Category Archives: A Day In The Life…

Word Origin

Every once in awhile I am stunned at the origin of an extremely obvious word. This week’s word?


I didn’t interact with hummingbirds until Jen and I put up a feeder last summer. It was a huge success and we regularly have a couple hummingbirds either sitting at or hovering around the feeder. Recently, we were sitting on the deck and a hummingbird flew up and hovered in front of us.

Only then did I realize that hummingbirds hum.


I have a question.

Regularly when I interact with strangers they comment on my obviously Italian last name. It almost always comes from a fellow Italian and usually takes its form as some sort of positive association occasionally with Italian language thrown in.

“An Italian! Molto Bene!”
“Ahhh, your name ends in a vowel. That’s always a good thing.”
“DiDonato! Excellent name!”

Really, these are pretty odd statements. I always presumed that they were just a form of small talk focusing on a shared characteristic. But recently I wondered: do other cultural names illicit the same kind of responses? If you’re last name is Muller do Germans on the street applaud your shared heritage? How about French with Archambault or Irish with O’Sullivan?

Any experience on this matter from the readership?


I recently completed an 11 day adventure in Dusseldorf, Germany for work. Jen zipped over and met me here where we circled through Europe on a mini-adventure. (We’re going to take pictures and put some clues together to make a game out of guessing our itinerary – but that’s for another day)

Day two of this trip included a trip to the ballet. Traditionally, the idea of a ballet instills visions of tutus and plies. This ballet was much more modern. It consisted of three movements. My favorite was the first, but I could only find a clip of the third (Chroma) on YouTube. Chroma was orchestrated to the music of the white stripes. It was a jagged and sharp with obviously foggy gender roles.

YouTube Preview Image

I found it bizarrely wonderful. After each 20 minute performance we applauded through multiple dancer bowing sessions. And dang-it, my arms got tired. There we were watching dancers perform absurd feats of human strength and flexibility, and my arms get tired from 2 minutes of clapping.


Bluebirds vs. Wrens

There are four classes of animals:

Adorable kindhearted animals
Hideous kindhearted animals
Adorable jerks
Hideous jerks

Wrens are adorable jerks.

A month or so ago Jen and I put up a bluebird house. Much to our delight, a cute bluebird couple started moving in within the first week of its completed construction. Tirelessly, our two brightly colored feathered friends carefully selected strands of hay and grass from our backyard and brought it to the house. For a few weeks, everything was idyllic.

Then the wren came to town.

Wrens are cute ping-pong ball sized birds with perky tails and a charming wandering song. I first noticed the Wren as he sat on our bird bath, flittering and splashing before skirting off back into the woods. The Wren’s song melts hearts with its complicated twists and trills. Yet underneath the cute facade: the worst of offenders.

Wrens are home-wreckers. They find nests of other birds and unload a heap of sticks on top. If there are eggs the wrens crack them open and kick them out of the nests. The worst part? Male wrens go on a nest marauding campaign, wrecking four or five nests in a region. His ruthlessness is rewarded by a particular female Wren who visits the destroyed nests and chooses one. I can only imagine her choice is based on some hellish schadenfreude. The unchosen nests are abandoned completely, left as warnings… or perhaps trophies of the violence and humiliation of the weaker and the less fortunate.

Thankfully, our bluebird nest had no eggs. But it was heartbreaking to see the brightly colored birds approach the birdhouse and leave in emotional dismay at their lost efforts.

Wrens are huge jerks.


WOW. I have been so bad at posting it is disgusting. I am appalled at myself.

Today’s Five Things:

1. I have about 4 cheese posts to update
2. Things in the office are slow, we’ve been granted furlough once a week. I’m taking advantage of the time to try and get yardwork and guitar practicing done
3. Part of #2’s yardwork is a garden that Jen and I built last weekend. We will grow tomatoes and other vegetables of justice.
4. Since my last post, I have eaten so many raviolis. Soooo many.
5. Tonight we go to a bird of prey presentation. I am stoked.


I’m pleased to report the addition of a Nest Thermostat to the DiDonato home! While perusing the local papers a few weeks ago, Jen found a remarkable deal to get a free Nest with any solar consultation. We’ve been thinking about solar anyway so it seemed like an obvious choice. We signed up, enjoyed our consultation, and waited patiently for the mail.

This week the Nest arrived. It’s sleek and sexy on the wall and so far? I can’t decide if it’s better art or thermostat.

Honestly, I love the idea of the Nest but I’m not entirely convinced that it is worth the high price-tag. It has some potentially awesome features which could certainly prove their value: auto-away, adjustment of temps according to local weather conditions, and the peace of mind of never forgetting to turn down the thermostat during a vacation. But $250 is a LOT to spend on a Thermostat, especially if you’re already pretty good about keeping an eye on your utilities. Perhaps the most notable thing about the Nest is that I’m excited about the Nest. The Robot-ification of any device in my home is bound to get me excited, but perhaps the elegance of this tool is really its greatest attribute.

I’ll keep tabs over these next weeks/months and provide continued feedback.

Hooded Merganser

Jen and I are up to our ears in bird feeders. The current collection includes:

Shucked Sunflower Seeds
and a special Bluebird mix

Our five feeders reside just outside our breakfast nook window and we’ve taken great joy in our daily feathered visitors. For the most part, these visitors are recycled. We see the same seasonal birds over and over.

This past weekend, however, our eyes were diverted to an unexpected source: ducks.

I have never been interested in ducks. I think it’s because of their size. They don’t have the endearing smallness of a Pheobe and they don’t have the impressive grandeur of a heron or a hawk. Ducks are pretty middle of the road. This weekend that lackluster appeal took a dramatic turn.

Our backyard is framed by a large water hazard. It falls somewhere between the characterization of pond and marsh. On Saturday a flash of white coasting across the water caught my eye… it was a hooded merganser.

The hooded merganser has a giant bright white hooded head. It’s so odd-looking that it ignited in me an immediate deep interest in ducks. I pulled out my telescope, found my camera mount, and desperately tried to take pictures – but was grossly ineffective. Every evening since, I’ve been looking out trying to spot the return of the hooded merganser with no avail.

Even if it doesn’t return, I’m grateful that the hooded merganser has inspired me to delve into the ducks chapter of my Peterson’s Field Guide.

Dataless Day 25

On one of my carpool trips from work a few weeks back, Sander and I had a great idea. It’s an event that would occur once every few months – perhaps quarterly. The event’s title:

Interesting Evenings.

The idea came about we discussed Sander’s experiences with his debate team in high school. Then it dawned on me: we should have a debate! We could invite people over and have a formal debate with judging and the whole thing! Sander cleverly recommended that in order for it to succeed it would be best to mix seriousness and comedy. For example, we could have one debate on the death penalty and another on Miracle Whip vs. Cains.

Other ideas for interesting evenings? Perhaps a craft evening, an auction, or a series of lectures. Anyone else have a good recommendation?

Aside: Three days left of datelessness. Stay tuned for the March recaps.