Monday, October 28, 2013

Mushrooms! And a trip to Portland

 Ok, so not quite so "life on Water", but I went for a hike the other day and looked at some mushrooms, some of which were quite photogenic.  The winds are blowing from the Northeast right now and they have such strength to tear boats from the anchorage and throw them to shore here.  Last night was a roller-coaster ride, in which I was reminded of the trip over to Hawaii. 
I don't know the names of all these mushrooms, and I guess I don't really care too much about them, since I find them not too tasty, but finding and photographing them is fun.

Another interesting thing was that a few days ago, when I was waiting to pick up some people to go out sailing there was this couple that had just gotten married and they wanted to sit take a picture out on the boat, so they did.  It was neat to be a part of that.

So about the Portland trip.  I went to a bird center and saw some Raptors, including a Peregrine Falcon...
 The falcons have some neat things about them, including a "killing tooth" or hook or something that I can't remember the name, which they use to cut the spinal cord of the hapless birdy victims that they stoop to prey upon.  They also have big eyes (some of the biggest eye to head ratio in the bird world) and they cannot move their eyes, so they have to move their heads.  I think the eye fixing is because the eyes are not perfectly round, or possibly they are not, because if I had eyes that had different focal length points ( say an eye with a dimple in the back of the retina) then I could make a zoomed in view when I put the subject in that spot.  Maybe their vision is one way but has a zoomed in center...?
Anyways, that would make the eye unable to move in the head, because it wouldn't be round.  Then again, it might be because they hit with such force and g-shock that they have more strongly attached eyes and therefore cannot move them in their eye-foundations...  I could probably look this up but I refuse to right now.  This picture is cool because you can see the roundness of the cornea making the light bend.
Another thing that was cool was to look at the leading edge of the wing, it is very sharp and smooth, with no loose feathers.  This is important for a fast flying bird, most especially for one that goes at bird-record speeds. 
 The Peregrine (as many of you might know) kills birds on the wing by flying up to heights and then diving down on them.  So speed is a key facet of their livelihood.  This particular bird was a male, so fairly small, and had messed up feet and therefore was to live his life in captivity, since he wouldn't make it in the wild.  I thought he was quite pretty and had his affairs in order, though he packed a fearsome gaze. 

 Also in residence was a Turkey Vulture, which has the most powerful of noses.  The vulture has paid the price (to the devil, no doubt) for this extraordinary olfactory, in that the nose makes the vulture look very sinister.  It is a combination nose, with a see-through nostril.   Kind of cool, actually.
This particular vulture had a bit of a thick beak, since she didn't get to carve it down on the normal roadkill muchies of the world.  I guess in the wild they spend time sharpening their equipment before soaring off to work.
Speaking of soaring, the vultures are champions, (very unlike the falcons) and can soar for hours without effort (or so it looks to us on the ground).  They have special wings they order from the stork upon birth and fledgling time, which have bendy pinions (tip feathers) and spaces between the pinions for turbulent air to pass through.  This bending action smooths the ride out for them.  Though falcons have pointed wing tips (for speed and maneuverability) the vultures have wide wings for low wing loading (wing loading is weight of animal divided by wing surface area, so big rectangle wings of a vulture are low wing loading but small triangle wings of a falcon are high)

Portland is a progressive city full of bicycles and public transportation, and we saw a few Nissan Leafs there, a new electric car.  I got a picture of one.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Fall in Bellingham

I've been busy.  I'm living on Altair right now and will be for a few more weeks before heading to a house in Fairhaven.  During the ample time afforded, I've been building some new things.  I am almost done rebuilding LaFawnda, and tested out the new design just today, sailing around the bay.  It is the best one yet, of course, with precise control and sturdy power.  I have yet to paint the bottom part of it with antifouling paint, and then put her back on. 
One of the things that has frustrated me with living aboard is the lack of Wifi.  I got the password from a nearby hotel but couldn't get a signal.  So, when Ric sent me a link to a parabolic reflector wifi antenna thing, so I built one yesterday, and it works great!  I've got a few pictures of the thing, but it is really easy to build.  Basically, draw out a parabola on a piece of plywood (remember  Y = A X ^2  ) and then find a piece of metal and staple it on.  Then find the focus of the parabola (X^2 = 4 P Y)  Where P is the focus distance. 
Anyways, I built this thing:

 There have been some storms that came through over the last few weeks, and in one of them the rain was so thick.  Its pretty, but I was staying inside with the fire on and keeping warm.  My little dragon stove has been doing wonders with keeping the air inside the cabin warm and dry.  
There have been a few boats wandering around in the wind, none that have been totally destroyed, at least near me, but wandering nonetheless.  Many of them are leaving for the wintertime, but some stalwart boats still remain. 

I've also been on a few walk on the few sunny days this fall.  Clayton Beach turned up to be quite profitable, as I found a sand dollar.  

My sister Monica and her partner Bryan came up to race in a Cyclocross race in town, so I went to watch.  Rachel, my other sister, has been racing Cyclocross for a long time, and has amassed a fortune of equipment, including a nice carbon frame that she gifted to Monica, so I got a picture of the bike and the sister, but sadly the names don't match.

 The race was muddy and slow and tiresome for Bryan, but they left the next day.
 Alex Walker, a friend from way back in High School, was also in the race, so I got a few pictures of him.
 Here is Bryan coming around the corner...