One of the biggest challenges photographing birds is getting close enough. This morning that was not an issue. This robin flew into one of the windows of our sun porch and was temporarily rendered flightless on our deck. I was able to take this close up before it regained sufficient composure to fly away.
There are few colors I enjoy more than that of a weeping willow tree in spring. A pair of my favorite specimens are located nearby, situated in front of a coral containing a pair of white horses. Occasionally they afford me a perfect foreground as was the case this afternoon. In a matter of days all the tree blooms will have come and gone making this a time of year to spend every moment outdoors. My soccer match this morning cost me an injured left hamstring that will probably put me on the sidelines for a couple of weeks. I am prone to such muscle tears but rarely suffer one in the act of doing anything worthwhile. This morning was the exception. I tweaked my hammy as I dribbled past the opposing keeper to score a very pretty goal. I now have four goals in as many matches and am tied for leading scorer on the team, a distinction that will be short lived if I cannot get back on the pitch quickly. We have yet to give up a goal this season and the team is on a good path for promotion back up to Division 1.
Earth Day is celebrated in Concord with the Musketaquid Parade. It features a variety of participants who entertain the crowd with all manner of nature related imagery and music. This year the band in which Nicolai plays, On the River, was invited to perform for parade watchers. They did a set of about a dozen songs which lasted for just over an hour. I recorded high fidelity audio and video and as time permits may post to the blog.
Glorious weather today prompted me to spend my lunch hour at Great Meadows. Having photographed most of the bird species here, I turned my attention from birds to fish. Pictured here are a pair of Asian Carp, an invasive species known for their jumping abilities. Getting this shot took a lot of patience. I noticed that the carp seemed to jump in one area more than others. I trained my lens on that spot, locked focus and exposure, and waited with my finger glued to the shutter release. After 30 minutes and several hundred attempts I was rewarded for my persistence. Nabbing this pair in mid air was beyond my expectations and all laws of probability.
Robots played an important role in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings. I am very proud that iRobot products were deployed on several occasions to help assess potential threats as bomb squad personnel meticulously cleared crime scenes. In addition, we made four employees available to law enforcement in support of their robotic missions. It is very satisfying to work on products that help save lives but depressing to see them used in your own back yard. Pictured here is one of our PackBots (left side of photo) used in Watertown to investigate the first car abandoned by the bombing suspects. The photo was taken by a local resident.
I woke up at 4:30am this morning so that I could deliver Maya and three of her friends to the Sandborn Middle School by 5am. There they boarded buses destined for Washington D.C. and a multi-day school field trip to the nations capital. The penultimate experience of their middle school education, Concord students, including both her brothers before her, look forward to this trip with great anticipation. I remained at the drop off site for another 30 minutes so I could watch the six bus convoy roll out.
Spring arrives very quickly in New England. One day tree branches are bare, the next they are erupting with color. Followers of this blog will need not tolerate bird pictures much longer. As soon as the leaves fill out it becomes very challenging to get good shots. I also grow weary of lugging around my 300-800mm zoom lens which weighs in at over 15 pounds with camera attached and the large tripod needed for its proper support.
My over 50 soccer team faced a very talented and physical Russian team this morning. They failed, however, to put much effort into warming up for the 8am start. I suggested to my team mates that we come out very intensely and look for an early score. Within the first two minutes, I stripped a wing back and went in for a one-on-one with the goalie. Unfortunately, my shot was wide (read: I choked). Two minutes later, I sprinted into the box to meet a high cross for a beautiful header that gave us our first score and redeemed myself for the earlier miss. The game remained 1-0 until the final minutes when we slammed the door shut with another goal. I returned home after a nice post match barbecue with the guys and opted to give my rather beaten up body the rest of the day off. I was so adrenaline charged during the match that I am not quite sure when I picked up this rather painful turf burn.
Nicolai has decided to run the Boston Marathon next year as an act of solidarity with survivors of this year’s bombings. He plans to enlist other amputees to join him under the banner of a movement he is starting called “Out on a Limb”. Nicolai has always taken risks to define his abilities rather than letting others define his limitations. He hopes that his participation in the marathon will inspire those who have suffered loss and demonstrate that Americans will not cower to terrorism.
Jeanine’s sister Susan has been staying with us the last few days and she joined us for Maya’s soccer game this morning.
During warm ups we went for a nice walk in Menotomy Rocks Park where this photo was taken. Maya had a very strong game and made several impressive plays which contributed to the win by her team. In celebration of her 61st birthday the adults (inclusive of Nicolai) enjoyed dinner out and dessert at home.
Followers of this blog who live outside of Massachusetts may not yet be aware of what has transpired here today. The Tsarnaev brothers, pictured above, were identified yesterday as suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing. Early this morning they killed an MIT campus security officer, carjacked an SUV, led police on a high speed chase into Watertown, engaged in a fire fight with over 200 rounds fired and several homemade grenades deployed. The older brother, 26, was killed in the shootout. The younger, 19, fled in the SUV and then on foot. Our governor shut down all transit and asked more than a million residents of Boston and several surrounding towns to shelter at home for most of the day while police conducted a massive, door-to-door grid search in Watertown. Shortly after the unsuccessful search was called off and the lock down lifted, a resident discovered a blood trail and the fugitive hiding in a trailered boat in his back yard. Another fire fight ensued when police arrived on the scene before negotiations led to a peaceful surrender. The community here played a pivotal role in locating these terrorists and can be Boston Proud. Law enforcement at the federal, state and local levels all appeared to cooperate fully, work tirelessly, and resolved the manhunt successful. I am very thankful that at least one brother survived so that we may learn what motivated their actions. This knowledge, I believe, will help provide some measure of closure for all who suffered due to their misguided actions.
Grief and sadness over the marathon bombings is being washed away by expressions of love and support. They are being replaced by a sense of resolve and determination. Boston is a city of strong people who refuse to be intimidated. When President Obama, speaking at a local church today, talked about next year’s marathon, every member of this community knew he was absolutely right when he predicted that it would be bigger and better than ever. I, for one, will be among the tens of thousands of first time spectators attending as a demonstration of support and to show that Monday’s act of terrorism did not achieve its objective. It has not made us fearful, rather it has revealed our courage, kindness, and generosity towards each other.
Tomorrow’s Boston globe will carry the following message from the employees of iRobot.
I am extremely pleased with this portrait of a Sharp-Shinned Hawk. I shot it early this morning, hand held with a 15-pound, 800mm lens and camera (trust me, this is no easy feat). It is hard enough to find these birds of prey, let alone in good light and an attractive setting. Shots like these provide the Pavlovian stimulus which has me dragging my heavy gear out into the woods at dawn and dusk each day.
I spent a portion of the day at an organizational design meeting with folks from my Systems Engineering, Integration and Test Department. We recently expanded the scope of the organization and nearly doubled its size by integrating members of our quality, configuration management and mechanical engineering teams. I have experienced great restructuring outcomes when employees are invited to participate in the design of the new organization and to self select into the framework. I was pleased to see this approach adopted by one of my direct reports who met offsite today for this purpose. I made brief introductory remarks, attended much of the morning session, and joined the team for lunch.
Nicolai, Maya and I treated Jeanine to her immediate family birthday celebration this evening. We dined at 80 Thoreau, arguably Concord’s best restaurant. By count this makes Jeanine’s 4th birthday celebration with at least 2 more to go.
A day that began with celebrations honoring the patriots who began the fight for our nation has ended in sorrow over the act of cowards who seek to tear it apart. I left early for work so I could observe a portion of the annual reenactment of the Battles of Lexington and Concord. I found a good perch near the Old North Bridge and made the best of my 30 minutes before needing to leave for work. On the remainder of my commute, I started thinking about ways to adjust my calendar so I could take a half day off to see the finish of the Boston Marathon, something I have never witnessed in the ten years since we have lived here. My calendar, however, was jam packed with meetings I could not afford to miss or defer. In retrospect, I feel very lucky that I was unable to get away. Had I taken the time off, my photographic sensibilities would have no doubt placed me near the finish line. While I count my blessings, I am filled with grief for all who have suffered this day.
I am also filled with sadness knowing that my children are experiencing a world that is very different from the one I grew up in. A world in which innocent children are slaughtered at school and families cheering on their loved ones are blown to pieces. I am sorry that I have not done more to make the world a better place and hope I can do more with the years I have left.