Friday, October 28, 2011

Crows Just Wanna Have Fun

Crows Just Wanna Have Fun
And nothing is more fun than harassing a big, old (relatively) clumsy raptor, who by now just wants to get out of there. (No wonder the word for a flock is "a murder of crows").

I was walking through Wingra Park and heard a big, raucus commotion in the sky. A group of crows were driving a hawk crazy, taking turns doing aggressive fly-bys from weird angles. Most of the crows soon broke off, but kept chattering. One persistent crow, however, looked as if it was having so much fun it just couldn't get enough. This behavior is called mobbing. It seems to be protective territorial behavior, since hawks are not averse to swooping down on crow nests, especially when they have young in them. A hawk could tear a crow apart, but given the crows' agility, it's too much work when they're in the air -- especially when there is a group. So the hawks generally retreat. It's just not worth the energy to retaliate. It's always fun to watch the much smaller birds go after the big predator.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Occupy Madison 'Cause 99% of Us Are in the Same Leaking Boat

Occupy Madison 'Cause 99% of Us Are in the Same Leaking Boat
On Day 21 of Occupy Madison, I stopped by their new location at Olin Terrace, in front of the Monona Terrace, but they had already moved on to their new home at the old Don Miller car lot at 800 E. Washington Ave -- but not without leaving a message.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Too many nuts, not enough time

Too Many Nuts, Not Enough Time
A squirrel's work is never done. This one was doing it at Goodland County Park on Lake Waubesa.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Thunderstorm turns out the lights in part of Madison and dark social metaphors ensue

Thunderstorm Turns Out the Lights in Part of Madison and Dark Social Metaphors Ensue
There are some who are in darkness
And the others are in light
And you see the ones in brightness
Those in darkness drop from sight

When the thunderstorm swept in and the power went out, our electronic devices wailed and beeped their various death throes, everything went dark and there was stunned silence. We groped for candles and suddenly were back in the 19th century. T and M seemed happy just to enjoy the warm glow and wait for the lights to come back on. I was more restless and wanted to drive out and survey the extent of the outage. It was so dark outside you couldn't see another person ten feet away. Driving was disorienting with no streetlights or traffic signals, and the inky black, wet streets sucking up the beams from the headlights. I soon established that we were an island of darkness, surrounded by the people of the city blithely and brightly going about their business. In fact, the power was just out of reach—lights shone brightly just a block away. On Monroe Street, shown here looking east, the dividing line was Woodrow Street, to the west of which darkness reigned. It was infuriating.

"It's like a metaphor for our society," said T. "The people living in the light have no idea how others are doing, how hard it is to get by in the dark." When T said that, I was reminded of the seldom-heard last lines of Brecht's "Ballad of Mack the Knife" ("Die Moritat von Mackie Messer"). They weren't in the original version of the ballad in his and Kurt Weill's The Threepenney Opera, but he inserted them into the G.W. Pabst film, which was much more savagely bleak than the stage version. I only saw the movie once, years ago, but have never forgotten the passage, which T reminds me is itself a dark echo of William Blake.

Here in Madison, our lights came back on after a couple hours. No big deal. As a society, however, we could do so much more to bring light to all those who live in darkness.