A barefoot climb of Mt. St. Helens
September 16, 2013, 12:46 pm by bottleman. Filed under: explosions, fall, fitness, love those goofy b*st*rds, photography, summer, trails.

climbing Monitor Ridge barefoot

Barefoot hiking has never caused the kind of controversy and acrimony that barefoot running has. Perhaps it’s because hiking doesn’t come so overloaded with notions about proper form and “performance.” People generally go hiking for recreation and sightseeing — any exercise or positive health effects hikers get are side benefits. Most runners participate in races of some kind, but hiking is less competitive — unless you get two diehard “peak baggers” on the same trail. (Count me out, man, I’d rather stop and smell the flowers.)

So barefoot hiking should be a lot like barefoot trail running — not so much about performance as about the experience. I thought I’d give it a try when my friend Ron Krull invited me to climb Mt. St. Helens late in the summer. The photos are by him unless otherwise noted. And a special note: FWIW here barefoot means actually barefoot.  There is nothing wrong with minimal shoes — or any shoes you want — but, dude, it’s not the same thing.

I’ve done Mt. St. Helens before, so I knew what I was getting into. …more

A new project: counting all the species in my yard
July 21, 2009, 4:40 pm by bottleman. Filed under: love those goofy b*st*rds.

Yup, I’m going to find and identify and write about them all, great AND small. The first one is a willowy beauty:

Read all about it at myspecies.wordpress.com .

I love those goofy b*st*rds: Ed Wood and Bela Legosi
June 18, 2009, 10:12 am by bottleman. Filed under: alien zoology, love those goofy b*st*rds.

You rarely see top-bottom split screens used in movies, but this scene makes me wonder why not.  Bela Legosi lords over a stock shot of city streets, in the classic transvestite liberation film, Glen or Glenda.  The world-weariness could apply to Solomon himself — if he had a morphine problem, anyway.

Suck it in
November 17, 2008, 10:12 pm by bottleman. Filed under: love those goofy b*st*rds, photography, shout-outs.

Photo (and title) by Jess Dolan.

Alien zoology: would that legwarmer look good on me?
November 9, 2007, 2:27 pm by bottleman. Filed under: alien zoology, love those goofy b*st*rds.

I often wonder: Why do humans invent things? Why do we have culture?

Let’s face it, all we really need to do is eat and copulate. Why do we bother with so much more than that? To an outside observer, say an alien zoologist, what could possibly explain all the details in the following picture?

bike photo from Library of Congress Bain Collection

Who are these humans, he/she/it ponders? What are their machines? What, particularly, is the significance of the fuzzy ball on the cap of the human at the right? Is he, perhaps, a priest? …more

Macro attack
November 15, 2006, 5:06 pm by Jess. Filed under: love those goofy b*st*rds.

Benthic macroinvertebrates. They’re not actually that big. Not big enough to star in a horror movie (Attack of the Bottom-Dwelling Gargantuan Spineless Things?). But they’re visible to the naked eye, which is convenient for us. These aquatic creatures can tell us a lot about water quality. Some, when faced with pollution, gurgle, “Bring it on!” while others expire at the slightest dip in dissolved oxygen.

Recently I got to go out and scrounge up some of these critters. I and some other stream enthusiasts set up a complex mouse-trap-like mechanism, involving tubes, baubles, pulleys, bait, and suction, in the stream, then retreated while our prey ensnared themselves.

Really, we just plopped a net in the current and violently raked and scrubbed the creekbed to free the clinging critters into our net. The we emptied the net into a bucket and proceeded to sort the bugs in ice cube trays, examine them with nifty Transformer-like field microscopes, and identify them.

In a good stream, you’ll find biological diversity. The Big Three to look for are stonefly, mayfly, and caddisfly nymphs. If you have a variety of these guys, your stream has not yet died. Another important thing: these insects are a main food source for little salmon.

So, what did we find…?


I love those goofy b*st*rds: HUMANS!!
November 5, 2006, 4:04 am by bottleman. Filed under: love those goofy b*st*rds, photography.

In environmental circles, people tend to get a bad rap. And by “people,” I don’t just mean Republicans. I mean everybody. Homo sapiens. Us!

photo by flickr user mwlguide, licensed under creative commons. see http://www.flickr.com/photos/mwlguide/130450544/

Lovable, damnable, hapless us. That train wreck of a species that shows up at your door and you don’t know what to do with. They look so sorry standing there in the rain, but you know if you let them inside before long your TV will be gone and your drawers rifled.

Won’t somebody come to our defense? Sing our song? Love the sinner, hate the sin?

Today I’m gonna try, with some help from the vast pool of artists at Flickr. …more

Life at Mt. St. Helens
September 29, 2006, 3:45 am by Jess. Filed under: explosions, love those goofy b*st*rds.

On May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens lost 1,314 feet of elevation. In the largest landslide in recorded history, the top and north side of the mountain rolled down into the surrounding landscape. A huge bulge of magma burst sideways through the dome and released a hot, ash- and rock-filled wind that tore through the forest at 350 miles per hour.

The 1980 eruption; USGS photo from wikipedia commons

The blast scorched and ripped up surrounding trees, but no fires started because there was no oxygen. The landslide dammed streams and rivers, creating many new lakes, and left behind whole chunks of the mountain on the landscape. The extreme heat from the eruption melted snow and ice, creating enormous mud flows that took out buildings and bridges. Hundreds of millions of tons of ash were released that day; a vertical column of ash reached fifteen miles up into the atmosphere. 250 square miles of surrounding land were damaged.


Plants: Nastier Than You Thought
September 12, 2006, 6:04 pm by Jess. Filed under: love those goofy b*st*rds.

A fly happens into a fly trap’s sticky leaves, and within seconds the Leaves of Death close over the fly. Who knew a plant could hustle so fast? This rapid plant movement is called haptonasty (from the Greek for nasty happenstance).

The gaping maw of the Venus fly trap--thanks, flickr member swimboy1

I’ve mentioned in another post that in our animal imaginations, plants don’t get credit for being fully alive. Why? Partly, because we think of them as unmoving. However, many plants exhibit rapid movements, like the leaf-closing mentioned above, or the instant collapse of leaflets in the shy Mimosa, or the closing of flowers at night. These “nastic” movements are caused by rapid chemical or pressure changes in the cells.

Nastic movements remind us of the twitchings of our own nervous systems. Add carnivorism to that, and a plant like the Venus fly trap gets elevated to near-animal status. But to really appreciate plant movement, we have to think a little differently. Most plant movements are tropisms, or growth movements. It is an elegant concept: instead of running, creeping, crawling or skedaddling, plants grow toward or away from a stimulus.


A delicious bully
July 23, 2006, 10:40 pm by Jess. Filed under: invasive species, love those goofy b*st*rds.

We think of plants as passive. They are alive, but it’s a different kind of alive than animal-alive. But the more you get to know plants, the more you can see how desperately alive they are.

Photo by Flickr member billy verdin---thank you
I know blackberry well enough that it can stir up the same emotions in me as any human enemy. …more

I love those goofy b*st*rds: MOTHS!!
April 20, 2006, 9:35 pm by bottleman. Filed under: love those goofy b*st*rds, summer.

No matter how conscientious you are, no matter how hard you try to prevent it, it occasionally happens: you eat a moth.

Tiger Moth pic from Wikimedia Commons

It happened to me one summer evening on what, within the protected confines of a planet-destroying automobile, might have been one of the loveliest stretches of time and place in the history of the universe.