March 10, 2015

Book Review: A Pocket Guide to Sharks of the World

420 shark cover003.jpg

Hi,

Ever since I started reviewing these Princeton University Press books, I've yet to find what I would call a serious flaw... until now. But more about that in the closing comment...

  • Book logistics: Let's see... We talking 0.96 lbs., 256 pp, with a desk space of 5.125" by 7.75" by .75"... The soft cover has some sort of plastic coating, and the paper is high quality, etc., etc., etc... After doing 16 reviews of Princeton works, I've come to expect excellence in materials, and they haven't let me down yet.
  • Immediate and long-term ease of use: See below...
  • Book organization: Well, it has everything a shark guru would want including all 501 shark species complete with illustrations and descriptions, diagrams of teeth, fins, guts... You name it and it's probably in there. But...
  • Artwork: The plates are the usual PUP high quality. Nuff said.
  • Overall impression: It's a great book... It truly is... But...

I started this review stating that this wasn't going to be a favorable analysis, and here's why -- in my humble opinion, I should be able to grab a pocket book and immediately look up a particular shark. Since Mrs. CCA and I like to clam off Chatham, we're a bit concerned about the Great Whites that like to frequent those waters. (Here's an excellent video showing them.) That's an easy task right? Just grab the book and look in the index. But there was no entry for the Great White. (It turns out that the shark is properly called a "White Shark" and is listed... White Sharks become Great Whites as they age.) "No big deal" you say? Well, next I tried to look up the Mako... Once again, there was no index entry for the Mako -- instead you have to blindly hunt for the Shortfin and Longfin varieties. Obviously, shark wonks know all this stuff, but we don't, and in the case of the Great White, more quick info equates to less chance of us getting our butts chomped.

So that's where the book fails us -- the authors truly put together a fine piece, but its usability for the unwashed masses needlessly suffers, and that's too bad. If the editors were just a bit more plebeian in their construction of the index this one would have knocked it out of the park, but at least for me, it fell short.

By the feeders,

CapeCodAlan


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March 9, 2015

Winter 2015 .. Bring It On!

Sorry about the long delay, but as the following pics show, it's been a "vigorous" winter. Put another way, the Cape got clobbered, I don't have a snow blower, and I'm addicted to Aleve.

I don't know about you, but I for one have reached the insane when it comes to winter and snow -- I've shoveled/meandered/stumbled/slogged/fell through so much snow/ice/slush that it doesn't matter any more. Soreness and even pain are foregone conclusions. Bruised coccyx? Whoopee! Turn up the music, don the layers, and wander into the abyss. This is the kind of weather that will give one "Pop-Eye Forearms" and put fur on the eyeballs. Post-twenty-degrees? Break out the suntan lotion and head for the nearest nudist beach at 2AM!!!

No, I don't give a rat's patoot what the weather does... If it doesn't kill me, it simply makes me crazier. So, let's go... Let's have another blizzard or two...

(Note that below I used 'Pencil Sketch' to highlight the features of what was my usually atrocious photograph... All of that snow pile, and then some more was shoveled of the deck by moi...)

420 2015 deck snow pile pencil sketch PS_20150227041026.jpg

Ahh... the driveway...

420 car with snow piles IMG_9726.jpg

'Natch that I had to dig paths to feed the birds... Must be nice to be able to fly over this stuff...

420 feeder path IMG_9796.jpg

And finally, here's another shot of the driveway and mailbox... (Yes, there's a car behind that mound of snow!)

420 view from rd left IMG_9785.jpg

Yes, it's been a fun winter, and now I think my hernia's son, "Junior Hernia" is going to make a horror movie entitled, "I Ripped His Guts Out!!!"

I'll be the one in the body cast by the feeders...

CapeCodAlan


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February 19, 2015

Climate Change?

Hi,

(references: *Al Gore's mansion... Dubya's ranch: * Obamas' vacations using separate jets: * )

Like pretty much everyone else, I've been following the bickering over the possible existence and perhaps extent of "Man-Made Climate Change" (formerly known as "Global Warming" and before that, "Global Cooling"...) So I decided to perform a few experiments on my own. Here are some simple observations:

  • Check out the pics below

    420 2_19_15_ La Crosse IMG_9649.jpg

    420 deck temp oregon_2_19_15.jpg

    420 Direct TV Weather Nation 2_19_95_IMG_9650.jpg

    420 Weather Channel 2_19_15_IMG_9648.jpg

    From top to bottom, those temps read, 33 degrees, 28.8 degrees, 34 degrees, and 31 degrees, with the first and second coming from the front and back of my house. All observations were within two minutes of each other at roughly 2:30 AM, 2/19/15. That's quite a variety of readings for a specific area and time. To be fair, the thermometer that read 33 degrees was attached to the front of the house and the one that registered 28.8 degrees was attached to the back deck. Still, little things mean a lot.

  • Back on 2/14 at 4:10 AM, I tried a similar experiment and got 1.9 from the deck thermometer, 7 from weather.com, and 13 degrees from the front thermometer... Wow...
  • A number of years ago I tried to chart a couple seasons' worth of temperature fluctuations expecting to get the standard sinusoid cycles. Instead, what I got was two wildly different sinusoids. What had I done wrong? The years hadn't been that different from each other. I was using a quality digital thermometer and I never moved it. So why were the readings so disparate? It took me time, but then it dawned on me that I had replaced all the windows in the house and that ultimately changed the core temperature of the entire structure including the basement.
The takeaway from the experiments? Recording temperature using even 21st century equipment can be tricky, let alone early 20th century gear or worse yet the stuff of 19th century. The issue of quality and calibration of instruments must be taken into account, as does the mathematics used. So why all the hub bub?

As far as I can tell, it boils down to a number of things...

  • Yes, the climate is changing, but that shouldn't come as any great surprise.
  • "Climate Science" has not been without its scandals such as this one...
  • I'll speak the unspoken -- while there are well intentioned people out there, there also "Climate Hustlers". Al Gore and the POTUS lunge to mind... Sadly, even amongst those with the best of intentions have absolutely no clue when it comes to the math and computer models being used. (It's nice to be a computer engineer.)
The bottom line for me is that I don't know what is going on... Hence my "Climate Change Agnosticism"...

Confused by the feeders...

CapeCodAlan


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February 17, 2015

Blizzard(s) of 2015...

Hi,

This has been quite the winter. I've been digging out about four to five times per day. Below are some pics that will give you some idea of the enormity of the process...

Yeah... That's our car... I'm going to have to direct Mrs. CCA out of the driveway because the mounds of snow completely blocks her vision.

420 car IMG_9633.JPG

This is what it looked like when we looked at our deck through the slider...

420 view thru slider IMG_9425.JPG

And here's the path I dug going out to the feeders... (Note: we have the fattest, happiest birds and squirrels in town! They never went hungry, and they always had plenty of clean, unfrozen water... word to the wise.)

420 snow path better IMG_9564.JPG

Let's see... It's 9PM now, and I have two more assaults on the driveway. (I plan on the last digging at apx. 2AM.) We've endured 80" of snow and sub-zero temps... These are days (and nights) I will remember.

Think of me the next time you have a muscle ache.

Scooping by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan


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Comments

Keep the pics coming. First, it tells me you're stll alive and second, it reminds me of why I'm here.

Hi Harry,

First, thanks for your comment and readership. I certainly will try to keep the pics coming...

This last round of storms claim close to killing me. (We don't have a snow blower, so you can imagine I haven't had much time for blogging... More on that later...)

Best,

Your friend, CCA

February 12, 2015

Valentine's Day and Birds

Hi,

Well, here we go again -- it's another gift giving holiday. It seems that every other commercial on TV is for candy, or stuffed bears, or sexy negligee, or flowers, or whatever... I have a different take on the day -- give the gift of birds. There... That's short and sweet... (Please keep in mind that eBirdseed.com did NOT ask me to write this. I write from the heart... This is not the first time I've ranted about giving the gift of seed. Do you really want to drive in the muck below? Read on...)

420 deck with deep snow and noots IMG_9432.JPG

420 snow path IMG_9564.JPG

For me, Valentine's Day should reflect love, commitment, and thoughtfulness. And, IMHO, Valentine's Day is no more all about "hot monkey sex" than Christmas is all about Santa -- there is a depth to the day. I for one am sick of the commercials that dole out libidinous innuendo replete with lecherous voice overs that promise if you just buy product XYZ you'll get "lucky". (I told you eBirdseed.com didn't tell me to write this; I hope I don't get fired for this post...)

Anywho... I say, "Give the gift of a subscription for the backyard birds." Birds are tranquil, beautiful, wonderful things. But you probably already knew that or you wouldn't be reading this...

By the feeders,

CapeCodAlan


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February 6, 2015

Digging Out and Caring for your Birds...‏

Hi,

CapeCodAlan here... Yeah... We did indeed get our clock cleaned when it came to the 'Blizzard of '15'... I am truly sore from shoveling. While I pride myself on keeping in shape, 3' is a tad much. The winds and the gusts didn't help. Check out the thermometer below...

six degrees 420 DSC01633.JPG

That was last night's 1 AM reading when I went out to clear the path to the feeders I'd previously created. For those of you from warmer climes, ironically that's a great temp for me to move snow -- when dressed properly, the shoveling is quick and easy. It's the 33 degree slush crap that will break your back.

But on to the birds... There's a reason I went out at 1 AM (and just a few minutes ago...) As I see it, Mrs. CCA and I have made a deal with the birds -- they will provide us with grace, beauty, and humor, and we in turn will simply provide them with cover, good food, and clean water.

Sometimes joy isn't that tough to find, it's just tough to face...

Hanging in there by the feeders...

CapeCodAlan


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Comments

OK with therm. 6.6d but don't know what 64.8d means. Explain?

Hi Harry,

Thanks again for your readership! 6.6D was the outside temp, and 64.8 was the inside temp...

Best,

CCA

January 28, 2015

2015 Blizzard Aftermath

slider 420 IMG_9432.JPG

Yeah... I told you we were going to get our butts kicked, and we did as the pic above shows. The good news is that we have continued to keep the birds fed and watered, but the bad news is that aside from battling our way out to the feeders, we are pretty much house bound. I tried to start digging us out, but the snow has drifted so deep that I can't even find my shovel. Observations:

  • When it comes to your feathered friends, be ready for emergencies like this storm. The excuse, "I ran out of seed" is a sad one. Always have a backup plan...
  • In the case of this storm, I'd say always work in pairs... I fell (plunged) into roughly 4' of snow and had a hellacious time just getting back on my feet. Obviously, a healthy person can rise, but it takes energy... A stout 6' walking stick or snow shovel would go a long ways...
  • Spend as much money as you have to to prepare for this sort of event. Of special importance:
    • Gloves: Check the Web and Amazon and find out what folks who ride snow machines wear...
    • Bibs... See above...
    • Boots... See above...
    • Goggles... See above...
    • Undergarments... See above...
    • (Are you noticing a pattern here? Read that as, "Money doesn't matter when you're cold!)
  • Buy several quality snow shovels and station them strategically and secure them completely. I just quit when I couldn't find mine -- it's been buried by snow...
  • Make plans and then make them again. The results might just surprise you...
  • Get as much sleep as possible -- you're going to need it...

Half buried by the feeders...

CapeCodAlan


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