Friday, March 31, 2006

COM: Blogarithmic #111

There's brand new Circus of the Spineless up at Research At A Snail's Pace, and it is the most inventive yet -- in the form of a dichotomous key! Congrats Matt on a great idea and superb execution.



Vehicular is on the prowl in Austin this weekend:

Saturday April 1st is 40 acres fest. UT campus - Free show all ages. outdoor concert event. music from noon until 6 pm. Vehicular plays at 1 pm. Main stage.

Then Saturday night. April 1st. Vehicular opens for the Dirty Wormz. at the Backroom. Riverside Drive. all ages. 10 dollar cover. doors open at 9:00 pm. Vehicular starts at 10 pm.

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ENV: The Beginning

Two champion horses cloned
Breeding venture draws criticism in racing circles
By Justin Gillis, The Washington Post, Updated: 12:40 a.m. ET March 31, 2006

A Texas company said yesterday that it had cloned two champion cutting horses for $150,000 apiece, had established multiple clone pregnancies and would create as many as 30 more cloned horses over the next year, signaling the arrival of a commercial horse-cloning industry in the United States.

The plans by ViaGen Inc. of Austin represent by far the most ambitious effort yet to turn horse cloning into a paying business. There's little doubt that ViaGen, with one of the world's top cloning scientists in its stable, can pull off the necessary laboratory work, and not a single government rule or regulation stands in the way.

But it remains to be seen how far the U.S. horse industry will go in embracing the technique that produced Dolly the sheep a decade ago and has since come to symbolize many people's fears about modern genetic science. While cloning is being welcomed by those who ride and breed cutting horses, a sport with blue-collar origins on the ranches of the American West, the people guarding the purity of elite horse racing in the United States have decided to prohibit clones.

"Would it be fun to watch Muhammad Ali box Muhammad Ali? Would it be fun to watch 10 Michael Jordans out on the basketball floor?" said Dan Rosenberg, president of Three Chimneys Farm, one of the leading farms in Kentucky breeding Thoroughbred race horses. "What we do is part business and part fun, and it's part science and part art. If it becomes pure business and pure science, I don't want to play any more."

It's clear that a lot of people in the horse industry agree with him. The American Quarter Horse Association, which safeguards that breed by issuing papers on the animals, has prohibited registration of any clone.

So has the Jockey Club, the association that registers the Thoroughbreds, such as Secretariat and Seattle Slew, that race for the Triple Crown and other premier events. In fact, the Jockey Club has prohibited not just cloning but any form of artificial reproduction. In the racing world, owners and breeders are clinging tenaciously to the idea that creation of a baby horse, a foal, ought to involve a stallion having sex with a mare.

Compact, athletic horses
But a different attitude seems to be taking hold in the most democratic of the equine disciplines, cutting, which grew out of the twice-yearly cattle roundups in the West that would bring together thousands of beef cows. To separate one rancher's animals from another's, cowboys needed compact, athletic horses with good instincts for pulling a cow out and blocking its attempt to rejoin the herd. The ranch hands would take any cutting horse, purebred or not, that could do the job.

Still, it probably didn't occur to those cowboys of old to try cutting cattle with a cloned horse.

It hadn't occurred to Lindy Burch, either, until recently. The Weatherford, Tex., woman is one of the nation's most accomplished riders and breeders of cutting horses, and owner of a valuable cutting champion called Bet Yer Blue Boons, a mare with health problems that have limited her ability to reproduce.

Burch was shocked when some fellows she knew called up and told her about a company with plans to clone horses. "I thought, 'Gosh, I have to try it,' " she said. "There's a lot of really nice horses, but the great ones are few and far between."

Now two mares are pregnant with Bet's clones. They're among 15 clones established in ViaGen's laboratories that are coming to term in surrogate mares on a farm in Oklahoma. Two clones already have been born. The first, born Feb. 19, is a clone of Royal Blue Boon, an aging champion whose offspring -- Bet Yer Blue Boons is one -- have earned millions in prize money on the cutting-horse circuit. That makes her, in the view of Quarter Horse News, "the greatest producing mare in the history of the sport."

They are not the first cloned horses born in the United States, nor even the first created for money. Since the world's first horse clone was born in Italy in 2003, a handful have been created by academic laboratories in this country.

But ViaGen, with financial backing from Arizona billionaire John Sperling and rights to the important patents in the field, is by far the best-financed company offering cloning services. Its laboratory is run by Irina Polejaeva, a leader of the scientific team that produced the world's first pig clones six years ago.

Routine tool?
The company's main goal is to turn cloning into a routine tool of production agriculture, creating elite breeding stock for the cattle and hog industries. But a policy that would allow cloned animals or their offspring into the American food supply is stalled at the Food and Drug Administration, with consumer groups warning of a potential backlash.

So while the government figures out what to do about food, ViaGen has decided to go after a smaller market that needs no federal blessing -- horse cloning. At $150,000 for the first copy of a horse and $90,000 for the second copy, "it is a significant business opportunity," said Mark Walton, president of ViaGen.

Many of the associations that oversee various horse breeds are expected to follow the lead of the Jockey Club and the American Quarter Horse Association in prohibiting clones. That's likely to reduce the value of cloned animals, since neither they nor their offspring could ever be registered as purebred.

But Studbook Zangersheide, a small European association that controls a breed of jumping horses, has decided to register clones. And there's a lot of muttering in the horse world that anti-clone rules may be subject to legal attack as unfair restraints of trade. Nobody has sued yet.

‘Individual creatures’
The Humane Society of the United States yesterday condemned ViaGen's move, noting that several scientific panels have said cloning raises serious concerns about animal welfare. In some species, notably cattle, clones have died in the womb or just after birth with dire health problems, though not enough data are available yet to know if that will be true in horses.

"We applaud the Thoroughbred industry and other segments of the horse industry that are shunning this practice," said Wayne Pacelle, chief executive of the Humane Society, in Washington. "The cloning advocates and practitioners are thinking of horses as a commodity. Those on my side of the fence think of horses as individual creatures who deserve respect and humane treatment."


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ENV: Not Really A Cat Friday

Today i'm featuring the Olive Juniper Hairstreak on the redbuds at Cade Loop here. I wanted to use Henry's Elfin, but by dang the things stay so high up, and are so scarce that i was unable to get a decent picture (the best one is below). Anyway, the hairstreaks are especially vibrant right now.

And, as always visit the Friday Ark at Modulator.

Olive Juniper Hairstreak, Mitoura gryneus gryneus


Henry's Elfin, Callophrys henrici

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Thursday, March 30, 2006

COM: Blogarithmic #110

Phillips Wagner shot 73 and finished third in this past weekend's tournament! Congrats Phillips!

And Jeff Scott finished his Thesis defense, so he'll be a Master of all things theatrical now! Here come the Academy Awards . . .

Carol Priour wrote to say Jonah will be in Footloose as Willard when he returns to Harvard after Spring Break, and will likely be directing a musical at HCYR this summer using songs from their new CD. Some of Carol's photos from his star turn in Chicago are below.

Louie Bond passed along this other great review from Lodger at FileThirteen of Kat Candler's Jumping Off Bridges. I'm just now placing Bryan Chafin from her Cicadas.

Brian Crabb and Matt Willis will be in Waiting for Godot at Schreiner University April 27-29. Anything those guys are in is worth seeing.

The Churchill boys had a bye for winning district, and face Marshall tomorrow in second round action at Blossom. Alamo Heights beat Edison 1-0, and then beat Cedar Park Vista Ridge 1-0, and plays New Braunfels this weekend in the third round. Boerne is also in the third round after a bye, and a 2-0 win over Dripping Springs. They play Travis. Bandera got knocked out 1-0 by Burbank.

The Tivy girls couldn't keep up with New Braunfels . . . from the Daily Times:

Tivy girls soccer coach Shannon Sletten had a sure-fire way of trying to control New Braunfels scorers Maegan Harber and Michelle Whitley.

Double team them.

That strategy worked for the first half of the Antlers’ Class 4A bidistrict playoff. It fell apart in the second, as both players had a hand in three New Braunfels goals within a four-minute span, giving the hosts a 5-0 victory Friday night at Unicorn Stadium.

It was the Unicorns’ second win over the Antlers this season, each by the same score. New Braunfels (17-9-1), which also ended Tivy’s season in bidistrict play a season ago, advances to play Austin McCallum (11-5) in the area round Tuesday. Tivy, which got never-say-die play from senior Newly Gramatikakis and sophomore Amanda Brock, ends its season 7-12-2.


Jonah Priour and friends in Chicago
Harvard University
Photos by Carol Priour





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ENV: Observations Jan to March

Observations January – March 2006
*photos **film

2 January 2006
TX: Kerr County, Rio Vista
10 Texas Slider

3 January 2006
TX: Kerr County, Rio Vista
10 Texas Slider

4 January 2006
TX: Kerr County, Rio Vista
1 Orange Sulphur
1 Emperor sp.

10 Texas Slider

2 Green Kingfisher
1 Eastern Phoebe

5 January 206
TX: Kerr County, Rio Vista
40 Black Vulture
6 Eastern Bluebird
20 Myrtle Warbler

TX: Kerr County, Dam Store
1 Pine Warbler

6 January 2006
TX: Kerr County, Rio Vista
1 Orange Sulphur
1 Downy Woodpecker
2 Blue Jay
2 Eastern Bluebird

9 January 2006
TX: Kerr County, Rio Vista
2 Green Kingfisher
2 Ladder-backed Woodpecker
4 Blue Jay
2 Common Raven

10 January 2006
TX: Kerr County, IDL

2 Queen
1 American Snout
1 Pipevine Swallowtail

1 Osprey

TX: Kerr County, Freedom Trail
10 Emu
1 Giant Canada Goose
8 Mute Swan
12 Black Swan
1 Say’s Phoebe
4 Western Bluebird

4 Kudu
2 Gemsbok
6 Scimitar-horned Oryx
12 Addax
30 Blackbuck
6 Brindled Wildebeeste
4 Sike Deer
2 White-tailed Deer

11 January 2006
TX: Kerr County, IDL
2 Common Buckeye
1 American Snout

1 Turkey Vulture
2 Osprey
1 Black Phoebe
2 American Pipit
4 Pine Siskin

16 January 2006 (Rain)
TX: Kerr County, IDL
2 Texas Rat Snake

1 Osprey

17 January 2006
TX: Kerr County, IDL
3 Cormorant sp.
1 Osprey

18 January 2006
TX: Kerr County, Rio Vista
clouds of midges

20 January 2006
TX: Kerr County, Rio Vista
10 Boxelder Bug

1 Dainty Sulphur
1 Orange Sulphur
2 Common Buckeye

18 Texas Slider

21 January 2006
TX: Kerr County, Rio Vista
1 Northern Flicker
10 Eastern Bluebird

TX: Kerr County, IDL
1 Osprey with Carp
1 Belted Kingfisher

26 January 2006
TX: Kerr County, Rio Vista
1 Orange Sulphur

Hospital etc. 26 January – 26 February 2006

18 February 2006
TX: Kerr County, Rio Vista
2 Turkey Vulture

20 February 2006
TX: Kerr County, Canyon Springs Ranch
6 Purple Martin

23 February 2006
TX: Gillespie Co., just S of Fbg on TX16
1 Crested Caracara

24 February 2006
TX: Kerr County, Rio Vista
1 Zone-tailed Hawk

26 February 2006
TX: Kerr County, Bear Creek Crossing
1 Greater Yellowlegs

28 February 2006
TX: Kerr County, Rio Vista
1 Sulphur sp.
1 Emperor sp.
1 Duskywing sp.

4 Purple Martin

5 March 2006
TX: Travis County, Lake Travis from The Oasis
2 Brown Pelican
1 Bonaparte’s Gull
1 Common Nighthawk

8 March 2006
TX: Kerr County, IDL
1 Little Blue Heron
200 Barn Swallow

9 March 2006
TX: Kerr County, IDL
8 Blue-winged Teal

10 March 2006
TX: Kerr County, Waltonia
1 Pied-billed Grebe

TX: Kerr County, Canyon Springs Ranch
1 Giant Swallowtail

11 March 2006
TX: Kerr County, Rio Vista
1 Pipevine Swallowtail,
2 Orange Sulphur
1 Sleepy Orange
2 Texan Crescent

1 Downy Woodpecker

16 March 2006
TX: Kerr County, Rio Vista
1 Black Swallowtail
1 Sachem
1 Fiery Skipper

1 Cagle’s Map Turtle
10 Texas Slider

TX: Kerr County, Ingram
1 Pipevine Swallowtail
1 Question Mark
1 Monarch

TX: Kerr County, IDL
2 Cagle’s Map Turtle

18 March 2006
TX: Kerr County, Rio Vista
6 Pipevine Swallowtail**
1 Emperor sp.

1 Black-chinned Hummingbird
1 Green Kingfisher

TX: Kerr County, Cade Loop Redbuds
Edwards Plateau Redbud**

Honeybee

1 White-lined Sphinx**

1 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
8 Pipevine Swallowtail**
22 Monarch**
1 Common/White Checkered-Skipper**
12 Juvenal’s/Horace’s Duskywing**
1 Sachem

1 Rough Green Snake**

1 Greater Roadrunner


19 March 2006 (Rain)
TX: Kerr County, Ingram Dam
4 Monarch

1 Smooth Softshell
2 Guadalupe Spiny Softshell
22 Texas Slider

20 March 2006
TX: Kerr County, Rio Vista
Boxelder Bug

10 Pipevine Swallowtail
2 Cloudless Sulphur

1 Dot-winged Baskettail complex

1 Cagle’s Map Turtle

1 Pied-billed Grebe

TX: Kerr County, Ingram Dam
1 Cagle’s Map Turtle
1 Common Snapping Turtle

TX: Kerr County, Cade Loop
Honeybee

6 Pipevine Swallowtail*
1 Yellow, 4 Black Eastern Tiger Swallowtail*
1 Black Swallowtail
1 Southern Dogface
3 Henry’s Elfin*
15 Juniper Hairstreak*
3 Gray Hairstreak
6 Monarch*
1 Funereal Duskywing
20 Juvenal’s/Horace’s Duskywing

1 Eufala Skipper
2 Sachem

1 Spotted Towhee

TX: Kerr County, Kerrville
1 Scott’s Oriole (FOS, Ed Johnson)

21 March 2006
TX: Kerr County, Bear Creek Road
Dragonfly Lane Sign

1 Monarch

14 Emu
4 Mute Swan
2 Black Swan
2 Blue-winged Teal
2 American Coot
1 Great Blue Heron

12 Blackbuck
1 Dama Gazelle
8 Addax
1 Gemsbok

TX: Kerr County, Indian Creek Road
1 Great Egret

4 Axis Deer

TX: Kerr County, IDL
1 Monarch

1 Cagle’s Map Turtle

1 Pied-billed Grebe

TX: Kerr County, Cade Loop
2 Monarch
1 Pipevine Swallowtail**
2 Sleepy Orange**
24 Olive Juniper Hairstreak**
4 Reakirt’s Blue**
2 Sachem
2 Fiery Skipper**
1 Skipper sp. (Eufala/Celia's?)
12 Juvenal’s/Horace’s Duskywing**
6 False Duskywing**
1 Funereal Duskywing**

1 Western Scrub-Jay

TX: Kerr County, Rio Vista
1 Cagle’s Map Turtle
22 Texas Slider

22 March 2006
TX: Kerr County, Rio Vista (overnight low 35; overcast to partly cloudy during day)
1 Pipevine Swallowtail

18 Texas Slider

1 Chipping Sparrow

23 March 2006 (light rain overnight, high 50F)
TX: Gillespie County, S of Fbg on TX16
20 Cave Swallow
1 Cooper’s Hawk

1 Gray Fox

TX: Kerr County, Rio Vista
1 Pied-billed Grebe
1 Chipping Sparrow

TX: Kerr County, IDL
1 Osprey
30 Barn Swallow

24 March 2006 (overnight low 25F)
TX: Kerr County, Rio Vista
1 Chipping Sparrow
1 Blue Jay

25 March 2006
TX: Kerr County, Kerr WMA
1 Pipevine Swallowtail
1 Southern Dogface
6 Sulphur sp.
1 Red Admiral
1 Arizona Sister
1 Satyr sp.
1 Blue sp.
4 Monarch
12 Duskywing sp.

20 Familiar Bluet**
10 Aztec Dancer**
3 Violet Dancer**
1 Springtime Darner
1 Pronghorn Clubtail**
1 Dot-winged Baskettail
1 Variegated Meadowhawk

Cochineal**

10 Blacktail Shiner

1 Mallard**
2 Blue-winged Teal**
20 Turkey Vulture
8 Black Vulture**
1 Red-shouldered Hawk
2 American Kestrel
2 Wild Turkey**
2 Common Ground-Dove
6 Mourning Dove**
1 Black-chinned Hummingbird**
1 Belted Kingfisher
1 Golden-fronted Woodpecker
2 Ash-throated Flycatcher
1 Eastern Phoebe
4 Vermilion Flycatcher**
6 Barn Swallow
1 Western Scrub-Jay
5 Common Raven
1 Carolina Chickadee
10 Black-crested Titmouse
3 Bewick’s Wren
2 Northern Mockingbird
2 Eastern Bluebird
4 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher**
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
3 White-eyed Vireo
1m Golden-cheeked Warbler
1 Louisiana Waterthrush**
1 House Sparrow
20 Northern Cardinal**
1 Spotted Towhee
2 Lark Sparrow
1 Rufous-crowned Sparrow
20 Chipping Sparrow
3 Field Sparrow
6 Vesper Sparrow
1 Song Sparrow

3 Fox Squirrel
4 White-tailed Deer
1 Blackbuck**

TX: Kerr County, Ingram to Kerr WMA, on TX#9 and FM1340
1 Falcate Orangetip (Kerr Co. LL)
1 Monarch

20 Turkey Vulture
20 Black Vulture
1 American Kestrel
1 Zone-tailed Hawk (Hunt)
1 Eurasian Collared-Dove (Ingram)
10 White-winged Dove
1 Belted Kingfisher
10 Barn Swallow
20 Cave Swallow
4 Purple Martin
2 Common Raven
3 Northern Mockingbird
2 European Starling
30 Great-tailed Grackle
1 House Finch
30 Chipping Sparrow

1 Rock Squirrel
30 Mouflon
2 American Bison
10 Blackbuck
2 White-tailed Deer
16 Texas Longhorn
1 Charolais
1 Limousin
1 Overo
+ Quarterhorse
2 Arabian
1 Sicilian Donkey
1 Paint Donkey
1 Damara X Mule
1 Damara Zebra**

TX: Kerr County, Kerrville
20 Great-tailed Grackle
2 Rock Dove
3 Cormorant sp.

TX: Kerr County, Indian Creek and Bear Creek Roads, and Freedom Trail
12 Emu
3 Pied-billed Grebe
8 Mute Swan
2 Black Swan1 Great Blue Heron
2 Wild Turkey
1 Eastern Bluebird
1 Red-winged Blackbird
20 Chipping Sparrow**

30 Blackbuck**
10 Addax**
6 Gemsbok
6 Axis Deer**

TX: Kerr County, IDL and Cade Loop
6 Olive Juniper Hairstreak**
3 Monarch
3 Juvenal’s Duskywing**
2 False Duskywing**
2 Sachem**

3 Texas Slider**
2 Cagle’s Map Turtle**

2 Pied-billed Grebe
1 Cormorant sp.
4 White-winged Dove
1 Purple Martin
1 Western Scrub-Jay
2 Blue Jay
1 Black-crested Titmouse
1 Great-tailed Grackle

30 Painted Desert Sheep
12 Blackbuck
12 White-tailed Deer
1 Overo
1 Painted Donkey

TX: Kerr County, Rio Vista
1 Orange Sulphur**
2 Olive Juniper Hairstreak**
2 Reakirt’s Blue**
1 Juvenal’s Duskywing**
4 Sachem**
1 Whirlabout**
1 Fiery Skipper**
1 Southern Skipperling

1 odd fly sp.**

20 White-winged Dove
1 Golden-fronted Woodpecker
1 Ladder-backed Woodpecker
1 Bewick’s Wren
1 Eastern Bluebird
1 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher**
1 European Starling
6 Myrtle Warbler

26 March 2006
TX: Kerr County, Rio Vista
6 Pipevine Swallowtail**
1 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail**
1 Sleepy Orange
1 Orange Sulphur
1 American Lady**
1 Olive Juniper Hairstreak**
1 Reakirt’s Blue
1 Marine Blue**
1 False Duskywing**
1 Juvenal’s Duskywing**
5 Sachem**
1 Whirlabout**
3 Fiery Skipper**

1 Halictid Bee sp.**
+ Boxelder Bug**

2 Red-shouldered Hawk
2 Mourning Dove
1 White-winged Dove
2 Golden-fronted Woodpecker
1 Ladder-backed Woodpecker
1 Ash-throated Flycatcher
1 Barn Swallow
4 Carolina Chickadee**
3 Black-crested Titmouse
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
2 Carolina Wren**
1 Yellow-throated Vireo
1 White-eyed Vireo
1 Black-and-white Warbler
10 Myrtle Warbler**
6 Northern Cardinal
1 House Finch**
4 Great-tailed Grackle

12 Axis Deer
20 White-tailed Deer

TX: Kerr County, Kerrville
2 Cormorant sp.
1 Osprey

27 March 2006
TX: Kerr County, Rio Vista
1 Striped Skunk
40 Axis Deer
12 White-tailed Deer

28 March 2006
TX: Kerr County, Rio Vista (thunderstorms)
2 Monarch

29 March 2006
TX: Kerr County, Rio Vista
1 Cagle’s Map Turtle

TX: Kerr County, Hunt
2 Zone-tailed Hawk

TX: Kerr County, Camp Mystic
2 Yellow-throated Vireo

30 March 2006
TX: Kerr County, Rio Vista
1 Cagle’s Map Turtle
1 Pied-billed Grebe

19 October 2004
TX: Kerr County, Riverside Nature Center
1 Ruby-spotted Swallowtail (Susan Sander, photographed)

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ENV: Condors on Big Sur!

Condor nest spotted in Big Sur
Rare find: First such sighting locally in 100 years
By KEVIN HOWE, Staff Writer, Monterey Herald


The first California condor nest seen in a century in Monterey County was spotted by a wildlife biologist Monday in a hollow redwood tree on the Big Sur Coast.

The discovery is an important milestone in the effort to reintroduce condors into the wild, said Kelly Sorenson, executive director of the Ventana Wildlife Society.

The society has been releasing condors raised in captivity on the Big Sur Coast since 1996 and at Pinnacles National Monument since 2004.

The nesting pair was seen and photographed by Wildlife Society condor biologist Joseph Brandt after he saw the birds had apparently taken up housekeeping in the redwood tree.

The condors were identified as a 9-year-old male, Condor 167, and an 8-year-old female, Condor 190.

"Although the view into the cavity is very limited and we can't actually see the egg," said the society's senior wildlife biologist Joe Burnet, "we strongly suspect they have an egg, based on their behavior on the nest site."

Breeding condors typically take turns sitting on the egg, with the male and female changing shifts every two or three days, he said, and they never leave the nest unattended for more than a few minutes. That behavior by this pair, he added, "is a clear sign that they are tending to an egg."

Brandt and his colleagues homed in on the discovery by observing that Condor 190 was remaining perched in view on a redwood tree nearby.

Confirmation of the nest sighting "is truly an historic moment for the California condor in Monterey County," Sorenson said.

It is not only the first documented nesting by condors in the county in 100 years, he said, but the first pair seen nesting in a redwood tree.

Condors usually nest in the cavities of cliffs.

Condor 167 was hatched at the Los Angeles Zoo and released Dec. 12, 1997. Condor 190 was released Jan. 19, 1999.

The first wild condor chick to take flight in California in 22 years left its nest in Ventura County in October 2004. That bird was hatched the previous April near Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge and the mother had been released in Big Sur by the Ventana Wildlife Society.

Most condors continue to be bred in captivity. There are an estimated 276 living, but some of those released have died from lead poisoning after consuming bullets or shotgun pellets while eating the carcasses of shot game, and by electrocution after landing on high-tension power lines.

The society, the only nonprofit organization in California releasing condors into the wild, is a member of the California Condor Recovery Program, which consists of a number of governmental and nongovernmental agencies, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, San Diego Wild Animal Park, the Los Angeles Zoo and the state Department of Fish and Game.

About 50 condors, the largest land birds in North America, have been turned loose during annual releases in Big Sur.

Last October, the carcass of another male, Condor No. 164, was discovered in Ventura County, the eighth condor released by the society to have died.

That bird's death was a setback for the society's goal of establishing breeding pairs in the wild, Sorenson said, because the condor had reached breeding age and its aggressive nature made it a natural candidate to be a breeder.

There are 38 condors in the wild in Central California, Sorenson said, and the society has set a goal of establishing 150 condors in the wild with 15 breeding pairs.

More info from the Ventana Wildlife Society


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ENV: Read-bellied Woodpecker?

Animal Planet: Beehler makes global discovery
by James Tyson, 3/27/2006 2:05:25 PM, Black and White Online.net

Bethesda ornithologist Bruce Beehler and his colleagues jump out of a helicopter into a small clearing on Indonesia’s Foja Mountains, one of the most remote and diverse regions on the planet. As he walks along the moist ground and between old moss-encrusted trees, he notices the deafening birdsong and croaking frogs that echo through the misty jungle. Within their first five minutes in this “fairyland”, his expedition team has discovered a new species of bird, a rare mammal and several unique species of butterflies.

Beehler, father of junior Grace, led a two week expedition to the Foja Mountains in Papua, Indonesia in December 2005. Conservation International, Beehler’s employer, financed the expedition in an effort to explore the area and investigate means of protecting its unique plant and animal life.

Beehler says the recent expedition to the Foja Mountains held great personal significance because he completed a long unrealized goal of visiting the area. “It took me nearly a quarter century to get to Papua and so the anticipation was pretty high. I had been thinking about it for quite a while.”

During the expedition, Beehler and his companions discovered several new species of mammals, a new species of honeyeater bird, four new species of butterflies, five to ten new species of plants and around 20 new species of frogs. “We also recorded the first sighting of a tree-kangaroo in Indonesia and rediscovered the lost six-wired bird of paradise, last seen in 1897,” Beehler says.

Beehler says, if preserved, the Foja Mountains could provide scientists with the chance to study unique species. “The Foja Mountains are wet enough, high enough and isolated enough to be a biodiversity incubator. It’s a little bit like an island, surrounded by a sea of lowlands, but it has different trees and temperatures and therefore different species.”

Beehler developed an interest in ornithology as a child and says his passion for nature has endured throughout his adult years. “I got interested in ornithology when I was 8, when I saw my first read-bellied woodpecker. I got all excited, and birds became a passion of mine. Then, in my senior year at Williams College I got a Watson fellowship, which allowed me to spend 15 months in Papua New Guinea. It was there that I realized that I could make ornithology my profession.”

After spending his fellowship in Papua New Guinea studying the behavior of several tropical birds, Beehler embarked on a path that would turn his passion into a career. “After New Guinea, I went to graduate school and got my doctorate and became a professional. I probably wouldn’t be an ornithologist if I hadn’t gotten the fellowship and gone to New Guinea,” he says.

David Wilcove, professor of ecology and public policy at Princeton University and a bird-watching companion of Beehler’s, says Beehler is well-qualified to lead wilderness investigations. “I met Bruce in the fall of 1981 when he was a graduate student studying the behavior of several species of birds of paradise in New Guinea. One of the things that I really admire about Bruce is that his interest in nature is very broad. He is interested in not only birds, but mammals, insects and plant life.”

Wilcove says the trip holds worldwide importance because of widespread interest in the discoveries. “The most recent expedition is very significant in the amount of new species discovered and the public attention it has generated.”

Beehler’s broad knowledge of nature and his boundless determination sets him apart, Wilcove says. “He’s a great naturalist and he is willing to go to remote or even dangerous places. Those two qualities, when combined with his passion for his work, are what make him successful.”

AP Environmental Science teacher Kelly Garton says scientists rarely discover new land-based species. “Usually new species are found in the oceans, but there obviously are places, such as these mountains, that we know very little about. I think that it will surprise people how little we know about our world. The more people who realize how special these places are, the more they will care about how we treat the environment.”

Bruce’s wife Carol says Bruce’s work often involves long periods of travels. “He spends a fair amount of time away, but it’s in large chunks. The hardest part is that when he’s in the wilderness, we don’t have contact with him. We’re proud of what he does, it’s his love. I think it’s benefited us because we have a lot of background knowledge about nature, and a greater sensitivity to environmental issues.”

Time constraints limited exploration during the recent trip, Beehler says. “Conservation International will do a follow up trip in the fall. There’s lots of stuff we haven’t seen yet. We were on the mountain for only two weeks, which is a short time for tropical field work. We have only scratched the surface.”

Beehler says he and his companions explored the Foja Mountains as a part of a larger effort to explore and conserve Indonesia’s Mamberamo Basin and its surrounding terrain. “The Foja Mountains are already technically protected as a wildlife sanctuary by the Indonesian government, but the science work that we did was part of a bigger conservation project. We are interested in this big forest, the Mamberamo, that the Fojas are part of. We have been trying to create a conservation plan to please the locals and the government.”

Scientists must balance the needs of indigenous peoples and conservation arrangements, Beehler says. “We help them plan to save this area, but we also help them with the logistics, such as parks, education, health care and business opportunities. We often have more luck with preservation in the developing world than in the developed world.”

Wilcove says Beehler has made numerous discoveries outside of his most recent trip. “Several years ago, he and some other scientists discovered a bird called a Pitohui that somehow secretes some chemical in its feathers that’s quite poisonous to people and other animals.”

Bruce says the Foja Mountains offer an ecosystem utterly different than any in North America. “Here in the United States, we have mountain ranges, but we have seasonality here, and animals migrate. In the tropics, it’s warm and wet all year round, and animals don’t have to migrate.”

The discoveries will contribute to the effort to preserve the Foja Mountains, Wilcove says. “It’s probably too early to see the long-term implications, but some of the things include greater international attention to the area, which would help with the protection of the mountains later on. The mountains may be difficult to access now but roads can be built and populations will expand. The expedition will raise public consciousness and appreciation for conservation efforts.”

Bruce says he hopes the international recognition of his discovery will foster increased commitment to the conservation of the Foja Mountains and other unique regions. “I’m hoping that these 15 minutes of fame will allow my voice to be heard. I hope it will allow me to be a more effective conservationist, and save some of these places.”


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COM: Irked

DVDs: The Next Generation
Blu-ray and HD DVD Are Coming, but What's the Difference?
By JONATHAN SILVERSTEIN


March 28, 2006 -- - For some of us, it feels as if it were only yesterday that we repurchased our entire home movie collection to make the jump from VHS to DVD.

Times had changed, and it was obvious at a glance that the significantly improved picture and sound quality, coupled with a whole host of never-before-seen features, made it well worth the time and money.

But if you thought you could just sit back and enjoy the high-quality DVD presentation, you were sadly mistaken. It's time to open up those wallets again and get a trash bag ready for your DVD collection.

In one corner, there's the Blue-ray format and in the other, HD DVD. Both are new kinds of DVDs that can hold massive files for high-definition versions of movies.

But how will consumers choose one over the other, and do we really need the upgrade?

Which One Should I Buy?
Both HD DVD and Blu-ray are supported by huge multimillion- and billion-dollar electronics and computer companies, and the Hollywood movie studios own the content that these new formats will contain.

For consumers, it will be tough to figure out which product is best. Even industry analysts say that picking a front-runner is difficult at this point.

"Microsoft is putting their weight behind HD DVD," said Joni Blecher, associate analyst for Jupiter Research. "But you also have Dell and Apple putting their weight behind Blu-ray."

Most consumers will likely buy whatever makes sense for them, and that could be driven by another generation war: video-game consoles.

The PlayStation 3 is expected to use Blu-ray, and there are reports of an HD DVD drive for Microsoft's Xbox 360. Blecher said that will get the millions of consumers who play video games vested in the format used by their games of choice.

"The release of the PS3 later this year and Xbox 360 will actually drive sales a lot," she said. "Whatever format people have in their home is probably the one they'll buy when they have to pick."

Of course, if you're a procrastinator, she said you can always pick up a dual-drive unit, which will include drives for both HD DVD and Blu-ray.

Do I Need to Upgrade?
Blecher said that just because there's a new format out there doesn't mean people will buy it.

"You have to give people a good enough reason to upgrade," she said. "The difference between DVD and VHS was demonstrative, but how much of a difference will we see in the next-gen DVDs?"

The penetration of HDTVs and the desire to take advantage of the clarity those sets offer will also be a major factor, but Blecher said the cost and value may drive consumers to buy or sit on the technology they already have.

"Price and content that is unique are key," she explained. "The new DVDs are expected to cost around $30 or $40."

It'll be up to consumers to decide whether or not they think it's worth it, though she did point out that if you already own an HDTV and a good-quality, progressive-scan DVD player, the change will likely be minimal.

What's the Difference?
Both formats have the capacity to hold high-definition versions of films, but there are differences that go beyond their respective names.

First of all, Blu-ray players will use blue lasers to read the information encoded on the discs, unlike the red lasers currently used, which the HD DVD players will continue to rely on.

Also, with 50 gigabytes, or gigs, of space, Blu-ray holds much more data than HD DVDs, which store only about 30 gigs. Current DVDs can hold up to 8.5 gigs.

When Can I Get One?
Early adopters who want to get their hands on the new technology can pick up a Blu-ray player from Samsung for about $1,000 at the end of May.

Toshiba was scheduled to release two HD DVD players today, one costing around $499 and the other about $799, but the devices were held, as there aren't any movies available in the format yet.

Though no movie studios have come out to exclusively support either format -- why would they when they could sell to two groups of consumers? -- they have shown support for the change.

By the end of the year, Blue-ray and HD DVDs are expected to flood DVD stores, though it'll be up to consumers to decide which one sticks around.


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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

COM: Blogarithmic #109

Been having trouble with Blogger today eating links, so i'm posting a second Blogarithmic so as not to wreck the previous one.

I blogged the other day about Louie Bond's having told me about Bryan Chafin, a Wimberley high-schooler in One-Act Play, starring in Kat Candler's Jumping of Bridges. I'm just now catching up with the aftermath of SXSW's Film Festival and caught this Marc Savlov Review in the Austin Chronicle:

Jumping Off Bridges
D: Kat Candler; with Bryan Chafin, Glen Powell Jr., Savannah Welch, Katie Lemon, Michael Emerson, Anne Nabors, Rhett Wilkins



Austin filmmaker Kat Candler is one of the most astute observers of teenage behavior working behind a camera today, and jumping off bridges, her powerful, resonant examination into the impact of suicide on those left behind is as realistic a narrative portrait of love, death, and human debris as anything you're ever likely to see onscreen. An unnervingly quiet, calm, and contemplative dive into the darkest riptides of life, Candler's film is buoyed by a quartet of young actors headed by a devastating, near-wholly internalized performance from Bryan Chafin. As Zak, the guilt-hobbled young survivor of both a sibling's random death and a parent's suicide, he single-handedly erases decades of poorly realized cinematic teens from memory while managing some of the most cacophonous silences since those half-dozen heartbeats following Plato's fall at Griffith Observatory. Equally heartwrenching is Michael Emerson as Zak's father, an emotionally battered parent whose unsure, unsteady gaze sweeps over his riven brood like a lighthouse beacon casting out hope atop the foamy black breakers of self-destruction. What's most impressive about Candler's film is how she maintains that tenuous, fragile strand of hope in the face of what should be its utter absence. The film's underlying pulse of friendship and familial unity salvaging shattered hearts from oblivion is a truth eloquently made plain here. jumping off bridges whispers it out of the dark and shouts into the light while slicing downward into the cool, still waters of youth only to emerge, shivering and unsure, alive after all.


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COM: Blogarithmic #108

A Melon-headed Whale was recently rescued off Corpus Christi. Sandy is now at the SeaLab facility of the Texas State Aquarium. A Video of the rescue is here.

Here’s a joke from Walt Lacy:

A guy is driving around eastern Kentucky and he sees a sign in front of a house: "Talking Dog For Sale." He rings the bell and the owner tells him the dog is in the backyard.

The guy goes into the backyard and sees a Labrador retriever sitting there.

"You talk?" he asks.

"Yep," the Lab replies.

"So, what's your story?"

The Lab looks up and says,"Well,I discovered that I could talk when I was pretty young. I wanted to help the government, so I told the CIA about my gift, and in no time at all they had me jetting from country to country, sitting in rooms with spies and world leaders, because no one figured a dog would be eavesdropping. I was one of their most valuable spies for eight years running."

"But the jetting around really tired me out, and I knew I wasn't getting any younger so I decided to settle down. I signed up for a job at the airport to do some undercover security wandering near suspicious characters and listening in."

"I uncovered some incredible dealings and was awarded a batch of medals. I got married, had a mess of puppies, and now I'm just retired."

The guy is amazed. He goes back in and asks the owner what he wants for the dog.

"Ten dollars," the guy says.

"Ten dollars? This dog is amazing. Why on earth are you selling him so cheap?"

"Because he's a liar. He never did any of that shit."

And Susan Sander dropped off this column from the Dallas Morning News:

Steve Blow: Bush library – it's not exactly academic
Sunday, March 26, 2006

Heaven help me, with all the talk about the George W. Bush Presidential Library, a question keeps coming to mind:

What's it going to have? Coloring books?

Now, don't get all defensive on me. We can tease because he's one of us, right?

And you have to admit: There's something ironic about building a library for a guy who has never been in one.

Oh, maybe not "never." He did marry a librarian. There may have been some "research" in the stacks back in the day.

But no matter how you feel about the president, I think we can all agree that "academic" is not the first word that springs to mind.

In fact, it's one of the things his admirers like best about him.

As presidents go, he really is an ordinary Joe. And let's face it, ordinary Joes – and Georges – don't spend a lot of time hanging around libraries.

Even the first lady has joked about it. At last year's White House correspondents' dinner, Laura Bush said their marriage must have been meant to be.

"I was the librarian who spent 12 hours a day in the library," she said. Pause, pause. "Yet somehow I met George."

Go ahead, add the rim shot.

Yet here in Dallas and down in Waco, folks are falling all over themselves to build a fancy-schmancy library for a guy who clearly would much rather be out chopping cedar.

In Texas.

In August.

And thank goodness he didn't meet a wife that way.

Officials at the three finalist universities are nervous Nellies right now – afraid to say squat for fear of offending someone on the presidential team. So what little they do say is all sweetness and light.

But you have to wonder if there isn't some nervousness about building a grand temple for a fellow whose legacy is so uncertain at the moment.

Could this highly sought prize end up as a national joke? The Millard Fillmore of presidential libraries?

Already there are a few jokes. Jay Leno expressed astonishment at reports that the Bush library will cost $300 million. He gasped, "That's about $150 million per book!"

I didn't say they were good jokes.

But I come back to my original question: Exactly what is going to be in this library? What's going to make it the big tourist draw everyone seems to expect?

As my colleague Colleen McCain Nelson reported in a front-page story Friday, most of the other presidential libraries have seen declining interest and attendance.

So what's going to make the GWB version any different?

Let's be honest. He doesn't have the greatest personal story to tell – no log cabin beginnings, no impossible odds to overcome.

I can see the exhibits now – "The Frat Boy Years," "The Failed Business Years," "The Figurehead Baseball Job," "Cool, I'm Governor!," "Holy Crap, I'm President!!"

So, no, personal history probably won't be the big draw. But perhaps the museum could highlight some of Mr. Bush's soaring oratory:

•"Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream."

•"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."

•"Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?"

Hmm. Maybe we had better keep thinking.

Of course, these museums aren't just for tourists. They are also official archives, where serious presidential scholars will do their research.

But with the Bush administration's penchant for secrecy, the archives might be a challenge:

"Met with CLASSIFIED to discuss CLASSIFIED . Heckuva CLASSIFIED."

You know, it dawns on me that I don't need to fret about creating this library. I'm sure the Bush folks have a perfectly good plan:

Outsource it to Halliburton.


Walt also sent this link to a cool illusion.

The program of the International Congress on Bivalvia.

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ENV: NAS Most Endangered Birds

New National Audubon Society Report Lists America's 10 Most Endangered Birds
By National Audubon Society, March 28, 2006

WASHINGTON, DC - The gravest threat facing endangered bird species in the U.S. today is proposed Congressional action to weaken the protections of the Endangered Species Act, according to a report released by the National Audubon Society. "America's Top Ten Most Endangered Birds" notes that development pressures, invasive species, and global warming are threatening these bird species with extinction. The Endangered Species Act is described as "the strongest federal safeguard against the extinction of bird species in the U.S."

"Congress needs to do everything possible to save these imperiled birds before it is too late," said Betsy Loyless, Audubon's Senior Vice President for Public Policy. "Unfortunately all the effort in Congress is focused on cutting holes in the Endangered Species Act."

The report is expected to attract strong attention from conservation-minded Americans, including 46 million bird-watchers in the U.S.

Top 10 Endangered Birds & their Habitats
The birds named in the report are: Ivory-billed Woodpecker; California Condor; Whooping Crane; Gunnison Sage-Grouse; Kirtland's Warbler; Piping Plover; Florida Scrub-Jay; Ashy Storm-Petrel; Golden-cheeked Warbler; Kittlitz's Murrelet; and ten island birds of Hawaii.

Their habitats span the entire East Coast and are dotted across the nation, in Alabama, Alaska,
Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin.

Endangered Species Act Under Attack
Since its enactment more than 30 years ago, the Endangered Species Act has been profoundly successful in protecting species, including our national symbol, the Bald Eagle. The Endangered Species Act is a safety net that has saved dozens of species from becoming extinct. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the act has prevented the extinction of 99 percent of the species listed as endangered or threatened. In addition, 68 percent of listed species are stable or improving. The longer a species is listed under the Act, the more likely it is to be improving.

Audubon released the report as the Senate actively considers legislation that, if passed, would undermine the vital protections provided to endangered birds by the Endangered Species Act. In September 2005, the House passed HR 3824, sponsored by Congressman Richard Pombo (R-CA). This bill, euphemistically called "The Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act," eliminates protection for critical habitat; creates loopholes allowing projects to proceed regardless of impacts on endangered birds and wildlife; provides highly controversial payments to landowners as compensation for complying with the law; and includes special exemptions for pesticide manufacturers.

Ninety bird species are listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The National Audubon Society report focuses on the most imperiled birds nationwide and appeals for efforts to ensure their survival.

Audubon is dedicated to protecting birds and other wildlife and the habitat that supports them. Our national network of community-based nature centers and chapters, scientific and educational programs, and advocacy on behalf of areas sustaining important bird populations, engage millions of people of all ages and backgrounds in conservation.

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Monday, March 27, 2006

COM: Blogarithmic #107

Went to see Lone Star and Laundry and Bourbon at The Point Friday night, and then saw Opus Cactus by the Momix Dance Theatre at Cailloux Sunday. Both were great fun. Will review both in the next couple of days. I got to see a lot of folks over the weekend, some only from a distance, had too much talking to do with some folks, especially those i hadn’t seen in some years. Somewhere this weekend i saw Nancy Stuart (now Reagan) and her friend Virginia, Annie Reynolds, John Ruth, Jerry Mertz, Josh O’Brien and his brother, Dion Denevan, Teri Valentine, Brooke and Cheryl there to see Ryan Batley in his big role in Lone Star, as well as the entire Pierce clan there to see Dennie, John and Billie Davis, Virginia Graham, Leatrice and Jack, Louise Leahy, Charles Bryant, Steve Galland, Tammy Brown with Chris and Derek, Faith Danielson, Reese and Randy Johnson to see Sonja in Laundry and Bourbon and all three at Momix, Wright Roussel, Tom and Paula Repka, Scott Fair, George Eychner, Sue Bailey, Jon and Sandy Wolfmueller, Barbara Cardova, Kay Talley-Foos and Fred, Joan Bryson, Irene Van Winkle, Jacob Lewis, Arthur Bell, Kit Werlein, and of course, Susan Balentine. And congrats to directors Ann Galland and David Howard, and actors Ryan Batley, Dennie Pierce and Ryan Bailey in Lone Star, and Sonja Johnson, Tommie Howell and Virginia Sommers in Laundry and Bourbon.

Long talk with Cody Gage, now teaching photography at Schreiner University. He’s preparing a huge installation of his work for opening on August 26th. He promises it’ll be heavier than the work on his website www.gifcomedia.com, but you can get a taste of his style there. I know Cody from his film work some years ago – his is a talented and most provocative mind, and i personally hope he wends his way back to film at some point. Then again, i imagine he has as much to say with his art as he did with film.

Well, today i try again to get my extra plumbing removed. Back with more news once i’m deplumbed.

So much for brackets! I don't have a single team in the final four. and still ended up fifth of nine in our group, but there's nothing quite like being ranked 374,195th overall!


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Friday, March 24, 2006

COM: Blogarithmic #106

Well, my liver decided to swallow that piece of plumbing and the mini-submarine that snaked down my gut yesterday was unable to snare it, soooo they’re handing off to the US Navy on Monday and we try again.

Louie Bond, who i got to see at Llano yesterday (see the OAP summary below somewhere) for the first time in 25+ years, wrote to turn me on to Jake Patoski's blog -- Hasta la victoria . . . siempre. He's taking a semester in Cuba and is blogging his experience there. His brother impressed me last year as Filch in Wimberley's Beggar's Opera, and he was just as good yesterday if not quite in such an upfront role. Anyway, i'd say writing runs in the family as well as acting. I haven't had a chance to read the blog thoroughly but a scan of the latest post shows it to be superbly written and full of insight. Looking forward to reading more.

As i noted in Not Really A Cat Friday, last night's low here was 25. It's ridiculous for March. We were below freezing for six hours. Another short-duration freeze is predicted for tonight. I hope to get some filming in this weekend before rains hit again Sunday afternoon or evening.

Well, my bracket disintegrated but somehow i'm still in 4th place. With Duke and Gonzaga out i lost an entire side of my bracket. Oh well, it was nice leading for a day.

Squeek was in touch today. Expect to hear more from him soon. And Travis Haring is bringing his boy scout troop in today for a few days of camping. I bet they didn't plan on it being cold!

The new movie theatre complex opens in town today -- ten screens, up from six, plus the old one is still in business. Right away the good news is that the old screens will have Capote on this week, so i'll pick up another one i've missed so far this year. Otherwise the only other well-reviewed flick on in town was V for Vendetta. I haven't seen what's on at the new theater yet.

Going to see Lone Star and Laundry and Bourbon tonight, with a whole host of friends directing and acting, including Ryan Bailey, Ryan Batley, Dennie Pierce, Ann Galland, Tommie Howell and Sonja Johnson. And Lilies of the Field, starring the dazzling Clifton Fifer opens next weekend at Playhouse 2000.

I'm also going to check out Momix Dance Theatre's Opus Cactus at the Cailloux theater on Sunday. The weekend will be full!

Here's some upcoming production schedules:

The Point Theatre:
May 25 - June 10 -- Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
June 15 - July 1 -- The Magician's Nephew
July 13 - July 29 -- Cinderella
August 13-19 -- Harvey
September 14-30 -- A Streetcar Named Desire
December 1-16 -- Miracle on 34th Street

Playhouse 2000:
March 30 - April 9 -- Lilies of the Field
June 1-11 -- Anything Goes
July 13-23 -- The Goodbye Girl
August 10-20 -- One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
September 14-24 -- Winnie the Pooh
October 12-22 -- Dearly Departed
November 9-19 -- Squabbles

Some smokin' debate on the Mideast.

Checking out graphically how your site connects to the web.

And how it influences the blogosphere.

Dragonflies featured in National Geographic.

ManyBirds has posted a bunch of Video Clips of rare Texas birds.

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REV: District One-Act Play

The bad news is that the Ingram Tom Moore Thespians did not advance yesterday at district One-Act Play. The good news is that they performed very well, got lots of kudos, and recognition, and we’re all proud of what they did under enormous pressure this year. So to the starring seniors, Lillian, Meggie, Whitney, and Summer, and everyone else in the cast and crew of 21, and the directors, Roy, Marie and Holly, congratulations on a wonderful season. The now-open spring also will allow for another spring show – which the kids are already working on today.

The competition was, as usual, tough. It’s our humble opinion that district is the toughest level for us, until state. There are four consistently good schools competing, including Wimberley (a perennial OAP powerhouse), Bandera and Llano. And the others, Brady and Liberty Hill are always capable of surprises. The advancing plays this year were Wimberley with Man of La Mancha and Bandera with The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Llano with Dancing at Lughnasa got the Honorable Mention/Alternate slot.

The judge, Dr. Marty Runnels, was very complimentary of ITM’s crew, including singling out Meggie Nidever (to whom he awarded Honorable Mention All-Star Cast) and Lillian Beaudoin (who was named to the All-Star Cast).

Wimberley, which never fails to entertain and impress, was stunning in its rendition of Man of La Mancha. Cole Sutera, playing Don Quixote de la Mancha, was named Best Actor. I’ve seen him the last three years and he has always been a standout, but he’s grown much as an actor, and this year it was difficult to take your eyes off him, so much did he command the stage. I thought Brooke Shedd, Bryan Chafin and Patrick Byers were also outstanding. But the entire cast was thoroughly engaging – they never broke character, and in full transition were a swirling mass of humanity you could not get enough of. It’s a bit like being in a candy store and being unable to choose.

I missed seeing Bandera’s piece (since i was still absorbing anesthesia down the road), but the folks i talked to on arrival were uniformly impressed. The judge was too, presenting Ashley Jennings with Best Actress. Of course, besides being homers, and having an affinity for Wimberley, we root for Bandera because the director is our good friend Roslyn Houghton, who’s acted in a number of works with us at The Point. So, go Bandera and Wimberley.

I also finally caught up with Louie Bond, whose daughters Annie (as Antonia) and Jenny (alternate) were a part of Wimberley’s production. It took Louie's hunting me down last year for us to reconnect. We worked together in the distant past as reporters/editors. Now she’s a magazine editor. Twice now she’s come to my rescue when i put my foot in my mouth . . . Thanks Louie.

She pointed out that Wimberley's Bryan Chafin is the star of Kat Candler’s new movie Jumping off Bridges, which i’ve been itching to see.

The Area competition will be at the Lone Star Theatre at Wimberley High School on April 8.

The state competition is May 4-6 at The University of Texas in Austin.

Here’s the awards:
Technical Crew Awards: Vladimir Merritt (ITM)

Honorable Mention All-Star Cast: Meggie Nidever (ITM), Millie Owens (Liberty Hill), Kendale Rice (Brady), Jordan Bovson (Bandera), Acayla Haile (Bandera), Bryan Chafin (Wimberley), Brooke Shedd (Wimberley), Chris Thomas (Llano)

All-Star Cast: Lillian Beaudoin (ITM), Casey Curry (Liberty Hill), Johnathon Fleming (Brady), Chris Abdo (Bandera), Zane Gordon-Bouzard (Wimberley), Patrick Byers (Wimberley), Beth McDaniel (Llano), Clarissa McDaniel (Llano)

Best Actress: Ashley Jennings (Bandera)
Best Actor: Cole Sutera (Wimberley)

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ENV: Not Really A Cat Friday

Every spring, there is a short period in which our endemic Edwards Plateau Redbuds bloom. In addition to just liking the color it provides against our sky (especially after a cold-front induced rainfall), it is also an impetus for me to fire up the still and film cameras. In that brief window we also get the first spring explosion of butterflies, and it’s an excellent way to find the scarce Henry's Elfin, an early season butterfly with a brief flight season here at its westernmost range edge. The peak of blooming is so brief that some years i miss filming the bugs altogether because of the weather.

On March 18th, the plants finally opened enough to attract hordes of swallowtails, but there were dense clouds presaging a front and little else was present. The 19th produced our first heavy rains in about 6 months and filming was a washout. But on the 20th i was able to locate three elfins among lots of Olive Juniper Hairstreaks and Juvenal’s/Horace’s Duskywings. Lots of swallowtails were around also. Unfortunately, at midday, i had only a still camera with me, and by the time i returned with a DVcam, a stiff wind had picked up and most of the bugs had left. I got some more film on the 21st, but the elfins had gone, perhaps for the year. Last night we had an extended freeze, with a low of 25, after a high yesterday of only 50. Kinda crazy for March here, but i remember an early April about 10 years ago when the temps hit single digits, so i guess anything could happen. This weekend i plan to be out filming the newly arrived male Golden-cheeked Warblers, and perhaps more leps if the sun is out and the temps back near normal.

Be sure to visit the Friday Ark at Modulator.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Papilio glaucus
Edwards Plateau Redbud, Cercis canadensis v. texensis







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Thursday, March 23, 2006

ATH: US Smacked

A Tough Night for the Americans
By Ronald Blum, AP Sports Writer

DORTMUND, Germany (March 22, 2006) AP -- Gregg Berhalter had a welt under an eye. Josh Wolff walked off the field with a concussion and a cut that needed five stitches. Cory Gibbs had a bruise on his knee.

Germany didn't just beat the United States, the Germans beat up on the Americans, a 4-1 rout Wednesday night that relieved some of the pressure on the World Cup hosts and did little to inspire confidence in the U.S. team.

After a scoreless first half that left the home fans booing and whistling, the Germans went ahead when halftime sub Bastian Schweinsteiger scored 21 seconds into the second half. Germany then overwhelmed the Americans with goals by Oliver Neuville (73rd minute), Miroslav Klose (75th minute) and Michael Ballack (79th minute).

"What this game proves is who can play at this level and who can't," U.S. goalkeeper Kasey Keller said.

Steve Cherundolo scored his first international goal in the 85th on a 75-yard drive that bounced into the net. The Americans were missing Landon Donovan, Brian McBride, Claudio Reyna, DaMarcus Beasley, Oguchi Onyewu and Eddie Lewis because of injuries and club commitments, and U.S. coach Bruce Arena referred to the group on the field as his "second team."

"I don't think too many players played themselves on our World Cup roster tonight, to be honest with you," he said.

Germany's national team and coach Juergen Klinsmann were under intense pressure from fans, bosses and politicians following a 4-1 loss at Italy on March 1.

"Klinsi, will he be gone if he loses today?" read a large headline in Bild, with a picture on an airplane, a reference to Klinsmann's decision to live in California and commute to Germany.

Many in the crowd of 64,500 at Signal Iduna Park were unhappy when Lukas Podolski and Ballack misfired on open shots early.

"It was an important victory because now we'll be able to prepare in peace for the World Cup," Klinsmann said. "Some of the criticism in the past few weeks was justified but some comments were below the belt."

Now it is the Americans' fans who have some doubt, especially given a tough World Cup group that includes the Czech Republic, Italy and Ghana. The United States, an all-time high fifth in the world rankings, had previously played World Cup warmups against far weaker teams, tying Canada 0-0 and beating Norway (5-0), Japan (3-2) Guatemala (4-0) and Poland (1-0).

Their remaining exhibitions are all against teams that failed to qualify for the 32-nation field: Jamaica, Morocco, Venezuela and Latvia. When playing in Europe against the big five soccer powers of Germany, England, Italy, France and Spain, the United States is 0-9 and has been outscored 26-4. The Americans allowed four goals for the first time since a 4-2 loss at Germany that preceded the 2002 World Cup.

"Maybe some guys were looking at that ranking a little bit too seriously," a visibly angry Keller said. "It's a reality check for a few guys and that's a good thing, this time, that it doesn't happen June 12."

For him, the lesson was clear.

"We're not going to walk into the World Cup thinking, `Oh, you know, we beat Norway 5-0 and we beat Japan in some games, that now we're great and we're untouchable,'" he said.

Arena originally planned to play three defenders, five midfielders and two forwards but switched his formation when Germany started three forwards.

Gregg Berhalter had a tough night, Cory Gibbs was shifted to left back -- a position he normally doesn't play -- and Cherundolo committed the foul that led to the first goal.

Jimmy Conrad played the second-half kickoff back to Kerry Zavagnin, who returned the ball to Conrad, who went it wide to Cherundolo, who sent it out of play. Germany's throw-in went to Ballack, whose goal beat the United States 1-0 in the 2002 World Cup quarterfinals.

He was fouled by Cherundolo, and Schweinsteiger's swerving 25-yard free kick bounced past several players and into net on a hop, just past the fingertips of a diving Keller. The goal initially was credited to Klose.

"Just a huge mental mistake," Arena said. "Giving the game away in the opening kickoff of the second half to me is very foolish."

Eddie Johnson had a great chance to tie it in the 66th, when he headed Cherundolo's free kick toward the net, but Kahn dived, stuck out an arm and batted the ball away.

Neuville then got away from Berhalter and beat Keller, his teammate on the German club Borussia Moenchengladbach, after Klose headed the ball down to him. Two minutes later, Berhalter misplayed the ball to Klose, who sent the ball to Neuville. He backheeled the ball to Klose, who came in alone of Keller, got the goalkeeper to go for a fake and slotted the ball in. With no U.S. player within 5 yards, Ballack scored with a header in the 79th off a cross from Klose.

"It was very tough at the start," Ballack said. "The first goal broke the tension and we played well after that."

Down 4-0, the Americans got a weird goal when Keller rolled the ball to Cherundolo, who sent the ball up the middle of the field toward Johnson. The ball bounced into net as Johnson and Kahn collided.

Cherundolo, who plays in Germany for Hannover, didn't see many positives.

"I hope we learned that at this level, you really cannot lose your concentration," he said. "I think Juergen will maybe sleep better at night now."

Notes: Arena said the Major League Soccer players, whose seasons haven't started, "are very unfit for games at this level." ... Wolff came out in the 17th minute, 14 minutes after he ran into the elbow of Christoph Metzelder while chasing a ball from Johnson. ... Reyna will be sidelined for up to a month because of a shoulder injury sustained last weekend with Manchester City.

From the US National Team Players Association

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COM: Blogarithmic #105

Going in today for Part V of my Jihad Against Gangrene. With any luck at all i'll be out of anesthesia quick and headed down to Llano with Ruthie Schmuck to see the district One-Act Play Competition. Ingram's Playing for Time is on stage at 4:00 or so.

Facebook and MySpace netted connections with quite a few more folks yesterday -- George Thompson, Collins Thompson, Chris de la Croix-Vaubois, Paul Angiolillo, Patrick Wade, Garrett Whitten, Meggie Nidever, and Mason Bates. Chris wrote that he saw Chris Sheedy a couple weeks ago too -- on a flight to somewhere.

The US got smacked hard by Germany in a World Cup tuneup. But the US was missing several key players, while some youngsters got playing time, and Germany was out to prove they were better than their out-of-the-top-20 ranking. Josh Wolff left the game with a concussion and five stitches.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

COM: Blogarithmic #104

Andrea Lesch and Matthew Mueller are getting married this June! Congrats!

Patrick McGannon’s at LSU -- another old friend found via Facebook.

David and Jan Dauphin found a fantastic bird at Bentsen yesterday, a Piratic Flycatcher. They’ll be returning today to try to relocate it. Susan Sander also forwarded pictures of a cool butterfly from Kerrville’s Riverside Nature Center. The pictures were taken in October 2004 and are clearly identifiable as a Ruby-spotted Swallowtail, a Mexican species that exists in small numbers to the Rio Grande Valley, and occasionally strays north.

Every spring, there is a short period in which our endemic Edwards Plateau Redbuds bloom. In addition to just liking the color it provides against our sky (especially after a cold-front induced rainfall), it is also an impetus for me to fire up the still and film cameras. In that brief window we also get the first spring explosion of butterflies, and it’s an excellent way to find the scarce Henry's Elfin, an early season butterfly with a brief flight season here at its westernmost range edge. The peak of blooming is so brief that some years i miss filming the bugs altogether because of the weather. On March 18th, the plants finally opened enough to attract hordes of swallowtails, but there were dense clouds presaging a front and little else was present. The 19th produced our first heavy rains in about 6 months and filming was a washout. But on the 20th i was able to locate three elfins among lots of Olive Juniper Hairstreaks and Juvenal’s/Horace’s Duskywings. Lots of swallowtails were around also. Unfortunately, at midday, i had only a still camera with me, and by the time i returned with a DVcam, a stiff wind had picked up and most of the bugs had left. I’ll try again today, but the front drove temps down to 35 last night. We’ll see.

The now blossoming controversy over the Ivory-billed Woodpecker has not only created a whole new generation of skeptics, but has dragged out a whole new coterie of folks who’ve been observing the birds for years without mentioning it to the world. I guess we’re in the kooks and experts stage, with a Jerry Springer faceoff coming sometime in the summer twixt-migration doldrums. Stay tuned.

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Monday, March 20, 2006

COM: Blogarithmic #103

Tonight is the last local performance of Ingram Tom Moore High School's rendition of Playing for Time by Arthur Miller. It's at 7:30 at Warrior Theatre in Ingram. This piece will then be performed for UIL One-Act Play competition at Llano High School on Thursday. Last year this group advanced to the regional finals and just missed going to state. Come out and support them.

Saw Graham Douglass over the weekend -- he was back for Spring Break from Syracuse. On his return he'll be in Anything Goes, and then returns at the end of the semester to take part in Playhouse 2000's version of the same play.

Also saw Ryan King, Chris Wilson, Lauren Hensley, Gary Givens and Anthony Goodman during the weekend -- all back for break.

Well the Lady Antlers did what just a week ago seemed improbable if not impossible.

From the Kerrville Daily Times:

The Lady Antlers had just beaten Fredericksburg, 4-1, after starting District 27-4A play 0-3-1, and Sletten felt it was appropriate to give her team a message following its first district win.

“I basically told the girls that we were better than the way we were playing,” Sletten said. “I also told them that Fredericksburg beat Uvalde and Bandera and that we could do the same.”

Sletten’s players did just that as Tivy beat Bandera and Uvalde to move into third place at 3-3-1. While the Lady Antlers lost consecutive matches to Boerne and Alamo Heights, they remained in third place thanks to Bandera’s wins against Fredericksburg and Uvalde.

Tivy punched its ticket to its ninth-straight postseason Friday with a 2-0 win at Fredericksburg.

“No one wants to be part of the team that has the playoff streak snapped,” Sletten said. “These girls achieved the goal of keeping the streak alive.”

Now Tivy (7-11-2) faces New Braunfels in the bi-district round of the Class 4A state playoffs. The kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. Friday at New Braunfels.

Meanwhile the boys ended the season with a 2-2 tie:

The Tivy Antlers and Fredericksburg Billies embarked on a good, old-fashioned defensive struggle in their final District 27-4A match of the season Friday night at Antler Stadium that ended in a 2-2 tie.

The Antlers finished with a 6-10-4 overall record for the season and 2-5-3 mark in District 27-4A with Friday’s outcome.

Several Tivy seniors enjoyed solid performances in their final match in an Antlers’ jersey. Eric Martinez, Jeremy Ervin, Robert Allard, Juan Claudio, Alan Harst, Andrew Tucker, Kevin Devore, Daniel Cortez, Trey Prior, and Travis Holden all played key roles for Tivy in their final home match.

More from the Daily Times

Lone Star & Laundry and Bourbon are opening at the Point Theatre March 24. Ann Galland is directing “Laundry and Bourbon,” which features well-known local actresses Virginia Sommers, Tommie Howell-Bailey and Sonja Johnson. “Lone Star” is directed by David Howard, with cast members Dennie Pierce, Ryan Bailey and Ryan Batley.

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