Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Rutgers Alumni Club of Central PA

Terry and I drove down to Lewisburg, PA and Damon's Grill to meet up with some other Rutgers Alumni and watch the Pinstripe Bowl. The Rutgers Club of Central Pennsylvania is a newly formed chapter of the Rutgers Alumni Club so we were interested in seeing who would show up.

Out hostess and chapter organizer (Mindy) turned is a graduate of Cook College ('99) and the Graduates School of Education ('01). She currently works at Bucknell University located in Lewisburg as Dean of Student Affairs(?). Her husband is a graduate of Rutgers College and is a neurosurgeon working at Geisenger. Their two young sons are 2 1/2 and 1 year olds who were a real joy to be around.

Our hostess, her husband, and their kids.

One other couple stayed with us for the entire time. He was a graduate of the College of Engineering ('72) and is currently semi-retired, his wife, a very pleasant woman even if she is not an RU grad, is a speech therapist working with very young children, and his son is a senior at Annapolis.

The Engineer, his son, and his wife.

I missed getting a photo of the Rutgers track coach and his wife (who works in the athletic department of Bucknell (Assistant AD?)).

We got into a conversation with the bartender (who is also the Bucknell baseball coach) and found out his late uncle was a graduate (RC '70) and track coach at Rutgers.

We had a great time with good people, food, a Rutgers' win, and some fine trivia challenges. More folks would have been nice. Mindy said she expected more to show up but their absence was understandable. After all, it was a workday and folks were busy.

(FYI: We're both RU College of Agriculture and Environmental Science '71 graduates. Terry also has her MS from CAES '72.)

While we were there, a contingent of the Bucknell basketball team came in for dinner. (They are about the only folks on campus during this winter break.) They were followed by the Cornell basketball team who were in town to play the Bison on Saturday. Our Rutgers contingent, which included the two previously mentioned Bucknell officials, proved to be the buffer between two.

New Year's Eve Bowling

Saturday: Five bowls will be played today.

Noon: The Meineke Car Care Bowl: Texas A&M vs Northwestern on ESPN
2 PM: The Sun Bowl: Georgia Tech vs Utah on CBS
3:30 PM: Kraft Hunger Bowl: Illinois vs UCLA on ESPN
3:30 PM: The Liberty Bowl: Cincinnati vs Vanderbilt on ABC
7:30 PM: the Chick-fil-A Bowl: Virginia vs Auburn on ESPN

You'll need a set of fresh batteries in the remote or three TVs to watch all the action as there's considerable overlap in the schedule.

The good news is they should all be over by 11 PM EST so you can tune in Dick Clark. The bad news is that you'll have time to tune in Dick Clark.


The Meineke Car Care Bowl in Houston, Texas sees the Texas A&M Aggies (6-6, 4-5, 7th in the Big 12) vs. Northwestern Wildcats (6-6, 3-5, 5th in the Big Ten Legends Division).
The Aggies have lost four of their last five games beating only Kansas (2-10, 0-9) by a score of 61-7. Three of those losses, however, were by a total of 12 points. While they are ranked in the top 20 in pass offense, rush offense and rush defense, consistency and pass defense (111th in the nation) have been their Achilles heel.

The Wildcats won four of their last five games beating Indiana, Nebraska, Rice and Minnesota while losing the final game to Michigan State. Their offense, passing and rushing is ranked 35th in the nation while their defense is in the middle of the pack (56th against the pass, 84th against the run).

The Aggies hit the field under interim coach Tim DeRuyter, the defensive coordinator for the last two seasons. He’ll be gone after the game heading to Fresno State. Northwestern hasn’t won a bowl game since 1949. They are 0-8 since that Rose Bowl victory.

Depending upon which A&M team shows up, this could be a close game or a blowout. I’m thinking something in between with the Aggies on top 38-28


The Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas will have the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (8-4, 5-3, 3rd in the Coastal Division of the ACC) against the Utah Utes (7-5,)

This game promises to be a contest between an irresistible force (the Yellow Jackets are 3rd in the nation in rush offense) versus the immovable object (the Utes are 7th in the nation in rush defense).

Georgia Tech started the season strong winning their first six games. They stumbled in the second half of the season going just 2-4. One of those victories was a 31-17 victory over Clemson, however.

The Utes started slowly going 3-3 in their first six games. The ended the season with a 4-2 string. The four wins, however, came against teams with losing records: Oregon State (3-9), Arizona (4-8), UCLA (6-7) and Washington State (4-8). Their final game was a 17-14 loss—to Colorado (3-10).

The Utes’ rush defense may be strong, but they’ve not seen an option team like Georgia Tech this season. (They didn’t even play Oregon.) I look for the Yellow Jackets to emerge victorious with a score of 38-30.


The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl being played in San Francisco, California has the Fighting Illini of Illinois (6-6, 2-6, 5th in the Leaders Division of the Big Ten) against the UCLA Bruins (6-7, 5-5, 2nd in the PAC-12 South).

This could be the lamest of the bowl games. CBSSports’ Dennis Dodd said it best: “UCLA needed a hall pass to get in sub-.500 because USC wasn't bowl eligible. Illinois comes in riding a red-hot six-game losing streak. Both coaches have been fired. The only way to make this bowl worse -- or maybe better: A halftime human sacrifice.”

Illinois strength is their pass defense (4th in the nation). UCLA averages 190.7 yards per game rushing (29th in the nation). Illinois rush defense is 38th in the nation.

It’s difficult to pick a winner in this one. You might say they are lucky to be here. But UCLA is luckier. The Illini will not do well in this game, but UCLA will do worse. Illinois 24-17.


Memphis, Tennessee hosts the Liberty Bowl with the Cincinnati Bearcats (9-3, 5-2, tied for 1st in the Big East) against the Vanderbilt Commodores (6-6, 2-6, 4th in the SEC East).

The Bearcats started the year 7-1 but then Zach Collaros broke his ankle November 12th and they struggled against—and lost to—West Virginia and Rutgers before finishing the year with two victories. The good news for Cincinnati is that Collaros will probably start in the Liberty Bowl. If there’s a set back or he struggles, sophomore Munchie Legaux has proven he’s capable of stepping in. And with Isaiah Pead in the backfield (209 carries for 1110 yards and 11 TDs) they’ve got more than a passing offense. Their rush defense is pretty special too. It’s lead by defensive tackle Derek Wolfe and is ranked 6th in the nation.

The Commodores struggled to find an identity this year. They have no obvious weakness—and no obvious strengths. Running Back Zac Stacy does have 1136 yards on 183 carries and has scored 13 TDs for Vandy. Even with those numbers Vandy’s rush offense is only 44th in the nation.

Cincy will prevail with or without Collaros. (Word came out on Friday that he will be starting.) Bearcats win this one 27-24.


The Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta, Georgia will feature the Virginia Cavaliers (8-4, 5-3, 2nd in the Coastal Division of the ACC) against the Auburn Tigers (7-5, 4-4, 4th in the SEC West).

Virginia finished the season winning four of their last five games losing to Virginia Tech 38-0 in their final game.

Auburn must have gotten their 7-5 record with mirrors. They are 101st in the nation in offense and 76th in defense. They finished the year winning just two of their final three games—against Mississippi (2-10) and Samford (6-5 in the FCS). RB Michael Dyer leads the offense with 242 carries, for 1242 yards and 10 TDs but they haven’t got much else on either side of the ball.

Sounds like a pretty evenly matched set of teams. Neither is that great nor that poor. I’d give the edge to Virginia and say the Cavaliers will win 27-21.

Four for four, baby!

I picked the winners of all four games played on Friday. Granted the scores weren’t quite right, and my goal is simply to pick the winner and not care about the point spread, but those I said would be close were and those that I thought might be won by larger margins were. Not many surprises.


In the Armed Forces Bowl, BYU edged Tulsa in a see-saw struggle, 24-21. It was finally decided when Riley Nelson connected with Cody Hoffman on a 2-yard TD pass with 11 seconds remaining in the game. It was the third time during the game the pair had connected for a score. G.J. Kinne tossed three TD passes for Tulsa.


Prior to the Pinstripe Bowl, everyone agreed that for Rutgers to win they would have to do three things: 1) get their running game untracked (Jawan Jamison carried the ball 27 times for 131 yards and two TDs on his way to being named MVP of the game),
2) Rutgers would have to get some decent quarterback play regardless of which one (Dodd or Nova) was in there (the two combined for 13 completions to 7 different receivers on 24 attempts for 196 yards and one TD—Dodd to Brandon Coleman 86 yards—and no INTs) and
3) Rutgers would have to win the turnover battle (How’s 3-0 sound? Two INTs and a forced fumble.)

The Scarlet Knights also got something special from the special teams –a blocked field goal came late in the game. Their ninth blocked kick this season. Only Fresno State has more (10). Meanwhile, San San Te converted on field goals of 21 and 24 yards.

Rutgers beats the Iowa State Cyclones handily 27-13.

Mississippi State’s Vick Ballard rushed for a career high 180 yards in leading the Bulldogs to a 23-17 victory over Wake Forest in the Music City Bowl. Ballard scored twice on runs of 60 and 72 yards. The margin of victory could have/should have been greater, but the Bulldogs turned the ball over three times in the first half including an INT in the end zone as the half ran out. Receiver Michael Campanaro made 10 catches for 128 yards for Wake Forest.


In the Insight Bowl, Oklahoma slowly moved out to a 21-0 lead by the end of the third quarter but watched nearly all of it disappear as James Vandenberg and the Iowa Hawkeyes scored twice early in the fourth quarter to make it 21-14. But then Mike Hunnicutt hit on a 35-yard field goal and Blake Bell scored his third TD of the night to put wrap up the scoring and give the Sooners a 31-14 victory.

You couldn’t blame the Hawkeyes receiver Marvin McNutt if he was a bit distracted in the final minutes of the game, however. The sky-cam came crashing down right behind him on one play and he got entangled in the wires. There was a five minute delay as they cleared the debris but thankfully no one got hurt. (As this occurred near the end of a game that started at 10 PM EST, it was well past my bed time. I'm sorry I missed it!)

Friday, December 30, 2011

It's Friday. Now we’re getting serious!

There are four bowl games being played today:
Noon: Armed Forces Bowl with BYU (9-3) vs. Tulsa (8-4)
3:20 PM: the Pinstripe Bowl has Rutgers (8-4) vs. Iowa State (6-6)
6:40 PM: the Music City Bowl with Wake Forest (6-6) vs. Mississippi State (6-6)
10 PM: the Insight Bowl sees No. 19 Oklahoma (9-3) vs. Iowa (7-5)

Starting with the Armed Forces Bowl being played in Dallas, Texas…

The independent BYU Cougars (9-3) will look to exploit the weak passing defense of the Tulsa Golden Hurricane (8-4, 7-1, 2nd in the Conference USA West).

The Cougars ended the season winning eight of their last nine games. Their only loss in that string was to TCU. They won their last three games 42-7, 42-7, and 41-20. BYU’s offense is more than adequate but their defense is their strength. They’re 28th in pass defense and 21st against the rush.

Tulsa has put points on the board even though their offense is only so-so. They rank 41st in pass offense and 24th in rushing. They won seven of their last eight with only a final loss to Houston spoiling their run. In the two games prior, they posted 59 points against Marshall and 57 against UTEP. Besides the loss to Houston, the Golden Hurricane lost early in the year to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Boise State.

This could be a close game but the Cougars should be able to keep Tulsa under control while their offense should be able to take advantage of that porous pass defense. BYU 31, Tulsa 28.


Yankee Stadium will host the Pinstripe Bowl with nearby Rutgers (8-4, 4-3, 4th in the Big East) squaring off against Iowa State (6-6, 3-6, 8th in the Big 12).

The Scarlet Knights had something of an up-and-down year. They strung together winning streaks of four and 3 games sandwiched around two losses to Louisville and West Virginia. The lost their final game of the regular season in a lopsided, error filled game against Connecticut. They have also struggled and shifted back and forth at the quarterback position between Gary Nova and Chas Dodd. They have had virtually no running attack for most of the season although Jawan Jamison has shown promise. But they have Mohamed Sanu at wide receiver. They have managed to get their pass offense to 46th in the nation despite their rushing offense being just 111th—a position that allows their opponents to pretty much concentrate on the pass. The Knights defense, however, is where they shine. They are 12th in pass defense and, while their rush defense is ranked as 52nd in the nation, they are much better than that. They played both Navy and Army—and beat both--when those teams were #1 in rushing and held them to about half their average. (Even so, that was enough to raise the number of yards per game RU permitted and drive them down in this particular stat.)

Iowa State Cyclones also had an up-and-down year. Three wins were followed by four losses, then three wins and two losses. They beat Oklahoma State along the way, knocking the Cowboys from the unbeaten rank and ruining their drive to a National Championship game. They also played UConn early in the year in Connecticut and won 24-20. It could be argued that Iowa State faced tougher competition, and that that drove their offense and defense rankings down. (Pass offense was 71st, while the rush offense 34th; the pass defense was 71st and the rush defense 94th.)

Look for Rutgers to get their rush game going. If they succeed (yeah, it's a BIG IF), it will allow Nova (or Dodd) to connect with a respectable corps of receivers lead by Mohamed Sanu. On defense, look for Rutgers to create turnovers and capitalize on them. If they can stay away from turning it over themselves, Rutgers should be able to win 31-24.

(I’m a partial RU graduate. Terry and I graduated from Rutgers' CAES, Class of ’71. Terry and I will be watching this one at a sports bar with a crowd from the Rutgers Alumni Club down in Lewisburg, PA.)


Down in Nashville, Tennessee, the Music City Bowl pits the Mississippi State Bulldogs (6-6, 2-6, 4th in the SEC West) against the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest (6-6, 5-3, 3rd in the ACC Atlantic).

Mississippi State managed to go through the season not putting two wins together. The only back to back victories came over Kentucky (5-7) and Tennessee-Martin (5-6) of the Ohio Valley Conference of the FCS. The Bulldogs’ strength is their pass defense.

Wake lost four of its last five games and had only two victories against teams with winning records (Florida State and N.C. State). Their strongest asset is their pass offense.

This should be a close game but look for Mississippi State to edge the Deacon Demons 24-21.


Finally, the Insight Bowl in Tempe, Arizona will have the Iowa Hawkeyes (7-5, 4¬-4, 4th in the Legends division of the Big Ten) against the #19 Oklahoma Sooners (9-3, 6-3, 4th in the Big 12).

Iowa won just two of their last five games (Michigan and Purdue) and struggled on both offense and defense.

Oklahoma won three of their last five, losing on the road to Oklahoma State and Baylor. The Sooners are 4th in the nation in pass offense.

Look for the Sooners to put a licking on the Hawkeyes 45-20.

Got two more correct…sorta.

The two teams I picked to win on Thursday did so. They just won by scores a wee bit different than I thought.

I picked Florida State to be victorious over Notre Dame in the Champs Sports Bowl by a comfortable 31-14. The Seminoles got shut out in the first half and trailed early in the third quarter 14-0 but came back to win 18-14.

I over estimated the Seminole offense which, due to injury, had to start a bunch of young guys on the O-line. You could see the nervousness of that young group as they faced the larger more experienced Irish D. It looked like that young group might just get their quarterback, E.J. Manuel killed with their missed blocks and fidgety play that allowed five sacks. But they settled down and proved competent in the second half allowing Manuel to complete a pair of TD passes. The Florida State defense did its part as it intercepted the Irish’s quarterbacks Tommy Rees and Andrew Hendrix three times—twice in the red zone— and had four sacks of their own.

Neither team amassed much offense on the night. The Seminoles ran 60 plays for a net of 290 yards and the Irish ran 70 for 280 yards. That's a total of just 570 yards of offense. Keep those numbers in mind when looking at the numbers for the Alamo Bowl.


In the Alamo Bowl I predicted Baylor to win over Washington 55-27 and they did prevail in a shootout 67-56.

I tuned in to watch a football game and got a basketball score. (Actually, I switched early to watch the end of the Rutgers-#10 Florida basketball game for a bit. That game was 66-66 at the end of regulation, 76-76 after the first OT and ended with RU on top 85-83. Go RU!)

When the smoke cleared in this one, it seems the Heisman Trophy winner ,, Robert Griffin, wasn’t the best quarterback in the Alamodome—just the one with the win. Keith Price put on one hell of a performance for the Huskies. He completed 23 of 37 passes for 438 yards and four TDs. Oh yeah, he ran for three TDs, too. In contrast, Griffin was 24 of 33 for 295 and one TD. RGIII also scored one on the ground on a nifty 24-yard scramble.

What Griffin did do well was pilot the Baylor juggernaut and hand off the ball to Terrance Ganaway (21 carries, 200 yards and five TDs), Jarred Salubi (5 carries for 101 yards and two TDs), and Tevin Reese (2 carries for 101 yards but no scores).

The combined point total of 123 was just two shy of the all-time bowl record set in the 2001 GMC Bowl by Marshall and East Carolina. That game was a double overtime affair that ended with 125 points being scored. They had just 102 in regulation.

Washington and Baylor had 1,397 yards in total offense between them. That shattered the old mark. The Huskies ran 74 plays for 620 yards and the Bears 85 plays for 777 yards. Baylor ran the ball 52 times for 482 yards and had three (3!) players with 100 or more yards rushing. (Remember, Florida State and Notre Dame had a combined 570 yards of offense.)

This was a fun game to watch--unless you’re a fan of defensive play. (I thought I heard the "Degüello" being played in the background.)

I think I noticed the kickoff men for both teams getting tired near the end of the game. Their kicks only managed to reach the 10 yard line the last few times.

*"Degüello" means "beheading" or, idiomatically, "no quarter" (as in "no surrender to be given or accepted--a fight to the death") in Spanish and was the title of a Moorish-origin bugle call used by the Mexican Army forces at the Battle of the Alamo, Texas, in 1836.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Do you like model trains?

Okay, that's a trick question.

EVERYBODY likes a well planned model train layout.

But even if you don't, you've got to admire this:

The largest model train layout in the world.

Only problem is that it's in Hamburg, Germany.

(seen at Maggie's Farm)

Thursday's Bowl Games

Thursday again has two bowl games scheduled. At 5:30 PM there’s the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando, Florida with #25 Florida State squaring off against Notre Dame and at 9 PM we have the Alamo Bowl from San Antonio, Texas in which #15 Baylor faces Washington. Both games will be broadcast on ESPN.

First, let’s look at the Champs Sports Bowl:

The Seminoles (8-4 overall and 5-2 in conference) finished second in the ACC Atlantic Division behind Clemson. They also finished the year strong, winning six of their last seven games. The only loss was a 14-13 affair with Virginia. Their strength is their defense. They are 19th in the nation in Pass defense giving up just 192.8 ypg and they are 2nd in the nation in rush defense yield a stingy 81.8 ypg. The Seminole defense is ranked 6th overall.

The Fighting Irish (8-4) lost their first two games of the year but then went on to win 8 of their last ten with losses to USC at home (31-17) and Stanford on the road (28-14). No particular facet of their game is exceptional (33rd in pass offense, 48th in rush offense, 32nd in pass defense, and 53rd in rush defense) but they are strong on both sides of the ball and do enough in most games to win.

If Notre Dame is to win this they will have to get some sort of running game going or their QB will get hammered. And they very much need to protect their quarterback. It’s not likely to happen against Florida State, however. Therefore, this one should be a comfortable win for the Seminoles, 31-14.


Moving on to the Alamo Bowl:

Washington (7-5, 5-4, 3rd in the PAC 12 North) faces a tough challenge in Baylor (9-3, 6-3, 3rd in the Big 12). Not only is this basically a home game for Baylor—and the Bears are 8-0 in Texas this year, but the Huskies pass defense ranks just 114th in the nation and must come up with a way to stop the prolific pass game of Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III. Griffin and the Bears passing attack are rated 5th in the nation with 356.2 ypg. And Baylor’s rush offense isn’t too shabby either. It’s 18th in the nation with 215.1 ypg. RG3 got that award as much for his feet as his arm.

Baylor’s weakness lies on the defensive side of the ball. They are 110th in pass defense and 96th in rush defense. Still, they should more than hold their own against the Huskies (51st in pass offense, 64th in rush offense).

The Huskies are flat out out matched. The best they could have hoped for was rain and lots of it, but that’s not going to happen this Friday in San Antonio. Unless Baylor stops itself, this could be over in the first half. Look for a blowout with the Bears winning 55-27.

I may have to shop Sears more often.

And you should too. From Don Surber's Daily Mail blog:

Back in 2003, when the Iraq War began, Sears decided that it not only would keep the jobs of associates called onto active service open, but that it would make up the difference between what the military paid and what the associate ordinarily would earn.

And for 8 years, Sears has kept that policy going — long after the public has forgotten and the color has faded from those yellow ribbons that say Support The Troops. The company has had a few bad quarters in the recession, but it keeps the home fires burning and the checks coming to its reservists and National Guardsmen.

That is service above and beyond the call of duty and someone should be recognized.

Here's the rest of Don's post.

That's better

I feel better this morning after correctly predicting the winners of yesterday’s games. I said Toledo would beat Air Force 35-27, the final was 42-41. I said Texas would beat Cal 31-17, the final was 21-10.

The Military Bowl was one of the most exciting games of the year not decided in OT or on the final play as time ran out. While Toledo jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter it looked destined to be a blowout.

But Air Force proved that smart as their players are reported to be, they had no idea what the word “quit” means. Air Force was more successful in the air than I expected and Toledo’s defense had a tougher time stopping the Falcons because of it. Tim Jefferson managed to complete 13 of 22 attempts for 159 yards and two TDs. He also scored on the ground from 22 yards out. Air Force was 5 for 6 on fourth down conversions and three of them went for TDs.

And Toledo kept right on scoring behind Terrance Owens (19 of 24 for 210 yards and three TDs) and Adonis Thomas (22 carries for 108 yards and a TD). Special teams play also helped--Eric Page ran a kickoff back 87 yards for a TD. The defense also scored when Jermaine Robinson returned the only interception of the game 37 yards for a TD.

But it came down to a failed two-point conversion that could have been made by Air Force with 52 seconds to go. Holder David Baska tried to run the option off left tackle on a fake kick. Kicker Parker Herrington was in perfect position on his left to receive the pitch but it didn’t come. Instead, the ball was knocked out of Baska’s hands and squirted toward Herrington and eventually out of bounds in the end zone. Even if Herrington fell on the ball it would not have counted. Only the player who fumbles can recover the ball in the end zone for a score.

Congratulations to the Toledo’s new head coach, 32-year old Matt Campbell, on his first win.


The Holiday Bowl came down to a little razzle-dazzle and a lot of strong Longhorn defense. Both helped the Longhorns defeat the California Golden Bears 21-10.

The razzle-dazzle was a couple of end around reverses resulting in passes down field. The first worked as WR Jaxon Shipley hit QB David Ash for a 4-yard touchdown. It was Shipley’s fourth completion and third TD pass. (The second attempt fell harmlessly to the turf.) Later, Ash would throw his own TD pass, a 47-yarder to Marquise Goodwin to put Texas ahead for good.

Meanwhile the Longhorn defense was having a grand time knocking the stuffing out of the Cal running backs and QB Zach Maynard. It seemed tackles for losses were the norm. Maynard was sacked six times and Cal turned the ball over on four lost fumbles and an interception. Still, Cody Johnson's 4-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter is the only score directly attributable to a turnover. It was set up when Maynard was sacked and fumbled, which was recovered by Chris Whaley at the Cal 44. Johnson scored three plays later to put the icing on the cake.

Baby it's cold outside.

We went form temperatures around 40 degrees on Monday to Tuesday rains with southerly winds, to westerlies, and finally very strong Wednesday winds out of the north and cold, cold air. It was 14 degrees this morning but, thankfully, the wind has stopped blowing, the sky is clear and we should get some sun--as soon as it clears the ridge.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Let's try this again...

There are two more bowl games being played today. Let’s see if I can give the kiss of death to two more victims.

At 4:30 PM we have the Military Bowl in Washington, D.C. with Toledo (8-4, 2nd in the MAC West, 7-1 in conference) facing Air Force (7-5, 5th in the Mountain West, 3-4 in conference).

Toledo Rockets have a potent offense aand are somewhat mixed on defense. They are 29th in the nation in passing offense (272.0 ypg) and 14th in the nation in rushing offense (221.2 ypg). The Rockets’ are 24th in the nation in rush defense allowing just 123.2 ypg but a terrible 107th in pass defense allowing 277.0 ypg.

The Falcons of Air Force aren’t too shabby in rush offense either. They are 2nd in the nation averaging 320.3 ypg. Strangely, Air Force’s pass offense is deplorable. They are just 109th managing just 138.5 ypg. Air Force’s rush defense is a horrible 107th out of 120 teams in the nation. They yield an average of 227.8 ypg. Ah, but their pass defense is superb! The Falcons are 6th in the nation holding their opponents to just 162.7 ypg.

So it looks to boil down to the rushing of Toledo against the bad rush defense of Air Force and the rushing of Air Force against the fairly good rush defense of Toledo. If Air Force wants to win they will either have to overcome that Toledo rush defense or go with their weak passing game against an equally poor Toledo passing defense.

There should be a lot of option running in this one.

The Rockets shoot down the Falcons 35-27.


The second game is the Holiday Bowl being played in San Diego at 8 PM ET. Here we have the Texas Longhorns (7-5, 6th in the Big 12, 4-5 in conference) facing the California Golden Bears (7-5, 4th in the PAC 12 North, 5-5 in conference).

The Longhorns dropped three of their last four games. They lost to Missouri (8-5), Kansas State (10-2), and Baylor (9-3). Cal lost only one of their last four—to Stanford by 3 points. The three wins, however came against Washington St. (4-8), Oregon St. (3-9), and Arizona St. (6-7)—not exactly powerhouse teams.

The Longhorns will be ready to play and should gore the Golden Bears.

Texas wins 31-17.

Man! Can I pick 'em? (NO!)

Okay. I picked BOTH of Tuesday's games wrong. Both were highly entertaining, however.

Especially the Western Michigan-Purdue game. If you watched that game and didn't come out of your seat a couple of were NOT paying attention. Purdue managed to intercept Western Michigan's Alex Carder four (4!) times, successfully recovered two (2!) on-sides kicks (int he first half!), ran a kickoff back 99 yards for a TD (by Raheem Mostert) and still needed a fumble recovery with two minutes to go to stave off the Broncos.

That's because when Alex Carder wasn't hitting Boilermakers, he was hitting Bronco receivers, most notably Jordan White. Carder finished the night 31 of 57 for 439 yards and 3 TDs. White caught 13 of those passes for 265 yards and a TD.

Turnovers were the story of the game, however. Western Michigan had those four INTs AND three fumbles lost. Purdue had seven fumbles and lost three of them. Turnovers were so abundant, some plays had two of them! Twice, Western Michigan was deep in Purdue territory and threatening to score only to have Alex Carder toss an interception which Purdue returned across the 50 yard line only to have the same Western Michigan wide receiver strip the ball and have the Broncos recover and start marching down the field again. In one case they managed to score a TD. The other they had to eventually punt.

Some will call it a sloppy game (one comment I saw on line called it the IHOP Bowl--more turnovers than a pancake house), and, while it was at times cringe worthy, it was definitely entertaining.


The N.C. State-Louisville game was a little more staid. Mike Glennon tossed three TD passes in the first half to put the Wolfpack up 21-10 at half time and then the defense pummeled and pressured the Cardinals' Teddy Bridgewater. When David Amerson returned an interception of an errant Bridgewater toss 65 yards for a TD in the third quarter it gave N.C. State a 31-10 lead. Bridgewater and the Cardinals managed to narrow that down to 31-24 with the help of a fake punt, an on-sides kick and two TD passes but they couldn't get closer.

Freshman Bridgewater was 24 of 43 for 274 yards and two TDs and three INTs in a losing cause. Junior Glennon completed 21 of 33 for 264 yards and three TDs and one INT for the victors.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Xmas Presents I Made.

I mentioned that I made some of the presents we gave to family members this Christmas. I didn't post photos of those gifts because some of the recipients occasionally look in on this blog.

Well, the presents have been given and I can now show you what I did.

These are tissue box holders made of red oak and a little scrollsaw art. I did two more of the hummingbird boxes. The bass box was for my sister-in-law who has become quite the bass fisherperson down there in the Lake of the Ozarks. In addition to really schooling her husband, she's even giving lessons to others.

This year, I think I'll start a little earlier. Thanksgiving was cutting it a little close.

Nerd Season

From Phil's Phun site:

The bartender comes over to the man, sniffs and says, "You smell kind of nerdy. What do you do for a living?"

The truck driver says, "I drive a bigrig, and the smell is just from computers I am hauling."

The bartender says, "Okay, truck drivers are not nerds," and serves him a beer.

As he is sipping his beer, a skinny guy walks in with tape around his glasses, a pocket protector with twelve kinds of pens and pencils, and a belt at least a foot too long.

The bartender, without saying a word, pulls out a shotgun and blows the guy away.

The truck driver said, totally shocked, "Why did you do that?"

The bartender said, "Not to worry, the nerds are overpopulating Silicon Valley and are in season now. You don't even need a license!"

The truck driver finishes his beer, gets back in his truck, and heads back onto the freeway.

Suddenly he veers to avoid an accident, and the load shifts. The back doors breaks open and computers spill out all over the freeway. He jumps out and sees a crowd already forming, grabbing up the computers. They are all engineers, accountants and programmers wearing the nerdiest clothes he has ever seen.

He can't let them steal his whole load, so, remembering what happened in the bar, he pulls out his gun and starts blasting away, felling several of them instantly.

A highway patrol officer comes zooming up and jumps out of the car screaming at him to stop.

The truck driver said, "What's wrong? I thought nerds were in season."

"Well, sure," said the patrolman. "But you can't bait 'em!"

Tuesday Bowl Games; 12-27-11

There are two bowl games being played today/tonight. Both are being broadcast on ESPN.

The first, starting at 4:30 PM, is the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl in Detroit, Michigan. This pits the Western Michigan Broncos (7-5) vs. the Purdue Boilermakers (6-6). The Broncos have a slight edge in the home field advantage, but the Purdue fans will make the trip for a game being played under a roof. Purdue finished third in the Leaders Division of the Big 10 with a 4-4 conference record. Their sole signature win was a 26-23 victory over Ohio State. Western Michigan finished third in the West Division of the MAC with a 5-3 conference record. The ended the season with wins over Miami of Ohio and Akron. Look for the Broncos to pick apart the Purdue pass defense and put a number of points on the board. Alex Carder has engineered a pass offense ranked #8 in the nation. Wide receiver Jordan White has 127 catches for 1646 yards and 16 TDs. Their defense will do enough to produce a comfortable margin of victory.

Western Michigan 45, Purdue 20

The second, with a kickoff of 8 PM, is the Belk Bowl being played in Charlotte, NC. Here, it will be the Louisville Cardinals (7-5) vs. the N.C. State Wolfpack (7-5). N.C. State would seem to have a bit of a home field advantage.

The Wolfpack finished fourth in the Atlantic Division of the ACC (4-4 in conference) and ended the season with consecutive wins against Clemson and Maryland.

The Cardinals are listed as third in the Big East but had the same record in conference as Cincinnati and West Virginia (5-2). They, too, ended the regular season with two consecutive victories; over Connecticut and South Florida. This could be a real good game. Louisville got stronger as the year went on and their youngsters got more experience. Look for the Cardinals’ defense to hold the Wolfpack under control and the offense to do just enough to pull out a win.

Louisville 24, N.C. State 20

Monday, December 26, 2011

Whew! All my (major) running around is done!

Hoo-boy! Almost 1000 miles on the road between Saturday 10AM and this afternoon at 4 PM. I did 250 into NJ Saturday (Christmas Eve at my sister's and Christmas Morn at my MIL's), another 250 back to the Aerie after Sunday dinner. Then today I gobbled up a little over 800 miles as I traveled north to Fonda, NY to pick up a 1/4 cow from the farmer who raised and had it butchered. (Beeped my horn as I went through your neck of the woods Marianne. Did you hear me? Heck of a mess down by the river!)

At least the weather was gorgeous, traffic light--and when it wasn't it was still moving, and I've now got a freezer full of steaks, roasts and chop meat--LOTS of chop meat. I see a good many bowls of chili, loaves of meatloaf, lasagnas and spaghetti with meat sauce in the future! It's all good.


I was sitting here listening to the circulating pumps in the heating system run and run and run some more while my ears got progressively colder. Finally got up and checked the indoor temperatures: 57 degrees on the wall, 54 degrees on the counter! What the hey?! Down stairs I went and found the furnace's digital readout blinking an error code. Something about the return water temperature sensor. It's happened before. I pressed "reset" and the thing tried to fire up. No go and the error message was repeated. Turned the power off. Slowly counted to ten. Turned the power on. Hit the "reset" button again and--BINGO!--the furnace kicked on and the temperature of the water in the system started to climb. I'll be checking it every half hour or so to make sure it's still functioning but it's been chugging away for a while now and things are going A-OK. It will take some time for the air in the house to warm back to the usual 64 degrees but the floor certainly feels nice and toasty!


Terry's taking her Mom to Newark so she can catch a flight to Ft. Lauderdale tomorrow. That's where Mom catches the ship for the cruise through the Caribbean and half way through the Panama Canal. Terry's sister (Lucille), BIL (Doug), and nephew (Brian) will be accompanying her. Knowing Brian, Grandma will have a blast!

After dropping her Mom off, Terry will be returning to the Aerie.


I'm glad the Bears were not able to do anything with Green Bay last night. I might have been "forced" to watch. And, with today's long drive in the offing, I needed my sleep.

Back to Bowl games today with the Independence Bowl out of Shreveport, LA. It features Missouri (7-5) vs. North Carolina (7-5) and, at the half, isn't much of a contest. The Missouri Tigers are beating the snot out of the Tarheels, 31-10. North Carolina scored first (TD) but then Missouri got 31 unanswered points before the Tarheels ended the half with a FG. Debating whether I want to even turn on the TV for the second half.


Friday, Terry and I will drive down to Lewisburg for a meeting of the Rutgers Alumni Club and to watch the Pinstripe Bowl (Rutgers (8-4) vs Idaho State (6-6)). The game starts at 3:20 in the afternoon and will be aired by ESPN. If RU had been playing in any other locale (except Hawaii) we probably would have gone to the game. I have this thing about going to Yankee Stadium. (And flying, but that's another story.) This is a new chapter of the RAC located here in central PA. The previous "close" chapters are in Pittsburgh, Philly or Rochester. Far enough away that an afternoon/evening out is not going to happen. This is a straight shot--about 75 miles--down Route 15. We go that far to go to the Lycoming Mall. And more than that to go watch the Binghamton Mets.

BTW, did anyone watch the Hawaii Bowl Christmas Eve? Catch a glimpse of the stands? Yeah, it was tough to do since the cameras were trying very, very hard not to show the "crowd." Southern Miss and Nevada played a decent--if unusually low scoring game (USM 24: NEV 17), but you got the feeling that not even the players' families made the trip. I think there may have been more people around the Duggar Family's Christmas Dinner table on Sunday than at the game Saturday night.

I'm not blaming people for not showing up. Air fare alone would be astronomical. Then there would be the expensive hotel and everything else. Hell, who can afford to spend a week or more in Hawaii during the Christmas Season? (Besides THEM, I mean. THEY can go because we're footing the bill.)

Do you know the front from the back of a tree?

[via email from a friend. Sorry about the all-caps. I'm too lazy to clean it up today.]




















Saturday, December 24, 2011


Angels We Have Heard On High

Silent Night

Carol of the Bells

O Holy Night!

On The Road

I'll be heading into NJ today to celebrate Christmas with my sister's family (Christmas Eve) and with my MIL and Daughter (Christmas Day).

Terry left the Aerie yesterday heading in the same direction. Since she'll be staying a few days longer to help get Mom on her flight south so she can take a cruise to the Panama Canal, we decided to take separate vehicles...again. The round trip to the NJ locales is about 450 miles.

Monday, I'll most likely be heading up to New York State (Amsterdam area) to pick up some beef (1/4 of a steer) that we ordered. That will be a round trip of between 400 and 500 miles.

So, between the two, I'll be on the road for almost a thousand miles. And, except for the stiff knees, enjoying every minute of it.

In the mean time, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas. I'll see you on the flip side if not while I'm traveling. I've left some Christmas Carols for later this evening. Come back and enjoy if you so desire.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Three (more) Bowl Games

Three bowl games were played so far this week. Two of them were decided in the last minute while the third was a blowout from the opening kickoff!

Tuesday, Florida International and Marshall were tied 10 all at the half and at the end of the third quarter of the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl. Only when the Thundering Herd tallied 10 in the final quarter was the game decided. Marshall was able to break the tie with a 39-yard field goal--set up after a blocked punt—with just 5:16 left. Rakeem Cato (27-39 for 226 yards and 2 TDs) hit Aaron Dobson on a 35-yard TD pass with seconds left to ice the victory.


Wednesday, Mountain West Champions TCU squared off against Western Athletic Conference champion Louisiana Tech in the Poinsettia Bowl. This game was also tied 10-10 at the half but it was clear that the Bulldogs were outplaying the Horned frogs—right up until the last five minutes of the half. It was then that an interception set up an Ed Wesley 7-yard TD run to tie the game.

TCU’s Matthew Tucker scored another TD on a 1-yard run early in the second half, but then momentum then flipped back to Louisiana Tech as they converted two TCU turnovers into TDs to take a 24-17 lead into the fourth quarter. TCU tied the game again with 7:49 to go as Luke Shivers scored on a 1-yard run capping a time consuming, 72-yard, 18-play drive. After a three-and-out series by the Bulldogs, the Horned Frogs took the lead for good when they scored on a 42-yard touchdown pass from Casey Pachall (15 of 29 for 206 yards) to Skye Dawson with 4:26 remaining. Not the last minute, but close.

TCU amassed 190 yards on the ground. Colby Cameron completed 21 of 43 passes for 264 yards and two TDs for the Bulldogs.


Thursday evening, the Boise State Broncos rolled over the Arizona State Sun Devils in the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas in a game punctuated by BIG plays. The Broncos scored on the opening kickoff (100 yards by Doug Martin who also rushed for 151 yards for the night) and held a 7-0 lead with just 14 seconds off the clock.

Two first half touchdown passes by Kellen Moore and another by receiver Matt Miller gave the Broncos a 28-3 lead at the half.
When Arizona State’s Rashad Ross returned the kickoff starting the second half 98 yards for a TD it looked, for a moment, that there might be a chance for a game. Wasn’t to be, however.

The Broncos’ defense added touchdowns on a 100-yard interception return and a 26-yard interception return. And Doug Martin kept slashing through the line for yard after yard. When the night was over, he had 301 all-purpose yards, a new Las Vegas Bowl record.

While a Boise victory usually means big numbers by Kellen Moore, the biggest number he posted this time was 50. He’s the first quarterback to lead his team to 50 victories during his career. He did complete 26 of 34 for 293 yards and the two TDs. He also tossed two interceptions and fumbled once. Most unusual.

On the ASU side of the line, wide receiver Gerell Robinson set a bowl record with 241 yards on 13 catches. Brock Osweiler completed 30 of 47 passes for 395 yards and two TDs.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Winter Solstice and other thoughts.

Today marks the Winter Solstice. It's that day on which the Sun reaches its furthest point south of the Equator and begins to turn around. It's that day on which we have the fewest number of daylight minutes and the largest number of nighttime minutes. From now until June we will have more minutes of light and fewer of darkness in our part of the world.

In a counter intuitive manner, it is also the day that marks the beginning of Winter here in the Northern Hemisphere. The Earth works on a bit of a time delay in regards to the seasons. It takes time to store heat in the Spring/Summer and to lose that stored heat in the Fall/Winter. That's why the coldest days are yet to come--usually late January or early February despite the lengthening daylight hours. It's also why the hottest days of the year are usually late July or early August when the number of daylight hours are already decreasing.


The cats--Shadow in particular--seemed unhappy with the alignment of the Universe last night. They--she especially--started to howl at the door at 4 AM and got very serious about waking us up soon after. She succeeded. I got out of bed at 4:45 AM when I couldn't ignore the caterwauling any more. Of course, they are all snoozing with full bellies now (8 AM) while I'm looking for a second (or is it third) large mug of coffee.


The wind switched around to come from the south last evening and that brought slightly warmer temperatures as well as a fine misting rain. Cloud ceiling must be around 1800 feet and only the swirling wind coming over the mountain has kept us from being completely engulfed in fog.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Bird Roundup at the Aerie

Our bird feeders and the environs around the Aerie have been busy places lately.

We've seen a small flock of Goldfinches make them a daily stop. Anywhere from 12 to 24 of the olive birds with their black wings with white stripes can be seen in the morning getting their fill of black oil sunflower seeds.

A somewhat larger number of Dark-eyed Juncos can be found along the edge of the yard or underneath the feeders looking for seeds of all sorts on the ground. Some of these snowbirds will come up to the deck and the tray feeder to pick at the pieces of sunflower seeds left by the squirrels and larger birds but I seldom catch them actually opening a sunflower seed themselves.

The ground feeding Mourning Doves are often around. I've watched some of them start under the feeder and work their way up into the woods turning leaves to locate wind-blown seed or insects.

The Black-capped Chickadees continually flit in and out to raid the feeders. They seldom stay longer than it takes to pick out a "good" seed from the lot before they head off to the pines to either eat their find or stash it in some nook or crevasse for later.

The Tufted Titmice behave in much the same manner as the Chickadees, but are far fewer in number. Same with the White-breasted Nuthatches who are fewer still.

Yesterday we thought we saw a female Purple Finch at the tray and today we had confirmation of a sort when a male showed up in his raspberry colors.

We've got a few Downy Woodpeckers that come for seed, too. We'd probably have more if I put out a suet block, but the last one got carried off by a bear and the feeder was never seen again.

I thought I spotted a Brown Creeper in the locust trees off the yard the other day. I didn't have my binoculars with me but it was small and brown and sure behaved like one going down the tree trunk head first. It won't come to the seed feeders, however, as it prefers the insect eggs, bugs and spiders it finds in the tree bark.

Overhead there are the Common Ravens, American Crows and the occasional Red-tailed Hawk. They don't come to the feeders but they do make their presence known. (Actually, I keep waiting for the Red-tails to zoom in and snatch one of the many Gray Squirrels that monopolize the feeders for hours. I counted a dozen of the tree rats this morning. Or, perhaps, a Sharp Shinned Hawk to scoop up a Goldfinch or Junco.)

I also caught sight of a flock of geese, probably 175-200 Canadas, heading south the other day after the front moved through and the wind shifted and temperatures plummeted. They were way up there just beneath the cloud bottoms and seemed a bit disorganized as they tried to form up. It wasn't the prettiest V in the world and there was lots of discussion about that and perhaps their destination as they flew on.

There you have it. A roster of what's been seen at the Aerie over the past week or so.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Last Saturday's Bowl Games

While anticipating the games coming up this week, let's look back at those that were played on Saturday.

Last week I said: "None of these three pit so-called Top Teams against one another. None of the teams even won their own conference. Each game, however, looks to be pretty competitive." That last sentence proved true for two out of the three.

Only the Wyoming--Temple match proved to be a blow out with the Owls pounding the Cowboys in the New Mexico Bowl 37-15 in a game that wasn't that close. Temple had a 21-0 lead as the first half neared its close before Wyoming put 7 points on the board with 37 seconds to go. Bernard Pierce ran for 100 yards and two TDs to lead the Owls to their second ever bowl victory.

The other two games proved to be real nail biters as each came down to the closing seconds.

Ohio's Tyler Tettleton led a 61-yard drive in the final 2:02 and scored on a one-yard keeper with 13 seconds left to give Ohio its first bowl victory, 24-23 over Utah State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. It was Ohio's sixth bowl appearance. Michael Smith rushed for 157 yards on just 12 carries for the Utah State Aggies. He also scored two TDs--one of them on a 67-yard run from scrimmage. Smith's teammate, Robert Turbin, added 101 yards on 20 carries. The day, however, belonged to Tyler Tettleton. In addition to scoring the winning TD, he completed 19 of 26 pass attempts for 220 yards and two TDs of 26 and 44 yards.

The late night game (at least here in the east) saw the Ragin' Cajuns of Louisiana-Lafayette squeak out a victory over the San Diego State Aztecs 32-30 in the New Orleans Bowl when the Cajuns' place kicker Brett Baer connected on a 50-yard attempt with time running out to end an aerial shootout in which both teams had over 400 yards passing.

This one started out slow--it was just 13-3 at the half--but ended with everyone panting for breath. Baer had missed two extra point attempts earlier in the game--one blocked and one flat out missed--so his making a field goal from 50-yards out was anything but a sure thing! For the Cajuns, Blaine Gautier completed 24 of 40 passes for 470 yards and three TDs, receiver Darryl Surgent returned a punt 87 yards for a first half TD and finished the day with 283 all-purpose yards, while Javone Lawson made 9 catches for 193 yards and two TDs. The Aztec's Ryan Lindley completed 28 of 49 passes for 413 yards and three TDs--all to Colin Lockett. A failed 2-point conversion pass on San Diego State's final TD proved costly, however. This was the Ragin' Cajun's first bowl appearance in 41 years and being played in New Orleans, gave them something of a home field advantage as there were nearly 43,000 fans on hand setting a New Orleans Bowl attendance record.

So, there you have it. One game a blow out and two nail biters. Switching channels or--GASP--turning off a game at half time--as I did the New Orleans Bowl (Hey! It was after 10 PM already!), may cause you to miss some exciting finishes.

Bowls of the week

Four bowl games will be played this week. One pits two conference champs against each other: MWC vs. WAC. We're still not seeing the teams from what's considered the Top Conferences, but there will be some good football being played just the same.

Tuesday, 20-Dec The Beef O'Brady's Bowl in St. Petersburg, FL on ESPN at 8:00 PM
FIU Golden Panthers (8-4) vs. Marshall Thundering Herd (6-6)
Sun Belt Conference vs. Conference USA

Wednesday, 21-Dec The Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego, CA
on ESPN at 8:00 PM
#16 TCU Horned Frogs (10-2) vs. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (8-4)
Champs of the Mountain West Conference vs. Champs of the Western Athletic Conference

Thursday, 22-Dec The Maaco Bowl in Las Vegas, NV
on ESPN at 8:00 PM
#8 Boise State Broncos (11-1) vs. Arizona State Sun Devils (6-6)
Mountain West Conference vs. PAC 12

Saturday, 24-Dec The Hawaii Bowl in Honolulu, HI
on ESPN at 8:00 PM
#22 Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles (11-2) vs. Nevada Wolf Pack (7-5)
Champs of Conference USA vs. Western Athletic Conference

Saturday, December 17, 2011

About that poverty report by the AP...

I snorted fluids through my nose when I read this over at Instapundit:

THE HORROR: When half of all households are below the median income. I blame Barack Obama, and I want a president who won’t rest until everyone is above the median income! But how likely is that when most people are perfectly satisfied to live in a society where twenty percent are in the bottom quintile?

Posted by Glenn Reynolds at 2:57 pm

The I read the linked article and didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

The other day AP published an article titled, "Census shows 1 in 2 people are poor or low-income," which pointed to a US Census Bureau report showing that half of all households earn less than the median national income. Yes, you read that correctly.

The AP's Hope Yen reported:

Squeezed by rising living costs, a record number of Americans -- nearly 1 in 2 -- have fallen into poverty or are scraping by on earnings that classify them as low income.

The Census Bureau's definition of a 'low-income household' is less than $45,000, as the AP's Yen wrote:

Many middle-class Americans are dropping below the low-income threshold -- roughly $45,000 for a family of four...

As we noted in a post on the AP 'story,' the US Census Bureau estimates that the median 2009 US household income was about $50,000.

Sounds like a report on Lake Woebegone:
Lake Wobegon is characterized as the town where "all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average."

My goodness! Half the US households are below the middle (median) income level! Who would have thunk it!

Lies. Damn lies. And statistics. (Although that usually only works if you can confuse people with the statistics--not your stupidity.)

Friday, December 16, 2011

1500 Eared Grebes crash into
WalMart Parking Lot

And it wasn't even Black Friday.

It happened in southern Utah earlier this week.

They're just everywhere. That's how a wildlife manager describes the mass casualties of Eared Grebes that crash landed in southern Utah on Monday night. Some 1,500 grebes died, another 3,000 have been rescued. The small water birds were migrating and apparently mistook a Walmart parking lot, highways and football fields covered with snow for bodies of water.

An ornithologist (Kevin McGowan. He's at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, New York) discusses the whys and wherefores on NPR.

Kevin McGowan:
Well, these guys are flying at night. So, they are up in the air and are usually trying to figure out which way is up, by the fact that the sky is lighter than the ground. It sounds like there was bad weather that they ran into and were trying to get down out of the air.

Then they look down and they see this wide-open, dark area that looks like it's got - it's shiny, it is reflecting the sky. Hey, that's got to be a lake. And that's exactly what they're looking for. So they went down to land in a nice glide at 40 miles an hour and expecting the waters to part in front of them and it was asphalt. That's not so good if you're a grebe.

Of course, such things have happened in the past. Birds crash into frozen lakes and rivers often. But there are plenty of eyes about now and there were not then.

More at the link above or ">here.

Now THAT'S a...

...BIG bear!

829-pound bear takes record in N.J. hunt

We lived in Morristown in Morris County back before we moved to PA. I hunted in Warren County and saw bears while I was out there. Never saw one this big, however.

Well, that's one way... avoid the bear hunting season in New Jersey.

HOPATCONG, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The 550-pound bear that was found hiding out in a New Jersey basement had been living there for weeks.
Annacone learned about his roommate yesterday from Dave Cornine, a Cablevision technician who had come over for a repair job in the basement.

“I heard the growl, I thought what is that noise,” Cornine said.

Cornine turned around and saw an enormous black bear waking up in the corner. He didn’t stick around to make friends with the animal.

The bear was eventually tagged and released on state property. Hopefully a good distance from Mr. Annacone's home.

Read the rest here.

Aerie Report, December16, 2011

It's been a wild ride over the past 24 hours here at the Aerie.

All day yesterday the winds blew out of the south and we were hit with a misting rain much of the day as we watched a long thin stream of heavier and sometimes down right violent rain move north northeast over the Allegheny National Forest, Erie and Buffalo. As this band of rain rapidly moved along the front, it also edged its way eastward and it became a question of whether or not we would be affected by its passing.

All day the temperatures slowly rose as the warm southern air engulfed us until the thermometer reached its high of 50 degrees around 7 PM. That's about when the wind shifted to come from the west and the tail of the band of rain hit us. It poured for a little over half an hour as that front moved through. Then the wind shifted even more so as to come from the northwest and its velocity began to increase as well.

During the night, the rain stopped but the wind blew even harder. The house creaked under the onslaught and the sound of the wind in the trees increased to the point of being akin to a freight train just outside the window. It woke us between three and four AM with its din.

Miraculously, there were no trees blown down or uprooted under the force of the wind. If this had happened while there were still leaves on the branches, I'm sure the story would have been different.

The wind has since died down to a more acceptable 5-10 mph. The temperature has also dropped to 30 degrees this morning as Canadian air moves in. It's still overcast and gray but the threat of precipitation whether rain or snow is pretty much over.


Tomorrow promises to be a cool but clear day for our annual Christmas Bird Count. Terry and I will be hitting the Lamb's Creek area, part of the Mansfield Watershed area up on Shaw Road and, perhaps, the Firetower in the State Gamelands Area 37. A lot depends upon how much we see and how much time we spend in any one area. Each of these would be full morning visits--in the spring. During the winter there are far fewer birds and bird species around. In a preliminary scout last week, we saw and heard very, very few individual birds.


Terry has been out partying with all her groups (Ladies' Guild, EGA, Curves) virtually every day this week and tomorrow's Bird Count ends with another luncheon at a friends house.

Next week we'll be heading into NJ for Christmas Eve with my sister and her family and Christmas Day with Grandma and our daughter, Jessica. We'll take two cars since Terry is going in early and staying late. Grandma needs a ride to the airport for a cruise through the Panama Canal with grandson Brian and daughter Lucille and SIL Doug, with whom she will connect in Miami.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Let the Bowl Season Begin!

This Saturday begins the post season in college footballs FBS division. There are three games on tap.

New Mexico Bowl at Albuquerque, NM on ESPN2 at 2:00 PM
Wyoming Cowboys(8-4) vs. Temple Owls (8-4)
Mountain West Conference vs. Mid-American Conference

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl at Boise, ID on ESPN at 5:30 PM
Ohio Bobcats (9-4) vs. Utah State Aggies (7-4)
Mid-American Conference vs. Western Athletic Conference

New Orleans Bowl at New Orleans, LA on ESPN at 9:00 PM
La.-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns (8-4) vs. San Diego State Aztecs (8-4)
Sun Belt Conference vs. Mountain West Conference

None of these three pit so-called Top Teams against one another. None of the teams even won their own conference. Each game, however, looks to be pretty competitive.

The next two weeks will see many games of this nature leading up to The Big One on January 9. The BCS Championship Game has lost some of its luster (at least in my mind) since it's a rerun of LSU vs. Alabama.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

For you ski bums out there

Are you a skier who lives in town and can't get to a slope out in the mountains? Well, that's no excuse at all! Watch the video below for some ideas (and great footage) of some urban skiing.

(Okay, the skis might not be in good shape after hitting the pavement, but it sure looks like he's having fun!)

(Seen on the sidebar over at Ace's.)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Groundhog Day 2012

Groundhog Day..............

In the coming year, 2012, both Groundhog Day and The State of the Union Address will occur on the same day.

This is an ironic juxtaposition of events.

One involves a meaningless ritual in which we look to an insignificant creature of little intelligence for prognostication.

The other involves a groundhog.

(Seen at Theo Spark's place.)

A Scotsman sees his first baseball game

A Scotsman moves to Canada and attends his first baseball game.

The first batter approaches the batters' box, takes a few swings and then hits a double. Everyone is on their feet screaming "Run!"

The next batter hits a single. The Scotsman listens as the crowd again cheers "RUN! RUN!" The Scotsman is enjoying the game and begins screaming with the fans.

The fifth batter comes up and four balls go by. The Umpire calls: "Walk." The batter starts his slow trot to first base. The Scot stands up and screams, "Run ye lazy bastard, RRUNN!" The people around him begin laughing. Embarrassed, the Scot sits back down.

A friendly fan notes the man's embarrassment, leans over and explains, "He can't run -- he's got four balls."

The Scot stands up and screams, "Walk with pride, Laddie! Walk with pride."

(Seen at Phils Phun where there's lots of things to make you smile and laugh out loud.)

On Obamacare

From Rasmussen Reports:

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 55% of Likely U.S. Voters at least somewhat favor repeal of the health care law passed by Congress in March 2010, while 35% at least somewhat oppose repeal.

Only 55%? Apparently some in that other 35% still don't know what's in the bill or its implications.

Anytime someone tells you you have to pass a bill to find out what's in it, your automatic--and correct--response should be: "No."

Make that: "Hell no!"

Sunday, December 11, 2011

"Ya gotta believe!"

The Mets' Tug McGraw coined the phrase "Ya gotta believe!" Well, that slogan may have moved west.

Denver trailed Chicago 10-0 late in the fourth quarter.

No problem!

Tebow threw for a TD to Demaryius Thomas. Score: 10-7

THEN he lead the Broncos j-u-s-t across midfield from which Matt Prater tried--and made--a 59-yard field goal to tie it a 10 as time ran out.

The Bears got the opening kickoff in the OT period and marched down the field. While in field goal range on the Denver 34 (Robbie Gould had already made a 57-yarder), Marion Barber fumbled and Denver recovered.

Tebow and the Broncos moved up field and eventually stopped at the Chicago 33-yard line. Prater came on and kicked a 51-yarder--a chip shot--for the win.

The kid who can't do anything has now lead his team to a 7-1 record in the eight games he has started. Today he was 21 of 40 for 236 yards and a TD. He also lead the team in rushing with 49 yards on 12 carries.

Four of the seven wins came on the last play of the game. Three were in OT (@Miami 18-15, @San Diego 16-13 and now at home vs Chicago 13-10). The 38-35 win against the Vikings came on a Prater field goal as time ran out, too. The 17-13 win over the Jets was a come from behind in the fourth quarter affair, too. They beat the Jets with a 20-yard touchdown run with 58 seconds--by Tim Tebow.

Less spectacular were the 38-24 win at Oakland (although the last 14 points came in the fourth quarter) and the 17-10 win at Kansas City (they actually lead that game going into the fourth quarter 10-7).

Denver, after starting the season 1-4, now leads the AFC West with a 8-5 record.

Right now, with Tebow and Prater, the Broncos are a tough foe. Especially since it seems they're getting some help from The Big Guy Upstairs.

PA Hunting: Days10-13: Thur, Fri, Sat.

The Wednesday snow meant I had to clean up on Thursday, which I did and then relaxed for the afternoon. With a dump truck in the ditch just up the hill and the attendant noise associated with getting it out and moving, I didn't feel I missed much going up the hill.

I heard no shots fired anywhere near the Aerie Thursday afternoon...or all day Friday. I did take a bit of a walk Friday and saw just one set of deer tracks made sometime during the night. Those tracks passed up the logging road and on out the southwest end of the property. With no other signs I was discouraged enough not to go out on Saturday--the last day of the rifle season.

Apparently, no one else saw anything either. There were no shots fired anywhere near on Saturday.

The season ended with a whimper and not a bang.

So, of course, this evening--the day after the season ended and a Sunday when PA doesn't allow hunting and after dark when hunting is not allowed--I stepped out on the deck and heard/saw at least four deer coming down the hill and crossing the road. I'm telling you, deer can read the compendium, the calender, and the clock.

A visual on relative earthquake strengths

If you've ever listened to the talking heads on TV, when reporting on earthquakes, speak of the exponential nature of the Richter Scale but had difficulty wrapping your head around the concept, this might help:

(There's no sound to distract you from the numbers and graphics.)

(Saw the link first at by James R. Rummel)

Friday, December 09, 2011

Hey! We're #1!

Tioga County tops bear harvest

Bears were harvested in 54 of the state's 67 counties. The leading counties in the state for the total bear harvest are Tioga, 343; Potter, 327 and Lycoming, 291, according to the Game Commission website.

(Could explain why a lot of hunters in Tioga haven't seen many deer this fall.)

State-wide there have been some impressively sized bruins taken:
Eighty-one bears were reported weighing 500 pounds or more, with the top 10 bears processed all having estimated live weights that exceeded 678 pounds. The largest bear harvested had an estimated live weight of 767 pounds.

(from the Williamsport Sun Gazette)

Someone alert Paula Dean!

Norway needs butter now
High-fat diet craze leaves Norwegians starved of butter

Norwegians have eaten up the country’s entire stockpile of butter, partly as the result of a “low-carb” diet sweeping the Nordic nation which emphasizes a higher intake of fats.

“Sales all of a sudden just soared, 20 per cent in October then 30 per cent in November,” said Lars Galtung, the head of communications at TINE, the country’s biggest farmer-owned cooperative.

It's all about the buttah!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Snow Report from the Aerie,
December 8, 2011

We've gotten 7-8 inches of white stuff on the ground and it's 29 degrees this morning. The official reading down in Covington is just 4 inches, but they are down in the Route 15 valley some 700 feet or more below our location. This one doesn't look like it'll melt away like the last two 3-inch falls. Time to get the shovels out and fire up the tractor.

The good news is that that they say it will be getting sunny later in the day. Warmer, too.

UPDATE: 11:30 AM There was less snow on the ground than I thought. The 7-8 inches were on the deck where cooling from below occurred. On the drive there was more like 4-5 inches. That's too little for the tractor to do much good although I used it anyway to scrape the long stretches. The snow was heavy with moisture, too, so shovel work was tough. I pushed the snow into windrows and then used the tractor from the flank to clear the bulk of the area.

Now the clouds have cleared and the sun is out. The temperature is just above freezing and melting is underway.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

PA Hunting: Day 9: A Snow-go kinda day.

After the early morning fog and rain, the snow started before noon. Initially it was a heavy wet snow since the temperature was around 36 degrees. But as the temperature fell, the snow flakes got smaller but more numerous. Between 2 and 4 PM it was really coming down.

Well, the 1-3 inches has become more like 6 inches. It's currently 9 PM and it's still snowing. Radar maps show this will end around midnight.

I'll be spending the morning moving snow around.

They goofed again.

Well, the weathermen screwed the pooch on today's forecast!

On Sunday they said today was supposed to be a bright sunny day. Today we have continued fog and rain that may or may not turn to some snow showers later. now says there's a winter weather advisory for the area and we could have an inch or so of snow overnight.

Apparently, the front has stalled and the jet stream is parked just to our east. It's bringing moisture in from the Gulf and the coast and here we sit right under--and in--the precipitation. Travel a little to the north and west and the radar shows snow and ice. Another fifty miles and the radar shows clear.

Could be worse. The Poconos and Catskills may see 3-6 inches of snow--if you can believe the forecast.

Do you think they use a Ouija board or flip a coin?

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

PA Hunting: Day 8: Another no-go.

Another day in the house and not in the field. My back and knees are protesting. The weather really was poor, too. The rain we got last night was supposed to end by noon. Didn't happen. The radar on didn't show much in the way of green blobs indicative of rain but that might have been because the clouds were flying below the radar. We were in fog all day. Even when it rained, we were still in the fog. Temperatures have slowly fallen all day as well. We started the morning in the upper 40s and they've dropped down to the upper 30s.

Maybe tomorrow. Maybe not.


I spent part of yesterday and again today down in the wood shop. I'm working on some super-secret Christmas presents that I can not put photos of on this site because some of the recipients may get a sneak peek if I do.


We finally got the last of our Christmas cards in the mail today. That's only about a week late. Terry usually addresses them all the day after Thanksgiving and I write up the letter to be enclosed. This year we were both a little slow.


We've already received some cards from family and friends but today we got our first Christmas present. Brian and Vicki sent a package of Omaha Steaks. While we certainly will enjoy them, I have to wonder if he's trying to say something about my efforts to put some venison in the freezer?

Monday, December 05, 2011

PA Hunting: Day 7: Fuh gettabout it!

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Five days last week I went to the same spot on the hillside behind the Aerie hoping to 1-ambush a buck and then 2-ambush a doe or a buck. Didn't happen.

On a couple of those days, my knees and back were acting up, but I struggled through the aches and pains to stay on stand or take short walks around that end of the property looking for sign. Saturday was not one of those days. In fact I felt really, really good. Perhaps it had to do with the sky-high barometric readings and the beautiful weather.

That changed on Sunday afternoon as a front approached and then stalled over the western half of the state. Clouds returned and with them the threat of rain. Along the Ohio River Valley and over Lakes Erie and Ontario to the west the threat manifested itself and a long, skinny string of rain showers moved/marched from Houston to Toronto and beyond. It's still there coming up from the south along a giant of a loop of the Jet Stream. We're getting some of the warm winds associated with the weather along with a drop in the air pressure, but, so far, no rain. (It's 40 degrees here, yet it's snowing in New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas? Weird.)

The drop in air pressure--and perhaps sitting all Sunday afternoon watching Jets and Giants football--has caused aches and pains in both knees and along my back at the belt line. My shoulders don't feel too good either. In short, every joint started complaining last night and continues complaining this morning. As a result, I've opted out of today. Just going to take a couple of arthritis strength acetaminophen and climb back under the covers. Might stay there until Wednesday when this rain is supposed to finally get the heck out of here.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

NFL Lessons

Three things I learned watching football today:

1: Never give up on the J-E-T-S. Trailing 16-13 going into the fourth quarter the scored 21 points in that period and won 34-19.

2: The Giants play Jekyll-Hyde football. Excellent in the first half of the season and pretty bad in the second half. Last week they were horrible against New Orleans. This week they were pretty damn good. Tying the game at 35 in the fourth quarter they made only one mistake: they left 58 seconds on the clock for Rodgers and the Packers. And it cost the G-men 38-35 on the final second of the game.

3: Tim Tebow. If you listen to the "experts" you'd think the poor kid can't do anything. Yet all he does is lead his team to wins! The Broncos are starting to believe and are playing like they don't mean to stop. Today they came from behind to take down the Minnesota Vikings. On the passing side, Tebow completed 10 of 15 attempts but got 202 yards and two third quarter TDs. Teammate Willis McGehee rushed for 111 yards and scored a fourth quarter TD after which Tebow rushed for a two-point conversion. Matt Prater kicked two late field goals to tie with 1:33 left and then win the game 35-32 as time ran out.

College Football 2011, Week 14 results

And then there was one. Undefeated team that is. LSU extended its perfect season with a dominant second half against #12 Georgia in the SEC Championship game. The Houston Cougars did not.

Ah, but there were a few stunning upsets this weekend. The #5 Virginia Tech Hokies fell to #21 Clemson—again. The #7 Houston Cougars lost their C-USA Championship game and its undefeated season to the #24 Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles. The #11 Spartans of Michigan State got beat by #15 Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship.

Virtually everyone on the list below—with the notable exception of Southern California— will be bowling in the weeks ahead.

(Polls are AP, Coaches’, the CBSSports120 and the BCS. NR = not ranked)

1/1/1/1 LSU (13-0) The Tigers teed off on the #12 Georgia Bulldogs (10-3) 42-10 for the SEC Championship. While the Bulldogs played tough in the first half—jumping out to a 10-0 advantage and lead 10-7 at the break—the final 30 minutes belonged to the Tigers. Kenny Hilliard scored three TDs—two n the ground and one on a Jordan Jefferson pass. Morris Claiborne closed out the scoring when he returned an interception 45 yards for a TD.

2/2/3/2 Alabama (11-1) The Crimson Tide have finished their season.

3/5/2/3 Oklahoma State (11-1) The Cowboys routed the #13 Sooners of Oklahoma (9-3) 44-10. So dominant were the Cowboys that the Sooners TD came late in the fourth quarter when it was 44-3. Joseph Randle rushed 19 times for 151 yards and two TDs, Jeremy Smith had 119 yards and two more rushing TDs on 10 carries, and Richetti Jones returned a fumble five yards for a score for the Cowboys.

4/4/6/4 Stanford (11-1) The Cardinal will face UCLA in the PAC 12 Championship. Oops. Of course, the Cardinal season had ended. I goofed!

5/3/10/5 Virginia Tech (11-2) The Hokies hopes for revenge for their only loss to date were dashed as the #21 Clemson Tigers (10-3) whipped them again for the ACC Championship 38-10. Tajh Boyd came out of a four game funk to complete 20 of 29 passes for 240 yards and three TDs and scored a fourth on the ground as he led the Tigers. Andre Ellington rushed 20 times for 125 yards and a TD.

6/10/14/8 Arkansas (10-2) The Razorbacks’ season has ended.

7/6/5/6 Houston (12-1) The Cougars lost to the #24 Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles (11-2) 49-28. Austin Davis completed 17 of 33 pass attempts for 279 yards and four TDs in leading the Golden Eagles. Furious Bradley returned a blocked punt 11 yards for a Southern Miss score. Case Keenum, intercepted only three times in the previous 12 games, was intercepted twice with one being returned by Ronnie Thornton 26 yards for a TD. Keenum was 41 of 67 for 373 yards and did connect twice with Justin Johnson for TD scores, but he spent a good part of the afternoon being hurried and/or laying on his back.

8/7/9/9 Oregon (10-2) The Ducks’ season has ended. Oops! The Ducks faced the UCLA Bruins in the PAC 12 Championship game and came out 49-31 victors. LaMichael James rushed for 219 yards and three TDs.

9T/NR/11/NR Southern California (10-2) The Trojans season has come to an end.

9T/8/5/7 Boise State (11-1) The Broncos drubbed the New Mexico Lobos (1-11) 45-0. Kellen Moore completed 28 of 33 attempts for 313 yards and three TDs in his final game on the Blue Carpet. Doug Martin carried the ball 22 times for 110 yards and two TDs.

11/9/19/13 Michigan State (10-3) The Spartans fell to the #15 Wisconsin Badgers (11-2) in the Big Ten Championship game 42-39. Montee Ball scored three TD rushing (27 carries for 137 yards) and a fourth on a pass from Russell Wilson for the Badgers. Kirk Cousins completed 22 of 30 pass attempts for 281 yards and hit B.J. Cunningham for three TDs for the Spartans.

12/14/15/14 Georgia (10-3) The Bulldogs fell 42-10 to the LSU Tigers (13-0) for the SEC Championship. See above for more.

13/11/4/10 Oklahoma (9-3) The Sooners were routed 44-10 by the #3 Oklahoma State Cowboys (11-1). More above.

14/13/13/12 South Carolina (10-2) The Gamecocks’ season has come to an end.

15/12/16/15 Wisconsin (11-2) The Badgers edged the #11 Michigan State Spartans (10-3) in the Big Ten Championship game 42-39. More above.

16/15/12/11 Kansas State (10-2) The Wildcats beat the Iowa State Cyclones (6-6) 30-23. John Hubert carried the ball 15 times gaining 120 yards and scoring a TD, Collin Klein threw for one TD and ran for a second and Anthony Cantele converted three field goals for the Wildcats. Jeff Woody had two TDs on the ground for the Cyclones.

17/16/8/6 Michigan (10-2) The Wolverines’ season is over.

18/17/17/18 TCU (10-2) The Horned Frogs creamed the UNLV Rebels (2-10) 56-9 in their season finale. TCU’s defense held UNLV to just 164 yards net offense and six first downs. Greg McCoy returned a punt 99 yards for a TD and Kris Gardner returned an interception 16 yards for another. The other six TCU TDs came on the ground with five different players crossing the goal line. Only Waymon James scored twice. The Frogs will be bowling now that they are Mountain West Champs, but will they be ranked high enough for that bowl to be one of the BCS big six?

19/18/18/17 Baylor (9-3) The Bears doubled up on the Texas Longhorns (7-5) 48-24. Robert Griffin III put in his bid for the Heisman when he ran for two TDs and passed for two more. Griffin completed 15 of 22 attempts for 320 yards. Case McCoy completed 24 of 39 for 356 yards and two TDs for the Longhorns but he was intercepted four times. Texas also lost two fumbles and was penalized 12 times for 105 yards.

20/19/20/19 Nebraska (9-3) The Cornhuskers’ season has ended.

21/21/25/20 Clemson (10-3) The Tigers dominated the#5 Virginia Tech Hokies (11-2) 38-10 earning the ACC Championship and a trip to the Orange Bowl. More above.

22/20/NR/23 West Virginia (9-3) The Mountaineers edged the South Florida Bulls (5-7) Thursday night 30-27 on a field goal as time ran out. The win earned WVA a piece of the Big East title. In addition to Tyler Bitancurt’s winning 28-yard field goal, the Mountaineers got a 90-yard kickoff return for a TD by Tavon Austin and an interception return of 52 yards by Pat Miller for another TD. Bitancurt also hit field goals of 23 and 42 yards. WVA, Louisville and Cincinnati are all 5-2 in the Big East.

23/22/24/21 Penn State (9-3) The Nittany Lions’ season is finished.

24/23/23/24 Southern Mississippi (11-2) The Golden Eagles upset the #7 Houston Cougars (12-1) in the Conference USA Championship game 49-28. See above for more.

25/24/NR/NR Florida State (8-4) The Seminoles have ended their season.

NR/NR/21/22 Texas (7-5) The Longhorns ended their season at #19 Baylor Bears (9-3) losing 48-24. See above for more.

NR/NR/22/NR Notre Dame (8-4) The Irish season has come to an end.

NR/NR/NR/25 Missouri (7-5) The Tigers have ended their season.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

PA Hunting: Day 6

Nada. Zip. Nil. Nothing.

That about sums up my day in the woods.

Started out the coldest morning yet with a temp of 24 degrees when I went out. Thankfully the wind was nonexistent. The only movement I could detect was of the cold air sinking down the hill to the valley. Until around 9 AM when the windmills all turned to the south and a slight breeze started blowing. Regardless of the direction they faced, breeze at my level was in my face. The sun came over the hill shortly after that and things warmed slightly. It eventually reached 40 degrees at the Aerie but it felt cooler in the woods.

Not only did I not see a deer, but there were very few shots fired and only one of them was anywhere in the vicinity. It was pretty lonely out there.

No hunting tomorrow. PA doesn't allow any on Sunday. The weather is supposed to deteriorate next week so we'll see if I get the urge to go out at all.

Friday, December 02, 2011

PA Hunting: Day 5

With the weather supposed to be decent I opted to head out to the woods once more. When I went out at 6:30 it was still 30 degrees with a promise (by the usual suspects) of it reaching the low 40s. Any snow showers were supposed to be confined to the Southern Tier of New York State. So I chose to leave the heavy cold wear in the house and only put on some heavier socks and insulated boots.

I got to the stand at 6:45 and settled in as silently as possible to wait for a buck to show up.

I'm still waiting.

I sat and stared around me for several hours with only two gray squirrels and several ravens for company. Both squirrels came from the same direction and were heading for the same thing--my bird feeders.

One squirrel took the ground route. It's amazing that a single squirrel can one moment raise such a ruckus kicki up leaves as it moves across the forest floor and, the next moment, be totally silent as it hits the logs and rocks along its route.

The second squirrel took the aerial route. It saw me and decided its safest path would be overhead. I watched as it navigated from tree to tree and from thin, fragile-looking branch to even more fragile-looking landing twig. I marveled at the daring little devil as it would back up on a skinny little branch, turn, and then race to the end before leaping. Landing on a tiny little twig that shouldn't support its weight, it would race to the thicker portion of the branch and continue on its way. Finally getting sufficiently past me that it no longer worried about me, it descended to the ground and went on its way.

As for the ravens, they performed their usual aerial ballet. And accompanied it with plenty of chatter. I don't speak Corvus and these rude birds weren't speaking English in my company, but I imagine they were commenting on my hunting. I do believe I caught on word, however. It sounded like, "Nevermore!"

A little after noon, I saw another hunter emerge from the spruce woods on at the bottom of the cove. He turned and walked the logging road up the other side. I don't post my land and neither do two of my immediate neighbors so I wasn't too surprised to see a human. I was disappointed, however. I had been thinking of going up that way myself after I ate my lunch. Worse, the guy didn't kick up any deer.

When I did finish my sandwich, the flurries that were supposed to stay north of here, started to fall. It would spit snow for the rest of my stay. I already knew it wasn't going to get over 40 degrees. The sun never made it over the hill before the cloud cover intensified keeping the temps in the mid 30s. I was regretting not wearing the heavier pants and jacket as bouts of shivering were starting to plague me. By 3:30 they wouldn't stop. And the helicopter--the one that flew up the power line right of way next to me, circled overhead to check something out and then flew back down the way it had come--made up my mind. I headed in.

Tomorrow I'll be able to legally shoot a doe as well as any buck with three or more points on a side. Thus, I'm sure to see a bunch of spikes and fork horns. (If I wasn't so ethical, I'd already have a doe in the freezer. But I read the laws and when they say no does in the first week, well, what can you do?)

Thursday, December 01, 2011

PA Hunting: Day 4

I took the day off today to do a few things around the house and give my knees a rest.

I regretted it a bit, as today was the nicest yet. It was a chilly (and icy) 28 degrees at 7 AM and, without a cloud in the sky, it got up to 50 degrees this afternoon. Dressed for cold, I would have been striping in the woods. A beautiful day.

Tomorrow I'll be back in the woods early in the morning. It's supposed to be slightly cooler but just as clear--according to AccuHunch says there may be snow flurries in the afternoon. Somebody must have flipped a coin and had it land on edge.


Got a call from my buddy Joe. He and some of the old Jersey crew were hunting in eastern PA on one of the guy's uncle's farm. They tagged two 7-pointers and a doe during the first three days.