Monday, December 31, 2007

Year End

Another year wraps up in less than 8 hours. It's hard to believe really, but here we are. I don't normally get too into the whole New Year thing and this year is no exception. I'm going to spend the night with Child One & Two and Mrs. Agricola -- eating some hors d'oeuvre tippling a few drinks and then bed. It won't be too raucous but it's going to be a perfect night for me -- spent with family on the Quarter Acre.

Happy New Year to my couple of readers, and to anybody else stumbling across my ramblings.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

December-180

This December has been the absolute opposite of last December. Last year the temperature through December was in the 50s with some days in the 60s. I actually mowed my lawn in mid-December because it needed it and had continued to grow.

This year I mowed the lawn in early December just because I got a bit psychotic about the leaves that were blowing onto it from the hill at the back of the Quarter Acre. An injured ankle kept me off the hill and prevented raking which lead to blowing leaves and the aforementioned psychosis. The temp that day was about 30 F and it started to snow as I put the mower in its shed.

It only snowed a dusting that day but last week we got two heavy winter blasts. The first came on 13 December -- a ten inch deposit of snow that absolutely crippled the region and left me in my car, stuck on 128/I-95 for seven hours. I never made it home, opting, instead, to stay at my parents' house rather than extend my 53 mile commute into an 11 hour ordeal. I'd never seen anything like that evening's commute and I've driven to Buffalo in less time than it took me cover those 35 miles between work and my folks' house.

Two days after that we got a funky Nor'easter that dropped a decent amount of snow before turning to rain. It made for some miserable and soaked shoveling but it's real, New England, winter weather. The front yard of the Quarter Acre now looks like a World War One trench system with the front walk shoveled out, a path around to the side door, the drive way and sidewalks cleared and a trench dug that permits the spotlight that I put on the front door each Christmas to actually light the door.

I've long been a fan of the pristine snow cover but this December has changed me. I love the paths and boot prints and the sled marks in the yard -- a real winter camp/adventure feeling is permeating the Quarter Acre. I'm not quite sure where to put any snow from any future storms, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Unless some crazy tropical air mass surges in from the south this Christmas should be a white Christmas, the first that I can remember in years.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A New Tradition?

Mrs Agricola built this!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Raptor On The Merrimack

Yesterday, I saw something I've never seen in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: a Bald Eagle. I was talking to the IT person at my current gig when I looked out the window and saw this large dark bird with a white head and white tail feathers swooping over the Merrimack River. It was a pretty amazing sight and it reminded that in August, after writing "Hawk vs. Crows" I had mentioned that I would post about some of the raptor activity I'd seen over the summer.

Well fall has passed as well and I never did that post, so here is a brief rundown of some of the more memorable things I've seen.

In late June Mrs. Agricola and I were at a Red Sox game. At some point in the early innings I looked into center field and saw a falcon soaring around. It alighted on the large John Hancock sign in center field, sat thee for a couple of batters and then was gone. I'm sure that it was the same falcon that I used to see when I worked in the Prudential Center.

In mid-summer a moving van nearly hit a huge Red Tail about 400 yards from the Quarter Acre. The bird swooped low across the road and banked sharply and nearly vertically up the front of the truck's box to avoid being hit. I got a great view of its breast and wings and tail feathers as I drove by in the opposite direction.

We visit Mrs. Agricola's father on Cape Cod frequently during the summer and the Ospreys are all over the place down there. As a kid it was rare to see the Sea Hawk, but they are everywhere now -- their huge nests resting atop perches built for that purpose as well as on power line towers.

Up until about a month ago I was working in Harvard Square where a Peregrine Falcon often caught my eye. I didn't see this bird too much this summer but did notice that it had returned in the Fall.

I jumped back into the freelance market in mid-November and took a job up in Newburyport, MA. I cover about 53 miles each way up I-95/128 and there are loads of Hawks along the ride. At least twice over the past three weeks I've seen a large hawk standing in the median strip, in the grass, in the same place each time. I don't why he's there but the fact that he's in the same spot leads me to believe that he's not just made a kill. His northern-Mass kin all sit in trees, but he's on the ground.

Nothing compares to the Eagle though, that was an amazing site.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Eye In The Sky, and The Street

Google launched Street on their Maps today. From the standpoint of ambition and technical expertise it's an impressive update to their Maps offering. From the standpoint of privacy I find it a bit troubling. There are people in these shots however and I'm sure they didn't sign releases. In regards to buildings there is nothing invasive about someone shooting the outside of a house or other building -- it is after all, just a building and as a structure is in the public domain -- per se. It is strange, however, to see your parent's house in great detail on a site that they neither use, nor necessarily want to be a part of (does anyone really want to have their house up there?).

Google has not yet added my street but the satellite images of the Quarter Acre are very recent. We had the house painted in July of 2007 and the new color is in the overhead shot, as is my red car. Heat and drought savaged the front lawn starting in the same month, and that's also visible. These keys make it possible for me to guess, within a very narrow window, when this shot was taken.

I don't mind the aerial shots, they are relatively impersonal. The street level shots are disconcerting. Not only are "They" watching from above, "They" are driving around with cameras and photographing our front doors.