Marsquakes! For Science!


In principle, at least, the use of seismic – earthquake – waves to understand the interior of a planet is less complicated than it first seems. You’re probably familiar with bats’ use of echolocation to navigate the night skies: they emit high-pitched squeaks, and then use the reflections, the echoes, to navigate and find prey.…

What’s Wrong With America, Part 2


Several readers have asked WC what he thinks is at the heart of all the problems facing America. It’s more than one thing, of course. But with this post, WC continues a new, semi-regular series, using only photographs to illustrate the problem. WC cautions readers that some of these photos contain obscenities. But that’s part…

The Alvord “Desert”


It’s not a desert, although the area only gets about seven inches of precipitation a year, on average. It’s a playa, the dry bed of a former lake, and it’s about 8 miles wide and 70 miles long. The surface of the dry lake bottom is absolutely, unnervingly flat, and bare of any visible trace…

What’s Wrong With America, Part 1


Several readers have asked WC what he thinks is at the heart of all the problems facing America. It’s more than one thing, of course. But with this post, WC introduces a new, semi-regular series, using only photographs to illustrate the problem. When ignorance is held out as desirable, by persons in authority, yeah, it’s…

Salt Domes and High Island


A reader, in response to WC’s point that High Island is the result of a subterranean salt dome, asked what a “salt dome” was. It proved to be an irresistible opportunity for WC to geek out on geology. Imagine a salt pan, an area where salt is a major constituent of surface deposits. The Great…

Very, Very Vireo


Vireos, a family of songbirds distributed around the world, might be one of the families of birds least familiar to non-birders. Vireos don’t make it to Alaska; WC only had limited experience with this family of birds from trips to warmer climes before moving to Idaho. They aren’t as flashy as their warbler cousins, but…

Idaho Lt. Governor Janice McGeachin

An Open Letter to Janice McGeachin


Dear Lt. Governor McGeachin: The Idaho Statesman reports that at a campaign event on April 21, in response to a press inquiry about your botched and overdrawn Idaho Lt. Governor’s Office budget, you said, Honestly, who cares about $2,000 … in the lieutenant governor’s budget? I think more people in Idaho are concerned about their…

A Few New Warblers


WC was recently in Texas.1 The occasion was spring migration and, in this case, the migration is extraordinary. Small songbirds – in the case of the Warblers that are the focus of this post, weighing about a third of an ounce – fly non-stop from South America to the Gulf Coast, a distance of some…

Who Is “Tito” and Why Is He Harassing WC?


WC’s mailbox has been stuffed with messages from “Tito Dunleavy” lately, all asking for money, for WC to “sign” Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy’s birthday card, or seeking WC’s contact information for “important news.” Or sometimes all three. In the emails from “Tito,” there’s always a photo of the very small, curly-furred brown dog at the…

Miracles and Wonders: Mars Edition


There have been two recent images from the Mars Rover Perseverance and its amazing little helicopter companion, Ingenuity, that reminded WC that for all the faults and challenges of these modern times, we really do live in an age of miracles and wonders. The first was the images of one of Mars’ two tiny moonlets,…

The Rio Frio Bat Cave


WC suspects some readers are getting tired of birds. So today WC will switch to mammals. Specifically flying mammals: Mexican Free-tailed Bats. The cave itself is an unprepossessing hole in the ground, about 20 feet wide and perhaps six feet tall. It’s home to 10-12 million Mexican Free-tailed Bats, as well as a colony of…

Some Shorebirds are Even Harder


WC did a post on Thailand’s shorebirds a few weeks back, complaining that Shorebirds are Hard. Bad news, patient readers; these shorebirds are even harder. Here’s a selection from the Pak Thale region of Thailand, showing off a few of the reasons that area is world famous as a place to view shorebirds. No, that’s…

Earth Day 2022


The late Dave Carter wrote “The Gentle Arms of Eden” more than 20 years ago. Carter died much too young, in 2002, just 49 years old, in the arms of his partner and collaborator, Tracy Grammer. Grammer and Jim Henry live-streamed a memorial concert featuring Carter’s songs recently, and closed the two hour set with…

Sometimes Mikey Makes It Too Easy


In a testament to Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy’s incompetency, he has left WC on his email list even though (1) WC has not for six years now been registered to vote in Alaska, (2) WC has heartlessly mocked, dissected and ridiculed Mikey’s email messages and, (3) WC would eat broken glass on the Capitol steps…