Return of the Bufflehead Ring-Necked Duck. Or Maybe It’s A Scaup.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016, 12:56

There’s a pond that I often go by on my morning walks. Every year there’s at least one pair of mallard ducks that set up housekeeping and raise a family. Last year there were two families. But several years ago the mallards were joined by a small diving duck with a black head and black and white body, which I (mis)identified as a bufflehead. Loren pointed out my mis-identification, noting that it was likely a scaup or a ring-necked duck.. I liked that duck – it almost looked like a toy next to the mallards. It spent the winter diving in that shallow pond for whatever diving ducks dive for, but there was no sign of it the next winter. I thought maybe I saw it once or twice on a larger pond a couple of miles away, but I was never sure. But when I walked by this morning, there amongst the mallards was a little black and white duck. I snapped a photo with my iPhone:

image

WordPress scaled the image down and it’s fuzzy, but click on it and you’ll see a better image. It’s at the top, above the mallards. Watching it for a few minutes, I realized that while it tends to hang around with the mallards, the mallards don’t particularly like it, and they’ll try to chase it away when it gets too close – nothing too intense, just a swift swim-by. Then order will reassert itself and the ring-necked duck/scaup will hang around like a pesky kid brother until it gets accosted again. I don’t know why I especially like that little duck, but I do. I hope it hangs around all winter.

Category : Birds, Walks

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Time

Sunday, 24 January 2016, 20:07

greenwood_arches1

There’s an old cemetery that I’ve walked through on occasion – a couple of times when I was helping to clean up and plant some antique roses among the headstones, a couple of times when I was just walking around. The cemetery dates back to the 1820s, and holds the remains of several Mississippi governors and other notables, including those of Eudora Welty. There’s also a section of unknown Confederate soldiers. The cemetery lies in sight of Mississippi’s State Capitol building and other state office buildings, but it’s surprisingly unknown to many people. One gray January afternoon a few years ago I was wandering through some of the older parts of the cemetery and happened to notice something at the base of a large tree. When I looked closer, I saw that it was an old headstone.

tree_and_headstonegray

I’ve thought about that headstone many times since. It’s almost a parable about our relationship to the world in which we live. Or at least, a reference to Ecclesiastes Chapter 1:

What do people gain from all their labors
at which they toil under the sun?
Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever.
.
.
.
What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.

In the end, the trees win. Time wins. Time always wins.

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I Know…

Thursday, 21 January 2016, 22:16

this theme looks horrible. I’ll fix it.

Category : BlogStuff

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Days Of Future Past

Thursday, 21 January 2016, 21:24

TWA Terminal, JFK

Once upon a time, there was an airline called Trans World Airlines, or TWA. And once upon a time, this airline built a futuristic terminal in New York’s John F. Kennedy airport, just in time for the New York World’s Fair.

It was a different time in America, a time when architecture made grand statements about more than just the prospective content of the building. And this terminal definitely made a statement. Even during construction, it was distinctive:

Now, I hate flying through JFK, based on admittedly a small sample size (going to England last summer and coming back). The terminal we went through was hot, the security lines were very slow (and hot!), the lines were long. But I would have loved to go through the TWA terminal. It was just such a cool place, and from what I’ve read was pretty well designed, able to move passengers through rather efficiently. (Of course, in the 1960s there were fewer passengers to handle!). In other places, the red carpet and seats might seem too much, but in this place they were perfect:

Unfortunately, it closed when TWA disappeared in 2001. Recently Jet Blue announced they were going to develop what’s left into a hotel (apparently some parts have been torn down), and hopefully they’ll preserve the look and feel, but it won’t be the same. Fortunately there are several sites that have made photographic explorations of it and preserved the terminal in it’s modernistic glory. Here’s one, with lots of pictures:

Explore the TWA Terminal, a Pristine Time Capsule From 1962

Up, up, and away!

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Wondering Why I’m Here – A Blog Examines Itself

Tuesday, 19 January 2016, 11:35

Please shut up: Why self-promotion as an author doesn’t work.

This is so true. Now, I’m neither an author nor a reviewer, so my thoughts here are really in foreign territory (unless I do manage to finish my latest project and it does something other that occupy bits on my laptop). But my blog will soon be 13 years old, and it sits in lonely isolation along with thousands of others like it. I miss blogging. I really do. Facebook is starting to feel like those places you went post-college that you one day realized just weren’t that much fun anymore. I tried Tumblr, and my reaction was like Dawson’s – I felt like an intruder, an old guy sitting in a college bar. Twitter consists of people burning up their creative energy trying to fit a 144-character limit.

So why keep this around? Because Facebook. Because Twitter. Because Tumblr. Because even if nobody ever sees this, it’s one place that I can control. It’s one place where I’m not inundated with “YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!!”. It’s like a potting shed where I can go plant ideas, or just putter the afternoon away. It’s mine.

Blogging made people think in terms longer than 144 characters, or spout platitudes in comments, or hoist endless straw men. The audiences were much smaller, of course. A Facebook post reaches far more people than my blog ever did, although with Facebook’s continual changes I feel like the number of Facebook readers is getting smaller. Facebook has also made me realize that some people I’ve known through the internet for many years are essentially brainless morons. No, I won’t name names. But while the Facebook audience is larger, it isn’t more satisfying. Maybe I keep The Kudzu Files around in case one day people just get tired of the inanity of FaceTumTwittergram and blogging comes back around. Or maybe it’s just easier to keep it than to decide not to.

I should do this more. It’s made me feel better just by doing it.

Category : BlogStuff, Writing

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