I love flightless birds. You might even say they’re a favorite category of bird.
While my absolute favorite bird is the Okarito kiwi (and I promise to do a write up about why eventually), there are so many close runner ups. Flightless birds are badasses and they are disappearing. Fast.
But last year Janske van de Crommenacker et al published about their incredible discovery of a species of flightless bird re-evolving itself back into existence on the little island of Aldabra off the coast of Madagascar.
This brings into play, based on the fossil and what data we have recorded so far, the first documented case of iterative evolution.
They figured this out by comparing the current genome to historic DNA samples from the extinct species. This is practically the plot of Jurassic Park, except all done not by humans.
So, over 10,000 years, the Aldabra Rail evolved itself back into existence.
If you want to take something motivational away from this:
You can always reinvent yourself.
If an entire species can re-evolve itself back into existence – you can pick yourself back up and keep going.
You can survive whatever you’re going through. It may be arduous, but I promise you’ll find a way.
This was your motivational, slightly scientific TIL.
Please feel free to use the comment to share your thoughts and personal experiences openly and freely below – I reserve the comments section for that. Thank you for taking the time to read this today.
Jacob and I went for a walk last night around the neighborhood and noticed how clear the sky was. Luckily, we live a short drive away from dark sky, so when it’s clear enough with city light pollution that the Milky Way starts to be visible, we hop in the car. Capturing a moonrise with stars and no layering is a difficult challenge. While these aren’t all the pictures from last night, I wanted to share a few of them.
For planning dark sky photography I use a couple websites:
The majority of dark sky locations have insufficient GPS/cell service to use my constellation sky map app, so I can’t recommend it at this time. That’s not a bad thing. Maybe with their next update I’ll include it in another dark sky post. Plus, it was a paid app and I’m currently trying to recommend free services.
5 October 2020 – Early Evening Photography
The view that the Stardome tool produces is a bit off since the place where we stood on the surface of the earth is not Milwaukee, but it gave us a bit of an idea of what we were looking at. I hope this helps as a reference guide for some of the photographs below.
For the month of October 2020, Mars is visible to the east in the early evening sky. On 5 October we photographed Mars with a rising 87% waning gibbous moon.
To the north of the moonrise over the mountain crests a cluster of stars is visible. I believe these may be part of the Taurus constellation containing Aldebaran and the Hyades star cluster, but it is important to note that I am a novice and that is most certainly washed out by light on the horizon.
Post processing of dark sky photos allows for the revealing or obfuscation of information within the photograph. I’ll include a second processed version of the above photo as an example.
Due east and more visible in this next picture is the red color of Mars. We attempted to use a telephoto lens to reduce the exposure and focus on the unique aspects of the trees in front of the moon, but ran into an issue of condensation as the temperature and humidity started changing rapidly.
One of the fascinating things about taking pictures during a moonrise was that I was constantly adjusting the exposure time to prevent starlines/streaking. Before the moonrise exposure time was at 8 seconds and after moonrise I reduced this down to 3.2 seconds. One of the streakier examples is shown below.
One of the incredible things about taking a camera out at night and pointing it in a direction, then setting the aperture open is just how much you can see.
At less than 3.2 seconds the darkness of the shot makes it hard to make anything out without post processing.
At greater than 5 seconds once the moon had risen the star lines were intolerable.
But that moonrise? Beautiful. Except I’m dealing with noise – that’s all the weird blotchy discoloration instead of there being a smooth transition across the sky.
The above image is the one I posted to Instagram. The noise issue is one that Adobe Lightroom handles well, but Instagram amplifies.
It can be seen here too. Look along the bottom edge.
In future posts I look forward to exploring some apps for editing dark sky photos on the go, and ranking based on which ones make the same pictures that start out looking like mostly void and partially stars the best.
In the meantime, if you enjoyed this post and want to see more dark sky photos please like, comment, and share. I have a lot of photos to edit and play around with, plus I enjoy getting out and taking new ones. I’m excited to try and get some aurora pictures this winter.
Thanks for reading 💕
If you would like to use any of our photos from this post:
For unpaid projects, simply credit us by linking back to this website.
For paid projects please send me an e-mail and we can exchange a fair use contract with more details.
Content Warning: this piece discusses the death of a child and is based on a true story that took place almost a hundred years ago. For those wishing for a soundtrack while reading, I recommend this.
It rained that day in Bonaventure. The men in linen raincoats slicked with wet wax pried her blue and purple infant from her arms with kind eyes as they stood by the gravesite. He never cried. His eyes scrunched shut and mouth hung open to reveal white gums and a tiny receding purple tongue that never knew her breast. His little hands balled into stiff rigor mortis – the same little hands that once pressed through her skin to feel his parents’ palms. The wood and hammered metal wheelchair creaked beneath her in the gusting wisps of distant thunder carried on harried fat dollops of weather.
It was time to say goodbye.
Having never taken a breath of the sweet earthy air, she knew he only ever lived inside her. Her eyes hesitated on his blue lips. A different blue than the eyes she knew he must have beneath those unopened angelic lids. She imagined how if they had fluttered open she could have seen…
“Anna, it’s time to go.” The captain clasped a firm hand on her shoulder. “You have to say goodbye.” His body trembled, but his feet remained firm in the soggy ground.
Ever the polite grave diggers at Bonaventure – their patient spades waited for the captain’s call. To have her baby’s birth documented at all was a luxury. In the eyes of the state of Georgia and the city of Savannah, he never existed. At least Bonaventure gave her and her husband the dignity of recognizing the agony of her feverish labor after carrying her child for all those months; the right to mourn after knowing him all that time only to lose him before ever hearing his scream of life or giving him a name on paper.
In the distance, a bird flew into a patch of blue sky over the ocean on the blue-gold horizon beyond the mouth of the Wilmington River. Another drop of water hit her as she gazed over her child’s face once more. Her hand grazed the place on her stomach where she felt his final kick before the labor began – where she saw his little foot press through her skin. She let go – her tears hidden by the rain.
The men wrapped his little form in a thin damp cloth dusted with perfumed talc from a pouch on one of the digger’s belts. Smudging dirt on his forehead, the digger knelt and placed her unknown son as if asleep into the soft soil of the small pit. Beneath the morning clouds, the scene took on a light blue glowing hue. She closed her eyes and began to hum the lullaby she’d sung to him every night since she’d first felt his presence as the captain’s jerk of the chair indicated him turning away and processing along the ground. The exhaustion hit her again with a wave of nausea. Her baby boy gone forever as if he was never there at all.
In Bonaventure’s records they added:
1929 – Baby B— – Stillborn
If you want to read more, keep an eye out for future additional updates and excerpts from ‘Little Earthquakes In The Sea’.Liking, commenting, and sharing all helps me know which posts my readers prefer. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this today!
This piece of prose is meant to serve a dual purpose: provide a life update and artistically reflect on 2020.
Have you heard of this thing? It’s called, “Slow Food.”
I shake my head. “Isn’t that cooking?”
“No, no. Not like that.” Judgmental tuts put me in my place.
People are always waiting to tell other people they’re breathing the wrong way because it isn’t the way they learned how to breathe.
I stare at my ceiling as my partner falls asleep. “Is my food meant to be causing constipation?” What is meant by slow? Sounds uncomfortable.
2020 distorts time like light passing through water and glass – the concentrated pockets brighten momentarily, but fade into the surrounding textures and patterns. I’m reminded of Bay Time – of a place in my past that no longer exists – when waking up during the blue hour meant a circuit of nets and crab pots, checking juvenile oyster baskets for conchs as they float tethered and returning by mid-morning on a clear day – when our family’s laughter sparkled off the water for hours as we chattered and picked steamed crab from exoskeletons. Hand-packed. Frozen. Thawed. Remembered.
Did I remember to respond to those emails last week? What about those interview questions I was going to write? What is Slow Food?
I create daily menus as my partner’s coworkers abandon ship for economic mirages. The grass is always greener… says the cow chewing cud.
What started as a chance to write 6 books turns into 6 unfinished books and 4 shelved ones. No one reads this. Why would anyone want to? Is there a world where my words matter?
“No, no. Not like that.” Say the rejections I receive.
I search for staff writing and editing positions at places that might acknowledge and apologize for microaggressions. Where I would feel safe bringing them up. I try to imagine a writing position where I could continue to find growth. I take two weeks off wondering if they’ve realized I’m the only staff editor they didn’t acknowledge the birthday of yet.
“No, no. Not like that.” Says the writing group I try out, but don’t feel comfortable going back to after the group leader says those that are talented at writing fiction are narcissists… after she compliments my ability to write fiction.
I read antique poetry books for inspiration and tell myself I’ll finish A Hundred Different Skies. I’ll finish at least one to be sure. But no one will read it. Why would they? Not even my family supports me anymore.
I stop getting on Twitter after our friend dies. He’s not the first death this year. My heart hurts. I’m told to take care of myself, but in isolation it’s not that simple. The words don’t come when I try to talk about the brick building on Poquoson Ave. I begin seriously considering mortuary school again.
“Have you tried Slow Food?”
“Isn’t that cooking?” I stare at these pages of unpolished text.
I lose a close friend to schizophrenia. She creates 15+ phone numbers and iMessage accounts to call and harass me about how I am the grey goo in her computer — about how I knew about the people living in her walls — about how the literary magazine I gave her in Summer 2018 predicted all of this. I try not to dwell on wedding pictures. My voicemail box fills regularly to the point my doctors can’t get ahold of me.
For the first summer since undergrad I lose count of the number of times I’ve been camping. This feels like the correct number of times. I start to wish I didn’t have to go home and find myself learning how to do seasonal prepping of food for the winter. I already knew.
“Have you tried Slow Food?”
“Isn’t that cooking?” My entire life has changed, but I haven’t found a new normal. Nothing is normal, and the only thing “slow” is Schrödinger’s Time in this box of a year trying to tell me everything is both fine and not fine at the same time.
But “No, no. Not like that,” says the world as it spins madly on.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my writing today. If you enjoyed this piece, please like, comment, and/or share it. This helps me know which posts my readers enjoy the most.