Archive for February, 2016

On my daily lunchtime bike ride today I rode to the U.S. Supreme Court Building to pay my respects to Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, who passed away last week after serving on the high court for thirty years.  His body is lying in repose today in the Great Hall of the Supreme Court, and it is open to the public.  Unfortunately for me, the line of people waiting to file by and pay their respects to Justice Scalia was prohibitive for someone who had only their lunch hour before having to go back to work. As depicted in the video which was taken at about 9:30am, a little over an hour before the scheduled time for the public, the line stretched from the doors out to the street, around the corner, and for almost another city block.  By the time the people at the beginning of the line entered the building at 10:30am, the line had grown considerably, and continued around another corner and down another city block.  At various times during the day it took over two and a half hours to get through the line.  And at 8:00pm, the end of the scheduled hours, they stayed open to accommodate the large number of people still in line waiting to pay their respects.  In and of itself, the line of people would seem to serve as a testament to the respect so many people had for the man, and his service to this country.

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[Click on the thumbnails above to view the full size photos]

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“The First Lady” Keeping Her Eggs Warn at the National Arboretum

For the first time in almost 70 years, a bald eagle pair is nesting inside the grounds of the United States National Arboretum. And on today’s lunchtime bike ride I went there to see them in person.  It was just last month that Arboretum staff noticed the eagles making trips back and forth to the site as they built a nest atop a Tulip Poplar tree on the south side of Mount Hamilton, in the middle of the Arboretum’s famous azalea collection. Then the eagles’ behavior changed towards the end of January, when one started sitting on the nest at all times, while the other searched for food to feed its mate. Then the real excitement began last week, when the mated pair of eagles laid an egg on February 10th, and then another one on Valentine’s Day. They are currently incubating the two eggs.

If you are in the D.C. area or coming here in the near future, I highly recommend making a trip to the Arboretum to see this spectacle for yourself. But take heart, because if you can’t be here in person, you can still watch them on two live “Bald Eagle Nest Cams” which have been set up by the Arboretum, in collaboration the American Eagle Foundation and Alfred State, SUNY College of Technology, with resources and support from the D.C. Department of Energy and Environment and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The webcams are available 24/7 to view live streaming video of the iconically-named ‘Mr. President’ and ‘The First Lady’, and can be accessed by visiting the American Eagle Foundation website.

This is the eagle couple’s second go at parenthood, after successfully raising an eaglet in 2015. According to the American Eagle Foundation, “The story begins in the spring of 2014, when a lone male was spotted surveying the Anacostia River area by day, and returning to Kingman Island every night. Then in the fall of that year, when more bald eagles began to migrate through the area, it wasn’t long until the male was paired with a mate.

“In October 2014, the pair was observed flying together and conducting pair bonding flights. According to Arboretum staff, these flights went on for a few weeks during September and October. It is also noted that the new pair was defending their future nesting area against migrating eagles.” The couple then built their first nest in January of the following year, and laid their first eggs in February. Their first eaglet was born in March 2015, who fledged the nest a few months later.

Bald eagles were on the Federal government’s Endangered Species List as recently as a decade ago. But after a dramatic comeback in their population, the bald eagle was removed from the list in 2007. It is estimated that there may now be as many as 11,000 breeding pairs in the United States. The nesting pair at the Arboretum is expecting the eggs to hatch approximately 35 days after they were laid, making the expected due date March 16th for the first egg.  And for the egg that was laid on Valentine’s Day, it is due on the first day of spring, March 21st. This will be just in time for the new eagle family to enjoy the blooming of the Arboretum’s famed Glenn Dale Azalea Collection.

Although the bald eagle is no longer an endangered species, it is protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Both laws prohibit killing, selling, or otherwise disturbing eagles, their nests, or their eggs. In order to comply with these Acts, the Arboretum is utilizing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Bald Eagle Management Guidelines, which call for a buffer zone roughly 660 feet in diameter surrounding the nest site. Signs at the Arboretum are posted on the roads and nearby trails to alert visitors to this restricted area, which limits the ability to see the eagles except from a distance. So while a trip to the Arboretum is certainly worth the time, nothing beats the live nest cams for a close up view.

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[Click on the thumbnails above to view the full size photos]
Photos published with permission.  © 2016 American Eagle Foundation, EAGLES.ORG.

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UPDATE (03/20/2016):  There are two new eaglets in the world.  The eggs at the National Arboretum nest have hatched.  The first eaglet, referred to as “DC2” hatched at 8:27 a.m. March 18, 2016 Eastern Daylight Time.  The 2nd eaglet, known as “DC3”, hatched at 7:00 a.m. March 20, 2016, EDT.  “DC1” was the first offspring of Mr. President and The First Lady, who successfully fledged last season.

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“The President” and “The First Lady” Feeding the New Eaglets

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“The President” and “The First Lady” Feeding the New Eaglets

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UPDATE (04/26/216):  The eaglets, originally referred to as DC2 and DC3, have been renamed.  Following a “Name the Nestlings” social media campaign comprised of more than 36,000 votes, the eaglets are now known as “Freedom” and “Liberty”.

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I’m Back

Posted: February 16, 2016 in Miscellaneous

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I’m truly overjoyed to be able to write that my follow-up appointment with the surgeon went as well as it could possibly go. The pathology reports indicate that the tissue margins around the surgical site were clean, with no cancer cells remaining. They also removed six lymph nodes during the surgery. And the reports indicated no cancer in any of them either, so we now know that the cancer had not yet spread to the lymphatic system. Therefore, based on all of the information we have, it appears that I am now cancer free.  I will have to go for follow-up tests and monitoring in the future, but the cancer is in the past.

I want to thank everyone for your thoughts, your encouragement, your support, but most of all your prayers during this time. It has been one of the most difficult times of my life. It has not only been difficult physically, but the stress and anxiety have been nearly overwhelming. But knowing that so many people care about me helped me get through it.

I have lost, at least for the remainder of this life, a number of family members and friends to cancer. And there are a number of people who I genuinely care about who have been and currently are fighting cancer. I don’t know why God answers some prayers differently, but my prayers for them continue.

I feel truly blessed that the outcome was what I wanted it to be. But I believe God had prepared me to accept the outcome, regardless of which way it would have turned out. Because I believe that God is good. All the time.

I have been back at work for a little while now, but I was just recently cleared to get back on my bike again. So I am now starting to go for my lunchtime bike rides again throughout the city and the greater D.C. area.  And although I may not initially be able to ride and write it up for this blog as frequently as I did before, I hope to be able to write two or three times a week about what I see, what I learn, and what I think about while I resume exploring our nation’s capitol one ride at a time.

For this first ride, I chose to take it a little easy and see how things went.  And for the first time since last year I also had to contend with some winter weather while riding.  And it was my first ride of any kind in months.  And although I am mostly healed, I had heard there can still be some residual tenderness, especially when first starting back to riding again. But everything went well, and I’m glad to be back on the road again for my daily bike rides.

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