Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Almost Back

The grey pin on the map below is for "Dragon Way Farm".

Remember this Yard Critter post about horses? Well those horses were on Dragon Way Farm.

And the white triangle in the blue circle. That's our place. 

Not good.

⛈  ⚡️  ⛈  ⚡️  ⛈

July 6th. Not a good night.

It started out ok, with lots of lightning off in the distance. I like lightning. When it is off in the distance.

When it hits the power pole at the end of my driveway, not so much. 

Not good.

I woke up around midnight and noticed the clock was off. Not good.  I rolled over and went back to sleep. But it was just a matter of time. Until the alarms started going off. The alarm for the the sump pump, telling me the system was on the back up battery (an alarm that can't be turned off. WTF!! I know the power's out, there is nothing I can do. Grrr ...). The alarm for the alarm system, telling me the power is out. Thanks. At least this one can be turned off. As can the alarms on the UPS systems, telling me the batteries are drained.

Both UPS systems failed by the way. APC units. I won't be buying that brand anymore.

Not good.

⛈  ⚡️  ⛈  ⚡️  ⛈

When I took the screen shot shown above, it had an estimated power restore time of 10:00 am. 

Always take the over. Always.

Around 9:00 am a truck pulled up. A Comcast truck. They have a large box on the pole. It was not in good shape. "The transformer's blown", the Comcast guy said. Not good.

Then he hooked up a generator.

It was not enough.

⛈  ⚡️  ⛈  ⚡️  ⛈

A JCP&L truck came to a stop at the end of my driveway. A little before ten. Myself and my neighbor went to see what was going on. 

"Move back fellas", he called out from up in the bucket, "I'm gonna try to recharge this transformer. There could be a loud bang." We moved away. There was a loud bang. He tried again. There was a second loud bang. He came back down. "That's not good," he said, "the transformer's blown."

Not good.

It you took the over ...

⛈  ⚡️  ⛈  ⚡️  ⛈

... you won!

A 4:00 pm they arrived in force. Two bucket trucks. Three pickups.

They were quite efficient. One guy went up to remove the blown transformer, seen here in the truck driving away.

And the other bucket operator was bobbing and weaving amongst the trees and wires to winch up the new transformer.

They were done by 5:00.

My fun was just starting.

Not good.

⛈  ⚡️  ⛈  ⚡️  ⛈

The good news, we had power.

The bad ...

... the alarm for the sump pump would continue until the battery was recharged ... through the night.

... my cable modem, on a UPS and surge suppressor unit, was non-operational.

... my Mac mini, on a different UPS and surge suppressor unit, on a different circuit, was non-operational.

... Both were APC units ...

... but, most everything else plugged into these units, and other surge suppressors, survived.

...  I lost a hard drive enclosure, but the four drives inside seem to be ok. But I wouldn't learn that until I got my Mac mini back.

... and one of the APC units was now showing that the battery had failed. And the battery isn't user replaceable. Not that I'd want to. That alarm ended when I unplugged it.

⛈  ⚡️  ⛈  ⚡️  ⛈

I ordered a new modem and router, Comcast told me my old one was obsolete anyway.

The Mac went to the Apple store ... and three weeks later came home.

In the mean time ... July 21. Around 2:30 PM. 

Not good.

💥 ⚡️ BAM! ⚡️💥

Power is out. Thunder outside and inside.

A GFI outlet blown. As was my brand new router. I actually heard a loud bang in my office, over by the router.

Not good.

The power was restored that day, although if you took the over you're on a winning streak.

⛈  ⚡️  ⛈  ⚡️  ⛈

The Mac mini arrived home last Friday. The offsite backup drive had arrived the day before (Backblaze, check them out).

The new (non-APC) UPS unit is up and running as are the new modem and new new router (Comcast was right, they are better than the old modem). Update: the new UPS unit is failing with a charger fault. Not good. 

Today my new surge suppressor arrived.

Tomorrow my new drive enclosure arrives.  (Two stand alone hard drives are acting flakey, and will need to be replaced, but they are redundant drives, with on and off site backups, so I'm not too worried. Still - not good.)

And then I'll be 100%-ish back.

And that is a good thing.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Mothing at Bull's

After we got home from our Beach Babe adventure our friend Marty stopped by and we had a traditional Fourth of July hotdog lunch with potato salad and of course beer. After eating Patty and Marty went off to find a Dickcissel (they found it!). 

And I took a nap. It would not be enough ...

Because we went to our friend Bull's place to moth. And mothing occurs after dark. And Civil Twilight is 9:02, Nautical Twilight 9:43, and Astronomical Twilight 10:30 pm.  

So while I got some mothing in that evening, I also got some sleeping in.

But while I was awake ...

We had at least three of these Imperial Moths, along with at least five Io Moths (which I did not get any pictures of, sorry).

We think this is a Spiny Oakworm Moth. 

And this, perhaps an Ilia Underwing moth.

It wasn't just moths ...

This is a Four-spotted Owlfly. Note the split eye. A dragonfly like insect with butterfly antennas. 

This is a Loghorn Beetle, specifically a Spined Oak Borer Beetle. I like the googly-eyes. 

But the star of the show was this Oak Treehopper. Clearly an alien species. Very cool looking for sure. 

I wonder what else I’d have seen had I stayed awake?

Monday, July 5, 2021

Beach Babes

On July 4th we did what many people do in these here parts, we visited the Jersey Shore. 

But of course we didn't go for the sun, nor the sand, nor the ocean.

We went for the beach babes. And we were not disappointed.

I''m not sure who suggested it, either Patty or our friend Susan, but the plan was to meet at our place a 6 am, and head on up to Point Pleasant beach.

That is way too early to wake on a holiday weekend. But we weren't the earliest. There were three folks from the other side of Philadelphia who left their place a 4:30 am. I hope they got good shots.

The tern colony, these are Least Tern chicks, is a fenced off area immediately adjacent to the inlet.

There were Common Terns and Black Skimmers as well, but they did not have chicks.

The chicks were left alone, and quite well camouflaged, while the parents went to get fish for them to eat.

There are two chicks in the above image. This was an easy one. It was not always obvious that the sand lumps were birds.

Not every adult bird was off fishing, and they defended the colony from predators. Several Crows were chased off by angry terns.

The chicks also sought shelter, and shade, from the sparse vegetation. As we were leaving several folks from the NJ Conserve Wildlife Foundation were bringing larger plants to install in the colony area. They didn't have many, three maybe, and the area was rather large, so I'm a bit skeptical as to how much  of a difference they'll make.

We were there for about an hour when the beach tag patrol drove up.

It was 8 am, opening time, and it was $12 each for a beach tag. The four of use, as well as the photographers, all decided to leave.

We then drove to a local lake to look for some whistling ducks that had been reported a couple of days prior. They have moved on. 

We did the same, and headed home, with a slight detour to a local spot for Red-headed Woodpeckers. These were still there and we saw two.

And by 10:30 we were home and relaxing with a cup of coffee. 

A very nice way to start the holiday.

Yard Critter

Saturday we went Blueberry Picking at our friend's Roni and Paul's farm, with a bunch of other friends, after which we returned to our place for food and drinks and murder on the deck.

We were trying to solve a murder, a fictitious murder, for which we get a box a month for six months with clues and such. So far we are dong pretty good. One more box to go on this one.

And while out on the deck I looked down and saw this:

A rather colorful beetle.

These beetles lay their eggs under the back or dead trees, and the larva are borers. These beetles are not rare, but are rarely seen. Odd for such a striking critter.

A cool visitor, and one I'm glad joined our gathering.

🪲  🪲  🪲  🪲  🪲

You can find all of the Yard Critter posts listed here.

Cheeky Bastards ...

Damn thing is sticking its tongue out at me!

These two were in the parking area! In broad daylight! While we were home!

There are some weird reflections in this image, even after I cleaned it up in Photoshop.

And I so need to figure out how to get rid of the grass growing in the parking area.

I had to go out to chase them off.

I so need to finish the rest of the deer fence.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

More Phoebes

I took the image of the two eggs in the nest on June 11th. Which the day we left for Washington.

I took this image June 28th, the day after we returned.

Three chicks and one egg.

And then this one the next day.

Four chicks. The same number which fledged from this nest

As this nest is above one of my office windows, I've been watching the parents come and go with all day (one just flew by).

Very cool.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021


In August 2017 we went to the Pacific Northwest see this. We spent a couple of weeks out there, traveling about Oregon (where we saw the eclipse) and Washington. And one of the places we went in Washington was the Mt St Helens Volcanic National Monument.

While there we did a bit of hiking. And I took some pictures.

And we visited the Johnston Ridge Observatory.

Where we could look into the crater of the volcano. The still active volcano.

And while at the observatory we noticed a docent with a spotting scope, and we took a look.

And while looking Patty said, "are those people up there?" To which the docent replied, "yes".

And thus an idea was born.