Sunday, April 1, 2018


Today is Easter.

Today is also April Fool’s Day. 

And, given the way that Easter moves around on the calendar, I have to wonder if maybe it isn’t really Easter, but we are being told that it is as an April Fool’s Day joke.  

I also sometimes think that online scientific journals that publish papers on a continuous basis shouldn’t publish anything on April 1, so that the authors won’t have to continually explain that their study isn’t a joke. 

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Daingerfield Island

Here is a picture of Daingerfield Island (which is not an island) on the Potomac River as viewed from the north.  

I’d like to dedicate this picture to the people who have left the Washington area to chase their dreams across the far horizons of the world . . . which sometimes seems like almost everyone whom I know.

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Pond Frog

Unlike the green of the last photo, this one is more brown.  It’s an American Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana or Lithobates catesbeianus) in a drainage pond.  I took the picture at the beginning of September of last year. 

When one’s hobby is watching amphibians and (non-avian) reptiles in the wild in the temperate zone, there is an enforced period of inactivity in the colder months.  Birds, and thus bird watchers, are active all winter, but the reptiles and amphibians go into seasonal torpor.  In the Washington area the inactivity usually lasts (depending on variations in the weather) from some point in October to some point in March.  

And I have to admit that I kind of like this.  Something about being forced to take a rest appeals to me.  

But now the winter respite has come to an end.  A week ago I discovered that the Wood Frogs had already laid their eggs.  

Monday, February 26, 2018


I’ve been going through my photographs from the last few years looking for things to put on the blog.  I came across this cicada, which looks like Linne’s Cicada (Neotibicen linnei), a type of annual cicada, although the thorax coloration is different than is seen in some internet examples.  

The picture has a nice sense of green, in that the green of the cicada is reflected in the green of the surrounding vegetation.

Here is a closer look from a related picture:

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Check out the Claws on This Turtle

Click to enlarge, and take a look at the size of the claws.  This is a Red-bellied Turtle (Pseudemys rubriventris).  The males have elongate claws which they use to stroke the females during courtship.

  Red-bellied Turtles are common here in the Potomac, but are threatened in Pennsylvania, and endangered in Massachusetts.

In comic book terms, this is what happens when you cross the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with Wolverine

Monday, January 8, 2018

Now It Is 2018

A week ago I watched Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve (which contains neither Dick Clark nor rock music, but does contain a lot of apostrophes).  And then it became 2018.

How weird is that?

When I was growing up, 1997 seemed like the year in which it would become The Future, in which we should finally have those flying cars.  But eventually 1997 came, and it was no different then any of the earlier years.  And more years came, and we got the internet, and smartphones, but no flying cars, or really, anything else. 

But now, for some reason, 2018 sounds strange to me.  It shouldn’t be 2018.  The world has gone on too long, it’s gone too far.  

But then, I am still trying to figure out what happened to 2005.  

If anyone can tell me, please contact me and let me know.  

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Christmas Music Contradiction

Christmas itself is passed, but I think that by most people’s accounting, we are still in the Christmas season (although Christmas music is no longer being played on the radio).

One popular modern Christmas song is “Please Come Home for Christmas”, the first version of which was sung by Charles Brown in 1960.  It has since been recorded by musicians ranging from Willie Nelson to Kelly Clarkson, but the most famous version, which I hear every year, was released in 1978 by the Eagles.  

  There is a huge internal contradiction in the lyrics that bothers me every time that I hear it.  

Starting with the first four lines of the song, we have:

  Bells will be ringing this sad sad news
  Oh what a Christmas to have the blues
  My baby’s gone I have no friends
  To wish me greetings once again

Then we get to lines ten and eleven:

  Friends and relations send salutations 
  Sure as the stars shine above

  But how can friends send salutations to the narrator of the song if, as we learned in the third line, HE HAS NO FRIENDS??!?