Sean Wyer unpacks a word that has always puzzled me: naff.

Nonetheless, not all naff old things are made naff by the passing of time. Clippy, the Microsoft Office paperclip, appears anachronistic now, but was in fact always naff, because to my knowledge he never succeeded in carrying out his one job, which was to help you in any way to write a letter.

Although I’m not sure I agree about snow globes.

At the park: 114

Sunday’s report on the ducks and mergs:

Three more nests have started, clutches are building in two, and two nests are incubating.

We checked the new box #3, and as Dave predicted, the hinge placement of the door is problematic. Kat and Chris have some scrap screen material; we will try to modify the box so that the nest stays in place when the door is opened.

Visitation is definitely up: when we left at 10:15, cars were parked along the entrance road nearly back to Lockheed Blvd.

Until next week!


If you live in the mid-Atlantic, you’ve probably heard that Brood X is about to join us after its 17-year nap. Some links to prepare you:

Some links: 88

A couple of theater-connected stories:

At the park: 113

From the report for Sunday:

We see nesting activity in four of our boxes, and a Wood Duck pair was spotted in the vicinity of box #1. A Hooded Merganser has moved into box #68, adding eggs to what was probably a clutch from last year. Beavers might have ideas about building a dam next to this box.

Box #3 is on Dave’s punchlist to replace.

Aloft, we saw an Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) and two Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), an immature and a somewhat scruffy adult.

We’ll work the remaining two weeks in March, then start skipping weeks. So our first day in April will be 11 April, and we will check on folks’ availability for the rest of the month.


Assume, then, a prospect of chaos in the streets, joined by every group on the island with a grudge. This would include nearly everyone but the OAG and his staff. Doubtless each would think only of his immediate desires. But mob violence, like tourism, is a kind of communion. By its special magic a large number of lonely souls, however heterogeneous, can share the common property of opposition to what is. And like an epidemic or earthquake the politics of the street can overtake even the most stable-appearing of governments; like death it cuts through and gathers in all ranks of society.

—Thomas Pynchon, V. (1963), epilogue, “1919,” I

At the park: 112

We have resumed nest box monitoring at Huntley Meadows Park (following precautions and adhering to protocol, of course). From today’s report:

And so the season begins.

Kat reported new nests for 2021, both Hooded Merganser, including incubation in box #7. We cleaned out boxes that hadn’t been cleaned since 22 April 2020. It’s possible that we have had hatches in 6 boxes since that April visit.

We will bring some oil for the carabiner on box #62.

Box #3 in the new pool by the observation tower needs replacement: it is missing its top and its bottom. #3 is the one a little farther from the tower….

We spotted a Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) perched up on a snag along Barnyard Run.