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Writer | Nature Photographer | Cyclist | Adventurer | Data Engineer | Data Analyst | Programmer

Birds, Wildlife, Nature, Conservation, and Photography

Many bobolinks disappeared from the field of near Kalmar Reservoir when a farmer cut grass for hay. Where have they and their little ones gone?

Bobolink with a mouthful of insects. © 2021 Randy Runtsch
Bobolink with a mouthful of insects. © 2021 Randy Runtsch

Merrily swinging on briar and weed,
Near to the nest of his little dame,
Over the mountain-side or mead,
Robert of Lincoln is telling his name:
Bob-o’-link, bob-o’-link,
Spink, spank, spink;
Snug and safe is that nest of ours,
Hidden among the summer flowers;
Chee, chee, chee.

— First verse of the poem, “Bobolink,” by William Cullen Bryant

In mid-May, I ventured west to explore and photograph landscapes and wildlife in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The region is known for Badlands National Park, Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park, Wall Drug, Devil’s Tower National Monument, and Deadwood. …

Data, Data Analytics, and Google

With Google Trends, Google has produced a data analytics package to understand people’s interests worldwide and locally. This story uses examples from motor car racing and popular sports.

Race car. Photo by Tim Carey on Unsplash

“Information is the oil of the 21st century, and analytics is the combustion engine.” Peter Sondergaard

Google indexes billions of web pages. In turn, the wildly popular Google Search allows people to find many of those pages based on keywords and operators. Also, Google stores data about searches and makes summary data available through its Google Trends site. The data can be viewed as visualizations. Users can also download the data for further use and analysis in Tableau, Microsoft Power BI, or other tools.

This story describes several examples of uses for Google Trends data. …

Olympics, Sports, and Cycling

Twenty-seven American cyclists will compete in road race, track race, BMX race, and BMX freestyle events at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo

Cycling road race. Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash.

Cycling has been an official Olympic sport since the first modern Games were held in Athens in 1896. This year, 27 American cyclists will compete in cycling events at the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo. The Games and cycling events will be held from July 23 through August 8, 2021.

Women and men will compete in these cycling events:

  • Road race
  • Track races — team sprint, sprint, keirin, team pursuit, omnium, and madison disciplines
  • Mountain bike race — cross-country discipline
  • BMX race
  • BMX freestyle — park discipline

Events and Athletes

The following sections describe the cycling events and American athletes. …

Money, Investing, and Finances

Investing can be complicated. Learn how to invest with these free resources.

Photo by Precondo CA on Unsplash

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” — Benjamin Franklin

Investing your money for growth can be challenging and involves risks. Fortunately, many organizations provide free fundamental investment learning resources. Following are a few good ones. Choose one or more of them to learn about investment products, their risks, and their potential rewards.

Corporate Finance Institute

The Corporate Finance Institute (CFI) is a provider of online financial modeling and valuation courses. Its Investing for Beginners page provides an introduction to investment products and how to invest.


Investopedia was launched in 1999 with a “mission to simplify complex financial information and decisions for…

Thank you for writing this story about the sad fate of the rhinos, Petrus. I look forward to reading more of your work.

Bicycles and Cycling

Long bike rides can be enjoyable and satisfying

Two miles of gravel road connected paved roads during a 100-mile century ride in Southeastern Minnesota. © 2021 Randy Runtsch
Two miles of gravel road connected paved roads during a 100-mile century ride in Southeastern Minnesota. © 2021 Randy Runtsch

Riding an imperial century is a primary goal for some recreational cyclists. Pedaling 100 miles may seem like a daunting challenge. But with good conditioning, planning, and a comfortable bike in good running shape, it can be fun and satisfying.

While I had pedaled hundreds of rides between one and 75 miles long, I rode my first three centuries during a 396-mile bike tour from Ely, Minnesota, into Wisconsin, and home to Rochester, Minnesota. Even though I rode the tour 25 years ago this month, it left an indelible impression in my mind. On the last day, I rode 105…

Bicycles, Randonneuring, and Adventure

Carry essential tools, supplies, and parts for long bike rides — just in case

The author during the 1200km Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP) in France in 2015The author takes a break on the 1200 km Paris-Brest-Paris ride in France.
The author during the 1200km Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP) in France in 2015. © Randy Runtsch

Whenever I get on my bike, I usually carry a tire pump, inner tube, tire levers, and multitool. The longer the ride is, such as a 1200 km grand randonneur, the greater the risk of equipment failure. Mechanical problems can result in lost time and expense, such as paying for an Uber or Lyft ride or a bus or train ticket. So, it pays to prepare.

Birds, Birding, Nature, and Photography

How does a bird get a name like dickcissel?

Since spring of this year, I have witnessed and photographed large numbers of dickcissels in fields, meadows, and prairies near my home in Southeastern Minnesota. Some grassy fields are equally populated with bobolinks and meadowlarks.

Male dickcissel. Photo by the author.
Male dickcissel. Photo by the author.

Birds are named in various ways. For example, some are named for people, while others are named for similar birds. But the dickcissel is named for its primary song, which sounds like “dick-dick-ciss-ciss-ciss.” You can hear it here.

Birds, Wildlife, and Photography

Believe it or not, indigo buntings are not blue

Male indigo bunting. Photo by the author.
Male indigo bunting. Photo by the author.

Some things are not as they seem. For example, prairie dogs are not dogs but rodents. Fireflies are not flies but beetles. A lead pencil does not contain lead but graphite. Likewise, male indigo buntings are not blue as they seem to be.

The feathers of male indigo buntings lack blue pigment. During the mating season, structures in the feathers of male birds reflect and refract light to make them appear blue. In winter, the males appear brown, as do the females year-round.

Randy Runtsch

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