June 2010


Today we went to the Cheney’s house for a potluck lunch after church. I enjoyed tramping around on their property. I had forgotten my camera, but Va had hers, so I used it.

I like mine better, but I was really glad to have hers.

There were lots of these flies around:

A Fly

A Fly


Not too many to be a nuisance though, and I did enjoy trying to take their pictures. They usually wouldn’t hold still long enough for me to focus the camera, but this one did. I like the eyes! I posted this to Bugguide just before I started writing tonight, and before I finished, I had an id: Chrysops spp. (female), aka Deer Fly. Gotta love Bugguide! WIkipedia has some very unkind things to say about this particular genus.

Jonathan and David are spending the night there (as is another of their friends). When we went to the beach last week, David got his shoes wet in the ocean, and has been unable to wash the smell out of them. Since he was horrified about the thought of wearing them to someone’s, house, Va took him to a store for a new pair last night. And when we left for church this morning, he left his shoes in the kitchen!

So Va and I didn’t stay for very long. We went home to free Penny from the house. I changed clothes and grabbed David’s shoes(and my camera), and headed back over there. Va stayed home to take a nap. I stayed for a while and had a nice time. The fly photo was actually taken with my camera rather than Va’s. Mine is better for macro shots like that.

They had cinquefoil, indian cucumber root, partridge berry, chickweed, clover, veronica, dewberry, wild sarsaparilla, whorled loosestrife, wood sorrel, and honeysuckle in bloom. They also had another specimen that I wasn’t positive about:

Bladder Campion?

Bladder Campion?


Now that I’ve gotten home and consulted the Internet, I’m feeling pretty confident that my guess was correct: Bladder Campion (Silene vulgaris). I have lots of white campion (S. latifolia), but not any bladder campion. I think the thing that threw me was the purplish stames.

Getting the Diploma

Getting the Diploma


We went to Jonathan’s graduation ceremony today. Jonathan had to be there at 3:00pm, so we bailed out of work early for this. I didn’t need to be at the rehearsal, so I figured I’d see if I could nab a nearby geocache. I knew there were a couple really close by, but I didn’t have the coordinates with me. Instead, I had the coords for one about a half mile away. The ceremony wasn’t until 4:00, so I had plenty of time. I set out.

The GPS was bouncing all over the place when I got to within a couple of yards. There was lots of thick underbrush too, and I was wearing dress clothes. So I turned around and headed back empty-handed. I’ll try again sometime, I’m sure.

Va, David, and Beth showed up shortly afterwards. I had saved us a row of seats near the front. It surprises me how many people will come to something like this and then sit as far back as they can. I wanted to be close enough so that my camera’s flash would reach its objective, and for it to be effective, it has to be within about 15 feet. And we were. Second row. The first row was for the speakers.

Seven graduates showed up out of a class of 12. Six of those seven were girls (or… women, I guess). For whatever reason, someone thought it would be a good idea for all the graduates to carry bouquets of flowers. Jonathan… was not comfortable with that.

The commencement address was given by Dr Lyonel Tracey, former NH Commissioner of Education. For a commencement address, it was pretty decent! He quoted Mark Twain – something along the lines of “Never let school get in the way of education.” Good advice.

Afterwards, they served cake, and Jonathan got to meet several of his teachers in real life – his classwork had all been done over the Internet, so he hadn’t ever met any of them face-to-face. I talked David into taking a photo of the graduate and his parents:

Va, Jonathan, and me

Va, Jonathan, and me

Then we went out for dinner at the Outback.

Here’s an email exchange I participated in last night with my brother-in-law, Richard:

Richard:
Why, you whipper-snappers, back in my day if you wanted to
network computers you had to run a cat-5 ethernet or RS232 serial
cable to a terminal device and hook that into a router or
terminal server and hook that into a server running some flavor
of UNIX using X-Windows – unless you wanted to run Windows 3.1 in
which case you had to use [something] like Novell or Lan tastic.

Jim:
You had Cat-5? We never had it so easy! When I was younger we had
to run coax to all our computers – serially! Non of this sissy
star-configuration stuff like we have today.

And then we had to hook them up to an AUI adapter. On a good day we
could get a 10Base-T connection to the server, and that was shared
by the whole company. These were connected via hubs too, which do
not isolate traffic.

And we were GLAD we had that! Before we got the 10Base-T, we had to
carry our files from one computer to another on 5 1/4″ floppy
disks!

Richard:
5 1/4″ floppy disks! You were lucky! We had to use punch cards and store them in a shoebox in the middle of the road!

Jim:
You had punch cards! We had to hand assemble our code and punch it into the machine in hexadecimal. Once we got it debugged we were allowed to burn it into an EPROM, but until then, we had to punch it in every time we wanted to run it.

We would have KILLED to have a box of punch cards we could store in the road.

Richard:
Hexadecimal! You were lucky! We had to convert Roman numerial data using a Mesopotamian binary abacus to translate the code into ASCII (or EBCIDIC for you IBM’ers) and pipe it thru a 300 baud acoustic coupler just to get our ENIAC’s tubes hot enough to keep our coffee warm. Well, it was just muddy water but it was coffee to us!

Jim:
You had a Mesopotamian abacus! Ours was Phoenician, and it wasn’t even binary – it was base-zero! And back then no one had ever heard of ASCII or EBCIDIC – we didn’t even have an alphabet until we invented our own!

Richard:
And you tell that to the young people of today and they won’t believe ya, nope!

Tonight Beth had a piano recital. I can’t remember the name of the first song she played, but it was composed by F. J. Hayden.

Beth playing Hayden

Beth playing Hayden

Of course I heard her play this song about 900 times over the past two months, and at every tempo imaginable. I bought her a metronome (same day I bought David a guitar), and she would set it insanely slow and play along. Then she’d set it insanely fast and play it that way too. All that practice must have helped, because she nailed it tonight.

Her second piece was “Bless Be the Ties That Bind” which had received similar metronome treatment. That was the finale for the recital (there were about eight kids there total).

Rewinding the day a bit…

Jonathan and I worked an hour later tonight, then hit Taco Bell for dinner. He dropped me off at the church to wait for Va and Beth while he went on to his class. I took a few photos while I waited. The first thing I noticed was that the milkweed was in bloom:

Ladybug on a Milkweed Bloom

Ladybug on a Milkweed Bloom


On that same cluster of blossoms there was a menace biding her time:
Goldenrod Spider in Waiting

Goldenrod Spider in Waiting


The spider didn’t seem to happy that I showed up and started poking around with a lens. I think she thought I was going to blow her cover. But I didn’t. The beetle never seemed to notice. I moved on before any drama began. If you look closely at the ladybug shot, you can see this spider lurking at the lower right. Cool.

There was lots of crown vetch in bloom too. I liked this shot:

Crown Vetch (Securigera varia)

Crown Vetch (Securigera varia)

Jonathan graduates from high school on Friday. For the past couple of years he has been schooled through VLACS (Virtual Learning Academy Charter School), which is an online school. Before that we were using Griggs, which was a correspondence school, but they were pretty awful. Sometimes they (Jonathan and David) would send in work, and would not get grades back for six weeks. So we switched to VLACS.

Because we switched so far into Jonathan’s school career, he had to take an advisory course to meet the VLACS requirements, and that delayed his graduation. Since he only had that one class to take last semester, he started taking college courses at NHTI. So he started college before he finished high school. I am very happy that his college work has gone much smoother than his high school did.

But now… he’s done with high school, so he can begin matriculating his college work. There will be a ceremony on Friday. I’ll take pictures.

Note: Bugguide is back, and I have added corrections to my (very bad) identification attempts.

Today I had to get my eyeballs of the screen for a bit so I took a walk around the block. I brought my camera and went looking for flowers and bugs. I found both, but today, the bugs were more interesting:

Unknown cluster-o-bugs

Unknown cluster-o-bugs


I’m not sure what these are. Maybe scarlet plant bugs (Lopidea spp.)Edit: These are Eastern Boxelder bugs (Boisea trivittata). I’d post it on Bugguide.net, but the site appears to be down. 😦 According to my Audubon Field Guide, there are lots-n-lots of species of this bug, and they are host-specific. Luckily, I noticed what type of plant they were on – some dewberries. Unluckily, there are several species of dewberry, and it is difficult (for me) to tell them apart.

Here’s some kinda bee I saw on some cinquefoil:

Bee on a cinquefoil bloom

Bee on a cinquefoil bloom


Cinquefoil is another genus (Potentilla spp.) that I have difficulty distinguishing down to the species level. This might be P. arguta, but it might also be P erecta. I guess I should educate myself better on these. The bee is even more difficult for me to distinguish. All the bees in Audubon look remarkably similar, and I just don’t have the patience tonight to plow through it.

When I got home I took a lap around my property and found this one:

Beetle

Beetle


This is another I’d like to post to Bugguide, but since that’s not available right now, I have to make my own guesses. Maybe it’s a downy leather-wing (Podabrus tomentosus), but really – it could be about anything. Edit: Yup – it’s a soldier beetle (Boisea trivittata).

I took the Pathfinders on their Fun Trip to York Beach today. First we hit a small zoo there in York, ME. They had more animals there than I had remembered from a couple years ago, but I think that’s because my memory isn’t all that vivid rather than because their collection has expanded.

It drizzled most of the day.

After the zoo, we ate lunch at the beach, and… there was no worry about sunburn.

Pathfinders at York Beach

Pathfinders at York Beach


Yeah, I couldn’t tell where the horizon ended and the sky began. Here’s another shot:
Having Fun Anyhow

Having Fun Anyhow


The kids seemed to enjoy it in spite of the sun’s hiatus. They all complained when I told them it was time to go. Temperature? 59°F. Humidity? 600% I would guess. The winds were light though.

The bummer about this trip – even more so than the weather – was that I had left my large memory card in my laptop. All I had for the camera was my tiny one. I had to jack the picture resolution way down so I could take more than half a dozen photos (literally!). I took several at 1600×1024 (or thereabouts), and then set down even further when I saw I was getting close to out of memory. These shots were a pathetic 640×480.

I should probably get another memory card.

After a nice two-hour nap today, David, Beth, and I took Penny down to Sandogardy Pond. I brought my camera, and went looking for aquatic blooms. I found some floating heart, and waded in after it:

Floating Heart (Nymphoides cordata)

Floating Heart (Nymphoides cordata)


I also saw that the white water lily’s were in bloom, but they were pretty far out there. I took a picture, but my zooms always look so horrible that I can’t bear to post it.

Then there was this guy:

Tiny white flower with three petals

Tiny white flower with three petals


I have no idea what this is. I haven’t thumbed through any of my books yet, but I will a bit later tonight. These flowers were pretty tiny – maybe an eighth inch across. It was growing at the edge of the pond (on land though, not in the water). If you know what it is, I’d like to hear it!

When I was walking through my woods the other day I noticed that the partridge berry (Mitchella repens) was in bloom. Today even more of it was.

Partridge berry (Mitchella repens)

Partridge berry (Mitchella repens)


I like this plant. It makes edible (though tasteless) berries. Note that the two flowers are joined at the base. Together they form a single berry which has two eyes (one from each flower). These berries remain on the plant all winter and well into spring. In fact, here’s a photo I took of one last month:
Mitchella repens berry

Mitchella repens berry


See the two eyes? Those are from the two flowers.

Another plant that has recently bloomed here is the white campion:

White Campion (Silene latifolia)

White Campion (Silene latifolia)


This one is blooming at the end of my driveway next to the road. I should have gone in the house and grabbed a tripod for this, but instead just held the camera in my hand. Thus, it’s a little bit out-of-focus. 😦

Oh well.

Today at work, our founder escorted a person through our work place who is running for the U.S. Senate. Actually, he’s looking to be nominated to run right now. I spoke with him briefly, but it was all chit-chat. That’s the cool thing about New Hampshire – we get to actually meet our politicians.

After work, Jonathan and I ran several errands. He went to sell one of his books back, but it came with a CD that he didn’t have with him, so we get to try that again another day. Then we went to the school to fetch Beth’s handwriting book (she had homework, but had left her book next to her desk). Then we went to briefly visit one of my Pathfinders.

She is barely under the required number of merit points to qualify for the Fun Trip this Sunday, so I had some extra credit for her. I brought her the club’s camping dishes, an engraver, and a set of stencils. Then I showed her how to engrave numbers on the forks & cups. Hopefully, she’ll do a geat job, but it didn’t start out that well – she engraved a 12 on cup number 17. We are engraving them because Sharpies can and do wash off.

Then we came home. I took Penny outside just in case I needed her to bring me some sticks. Then after dinner, Va and I drove back to Concord to attend a church business meeting (which went well).

A plan to do a little remodelling was approved. We’re going to knock some walls down to make the hallway become part of the school room. That will make it bigger. I will also need to relocate the computer equipment. So I expect this project will absorb some of my time over the summer.

After all that, I’m pretty wiped out.

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