Monday, July 30, 2007

Cats Tuesday: Wingnut and My Cat

When you live alone for years, you tend to look forward to simple things. Like going to bed and having a special cat under your left arm every night purring loudly, stretching and looking at you with adoration. Buddy is that special cat. Winter nights are a joy because of his companionship. In the summer, Buddy tends to disappear during the night and sleep all day in the house.

Until Wingnut comes for his annual summer vacation. Then Buddy moves out on me and moves in with Wingnut. There are no goodbyes. He sleeps with Wingnut. Follows Wingnut outside. Naps with him. Stretches, purrs and watches Wingnut with adoration. He kisses him!

Wingnut can dump Buddy over as in the photo above. But that's okay because Buddy loves Wingnut. This infatuation that Buddy has had with Wingnut has gone on for four years, ever since they first met.

I'm jealous!

Happy COT!

Note: These photos were exported from video (using QuickTime Pro) that I had made of Buddy's and Wingnut's love fest. They are .png files and poor quality.

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Short History of Pageant Park, Part 3

1936: A winter carnival was held here. 2,500 people attended this Winter Circus. There were dogsled races, sledding, hockey and basketball. Five airplanes landed on Crystal Lake, which had been plowed to make runways. The ice was also cleared for harness racing.

1937: The air temperature was 40°F (4.4°C) and it rained for the Winter Circus. The sponsors never held the event again.

1942: The Barton chapter of the FFA held a ski meet for six northern Vermont schools. The downhill and slalom races were held at the Pageant Park ski trail. Other events were held in other town locations.

A History of Barton Vermont
© 1998 Darlene Young;
Crystal Lake Falls Historical Association;
Barton, Vermont

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Short History of Pageant Park, Part 2

The Ledges

Cutler's gift mandated that the town maintain a road and provide upkeep for the park. The village trustees accepted the gift and created camp sites, a picnic area with tables and fireplaces, installed electric lights, and cut a trail to the spring.

This may be the original spring.
A trail to the ledges continues past this spring.

The Fourth of July, 1924: Cutler presented the park to F. Cutting, a village trustee, during a community picnic.

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Short History of Pageant Park, Part 1

A Short History of Pageant Park at the
South End of Crystal Lake in
Barton, Vermont

The Abenaki Indians gathered in this area during the summers for as late as the 1940s. They sometimes stayed as long as a month to pick berries, fish and to collect plants.

1924: Henry Cutler donated 17 acres of land for a park that would be called Pageant Park. The land extended from the mouth of May Brook to the ledges.

The mouth of May Brook.

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And the Winners are… | The BenSpark

And the Winners are… | The BenSpark

We won! We won a $10 gift certificate to Kodak in Drew's XShot contest. Now I can get Frankie's photo archived forever. Frankie, the meanest cat that ever lived; the greatest cat-love of my life.

I have put Drew's Photo-A-Day link in my sidebar for a couple of reasons. First in thanks. Second his photos truly are good. And third, he has written good posts about photo effects that I use every single day (but I never told him, shame on me).

And the final reason I am drawn to Drew: he is the age of my kids (younger than my oldest and older than my youngest) so that mother-thing in me kicks in, and he's a cute one! He also shares the same great name as my son, Andrew

But why "BenSpark"??

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Racing by Starlight | Futility Closet

Racing by Starlight |Futility Closet

You must see this photo and learn about racetrack stones (follow the link).

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Ruth Stone

We Love Ruth Stone
Middlebury's Ruth Stone,92, selected Vermont's State Poet. Is that the best? Here's one of her gems:

The Cabbage

Click the link above for the full poem by Ruth Stone.
Buy Ruth Stone poetry books.

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Annalee Blysse: Google Earth Challenge

Annalee Blysse: Google Earth Challenge

Annalee's Google Earth maps show a wonderful contrast of Nevada and my area in Vermont.

Grab the button now and try it yourself!

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The Degree Confluence Project

In her post about the Google Earth Challenge, Annalee Blysse linked to the Degree Confluence Project. I like the idea of taking photos at all the points, worldwide, where latitude and longitude intersect. Unfortunately, Vermont is done. All of New England is done. But I can still go to the spots and take my own photos of the four Vermont confluences.

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Looking for Barton Mountain, Part 3

This is the route we traveled today in yellow and red.

Here, yellow shows where we were today and green shows where we should have gone. We were right there! If we had continued down the track that I suspected was the way, we would have done it! But I was starving to death and had to go to the bathroom and it was hot out. Maybe tomorrow we will attempt it again. It depends on the weather and whether we want to go to the beach.

This map zooms out more so that you can see where I live and where I want to go and how I have to get there. This has been on our minds for years but now the pressure is on. Andrew and Dan are coming Labor Day weekend and Andrew specifically said that he wants to hike up my mountain.
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Looking for Barton Mountain, Part 2

After Wingnut and I returned to the car when we found the private residence on Mountain Lane, we took a small hike down a logging trail. We found a huge meadow. A small part of the meadow had been mowed within the past week. There were apple trees that had gone wild there. On the trees I found this catepillar nest.

What was fascinating about the nest was that all the tiny catepillars were waving their bodies at the same beat. One would think they were working together doing this, keeping in rhythm. I am submitting these photos to for identification.

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Looking for Barton Mountain, Part 1

Wingnut and I were looking for an easier way to climb Barton Mountain today. If we climb the mountain from my property we get to the cliffs and would have to hike way around them to get to the summit. So we drove to the other side where there is a private road. On the Google Earth maps it looks as if this road goes to the summit. It doesn't. It goes to private property on a mountain ridge miles from the summit. On the drive back, I saw this woodchuck on top of a boulder in a field. Wingnut took the photos and they were as close as we could get to the animal.

This is how the woodchuck looked to us from the car.
He was quite a distance away.

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Black Grasshopper

Wingnut photographed this black grasshopper this morning in the front door yard. I have put in an identification request at because I could not find any that looked like it.

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Here is the info you need if you use Windows. He even shows you how to make those spinning globes, and does it much better than I did!


Town of Barton, Vermont (Google Earth Challenge)

Here is part of Barton Township with the village of Barton. The village of Orleans is to the north. You can open each image to view them large in a new window. Each was grabbed from Google Earth with Skitch. I also used Skitch to annotate the second image. (Mac only, 4 beta invitations left!)

I give you a Google Earth Challenge: where do you live, work or play? I would enjoy seeing your Google Earth images. You can annotate them or not. I have no idea what Windows software you would use to do what Skitch does. Please leave your link to the Challenge here in the comments! Be sure to grab the button above!

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Tips For GIMP Spinning Globes

Please note: I cannot find the Script-Fu package for you to download right now. Perhaps you can. Perhaps it comes with GIMP and I have completely forgotten!

I had several people ask me for more details about these spinning globes. I don't know anything about Photoshop but I bet you could make them there. I used Skitch to make the image with my name on it and GIMP to make the globe. For brevity, I will assume that you can figure out how to use GIMP. You will also need Script-Fu scripts. Install them in GIMP. And please remember that I am learning all of this myself. I only am giving you the tips that I have learned. I am not telling you that my way is the only way (my way is probably the crookedest way!). Today I found the GIMP wiki and it seems to have a lot of basic information that I need to learn.

On a Mac? Go here for more GIMP info. MAC OS X users: you need to install the X11 windowing protocol which is available at Apple. If I could do it, you can, too. Just e-mail or scream for help. (Or buy MacGIMP on CD and it'll do all that for you. I'm about at the point of doing that myself.)

On Windows? Go here.

Are you really serious about GIMP? Join GUG (GIMP Users Group). Join the Flickr GIMP Users group. They have lots of help in the discussions but you cannot read the discussions unless you join the group.

Now that you are all set up and running GIMP with Script-Fu, open a window or tab with THIS PAGE. The directions there are perfect, almost.

TIP: Scale your image to 1:1 (a square). Square images make spheres, rectangular images make oblate spheroids.
This is the image that I used for these globes:

Experiment with the smallest size image you can tolerate. I went down to 170x170 (px) and after uploading "small" versions in Blogger my yellow spheres are the size you see here. I heard the comments on my first spinning globe: it makes people nuts! So the smaller the better. It made me nuts, I can't even tolerate having my blog page open now. I have to add a few blog posts to push the spinning off my screen.

Play with the direction that you want your globe to spin. I think text is better going right to left instead of the default left to right.

If you use a photograph, you will get a seam in your globe. If you create a graphic image as I did here, without borders, you won't have a seam.

The instructions for saving in the tutorial Spinning Globe link seem to be off a bit (or perhaps it is different for a Mac). This is how I save my gif image after it has been optimized and after I have played it back to make sure it is what I want:

Hit control/shift/S: a dialog box opens. Type in the name of your image and add the .gif suffix. Select the folder that you want to save it to and hit OK or Enter or whatever it says. Then follow the tutorial directions again.

I set the spin rate at 15 for these yellow globes and you can see how fast they are spinning! In fact, I wanted to see if they are any slower than the 100, 200, and 300 ones I have made but I have not checked that out.

Blogger will host animated gifs but they won't animate! You need to host your stuff elsewhere, like ImageShack. You will probably have to play with the size that you import. I imported my yellow globes as "small."

That is all I have at the moment. I will be revising this again tomorrow when I have more energy and am thinking more clearly. Don't stay up all night making these like I did. You will pay dearly for it tomorrow.

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Village of Barton, Vermont

My World

I live outside the village, off of this Skitch from Google Earth.

Photo Hunters: Creative

A Spinning Globe Made Using GIMP

Learn how to make your own here. I used my photo of a pink musk mallow bloom to make this animated gif. Be sure to e-mail me or leave a comment if you want further instructions! In the morning I will update this post with exact instructions but it is now 3 AM. Happy Photo Hunting!


Friday, July 27, 2007

Bats At The Library

Little Brown Bat

Jerry Schneider came to the children's last summer library program today to teach us about bats. I attended because of my own bat experience. The library basement was jammed with over twenty children and approximately ten adults. Jerry showed us slides of photos taken by Merlin Tuttle founder of the Bat Conservation International. After the presentation, the children made their own bat t-shirts with bat stencils and fabric paint.

Skeleton of a little brown bat
  • You can visit bat caves in Dorset, Vermont.
  • There are nine species of bats in Vermont but the little brown bat, Northern long-eared bat, and the big brown bat are most common.
  • Bats pollinate night blooming flowers (none are in Vermont) and they disperse seeds.
  • Vermont bats eat millions of bugs every night.
  • Bat boxes will help keep bats out of your attic.
  • Hawks, owls, skunks and domestic pets prey on bats.
  • Bat babies are called pups.
Examples of what bats eat in New England
  • Bats can live about 34 years but the average life span is 15-25 years.
  • Bats can fly at 35 miles per hour (56.3 kilometers per hour).
  • Bats can see as well as humans so they need to use echo location to prevent flying into things at night and to locate bugs in the air.
  • Best bat book: Stokes Beginner's Guide to Bats
  • A bat's echo location call frequency is from 38-63 kH
  • Bats evolved from rodents. They grew fingers that evolved into wings. They have thumbs to hang off of trees.
  • Only 5% of the reports of rabid bats are true.
Wingnut makes his own bat shirt.
  • Female bats congregate in bat houses, caves and attics to nurse their young. Males are usually alone in trees.
  • If you have a bat in the house, turn off the lights and open the windows so it can escape.
  • You can also use a net or blanket to carefully capture it and free it.
  • Bats have gaps in their teeth so that their echo location call is not blocked.
  • Some bats make echo location calls in their noses.
  • About 50 bats can fit inside a bat house.
  • Put your bat house about ten feet high on the south side of your house.
The design is finished.
  • The bumble bee bat is the smallest bat.
  • Bats are social creatures and need their colonies in order to thrive.
  • Bats are the only flying mammal.
  • Bats are born alive.
  • Bats are attracted to areas with lots of bugs, like fields and marshlands.
  • The pallid bat can hear beetles walking on the forest floor.
  • If slowed down to frequencies that humans can hear, bat calls sound like bird calls.
Painting the design on the shirt.

I talked to Jerry privately after his presentation to ask him if it were true to get the series of rabies shots if you awaken to a bat in your room. He said yes. But he emphasized that the reports of rabid bats are greatly exaggerated.

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Musk Mallow

Malva moschata

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I Hate When This Happens

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Sign of the Day

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Splogs: Watch Out

Splogs are blogs that spam. Greenleaf left a nice comment on my blog two days ago requesting a link exchange. After reviewing his so-called blogs, I politely refused. Suddenly I find my Technorati "blogs that link to me" is filled with Greenleaf's splogs.

I am contacting Technorati. I am also reporting to Blogger (via the NavBar Greenleaf unwittingly left on his splogs). Be sure to click the Blogger link to read about Google's actions on splogs. I urge you to be careful of commenters. I don't know how he targeted me. I don't know if my presence on his splogs resulted in this Technorati mess. If you have any advice, please leave a comment.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Wingnut Jumps!

Turn up the volume and watch Wingnut jump 30 feet (9.144 meters)! Wingnut jumped for four hours this morning. I did not edit the length of each segment, so unless you are Wingnut's mom, aunt or uncle you may think this too long (3'55). That's OK. Enjoy the music!

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Wingut's Toad

Wingnut found a toad out back this afternoon.
The toad is not pleased.

This photo shows how small the toad was in Wingnut's 11 year old hand.

Wingnut wanted a shot of the pattern on the toad's back.
Wingnut tells me this is a toad because of the bumps on its back.
Frogs do not have bumps.

I turned around and saw our doe standing in the road watching us.
She left the road as soon as I picked up the camera.

Wingnut's photo of Jay Peak taken in Morgan, Vermont on this hot and hazy day.

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