Anna’s Hummingbird

On our walk yesterday, Barley and I encountered a birder in the neighborhood. We could tell because of the spotting scope, so we decided to strike up a conversation using the scope as kindling. It turns out that he, and a number of people in my neighborhood are birders, but he’s got the great fortune of having a hummingbird nest in his front yard. He offered us a look, and enlightened us to the family.

The birds were Anna’s hummingbirds and the nest was barely visible in the spotting scope and virtually invisible to the naked eye despite being only 20 feet from it. We were also informed that Anna’s have been moving northward in the last decade and now winter in the Portland area, which I’d noticed from the pair at Gabriel park near the off leash area and the chirping on our morning walks. I think that my being able to describe what they sounded like was enough to convince my neighbor I wasn’t just some yokel so he regaled me some more.

The nest itself, tiny and indistinguisible from the tree it was hanging in, was made of lichen and cotton that the homeowner had left out near the feeders he kept stocked over the winter. Even the bleeched white fiber didn’t stand out, and the nest itself wasn’t much bigger than the pine cones it was built against. Yet the tiny little beaks sticking out of it were plain to see when the mother came back to feed them god knows what. It was quite amazing and I must get a feeder out soon.

Shorts to work

I wore shorts to work today. Well, not at work, but on my ride to work. You see, though it is February, the weather has been really nice all month. So nice that I’ve decided that whatever resulting issues we have this summer are worth it. I feel safe saying that now, but I’ll probably regret it.

I’ve also managed to ride to work all but 3 days this month. That still only puts me in second place on our BTA Bike Commuter Challenge page, but in all fairness, the guy in 3rd place rides 25 miles a day to my 5. I’ll concede second place to him. Plus, he’s on a recumbent, so he has to look silly for those 25 miles.

I did manage to ride a total of somewhere over 15 miles yesterday. From home to PCC, PCC to Swagats on NE 21st, Swagats to PSU, PSU to Hawthorne Bridgeport. I learned two things from this ride:

  • Don’t ride on a belly full of curry
  • Bike Commuting on the east side is so much more interesting, and less hilly.

Chandra’s Bar Exam

Our friend Chandra came back from D.C. to take the Oregon Bar and just finished tonight. Several friends came out too and we celebrated in the old fashion by having dinner and drinks at Hillsdale Pub. The place was full, understaffed, and we ate out on the patio but the heaters were dead. Still, it’s great to have her back in town and see everyone together. Congrats on taking the bar too!

Buying music online

I think buying music online is harder than buying it in a shop because you’ve got access to sites like allmusic to delve further into the album before purchasing. I’ve spent a surprising amount of time this morning without actually deciding on anything.

If only iTunes Music Store had tabbed browsing I could keep track of some stuff.

First Dogwash of the year

Drying the dog
After a brilliant morning walk that ended with coffee and a cinnamon roll, Michelle and I decided to give Barley the first outdoors bath of the year. Its unbelievably nice out lately and dogface was seriously ready for a bath. (no, its not his first bath of the year, just the first outside)

In order to make it fun, we got out his kiddy pool and used the sprayer to taunt him around the yard. He’s a bit of a freak when he gets wet. And its further evidence that he might be part greyhound if you ignore the horrid joint issues.

Finally the fun came to an end and we had to dry the dog off. Its easily everyone’s least favorite part of the job. Barley loathes getting toweled, and used to growl before finally submitting to fate. Besides a load of water, a mess of hair came off with the drying. Despite all the hair we left outside, there will probably be small colonies of it on the floor again by tomorrow.

Anyway, here’s a shot of poor Barley getting toweled off on the deck.

To Kyoto or not to Kyoto

The Kyoto Protocol goes into effect today, and although the US has refused to sign the international treaty, there’s still something we can do about it. Like the folks at Cascadia Scorecard, you can ratify the protocol yourself.

I’m a little uncertain as how to calculate it since I’m not living with my parents anymore, but I’ll make my best efforts to reduce my emission of CO2 to sub 1990 levels. Here’s an easy way:

1 gallon of gas when burned releases 17lbs of CO2. That’s roughly 20 miles given the average US fuel economy for new cars in 2001.

A normal breath of air is roughly 1 liter in volume. When you exhale, 4% of that is CO2. A liter of air weighs roughly 1.2 grams, so you exhale ~.05 grams of CO2 with each breath. So you produce 17lbs of CO2 with 160,647 breaths. On average, we take 12 breaths per minute. So lets say when you ride a bike you’re averaging 20 breaths per minute. That means you can ride for 8032 minutes before you expel 17 pounds of CO2. If you average 10mph on a bike, that takes you 1330 miles. Hmmm…

I’m to lazy to show or check my work. Tommy or Scott will be interested and probably corroborate or disprove the evidence for me. Oh, and I don’t remember my sources. The Internet will show the way.

Michelle’s first race

I forgot to mention – Michelle completed her first race this weekend in Eugene. She ran in the Truffle Shuffle 4 mile event. She finished with her fastest time ever on a 4 mile and would have done even better if she hadn’t started all the way in the back. She was also glowing when she finished. I guess its a runner thing. She’s inspired me to ride more though.

Barley and I aren’t runners so we hung out in the park and watched. It was an amazingly nice day with sun and ducks and prettier gulls than we have in Portland.

Query the possibilities

Here’s an example of some of the work I’m doing on my GIS project. Start with all the tax lots in Portland, query all lots zoned “single family residence”, then query those with a total value (property and building) of $175,000 to $225,000, then query those results for homes built before 1950, then query those results for lot size greater than 4400 sq. ft., then query those results for building square footage for those greater than 1500 sq. ft. Here’s what you get:

All Portland Taxlots After the fall

Kind of startling, huh? I wasn’t going to put streets in it originally, but there’s no way to tell where the second image is otherwise.

Hail to the…

Michelle has a fancy coffee mug with the gilded (not really) logo of the United States Supreme Court on it. She doesn’t use it often, and I usually give it to her on special occasions like passing the bar, or her first race. But it’s such a fancy mug that it needs a processional, and hail to the chief, while seeming appropriate, just isn’t. The two very different branches are separate. Hopefully.

However, I’m not aware of a Supreme Court Anthem, so the first theme that came to mind was the Scorpions’ Rock me like a Hurricane. I have a nasty habit of waking up with bad songs stuck in my head. While it doesn’t necessarily seem like a perfect fit at first, it kind of grows into the part. Think of the justices filling to the room to it. Powerful.

Still… it doesn’t seem quite right. There must be something better. But I can’t quite shake the image of them filing into the court with it playing. Justice Scalia with both hands raised, rockin’ the session to a start.