Wednesday, August 31, 2011

College Football 2011, Preweek 1

College football season is upon us. Murray State and Louisville start it all off at 6 PM EDT Thursday and, while neither is likely to finish the season in the Top 25 ranks, they do have the distinction of kicking off the 2011 collegiate season. Games will continue over the weekend including both Sunday and Monday since the NFL doesn’t officially start its season until Thursday, September 8th.

As usual, most of the games during the first week are, shall we say, mismatches. The better team is looking for a patsy relatively easy tune up game and the poorer teams are looking to score some cash—and maybe some lightening in a bottle. (Remember Appalachian State taking down Michigan a few years ago? AS plays at Virginia Tech Saturday.) Most of these games pitting uneven teams are predictable, there’s always one or two that throw a scare into a team aspiring to a high ranking and/or a conference championship.

The bulk of the Top 25 teams should have no problem this weekend. Some will be trying to figure out who will be their starters. Some are trying to figure out who will be allowed to play whether due toNCAA or criminal investigations (Miami of Florida, LSU). Miami (Fla) plays Monday night at Maryland. #4 LSU hosts #3 Oregon Saturday night in what looks to be THE match of the week.

The only other game featuring two teams ranked in the preseason Top 25 sees #5 Boise State playing at #19 Georgia on Saturday night.

Below are the Top 25 in both the AP and Coaches’ polls along with each team 2010 final ranking in the BCS and their 2010 record. An NR means the team is not ranked in the Top 25 in that particular poll.[UPDATE: was late to the party. They finally updated their rankings of all 120 college teams on Wednesday morning. I've added their rankings to the list below. The three rankings are now, in order, the AP/Coaches'/CBSSports.]

1/1/1 Oklahoma (#7, 12-2) The Sooners host Tulsa's Golden Hurricane Saturday night.

2/2/2 Alabama (#16, 10-3) The Crimson Tide gets its season rolling Saturday afternoon at home against the Golden Flashes of Kent State.

3/3/4 Oregon (#2, 12-1) The Ducks open their season on the road against #4 LSU Saturday night.

4/4/3 LSU (#11, 11-2) The Tigers host the #3 Oregon Ducks Saturday night.

5/7/7 Boise State (#10, 12-1) The Broncos start their season on the road against the #19 Georgia Bulldogs Saturday night.

6/5/6 Florida State (#23, 10-4) The Seminoles host the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks Saturday afternoon.

7/6/9 Stanford (#4, 12-1) The Cardinal host San Jose State Saturday afternoon.

8/9/10 Texas A&M (#17, 9-4) The Aggies host the SMU Mustangs on Sunday night.

9/8/12 Oklahoma State (#14, 11-2) The Cowboys host the Ragin Cajuns of Louisiana-Lafayette Saturday night.

10/11/11 Nebraska (#18, 10-4) The Cornhuskers host the Chattanooga Mocs on Saturday afternoon.

11/10/5 Wisconsin (#5, 11-2) The Badgers host the UNLV Rebels in a Thursday night game, September 1st.

12/12/16 South Carolina (#20, 9-5) The Gamecocks will play on the road Saturday night against the East Carolina Pirates.

13/13/8 Virginia Tech (#13, 10-3) The Hokies host Appalachian State Mountaineers on Saturday afternoon.

14/15/13 TCU (#3, 13-0) The Horned Frogs will be on the road to face the Baylor Bears on Friday night.

15/14/17 Arkansas (#8, 10-3) The Razorbacks host Missouri State Bears Saturday evening.

16/18/21 Notre Dame (8-5) The Fighting Irish will host South Florida Bulls Saturday afternoon.

17/17/15 Michigan State (#9, 11-2) The Spartans host The Youngstown State Penguins (Penguins? Really?) Friday night.

18/16/14 Ohio State (#6, 12-1) The Buckeyes host the Akron Zips Saturday afternoon.

19/22/20 Georgia (6-7) The Bulldogs play host to #5 Boise State Broncos Saturday night.

20/20/22 Mississippi State (#21, 9-4) The Bulldogs will play at Memphis Tigers Thursday night.

21/21/24 Missouri (#12, 10-3) The Tigers host the Miami of Ohio RedHawks Saturday afternoon.

22/23/25 Florida (8-5) The Gators host the Florida Atlantic Owls Saturday evening.

23/19/19 Auburn (#1, 14-0) The Tigers will host Utah State Aggies Saturday afternoon.

24/NR/18 West Virginia (#22, 9-4) The Mountaineers will host the Thundering Herd of Marshall on Sunday afternoon in a backyard brawl.

25/NR/NR Southern California (8-5) The Trojans will tee it up at home against the Golden Gophers of Minnesota Saturday afternoon.

NR/24/NR Texas (5-7) The Longhorns host the Rice Owls on Saturday night.

NR/25/23 Penn State (7-6) The Nittany Lions will host the Indiana State Sycamores Saturday afternoon.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What's Next?
Climate change will increase mental illness.

There have been quite a few folks in the blogsphere mentioning a paper , prepared for the Climate Institute, titled A Climate of Suffering: The Real Cost of Living with Inaction on Climate Change. It was written up in The Sydney Morning Herald by Erik Jensen Health in an article titled: Mental illness rise linked to climate.

Health says:
RATES of mental illnesses including depression and post-traumatic stress will increase as a result of climate change, a report to be released today says.

The paper, prepared for the Climate Institute, says loss of social cohesion in the wake of severe weather events related to climate change could be linked to increased rates of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress and substance abuse.

As many as one in five people reported ''emotional injury, stress and despair'' in the wake of these events.

Three things to note here:

1- The paper was prepared FOR and paid FOR BY one of the leading proponents of anthropogenic global warming so it is not surprising it would tout some harmful affects from global warming.

2- This is Australia we are talking about here. The might just think THIS was a documentary. Or maybe THIS.

3- Given Al Gore's recent rants and off-the-deep-end statements (see here and here), they may be right. The man is unhinged.

[UPDATE: Anthony Watts of Watts Up With That? posted on this fallacious little article linking mental illness to climate change here. He points out that the move from a northern state to Florida--even for a week's vacation at Disney World--would have a magnitude larger affect than global warming has had in the last century. As he also points out, this is not a new linkage. "This is recycled crazy from 2008. Climate change and mental health [by] Prabhat Kumar Chand* and Pratima Murthy" and Mr. Watts concludes:"Sounds familiar, there might be plagiarism afoot, better send in John Mashey. o_O"]


Well now, this goes a long way to explaining why all the Texans here in north-central PA drilling for natural gas and laying pipe are outside wearing flannel shirts and smiles in the "heat" of our day (currently mid-70s). They must have felt right at home when the summer high of 102 degrees hit for two straight days back in July.

US Energy Facts

I saw this posted over at Maggie's Farm. It needs to be spread far and wide.

You won't here this coming from President Obama. He and the environmentalists have decided we're to become energy poor. Unless it comes from nuclear...wait that was two decades, that was before they discovered windmills kill birds, bats and, desert tortoises....Well, energy poor.

You want to reduce the cost of energy and boost the American economy? We could do that now.
You want energy independence? We could do it now.
You want to reduce the trade deficit? We could do that now.
You want to tell the Arabs in the Middle East--unsound and unsavory suppliers of so much of our oil--to go pound sand? We could do that now.

What's that? You're worried about climate change? Hell, CO2 is not driving climate change, it's following increased temperatures...just like it always has. Besides CO2 promotes plant growth and is a miniscule part of the atmosphere (currently just below 400 parts per million...and that's really tiny..less than 0.04% by volume). Despite the findings of the USEPA, CO2 is hardly the deadly chemical they make it out to be. (Twenty times the current level to make you drowse? That's toxic? And plants love that 1% CO2. They gobble it up. "...elevated CO2 levels cause increased growth reflected in the harvestable yield of crops, with wheat, rice and soybean all showing increases in yield of 12–14% under elevated CO2 in FACE experiments.") And warm temperatures kill far fewer people than cold temperatures do. ("...Palutikof et al. (1996) calculate that in England and Wales for a 1 °C temperature rise the reduced deaths from cold outweigh the increased deaths from heat, resulting in a reduction in annual average mortality of 7000, while Keatinge et al. (2000) “suggest that any increases in mortality due to increased temperatures would be outweighed by much larger short term declines in cold related mortalities.” Cold-related deaths are far more numerous than heat-related deaths in the United States, Europe, and almost all countries outside the tropics.") Only mad dogs and Englishmen remain out in the noon day sun when shade is available. Warm temperatures also promote much nicer scenery. Check it out.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Drill Baby Drill

Those guys from Minnesota are at it again. This is one of their best parodies yet. A take off of Chuck Berry's Johnnie B. Goode.

(First seen at Theo Spark's Last of the Few)

Mmm, mmm, Good!

Fourteen quarts of tomato sauce

Fourteen quarts of tomato sauce ready for the pantry. And another going into the making of sausage and peppers as I type. Not bad from a bushel of beefsteak tomatoes. I probably would have gotten more if these had been Romas, but you can only can what they have at the stand and I've not seen any Romas for sale.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


With cool temperatures (under 65 degrees) and a stiff breeze blowing all day, it was a perfect day to be messing with lots of hot stuff on the stove. So this afternoon I reduced the bushel of tomatoes Terry brought home the other day to about 20-22 quarts of pureed tomato this afternoon. Two pots of that are currently simmering on the stove being reduced to a thickness Terry feels will be best for spaghetti sauce at some time in the future. A third pot is awaiting its turn on the low heat.

We're hoping to get at least a dozen quart jars canned and on the shelf tomorrow.

Immediately after the Storm

Yesterday I mentioned that the weather folks were saying that the rainfall around the Aerie would be only about 1/3 of an inch and that the bulk of Irene's fury would stay well east of I-81.

They were wrong. The rain started here around 9 PM on Saturday and didn't stop until approximately 2 this afternoon. As for the amount of rain: 1.5 inches in the rain gauge. We should get no more as I can see some blue sky out there in the west. The winds (more of a stiff breeze actually) were coming out of the east last night and the north for much of today. They are still coming out of the northwest at around 20-25 mph. As a result, we have had temperatures below 65 degrees all day. Thank you Canada!

Terry's Mom weathered the storm pretty well despite the eye of the hurricane passing almost directly overhead. (She's in Linden, NJ.) She's got some water coming into the basement through the walls but her sump pump is doing it's job and keeping the water outside where it belongs. Thank goodness she never lost power. She says there's hardly any street flooding in her area.

My sister, in Pequannock, NJ has also had some water in her basement. This is the first time since 1984 that she's had a problem. The ground around her home was pretty well saturated before Irene showed up so it's not completely surprising.

Terry's friend with property on Lake Parsippany and a second home on LBI says both have survived the high water. She does say she's never seen Lake Par as high as it is but it's a dammed lake so it's unlikely to go too high unless something blocks the spillway.

As for the folks in Virginia, we've heard nothing. Irene was still a Cat 2 when it went passed them and, although weakening, could have still done considerable damage. Hopefully they and their homes are okay.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Grass and Garden Report,
Saturday, August 27,2011

I've been going to physical therapy for the sprained right knee the last two weeks. The folks down at Elite are really great and are pushing to get me back on my feet and doing what I can with the twin knee noise makers "Snap" and "Pop." Add the new medication the orthopedist prescribed for the arthritic affliction and I was beginning to feel nearly normal again. (Well, as normal as I can be with these damn knees.)

As I stood out on the deck, I looked at the blossoming weeds and clover in a lawn grown high enough to hide my shoes when I go forth to pluck onions from the ground and cherry tomatoes from the one plant we've still got. The white flowers of the clover and the yellow flowers of one of the pea family looked pretty but they had to go. I last cut the grass somewhere around August 1 and it really needed to be done. I also hadn't had any exercise since August 5 when I sprained my knee.

Sooooo...I gassed up Mr. Craftsman and, along with Misters Briggs and Stratton went for a walk. A long, slow, somewhat painful walk. The grass was so high that even waiting until this afternoon didn't give it time enough to dry completely. It was so tall that I couldn't just let the mower mulch it back into the lawn. It was so tall that a side discharge, while possible, would have left rows and rows of clippings to be raked up. So I used the bag grass catcher instead. And the grass was so tall that the bag had to be emptied after about 50 feet of mowing. So I would start the mower. Push the mower 50 feet. Stop the mower. Empty the bag. Start the mower. Push the mower 50 feet. Stop the mower. Empty the bag. Over and over. I've now got a nicely cut lawn and a freakin' huge heap of grass clippings.

And sore knees.

I soaked them (and the rest of my sorry hide) in a nice hot bath when I finished and that helped a bit. I'm glad I don't have to do it again right away.


Tomorrow I tackle the bushel of tomatoes Terry brought home from the market yesterday. I'll wash, boil, mash, simmer to the proper thickness, and can them for home made spaghetti sauce this winter. Terry also got some sausage and will whip up some spaghetti sauce to freeze--if she can find room in the freezer. There's a heap of string beans and zucchini bread in there at the moment.


Speaking of string beans and zucchini...The darn plants do NOT know when to quit!. Terry's been getting a quart or more of string beans ever other day. And they are still flowering!

Zucchini have been super prolific also. Every two days there's another three or four coming into the house. Terry's been hunting up zucchini recipes to use up what we're getting as we get it, but the zucchini are winning. There are six eight on the counter as I type. I hate to admit that I'm enjoying some of the things Terry has been doing with the zucchini, but I am. I will, however, say no to the recipe for zucchini cobbler. Muffins are okay. I figure they're just miniature zucchini breads. But cobbler? Seriously?

And a slew of cucumbers waiting to be turned in to pickles. There's about a peck of cukes waiting pickling. And suddenly, after looking like hell all summer, those plants are starting to produce in abundance.

We're both about ready to pull up the bean and zucchini plants and call it a season. It's like catching walleye for the table. You wait and fish with anticipation for that first nice 18" walleye and feel great when you get it into the boat. The next 10 or 12 are great too. But that 100th fish...Okay. bad example that 100th walleye would be just as great as the first...even if you were allowed to keep them all and still had to clean 'em. You can NEVER have too many walleye filets in the freezer. NEVER!


Like almost everyone on the eastern seaboard, I've been following the progress of Hurricane Irene.

I'm sitting here looking at maps and trying to figure out how some folks we know are making out. Folks who moved to Virginia Beach and Gloucester, VA (right across the mouth of Chesapeake Bay). At this moment they're (hopefully) elsewhere. AccuHunch is reporting over 15 inches of rain already in the southeast portion of Virginia and Irene is swirling around an eye that appears to be right off Virginia Beach.

Most of New Jersey is already getting rain and bands of rain have swept as far west as Binghampton, NY where there was a report of over 1 inch. Same for down near Lewisburg, PA. One long, skinny but very intense line of showers down that way has dropped over an inch of rain.

The Aerie will see none of that. We may get a third of an inch of rain overnight but it looks like the storm track has shifted slightly eastward and lands west of I-81 will be spared the wrath of Irene.

Terry spoke to her Mom today. The old gal lives in Linden, NJ about 4 miles west of the Kill van Kull on Newark Bay and only a couple dozen feet above sea level--maybe. Terry went through a check list of things Mom needed to do (get food stuffs and anything else you want to save off the floor in the basement, plug up the basement sinks and shower, fill your freezer with ice cubes--use water bottles if need be, fill the bath tub, roll up your porch awnings, get the garbage cans inside the garage, fill your car's gas tank, etc.).

Mom is still of the mind that, "Oh. It's going over Staten Island. It won't affect me!"

Terry tried to explain that the strong winds will be reaching out 75-100 miles on eaither side of the track and even the rains alone will create flooding problems. I think she got through to her.

Later, Terry got an email from her cousin Nancy--Joe's sister. Her Mom lives across the street from Terry's and she (Nancy) stopped in to see if they were prepared. Nancy said Mom had done most all the things Terry had said to do and was pretty well set. Nancy reminded Mom that there was an older phone in the basement that would work even if the power went out. She also told Mom that she (again Nancy) would be staying over at her Mom's house for the next few days so if she had need, she should call. (Jessica is still in the house with Grandma and should be able to lend a hand.)

Not much else to do for them from 200 miles away. Except say a prayer. And that's been going on for a while now.

A Reminder of a Marine in Need

About ten days ago I wrote of a young Marine Captain that needs to renovate his small house so as to accommodate his new life style, one that includes a left leg lost to an IED in Afghanistan. (A Wounded Warrior needs help.)

As with any house renovation the unexpected becomes the norm. While preparing to move load bearing interior walls, it was discovered that the floor joists were rotting and would need replacing. Needless to say, this has jacked up the cost of the renovation considerably.

If you can help out even a little--even if just the price of a cup of coffee or the Sunday paper, Captain Max Frank and his family would be most appreciative.

Donations can be made at Bring Him Home.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Aerie Report, August 25, 2011

Thunderstorms rolled through the Aerie's environs overnight and showers--some very heavy showers--persistently hung around all morning and this afternoon. The result was 1.25 inches of water in the rain gauge. As dry as we were during much of July and the first week or two of August, we've more than made up for it during the last two weeks. Hard to believe that I had to drag the hose out to water the garden only a short time ago. Talk about roller coaster numbers.

And there's a hurricane moving north. We should be far enough west so as to see only 40-50 mph gusts and considerable rain, but one never knows. In 1972, Agnes swept up the Chesapeake and right through this area. Flooding was unbelievable. As a result of her rampage, lots of levees and even several Corps of Engineer lakes (Hammond, Tioga and Cowenesque) were constructed in the immediate area. More were built along the Susquehanna River to the east near Wilkes Barre, Scranton and Binghamton.
[I've just been reminded that Agnes actually dawdled over Corning, NY for a bit which is why the flooding was unprecedented. Having a hurricane (or tropical storm) sit in one place for a period of time can, indeed, result in huge amounts of rainfall.]

It currently looks like Irene will come up along the New Jersey shore into the eastern boros of NYC on Saturday Sunday. Family and friends in New Jersey and the NYC area need to take precautions ASAP. But that's still two days away. That's a long time in hurricane terms.


Had another session of PT this afternoon and the knee is feeling much better. Even step up exercises went well with little or no pain on a 4" step. I'm still experiencing some pain on the normal steps around the house, however, as the knee doesn't like those 7-9" risers.

Finally go the medication for the arthritic condition in both knees so we'll see how that affects the pain level. Nothing short of surgery will stop the snap, crackle, and pop of my knees' percussive duet though. So far, none of the professionals I've consulted has mentioned that four letter word "DIET," but it's just a matter of time.
Heck, even I know I should shed 30-40 pounds if I want the knees to feel happier.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Aerie Report, August 24, 2011: Hither and yon.

Terry and I spent a long morning at the orthopedist's and running a few errands.

Our first stop was the Guthrie Clinic in Corning where they took more x-rays of my knees since the ones taken at St. Luke's in Utica were not to their liking. (At St. Luke's, all the x-rays were while I was laying down--no weight on the joint. The folks here in Corning wanted a more realistic picture of what was happening in the joint and, therefore, had me standing up to have the x-rays taken.)

First, the good news:
The MRI I had taken last week and the x-rays indicated NO tears of any ligaments or tendons. Anti-inflammatory medications, rest and PT should help reduce the pain caused by the injury I sustained.

Now the bad:
The x-rays clearly show developing arthritis in both knees. Spurs and a thinning of the cushioning cartilage are to blame for the chronic pain I've been feeling in the knees. Again, anti-inflammatory meds should help. If not, there are cortisone shots as well as others that can relieve the more or less constant ache. Should that not bring relief or should my condition worsen, there is a possible need for knee joint replacement--but that's years from now; after other options are tried.

And now the worse news:
That pocket of calcified tissue the x-rays found an inch or so above my right knee needs to come out. It is a small globule of calcified crud imbedded in the right quad and is (probably) benign but
is definitely hampering movement and causing some pain in that area. (Lab tests will be done on this tissue to determine its true nature. They have no idea what may have caused it.) Surgery is scheduled for September 15th.

Meanwhile, I am to start some meds for the knee joints and continue going to PT for as long as the insurance company will allow.


After the clinic visit, Terry and I headed east to Horseheads to Michael's so she could get some findings for a beaded pin project she is doing.


Then it was back to Mainesburg so I could buy a new chainsaw (Husqvarna Rancher with a 20" blade) so as to be ready for whatever Irene decides to do. Right now (Wednesday at 3:30 PM) it looks like the strom will swing a bit to the east and hit the east end of Long Island before moving on to Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard. (Shoot wasn't having to host the Presidential entourage enough for the folks on the Vineyard?)


Then to the drugstore for the meds, but the prescription hadn't been called in yet. (Called he clinic when we finally got home and asked them to please call the CVS in Mansfield. That was 1-1/2 hours ago. No call from the pharmacy yet.)


Lunch at Yorkholo in Mansfield where I enjoyed an excellent burger/beef melt and a nice lager with a very high ABV (alcohol by volume) rating of 6.5% that was named after Pine Creek. Terry had a chicken breast sandwich and lemonade.


After lunch, we went over to Wally World--just in case the clinic sent the prescription there instead. They didn't. So we did the next best thing and purchased two cartons of ice cream: Butter Pecan and Mint Chocolate Chip. Good for what ails ya! Especially with Hershey's chocolate sauce on top.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Aerie Report, August, 23, 2011

Did my second day of physical therapy today. After the first session (Friday) was was really hurting, but after today's things seem to be much better. The last two days I've progressed to being able to walk relatively normally on smooth, flat surfaces. Even a short walk across the lawn didn't produce pain in the right knee.

Going up or down stairs is still a painful experience in which I feel the knee will give out at any moment so I have to be sure to have a firm grip on the railing or remember to lead with the bad leg when going down and the good leg when going up and take the steps one at a time.

The therapists have me doing range of motion exercises at the moment. Many of them require bending the knee but with no weight on the leg. Even then, the knee sounds like a flamenco dancer stamping her feet AND playing her castanets every time I bend it. Or maybe it's just Bill “Bojangles” Robinson doin' his thang.

In any event, I go up to Corning, NY tomorrow to see an orthopedist. I'll let him (or her) poke and prod, look at the x-rays, read the MRI analysis and doctors' reports and come up whit his (or her) own conclusion. I'll also bring the x-rays from the left knee taken two years ago when I sprained that one.


Back in NJ, my niece's husband just had arthroscopic surgery on one of his knees today. He says it's been bothering him since high school, but last week he tweeked it and felt something tear (meniscus). He was on the job as a carpenter, though, so his was a workers comp kind of thing and, thus, got a bit more rapid treatment than I have been getting. Mine is just one of those "You idiot! What were you thinking?" kind of injuries.

Did the earth move for you?

So. I hear we allegedly had an earthquake on the east coast today. (At approximately 1:50 PM EDT...they say.) Well, Neither Terry nor I felt the dang thing here at the Aerie! I feel deprived!

Of course, with the heavy duty truck traffic along the road for gas drilling/pipeline work and before that windmill installation, the Aerie has seen its share of the old shake, rattle and roll--usually accompanied by a cloud of dust and a grinding of gears.

The folks at Elite Physical Therapy ("Where PT stands for Pain and Torture!") in Mansfield all say they felt it.

Anyway, just to lighten the mood a bit, here's a look back to the Animaniacs take on earthquakes.

Monarchs and Moths

Over the course of several years, I've been pulling up most of the milkweed I find around the yard. There are a few pockets that remain, however, including a half dozen plants directly under the western corner of the deck. A few weeks ago I noticed one of these plants was being heavily attacked by what turned out to be the caterpillars of the Milkweed Tussock Moth. (more here.) The moth itself is rather bland being a nondescript light brown in color and sort of a stumpy looking thing of only an inch or so in length. The caterpillar is anything but drab.

The eggs of the Milkweed Tussock Moth are laid in large clusters and 50 or more caterpillars may completely skeletonize a milkweed plant in a day or so. That's what was happening under the deck. Entire leaves of milkweed were being devoured with only the ribs of the leaf (the part carrying the latex sap) were left behind. A week after I spotted them, the caterpillars disappeared. Where they went, I've no idea. They left behind several healthy milkweed plants however.

Today there was one lonely Milkweed Tussock Moth caterpillar.

Milkweed Tussock Moth Caterpillar

Also today, I spotted a different and more familiar caterpillar feeding on the young leaves of the milkweeds--the yellow-white-black striped Monarch Butterfly caterpillars were at work. The Monarch may go through three or four generations in a single summer. Each except the last will live as a butterfly for only a few weeks. The final generation usually emerges from the chrysalis about the time the butterfly's favorite fall meal, goldenrod, comes into flower. This is the group of Monarchs that migrates southward during the autumn.

Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar

The goldenrod around the yard is just now starting to turn yellow so this group of caterpillars--and I counted at least six on two plants--will be the ones to make that long journey. Eat hardy, my friends!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

How Irish Dancing Started

By now everyone has seen the Lords of the Dance or River Dance or one of those Irish clog dancing groups. But did you ever wonder how it all got started? Well wonder no more! Here's the explanation you've been waiting for:

How Irish Dancing Started

NPR’s Top 100 Science-Fiction, Fantasy Books

I came across this over at Mostly Cajun’s place and, taking a look at his bolded titles started thinking about what I’ve read from this list. (Here's Cajun's list, BTW.)

If you care to play along and follow the NPR (US National Public Radio) meme, copy this list, putting in Bold those you have read.

1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien
2. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams

3. Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card
4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert
5. A Song Of Ice And Fire Series, by George R. R. Martin (In progress. it’s on the Kindle) [Don't have a Kindle. I'm a paper kinda guy.]
6. 1984, by George Orwell
7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
8. The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov
9. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
10. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
11. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman

12. The Wheel Of Time Series, by Robert Jordan
13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
14. Neuromancer, by William Gibson
15. Watchmen, by Alan Moore
16. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov
17. Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein

18. The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss
19. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
20. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
21. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick
22. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
23. The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King
24. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke

25. The Stand, by Stephen King
26. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson
27. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury
28. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
29. The Sandman Series, by Neil Gaiman
30. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
31. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein
32. Watership Down, by Richard Adams
33. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey
34. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein
35. A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller
36. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells
37. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne
38. Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keys
39. The War Of The Worlds, by H.G. Wells
40. The Chronicles Of Amber, by Roger Zelazny
41. The Belgariad, by David Eddings
42. The Mists Of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley

43. The Mistborn Series, by Brandon Sanderson
44. Ringworld, by Larry Niven
45. The Left Hand Of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin
46. The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien
47. The Once And Future King, by T.H. White
48. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman

49. Childhood’s End, by Arthur C. Clarke
50. Contact, by Carl Sagan
51. The Hyperion Cantos, by Dan Simmons
52. Stardust, by Neil Gaiman
53. Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson
54. World War Z, by Max Brooks
55. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle
56. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman
57. Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett
58. The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson

59. The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold
60. Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett
61. The Mote In God’s Eye, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle

62. The Sword Of Truth, by Terry Goodkind
63. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy
64. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke
65. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson
66. The Riftwar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist
67. The Shannara Trilogy, by Terry Brooks
68. The Conan The Barbarian Series, by R.E. Howard

69. The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb
70. The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
71. The Way Of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson
72. A Journey To The Center Of The Earth, by Jules Verne
73. The Legend Of Drizzt Series, by R.A. Salvatore
74. Old Man’s War, by John Scalzi
75. The Diamond Age, by Neil[sic] Stephenson [Should be NEAL Stephenson]
76. Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke
77. The Kushiel’s Legacy Series, by Jacqueline Carey
78. The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin
79. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury

80. Wicked, by Gregory Maguire
81. The Malazan Book Of The Fallen Series, by Steven Erikson
82. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde
83. The Culture Series, by Iain M. Banks
84. The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart
85. Anathem, by Neal Stephenson
86. The Codex Alera Series, by Jim Butcher
87. The Book Of The New Sun, by Gene Wolfe
88. The Thrawn Trilogy, by Timothy Zahn
89. The Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldan
90. The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock
91. The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury

92. Sunshine, by Robin McKinley
93. A Fire Upon The Deep, by Vernor Vinge
94. The Caves Of Steel, by Isaac Asimov
95. The Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson
96. Lucifer’s Hammer, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
97. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis
98. Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville
99. The Xanth Series, by Piers Anthony
100. The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis

I tend to consume most of the books from a single author IF I find a few of his/her books an interesting, fun read. (See Anthony, Asimov, Bradbury, Brooks, Butcher, Heinlein, LeGuin, McCafferty, Pratchett, Verne, etc.)

From this list alone, I would guess I've got to get up to speed on both Neal Stephenson and Neil Gaiman. I've read a few by each but not all that they've produced. (Daughter Jessica kept pushing them but I had others on my plate at the time.) As for the prolific Mr. King, I've read a few of his works but find the straight horror stuff not to my liking. The Dark Tower Series, however, is NOT horror--weird and unusual, yes, but not horror.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Aerie Report, Morning, August 19, 2011

Terry and I made the run up to the Bolt Hole yesterday to retrieve the Tundra, trailer and ATV. The weather was perfect for a round trip of some 450 miles. (Took us 10 hours including stops and time to do our thing at the Bolt Hole.)

We found that Mark had already hitched the trailer to the truck which made our job a whole lot easier. I don't know if he did so as a means of protecting the trailer from possible mischief or in preparation for our arrival but in either case, it was much appreciated. All I had to do was load the ATV on the trailer and we were good. Mark had also cut all the grass in the front yard--again--which makes the place look lived in to the casual observer.

While we were there we also picked up the forgotten eggs and 20 or so cans of beer that were inadvertently left behind as well as a few other items that needed to come south.

Terry did the driving north and we reconfirmed the fact that I am a terrible passenger (at least when she's the driver). She says she's learned over the years to curb her criticism of my driving but I'm much to vocal and demonstrative when I'm in the passenger seat. Moi?

I find that when I'm rested (as I was going up to the Bolt Hole) I'm much worse than if I'm tired (like after driving for many hours). I am a horrible passenger when I'd rather be behind the wheel.

Oh well, at least my knee behaved reasonably well.


In other news, today, August 19th, is our 39th anniversary. Seems like only yesterday....


I've a 1:30 appointment with the physical therapists today. Hopefully, a little messaging and supervised exercises will get it right. If not, there's the orthopedist next week.

Two weeks after the twisting of my right knee it still pains me when I walk--especially if stairs or uneven surfaces are involved. The left knee is starting to complain too as it has to do much of the difficult stuff like taking the lead going up and down steps. Flat surfaces aren't too bad and I can manage without even using a cane. On rare occasions I can almost (almost!) forget that there is something wrong. On steps and uneven surfaces like the lawn or gravel driveway...not so much. I constantly have to remind myself that the good leg goes UP first while the bad leg goes DOWN first--with the cane. And, for crying out loud, ONE STEP AT A TIME.


My physical labor (firewood, cutting grass, climbing ladders, painting the roof, etc.) prior to the incident had helped to bring my weight down to around 220 and had me feeling in pretty good shape too, but the inactivity of the last two weeks hasn't helped at all. I'm afraid to get on the scale as it might shout, "One at a time!" at me. And that notch on the belt I had gained? Forget about it.


Speaking of cutting grass...The Aerie needs it badly. The last cut was nearly three weeks ago. I'll probably have to give it a try this weekend. Good thing there's now plenty of beer, Jack and pain killers available. The trick will be to determine which to use. I certainly would not want to mix 'em.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Wounded Warrior needs help

I've been bitching and moaning about by knee problems the last week or so. (Well it hurts!)

(By the way, my solo outing last evening went well. Made it all the way across the county with nary a twinge in the knee while driving the manual transmission on the Jeep. Tomorrow Terry and I will head north to get the Tundra and, perhaps, the utility trailer and ATV.)

Okay, back to what I was going to say. Yeah, my knee hurts and pains me, but there are men and women out there with far greater hurts and needs than I. One of the m is Captain Max Frank.

Captain Frank is a buddy of my nephew Brian. His father, a judge, performed the service at Brian and Vicky's wedding in Milwaukee in late May. At that time, Captain Frank was in Afghanistan serving his country in one of the more dangerous hot spots in that God forsaken place. In mid-June, his company came under attack via IEDs--several of them in rapid succession. Captain Frank was hit and hit badly. He's lost most of his left leg as a result.

While medical treatment has been excellent, the government does not supply help in remodeling his home to make it handicapped accessible. It's going to cost a pretty penny to do that and he and his young wife could use some help.

Here's a link to Bring Him Home a web site dedicated to doing just that for Captain Frank. You can read about how he got into this predicament and what they need to do to get him back into his own house. Go read it and give this wounded warrior and his wife a helping hand if you can.

Meanwhile, here's the email I got from Brian:
Friends of Capt. Max Frank,

We’ve got a quick favor to ask and are writing to you with news both happy and sad. Happy in that Max is progressing like a champ ... like a Marine. He’s healing both physically and mentally despite the long road ahead, a road that will lead to independence and home. It is Max’s home in particular that we are writing to you about.

Sadly, home is a bittersweet thought for Max because his home is not within his current physical capacity. The good Captain’s home, like many around Camp Pendleton, might have been built with a Marine in mind, but a Marine with two feet - something that isn’t universal in these days when we ask them to defend us.

Max, Anna, and Mr. Stubby (his sense of humor has not been amputated) are currently living in a hotel, for the privilege of a wheel chair ramp, wide hallways, and an accessible toilet and shower. Our government, while “...of the people, for the people and by the people...”, has some limitations when it comes to taking care of the people who take care of it.

It may surprise most of you that in order to qualify for a Veteran’s Administration grant to remodel a bathroom, a wounded warrior needs to lose two limbs! The good news is Max does not qualify; the bad news is that without changes to his old home, he would have to hop over the tub and stand on one foot to take a shower. His prosthetic foot must be removed when he showers, so we have designed a bathroom that is handicap accessible and also has a bench seat and a hand held shower faucet. During the long journey to receiving his prosthesis and getting back to normal life, he’s bound to a wheelchair or walker, so some heavy remodeling is being done to widen the hallway and doors. Neither project is cheap, but both necessary to get back his mobility, self-reliance, and home.

As much as the lack of government support in this area is appalling, his medical care has been excellent and the attention to his physical therapy, in which Max is flourishing, is phenomenal. This is where we take over. Uncle Sam figures that he’s done his bit, now it’s our turn.

No problem, we’re up to the challenge. That’s why we have Bring Him Home

We may call ourselves patriots of this fine country which he defends; now we humbly ask that you call yourself supporters as well. Max has done his duty, without equivocation, so now it is time we do ours. Please dig into your pockets for the paper and plastic that can now help where handshakes, letters, and embraces cannot. Add up all those birthdays, holidays, Tuesdays, beers at the bar, and double downs on eleven that you were planning to spend, roll them up and make one big gesture today, when it’s needed most, to help renovate Max’s house to make it feel like home.

Think about it while you’re standing in the shower or walking down the hall, stumbling for that 2 a.m. bathroom relief or while you’re out for that morning jog. There are small physical victories in these acts that not all of us appreciate, equaled by greater moral victories won by giving freely to those we love who are in need. Please consider giving a meaningful amount.

While this Marine had no problem dwelling in a cinderblock and dirt base in the middle of the desert, showering with water jugs, or making a commode with a shovel, he now faces bigger challenges back home. A man’s home is his castle, but it turns out that some draw bridges aren’t handicap accessible. The two steps to get into his house might as well be a moat and the narrow hallways inside aren’t much better. 1960's bathroom architecture was not designed with a prosthetic foot or walker in mind, and the high sided tubs won’t make for the most pleasant, or safe of mornings. These are the things that only new walls, fixtures, and our generosity can fix.

Thank you for thinking of Max, Anna, and his family. Thank you for thinking of all our fighting service men and women. That phrase is usually followed by “at home and abroad” and it never felt more poignant. The war doesn’t stop when a Marine returns. He’s fought to get this far, please click on the link below to help bring him the last step home.

Bring Him Home

Semper Fi,

Brian Cole and Brook Benson

P.S. Please pass this on to anyone who knows Max, your family, friends, coworkers, and any independently wealthy patriots that you know. Let’s do the right thing and help our friend, who is a Marine far too self-reliant and proud to ask for our assistance of his own accord. Thank you.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Oh! The irony!

Study: An hour of TV can shorten your life by 22 minutes

That's the title of a report about a study by a group of scientists at the School of Population Health at the University of Queensland. it's posted...wait for it...on the MSNBC web site.

So, I would guess, what with all those viewers MSNBC hasn't got, that MSNBC is sorta doing a public service and extending the life of millions thousands of Americans. Gee! Thanks MSNBC!

(Of course the opposite is true. FOX News can be called evil because it HAS all those viewers. Heh.)

(h/t to Hot Air.)

Texas, Rick Perry, and Jobs

This has been showing up at various sites around the blogsphere today. It is neither and endorsement of Rick Perry or of any politician currently seeking office. It IS a look at the numbers and a bit of theorizing as to what the heck is going on in Texas

Rick Perry And Texas Jobs Numbers at Political Math

He does one heck of a job analyzing the raw data and his post is well worth the read.

(Normally, I would give a hat tip to the blogger on whose site I found this on, but I saw it--almost literally--simultaneously on three or four different sites today. The question of, "Who's on first?" will remain unanswerable by me.)

Oh, his conclusion and advice:
My advice to anti-Perry advocates is this: Give up talking about Texas jobs. Texas is an incredible outlier among the states when it comes to jobs. Not only are they creating them, they're creating ones with higher wages.

One can argue that Perry had very little to do with the job situation in Texas, but such a person should be probably prepare themselves for the consequences of that line of reasoning. If Rick Perry had nothing to do with creating jobs in Texas, than why does Obama have something to do with creating jobs anywhere? And why would someone advocate any sort of "job creating" policies if policies don't seem to matter in when it comes to the decade long governor of Texas? In short, it seems to me that this line of reasoning, in addition to sounding desperate and partisan, hogties its adherents into a position where they are simultaneously saying that government doesn't create jobs while arguing for a set of policies where government will create jobs.

Go read the whole dang thing.

(The comments are interesting, too. I take exception to something Jim says there in the comments. He's from over near Pittsburgh it seems and says folks aren't flocking to PA for jobs. Maybe not over there they aren't, but here in the north-central regions where Marcellus shale has things rocking and rolling, jobs are available in big numbers. Housing...not so much. Seems too many folks are moving in.)

Late morning Aerie Report, August 16, 2011

Hoo boy! Did we get more rain last night! From about 10 PM until 6 AM it poured. I've not checked the rain gauge yet but there had to be an inch or more of rain. We may still get more during the day today, too. [Heh? Only 0.68 inches in the gauge. Sure seemed like more fell.]


After dinner yesterday, Terry went out to pick string beans (another quart plus in the freezer) and zucchini (five biguns!) while I ventured out to pluck some onions. There are still more onions to come, but we've already got more than we had last year. Some of the onions I grew from shots are not producing large bulbs but are more like sets that I'll put aside in a cool spot and try to plant next spring. Some of those from sets, have grown to baseball size and look perfect for our winter needs. They are sitting out on the covered porch drying.


Just had to scare a young bear away from the yard. It looked like a two-year old whose momma may have chased away this summer when she decided it was time to get amorous again. Poor thing looked a bit confused. I just didn't want it getting any ideas of coming up on the porch to snack on onions. I've already passed on the blackberries up the hill this year so it's not like it doesn't have anywhere to find "wild" food.

It probably smelled the zucchini breads Terry was baking and decided to investigate that wonderfully cinnamon aroma.


I finally got a call from the physical therapist. I've an appointment for Friday afternoon to begin my rehab. I have to say that I'm getting better at walking around on flat surfaces like the first floor and the deck. It's going up and down stairs that continues to be a literal pain. And the short stroll I took in the yard yesterday produced more than enough warning that things are NOT as they should be. BOTH knees were complaining about that.


I've an Audubon meeting tonight over near the Muck and will try driving with the manual transmission on the Jeep. Then, Thursday, Terry and I will go up to the Bolt Hole to retrieve the truck, trailer and ATV. The truck is an auto so I should be able to handle that even if I have to ride the brake with my left foot.


Still awaiting a report from Joe as to the arrival of his grandson, little Joe III. He was due to make an appearance on the 15th. So far, we've heard nothing.

Monday, August 15, 2011

What he say?

Krugman: You know what this economy needs? A space alien invasion!

No. Really. That's what he said. (There's a link to the spew at the Hot Air site linked above if you don't believe me.)

At least Paul Krugman will be safe during the next zombie invasion. They eat brains, ya know, and he ain't got one.

This guy won a Nobel Prize in economics? Yer kidding, right? Did it come with an expiration date? If so he's long past his "Best If Used By" date.


These were just sent to me by my (slightly) younger sister. I do hope she remembers to take her meds. ;-)

An elderly Floridian called 911 on her cell phone to report
that her car has been broken into. She is hysterical as she
explains her situation to the dispatcher: 'They've
stolen the stereo, the steering wheel, the brake pedal and
even the accelerator!' she cried. The dispatcher said,
'Stay calm. An officer is on the way.' A few minutes
later, the officer radios in 'Disregard.' He says.
'She got in the back-seat by mistake.'
Three sisters, ages 92, 94 and 96, live in a house
together. One night the 96-year-old draws a bath. She puts
her foot in and pauses. She yells to the other sisters,
'Was I getting in or out of the bath?' The
94-year-old yells back, 'I don't know. I'll come
up and see.' She starts up the stairs and pauses
'Was I going up the stairs or down? The 92-year-old is
sitting at the kitchen table having tea listening to her
sisters, she shakes her head and says, 'I sure hope I
never get that forgetful, knock on wood...' She then
yells, 'I'll come up and help both of you as soon as
I see who's at the door.'
Three retirees, each with a hearing loss, were playing golf
one fine March day.. One remarked to the other, 'Windy,
isn't it?' 'No,' the second man replied,
'it's Thursday..' And the third man chimed in,
'So am I. Let's have a beer.'
A little old lady was running up and down the halls in a
nursing home. As she walked, she would flip up the hem of
her nightgown and say 'Supersex...' She walked up to
an elderly man in a wheelchair. Flipping her gown at him,
she said, 'Supersex.' He sat silently for a moment
or two and finally answered, 'I'll take the
Now this one is just too Precious....LOL!
Two elderly ladies had been friends for many decades. Over
the years, they had shared all kinds of activities and
adventures Lately, their activities had been limited to
meeting a few times a week to play cards.
One day, they were playing cards when one looked at the
other and said, 'Now don't get mad at me .. I know
we've been friends for a long time, but I just can't
think of your name! I've thought And thought, but I
can't remember it. Please tell me what your name is..
Her friend glared at her for at least three minutes she
just stared and glared at her. Finally she said, 'How
soon do you need to know?'
As a senior citizen was driving down the freeway, his car
phone rang. Answering, he heard his wife's voice
urgently warning him, 'Herman, I just heard on the news
that there's a car going the wrong way on Interstate 77.
Please be careful!' 'Heck,' said Herman,
'It's not just one car.. It's hundreds of them!'
Two elderly women were out driving in a large car - both
could barely see over the dashboard. As they were cruising
along, they came to an intersection. The stoplight was red,
but they just went on through The woman in the passenger
seat thought to herself 'I must be losing it. I could
have sworn we just went through a red light.'
After a few more minutes, they came to another intersection
and the light was red Again, they went right through. The
woman in the passenger seat was almost sure that the light
had been red but was really concerned that she was losing
it. She was getting nervous.
At the next intersection, sure enough, the light was red
and they went on through. So, She turned to the other woman
and said, 'Mildred, did you know that we just ran
through three red lights in a row? You could have killed us
Mildred turned to her and said, 'Oh, crap, am I driving?'

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Aerie Report, Mid-day, August, 13, 2011

A quiet day at the Aerie. Terry has scooted off to an all day event (ANG or EGA?) up in New York state somewhere and will not be back until this evening. I'm kicking back reading, doing X-words and tending the cat herd.

The weather has been marvelous the last few days with highs only in the mid 70s and night time lows in the 50s. Grey clouds currently fill the sky but there is no immediate rain on the radar. This afternoon we may get a stray T-storm or two passing through the region. We could use the rain.


I had a female hummer impale herself on the screen door leading to the porch. She was probably trying to avoid a very territorial male and ran head on into the screen.(Do some birds need glasses?) Her stiletto bill pierced the screen and she hung there for a few seconds getting her bearings before managing to disengage. Left a tiny little hole of two broken threads at about eye level. (Mine, not Terry's. It was over her head.)

Speaking of hummers--I've seen five (three females and two males) trying to get gain exclusive feeding rights on the one feeder. They chase one another around like crazy. The females are a bit more tolerant with one another and there may be two sitting on the feeder at once, but the males.... They will chase any other hummer that dares to come feed or even investigate the possibility of feeding. They zoom around chasing "intruders" and darting just past your head so you instinctively duck. The whirring of wings and the little chirps as the females realize they are under attack remind me of the forest chase scene from one of the Star Wars movies in which two imperial land scooters (or whatever they were called) take off after Luke and Leia as they dodge between the trees on Endor. Makes be wonder if the folks writing that scene had hummers in their back yard.


Got fixed up with an appointment to see an orthopedist about my knee. August 24th was the earliest they could arrange for an appointment. In Corning, NY. The nearest facility in Troy (where I had the MRI done) would have been some time in September. I imagine that, with all the drilling and pipe laying going on in the area, there are a number of worker's comp cases being tended to and they take precedence over some damn fool who does damage to himself.

Considering the delay in seeing a specialist, I asked about some physical therapy and was told that could be arranged. The doctor would call the therapist and the therapist would call me to schedule an appointment. That was yesterday around noon. No call came back, so I've got to wait until at least Monday for the PT folks. Meanwhile, I've progressed from using the crutches to a cane and even walking without that extra support for short distances. (I'm still not going up and down the stairs Hell, by the time I get to see the orthopedist, I may be doing cartwheels. Which would be cool, 'cause I've never been able to do them before!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Aerie Report, August, 11, 2011

Stuffed zucchini, zucchini casserole, zucchini ravioli, zucchini bread, grilled zucchini.... One of the things I've yet to gauge properly is the number of zucchini plants needed to adequately supply a family of two. Terry has been producing a zucchini dish every day trying to stay ahead of the prolific plants. In addition, she's stashed somewhere around 30 loaves of zucchini bread and an equal supply of shredded zucchini in the freezer.

Talking it over with Joe (who also has a bumper crop of zucchini) we figured one of the things that has thrown us for a lop is the lack of any vine borers. Back in New Jersey, every one of our plants would be long dead or nearly so due to the squash vine boring beetles. It wouldn't matter if we grew vine varieties or bush varieties, the beetle would get them. In four years, I've yet to see any borer damage to my zucchini. And from observations made while driving along and looking at the healthy plants others have in their gardens, I'm beginning to doubt there are any vine borer beetles in the area. Which, I would like to stress, is a good thing.

Should anyone attack the Aerie, I figure we can stack frozen zucchini bread in the window spaces like sand bags. (And we've a lot of window space!) The eight inch thick logs will do pretty well on their own. Alternatively, if I had a trebuchet, I've already got plenty of ammo.


We've been pulling up some onions as the tops die back. There's a stack of mostly white sweet onions between golf ball and baseball sized drying on the covered porch. A few of the red Spanish onions have been plucked. The ones I started from plants are still growing strong. Their tops erect, firm and green. They may be among the last things harvested this fall.


The freezer is now chock full. What with the zucchini products, string beans, blueberries. Meat will be our next purchase...IF we have room and IF I do not score during the hunting season. The halibut from Homer, Alaska is almost gone and the beef is pretty low. (Venison has been gone for a l-o-n-g time.)


Got a call this afternoon from the doctor's office. The MRI showed no tears or cartilage which is good. It did confirm a calcification of the soft tissues at the top of the patella. They want to send me to an orthopedist for an exam and consultation. They said they would make the arrangements and get back to me as to when the appointment would be.


The weather has been simply gorgeous if you ignore the 30 minutes of rain showers that come sweeping through now and then. Yesterday we had two or three of those showers. Last night and today, none. Last night it dropped into the upper 50s. Today it was a breezy (mostly) clear 75 degrees. Tonight it may dip down into the 40s.

Lovely weather and I'm here sitting up on blocks with one injured knee and one that's having pangs of empathy. (Or maybe it's just wondering why IT didn't get the MRI treatment two years ago? Is it because it's the left knee it got ignored? Do I like my right knee better?)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Knock, Knock Knees.

Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Knees who?
Knees things hurt.

One of those days.

I woke up this morning because I was chilly. It was 64 degrees outside at 5 AM but it felt much cooler. As I swung my legs over the side of the bed to get up, I was suddenly confused as to which knee was getting the MRI this morning. Both hurt badly. Then, as I put weight on them, the left raised its voice and screeched, "Me! Me! Me!"

Grabbed the crutches and hobbled to the bathroom to get another pain pill before getting dressed and having breakfast.

I was up and making noise, so, of course, the cats went upstairs and demanded Terry get up and feed them. I felt like chopped liver at this point. The cats hate chopped liver.

Everybody got fed and then Terry and I headed off to Troy Community Hospital for my appointment. I was early enough to get the paperwork out of the way before my appointed time. Being the first on the list meant I was taken promptly at 7:30 AM and finished by 8 AM. I felt sorry for the tech who has a ruptured disk and is facing back surgery. She and I made a lovely couple as we made our way haltingly to the MRI trailer. (Yeah, trailer. It's a mobile unit that gets hauled from place to place.) While she was seeing to my medical needs, I tried to offer words of encouragement vis-a-vis her upcoming ordeal.

The MRI will be read today and the results passed on to my doctor who should call Thursday or Friday. Then a decision as to whether I need surgery or go straight to torture therapy will be made.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Nice joint you got there.
Shame if something happened to it.

Up and out this morning to see the doctor.

There was a swift meeting with the "Nurse Practitioner" at the doctor's office. Vitals were taken, x-rays were faxed from NY (the office hasn't got the ability to read the CD St. Luke's gave me with copies of the x-rays). We discussed the pain and medications, etc. They then plead my case with Blue Cross/Blue Shield and got an MRI on right knee scheduled for Wednesday at 7:30 AM. Can't ask for anything better. (Usually MRIs are done AFTER therapy has failed to yield results.)

Actually, I could ask for better. The Troy Community Hospital is not on Horizon BC/BS's list of approved service locations. Oh, wait! It is on their list, according to yet a third person I spoke with via phone tag at Care Corp. and should, therefore, not cost me anything out of pocket. Took half an hour on the phone and three desk jockeys/jockettes to get that figured out.

Left hand? Meet right hand. You guys ever work together before? Love bureaucracies. /sarc

Sunday, August 07, 2011

A little knee news.

Terry and I packed up and left the Bolt Hole yesterday (Saturday) morning. Five hours later we pulled into the Aerie. Terry did all the driving, of course, while I sat there in the passenger side staring out the window. The pills the doctor at the ER gave me may not get rid of all the pain in my knee, but they have a marvelous way of distracting my brain from that pain.

Don't expect a lot to appear on these pages in the next few days. Between the pain, doctor visits, and the drugs (Hydroco/APAP)--but mostly the drugs--I'll be in the first floor bedroom either reading or--more likely--sleeping.

"One tablet every 4-6 hours as needed for pain," it says on the label. I've been taking one every six hours--stretching to eight if I'm asleep or merely reading. The stuff doesn't make the pain go away completely, but after a while you really don't give a sh*t. The hydroco also seems to be cumulative in that if I take one pill every six hours on a regular basis--at 6 AM, noon and 6 PM say, by the third pill I'm pretty much out of it.

First thing Monday morning, Terry will escort me to the doctor's office. There I'll tell my tale of woe with some visuals--sort of a show and tell. What happens then will depend upon what the doctor determines is necessary. I'll be rooting (?) for an MRI just for piece of mind if nothing else. Certainly, the level of pain still present tells me there may be something in need of repair. Though, I DO have the ability to bend the leg at the knee indicating things are still (pretty much) attached.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Back from ER

Got to the St. Luke's Hospital ER just about 5:30 this evening. No one in the waiting room. Very helpful staff that began processing and assisting me as I walked through the door. They had my name, DOB, address, and everything from the last time I was here (2009) so it was a snap to check in. They even had my vitals before Terry got back from parking the car.

I was whisked off to an examination room and then taken for x-rays before you could say "Boo!" The Doctor came in and asked questions about where and "how much does it hurt when I do this, or how about this?" Then he went off to look at the x-rays.

Half hour later he returned with his diagnosis: Severe sprain of the lateral cruciate tendons, possible tear but without an MRI he couldn't be sure. He prescribed pain killers (which don't seem to be living up to their reputation) suggested I keep off the leg for a couple of days and see my physician on Monday or Tuesday. Then, should the pain continue, I should get an MRI to determine if any tear took place.

Can't say it was a "pleasant" experience, but I was treated efficiently and with care by some nice people.


Luckily, Mark showed up this evening. We filled him in on what's what and he told me not to worry. He'll take care of things around the cabin. He also recommended I not bother with a NY hunting license. Three weeks and he got just 48 pictures on the game cams--all bears. The three deer he's seen are tame as house pets--and all female. He even petted one after calling her in using kissing sounds.

I still hope to be able to come up and close the camp up in a couple of months, but right now there's no way I could possibly drive down to get the mail let alone do anything else. Still have to figure out how to get the truck, trailer and ATV home. (Although Mark said he might be able to do that. He's about t-h-i-s close to quitting his current job at Remington Arms. (BTW: Word of advice from the "inside" Do not buy Remington rifles and/or shotguns made in the last year. That includes the Bushmaster and Marlin guns, too. Trust me on this. Just don't.)


Damn! This is NOT good!

So I decided the roof wasn't going to get painted by itself and hobbling knee or not, I would have to get up there to get 'er done. Started making preparations by getting into my painting clothes. (The pants can stand my themselves! Now if they would only come when called.) Went out and moved the ladders. Talked to Terry on the phone. Mixed up the paint. Poured a gallon or so into the "roof" bucket. And started to walk toward the ladder.

*PING* went something in the back of my right knee and suddenly I can't put ANY weight on my right leg without a great deal of pain. Straight leg, bent doesn't matter it will not bear any weight.

I leaned against the bucket, the house, the porch and s-l-o-w-l-y made my way up the two steps into the house. Packed everything away, struggled out of my painting clothes and here I sit contemplating my navel and another trip down to St. Luke's Hospital in Utica.

Been there. Done that. Two years ago on the left knee. Same sort of action after slipping on a wet rock during the last day of muzzle loader season. The diagnosis after an MRI was a severe strain. Rest and rehab. And pain killers.

This time it seems worse. Then I managed to get back out of the woods using the smoke pole as a crutch. This time I'm damn near crawling.

Funny, the left knee suddenly feels fine.

In '09 I needed to get Terry up here to help get all my hunting gear packed. Now I've got ladders on the roof and a trailer with an ATV. (Firewood's still in the woods and likely to stay there for some time.)

I'm going to just sit here feeling sorry for myself for awhile, if you don't mind. As soon as I get in touch with Terry (Curves) I'll make up my mind about what to do.

UPDATE: Terry is on her way. Then it will probably be a trip to the hospital's emergency room. Fun times!

Of Pain and Rain

Tossed and turned and woke up often in pain during the night. My knees are still throbbing and I'm stiff legging it around the cabin like Festus in an old Gunsmoke episode or Walter Brennan in Rio Bravo. I'm very reluctant to go back up on the ladders.

So I check the weather forecast at What the...! What happened to all the bright sunny days forecast a week ago. First Saturday and Sunday slipped to the dark side with 30-40% chance of rain and now Friday? And Monday? And Tuesday? But they are listed as "Scattered" and "Isolated" meaning what exactly? A storm might pop up over there...or right on top of me but NOT over there?

No wonder my knee joints are aching, throbbing, pulsing...Heck, they're sore as Hell!

Okay, so the next 5 days have some chance (30-40%) of precipitation. How about the next five? So I go to the 10-day forecast and.... Egads! Now, before you get excited about the "Partly Cloudy" days down there near the end, the chance of precip drops to 20% on those two days. For the rest it's between 30% ("Isolated") and 40-50% ("Scattered").

Betting on the weather is worse than playing at a casino. At least at the casino, you are aware that the house wins the majority of the time. Weather forecasters? Not so much. Then again all it takes for an excellent shot at getting into the Baseball Hall of Fame is a .300 lifetime batting average but I'm not sure a meteorologist even hits that on forecast beyond 24-36 hours.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

More progress on the roof painting.

I had to wait on the weather a bit this morning. The rain took its sweet time clearing out over night and things were pretty wet on the roof at 8 AM. It wasn't until 10 AM that the roof over the south side of the kitchen and the covered porch was dry enough for me to go up there and slather on a coat of aluminum.

Naturally, my knees started complaining immediately. I expected it from my left (that's the one I twisted two years ago while out in the woods hunting), but the right one was the loudest--and sorest--of the two. Still, I soldiered on knowing that I've got a reduced window of opportunity now that the forecast has changed for Saturday and Sunday.

BEFORE: South kitchen and porch roof.

AFTER: South kitchen and porch roof.

Three hours of up and down, down and up on the ladders and I had finished the kitchen and porch roof. I took an extended break for lunch and hoped my knees would forgive me enough to let me get a good chink of the living room roof done this afternoon.

BEFORE: East living room roof.

They didn't. I managed to get about 1/3 of the east side of the living room roof done in two and a half hours before I finally had to call it quits. This roof is a bit of a challenge to start with as the ground slopes from the main body of the house to the southern end of the living room on the left. The drop is only a couple of feet, but it's fairly steady meaning the climbing ladder's one leg is firmly planted on the ground while the other needs to be propped up two to four inches. I've got some 2 x 6 boards for that purpose but it's just one more thing that makes me nervous on the ladder. And with bum knees, it's bad enough.

PARTIALLY DONE: East living room roof.

Still to do: East living room roof.
(Plus, the west side of the living room roof (not shown) needs doin'.)

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go get another Yuengling Lager and put some dinner in the microwave. Then it's an extra dose of pain killers and off to bed.

Rain? What do you mean "rain?"

For two days the forecasters said Thursday through Sunday had 0% chance of rain. Then the system from the west slowed down extending Wednesday's rains into the wee hours of this morning. And, miraculously, the forecast changes to 40% chance of T-storms on Saturday and Sunday. Where the heck did that come from?

Things are still very wet outside as 8 AM approaches. The sky is that leaden gray the bodes ill.


Got up this morning at 6 AM when I heard something thumping in the back. I thought a bear might be in the apple trees, but was surprised to see a young deer running around--gamboling, if you will--at full speed. It came racing from the area behind the barn on to the lawn did a quick loop and raced back out the same way and into the woods beyond. Looked like it was just stretching its muscles. I was jealous as I struggled with the morning bending of stiff knees to put my socks and pants on.

The youngster appeared to be on its own but Mom might have been over where it disappeared from sight. I'd peg it as a fawn of this year but without its spots and obviously an early drop based upon its size. Beautiful little animal with a joyful spirit.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Raindrops keep falling....

I arrived at the Bolt Hole shortly after 1 this afternoon. My trip was about 5 miles shorter but nearly half an hour longer than the route I usually take. And my mpgs were down to just 16.2 due to hauling the little utility trailer and its ATV load.

Got all my groceries and gear in the house, the ATV in the garage, the trailer unhitched and the truck parked just as the rain started to fall. (It had been raining south and west of here on highway 12 and Route 17 earlier in the day, but stopped once I cleared Utica.) It looks like it might rain a good portion of the night. That's okay by me. The area is still inches below normal for late June and July. Good thing we got so much rain in April, May and early June! Let it rain, I say--as long as it stops in the morning so I can get some roof painting done.


Terry is in western NY today with an ANG (American Needlepoint Guild) meeting. She left the Aerie an hour before I did and probably ran into more rain. She's returning to the Aerie this evening and will again be traveling in rain. It also looks like the Aerie is getting some much needed rain.

Riding along in my automobile Tundra

The ride up along state highway 12 was pleasant enough. It was getting to highway 12 that was frustrating. US Highway 6 and state highway 220 have half a dozen construction crews on each doing everything from filling cracks with tar, putting reflectors in the mid-line, and just digging up random sections of pavement where gas/water/gravel trucks have caused depressions to appear. Each job requires traffic be reduced to one lane and that means stopping at the command of a flag person if you're not lucky enough to catch it j-u-s-t right.

Even when you clear the construction zones, there are the gas/water/gravel trucks with which to contend. If they are loaded with material, they have a difficult time with some of the hills along the way.

Yeah, there is a back road I could have taken even with the utility trailer in tow. But the last two times I tried that route, there were detours due to construction. And the last time was just a week ago and since it's bridge work being done....

I figure it took me almost half hour extra to get to Route 17 in Waverly.

Route 17 is also called the Southern Tier Expressway and will become Interstate 86 as soon as they finish upgrading a stretch near Elmira, NY. This highway runs east-west from Orange County to near Erie, PA. Much of it already has a 65 mph speed limit and the truck traffic has increased as the years have passed. The Future I-86 has two things going for it:

1) it is a direct link from the west to I-81 and/or I-88. The former can take you north to Canada in the Ottawa region, while the latter can get you up to the Albany and the Northway (I-87) and, again, to Canada (Hello Montreal! and points east.) Alas, unless and until they rebuild the bridge over Lake Champlain, there's major highway connection to the rest of New England except to hop on the NYS Thruway (I-90) and go down to the Mass Turnpike (also I-90). (TOLL ALERT! On both of these roads it costs a trucker an arm and a leg. Maybe even a kidney.) Smaller vehicles can find enjoyment tooling along state highways heading east.

Which brings me to the second thing I-86 has going for it:
2) it has no tolls. The more they raise the tolls on I-90, the more traffic there will inevitably be on I-86. Just as has occurred with I-80 in PA.

I do like cruising along the highway. If I didn't love my truck, I wouldn't mind cruising in one of these.

Signs of the times. It's all natural.

Having hitched up the utility trailer, loaded the ATV aboard, and packed my gear for another work-cation at the Bolt Hole, I was about ready to get in the Tundra when I looked down the Aerie's driveway to the road. There loped a good size black bear heading down the hill. Every so often it would stop and look up the hill and soon I saw why. The first bear was followed by an even larger bear which strode with a purpose in pursuit.

It didn't take me long to figure out what was going on. The first bear, perhaps 200-250 pounds must have been a female. The second, which I estimate at being 350 pounds or more, was a male. It's the mating season and he strutted down that hill with his nose waving in the air as he scented that female. She played coy, however, and was leading him on a merry chase. Alas, they moved on before I could get the camera out of its bag and snap a shot of their "courtship."

As I drove out and down the road, I saw them behind the building of the hunting camp adjacent to the Aerie's property. She hadn't given in--yet, but I sensed it was just a matter of time and finding a more private locale.

Signs of the times

Driving up to the Bolt Hole today I opted to take Route 12 through New York's Broome and Chenango counties. This area sits atop the Marcellus Shale formation and is ripe for gas drilling. There were lawn signs along the way both for and against exploiting our natural resource. Most were the size of the typical political sign. Some said things like "Friends of Gas NY" or "I [heart] NY, NO Fracking," but one larger billboard sign--perhaps 3' tall and 6' wide--made an excellent point. Along side the traditional peace symbol, it read "Bring a soldier home, Drill for Gas."

Tundra Timing Terrible

With 67K miles on the odometer, the Tundra has given me no serious mechanical problems and for that I'm thankful. Sure, there was that thing with the low roof in the hotel parking garage in Toronto but that's physical not mechanical. It's hauled the travel trailer from NY to Alaska and more--probably 15K of those 67K have been with trailer in tow. It's bumped along gravel, dirt and mud roads in PA since it was purchased.

Still, I make the last of the 0% interest payments in November. If it could have waited just three months I wouldn't have minded so much.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011


So. I took the Tundra in to have them look at the brakes. Two hours latter I left with four new discs, calipers and pads and a much lighter bank account. (Okay. I'll be honest. Like Congress, I put it on the Cabela's charge card and I will have to pay it off somewhere down the road. At least I'll accumulate points with which to purchase slightly over priced stuff at Cabela's.)

They did give me a discount of 10% when I mentioned I had been there just a month earlier and they had told me everything was fine. Still, the total damages were just north of $900. Ouch!


Meanwhile, I'm back at the Aerie for the night. Early tomorrow, I'll hit the local Lowe's for more supplies (brushes, rubber refinishing gloves, and brush cleaner), get the utility trailer hitched to the Tundra and load the ATV on board, and then gas up the Tundra and head back north. The powers that be are forecasting some showers and T-storms during the day and along my route. I'll bring a tarp with me so when I get to the Bolt Hole I can at least cover up the ATV.

Those same powers say the weather is supposed to dry up for four or five days starting Thursday so I'll be back up on the roof hoping to get the south side of the kitchen finished. The kitchen roof is the oldest on the building and really looks it. From a distance, you'd swear it's nothing but rust. This south side gets the most sun even in winter when the large sugar maple drops its leaves. It also gets a lot of snow as the stuff drifts to the lee side of the roof and just sits there. I've never seen any snow slide off this particular side. (Snow doesn't slide off the north side either, but that's because the lower and less slanted wood shed roof holds it in place.) This should be a brief job of three hours or so.

Then it's on to the living room roof. The highest of all, this roof is about 25 years old but is already showing rust. The snow regularly slides off this roof...when I'm there and have a fire going inside. Last winter I wasn't there and Mark says the snow was two to three feet deep on this roof and, until he used a rake on it, wasn't going anywhere. The rust may help hold the snow in place so a new roof coating may get it to slide more easily. Or not. At least the coating will seal some small leaks around the roofing nails...I hope.

The living room roof is probably an 8 to 10 hour job because of the need to move the climbing and roof ladders frequently as I work my way down the roof's length. At approximately 20 feet, it's also one of the longest roofs on the building.

With persistence and luck, I should be finished with the roofs by Friday evening. Then it's wood hauling time.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Compromise, they said....

...over and over.

The last couple of weeks we've been hearing talking heads and politicos from the inner circles of Washington talk about the need to compromise on the debt ceiling and budget cuts. Knowing how words get twisted by those groups of folks and the media, I finally looked that word up at to see what it really means.

   [kom-pruh-mahyz] Show IPA noun, verb, -mised, -mis·ing.

1. a settlement of differences by mutual concessions; an agreement reached by adjustment of conflicting or opposing claims, principles, etc., by reciprocal modification of demands.
2. the result of such a settlement.
3. something intermediate between different things: The split-level is a compromise between a ranch house and a multistoried house.
4. an endangering, especially of reputation; exposure to danger, suspicion, etc.: a compromise of one's integrity.

verb (used with object)
5. to settle by a compromise.
6. to expose or make vulnerable to danger, suspicion, scandal, etc.
[Emphasis added.]

There's quite a bit of difference between the assumed meaning (definitions 1 and 5 above) and what the word "compromise" can mean (see definitions 4 and 6).

The Democrat participants in this little theater of the absurd that has played out daily on cable and network news shows would tell you that when they called upon the Republicans to compromise, they meant the Republicans should do as definitions 1 and 5 would have it. (Minus those pesky little words "mutual concessions" found in the first definition.)

The Republicans, stood fast, no doubt believing that to "compromise" would be akin to definitions 4 and 6. Indeed, if they had gone along with the Democrats and ceded additional points, they would have compromised their standing with the folks who went out in 2010 and elected them to stand up to the profligate spenders across the aisle. No doubt, quite a few of those compromising Republicans would have found themselves facing stiff challenges in 2012. Some may yet.

Between now and that 2012 date, however, there are still more battles to be waged about spending reductions. It will be interesting to see how this plays out between the stubborn as an ass Democrats and the ever mindful Republicans. They (the GOP) had best remember and remember well, the 2010 elections.

Monday at the Bolt Hole

The Bolt Hole did not get the 40% chance of rain that was forecast so the applied roof coating is getting a chance to cure nicely. After two strenuous days on the roof and in the glaring sunshine, I'm going to take today off and do some house cleaning. This will give the (very) red top of my head and backs of my ears a chance to stabilize. I had strips of toweling and a square of the same on my sparsely follicled pate but that that did not cover the tops of my ears. The one time I wore a ball cap, I forgot that the rear of said cap was nothing but loose mesh and the sun could--and did--easily shine through. Even my face, which I seldom raised to the sun, got a nice reflective burning from the roof surface. (Maybe I can get the muscles in my buttocks to unclinch and my toes to uncurl, too. Standing on a sloped roof for hours fearful of that one slip that might carry you over the edge followed by a half full bucket of paint will do that to ya.)

At the moment, the sun is attempting to break through the cloud cover. The temperatures are in the upper 70s after an overnight low close to 60 degrees. The humidity is close to 80%. T-storms are still a 40% probability for this evening.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) calls for a trip back to PA to see what's causing the Tundra to suffer the shimmies when I apply the brakes (dirty discs?) and to the Aerie to pick up the ATV--should there be no serious problems with the Tundra--as well as some supplies.

Wednesday I'll be heading back up to the Bolt Hole. The forecast is fro some T-storms on Wednesday followed by four days of sunny weather. I should be able to finish my roof painting on Thursday and Friday giving the coating a chance to cure before the next rain is expected on Monday.

Those are the plans at any rate. Subject to change as always.