Thursday, February 12, 2015

02_04_to_08_2015 Blurry Blog Post from DC - Work and the Museum of Natural History

I headed back to DC for some work at American University recently. It was an early bus (5:36am blargy), and a 7:57am flight, but it was nice to get to National Airport pretty early on a gorgeous day.
It was in the 50s, sunny and awesome. It got colder after this...but considering I left a big fat snow storm back home, I was happy to be in the 50s.
My first day, I went to American's School of Public Affairs where I gave a guest lecture in a Research Methods class. The students were excellent, attentive and asked great questions. Plus it's helpful that they laughed at my lame jokes. :)
The next several days included a very cool event focused on  NIBRS/Big Data which was hosted by the School of Public Affairs - and planned/managed by Lynn A.  It was a terrific group including Lynn, myself, John J from the FBI, Wendy R, Jim N, Stan O, Dan B, Mike Maltz, April P and Aki R.  
I spent some time at Lynn's new place where we were treated to some beautiful sunsets. AND we got a ton of much needed work done!
On my last day, we walked over to the Mall and went into the Museum of Natural History (personal favorite) to see the gems, minerals and tectonic plate display. Love that earthquake display!
So many amazing gems.. Necklaces and earrings seen  in painting of aristocrats.
Even photographing them was fun since they put off so much brilliance.
Big honking gems.
A flawless crystal sphere. Gorgeous.
The crystal and other mineral collection is massive and amazing.
Yellow diamonds and huge emeralds.
Sapphires that could light up a dark room
Unbelievable rubies.
Huge emerald (that looks blue in this photo)
A massive collection of diamonds.
Earrings worn by Marie Antoinette
And the amazing Hope Diamond. 
I can't get enough of this museum
Walking back to Lynn's, we pass Nasa who has this clever sign. Cracked us up!
Late Sunday, the plane I was on chased the sunset to the west. Always fun to get to DC. Almost great to get home!

02_2015 Dave's Wood Project - Callie's Bling Case

Dave spent some time this month making me a box to hang my necklaces in. He selected some mahogany wood - 5/4 x 6" rough boards.
Step one is the jointer. This creates a flat surface by repeatedly passing the wood from the infeed table to the outfeed table (can you tell he is dictating this? :))

Next is the planer. This device creates a surface parallel to the downside of the feedboard.

Here is a board going through the jointer.
Here he is checking the squareness of the stack.
Gluing up the three pieces that will become the door.
Gluing in progress...
Doing a cross-cut. (whatever that does!)
Next come the box joints on the perimeter.
And gluing the outer box.
Coming together nicely....
Perfection - where the cover meets the frame.
Danish oil brings out the beauty of the wood.
Hooks and a knob

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

01_22_to_27_2015 Barcelo, South of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Part II

This pretty Blue-Footed Boobie hung around the area. Sometimes he'd be flying around, but often he was chilling on shore. The bird was not afraid of people and happily people respected him.
One of many Brown Pelicans that were always out and about.
A fresh-water run-off from the canyon joined the ocean. Generally, this came directly from the canyon in a straight line. One day however, it completely re-routed itself by taking a 90 degree turn and running almost perpendicular to the shore for a while. Cool.
Lots of Heerman's Gulls around. Nice to see them since they are not plentiful
Some large iguanas hanging out on the island in the middle of the pool. The large male (left) we dubbed "Roca".  Turns out that is his girlfriend (green).  
I'm reading something for PLEASURE!
We headed to some Botanical Gardens. They were really nice and we saw MANY great birds. The birding was really a treat - I'd not planned for it at all. Happily Dave brought binoculars and we saw a ton of great birds including many lifers.
Walking in the Gardens.
Dave in the Botanical Gardens.
The gardens had a feeding station that the San Blas Jays and Yellow-Winged Caciques LOVED. It was great fun watching them all.
As we were leaving, we heard the song a familiar bird. We couldn't quite identify it....

We thought....

We considered....

Then they showed themselves - baby chicks! Ha!
Complementary sparkling wine in our room made for a fruit-filled sunset.
A pretty nice breakfast location.
Breakfast made for a lot of fun bird watching. Here a Brown Pelican is 'coming in hot' and shooing off a Heerman's Gull.
The day after the Botanical Gardens, we set off to find the elusive Green Jay. This bird is like finding a unicorn riding the back of the Loch Ness Monster in my mind. It's such a beautiful bird I never thought I'd actually get to see it ever. I even painted one almost ten years ago and it's been hanging in the parrot's room all this time.

We took a local bus and had the driver drop us on the side of the road as we searched for the El Nogolitos restaurant. Turns out he missed the drop off by a mile (easy to do as there is no sign). We walked back and found the turn off and kept walking. And walking. And walking. Two Military Macaws called and flew above us (VERY COOL!).

Just when it didn't seem possible there was ANYTHING back there, we came upon a small town. We saw a small sign that instructed us to turn left. We did. And kept walking and walking. Again, just as I thought there is no way anything is back in the jungle, we came upon some structures...but no people. More searching around revealed some tables, chairs and waiters. It was really the "restaurant"!    We ordered some mineral water and asked the waiter/host if he saw the Green Jay there and he said "Five minutes."  
The host put out some cooked rice and immediately the Caciques and San Blas Jays came in being rowdy and territorial. 
We chatted with "Tequila" a Military Macaw who is 20 years old. Sweet bird.
Tequila was very appreciative of some head scratching and attention.
Five minutes went by and BOOM! In came not one, but TWO Green Jays. They are spectacular. Far more polite than the San Blas Jays or Caciques. What a treat to see them!
Crazy Cacique!
After  a while, we headed back. Dave grabbed a photo of the little town I spoke of.
Back at the resort, we were treated to a beautiful sunset with a bright planet and tiny sliver of the moon.
Our final morning we spent wandering the grounds looking at birds. They were plentiful.
It was a great trip and the resort was fab. Expect another blog in the future featuring the area and the resort.  It will include the bazooka!

For those interested, here is the list of birds we were able to identify. Many others we were not. I ordered my Birds of Mexico guide when we got home!

Rock Dove
Great Tailed Grackle
Gray-breasted Martin
Heerman's Gull
Little Green Heron (later find ourselves wondering if this was a Boat-Billed Heron)
Snowy Egret
Great Kiskadee
Magnificant Frigatebird
Brown Pelican
Black and White Warbler
Summer Tanager
Tropical Kingbird
Golden-Cheeked Woodpecker
Blue Gray Gnatcatchers
Lesser yellow legs (???)
Orange front parrots
Tropical Parula
Turkey Vulture
Black Vulture
Tropical Cormorant
Military Macaw
Rose-Breasted Becard (WOW!)
Red-Capped Ant-Tanager
Social Flycatcher (??)
Gray-Silkey Flycatcher (??)
San Blas Jay
Masked Tityra (!!!)
Some Seadeater
Grayish Saltator
Black Throated Gray Warbler
Nashville Warbler
White-Throated Thrush
Golden Vireo
Yellow-Green Vireo (??)
White-Bellied Wren
Streaked-Backed Oriole
Yellow-Winged Cacique
Russet Crowned Motmot (awesome!)
Cinnamon Hummingbird
Crested Caracara
Lineated Woodpecker
White striped woodcreeper
Thick Billed Kingbird
Green Jay
Yellow Crowned Night Heron
Wilson's Warbler.