Proposed screening

Our friend Lizzi writes:

Girl Rising

So I will start by confessing that this IS a mass email asking you to support a good cause, but please read because all I am really asking you to do is sign up to see a movie, and who doesn’t love movies? My roommate and I have undertaken to bring a beautiful new film, Girl Rising, to the Majestic Stadium movie theater in Silver Spring on Thursday April 25th at 7:30 pm, but we need your help.

The film was created by 10×10, a global campaign to educate and empower girls. Girl Rising tells the stories of 9 girls from around the world who face and overcome – unbelievable obstacles on the path toward getting an education. Each girl’s story is narrated by a cast of great actresses, including Meryl Streep, Kerry Washington, Anne Hathaway, Salma Hayek, and Alicia Keyes (among others)– and the cinematography is stunning. I am truly excited to be part of helping to get this film screened (an effort that is happening across the country) and to be involved in a global effort for girls’ education.

You can watch the trailer here (it’s worth it, I promise!)

The film will only be screened at the Majestic if at least 100 people sign up to see it. You can sign up to buy a ticket for the movie here (not to worry, you will only be charged for your ticket if we succeed in booking the screening). We need 100 people by April 11th in order for them to screen the film, so please don’t wait to sign up!

A portion of Girl Rising ticket sales will help fund programs for girls’ education around the world, so seeing the film literally makes an impact on girls’ lives. For a mere $10 you get a night out at the movies and the the lovely warm feeling of knowing you’re contributing to positive change in the world. (A steal, I’m sure we can all agree). So get a group together (a BIG group), tell ALL your friends (please!) and come see a beautiful movie and be part of something special.

At the park: 51

I finally got my recordkeeping caught up for the Wood Duck/Hooded Merganser nesting season. Heck, most of these birds are probably on their way to Florida and points south by now.

The birds made good use of the boxes this year, especially the two new ones that we installed in February. In 16 boxes, we had 12 nesting attempts, all of them successful. No dump nests: our largest clutch was a combined Wood Duck/Hooded Merganser nest with 18 eggs, of which 16 hatched.

The mergs continue to produce more than the woodies for the third year running. 70 HM eggs laid, 63 hatched; 57 WD eggs laid, 46 hatched. The count for the woodies is probably a little low, as we had one box where we never did get a complete egg count. The Wood Ducks made as many nests as the Hooded Mergansers (5 each, with 2 mixed), but their clutches were, on the average, smaller.

Wood Duck and Hooded Merganser trend chart

Calling all botany geeks

I invite you to participate in the development of a Q&A site for questions about botany. The site would be part of the successful Stack Exchange network, of which Stack Overflow is the flagship.

One of the features of a Stack Exchange site that makes it successful is the liberal awarding of brownie points to users who constructively participate in the site. Jeff Atwood and his team have figured out the alchemy that makes a community-managed site work.

At this point, the proposed Botany site is in the stage of soliciting sample questions. Follow the link below and add your own!

Stack Exchange Q&A site proposal: Botany

Update: The proposal for this Q&A site has been closed, alas.

At the park: 45

Some late-season nesting activity led to some late-season recordkeeping, so here we are in October with final results for the spring nesting season of Hooded Merganser and Wood Duck at Huntley Meadows Park.

Wood Duck and Hooded Merganser trend chart

We took five boxes down that had not seen nesting activity for five years or more.

This was another year that was not kind to the Wood Ducks, with a 5-year-low 37 ducklings fledged. We saw five mixed-clutch nests this year, out of a total thirteen clutches. Perhaps we are getting better at distinguishing the two species’ eggs.

Summary numbers: 51 hatched/76 laid Hooded Merganser, 37 hatched/82 laid Wood Duck. This year’s raw data worksheet and the 30-year historical summary are available.

Oh, please

One of the web’s minor annoyances are those ads from “people finder” web sites that pop up on Google’s search results page whenever there’s an iota of a chance that you are searching for someone by name. It matters not that the service has no information for you, the lame ad is still there looking at you.

From time to time I do a vanity search for Larry Shue to check that my little shrine to L.S. is still being indexed by Google the Stupendous. Recently these ads have been appearing. Dude, I already found Larry Shue, and he’s buried in Staunton, Virginia!

Around the corner

On a usual workday (that it, when there isn’t two feet of snow on the ground) I have a ten-minute walk from my Orange Line station to my client’s facility on Massachusetts Avenue, N.W. It’s a wedge-shaped merger of two buildings bounded by Mount Vernon Square and K Street. If the weather is bad, I can transfer to the Red Line to get to Gallery Place, and save myself some exposure to the wet, but most days are pleasant enough that the transfer isn’t worth the wait.

Google Maps draws the usual path I take, but since I need to make a diagonal across the grid, I actually have a variety of paths to choose from. And my usual strategy is to start walking north, past the sinister looking buildings that house the Voice of America, and past the doorman at the Marriott who is out in all weathers. When I get to an intersection, if the light is in my favor, I cross the street, and if it’s not, I turn (or cross in the other direction). This means that I don’t spend much time at all waiting for lights, and that I end up taking a few different paths over the course of the week. So sometimes I follow H Street all the way down to 7th; sometimes I cut across the frozen steppes of the parking lot on the old convention center site (don’t be fooled by the building outline on the Google Map). Returning in the evening, I follow the same strategy, so some days I’m just retracing my steps, and others I’m all the way down on G Street past the collection of colorful characters hanging out in front of the public library. Evenings I often see the wait staff at Bibiana seated in the dining room for a brief confab before the dinner rush—this is often the only spot where I have to wait for a light change.

There are just a couple of path segments I avoid. I find that morning crossings of 9th Street on the south side of the intersection (the downstream side, if you will) are extra dangerous: I’ve nearly been hit a couple of times by drivers zipping through a left turn into 9th. (Frankly, walking anywhere near Mount Vernon Square can be risky: I see drivers snapping off illegal rush hour left turns at 7th and Massachusetts nearly every day.) And there’s too much evening foot traffic on the blocks of 7th north of the Metro station, so I almost always slide around that.

If I feel like stopping at Starbucks on the way in, I have options: there are at least four within the 12th/New York/K/7th/G pentangle, including one in the brutish superblock of Techworld Plaza.

But the best part of my commute is the countdown walk signals at every corner. A signal that’s showing 20 seconds of green in the crossing direction, for instance, tells me I shouldn’t wait for the change, but should continue down the block. But if it’s only 3 or 4 seconds, I’ll wait. Something I’ve become more scrupulous about is not starting to cross once the red hand comes up. I have found that the D.C. signals are well-calibrated to intersection sizes, and if the hand is up, I need to move fast to get across before the change. The thing is, the street is full of drivers trying to squeeze their crossings in before the light changes, too. And if I’m running across and not watching out for them, I’m going to get pancaked one day.