Category Archives: the mindlab

Ensatina eschscholtzii eggs

This weekend while clearing some vines in the yard, we had to move a rock and found some eggs, which I believe belong to the ensatina eschscholtzii, a type of salamander found in the PNW. We put the rock back, so hopefully we didn’t disturb things. I haven’t seen a lot of amphibians or reptiles out here, a toad here and there, two garter snakes, and then a couple years ago some salamanders in up near Lake Sylvia. Pictures of the eggs are and other salamanders are below.

Ensatina eschscholtzii eggs
Ensatina eschscholtzii eggs

Salamanders at Lake Sylvia, WA

The video and photo at Lake Sylvia were taken circa June 2017.

Salamanders at Lake Sylvia, WA
Salamanders at Lake Sylvia, WA

A quick thought on RoboCop

I rewatched RoboCop (1987) with my wife not too long ago. Having grown up with the film and watched it countless times, it’s a film I admittedly have a hard time being objective about. After the fight with ED-209, my wife asked how much of the film was left, and was surprised we had a ways to go. Rightly, she pointed out that the plotting was uneven. This got me to thinking, the film is structured like a video game with 3 different “enemies” or “level bosses”. This isn’t to say the writers, producers, etc. had Castlevania and the ilk on their minds when penning the script, but a quick scan of the video games that came out in 1987 concurrent with the movie would suggest my own experience of it at the time would have not been unlike the games I was playing on Nintendo, Sega, and in the Arcade.

And for what it’s worth, Arrow Video’s reissue of the film is amazing.

RoboCop (1987)
RoboCop (1987) Arrow Video Steelbook

Bird strike

Approximately 47 years ago, back in May of 2020, during the ‘early days’ of the pandemic, we had a bird strike. This was the most exciting thing that happened that week—most definitely the most exciting thing for the cats.

I noticed a small bird on our 2nd floor balcony. We called the local Dept. of Natural Resources, who informed us that we should let the bird sit for about an hour. They usually recover in that time period. If not, chances were slim that the bird would survive. They also gave us some locations we could take the bird to if it needed some sort of care, though the guy asked what type of bird it was. His reasoning was that if it was a nuisance species, whatever bird sanctuary we took it too would probably kill it. Merlin Bird identified it as a Brown Creeper.

We decided to let birdo sit on the deck, and sure enough, about an hour later, it started moving around. It hopped across the decking a bit, pooped, and then decided to scale the screen door. When it started to move, the cats noticed it. They lost it. It was quite humorous, as both cats wanted to get the bird, but when Neutron got too close to Alice, Alice would swat Neutron, and Neutron would get offended that she didn’t have unfettered access to the window to watch the bird.

The bird rested on the screen a bit, pooped again, and then flew off.

Turd on the Run

Sometimes it amazes me that one of the biggest rock and roll bands of all time, The Rolling Stones, on one of their definitive albums, Exile on Main St., released a song called Turd on the Run.

Turd on the Run

I guess I should not be surprised that in the 48 years that have passed since that song was released, it has never been played live on tour.

Addendum: A cactus story

I recently wrote a brief history of a cactus I own. There were two more pictures of the cactus during and immediately after the repotting process that I just found. I have updated the original post, but for those who don’t want to reread it to look at the two new pictures, they are below.

First up is the main cactus and the small cutting removed from the pot. The main cactus was replanted up to the top of the brown part on the base.

This the cactus pup, not shown above, immediately after planting. It was always very green, but at first it was very shriveled.

A cactus story

I have a cactus that I got some time ago. I think it came from our house in Salisbury, possibly from Dad’s office when he was still working. That part I am unsure of. This is possibly an early sighting of it from 2005 when it was still in Salisbury.

At some point, it moved in with me while I was living in the Philadelphia area. Here is a shot of it on the windowsill (2012), about 8 months before I moved from Pennsylvania. It looks very green, nice and healthy.

I don’t have many pictures of it in the intervening years. I did not intend to document the life and times of a cactus. It moved with me to Ohio, and then again to our house in Cleveland. At some point, it started to get a bit yellow at spots. You can’t see it in this photo, but it had started around this time (2016).1

The cactus continued to look worse and worse over the next 2-3 years. I didn’t know what to do. I continued to water it to no avail. Finally, I looked up how to repot and transplant cactuses. I then proceeded to wait a few more months to do anything before I finally took action. Here is what the cactus looked like at that point in time, one year ago in 2019.

Notice how most of it is dead. There was a quadrant of it that was still yellowish-green, and a tiny cactus pup on one of the rightmost stalks that was still green. It’s also a bit hard to see, but one of the yellowish-green stalks on the left had been broken, but it was still alive. It was time for surgery.

Upon removing the cactus from the pot, I realized it was originally 3 cuttings. Two had completely died except for the little cactus pup—he got cut off. The remaining original cutting was cleaned and set aside. The broken nub was also cut off. You are supposed to let the cuttings callous and dry out for a few weeks before repotting, so that was what I did. I didn’t expect any of them to make it. The cactus pup was only about 1/2″ long, the little cut knob was maybe 1″, and the main cutting didn’t look great.

Here is the main cactus and the small cutting removed from the pot. The main cactus was replanted up to the top of the brown part on the base.

This the cactus pup, not shown above, immediately after planting. It was always very green, but also very shriveled.

Nothing really happened for about 6–8 weeks. Then they slowly started to get greener. The main cutting was first as it had already had developed roots. Then surprisingly the little cactus pup started to plump up and get a little taller. The following two pictures are from about 2 months after repotting. The other small cutting took a bit longer, but also started to turn greener and plumper.

By the end of the year, 6 months after repotting, everything was looking really great. The original cactus was growing new nubs, the cactus pup (in the center) was actually bigger than the cutting that was originally twice its size, and the cutting (on the right) was coming along nicely as well.

I’m sure they have more to grow. As they stand now, the originally cactus is about 8″ tall, the 1/2″ cactus pup is now 4″ (in the middle again), and the cutting is about 2.5″. They all have new nubs growing off of them. It’s quite amazing.

Update

I found two more pictures of the cactus and have inserted them into this post. The changes are summarized in the addendum.


  1. Yes, those are the same succulents to the left of the cat that are in the previous photo as well. They are still alive and kicking.