- Matthew Jordan (perhaps) explains why I love/d Rollerball so much.
- There’s a ha-ha in Fairfax County. Fairfax Master Naturalist Jerry Nissley visits River Farm.
- See Rosslyn’s gas station-church combo before it’s redeveloped.
- We could have used one of these robots when director Lee was attending rehearsals remotely: Lisa Sniderman collaborates with Open Circle Theatre.
- Thomas Wolf wants to see hard numbers on the Potomac Yard arena boondoggle.
Shame on any legislator who would vote to advance this proposal on such incompetent evidence.
- Restoring Joshua trees in designated wilderness with some camelid assistance.
- Rebecca Baumgartner turns a gimlet eye on landfill nonfiction.
(I also have to wonder how many of the conclusions from these endlessly recycled studies are even valid, given the replicability crisis in psychology and other fields. If the Gorilla Experiment turns out not to have been valid this whole time, then I am even angrier about having to read about it 4,000 times.)
- Bilirubin reductase is the enzyme responsible for making your pee yellow.
- Progress was made in 2023 on six neglected tropical diseases. (Hey, former colleagues, a little copy edit love is needed.)
- Bad day from black rock: Casey Ruken tells the story of the Chesapeake Bay asteroid.
It was as if Earth got shot with a bullet.
- Perhaps I should give Appropriate another look. Jesse Green did.
Documenting and celebrating Dark Star Park Day in Rosslyn.
- It’s about damn time: Fairfax “County will officially rename L** and L**-J*cks*n Memorial highways next month.”
- Jacob Fenston on the current moderate drought condition in the DMV.
- Team develops autonomous robot to stave off spotted lanternflies. I wish that phys.org didn’t have to finance itself with skeevy ads.
- Benj Edwards bought an encyclopedia that doesn’t require Wi-Fi or USB.
- Adverse effects on South American farmers of pesticides used on coffee grown in the sun: “skin disorders, respiratory problems, to high blood pressure, organ damage, cancer and cardiovascular disease.” Elsewhere, In Hawaiʻi, trials are underway to control Coffee Berry Borer with a parasitic wasp, Phymastichus coffea.
- Tasty. Might tempt me back to eating beef: Rachel Leah Blumenthal discloses “The Mysterious Origins of Steak Tips, a Uniquely New England Dish.”
- Missy Dunaway paints the birds of Shakespeare, including the unloved Eurasian Starling (Sturnus vulgaris). She explains Hotspur’s joke, and pulls in Fugate and Miller’s debunking of the Central Park urban legend.
- Grace Abels asks, “Can ChatGPT fact-check?” “While sometimes reaching accurate conclusions, ChatGPT struggled to give consistent answers, and sometimes was just plain wrong.”
- Beautiful small pleasures, One: Tap dancing in the New York subway. “The notes that you’re not playing also have just as much importance as the notes you do play.”
- Beautiful, small pleasures, Two: David Greer tastes a wild strawberry. Epicureans vs. Stoics. 3QD has a problem with crapola ads, too.
- He may pass on before we get to zero, but Jimmy Carter. Made. This. Happen. Guinea worm: A nasty parasite is nearly eradicated, but the push for zero cases will require patience, by Kimberly Paul.
- This project can’t move fast enough. The W&OD’s crossing of Wiehle Avenue is bananas dangerous. Groundbreaking of new bridge over Wiehle Avenue set for next month, by Fatimah Waseem.
- So that’s why I’m not a White House-advising economist with five textbooks published. Utahraptor: “Nah, every time I [have regrets] an alternate timeline version of my self parachutes in and beats me up.”
Here’s a roundup, somewhat Northern Virginia-inflected, of some organizations that run field trips in the mid-Atlantic.
Nature Forward is our standard-bearer. Workshops and camps for kiddos and families, walks focused on birds/geology/botany/etc., CEU-credited courses in lichens/spring wildflowers/conservation history/etc., overseas travel—something for everyone at nearly every level of expertise. NF is also an important advocate for protection of natural areas in the DC metro.
Some outfits mostly interested in birds:
- Audubon Society of Northern Virginia and DC Audubon Society* are chapters of the National Audubon Society, and there are several chapters in Maryland.*
- Northern Virginia Bird Club’s name tells you what they’re about. In addition to maintaining a calendar of field trips and directory of Christmas Bird Counts, NVBC holds regularly scheduled meetings.
Are you ready for some botany?
- Virginia Native Plant Society is organized into regional chapters. Our local chapter, the largest in the commonwealth, is the Potowmack chapter. Farther outside the Beltway, check out the Prince William Wildflower Society and the Piedmont chapter.
- Maryland Native Plant Society also has a chapter for DC.
Maybe something a little more niche is your interest.
- The Mycological Association of Washington, D.C.,* for fungi enthusiasts, has been recommended to me. Hey, I just joined up!
Or you’re looking for something more fast-paced than the naturalist’s shuffle.
- Some time back, I did one or two hikes with DC Metropolitan Hikers, a Meetup group. And Capital Hiking Club has made the transition from paper newsletters and phone trees to the electronic age.
- Wanderbirds Hiking Club hikes were too fast for me, even when I was young and in good shape.
The Washington metro is a mosaic of publicly-accessible, natural areas under several different jurisdictions. Check out individual parks and recreational areas for scheduled workshops, camps, and events.
- Parks and trails managed by the National Park Service (in Maryland, the District, and Virginia) are more than just Rock Creek Park and Shenandoah National Park.
- The District’s Department of Parks and Recreation manages hundreds of parks.
- Outside DC, parks managed at the county level include those in Arlington County, Fairfax County (including Huntley Meadows Park, which the Mason & Bailey Club visited), and Montgomery County (including Rachel Carson Conservation Park, also visited by the Club).
- Prince George’s County parks fall under the regional Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC).
- The well-loved hike-bike-commute Washington and Old Dominion Trail is part of the regional Nova Parks.
- Zooming out again, consider state parks in Maryland and Virginia. Virginia has gamified visiting as many state parks as you can. I’m working on my 10-park badge.
- And don’t forget privately-held, but open to the public, sites like The Nature Conservancy’s Fraser Preserve and Stronghold’s Sugarloaf Mountain.
*I know these organizations only by referral/search, not by firsthand field trip experience.
…on some [signs] the apostrophe seemed to float above the S, like the tongue of flame you see on a Renaissance painting of an apostle being visited by the Holy Spirit.
Fun fact from Virginia: A Guide to the Old Dominion, compiled by workers of the Writers’ Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Virginia: Virginia, as of the 1903s, was the leading producer of titanium in the country (p. 110). And apparently it still is, along with Nevada and Utah, although most titanium is now imported.
A couple of theater-connected stories:
- Muriel Zagha reports on the restoration of Marie Antoinette’s theater in the Petit Trianon complex: the carvings and statues were true stagecraft, made of papier-maché and wood.
- Emily Robinson describes how D.C.’s Shakespeare Theatre moved from Capitol Hill to 7th Street. (Back before the move, I studied with Mikel Lambert in a classroom across East Capitol Street from the Folger.)
Bruce Peterjohn bands a female Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus) at Annandale’s Green Spring Gardens. John Kelly takes notes.
“She weighs 3.4 grams,” Bruce said. “That’s an eighth of an ounce. You could mail eight hummingbirds with one first-class stamp. Of course, getting eight hummingbirds in an envelope could be difficult.”
ICYMI (I did): Audubon Naturalist Society volunteers walk the White-tailed Deer population off the property.
To the naked and cold eye, the sight looked roughly like the Union Army lining up at Gettysburg, minus the firearms.
John Kelly explains that mysterious Marilyn mural in Woodley Park.
Last sighting for this season of a neighborhood Gray Catbird attacking its reflection in my patio door: 5 August 2018.
It’s been a while since I watched broadcast TV that featured ads from local meatpackers, so I missed the passing (I don’t follow the AP style book) of Nathan Mash in 1998. Something I read or heard reminded me of his customary spiel, which was two parts talking about ham curing and one part cryptic crossword puzzle setting, so I looked up his obit.