Saturday, June 30, 2007

A Bear In the Yard

We just had a visitor to the spot where the bird feeders hang during the day. I young black bear, probably about 125 to 150 pound, 1 1/2 year old chased away from momma so she could get it on with the poppa of this coming winter's cub(s), was out there standing on its hind legs to check out the water in the hanging birdbath I've put up. It seemed very disappointed to find it was just water and not the sugar water that it got the last time when it raided (and ruined) the hummingbird feeder. I'm sure glad we've started to pull in the feeders at night. Even with the million-watt flashlight on it, the bear was reluctant to leave until I stepped out on the porch. Then it just ambled off up the power line right of way.

Actually, thinking back to how the steel poles were bent last week, this may not have been the same bear. This one spent some time licking up some spilled sunflower seeds before I opened the door and sent it on its way.

Let's Go Mets!

Well, the Mets seem to have shaken off the horrible first three weeks in June wherein they managed a 4-14 record over the first 21 days of the month.

In the nine days closing out the month they have racked up an 8-1 record having swept the Oakland As for 3, taken 2 of 3 from the Cardinals and now three of three from the Phillies with another in that series to be played tomorrow.

It was a combination of great starting pitching and some power at the plate that fueled the turnaround.

The Phillies, who had crept up on the Mets during their slump, have been sent back to third place and six games back in the last two days. Depending upon the outcome of tonight's Atlanta-Florida game, the Mets will lead the Braves by either four or five games.

Carlos Beltran has certainly enjoyed the last two days in Philly. He was 3-4 today with two homers after hitting two in last nights night cap of the day-night doubleheader. As a team, the Mets have hit 9 home runs and scored 19 times in the three games at CITI Park this weekend.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Backyard Bird Photography

I took my digiscoping equipment (field scope and digital camera) out on the deck this morning and photographed half a dozen species of birds while sipping my morning coffee. In all, I took 85 photographs. After running them through Picasa to crop, sharpen and adjust the lighting, I’ve come up with 6 photographs to share with you.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak
The Rose-breasted Grosbeak is one of the more dapper looking birds in the yard. Its black head, very white belly, bright red bib, and white-spotted black back really make this robin-sized bird a dazzler. It’s just too bad he can’t do anything about that Jimmy Durante sized schnoze.

The male American Goldfinch is also a sparkler. It’s brilliantly yellow body is set off by the white-barred black wings and black forehead patch. These birds are the state bird of New Jersey but I seldom saw them there. I did sight several flocks along the roadside near the Bolt Hole in the Adirondacks, but the sheer number that attached themselves to the feeders in January and the 20 or so who have remained loyal astounds me.

Indigo Bunting
The Indigo Bunting is a real jewel. Completely blue it stands out clearly against the green of the forest and shrubs. Early in the morning I can usually count on this little guy being perched at the very tippy-top of the poplars across the driveway as he sings his heart out to the rising sun. He will come into the platform feeders but seems to prefer to take his seeds on the ground. As is often the case in the bird world, the female is quite drab and nondescript.

Chipping Sparrow
Another year-round resident around the Aerie is the Chipping Sparrow. One of the smallest of birds, this little guy is sometimes overlooked. He wears his russet little cap like a beret. And his rapid, constant, repetitive, simple little call: “chip, chip, chip, chip…” ad nauseam, not only provides the source for his name but also can increase sales of aspirin.

Downy Woodpecker
Yet another year-round resident, the Downy Woodpecker often comes to the suet feeder. This smallest of woodpeckers was taking chunks of suet to feed a fledged youngster that hung on a tree just a short distance away.

Mourning Dove
The Mourning Dove also resides year-round in the area of the Aerie. These buff colored birds are not only subtle in their coloration, but their gentle “coo-coo” sometimes gets mistaken by beginning birders for the “who-who” of an owl. Despite a rather rickety looking nest, the Mourning Dove pair may produce 10 or 12 eggs during the course of a season. They lay two eggs for each clutch and may have 5 or 6 clutches a year. Perhaps that is why, despite being a game bird in many states, the Mourning Dove is one of the most abundant birds in the US.

You can learn more about these and other birds by clicking on the link for All About Birds over on the left. That will take you to the Cornell Labs website and its wonderfully informative entries.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Birding on Pine Creek

We took another bird walk today with members of the Tiadaghton Audubon Society. This time we revisited the rails-to-trails path at Pine Creek/Darling Run west of Wellsboro.

Pine Creek/Darling Run walk of 06/28/07
Gary led a group of seven of us along the trail for a couple of miles starting at the parking lot at Darling Run.

Right across the creek from the lot is a Bald Eagles nest and while we watched we saw one of the adult eagles fly in while a second was already at the nest with one or perhaps two very large fledglings. I’ll definitely be going back there soon with the digiscoping equipment.

We had a huge raft of Canada Geese and a smaller clutch of female Common Mergansers (along with one very young one) swim right in front of us in the first few minutes of our walk. Three or four different types of swallows were doing aerial acrobatics over the water as were half a dozen Cedar Waxwings. Several Baltimore Orioles and a couple of Scarlet Tanagers were also present.

Altogether, I recorded 31 species, but I’m sure Gary got a few more than that as Terry and I left early to go shopping for blocks for a retaining wall.

Species List:
Location: Pine Creek/Darling Run
Observation date: 6/28/07
Number of species: 32

Canada Goose 25
Mallard 3
Common Merganser 8
Great Blue Heron 4
Green Heron 1
Bald Eagle 4
Mourning Dove 3
Belted Kingfisher 3
Northern Flicker 1
Eastern Phoebe 1
Eastern Kingbird 4
Blue Jay 2
American Crow 5
Tree Swallow 10
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 6
Barn Swallow 4
Black-capped Chickadee 2
American Robin 3
Gray Catbird 2
Cedar Waxwing 6
Yellow Warbler 1
Black-throated Green Warbler 1
Common Yellowthroat 2
Scarlet Tanager 3
Eastern Towhee 1
Chipping Sparrow 1
Song Sparrow 3
Northern Cardinal 1
Indigo Bunting 2
Red-winged Blackbird 2
Common Grackle 3
Baltimore Oriole 3

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Log Home Update: Part 58
Wash and Stain

Summer has arrived and the night time temperatures have risen sufficiently so staining of the logs may begin. Before applying any stain, however, the logs must be cleansed and pressure washed using mill glaze. As I understand it, this opens up the pores of the wood so it may accept the stain. Don came out yesterday to start that process and returned today with Adam and JP to first finish the pressure washing and then begin applying stain.

Pressure washing
Don uses mill glaze and a pressure wash to prepare the logs to accept the stain.

Adam on top of his game.
Adam chose to climb the extension ladder to apply stain to the soffit and gable logs of the garage.

JP brushes on stain.
The WoodGuard stain we chose to finish the logs will give the house a nice warm color. JP started by brushing stain on the logs on the end wall of the garage.

Adam and JP managed to finish the rear of the garage as well as its gable end today. At the rate they’re going, it is possible they will finish the staining by Friday afternoon. Although, they may get slowed by the two taller gable ends of the house and the dormer. Weather could play a role, too, but the worst of the thunderstorms predicted for today and tomorrow arrived half an hour after they left this afternoon.


While Adam and JP continue with the staining tomorrow, Don will likely tackle the chimney. He's going to put together a concrete cap reinforced with rebar for the top and then apply mesh and mortar to which faux stone will be applied. We're using the same stone that we used on the fireplace inside.

More bear tales. This time in PA

When I returned to the Aerie on Sunday it was to find Terry had left the two feeder poles just as she had found them late last week—bent by some night visitor.

Bent feeder poles
1/2 inch thick steel poles were bent by a night time visitor. I had a tough time straightening them back up so it was a very big visitor.

Terry was also puzzled as to why one of the hummingbird feeders would not hold any liquid—until I pointed to the hole made in the side by the same visitor.

3/8 inch hole in one
A bear's tooth punctured one of the hummingbird feeders.

It’s that time of year when two year old “cubs” are chased away by mom to find their own way while she finds a mate for next winter’s brood. There’s lots of territory covered as the youngsters wonder about and as the older males search out receptive females.

Sooooo, the feeders now come in every night and go out again every morning. I'd pull them completely but we still have the hummingbirds, goldfinches, purple finches, rose-breasted grosbeaks, and a few others showing up every day.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Bear Tales

I got back to the Bolt Hole to discover there were plenty of black bear in my neck of the woods, too. Mark had been maintaining the three game cameras we had set out and we got some great shots of of two, perhaps three, black bears. This couple got our attention.

Black bears in love
The bear on the left is female and the larger boar is on the right facing the camera. She weighs in at between 250 and 275 while he may top 400 pounds. How do I know which is male and female? We have pictures from a later night visit that could best be described as "bear porn" in which it is very clear which is which!

When we went out to check the batteries and switch the memory cards, Mark carried his 870 with a couple of birdshot loads and a slug. Just in case. We would much rather wait until this fall when bear season rolls around. Big Ben would make a hell of a wall hanging. We would rather not shoot the little lady as she will supply bears for the future.

Mark posing as a bear.
Mark posed to give a perspective of the bear sizes. Mark is nearly 6 feet tall (when upright) and weighs about 200 pounds.

The 104 miles of Good Road and
A Scenic tour of Ottawa—again.

On past trips, we have been able to get up and have a leisurely breakfast before cleaning up the cabin for the next crew. Then we have had to wait. In poor weather, that wait can be quite long, which explains, in part, why David brought War and Peace.

This year, because of the summer solstice, we were up really early, which was a good thing. We had barely gotten packed and had the floor swept but not mopped, when we heard the Beaver flying up the lake. Holy cow! It was only 7:30 AM! We had visions of getting back to the Bolt Hole before dinner. HA!

While the transfer of the cabin went smoothly, as did our flight back to Coursol Base, things went downhill quickly thereafter. Finishing a cup of coffee at Coursol at 8:30 AM, we learned that the dirt road was closed heading back to Maniwaki. A new culvert was being installed at one of the washouts we had crashed through the week before. It should be open by noon. So we had a second cup of coffee before starting on our way at 9:30 AM.

Sure enough, we reached the road closure at 10:30 AM but there didn’t seem to be anyone at work. We learned that the backhoe/front end loader on our side of the culvert had broken down; something about a leaking hydraulic system that prevented the front end loader from being used. The wait was for a second machine and dump truck from the opposite side. We sat and waited for the alternative was a 4 ½ hour ride (versus a 2 hour one) that would take us even further out of our way than that. About 11:15 AM a dump truck full of sand and then a backhoe pulled up to the opposite side of the ditch. By noon we were again on our way. Lost time: perhaps 2 ½ hours.

But we weren’t finished yet! We did succeed in navigating the dirt road and reaching pavement. We did succeed in making good time southbound on 105 and 5 to Ottawa. We carefully followed the signs off King Edward looking for 417—and found ourselves stranded in downtown Ottawa—again. Every single time we come through this bloody town south bound we get lost. (Although, with four or five guys in the vehicle, maybe we should say "confused" instead.)

It’s a lovely city and I wouldn’t mind visiting it someday as a real tourist but their road signage really, really sucks! And you can’t get a map of the city that’s worth the paper it’s printed on. Those in the various road atlases I have don’t help at all. I swear that they do this on purpose. The city of Ottawa wants you to flounder around on its streets. They want you to look at their beautiful city. Ottawans must have a bit of an inferiority complex from being forever overlooked as the capital of a nation. Montreal, Quebec, Toronto, Vancouver all possess more name recognition. Hell, even Edmonton, Calgary, and Regina probably are more recognized. By dicking you around with poor directions they get you to pass by the capital building (lovely) or through parks where black squirrels abound on the lush lawns. We once accidentally saw the changing of the guard at the capital. At least during the day you have more people to ask directions from and being Ottawa, they are likely to speak English. (At 3 AM in Hull one trip we needed directions but, with three young boys in their mid-teens, we were reluctant to ask of the many young ladies we saw on nearly every corner. At least in Ottawa there are large crowds of people outside the clubs at 2 AM. Although we seldom have to ask directions heading north any more.) Time lost meandering around downtown Ottawa: 30 to 45 minutes.

We did manage to make it back to the Bolt Hole by 10:30 PM after making a stop at a Tim Horton’s on 401 for dinner and the duty free shop at the border. Normally, from Coursol to Bolt Hole would take about 10 hours not 13 or 14 as it did this time. *sigh* Maybe next time.

Fishing on Gouin

Did I mention that we did some fishing? No? Strange, that was the main reason to go so far north. We sought the northern pike and walleye of Gouin Reservoir.

Every time we go we learn a tiny bit more about jigging for walleye. Joe, David and I have made 10 trips to various Caesar’s outpost cabins. Over the years, others have joined us. This was John’s second excursion. The four of us didn’t exactly slay the fish this trip, but we did do better than previously. We split our time looking for the very elusive “trophy” pike. (The best we could do were four or five fish that stretched between 32 and 35 inches. Last time we were at this particular cabin we managed to boat three pike that we taped at 40+ inches. I have a feeling that the lower water levels may have impacted that particular fishery in the bay in which we were located.) Our second goal was to increase our take of keeper sized walleye. We found plenty. In half a dozen holes we jigged up 140 walleye that were all keepers. We didn’t keep them all, of course, just enough for one meal and two limits (8 fish each) to take home.

I paired up with John, while Joe and David manned the second boat. They managed to boat the largest walleye (6-1/2 pounds and 26 inches) as well as the largest pike (around 9-1/2 pounds and 35 inches). They also managed to have a bit of a Nantucket sleigh ride from one pike they never did get to see. Based on the tale Joe told, it probably would have topped 45 inches. You can’t tow one of these big plywood boats without having some real shoulders on you.

John holds up one of the smaller walleye we caught. Most of the fish were slightly larger measuring 18 to 22 inches and perhaps 2 or 3 pounds.

Pike were a target species, too. But we were looking for something much bigger than this.

Teeny-tiny Pike
John caught what has to be one of the smallest pike I've ever seen. It measured just over five inches and was barely larger than the top-water plug John was using.

The tally for our trip was just 315 fish, of which 175 were northern pike and 140 were walleye. We probably could have caught many more but we were there to relax, too, and didn’t really push the issue. Despite having daylight from 4:30 AM until 9:30 PM, we were on the water only about half that time.

When Friday rolled around again, we were satisfied with our experience and looking forward to getting home. But that's another story.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Other Unwanted Guests/Residents

We had other unwanted guests inside the cabin during the week. Every night we would have white-footed deer mice rummaging through the day’s garbage to see if we had thrown anything edible away. The answer was usually no, but he made a racket rustling all the crinkly paper he could find. Perhaps it was his way of saying we should leave him some peanut butter—it’s far quieter. Occasionally during the week we would see this little critter go scurrying across the floor. As it was apparent that this was more his home than ours, and he was really very harmless, we left this little critter alone.

The screen in the window behind the sink had two steel mesh scrubbing pads stuffed into holes, which was rather curious. Then one day we came back from fishing to find a third hole. And the remains of a hamburger bun that had been inside a plastic bag which was inside a cardboard box was draped over the window sill. The only “hole” in the box was the hand holds on each end. Another bun, still inside the plastic bag, was chewed up quite thoroughly.

I had seen the culprit before. While sitting on the front porch enjoying the cool breezes, if not the bugs, of evening, I had had a red squirrel come running up the posts and across the rails to look at my boots and ankles as if he were trying to decide whether or not to run up my legs. He always chose “not.”
Dinner Guest
photo by David Messinger
Taken back in 2004, we still had a a red squirrel enter the cabin this year. The difference is that the door was not the preferred method in 2007. Instead, he gnawed his way through the metal screen above the sink. (Why he didn't use the fiberglass/nylon screens in the other windows is a mystery.)

I found the Northern Canadian Air Force to be somewhat different from the Adirondack Air Force. There were fewer black flies for one. There were far more deer flies and, what I will call, moose flies. The latter were about the size of horse flies—about the size of a quarter. There didn’t seem to be as many mosquitoes as in the past and almost no no-see-ums. We had enough enough bug dope to protect us, but there were fewer bugs than we expected.

The Unwanted Guest, or
The Case of the "Curious Bear"

The crew that was leaving Gouin #1 when we arrived, reported several bear in the area and one that was coming right up to the front door. As a result, we were given the loan of a 12-guage shotgun and a couple of low brass #6 birdshot. We certainly wouldn’t be able to kill the bear (except from the inside) but we might be able to teach him not to hang around humans.

Soon after the plane departed with the previous week’s party, we found their notes about the bears and how they approached the “curious” bear’s behavior with a kind gentle voice to “reassure the bear that everything was okay.” They gave directions on making an “early warning device” by hanging empty beer cans on a string between the cabin and some trees on either side. We got a chuckle out of these “words of wisdom,” especially when the evidence of how well they worked soon walked up the trail and started sniffing around in the shrubs and berry bushes next o the cabin.

We watched what he was up to and yelled at him a bit, but that didn’t seem to do much good. Satisfied that there were new tenants, and possibly a new food source to exploit, he ambled on down the shore line where he plucked a fish carcass from the water, plopped down and began to feed.
The "curious male bear"
The group at the outpost cabin before us left a note saying they had seen as many as 8 different bears. We only saw one: the "curious male" who bit into our water lines twice and dug up some of the bushes along the side of the cabin. We figure an earlier group had 1) fed this bear and 2) dumped cooking grease in the bushes. The group before us said they had found grease in the old latrine. They also had fired a shotgun over this bad boy's head to little or no effect. He was around the camp on Friday soon after we arrived and again on Sunday.

Friday afternoon and again on Saturday we had some problems with the fridge (the pilot light kept going out), so we put the red sign out on the dock which tells any passing pilot to send help. Not being ones to wait, we pulled the propane fridge from its slot next to the stove and took the plate off the back that covered the pilot light. We cleaned a couple of screens using Q-tips and lit the pilot again. By Sunday morning the fridge was working fine so we pulled the red sign. Well, the Cessna, piloted by Scotty, came in anyway, which was a good thing. He had maps we needed but he also helped us fix a problem with our water system. Apparently, the bear, not getting the food he expected, bit into the black plastic intake pipe mounted on a pole four feet out into the lake. We cut and spliced the pipe and our water source was back in business. Scotty left. We went fishing.

When John and I returned later Sunday afternoon, we had a sprinkler system in the front of the cabin. The bear had returned and bitten into the supply line coming from the 50-gallon drums that served as a cistern to the fish cleaning station. We didn’t have any more splicing parts but luckily the holes in the pipe were within inches of an existing splice and there was some slack in the line. We just cut off a section and put it back together.

We gathered for dinner on Sunday night and discussed what to do about THE “curious bear.” I looked up and there he was sitting just outside the front door looking in the window.
The "curious bear" comes to dinner
When he showed up after biting the second water line, we had enough. Stones and shouts didn't deter him. (The stones did slow him down as he thought we were throwing food.) A charge of #6 birdshot in his butt sent him scurrying into the woods.

Joe grabbed the shotgun and shells and I got some rocks. I tried throwing the rocks and yelling, but every time I missed, he walked over to see if I had thrown anything edible. He was moving away from us, however, and that gave Joe the opportunity to give him a little education by way of lead injection. When he was forty yards away and he turned his head so his face was protected, Joe fired a load of #6 birdshot into his butt. He hustled into the woods and we did not see him again around the cabin. We saw him two more times along the lake shore but as soon as he saw the boat carried a human--ZIP he was gone!

Into the Great White North

Well, I’m back in PA and it’s time to post something about the fishing trip at Caesar’s Lodge outpost cabin up on the Gouin Reservoir in northern Quebec.

There were four of us on this trip and I think it is safe to say we all had a good time. I met the others at The Bolt Hole in the Adirondacks—a four hour drive from The Aerie for me and a 5+ hour drive from NJ for them—on Thursday, June 14. We then packed up John’s Ford Explorer and headed up to the Thousand Islands crossing of the border (midnight and, yes mister Canadian crossing guard, for the third time we were going fishing and we brought no alcohol with us), northeast to Ottawa (amazing how many people are out on the streets at 1:30 AM in this oh so clean city) and then north through Manawaki (24-hour gas station) to Grand Remous on 117. We parked at the end of the 104-mile dirt road that would take us to Caesar’s Coursol Seaplane Base at 3:30 AM to await daylight (4:30 AM). Then it was three-and-a-half hours of bumps and dips and washouts to dodge as we traveled the dirt road. We arrived at Coursol at 8 AM and waited our turn to be ferried out to the outpost cabin Gouin #1 where we would fish and sleep for a week.

George Brossard, the new owner, was flying the Beaver and rushing around as busily as a one-armed paper hanger. The Beaver, capable of carrying 4 passengers and their gear, and a Cessna, 3 passengers, are the only two planes they have in the air right now. A fire on the docks a few years ago left them short one Beaver and the plane is a workhorse that is no longer manufactured. When George’s cousin, Oliver, sold him the business last year, Oliver’s private little “Canary” was taken out of service. They were hustling two crews out and one crew into outpost cabins while the Coursol Base also handled several bear hunters. Anyway, we got out to Gouin #1 a little after noon which was a huge improvement over last year’s weather induced 6 PM arrival. This year’s weather was clear but almost unbearably hot with the mercury rising to over 85 degrees. The metal roofed cabin was stifling and could have easily been used in some movie like Cool Hand Luke as one of those prison sweat boxes. Luckily, it wouldn’t stay that way.

Wilderness Cabin 1
This photo by David Messinger from 2004 shows the Gouin #1 cabin from the water. There have been improvements including a new water tower, indoor shower and toilet. Unfortunately, because of draw-downs and lack of snow for the past two years, the water level is five (5) feet lower than in this picture. Many flats and weed beds that once held pike are now high and dry.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Is it the Gore Effect?

I'm sitting at the Bolt Hole in the southwest Adirondacks of New York where it is currently 48 degrees at 8 PM on June 23rd, one of the longest days of the year. It was 34 at 7 AM this morning and it may well dip to that level or even a bit lower tonight as there are no clouds in the sky to act as a heat blanket. Frost is a real possibility. I just had to build a fire in the woodstove because I was freezing my toochis off.

I know it is supposed to be getting warmer next week (temperatures around 80 are forecast) but where is it now? And where is Al Gore?

Been Fishing

If you’ve noticed a lack of posting on this site during the last two weeks it’s because I’ve been way up north at this location: Caesar’s Lodge. More specifically, four of us spent a week at Caesar’s Gouin #1 cabin in northern Quebec.

We had a great time fishing for northern pike and walleye. While we didn’t “slay them” as some of the other fishermen claim to have done, we had sufficient action to satisfy our modest requirements without being on the water more than 8 to 10 hours a day. With the solstice, there was light from 4:30 Am to 9:00 PM and we could have caught even more fish if we had pushed it, but we were there to relax as much as fish. We caught enough walleye to have a great meal and pack 16 fish in the cooler to bring home. (We only bought two licenses that allowed us to keep 8 walleye on each. The other two were for catch and release only.)

In addition, we had to teach some manners to a 300 pound black bear that thought the cabin was as much his as ours. I blame the two groups that were there before us for that \situation. One must have been feeding him and the second just treated him with “respect”. We taught him a lesson using a borrowed shotgun and some #6 birdshot. I think he got the point.

We should have used the second shell on a red squirrel who gnawed his way through a metal screen—why he didn’t come through the fiberglass ones, God only knows—but we were too soft hearted.

I’m still at the Bolt Hole in the Adirondacks using dial-up service. I’ll be posting more on our trip when I get back to PA and a more high-speed hook-up in a day or two.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Mr. Wizard has died

Don Herbert, who explained the wonderful world of science to millions of young baby boomers on television in the 1950s and '60s as "Mr. Wizard" and did the same for another generation of youngsters on the Nickelodeon cable TV channel in the 1980s, died Tuesday. He was 89.

From the LA Times obituary.

I used to watch Mr. Wizard every week. It was one of the neatest shows on the tube way back then. I’m sure it sparked my interest in science and lead to a 32-year career as a teacher of science. He was Mr. Rogers-meets-Thomas Edison before there was a Mr. Rogers.

(And he didn't change his shoes at the start of every show or wear that blankety-blank sweater, either!)

Immigration raid in Portland, Ore. spurs complaint—from the mayor

Seems to me the Portland mayor needs to learn 1) the law and 2) that he is elected to represent the CITIZENS of his town. And American Staffing Resources and Fresh Del Monte need to brush up on the law, too.
165 Arrested In Immigration Sting

If Mayor Tom Potter can’t distinguish the fine points of the law, fraudulent Social Security Cards and Green Cards are not minor items, then perhaps he should resign. I’m sure the oath he took upon entering office said something about upholding the laws of Portland, Oregon, and the USA.

They may have been Portland residents, Mayor, but they were NOT Portland citizens.

Via The Drudge Report

Monday, June 11, 2007

And now a few words from Dennis Miller

Dennis Miller is a very smart man who can say some very funny things. Not this time. He is totally serious and on the mark as:
Dennis Miller goes nuclear on Harry Reid

Bravo Dennis, Bravo! Encore!

Too bad Dingy harry is too dim to get the message.

Truck report

Got the call from my mechanic, Ryan. It wasn't the alternator after all, the battery had a faulty cell. You could charge the battery but when you put any sort of load on it it would rapidly lose its charge. That explains why I had problems getting it started this morning. I had charged it yesterday, but when I turned the key it crashed. Luckily, it didn't lose all of its charge and I was finally able to restart it. Then it stalled and I had to restart it again--twice--before I got out of the driveway. I was afraid to stop on the way to the mechanic's for fear it would stall again. I was lucky enough not to have to come to a full stop at any point of the 8 mile trip down to the shop. Of course, once I was there, I shut the engine off and tried to restart and it did so on the first attempt. I noticed on the ride down that the voltage meter showed the battery was charging, so I had an inkling the alternator might not be the problem before Ryan even looked at it.

So one day, one battery and $95 later, I'm eady to head north...manana.

Wow! Just: Wow!

This one is for you, Deb. It's not American Idol...but it's close!

This guy is freakin' unbelievable!

Watch the video. Listen to his voice. Pay attention to the audience and the judges. They can't believe what they are hearing.

via My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy

Idle thoughts for a cool day at the Aerie

I’m sitting here awaiting a call from my mechanic to let me know what’s wrong with the truck’s electrical system and how much it’s going to cost to get it fixed. (In another hour or so, I’ll call him.) meanwhile, I’m surfing the web reading all my regular stops and a few more. Everyone seems to have just two things on their mind: 1) What’s up with the ending of The Sopranos? and 2) How could President Bush be so dumb as to continue to push for the Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill (S. 1348)?

Never having watched even one episode of The Sopranos (which is a terrible thing to say for a 57 year resident of New Jersey) I cannot comment on that issue. Why haven’t I watched it? No HBO, that’s why. I dropped that movie package many years ago when 1) the price via Cablevision grew disproportionate to my viewing the crappy movies they were showing and 2) they continued to show crappy movies. When they made the switch to original programming, I could have picked it up again, but the cost factor continued to be a deterrent when so many other cable channels were part of the basic package. I’d much rather watch TNT, TBS, Sci-Fi, etc. than many of the “cutting edge” stuff they had on anyway. I don’t need to hear the language or view the absurdity of most of the HBO or Showtime shows anyway. Oh, sometimes it means I'm out of the loop when people start discussing some of the more popular shows and movies that appear on these channels, but I never watched Friends either and I don't miss them.

As for the Immigration bill…. Well, I just don’t understand the reluctance of the President or the Senate to just let this monstrosity die. There are so many things about this bill that are flawed that it is unbelievable they think it can be fixed. It needs to be completely scrapped. All the meaningful polls show that the citizens of this country can clearly see that it is a travesty. Calls to virtually every Senator’s office are 90-95% against the damned thing. We have laws on the books now that need to be enforced and a wall that has been authorized that needs to be constructed. (Funny how that bill about the wall got passed just prior to the mid-term elections just a few short months ago but now the Senate is looking to find ways out of completing it or circumventing the premise of its construction.) This land was founded on the principle of representative government. If the duly elected representatives aren’t going to listen to those who elected them, then maybe, just maybe, it is time for another revolution in this land.

High Power Job

Next time you see some electric lines stretched across the sky, remember these guys who maintain them.

Gives a whole new meaning to high wire acts.

Sent to me by my buddy Joe.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Best laid plans

Well, I was supposed to be heading up to the Bolt Hole at this hour, but…. The truck’s electrical system has been acting a bit strange lately.

Four weeks ago, while out for a Thursday morning bird walk, Gary and I got caught in the rain. We opted to sit it out in the truck and I periodically turned the wipers on to look out. Eventually the battery died. Gary jumped me with his truck and I drove back to the house without a hitch. It was a thirty-forty minute drive and the battery charged nicely, thank you. The truck has been working well since then including several short trips to Wellsboro and one long trip up to the Bolt Hole and back (500 miles).

Until today. This morning I drove down to get the papers and do a little shopping at Wally-World. The truck ran fine and started right up at home and in the parking lot. Then I stopped to fill the gas tank. Once filled, the truck would not start. All I got was a horrible clicking sound which could be starter, could be alternator, or could be battery. I got a jump start from another gas customer and drove home.

It was only a short drive so, while the battery did charge slightly, it did not have enough juice to start the truck once I was in the driveway. I hooked the battery charger up and in a few hours had a full charge. My charger can also test the alternator. That said there was a fault and the alternator might be in need of service.

Now, I would have driven up to the Bolt Hole (250 miles) with little concern IF I didn’t know about the alternator. In fact I contemplated doing just that and getting a new battery at the Wal-Mart up there. But, I have had a vehicle’s alternator fail on me before while driving to the Bolt Hole. It is not an experience I wish to repeat. Plus, Thursday night four of us are driving to Quebec to go fishing. That’s a long haul in the middle of the night and 100 mile of secluded dirt road at the end. I do NOT want to have the truck die along the way.

So, I’ll be getting up early tomorrow to call the local mechanic (the same one who just did the oil change and the fuel and air filter changes on Friday) to see if he can squeeze me in to have a look-see at the alternator.

[I should mention that the truck is a 2000 Silverado with nearly 150,000 miles. Both the battery and the alternator are originals. It's not surprising that they should begin to show their age--but the timing is damned inconvenient.]

Friday, June 08, 2007

Here it comes!

There's a great big line of ugly just to the west of here and it's sweeping this way. The forecast is for severe thunderstorms with the possibility of strong winds and large hail. When it does get here we're sure to have a heck of a light show and quite a lot of "booming." The colors on the map are red and yellow with a bit of orange mixed in and the line goes from Lake Ontario all the way down to Maryland. There are few if any gaps in the line in the Twin Tiers (Northern PA and Southern NY) so this one won't slide to the north and south of us as the last one did.

"I love a rainy night. I love a rainy night. I love to hear the thunder and see the lightening light up the sky."

UPDATE: 8:18 PM We have just dodged the single "scout" cell ahead of the front, but I'm not sure how. The map shows it moved right over us and the thunder from the cell seemed to come from all directions.

UPDATE 2: 9:20 PM The front edge of the line has begun to move through. First the fairly strong winds whipped the trees back and forth; then the thunder, lightening and rain started. Nothing too severe as of yet. The temperatures have taken a nose dive from above 80 degrees to about 70. There's still some lightening about two miles to the west-northwest of us and this will be moving through in the next 15 minutes.

UPDATE 3: 9:35 PM Where's my freakin' storm! It looked very serious on the weather maps. It sounds very serious in the distance. BUT it almost completely fizzled when it got to the eastern portion of the county where we are. Oh, there's some rain but it certainly isn't drenching. There's some lightening, but, if you measure from the light to the thunder, it's several miles away. Here? Pffft! Not so much.

UPDATE 4: 7:30 AM Saturday As Peggy Lee sang: "Is that all there is?" We got nothing. I feel like Charlie Brown at Halloween. During the much anticipated Trick-or-Treating, all the kids are getting goods galore. yet at every door, poor CB reports, "I got a rock." almost 250 reports of damaging wind and hail from this system according to Accuweather and all we got was five minutes of wind, some light show far in the distance and maybe an hour of rain. Trees did block Route 220 to the east of us. There was a possible tornado sighting between Elmira, NY and Ithica, NY to the northeast. But here on the hill? Zilch. At least we get the benefits. It's 20 degrees cooler this morning (50 degrees vs yesterday's 70) and the humidity has dropped over 25% from near 80% to only 50%. Beautiful morning.

The Law of Unintended Consequences

It’s events like this that should make people stop and think before they leap to “do something for the environment.” Seems all too often those acts come back to bite you in the a**.
It took only days to create what was touted as the world's largest artificial reef in 1972, when a well-intentioned group dumped hundreds of thousands of old tires into the ocean. Now divers expect to spend years hauling them to the surface.

The tires turned out to be a reef killer, turning a swath of ocean floor the size of 31 football fields into a dead zone.

Military crews began retrieving the tires this week from about 70 feet underwater, where they had broken loose from bundles and wedged along a natural reef. As of Thursday, they had pulled up about 1,600 of the estimated 700,000 tires that must be hauled to the surface.

The idea was sound but the materials and method of implementation—well, not so good.
The dumping of nearly 2 million tires began in 1972 with much fanfare by a group called Broward Artificial Reef Inc., which had the approval of the Army Corps of Engineers, support from Goodyear and help from hordes of volunteer boaters.

The project was intended to attract a rich variety of marine life while disposing of tires that were clogging landfills.

But hurricanes, tropical storms and cold fronts created wave action that loosened the tires and moved them around, killing part of one of three coral reefs off Fort Lauderdale, said Broward County marine biologist Kenneth Banks. Hundreds of tires have also washed up on beaches over the years.

If left unchecked, the tires could kill acres of coral and eventually start destroying other nearby reefs.

Divers from the Army, Navy and Coast Guard are cleaning up the mess, which already has proven to be much trickier than making it. The teams have been hampered by thunderstorms, wind-whipped waves and a balky crane that brought operations to a halt Thursday.

Weather permitting, divers will spend the summer months for the next three years bringing up the 700,000 tires while leaving behind the ones that seem to have remained in place — at least for now.

The tires will be trucked to a Georgia facility where they will be burned to power a paper recycling plant at a cost to Florida of $2 million.

I read last week about how one New Jersey shore-town has forbidden digging in the sand beyond a few inches. Sand replenishment activity has brought unexploded ordinance to the Jersey Shore.

Enjoy your summer.

Where have I been?

Just in case you've been wondering: I've been running all around chasing my tail. No, not really. But it feels that way. I spent four days at the Bolt Hole cutting grass, chipping and clearing brush and just sitting around reading when the rains came. I got two more game cameras out in the woods, checked their cards (lots of photos of raccoon, fox, and deer), and got back to the cabin without running into either of the bears Mark has seen. (Mark ran into one of them--the smaller one--the day I headed back to PA and they sorta faced off from about 30 yards.)

Back in PA I went over to Wellsboro to search for a replacement blade for the lawnmower, while there bought a window fan (and then had to return it--40 mile round trip--when it was discovered to be broken), finally arranged to get the truck serviced, took my Toshiba laptop back to Best Buy in Elmira to get the corrupted CD drive driver reinstalled (they saw we were from 50 miles away and were nice enough to do the work while Terry and I went shopping at the nearby mall so we didn't have to make a return trip to pick it up), and generally got ready to return to the Bolt Hole and from there head to Quebec to go fishing. In all the shuffle of cursing the computer's CD drive and everything else, I've just been following the Senate action on the Immigration Bill and the blankety-blank NY Mets loosing streak. (Yeah, the Bill went down but so did the Mets for three straight games against the Phils. The former is good for the USA while the latter eats at my soul.)

The one really bad thing about the Bolt Hole is the dial-up service. being at the end of the line--literally--means any breaks and/or bad splices along the line translate as snap-crackle-and-pop when the signal gets to me. And, trust me on this, that means the computer can not stay on line. I did manage to get one period of about three hours in the five days I was here when the wind died enough so as not to shake the wires and let me surf the net for a while. And forget about trying to upload/download any pictures. Even without the static on the line that task takes forever! *sigh* Expect things to get spotty again when I head back to the Bolt Hole Sunday afternoon.

I'm really, really spoiled by the wireless high speed hookup I've got at the Aerie.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Confronting the AAF

I drove up to the Bolt Hole in the Adirondacks with the intention of cutting the grass (it’s been two weeks) and clearing some brush. I had been forewarned by my buddy Mark that the second wave of the Adirondack Air Force had been deployed so I wasn’t surprised at the number of deer flies that attacked while I pushed the mower back and forth on Saturday afternoon.

I doused myself liberally with Deep Woods Off before I started the mower, yet there was a cloud of black flies flitting about my arms and face that resembled Japanese Zeros attacking the US aircraft carriers at Midway. I had to breath carefully to avoid inhaling very many. Mixed in with these tiny, humpbacked beasts were the deer flies. Their flight was much quieter than you would expect from a dime-sized buzz saw on wings. (Mark refers to them as “mouths in flight.”)

The Off did a relatively good job of keeping them from landing on my arms and neck and the bandana, held in place by a baseball cap and draped over the back of my neck, saved me from further sunburn and bites. However, as time passed and I perspired more in the early afternoon sun, weaknesses in my defenses cropped up and the deer flies took advantage. I watched as they began to land on my hands and forearms. Waved them away when I saw them first, smashed them after they bit when I didn’t.

I cut an acre of grass in the bright afternoon sun and swatted and killed perhaps 30 deer flies without diminishing the number of attackers during the hour and a half engagement. I’ve still got another acre or so to cut and will get to that this afternoon if the grass dries out. (We had a brief but drenching thunderstorm move through just after I called for a strategic retreat and redeployed to the cabin to rehydrate with a Saranac Pale Ale or two.)

While I did get bitten (by deer flies only for some reason) and had blood drawn several times, I can report no lasting damage as there was no swelling from the bites. Guess all those allergy shots worked!

PS: I didn't go outside as dark approached (in fact I hit the sack very early knowing the birds and red squirrels would wake me at 4:30 or so--they did) so I cannot report upon the mosquito levels but I can say that the no-see-ums made it through the screen okay. Got bit a couple of times before I turned the light out.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Birding at Lamb's Creek

These are the results of the Lamb's Creek walk Terry and I did today with four others from the Tiadaghton Audubon Society. Our leader, Gary kept the group list but I only listed those birds I saw or could identify by call. Our purpose today was to aid in the Pennsylvania Breeding Bird Atlas. Many birds became eligible for listing today (June 1) and there were few birds listed for this block so we thought we would try to help out. The highlights of our walk, for me anyway, would have to be the yellow-billed cuckoos and the Baltimore orioles.

Location: Lambs Crk Rec Area
Observation date: 6/1/07
Notes: Very foggy early making seeing birds difficult. Things picked up later as fog lifted.
Number of species: 33

Mallard 1
Turkey Vulture 1
Mourning Dove 1
Yellow-billed Cuckoo 3
Belted Kingfisher 1
Downy Woodpecker 1
Willow Flycatcher 3
Least Flycatcher 1
Eastern Phoebe 1
Eastern Kingbird 2
Red-eyed Vireo 2
Blue Jay 1
American Crow 1
Common Raven 1
Tree Swallow 2
Black-capped Chickadee 5
White-breasted Nuthatch 1
Veery 1
American Robin 7
Gray Catbird 1
Cedar Waxwing 6
Yellow Warbler 4
Chestnut-sided Warbler 2
Common Yellowthroat 2
Chipping Sparrow 1
Song Sparrow 8
Swamp Sparrow 1
Indigo Bunting 1
Bobolink 1
Red-winged Blackbird 12
Brown-headed Cowbird 2
Baltimore Oriole 3
American Goldfinch 12

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(

My back is fine, so I did some work this week

It’s been hazy, hot and humid here in north-central PA the last few days. So, instead of spending time in the cool basement doing some sheetrock work, I’ve gone outside to burn some stumps and dig a hole to plant a tree. The first task, performed Wednesday afternoon, involved using an iron bar to lever the stumps out in the open where there was no danger of having the fire spread and a chainsaw to cut the trunks into manageable sizes. I then spent several hours in the sun feeding and watching the fire. By the time I was finished I was roasted by both the sun and fire.

On Thursday, Terry and I drove over to Sears to pick up a bistro set so we could have a comfortable breakfast or lunch on the deck. They had called last week to tell us the set had arrived but not the gas grill we had ordered. We chose to wait until the grill arrived but, after a week and a half, finally decided not to wait any longer. However, when we arrived at the Sears store, they could not locate the bistro set in the storage area. The delivery truck that was being unloaded did, however, have a gas grill. So we picked up the grill and were promised they would deliver the bistro set when it arrives next week. I then spent two hours of Thursday afternoon putting the grill together. It was worth it. The venison steaks on the sear-and-grill were excellent as were tonight’s pork chops.

Thursday evening we watched as a thunderstorm swept eastward maybe three miles north of our location. Weather maps showed a similar storm just south of us. We got just enough rain to wet the ground. But we did get the cooling benefits of the front as the outside temperature dropped 15 degrees in half an hour.

Friday morning we went birding at the Lamb’s Creek Recreational Area. At 7:30 in the morning the fog was so thick we were wondering if we would have any luck at all but the fog burned off and we did see quite a few interesting species. There were several Baltimore Orioles and 3 Yellow-billed Cuckoos.

When Terry and I arrived back at the Aerie, we found that Don, our contractor, had stopped by not just to take some measurements of the chimney and some photos of the fireplace, but to drop off a very nice flower box for the deck (including flowers) made from left over siding and tongue-and-groove, a nice batch of brownies, and a five or six foot tall redbud. All the gifts were semi-late housewarming presents. Unfortunately, Terry and I had to dig the hole for the redbud—and it was another scorcher. (If 85 degrees can be called a scorcher.) Since the soil at the site we picked was fill material from the excavation for the basement, I thought it might be loose. HA! We employed the iron bar quite liberally to finally dislodge several large rocks (up to basketball size) and loosen the soil enough that the roots of the tree had a fighting chance. Since the soil is primarily clay, shale and sandstone in this area, I bought some peat moss and mixed it with screened soil to keep an area several inches thick around the root ball of loose, organic containing, soil for the roots and water to pass through. Let me just say that the iron digging bar was well worth purchasing. It made pretty quick work of the packed, stony soil. And weighing around 20 pounds, it just has to be lifted and dropped to do most of the work. Granted, you have to lift and drop it a lot of times in this hard packed soil, but it did pay for itself as no other tool could have done as well.

Terry good some pork chops on the grill and we ate our dinner as a thunderstorm rolled over us. As we ate we watched both the rain and the temperature fall. In half an hour we got approximately a quarter of an inch of rain from the swiftly moving storm and the temperature dropped 15 degrees from just over 80 to 65 degrees.

At this point I can honestly say that my back injury of two weeks ago seems to have healed. Whether it was a rest of almost a full week or the additional exercise, everything seems to be fine now. And I know that sounds strange: rest or exercise. But the fact is rest will help an irritated nerve in the lumbar region and exercise will strengthen the muscles needed to support the spine plus remove and tense muscles due to the irritated nerve. Whichever it was, and I tried both, it seems to have worked.

Now if I could only do something about the sunburn I have on the top of my head. I really do need to remember the hat or a bandana.