Natural History Notes

Saturday, August 09, 2008


Unfortunatly no pics for an interesting episode.

I worked out at the Ridge with Virgil and his friend John today, cleaning out the west part of the shop. I came up to the house toward the end of the morning, after they had had a break in the shade of the living room and had left the front door fairly wide open. As I came up the walk, I heard a fairly loud, uncoordinated-sounding noise in the house. I called -- no answer. I went in and discovered a roadrunner in the plant window, skirmishing around from side to side, trying to get out!

John was in the yard, and I called him in to see if he could help, but he mostly just stood there, exclaiming over the size of the bird. Seen close up, it did look pretty big! I got the net from the dining room, but wasn't sure just what to do with it. The bird was brushing around between the glass and the plants, occasionally uttering a breathy "hoh!" As I poked carefully with the net, it got over to the left by the stones, facing the stairs, and caught sight of the wide-open doorway. Beep-beep-gone!

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

today, I'm in love with Edouard

or at least his effects. He slid on past south of us, and the wings of rain just didn't quite reach out this far, but it's CLOUDY. And cool! 9:30 in the morning and still under 80°. AAaaaaahhhhh.

Yesterday I went out with the benthic invertebrate monitoring crew for the first time in months. I need to get to the notebook and chalk up 3.5 hours collecting, as well as 2.5 hours working on the poster last week.

John and Adelaide and I went to Burning Tree and Woodrow. Burning Tree had a skinny little groove of a channel between the pools but no actual flow. Woodrow had a modest flow and a real riffle. Also I saw SIX turtles.

We have returned to approximately our original, pre-Todd, collecting protocol. We make three 1-sq-ft sweeps of the benthos, in a pool, up the bank, and in a riffle. We mingle all three in a white pan and then pick on-site. An occasional pebble or seed may get tossed in, if we can't quite tell if it's an animal or not, but essentially it's a clean sample to take back to the lab. We're meeting next Tuesday at 9 to do the ID.

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Saturday, August 02, 2008

summer wins

OK, after writing the last post, and while trying to get the pictures to upload properly, I got hot enough to officially abandon the dining room and living room. The thermostat is set up as high as it goes (90°), and I have closed the doors and retreated to the middle room and library, with the little wall unit AC turned on, and a fan.

I don't know what running this unit will do to the electricity bill. If it were one of the new high-efficiency ones, I would figure that it had to be cheaper, even if it runs more hours, than the whole-house unit. But it's old. I guess I could go down and read the meter and keep some records.

Anyway right now I am fairly comfortable. Walking out into the living room is a definite hot change. Maybe I should get more thermometers if I really want to know what is going on. The one by Isabel's closet door here reads 85°, the same as it did when I first turned this unit on. The main AC thermostat's thermometer is way inaccurate, I have known since it was installed. Also very vague, with marks every 5 or 10 degrees.

OK. 102° outside, still and hot but somwhat cooler in east part of house, thermostat says 87°, cooler in here and thermometer says 85°. But I don't know that I trust the accuracy of any of those numbers.

The electric meter at 4pm read 50177. All that's on are the small AC, a couple of fans, fridge, and computer setup.

Last month I used about 66 Kwh per day. This month I have cut it to around 50. That is STILL over 2000 watts being pulled all the time. How many watts does that AC use? The current electric rate appears to be about 12.1¢ per Kwh. At this rate my next bill should be more like $210, down from $279 (allowing the $19 garbage and recycling fee and the sales tax). I was hoping for more savings from my turning the thermostat up, but I guess I have forgotten to reset it after Ellen leaves several times. I'll check it tomorrow afternoon and see what's happening.

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more summer

The forecast just keeps inching up. Now they are saying 104° today and 106° tomorrow and Monday.

I had another swim in the lake yesterday evening. It was nice, and I got some good exercise (my shoulders and legs are sort of sore today). But it wasn't as nice as last week; the air was just too warm. My cool didn't last really even until I got home. The air was too hot along the freeway. Maybe I should see about a county-road route. I'm sure those six lanes of concrete are holding a lot more heat than 2 lanes between fields.

I have been thinking about going back to Zilly-boy (Isle du Bois Park, for you furriners) instead of Johnson Branch. There are a lot more people there, but the steep wooded ridge with the shaded tables is so nice, and catches breezes so well.

It does help a bit that I got about 2/3 of my hair chopped off Thursday evening.

I spent the time before I swam last night working on something for me, not for sale. I got five of the seven charms affixed to my Diet Diary bracelet, and they are fairly fun. I am lacking Kokopeli for exercise, because I haven't found the charms, and the grains assemblage, which will be a white rice pearl, a mauve one, and a 2mm tigereye (millet?). They are sort of long and jangly, and the buffalo's legs get hooked with other loops sometimes.

I have never been used to wearing a charm bracelet, and I probably won't wear this one most of the time, just keep it handy. It is being quite useful for fun record-keeping without the HOURS I used to spend working on my spreadsheet. And since starting to really pay attention, I have lost three pounds. Now if I can only get into exercise mode.

It's too damn hot!

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Friday, August 01, 2008

more rain!

Well, the forecast kinda missed this! Not only did we get a short, sharp thunderstorm Wednesday evening -- 1/2" or rain or more for some, though only about a quarter here -- but it started occasionally drizzling sometime after 1 am last night, which is still going on now at 8:30. It didn't cool things down much; it's barely under 80, but the cloud cover is SO welcome. The forecast for today is ONLY 99° . I note that while it is 78° here, it is 74° in Lincoln, 73° in midafternoon in Oslo, 85° in Houston, 75° in Boaz, and 56° (grrrr) at 6 am in Oakland. Oh, and Kieren has 73° in Chicago.

The photo is of the thunderstorm yesterday, pictured out the living-room window, with interesting distortions due to the sheets of water running irregularly down the glass.