Saturday, August 28, 2010

Flying to Oklahoma

It's really not the flying that's bad - it's the business of flying, or the flying business, that messes with the enjoyment and the convenience and even the safety of flying.
So, I bought my ticket and then bought a two way ride on the airport shuttle via the internet. The shuttle was to come about 2 hours before take off. And as the time when the shuttle should have come, passed, I decided to call the company to find out where they were. The lady answered and asked my name and then, rattled off my address confirming I had paid for my trip to the airport.

I asked when the shuttle would arrive, she said that it was about a mile from my door and then walked away for 15 minutes. Then, I hung up and the called again but the man that answered, said I did not have a confirmed pick up... I said I did and to please find my name. He did, and said the driver said I was a no show and drove away. There went 27 dollars. After some time with a rush of high blood pressure, I found that the confirmation had my address wrong - instead of 71 they had a 17.... He said to get a taxi .... so, I did. That was an extra 60 dollars to get to the nearby airport. When I got there, the flight was delayed by two hours because of weather. This was a connecter route. Oklahoma has very few direct flights. SO I sat there.
Finally, the plane came in, and then, some folks got off and they started to load the cargo bay with luggage. They called us up and we dutifully stood in line while they called over the PA for folks to volunteer to not get on the flight. A few folks did, but if I did, I would miss my connector to Oklahoma and would be stranded in Denver.... where all the weather was.

When I finally got on board someone behind me said they needed folks to get off because ... wait for it... THE PLANE WAS TOO HEAVY!!! The decision... fuel vs passengers... usually is done while making the plane and then before booking the plane.... This is what airlines must do all of the time, but this four seat across bird was maybe half full. What in hell was wrong? Then as we pulled away from the building, the stewardess said that the air conditioner was broken but not to worry.... "at 2500 feet it's really cool up there!" WHAT!?? Just as we pointed our noses toward the runway under the intense heat of 100+ outside, the pilot said the tower said all of Denver was closed and we would not be allowed up for at least another 1/2 to and hour. I got my things, and walked up to the cockpit and said, "I need to get off." When I looked behind me a number of other passengers were doing the same thing.

The United Airlines gal at the counter gave me a ticket for a one way shot to OK if I could get to LAX from where I was, BUR. I walked to the Economy Rent a car and that would have cost 50 bucks. So, I crossed the street to the shuttle and they got me someone who would take me to LAX for.... 26 dollars.

I got to LAX and on the plane to Oklahoma, but the seats were TINY! and TWISTED! You could not site straight because the seat by the window was leaning in toward the cabin because it was not attached horizontally. It hurt my back just to sit.

While I was writhing, I saw the weather pass by. Lots of lightening.

I prefer the train. It's much more civilized.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Back at Petropavlovsk from Uzon

Russ is back at the town of Petropavlosk downloading pictures of his trip and sampling. He has not been able to shower for two days because the hot water is broken. So, he says, he has the table at the coffee shop all to himself.

Go to his photo stream and blog to read and see where he went and what he did...

Friday, August 06, 2010

Water comes and goes in a wetland in California

Putting out traps for an insect study at Mugu can be a challenge if the area is inundated with the tides. One site this year I will only set sticky traps while the other sites I set drop traps (85% water, 14 +% ethanol, a couple of squeezes of Dawn dish soap). Diptera is the group that is found in most abundance. Hemitera in some places is second, but Hymenoptera is usually the second most abundant insect Family with Chalcids, Halictidae sometimes Apidae making the second group very challenging to identify. I have been looking at the insects of Mugu since 2001 and somehow I collect something that stumps and surprises me - which is wonderful!

Every time I walk out in the marsh I feel great peace. The birds, like this little Plover which was running around the clumps of algae in the collecting pools, mostly try to ignore me if I am not too close. As the algae dies and dries it turns white. All of the little horn snails, Cerithidea, and the crabs make clicking noises in the mud. The soft breezes and the distant waves are sweet.

As the water evaporates in low tide, the smallest particles at the top of the mud bank dry faster then the heavier sediment, and start shrink and crack. The water in the mud below is exposed to the air and starts to dry too puling away and cracking along the same lines. There are fungal rings that grow as the water recedes - though not in this picture - like the flower rings in vernal or ephemeral pools.

When I walk in these area I sink sometimes up to my knees. But the little birds, like the plover above, leave tracks on top. But if you look at the bottom picture, a stilt left its footprints and its middle long toe continued to crack beyond the impression. For just a second, when I saw the tracks, 'reptile' jumped to my mind... until I looked closer.... Mugu does not have reptiles THAT big....

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Back at Mugu!

Cicindela gabbi! So, pretty! It has taken up residence in the Central Basin of the Estuary of Mugu. There were many larvae burrows so next year the place will be jumpin'... that is unless the plovers feast on them!
There is something magical about the wetland. The birds, so many of them, call to each other and at each other. Some places I get yelled at because I am too close to nests or feeding grounds. As the sun sets the seed pods glow with the back light.
Fungus in concert with algae produce incredible colors. The blacks are really black and the green puts your eyes in a twitch!
It's almost like going to the moon - no, Mars.