Friday, June 22, 2007

The Return

OK, this is the Vermont bro checking in after an extended absence with a hodgepodge of stuff.

One reason for the absence is that quite often I use this space to give Evelyn updates and Evelyn and her Mom have been visiting our California relatives since June 5th. Yikes!!! It is hard to be away from the little one for so long. My only request of Linda (and Evelyn) when they left was that Evelyn not learn to walk while she is out there, as I would hate to miss those first tentative steps. It looks like my wish will be fulfilled as the little one is still 'scootching' along. They are due back on Monday and suffice it to say I can't wait.

Early summer is firefly season in Vermont. Although I have a vague recollection that I said something similar a year ago, here it is again, with a little twist. Recently Linda and I purchased a 'mosquito magnet', which is a device that runs on (strangely enough) both propane and electricity to capture and kill the little critters. It is surprisingly effective and so for the first time I can sit in the yard on nice summer evenings and not get eaten. I should say that our yard is a patch of grass about 100 ft. x 80 ft. surrounded by woods on three sides and the house on the fourth side.

The other evening I returned from a meeting just after dark and since it was warm I sat out in the newly mosquito free yard. The fireflies were just amazing. There must have been more than a hundred of them in the grass, in the trees and flying around. It was really easy to remembe the magic of this place.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

So true...

On one of my technical issues mailing lists, someone has this as his signature:
In theory, theory and practice are exactly the same. In practice, they're completely different.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Repurposed Life

When I travel, I like to bring back inexpensive little souveniers for the members of my department at work. When we sailed on the Queen Mary II, I brought small tins of mint candies that had a picture of the QM2 on the lid. Today I received this email message from one of my coworkers:

I've just finished the last mint that you'd given me from the QM2. Thanks again for thinking of us in your travels. I thought you might be interested to know that this tin will, at some point, be repurposed. It will become a geocache container.

The size of this tin qualifies it as a mini cache. In the description of various caches, the size of the container is listed to give those who are looking for it an idea of how difficult the cache is going to be to find once they arrive at the coordinates. This tin will have a log book placed inside of it with a trophy prize for the first find, and maybe a few trinket prizes for those who find it after that. Most of the time the geocachers who take something from a find leave something in its place so tokens remain for subsequent successful seekers. Since this cache will be registered, geocachers the world over will be able to load the coordinates into their GPS and follow the hints given to find this tin!

The uniqueness of this container opens it up for all kinds of wonderful clues and prizes. This tin might possibly contain a "Travel Bug", that's a registered token, where cachers will take it and relocate in a different cache and log the travel bug number and the coordinates where it was found. Online the travel bug can be tracked as it travels the globe. Thanks for the good candy and the great caching container!

QM2 Tin

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Small World (and Even Smaller Town) Department

My apologies to the Associated Press, but this story appeared in our local newspaper, and to Judi it was big news, though not for a reason that would be apparent to most: Note the dateline -- Rock Bluff, Florida. The tiny, tiny hamlet of Rock Bluff, on the Suwannee River, in extremely rural Gilchrist County, is where Judi grew up, in a house that was just the other side of a dirt road from the famous river:

Jumping sturgeon injures woman on Suwannee River

The Associated Press

ROCK BLUFF, Fla. -- A woman was injured over the weekend by a leaping sturgeon, the latest incident involving the flying fish on the Suwannee River, officials said.

Tara Spears, 32, of Bell, was knocked unconscious by the animal on Sunday while boating on the river north of Rock Bluff, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reported.

She was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and expected to recover, the agency reported.

The large, prehistoric-looking sturgeon have hard plates along their backs. They can grow up to 8 feet long and up to 200 pounds.

In April, a leaping sturgeon severely injured a 50-year-old woman from St. Petersburg who was riding a personal watercraft on the Suwannee River. She suffered a ruptured spleen and had three fingers reattached by surgeons, but she lost her left pinkie finger and a tooth.

Monday, June 11, 2007


Gulf FritillaryJudi looked out her window this morning, to see...


Gulf Fritillaries, to be exact. Agraulis vanillae, to be even more exact.

She was estactic.

The caterpillars that ate their way through the passion vine are now becoming young butterflies. Bright orange young butterflies.

She's still estactic.

(And on a totally geeky note, I'm composing this post using Apple's new Safari for Windows Web browser. When Steve Jobs says it's fast, he ain't kiddin'.)


Tuesday, June 05, 2007


CaterpillarJudi has always wanted butterflies in her yard, so when she learned that butterflies like passion vines, she put a couple of them in. She's been watching anxiously ever since, and, a little over a week ago, she discovered...

...caterpillars! Caterpillars are, as you know, the necessary prerequisite for butterflies. She's very excited! Every day she goes out to conduct a Caterpillar Census, noting how many there are of each size (tiny, medium, and fat). Typically, bugs (except ladybugs) send Judi into hysterics, but she's completely captivated by these ugly caterpillars ("Boy, there really ugly, aren't they," she said to me, in a voice of utter fascination).

The one passion vine (no caterpillars on the other yet) is pretty well munched up, but leaves grow back. We are now awaiting cocoons, to be followed by newly emerging butterflies. We have both watched, at The Butterfly Farm in St. Martin, a newly emerged butterfly carefully unfold its wings, beat them slowly to dry, and then tentatively launch into the early morning air on its very first flight. It's something to see.


Friday, June 01, 2007



-verb: to strike or occur to with a sudden feeling of wonder or astonishment, as through unexpectedness (

-noun: my reaction to the news, heard this morning, that New Hampshire is becoming only the fourth state in the Union to recognize same-gender civil unions.
Even more surprising is that New Hampshire is the first state to take this step without any pressure from litigation. Governor John Lynch is quoted thusly in the New York Times: "this is a matter of conscience and fairness."

Wow. It's been decades since I left New Hampshire, but I did grow up there, and at the time it was a backward and reactionary place. This is... almost unbelievable. Have things really changed that much? Has New Hampshire really gone from a hotbed of hatred, bigotry, and persecution -- well, okay, maybe not persecution -- to being on the leading edge of conscience and fairness?

No, don't answer that. Don't wake me up.


Welcome to hurricane season

Today is the first day of Hurricane Season -- though Mother Nature didn't get the memo: We've already had the first named storm of the year, Andrea. Anyway, last year I explained why I think the current system of naming storms is boring and repetitive, and proposed a new system that uses a fresh set of related and educational names each year. Last year I proposed the Season of Cheeses. This year, I propose a Season of Greek Gods, and offer this humble list for your consideration:
Athena (there are so many A's to choose from!), Bacchae, Charon, Dionysus, Erato (muse of love songs and erotic poetry -- Zeus only knows that this has to do with hurricanes, but I couldn't resist), Furies, Gaia, Hades, Io, Jason, Kerberos, Lethe, Medusa, Nemesis (great name for a hurricane!), Oceanus, Poseidon, Quiritis, Rhea, Styx (the river was named for this goddess of unbreakable oaths -- did you know that?), Typhon, Uranus, Vesta, Xanthos, Zeus
Four of the names -- Charon, Hades, Kerberos, and Styx -- have to do with the underworld, which I thought was fitting. I have not been able to find any Greek dieties that have names beginning with J, Q, V, W, or Y, so there's a mortal sitting in, Jason, and I borrowed Quiritis and Vesta from the Romans. No W or Y hurricanes this year.

Do you have an idea for next year's hurricane names? Please leave me a comment if you do. Thanks!


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