Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘Doeskin Ranch

Striking twice

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They say lightning strikes twice in the same place. Rattlesnakes are also known to strike. The first but not the second came true on April 27th at the Doeskin Ranch. We’d barely begun heading down the main trail when we saw two women a little ahead of us who were talking and looking toward something they’d seen. I asked them what it was and they said a rattlesnake. Years earlier we’d seen a rattlesnake along the same part of the trail, so that’s what I meant by lightning striking in the same place. As for the kind of striking that people are afraid of from rattlesnakes, this one showed no such behavior. It lay calmly across the path, not moving and not even rattling its tail. After some minutes of various people looking at it and taking pictures, it slowly moved off the trail and into low vegetation, where it disappeared from view. (Click the top picture to enlarge it to twice its length. The geometry teacher notes that that also means four times its area.)

  

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Yesterday we watched an excellent one-hour C-SPAN program from the Steamboat Institute on March 12th. Dr. Bjørn Lomborg, author of the book False Alarm that I’ve highly recommended a couple of times, explained why we have to take into account not just the costs of unmitigated climate change but also the costs of the climate change programs meant to deal with the problem. Those programs entail costs of their own that can rival those of climate change. The first 35 minutes of the video are Dr. Lomborg’s presentation, and in the remainder of the hour he answers questions from the audience. I hope you’ll watch the program.

 

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 9, 2022 at 4:36 AM

Crab spider on prairie paintbrush

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One of the flowers I expected to see at the Doeskin Ranch on April 27th was prairie paintbrush, Castilleja purpurea var. lindheimeri, based on what I found there last year (though a month earlier in the season, when things were on a normal schedule rather than the delayed one we had this spring). As I got close to one prairie paintbrush I noticed a little crab spider on it, as you see here. The plant bumping up against the paintbrush was white milkwort, Polygala alba, which was out in force at the Doeskin Ranch. Below is a somewhat dreamy view of white milkwort near a few sensitive briar flower globes, Mimosa roemeriana.

 

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“Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.”

— President Harry S. Truman
Special Message to the Congress on the Internal Security of the United States. August 8, 1950.
  

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 8, 2022 at 4:31 AM

Blue stars and Barbara’s buttons

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Drove the 36 miles out to the Doeskin Ranch on April 27th in hopes of finding some blue stars (Amsonia ciliata). Found a few. Also found some flower heads of Barbara’s buttons (Marshallia caespitosa) with both a longhorn beetle (Typocerus sinuatus) and a bug of some sort.

© 2022 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 1, 2022 at 4:28 AM

Textures of different kinds

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At the Doeskin Ranch in Burnet County on March 24th I focused on textures of different kinds. The photograph above reveals a prickly pear cactus pad from which all the outer covering and inner cells and water had passed away, leaving only the sturdy structure that once supported them. In contrast, the picture below shows a rounded, colorful patch of lichens on a boulder.

For those interested in the art and craft of photography, I’ll add that the first photograph exemplifies point 4, and the second one point 15, in About My Techniques.

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A theme I’ve been pursuing here for a week now is that it’s common to hear politicians and activists bandy about the phrase “common sense,” which is a loaded and misleading term because some or even many things that a majority of people believe to be common sense can be shown not to be true.

Here’s a simple example from the everyday world of buying and selling. Suppose an item in a store goes up 50% in price and later comes down 50% in price. A lot of people would say it’s “common sense” that the rise in price and then the fall in price by the same percent would bring the item back to its original price; in this case the +50% and the –50% would cancel each other out.

Alas, that bit of “common sense” isn’t true. To see that it’s not, let’s give the item in question a specific price, say $40. After that price goes up by half (+50%), it’s $60. After the $60 price gets reduced by half (–50%), it drops to $30. The new price is less than the original $40 price, not equal to it.

Now let’s go a step further. In the real world, switching the order of two actions usually leads to different results. For example, mixing the ingredients for a cake and then baking them will give a very different cake than the one you’d get by baking the ingredients first and then mixing them. Waiting for an empty swimming pool to fill up and then diving head-first into it is recreational; diving head-first into an empty swimming pool and then waiting for it to fill up could well be fatal.

With those examples in mind, it seems “common sense” that if we go back to our example of prices and reverse the order of the two equal-percent changes, we might well get a different result. Specifically, what will happen if this time we first apply a 50% decrease to a price and then a 50% increase? Last time the final price ended up lower than where it started. By reversing the order of the changes, might the price now end up higher than where it started? As I used to say to my students: when in doubt, try it out. Beginning once again with a price of $40, if we reduce it by half (–50%) the new price is $20. If we now increase that $20 price by half (+50%) the final price is $30. The result comes out exactly the same as before: the original $40 price will still end up getting reduced to $30. Unlike many things in the real world, in this situation reversing the order of our actions makes no difference.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 14, 2021 at 4:28 AM

Groundplum flowers

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While at the Doeskin Ranch in Burnet County on March 24th I found a happily flowering colony of Astragalus crassicarpus. var. berlandieri, a Texas endemic known as Berlandier’s groundplum, groundplum milkvetch, or just groundplum. The species has appeared here only twice before, the first time as a limited-focus view of the plant’s leaves. A straightforward portrait of the flowers, as in today’s view, has a naturally pastel look to it.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 6, 2021 at 4:47 AM

Prairie paintbrush inflorescences

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From March 24th at the Doeskin Ranch in Burnet County, here’s a close look at the inflorescence
of one prairie paintbrush, Castilleja purpurea var. lindheimeri, in front of two others.


And here are two versions of a blessing known as the Selkirk Grace
that’s attributed to Scottish poet Robert Burns:

Some hae [have] meat and canna [cannot] eat,
And some wad [would] eat that want [lack] it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
Sae [so] let the Lord be Thankit!

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Some Folk hae meat that canna eat,
And some can eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
So let the Lord be Thanket!

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 4, 2021 at 4:35 AM

Texas bluestars

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An online report on the morning of March 24th quickly prompted a 45-minute drive northwest to the Doeskin Ranch in Burnet County, where I hoped to see some flowering Texas bluestars, Amsonia ciliata, a species I almost never come across in Austin. After a mile-and-a-half of wandering I found the reported colony.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 2, 2021 at 4:37 AM

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