Thursday, February 28, 2019

Golf Geese

Speaking of Canada Geese, I give you the view out the window at my parent's place the one recent morning.

Residents of the community are encouraged to walk on the golf course, especially with their dogs. The hope being it will chase the geese away.

And from my desk I see them do so throughout the day.

Based on my time here they need a new plan.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Lawns, Golf Courses, Parking Lots ...

... and now Roofs?

Often seen here wandering about the parking lot, and floating on the pond between the buildings, there was a flock of Canada Geese honking away from the top of my office building when I arrived at work Friday morning.

Highly unusual.

Most had retreated from the edge before I got my camera out. But these two stayed, honking away.

One guy walking in from his car hypothesized that snow from earlier in the week had melted, resulting in a pond on the roof. Not good as my office is on the third floor, along with our server room. And as can Patty can confirm, computers and water don't mix.

However, there was no water dripping anywhere in the office. But I did hear geese honking above me throughout the morning.

They seemed to be gone by lunchtime. Perhaps the roof pond evaporated?

Saturday, February 23, 2019


Sure looks ominous ...

Looks to me like an evil imp running along leaving fire in it's wake.

🌲  🔥  🌲  🔥  🌲

The fire was in the Greenwood Forest WMA, and I took this shot on February 19, 2017 from Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, approximately twenty miles away (and coincidently the fire was about the same distance form my home). Fire is a natural part of the ecology of the NJ Pine Barrens, yet it conjures dread, with good reason, in those who live nearby. Fortunately, in large part due to good management practices which include prescribed burns, we've not experienced the type of disaster where fires have ravaged large areas in California and Oregon.

🔥  🍺  🔥  🍺  🔥

Speaking of fires in California, Sierra Nevada Brewing company has introduced Resilience Butte County Proud IPA all the proceeds of which go to the relief efforts for the Camp Fire of 2018.

From the Sierra Nevada site linked above:

"We sent out the "bat signal" calling our friends in the industry, asking our suppliers to donate ingredients, asking other breweries (our competitors) to donate their time and labor costs, and asking our wholesalers and retailers to carry the beer for free. It was a big ask, and we never could have anticipated the response.

More that 1.400 breweries signed up to brew Resilience. Our suppliers donated ingredients to every brewery nationwide. Wholesalers and retailers agreed to carry the beer and donate every dollar they received. All of them agreed to do this for free to benefit people they had never met."

So if you like beer, or know someone who likes beer, pick up a six pack or two. You'll be happy you did.

I am.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Tag # 390700 ...

... adorns a specific Horseshoe Crab that calls the Delaware Bay home.

Or at least it did back in May 2017 when I saw it wandering about on the beach in the Fortescue WMA.

I wrote about it, and the other Horseshoe Crabs we saw, in this post.

💾  🖥  💾  🖥  💾

So, why, almost two years after the fact, am I writing about this? Well, it has to do with my computer. I'm getting ready to upgrade to the latest version of the operating system, macOS Mojave. And one of the first things I do before any such upgrade is a full backup of my system disk. After which I make sure I can boot up from this backup. Well I made the back up to the same disk drive I've been using for this purpose for several years. But when I attempted to boot from this drive my system would not start up at all. It took me the better part of the next day to get things back to normal. Seems the drive had died sometime between when the backup was complete and when I tried to use it.

And as part of the clean up I found this:

The certificate I received for reporting the tag, although it is not very exciting that a I found a crab that was tagged that month, and maybe even that very morning.

Still, it did remind me of warmer days ...

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Yard Critter of the Week - Snowberry Clearwing Caterpillar

Snowberry Clearwing.

This caterpillar was sauntering across our deck one fine September day last year.

Quite interesting with the gold spots adorning its neck. And that spike at the tail. And a lovely green color. A real looker.

I'm not sure what it was searching for on the deck. These caterpillars dig into leaf litter to find a secure place to form their cocoons and spend the winter. And there was very little leaf litter on the deck.

But it made for easy photography. Which was rather important for me at that time.

And in springtime it emerges as a 'hummingbird moth' with, as you might have guessed, clear wings.

This particular individual visited our gardens in July 2017. These moths fly during the day acting like hummingbirds. Hovering about and nectaring on flowers. Fun to watch as they make their rounds about the garden feeding (and rather difficult to photograph, not sitting still for any appreciable length of time).

🐛  🐈  🐛  🐈  🐛

It was Max that alerted me to the presence of the caterpillar. Max was on his leash on the deck, and I noticed he was very interested and at the same time wary of something there.

I helped the caterpillar to some leaf litter in the garden.

No cats, caterpillars, nor humans were harmed in the creation of this blog post.

🐛  🦋  🐛  🦋  🐛

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

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Opera Glasses

In the Twin Lights post I mentioned that an antique set of binoculars caught my eye.

Today, another set caught my eye. These were much more accessible as they were in my Mom's china cabinet.

They belonged to my Mom's Mom's Mom, or my Great Grandmother.

Here's the note from my Grandmother that was with them:

So they are at least 106 years old and no doubt older.

Old and new.

🏡  🏥  🏡  🏥  🏡

The reason I'm at my parent's place and looking at Mom's knickknacks, is because dad is home.

Here he is in his recliner in his 'man cave', texting. He still has a ways to go to regain full strength. But he's come a long way since New Year's Eve.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Weekend Wanderings ... Twin Lights

The first lighthouse at the site of the current Twin Lights was built in 1828.

The current massive building was erected in 1862.

The two lights made it easy to identify from quite a distance.

High over Sandy Hook Bay and the channel into New York Harbor, the lights guided the many ships coming into port. That's Highlands, NJ, in the foreground, then Sandy Hook, and New York City in the distance in this view from the North Tower.

The same characteristics that make Rocky Point a prime location for the big guns made this location suitable for a lighthouse. To give an idea of just how close Rocky Point and Twin Lights are to each other, the above image shows the lower (closer) and upper (farther) fields used for gym class by the students of Henry Hudson Regional High School (yours truly included). The guns and the lights are separated by the high school, which came well after each.

Above we are looking at the electric generating house, built to power the lights in 1898. Today it houses the giant Fresnel Lens and several other exhibits.

This lens made the South Tower one of the brightest navigational lights ever used in the United States. Directly visible 22 miles at sea, and when conditions were right, in the sky 70 miles out.

The design of the lens takes advantage of the wave nature of light to increase brightness.

Augustin-Jean Fresnel was a French physicist who championed the wave theory of light, in opposition to Newton's corpuscular theory. Nowadays we have the quantum theory of light, which says that light is both a particle (corpuscle) and a wave. At the time, Fresnel was able to explain phenomena that Newton could not, leading to an adoption of the wave theory of light. It wasn't until the twentieth century that both were found to be 'right'.

The "Bend it like Fresnel" poster is in a small museum that now occupies what was once the living quarters and offices of the light house keeper.  Two other items that caught my attention were the binoculars above and the ferry ticket below.

The ferry ride today is 4000% higher.

The lights were decommissioned in 1949, as new technologies made navigation easier. Today, the North Tower has an aircraft light and the South Tower had what looked like Christmas lights in the shape of a tree (but they did not appear to be on while I was visiting).

Twin Lights is 4.1 miles from the house I grew up in. And immediately adjacent to my high school. This was my first visit.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Weekend Wanderings ... Hartshorne Woods

Hartshorne Woods is but 2.5 miles from the house where I grew up. Yet this is only my second visit.

As can be inferred from the sign, I started at the Buttermilk Valley section, one of four, as seen in this trail map. I would saunter through three of the four, Buttermilk Valley, Monmouth Hills, and Rocky Point.

It was cold when I started, in the twenties Fahrenheit. I had not expected it to be so cold. And I was not alone. At one point a pair of runners passed me on the trail, with one complaining to his companion that it was like running in a freezer. I survived. (But my phone, an iPhone 6S+, did not fare so well, the charge dropping from 60% to under 20% in seconds. I put it in an inside pocket and it quickly recovered. A known problem with batteries I'm afraid.)

Wildlife was scarce. White-tailed Deer tracks, two Eastern Gray Squirrels, and four species of birds (Red-bellied Woodpecker, American Crow, White-breasted Nuthatch, and Tufted Titmouse) was the full morning's tally.

The other thing I saw on the ground was a steady stream of M&M's. A sloppy eater? A trail to follow home? A leaky bag?

The trail slowly gained in elevation, approximately a 250 foot gain in all, over 1.6 miles.

The trail I took, the Cuesta Trail, was labeled as moderate. I'd rate it as easy. Wide, trivial to follow, and as I said, a slow elevation gain with some ups and downs.

At the top end of the trail was the Rocky Point section, which was once home to a military installation. In fact, when I started high school it was still a Nike base and command center for missiles there and nearby on Sandy Hook. (I went to Henry Hudson Regional High School, and if you look on the right edge of the trail map linked above, you'll see the school just outside the park. Rocky Point was strictly off limits back then.) It was decommissioned while I was still in school, but not turned over to the Monmouth County Park System until 1984 (I graduated high school in '78).

The remnants of the Nike Base have all been removed. But the World War II gun battery is still there. Battery Lewis, the interior hallway of which is shown above. Unfortunately it was closed and this is a shot through the gate.

Two 16 inch guns, each weighing 150 tons, were installed to defend NY Harbor.

The guns were never fired in combat and in 1949 were cut up and disposed of as scrap metal. The gun barrel shown here came form the battleship USS New Jersey and is now on permanent exhibit. This is not a odd as it might seem, as the original guns were built for warships as well.

You can read more about the military use of Rocky Point here.

On the way back down I passed remnants of former land uses.

There were many of these old fence posts all along the trails.

There were several "rogue trails". I did not go rogue.

There was a stark beauty to the woods. But the complete lack of understory was concerning. Damn deer.

And along the way there were shadows ...

... and light that made for nice photos.

And just added to the beauty of it all.

Sunday, February 17, 2019


Clouds of ice crystals acting like little prisms generate a halo around the moon.

Too subtle for my phone camera and too large to be captured by my digicam. But you use what you have.

A bit later the clouds became thicker and fragmented and more colorful, while the halo became less sharp and distinct. My best guess is that the colors are light pollution. I was in a very populous area and it is a sad commentary just how much energy is wasted lighting up the sky. The lines are contrails, as this is a very busy flyway, with both Newark and JFK airports just north of here.

As cool as it would be if this was a fireball with halo, it is photographer error. Usually, I try not to move the camera while the shutter is open. It does make for a cool shot though.