Saturday, May 26, 2012
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Looking for more information after a Forevertron visit, I discovered how Google is looking out for libraries
Accompanied by Cybergabi and Joey, we stopped by the Forevertron the other day, to renew our acquaintance with this stunning built environment that's free and open to the public along Highway 12 between Sauk City and Baraboo, across the road from the now mostly dismantled Badger Ordnance Works, which over the years gave up some of its scrap for the creation of this amazing sculpture garden.
It was one of those gorgeous May days when everything is alive and vibrant. Unfortunately, it was midday, and the light was not great for photography. But it was great for basking in the strange, sun-drenched beauty.
To really do justice to the Forevertron's mystery and magic, you need something like the stunning 1995 photo by Ron Byers that's the cover of Sublime Spaces & Visionary Worlds, a volume about "built environments of vernacular artists" around the country. Significantly, they chose the Forevertron as the cover photo. I found the book when I followed one of the reference links at the bottom of the Wikipedia article on the Forevertron. It took me to this screen on Google Books.
I soon found that the book is long out of print, and you're lucky to be able to get a used copy for $150. But look off to the left. One of the features that Google Books has that Amazon doesn't, for pretty obvious reasons, I guess, is a "Find in a Library" link. It worked flawlessly. One click showed a list of area libraries that had the book, both public and academic. Another click took me to the Madison Public Library, and with another click I reserved it. I picked it up the next day.
I know Google isn't perfect, and no corporation that large and profitable can be totally benign, but I salute them for the library link. It's a real public service.
I was dive-bombed by a single red-winged blackbird, while overhead a hawk was attacked by an entire angry posse.
Red-winged blackbirds are beautiful. They're nature's jewels of the wetlands, bright little specks of accent colors scattered through the cattails of the marsh, a benign peaceful sight that brighten any walk in their habitat.
Not quite as peaceful these days, however. This is the time of year that red-winged blackbirds become wildly protective of their fledglings in their nests. Either singly or in noisy aerial posses, they'll attack anything that seems to be a threat.
We were walking in the Wingra Marsh this morning when, without warning, one of these creatures pecked at the top of my head and did a quick little victory dance in my hair with its claws. Or so it felt.
But don't worry about me -- save your sympathy for the hawk that was attacked a moment later by an entire angry flock. They would circle around and attack from behind, over and over. Unlike crows I've watched attacking hawks in a similar ritual, they didn't content themselves with displays of mob behavior and hair-raising close encounters. The blackbirds swooped right in and pecked at the head and shoulders of the hawk, zooming in from above and behind, giving a quick peck before peeling off to circle around again. They were so small and quick and maneuverable the hawk could do nothing and was in full retreat.
Moments before, a couple dozen red-wings whirled and chattered around one clump of cattails. They must have been organizing their posse. It's tough being a predator, knowing it's only a matter of time until the vigilantes get organized and a whole angry squadron of fighters comes flying up out of the marsh to get on your tail.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Monday, May 21, 2012
Sunday, May 20, 2012
Sometimes field mice get lazy and succumb to the temptations of the soft life in human habitations. When we hear the pitter-pat of little mouse feet, that's when the humane "tippy trap" comes out. It's a little plastic tunnel with an uphill run at one end. That's where the snack goes (peanut in almond butter seems good); the mouse runs after it, the trap tips, and the door shuts -- and it's back out to nature in all its glory. Usually a mouse will hop away too quickly to photograph, but this one just sat and calmly observed me while I got my iPhone out of my pocket and turned on the camera and framed the shot. She didn't run off until after she heard the shutter.
Shot with iPhone4 camera with HDR On. Tweaked in-camera while experimenting with Snapseed from Nik Software. What an incredible photo editing app for a cell phone! Best I've seen. Just starting to explore its features, which include an amazing subset of their legendary desktop tools. Elegant and intuitive to use.