Friday, March 30, 2007

Birding from the deck

I was sitting on the deck this afternoon taking a break from doing some work with all the debris left along the power line right of way when I heard the call of an Eastern Phoebe (here and here) coming from the woods. It took me a few minutes to locate the bird even though there are no leaves on the trees yet. It had found a spot where it was against a background of pine. Only when it moved to a new location could I finally pick it out.

While looking at the Phoebe another small bird flitted into view. It landed on the trunk of a small tree and proceeded to climb/jump up the trunk. Getting the binoculars on this little guy proved to be pretty easy. It was a Brown Creeper (here and here).

Add these to the Great Blue Heron (here and here) that I saw yesterday checking out the small ponds many of the homes along the road have and we can add three more species to the list of birds seen from the deck of the Aerie.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Loyal Democrat

The comments to Michelle Malkin’s The John Doe Manifesto piece at start off with this satirical look at
The Loyal Democrat

I am Loyal Democrat.

I will take the side of any entity that declares itself to be an enemy of the United States. I will consider any action taken by my government to be improper, and defend the position of any nation that opposes my own. I will not stand by while the concepts of freedom and liberty are allowed to infect the thoughts of repressed peoples. Rather, I will combat such efforts and convince the slaves of dictatorships that they have it better than anyone else.

I am Loyal Democrat.

I will tell all Americans that they had 9/11 coming as retribution for all of our evil deeds inflicted upon members of the most peaceful religion on earth. I will work to undermine any effort to destroy the Islamic tidal wave of terror that has vowed to wash onto our beaches. I will strive to weaken our military as it attempts to carry out its mission overseas. I shall encourage total surrender to any foe that threatens us.

I am Loyal Democrat.

I shall stir up domestic unrest by separating my fellow citizens into groups, and then I will encourage each group to distrust the next, and convince each that I am their one true friend. Through this magnificent deception, I will rule them all. I will convince minorities that they are inferior, and that they need my special help to succeed in life. Once I have them suspicious of others and fully demoralized, I will keep them down, and make their every gain dependent on what I decide to let them do. I shall oppress minorites worse than any avowed racist could ever hope to.

I am Loyal Democrat.

I will make every effort to criticize people that achieve, to hinder those that aspire, and ridicule those that display self-worth. In spite of my lack of personal merit, I will elevate myself in the eyes of others by bringing people with actual character down. I will prey on people's envy of others' success, and I will gain undeserved power as a result. I will take from those that earn until they lose the motivation to build up mankind any longer.

I am Loyal Democrat.

I will promote the tyranny of socialism, and crush the only economic system that has advanced mankind. And when we are all financially destitute and controlled by an omnipotent government, I shall laugh at the destruction I have wrought, for I truly hate mankind.

I am Loyal Democrat.

Remember me in 2008 kiddies.....

The commentor who penned this piece of wit calls himself The Loyal Democrat. As with any good piece of satire, there’s enough truth here to choke a good sized horse. Bravo, LD! Bravo!

The John Doe Manifesto

Michelle Malkin has penned The John Doe Manifesto and has posted it on her blog as well as part of her column on She first prefaces the Manifesto by explaining:
Earlier this month, six publicity-seeking imams filed a federal lawsuit against US Airways and the Metropolitan Airports Commission in Minneapolis/St. Paul. The Muslim clerics were removed from their flight last November and questioned for several hours after their suspicious behavior alarmed both passengers and crew members. Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist Katherine Kersten reported last week that the imams, advised by the grievance-mongers at the Council on American-Islamic Relations, also plan to sue "John Does" -- innocent bystanders who alerted the authorities about their security concerns.
She also mentions that several individuals and groups have stepped up to defend any “John Does” who may find themselves in litigation with these scum. Take a look at the Manifesto that Michelle has penned.
Dear Muslim Terrorist


You do not know me. But I am on the lookout for you. You are my enemy. And I am yours.

I am John Doe.

I am traveling on your plane. I am riding on your train. I am at your bus stop. I am on your street. I am in your subway car. I am on your lift.

I am your neighbor. I am your customer. I am your classmate. I am your boss.

I am John Doe.

I will never forget the example of the passengers of United Airlines Flight 93 who refused to sit back on 9/11 and let themselves be murdered in the name of Islam without a fight.

I will never forget the passengers and crew members who tackled al Qaeda shoe-bomber Richard Reid on American Airlines Flight 63 before he had a chance to blow up the plane over the Atlantic Ocean.

I will never forget the alertness of actor James Woods, who notified a stewardess that several Arab men sitting in his first-class cabin on an August 2001 flight were behaving strangely. The men turned out to be 9/11 hijackers on a test run.

I will act when homeland security officials ask me to "report suspicious activity."

I will embrace my local police department's admonition: "If you see something, say something."

I am John Doe.

I will protest your Jew-hating, America-bashing "scholars."

I will petition against your hate-mongering mosque leaders.

I will raise my voice against your subjugation of women and religious minorities.

I will challenge your attempts to indoctrinate my children in our schools.

I will combat your violent propaganda on the Internet.

I am John Doe.

I will support law enforcement initiatives to spy on your operatives, cut off your funding and disrupt your murderous conspiracies.

I will oppose all attempts to undermine our borders and immigration laws.

I will resist the imposition of sharia principles and sharia law in my taxi cab, my restaurant, my community pool, the halls of Congress, our national monuments, the radio and television airwaves, and all public spaces.

I will not be censored in the name of tolerance.

I will not be cowed by your Beltway lobbying groups in moderates' clothing. I will not cringe when you shriek about "profiling" or "Islamophobia."

I will put my family's safety above sensitivity. I will put my country above multiculturalism.

I will not submit to your will. I will not be intimidated.

I am John Doe.

I like it. I like it a lot.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

There’s fat and then there’s…

“The woman looked strangely fat. Even though she was veiled and covered, even with so many clothes on there was something strange,” Telleria said.

Perhaps it was the fact that she kept wiggling and jiggling even when she stood still.

“Why?” you ask.

A woman with three crocodiles strapped to her waist …a body search by a female border guard turned up the animals, each about 20 inches long, concealed underneath her loose robe

Yep, crocodiles.


Rutgers R.small
The Rutgers’ women’s basketball team has advanced to the NCAA Final Four.

Monday night they defeated the Arizona State University Sun Devils in the Greensboro Regional finals by a score of 64-45. Four Scarlet Knights scored in double figures: Matee Ajavon had 20 points, Kia Vaughn had 17 points and 10 rebounds, Essence Carson added 11 and Epiphanny Prince had 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Not bad for a team of only 10 girls and NO seniors.

The Lady Knights make their second appearance in the Final Four, the last being in 2000. The will take on LSU in Cleveland next Sunday at 7:00 PM.

Get the full story here.

Now, THAT’S a toad!

From Australia:

Group Finds Toad the Size of a Small Dog
As part of its so-called "Toad Buster" project, Frogwatch conducts regular raids on local water holes, blinding the toads with bright lights then scooping them up by the dozen.
"We kill them with carbon dioxide gas, stockpile them in a big freezer and then put them through a liquid fertilizer process" that renders the toads nontoxic, Sawyer said.
"It turns out to be sensational fertilizer," he added.
Oh yeah!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Birding, some more

Terry and I went birding this morning with some folks from the Tiadaghton Chapter of the Audubon Society. We gathered at Ives Run at the west end of Hammond Lake. It was about 50 degrees but a chilly wind blew out of the west. Much of the ice on the lake was out and the Crooked Creek was running high and muddy. The osprey we saw had success in catching a nice fish almost as long as he was. Our leader, Gary, compiled the list of species and the numbers of each seen.

Number of species: 25

Canada Goose 85
Mallard 5
American Black Duck 1
Common Merganser 6
Turkey Vulture 3
Osprey 1
Bald Eagle 1
Red-tailed Hawk 1
Killdeer 2
Ring-billed Gull 12
Mourning Dove 3
Belted Kingfisher 1
Downy Woodpecker 1
Eastern Phoebe 3
American Crow 6
Tree Swallow 20
Black-capped Chickadee 3
Eastern Bluebird 4
American Robin 4
European Starling 2
Song Sparrow 4
Dark-eyed Junco 25
Red-winged Blackbird 12
Common Grackle 6
American Goldfinch 6

Not a shabby tally.

When we got home, I went outside and saw these additions: ruffed grouse, red-breasted nuthatch, white-breasted nuthatch (2), hairy woodpecker, turkey vulture, robins (3), plus numerous individual birds of the species already on the list: chickadees, juncos, goldfinches, downy woodpeckers, and song sparrows. Terry and I also heard several turkeys calling in the woods as we unloaded some things from the truck.

If you'd like to see what any of these birds look like, go on over to and lok them up.

Saturday, March 24, 2007


Rutgers R.small
The No. 4 seed Rutgers’ Lady Knights upset No. 1 seed Duke Blue Devils in the East Regionals at Greensboro, NC, this afternoon by a score of 53-52. Epiphanny Prince’s go ahead layup with 20 seconds remaining and two missed free throws by Duke star Lindsey Harding in the final seconds sent the 32-2 Blue Devils home.

The 25-8 Scarlet Knights had lost to Duke 85-45 three months ago. That loss was the most lopsided defeat in coach C. Vivian Stringer's 11 seasons with the Scarlet Knights.

On to the Elite Eight!

Monday night vs. Arizona State

Get the full story here.

Hypocrits and Liars

Come again?

When you listen to the news today (doesn't matter which day anymore, BDS runs rampant throughout the Democratic party) keep the words of the Democrats speaking in this video in mind. If you can do that and not think "Hypocrites!" in light current pressure to end the Iraq need to watch the video again.


"why the gun is civilization."

Marko of the munchkin wrangler. has posted a compelling argument for the Second Amendment and the RKBA.

Go on over and read it: why the gun is civilization.

h/t: LawDog for pointing the way.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

If you have cats...

Kate over at Small, Dead Animals asks: "Is Your Cat Ownership Environmentally Sustainable?

She is currently offering Cat Ownership Offsets.

They're just the thing you need to be "Feline Neutral."

( Like the one commenter over there who says, "'Crazy' is one cat more than you have."

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Crows can communicate with one another

Of course, crows have always been considered pretty smart. Not as smart as ravens maybe, but pretty smart.

Crows Can Recognize The Calls Of Relatives
Jessica Yorzinski '05 [Cornell] found seven subtle acoustic differences in features that differed among individuals -- differences that the crows could potentially use to recognize one another's calls. She also found that female crows had higher-pitched calls than males.

Okay, so it doesn’t say it is so, but the study does show there is a potential there that needs to be explored.

"The Adventure of the Avian Eavesdroppers."

This is a fascinating story of two species who “talk” to one another.
Eavesdropping Nuthatches Appear To Understand Chickadees In Distress
"No one has ever seen this behavior before. There are a fair number of animals that respond to other animal's alarm calls. But this is the first example of subtle information from a call being interpreted by another species," said Templeton. "Nuthatches can tell if a raptor poses a high or low danger from the chickadee's alarm call."

I’ve witnessed blue jays and crows as they seemingly cry, “To arms! To arms!” upon spotting a hawk or owl in the trees. Every jay and crow in the immediate area rushes to the source. It usually results in the harassment of that predator until it is well on its way. This research, however, shows a much more subtle communication. I wonder if it is a learned behavior or if the nuthatches have an innate sense of what the chickadees are broadcasting.

One GREAT Movie line

Guy K at Charming, Just Charming had this up and I just want to help spread the word. (Have you cleaned our keyboard yet Guy?)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Taxes and tax cuts

Terry’s was busy doing the taxes this weekend. We should make out alright what with the move from NJ to PA and both our incomes free from state taxes. The sale of the NJ house and the purchase of our log home pretty much balanced out one another and all the energy star stuff in the new home gives us a pretty nice tax credit.

Why’s Terry doing the taxes? Well, the accountant who did them the last few years is back in NJ some 250 miles away. And the last time I tried to read through all the forms I damn near busted a hole in the wall. Now most of the walls are log so I’m not even going to try. Besides having worked for the federal government she’s more accustomed to the BS than I am.

Speaking of taxes, GuyK has a post that explains tax cuts in such a way that even the dumbest reporter or legislator could understand…if they want to. Go on over to his site and read it here.

Monday, March 19, 2007

New bird species

Now here is something unusual: New Bird Species Found In Idaho

How did this happen, you ask. The presence of this bird was well known but it was only recognized as possibly a separate species—as opposed to a mere variety of its northern cousins—back in 1996. Field work has since shown...
…this new crossbill evolved because of a coevolutionary arms race between crossbills and lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) in the last five to seven thousands years.

As South Hills crossbills exerted selection on lodgepole pine for increased seed defenses, lodgepole pine in turn exerted selection on crossbills for larger bills to deal with these increased seed defenses. This coevolution has caused these crossbills to diverge substantially in bill morphology from other crossbills. Because the South Hills crossbill is adapted to remove seeds from the well-defended cones there, it is a superior competitor and thereby limits the less well adapted and nomadic call types to breeding at very low frequencies in the South Hills.

And since the South Hills crossbills only mate (well 99% of the time) with other South Hills crossbills, we have a newly recognized species.

Congratualations to Julie Smith, now at Pacific Lutheran University, and her former graduate advisor, Craig Benkman at the University of Wyoming, for this discovery.

This is what a Red Crossbill looks like.

Of course for those really serious birders, the ones who keep life lists and never, ever throw away their notes after coming back from a walk, this will be one more they will have to search for. (Southern Idaho, heh? My son's out in that direction; might be time for a road trip.)


We had another “new” species show up at the Aerie today. Actually, it showed up IN the Aerie.

A European Starling found its way into the chimney pipe for the wood burning stove that sits in the basement. I heard it scrabbling within the stove pipe trying to do the impossible¬—fly straight back up the 6-inch metal pipe. Luckily for the G-D starling the stove did not have a fire in it. How it got into the chimney is something of a mystery. There is a cap on the chimney—or at least there is supposed to be a cap on the chimney—to prevent embers from escaping and to keep pests like this out.

The starling tends to make its nests in any tiny little cavity opening they can find. You can see them make use of the pipes from which stop lights hang at most intersections in urban areas. We once had one find a way into the space between the roof and drop ceiling in a classroom in which I taught. For about three weeks we could hear the nestlings chirping every time mom or dad brought some delectable item to them. That can really disrupt a lesson. They have been known to displace bluebirds and wrens from nesting boxes.

In the winter, starlings gather in massive flocks and often commute from the city, where the roost on building ledges or bridge girders, to the suburbs, where they search for seed in any exposed grass along highways. I was once on my way into NYC via the Lincoln Tunnel at sunset to see a basketball game at the Garden and was witness to hundreds of thousands of starlings heading home to roost under the ramp to the tunnel. The site was most impressive. Another time, I was in Washington, D.C. in February and had to walk out into the street when returning to my hotel after dinner because the sidewalk was cordoned off due to starling droppings. The building ledges and window sills were lined with thousands of noisy birds. These winter flocks may also contain Grackles and Cowbirds.

As the name suggests, the European Starling is not a native of North America. Along with the English Sparrow (also called the House Sparrow ) and several other birds, it was brought to the States in the 1880s by someone who wanted to bring over all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays. Both of these species found a land that was quite hospitable for them. All that horse manure in the streets made a fine food source. While both can be very handsome birds when taken in moderation, their numbers and ability to out compete native species have made them pests.

Classical. Music.

Miss Cellania has a site that is to die for. How she finds all this stuff is a miracle, but I’m not complaining!

Whenever it’s time for a bit of a smile, interspersed with a gaffaw or two, I head on over there. Yesterday, she posted on Classical Music. There are jokes, comics and videos that are filled with hilarity. Go on over and enjoy at Miss Cellania and then go search out the rest of her stuff.

(I am so not with it! I've been looking at this site for several months now and it wasn't until I was typing up this post that the name of the site finally clicked! Miss Cellania! Doh!)

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Birding, Again

We’ve had a huge crowd of birds here at the Aerie the last two days. As the snow covered the natural food sources, the birds flocked in to the feeders to stoke their inner fires. Literally hundreds of goldfinches and juncos mobbed the feeders but so did a large number of red-winged blackbirds, chickadees, titmice, cardinals, woodpeckers, and blue jays.

Mixed in with the red-wings were a few Common Grackles.They didn’t have the iridescent hues that I’m accustomed to seeing, but that could be a result of the leaden gray sky that has accompanied the snow.

Several Song Sparrows
have also shown up at the feeders. At first they were confused with the female Purple Finches but the missing eye stripe and very obvious black dot on the chest made it clear that there was a new bird in town. The western variety pictured at the eNature web site is considerably darker than those that have shown up here in the north-central mountains of PA.
ISong Sparrow
Song Sparrow

I thought, foolishly, that I might end up having lots of left over thistle and sunflower seed when the weather turned warm early in the week. But if the birds keep coming to feed as they have…I might have to run out and get more!
IPurple Finch among the gold
Male purple finch among the goldfinches.

Crowded thistle feeder
A very crowded thistle feeder. I filled this thing up about four hours earlier, just so you get an idea of how much the birdies are eating.

James Lovelock has gone off the deep end

Environment in crisis: 'We are past the point of no return'
Professor Lovelock, who conceived the idea of Gaia in the 1970s while examining the possibility of life on Mars for Nasa [sic] in the US, has been warning of the dangers of climate change since major concerns about it first began nearly 20 years ago.

He was one of those chosen to brief Margret Thatcher on the coming climate change back in 1989. (This was part of Thatcher’s desire to spark nuclear power plant construction. She felt if people believed in climate change due to CO2, she could get them to accept nuclear power plants as an alternative to coal fired plants. More history of the global warming scare here.)
In a profoundly pessimistic new assessment, published in today's Independent, Professor Lovelock suggests that efforts to counter global warming cannot succeed, and that, in effect, it is already too late.
The world and human society face disaster to a worse extent, and on a faster timescale, than almost anybody realises, he believes. He writes: " Before this century is over, billions of us will die, and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable."

Lovelock sees an ever increasing spiral that is unstoppable; one which will bring the European continent to unbelievably high temperatures.
Rather than calling for further ways of countering climate change, he is calling on governments in Britain and elsewhere to begin large-scale preparations for surviving what he now sees as inevitable - in his own phrase today, "a hell of a climate", likely to be in Europe up to 8C hotter than it is today.

And all this is to happen during this century.

Definitely bonkers. The old boy should be fitted for a white coat with super long arms.

(PS. I am writing this as I look out the window at the snow falling here in the north-central mountains of Pennsylvania. It was 14 degrees F this morning and we already had a foot of snow on the ground. New Hampshire and Vermont may end this storm with as much as three feet of snow.)

Friday, March 16, 2007


I mentioned yesterday that both Accuweather and The Weather Channel folks had forecast snow for this evening into tomorrow. They changed the forecast overnight. It started snowing this morning around 9 AM and has continued steadily now for 10 hours. It's a very fine snow. the kind that is the result of very cold temperatures. In fact the mercury never got above 24 degrees today.

The bad weather has forced the goldfinches, juncos, chickadees, cardinals, blue jays, titmice, woodpeckers, et. al. to continue their raid on my larder. I've had to refill the feeders several times today and had to shovel the deck of about 6 inches of snow to boot.

We even had a small group of red-winged blackbirds come to the clearing around the house. They were obviously attracted by the feeding frenzy of the smaller birds and, not finding food to their liking, they moved on.

I will most likely have to fire up the snow blower tomorrow morning. The forecast talk of snow continuing through the night. If that happens we should have between 10 and 12 inches of snow.I hope they are wrong.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

A glimpse into the future

Here’s a little slideshow with a very thought provoking theme: Shift Happens

First seen by me at Conservative Insurgent

Boy, is he in for a surprise

I stepped out on the deck this evening as the sun (which we hadn’t seen all day) made another colorful exit and heard a twittering in the air. Could that be a woodcock? I stood and listened for a few minutes and sure enough there was the “peent” of an American Woodcock coming from across the street in my neighbor’s field.

Weather forecasts are for temperatures in the teens tonight and only into the 20s tomorrow with 6-12 inches of snow Friday afternoon into Saturday. It’s going to be tough on that worm eater. I hope the weathermen are wrong for his sake.

This is NOT good

Another reason to be concerned about the influx of illegal immigrants into the US.

Parasite is a growing concern for healthcare professionals
In Latin America, about 10 million to 12 million people are believed to be infected with the Chagas parasite. As many as 1 million of them are expected to die from the disease unless there are advances in treatment, according to Dr. James Maguire, a University of Maryland expert on the disease.

"Chagas is very, very prevalent in South and Central America," said Marek Nowicki, a USC blood-disease expert who studied the effect of Chagas on the Southern California organ supply with the National Institute of Transplantation.

"The number of [immigrant] Latinos in Southern California, Texas and other parts of the United States are growing, but especially in L.A., a large proportion of organ donors are Latino," Nowicki said. "They're basically bringing with them the disease prevalence in the area they used to live."

None of those entering the US via the illegal path across the Mexican border have had any kind of medical screening and most of those coming over the southern border have to be suspected carriers of this parasite.

March weather

After two glorious days in which the temperature reached highs in the upper 60s winter has returned to the Aerie. Temperatures dropped overnight during some heavy rains and it was 32 degrees at 7 AM. It has continued to spiral downward and is no 30 degrees at noon with the rain changed over to snow.

The change in weather has sparked the return of the goldfinches and juncos to the feeders and there are a hundred or more birds taking advantage of the free lunch. and The Weather Channel both show us in the rain but that is clearly wrong. I wonder where they get their data from for this locale. They also predict a possibility of more snow Friday night into Saturday. At least the snow that was on the ground has disappeared.

Borneo is giving up its secrets.

New species of leopard with largest fangs in cat world discovered

At first I thought it was a critter that had never been seen before (“New species…discovered,” etc.), but the article makes it clear that scientists knew of its existence for a long, long time. Only now did they get around to noticing the difference in its pelt and doing a DNA sample.

Two inch long canines on a foot long body¬—definitely a miniature saber-tooth.

It’s interesting to note the number of new species coming to light as scientist probe the interior of this jungle habitat.

I’m just glad Chester doesn’t have two inch long canine teeth. At just over a foot in length he weighs in at 10.5 pounds of muscle.
Could be a distant relative, though.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

1 + 1 =...oh, sh*t

Slow Slippage Could Predict Huge Earthquakes

So, if we take the "surprising activity under Yellowstone" which is, according to the article in the last post, slow and add the information of this article we get exactly what? An Eruption? (Capital "E" because it would be huge.)

I think I saw this in a TV movie

Surprising Activity Discovered at Yellowstone Supervolcano

Harbingers of spring

Late yesterday afternoon I stepped out on the deck to enjoy the warm breezes that were flowing over the mountain behind the house. I spotted a soaring Turkey Vulture enjoying the breeze as well. As the snow disappears from wood and field, more carrion is exposed also. The presence of this bird means spring is returning to our region of the world.

Less macabre spring harbingers seen today included a small group of American Robins flying over the house. (Interestingly enough they were actually headed south to the top of the hill and not north.) While I know that some Robins do not migrate all the way to the Gulf and that a few will remain in our area during the winter, these are the first I have seen since last November. Later in the day we say some down in the valley along Route 6. Hopping across the field, they were doing their thing searching for earthworms and bugs in the soggy grass. With temperatures in the 50s they may have been enjoying some success.

Also seen on this morning’s ride were some Red-winged Blackbirds. As you might expect, they were gathered at the edge of a farmer’s pond where some cattails from last summer still stood.

Iditarod results

Congratulations to Lance Mackey for finishing first in the Iditarod. Lance and nine of his dogs (16 started the race) pulled into Nome a tad after 10 P.M. local time. It took him 9 days, 5 hours, 8 minutes and 41 seconds to complete the trek from Anchorage to Nome.

Lance’s father, Dick, won the race in 1978 by just one second and his older brother, Rick, captured the title in 1983. Both of them were competing in their sixth Iditarod and wearing bib number 13. This being Lance’s sixth Iditarod, he, of course, chose number 13. Seems to have worked out just fine.

Second place went to Paul Gebhardt who finished third last year. This year’s third place finisher was Zack Steer and fourth place went to Martin Buser.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Wild creatures often are...

...even if caged, fed and treated with "kindness."

Gail at Scribal Terror had this post up earlier today about the folly of treating a wild critter as anything but: IN CASE YOU WERE PLANNING TO HAND FEED A MORAY EEL

I left a lengthy comment there about human stupidity.

Then this evening I came across this story:

Tiger Bites Off Woman's Arm at Zoo in Montenegro

A Siberian tiger at a private zoo in Montenegro bit off an arm of a woman who tried to feed the animal.


Changing of the seasons

It reached 68.8 degrees here at the Aerie this afternoon. You could stand on the deck and watch the snow receding as quickly as Ron Howard's hair line. This morning's snow covered yard is all hay mulch this evening--wet but hay mulch none the less.

Mud season is definitely here. Those of you who live or travel in country where there are dirt/gravel roads will know what I mean. There aren't just four seasons in the country. There are at least five and sometimes six. You've got winter, first mud season, spring, summer,fall, second mud season (sometimes called Indian Summer, this season is skipped if the air turns cold quickly enough and the snows fall and stay) and then winter again.

You can tell it's mud season if you look at the vehicles in the parking lot of your local Wal-Mart. Everyone's ride is the same color. In some areas it may be a light reddish tan while in other areas its more grayish tan or a yellowish tan. Winter sometimes looks like mud season if all you do is look at the cars and trucks on the road, but that is a result of the sand and salt put on the paved roads to melt the snow and ice. On dirt roads they usually only put...well, dirt, in the form of either sand or cinder, and the snow doesn't so much melt as sublimate (go directly from the frozen state to the gaseous state) in the cold dry air.

In any case, mud season and winter are good times to own a car wash. Most people don't want to add all that mud to their driveway (or run the hose out and get their dirt drive even muddier) and there's usually a good chance that ten minutes or five miles, which ever comes first, after the driver has left the car wash it'll look like he's ever been.

I'd take my truck in to get cleaned, if for no other reason than to see what color it really is (right now it's a fashionable reddish tan just like everyone else has on the road), but the windows on the cap leak and if it went through the wash process I might be able to stock the bed with fish. But then all the soap and detergent, not to mention the wax, would kill the fish. I believe I'll just wait for it to rain. Then I can get some brook trout.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Shadow Wolves go to War

Michelle Malkin has a post up today about a new development in the war on terror and the search for Osama bin Laden. Seems an elite group of the Shadow Wolves will be traveling to Afghanistan.

I wrote last week (Shadow Wolves ) about the activities of a group from the Navajo tribe along the Arizona-Mexico border. The unit heading overseas is made up not just of Navajo, but Sioux, Lakota and Apache as well.
US Defence Secretary Robert M.Gates said last month: "If I were Osama bin Laden, I'd keep looking over my shoulder."

Got that right!

Ya gotta love the Shadow Wolves’ motto: "In brightest day, in darkest night, no evil shall escape my sight, for I am the Shadow Wolf."

Here’s the link to the Smithsonian profile on the Shadow Wolves that Michele says Tigerhawk posted on his site. (Dang! How did I miss that yesterday?) Ms. Malkin has a few more links that are worth a visit, so get on over there.

About those models being used to predict global warming….

Rob B., a commenter to this post over at Scribal Terror , sends along a link to this: Numerical Models, Integrated Circuits and Global Warming Theory By Jerome J. Schmitt as it appeared on American Thinker.

Just look at the (partial) list of variables that need to be considered to work up a reasonable model of our planet’s climate. Then tell me with a straight face that cutting back man-made emissions of CO2 (less than 3% of the total CO2)is the only way to curb global warming. If you can do that…well, put your bicycle in the rack next to the door, hang your tin foil hat on the handlebars and come on in. I’ll fix you up a nice cuppa herbal tea as soon as I can figure out how to heat the water to boiling without emitting any CO2.

A Man's Home Is His Castle

We’ve all seen or heard of stories where one homeowner on a block absolutely refuses to sell to a developer with plans to build a fantastic high rise or some such. Ever wonder what happens if the developer just goes ahead with his plans?

Well, take a look at the picture in this article:
Home becomes an 'island' in building row

Did you read down the page? This is in CHINA! You know, Communist China. Someone must have changed the definition of Communism on me or perhaps it just hasn’t been working out the way they thought it would and things are becoming more, shall we say, capitalistic.
The house is in Chongqing, central China – the fastest growing urban centre in the world, with more than 4million residents.
The boom is fuelled by strong economic growth and the 2008 Beijing Olympics. But behind the scenes is a debate, that has been raging for ten years, over the need for a law giving legal protection to private property in a Communist state.

Sounds like they have eminent domain issues even in China.

(Yeah, yeah. I know the Chinese have been moving toward a more capitalistic society for a decade or more. I’ve been in Wal-Mart, you know.)

(Found at Drew Curtis’ FARK )

Another Darwin Award entry

Man Attempts to Steal Copper, Electrocuted

(Or maybe the Lord simply emphasized the Commandment that says:
“Thou shall not steal.”)

(Found at Drew Curtis’ FARK )

It’s coming! Are YOU ready?

No, I’m not talking about Global Warming.
(This one is for you, Mary Jo.)

Pi Day will be celebrated Wednesday, March 14th. Are you ready? (For the record, I believe some of the folks cited in the article have just way too much time on their hands. Or perhaps it's a result of long winters and cabin fever. THAT I can understand.)
This is a story about love. About inscrutable complexity and remarkable simplicity, about the promise of forever. It is about obsession and devotion, and grand gestures and 4,000-word love letters.

It is about a curious group of people with an almost religious zeal for a mind-numbing string of numbers. Actually one number, made up of a chain that is known _ so far _ to be more than one trillion digits long.

They are the acolytes of the church of pi.
Some go to great lengths to prove their devotion to this simple yet elegant number.
This is how Akira Haraguchi, a 60-year-old mental health counselor in Japan, puts it: "What I am aiming at is not just memorizing figures. I am thrilled by seeking a story in pi."

He said this one day last fall after accurately reciting pi to 100,000 decimal places. It took him 16 hours. He does not hold the Guinness world record, only because he has not submitted the required documentation to Guinness. But he has his story.

(Incidentally, the world record belongs to Chao Lu, a Chinese chemistry student, who rattled off 67,890 digits over 24 hours in It took 26 video tapes to submit to Guinness.)

Even at 100,000 decimal places, Mr. Haraguchi has a way to go. Pi is a non repetitive (so far as we know) decimal expressing the ratio of the diameter of a circle and its circumference.
Supercomputers have computed pi to more than a trillion decimal places, looking always for a pattern to unlock its mystery. And for centuries the number has fascinated mathematicians.
That’s one trillion decimal places. 1,000,000,000,000 decimal places.
There are logical gathering places for people like this, and one of them is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where, on March 14, students have been known to wish each other _ out loud _ a happy Pi Day.

The school plays a role in encouraging this: In the past it has tried to mail its acceptance letters on March 14. (It didn't work out this year. And last year, when an MIT official wrote on an admissions blog that it probably wouldn't work out then either, he was greeted with disappointment. "Pi Day seems so romantic," one prospective student wrote.)

There's a popular chant, an MIT rallying cry, that includes "3.14159." (It rhymes with "Cosine, secant, tangent, sine!"

A bit nerdy perhaps…okay, VERY nerdy.

Sunday, March 11, 2007


My buddy Joe sent this to me via e-mail and I thought it important enough to share with some of you younger guys out there. I have no idea why he sent it to me. I've been married for nearly 35 years--some of them happily.

Police are warning all men who frequent clubs, parties and local pubs to be alert and stay cautious when offered a drink from any woman.

Many females use a date rape drug on the market called "Beer."

The drug is found in liquid form and is available anywhere. It comes in bottles, cans, or from taps and in large "kegs". Beer is used by female sexual predators at parties and bars to persuade their male victims to go home and sleep with them. A woman needs only to get a guy to consume a few units of Beer and then simply ask him home for no strings attached sex.

Men are rendered helpless against this approach. After several beers, men will often succumb to the desires to sleep with horrific looking women whom they would never normally be attracted. After drinking beer, men often awaken with only hazy memories of exactly what happened to them the night before, often with just a vague feeling that "something bad" occurred.

At other times these unfortunate men are swindled out of their life's savings, in a familiar scam known as "a relationship." In extreme cases, the female may even be shrewd enough to entrap the unsuspecting male into a longer term form of servitude and punishment referred to as "marriage." Men are much more susceptible to this scam after beer is administered and sex is offered by the predatory females.

Please! Forward this warning to every male you know. If you fall victim to this "Beer" scam and the women administering it, there are male support groups where you can discuss the details of your shocking encounter with similarly victimized men. For the support group nearest you, just look up "Golf Courses" in the phone book.

For a video to see how beer works click here: WARNING

A plague of squirrels

I had to go outside this morning and chase about a dozen (could have been more) tree rats away from the feeders. They must have secret signposts out there in the woods directing all their kith and kin in my direction. I imagine whatever they have posted out there is like the secret marks hobos of the depression used to leave on fence posts and gates to let those who found them know that a meal was to be had for a little work or to stay away. I think these marks must say something about easy pickings.

Anyway, I go outside and it's like a mad rush to see who can get to the trees a hundred yards distant. I can see a few perched on the branches of nearer trees but they too hightail it when I stand on the deck long enough. When I think they are gone, I go back inside, hang up my coat and turn around to see three or four at the feeders already.

Bow hunting deer season in NJ overlaps with the squirrel season. I spent many a morning sitting in a tree stand waiting for a deer to stroll by only to be pestered by a half dozen or so squirrels shuffling about in the dry leaves of the forest floor. Around eleven o'clock I would go back to the truck and switch from bow gear to shotgun and safety orange and head back to shoot some squirrels. Of course they would all disappear for their mid-day siesta. At three I'd be back in the tree stand with my bow and the damn squirrels would be back looking for acorns. *sigh*

I'm kind of hoping one or more of the red-tail hawks on the hillside get the message that they need to come down to the feeders to pick up a meal.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Sourdough Bread

In honor of the 35th running of the Iditarod I started my sourdough pot last Presidents’ Day and it has been bubbling away ever since. I started with a packet of real San Francisco Sourdough starter we had picked up on our visit to San Francisco for Christmas in 2004. The little beasties were still active and I fed them regularly for a week or two and then started making sourdough pancakes. I got the recipe from this book by Ruth Allman:
Alaska Sourdough Cookbook
Besides recipes, there’re lots of personal stories of life in Seward’s Icebox that make good reading.

The problem with sourdough is it has to get used. As you feed it it just fills the pot. Eventually you either have to take some and put it in the fridge (even here you’ll have to feed it on occasion) spilling the rest down the drain, or you have to do some baking. I chose to do some baking yesterday/this morning.

Allman’s recipe called for 4 cups of sourdough starter, 2 cups of potato water, and 10 cups of flour as well as various other goodies like sugar and salt and oil. I should have realized this was going to be a larger batch than I really desired but it was a way to use some of the bubbly goodness in the sourdough pot. Oh well, in for a penny and all that.

I folded all the ingredients together in the largest bowl I had and set it aside to rise at 6 PM. Well, it never rose properly last night. After two hours (6-8 PM) of sitting on the counter top, I put the bowl in the oven with just the light on. By 10 PM it had finally, after 4 hours nearly doubled in size. I punched it down as per instructions, covered the bowl with a towel and put it back in the oven before going to bed.

I awoke at 5 AM to check on my creation. It had barely doubled again so I dumped it onto the floured counter and divided it into four very heavy and nearly equal pieces. Rolled them around a bit to try and make them into a ball. I found the dough to be a bit moist where it had been in contact with the greased bowl so it was difficult to get it to hold as a ball. I Probably need to add another cup or so of flour to the recipe next time. I placed two of the dough balls on each baking sheet and popped them into a 400 degree oven for an hour. The two on top came out a little darker brown than the two on the bottom. None of them rose much in the baking and so I have four very heavy yet fairly flat loaves of bread.
Sourdough bread
It's certainly not the light and fluffy white bread that I used to make! They look a little like large discuses and they are about as heavy. After cooling for an hour I sliced one for my breakfast and found that the sourdough flavor was definitely there and the bread tasted great with just a smear of butter. It would go great with a bowl of venison stew and stands alone quite well (although the crust is very, very ...well, crusty).
Sourdough bread
Loaves are too flat for my taste and the core is very dense. I would guess that the little microbes didn't do their job too well. Next time I'll be sure to put the dough into loaf pans to force it to become more vertical. I won't give up on the recipe but will cut it in half the next time. I used 10 cups of flour this batch. Put a real dent in the bag of flour, that's for sure. I’ll also have to make sure to get the ascomycetes that make the active ingredient in the sourdough have got their game on. Or maybe I’ll bring a packet Fleischman’s in off the bench.
(Of course if it goes stale on me before I get to eating it, one of those loaves may just take out a whole family of squirrels.)

Things are definitely squirrely around here

I believe I've mentioned the squirrel invasion I have been experiencing, no?
Well, just a few more photographs to document where my bird food is going.
Second story squirrel
Here, the second story man seems to be checking on the ground floor guys. "Ya, ready? Cause here it comes!"
Second story squirrel
And here he grabs a snack for himselef while they clean up the spillage.

It's spelled "V.I.C.T.O.R.Y" Senator Clinton

I've tried to stay away from politics here but it's getting more and more difficult every day. I don't feel I have sufficient skills to put my thoughts into words and you'd be better off going to some of the sites on the blogroll to the right of the screen. Today, however, i feel it is necessary to point you to the piece mentioned below.

The New York Post today editorializes about a talk Sen. Hillary Clinton gave at the Center for American Progress. Seems she used some quotes from a speech Franklin D. Roosevelt made several days after Pearl Harbor. It also seems she left some parts of that speech out. See WHAT HILLARY LEFT OUT.

Why can’t they (all politicians, but especially the Democrats in Washington) that there are only two ways to end a war. You either win or you lose. There is no “try” on the battlefield. They (the Dems, including those most vociferous in calling for withdrawal) voted to start the ball. Now they don’t have the guts to finish it. Disgusting.

I can't say I agree with all of his social engineering. He was very heavy handed in some areas and the actions of his administration in the 30s, during the heart of the depression, paved the way for the entitlement programs and mentality of the present. But there was one thing Roosevelt did well. He rallied the nation and the troops in our fight against real fascism and imperialism. And he understood that there was no other way to end a war than by victory.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Breaking News: 2nd Amendment Ruled Individual Right

The D.C. gun control laws violate individuals’ Second Amendment rights. That’s according to a three judge panel of the D.C. Circuit in a ruling made today.

Lots more on the ruling with plenty of links here.

Sunset Colors

One of the reasons it has been cold here at night is the lack of cloud cover. We’ve had some snow shower activity but that’s been spotty at best. The majority of the time the sky has been a deep blue with a tracing of contrails as jets fly into and out of the major airports around Rochester, Syracuse and Toronto to the north.

The last two evenings I’ve witnessed some spectacular color in the sunsets. Wednesday evening we had just dodged a clipper that passed to the south of here in the morning and left a few inches of snow along the I-80 corridor. The afternoon cleared beautifully and this was the result: Sunset March 7, 2007
Some great shades of pinks and blues. Sunset March 7, 2007
It’s a bit out of focus because of the longer exposure time and the attempt to use the zoom feature on the camera but the colors are still there.

Then Thursday was a glorious (although chilly day) from start to finish and the evening colors were even better.
Sunset March 8, 2007
Notice all the contrails. Must be really cold up stairs!

Tree Rats To the Left of Me...

Tree Rats To the Right,
And Here I Am
Stuck In the Middle With You.

Sorry. :-) Where was I...oh yeah. Tree rats.

After putting the feeders in place back in December we went almost two weeks without seeing a bird. Then they began showing up in droves.

Then we went for a month before the first tree rat (gray squirrel) showed up. Like the birds, they must have a secret communications headquarters some where in the pines. Now we have between five and eight of the SOBs showing up every morning. Some will stay out by the telephone pole feeder and either pick up seed from the ground or spill some from the feeder so the others can feed on the ground. Tree Rats under the feederAs many as five at a time have come up on the deck to feed from the tray feeders or on the seed spilled by the wind and birds onto the deck.
Tree Rat on DeckThey’re entertaining enough but they tend to scare the birds away because of their size. When I go onto the deck it’s like rats abandoning a ship. They dive from the deck to the snow some 10 feet below and hightail it into the woods. Those on the ground by the pole tend to need some encouragement to scram. I’ll stay out watching them all seemingly disappear into the woods before returning to the indoor warmth. Moments later I’ll look out to see one hardy soul returning to the spoils. Then another. And another…

Not so brrr after all

Thank goodness the weather forecasters can't even get the temperatures correct. They predicted a low over night in the negative five degree range for this area yet it never got lower than seven degrees above zero. Now, that's still dang cold for early March but I'm just saying it's better than they forecast.

Reading on the upswing.

This is good news: Teens buying books at fastest rate in decades.

When I was teaching (Earth Science, Environmental Science, Computers, and more over 32 years), I and fellow teachers would do anything we could to encourage kids to pick up a book and read just for the fun of it. It didn’t matter much what they read just as long as they opened a book or magazine and read. It was our hope that by doing so they would improve their vocabulary and learn how to put words into sentences by osmosis.

My own two kids were readers from around age 5. (Before that it was always climb up on the lap and “Read this to me, please.”) The Electric Company, Reading Rainbow and the Sesame Street of the 80’s had a lot to do with teaching them their ABCs. Their mom and I worked at teaching them to read and, through example, encouraged them to make it a habit. Their nightstands always had one or more book perched upon it and their light wouldn’t go off until they had read a chapter or two. On more than one occasion, my daughter’s light never went out and we found her in the morning with a book lying open over her face or chest. We took them to the public library and got them cards as early in their development as possible. We also dropped a fortune at the many bookstores we frequented. It seems to have worked. The kids are now in their mid-20s, are bright, witty and well rounded. Both have done quite well in college and have learned a myriad of subjects from crafts to history.

The old saying was, “Reading is fundamental.” And it still is.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Shadow Wolves

I made mention of the Navajo Code Talkers the other day in this. Their work in WWII confounded the enemy and aided in the action of US Marines throughout the Pacific theater.

Well, it seems the Navajo are making use of other traditional skills to foil drug smugglers on the Arizona border where the Tohono O’odham Nation has its reservation. Called the Shadow Wolves, Navajo trackers work for and with the Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement to interdict drug traffickers passing through the reservation. While they don’t always get their men, they often get the drugs before the drugs get off the res.

Nearly Half Way... The Last Great Race, THE Iditarod

Sometime within the next 24 hours, the first musher will make his or her way into the ghost town of Iditarod. He or she will have succeeded in completing nearly half the 1122 mile race. From the checkpoint at Iditarod to Nome is 589 miles.

Already 10 of the 82 teams that started the race have had to pull out due to physical injury to the mushers and/or their sleds.

Because of different strategies as to pace and when and where to rest their dogs, it is difficult to identify exactly which musher leads in a long distance race like this. All have a mandatory 24 hour rest period ahead and all have a mandatory 12 hour rest period ahead. Some may stop at Ophir (90 miles short of Iditarod) and some will go on to Iditarod for their 24 hour rest.

Currently, Lance Mackey and Zack Steer are into the checkpoint at Takotna. (They moved on since I started writing this and are headed to Ophir.) Both seem to have large (16 dog) fast teams but both are looking over their shoulder at the positioning of Martin Buser whose 2002 team holds the record for the fastest Iditarod by completing the race in 8 days, 22 hours, 46 minutes and 2 seconds. Buser may not be the fastest on the first half of the race, but he has a distinct advantage over his competitors vis-à-vis the care and conditioning of his dogs. As tribute to his treatment of his racers, Martin was awarded the coveted Leonhard Seppala Award in 1988, 1993, 1995 and again in 1997 for the most humanitarian care of his dogs. And in this race, it’s the dog power that gets it done. He and his team are currently out of McGrath and on their way to Takotna. They could very well blow past the current leaders and move on to Iditarod for their long rest.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


I mentioned a few days back that the Iditarod was under way.

Well, this morning we woke up to -3.8 degrees on the thermometer and the wind chill was in the -20s here at the Aerie.

Dammit, I was interested in following the Last Great Race. I didn't want to experience the cold that accompanies it.

Wait 'til I get my hands on that ^&*%$ ground hog! Where's my early spring, you #$(&^@%$@#)!

That goes for you too, Algore!

Santa Monica to Try Birth Control

…on its park squirrels . Now that’s WILDlife! (Of course it’s California. Where else?)

Let’s see: Infertility shots: $2-$10 each Shotgun shell: about $1 each

Yep, makes sense to me.

Mouse, Moose...
That's Why They Call It WILDlife

Of course, you don’t want to tick off the mouse, either.

Mouse bites man who beat it

Never, NEVER, Make a Moose Angry

Alaska Moose Brings Down Helicopter

(And he didn't need the help of his trusty buddy, the flying squirrel>)

The helicopter was trying to herd the tranquilized moose, keeping it in an open area away from open water, but the moose was having none of that! Sadly, while the moose won the battle it lost the war. The tail roter injured the moose sufficiently that the moose had to be put down.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Raising Stonehenge

Now this is fascinating! Wally Wallington is my hero! He can move blocks weighing tons using only himself, a few pebbles, and some boards. Amazing.

"Gravity is my favorite tool."

Rest time

Just had to snap this picture of the two siblings after they had 1) finished racing around the house chasing one another 2) polished off their dinner --and Julie’s. (Julie got an even better meal when she shared some venison steak with me so she’s not hurtin’. For some reason the kids haven't really gotten into eating people food.)
Resting comfortably
Chester uses his sister, Shadow, as a pillow.

They are atop the sofa using one of Terry’s flannel shirts as a bed. It’s dark out so there’s no sense facing the other way. The birdies are gone for the day.

Chester is growing into a monster. He weighs in at nearly 10.5 pounds and most of it's muscle. If the tree rats start to make real nuisances out of themselves I just might let slip the cat of war! (But Chester, while he could easily take a squirrel, might chase one too far up a tree and then I would have to get out the ladder...oh, well. Just watch'em boy.)

Preserving Languages

Don Thornton: saving spoken languages one at a time. With the help of people like Wayne Wells and Curtis Campbell.
Campbell is an elder in the Mdewakanton Sioux tribe that makes up the Prairie Island Indian Community, and he is one of a small number of Minnesotans fluent in a particularly old dialect of Siouan. He is a key part of a tribal project, overseen by Wells, to record the Dakota language so it can be programmed into an instant electronic translator that seems like something out of "Star Trek."

Known as the Phraselator P2, the handheld device already is being used by U.S. soldiers in Iraq to help them communicate with Iraqis. A person can speak into the Phraselator P2 — a unit just slightly bigger than a paperback book — and a pre-programmed voice repeats the phrase, translated.

For example, say "What is your name?" into the Phraselator P2 that Wells uses, and it responds with the Dakota equivalent, "He toked eciyapi he?"

The device can carry different chips for different languages. The military, law enforcement and medical personnel have used it for a while, but American Indian tribes recently have begun using it to preserve their native tongues.

I enjoyed the PBS series The History of English with Robin McNeil when it aired way back when, etymology is always fascinating. But this is an even more important project. Languages evolve and disappear. In the past we had no way of preserving them properly as the written word loses much of the nuance of a language. This is living history with a practical side. Remember the use of Navajo Code Talkers of WWII?

(Seen at

Saturday, March 03, 2007

And They're Off!

One of the last Great Races, The Iditarod Sled Dog Race, gets underway at 9:30 AM AST today with the Ceremonial Start in Anchorage, Alaska. (The official restart will occur tomorrow at Willow.) There are 82 teams entered in the event. The grueling race will take anywhere from 11 days on to travel from Anchorage to Nome, a distance of 1122 miles.

Visit The Official Site of the Iditarod to follow the action. (It’s a helluva lot better than being out there in the sub-zero cold!)

Friday, March 02, 2007

Fish Story

Okay, I saw this over at GuyKs place CHARMING, JUST CHARMING and got such a kick out of it I had to post it here.

Watch it all the way through.

Oh, and swallow any beverages or food you may be chawing on.
You have been warned.

It's Maple Syrup Time

It’s the beginning of March and that means the Maple Syrup season is in full swing. Just this week we have begun to have the perfect weather for sap flow here at the Aerie. The days have inched above freezing (although we are due for at least one more day of below 32 degrees later this week) and the nights have been dropping well below freezing. It is this fluctuation that causes sap to move up the trunks to feed the swelling buds and down to keep from freezing and bursting the smaller branches and twigs.

We once (and only once) attempted to make maple syrup while we lived in New Jersey. There were several large red maple trees on our property and, while not the best source of sap (too watery by some counts), the red maple can be tapped for its sap. After the kids and I spent an afternoon watching a demonstration of the process over at the Great Swamp’s Nature Center, I purchased a few metal buckets and spiles and proceeded to tap my rather small (only six trees) sugar bush.

In a matter of days we had several gallons of sap stored in plastic gallon milk jugs. It was then time for the boiling down. Sap has to be concentrated to become syrup. Straight from the tree it has a faint sweet taste but is almost pure water. It is estimated it takes close to forty gallons of sap to make one gallon of 7% sugar syrup. I didn’t own an evaporator so I figured the 20 quart stock pot would serve and the gas stove in the kitchen would do nicely, thank you.

We poured three gallons of sap into the stock pot and turned the burner on under the pot and proceeded to boil. And boil. And boil. And boil.

A word of advice: Don’t do this.

After several hours of boiling, all the windows in the house were steamed. The wallpaper was peeling. There was a residue of all the cooking oils of years gone past mixing with the condensing water running down the walls. And we had about a glass of homemade maple syrup that was barely tan. But it did taste like syrup not sap.
Took the four of us one meal to use that syrup on our pancakes. Took me three days to scrub down the walls of the kitchen and glue the wallpaper back into place.

The buckets make nice planters if you drill a few holes in the bottom.
All About Maple Syrup

More Bird Watchin’

This time in an article from the Opinion Journal of the Wall Street Journal of all places.

Where Are the Bluebirds?

(Seen first on

Consensus? Hardly.

Here’s a report from National Geographic News of a Russian scientist, Habibullo Abdussamatov, head of the St. Petersburg's Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in Russia, who, using the warming of Mars coinciding with that of Earth, points out that it’s the Sun causing the current increase in Earth's temperatures and not the “massive amounts of CO2” being pumped out by humans. (The author of the piece uses that phrase but makes no mention of the even larger amounts of natural CO2 emissions.)

The last two paragraphs might give a clue as to why there is such a push to do something NOW!
Abdussamatov remains contrarian, however, suggesting that the sun holds something quite different in store.

"The solar irradiance began to drop in the 1990s, and a minimum will be reached by approximately 2040," Abdussamatov said. "It will cause a steep cooling of the climate on Earth in 15 to 20 years."

If Abudssamatov is correct, 15 years from now the wack jobs could claim their actions in reducing greenhouse gases led to the declining temperatures. Think how that could play in boosting egos that are already over inflated.

Should we do nothing extraordinary beyond our current actions to conserve our natural resources, and the temperatures fall anyway, then the curtain will have been drawn back and the Wizard exposed for what he his--a charlatan.

(As seen in the Drudge Report)


Under Irony

This headline also appears on the Drudge Report:
Minnesota Public Radio forum on global warming cancelled -- due to blizzard...
Ya gotta love it!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

I Know It’s Early, But…

Poll: NJ voters prefer Giuliani

Holy Cow!

Actually, upon reflection, when more than half the state’s radio and TV coverage is out of NYC, and given Giuliani’s activities in the city’s recovery before and after 9/11, this shouldn’t be that big a surprise. Prior to 9/11 his cleanup of crime in the city made him pretty damn popular. After 9/11, he became revered.

With all the primaries yet to be run and 18 months until the election, I don't know if he will be the GOP standard bearer or if I would even want him to be. But it is interesting nonetheless.

(Found on )