Monday, October 31, 2011


(Photo courtesy of Wayne Matchett)

Monday, September 5, 2011

It must be Fall

It's not cool in the mornings yet, but it must be Fall - the agenda for the 16th Annual Sea-Bean Symposium has been published. Mark your calendars for October 21 and 22, Cocoa Beach Library. More about the program, the speakers, the t-shirt (a Dawn Witherington original - the art shown here is on the pocket), and the fun later, but meanwhile, follow the link below for more information.

16th Annual Sea-Bean Symposium

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Good Night (Hurricane) Irene

We are so fortunate that Hurricane Irene's path changed during the week and took her east of Brevard's coastline - she will pass about 200 miles offshore late tonight and tomorrow morning. We're having rain squalls and wind gusts, and I'm sure it will get worse, but all in all, we've dodged another bullet. The photo above is from the NASA web site, with a description as follows:

NASA's Terra satellite captured a visible image of Hurricane Irene's eye
directly over Crooked Island in the southern Bahamas on August 24, 2011 at 12:15
p.m. EDT.Credit: NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response

Seas are forecast to be 10-15 feet just offshore and there will be beach erosion (hopefully not much, what with sea turtle nests all over the place), higher than average tides, and rip currents. I thought you might be interested in a couple of web cams that will show you what a hurricane the size and intensity of Irene (Category 3 right now, and a huge footprint) can do, even a couple of hundred miles away.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Welcome Home, Atlantis!

Space shuttle Atlantis touched down at 5:57 a.m. at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the final time. STS-135 was the 33rd and final flight for Atlantis, which has spent 307 days in space, orbited Earth 4,848 times and traveled 125,935,769 miles. Those are pretty amazing statistics. The end of an era.

(Image courtesy of NASA/Kim Shiflett)

Monday, July 11, 2011

My favorite launch photos

The low-hanging clouds did not make for great viewing of Friday's launch, but it made for a great photograph. I love this view, with the launch pads and the beach and the ocean and the marshes. (NASA photo)

The Max Brewer Bridge leading to the Space Center had a few people on it watching the launch! (NASA photo)

Friday, July 8, 2011

We have liftoff

After a nearly perfect countdown on a day when the rain stayed away just long enough, we had a beautiful final shuttle launch. Godspeed, Atlantis! Job well done, NASA and contractors.
Photo credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
July 8, 2011

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Countdown to launch

Space shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to lift off 11:26 a.m. EDT tomorrow, Friday, July 8, but it looks as though rain may interfere with the launch plans. Meanwhile, friend David McRee, Blog the Beach, sent the following link to a 360 degree view of the space shuttle Discovery's flight deck. Cool stuff!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Thanks to all who have served

(From Robin Chapman's postcard collection)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Rescue Organizations

There are so many worthwhile animal rescue organizations that it's difficult to decide which ones to support. Many of us support local one - for example, I belong to and support our local Sea Turtle Preservation Society. But I also admire and support a horse rescue organization in Washington State that I learned about from Cactus Jack Splash (see Reference Links below).

A few months ago, friend Marilyn, traveled to Colombia to learn more about the Cotton-top Tamarin Monkey rescue foundation. When next we met, she brought along two items the rescue foundation sells as fundraisers - a mochila (a traditional bag used in Columbia shown here) crafted by hand from recycled plastic bags (I've ordered mine), and a stuffed toy tamarin. Last week, she forwarded their newsletter. This is an interesting study/rescue effort, with some impressive credentials and sponsors, and I think you'll enjoy reading about it. See Reference Links below for a link to their excellent web site. As their home page notes, Cotton-top Tamarins are an endangered species of primate found only in the tropical forests of Colombia. Interesting stuff, and gives us a perspective about the need to conserve species world-wide. (Images from Proyecto Titi web site)

Reference Links:

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Welcome Home, Endeavour!

The always-welcome (even at 2:30 a.m.) twin sonic booms signaled the final approach. Endeavour landed at 2:35 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, June 1, 2011, wrapping up the STS-134 mission. (Photo courtesy of NASA)

Kennedy Space Center has been designated as Endeavour's "forever home" - so her safe arrival was even more special.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Fly United

We've had a record-breaking invasion of lovebugs this year. For those of you unfamiliar with lovebugs, they swarm twice a year, in April -May and August - September. This year, their swarming is almost like a snowstorm - they are ALL OVER THE PLACE. They don't bite, but they can sure mess up a car in a hurry - their bodies are acidic and thus bad for the paint, and they clog up radiators. They are called lovebugs because during and after mating, they remain coupled, even during flight. This year, instead of staying along the Interstate, they've blanketed the beachside also, and you can imagine what happens if you've just put on sunscreen :) Co-workers from Ohio were down last week, staying at a hotel in Indialantic, and they mentioned that the buildings and pool were covered with them. One of the hotel employees told them that the love bugs were genetically enhanced by the University of Florida to eat mosquitoes - I laughed, as I'd never heard that, and I assured them it was not true. But when I was looking in Wikipedia for some background information on lovebugs, sure enough, that tale is identified as an urban myth! Friend Margie sent the above pix from Cocoa Beach - her buggy covered with bugs, scum lines everywhere a wave left them when the tide started out, and a closeup. As she says, a photo does not do them justice, but you get the idea. (Click to enlarge)

I have not done much except work recently, but fortunately, friends are being more creative. Vickie has done a beautiful, educational, fascinating series about bluebirds. Robin has done a couple of very entertaining stories about the Schwarzenegger flail (the May 17 post is particularly good). Far ends of the spectrum in terms of topic, but both of these ladies are exceptionally good writers, and I hope you'll follow the links in Reference Links below. Carolyn writes her ... hive of silvery bees blog from my home state of South Dakota - few words, but wonderful photos with perfect captions. I particularly enjoyed her post about the Native American ceremony held prior to high school graduation. And Wayne continues to photograph and document our Brevard County wildflowers.

So far so good with Endeavour - we'll look forward to the sonic booms announcing her arrival home May 31. Brevard County has been designated as her permanent home, which will make it doubly special.

Reference Links:
Vickie Henderson Art
Robin Chapman News
..a Hive of Silvery Bees
Space Coast Wildflowers

Monday, May 16, 2011


Like many, I watched the launch on TV, then raced outdoors to see what I could see from 40 miles south of the Cape. It was a picture-perfect day, a picture-perfect launch, and so far so good. Space shuttle Endeavour and its crew of six astronauts are headed for space, ready to begin their 16-day mission to the International Space Station.

I went to the site to see if they had any launch pix posted yet - they didn't, but on their home page, there was an excellent photo of the Mississippi River flooding taken from the Space Station.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Tax Man Cometh

Photo by Jim Angy, but I rescued the turtle in 2009.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Welcome Home, Discovery

Right before noon today, welcome sonic booms signaled the return of the Shuttle Discovery to Kennedy Space Center. Touchdown was a few minutes later. This was the 39th and final voyage of Discovery. Follow the Reference Link below for an excellent story of the personal ties KSC personnel have to the shuttle program.

Reference Link:

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Rest in peace, Miss Kitty

I adopted Miss Kitty just one short year ago; she was a ten-year old cat that needed a home, and I really needed a cat, although I didn't know it at the time. It took a couple of months before she started to smile, but from then on, she was one happy cat and a wonderful friend. She and Sugar (my Italian Greyhound) apparently had an agreement - no interaction, but no disagreements. Sugar goes upstairs to bed about 7:00, and Miss Kitty would then spend the rest of the evening trying to herd me to the recliner to watch television so she could sit on my lap. Another favorite place to lounge was the pass-through between the kitchen and the dining/living room - she could watch everything from one spot.

When she stopped eating and drinking nine days ago, I hoped it was just a bad tooth or something, but x-rays, blood work, and a sonogram revealed an egg-sized tumor in her intestine that had finally taken over. Surgery was unlikely to help, and her health and quality of life had deteriorated significantly, so she was euthanized on Wednesday. She'll be cremated and join her predecessors in the Safari Room/Mausoleum. Today I packed away litter box, food, afghan, and heated mat. But I've left the indention on the couch cushion where she loved to sleep. I'll vacuum up the cat hair and fluff up the cushion some day. Just not now.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Safe Journey, Discovery

27 years old, its 39th (and last) liftoff, Discovery leapt off the pad like a youngster, headed for the International Space Station with six astronauts and one robonaut aboard. (Photo courtesy of NASA)

As the Orlando Sentinel noted, The launch marks the beginning of the end of the space-shuttle program, 30 years after NASA began launching reusable, do-all spaceships into orbit to do everything from launching satellites to building the space station itself. After Endeavour in April and Atlantis – now set for June – NASA will have no manned-space rocket for the first time in 60 years.

There is, of course, much sadness associated with these final flights, but at least for today, let's just salute the greatness of the program and the thousands of people that have participated in it.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Up to my eyeballs in alligators!

(Photo by Matt MacQueen)

I'm hopelessly behind in my blog posting - computer problems (fixed, thank goodness), and up to my eyeballs in alligators at work (it's an old aerospace saying - when you're up to your eyeballs in alligators, it's hard to remember that your objective is to drain the swamp).
Meanwhile, there's some good news on the critter front. Vickie reports from Tennessee that there will be no sandhill crane hunting for two years, pending further studies (see Reference Links below for the complete story). Vickie has waged a tireless battle for years on behalf of whooping cranes and now the sandhill cranes. If you have not wandered through her blog to look at her art, greeting cards, gourd art, etc - DO!
More good critter news - the right whale I wrote of in the previous post was successfully untangled. (In answer to Kelly's question, it is a Right Whale, not a Wright Whale - whalers thought they were the "right" ones to hunt. Kelly likes alliteration :)
Not such good news is the cold weather impact on the manatees and sea turtles. And from my perspective, the news out of Gatorland that they are adding a zip line is a bummer.
Friends continue to do wonderful things. Two of Jim Angy's sea turtle photos were used in National Wildlife Federation report on the status of sea turtles - one on the cover! This 20-page report is chock-full of sea turtle data. See Reference Links below for a link to it. - you can download a copy from the NWF site. I'm eagerly awaiting the Birds of Viera Wetlands Birding Guide developed by Charlie Corbeil. I've seen the draft, and he writes that it has been printed and my copy is in the mail. Matt MacQueen won first place in the Living Wild category of the Florida Wildlife magazine for his photo of a frog on a lily. Wayne Matchett's presentation of Wildflowers of Wickham Park to members of the Conradina Chapter of the Native Plant Society was beautiful and informative. Talented friends, indeed!
The Birding and Wildlife Festival was a big success, according to the reports of friends that attended - I missed it this year, but apparently some 4,500 people attended. Florida Cracker made the trip over from Florida's west coast to the Festival to meet Julie Zickefoose - follow the link below to his Pure Florida blog for an account of the get-together.
Stay warm.
Reference Links:
Vickie Henderson - A New Plan for the Eastern Population of Sandhill Cranes
NWF Report - Sea Turtle Homecoming, Class of 2010: A Proactive Coastal Conservation Agenda for Florida
Pure Florida - Why I Went to the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival

Sunday, January 16, 2011

It's Right Whale Season

I was pondering what to blog about this weekend when a most interesting email arrived from Arnold Dubin describing the on-going rescue of a Right Whale tangled in commercial fishing lines. Arnold gave me permission to use his description, as follows:

This morning, I received a call from Julie Albert, who is in charge of the local Right Whale Monitoring Program. They spotted a Right Whale swimming south of Melbourne Beach. This specific Right Whale was tangled with commercial fishing lines, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation people were trying to remove them from her. They connected a couple of buoys to the Whale to try to slow it down, but that didn't seem to work, at least for the time we were observing it. They also had a spotter plane keeping track of the whale. I was able photograph this Right Whale with one buoy connected to it and a V-shape Blow. This whale was swimming about 3 MPH in a south east direction. Their normal speed is usually 1 mph. As you can see from my pictures, this whale was pretty far from the shore line. (See Reference Links below for link to Arnold's web site with photos of Right Whale rescue event.)
Earlier this month, I had received a notice from the aforementioned Julie Albert, Right Whale Program Coordinator for the Marine Resources Council, describing their new blog (see Reference Links below), upcoming classes, and the first Right Whale sighting of 2011 on January 4. For those readers local to Brevard County, there are classes and opportunities to help in the monitoring program. (I don't yet know what happened to the Right Whale in jeopardy, but I expect it will be discussed in the MRC blog and I'll update this post then.)
My thanks to Arnold for sharing his experience and his photos with us. Be sure to read the "About Me" section of Arnold's web site. He describes trying to improve his photos via PhotoShop, but finally decided he just needed to take better pictures to start with! He's an officer in the Camera Club of Brevard and has won numerous prizes and awards in recent years.
Reference Links
Arnold Dubin Photography
Right Whale Monitoring Blog (Marine Resources Council)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

I personally like vultures, but ...

Many of you that read this blog also follow Florida Cracker (aka FC) and his blog, Pure Florida (see Reference Links below). He recently posted about rescuing a vulture and trying to find a wildlife rehab facility open over the holiday. It was the first time I'd ever given much thought to what a vulture must smell like, given its favorite food - road kill. You'll want to read FC's clever post to find out, but don't do it while eating dinner. Gotta love a guy that will go out of his way to help a vulture! (Photo by Jim Angy. Note that this is a turkey vulture. The one FC and his dog, Bear, rescued was a black vulture. )

The "vulture" in this photo overlooks my dining room table. Her name is I-Lean. I got her from a Martha Steward catalog (pre-jail, so it's been about 8 years ago). I-Lean gets a little santa hat and a stocking with a toy mouse in it for Christmas. The good part is that she fits right in with the current wetlands decor. Actually, she fits right in with any decor - vultures are like that.

Reference Links

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A hunting season for sandhill cranes? Just say NO!

For several weeks, friend Vickie Henderson has been lobbying against a plan in Tennessee that would allow a hunting season for sandhill cranes. This past week, Julie Zickefoose also posted about the plan, urging folks from all over to raise their voices against this. Links to both sites are included in Reference Links below. Even if you don't live in Tennessee, feel free to express your thoughts. (Photo by Jim Angy)

Reference Links:
Vickie Henderson Art
Julie Zickefoose