not drawing fanciful ellipses. It belongs to a company called Thompson Aero Inc, which operates in Amana, not far from Iowa City. It’s been in operation for 38 years. The business description says: “This organization primarily operates in the Crop Spraying Services business/industry within the Agricultural Services sector.”

Once again, Sena is right about the importance of mundanity.

Watch Out for the Spotted Lanternfly in Iowa

An invasive insect called the Spotted Lanternfly has been spotted in Iowa. It has been in the U.S. probably since 2014, starting in Pennsylvania. It spoils a lot of different plants and crops. You can learn more about how to identify, report, and help control its spread at the Iowa DNR website and its links to the PennState Extension (see video below).

Balancing Act

I read the CDC web page on what kind of exercises are best for those over the age of 65. It mentioned that the one leg balance should be part of the routine.

I also read the article about what it means if you flunk the one leg balance test. If you can’t balance for 10 seconds, it means there’s a chance your mortality might be significantly higher. According to the recent study about it, it doesn’t prove cause and effect, but it’s a marker about our overall health we should pay attention to.

I exercise most days and I was reasonably confident I could ace the one leg balance test.

Much to my surprise, I was pretty unsteady and even after several tries, I often came close to falling over. I was a little embarrassed and wondered if I had one foot in the grave. Sena tried and fell over.

But then I searched the web and found a number of articles suggesting that having trouble with the one leg balance task might be due to weak ankles.

In fact, my ankles wobble quite a bit when I try to balance on one leg. My wobble is worse on my left ankle. That can happen, according to one writer. Just like you can be right-handed and clumsy with your left and vice versa, that can happen with your legs.

There are all sorts of web articles with advice on helping you strengthen feet and ankles. I saw one on a site called Eldergym in which the author made a suggestion that rang a bell. Try sticking a post it note on the wall in front of you and focus your gaze on it while standing on one leg.

And that reminded me of a Judo class I took when I was a boy. Warm-up exercises included balancing on one leg while grabbing your other foot and rolling it around to work some flexibility into your ankle. Many of us in the class fell over a lot while trying to do this. That improved after the instructor told us to fix our gaze on a single point while balancing. It magically got a lot easier to do.

I can still put on a sock while balancing on one leg, just by focusing on one spot on the floor. I didn’t think I would find anything on the web about that, but there is a web page about it. The language gets a little technical about the explanation on how this trick works, but it has a lot to do with things like the vestibulo-ocular reflex.

I notice I can stand on one leg a little longer when I stare fixedly at a clock’s sweep second hand. But I still wobble. I guess I’ll be adding the one leg balance to my exercise regimen.

I think the argument that the inability to stand on one leg can mean more than one problem might be causing it. It’s associated with a number of issues including brain, heart, and other systemic diseases, and even higher mortality. But it can also mean that you have weak ankles from making a habit of sitting at a desk writing blog posts over a long period of time.

Maybe that gives us a more balanced view of the one leg balancing act.

This video plays pretty well with Sly and the Family Stone song “Stand!”

Factual or Fictional or Felgercarb

I’ve been watching a couple of shows about Alaska that are pretty much Bigfoot tales. One of them is The Alaska Triangle and the other is Alaska Killer Bigfoot.

And when I looked on the web to find out more about the TV shows, I learned a new word, “Felgercarb” (alternate spelling “felgercarb”). It means “crap” and I read that it originated from a 1978 Battlestar Galactica episode. The word was used by a reviewer of The Alaska Triangle. He called the show felgercarb and it obviously means he had a low opinion of it.

Incidentally, I never watched Battlestar Galactica.

I remember an English professor in Texas who made it clear that fact and fiction were not distinguished from each other by simply saying that fiction is anything that is not true. After all, fiction can be about the truth in various contexts, such as science (as in science fiction), and social and economic forces. And facts are mathematical and scientific data including formulas and historically verifiable events.

On the other hand, felgercarb is distinguished from facts and fiction by being notable for being non-satirical, non-parodical writing or performances—and by being unconvincing, amateurish, and—crappy.

Just to clarify, the Bigfoot show Mountain Monsters, which I think is a parody of all the Bigfoot shows, would not be classified as felgercarb, mainly because they obviously are making fun of the Bigfoot sagas.

Anyway, both of the Alaska shows have been labelled as felgercarb (whether they use that name or not) by a significant number of viewers. I acknowledge that a lot of people like them.

One reviewer of The Alaska Triangle who identified himself as living in Alaska all his life said he had never even heard of the Alaska Triangle.

Supposedly, a lot of people have disappeared in the Alaska Triangle, the borders of which connect Anchorage, Juneau, and Utqiagvik (formerly Barrow). Bigfoot is not the only cryptid people claim to see. One bus driver says he saw a dinosaur cross a road, specifically a velociraptor, that scientists say has been extinct for about 75 million years. No tourists on the bus saw it.

This prompts the question, why did the dinosaur cross the road? Because chickens didn’t exist yet.

Actually, the question is why didn’t the bus driver snap a cell phone picture of it? Because he didn’t want to get cited for distracted driving.

Another wild story on The Alaska Triangle is a circle of mutilated animals found far from any body of water. Why the connection to water? Because one of the animals was a whale. I guess the whale was in the middle of evolving and growing lungs. Sorry, actually it was accidentally dropped from a flying saucer driven by a distracted alien scrolling for barbecue blubber recipes on his cell phone.

I guess nobody’s heard of the Iowa corn mutilation phenomenon. Every year there are reports of several ears of corn completely denuded of kernels found near cornfields. Only the cobs are left. Weirdly, explorers and paranormal researchers often don’t find them in circles, but in terrifying little piles, not uncommonly surrounded by savagely ripped beef jerky wrappers and beer bottles completely drained of all liquid.

The Alaska Killer Bigfoot is even more mystifying—or stupefyingly felgercarbish. The explorers are investigating a place abandoned many decades ago because a special breed of Bigfoot monster called Nantinaq slaughtered people and knocked over the clothesline poles, making it impossible to dry overalls and flannel shirts.

The explorers on Alaska Killer Bigfoot occasionally barf for the pleasure of viewers. Maybe it’s the Nantinaq effect or spoiled beef jerky; it’s not clear which is more likely. It’ll have to await further study by various guest experts like spirit mediums and elderly Bigfoot experts.

Buoys somehow get into the tops of trees and holes mysteriously get dug where explorers find ancient coins, which they fail to clearly identify and maybe wonder if they can buy beer with them.

I wonder if Tony Harris, host of the show The Proof is Out There, will travel to Alaska and investigate Nantinaq or the inland whale circles. That show tends to retain some skepticism and usually errs on the side of saying something is unknown rather than saying thing like “Bigfoot has been proven to make infrasound” noises.

You know, so far nobody on the Alaska Killer Bigfoot took advantage of what might be a fact of infrasound, which is that it can nauseate people and possibly make them barf.

Oops, I just made a contribution to felgercarb.

Got Attention

Just as a follow-up to my post about getting and paying attention, I got about a 1,000 views in less than a day on one of my recent YouTube videos, “Backyard Animal Parade.” It’s now over 1.2K.

I never get that kind of response. Usually, it take years before I get that many views on my YouTube channel videos.


Covid-19 Vaccine Immune Response to Omicron Wanes According to NIH

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH) the current Covid-19 vaccine booster elicits a robust immune response, it wanes quickly against the Omicron variant.

Final Chapter on the Pella Bottom Door Seal Saga

Today, we finally got the right bottom of the door weather seal—only not from Pella. We gave up on them after they crapped out after the third try to ship us the right seal. The third one was an even worse failure than the second. It was 51 inches long and the barbs were not spaced right.

I got transferred to a Pella Corporation supervisor who told me that the issue should have been handed to their service department long before it got so far into this circus of mistakes. So supposedly, the supervisor contacted the service department—who never contacted us. Apparently, the supervisor didn’t stay on the case to ensure we got the right item because we never heard back.

Pella just dropped us.

We finally found Hass Wholesale in South Bend, Indiana. The story is a little complicated. Evidently, Pella manufactured the bottom door seal we needed at an Ohio factory until around 2010 or so and then shut down the factory.

On the other hand, the invoice on the item we got from Cloud Brothers Wholesale LLC (evidently associated with Hass) identified it as “Pella-Pease 2/8 Bottom Sweep from (2001-2014 5/8” Kerf.” UPS delivered it.

The Pease company also makes their own door seals which would have fit our Pella door. They even call it a Pella seal. But they manufacture them and have nothing to do with Pella. They also don’t make them in the 32-inch length.

Both Pease and Hass sell Pella bottom drive on door seals just like the one we needed. I think Hass gets some of them from Pease. I don’t know what relationship they might have with Pella. Pella never commented on one of our messages indicating we were aware of Hass Wholesale inventory containing an item Pella apparently was not able to find in their own inventory.

Enough of them were available such that Hass Wholesale was able to ship us the right item 3 days after we ordered it.

Pella Corporation in Iowa fumbled the ball repeatedly for more than a month.  

We give Hass Wholesale two thumbs up for a job well done. On the other hand, Pella Corporation customer service representatives (in Pella, Iowa no less) while friendly, couldn’t get the job done at all. Pella gets two thumbs down.

Of course, we were nervous about installing the seal, but it looked almost exactly like the old one and the measurements were spot on. The barbs didn’t run the whole length of the seal, but they really didn’t need to be that long. The important thing is that they were 5/8’’ center on center wide to fit the kerfs.

We were a little hesitant about doing the job today, because there’s a Heat Advisory (temperatures up to 105 degrees) and we had to take the entry door off the hinges and air condition the garage so to speak.

There was not much effort other than I used a rubber mallet to help drive the seal securely into the kerfs. I also hammered a couple of small nails into both ends. I didn’t need to adjust the height of the threshold. The door closed securely and the seal was snug.

We had to push towels against the entry door bottom for weeks and worried about bugs and energy bills, waiting for Pella to send us the right seal. We don’t have to do that now.

I have no idea how many people actually replace their bottom of the door seals. I wish them luck if they are on Pella doors. You might want to just go with Hass Wholesale to save time.

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