Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

Redoubt - the big picture

April 7, 2009 Comments off

Check out Boston Globe’s Big Picture story on Mt. Redoubt in Alaska.  Not only are the photos awesome as always, but the inclusion of amazing satellite volcano images and electron microscope pictures of volcanic ash (hint: try not to inhale) add understanding of scale.

Categories: Nature, observations

Worlds within worlds

August 13, 2008 1 comment

One of the cool things about our campus is the wide variety of trees in our central quad.  Each one has a tag that gives its species so I can tell a red oak from a locust tree (truthfully I don’t bother with the Latin equivalents, which are also given).

But any one of the trees is also an ecology of its own, for lichens, molds, moss, birds, squirrels, insects, and microscopic life.  In a few moments over lunch hour I was able to spot four different species of ants making their way up and down the trunk of a maple tree today.  Two were almost impossible to see without my magnifying glass, and occasionally a gigantic carpenter ant would go stomping by. 

I don’t know enough about ants.  E.O. Wilson probably has a book I should read about them.

Categories: Nature, observations


February 20, 2008 2 comments

It was pretty darn cold and I was shivering (and I don’t own a telescope) so this is the best I could do.  But the Chicago Tribune got some really nifty pictures of the eclipse.

Categories: Nature, observations

Dog is going to die tonight

February 18, 2008 2 comments

Riding home this evening, North on Normal Avenue, I saw a little bulldog puppy headed South right down the center line as fast as his little legs could carry him.  He was almost hit by a car and he ran in front of my bike too. Not a brain in his little head.

Yesterday it was fifty-five degrees but today it barely topped twenty.  It’s nine out there now and supposed to get down to six.  The wind is howling outside and I can hear tree branches cracking.  Seeing the little lost dog made me remember this scene from one of my favorite cartoons:

Frye and Leela are lost on the moon.  It’s getting dark.  Their tourist spacesuits will provide them with several days of recycled air but it’s the temperature is going down.  They encounter a grizzled old prospector:
Prospector: “You two better get inside!  It gets down to two hunnert degrees below zero at night!”
Leela: “Fahrenheit or Celsius?
Prospector: “First one, then the other.”

If somebody doesn’t catch up with that puppy, he’ll be a cute little pupsicle by morning.

Categories: Nature, observations

Be nice to tigers

December 26, 2007 1 comment

By now you’ve heard of the tiger attack at the San Francisco zoo.  Tatiana the tiger had a history of bad temper (bit a keeper’s arm off last year), and apparently leaped over a 15-foot moat and a 20-foot wall to attack three young men.

Early reports I saw on Faux news this morning indicated the young men may have been “taunting” the tiger.  If that turns out to be true, Tatiana did San Francisco a favor by ridding the city of at least one miscreant who would taunt a caged animal.  The other two are expected to survive but I bet they’ll never do that again.

Every year or so I hear reports of some moron climbing into a zoo cage to commune with an animal that could rip them in half, and the predictable thing happens.  This is the first I’ve ever heard of the animal simply becoming pissed off enough to breach barriers designed to keep it contained.  That’s one hell of a leap.

Unfortunately Tatiana was shot by a policeman.  Many people asked the question “couldn’t they have used tranquilizer darts” but the answer is “yes, assuming quite a number of things went exactly right”. 


  • Greg Laden examines our very concept of “wild” animals in Tatiana is telling us something

  • Chris Clarke gets right to the point in Close the San Francisco Zoo
  • It looks like the guard wall was shorter than recommended.  But what about the wall of decency in our society that would keep anyone from taunting a caged animal?  Has that ever been tall enough?


Categories: Nature, observations

Icicles from a couple days ago

December 21, 2007 Comments off

Categories: Nature, observations

Senior citizens need something to keep them active

December 20, 2007 2 comments

I’d like to know how the hell a 12-year-old cat goes out at night when the ground is covered with snow, and comes back with a struggling bird.  Does the same thing the next night, too. 

Not sure how cat years translate to people years but he’s no spring kitten. Has slight cataracts and a painful hip.  His sister is frail and has trouble getting around. Occasionally she catches a bug and last summer, a mouse.

Categories: Nature, observations

“Jackass” squirrel attempts dangerous stunt

October 2, 2007 4 comments

“Hey Ralph!  See that fat guy on the bike?  Watch me run between his wheels as he comes over the edge of the hill!”

“Gee, I dunno, Izzy.  He’s going’ pretty fast – about 10 miles an hour.  That’s just under 15 feet per second.  On his bike there’s only about 18 inches between the wheels so you’d have to clear both wheels in about a tenth of a second. You’re pretty good, but you’re not that good!”

“Aww, quit worrying, Ralph; it’ll be fine. Here he comes!”

(Insane squirrel runs between wheels of moving bicycle, makes it, I think. In any case I didn’t feel a ‘thump’ and the squirrel ran off afterward)

“Izzy, you’re nuts!”

“Dude, what a rush!  Hey, I bet I can run between the wheels of that car…”

Reminds me of the obituary in The Onion; “Roadkill squirrel remembered as panicked, indecisive.” 

Categories: Nature, observations

The next generation (of bugs)

September 27, 2007 3 comments

I was taking apart an old bicycle wheel and found a neat row of insect eggs on one of the spokes:

I guess a stainless steel spoke is as good as a twig.  Anyone know what kind of insect lays eggs like this?

Categories: Nature, observations

It’s nice to see someone enjoying his work

September 19, 2007 1 comment

I found this little guy and thousands of his friends hard at work in the Quad today:

“Oh-boy!  Flowers!  Mmmmmm!  Just can’t get enough of ‘em! 
Hey, there’s some more!!!…”

Categories: Nature, observations