Monday, February 29, 2016

One might never mistake


A greater yellowlegs


…for a piping plover.


Even though they both have yellow legs.



Sunday, February 28, 2016

Henry saves the day


We’re rolling down the road on an RV drive-about.  Can’t let the motorhome sit all winter long and expect everything to just work the next time we need it.  We need a shakedown cruise before our trip north in April.


Rolling down the road, Henry and Barbara in the truck and fifth wheel behind us, the check engine light comes on.  That’s not too alarming; it’s happened before.  We pull off onto the shoulder, shut everything down to reboot and fire it back up.  Everything’s fine.  We drive on.  Until the check engine light comes on again.  Okay, this is going to be a bigger problem than a reboot.  The engine temperature is a little high; 230 degrees.  It usually runs about 190.  Pull over again and have a look out back.  Cooling fluid all over the front of the tow-car, dripping out underneath from somewhere up front of the engine, and there is no coolant left in the radiator overflow tank.


Decision time.  What do we do?  We’re only about 15 miles from Lake Corpus Christi State Park, the place we mean to spend the night anyway.  We’re carrying 100 gallons of fresh water in the motorhome.  We’ve got all we need to fill the big overflow reservoir back up and get to our destination for the night, so we do.  Two days reserved there.  Now we’ve got two days to figure out what to do next.  We consider our options:


  1. We go on to Falcon State Park like we’ve planned, stay a couple days, then go back home to get the bus fixed.  A 230 mile total.  We can stop as many times as we need to refill the cooling water, unless the problem gets a lot worse on the way.
  2. We can scratch the rest of the trip and go straight home from Lake Corpus Christi.  It’s only 130 miles, but we don’t really know what kind of leak we have, and how much worse it’s likely to get.  Having to get towed would be a much bigger problem than we’ve got already.  These motorhomes aren’t really made to be towed without damage.
  3. We can scratch the rest of the trip, also scratch the drive home, and go straight to Corpus Christi, only about 40 miles away, and find a repair shop there to take care of us.  That would be the most conservative option, but if we do, we’re turning ourselves over to a repair shop we don’t know (and we don’t get the rest of our trip).


Then Henry changes everything.  He says “No problem.  I’ll have a look at it tomorrow.”  What?  Wait a minute.  Oh yeah.  Henry is a building engineer.  He is also an auto mechanic.  He is also a diesel mechanic.  Henry is a lot of things.  If you need anything mechanical or electrical, Henry is your guy.  And he is right here with us!


Well, sure enough, the next day we open up the engine access door on the floor of the bedroom inside the motorhome.  Henry dives in with a pocket knife in hand and pops back out ten minutes later with a short section of heater hose in his other hand.  The hose had rubbed against a bracket for ten years until it finally got a hole and sprung a leak.  We take the cut-out section to the nearest town, buy an insert and some hose clamps, go back to the motorhome, and within an hour the repair is done, the engine is running, and we’re performing our pressure check.


Henry saved the day.  He not only saved the day, he saved the entire trip.  We spent our two days at Lake Corpus Christi State Park, drove on to Falcon State Park, had a couple great days there, and drove home this afternoon.  The motorhome performed flawlessly.


Thank you Henry.



Saturday, February 27, 2016

Thursday, February 25, 2016




I don’t think so.


It wasn’t standing on the road when I saw it anyway.


I’d call it a Tree Runner.



Wednesday, February 24, 2016

At first look


One can wonder if they’re looking at a spotted sandpiper


… or a solitary sandpiper.


It helps the identification considerably though, if they’ll just stand right next to each other.


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Evening light












Fades to foggy dark.



Monday, February 22, 2016

Jeb Bush is out


He might have seemed like one of the sane ones, but then I remember he’s the guy who, while he was the governor of Florida, using his influence and the courts, kept Terri Schiavo’s body alive while she was brain-dead, for no medical reason, and prolonged everyone’s agony for another two years, for his own benefit.





Sunday, February 21, 2016

Follow-up on Conner and Ari


They were the youngest kids at the Boulder Valley School District Science Fair Awards Ceremony.  They’re 6th graders.  Most were 8th graders.  Becky says they looked little.


There were a dozen different categories; a dozen different schools.  Conner and Ari’s entry was in mathematics and computer science. They placed third in their category.  (First in their school.)


No prize money.  They won admiration, ribbons, hugs, and dinner out with mom and dad.


Saturday, February 20, 2016




Coming in from the scrub forest.


Drinking up the bird bath.



Friday, February 19, 2016

What is wrong with this picture?


Well, it’s not really a picture; I’m thinking about our political process again.


Anybody can run for president.  Up until the first few primaries, any candidate is viable.  The first two or three primaries narrow the field to a select few however.  If you don’t do well in the first three primaries, you won’t be able to attract any more campaign money, so you’re effectively eliminated.


Okay.  I get it.  The field needs to be narrowed somehow, but I have a problem with the “how”.  For two out of the three first states, we’ve been hearing nonstop about the power of the evangelical voter.  Two out of the first three states are about as “evangelical” as you can get.  The system sets a religion test at the very outset, and if you don’t pass that, you don’t get to continue.


I realize evangelicals are a significant portion of the population, and their voice should be heard, but I don’t think they represent the majority of the country.  Is that fair, that first the field is narrowed by the most religious voters, then the rest of the country gets to decide among the remaining?  If that does seem like a good idea, then what if it were the opposite, and the three states that were the least religious were the first hurdle to pass on the way to our presidency?  Would that be just as good?



Thursday, February 18, 2016

Proud grandparent alert!


It’s that time again.  District Science Fair!


Conner and Ari presented their project on Cause and Effect.  (Conner and Ari are twins from different mothers.  They were born on the same day at the same hospital, about half an hour apart to mothers who had never met.)  This is the boys’ first year in middle school (6th graders); they’re competing against 6th to 8th graders.


There were three teams presenting from their school.  Their entry is similar to what they did last year, but more sophisticated now.  The put together a video game (doing all the programming, video, and music themselves) that encourages and rewards deliberative movement.


The test subject was Ari’s younger brother Paul, who has multiple challenges, including cerebral palsy and cortical visual impairment.  Deliberative movement is difficult for Paul.  This project was designed to determine if he could associate cause and effect, and encourage him to build skills.  (There was adult professional oversight all along the way; multiple monitoring and approvals.)


The results of their trials, spaced over several weeks, documented engagement and improvement.  At the fair, they were required to make three individual presentations to three different judges.  Judges are free to request presentations from other teams if word gets around that there is something interesting.  In all, the kids made fourteen presentations over the course of three hours.  The judges seemed to like it.


There are no awards announced at the end of the day.  There will be an award presentation tomorrow night, by invitation only.  Conner and Ari were the only team from their school that was invited to attend.


Their first year at the science fair, they created, tested, and demonstrated a solar death ray consisting of multiple focused mirrors.  Last year and this year it was the cause and effect demonstration.  Next year their goal is to launch a rocket with a payload the weight of Ari.  They have already agreed that the payload will *not* actually be Ari.


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Vermilion flycatcher




Flying out to snatch a bug out of the air.


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Along the way


A nice walk along the river outside Redding, CA.


I just like the picture.



Monday, February 15, 2016

Up close and personal



With a Nutria.


Nutria are large semi-aquatic rodents from South America.


The orange teeth are not an aberration.  There is more iron in the enamel on the front of the tooth (causing the orange color).  The part of the tooth with iron in it wears down slower than the rest of the tooth, causing it to stay chisel-sharp.


They like to hang out in marshes in South Texas and eat a lot of vegetation; about 25% of their body weight every day.  Their primary purpose in life here seems to be gator fodder.


Sunday, February 14, 2016

Perfectly camouflaged



…as a stick; a branch; a giant grass stalk.


Standing motionless


…until it’s time to ambush some hapless creature.


American Bittern.


Saturday, February 13, 2016

I had to gas up the Mazda




I tanked up in April 2015, then we left on a long summer trip.  I filled up again in November when we came home.  Then I didn’t drive again for three months.


So here we are, February 2016 for the next tank.  It cost $18.  Now I’ve got 500 miles to the next empty.  I wonder if I can use this tank up before we come around full-circle to April 2016.


Never have I had a car that got such good mileage or got used so little.



Friday, February 12, 2016

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Long-billed thrasher



Long-billed thrasher upstaged by a cardinal.


Long-billed thrasher photobombed.


Green jay.


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Sleep naked


That’s what Judy says when asked “How do you do it?”, “What’s your secret for staying together for so long.”  “What’s your advice?”  Really.  That’s what she advises young couples.  Sleep naked.


We figure there is benefit to skin-to-skin; a reboot of sorts; a synchronization of our energy every night.  We stay in tune.  Now we have scientific evidence we’re on the right track.  Well, maybe not scientific evidence, but advocacy in a professional journal.  I quote:

Sleeping Naked Makes You Healthier and Wealthier

What if I told you in just 10 seconds a day, you can sleep better, make more money, reduce stress, and lose weight? Sleeping naked can do all these things and more. All you have to do is take off your clothes. While there are countless strategies floating around out there to help you improve in these areas, none is as simple—and many are less effective—as stripping down before you go to sleep.


Since only 8% of people sleep naked, most everyone can discover the benefits of sleeping in the buff. This may sound far-fetched, but hear me out before you throw those cozy flannel pajamas on.


You Sleep Better Naked

We've always known that quality sleep is good for your brain, but recent research from the University of Rochester demonstrates exactly how so. The study found that when you sleep your brain removes toxic proteins from its neurons that are by-products of neural activity when you're awake. The catch here is that your brain can only adequately remove these toxic proteins when you have sufficient quality sleep. When you don’t get high-quality, deep sleep, the toxic proteins remain in your brain cells, wreaking havoc and ultimately impairing your ability to think. This slows your ability to process information and problem solve, kills your creativity, and increases your emotional reactivity.


Researchers at the University of Amsterdam found that lowering your skin temperature increases the depth of your sleep and reduces the number of times you wake up in the night. Stripping down to your birthday suit is a great way to lower your skin temperature without changing the temperature of the room.


Sleeping Naked Reduces Stress

We all know that prolonged stress is bad news. It suppresses your immune system and increases your risk of heart disease, depression, and obesity in addition to decreasing your cognitive performance. Stress throws your cortisol levels out of whack. Proper rest helps to restore normal cortisol levels, which improves your stress level regardless of what’s happening around you. As described in the section above, sleeping naked will help you to get a better night’s sleep.


Sleeping Naked Is Healthier

Sleeping naked has a slew of health benefits, including helping you to lose weight. A study conducted by the US National Institutes of Health found that keeping yourself cool while you sleep speeds the body’s metabolism because your body creates more brown fat to keep you warm. Brown fat produces heat by burning calories (300 times more heat than any organ in the body), and this boosts your metabolism all day long to help you lose weight. In addition to the metabolic effects of sleeping in the buff, removing your clothes improves blood circulation, which is good for your heart and muscles. The quality sleep you’ll enjoy also increases the release of growth hormone and melatonin, both of which have anti-aging benefits.


Sleeping Naked Builds Confidence

Confidence doesn’t just feel good; it’s the pillar of success. It pushes you to try new things, take on challenges, and persevere in the face of adversity. A University of Melbourne study found that confident people earn higher wages and get promoted more often than their less confident counterparts. Sleeping naked makes you more comfortable in your own skin. As your comfort with your body increases, so does your self-esteem and confidence.



An impressive list of reasons to sleep naked, right?  But wait.  Why stop there?  If it’s healthier and smarter to sleep naked, why put on clothes at all in the morning when we get up?  Think how much better life would be if we could just go naked all day!


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Three months


Is enough.


It has been three months since the surgeon put that rack on my neck.  Today, a trip back to Corpus to see if we can get this neck helmet off.


A stop along the way at the Falfurrias Rest Stop.


Awesome morning light through the oaks.


Continuing to Corpus for a Whataburger lunch, a quick stop at Blucher Park for a hermit thrush, and a wait at the surgeon’s office.


Fresh x-rays.



Some people have junk in their trunk.  Mine’s all in my neck.


Dr. Indresano went over the x-rays with us.  He pointed out where the bone was healing in all three fusions.  The x-rays revealed that nothing has moved since he screwed it all into place in November!  He pronounced me totally healed.  (Once he figured out that we were just messing with him when he walked in the exam room and it was Judy sitting on the table with the neck brace on, while I was off to the side in the spectator’s chair.)


Totally healed.  No restrictions.  I had a list of activities for clearance:


Driving?                                                          Yes.

Walking for 5 or 10 miles?                            Yes.

Light jogging?                                                Yes.

Carry the groceries?                                     Yes.

Carry the heavy trash to the dumpster?     Yes.

Do pushups?                                                   Yes.

Get a neck massage?                                      Yes.

Go to the chiropractor?                                No.  Never.  J


I get to take the training wheels off and go back to my life!


We hopped in the car, drove over to the beach by the Bob Hall Pier and looked for the northern gannets that had been reported there by Jon this morning.  No luck.  Didn’t matter though.


I drove home!


Monday, February 8, 2016

Splish Splash


The orange-crowned warbler.


At bath time.