Saturday, December 31, 2011

Irish Birding - Deis nua is féidir

Dempsey and O'Clery
It took a risk today, that a work invitation to Ireland will follow in the New Year. The risk - order a copy of The Complete Guide to Ireland's Birds by Eric Dempsey and Michael O'Clery. It turned out when Google'ing the title, the price of the book was $20 (U.S.) less at Barnes and Noble, than at Amazon. I was impressed by the extensive viewing feature for the book at the Google Books - unlike the typical limited access to illustrations when looking at books at Amazon. The senior author has a very nice personal Website that will need some exploration. I have only flown over the British Isles, so this will be a new experience is the details pan out. As always, there is no way for me to verify the accuracy of the on-line translator - the intent was, "an new Irish bird watching opportunity." Another book I looked over a few months ago is: A Guide to Irish Birds by Christopher Moriarty. I learned of the book by going through a sales flier from Buteo Books. The book was cited in Google Books, but not in any detail - likely because of its vintage. A listing of other publications by Moriarty are available. On my Amazon Wish List since 5 July 2010 has been a collection of Irish poetry - I'll wait until the formal invitation comes before ordering this book. (1)
An Irish-English dictionary is found by clicking here.

(1) After I received email confirmation of my order from B&N, I looked up the secondary book source and found I could have ordered it directly from them for another $10 less than at Amazon. Super Book Deals is on my book mark list from now on - why give B&N a hidden middle-person handling fee. There are an impressive number of birding field guides available at Super Book Deals.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Oregon Waterfowl at the Waterfalls

My son-in-law wanted to show me the new constructed wetland that the City of Albany had built to cool the temperatures of waters discharged from the municipal sewage treatment plant, as well as discharge from a near-by industrial park. The Albany-Millersburg
Mallard, American Coot, American Widgeon
Oregon Talking Water Gardens is not officially open until spring, but the trails are complete and there were a great range aquatic birds taking advantage of the warmer than ambient temperature wetlands: Bufflehead, Harlequin Ducks, Mallard, American Coot, and American Widgeon - a Great Blue Heron flew by when we first arrived. The 
Golden-crowned Sparrow
purpose for the garden is to reduce the discharge water temperature before it runs into the Willamette River. Also, around the upper ponds, there are lots of upland birds including Golden-crowned Sparrow, Marsh Wren, and White-breasted Sparrow. Also, in the brush there was a yellow feathered bird, but I couldn't get a clear picture of it as I stalked, and it kept moving ahead of me, hiding in the tall grass - likely, it was a Yellow Warbler. In the wooded area along Cox Creek near the bridge on Waverly Drive leading into the parking area, I spotted a Red-breasted Sapsucker working the trunk of a large tree, and Scrub Jay high up in its canopy.

I searched on line for an identification guide and came across the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Ducks at a Distance Water Identification Guide that has a nice interface that is easy to access, though identification is a bit difficult since the drawings are a bit hard to distinguish apart. The National Geographic Backyard Bird Identifier Website is still an excellent resource, particularly for upland birds when trying to distinguish among similar looking species - the "More" [whatever kind of bird you are looking at] feature is very handy to use, allowing for quick comparisons of similar appearing birds.

Bufflehead and Harlequin Ducks
American Widgeon
American Coot
Putative Yellow Warbler

Thursday, December 22, 2011

First Bluebird

We are back home in western Oregon for Christmas - seeing our kids and grandchildren, going to enjoy ten days here going between Corvallis, Albany, and Salem. On the way back to Salem from Corvallis
Western Bluebird in late-afternoon
this late afternoon, I stopped by Jackson-Fraizer Wetland just north of town for a fast walk around the board walk to try out my new 55-300 mm zoom lens. Just as I was driving up to the parking area, a flash of blue across the bow of my daughter's Camry - my first Western Bluebird. I stopped, got my camera out of its case, changed to new lens, backed up the car, rolled down the window......and the result. No special composition, just a document for the record. There were not all that many birds out and about, and it was getting colder by the minute as the sun was going down, but I took note of:

Western Bluebird
Scrub Jay
Red-winged Blackbird
Dark-eyed [Oregon] Junco

and some sort of sparrow - the check-off list of winter sparrows include: Fox Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, Song Sparrow, and White-crowned Sparrow. I don't know which of these, the little critter flew out from the grass beneath the board walk through the wetland. The raptors are abundant along the freeway and highways - Red-tailed Hawk and other large ones, along with smaller ones that I have now clue about their identification.

Here are some random photographs from around the wetland this afternoon:
Winter Red Berries


Tree Beard

Board Walk


The sighting of the Western Bluebird reminded me of the Buffalo Springfield song by the same name that was popular way back in 1968 or '69. The link above to the song is from a 2010 concert - not back in the 60's - the band members are now all in their mid-to-later 60's themselves.


Listen to my bluebird laugh.
She can't tell you why.
Deep within her heart, you see,
She knows only crying.
Just crying.
There she sits, a lofty perch.
Strangest color blue.
Flying is forgotten now.
Thinks only of you.
Just you.
So, get all those blues,
Must be a thousand hues.
And each just differently used.
You just know.
You sit there mesmerized
By the depth of her eyes
That you can't categorize.
She got soul.
She got soul.
She got soul.
She got soul!
Do you think she knows you?
Do you think at all?
Soon she's going to fly away.
Sadness is her own.
Reverse of a bath of tears
And go home, and go home.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Gift Idea For Grandchildren

Crayola Window Crayons
We picked up some bubble wrap at Office Depot today - last minute decision to not pack wrapped gifts in our luggage when heading cross-country for the holidays. While walking the isles, we noticed in the Crayola section: Window Crayons. Immediately I thought about how the back passenger windows in our old Grand Caravan were plastered with children stickers, many of which still remained when we dropped our car off at the wrecking yard when the fourth transmission began to go out (1). I also thought about other Crayola products that would be a big hit with grand kids: Crayons for Walls, or Carpet Crayons, or Drapery Crayons, or Decorate Your Pet Crayons....the applications could go on and on. I am sure I could think of many more gift ideas, and the good news is, the on-line Crayola Store is advertising there are still four more days to shop and have delivery before Christmas.
(1) We have bought Toyota cars ever since.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Look Back in Time

Catesby Special Collection at NAL
I had a meeting at the USDA Abraham Lincoln National Agricultural Library this past Tuesday, and while waiting for the elevator, noticed the collection of wildlife prints displayed on the wall. When I came back down from my meeting, I took a couple of quick photographs. As it turned out, the collection on display are prints by Mark Catesby from the eighteenth century. The description of the collection is given below, taken from the library's Website accessed by clicking here.

Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands
Rare and Special Collections opened an exhibit on Mark Catesby in 2000 on the first floor of the library. English born, Catesby (1682-1749) was the first naturalist to document North American plants and animals. His life's work, The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands, published 1731-1748, contains 220 etched plates as well as detailed descriptions of flora and fauna. It is considered one of the great achievements of 18th century science and art. This exhibit features 14 images by Catesby.

More information about Catesby can be found by clicking here, here, and here. Examples of his art can be viewed by clicking here. Looking over there reference (and others), it brought back thoughts of a book I read this time two years ago about David Douglas, the plant explorer after whom the Pacific Northwest's Douglas Fir is named. Our son's friend who is now a Marine Second Lieutenant is from the Big Island where Douglas died. I don't know anything about Catesby other than the short biography I posted above. As for reading, he may be an interesting person to delve into deeper - just as I am now reading about Roger Tory Peterson, and on my wish list, another naturalist and illustrator, Louis Agassiz Fuertes.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ellie Bogardus - The Lost Generation

1920's in Paris
Following on the theme from Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris (1) with American artists mixed in with Europeans, a cohort of creativeness, a kind of 1920's Rat Pack - this posting shows some of Ellie Bogardus paintings from 1964 and 1967 that are owned by Jean-Marie Bonnard, Ellie's husband from the 1960's. Bonnard's son Mathias, also an artist, sent these yesterday after taking photographs of them at his father's house in France. There may be more works in the Bonnard attic, but these along with the ones posted earlier from the Allyn Morris Family collection show some familiar elements in Bogardus' later style. Some of those features clearly evolve in the later years as I remember seeing in a couple of paintings in Cambria galleries twenty years ago, other elements don't seem related at all, and are more in line with the abstractions of Jean-Marie. The titles of the works below are imagined.

1964, Côte d'Azur
1967, Українська матрьошка
1967, Beach Bicycle at High Tide
1967, Discussions at the Salon
1967, Gertrude Stein's Cat
1967, A Nap at Sunset
1967, Sunset Behind the House
(1) I haven't seen that many other Woody Allen movies, not even enough to count on one hand: Sleeper, Bananas, and Annie Hall - I don't remember Coleen Dewhurst in Annie Hall, but do remember her as Marilla in Anne of Green Gables - however, there was some line in AH about speaking crustacean while preparing a meal in a kitchen.

Ellie Bogardus' Midnight in Paris

Bonnard by Fred Penney
My blog acquaintance Mathias, the illustrator whose father Jean-Marie Bonnard was married to Ellie Borgardus, sent a treasure trove of images painted by Ellie and his father from the period 1964 to 1967. The two were living in the house on Nottingham Drive in Cambria at the time. Among the images sent were three of the elder Bonnard. The first is a portrait by Fred Penney (Frederick Doyle Penney, 1900-1988), another Cambria artist and neighbor (1). Ellie Bogardus was using the name Bonnard as late as 1969 when A Boy Named Charlie Brown was released - she was credited as a graphic designer.

Jean-Marie by Ellie, 1967
A portrait by Ellie of her husband (shown to the right) was signed in 1990 or 1991 during a trip to France - her paintings from the 1960's were not signed at that time (2). Beards were obviously stylish then, perhaps a sign of membership among the artist colony at the time. The thought of a gathering of artists reminded me of Midnight in Paris, the latest Woody Allen movie that depicted a nostalgic author and other characters longing for eras gone by. Paris was a magnet for Americans artists from the later 1800's to 1920's - Allen plays with that theme in his movie. With a little imagination, it seems that there is a little bit of that feeling with these folks in Cambria as well - artists from both sides of the Atlantic tuning their instruments along the Pacific coast - another kind of Mediterranean environment like that of southern France.

Cat and Jean-Marie
The third image of Bonnard shows what looks like will be the beginnings of Ellie's later domestic interiors style, showing a scene with Bonnard sitting at a small table reading - drink in his hand, and most noticeable, a cat resting on another table nearby. Cats in paintings, cats etched on walls, cat-styled mailboxes, real cats roaming between the house and yard - a most common theme when you look back. I recall few if any cats in the Charlie Brown cartoon features. The mood of Bonnard is hard to gauge - maybe only concentration as he reads.

Other than an art appreciation class I took my freshman or sophomore year in college, having my own photographic darkroom set up in my bathroom the last three years living at home before going off to college, and taking an adult education class where I dabbled at oil painting for a short time in 1986, I have admired the art of others, not tried to produce any myself. Style doesn't matter for the most part (unlike music), it's the visual that gets me thinking about the story behind the story, so the posting of these will be by an untrained curator.

Following are a collection of paintings by Jean-Marie Bonnard that Mathias provided. I need to find out if Bonnard is still active with his art. (I have since found out from Mathias that J.M. is alive and was born in 1936. He was a student at the Beaux Arts (Fine Art school) in Nancy, but did not paint much - but painted while married to Ellie. His blog can be found by clicking here. Note his self-portrait sketch in the upper left of his blog - still with a beard.)

Jean-Marie Bonnard #1, c. 1964-67

Jean-Marie Bonnard #2, c. 1964-67

Jean-Marie Bonnard #3, c. 1964-67

Jean-Marie Bonnard #4, c. 1964-67

Jean-Marie Bonnard #5, c. 1964-67
(1)  Frederick Doyle Penney was born in Fullerton, Nebraska on January 10, 1900. After the University of Nebraska, he studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and Art Students League in New York City. Settling in Los Angeles in 1924, he continued at Chouinard Art School under Hinkle, Chamberlin, and Pruett Carter. During the 1930s he was active in the Los Angeles art scene while operating a design center. At the onset of World War Two he moved to Chicago to work in his father's factory and continued to paint in that area until his return to California in 1957. His last 30 years were spent in the Coachella Valley near Palm Springs. He died there on February 2, 1988. Penney specialized in desert landscapes in oil and watercolor. A Chicago art critic said of his work, "He slides the seasons of the year through his palette like strands of colored silk." Member: Desert Art Center (Palm Springs); Laguna Beach Art Ass'n; California Watercolor Society; Shadow Mountain Palette Club. Exhibited: California Art Club, 1930-33; California Watercolor Society, 1930-35; California Statewide (Santa Cruz), 1931; Golden Gate International Exposition, 1939; Society for Sanity in Art, 1940, 1942.

(2) Mathias Bonnard, personal communication by email, December 10, 2011.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Another D.C. Memorial - National Japanese American Memorial

Names of the fallen
A month or so ago, I was walking from the Metro stop at Union Station north of the Capitol, to a meeting a few streets over to the west when I walked by the National Japanese American Memorial on Louisiana Avenue NW. I had briefly noticed the name and location of the memorial on the Google Map I printed off in my office earlier in the day, but that was enough for me turn around and walk back for a look as I walked by on the way to my meeting. I had no idea that this was war memorial - another to service in World War II, only remembering those Japanese Americans who gave their lives. The stone placards with the names of the fallen has some resemblance to those at the Vietnam Memorial, only these are mostly all Japanese names, many of whom their families worried and then mourned for them from behind barbed wire.

Senator Daniel Inouye, April 2010
Last year I made four trips to Hawaii that involved scoping out and then initiating a new research project on Maui. The work is in cooperation with the Navy, and the first meeting was on Ford Island near Honolulu - at Pearl Harbor. During the third trip there were speeches commemorating the launch of
the effort, with remarks made by Senator Inouye. It was back in 2007 while watching one of the episodes of The War on PBS, that I learned the senator had been wounded in Italy while serving in the 442 Regimental Combat Team. As the narrative progressed, and the actions he took were described, I thought to myself, "this is the kind of stuff that Congressional Metals of Honor are awarded." It was, but presented 55 years after his heroic actions - prejudices take a long time to overcome.

A familiar California place
This past Wednesday was the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The All Things Considered news program I listen to on the drive home from work ran an interview with the Senator recapping his memories that Sunday morning in 1941. What struck me the most was the way he graciously transitioned from telling how he first learned while serving in the Army in Mississippi that Japanese Americans were being held in "concentration" camps, to saying what makes the United States different from other countries is that we admit when we are wrong and make restitution.

442 Regiment
The names and places and words on the stone placards were what held my attention the few minutes I spent at the memorial - I didn't even notice the Golden Cranes sculpture that towers over the plaza - it wasn't until I looked up the street name where the memorial is located on Google Maps again tonight that I realized it was there - I hadn't even seen it. When I first walked by the engraved names at the Vietnam Memorial in 1982, the Hispanic names stood out as I walked down the paved walkway and the names piled higher and higher above me - the gravity of the losses visually comprehended. In this place, the Japanese names stand out together - uniform, as uniform as the military attire they wore as they fought and died for freedom - abroad and at home. Looking up the 442's service patch, it also struck me that Liberty's torch was the symbol of their regiment - unconditional service given, regardless of the wrongs received.
Addendum, September 6, 2015
The Washington Post reported today the death of a World War II veteran, Ben Kuroki. I also found a Veterans memorial video about his life - a Most Honorable Son.

Night Winter Moon - Almost

Almost a winter moon - 12/09/2011
On the way out the door for dinner, the moon was rising through the trees that just a few weeks ago still had some leaves. I had to turn around and turn off the alarm so I could get my camera to take this shot - no tripod, steadied on the door jam, being sure the moon flare on the lens was centered on the white disc. When the moon is full, and the tide high, the City Dock area in downtown Annapolis always floods. The tide mustn't be high tonight - no sign of water flooding the low-lying streets that rest just above water level as it is under a full moon, this twelfth day before the start of the Twelve Days of Christmas.

A few mornings ago, I was late getting going after having a video conference call with research partners in China the night before. But since I was still around the house as the bird activity picked up after  
White-throated Sparrow - First winter
sunrise time, it was nice to see White-throated Sparrow Wednesday morning - picking around on the ground looking for a few seeds that had not already be pecked out of their shells. The morning was dark because of the clouds and rain, but colors on the sparrows seemed to stand out because their feathers were wet. The white spot on the throat and the yellow-colored lores. Like the moon peaking through the barren tree branches, this sparrow was making its way around the bare twigs on the crepe myrtle whose round berry-like seed pods are all that is left of summer. Those pods will be picked apart next summer when the northern migration begins again.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Prime Bear Sandwich - Not Really

The Bear Dance
In a restaurant near our home - Adam's Rib East in Eastport - we noticed tonight for the first time a print of a painting by William Holbrook Beard. Beard was born in Painesville, Ohio, and studied abroad. In 1861, he moved to New York City. His humorous treatment of bears, cats, dogs, horses and monkeys, generally with some human occupation and expression, and usually satirical, gave him a great vogue at one time, and his pictures were
The Primer Sandwich
largely reproduced. The print on the wall above booth near the table where we ate showed a large gathering of bears in the woods, many dancing together and carrying on much like people would do at a party. I was able to quickly look up the painting on my Blackberry, but Jan wouldn't let me take a shot of the print above the booth, even though the folks sitting there had paid their bill and left right before us. I could have pretended that the half-inch-thick slab of medium cooked prime rib on my sandwich was bear rather than beef, but who would want to do that that when the beasts are anthropomorphized so well in the scene captured by the bear-loving Beard.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

15 Minutes of FAME - FSRL

A project I have been working on for more than a year came to an untypical conclusion this past week - an official ceremonial hand-off in front of a crowd. The event wasn't a calculated and showy production 
The FSRL Tool
intended to send stock prices through the ceiling, like a Steve-Jobs-new-Apple-product-roll-out at a technology showcase. It was just a simple signal that a work was completed, a commitment fulfilled, and its time to move on with the next steps that are needed over a long haul towards a commercial era for aviation biofuels

Below is a report from the Aviation Week periodical about the product that was sent by one of the co-developers on the team. The purple color represents Fuel Readiness Level (FRL) by way of the color of the jerseys worn by fuel technicians on aircraft carriers. The green represents the Feedstock Readiness Level (FSRL) and the natural origin of biomass from farms and forests. This is the kind of stuff that is a long ways from the farm.
FAA-Led CAAFI Moves To Measure Readiness Of Biofuel Feedstocks
Aviation Daily Dec 02, 2011, p. 11
Graham Warwick
The FAA-led Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI) has unveiled a tool designed to help bridge the gap between feedstock providers and fuel producers as it strives to develop a supply chain for sustainable aviation biofuels. 

Feedstocks from farms
Developed for CAAFI by the U.S. Agriculture Dept. (USDA) and modeled on NASA-pioneered technology readiness levels (TRL), the new feedstock readiness tool “will allow biorefiners to make quicker, easier assessments of feedstock opportunities,” says Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsak, addressing the CAAFI general meeting yesterday in Washington. The tool will enable industry “to look at where potential biomass sources are and what steps are needed to get them to the biorefineries,” he says.

The new feedstock readiness level (FSRL) is a companion to CAAFI’s established fuel readiness level (FRL) tool, which indicates where a specific process for producing an alternative jet fuel is on its development path. FSRL is an effort to bring some order to “the craziness of how many feedstocks are out there,” says Jeffrey Steiner of the USDA Research Service. “It’s a tool to bridge [the gap] between farmers and biorefiners.”

As with TRLs and FRLs, the FSRL tool ranks feedstock readiness on levels from 1 to 9, from concept to commercial-scale deployment. Levels 1-4 cover preliminary evaluation and small-scale experimental testing. These levels “precede any large-scale investment in growing millions of acres,” says Steiner. Levels 5 and 6 cover validation of the alternative-fuel production system, while 7-9 involve the final stages of commercial deployment.

Where green fuels will come from
Assessing feedstock readiness is more complex than technology or fuel readiness levels, as each level includes production, market and policy components plus a linkage to the readiness of the technology needed to convert a specific feedstock to jet fuel. “Farmers are used to growing crops for which there is a market already out there,” Steiner says. “But they can’t count on growing a crop and having someone come buy it and turn it into jet fuel. There is a close linkage.”
Efforts are now under way within CAAFI to extend the concept of fuel and feedstock readiness levels to encompass the work required to ensure that the sustainability of aviation biofuels complies with regulatory frameworks for renewable fuels.