Monday, July 6, 2009

Birds, Butterflies, and Books

American Goldfinches
Stepped out onto my front porch yesterday and saw four gorgeous little yellow birds, two a bright, bright yellow, clinging to my Pincushion Flowers (Scabiosa) and delighting themselves with the seeds. American Goldfinches! Two males, two females. As I've been relandscaping, I've been trying to use a lot of bird- and butterfly-friendly plants -- how cool that it works!

Also, about a week ago, saw a beautiful little butterfly on my bed of native yarrow. The undersides/outsides of its wings were slate gray; the topsides/insides were an intense lilac blue. When it fluttered about, it looked like a flower in flight.

Am sick as a dog: Doug went to Origins in Columbus, Ohio, to sell games and brought back a virus with him. He's been sick, too. Bleh. That's really a pain because . . .

I'm currently working on six books with another arriving Monday and more in the pipeline after that. Not a good time to be sick! Just finished editing a book with a lot of organic chemistry in it. I don't know the first thing about organic chemistry, so it was very challenging, but I think that with the help of Google, I ended up doing a good job.

Sarah Palin is an utter flake. Here's just one of the analyses with which I agree; this one is by Ruth Marcus.

When not working, have been enjoying Wimbledon. Amazing women's semifinal between Serena Williams and Elena Dementieva. Amazing quarterfinal and semifinal between Andy Roddick and a resurgent Lleyton Hewitt and co-favorite Andy Roddick, respectively, and then yet another classic Wimbledon final, this time between Andy Roddick and Roger Federer. Being sick, I dozed off early in the fourth set. Woke up quite a while later, saw the score line, and went WTF!?!? and was wide awake. Federer finally won 16–14 in the fifth set. This is his 15th Grand Slam title, and he's now one of a handful of men who have won the French Open (on clay) and Wimbledon (a few weeks later on grass) in the same year.

Funny dog stuff: AJ is perfectly capable of pushing through the swinging kitchen door. She does it from the kitchen side all the time, and she'll do it from the dining room side if I'm standing right there with her. Nonetheless, when Doug is making a snack and she wants to follow him (or rather his food), she never fails to charge into my office, make it very clear that I am to follow her, and lead me to the door, which she makes very clear I am to open for her. Sometimes even when the door is propped wide open, she insists I escort her through it. Funny!

Fun:

  • You must view this slideshow at the public radio show Speaking of Faith Web site. A male polar bear encounters chained huskies in northern Canada. The animals proceed to play with each other. The bear came back every day for a week to play with the dogs. Other researchers have observed the same behavior between grizzly bears and wolves in the wild.
  • There is a World Worm Charming Championships. It is held each year in Willaston, Cheshire, England. The record now stands at 567 worms. Something to aspire to?
  • Therapy chickens! Like therapy dogs, but poultry. This brief article will make you say, "Awwww."
  • "Male hummingbirds, swooping in an effort to impress females, achieve speeds 'faster than fighter jets,' [as measured in body lengths] according to a study." Photo below by C. Clark.

    Hummingbird Dive

  • Stickleback fish have been determined to use a "hill-climbing" learning strategy. Individual fish learn to find food faster from the failures and successes of their peers. Geez, I could have told them fish do this.

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