Archive for category Oddities
Spotted in an arboretum:
How about good old “Keep Out”?
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:
The small circle in the tread to the left of that mark turned out to be a metal tube:
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:
A good time was had by all, but our next bicycling vacation will definitely have much more bicycling and much less driving!
Looking into the end, you can see where the next segment would attach:
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 …
Voles apparently live only a few months, so this one may have run out of gas while crossing the 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.”
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:
A pothole opened up on the south end of the span last year:
NYS DOT patched it a while ago:
This year, we’ve been avoiding a new pothole opening on the north end:
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:
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.
If I hadn’t seen this, I wouldn’t have believed it:
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:
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:
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 …
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:
The other spider worked around a stick emerging from its refuge:
But it’s doing all right:
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.