Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Great Ski Season Starting to Fade?

The early snow in Idaho helped me to build a strong skiing base for the cross country ski race season. By the end of January, I have tied my maximum number of days skied for this point of time, but my total kilometers skied is a new record. I feel like I have a pretty good base going into this weekend's Boulder Mountain Tour (32km ski race with about 1000 people). I hope that I'm not over trained for it.

Unfortunately, this January is the second driest on record for Idaho. Our local ski area is starting to suffer from the lack of snow. If we don't get some soon, this great fitness base will be wasted.
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Thursday, January 25, 2007

International Wildlife Film Festival

Today was the first day of the International Wildlife Film Festival's visit to Boise, Idaho. The visit coincides with Bald Eagle Days. For the next few days there will be showings at The Flicks. The schedule for the next few days is here.
Today Karyn and I attended the 2 hour showing of a number of short films. They were all enjoyable and diverse. It started with a humorous clay animation film of one individuals natural war against termites eating his home. Then there was the documentary of the giant leach. Wow, it was huge and ate earth worms whole. One film covered a wildlife study in Montana trying to reduce collisions between cars and wildlife. The last segment detailed how snails, crabs, millipeeds, etc evolved out of the oceans and onto the land. The footage was extraordinary. It was definitely worth the trip. We plan to catch tomorrows showing as well.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Boise Bus Blog

As a long time passenger on the Boise bus system, amoung others around the country, and a strong supported of public transportation, I like to see new people getting on the bus. In December a local blogger of Red State Rebels started a new blog about her experiences with the Boise bus system - Boise Bus Blog. You can read the initial post on her motivations here - Welcome to the Boise Bus Blog.
I have often believed that buses are intimidating to new passengers. The routes are generally confusing, schedules complex, and there are rules that you must understand to be successful (for example, in Boise you must stand on the near corner of an intersection to get picked up, unless there are turn lanes,...). I believe the author of the Boise bus blog has a perspective that I use when I travel to other cities. I challenge myself to figure out the rules and make it work. Thus, there is a mild thrill when it all works out (yes, I am easily amused). In almost all cases, it works out better than I expected it would. The bottom line is that it is not as hard as it seems when you start and most riders are more than willing to help you out. If you have been considering public transportion, give it a try. You might be pleasently surprised. You might also have stories to tell.
Boise bus blog welcomes your comments as well, join in.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Boise River Birdwatching

Great day birdwatching along the river today. 23 species. Here are the best of the photos.
 
 
 

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Always take your camera along

(click photos to enlarge)

On Saturday I traveled to Tamarack resort for a cross country ski race. I was somewhat reluctant as the temperature at start time the day before was hovering around 10 degrees below zero (F). Through peer pressure and not wanting to be a wimp, I decided to go anyway. The low temperature over night was 14 degrees below zero. Just before leaving for the 2 hour drive to Tamarack, my wife and I decided to throw in the camera in case we saw some birds on the way home.

They delayed the race start for 30 minutes until the temperature reached 4 degrees below zero. Apparently this is the minimum temperature for the start. The race turned out well. I had a hard time for the first half as my heart rate was a little too high and I was having a hard time breathing in the low temperature. I settled down for the second half and started moving up through the field. I rallied enough to finish strong..

On the way home we stopped at one of the bridges crossing the Payette River, just below Cascade Dam. We watched Hooded and Common Mergansers, Canadian Geese, and Common Goldeneyes. We then spotted the pair of Barrow's Goldeneyes in the first photo on the left. The two were clearly showing their synchronized courtship behavior, somewhat difficult to catch with the camera. It was definitely something to watch. We then spied a Bald eagle flying over the river in the distance.

Another bird watcher showed up and informed us of 2 Rough Legged Hawks, just a short distance down a side road (Warm Lake Road). We decided to check it out. Within half a mile we found them perched on the power poles. Here is one of many photos we were able to catch.

Continuing home, we counted 7 more Bald Eagles along the Payette River (5 adults and 2 juveniles). All seven were in a 20 mile stretch between Banks and Horseshoe Bend. This stretch of highway doesn't offer much in the way of turnouts. We found one turnout directly across for an adult in a tree. When I stepped out to take a photo, I noticed a juvenile standing on the ice in the river. I captured many more photos as it flew down river, circled around, then came back to perch near the adult.

Quite a day of birdwatching, for not planning it. In total we spent less than an hour and took 120 photos. The important lesson of the day is to take your camera along.


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Idaho Wolf Myths and Facts

A group of conservation groups have put together a primer on the basic myths that continue to be propagated about wolves. For each myth they have presented the science and facts contradicting the myths. Have a read, and more importantly, share the link with others - Idaho Wolf Myths and Facts

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Charities

January brings our annual charity program at my place of work. We commit to the charities back in October, but the money is collected and paid out this month.  While we give to charities year round, this event is special because my company matches the donation up to a limit made during this annual program. A recent change in the program removed universities and schools for the charity list eligible for cash donation. The company will still match equipment donations for universities.

Our picks this year to receive our donations, plus my company match:

Defender's of Wildlife - Defenders tops the list as an organization that gets the job done.  When wolves were reintroduced to the west, Defenders offered to pay ranchers for loss of livestock due to wolves. They essentially put up their money as collateral on the reintroduction. This addressed the number one "expressed" concern over the reintroduction.  The program has been hugely successful.  Of course, everyone predicted they would go broke, which they have not.

The Idaho Foodbank - Idaho is the 4th hungriest state in the country, with over 14% of families in the state being considered "insecure" from a food perspective (USDA).  This includes 88,000 children. Enough said.

Planned Parenthood - With the nationwide push against any family planning other than abstinence, I feel compelled to fund planned parenthood for the services they provide and the advocacy they promote. I could rant on this one for awhile, but I will spare my readers.

Idaho Public Television - I view this as less of a charity and more about a service that I receive and value. We do not subscribe to cable or satellite TV.  Our favorite shows are all on IPTV. Thus, I feel that I should donate for the value we receive.

EarthShare - The remainder of our matched funds go to EarthShare.  EarthShare distributed funds to many different conservation and wildlife organizations (they also give to defenders of wildlife). By donating to EarthShare, we are able to impact a broad set of organizations with our similar values.

Other organizations that we tend to donate to through the year include our respective universities - Willamette and Boise State, the Yellowstone Institute, EarthWatch, KBSU (public radio), and more to the Foodbank, among others.

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