"wildflower" isn't just another name for native flowers.
This summer, I learned that "wildflower" isn't just a another name for native flowers.
A wildflower, it turns out, is a flowering plant that hasn't been messed with genetically. It's a flower that grows without anyone planting it on purpose. You'll find them popping up in the woods, meadows, mountains, and anywhere they've adapted to grow.
I see a lot of different flowers when I'm hiking in the woods. Some are native, and some are non-native. Native plants are the desired ones because they do more than look pretty. They're food for animals (us included), help keep the air clean, and stop the soil from washing away. They fit into their ecosystem so well that they don't usually spread beyond the edge of what the ecosystem can handle.
Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota) is one of the non-native wildflowers I often see around the Sourland Mountain area. Originally from the Old World's temperate regions, it probably got here thanks to the Dutch farmers who settled here in the 17th century.
These flowers aren't showy – just small and dull white bunched together. They bloom from May to September. And as the seeds get ready, the edge of the bunch curls up and goes all concave. Once they dry up, they break off and roll around like tumbleweeds.
A few weeks ago, after several months of study and hours of practise tests, I was scheduled to sit the Cloud Certified Security Professional (CCSP) on 28 August. To build my career and prove my skills, I wanted to earn a globally recognised cloud security certification. But the testing centre had some issues with the roof, the testing centre cancelled the test last minute, and I had to reschedule for 18 September. I was disappointed but went back to preparing myself for the exam which I took this morning.
After the ISC2 officially validates my test score, I'll update my LinkedIn profile.
But this is the worst test-taking experience I have ever had. The testing centre is inside a small office in the Princeton Forrestal Village.
The reception staff asked us to wash our hands as soon as we entered the testing facility, which is not a CDC recommendation for preventing the spread of COVID, so I suspect this is just Security theatre. But what the hell? Clean hands are not a hassle. We had to be vaccinated to take the test, but the testing centre required that we wear a face mask while in the waiting room (30 min) and during the exam (3 hours). That was a challenge.
I get anxious when my face and mouth are covered. Even when I had my radiation treatments for Graves Eye Disease (2019) and had to wear a mesh mask over my face, it was only possible because they dosed me up on Xanax first. I do not recommend taking Xanax before sitting an exam.
At one point, while in the waiting room before the exam, my heart started racing. I got up and went outside. By wearing the face mask, I added to my usual test anxiety. Fortunately, I remembered my deep breathing exercises from when I had hyperthyroidism (2018). That, combined with an intense focus on the test questions, helped me make it through. That is the longest I have ever worn a face mask. PearsonVUE determines these safety requirements.
We endured a pre-exam authentication procedure that made me feel like a criminal. I endure two palm vein scans, two scans for each hand, presented two forms of identification (I used my passport and New Jersey drivers license), sat for a photograph (the type they use in mug-shots), removed all clothing not attached to my body, locked them in a locker, turned out my empty pockets to show that I had no hidden items, etc. The admin told me that sometimes they also do a pat-down.
Then after that first authentication procedure, we were asked to get into another queue behind an opaque wall. We had to show ID again, turn our pockets again, and have our palms scanned again. The exam proctor informed us that the exam room had audio and video recording. I was allowed to enter the exam room with my insulin pump (federal ADA laws), but not my blood glucose testing kit or hard candy (in case I got hypoglycaemia). Before the test would start, I had to read and acknowledge a non-disclosure agreement regarding the test itself.
At the end of the test, I raised my hand, got the proctor and bolted for the exit. The admin staff reminded me to get my stuff from the locker and handed me my test result. I crumpled it up, stuffed it in my pocket and got out.
If they insist on in-person testing, then the ISC2 needs to find a mask-less process. I recommend they move the exam online.
Bhavana and Shaan were excited about my accomplishment. We decided to visit Flounder Brewing for a celebratory ale and rustic pizza from Testo.
Friday 17 September 2021
Wednesday 15 September 2021
When Kiran was born, Bhavna and I were sleep-deprived zombies from taking care of her "still in a diaper" 18-month-old sibling, Shaan. Bhavna had a long exhausting labour experience. My right hand was nearly crushed by providing father support. Father's are so useless. When the nurse requested that I complete the requisite birth registration paperwork, I ended up with some creative spellings for our newest experiment's name.
I spelt Kiran, a gender-neutral Hindi name meaning "ray of light", with a "y", as Kyran, an Irish Celtic male first name meaning "little dark one". Oy! Not at all flattering and the opposite meaning of what we intended.
Kiran learned to spell her name with the "i", which caused issues when she started kindergarten. Why are Americans, predominantly white and black Americans, so bad at pronouncing non-Western normative names? It's not like Asians haven't lived in the USA for centuries. Our district is nearly 40% Asian, so this bothered me. She had more problems later on at college with paperwork, etc.
Recently, I went online looking for how to legally change her name to set her right before things got worse.
All games that are luck driven are strictly a waste of time after the age of six. Sorry, Chutes and Ladders, Trouble, and War are all on the list. I’m on a warpath against these games. Now, I do play these games on occasion. I have a four year old. These games serve their purpose to introduce young children to games. Children can learn basic rule structures socially and technically. There is nothing better to teach them about the unfairness of life. Having them lose at something that they had no control over anyway.
Beyond that they are useless.
Have you ever seen someone get excited when they beat you at one of these games? Pathetic. You won at a game… of pure chance. There wasn’t a shred of skill used in that victory. Can you even call it a victory? I could have played that game by myself. Your presence wasn’t even required for my loss.
The John Clyde Memorial Native Grassland Preserve, formerly the Griggstown Native Grassland Preserve, is a nature reserve and bird reserve located in Griggstown, an unincorporated community within Franklin Township, New Jersey. I visited the Preserve for the second time last November and for the first time in February 2019. This time Bhavna accompanied me. I have finally got around to posting the images.
The Preserve's meadow is 102 acres, and another 345 acres is woodland. The Preserve connects to 218 acres of the Ten Mile Run Greenway - the Bunker Hill and Franklin Park Natural Areas. It is home to many migratory birds and dozens of other birds and animals that make their permanent home in the surrounding wetlands. Some species found on this meadow include:
Grasshopper Sparrow and Bobolink (both New Jersey state threatened species)
American Kestrel and eastern box turtle (both New Jersey special concern species)
Short-eared Owl (New Jersey special concern species - non-breeding)
The township has engaged in extensive habitat restoration activities to assist these species, including removing 5,800 feet of fence and hedgerow - a vital step in creating 102 acres of meadow. The meadow is restored with a mixed planting of native grasses and native wildflowers. The Preserve has six trails through restored grasslands and mature forests.
Some local Eagle Scout projects have included constructing a kiosk, trail construction and marking, building a Barn Swallow nesting structure, and placing Bluebird and bat nesting boxes throughout the western portions.
There are no restrooms on-site.
This is another set of images that I forgot to post. I don't remember all the details but one day in November, after we expected that some of the snow had melted and that the ground might be dryer, Bhavna and I took a hike around the Meadow, Pond and Stony Brook Trail Loop.