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csziggy's Journal
csziggy's Journal
January 8, 2015

Has anyone heard of the "21st Century Dems"?

I got a call from them the other night. They claim to be a progressive movement:

About Us
Our Mission

Since 1985, the mission of 21st Century Democrats has revolved around training progressives and building a network of populist Democrats who stand up for America’s working families.

We focus particular attention on Democratic leaders who can move up to higher office at every level and who represent the tradition of Democrats like Jim Hightower, Tom Harkin, Barbara Boxer, Raul Grijalva, John Lewis, Al Gore and Paul Wellstone. We support progressive Democratic leaders who will shape the direction of the Democratic Party and enact public policy that transforms this country to a just, fair and equal society for all.

Our Vision and Values

We are committed to leading the way toward a bold and progressive agenda that will improve the quality of life for all Americans. Our goal is to elect genuinely progressive Democrats who believe government has a positive role to play in our country and will fight to enact public policy that reflects the core values of equality, opportunity, compassion, justice and fairness that 21st Century Democrats believes in, stands up for, and works toward on a daily basis.

Our Strategies
Cultivating Leadership at Every Level

We educate young people who have shown a strong interest in politics and idealism about the future in grassroots organizing and field work. We have trained thousands of high school and college students, college graduates, and party activists, placing hundreds of them in their first political jobs in support of the progressive leaders we endorse. These results speak for themselves as many alumni have gone on to manage higher profile campaigns, become leaders in the progressive community, or even get elected as officials themselves.

Their front page features Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Bill de Blasio, Al Franken, Jeff Markey, and more people I read favorable things about here.

According to Wikipedia, they were started by "Senator Tom Harkin, commentator Jim Hightower and Congressman Lane Evans to help elect "progressive" or "populist" candidates." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/21st_Century_Democrats

21st Century Democrats started out relatively small but has quietly grown in size and significance in the last few election cycles."[2] In 2004 election cycle, according to the Political Money Line, it was the 13th largest Political Action Committee (PAC) in the United States raising nearly $7 Million. Among progressive ideological PACs, it ranked fourth behind America Coming Together, EMILY's List, and MoveOn.org.

Unlike traditional PACs, 21st Century Democrats focuses on recruiting, training, and hiring field organizers to organize grassroots campaigns on behalf of candidates for local offices, statewide office, and even targeted presidential swing states.[3] The group has ties to Democracy for America, which grew out of Howard Dean's presidential campaign.

I'm curious because I like the sound of the organization but I had not heard of it until they called me asking for donations. I'd love to know more about them, especially first person experiences!
January 6, 2015

Just heard a great horned owl calling

Loud enough to hear over the TV, computer and other noises in the house with the windows closed! When I stuck my head outside, it was probably down in the woods, nearly a quarter of a mile from the house, but the sound carries.

This is exciting since it's been at least 20 years since I have heard (or seen) a great horned owl here on the farm!

It was very low pitched, very much like in the middle clip on this page:

January 5, 2015

Went to St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge for New Year's Day - PICTURES!

And we got to see some birds! Unfortunately, it was a very gray day so the lighting wasn't good, but we did add one species to our life list - picture later.

The first few were taken by Mr. csziggy with our now ancient Nikon D70 DSLR with the zoom lens.

This shot shows what much of St. Mark looks like - with an American Egret in the foreground:

Another American egret, slightly different swamp location:

American coots:

This Great Blue Heron was way out in the middle of a large pond and caught this huge frog while we were watching - this is just about the limit of the 300mm zoom on the Nikon:

Compare to this shot I got with my little Fujifilm FinePix S4500 with a 30x zoom which has VR:

The coots above and this coot were just below the viewing stand at the big pond:

All over the pond were large flocks of coots grazing on the dickweed - and there were some ducks hanging out with them. In the middle of this shot are a couple of male green wing teals. This is the first time we've seen them and verified the species!

In the same group of coots as the green wing teal ducks there were some American Wigeons - another first for us!

On the far side of the pond, there was a large group of some kind of herons. Unfortunately, it was really past the ability of our cameras to get any good shots. I think, after looking at the high resolution version of this shot the birds may be immature little blue herons - they are white and then gradually change. In this group, there are a few bird with darker heads and gray on their backs. There is also an alligator.

And of course, here is the lighthouse at St. Marks. In the foreground is a tricolor heron. The solitary bird is a pied billed grebe and the flock of ducks on the spit to the left are black scooters.

Close to the boat ramp we spotted this snowy egret working the bank:

We were all startled when this pied billed grebe popped up right in front of the snowy:

And then he popped right back down - these shots are 6 seconds apart:

The snowy seemed to have been following the progress of the underwater grebe - I bet the grebe was scaring fish towards the shore:

Final shot of the day - a little blue heron:

It's been a long time since we've been birding or taking pictures. Obviously we need practice at both but we had a fun day.

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Hometown: Leon County, Florida
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