An unpalatable trade

Great Blue Heron on Lake ClarkeThe 17-foot Old Town Tripper canoe glides easily across the water. A light blue sky mirrors off the surface, blocking the subsurface view in any direction but straight down. A tweak of the Moose polarizer on the end of the camera lens blocks the reflection; suddenly a large Smallmouth bass hovers above a patch of water-weed.

This time of year, a younger me would be swimming a quarter-mile and back across another lake, through the place where a spring created a cold spot – where the upwelling water would make that the last spot to freeze come winter. But there are laws, or at least local ordinances, against swimming in water that isn’t chemicalized and confined by concrete shores. A state regulator once told me we humans exude our medications into the water supply, and treatment plants cannot keep up with removing them.Read more

A studio at the edge of the woods

Leucistic House SparrowWatching the clouds drift in, and I watch them drift away again. (With apologies, or at least a nod, to Otis Redding.)

A Downy Woodpecker arrived, stopping to check a fence post for bugs, prompting a pair of House Sparrows to break away from the feeder to assume guard positions at the bird house mounted at the top of the post. Unsatisfied, the Downy moved away, and tried to rustle up some grub from nearby tomato stakes.Read more

Illegal alien has nothing to do with it

The national network news reported a young women shot and killed July 1 on a San Francisco pier. She was reportedly out for a stroll with her dad and a family friend.

The shooter, police said, was a Mexican citizen, deported from this country five times. From news reports, the crimes that resulted in his previous deportations were possession of marijuana and being here without permission. He was free to walk the streets last week because, though he had been charged with possession of $20 worth of marijuana, he had been released to await further court action. San Francisco is a so-called “sanctuary city” with laws prohibiting turning illegal aliens over to federal immigration authorities upon their release from prison resulting from non-violent charges.Read more

No speed record – yet

Solar Impulse 2 over Abu DhabiThe aircraft took off from Nagoya, Japan, Sunday on a planned 120-hour flight to Hawaii. Clearly, it is not out for a speed record; it was cruising at a ground speed of about 10 miles an hour when I watched it online.

In 2010, the craft flew a then-record breaking 26 consecutive hours. When it landed, it reportedly had enough battery left for another six hours in the air. Only five years later, the flight from Japan to Hawaii is scheduled for nearly five times as long. The goal is a 13-segment flight around the world – a seemingly easy feat for nearly any four-motored aircraft – except this one is powered by the sun.

Solar panels on the wings and fuselage charge the batteries during the day, while the airplane climbs as high as 30,000 feet. Then during the night, it runs the battery-powered motors in a long, slow, descent. Along the way, pilot and CEO André Borschberg snatches 20-minute naps.Read more