Friday, September 30, 2005

What Would You Do If You Won the Lotto?

You know, there a lot of people out there who would allow the winning of $15 million change their lives. Apparently this guy isn’t one of them. He was a pain-in-the-a$$ before he won and continues to live the same life style after he won.

"Before he won the lottery, he was a nuisance," Charles Joyce, a local official, said. "He decided to carry on being a nuisance."

You have to admire a man who doesn’t let the money go to his head.

Then again, with a yard like this

And he has been told to clean up the yard of his house, strewn as it is with tires, beer cans, food wrappers, wrecked furniture and the hulks of half-smashed-up old cars.

he could fit right into many a neighborhood in Appalachia or the Adirondacks.

And he has found a way around Great Britain’s gun ban

He was recently ordered to perform 240 hours of community service - later increased to 300 - after shooting ball bearings through 32 car and shop windows with a catapult as he drove around in the middle of the night.

Gotta love it. Go read the whole thing.

Miracle Mice

You know, if this story reported in Wired is real—and not another “cold fusion” kind of story—it is truly amazing. Mice that can regenerate parts of their bodies? Definitely cool.

But the researches need therapy:

Researchers systematically amputated digits and damaged various organs of the mice, including the heart, liver and brain, most of which grew back.

Meanwhile I can see this in the future.

Originally uploaded by sixeight.

(What is kinda cool about this guy is that he is on the Jersey Shore.)

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Idaho Is Shaking!

With Rick attending the University of Idaho in Moscow (it’s up in the panhandle of Idaho, north of Lewiston and just across the border from Pullman, WA) I wonder if he has felt any of these little quakelets that have been swarming the state lately. The center of activity is about 100 miles south of Moscow so I suppose it's possible although the strength of the quakes is quite low and they seem to be pretty shallow.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Progress Report

Okay. I haven’t written about the progress being made on our log home in a couple of weeks so I’ll try to fill in some gaps with this. Back on the 18th of September, we met with the contractor, Don K., out in PA. He invited us out for Sunday dinner with his wife and then sat down to explain what he had done vis-à-vis getting bids on the various components of construction. We talked about some changes to be made in the foundation walls and the type of fireplaces we want for the family room and the basement. We also discussed the timeline. He assures me that the excavator can get his work done starting early April (April 1 is our hope) and that once they start, it should take about nine months or less to get everything done. If that turns out to be true and there are no delays, we could be in our new home around Christmas, 2006.

Now we need to go to Beaver Mountain and order the engineer’s drawings and contact the mortgage company to arrange for financing. The bulk of the money from the sale of our current home will go to pay for the construction of the home in PA, but we will still carry a mortgage so we can use some of the income to purchase appliances and furniture for our new home.

Meanwhile, back at our current home, I have contacted a tree service to trim the four large oak trees. (There are two 100-125 year-old red oaks and two 200-250 year-old white oaks.) I’ve also asked a landscaper to work up a plan for the front yard with some new sod and plantings and retaining wall to give the home a little more curb appeal. I can finally report some success in growing grass in the back yard despite the heavy shade. Now I’ll have to be careful when the leaves fall so I don’t rake up the new growth. And, of course, the grass just has to establish a decent root system before things freeze up! Indoors, we’ve been bundling up old magazines and books for recycling and throwing out all the “stuff” we have a been saving because we thought we would find a use for it some day. Some people have a “junk” drawer in their kitchen; we have junk rooms in the house. With al our cooking, canning, writing, reading, sewing, fishing, and hunting stuff—well, there’s not a lot of empty space.

Giant Squid Caught on Video

When I was a kid (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth) I used to haunt the public library down the street from my house. One of my favorite authors was Jules Verne. I read everything they had on the shelves that came from his pen. I guess that (and the stories of Hemmingway fishing off Chile’s coast) is the reason I find this article about giant squid caught on tape so fascinating.

Monday, September 26, 2005

California Raisins

I had to run out this evening and had WMTR 1250 tuned in on the radio. They played Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and immediately I had visions of dancing and singing California Raisins in my head. Does anyone else have this problem?

If you need an additional memory jogger; the California Raisins started as a commercial for…well, California Raisins. They graduated to other products and then a television special or two (I vividly remember the Christmas special with a camel stealing the show), a couple of record albums (just how do animated characters make a record career…. What was that Alvin, Simon, Theodore? Oh, that’s how.), a TV show (although they were cell animated for the cartoon show), and lots of toys and memorabilia.

The Raisins were created by the Will Vinton Studios. While not the first animator to use the technique, Vinton polished up the method known as claymation and help make it what it is today. keep that in mind when you go to watch the latest Wallace and Gromett flick.

Other links:

The California Raisins: Biography and Much More From
The California Raisins: A Who2 Profile
Did you Know...?: The California Raisins

Will Vinton: Biography and Much More From

It's Raining!

Despite all the video of flooding in the Gulf region, we here in northern New Jersey have been experiencing another period of extremely dry--some might say arid--weather. Until this evening, the last measurable rain fell on the 16th of the month. That's 10 days without rain. The ground is, excuse me, was, dry as a bone when I went out to the garden and the front lawn, the one I'm not watering, was desiccated and hard as a rock.

I can almost hear the oak trees sigh as they suck up the water!

I had to drove up I-287 to Route 46 this afternoon and took a peek at the jersey City Reservoir in Parsippany. You could see an awful lot of shoreline but it's not as low as it was last year when you could see the rock walls of the flooded fields.

“Would you believe…?"

Don Adams, Agent 86 of “Get Smart” fame died today. His show, with co-star Barbara Feldon as Agent 99, was entertaining, funny and incredibly clean. This AP article from the Boston Globe points out some things I didn’t know. For instance: Would you believe that Mel Brooks and Buck Henry were the original writers of the pilot and remained strong backers of the show? (That kind of explains the wacky humor, doesn’t it?) Would you believe that Don Adams became a Marine in 1941 but fell ill with blackwater fever on Guadalcanal and was shipped home to become a drill instructor? (Can you picture Don Adams as your DI? Nah, me neither.) Would you believe that “Get Smart” garnered four Emmy Awards and that Don Adams put three on his shelf? And who could forget some for the great gadgets Agent 86 used. Or would that be misused?

Thanks for the memories and smiles, Mr. Adams.

Update: There were other catch phrases that came out of "Get Smart" and that you would hear over and over again in school or at work:
"Missed it by that much."
"Sorry about that."

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Time to Boogie!

As we roll in to autumn and October nears with ghosts and goblins appearing in the stores, you have got to take a look at this dancing skeleton--turn up the volume and be sure to watch it all the way through.
(It is, of course, best if you have some high speed access.)

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Autumnal Equinox: First Day of Fall

Today in the Northern Hemisphere is the first day of autumn, officially the Autumnal Equinox. This is one of two days of equal light and dark. The Vernal Equinox is the other. In between these two days we have the Summer Solstice and the Winter Solstice—the “longest day” and the “shortest day” of the year. I’ve found a couple of web sites that help to explain the seasonal changes.

First, from The East Antrim Astronomical Society (EAAS) in Ballyrobert, County Antrim, Northern Ireland is this:

The BBC, the network that we love for its science and wildlife shows, still does decent work on science. Here’s an example:

Enchanted Learning has a page about the seasons with links to many other answers to questions:

The Dome of the Sky™ can supply answers to your questions about solstices, equinoxes, eclipses and most things astronomical.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Busy Monday

Today was a busy day during which I accomplished very little.

Four-thirty this morning I drove Terry to Newark Airport so she could catch a 7 AM flight to Nashville. (It's the annual SAGA convention.) I was back home by 5:30 AM.

Sat around for a couple of hours checking my email and such before I cut the backyard at 9 AM. (Yes, Virginia, there is real grass growing in the backyard. Hallelujah! It still needs to be overseeded to htincken it up, however.) I was finished by 10 AM.

At 11 AM I had my bowhunting gear packed and I was dressed in my cammies. Out the door and on my way out to the farm off Route 31 in Warren County. (On my way on to I-287 I saw a doe standing on the roadside.)

I got to the farm around noon and walked the woods for two hours looking for signs of deer. I saw few. but it was tough to find any tracks since the ground was very dry and even the creek cutting through the woods was dry so there were no tracks in the mud. The woods have become choked with wild roses; an indication that there are few deer here anymore. Between the guys in the club and the farmer, we have really reduced the herds that used to roam the hillside and fields. (Too bad the deer in my backyard can't be delt with in the same way.)

At 2 o'clock I sought out a tree stand in which to sit and climbed in and waited. And waited. And waited. At 6:30 I got out of the stand having seen no deer. Walked out into the field to go back to the truck and deer. No deer in any fields.

At 7 PM, I drove back home. When I got off I-287 in Morristown, there were three deer feeding along the side of the road.

Then tonight I watched the Giants take the Saints apart.

A long day and only the grass got cut and Terry sent off.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Yellow Jackets

Before we left for the southland, I cut the lawn around the cabin up in the Adirondacks. During that process, I discovered two yellow jacket nests. I have found and destroyed two others in the lawn over the past. The presence of apple trees in the area provide lots of food from rotting apples this time of year.

Yellow jackets are small hornets, not really bees, but they can sting and often do. I hate the little B#ST@&DS. They also scare me.

When I was a toddler, I stepped on a honey bee in the yard and got stung. No surprise there, I supose. Nothing happened. A year or so later I did it again. This time I nearly died. Mom called the doctor who came running to the house. I lapsed into anaphylactic shock. No sooner did the doctor clear the front door than he had a needle in me. THEN he checked me over. He told my mom that I had been less than a minute from dying. From then on I gave all kinds of bees and wasps a lot of space.

I managed to stay away from them and they from me until one day when I was around 12. Some friends and I were throwing rocks at an old wooden fence. We didn't know there was a nest on the other side, we just liked the "thunk" it made when we struck it. We were some 20 feet from the fence and were suddenly under attack...or at least I was. I don't remember if the other two guys got stung but I got it five or six times. We all ran. Mom again hustled me off to the doctor who, after giving me a shot to stop the anaphylactic shock that was fast approaching, recommended I get a series of shots to desensitize me to the bee venom. I started gettin one shot a week of very diluted venom. Each month the strength was boosted. Then I got one shot every two weeks of much stronger stuff, then one shot a month. It took three years but the doctor said I was now save around bees, "but don't get careless!"

Many years later, in the late '70s, I opted to get shots for other allergies; pollen, insect bites, etc. I got six series of shots in much the same way as I had gotten the shots for bee stings. (I would have gotten ones for dog and cat, too, but they were not available at the time.)

I now breath much more easily and my eyes aren't bloodshot and itchy from March to November. I also don't swell up like the Pillsbury Dough Boy after being in the woods or out in a marshy area and eaten upon by mosquitoes. And over the counter drugs stay on the shelf. In general, I get to enjoy the outdoors a great deal more than I would have.

After staying away from bees for many years, I managed to step in a yellow jackets nest. (That's one of the problems with the little buggers. They build their hives in the ground and stepping on one, or even near one, can be like stepping on an anti-personnel mine.) I was doing some trapping of white-footed deer mice in the strip of woods along the median of I-78 for the research portion of my Masters degree. I had just finished picking up the last trap when I felt a sting above my socks and beneath my pant legs, then another and another. (It was early in the day, okay, and I wasn't fully alert to what was happening.) Then I dropped the traps and hauled a@@ out of the woods. When I cleared the woods, I saw a State Trooper's car parked behind mine. I walked over and introduced myself. I explained that I had just been stung 10 or 15 times, that it was the first time I had been stung since completing my shots many years ago, and asked if he would mind if we jsut sat and talked for awhile. I asked that he stay "just in case" and that if there was a problem he take me to Lyons or Morristown hospital if I needed medical help. He agreed to sit with me and we chatted about my research project for a quarter of an hour or so. When nothing seemed to be happening, we parted ways. I drove to a friends house (in which I now live--but that's another story) near Morristown hospital and we shared some ice tea and chatted for an hour. I had no reaction to the stings. Even the small bumps that appeared right after they happened disappeared while we sat and talked. Desentitization shots work and are well worth the time, money and shots.

Back to the nests in NY. I managed to damage them and burn the little buggers out. I thought I had gotten them all but when we got back I learned one nest had simply moved. I'll have to take care of them when I go back up in October. The other nest must have had some activity but a critter dug them out and ate them up. Good. Whish I knew what had done it. I have a fox in the area, but I don't know if they would dig up a nest. Skinks are another matter but I haven't seen (or scented) any. Bears too would dig up the next but this was too neatly done.

Happy Birthday To Me

Today is my birthday and, while I don't particularly get hung up on age, let's just leave it at that.

I was just going to spend the day around the house doing nothing special but ended up sweeping acorns off the deck, the driveway and the front walk.

I walked out to the garden and found the tomatoes gone. At least one set of deer tracks led up the side of the yard to the garden and meandered through the tomato plants. Jess said there were lots of small grape tomatoes out there but I found only one red one and one partially red one. All the others were...phhytt...gone.

Practice, Practice , Practice

While I was up north, I got some of my "tools" out and practiced with them. Deer season is here (at least in NJ and soon in NY) and i wanted to be sure I could hit what I aim at. Here's how things went (as I wrote to my friend and fishing/hunting buddy, Joe):

I took my bow out this morning and was happy at 15 and 25 yards but not at 35. A little wild at the longer distance but that might be partly the breeze that was blowing. It got pretty stiff at times and even when I tried to guess when it would be in a lull, the arrow clearly sailed in the breeze coming from about 10 o'clock.

I also tried out my new 50-cal. flintlock. (Terry says I've gone passed my 60th birthday and Christmas of 2010.) Not happy with the smokepole at all. The damn thing wouldn't fire more than half the time. And I'm not counting the flash-in-the-pan type of misfire. I was using FFFg black powder in the pan and an 80 gr load behind a 245 gr Powerbelt hollow point. Think it might be the fault of the flint. I used the same load in my in-line Knight and it fired every time I pulled the trigger. Very happy with that. Definitely switching back to powder instead of pellets. The pellets misfired 1 out of 5 times last fall. (Funny thing is, after cleaning all the weapons, I cocked and pulled the trigger on the flintlock half a dozen times. I got lots of spark each time. Definitely will have to practice some more with this one just to see if I can get competent with it.)

Then it was time for the shotgun,a new Remington 870 Express with a rifled barrel I bought last week. Nice black nonreflective composite stock, too. Joe, you SOB! Why didn't you warn me about the kick these Lightfield Hybrid EXP have? I just got off the line after shooting ten rounds and will probably have a huge black and blue patch on my shoulder. If they hit the deer that hard, no wonder they drop where they're standing! I would have shot fewer but I forgot the basics for lining up the reticule of the scope when I want to center it. Right now it's 2" high at 50 yards. In other words perfect.

As usual, cleaning the three long guns took almost as long as shooting them did. It's one of those chores that has to be done correctly and thoroughly, however.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

We’re Back

Well, almost. Terry's in NJ and I'm in NY with the trailer.

We spent four lovely days in Sumter, SC visiting Terry's aunt, uncle and cousins Jim and Lorraine and their spouses. I had made a short stop there back in 2001 when Rick graduated from Parris Island but otherwise hadn't seen these folks in 13 years. Terry had been down for a wedding or two and Cousin Lorraine and her husband, Joe, operate a small B & B in Sumter and put us up for our visit.

Besides just hanging around and catching up on news, Terry, Lorraine, Joe and I drive down to Charleston where we did a walking tour of some of the old parts of the city (one block south of Calhoun Street and several blocks down by Battery Park). Battery Park was one of the sites of the cannon that fired upon Fort Sumter, waaaay out in the harbor, to start the Civil War. In retaliation, much of the town was bombarded into rubble when the North got the upper hand years later. A few old homes remain standing and some of those that were damaged were restored. It's a beautiful place to stroll.

After lunch, we drove across the new suspension bridge to Patriots Point where the USS Yorktown is docked and took two walking tours of the ship. One led us through the main working quarters below decks and included the medical facilities, the machine shops and the main mess with its galley and bakery. The bakery had a display of the crew's favorite snack--chocolate chip cookies--and what it would take to bake 10,000 of them. That was what was needed for one day for the crew of 3,500. The other tour was to the flight deck and the bridge. Looks just like the one in the movie Midway.

Next it was dinner at a very nice restaurant on Shem Creek called Vickery's. Some great crawdads, shrimp and crab with two fried oysters served over hot grits. Never thought I liked grits until I ate those.

Joe took me about 20 miles out of town where they own 150 acres of "the farm". Actually, it is a tree farm right now, the pasture having grown wild while they were in England for eight years. (He was a civilian contractor working for the military.)

After our visit we drove north on I-95 then switched to I-81 just south of DC to avoid the beltway. One stop just before the switch and another near I-78 and Route 61 in PA to visit Cabelas in Hamburg Then I dropped Terry off in NJ and drove to NY with the trailer.

All in all it was a very nice three week excursion to the south. We lucked out in the weather department missing Katrina on our way down and having no rain during the entire time. Ophelia held off (and is still rambling around) so we didn't run into any harsh weather at all.

Now I have to clean and winterize the trailer, cut the grass for the last time this year (I hope) and see about replacing the chimney in the kitchen.

Monday, September 05, 2005

NOLA Aftermath

Driving east out of Atlanta to Columbia, SC this morning on I-20, Terry and I witnessed a half a dozen military convoys heading west. They were, in all likelihood on their way to the Gulf Coast and New Orleans in particular. Later, when we were at Pat and Jim's house, Richard came by and reported seeing twice as many heading the same way this afternoon. With all the lawlessness that has been going on down that way and all the assinine fingerpointing that has followed the storm, I haven't felt that I could hold by temper long enough to comment. (Besides, I would prefer NOT to get into political discourse on this site.) However, I have come across some escellent essays that come close to describing my emotions right now. One that I would like to direct your attention to is by Bill Whittle of Eject!Eject!Eject! and is entitled Tirbes! Go and read it. NOW!

Saturday, September 03, 2005

What a Salesman!

Ran across this little Salesman joke over at Mostly Cajun this afternoon and thought I would share with you.

RU Rah, Rah!!

One nice thing about the use of computers is the ability to follow your favorite college teams online. I'm able to pick up the broadcast of the Rutgers' football broadcast via the school's web page. The feed is from WOR 710 on the AM dial and is crystal clear (right down to the errors the engineers made in playing commercials for 5 minutes over the broadcast of the game). Having a high speed Wi-Fi feed means there's no buffering time. When I'm at the Bolt Hole and dependant upon the dial-up service, there are constant delays as the computer has to wait for the phone line to deliver the message. With Wi-Fi, it's like listening on the radio.

It's now the beginning of the third quarter and RU has a big lead over the Illinois team 27-7. The Illini aren't the strongest opponent but it is a positive beginning.

3:50 to go and RU has made it a game. They still lead by 7 but Ito has had a terrible day kicking field goals--something he was pretty dang good at last year. He's missed three (at least) and had one blocked. RU could have had many more points if he had made them.

SOB! Illini has tied the game with just over a minute left. Despite over 500 yards of offense, RU is looking at overtime unless they can pull this out. Ito can erase an afternoon of ineptitude if he can get one more kick...

SOS! The game is now into overtime. RU hasn't had an OT game since WVA back in 2000--they lost. Illinois lost last year to Northwestern in OT.

Shoot! Illinois got a TD after RU got a field goal in OT. The Illini win 33-30. Bummer. RU blew a 27-7 lead early in the third quarter to lose this one--one they should have won.

Atlanta--A Donut

Imagine a donut—the round kind with a hole in the middle. That’s the Atlanta metro area. The city itself is in the hole. The suburbs are the “meat” around the hole and are formed around I-285. The owner of the campground at which I am staying says that there are 4.5 million people in the area. Half a million live in Atlanta proper—the hole in the donut—and the other 4 million live along the I-285 bypass that forms the ring.

Based upon the traffic I have seen in driving along I-75 (one of several spokes running from the center) and along I-285 to take Terry to her hotel, I would agree with him. There is a lot of traffic even in the middle of the day. What’s nice is the signage along the I-285 bypass. The hard signs tell you what exits are coming up but the electronic signs also tell you the approximate travel time to the next major exit. I assume these are updated from monitoring the speed of the current traffic so they are pretty accurate.

The campground I am at is off I-75 near Marietta to the northwest of the city and outside the ring. Terry is over on Dunwoody Road, also outside the ring but nearly due north of the city. All along the ring are malls and apartment complexes—often gated—that all look brand new. The manager/owner of the campground says there are only about half a million natives to the Atlanta area and the other 4 million are all transplants—usually from places up north—who have come to take advantage of the growth and opportunity available in the area. My question is which came first—the population growth or the opportunity? Did people move here because there were jobs available or did the jobs get here after the population grew to a point where the work force was available?

This is the same configuration that you see around Washington, DC with I-495 and the greater NY area with I-287. Interstate highways and the bypasses to major cities have contributed greatly to the sprawl evidenced around the country.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Katrina Packed A Wallop!

I'm just now starting to get caught up on the reports of the devestation Katrina caused to the Gulf Coast. Terry has been concerned because some of her sewing club acquaintances live in New Orleans and she knew they had to have been affected by the flooding and evacuation. She has heard--in a round-about manner--that they are all safe but that their homes and places of business and, in at least one case, their pets may have been lost.

If you haven't done so, may I suggest making a donation to one of the many charities designed to help in times like these. Don't expect the world community to come to our aid as we go to theirs time and again. I would highly recommend the American Red Cross or the Salvation Army but there are many other good organizations out there that are taking donations and supplying aid.

Glenn Reynolds over at Instapundit has lots of other suggestions.

We've made our donation. How about you?

We're in Georgia

Terry and I left NYS on Tuesday morning and followed I-81 south through PA, MD and WVA in to VA where we pulled off at the very picturesque Candy Hill Campground in Winchester.

We had had rain from the time we left the Bolt Hole until we got to southern PA. This was not associated with Katrina but was from a separate system that was sliding across the country from the southeast. From around the time we crossed I-80 all the way to Winchester the sky was filled with broken clouds but there was no rain. We were able to relax and walk around the campground a little before we punked out and went to sleep around 9. The rains from Katrina reached our area about 10 minutes later and fell through much of the night.

When we awoke on Wednesday the rain had stopped and the sun was attempting to shine through the clouds. It didn't succeed until late in the day. I-81 parallels the Blue Ridge through the Shenandoah Valley. We had driven the Blue Ridge Parkway, which wends its way among the peaks of the mountains, and we had driven I-81 south before but at night so this was a different perspective. Eventually, we turned onto I-77 the head more south than southwest and crossed into North Carolina. For the last 10 miles or so of I-77 in Virgina you're heading downhill and the view to the east is incredible. You're looking east of the Blue Ridge into farmland and isolated hills that seem to just pop up out of the flats. Our drive through the Tarheel State was uneventful except for the convoy of power company trucks from New Hampshire. There must have been 20 of them heading, I'm sure to the area hit hard by Katrina. Just as the workers form down south head for New England when there is an ice storm or blizzard, the power companies act to help one another out in times of need.

Around Charlotte, NC we headed more to the southwest again on I-85 and stopped just across the border at the Pinecone Campground in Gaffney, SC. This was not as nice a campground as the Trailer Life guide made it out to be. They had already closed the pool for the season. (It looked like they had done any maintenance for a few weeks.) Terry said the ladies bathroom/Shower room wasn't very clean and lacked some necessities--like TP. But, hey, we were only going to be there for the night.

Gas prices have risen steadily over the three days we've been on the road. We started out paying $2.63/gal. in Poland, NY but have paid $2.99 the last two days. And, if I can find a station with any gas this evening, I expect to pay around $3.15. The three stations I tried to get gas at this afternoon had no regular or no gas at all.

Well, it's time for us to hit a restaurant for dinner. I'll leave a not later.

Comments Fixed (This post to remain at top for a good long while!)

I've fixed the comments so anybody may drop a note about any post. Sorry about the previous settings. They were the default "Members Only" setting and it took a period of time (and several "shucks" from readers) to get me to find out how to open them up.