Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year's

2007 is winding its way down and it's been a speedy passage.

Terry and I have been in the Aerie for just over a year and we've made it our home. Those who have moved recently will understand that statement. You can move into a building and it won't be your home. There's a need for familiarity and personalization before a house becomes a home. We've adapted to our log home and adapted it to suit us. We've completed some improvements (retaining walls, gutters), started a few (basement, workshop, utility room), and have some yet to start (finishing the attic).

Besides work around the Aerie and up at the Bolt Hole, we've made plans for considerable travel this year. Some will be for Terry's club activities and some will be to visit with family and friends. The major trip, starting in NY/PA and including visits to California, the Four Corners region, Colorado Springs, and perhaps the Gulf Coast and Mid-Atlantic Coast, will occur in late June and into July.

But tonight, the two of us will be spending a quiet evening at home. Maybe we'll make it to midnight, more likely not. The New Year will arrive regardless.

Here's hoping you all have a safe, healthy and Happy New Year.

Snow--again.

We received 3 or 4 inches of light, powdery snow here at the Aerie last night. It was one of those very gentle snowfalls with virtually no wind blowing. Every horizontal surface this morning had a thin layer of white. Everything looks clean and bright in the noon sunlight.

As far as snow removal, I really hate those 3-5 inch snow falls. It's not enough snow to make using the thrower worthwhile. As a result, I have to pull out the shovel and do the entire driveway the old fashioned way. It took me about 2 hours to get the entire driveway finished. Without any wind and with the temperature right around 32 degrees, it wasn't bad. However, I had to be careful or the twisting and turning at the waist could have done a job on my back.

The forecast for tonight and early tomorrow is for another 2-3 inches.

Mark sent a link to a TV station's snow accumulation list for the area of the Bolt Hole. It indicates a fresh 8 inches fell there overnight. Mark arranged to have us cleaned out. Curiously, as you traveled further west and north of the Bolt Hole the amount of snow dropped dramatically. Old Forge and Boonville, places that normally get much more snow, only had 4 inches. I won't be able to get up there until after January 7. By then there's likely to be even more snow on the ground. But get up there I will. I've got to retrieve my snowshoes and/or cross country skies. Plus I left my flintlock rifle up there and I want to bring that south too.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Year end malaise

Every year at about this time, a sense of ennui overtakes me. Whether it’s the incredibly short days or the cold weather, the leaden skies, the end of the hunting season or the slow wrap up of the football season, I have little ambition to do much at all.

Oh, I’ve a list of things a mile long I could be doing starting with the ceiling in the basement and the organization of the workshop, but the old get-up-and-go seems to have got-up-and-went. When I was still working, getting back to the routine of the classroom on the day after New Years would have kick started me. Seeing the kids and my fellow teachers again provided much needed social interaction. Now, I’ve got no schedule to which I must adhere and no pressure to perform. (Trust me, teaching is a performing art.)

Bird watching has waned as an outdoor activity as most of the lakes have frozen over and the woodland birds have taken refuge in the pines or further south. Even those at the feeders in the yard are more same-old-same-old as the usual species show up. Only regular species and the gray squirrels have visited for more than a week. This morning there were 10 or 12 tree rats out there and they’ve even spooked the evening grosbeaks from making their foray to the feeder in the morning hours. Only last week’s appearance of Black Bart, as I’ve come to call our unusual black gray squirrel, has brightened prospects around the yard. Here’s hoping that Bart continues to show up every day.

Even when the wind isn’t blowing, it’s raw outside with the temperatures hovering in the mid-30s most of the time. Most of the snow is gone but the ground is either slick with ice or mushy with mud underfoot making going out doors sloppy at best. I’d sooner there be a foot of snow on the ground but then I’d want the snowshoes I couldn’t purchase the other day when I went to Cabela’s to walk on top of it.

Oh well, we are passed the Winter Solstice and the Sun is starting to make its way back north. It won’t be long now before the real mud season makes things an unholy mess, the crocuses and trout lilies start popping their heads above the soil, leaf buds on the poplars and maples burst open, and Spring arrives.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Shopping trip

Terry and I took a long and mostly fruitless ride today. We left the Aerie to go to the Woolrich Company Store on the south side of Jersey Shore and then down to Hamburg, PA to visit Cabela's.

The trip to Woolrich was to see if they had any lined jeans for Terry. While they did indeed have fleece lined jeans (she was really looking for flannel) they only came in regular sizes and not in petites which Terry, at 4' 10-1/2", really needs. She bought a pair anyway with the intention of hemming them herself. I picked up two Henley shirts at 20% off to add to my wardrobe.

The trip from Jersey Shore to Hamburg was a real pain in the petootie. We took Route 15 south off I-80 and then Route 61 from Shamokin Dam. It was 61 that was the problem. Middle of the day and the traffic all along the way was horrible. You wind your way through several old coal mining towns with narrow streets and numerous stoplights. And then, when you do skirt a town, there are twice as many stoplights because of the many, many strip malls that have been erected. I think I got stopped by every single one of those stoplights. We eventually got to Cablea's but by then I had a raging headache.

It was Thursday, right, so where the frelk did all the people come from that were shopping at Cabela's?!? I have seen it this crowded only once before but never with so many little kids each and everyone of which seemed to have been given one of those little wooden rifles with a cork attached to a string that makes a really loud annoying "POP" when handled by a 4 to 8 year old. There were more people than I have seen in a month of Sundays and they didn't make my headache feel any better.

Worse, Cabela's did not have in stock the two items I drove down there to look for: arrows of the correct size and snowshoes suitable for my 220+ body. Nor did they have the insulated long johns I also hoped to find to replace the pair that has been mended several times. *sigh* I guess I'll be doing some catalog shopping tomorrow as soon as I located a catalog that has all the items I want and the numbers to match.

We did find a nice China King Buffet for lunch on Route 15 near Bucknell University and determined that we would never,ever again take Route 61 to go to Cabela's. Instead it's Route 15 to 322 to I-81 to I-78. It may be a little longer on the odometer but it's 20-30 minutes shorter on the chronometer. Of course, the internet and/or catalog may be an even better bet, but there are some things I prefer to actually look at and handle before I buy.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Winter is ending!

Winter must be pretty nearly over. Why would I say that, you ask? Well, as sure as the robin's return in the spring, this Monday’s mail included a catalog from this company, that’s why. So no matter what this says, winter must be coming to a close. I mean, the days are getting longer. Haven’t you noticed?

Black Squirrel

I went out and refilled the bird feeders this morning (between the birds and the tree rats, they were pretty well depleted) and wasn’t inside more than a few minutes when two squirrels were on the front deck after the sunflower seeds. Usually, if they are on the deck, it’s because the area around the feeders on the side of the house is crowded with their relatives, so I went to take a look. Sure enough, there were seven or eight of the gray thieves over there helping themselves. Then I saw a black nose stick out from behind the telephone pole (I’ve got a couple extra in the yard from past wiring) and a little tuft of black tail sticking out the other side. Immediately I started looking for any white stripes and was relieved and delighted to see none. What I had, instead, was a black squirrel.
Black Squirrel

The Black Squirrel is a melanastic version of the Eastern Gray Squirrel and is more common in the upper Midwest. I’ve seen them in Canada (Ottawa) and in the Thousand Islands but this is the first I’ve seen in PA. (Although Pittsburgh is supposed to have a goodly number.)

Black Squirrel

Quite a handsome little devil. I believe I shall spare him (her/it) when I decide to thin the population of his/her gray cousins. Later I spied eleven gray’s out there feeding on the sunflower seed.

More about black squirrels here here.

General information about gray squirrels can be found here and here.

Home From the Holiday

Well, we’re back at the Aerie after driving into NJ to visit with my Sister and her family on Christmas Eve and then spend the night and Christmas Day with my Mother-in-Law and daughter. The trip in was actually pretty good as the weather was excellent and the traffic non-existent. If it wasn’t for the distance, time and gasoline involved I would have really enjoyed it.

We got to my Sister’s house really early and had a great little visit before the rest of the company showed up. Even then, things went really well. My nieces have grown into lovely young women and the younger ones boyfriend is a great guy with whom I talked hunting and fishing and diverse topics.

The few hours at my Mother-in-Law’s house were quite nice also. I picked my daughter’s brain about the MAC laptop and left it with her to have the hard drive removed so I can send it out to get the data pulled off. (That’s gonna cost me an arm and a leg but as there are tons of pictures from vacations, fishing trips and the construction of the Aerie o there that I never backed up…well, some lessons are costly.) Jess also made me a pair of woolen mittens and her mom a pair of fingerless gloves that are quite nice. The girl has got skills, let me tell you.

We left Linden, NJ around 2 PM Christmas afternoon and had some traffic on the Garden State Parkway, I-78 and I-80 until we got to the Delaware Water Gap, but once we were in PA there was very little on the road. I was surprised to see some truck traffic but figure it was mostly guys who were caught on the road due to their schedule and, being away from their families/home base, they probably were taking advantage of the lighter holiday traffic to get out of the metropolitan area. We made great time on the trip back and got home shortly before 6 PM. (Traveling 260 miles in under 4 hours with two gas stops and a potty stop along the way…I guess you might say earned my wings. Just ring a bell and call me “Clarence.”)

The cats were quite happy to see us return. They still had water and dry food in their bowl, but they (or at least Julie and Chester) wanted the moist stuff…NOW!

All in all, a pretty nice Christmas.

Anyway, it’s time to relax a little and then think about hitting the Woolrich factory store over in Jersey Shore and Cabela’s down in Hamburg for some after holiday shopping. Terry's looking for some lined jeans and I'd like to have about 3 doz arrows that were identical so I could be a tad more certain about my shot placement. (Right now I've got some arrows with four inch fletching and some with five--sometimes I've got both on the same arrows--and I've got some arrows that are 29 1/2 inches long and some that are 30 inches. Even so, my groupings are pretty good--horizontally. I'm able to keep them within a 2 inch zone--horizontally. Vertically is another matter. Occasionally I'm as much as 8 inches off from 25-30 yards away and that's not good.) I'm also looking for a second set of snow shoes so I won't have to remember to haul them from the Bolt Hole to the Aerie and visa versa.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Santa's Stuck Up In the Chimney

I can empathize with Santa. Too many baked goods ever since hunting season ended and my jeans and belts seem to have shrunk.

Monday, December 24, 2007

On the road to *spit* NJ today, again

We're heading on east to NJ today to celebrate Christmas Eve with my sister and her family and then Christmas Day with the Mother-in-law and my daughter. Lots of good food and family will be on hand.

Here's hoping you and your's have a very Merry Christmas, too.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Torture? or Treatment?

I saw this article linked over at Instapundit the other day and, having many allergies and sinus problems, I went over to look at what they were touting as a solution. (No pun intended.)

It sounded interesting but I kept having just one thought: Isn’t this the “torture” technique called “Water boarding”?

I don’t know that I could do this to myself even if it were to bring relief. Hell, I'd probably succumb to "water boarding" so fast and start spilling the beans at such a rate that they'd have to use a high speed recorder slowed down to get any meaning out of my words. I'd make stuff up to tell them, too, if they would stop. But then I did that when the podiatrist went to put a needle in the sole of my foot. I'll take a shot anywhere but there! (And lay off the gums unless you give me nitrous first, mister dentist.)

I think I’ll stick to the saline sprays.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Aaah. Yes.

You Might Be a Fredhead If... by Frank J at IMAO

A partial list of the qualifications:

...you think a Senate majority leader who constantly tells us how things are doomed while a war is still ongoing needs a good bitch-slapping.

...you think it's great if a murderer finds God, but that doesn't mean he should be let out of prison.

...you think America's sovereignty is kinda important.

...you think anyone who talks about how the rich aren't "paying their fair share" is a whiny little Communist.

..."great hair" is low on your list of presidential requirements.

...you think someone didn't draw those border lines on a map just for fun.


Go check out the rest and read through the comments ‘cause there’s lots more there. Just beware, there be trolls about.

Sure she is.

Clinton Says Wife a 'World-Class Genius'

Isn’t that what Wile E. Coyote used to call himself?

That'll work

Car thief has a swift change of heart
I’m guessing he needed a change of undies too.
A thief who stole a car after spotting the keys in the ignition swiftly abandoned it when he was confronted by a great dane that had been asleep on the back seat.

The man was unaware that Diesel, an alsatian cross, was inside the Toyota 4x4. As he drove off he saw the dog, 9st (57kg) and 6ft tall on his hind legs, through his rear view mirror. As soon as Diesel sat up, the man stopped the car and fled.

Yeah, I’m sure Diesel makes a great theft deterrent, but wouldn’t the Club be cheaper? I mean the food alone…. Of course they may have banned those in England too.
The owner, Nick Griggs, 41, of Brixham, who runs a quad bike centre, said: “I’d love to have seen the look on his face when he saw Diesel. He must have got the shock of his life. There’s no alarm, but who needs one when you’ve got the Hound of the Baskervilles in your back seat?”


Indeed.

Go look at Diesel’s picture.

Seeing that mug (no matter how lovable he might be) pop up in the rear view would make me want to get out of the car too.

More of these stories please.

Why is it that you don’t hear many stories of these performers?

Robin Williams, Lance Armstrong in Kabul

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Robin Williams and Lance Armstrong took a swipe at the French, Kid Rock strummed "Sweet Home Alabama," comedian Lewis Black grumbled about the falling snow, and Miss USA told the troops to keep "kicking butt."

Williams, Armstrong and company have already performed in Qatar, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan and will perform in Kyrgyzstan and Europe before returning home.


A big “Thanks” to all the performers who take the time to travel with the USO and put on shows to entertain the troops.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

What we have here, is a failure to …

More than 500 parking meters stolen in Atlanta

What the heck!? How do you steal 546 parking meters?

City officials say crooks sawed off 546 parking meters this year —39 percent of all the meters in the city, at a total loss of $273,000.

Because it happens so often, the city does not report meter muggers to police, said Tenee Hawkins, spokeswoman for the Department of Public Works.

"If they don't report it to us, we don't investigate it," said Ron Campbell, a spokesman for the Atlanta Police Department.


I get it. You do it one at a time and the city never, ever reports the theft so there’s never, ever an investigation.

"Settled" Science?

Hardly.

U.S. Senate Report: Over 400 Prominent Scientists Disputed Man-Made Global Warming Claims in 2007

A release from Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee.

An excerpt from the introduction:

This new committee report, a first of its kind, comes after the UN IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri implied that there were only “about a dozen" skeptical scientists left in the world. Former Vice President Gore has claimed that scientists skeptical of climate change are akin to “flat Earth society members” and similar in number to those who “believe the moon landing was actually staged in a movie lot in Arizona.”

The distinguished scientists featured in this new report are experts in diverse fields, including: climatology; oceanography; geology; biology; glaciology; biogeography; meteorology; oceanography; economics; chemistry; mathematics; environmental sciences; engineering; physics and paleoclimatology. Some of those profiled have won Nobel Prizes for their outstanding contribution to their field of expertise and many shared a portion of the UN IPCC Nobel Peace Prize with Vice President Gore.



Additionally, these scientists hail from prestigious institutions worldwide, including: Harvard University; NASA; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR); Massachusetts Institute of Technology; the UN IPCC; the Danish National Space Center; U.S. Department of Energy; Princeton University; the Environmental Protection Agency; University of Pennsylvania; Hebrew University of Jerusalem; the International Arctic Research Centre; the Pasteur Institute in Paris; the Belgian Weather Institute; Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute; the University of Helsinki; the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S., France, and Russia; the University of Pretoria; University of Notre Dame; Stockholm University; University of Melbourne; University of Columbia; the World Federation of Scientists; and the University of London.


The voices of many of these hundreds of scientists serve as a direct challenge to the often media-hyped “consensus” that the debate is “settled.”


The trick will be in the zombies to listen instead of prancing around with their fingers in their ears going, "la, la, la, la..."

"Fortnight Of The Undead"

An enjoyable [?--maybe not the best word to describe it, eh?] account of the doings at the UN Conference at Bali. Take a few minutes and read the whole thing. Monckton is no fan of Anthropogenic Global Warming or those “zombies” that practice its voodoo science and he lets it show in this report:

VISCOUNT MONCKTON'S INSIDE STORY ON THE BALI CONFERENCE or Fortnight Of The Undead By Christopher Monckton in Nusa Dua, Bali

Monckton managed to get to Bali despite attempts by the UN’s higher council to keep him and all other dissenters away from the conference. The UN had no problem with protesters—as long as they were the right kind of protestors, namely those who wanted action now to halt global warming, vilify the US, or redistribute the wealth of the developed nations to their liking. But I repeat myself.

Here’s a question. If the science behind the scare is as certain as the zombies say, why are they so terrified of a few doubters? Google me and you’ll find hundreds of enviro-loony websites, such as Wikipedia, now an international music-hall joke for inaccuracy, that call me a fraud (for writing about climate science when I’m not a climate scientist), a plagiarist (for citing learned papers rather than making up scare stories), and a liar (for saying I’m a member of the House of Lords when – er – I’m a member of the House of Lords, though, being merely hereditary, I don’t have a seat there).


They don’t like any dissenters but Monckton, for some reason, really gets their goat.

You’ll find precious little science on the zombie websites. They specialize in global whingeing ad hominem, rather than scientific argument ad rem. The frenetic personal assaults have become so self-evidently ludicrous that I’m getting an increasing number of emails from people who have first heard of my work from the Kool-Aid slurpers and have gone on to find, to their surprise, that the peer-reviewed science to which my climate papers politely draw attention does suggest that the Holy Books have exaggerated both the influence of Siotu over temperature and the consequences of warmer weather.


Aye, there’s the rub! He is continually looking behind the curtain at the Wizard. He is constantly mentioning that the Emperor hasn’t donned all his clothes. And neither the Wizards, nor the Emperors like that sort of scrutiny. And more troubling for them (the Wizards and the Emperors), is that Monckton is often on the mark.

One more:

The zombies seem listlessly incapable of checking even the most elementary facts. Take Yvo de Boer, the UN archpriest at the conference. He made an impassioned speech saying that the sceptics had had their day and that everyone now accepted that, for instance, the island nations of the Pacific were facing an imminent threat from rising sea levels. Er, no. Corals have been around for 275 million years. They’ve survived temperatures up to 7 degrees Celsius warmer than today’s. And has it never occurred to the poor sap to wonder why, after a rise of 400 feet in sea level over the past 10,000 years, the sea has – by some startling coincidence – exactly reached the surface of all the coral atolls?

No, it’s not a coincidence, because corals grow to meet the light. They can outpace at least ten times the Holy Books’ high-end estimate of sea-level rise, which is anyway down by a third since just six years ago. We know this, because the mean centennial rate of sea-level rise since the end of the last Ice Age has been – get this – at least double the high priests’ highest estimate of future sea-level rise. Nine-tenths of the land-based ice sheets of the world have already melted. There’s so little left that even if it began to melt (which it won’t) the rise in sea level would be very, very slow.


Anyway, go read his entire report from the front.

(Noticed over at the Anchoress’ place a couple of days ago.)

No TV

As far as I'm concerned that's the best kind, but Terry is starting to have some withdrawal symptoms. There are football bowl and pro games starting tonight and I'd like to watch a few of them.

Yesterday morning we discovered that the TV system wasn't working at the Aerie. We get our TV through the same lines as our phone and internet connection. I called the provider and they sent out Zack who has been here before and is cousin to Don and Deb's daughter-in-law. And he's a real nice guy.

He visited with us for almost 3 hours but really couldn't do anything except confirm that we had no TV reception to any of our three sets. He informed us that they had recently gotten and installed an upgrade to their software and had, as a result lost TV all over their service area. Things have gotten so hectic and confrontational tat the poor gals back at the office are nearly in tears. Since the installation they've had the tech guys (like Zack)running all over the area doing their best to resolve the problem but it comes down to something at base end of the line. They're trying their best but are, at the moment, completely overwhelmed. I joked that it sounded like a Microsoft product.

Anywho, we had a nice visit talking about photography and fishing. (Turns out one of the guys with the phone company also goes up to Caesar's Lodge and the idea of going up there has been in the back of Zack's mind for a while now.) He's also a photography hobbiest and was intrigued with my digiscoping set up.

Hopefully, they'll get the bugs out of the system and we'll b able to watch some TV this weekend.

UPDATE: I just (10:00 AM) called and the office says they've narrowed the problem down but still haven't come up with a solution. Extremely apologetic about the whole thing I was informed that everyone who has been affected will receive two weeks credit on the TV portion of their bill.

UPDATE: (12:00 Noon) It's back! We just got our TV reception back and I believe the folks at the business end were just as relieved as we were. I imagine those folks who have young kids in their household are jumping for joy too. Not that I condone using the TV as a babysitter or anything....

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

This makes me angry

And if this doesn’t get your blood pressure up, then you are a fool.

NRA: The Untold Story of Gun Confiscation After Katrina



(Seen over at Right Wing Nation )

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Oh, yeah! I can get down with this!

I saw this over at Michelle Malkin’s place where it’s her “Music Video of the Day” and couldn’t resist hijacking the video. The music is hip-hop and rap usually means *rap, but the message from Six 8 is all positive vibe common sense.

So, yo, like listen up: Pull Your Pants Up!



Six-8 is apparently a group of talented young people who get it. They are spreading positive messages via their music and school appearances.

If I were still teaching middle school or high school in NJ, I’d have this CD in my player at the beginning of every class. One song a week played each and every day. Extra credit if you can sing it all by Friday.

Now, about all those hats that are worn sideways—you know, with the bill of the cap covering one ear. The back of the head I can understand as I was a catcher on my ball team in junior high and high school. Straight ahead I can understand as I don’t like the sun shining in my eyes either. But over one ear? Dude, your head’s on crooked!

Just an old stick in the mud...

...stay at home, slug abed. That's me.

After talking with my buddy, Mark, last evening, I decided to stay here at the Aerie at least until after Christmas. There may have been nearly a foot of fresh snow at the Bolt Hole from this latest storm but beneath that is 6-8 inches of a layered snow-ice cake that is hell to clear with a snow thrower and doubly hell to clear with a shovel because, not only is it difficult to break up but it is heavy, too. Compacting fluffy snow flakes into ice makes it damn hard and heavy.

Also, as Mark mentioned over the phone, it (the pre-glacial, deep snow/ice pack) might deter some a**hole from ripping off our firewood this winter. We "lost" about a cord of stacked wood last year.

Besides, he's going to be stopping up there this weekend and will let me know what's up. If need be, I can drive up to clear the roofs on the 27th. Until then, I believe I'll just sit here at the Aerie and have a nice hot chocolate.

What? I've got to go to NJ for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day? Noooooo!

Will there be presents?

Random Eight Meme

I got tagged by Erica to do this Random Eight Meme wherein I’m supposed to supply eight random things about me. (Punishment because I said she sometimes uses colorful language?) Then I’m supposed to pass it on to eight others. But I won’t pass it on ‘cause I don’t have that many blogspheric friends I feel that comfortable tagging (that haven't already been tagged) and I don’t want to tick off those I do have. (At least not until I’ve had a chance to meet some of them in person.)

1. I get panic attacks when in crowds of more than 15 people. This despite being a high school/middle school teacher for over 30 years. I had no problem in the class room but the assemblies and faculty meetings were hell. (I completely zoned out while giving the oral presentation of my Masters thesis at Seton Hall but am told I did incredibly well.)

2. I hold a Masters Degree in Ecology/Environmental Science from Seton Hall University. Quite possibly the only one they ever granted as my supervisor on the faculty left a year after I got my degree and the Bio department at Seton Hall was predominantly pre-med/microbiology.

3. Raised in the Dutch Reformed Church, I was a sexton for several years while in high school and got to “see” the inner workings of a church first hand. I stopped attending services soon after and now consider myself “druish.” I'm far more in tune with nature and the seasons than any organized religion although I still adhere to the Ten Commandments Moses brought down from the mount rather than the dreck the folks in the “Environmental Movement” spew forth.

4. Joated stands for “Jack Of All Trades EDucation.” When I started teaching it was in the sciences—all of them: Life Science, General Science, Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Earth Science, Environmental Science, etc. You name it, if the school offered it, I taught it. My certificate to teach in NJ reads “Science, K-12” and was one of the last of that type to be awarded. (They switched to more specific subject oriented certificates in the late ‘70s.) As a result, I was a valuable resource for the high school science department. If there was one class of a subject left after all the “specialists” were assigned, I got it. Some years I taught four different subjects. Then I got into middle school computer instruction which required I know everybody’s subject matter as we taught how to use the computer for writing, research, presentation, and data compilation and manipulation so students could use the computer correctly in all their classes. As a result, I taught a little English, History, Science and Math to all my students. (Foreign Language was/is way off the list for me, however, as is Music. I just don't seem to have an ear for either which makes me go ga-ga over my daughter's mad skills in Music and Japanese. My son can do the Music thing but not the foreign language--except for Latin. Go figure.)

5. I used to watch TV (especially the nature, history and news shows) regularly. I’ve learned better and now watch only sports. It’s the one area where the networks can’t practice their propaganda.

6. I can cook pretty well and really enjoy baking cookies (mmm...Toll House!) and making ice cream. (I used to do the latter as part of a thermodynamics lab in my Physics classes the week before Christmas every year. Students were assigned the task of bringing in the sundae toppings. I seem to remember getting observed quite often for that particular lab.)

7. I’ve so many hobbies that I find it difficult to concentrate on any one long enough to become exceptionally good at it. I consider myself above average in wood working, bird watching, and a few others. I could survive on my fishing and hunting skills but I could always use more practice. ;-)

8. I have a terrible memory for names and birth dates. Just ask the lady who has lived with me and does most of the house work around the Aerie. (I’m only partially kidding here. I still get confused about Terry’s birthday—and we’ve been married since August 19, 1972.)

Bonus round:

9. I once “accidentally” burned a shirt while ironing when Terry and I first got married. Didn’t have to iron again for 30 years! Then she caught me taking the wrinkles out of a shirt that was in the closet too long and....

Monday, December 17, 2007

Must be tough branding the little sprites

Australian police alert to oyster rustling: official

Rustlin’!? Why that there’s a hangin’ offense, pardner…er mate!

I blame Global Warming

New giant rat and possum found in Indonesia's Papua

Cleared out at the Aerie
for now

So, I spend the better part of four hours this morning clearing the driveway of a mere 4 inches of crap. The first two inches (on the bottom) was snow and the top two inches was frozen rain that formed an ice shield that made using the snow thrower difficult. It kept riding up on to the ice cover. Using a shovel was out because I had to chop into the cover to break the surface. Once the thrower broke the surface, it was off to the races.

Except...did I ever mention that the driveway is not pavement or grass but gravel? Even a "little" 5.5 HP thrower can really toss those stones! Once it dislodges them from the frozen tundra that is the driveway, that is. I'd be moving along at a relatively smooth clip when the skids (set to raise the intake to a maximum height) would hook a stone. WHAM! there would be a jolt to the side. BAM! That stone would have been picked up by the two stage paddles inside the thrower and ejected 20-30 feet. I had to constantly be aware of where the chute was aimed so as to not hit either the house, the Tundra, the Blazer or Terry.

Anyway, I got nearly all of the snow off using the thrower and then went back over a small 10' x 10' square right in the middle where I couldn't throw the snow far enough to the edge and used the shovel to push that clear.

That was more than enough exercise for the day. I've got a call into to my buddy Mark up north to see if I should head up there tomorrow to use the 9.0 HP thrower on our properties and then shovel off the roof of the houses and garage.

Of course, as soon as I got done shoveling the drive, it started snowing again. We're supposed to be getting showers all day that will amount to little or no accumulation.

We haven't even reached the Winter Solstice that marks the start of winter yet and already I'm growing sick of it.

I should have gone to bed early.

Rutgers loses to North Carolina 93-71

Rutgers R.small
Rutgers’ inexperience cost them last night against the #1 Tar Heels. “North Carolina finished with 14 steals and Rutgers committed 20 turnovers, which the Tar Heels converted into 30 points.” The young guards made bad passes and the overall sloppy play (caused by the strong defense of UNC) made the ending of this game obvious late in the first half. There’s no way you’re going to be able to win a game when give up that many points on steals and turnovers.

Highlights for the Scarlet Knights included Freshman guard Corey Chandler scoring 23 points and adding a career-high eight rebounds, Junior guard Anthony Farmer scoring 17 points, tying his career-high, and Junior forward JR Inman adding 10.

Full story and stats can be read here and here.

UNC improved its record to 9-0 while the Scarlet Knights are now 7-4.
_______________________________________________________

Redskins 22, Giants 10

The Giants didn’t do too well either, losing to Washington 22-10 and Jeremy Shockey for the season with a broken leg.

“Manning had a horrible night, completing 18 of 52 for 184 yards in a game in which his receivers dropped at least eight passes.” Eli hasn’t got the sure-handed receivers his brother does and it was painful to watch him hit guys on the hands and in the chest only to see them drop the damn ball.

On a positive side, Brandon Jacobs did run for 130 yards on 25 carries.

The Giants can still clinch a playoff berth by beating Buffalo next week. Hopefully they’ll get it done then because the final game of the season is at home against the New England Patriots who will probably be looking to finish an undefeated season.

Full story and stats here.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Decisions, desicions....

I'm torn, my Scarlet Knights are facing off against the #1 North Carolina Tar Heels and are hanging tough (9-7 after 5 minutes) on ESPN and the Giants are playing the Redskins over on NBC.

Rutgers R.small
RU is 7-3 for the season and UNC is 8-0.

The Giants can clinch a playoff berth with a win.

Decisions...

UPDATE: 47-26 at half time with UNC up. Giants and Redskins are 0-0. Sorry RU, bye-bye.

Where's the snow?

So far (knock on wood) we have dodged the bullet here at the Aerie. This time yesterday the forecast indicated we might get a foot of snow by this time today. Instead, we had only about an inch of snow this morning followed by another inch of pellets from freezing rain. The wind blew from the south most of the day and it wasn't until a little after noon that we got another little dusting of snow but that ended before one o'clock. We even got a little break in the clouds before sunset as the winds shifted around to the west-northwest and finally from the north.

According to the radar on Weather.com and AccuWeather.com we could still get some more snow tonight but certainly not the balance of the foot they forecast just a day ago.

The temperatures all day have been between 25 and 30 degrees. It's currently dropped back to 25-26 degrees but with the winds picking up, the wind chill makes it feel closer to 12-14 degrees.

Ooops!

From James Lewis over at American Thinker we have this:

22 UN climate models flunk

Prediction is hard, especially about the future, said Yogi Berra. So why not try to predict the past? A study in the Royal Metereological Society journal did just that, focusing on the best available evidence of the past 25 years. Measuring instruments have improved immensely in accuracy and coverage in recent decades, using satellites, weather balloons and surface sensors.

Alas, all 22 math models use by the United Nations failed to predict the last twenty-five years.


The link enclosed in the quote will take you to the report of the research, published on-line Wednesday in the Royal Meteorological Society’s International Journal of Climatology. From that report we have this beaut:
The 22 climate models used in this study are the same models used by the UN Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC), which recently shared a Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore.

And this understatement of the year:
"We suggest ... that projections of future climate based on these models should be viewed with much caution," said Dr. Fred Singer from the University of Virginia.

"...a form of mental illness has
gripped the world's elites..."

As I sit in the midst of the second winter storm this week, there’s this to ponder from Friday’s column by Mark Steyn:

Children? Not if you love the planet

…At the recent climate jamboree in Bali, the Rev. Al Gore told the assembled faithful: "My own country, the United States, is principally responsible for obstructing progress here." Really? The American Thinker's Web site ran the numbers. In the seven years between the signing of Kyoto in 1997 and 2004, here's what happened:

•Emissions worldwide increased 18.0 percent;
•Emissions from countries that signed the treaty increased 21.1 percent;
•Emissions from nonsigners increased 10.0 percent; and
•Emissions from the United States increased 6.6 percent.

It's hard not to conclude a form of mental illness has gripped the world's elites….


(h/t Fausta for pointing this out.)

Steyn has gotten to the heart of the matter once again. For all the blather about how important the Kyoto accord was/is and how the US has become a stumbling block on the road to progress, not one of the signatory nations has come close to meeting the goals set down on that piece of paper. Not one has even come close to reducing emissions. And the US has the smallest increase (by percentage) than any one of them.

Yet, because the Senate rejected the idea of Kyoto I and President Clinton let it die a quiet death upon his desk, we—the US—are the bad guys. Mental illness indeed.

In other news we have this from the Bali talks:

Bali breakthrough launches talks

Nearly 200 nations agreed at U.N.-led talks in Bali on Saturday to launch negotiations on a new pact to fight global warming after a last-minute reversal by the United States allowed a breakthrough.

Washington said the agreement marked a new chapter in climate diplomacy after six years of disputes with major allies since President George W. Bush pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol, the main existing plan for combating warming.

But despite its dramatic turnaround in the meeting, which approved a "roadmap" for two years of negotiations to adopt a new treaty to succeed Kyoto beyond 2012, the White House said it still had "serious concerns" about the way forward.

(Forget for a moment that it was President Clinton who did not present the Koyoto Accord to the Senate for confirmation after the Senate voted down the idea of it unanimously.)

Let us hope that the “reversal” was done to help the other nations to save face and participate in the Hawaii meetings scheduled for early next year. (Actually they pulled the numerical goals out of the body of the pact—a US requirement—before the US delegate said, essentially, Okay, I’ll take this back to Washington and see if it will fly.)

Like the original Kyoto Accord, this Bali Pact could still die on the Hill or in the White House.

As for this little POS:
"The U.S. has been humbled by the overwhelming message by developing countries that they are ready to be engaged with the problem, and it's been humiliated by the world community. I've never seen such a flip-flop in an environmental treaty context ever," said Bill Hare of Greenpeace.
Eat whale blubber, Mr. Hale.

The ink wasn’t dry before this report appeared:

Climate deal runs straight into trouble with US
A hard-fought deal fixing a 2009 deadline for a new treaty to tackle global warming ran straight into trouble Sunday with the United States voicing "serious concerns" over its provisions.

As negotiators headed home after two weeks of intense haggling, the White House complained that the agreement did not do enough to commit major emerging economies such as China and India to big cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

It underlined lingering division over how to confront the perils of global warming, which scientists warn will put millions of people at risk of hunger, homelessness and disease by the end of the century if temperatures keep rising at current rates.


There’s a mighty big “if” in that last sentence. More an more voices are decrying the “science” behind the IPCC report and the guess work that it contains. Fudged numbers, cherry picked data sets, poorly designed computer models, and a host of other problems exist within that document.

Even so, it seems like far, far more talk will be needed to “settle” this deal. But then again, what was the two weeks in Bali all about? There is absolutely NOTHING here that is binding EXCEPT that they will meet again:(emphasis added)
With the deal, the summit of 190 nations launched a process to negotiate a new treaty for when the UN Kyoto Protocol's pledges on slashing greenhouse gas emissions expire in 2012….

European nations and environmentalists broadly welcomed the move, although it did not go as far as many had wished by failing to specify any targets for slashing emissions blamed for global warming.

An isolated US delegation had backed down during an unplanned 13th day of talks and said it would finally accept the deal, but hours later US President George W. Bush's administration counter-attacked.

The White House said any Kyoto successor treaty must acknowledge a nation's sovereign right to pursue economic growth and energy security.

No nation, but especially the US, should give up its sovereignty to an organization as inept and corrupt as the UN—or the EU.
While there were several positive aspects to the Bali deal, it added, the "United States does have serious concerns about other aspects of the decision as we begin the negotiations."

The United States is the only major industrialised nation to reject Kyoto, arguing it is unfair as it does not require fast-growing emerging economies to meet targeted emissions cuts.

China is the world's second largest greenhouse-gas emitter after the United States, and is also outside the Kyoto treaty.

The White House said future talks must acknowledge that developed nations could not tackle climate change on their own through targeted emissions cuts, and that emerging economies had to be drawn in.

"Empirical studies on emission trends in the major developing economies now conclusively establish that emissions reductions principally by the developed world will be insufficient to confront the global problem effectively."

“The United States is the only major industrialised nation to reject Kyoto….” True. And the US has the lowest increase in greenhouse gases. Nearly one-third the increase the signees have so far had. One has to wonder why the EU countries aren’t putting action to their words.

As I’ve said in previous posts, the best thing for the US—and the world—would be if these blowhards just kept on talking without coming to any agreement. That way, in five or six years when it becomes clear that the science behind the IPCC report was just so much junk, all we will have lost is the cost of a few conferences in exotic locales.

As for what happens in Washington, any Senator who votes to give up US sovereignty should be run out of town on a rail--forget recall or impeachment--and don't spare the tar and feathers.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Ouch!

That's all, just: Ouch!

Pup latches onto urinating man

"Head out on the highway..."

"Get your motor runnin'
Head out on the highway
Lookin' for adventure
In whatever comes our way"
--Born To Be Wild--

Back in the early 1980s, while pursuing a Master of Science degree at Seton Hall University, I spent two years live trapping white-footed deer mice (Peromyscus leucopus) on the medians and in the adjacent woods along Interstates 287 and 78. My goal was to see if the mice crossed the roadways in their wanderings. I trapped and tagged well over 150 white-footed deer mice as well as short-tailed shrews, voles, and even flying squirrels. Each of the mice would get a tag in the ear and have one or two toes clipped as a secondary means of identification. (The shrews were almost always dead in the live traps because of their hyperactive life styles but not after they had thoroughly soiled the traps, the voles were set free to roam as they wished, and the flying squirrels were petted and admired for their sleek coats before being allowed to scamper up the nearest tree.)

As a result of that study, I learned that damn few (if any) mice crossed the road either intentionally or successfully. Only one brave (lucky?) individual was caught on both sides of the highway’s two lanes and shoulder. Whether they didn’t venture across the road because of the hawks and owls that would have snapped them up when out in the open or they became nothing more than furred Frisbees if they did make the attempt, I did not discover.

Because of that work, I find this piece of new interesting:
Highway Habitats: Where Rodents Thrive

While I did achieve my goal of receiving my MS in Ecology/Wildlife Biology (possibly the only one Seton hall has ever granted in that field), I have just one question: Where the hell is my grant? Now that I have the time to do a real study, I’ve no affiliation that could help fund such a venture. *sigh*

Christmas Bird Count

Today was the day the Tiadaghton Audubon Society held its annual Christmas Bird Count. Teams of volunteers headed out to various parts of Tioga County within our 10-mile radius circle to identify bird species and numbers.

Terry and I went over to the Ives Run Recreation Area on Hammond Lake to do a little birding and do our part in the Count. The morning temperatures were between 18 and 22 degrees and the ground was covered with 8 inches of snow. While Crooked Creek, the main tributary of Hammond Lake was ice free, much of the lake was not. The tail race below the dam and Tioga Lake above the dam were open and attracted lots of Ring-billed Gulls and Common Mergansers respectively. The woods along Crooked Creek and the hedgerows near the game management area feeding plots were filled with numerous birds but only of a limited number of species. After four and a half hours in the field, we headed over to one of the members houses where we met up with other birders who had been out to compare notes over some hot chili, coffee and dessert.

Here's our (Terry's an my) record for today:

Location: Ive's Run
Observation date: 12/15/07


Morning was clear and cold (18-22 degrees). Very little open water on Hammond Lake. Most water fowl were in the spillway tailrace or in Tioga Lake just above the dam.
Number of species: 20

Canada Goose 96
Mallard 17
Common Merganser 150
Bald Eagle 2
Red-tailed Hawk 1
Ring-billed Gull 150
Mourning Dove 3
Northern Flicker 1
Blue Jay 29
American Crow 25
Black-capped Chickadee 9
Tufted Titmouse 5
White-breasted Nuthatch 5
Bohemian Waxwings 16
European Starling 50
American Tree Sparrow 45
Dark-eyed Junco 54
Northern Cardinal 1
American Goldfinch 3
Evening Grosbeak 6
House Sparrow 8

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(http://ebird.org)


Not bad for a cold winter's morning. But there are many species that we normally see at the Aerie that weren't at Ives Run.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Toga! Toga!

Glenn Reynolds (aka Instapundit ) is suddenly getting all Animal House.

First, The Flounder Principle ,( “Or as they said in Animal House, "You f*cked up. You trusted us."”) was introduced the other day and today we have reference to Senator Bluto and our Delta House Congress.

Yeah, good times at Faber College back in the ‘60s, good times.

How'd I forget these?

I was surfing the net today reading some of the posts from folks on my favorites list when I thought to check by Blogroll as well. Horror of horrors, I discovered that there are a couple of names not over there on the right side of the page that should be.
Somehow, I completely failed to list that irascible little one from Brooklyn who owns and operates Erica's Blog whose comments across the www and posts have caused me to be alternately amused and concerned.

Then there is Marko over at the munchkin wrangler. I think I first got into reading his work because of this essay. I continue to read because, well, he’s a browncoat, if you know what I mean, and I like his view of the world. He’s recently moved to New Hampshire and is swiftly learning the ways of snow removal. ;-)

Go on over and look at their stuff. Just be warned that Erica likes Black Russians and uses language (at times) that would make a sailor blush and Marko is a straight shooter who can tell it like it is. So be prepared.

Operations Order 12-2007

Morning Glory posts:

Operations Order 12-2007For: Official Visit of Brigadier General Santa Clause

1. An official staff visit by BG Claus is expected at this post on 25 Dec. The following directives govern activities of all Army personnel during the visit.

a. Not a creature will stir without permission. This includes warrant officers and mice. Soldiers may obtain special stirring permits for necessary administrative action through the Battalion S-2 Officer. Stirring permits must be obtained through the Deputy, Post Plans and Policy Office.

b. All personnel will settle their brains for a long winter nap NLT 2200 hours, 24 December. Uniform for the nap will be; Pajamas, Cotton, Light Weight, General Purpose, OG, and Cap, BDU woodland pattern, with ear flaps in the extended position. Equipment will be drawn from the supply room prior to 1900 hours. While at supply, all personnel will review their personal hand receipts and sign a Cash Collection Voucher, DD Form 1131, for all missing items. Remember, this is the “season of giving.”…


There’s more, of course, so go on over and enjoy. (I hear she got it at a Kinko’s near her.)

Talk about self corrections in the free market:

I saw this this afternoon on the Yahoo! News website at 3:30 PM EST:

Gas prices spur consumer inflation AP - 30 minutes ago

Oil prices fall on inflation report AP - 10 minutes ago

Wrong in so many ways.

First there's this little plan for pirating technology from private hands:

Greenpeace: Let Them Eat Cake
One of the hottest topics being negotiated the COP-13 is technology transfer. I was under the impression that technology usually got transferred when one party sold it to another. That's how I got the Sony Vaio on which I am typing this dispatch. Apparently that's old-fashioned thinking. Under the new post-Kyoto climate treaty, poor countries are demanding that rich countries create some kind of tech transfer fund that would be used to subsidize their purchases of new low-carbon energy and carbon sequestration technologies.

If that weren't enough there are rumblings among poor country negotiators that they want the right to simply seize the patents (nicely called "compulsory licensing" in trade talks) and make the equipment themselves. "If there is insistence on the 'full protection of intellectual property' in relation to climate-friendly technology, it would be a barrier to technology transfer," declared Martin Khor, director of the leftist Third World Network. Is threatening to confiscate their patents really the way to encourage companies and inventors to invest in creating the innovative low-carbon energy technologies that world is being told are vital to stopping dangerous climate change?

[emphasis is mine]

Then there is this lovely proposal:

Global Carbon Tax Urged at UN Climate Conference
A panel of UN participants on Thursday urged the adoption of a tax that would represent “a global burden sharing system, fair, with solidarity, and legally binding to all nations.”
“Finally someone will pay for these [climate related] costs,” Othmar Schwank, a global tax advocate, told Inhofe EPW Press Blog following the panel discussion titled “A Global CO2 Tax.” Schwank is a consultant with the Switzerland based Mauch Consulting firm

Schwank said at least “$10-$40 billion dollars per year” could be generated by the tax, and wealthy nations like the U.S. would bear the biggest burden based on the “polluters pay principle.”

The U.S. and other wealthy nations need to “contribute significantly more to this global fund,” Schwank explained. He also added, “It is very essential to tax coal.”

The environmental group Friends of the Earth, in attendance in Bali, also advocated the transfer of money from rich to poor nations on Wednesday.
“A climate change response must have at its heart a redistribution of wealth and resources,” said Emma Brindal, a climate justice campaigner coordinator for Friends of the Earth.

[emphasis is mine]

(And check out the links at the bottom of this piece for more information.)

And it seems like the science isn't the only thing that's not settled.
Bali climate talks stretch into Saturday

The best thing for the world would be if they were to leave Bali with nothing agreed upon. It serves no purpose to agree to hamstring the economy of the world’s most advanced nations to fight something that can’t be fought. To declare we, as humans, are the cause of and required to fight climate change is hubris. To have the developed nations of the world crippled would benefit only the socialistic bastards who would like to see it so.

Well, DUH!

On Drudge:

HILLARY'S MOM MAKES COMMERICAL; TESTIMONIAL FOR DAUGHTER: 'SHE'S A GOOD PERSON'...

Well gag me with a spoon! (As my sixth graders used to say.) It sounds like Mom’s talking about a serial killer. Seriously.

Can we just skip to April May...please?

New England digs out after record snowfall

Boston got 10 inches of snow. It normally gets just over 7 inches in the month of December.

And the weekend has only just begun.

One Down, One to Go

Note the temperatures in the table at the bottom of the report. It’s going to be quite cold.

Winter Wonder Land

Terry and I spent a little over an hour and a half clearing the snow from the driveway and deck this morning. I estimate we had about 8 inches of the white stuff on the ground. There were spots where the wind drifted it to nearly a foot and others where the depth was a little less because the wind blew it away.

Tracks of cottontails and deer were all over the area. In one spot on the lawn the deer had scrapped away the snow from the grass. Either they were looking to forage some of the greens or they were in either combat or mating mode (it's difficult to tell). I can make out tracks from at least three large deer and two smaller ones all converging on the scraped away snow. All the tracks then head on down the trail toward the open field beyond. I didn't follow them to see where they went.

At least we are cleared out for now. There's a bigger storm heading our way late Saturday into Sunday that the forecasters are saying may drop a foot or more on the Aerie. It may drop 18 inches or more on the Bolt Hole. If that's what happens, I may have to spend Monday clearing up here and then head to the Bolt Hole to clear that patch and shovel some of the roofs.

Winter...ya gotta love it!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas

As I mentioned this morning, we were recipients of a fairly fast moving system that reached from Boston to Baton Rouge along the spine of the Appalachian Mountains. Here at the Aerie the precipitation fell as snow from around 7 AM until 5 PM by which time the front along which the storm is moving had shifted ever so slightly to the east.We even got the tiniest peek at blue sky (or at least thinner clouds) as the sun settled beyond the mountains to the west.

I reckon we have about 8 inches of light powder on the ground with some noticeably deeper drifts where it as blown off the roof or been stopped by a row of stone or weeds.

Rather than haul the snowblower out tonight, I'll wait for tomorrow and get out there around 7:30-8:00 AM to get the driveway done.

Better hurry though. Another and potentially larger storm is forecast for Saturday night into Sunday.

Global Warming? Bah! Humbug! I say.

Another Inconvenient report.

Scientists doubt link for global warming, big hurricanes

Everyone from atmosphere experts to Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore warn that global warming eventually will spawn super-strong storms. The warmer the oceans, the more powerful the hurricanes, they say.

But a couple of noted scientists are throwing cold water on that concept.

They have found that as the Atlantic basin becomes hotter, hurricane intensity likely won't increase — and might even deflate somewhat. The reason: The ocean's heat acts to stabilize the upper atmosphere, which, in turn, hurts a storm's ability to build.
"When you warm the upper atmosphere, you make storm formation less efficient," said Gabriel Vecchi, a research oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Another chink in the armament of those pressing the Global Warming dogma. There has been so much hype over this issue that it’s getting ridiculous. Hyperbole abounds as one claim and/or dire prediction follows the other. However, one thing remains constant: the longer it takes to implement the “needed and necessary action to save the world” the more we are finding that contradicts the claims and predictions.

They found that natural factors, such as El NiƱo and wind patterns, had a greater influence on boosting storm intensity than global warming resulting from human activity.

"Even though we know oceans will warm, that doesn't mean hurricanes will intensify over the next 50 to 100 years," Soden, of UM's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, said.

That assertion doesn't exactly wash with a large segment of the scientific community, as a growing number of studies hold that global warming is steadily increasing the intensity, duration and number of tropical systems.

You mean there’s some disagreement in the science community?

The boy who cried wolf was an alarmist. Eventually it lead to his demise when the real thing showed up.

To spread hysteria about Global Warming (and I think it may be happening but it is certainly not man's fault, nor can he do a whole hell of a lot about it) is nothing short of criminal.

Are there things we should be doing about the environment and our energy consumption? You bet there are!

Will they get done because someone or some body jumps upon a soap box and starts preaching about what should be done or passes laws and regulations with unrealistic numbers to be met in incredibly short periods of time? Not bloody likely.

Bali High.

Here’s a bit of good news: With Bali climate talks deadlocked, EU threatens to boycott U.S. meeting

(Be careful clicking the link, however. The photo of the Goracle at the top of the article can curdle milk.)

Frustrated with deadlocked negotiations at a United Nations conference on global warming, the European Union threatened Thursday to boycott separate talks that are to be held by the United States next month.

Humberto Rosa, the chief delegate from Portugal, which holds the rotating EU presidency, said proposed talks by the Bush administration in Hawaii in January would be "meaningless" if there was no deal this week on the resort island of Bali.

Good. Less air flights to Hawaii for those pampered twits. That should cut down on greenhouse emissions, no?

The United States and the EU are at odds on many points, including whether an agreement signed here should include numerical targets, a move that the United States and a few other countries, including Russia, oppose. The emerging economic powers, most notably China and India, also refuse to accept limits on their emissions, despite projections that they will soon become the dominant source of the gases.


Wait! You mean Russia, China, India and “a few other countries” also disagree with the setting of numerical targets that could halt any and all development, not to mention life as we know it? I thought it was just the US that was acting “irresponsibly” by recognizing these numbers for what they are —unrealistic— and thus creating a logjam in the flow of world salvation.
"The best we hoped for was that the U.S. would not hobble the rest of the world from moving forward," said Kevin Knobloch, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit U.S. organization. "Our delegation here from the States has not been able to meet that low level of expectation."

Hey, Kevin, the US is not stopping any country from moving forward on this "noble" quest. If the EU wants to fall upon its sword, they are welcome to do so. Just remember that they haven’t even come close to meeting the goals set by the original Koyoto Accord. This is one area I would prefer the USA NOT be a leader.

In an interview Thursday, Bloomberg [that’s Mayor Mike Bloomberg of NYC] said he blamed both the Bush administration and Congress for not being aggressive enough in addressing global warming.

"There's a belief that the United States should not do anything until all the other governments are willing to go along and do it at the same time," he said. "We should be doing this regardless of whether the world is following or not."

Michael, Michael, Michael…*sigh*…first off, what the heck are you doing in Bali? Second, if you want to paint the town white to reflect sunlight back into the atmosphere or mandate that all street lights, Broadway lights, etc. be turned off to conserve electricity you go right ahead. That’s where you’re fiefdom lies Mike. Go to it. At least Mayor Gavin Newsom has made some strides in that direction out in San Fran (Tough green building rules proposed for San Francisco).

*sigh*

Ahoy Matey! Aaarrgh!

Captain Kidd Ship Found

This sounds like something out of an Indiana Jones adventure with a little bit of Dirk Pitt thrown in.
The wreckage of a pirate ship abandoned by Captain Kidd in the 17th century has been found by divers in shallow waters off the Dominican Republic, a research team claims.

The underwater archaeology team, from Indiana University, says they have found the remains of Quedagh Merchant, actively sought by treasure hunters for years.

The vessel in question is the Quedah Merchant. The last straw in a less than lustrous career for a man who thought he was doing the crown’s wishes. Kidd was forced to keep this “prize” by a mutinous crew that looted and burned the vessel when he left them in the Caribbean to defend himself against piracy charges.
(Indiana University? Okay, they are bounded by Lake Michigan, the Ohio and Wabash Rivers, but what the hey are they doing in the Caribbean? One would think a university closer to the scene would have a more active underwater archaeology team, but no, IU happens to have a world renowned team. Who’d have thunk it. )
It is remarkable that the wreck has remained undiscovered all these years given its location, just 70 feet off the coast of Catalina Island in the Dominican Republic in less than 10 feet of seawater.
"I've been on literally thousands of shipwrecks in my career," Beeker said. "This is one of the first sites I've been on where I haven't seen any looting. We've got a shipwreck in crystal clear, pristine water that's amazingly untouched. We want to keep it that way, so we made the announcement now to ensure the site's protection from looters."

Amazing that in an area where you would suspect there would be people fishing, diving and just plain out and about on the water a find like this can still be made.

According to the Wikipedia entry, Captain Kidd was one of the least successful of privateers/pirates. Even his capture of the vessel Quedah Merchant bearing a rich cargo and flying under an Armenian flag, was questionable as Kidd himself realized when he tried to persuade his crew to return the ship to its English captain. Unable to control his own crew, Kidd was doomed. Having lost the support of his backers (probably because he was less successful than they would have liked and because he was a bit of an incompetent leader), Kidd was convicted on one count of murder (one of his crew) and five counts of piracy. Available evidence that might have justified his acts of "piracy" was never presented at court. He was sentenced to be hung by a British court. His body remained in a cage hanging above the River Thames for two years as a warning to any and all pirates.

But..but..the science is settled!

Magma May Be Melting Greenland Ice
In recent years, Greenland’s ice has been melting more and flowing faster into the sea—a record amount of ice melted from the frozen mass this summer, according to recently released data—and Earth’s rising temperatures are suspected to be the main culprit.

But clues to a new natural contribution to the melt arose when scientists discovered a thin spot in the Earth’s crust under the northeast corner of the Greenland Ice Sheet where heat from Earth’s insides could seep through, scientists will report here this week at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

This is why science by consensus is always suspect. Just like making political decisions and pronouncements based upon poll data should always be suspect.

“The behavior of the great ice sheets is an important barometer of global climate change,” said lead scientist Ralph von Frese of Ohio State University. “However, to effectively separate and quantify human impacts on climate change, we must understand the natural impacts too.”

The corner of Greenland where the hotspot was found had no known ice streams, the rivers of ice that run through the main ice sheet and out to sea, until one was discovered in 1991. What exactly caused the stream to form was uncertain.

“Ice streams have to have some reason for being there,” von Frese said, “and it’s pretty surprising to suddenly see one in the middle of the ice sheet.”

The newly discovered hotspot, an area where Earth’s crust is thinner, allowing hot magma from Earth's mantle to come closer to the surface, is just below the ice sheet and could have caused it to form, von Frese and his team suggest.

“Where the crust is thicker, things are cooler, and where it’s thinner, things are warmer,” von Frese explained. “And under a big place like Greenland or Antarctica, natural variations in the crust will makes some parts of the ice sheet warmer than others.”


While not completely discounting the anthropomorphic causes of Global Warming/Climate Change, von Frese is saying that there are many other sources of heat and variability in temperature that need to be examined.

Just two rules to remember:
1- If someone tells you something is impossible, he is probably wrong.
2- If someone tells you something is settled, he is probably wrong.

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” - William Shakespeare

News about Terry Pratchett

Here’s some sad news about one of my favorite authors:
Terry Pratchett says he has Alzheimer's

The fact that he looks an awful lot like what I see in the mirror everyday has nothing to do with my enjoyment of his books.
Terry Pratchett
Terry Pratchett
ME
Me.

(I do wish I shared more than just good looks with Terry P. Some of his imagination and royalties would be nice! The Alzheimer's? Not so much.)

Here we go again!

(I've used that title before but it's appropriate.)

Yesterday I mentioned how the warm air swept in and melted all the snow off the ground. THIS morning we woke up to a scene from Holiday Inn. You know, the one at the end of the movie where they throw open the doors to look at all the snow falling as they sing "White Christmas."

Yeah, it's a scene right out of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." I stood on the deck and watched the snow fall--not with a light little flutter but with a "KA-THUNK!" It was a white-out situation without any wind.

The temperatures are currently hovering around 25 degrees so there's not much chance of the snow switching to sleet or rain. No, we're forecast for as much as 2-3 inches--and hour. And perhaps 6 to 10 inches total before it ends late this afternoon. When it does end, it will be time for the snowblower, I'm sure.

Oh, and did I mention we'll be getting more--perhaps just as much--on Sunday?

Yep, sure am glad we built the Aerie last year!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Presidential Elimination Process

Wherein Stephen Bainbridge explains why he’s not voting for Mike Huckabee.

I don’t agree with everything he’s written here but I do agree with his decision. No way could another Governor of Arkansas, particularly one as clueless as Huckabee get my vote. (Nor will I be casting a vote for the former Governor of Massachusetts or Mayor of NYC. Both Romney and Guliani are a little to left of where I want my President to be when it comes to immigration, taxes, the war on terror, and the 2nd Amendment.)

The only candidate who sounds like he knows what he’s talking about and who has definable concrete ideas that form a solid platform (not that they won’t get changed once the real work starts) is the one the MSM keeps saying is “lazy” or “slow to catch on” or “not really trying.” And that one is Fred Thompson.

Temperature Rollercoaster!

As though it were a play piece in a Shoots-and-Ladders game, the mercury in the old thermometer has soared and swooped and slid and climbed like crazy since 6 PM yesterday. At that time it was a mere 33 degrees outside, just barely above freezing--but above it was. That's when some one must have lit a fuse for the temperature took off like a rocket! (In truth, that was when the winds, which had been moribund all day, suddenly came from the south at 25-30 mph.) By 10 PM the thermometer registered 57 degrees--up 14 degrees in 4 hours--at night. The mercury must have peaked soon after and begun its descent. (My recording thermometer resets at midnight so any record from between 10 and 12 last night is lost to the ether. But at 1 AM it was still 50 degrees which is likely to be the high for the day.) By 7 AM this morning it was down to 36 degrees and now, at 9 AM it is a chilly 34 degrees with winds coming from the north-northwest at 10-15 mph. The forecast is for it to remain in the mid-30s for the next day or two before dropping into the 20s for the weekend. Just about where the average high for this location at this time of year should be.

The warm temperatures and heavy overnight rains did melt nearly all the ice and snow that had accumulated. Now, everything is just muddy.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Oops!

At 6:30 this morning I had a circuit breaker trip while I was using the microwave. It wasn't the first time. I traipsed off to the basement, opened the door to the workshop and proceeded to reset the breaker. I took a quick look around to see if any of the cats had followed be and not seeing any of them, I closed the workshop door and went back upstairs.

Fast forward four hours.

I'm sitting in the living room surfing the net when I hear a very faint, "Meeew?"

Thinking there might be a cat behind a door, I took a quick nose count and discovered only Chester and Shadow were present and accounted for. Julie was MIA. She wasn't in the sewing room, the laundry room, the guest bedroom or the master bedroom.

Another faint, "Meew?"

Only one other door she could be behind. So I headed for the basement and opened the workshop door. There, crouched behind the door, was Julie. The last time I had seen her, she had been in the kitchen finishing her breakfast, but obviously she had tailed me to the workshop and hid while I was resetting the breaker. She's the only one of the three without a bell on her collar, just her tag from her inoculations. Nothing for that tag to jingle-jangle against means she is one of the silent running variety of kitties. I guess I'm going to have to bell the "Old Girl" if she keeps this up.

I'll probably find some unwelcome surprise tucked in the corner.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Daily Visitors at the Aerie

With the icy weather at the Aerie today we had quite a few visitors to the feeders. I’ve already mentioned the Evening Grosbeaks. (Those shy devils wouldn’t come near the feeders while I was outside with the camera and so I missed their feeding frenzies.)

But we also had numerous Black-Capped Chickadees:

BC Chickadee DSCN0386

BC Chickadee DSCN0395

And a small flock of Common Redpolls:

2 Redpolls DSCN0392

1 Redpoll DSCN0388

As well as several Downy Woodpeckers:

Downy WP DSCN0383

Plus the usual assortment of Cardinals, Mourning Doves, Dark-eyed Juncos, White-breasted Nuthatches and Red-breasted Nuthatches. We even had a Red-tailed Hawk fly passed the window as we ate lunch. (Yesterday it was a Sharp-shinned Hawk that spooked all the little birds and, having missed on its first swing through the feeding area, it stayed to see if it could pick off any incautious little bird that might have let hunger push it back to the feeders.)

For the Birds

Less than a week ago I wrote about the presence of the lovely Evening Grosbeaks here at the Aerie. At the time we had been hosts to a small flock of approximately a dozen of the yellow/black/white birds.

Well, they have obviously been networking with their friends. That small flock has grown to over three dozen birds as the weather has taken a turn for the worse. They swoop in several times a day and feast upon the two tray feeders for as long as neither I nor the cats (who have taken an avid interest in bird watching) disturb them. To see them fly in to the feeders from the poplars at head height due to the slope, can put one in mind of Alfred Hitchcock’s movie The Birds.

The Joy (?) of Feeding the Birds

I got this one via an email and thought it sounded about right:

The Joy of Feeding The Birds:


I bought a bird feeder. I hung it on my back porch and filled it with seed.

Within a week we had hundreds of birds taking advantage of the continuous flow of free and easily accessible food.

But then the birds started building nests in the boards of the patio, above the table, and next to the barbecue.

Then came the poop - It was everywhere: on the patio tiles, the chairs, the table... everywhere.

Then some of the birds turned mean. They would dive bomb me and try to peck me even though I had fed them out of my own pocket.

And others birds were boisterous and loud. They sat on the feeder and squawked and screamed at all hours of the day and night and demanded that I fill it when it got low on food.

After a while, I couldn't even sit on my own back porch anymore.

I took down the bird feeder and in three days the birds were gone.

I cleaned up their mess and took down the many nests they had built all over the patio.

Soon, the back yard was like it used to be...... quiet, serene and no one demanding their rights to a free meal.

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Now lets see....... our government gives out free food, subsidized housing, free medical care, free education and allows anyone born here to be an automatic citizen.

Then the illegal's came by the MILLIONS!!!!!

Suddenly our taxes went up to pay for free services; small apartment's are housing 5 families, you have to wait 6 hours to be seen by an emergency room doctor, your child's 2nd grade class is behind other schools because over half the class doesn't speak English.

Corn Flakes now come in a bilingual box, I have to press 'one' to hear my bank talk to me in English, and people waving flags other than 'Old Glory' are squawking and screaming in the streets, demanding more rights and free liberties.



Maybe it's time for the government to take down the bird feeder??

Icy at the Aerie

"Ice, white ice, like a winding-sheet, sheathing each smoke-grimed wall;
Ice on the stove-pipe, ice on the bed, ice gleaming over all;"
--The Ballad of Blasphemous Bill by R. W. Service

Okay, it might not be that bad, but there is a thin sheen of ice on every branch and every horizontal surface. The temperature has hovered just around the freezing mark and the drizzle that fell during the night (and continues off and on this morning) has frozen where it fell. Small icicles hang from the edge of the roofs of both the house and bird feeders.

Birds trying to land on the deck railing have slid like 747s on icy runways. (One of the more comical scenes this morning was the sight of a mourning dove trying to land on a branch that was sloped at about 15-20 degrees. Poor thing slid 8 or 9 inches before coming to rest against another twig that branched off from the one it landed upon.) Seeds in the tray feeders have become frozen in a bed of ice. I had to be very cautious when I went out to place some fresh seed on top of the ice.

Conditions are not going to get much better this morning but there's a chance that the temps will rise a degree or two and that might lead to something of a thaw.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

This is Hillar(y)ious

SwiftKids for Cookies



There are more from the SwiftKids of 23/6 over at the YouTube site so click on through.

(h/t Jo's Cafe and The Pirate's Cove)

Almost!

So close, and yet so far.

Earthquake strikes near Bali climate conference
A 5.9-magnitude earthquake struck off Bali on Friday, where it rocked a conference centre hosting more than 10,000 delegates for a key UN climate change summit.

The earthquake struck southwest of the Bali resort of Nusa Dua, where nations are meeting to craft a strategy to combat climate change, Indonesia's Meteorology and Geophysics Agency said.

The quake struck at a depth of 10 kilometres and there was no threat of a tsunami, the agency said.

"This is too small to trigger a tsunami," geophysics agency head Suharjono told AFP, adding that the agency had received no reports of damage.

A near miss. Come on, try again.

(h/t Tim Blair )

An interesting question:

Is global warming just the latest Salem witch hunt?

(h/t Tim Blair )

One Year Ago this week…

December 7-13: Work continued on the construction of our log homeexterior work as well as interior. We were incredibly lucky in having very fair weather throughout the fall and early winter construction process. While we had a few days that were quite cold, most were of the Indian Summer variety that allowed Don and the rest of the crew work outside as well as in.

Terry was still up in the Bolt Hole but we were getting closer to the big move into the Aerie. Right now there’s more than a foot of snow on the ground about the Bolt Hole. If it had been there last year things would have been much more difficult.

A lot has changed in one year!

Flip-Flop

Fox News is reporting that NBC has changed its mind about airing the Freedom’s Watch ads. I don’t suppose it had anything to do with the many, many blogs that pointed the finger at their decision or the tons of emails and phone calls they probably received. Perhaps, next time, they might think before they jump the shark.
NBC REVERSES COURSE, AGREES TO AIR TROOP 'THANK YOU' AD

Can we question their (MSM) partisanship now?

This might go a long way to explaining the idiocy at NBC. Red State reports , you decide.
NBC Lawyer who nixed troop ad gives generously to Congressional Democrats...at least $45,000 to a host of Congressional Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, New York Senator Hillary Clinton and the campaign committees of House and Senate Democrats.

According to a Fox News report, Richard Cotton, the general counsel for NBC/Universal, was one of two network officials who decided not to sell ad time to Freedom’s Watch, which describes itself as “a nonpartisan movement dedicated to preserving, protecting, and defending conservative principles and promoting a conservative agenda.”


At least Freedom's Watch is willing to announce its conservative agenda (although the ads don’t display it or flaunt it in any way and are strictly thank you notes to the troops and their families). Richard Cotton and NBC...perfect together. Jerks!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Shame on NBC

NBC has refused to play this simple ad from FreedomsWatch.org extending thanks to the troops who are in harms way this holiday season.



We've come a long way from the days of Bob Hope's USO tours, nearly all of which NBC aired. The 1970 and '71 Vietnam shows are reported to have been viewed by 60% of American households. But now NBC won't air a 30 second commercial saying, "thanks."

From The Devil's Kitchen:
Diary of a snow shoveller

The Devil's Kitchen: Diary of a snow shoveller

Go ahead. Read it.

GLOBAL Warming

If it’s a GLOBAL problem, doesn’t it require a GLOBAL solution?

Blue Crab Boulevard links to a report that suggests that that is never going to happen.

China To West: Get Bent

(As linked at Maggie’s Farm. )

The Sunspots Are Missing

Ray of hope: Can the sun save us from global warming?

Something is happening to our Sun. It has to do with sunspots, or rather the activity cycle their coming and going signifies. After a period of exceptionally high activity in the 20th century, our Sun has suddenly gone exceptionally quiet. Months have passed with no spots visible on its disc. We are at the end of one cycle of activity and astronomers are waiting for the sunspots to return and mark the start of the next, the so-called cycle 24. They have been waiting for a while now with no sign it's on its way any time soon.

And if the sunspots don’t return soon, we could be in for a period of dramatic change. But not in the direction the Global Warming alarmists are predicting. Instead we could be on the threshold of a mini ice age.
Following the discovery of the cycle, astronomers looked back through previous observations and were able to see it clearly until they reached the 17th century, when it seemed to disappear. It turned out to be a real absence, not one caused by a lack of observations. Astronomers called it the "Maunder Minimum." It was an astonishing discovery: our Sun can change. Between 1645 and 1715 sunspots were rare. About 50 were observed; there should have been 50,000.

Ever since the sunspot cycle was discovered, researchers have looked for its rhythm superimposed on the Earth's climate. In some cases it's there but usually at low levels. But there was something strange about the time when the sunspots disappeared that left scientists to ponder if the sun's unusual behaviour could have something to do with the fact that the 17th century was also a time when the Earth's northern hemisphere chilled with devastating consequences.

Scientists call that event the "Little Ice Age" and it affected Europe at just the wrong time. In response to the more benign climate of the earlier Medieval Warm Period, Europe's population may have doubled. But in the mid-17th century demographic growth stopped and in some areas fell, in part due to the reduced crop yields caused by climate change. Bread prices doubled and then quintupled and hunger weakened the population.

Call me a conspiracy theorist if you want, but could this be why there is such a push by the believers in anthropomorphic global warming to commit to a course of action to cut greenhouse gases (notably CO2) now, “before it’s too late”? If their movement is slowed or delayed a few years, we could well see a reduction in temperatures without having done a thing. If they (the alarmists) get their way and push through their agenda they can take credit for those temperature changes EVEN WHEN THEY HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE DROP IN TEMPERATURES.

Just a thought.