Friday, February 27, 2009

Now with more tasks!

Rained like the dickens during the middle of the day. They said it would start after midnight last night but I believe they thought it might be a little sooner than the 7 AM start we actually had. The temperatures did get up into the mid 40s but with the rain and a stiff breeze blowing it seemed much cooler than that.

I even felt chilled down in the workshop despite it reading 64 on the thermostat. As a result, I spent the minimum amount of time working on my project. I'm really getting close to the final steps as it is. I've got all the diamond shapes glued up and the four corner "flowers" are glued up and squared. The only pieces left to cut and rout are the walnut borders to the central star and the frame.

To answer a couple of comments about the project:

If you're a good little sister, I'll consider it. I might even make a different. better one if you're really, really nice--and get me a good birthday present. It is an important one coming up in September, you know.

The problem with this project is the quantity of geometry involved. The parts are so small and the number of joints/abutments so large that being off by 1/32 of an inch in one spot can--and does--multiply rapidly through the pattern. And it is ridiculously easy to be off by that little: if the saw blade isn't exactly perpendicular to the workpiece; or the 45 degree angle cut is really 44 or 46; put the glue on just a tiniest bit too thick....there are a myriad of errors to be made. That's why there are so many "adjustments" to be made as well. Even the plans must recognize this for they do not give dimensions for some of the pieces but tell you to make the final measurements yourself before cutting.

If I suffered any form of compulsive disorder, I'd be in the corner by now.

Instead of woodworking, I started another project: digitizing the thousands and thousands of 35mm slides I've got. I purchased a PlusTek 7200 dpi slide scanner earlier this week (Monday) from and it got delivered by UPS yesterday. I though, "That's bloody amazing speed on the delivery! Especially since I opted for the free delivery that's supposed to take 7-9 business days." Then I read the invoice and saw that the warehouse from which it was shipped is right here in PA: Lewisberry, which is just south of Harrisburg and about 2 hours from the Aerie.

(Yeah, driving north-south in PA is a 2 hour affair but east-west!?--ooh-boy that seems to take forever! Or at least it did when we were going home from a long vacation out west and were anxious to get back to Morristown, NJ. You get to the western line of PA and say, "Won't be long now! We'll be home in NJ in a blink!" And then the state seems to go into L-space. It just goes on and on and on. Yeah, I know it's just over 350 miles from end to end on I-80 but it seems like 3800.)

Anywho.... I first took all the game photos I had on my computer from the last six months of 2008 and put them onto three DVDs. That took me 1 and 1/2 hours. hey! There were a lot of pictures, okay? Once they were cleared off the hard drive, I started to scan slides. Very easy to use software and super results. I didn't use the 7200 dpi setting settling instead for the 2400 dpi pictures. They are still superb! A little fiddling with the settings and I could get great results from snow to green forest to people in the living room. (So far I'm kicking myself for not having many of the latter category. I seem to go in for wildlife and landscapes more than humans. But there are boxes and boxes of photographs too and they are mostly of family and friends.)

In about four hours of working I had scanned a couple hundred slides. At this rate, it cold take me several weeks to scan all of my collection. (Two 5-6 week trips to many national parks out west will really do a job on your photo collection! Then there was the circuit of the Great Lakes, the trip to Nova Scotia, Disney World, Williamsburg, and many, many more.)

So, between woodworking and slide scanning, I'll be busy for the next week or so.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Little of This, A Little of That.

Not much to report on here at the Aerie.

The same old birds continue to eat me out of house and home. Fifty pounds of black oil sunflower seeds and 15 pounds of niger thistle in two weeks? Give me a break, fellas! Okay, they had the help of as many as 14 gray squirrels and one or two red squirrels, but still.... I have noticed a few more Common Redpolls appearing for a free meal before heading north. They blend in pretty well with the Pine Siskins untill you notice their bright red beret and black goatee. There seems to be more American Goldfinches, too. They are just begining to show a little more yellow. I caught sight of one today that had one bright yellow epaulet. The other side was still an irridescent olive green.

I continue to work on and am making progress on my woodworking quilt square. Lots of little pieces of red oak and walnut are cut, routed, and sanded. Many of them are no glued together as well. The backboards to which they will all be attached has been cut and glued together for stability. (A little criss-crossing of the grains will keep the whole thing from warping and spitting those small pieces mentioned above all over the floor.) I've traced the pattern on to the backboard as well. I've got two or maybe three more sessions (three hours or so each) until everything is glued up. At least I survuved all the cutting and routing with out shortening any of my fingers or giving myself a power manicure. That wasn't easy considering some of the pieces are isocoles triangles (two equal sides) only 3/4 of an inch in height and others are diamonds with the smallest dimension of 3/4 inch.

Terry called to say she's having a good time with the rest of the SAGA Executive Board down in Savannah. She saidthey had a free day today and did some sightseeing. It was 72 degrees down there today. Tomorrow they get down to working on their agenda items.

Speaking of weather...It was a gorgeous day here at the Aerie. The temperature rose to a very nice 55 degrees and nearly all the snow has melted (again). The sun shone all day desoite a forecast for some morning showers. Perhaps AccuHunch will have better luck with tonight's predicted showers that are supposed to be heavier in the morning before they fade in late afternoon. Still supposed to get up to around 50, however, so even more snow (mostly in the plow/shovel piles) will disappear.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Woodworking 103 (3)

After I posted this morning's entry, I went down to the workshop to see what I had on hand that could be used to make the jig I needed to hold the thin slats in place while applying pressure from the edges. I happened to have some 1/4 inch carraige bolts, washers and nuts and lord knows I had enough scrap wood laying around so after chopping and ripping some 1-1/2 inch pieces to length and width, and drilling some 5/16 inch holes, I was in business.

Jig/clamp created to hold the slats flat.

I only tightened the nuts using finger pressure and used some wax paper on the jig to prevent the glue that would seep out of the joints from sticking to the wood of the jig. With one of these on each edge of the pieces, I could apply more than enough pressure from the edges to hold the slats firmly against one another.

Five slats held by the new jigs and clamped with the quick clamps.

It was too late to use on the assembly I put together yesterday but they seemed to have stuck together well enough to take to the table saw. There, I set things up to cut the assembly on a 45 degree angle into 7/8 inch wide diamond sections.

Yesterday's assembly cut into sections.

I was afraid that the individual pieces would come apart under the saw blade's attack but that only happened to the very first one and the very last. That may have been because I didn't use enough glue on the very end of the slat or because there was no way to clamp those ends. (Each slat was set back 7/8 of an inch from the previous one giving the ends a staggered, stair-like appearance as shown in the middle photo.) I managed to glue those loose diamonds back together without much difficulty.

Tomorrow, I'll have to cut the assembly that's in the glue-up jig in the same manner. Then the cut endges will get their corners trimmed with the 1/8 inch roundover bit in the router.

The final product, which I showed here (it's the top one), will be a 21 inch square that is designed to be hung on the wall. I suppose it could be turned into a table-top or even a center piece decoration but that would require some protective cover to keep liquids/dirt/food from getting into the indents and, if you want to put hot serving dishes on it, to prevent scorch marks on the oak and walnut.

Woodworking 103 (2) and Weather

Terry just left for Savannah, GA and her mid-year SAGA meeting of the executive board. She's driving down in her little yellow Aveo. Normally such a meeting is held in the home territory of the president (that would be Terry) but due to our somewhat remote location ("out in the boonies" some might say) and the winter weather conditions of north-central PA, they opted to hold their confab in Savanna where it will be a balmy 70 degrees later this week.

Meanwhile, it was back into the single digits on the thermometer here at the Aerie this morning. It was a mere 7 degrees at 7 AM with clouds scooting out of the north at a fair clip. Luckily that hasn't translated into much of a surface wind...yet. Could be worse. It's only around 3 degrees at one of the farms near the Bolt Hole. And, since it's usually colder at the BH, it's probably below zero there.

Yesterday morning's temperature was in the very low teens but rose all the way up to 23 degrees at 2 PM. And we had sunshine, too. Must not have been very warm sunshine, however. Plus the winds were blowing around 20 mph. Not exceptionally strong, but very, very steady and that made it feel a good deal colder when I went out to fill the bird feeders.

I picked up a 1/8 inch round over bit for the router. Of course, Arnot only carries the best brand (Freud) so it cost me. But, being carbide tipped, it should last me a long, long time.

I ran all the long slats through the router to round off the upper edges. and then laid them out to be glued up. That's when the fun started.

Most of my clamps are for lumber that's a little bit larger than 1/4 inch thick and 7/8 inch wide.

Take a large piece of corrugated cardboard (no more than 1/4 inch thick) and cut it into 1 inch wide strips. Now place five of these strips side to side and begin applying pressure to squeeze them together. They'll buckle upward in no time at all.

What I need is something of a two-way glue assembly jig. One that will keep everything nice and flat while I put pressure on the strips from the outer edge to get them to stick together. At the same time, I do not want to use an excess amount of glue because it will seep into the nice decorative groove created by the 1/8 inch round over bit.

I know exactly what the jig should look like--a little like a plant press only very narrow, but I do not recall ever having seen one before in the magazines or catalogs. I'll need four carriage bolts, washers, nuts (wing buts would be best) and four pieces of very straight and smooth hardwood....mmmm.

Be back later.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Woodworking 103

I started another one of my projects today. It's to be a quilt-like piece made out of wood. The wood used will be red oak and walnut. Strictly speaking it is not an intarsia piece but it does require many of the techniques involved. There will be many little pieces glued upon a backboard of birch plywood. These pieces, however are more geometric in shape: diamonds and triangles mostly. They will require lots of straight cuts that I can do on the table saw now that I've put a finishing blade on it.

I've got plans and wood for both of these projects (I think the one on the bottom is the one I started):

I ripped several pieces of 1/4 inch think oak and walnut into 7/8 inch wide strips as well as cutting a few other strips ranging in width up to 1-11/16 inches. That's as far as I go today because the next step involved using a 1/8 inch rounding over bit on the router table. That's when I discovered I lacked a particular bit. So tomorrow I'll be heading to Arnot's down in Mansfield to stimulate the economy a little.

The plans and wood came from here...or maybe it was here. They share warehouses so I don't think it matters too much from which I got my materials.

Craftsman Joiner parts

Remember that part I wanted to get at Sears? It's for my 6-1/4 inch joiner. I went to get a set of blades because I put a nick in the set on the machine when I ran some less than clean wood through it to create the legs for my workbench project. I said that the part I wanted was discontinued and no replacement was available. I was wrong.

When I went to the store i gave the clerk my model number and he looked it up on the computer. Neither of us was sure of the name of the part I wanted (can't locate the owner's manual...but I've got it somewhere safe!) so I looked over his shoulder and saw a part that looked like the one I needed. That was the mistake. We looked up that part: "Blade, wedge" and what I really wanted was the part above that which would be the blade itself.

The changed the design of the blades and there is a blade available at $33 each. I need three of them. I'm guessing that they incorporated the wedge into the blade some how. (I could also get the entire rotor assembly which includes the blade for $135.)


Obama aims to control 'exploding' deficits

This headline made my head ache this morning.

We've just seen the passage of a "stimulus" bill that will increase the deficit by at the least $750 Billion, GM and Chrysler come back to DC with their hands out asking for more, a plan for Billions of dollars to help deadbeat and or idiotic mortgage borrowers and their enablers in the banking industry, etc., etc, etc. all before the government budget is even discussed and NOW he wants to control/cut the deficit?

It's akin to an addict promising to control his/her drug use while not actually going into rehab or taking any steps to quit.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Old men can still think fast.

This just came over the transom from one of my Florida cousins. He send me a lot of BS but, occasionally there's a fertile seed that blossoms amidst all the manure.

An elderly man in North Carolina had owned a large farm for several years. He had a large pond in the back, fixed up nice; picnic tables, horseshoe courts, and some apple and peach trees. The pond was properly shaped and fixed up for swimming when it was built.

One evening the old farmer decided to go down to the pond, as he hadn't been there for a while and look it over. He grabbed a five gallon bucket to bring back some fruit.

As he neared the pond, he heard voices shouting and laughing with glee. As he came closer, he saw it was a bunch of young women skinny-dipping in his pond. He made the women aware of his presence and they all went to the deep end.

One of the women shouted to him, "We're not coming out until you leave!"

The old man frowned and replied, "I didn't come down here to watch you ladies swim naked or make you get out of the pond naked." Holding the bucket up he said, "I'm here to feed the alligator."

Moral: Old men can still think fast.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

American Goldfinch

We've also got some American Goldfinches mixed in with the huge crowd of Pine Siskins. Yesterday I noticed this little guy on the deck with the other birds. It took me a moment to realize what was wrong. Can you spot the problem?

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch


If you look carefully, you'll see that his right foot is curled into a ball. He can not spread it out. He hopped along fairly well and was able to grasp a seed from the deck and the tray, but I imagine he would have problems perching on a branch or even on a feeder.

More Deck Birds

On occasion I get lucky when a bird just happens to fly in front of the lens. Yesterday I was taking pictures of the Purple and House Finches on the tray feeder mounted on the deck rail when this White-breasted Nuthatch decided to ham it up for the camera. The nuthatches (both White-breasted and Red-breasted) as well as the Chickadees have the annoying habit of flitting into the feeder, snatching a seed and then disappearing into the woods before I can even focus on them. But some times...

White-breasted Nuthatch

Another bird that was fairly abundant around the feed yesterday ad even today during the snow, was the Dark-eyed Junco. These fellows don't perch on the feeders with perches but they love the tray feeders and the seeds that fall to the ground. They'll spend lots of energy scratching at the ground (or snow) to turn up a seed that someone else may have overlooked. The variety around here is the dapper looking slate colored junco.

Dark-eyed Junco

Wet Snow at the Aerie

We had a bit of wet snow over night that continued well on into the morning. This snow would have been perfect for building snowmen, if I had been so inclined. The total accumulation was just around 3 inches but that necessitated my doing some shoveling. Especially since the plow did the road and left a 6-8 inch high pile at the end of the driveway. I got my work out clearing the snow. It took two hours of constant movement and I was quite sweat soaked when I finished--one layer too many, I suppose.

The snow continued through out the entire time I was shoveling with only a few minutes here and there when it became sleet. The morning temperatures were a pretty constant 32-33 degrees. Around noon the sun finally broke through as the clouds were driven south by an ever strengthening wind. Of course, the wind, out of the north west, meant the temperatures were going to eventually head south as well. And they did. Between 4 PM and 5:30 PM the temperature dropped from 34 degrees to 18 degrees. The graph on my little digital thermometer looked just like a hockey stick! except the blade was pointed downward.

The wind continues to howl and the house is creaking under the strain. The trees sound like a freight train. The temperature continues to fall, too. At 7:30 PM it is now 15.4 degrees.


Bird Suspected to Be Extinct Photographed for First Time ... Then Eaten

The article ends with this quote:

"What if this was the last of its species?"

Well, if it was the last of its species it wouldn't really matter if it was eaten then, now would it? I mean it's not like there would be more of them from a breeding program or anything.

(h/t Hot Air)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bird Watching at the Aerie

I wasn't the only one watching the birds on the deck today.

Chester sits and watches and wishes.

Chester makes a funny little gutteral sound in his through as he stalks the birds on the deck. He doesn't do it when he's stalking Shadow or Julie (although they will growl at him when he does). The sound is rife with frustration! Sort of: "Let me at 'em. Let me at 'em! Pleeeeese, let me at 'em?!"

Northern Cardinal

Another bird that lends some color to the winter landscape is the Northern Cardinal. We've had several pairs coming to the feeder this winter with three males showing up to feed on the deck at the same time. They're usually a little more selfish than that when it comes to their own species.

Today we just had one male and one female feeding just as the snow was beginning to fall.

Male Northern Cardinal

Female Northern Cardinal

Obviously, the male is easily spotted against the dark green, gray and white of the winter woods. The female...not so much.


Ordinarily, finches are my least favorite bird. Most of them are merely shades of brown and gray that can get very confusing. Identification often depends upon the habitat in which they are located. When I began birding (and sometimes when I'm bored) I simply labeled a quickly spotted finch as a LBJ bird. That's a Little Brown Job.

The exceptions are the American Goldfinch--in its bright yellow summer plumage--and the House Finch and Purple Finch with their red plumage. The problem I've had with the latter two is that they are very,very similar. All winter we've had Purple Finches coming to the feeders and I've had to look them up in the guide books time and again just to be sure. You see, The HOUSE FINCH is supposed to be the commoner bird of the two but we've had very, very few of them around. I managed to snap a few really good pictures of the Purple Finches and sent them off to my friend Gary, web master at the Tiadaghton Audubon Society to have him confirm that yes, indeed they were Purple Finches.

Well, today I got a chance to make a side by side comparison of the two and get a picture of it as well.

House Finch (l.) and Purple Finch (r.) share a perch.

The House Finch is the one with the brown stripes on its flanks in the rear. The Purple Finch is the punk one with more red on its chest and reddish stripes on its flanks in the foreground.


Ennui (n): weariness and dissatisfaction with life that results from a loss of interest or sense of excitement (Encarta Dictionary)

Very little to report on from the Aerie. The weather has suffered a slide back toward winter with snow flurries much of the day and some heavier snow showers this afternoon. We had a bit of sleet thrown in for good measure. It's not done yet, either. The temperature will rise to around 34-35 at midnight and then the snow will be rain until the temperature drops in to the 20s tomorrow morning.

I've been staying in the house (going stir crazy) since Saturday. I did make one trip to the Sears store (I wanted to see about getting replacement blades for my Craftsman joiner--no go; it's a discontinued item) and to fill the Tundra's tank yesterday. Otherwise it's eat, sleep, read, and photograph the birds on the deck. I'll post some of the pictures as soon as I've processed them.

The Tiadaghton Audubon Society meeting scheduled for tonight was canceled due to the snow/ice conditions. Some of the hills and roads up and down them can be treacherous. Last Saturday evening there were half a dozen accidents on Rt 6 between Mansfield and Wellsboro when a light snow fall turned to ice. Most were larger vehicles that were undoubtedly driven by folks who thought a large 4 x 4 makes it impossible for them to slip on ice. There's a name for those sorts of drivers. They're called idiots.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


This just came over the transom from an older cousin living down in Florida:

A guy goes to the supermarket and notices an attractive woman waving at him.

She says hello.

He's rather taken back because he can't place where he knows her from. So he says, 'Do you know me?'

To which she replies, 'I think you're the father of one of my kids'

Now his mind travels back to the only time he has ever been unfaithful to his wife and says, 'Are you the stripper from the bachelor party that I made love to on the pool table with all my buddies watching while your partner whipped my butt with wet celery???'


She looks into his eyes and says calmly, 'No, I'm your son's teacher.'

Monday, February 16, 2009

More Unintended Consequences

Sunday Althouse asked:

Why can't I buy gas without ethanol in it?

Like Ms. Althouse, I've noticed the dramatic decrease in mpg as a result of burning a mixture of gasoline and ethanol. I've seen between a 10 and 20% reduction in my Tundra's mpg. (The exact decrease is variable and depends upon how much ethanol is in the mix. Since all the pumps say "up to 10%, it's tough to figure what you're going to get with each tankful.) At first I thought it was just due to the cold and use of the 4-wheel drive more frequently, but now.... I've also heard some horror stories about ethanol and gaskets. Not. Compatible.

Instead of getting 360 miles on a tank of fuel, I'm getting closer to 270-300 miles. That means I have to burn more fuel to cover the same distance. It would seem to me that if the goal of greenies was to find an alternative fuel, one that did not produce 20% more gases for the same distance traveled would be preferred.

Go on and read the comments at Althouse's post. No one is happy.

Today, Althouse asks:

But what if I don't want my car running on cheese?

Yeah, she's in Wisconsin but still.... I mean, is there nothing cheese can't do?

Wait a minute...

...wasn't one of the reason for not having more of the "stimulus" money go directly to the taxpayer the fear that the average Joe would merely use it to pay down his personal debt or sock it away in savings?

Va. budget shortfall increases, but federal stimulus will offset

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine says Virginia may not have to cut its budget any further, thanks to a rich uncle in Washington.

Kaine, in a noontime interview with reporters, said dollars to the state from President Barack Obama’s plan to jump-start the economy should more than offset a continuing decline in state revenue.

So it's okay if the states do it but not if the man in the street does it?

It's the Law...

...of Unintended Consequences, that is.

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Environmental protection of Sydney's beaches and harbor has created a cleaner marine environment, but is attracting sharks closer to shore chasing fish, say marine experts, after two shark attacks in two days.

Cleaner waters attract sharks

First it's gators in the southeast, cougars in California, then bears in New Jersey and wolves in Montana and Wyoming and now sharks.

There are times exploitation and pollution can be your friend. Take greenhouse gases. I'd rather have a bit more warmth than cold, thank you very much!

UPDATE: And Detroit's got an active beaver lodge in an intake canal at Detroit Edison's Conners Creek power plant on Detroit's east riverfront.

I blame the Canadians!

Crime does not pay!

Despite constant warnings to not leave the car running with keys in the ignition, some people never learn...

A man in Washington state made sure a pair of burglars didn't get away with his three flat-screen televisions — he moved their getaway car.

And he was the victim of the burglary!

He saw a white van sitting in front of his house with the motor running and the keys in the ignition, and he got in and drove it to a friend's house.

Police say the burglars left the televisions, a laptop computer and a jewelry box by the door and took off on foot.

As GuyK would say: BAAAWWAAAHHAAA!


Wondering why the cost of gasoline is going up while the price of oil quoted in the business news is going down?

Crude oil is getting cheaper — so why isn't gas?

Apples and oranges... The oil used for gasoline comes from somewhere over seas while that being quoted is a cleaner, US derived product--West Texas Crude--that used to be more expensive (and may be again). West Texas Crude has no distribution system to the refineries. And one can't be built on the speculation that the price will be too high by the time the pipes are finished.

Just askin'...

Why do we have to go to foreign news sources to find items like this:

Obama warned over ‘welfare spendathon’
The new administration's economic stimulus plan may undo reforms that cut the dole queues, critics say

RONALD REAGAN started it, Bill Clinton finished it and last week Barack Obama was accused of engineering its destruction. One of the few undisputed triumphs of American government of the past 20 years – the sweeping welfare reform programme that sent millions of dole claimants back to work – has been plunged into jeopardy by billions of dollars in state handouts included in the president’s controversial economic stimulus package.

Maybe it's because our journalists are suffering from tingleitis ala Chrissy Matthews.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Economics 101

I'm not an economist, but I bleive in my water that I could have written a better bill than the one trotted out from the House cloak room where I'm sure it was posted on a bulletin board with some title like: "Suggestions." It must have been there for several years as there certainly were an awful lot of them.

Let me first state that I believe that we did need to do something but that the package (as I understand the parts that have been revealed) that was voted on is the exact opposite of what we needed to do. First we needed to act responsibly and not willy-nilly. There is far too much pork in this baby aimed at social change rather than job creation. Some of the projects that would create jobs won’t do so for years because of the regulatory paper work that needs to be filed and hearings that need to be held to clear them. One method I've heard for testing spaghetti is to throw a single strand of the stuff at the wall. If it sticks, it's done and the rest can be served. This package is too much like throwing the whole pot of spaghetti at the wall to see what will stick. If it's not done it will fall off the wall. Even if it sticks, there's nothing left to serve and it'll all end up on the floor eventually. In short, it's a waste of money coming and going.

The quickest way to stimulate this economy would be to return taxpayer money to the taxpayer (not to those who didn’t pay any in the first place) so they can spend it as they see fit. If that includes a new car, carpeting for their home, a vacation, whatever, or just paying down their personal debt, so be it. How to return that money? Tax cuts. And don’t go dropping more people OFF the tax rolls for god’s sake! Over 40% don’t pay anything now. EVERY single person in the US should pay some federal tax. (Yeah, I know that everyone pays sales tax—at least in some states. But an awful lot of people are not stake holders in the good old US of A and yet they are permitted to cast a vote worth just as much as the guy paying a million dollars.)

(I read somewhere that the average taxpayer will get $13 a week through 2009 and $8 a week in 2010 in the form of a tax reduction. If gas prices go up again to the $4 per gallon, that might just cover the increase. Which brings us to...)

Another thing…. If I had an industry that was ready, willing and able to go to work tomorrow; that would put people to work at jobs of all skill levels; that would produce a product that could keep the cost of every other commodity made in this country down; that would pay the federal government and the individual states hundreds of millions in fees and a percentage of the raw product for the privilege of going to work; that could, at the same time, help wean our nation of foreign oil…well, if I had such an industry on the sidelines, I do believe I would want to get the hell out of their way. Instead, the Obama administration halted the process leasing the oil shales and sands in Utah and the off shore areas that were opened up last year when gasoline reached $4 a gallon. (Surely you remember that time. Democrats were running around saying we couldn’t do anything because it would take 10 years to bring that oil to the refineries. The same democrats, in many cases, who had halted the leasing of the off shore sites 10 years previously.)

Absolute idiocy. Pure and simple, That's all it can possibly be.

And there’s only 3 years, 48 weeks to go until January 20, 2013.

Are we to be the oysters?

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings."

Just a couple of thoughts that have been rattling around in my noggin this weekend.

We’ve seen Congress rush to get the super duper porkulous bill passed before anyone in either the House or Senate had a chance to read it--and some even bragged about that fact. Well, maybe not bragged so much as admitted that there was too little time to read the whole thing because, goldarn it!, some things have to be done right away! And that was followed by the President traveling back to Chicago for the weekend and putting off the actual signing of the damn thing until Tuesday in Denver.

So, what exactly was the big rush for? If I had to guess, I’d say it was because they really, really didn’t want the American taxpayer to read the f*ckin’ thing! If/when the American taxpayer gets to understanding what they’ve just been given as a “stimulus” they will be shitting bricks for years.

In both this current economic “crisis” and the Global Warming “crisis” we are constantly being told that if we don’t do something it will be the end of the world/life as we know it. This is something that puzzles me. Every moment of our existence can be described in much the same terms. Every decision we make changes our future to a certain extent. Every major decision can have huge consequences. When we are delivered from the womb and the doctor/nurse/midwife/policeman/etc. slaps our butt life will never be the same as we knew it. The first day of solid foods brings about another “life will never be the same” moment. As does the first day of school, the first job, the first kiss...well, you get the picture. Not all of those changes are bad. Some of them are unavoidable. (Puberty anyone? How about aging? If you can figure out a way to opt out of either of those without resorting to drastic measures, let me know.)

So it is with the economy. “We must do something!“ we are told. Why? Perhaps if we didn’t do anything things will get better on their own. (That’s what the Congressional Budget Office was saying last week before all the push came to shove.) Perhaps if our leaders (and I use the term loosely) would start looking at the glass as being remarkably full instead of bemoaning the loss of a teaspoon or two, there might be a more harmonious look to the future. To paraphrase the Dean of Faber College in Animal House, “Depressed, frightened and panicky is no way to go through life, son!”

And Climate Change…Is the climate changing? Sure. It does so all the time. Is man to blame…probably not on a global level. Today’s had reports crying that Climate Change is proceeding more rapidly than the IPCC reports projected. Or at least that’s what the headlines said. When you read the article, it turns out that it’s the amount of CO2 measured in the atmosphere that has grown more quickly than the one year old report anticipated. Should be warmer, right? So how come 2008 was cooler than 2007 and the Earth has been steady or cooling since 1998?
Why the push to “get something done before it’s too late”? Probably because the longer we delay the action that will cripple our economy even further, the more likely it is that people will catch on that the Global Warming “crisis” (having changed its name to “Climate Change” since that is more inclusive) is a hoax. Man has had little impact on the global climate and to think we can act to reverse a natural phenomenon is the height of hubris.

What do both of these “crises” have in common? In a word: Control. The powers that be want the power to control you and your life. They will manufacture one “crisis” after another with the sole aim of gathering more and more power a little at a time if need be until they have “enough.”

You may never notice the loss of freedom as they make moves to gather in the reins to take over your life. It will come in the form of billions of dollars to subsidize high speed trains heading into the cities (that they control) with little or no money for infrastructure in the outlying rural areas. Or in tax rebates for hybrid automobiles. Or subsidies for alternative fuels while pulling oil shale and off shore leases away from the oil companies. Or the “Fairness Doctrine” for talk radio but not, interestingly enough, television, movies or newspapers. “Card Check” for unions in the work place…Big Brother literally looking over your shoulder while you vote…what can go wrong!?

They will nickel and dime you to death and it will be a death of a thousand cuts and of pecks by a multitude ducks. Not one will be sufficient in and of itself to cripple but together they will mean the end of life as we know it.

"I weep for you," the Walrus said:
"I deeply sympathize."
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.

"O Oysters," said the Carpenter,
"You've had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?'
But answer came there none--
And this was scarcely odd, because
They'd eaten every one.

Quiet day at the Aerie

A very quiet day at the Aerie. It was a mere 16 degrees this morning with a fresh coat of white snow on the ground. It didn't last in most places as the temperature rose to 37 degrees with lots of sunshine this afternoon.

I happened to be looking out the window this morning when I saw the Sharp-shinned Hawk come swooping in for brunch. He spooked the heck out of the gray squirrels and the little birds but it didn't look like he was successful in snagging any little bird for his snack.

Then this afternoon I was coring an apple at the kitchen sink when I noticed a doe and a yearling (probably last year's fawn) standing across the yard staring at the house. They watched the house as I watched them for a good five minutes before the youngster headed up the hill and then the doe followed. Those are the first deer I've seen on the property since the beginning of December and the first day of rifle season.

Terry got phone calls today from her cousin in Sumter, SC and a friend on the southern end of Chesapeake Bay in VA (western shore across from Norfolk). She's firming up her plans for her trip to Savannah, GA (Smocking Arts Guild board meeting) and getting a time table together for her other visits as well. She'll be leaving here on either Monday or Tuesday of next week (2/23 or 2/24). It will depend upon the weather. And she won't be back until around the 10th of March.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Winterfest, 2009

So, I go out to Hills Creek State Park for the Winterfest sponsored by the PA DCNR and find I was correct. There was no snow anywhere except in the neat little windrows created when they plowed. The lake did have 10" of very solid and, I'm sure, hard ice. There were fishermen out there and even a few skaters. This boy-o stayed on shore. If I had been meant to walk on water, I would have run for President. Besides, three surgeries on the lower back and an aversion to sudden twisting movement and impacts with hard-as-concrete surfaces, makes me want to stand on things with much, much higher coefficients of friction than slick ice.

There was, of course, no skiing or sledding owing to the lack of snow, (I did see one youngster sledding down the grass slope and noticed his toboggan had a very slick undersides. Of course, if he had fallen off he would have gotten one heck of a rug burn from the frozen turf.) There were demonstrations on maple syrup making, a crafts table for the kids, a geocacheing activity with a small course to be run, ice fishing talks by one of the rangers, and birdwatching walks--which is why I was there.

We had quite a few members of the Tiagdaghton Audubon Society there to both lead the walk and participate in it. A DCNR ranger gave a talk on winter birds and bird feeding before we went on the trail with nearly 30 people. It's way too many for a successful bird walk. Experience tells me 5 to 8 maximum is what seems to work best vis-a-vis in group size. Larger and it's too noisy and some will never see the one bird back in the bush before it flies away. For me the ideal size is 2. I always want back-up when it comes to identifying that one difficult species you're sure to see. Anyway, like I said, 30 people is way too many.

We had little success in spotting birds in the cold and at mid day. Only three species can I confirm: Canada Goose, American Crow and Black-capped Chickadee. Even their numbers were pretty low. I'm sure the Chickadees came to see us out of curiosity as much as we were looking for them. The geese were flying overhead and their presence surprised me some as there was no really open water on the lake and the streams flowing in and out are quite narrow. The crows sounded and behaved like they were mobbing something in a pine/hemlock grove, but we couldn't spot what it might have been. Perhaps they were just getting things "understood" as regards to the nesting season approaching.

Oh, and DCNR had lots of free hot chocolate and hot dogs. Since the temperature maxed out at 32 degrees, the hot chocolate was welcome. And since the two bird walks were sandwiched around the noon hour, so were the hot dogs.

All in all it was a nice day and we did make some contacts with the DCNR folks as well as the people who went on the walks.

And it didn't start to snow until around 4 PM when I was back at the Aerie.

Speaking of back at the Aerie....I wasn't home for two minutes and had just taken off my coat when I spotted a Sharp-shinned Hawk as it swooped in and made an attempt to snare a meal at the bird feeders. I missed and went off to sit in the trees across the yard for half an hour before giving up and moving on. That makes both the Cooper's Hawk and now the Sharp-shinned hawk visitors to our feeding station. Hopefully the Sharpie will be back.

Speedy little devils!

Songbirds migrate faster than thought

Tiny little backpacks with geolocator units that used light to determine location. Traced the path of several species as they headed south to Brazil and then home again.

...the songbirds flew much quicker than expected — more than 311 miles (500 km) a day compared with previous estimates of 93 miles (150 km) per day. And the birds zipped back to North America in the spring about two to six times faster than the fall trip. For instance, one purple martin took 43 days to reach Brazil in the fall, but returned to its breeding colony in the spring in just 13 days.

I've done that on some vacations. You roam around for weeks and weeks until you decide it's time to go home and then it's deadhead all the way! We once did that from Estes Park in Colorado to Morristown, NJ after spending 5 weeks on the road. Made it back to NJ in 36 hours INCLUDING a 3 hour stop at Cabela's original store in Sydney, Nebraska.

But these birds have a bit more on the mind: SEX!
Stutchbury said the songbirds have more incentive in the spring to chug back to North America where they compete for the best real estate for snagging the highest quality mates.

In fact, the birds took lengthier rest stops during their fall journeys to wintering grounds. The purple martins stopped for three to four weeks in the Yucatan before continuing to Brazil. And four wood thrushes took a one- to two-week break in the southeastern United States in late October before crossing the Gulf of Mexico. Two of the wood thrushes (including one that stopped over in the southeastern United States) stopped on the Yucatan Peninsula for two to four weeks in the fall.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Winter returns in a small far.

The winds subsided over night and the temperatures continued to fall. This resulted in our seeing the first freezing temperatures since last Saturday night/Sunday morning which, in turn, meant the return of snow showers. There's a big wave of snow showers coming off Lakes Huron and Erie that have swept as far southeast as the Aerie. We've got only about a 1/4 inch of snow on the ground but showers will continue much of today resulting in a small additional accumulation. This will not be enough for skiing or even sledding at tomorrow's Winterfest but at least it will look and feel more like winter than it has the last few days.

We should get through the Presidents' Day weekend with out any serious weather but that may not be true later in the week. A BIG storm is cranking up off the Oregon/Washington coast and will slide across the country bringing snow to the plains and then the Ohio Valley by Thursday or so. How much it will bring to northern PA and New York state and how far south it will be snow versus rain seems to be the question.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Sometimes you can not make this stuff up...but it's obvious someone does.

Kim Jong-Il's birthday 'improves North Korean weather'

The Hawk is Howling!
Woodworking: Owl Birdhouse; and Resteraunt Review

Whoowee! The wind has been howling all day here at the Aerie. We had rain last night (although the severe thunderstorms traveled to the northwest of us) and then the wind kicked a little after midnight. We lost power for a short time (long enough to screw up the digital clocks) at 3 AM and again around 10 AM. The TV service went down separately around 11 AM. But then around 1 PM we lost everything for over an hour. Considering how strongly the wind is blowing I'm surprised there hasn't been more interruptions. The temperatures stayed in the mid 30s much of the day and, with the wind gusting up to 50 mph, it felt raw.

The wind upset the tray feeder that stands in the side yard tumbling a full 270 degrees. I didn't bother to set it upright again as the wind would have just knocked it over again. The hanging feeders were really rocking. One spilled its seed all over the ground when the top popped off. That meant more food for the squirrels as they seldom get to hang on that particular feeder and they can't reach it from any pole or tree. What the squirrels missed, the Pine Siskins worked hard to find.

I put together one of the Screech Owl birdhouses this morning between power outages. I used Richard's suggestion made in the comments yesterday to widen the hole into a more oval rather than circular configuration so the little owls can get their wings in and out more easily. I forgot to rough up/score the inside of the front leading up to the hole to make it easier for the little ones can get out, but a few minutes with the Dremel tool will fix that tomorrow. This is one huge birdhouse!

Terry and I went out to dinner at The Wren's Nest in Mansfield. We sorta treated one another for Valentine's Day. The place was pretty empty but there was a pair of women in one corner having dinner out because they had no power back home. (Terry and I would have done the opposite. If the power went out before we left, we were going to stay home.) Apparently they have Penn Elec service while we have Tri-County REC. Our cooperative is smaller in size, friendlier in demeanor and much, much better in service.

The dinner service was excellent and the meals we had were superb! We shared an appetizer of Clams Casino consisting of 6 very tasty clams topped with seasoned bread crumbs and crab stuffing. Terry had a bowl of Onion Soup au Gratin while I enjoyed a cup of Crab and Corn Chowder. Again both were very, very tasty. After a mixed green salad and an interlude of lime sorbet, Terry had baked Barramundi coated in a pecan breading with garlic mashed potatoes and string beans. I ordered the Cajun tuna (medium) with a rice pilaf and string beans. Both fish dishes were out of this world. The tuna had just enough kick to it due to the Cajun spices to tingle the tongue. We ended with tea (Terry) and coffee (me) to go with our Lemon Meringue Ice Cream Pie and Fruit Cobbler.

We thoroughly enjoyed our meal and will be looking forward to our next visit to The Wren's Nest.

Best of all, when we got home, the lights were still working.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Warm weather, Winterfest (?) and Birdhouses

For the third consecutive night the temperatures never dropped below freezing. It was supposed to on Sunday night but stopped falling at around 35 degrees. Last night is stayed in the 40s all night. Today it got up into the 50s for the third consecutive day. Virtually all the snow is gone from around the Aerie and we are supposed to get over half an inch of rain tonight and tomorrow. That should remove pretty much the rest of the snow except where it's piled high and packed into ice.

I'm beginning to wonder how they will have sledding and x-country skiing at the Winterfest to be held at Hills Creek State Park on Saturday. I asked a birding buddy of mine today if they were going to have iced tea instead of hot cholclate on hand. He said probably not but they may open the beach.

I applied one coat of boiled linseed oil to by birdhouses yesterday. The wood soaked it up so quickly I didn't need to wipe off any excess. I may even put a second coat on them tomorrow.

I also started to build two Screech Owl boxes. These are just much larger versions of the smaller birdhouses. The floor is 8" x 8" instead of 4" x 4 1/2" and the hole is 3 1/2" in diameter some 10" above the floor. To build these I'm still using the tongue-and-groove pine boards (this time the 1" x 6" version) but I've got to put two together to get the right width. They're coming out pretty good, if you ask me but they sure do chew up the boards! For these two bird houses, I'm using up three 14' long 1" x 6" boards. And I don't have half the number of clamps I need to glue all the boards together.

I might be able to finsih one of them tomorrow but due to the clamp issue it might take me until Friday to get the second finished.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Lovely day at the Aerie

The temperatures started in the 20-22 degree range as the full moon was setting in the west-northwest at 6:30 AM. (Thank you, Chester! I might have missed seeing that glorious moon if you hadn't howled at the bedroom door at 6 AM.) The sun stayed with us all day--as soon as it came over the hill anyway--and that meant the temperatures would rise ad rise and rise. It reached 48 degrees at 3:30 PM. But, as usually happens, the temperatures are falling again now that the sun has set. Luckily, a bank of clouds has moved in and should keep the heat from escaping.

We had a visit from the locksmith this morning to test our alarm system (and collect his annual fee). We seldom use the system because 1) we are seldom away from the Aerie for more than a few days 2) the cats, if we leave them on their own for those few days, would set the system off. Only when we are both away for more than three or four days as last fall when Terry went to Atlanta while I was at the Bolt Hole (I took the cats) or when we went to San Francisco in June for a wedding (the cats got boarded at the vets) do we turn the alarm system on.

We tested the system today to see if it would go off if it detected motion (yes, indeed! Loud bugger!), if it would detect a power outage (yes again), if the low temperature sensor would work (Yes) and if the low battery sensor would work (once again : yes). The system passed with flying colors. So if we are hope there is a warning siren and if we are not, the system will call us, our friends, and/or the police.

When the locksmith left I rounded up the junk mail and all the cardboard boxes we've accumulated since Christmas and went out and torched them all in the burn barrel. With nothing but the slightest breeze blowing and the woods still harboring a coating of snow, it seemed to be a good day for a little pyromania. The barrel (a 55-gallon drum with the top and bottom removed) is covered by 1/2 inch mesh hardware cloth so even if a piece of ash wants to escape, it has to be a small piece to succeed.

Lunch was sausages on a bun. Unlike C.M.O.T. Dibbler's, these were very good. (Actually, it was fresh kielbasi on a bun. No wonder they were good.)

Then it was off to the hardware store for some minor supplies (glue, L-screws, drywall screws and finishing nails) with which to build birdhouses.

From 1 to 4 in the afternoon I turned a lot of pine boards into birdhouses. I finished six houses to add to the five I did yesterday. All eleven await a meeting with boiled linseed oil. I thought I had some down stairs but I must have stored it in a "safe place." You know the one. It must be a secret Black Hole for anything put in that "safe place" disappears for ever. (Or at least until you buy an even more expensive replacement.)

Terry made stuffed peppers for dinner using some fresh salsa and ground venison. The peppers were huge so she cut them in half top to bottom and filled each half before baking them. We were good and only ate one and a half of the halves for dinner leaving yet another whole pepper for tomorrow's lunch. (I know it doesn't add up. She had half a pepper left from yesterday.) Tomorrow's dinner will be sausage and peppers.

I'll be spending tomorrow in the workshop again. First I'll check all the birdhouses to make sure there's no globs of glue hanging out of any seams. If there are, I'll be scraping and sanding. Then I'll spend time cleaning up as much of the saw dust as I can. I've already got one large garbage bag full and I'll be starting on another. I'm saving it to mulch around the garden in the spring but it may end up in the compost pile if I end up with too much. Once the workshop is considerably tidier than it currently is, I'll don some latex gloves, grab a brush and go to work applying linseed oil to the birdhouses. It shouldn't take me more than three hours or so if I can do one birdhouse every 15 minutes.

While I was working today, I did a little math and figured out I can do a complete birdhouse from one 60" long 1x6 pine board. Cutting it first into three different lengthed pieces, then ripping each of those into the different widths needed and then cuttting each of those into the two pieces each will yield. One becomes the top and back; one turns into the front and bottom; and one becomes the two sides. Drill five 1/4 inch holes (one in the back to hang from a tree and two in each side for ventelation). Drill one 1 1/2 hole in the front piece at least 6 inches from the bottom of the box to serve as an entrance. Pre drill all holes for screws and finishing nails. Hardware to complete the box includes nine 1 1/4 inch drywall screws, two 1 1/2 inch finishing nails, and one 1 1/4 inch L-screw. That and a little glue and voila! a birdhouse is born.

Bolt Hole Snow

I believe I've mentioned my Bolt Hole up in the Adirondacks. It's on the southwest corner of the AP and, while not technically in the "snow belt" coming off Lake Ontario, it gets quite a bit of snow every winter. I haven't been back up since before Thanksgiving. Every time I think about going up, something (usually the weather) works against my heading north.

My buddy Mark lives a good deal closer than my 240 miles and has been making several "drive-bys" to check on my place and to shovel the snow off his roof across the street. (The snow on my place doesn't have to be shoveled because, being in the open a little more than his, the snow either gets blown off or melts enough to slide off the metal roofs.)

Mark was up there this weekend and sent me several dozen pictures of the snow around our cabins and of the area that has been cleared by...well, someone. He's wasn't sure who had done the work since the fellow who did it last year wasn't working in the area this year. But Mark reports that he has found our mystery snow person and spoken to them and they have been satisfied with a cord or so of firewood. Call it a barter economy at work.

The pictures Mark sent were taken in the evening using one of his Stealth Cams. He wanted to test them out since they had been sitting in the cabin for a couple of weeks. He pulled them from the woods when the deer finally came to their senses and headed for places that weren't as snow covered. The time stamp is accurate but the temperature sensor is messed up. At the time it was about 30 degrees. The photos aren't of the best quality. The flash is only supposed to work out to 45 feet or so.

Here's a shot of the front door to the Bolt Hole. The pile of snow is from the roof and drifting. There's usually a three (3) step set of stairs to get UP to the door. It looks like it might be two steps DOWN to get into the cabin. That's about normal at this time of year.

The mystery snow person cleared not only a driveway to the front door but a huge area to the garage and the barn. (Probably because the barn is where some of the firewood is stored!)

There's a small stack of seasoned birch to the right of the barn. It's over there on the other side of the snow mountain. Another 8 face cords or so of mixed cherry, red maple and birch are stacked inside the barn. I built the barn to keep the snow off the roof of the travel trailer. The garage is out of the frame to the left.

There have been several freezes and thaws in the last three months, although itstarted snowing back in November and hasn't really stopped. Each (brief) period of thaw or stray rain/ice shower has built a compact layer on top of fluffy snow. The result is a series of strata that look like rock layers in the Grand Canyon.

The snow at the edge of the cut, where you can see the layering, is about 36" deep. The snow in the "mountain" beyond is probably over 5 feet deep.

I haven't included any photos from Mark's yard. His cabin is very low slung and the rain gutter and eaves on the western side--the side closest to the parking area--are just about seven feet above ground. His roof has also got a very shallow pitch to it and that requires he shovel the snow off on a frequent basis. Between the shoveling of snow off the roof and the moving of snow from the parking area, the piles of snow in the front of his cabin are...well, let's just say that he now has to throw the snow UP to get it off the roof. And the eastern side, while not plowed or blown is somewhat worse in that the eave is only 4 to 5 feet off the ground. If he rigged a T-bar to the peak of his roof, he could get up their with ease. And then ski down. As it is he does not need a ladder to get on to the roof. But if we have any more snow he may need one to get over the mounds in front of his cabin.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Weather, Woodworking, and Birdhouses.

Interesting day today in that our high temperature was just after midnight (45 degrees) and, despite a sunny day, the temperature fell all day. At 7 PM it had fallen to 30 degrees and it's sure to go lower tonight as there's not a cloud in the sky.

All the warmth and sunshine of the last couple of days has caused most of the snow and ice on the driveway and open fields to melt away. There's still some snow where it's been piled up from plow, thrower, shovel and wind which makes for an interesting view from the Aerie. Where the fields--mostly pasture and hay fields--are normally bordered by trees and hedgerows, drifted snow also remains so each field looks like a picture with a matted frame. In the center you've got the brown/green/gold of the field surrounded by an edge of white, drifted snow and finally the frame of the hedgerow.

Anyway, we are supposed to be quite cold tonight but then we're in for a nice beginning to a week of warm days then cold days and then...snowy days? I'm not sure there's a meteorological consensus on what the weather will be like after Monday. AccuHunch and are in conflict as of this afternoon. That's okay. I'm not going anywhere until next Saturday's winter fitness festival at Hills Creek State Park. I hope they've got some snow left for the cross-country skiing and sledding they're supposed to have. From what I can see from the Aerie, I would have to say that that is doubtful at the moment.

I spent three hours this afternoon in the workshop cutting up some wood and banging together five birdhouses to donate as a fund raiser to the Tiadaghton Audubon Society. Very simple plans that work for wrens (what doesn't work for a wren?!), blue bird, chickadee, and many other small cavity nesters. I'll probably do another six or seven tomorrow. Now that I've got the process down pat, cutting all the boards and drilling all the holes is assembly line work. I'll make one minor change, however. The plans called for 1 1/4 inch finishing nails and that's what I used--along with some exterior glue. I think I used 1 1/4 inch dry wall screws last year and they (along with the glue) add a great deal more stability to the bird house. Once I get a dozen birdhouses done for TAS, I'll make a few more for me.

Two of the five birdhouses I put together today.

The hole is 1 1/2 inches in diameter. The front height is nine inches and the front panel swings out for cleaning and is scored on the inside to help baby birds climb up to the hole. The rear board is 13 inches high while the back of the chamber is around 10 1/2 inches. The base is 4 inches by 4 1/2 inches. It was cut out of white pine and put together using finishing nails and glue.

Once they're all put together, it will be time to wipe on some boiled linseed oil. This gives the wood a golden glow while protecting against the sun and water damage pine would normally suffer. The houses I hung up outside last spring still look like they just came out of the shop.

I put up three within sight of the deck. One was occupied by a wren last summer and a second, near the used box, was filled with twigs by the same wren so as to discourage any neighbors. (I built three other bird houses of nearly the same design and donated them to TAS. All three sold at the Wellsboro street fair in June.)

What he said...

Victor Davis Hanson seems to hit all the points in this piece:

Our Brave New World

Saturday, February 07, 2009


Another reason I'm not watching TV is some of the annoying commercials.

No, I'm not talking about the Sham Wow guy or the Progressive Insurance chick or even the Aflac duck. Although, they are pretty damn annoying.

No, the ones that really bug me lately are the ones for "male enhancement" and "erectile disfunction" and such. How the bloody blue blazes did folks get through life in the past without these products? And don't tell me "oysters". What does it say about a society when this becomes a major medical break through to be trumpeted on the aptly named boob tube every afternoon and evening?

Another commercial that has real raised my hackles is the one geared to reducing income tax payments to the IRS. You've probably seen it. "We owed the IRS $20,000 but only had to pay $5,000." And the couple standing in front of their opulent home that says, "We owed $3 million but only had to pay...." I don't know what they had to pay because I've usually found the remote by then and switched channels or, at least, hit the mute button. If there's anyone I have absolutely no sympathy for right now it's the person who has found a way to not pay his or her share of income taxes. Now, if there was a mistake in the filing, fine. You recover what you can. But if the book keeping is correct and you owe a certain amount...then pay it. And if someone owes millions then what, exactly, was their gross income? And what did they do with it instead of paying their taxes? Whenever I see that particular commercial I just want to squeeze the living sh*t out of those people. What I would like to do to whoever is running the ads to help people avoid their taxes I can not write about. Just in case.

No TV for me!

I've stopped watching TV. With the football season ended there's not much I want to watch anyway. You can only watch so many episodes of "The Deadliest Catch" or "Axe Men" any way. I was getting very, very jealous of the folks on the Outdoor Channel. I mean some of those deer they've killed look like they were on 'roids for years! There's Michael Waddell and the Bone Collector crew and Jim Shockey's Hunting Adventures and others who are out here living a dream. And just how do a young couple like Lee and Tiffany Lakosky (and here) make enough money hunting full time to, well, hunt all the time? I don't want to watch...I want to BE these guys.

As for "24",the only show I watched regularly last year, well, as soon as I heard that Garifolo was going to be a regular(?) I kinda lost interest. Good thing, too, as The One has preempted the show a couple times already.

See that's a problem. If I'm watching TV, I'm usually channel surfing during the commercials. If I hit the wrong button at the wrong time I could end up seeing The One or one of his sycophants like Chrissy Matthews or Keith Olbermann. And that could cost me a TV. Luckily, the cable system I'm tied into has nearly all the news channels at the high end of the numbers so it's unlikely that I would accidentally stumble upon MSNBC or CNN. Even Fox News is not on the beaten path (i.e. between Outdoor Channel and ESPN and ESPN2).

So I sit and read (I'm going through the entire Terry Prachett library--or at least the Discworld portion there of. (Quite the distinguished looking author is Sir Terrance. Handsome devil.) I'm up to Maskerade right now) do crossword puzzles (from books as I don't buy the newspapers) and surf the internet.

At least that's what I'm doing when I'm not in the workshop. I've got a couple of projects lined up. There's some bird houses to make and a few Christmas presents to start on. (Intarsia can take awhile.)


Another glorious day at the Aerie with the sun shining and the temperature reaching 45 degrees. What?

Why am I giving another weather report?

There's no football, no baseball, I don't like/follow hockey, Rutgers basketball (men and women) is terrible. The hunting season is over. The fishing season has yet to begin. (I like ice fishing as much as I do hockey.) The birds in the yard have been the same ones for the past month. There's too much snow on the bike trails to do much birding or riding. And it's not yet time to plant a garden or work outdoors.

That leaves only food, sex, and politics. I'm not going to talk about sex. Terry's been doing all the cooking. So that brings us to politics and, damn it!, that raises my blood pressure too high.

Suffice to say I am not pleased with my "Republican" Senator, Arlen Specter. Unless he turns around in the next 48-72 hours and realizes what a huge mistake he has made and votes against the "Stimulus" bill under consideration.... I've already emailed his office several times to express my disappointment and suggest he might as well put a "D" after his name. I tried calling several of the contact numbers for his offices through out the state and in Washington but could only hold a phone to my ear so long as the busy signals buzzed on and on and on....

Being pro-life and pro-guns are good positions to have but his understanding of Economics 101 and Immigration (he signed on to the Amnesty plan Bush and McCain were pushing) plus his deafness to his constituency on matters such as these are going to come back and bite him on the ass in 2010 IF he plans to run again.

And what the hell is in the water up in Maine? Snowe and Collins both are allegedly Republicans and yet they sign on to this Crap Sandwich?

I just may have to begin using the GuyK Investment Plan.

Well, the explanations being offered are about as lucid as this piece and don't sound nearly as pretty when read aloud:

by Lewis Carroll

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand;
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

"And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
He chortled in his joy.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.


Friday, February 06, 2009

Yet one more nice day

The day was nice but the eve before was a b*tch. Nasal congestion, aching lower back, tossing and turning and then a premature cat alarm goes off at 5:45 AM. I wish we had never gotten them in the habit of being fed first thing in the morning. But Julie came into the house when we were still working and heading out the door at 6 AM and we just continued with the schedule when Shadow and Chester joined the pride.

Much warmer today than yesterday. (Someone must have gotten the memo about Global Warming.)

It was 12 degrees when I got out of bed at 6 AM (bad night...don't ask) and rose to 33 degrees under a bright sun late in the afternoon. I got out to the wood pile at 12:30 and spent an hour splitting some logs even though it looks like I won't really need them for a week as AccuHunch says we're in for some warming. Might get into the 40s for a couple of days. Of course they also say it's going to rain for the weekend....

Terry's concerned because one of the AccuHunch meteorologists, Joe Bastardi (now there's a name for a guy in a profession that gets cursed frequently!), says there will be several weeks of very stormy winter weather between Valentine's Day and the Ides of March. She's supposed to drive down to Savannah, GA on the 24th and will head to Columbia, SC on March 1st and then turn for home on the 6th. She wants to take her little yellow Aveo but that thing doesn't travel well in snow. Bastardi says the storms will be mostly between I-80 (just south of us) and I-70 (approximately Washington, DC). I told her not to worry. These guys can't predict tomorrow let alone the next month.

Yep, it's just like that.

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Redneck Artist

I got this in an email from my wife's cousin and my buddy, Joe. (It wasn't 'til later I learned it's been around YouTube for a long time.) Despite living and working in New Jersey all his life, Joe is more a country kinda guy. Hunting, fishing and anything outdoors are his passion. He's sorta a urban redneck.

Another beautiful day at the Aerie
But cold...very cold

Another bright sunny day here at the Aerie. But it was colder than a well diggers'....

This morning's low was exactly 0.0 degrees and this afternoon warmed up to 17.2 degrees. It was both colder and warmer down in the valley but not by much. Where ever they have the station located, the low and high were 7 and 21 degrees, respectively. The average high for that location on this date is 33 degrees.

You may have heard that Buffalo State College hosted the national teach-in on Global Warming Situations today. It was minus six degrees (-6) at 6 AM.

No to worry, it will warm up this weekend to around 40 degrees.

And Watts Up With That? reported that the RSS global temperature anomaly made a significant jump upward for January. That's supposed to mean the Earth was warmer. Maybe when you take the entire Earth into account it was--but not here!

Tomorrow I'll have to do some work on the wood pile. The stuff I had moved into the garage is currently in the fireplace and there are some rounds outside that need splitting. If I wait until just after noon, the sun will be shining on the area and I can actually get warm from doing the physical labor even if it is only supposed to be in the 20s.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Lovely day today... of the Top 10 for February.

(Yeah, I know it's only the 3rd and that there's less competition for a position on the Top 10 list what with there only being 28 days in the month.... Point is, it was a damn fine day today!)

If you've been following my weather reports for the Aerie for the last week or so, you will recall that last Friday or so we started to get warnings about a possible storm to reach the area on Tuesday (that's today). AccuWeather had three computer models--call them A, B, and C. All the models called for the storm to form off the Gulf Coast of Florida and then head northward. Model A predicted the storm center would head up toward the junctions of Lakes Erie and Huron. Model B said the storm would take aim at Harrisburg and then Syracuse. Model C said it would skirt up the Atlantic coast line.

The prognosticators at AccuHunch said A and C were unlikely and that B was probably the best bet.

Well, if they did in fact place any bets, they lost their shirts today. True, the storm did not follow Models A or C either. In fact, the storm was further out to sea than they thought it would be.

Today's Aerie Weather was absolutely gorgeous! We did not get the inch of snow forecast for yesterday, nor the inch of snow forecast for last night. What we got was a bit of freezing fog over night that left the trees sheathed in crystalline magic when the sun came over the mountain. Then, when the ice and the clouds burned away, we had sunshine all day with temperatures rising to the mid-30s.

A glance at the interactive radar map at 4 PM showed some snow coming off the Great Lakes to our west (mostly from Huron and Michigan since Erie is pretty well frozen). This snow was headed south. Then there was some snow on the east coast including New Jersey, NYC, Rhode Island, and Cape Cod. This snow was headed north. Here at the Aerie? The sun was shining and there wasn't much breeze blowing at all.

They (AccuHunch and are forecasting snow showers for the remainder of the week with high temperatures in the low 20s and low temperatures in the single digits. Then we swing back up over the weekend with possible 40s and some rain.

I don't know if I should believe a word they say or if I should go outside and hang a weather rock. (You know the one: If it's wet it's raining, If it's white it's snowing. If it's missing it's windy. Etc.) The rock may be most accurate.

NFL Fantasy Files:

Wow! Just wow!

This is about right...

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals least when they are awake.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Woodworking 102

Having seen Phil's forecast for more winter, I shuffled off to the workshop to do a little fixing up of the joint.

I mentioned previously that there were three exposed stud walls that I felt needed attention. One was the back of the basement bathroom and the fiberglass shower surround was exposed. Another was the short wall for the utility room. It wasn't in much danger of being damaged as the inside of the utility room was sheathed in plywood but it was a tad unsightly. The third was the wall that formed the stairwell from the first floor. It was sheathed in sheetrock and could easily suffer damage should I lean a 2 x 4 against it or make a quick move with any piece of lumber. Besides, the back side of the sheetrock is black and dark gray sucks the light right out of the workshop.

I actually started on Saturday to put up a tongue and groove wall on the studs behind the bathroom and nearly finished that job before taking Sunday off. It took just a few minutes to cut the last two rows to fit around the drain pipes from the upstairs baths and install them to finish the wall this morning.

The bathroom wall. Several courses of T & G had to be shaped to fit the pipes.
The light wood is a big improvement over the dark black
of the rear of the shower and the sheetrock.

Then it was on to the very rectangular utility room wall. This was the easiest of all since it was a rectangle and every piece of T & G was exactly the same length. I only had one electrical outlet and the thermostat to worry about. A couple of drilled holes and some work with the jigsaw and I was in like Flynn.

The utility room wall (center) was nice and rectangular,
which made installation a snap.

The stairway wall was a bit trickier because of the angle required on one end. (I wanted to leave the area under the stairs open. If I had enclosed them to make a closet or storage area, the job would have been as easy as the utility room wall.) Even so, it took very little time to get everything cut and installed. The angle required was a 45 degree one and that made using the chop saw and its fixed stops much easier than some random angle might have.

The stair wall had to have a 45 degree angle cut on one end.
The top two rows were installed after the picture was taken.
You can see the difference the light wood makes versus
the dark, dark backside of the sheetrock.

I can already see the difference in the amount of light in the workshop and the walls aren't even finished. If I paint them with a white enamel or simply verathane them, the amount of light reflected off the walls will make the room considerably less dungeon-like. I still need to get some dust control machinery for in there. Something to collect the sawdust at the tools and an air filter to help me breathe a little more comfortably when I'm working.

Phil is full of it!

Okay, so Phil saw his shadow this morning and heading on back to his borrow for another six weeks of winter, the big sissy! Who needs him to tell us when spring will arrive anyway. We've got Major League Baseball to tell us that! (Can't trust NHL hockey or NBA basketball any more. Hell, they're still doing their playoff thing in JUNE for crying out loud.)

Let's take a look at the Mets' schedule. Yeah, pitchers and catchers report in about 10 days and that starts SPRING training, but the first official game isn't until April 6th in Cincinnati. And they don't have a home opener in the new Citi Field until a week later. April 6 is NINE freakin' weeks away!

Okay, okay. How about fishing season (and none of that ice fishing stuff unless it's for ice in a glass of Scotch)? Let's see....New York State always starts its trout season on April 1 come hell or high water, although there's more frequently a blizzard or two lurking in the wings. That's still EIGHT weeks away. What about Pennsylvania? Shoot, the trout season up here in the Northern Tier doesn't open until April 18...10 and 1/2 weeks from now. (It does start two weeks earlier in some southeast counties.)

Shoot, Phil's phorecast is starting to sound pretty good.

Pittsburgh 27-Arizona 23

It was a game marred by many, many penalties (not bad calls, mind you, bad play--especially on Arizona's part) but it had one hell of a finish!

When Fitzgerald made the TD catch and run to put the Cardinals ahead 23-20 my immediate reaction was to tell Terry that they (the Cardinals) had scored too quickly and left too much time on the clock. Indeed, 2:36 was more than enough time for Pittsburgh to march the field and regain the lead and the win.

Congratulations to the Steelers who now have won six (6) Super Bowls out of the 43 played.

Now to get through the next two weeks until pitchers and catchers report for spring training.

Damn! Damn! Damn!

It appears the AccuHunch folks got it wrong when they said we would have sunshine today. While the temperature did hover around the 32 degree mark as a low over night and shows signs of rising slightly today, the sky is a blanket of gray.

That didn't stop that overgrown rat in Punxsutawney, Pa. from spotting his freakin' shadow this morning, however, damn him!

The world's most famous groundhog saw his shadow Monday morning, predicting this already long winter will last for six more weeks.

Punxsutawney Phil emerged just after dawn in front of an estimated 13,000 witnesses, many dressed in black-and-gold to celebrate the Pittsburgh Steelers' Super Bowl victory the night before.

Probably just hungover from last night's celebrations.

Meanwhile the radio forecast says about 1 inch today, 1 inch tonight and they just say "snow" for tomorrow.

Even the Dark-eyed Juncos (a.k.a. "Snow Birds") have apparently tired of this snow cycle we've been having. Their numbers have thinned as those of the Pine Siskins (down from the aboreal forests for the season) have grown.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Sunny super Sunday

The wind here shifted around to come out of the south yesterday afternoon and the temperature started to rise. It was just 13 degrees at sundown, 29 at sun rise and got up to 45 at 4 PM. And we had a lot of sun today. A lot of sun.

Monday is supposed to be warmer than usual as well but Tuesday.... Tuesday is a cipher. Precipitation (snow) may or may not arrive. And if we do get snow, they are hedging their bets as to the amount although they have dropped our area out of the 6-10 range and back to 3-6 or 1-3. (The AccuHunch folks are always so precise.) But the temperature will definitely fall back into the 20s. Current maps show that the storm will move to the northeast while maintaining a position off the coast. The counterclockwise circulation will push moisture inland while cold air from Canada will move in from the northwest. How far off shore, how swiftly the center moves northeast, how far it can push moisture inland.... Like I said--a cipher.

Until then, however, I'll really enjoy a second beautiful sunny day tomorrow.