Category Archives: Strange World

Odd Geese

Two geese standing near a pond, grooming themselves, their necks at weird angles and lined up so it looks like they're one long...something.

Grooming geese: Nature’s panorama fail.

Seriously, though, I was determined to get some decent photos of these two geese because they are unusual. They’re clearly Canada Geese in terms of body shape and the pattern of markings. But every other goose of this type that I’ve seen has had white patches on the sides of the head, not brown patches, and lighter colored wings.

I uploaded the photos to iNaturalist, and since iNat’s AI didn’t have any better suggestions for species, I tagged them with the Branta genus. (Observations: one goose and another goose.) Someone who knows more about geese than I do suggested they might be hybrids, or they might be Canada Geese with a mutation.

I’ll have to keep an eye out for this pair the next time I’m there. I know a lot of the waterfowl use it as a migration stop, but I’m pretty sure some of the ducks and geese live there year-round.

More Clocks than Time

Walking around the house last night, setting all the clocks to Daylight Saving Time before bed, I found myself thinking: Why do we have so many clocks, anyway? They used to share one clock for a whole town!

OK, that’s not feasible these days, but every time we switch into and out of DST I miss some clocks because we have so many in the apartment, even though there are only three people.

  • Analog wall clocks in the dining room and each bedroom (bought when the kid was small so he’d be familiar with clock faces).
  • A waterproof clock in the bathroom for shower timing.
  • The cameras we use when we want to take higher-quality photos than a phone can (or when I just want to be able to take pictures of birds with a zoom lens so they don’t fly off before I get close enough to catch more than a vague silhouette in the photo). Related: How I fix the timestamp on photos when I forget to switch the camera’s time.
  • Alarm clocks we don’t use for alarms anymore since phones have nicer alarm tones, but they have glowing displays so we can see what time it is when we wake up in the middle of the night.
  • Watches we don’t wear anymore but the batteries last for years, so they’re still going.
  • The microwave has a clock.
  • The stove has a clock.
  • The coffee maker has a clock. (The display’s messed up, though, so we stopped bothering to set it.)
  • The stereo has a clock.
  • The car has a clock.

And that’s not counting the devices that automatically pull from a canonical time source over the internet. Every phone, computer, tablet or ebook reader tracks time, but at least they adjust themselves automatically!

Some of these we placed intentionally, like the wall clocks. Some need to track current time internally to function properly or to keep track of when things happened, like the phones and cameras. But some are just kind of extras.

The microwave doesn’t need a clock. It needs a countdown timer, yes, but the clock is just kind of there as something for the display to show when you’re not using it. I guess since they’re already building the timer circuitry into it, tracking current time doesn’t add much complexity. Same with the oven timer (countdown again) and the stereo (track/album length). Anything that has a display that might show hours/minutes/seconds for some purpose seems to get a clock as its default display. Whether you need it there or not.

Anyway, the upshot is, we have a ridiculous number of clocks for the number of rooms and people here. We always have the time, even though we never seem to have time.

Now I want to write a story about how time goes faster as you get older because you keep adding more clocks, and they use it up.

So, who had “rain of chocolate” on their 2020 bingo card?

A broken ventilation system in a Swiss chocolate factory led to cocoa powder raining (or snowing, if you prefer) down on nearby towns.

The company says one car was lightly, and possibly deliciously, coated. It has offered to pay for any cleaning needed but hasn’t yet been taken up on the offer. — AP

I’ve got to say, I’d prefer a light dusting of cocoa to the wildfire smoke we’ve got around here.

Murder Hornets? Really?

Remember the opening from the 1980s Flash Gordon, where the villain has a dashboard with buttons labeled with various disasters? He used it like a sound effects board: Press the Earthquake button and it would trigger an earthquake. Press the Hurricane button and trigger a hurricane. Press the freaking Hot Hail button and it would trigger a fiery hailstorm. (seriously).

I kinda feel like “Murder Hornets” is another button on that patch board.

For what it’s worth, the Smithsonian has a more…measured take on them: No, Americans Do Not Need to Panic About ‘Murder Hornets’

The Asian giant hornet, seen for the first time in North America in 2019, is unlikely to murder you or U.S. bees, according to Smithsonian entomologist