Thursday, December 06, 2012

Hawaiian Sun Dark Chocolate Adventure

Unwrapping a Hawaiian Sun box is a happy-making gift experience. I love those chocolate-covered macadamia nuts, regardless of the ultimate quality of the confection. Thanks for the present!

These were from last Christmas. I was just looking back through holiday-letter-worthy photos from 2012 and remembered these crunchy candies. Yum.

Only nine pieces in the package. Gotta savor those. One by one through February, some for myself and some to share. Make a nice after-dinner treat.

What a shock, then, to have a BLECH! moment while crunching down on one of these little morsels one evening. Acrid. Ugh. Pitooee. What was that?

A little closer attention to that final wrapper told part of the tale, but it took a magnifier to allow adequate inspection.

After discovering this little beauty, that moment a few nights earlier made much more sense. A girl's dessert request was met by the box. Appreciative and content, she sat as the post-dinner conversation continued. Suddenly she pointed at what appeared to be an imaginary moth flying from the dining table between us. She was sure, but neither of her parents saw it. Soon forgotten. But now.

Glad I, not she, got the last one.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Keeping up with the changes

DNA analysis plucks the falcons from their position following hawks and eagles and plunks them down after the woodpeckers and just before the flycatchers and the rest of the perching birds. Disoriented birders guaranteed.

This birdaz article from Rick Wright covers the falcon move and the rest of the 53rd supplement:

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Wet Winged Wednesday

To maine-birds:
Misty morning at the Wells Reserve gradually turned to drizzle over an hour-long walk. Sparrows seemed less skittish than usual, with dozens of white-throats, nearly as many songs, a few white-crowns, and a swamp. Yellow-rumped warblers were everywhere, often mixing with the sparrows in foraging flocks. Single redstart, black-throated blue warbler, blue-headed vireo, and creeper. Red-breasted nuthatches easily outnumbered white-breasted. Pair of rusty blackbirds beside the dike at the bottom of the beach trail. Osprey – I think it was only one – over the beach and marsh. Maybe a pintail, but by then the binoculars were just about useless. Both kinglets wrapped it up.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Back-to-back bog jaunts? Nope.

It was wishful thinking, after all. Beautiful morning held promise, but meeting eat meeting put an end to thoughts of bog photography. Better luck next time.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Ending a short walk with my first Common Buckeye

Almost no sun for three days and cool, damp air left the farmhouse office a bit chilly this morning. 60 to start and only 65 by lunchtime. Around the noon hour, the sun began making an appearance and clouds began to separate, but a strong breeze suggested it would still be too cool to sit on the porch with a sandwich. After downing the ham and cheese in the dining room, I decided to get blood pumping and set out for a short walk.

It was warmer outside than in. The wind was from the southwest, making it feel relatively balmy. I marched to the Muskie Trail, entered the trees, and stopped to enjoy the warmth. I had spotted a monarch and a sulfur while crossing the field and here I picked up a red admiral. Birds were very quiet, though, with just an occasional call from a towhee, a jay, and a couple of catbirds.

A small mammal crossed the trail ahead of me. Mink? It was a bit over a foot long, with a tail maybe a third the length of its dark brown body. It crept quickly out of sight.

My goal was to get to the bog and back in a half hour, so I uprooted and went to the boardwalk. Here the breeze was almost nonexistent and the sun was in full force. The external warming was soon matched by a nice insect display. Two or three sulfurs were here, at least one showing orange and others not. A lady worked over the asters and I studied the pattern long enough to give it the American label (someday these will become instinctive calls). At least eight common green darners were moving over the area, their netted wings glistening gold in the sunlight.

Goldenrod was nearly past, but the asters were hanging on fairly well and the cottongrass put on quite a show. I walked to the end of the boardwalk and turned as promised, watching in new light for anything I might have missed.

An unfamiliar butterfly in flight caught my eye. It flew low over the bog about 20 feet out, making it not too difficult to pick up in the binoculars. Once it landed and spread its wings, I was pretty certain this was my first common buckeye. I quickly sketched all those eyespots and the nice notches of orange in the forewing to be sure I had a solid reference for later. I would have enjoyed savoring the moment, but knew it was time to get back. Perhaps I'll return tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Mystery Caterpillar

Wisteria had taken over the loft deck. The left end of one railing had been pulled down to the deck, the screws yanked through the wood to let it down. Some balusters were akilter.

The pruning shears were in hand. The vines were mostly no wider than a half inch and made mostly easy cutting. It was going to be a selective cut at first, but telltale signs around three sides of railing meant it was going to be much more forceful.

While I was at it, I found this odd growth under the deck, on the outside toward the maple. When I found the second I can't recall, but it was in a clipped end along a leaf. I let it be for a while and couldn't find it when I returned.

I had probably been looking for my glasses and the camera when the easy access larva disappeared, but nonetheless leaned over the rail to try aiming this shot.

Time to go back to the caterpillar book. After a glance at bodyforms leafed to the moths and spotted the underwings. The orange flash reminds me of one I almost mowed last summer, which showed its color when askew from a near miss.

Catocala sp.?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

That's not a Caterpillar

Butterfly watching has me attuned to caterpillars, so when I spotted this on a dogwood leaf this evening I was excited to find out which one I had discovered.

Our Peterson First Guide didn't offer a match, so I went online to search on characteristics. That got me nowhere. Then I went to 'caterpillar maine dogwood' and up popped two images from Jim McCormac's blog entry on sawflies and yellowjackets.

It's not a butterfly or a moth, it's a sawfly. bugman clued me into dogwood sawflies on What's That Bug? which itself pointed to Penn State's Susan Parker with an Integrated Pest Management perspective and a Chris Adams entry on On the latter site, danielj reports that correspondent Millie's image was a first for There are others there.

This squirmy thing had climbed to the tip of a pagoda dogwood, but we've got red osiers aplenty. Time to think twice about the positive first impression?

"This is an insect you can enjoy" said Dave Smitley in his alert (PDF) for Michigan State, though he makes disclaimer about the question being asked in September.

One last (?) thing: A look at an adult from Minnesota Seasons.

Another last thing: genus discussion mentions four species, three in the east, two of which are common: Macremphytus tarsatus and Macremphytus testaceus.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Seeking the fruit of fakir in short order. Nice image.
Edit 2012-12-14: Never really got close.

Sunday, August 05, 2012


In December 2008, numerous images were transmitted from the International Space Station to Earth using amateur radio slow-scan television. I copied the following images during four passes over northeastern North America.








A few weeks earlier (October 2008), space tourist Richard Garriott was aboard the space station. In addition to making lots of contacts with Earthbound hams, he sent many SSTV transmissions and I was able to copy these. The final one, which I attempted in early morning darkness on his last ISS day, says "Goodbye From Space - From Richard Garriott".




All these images were recorded using an Arrow antenna feeding a Vertex-Standard VX-150 2-meter handheld transceiver and a Sony voice recorder. The recordings were later played back through MMSSTV to acquire images, which were then labeled using Photoshop.

This series was originally posted as individual nodes in Drupal, but with the demise of that website have been moved to Flickr and collected in this single post.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Kentucky Warbler

I was preparing a rare bird documentation form for the Maine Bird Records Committee when I discovered this is not a review species. Rather than discard it, I'm copying it here.

Kentucky Warbler
Berwick, York County, Maine
May 13, 2012 approximately 19:20

These notes were made about a half hour after the observation after consulting field guides: Peterson, Sibley, Golden, iBird.

"Flushed at close range on side trail. Gave sharp tchew! note and moved quickly low in thick vegetation. Appeared for less than a second in plain view, though poorly lit. Immediately struck by facial pattern, which I registered as a bold yellow eye ring extending and drooping behind the eye. Dark olive green above with no wing bars, tail spots, or other distinctive markings. Rich yellow below with no streaking seen. First reaction: Kentucky. Did not observe black "moustache," but reasonable (?) to assume it blended with the dark upperparts in the poor light. (And I was distracted by the eye.)

"Heard one or two more notes and saw movement that seemed to indicate upstream movement. Spent a half hour looking with no luck."

A bit more...

I would estimate "close range" as 10 feet. I had been standing still for a couple of minutes just looking and listening for anything that might be around, but when I stepped forward this bird surprised me, flying away at an angle and close to the ground. The naked-eye view was of plain, olive-green upperparts on a warbler-sized bird, perhaps relatively short tailed, with nothing much to catch the eye.

It flew about 10 feet and into thick streamside vegetation -- a rose-and-bittersweet tangle under moderately open deciduous tree cover. It appeared a moment later, perched low but without obstructing vegetation, and I got 10x42 binoculars up and on it for just a moment before it went further into the thicket, not to be seen again. Though dusk was approaching, there was plenty of light and the bird was not in the shadows. In fact, an opening in the dense growth behind the bird created an evenly dark background against which the profile view was as fine as I could hope. It was a frustratingly brief look, but sufficient to absorb the field marks noted above.


The field guide review ruled out anything but my initial reaction. The Golden guide illustrations best reflected my memory. The nearest possibilities seemed to be Prairie (but no wing bars, eye encircled by yellow, and no side streaks) or Canada (but green above and unmarked breast). Yellowthroat, Nashville, Connecticut, Yellow-throated,... none made sense.

I can't claim much experience with this species. Oddly, my only other sighting was also in Maine, a well seen and shared individual on Seal Island in 1992.

Friday, May 04, 2012

There and back again

360 posts total now that the drupal import is done. Much dust must settle.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Titanic Special Event

Glad to make contact with the W0S operation via AO-27 this afternoon.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Rilke coincidence

Family book night, our first, and at the end there was a poetry section. I heard some. I looked for some but failed to read aloud. Later, alone, I remembered Schwarze Katze. Only I don't remember it by that name. It's Black Cat and I found it on page 65, enjoyed the reading, flipped to the front, and caught on the phrase "Erect no gravestone to his memory."

Stopped to read the six lines on Orpheus, which were then linked to the Third Sonnet of the Elegies.

A god can do it. But will you tell me how
a man can penetrate through the lyre's strings?

Ein Gott vermags. Wie aber, sag mir, soll
ein Mann ihm folgen durch die schmale Leier?

Riffling pages before putting the book away, my thumb stopped. I looked down to see

I, 3

A god can do it.

So I'll write about it. Facebook? No. Twitter? No. Blog? Not that one. This one.

Because there are two.

But so many more.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

follow that qar!

is this just here to draw the eye from there?

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hello I'm back

Just checking in. Not sure where I'm going. Suggestions?

EDIT: Happy Leap Day

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Faith matching for fun

Did the Belief-O-Matic survey in March 2007. This is what it spat out:

1. Unitarian Universalism (100%)
2. Liberal Quakers (94%)
3. Neo-Pagan (87%)
4. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (86%)
5. New Age (82%)
6. Reform Judaism (78%)
7. Secular Humanism (75%)
8. Bahá'í Faith (72%)
9. New Thought (69%)
10. Scientology (68%)
11. Theravada Buddhism (66%)
12. Taoism (65%)
13. Mahayana Buddhism (64%)
14. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (59%)
15. Orthodox Quaker (58%)
16. Sikhism (56%)
17. Nontheist (51%)
18. Orthodox Judaism (49%)
19. Islam (42%)
20. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (42%)
21. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (40%)
22. Jainism (35%)
23. Eastern Orthodox (31%)
24. Hinduism (31%)
25. Roman Catholic (31%)
26. Seventh Day Adventist (26%)
27. Jehovah's Witness (13%)

Friday, January 06, 2012

ARISSat-1 Summary of Reception

ARISSat-1 aka Radioskaf aka Radioscaf-B aka KEDR aka RS01S

more here

29 entries on my voice telemetry chart, the first on August 4 at 10:47 UTC (Mission Elapsed Time 967). On August 9 I got MET 8166, but a week later MET was already resetting during eclipse. Last voice heard January 3 at 21:19z (MET 51), with my first IHU report exceeding 50 degrees.

43 entries on the CW chart, the first on August 18 at 00:30z, the last January 3 at 21:20z. Copied 16 callsigns (and ?3IOR), some of them multiple times...

RF ranged from 305 to 541 mA.

54 frames on the data chart, putting me in the sagging middle of DK3WN's list (261 submitters).
Call Kursk Spacecraft Total
ZL2BX 7969 8959 16928
N8MS 7556 8544 16100
N0JY 5063 5884 10947
VK5HI 4933 5210 10143
JA0CAW 4162 4610 8772
N8MH 3711 4249 7960
KD8CAO 3673 3992 7665
DK3WN 3732 3932 7664
SM5SRR 3614 4041 7655
JA5BLZ 3255 3794 7049
N1AIA 22 32 54
JA0-CAW 1 2 3
EA7HZZ 2 1 3
OZ3SR 1 1 2
IW9EZO 1 1 2
DK5EC 1 1 2
IZ4RYB 1 1 2
F1DNF 1 1 2
M3PQQ 1 1 2
KD4RF 1 1 2
KC1HAM 1 1 2
# # #

Heard at least nine secret words / passwords, but don't understand some of them.
Recorded 13 messages and heard some more. Need translations. [EDIT: Got them. Tnx agn DK3WN.]
Obtained 15 SSTV images (2 during prerelease testing) and made a clean sweep on cameras.