Archive for category Oddities

Obfuscated Signage

Spotted in an arboretum:

Not for Public Admittence into the Area
Not for Public Admittence into the Area

How about good old “Keep Out”?

I’m not sure what the “do not touch” icon is supposed to mean, other than a lack of “no entry” icons.

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Tire FOD

We rented a van to haul our bikes on a vacation trip, but the tire pressure warning alarm sounded when I turned into the driveway. Measuring the tire pressures showed the left rear tire was at 51 psi, far below the 72 psi shown on the doorframe sticker, and a quick check showed a possible problem:

Tire FOD - in place
Tire FOD – in place

The small circle in the tread to the left of that mark turned out to be a metal tube:

Tire FOD object
Tire FOD object

Their tire contractor determined the tire wasn’t leaking, the metal tube hadn’t punctured the carcass, and all was right with the world. After, of course, two hours when we expected to be loading the van.

The rental company was good about it, perhaps because I reported they sent the van out with the other rear tire grossly overinflated to 86 psi (!); obviously, their prep didn’t include checking the tires. Somewhat to my surprise, the space under the passenger seat for a jack was empty.

During the trip, the van laid an egg:

Transit Van with Egg
Transit Van with Egg

A good time was had by all, but our next bicycling vacation will definitely have much more bicycling and much less driving!

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Chipmunk Fatality

This chipmunk didn’t die in bed, either:

Chipmunk - tail segment - side
Chipmunk – tail segment – side

Similar to the previous example, one of the hawks surely dismantled the tail to get at the good parts, although we haven’t seen any gibbage.

Looking into the end, you can see where the next segment would attach:

Chipmunk - tail segment - end
Chipmunk – tail segment – end

Somewhere nearby, there’s a recently vacated nest with a pantry full of carefully chosen seeds and nuts, just waiting for another critter to move in …

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Vole Fatality

Voles apparently live only a few months, so this one may have run out of gas while crossing the driveway:

Vole - dead on driveway
Vole – dead on driveway

Or it just caught a heart attack?

It definitely wasn’t playing possum; nobody can lie still with ants up their nose.

It had vanished when we returned from our afternoon ride, so somebody further up the food chain also noticed it. As my buddy dBm puts it, “In Nature, nothing goes to waste.”

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Monthly Science: Concrete Bridge Flexing

Riding south on Rt 376 takes us across the Mighty Wappinger Creek on a four-lane concrete bridge built about 1995. This Dutchess County Aerial Access photo shows it in 2016:

Rt 376 - Wappinger Bridge - 2016 overhead
Rt 376 – Wappinger Bridge – 2016 overhead

A pothole opened up on the south end of the span last year:

Rt 376 bridge deterioration - marker 1102 - 2018-05-07
Rt 376 bridge deterioration – marker 1102 – 2018-05-07

NYS DOT patched it a while ago:

Rt 376 - Wapp Bridge - 2019-09-11 - 0490
Rt 376 – Wapp Bridge – 2019-09-11 – 0490

This year, we’ve been avoiding a new pothole opening on the north end:

Rt 376 - Wapp Bridge - 2019-09-11 - 0295
Rt 376 – Wapp Bridge – 2019-09-11 – 0295

It’s difficult to ride between the right side of the hole and the weeds growing from the curb joint under the guide rail, so we take the lane whenever we can. The extensive vegetation growing in the bridge structure can’t possibly be a good thing.

The bridge deck rests on steel beams across the creek, with plenty of corroded concrete along the edge:

Red Oaks Mill bridge - dangling concrete
Red Oaks Mill bridge – dangling concrete

The concrete seems to be failing by tension overload as the beams flex downward under traffic loading and pull the top surface apart. The surface has irregular transverse cracks across the deck width, not all of which look like control joints.

With potholes and surrounding cracks allowing brine into the deck, we expect much worse deterioration during the next few years.

My Professional Engineer license has long lapsed, not that I ever knew anything about bridge design, so this is mostly observational.

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Praying Mantis vs. Bumblebee

The Butterfly Bush outside the living room continues to attract flying insects, but, with the arrival of this year’s bumper crop of Praying Mantises, it has become something of a killing field.

If I hadn’t seen this, I wouldn’t have believed it:

Mantis vs Bumblebee - grapple
Mantis vs Bumblebee – grapple

Perhaps grabbing the bumblebee at the tip of the abdomen neutralizes the sting, but I only saw the flash of motion, not the actual capture.

The mantis changed her (?) grip several times while removing various accessories:

Mantis vs Bumblebee - disassembly
Mantis vs Bumblebee – disassembly

Although a bee’s leg may not seem edible, she chewed through them like Pocky.

Minus most of the bits and pieces, serious eating commenced:

Mantis vs Bumblebee - lunch
Mantis vs Bumblebee – lunch

Having watched several insects go through this process, the mantis proceeds from the head downward, eventually squeezing the abdomen like a tube of toothpaste.

A mantis can eat a bumblebee in about twenty minutes, from capture to discarding the empty husk. After a few minutes of body maintenance, ranging from leg cleaning to eye scraping, she begins waiting for the next meal to arrive …

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Funnel Weaver Spider Season

Two Funnel Weaver spiders spun their webs across diagonal corners of the garden tool rack and appear to be peacefully sharing the bounty attracted by nearby lights.

The one on the left vanishes instantly into its funnel, deep inside the corner post, nearly every time we step onto the patio:

Funnel Weaver spider - tool rack left
Funnel Weaver spider – tool rack left

The other spider worked around a stick emerging from its refuge:

Funnel Weaver spider - tool rack right
Funnel Weaver spider – tool rack right

But it’s doing all right:

Funnel Weaver spider - tool rack right - detail
Funnel Weaver spider – tool rack right – detail

Their less adventurous compadres build webs on the plaintains festooning what might be called our lawn, making me feel awful while mowing in these months. I hope the mower’s vibrations drive them deep into the grass before it roars overhead, but I’ll never know.

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