Posts Tagged ‘Stanford dish’

First March

March 1, 2014

Saturday, 1 March 2014


A rainy weekend, so I don’t mind too much working indoors. I got about two hundred comments on my document by the deadline last night, and they need to be collated and organized for next week’s meetings. The joy of being an editor.

We also pulled the mattresses off the bed and vacuumed the carpet under the bed. As well as finding almost 30 years of accumulated lint (!), we discovered how worn the rest of the carpet is, compared to the virgin carpet under the bed. We’ll yet find ourselves getting new carpet there.

But around mid-day, I wanted to get out. What better than the Stanford dish loop? Starting, of course, by walking across Stanford campus, busy and fun.


Got a photo here, just as left-handed Junior got a hit! He’s better than I ever was!

By the time we get into the hills, the sky is pretty, but a little threatening.



The official dish is just the largest of many antennas, some of which are not even dishes. There is even a dome for a small optical telescope here.


Rain coming this way, but I think it will pass a little off to the side. And it did; just enough to get me to put on my rain jacket, and then it was gone.


Back into Palo Alto. What a terrific day!



Moths and un-moths

May 27, 2013

A couple days ago, I mentioned that it’s moth season. These are the moths that do a pretty good job of imitating dead leaves.


The pupae look like this:


And they’re everywhere. Today, I walked over to Stanford and around the dish loop. I stopped at a particularly dense area of pupae to see if I might observe a moth in the process of emerging.


No, but I think this may be a larva in the process of pupating, soon to resemble its two neighbors. Either that, or it’s dead, dead, dead!


As always, however, careful inspection reveals unexpected points of interest. I don’t know why this little guy is hanging around, but I bet it’s not accidental.

This one is surely an evolutionary mimic of the pupae.


And getting right down to the bottom line, here’s one having lunch.


From the dish, I walked back through Palo Alto and stopped at the Gamble garden to see what interesting things might be on display.


A couple days ago, I mentioned seeing more of various small animals over the years, more than in previous years, harvestmen for example. I have no reason to believe that there are more harvestmen than there used to be, but I see a fair number of them now. I believe this is because I have learned to see them.



Killer hikes and tarantulas

September 23, 2012

I spotted this little guy on the back door, then (for this picture) on the doorstep, just another of the small spiders you see all the time. More interesting when you get a magnified view.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

The first day of autumn. Tarantula season ought to be getting under way, and the best places to find them are the open grassy lands of the east bay. But my car shows a Check Engine light (NOx sensor), and I don’t want to drive it excessively until I take it in and spend money on it. So I parked on Cañada road just south of Edgewood, where a one-mile frontage trail along 280 gives access to Huddart park.

I hiked up through Phleger estate and stopped at the Kings Mountain fire station to refill the water bottle. I’m told that the trail along Skyline is called the Kings Mountain sidewalk, so I took the sidewalk north to the Purisima Redwoods parking lot. Then down, the Whittemore Gulch trail to the bottom and the Purisima Creek trail and fire road back to Skyline. From Skyline back down on Crystal Springs trail to the starting point. 22 miles, 3800 feet of climb.

Does that count as a killer hike? Less than 4000 vertical feet is a little wimpy, but 20 miles is a fair distance. Yes, I suppose it counts. Sore feet. Nice day, nice hike, but no pictures.

Sunday, 23 September

Before my Achilles surgery, I could run about 3 miles, maybe once a week, with a rest day afterward.  I have been doing 3-mile runs since recovering, but I think it should be possible to extend the distance. What better time than today?

Ran from home through Stanford, detouring to the succulent garden (no pictures, wrong time of year). On up to the Stanford dish trail. I am a little short on energy from yesterday’s hike, but still able to run up most of the hills, walking for a few minutes where necessary.

Open grassland up here, and there he was, the first tarantula of the season! Cool!

One of the other hikers spotted him first, and he was in the tall grass when I went over for a look. Tall grass makes for impossible photography, so I picked him up and put him out in the short grass, where he posed for a picture or two. Thanks, big guy!

Down the hill (500 vertical feet for today), walking the steeper parts in respect for my knees, but running the gentle downgrades. I am radically extending the length of my previous runs, and probably ought not overdo it (well, not by too much). So once I got back into town, I started walking, at least part of the time. The total distance was 10 miles, and I probably ran about 8. That’s a good extension over 3, assuming I’m not limping tomorrow.

Stopped at Elizabeth Gamble House, a small park and garden. They always have nice flowers and sometimes interesting small animals, too.

The second interesting small animal of the day was a butterfly, busy nozzling up nectar from a flower.

And the third was a leafhopper of some sort, so well hidden that I kept losing it every time I diverted my attention to the camera.

A great tarantula season!

October 9, 2011

Saturday: I hiked Mission peak to Sunol and back (16 miles, 4300 vetical feet); as the weather cools off, it’s good to get out into the open country – which just happens to be where the tarantulas live.

I walked through a loose collection of maybe forty cows, almost all with newly born calves. A coyote loped along the trail a hundred meters ahead of me. The cows moved off the trail, but weren’t overly concerned. Both the coyote and the cows know full well that, whatever the coyote’s fantasies about veal for lunch, they just aren’t going to happen, full stop.

I saw the first tarantula of the day, crossing Calaveras road, not far from the Sunol headquarters. I helped him get across the road safely, my good deed for the day. After going on to Sunol, having some calories, chatting with the ranger at the visitor center – who hadn’t had many tarantula reports yet this season – I returned; saw the same tarantula (I think) in the same vicinity. Ten minutes later, I saw the second of the day. Two in one day – that’s pretty good!

But the most interesting spider of the day was the little orange one. I really like spiders’ eyes! In this picture, we see four on the left (and there may well be more that don’t show in the photo); they are lensed eyes, not insect-like compound eyes, and spiders are estimated to see about as well as we can, with the advantage that they can see in all directions at once. Hard to sneak up behind a spider.

Not a bit of fear in this guy. He’s the size to stand on my thumbnail, but if I’m a threat, he’s ready and willing to tear me limb from limb, chew me up and spit me out! Argh! Come and get it! And good for him!

Sore feet again, blisters. I think my shoes are sending me a message. Happily enough, REI is having a sale: 20% off one full-priced item. So I stopped on the way home and bought a new pair of shoes.

Saturday evening we visited Alex and Sigrid for their annual Oktoberfest. Yes, we all know that Oktoberfest is in September, but it was delayed this year because Sigrid was at the real one in Muenchen.

Sunday: I should go out and see whether these new shoes are going to be good friends. In case I need to take them back, I’ll stay on pavement today, or at least grass or duff. Stanford? Why not! Six or seven miles, a few hundred vertical feet.

Yes, the shoes are fine. I ran up the steeper parts of the dish trail and also some of the not-so-steep parts.

And I found four tarantulas! Outstanding: I have gone entire seasons without seeing that many. I wanted to see if I could get one to climb up into my hand.

Hmmm… on second thought, no thanks!