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Odd Moment

Scrawled amongst my applied stat notes yesterday is the strangest little thing:

A pod of pterodactyls in a black sky. Miscellaneous terrestrial dinosaurs look on.

Is it a mnemonic device to help me remember the finer points of statistical inference? Is it a flashback from a proto-primate ancestor that remains embedded in my human brain? What could this mean?

It could just be a description of my professor’s tie. Both I and my neighbor in that class included comments about it in our class notes. Aren’t we good students?

Professors shouldn’t wear such interesting things to late evening classes. I was quite mesmerized by it–in other words, I stared at it for many minutes trying to figure out what the miscellaneous dinosaurs were. Hmm. This probably doesn’t bode well for my understanding of our last assignment.

Dear Judy

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My mom called me with bad news yesterday–our sweet Judy died. I’m so sad, she was such a good moo-cow.

I can remember when we found her, Daddy and I. It was winter and we went to check on the cows. We saw the white-faced cow with her new white-faced baby–so shiny and beautiful. Then, we drove down to the barn…and what did we see? An identical white-faced baby! The mama cow had twins, and decided only to deal with one. Daddy picked the little calf up over his shoulders and put her in the truck and we took her back home.

Here’s a picture of us on the day we brought her over. We’re sitting in Fred’s pen–the one that was built for my lamb–so I was in fourth grade, I think. I named her Judy (her sister became Julie)! We fed her and loved on her, and she became very tame.

When she got old enough, she went back to the rest of the cows. Most of the time, you could walk up and pet her although she got a little more ornery as she got older.

It’s sad to think that she’s gone.

Two Small Messages.

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First, this week is one of those where everything converges into craziness and lots of stress. Bleck. So, not much going on.

Two interesting tidbits: the first is a blog that I’ve been meaning to link to. Another Big Loser is a great blog, and the commitment and dedication to her goals is really inspiring.

The other interesting tidbit is that Spain will be requiring solar panels to be installed on all newly constructed homes. That’s one way of encouraging alternative energy use!

Hippos, Oh My!

Well, I should have known better than to start reading news articles about animals. Perhaps I’ll limit myself to one big animal post a week. Otherwise, it will be non-stop. We’ll start next week.

Apparently, hippos have been mysteriously dying in Uganda this year. One hundred and eighty of them, according to the BBC article. Today, the BBC reports that a German team of scientists have discovered that the hippos are dying of anthrax! Buffaloes and other animals have also been dying of this disease. They’re taking measures to vaccinate the livestock in the area and warning people to stop eating hippo meat.

Which makes me wonder–eating hippo meat? How strange! Strange to me, at least, but maybe not all that odd in the big scheme of things. And also, what kind of livestock are allowed in the park? It would seem to me, blatant speculator that I am, that cattle and national park don’t mesh well together. Maybe the buffaloes mentioned are the cattle, and are therefore less like exotic competitors. Maybe I should not think of the cattle as plump little Herefords and Angus either.

(Ha. When I was in high school, our rather condescending band instructor was introducing himself and asked if any of us knew what a Hereford looked like. Everyone laughed when I piped up: Red hair, white face. Heehee.)

Other links: The New Vision This is the state-controlled newspaper.

I’m glad I stumbled across it, since it’s always interesting to see what other places’ news is–especially locally. The problem is that I have a hard time telling what kind of news site some are–are they New York Times/Washington Post national papers, AJC’s or Miami Herald’s? Are they Columbus Ledger-Enquirers? Or what? In any event, I enjoyed visiting their site.

Another link to an article from The Monitor, an independently owned newspaper in Uganda.

The BBC’s profile of Uganda

It’s rather pathetic that I’ve spent a goodly amount of time chatting about hippos and buffaloes dying in Uganda, and managed to completely ignore anything about rebels, massacres, child soldiers, sex slaves, and the rest. That’s Uganda, too, along with the hippos and warthogs. Sigh.

Learn more about Uganda, and what you can do to help: Amnesty International page for Uganda Human Rights Watch page for Uganda

I searched some national papers for news about Uganda, hoping that my ignorance could be passed on to the MEDIA. Tough luck for me today. Guess I’ll have to shoulder some responsiblity for being completely ignorant.

The Washington Post has a letter or article of some type about the situation–published today. As well as a Reuters report from Monday. This is in addition, mind you, to the hippos have anthrax story.

Precious

I was trying to find some pictures that I’d promised a friend of mine, when I happened upon these of Precious. RA takes lots of pictures of our babies, but I thought that this was a really good one of Precious. She usually runs away when you hold the camera up, but she must have been feeling superior and secure while perched on top of the tv. The higher the better for her.

Of course, she would probably prefer this portrait.

Heehee.

Someone Visited!

Just a side note–my little map o’vistors has a dot on it today! Which means someone besides myself actually visited this page. Woohoo!

Thanks to the visitor–you made my day!

Eagles!

Another animal story. I’m a real sucker for animals of all kinds, basically–I want to know what they look like and where they live; watch them; know lots about them. I blame my parents for giving me a subscription to Ranger Rick and My Big Backyard when I was little. (I’m sure they regretted it at times–like when I would make “brushpiles” in the yard for the animals to live in or when I refused to clean my room, since that would mean habitat destruction.)

Anyway. In Florida, many bald eagles have lost their nests due to hurricane damage. Miami Herald link. So the eagles are returning to find their long-used nests missing, and in many cases, their whole tree is gone. Poor eagles. Perhaps this year, I can make it to one of the places around here where eagles are known to nest–otherwise, I may just have to content myself with visiting the one at the “zoo” here in Athens. Its bald eagle, like all of its other raptors, was severely injured and would not be able to live on its own in the wild.

Another interesting article I came across brought up the problems that Florida’s ecosystems may have recovering from the multiple hurricanes. Not that hurricanes aren’t natural, or that the environment there is not adapted to them–but that due to the increased human population and alteration of the landscape, it is much more difficult for the natural systems to recover. The human impact of paving over so much land, introducing exotic and very competitive species, and the general fragmentation of habitats are all factors implicated in this. Something to think about–and from a land use perspective, how could communities/states shape their physical environment so that these factors are lessened?

That’s going to give me some food for thought today–not that I need extra thoughts to chew on, since my day is pretty packed. That and the fact that I was pretty lazy the past few days, and I’ve got to get moving. Again.

Orcas!

On October 14, there was a 1,000+ gallon oil spill in the Puget Sound near Tacoma. Dalco Spill As of now, the authorities are in the process of tracking down the culprit. LA Times (registration req’d). An AP report notes that two orcas and their babies managed to dodge the worst of it, since they crossed the spill area a week later. The orca population in the Puget Sound has dropped to 84 from 99 in the past 10 years. (Note: 99 is the highest documented population by the Center for Whale Research in the past 28 years. In 1976, only 71 whales were recorded for the region.) The Center states that the reduction of 14 individuals in the past 10 years is evidence of a “preciptous decline”–I don’t know enough population biology to state one way or the other whether this is so. There does seem to be a trend downwards. However, the site also says that 100 is the presumed carrying capacity, so perhaps this is just a natural fluctuation. I’d understand the wish for highly conservative predictions–underestimating the health of a population is not something you want to get wrong.

While rummaging about for more info on this, I ran into the รูเล็ตออนไลน์Center’s website–and you can volunteer to go help them for a week!! Wouldn’t that be amazing! Besides learning about that opportunity, they have fabulous pictures of the orcas. Even of the cutsey little babies!

Sometimes I wonder why I’m in law school/grad school–I would love to be a conservation biologist. Unfortunately, I think it’s too late for that. There’s not enough time in my life to do everything I want to do!

Sandy Creek

Yesterday, I decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and get outside again. After cleaning the house and eating lunch, it was really too late to go too far away, so I settled on Sandy Creek Park here in Athens. I knew they had a couple of decent length trails, so I moseyed on over there and settled on the Swimming Deer Trail, which follows along the lake shore for three miles.

The trail is actually blazed, which was helpful since the trail is more of a footpath than a broad cut through the woods. And right now, the footpath is covered with leaves. A short distance from the beginning of the trail, there’s a little rocky area that juts into the lake a bit. It’s very pretty. I saw a male Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker here, and a Great Blue Heron. If I returned to this trail, I would probably only go as far as this point.

Which isn’t really to say that I didn’t enjoy the trail. It was a nice stroll through the woods, but I got bored after a while. Bits of leaves got in my shoes, and my feet were a bit sore from running around the day before–both problems would likely have been solved by wearing boots instead of tennis shoes. So, I turned around and walked back before I made it to the end. On my way back, I kept losing the trail–I don’t think there are as many blazes on the return–and that really didn’t improve my mood. Mostly, I think that I wanted to be somewhere else besides Sandy Creek and that’s why I was so grumpy.

Besides the birds, there were plenty of people on the lake–including the ones in this sailboat.

Beautiful Day!

Gorgeous fall days like today are sometimes all you need to snap out of a funk. Once the sun broke through the clouds yesterday, my spirits really were lifted. The time for gloom is over, and the time for moving on is here. (Not that moving on entails ignoring the things that need to be done, but no more moping.)

After I woke up this morning, and saw that there was not a cloud in the sky and that the weather was nice and cool, I ran around the house being completely obnoxious and sent similarly obnoxious emails to hiking buddies. Unfortunately, everyone had obligations today that couldn’t be jettisoned. So, I ran off on my own to Watson Mill Bridge State Park.

I had such a lovely day! At first, I thought I would be lonely, the way I usually am when hiking by myself. It ended up not being lonely at all, since I spent so much time watching for birds. I doubt that anyone I know would be content to stand very quietly for 5-10 minutes at a time and practice watching for birds! Being on your own does have some benefits.

I started out on the Ridge Loop Trail, which is a short little trail. The woods were full of golden trees, hickories I think.

After hiking about half of the trail, I decided to stop and practice looking and listening a bit. This is when I saw two large black birds with a significant white markings flying about–I didn’t know what they were, but they were interesting. After a few minutes watching Red-bellied woodpeckers, I saw one of the large black birds. It flew through the woods and from the way it landed upon the tree, I suddenly realized that it was a woodpecker itself. It flew from tree to tree, and I glimpsed its bright red crest–and then I knew for certain that it was a Pileated Woodpecker! This is one of the birds that I have always wanted to see,and I can hardly believe that I saw this one. It flew towards me and landed on a tree just a few feet away. I would have gotten a better look at it, except when I saw it up close, I gasped and it flew away. Way to teach me to keep my mouth shut!

Once I made it back to the start of the Ridge loop, I followed the signs to Beaver Creek Trail. This trail is about twice as long as the first trail, being about 1.5 miles. It was a great trail for birds–I saw plenty of eensy little ones. Of course, because I left the house in a hurry to enjoy the day, I didn’t have either my binoculars or field guide with me. So, all I could do was squint at the eensy little birds, and identify even more Red-bellied woodpeckers. Then, just as I decided that I’d had enough standing still for a bit, I turned my head and directly across the creek from me was a white-tailed deer, a buck with about six points. It didn’t notice me at all, and I stayed very quiet. It wandered off along the creek.

I completed the Beaver Creek trail and walked back to the bridge and wandered down the Nature trails to the Old Powerhouse Ruins.

When M and I visited in September, we had turned back after crossing the footbridge past the powerhouse ruins, but this time I continued to the abandoned steel bridge near pioneer campground II.

If I were to camp at this park, I would want the campsite at Pioneer campground II. The creek is so pretty at this point, it would be so peaceful and relaxing to spend a few days and nights there.

I walked back to my car on the park road, since the sun was on its way down. I’m really proud of myself, though, I got back home before 5pm–that has to be some kind of record for me!

Well, I had high hopes for this election, I really did. Unfortunately, my hopes lie, for the most part, shattered on the ground. In my short voting life, I have never been more devastated over election results.

Of course, it’s not all bad news for me. Our new House representative is a Dem, John Barrow. Perhaps this means that RA and I will finally have the satisfaction of receiving letters from our representative that start off with, “You’ll be glad to hear that I voted for X.” I guess we’ll learn to live with a dirty liberal trial lawyer for a representative. (I always feel the urge to congratulate those people with a distaste for trial lawyers–they’re hard as tacks. You’ll never hear them complain about a clamp being left inside them after an operation, or about a malfunctioning railroad crossing gate that led to their child’s death. No siree. They always play the hand they’re dealt and never draw.)

Anywho. I spent most of the day in jammies, reading the news online. Then admin law–there’s just nothing to brighten your day like three hours of discussion over federal agencies and rulemaking. Although I did get a dark little laugh over the case where the AEC decided to basically ignore the cost of nuclear waste, since in the future, we’ll have figured out a way to neutralize it. The future isn’t here yet, thirty years later. We don’t even have flying cars! The American imagination is dead.

But, in the end, life goes on. I’ve been thinking about the things that are most important to me, and how I can focus my actions so that they have the most impact. I haven’t finished my list yet, but the brainstorming is coming along nicely. I hope those who are likewise despondent about the results of the election are also making their lists and checking them twice. Tomorrow, I’ll get to commiserate over lunch–and perhaps conspire over ways of becoming more active in the community.

As one way of reaching out and perhaps feeling as if you are making a difference, I urge any of you to sign up for Amnesty International’s Write-a-Thon. link December 10th is Human Rights Day, and you can pledge to write a letter (or several) about the plight of prisoners of conscience. There are other ways to become involved with Amnesty, so if you’re interested, dig around on their site.

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