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Saturday, October 29, 2005


Change of Venue

For the last several weeks, I've been working on a project for Constellation Energy Group in Baltimore. Until now, my suburb-to-suburb commute has spared my delicate constitution from the horrors of negotiating rush-hour downtown traffic. Fortunately, the southern terminus of the Baltimore Light Rail system is in Glen Burnie, a short and stress-free car ride from home. And so, 22 years after leaving New York City, I am once again riding the rails to work.

Light Rail Mirror Posted by Picasa

Taking the Light Rail has proven to be a pleasant experience. The clean and usually uncrowded two- or three-car trains reliably run every 20 minutes in either direction. At the Baltimore end, my stop is three-quarters mile from the CEG office, and the walk takes me past the attractive waterfront of the Inner Harbor. As someone whose job is largely to sit on his butt all day, I can assure you that I welcome the daily exercize.

Convention Center Morning Posted by Picasa

If the weather is worse than a light rain, I can transfer to the Baltimore Metro (underground) for free and ride two stops to within a block of the office. All things considered, pretty good for $3.20 a day.

War & Peace Posted by Picasa

A few weeks ago, I got a reminder of what I'm missing by not driving into Baltimore. On that day, I did drive and parked in hi-rise garage. At 5pm, it took me about 15 minutes just to get out of the garage and into traffice. Since the garage emptied onto a one-way street going the wrong way, it took me another 10 minutes to crawl around the block Then a few minutes later on was on the highway, but the first mile and a half took another 10 minutes. You get the idea.

Dragon Necks Posted by Picasa

Oh, and a side-benefit of this whole thing is that I can occassionaly bring my camera and take some early-morning pictures along the photogenic Inner Harbor.

Sunday, October 16, 2005


Exotic Backyard Visitor

Exotic Backyard Visitor Posted by Picasa

Besides being wonderful next-door neighbors, the Lim family has a talent for finding snakes - right around our houses! Last fall it was Black Rat Snakes, including several 18-inch-long juveniles and one good-sized adult. A few weeks ago, it was a juvenile Northern Water Snake, a fiesty but non-poisonous fellow often mistaken for a copperhead.

But today, the Lims outdid themselves. Nancy and some of the kids came by our deck with a beautiful, irridescent green snake. Now, I like snakes, but about all I know is what I've learned from watching Crocodile Hunter. But this one, I just happened to know about.

When our kids were very young, we stumbled across two of these beauties one Saturday afternoon at the entrance to our development. It took me a few visits to local libraries in those pre-internet days (about 1993,) but I finally found a book on snakes that identified them.

It's fancy-schmantzy name is Opheodrys aestivus aestivus, otherwise known as Rough Green Snake. It doesn't feel rough at all, but it gets that name from its keeled scales, which distinguish it from a different species, the Smooth Green Snake. In any event, it's a goregous creature.

My kids and I looked for more of those green snakes every weekend for months, then looked again every year, but we never saw another one until today's discovery by the Lim family.

This one was about 24" long, with a slender body about as thick as my little finger. As advertised, this one was exceeding well-tempered, dispite the fact that we handled it quite a bit. They are supposed to be arboreal, and from the way it navigated along the fallen brach the kids put it on, I believe it.

It just looks so exotic, I still marvel that it lives in our very un-exotic suburban housing development. I'd say that it would look more in place on one of Steve Irwin's treks to Sumatra. But I'm glad it came to visit in our backyard - it made my day.

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