Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Cure For The Shopping Day Blues

Mr. Fenton has a problem with his wife. She likes to shop and he doesn’t. But he has found a way to cope.

And Chad at Pirates! Man your Women! has posted his methods .

Some examples:
Things Mr. Bill Fenton has done while his spouse was shopping in Walmart:

1. June 15: Took 24 boxes of condoms and randomly put them in people’s carts when they weren’t looking.

2. July 2: Set all the alarm clocks in Housewares to go off at 5-minute intervals.

3. July 7: Made a trail of tomato juice on the floor leading to the restrooms.

4. July 19: Walked up to an employee and told her in an official tone, ‘Code 3′ in housewares….. and watched what happened.
There are more, so go over there and read them.

(I'm gonna hafta remember some of these for the next trip to Wally World...or the mall.)

Working On My Own: Basment Work

I’m taking my time with the basement. Kinda feeling my way through the immediate portions like wiring the outlets and erecting partition walls. I’ve got the wainscoting up along the east and west walls and have run the wire to the outlets I’ve put there. It’s nice having the insulating foam walls to work with. Every 8 inches there's a plastic “stud” in the foam to which I can attach my furring strips and, later, my sheetrock.

Three horizontal furring strips were screwed to the plastic “studs” and electrical wire was run between the middle and top strip to attach the boxes which were carved out of the foam. Where the wire will run behind sheetrock, I used metal conduit to protect the wire from stray screws or picture hanging nails in the future. I attached the wainscoting, which is made of three foot long eight inch wide pieces of tongue and groove left over from the log cabin kit where it was used for the ceiling, to the furring strips using 1 1/4 brads and my pneumatic nailer.

Basement wainscoating; west wall
Here’s a portion of the west wall showing the wainscoting and a little bit of the conduit.
Wainscoating on east wall...
Here’s the east wall with another piece of conduit going from the wainscoting to the ceiling...about 5 1/2 feet.

Next I’ll be moving on to erecting the partioning wall that will separate my workshop from the family room area.

The Marauding Hordes

One of the more prolific flocks of birds attacking my feeders are the goldfinches.
Goldfinches on feeder
Since the begining of February I have had between 50 and 75 of these guys (and gals) at the sunflower and thistle seeds every morning. They are the sole posessors of the thistle feeder, however. They have to share the sunflowers with everybody else.


A friend of mine sent this along via e-mail. I tought I would share it with you.


A husband and wife came for counseling after 15 years of marriage. When asked what the problem was, the wife went into a passionate, painful tirade listing every problem they had ever had in the 15 years they had been married. She went on and on and on: neglect, lack of intimacy, emptiness, loneliness, feeling unloved and unlovable, an entire laundry list of un-met needs she had endured over the course of their marriage.

Finally, after allowing this to go on for a sufficient length of time, the therapist got up, walked around the desk and, after asking the wife to stand, embraced and kissed her passionately. The woman shut up and quietly sat down as though in a daze.

The therapist turned to the husband and said, "This is what your wife needs at least three times a week. Can you do this?"

The husband thought for a moment and replied,.. "Well, I can drop her
off here on Mondays and Wednesdays, but on Fridays, I fish."

Not Everyone's Life Is Dull

God, I live a dull life!

Not like Rulon Gardner.

Thank you God!

(from Drew Curtis’

Sunday, February 25, 2007

My Week In Review

It’s been a relatively quiet week at the Aerie. Terry and I cleaned out the larger storage unit and have only a few things left in the small one. Those will have to wait until I get some more work done in the basement as there’s little enough room to move about down there with furniture in the way as it is.

Monday and Tuesday I did some work in the basement. Wiring the outlets along the family room walls, installing the second half of the tongue-and-groove wainscoting, running the wires to the breaker box, purchasing the 2 x 4s for the stud walls that still have to be built, etc.

We went over to Wellsboro on Wednesday for diner and then attended the local Audubon Society meeting. They had a speaker discussing the proposed wilderness areas over in the Alleghany national Forest to the west of here. An interesting idea since there are so few acres of wilderness in the east. The major stumbling block appears to be the mineral rights which are still held by private companies and the presence of oil and natural gas in the area. With the price of those commodities rising, it’s unlikely that the rights will be given up cheaply or that the roadless areas in the proposals will remain roadless in the face of exploration. In any event, I made some contacts and expressed my interest in some field trips to learn the area’s birding hot spots, so to speak. Altogether an enjoyable evening.

Thursday was my big day as I finally went up to the Bolt Hole to clear away some of the snow from the Big Storm. Things didn’t go quite as I planned , however:
The Drive Up:

I took a quick trip up to the Adirondack Cabin (The Bolt Hole) on Thursday. I was hoping to beat the forecast snow that was due to a clipper moving along the PA-NY border so I started out at 0430 hours to travel the 240 miles. By the time I got to the Binghamton area I was sure I would beat the weather to the cabin as the forecasters had changed the start of the snow from 0600 to 1000 and I did, arriving at The Bolt Hole at 0830.

I have to admit there was a sh*tload of snow on the ground up there in the northlands. Not as much as over Oswego way but a bunch of it none the less. After nearly a week of sunny days, the four feet that my buddy Mark had reported had fallen was packed down to just about 30 inches. I had come up to gather up some things we left behind in December and to use the snow blower (Craftsman 9-hp with a 28 inch width) to clear my drive to the house and to the garage as well as Mark’s drive.

The Job:

Picture two sides of a rectangle with the corner positioned at my gate. One side goes to the garage, a distance of about 40 yards. The other, longer side goes to the house about 60 yards down that way. Mark’s drive (or at least the part to the collapsed culvert where I would have to stop) is another 50-60 yards or so.

I parked at the gate and trudged to the garage to get to the snow blower. Mark had already cleared the snow off the roof of the garage and it was piled nearly six feet deep between the garage and the barn. Luckily it was only four feet in front of the garage door. I kicked some snow away from the door handle and unlocked and opened the garage to see that beautiful red machine sitting there. Facing the wrong way.

I wrestled the behemoth around so it faced outward, filled the gas tank and plugged the electric start in. Pushed the button and she fired right up. I went to work hoping to get finished before the new snow started to fall—up to 6 inches was the prediction and it was due at any moment.

By 0900 I was slinging snow everywhere. Back and forth I went blowing white powder (it was still powder under a very thin crust) to the side. A few spots had drifted in such a way that the snow was actually above the 24 inch high scoop that feeds the machine and in some spots, like where Mark and I had walked across to the garage or where the street plow had made its deposits, there was a layer of packed snow at the bottom that wanted to lift the machine upward. I guided the machine as slowly as I could keeping it in first or second gear so it would have time to spew the snow to the side before being asked to take another bite. It was a long and noisy job. I went through three tanks of gasoline to get it finished and spent nearly four hours getting it done. Just as I was finishing, more snow started to fall from above. *sigh*

Putting the blower back in the garage, this time facing out, I checked to see what I wanted to load in the truck to take back to PA. I planned on sleeping overnight and shoveling snow off some of the cabin’s roofs before loading up and leaving Friday morning. I backed the truck up to the cabin door and went inside to see what was in there that had to go south.

The Disappointment:

That’s when I discovered the freezer door was ajar and that some mice had discovered the joys of frozen butter and venison meat. Fortuitously, the weather had been so cold that the food in there was still frozen. I put it all into plastic bags which I then placed in five-gallon buckets and covered with snow. I proceeded to put a large pot of snow on the stove so I could heat some water to clean all the mouse turds out of the freezer. But the gas would not light. The propane tanks on the north side of the house were buried in snow and I could only assume the regulator on the tank had sprung a leak in the cold. It happens when the gas is not used during very cold weather. Condensation in the regulator freezes and expands to create a leak. I’ve had it occur on the tanks for the travel trailer. Since it happens outside there is little danger but is a major PITA.

The Return:

The lack of a stove for cooking was the last straw. I could heat the place, as I usually do, with the wood burning stoves (3 of them) and I could cook in the toaster oven and/or microwave (never said it was a primitive cabin), but I had had it up to here. I packed what I could find in the house into the truck, pulled over to the garage and did the same there. Then it was adios. I drove out the gate and headed back to the Aerie in the falling snow. It was 1500 hours when I left the Bolt Hole and I made it back to PA by 1930. The weather wasn’t much of a factor until I got onto Route 6 in Bradford County. There, on some of the higher elevations, the snow had accumulated about an inch or two but then been packed to ice.

The Summary:

I drove almost 240 miles up, walked behind/wrestled a snow blower for four hours, spent an hour packing up the truck, and drove 240 miles back between 0430 and 1930. (I also spoke to the local lumberman about this and that and the other thing for nearly an hour. He complained about lumber prices, the vagaries of the weather (too warm in Dec., too snowy in the beginning of Feb., and, if the forecasts were to be believed, it would thaw too soon for him to get the logs out of the woods), the break downs of equipment he suffered when he could have been harvesting logs, and the skyrocketing price/value of land in the area. We had a good long talk. During which I nodded my head a lot.) I got a good bit of work done that needed to be done. There was still work I wanted to do but I was too ticked off to stay overnight.

Friday morning, Terry drove off to New Jersey for a hen party/stitching class with her lady friends. She was originally going to come back to the Aerie on Sunday night and then drive back to Newark Airport on Wednesday, but the forecast called for icy, snow covered roads and I insisted she stay at her mother’s and not make the drive 250 miles back over the Poconos or up Route 15 where the roads could be quite treacherous. She agreed to that and packed her bags for her trip to Chicago later this week.

So, for now, it’s just me, three cats, a couple of squirrels, and a few hundred birds here at the Aerie waiting for the weather to turn on us—again.

Bird Watchin' 5

As another winter storm approaches (several inches of snow and possibly some freezing rain/ice are predicted--oh joy)the birds have stepped up their activity at the feeders.

The blue jays, a mere gang of 4, have taken over the feeder on the rail of the covered porch. they'll come in and down every sunflower seed on the tray unless some movement on the other side of the glass door causes them to take off. Luckily, they seem to be morning birds and head off to parts unknown sometime after 10 AM. Their presence does seem to intimidate the smaller birds as the finches and juncos will take to the trees as soon as the jays show up. But once the jays commit to a feeder--well, the flock of smaller feeders moves into the others.

There must be between 50 and 75 goldfinches outside at this moment. The deck is swarming in birds and there are a dozen or more at the hanging feeder by the telephone pole. I've noticed an increase in the amount of yellow beginning to show on some individuals and hope this is a harbinger of spring.

Joining the goldfinches, the purple finches are starting to display more color, too. There aren't nearly as many of them at the feeders, only two or three dozen, but their larger size, purple heads and shoulders, and subtly shaded brown streak through the eye make them look quite dapper.

And speaking of dapper, the juncoes with their slate gray heads and backs, brilliantly white underbelly, and long tails with the white feathers on each edge appear to be dressed for a formal occasion.

The black-capped chickadees, the first to find the feeders, are still the most comfortable with my presence outside. While everyone else heads for the trees when I step out onto the deck, the chickadees will be the first to come back. They will feed at the tray as I'm filling the stick feeder a foot or to away. They flit in, look around, grab a seed, and flit out. I spilled some seed while filling the hangig feeder the other day and as I reached up to rehang the feeder, a chickadee landed at my feed to pick up a seed I had dropped.

Fewer in number are the two types of nuthatches. The white-breasted is the shyer of the two. The red-breasted is more like the chickadee in its brazenness.

The hairy and downey woodpeckers continue to hammer the suet feeders. I've seen as many as three of the downeys in the trees waiting their turn as a hairy feeds.

The tufted titmice are also feeding in small numbers at the hanging feeder by the telephone pole as are a very few cardinals.

I haven't seen the pilliated woodpecker this week, but its distinctive call and heavy hammering can be heard on occasion.

New this week:
The mourning doves have finally discovered the gravel and seed spillage under the deck. There are a dozen or so of these birds present every morning but they leave as soon as I'm up and about. Two or three gray squirrels have also ventured to the spilled seed and have even come up on to the deck, much to the consternation of the cats who would just love to go outside and engage these tree rats. I've spotted a red squirrel under the feeder by the telephone pole also. In the late afternoon/early evening the call of the barred owl can be heard. The distinctive "who cooks, who cooks for you all" call sometimes irritates the dog down the road to start barking.

With all the activity, I've been going through about two pounds of sunflower seeds a day, not to mention three to five pounds of thistle seed and one suet block a week. and

Friday, February 23, 2007

First they came for my Samoas.
Next it was Thin Mints….

Girl Scouts cut trans fats from cookies
The Girl Scouts have marked their 90th year in the cookie business by getting most of the artificial fat out of all varieties of their iconic treats, which had been under attack by a few health-focused consumer groups.
The change reflects a movement by the scouts in recent years to add an element of health consciousness to their annual bake sale.

This year, about half of all Girl Scout troops are also offering a sugar-free cookie called the Little Brownie. A cookie with reduced saturated fat, the Cartwheel, was also introduced last year

I will go on the record right now: Just keep your hands off my Toll House Chocolate Chips. Those you will have to pry from my cold, dead hands!

Darwinism At Work

To paraphrase a quote from one of my favorite movies, Tremors, “Picked the wrong gol-darned tour group, didn‘t you!” Elderly Tourist Kills Mugger With Bare Hands

No word in the article as to which service the 70 year old gentleman retired from, but if he was in long enough to be considered “retired” by the AP, and if the group did, in fact book the tour together it’s likely that several others in the party were “retired” military…well, the three idiots who attempted to rob them were lucky. Just saying, it could have been three DOA instead of one.

(Also reminds me of the scene in Presidio where the “elderly Colonel played by Sean Connery is being harassed by the big good ‘ole boy and has to take care of business, “But I’m only going to use this one thumb…”)

Update: This version of the story , from Reuters, says the gent is a retired Marine. (There are no ex-Marines—except Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Murtha. But that’s another story.) It also mentions the robber (Which robber? “The dead one.”) pulled a .38 and that was what ticked off the tourists.

I love this final line: “After the attack, they put Segura's body on their bus and found a police officer in Limon to report the incident.” Heh. “Excuse me officer. We seem to have injured this POS when he tried to pull a gun on us.” I mean, the dude’s probably better off dead. Your street creds have got to suffer when a bunch of 70 year-olds take your gun away from you and shove it where the sun don’t shine. How are his two buddies gonna live it down.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Bird Watchin' 4

A couple of new species showed up over the weekend. The Red-breasted Nuthatch has joined as a regular visitor. I’ve see two or three pretty regularly throughout the day. They are handsome little devils that dart in to grab a seed and then head for the pines. Occasionally they and their cousins, the white-breasted nuthatch, will feed at the suet feeder, but I’ve not noticed the R-B N to walk head first down the trees or telephone poles the way the white does.
We have also had some single-visit visitors. One Chipping Sparrow showed up and shouldered his way onto a tray feeder amidst the Gold Finches and Juncos for a snack on Saturday before disappearing again. Yesterday we had a Purple Finch appear at the feeder for a sunflower seed or two but he hasn’t been back either.

Update: We did get a pair of Cardinals in the yard today. They even came under the deck and ate a couple of seeds that had been dropped, scattered or blown there. They didn't stay long however and flew off into the pines after a minute or two.

And the Purple Finch we had yesterday may have been a scout. Two or three came to the feeders this afternoon for a short snack. Maybe we'll have more of these colorful little birds showing up during the week.

Spring Must be acomin'

After weeks of waking up to single digit temperatures at the Aerie, it was 32 degrees this morning at 7 AM. I literally can not remember the last time it was that warm that early in the day. The forecast on the local radio station is calling for temps to reach the 40s today. The 40s!!

The sunny weather has caused some compaction of the two feet plus of snow we had here. Let's just see what happens with the warm weather.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Beer Cannon

A magnificent weekend project guaranteed to raise testosterone levels and wake up the neighborhood: a beer cannon! And the videos are cool.

At Innocent Bystanders via LauraW. over at Ace of Spades

Thursday, February 15, 2007


Sometimes the computer gods do smile down upon me. (Other times they seem to drop trow and...well, you get the idea.)

You remember I told you my PowerBook G4 crapped out on me the other day? Well I tried everything I could to get it to reboot and/or reinstall the MAC OS X and failed at every turn. As I usually do when I have a computer problem, I went whining to my daugther, who works at the Apple Store at the Mall in Short Hills. She talked me through some of the very same steps I had all ready done and then, "Jeez, dad. You're screwed!" or something like that. She had lost a hard drive on her PowerBook when it was just 2 years old. Mine was nearly 5 and starting to show its age.

I resigned myself to the loss of the HD and asked if there was any way I could retrieve my files. That was when she directed me to the section in the manual about linking two MACs using a bit of FireWire magic.

So, upon the advise of my lovely and talented daughter, Terry and I went shopping today for a piece of FireWire that had 6-to-6 pin connectivity. Our travels took us to the Best Buy in Horseheads. It was there we found the cable we needed and this nifty little Toshiba Satellite I am working on at the moment. (Never hurts to have a spare!)

Getting home we hooked up the two MACs as per the instructions and started my PowerBook up as I pressed the T key. Within moments I discovered that Terry's little iBook could see my HD just fine, thank you. I downloaded all my files to Terry's machine and will now see if I can erase the HD and have the restore disc rewrite the MAC OS X software on to it. If I succeed, I have a working PowerBook. If I don't, the PowerBook will have to go into the shop for a new HD. But at least I still have the Toshiba to work on!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Hungry Birds in the Snow

The snow didn’t slow the birds down today. We entertained the largest flock of goldfinches, juncos and chickadees yet. At any given moment there might be two dozen of each feeding on the thistle and sunflower seeds. I even added another tray feeder to accommodate the crowds.

Four or five different individuals of the two smaller ladder-backed woodpeckers came to feed on the suet and the pileated woodpecker came back to see what the fuss was about.
Pileated Woodpecker
He was in the trees behind the feeders in the morning and then came back to the sumac while I was using the snowblower. His red cockaded head is as scarlet as anything you’ll ever see. The huge black and white body (they are the size of a crow) make this one stupendous bird.

Anyway, we went through a couple pounds of seed today easily.

We Got Snow

Well, we’ve had our first major snowfall here at the Aerie in north-central PA home. The very fine snow started falling about 2 PM on Tuesday and by 3 PM this afternoon when I girt my loins to do battle about 14-16 inches lay upon the ground. I fired up the 5.5 hp Tecumseh engine on the Craftsman snowblower and went to work on the area in front of the garage and on down the driveway. The area in front of the garage is about 40 feet by 60 feet and the driveway is about 100 feet long. The snow continued to fall and even intensified as I worked. The wind intensified too. No matter which way I pointed the thrower’s chute the snow seemed to come back in my face.

I slogged on through the job and after nearly two hours I was able to park the blower in the garage again. By then the wind was really howling and the area I had first cleared now had a couple new inches of snow. (I think it was snow. Could have been man made from the wind redirecting my blown snow.) I had a couple of frozen fingers, a numb nose and a few icicles in my mustache and beard. Having taken quite a bit of the wind blown snow upon my head and shoulders, my red and black checked Woolrich coat was completely white as was my dark blue watch cap. I looked like an abominable snowman when I entered the house.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Snow Storm and Birding

I hear there's a snowstorm coming our way. Actually it's already started to snow here in north-central PA. The local forecast for the Aerie is for upwards of 2 feet of snow this evening through tomorrow night.

If the bird activity this morning was any indication, we may well get all they are predicting and more. Dozens and dozens of juncos, chickadees, goldfinches, nuthatches, titmice, and downy woodpeckers swarmed to the feeders in a frenzy reminiscent of NJ suburbanites flocking to the grocery for milk and bread before a 2 inch snowfall. I mean to tell you there was some hectic action going on here.

A couple of blue jays tried to join in but the little guys almost ran them over in mid air as they zipped back and forth between the trees and feeders. One huge pileated woodpecker came in to the seed heads still perched at the end of the sumac along the edge of the driveway and worked on them for 15 minutes. I guess his perch was far enough out of the flight path so he was not in danger.

Any way, twilight has arrived and the birds have gone to seek shelter as the snow falls in earnest now.

The winds are supposed to kick up to 25-35 miles per hour tomorrow. It's going to get interesting.

Sh*t Happens

After four plus years of loyal service, the hard drive on my MAC PowerBook G4 suddenly crapped out on me this morning. Instead of a nice crisp bell-tone and all sorts of happy startup sounds I get a grinding reminiscent of a '54 Ford pick-up in need of a transmission job and hauling two shovelfuls of nearly round 2" diameter gravel in an unlined metal bed.

Okay, maybe it wasn't that bad a sound, but there was less than a smooth spin-up of the old hard drive as it attempted to get going. And then there was--nothing. Just a grey-blue screen with the Apple logo. Forever.

I've tried doing all I can to get it booted up. It does so from the Install/Restore disc that came with it but even from there it fails to install the Mac OSX because of some fatal flaw on the hard drive.

Looks like it will be back to the shop to see if the whiz kids at the Apple store can help. Since I never did get around to backing up any of my files, I'm screwed if they can't retrieve them for me. if I can get a hard drive for less than $300 to replace the defective one in the PowerBook I will be happy.

Meanwhile, I'll be looking at a Toshiba Satellite for a temporary replacement. Wal-Mart carries them at a very reasonable price. I see they have a nice A105-S4397 for just under $900. Only bad thing about it is it comes with Vista all ready installed. I'd much rather take my chances with an XP machine.

Oh, well. Now if the up to 2 FEET of snow we are predicted to get today and tomorrow would only get out of the way....

Monday, February 12, 2007

Global Warming and a Reminder to the CO2 Church Crowd of How Science Works

There’s dissension among the ranks? Say it ain’t so!

Glenn Reynolds, of fame, links to an interesting article the TimesOnline of the UK had this Sunday of how science is supposed to work and some ignored studies about the role the sun plays in altering the Earth’s climate.

It’s the sun, dummies. Okay, the article doesn’t come right out and say that—but it should. Lots of evidence as to the affect solar radiation has in fluctuating global temperatures past and present.

Disdain for the sun goes with a failure by the self-appointed greenhouse experts to keep up with inconvenient discoveries about how the solar variations control the climate.

With so many adherents/disciples to the CO2 cause, it’s little wonder that these alternative studies get so little play. But as Nigel Calder says in the opening paragraphs
The small print [of the IPCC report] explains “very likely” as meaning that the experts who made the judgment felt 90% sure about it. Older readers may recall a press conference at Harwell in 1958 when Sir John Cockcroft, Britain’s top nuclear physicist, said he was 90% certain that his lads had achieved controlled nuclear fusion. It turned out that he was wrong. More positively, a 10% uncertainty in any theory is a wide open breach for any latterday Galileo or Einstein to storm through with a better idea. That is how science really works.

Twenty years ago, climate research became politicised in favour of one particular hypothesis, which redefined the subject as the study of the effect of greenhouse gases. As a result, the rebellious spirits essential for innovative and trustworthy science are greeted with impediments to their research careers. And while the media usually find mavericks at least entertaining, in this case they often imagine that anyone who doubts the hypothesis of man-made global warming must be in the pay of the oil companies. As a result, some key discoveries in climate research go almost unreported.

Go one over and read the whole thing here.

Also see the Cosmic Ray story in the Telegraph.Co.UK to which Instapundit links.

Bird Watchin' 3

We’ve had some new visitors to the feeders yesterday and today.

First, a flock of wintering American Goldfinches found the thistle feeder and mobbed the deck yesterday afternoon. They were so numerous I felt the need to put out another feeder in the form of a tray. Mixing thistle seed and sunflower seed met the needs of both the goldfinches and the chickadees.

Trust me when I say the goldfinches are not as colorful in winter as they are in summer. The winter plumage is more of an olive green mixed with the black and white wing.
Goldfinches and Thistle seed

The second new visitor was another of the ladder-backed woodpeckers: the Hairy Woodpecker. I spotted it this morning on the suet feeder. He only stayed a short time before heading back into the forest.

A group of four or five Blue Jaysarrived about the same time the Hairy decided to leave (coincidence?) and while not actually going to the feeders did alight on the ground to pick up some of the peanut hearts no one else seems to want. Although they have the reputation of a school-yard bully at the feeders, their bright blue is a welcome sight against the winter gray and white and green that predominates the hillside.

Aside from the soaring of two Re-tailed Hawk the drumming and call of a Pileated Woodpecker (I’ve seen him during the summer and once further down the hill but not around the house since September), and several American Crows in the pines, there is not much else to report from the Aerie.

At least there is enough activity on the deck feeders to get the attention of Shadow and her brother, Chester, who have become avid bird watchers.
Professional Bird Watchers
Professional Bird Watchers

Lady Knights In the Mix, Again

Rutgers R.small
The Lady Knights are doing much better than their male counterparts but still not what one has come to expect. They are currently ranked 22/23 in the nation, are second in the Big East and have a very respectable 15-7, 8-3 record. They have five games remaining before the Big East tournament gets under way and, barring a major collapse, should enter as the number 2 seed.

Away games remain with Syracuse (2/14), Villanova (2/17), and Notre Dame (2/24). They face Providence (2/20) and Connecticut (2/26) at the RAC. That last game against Connecticut, currently leading the big East with a 22-2, 11-0 record could be interesting. UConn is currently #4/5 in the nation and defeated RU 60-50 last Tuesday at home.

This may not be the year they challenge for the national title, but the Lady Knights still have a big role to play in determining who does compete.

Rutgers' Men's Basketball

Rutgers R.small
I’ve not been writing much about the Rutgers’ men’s Basketball team this season. (In fact, I don’t believe I’ve posted anything about them.) With Quincy Douby moving on to the NBA (how’s that working out?) this has become something of a rebuilding year for new coach Fred Hill. The team is currently lumbering along with a lackluster 10-15 record, 3-9 in the Big East.

Only four games—all Big East contests—remain before the conference tournament begins on March 7th and it’s difficult to see how they will even make it to the Garden. Mired in next to last place (only Cincinnati is worse) and with games against St. John’s (away), Connecticut (at the RAC), Villanova (away), and Notre Dame (at the RAC), the Scarlet Knights would have to take at least three out of four to have a chance.

None of their upcoming opponents is having a great year. UConn is a so-so 15-9 overall and just 4-6 in the Big East; St. John’s is 14-11, 5-7; Villanova is 17-7, 5-5; and ND is 18-6, 6-5. So it is possible but highly unlikely that RU can pull itself together for a final stretch run.

Let’s just say it now: “Wait ‘til next year!”

Saturday, February 10, 2007

More Birding from the Aerie

We’ve had two new visitors to the feeders in the last few days: a Downy Woodpecker and a White-Breasted Nuthatch. The Downy is a male with his little bright red patch on the back of his head.

Both are common birds and associate with flocks of chickadees during the winter. As the number of chickadees has grown—there must be 15-20 individuals coming to the feeders now—I’ve been more or less expecting these other birds to show up. I’ve been hearing their distinctive calls in the woods and, in the case of the Downy, seeing them flit among the trees, but they have finally discovered the suet feeder and they have been in to get their share.

So far, the Blue Jays have stayed in the woods. They’ve not come to the feeders to chase the smaller birds away. Perhaps it’s because I don’t have a tray feeder out just ones with tiny little perches. It’s interesting to hear them call to one another and even imitate the call of the Red-tailed Hawk. When I’m out hunting and they start calling, I usually sit up a little straighter and sharpen my focus when they start raising a fuss in the woods. Sometimes it means some critter is moving that I can’t see. The Blue Jays have warned me of deer, fox, raccoon, hawks and owls. But, unfortunately, what they have alerted me to most of the time was…me! Their eagle sharp eyes spotted something unusual and they were determined to let the world know.

I’ve not seen any other birds in the trees around the yard on a regular basis although there have been American Crows and Red-tailed Hawks overhead.

The Red-tail has been a common sight around the Aerie since we started construction. They (usually there’s more than one and I[‘ve spotted as many as five at once last August) use the updrafts along the ridgeline to glide and soar. Sometimes they are hunting the small pocket of a field in the woods just a hundred yards from the house, or the power-line right of way, sometimes they are hunting the much larger fields of my neighbors, and sometimes it seems they are just soaring for the fun of it.

The other day I watched a pair dance in the northern wind. They used the currents to simply hang in place and then slipped to one side or the other. Spreading their wings, they would rise vertically with hardly a movement to the horizontal. Then, by folding their wings to their sides, they would dart down below the tree line and rise again to repeat the performance. It could be they were hunting, having fun or practicing their species mating rituals. Whatever they were doing it was as entertaining as any aerial show.

We spotted numerous other species while construction was in progress but most have migrated out of the area for the winter. Only the Wild Turkey has been spotted walking through the woods and gobbling from the other side of the bowl that is formed by the curving ridge just to the south of the Aerie. But even they have quieted down since the cold weather swept in last week.

I’m looking forward to the spring migration so I can get serious about taking a weekly/monthly count of the species in the area.

Friday, February 09, 2007

"The Doomsday Vault"

Charlottesvillain, over at TigerHawk, has a post up called: The Doomsday Vault. It’s about the efforts of a group called The Global Crop Diversity Trust to build a repository for “three million batches of seeds from all known varieties of the planet's crops.” The premise sounds fascinating and the facility looks like Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. Cool. Go read the post then follow the link there to the original article.

The question of the viability of the seed after 20 or 30 years of storage. As I commented there, the DNA content of the seed itself (some 400 baggies of500 seeds of each variety) will allow scientists in the future to resurrect these plants ala Jurassic Park dinosaurs. (Hopefully without the attendant mayhem produced in the film. So beware the snapdragons!)

He (Charlottesvillain) also provides links to other groups doing similar work, namely Native Seeds/SEARCH and Seed Savers Exchange. These two can be used by current gardeners who wish to see old varieties of fruits, vegetables and flowers kept thriving.

This was the best post I saw today as it contained nothing about politics, or global warming, or Anna Nicole Smith. Thank you Charlottesvillain!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Bird Watchin'

I set some bird feeders out the beginning of January knowing that it was late in the season to get the birds to visit. Usually you want to set up your feeding stations near the end of fall when pickings are starting to get slim, but I had no choice. The house wasn’t finished yet and I had my priorities set upon that task before worrying about any feathered guests.

The first two feeders were on the deck some 10 to 15 feet above ground level and maybe 30 or 40 feet from the nearest trees. I filled one with sunflower seed and peanut hearts and the other with niger thistle. Neither got any attention from the few birds I did see flitting about in the pines 40 feet away and below the level of the deck. So I went out and bought another feeder.

This one was filled with the sunflower/peanut mix and a suet feeder were placed on an old telephone pole to the southwest of the house and located adjacent to the powerline right of way and some trees. Within a few days the local flock of chickadees found it and have been regular visitors ever since. They also located the feeders on the deck, much to the amusement of the cats, especially Chester, who sit with rapt attention watching the birds come and go. Only once did Chester smack into the window trying to attack.

Nearly all the birds coming to the feeders have been Black-capped Chickadee Only a once or twice were they joined by a Tufted Titmouse or a few Slate-colored Juncos.(Also known as “snow birds” or officially as Dark-eyed Junco.)

I've had some crows fly by and some blue jays inspect from a distance, but they haven't made any stops at the feeders. That's a little surprising because the peanut hearts do not seem to be favored by the chickadees and they just spill them onto the ground/snow. I see some tracks of mice who are happy about that situation.

UPDATE: The link to the Junco was bad. I DO know the difference between it and the Yellow-billed Cuckoo. :-P Thanks to Appilachian Gun Trash for pointing the error out.

re: Cardinals. I've seen a few just down the road about a quarter mile but I think I put my feeders out a little late for them to put me on their schedule. I'm also about 200-300 feet higher in elevation (I'm at 2100 ft.) and that may make a difference. No shrubs or berry bushes nearby either.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Never Mess With A Woman When She's
Getting Her Hair Done

Have-a-go heroine fights masked raider

Four foot nine inches, 25-year old Vicky Lowell halts a robbery by a six foot man brandishing what turned out to be a fake gun and chases him 300 yards to his get away car. The police then use the plate information she obtained to arrest the perp.

It’s a cool story but, as it happened in England, and she beat him with her stiletto-heeled shoe, I’m surprised she was given a medal and not arrested.

This being England I'm surprised she was able to determine what a fake gun looks like. After all, aren't pistols banned there?

Of course, the Telegraph article ends with a litany as to why this may NOT be done by others.
What the law says: Have-a-go heroes have no special rights to take the law into their own hands. People who act as policemen or intervene in fights run the risk of prosecution unless the law gives them specific rights or powers.
England has certainly lost some of its spine since WWII.

Vista™, Anyone?

An interesting post on how people are writing up Vista™
Seems they’re saying parts are almost as god as Mac.

This is what's fascinating to me, though: tech journalists aren't just falling for the flash, like they might have done in the past. They're not saying Flip 3D is better than Exposé. They're saying it's almost as good. Similarly, they're not saying Gadgets are better than Dashboard—they're saying they're similar, and that they kinda prefer how Dashboard (and Yahoo/Google Widgets) work. Because they're not just relying on the Mac's screenshots before making their judgment (like I am, heh). They're basing it on first-hand knowledge... because they've all used the competition now. And in many cases prefer it.

Read it all at the Peeve Farm:
You can't learn instinct

Love the first comment:

1. Mike Silverman - 13:00 Sat 2/3/2007 ( email | web ) As part of my job, I've been using Vista for months now, and it really is "the best Windows ever."

Which is kind of like exclaiming, after a smooth, relatively trouble-free experience at the dentist: "Best root canal ever!"

PS: It's an operating system, no? Why are there seven (7) different versions of an operating system? That would be like saying ther is MAC OSXa, MAC OSXb, MAC OSXc, etc. WTF is that!?

Flash: The Sun Is Hot!

Jeez, ya think this might have anything to do with “Global Warming”?
Hotter-burning sun warming the planet

Paragraph one:
The sun is burning hotter than usual, offering a possible explanation for global warming that needs to be weighed when proceeding with expensive efforts to cut emissions of greenhouse gases, Swiss and German scientists say.

They better be careful, someone on the Weather Channel may want to strip them of their credentials.

Go read the whole thing.

Via the aptly named Cold Fury

Bill Gates is an Idiot

From the Joe Biden School of Business we have this beauty:
Bill gates Dares Hackers
(from Little Green Footballs

Gates = Idiot
(A rich idiot, but still an idiot.)

Speaking of Vista™ vs. Mac OSX™:
Cancel or Allow

Polar Bears on Parade

Polar bears have been in the news and in the blogsphere a great deal lately.
LauraW has posted a piece over at Ace of Spades HQ about some of the faulty numbers being used to proclaim global warming: F%#@in' Polar Bears Again

Ann Althouse chimed in several days ago about the use of polar bears to play upon emotions in: The polar-bears-on-the-melting-ice-cap photo.

(As a bonus she details the origins of the Teddy Bear.)

Did Al Gore stop in Iceland on his way back from Davos?

Read about the polar bear problem being faced by Icelanders over at in this article from The Telegraph (UK): Iceland fears bears that go with the floe
Thick pack ice, the like of which has not been seen for decades, stretched into the western fjords as temperatures plummeted and a bitter wind blew in from -Greenland.

(I really liked this photo posted by a commenter to the Iceland story—so is stole it:

Global Warming??

"Consensus", I do not think it means what you think it means.

We awoke to negative temperatures or the third consecutive day. (Location: Tioga Co. in north-central PA. Elevation: 2100 feet.) Sunday was –1 degree F, Monday it was –5 degrees and today it was –2 degrees. All temperatures were recorded at approximately 7 AM EST. And this was just days after PU Phil (I believe I’ll use that name for its ease of spelling and to indicate my feelings as to the immediate accuracy of his predictions) said spring would come early and just days after the UN released its own report via the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which screamed about Global Warming.

From the Rockies to the Atlantic, the northern third of the US (and adjacent Canada) has been frozen (and by that I mean below zero degrees F, not below 32 degrees F which would be kinda warm and welcome!) for a week. That’s why when I saw this: "Global Warming is not due to human contribution of Carbon Dioxide" over posted by Ace at PoliPundit I had to click on the link to read:
Global Warming: The Cold, Hard Facts?

By Timothy Ball

Global Warming, as we think we know it, doesn't exist. And I am not the only one trying to make people open up their eyes and see the truth. But few listen, despite the fact that I was the first Canadian Ph.D. in Climatology and I have an extensive background in climatology, especially the reconstruction of past climates and the impact of climate change on human history and the human condition. Few listen, even though I have a Ph.D, (Doctor of Science) from the University of London, England and was a climatology professor at the University of Winnipeg. For some reason (actually for many), the World is not listening. Here is why.

You can read the entirety of Dr. Ball’s article Global Warming: The Cold, Hard Facts? by clicking here.

Having a BS and MS in Environmental Science, I’ve always been skeptical of the “consensus” proclaimers. That is NOT how science works. Some have compared those espousing global warming to Chicken Little. I don’t. Chicken Little believed he was doing the right thing.

Many of the enviro-wackos beating the global warming drum are more akin to the Boy Who Cried Wolf. He just wanted attention. They just want $$$. He just wanted to create chaos in the community so he could laugh as the elders got taken in by his act. They just want to create chaos in the world so they can have their 15 minutes of fame.

Of course, like the Boy Who Cried Wolf, once the world catches on, they will be totally discredited and anything they say in the future will be suspect or discarded. The problem with that scenario is that the mainstream media has supported the claim of “consensus” among the scientific community when none truly exists. When the skeptical public starts doubting everything the scientific community proposes…. Well, the wolf may well be howling at the door the next time.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Must See Video

The video GUYK has a link to here is frightening and enlightening. But, as he says in his post, I fear he may be preaching to the choir.

BTW: I’m adding GUYK’s blog Charming, Just Charmingto my list to the right. I find many of his post amusing and some extremely thought provoking. (Although the language can get a tad salty at times. ;-) Go over and read some of the humorous posts like this one: The Purina Diet Story. (Just put the coffee down first.)

UPDATE: Blogger is giving me a problem with the sidebar update. I've been trying to add the link there but it won't take without bumping Confederate Yankee off the list for some reason. I'll keep trying. *sigh*

UPDATE 2: Finally, after many attempts, I have succeeded in getting Charming, Just Charming on the Blogroll to the right without bumping CY off. I do have two entries for Confederate Yankee in my HTML...but hey, it works!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Phil Says: Winter will end early

We watched the live, internet broadcast of the whoop-de-doo that occurred on Gobblers’ Knob in Punxsutawney this morning. The traditional prognostication made by Punxsutawney Phil ended with his NOT seeing his shadow (something that would have been a miracle with the heavily overcast skies in western PA this AM) and, therefore, calling for an early end to winter.

As was noted however, this does not mean winter will end today or even next week, just that it will end early. It’s a good thing they included that caveat in their forecast, for this afternoon it began snowing again. Visibility is down to approximately half a mile and it doesn’t look to be letting up anytime soon.

At least it has warmed up a bit yesterday and today. Yesterday it got into the 30s and quite a bit of the snow on the ground melted. Today it is in the high 20s. Last week it was seldom above 20 but enough sunlight appeared to melt some snow on the roof and produce icicles.

icicles o2
I love icicles, as long as there are no gutters for them to weigh down and bend or break.
icicles 03

Now, when will this winter end. I've had enough.