Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Bagel eating sheep live!

I am happy to report that the bagel eating sheep live on. No bagels in sight but lambs galore. Of course I know they are still trying to sell the farm. I see their cute hand made sign periodically go up, but I wish the town or county would buy at preserve it as farmland. Probably too much to ask for.
What is missing from these still pics are action shots of jumping and frolicing. Of course, there was ample baaing to go along.
I'm braver than the other lambs...but not as brave as lambo

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Ich spreche Deutch gut!

I have use the internet translation services for some of my foreign comments. Usually it comes out in jibberish. But I had no idea that you could translate an entire website. But you can! Hiers kartek auf deutsch ! Enjoy

Jack frost's family

My outing on friday included all the hurdles of winter field work....frozen ground, sub zero temperatures conditions, cheeks turning bright red for the entire day, constant runny nose, and difficulty in identifying vegetation. One of the benefits of winter field work is seeing the beautiful forms of frost and ice. We found several large frozen puddles that were fit for display at any art museum. The layers of swirling white ice with colorful leaves were gorgeous. As usual, these pictures do no justice to the beauty.

Hoarfrost can be usually encoutered during a winter field visit. I'm not sure what exactly causes hoarfrost, but I believe it's when the humidity in the soil (gas form) goes straight to solid phase (ice) on very cold nights and totally skips the liquid phase. Ice takes up more area so the soil heaves upward and you see these ice crystals all over the ground. We walked over huge areas of hoarfrost and it felt like I was walking on top of dry cereal with the constant cracking of the ice crystals.

These crystals are actually pretty big. They are layered on top of each other and were like 6 inches in depth.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Where you can find me this time of year

With the onset of the recent cold temps, field work has ground to a halt for me. So no new exciting sites to blog about. I will be going out in the field on friday, but I have very low expectations for the site. I've been hanging out at the office and scurrying to and from the car. Once I get home, I usually have one thing on my mind....get the fire going and hibernate!

The shows on tv have been mostly crap, so I've cracked open this thing called a book. It's about a young couple that got kidnapped and murder in Davis in 1980. I never knew about this incident until last year. So I was curious to read about this travesty in the seemingly crime-less city of my grad school years. It's a very easy read and I'm shocked to find out that they were likely kidnapped very close to my old condo....like the next street over! The alternative kidnapping location was at a shopping center that was my favorite grocery store. Really weird.

I've also been busy with my latest scheme. It's way to early to reveal any details, but let's just say it's been something that's ALWAYS been a dream of mine. And it's not meeting Johnny Depp or anything like that....although I would not be opposed to that. So just keep your fingers crossed that things will work out.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

This old mouse house

You may not be aware of my ongoing mouse harvest that has been going on in my basement. So far I've caught 10 alive and 1 dead deer mice. I've had so many that I have been able to verify they are not house mice but rather deer mice. I had thought I had patched their portal into the basements of my condo with some expandable foam. But this weekend I went to investigate the baseboard heater in the communal basement hallway to see if it would work. I bent down and looked below it and saw a hole in the wall that I could have put my fist through. So I fetched my semi-used and dried expanding foam and tried to patch it. The tube was full of dried foam so after pressing the button for a minute and no foam, I decided to unscrew the tube. Unfortunately a lot of pressure had been building so the foam went flying everywhere. Apparently there is no known chemical to remove the dried foam and trying to wash it with water just speeds the drying process. So my jeans and shirt are pretty much ruined unless father time can help remove it by cracking small bits off at a time. You can use nail polish remover if it's still wet, but it did not remove it on my skin. It's mostly peeled off my now. So I managed to squirt the foam into wall, but it was difficult without the tube. It was like trying to fill a giant sideways hole with whipped cream. I did my best and covered it with duct tape since the foam kept falling out of the hole. Every since then, the mouse harvest has been stepped up. I caught two juvenile mice that were scared out of the whits when I released them. They didn't move and just stared at me like "I've never been outside before! It's big, bright, and scary!" It made me sad with their big eyes and ears, but at least they are getting a second shot at life. Then they finally would scurry away. I wish I had my camera for those two since the others run away at the speed of light. I'm thinking by next week I will have confirmed that there are more mice than people living in my building. I also thought about releasing a snake into my basement ceiling to capture the rest of the mice.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Cashew update

I had another photo sesh with Cashew the last time I cleaned its tank. Cashew was less than pleased and didn't want to be photographed. It was hiding in its shell and once it popped fully out and proceeded to scramble full speed off the table. Thankfully, there was a carpet underneath and it only fell like a foot.

Cashew's shell is now 2 inches long and has doubled in size since I first got it. Plus, I'm starting to think Cashew may actually (GASP!) be a girl. I'll have to wait and see about that. Cashew is still really small and young.

What you can't see is that while posing for the pics, Cashew is lightly pumping all limbs...like stretching movements....so cute.

Are you looking at me?

The tank is all clean and filled with warm water! I guess Cashew thought it was spring because of the warm water and started acting a bit crazy and trying to wedge itself in the corner.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

If this is winter, I'd hate to see summer

Some of you wonder what I do during the winter. I do spend some time outside, but typically snow/ice cover and frozen ground makes it close to impossible to do work. Not this winter! This week has been crazy hot...and I do mean crazy. I've been trying to make the most of this weather by spending as much time outside as possible.

Even though it's nice and warm outside, there's still the winter challenge of vegetation identification. There's no leaves on the trees and shrubs. The herbs and grasses sometimes require some sort of CSI technology to identify them. Then there's the secret skunk cabbage. Skunk cabbage is a very wet plant so it's important to find it. Here's what it looks like in late winter...if you are lucky you can spot one.
Here's what it looks like in the summer. Big difference!

During my monday outing, I was getting frustated because of the secret skunk cabbage, being super overdressed for the warmth, and having to check the soils like a maniac before being able to hang one wetland boundary flag. So I needed some comic relief and here I am on top of a tree that I thought was like nature's chaise lounge. It was a tree that had a second life. It had fallen over, but it still was able to bend towards the sun and survive into a mature tree. Not soon after my comic relief I lost my sweater in the wetlands. Of course the sweater was a nice forest green and blended in well with the mossy ground. I eventually found it all sprawled out on the ground not that far from the chaise lounge.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Left Coast - Final Chapter

I was all set for my cramped and lengthy flight back to NJ and the last thing/person I expected to see on my flight was Andrew Shue aka Billy from Melrose Place. He was riding coach with us steerage in the back. Although as you can see, he got the desirable emergency exit row and two rows in front of me. He was already boarded when I got there and I didn't see him at the gate. At first I was unsure it was him, but then I heard his voice and it was clear.

He was chatting to the man in the middle seat...a friend, manager type? (does he even still act or need one?), or relative. He didn't watch any of the movies (smart choice!!!) and never got up to the bathroom. We were just starting to get our food and a flight attendant comes by with a special meal. The flight attendant asks what Andrew/Billy's name was and he responds "Shue". The flight attendant then goes "Oh. Actually this is a kid's meal. Nevermind." It was for the girl sitting directly behind him. Andrew/Billy goes "Are you messing with me?" to the flight attendant, which I thought was a little snotty....like you KNOW who I am. Well at least I'm pretty sure Andrew/Billy's seat was kicked the majority of the flight by this girl named Sunny. I know this, because Sunny could barely contain herself in the few minutes of boarding/exiting the plane. She introduced herself to anyone within earshot and started firing off questions to everyone around her. Her asian mother was beyond herself with embarassment...which made it even more over the top and a great distraction while I fired off these two lousy camera phone pics.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Left coast - Sunnyvale and San Jose continued

Even though I had passed both cities many times on my journeys to and from Santa Cruz, I had never bothered to stop at either city. We had originally planned to go to Santa Cruz as well but because it was raining cats and dogs, we stayed around San Jose and Sunnyvale. It seems that both cities lack a real downtown with highrise office buildings. Instead you have a lot of strip mall lined boulevards complete with a zillion lengthy uncoordinated traffic lights. But after much confusion, we found the downtown that contained little resturants and shops and grabbed some dinner. One of stops was at the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum & Planetarium. It is a pretty small place, but it has the largest Egyptian collection in the western US. For some reason, most of my photos are of mummified cats and other critters. They even had a fake baboon mummy. Apparently, back in the day they got lazy and just made general replicas of mummified animals. It's the thought that counts I suppose.
Err...what am I below?
Is this a slug hieroglyph? I don't know too many snakes that have bunny ears.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Left coast - Winchester Mystery House

One of the sights in the SF bay area that I didn't get to see while living out there was the Winchester Mystery House. From what I recall, it was listed on the travel channel top 10 creepiest places. For the story about the place go here , because I'm just too lazy to rehash it. I will say that she was obsessed with the number 13, spider webs, and daisies (with 13 petals of course).

Unfortunately it has been disney-fied in the sense that there's a giant giftshop and it's surrounded by city strip malls and movie theaters. That and the step regular tour fee of $25! Our tour guide was a loud talking, bad joke telling, super animated weirdo who I think has found his calling in life...to be a tour guide. My friend Ren had told me that a friend had taken a photo of a mirror there and a face had shown up. Regardless of the Disney affect and the annoying tour guide, I was hell bent on doing my own ghosthunting. That meant taking a zillion photos of the place and lagging behind the group to get photos without people in them. Well I thought I had something here but it's just a smudge in a mirror.

Lots of awesome stained glass and a good chunk of them were Tiffany's.

So I'm sad to say that I didn't find any spirits in my pictures. Maybe if I had gone on one of the flashlight or behind the scenes tours or been there at night, it would have been different. Otherwise, I still enjoyed the tiny stairs...each step was only about 2 inches in height and would circle around and around just to go up one flight of stairs. Supposedly in her later years, she couldn't really raise her foot very high so she had a good portion of the regular staircases removed.

Beautiful lamp. I'll take 5 of those please.