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Friday, December 29, 2006

Playing with my Childrens' Toys

We're trapped again under snow. I made a preparatory grocery run as the first five or so inches of new snow fell. Our store was almost out of paper towel, cod, kitty litter and Diet Coke (the regular kind, not Zero or Lime or Splenda). I was lucky to find the secret end cap of Diet Coke. This could have been a bad few days.

As it is, we're "stuck" in our house with all our new toys. O woe are we!

In Albuquerque, at the Explora, I found a plasma night light about the size of a standard lightbulb and gave it to the boys for Newton's Day (Isaac Newton was born December 25th. It also flows better than the phrase "Atheist Families Get Presents Day"). Last night, I asked to borrow it for pictures; in the morning, the boys didn't recognize it as their bulb. That's one of the fun things about macros, it's a puzzle or at least a way of turning the visual environment into something surprizing.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Red Glow

Another jellyfish tank in the same darkened room. The tank had a red light focused on it. Checking out the stats, this was at 1/40s and 4.5/f with my Canon Rebel XT. Another one that happily surprised me. Posted by Picasa

LED Laced Jelly

I'm amazed this came out. It's a tiny inch high jellyfish with, what looks like, multi-colored LEDs running along the seams. I took it through the glass and without much in the way of preparation or forethought.

We saw it in the aquarium in Albuquerque. I could watch jellyfish for hours -- as long as they or I am behind glass. Posted by Picasa

Rowan's New Hobby

Rowan asked how to make a card house. He managed to make a variety of houses and repetitions of this pattern, three at once before he decided to move onto other things. I was impressed. Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 30, 2006

Heart of the Bell Pepper

I think it looks like some sort of Roger Dean album cover for Yes... I just dated myself, didn't I? Posted by Picasa

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Friday, October 20, 2006


This wolf spider seems kinda small for this nest. Maybe he took over the place after another spider left. Maybe he's just got some sort of inferiority complex for which he'd like to compensate.

I still felt like uber-nature babe for finally getting a picture of an in-view wolf spider next to a burrow. Generally they hide too fast and are too shy for me to get the shot -- at least in the time it takes for my kids to lose their patience and drag me away. Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 09, 2006

Crab Spider Tarsi Hook

I was watching this spider when I scared it and it dropped with a dragline trailing behind it. At the point this picture was taken the spider was preparing to climb back up to its flower and wait again for prey (before it was so rudely interrupted). I'm usually more interested in watching the side of the creature where the eyes are, but in this case, I really liked how I could clearly see the hooks grab a hold of the silk.

On another note, I just watched "The Root of All Evil?" a program by Richard Dawkins on religion. It was fantastic. Here's Part 1 and Part 2 on YouTube, if anyone else is interested. I sought it out after his interview on Science Friday Talk of the NationPosted by Picasa

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Late Blue

These are probably the last Chinese Forget-Me-Nots before the traditional Halloween snowfall. I planted them this spring and they started blooming right before we left for China. Posted by Picasa

Barking Moth

In this case Barking is defined as the verb "to appear as the bark on a tree." It also made me think of Klingons; sort of the lepidopteran version of a knobbily forehead. Posted by Picasa

Thinking of Orange

I was wandering in my backyard (the plants were horribly neglected this year) and found among the weeds a huge orange marigold and thought of Orange Fronkey. This one's for you! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Wolf Spider


This is a larger wolf spider in its burrow. These spiders are very shy and hide if they sense large motion around the burrow. I spotted the motion of the retreat into its burrow. To get the picture I had to wait a number of minutes before it even came out this far. I used my zoom lens to get this.

The hole was about an inch in diameter. I found a molted skin by the hole as well as the empty husks of yellow jackets. Desperately hungry yellow jackets carelessly searching for a meal anywhere are an easy meal for an ambush predator.

I found out how to tell the difference between a tarantula hole and a wolf spider burrow in one of my new books, A Field Guide to Desert Holes by Pinau Merlin. The wolf spider burrow has a "collar" of silk woven twigs and grass around the hole. It's theorized that this might be for flood control. The burrow can spiral twelve inches into the soil. A tarantula hole can be a half an inch larger in diameter, it's length is "J" shape, has no collar, and is often sealed with silk during the day.

I think I'll revisit this hole in the early evening with a ruler, some crickets and a flashlight. ;) Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 01, 2006


Check out those antennae -- he's checking out the ladies. Actually, this was prolly the only beetle on the bush not engaged in sex. I bet he got some a few seconds later. It was a very friendly day in beetle town. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Dreamy Orange Flower

Fall is come and chilly air is settling in. I've had a cold the past few days and I've been grumpy about it. I hate being sick. I should take a cue from Jazz. She has the same thing and doesn't seem to notice it. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Colorado Greenthread

My best guess on this flower is the Colorado Greenthread Thelesperma megapotamicumPosted by Picasa

Offering to the Ants

Rowan didn't want the ants to go hungry; the ant attacked the invading grass seeds.

Something was definitely going on here, I think a new queen and suitors were ready to make a journey. Darker, smaller, winged ants were at the center of the hole, surrounded by the brighter yellow, larger workers. Posted by Picasa

Water Strider

Walking on water. Posted by Picasa

Purple Flower

The purple flower caught my eye. Posted by Picasa

Bug Sex

Early autumn beetle sex. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Yellow Line

I took the boys on another forced march. Li Mei managed to fall asleep right before we headed out, so she stayed home with daddy.

The boys wanted to hang out in the house and play with all of Kai's new birthday toys. I thought they'd been cooped up in the house too much already. The first mile was plagued with a resentful mood, but we got past that and had a nice 2+ miles after that. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, September 10, 2006


Checking out my wildflower guide, I believe these are Linaria vulgaris of the Figwort family and also known as Toadflax. These were alongside the Inner Canyon/Lake Gulch Loop path in Castlewood Canyon State Park. Posted by Picasa

Baby Toad

This baby toad is resting after being held by my boys and four girls hiking ahead of us at Castlewood Dam State Park. There were a number of little toads swimming in the creek (in the mistaken belief that was an escape route). All the kids had their shoes off in a heartbeat and soon were excitedly and lovingly holding unwilling toads. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


We decided to go to the zoo today before we found out about Steve Irwin's death. More people than usual were visiting the Denver Zoo's crocodile.

I only watched Steve's shows occassionally, but I thought he was funny, crazy, a little dippy and enthusiastically vivacious. He was probably one of the first people I'd seen express such excitement for all the generally unpopular animals that I like so much.

Sad. Posted by Picasa

Monday, September 04, 2006

Fake Bumble

It's a fly, but when you're just passing without paying much attention, you'd swear it was a bumble bee. This fly is huge by the way. It was about as long and big as the tip of my thumb to the first knuckle. Posted by Picasa