On a short afternoon hike at Sanborn today, Dave and I decided to go
by the tiny koi pond near the visitors' center to see if any newts
were left this late into summer.
What a scene! In the current semi-drought, the pond has become a mud
flat, its surface
tracks and squirming with newts and crayfish trying to push
themselves out of the sticky mud.
In the few holes where the water was more than a couple inches
deep, fish flopped -- several 6-8" long golden koi plus something brown
but similarly large. A few of the newts thrashed in the water holes, too,
seemingly trying to get clean of the mud that coated them;
but most of the newts wriggled across the shallower mud flats,
heading nowhere in particular but looking very unhappy.
The crayfish seemed most numerous at the dryer edges of the pond,
pushing themselves laboriously up out of the mud with their claws
and dragging themselves across the mud.
Newts normally migrate, and can go surprisingly long distances
(miles) across land, so I think at least some of these newts will
survive. The fish, I must assume, are doomed unless someone rescues them.
I wonder if the rangers have considered selling the non-native
koi to someone who wants them, and replacing them with native fish?
Are there any fish native here this far upstream? Penitencia Creek
(at Alum Rock) has small fish (up to about 3" long), but it carries
more water in dry seasons than any creek near Sanborn.
What about the crayfish? Can crayfish survive long out of water,
bury themselves in mud (the ones here didn't seem too happy about
that idea) or migrate overland?
I suspect there will be some happy park raccoons tonight.
[ 21:21 Aug 21, 2008
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Chase sent us replacement MasterCards out of the blue. They came with
a brochure touting their wonderful new
feature. So convenient! You just hold the card near a reader
and it charges your account, no need for any of that pesky swiping
of cards or signing of forms!
Yes, it's RFID (Radio Frequency ID tags), the small low-power radio
transmitters also used by Walmart and various other retailers,
and in other applications such as company security badges/access cards
(and, unfortunately, new passports in quite a few countries).
It seems a little odd to me that Chase's marketing implies that most
people would think it's a good thing to have a credit card that
can be charged easily without even taking it out of your wallet ...
to have a card that can be charged from some distance away without
your even knowing about it.
It's apparently easy and cheap to build an RFID credit card skimmer:
Bruce Schneier has
several articles about it, and in a later article he
offers several links to articles on how to
your own RFID skimmer.
We called Chase right away and told them we didn't want the "Blink"
cards. They said we could keep our old, non-RFID cards and continue
to use them, and destroy the new ones. Whew!
Googling for links for this article, I found that we're not
the only Chase customers to want to decline Blink.
For anyone wondering how secure this technology is, the recent
debacle of the cracked Dutch RFID subway cards gives you an idea
Schneier, "Dutch RFID Transit Card Hacked";
Register, "Dutch transit card crippled by multihacks",
and a followup where the MBTA, Boston's transit agency,
the courts to muzzle three MIT students who were trying to present
a paper at Defcon on the security holes in the MBTA's RFID-based pay system.
For anyone who gets stuck with an RFID credit card, here's how to make an
wallet, and how to make an
[ 11:26 Aug 21, 2008
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