Catching up 2 – frogs

Off I went to a frogger’s get-together – lovely frog room, good pizza, great company.

Epipedobates tricolor Highland


Allobates femoralis – two of my passions reference LBJs (little brown jobs). I like them in both instances – there’s always something that rewards close inspection. Here, it’s flash marks on the thighs (not seen below, but obvious here).


Madagascar has Mantellas – small frogs similar in some ways to the neotropical poison dart frogs. I’d like to put together a large Malagasy biotope vivarium – a Mantella species, a few Phelsuma of some type, and maybe a group of Uroplatus. (Also a Platycerium madagascariense + Cymbididiella rhodochila, but they won’t move around much.)

Mantella milotympanum


One wall of the frog room.

Citroen XM Transporter with Maserati on top

This popped up in my Flickr contact stream and just has to be posted. The beauty of front wheel drive: no pesky back-end drive train to fuss over. That being said, I wonder how M. Tissier dealt with the computer-controlled hydraulic suspension – I’m hoping he added more XM components and hacked the control system.

Maserati transport...


Maserati Bora on top, I think.

Catching up 1 – tracks

Breaking the long posting hiatus with some pictures from weekend activities.

I took a long scouting walk around a salt marsh a couple weeks back and chanced upon this set of tracks in the snow. My theory is that they show a coyote’s attempt to drag down a white-tailed deer. He wasn’t successful here, but I didn’t follow the tracks to find out what happened next – I was like a horse that knows the barn is thataway – heading for the truck!


Flying Merkel

As mentioned before, I have a soft spot for these beasties.


Road or track, it was difficult to ignore a Flying Merkel, and not just because of the brand’s signature bright-orange paint. Merkels displayed perhaps the finest engineering of early American motorcycles, with components that were literally years ahead of their competitors.

Credit for that goes to founder Joseph Merkel, a self-trained machinist who went on to study mechanical engineering at university. A motorized tricycle he built in 1900 is credited with being one of the first self-propelled vehicles in Wisconsin. Soon after he was in the business of selling motorcycles. Where others were happy with bronze bushings inside their engines, Merkel insisted on German-made ball bearings, which quickly led to a reputation for reliability. Likewise, in contrast to the standard atmospheric pressure intake valves, Merkel designed a cam-actuated valve mechanism for both intake and exhaust. He also developed a throttle-dependent engine oiler way before Harley or Indian adopted that useful feature.

Merkel then turned his attention to suspension. Bone-jarring rigid frames wouldn’t do for Flying Merkel customers, so he designed telescoping systems at both ends with concealed springing. The so-called Spring Frame and Spring Fork gave his bikes an unsurpassed ride, leading to the advertising slogan, “All Roads are Smooth to The Flying Merkel.” The forks in particular were so good that many a competitor’s bike turned up wearing a complete Merkel front end! *

Via Hemmings.