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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

We had some rain last night. It's always a bit of an event here; we don't get much rain. I always fall for the rain cliches -- the smell, the freshness, the peace and contemplativeness. And then there are all the plastic kids' toys abandoned in the mud.

I did something remarkably masochistic last night. I looked at reviews for digital cameras. My Fujifilm was tucked in for the night, completely unawares of my faithlessness. I don't know that my financial inability to carry through with my desires would have spared its feelings -- that Canon EOS 20D calls to me and I respond to its hot hot seat and 8.2 Megapixels. Oh Fujifilm, I never meant to hurt you or take you for granted but I can't say my head wasn't turned when I was offered a depth of field preview and then it showed me that range ... f/1.4 - f/91. I think my heart had stopped beating. Then came the stats on that shutterspeed -- lightning 1/8000 s or a slow, sensual 30s. I think my hands are still shaking. But Fujifilm, you know this is a passing infatuation, like yours with Danny Elfman, Kate Bush and the actor who played Kahn's first officer in The Wrath of Khan who also starred in the short-lived television show, The Phoenix. I know we can make this work out, Fujifilm, I know we can. (Until I find an extra $2k laying around.) Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The captioning possibilities here are wonderful. Any suggestions? Posted by Picasa

Sunday, September 25, 2005

The flower splits to reveal and release the seeds. It looks grizzled and deeply wrinkled. I called it 'Dark Atropos'. Posted by Picasa

An odd flower sprung from the seeds of the birdfeeder. First I thought of a chess queen, then I as I thought of the different stages of the flower, I thought of the maiden, mother, crone trio. I call this one 'Dark Lakhesis' - the mother figure of the three fates. Posted by Picasa

When all the petals of a peony fall off, the mandala is left. Each character, one petal. I have this strong feeling that I should be able to read the symbols. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 22, 2005

I like the spikey feel of this one, but the honeydew-offering aphids aren't as clear as in the other, simpler picture.

I've been struggling to get a good picture of these guys, but it's tough. My lens is so short that I have to be very, very close. Generally the photoshot ends when I realize I have a mess of biting ants all over me. I'll take spiders any day! Posted by Picasa

An aphid offering a drop of honeydew to a protecting ant. The honeydew consists of sugar that the aphid can't process. The ant may "milk" the aphid by tapping/stroking the aphid with its antennae. Posted by Picasa

Two very different looking aphids on one of my dandelions. I leave a few growing in my yard, my boys pick the yellow flowers -- happy to be allowed to pick something. The dandelions then attract insects and slugs. When we have a guest garter snake, these plants are efficient larders when it's feeding time. Posted by Picasa

The remains of a peony at the beginning of fall. Posted by Picasa

Raspberry leaves announce the coming of fall. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Yellow Jacket Nest

Under our back porch, I found this nest unattended mid-June. I removed it and took some pictures before putting it in the birdfeeder.

At the center of the nest were capped cells, pupa preparing to emerge. Following a spiral shape outward are younger and younger larva. In this picture, the capped cells are at the top, then in the upper right an older larva, diagonally down and left a younger larva, to the left an even younger one, and so on. At the bottom of the picture are cells with single eggs and a clear drop of liquid. It's like being able to watch the development of this insect using time elapse photography. Posted by Picasa

Monday, September 19, 2005

Some writing

For all of you who don't read Fark this was an interesting article linked to the site South African Rain Spiders. These fellows look really interesting. I need to find some philanthropist who wants to send me on photographic spider safaris.

In computer news, my Toshiba is shutting off unexpectedly and I think it's the CPU overheating. I've currently got it propped up on four blocks of Coleman Brite Ice with an aluminium shield from the condensation, max cooling setting from the control panel and CPU set to mid speed rather than high. So seems to be working well, but as it's still under warranty I'm bringing it in tomorrow. I'm already twitchy from withdrawal.

I also need new rechargable AA's. I suddenly have only four of them, rather than the twelve I generally carry around (one set in the camera and two charged up spares). I think my shortage is somehow related to all the battery-powered toys Kai got for his sixth birthday. It seemed to go pretty well. :)

I've signed up for another math tutoring gig (Tues and Thurs evenings). It should give me another few work hours a week, not quite as much as my own leads (I can squeeze those in Sat mornings and all day Sunday). But it's more than my online tutoring (Fri and Sat evenings). That gives me Mon and Wed for my class. I do like working through math problems and concepts with students, I'm just a little afraid around midterm that I'm going to be insanely busy. I guess busy is better than broke.

My brothers and I found we're all addicted to IMDB trivia. I don't get to see much of them (you can see them at Wave and Tree), so when we do meet it's always fun to find out the common interests like Teen Titans!. I won a point for knowing who voiced Aqualad (on Teen Titans) and my brother Scott earned a trivia point for knowing Bill and Ted's (from the movie "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure") hometown.

As I go through my photos doing backups, I've come across some older ones that never made it into the blog and probably should have. I'll try to make a note of the photo's date when I put them up. Just the past few days I've been watching the ants farming and milking aphids. I always come away itchy -- those insects are very territorial.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Our garter snake, full with one last gift slug, ready for release.

I saw Photo Friday's theme is "Divine". Given my ecclectic religious and irreligious background, I started to think of snakes and butterflies. I settled on snakes since that's what I've been taking pictures of the last few days.

Snakes, boon-givers and reincarnation masters, life and death, blood and fertility, eternal, and wise.  Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Same spider, this time from above. I like howthe patterns are definite but subtle. Posted by Picasa

Rowan found this spider yesterday and I wasn't able to take any pictures. Today, though was a better day and I found her once again. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

And finally for today, some head/face details. Posted by Picasa

More wing detail. If you mail order caterpillars, you'll get a chance to photograph while they're still a little groggy. Posted by Picasa

Pretty Lady. Posted by Picasa

Waiting to Be Released

Body and wing detail of one of our mail order painted lady butterflies. I've used this as a the cover art for a journal at Cafe Press (see the sidebar link). Posted by Picasa

A Little Bull

Here's a shot to give a truer perspective of the little snake's size. He/she was a little nervous originally, but calmed down almost immediately. Like a number of harmless snakes, they'll vibrate their tail when disturbed or threatened. Among some dry vegetation it can be a scary sound (if you're wary of rattlesnakes). For some good information about snakes in my area, check out the Colorado Herpetological Society.

As an aside, the Denver Zoo has a large bull snake they bring out for education and pets. They call him Ferdinand (check out the local kids' section in your library if you don't get it). This little bull was released into the wilds of my strawberry patch.

 Posted by Picasa

We found a visitor on our porch. A teeny tiny bullsnake hatchling. Soooooo cute! Generally I only see garter snakes around here. Really, my arm isn't that hairy; it's a macro shot! He does look enormous here so let's make this my entry for massive (if only in perspective). Posted by Picasa

I wasn't there for the actual emerging, but this is an interesting next in the series. This was much harder since the empty shells move at the slightest breeze. It's like an insect ghost town. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Really ... I'll look this up soon. For right now, I'm calling it, "Blue CA Flower." 'CA' is pronounced 'cah'. Posted by Picasa

Many mollusks were washed up with algae, barnacles, coraline algae attached to them. I'd like more practice with these subjects. Posted by Picasa

I know nothing about California flowers, but many were still blooming during my trip. I think my boys were most amazed by palm trees.

On a completely different subject, has anyone else read/heard the interview with Dave Barry? The interviewer noted, "You often describe yourself as making a living with booger jokes." To which Barry replied: I really haven't made that many real booger jokes in my life, but I've made thousands of jokes about making booger jokes. So I'm really kind of a meta-booger humorist, if you want. That had me on the floor. Posted by Picasa

A California cobweb spider feeding on its silk-wrapped pillbug. I took this while waiting for some wedding related activities and while my boys were playing a rousing game of tag with their Uncles Scott and Seth and Aunt Renee. California was filled with macro opportunities, only a few of which I was able to take advantage. Posted by Picasa