Monday, August 24, 2015

Wasps, Jays, Aurora, Friends, Alaska's Future

One downside to the warmer summer we've experienced, is the increased number of wasps.  To the point where we've had to take our outdoor dinner on the deck inside. 

These two appear to be yellow jackets, though earlier we had less articulated bugs.

I talked to an exterminator who wanted to make sure they weren't honey bees, in which case we should contact a bee keeper, since honey bee populations are crashing around the world.  But these aren't.  And wasps eat insect pests, though apparently yellow jackets eat dead insects.  The Idaho Extension Service has a very thorough description of yellow jackets, wasps, and hornets in Idaho.

In this case, I put out some pieces of smoked salmon which got them still enough to shoot, but even so, I'm not pleased with the shots.

Just recently, we've discovered that we aren't the only ones in town with more and peskier wasps in their backyards.  And as the climate changes continue, I suspect we'll be getting a lot more insects who weren't comfortable here when the weather was colder.

We also have a Steller Jay who's been visiting the deck.  He's been around for a while, but when we got back from Portland, he was downright aggressive.  When he saw me in the kitchen, he flew up against the kitchen window.  It turned out our house sitter had fed him.  While it's nice to see birds close up, I'm not a bird feeder.  If they can't survive here naturally - particularly over the winter - then they should go south rather than get dependent on people feeding them.  Though I know I'm in a minority on this point.

And Saturday night, I finally looked at Twitter after a couple of weeks of not having time to get around to it.  AuroraNotify was reporting sun activity and you could watch reports of great aurora activity moving west around the world - in the north and the south.  It was a bit after midnight and I went out onto the deck.

WOW!  I was blown away by these bright thrusts of light shooting down at me in the small window of open space to the sky from out deck.  But it quickly evaporated and by the time I got a camera there was nothing that spectacular left.  But there was plenty of faint to moderate green activity across the sky.  I was able to get quick google help when I wanted to take pictures of a lunar eclipse, but similar help for capturing auroras - while there - hasn't been as helpful.  This picture is from my little Canon Powershot.  You can barely see the green glow. 
Click for better version of aurora

We've had a bit of time to catch up with friends, but we're headed south again.  We bought tickets for trips to visit my mom while there were lower than normal fares.  Even though my mom passed away in July, there's still a lot of work to do cleaning up.  We're also combining the trips to see grandkids.  (And their parents too, of course.)

Unfortunately that means I'll miss this talk at ISER.    But I'll be able to go to the public talk Sept. 19. 

Moving Our Conversation Forward:
Alaska’s Fiscal and Economic Future
Gunnar Knapp
Director and Professor of Economics, ISER
Cliff Groh
Chair, Alaska Common Ground
Alaska’s state government has operated mainly on oil revenues since the 1980s. But now lower oil prices and falling oil production have hit Alaska hard, leaving the state government with a $3 billion hole in its annual budget. And Alaska’s economy will also face big challenges, because it relies so much on state spending.
ISER and Alaska Common Ground are sponsoring a free public forum on Alaska’s fiscal and economic future on September 19 (information about the forum). But in advance of that forum, Gunnar Knapp, ISER’s director, and Cliff Groh, the chair of Alaska Common Ground, will talk at ISER, previewing some of the material they plan to present. They will encourage those at the talk to ask questions and offer suggestions for improvement.
Please join us—and remember that ISER is now at 1901 Bragaw Street, between Northern Lights and DeBarr Road. Parking is still free. Call 786-7710 if you need directions. 

When: Thursday, August 27, 12 to 1
Where: ISER Conference Room
Third Floor, 1901 Bragaw Street, Suite 301

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