Cat vs Bear

Who says cats can’t protect us from wildlife attacks? In this video, a house cat chases away a hungry bear from a woman’s porch. That is one brave cat!

[via Holger on FB]


In the garden – video

This morning, I took my trusty Olympus C-770UZ into our garden here in Romania and shot some video footage in super macro mode. I love the bokeh I get that way, and how close I can get to things.

I found an iridescent beetle sunning itself on some parsley leaves, a butterfly resting on some spinach leaves, two beetles getting it on, a bee collecting pollen on a squash flower, ants drinking nectar on a raspberry blossom, and more.

See the video on SmugMug, Vimeo or YouTube.


Green heron chicks in the parking lot

Guess what I saw in the parking lot at work? Fledging green heron chicks [reference]. (My thanks to Jorge for identifying them properly.)

I’d noticed the herons flying in and out at times during the past few months, but never even heard or saw the chicks before this, so I didn’t know they’d nested there. Around lunchtime, my colleagues told me they’d seen them, and even showed me photos they took with their cellphones, so I went outside and took a few of my own with my DSLR.

There weren’t just one or two, but six or seven of these little green heron chicks, standing about in the parking lot, unsure of themselves, eyeing me warily, wondering what I wanted to do with them. I guess it was their time to get weaned, so their parents either kicked them out of the nest, or they jumped out by themselves.

According to Wikipedia, they leave the nest at 16 days of age, and can’t fully fend for themselves until they’re 30-35 days of age. This means they’re going to be vulnerable to predators until then, and may even die of starvation if they can’t figure out how to get their food.

Photos taken in McLean, VA. Here’s hoping they’ll make it!


Goodbye little bird, goodbye

As I was about to walk into work at the start of May, I saw a little bird on the ground, trying to walk but unable to do so. The poor thing was convulsing, and its head kept rotating wildly. Two other birds were nearby, a blue thrush, and an orange-chested robin. At first I thought they’d ganged up on the poor little bird, but no, they were concerned and eyed me with fear, worried that I’d hurt it.

They didn’t have to worry about me. I picked it up and held it in my hands, hoping it would recover. I sat down on a bench and waited for about 10 minutes, and the little bird was thankful. It nested in my hand. Its eyes would close, then open again, and its breathing was heavy while its little beak was wide open. It was obvious that it had problems breathing. What had probably happened is that it flew into one of the windows, but really slammed into it. It seems to happen most every day at work, but the other birds are fine — slightly dazed, but otherwise okay. It wasn’t so with this poor little bird. It had suffered major internal injury. There were little stains of blood on my hand.

The human in me wanted to nestle it in my hands until it recovered, but the photographer in me quickly grabbed the camera and took a few photos. I couldn’t change lenses, and I had to use my wide-angle 24mm, which was already mounted on my 5D. Now I’m so glad I took the photos, because they’re the only things I have left to remind me of it.

Goodbye, little bird, goodbye

Since the little bird wasn’t getting any better, I figured I’d take it upstairs to my office and keep it safe there for at least part of the day. I was worried that it would make a quick meal for cats or hawks. Upstairs, I tried to give it some water, but it didn’t want to drink. Its condition was getting worse by the minute. I held it in my hand as it breathed its last breath. Needless to say, I don’t count that day as one of my happiest. Later, I took it outside and buried it at the root of this tree:

Under the sun

Goodbye, little bird. Goodbye. Rest in peace.


Condensed knowledge for 2007-06-01

Here are the weekend-ready goodies:

  • MS releases the Surface touchscreen computer. Previously code-named Milan, this puppy is manipulated using our hands — no mouse, no keyboard. You might say, whoopee, these displays have been around for years. True, but this is the first time they’re coming to the mass market, and what sets this device apart is that it interacts automatically with other wireless devices. If you put your wireless camera on the Surface, it’ll know to download all of the photos from the camera, wirelessly. If you put your cellphone on it, and it’s got a wireless connection, you can then drag that same photo to your cellphone. Same thing with videos. The built-in, automatic interaction is really, really cool.
  • Have you heard about the MINI Cooper D? It’s a sweet little car! (I have the Cooper S myself, but I’m already drooling for the D). The revised model will get up to 72.4 mpg! Wow!
  • Xerox has developed paper that you can re-use up to 50 times. You can print on it using UV rays, but the characters will start to fade after 24 hours, and when they’re completely faded, you can use it again. Now that’s what I call recycling!
  • A completely innocent American was arrested, handcuffed to a pillar, his feet were chained, and he was interrogated by the Secret Service, all for trying to pay with legal, new $2 bills. The man went to Best Buy to pay an outstanding balance for a stereo installation on his son’s car (after the store promised him it would be free, but charged him regardless), and when he decided to pay it with $2 bills, the clerk called the police, who then took him into custody and interrogated him. What’s more, he was handcuffed inside the store, in full view of everyone! Here’s my take on this… First, I don’t like Best Buy, because their prices are always higher than Circuit City and CompUSA. Second, their employees are rude and haven’t got a clue about the technology they sell. Third, that pathetic cashier owes the man a huge apology. Fourth, that cop who hancuffed and arrested the man shouldn’t be on the force. His powers of judgment are obviously subpar and he has no common sense. And fifth, the excuse of the police spokesman, Bill Toohey, is absolutely inadequate: “It’s a sign that we’re a little nervous in a post 9/11 world.” Just what does a $2 bill have to do with 9/11? That was their apology to the man? That’s it?!
  • The Rattlebuster is a really cool CD that plays vibration-inducing sounds at certain frequencies, helping you pinpoint the annoying rattles and vibrations in your car’s interior. As a MINI owner who’s had a persistent rattle in his dashboard for the past four years, a rattle that countless trips to the dealership couldn’t resolve, I can safely say that every MINI dealership ought to make this product a standard part of their diagnostic procedures.
  • Richard Marcus wrote a really nice piece for BlogCritics detailing what happens to the water in our environment when all of the medications that we take pass from our bodies into the sewers, then into lakes and rivers. The effects of the metabolized drugs on wildlife are shocking, and do not bode well for us, either.
  • Want to know the top ten passwords people use? Have a look at this, and try not to use one of them yourself, eh?
  • It pays to know your photographer’s rights!
  • Steve Jobs and Bill Gates met on the same stage and talked publicly for the first time in decades. What’s more, they complimented each other! 🙂
  • This is why I think public education is getting to be rotten to the core. The public school system endorses events like the one where Joel Becker (irresponsible dolt extraordinaire) from UCLA speak their dirty minds. This dude actually advised kids as young as 12 years old to have sex, do drugs and masturbate… Kids were forced to attend this event by their school, and it was only months after the fact, when pressed repeatedly by parents for an explanation and apology, that they admitted the subject matter was inappropriate. I have to wonder, where is our responsibility as adults to educate our children properly? How can we let the school system continue to chip away at the values we try to instill in our kids? How screwed up is this world when a person as irresponsible as Joel Becker is not only allowed to hold a professorship at UCLA, but also allowed to expound on the virtues of sex and drugs to young, impressionable children?
  • Hey, look, Screaming Beans! 🙂
  • A new spoofing/phishing technique has been spotted in the wild, where some sort of DLL attaches itself to IE, and when people surf legitimate URLs (like their bank website or PayPal), they get asked for unusual extra, private information. This thing isn’t yet detectable by anti-virus/anti-spyware programs, so be sure to follow this story as it develops. And if you get asked some strange questions the next time you visit your bank’s site, don’t answer them, call the bank to verify why they need that information.