Random Thursday: Random Is As Random Does

Photo: Sunset as viewed from the Marina at Horseshoe Bay Resort, Texas

Howdy, y’all…thanks for stopping by. Today is National High Five Day, and coincidentally, it’s also National 420 Day, which puts the “high” in “high five,” so we’ve (or you’ve) got that going for you. That, and also the fact that you didn’t have a ticket to ride on the Starship today. *whew*

Let’s kick off this edition of Random Thursday by mocking our local (sort of…we have no choice but to consider Austin TV stations as “local”) media by viewing this screen capture of a story one of them was running yesterday morning about how folks were getting smaller than expected tax refunds this year. Only instead of referring to tax refunds, they continually talked about…well…you’ll see…

Photo of TV screen showing a caption of smaller 'tax returns'
Perhaps it’s the IRS’s paper saving initiative.

But, now that I think about it, the tax forms do seem to be getting a wee bit tinier:

Photo: Me holding a teensy Form 1040 tax return
Maybe the returns a directly proportional to the amount of income being reported.

Alert Gazette readers will recall that about a month back I mentioned that the red-tailed hawks have returned to their nest down the street and appear to be incubating eggs. I checked on them yesterday evening and was able to confirm that fact:

Photo: Red-tailed hawk in nest containing two eggs, and staring at the drone hovering a few feet above
He or she wasn’t thrilled about the drone hovering overhead.

I was pressure washing the back porch on Monday (which, this time of year, is about as effective as sweeping sand off the beach) and I noticed something other than leaves and pollen being swept along by the stream of water. It was a tiny gecko — a Mediterranean house gecko, to be specific — with a missing tail.

It appeared bedraggled and exhausted, no doubt due to the cold gushing water, and it finally was able to get out of the line of fire and clung to the sill of one of full length windows along the patio.

I finished the task and came back a half hour later to check on the lizard. It was motionless and in the same position as earlier, and I feared that it had died. But when I nudged it with my finger, it scrambled out onto the concrete, so I took a photo.

Photo: Tiny Mediterranean gecko in the process of shedding
Is there a lizard dermatologist in the house?

It wasn’t until I downloaded and enlarged the photo that I discovered that the little guy was in the process of shedding its outer skin, a phenomenon known as ecdysis. You can see in the photo how it appears to be wearing a weird backless suit.

In reading about ecdysis, I learned that this process isn’t comfortable for the lizard, nor is it always successful. When dysecdysis — the inability to complete the shedding process — occurs (the preceding link explains it more fully), the animal can actually perish.

Interestingly, hyperthyroidism can cause more frequent shedding in reptiles. I say “interesting” because (1) I never thought about reptiles having thyroid glands, and (b) I myself have been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. That might explain a lot, including my inclination to lie prone on a flat rock and soak up the sun’s rays.

By the way, while at first I feared that the pressure washer might have broken off the gecko’s tail, a closer inspection seems to indicate that it’s an older wound, and it’s in the process of regenerating.

If a shedding gecko isn’t your idea of natural beauty, perhaps this next observation will help.

I noticed a tiny — probably an inch long — moth on the wall of our house, and even from a distance it had a rather striking appearance…even more so close up:

Photo: Eight-spotted Forester Moth (Alypia octomaculata)

This is an Eight-spotted Forester moth (Alypia octomaculata), a species with which I was hitherto unfamiliar. Moths tend to be more drab than their colleagues of the butterfly persuasion, but this species can hold its own in that department.

The range of these moths in the US is wide, from Canada to Florida, but not west of Texas.

In Conclusion: How come they never ban the books that really deserve it?

Meme- Teacher: Name a book that made you cry. Student: Algebra textbook
Also trig, geometry, calculus, economics, physics, …


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