18 June 2009

Splendor in the Grass

What is nicer than laying in the shade of a great tree looking up a big puffy clouds in a brilliant blue sky? This was me a few weeks back in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The weather was perfect, no humidity. I had a book with me, but it was great just to lay back and drift off...

16 June 2009

The Baby Robins Have Arrived!

There are at least two little slightly fluffy, slightly bald little robins in the nest out front. Mom appears well and seems to be providing the necessary nourishment and warmth. Now I just worry about their first flight. Always something for a parent to worry about.

Furry Rodents

In general I think nature should be allowed to have her way. Having a garden shouldn't be about controlling nature, it should be about watching what happens. But what if some of nature's little visitors--like chattering, ravenous squirrels--seem more a byproduct of human habitation? Fed by too many well-meaning but misguided folks, the squirrels seem to be taking over and treating John's flower garden like a salad bar. I suppose next year when we have a real garden at ground level we will have bunnies to worry about. Will they seem any less predatory than the cute, but maniacal squirrel? And then of course there are moles and such. In that case we would have to call in my mother who has wielded a pitchfork and what seemed like sticks of dynamite (smoke bombs?) while waging a Caddyshack-like war against cute little vermin that were hellbent on destroying her lawn and garden. A good fence should take care of the deer which are all too prevalent in urban Washington. Of course none of this addresses the never-ending bumper crop of rats that plague our fair city. For them, and their ability to chew through just about anything and reproduce like cockroaches, no mercy!

14 June 2009

Boy Do I Love a Used Bookstore...

Urban Wetlands

When I was a kid I didn't really like wetlands. There was something about marshes, swamps, bogs, and ponds that made me uncomfortable. Not exactly sure why, probably something to do with fear of frogs, snakes, and muck. Then again, anything to do with nature kind of bored me when I was a little. An urban kid at heart I guess.

Now, I love wetlands. I think they are beautiful, I love the amount of wildlife they can support, and their ability to filter out nutrients and toxins before those deleterious substances reach rivers, lakes, and oceans is amazing.

These pictures are of the pond in Loring Park in downtown Minneapolis. Back when I was in college this pond was just your run of the mill water feature in an urban park. At some point since then the Minneapolis Parks Department seems to have made a conscious decision to turn that rather stagnant pond into a glittering naturalized wetland teeming with life. Two weeks ago when I was lucky enough to wander through it the weather could not have been nicer. A beautiful sunny day in the upper 70s with low humidity. Bliss. Plenty of Mallard families enjoying themselves and the red-winged blackbirds were everywhere. The song of the blackbirds was almost enough to drown out the traffic noise. (Click here to hear their song.)

12 June 2009

Welcome to the New Look of MyPorch?

With my extremely limited knowledge of HTML, I am not really able to customize the blog templates to my liking. I have been particularly annoyed with the way photos get posted. Without becoming an expert (which isn't going to happen) I am stuck with the templates available.

So I switched templates. This one seems to be a little more polished than the one I was using.

What do you think? Easier on the eye?

02 June 2009

Robin Update (click on picture for better look)

We didn't see the Robins for a few days so I was a bit worried they may have gotten frightened off. But then we saw her for a bit the past two mornings. But now tonight she was there when I came home from work and seems to be settled in for the duration.
Sorry the pictures aren't better. The second one is just the nest. The first is mom in the nest. I couldn't get her in focus. I was worried about spooking her. Hopefully I will get better pics soon.

01 June 2009

No TV Until July

As most of you know, back in May 2007 I made a list of 40 things I wanted to complete by the time I turned 40 in August 2009. One of the things on that list was to go a month without watching TV. Well, August 2009 is right around the corner and I haven't gotten around to this one yet. So the month of June will be the month without TV. I will admit a few things are being TiVo'd this month so that I can watch them in July (like the HBO "Into the Storm" about Winston Churchill and Kathy Griffin's "Life on the D-List"). But otherwise TV is off limits for the next month. No Netflix for the month either. I am allowed to go to a cinema for a movie though.

Lately I have been feeling a little overwhelmed by all of the news and politics websites I spend way too much time on and all of the political discussions that tend to dominate converstations here in Washington, DC. I have been feeling for a while like I wished I could tune all that out as well. So I am taking my no TV for a month a step further and I am not going to look at any news or politics website. If I want news I will have to read it in a print newspaper or maybe listen to NPR. This means I won't be able to wear my glasses at the gym--too many TVs on with news programs and closed captions. All those talking heads get me too wound up. Need to to tune those out as well.

I am still going to use 'the Google' for legitimate research purposes (weather, background info on authors, flight times, etc.) but I am not going to surf the web randomly or with the notion of filling some time. But this also made me think of the ways I waste my time on the computer. So I decided to knock out Facebook as well. So I will be silent there for a month. And that made me think of the other timewaster, FreeCell. The obnoxiously addictive solitaire-like card game that comes pre-loaded on new computers. So that is off the list as well.What is all of this "deprivation" going to achieve? Well, for one I meet my 40 by 40 goal. But I will also gain time to work on projects, read, think about my next career move, maybe write a letter or two. It should be brilliant.