//I added the following metatags
 
Nov
25
    
Posted (crates) in nature on November-25-2017

The last visitors were on Nov 11, 2017. Now I can’t access my past posts and can’t see anything when I go to the site except a white blank page.

Update–not having a clue as to what the problem was, I thought that perhaps the recent updates might have something to do with the problem.

   I thought that I would start with the plug-ins and began deactivating each one in succession and then seeing if the website would activate. It appears that the culprit was the “statpress” plug-in. When I deactivated this, the site web pages once became visible.

What a relief!

Now I’m noticing that the last word on each line on my posts doesn’t break by syllables…

Update–I changed to another theme and that seemed to do the trick.



 
Jun
05
    
Posted (crates) in nature, Photography on June-5-2016

Not long ago I saved some changes that I made to some photos using Lightroom.  Later I was using a different program trying to find these changes in the files where I thought Lightroom had saved the changed photos to…the photos weren’t there.  Later using Lightroom again I found the changed photos. Also I had moved some photos to a different folder which apparently broke the link between Lightroom and the photos.  Researching this apparent problem I ran across this discussion of Lightroom’s way of saving changes in Adobe.com’s help section.

Some things I found out:

A. Importing photos to Lightroom from a file that you have stored elsewhere does NOT actually bring the photo to Lightroom, but merely LINKS the photos to Lightroom. The photos do not move despite the term “import.” It also does not change them in anyway.

B. Lightroom looks first at the embedded .jpeg file in your RAW file when it imports your photo; this is later tossed.

C. Lightroom next reads all the Metadata it can from your RAW photos and stores it in the catalog.

D. Lightroom copies the RAW picture data and uses it in two ways: 1. it runs the data through the Raw processing engine to change it into an RGB rendering of the photo (preview). It stores these renderings in the catalog for you to work with.  It NEVER changes the original file.

E. This information is stored by default under your Pictures Folder (you can change this), and creates a folder called Lightroom Catalog which contains: Catalog. Ircat and Previews.Irdata Caches.

F. To review: Lightroom simply links to wherever you have your files, and copies the information about the photos and stores it in the Catalog.

G. You can put the new Lightroom Catalog in the same location as your source files if you wish.

H. If your source files are off line, then the catalogue can still access its copies to VIEW them. However you can’t modify them or generate new previews if the source files aren’t online. In file browsers you can’t even view the photos if they are offline.

I. Any changes made to the catalogue files do NOT change the originals, but only the preview files. Lightroom saves the original preview file, so even if you change this file, you can go back and look at the original preview file. Changes are made in the Metadata.

J. Command R will show you the original RAW file.

K. All the changes in the preview files are not accessible to OTHER programs unless you choose to allow them.

L. The Camera RAW files are treated by Lightroom as READ ONLY. Lightroom copies changes to the metadata in XMP files to sidecar files in the same folder as the original Camera Raw Files.  These sidecar files contain small text files containing the metadata.

M. You choose to have this occur automatically in the preferences (file>catalog settings>metadata tab>automatically save changes to XMP. Note this slows system down. You can just do this manually (ctr-s) instead of doing it automatically. Saving this to the sidecars makes the data available to other programs such as Camera Raw.

N. Camera Raw looks to the file system while Lightroom looks to the catalog.

O. You can have Lightroom get data from the file system (sidecar files) by choosing from menu.

P. You can export photos outside of Lightroom.

 

 

I copied the discussion below and plan on adding my comments to it as I study the process:

“What’s in a catalog?

A catalog is a database that stores a record for each of your photos. This record contains three key pieces of information about each photo:

  1. A reference to where the photo is on your system
  2. Instructions for how you want to process the photo
  3. Metadata, such as ratings and keywords that you apply to photos to help you find or organize them
When you import photos into Lightroom, you create a link between the photo itself and the record of the photo in the catalog. Then, any work you perform on the photo — such as adding keywords or removing red eye — is stored in the photo’s record in the catalog as additional metadata.
When you’re ready to share the photo outside Lightroom — upload it to Facebook, print it, or create a slideshow, for example — Lightroom applies your metadata changes, which are like photo-developing instructions, to a copy of the photo so that everyone can see them.
Lightroom never changes the actual photos captured by your camera. In this way, editing in Lightroom is nondestructive. You can always return to the original, unedited photo.

The Lightroom catalog versus a file browser

The way Lightroom works is different from a file browser such as Adobe Bridge. File browsers need direct, physical access to the files they display. Files must actually be on your hard drive, or your computer must be connected to a storage media that contains the files, for Adobe Bridge to show them. Because Lightroom uses a catalog to keep track of the photos, you can preview photos in Lightroom whether they are physically on the same computer as the software.

The advantages of the catalog-based workflow

The Lightroom catalog workflow provides two distinct advantages for photographers:

  1. Your photos can be stored anywhere
  2. Your edits are nondestructive

Lightroom offers flexibility in managing, organizing, and editing photos because your photos can be anywhere — on the same computer with the Lightroom application, on an external hard disk, or perhaps on a network drive. Because the catalog stores a preview of each photo, you can work with your photos in Lightroom and see your editing changes as you work. And all the while, Lightroom doesn’t touch your original photo files.

Best practices for working with Lightroom catalogs

It’s wise to approach your work in Lightroom with some forethought. You can move catalogs and photos, put photos in multiple catalogs, and combine or merge catalogs, but doing so can be confusing. In addition, links between your catalog and your photos may break. Follow these steps to plan your catalog setup and to minimize having to shuffle catalogs and photos around between computers and drives.

  1. Decide in advance where you want to store your Lightroom catalog. You can’t store it on a network. You’ll probably store it on your computer’s hard drive or an external disk.  After you decide where you’ll save the catalog, consider the specific folder or path where you’ll put it.
  2. Determine where you want to keep your photos. How much disk space is on your hard drive? Will it be enough? If you’re working on multiple computers, consider keeping your catalog and photos on an external drive that you can plug into either system. Copy or move your photos to that location before you import them into Lightroom.
  3. Finally, start Lightroom and import photos into the catalog by adding them in place.
Two final recommendations:
  • Although you can have multiple Lightroom catalogs, try to work with just one. There’s no upper limit to the number of photos you can have in a catalog, and Lightroom offers myriad ways to sort, filter, and otherwise organize and find photos within a catalog. For example, you can use folders, collections, keywords, labels, and ratings. With a little thought and practice, you can probably find ways to organize and manage all of your photos successfully in one catalog.
  • After you start working in Lightroom, if you need to move or rename photos — say that your hard drive fills up and you have to switch to an external drive — perform those tasks from within Lightroom. Do not use the Explorer (Windows) or Finder (Mac OS) to move photos. If you do, you’ll likely encounter the dreaded “photos are missing” error and you’ll have to relink everything.”   YES!  This is exactly what happened to me.  I had no idea previously that this would happen.  Homework, homework, homework!


 
Jan
15
    
Posted (crates) in nature on January-15-2014

I left the house this morning just after 5 am, my pack full of fishing equipment on my back, my rod and reel in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other.  I thought that I would get in a little fishing time down on the beach.  The road down to Puget Sound went through a heavily forested ravine, and it was so dark that I literally could not see my hand in front of my face.  I found myself almost wandering off the road at times, but the guard rail along the ravine kept me on track, and the sky was a bit paler in parts of the road that weren’t covered by the spreading branches of the trees. Down on the beach it was lighter out from under the trees, but it was foggy and the fog horns blew persistently across the Narrows.  It would blow four blasts and then pause, then four blasts again and another pause.  After a while I hardly noticed the sound.  A train was passing along the shore on the opposite side, and all the sounds seemed magnified as they passed across the water and through the fog.



 
Sep
17
    
Posted (crates) in biology, nature on September-17-2012

      Dark shapes were rising out in the water and each time that they did, I would hear a loud “whoosh.” They were Dall Porpoises and are fairly common in Puget Sound despite the fact they have been killed by the thousands by fishing trawlers in the NorthPacific.  I am always reminded of Orcas when I see these black and white mammals swimming here just south of the Narrows Bridge in Washington.

     It was early in the morning a few days ago, and I had just walked down to the beach with my pack in order to do a little fishing.  The sun was just lifting above the horizon making the rising mist glow and illuminating the beach and water in that beautiful golden light that I love so much.  The porpoises were heading south but stopped to cavort  just offshore before moving on. Their exhalations were very loud in the calm morning air.

     Earlier I had surprised a Bald Eagle on the beach as I walked down to my favorite spot.  I like to fish just alongside a large mass of brown algae which provides cover for the fish, but where my line will not become entangled. Later, I saw the same Bald Eagle dive at a fish in the middle of the Narrows, miss it, return and catch the fish and then laboriously begin to flap toward the shore, just a few feet off the water, before dropping it again.  It returned and caught the fish again and then made its way to the shore where it was barely able to gain enough altitude to reach its favorite perch on a Douglas Fir snag just above the beach.

      As the sun rose higher I was looking down the beach and saw what I thought were three dogs bounding across the sand.  I immediately recognized my error as I noticed their bodies seemed peculiarly elongated and flexible, and when they entered the water and swam away I knew that these were freshwater River Otters (Lontra canadensis) .  I have often encountered one of these otters along the road which leads down to the beach.  This otter seems to frequent a bridge culvert through which a small stream flows, and I can see its muddy footprints on the road pavement every time I walk down to the beach.

    Marine mammals were common this day.  I saw the heads of several Harbor Seals (Phoca vitulina richardsi) out in the water, but fortunately they didn’t approach the area where I was fishing.  Later in the day I saw a massive California Sea Lion (Zalophus californianus californianus) swimming slowly north against the tide, but lost sight of him until he suddenly appeared with his head sticking straight up out of the water about a hundred feet off shore. It was a really large beast–its head looked as large as a barrel.  It seemed to be treading water, and it was yawning deeply and then exhaling loudly which made it’s jowls flutter with a loud noise.  It continued to do this, slowly drifting with the tide for about two hundred yards–constantly yawning and exhaling loudly. My first thought was perhaps it was trying to infuse its body with oxygen after prolonged diving, but apparently the causes of yawning is still being debated. There are three main theories. The physiological theory states that we yawn to get more oxygen or get rid of carbon dioxide. The evolutionary theory suggests that early human-like species would yawn to show their teeth and intimidate others. The boredom theory says that yawning is caused by boredom, fatigue or drowsiness, and a more recent idea says we yawn to cool our brains! 

    The big sea lion finally finished his yawning and drifting, and then once again began to swim against the tide, quickly making up  the distance it had lost.

     I’ve been really enjoying the sunny days this year in the endlessly cloudy days of Puget Sound. The Seattle area only averages 58 sunny days a year (7th least in the U.S.) and 226 cloudy days, 81 partly cloudy days and 155 days of rain!  The sunny days thus far this year has been far above average.  This particular day was so nice that I almost didn’t mind not catching any fish.



 
May
07
    
Posted (crates) in biology, Ecology, Evolution, nature on May-7-2012

    Central America is the site of contending crustal plates–notably the Cocos Plate in the Pacific Ocean which is being subducted beneath the Caribbean Plate right off the western coast of central america at a rate of 72-81 mm/yr.  It’s this area where the Central America Volcanic Arc exists which forms the volcanoes of Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica.  To the north there is the North America Plate which is moving to the west at about 20 mm per year resultng in further seismic turmoil.  Then to the east the North American plates dives beneath the Caribbean plate as does the South American plate to the south.

     Once the link between North and South America was established there was a great influx of North American fauna into South America and vice versa to  a lesser extent.  The great marsupial fauna of South America died off mostly as did other less successful groups.  Some of the South American biota moved into North America.  Central America remains today one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world.

    Costa Rica and the rest of the isthmus has acted as a filter bridge in this great migratory process that really picked up steam only three million years ago when the connection was complete between North and South America.  The diverse topography of Costa Rica has resulted in refugia where species could still live after dying out in other areas.  This combined with the species from the north and from the south has resulted in a tremendous amount of biotic diversity in this small area.

    It is estimated that in this small country there are 500,000 to 1,000,000 species of plants and animals with most remaining unknown.  Insects by themselves make up about half of this diversity, whereas 850 species of birds can be found–about ten percent of all known species of birds.  North America has about half that number.  Others estimate about 160 species of amphibians, 220 species of reptiles and about 10% of all known butterflies.

   And all this in the second smallest Central American Nation (El Salvador is the smallest).  Only 119 km across at the narrowest point in the south and 280 km wide at its broadest point, it is quite easy to drive across the country in about five hours.  Solely in the tropical latitudes it still exhibits a broad range of distinct climate zones (12). 

The eastern Caribbean side is the wetest whereas the western pacific slopes are the driest.  Most areas have a rainy season, or “green season,”  (May-November) and a dry season (December-April) with the rainfall almost everywhere following a predictable schedule.  Usually the highland ridges are wet with the windward sides being the wettest.



 
May
06
    
Posted (crates) in Amphibians, biology, Caudata (Order) Salamanders, Evolution, nature on May-6-2012

It was 3 am and my bleary eyes found it  hard to see through the beating of my windshield wipers, but the tiny object in my headlights appeared to be something other than a small twig.  As I got out of the car and picked it up, I realized it was a salamander quite different than the typical Rough Skin Newt (Taricha granulosa) that I usually found in this area.Ensatina eschscholtzii

Although I handled it with great care, when I placed it into a container to hold it until the next day, I found that in its exertions to escape, it had lost its tail which was squirming distractedly about.  It also appeared quite motionless, and I wondered whether it was dead or whether it was simply feigning death.  After handling it, I noticed a dried secretion on my hand which I was careful to wash off since such secretions can often be irritating to mucous membranes.

    The next morning I found it to be quite chipper despite its moribund state the night before, and I confirmed that it was the lungless salamander, Ensatina eschscholtzii, which occurs from British Columbia to Baja California, Mexico.  This was the second specimen that I found crossing the same street in two months (April and May, 2012)–both times in a light rain around 3 am.

    These little salamanders have no larval stage and lay their eggs mostly in April and May under logs, and bark, and inside animal burrows, etc. and are usually attended by the female.  The clutch size ranges most commonly from 9-16 with a range of about 3-25 eggs.  The time it takes for the eggs to hatch varies amongst the subspecies, ranging from 113-142 days with a maximum of 177 days (Monterrey salamander).  The time involved was usually inversely proportional to egg size.

    The young reach maturity in three to four years with males reaching sexual maturity at about 48-55 mm snout/vent length while females reach maurity when they are over 60 mm snout/vent length.  One researcher (Stebbins) estimated that the oldest animals he studied was greater 8.5 years old while another researcher estimated ages up to 15 years.

Although quite variable in its coloration, it typically has nasolabial grooves, about 12-13 coastal grooves along its side, a constricted tail which can often snap off to distract predators, and light coloration at the base of its legs.



 
Feb
13
    
Posted (crates) in biology, nature on February-13-2012

      I keep getting these different types of fish confused.  I was checking out their differences and characteristics and thought that I would summarize what I found here.

Goldfish:  Apparently goldfish were bred in China over a thousand years ago for their colors  from the Prussian Carp (Carassius gibelio gibelio once  

called  Carassius auratus gibelio) originally an Asian species, but now also spread throughout Europe. (Photos from Wikipedia)

Koi (which means carp in Japanese): These colorful fish have been bred from the common carp  (Cyprinus carpio). Photo from Wikipedia

 The common carp was raised as food in Rome as long ago as 2,000 yrs ago and was cultured in China at least by the fifth century.  Apparently mitochondrial DNA studies have shown that the Koi has been bred from both the western eurasian subspecies of the common carp (Cyprinus carpio carpio) and the east asian subspecies (Cyprinus carpio haematopterus).  This multilineage background is still confused. The common carp is widespread throughout Eurasia and the United States.

Other Common Asian Carp Introduced into the United States:

  • grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella)
  • silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix)
  • bighead carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis)
  • black carp (Mylopharyngodon piceus)

Grass, silver, bighead and black carp are  sometimes known as the “Four Domesticated Fish” in China and are the most important freshwater fish species for food and traditional Chinese medicine. Bighead and silver carp are the most important fish, worldwide, in terms of total aquaculture production.

Silver carp or Jumping Carp (they have no stomachs and filter feed almost constantly) are the fish that I have often seen on television jumping high out of the water when frightened by motor boats.  These fish can jump 8 to 10 feet into the air and often cause injuries to boaters. When you consider that Silver carp can grow up to 100 pounds, you can see how dangerous they can be to boaters.  Bighead  carp normally don’t jump when frightened.photo from Wikipedia

Bighead, silver, and grass carp are known to be well-established in the Mississippi River basin (including tributaries) of the United States, where they at times reach extremely high abundances, especially in the case of the bighead and silver carp.

Bighead and silver carp feed by filtering plankton from the water which because of their abundance has led to concern because of possible competition with native species (filter feeders such as the paddlefish, shad, etc.). Of course because of the fact that these fish are filter feeders, they are difficult to catch by normal means.

Silver Carp’s head does not have scales and the body is covered in very small scales.  The eyes are turned forward and appear to be looking down a little.  The mouth is turned up.  The body is somewhat flattened from side to side and usually has olive-green backs and silvery sides sometimes with a bronze to reddish tinge.

Big Headed Carp: Photo from Wikipedia Commons

File:Bighead carp b.gif



 
May
03
    
Posted (crates) in birding, Birds on May-3-2010
COSTA RICA BIRD SPECIES                  Bold type indicates new life species for me (40 out of 82 total species IDed) San Jose Volcun Poas Hwy to Tortuguera Tortuguera Arenal Volcano area Los Chiles Boat Trip Hanging Bridges Guanacaste  
Rock Dove (Common Pigeon) x                
House Sparrow  x             x  
White Wing Dove x         x   x  
Blue grey tanager x         x      
Great Tailed Grackle x   x x x x   x  
Turkey Vulture x x x x x x x x  
Black Vulture x x x x x x   x  
Violet Saberwing Hummingbrd   x              
Blue wing patch red rump     x            
Road side Hawk     x   x        
Ruddy Ground-Dove     x            
Blue black Grassquit     x   x        
Frigate Bird       x       x  
Red Breasted Blackbird       x          
Northern Jacana       x   x      
Great Blue Heron       x   x      
Little Blue Heron       x   x      
Snowy Egret       x   x      
Great Egret       x   x      
Cattle Egret       x       x  
Summer Tanager       x          
Tropical Kingbird       x   x      
Anhinga       x x x      
Collard Aracari       x          
Green Heron       x          
Bare-Throated Tiger-Heron       x   x      
Great Green Macaw       x          
Great Kiskadee       x x x   x  
Long Tailed Woodcreeper       x          
Ringed Kingfisher       x   x      
Green Kingfisher       x          
Bright rumped Attila       x          
Flycatcher–check       x          
Royal Tern       x       x  
Boat-Billed Heron       x   x      
American Pygmy Kingfisher       x          
Red-capped Manakin       x          
Black-Cheeked Woodpecker       x          
Keeled-billed Toucan       x          
Chestnut-Mandibled Toucan       x          
Palm Tanager       x          
Baltimore Oriole       x       x  
Golden-Hooded Tanager       x          
Purple Gallinule       x   x      
Montezuma Oropendula       x x        
Rufescent Tiger-Heron       x          
Great Patoo       x          
Osprey       x          
Lesser Yellow Legs       x          
Tricolored Heron       x          
Scarlet Rump Tanager     x x x x      
Mangrove Swallow       x x x      
Spotted Sandpiper       x   x   x  
Black-Necked Stilt       x          
Red winged Blackbird         x x      
Orange blue beak         x        
Clay colored thrush         x        
Band Tail Pidgeon         x        
Social Flycatcher         x        
Crested Guan         x        
Black cowled oriole         x        
Neotropical Cormorant           x      
Green-Backed Heron           x      
Olive-throated Parakeet           x      
Rufous tail Hummingbird           x x    
Amazon Kingfisher           x      
Limpkin           x      
Yellow tail Oriole (call)           x      
Black Throated Trogan             x    
White-tailed Kite             x    
Blue-and-Yellow Macaw             x    
Brown Pelican               x  
Sanderling               x  
Black Breasted Plover               x  
Wilson’s Plover               x  
Whimbrel               x  
Squirrel Cuckoo               x  
Common Black Hawk               x  
Laughing Falcon               x  
Black headed Trogan           x   x  
Fork-tailed Flycatcher               x  
                   


 
Apr
24
    
Posted (crates) in nature on April-24-2010

ANNA’S HUMMINGBIRD A male Anna’s Hummingbird showing his bright, irridescent gorget.  This color is not contained in any pigment in the feathers, but is caused by the refraction of the light which is caused by the physical structure of the feathers.

ANNA’S HUMMINGBIRD  A side view of the same Anna’s Hummingbird. The gorget on his chin appears black now as the angle of the light changes and is no longer refracted.

       While leaping along some volcanic rocks on a Pacific beach in Guanacaste province in Costa Rica, I dropped my camera into a tide pool.    It was only underwater for a second before I snatched it out.  I immediately dried it with my bandana, took the lens off and opened the battery compartment, looked inside and saw it was all dry.  Apparently some water got in,  possibly through the control knobs and buttons, because it wouldn’t work.  It appeared that everything turned on fine, but the release switch to take the photograph wouldn’t work.

     After investigating I found that to clean and possibly repair the camera would cost more than I was willing to pay (especially since such cameras could not always be repaired, but you would have to pay to find out), so I decided to get another camera along with a lens which I have had my eye on for a long time.  This lens was the Nikkor 18-200mm lens with vibration reduction which allows the shooter to take photos at lower speeds.  Of course with telephoto lens this vibration reduction (VR) would especially come in handy.  The lack of some sort of telephoto lens on the Costa Rica trip was frustrating since other people were getting great bird shots with their telephotos, whereas I had to be satisfied with my 18-55 mm!  Some people have accused me of dunking my camera into the salt water so I would have the excuse of getting a new camera.  I totally deny this…at least it wasn’t a conscious action.

    Anyway I have found that for the first time, I am able to take half-way decent photos of birds.  I say for the first time although back in the early seventies I had a cheap Spiratone 400mm lens ($34!) which was half the length of my arm and which you had to manually stop down after focusing with the lens wide open.  It didn’t have a vibration reduction mode incorporated in the lens of course, and the photos I took were usually blurry.

   This past Thursday I went down to the local park by the waters of Puget Sound where this little male Anna’s Hummingbird has been hanging about for the past 3 or 4 years and was able to take these shots shown above.  You can check this site for more.  The little male would turn his head back and forth which would cause his brilliant gorget to flash on and off like a neon light as the light angle varied.  This is the same fella whose “chirping” displays I talked about before.



 
Apr
12
    
Posted (crates) in biology, Birds, Ecology, nature on April-12-2010

 

Central America is the site of contending crustal plates–notably the Cocos Plate in the Pacific Ocean which is being subducted beneath the Caribbean Plate right off the western coast of central america at a rate of 72-81 mm/yr.  It’s this area where the Central   America Volcanic Arc exists which forms the volcanoes of Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica (See photo above of Volcan Arenal).  To the north there is the North America Plate which is moving to the west at about 20 mm per year resultng in further seismic turmoil.  Then to the east the North American plates dives beneath the Caribbean plate as does the South American plate to the south.

     South America was part of the great southern land mass, Gonwanaland.  When it drifted away from the rest of the southern continents it remained in relative isolation for over sixty million years.  Once the link between North and South America was established there was a great influx of North American fauna into South America and vice versa to  a lesser extent.  The great marsupial fauna of South America died off mostly as did other less successful groups.  Some of the South American biota moved into North America.  Central America remains today one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world.

    Costa Rica and the rest of the isthmus has acted as a filter bridge in this great migratory process that really picked up steam only three million years ago when the connection was complete between North and South America.  The diverse topography of Costa Rica has resulted in refugia where species could still live after dying out in other areas.  This combined with the species from the north and from the south has resulted in a tremendous amount of biotic diversity in this small area.

    It is estimated that in this small country there are 500,000 to 1,000,000 species of plants and animals with most remaining unknown.  Insects by themselves make up about half of this diversity, whereas 850 species of birds can be found–about ten percent of all known species of birds.  North America has about half that number.  Others estimate about 160 species of amphibians, 220 species of reptiles and about 10% of all known butterflies.

   And all this in the second smallest Central American Nation (El Salvador is the smallest).  Only 119 km across at the narrowest point in the south and 280 km wide at its broadest point, it is quite easy to drive across the country in about five hours.  Solely in the tropical latitudes it still exhibits a broad range of distinct climate zones (12). 

The eastern Caribbean side is the wettest whereas the western pacific slopes are the driest. When I visited the Pacific coast area of Costa Rica (Guanacaste), the hills and countryside was covered with trees devoid of leaves.  It was strange seeing black howler monkeys sitting in leafless trees.  This was in sharp contrast to the rainforest on the Caribbean coast.   Most areas have a rainy season, or “green season,”  (May-November) and a dry season (December-April) with the rainfall almost everywhere following a predictable schedule.  Usually the highland ridges are wet with the windward sides being the wettest.



 
Apr
11
    
Posted (crates) in nature on April-11-2010
 
 

 

This is Concepcion, a volcano,  forming part of an island (Ometepe)  in the middle of Lake Nicarauga. It was putting forth steam and smoke just as our plane flew over. There was a heavier cloud of material that you can just see on the other side of the volcano which was proceeding down the NW slope towards the small communities just seen on the margin of the island.  This sort of thing must be common, because right at this time the pilot announced that we were beginning our descent into San Jose, Costa Rica without even mentioning that there was an erupting volcano just below us!   The last eruption is said to have occurred last December with gas and ash rising 150 meters into the air.  Maybe the above photo doesn’t depict an eruption?  Hmm…looks like it goes at least 150 meters into the air.  Addendum:  I just found this site which I quote:

On 8 March [just when we were passing over!] an ash and gas plume from Concepción rose to 2,100 metres altitude and light ashfall was reported in nearby communities. Low levels of seismic activity and occasional small explosions producing light ashfall were reported during subsequent days. On 12 March Washington VAAC issued a volcanic ash advisory reporting an eruption producing an ash cloud that reached FL100 (10,000 feet / 3,000 metres altitude). According to news reports there were two further explosions on 14 March. No casualties or damage resulted, although civil defence alerts remained in place for communities around the volcano. The Nicaraguan geological service INETER described the volcano on 19 March as ‘practically in a full eruptive phase’, with 34 explosions between 18:00 on 17 March and 11:45 on 18 March. On 19 March it was reported that the Nicaraguan government was sending army and navy units to the area around Concepción to strengthen civil defence preparations and prepare evacuation routes, ‘just in case’. The location of Concepción, on the island of Ometepe in Lake Nicaragua, makes floods and tsunamis a potential danger if the volcano were to erupt.

However, shortly afterwards activity at the volcano began to decline, with INETER reporting on 22 March that degassing and seismic activity had fallen to low levels in comparison with the preceding days. On 24 March INETER confirmed a ‘considerable reduction in activity’ but reported continuing ‘anomalous’ levels of seismicity. The current situation is that activity remains low, but the volcano continues to be carefully monitored.”

The northern end of Lake Managua in Nicaragua. Note the line of  steaming volcanoes.  Lake Managua is just to the north of Lake Nicaragua.



 
Apr
10
    
Posted (crates) in nature, Plants on April-10-2010
I had a fantastic time in Costa Rica.  It was over too soon!   I added lots of new species of birds to my life list, and saw lots of wildlife and terrific scenery.  I’ll try and talk about the trip in the future.  It’s too much to talk about all at once, so I’ll probably just divide it up into different subjects that interest me.  

        Here’s a flower that I found growing in Costa Rica. I believe it must be some sort of passion flower.  There are two small black bees on the flower.



 
Jan
30
    
Posted (crates) in nature on January-30-2010

   My father returned home from the hospital today!  He had open heart surgery last Monday (Jan 25) which went very well.  I guess they said that he could have gone home yesterday (Friday), but he said he wasn’t ready to leave yet!  Four days seems like a very short stay after such major surgery, but I guess that is the norm now if the patient is doing well.  He was in ICU until Wednesday.  He is at my sister’s place where he will stay for about the next two weeks as he recovers.  I sincerely thank everybody for their prayers and good wishes.

     Needless to say I am very relieved and overjoyed that he is doing so well.  He has never had any sort of major illness, no surgery, and as a child, I can’t remember him ever being sick.   His experience which seemed to come out of the blue with no warning (good cholesterol levels, blood pressure about 120/70, etc) makes me much more determined to live the sort of lifestyle that precludes such problems–exercise, proper diet, etc.



 
Jan
24
    
Posted (crates) in nature, People, Personal Stuff on January-24-2010

     Last Thursday (Jan 21)  my father had some chest pain after returning from the store.  It wouldn’t go away,  and soon my father realized that this wasn’t the normal discomfort that he sometimes felt from the acid reflux which he sometimes has.  Then he did something out of character–he asked his next door neighbor to call an ambulance.

    I understand how out of character this was for him, because I am just like my father in many ways.  We both would tend to ignore pain until it became overwhelming, and for him to ask for an ambulance shows that it was something out of the ordinary.   I am still surprised that he did this and didn’t try to drive to the emergency room by himself.  It just goes to show that he was experiencing something out of the ordinary and that he is much smarter than I am.

     The next morning he had an angiogram and instead of a stent which they thought he might need, they found he had two coronary arteries which showed some blockage.  He would need double bypass surgery.  The interesting thing is that they found that his EKG was normal.  A slight elevation of heart enzymes showed that he had a mild heart attack also.

    My father will be 86 in March and has always been extremely healthy.  The doctor, one of the best in the Dallas area, said that he doesn’t consider the patient’s age in considerating this procedure, but their health, and that my father was otherwise in excellent health.

     The operation will take place at 7:15 am CST tomorrow.  I’d appreciate any kind thoughts or prayers sent my father’s way.



 
Dec
25
    
Posted (crates) in nature on December-25-2009

     It is Christmas Eve, 11:55 pm, and I am alone at work, getting ready to go out into the frosty night.  Once again I think back on past times with my family as I have many times before.  I haven’t posted much lately because I have been working so many long hours, but soon it will be all back to normal.  Merry Christmas to All!