Friday, November 30, 2007

scooter the blue fronted amazon

Introducing Scooter the blue fronted Amazon

This is Scooter, a Blue-Fronted Amazon parrot. He's about 28 years old and has been with our family for most of his life. Our children have grown up and started families of their own, so he finds it much too quiet here. His cage is by a sunny window looking out at the front yard so that he can keep an eye on what's going on in the neighborhood. A fairly good watch bird, he lets out sounds at the approach of strangers that are different from his sounds at the approach of friends and really raises the roof when he sees our grandchildren getting out of the car. Although he likes to be around most children, our grandkids have a special place in his heart, as does the daughter in whose bedroom he sometimes stayed when she was growing up. (She now has a parrot of her own -- a Moluccan Cockatoo named Peaches.)

After children, his favorite things are showers, music and having his head scratched. He also likes to watch TV and seems to pay special attention to the Food Network. And speaking of food, he always expects to get a little something extra when we have our meals and clucks at us until we give him something. I am sorry to say that his favorite treat is scrambled egg.

Though Scooter can be pretty good with sound effects, he's not a great talker. Sunrise and sunset are usually greeted with enthusiastic noise, and anyone who laughs or sings around him almost always inspires him to join in. He coos, crows and trills in response when someone talks to him, mimicking a conversation. He likes to have the last word.

peaches the moluccan cockatoo

Heather introduces her new cockatoo

Here is our new 'baby' - Peaches the Moluccan Cockatoo. She nestled in very well to our home last month and provides no end of snuggles and laughter to the household. Lately she's been experimenting with being 'batwoman' and hanging upside down (completely!) from her play top. She holds a fork with food on it and is many other ways quite the clown. She loves her sentinel perch, goes through toys like crazy (we should have named her 'Chewy') and thinks it's great fun to play 'catch' with our daughter. (She gives ball, Peaches hucks ball to ground with gusto. She picks up ball and game repeats while Peaches mimics her laughter.)

Peaches transitions in mood swings almost as much as she does in height (when 'compacting' herself she is at about a foot long but when she is animated and the crest goes up she grows to two feet!) She's loud and boisterous one moment, and 'melted butter' wanting to snuggle the next. The woman who hand fed her did a beautiful job in encouraging such a trusting creature.

My favorite vocalization of Peaches is her attempt to sing opera. They weren't kidding at the pet shop; she does get LOUD, but thankfully it's contained to 10-20 minutes of late morning and early evening vocalization.

She's still a babe - a one year old with a 75+ year life span, and not quite full grown. Her breed is the largest of the Cockatoo species and known more for being a good mimic of human behaviors (hence eating with fork) than for language imitation, though her breed does some talking, too. Her short stay in the pet shop next to a VERY vocal African Grey parrot seems to have made an impression on her and it's quite interesting to hear her now imitate another bird who's imitating humans (and everything else.)

I'm pleased to officially introduce her. She's a very special bird and very dear to me as my friendly companion.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

the not so wild turkeys of lockhart gulch

Heather sends this photo/description of some pesky residents

This crew is frequently found roaming our neighborhood, and often in the middle of the street. The years of people accommodating them have given them a very arrogant complex. The family of 15 or so don't sense any urgency in the slightest with a car approaching and will flamboyantly settle down to rest in front of one. Honking your horn is apparently taken as a sign of aggression to the males. They stand up defiantly in front of your vehicle and flare their tails making menacing sounds. I've learned that they utterly snub you if you try to feed them. At least with food agreeable to chickens. I rolled down my window and cooed at a family, flinging some cracker crumbs out and expecting them to appreciatively gobble. The leader of the pack barely cast an eye toward the flung crumbs and truly did give me a dirty look before sauntering away disinterestedly. What do turkey's eat, anyway?? They're very amusing with their regal complex. We in the neighborhood have learned to simply drive around them and let them have the run of Lockhart Gulch (near Santa Cruz, California).

google fixes the firewall

Eight year old Andrew writes this fanciful story

GOOGLE Fixes the Firewall

Chapter 1: A Byte to Eat

Google was a perfectly normal gigabyte. One day he was trying to break through a firewall. Then he was hungry so he went down to the supermarket to buy a bag of memory chips. He heard his Motherboard calling for help.

Google raced home as quickly as a command. There was a virus stealing every kilobyte of memory in the entire Exabyte!

So he snuck up on the virus.

Ever so silently, ever so stealthily he tiptoed up and carefully fell flat on his face. He saw ?????? before his eyes. And then he unknowingly took a big byte out of the Office Assistant.

With what was left of him he gathered all of his random access memory and got through the firewall. He waited.

He waited for a packet-or even his motherboard to rescue him. But he was safe from his enemies. Finally an anti-spyware packet came through. Google asked him for Help. But all he got was a ??????

Finding that he was no good as a translator he decided to say: ithinkyouneedanewfirewall. And for a good reason.

THE ADVERTISEMENTS WERE COMING LIKE BITS! Pretty soon 11-bit pictures were popping up everywhere.

It was true, unauthorized packets were coming through. And a human had gotten through that very corporate firewall and was playing Reversi on the internet.

Chapter 2: Repairing the Firewall

Never before had anyone broken through the firewall before, so they decided to fix the firewall together. Google and the anti-spyware packet.

Suddenly his friend Goooooooooooogle burst into the wall panting. He held three large objects. My toolkits! He said. How did you know I needed those! When I saw those advertisements I knew the firewall was damaged. He grinned.

Oh, and one other thing. What’s that? I got rid of that virus for good. With, of course, the smartest guy on the computer: the Office Assistant.

vanishing trees

Vanishing Trees

Trees are priceless plants to behold,
It’s time for their virtues to be told

Their lofty flowers are a pleasing sight,
And their fruits are a squirrel’s delight.

Trees are ablaze with color in the fall,
Except for evergreens, so stately and tall.

To fierce winds they are a calming brace,
And their deep roots hold the soil in place.

Tree leaves catch hot sunlight, cast cool shade,
And from their wood, sturdy homes are made.

The trees clean and refresh the air with O2
While removing the greenhouse gas, CO2.

They provide wildlife with countless niches,
But human greed robs the forest of its riches.

We cut and burn the forests much too fast,
Soon we must find ways for the trees to last.

To reduce global warming and air pollution,
Conserving trees is just part of the solution.

For the world's trees to flourish and increase,
Human population growth has got to cease.

The fate of trees is tied to human destiny.
If all the forests vanish, so too will we.

by Joe Schibig

This young toddler and chestnut tree may inherit a hotter, more polluted and forest-depleted world.

Solution -- have fewer children and instill in them an appreciation of Nature. Practice conservation, grow more trees, and do what you can to leave our children fresh air, clean water and healthy forests.

bird over lake oroville dam

This is a photo of the Lake Oroville Dam Spillway in Northern California. The dam itself is 770 feet high and 6,920 feet across, making it the tallest and one of the largest earthen dams in the world. Lake Oroville, behind the dam, has a surface area of 24 square miles and a shoreline of 167 miles.

The bird above the spillway is most likely a turkey vulture which is common in the Northern California Sierras.

fall reflections on the feather river

This photo catches the reflection of Fall color on the Feather River near the Lake Oroville dam in Northern California. The river flows 80 miles downstream from the headlands of the Northern Sierra mountains before emptying into the Sacramento River. Along the river's banks can be found wildlife of all sort incuding deer,muskrat,elk and badgers. Many different kinds of waterfowl also live near the river.

The Feather River is a major source of water for California's agriculture in the Central Valley and drinking water for the populous southern part of the state.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


A friend recently took this photo of a homeless person in San Francisco. How hopeless to be in this situation. I know that San Francisco tries to get the homeless cared for but sometimes for whatever reason the system just doesn't work.

Photo by Frank Castello

If you zoom in on the paper bag you see the words "hurt","chest",and "heart".

I wish this person could be helped but do not hold much hope that will happen.