Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)

Cedar Waxwing (<em>Bombycilla cedrorum</em>)

Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)

It rained overnight but was mostly clear today and quite warm for mid-February. After a meeting that ran from 11:30 to just before noon, I walked a bit in the woods and upland area next to my office. First, I walked down into the woods above the drainage pond where a fair sized flock of cedar waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) were bouncing around in the underbrush. If I had a tripod and a longer lens I think I could get some pretty good photos in that area. As it is, this is good enough for identification purposes but it isn’t going to win any awards. Still, it was nice to be out with the birds in 60°F weather in the middle of winter.

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Heart Shaped Burger

 Heart Shaped Burger

Heart Shaped Burger

It’s Valentine’s Day today and you know what that means. Well, for us, it’s not something we spend a lot of effort on, in general. I bought us some new ice packs to celebrate and to sooth our aching selves. How’s that for romance? I made three heart shaped burgers for dinner this evening, along with fries and a chopped salad (which was put on the plate after this photo was taken. Margaret put cherry tomato halves on her burger and I added them to my salad. But this picture shows the heart shaped burger better then those taken after they were more fully condimentised (as it were). They turned out rather well, I thought.

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Grass

Grass

Grass

I took a few more pictures of snow drops (Galanthus nivalis) early this afternoon. They are nearly ready to open, probably in the next day or two if the weather remains to balmy. Nevertheless, I just posted a picture of snow drops and I try not to repeat too often or too quickly (except for baby pictures, those are always allowed). I’ll be back to them shortly, when they have well and truly begun to bloom. In the meantime, I went up into the upland portion of the 12 acre lot next to my office. This is filled to a large extent with ragweed and mugwort, as well as goldenrod, grass, and a few small trees. It was quite wet because of the 48 hours or so of rain that we recently got. The soles of my shoes are cracked and water seeped in, soaking my socks. But it was nice to be outdoors on such a beautiful day.

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Marmite

Marmite (500g and 125g)

Marmite (500g and 125g)

“Are you born a lover or a hater?” That’s the question the folks at https://www.marmite.co.uk/ (a.k.a. Unilever) are asking. It does seem true that people either love or hate Marmite. I’m a lover but I hate the fact that it’s hard to find around here. Some Giant stores carry it, as well as World Market and Rodmans, but generally you can only get it in the titchy 125 gram jars (on the right in the attached photo), which is maddening. Online shopping has been a thing for a while now and this is an item that’s worth the wait. I just bought two, 500g jars (on the left in the photo). That’s 2.2 pounds of the wonderful, aromatic, slightly salty, ambrosia. But is someone really going to spend £89.99 (roughly $125) for a DNA test kit to find out if they are predisposed to love or hate Marmite? Not when you can buy a little jar and simply try it. And when you discover you’re a lover, then you’ll happily order it by the kilo (for less than $30 in the USA and including shipping).

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Rainy, Foggy Morning

Rainy, Foggy Morning

Rainy, Foggy Morning

It started raining yesterday morning and it’s been raining fairly steadily since. The forecast has that continuing another 24 hours or so before it clears up. It is, however, unseasonably warm. It was cool this morning but later in the day, even with the rain, it was up around 60°F (16°C). The cool morning, however, meant some beautiful fog. I love a foggy morning (or day, night, or evening, for that matter). I especially love being in the woods when it’s foggy. This morning, as usual for a Sunday, I was at church setting up and running the sound system. Nevertheless, I took a short break while the musicians were practicing to walk around outside and take a few pictures.

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Kai

Kai

Kai

We had a family dinner night at mom’s and, as usual, Kai was the star of the show. Seeing him every few weeks (or less often) means that he’s always changed significantly since the last time. That’s getting to be less and less true, of course, but it’s still clear. He was slow to warm up to the crowd this evening but eventually he did. he enjoyed the steamed dumplings from Mama Wok’s in Rockville and also the orange wedges that his great grandma brought out. He wasn’t terribly clever about sticking to the juicy bits and wasn’t happy when he bit into the peel instead. That’s how you learn, though.

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Julia

Julia

Julia

This young woman, Julia by name, is a dear friend and all around wonderful gal. She came over yesterday and today to help us around the house. I didn’t get to see her yesterday or most of today (work, work, work) but she was here when I got home and she let us take her to dinner. Then and for a little while afterwards we got to chat and catch up on things. And she let me take a few pictures of her, so that’s what I’m posting for today. Thanks, Jules.

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Snow Drops (Galanthus nivalis)

Snow Drops (Galanthus nivalis)

Snow Drops (Galanthus nivalis)

After taking the picture of the sparrow (see previous post) I headed back toward my van to get the rest of my things and go into the office. As I walked along the edge of the woods, it occurred to me that the snow drops (Galanthus nivalis) would be coming up soon, if they have not started already. I looked and sure enough, they are well on their way to blooming. It isn’t spring yet, but it’s coming and I know there are a lot of folks who are ready for warmer weather. I love the early spring ephemerals and this is one of the earliest.

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White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis)

White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis)

White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis)

I had a dentist appointment this morning and that meant that I got to work a little later than normal. It was cool out but sunny and bright. As I Parked the car at work I saw a red-bellied woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) fly past and land on a tree across the parking lot. I got my camera out and walked towards it. I got one picture from a fairly large distance but for the most part it kept to the far side of the tree it was on and eventually it flew away. I spotted this white-throated sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) and managed to get quite a bit closer. It’s a cheerful little bird, and quite pretty with its yellow patch (and of course its white throat).

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Schefflera Leaves

Schefflera Leaves

Schefflera Leaves

This is one of our more successful houseplants and it’s one I can recommend to people who don’t have particularly green fingers. It’s not very needy and it’s happy in a wide range of conditions. It does best with a very bright, south or west facing window but it can survive with less. This is one of the houseplants that we put outside during the summer, making sure it isn’t in full sun during the hottest part of the day, which can be a bit too much for it. This one is in a pot with a small, purple leaved rubber plant (Ficus elastica).

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Little Bird Statues

Little Bird Statues

Little Bird Statues

Cathy has a roll-top desk that we got from some friends who where ready to get rid of it. Along the top of the roll-top, which is never closed, there is a little ledge where the top doesn’t go all the way into the carcass. She has a few little things sitting on that ledge including a line of dice of various sizes and side-counts. In the middle is this line of little bird statues. I don’t rightly know where she got them (I suppose I could have asked) but there they are. They are quite colorful—as you can see—and they stand about an inch tall. This green on is one of my favorites, along with the dark blue peacock colored bird in the center of the photo.

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Rockville Cemetery

Rockville Cemetery

Rockville Cemetery

I stopped briefly at Rockville Cemetery on the way home. It isn’t on my normal route home but it isn’t all that far out of my way, either. I had to run to the bank after work, so that put it more or less convenient. The sun was setting through the trees to the west and I got a few pictures of the grave stones lit by the nearly horizontal rays. Then I turned at the upper part of the cemetery and took this one looking into the sun. Actually, it’s an HDR photo, make from three images and then mostly desaturated to produce the nearly monochrome image.

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Echeveria Flowers

Echeveria Flowers

Echeveria Flowers

It snowed lightly this morning but by the time we were home from church it had all turned to rain. It was a fairly heavy rain and a fairly gloomy, cool day. Cathy and I decided we’d like to see a little green so we went to Behnke in Beltsville to spend a little time in their greenhouse looking at house plants. There were a few things we were interested in but didn’t actually buy anything this time. These little yellow flowers are on what I think is an Echeveria, although I didn’t actually check and often they are labeled simply “succulent”. It was a nice outing and a nice way to spend a cold, rainy Sunday afternoon.

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Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes)

Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes)

Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes)

I was up before sunrise this morning and wasn’t really looking outside until after Cathy got up. When she came down and went into the kitchen, she called me (quietly) and said there was a fox on our back patio. She had put some old sunflower seeds out on the ground, thinking they would be eaten by squirrels and birds, but the fox was happily eating them. After a while it moved away to the back of the yard and then curled up in the grass for a while. Unfortunately it did that in a spot mostly hidden by a tree. I didn’t want to go outside, as that would surely have scared it off. Eventually it got up and walked around a little before taking off for parts unknown. I suppose if we had a small dog I’d be more worried about seeing the fox, but as it is, it made us glad.

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Tree Tops

Tree Tops

Tree Tops

It’s been wintry again, which is alright by me, especially seeing as how it’s winter. Our winters are relatively mild compared to some but colder than others, which is sort of what living in a temperate climate is all about, I guess. I pretty much stayed in my office today, with a brief walk across campus and back for a meeting. Other than that I was focused on the task at hand. I took a short break in the early afternoon to take a few pictures but didn’t leave my office to do it. This is the top of a fairly large elm tree on the side of our parking lot. There are two of them that have managed to hold out against Dutch Elm Disease and this is the smaller of the two. They’re likely to go at some point but I’ll enjoy them until that day comes.

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A Few Science-Related Book

A Few Science-Related Book

A Few Science-Related Book

I took some pictures in the basement today. Not surprisingly, where there are lots of things to photograph, few of them are really all that interesting. Recently I’ve gotten a few new (used, thanks, Iris) bookcases and I’ve been able to get books that have been doubled up on shelves or that have been stacked on their sides into those shelves. They are not, for the most part, in any order. There are seven shelves of science fiction, which are alphabetized by author. Most of my Kipling collection (18 books) is on one shelf (there are a few large books that are on another shelf). I’ve started the process of bringing the technical reference books together. Here we have, from left to right:

  • My dad’s copy of Elenents of the Differential and Integral Calculus (Revised Edition) by Granville, Smith, and Longley
  • My grandfather’s copy of Handbook of Mathematical Tables and Formulas, by Burington
  • Two editions (the 9th and 31st) of the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics
  • Another Handbook of Chemistry (Eighth Edition), by Lange
  • The Merck Manual, (Fourteenth Edition)
  • Ribonucleases: Structures and Functions, Edited by D’ Alessio and Riordan. Dad wrote chapter two of this book, titled “Barnase and Barstar”
  • Methods in Enzymology, Volume 341, Ribonucleases, Part A, edited by Nicholson. Dad wrote chapter 38 in this book, on Barnase—Barstar Interaction
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Reflections

Reflections

Reflections

I went over to the Rio today to have a cup of coffee with a friend. It’s often good to have an excuse to get away from the office for a little while and doing it with a good friend is even better. We chatted about this and that and then headed back to our respective work. As I was going back, I noticed the reflections in the Sodexo building. I turned around and parked the car along Washingtonian Blvd and then walked down the side of the building. This is a reflection of the BroadSoft building (and a tree).

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Office Building Art

Office Building Art

Office Building Art

Cathy and I were in a local medical office building today and I, you’ll be surprised to learn, had my camera with me. I didn’t take pictures in the actual doctor’s office but in the lobby of the building was some art. The wall opposite the entrance was covered with these lined, glass panels, lit from behind. So, when it was time to leave, I took a few moments to get my camera out and take a few pictures. I don’t really have a lot to add. It is what it is. I wouldn’t call it high art, but decorative art seems appropriate. If nothing else it did add some color and interest to an otherwise nondescript office lobby.

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Black Walnut Husk

Black Walnut Husk

Black Walnut Husk

I walked around outside my building for a little while today, looking for something to photograph. I had a picture of a rusty chain last week and in the same area, on one of the picnic tables that are stored there, was this husk of an eastern black walnut (Juglans nigra) seed. They are quite popular with the squirrels. The birds basically leave them along because there aren’t any bird around here with the ability to get into the shells. With the gnawing ability common in rodents, however, squirrels have no trouble with these delicious (and relatively high calorie) nuts.

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Carpet Pattern

Carpet Pattern

Carpet Pattern

I was looking around for something to photograph today and took a few pictures of this carpet in Margaret’s room. It’s not a huge carpet but it’s certainly quite pretty. I love the colors and the fineness of the weave. We have a few carpets but that includes a few imitation Persians. When we got married, Karabet gave us some cash as a wedding present and we bought two relatively inexpensive carpets. They aren’t nearly as nice as this one, but then again, he gave us the gift out of his relatively modest means. We still have them and I still think of him when I consider them. That’s often where value lies (but I’m not saying it lies like a rug).

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