Tonight after dinner, Va wanted to mop the floors. That means Penny has to be evacuated from the house for about 90 minutes while she does that (allowing time for the floor to dry). So I took her and the camera down to Sandogardy. I also brought my big tripod.

I was just down there Saturday, so I wasn’t expecting anything new. I set up and took several shots of some Spotted Water Hemlock (Cicuta Maculata).

Spotted Water Hemlock (Cicuta maculata)

Spotted Water Hemlock (Cicuta maculata)


This shot came out semi-OK. I was having difficulty because the light was a little on the low side and it was a bit windy. Low light dictates slow shutter times, and wind causes motion which dictates fast shutter times. I did the best I could. I guess.

While I was doing that a couple of guys came down the hill dragging a john boat. They asked what I was taking pictures of and I told them. I also noted that this was probably the most toxic plant native to North America. That piqued their interest! This stuff can kill a full grown cow in as little as 15 minutes. It can kill people too, and sometimes it does when it is mistaken for wild parsnips or wild carrots. That’s not a mistake a person is likely to repeat, as it is generally fatal.

After I showed them the plant, they thanked me, got in the boat, and went fishing. I headed down the beach looking for more blooms. I found this huge bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana).

Huge Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana)

Huge Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana)


This guy was about six inches long, head to tail. I guess he’d have been a foot long if he had stretched out his legs. The size is one way to tell these from Green Frogs (Rana clamitans), which are a lot more common around here. But young Bullfrogs can be the same size as Greens. You can still tell them apart by observing the two ridges that originate behind the eyes. In the Green Frog, these run down the length of the back. In Bullfrogs, they wrap around the tympanic membrane (that large circular thing behind the eye). That’s actually the frog’s eardrum. In females, the timpanic membrane is about the same size as the eye, but in the male, it’s much bigger. So I guess we have a male here. This is the only frog species in which I can distinguish male from female.

The other thing I did tonight is read a transcript of the Apollo 11 landing. As an engineer, I find this stuff pretty fascinating. The computers they had on the lander were very primitive compared to what we have available to us today, but I have actually worked with some systems that were bound by similar constraints: almost no memory; slow clock rates; primitive user interface; programmed in assembly. Yup. I’ve worked on those before, but even the ones I worked with were vastly more powerful than the Apollo 11 equipment. Still, it gives me an insight that I think most software engineers today lack. You had to be careful with resources!

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