Archive for December 2008

Going Home Tomorrow?

The plan is to go home to Iowa tomorrow to spend Christmas plus a little more time with my family. Of course, as always, the weather is playing a factor, and I may get to experience a less extraordinary repeat of last year’s attempt to get home.

You may recall that last year I had a flight on December 21 to Cedar Rapids. That flight was canceled ten hours early due to “weather” (keep in mind it is a less-than-two-hour flight). That cancellation led to a next-day rebooking, and that day’s flight was not canceled until I was at the gate, leading to another flight the following day, which was not canceled until I was on the plane. The good news, of course, was that the airline sent my luggage to Cedar Rapids the day after that. I ended up getting a refund, staying in Colorado, and video conferencing home for Christmas.

In a moment of desperation, there is always the option to jump on the train if the flight is canceled tomorrow, but that is a real gamble. Last time I took the train (the only time really, so this is not exactly a statistically significant sample) it departed Denver seven hours late.

I do hope to go home tomorrow. When things go wrong, however, I am surprisingly calm and patient in the face of massive disruptions to my plans. After all, what can I really do about it?

Happy holidays (and safe and effective travels) everyone.

Austin Bat Report

This is a follow-up to my earlier post “The Austin Bat Bridge“.

This post is mostly about bats. First, however, is a couple turtles I observed while on the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge (i.e., the bat bridge).

Turtles

Now to the main event: the bat report. In my earlier post, I expressed disappointment that the bats would not be around while I planned to be in Austin. The good news is that some stragglers were still living there.

On my first day in Austin, I walked across, around, and under both ends of the bridge and could hear a lot of squeaking noises coming from under the bridge. It must be much louder during the summer.

img_2502

Bat Bridge Banner

I went out again to observe the bridge as the sun was setting, hoping to see something. I was not the only one, though, as twenty, or so, people had the same idea at the north end of the bridge. As the light was fading, the bats came out, although I did not see a large, dark swarm. Instead, I saw a few bats flying around above me.

I took some pictures, but they waited until it was pretty dark to come out, so here’s the situation: I had to crank the ISO of my camera up to 1600. Translation: the sensor becomes more light sensitive, but it also increases the noise (graininess) in the image. In spite of the increased sensitivity, I was still having to use exposure times between 1/80 and 1/40 of a second at full aperture (the depth of field — the range of distances at which objects appear to be in focus — is very shallow at wide apertures). That shutter speed is pretty slow for a bat picture. You should take the above discussion as a warning that you are going to see out-of-focus bat blurs, rather than bats.

Bat Blur

Bat Blur

A closer look at the previous bat blur:

Bat Blur Close-upOne more blur pair:

Bat Blur

Bat Blur Close-up

Bighorn Sheep

I just happened to run across a group of bighorn sheep when I was up in the foothills conducting some business. They were actually standing on the opposite side of the highway from the destination in my mission.

Bighorn Sheep

The ram on the left has an identification tag on his neck.

Here is a closer look.

Bighorn Sheep

Status Report

Well, the past few weeks have been filled with a variety of activities. First, I was gone to a conference in Austin, as discussed in earlier posts. Then I came back to Colorado for half a week before traveling to Seattle for a few days over Thanksgiving weekend. After returning, my brother came to visit for five days and we spent a couple of those days skiing.

I expect to be in Colorado until Christmas, although it is possible that will change on short notice. You can look forward to a future post containing photos of bighorn sheep that I saw while on a mission in the foothills. Additionally, I am planning a follow-up post on the bats in Austin. Some bats were still living under the bridge, and I managed to capture a few photos. It was pretty dark, however, necessitating a long exposure. You will see what I mean later.