Posted by: Mark | January 25, 2015

Mr. and Mrs. Mallard

2015-01-21 14.32.12

Okay, I don’t know if they’re really married but they look happy together.

Posted by: Mark | January 24, 2015

A Well Lit Dungeon

I don’t think that I ever linked to this but here’s one of my stories on Cast of Wonders, titled “A Well Lit Dungeon.

Posted by: Mark | January 24, 2015

202.5 Miles

After 11 miles on the elliptical (58 minutes, 610 calories), I hit 202.5 for the year. If I keep up this pace, I should get 3,079.6875 miles for the year. I’ll settle for 2,200.

Posted by: Mark | January 23, 2015

House Sparrow


House sparrows, like starlings, Norway rats, and people, are not native to America and have done a great deal of ecological damage since they’ve got here. However, unless we develop new biological weapons, they aren’t going anywhere soon.

2015-01-23 15.59.10

Posted by: Mark | January 22, 2015

New Year Resolutions Update III

I’ve been doing well with some of my resolutions but started falling behind on others. If I don’t goof off, I should be able to get back on track:

1. Blogging. Goal:  300 posts for the year. What I have: this will be #28, on track for an annual total of 464 posts if I keep at this pace.

2. Writing. Goal:  100,000 words for the year. What I have: 5,499 words–on track for 91K if I don’t shape up.

3. Running. Goal: 2,200 miles for the year.  What I have: 173.6 miles, still all from the elliptical machine.

H – 9.7 Miles/53 minutes/540 cal.
F – 6.2/33/340
S – 15.7/83/870
S – 8.7/47/490
M – 8.7/47/480
T – 11.7/63/650
W -6.5/35/360

4. Publishing. Goal : 105 manuscripts sent out.  What I did: seven stories, not great but on pace for success..

5. Video. Goal : five video projects.  What I did: three weeks of nothing.

6. Weight. Goal : lose 35 pounds. What I did : no real change since last week.

7. Art. Goal: Photograph 100 species. What I did : 19

Mammal: Gerbil, Robo hamster, Campbell’s hamster, Syrian hamster, Rabbit,
Gray Squirrel
Bird: Budgerigar parakeet, Rock doves (pigeons), Northern cardinal
Reptile: Red-eared slider, leopard gecko
Amphibian: Dwarf aquatic frog, Fire-Bellied Toad
Insect: Madagascar Hissing Cockroach, Stink bug, Wax worm, Mealworms
Myriapod: Millipedes
Annelid: Canadian nightcrawler

8. Kids. Goal : 300 events.  What I did : 12 events (Anderson library, Cold Springs Library Game Day, Pokemon Club)

9. Exercise. Goal : 8,000 leg lifts and 5,000 push ups.  What I did : 500 leg lifts and 345 push ups.

Leg lifts 25/25/25/25/25/25/25 –> 500
Push ups 18/18/18/19/19/20/20 –> 345

10. Weekly resolutions. Ran 15.7 miles in one sitting.

Posted by: Mark | January 21, 2015

The Singular of Hamster is “Lunch”

Last night D.J., the not male Russian hamster, gave birth to what I thought were babies (plural). Maybe I was mistaken because today there is only one baby to be found.

I didn’t think that mother Russian hamsters were as cannibalistic as Syrian hamsters, but if D.J. is the only one in the cage tomorrow, I’ll have to reconsider my assessment.


Posted by: Mark | January 20, 2015

Northern Cardinal

2015-01-20 15.47.13

Dozens of cardinals were hanging around the bird feeder before I filled it. This is the only one that came close enough for a picture.

Europeans first called cardinals “red birds” (unoriginal but it stuck with black and blue) but “red bird” was to easily confused with other birds that were red. Many old bird books just refer to them as plain “cardinals” but again there was confusion with a South American cardinal so “Northern” was added.

Unlike many brightly colored birds, cardinals don’t migrate or lose their pretty feathers in winter. That’s given them a reputation for loyalty. Because of that, they’ve been adopted as the mascot of many sports teams and are the state bird of seven states.

Posted by: Mark | January 19, 2015


20150119_163724I hate to clean the planaria tank, not because it’s difficult, but because inevitably a good number of them die in the process.  If I didn’t clean them, all of them would die so I don’t have much of a choice.

I first heard about planaria from the book Great Pets by Sarah Stein. It seemed like you could find them in any natural body of water but try as I might, I could never could. A couple years ago I ordered 12 of them and they have multiplied.

Supposedly you can cut their heads off and both ends grow back but I’ve never tried. Otherwise they’re like very small fish.

Posted by: Mark | January 18, 2015



Here’s a gray squirrel eating from a pumpkin feeder. Now it’s more of a pumpkin mess thanks to all the gnawing. As long as they don’t chew up the deck.

Posted by: Mark | January 17, 2015

Midnight II


At long last I found a black hamster to replace the late Midnight. He’s not a perfect match but I hope he’ll pass for the original.

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