Archive for July, 2009

Monteverde/Santa Elena

Friday, July 10th, 2009

This morning we went to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve, in a taxi-van with two women also staying at our hotel and our guide for the Preserve, Adrian. It was an amazingly clear and sunny morning — especially for the cloud forest, which is, startlingly, often cloudy.

Adrian is a local, and he knows the English, Spanish, and scientific names of everything in the Preserve, it seems — e.g. we saw the Booger-Berry plant, which has green seed pods that you squash and suck a sweet, viscous, snot-like sap out of. Apparently this was a favorite thing to do when Adrian was a kid growing up here.

We also saw several huge caterpillars in a variety of colors, and some tiny orchids. An agouti, sort of a cat-sized brown mammal with a long snout, was right by the side of the trail for a while, where I got a good look.

A group of prong-beaked Barbits (excuse my spelling, as I’ve only heard this and not seen it written) were eating berries in trees all around, and I got a very nice photo of one through Adrian’s spotting scope.

After the hike, we wound up at the Hummingbird gallery, which is a coffee shop right near the entrance to the Preserve with hummingbird feeders set up all around. You could hardly find a feeder without two or three hummingbirds on it, and we saw six species in about the first five minutes. Lots more pics there, although many will be blurry.

On the way back, Robin and I had the taxi drop us at the Bat Jungle, where they have some colonies of bats in an enclosure kept dark in the day so you can see them active. The young woman who guided the tour there was very enthusiastic and well-informed, and we got to see several species of indigenous bats. Very cool. There were two mothers with babies (pups) that were very young, and one very fat pregnant bat.

Then we came back to the hotel, went out to lunch, and it started to pour, which it did the whole rest of the afternoon. Robin had a long siesta, and I read.

Tomorrow morning we leave for Manuel Antonio on the Pacific coast, and the beach for a few days.

Pura vida

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

We´ve spent one night in San Jose, and two in La Fortuna. Now we´re heading to Monteverde. We spent a long day touring yesterday, including a hike in the Arenal Volcano national park. The day before they evacuated the park because of some large eruptions — the path we were walking went through a big area where the leaves were covered with new ash. We were able to see lots of large lava boulders rolling down the mountainside, and one big burst of steam from the peak, accompanied by a noise like thunder.

We saw toucans in the park, at a considerable distance. Robin couldn´t make them out, as her glasses don´t work well with binoculars, but I got a good look. Also saw a couple of very beautifully colored tanagers at our hotel. Monteverde is higher, and cloud forest rather than rain forest. We plan to do some kind of tour of one of the reserves there, and I hope to see more wildlife.

Sarah Palin’s resignation “speech”

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

“My choice is to take a stand and effect change and not just hit our head against the wall, and watch valuable state time and money — millions of your dollars — go down the drain in this new political environment — rather we know we can effect positive change outside government at this moment in time on another scale and actually make a difference for our priorities, and so we will, for Alaskans and for Americans.”

Ummm… Come again? I don’t see anything much resembling English communication in that utterance, but let me try to use my powers of telepathy. You’re quitting as governor so that you can… complain about Obama for three years and then try for the Republican nomination?

Intelligent Design makes a testable prediction …

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

As pointed out in numerous blogs  and at least one Wikipedia editor’s user page, the clock is running out on this dire prediction from the éminence grise of ID:

“In the next five years, molecular Darwinism—the idea that Darwinian processes can produce complex molecular structures at the subcellular level—will be dead.”

William Dembski, Touchstone magazine, July/Aug 2004

I guess we’ve got a month or so before the whole evolutionary house of cards collapses.  Of course, the fact that Google Scholar gives 579,000 hits since 2004 for “molecular evolution” suggests that Dembski might turn out to be wrong.  I’m holding my breath.