Look Up! Keep Your Eyes Towards the Sky Tonight

Will we or won’t we?   The word around campus is that we may have a chance of seeing Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights, TONIGHT!

Be on the look out.  It is a sight not to be missed.  Fingers crossed.

And…by the way….what was up with tonight’s sunset.

Unreal….sadly, this photo doesn’t even come close to doing it justice!IMG_7264

Endangered Pied-billed Grebe Encounter

In the dim light of daybreak at first glance I thought the diminutive duck was somehow related to the female mallard. Both were inconspicuous and camouflaged amongst the cattails. Mrs. Mallard was preening and standing on one leg, a thing birds do to regulate their body temperature, and Mystery Duck was actively diving all around her. As the light grew brighter with the rising sun it was easy to see that they weren’t at all akin; Mystery Duck’s bill was shorter and chunkier when compared to the Mallard’s bill, Mystery was half her size, and its perky cotton white tail feathers were unmissable. The Mallard flew off eventually and our Mystery then traveled away, deeply diving and then reemerging some distance further, staying close to the shoreline and always well hidden.

Pied-billed Grebe Massachusetts mallard ©kim Smith 2014

Side-by-side comparison: Pied-billed Grebe, left, female Mallard, right.

The Pied-billed Grebe is rarely seen breeding in Massachusetts any longer and is listed as endangered in nearly every New England state. Rhode Island considers the Pied-billed extirpated (locally extinct). The reason for their decline is low breeding numbers and wetland degradation. Their feathers are thick and soft and were used to make hats and earmuffs during the 19th century. Wantonly hunted to near extinction, Pied-billed Grebes never fully recovered in our region. As wetlands have given way to development, the Pied-billed Grebe’s numbers continue to decline dramatically. They are extremely sensitive to human disturbances, and, too, are less likely to be seen as it is a nocturnal bird, traveling mostly during the night.

Pied-billed Grebe Massachusetts -2 ©kim Smith 2014Fluffy Cottontail

A fun fact about the marsh-nesting Pie-billed is that both male and female contribute to building what at first appears to be a floating nest in vegetation, near open water. The nest is actually a platform anchored to plant stalks.

I wonder if this Pied-billed is a fall migrant or if on Niles Pond, Pied-billed Grebes were nesting this season. Has anyone else documented or seen a Pied-billed Grebe at Niles Pond during the past few months?

Niles Pond Gloucester ©Kim Smith 2014

Niles Pond is Ideal Pied-billed Grebe Habitat

See previous GMG post for more information about why birds stand on one leg.

See more photos and audio links here ~
Continue reading “Endangered Pied-billed Grebe Encounter”

Rubber Duck Tech Tip: The New Watch

I kept this hidden for two years …

So Apple has come out with a smart watch. The question is, are you going to buy one and will Apple sell these like hot cakes? My verdict to those two questions, maybe and yes.

Do I need to know all the time a new text has come in, a new email? Me? No. That is a short leash. I can go the whole day not turning my iPhone on. But others might have a different take. The maps, the photos, the all sorts of stuff this smart watch does is very cool. It does do one thing, make that two. 1) It just destroyed all the other smart watches out there. They are toast. This watch has also sucked all the oxygen out of the room for the fitness dongles, Fitbit etc.. Dead dongles walking.

So you come home, take your phone out and put it on a charger. Now you have a watch that needs charging too, maybe every night. It has a slick easy charge interface. It would be nice if Apple did the same thing to the phone and their laptops. A string of silver medallions to link all the things need charging. Might have to wait until version 2.0 before I dive in. Battery life is going to be a problem.

But what else did Apple announce? Big new iPhones. Gonna get me one of those, maybe even the aircraft carrier to make Joey happy. Apple also is boosting the iOS (phone operating system) to 8. I have been beta testing Apple’s Yosemite (new MacBook OS) and it is going to be kick ass linked to an iOS 8 phone.

Anything else? Oh yeah, maybe the biggest thing. The mobile payment system. OK, Android had NFC but Apple will make it work. Imagine not dealing with cashiers ever again. That seems ridiculous. But remember before ATMs when you had to wait for a bank teller at least once a week? When they first came out some people thought ATMs were silly and unsafe. You might have been one of them. Same with this.

[edit] Here is the best article I have found that explains the details of Pay. I had to read it through twice to get the simple reasons why it is going to kick butt. No more money, no more credit cards, no more wallet. Just your iPhone or your Watch, a fingerprint ID and you bought it.

Cape Ann Symphony 63rd Season Opens on Saturday September 27

Cape Ann Symphony proudly announces the launch of the orchestra’s 63rd Concert Season on Saturday, September 27 at 8 pm with A Night At The Opera! featuring an exciting program of opera favorites performed by rising young stars of the opera world.. The orchestra’s new season features the Cape Ann Symphony Chorus in the annual Holiday Pops Concert in November, world renown pianist Cape Ann’s own David Deveau in March 2015 and  father daughter duo of Richard and Erin Svoboda in double concerto for clarinet and bassoon in May 2015. Music Director and Conductor Yoichi Udagawa is eager to open the CAS’s new concert season, “The incredible musicians of the Cape Ann Symphony and I are very excited about the musically thrilling and challenging 63rd season of the orchestra. We have everything from fantastic singers who will be joining us for A Night At The Opera, an amazing chorus who will be singing along at the Holiday Pops concerts, magnificent pianist David Deveau returning to play Beethoven to our final with a dynamic father/daughter pair playing a gorgeous concerto written by Boston based composer Michael Gandolfi for Mother’s Day. The support of our ever growing audiences inspires us, and we are looking forward to presenting concerts that will move and excite the heart and lift the spirit. Thank you for your support and see you soon!” All Cape Ann Symphony Concerts are held at the Manchester-Essex High School auditorium on 36 Lincoln Street in Manchester-by-the-Sea. The Cape Ann Symphony opens the 63rd season with A Night At The Opera! On Saturday, September 27, 2014 at 8:00 pm at the Manchester-Essex High School Auditorium on 36 Lincoln Street in Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA. Manchester-Essex High School Auditorium is handicapped accessible. Ticket prices are $35 for adults, $30 for senior citizens, $20 for Young Adults and Free for children 18 years old and under.  For information, call 978-281-0543 or visit www.capeannsymphony.org

Performance:                Saturday, September 27, 2014                  8:00 P.M.

Cape Ann Symphony kicks off their 63rd season with A Night At The Opera! featuring BIZET, MOZART, PUCCINI, ROSSINI, VERDI and more thrilling opera favorites sung by Mara Bonde, soprano; Krista River, mezzo; Ethan Bremner, tenor; and Thomas Jones, baritone .

Performance: Saturday, November 29, 2014               8:00 P.M.
Performance: Sunday, November 30, 2014                 2:00 P.M.

The Cape Ann Symphony’s annual Holiday Pops Concert is an exciting celebration of holiday music favorites to kick off the holiday season on Saturday, November 29 at 8 pm & Sunday, November 30 at 2 pm. The concert features Cape Ann Symphony Chorus under the direction of Rockport’s Wendy Betts. as well as the orchestra performing Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker and Anderson’s Christmas Festival/Sleigh Ride plus an updated audience sing-along.

Performance:                Sunday, March 22, 2015        2:00 P.M.

Pianist David Deveau returns to Cape Ann Symphony to play Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 on Sunday, March 22 at 2:00 pm. He most recently performed Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with Cape Ann Symphony in March 2013. Having appeared as a soloist with numerous symphony orchestras in many of the world’s leading concert venues, pianist David Deveau has been acclaimed internationally for his expressive and poetic interpretations of repertoire.. Mr. Deveau serves as the Artistic Director of Rockport Music as well.. The March 2015 concert program also features the orchestra performing Brahms’ Symphony No. 2 and Weber’s Overture to Euryanthe.

Performance:                Saturday, May 9, 2015                    8:00 P.M.

Cape Ann Symphony welcomes the father and daughter team of Richard and Erin Svoboda to perform Michael Gandolfi’s Double Concerto for Clarinet and Bassoon. Melrose resident Richard Svoboda has been the principal bassoonist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and a member of the Boston Symphony Chamber Players since 1989. He is currently on the faculties of the New England Conservatory of Music and the Tanglewood Music Center. The Past and Present Concert features the orchestra playing Rossini’s Overture to Italian Lady in Algiers and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7. 


Manchester-Essex High School Auditorium: 36 Lincoln Street in Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA
Manchester-Essex High School Auditorium is handicapped accessible

Senior Citizens/$30.00
Young Adults/$20.00
Children Age 18 and Under/FREE
Season Subscriptions are Available.

For Information call 978-281-0543 or Visit www.capeannsymphony.org

Bluberry Cheese Danish


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 Blueberry Cheese Danish

Puff Pastry and preserved james are staple ingredient, in my freezer and pantry year round. This is one of my favorite go to quick and easy breakfast, brunch, or coffee time recipes, that I have been making for years. This puff pastry delight can easily be whipped up and served  in under an hour!


For Step-by-Step recipe details and photos click see more Continue reading “Bluberry Cheese Danish”

Friday September 12th , 2014 Cape Ann Weather…

Marine Forecast :
Today N winds 10 to 15 kt with gusts up to 20 kt… Diminishing to 5 to 10 kt this afternoon. Seas 2 to 4 ft.
Tonight NE winds around 5 kt…increasing to 5 to 10 kt after midnight. Seas 2 to 4 ft.

Beach Forecasts are Cancelled until next year May 18th , 2015….

Pod Cast Weather :

Hourly Temps :


Northern Lights Tonight Viewing Chances 65% look away from City Lights ! Pending sky cover conditions …
Take sum great snaps of the Aurora Borealis …

Photo courtesy Dan Russell

Green line indicates poss viewing and it’s just south of Cape Ann ….


OK So I’ve Had My Windows 8 Touchscreen Laptop For Well Over A Year Now. Anybody wanna Guess How Many Times I’ve Touched The Screen?

Am I alone on this?

I feel like Microsoft built Windows 8 thinking that every device needed to be used in the same way- a desktop, laptop, tablet and smartphone.  I don’t hate Windows 8 as much as when it first came out but I boot directly to the desktop now and avoid the metro UI at all costs.  All the laptops you buy now for Windows 8 are touchscreen.  Guess what?  I don’t want a touch screen laptop.  Sure, that’s alright for a tablet where you’re using it to mainly consume content but for a laptop or desktop where you are manipulating images and editing movies, I want real work tools which include a mouse and not a touch screen.

I haven’t touched the damn screen on my Windows 8 laptop unless it was inadvertently.   Am I alone on this?  Those of you with windows Laptops equipped with touchscreens, do you use the touch screen?  I’m not talking about tablets now, I’m talking about a touch screen enabled laptop.

The issue as I see it and I’ve said this from the first time I booted up a Windows 8 machine was that they dumbed down the laptop experience so it would integrate more seamlessly with the mobile and tablet platforms.  I would have preferred that they left the desktop operating  to be all out productive and powerful for content creators rather than dumbing it down for the tablet marketplace of media consumers.

Over a year in with Windows 8, given the chance I’d opt for a Windows 7 machine.  My favorite place to create content and edit for the blog is still on my desktop Windows 7 machine and it’s by a mile.  I can do things way more efficiently than any of the other devices or operating systems.

There’s talk of Windows 9 coming out soon, hopefully it will be closer to Windows 7 than Windows 8.

Community Stuff 9/12/14


PMC Kids Ride on Cape Ann This Saturday!

Hi Joey,

I searched GMG looking for the Cape Ann PMC Kids Ride coming up this weekend and found nothing, so I thought I would share.  Kids will have fun and raise money for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute through the Jimmy Fund! Here’s the info: http://northshorekid.com/event/cape-ann-kids-pmc-bike-ride

There will be a Post Ride Party for all participants with fun activities, refreshments, awards, raffles, music and more!

~Bill O’Connor
North Shore Kid


Dear Joey,

Could you run this poster again asap, for the Schooner Challenge this Saturday.

Thank you!


Gloria Parsons


Phyllis A. Marine Association

Mission: To promote the gill net fishing industry through the display and preservation of the fishing vessel Phyllis A.

2014 schooner challenge sail

Hi Joey!

My name is Meghan Stratton and I’m Lara Lepionka’s new service member at Backyard Growers. Our major fall event starts tomorrow and will go for the next couple weeks, so we were hoping you could post about it on Good Morning Gloucester. Below is our logo and a quick blurb about the events. I’ve also attached a few pictures of the sunflowers, squash, and pumpkins from Veterans that we’ll be harvesting tomorrow. Let me know if there’s anything else I should send or if there are any problems.

Thank you!!

School Garden harvest time with Backyard Growers this month!

Throughout the district over 1,300 elementary school students will harvest the vegetables they planted last spring as part of Backyard Growers Fall Harvest Days. At Veterans’, Beeman, Plum Cove and East Gloucester, students will harvest pumpkins, beans, squash, carrots, beets, potatoes, and sunflowers. The next day, each school’s cafeteria staff will roast up some of the veggies for the children to sample during lunch time! Since West Parish students are currently without a garden we will host a special harvest event for them at Burnham’s Field in partnership with local farmers, Cape Ann Farmers Market, Cape Ann Art Haven, and Sawyer Free Library. 

If you are a parent who would like to volunteer at your child’s school on the day of the harvest and/or on the day the harvest samples are served in the cafeteria please contact Meghan at meghan.stratton@foodcorps.org. Dates for each school are listed below:

9/10-9/11 Veterans

9/12 West Parish

9/15-9/16 Beeman

9/17-9/18 Plum Cove

9/25-9/26 East Gloucester

Learn more about Backyard Growers at www.backyardgrowers.org. And Happy Fall!