Dealing with Pumpkin Vandals


In Alaska, the pumpkin vandals were large and mostly impossible to deal with. If a specimen of Alces alces americanus – moose, the largest member of the deer family – acquired a taste for the largest member of the squash family, there wasn’t much you could do. When we relocated to Idaho in 2015, we…

Happy Bat Appreciation Month


October is Bat Appreciation Month, so WC is here with a selection of the other flying vertebrates. There are at least 1,400 species of bats world wide, filling a number of ecological niches, almost all of them nocturnal. Photographing them is a real challenge. But here’s a sampler. At higher altitudes, where it cools down…

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…

Four One Time


At the insistence of a reader, WC visited some of the archived QAnon sites recently. WC did so with his browser in Private Mode, and his personal IP Address blocked from prying eyes, because you just never know. After a while, the claims of Q started to make a weird kind of sense. For example,…

Say It With Kilowatts


Holiday decorations are nice, a spot of color in a mostly monochromatic winter. But like most aspects of Christmas, they are a strange mix of the very odd, sharply contrasting parts of American culture. It the mostly crassly commercial, most intensively consumeristic of our holidays. Yet it is a holy day. It’s a day celebrating…

Native American Heritage Day: The Pribilof Islanders


Today is Native American Heritage Day, a Congress-created memorial day since 2008. Setting it on Black Friday was either oversight, cynicism or expediency, you choose. To acknowledge this year’s Native American Heritage Day, WC wants to report briefly on the history of the Pribilof Island people, the Unangax̂. The Pribilof Islands, “discovered” by an employee…

Lives of Quiet Desperation


WC can’t complain. Since law school, it’s been an indoor job, out of the weather, with pretty good pay. WC has been lucky in many ways. Not everyone is so fortunate. America has an underclass, folks trapped in a cycle of misery. People who are trapped working two jobs, both mind-numbingly boring, and still barely…

Harrison Avenue Hallowe’en, 2021 Edition


There is a tradition in Boise of a pretty much over the top Hallowe’en along Harrison Boulevard in the North End. In normal years, the road is closed to accommodate the crowds of trick or treaters and folks looking at the yard decorations. The pandemic pretty much shut the event down last year. For 2021,…

Happy Alaska Day!


Alaska boasts two holidays unique to the 49th state. This is one of them: Alaska Day, commemorating the date that Russia formally turned Russian Alaska over to the United States. The $7.2 million sale had closed on March 30, 1867, when the United States purchased Alaska from the Russian Empire for the sum of $7.2 million. The treaty accomplishing the…

Walt Kelly's 1971 Earth Day Poster

Earth Day, 2021


WC understands that Earth Day is supposed to be aspirational, that we should be positive, focused on making the environment better. WC has been mostly focused on that task his entire adult life. As a board member of Alaska Conservation Foundation and now Idaho Conservation League, WC has invested a lot of time, money and…

Happy New Year, Everyone!


Yes, the photo is from two years ago. Yes, there are telephone lines crossing the photo. Yes, a New Year deserves better. But 2020 is done, most of us have have survived, and in less than three weeks Trump will be behind us. Not the consequences of Trump; we’ll be living with that for a…

Merry Christmas, Everyone


The chokecherry tree in this photo is gone now. Heck, we’re gone now. But likely the Ruffed Grouse are still around. 2020 is mostly gone now. It hasn’t been a happy year. But Christmas is still around, a time of joy, maybe a little peace, maybe a promise of a better new year. WC hopes…

Not a Creature Was Stirring…


‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the houseNot a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there… Many of Americans’ ideas about Santa Claus and Christmas Eve trace to “A Visit from Santa Claus,” also known as “The…

Hallowe’en on Harrison: 2020 Edition


Hallowe’en is usually a huge deal in the North End of Boise. Harrison Boulevard, the main road, is closed and entire battalions of trick-or-treaters do their thing among the wonderfully decorated houses. But not this year. Harrison Boulevard homeowners have chosen to avoid being a superspreader event, and will not be handing out candy. Still,…

"A signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property"

4th of July 2020


It’s not disrespect for the flag. It’s expressly permitted by federal law. 36 U.S.C. §176(a): “The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.” If you do not think the country is in dire distress, you haven’t been…

Rockhopper Penguin couple, New Island, Falkland Islands

Valentine’s Day — Say It with Penguins.


  Valentine’s Day is a mostly commercial affair; candy, cards and flowers. But the first known link between the Catholic saint and romance comes from is in Parlement of Foules (1382) by Geoffrey Chaucer: “For this was on seynt Volantynys day Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make”. [“For this was on St.…