Sunday, April 2, 2017

2016, A GREAT Year for Life Birds, Part 1

[I'm more than a bit behind in my posting! Here's where I finally catch up on all my bird posts that should've been made in 2016 but weren't.]

As of the first week of February 2016, I already added 7 new birds to my life list -- as many as I added in all of 2015.

The last Saturday in January, I finally saw a Common Merganser on the Central Park Reservoir. It was definitely bigger than the more usual Red-breasted Mergansers,

On the last Sunday in January, we enjoyed an Audubon Society Eco-cruise of New York Harbor. It was a picture-perfect day of bright sunshine, blue skies, calm water, near 50 degrees. The 2-hour cruise took us past the shores of Brooklyn, Governor's Island, Ellis Island, Liberty Island and Bayonne, and down to Hoffman and Swinburne Islands, two small man-made islands on the eastern shore of Staten Island. There are ducks out there, ducks and loons and gulls that don't come inland to the Central Park Reservoir and only occasionally visit the East River or Hudson River for easy viewing.

Clangula hyemalis. Accept no substitutes.

Lots and lots of gulls and cormorants all over the place.
Familiar Herring Gulls, Ring-billed Gulls, Greater Black-backed Gulls, Double-crested Cormorants, Mallards, Black Ducks, Buffleheads and Red-breasted Mergansers were abundant along the shores. Spotting the unfamiliar Bonaparte's Gulls and Common Loons was the challenge!

There are seals too! Harbor seals like to sun themselves on the rocks and sandbars around Swinburne Island. They tend to hit the water when the boats come close, and stared at us from the waves.

So freaking cute.
So on one cruise I got Long-tailed Ducks, Common Goldeneye, Great Cormorant, Bonaparte's Gull, Red-throated Loon, and this Surf Scoter that was an unexpected bonus bird:

That is totally a Surf Scoter. Yay!
It hardly bothered me that my erstwhile spouse had already seen several of these birds elsewhere around New York City waters. I'm just not as eager to go chasing a critter that might have flown off by the time I got there. I figure I'll get them eventually...and often do.

In mid-February we went to Florida, with intentions of birding at Laxahatchie and Green Cay reserves near the Everglades. We visited a friend whose home is on the shore of a small lake and surrounded by a moat, and he likes to post photos of white ibis and wood storks gazing into his living room windows while the indoor cats lose their minds. Well, it was all true.

That's in the next post.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Why I HATE the current crop of Republicans

Some leading Republican politicians think poor people still aren't poor enough. Hence their redoubled efforts to take yet more money away from the mass majority of Americans, and fork it over to insurance company CEOs instead. Never mind that actual human beings -- including children -- will go hungry, or suffer pain and hardship because of untreated illness, or end up sleeping in their cars because they can't pay rent. Here's a lovely list  by John Scalzi, of so many of the effects of poverty on a person. (And here is a followup post he made, too.) 
My family didn't have much money when I was a kid; we lived with my grandparents and aunt and uncle, we made do until I was in 3rd grade. When I was 5 I didn't know that my supermarket meltdown over a box of heavily advertised cereal -- that I then refused to eat -- meant we did without other things that week. I didn't know why we bought bread at the Silvercup day-old store instead of across the street at the supermarket. I didn't know fabric and thread for homemade clothes were cheaper than store-bought clothes. I thought shopping in bargain odd lot stores was fun, not just necessary. Things got much better after my dad got a new job. When he got very sick -- twice -- and needed hospitalizations, operations and lengthy recuperation, the union he belonged to made sure we had health coverage, and made sure his job was still there once he recovered.
And, I didn't know how many of those poverty habits were left over from my father living through the Depression, or my mother surviving as a teenager in a Displaced Persons camp after World War II. They never took good times for granted. Ever.
I become absolutely ENRAGED when smug Republican shitgibbons try to suggest poor people are just stupid, or unworthy, or a lower class of animal. Poverty can happen to anyone because bad shit can happen to anyone. 
Yes, I'm one of the privileged now: we don't have to choose between a smartphone bill and a grocery bill, we have health insurance, renters' insurance and we have retirement funds. But not a lot of things have to go wrong for us to upend us. And I have too many friends who truly live on the edge of disaster, through no faults of their own, to ever feel comfortable enough to not worry about growing old in a society being overrun by these hypocritical shitgibbons who lack sympathy, empathy and humanity.
There's a lot of poor-shaming going on. A lot of well-off people think poverty is somehow a "choice" or that poor people aren't being inventive or aren't "thinking positive" or praying hard enough or whatever shit they use to excuse their own lack of caring about other people. There are people who think they are Christians who go to megachurches and pray very loudly, but don't actually pay attention to anything Jesus or his disciples were quoted as saying. These "prosperity gospel" fatheads aren't Christian. They belong to a much older type of religion in which the gods were sometimes kind and sometimes cruel without reason, much like the view of god in the Book of Job. They're basically pagans with a Biblical veneer. 
I'm not a Christian either, so I can wholeheartedly say, without fear of burning in hell, that I hope those smug smiles get wiped off their faces by Fate someday. I hope they end up dumpster diving for their next meal someday. I hope they have to buy an interview outfit at Goodwill. I hope they feel desperate someday. I hope they learn humanity.