Black spots on leaves

Today was the last day of mowing for the year, I’d guess – and while the grass was a little long, the mowing was mainly to mulch up leaves. I usually do this once a year just to get some leaf matter into the soil.

From this point on, it’s raking until the trees run bare.

As I was mowing today, I noticed some maple leaves – not from our maple, but I believe from the tree of our backyard neighbors – with black spots on them.

The more I looked, the more I found. I’m guessing this is either some sort of fungal infection or – possibly – an insect issue. The former is the most likely, but many of the black spots on the leaves appear to have a perforation at the center, so it could be emanating from an insect bite/larvae.

Not really a surprise, as the weather this past year has been decidedly un-foliage friendly: A mostly mild, low snow winter kept the water table down and didn’t allow plants to harden off properly; the summer was hot and very dry. Only now – in late September through October are we getting the water large trees, especially, need to thrive.

Stressed out trees are susceptible to various types of injuries, including pests and fungi.

Hope the neighbors’ tree is not permanently damages; a few years ago they had to take down a huge elm that completely changed their backyard (and gave us more light, which was good). Time will tell…

Bird on a wire

Bird on a wire

Like a bird on a wire,
Like a drunk in a midnight choir,
I have tried, in my way,
To be free

I took this picture of a Peregrine Falcon on the power lines in our backyard in May of this year, the connection to the Leonard Cohen song didn’t hit me until just now, when the song (“Bird on a Wire”) rolled through my iTunes.

The falcon is a frequent visitor here, as we have a very popular bird feeder that must – to a falcon – look like an Old Country Buffet.

Photo via iPhone and morphed via Camera Awesome (which I like better than Instagram, but I’ve always been a rebel…)

Here’s evidence of a kill by a falcon in the winter of 2007:

Falcon and pigeon

The peregrine – like all raptors – is a fierce-looking bird (check out the eyes), but what’s with the Big Bird yellow feet? What evolutionary advantage does that give this, or other, falcons/eagles? Always seemed weird to me.


(Just did some look-ups: What I’ve been calling/seeing as a Peregrine Falcon might just be a Cooper’s Hawk. Hmm…I just don’t know that much about such…)

Update: Long story short: After consultation with a raptor (hawks/eagles/falcons and such) expert, this appears to be a Cooper’s Hawk. Wow, I have to relabel a bunch of pics and so on…but I applaud the veracity call! Thanks to Lindsey and her dad.

In the the new, out with the old

Subtitle of this entry: An I just a Luddite or is the new only partly better than the old??

As the main pic shows, I finally broke down – correction, the CAR broke down – and so a new car was purchased. Second new car of my life; the first (bottom photos) lasted 15 years. Will this new one last the same amount of time/miles? I doubt it.

To be fair, the 97 Escort (the green machine, bottom) had a lot of work done on it outside of the scope that I’d consider normal wear and tear. Brakes a couple of times; full brake-line replacement; full exhaust-line replacement (on top of a couple of muffler replacements; expected), rear-coil replacement (I’ll still never understand that one); radiator replacement.

And this was a car with – at the time of death – had only 67k miles on it.

Do I believe that this new car (top; burgundy replacement) will last 15 years, even with normal maintenance and repair? And factoring in the possible/probable occasional WTF expensive fix?

I honestly don’t.

Today, almost everything is built to last for a shorter period than its predecessor, and – to be fair – in some ways that’s a good thing:

  • Especially with anything electronic, technology is moving so fast that by the time you buy X, an improved X is cheaper/faster/better than what you bought. Think computers, smartphones and so on. Many – not all, agreed – want to get the best and the fastest sooner rather than later. Why pay $Z*2 that’ll last five years for something you’ll want to replace in two years? Make it cheaper (price/quality) and everyone wins.
  • Innovation is moving so quickly in many areas that it’s great that prices (and quality) are dropping. We can now buy solar panels, have a cell phone (physical; ignore the carrier issues), have LEDs for nightligts and so on. Again, a lot of this is wrapped up in electronics, but that’s just because I’m a computer dork. If I were in fashion, I’m sure I’d have tales about how haute fashion was more quickly getting to the masses and so on.

On the other hand – there’s always another hand, ja? – I don’t agree with some of the “short-lived” products I’ve purchased lately:

  • Recently replaced a dozen or so year old microwave with a new one. Yep, faster, but the latch on the door – from day one – is flimsier than the one on the old micrwave’s even after a decade+. Weak link.
  • We replaced the stainless steel Cuisinart coffee maker. Except, whoops, for the same price, it’s not stainless steel. It’s plastic that looks like stainless steel. Same coffee maker – a good one – besides this, but a step down.
  • DVD players – each one I’ve purchased over the decade (three of ’em) have each been better than the former; each has cost approximately the same as what it has replaced; each has lasted for a lesser period than its predecessor. *Sigh*
  • Home wireless phones (i.e. for a landline) fall into the “technology is moving fast” category, but also into this bucket – there really isn’t, for most folks, a need to replace same more than once a decade or so. Sure, some advances, but we’re not talking computers: Just some good stuff, that really won’t blow your hair back. Or – if it does – buy same. It’s inexpensive, and, yes, it’s also cheap, in the low-quality, short life sort of way. We replaced a cordless phone after about 12-13 years, and the replacement is a set of cordless phones (really can’t get anything else). Nice to have the multiple phones; nice to get off the 2.4Ghz band (so no wireless network issues), but the phones are crappy. And they were rated as highly as any other phone on Amazon. Whatever…
  • (Fill in your own blank….)

Some longer-lived products that I’ve run across in the last few years include high-end digital cameras (yes, the newer one is better, but not exponentially), Allen/hex wrench sets and thumb drives (lots of issues with thumb drives; but they form the new sneaker-net).