Monday, March 30, 2009

I'll do anything


I'll do anything for attention.  The leg continues to heal, but yesterday both my forearms broke out in tiny itchy bumps (blisters), and my face hurts.  We went back to the leg mechanic for a follow-up this morning.  He let me discontinue the antibiotic, at least for a few days, and gave us some hydrocortisone cream to see if that would ease the issue.  I suspect the problem might be a combination of antibiotic and sun exposure.  I’ll try to avoid both for a few days.


Meanwhile, we continue to change the packing and dressing on the leg as prescribed.  The ripping continues.  Twice a day, every day, Mistress Judy approaches to administer the pain.  I don’t want anyone to worry about me, though.  I embrace the pain.  I’ve learned to love it.  Now I crave it.



Friday, March 27, 2009

How hot was it today?


It was soo hot, we had to close the windows and turn on the air conditioning.  Cold front roaring through tonight.  Back down into the seventies tomorrow.  Meanwhile, all the highways in Denver were closed by the blizzard yesterday.


We had a pack of dowitchers feeding along the end of the pond this morning, then a spoonbill flew over, then a kingfisher, then a merlin.  We decided to make a day list for Gulf Waters; what we could see from inside our park, including the end of the boardwalk.  A pied billed grebe showed up.  A pair of mottled ducks.  Piping plover.  Dunlin.  Laughing gulls circled, calling.  Forster’s tern circled, then crashed into the pond in front of us, after minnows.  26 birds in all.


A half hour at Paradise Pond tonight yielded couch’s kingbird, scissortail flycatcher, orange crowned, yellow rumped, and nashville warblers, northern parula, and yellow throated warbler (our first there of the season).



Thursday, March 26, 2009

FW: Weather report

I mean grosbeaks.  We saw blue grosbeaks today, not buntings.



From: Steve Taylor []
Sent: Thursday, March 26, 2009 9:19 PM
To: Bill Taylor (Bill Taylor); David Taylor (David Taylor); Tom Taylor (Tom Taylor)
Subject: Weather report



There is a blizzard in Denver.  Severe weather here too.  Thunderstorm alert.  Possibility of a tornado.  Only got a little rain.  It cooled off ten degrees.  But then we were at eighty before the storm.


Lincoln’s sparrows and blue buntings today.





A closer look.



Weather report


There is a blizzard in Denver.  Severe weather here too.  Thunderstorm alert.  Possibility of a tornado.  Only got a little rain.  It cooled off ten degrees.  But then we were at eighty before the storm.


Lincoln’s sparrows and blue buntings today.



Wednesday, March 25, 2009



Spring break was quick and easy this year.  The park stayed full; we’ve been pretty much full since the middle of January.  The character of the park changes dramatically during spring break though.  By spring break, the winter Texans have started leaving, and they’re replaced mostly by travel trailers with young families; parents with their own kids.  Short-term friendly neighbors instead of long-term friendly neighbors.  For two weeks the streets are filled with bicycles, skateboards, and scooters.  It’s a lively change from the rest of the winter.  I like it.  I take my scooter out and play with the kids.


During Spring Break, we stay off the parts of the beach that are filled with spring breakers getting drunk.  It takes a little more time to drive through town.  It can take two or three cycles to get through the first stop light in town (there are only three stop lights), instead of the normal one time, but that’s certainly manageable.  The ferry line can be long, but we can check the ferry-cam before we decide to go.


Warm weather now.  80s and 60s every day in the 10 day forecast, except for two days the highs will only be in the 70s.  A steady breeze from the southeast.


Remember last year’s Big Day with Jon?  170 birds.  Pretty good.  Jon is putting together this year’s plan.  We’ll start earlier and end later.  We’ll get more than 170.


A quick trip to Paradise Pond tonight before dark got some good birds.  White eyed vireo, blue-gray gnatcatcher, northern parula, common yellowthroat, hooded warbler, lincoln’s sparrow, indigo bunting.  An early wave of the mass migration still to come.


Can you spot the gray catbird in this picture?



Monday, March 23, 2009



Saturday, our friends Ron and Linda moved into the site they just bought next door to us.  Ron is the guy we get to claim as our oldest living friend.


Judy and I drove down to Riviera Sunday, and birded from there over to Baffin Bay and north.  It was a nice sixty-five bird day.  The highlight for us was a flock of common ground doves.  Got spragues pipits and scissortail flycatchers too.


Monday, a follow-up visit with the leg doctor.  We’re healing well.  For the first time he didn’t have to cut out any new black stuff.  We may really be past the infection.  Still on antibiotics indefinitely though.  Whistling ducks in our pond.  A long billed dowitcher.  A couple snipe.  We have hummingbirds again.


Louisiana Waterthrush at Paradise Pond.  The weather is great.



Sunday, March 22, 2009

Wet to dry bandaging


Wet to dry bandaging.  It sounds so benign.


It isn’t.


Remember when I remarked that this whole thing with my leg wasn’t very painful?  Well, the nature of the game has changed.  We’re in the process of re-growing skin where, for awhile, there was none.  We want to grow new skin from the bottom up and the sides in.  We can’t let it just scab over.  We need to keep it open.


Wet to dry bandaging involves packing wet gauze into the wound, and wrapping it in place with breathable bandaging.  As the gauze dries out, and the wound simultaneously heals, a scab forms.  The gauze packed into the wound becomes part of that scab.  Then the gauze is ripped out, ripping off any scab, down to the new fresh skin, and new gauze packed in its place.  Wet to dry bandaging just doesn’t describe the sensation.  Packing and dressing sounds a little more ominous, but still; entirely inadequate.  Maybe we should call it ripping and stripping.  That comes a little closer to reality.


Have you seen the chest waxing scene in the movie Forty Year Old Virgin?  That’s me, twice a day, every day (as I get better).



Saturday, March 21, 2009

Rain gauge


So the rain gauge conclusion is that it doesn’t matter if the rain is coming straight down or at an angle.  Up to a point, the rain gauge will measure the correct amount of rain.  If you go back to my earlier visualization, that we’re sampling a tube of air and raindrops above the top of the rain gauge, maybe instead of imagining tilting that tube and slicing it off diagonally, we should just imagine the drops coming down at an angle inside a tube that is vertical.  Then, for every drop of rain that blows away and escapes the rain gauge, another drop of rain will be blown in and be captured by the rain gauge.


Of course, if there is a strong wind, and the rain is blowing sideways over the top of the rain gauge, you could get plenty wet, without any rain ending up in the gauge. Unlike a rain gauge, we collect rain from any direction.


Then again, I particularly enjoy the thought that a good wind vortex might actually pull some water from the gauge, resulting in negative rain!


Friday, March 20, 2009

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I've been thinking


I’ve been thinking about rain gauge accuracy.


In calm weather, the rain gauge will sample a column of air and water directly above it; a column of air and water exactly the diameter of the rain gauge.  That’s our baseline accuracy.


But what happens when the rain is not coming straight down?  What happens to the accuracy when there is wind with the rain?  If you imagine a column the same diameter as the top of the rain gauge, and slice it off perpendicularly, you’ll have a surface area on the end of the column exactly equal to the surface area of the top of the rain gauge.  If you cut that column of air off diagonally though, indicating the rain striking the top of the rain gauge at an angle, you’ll increase the surface area of the face; the part that intersects the top of the rain gauge.  For the same amount of rain, you’ll collect more rain than if the rain were coming straight down!


But then, if it rains too hard sideways you won’t get any rain in the rain gauge at all, it will just blow straight across the top.  Probably, after a certain point, you get decreasing amounts of water in the gauge as more blows across, so my column of water analogy doesn’t hold up.  The surface area on the face of a column of water would continue to increase, the more acutely you cut across it, to almost infinity, before it suddenly went to zero when the angle went to zero.


Guess I’d better think about something else ….., like maybe how to make perfectly clear ice-cubes in a home refrigerator.



Wednesday, March 18, 2009



Damn, this thing is creepy.  The doctor did more cutting and cleaning out today, but there is also some healing going on.  It is simultaneously getting better and not getting better.  Today’s work should clear the path for improved improvement.  We want all of it to improve, not just parts of it.


Turns out I didn’t even get the baddest bacteria.  This didn’t culture out as MRSA staph; I grew a Vibrio species.  It’s not an easy thing to have, but there is a good chance of curing this one.


I’ve got the easy assignment for this whole thing.  I can barely even see where the problem is on the side of my lower leg.  All I have to do is what people tell me to do.  I don’t envy Judy her job.  She has turned into Home Nurse, changing packing and redressing the wound every day.  Of course she is doing a super job.


Physically, this is not that tough to tolerate.  I don’t have to take prescription pain medicine.  Today the doctor even cleared me for more vigorous exercise than easy walking.  I’m back on the Trikke.



Tuesday, March 17, 2009



Doing everything we’re supposed to do with the leg.  Oral antibiotics.  A topical antibiotic nasally.  Packing and dressing twice a day.  The wound is still inflamed, but the swelling in the foot has gone down.  Can’t really tell if the flesh eating monster has been tamed.  We’re looking forward to a return visit to the doctor tomorrow for an authoritative opinion on its condition.


This experience gives me great sympathy for all who have gone before.  This thing ballooned on me in two days.  It would be a terrible progression if there were no effective treatment.



Monday, March 16, 2009



I feel a football nightmare coming.


Here is what has happened so far:  First, this offseason, the Broncos fired Coach-for-Life Mike Shanahan.  Then the new coach they hired to replace Shanahan, and Jay Cutler our Pro Bowl quarterback got into a tiff, even before football season; before they had a practice or even a meeting.  Now the quarterback is demanding to be traded.


My nightmare?  Kansas City hires Mike Shanahan.  Jay Cutler goes to play quarterback for Shanahan, the coach he loves.  Kansas City kicks Denver’s ass every year for the next ten years.



Clear and warmer today.  Seventies.  Got our beach weather back.



Sunday, March 15, 2009



A drive to the Valley for a visit with Tom and Kathy today.  Yesterday when Judy told Annie we were going to go see Uncle Tom, Annie ran up on the dash of the motorhome and looked out the left side of the windshield to where Tom and Kathy’s motorhome was parked last time they were here.  I think Annie remembers them well.  Annie about turned inside out wiggling hello to them when we arrived there, too.


Nice cloudy weather for the drive.  Showers off and on.  Warmer rain today.  The temperature was back up to the sixties.  Hawks, caracaras, and vultures all along the way to keep us occupied.


We got a tour of their RV park in Mercedes.  The park is huge, but it’s divided up into neighborhoods.  Nicely laid out.  Lots of facilities.  A casita on the lot they bought.  Room to expand with more concrete or pavers.  Room to mess with the layout or landscaping if they want.  Lots of possibilities.  Looks like a great choice for them.


While we had light rain off and on today, we missed the giant thunderstorm at Gulf Waters.  We weren’t here to pull in the bedroom slide that leaks during severe storms.  Wet carpet in the bedroom for us to dry out.  No problem.  We’ve done that before.


Bigger problem for others.  We learned tonight that one of the owners here was killed by a lightning strike.



Saturday, March 14, 2009



The weather continues cool and rainy through tomorrow; then we’ll be back to our 70s and 80s.  Town is crowded by the Spring Breakers.  When the weather warms the beaches will be crowded too.


Meanwhile, our friend John went flyfishing in Argentina



Friday, March 13, 2009

Who knew?


Who knew South Texas would be such a home to virulent infections?  MRSA. Methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus.  It’s not like Colorado here.  Different infections.  Different antibiotics.  The wound wasn’t getting any worse, but it wasn’t getting any better either.  Today we stepped it up a notch.  I’m now on the oral antibiotics.  The doctor cut out the mat of dead skin and live bacteria with a scalpel and scissors.  I have a quarter sized crater a quarter inch deep in my leg.  No skin left there; down to the subcutaneous fat layer.  We left with detailed instructions about packing and dressing.  If we’re good about following directions, I could be healed up in a month or so.


Had the exit conference for the carry-over job we’ve been trying to finish this week.  Good to get that one done.  Nice job, Janis.


Cold and rainy today.  We were lucky to get such great weather for Matt’s visit.  Not much fun for this week’s spring breakers for the first couple days.  After that, though, it will be warm and wonderful again.


Louisiana Waterthrush at the edge of our pond.  First of the year for us.  The start of the migration.  He must’ve just landed from a 600 mile flight across the Gulf.



Thursday, March 12, 2009



My leg blew up like a balloon last night.  Guess I shouldn’t have run on it.  I just wanted to see how it felt.  Didn’t hurt at all.  I only ran a little .  Mostly I just rode the Trikke.


It’s better today.  The swelling has gone down to pre-run condition.  I’ll have to find an exercise to do that doesn’t involve that leg though.  I could hop in place maybe.  No calisthenics; can’t do pushups.  My left shoulder fell off a while back.  Maybe I can just walk a little.


Cold and windy today.  Stayed warm inside and worked.  Maybe, finally, we’ll get some rain.  It hasn’t really rained in months.  Maybe Paradise Pond could be a pond again.


Called and talked to people at the Denver Office.  I can tell they’re all over their heads in busy-season when they start to giggle uncontrollably in the middle of a sentence for no apparent reason.  It’s a cyclical business, this CPA thing we do.  This is the OhmygodwhathaveIgottenmyselfinto part.



Wednesday, March 11, 2009



I apologize for not sending out many bird pictures lately.  I try to find a little time each day to at least think about birds, but I’m not always successful.


The cankle remains an issue.  It’s not any better yet.  I don’t think it got any worse in the last 24 hours though.  That in itself is an improvement of sorts.  Soaking, scraping, topical antibiotics.  Maybe tomorrow it will be better.


It got so warm today we almost had to turn on the air conditioning.  Got out the floor fan instead.  Doors and windows remain open.



Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Story


The story has evolved.  Now the wound on my leg is the result of a giant rattlesnake grabbing me by the ankle as I rode past, and throwing me to the ground.


Of course that story isn’t really true.  He’s actually way too little to have knocked me off the Trikke.



Monday, March 9, 2009



Paid a visit to the walk-in clinic today.  I scraped my leg just above the ankle a few days ago (Trikke accident.  Caught an edge).  The body is programmed to fight off infection, but in this case the body appears to be losing.  The ankle is getting noticeably fuller.  (No wrinkles.  Now it looks younger than the rest of me.)  The assistant who checked me in at the clinic was nice enough, until she decided to describe that portion of my leg as a Cankle (calf/ankle).


At any rate, the Cankle is now turning truly vibrant colors, and threatening to expand its influence to other parts of the body.  We’re going to put an antibiotic ointment on it and see if that helps.  I’m otherwise happy with the balance of bugs in my body, so I declined to take the general antibiotic.  The doctor gave be a prescription for it just in case the infection starts spreading seriously north.


Now I have a nice looking gauze wrap around my ankle that provides absolutely no clue to what is going on beneath it, so I’m telling everyone it’s a rattlesnake bite.



Sunday, March 8, 2009





But in the end, we could tell who the winners were.





The contest was judged by Billy Ray, who happens to own a Barbecue Restaurant in Oklahoma, so the whole event was in the hands of a trained professional.  There was, however, suspicious activity.

  Money changed hands with the judge.

  Alcohol may have been involved.

  Some teams managed to incorporate the judge’s name into their team name.

  And some teams shamelessly used the judge’s own sauce (Billy Ray’s Barbecue Sauce) on their entries.






Some entries were entirely covert.





Some cooked on stainless steel.





The first annual Gulf Waters Barbecue Cook-Off.  Guys chose up sides and created teams.  Each team split off to cook their meat.  Some teams cooperated and shared space on traditional facilities.





We finished the Port Aransas tour with Matt yesterday.  We took him to the other birding site in town, the birding center (at the water treatment plant), and we took him to the dump (to do some recycling).  Today we had to let him go back to Colorado.


Mostly we just hung around the patio and the beach.  Matt got to meet all the people while he was here, and he made friends with the pond turtles as well.  He got one to come all the way up out of the water.



Friday, March 6, 2009



Picked up Matt from the airport yesterday.  This is so cool.  Our daughter visited us here on the island in December.  Now our son is here for the weekend in March.


The Corpus Christi Airport is simple.  It’s not like DIA in Denver.  Departures are on the lower level.  Arrivals on the upper level.  You go up the escalator and there is the concourse.  The gates are numbered; one through six.  You don’t really even need a gate number.  From the top of the escalator you can see every gate.  Checking the screen for arrivals to see if his flight was on time, every single flight for the day was on one screen.  Every single flight for the day was also from Dallas or Houston.  That’s it.


No checked bags.  An easy walk out.  Here’s how small the airport is: from the top of the escalator to go back down to ground level, you can look out the window into the parking lot and see the car.  No train.  No shuttle required.  No sir.  Not like DIA in Denver.


We’re showing Matt the sights.  We drove down the beach.  We drove past Horace Caldwell Pier and watched porpoises and sea turtles at the ship channel.  We showed him black skimmers at Jetty Beach.  We’ve been to the marina park, the ferry landing, Paradise Pond, and dinner at Juan’s.  Coffee on the patio this morning.  A walk on the beach.


He can do this.



Tuesday, March 3, 2009



The world’s most perfect weather day.  Mid seventies.  Blue sky.  A light breeze off the water.


Got the internet dish retracted.  A week ago, in a windstorm, we tried to put it down to protect it, but it didn’t go down right.  It lost its calibration and only rotated part of the way around before it tried to do the jackknife routine, folding up on the roof.  The problem was it only did a half jackknife.  Then it tried to fold itself diagonally into the roof until it stalled and stuck in that position.  Got to do something about that.  Can’t drive the coach with the dish part way up.  Today, with some help from tech support, driving the dish with computer commands from my desk, we got it to fold down properly.  Now, at least, we’ll be able to drive somewhere to get it fixed when it’s time.


Hard to describe what I’m doing at work.  Keeping up with current jobs.  Working on promotion for future jobs.  Looking forward a few years to what we want to be doing and where and how we want to be doing it.  The Denver Office will always do the same stuff; audits, reviews, and 990 tax forms for nonprofit organizations.  The mobile/digital part of the practice, the part I do, changes every year.  I’m looking for a little more stability and clarity than that now.  Been working on it for months.  Don’t have it yet.  I’ll get it though.


Got the hermit thrush and the wood thrush at the same time at the pond tonight.



Sunday, March 1, 2009



Fifty eared grebes in the surf.  A sandwich tern at jetty beach.  The first of the season for us.  White tailed hawk.  Barn swallow.  Orange crowned warbler from the window.  Paradise Pond robins, catbirds, mockingbirds, cardinals, a plethora of yellow-rumps.  A hermit thrush.  A brown thrasher.  A great kiskadee.  Didn’t get the winter wren.  Still want it.