Wednesday, August 21, 2019


That one can
calculate the ambient
temperature by counting
cricket chirps always
intrigued me.
It’s not that different,
I suppose,
from the principle
of the atomic clock,
in which a second is
measured as
9,192,631,770 oscillations
of a caesium -133 atom.
It’s easier for me
to count cricket chirps,
however. You count the
chirps that occur in fourteen
seconds and add forty to
get the temperature in
Fahrenheit. To calculate
in Celsius, you simply
count the chirps in twenty-five
seconds, divide by three,
and add four.
Crickets are unreliable,
though, for calculating
temperatures below 55
or above 100 Fahrenheit.
The variable chirping is
due to the cold-blooded
chemistry of crickets.
Below a certain temperature
they cannot (or choose not to)
chirp. They may simply think
it is too cold to chirp. The
warmer it is, the faster crickets
can chirp. It may be similar
to engine oil and viscosity
cold weather.
The oscillation of the caesium -133
atom is more reliable, it seems,
although I do not have the
equipment or patience
to do the counting.
I once determined I
would do a painting
of every nano-second
of the time between the
Big Bang and the present.
I have fallen further
and further behind ever since.

Saturday, August 10, 2019


The dragonflies were out
in force yesterday at the
golf course near Offutt Air Force base.
Like helicopters hovering,
they scanned for prey,
protecting their lair,
the Big Papillion Creek.
The Papio, to us locals,
runs adjacent to the
eastern edge of the golf course
and provides ample habitat
for those sky-borne predators
before meeting the Missouri.
Named Willow Lakes for the abundant
willow trees and small ponds once present,
the golf course now has only a few
of those branches sashaying
in the breezes. I counted six
during my walk.
Ancient dragonflies some 30 inches
wide have been found
in fossilized form,
their organic matter
replaced by minerals. I am glad
I didn’t have to deal with 30 inch wing-span
dragonflies while determining
whether to hit a nine iron or an eight iron
on hole #3.