Adventures In ACE XIV: God’s Special Snowflakes

When this series is over, I’m going to need that mind-zapper thingy from Men In Black. You’ll probably need it, too, so you’re welcome to borrow it when I’m done. If we don’t clear our minds of this crap, we’ll never be able to play in the snow again.

We had hints last time that the writers of ACE PACE 1087 suck mightily at understanding the science of the hydrosphere. But verily, I say unto you, that introduction gave us no warning at how spectacularly incompetent they are at the science of snowflakes. I know I always tell you to pad any surfaces around you before proceeding, but I really mean it this time. And don a helmet and a neck brace so that repeated headdesking won’t result in permanent injury. Also, if anyone in your household is sleeping, or there are persons or animals who get distressed by loud howls of derision, please take this opportunity to procure a gag, thick pillow, or some other device that will muffle your cries. [Read more…]

Fundamentals of Fungi: Pantherina

Let me introduce you to a beautiful probably-Amanita pantherina mushroom that said “Fuck you, lawnmowers!” and popped up this spring. Well, early March. It counted as spring because damn, our March was warm. Must be all that global warming I hear so much about.

Image shows a round-topped, brown, white-spotted mushroom on a lawn.

Most probably Amanita pantherina.

Of course, I could be wrong about the identity, I am not an expert. But it’s somebody from the Amanita family, and pantherina fits the bill. Besides, I love the name. If I ever get a panther, I shall name her Pantherina (spoiler: I will not ever have a panther, because Misha has taught me that having a cat that can’t bite your arms literally off is safest). [Read more…]

A Hairy Woodpecker In Your Face!

I’m having all sorts of awesome good luck with birds this winter/spring, people. I mean, hooded mergansers on North Creek, American coots (which you shall soon have adorbs videos of), an owl(!), some super-cute diving birds I’ll be unleashing upon you soon, and woodpeckers.

You got the ID on our very far away and barely visible woodpecker from Lord Hill Regional Park. It is indeed a hairy woodpecker! Congratulations to all of you who either got the ID. Condolences to those who thought it was a downy woodpecker – I thought it might be, too, hence my laundry reference. Now that I understand the size differences, I agree with the hairy woodpecker crowd. Damn these lookalikes!

Here for your viewing pleasure is a much better video of a hairy woodpecker. [Read more…]

“There Have Never Been Frontiers Between Astronauts.”

This is a beautiful sentiment from the first human to walk in space:

“There have never been frontiers between astronauts. The day that this notion sinks into the minds of politicians, our planet will be different.”

Part of me would like to see that world. Part of me wonders if, as Robert Frost’s neighbor said, “Good fences make good neighbors.” I know we need fences even in our own communities. I know sometimes those fences are the only way to co-exist. There are some frontiers between people and nations that need to be there, at least for a time. I just hope that if we do ever get to the point where frontiers dissolve, it’s because we’ve all learned how to treat each other well. [Read more…]

Fundamentals of Fungi: Baby Butter! Plus UFD!

Ermahgerd, you guys, it’s baby witches butter!

Image shows a tree trunk with a tiny patch of bright-orange fungus growing on it. The patch is only about the size of a pinkie nail.

Baby witches butter, with my index finger for scale.

This was at the entrance to the Temple Pond trail at Lord Hill Regional Park. That place has become our go-to spot for winter hiking. There are so many trails we haven’t even seen them all, and we’ve been out there several times. This time around, we did a bunch of the ponds, and it was perfectly lovely. We saw a woodpecker, and heard owls, and visited about a billion ponds (okay, maybe four or five). I’ll be doing up a full guide someday, but it’ll have to wait until after we’ve finished exploring the trails a few times.

Just down the trail, we found a couple of logs loaded with wood mushrooms. [Read more…]

Mutant Mallard

I’m a very bad person. Let’s just get that right out of the way: I’m terrible. Every time I go for a walk along North Creek, I forget to bring duck food. Most days, it doesn’t matter, but then there are days when all the duckies are hungry and quacking at me and I feel like a complete failure of a hominid. What good am I to them except as a duck feeder? I fail.

But they let me photograph them anyway. They’re dears, even if I know the males are terrible rapist assholes.

On a recent warm spring day, I went for a walk along the creek, and encountered a mutant mallard, who graciously posed even though I had no foodstuffs for him. [Read more…]

Unidentified Flying Dinosaur: Whooo Ya Gonna Call?

Back in March, B and I were traipsing through Lord Hill Regional Park. We’d just got done with the River Trail, and were trudging back along the main trail. It was getting near sunset, and the woods were dusky, with only occasional glimpses of the sun. The usual wind rustling branches, little birds chirping, and sometimes planes flying by filled the silence. And there was a loud, echoing call in the distance. I thought it was kids making silly animal sounds. It became a sort of background noise. I didn’t think much of it. [Read more…]