*I've got two cardinals, two blue jays, a house sparrow, a handful of white-crowned sparrows, a horde of juncos, and a calm, almost Buddha-like gray squirrel all hanging out under my feeder at the moment.  The feeder's empty and I'm out of seed for the moment, but the spill zone beneath it has been building up for so long that there may be fossilized birds in the strata.

*With the end of the Black Box, I've managed to get back into an old habit: reading.  Over the last week, I've torn through both Crooked Little Vein, the hilarious, lewd, endlessly inventive rapid-fire debut novel from gonzo comics writer Warren Ellis, and Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Journey, Alfred Lansing's gripping classic of Antarctic exploration (which I only just discovered was published in 1959.)  I figure the next logical step is to combine the two by reading The Terror, Dan Simmons' novel about Arctic explorers and the thing that preys on them.  TIme to  hit the library...

*Holy shit!  The feeder tree has suddenly been visited by an enormous male pileated woodpecker, his red crest positively glowing in the morning light.  He's now pounding on an upper branch so hard that I can hear it through the window and over the hum of the computer's fan AND the construction noise next door.  Cooooool!

*I get a weekend!  Yes, tomorrow at 9:30 is the beginning of Woodberry's Long Winter Weekend, our annual three-day break, which comes at a good time for me.  I plan to sleep late, go to the gym a few times, eat out a few times, catch a movie, and grudgingly do a bit of grading.  I suppose I'll have to find somewhere to watch the Super Bowl since my usual game-watching host is out of town.

*And there's the white-breasted nuthatch and the house finch.  If the day's first chickadee turns up soon, the usual suspects for Janurary will have all turned up.

*Speaking of my usual game-watching host, next-door neighbor, physics teacher, writer, WFS baseball broadcast partner and sports junkie Greg Jacobs, he's doing something a little unusual these days: going to umpire school.  Yes, Greg is enough of a baseball maniac that he's decided to spend part of his Woodberry sabbatical in Florida learning the techniques of the professional umpire.  Along with a hundred-odd people,  most of them former players who don't want to give up the game entirely, Greg's memorizing the rule book (what little he didn't already have memorized), practicing his strike and ball calls, and happily absorbing himself in the minutiae of the game from a new angle.  Better still, he's keeping a blog about his experiences right here:  Nachoman's Baseball.  If you want to know more about the rare three-base award, the intricacies of removing one's mask, or the unsettling image of Bobby Cox among umpires, this is the blog for you.  And if you just want to read some funny stuff about umpiring, this is the blog for you, too.

*Downy woodpecker.  Male.  On the tree, and now on the feeder, where I don't expect him to stay long... and he's back on the tree.  Sorry, dude.

*We've Netflixed the second season of The Venture Brothers, which has rapidly become my favorite cartoon, if only for the hilarious way the writers unexpectedly mix references to pop culture into the most improbably situations.  Admittedly, nothing yet has topped Season One's experimental plane launch, which was an extended riff on David Bowie's "Space Oddity," but I've sure loved watching young Hank unconsciously re-enacting everything from Buffy the Vampire Slayer ("I have a sister you never told me about?... Named Dawn?... How long were you going to keep this from me?") to the Doors' "The End" ("Father... I want to kill you!").  Then again, his non-referential comments ("My pants are haunted!") have been pretty hilarious as well.

*Hot damn!  The year's first purple finch--and he's up there with a house finch for maximum contrast!  Oh, yes, the raspberry-covered underside is clearly visible, and the brownish house finch belly just doesn't measure up.

*Today I have to get back on the duty rotation, but it's my next-to-the-last day of classes before the break, and that's a good thing to know.  Nirvana isn't here yet, but it can be seen from here.

*And the squirrel still sits atop the seed, round and satisfied, surrounded by frantically scratching juncos.  Where are the chickadees?  Perhaps they have at last escaped the wheel of samsara.  Ommmmmmm.

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This page contains a single entry by Peter Cashwell published on January 31, 2008 6:27 AM.

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