Saturday, April 28, 2007

A Great Horned Owl (minus the guns & handcuffs) = Scrait man!

Some of you might have heard about, (or witnessed) the Great Horned Owl that we saw just last week out on the biology trails. Thankfully, this trip didn't involve guns or handcuffs :) This is a picture that Jonathan Burishkin took. Enjoy :D

Thursday, April 26, 2007

A Look Into the Eyes of my Friends

P.S. If you don't see your eyes pictured (IF you can tell which eyes are yours), than that means that I just don't have a close-up picture of you. So send me one and I'll add it to my collection :D

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The ornithological trip that turned criminal!

When a good friend of mine asked if I wanted to go owling Wednesday evening of last week, I thought it would be a fun way to get a break from studying. Little did my friends (We'll call them Charlie, Linus, and Lucy*) and I know what was in store!

We arrived at the Chattanooga Audubon Society at about 8:10 pm. It had just closed 10 minutes before we arrived. But, of course, owls have no respect for fences or gates, and they certainly don't know when the Reserve closes so we parked outside the gate and turned up the owl sounds blasting from the speakers. Probably about 30-45 minutes later we began to hear a bird responding to the Great Horned Owl track. It would give a high screech (I'm not sure what the ornithological way of describing owl calls is) in reply to the high screech on the track. We waited about another 20 minutes listening and trying to pinpoint its location.

According to our personal field expert, Charlie, owls had been known to fly right up to cars that were emitting owl calls from their speakers. But this owl must have found a nice comfy branch to perch on and it was content to just screech back in response without getting any closer. Eventually we decided to go into the reserve a little ways to see if we could get a glimpse of it. (Note: this involved crossing through a locked gate.) It was mostly dark at this point but there was still a little bit of twilight off in the distance. We walked across the parking lot and were standing on some train tracks listening to the owl that was very obviously calling from a branch just a little ways in front of us. Linus and I saw it fly a bit closer through the trees and land on a branch.

Charlie, Lucy, and I were just getting a little bit closer when we heard Linus calling. Mistakenly thinking that he was saying "The bird is flying! The Bird is flying!" We didn't notice anything was wrong until I looked back and saw multiple cars surrounding our car outside the gate. We later learned that Linus had been calling "Their's people coming! Their's people coming!" We began to walk back over to our car, confident that as soon as we told the police that we were just looking for owls then everything would be alright ...not so.

As we neared the police they started yelling at us to put our hands in the air. We weren't going to argue, especially after seeing their upheld guns, illuminated by their long, metal flashlights, pointing directly at us. We were then instructed to turn around and get on our knees. I heard them hand-cuffing Charlie and Linus, who were behind me, and then my hands were jerked behind me and put in the metal cuffs. Not sure whether to laugh or cry, I dubiously knelt on the muddy ground.

Next they were yelling at us to tell them where the fifth person was. We replied that there were only four of us but they would not be convinced. "WHERE IS THE FIFTH PERSON?" they barked. "Somebody better tell me something or I'm gonna shoot somebody!" one policeman warned. That got me surprised. Why were they threatening to shoot us anyway!? "We know there's a fifth person because the guy that called you all in said there were five of you. WHERE IS THE OTHER PERSON!?" After responding multiple times that there were only four of us they stopped asking and searched around the area looking for signs of burglary and the alleged fifth person. Needless to say they didn't find anything.

Next they demanded to know what in the world we were doing. Linus, struggling to keep a straight face, replied that we were looking for owls. They loved that one. I think they were having a hard time grasping the fact that the extremely loud calls sounding from Charlie's car were actually owl sounds and we actually were there for the sole purpose of trying to find owls. After repeating the question several times and getting the same answer from all of us, they finally began to believe us. "You mean to tell me that you are out here, in the dark, at 9:15 at night trying to find owls!?" one officer incredulously asked. "Yes sir" we replied. He said the words "nine-fifteen" as if it were two in the morning. I was beginning to wonder just when these officers thought owls came out. Certainly not at noon when the sun is blazing down! Sometime during all this the policemen got really annoyed with the owl sounds that were still shrieking from the car so one of the policemen went and turned it off. Maybe they believed us then. Last I checked, cruising around with bird calls blasting from your speakers isn't exactly the most scrait thing to do!

Eventually the officers allowed Lucy and I to come over where the guys were (all still handcuffed) and they began to lecture us on the severity of our crime. After taking down names, collecting ID's, and asking ages, they removed our handcuffs and proceeded to expound upon the idiocy of our behavior. It turns out that we could have gone to jail because were trespassing and, according to the policeman, "beginning a burglary". I'm not so sure what he meant by that because we hadn't touched anything. Also, there weren't any "No trespassing" signs but I suppose we should have gotten the hint from the locked gate. I wouldn’t recommend trying this one at home!

While all this was happening, each one of us was responding in different ways. Linus couldn't keep a smirk off his face. I began to pray that he wouldn't crack up laughing because looked highly amused. Charlie has the most serious look on his face and we heard him humming a hymn. I couldn't see Lucy most of the time because she was beside and behind me. I was trying not to smile but at the same time I began to wonder what exactly these policemen planned on doing to us. When they threatened to shoot it really made me wonder what exactly they could legally do.

Eventually, after multiple warnings and stern scoldings, they let us go. The moment we got in the car and rolled up the windows, we burst out laughing. I've never had a gun pointed at me before. Definitely training for the end of time! Linus was disappointed that we didn't get to go to jail. I guess it's been an aspiration of his for a while now. Just imagine us in jail:
Big Tough Guy: "So, what are you in here for?:
Bible-preaching college ornithologists: "Birdwatching!"
Needless to say, it was quite the humorous event. If you ever decide to go Owling, make sure that you don't cross over any locked gates or you just might end up in handcuffs surrounded by gun-toting policemen.

This story of criminal ornithology reminds me of what God is NOT. God is not like the owl, screeching afar-off, giving us hints of what could be. He doesn't remain allusive when we search for Him. He comes right up to us (Just like what we wanted the Owl to do) and will live inside of us if we ask Him to. There does not have to be boundaries between us and our Savior. Sometimes we needlessly place our own dogmas and ideals as a gate, padlocked in selfishness. But God wants to rip those boundaries down. He's not going to stay on the other side like the owl. He will be right there when we cry out to Him, when we play our proverbial "owl calls". Don't be afraid to call out to Him. He will not fail to answer! Satan may try to throw in a few policemen with guns and handcuffs, but God IS there and He WILL see you through!

*Names have been changed

Thursday, April 05, 2007

An extended vacation for my phone :(

My phone recently decided that it needed to relieve some stress and take a vacation. It was tired of working all the time, day and night. It conveniently forgot to tell me (it's owner) where it was going. Do you think that was on purpose? Maybe it knew that I would just come searching and snatch it away from some sunny beach where it was working on it's reception capabilities.

I was lost without my dear friend. I couldn't even call Joel to tell him about my phone's vacation! It was a sad, sad day.

When my phone had soaked up enough radiation rays, it decided that it missed me and wanted to come back. And so it slipped back into my room and hid under some pillows on the floor. I was extremely distraught over the absence of my beloved phone and was overjoyed to find it's familiar, silvery form lying hidden beneath a pillow.

My phone and I have since talked it over and we are happy to be reunited. We are looking forward to your phone calls!