Three Young Owls At Orton Park Make For Perfect Evening

What a remarkable day this has been.

First it was the baby rabbits.

Tonight it was a family of owls.

What a remarkable evening for a walk at Orton Park. 

James and I were walking on the sidewalk and heard a rather unique bird sound.  We stopped and looked to see where the noise was coming from.  It was the tree above us.  It almost sounded like a cat purring with more ‘rolls’ to it.  On a low branch were two young owls.  A third was on a power line–telephone line.  An adult was responding inside the park. 

One by one they flew into the park—and ‘the big kids’ followed.  We listened for the sounds and walked towards it.  All three were sitting on the metal baseball back-stop.  We got 10 feet from them–then moved right underneath them.  Wide-eyed, flat face, heads that swirled around.  We stood there silent for several minutes and just watched.  It was perfect. 

Sad to say it was not us that scared the owls, but someone’s black cat, which was lurking in the park, and alerted the owls to danger. It started to come near the metal frame, but it was not welcome by the birds.  Nor us.   The owls flew away.  What type of careless person allows their cat to lurk in the park? 

So if you are out and want to see something most wonderful take a walk in Orton Park.  Turn off Twitter and put the cell phone away, stay quiet, and listen for the birds.  Perhaps you too will see a most impressive sight when these owl siblings learn the art of hunting. 

I usually have my camera with me on walks for just such a sight–the excessive heat made me leave it at home. 

Lesson learned.

Let us just hope my baby rabbits and the young owls do not meet.

Baby Rabbits–And I Mean Baby Rabbits-Say Hello World!

About 10 days ago I noticed a plate-sized dirt area that was out-of-place for the rest of the lawn.   I thought something had dug around, but did not dwell on it.  Days later I looked at it again and noticed a clump of dried grass off to one side.  It was then I noticed a small opening that seemed ‘tamped’ down  with more dried grass.  Later I noticed an adult rabbit sitting on the dirt.  She was pulling fur from her stomach and was poking it around with a paw into the opening.

That is when I turned to Google.

OMG!  Baby rabbits!

Earlier today I looked at the nest and the opening was clear of dried grass.  I feared for the worst.  Then about an hour later I looked and there was dried grass again over the opening.  This evening as James and I waited for a friend to pick us up for dinner I looked once again.  It was then I yelled “Get the camera!”

A baby bunny with a white spot on his head was sticking his nose out of the hole—-and then there were two little noses!!  Two twitching little noses.

The pictures here are deceiving, in that the size of the portion of these babes that is visible is only an inch-and-half at most.  This is just amazing!

Volkswagen World’s Biggest Carmaker

In October 2010 I wrote the following.

….when it comes to automobiles I love German engineering and the styling of Volkswagens. In the past decade I have owned only VW’s, and swear I am never driving domestic again. There just is no comparison with comfort, under the hood precision, lack of problems once purchased, or price for the whole package.

I commented that…

With news that VW has a business plan in place to take over as the world’s largest auto maker comes a concern from guys like me who like to be just a little unique in everything, including the cars we own.

“A lot of people worry that we are going to start making VWs for the masses,” says Mark Barnes, VW’s U.S. chief operating officer. “I like to say we’re going to bring the masses to VW.”

Time will tell.

Now comes news that VW is indeed conquering the world.  My concern however still lingers—is VW making cars that look like all the other vehicles on the road?  The new Beetle, for instance, is not anything more than an ordinary looking sedan-type car.  The new model lost all the charm of the iconic Beetle that many loved around the globe.

When Ferdinand Piëch arrived as Volkswagen’s chief executive in 1993, things looked dire. The carmaker was overspending, overmanned and inefficient, and had lost its reputation for quality. How things have changed: last year the VW group’s profits more than doubled, to a record €18.9 billion ($23.8 billion). As other European volume carmakers seek to close factories and cut jobs, VW is seizing market share in Europe, booming in China and staging a comeback in America. It plans to spend €76 billion on new models and new factories by 2016. Its global workforce is more than half a million, and growing.

Mr Piëch’s plan was for VW to become the world’s biggest carmaker by volume by 2018. Last year, however, as Toyota struggled with the aftermath of Japan’s tsunami and GM floundered in Europe, VW reached its goal seven years early (see chart), if you do not count Subaru, Toyota’s distant affiliate, or GM’s Wuling joint venture in China, which mainly makes Chinese-branded cars.

The 8.5m vehicles VW made last year cover all corners: Volkswagen, Skoda and SEAT in the mass market; Audi in premium cars; Porsche, Bugatti and Lamborghini in sports cars; Bentley at the luxury end; plus various commercial-vehicle brands. Most (SEAT excepted) are firing on all cylinders. IHS Automotive, a forecaster, expects VW easily to beat its target of 11m sales by 2018.


The Biggest Story Of The Week: The Higgs Boson

This is what made the week memorable.

Historical events recede in importance with every passing decade. Crises, political and financial, can be seen for the blips on the path of progress that they usually are. Even the horrors of war acquire a patina of unreality. The laws of physics, though, are eternal and universal. Elucidating them is one of the triumphs of mankind. And this week has seen just such a triumphant elucidation.

On July 4th physicists working in Geneva at CERN, the world’s biggest particle-physics laboratory, announced that they had found the Higgs boson (see article). Broadly, particle physics is to the universe what DNA is to life: the hidden principle underlying so much else. Like the uncovering of DNA’s structure by Francis Crick and James Watson in 1953, the discovery of the Higgs makes sense of what would otherwise be incomprehensible. Its significance is massive. Literally. Without the Higgs there would be no mass. And without mass, there would be no stars, no planets and no atoms. And certainly no human beings. Indeed, there would be no history. Massless particles are doomed by Einstein’s theory of relativity to travel at the speed of light. That means, for them, that the past, the present and the future are the same thing.

Mitt Romney Plays Pure Politics With Individual Mandate

From interview President Obama gave in Ohio

“Mr. Romney was one of the biggest promoters of the individual mandate. In Massachusetts, his whole idea was that we shouldn’t have people who can afford to get health insurance to not buy it and then force you or me, or John Q. Public to have to pay for him when he gets sick. That’s irresponsible. That’s exactly what’s included as part of my health care plan. And the fact that a whole bunch of Republicans in Washington suddenly said, this is a tax — for six years he said it wasn’t, and now he has suddenly reversed himself.

“So the question becomes, are you doing that because of politics? Are you abandoning a principle that you fought for, for six years simply because you’re getting pressure for two days from Rush Limbaugh or some critics in Washington? One of the things that you learn as President is that what you say matters and your principles matter. And sometimes, you’ve got to fight for things that you believe in and you can’t just switch on a dime.”

Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. Drama Deepens

There is far more to this story  than is being reported.   Otherwise this all would have been handled more smoothly.  Not the greatest PR moves by a sitting member of congress.

Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. isn’t returning to work anytime soon. The congressman’s staff said he’ll need “extended” in-patient treatment for the exhaustionthat forced his medical leave of absence from Congress. 

A statement from Jackson’s office read:

“Congressman Jackson’s medical condition is more serious than we thought and initially believed read a statement from his office released Thursday morning. Recently, we have been made aware that he has grappled with certain physical and emotional ailments privately for a long period of time.”

Jackson began his medical sabbatical June 10; his staff didn’t make the announcement until June 25. Since then no details of his treatment have been released and yesterday’s statement will only add to the speculation. At last week’s City Council meeting Jackson’s wife, Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th) would only say of her husband’s condition “I love my husband very much” and that her first priority was to her children.

Dad’s Favorite Flower, Globe Thistle, In Full Bloom