Monday, March 31, 2008

This man wants to be President?

Jeff Soyer of Alphecca says Obama is Not Ready For Prime-Time and he may be correct. The elvauation has nothing to do with Obama’s position of the Second Amendment or gun control—two of Jeff’s usually hot-button topics. No, it has to do with these words:

. . . “Look, I got two daughters — 9 years old and 6 years old,” he said. “I am going to teach them first about values and morals, but if they make a mistake, I don’t want them punished with a baby. . .”

Read them again. “….I don’t want them punished with a baby….” A baby is punishment, according to Obama.

Go read Mr. Soyer’s comment on that hypothesis. Not Ready For Prime-Time.

Read them in juxtaposition of one another and it says a great deal about each man. I know which one I would prefer to meet and shake hands with, how about you?

Last of the Few: Gates vs. GM

Ya gotta love this. If Cars were made like computers.

Last of the Few: Gates vs. GM


I sincerely hope this isn’t going to be like Sean Hannity’s radio call-in screener. She, if I remember correctly took the live lobster that Hannity had sent as a “Lobster gram”, a lobster meant to be cooked, and set it free in a freshwater pond near her home. Lobster’s are, of course salt water creatures and will die in fresh water. But in her vegan state, she was not cognizant of this fact.

Crocodile stolen from Norway aquarium

The stolen reptile, named "Taggen" (Spike), is a 70 centimetres (2.3 feet) long smooth-fronted caiman also known as Schneider's dwarf caiman (Paleosuchus Trigonatus).

It is normally found in much warmer habitats in South America and is one of the world's smallest species of crocodile.

Ekeli feared that the four-year-old would have poor chances of surviving outside its habitat in the aquarium, and said it would probably die from stress.

And just how the heck do you walk out of an aquarium with a 2.3 foot long croc? Do you wrap it up like a sub sandwich? Drop it nose first into a large umbrella? Roll it up in a copy of your daily newspaper? Use a special pocket in the lining of your trench coat? Slide it down your pant leg? (THAT’S a risky thought!)

(Stray thought: “Are you happy to see me or is that a caiman in your pocket?”

Then there’s this report from
Caribou, Maine.

Northern Maine sets snowfall record

It’s official. The 2007-08 snow season in northern Maine is one for the record books. Just in time for the start of spring.

The old record of 181.1 inches of snow recorded in Caribou, set in 1955, was shattered by noontime Friday when the National Weather Service in Caribou recorded 182.5 inches of snow since the start of the season.

It didn’t stop there.

…By Friday afternoon close to 15 inches of snow had fallen in central Aroostook County and a blizzard warning was still in effect from the National Weather Service.

While you’ve got 14 feet (168 inches) recorded in Ottawa, the folks in Maine had over a foot more and while Ottawa may be getting rain and freezing rain today, it’ll be naught but snow in Caribou. (Not too much according to the forecast, just an inch or two. But an inch here and an inch there and pretty soon you’ve got some real snow.)

Lion, Lamb, whatever.

Remember how I said the Redpolls and Evening Grosbeaks were thinning out? I was wrong. There seem to be more around the feeders than at any time during the winter. This article (Tons of Snow Test a Place Where Cold Is No Stranger) may go a long way to explaining that. They just do not want to pass through Ottawa. While I haven’t spotted any birds with miniature radio packs so they can contact their northern relatives, I can imagine a conversation:

“Hey Charlie, what are the conditions like on the home front?”

“Forget about it Ralphie. If you’ve got a source of food, stay where you are. It’s nothing but white for as far as the eye can see up here right now and there’s more on the way! Give it to the middle of April or later before you even think of moving north.”

Ottawa, Canada:

People here are divided between those longing for a few more inches of snow to set a record and others who think the 14 feet that has already landed, and mostly lingered, is more than enough.

…were hoping for another seven inches of snow. That would break the record from the winter of 1970-71, which meteorologists have called a thousand-year event.

This “thousand-year event” they talk about, I don’t think it means what they think it means. Either that or a thousand years isn’t quite as long as it used to be.

There has been no doubt about breaking snowfall records in Quebec City. Its snowfall level, 460 centimeters, or 15 feet, long ago surpassed a 45-year record.
Mr. Phillips, at the weather service, believes it is the ubiquity of the snowfall that accounts for the depth of people’s distress. A visible amount of snow has fallen two of every three days here since Dec. 1, he said.

I’ve been saying as much about the snowfalls that occurred every 3 to 4 days here at the Aerie. None was so large as to be a back breaker unto itself, but the cumulative effect of one after the other got quite depressing. And if it weren’t for the interspersed thaws and rainstorms to wash it all away, the actual amount of snow would have been impressive.

Today, tonight and tomorrow the Aerie will be the recipient of a fortuitous shift in the snow line. Instead of snow, we are to have 1.5-1.75 inches of rainfall. Nearby Elmira had already recorded over 3 inches of precipitation in the month of March as of Saturday.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Things That Offend Muslims

Another one where I’m way late to the party. Here’s The List of Things That Offend Muslims.

It was started way back in February of 2007 but has been a “work in progress” as the poster notes. Well worth looking at again…and again….and….

Lots of items on the list will make you scratch our head and go, “Huh?” or “WTF?! Are these people crazy?” And nearly every item on the list contains a link to the origin.

Two who passed this week

I missed these notable deaths last Thursday (March 27th) and just stumbled upon them over at Small Dead Animals. I feel they are worth mentioning again.

Dr. Lyle Thurston , a founding member of Greenpeace, has died. He was 70.

Seems the good doctor wasn’t an environmentalist or ecologist by training.

A pharmacist and physician, he sat on the board of the Window Pane Society, a Vancouver organization that helped young people beat their drug habits.

Good work to be sure but exactly how does that place him in the forefront of one of today’s enviro-terrorist groups? Oh, and the Doctor was a heavy smoker who suffered from emphysema.

Dr. Thurston’s obituary does not list any surviving relatives.

Also passing away on Thursday: Herb Peterson , McMuffin Inventor, Is Dead at 89

Mr. Peterson came up with the idea for the menu item, the signature McDonald’s breakfast dish, in 1972. The Egg McMuffin made its debut at a restaurant in Santa Barbara that Mr. Peterson owned with his son, David Peterson. Modeled on eggs Benedict, it consists of an egg formed in a Teflon circle with the yolk broken, topped with a slice of cheese and grilled Canadian bacon. It is served on a toasted and buttered English muffin.

Mr. Peterson’s obit included this section:
“Besides his son, his survivors include his wife, Barbara; 3 daughters; 11 grandchildren; and 5 great-grandchildren.”

So let’s tally that up: Dr. Thurston, 70, no survivors; Mr. Peterson, 89, survived by a wife, 4 children, 11 grandchildren, and 5 great-grandchildren.

What lesson do we have: head lots of Egg McMuffins and stay away from the ocean!

Or: It ain’t easy being green.

RU advances over GW, 53-42

Rutgers R.small

I completely forgot that the Rutgers women were playing George Washington in Greensboro this afternoon. Shame on me! But it seems I’ll get to watch them play the number 1 seeded Connecticut Huskies on Tuesday.

Today, they out played the Colonials and came away with a 53-42 victory to advance to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. Essence Carson led the Scarlet Knights with 25 points while Epiphanny Prince added 12 of her own.

While the Knights shot 51% for the game, they held the Colonials to just 32% and scoreless for the fiinal 3:20 of the game.

Full story and stats here.

So long Happy Goose

When we moved out here to north-central PA there was a Dunkin' Donuts on the main drag in Mansfield at which you could get a great cup of coffee and some pretty reasonable, fresh baked goods. Unfortunately, about a year ago the owner/operator of this franchise passed away and the DD closed down.

BUT soon after a new, smaller local franchise called Happy Goose took over the premises and the doors reopened early last summer. The shop made great apple fritters (the size of dinner plates!--for a buck!) and donuts that were far superior to anything Dunkin' Donuts produced. Even their bagels were respectable. (The coffee was the sole area in which they fell behind DD's standards.) Plus the place was open 24/7. Being two doors from the local motel and across the street from Mansfield University, I figured the Goose would do okay.

Apparently not. It closed it's doors some time this week. I didn't notice this on Thursday when we were a few doors away getting our eyes checked, but Terry went to get the Sunday papers and breakfast there this morning and tells me it is so.

Now, aside from Wal-Mart and Grandma's Kitchen (which is closed on Sunday) there really is not a decent donut shop around. Oh, we have a bakery in Troy 15 miles to the east and a Dunkin' Donuts over in Wellsboro as well as a Weis supermarket (Wellsboro) and Bilo supermarkets (in both Troy and Wellsboro) but they are a bit out of the way. The Goose was on the way to church for Terry and didn't require any additional expenditure of gas or time.

Oh, well. As much as I'll miss those apple fritters, I really don't need 'em.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


While downloading the furniture pictures from my camera, I found some sunset pictures I forgot to upload the other day. This is the view from the porch on March 24, 2008.

Sunset on March 24, 2008


I mentioned that we had some new furniture delivered yesterday. I have to say that the two pieces fit in quite nicely with our decor. (Terry does have good taste...but hey, we are married for nearly 36 years now.)

First the hutch.

New Hutch

The color is perfect for he exposed log wall and the mirrored rear wall of the piece makes things look really deep (and make taking pictures of it s chore). The shelves will son be full of teapots, Lladro and other little knick-knacks. There are built in lights to highlight all the stuff that will be inside.

Then there's the hunt table.

New Hunt Table

It's nearly 4 feet long and fits well against the blank wall in the foyer. Terry will be digging around in the boxes for her copper pieces to put on display here.

The trick is, of course, to make the cats understand these are not new perches upon which they may sit to watch the world go by.

Friday, March 28, 2008


DrewM. at Ace of Spades, “ a lifelong fan of the other NY baseball team” postson a curious hobby of NY Yankee Hideki Matsui: Collecting pron. He has some 55,000 items in his collection. Must be one hell of a mattress.


Maybe it’s really just part of his training program. You need strong wrists to be a good hitter.

You’ve got to go take a look at the comments. They are a hoot. Plus there is a link there to the original story.

Just a thought.

There's room here for a comment about a "before" and "after" photo-op, but I'll let it slide in favor of a "separated at birth" comment.


On Thursday I posted that Geert Wilders’ Fitna was up on LiveLeak. On Friday LiveLeak was forced to take it down due to threats of violence and death. You can still click on the link, but it will take you to an explanation of why LiveLeak felt it was necessary to drop Fitna. The explanation speaks volumes about the intolerance of Islamists and Jihadists.

The missing video is not here any longer:

While they may have intimidated LiveLeak into taking the video down, it is still available at Google Video.

And Bash over at Pat Dollard's seems to want to make sure Fitna remains available.

Eye Glasses

As I mentioned the other day, Terry and I visited the optometrist the other day for eye exams and new glasses. We were in the office for nearly two hours. Part of that was because it was our first visit and all our particulars needed to be entered into the system but most of the time was spent with a very thorough examination process and then time spent picking out frames.

The young optometrist we saw was quite friendly and did a fine job during the exams checking fro any eye degeneration. (I hate the dilation portion of the exam because the entire world seems hazy afterwards. I also dislike that little machine that puffs air at your eyeball to check for...what does that thing check for anyway?) In fact everyone we spoke to in our time at the office was extremely friendly, easy to talk to and helpful. (Aaah, the joys of rural life!)

Anyway, my eyes are still the same as they have been for the last 10 years or so despite all the wear and tear of reading and writing on the web. I'll still need new glasses because of the small scratches on the lenses and general age of the pair I'm wearing now. Terry's eyes have gotten quite a bit worse since her last check-up nearly 4 years ago. Undoubtedly it's due to all that fancy stitching stuff she does. If her lenses weren't made from the special stuff used to keep their weight down but out of glass instead, we could save money by using Coke bottle bottoms.

As usual, we were shocked at the price of frames and lenses. Luckily Terry reads all the mailings we get and discovered that there was an offering of an eye care program (I won't call it insurance) through NARFE (retirement plan for federal employees) that we could buy into with a small monthly fee. (The Blue Cross/Blue Shield program I have didn't include eye glasses but would cover glaucoma or other eye diseases/injuries. To get the eye care package would have cost me twice what we're paying now.) As a result, we will end up paying a mere 20% of what the bill was out of our own pocket but even that will be a hefty $275 for the two of us.

Interesting times!

Terry and I woke up this morning to the sound of rain drumming on the roof. That was a most welcome sound as when we went to bed last night it was supposed to be snow. It was a sound that made you want to just spend the morning lazing beneath the comforter but, unfortunately, Chester was on the other side of the bedroom door insisting we get the hell up and feed him, and, by the way, Julie and Shadow too.

We had to get up anyway since we were expecting a delivery of some furniture form Raymore and Flanagan this morning. Terry has been harping about the need for a hutch in the dining area so she can put her teapots on display and I finally caved to her demands and told her to do some shopping while she was up in Horseheads earlier in the week. She picked out a nice craftsman style hutch and, since it was a floor model and they don't usually deliver floor models, a craftsman style hunt table for the foyer as well. (There goes our tax return!)

Arrangements were made for delivery today and the store called to confirm that the truck would be here between 9 and 11 AM. Due to a cancellation, they pulled in the driveway around 8 AM.

Our driveway is not the easiest to get into or out of with a large truck such as they had. The drive forms a fairly tight Y with the road with the point aimed up the hill while most traffic comes from down the hill where Route 6 is located. The deliverymen made the correct choice of driving past the driveway and then backing in to the house. The process of unloading and moving the furniture indoors went smoothly enough. While they were doing so we asked what the weather was like up in NY State. (Horseheads is just on the north side of Elmira on Route 17.) The response was that it was hellish. They had around 6 inches of heavy wet snow with some freezing rain mixed in and figured they would find the same here. Coming down Route 15, however, they were pleasantly surprised to find nothing but rain on the PA side of the border.

Anyway, they got the hutch and table in the house and headed out to their next stop.

They didn't get far. The driver tried to make the sharp turn to head down the hill at the end of the driveway and didn't swing wide enough to accomplish his goal. Then, when he tried to back up as if to make a K-turn, he buried his tires in the mud at the end of the drive and grounded his platform lift in the driveway itself. He was stuck. He couldn't back up and he had nowhere to go forward as a tree was 4 inches in front of his hood.

I went out with the Tundra to see if I could pull him out of his predicament but it was no use. I couldn't pull him straight back as there was only the width of the driveway before there is a stone hillside. I tried dragging his ass end to the side but again had no luck. His tires were buried in deep grooves and I was trying to pull him up the hill to boot. We tried digging the tires out only to find that beneath the soft muddy clay and stone there was still lots of ice. (The combination of wet clay, loose stone and ice made my attempts at towing near impossible as I could get no traction.) The only hope was to get a tow truck up here from Mansfield. If I knew my neighbors better, I could have seen about getting a tractor to pull on the front end of the truck, but....

When the truck arrived it was on the downhill side of the R & F truck and was able to hook up to the front end and slide it down hill until it was near the middle of the road again. At 10 AM they were free to go to their next delivery. What was supposed to be a quick in-and-out became a two hour affair. During the entire time they were blocking the road (nearly 2 hours) not one vehicle attempted to go up or down the road. Aaah, rural living!

Terry had a club meeting at the Bradford County Library she wanted to attend but was stuck in the house during all this since the end of the driveway was pretty well occupied. As soon as things were cleared, however, ziiiip! she was gone with only a caution to me that there was something in the wood stove in the basement.

A starling had come down the chimney, despite the spark arrester at the top, and was keeping the cats entertained. Feeling magnanimous, I released it to the outdoors unharmed. (We had two do the same thing last spring and I wasn't so gentle with the second. Should this or another show up again....)

New sign of spring: We have had a Purple Finch showing up at the feeders with the freeloading Redpolls.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

"Swim faster, we're late for school!"

And we have kids who would bitch and moan about walking a mile and a half to school.
From the BBC:

A South African village is demanding that a bridge be built across a crocodile-infested river to stop children swimming it to get to school.
Students as young as seven have been making the crossing for two months since the community's boat was stolen.

Of course, if they get neither a bridge nor a boat, the graduates will be able to compete in the future Olympics. Either as swimmers in the 100 meter freestyle or in the Special Olympics for the handicapped.

h/t once again to the Jungle Trader


I'm a little surprised it's that low, but then again, I tend to watch my language around folks I don't know too well and I guess, putting this out to a bunch of well, strangers, means I don't know many of you well.

The Blog-O-Cuss Meter - Do you cuss a lot in your blog or website?
Created by OnePlusYou - Free Online Dating

(Maybe I just haven't gotten emotional enough about lots of stuff. I do tend to hold things in a wee bit.)

So, what percent of your site contains cuss words?

(Stolen (Can you really “steal” this sorta thing?) from Marco at Munchkin Wrangler.)

Geert Wilders’ Fitna

UPDATE: LiveLeak has been forced to pull the video. Click on the link to see thier reason for doing so. It speaks volumes about the intolerance of Islamists.

This video was at long last released this afternoon directly to the internet via LiveLeak. A brief 15 minutes long, Geert Wilders’ Fitna attempts, as far as I can tell, only to awaken us to the evil that is loose upon the world. To do so he uses the words of the Koran and of imams around the world. Interspersed there are some pieces of very graphic and disturbing events celebrated by the Islamists.

It is one of the most important videos you will ever watch.

There are those who will call what is in this video as fear mongering. I'm sure that claim is already up on some lefty websites and blogs. They can eat my shorts.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Eyedoc appointment tommorrow.

Terry and I have appointments tomorrow morning to get fitted for some new eyeglasses. It’s been four years since she got tested and fitted for new glasses and about two since I last replaced a scratched pair just before we moved from NJ.

I think I can skip the eye chart reading, however. I just took this Vision Test posted by Bird Dog at Maggie’s Farm and my eyes seem to work just fine.

One less Redpoll
Bird Band

I found a dead bird outside yesterday. It was one of the Common Redpolls that have been so numerous around the feeders. We’ve had a few of them (and the Evening Grosbeaks, Chickadees, Nuthatches, and Mourning Doves) bang into the windows from time to time as they attempt to take a shortcut through the Aerie. Sometimes they lay stunned on the ground or deck for a short time before they fly off. Sometimes they don’t. I’ve removed about 5 or 6 tiny bodies from the yard. (The neighbors’ semi-feral cats may have accounted for an equal number although that’s just a guess. I’ve actually seen them take 3 small birds.)

This one—the one I found yesterday—was different. It wore a bracelet. There, around its tiny ankle was a bird band with a series of numbers attached. I participated in a small bird-banding exercise, many, many years ago and I tagged my share of white-footed deer mice when doing my field research for my Master’s Degree, so I have an inkling of how important that little band might be to someone.

I placed the bird in a Zip-Loc bag and placed it in the freezer while I went on-line to find out to whom I should report my recovered band. Interestingly, the very short search using produced the answer in the first link. The USGS’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center want to know all about it. They even have a place on line where you can enter the numbers on the band, which is, like, totally cool since postage would cost me 41 cents.

I entered my information as to the ID numbers and location of the find and got back, instantly, a message telling me that this bird had been banded on April 14, 2002 in Quebec. The little guy was six years old! A freakin’ Methuselah of the Redpoll world! Unfortunately, whoever put the band on my little buddy IDed the bird as a Hoary Redpoll, a very similar species but with some very distinctive characteristics that the bird in my hand lacked.

Receiving an email from the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center thanking me for my report, I emailed back with the information that I believed this bird to have been misidentified. (And suggesting that they could be a wee bit more specific as to where in Quebec the bird was banded, ‘cause, you know, it’s a pretty big Province, eh?)

Anyway, there’s an Ecology/Biology professor at Mansfield University who wishes to add my little guy to their collection so he’s still in the freezer until we can make arrangements to meet. (You think it would be okay for me to be seen handing over a small glassine bag to a college prof?)

[On a side note, Terry, wondered way the USGS should be doing this instead of the Fish and Wildlife folks. I just looked at her and reminded her she was the one who worked for the Federal Gov’t for 32 years, not me, so why is she asking such a silly question?]

2008 Big Garden Birdwatch
the numbers are in

Just as we here in the states have our Christmas Bird Count, over in the UK they have a Garden Count.

The results for the 2008 count are in and they are not good for birds in general:

Garden birds decline by 20 per cent in four years

The RSPB's 2008 Big Garden Birdwatch results shows another steep drop in the average number of once common birds seen in each garden.

In the 2004 survey an average 34.8 birds were seen per garden but this year numbers slumped to 28.4 birds.

Since the survey began in 1979 starling numbers have fallen by 77 per cent, house sparrow by 64 per cent, blackbird 39 per cent and robin 37 per cent.

While some of this may actually be due to a decline in certain species, don’t jump to conclusions. Winters have been mild of late and…

… others are not using our gardens to find food because they are able to forage successfully in the wild. In milder winters birds don't have to rely on scraps from the bird table to stay alive.

Add the lack of gardens, nesting sites and feeding stations (as well as feral/house cats) and you get a drop in the number of birds reported.

I can certainly support two ideas in the article.

1) Mild winters allow for more foraging. There were times between snow storms here at the Aerie that the numbers of birds seemed to have dropped. Recently I even thought the freeloading Common Redpolls and Evening Grosbeaks had set out for their northern homes. Then we got some snow. Not much, but enough to cover the ground. And the hordes were back to their looting and pillaging of my feeders.

2) The Redpolls and Evening Grosbeaks are invaders from the far north that seldom come this far south even in the winter. But, last fall, Mark and I noticed the complete lack of beech nuts in the woods around the Bolt Hole in the Adirondacks. If beech nuts and fir seeds were in short supply in their normal wintering grounds, these birds would have, and perhaps did, continue south until they found a sucker to feed them.

Incidentally, they mention in the article that the Goldfinch made the Top Ten list as far as the numbers seen at the garden feeders. Now, I knew the American Robin and the English Robin were different birds with different appearances, but I did not know that their Goldfinch was nothing like our yellow-and-black Goldfinch. All I can say is go over to the article at the link and look at the pictures. You’ll have to scroll down to see their Robin and Goldfinch.

h/t Theo Sparks atLast of the Few

Influence peddling?

This just in: Saddam paid for lawmakers' Iraq trip

Saddam Hussein's intelligence agency secretly financed a trip to Iraq for three U.S. lawmakers during the run-up to the U.S.-led invasion, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

An indictment unsealed in Detroit accuses Muthanna Al-Hanooti, a member of a Michigan nonprofit group, of arranging for three members of Congress to travel to Iraq in October 2002 at the behest of Saddam's regime. Prosecutors say Iraqi intelligence officials paid for the trip through an intermediary.

This took place in the months just prior to the Iraqi invasion when the administration was trying to coax Congress to back military action. None of the lawmakers are named in the indictment but the timeline suggests they were: Democratic Reps. Jim McDermott of Washington, David Bonior of Michigan and Mike Thompson of California.

During the trip, the lawmakers expressed skepticism about the Bush administration's claims that Saddam was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction.

"War is not the answer," Bonior, who is no longer in Congress, said at a news conference while on the trip. "There is a way to resolve this."

Upon their return to the House, they were chastised by leading Republicans for sounding like cheerleaders for the Hussein regime.

It is believed none of the Congressmen knew about the funding arrangements.

This man needs a cat.

Holy Moly! Is this what the German Teutonic Superman has become?

A German man who spotted a mouse running across his living room floor while he was watching TV was so scared that he raced into the snow-covered street at 3:25 a.m. wearing nothing but boxer shorts, slippers and a blanket, police said.

Now, you might think some person wandering by and seeing a guy in his underwear called the police. You would be wrong.

"He alerted the police from a public call box," police in the central city of Göttingen said in a statement released late on Tuesday. "The 23-year-old man told the amazed officers that there was a mouse in his flat and that there was nothing he was more afraid of than the little rodents."

While the man waited outside, the helpful officers ventured into his flat armed with a number of traffic cones in an attempt to catch the mouse. "The furry rodent wasn't found despite an intensive search of all the rooms," police said.

That’s right, he called the cops himself. And they, passing up the opportunity for a major fun fest of ridiculing this schlep, actually carried out a search of the home!

The man decided he couldn't share his flat with the mouse and trudged through the snow to spend the night at a friend's house. "How the mouse spent the rest of the night remains a mystery," police said. "Maybe it came out of hiding and spent the night dancing on the table."

You got that. This uber-race representative was so traumatized at the thought of sharing his abode with a MOUSE that he had to spend the night elsewhere.

The Spiegel article, obviously out of concern that he might get his panties in a twist, does not name our brave hero.

h/t again to the Jungle Trader

Mammoth Ivory

Now who said global warming was all bad? Here’s one scenario where folks are benefiting from the thaw.

From the NY Times: Ivory for the Taking, From Beasts Well Beyond Caring

The ivory in this part of the world [Siberia] comes from the remains of extinct woolly mammoths, as their remains emerge from the tundra where they have been frozen for thousands of years. It is a traditional Russian business that had all but gone extinct itself during the Soviet period, but is flourishing now.

Ivory carving, a form of scrimshaw work, has increased recently in Siberia as more material has become available to the artist.

Mr. Seliverstov recently paid $500 for about 16 pounds of mammoth ivory from a family that had stashed it in a barn for years before realizing its value.

The trade, given a lift recently by global warming, which has melted away the tundra and exposed more frozen remains, is not only legal but actually endorsed by conservationists. They note somewhat grudgingly that while the survival of elephants may be in question, it is already too late for mammoths.

Seems like a win-win-win situation for the people doing the collection of the ivory, the artists involved in producing the carving and the elephants who continue to thrive in Africa and Asia.

The business of ice age ivory, a mainstay in Siberia since the 17th century, was further helped by the international ban imposed on the elephant ivory trade in 1989. Russian exports of mammoth ivory — the only type of ivory legally imported into the United States — reached 40 tons last year, up from just 2 tons in 1989…

(h/t to the Jungle Trader who continues to highlight amazing stories.)

Every group, person, organization that is part of the "the sky is falling" doom and gloom front over looks the positives that might occur in the case of the earth warming. While this story is certainly not a major one within the realm of that scenario, it highlights just one small positive among many that the models and prognosticators conveniently overlook.

But wait! There're more....

I was adding the GREAT READER to my blogroll and was surprised to see that there were a few sites I have forgotten to place over there that I’ve been visiting nearly every day.

There’s Theo Sparks (Last of the Few) from across the pond, who has some really hot looking…planes and military do-dads almost every day as well as social and political commentary and jokes. (Okay, so he has this thing about totty, too. But I only go to read the articles and look at the military hardware. Honest.)

Then there’s Maggie’s Farm which is “a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs.” Their commentary is eclectic but generally Yankee droll with a good dollop of libertarianism and independence thrown as topping.

And Primordial Slack is the home to Joan of Argghh! who has many an insightful post.

I’m sure there are more whom I’ve overlooked but these three are a beginning. Each will provide you with plenty to think about. I really need to go through all my bookmarks and upgrade my blogroll.

Please Welcome....

There’s a new player in town. He calls himself JihadGene and he’s demonstrating some made skills as he channels Kim Jong Il and, possibly, other public figures. A link to site of the GREAT READER has been added to the blogroll to the right and I encourage one and all to go take a look.

Today JihadGene channels KIM JONG IL in:


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Wahoo! Baseball season has begun!

The Boston Red Sox and Oakland A’s kicked off the Major League baseball season over in Japan. In a 10-inning contest the Sox took down the A’s 6-5.

Daisuke Matsuzaka got the start for Boston and went 5 innings giving up 2 runs (both earned)on 2 hits, while walking 5 and striking out 6. Reliever Hideki Okajima got the win with a perfect 9th inning performance.

Joe Blanton started for the A’s and went 5.2 innings. He surrendered 3 runs (all earned) on 7 hits, 1 walk and 3 strikeouts. Huston Street took the loss with a line of 1.2 innings, 3 hits, 3 runs (all earned), 1 walk, 2 strikeouts.

Rookie Brandon Moss went 2 for 5 at the plate with a homerun and 2 RBI and Manny Ramierez was also 2 for 5 with 2 doubles and 4 RBI for the Red Sox.

The two teams square off again tonight (?)—on ESPN2 at 6:05 AM EDST Wednesday. (God I hate the International Date Line! Can’t wait for all the Olympic coverage from China. It was bad enough suffering through XXVII Olympics from Australia (2000).)

The full recap is here and the box score is here.

That means the Red Sox are ½ game ahead of the Yankees, right?

The Mets' season (the real one where they play with just 9 guys on a side) begins on Monday, March 31 in Miami against the Marlins at 4:10 PM.

RU 69, Iowa State 58

Rutgers R.small
The Rutgers women’s basketball team advanced to the Sweet 16 for the fourth consecutive season Monday night in Des Moines, Iowa as Rutgers thumped the Iowa State Cyclones 69-58.

Kia Vaughn led the Scarlet Knights with a season high 23 points. Three other Rutgers players scored in double figures as well: Epiphanny Prince scored 17 points, Matee Ajavon added 16 points to go with seven assists, Essence Carson chipped in 10.
Heather Ezell was top scorer for Iowa State with 19 points, followed by Amanda Nisleit with 15.

The victory sends Rugters to North Carolina and the Greensboro Coliseum on Sunday, March 30 where they will face George Washington. The two teams played earlier in the year and RU came away with a 67-42 road victory.

The full story and stats are here.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Bats are in trouble.

No one is sure what's happening to the bats in southern New England, but it's not good. If this keeps up there's going to be a decided unbalance of power in the Adirondack air wars.

Bats Perish, and No One Knows Why

Wildlife biologists fear a significant die-off in about 15 caves and mines in New York, as well as at sites in Massachusetts and Vermont. Whatever is killing the bats leaves them unusually thin and, in some cases, dotted with a white fungus. Bat experts fear that what they call White Nose Syndrome may spell doom for several species that keep insect pests under control.

Researchers have yet to determine whether the bats are being killed by a virus, bacteria, toxin, environmental hazard, metabolic disorder or fungus. Some have been found with pneumonia, but that and the fungus are believed to be secondary symptoms.

I'm going to have to stock up on more citrinella candles and DEET. The bats are major factors in keeping night flying insect pests under control. They do a job on both mosquitoes and moths. If bat numbers nose dive, you can be sure these insects will experience a population boom.

Who's that howling at my door?

Last winter (2006-07) a logging man working the woods around the Bolt Hole claimed he had seen a wolf in our Adirondacks. We kind of pooh-poohed the idea saying it must have been a coydog (coyote-dog hybrid), which are known to grow quite large, but our logger insisted. He had been to Alaska often, he said, and knew what a wolf looked like. Based upon this story, from western Massachusetts, he might have been correct.
Wolf Shot in Western Massachusetts Last Fall

H/t to Maggie’s Farm

Tiger Woods is human!

Woods' winning streak ends as Ogilvy takes Doral

Woods finished 2 strokes behind Ogilvy in fifth place (three were tied for second, one stroke back).

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Morning

I woke up this morning before sunrise to a big, beautiful moon shining in the bedroom window. I would have hustled downstairs to get the camera and take some pictures, but, hey, it was only 6 AM! (Besides, if I had gotten out of bed, I would have had to feed the cats before I could do anything.)

Yesterday's clipper of a storm--the one that left 6 inches of snow around Chicago and points west--passed well to the south of us along I-80 and things cleared around noon and have remained that way. Lovely sunshine yesterday afternoon, glorious starlight and moonlight last night, and fantastic sunshine again this morning. Even though the daytime highs remain nearly 10 degrees below the average, I could get used to this sunny stuff. Unfortunately, it won't last according to the folks. Starting on Tuesday we're in for mostly cloudy with showers for a week or so. (That's when the 10-day forecast cuts off.) At least they aren't talking anything serious or snow.

The only hitch in the whole thing is the darn night raiding raccoons. Three of the masked rascals made a mess out of the feeders again last night and ventured up on the porch to knock one of the flower boxes off the deck rail. Luckily nothing was damaged and I had only to refill the feeders and upright the flower box. (No flowers in it yet anyhow.) Worst thing is I set out one of my game cameras in homes of catching the varmints in action and the durn flash didn't fire. So I replaced that camera with another this morning and hope to get some shots of the turkeys (who are out there now) and the coons when they return tonight.

Terry took off for Easter Mass this morning leaving me to enjoy the weather and critters outside. She cooked up a nice ham with homemade scalloped potatoes and broccoli yesterday and has a couple of lamb chops for dinner today. Is it any wonder that I'm wearing my "fat" pants again? Since the construction phase of the Aerie ended, I've put on nearly 30 pounds. Sure hope she's not fattening me up for anything.

Well, that's about all for now.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Sap Season

Things have been rather sappy around here lately. By that I do not mean "sappy" as in mushy, romantic kind of way. I'm referring to the weather.

It is early spring and that's the time to see all the sap buckets hung on the sugar maples. There are still a few farms that do that sort of thing around here. (And I know the Burt Farm in the town of Ohio, New York, near the Bolt Hole still uses buckets in their sugar bush.) Some sap collectors have gone to hanging plastic tubing from tree to tree and gather their sap in 1000 gallon tanks along the road.

The recent full moon takes the name "Sap Moon" from the activities that take place in the sugar bush. With the daytime highs ranging above 35 degrees and the nighttime lows dropping to the teens and low 20s, the sap in the maple trees flows heavily during the day. Up it flows during the day carrying nutrients to the buds at the tips of each branch and twig and down it flows at night to avoid the freezing that could shatter the small phloem and xylem tubes within those twigs.

But the buds do not swell and burst into flower yet. They are gathering materials within their folded scales in preparation for that event, of course, but when that occurs, or even if the buds get swollen to the point of near bursting, the syrup maker's season is over. Bud sap is inferior to that which is collected at the tail end of winter and the very beginning of spring.

The gathering of the sap is just the beginning of the syrup making process, of course. It will take 7 gallons to 10 gallons of sap to make one gallon of good quality syrup. And to get that reduction, you've got to boil away all that extra water. To get maple sugar, you'll have to boil all the water away.

Farms that make some maple syrup on the side have special equipment and structures to do all that boiling in. If you wanted to do it on a very small scale, you could do it in your kitchen but I recommend--based upon past experience--that you do not. Should you decide to try, be prepared to spend a week cleaning all the walls and replacing all your wallpaper. That is once serious amount of steam you are going to produce. (I did it with just about 1 gallon of sap from some red maple trees--definitely inferior in sugar content--and got 1/4 cup of syrup for the effort. Steam-cleaned the entire kitchen, however! And had to replace the decorative border at the top of each wall when the paste just gave up the ghost!)

Excellent question

From the JungleTrader we have a revelation and a question:
Marxist Monk

Last January the Dalai Lama gave a lecture at the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad.

"I am a Marxist monk, a Buddhist Marxist," he said. "I belong to the Marxist camp, because unlike capitalism, Marxism is more ethical. Marxism, as an ideology, takes care of the welfare of its employees and believes in distribution of wealth among the people of the state.”

What does Nancy Pelosi think about that?

I can’t pretend to read the twisted thoughts of any in today’s political class, but since she is the titular head of her party in the House of Representatives, and because of the ideas held by and statements made by the two Democratic candidates currently running for President.(and the two that were on the ticked for Pres and VP last time), I would guess that Nancy is far more at home with the Dali Lama’s political leanings than the history and traditions of the USA.

There's nothing funny about global warming
but there should be

Another victim of the climate hysteria: Global warming drowns comics By Andrew Bolt

...And now I’m sure you, too, see what’s missing from this festival.

It’s the greens. No one’s eating their greens.

Sure there are greens aping comics, but there’s no comics aping greens—exposing this great army of wailing, protesting, exaggerating, hectoring, posturing cause-pushers and bandwagon-jumpers to healthy mockery. And this is a great offence against comedy. Since when did comics have sacred cows?

The failure here comes in two parts. First, no one today is more naturally absurd than a global warming alarmist.


What madness on legs, and yet is there a single joke being told about these gurus, scaremongers and gimme-cash snakeoil salesman?

Heaven forbid! It would be like breaking wind in church to our po-faced comics, who have forgotten one of the great constants of comedy. [The second failure.]

It’s this: the fashionable are funny. In the sudden enthusiasms of the public lies all the manure needed to grow good satire.

And even more importantly: the powerful must be mocked. The pompous and the pious are just a joke waiting for a banana skin.

And the sanctimonious hypocrites, above anyone else, have a bullseye pinned to their pants.

Inspired comics and satirists have known this for centuries, and have memorably mocked the preaching, prating hypocrites of their own day—in a way Melbourne’s comics do not.

I guess Kermit was right: It’s not easy being green. As Bolt (and some of the commenters) point out in defense of the comedians (?) involved in the festival, it's very difficult to make fun of people and groups who, rather unintentionally to be sure, do such a good job of making a mockery of themselves and their message.

Read some of the comments as well. I found the one about the lack of a sense of humor as a requirement for the left to be quite on the mark.

h/t to BirdDog at Maggie’s Farm

Rutgers 85, Robert Morris 42

Rutgers R.small

The NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament started play this afternoon. The Rutgers’ Women’s Team, ranked 7th in the nation and the Number 2 Seed in the Greensboro Regional faced off against Robert Morris University in Des Moines, Iowa. The Scarlet Knights had little difficulty moving on to the next round of play as they played a stingy defense that held the RMU squad to just 21 points in the first half and continued to shut them down in the second half.

Robert Morris came into the game averaging 74 points per game on 45% shooting from the floor during the regular season. This afternoon they were held to a mere 42 points on 12 of 60 or 20% shooting. They managed an anemic 4 of 33 in the second half as they were forced play catch-up. Rutgers shot 34 of 62 or a smidge under 55%.

Kia Vaughn led the Scarlet Knights with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Epiphanny Prince added 21 points while Essence Carson scored 9 points. Matee Ajavon had 6 points and 10 assists.

Sade Logan had 11 points for Robert Morris while teammates Kendra Williams had 10 points and Psyche Butler had 9.

Next up for RU is Iowa State on Monday night.

(Full story and stats here .)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring Equinox at the Aerie

Officially today is the First Day of Spring. So, of course, we had a dusting of snow on the ground when we woke up at the Aerie. (Really, really getting tired of this!)

The winds blew from the south most of Wednesday bringing warm temperatures (mid-40s)and keeping the worst of the weather, that drenching rain that moved trough Ohio, to our northwest. The rain did inch into the area sometime around 8 PM while we were over at the Audubon meeting in Wellsboro. It was still 43 degrees and raining hard when we hit the sack around 10 PM. During the night the temps dropped down to 30 degrees after the winds shifted around to come from the north. The winds are still howling out of the north as I write and there's lots of clouds with the threat of some snow showers today and tonight.

The Redpolls and the Evening Grosbeaks are still with us, although I think there are fewer Redpolls than there were a couple of days ago. That might be due more to the open fields and edges for them to find seeds in than the fact that they have started to return to their Arctic homes. With the strong south winds yesterday, it would have been an ideal time for them to head out. Birds always appreciate the help of a good tail wind. We've seen flocks of geese over the last week heading north despite the fact that the lakes around here are still pretty well frozen solid. I can only assume they (the geese) are heading from places like the St. Lawrence, Lake Champlain, Lake Erie or some other large body of water they "know" to be open.

We've had some new visitors to the bird feeders.

Starting about a week ago we've had a pair of raccoons showing up every evening just after dark. Sometimes one will climb the old telephone pole to get sunflower seeds from the big feeder I've got hanging there but mostly they're just doing what the daytime turkeys do--scratching among the seeds that have fallen to the ground. I'm guessing that last night the larger of the two went up the pole and sat on the hanger. That weighty 'coon caused one of the screws to snap ad the entire feeder crashed to the ground. They probably enjoyed the seed once they got over the shock.

Two nights ago, I shined my flashlight out there after the sun went down expecting to see my two masked bandits only to see a nearly pure white face and silver gray body of an opossum. It was hunkered down at the base of the telephone pole picking up seeds. Totally undisturbed by the beam of light I shone in its face, it just kept right on eating.

Other than the rabbits in the lawn (not enough green there for many of them to be showing up. but when that changes--hoo-boy!) and a a doe with her two yearlings walking through every so often and the five tom turkeys (who only show up when it's nice out) and a few stray cats and the neighbor's super friendly free range, roaming hound, Molly, we haven't had many mammalian visitors.

I can do without the bear showing up again, but I'm sure he will be here soon and I'll have to start bringing in the feeders at night. And we haven't seen any skunks, which is fine by me. Of course, the ground hogs haven't made their real appearance yet. (Phil hardly counts as he had to be dragged out of his den on February 2nd)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Atsa spicy meatball!

Erica is in a snit because she discovered a bottle of Jersey Deathhot sauce in her cousin’s refrigerator.
During the mid-1990s, as my son was entering his teenage years and all that entails, he went bonkers for hot and spicy foods. We would go to the outdoor shows and someone would have a booth with what the claimed to be some hot and spicy food or sauce and he’d walk over to check it out. The guy manning the booth would warn him about how hot (spicy) the sauce/food was and Rick would just smile while he popped it in his mouth, shifted it side to side on his tongue like it was a fine wine and then pronounce it either acceptable or “blah.”

In middle school Rick had a public speaking assignment in which each student had to make something and then give a talk in front of the glass explaining the process. He chose to bake some cookies. He started with the Toll House recipe but substituted dried habenero peppers for the chocolate chips. He brought the tin of cookies to school and one smart ass swiped one and before Rick could warn him popped it in his mouth. The kid ended up in the nurse’s office. Rick ended up having a talk with the vice-principal who suggested the tin of cookies should remain in his office until Rick needed them for class. That one tin of cookies stayed in our house for nearly 6 months before we all agreed it was too dangerous to have them around any longer. They might spontaneously go off or something. So we fed them to the squirrels.

Once a month or so we would get some hot wings from Cluck-U Chicken outlet in Morristown. If you haven’t tried them, their wing sauce comes in Mild, Atomic, Nuclear, Thermo-Nuclear and 911*. (The * after the 911 is to tell you you must sign a waiver to obtain a helping of 911 wings.) Atomic was good. Nuclear was fine. Thermo-Nuclear needed to be eaten either very quickly with lots of fluids or very slowly with lots of fluids. Either way your lips and tongue were going to get scorched. We never did try the 911* wings since we reasoned we liked chicken too much to have it cooked BY the sauce rather than in it. (Actually, Rick might have tried the 911*s, he worked in a health food shop in the same little strip for several months as a senior in high school.)

At one time we had five or six different bottles of hot sauce in the fridge. This despite the fact that you could only use a couple of drops at a time unless you wanted a little mushroom cloud of potent sinus cleaner to rise from the stew pot.

One that we particularly liked was Dave’s Insanity Sauce which was at that time THE hottest sauce around. Others have surpassed it on the Scoville scale (DIS was originally 180,000 units compared to 2,000-5,000 for Tobasco Sauce) but you have to wonder why. Dave’s was as hot as you could stand without raising blisters (as long as you didn’t use too much!) yet added flavor to the dishes to which you judiciously applied it.
(More on Dave’s Insanity Sauce)

While at Boy Scout camp (both Rick and I worked on the staff) we got in the habit of carrying a bottle of Tabasco Peppersauceto the dining hall for meals. (One of those little Mini Maglite holsters would just about hold a small bottle and allow us to carry it everywhere.) It improved the flavor of many a scrabbled egg breakfast as well as some of the meat dishes at dinner without threatening the lives of the many younger scouts as Dave's might. Most individual military and trekking MREs come with a special, tiny one serving bottle of Tabasco Peppersauce that is both welcome and cute.

Put a couple of drops of Dave’s Insanity Sauce in a pot of chili or spaghetti sauce, or in your meatloaf or macaroni and cheese and you’ll have a meal that’s just about right. (Just don’t go putting too much in there, okay?)

I been sick

For a little two weeks now, I've been battling some sort of low grade infection that has played havoc with my sinuses and my sleep. There's been no fever to speak of, just the feeling of hot coals behind my eyes and a general flushedness, if you catch my drift. (I feel like I have a fever, but there's no warmth there.)

I was supposed to go to New Jersey with Terry last weekend for a baby christening and a special surprise 50th birthday party for her cousin. Not wanting to spread my germs about to people who might be even more susceptible, I stayed home while Terry went n her own.

It doesn't feel like it's anything serious and may be just a flu-like bug but it's really starting to annoy me no end. Despite dosing myself up with antihistamines in an attempt to control the flow of fluids in my sinuses, there seems to be no stopping the membranes in charge of production. Like congress and spending they seem to know no bounds.

Sitting up I have only minor difficulties with sinuses draining in a post-nasal kinda way. Occasional bouts of sneezing are interspersed with very few coughing jags that seem focused in the throat and not in the chest area. (Which is good. Having gone through the walking pneumonia crap a year and a half ago, I'll pass on a repeat, thank you.)

When I lay my head on the pillow, there's a rush by all the mucus in my body to occupy the sinus cavities in my head and produce a blockage that could only be compared to the morning rush on the GW Bridge on a very bad day. Nothing is moving much except from side to side as I toss and turn while trying to breath. I normally do not mouth breath and when I must, everything gets dry. Which merely packs that mucus even tighter.

My tossing, turning, sneezing and wheezing gets Chester's attention and he starts his alarm clock routine at the bedroom door. Even though it's only 3 AM. And he won't shut up.

Finally, since sitting upright may be my only chance to breath, I get dressed and go down to meet the demands of the pride of cats. Who, once fed, curl up and go soundly back to sleep while I continue to wheeze and sneeze even in a vertical position.

Iditarod 2008: Final update

Just what did happen to Deborah Bicknell on her way to Nome?

Jon Little reports(Its not just an award, its an adventure [sic]) that she got caught up in near white-out conditions just short of Safety in an area called the Solomon Blowhole and pulled her dogs up to wait it out. When the winds never let up, she waited some more until a snowmobiler came by and pointed her in the direction of the nearly obliterated trail once more. After getting lost in a blizzard and drenched in a river last year, this was almost anti-climatic.

Molly Yazwinski had her pack of leaderless dogs (she had to drop her leads earlier in the race) quit on her just outside of White Mountain forcing her to scratch just 77 miles short of the finish line. Liz Parrish suffered a fall that made easy tasks quite a bit more difficult but her dogs pulled through in the end. Deb tried to be kind to her dogs and give them a rest before the last haul and ended up getting caught by blowing snow and strong winds.

So of the final three out of (or almost out of) White Mountain, Molly’s heading off to Cornell Veterinary School with her race yet to be completed. Liz Parrish (who finished 77th) has succeeded in running the Iditarod just before her 50th birthday. Deb has checked the Iditarod off her to-do list and is probably heading for surgery on her knee. (She already has had one knee replaced and is scheduled to have the other done soon.)

Fate, small decisions and luck play a great deal in who gets to finish the Last Great Race on Earth, but if you finish at all you’re a winner. Hell, even if you try and fate knocks you back you’re still a winner.

There were 96 teams of mushers and dogs that started out for Nome. Seventy-eight made it safely through the Arch at the finish line while 18 more, including Molly Yazwinski, had to scratch for one reason or another. The 2008 Iditarod is in the books.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke is dead at 90

SF author Arthur C. Clarke died at his home in Sri Lanka. Clarke wrote more than 100 books, nearly all of them science fiction. He is best remembered for 2001: A Space Odyssey.

More on Clarke from Wikipedia: Arthur C. Clarke

Deborah Bicknell
Iditarod update

Iditarod Red Lantern winner is ...

The last musher and her team have arrived in Nome and passed under the arch. Deborah Bicknell, 62, of Auke Bay, Alaska, born in, and a long time resident of, New Hampshire crossed the finish line late Monday night in a time of 15 days, 5 hours, 36 minutes and 12 seconds. Deb became the 78th and last musher to finish the 2008 Iditarod.

Her time, while not exactly speedy, certainly beats the slowest time ever.

Dave Straub holds the record for the fastest red lantern time of 14 days, 5 hours, 38 minutes -- set in 2002. The slowest ever is one of those Iditarod records that will never be broken -- John Schultz's time of 32 days, 5 hours, 19 minutes in the inaugural Iditarod of 1973.(From Sunday’s Anchorage Daily News: Iditarod Red Lantern winner is ...)

Just to remind you, Lance Mackey won the 2008 race with a time of 9 days, 11 hours, 46 minutes, 49 seconds.

Thankfully she did not take as long as Mr. Schultz did back in 1973, but her long trek from White Mountain to Safety (more than 17 hours to cover 55 miles) had a good number of fans worried about her. Some remembered her trail mishap during last year’s race* while others speculated about her health, her team’s health and any one of the multitude of things that could have gone wrong. Some contacted the Nome Visitor’s Center to ask for information, some emailed the Iditarod officials, and some contacted the bar at the finish line to see if they had any word.

Surprisingly, at least for this day and age and anywhere outside of Alaska, every one of those aforementioned sources replied! And so we learned that Deb was on her way to Safety and was being followed by the “sweepers”—those folks assigned the duty of picking up trail markers after the last musher had moved through.

When she passed through Safety and the information was posted on the leader (?) board, a cyberworld cheer went up on the message boards. It had taken Deb 17 hours and 16 minutes to cover the 55 miles between White Mountain and Safety, a “speed” of a mere 3.19 miles per hour. No word on the “why” aspect of that dramatic drop in speed, she had been averaging in the 6+ mph range for the previous four legs and had only one leg that was remotely as slow.

(Deb and her team covered the final 22 miles from Safety to Nome in 3 hours and 23 minutes or just around 6.5 miles/hour. A rate which makes her trip from White Mountain to Safety even more baffling.)

But then again, she did compete in—and finish—the Iditarod! Congratulations Deborah Bicknell!

*In 2007, Deborah “made it to Rainy Pass, 224 miles into the Race and was stopped by severe winds and sub-zero temperatures. She was the last team out of the checkpoint on Wednesday morning, and wasn't heard from again until a pilot spotted her the following afternoon at the foot of the Alaska Range. With no marker to show the correct Dazell Trail to Rohn (it had blown away), she headed through Ptarmigan Pass, getting soaked in overflow and spending a "night out with the dogs." Deborah's survival instincts pulled her through, but after a night at the Rohn checkpoint and out of concern for her dogs, that was the end of her rookie run on the Iditarod Trail.”

Monday, March 17, 2008

Here she comes!
An Iditarod update.

Debbie Bicknell has officially made it through the Safety checkpoint some 40 minutes ago and she's on the last 22 mile stretch to Nome.

Go Debbie, go!

A Patriotic Moment with the Rev. Wright

Hoo-boy! It's nowhere near PC, but it is sorta catchy.

The MoxArgon Group: TekTak's Culture Corner: A Patriotic Moment

h/t to GuyK who put it up first.

Iditarod 2008: The Final Hours

The Iditarod is like no other race in the world. Covering more than a thousand miles with three mandatory rest stops (one of 24 hours and two of 8 hours each), no cutoff times so you can travel at your own pace without penalty of being left on the trail when the clock suddenly stops, means the racers can get really, really strung out on the trail. As of noon today, there are three mushers still on the trail five days after the winner, Lance Mackey, crossed the finish line in Nome.

Unsurprisingly the three remaining racers are all rookies, at least by virtue of never having finished the Iditarod before, they certainly have a wealth of mushing experience and background, and all three are determined to complete the trek from Anchorage to Nome. They range in age from 26 to 62. They are currently in positions 77, 78 and 79. All three left White Mountain last evening at approximately 11:20 PM Alaska Time. The fact that they left within three minutes (11:18 – 11:21) suggests they are working together to see that they all complete their goal.

Did I mention that all three are women. In order of their departure from White Mountain:

Liz Parrish (r) Klamath Falls, OR, USA
Bib Number: 75
<>Liz Parrish, 49, is an innkeeper who along with her partner Peggy, own and operate Crystalwood Lodge, a destination pet-friendly resort in the Southern Oregon Cascades. She also owns and operates Briar's Patch Sled Dogs, which currently has 28 canine members and Liz who is the musher and chief pooper scooper. From an enthusiastic and naive beginning with the "Motley Crew" team (an Aussie, Norweigian Elkhound, and Beagle Mix), Briar's Patch has developed into a small kennel of Alaskan Huskies, whose duel missions are to train for and race in distance sled dog events and provide opportunities for the public and individuals to learn more about sled dogs and sled dog sports. Liz's goal has been to train her own distance racing team and to learn how to competently travel through the wilderness by dog team. Why Iditarod? Well, how do you know if you have those skills if you don't try? Liz started her mushing career through several trips with Wintergreen Lodge and subsequently through training her own dogs via Mushing Boot Camp and the many friends she and Peggy met there. She began acquiring Alaskans (starting with Briar) through her mentor Jamie Nelson and Briar's Patch was born, along with the dream of doing the Iditarod for her 50th birthday. Her recent races include Red Lantern and Best Rookie finish at 2005 Shasta 135, a 4th place finish at 2007 Shasta 135; a 4th place finish at the 2006 Eagle Cap 200 and a 2nd place finish at the 2007 Eagle Cap 200; and the Red Lantern finish of the 2006 Race to the Sky as well as 11th place at the 2007 Race to the Sky. She is having a blast training and learning with her young team and is looking forward to continuing to enjoy the ride.


Molly Yazwinski (r) Fairbanks, AK, USA
Bib Number: 62
Molly Yazwinski, 26, was born and raised in Deerfield, Massachusetts, where she grew up working on the family's dairy farm. She raised her own flock of sheep as a 4-H project and gained experience training border collies for livestock/farm work and herding trials. She graduated from Middlebury College in Vermont in 2004 with a degree in biology. While in college she ran competitively on the NCAA DIII cross-country team. She says she continues to run road races and has finished three marathons. "My mother raced a sprint team on the New England circuit in the 1970's and her aunt mushed dogs in Alaska during the 1980's, so she says she grew up hearing a few mushing stories. "Mom's sleds still hang in the garage and on occasion, we sometimes hook up a team of border collies. When she was six, she and her mom traveled to Alaska to visit her aunt and she was in Nome to see the finish of the Iditarod. Since she graduated from college, she has spent the summer months back in Massachusetts working on the dairy farm and other shepherding jobs and the winters in Fairbanks mushing dogs where I have been a handler for Susan Butcher and Dave Monson. "I decided to run the Iditarod this winter after having traveled part of the trail in March of 2007 with Tekla and Dave. We experienced the energy and atmosphere of the Race and traveled through some spectacular country. In the 2008 Iditarod I will be mushing a team from Trail Breaker Kennel. I have been working with many of these dogs for three years and I am excited to see how they will perform in the Race. I am deferring my enrollment at Cornell Veterinary School for one year in order to have the opportunity to run Iditarod. Then I plan to pursue a career in veterinary medicine with a focus on large animal medicine and serving rural communities.


Deborah Bicknell (r) Auke Bay, AK, USA
Bib Number: 21
Deborah Bicknell, 62, was born in New Hampshire. She began mushing at the age of 11 and ran her first race with a family pet, a Saint Bernard. She determinedly worked her way up through the junior and adult ranks with the New England and Lakes Region sled dog clubs, earning two fourth places and one second place on the three-day open World Championship Sled Dog Derby in Laconia. During the winter of 1970, she gained experience with Earl and Natalie Norris at their kennel in Willow and placed third in the Willow Winter Carnival race that year, beaten only by Norris and George Attla. 1996 was an outstanding year for Deborah, the first woman to be awarded an "unlimited team" medal by the International Sled Dog Racing Association. She was nominated by the Manchester Union Leader sports writers was one of the outstanding athletes in the state and was featured as "musher of the Year" in Team & Trail. She moved to southeast Alaska in 1981 with her husband, Sandy, and over the next few years, she gave up racing in favor a developing a prosperous boat canvas and upholstering business, but the dogs were never far from her mind. Since Southeast is not a favorable area for training sled dogs, they purchased land in Tagish, YT in the 1990's to maintain and train her team which was comprised of dogs from family sprint lines and long distance race kennels. By this time her focus had turned to distance racing. After getting some mid distance races under her belt, Deborah's turned to a new and greater challenge, the 1,000 mile Yukon Quest. She finished in 21st place out of 29 entrants in her rookie year. In 2006, she and Sandy, along with her sister-in-law, flew from checkpoint to checkpoint to observe the teams on the Iditarod Trail. She told her fellow travelers, "You have to be nuts to go through what those dogs and mushers are encountering on the trail." But after returning to the comforts of home, she couldn't get the Iditarod out of her mind, and one day, said to Sandy, "I can do that!" In 2007, she left the Iditarod start line with the intention of going to Nome and arriving with a healthy dog team. She made it to Rainy Pass, 224 miles into the Race and was stopped by severe winds and sub-zero temperatures. She was the last team out of the checkpoint on Wednesday morning, and wasn't heard from again until a pilot spotted her the following afternoon at the foot of the Alaska Range. With no marker to show the correct Dazell Trail to Rohn (it had blown away), she headed through Ptarmigan Pass, getting soaked in overflow and spending a "night out with the dogs." Deborah's survival instincts pulled her through, but after a night at the Rohn checkpoint and out of concern for her dogs, that was the end of her rookie run on the Iditarod Trail. But as indicated by her entry into the 2008 Race, her desire to reach Nome with a dog team has not diminished!

One of these ladies will be the last to cross the finish line (unless they conspire to ALL cross together!) and will take home the Red Lantern for this year’s Iditarod. That, in and of itself will be an accomplishment to celebrate for the rest of their lives. Imagine being able to say, “Yeah, I completed the Iditarod in 2008.”

UPDATE: Shortly before 11 AM Alaska Time Liz Parrish pulled into Nome. She had been on the trail for 14 days, 19 hours, 51 minutes, and 27 seconds.

Still on the trail and not yet checked into Safety (22 miles short of Nome) are Molly Yazwinski and Deborah Bicknell.

UPDATE 2: Just in at 13:35 Alaska Time: Molly Yazwinski has scratched. She is out of the race somewhere between White Mountain and Safety.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Cats! (Not the musical.)

Terry and I share the Aerie with three cats.

Julie is approaching 7 years of age and was adopted by my daughter while she was in an apartment her last year at UMass. She’s with us now because Jessica is living with Grandma who said, “No cats!” So she got Annie the ferret instead.

While we were constructing the Aerie, Adam had a bit of an overpopulation problem at his house over the mountain. One of his female cats who was allowed to wander outside did so to the delight of a local lothario who also, apparently had a liaison with a stray female who set up housekeeping under Adam’s shed. The result was two litters of four kittens each, born a day apart. Two did not survive and not long after the stray mom abandoned those that remained. Luckily, the domesticated mother was able to manage with the help of Adam’s own brood of human kidlings. When I heard that among the throng there was a sleek, near totally black kitten I asked if I could take her off their hands. It was an offer readily accepted by Adam and his wife, Braun, if not the kidlings. When I went to pick up the little black kitty I was told in no uncertain terms by Braun that this was a two-for-one deal. She dragged out the black one’s brother who I found to be irresistible gray with black tiger He looked nothing like his sister who was just as equally adorable. That’s how Shadow and Chester came into the house. (At least they told me they were from the same mother. We are pretty sure they have the same dad.)

Julie is a turquoise-eyed, tortoise-shell, light weight at seven pounds. She measures approximately 9 inches at the shoulder and 15-16 inches from nose to rump (tails do not count!).

Shadow sleekily black with just a tiny white chest bib and tummy area. Her eyes are a bright golden-yellow that really stand out and can stare right through you. She is almost identical in size to Julie but has a little more paunch to her and probably weighs a pound or two more.

Chester is gray with black stripes and a wide, black streak down his spine that seems to be made of another critter’s fur, its consistency is just that different—much like an Australian ridge runner. His eyes are interesting in that they are ringed with white fur so it looks like he’s wearing some exotic makeup to accentuate them. The irises are a dull yellow. He is a good two inches taller at the shoulder and two inches longer than the others and he weighs in at 15+ pounds.

My cats talk. Oh yes, they are quite vocal.

Ask them a question and they usually respond.

Sleep in a little past 7 and Chester will be at the door asking if we intend to get up and feed them. Chester is a lot like those cat wall clocks. In fact he’s shaped something like them too. When he sits up he’s perfectly pear shaped. With a clock in his tummy.

When I’m done surfing the net, go to sign off, and the voice on AOL says, "Good-bye" he'll come running from where ever he might be snoozing to sit on the carpet and demand (Yes--DEMAND) playtime. We have one of those toys resembling a fishing fly on a stick. I’ll swish that fly around and he’ll chase after it. He’s much quicker than the tub-of-lard appearance would lead you to believe and he can snatch that “fly” out of the air better than many major league outfielders. (His paws, however, are as out-sized as catchers' mitts.) That is, until he simply drops to the carpet and rolls on his back, all four paws in the air. He’s not playing dead, he’s just quit trying to jump and expects me to lower the fly down to where he can bat at it or grasp it between two paws.

Julie and Shadow have their little quirks and put in their two-cents worth but Chester is the feline equivalent of a dog.

Julie will start howling as soon as we go to bed and turn out the lights. That’s when she will gather one of her catnip-stuffed toys and demand we open the bedroom door and play. Of course, she only wants the door opened so she can scoot under the bed to emerge later and sleep on our pillows. She has no intention of playing fetch as she used to do when she was an only kitty. Now, when she brings us the toy during the day and then goes off to hide around the corner, she will not chase it when we toss it passed her nose. Oh no, we have to go get it and try to lure her into kittenish behavior. Not easy for a cat that’s approaching 7 years of age. Yet, every once in a while, she’ll toss here toy in the air and dash after it herself or she’ll suddenly chase after her own tail as though se were 7 weeks old again.

Shadow is normally the least visible of the three. As befits her name, you would be hard pressed to say there were three cats in the house most of the time. While Chester and Julie will demand human contact on a regular basis—climbing into your lap or draping themselves over your arm as you sit—Shadow goes off in the corner to a favorite cardboard box, or under the dining room table, or on the blanket atop the dryer in the laundry room. You wouldn’t know she was around until you go near the kitchen sink. Suddenly she’ll dart from her box or from under the table or you’ll hear a thud as she jumps down from her perch in the laundry room and she’ll be at your feet in seconds. You’ve come perilously close to the stash of kitty snacks and she wants some—NOW! And after that, maybe she’ll ask you to scratch behind her ear as she coquettishly tilts her head one way or another and gently meows her request. While the other two sleep during the day, she will follow me as I go down stairs and check out everything I'm doing. Usually standing atop a box or a pile of boards to demand some attention. Oh, you can pick her up and scratch her and she’ll purr enough to vibrate her entire being and you in the bargain, but sit on your lap? Surely you jest!

Yet Shadow can also be the most kittenish of the three. She'll play with a toy mouse for hours. She carries it around the house meowing all the while. She'll carry it to the water dish and drop it in as though she were a raccoon ant needs to wash her mouse before devouring it. She'll bat it around the floor taking special care to get it near the chair legs so she'll have to reach around to get at it. She'll take it to the corner at the bottom of the stairs and literally bounce it (and herself) off the two walls as though she were playing handball. When we first moved in, something in that corner cast shadows on the wall late in the afternoon and she would go nuts! Gymnasts never did so many twists, twirls, flips and dives as she did in that little corner. And she did that for two weeks. I thought she had totally lost it.

Julie is a lap cat. Chester will attach himself to your hip with his head on your arm or your lap. You may not even know when they arrived. Shadow…she may allow you to pet her if she so desires. And if she desires a petting or a scratching, she will let you know.

Please! Make it stop!

Screw water boarding. Move those prisoners to someplace like Rochester, New York or Erie, PA for the months of December through March. Cold, snowy, dreary, snowy, gray skies, snowy... Close enough to torture for me.

It's snowing--again--here at the Aerie. Not much (I hope) but enough to be annoying.

Yesterday we broke 50 degrees in lovely sunshine that held the promise of spring. Last night the winds shifted to the NNE to come off Lake Erie and we had a very light dusting of snow on the ground at 8 AM. The temperature is hovering around 32 degrees and there is a light snow falling. The weather quacks keep saying we are supposed to see some sunshine between the clouds this afternoon but it hasn't happened yet. Yesterday they predicted a lovely, albeit cooler, day for today. No mention of snow was made.

I'm Still a Guy

Dudley posted a version of this, but it was from someone's hand held at a live concert and you miss some of the words. I like this one better 'cause you can hear everything Paisley wrote, even if you miss the audience reactions. (It's a cover at someone's home studio, but still sounds great.)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Primaries! Bah! Humbug!

Iowa held caucuses for the Democratic nominee today. What? You thought they did all their stuff back in January? Nope. I tell ya this whole primary schtick is getting as complicated as the MLB, NFL, NHL and NBA playoffs.

First, damn few are eliminated right away. Even when they get only a couple of percentage points of the vote the erstwhile candidate will stay in the race for weeks upon weeks. Second, things have been see-sawing back and forth on the Democrat bracket more than the last two minutes of a close NBA game. You know the two minutes that go on and on and on… Third, Obama’s Preachergate has put him on the ropes losing 7 points overnight in the Rasmussen polls. (Just like when the Mets crashed and burned on their way to the playoffs last year.) Finally, even when it looks like there’s a winner, there may be some wildcards (super delegates) that come into play at the last minute and screw things up royally.

Why some group of allegedly intelligent persons should come up with the slap-dash pile of excrement such as the Democratic primary rules and methods of operation is beyond me.

Individual states (Michigan and Florida) break the rules and yet there’s still talk of letting them have a do over? Why? Oh, because if you don't, you'll have people talking about how you disenfranchised a whole bunch of people on your own side.

States have both primaries where individuals—read “registered voters”—pull the lever in secret to make a selection AND caucuses where they can be locked out of a room (so they can't make their voices heard); or locked into a room where they're herded into corners, cajoled and taunted in public by neighbors and strangers. Sometimes this happens on the same day (Texas) and some times weeks apart (Iowa). And this makes sense?

Going back to those registered voters for a moment. They don’t even have to be registered as Democrats to select the Democratic nominee. It’s called an “open primary.” Again, this makes sense?

Oh and this proportionality thing…just how does that work again? If you win a congressional district that voted for the Democratic candidate last time round, you get more delegates than if you win one where the Democratic nominee fared poorly back in 2004? Is that right? What the hell happened to everyone’s vote counting the same? You can win the entire state by hundreds of thousands of votes, win it 60% to 40%, but because they were not the right votes, you end up with just a couple more delegates than your opponent.

I take it back. The pro sports’ playoffs are easier to understand.

Virtually all the Republican primaries have been winner take all (win the state by one (1) vote and you get all the delegates) secret ballots of registered Republican voters. The way voting is supposed to be done. That’s why John McCain can sit back and watch the self destruction of the Democratic Party. It’s like getting a bye for the first two weeks of a three week playoff schedule. You know the one that eventually advances to face you will have had the tar knocked out of him/her. You just have to make sure not to come out tense and rusty, and give it you’re a-game when the time comes.

I’d like to see all the primaries scratched. Replace them with a national primary held in March. Make it a primary in which the top two or three go on (have to have received 25% or more of the votes cast to advance) to a run-off primary in June. And make the primaries closed affairs. If you’re picking a candidate for a particular party, then you need to be registered in advance for that party. If you can’t be bothered to register for a party in advance, tough shit, you don’t get to vote in the primary. Award the delegates on a winner take all scheme or, and I’m open to discuss this, upon one per congressional district and the winner of that district gets that delegate and two for the state to be awarded to the candidate that gets the most votes in the state.

The whole process needs to be streamlined and cleaned up.

Oh, and ditch the freakin’ super delegates. If it turns out they determine the selection (as they will) in Denver, there’s going to be hell to pay.

You don't say?

NOAA: Coolest Winter Since 2001 for U.S., Globe

Check out the precipitation map. NY experienced its wettest winter ever. Mark reports the snow is still waist deep in the woods behind the Bolt Hole. Thankfully there were some warm spells mixed in or…. And PA had its second wettest winter on record. Those storms rolling through every 3-4-5 days had a lot to do with it. Lots of rainy, snowy weather at the Aerie this winter, too.

Other parts of the country also reported record snowfall and they still have huge snow pack in the mountains out west.

Unintended Consequences

It was such a good idea. What could possibly go wrong?

Regulation 1774/2002 -- dates from the year 2002. At that time, the fear of BSE or mad cow disease was rampant in Europe and the EU issued a number of new directives to protect the population as much as possible from exposure to the epidemic. Scientists believe humans can contract the disease, in the form of the fatal Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), if they consume infected meat.

As part of these new regulations, it was decreed that dead cows, sheep, goats and horses would in the future need to be disposed of in a licensed animal disposal facilities.

Sounds pretty reasonable. Concern for human health and all that, led to clean disposal of dead beasties from the farm. But…

Up until that time, this had by no means been the usual practice, particularly in Mediterranean countries. Animals who died in remote mountain pastures or in far-flung highland valleys were either left where they were or were taken to designated carcass dumps. This was the case in Spain, for example, where such dumps are known as "muladares." Eagles, vultures, wolves and, in particular, brown bears used to look forward to finding carrion -- when it was still available.
For bears, the carcasses were particularly important. Before going into hibernation in the fall and even more so when they emerge in the spring, bears have great problems finding food.

So eagles, vultures, wolves and bears are getting short shrift. Big deal, I hear you say. Ah, but it is. You see, in most of Europe, these are endangered species and their getting more endangered every day.

Go on over to ready what’s happening: EU Carcass Laws Starve Europe's Scavengers

h/t to the Jungle Trader

Thursday, March 13, 2008


This is a rather old court decision that recently appeared at National Review Online.

Poster Mark R. Levin titles it “No Judge Ito”

A not so brief sample (be sure to read the rest, there’s more just like this):

Before proceeding further, the Court notes that this case involves two extremely likable lawyers, who have together delivered some of the most amateurish pleadings ever to cross the hallowed causeway into Galveston, an effort which leads the Court to surmise but one plausible explanation. Both attorneys have obviously entered into a secret pact — complete with hats, handshakes and cryptic words — to draft their pleadings entirely in crayon on the back sides of gravy-stained paper place mats, in the hope that the Court would be so charmed by their child-like efforts that their utter dearth of legal authorities in their briefing would go unnoticed. Whatever actually occurred, the Court is now faced with the daunting task of deciphering their submissions.

With Big Chief tablet readied, thick black pencil in hand, and a devil-may-care laugh in the face of death, life on the razor's edge sense of exhilaration, the Court begins.



After this remarkably long walk on a short legal pier, having received no useful guidance whatever from either party, the Court has endeavored, primarily based upon its affection for both counsel, but also out of its own sense of morbid curiosity, to resolve what it perceived to be the legal issue presented. Despite the waste of perfectly good crayon seen in both parties' briefing (and the inexplicable odor of wet dog emanating from such) the Court believes it has satisfactorily resolved this matter. Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.

At this juncture, Plaintiff retains, albeit seemingly to his befuddlement and/or consternation, a maritime law cause of action versus his alleged Jones Act employer, Defendant Unity Marine Corporation, Inc. However, it is well known around these parts that Unity Marine's lawyer is equally likable and has been writing crisply in ink since the second grade. Some old-timers even spin yarns of an ability to type. The Court cannot speak to the veracity of such loose talk, but out of caution, the Court suggests that Plaintiff's lovable counsel had best upgrade to a nice shiny No. 2 pencil or at least sharpen what's left of the stubs of his crayons for what remains of this heart-stopping, spine-tingling action.

In either case, the Court cautions Plaintiff's counsel not to run with a sharpened writing utensil in hand — he could put his eye out.

DONE this 26th day of June, 2001, at Galveston, Texas.

Be sure to go read the rest. Judge Kent did a great job in compolsing his decision and it is well worth the time to read. Just be warned that you may, nay, you WILL laugh at what he has written so put your beverages down before you go and click that link.

One hell of a party!

I’m going to guess that a sizable dosage of vodka was involved in this one.

Woman survives 100ft fall

A Russian woman walked away unhurt after falling from the ninth floor of a block of flats after clothes lines broke her fall.

Doctors said Ludmilla Adamova, 27, survived the 100ft plunge at the tower block in Kemerovo, in western Siberia, after she hit lines hung from the balconies of flats below.

The lines slowed her fall and wrapped her in a selection of blankets, warm coats and underwear that cushioned her fall as she hit the ground.

Ambulance man Yevgeny Nevzorov, who arrived with paramedics, said: "It seems that she was at a party in a flat and went on the balcony for a cigarette but slipped and fell.

"There wasn't a scratch on her. Witnesses said she just got up, dusted her self down and went back up to the party."

Via Ananova

Water may not hold a pistol up,
but ice will

What do you want to bet that these two geniuses are from south of the border?

The 23-year-old [Alejandro] Renteria had reportedly used a gun to threaten a 19-year-old man at the Pier Park skate park at about 5:45 p.m. Saturday.

When Grand Island police got the call and tried to track down Renteria described as wearing a black jacket with a fur collar a friend of Renteria's tried to toss the gun into Pier Park Lake. But the 22-caliber Ruger landed on the ice in the lake instead, Sgt. Jerry Atwell said.

The police quickly recovered the gun.

Probably didn’t realize it got that cold in Nebraska, but, hey, it was at the SKATE park, ya know. THAT should have given them a clue.

Renteria, 520 O'Neill Circle, was arrested for terroristic threats, use of a weapon, carrying a concealed weapon because he lacked a concealed carry permit, tampering with evidence for trying to dispose of the gun and for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, Atwell said.

Renteria's friend, Luis Jaime, 18, of Grand Island, was cited for possession of marijuana, carrying a concealed weapon and for menacing threats. All are misdemeanor violations.

Something tells me that when the cops stop laughing about this there might be more charges:

The violations were for arrest purposes only and have not been issued as formal charges from the Hall County attorney's office.