Author Archives: Jim R

About Jim R

Teacher of Science, Astronomy, Nature, among other things

Fog Crept In

The fog comes on little cat feet. It sits looking over harbor and city on silent haunches and then moves on. ~ Carl Sandburg

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Red-Headed Woodpecker

From the other room, I heard Melanie call out that she saw a Red-headed Woodpecker in the backyard. I hurried to take a look. It faces a challenging future according to All About Birds. We seldom see them since local habitat for this handsome bird was removed with the addition of streets and housing near us a decade ago. This one visited behind our house several times that day giving opportunities for a few photos. We hope to see it more this year.

Tree Trimming

This is not a story about trimming trees for the holidays. We have trees 50-60 ft tall behind the house. Their branches were extending out over the roof dropping debris and small twigs during the year. It was time to cut them back. There was no way I could reach them. The tree service had the equipment and personnel to do it safely. A few years ago they removed two large dead Elms. The video below of this recent work takes about 2 minutes.

Lights Out On The Radio Tower

A short distance from the back of our house is a tall radio tower. We normally see this 100 meter tall structure with some red lights along its length and a blinking red light on top. It is visible through our living room windows. This is a view one day a couple of years ago when I walked close to it.

Zoomed in on the top one can see the light that normally blinks to warn aircraft. We have a lot of low flying helicopter traffic carrying patients to the University of Iowa for medical care. It is very important for them to see it, especially at night.

In early February I noticed none of the lights on the tower were glowing. The top light was not blinking. Curiosity got the best of me. I decided to email the facilities office at the university to tell them. I assumed they already knew. But, just in case, it wouldn’t hurt. I got a quick response and was included in subsequent emails to different offices as they tried to establish who was responsible for fixing the problem.

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Peru | Machu Picchu Plus Much More

by Jim and Melanie

Unique Views of Machu Picchu

Countless photographs and video clips have been made of Machu Picchu. We did our share. There’ve been many creative attempts to capture the essence and beauty of the place. One of the best we have seen is a collaboration between Destin Sandlin of Smarter Every Day on YouTube and Jeff Cremer of Jeff Cremer Photography, based in Peru.

Jeff set up his Canon camera with a 400 mm lens at a popular vista site above Machu Picchu. The camera system was programmed to automatically take 1920 highly zoomed photos of the site. The system captured 32 rows of photos. Each row was 60 images wide. Each image was 18 megabytes in raw format. It took 1 hour and 44 minutes. Click for more technical details. This 4 minute video will show Destin and Jeff as they got started on this project.

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Peru | Hillside Homes | Traffic Woes

by Jim and Melanie

Hillside Homes

The cost of living in the central part of most cities tends to be higher than around the fringes. It is no different in Peru. Our first two days were in Lima. People who come from the more rural areas to find work in Lima most often live in the outskirts of the city. It has an urban population close to 9 million. The metro population is over 12 million. The topography around Lima is not mountainous and allows the city to spread out.

Cuzco is in a mountainous area. The population is about 435,000 and confined to a valley. New arrivals from rural areas looking for homes and work tend to live on the surrounding steep hillsides. Click this image for greater detail of the hillsides.

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