Sunday, January 31, 2010

Why bother?

Why have a freakin' show trial if...

"Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is going to meet justice and he's going to meet his maker," said President Barack Obama's press secretary, Robert Gibbs. "He will be brought to justice and he's likely to be executed for the heinous crimes that he committed in killing and masterminding the killing of 3,000 Americans. That you can be sure of."

What is to be gained from going forth with a silly show trial if the Justice Department and the President have already determined the outcome?

Stand the bastard up against a wall. Give him a cigarette and then let him hear these three words: "Ready. Aim. Fire!"

And, since the new Obama budget has an item for $200 million to help cities defray the cost of security for these show trials, VIOLA! You've just saved $200 million for the cost of a few rounds of ammunition. (Hell. You could probably raffle off slots on the firing squad and make money on that, too!)


Now he's even bowing to the Mayor of Tampa, Florida?

"U.S. President Barack Obama bows to Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio at MacDill Air Force Base on Thursday" (Click the link to see the photo.)

1- She's a woman and he's probably used to bowing down to his wife.
2- She's of Oriental heritage.

BUT She' is NOT the freakin' Empress of Japan!


Somebody get this guy either a spine or a back brace, for crying out loud! He keeps flopping over.

(h/t commentor David at Don Surber's).


We vote 3-1 against... visit.
moar funny pictures

And Crazy Charlie thought they meant military vets.

Aerie Report, January 31, 2010
Plus: Good Eats

Dang! Got down to 0.1 degree last night under a cloudless sky and one very bright moon. (Full moon was last Friday. The ice Bringer Moon, threecollie of Northview Dairy reminds us.) Of course, the temperature sensor is mounted on the covered porch post just 8 feet from the house so it probably got below zero a short distance out into the yard. I should move that sensor but it's in a shaded area and without building a cover for it, there's no other spot that's out of the sunlight all day long.

Speaking of sunlight, we did get up to just over 20 degrees for about 10 seconds yesterday afternoon around 3 PM.


Terry and I went down to the Mansfield Fire Hall this morning for a pancake breakfast. The event was sponsored by the local Boy Scout Troop. Pancakes, French toast, ham, bacon, eggs, biscuits and gravy, coffee, juice, milk.... Man what a feast!

I try to patronize most anything sponsored by the Scouts or the volunteer fire company. Good people all around.

When you add the weekly Friday evening church sponsored dinners to the various breakfasts, fish and game club dinners, VFW barbecue lunches, etc. you could probably eat out twice a week with various organizations within a short drive of here and eat your fill for $7 to $10 or less in support of a good cause.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

New Visitors at the Aerie

We had two Eastern Blue Birds on the power lines this morning. This is a first for the Aerie. We've seen them down the hill a few times in the spring and summer months. This pair disappeared before I could get the camera out. I'm guessing they were flocking with the Goldfinches and merely followed them when they headed for the feeders. They did not look happy with the temperatures or my food offerings.

Aerie: Cold!
But it could be worse.

Just 1 degree this morning at 7 AM. Could be a lot worse. There's a snow and ice storm raging across the south. Started in the Oklahoma area and pretty much followed the borderlands of Missouri/Arkansas, Kentucky/Tennessee, and Virginia/Carolina as it headed for the Atlantic. Up to a foot of snow in some of the mountain areas and 1/2 inch of ice on the southern edge. The northern edge is bringing some light snow to Philadelphia and southern New Jersey. Our cold, cold air is keeping it there. Looking at the windmills, I can see that what wind there is (and there isn't much) is coming out of the due North.

And it is around minus 12 (that's -12) up at the Bolt Hole. That's up from an overnight low of around minus 15.

What? It's going to be colder tonight? Oh goody!

Friday, January 29, 2010

We are so screwed!

Fact-Checking the President in Baltimore

That means that over twelve years of Republican rule, there was an average annual budget deficit of about $104 billion. Compare that with an average annual deficit since 2008 of $1.074 trillion — or about $90 billion per month.

Aerie Report, January 29, 2010

Just 3.6 degrees this morning when we got out of bed at 7 AM. But it did warm up. All the way to 16 degrees. It's supposed to be colder tonight. it's already down to 7.5 degrees at 8:30 PM.

The wind continues to come out of the NNW but it isn't howling like it was yesterday. Like a long distance runner, it was fast and furious out of the blocks but has now settled in for the long haul at a more moderate pace. (That's from observation only. I have never been and will never be a long distance runner! I mean, seriously. Have you ever looked at the faces of joggers, for crying out loud? Ever see one smiling? They all look like they are about to die.)

We did get some sunshine today. Mixed in with a few, brief snow squalls. I lit a fire in the fireplace this morning and the cats and I have been enjoying the warmth.

Terry did run down to Williamsport to pick up something from the stitchery shop. I had to bribe her to stop at Mr. Stickies on the way home, but she did and got half-a-dozen of the regular stickie buns. (Yo! I'm building up for Fat Tuesday. Only two and a half weeks before Lent.)


Speaking of Tuesdays...Next Tuesday is February 2 and you know what that means don't you?

Speaking of Tuesdays...Next Tuesday is February 2 and you know what that means don't you?

Of course! It's Ground Hog Day! No. We won't be going out to Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney to watch Phil make his predictions. I will, however, follow along on the Official Website.

As for Phil... They have a climate controlled habitat attached to the library in Punxsutawney where Phil sleeps away the winter months in comfort. During the summer, he idles away his time while getting regular meals of hay and grasses along with special diet supplements to keep him nice and healthy. He also gets regular checkups from the local veterinary clinic. In short, he living high on the hog.

Is it any wonder that when February 2nd rolls around and a bunch of guys in top hats and long black coats haul his sorry ass out of that heavenly, man made, taxpayer funded Eden he gets a wee bit upset? Is it any wonder that he frequently (about 80% of the time) sees his shadow so he can get back to his warm bed for another six weeks?

Room, board, and health care for free. No need to work or do anything productive. Heck Phil's a Democrat!

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska)

Don Surber posts what should be an ad in Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson's future campaign.

It's a beaut! Go. Look. See.

It will be worth it. Trust me.

[The middle link didn't work before. All should work now. All lead to the same place.-ed. ]

Kurt Warner to retire

Arizona Cardinals Quarterback Kurt Warner has decided to hang up his spikes after 12 years in the NFL.

He was passed over by the NFL after his college carrier and went on to play in the Arena League and Europe. He got a second chance at the NFL when the St. Louis Rams signed him as a backup in 1998. The Rams' starter, Trent Green, got injured early in the 1999 season and Warner stepped in to lead the team to a 13-3 record and a win in the Super Bowl. He was the league and Super Bowl MVP that year.

Two years later (after losing in the first round of the playoffs in 2000), the Rams were back in the Super Bowl. The lost to New England but Warner got a second NFL MVP award.

Then came the injuries and he was cut loose by the Rams after the 2003 season, signed by the Giants, replaced by a guy named Manning nine games into the 2004, and cut loose again. The Cardinals signed him as a backup for Matt Leinart.

Leinart got injured during the 2007 season and Warner took over. He beat out Leinart for the starters role in 2008 and lead the Cardinals into the playoffs and Super Bowl (a loss to Pittsburgh).

They were back in the playoffs this year. After a thrilling 51-45 overtime wild-card victory over Green Bay on Jan. 10, the Cards took a 45-14 thumping at the hands of the New Orleans Saints. Warner, who has had some problems with concussions (2003 with the Rams) got racked in the Saints game and appeared dazed on the sidelines.

No one in NFL history reached 10,000 yards passing faster than Kurt Warner. And only Dan Marino was as fast to reach 30,000.

The top three passing performances in Super Bowl history belong to Kurt Warner. His 1,156 yards passing in the 2008 playoffs broke the NFL record of 1,063 he set with St. Louis in 1999.

The man is a bona fide Hall of Fame candidate.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Aerie Report, January 28, 2010

0.6 degrees at the Bolt Hole last Friday. 58 degrees at the Aerie on Monday. And it is currently 9.0 degrees at 7 PM on Thursday at the Aerie. Can you tell that the wind has shifted a couple of times?

It blew quite strongly out of the north-northwest all day today and snow squalls came rolling across the area in waves. These originated from Lakes Huron, Erie and even the western end of Ontario. While those waves (long narrow bands stretching from NNE to SSW) marched from the NNW to the SSE, there was a little blob of green parked right over the Armenia Mountain Ridge on which the Aerie roosts. It (the blob) didn't seem to be affecting the weather at all but those bands of lake effect snow sure were. We had near whiteout conditions followed quickly by bright sunshine.


I've been reading today about last nights SOTU speech. (I didn't watch for fear of either blowing a gasket or throwing something at the TV.) Most of the reports I've read agree that President Obama has seemingly double down on Health Care encouraging the Congress to get something to his desk while at the same time giving no leadership--at least in public--as to how to get the thing passed. He also demonized banks and big business while he encouraged small business to grow. (How they are to grow without the backing of banks or why they would want to become the demonized big business, he did not explain. And IF health care reform Does get passed, how are the small to medium businesses going to pay for it?)

He took a swipe at the Supreme Court, too, as he misrepresented the recent decision on McCain-Feingold. (You don't insult or berate the guests, Mr. President. You especially do NOT lie about what they've done.) Speaking of guests, he failed to give an introduction to those in the gallery who were sitting with Mrs. Obama. Perhaps he was afraid he would get their name, rank, home state, etc, incorrect. Or perhaps he didn't wish to draw too much attention away from himself and in their direction and why they were there. (Hint: One was the woman police officer wounded in the capture of the Fort Hood shooter. You know the jihadist American Army Major.)

He spoke of freezing spending which, after the immense stimulus, GM takeover, and bank and housing bailouts, is a little like seeking to close the barn door after the horse has gone and the building burned down. (And IF, God forbid, health care reform DOES get passed, how will they rein in spending?)

Oh, and he managed to bring up the "inherited" problem thing again while never mentioning that the Dems have been in control of the House and Senate since 2006. That he himself was a Senator during that time and created some of those same problems he "inherited." That's okay, he blamed Bush for not vetoing those spending bills. Heck, I do to.

[On a side note: I hear they increased the debt ceiling today. An additional $45,000 per man woman and child in the USA. Yippee!]

I could go on, but the wind is still howling outside and the temperature is still dropping. Time for some hot cocoa and then bed.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Aerie Report, January 26, 2010

The rains came down pretty hard yesterday until around 1 PM at which time they suddenly stopped. Why, the sun even came out a little later. Between the rains and the warm temperatures virtually all the snow on the ground had melted and water was pouring down the hill.

I walked out to the end of the driveway and found a veritable stream pouring from our second driveway just up the hill. (The previous owner had subdivided 20 acres into three lots bulldozing driveways to all three. We purchased two of them and, therefore have two driveways.) I tried to divert as much of the water that was running out into the road back into the roadside ditch where it would take the culvert across the road instead of eroding its own path. Then I walked up the drive to where another culvert is supposed to take the water under and down the hill slope. Apparently the lumbermen's skidder had created a slight depression that allowed the water to mostly bypass that catch basin and head on down to the road. I rediverted that flow and sent it down the hill and then went back to the Aerie.

I didn't realize when I did it but as soon as I got back to the cabin it became apparent, my second diversion had sent the water cascading down the small water feature I pictured yesterday and right into the yard. Out I went again.

The problem was the at the mouth of the driveway culvert. Various logs and branches were sending the water down toward the house instead of out to the powerline right of way. So I cleared that obstruction and followed the water up the hill.

A rushing flow was cutting a pretty good ditch along the eastern, uphill side of the driveway/ The skidder having leveled a couple of small diversion ditches that would have sent the water down the slope and into the forest on the west side of the driveway. I worked at rebuilding those small ditches by placing logs and stones in the path of the water and knocking down some blockages from tire ruts on the west side of the drive. I did this in three places and by the time I was done water was gushing down the hill on all three sites. It was like three fire hoses going full bore. I didn't go down the hill to see what erosion these freshets might be causing but will have to face up to it tomorrow when I go do an inspection.

All that work would have gone faster if I had brought the shovel with me.

By the time I was done with creating the diversions, very little water was flowing over the stones outside Terry's window. There sure was a lot of soil and stone moved around on the little hill, however. I see plenty of shovel work when the earth thaws in the spring.

Yeah, I said thaw. See, it was 58 degrees yesterday morning but just 28 degrees this morning. And there was a dusting of snow and flurries for much of the morning. It never did get above 29 degrees as the winds are now blowing out of the west southwest. Tomorrow should be cooler and Thursday and Friday down right cold--again. I hate this yo-yo weather!


Not much else happening right now. I'm spending time with some library books about digital photography, a couple of books on Photoshop Elements 7, and just playing around with the camera trying to see what it (and I) can do. I've had it for over a year. I figure it's time. Besides, I don't want to be the dunce in the class when I attend the Photography Club.

Terry's finished up an embroidery piece she has to take for teacher evaluation. (Group correspondence course.) She seems pretty pleased with it and I think it looks great. She takes it with her tomorrow up to Big Flats for one of her club meetings.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Our National Anthem

I get lots of stuff from my Florida cousins. Most of it is sappy forwarded emails that I read and then delete (I'm not much for forwarding stuff). Occasionally they send me stuff that I DO want to share. Here's one:

This young man (age 7) sings the National Anthem at a college basketball game.

Remember: He's just SEVEN years old. The song is difficult to sing. (That's why the pros play around with it so damn much.) He sings it straight and hits all the notes. Just like it should be.

Colts vs Saints

Jets 17, Colts 30

Well, the Jets season came to an end. Things looked good in the first half with a couple of nice long passes by Sanchez and Smith, but the Colts managed to shut the Jets rush game down and that was all she wrote. The Colts also managed to get the Jets defensive rush under control after the break, giving Manning enough time to pick apart the pass defense.

Vikings 28, Saints 31 in OT

After watching the Vikings and Saints go at it yesterday I have to tell you MY ribs ache from the pounding the Brett took. He may not have gotten sacked, but he sure got mugged pretty good.

Oh, and somebody PLEASE get Adrian Peterson some stick'um for his hands. He may be able to run like the dickens, but if he don't get there with the ball in his hands what good is it? Actually, the whole damn Vikings squad experienced a severe case of the dropsies. When you turn the ball over as many times as they did, you do not deserve to win. That they managed to take it into overtime is a bloody miracle.


So here we are. In two weeks it will be the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints playing in Super Bowl XLIV in Miami. One team (Indy) started the season 14-0 and the other (NO) 13-0. Are you ready for all the pre-game hype?

Glug. GLUG! Freakin' GLUG!

It's days like today that I'm glad the Aerie is at 2100 feet and on a slope instead of, say, at the bottom of the valley along a river or lake shore.

It started raining yesterday afternoon around the time the Jets kicked off to the Colts to start the early game of the day. (That's around 3:05 PM EST for you non-football folks.) Slowly at first did it rain but momentum continued to grow. Checking the maps I could see a long line of storms stretching from our area all the way down the Appalachians to Georgia. And that line wasn't moving to the east. No, like a conga line it was marching straight up the mountains towards/through us. Not only was it bringing copious amounts of rain, it also brought warm, warm temperatures. By this morning it reached a high of 55.4 degrees. (That will be the high for the day.) Between the rain and the rise in temperatures, there's very little snow left on the ground.

Flood watches and warnings have been posted for all over the area. Melting snow, heavy, heavy rain and frozen ground preventing absorption spells lots and lots of runoff. heck, we've got our own little water feature on the slope behind the house.

Mini waterfall behind the Aerie.
The rocks are approximately 24-30 inches wide.

The rain continues but the line of precipitation (which still runs back to the Carolinas) is slowly easing its way to the east as the colder air to the west pushes the warm subtropical, moisture laden mass out of the area. AccuHunch predicts the rain will halt sometime around 2 this afternoon, but that we could get a dusting of snow after dark.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Bolt Hole Photos

On Friday I took a walk around the yard and nearby fields of the Bolt Hole to lok for tracks in the snow. I recounted that in this post. One of the sets of tracks puzzled me. The spacing was wrong for a house cat and not straight enough for a fox. I forgot that the RED fox makes the straightest line of tracks that you ever did see but that the GRAY fox, being slightly huskier in body build has a little swagger to it's strut. Communications last night with Mark confirm that there is a GRAY fox in the area again having returned from wherever when the coyotes moved in. (The Coyotes are still there, Mark says. And in pretty good numbers, too.)

Mark also sent along a bunch of game camera pictures but I've been sworn to super secrecy on posting any of those. Sorry. Last time we let his dad see a picture of a nice buck, we were inundated with new groups of hunters the next year after dear old dad showed it around the local drinking joints/rumor mills.

Mark also answered the question about the cleared driveway. His dad arranged to have them cleared by a buddy of his and Mark had been there on the 19th and did my drive. Our friend Adam, a DEC Ranger, has also been up that way at least a couple times a month as he takes his state snowmobile out to check the trails. He too clears a little to make sure he has a place to park his truck and trailer.

Anyway, I did snap a couple of pictures on my walk.

The Scotch Pines in the yard usually produce a good crop of cones much to the delight of the red squirrel population. The squirrels harvest as many as they can and stash them away for later. When we had firewood stacked out in the yard to season, every nook and cranny held a green pine cone. Even the unheated woodshed and the cabin basement have piles of scales from pine cones that have been opened for the seeds inside. It's a lot of work for a seed that's so small.

The squirrels left this one pine cone along the edge of the yard. I didn't see another on the half dozen trees nearby. Perhaps they just missed it. Or perhaps they're letting it ripen a little longer. Whatever the reason, to me it seems to speak of promises for the future.

A Lone Pine Cone

It was cold Friday morning, not as cold as it would get Saturday but still down into the single digits, and everything had a coat of hoar frost on it that stayed until kissed by the sun. I came across this leafy growth of lichen on a small woody twig and though the greenish gray was a subtle reminder that even in the depths of a cold winter somethings eke out a living from the sun. It wasn't until I put the picture on the computer and cropped it that I noticed the delicate ice crystals along the edge of the frilly lichen.

Icy Lichen

Taking a second short walk after lunch, my eye was caught by a couple of little pinpoints of red against the white of the snow. When I focused upon the little red dots, I realized I was looking at another promise of spring to come--the bud scales of a red maple were already starting to swell with burgeoning life beneath.

Red Maple Buds

My walk was brief as I hadn't put my snowshoes on and every step in virgin snow I sank to just below my knees. That makes walking in the stuff a chore, to say the least. Heading back to the cabin beneath the clear blue sky, I glanced up to see the moon framed between the tops of a few Scotch Pines in the yard. Almost, but not quite a First Quarter, only the fact that it was 2 o'clock in the afternoon confirmed for me that this was a Waxing Crescent.

Waxing Crescent Moon

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Bolt Hole Brrrr!

Sheesh! My prognosticater is as busted as those at The high pressure system pushed those clouds that began to appear late yesterday back south and funneled cold, cold Canadian air into the region. As a result, the temperature this morning is a mere 0.6 degrees. The bubbly weather girl on the Utica station was speaking yesterday of how "warm" the weekend was going to be. I believe she mentioned 40 degrees. (Bill Cosby voice from an early comedy routine/album) R-i-g-h-t!

All right, Utica is 25 or so miles south of here. It's along the Mohawk River,Erie Canal, and the NYS Thruway; and it's several hundred feet lower in elevation than the Bolt Hole so it typically reads a few degrees different (usually warmer) than the cabin, but still.... Checking some Weather Underground stations round and about, I find we are a good 5 degrees colder than those near Utica but almost a full degree warmer than the one just a couple miles away from here. (It's minus 0.9 degrees at that farm which is 3 to 5 miles west of and 300 feet lower than the Bolt Hole.)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Bolt Hole Report, January 22, 2010

The clear skies last night allowed the temperature to plummet to 8.6 degrees here at the Bolt Hole. Those same clear skies along with plenty of sunshine saw the thermometer rise to 33.4 degrees this afternoon. We'll have some high wispy clouds tonight so maybe it won't get quite so cold.

I relearned that linen sheets can be pretty damn cold when you first go to bed. They stay that way for a long while too. Sure they warm up right around your body but if you roll over you're going to learn what they mean by "as cold as the other side of the pillow" only in full body contact. It can be shocking. I've got flannel sheets but why bother for just a night or two.


I took a couple of brief walks out and about this morning and after lunch. Lots of snowshoe hare tracks to be seen along with little mice trails on top of the inch or so of fresh snow that fell late Wednesday night/early Thursday morning. Red squirrel tracks were abundant, also. I came across what look like cat tracks--domestic not big cougar type tracks. This must have been a very large cat, however, as they are spaced a little far apart compared to those I've seen made by strays at the Aerie. I thought they might be fox but there are no claws visible and they aren't on the straight line that foxes usually produce. Usually you can pretty much lay a ruler along a fox track to check how straight the ruler is. They could not be made by a fisher cat as there would have been signs of the critters belly rubbing between tracks. (They are low slung fellas.) Besides, they were too straight for a fisher which is also pretty wide slung. Nor were they in the paired format a weasel like critter like the fisher would produce. There was one set of tracks that might have been made by a coyote based upon the spacing but they were beneath the new snow so details weren't available for scrutiny. One set of grouse tracks found their way into the snowmobile trail just east of the cabin. Not one set of deer tracks did I spy, however. I guess they've headed for the open fields or swamps.

Except for a few chickadees, I didn't see one bird while I was out. Come to that, I didn't rile up any red squirrels either.


Everything around the cabin is in good shape so, unless I want to shovel off some roof snow (nah!) I'm good to head back to the Aerie tomorrow.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Bolt Hole Report, January 21, 2010

I thoroughly enjoyed the ride up today. The lack of snow on the vineyards on the west shores of Seneca Lake surprised me a little. I thought I would encounter deeper snow falls as I moved north. That was not the case. In most places, bare ground was predominant. It wasn't until I reached the NYS Thruway and headed east toward Syracuse that more and more snow could be found. Even that thinned considerably as I passed Syracuse (America's Snowiest City) and headed toward Utica. The Mohawk Valley's western end was almost snow free. That again changed as I turned north from Utica and climbed up onto the southern edge of the Tug Hill Plateau and entered the Adirondack Park. Snow piled up along the sides of the road where the plows had pushed it to a height of maybe two feet. Still far less than I would have expected. Then again, February and March lay ahead and snow can really pile up during those two months.

Arriving at the Bolt Hole, I found someone (Mark?) had cleared an area from the gate to the house so I could drive right up to the door. They had also cleared the snow from in front of the door where it usually buries the steps. That made entry into the cabin exceptionally easy.

The sun shining brightly had helped warm the family/living room to a comfortable 40+ degrees even though it was just 30 degrees outside. It (the sun) didn't help much in the kitchen where the shade form the fir trees and the recess from the front porch keep even the winter sun, low as it is, from shining through the front windows. It was only 35 in there. Tonight it's supposed to drop down to around 10 degrees before rebounding to the 30s again tomorrow.

As soon as I had my jug of water and overnight bag in the cabin, I lit the stoves and stoked the fires until they were roaring. I've now got it up to a comfortable 61 in the kitchen where I'm sitting at the lap top while sipping a hot cocoa (with marshmallows).

I'd estimate the snow in the yard to be in the one to one-and-a-half foot range. It's probably a little deeper out in the woods. I'll find out tomorrow as I take a stroll around.


I spotted many hawks perched in the trees or even on the wires along the highways as I drove up. With only quick glances, I assume that 90% of them were Red-Tailed Hawks. What the rest were, I haven't a clue. I did witness one that met its demise on the thruway. It attempted to take off from the grass on the shoulder and fly across the road in front of an 18 wheeler. Not a smart move as the air draft around the rig pulled it into the trucks grill and sent it pinwheeling onto the median.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Aerie Report January 19, 2010

January 19, 2010...The first day of political recovery in the US? Let's hope so.


Cloudy and cold with temperatures in the upper 20s virtually all day and a light breeze (only 2-4 mph) out of the north. We even had a few snow flurries (not even enough to call them "showers") this morning.


Terry and I snuck out to dinner at The Steakhouse over in Wellsboro this evening before going to our Tiadaghton Audubon Society meeting.

The TAS meeting feature Royal Draper of Draper's Super Bee Apiaries who spoke about the production of honey and the plight of honey bees. I've been to Drape's up in Millerton and can truly say it's one heck of an operation. Even in its scaled down version (they currently have only around 250 hives, down from 1000 at the turn of the century) there's plenty to learn and see on the bee farm. If you click the link, and then select "About Us" from the left frame, you can get a good idea of what Draper's is all about.


I'm going to be scooting up to the Bolt Hole tomorrow (Thursday). Haven't been there since the end of October/beginning of November. It's time for an inspection. I don't plan on staying long and will definitely be back in time for Sunday football. Gotta see if my Jets can beat the A Team of the Indy Colts for the AFC Championship.

The night before TSHTF

It's the day after and there's a new alignment in the Senate. Senator Scott Brown (R!) will take his place in Washington and this will, hopefully mean the end of the far reaching aspirations of the left.

But the night before the vote was cast, Jon Stewart had this routine on his The Daily Show:

Daily Show

Full Episodes

Political Humor

Health Care Crisis

Plenty of humor but everything he says and the clips he plays are spot on. It might have helped Brown. It certainly did nothing to hurt him.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

eMail of the day

Another from my sister, but I agree totally with the sentiments.

The Importance of Walking

1. Walking 20 minutes a day can add to your life. This enables you at 85 years old to spend an additional 5 months in a nursing home at $7000 per month.

2. My grandpa started walking five miles a day when he was 60. Now he's 97 years old and we haven't a clue where the hell he is.

3. I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me.

4. The only reason I would take up walking is so that I could hear heavy breathing again.

5. I have to walk early in the morning, before my brain figures out what I'm doing.

6. I joined a health club last year, spent about 400 bucks. Haven't lost a pound. Apparently you have to actually go there.

7. Every time I hear the dirty word 'exercise', I wash my mouth out with chocolate.

8. I do have flabby thighs, but fortunately my stomach covers them.

9. The advantage of exercising every day is so when you die, they'll say, 'Well, he looks good doesn't he..'

10. If you are going to try cross-country skiing, start with a small country.

11. I know I got a lot of exercise the last few years, just getting over the hill was enough.

12. We all get heavier as we get older, because there's a lot more information in our skulls. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

13. Every time I start thinking too much about how I look, I just find a Happy Hour and by the time I leave, I look just fine.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Aerie Report, January 18, 2010

Not a heck of a lot to report on today except that we had two, TWO, days in one.

It was pea soup fog when we hit the sack last night. Could see no lights from down in the valley--not even those of our nearest neighbor or the red blinkers on the windmills. And it was raining lightly. Sometime during the night we got a tiny 1/2 inch of snow although it never got below 33 degrees.

When dawn broke (and I use that phrase liberally to mean "when it got lighter out") the precipitation had stopped but the fog lingered on...and on. The temperature rose slowly and the fog remained. Until around noon when the sky turned blue and the sun shone brightly in a matter of thirty minutes. By one in the afternoon there wasn't a cloud in the sky and the temperature spiked at 54 degrees at 3:30 PM. If I was graphing temperature vs time I'd have my own little hockey stick.

So a boring, foggy morning followed by a spring-like afternoon.


Like I said, there's not a lot to report from the Aerie today. And not much out there in the world that sparks my writing juices right now either. I've been doing a lot of site surfing on the web and reading a good number of reports about Haiti relief, Massachusetts politics, Democrats plotting how to save a) their House and Senate seats and/or b) Health Care Reform (not necessarily in that order and two seem mutually exclusive, BTW--definitely an "or" proposition) and numerous other topics most of which either leave me with my jaw hanging or going "bleh!"

Maybe tomorrow. Evening.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Hoo-weee! J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS!

They did it again! The Jets defense proved too much for the Chargers and the offense played just well enough and scored just enough points to win the game, 17-14.

Now the Jets get to go back to Indianapolis to play the Colts. I don't think the Colts will be pulling their starters out of this one. But then again, neither did the Bengals last week and it didn't do them any good.

Will the Jets win this one and go to the Super Bowl? They won't be favored, that's for sure. But it's one game at a time and winner take all. The Jets have a lot to prove but so do the Colts.


And in the NFC, the Vikings beat the snot out of the Cowboys, 34-3. Bret Favre threw for over 300 yards and four touchdowns while the Viking defense sacked Tony Romo six times.

Next week the Vikings travel to New Orleans to square off against the Saints. Can the northers beat the southers? Well Vikings are known for their sea raids against rich ports. If the defense upsets Drew Brees as much as they did Romo, the Old Man (Favre) will take care of the offense and the Vikes could be back in the Super Bowl.

Mermaid or whale?

Another item that came over the transom to Terry this time. She forwarded it to me and I pass it along with no comment.

Recently, in a large city in France, a poster featuring a young, thin and tan woman appeared in the window of a gym.

It said, "This summer, do you want to be a mermaid or a whale?"

A middle-aged woman, whose physical characteristics did not match those of the woman on the poster, responded publicly to the question posed by the gym.

To Whom It May Concern,

Whales are always surrounded by friends (dolphins, sea lions, curious humans.)

They have an active sex life, get pregnant and have adorable baby whales. They have a wonderful time with dolphins stuffing themselves with shrimp.

They play and swim in the seas, seeing wonderful places like Patagonia, the Bering Sea and the coral reefs of Polynesia .

Whales are wonderful singers and have even recorded CDs.

They are incredible creatures and virtually have no predators other than humans.

They are loved, protected and admired by almost everyone in the world.

Mermaids don't exist.

If they did exist, they would be lining up outside the offices of Argentinean psychoanalysts due to identity crisis. Fish or human?

They don't have a sex life because they kill men who get close to them, not to mention how could they have sex?

Just look at them ... where is IT?

Therefore, they don't have kids either.

Not to mention, who wants to get close to a girl who smells like a fish store?

The choice is perfectly clear to me:

I want to be a whale.

We are in an age when media puts into our heads the idea that only skinny people are beautiful, but I prefer to enjoy an ice cream with my kids, a good dinner with a man who makes me shiver, and a piece of chocolate with my friends.

With time, we gain weight because we accumulate so much information and wisdom in our heads that when there is no more room, it distributes out to the rest of our bodies.

So we aren't heavy, we are enormously cultured, educated and happy.

Beginning today, when I look at my back side in the mirror I will think, ¨Good grief, look how smart I am!¨

It's ba-a-ack.

Apparently The Blob likes southeast winds, too.

Northwest winds blow up the one side of the ridge, southeast blow up the other. Unless the windmills along the ridge have changed the air flow (unlikely) this must have been a standard for years. Don't know why I never noticed The Blob's tendency to hover over Armenia Mountain before. I have noticed it doesn't like winds from the west or southwest nearly as much and goes into hiding when they predominate.

And the winter weather advisory is still on. The green, yellow, pink, and blue sh*t is creeping northward from State College as I type. Should be here between 11 AM and noon. The green and yellow (rain) are currently the main colors in the radar screen. The pink and blue (ice and snow) seem to be limited to the higher elevations from Winchester, Virginia to Altoona, PA. Let's see what happens as it reaches the northern ridges.

Yeah. Me too.

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No birding today.
The weather has deteriorated and the forecast is more dismal. If I were to go out, I might have an icy and difficult time getting back. After a glaze of ice early this afternoon, we're supposed to be switched over to snow. Perhaps as much as 3 to 5 inches of the stuff will fall late this afternoon and through the night. Then flurries and snow showers dominate this weeks forecast. TV news out of Elmira says it's in the high 20s there. says it's 24 degrees down on Route 6. Our thermometer says it never got below 32 overnight and it was 33 degrees when we got up. (With the winds slowly coming over the mountain from the southeast, that's easy to believe.) Cold air does, indeed, sink.

(Actually, I learned that and Accuweather use isotherms based on a few stations and interpolate the temperatures in between. Not always an accurate method in ridge and valley country. Especially when those ridges and valleys run east-west so the hills have a sunlit side and a shady side.)


Today will, therefore, be relegated to reading, blogging, napping, hoping for the demise of the Cowboys at the hands of the Vikings, rooting for the Jets vs the Chargers and other indoor pursuits.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Aerie Report January 16, 2010

The overnight low Friday into Saturday was just 29 degrees and when the sun came up this morning there wasn't a cloud in the sky. No wind either. As a result it got up to 49 degrees at 3 o'clock this afternoon. Won't last, though. It's going to get cold tonight and there's a chance of some freezing rain and ice in the morning before switching to snow late. It's already below freezing outside at 6 PM.


Terry and I took a nice drive today to see if we could locate the house Terry's cousin and my bud put a bid on. Mapquest told us it was just 36 miles from us by road but it looks to be considerably less as the crow flies as the route is Z-shaped. We believe we located the home but could not see it from the road. It's on top of a hill and has a long driveway.

Still, it was good to get out and about taking roads we had not been on before and exploring. We haven't really done that sort of thing for a long, long time. Probably since before my daughter was born--and she'll be 30 years old a week from Monday. We ended with lunch at The Native Bagel in Wellsboro before going home to the hungry horde of Chester, Shadow and Julie.


I had intended to go out birding tomorrow, but between the forecast freezing rain and the fact that the lakes (Hammond, Tioga, Cowanesque) all seem to be completely frozen, I may not have many good places to go. We say ice fishermen on Cowanesque today in pretty good numbers. It's been so cold for so long that I'm sure the ice is pretty darn thick. Last year I was seeing Canada Geese and Snow Geese on the west end of the lake where the river enters. This year it's all ice even well up the inlet. We did see some open water on Pine Creek where it crosses Route 6 west of Wellsboro. Perhaps the Canyon Country would be a good place tomorrow if the rain and freezing rain hold off.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Aerie Report January 15, 2010

A rather dull day at the Aerie. The sky got cloudy over night and remained so all day. The winds shifted again so as to come in from the west instead of the southwest. As a result, we didn't see the over night low get below freezing but neither did we see the day time high get much above 36 degrees. All is supposed to be brighter, sunnier and warmer tomorrow, however, as we'll again flirt with that 40 degree mark.


Terry spent the day reading, doing laundry, cooking (stir fry using some venison strips) and working on a needlecraft piece. I spent my time in the workshop putting together a rolling base for the band saw. It's one of the items purchased at Grizzly yesterday. Turns out to be just a teensiest too small for the flared legs of the saw but, since it was rated for a much, much higher weight than the saw, I managed to make it work. I also did some work on the jug saw cutting out patterns I had traced on Tuesday for some of next Christmas' presents. Still a few inside cuts to make and then sanding, fitting, and painting to do. They are table top cutouts of sleds, deer and Santa.


Today is the DIL's birthday. Sandy is 26. Happy birthday kid!


Talked to Terry's cousin and my hunting and fishing buddy who recently retired. They were going to move down to Virginia but then realized they had a married son (with one grandchild in hand) and married daughter in NJ. Virginia (the western, mountainous side) was starting to look like a long commute for grandma. Especially when newly married daughter asked about how often mom could come to visit when the grand kids started arriving. So, they started to look for a place around here. It's out in the country. Pretty much the right kid of politics. And still just four-and-a-half hours from their kids in NJ or the one (as yet unmarried) down in the Baltimore area.

They started looking just a few months ago but have found something they like and submitted an offer. I hope it's accepted. Be nice to have them in the area.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Aerie Report January 14, 2010

Beautiful day here at the Aerie. The sun came out early and stayed out all day. That, in turn, allowed the temperature to soar to 44 degrees by 3 PM.

Terry and I took advantage of the great weather to drive south to Williamsport and the Lycoming Mall. Grizzly Tools, Gander Mountain, and Borders Bookstore were our major stops. Got a couple tools while looking at the big ones. Bought a pair of insulated waterproof boots (Itasca). And, after lunch of pizza at the mall, we bought some books. Luckily they didn't have the full compliment of Jim Butcher's Codex Alera series. (There are six books and they didn't have #3, so I stopped with numbers 1 and 2. If I like them, I'll order the others on line or go to the Barnes & Noble up in Arnot Mall in NY.)

We drove through the city of Willimasport heading east on Fourth and then Third Streets going down. Coming back we went west on Third to Washington and then High Street. The return trip allowed us to stop at Mr. Stickies for a half dozen of the best tasting sticky buns you ever tasted. Thank goodness it's nearly 60 miles south of here! Still, the Jeep dealership is near by as are the stores mentioned above and a needlecraft store Terry likes.... And did I mention that the Black Swan Cafe in Mansfield gets Mr. Stickies delivered on a semi-regular basis? They put a sandwich sign out on the curb when they've just gotten a delivery. Yeah, they sticky buns are that good.

The cats were furious when we got home at 3:30 PM. That's FOUR HOURS after they normally get their lunch (the second half of a can of moist food). Forget that there's a bowl of dry food in the basement next to their litter boxes and water bowls. They were starving! Worse, we didn't bring any toys!

What Camera?

cassie asked me what camera I was using to take my bird pictures. I asked that very question of Richard At the Water about a year ago. Following his advice I went and purchased a Sony Alpha 350 and two Tamron lenses a 28-80mm and a 70-300mm, which came as a set.

The camera has digital zooming capabilities which extend the 300mm lens to 600mm equivalent.

When shooting birds on the deck from inside the house, I'm between five and ten feet from them. At 600mm I can see what they're thinking.

I've also got a digiscoping setup modeled after one my local birding buddy, Gary, uses. It's a Nikon Fieldscope ED III-A with a wide angle 30x eyepiece and a Nikon CoolPix P1 digital camera. I've actually moved away from using the digiscope because the camera is woefully underpowered. It requires manual focusing and takes several seconds to download the picture to disk. The Sony Alpha 350 is a motorized auto focus and is ready to shoot again as soon as I can click the button. (Interestingly enough, after seeing me using the SLR on a couple of occasions, Gary went out and got himself a Nikon SLR.) While the digiscope is great for birds that are relatively stationary (a nesting or roosting bird), slow moving (ducks and geese on the water), wading egrets and herons) or coming to one particular spot (such as a hummingbird to a feeder) the SLR and long lens allows you to capture birds in the field more easily.

I'd like to get a real macro lens ad, perhaps a 500mm lens like RIchard is playing with right now, but this "keeping up with the Joneses (and Smiths, Browns, etc.) can get pretty expensive!


And cassie, Hogwarts is the magic academy one Mr. Harry Potter attends. Birds (mostly owls) are their method of sending messages back to the folks at home, among others.

'Cause I think it's funny! 'Kay?

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Aerie Report January 13, 2010
Photography Question,

Not much happening here at the Aerie.

Last evening I went to the Grand Canyon Photography Club meeting where we watched a DVD about former National Geographic photographer Jim, Brandenburg's special 90-day quest that resulted in his book Chased By The Light - A 90-Day Journey. After 25 years traveling around the world for various and sundry National Geographic projects, Brandenburg returned to his Boundary Waters home near Ely, Minnesota to recharge. After shooting hundreds if not thousands of shots a day on assignment, he decided to go minimalist and shoot just one frame a day for 90 days starting the first day of autumn and ending on the first day of winter. The DVD, narrated by and with video by, Jim Brandenburg explained some of the back story to his quest and also of many of the shots he took. The photos are extraordinary as well as inspirational to any photographer.

The second half of the program was spent viewing and critiquing members photos shot with the theme "Windows" in mind. The process of critiquing gives one an idea of how to improve/select composition, color, balance, framing, etc. before and after taking a photo.


I've been using Picasa 3 (a free program downloaded off the web) to organize and edit/process my photos but many if not all of the photographers in the club (including those who are pro and semi pro) have been using either Photoshop CS4 or Photoshop Elements. (Those who sell their pictures usually use the complete Photoshop CS4 package because they can deduct its gignormous price (something like $700 before you get the upgrades for another $200) on their tax returns. The hobbiests stick with the Elements which generally retail for less than $100.

It got me to thinking about purchasing Photoshop Elements to run on my 32-bit Toshiba running Vista Home Premium. Looking at what's available through Amazon, it appears I have a choice of either Elements 6, 7, or 8. (Earlier versions don't run on Vista.)

I didn't get a chance to talk with the Photoshop Guru except to find out most everyone is still running XP and Elements 4. I'll probably decide on one of these three (E 6, E7, or E8) within a day or so. If anyone out there reading this has had any experience with them please let me know what you think.


We now return you to your regular weather broadcast. It got sunny and warm today. All the way up to 34 degrees and we may hit 40 on Thursday. It is truly amazing that the sun can warm you up that way. Who would have guessed?

No snow in the forecast for a few days so we may even get to see the gravel in the driveway again before it gets covered up.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Aerie Weather Report, January 12, 2010

We started getting some light snow just before dark on Monday and that has continued off and on throughout the night and again today. The accumulation has been somewhere around the inch or inch-and-a-half mark. Certainly nothing to write home about.

The wind shifted overnight from the WSW back to the NW and the Blue Blob reappeared on the radar and it remains in place despite the snow showers blown off the Great Lakes that flow past. I'm now convinced that it (the Blob) is a product of winds being pushed aloft as they encounter Armenia Mountain.


The good news on the weather front is that we may be in line for a January Thaw later this week. Accuweather says it could be nosing 40 degrees on Friday while is a little more conservative. Both say we should crack the old freezing mark on Wednesday--Thursday for sure. That will be the first time in several weeks we've been north of the 32 degree mark.

Today's high was only 19.9 degrees while the low was 14.2 at 7 AM.

Another Aerie Visitor

This has been a difficult bird to get pictures of. During the summer it darts in and out of the thicket staying just out of camera reach or behind a bit of a twig making focusing difficult before it's gone to another perch. A rare visitor to the feeders on the deck during the winter, I've seen it several times during the last week, usually when the camera is on the other side of the room. Today, I just happened to be downloading pictures I'd taken earlier (see the earlier post) when it popped into view on the tray.

Carolina Wren

Visitors to the Aerie Cafe

With the cold and the snow cover, we've become a primary source of food for our feathered neighbors. Each species seems to have increased its numbers at the feeders. There really hasn't been anything new this winter as far as species is concerned. We're still waiting for the redpolls and the purple and house finches to show up.

Still, the antics of the regulars can be entertaining. Here are a few of the pictures I took this morning of the regular crowd.

Blue Jay

There are around a dozen Blue Jays that come to the aerie on a regular basis. There can be as many as seven or eight vying for position on the deck tray while just as many are at the hanging feeders on the side.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Only this one shows up at the feeders on a daily basis (we call her Winnie) but I can hear another call in the distance while she is here. She'll wolf down seeds with the best of them or stop at the suet feeder for some fat.

Dark-eyed Junco

Lots and lots of juncos come up to the deck to pick up seeds on the deck itself or to hit the tray feeder. These are ground feeders so they don't bother with the hanging feeders at all. They'll also forage in the woods or the tall weeds around the edge of the yard. This photo gives you a good look at the pink legs and beak this species sports.

Northern Cardinal

Like the Red-bellied Woodpecker, we've only got one pair that comes regularly to the feeders, even then, it's usually the male. On rare occasions, the female will visit the side feeders but I've yet to see her on the deck. They usually come to feed very early in the morning or just after the sun sinks in the evening. Seems a shame to waste that beautiful red color when the light is so poor for viewing.

American Goldfinch

It started with no more than half a dozen, then each brought a buddy and they brought another. Now we've dozens and dozens of these little birds feeding everywhere. They even, finally, rediscovered the thistle feeder on the side of the yard. We'll keep an eye on the males and when they start molting into their bright yellow breeding jackets, we'll know spring is soon to arrive.

White-breasted Nuthatch

I've seen as many as half a dozen of these guys in the yard at one time. They're still out numbered by almost everyone else but they are sharp looking.

There are others that show up regularly as well. Chickadees, of course, downy and hairy woodpeckers, red-breasted nuthatches, tufted titmice, and the ever increasing mourning doves.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Let's go somewhere!

You can go to Colonial Williamsburg, or the Louvre to look at the art or to Hershey, PA watch them make chocolate.

Just a few of the 100 Incredible & Educational Virtual Tours You Don’t Want to Miss

Be warned, however, you can spend days doing all the tours so ration yourself...or get rations before entering.

(h/t to Theo Spark who had the link over at The Last of the Few)

Playoff Football

The Jets will be going to San Diego to face the Chargers after the Ravens dismantled the Patriots yesterday. Traditionally, the Jets (like the Mets) don't fare well on the west coast. This year, the Jets made one trip out that way and walloped the Oakland Raiders 38-0 but that's hardly a measure to trust--everyone beat up on the Raiders this year.

The Chargers' strengths are their passing offense (#4 in the NFL) and their rushing defense (#5). The Jets' strengths are their passing defense (#8 in the league) and their rushing offense (#12)--and improving after the last two weeks. With WR Vincent Jackson having an achilles problem and listed as questionable for the Chargers, it will be interesting to see who Darrelle Revis of the Jets is assigned to guard. As goes Revis, so goes the Jets' pass defense seems to be the popular wisdom, but they will also need more pressure and sacks from the front line.


Did you watch the Green Bay-Arizona game yesterday? This has to have been one of the most entertaining postseason games in a long while.

The Cardinals 51-45 overtime victory over the Packers set a postseason record for points as Warner and Rodgers came out slinging as they combined for 801 yards through the air. Rodgers had 422 yards and 4 TDs while Warner had 379 and 5 TDs. Yet the game was won on a defensive play. After featuring virtually only a token defense by either team resulted in a 45-45 tie during regulation, it was the Cardinals' defense that won the game with a Karlos Dansby fumble recovery returned for a touchdown. You might say that that play was the answer to the Arizona place kicker Neil Rackers' prayers after he pulled a relatively short field goal attempt with seconds on the clock.

During regulation, it seemed only a matter of time before the offensive team scored a TD. The defenses could only slow the proceedings and not prevent the result.

Best line of the day was delivered as they went into overtime the TV announcer, who was probably massaging his sore neck from having to swivel his eyes back and forth across the field so quickly to follow the plays, said something to the effect: "It's a good thing we're not playing college overtime rules or we'd be here all night." Up to that point, he was 100% correct. It didn't seem as if either side could make a stand. (Although, ironically, Green Bay did force a punt early in the fourth quarter that allowed them to score two consecutive TDs and tie the game at 35 apiece.)

Morning Report from the Aerie, January 11, 2010

The winds shifted over night and are now coming out of the WSW instead of the NNW. As a result (I guess) that Blue Blob is no longer on the radar screen this morning. That makes me believe it was a result of up slope lifting air currents.

Oh, the temperature only fell to 11 degrees over night. Heat wave! On the other is calling for a 70% chance of snow showers this afternoon and snow tonight. One to three inches, they say.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

About My Bowl Pics

Someone (an anonymous commenter) asked what my record was in the bowl pics.

I was 19-15 (0.589)

Got let down big time by TCU, West Virginia and Nevada. The latter two had to deal with the retirement of Bobby Bowden at Florida State and some really bad decisions made by players (academic and otherwise) at Nevada that kept two 1,000-yard rushers out of the game.

Minor disappointments with Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, Fresno State, Houston, and Temple all of which I thought would prove victorious. (I guess I bought into the hype about the PAC 10 being such a good conference!)


Just 3.4 degrees at the Aerie this morning at 7 AM under clear skies and with rime ice coating all surfaces. Virtually no wind--thank goodness! ( agrees on the temp. AccuWeather says it's minus 4.)

That is all.

ps. Oh, that Blue Blob still hovers over Armenia Mountain on the radar despite not a cloud in the sky.

pps. I just checked the AccuWeather radar and the Blue Blob is there as well! This has got to be cause dby the northerly winds being pushed up the Armenia Mountain slopes. The ridge runs on a line that would be from the ENE to the WSW and the Blob stretches from one end to the other. BUT ONLY ALONG ARMENIA MOUNTAIN. There are half a dozen ridges in the area called The Endless Mountains and the Northern Tier. Why us? Will the Blob disappear when/if the wind shifts?

Saturday, January 09, 2010


The Jets did the job today in defeating the Cincinnati Bengals 24-14. They gave up 171 yards rushing. (169 of them went to Cedric Benson who was the one bright spot for the Bengals.) But Sanchez threw one TD to Dustin Keller sandwiched around rushing TDs by Shonn Green and Thomas Jones.

As a team, the Jets matched the Bengals with 171 yards gained on the ground. But they also had a fumble recovery and an interception

The quarteback lines were:
M. Sanchez 12 of 15 for 182 yards 1 TD 0 INT
C. Palmer 18 of 36 for 146 yards 1 TD 1 INT

Palmer got sacked three times including twice in a row to end the Bengals final drive.


The Jets will be in Indianapolis next week. [Or maybe San Diego?]


Watching the Jets beating the Bengals. The two-minute warning comes and they go to commercials. One for Cialis comes on and I notice, as the talking head on screen goes through all the cautions and warnings, this little sentence appears in the lower left of the screen: "See our ad in Golf Digest."

Luckily I had just swallowed my beerage or it would be all over the laptop's screen.

College Bowl Wrap-up

The college bowls are over and we are into the NFL playoffs. I thought I'd take a look at how the college conferences did in the 34 bowls.

The best showing by a conference with five or more teams playing belongs to the Mountain West with a 5-1 (.833) record. The only lose the Mountain West had was that of the TCU Horned Frogs.

Of the six BCS conferences (indicated by an asterisk), the best record was the Big East's 4-2 (.667). The problem for the Big East is that the two teams (Cincinnati and West Virginia) that played in what could be considered "major" bowls ended up losing.

ACC* (3-4 .429)

Big 10* (4-3 .571)

Big 12* (4-4 .500)

Big East* (4-2 .667)

Conference USA (1-4 .200)

Mid American (1-4 .200)

Mountain West (5-1 .833)

Pac* 10 (2-5 .286)

SEC* (5-4 .556)

Sun Belt (1-1 .500)

WAC (2-2 .500)

IND (1-0 1.000)

What the....?

What's wrong with this radar?

The blue blob in the center of the screen is supposed to represent snow. It's along the Armenia Mountain Ridge. It's been there for at least five freakin' days. Now, during the last four days it was, indeed, snowing to some extent along the ridge. I know because the Aerie is on the western edge of that effing blue blob. However, today it is not only NOT snowing but the sun is shining brightly! I believe that blue blob has been so persistent that the radar has had it burned into their screens permanently.

On the temperature front, it was just 8 degrees at the Aerie this morning at 7:30 AM. It's now "up" to 9.0 degrees in the 10 AM sunshine. Tonight is supposed to be even colder.

Terry saw on the news this morning that it was 13 degrees in Elmira, NY, just a short distance to the northeast. At the same time they reported it was 12 degrees overnight in New Orleans, Louisiana. And there was snow and freezing rain as far south as the Tampa Area of Florida. I wonder if the Florida forecasters have ever had to use the phrase, "..and there will be snow in the higher elevations."

The news also showed footage of the ice rinks that were the Atlanta, Georgia roads with all the comedy gold of slipping and sliding southern motorists.

[UPDATE: You have GOT to be kidding me! THere is not a cloud in the sky and yet...
the infamous Blue Blob is still there!]

Friday, January 08, 2010

Aerie Report, January 8, 2010

The very light powdery snow that fell all night and throughout this morning let up around 1 PM. Heck, even the sun made a (very) brief appearance. I thought it was done so I donned my boots, gloves and coat and went out to clear the driveway.

I was disappointed to find there was a mere 4 inches on the ground. Thinking that might not make the use of the blower worthwhile, I started with the shovel and cleared half the area in front of the garage in a little less than an hour.

Not long after I started the sun disappeared and a pretty serious snow squall hit. It didn't last long but it gave me an excuse to take a break and ponder my options further.

The squall stopped after 15 minutes and I started the snow thrower. heck, after the plow had gone up the road, I knew some deeper snow was ahead of me. So I wrestled the thrower over the second half of the area in front of the garage, the driveway and the plow-made drift. It took me about an hour. I saved about 30 minutes...maybe.

While I did the drive, Terry did the deck and replenished the bird feeders much to the delight of the juncos, chickadees, nuthatches. etc.

When I finished, Terry produced a cup of welcome hot chocolate and I sat down to the computer. As I type this, it has commenced snowing again. Checking the radar that damn blue bubble is parked right overhead...again. *sigh*

If this keeps up there may be enough snow on the ground to get out the snowshoes.


My cousin sent me this this morning.
I found this beautiful winter poem and thought it might be a comfort to you... It was to me, and it's very well written.

I felt it really captured my own feelings about winter.


a poem by

Abigail Elizabeth McIntyre

SHIT, It's Cold!

The End
My cousin lives near Tampa, Florida.
Prior to that she lived in northwestern New Jersey. I think living in Florida has thinned her blood.

I didn't really mean it that way

The other day I was complaining about the 1 and 2 inch snowfalls that were much too little to get the snow blower out and just barely deep enough to require the shovel. I don't recall if I said it on this here blog or elsewhere.

Wherever I said it, Somebody must have been listening. He obviously assumed I wanted more snow, not less. I need to work on my communication skills.

That little green dot on the weather map from several days ago? Hasn't moved. And it called in reinforcements over night. A light, fine powder has been falling since just after dark. The forecast called for 2 to 4 inches. We've already got the 4 inches and it's working on five. Another inch and it's snow blower depth. It's supposed to continue until noon. We shall see.

On the other hand, this weather has brought milder temperatures It stayed in the mid 20s overnight. That won't last, however. says tonight it will dip down to 12 degrees while tomorrow's high will be just 17. Saturday night will be coldest of all with the low down around 6 degrees. They do promise the sun will come out on Sunday though. Be nice to see the old boy again.

Unofficial AARP Eye chart

This version is for the guys.

[ps. Don't bother trying to click to enbiggen. It's still not going to get large enough.]

Alabama 37, Texas 21

An interesting game the outcome of which will be discussed for quite a while.

After all the hype and build up about Heisman candidate QB Colt McCoy of Texas squaring off against Alabama's defense and Heisman winner running back Mark Ingram facing Texas' defense, we got precious little of the former (just five plays) and a lot less of the latter than expected. McCoy got hit hard on a quarterback keeper on the fifth play ad game out of the game dangling his right arm by his side. He never returned. Ingram sat out almost all of the third quarter and a large chunk of the fourth with sever cramps in his legs. Alabama's offense was stifled during that time going three-and-out four consecutive series.

Still, the game did have it's share of drama.

Why did Saban call a fake punt so deep in Alabama's end on the first series? That didn't work too well and led to a Texas field goal.

That was followed by Texas pooch kicking the ball high and short. The Tide players were caught off guard and failed to corral the ball. That set up another Texas field goal.

True freshman Garrett Gilbert played nervous for the entire first half (he compelted just oone of eleven passes for minus 2 yards), but showed a lot of promise in the second. That shovel pass at the end of the first half? It should have been buried--i.e. never thrown. That Marcell Dareus (the Alabama defensive lineman who put McCoy out of the game) was able to pluck it out of the air as it bounced of hands, chests, asses, etc. and return it 28 yards for a TD...well. that should never, ever happen. But it did and made the score 24-6 at the half.

With Ingram obviously pained from cramps in his legs (or maybe that grimace on his face was from all the pickle juice they were forcing him to drink), Gilbert started to hit McCoy's roommate wide receiver Jordan Shipley (10 catches fr 122 yards and 2 TDs) and suddenly the Tide's lead was only 24-21. With just 6:15 left in the fourth quarter, Texas had the ball on their own 7 yard line and a chance to make history.

But a blind side sack and a fumble recovery on the 4 yard line lead to one Ingram touchdown. A few minutes later, after Gilbert's third interception of the game, Richardson would score the final Alabama TD. to make it 37-21 after the extra point attempt clanged off the left upright.

For Alabama, Ingram ended the night with 22 carries for 116 yards. Trent Richardson had 19 carries and 109 yards. Marcell Dareus had one tackle (knocking out McCoy), one interceptions (of THE shovel pass at the end of the first half), and one TD (on the 28 yard return of same).

The Kid, Gilbert, finished the game 15 for 40 for 186 yards, 2 TDs and 4 INT. He should have had more completions. There were at least four passes that were in receivers' hands and dropped. And I can guarantee that he will never, ever throw another shovel pass into a crowd.

Congratulations to Alabama and Coach Saban on bringing home the National Championship.

Thursday, January 07, 2010


Eugene, Ore. police have arrested the Tooth Fairy!

Bag of teeth links man to Seattle-area dental burglaries

After reading the story, this 26-year old is anything but The Tooth Fairy.
Shane Carlson had long been on the radar of Seattle-area police after his numerous arrests — and convictions — for car prowls, home burglaries and office break-ins. One Edmonds police detective describes the 26-year-old as "an equal-opportunity burglar."

Seems if it wasn't nailed down, he thought it was fair game.

Sounds like he'll be spending some serious time in the slammer, however.

Global Cooling threatens species!

Or, at least, makes it easier to catch/kill them.

Iguanas, a non-native of southern Florida, are having trouble with the latest cold snap.

Cold Killing Iguanas Extended cold could kill invasive iguanas
With this week’s evening temperatures falling toward the upper 30s, strange fruit may drop from South Florida trees: non-native, invading iguanas that many residents consider more pest than pet.
It is legal to kill iguanas, but it must be done humanely. Among the options is decapitation.

The adult iguanas can measure up to a yard in length. There is no closed season or bag limit. Might be a good place to take the air rifle for some small game hunting target practice. (Can't be "hunting" since the durn things are pretty much immobile which precludes any semblance of "fair chase.")

No recipe at the site but several commenters say iguana tastes just like chicken.

Any way. Go read the entry at Watt Up With That? And don't forget to read the comments. Some of them are hilarious while others are informative.

Old Fart Pride

Another item that came over the transom. I wondered why I got it from my buddy (who is five years younger than I and received it from a hunting buddy older than we are who is certainly an Old Fart) but realized after reading it that being an Old Fart isn't such a bad thing after all.

I'm passing this on as I did not want to be the only old fart receiving it. Actually, it's not a bad thing to be called, as you will see.

Old Farts are easy to spot at sporting events; during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner, Old Farts remove their caps and stand at attention and sing without embarrassment. They know the words and believe in them.

Old Farts remember World War II, Pearl Harbor, Guadalcanal, Normandy and Hitler. They remember the Atomic Age, the Korean War, The Cold War, the Jet Age and the Moon Landing. They remember the 50 plus Peacekeeping Missions from 1945 to 2005, not to mention Vietnam .

If you bump into an Old Fart on the sidewalk he will apologize. If you pass an Old Fart on the street, he will nod or tip his cap to a lady. Old Farts trust strangers and are courtly to women.

Old Farts hold the door for the next person and always, when walking, make certain the lady is on the inside for protection.

Old Farts get embarrassed if someone curses in front of women and children and they don't like any filth or dirty language on TV or in movies.

Old Farts have moral courage and personal integrity. They seldom brag unless it's about their children or grandchildren.

It's the Old Farts who know our great country is protected, not by politicians, but by the young men and women in the military serving their country.

This country needs Old Farts with their work ethic, sense of responsibility, pride in their country and decent values.

We need them now more than ever.

Thank God for Old Farts!

Pass this on to all the Old Farts you know.

I was taught to respect my elders. It's just getting harder to find them lately.

C.Michigan 44, Troy 41 in 2 OTs

Another entertaining bowl game if not bowl game coverage last night as the Chippewas of Central Michigan defeated the Troy Trojans 44-41 in double overtime.

Despite two powerful offenses, the score was just 10-9 at half time and you could sense that the ESPN crew was bored. Or maybe they were just upset that they were not covering The Big One, the National Championship Game, to be played tonight. Now, I wouldn't blame them for frequent promos of the #1 Alabama vs #2 Texas game DURING COMMERCIAL BREAKS, but in between plays by the play-by-play crew? Way to keep your audience focused on the game at hand guys. At least they sat up and started paying attention after Central Michigan's Antonio Brown ran the kickoff back 95 yards when it seemed Troy, having just taken a 31-19 lead, was about to put it away.

Chippewas' QB Dan LeFevour made like Bret Favre completing 33 of 55 for 395 yards and one TD. He also ran for a 13-yard TD in the first overtime period. Hard to believe he didn't play quarterback in high school until his senior year. He ends his college career as #2 in total yards with 15,853 total yards. Only Hawaii quarterback Timmy Chang did it better (16,910). LeFevour also moved into fifth place in the FBS in career completions and 10th in yards passing.

But last night he was almost out gunned by Levi Brown of Troy who completed 31 of 56 for 386 yards. Add in the one completion by Trojan Cornelius Williams for 17 yards and Troy did out throw Central Michigan 403 to 395.

With both defenses bending like hell but not completely breaking, field goals made the difference. Andrew Aguila, after missing from 46 yards early, converted on kicks of 28, 35, 44 and 42 yards in regulation. At one point early in the third quarter he gave the Chippewas a 12-10 lead.

After Antonio Brown's kickoff return made the scorer 31-26, LeFevour lead a drive resulting in a TD and then a two point conversion to make it 34-31 Central Michigan with a little over a minute to play in regulation. But Troy's Michael Taylor made a 46 yarder with about half a minute to go to tie it up.

The teams traded TDs in the first OT with LeFevour's 13-yard run matched by a Shawn Southward 1-yard run.

Troy's attempted field goal in the second OT was blocked meaning ANY score by Central Michigan would win it. The Chippewas played it conservatively and set up a 37 yard attempt which Aguila nailed for his fifth field goal of the night. And the celebration was on.

An excellent game which ESPN seemed to be overlooking for much of the evening. And that's a shame.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Speaking of driving in the snow/ice.

Don't be afraid of the former but do be cautious. Don't travel in the latter if you can help it.

If you must travel on ice, wait for a salt/cinder spreader and latch on to it's tail like a remora on a shark. Just be sure to stay far enough back that the particles the truck is spreading hit the road in front of you and not your windshield. You can spot the vehicles of people who have tried this but misjudged their distance. The crack all across the windshield sorta gives it away. By May large numbers of vehicles from certain northern and mostly rural states sport this indicator of the combination of snow/ice/cinder/gravel.

Actually, get some studded tires and you can do pretty well on the ice. They used to run auto races on an oval track on Lake Placid in the '60s using specially studded tires.

If driving in the snow remember one thing: Never, EVER pass the snow plow if his blade is on the road. Even if the plow is going only 20 mph in a 55 mph zone. It's there for a reason and if you peek to the right of the plow you'll probably see the snow/ice/slush shooting off in a lovely curl reminiscent of those from the Maverick's surfing competition off Half Moon Bay.

Remember, too, that the brake peddle is your enemy and so is your accelerator when the roads are snow covered. Keep your foot off the brake as much as possible and if you must use it do so slowly and well in advance of where you want/need to stop. If you are IN a curve, do not use your brake. You will likely go off the edge of the curve if it is slippery as your vehicle will slide in a straight line. If you feel you're going too fast for an approaching curve, slow down using a light touch on the brake--pretend there's a raw egg between your foot and the peddle--or gravity/friction (take your foot off the gas, dummy!). Once in the curve, your accelerator can be used (again, lightly as in egg-and-peddle) to get out of the curve. This works best with front-wheel and four-wheel drive vehicles where you get pulled instead of pushed.

If your vehicle is a rear-wheel, two-wheel drive and the snow is piled up on the road way, park it in your yard, make some hot chocolate and sit in front of the fire. Okay, maybe you can't do that because you have to get home from work/school/play. Use caution as detailed above.

And if you've got an automatic transmission put it into a fixed gear (those are the numbers on the console next to the "D" and "R") or into low (that's the "L"). This is especially true when going up hill. When going up hill you want to maintain a constant velocity--not necessarily a fast one, but constant. If your auto transmission starts to shift on you when you're part way up the slope, it's going to screw up that constant part of your velocity just the tiniest bit and quite possibly cause you to lose traction and set you to spinning your wheels.

If the worst happens and you start to skid, remember that you want to steer into the skid. That is, if the rear end decides to head to the right, you steer to the right. If it heads to the left, you steer to the left. The idea is to keep the front of your vehicle--well--in front! This will allow you to maintain some control as you leave your intended path. Steer the opposite way and at best you'll set your self up to roll onto your side although more than likely you're going to be doing a 360 or worse. And be sure to keep your feet off the brake and off the accelerator! Let friction and gravity do the work until the skid stops. THEN you can lightly press the accelerator or brake as needed to get control of your vehicle.

When I was a kid, my Dad took me out driving on immediately after the first snow storm and showed me how to handle the family car under these conditions. We used the wide open spaces of the school parking lot. An acre or more of black top without concrete curb or grassy barrier between rows. The best words I heard that day were, "Okay, now put her into a skid!" I don't think you can do that sort of thing today. I know my son got a ticket at 12:30 AM for driving in a figure 8 in a vacant mall parking lot back in '00.

Aerie Report, January 6, 2010

I got up early this morning to drive over to Sayre to have the "secondary air injector pumps"--whatever the hell they are--replaced on the Tundra. Under warranty by a few miles so I didn't have to pay the $2200 plus labor it would have cost me. Mechanic's report said something about water intrusion into the pumps. Not so hard to figure out how that might happen with the extremely wet weather we had this past summer and the mud that generated.

Not a bad way to spend the morning except for the inch of snow I had to sweep off the truck before I began, the icy/slushy highway I had to traverse to get there and back, the fearful drivers I had to endure, etc.

I don't mind cautious drivers when the weather calls for caution as this morning's did, however I do have problems with drivers so afraid of the road that they will travel 20-25 miles below the speed limit on flat, straight roads. I'm sure these drivers (I came up behind two of them) have been on these roads before. I'm also sure that they were on their way to work (it was 7 to 8 AM, after all) which would mean they know the road pretty well. Therefore, it must have been their own skill in which they lacked confidence. Fine, slow down around curves or going down slopes when there's some meltwater on the road that could become ice. Watch out for those bridges and overpasses that "freeze before roadway" as they say. And remember to go straight when you go across one of those bridges--curves are not your friend. But for goodness sakes do not keep hitting your breaks when you "accidentally" find yourself going 36 mph in a 55 mph zone.


I mentioned that it snowed overnight...again. At least it was slightly warmer. It only got down to 17 degrees. Of course it only got UP to 24 during the day. While the snow stopped early in the day and didn't return, the winds did pick up and made it sown right nippy out there even at 24.

The temperatures will take a dip for the next few days but are supposed to get up to near freezing on Sunday. Which is also the first day they say we will see Old Sol. Two inches of snow expected from showers each day between now and then. Not enough to do much with at any one time. Can't shovel it, can't blow it, can't snow shoe on it, can't ski on it. Totally worthless except as an annoyance. THAT it's real good at.

Iowa 24, Georgia Tech 14

In the Orange Bowl.

I only watched the first half of this game as I had to get up early this morning to get the truck taken care of, but from the outset you could see that Iowa had come to play--no, make that "come to win."

Truthfully, I thought the Yellow Jackets were going to run away with this game. I thought their ground game would find multiple ways through or around the Hawkeye line. Boy was I wrong. The long break at the end of the regular season allowed the Iowa coaches to come up with and implement an excellent defensive scheme that shut down the Tech runners.

I had also forgotten that Rick Stanzi would be back at QB for Iowa. Those two quick touchdown passes in the first quarter had to have had a psychological affect on the Yellow Jackets. Certainly it caused them to play under much pressure.

The scary thing for the rest of the Big 10 has got to be that most of the Iowa squad will be back next year. Ohio State and Penn State better not be looking over their shoulders, 'cause Iowa won't be there. They'll be up front!