Ghosts of evolution

October 11th, 2014

Ghosts of Evolution

I’ll have to get this at some point. I find this whole idea fascinating. Another example, with animals – pronghorn in the American Southwest. They are one of the fastest mammals in the world. Why? There is nothing there anywhere near fast enough to pose a danger to them. BUT, only a few thousand years ago, there was – the American Cheetah. Bigger than the african one, and about as fast. (Maybe)

The cheetah Рpronghorn link is still hypothetical….

Twitter, and stuff

September 24th, 2014

I need to post more.

Anyway, I’m giving Twitter a try for about the fourth time, and this time, I’m beginning to “grok it”. Mostly because I am watching some videos at Primarily, “up and running with Twitter.” Much of it, in the beginning, is simply finding interesting folks to follow.

North GA snorkel

August 17th, 2014

Well worth doing! Pam and I went Saturday, and had a blast. But, I determined that I need to learn to swim. I know the basics of swimming, but I’m so inept at it, I might as well say – I can’t swim. At least, not enough to say I can.

We saw the first musk turtles I’ve seen in the wild. Pam caught about three of them. And, since I got out of the water about 30 mins before she did (leg cramp) I also got to see a wasp dig a hole in the dirt beside my foot.

Right at the waters edge there are black walnut trees, paw-paw (with fruit!), silverbell, and a tall redbud. It was a worthy day!


August 12th, 2014

Baby blue tailed skinks have hatched out at the house. On August 8th, we were in Gatlinburg and the downy rattlesnake plantains were in full bloom. I love those little flowers. They were one of the first plants I took notice of, when Pam started introducing me to plants. She didn’t recognize the first I found (a lone specimen in a white pine thicket in North Carolina), but now we point it out to each other. Its quite common, and grows wild on our property. There is a single one in our front yard, which was accidentally transplanted by me.

Paw Paws, creek, and a sad note

July 25th, 2014

First, to get the sad note out of the way. I had to kill a baby chimney swift (bird) yesterday. It was very sad. It had fallen out of the nest in my folks chimney, and flopped around in the ashes for a bit. It was dehydrated, quite young, and not in good shape when we found it. If It had been in better shape, and a few days older, we could have kept it alive through the night and gotten it to a wildlife rehabber today. Sadly, that wasn’t the case. The best I could offer was a quick, painless demise. (Oh, and I got filthy trying to figure out a way to put it back in the nest.)

Anyway, we made a mosey out to check the paw-paw patch at Pine Log creek. There are quite a few paw-paw this year. Not as many as last year, but its still going to be a good crop.

Pam found numerous spotted salamander young in the creek, gills and all. These are the first salamanders she has found in this creek. There were far fewer snails as well.

Chimney swifts

July 23rd, 2014

Baby chimney swifts in the parents chimney. Going to go see Doctor Strangelove at the Fox tomorrow.


July 2nd, 2014

The gene came from another species! OMG! That makes Tibetans GMP’s!!! (Genetically Modified Persons!) They need to be forced to wear a label so that normal people know this – something like a big, bright red A on their foreheads!

Two baby killdeer

May 27th, 2014

There are two baby killdeer (really adolescent ones) hanging around work. They are in the mostly but not quite look like adults stage, but they can’t yet fly. Its amazing how quickly and totally they can vanish into an empty area too.
They are much older than the cute and fuzzy 2-3 day old ones I got pictures of a couple of years ago.

Northern rough winged swallow

May 27th, 2014

I saw four northern rough winged swallows mobbing a crow this morning. The crow was eating a biscuit in the parking lot, and the swallows (who nest in the nearby building) did NOT like that at all. They were almost, but not quite, touching the crow.

Brass Monkey

May 25th, 2014

From Urban Dictionary

brass monkey
Every sailing ship had to have cannon for protection. Cannon of the times required round iron cannonballs. The master wanted to store the cannonballs such that they could be of instant use when needed, yet not roll around the gun deck. The solution was to stack them up in a square-based pyramid next to the cannon. The top level of the stack had one ball, the next level down had four, the next had nine, the next had sixteen, and so on. Four levels would provide a stack of 30 cannonballs. The only real problem was how to keep the bottom level from sliding out from under the weight of the higher levels. To do this, they devised a small brass plate (“brass monkey”) with one rounded indentation for each cannonball in the bottom layer. Brass was used because the cannonballs wouldn’t rust to the “brass monkey”, but would rust to an iron one.

When temperature falls, brass contracts in size faster than iron. As it got cold on the gun decks, the indentations in the brass monkey would get smaller than the iron cannonballs they were holding. If the temperature got cold enough, the bottom layer would pop out of the indentations spilling the entire pyramid over the deck. Thus it was, quite literally, cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey.

Snorting dog tongue

May 10th, 2014

Pam and I watched our first four episodes (ever) of Big Bang Theory tonight. Its a hit. Then I snorted max-dogs tongue into my nose, which compounded the hilarity. We laughed until we cried.

Poison Ivy attack, stage 1, Pink Ladyslippers

April 27th, 2014

I just cleared a bunch of poison ivy out of the yard – some Virginia creeper too. While I have a lot against poison ivy, I don’t have anything against Virginia Creeper. Except that there is a lot of it where we don’t particularly want it.

Poison Ivy though – Pam is badly allergic to it. I’m highly resistant to it, but if I go wallowing in it, I’ll get a reaction. If it just brushes me or the like, I won’t. I took extra care though – gloves, long sleeved shirt, jeans, etc. All my clothes went straight into the wash. Shoes were rinsed off and wiped down. The gloves were thrown away.

There is still lots of both to be removed, but there is less now than there was! We have two shrubs to remove later this summer, after their bloom season is over. Bush Honeysuckle, both of them. If they were only mildly invasive, I would be all for keeping them. Unfortunately, they are very invasive. Right now they are covered in pollinators (LOTS of bumblebees, and some interesting wasps). They are also covered in carpenter ants. Pam maintains the Ants are after aphids. I maintain they are interested in the pollen. Observation will tell who is right!

In related notes, the woods in the yard are full of Soloman’s Seal. Ours are not as far along as the ones in the Great Smoky Mountains. We also have Adders tongue fern growing up close to the road. Last year the chickens ate it. Hopefully that won’t happen this year. Hmm, I just discovered via Google, that Adders Tonque has the most chromosomes of any known species of life. Now thats interesting. The Pink Ladyslippers are blooming. (Pam didn’t know they are bumble bee pollinated).

My pot of Venus flytraps died over the winter. It appears they are semi cold tolerant, in this area. I will have to rebuild!