Archive for June, 2007

Seeing Is Bee-lieving

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

I noticed it this morning, perhaps a dozen or so bees flitting about seemingly chasing each other over a small corner of the side yard where the African violets had bloomed earlier in the spring.

But these didn’t seem like your ordinary honey bees, no. There was something different about the way they moved and hovered and seemed to be almost playing with each other. Like a flying insect version of tag or something. In addition to that some of the bees would occasionally land on the dirt and disappear into the shadows of a tight space at the edge of a river rock where they’d stay for a few moments before flying out again. It was easy to spot where they’d land because a little spray of dirt had formed at various points in the dirt along the edge of the brick walkway. Were they digging?

The answer — yes! — came when one bee climbed out of a tiny established  hole in the space between two bricks  and joined in the melee and I knew for sure these weren’t ordinary honey bees. But what species might they be, these bee burrowers?

Well, later in the afternoon I checked back and sure enough they were still there, though their number and the level of activity had mellowed considerably.  I spied one moving back and forth among the stems and stalks until it finally found a suitable sanctuary and set upon it long enough to marvel at the unfamiliar greenish hue of its eyes and to say “My what big antennae you have!” and get in close enough for this shot (click to enlarge):

burrbee.jpg

Later I found a second bee who was all hunched over and totally still,  and ssssshhhhhhh seemingly bunked down for the day:

 burrbee2.jpg

Clearly these were some sort of special bee.  So of course the first chance I got I Googled “burrowing bees” and from there narrowed it down to leafcutter bee, Andrenid bee or digger bee. Looking at images I was pretty much able to eliminate the first two, and it wasn’t until I came along a picture of a long-horned digger bee that I thought I may have had a match.  And after uploading my pic and the particulars to Bugguide.net I waited, hoping someone far more etomologically educated than I could confirm or deny my layman’s guess.

I didn’t have to wait long. None other than Dr. John Ascher who manages the American Museum of Natural History Bee Database Project left a comment concurring with my assessment.

From what I’ve found digger bees are solitary and relatively docile around humans. Everything About Digger Bees has this informatiom, which may have been the activity I was witnessing this morning:

“Digger bees display very interesting nesting and foraging behavior. Many species nest in dense aggregations, and swarms of males cruise around the nesting sites searching for emerging females. In one species, the males can detect the females in the ground before they emerge. These males dig a hole into the ground where the female will emerge and then await her arrival. Other males attempt to take over and fights ensue. The largest bee usually wins. “

I’m not sure if these perching bees pictured are the winners or losers of those first-round fights, but I’ll check in tomorrow to see if there’s a second round scheduled.

For Whom The Bell Tolls

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

With all my excavatin’ yesterday I overlooked this tiny little find until doing my daily fig sweep and poop scoop this morning. Even though the threads inside indicate it screwed onto something , it looks decidedly bell enough that it just might make a nice new icon for wildbell.com.

 bell.jpg

BowlCam: Chow Time

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

Sixty entirely mindless seconds of Pepper having a mid-day snack — but good audio crunch n’ munch action:

Alternate LOLCATS title: IM N YER BOWL MUNCHIN YER WHISKAZ

Interesting The Way Things Resolve

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

So there’s a Blogging.la get together at the buzz-inducing new Seven Grand bar downtown and on Thursday I’m scheduled to be one of the readers at the L.A. Bloggers Live gathering in Los Feliz Village… the latter being something I oh-what-the-hell’d and signed on to go from spectator to participant in the throes of  a particularly inhibition-reducing beverage of the rum persuasion.

Despite occasionally mulling over the matter and subsequently wondering what the hell I’d been thinking in making such decisions while intoxicated I had not so much as a clue how or with what I was going to fill my five-minutes (or less) time slot. Then this afternoon, I decided to bike to both events — and in doing so a light bulb went off and illuminated the path leading to a decision: the selection must be pedal-powered.

And I’ve found just the one. What a relief, except for the fact that now I have to read it in front of a bunch of people most of whom probably don’t know me or my blog.

P.S. After Ranger stepped on a piece of broken glass in the backyard during a fetch break (she’s OK) I went crazy with the rake intent on de-glassing the backyard (it’s like a minefield out there and I don’t really know why it became so littered). Of course I didn’t come even close, but I did locate a few dozen shards and such. And oh yeah, I found an old Zippo lighter, a hook, a fragment of an old ceramic knicknack, another Batchelder tile. a cople bones, a braided wire thing, an old pull-top, couple screws, a small metal plate and some buttons: (click to enlarge):

haul.jpg

iDont

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

Man but the hype for Apple’s new iPhone is getting feverish. There’s the obligatory package of articles in today’s L.A. Times, one examining how the costly device — if successful — might alter the course of history rivers time communications cellphones and the other giving tips on how to get your hands on one when they go on sale Friday.

My biking buddy Michael is my one real-world connection to the obsession. Last week he told me he’s been hoping and looking and praying to the technology gawds for this type of combo device for years and in true early-adopter fashion will most definitively and proudly be in the looooooong line at one of the area Apple stores with high designs for paying the $500-$600 required to secure version one point zero.

A fine and mostly sane fellow he’s well aware that barring its catastrophic failure in eight or nine months or so, the iPhone’s second incarnation will debut with greater storage and a lesser price, but he’s waited far too long to wait anymore. Besides, he can afford not to.

Even if I had the money burning an iHole in my pocket (or the lack of conscience that would allow me to pay via plastic), I won’t do it. I doubt if I’ll go there even when v2.0 drops. Maybe, just maaaaaybe, I’ll order one of the second generation that’s been deeply discounted just as the third are being released.

That’s how I’ve rolled in the past. I’m one of those let-’em-work-the-kinks-out bastards Apple is forced to begrudgingly accept but you know behind closed doors up in Cupertino Steve Jobs thinks I’m part of the muzzafuzzin’ problem, not the solution. Practically every Mac item I’ve ever bought has been done so with patience. My current Mac desktop I bought a little more than a year ago just as the new ones with the Intel chips came out and only then because my five-year-old eMac started sad-Mac’ing me with far too much regularity. My first iPod was a price-slashed first-gen model. In fact, the only Apple item I bought fresh off the assembly line was my current iPod shuffle in large part because I could readily stomach the undie-hundie pricetag.

But even more than the money required for the iPhone, the main reason I’d abstain is that unlike Michael I haven’t been waiting for years for such a device. My cell usage is pretty much relegated to a random text message to Twitter, uploading the rare phonecam snapshot to Flickr, the occasional “where you at” call to/from a biking buddy, or perhaps an inbound contact from a prospective employer. That is correct: I have no life. And I think even if I did have one I wouldn’t even begin to exploit the iPhone’s capabilities. Let’s put it this way; whenever I see ads for mobile devices that tout their capabilites as MP3 players (silly “Music Hunter” anyone?) my thoughts run along the lines of “Why the hell would I want to drain my phone’s power down playing the new [insert stupid band name here] song.

Having said all that, whenever it is the next time I see Michael with his new iPhone I will have to keep my mouth shut as he shows it off so as to best prevent myself from drooling all over it.

There’s A Reason It’s Called Viral…

Monday, June 25th, 2007

I credit/blame Julia for pointing me from her blog to the “Dramatic Chimpmunk” clip (beside-the-point point of zoological order: it’s a prairie dog, not a chimpmunk) that’s been making the rounds and rounds on the internut and being watched in numerous variations on YouTube by millions.

I have only but myself to blame for contributing to and perpetuating the madness with my own version titled

When A Coyote Calls

Sorry.

A Word About Bink

Monday, June 25th, 2007

Has it been since mid-April that I last wrote about our Bink and the health troubles that originally manifested February and led to the discovery of his unrelated shrapnel wound in March? Time man, jeez: zoom!

Anyway,  I’m long overdue with a status report and it’s all good thanks to our trust in his toughness and to Susan’s extended dedication in syringe feeding him for such an extended period of time.

bink0607.jpg


While he still quarters himself in the bedroom and has none of his past desire for the other rooms much less the outdoors, he’s back to being his brighter, bigger-eyed and better-groomed (and semi-cantankerous) self, fully eating  breakfast and dinner on his own, and and has been getting some of his strength back as well as some weight, too. Yesterday Susan even spied him boogeying down a bit on some catnip that wound up on the bedroom rug.