Tag Archives: SCIENCE

Our Mystery Bird

A week or so ago a new feathered creature showed up at our suet feeders. My wife first noticed it by its song, one we had not heard before. Finally, she tracked it down and we identified it at the feeder. Our conclusion was that it was a red-headed house finch but we’ve since decided that may not be correct.

We didn’t have a good photo of the bird so on two occasions this week I sat on the deck with my best lens and found a very different creature than what we first thought was paying us a visit. This one has far more colors and is truly a bird we’ve never seen before. After lots of digging in our library of bird books, the closest thing we can find is labeled an immature summer tanager, which is a migratory species and more commonly found in South Florida and the tropics.

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Hey, It’s That Time Again, Time For a Breeding Ball

My granddaughter posed the emerging garter snake video on her Facebook page. I don’t know when or where it was filmed but it reminded me of something I and my students observed in the spring at the South Salem Cemetery. The emergence of hundreds of Gartner snakes from hibernation and the formation of a breeding ball. The smaller males surround a single, larger, female, each trying

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Katherine Johnson, NASA Mathematician, Dead at 101

The following is from the Associated Press, February 24, 2020, by BEN FINLEY

“Katherine Johnson, a mathematician who calculated rocket trajectories and earth orbits for NASA’s early space missions and was later portrayed in the 2016 hit film “Hidden Figures,” about pioneering black female aerospace workers, has died. She was 101.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said on Twitter that she died Monday morning. No cause was given.

Bridenstine tweeted that the NASA family “will never forget Katherine Johnson’s courage and the milestones we could not have reached without her. Her story and her grace continue to inspire the world.”

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Smart Alec Damned Know it All Teachers!

I was listening to NPR recently and in the discussion, it was mentioned that much of Trump’s support comes from people who distrust learned people. People who are educated and have some degree of expertise in a field of knowledge. Even people who are not formally educated but who have taken the time to acquire a significant body of information from either reading or experience have experienced this rejection.

I have no problem agreeing with this assertion. Many times I’ve seen people who can’t get beyond their own “gut” feelings or unfounded assumptions and become defensive when they are challenged. Trump himself has exhibited such behavior. We’ve all heard him say that such and such is correct because he just knows it is, his gut tells him it is.

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Happy Birthday to the WWW

It was in March of 1989 that some in the world became aware of what is now a part of most people’s world, the World Wide Web. The joining together of millions of computers all over the world to facilitate the exchange of information. Its effects have been enormous ranging from vast social changes to revolutions in how we learn, how we spend our free time, how medicine is practiced,  how business is conducted, and so very much more. Just think, thirty-years ago there wasn’t an app for anything! Today, in this era of omnipresent smartphones, there is hardly a person who doesn’t have the WWW at the swipe or tap of a finger or two.

It’s a New World That’s Coming

By the spring of 1969 I had two more classes to take to fulfill my requirements. I needed to take public speaking and a literature elective. Public speaking was required of all students seeking a career in teaching. I was so fearful of it I put it off till the very end. Turned out I feared for not, I loved it.

The literature class I decided on was Science Fiction Literature. Both classes were summer classes and I quickly learned that Catholic nuns went to school in the summer and they were serious about getting all the As. The other lesson was that literature teachers who are serious fans of Sci-Fi also take summer classes.

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Man Once Walked on the Moon

On this day, July 20, 1969, an age-old dream of mankind became a reality, a guy named Armstrong put his foot on the surface of the moon.

This is one of those occurrences where most people can tell you where they were when it happened. I was a student at Cal-State Fullerton and living in Whittier, CA. I was scheduled to work during the landing so I took a small black and white portable TV to work. Like so many I was awe-struck by what unfolded on that 12″ screen.

Shortly afterwards David Gray appeared at my door and handed me a $100 bill. Because of something his minister had read in the Scriptures he had given me 100-1 odds that a moon landing would never happen.

Where were you on that July, 1969 day?

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Blessed are the Mapmakers

If anyone had watched me in elementary school they may have predicted I’d grow up to become a social studies teacher. As far back as I can remember I loved maps and geography. I loved looking at maps and wondering what life in various parts of the world would be like. All these years later I recall reading stories about a Navajo child in the desert Southwest making ice cream from ice that fell from the sky as hail. Or, a child living in the jungles of the Malaysian Peninsula and tended to his family’s elephants.

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The West and Water

I grew up in Southern Ohio, I spent some summers in South Carolina, and during my time in the Navy I was stationed along the East Coast colorado green river mapof the United States, mainly in Rhode Island. Common to all was an abundance of water Turning on one’s water faucet and having cool clear H2O flow forth isn’t much of a concern.

In 1964 I packed up my 1960  Chevrolet  Biscayne and headed for California. Someplace in Oklahoma water became an issue and the green fields and forest of the East turned into parched, treeless, grasslands.

West of Flagstaff, AZ I stopped for gas and was advised to buy a burlap water bag to hang on the hood ornament in case I had trouble crossing the desert. In Needles. CA I was, for the first time in my life, asked to pay for a drink of water. I filled the gas tank and walked into the adjoining restaurant and asked for a glass of water. The waitress sat it down and said, “Ten cents please.” With a shocked look on my face I asked why and was told they had no wells and all water had to be hauled in by tanker truck.

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