Happy New Year! One of the last things we did as a family last year was take a road trip with the cats. This was the first time we took both cats in the car and it was quite an adventure.
Posts Tagged ‘animals’
This weekend, I participated in the 15th Adobe Analytics Challenge. My team, DataInsights, was one of six finalists chosen to be flown out to Lehi, Utah (Adobe’s headquarters) and it was quite a ride! USC Marshall had two teams going and we all decided to extend our stay to enjoy Utah after the competition.
This was my first case competition, so I have nothing to compare it to, but I must say that it would be hard to top. I mean, $50,000 worth of cash prizes, free trips to Utah, a fancy meal, all that swag, and a chance to check out Adobe’s headquarters? It was fabulous and I’m glad I was part of it. I hope to come back next year to support more Marshall teams that make it to the finals!!
Last year, Panda and I took advantage of National Park Week’s fee free days to get into Shenandoah National Park for free. We spent the whole day driving along Skyline Drive from south to north and enjoyed various views as well as some wildlife. We got a chance to get super close to some deer while up there!
Panda and I were going to do a trip to Nashville last weekend, but due to the weather we thought better of it and ended up staying more local. One of the things he found nearby is a fun little farm! I’d driven past it on the way to work before (and wondered about it), but I had no idea it’s part of a park and free to the public. Nor did I know there were so many cool animals waiting to be visited.
We went on a freezing cold day. I totally underdressed, so I was quite cold and we didn’t stay long. However, we still managed to see horses, cows, sheep, pigs, and rabbits! Next time we’ll have to go when it’s a little less brisk so we can stroll around more and check out the general store too.
I’ve been playing with a variety of crabs of late and it’s fascinating. They’re rather smart creatures and I can almost swear they understand me. I’ve definitely stared into the eyes of some and felt like they could communicate with me. Maybe that’s just how their eyes look, but if you’ve ever tried to stare down a crab you might know what I mean. Sometimes their cunning is shocking. I’ve had them figure out how to climb up and out of cups, planning their escape. I’ve had them (somewhat) calmly crawl on me and learn that I’ll keep picking them up every time they try to leave. I’ve even had them working in teams to try to reach higher out of their temporary home in my cup.
It all started with some hermit crabs. It was the first day I got to go to the beach by the hotel (Turtle Bay Resort). I went wandering and eventually found a way to get to the beach I’d seen from the breakfast table. At first it was just tons and tons of snails on the rocks. I picked a bunch and was just enjoying the day playing around in the water with them when I noticed much faster movement. It was a hermit crab scuttling by! Once I knew what to look for, it was game over. I spotted so many that I had caught at least 30-something and there was no room in my cup. So I started to take pictures and release them. After all, what I really want are some close-up images of these cool creatures.
The next day, I went to the other side of the resort to check out what else I could find. It turned out to be a gold mine for other crabs. The land ones move far too fast to ever be caught, but the water ones have a tendency to hide and blend with the rocks. Since these rock formations have plenty of pools, it provided an easy microcosm to focus on. I was determined to get a “normal” crab (the kind that walks side to side). I succeeded with that eventually and got a crab that was almost too big for my cup! Now my goal is to get one of those burrowing crabs, which are a lot harder since they’ve got plenty of open beach to run across and even more sand they can dig below to escape.
So, how to train a crab:
1. Figure out where they hang out and go sit/squat nearby.
2. Stay still and watch for a bit. Look for an area they’re hiding where it’s enclosed enough for you to chase it.
3. Choose one that isn’t too large (no bigger than your pinky is probably best) and use a clear cup to get close to it. If we’re talking hermit crabs then just pick them up.
4. It takes a bit of back and forth to trick them into running into the cup area or falling into it as they scurry around. Just be careful and use one hand to guide them towards the cup.
5. Once caught, make sure you provide a decently comfortable environment, whether it’s just having enough sea water and not making it too warm or you need some rocks so the crab can sit out of the water too.
6. Keep it in the cup for awhile. Let it calm down and get used to this strange new environment.
7. After the crab is no longer desperately attempting to crawl out of the cup, you can stick your hand in and see if it’ll let you brush it. Move your finger around to guide it where you want to (that’s how I taught a crab that it actually could climb up the cup – of course then it wouldn’t stop climbing up the wall after that).
8. Before you know it, the crab will be totally fine with you touching it and might even crawl around on you! Beware, it’s definitely trying to escape though. If you’re good you’ll get some moments of peace where you can actually stare into its eyes, make that eye contact, and ponder its thoughts.
This morning, I received a picture from Panda after he had left for work. It seemed like we had a snail chillin’ on our front door. I figured it was probably out after the rain last night, but then I found out what it really was… take a look for yourself here:
Well, turns out it was a wasp nest. This black, red, and yellow wasp was happily working away at its nest, not even caring that I was sticking a camera in its face. I didn’t have time to deal with it before going to work, so we just left it.
In the evening, Panda and I decided to take down the nest before that wasp got too comfortable and produced offspring or attracted other pests. I got a bag to capture it in and set to work. We tried spraying it a bit to scare it off, but that just seemed to get its wings wet and make it stay in place. We tried sticking a yard stick through the door cracked slightly open to shoo it off, but it just climbed on the yard stick! I then got gloves and put a plastic bag around it. The first attempt was awful and I did not capture it. Luckily, it wasn’t upset with me and just went back to its home. I had Panda bring me a chair to give me better leverage. This time we got it stuck in the plastic baggie and I managed to tear off the nest. I zipped it all up and cleaned off the residue on our door frame. I then took the wasp to the porch and opened the bag partway so it could find its way out. At first it flew to our railing and took a break, but eventually it moved on. I hope it doesn’t return! We’ll have to keep a close eye on our doors now.
It was one of Panda’s coworker’s send-offs today, so we got a chance to go out to the farm of another coworker. Panda refers to it as the donkey farm, probably because the donkey is their unofficial mascot. Everyone had heard about momma donkey (Morning Glory) having baby donkey (Melvin), so Melvin became their mascot of sorts. They hadn’t actually met him yet, and I ended up being the first one to interact with him on the farm! I never knew that these mini donkeys made good companions for horses; that was the whole reason they are kept on the farm, in fact.
Now that Smokey’s been with us for over two weeks, she’s really settling into things and taking over the home in her adorable way. I’ve taken to calling her “little girl” when Smokey or Smokey Bear doesn’t feel right. Take a look at her all around the house…
Ah, what a good life! When she first arrived she couldn’t seem to truly let go and rest, but now she sleeps so soundly. 🙂 It’s great having some liveliness around here!
Whenever spring rolls around, I always look out for the emergence of birds. Last year they were everywhere! I’m finally starting to hear them again as the weather warms up. It’s supposed to get over 80 tomorrow!