Thursday, January 31, 2008

Lazy ole sun

Well now, this (Sun's low magnetic activity may portend an ice age) can’t be good. Of course, if it does start to cool down considerable, all those who have jumped on the Goracle’s, coattails and ridden them for all they were worth will have a lot of ‘splainin’ to do. (Nah, they’ll just claim their actions avoided the horrors of Global Warming.)

Ground Hog's Day, 2008

Last year around this time I wrote a rather benign piece about Candlemas and Ground Hog’s Day.

I’m not feeling that pleasantly disposed about the whole thing this year. It’s been cold. My truck is still in the shop. And my kids have dispersed to the ends of the continent. (One has gone off to Eugene, Oregon while the other has returned to Grandma’s house in Linden, New Jersey.) I got a look at all the W2 forms and realized how much, even in retirement, we have had deducted from our income by Uncle Sam's hoods at the IRS. Capone would have been proud. Besides, have you looked at our presidential choices?

Tomorrow is the first of February and we all know what that means. Saturday morning, February 2nd, west of here in the wilds of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania thousands will gather around a faux stump atop the inauspiciously named Gobbler’s Knob to watch a group of elderly gentlemen in top hats and tails perform a mystic rite that has been repeated annually since 1886. It's time to wake up Punxsutawney Phil and ask when winter will end.

One of the Inner Circle will reach into the stump and pull a sleepy little rodent, Punxsutawney Phil (we’ll just call him Phil from now on, ‘kay?) out of his winter’s burrow. They will hold the poor sod up for the admiring throngs and place him on a flat surface as the time the sun break is supposed to rise.

Everyone will hold their breath while this Groundhog, Phil, (also known as a Woodchuck and nothing more than a chubby little rodent) gets its bearings and opens one lazy eye. He’s been asleep since last October, you see, and wants nothing more than to return to the Land of Nod until sometime in late April or early May when the new grasses will have emerged and there's something to eat available. Yet, these hundreds—nay, thousands—of people are waiting for him to make a prediction.

Another of the Inner Circle leans forward quite gingerly (a sleepy groundhog may awaken in a foul mood!) to extract the desired information from Phil (plus one or two pertinent comments).

The major domo who has received the vital information (in the form of a scroll? Who knew Groundhogs could write!) will stand and proclaim the result of Phil’s careful deliberations between himself and his shadow. Will we have six more weeks of winter, or is spring right around the corner? Whatever Phil predicts, he’s going back to sleep when all is over. Yea, to sleep, perchance to dream of sweet, tender grass shoots and female Groundhogs named Phyllis.

The humans in the crowd will go their merry way and wait for the Spring Solstice on March 20, almost exactly six weeks in the future, to mark the true coming of Spring.

If you can’t be in Punxsutawney for the molestation of Phil, you can watch it all by going to The Official Website of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club where the Prediction will be made live. Broadcast festivities start at 7 AM EST. (With any luck Phil might wake up enough to bite his Handler or the reader of the Prognostication.)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Traveling Music

When I purchased the Aveo for Terry I noticed the audio system no longer included a tape cassette player. When we got the Tundra, we again lost a cassette player. Now, I realize there are fewer and fewer tape cassettes being sold in music stores these days. I know this even though I haven’t been in a music store for a bit. Not because I’ve been downloading music or anything. I just got tired of dropping a C-note every time I walked into a Sam Goody’s. Even before I managed to keep out of the music stores, the tape displays were making way for more and more CDs. That’s even true at the local WalMart. But I’ve got probably close to two hundred or more cassettes. And I almost never listen to them anywhere but in the car. What to do?

While I had Jessica here (she's going to bug out tomorrow to avoid any ice on Friday), I got a quick tutorial on converting music tapes into MP3 files using Garage Band on my MAC PowerBook. Later I’ll burn some of those MP3 files onto CDs so I can play them in the truck. I spent most of the afternoon recording four ZZ Top’s tapes. Next up will be some Tractors and Bruce Hornsby.

Maybe, when I get done I’ll take the cassettes down to the local 2nd Hand Shop and see if I can get anything for them. Right now he’s got a pretty pathetic selection of tapes there from artists (?) of whom you’ve never heard.

Another Visitor

The daughter has been here at the Aerie for the last couple of days and has been getting her fill of kitty love. Chester and Julie have gone nuts over having another lap to climb into while Shadow figures there’s another set of hands to open the treats for her.

Terry and Jessica drove up to the Corning Glass Museum for a couple of hours today. The last time Jess was there was when she was about five or six years old. It was during one of our family tours of western New York State. They said the Museum was very empty what with it being a school day and all, but they had a good time anyway. Both said they really, really enjoyed the glass blowing demonstration because the furnaces were soooo warm!

I stayed home to contact the body shop about my Tundra. The new roof is installed and the painting is done. There was just one little problem. They hired a glass specialty company to pull the windshield and the back window on the cab and when they did, they damaged the windshield’s molding. The body shop was awaiting a replacement molding and hoped to get it this afternoon or tomorrow morning at the latest. Instead of getting my truck back today, I’ll have to wait until Thursday or Friday. If it’s Friday, I may have to wait even longer as there is a winter storm watch out for significant accumulation starting late Thursday night.

As Pepe LePew used to say, “le sigh!”

That’s a stinker of a forecast. I would need to take Terry’s Aveo to get the 4x4 Tundra, but I would need to load the Aveo into the bed of the Tundra to get it back up the hill. With luck, however, the ice storm could be over by the afternoon and we might be able to retrieve the Tundra before the shop closes.

I’ll be bringing more firewood into the garage tomorrow just to be on the safe side. We got lucky today, even with the strong winds, we never lost power. I was reminded of just how lucky when we went down to Mansfield for dinner at the China Buffet. (I get a jones for General Tsao’s chicken every now and again.) The CB is in a small strip mall that includes a Pizza Hut and in the lot were five huge utility trucks towing wood chippers. The crews were all having their dinner at the Pizza Hut, we saw them walk in when we arrived. They were obviously getting done with a long day of clearing trees. (That or they were getting ready for round two that begins Thursday night/Friday morning.)

The Hawk is Howling--again

Yesterday, the wind blew from the southwest and the temperatures "soared into the upper 30's. Hunkered down on the north side of the mountain a few hundred feet from the crest, we were protected from the wind but could hear it in the tree tops. A strong front moved through early this morning and ahead of it we got enough rain to remove all snow from the lawn and woods about the Aerie. Then, as it swept past, we got a brief moment of sleet in the form of little white pellets almost like hail. That is now gone but the temperatures are falling off the edge of the table and the wind, which has shifted and now comes from the northwest, is gusting up past the 35 mph mark. Located on the northwest side of the hill we are, therefore, totally exposed to the onslaught of the winds. You can hear it whistling in the eaves of the Aerie and occasionally there's a creak of the log walls being buffeted by the winds. At times it sounds like a train rushing past. Surprisingly there have been no power outages.

Here's the severe weather alert posted on

What it doesn't say is the high pressure will also bring very much lower temperatures. The forecast low for tonight is 11 degrees and we'll be lower than that at the Aerie.

Watching the hanging bird feeders swing and sway in the wind there's no mystery as to why the birds are choosing to feed on the fixed trays or even the ground. They probably don't have enough Dramamine to spend more than a few seconds on the tossing hanging feeders.

That's a heck of an endorsment, Hill.

So I see sHillary has received the endorsement of Florida Congressman Alcee Hasting . Seems only fitting. She has the backing of a former president who was impeached and found guilty of perjury for lying under oath. What’s more fitting than being backed by a Congressman who, as a federal judge was impeached for bribery and perjury and was removed from the bench.

With Hastings, sHillary gets a twofer, convicted sitting federal judge and current sitting congressman. Now, since she lost out on Teddy's backing (the Swimmer would have been a perfect match for her), if she can find a former or current U.S. Senator with an impeachment conviction….

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

New On the Blogroll

I’m adding Cripes Suzette to my blogroll over on the right after being directed to take a gander at these two entries:
What Would Jackie Do?

I Dreamed I Saw Ole Bill Last Night

I like the way the lady thinks and her talent at parody and humor is superb. Check out the two posts linked above and then peruse the rest of her entries. (She’s out of town for a while so don’t leave a mess. ‘Kay?)

Google Maps Gone Wrong

(from neatorama )

Were there Illinois Nazis involved?

I was unaware they were filming another Blues Brothers movie. This time in Japan.

2,240 police, 460 patrol cars, copter mobilized for car chase in Osaka

(Actually, I wish they were filming another BB flick. The music was great in the first two.)

Recession? What recession?

I’m shocked! Shocked, I say that his has even made it through the AP filters.

Durable Goods Orders Rise by 5.2 Percent

Orders to factories for big-ticket manufactured goods soared in December by the largest amount in five months, welcome news for an economy buffeted by talk of recession.

The 5.2 percent increase in orders was a surprise finish for the manufacturing sector at year's end — a segment of the economy considered to have had a poor year.

This has got to be disappointing news for those looking forward to, nay, salivating over the prospect of a recession.

"I was working in the lab late one night..."

Do Ron and Kim know what you’re doing to their little buddy, Rufus?

Strange Creature Immune to Pain
As vulnerable as naked mole rats seem, researchers now find the hairless, bucktoothed rodents are invulnerable to the pain of acid and the sting of chili peppers.

Why would you even test for that?” asks my daughter.
"They're the nicest, sweetest animals I've ever worked with — they look frightening, but they're very gentle," said neurobiologist Thomas Park at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

So why the hell are you subjecting them to these tests!? The mole rats lack a “chemical Substance P which causes the feeling of burning pain in mammals.”
The researchers discovered that when unconscious mole rats had their paws injected with a slight dose of acid, "about what you'd experience with lemon juice," Park said, as well as some capsaicin — the active ingredient of chili peppers — the rodents showed no pain.

Okay, so your means of torture upon these “nicest, sweetest animals” proved futile. Did you leave it at that? Noooooo!
To explore their pain resistance further, the researchers used a modified cold sore virus to carry genes for Substance P to just one rear foot of each tested rodent. Park and his colleagues found the DNA restored the naked mole rats' ability to feel the burning sensation other mammals experience from capsaicin.

"They'd pull their foot back and lick it," Park said. Other feet remained impervious to the sting of capsaicin.

Hell, yeah! You gave them a freakin’ HOT FOOT!
"Capsaicin is very specific for exciting the fibers that normally have Substance P," Park added. "They're not the fibers that respond to a pinprick or pinch, but the ones that respond after an injury or burn and produce longer-lasting pain."

Curiously, the researchers found that mole rats remained completely insensitive to acids, even with the Substance P genes. This suggests there is a fundamental difference in how their nerves respond to such pain.

Sometimes I wonder, “How the heck did they come up with the idea to do this? And why?”
Specifically, Park noted this research adds to existing knowledge about Substance P. "This is important specifically to the long-term, secondary-order inflammatory pain. It's the pain that can last for hours or days when you pull a muscle or have a surgical procedure," he explained.

As such, these findings might shed new light on chronic pain. Park said, "We're learning which nerve fibers are important for which kinds of pain, so we'll be able to develop new strategies and targets."

Okay, that sort of explains the “Why?” I'm all for relieving chronic pain.

Now about that “How did you decide to do this” question….

Holy Moly!

Doug Ross has compiled a list of numbers that should scare the crap out of anyone.
Hillary Clinton by the Numbers

After reading these, you have to wonder why/how Hillary could even be considered a leading candidate for leader of anything other than a cell block.

h/t to Jimbo for pointing this out at Parkway Rest Stop

Monday, January 28, 2008

Marooned no more

So, this morning, when there was no sign of the road having been cindered, Terry called the township office and asked that a truck be sent out to cinder the icy segment of the road that passes the Aerie. The person at the other end said the crew was out clearing brush but she would try to get someone out as soon as possible.

About an hour later the big yellow dump truck with its flashing yellow light and a load of cinders came up the hill and spread those little black suckers thickly upon the road.

I was elected to go down and get the mail in the Aveo and ventured out about fifteen minutes after the truck went up the hill. I found lots and lots of cinders on the road which made me feel much more comfortable about driving down and making it back up. Less than a half mile down the road (and after dropping a few hundred feet) I found the road bare of snow and ice. Of course, it was also out of the trees and had pasture on both sides so the wind could sweep the road clean and the sun could get to the surface and melt what was remained. No wonder there was never a though that cindering might be needed. Down in the valley, it wasn't. (In contrast, the section just below the Aerie is shaded by pines on the side of the road that keep the road cooler.)

Coming back from the post office I had no difficulty at all making it up the road and into the driveway.

Terry called the office to say thanks for sending some one out.

Later this afternoon, daughter Jessica, who came out from NJ for a few days' visit and to celebrate her Birthday, was able to drive up in her Yaris with no difficulty.

Still, if I had the cash available--which I don't--I wold be looking for an inexpensive 4x4 or all-wheel drive vehicle.

Of course, if I just had a couple of old K-cars....

Sunday, January 27, 2008

To the rescue

We had about an inch of fresh, powdery snow over night and, being Sunday, the road crew never bothered to come by the Aerie to cinder the road.

Also being a Sunday, Terry felt the call to attend mass down in the valley. She waited until the 11:30 service hoping the cinder man would come by before she left or before she returned but neither happened.

Now, as I've said, the Aerie is situated at 2100 feet above sea level and around 700 feet above the valley floor and Route 6. We gain the last 200 feet along our road in about half a mile which makes the road a round a 20-30 degree slope (or at least it seems that way). Terry drives a little yellow front-wheel drive, five-speed Aveo that weighs next to nothing.

Well, the road was a bit slick this noon hour when she returned from church and she--being a bit more cautious than I--slipped and slid to a stop about 100 feet short of the driveway. I got the call to go rescue her.

Now, starting from a dead stop and trying to go uphill on an icy slope is a sure way to spend time spinning your wheels, so I backed into a neighbor's drive and turned to go down hill. No problem. I did a u-turn on a semi-flat stretch and headed back up the hill at 30 mph in 3rd gear with no intention of slowing down until I reached the driveway. I got about 10 feet further than Terry did before the ice beneath my wheels started spinning. My forward speed dropped to almost-but-not-quite 0mph while the speedometer said I was doing 20. I dropped the gearbox down to 2nd.

I tried moving from side to side to find a patch of cinder beneath the snow and managed to inch my way up the hill, into the driveway and into the garage.

Since Rick took the Blazer back west, I just may have to go out and look for a small, 4x4, pick-up for Terry to drive during the winter. I don't think she could take an ATV to church.

Good grief!

After three hole in the Buick Classic, Tiger Woods leads by 11 strokes. Maybe that gal from ESPN Golf was right.

(Just kidding!)

After three months layoff, Woods has certainly come out of the box on fire! (He does have to work on his fairway accuracy, however. He ranks 59th in that category in the tournament.)

Gaaaaaaah! I'm posting about GOLF!?

When the hell is the Super Bowl? And When do pitchers and catchers report?

Liberals Anonymous

Over at American Thinker, C. MacLeod Fuller has an article titled The 13 Steps of Liberals Anonymous wherein he (I’m assuming the author is a ”he”) discusses a new recovery program for awakening and recovering liberals, namely Liberals Anonymous or LibAnon for short.
Liberals Anonymous (LibAnon) is a nationwide organization of current, former, and recovering American liberals and Democrats. Its sole mission is to establish and maintain recovery programs designed to help similar individuals overcome the plethora of congenital illnesses inherent in postmodern American liberalism with which they are embittered.

Like many recovery programs, there is a need to first recognize your situation and then harbor a desire to act to rectify/alleviate the problem. There are difficulties associated with even these simple precursors.

Many LibAnon members have never before experienced an opinion actually based in either fact or the experiential real world, much less both. Academicians, politicians, and Episcopalians are the organization's most difficult members in which to affect even a semblance of thought moderation - much less cure.

Recovery is difficult but LibAnon has developed the 13 Prescriptive Principles or "Steps" specifically to assist the recovering American liberal. I will not detail these Steps here, but encourage you to go over to C. MacLeod Fuller’s article and read the whole thing. If you’re an American liberal it might help. If you’re not it’s worth the time to learn how you might help the less fortunate.

I leave you, however, with Fuller’s CAVEAT:
The only requirement for LibAnon membership is the desire to stop being a Liberal. This can occur as a Heisenbergesque quantum leap or a lengthy, drawn out process. If the morally-relativistic, anti-capitalist, all-expressions-of-thought-are-equally-valid-moral-and-ingenious, who-am-I-to-be-discerning liberal in your life is aghast at the idea a formal code of behavior may actually be required to live genuinely in this world (and make amends for his past), you can put your mind at ease - eventually, either in this life or the next, he will see the light.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

It's worth a thought

With the choices with which we have been presented, this might be a viable alternative.

Cthulhu 2008 Bumper sticker

Stolen from The Smallest Minority

Available at along with shirts and other stuff.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Free advice to the Giants

Just for fun, I think each and every one of the Giants’ players should be issued a “boot” to wear when they hold open practice on the fields of Arizona. Redwings, cowboy boots (no, ion second thought scratch the cowboy boots unless they have to scrape the cowboy out of them first), Survivors (available at your local WalMart), rubber galoshes, any kind of boot would do. It would be the sort of move that would lighten the mood of the team while at the same time poking fun at all the attention Tom Brady’s “walking cast” has been getting.

Happy Birthday Jessica!

As the day winds down I would be remiss in not wishing my daughter, Jessica, a very happy birthday. It was 28 (28!?) years ago today that she appeared upon this Earth of ours and changed the lives of her mother and I completely. Mostly for the better, I might add.

A talented musician who played any instrument they gave her in middle school and high school and Jessica went on the study Music Education at the University of Massachusetts from which she graduated in 2003. Somewhere along the way, she taught herself to read Japanese ("It's just like reading a music score, Dad.") and spent a semester in Japan.

She has mad skills on the computer and is a MAC whiz to whom I defer. (While still in high school, she assisted me and a fellow teacher in installing software in a new middle school computer lab. She also worked in her high school's and college's computer labs as a trouble shooter.) She taught herself to touch type at speeds close to 90 wpm. (I can't wiggle my fingers that fast. And she makes no mistakes.) A prolific reader, she is seldom to be found without a book or two in progress.

Additionally, she has demonstrated deft skills in the needle arts where she prefers knitting and crocheting and has spun her own yarn for numerous projects. (I think she'd like to have a couple of her own sheep, but Grandma can barely stand having the ferret in the house.) When still a youngun', she won ribbons at the New Jersey State Fair for her work in embroidery (or maybe it was counted cross memory isn't what it used to be *sigh*).

She's also a pretty damn good cook, but I believe her little brother might give her some stiff competition if it came down to an Iron Chef battle royal!

Terry and I love her dearly and wish her many, many happy birthdays to come.


This was sent to me by a friend who, sadly, continues to reside in New Jersey, although he is up in the northwest corner of Sussex County as far from these characters as possible.


"A game by guys from New Jersey for guys from New Jersey."

UPDATE: Sorry, it's been pulled. :-(

Confined to quarters!

Or at least that's how it feels.

I got a call yesterday from the body shop saying they had the parts to replace the roof of the Tundra and that I could bring it in anytime. So I did. With Rick having taken the Blazer west and Terry out doing her EGA (Embroiders' Guild of America) stuff today, I'm left at the Aerie with the cats and no means of escape. They'll have the truck until mid-week or so, so I better figure out something to do inside until then.

It's a bright, sunny day but the temperatures have ranged from a low of 10 degrees at sunrise up to 20 degrees now at noon. (We haven't had anything above 25 in at least two weeks.) It's too damn cold to do anything outside for sure. Although I'll probably put on my boots and gloves and bring in some more logs from the wood pile after lunch.

The chickadees have been hitting the feeders hard and watching them zoom in to pick up a single seed and then fly off to the pines before eating is tiring. The tufted titmice and mourning doves at least sit at the feeder and eat a few seeds before they scramble. That seems a more energy efficient means of feeding to me.

Cheer Up, for crying out loud.

Cheer Up

So says the New York Sun. And they are correct. It’s time to stop looking at the glass as half empty and start to realize things are much better than they are being reported.

Don Suber had similar thoughts on Wednesday:
The Panic of ‘08
Gee, it must be the second coming of the Great Depression if the sales of Apple are up 35%.

Mr. Suber was responding to an AP report that contained the following:
As investors pummeled Apple Inc.’s stock over a disappointing financial outlook, a key question remained about the results: just how badly will the company be hurt by slowing economic activity in the United States and fears of a recession?

(He’s got lots more to say and the full AP story on his post so go on over and read the whole thing. Lot’s of snark.)

I mean, Apple reports an increase in sales and its stock still goes down just because it wasn’t quite as large an increase as predicted? Should I panic when the weather forecast says it will be 35 but it only reaches 32? I’ll never understand investors’ mood swings. Far, far worse than a woman with uncontrollable hormones.

Oh, and that whole world-wide crash thingy that took place last weekend? One slimy French bastard playing fiddles with the books of a big French bank.

Société Générale loses $7 billion in trading fraud

Rogue trader preparing to give himself up in £3.7bn bank fraud 'was a bit like Tom Cruise' (Hey Tom, are they talking about a movie role like Mission Impossible, or Scientology?)

One hell of a short market crash, no? Buyers will be laughing all the way to the bank but probably NOT Société Générale.

It's like they say (whoever the hell "they" are), things are never as bad--nor as rosy--as they appear.

A "one-in-six-billion miracle."

When she was a little girl of nine, Demi-Lee Brennan got sick and had to go to hospital. She received a donor liver when her own liver failed.

And then strange things happened inside her. Not alien strange, no, anybody can get weird parasitic creatures to grow inside them. No Demi-Lee had something even more unusual happen. Now, at 15, she’s a whole new person…sorta.

Australian girl changes blood group, immune system
Brennan's body changed blood group from O negative to O positive when she became ill while on drugs to avoid rejection of the organ by her body's immune system.

Her new liver's blood stem cells then invaded her body's bone marrow to take over her entire immune system, meaning the teen no longer needs anti-rejection drugs.

This is an absolutely amazing story. When you consider the care that is taken to match organs to donors. The change from blood type O-negative to O-positive…well that’s pretty amazing, but to change her entire immune system?! Wow! Just, Wow!

Given that only 7 of 10 liver transplants are successful over a five year period because of rejection complications, this young lady will be in a category all her own.

May she enjoy a long, happy and healthy life. But first she’ll have to get the doctors to leave her alone.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Law of Unintended Consequences strikes again!

UN Warns of Biofuels' Environmental Risk

The world's rush to embrace biofuels is causing a spike in the price of corn and other crops and could worsen water shortages and force poor communities off their land, a U.N. official said Wednesday

And here in the US we are seeing a rise in food prices and fuel costs created by the sale of corn as an ethanol source. You’d almost think the politicians rushing to making these decisions didn’t anticipate the consequences.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Man's best friend...even if he was just looking out for his bitch buddy.

Did I mention that Rick, my son, is headed to Oregon? He’s looking into a job with either a tree service (where he worked last spring) or walking electric and gas right of ways to recommend tree/brush clearing. (A power line arborist, he says.) He mentioned that he would have to get a dog if he did start trekking right of ways. We discussed bears but forgot all about the mountain lions. (If he had himself a permanent address, I’d also recommend a .357 or a .44 on his hip—just in case.)

From out in Bend, Oregon comes this report: After cougar terrorizes a terrier, Riley the bulldog saves the day. It sounds like Riley earned himself an extra dog biscuit (and maybe some loving from Sage).

Remember, boys and girls, ALL animals in the wild are potentially dangerous no matter how cute and cuddly they might look as a plush toy.


Theo Sparks has a list of Thoughts For Today that’ll make you go, “Ummm.”

Did you ever notice: The Roman Numerals for forty (40) are " XL."

Did you ever notice: When you put the 2 words "The" and "IRS" together it spells "Theirs?"

The older we get, the fewer things seem worth waiting in line for.

He’s got more, so go take a look.

Just say: NO!... socialized medicine.

Morning Glory has a YouTube video up called A Short Course in Brain Surgery which she subtitles: Or: Why we don’t want single-payer, socialized medicine… (aka: Universal Health Care; aka: Hillary Care)

It tells the story of one Canadian who sought, on doctor’s orders, to get an MRI for a suspected brain tumor. Go on over and take a look.

It’s scary stuff. If you can watch this and still think Universal Health Care is desirable, perhaps you should seek help.

On the road---again!

No, not me, the prodigal son.

Rick just left the Aerie for...somewhere. He'll eventually end up in Eugene, OR, but even he isn't sure what route he'll be taking. He called some friends in NJ but hasn't gotten any return calls so he doesn't know if he'll be heading east or west when he gets down to I-80. (Probably west since to head east would be about 400 miles round trip out of his way. And that means a couple of tanks of gasoline and a day or two to visit.)

He's anxious to get out west to find himself a job (he's already got a place to stay) and start earning some money.

It's tough to see them leave the nest. You go and teach them independence and then they put it into practice and...well, it's difficult to see them go.

He's driving the Blazer with PA plates and registration, has Oregon insurance (thanks to the internet!), and an Idaho driver's license. I hope he doesn't get stopped by some local cop along the way 'cause it's going to take some explaining!

Settled Science? Surely you jest!

Come on guys, make up your mind!

Study: Warming may cut US hurricane hits

First they told us that Global Warming would mean more and stronger hurricanes. And now this:

In it, researchers link warming waters, especially in the Indian and Pacific oceans, to increased vertical wind shear in the Atlantic Ocean near the United States. Wind shear — a change in wind speed or direction — makes it hard for hurricanes to form, strengthen and stay alive.

So that means "global warming may decrease the likelihood of hurricanes making landfall in the United States," according to researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Miami Lab and the University of Miami.

Of course, the acolytes of the Goracle are aghast that someone should doubt and have jumped on the research and the researcher.

Critics say Wang's study is based on poor data that was rejected by scientists on the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. They said that at times only one in 10 North Atlantic hurricanes hit the U.S. coast and the data reflect only a small percentage of storms around the globe.

Hurricanes hitting land "are not a reliable record" for how hurricanes have changed, said Kevin Trenberth, climate analysis chief for the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.

But using temperature sensors located near parking lots and in newly developed urban centers to measure “change” is just hunky-dory?

Trenberth is among those on the other side of a growing debate over global warming and hurricanes. Each side uses different sets of data and focus on different details.

WAIT A MINUTE! Wait just a gol-darn minute! “Other side”? “Growing debate”? What happened to the Gore almighty’s “consensus?”

You keep using this word: “Consensus!” I do not think it means what you think it means.

One group of climate scientists has linked increases in the strongest hurricanes — just those with winds greater than 130 mph — in the past 35 years to global warming. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said "more likely than not," manmade global warming has already increased the frequency of the most intense storms.

But hurricane researchers, especially scientists at NOAA's Miami Lab, have argued that the long-term data for all hurricanes show no such trend. And Wang's new research suggests just the opposite of the view that more intense hurricanes result from global warming. The Miami faction points to a statement by an international workshop on tropical cyclones that says "no firm conclusion can be made on this point."

So it’s “climate scientists” vs. “hurricane researchers.” In a question of hurricane behavior, which has more expertise?

(Meanwhile, keep in mind that when they talk of “all those IPCC scientists, most never even read the whole report and those that criticizes portions of it were hushed up. So, let’s just undercut our—and the entire developed world’s—economy upon the fear mongering called “Man-made Global Warming” or “Climate Change” when, in fact, it’s a perfectly natural phenomenon.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Too cute!

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

It's all over for the Saudis

HA! They are DOOMED! DOOMED, I say. Saudi Arabia to lift ban on women drivers
Saudi Arabia is to lift its ban on women drivers in an attempt to stem a rising suffragette-style movement in the deeply conservative state.

Give ‘em an inch and they’ll take a mile. To think this will stem the suffragette-style movement is foolish. It will, instead, merely encourage the women of Saudi Arabia to flex their muscle. Soon they will take over the kingdom and relegate the men to second class status.

Should have never let the girls go to school.


[Yes, dear. I'll do the dishes in a moment, dear. And then do you want me to do the vacuuming?]

h/t to Glenn Reynolds

Monday, January 21, 2008


Jeez, ya think this will get any play?

Nah, me neither. What a chump.

Here today...

As I mentioned, Rick is back from his sojourn to Guyana where the local school system was even more messed up than you might find in an inner city in NJ.

He appeared on Thursday last and will be heading out to the northwest later this week after we arrange to transfer the title of the Blazer to his name…again, and he manages to obtain auto insurance. We had made the switch last August and he had dropped his insurance carrier because he was going to be gone until next June. However....

Rick 01_21_08

Among the things he brought home with him was a wad of Guyanese $20 bills thick enough to choke a horse.

4K dollars in Guyanese cash

It translates to about $4,000 Guyana or $20 US. About what the average person in his village could live off of for two days. (Bread cost $240 per loaf…which isn’t all that bad. The $4K in the stack could buy around 16 loaves. Try that with $20 US.)

He left behind two roommates from California who were upset to see him go. (They were upset because he was the best cook and because they weren’t leaving.)

He has no job lined up out in the Eugene, OR area to which he is headed but has feelers out. He worked there for a while last sumer and his former employer (a tree service) said he would be welcomed back so he can always fall back on that. He has some friends out there with whom he can crash until he figures out where he’ll be working and living.

Footloose and fancy free. For a guy so allergic to cats, he seems to embody many of their traits.

Man, that's cold!

Congratulations to the New York Giants for their victory last night over the Green Bay Packers. The score, in overtime, of 23-20 does not reflect the dominance of the Giants in the game. They should have won it in regulation. A dropped pass or two near the end zone, a turn over on downs, two missed field goals (one on a bad snap) should have put the Giants well ahead.

It's difficult to fathom the conditions under which the game was played. With a starting temperature of -1 degree and wind chills of -23 degrees....well, that's damn cold! I just stepped out on the deck here at the Aerie where the temperature is 2 degrees above zero and can't imagine running around in shirt sleeves (or even long sleeves) playing football. Every breath would bring searing cold air into your lungs. Every snap of the ball or slap of a hand against your arm would be like the touch of cold steel. And let's not even thing about being driven to the ground on a tackle!

On a lighter note, yesterday was the first time I saw the Master Card Pep Talk commercial in which Peyton Manning talks about being bummed out about the football season coming to an end. I'm sure they filmed it with the intention of airing it when ever his season did, in fact, come to an end. That it should air while little brother Eli is still playing...priceless.

They should quickly film a sequel in which Eli walks over and asks Peyton if it's true that it's not over 'til the fat lady sings. Eli would have a roll duct tape in his hand. When Peyton says, I guess so, little bro could say, "Good!," and then they could cut to a shot of some heavy set soprano in full operatic Valkyrie gear and a strip of duct tape across her mouth.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


I’ve read Deerslayer several times and used to enjoy it for the setting—Lake Ontario and the Adirondacks. But after reading this I would have to agree with much of what Mark Twain said about James Fenimore Cooper’s lack of literary craft.

Twain was a master at criticism and one who suffered fools and charlatans very, very lightly.

Back to (below) normal January

It was a mere 4 degrees F this morning at the Aerie with a dusting of light snow at daybreak. The snow has ended and the sun is finally rising above the hill but the temperature hasn't moved. The wind is blowing out of the northwest at a respectable 15-20 mph and it's damn cold out.

Sure, compared to what the Giants and Packers will face tonight it's down right balmy, but I'm feeling the chill here on the Northern Tier of north-central PA.

BTW: The average high for this date is around 32 and the average low is around 13. We'll be well under those figures. Part of the discrepancy has to do with the location of the station and our 2100 foot elevation, but even at their station (wherever it may be) it will be well below average.

Mark reports that things are even colder and snowier at the Bolt Hole where lake effect snows coming from Lake Ontario may drop a foot of fresh powder later today and early tomorrow while the morning temperature was into negative numbers.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Back to the Aerie

We left Grandma's house in Linden, NJ this morning and headed west then north to the Aerie. We were trying to beat the forecast snow and were successful--arriving at the Aerie around 1:30, just as the snow began to fall.

Rick is home now (for a week--maybe two?) and is somewhat unaccustomed to the temperatures in the 20s and snow falling from the sky. (Yeah, he went to college in Moscow, ID, but he's been in Guyana since late August.) He's planning on heading west the end of the month with hopes of getting a job in Oregon. (Or at least that's what he says at the moment.)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

To NJ once again. :-(

Terry and I are off to her mother's house again in an hour or so. We got a phone call from my son from Georgetown, Guyana saying he had had it with WorldTeach and he was heading home. "Philosophical differences" would be the polite way of phrasing it. He says there was a distinct lack of organization and discipline at the school where he was assigned and he felt it was impossible to accomplish anything so he is pulling out. He's due in to JFK at 4 PM this afternoon.

Weather--Bah! Humbug!

For the second consecutive day we are experiencing light snow here at the Aerie--a constant, continuing light snow that doesn't really amount to much on the ground but is one heck of an annoyance. And neither nor show any activity in the area on their radar.

Must be the 2100 foot elevation we're at. Yesterday, when Terry went down the hill for the mail, she said there wasn't a thing going on in the valley and the roads were dry.

Personally, I'd prefer a good old 6-12 inch snowfall. That or sun shine. I don't really care about the temperatures (which have been in the 20's). This steady snow shower stuff is sorta depressing.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Smurfs! It had to be Smurfs!

The Smurfs will be 50 this October.

I had a tough time accepting Smurfs on Saturday mornings when my kids were growing up. After being brought up on Looney Tunes and Saturday morning episodes of the Lone Ranger, Sky King, and Roy and Dale...well, it just wasn't the same.

You have to wonder why they’re starting to celebrate so early. I mean, it’s not like CNN or the AP have nothing better to report.

h/t Stephen Den Beste

Red in tooth and claw!

I just witnessed the killing of a Common Redpoll at the feeders at the Aerie by a Northern Shrike. It swooped in and pinned the smaller bird to the ground, adjusted its grip, and then flew off with its captured prey to the locusts and multiflora rose bushes on the far side of the clearing.

Dancing Bird

Joan of Argghh! was wondering what species of bird that was doing the moonwalk. I found a slightly longer clip that included the intro to the little dance and the common name of the perpetrator. It's a red-capped manikin (Pipra mentalis) from Central America.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Moonwalking Bird

Joan of Argghh! linked to this YouTube clip over at her site and I found it so amusing that I just have to share it here. Go on over to Joan's site for more of her contributions of wit, wisdom and entertainment. The trip will be worth it.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

NFL Playoffs Report

So, what have we learned this weekend:

Bret Favre IS a god. (Okay, the folks in Green Bay knew this for a couple of years.) if he keeps this up, Packers’ fans will start asking “Who?” when Bart Starr’s name is mentioned. Heck, Favre has been doing it long enough there may not be any Packers’ fans left who remember Starr.
Ron Grant can pick himself off the scrap heap after fumbling twice and go on to have one hell of a game. (Why did the Giants let this guy go again?)

The Seahawks, beneficiaries of two gift TDs in the opening minutes could do absolutely nothing on defense after that and deserved to be sent…well, packing.

Gerard tried to move the Jaguars against the old guys New England plays on defense but it just didn’t seem to be happening. I guess experience means you can figure out how to get things done without be super fast or super strong but by being in the right place at the right time and knowing that eleven playing together can overcome a star or two on the other side.

Tom Brady WILL be a god in the near future if he and the Patriots keep playing in this style. As it is he’s pretty close to perfection. He certainly appears to be omniscient in so far as where his receivers are relative to the defenders and is able to find the former while avoiding the latter.

Peyton Manning is a demi-god who has his flaws. (Sure he had a great day in the percentage and yardage categories, but those three interceptions were killers. Especially the one on the 1-yard line as the Colts were going in.)

The Chargers had more depth than most people give them credit for. Really. You lose your star running back (Tomlinson) in the opening drive of the first half and your starting quarterback (Rivers) in the third quarter and you are not supposed to be able to win. Especially against Payton Manning and the Colts. But win they did. Their defense bent like hell but held firm and created turnovers when they needed to. And for this they get to go against the Patriots next week. They’re going to need a god’s help to win that one. Perhaps Thor’s available.

The Cowboys, once “America’s Team,” will get to go play some golf, rest, heal and generally start their vacations—perhaps in Mexico—now that they have lost to the Giants whom they beat twice earlier this year. People in Dallas can start coming up with excuses as to why Tony Romo couldn’t complete passes when he needed to. But they really don’t have to bring up Mexico or Jessica. All they need do is lok at the last quarter play by the Giants’ D.

Eli Manning is living on the edge and loving it. For the second week in a row his Giants committed no turnovers and as a result they will be moving on to another game. They may be down to using practice squad guys in the defensive secondary and their second string tight end, their wide receivers may have sprained ankles and sore backs, but they are getting it done. But next week’s game is at Lambeau Field and they’ll have to face Favre and a bunch of young guns who have learned only how to win.

Who will win Conference Championships next week?

Let’s just say that the Super Bowl will feature a quarterback who was born and raised on the Gulf Coast on one side and one from California by way of Michigan on the other. Together they have four Super Bowl rings and five appearances in the Big Show. Yeah, it will be Packers vs. the Patriots on February 3rd.

What say that when they retire we wave the waiting period and just induct Favre and Brady into the Hall of Fame on the day they announce. For Favre that could be February 4th for Brady, it could be in 2015 after he has his 8th or 9th ring.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Sears: Bah Humbug!

Sears online got back to me to say I can't order just the cable for the snow thrower but have to order the entire 4-way control rig: joystick control, left and right cable, up and down cable, etc. The cost online would be around $90 plus tax and S&H and several days of waiting.

I went down to the Sears store and they (of course) don't carry parts for their machines in stock. (Understandable as it's a retail store and not a repair facility.) The guys at the store did point me in the direction of a shop that does do repairs on Craftsman throwers and who does have some parts in stock. His price, including tax, was $104 and I have the cable in place as I type. Plus a spare joystick and up and down cable to boot.

I don't understand why they can't sell the damn cable separately as it is the weakest link in the entire rig and the one thing that is likely to break.

If it breaks again, I may have to look into retrofitting a screw control instead of replacing the entire 4-way control again.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Rain, rain, go away!

It’s well past noon and it’s still raining pretty heavily. I’ve tried to get an idea of when it’s going to end or at least slow down via but their forecast says I should be expecting half an inch of rain and Lord knows I’ve already gotten well above that. The interactive map is little help either. It takes so damn long to load the main page on dial-up because of those animated mortgage commercials on the sidebar that my beard has grown a quarter inch while I wait. Once you click through to the interactive map, you’ve also got to wait for like a dozen or so separate pictures (each composed of eight panels) to load to get an animation of the cloud/storm movement.

There’s something peaceful about the sound of a gentle rain on the metal roof that sends me into never-never land. Of course, when in the bedroom, I can barely hear it because of the double think ceiling. But in the living room where I guess they used solid foam insulation it is very audible. During a summer thunderstorm you can barely hear yourself think in there. And if there should be hail…well, it’s like you’re inside a snare drum with Buddy Rich banging away. Right now it’s a much more gentle background sound that makes me want to fall asleep. Especially with the fires keeping the inside of the house toasty warm and dry.


It was 27-28 degrees when I went to bed last night at 11 PM and I feared it might snow instead of rain as predicted. However, with the system arriving from the south, the temperatures warmed a few degrees and I heard first freezing rain and then just wind driven rain in the middle of the night. It's up to just above freezing (33-34 degrees) now and it's still raining pretty good at 8:30 AM. The forecast is for rising temps and the rain tapering off to occasional showers by noon.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

In the north country for a couple of days

I made my way up to the Bolt Hole today.

The 240 mile drive was uneventful and I enjoyed a couple of Blues Brothers CDs and Rush Limbaugh on the radio. After picking up a few groceries and refueling the truck, I headed beyond the Blue Line and to the Bolt Hole. I arrived just around 2:30 PM and was pleasantly surprised to find that I could drive all the way up to the cabin from the gate thanks to a buddy of Marks who did the snow blowing for our places. Where the snow thrower had done its job, all the snow was gone and the grass was exposed. Where it hadn’t been used there was from 4 to 8 inches of hard, crusted snow/ice. The temperature when I drove up was 39 degrees but as the sun sank in the west-southwest, it dropped quickly. The weather guys predict some rain for this evening and tomorrow morning but I’m wondering if it won’t be snow at the cabin.
Cleared driveway to the cabin.
Cleared Driveway to cabin
Years past, I would have had to park here and drag everything to the cabin via sled.
Path to the garage.
Cleared path to garage
A cleared path to the garage will make it easier for me to get to the workshop so I can do some chores and get the ladder to clear the wood shed roof.
Snow/ice in front of door
Even with a clear drive to the door, there was still some digging to do. The snow and ice that falls from the roof piles up quite deeply in front of the door. Instead of three steps up, there’s usually one LARGE step down to get into the cabin. I had to use a wood splitting maul and a regular shovel to clear a safe passage. (The snow shovel in the photo wouldn’t break the ice crust without breaking itself.)
Cleared driveway to the cabin
Yeah, it sure is nice to be able to drive all the way to the front door instead of having to park waaaaaay back there by the gate.

Another thing I found pleasing was that the snow on the roof of the cabin and the garage had pretty much slid off with only a small area f the garage still harboring some icy snow and a drift on the back side of the cabin over the woodshed where there always is some accumulation. I’ve been up there when it could be measured in feet so the relatively small amount that’s up there makes me happy. I’ll still pull out the ladder and see if I can clear even more off tomorrow afternoon.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

On the road again...tomorrow.

I figure I'll pack my bags and head up to the Bolt Hole tomorrow to see what the warm weather has done to the snow supply up there. My buddy, Mark, says it was disappearing quickly on Sunday and it's been well above normal since then--something like 25-30 degrees above the January norm. Even so, I may have to get up on the roof to get some of the ice off unless the rains forecast fro Thursday night into Friday morning do the job.

Only problem I'll have is that with the lack of snow on the ground, I'll have nothing to melt to flush the toilet. The rain should help fill some buckets but I don't want to turn the water on for just a couple of days. I'll bring a 10-gal jug of water for drinking and coffee, but the rest (washing and flushing water) will have to come from rain or snow melt.

If the weather holds to just a few snow flurries on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I'll be clearing the cabin and garage roofs and looking to take out some scraggly pine trees and brush to open up and area around some apple trees that are trying valiantly to survive. Some on the edge have shown promise already but there are many more that need to be exposed to more sunlight.


“Heh,” indeed. From a link at Glenn Reynolds’ Instapundit: Voter cited by opponents of Indiana's ID law registered in two states.

Something tells me this is not going to help their argument before the Supreme Court. The opponents' attorneys need to go back to learn how to research their "clients" better. And this woman is in deep doo-do for claiming homestead rebates in both Indiana and Florida. What a bunch of maroons!

The Hawk is Howling

Extremely strong winds are blowing through the Aerie this morning as a cold front is sweeping through the area. Gusts in the 40-50 mph range are causing the trees to swing and sway.

We got some very heavy rains early this morning as a result of that front. The temperatures, however,haven't dropped all that much yet. This morning it's 45 degrees (as opposed to yesterday's 55) and they are supposed to rise to around 55 this afternoon before they settle back to more seasonable ranges of the 30s this weekend.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

"Yes, Doctor!"

This one's for GuyK who's been seeing the dentist.

Penguin vs Ostrich

So there I was looking at some videos on YouTube when I came across this little animated piece that reminded me of our current presidential race.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Winter thaw

The mid-winter thaw has arrived early this year. As I mentioned yesterday it was 45 degrees when we returned to the Aerie Sunday afternoon at around 2 PM. This afternoon it got up to 58 degrees and Terry reports it was 67 on the bank thermometer on Route 15 in Lawrenceville on the PA/NY line. And tomorrow is supposed to be warmer?!

Nearly all the snow is gone with the exception of the places where shovels and plows piled it higher and deeper. A few more days like these and those snowbanks will disappear too.

The down side is that "Mud Season" has followed the melt and all the clay roads are slick as ice. The Tundra is a reddish brown from all the mud that's been splashed up its flanks. I'd take it to the car wash but what's the point, it would be brown again before I got home.

Mark reports that it's been quite warm up at the Bolt Hole too. He went up Sunday morning and had knee deep snow in the driveways. When he left around 2 o'clock in the afternoon, it was down to his ankles and disappearing quickly.


I did some running around this morning to my insurance agent and the body shop to put in a claim and get an estimate for repairs to my Tundra. The total for parts, pain and labor will run about $2500. I've got a $500 deductible. I'd rather the parking garage's insurance pay the whole thing of course, but if needed I'll bite the bullet and submit it to AllState and let them deal with the Canadian insurance company.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Home from Toronto

Our three days in Toronto were pretty enjoyable (if you forget about the damage to my Tundra).

The temperatures climbed from 1 or 2 degrees F when we left on Thursday to over 45 degrees F when we got back at 2 PM this afternoon.

We had some excellent food at three different restaurants and the St. Lawrence Market.

The hotel, the Novotel Toronto Centre was clean, quiet and centrally located on the border between the entertainment and Old Town sections of Toronto.

Thousands of RU fans owned Toronto. (The number 8,000 was thrown around but the real number may have been closer to 12,000. I spoke to several folks who made a weekend trip out of attending the game. They drove up early Saturday and stayed overnight, with plans to return home on Sunday.)

Rutgers beat the cr*p out of Ball State, 52-30.

Ray Rice ran and ran and ran for 280 yards and four touchdowns.

Mike Teel threw for three touchdowns.

Jeremy Ito kicked a field goal of 53 yards. (Ya gotta love kicking indoors!)

Perhaps because the city of Toronto seems to have some major construction projects going on and our trip corresponded to an early January thaw so the slush and ice still on the streets was ‘well used,” the outside areas we saw looked like hell. It wasn’t the clean city I’ve come to appreciate in Ottawa. Still there were some lovely scenes.

I mentioned the “new structure” that housed the Hockey Hall of Fame and the old bank that held the Stanley Cup. Well, from the outside, the “new” is difficult to see. Here is the outside of the bank building.(it’s not the entrance, however. That’s in the little alcove to the left of the bank building.)

Hockey Hall of Fame

Looking to the east from the intersection of Yonge and Front Streets is an older brick building on which a most realistic mural has been painted.

Mural on exterior wall on Front Street

It’s difficult to tell which windows are real and which are painted on the brick wall.

Look west down Front Street and there’s the CN Tower, the world’s tallest free standing structure. It’s located on the northeast corner of Rogers Centre.

CN Tower

(Yes, there are elevators to the top, and a restaurant too. No we didn’t go up.)

Toronto has over 25 miles of underground or enclosed walkways called the PATH (although sections well above ground are called the Skywalk) with access to above ground buildings, the subway and, of course shops and food courts. We walked only the section from Union Station and the CN Tower and Rogers Centre.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Rutgers Wins the International Bowl
Downs Ball State 52-30 in Toronto

Ray Rice, who gained 280 yards on the ground and scored four touchdowns—including one on a 90 yard run—was named the International Bowl’s Most Valuable Player. It was the second consecutive year Rice was named MVP in a bowl game that Rutgers won.

Mike Teel went 16 for 25 throwing for 303 yards and three TDs and one interception.

Terry and I woke up early this morning and were standing outside the Rogers Centre by 9:30 AM, anxious to get in to watch our Rutgers Scarlet Knights play the Ball State Cardinals in the second annual International Bowl.

RU vs Ball State: 2008 International Bowl
Unfortunately, they didn’t open the doors until 10:30 AM.
We did finally get inside and made or way to our seats in section 128, row 20. The RU marching band soon followed and sat across the aisle from us. And a sea of Scarlet flooded the Rutgers stands.

A sea of Scarlet on the RU side.

We watched the teams warm up for a half hour and then they left to go to the locker rooms. After they returned, large US and Canadian flags were unfurled on the field, a bagpipe corps played both nations’ national anthems. The lead singer of “an up and coming rock band” did an excellent job with both anthems.

RU enters the field.
Rutgers won the coin toss and elected to receive. They marched down the field and scored on a 36-yard TD pass from QB Mike Teel to WR Tim Brown. A few punts later and RU scored on a Ray Rice’s first TD run of the day and his 21st of the year.
With a little more than 2 minutes remaining in the first quarter and RU was up 14-0.
RU jumps out to 14-0 lead in the first quarter.
By halftime the score was 24-9. Rice had a second TD run and Jeremy Ito had a 53 yard field goal for RU while Ball State had managed just three field goals. RU could have had more, but Teel was intercepted on the 1-yard line when he tried to force a pass into tight coverage.

The Scarlet Knight mascot and the marching band took the field for halftime entertainment.
The Scarlet Knight on the sidelines

RU Marching Band at Halftime
The second half saw Ball State attempt to make a run at the Scarlet Knights, however, the Cardinals were forced to punt. It was a good one that, when combined with a blocking in the back penalty pinned RU deep in their own territory. Backed up on their own two yard line, the Scarlet Knights ran the ball twice to get out to the 10-yard line. Then, on third and 2, Mike Teel handed off to Ray Rice who swept around the left side and raced down the sidelines 90 yards for his fourth TD of the game. A couple more TDs on lofted passes into the end zone and the final score became 52-30.
The Final socre: 52-30

A dejected Ball State crowd (much smaller than that on the RU side) made its way to the exits (some having left considerably before the final gun) as the Scarlet fans waited for the presentation of awards.
The Final socre: 52-30
Amid a shower of confetti, Coach Schiano accepted the International Bowl trophy for the Rutgers squad.
Schiano accepts Trophy
To chants from the crowd for, “One more year!” Junior Ray Rice was presented the award as the MVP of the 2008 International Bowl.
Ray Rice Named MVP
He thanked the fans, his family and his offensive linemen for all that has happened this year.

He said he a Coach Schiano will be talking in the coming days before he makes a decision. It would be nice if he stayed for his final year, but he already holds numerous records at Rutgers and in the Big East.

Finally, the team came over to the area in front of the band and we all sang the Alma Mater:
Alma Mater is song.

The full story can be had here.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Pep Rally

We arrived at the Westin just in time to see the football team boarding buses for who knows where. Perhaps it was for a brief tour of the Rogers Centre where tomorrow’s game is to be played or a quick work out. Where ever they were going, it wasn’t going to be long for they had to be back in two hours for the pep rally.

Inside the lobby of the Westin Harbour Castle there was a sea of scarlet. We inquired as to where we might purchase some souvenir shirts such as we had already seen and were told the guys would be setting up in the lobby around three…about an hour or so from now. With that in mind, we sat down near the bar to have a beer and a glass of wine.

Across the room, I thought I saw a relative of ours, Glen, the husband of one of Terry’s cousins and a dentist who had graduated from and did some instruction in the Rutgers system. Terry poo-pooed the idea but we later ran into him, his dad, his wife (Terry’s cousin) and their daughter. They had driven up from NJ last night stopping in Niagra Falls overnight. Glen’s brother had driven up Friday morning and was over taking a tour of the Rogers Centre.

We purchased a couple of T-shirts when the guys got their little booth set up and then headed over to the ballroom where the pep rally was to be held.

The crowd seemed to follow us and soon had the foyer to the ballroom packed shoulder to shoulder.

Crowd builds for the Pep Rally

Things got so bad that they had to shut the escalator off because people would arrive at the top and have no place to go.

As the magic hour approached, the marching band and color guard arrived by means of the stationary escalators.

Marching band arrives
Cheerleaders and dance team arrive

When they finally allowed us to enter the ballroom, we found the marching band arrayed at the far end and a stage beneath a big Rutgers banner to the side.

RU Marching Band 00
RU Stage

The cheerleaders and dance team did a couple of routines that could only be described as gymnastics to music.

Cheerleaders 01
Cheerleaders 03

Several recent Rutgers graduates, FB Brian Leonard, QB Ryan Hart and TE Dave Kelly were introduced by the emcees, the radio voices of Rutgers’ Football on WCTU. Each got to make a little speech that basically said thanks for the support. It means a lot and please keep it up. (Although Brian Leonard got a wee bit emotional during his.)

WCTU radio personalities

Then the marching band struck up the fight song and the current players mounted the stage to the cheers of “Up stream Red team, Red team up stream, Hoo-rah, Hoo-rah, Rutgers Rah!”

Players arrive

As they entered, it was interesting to see many of the players taking pictures of the crowd. With 8000+ fans in town for the game I guess they were a bit surprised to see how many were in that ballroom!

Coach Schiano made his way to the front and briefly addressed the crowd. (Briefly because he seems to be on the verge of losing his voice.)

Coach Schiano Arrives
Coach Schiano addresses the crowd
(Damn, but it’s difficult to get a decent picture over distance in a flash environment!)

A few words from team captains and another rendition of the fight song and then the players were on their way for the night.

Team Capt Eric Foster addresses the crowd

The band would head north to Nathan Phillips Square for a battle of the bands. (Terry and I opted out to go down the water front to Capt. John’s for a very nice seafood dinner.)

Hockey Hall of Fame

After lunch, we trekked west on Front Street and headed for the Hockey Hall of Fame.

As we approached the corner of Front and Bay, we saw several guys from RU (who we found were from the era of Frank Burns—that’s 1972 to 1983). In fact, everywhere we went there was lots of Rutgers Scarlet.

Back to the Hall of Fame. The Hall is a relatively new building but with many surprises. The first is that when you first enter the building in which it is housed you are reminded of the Air Force Academy’s Chapel. The interior is a series of metal A-frames from one end to the other but within that giant A-frame is a beautiful old bank built some time back in the beginning of the 1900s. To get to the Hall, you go down stairs into yet another food court and press south.

Enter the Hall (there is a reasonable fee) and you’re in a modern museum of hockey in both North America and the World. There’s memorabilia from the NHL and international competition. Colorful (or is that colourful?) jerseys from teams past and present abound. You can spend an hour or two walking about the displays or head over and try your luck as a shooter or goal tender at the interactive games area.

Unsuspectingly you come to a small stairway with a sign: “Stanley Cup” and an arrow. Follow the arrow and you climb up into that beautiful old bank to find a wooden paneled room with an awe inspiring stain glassed dome above.

Stained Glass dome ceiling in HoF

Look around at the architecture. It’s worth the time.

Bank Clock

But it’s not why you’ve come to this shrine. Across the room you see it perched upon a pedestal before a wall of the greatest players, coaches and promoters of the game of hockey.

Hockey Hall of Fame

THE Stanley Cup

Stanley Cup

Every little hockey fans fantasy is to have his name inscribed upon the base of that cup. And lots of them come here to gaze upon their hero’s name and dream a little harder.

Kids pose with The Cup

Me? I’m not much of a hockey fan. Just as I was starting to get into it, that is when I figured out this blue line thing and what the heck an offsides was when everyone is skating at 60 mph, the damn thing went on strike for a whole bleeping year! That’s when I figured I was better off sleeping through the months between football and spring training. (With the current NFL playoff system, that sleep has become a mere nap.)

We left the Hockey Hall of Fame and headed south toward the Lake and the Westin Harbour Castle which is the official headquarters of RU fans on this excursion and where there was a pep rally scheduled to take place a little after four o'clock.

Friday Lunch

When we finally got out, it was time to start looking for lunch. To the east of us on The Esplanade is the St. Lawrence Market in Old Town Toronto. We figured to take a look inside and see what they had.

Man, oh man! It’s essentially a farmers’ market with food courts. Lots of Japanese, Ukranian, Greek, Chinese, Italian and sundry other nationalities were represented. Stalls with fresh and frozen fish, meats, poultry, cheeses and other produce could be found although vegetables were a bit sparse which is understandable for this time and place.

We bought some pierogies and some turkey and beef “pepper sticks” (that’s jerky) from a Ukranian couple who make some great kielbasi which they allowed us to sample. Simply mouthwatering. Then we had a chicken parm sandwiches with peppers and onions from a stall that once appeared on Emril’s show because they do peameal bacon sandwiches. (We should have tried those but didn’t see the review on the wall until after we ordered.  )

It was a bustling place, the St. Lawrence Market, and well worth the visit. To get an idea, think Faneuil Hall in Boston or the market in central Baltimore but make it three to four times the size and remove all the touristy glitz. I suppose, if you got rid of all the touristy glitz and street theater on San Francisco's Wharf and put the whole place under one roof, you might come close to the Market in Toronto.

How I spent my Friday morning in Toronto

Confined to my room.

We spent all morning in our room waiting to hear from the manager of the parking facility next to the hotel. When he didn’t call by 10 AM I called his office and extension only to get his voice mail. I left a message and called back half an hour later when I still hadn’t heard from him. This time I got made contact with the receptionist who told me he was in the field checking the various parking lots the company managed. I told her to get in touch with him via cell phone and have him call me ASAP. Still nothing after half an hour.

So I went down stairs to the hotel managers and *ahem* voiced my displeasure with being essentially confined to my room waiting for this a**hole to call me. (I was more polite than that but just as vehement in my presentation.) I told the manager to get on the horn to this company and relay the message that he was to call me pronto. I learned at this time that he had come to the parking lot and took pictures of the truck at 7:30 AM but didn’t call up to the room because he felt it unnecessary to wake me from my sleep. I was told that he had told his secretary to call me and let me know he had been here. Only problem was I never got the f*cking call. (As I said, an a**hole and a liar to boot.)

Anyway, ten minutes after I got done going up one side of the manager and down the other, I get a call in my room (to which I was still confined awaiting a call) from the manager saying he would be calling me shortly. And, son of a bitch, he did! He said he will be filing an “incident report” with his insurance company (located in Vancouver) and that they would probably be in touch with me early next week.

Finally released from our cell—I mean room—Terry and I went out for lunch but first I stopped to thank the manager for getting through to the parking lot manager. (I didn’t want to burn any bridges in case this thing needs more mediation, so I felt a little carrot after the stick would be a wise move.)

Anyway, I've got my fingers crossed that this will be resolved with as little hassle as possible. I'm still not going to be happy about it, however.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

In Toronto

Terry and I left the Aerie this morning when the temperatures were a mere 1.7 degrees above and headed to Toronto. The route took us northwest on I-390 to I-90 and I-290 into Niagra Falls. Then east on the QEW to Toronto.

The weather was good (except for a few flurries along the shores of Lake Ontario) and the traffic wasn't bad. In fact, the only difficulty we experienced was when we reached our destination. The hotel had an entrance to an underground parking facility which had lots of construction going on inside. I drove my Tundra beneath the little sign that warned about height and cleared it with ease. I assumed that meant I should clear all ceiling obstacles along the way. Man, was I wrong!

We found no slots (all of which were quite small anyway) on the first level and had to back our way out of an unmarked dead end. We headed down the ramp to the second level. Again there were no openings so we made the turn and started down the ramp to the third level. A sign warned that head room was 6'6". I got half way off the ramp when the roof of the truck scraped the I-beam overhead. I backed out. Carefully. I was not a happy camper.

I managed to make a K-turn and head back up to the surface and the hotel's front door. I stormed in and made my dissatisfaction known. The sign I had cleared--with lots of room to spare--at the entrance said 5' 11". Signs directed me to the underground parking as it was "Hotel Parking." My truck, with only about 3000 miles on the OD, now had a totally damaged roof due to the faulty signage. The clerk behind the desk (and later the manager) told me they did not run the parking facility and had no responsibility for the signs. They would, however, contact the manager and tell him what happened and try to facilitate a solution.

While we were out to dinner, we received a phone call from the manager who said he would contact us tomorrow and arrange to come out and look at the truck. He also left his number so if we do not hear from him by 10 AM we will be making a call of our own.

I'm angry with three folks/institutions right now: (1) Myself for even attempting to go down that little rat hole they consider a parking garage. (2) The parking lot folks for putting up that stupid sign saying clearance 5' 11" and hanging it at around 6' 6" so if you're unsure of your vehicle's height, you won't have any true idea of it after you've passed beneath the sign. (3) The hotel for (a) not mentioning the parking difficulties to be encountered on their web site and (b) directing people to the parking area that is obviously undersized both in the height of the ceiling and the width of the parking slots.

Hopefully, someone will make this right.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Oedipus Complex Illustrated

I just came across this example of Oedipal relations and find it too cute not to share.

Just click on “Fight for Kisses: Whose Skin is Smoother” on the bottom of the Wilkenson Sword Home Page.

New Fishing Gear

This Solar powered fisherman’s tackle box looks like the kind of thing that could be really useful at the fly-in lakes we go to in northern Quebec except for one tiny little problem: Every time we go fishing, it rains every day of our trip.

Every. Single. Time.

We’ve gotten off the plane at our outpost cabin and had the pilot warn us about the dangers of forest fire so be careful with our butts and campfires, etc. He kicks the ground and we witness a cloud of dust rising into the air. We nod our heads in agreement but stifle a smirk and a smile as he boards his plane to return to the main lodge. We know what’s about to happen. No sooner does the sound of the prop engine Beaver fade over the hills than the rain clouds emerge from hiding. The drought is over. (This has not occurred just once but multiple times. But do we get any thanks from our Canadian friends? Nooo.)

For the next six days we will have rain for at least four of them. Sometimes it will rain everywhere, sometimes only over our (my) boat. I’ve hunkered down against a typhoon with wind, torrential rain and even hail, only to look across the lake and see my buddy and his kids sitting in the sunshine less than a kilometer away.

I’m thinking of starting a second career as a rainmaker. For enough cash to cover the purchase of a boat, I’d pack up my gear and go to any area suffering from a bad case of dryness. As soon as I launch and get on the water—POOF—instant rain. I figure if Georgia had called me last summer, they wouldn’t e in such bad shape right now. And I know they have some pretty good bass lakes down there I could have helped refill.

The Hawk Howled

Soon after sunset yesterday, the winds from the north-northwest picked up and howled up the slope here at the Aerie. Continuing snow flurries accompanied the winds but little seemed to accumulate as the flakes were traveling horizontally.

I pulled the plug on the Hawaii-Georgia game at half time (it seemed the merciful thing to do) and went to bed. As I lay there the "shoosh" of snow flakes against the window pane could barely be heard against the background of the muffled roar of the wind in the trees.

As expected from a wind coming out of the north-northwest, the temperatures dropped through the night and registered a mere 13 degrees this morning. While the wind has abated somewhat, the temperatures will not rise much in the next day or two. I just hope there will be no snow at the Aerie until at least January 7. We're heading to Toronto tomorrow for the International Bowl and I don't relish the idea of returning to a ton snow in the driveway.