Friday, September 30, 2016

Fall Migration

 

This morning we had the camera ready.

 

Two thousand broad-winged hawks lifting off from the scrub forests around our park.

 

Kettle after kettle rising on thermals to soar south.

 

 

 

Just another morning coffee on our deck.

 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Morning coffee on the deck

 

We look to the south and there are 75 broad-winged hawks lifting off from the mesquite forest.  They found their thermal, circled up, and disappeared to the south faster than I could get my camera.  Nothing left but a turkey vulture.

 

Got a text from Jon telling me that the flycatcher was seen again at the Birding Center on Padre Island this morning.  A flycatcher?  Big deal.  Well, a little research revealed that it *was* a big deal.  There was a variegated flycatcher there.  We’ve never seen a variegated flycatcher before.  We’ve never even *heard* of a variegated flycatcher before.  We were taking the motorhome  to Harlingen this morning anyway.  That’s the right direction.  That’s even over half way to South Padre Island.  We googled the flycatcher to see what we would be looking for.

 

So we dropped the motorhome off with Jacinto in Harlingen, got a quick lunch at Taco Bell, and headed off to the island.  Got there at 2:30, parked the car, and by 2:31, we had the bird.  Lifer!  ABA bird number 610.  (Bird number 404 for the year.)  Got to love those walk-up lifers.  People standing around.  “Got the bird?”  “Yeah, it’s right here in the scope.”

 

We had to hang around for a while and visit.  A chance to catch-up with Javi.  He used to be a naturalist at Edinburg Wetlands by where we live, but the Birding Center on South Padre Island stole him away from us.  Since we were there already we had to walk around the butterfly garden and find a few warblers.  Since we were already so close we had to pop over to the Convention Center and score some warblers there as well.  And heck, right on the way home is the Valley Land Fund lot right in town that had warblers too.

 

Got home about dark.  A super successful day-trip.

 

Variegated Flycatcher.

 

 

Hooded Warbler.

 

 

 

 

Great Blue Heron

 

 

Boardwalk and mangroves.

 

 

 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Dear Diary

 

It’s getting cooler.  For months we’ve been getting up in the morning and sitting on the deck for morning coffee with the temperature in the 80s.  Even if we were up at dawn; still 80 degrees.

 

Now it has shifted down to the 70s.  We’re so acclimated to the hot weather, low 70s feels pretty cool.  I will say that daytime temperatures in the high 80s or low 90s is a lot more comfortable than triple digits though.  We’ll struggle through the brutal cold mornings to get to those long comfortable days.  J

 

We’ve held off on a few repairs on the bus until we decided what to do with it.  Well, we’ve decided to hang on to it and go ahead and take care of a couple projects.  Tomorrow we’ll drive the motorhome to Harlingen and drop it off for some body and paint work.  It has earned every scar and scratch (as have Judy and I), but we’re going to go ahead and freshen it up a bit (the motorhome, not us).  We’ve already replaced the original carpet with a vinyl floor.  Next we’ll replace the couch we’ve worn out, and we’ll have to look at new driver and copilot chairs.  With all the use they’ve gotten over the last eleven years (August 5th was our motorhome anniversary), they’ve served their time; and besides, whatever we spend on freshening up the rig, that will cost a lot less than buying a newer coach would.

 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Two dozen hummingbirds

 

 

All fighting for the rights to five feeders.

 

They wouldn’t pose long enough to get more than just a few in the frame at a time.

 

All want to eat.  None want any other to eat.  Mostly they just swirl, in constant flux between offense and defense.  We’re watching the behavior of an extended migrating flock.  Each day the birds are different.  It takes weeks for this flock to pass.

 

It makes me wonder; as they gather here to fuel for the long flight across the Gulf of Mexico, does their behavior change?  Does the 400 mile flight consist of individual birds, or groups of birds, intent on flying; or does the squabbling continue?  Are there thousands of little migrating masses, all fighting to be first to get across the gulf to flowers and feeders in Mexico before anyone else can?

 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Judy is at it again

 

 

The front garden was nice,

 

but only while we were here to take care of it.

 

We’re going to opt for something more maintenance free while we’re traveling.

 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

It turns out there *is* a solution to the Sudoku problem I sent out

 

 

Even though filling in all the possibilities for the remaining squares makes it look like a stalemate.

 

The solution requires another level of logic called Alternate Pair Deduction.

 

http://www.sudokudragon.com/advancedstrategy.htm

 

It’s not something I’d have ever figured out on my own, thank you very much Tom, Jacob, and Google!

 

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Friday, September 23, 2016

This is the most important election of our lifetime!

 

And the most contentious.  And the lowest level of discourse ever.  Ever.

 

Except for all the ones that have preceded it.

 

Disappointing as it might seem, this is just what we get from our politics.  Much as we individually might wish for something different, this is what our system produces; what we as a group; as a country, choose.  Over and over.

 

 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A dirt bird

 

 

More commonly known as a plain chachalaca.

 

 

Normally, they’re not in the dirt.

 

Monday, September 19, 2016

I was just thinking about ocotillo out in the desert

 

When there is no rain, the ocotillo drop all their leaves, to prevent water loss, and end up dry sticks.  They look dead

 

After a rain, new leaves sprout.

 

They can go through this cycle several times a year.

 

We saw very happy ocotillo this last trip.

 

And when they get really excited.

 

They flower.

 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

So close

 

A simple Sudoku game.  Put a number from 1 to 9 in each empty square, but without duplicating that number in any row, column, or larger square of nine individual squares.

 

I’ve got a particular game this far.  So close.  How hard could it be?  We could trial and error the remainder; it wouldn’t take long, but is there a solution that doesn’t require that initial trial and error guess?

 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

It's almost like the real thing

 

We put a hummingbird feeder in the middle of a plant; the mandevilla vine on the deck.

 

One great big inexhaustible flower buried in the middle of a bush.

 

They find their way in.

 

 

 

The hummingbird fall migration is on.  Today we’ve got about a dozen hummers buzzing all the feeders.

 

The little ones are ruby-throated, the migrants.  The bigger one with the rufous tail is buff-bellied, a year-round resident.

 

 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Celebrity Foundations

 

We don’t get much real information on television about the Clinton Foundation and the Trump Foundation; mostly we get political hype.  It turns out there are big differences between the two.

 

There is a source for nonprofit organization tax returns; GuideStar.org.  (Really, they’re information returns, since nonprofit organizations don’t pay taxes.)  These are the returns filed with the Internal Revenue Service, but they’re different from income tax returns; nonprofit information returns are public records; available to anyone who wants to look at them.  We look at them every day at work, since that’s the only thing we do; work with nonprofit organizations.

 

At GuideStar, they’ve gotten asked about the two foundations so much, that they wrote this independent analysis.  No taking sides.  No spin.  Just adding clarity to the conversation:

 

 

 

 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Crises averted

 

Car all rigged to tow.  Engine turned off.  Transmission in neutral.  Pop the hood release from inside the car.  Shut the doors.  Open the hood.  Throw the battery disconnect switch.  Drop the hood.  We’re good.

 

Problem.

 

The car doors are locked.  I don’t know why they’re locked; they’re never locked when we tow; but this time they’re locked.

 

  I pull out the fob.

 

It does nothing.  I can’t unlock the doors.  The battery is disconnected.  The front doors, the side doors, the rear door, nothing is going to work without the battery connected.  The only way to open the hood and reconnect the battery is to open the car door and pull the hood latch.  But I can’t open the car door because the door is locked.  All I have is a digital fob with buttons to push.  I’m going in circles…

 

Finally.

 

The aha moment.

 

The digital fob has buttons to lock and unlock doors, make the sliding side doors open and close, and open and close the rear door.  None of them work because the battery in the car is disconnected.  But there is one more button on the fob.  Push that button and the fob separates.  Cleverly hidden inside the fob is an emergency key.

 

 

Who would ever need anything so primitive as an actual physical key?

 

Me.  Thank you Chrysler.  The key worked.  The door opened.  The hood opened.  The battery reconnected.  And the car alarm didn’t even sound!

 

Crisis averted.

 

We’re home, safe and sound.

 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Wednesday

 

Lunch at Juan’s.  It was packed, as usual.

 

Now THAT is a shrimp cocktail!

 

 

Poor Judy had to make do with crummy fajitas again.

 

We didn’t see Juan while we were there, but we did get to catch-up with his oldest son Guadalupe.  They opened a second restaurant in Aransas Pass a couple years ago.  They’ve just now opened another!

 

A doctor’s visit in the afternoon for the cast-off.

 

And in place of the cast…  A removable splint!

 

She gets to take the splint off when we’re around the house and her hand is safe.  I think rehab should consist of shoulder rubs for me, but the doctor says no, not yet.  For now, she practices touching her thumb to each finger in turn.  That’s it.  Range of motion rehab only for the next six weeks.  (None of her fingers reaches her thumb at all yet.)

 

Met up with Miguel and John for dinner at a pizza brew pub in Corpus.

 

 

Stopped by Gulf Waters and interrupted Tom and Gloria-Ann’s dinner for a quick visit.

 

It’s all good.