July 22nd, 2009 - Back To That Weighty Question

Harking back to the post from June 25th, 2009 - "Lighten Up," I have been doing my own albeit unscientific research about my proposed question: "How much difference does filling your gas tank up to only half full make to your miles per gallon?" i.e. Does the weight of a partial tank of gas make an appreciable difference in your vehicle's fuel efficiency?
After simple testing for nearly a month, here is what I have found.

I dug up my MPG records from the last two years (I know, you're choking on my geekdom) and after throwing out 2007 because it had dealt with multiple cars, I figured it would be "more accurate" to compare MPG at the same time of year, as MPG dropped steadily with the onset of colder weather.
The numbers I looked at were the 2008 June & July, 2009 June before "the experiment," and 2009 June & July during the experiment to present. (It's still going on)
I'm not sure when I had an oil change during this period in 2008 (another fairly large influence on gas mileage to the positive) so I guess I'm not all THAT geeky. Actually I could look it up, but I figure since I haven't had one in the two months we'll consider that a non-factor.

Okay. Let's turn to the "hard numbers:"
Are you on the edge of your seat? I am on mine.

During the 2008 June - July period, this was my MPG per tankful for the 2000 Focus wagon, not paying attention to when or where I filled my tank, duration of the trips, or what I was carrying, etc:
28.16 MPG
29.94 MPG
30.87 MPG
25.65 MPG
30.40 MPG
29.56 MPG
29.96 MPG
29.22 MPG Average

During the 2009 period this June before the experiment, this was my MPG per tankful for the 2000 Focus wagon, not paying attention to when or where I filled my tank, duration of the trips or what I was carrying, etc:
30.79 MPG
29.91 MPG
31.83 MPG
30.83 MPG
30.40 MPG
29.56 MPG
29.96 MPG
30.84 MPG Average.

During the 2009 period this June & July during the experiment, this was my MPG for the 2000 Focus wagon, paying attention to only filling my tank up after the "low fuel" light came on, and filling only to precisely 7 gallons (approximately 1/2 tank) of fuel:
30.77 MPG
34.51 MPG
35.07 MPG
33.28 MPG
33.43 MPG
33.41 MPG average.

Conclusions.
My results show (and your results may vary, especially through the use of Irish whiskey and Greek symbols) that my vehicle's fuel efficiency DID in fact go up, and far more than I expected.
Interestingly, the two highest MPG values occurred during a 440 mile round trip, where the car was heavily laden with luggage. I did however keep to my schedule of only 7 gallon fill-up stops.
All the other mileage is "normal," about town and in-town commute mileage, and I was usually re-filling at the same gas station.
Interesting.
Admittedly, this is not a lot of data. However, HOW-EVER, a +9.23% increase in MPG over a month to me is not a mere bagatelle.
Coupled with the fact that I have NEVER EVER in the past gotten over 35 MPG under any circumstances, it gives one pause...
Anybody wanna buy some back seats for a 2000 Ford Focus Wagon...? Spare tire? Jack? Maybe if I take one lugnut off each wheel... hmmm.

July 18th, 2009 - Another Starry Night

Like I don't have enough to do... let me put that another way. Like I don't have enough to do that actually makes money and contributes to the welfare of our household... I find I still have to go back and pick up some of these projects, just because. Because I have to.
Okay. Scuttling past that butchering of the English language, some time ago (November 15th, 2008 - Starry, starry mash-up) I posted a little tribute and abstractification of one of Vincent Van Gogh's images, "Starry Night.'
I found that he had also done a pen and ink on paper sketch of the more famous oil painting, both done while he was in the sanitarium at Saint-Rémy in June, 1889. The painting depicts the view outside his sanitarium room window at night, although it was painted from memory during the day. The sketch actually came after the oil painting, which I thought was interesting.
Above, a skeptical VG shown with the oil and the sketch. He seems to be saying, "Vy are you messing with my stuff, anyvay...?" However, I think if anyone would understand, he would. I feel connected with him somehow.
I ask myself, "How can a life as complex as his and art this insightful be so misunderstood...?"
Don't know.
In the older post, I sort of separated the top and bottom of both images with Paint Shop, lifted the pieces apart, swapped and morphed them back together (after matching their sizes) so that the sketch became the foreground and lower half of the work, and the oil became the upper half.
I liked the result, and it was a fun project. I vowed to pick the whole thing back up again later and reverse the roles of the images, just to see how it would work out. It is now later.
I feel it's good to do this type of thing now and again, as it's easier to learn your "Photoshopping" skills when you have a concept in mind with a direct outcome, then you can see if you can make the program do what you want.
Here are a few of my tries. I couldn't decide what I really liked the best, so I'm throwing them all up here. I think each is unique.
I have to say I really like his original sketch a lot, sometimes oil paintings are just to much for me, like classical music in the grocery store. Just too intense.
His sketch is so subtle and versatile. It could be a pen & ink drawing, a woodblock print, or a pencil drawing. It's cool.
My tries. Apologies Vincent, my hope is that as they say, "imitation being the best form of flattery."

Overlay with selective contrasting and saturation, mostly to remove the misalignment of the smoke on the two images.

Further layered overlay with selective saturation.

Post-modern Van Gogh, with layered dissolve and starshine. Couldn't resist.
Thanks Vincent. You still rock, and always will in my book.

July 15th, 2009 - Leechy Con Carne and Other Delights

My friend Buthidae recently sent me a really cool photo of her neighborhood momma bark scorpion with children Centruroides sculpturatus (she lives in Aridzona) and it reminded me of this leech photo I took a couple years back.
I thought I had posted it on the blog already, but the Infinite Universe hadn't quite 'formed' at that time. Makes me wonder what other mysteries those folders hold...
Anyway, this was a leech that the Summer Camp kids found at Springbrook on a pond-dipping mission. They brought it back to the nature center and we kept it in the "pond tank" for a while, where it occasionally would stick to the glass and show you the (if you'll pardon the expression) suckling babes, swaying in the underwater tides like seaweed.
We ultimately released it back into the pond as there wasn't proper food at the NC for it. Not something you see everyday though. Maybe you are thinking that is a good thing.


Along with that pic, in the same folder were these shots. The frumpy fish, and the leopard gecko licking his chops.

We no longer have the leopard gecko, he has gone back to school, and is now majoring in environmental education. His name was Leo, if animals have to have a name. He was an Eublepharis macularius.
These types of ground-dwelling leopard geckos are native to the deserts of Pakistan, northern India, Afghanistan, parts of Iran, and are a staple in the pet-reptile industry. It's sort of interesting that he is licking his "lips" in the photo, as it brings up that fact that unlike most gecko species, he has eyelids.
The species that don't have eyelids come from the desert too, and because they don't have eyelids, they have to lick their eyeballs with their tongues to keep them moist.
I can imagine humans as reptiles trying to have conversations and having to pause to lick their eyeballs every thirty seconds, it would slow down verbal communications considerably. That and the fact that your tail would come off when somebody pulled it too hard would, I'm sure, cause some mischief.
What is the opposite of anthropomorphizing anyway?

July 13th, 2009 - Happy Birthday!

My birthday sucks. I was just thinking this as I was wishing a friend a 'happy birthday' yesterday. Yeah, happy birthday you lucky sucker! I have a March birthday, and I don't know if it has to do with the time of year or what, but the day is cursed. It is just a sucky day. I can't remember very many of my birthdays that were memorable for being good. I'm serious. Most of the time I either ran upstairs crying, planned some special event that completely failed, or got drunk by myself. The ones that were fun, were so much fun that I really can't remember them.
So the majority have sucked. So far. But consider...
For others in my situation, I'm proposing one of two things:

1) People that have birthdays at nice times of the year trade birthdays with their friends, so that those friends can actually have a chance to have a birthday on a nice sunny day at the lake, or can take a walk down a country road with blowing fall leaves, instead of trudging back home from the optometrist with their new horn-rimmed glasses that they didn't want in the first place through 20 inches of slush (one of my birthday memories.)
Maybe you could even trade birthdays with different friends every year so that everyone could experience their birthday during a different month of the year! This would not only have the advantage of seeing what different months are like for your birthday, but no one would have to wait a year for their birthday to come around again! Par-tee!
Or

2) Celebrate your conception instead of your birthday.
To me this seems more logical. (I know, except in certain cases, and then I don't know if you'd be too proud of your birthday anyway)
It seems like more of an occasion with intent; celebrating mutual love, inception of a family ideal, or just a culmination of a wild night, rather than whatever time you happen to pop out and everyone is waiting around at the hospital groggy from being up for three days, going thank god that's over, just slap the kid (let me slap him, no let me slap him) have a cigar, let's go eat.
With this handy web page I've found, now you can quickly calculate the date of your conception:
You just type in your birthday and subtract nine months and you get the approximate date of your happy accident, divine inspiration, test-tube pouring, or knock-down drag-out party.
Mine is: Sunday, June 12, 1960. Sounds like a chance at nicer weather than mid-March, when it ALWAYS snows buckets of slush, right between high-school hockey tournaments and St. Urho's Day.
With this web page you can also calculate other interesting time quandaries, such as "Interesting dates related to your birthday," where you can calculate when you will be a billion seconds old, or figure out your age or the age of another person, thing or event, down to the second.
You can also calculate the "Duration between two moments in time," down to the second, to see how much younger you are than your identical twin say, or see how long it's been since you had a good birthday, and the like.
Friends I beg of you, let's put an end to sucky birthdays. Put some variety into your lives. Let's not relegate ourselves to a 'go nowhere, do nothing' date in time.
We earthlings practice what is known in metaphysics as "personal time" anyway, so it's all relative. Take out the leap years and your birthdate is all screwed up. It's not that accurate of a calendar, let's face it.
So please, for the benefit of all humankind, let's switch it up.

July 12th, 2009 - Manteca!

Speaking of dung beetles, (dung beetles first, Manteca later) I walked into work at Springbrook Nature Center the other day, and there was a bucket of dung beetles. Along with a bucket of dung.
This is just the sort of variety I've come to expect from working at nature centers. It's almost disappointing when you come in and there's no dung beetles, a deer hasn't jumped in through a double-plate glass window, set off the alarm, and out jumped through another window, leaving a $1100 worth of glass and a trail of blood behind him. Some days the excitement is just hiding in the details, I guess.


This day however, provided the dung beetles. After last week's post about the Scarab beetle, and how they were members of the illustrious and far-reaching dung beetle family, my friend and fellow scorpion photographer Buthidae sent me a link to an NPR audio show: Terry Gross on Fresh Air interviewing entomologist Douglas Emlen about "The Fascinating World of the Dung Beetle" in near perfect synchronicity.
I listened to it on the way in to work and found out some interesting facts about dung beetles. I got there, and there they were!

One pretty obvious characteristic is that the males have all of these specialized appendages in the forms of horns, "antlers," pincers, barbed limbs, and body armor that they use to battle other males when they attempt to breech the tunnel entrance to their mate, with whom they also want to mate. For the size of the creature, the size of the weaponry and armor is stupendous. So large in fact, that most species have traded off the size of some other body part during their evolution to accommodate it.

Pretty cool looking little insects, our guys were a little over an inch long. Some can be over four inches long. They can burrow very quickly, and climb and manipulate things (like dung balls) with their Swiss-army style legs and feet very effictively.

Dung.
It's said that each species of dung beetle (and there are several hundred that we know of) has it's own species of animal that it requires dung from, some even being so clever as to ride around on their host's derriere until they defecate, then they quickly jump down lay some eggs and climb back up to stowaway for the next stop along the bus line.
The dung balls pictured were the actual "egg sacs" for the beetles. The parents lay the eggs inside, roll them up with some extra dung treats stuffed in for junior or sis, and then roll them down a tunnel to wait for hatching day.
They remind me quite a lot of mid-size chocolate Easter eggs, they're pretty solid until one side caves in, then you see the hollow center that you thought was going to be solid chocolate, or vanilla custard. Psych! Most of these had already hatched, but it looked like there were a few late bloomers still waiting for their big day.

On the same day, and on the same counter, (hey, we're still at the nature center here) was a grocery bag full of six pounds of lard, a large bag of Mentos, and two spice jars of ground cinnamon. Talk about a party waiting to happen!
The thing that amazed me (and cracked me up because I've been there many times) is that "lard" in Spanish seems to translate to "manteca" as in Manteca, California; a town near Modesto. I had always wondered why the Mexicans kind of smirked when you mentioned that town.
Note also the "No Requiere Refrigeracion" notice. How they manage that, I do not want to know. Good thing though, as it gets awfully hot in Manteca...
Support your local dung beetle!

July 10th, 2009 - a fait unaccompli

"For amber waves of..." um, fungus.
I don't believe in fate, or pre-destiny. I used to, and I was very superstitious. Only recently did I put together that being superstitious and and believing in pre-destiny are the same thing. You attempt to change the destined outcome of something bad happening if you walk under a ladder, by NOT walking under it. Lucky charms are a similar gambit.
I almost ended a kid's already short life yesterday. I was driving to the library on the neighborhood side-streets on a bright, sunny day. I had turned right onto 51st, and there was a very large black SUV parked on the right side of the street. Unbeknownst to me, because he was riding on the wrong side of the street, in the gutter, in front of the SUV was about a 1o year old kid on a black bicycle, wearing black shorts, carrying a black tennis racket in a black case, driving his black bike with one hand, because he was carrying his tennis racket in the other.
It just so happened the SUV shielded the sight of both of us from each other as I made my turn, and as I drew alongside the vehicle he swerved out around it, directly in the path of oncoming traffic: me.
I jerked the wheel left and towards the middle of the street, something I usually think about when avoiding something in the road, but this all happened too quickly. No one was coming in the other lane. Good thing.
I braked and yelled some expletives at him as he rode past my open passenger window, followed by, "Geez watch what you're doing!" which was all I could come up with I was so flustered. He looked at me like I was in the wrong movie and why was I yelling? I was dumbfounded. I had stopped my car in the middle of the street was watching him in my rear-view mirror as he continued on down the wrong side of the street, headed for the next intersection and more parked cars, oblivious to any impending disaster.
I continued to the library, and started to get irritated. I should have gone back and said something to him and asked him if he knew how close he came to getting killed right then, and that he could avoid another incident by riding on the right side of the road.
What I really wanted to get across to him was that I didn't want to be the guy that creamed him into the pavement. I didn't want to have to be the guy that had to call 911, watch him suffer, try to stop his bleeding, maybe have to try and save his life, explain what happened to the cops, his parents, and have the memory of the whole thing imprinted on my consciousness for the rest of my life.
I felt it would be unfair that something that had sprouted from his total stupidity and carelessness would be my burden.
I wish I would have gone back and tried to explain some of this to him when evidently somewhere along the line, it never got though.
Never happened though. Non-incident. Home for dinner.
This again reminds me of my last post about how things just "happen."

Meanwhile back at the nature center, the quick king snake gets in a little exercise and scouts the perimeter of the classroom. He is nice, but always manages to defecate on me at some point in handling. Such is life.

This time of year at the nature center is infamous for "Animal Distress Calls." People call with what they perceive are, or might actually be, orphaned or abandoned young animals. They want us to come and pick them up. Or they don't call and they bring them in cardboard boxes, milk crates, yogurt containers, and say they gotta go pick up the kids at soccer now, you guys "do this sort of thing" so deal with it, I gotta go.
Or they just leave them at our doorstep. Phew, I'm helping small animals, I got that off of my consciousness, I feel better. Well, it's your worry now.
Or like the other night as I was leaving, they pull up to the parking lot and open live traps and let their woodchucks, squirrels, and raccoons out by the woods at 10 PM. Then as they drive by me staring at them blankly, they roll down their window and say, "I brought you a woodchuck!" Ugh. I shake my head and go through my usual monologue:
"No, no, no... wildlife balance... invasive species... natural protected area..."
Blank stare. Moment of guilt...
"Oops. Sorry, won't do it again, gotta go...."
Meanwhile I'm standing there with my camera wondering if I should take a picture of their license plate. Ugh. They mean well. Well, some do.
Education is the key to our future. PLEASE don't cut our school budgets...
This week, beside the woodchucks it was two bird nests full of baby birds and a kid with a baby bird in his shirt pocket.
Teach your children well...
Teach them to be responsible for their own "fate" and not burden the outcome of another's life with your stupidity. They probably already have enough to worry about.

Addendum: July 11th, 1:43 PM ~
I just realized that I meant to include one of my favorite quotes about 'luck' in with this story. I know I've used it before, but I feel it's again warranted, as it's a great quote, it really makes you think:
"A visitor to physicist Neils Bohr's cottage noticed a "good-luck" horseshoe nailed over the entrance. The visitor commented, "Surely a great scientist such as yourself doesn't believe a horseshoe nailed over a doorway brings you luck...?"
"Of course not," Bohr answered, "but they say it works whether you believe in it or not..."
I wanted to say that I'm not against people having totems or lucky charms. Quite the opposite; I personally feel there is something needful about "keeping" special objects. Whether they bring you luck or not, is another matter. If you believe they are lucky, have special powers or at least special meaning then that's worth something. When it gets to the point that you loose your freedom of choice because of a superstition... maybe THAT is your fate...

July 7th, 2009 - Occupational Hazards


When I was a kid, it was inevitable that your "friend" or mean cousin (Scott, you know who you are) would come up to you and say, "Ya wanna snakebite...!!!?" and before you could say, "Uh, duh... no..." they would grab your bare arm and twist the skin like they were wringing out a dishrag.
You would go, "Ow, hey, knock it off...!" and they would go, "Huh huh, man, I can't believe you're so stupid."
Up until last Thursday, this was about my experience with snakebites personally. Not that I hadn't had a number of near misses. Working at the nature centers, it goes with the territory, AND IF YOU ARE CAREFUL, you can usually see it coming or take measures to avoid it; wearing gloves, washing frequently, using forceps, shielding your hands while cleaning, or just not being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
I, along with most of us have seen a fair amount of snake-biting going on in movies, on TV, in back-county medical training guides, etc. and of course most was of rattlesnakes, cobras and other "fanged snakes" that have serious venom and big teeth. Not all of it was portrayed accurately by the way, and this is one reason I like to and really feel the need to handle snakes for educational purposes, as I feel that much of the public is generally misinformed about snakes and has a hard time getting over some deep-seated inbred loathing of them that comes from an unknown origin.

Bill the Red-tailed Boa Constrictor is the largest and probably oldest of Springbrook's snakes. He was donated many years ago by some of the regulars at the NC (i.e. Nature Center.)
I measured him last year at exactly 73 1/2" in length, which is exactly as long as I am tall, and I've wanted to get an accurate weight on him, but I'm guessing that he weighs somewhere around twenty pounds.
Last Thursday evening, because of the 4th of July holiday we fed the snakes along with all the other animals, as we usually feed them on Saturday, but the building was going to be closed. So Jim the "day guy" who used to work my current evening shift and do the animal care, was going to feed as many of the "mouse-eaters" as possible before he left when I came in at 4:30.
At Springbrook, all the snakes except the Garter eat live mice, and we usually have a public feeding program on Saturday morning.
We are one of the few nature centers that feeds "live," most use frozen mice (which are thawed out before presentation to the animals). There are advantages and disadvantages of both methods. Personally I think it's good that we feed live, it does show you in a dramatic fashion at least a little of how these animals hunt and eat, and it gives them a chance to eat something at least a little more like what they would get in the wild. It also brings up a lot of philosophical questions, which is always good.
So Jim had most of the snakes through at least one mouse by the time I got there and I was ready to finish feeding them and the rest of the turtles, fish, frogs, salamanders, hissing cockroaches, tarantulas, bearded dragon, and fill the birdfeeders.
I used to work the Saturday feeding at SB and help with the snake feedings at Wood Lake NC, and I pretty much knew the drill, but it had been a while since I did it. The primary rule when feeding ANYTHING is: If you don't want to get bit, don't smell like food.
Sense of smell in most animals is very acute and after they get in the "feeding mood" their senses go into overdrive, AND they just start to get the bloodlust. They want to feed as much as they can when food is present, because it might not be there next time.
Well, things were going along swimmingly and it came time to feed Bill.
Jim told me Bill had already had one mouse earlier, and he usually eats three to five at a sitting. I have always gotten along great with Bill, I could read him pretty well and he could read me pretty well, the first time I took him out of his cage by myself I was a little tense and I swear he sensed it, but let me anyway. After that we both loosened up, I've handled him many times and we've also maintained a mutual respect.
My usual rule is to wash my hands between handling or feeding each animal no matter what it is, both for cleanliness and smell reduction. In getting all wound up in feeding the whole menagerie, I may have broken that rule...
I had fed some of the smaller corn snakes some "pinkie" mice (tinys), and I really can't remember if I washed my hands after that or not. As I opened up Bill's cage I noticed he was "attentive" and that he had recently shed and must have been in his water tray to help get the molt off because there was a big gooey mess of wet snakeskin all piled up on his astroturf deck where he usually lays around and / or feeds.
Usually when snakes molt or shed their skin, they don't eat. They can't see very well because they also shed the skin over their eyes (it comes off as part of the whole shed but as sort of a pair of goggles or "eyecups") and they are sort of "glazed over" for a while and feel vulnerable.

In hindsight I can see a pattern that I failed to recognize at the time:
Bill is hungry. Bill has had one mouse about an hour ago. Tim hasn't fed the snakes for a while and isn't thinking it through. Tim handled some mice and may have forgotten to wash his hands. Tim trusts Bill. Bill has the feeding bloodlust. Tim is only thinking, "I gotta get that gooey shed mess out of Bill's feeding area before I drop a mouse down." Tim does not put on gloves. Tim does not use forceps. Tim reaches in Bill's cage and does not do what he normally does, which is SLOWLY, gently, talking sweetly to Bill, reach his hand in and watch Bill to make sure it's okay. Instead Tim forgets all previous experience and reaches right in and grabs the shed mess in a quick motion and throws it in the garbage. Bill raises an eyebrow (if he had one). To cap his idiocy, Tim DOES THE SAME THING AGAIN. Bill mistakes Tim's third finger tip for a pinkie mouse and strikes at it with his mouth open. This is a bad thing.

As you can see, I got off easy. Boa constrictors kill their prey but squeezing it to asphyxiate it. That is NOT to say they DON'T HAVE TEETH. They do. Their teeth are very pointed and very sharp. They are not very long, but there are multiple rows of them. The teeth actually point down the gullet so that once in, the prey can't get out. Caution: DO NOT back up, severe tire damage may result:


The "bite" has healed up well. It's more of a multiple laceration. When I first looked at the bite, there were three pretty deep razor thin punctures with three even finer scratches going across them the opposite direction. I probably did this when I recoiled so quickly.
I was more shocked than anything when it happened, but I shouldn't have been, I broke the rules. I was due, and I was lucky. I jerked back quickly, and I'm not sure if Bill let go on his own or if I just happened to pull back fast enough. If he would have grabbed on and tried to constrict or even gotten more of me in his mouth, things could have been serious. I was alone. There was no venom, and I'm not allergic to this particular snake's saliva, but it would have been a mess trying to get him off if he didn't let go on his own.
Valuable lessons were learned. You don't turn your back on the ocean.
One small mistake or misjudgement can have huge repercussions.
People naturally take the risk when they don't feel there is a risk.
In researching my incident I came across a 2006 story of a New York man where again several of the basic safety rules were broken, and the keeper paid for his mistake with his life.
According to published reports, the 19-year old snake keeper took his 13-foot Burmese python across the street to buy a live chicken for feeding. (!) When he returned to his apartment, he put the snake on the floor in the hallway, opened the door, and took the box containing the chicken into the room. As he stepped back outside, the snake, seeing the movement and catching the scent of live prey, apparently mistook its owner for a chicken and struck at him, constricting and killing him. Alone, the victim was unable to escape the snake's coils. Stupid. But he had probably done something similar and gotten away with it in the past.
Last night, Bill and I made amends. I washed my hands with anti-bacterial soap. I slowly, cautiously opened up his cage, talked to him and touched him on the back, stroked him for awhile. I let him come up to my fist and taste me with his tongue. He "sniffed" a good long time, just to test my nerve. I asked him if he wanted to come out, slowly picked him up and let him explore. I could feel him relax after a while. I did too.
I won't ever think of him the same way again. I learned things, but I may make still mistakes in the future. Things happen. Everyone faces occupational hazards every day, no matter what profession they acquire.
Please: Think.

July 2nd, 2009 - Orange Julius

Legend has it that Julius Caesar gave his name to the month of July, as one of the many things Caesar did was to re-arrange the Roman calendar.
This re-arrangement presented a problem, as in the old calendar it had been the fifth month, and was called "Quintitis." Nowadays we probably wouldn't have given it a second thought, but wise old Caesar realized that it might be a little weird to have the seventh month named "Fifth" or something, so being the magnanimous guy he was, he decided to name it after himself. Julius became Juli, and later July, after we got a hold of it.
Nice month, Julius! The Butterfly Weed likes it too.


Quality control is a priority in this family, as is Dad getting a good workout while mowing the lawn.
"Now we only have one set of ear-protectors son, so you put these on and then cover daddy's ears."

Here's our Stag Beetle again, playing Twister.

And to complete the orange motif, you just can't loose with a Tiger Lily.