Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Pause for breath...
Originally uploaded by for the birds1
There were so many good pictures from our hike, so I decided to upload a bigger set to Flickr now that Nov. is here (you can add only 100MGB per month) . Click on the photo to see more. Once you get to Flickr, click on Tongariro set to get the pictures in sequence.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Wellington Public Library

For you bibliophiles, welcome to the Wellington Library...the entrance from the Civic Plaza leads you directly to coffee and assorted tables on the second floor, which overlooks the books below.
Walking in to the coffee bar, my first thought was that this must be a Borders! No wonder people were using the library---books were quite expensive (even in used book stores, trade-sized paberbacks were going for $18.).

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Farewell Auckland, New Zealand

Farewell Auckland
Originally uploaded by for the birds1
Oct 22: Time to fly home, but in morning we took a quick ferry to Devonport to get a good harbor view---Dwight also had to check out a used book store there.

We took a 3:00 pm flight from Auckland and arrived in LA at 6:25 am the same day!!! (we crossed the international date line). Now we're back in Sacto. and can decompress.

The trip was an excellent adventure and New Zealand has some wonderful sights.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Winding down to ChristChurch

Near Arthur's Pass
Originally uploaded by for the birds1
Oct. 19: Long drive to Christchurch, with stop at Nelson Lakes for hike in beech forest. Only sandflies of the trip joined us for picnic lunch at the lake, so we ran back to the car.

Oct. 20: big 40th anniv day. All day train trip across the Alps, stopping at Moana for a nice lunch followed with a tour by the innkeepers. First sunny day of the trip, fantastic views from the train (generally regarded as one of the best in the world). Lamb dinner back in ChCh, a two-dessert dinner!

Oct. 21: Another sunny day in the faux-British atmosphere of the town. Strolled thru the lovely botanic gardens, then had high tea
at the nearby uber-British Mona Vale estate. Flew back to Auckland this evening.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Abel Tasman National Park in South Island

Oct 17---Crossed to South Island on ferry. Made dolphin watch tour to Motuara Island sanctuary. Closest to any dolphin we came was a fur seal. Island had friendly South Island robins. We got rained out on way back to Picton. Rip-off.
Arrived at primitive hostel at Old Macdonald's farm in dark---very dark; we had to find our own shed in rain. We never did find the outdoor toilets!
Oct 18---were supposed to have all-day kayaking in Abel Tasman National Park, but we missed the boat. Instead we had a wonderful hike along the coast after being dropped off by water taxi for part of trail.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Wellington area

Oct 14: Stopped at Mt. Bruce Bird Sanctuary to feed Kaka. Dinner at the Tin Hut, and sleep at Longwood House.
Oct. 15-16: Wellington and environs, a great city to visit. Karori Sanctuary was exceptional and home to shags, North Island Robins, and many Tui, fantails, bellbirds, saddlebacks,...Botanical gardens were hillish, with an orienteeringly unacceptable map. Lots of restaurants and museums, and the public library looked like Border's.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tongariro Crossing

Middle ascent
Originally uploaded by for the birds1
Tues. Oct 13: Winter conditions, got forced to join a guided group with iceaxes. Went off on our own after lunch to finish the Crossing. Whiteout conditions at the top (photos misleading, no point taking any until a few seconds of clearing). 12 mlles, 900 m. climb. Made it in 8 hrs.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Volcanic and geo-thermal areas near Rotorua

Oct. 11: Arrived in Waitomo to see glow-worm cave; Ruakuri Tunnel hike. On to Rotorua for Maori Hangi feast, complete with warrior dance and fine dining. Dwight served as honorary chief of our tourist tribe.

Oct. 12: Hiked Waimangu Volcanic valley and Wai-O-tapu with many geothermal features, including the amazing Champagne pool. Tomorrow is the big 11 mile Tongariro Crossing hike. We've been forced to hire a guide because of recent snow and ice. They'll supply ice axes and crampons. More pix to follow, if we survive.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Tiritiri Matangi Island

Originally uploaded by for the birds1
Mammal free wildlife preserve, all rats poisoned. Humans allowed by permit only. Sat Oct. 10, 2009. An amazing place---click on pic to see more.

Friday, October 9, 2009


Originally uploaded by for the birds1
Aaauck! We're in Auckland. Lots of Awkward birds. Click foto to see more.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Praying Mantis

Praying Mantis
Originally uploaded by for the birds1
I'm praying to get the hang of posting pictures from Flickr before we leave on Wednesday for New Zealand...if you want to view more photos, you'll have to view the photostream. (???)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Testing, testing

Sutter Buttes 09
Originally uploaded by for the birds1
We are going to New Zealand in a few weeks, and we're trying to figure out how best to post pictures. (Not everyone we know is on Facebook). We shall see...

This photo was taken at Sutter Buttes, right here in northern California. It is the world's smallest mountain range.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Happy International Vulture Awareness Day

Yes, we should be aware of our fine-feathered friends, the vultures. There are three species found in northern North America: 1) the Turkey Vulture, which is spread over all the lower 48 states 2) the Black Vulture which can be seen in south eastern US 3) the California Condor which has been re-introduced in California, Arizona and Baja.

Some interesting factoids about vultures:
1. Vultures are a good example of convergent evolution. New World Vultures (listed above) share similar diets, behavior, and appearance with Old World Vultures, yet the groups are not related taxanomically.
2. Turkey Vultures especially are highly migratory. They are the most common raptor seen at the Veracruz River of Raptors in Mexico.

We should appreciate the vultures as well; they provide a valuable service to us, acting as our carrion clean-up crew. Let's hear it for the vultures!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Another bird, another dollar

We just adopted a lost cockatiel that was found along the American River; and I thought I was done with that stage of my life. Like getting rid of baby cribs, toys, etc., I had given away my cockatiel cage and other bird paraphernalia years ago. (We still have one foster budgerigar, but he is not going to share his cage with a noisy cockatiel).

So I found a decent cage at the Bird Shop and rather than pay to get a perch, we were going to find some manzanita to make a good perch. Well, manzanita doesn't grow in the Sacramento area, so fortunately I looked online before I cut off a branch of one of my fruit trees for a perch and killed the poor orphan bird. According to the Cockatiel Cottage, there are trees that can poison a cockatiel, many of them belonging to the prunus species, including apricot, peach and plum. Back to the Bird Shop for perches, food, etc. At least this time I didn't fall into the trap of buying bird toys. Cockatiels would rather play with humans and things than toys. Our long deceased cockatiel would always chew on the most expensive Magik trading card and the oak antique furniture. Birds have an uncanny sense of knowing how to get your attention when they want it (maybe birds were children in a former life).

It didn't take long for Louie, to adapt to(I should really say train) us. The first night in our home, he really started to talk and whistle and sing and peck on his cage when I put him into the cage for bed time. He still tries it every night at bedtime, but I am being firm and the talking ceases after 15 minutes (didn't we go through this with the kids, too?). Ah well, it's a new adventure, and at least it got me to post something for the birds instead of Facebook.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Mockingbirds can identify specific people and react to those they don't trust

Talk about bird intelligence: the mockingbird has come in to the limelight recently as a result of a study of how this species adapts to urbanization.
The focus of the study was 24 mockingbird nests in an urban area. Ten people with varying dress, hair, etc. would approach the nests and touch them; by the third such attempt, the birds would attack the researchers (one of the students had to park their car around the block because the bird even recognized the car and would sound the alarm). The birds could identify specific people and would ignore others. The conclusion of the study: mockingbirds are "naturally perceptive about their environment, especially threats to their nests." My conclusion: don't mess with a mother bird.

There have been many studies linking bird intelligence with ability of birds to mimic human speech. Mockingbirds mimic other birds, not humans, to attract females; that seems pretty intelligent to me. The big mystery is why mockingbirds imitate other birds rather than create their own songs.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Followers or not, here I come

The comic strip below shows a new problem I've had to deal with: finding followers (or not). I signed up for Facebook and lo and behold, I discovered there is a NatureNetwork of blogs which is part of Networked blogs which are all linked to Facebook. I signed up for it and passed the test of putting the NetworkedBlogs gadget on my blog. The problem is that was just the beginning...

To have RSS feeds of my blog pulled into their network, I have to have at least four followers also on Facebook! Here is this big NetworkedBlogs gadget on the right side of my blog that showed only one follower---me. Enough already!!! I deleted that gadget and concluded I can always post my blog to my Facebook wall manually.

I refuse to feel pressured into some popularity contest: how many people are following you? I don't need to add anything else to my insecurities! Oh well, it was worth a try; and it's amazing how much easier it was to post the comic below this time around!

What, I need followers?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Creating a Healthy Yard for Birds and You

The Sacramento Audubon Society has a wonderful and very detailed website about making your yard and garden more bird and human friendly based on excerpts from Bringing Nature Home by Tallamy. The premise is that you should introduce more native plants. The challenge has been issued: Take action! Minimize lawn.

The pictures show part of my flower/vegetable garden. But what about the rest of the yard? (Twenty square feet down and 200 to go). We have lived in our home for 25 years, and believe me, I have tried many things to make my yard bird and human friendly (some things have succeeded, some have failed):
1. remove grass: easier said than done when you're dealing with Bermuda grass. Even in my flower beds and garden, I have to continuously go back and dig out more of the pernicious roots. In the book Epitaph for a Peach, the author describes how his farming family for generations has been struggling with Bermuda grass.
2. less invasive plants: we moved in to a well-established suburb and got our quarter acre. The problem is that quarter acre was filled with very invasive plants: ivy (chop and hack, but make sure you dig out the roots) and bamboo (you would be amazed what the roots of bamboo can do to plumbing 15 feet away!).
3. replace with native plants appropriate to the site: this is where it gets tricky. The problem with an old suburban plot is that you don't know where the soil has been! These old suburbs had soil brought in originally from elsewhere. I swear there are parts of my front yard that are toxic to anything, even weeds. My daughter convinced me to do a soil test. In one spot, the alkalinity tested so high that it was off the chart! (No wonder my peppers never grew there).
I think I'm going to have to replace soil before I can replace any more plants.
I like the next suggestion that was made:
4. take it easy. "The transformation from lawn to wildlife habitat takes time. Tackle only as much as you can, remembering that removal must be paired with replacement."
To be continued...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

You are what you Tweet (or blog, post, etc.)

Having finished 27Things, I was investigating Facebook to decide whether or not to join, and my first thought was: "Does anyone want to know what I'm eating for dinner?" This was the initial question I had about Twitter. I am now an avid user of Twitter and have come to realize that blogs, Twitter, Facebook etc. are tools to use as you will. I am trying to use these tools to find connections and links to things I enjoy and for self-education.

There was a thought-provoking article posted by arstechnica (a tweeter) that concluded from a HubSpot study that the majority of Web users like to sit on the sideline, especially when it comes to user generated content . To be more specific: only 0.2% of Flickr users uploaded pictures; only 0.16% of YouTube traffic uploaded video. Of Twitter's 4.5 million accounts, 54.9% have never tweeted and 52.7% have no followers.
In a survey of Facebook users done by frogloop, the conclusion was that Facebook users don't pay much attention to most of their online friends. Only a small fraction of the 179,000 nonprofits that use Facebook Causes have brought in $1,000; and less than1% of Facebook members who have joined a Cause actually have donated money.
I don't know what statistics are out there for blogs, but I can't imagine that all 56 million of them are active and exciting.

The conclusion I have reached is that we are humans, and not all humans have the same interests or abilities or levels of involvement. These web tools enable us to find to find other humans with similar interests to form a community (that's a great part of Web 2.0). Wikipedia defines community as a "group of people with a complex net of overlapping commonalities". I'll tweet to that!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Twitter---21st Century Carrier Pigeon

I just happened to sign up for Twitter at a history-making time. As a commentator stated, "...Twitter is much, much more than a celebrity vanity tool. The Iranian uprising has shattered that myth...In the hands of freedom-loving dissidents, the micro-blogging social network...undermines the information blockades one Tweet at a time."

Even though the press and internet was blocked in Iran, photos got out by Tweets and Facebook. I got pulled into this movement by first discovering on BoingBoing the Cyber War Guide for Iran. I was amazed that Twitter users in the US were setting up proxies for Tweets from Iran, were re-tweeting messages, etc. There is also a very human, emotional connection made. I am now following a tweeter in Iran along with over 27,000 others. His Tweets are riveting and are always made on the move; it is a life and death situation for some there. Someone in the State Department on Monday even requested that Twitter defer maintenance to keep channels open for Iran.

History is being made now and demonstrates that Twitter can be used as a powerful social network that disseminates information and hope when the larger cyber networks and press are shut down.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Heading for the Finish Line of 27Things

Well, it's been fun; I really mean that! I have enjoyed learning the tools of Library/Web 2.0. The focus of Web 2.0 is the community and sharing (everything from the "social" Delicious to sharing links in Twitter).

My whole concept of learning was changed. My son used to call me a "Luddite" because I had an aversion to technology. I sent him my blog URL after about ten posts, and he commented "my world has turned upside down!". My world altered dramatically, too: I deleted "I can't" and "I won't" from my vocabulary and used instead "I'll try". After I've tried it, I can choose to use it or not.

Granted, there were a few mishaps, but the computer and/or my head didn't explode. Just don't ask me to retrace my steps, because I took many circuitous routes (although if asked, I'm sure someone at Google could trace my steps). I'll probably forget some things anyway (passwords included) or the tools will change; but at least I learned how to learn on the computer and how to be a little more patient (remember the slower, earlier days of computers when a patron or I would impatiently press the print key too many times and get 20 copies?).

As I said earlier, some of the 27Things will be ongoing. Just when I thought I was almost done, I read an article about Web 3.0 (I'm not done with 2.0 yet!) which gave examples like iGoogle. I googled "iGoogle", and believe it or not, my own iGoogle page was ready for fine-tuning at Google. I have already replaced Bloglines with the Google reader; next I want to try Google Documents instead of Zoho. And then there is Facebook to consider to get access to friends' photos... There really isn't a finish line, is there?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Something for everyone?

Well, according to the text in Thing number 26, I should be feeling like a "real tech pro". I'm feeling more like the fledgling pictured on the key board. Did you notice in this picture, the bird is on the backspace key? I also seem to spend a lot of my time there, as well as in edit mode.

I was quite amazed by the amount of information and pictures one should be able to squeeze into Thingfo! After a few false starts, I managed to get some content into my Thingfo. The control over your Thingfo input seems to vary by your choice of medium: in Twitter, you have to list each specific Twitterer (user name) whereas in Flickr, you just list a tag or category (same goes for Delicious). I wanted to add posts under Blogger, but the URL's I added didn't work (it said RSS URL which must be different from regular URL?). I put my Thingfo on my blog without Blogger input. I can always go back and edit and add; and there's always the backspace key.

P.S. I discovered in my second entry into Thingfo that it is under Twitter management---no wonder it was so easy to feed Tweets!
P.P.S. An RSS URL is different than the regular URL; at the blog site, you have to click on the RSS key and copy and paste that URL to Thingfo to get the RSS feeds. Note that I now have posts in my Thingfo.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Magpies, Unite!

On my morning magpie count, I heard a lot of squawking, and I found two juvenile magpies teasing a cat. It got a little better when one of the birds actually pecked the cat. The cat showed great forbearance and didn't reduce the magpie population by two.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Good Tiding of Magpies

Yes, a group of magpies is a tiding. I was out at seven this morning counting magpies as part of the June5-8 Audubon magpie survey. Magpies are easy to find since they are large and noisy.

The reason I'm sharing this is to show you the progress I have made in overcoming my computer phobia: I had to report my observations on eBird, including using google maps to zoom in on my location. Thank you 27Things.
P.S. I just realized that I have 27 posts already and I still have 2 more Things to do; oh well, learning is supposed to be an on-going Thing.

Sunday, May 31, 2009


I am very ambivalent about Twitter and have pondered the pro's and con's. To be really clever I was going to Tweet these arguments for and against; however, on trying to reapply to Twitter (they remembered my name,etc.!), I was temporarily locked out because I couldn't remember my password and tried too many times to sign in!! Imagine, at my age being locked out of Twitter.

In the meantime, I'll have to blog it the old fashioned way. Arguments for Twitter (in 140 characters or less):
1. good way to share ideas, technologies, and links (you can even make the links smaller)
2. for survival in tricky spots, e.g. waterless in the middle of the desert (c'mon there's always Twellow)
3. brevity is the soul of wit
4. you can always ignore the "What are you doing" prompt, the Twitter police won't get you (they only lock you out).
5. you can "retweet" to share someone's ideas: "retweeting@username" then paste

Arguments against Twitter:
1. your thoughts are stored in your account in perpetuity; they may come back to haunt you
2. the English language is taking a big hit; who cares about grammar and spelling? pidgin here we come.
3. TwitterLit twitters the 1st lines of books. Sometimes the power of a book falls beyond the 1st 140 characters.
4. even news sometimes needs more than 140 characters for the full story
5. in Twitter for Librarians, King said "you can check out potential colleague's twitter feed to see if you'd personally like them or not" (I don't like what he just said)

So, 5 pro's and 5 con's; the deciding factor will have to be whether or not I can re-enter Twitter or will forever be persona non Twitter.

Friday, May 29, 2009

My cousin, Charlie

I selected the Spanish Course to learn (again) from Mango Language Online. I say "again" because I took Spanish in college many years ago and I didn't retain any of it. Part of the reason for my failure to learn is because I never really learned to "think" in Spanish, hence my "cousin Charlie" above (he is an excellent mimic).

Of all talking birds, budgerigars are the best mimics; Puck is the world record holder, with a vocabulary of 1,728 words. But beyond mimicry, other talking birds hold first places in cognitive ability and intelligence. African Greys not only can have fairly large vocabularies, but the famous Alex understood the concept of zero. Crows have been known to use stick tools to get food. You get the idea---learning a language goes beyond just parroting the words(did I really say that?). So, I vow to use Mango to learn Spanish again and try to "think" Spanish!
P.S. I've never heard a bird speaking a different language; unless you count the opera singing parrot.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Road Trip May 09

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Road Trip May 09
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
Make a Smilebox slideshow

Home, Sweet/Simple Home

We took a quick plane/road/ferry trip through Portland, Seattle, Victoria, and Vancouver. We saw lots of water, some birds and gardens, and a few libraries. A friend suggested that the new Seattle central library was worth a visit, but unfortunately, it wasn't open on Memorial Day. Instead, I had to Google it. Considering that a ten-year $290 million system wide project was just completed (including a new Central library with 500 computers!), I was not impressed with their Home Page. It was too "busy"; they also devoted a lot of space to touting their tours of the library (at that price, I guess they have bragging rights---does that sound like sour grapes?).

But back to Home. To be balanced, I googled SPL to see how it fared in comparison. I was brought via computer to the Catalog page and was quite impressed with the simplicity of Sacramento Public Library's streamlined look. The Home Page had the crucial tabs across the top and in the upper right hand corner were the most used tools: Search, Reserve a Computer, and My Account. When looking for a specific library branch, also listed were libraries in the same general vicinity. SPL is doing a valiant job of keeping the "wired" generation in mind. It is a necessity---I noticed that even on the ferries, there were many computer users plugged in.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

First Things First

By now you may realize that I have a tendency to do things in reverse order; or in following a map, I choose the wrong direction. In exploring the OverDrive Digital Library, I thought I would start by watching the OverDrive Tutorial. It took over a minute to load each minute of tutorial for a grand total of over an hour. I was thinking "This can't be right" while I numbly continued to watch each step load. When it was over (finally), I went on to FAQ's. I think it was there I discovered that the Tutorial requires Flash installation and the prompt will tell you that. I didn't see any such prompt---it should flash in big red letters for a beginner like me. I read elsewhere that the first step should be to download OverDrive Console.

The Virtual Branch is amazing. The E-medium isn't my first choice, but I understand some people really prefer it; it can also be adapted for the blind. You don't even get charged late fees, although if the item is overdue, you can no longer open the file. It was easier to get into my library account than it used to be (or maybe it's just that I am more used to the computer---remembering one password is nothing). I was browsing in the audio books and the first item that flashed in front of my eyes in the self improvement section was "10-Minute Stress Manager"; I put it in my "shopping cart". Instead of checking it out, I signed out and turned off the computer! Feeding the birds is still my best stress reducer.

P.S. The Macaulay Library of the Cornell Lab has the world's largest archive of animal sounds and video; that's where WREN radio got her bird sounds.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Subscribe Now

That magic word, subscribe, was making me a little nervous in my foray through the world of podcasts. My husband was nervous too; enough to create an account of my own on the computer! Since we don't have iTunes installed, I tried a few book reviews in the Podcast directory. I love Michael Palmer's medical thrillers, so I selected a review of his newest, "Second Opinion". In my (2nd) opinion, the review wasn't a review, it was just a summary that was eight minutes too long (that's the function of the book jacket). The reviewers didn't even rate the books---if I were a popular author, I would ask them not to review my book!

It wasn't so easy to pull an RSS feed into my Bloglines account from Podcast; I could send a feed to Facebook, Digg, etc.---anywhere but Bloglines. So instead, I sent an RSS feed to my blog (see WREN Radio below My Favorite Sites on the right side of the blog). One other problem with Podcasts is that they did not search all podcasts, just the ones in their collection. I was trying to find Bill's Podcast, This Birding Life, and it was nowhere in Podcast. Oh well, you can't hear everything.

P.S. I just found this bird post from grandCentral's blog; check it out!

Friday, May 15, 2009

YouTube as a source for scientific study

Snowball is a world famous cockatoo who even has his own Wikipedia entry. The bird is famous because he can dance. And how! Dr Patel and his researchers recently published an article in "Current Biology" about Snowball and other dancing animals after extensive study. Yes, Snowball is actually dancing: his movements and leg lifts slow when the music slows.

The whole idea of the research was to prove the hypothesis that some animals, like humans, have evolved the capacity to mimic sounds they hear; this can lead to talking and dance. To further their research, Patel's team searched YouTube for videos of other dancing animals. Of about 1,000 such videos, 33 showed convincing evidence of animals following the musical beat: 14 types of of parrots and one elephant (yes, it is a recently established fact that elephants are vocal mimics).

The conclusion: some animals, like Snowball, have great rhythm.

Some white birds can dance

Thursday, May 14, 2009

So Many Sites

In perusing the Web 2.0 Awards nominees (174 Web 2.0 sites in 41 categories), I felt almost overwhelmed and so I clicked on the short list. The short list was quite helpful in giving a quick over view of the top three sites in all the categories. It was noteworthy that in the category of "News and Blog Guides", Google Blog Search was #1, Bloglines #2, and Technorati #3. Del.icio.us was #1 in Bookmarking. The short list would be a useful guide to steer people in the right direction for general "what would I use for..." questions.

Since I hadn't eaten for awhile and we're going on a road trip soon, I selected the Food category. The #1 site for Food was "imcooked". However, that site is a web community for video recipe sharing, and I was looking for something that could be useful in travel. Most helpful was the Urbanspoon. It was quite useful, because it listed for each city, the restaurants by type (hungry for Indian?)and neighborhood. With a click, you can get a map; another click gives you cross streets, phone #, etc. At the page for a specific restaurant, you can get a menu. (I think if the restaurant doesn't present a menu, I wouldn't bother). There are also reviews of some, voting, and price range. Urbanspoon would be really helpful when you're traveling, especially if you have a mixed bag like our family where two out of five are vegetarians. I can see this web site being more useful at a Visitor's Bureau than a library, but we do get visitors at the library as well. Bon appetit!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Time Out

The other night I got home from work and my husband handed me his library card and requested 20 minutes on the computer. In my B 27 (before 27 Things) life, I never touched the computer at home! At least I remember to feed the birds!!

A word of warning to other new bloggers like me: view your blog in a new window before moving on! In one of my earlier posts, I inserted a link, and when I viewed it, the link was to a confirmation of a reservation my husband had made with too much information. (yes, we are still married). OOPS. It's almost time out for vacation.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Do you know...

Do you know....that the collective name for a group of crows is murder? If you didn't, don't feel bad because you're not alone. I was explaining to someone that in an earlier blog, I had a picture of a murder of crows and I got an EEEW because she thought I was being bloodthirsty. In a local branch poll, one person knew what a murder of crows meant.

Someone else asked if that was like an exultation of larks? Well, that was new to me, so I thought it was time to take a closer look at COLLECTIVE BIRD NAMES WE KNOW (or don't):

A murder of crows,
pietousness of doves,
charm of finches,
gaggle of geese,
brace of ducks,
rafter of turkeys,
peep of chickens,
lamentation of swans,
and so the list goes on.

In an "{openbrackets" column on the web, collective names for animals was called one of the "loveliest inventions of the English language". The author goes on to suggest making up some collective names for people, e. g., a "bloat of politicians" . Others added contributions, e.g., a "meme of bloggers". It looked like a perfect example of how Zoho Writer could be used to collaborate on the web. How about a "net of webbers"?

P.S. This was posted from Zoho Writer after a heroic effort to find the key to do it (I hope I didn't sell my firstborn ).

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Wiki certainly seems to be popular:
  • Blogging libraries wiki
  • WikiSpot
  • Wikify the OPAC, etc.
It blogs my mind that you can Wikify the OPAC! Can you imagine managing that site. But seriously, the concept of a collaborative website has some great uses. WIKI seems to be like a giant bulletin board with input from everyone or anyone. I played in the WIKI sandbox for a little bit, but to me it seemed a little bit lonely; you're connecting before or after but never with.

I have used Wikipedia from time to time, but now more than ever after seeing how easy it is to EDIT and SAVE with WIKI, I question the "authority" (veracity?) of the information. I'm back to sources again. The recent Dilbert cartoon below really sums it up.

Dilbert says it all

Saturday, May 9, 2009

(Library) Traffic Director

Pyongyang - Traffic director
Originally uploaded by p!ng
This idea of pause leads into thoughts on Library 2.0. "Away from the icebergs" used the analogy of the library as a boat, with librarians "rowing heroically". I see a library more as a space where the staff are traffic directors, directing streams of information and users. Using pause as a service model can help direct the users to get to the information they need: 1.breathe (maybe count to 10) 2.organize 3.act

Pause...don't panic

I was in the dentist's office the other day waiting...while waiting, I read a survival column in an adventure magazine about how to respond in a life or death situation. The author's main point was that it is important to pause; otherwise the body's automatic fight or flee response could get you into trouble. The three things you should do to pause: 1.breathe 2.organize 3.act.

On reflection, I figured out that this would be a good way to proceed in learning the 27Things (now they tell me!) Initially, everything I tried I did without that crucial pause:
1. breathe...Take several deep breaths to search for that key or link I'm looking for before I push the wrong one.
2. organize...What do I need to know (or how to do it) to get the result I want. What do I need to ask (or what tag to use) to find what I want.
3. act...Too often I skipped the first 2 steps and ended up falling off a cliff ; I also drowned a few times.
The good news is that this pause model doesn't cost anything and it will save me time in the long run.

Friday, May 8, 2009

TMI can be murder, but it won't kill you

Imagine 56 million blogs flying around the blogosphere cawing "Pick me! Pick me!" (Alfred Hitchcock move over). For you other new bloggers: check out the interests you listed in your profile. There is a link for each of them, and it links you to all the other bloggers with the same interest. For example, I listed "birding" as an interest and I am linked to 19,000 other birder bloggers (complete with their profiles). "Reading" was another interest and I am now linked to 4,460,000 other reader bloggers!TMI.

I tried a keyword search in Technorati of "Learning 2.0" and was surprised that there were 399 Blogs listed (there were almost as many for "Library 2.0). A search in Blog posts yielded 3 times that amount and a search in tags yielded about 450.

In exploring Technorati, what amazed me most is the popularity of blogging. There are 94.1 million US blog readers (that's 50% of the Internet users). So there seems to be a growing influence of the blogosphere on mainstream media. The only issue I have with this influence is the caveat that news isn't news just because the blogger has more "authority" (followers). What happened to sources?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Opus at Aoraki/Mt. Cook
Originally uploaded by ghewgill
Opus should be counted as a bird, too. Delicious doesn't count him as such. LibraryThing actually did with a "bird" tag. Cartoon birds are generally lovable or at least have good intentions. How many mean and nasty cartoon birds have you met? Berkeley Breathed, the creator of Opus, obviously has a fondness for birds, even though he tried to off Opus.

But back to Delicious; I can see why they call it "social". Delicious actually keeps track of how many people have bookmarked a site, like a poll. You can also see what specific users are bookmarking which seems a little scary to me (but that's only with permission, so Big Bird isn't watching me). And the more tags you use, the quicker it is to find something; using "birds" will give you over 37,000 entries, whereas using "birds"+"baby" will give you 300 entries. Tag, you're it!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

One step forward...

Fortunately, I discovered how to edit posts after a little misunderstanding with html. Next, I was going to try a Rollyo search:

As a woman of a "certain age", I have a great interest in keeping current with osteoporosis news. I tried an "osteopenia" search with "health" to limit the search. Much to my dismay, I had to use the "entire web" to find my favorite site in the first 20 hits. Even worse, the only two links there that I could click on were sponsored links that were pushing a specific product. FYI, my favorite web site for all kinds of information on osteoporosis/osteopenia is osteopenia3. Check it out. We don't want light weight bird bones!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Here's the Widget!

What are you doing?

I can't think of a single person who wants to know when I am brushing my teeth or making dinner. Alternatively, speaking metaphysically, pondering my present role in life would take more than 140 characters. R U sure U want to know?

I didn't join YouTube for one reason: it would have taken longer to read the conditions for membership than it would have taken to watch a video on YouTube. (Too many words!)

Now LibraryThings is a great site. In spite of myself, I felt myself drawn in, although it seems to assume a greater computer knowledge than I have (where did that widget go?)

Saturday, April 25, 2009


I tried some of the news feeds that would bring me the most current news stories. Every breaking story I read was bad news: swine flu outbreak, more bombings, political bickering, etc. Then I found a site that covered "bird news"; for the last twelve hours there were no stories.

There is something wrong with this picture! The world human population as of April 2009 is estimated at 6.77 billion; the last guess-timate for the world bird population as of 1951 was in the 100 billions (it was a guess, since not all the bird species were even known).

Birds greatly outnumber us, yet the only time they get any attention in the news is when they fly into jets! In my own small way, I'm going to try to remedy this by posting pictures of our fine feathered friends.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day

It was quite appropriate for Earth Day that one of the technology sites was showing a chart of how much water was used for various things, e.g, 6 gallons for flushing a toilet and 37 gallons for producing a cup of coffee, to indicate one's "water footprint".

My first thought was "I'm not going to give up my cup of coffee; instead, I'll flush less". On further reading, however, it became clearer that the chart was mixing "Direct Use" with "Virtual Use" (that is, the water it takes to get a product to the consumer).

So, I will definitely look into ways of reducing "Direct Use" of water and still have my cup of coffee. I'll drink to that!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Why "For the Birds"? In truth, posts will include more than bird trivia. It's more about what's important in my life. I actually do start my day with the birds. While the coffee is perking, I go outside to replenish the bird feeders (last count there were eleven) that are hosts for everything from finches to hummingbirds. After my coffee, I feed my indoor budgerigar. This is actually a wonderful way to start every day. I promise to link you to more interesting sites and some pictures, but I'm still at the start of my learning curve.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Planting radishes is easier than posting notes.
This is my first posting. Now that I have the garden in, I can concentrate on indoor things until the weeds start growing. This also allows the finches to get back to their bird feeders.