Saturday, September 27, 2008

Jefferson Memorial

The Jefferson Memorial in Washington D.C. is a good ways away from the other monuments.  The lazy walk around the tide pool to get there is well worth the effort. When we got to the Memorial on our recent trip to the nation's Capitol, I had one of those aha! moments. Why did they build with columns so much in ancient public buildings? It allowed access, free flow of air and light -- I suppose a closed in building in historic times could be a pretty dark and steamy place.

- steve buser

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Gustav's angry seas, frothing sky

Who would have ever thought that if you went more than 200 miles from where a hurricane hit, you would be lashed with tropical storm force winds. Angry seas and frothing skies threatened us for two days in Perdido Key, Florida, where we evacuated from Hurricane Gustav. Gustav, for his part,  was zooming toward New Orleans at the end of August.

--steve buser

Friday, September 19, 2008

Aragonite, the unstable sister

No idea.

I had absolutely no idea there were so many varieties of gems and minerals in the world. We were touring the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. and wandered into the gem and mineral display. I could have spent days in there. But, had to settle on a half hour. Gleaming, beaming, shining, waxing, and every other thing a mineral can do, they were there.

This is a specimen of Aragonite, a strange, and weaker sister of plain calcite.

-- steve buser

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Starling -- the beautiful pest (Sturnus vulgaris)

They're mostly considered a pest. Nonetheless, the they have striking markings. This European Starling came right up to the table as we sat the National Mall, in Washington, D.C. this weekend.

We were just drinking lemonade at the outdoor stand, but across the patio, the couple was enjoying a hamburger and french fries. Suddenly, a Starling swooped in and stole one of the fries from the woman's basket as she held it. Needless to say, she was nonplussed by the theft.

The birds were artificially introduced into the U.S. from Europe.

-- steve buser

Friday, September 5, 2008

Hurricane Gustav gone, getting back to normal

An elderly lady gets escorted on to a evacuation bus last week by a photographer, while a National Guardsman helps with her pet. The thousands who took advantage of the city-provided evacuation by bus and train are now returning home. New Orleans and the region are fighting their way back to normalcy.

Electric companies are reporting that this weekend will be a point by which vast numbers of customers will have had their electricity restored. In this storm, damage to electric infrastructure is the biggest impediment to getting things back to normal and getting people back home.

The state still fights damage and weather worries to the south of New Orleans and up in the northern part of the state. Gustav still is messing up daily life for the folks up Michigan way.

I think many people across the country fail to realize that hurricanes are a threat both to the shore line of the Gulf Coast and Atlantic states, but also to interior states when they unwind and spill the billions of tons of water they have stored and continue to suck from the Gulf.

- steve buser

Wading out Hurricane Gustav

A young man ventures only into the shallow waters, aware of a storm heading into land far to the west. The Perdido Key area in Florida was pounded with heavy winds and violent surf from Hurricane Gustav, but escaped the problems faced in Louisiana where the tropical system wreaked destruction.

-- steve buser

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Hunkering Down from Hurricane Gustav

It was a time for hunkering down Sunday as Hurricane Gustav roared toward Louisiana and made the Perdido Key area in Florida an express lane for winds and rain showers rushing in from the Gulf. Even animals which were used to the elements were having a hard time of things. This bird was finding some shelter from the wind behind the log. It appeared to have an injury of some sort, no doubt from the almost unrelenting gales.

-- steve buser