Brian's Journal - Spring 2012

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04/06/2012     
Jury Deliberations    Show deliberations
It took us less than an hour to discuss the evidence and find cause for reasonable doubt that AG was innocent of the assault charges because he was acting in self-defense. I don't think either the judge or the prosecuting attorney was surprised. We wondered why the state had chosen to prosecute the case in the first place. I suspect the case would not have been prosecuted had the police interviewed the two Hispanic witnesses. Realizing he had a weak case, the prosecutor had attempted to get AG to settle for lesser charges but he'd refused so the case went to trial. We felt that the prosecutor handled the trial fairly and competently but just didn't have much to work with.
I talked with the prosecutor after the trial. I gave him some feedback on how the jury responded to various aspects of the proceedings and he shared his perspective on the trial. We had a good laugh about one of the expert witnesses, an audio analyst who looked like a minor Mafia thug and was so biased for the defense in his testimony that he pretty much destroyed his credibility with the jury. The other expert witness for the defense was a UW professor who studies memory and makes more money (300K or so a year) testifying in trials than he does teaching. He explained how memories derive not just from our perceptions of a situation but also from our pre-existing assumptions about the situation and from information we subsequent receive about the situation. The several components blend together so seamlessly that we often can't tell which details in the memory come from which sources and therefore assume that we actually witnessed everything in our recollection, which typically isn't the case. It was easy to see how his ideas applied to the testimony of the various eyewitnesses who testified during the trial. Witnesses appeared to remember what they'd expected to see in the first place, whether they were testifying for the prosecution or for the defense.

Roozengaarde/Rosario
 
 
While I was deliberating with the jury, Susan drove to Seattle and met Ali, who was skipping the final day of her philosophy conference to see a bit of Washington with us. Unfortunately the first bit she saw was just the Southcenter mall, where she and Susan waited for me to finish at the courthouse. We set out for Mount Vernon and the tulip fields around 2PM. We were a bit early for tulips but the daffodils
 
 
were spectacular. We walked around Roozengaarde for an hour. Susan and Ali talked while I took pictures.
From Roozengaarde we drove to Bowman Beach, just north Deception Pass, and hiked over to Rosario Beach. Again Susan and Ali talked and I took pictures. We found a few birds including Ali's first ever Bald Eagle. The late afternoon light was beautiful as we were heading back to the car. We stopped at Skagit River Brewery in Mount Vernon for supper and a beer sampler, both respectable, and delivered Ali to the airport in time for her redeye back to the East Coast.
04/16/2012   Boston Marathon  
Boston this year was hot! I stayed with Mom & John and Sarah & Roger at the Harvard Club again this year. Susan stayed home to attend David's art show opening and Luau dance performance. Walking down Commonwealth Avenue to catch the marathon buses by the Common, I was comfortable in just my shorts and singlet. The magnolias were mostly gone by and White-throated Sparrows were singing in
Boston Buses
the bushes. A Maniac from Bellingham whom I didn't know sat with me on the bus. I hung out in the village with Rikki B, at Boston for the first time. Eighteen months ago I tried to pace her to a BQ at Skagit Flats but she slowed down after mile 23. Nine months later, after losing 10 pounds, she ran Foot Traffic Flat and beat her qualifying time by almost 20 minutes, putting her with me in the last corral of the second wave. I thought I'd submitted my CIM time of 3:24:48 but apparently not because corral 2:9 times were in the neighborhood of 3:42. Just as well, since I haven't run much this winter and wouldn't be running fast today either. I'll use the CIM time next year, and perhaps train through the winter to prepare.
When not in Porta-potty lines, we sat comfortably in the shade of the Medical tent and watched people go by. Rikki posed with a woman carrying a "Sweat is Sexy" sign. I looked for Jeff P, with whom we
Athlete's Village
Sweat is Sexy
had dinner at Petit Robert last night, but couldn't find him. He would start in the corral behind us and finish about 15 minutes behind me due to the gap between waves. We also looked for Diana R, whom I'd met by chance in the Public Garden. She was admiring the tulips with the Rev. I embarrassed myself by failing to recognize either of them but they apparently forgave me. Nonetheless, we never found Diana despite our prearranged plan to meet on the line between the two corrals.
I kept up with Rikki, even ran a little ahead of her, for the first four miles. Even then I was feeling the heat and when she pulled ahead of me, I didn't try to match her pace. She went on to run a near-perfect race and finished half an hour before I did, though ten or fifteen minutes slower than she would have liked. I finished in 4:26 with a level of effort that would normally have earned me 3:50 or so. In an attempt to keep cool I dumped a cup of water on my head at every aid station and put a cube or two of ice under my hat whenever it was offered. The ice really helped, but a good deal of the water ended up in my shoes. My Green Silence shoes don't have much of a footbed so my feet slid forward in my shoes on the downhills and I ended up jamming my left big toe pretty badly in the first half. I'd also forgotten to lube my toes before the start so the balls of my feet began to get tender from all the sliding. In the second half I applied lube at mile 14 and ran as flat-footed as I could. Though they hurt, my feet didn't get any worse. My toe was pretty tender for several days afterwards and I'll probably lose the nail.
The Wellesley girls weren't kissing this year, at least while I was running by. They had the usual "Kiss Me..." signs but no other runners were taking their offer at face value so I didn't either. Maybe it was the heat, or maybe someone just needed to break the ice and nobody was willing to be the first. I kissed just one girl at the very end of the line, five fewer than I'd planned. Ali and Donna were waiting at the usual spot just before the light. I stopped for a minute or so. Donna had crushed ice so I filled my hat. We made tentative plans to get together later in the week since I didn't have much opportunity to visit with them at Petit Robert.
Somewhere around mile 22 I caught up to Prez and another Maniac and walked with them for a mile or so before running in to the finish. A temperature sign near mile 24 read 86F and that might have been a degree or two low. It was tough for running but very comfortable after crossing the finish line. I met everyone on Newbury Street but didn't get back to the Harvard Club before the gym closed. I was able to take a quick shower upstairs before we headed north to New Hampshire.
04/17/2012   Tunnel Marathon is full  
The Light at the End of the Tunnel Marathon filled up today, as far as I can tell, four weeks and a day after we opened registration in March. We reached the limit of 350 online entries around 11:00AM Eastern time. The mail-in form is available through the end of the day today but according to Susan, we've received close to 50 entries to put us at our total of 400. Last year it took about three months to reach 300 entries. About a quarter of last year's runners signed up again this year. Three-quarters of this year's runners are new, that is, they haven't run any previous Tunnel marathons. Approximately 140 of the 400 runners are coming from more than three hours away so we're bringing quite a few people into the area for a night or two. Perhaps we should try to get sponsors next year.
04/21/2012   Jackson  
Spruce from the lower field
Painted Lady on Sarah's cherry tree
The warm weather persisted for several days with temperatures in the mid-70's. That was good for my sore toe since I could only wear flipflops for the first couple of days after the race. I was pretty sore too, though managed to get out walking with Mom and John both days. We kept the doors open and ate lunch on the deck upstairs - it felt almost like summertime.
Palm Warbler
Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler
Pine Warbler
I spent quite a bit of time birding and trying for bird photos in the woods, both around the property and over by the Sawyer River Road. There's a beaver pond down by the river across the highway from the entrance to the Sawyer River road. The map shows it as the town of Harts Location, and indeed a few chimneys are still standing in the woods, remnants from a CCC camp there in the 30's. I found Canada Geese and Wood Ducks in the pond and a Palm Warbler in the woods - here's my bird list from a couple hours over there while John was bicycling up towards Crawford Notch. He bicycled every day down in Florida but this was the first time he'd encountered hills and he wasn't sure how it would go. Fortunately it went fine, particularly on the way back down.
Blue-headed Vireo
Blue-headed Vireo
Blue-headed Vireos seemed more common than later in the summer, and were much easier to see without leaves on the trees. I often heard two singing at once around the house and saw them at Sarah's and over at the Sawyer River road as well. I was surprised when I first heard them singing but apparently they're an early migrant. They were somewhat difficult to photograph since they stayed mostly in the treetops.
Yellow-rumps were warbler species I saw and heard most frequently; their numbers seemed to increase suddenly this afternoon. At one point a brightly colored male landed right at my feet to grab a moth. I was too startled, and perhaps too close as well, to get a photo but fortunately it landed on a nearby branch. They tend to be easy than some to photograph because they're common and they occasionally forage low in the understorey.
Male Eastern Bluebird
Female Eastern Bluebird
Eastern Bluebirds were taking up residence in one of John's nest boxes. The female bluebird was gathering dry grass and stuffing it in the nest box while the male looked on, often perching on the post above the box to deter the Tree Swallows. Eric puts up the boxes in pairs to minimize nest box competition. Once a pair of Tree Swallows selects one of the boxes, they prevent other Tree Swallows from settling in the other box but tolerate the bluebirds.
In the pines and hardwoods of the small wooded triangle between Sarah's house, the brook and the river, I was surprised to find a Pine Warbler singing; I'd never seen them in Jackson before. I tried several times to photograph it but with only fair results. I did find two territories though, one which ranged from the third hole of the golf course throughout the triangular woodlot and over to the old stream valley behind Sarah's house, and another along the fourth fairway below Cameron Drive. I can't distinguish their songs from either juncos or Chipping Sparrows so I've probably dismissed them as one of those two species in the past.
Tree Swallows
Northern Cardinal
American Crow
Down in the lower field as well as up at the house, Tree Swallows were investigating nest boxes. I photographed them around an elm snag in the brushy area between the lower field and the river. That's generally a good area for birds and this time was no exception - from the ditch between the fields I flushed the first Wilson's Snipe I've seen on the property. A Northern Cardinal has claimed that area for his territory though I usually heard him singing on the other side of the river. Normally skittish, he came in quite close when I imitated his call but uncooperatively stayed on the far side of a bush from me. Last November I also saw Wood Ducks in that area so looked for them this time but saw them only once, briefly when I flushed them from the river along the second fairway.
05/21/2012   Winthrop  
North of Winthrop
House Wren
Susan and I drove over to Winthrop for a couple of days so I could run the Sun Mountain 50K, a beautiful trail run in the hills around Patterson Lake a few miles west of town. The run was yesterday. We spent last night at the River Run Inn in a very nice room just a couple hundred feet from the river and ate dinner with Matt and Betsy at the Duck Brand restaurant, a reasonably good choice. This morning I was happy to get out birding for several hours along the road from Pearrygin Lake about two miles NE of town. The Methow Valley around Winthrop is a patchwork of pine forest, aspen groves and riparian habitat, bunchgrass meadows, pastures and bitterbrush/sagebrush covered hillsides, a nice variety of habitats which support lots of different birds. I counted about 60 species during the run yesterday and 81 altogether for the weekend.
Yellow-rumped (Audubon's) Warbler
Bullock's Oriole
Black-headed Grosbeak
Susan came out with me in the afternoon after lunch in town. We hiked around a mudflow which washed out the FR100 road a few months ago, stopped along Bear Creek road in several places to photograph Western Bluebirds and other birds and wrapped up our outing with a short hike at the edge of the pine forest farther up Bear Creek and NF-200 roads.
Apple blossoms
Pine flowers
Elegant Cat's Ear
Apple trees, perhaps the remnants of an old orchard, were flowering there, as were the Ponderosa Pines. The Elegant Cat's Ear, a cumbersome name for such a beautiful flower, was growing among sagebrush on a steep hillside above the mudflow.
Lazuli Bunting
Western Bluebird
Susan with Lilacs
We drove down to the Twisp River pub for dinner. Both the beer and the food were very good. We left late, delayed by a tour of some new condos next door. Susan met the owner at the table next to us and invited him to join us for a drink. He'd spared no expense on the condos but the location next to the pub wasn't particularly appealing and the rusting sheet metal exterior siding of the building seemed at odds with the elegance within. I drove first and made it, with some difficulty staying awake, as far as Cashmere before Susan had to take over. We'd originally planned to go home but made it only about up hwy 97 from Cashmere, where we found a quiet pullout a short distance up the old hwy 97 and slept in the van.
05/22/2012   Blewett  
Our camping spot
Pink flowering currant
In the morning I woke up before Susan and hiked up the steep hillside next to our camping spot looking for bird photos. Lots of Townsend's Warblers singing in the beetle-ravaged Douglas Firs. I didn't get much in the way of photos. I took a few of two singing Cassin's Vireos but never got them in good light and missed a closeup of a Townsend's Warbler in snowbrush because I didn't expect it to be so close to the ground. Here's my list for the morning. After breakfast and some poking around in the sunshine we continued
Hammond's Flycatcher
Male Townsend's Warbler
Female Townsend's Warbler
up the road and over the old Blewett Pass. The creek was lined with gold claims, several of which were occupied by campers getting a head start on the long weekend ahead. Both sides of Blewett Pass are known for gold but my impression has been that the area never produced much.
Ponderosa Pine, Bitterbrush and Balsamroot near Blewett Pass
Not far past the Liberty turn-off we spotted the Liberty Cafe and Susan decided she wanted a little more breakfast so we pulled in and sat down at the counter next to an old guy wearing camo. He was apparently a regular there; as we ate our breakfast we listened in on his conversation with the waitresses behind the counter. He spoke slowly with random pauses, as if his thoughts were little children dawdling behind him, but after a while his story began to take shape. It turned out that one of the waitresses had saved his life a year or two back. He'd not showed up for a couple of days so she went to investigate and found him where he'd fallen in his bathtub, naked and hypothermic and unable to get up. She'd called an ambulance and they'd come and rescued him. More recently she'd helped him out again, retrieving him from jail just yesterday after he'd been arrested for an altercation with several men in a pickup who were attempting to drive away with a load of gold ore from his claim. Brandishing a shotgun, he'd blocked their way and pepper-sprayed
Liberty Gold
their ringleader but they'd called the police first and had him arrested while they drove off with his ore. Gratified by our indignation on his behalf he offered to show us some of the gold from his claim. He pulled out a rounded nugget of gold mixed with quartz; it was only an inch or two across but was remarkably heavy. I asked if he'd mind if I photographed it and he said that was fine but that he had some nicer pieces out in his truck. I went out with him while he rummaged around behind the driver's seat and pulled out a small plastic container stuffed with tissue paper. Inside the cafe he carefully unwrapped three specimens of bright yellow gold in wire and crystalline forms partially embedded in a matrix of calcite. I photographed them on the formica counter of the cafe. He told us they'd come from his claim in Liberty, from a vein which bisected the town. Gold wasn't his only treasure; he also pulled several spectacular pieces of fiery blue opal out of his pocket and handed them around to the waitresses and to us. Originally from the opal beds in Australia, he'd purchased them at the rock show in Tucson though he wasn't clear just how much he'd paid for them. We left worried about the old man; he'd had a stroke at some point and one arm hung useless by his side. Despite what he said about having friends who looked out for him, he seemed way too trusting of strangers particularly given the unsavory characters who tend to be attracted to even modern-day gold camps.
Northern Pacific ponds
Mallard duckling
Belted Kingfisher
In Cle Ellum we stopped at the Northern Pacific ponds, a slough off the Yakima River on the south side of town, for a couple hours of birding. Despite the intermittent rain I managed to find 41 species and to get a fair number of photos as well, including flight photos of all six swallow species present.
Cliff Swallow
Barn Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Bank Swallow
Tree Swallow
Violet-green Swallow
Susan read and took a nap in the car while I hid from the rain under the roof of an informational kiosk and photographed swallows. Unfortunately all of the photos I took while it was raining came out blurred. I'd set the camera on auto-ISO with a limit of 800 and the clouds were so thick that even on ISO 800 the shutter speed was only about 1/20 of a second.
Cassin's Vireo
Cassin's Vireos
When the rain let up we drove down to the end of the road. It doesn't go through, and the slough eventually peters out just above where a branch of the river enters from the south. We found a few more birds including a pair of Cassin's Vireos. Having begun the day by photographing Cassin's Vireos, it seemed fitting to wrap up the day wthe same way. At the time I thought maybe we were watching a young one begging from an adult but in the photos they appear to both be adults, probably a pair. They allowed relatively close approach but they'd moved into thicker cover by the time I got in position for photos.
06/08/2012   Saddle Mountain  
View from camp yesterday evening
I found a log today - not sure how big because I didn't have time to dig it all out, but the pieces I did pry loose from the crumbly basalt matrix were 7-10" wide and 6-12" long. It looks like good quality opalized wood in cream, tan and black colors, though with little if any internal wood structure. The site had been dug some years ago - colorful chips were scattered for several feet below a shallow depression only a few inches deep. There were few if any chips uphill from the spot so I began digging and within a foot, began to come across larger, like fist-sized, chunks of the same wood in the soft soil. Then I began to get chunks of basalt as well, distinguishable from the petrified wood only because they were heavier in the hand. About 18" down the chunks of basalt began to coalesce into broken bedrock, chunks of rock 2-5" across and all coated with the same whitish-orange crust as the wood. At that point I wasn't finding much wood so I was about to give up when I pried loose a somewhat larger chunk of basalt, perhaps 6" across, and realized it was a piece of wood, and behind it was the glassy surface of an even larger piece. I'd just found the end of the log.

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