Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tufted puffin...or stuff-ted puffin?

Oh, look at these crazy things. Don't you think tufted puffins look more like stuffed toys than real, true birds? But real true birds they are, and--lucky us--they like to hang out along the Pacific coast in breeding season.

More luck: breeding season (spring and early summer) is when they look their most clownish/lovely. The faces of both sexes become Bozo-white, their eyebrows sprout the feather tufts the species is named for, and even their feet go from salmon-colored to ripe orange. Their bills grow and also change color. (Like those of most birds', the puffin bill is a horny sheath of modified thick skin that is continually sloughed off and replenished.)

A couple tends one egg in a breeding colony, which is typically on an offshore outcropping. They take turns brooding, and then either babysitting or bringing home the bacon, which in this case is smelt, sardines, herring and such. 

Have you ever seen these beauties in person?

Sexy and I know it.
photo by Nathan Hamm on Flickr

Monday, October 29, 2012

Monday's Nature Quote

Casey Fleser  somegeekintn      

As you sit on the hillside, or lie prone under the trees of the forest, or sprawl wet-legged by a mountain stream, the great door, that does not look like a door, opens.
~ Stephen Graham




Friday, October 26, 2012

Weekend Haiku & Limericks



Your challenge: write a haiku or limerick featuring one of the subjects discussed here in the past seven days: rivers, EPA website, or something from Monday's nature quote. Feel free to mine the comments, too.

Post your haiku or limericks in the comments, below. Remember the pattern of a haiku is:

First, 5 syllables, 
the second line has seven.
And 5 at the end.

A limerick is a wee bit more complicated. Here's one description.

Please post your haiku or limerick in the comments, below.                

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A question of rivers


The care of rivers is not a question of rivers, but of the human heart.
~ Tanaka Shozo

When it comes to the care of rivers, humans in the US now also have an app and a website. 

The Environmental Protection Agency has unrolled a new site where you can find information on the condition of thousands of lakes, rivers, and streams throughout the U.S.

Just enter your zipcode (or your GPS location), and discover the health of the waterways near you. If they’re polluted, you might also discover what action is being taken to clean them.

See for yourself, using your smart phone, tablet or desktop computer: watersgeo.epa.gov/mywaterway/

Let me know what you find--any polluted waterways near you?


Thanks for the tip on the EPA app/website, Denise Dahn!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Monday's Nature Quote


painting by Frederic Remington 
Great things are done when men and mountains meet. This is not done by jostling in the street.
~ William Blake

Friday, October 19, 2012

Weekend Haiku & Limericks


Your challenge: write a haiku or limerick featuring one of the subjects discussed here in the past seven days: ringing phones, human nature, or something from Monday's nature quote. Feel free to mine the comments, too.

Post your haiku or limericks in the comments, below. Remember the pattern of a haiku is:

First, 5 syllables,
the second line has seven.
And 5 at the end.

A limerick is a wee bit more complicated. Here's one description.

Post your haiku or limerick in the comments, below.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The phone rang...: Human Nature

I picked up the phone, and it was a guy who needed help paying for a plane ticket down to Phoenix. His mother was dying.

I tried to beg off early in the conversation; we don't have the money for such an expense. Our program is set up to give vouchers for lodging for a night, or food, or maybe some gasoline--not money for plane tickets, regardless of circumstances. But he--call him Jeffrey--said, "Please, could you just let me talk, even if you can't help me? I've been calling around all morning to agencies and churches, and people won't even let me explain what's happening."

So of course I listened. He and his sister both wanted to go to their mother, but they couldn't afford that, so they had drawn straws. His sister won, and he would stay home with her children. They'd gotten together nearly enough for a flight leaving that night--they were just $31 dollars shy of the total. "I'm not saying no one is willing to help us," he said, "it's just that they need 3 or 4 days to do it. And I'm afraid that my mom won't last that long."

Thirty-one dollars. But here's the thing that everyone in my position knows: scammers always have a story filled with enough details to make it real; and it helps if they are also charming--after I'd given him my first name, Jeffrey called me "Miss Pat" in his soft Southern accent. One more thing about scammers? They invariably need the money in cash. "Okay," I said, "How can I write a check or call the airlines with a credit card for $31 of the bill?" Jeffrey wasn't sure; he'd check and would get back to me within a half-hour.

I hung up the phone, then told the story to Barb, the office volunteer. Between us, we ponied up the $31. When the phone rang a little while later, I predicted, "It's Jeffrey again, and I bet he asks for cash." He did. The airline would not accept divided payment, he said, and if he brought a check for the entire amount, the check-writer needed to be there with i.d. 

All right, all right. When you try to help people in need, you get scammed a certain amount of the time, you just do. Aware that this could be one of those times, I reluctantly decided to err on the side of a dying mother. Both Jeffrey and his sister were at their jobs in Portland; I'd be leaving work before the sister could arrive, so described how I would leave the cash in a hiding place for her to pick up. 

An hour later, when the phone rang and I heard that soft Southern voice again, I steeled myself. Here it comes: the reason why he needs more cash

"Miss Pat," he said, "I just have to call again to thank you. You listened to me, and you're willing to help me out, and I just want to say again how grateful I am." Yeah, and..., I thought, waiting for it. "And that's why I just had to call to let you know that while I was on the phone this morning calling everybody I could think of, my boss went around--we have about 300 workers--and he collected enough money to pay for a ticket for me and for my sister's kids and we are all gonna go down and see my mother." Now he was crying, and apologizing for crying, and I had goosebumps. "And I'm just so grateful and I want to say again how much I appreciate your help," he finished.  

Calling back to share a heartwarming turn of events? That's one thing scammers don't do. 



(Want to read more of these stories? Click on the "Search this Blog" box to the right and enter the words Human Nature.) 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Monday's Nature Quote

photo by mikebaird on Flickr

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.
~ Rachel Carson

Friday, October 12, 2012

Weekend Haiku & Limericks



Your challenge: write a haiku or limerick featuring one of the subjects discussed here in the past seven days: cardboard, Halloween, or something from Monday's nature quote. Feel free to mine the comments, too.

Post your haiku or limericks in the comments, below. Remember the pattern of a haiku is:

First, 5 syllables, 
the second line has seven.
And 5 at the end.

A limerick is a wee bit more complicated. Here's one description.

Please do post your haiku or limerick in the comments, below.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Happy Cardboardween

www.evilmadscientist.com/2006/crocodile-costume

Yes, it’s a Halloween Cardboard Costume Challenge, courtesy of a blogger in Japan, who would really like to see everyone use less plastic, please.

Amber’s arguments: “Cardboard is a wonderful material to adapt to holiday celebrations year round because it’s abundant, economical (usually free), recycle-able, and incredibly versatile.”  

For those whose imaginations stop at a robot constructed from boxes, Amber has some photo suggestions. She also welcomes folks to visit her blog for weekly tutorials, like this one for an extravagant cardboard mustache, and to sign up to participate in her Costume Challenge.

Even if you’re not planning to wear a costume this Halloween, you might want to visit to see children’s table and chairs or other cardboard projects. (Bam! Take that, plastic!)

thecardboardcollective.com/2012/10/07/how-to-make-a-cardboard-mustache/

Monday, October 8, 2012

Monday's Nature Quote



You can't be suspicious of a tree, or accuse a bird or a squirrel of subversion or challenge the ideology of a violet. 
~ Hal Borland

Friday, October 5, 2012

Weekend Haiku & Limericks


 Your challenge: write a haiku or limerick featuring one of the subjects discussed here in the past seven days: scallops, or something from Monday's nature quote. Feel free to mine the comments, too.

Post your haiku or limericks in the comments, below. Remember the pattern of a haiku is:

First, 5 syllables,
the second line has seven.
And 5 at the end.

A limerick is a wee bit more complicated. Here's one description.

Kindly post your haiku or limerick in the comments, below.    

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Scallops...here's looking at you

And they're pretty too!
Photo by Dr DAD (Daniel A D'Auria MD) 
As bivalves go, scallops are surprisingly alert little creatures. Among all the wide ocean's two-shelled animals, only scallops have eyes and can see.

Their many eyes have lenses and retinas, and are a lovely shade of deep greenish-blue.

Some of the best photos I've seen of those beautiful blues are over at David's Photo Blog; you'll see the eyes in a row lining the inside edges of both of the shells. Do go have a look-see.

A scallop's eyes can detect movement and changes of light and shadow. When they detect the presence of a sea star, a scallop doesn't just slam shut and hope the predator chooses someone else to pull apart. Instead, it leaps into action! 

They can swim away by repeatedly clapping their shells, directing gulps of water out small openings on either side of their hinges, and moving jerkily forward. They look like swimming castanets, or, has often been suggested, two jaws biting their way through the water.

Oh yeah, and scallops are tasty, too. We humans usually only eat the round abductor muscle that holds the shells together, although I'm told that the rest of the animal is equally yummy. Do you suppose it's those baby blues that hold us back? 

Monday, October 1, 2012