prettyarbitrary: (Fuzzy Cthulhu)
1: Today has been a restorative day of slothful leisure, and I still have another day of weekend!  Woo!  God, I needed this.

2: Writing sensory deprivation smut is happy-making.

3: Leftover Chinese is the food of the gods.

Bonus 4: My parrots are being so cute right now that if you could see them, you would be driven insane by your inability to process the cosmic magnitude of their cuteness. (So now you know what happened to me.)
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Right, so I've rambled about them enough times. Have some actual pictures of my parrots! Bathing! When they're cutest!

Lucky, bathing in a salad bowl:
From My Parrots


Lucky considers biting the camera:
From My Parrots


Two minute video of Jamaica, also bathing in the salad bowl:


She flapped her wings at me until I paid attention to her, and then mimed bathing until I caught on that she wanted the salad bowl.
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Apparently the birds love fiddle music. I'm streaming some for them, and Lucky is attempting to mimic the sound.

She's lousy at it so far, but I'm tempted to leave it on for a couple of days and see if she gets it.
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My two pet parrots, who'd been living with Mom for years, have come back to live with me. It makes me happy when I come downstairs in the morning and get squawked at by adorable hungry fuzzballs. :)

They'd been living with Mom because I didn't think apartment complex living would suit a couple of rather vocal parrots (or rather, I wasn't sure how well two vocal parrots would go over with the neighbors in my apartment complex). But it turns out they're doing very well! They're not all that noisy here; maybe because they're where they can see their people for most of the day, so they don't have to yell when they want attention.

Lucky, my Quaker, is very happy indeed. She's always been a people-bird. Jamaica, the Nanday Conure with a voice like a rusty serrated knife to the skull (she can't help it, that's how they're built) is a bit grumpy, because she and I have an ongoing rivalry for Lucky's affections. I am her arch-nemesis, except when I'm feeding her noodles or carrots.

Sadly for her, her #1 intimidation tactic is to puff up as fluffy as she can manage, rock back and forth, and coo at me. She can't figure out where's she's going wrong with this, but it's so cute that sometimes I deliberately tick her off just so I can watch her do it. :D (Not that ticking her off takes much; all I have to do is go over to their cage and talk to Lucky.)

Now I just need to find an avian vet around here someplace.
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*LOSES MIND OVER THE TINY PARROTY CUTENESS*

Doctor Hoo

May. 25th, 2010 11:07 am
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Hey, I didn't come up with the pun. But OMG look at cranky little One and Three!


Doctor Hoo
by ~pu-sama on deviantART
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Jackass Penguins Freed After Rehab

Yes, apparently there's a penguin species out there known as the Jackass Penguin, for their characteristic donkey-like bray. Actually, they're quite cute and not alcoholics at all, despite the conclusions that National Geographic article might lead you to (for shame, Nat Geo! You should know better than to indulge in shoddy falsse reporting!).

To prove to you that I'm not making this up, here's a Wikipedia a Google Books with an entry on them! Sixth one down on page 28 of The Larger Illustrated Guide to Birds of southern Africa.

And because I know you want to know, here's a Youtube video of them. They're so cute! They just cute around for most of the video, but one gets a good call going near the end.

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A grackle stuck under my eaves woke me up an hour and a half early with its scrabbling. Poor thing climbed in somehow and couldn't find its way back out. I could hear it running back and forth and scratching at spots where it was trying to escape. Its flockmates kept crowding around to contribute moral support, but of course they couldn't do anything except peer helplessly at the situation.

I felt so bad that I couldn't get back to sleep. I lay there for an hour and a half trying to think of a way to help it, until it finally managed to escape on its own. It fluttered down and clung to my window screen briefly before it flew away to join its friends.
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On the way to Columbus, we got stuck in traffic twice, for a grand total of two extra hours added on to our trip (which was five and a half hours to begin with). Both jams were caused by accidents, and they were about ten miles apart. The second accident was kind of awful, and I hope everybody got out okay, but I remain puzzled by the first one: when we went past, the police were just cleaning up the remains, and inexplicably, a random fat guy on a rascal was winding up the yellow caution tape.

I didn't actually attend many events at the convention. This year, I was more interested in roaming around the city. I went to the Franklin Conservatory and botanical gardens, which was awesome, and which had PARROTS! I chatted with the macaws in the rain forest section, and I made friends with the lorikeets in the butterfly garden. Lorikeets are very colorful medium-sized parrots who eat nectar. I learned how to mimic their calls (I'm good at mimicking parrot calls) and lured them over to me and played with them. I also took a friend to the Catholic museum a couple of miles away, which contains some beautiful art, relics, and historical objects from Catholic churches around the eastern US. Neat place, and our tour guide knew a lot of stories about the displays.

I ate a lot. The first night we went to the Fish Market, which...yes. Do that if you like seafood at all. Stupendous. The food was spectacular, and the service was incredible. They made us feel like like they'd be sad to see us go. Note: they will not warn you about the Desserts of Doom. If you get dessert, it will be the size of your head. Prepare accordingly.

I ate twice at the Zencha tea salon, which doesn't have a website. They have a four-page tea menu--I got the sampler, which lets you choose three kinds--and a small lunch/brunch menu. On Saturdays, they have a special brunch menu that mainly features different sorts of waffles and griddle cakes. If you ever go there, get the okonomikayi--chinese cabbage, scallions, bean sprouts, chicken in an egg-based pancake. It's seriously kick-ass. Also I highly recommend the cherry blossom green tea. It was my favorite of all the kinds I tried, with a flowery fragrance and a hint of cherry-like sweetness around the edges.

I got Jeni's ice cream a few times. My favorite was the goat cheese ice cream with cherry compote, which tasted like a terrific cherry cheesecake.

And my sister and I went to Mitchell's steakhouse for lunch. Their dinner menu is expensive, but lunch is much more reasonable. The place is located in an old renovated bank, with gorgeous arching ceilings with frescoes, and the whole place is extremely stylish and sophisticated. The staff were extremely welcoming, and though it looks like the sort of place you'd expect to have a dress code, they were quite relaxed. Spectacular food.

And we ate at BD's Mongolian grill, which is a choose-your-own-stirfry sort of place that's fairly well-known to the gamer set at Origins. They had a special room set up for people from the convention, where they put Monty Python's Quest for the Holy Grail on the TV, and all the restaurant staff lingered around the doorway when they weren't running tables. :)

All told, I ate way too much, and somehow lost an inch off my waist. Possibly it was all the walking. I walked a lot.

Of the few events I went to, my favorite was the "What makes aliens alien?" seminar, hosted by Michael Stackpole, which was far too short for a subject like that with a guy who knows his stuff that well (also a really good group of attendees who were just as much fun). The Origins blockade irritated me this year. Normally they have staffers at the doorway of the various exhibit halls who'll check your badge. This time they blocked off parts of the hall and the doors into the convention center so they could stop anybody entering the building (sometimes, when they felt like staffing those areas). I'm not even sure they were supposed to be allowed to do that. I think the place is supposed to remain open to the public, seeing as the food court and whatnot are advertised as public eateries. :P

On the way back, we drove through a driving rainstorm of the sort where you have to be careful not to hydroplane...in which my serpentine belt suddenly decided to give up the ghost. I couldn't even tell, at first, because the rain had the steering behaving so wonky already, but the "check guages" light came on, and then a couple of minutes later I realized that the engine was overheating. When I pulled over, I realized that my power steering had given out. So we were stuck about 20 miles away from the nearest anything in the middle of a vicious thunderstorm on a Sunday afternoon around 5 pm, and it took us about an hour to sort out help. When I checked the engine, sure enough the serpentine belt was missing. A nice man who stopped to help us said he couldn't figure out how my car could still move. It should've lost all power to the drive train, because the serpentine belt is what transfers power from the spinning bit the pistons make move (it's like the wheel a generator turns, folks) to...well, pretty much anything else. So I have a magic car. I knew this.

Anyway, the very kind state police helped us and got hold of not only a tow truck but also a car rental agency that was still open or at least on call with the police for emergencies, and things got sorted by about 6 pm. I drove home in a rented Taurus while my car got left with a really nice mechanic named Jim out in Mercer (highly recommended if any of you blow something in the vicinity of DuBois, PA). For that hour or so, it was dread and badness and the fear of spending EVEN MORE on my car than I had already. But as I merged onto I-80 in the (really rather nice, OMG I need a new car) Taurus, I was passed by a white Pontiac who had the entire rear end of their car held on by bungee straps.

And I realized with that little bit of perspective that I really wasn't in such a bad space. After all, I could've been That Guy.

I drove back out yesterday (hour and a half trip) to pick my car up. Jim had it all patched up with a new serpentine belt for a really very reasonable price, the steering is nice and responsive now, and I'll get a refund on the towing bill from my insurance agency.

Funny thing, though: I got there to pick up my car, and he asked me, "You know you had a serpentine belt in your trunk?" And you know what? I did know that. It burst upon my consciousness that I knew I'd had a serpentine belt in my trunk for EIGHT YEARS, because the last time I had it replaced, the mechanic accidentally abraded the new one so that it screamed like a cat in heat, and they'd re-replaced it with a clean one gratis and thrown the noisy but perfectly viable one in my trunk, where it remains to this day.

Jim could've put that one on on the spot, so I wouldn't have needed a tow or a rental car or anything. The nice man who stopped to help us (who'd actually asked my friend "I don't suppose there's any chance you've got a spare?" while I was down the road hunting for a mile marker) could've put it on. My friend could've put it on, because I have the tools to do so in my trunk as my family doesn't believe in driving around in big machines without a toolbox just in case.

Here's the thing. I'm not upset about spending the money or breaking down in the first place or anything like that. That white sedan taught me that valuable lesson. But I'm disappointed that I missed that special "What're the odds?" opportunity, so beloved of packrats, to save the day by hauling out the unlikely item in question.
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Orphaned owls rescued by rehabilitators.

OH GAWD IT'S SO CUTE. Also, owls! Nifty news article.
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Librarians are famous for loving their conferences. Thanks to the tireless nagging of our Associate Dean, Sally Kalin, the Pennsylvania Library Association is hosting their bajillion-and-second annual conference here at Penn State. It started on Sunday. They've never held it here before. It's always been in Philadelphia, Lancaster, or Pittsburgh. So, this is quite a coup--or something--and our particular department got volunteered to help make it as awesome and impressive and repeatable as possible.

Among other things, this means we've spent the last two weeks running around like we were fighting a zombie attack, designing posters, signage, banners (apparently they've never had a banner before, or a graphic theme, which leads me to believe that impressing the hell out of this group won't be terribly difficult), brochures, and whatever other printed materials a librarian's conference needs in order to function. Another thing we have that they've never had before for a PaLA conference is modern, standardized equipment. Y'know, laptops that dependably have functional software, that sort of thing. We also got volunteered as the A/V staff, since the conference center here charges extra for the service of their technical staff and equipment, and the PaLA doesn't exactly have an overabundance of money.

Most of which I mention because it amuses me.

Anyway, I'll be working A/V tomorrow, and alternately delighting in the chaos and screaming at the ineptitude of our Luddite bindery staff, who for some inexplicable reason our department head decided would be helping in the A/V duties (bindery supervisor managed to jam the blinds in one room through her panicked random button pushing, when no one had asked her to meddle with the blinds at all; God help us if she gets near an actual computer). But since Penn State's libraries have decided it'd be a crime for a locally hosted conference to go to waste, they're actually footing the bill for any and all library personnel to get themselves registered and attend at least a day of the conference on university money.


I went yesterday, and by God, it was actually a lot of fun. )


Humanity online and what could become of us? )


PrettyArbitrary dramatically switches gears and talks about her own future. )


* They say the hyphen is dying? Not on my watch!


Oh, I almost forgot! Two YouTube videos to amuse you.
Snowball the rockin' cockatoo--my sister sent me this.

Darth Vader turns out to be hip after all--this one is my dad's fault.




And! I forgot to brag. Our stove has been dying the slow death for quite some time, and then last week I...uh, kinda...set the washing machine on fire. Sort of! Okay, well really it was just smoking. They said it was probably the belt. ANYWAY! Point being that we've had our appliances attended to. Washing machine isn't fixed yet, but what we do have is a nice, shiny AWESOME new stove! Sleek black thing with a flat top range...our kitchen is now handsome. It cooks hot, fast, and evenly...man, I gotta get to some baking.

Point being, I brag about the new stove. And also, our kitchen has, ever since we moved in, occasionally displayed an odd funk. Nothing we could pinpoint, not bad or strong, just...present sometimes. Well, when they pulled out the old stove, it turned out...(Kashyk, if you're reading this, you may just want to stop here).

See, the guys who lived there before us had a pet ball python. The python escaped and went missing at one point (you can tell this is going nowhere good, can't you?). It was never heard from again.

Until Monday, when they pulled out the old stove and found that it had apparently crawled up underneath to get warm, where it was...less mummified, more petrified, and proceeded to funk up the place for four years.

In other news, on Sunday I baked fresh bread (used kosher salt, turns out that in the future I need to be a bit more liberal with that as the bread ended up undersalted). I also pretty much invented a tomato sauce recipe. Well, less invented, more followed an age-old pattern using all fresh ingredients, starting with fresh-picked tomatoes. It went down a big hit with the roommates, so I'll probably tinker, work the bugs out and make it more regularly.

Perhaps I should add that both of those were on the old stove.
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Ordered some stuff from Adagio Teas, which is an exceptional little tea website. I particularly like their sample tins, which let you try out different kinds of tea for about $3-$5. If anyone on my f-list has never tried Adagio and is inclined to give them a try, give me your email and I'll send you a $5 promotional gift certificate. Adagio gives a seemingly unlimited supply of these things to customers, which I suppose is an excellent way to lure in new blood.

I have the most awesome walk to work. It's about half a mile through a nice neighborhood, along tree-lined boulevards, and small, weird things constantly happen to me. I suspect I could turn this into a slice-of-life LJ if I just described them when they happened. They're not big, impressive things; just small, entertaining things that remind you how good and funny life can be.

There was, for instance, the day I walked past a peregrine falcon perched on a fence post about three feet away from me. He just stared at everyone who looked at him, head held high and arrogant, not the least bit intimidated. I suspect he might've been calculating how best to get to the eyes if any of us got too close, like a little secret agent.
Another day, when a shrub laughed at me, I turned my head to find a blue jay watching me with mischievous eyes. "Hahahahaha!" he went. "Hahahahaha!" I laughed back at him. "Hahahahaha!" he said again. He seemed very entertained. Silly blue jays.
Then there are always the crows. Crows are crazy, intelligent birds. You can tell by watching them that they're aware of themselves and the world around them. They have great presence of mind. I often see them hopping around in the road, strutting proudly off to the side if the car looks disinclined to slow down, or yelling at any human audacious enough to walk beneath their trees (they start looking sheepish if you stare at them and tell them how goofy they are; oh yes, they know).
One yard along the way is chock-full of dandelions and violets at this time of year...except that the violets aren't all normal. Some of them are these lovely white things, shading toward that beautiful deep indigo toward their hearts. They look like little stars fallen to earth. Every year, I notice the white violets have spread a little further.
There's a little pug dog that belongs to a girl living in one of the houses. This dog gets out sometimes, and no fewer than three times have I rescued the little sweetheart after finding her roaming around a few blocks down the street. Once, recognizing me, she ran up and hid behind my leg. And then I often pass various folks from the neighborhood, out jogging or whatever. I've come to know who lives where along these streets by walking to work for the past couple of years.
Sometimes, when it snows, the plows don't get out right away, so we have long unbroken sweeps of white blanketing everything. At these times, I feel as though I'm walking through the past, 80 years ago when people still rode in sleighs rather than cars (I shall have pictures of this phenomenon, if I ever remember to take my camera to the developer).

Many small beauties and adventures, all in the half mile to work.

Today, walking to work, I noticed that one fence post at the corner of a street has a shadow that points in a different direction than all the others. My first thought (after "What the heck?" of course) was that a reflection might be doing it. If the sun reflects brightly enough off windows or something, it can cause a secondary shadow. But no dice. I poked the post, looked around it, to see if it was leaning in a different direction, or if it was an effect of a warp in the concrete sidewalk...no dice there either. It's simply a shadow that points in a different direction than all the rest. Isn't that bizarre?

Continuing into religous/spiritual babble that'll just annoy some of you Seriously, I'm warning you. It would annoy me if someone else inflicted me with it. )
Okay, the mushy embarrassing crap is over now. :)
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A friend brought this article to my attention today: A parrot with over 900 words in his vocabulary.

Er, hi.

Sep. 18th, 2006 02:05 pm
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Little of importance to say, but I just feel like making a post.

Our hawks are back--the ones from over the winter who were hunting squirrels outside our window at work. I'm glad; I missed those guys.

My computer is insane. I was up late Saturday night, putzing around on my computer. Granted I had a couple of resource-intensive programs open at once. So, my computer seizes. Completely. I grumble idly to myself and reboot. No big deal, figure I should know better. But when I try to reboot...nothing. I get a blank screen, and distressed beeping from my computer of the sort that indicates something integral to the system is no longer playing with its friends. Last time it did this, I'd forgotten to reinstall the RAM after putting in a new hard drive (the RAM is kind of in the way, so I take it out to avoid damage).

"Damn," I think. "My system's hosed." Well, I figure that whatever is wrong is too integral to be the hard drives (which would allow the computer to boot, but then it'd complain that "There's nothing to boot from, feed me a CD now"). So I just shut the thing down, go to bed, and figure I'll mess with it on Sunday.

Sunday morning, computer's fine.

Now I'm paranoid. I've backed up everything of major value, just in case (I was overdue for the ritual Backing Up Of The Files anyway), and for the next few weeks I'll linger in doubt over every minor twiddle and flit of the machine. Is it dying? Do I have some sort of unlikely godawful armageddon virus that'll kill chickens in Ethiopia? Or has it somehow learned that I'm considering replacing it? Maybe it put two and two together and realized what all the web-surfing of online computer parts shops was about.

Or, you know, maybe it just overheated or we had a power spike, or something. Nah. Way too reasonable.

Anyway, here's what I was actually working on at the time, which I had fortuitously just saved before the fateful seizure:

Colored version of that wrench-wielding mage I drew a couple of weeks ago.

By request, a picture for a friend, which I more than slightly suspect is actually based in Demon: the Fallen. This one's my first finished openCanvas piece.

Weird thing about monitors. My monitor at home is...odd. Among other things, it makes the angel picture look like it's drawn in blue-black. I used straight black, which nets you, on most monitors, that nice graphite color, just like it should. It also makes the mage picture look...well, less...contrasted. I've tried calibrating the thing, but frankly it doesn't help. Perhaps this is simply the consequence of having a flat screen monitor. I like it, but it does give graphics a slightly weird cast, especially compared to the exceedingly proper monitor I have at work.
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I woke up this morning in the process of doing lit-crit on Lord of the Rings. I was dreaming about doing lit-crit on Lord of the Rings. What is wrong with me? What was I dreaming about?!



We have a lot of different bird species around here lately, some of which I can't remember seeing in the area. Oh, I mean, they're in the right range, but in the past they seem to have preferred avoiding this particular area. We're a bit of a suburban microenvironment in the midst of a farmy forested sea, so it's not as if they don't have a choice of where to go.

I wonder if it's the raptors. We've got tons of raptors compared to even a couple of years ago, and the prey birds might've decided it's safer to live a bit closer to humans. Most of the hawks and things prefer to stay a bit further away from town. Or maybe there's a general population boom, and the smaller birds are making a comeback along with their larger predatory cousins? That'd be nice.

I notice because I always pay attention when I walk to work. It's just a pick-me-up at this time of year. Even when it's rainy, the weather is beautiful. That perfect, cool-but-not-cold temperature, with everything blooming and leafing and growing. Lovely flower smells in the air, and birds singing away. Very serene. Even when I'm having a lousy day, I can't help but feel a little happier.



A psychotically awesome website:
Ghost Town--a tour through Chernobyl's dead zone. This woman rides her motorcycle through the radioactive zones (surprisingly safe, so long as you keep your Geiger counter active and stay on the roadways), and gives a tour of her trips. One of the most fascinating things I've ever read.



I had some long, babbling and profound ramble I was going to post, but I've forgotten what it was. That's probably for the best.



[livejournal.com profile] trevoke, sorry, but I'm discussing money here. I know you've mentioned that makes you uncomfortable, but it's a traditional American pastime to bitch about finances.

I hate cars. Really. If you 're thinking of getting one, decide whether you're capable of functioning without it. If the answer is "Yes," then avoid the damn things like the plague. You're better off without them. I need, as some of you know, my rocker panels replaced. They're basically just big holes in the bottom of my car at this point. Granted, it's a 1992 Dynasty, so this sort of thing is not unexpected. But they're going to cost me in the neighborhood of $600-$800 to replace. The kicker is, I am capable of saving up that much money. In fact, I've already got most of it. I make crap. I mean seriously crap. If I didn't have roommates, I wouldn't be able to afford to keep this job. I'm only still here because I really like the people I work with, and I frankly hate writing resumes. HATE. Freelancing is filling in a bit on the finances, and I am learning some terribly useful skills, so it's not all bad... But anyway, here I am. Saved up $600. I'll also be putting down something like $400 on car insurance within a month or so--a periodic and necessary evil. I'm also going to the Origins gaming convention this summer. Saved up a couple of hundred for that. How? Hell if I know.

So the thing is, that's $1000 ($1000!) I'm spending on my car. I can live with the $400 for insurance; I'm used to that. But that's $600 I've saved up (something I didn't even realize completely that I could do, until I looked at my budget and realized it had happened!) that I could be spending on something fun, or something I need that'll be useful to me in a useful way, as opposed to fixing something so it's the way it's supposed to be in the first place. $600 I could be putting toward a laptop (something that'd be really handy and fun, moreso as time passes), or toward Origins, where I could buy neat things I won't have money for because my car is being...car-like. Blarg. Most of you have cars, I think, and you understand. Blarg.

And by the way, whatever happened to the cent sign? You know, the little 'c' with the vertical line through it? We never use it anymore. I kind of miss the little guy.



Trees. I love trees. They're so warming and serene. I feel so bad for the poor trees that get hacked down because people plant them in places where, if they'd just thought about it, they'd have known was going to cause trouble in about 20 years. They're living things! Sure, they're just plants, but they're...I dunno, they deserve respect, I think. They're strong, and pretty, and they add a little something to our lives. Just...give it a little thought, and save yourself some effort, you know? Such a waste.

Oh, trees! Right! I knew something was making me think about them. Check this out:
Heritage Trees at Penn State. Penn State is originally an agricultural college, so we've got some arboretums and groves on campus that over 100 years' worth of graduating classes have funded and helped to plant. It makes for some beautiful examples of foliage, including a couple of simply massive American Elms, which is something you don't see very often anymore. It's kind of neat to look at old, lovingly cared-for trees and consider their origins, history, and...just what a good example of a tree species looks like. I find it soothing. Aren't they pretty?
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And it's got birds in!

HASH(0x8ed9a54)
OWL: Some may think you're sad or grim, because you

shun their company. Truthfully, you are

quite content to play among the products of

your fertile imagination.
THE OWL
Edward Thomas
p.1917
=======================

Downhill I came, hungry, and yet not starved;
Cold, yet had heat within me that was proof
Against the North wind; tired, yet so that rest
Had seemed the sweetest thing under a roof.

Then at the inn I had food, fire, and rest,
Knowing how hungry, cold, and tired was I.
All of the night was quite barred out except
An owl's cry, a most melancholy cry.

Shaken out long and clear upon the hill,
No merry note, nor cause of merriment,
But one telling me plain what I escaped
And others could not, that night, as in I went.

And salted was my food, and my repose,
Salted and sobered, too, by the bird's voice
Speaking for all who lay under the stars,
Soldiers and poor, unable to rejoice.


Feathered Spirit - Which Birds Do You Flock With?
brought to you by Quizilla
Yay, birds!
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How ironic is it that <i>Queen</i> was responsible for some of the most macho rock songs of our time?  No one at sports events ever thinks about that when they're singing along with "We Will Rock You" or "We are the Champions."

The hawks were back yesterday.  I'm wondering if we'll be lucky enough to have them build a nest out there.  That squirrel nest is in a perfect spot for a hawks' nest, and they do seem fascinated by it...  You think they'd hijack it?  That'd be so cool!

Extensions fun:
If you're a Firefox fan, then here are some extensions I greatly recommend.

You're reading this, so I suggest Deepest Sender.  Lets you post LJ entries without having to actually travel to LJ, sign in, and all that.  It's fun; means you can clicky! and immediately start nattering on about whatever thing just popped into your head.

StumbleUpon!  A glorious waste of time such as you have seldom seen.  Install this puppy, pick some interests, and then anytime you want to, clicky! and it will send you to random websites relating to those interests.  I've found awesome stuff I would never have discovered otherwise, along with some really bizarre crap. :D

GMail Space.  Do you like GMail?  Do you wish you had some convenient, large webspace in which to dump files from any computer?  Ever fantasize about turning your GMail account into such a huge and convenient storage space?  Need I say more?

And PDF Download is just really convenient.  One of those things that you get hold of, and then wonder how you ever survived without it.  Okay, maybe not that extreme, but it lets you view PDFs as HTML files in your browser instead of going through "OMG now I have to open a huge and clunky separate program that will seize up your computer for five minutes!  Why don't you go get some coffee, 'cause I'll be doing this a while" every time you click on a PDF link.
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We have a large plate glass window in the room where I work, and it faces out on a street and a fairly large lawn with some trees and a hedge, settled in between various classroom buildings.

Currently, there are two red-tailed hawks energetically pursuing some squirrels out there. The larger, the female, keeps flying up to jump up and down on top of the squirrels' nest to drive them out, and then the male, who sits on a lower branch stoops down on them. A flock of crows is sitting high in the trees at a respectful distance, desperately wishing for the courage to drive the raptors away, but unwilling to become dinner instead.

The male landed in the low brush after a squirrel darted into it, and some idiot student stepped over the chain fence to try and walk up to it. He ran the hell away when the male leapt at him and mantled his wings.

A couple of times, a squirrel came out of cover, and the two of them both charged it at once. They're just magnificent. Graceful, fierce, quick, and powerful; I could watch them for hours. They don't even care about the students walking around. No fear of humans at all.

Kakapo!

Jan. 19th, 2006 10:49 am
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Some of you are aware that I'm a parrot fiend. For those of you who aren't...well, I'm a parrot fiend. I love 'em. I'm an animal-lover to begin with, and parrots are the softest spot in my mushy heart. These fluffy little nutballs are small, and cute, and beautiful, and fragile, and full of personality and intelligence. Parrots are wonderful creatures. There are many, many kinds, from the large and brightly colored macaw species, to the crested cockatoos, right down to the teensy little budgerigar.

Ahem. My purpose for this entry was to introduce you all to the strangest among a strange genus: the kakapo (that'll drop you in the midst of a Google image search; feast upon the fluffy cuteness!). The most endangered of all parrots (and that's saying something), there are 86 kakapo left in the world, and they're being conserved by the New Zealand wildlife agency, whose official name escapes me now. Alone among parrots, they're flightless and nocturnal, and in the grand tradition of animals from that region of the world, they're pretty much incapable of defending themselves from anything inclined to eat them. Perfectly weird. The educationally-inclined among you may wish to learn more about kakapo, or in one notable case, simply check up on how they're doing this year (I bet [livejournal.com profile] illucian already knows about kakapo, don't you? :D).

But wait! There's more. Once I say the word 'parrot,' I can't stop talking about them. Parrots are celebrated as mimics, but did you know that they're not just mimicking? The little fuzzballs can in fact learn human languages! Check out The Alex Foundation, a famous (among some parrot-obsessed circles *ahem*) and thoroughly not-cruel parrot learning experiment that has now been running for...gosh, it might be more than 10 years now. Alex is a Congo African Grey parrot who has learned colors (parrots can see color), shapes, how to count and, yes, the alphabet (he's still working on that).

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