Saturday, November 29, 2014

First Duck Watch - Fossil Creek Reservoir

Northern Shoveler
This photograph was taken by my son Dan. We both went to Fossil Creek Reservoir armed with our cameras, but my battery was drained, so no shots on my part. He had his Canon 70D set to seven frames per second, and caught this duck coming in for a landing. There were hundreds of ducks huddled together on the water - perhaps feeding just under the surface. The on-line Website at Today's Wildlife Field Identification Guide was handy - the Waterfowl link gave nice drawn images of the common water fowl and guided me to the Northern Shoveler as the likely subject.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Six Degrees Of Separation - We Will Always Be Red Sox Fans

When Red Sox celebrate, so do I
There is much to the power of connections. Many have heard of the "six degrees of separation" theory -- the idea that everyone in the world is separated from everyone else by no more than six links. (1) Jan's friend's daughter is a consultant to the Boston Red Sox Foundation who helped set up the Home Base Program for Veterans with Massachusetts General Hospital. Through that connection, Jan's friend's daughter got us in touch with a social worker at Home Base who was able to connect us to a specialist in Portland, Oregon who could help our son outside of the Veterans Administration medical system. The BoSox were always a team of interest to me, especially when they made their recent runs and wins for the Baseball World Series (I have a friend from New England who just can't watch their games in the championship runs for fear of jinxing the outcome - I don't think he changes his underwear either). Our oldest son often wears a Boston ball cap, and has always has followed them, and when Jacoby Ellsbury from the Oregon State Beavers College World Series teams played with them, that made the team even more personal. But that Home Base folks were so helpful to us, we are established as a Red Sox family, forever.

Boston Globe Writer Kevin Cullen once featured Home Base in his Sunday column. He is the same writer who wrote about Adam Dickmyer's funeral at Arlington National Cemetery. Adam had been the squadron leader of the funeral detail for Senator Ted Kennedy, and Adam and Mike had served together at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier - more connections. Adam, Mike, Jan; Denise, Norma, Jan; Jan, Social Worker in Boston, someone in Oregon, Larry; Adam, the Senator's wife and doctor's nephew, Kevin; and me to these - less than six degrees of separation to all.
Preparing Clinicians to Serve Veterans and Military Families (2)

As more Post 9/11 veterans choose to receive health care outside the VA, it is critical that community clinicians are prepared to understand military culture, and recognize and treat the “invisible wounds” of war. Thanks to new funding, Home Base is leading this effort in the New England area.

In addition to generous support from the Welcome Back Veterans Initiative of Major League Baseball and the McCormick Foundation, Home Base has received funding new from the Bob Woodruff Foundation and the MA Attorney General’s Office to significantly enhance our clinical education efforts through The Training Institute at Home Base: a Welcome Back Veterans education initiative to heal the invisible wounds of war. With funding from the Woodruff Foundation, Home Base will conduct a comprehensive needs assessment of non-VA clinicians throughout New England in order to document their willingness to treat Post 9/11 veterans and military families in their practices. The web-based survey will assess community clinicians’ experience in providing evidence-based mental health treatment, and their interest in receiving additional training in evidence-based therapy. In addition, the grant will allow Home Base to map and document the location and accessibility of evidence-based clinical treatment for the invisible wounds of war in New England.

“This year, it’s estimated that 40% of returning veterans will be cared for in non-VA, community health care settings. We know from our work in educating communities about the needs of returning veterans and their families that clinicians want to learn how to help fill gaps in care. For the first time, this generous grant from the Woodruff Foundation will enable us to fully document clinical training needs and optimally target our efforts to ensure that veterans and their families have access to evidence-based treatment that is sensitive to the needs of our Post 9/11 veterans and military families impacted by the invisible wounds such as PTSD and traumatic brain injury,” said Naomi Simon, MD, Chief Medical Officer of Home Base.

In May, Home Base was among the organizations to receive funding from the MA Office of the Attorney General to help reduce the stigma associated with seeking help for mental illness and substance abuse. Attorney General Martha Coakley awarded nearly $8 million to a total of 22 organizations across the Commonwealth in order to increase access to behavioral health services. The grant will enable Home Base to provide training to First Responders, patient care and Rehabilitation Professionals to recognize and respond to the mental health needs of Post 9/11 veterans and military families.

“Police, Fire and Emergency First Responders as well as patient care and rehabilitation health professionals are critical partners in identifying and responding to the ‘invisible wounds’ of war among our returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families. Home Base is eager to provide education and training to this community, and extremely grateful to the Office of the Attorney General for this extraordinary commitment to improving the health of Post 9/11 veterans and their families who have served and sacrificed for our nation,” said Brigadier General (ret) Jack Hammond, Executive Director of Home Base.

The Training Institute at Home Base is funded by a two year, national grant from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation and Major League Baseball. It will offer free on-line and in-person training for clinicians throughout New England through the War Zone to the Home Front series presented in collaboration with the VA’s National Center for PTSD; provide in-depth, multi-week courses on-line; and offer targeted consultation training and clinical supervision, considered the “gold standard” in clinical training.
(1) From ABC News, Six Degrees of Separation: Fact or Fiction? (here)
(2) From the Home Base Program, Summer 2014 Newsletter

Monday, November 24, 2014

Getting Ready for the Last Hobbit Movie

Smaug the Magnificant
My oldest grandson and I tonight watched The Desolation of Smaug movie - getting "warmed up" for the third installation of The Hobbit series - The Battle of the Five Armies. I didn't remember the song that played with the beginning of the credits from my earlier viewing a couple of months back. The I See Fire refrain stood out, so a quick Google turned up the official Peter Jackson video of Ed Sheeran playing his his song. A quick cameo of Jackson towards the end of the video reminded me of the carrot-biting cameo of Jackson at the beginning of the movie, walking across the street in Bree, in the rain.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Winter Wonderland Paradise Lost

The view from our table
With a layer of snow that muffles sounds, the lights strung across the trees in downtown Fort Collins made the scene from the window next to our table in The Kitchen a winter wonderland. The restaurant is one of the ventures started by Kimbal Musk, along with other not-so-small businesses such as SpaceX, Tesla Motors, and PayPal. The vision for the restaurant string is to be a vehicle for Community Through Food. Our dinner reservation was a make-up for a birthday dinner planned two weeks earlier, but which had to be canceled when we made an unplanned trip to Oregon. Snow was predicted for yesterday - and it did - but the roads were in good shape, so the only inconvenience was not finding a nearby parking place along College Avenue as we arrived - I dropped Jan off at the door while I parked the car.

After having checked my coat and hat, and being escorted to the table and seated, we both admired the view - out came the iPhone to take a couple of shots. Jan then told me about a gentleman outside the entrance to the store who had asked her to pay for a room where he could stay the night. Knowing that there are not enough rooms in town for all of the homeless, the request was reasonable, but she made her way by him and into the restaurant.

Homeless folks seem to come in waves through downtown. We watched as a few gentlemen walked along the street outside our window, and how one talked with a passersby - most likely making requests for cash for food or lodging. Soon a couple of police officers appeared, and then a third - it was time for moving this wave away. Shortly after one of the men was arrested, while another sat on a bench and had a discussion with one of the officers. After awhile, there were no homeless men in sight - the street scene again as it was when I arrived - a winter wonderland that friends commented about after having posted it earlier on Instagram and Facebook - before the legal activities began along the sidewalk outside our window. By now, the only interruption to our view was the memory of a paradise lost. The juxtaposition of an upscale restaurant, an expensive meal, an institution dedicated to encouraging healthy eating and teaching children how to feed others, high-tech companies doing amazing things, and a lovely winter well as the thought of the homeless behind this picture.

SLiCE Homeless Connect here
Homeless Shelters and Supportive Housing here

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Brace For The Cold - November Bird Watching

It's getting dark, and the snow is still falling. Our trees in the back are holding lots of American Robin who are more than willing to pose for photographs and not fly away - their tolerance of me approaching must be inversely related to the temperature outside. I caught a couple of posed subjects, a robin and a Cedar Waxwing. I didn't know what the smaller clump of feathers were until I downloaded my shots and saw the bright yellow band on the tail - a waxwing. The birds are all perched with the feathers ruffled in an obvious attempt to increase the R-value of their natural insulation. A nice narrative about birds weathering the winter cold can be found here, and another more lay version here. By the way, I just restocked the bird feeders, and added a new peanut dispenser as well.

American Robin in the cold

Cedar Waxwing

The map above his found here, and is found with the link above with the explanation of R-values. As you can see, Colorado falls in the 4th, 5th, and 6th of seven coldest regions in the continental United States - poor little birds.

Foraging In The Snow

We returned to Fort Collins Friday evening - Jan from California and me the Middle East. The weather had changed greatly since we left - a cold front came in with temperatures dropping, and it snowed the day before. This morning the prediction was for snow starting at 7:00 AM - the weather man was pretty much on target. By late morning, a few birds were poking around the general environs of the feeder - we need more seed. Our first birds of the season in the snow.

Northern Flicker
This young Northern Flicker is getting its first taste of winter. An adult male was working over the finch feeder, and another young flicker was in the juniper next door. They seem to be hanging out in the common lane area behind our house.

Dark-eyed Junco
A Dark-eyed Junco was picking through the two inch snow blanket looking for seeds that have fallen from the feeder above. I had first landed on the finch feeder, and then moved to the suet feeder hanging below. A little bit of snow freckles its face - the temperature outside is 16° outside. In the far west, this junco is known as the Oregon Junco - thoughts of home.

American Robin
This American Robin defied what I knew of the species - it kept picking at the juniper berries and ate them. I thought these were only an insect eater on the ground. Perhaps desperate times have already begun in early winter.

American Goldfinch
American Goldfinch with their winter coloration. It seems that everybody else wants a piece of the action at their feeder - big and large seem to have adapted to the small mesh and limited perch space.

House Sparrow
Now it is the House Sparrow turn. I have noticed how birds seem to come in waves of appearances. Even the larger Scrub Jay, American Robin, Northern Flicker travel in trios or better.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Marketing A State Of Mind - Colorado

I have worked for some time with researchers to consider how to incorporate market-driven outcomes into their research objectives. Since moving to Colorado, an awareness of the importance of marketing has come even more important. In the video above, it is about marketing the state's image - the Colorado brand.

Colorado Branding
Colorado rolls out new logo and slogan for state brand campaign
By Steve Raabe
The Denver Post 

Fly the Colorado flag. Wave it. Love it. It's a grand old flag. But the state flag couldn't compete with a green triangle as the new Colorado logo.

State officials will unveil the image and an accompanying slogan — "It's our nature" — as the focal points of a new Colorado brand during a Thursday session of the Colorado Innovation Network Summit.

In what is described as the most ambitious branding effort ever undertaken by a state, Colorado will incorporate the new logo into every aspect of state government — signs, letterheads, tourism promotion, vehicle emblems, business cards and dozens of other uses.

"We have a state flag and seal, but until now Colorado has never had a unified brand," said Aaron Kennedy, the state's chief marketing officer.

Creation of the brand is one of six objectives under Gov. John Hickenlooper's "Colorado Blueprint" for economic development.

Kennedy, founder of the Noodles & Co. restaurant chain, led a group of prominent business leaders, marketing experts and graphic designers who collaborated to create the logo and slogan over the past year.

Those individuals and their firms provided pro bono services that Colorado officials value at $1.5 million. Another $800,000 was contributed by the Colorado Tourism Office and the Statewide Internet Portal Authority, which operates state government websites.

"This brand will not only help Colorado attract talent and jobs," Kennedy said, "but also save public dollars by eliminating the need to manage individual brands for each agency and department in state government."

The logo is a green-and-white triangle with a snow-capped peak sitting atop the letters CO. Colorado is spelled out beneath the triangle.

The image-building campaign was guided in part by public feedback — not all of it positive.

Kennedy said some preferred the use of the Colorado flag as the official state logo.

But in a nationwide survey where people were shown the flag with no other identifying information, more respondents said it represented Chicago than those who correctly identified it as the Colorado flag.

A related survey question showing the standard green-and-white Colorado license plate — even when it was viewed without the word "Colorado" — had high recognition among the national respondents.
That was the impetus for using the mountain motif and green-and-white color scheme in the logo.
Colorado has trademarked the new image so that it can't be used for unauthorized purposes.

Businesses can apply for permission to use the logo along with phrases such as "Colorado Made" or "Colorado Grown" in the same way that the "Colorado Proud" logo is now used to identify local products.

For state government use, the logo will be paired with similar but inverted triangles that identify each of the state's 22 agencies.

Kennedy said he is anticipating some negative feedback from the public.

"We put it out there knowing we'd take a lot of whacks in the knee," he said.

He noted that the famed Nike "swoosh" originally was criticized before becoming one of the world's most recognized brands.

Still, marketing expert Darrin Duber-Smith was unsparing in his assessment of the new logo and brand campaign.

"I would not put my name on this if I was the creative director," said Duber-Smith, a marketing consultant and professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

"It looks like something my students could have put together in five minutes," he said. "It reminds me of a haz-mat symbol, or something you'd find on a construction hard hat. It's a very weak and non-creative effort."

Kennedy said the brand is the product of some of the best creative minds in the state.
In addition, he said, use of the brand by Colorado government agencies will yield quantifiable financial savings.

For example, he said, the Colorado Department of Transportation spends $300,000 annually on marketing, including the design of logos for individual highway projects.

"Multiply even a fraction of that number by 22 state agencies, and you can see how the new brand will actually save the state money," he said.

Steve Raabe: 303-954-1948, or

Autumn Birds at 40.5073N, 105.0406W, and 4,965.68ft

My Altitude iPhone app
The Northern Flicker that taps on the roof above our bedroom was at it this morning - actually, more of a knock than a tap. I went outside to chase him away, and took my camera along in case I was able to sneak up on him from below when I came out of the sliding patio door. He was off in an instant, flying north to parts unknown. But as it turned out, there was a diversity of other birds on the ground, in the tree, and working away at the bird feeder. There must have been a half dozen Cedar Waxwing working over the juniper berries on the tree beside our neighbor's house, a few Red Breasted Nuthatch whose normal behavior is to grab a seed and then fly to a tree branch to break the seed open, several American Robin flying in and out of the trees and not working the lawn for a meal, a Dark-eyed Junco on the ground, a House Sparrow at the finch feeder, and an American Gold Finch in its winter brown coloration, looking more like some kind of sparrow than the bright yellow of summer.

Red-breasted Nuthatch
Cedar Waxwing
American Robin
American Goldfinch (foreground)
House Sparrow
The My Altitude iPhone application has turned out to be a useful tool when traveling around mountainous Colorado when wanting to check out my elevation.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Colorado Highway 10 - Quiet, Open Space

State Highway 160 to Walsenburg
I drove from Alamosa to Rocky Ford along State Highway 160 this past Tuesday, to catch Highway 10 east in Walsenburg - a bridge between a grower workshop on Monday, and the drive home to Fort Collins. Being that far south in the state, gives an opportunity to pay a visit to another one of the Colorado State University research centers. There was little traffic along the way for a road that does as much up-and-down through the plains as it does right-and-left turns. I didn't intend to stop and look at birds, but when I saw a flock of turkey off to the right in a pasture, I had to make a U-turn. 

Here are the rafter of Wild Turkey that first caught my eye - an abrupt U-turn was required for a better look, than the rush-by 60 mile per hour viewing in 1.2 seconds. The wattle under their chins was back lit by the morning sun, and was highlighted in contrast to their already dark bodies that seemed almost like silhouettes.

Nearly across the road from the turkey, was a reservoir filled with all kinds of ducks. It would have taken climbing a bank and hurdling a fence, with disregard for a PRIVATE PROPERTY sign - VIOLATORS WILL BE ARRESTED, to get a closer look. So, a long-shot and reference to a Colorado duck identification Webpage will have to do for now. Perhaps among these are American Coot, Bufflehead, Greater Scaup, Mallard, Ruddy Duck - cannot tell for sure when using the iPhoto Crop feature, but there are lots of different species here - even Great Egret.

Also along the way, I saw several large groups that appeared to be conventions of Western Meadowlarks gathered together. The collective noun for a group of larks is an exaltation. When I rolled down my window for a picture, there were many singing as a chorus. There were probably more of meadowlarks than any other species I saw that morning: soaring in the sky, singing to the morning sunlight, setting among the tussocks of bunch grasses and cactus.

Pronghorn Sheep were spotted every once-in-awhile - some close to the road, others in herds at a distance, the back-end of some among the sage brush, a small herd near a fence that runs perpendicular to the fence along the road. All seemed to look over their shoulders at me, as if expecting me to be there watching with some more sinister purpose than shooting video camera images.

A listing for the fauna seen that morning, along Colorado State Highways 160 and 10:

Common Raven - jet back, tall and brave against the approaching car, feasting on fresh road kills
Western Meadowlark - many off both sides of the road, sitting on fence wire, or soaring in the sky
American Kestrel - two sitting on electric wires above the road
Mourning Dove - suddenly appearing after the plains, once I was near irrigated fields in the valley
Wild Turkey - gathered in the morning sunlight
Duck and Egret - on the open man-made lake, behind the levees and tall grass
Pronghorn Sheep - antelope  are found in Africa and Eurasia, not the plains of North America
Mule Deer - dark hair and only the sight of their behinds among the shrubs off Highway 160
Vesper Sparrow, or White-crowned Sparrow, or...... whatever sparrow that is - need to stop to see what is sitting on the fence; not good at identification when driving 65 mph
Brewers Blackbird - Jet black colored, and dull black feathered coast, ready for the first freeze that coming night
Otero County Road Crew - preparing the pavement on Road DD near Road 21 for the coming winter
A audio recording explaining collective nouns for groups of birds.