The Economist‘s recent leader in favor of a revised metric of economic well-being is rather refreshing, surprising. Among the steps that it recommends be taken to improve on the slavish following of GDP, the piece leads with improving the measurement of what is already measured. But then the editorial pushes into measuring quantities that have never been systematically considered before: income inequality, negative externalities (like pollution), depletion of natural capital, and perhaps most importantly, the role of unpaid services like homemaking and caregiving. There are still other aspects of welfare that should be accounted for (e.g, crime rates, time lost to long commutes), but if we were to formulate a new metric along the lines suggested, it would be a big step in the right direction,

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At the park: 84

From my most recent report on nesting activity:

12 of 16 boxes with nests, and one more with adults seen in the vicinity! As of 1 May, boxes #10 (Hooded Merganser), #6, #13, and #62 (Wood Duck) have hatched out, more or less in the usual proportions.

Birds noted on 10 April: Glossy Ibis, Eastern Phoebe, Eastern Kingbird. Birds noted on 24 April: Common Yellowthroat, Eastern Towhee, Red-eyed Vireo, Lesser Yellowlegs, Chimney Swift, Barn Swallow, Green Heron. On 24 April, Houstonia sp. was in bloom near the end of the berm. There is a Tree Swallow nest in the broken top of a maple, down along Barnyard Run, near the “helper log” that lies across the channel near box #61.

We’ll meet again this Sunday, 8 May. Let’s skip checking box #7.

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Oh, dear Fox, yes: Stop Saying ‘I Feel Like.’

This is what is most disturbing about “I feel like”: The phrase cripples our range of expression and flattens the complex role that emotions do play in our reasoning. It turns emotion into a cudgel that smashes the distinction—and even in our relativistic age, there remains a distinction—between evidence out in the world and internal sentiments known only to each of us.

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Jug Bay herps

Our first field trip for Rachel Gauza’s herps class took us to Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary in Anne Arundel County. Our host guides were Mel Fegler and Mike Quinlan. This is a popular natural place on the Coastal Plain, and rightly so. I heard my first Wood Thrushes of the year in the parking lot.

first one for meBut the focus today is amphibians and reptiles! In the morning, we worked several spots near the McCann Wetlands Center. Mike found an Eastern Wormsnake (Carphopis amoenus) under a coverboard in the meadow adjacent to the center.

woodydry nowMoving into the deciduous woods along the Middle and Forest Trails, we saw a nice selection of herp diversity: Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina), Wood Frog (Lithobates sylvaticus), American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus), Fowler’s Toad (A. fowleri), Marbled Salamander (Ambystoma opacum)—and one toad of doubtful status that I want to follow up with Rachel on.

in the cupnot JeremiahWe dropped down from the right of way of the railroad that once ran from Seat Pleasant to Chesapeake Beach into the floodplain of Two Run Branch to visit several seasonal (now dried) and persistent pools. Opportunities to see Marbled Salamander larvae, Eastern Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans), and a choice-sized American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus). Marbleds breed in the fall and the eggs overwinter, giving them a head start in develop come spring, so (as you can see), they’re already well along the way to becoming adults.

At lunch break, back at the center, I heard a Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra), and I think this is the first time that I’ve heard the call that Dick Walton’s tapes taught me so long ago as “piki-tucki-tuck.”

seasonalin the netIn the afternoon, Mel took us to a seasonal pool on the the Glendening Nature Preserve section of the sanctuary, the pool known locally as Barn Pool. We did some sweep netting through this pool, in a very rough approximation of the sampling protocol that Mel follows when she’s monitoring. The water levels were quite reduced, but there were many Marbled Salamander larvae to be netted.

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The Nether

The titular Nether of this dystopian play is an immersive cyberspace where anything imaginable—legal or otherwise—is possible. Its weakness is the condescending script: for some reason, the old saw that pornography leads technological advances is trotted out. A police detective, investigating improprieties in the Nether, has precisely one verb to play: to hector.

A cloudy plexiglas box encloses the set in early sequences, causing significant audibility problems for us in row E.

The dismal enterprise is lightened by Jared Mezzocchi’s dazzling projections and the performance of Maya Brettell as Iris, a fantasy avatar.

  • The Nether, by Jennifer Haley, directed by Shana Cooper, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Washington
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Enroute: 10

KATEOne of several encouragements spotted last week along the blacktop paths from my house to the Metro station: Kate has a running coach with a generous supply of sidewalk chalk.

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Some links: 76

ICYMI: Linda Poon reports on a genuinely useful application of new, whizzy 3-D printing technology: tactile maps for blind and visually impaired students.

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The Texas Rangers run themselves into a triple play for the record books. Benjamin Hoffman has the scoresheet.

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Get that bunting!

Erik Eckholm chases migrants in New York.

I haven’t driven across two states to see a rare bird, although when that badly lost, gloriously hued painted bunting showed up in Brooklyn in late November, I did make the eternal subway ride from the Upper West Side to the far side of Prospect Park to get a glance and a picture.

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Dogberry and Verges are in the wrong business

Geoffrey Pullum receives a solicitation of editing services.

The laugh point came when I reached this astonishingly unidiomatic statement:

On the receipt of a manuscript, we will make do to immediately send to you, the Manuscript Identification Number and the Manuscript Processing Fee, taking cognizance of the pages of the received manuscript, within one hour.

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Don’t go up that green ramp, #1115!

The first of Metro’s 1000-series cars is taken out of service, to live on a nice farm.

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Token ring

Peter Kaszczak remembers New York subway tokens.

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Some ink: 8

A generous notice from Susan Brall for DCMetroTheaterArts.

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Much Ado about Nothing: an update

We finished our last tech run tonight; tomorrow we see a preview audience. The show is snugging up nicely, and (I think) we are ready for an audience to bounce some funny off. Nick has been mixing Italian bird song (from Xeno-canto, per my recommendation) into the sound design; John’s set, with clay tile roof details and lots of hiding places for eavesdropping, looks great.

Harvey has posted pictures from last night’s run; here’s a cute one of me (Verges) looking for a gratuity from Lou (Leonato). My costume fits and looks good; I’m wearing new tights and a pair of beat-up Reeboks that, as far as I can remember, I last wore, on stage or otherwise, in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.

We’re still fine-tuning some business—the binding of Borachio is not quite as safe as we would like—and the timing of a couple entrances. Since Verges is one of the watchmen, any time the garden gate needs to be opened or closed, that ends up being my job.

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At the park: 83

Nest box team report for this morning:

WODU-HOME egg comparisonWe are up to 8 active nests, a couple of them with 1 or 2 Hooded Merganser eggs mixed in with Wood Duck eggs. I pulled together a couple of the images that Kat and Melina had provided last year for comparison of the eggs.

It looks like these boxes are complete clutches, now being incubated, so we can skip checking them next week: boxes #10, #6, #84, #13, #62. Actually, we never did get a good count for #6 (that’s the one where the male Wood Duck has been stationed on top of the box), as the hen there does not flush.

There was a bluebird box near duck boxes #2 and #4 that fell apart.

First Tree Swallows seen by the team were spotted over the wetland. There was a (migrant, supposedly) Ovenbird foraging at the edge of the parking lot at 8:30.

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