blurp | Science, Art, Life

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Vulture Antandre

Image Source

Turkey vultures have recently taken to perching on downtown St. Paul buildings, according to a reliable park ranger friend of mine.

This amusingly coincides with the first round of republicans arriving for next month's National Convention. Are the vultures expressing some kind of kinship? Are dead bodies being left on the roofs? ...

While vultures are a common site along the Mississippi River in Minneapolis and St. Paul, this is the first I've heard of them perching in groups on buildings downtown. Bizarre coincidence?

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

What Bush and I have in common:

Four year terms of federal service from 2004 - 2008.
He was elected for a 4-year term and I was hired for a 4-year term in 2004.

I wonder how my time working for the National Park Service would have been different if Kerry had won the election.

The National Park Service was/is going through a crisis in staffing. The agency doesn't have enough permanently dedicated funds to hire enough permanent people so parks are forced hire people for finite chunks of time. They are generally four-year term positions, which can't be renewed (sometimes they are extended for a year or two). Most of the time, parks are able to scrap together enough money every four years to hire another term, but they can't just keep the same person who was doing the job. They have to go though the convoluted federal hiring process all over again which doesn't guaranty the qualified incumbent anything. So the person who has dedicated four years of their life to the Park Service often gets kicked out on their butt and a newbie revolves in. Most of these dumped NPS employees are so dedicated they just get up, dust themselves off, and reincarnate into another term position hoping to ultimately land in the nirvana of the permanent position. Its no way to treat good employees.

In my case, the park wasn't able to scrape together the cash for another four years. (Which is OK for me personally because I have decided to pursue other career goals, but it sucks for the park because they are loosing a person.)

Would Kerry have better funded the NPS? Would he have prioritized energy and environmental issues? Avoided war and used federal money in other places? Its kinda funny to think about this, like another dimension life I could have led.

On a totally unrelated note I got stung by a bee today for the first time ever! I learned I'm not allergic; which is good, because my dad is allergic and I have always wondered if I inherited that or not.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Dog Vomit Slime Mold

I came back from a weekend at a friend's cabin to discover an awesome glob of Fuligo Septica, AKA vomit slime mold, in my rain garden. Just in time for the rain garden tour this coming weekend!

Oddly, this is the second surprise to pop up in my garden this weekend. Someone left a beautiful ceramic statue in my garden on Friday morning while I was walking my pooch. I checked with most of the likely suspects and have yet to find the perpetrator. Weird, huh? Thanks to the mystery giver!

I've been wanting to see a real-live slime mold ever since I read about them in the Minnesota Conservation Volunteer. BTW - this great magazine is free to all Minnesota residents. Subscribe Here.

I'll post some photos this week hopefully. Things have been a little crazy - but I resigned totally from my job last week - so I should have more time soon. Yippie!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Best Place to Watch Fireworks in Minneapolis

Lake Calhoun in a canoe.

For the couple dozen Minneapolis residents who read this blog you now know my secret.

This year was great! We put in the water at about 7:30 and paddled all around the chain of lakes. (The same route we did last spring.) But in the end we paddled south into Lake Calhoun and watched fireworks.

We saw a bunch of wood ducks around the islands, and a loon on Cedar Lake (I saw a loon on Lake Nokomas last week too, the Twin Cities seem too far south for loons normally - does anyone know better?), and at twilight on our way to Lake Calhoun we passed by the islands again and saw our old friend the Black Capped Night Heron fly from his roost to the bank for breakfast.

When we got to Lake Harriet, it was pitch black with only a sliver of a moon. The water was smooth flat obsidian and at about 10:00 pm fireworks started on all sides of us and were reflected in the water. There were a about a half dozen other canoes around us but it was very peaceful and sort of otherworldly.