Sunday, August 31, 2008

EpiCattleya Siam Jade

EpiCattleya Siam Jade. This one is so fragrant I had take it out of my office! One of the gals at work happily volunteered to have it in her office. I have it back in the greenhouse now.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Tis The Season

Cattleya harrisoniana 'Volcano Queen', sometimes known as Cattleya loddigesii variety harrisoniae. These plants produce tall stems of fragrant lavender flowers. I just crossed this one with C. loddigesii var harrisoniae 'Streeter's Choice'. They both have fairly different flowers and some people think Streeter's Choice is a hybrid. In theory, the offspring should show a fair amount of variation if that is the case. Either way, the greenhouse is full of wonderful, fragrant orchids right now. It seems that the summer heat pushed a bunch of them into bloom!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Snippets from the Greenhouse

This fragrant beauty is Cattleya grossii. It's really quite beautiful, especially as its waxy sheen reflects the somewhat gaudy raspberry spots and veins in the afternoon sun. I pollinated this one to send seed to Meyer's conservatory so others can share in the fun.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Surfbird! (Aphriza virgata)

Aphriza virgata, the Surfbird! This little waterfowl was nesting high up on one of the hills in the Prince William Sound. It flew away from its nest when we came hiking by (with black labrador in tow) but we could hear it keening in the distance over and over again as if calling to it's soon to hatch chicks. The keening was quite loud and seemingly echoed among the quiet hillsides.

Given the bears and foxes up there, it's amazing to me that these little guys survive nesting out in the open. However, I will note that they are almost invisible, readily blending into the moss. Momma surfbird came back to her nest shortly thereafter and we managed to restrain the dog and carefully, ever so carefully creep close enough for a picture. She blends so well, her picture almost fell victim to my culling to get more space on the memory card but, luckily, here she is.

I'm Not Proud

Cascade, Barry and Coxe Glaciers in the Prince William Sound, Alaska. It is an awesome experience to be up close and personal with those glaciers. The silence broken by the crackle and roar as they calve off huge chunks of ice and your kayak rolls in the resulting wave that blazes through the bay! Wow.

So I dropped a class. I think this is the first time ever. Me, the wonder student. Mr. Smarty pants himself. I stared at the syllabus several times over and, while I really wanted to take that class, I decided I just didn't have the time to do it. Defeat? ...or maybe just some respect for my personal sanity. What's it competing with? The day job, the "night job", the other 9 credits of law courses, the orchid habit, the photo habit and some small modicum of social life. Did I do the right thing? Yeah, I guess so... Happy Thursday! I have to go write out some bills (bleah).

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I passed!!

I passed! Yay! I need to do some reading for class tonight so maybe more pics later.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Test Tomorrow!!

Tomorrow is the big day. I'm taking the Patent Bar! IF I pass, I'll be able to file patents for people. Cool huh? Well, I'll be able to file patents for my employer anyhow. Wish me luck!!!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunny Days!

It's been gorgeous and sunny in San Diego. Excellent beach weather. What the heck am I doing at home studying anyhow? Big test on Tuesday. Yeah, I'm worried about it or I wouldn't be sitting at home studying all week. Wish me luck. Hate to miss all those beach days for nothing, eh? At least these two were having fun. Maybe some of it will rub off.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Wings of Fury

A picture of a Least Tern flying right towards the camera. Peppy little guys and amazing to watch diving for fish. Oh, and this bird is alive and well. No stuffed birds here. Stuffing free zone.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Too Stuffed to Matter?

Lest you think I am talking about over-indulging at dinner, here is a picture of a stuffed Emperor Penguin chick at the Natural History Museum. I don't know how that chick and his Mom got there but I suspect that there were two live penguins when it started. [Could they have salvaged two dead ones? Perhaps...] I suppose, if I had to pick, I prefer Zoos for that reason. Zoos attempt to breed and increase the population of endagered species, albeit in captivity and admittedly, only some zoos. Museums get animals and stuff them. Don't get me wrong, there is a place for both but I can't help but feel a little sad when I see all these magnificent wild animals posed and stuffed. It's just a little creepy... On the flip side, I met a woman in the Chicago Field Museum that was painting three dramatically posed antelope and she was simply thrilled to death that you could get animals in such amazing poses for her to paint. Where do you stand? To stuff or not to stuff?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Stanhopea connata

Wow. People see orchids in the grocery store, the hardware store, the drug store...but not like this! This is a Stanhopea connata. The flowers are large, waxy and extremely fragrant. Each specie in the genus has it's own unique lip structure, it's own unique smell and it's own unique bee that pollinates it. The flowers smell so strong you can smell them at 100 feet off. Unfortunately, they only last for a few days (or fortunately in the case of some of the stinkier ones). This one is blooming in my greenhouse right now! Wowzers...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Cattleya leopoldii variety alba

Cattleya leopoldii variety alba. This was sold for years as Cattleya guttata variety leopoldii fma alba but the splitters won out and it is now it's own species. The alba form is particularly attractive with clear green sepals and petals. This one is blooming in my greenhouse right now!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Okay, pop quiz time. Who remembers the names of the characters in "Finding Nemo?" Let's say: Nemo's Dad, His Mom, and the blue tang/girl-fish-friend?

When I went by the Percula clownfish, I could hear all the little kids saying, "NEMO!!!" in excited tones. That movie was a while ago and they still remember! It must have made quite the impression. In fact, I halfway expect them to change the name to Amphiprion nemoensis (aka, the Nemo-clown)! How's that for snotty scientific humor? Did they know, when they made the movie, that they would be stigmatizing an entire species for the next 10 years? Hahah!

Yes, yes, it was a NICE movie. Really cute...and, yes, I did go and I enjoyed it. There! I've said it! Hahah! Okay, here are the nemo trivia answers: Dad: Marlin; Mom: Coral; Girlfishfriend: Dory...and the bird (albatross?) was named Nigel!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Pacific White-Sided Dolphin

Pacific White-Sided Dolphin, Lagenorhynchus obliquidens. These dolphins reach a approximately 7 ft. in length and are often found in pods up to 100 individuals. They range up and down the West coast from Northern Baja to Alaska (and as far as Japan, where they are occasionally caught for food...). They live on schooling fish such as anchovies and squid and supposedly feed at night. This one was passing by to take a peak.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Placoderm to You Too!

This is a fossil of the plated head of Dunkleosteus terrelli, a Placoderm fish from the Devonian period some 417-354 million years ago. Dunkleosteus grew up to 20 feet long and were one of the earliest large vertebrate predators. Overall, meeting a Dunkleosteus looks every bit as unpleasant as meeting a hungry shark.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


One for you dino-lovers. This one is Herrerasaurus. The good folks at the Chicago Field Museum did an amazingly good job of creating this mock up. Of course, we'll never really know what they looked like or even just what color they were!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Tricolored Blackbird

Lest you birders feel left out, here is a picture of a Tricolored Blackbird, Agelaius tricolor, checking me out outside of the Field Museum.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Ornate Cowfish

Ornate Cowfish, Aracana ornata at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. This one's for my fish-loving friend, Jen! Congratulations on the move to Oahu! Don't forget to check out the tame turtles in Haleiwa when you're there!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Lined Butterflyfish

Lined Butterflyfish, Chaetodon lineolatus. They have these on the reef in Hawaii were they live on little critters and crustaceans. This one was at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. They have a no flash policy so most of the photos were taken at ASA1600 which means they're pretty grainy and pretty dark. Still, it's not too bad considering.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Okay, so I forgot to jot down the name...but here's a really cool turtle from the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. If you know what it is, let me know!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Sue T-Rex

Wouldn't you know it but Win Vista has a very simple photo editor built in. Here's a picture of Lucy the T-Rex at the Chicago Field Museum. I've wanted to see the Field Museum ever since I saw the huge dinosaur (some cousin of a brontosaur or another) next to United Customer Service in O'Hare. Now that is quite an advertisement! Overall, I'm not too fond of stuffed dead animals but I really enjoyed the fossils and minerals. Imagine what Sue was like when she was alive!

Seagate FreeAgent Problem (Apparently) Solved

If you're wondering why I haven't posted any pictures for a while, it's because the drive with my photos on it was on the fritz. I have a Seagate 750GB FreeAgent drive. It started acting a little flakey, having problems with large writes (aka camera downloads) and the problem just got worse as time went on. Note to the wise: if your drive starts acting flakey, copy everying off as soon as possible!! I stopped putting new stuff on there but didn't get everything off in a timely manner. The data transfers, meanwhile, got more and more flakey until finally they didn't transfer at all. I tried calling Seagate who sold me a useless piece of $120 software that did absolutely nothing (yes, it was a hardware problem with the USB interface but I hadn't figured that out yet). I tried calling disk recovery specialists who wanted to charge anywhere from $800 to $2800. I tried searching Google a little further and came up with the idea of trying the Firewire interface instead of the USB interface since the data appeared to be intact and the data transfer seemed to be the sole problem. I swapped out the USB interface module for the FireWire interface module (when I finally found it buried in a drawer) and voila, everything is working just fine. I'm busy moving files over as we speak. It will be some hours before everything is transferred over so I have my fingers crossed. So far, anyhow, everything is working flawlessly. Now that the disk appears to be working again, the question is do I keep on using the Seagate? Remember the old saying, "fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me!" Thoughts?

Meanwhile, in all the commotion, I bought a new computer and a new external drive from HP. The photo editor software, as you might guess, does not work on Vista so I'll have to upgrade. So, for you photo fans, my apologies but no photos until everything is moved over and I get a photo editor of some sort installed. I'm still taking pictures, mind you. I have some fun ones from Chicago including pictures of Lucy the T-Rex. Of course, they're just building up on the new hard disk. Both the new internal and the new external are 750GB big so hopefully that will last a while and I won't be in the awkward position of having to write to only one of the disks again. I tried to get a TByte drive but HP has this nifty little portable drive slot and drives that fit it that only go up to 750GB. It's going to have to do. It's that or I go easy on the camera...

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Chicago Summer Storms

I flew into Chicago Monday night. Within about 30 minutes after the plane landed, a huge storm lit up sky. The sirens wailed amid tornado warnings and lightning strikes hit all around the city. I've never seen anything quite like it. The storm lasted late into the night and the thunder roared among the huge skyscrapers like cannon fire. The rain came down in waves and the roads flowed like rivers. It's been nice since but wow, that was quite a storm.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Technical Difficulties with FreeAgent Drive

Sorry, no pictures for now. My FreeAgent Drive is on the blink and I'm busy trying to recover pictures. Argh. The system is attempting to do mirrored writes even after I tried to uninstall the backup. Go figure. Wish me luck.