Beautiful predators

I’m still laughing about the Gang of Violent Otters, every time I say or think the phrase. It’s such a Monty Python idea.

But it got me thinking. Otters are cute and cuddly-looking, beautiful in their own way, but they’re known to be fearsome aquatic predators. And that got me thinking about other predators. Eagles, hawks, mountain lions, wolves, tigers – all beautiful predators. Polar bears, orcas, grizzlies, domesticated cats – same.

So why are most predators beautiful? There are exceptions – sharks (one could argue their beauty), hyenas (definitely not beautiful), and spiders (again, one could argue).

I asked my friend Google, and I can’t find’s any scientific study of the correlation between beauty and predators. I’m not the only person who’s had this thought, as seen in this website.

And, what about humans? I’m not sure where we would fall on the beauty scale, but compared to tigers, orcas, etc., I’d say pretty low. We’re a mangy bunch.

And finally, another big question. What caused humans to become predators, as opposed to all our ape cousins who are primarily herbivores?

A recent study discussed this idea, and posits that humans were the original superpredator, and that eating lots of fatty meat fed the development of larger and larger brains. I suppose it’s possible, but again, what triggered humans to start hunting animals? Perhaps we’re just built that way – no trigger required.

Dune context

There are lot of hyperbolic, interesting things being written about Dune right now, but none come close to this detailed, scholarly essay on I even learned a new word reading it: conlanger.

Sure, I picked up on the Muslim/Middle Eastern flavor of the Fremen and Arrakis, but this essay reveals a whole new level. Who knew?

Photo Monday

I haven’t done much with photography lately. So here are a few of my favorite pictures from the vault. All great memories.

FALL BOUNTY, taken in Nashville in 2018.






Life full of holes

84 holes of golf in 4 days. Great fun, great competition, but I’m done with golf for a while. My cup runneth over. And everything aches.

The weather in NOLA has been spectacular since Thursday. Friday it was still humid, but it wasn’t too bad. And the last two days have been cool, sunny and dry. Not typical for this area, but I’m grateful.

Next up, a couple of days at home and then off to North Carolina for nephew Chase’s wedding. Then, a solid month back in Socal. Or maybe check myself into a rehab program. A little less food and wine (OK, a lot less) for a month would be smart. But this traveling retired life is pretty good.

Feature photo above is one of the beautiful moss-covered oaks that dominate the Tchefuncta course. This one is on the 15th hole, my nemesis. But it’s a beauty.

Game day

Big day today. My buddy Jon and I won our flight in the golf tournament – pretty much the only golf event I’ve ever won. Normally I’m a bucket of nerves when there’s any outside “pressure” on my game, but not this weekend. Then we went on to the shootout for flight winners, where we placed 5th in the group of 10 shootout teams – respectable, but not what we hoped. But we had a great time and won enough money to pay for our whole weekend and then some.

Louisiana foodie update – we ate dinner twice in a row at The Greyhound, a gastropub with perhaps the greatest fries ever. Crispy outside, mashed potato good inside, perfectly browned…they’re great. And their wedge salad and wood-fired pizzas are also excellent. The Greyhound is worth a visit or two f you’re in Covington.

Kentucky played Georgia today also, and while the Cats lost, we were respectable. Georgia is tough – they deserve to be #1. Hopefully the Cats can go on to win most or all of their remaining games and have a historic season.

Another solar system

We live in a wonderful time. From

The European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (ESO’s VLT) has taken the first ever image of a young, Sun-like star accompanied by two giant exoplanets. Images of systems with multiple exoplanets are extremely rare, and — until now — astronomers had never directly observed more than one planet orbiting a star similar to the Sun. The observations can help astronomers understand how planets formed and evolved around our own Sun.

Pretty damn good telescope; image from 300 light-years away

Louisiana cooking

Louisville isn’t the only destination with great food. I’m in Covington LA and we’re two for two on meals so far.

After a day on airlines, we decided to eat somewhat light so we visited Seiler Bar. We shared some generous and very tasty hors d’ouvres including chorizo shrimp, lamb chops, and seared scallops. With a nice bottle of Willamette Valley Pinot. Great atmosphere, great food.

Today we had lunch at Lola, and the food there was a home run. I had a fired chicken sandwich and truffle fries that was as good as any chicken sandwich ever. Jon had a bowl of mac and cheese topped with pulled pork and some picked jalapenos. Looked delicious, and he confirmed that.

Every time I’ve been to the north shore of Lake Ponchatrain the food has been memorable. So far this visit is no different.

To oldly go, where no man has gone before

I failed to acknowledge one notable event yesterday. William Shatner, Captain Kirk himself, made it into space (well, to the edge of space) at the age of 90. There’s so much about this that’s cool. The obvious thing is his age – that pretty much crushes the idea that only young healthy folks can survive a launch. Good news for me. I might make it to the Moon after all.

The other cool aspect is the life imitating art part. Captain Kirk goes to space in real life! I spent many nights as a youngster hiding in the hallway watching Star Trek surreptitiously, because it was on way past my bedtime. Mom and Dad may have known I was there, but I doubt it. Then, 15+ years later, I spent many afternoons at college with my geeky friends drinking and watching those same Star Trek episodes. We knew every line and scene – that made it all the more fun.

It *is* kind of sad that the spaceship he rode looks like something from a scifi-porn movie. Or the Hitchhiker’s Guide. The Enterprise was iconic and cool. The Blue Origin New Shepherd…not so much.

But we take what we can get in real life, and I’m happy for Kirk/Shatner realizing this dream.

Final note – I can’t take credit for the post title. I read it somewhere last night, and it’s too good not to share.

On the road again

I’m back on SWA today, headed for NOLA. Flights running on time so far (fingers crossed), still packed with mostly-silent masked passengers. Still full of young fashion-conscious women with the ubiquitous flat-brimmed hats.

I think it’ll be another six months before the airlines and health officials feel OK about removing the universal mask rule in airports and planes. Of course, that’s just *after* we complete our massive 3-4 month travel binge. Go figure.

The weather in NOLA looks great for the weekend. Last time Jon and I tried to do the golf weekend (2018), we ran into hurricane weather. Blew us right off the course. 2019 and 2020 were casualties of COVID without vaccinations, but here we are in 2021, ready to go thanks to mRNA tech.

Now if I can just remember how to swing a golf club…

Where am I?

Back in Socal after a loooong travel day. Twelve-plus hours door to door – that’s about four hours longer than normal. Southwest Air is really a mess. They got us here (thank you), but delay after delay added a lot of time to our trip. I sure hope they get things figured out – I have about eight more SWA flights this month.

And the weather between KY and Socal is exactly backwards. We left a KY that was warm and dry, and we arrive in Fallbrook and it’s cold and wet. 70 degrees at night in KY, and 50 degrees at night in Socal. Go figure. This morning workers are furiously harvesting grapes in the vineyard below us – I imagine the cold wet weather isn’t what red Italian varietals like for ripening.

In a few days I’ll be in NOLA for the annual Tchefuncta member-guest golf tournament, where my friend Jon Sessions and I try to win some money and have some fun. Really looking forward to that – the members there put on a great tournament weekend.

Obligatory grandkids picture above – best buddies.