Thursday, December 31, 2009

Aerie Report, December 31, 2009

The cats woke us at 7 AM this morning to a dark and snowy world. The forecast had said we would get snow late in the night. What they didn't say was that it would, in fact, be early this morning. It snowed hard for five hours or so resulting in an accumulation of between 3 and 4 inches of light powder. Not nearly enough for me to use the snow thrower, so I spent two-plus hours shoveling the driveway. Terry got the deck and then spent half an hour helping me with the drive.

Our temperatures are pretty comfortable. We started with 20 degrees at 7 AM and it's warmed up to 28 with a tiny bit of hazy sunshine. Tomorrow's forecast calls for a high of 30 degrees but then we'll drop back to around 20 for Saturday and Sunday and then the mid-20s the rest of the week. Snow showers (30-40% chance) are forecast by for each of the next ten days. We shall see.


Lunch was a warming bowl of curried acorn squash that was more gruel than soup. It may have looked like baby food but it sure packed a kick! Terry saw the recipe in one of her magazines and thought to give it a try. That recipe is a keeper.


Terry and I have no intention of going anywhere for New Year's Eve.

I'll probably watch the bowl games. There are five of them today. (I'm shocked to see Air Force doing so well against Houston. AF leads 34-20 as the third quarter winds down.)

Terry will probably watch the ball drop and we'll toast the entrance of 2010 with a glass of sparkling cider.

What ever your plans are for the evening, I hope you have a good time and stay safe.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Aerie Report, December 30, 2009

A quiet and slightly warmer day here at the Aerie. After a cloudy morning temperature of around 15 degrees the sun came out and warmed things up to the mid 20s. Dead calm gave way to steady southwest winds.

This "warming" will bring some snow, however. In the next four days we'll see about four inches of the white stuff. That's still better than what they're expecting up in New Hampshire and Maine. From the Presidential Range up through the St. Lawrence Valley will see a foot or more from a rapidly moving and strengthening system off the north Atlantic coast.

Terry and I have no plans to go anywhere until Sunday morning.


Speaking of Sunday, Terry will be going to Mass as she always does. I got a call from my birding buddy, Gary, who, in turn, had an email from some folks down in Williamsport. The Lycoming Audubon Society will be doing their Christmas Bird Count on Sunday and they're looking for help. There are some areas in southern Tioga County that are within their circle and they're shorthanded. So it looks like I'll be going birding in some new territory near Trout Run and Morris. I hope that Gary gets some scouting reports before we go.

Idaho 43, Bowling Green 42

Whew! I'm exhausted!

Only one field goal attempted (by BG early in the game) and it was blocked. Up and down the field. Back and forth. Bowling Green took the lead 42-35 with just 32 seconds left in the game and I though the Vandals had blown it. But they came back and scored their own TD with 0.04 on the clock. Then they went for two and made it!

After being 1-11 two years ago and 2-10 last year, the Vandals really stepped up this year. They were 6-1 at one point and then lost four of their last five games. But today they had just enough to win their first bowl appearance in 11 years.

This game gets my vote as the most entertaining so far. (Yeah, Wyoming's 35-28 double overtime win over Fresno State was pretty good, too. As was Pitt's 19-16 last second win over North Carolina.)

And there's still lots of games to go!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tundra (Aerie) Report., December 29, 2009

The best words to hear form the service manager: "Of course, it's covered by your warranty."

The worst: "We don't have the part in stock. We've ordered it and it should be here tomorrow. We'll call you and set up a date."

I actually can't fully remember what the problem was. I think it was a bad air injector pump or something like that. The fact it wasn't going to cost me more than time made the rest of my mind slightly fuzzy in reception.

I blame the cold, cold temperatures.


The winds howled out of the north-northwest much of the night. By this morning the thermometer read just 6 degrees at 9 AM and never got above 16 degrees all afternoon despite a strong sun shining all day.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Aerie Report, December 28, 2009

I got nothing the last few days.

Terry made the trip back to the Aerie on Sunday with no trouble. By the time she got home, all the ice and snow on the ground was gone thanks to the warm air and the rain. Once she was here, however, the wind went and switched to the west-northwest and the temperatures started to fall.

This morning the thermometer read only 18 degrees and a fresh coating of light snow covered the ground while the wind swept most of it off the deck. Tonight the weather quacks say wind chills (gusts to 40 and 50 mph) may get down to zero degrees. Winter has returned.

I travel over to Sayre, PA tomorrow afternoon to get the Tundra serviced. I hope to find out why the "Service Engine" light came on and also get the regular 35K mile service done. I'll take time in the morning to make up a list of some woodworking supplies I want/need and stop at the Lowe's store over there when I'm done at the shop.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Aerie Report, December 26, 2009

It's been a rainy day here at the Aerie. Being on the eastern side of the Big Storm hitting Minnesota and the Dakotas means we're getting moist warm air dragged up from the south and east. The rain hasn't been torrential but it's certainly been continuous. Between the rain and the temperatures climbing into the low-40s, virtually all the snow on the ground has disappeared. Most has simply melted but some has contributed to the fog that's often referred to as "rotting" snow. Actually, that's usually just the very moist air being cooled below the dew point by the snow and ice on the ground. The result of that cooling is condensation and fog.

I had to spent some time spreading salt on the driveway when I went out this morning to go get the mail. The snow packed by driving on it had turned to a sheet of ice that made walking on the slope an exciting experience. Continued warm temperatures and rain mixed with the salt to break up nearly all of the ice by darkness.


Football. Football. Football.

Still not doing well on my bowl picks. Only Rutgers and Utah have been on my winning list so far making me 2-5. Ouch! Pitt's looking good, however. Especially with stupid plays/penalties by N. Carolina.
[UPDATE: Oy! A field goal with 62 seconds left to win the game for Pitt 19-17.]

I will say, however that it's frustrating to make my picks and then learn that there are players being sent home for violating team rules or breaking laws or not making the trip to a bowl because they were too stupid to pass six (6) hours during the semester. I don't know ho much things have changed, but when I went to RU between '67 and '71 six hours amounted to two classes. One engineering course could be five hours. A biology lab was four hours. I'll forgive those kids who couldn't play because of injury but breaking rules and laws or not maintaining your grades? Idiots.


I saw this headline: Kerry Floats Plan to Visit Tehran, and my first thought was, Will he bring his lucky hat?

My second thought was this was a slap in the face to those within Iran's borders who are protesting the current administration.

My third thought was that this was a big--and I mean REALLY BIG--mistake regardless who actually goes but KERRY?

But what do I know. I didn't even stay at a Holiday Inn last night.

Lesson learned

If you have a fire place or insert with a removable thick steel smoke tray (a piece in the top of the firebox that catches flying cinders before they can go up the flue or that's there to redirect the air flow), it is not wise to try to pick it up even with thick leather gauntlets if it is displaced and falls into the red hot coals. Especially if the fire has been burning long enough to produce those red hot coals.

Now, those leather gauntlets--full thickness of a steer's hide--may allow you to pick up a burning log as advertised, but they are not--repeat NOT sufficient to pick up a piece of steel that may be several hundreds of degrees in temperature and, perhaps, just shy of glowing.

I now know this for a fact as attested to by the second degree burns on my right index and middle fingers.

That is all.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Aerie Report, December 25, 2009 Christmas Day

The cats and I spent a quiet day curled up in front of the fire place. Although the outside temperatures rose to just above freezing with the south southwest breezes, we had a little of this and a little of that as precipitation. Snow, sleet, freezing rain and then rain fell for much of the afternoon and into the evening hours. There wasn't much in the way of accumulation insofar as the snow and freezing rain went. The regular rain washed it all away and warmed the surface of the deck and driveway. The warm air blowing from the fireplace did alleviate the feeling of rawness that the precipitation and mid-30s temperatures created.


Spent some time on the phone speaking with my wife and daughter in New Jersey and then got a nice phone call from my son who is currently visiting his in-laws in Chicago. All is well, all is calm and all is bright.

Jessica is doing well in her Computer Science classes and working behind the scenes at the Apple Store where she likes it. (No direct contact with the customers, you know.)

Rick has been busy with the landscaping contractor for which he works despite it being the off season and weekly concerns about having enough to do. Hanging Christmas lights for home owners has taken up some of the slack but he says things should be looking up in a two or three months when spring arrives in Portland.

DIL Sandy is busy as a beaver at the law firm for which she works in Portland. Her nearly 12-hour days, six days a week are tiring, however.

And Terry is about partied out! She'll stay in NJ until Sunday so she can pick Mom--who has been to Half Moon Bay, CA for the holiday--up at the airport late Saturday night. (That way Jess won't have to worry about having to do so and still get to work early Sunday.)

Me? I'm watching cats snooze, flicker flames in the fireplace, big fat snow flakes come hurdling to the ground and watching football on TV. (Just don't ask me how I'm doing on my bowl picks, okay?) I'll wait 'til Terry gets home to open any presents.

I hope you had a very Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas.

Linus explains the meaning of Christmas

The Celtic Woman perform "Christmas Pipes."

And "O Holy Night"

Aerie Report, December 24, 2009

When I came downstairs this morning at 7 AM it was just 18 degrees and the clouds were down to around 2100 feet elevation. As a result, I could look up the hill and see the tops of the pines gathering frozen fog upon their needles while down the hill, there was nothing. That changed when the clouds dropped even lower a few minutes later and everything was shrouded in fog. When they lifted a few hours later (there was no breeze or breath of air movement to assist), the trees on the far hillside were also covered with a very thin sheen of ice.

Trees with a thin coating of ice.

The haze is caused by some lingering clouds and by the "smokey" nature of water vapor entering the atmosphere as the temperatures climb in to the mid-20s. (Ice changing directly to vapor without first melting is called sublimation. It's how frost free freezers work.)

There's a hint of a "fog line" in this photo.

Notice the windmill isn't turning. No wind so no electricity. The wind may be "green" but it sure is intermittent. (That means "not all the time.")


The folks at AccuHunch took the ice out of the forecast. Instead we'll get lots of rain, they say, as the temperatures Saturday and Sunday will positively soar into the mid-30s wherever their weather station is located. (We are usually 4 or 5 degrees colder than wherever that is.) The rain will be followed by a little bit of snow Sunday night.

Concerns about that stupid dashboard light will keep me in PA, however, ice or no ice.


Rick and Sandy were flying into O'Hare to celebrate Christmas with her folks. I home they have a safe flight and are not canceled or anything nasty. Sandy has been working long hours and weeks for an attorney in Portland and they haven't really had much time off together.
[UPDATE: The kids got into O'Hare okay and on time on Wednesday despite numerous cancellations of other flights.]

Terry and Jess will go to my sister's annual get together this evening. Terry's been gallivanting around NJ and even NYC visiting friends and former coworkers during the holiday party season. She's the sociable one in the house.


Well, I got the gas cans filled up and added some stabilizer to each one so the gas won't go bad before I need it. Moved a couple of wheelbarrows full of firewood into the garage, too. Except for the birds chattering around the feeders it's really, really quiet around the Aerie. It might be time to take a hint from the cats who are sound asleep after having finished their lunch.

Give us this day our daily Birds, Part 4

Today's bird is the Tufted Titmouse. Slightly larger than the chickadee, the Titmouse looks like a miniature gray and white cardinal with its triangular beak and peaked head gear. One thing that always amazes me with these little birds is their large, dark eye. It loos about two sizes too big for their frame.

Tufted Titmouse enjoys a seed.

Tufted Titmouse. So many to choose from!

The slight blush of rusty beige on the flanks breaks up the monochromatic scheme on these little birds. Both males and females look alike--just like the chickadees, juncos, nuthatches, blue jays, and mourning doves.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Aerie Report, December 23, 2009
The Oh Cr*p!! Edition

Just as the weather wonks had moved the ice storm to early on Christmas Day and opened a window I could work with the travel to NJ on Christmas Eve and back later on Christmas Day, the Tundra betrays me!

I traveled down to AJ's Power Equipment in Mansfield today to purchase a generator (just in case) and then over to Wally World for some groceries (okay, snack food for the bowl games). On the way back up the hill to the Aerie, the "Check Engine" light comes on. I'm 200 or so miles before my oil change and the time for the Maintenance Required" light, so this is not to be taken lightly. The truck doesn't act any differently than before but a 500 mile round trip to NJ is not to be undertaken without someone more knowledgeable than I looking under the hood. (I did check the oil and coolant fluids and they seem fine. And none of the gauges on the dash indicated a problem in the short trip to town and back.) I did call the serviceman but he said 1) they are closed until Monday, 2) it's probably nothing more than a sensor malfunction since the behavior didn't change, 3) the fact that it's not misbehaving now doesn't mean it won't start acting up in a couple hundred miles. I made an appointment to bring the Tundra in on Tuesday.

So it looks like I'll be home alone for Christmas...again. Just me, the cats and a few hundred small birds.

I still have to get down the hill tomorrow to get the mail and fill up two gas cans...just in case.


I figure to cook a venison tenderloin, some string beans and a baked potato for my Christmas dinner. Julie the Cat will help me eat the tenderloin. I'm sure of that. She really likes wild game. She starts salivating as soon as the meat has thawed enough to give off any aroma and, sometimes, even before that. When a friend gave us some moose meat a few years back all we had to do was take it out of the freezer and she was stalking the kitchen waiting for her "taste"--which translated into a good sized tablespoon's worth of finely cut red meat. She'll pick up a piece and give it a good shake to make sure it's dead before chowing down.

She's the only one of the three that eats "human" food. She'll eat chicken, turkey beef and some fish (she doesn't like blackened or cajun style and forget about any rubs or breading), but what she really likes is venison, moose, bison, and squirrel. Looking at those first three, I think she's got an inner cougar in her somewhere. Thank goodness she's the smallest of the three cats!


I mentioned the ice we're supposed to be getting on Friday. They now say the ice could accumulate to 0.4 inches before the whole thing switches to rain. Looking at the maps it seems the storm center is actually going to pass a bit further west than they thought earlier this week which is why points west of the Great Lakes will be hit hardest with the snow and wind. Here, warm air will be pulled up from the south and run over the cold air that's been entrenched for a week or more. (At the Aerie, we haven't see the temperature get above 31 degrees in more than a week.) The moisture in the warm southern air will fall through the cold lower layers and freeze either on the way down or on the surface. Eventually, the warm air will push the cold air back to the north and we'll get all rain...maybe. At 2100 feet, I don't really know if that's going to happen.

After two days (Friday and Saturday) of slightly warming temperatures, we'll get back to below freezing again. And that's for the high temperatures. We'll be a few degrees below the average highs and, upon those clear nights, almost 10 degrees below the average lows through New Year's Eve.

I better pull some more firewood in to the garage...just in case.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Dinner Company

So. I'm standing at the kitchen sink preparing my dinner when I glance outside to see that I've got company.
Black Bear at the metal feeder.

"Yeah, I'm talking to you!"

It's not a big bear; probably its first winter without Momma. The feeder's less than four feet off the ground. Still, even at around 150 pounds it can put a sizable dent in the seed budget not to mention the feeder damage.

It took a little shouting and a bit of banging on the deck rail to shoo it away. If it comes back, the feeders will have to come in over night. And that is a PIA.

[UPDATE: The little bugger came back after dark. Tried to sneak in to the feeders but I was alerted by Julie Cat running back and forth from window to window. The feeders are now in the house.*sigh*]

[UPDATE 2: The rotten SOB came back again. I brought in all but one feeder, the one that was mounted on top of a metal post. It's a large feeder holding 203 pounds of sunflower seed. It's made of heavy metal and has a wire cage to keep the squirrels out. The bear bent the pole at the ground, separated the feeder from the top but could not get to the seeds. Julie didn't warn me this time. She was curled at my feet basking in my praise. (And having eaten a portion of my chicken dinner.)]

Give us this day our daily Birds, Part 3

I'm only going to post pictures of one bird today: The White-breasted Nuthatch

These chunky little birds are fairly common around the Aerie. I've seen four or five at a time at the feeders and in the trees. Usually they fly in, snatch a seed and then head out to the trees where they will land on the trunk facing downward, wedge the seed into a crack in the bark and hammer away at it to get at the meat inside.

A White-breasted Nuthatch scopes out the cameraman.

The handsome little one shows off its profile.

Looking for just the right seed. This bird threw two or
three aside before it was satisfied with its selection.

But at least one bird has learned that the cracks, or checks, in the deck posts are a good substitute for a tree's bark. Less energy wasted in flying back and forth, too.

The seed stuffed into a post's crack and the little bird
puts everything it has into getting at what's inside.

Spring is coming!

It's the first official day of winter (The Solstice) and yet I've also received the first harbinger of spring. Newly arrived in today's mail was the 2010 Burpee Seed Catalog! It used to be that the catalog wouldn't arrive until the calanders had been changed. Now, like the holiday decorations in the store, they seem to have moved up a month or more. Still, it's nice to have all those lovely photos to look at even if the plants in my garden never, ever look that good.

Not that there's much we want or need to purchase this year. We've a long summer trip planned that will take us away from the Aerie between June 15th and September 1st and there won't be anyone around to tend the garden except for Mr. Groundhog and Mr. Rabbit. Terry and I have signed up for a Good Sam's Club Caraventure that will take us to Alaska.

Now all we have to do is find somewhere to park the kitties for the two and a half months. They do not travel well and crossing the Canadian border would require all sorts of extra paperwork. Not to mention the worry of their going on the lam the first time the trailer door is opened.


Meanwhile, it's overcast and cold at the Aerie again with light breezes just sufficient enough to turn the windmills. A "decorative" snow flurry or two (it's been nearly continuous) is slowly falling. No accumulation is predicted beyond a "dusting" of snow. Beats the heck out of a foot of the stuff like Terry had in Linden, NJ.

I'm supposed to go into NJ on Thursday for Christmas Eve at my sister's returning to the Aerie on Christmas Day. But, just like last year, ice is in the forecast for Christmas Day. AccuHunch this morning said up to 0.8 inches is possible. If it moves up I may have to forgo the journey just as I did last year. Snow I don't mind driving in, but ice is another thing altogether.


The birds are taking advantage of my largess in great numbers today. The chickadees; tufted titmice; white- and red-breasted nuthatches; juncos; blue jays; goldfinches; mourning doves; red-bellied, downy, and hairy woodpeckers are zooming in and out like jets at O'Hare. Unlike the jets, rather than circle the clearing in holding patterns they perch in the trees or cling to the tree trunks around the yard to await their chance at choice feeding spots or to hammer at purloined seeds . I find the activity of my feathered horde exhausting. I may have to follow the cats' example and grab some shuteye.

Brain Freeze (or That Senior Moment)

Ever have to dial your cell phone from your land line because you forgot where you put the cell?

How 'bout not being able to find that item you put in a "safe place" a month ago?

We moved into the Aerie in December of 2006 after moving out of our NJ home in September. Now, losing things in transit is not unusual but I still haven't located that box--put in a safe place--that contained over two dozen different bolo ties.

And that battery charger for the Nikon Coolpix I put away last spring is still AWOL, so I had to purchase another online.

More and more frequently I look at a common tree, plant, bird, etc. that I've seen a thousand times and know all the habits of only to ask, "What's its name?" And forget about people!

As for tools and stuff...With two domiciles (Aerie and Bolt Hole) 220 miles apart, I now own three of everything. And they are always at the other place when I need them.

Maybe that's why Terry forwarded this to me.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Rutger Over UCF, 45-24 in St. Petersburg

In case you missed it last night, the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers won their fourth consecutive bowl game when they trounced the Golden Knights of Central Florida 45-24.

The win gave Rutgers a 9-4 record for the season. Two of those loses, to Pittsburgh 24-17 and to West Virginia 24-21, could have gone the other way with a few breaks. They got blown out by Cincinnati in the opener 47-15 with Dominic Natale under center, and--inexplicably--31-0 to Syracuse.

And things look bright for the near future. nearly all the offense returns including Freshman QB Tom Savage, who threw for 294 yards and two TDs last night, and Freshman WR Mohammed Sanu, who ran for two TDs out of the wildcat formation and scored another on an 11-yard pass. Freshman D.C. Jefferson, a quarterback in high school, is still learning the tight end position but should be a big (literally at 6' 6" ) target next year. All of RU's running backs will be returning and the only receiver they will lose to graduation is TD Timmy Brown. The offensive line will lose the most, especially if, as expected, junior left tackle Anthony Davis opts to enter the NFL draft.

The defense will see several players graduate and/or opt for the draft, and not all of them will be easy to replace. Senior LB Damaso Munoz will be playing on Sundays next year. Cornerback Billy Anderson, who came in for an injured Devin McCourty and ran an interception back for a TD, is graduating. McCourty, listed as having a year left, may join his brother in the NFL. SS Zaire Kitchen, LB Ryan D'Imperio, and DE George Jefferson will graduate.

The roster holds plenty of underclassmen who are waiting their turn and the recruiting class is strong once again. With a stronger out of conference schedule in 2010, RU could join the Top 25 early and stay there.

Pine cones

I like pine cones. The symmetry they display is remarkable when you look closely at them. And the little winged seeds tucked under each scale serve as food to red (pine) squirrels and lots of birds. yesterday, on one of my stops for the Christmas Bird Count, I came upon a stand of pines that still held many of their cones. They must have still had seeds inside too, because the Chickadees and Red-breasted Nuthatches were all over those trees.

The birds didn't stay still long enough for me to get the camera to focus but the pine cones did.

Pine Cone at Ive's Run.

Morning weather at the Aerie and east

It dropped to 16 degrees overnight at the Aerie. That's not real cold but it is still below the average low for this date. It never did get above 25 yesterday and isn't likely to do so today as the breezes (can't really call them "winds" as the air is barely moving) are blowing out of the north.

While the east coast got dumped on, we here in the interior a couple of hundred miles from the ocean got bupkis, nada, nil, zip in the way of any new accumulations. Oh, occasionally there is a very fine crystalline form of precipitation falling, but it has neither filled in the squirrel tracks on the old snow nor covered any part of the wood on the deck.

Meanwhile, Terry reports that she and Jessica received around 11" of light powdery fluff during the night. They had both cars parked in the driveway which is about 5 normal cars long so all she had to do was clear the end of the drive and the sidewalk before heading off to church. She'll get the balance of the snow cleared when she gets back. Jessica had to go off to work early as The Mall At Short Hills' tape message said they would be open today. As long as they had a crew available to clear the snow from the access roads that's probably a sound decision since the snow has ended and it is one of the few malls with a large, multi-tiered parking garage.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Give us this day our daily Birds, Part 2

Downy Woodpeckers, both male and female, are frequent visitors to both the suet feeder and the sunflower seed feeders. When they take seeds--or even a chunk of suet--they often head off to the trees where they will wedge their food into a crack using it like a vise. They'll then hammer away at it until it's gone or they can reach the kernel inside. Once in a while I'll catch a downy or a White-breasted Nuthatch using a crack in the deck posts in the same way.

Downy Woodpecker (female) hammers at the frozen suet.

A male Downy has his eye on the stick feeder hanging on the deck.
But there is a female already there. Gentleman that he is, he'll wait.

The only feeders the Dark-eyed Junco uses are the tray feeders. They are primarily ground feeder. On the ground, they scratch at the soil to find insect or seeds. Those that come to the deck are as likely to work the deck's surface like a clean-up crew. When they are on the tray they can be little bullies as they fiercely defend their food source from other small birds.

Dark-eyed Junco on the deck feeding tray.

American Goldfinches come in bunches. This year's numbers aren't as large as last year--yet. That's probably due to the lack of thistle. I've still got to purchase a bag of thistle and put out the thistle feeder. Once I do, I expect the current visitors to contact their nearest hundred relatives and we'll soon be inundated. One nice thing about Goldfinches is they serve as a calendar. When the males start to molt into their summer suits, usually in March, you know that warm weather will soon be returning even if there's still snow on the ground.

American Goldfinches occupy the stick feeder on the deck.

Look in the dictionary next to "ubiquitous" and you'll see a picture of the Chickadee. They also appear next to "friendly" and "curious." They buzz around the feeders like honey bees, darting in and out as they pick up a seed and bring it out to the woods. I've had Chickadees come to a feeder as I was filling it. I've not had one land on me yet, but others I know have had them perch on the shoulders and hats--even plucking at their mustaches--as they beg for seeds. Oh, they also appear next to the word "glutton." Often they stash their seed in the cracks and crevasses of tree bark, saving their booty for a rainy day.

Black-capped Chickadee grabs a seed from the stick feeder.

My Christmas Bird Count

It was a chilly 23 degrees as I started my Christmas Bird Count at the overlook of the Tioga-Hammond Lakes just outside of Tioga, PA. After a brief stop there, I moved to Ive's Run on the west end of Hammond Lake and then to the Rail Road Grade Trail from the inlet of Crooked Creek to Hammond Lake to the trails western terminus.

While I didn't find many species at any one location, I did end up with a total of 20 for the morning. And for a few of those species, I saw a large number of individuals.

The results:

Mallard 32
Bald Eagle 1
Broad-winged Hawk 1 [Upon further review, I believe this was a Red-tailed Hawk and not a Broad-winged Hawk. My bad!]
Red-tailed Hawk 2 3 [Corrected to reflect the above comment.]
Downy Woodpecker 1
Ring-billed Gull 90
Blue Jay 11
American Crow 12
Black-capped Chickadee 32
Tufted Titmouse 5
Eastern Bluebird 4
American Robin 4
White-breasted Nuthatch 3
Red-breasted Nuthatch 1
European Starling 7
Cedar Waxwing 100
American Tree Sparrow 25
White-throated Sparrow 2
Dark-eyed Junco 126
Northern Cardinal 10

Ten or twelve of us met to hand in our lists and discuss our findings. I think I saw more birds than most thanks to the gulls, waxwings and juncos.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Aerie Report, December 18, 2009

After attending her EGA luncheon today, Terry headed off to New Jersey to beat the snow storm that is hitting the east coast. If she had stayed to participate in the Christmas Bird Count tomorrow, she would have been arriving several hours after the snow is supposed to arrive. The prognosticators are saying the snow will accumulate to a depth of 6 to 10 inches in the area of NYC through Sunday afternoon.

Here at the Aerie, we're in the 1 to 3 inch zone.


As I mentioned, the Christmas Bird Count takes place tomorrow. I'll be taking the cameras and the Tundra over to Hammond Lake (Ive's Run) and along the Railroad Grade Trail that runs along Crooked Creek. Members of the Tiadaghton Audubon Society will gather at a member's house at 2 PM to tally up and submit our findings over a hot bowl of chili and more. With sunrise at around 7:30 AM, I figure to be out around 7 AM for breakfast and coffee at Mickey D's before hitting the lake shore.


Not much else happening around here.

I did light another fire today since the afternoon temperature never got above 24 degrees. The snow storm would normally bring in some warmer air from the south and off the ocean but that won't happen tomorrow. Apparently the storm center will be staying a bit further out to sea or the cold air that is entrenched over us just won't get out of the way. In either case, the forecast is for it to get up to around 25 again tomorrow afternoon before the snow arrives and the night time temps drop to around 15 degrees. (The average high is 36 for this date. The average low is 20.)

Give us this day our daily Birds

Just because Dudley asked so nicely...

These are just a few of the birds that show up daily here at the Aerie.

Blue Jay

Blue Jays are, of course, quite common anywhere there is free food to plunder and smaller birds to intimidate. If no smaller birds dare come to the feeders, they will argue amongst themselves. They are also one of the few winter birds with lots of color.

Mourning Dove

The mourning doves seem to travel in flocks of ten or more. Seldom is there a solitary bird in the yard. They are large enough to give the jays a bit of what-for on the deck. The doves will also take advantage of the sparse amount of gravel exposed int he driveway when I move the truck or, on rare occasions, when the sun shines and opens a patch for them to peck at. They use the gravel by storing it in their crop. When they swallow a sunflower seed shell and all, the gravel in the crop grinds it into a paste they can digest. What's left they deposit all over my deck. The dirty birds!

Red-bellied Woodpecker

We've only got one red-bellied woodpecker in the area as far as we can tell. We call her Winnie and she's a moocher, too. Rather than go look for insects in the many snags (dead trees) in the area, she'll show up at the feeder and eat, and eat, and eat. Sometimes she'll take a seed and head for the trees but usually she encamps and eats her fill before leaving. Like the doves, she's large enough to challenge the jays. She usually wins, too.

So there's three birds I photographed about two weeks ago on the front deck.

The Yoopers!

You that must travel on the eastern seaboard this weekend, take care.

Best laid plans...yada, yada.

Remember what I said about making God laugh, about the best laid plans, about thinking more than a day in advance with the winter season here on the eastern coast? (Well, maybe I didn't say anything about that last one...but I should have!)

The overnight low here at the Aerie was 8 degrees. That's positively balmy compared to the minus 12 degree low up near the Bolt Hole. At 8:30 AM the temps have risen to 11 degrees and minus 11 at each location.

Terry had intended to stick around here for the Christmas Bird Count on Saturday before driving into NJ. That was when then. Then--yesterday--was when the forecasters seemed to have the storm coming up from the Texas Gulf Coast shooting out to sea somewhere around Virginia. Now is a different story.

Apparently the storm wants to visit D.C. and Atlantic City. The result is it will hug the coast more and won't veer to sea until it has hit the Jersey shore. Fifty mile an hour gusts are possible along the coast. Six to ten inches of snow are possible for NYC and its immediate environs. Linden, NJ is close enough to both to get a walloping.

Terry will be leaving this afternoon for NJ. There, she can help Jessica shovel the driveway and walk. The Aerie will be amply defended by the three cats and I as we sit/lie in front of the fire. We should get anywhere from a dusting to an inch or two of fresh snow.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Aerie Report, December 17, 2009

No Global Warming here, although it did not get down to the single digits overnight like Terry told me it would. (I think she may have gotten a quick peek at the Wind Chill temperatures and thought they were the actual ones. She's done that before.) No, instead it dropped to 16 degrees as the day broke, climbed to all of 24 degrees as the sun got over the mountain and has dropped again to just 14 degrees at 7:30 PM. The good news is that the wind stopped blowing at sundown. It had been quite brisk all day and made things feel anywhere fro 5 to 10 degrees colder than they actually were. With a sparse cloud cover, the temperatures could get into the single digits tonight. At least that what and AccuHunch say.

I'm glad I'm not up at the Bolt Hole. It was just below zero before daybreak this morning, climbed way up to 14 degrees this afternoon and has fallen back to minus 2 at 8:30 PM. It will get much, much colder tonight, too.

The cold forced my hand. I built another fire in the fireplace to supplement our propane heat. I'm not worried about running out of gas. On the contrary, we got a fresh delivery Tuesday morning. I'm not sure what the charge will be as the driver didn't leave the bill at the door as he usually does. I do know that it was close to half a tank so it will add up to a sizable chink of change. Then again, our last delivery was back in the middle of October so the money is in the budget from November and December and that should more than cover the cost.

The fire serves at least three purposes: 1) aesthetics--There's nothing like sitting in the living room seeing the flicker of flame dancing across a log or the warm glow of red hot coals in the firebox. 2) warmth--With an air circulating, double walled firebox, the fireplace sucks air from the basement, blows it through the space between the double walls and pushes the warmed air out into the room. The cats especially love that as they curl up on the rug or couch directly in front of the warm air stream. 3) CO2 emissions--Now, I know that CO2 is not a major part of our atmosphere (only something in the realm of 0.039 % of our atmosphere is CO2) and that studies have shown that it increases AFTER the temperature rises not before. Still, it is considered to be a dreaded greenhouse gas. (Maybe because greenhouse growers pump the stuff inside to feed their plants?) And if there is a slight chance it will raise the temperature and prevent the next Ice Age, I'm all for it. Also, there's that whole rebel thing now that the EPA has designated it harmful to human existence. And at my age, lighting a fire's about as rebellious as I can get.


Not much else going on around here, I'm afraid. The birds and squirrels continue to hit the feeders hard with these low temperatures and thin snow cover. Terry's still got one more PA Christmas Party with one of the EGA groups (tomorrow, I think). The Christmas Bird Count is scheduled for Saturday and Terry and I will be going over to Ive's Run and Crooked Creek again this year. I haven't been over there since just before Thanksgiving so it will be interesting to see what birds might be on Hammond and Tioga Lakes as well as along the Railroad Grade Road that runs along Crooked Creek. It's supposed to be a bit warmer on Saturday, too, up near 30 degrees, so it should be a good day to do some bird watching/counting.

I finished the wooden quilt square today. That makes three I've completed. One's all I'm keeping though. The other two are going out as Christmas presents. Time to start cleaning up the shop and clearing space around the scrollsaw for the next project(s).

Well, that's about all for now. Time to throw another log on the fire, have a beer and then hit the hay. See ya tomorrow.


Maybe this could be filed under the heading of silver lining on a dark cloud:
Swine Flu Means Killer Winter Influenza May Not Come
Seasonal flu, which annually kills 30,000 Americans 65 and over, may not appear in the U.S. for the first time in more than 40 years, crowded out by the swine flu pandemic and mass vaccination campaigns.
When H1N1 struck in the Southern Hemisphere it completely blocked the seasonal flu. Their flu season ended in September with none of the usual seasonal flu numbers showing up at all.

Here in the US:
Seasonal strains are almost nonexistent in reports from countries where swine flu, or H1N1, has taken hold. In the U.S. and Europe, 99 percent of influenza cases tested last week were H1N1
Which brings the hope that the seasonal flu season, which runs from December through February will be a very quiet one.

But there is this caveat:
Swine flu infection rates decreased in each of the last six weeks, the Atlanta-based CDC reported. That has spurred a debate among health officials on whether the H1N1 pandemic is grinding to a halt, and whether that strain will be replaced by a surge of seasonal cases as the Northern Hemisphere enters winter.

H1N1 infected 50 million people in the U.S. and killed an estimated 10,000 through Nov. 14 from the start of the pandemic in April, the CDC reported last week. About 90 percent of swine flu deaths were among people younger than 65.

With seasonal flu, the effects are reversed, with more than 90 percent of annual deaths among those ages 65 or older, according to the CDC.
So, if you are so inclined and/or have daily contact with lots of people, it might still be a good idea to go get your flu shots if you haven't done so already.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Aerie Report, December 16, 2009

I woke up this morning at 3 AM suffering some sinus congestion that was making breathing difficult. I tossed and turned for half an hour before Shadow heard me and started howling. Fifteen minutes later I was up and getting dressed. Being vertical as opposed to horizontal helped clear my breathing passages and a fresh cup (or two) of coffee helped clear the fog in my brain.

I'll probably pay for that early rising tomorrow but it hasn't hit me yet.


The thermometer registered just 19 degrees this morning at 7 AM beneath cloudy skies that produced 1 1/2 inches of snow overnight. We got a few "decorative" snow showers during the morning butt then the sun came out and warmed us up to 24 degrees at 2 PM. The sun is gone now, however, and we are back to 17 degrees at 8:30 PM and heading to an overnight low in the single digits. Oh, and the wind has been blowing all day out of the northwest. Thanks a lot Canada!

Five days before winter officially arrives and it usually doesn't get real cold until several weeks after that. Oh joy!


I stepped out on the deck this afternoon just in time to see a sharp-shinned hawk make a pass at the small birds around the feeder. It missed and settled on a branch across the yard to gather its thoughts before it made another try. It missed again and went up the hill following the powerline right of way. The breast was barely streaked making me think this might have been a young bird. If it had been successful, I'm sure it would have hung around for the winter. At least it would have had to work a little for its meals. Not like the freeloading squirrels and seed-eating birds.

The bird that gets me is the red-bellied woodpecker. Every single day Winnie (yeah, we named her) comes to the tray feeders and fends off the blue jays and morning doves as she wolfs down one sunflower seed after another. She never goes to the suet feeder like the hairy and downy woodpeckers, but settles for the protein and oil rich sunflower kernels.

One lucky dog!

It's a bird, it's a plane ... it's a dog?

Of all the incredulous tales that turn up in the Quad-Cities, none that I know of can match this … A dog falling from the night skies.
Sadie, a petite-sized Pomeranian, landed next to a Davenport street last weekend after surviving a flight of about two miles, clutched in the talons of a great horned owl.

As the owl flies, Sadie’s flight covered between 24 to 30 city blocks. She was scruffed up, but suffered nothing worse than bruises and a broken tail.
“I had stopped for the sign at East 29th and College when this dog came flying out of the sky right in front of my Jeep — right out of the sky,” says Jamie Padden, Davenport. “It dropped out of nowhere.”

The owl followed, ready to snatch back its lost snack.

Padden was horror-struck to see the little dog scrambling to get away.

“I opened my car door and ran screaming at that owl,” she says. “It was after the dog.

“That owl was so big I swear that its wings spread halfway across the street. That sounds overdramatic, but it’s true.”

Sadie has been returned to her home and is recovering from her near lunch experience.

Great Horned Owls are HUGE! Two feet tall from the perch to top of the head, they regularly snatch up rabbits and skunks in the wild. A cat or small dog in suburbia would pose no problem.

Ah Copenhagen
Nothing much happening here. Move along.

Climate talks deadlocked as clashes erupt outside

The 10-day-old climate talks ran into disputes and paralysis as they entered a critical stage Wednesday, just two days before President Barack Obama and more than 100 other national leaders hope to sign a historic agreement to fight global warming.

Poorer nations stalled the talks in resistance to what they saw as efforts by the rich to impose decisions falling short of strong commitments to reduce greenhouse gases and to help those countries hurt by climate change. Conference observers said, however, that negotiators still had time to reach agreements.
It's all about the money. The poorer nations want to milk the "richer" nations for all they can get. They won't necessarily use it to do anything "green" but they will make sure the ruling classes in each of their countries get a good chunk of change from each concession made by the more wealthy countries.

The eco-mob in the streets doing all the protesting and enjoying the occasional whiff of tear gas mixed with freezing temperatures and snow will get nothing but frostbite and memories.

Frankly, if I were in charge of crowd control, I would have pulled out a few fire trucks with large capacity tanks. I wouldn't need to use the high pressure hoses, just a gentle spray. Getting wet at 32 degrees F can do a lot to discourage a mob.


Then there's this harbinger of failure at home and abroad:

Sen. Kerry wavers on backing for cap-and-trade bill in Copenhagen

“I can’t tell you the method or the means, amount, by which we might price carbon. I can’t tell you that. We have not resolved that issue yet,” Kerry said at a press conference after his speech at the international climate summit.

He expressed confidence that the Senate will follow the House in approving a major climate and energy bill, but linked the Senate’s success to international negotiators reaching a deal this week in Copenhagen.

“Success in Copenhagen is really critical to success next year in the United States Senate, in the Congress,” he said.
(emphasis added)

Perhaps the Flip-Flop Champeen of the World is starting to see the writing on the wall. Going into this conference, it was the actions of the EPA that would produce action at Copenhagen. Suddenly, the rolls have been reversed. Action in Copenhagen will create a climate (no pun intended) wherein the Congress will act. From the above, it doesn't sound like that Cozy Copenhagen Cooperation will be forthcoming.

They came thisclose to pulling it off, and would have done so if not for the dilligent work of a few and the luck of having all those CRU files leaked.

Strange bedfellows

Maybe Obama's campaign promise to bring us all together is starting to bear fruit.

Union pulls back on supporting bill

The SEIU executive board will hold what Lodes described as an "emergency" meeting Wednesday night to decide how to move forward. "Right now, they don't have the information they need to make this decision," said Lodes, who added that the SEIU informed the other organizations on Tuesday they would not be joining the press conference.

The board meeting likely will not produce a final determination by the union about whether to support advancing the Senate healthcare bill, which not only lacks a public option and the Medicare buy-in but also would levy an excise tax on so-called Cadillac health insurance plans that some union members have, Lodes said.
(Emphasis added.)

Howard Dean: Health Care Bill 'Bigger Bailout for the Insurance Industry Than AIG'

Dean sent shockwaves when he said Tuesday in an interview with Vermont Public Radio that the removal of the Medicare buy-in means Democrats should just kill the health care bill and start over.

"This is essentially the collapse of health care reform in the United States Senate," Dean said.
(Emphasis added. Say! Wasn't "Kill the bill!" one of the frequent chants at the tea parties? Maybe Dean was listening.)

NBC poll: Public sours on health reform

As the Senate sprints to pass a health-care bill by Christmas, the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that those believing President Obama's health-reform plan is a good idea has sunk to its lowest level.

Just 32 percent say it's a good idea, versus 47 percent who say it's a bad idea.

In addition, for the first time in the survey, a plurality prefers the status quo to reform. By a 44-41 percent margin, respondents say it would be better to keep the current system than to pass Obama's health plan.

Okay, some are stranger than others. (See Howard Dean for a definition of strange.) Still, this is one weird coalition that's forming against unread, unknown Obamacare.

UPDATE: Olbermann joins call to kill bill Olbermann? Dude this health care bill is toast! Strange bedfellows, indeed.

Cause and Effect?

NBC: Senate rejects low-cost drug imports
Plan would have allowed Americans to buy prescriptions from abroad

The vote on the amendment by Sen. Byron Dorgan , D-N.D., was 51-48 in favor, but 60 votes were needed to prevail under a special rule. Obama had supported the measure as a senator, but his administration echoed safety concerns raised by the pharmaceutical industry — which is supporting the Democrats' health care bill.

Both the pharmaceutical industry and the Obama administration were lobbying against the proposal, saying it would not protect people from potentially dangerous or ineffective drugs. Dorgan's plan would have cost drug makers billions of dollars and had bipartisan support.

No breakdown of the vote is offered in the story. You would think that would be an important part of the story.

Drugmakers will pay more for health bill
Senators: Billions from pharmaceutical industry to close drug coverage gap

Democratic senators said Wednesday they've been told the pharmaceutical industry will contribute billions of dollars more than it has previously promised for President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, with the money being used to close a gap in Medicare drug coverage.
Curious. No?

Poor Al...

...he sees it all slipping away. The power. The fame. The glory. The money.But mostly the money.

The snow must have prevented some of the delegates from taking global warming seriously.

Gore calls for July summit to finish climate treaty Mexico City where even the Goracle might have a tough time making it cold and snowy in July.
"I do not believe that we can wait until next November or next December," said Gore,
Yeah, he's got to do something before even more folks understand the workings of the IPCC and the mere 60 insider scientists driving the entire "crisis" with faulty computer models and select data. Otherwise, all that $$$ he's invested in carbon credits won't be worth the paper it is printed on.
"I will ask my fellow US citizens who share my sense of urgency to join me in asking President Obama and the leadership of the US Senate to set a deadline of April 22, 2010 -- the 40th anniversary of Earth Day -- for final action on the US legislation," Gore said.

Good luck with that, Al. The final action most every American is seeking is a swift and final burial of Cap & Tax. And maybe a bit of evisceration of the EPA's declaration of CO2 among the gases "harmful to mankind."

Of course, Al couldn't let a speech go by without calling his opponents names:
Gore said that only "reckless fools" reject the science behind global warming.

The problem is that there is warming and there is Anthropogenic Global Warming. There are many who will agree that the former is happening to some degree but who will say that there is little or no proof that AGW is happening and to assume we humans can stop the warming is over reach at best and pure hubris at worst.

Hey! What could go wrong?

Speaking of government health care....

Kids' Swine flu shots recalled; not strong enough

Good idea!

[Allow me to rephrase]: Actually, I think this is a good idea: Obama administration aims for high school financial literacy. [Every member of the administration should be conversant in economics.] I see it as a major improvement over the way this administration has tackled the economic problems we curren...


Oh! They mean for high school students to get an understanding of economics!

I guess that would be a good idea too since then the graduates could avoid the long, steep learning curve necessary to turn most 18 year old liberals into conservatives. Of course, that could mean the end of the Democrat's hold on the youth vote.

Wouldn't hurt if more teachers learned a thing or two about Economics 101 either.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Slicing Pizza Perfectly

Since I had the craving today for pizza and went to Papa V's in Mansfield for a pie, I was immediately drawn to this post on Boing Boing about two mathematicians who have bee working on a problem of "The perfect way to slice a pizza." Apparently, this is a serious mathematical problem, one that's been worked on for half a century or more.

It's a fascinating look at the problem. Still, I'd probably eat the whole thing before they got done drawing their diagrams.

(h/t to Instapundit)

Aerie Report, December 15, 2009

I spent the better part of this morning running virus software on my laptop trying to discover why it kept locking up on me. Locking up to the point where even pressing Ctrl-Alt-Del would not bring up the Windows Task Manager window so I could shut down my AOL browser and/or my Firefox browser. Finally had to go out the hard way and shut the computer off and restart in Safe Mode to run the scans. Nothing but tracking cookies showed up. Ditched them and rebooted in normal and the damn thing has been running fine ever since. Go figure.


While the virus scanners did their thing, I went to the workshop and put the final touches on the wooden quilt square. There are still some gaps I'm not happy with but this one went together pretty well compared to the one that provided four four-inch square coasters instead of a 20-inch square quilt. It all comes down to making precision cuts on a contractor's table saw. Ones that are within 1/32 of an inch of the desired width. And that, my friends, is damn near impossible with the rip fence I've got now. Maybe with the table saw I've got now. I can afford a new fence, but the saw is another story.


Another cloudy, dreary day at the Aerie. The high temperature of 42 degrees happened just after midnight while the winds were still out of the south. They switched to the west-northwest around daybreak and the temperature began slowly sinking soon afterward. We above 2000 feet are the only ones that still have snow on the ground from last week's storm. The valley yards and fields are all bare again.

Looking at the long range forecast on AccuHunch wasn't to encouraging either. yesterday the fifteen day forecast had many days with a mostly sunny/partly cloudy icon, today they were replaced with mostly cloudy with snow showers or just plain snow.

There's a saying about if you wish to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans. Terry plans to go into New Jersey on this weekend to stay at her Mom's for a while. Mom is going to California for Christmas and Terry figured to stay with our daughter, Jessica, for the duration. She also has plans to party with her old stitching mates and even go into the city for a party with her old office mates. I would travel to NJ on Christmas Eve day for a party at my sister's house and return to PA on Christmas Day. Well, those mostly sunny/partly cloudy days that disappeared? Those were from the 19th to the 26th of December. Well, there's a good probability the folks at AccuHunch will revise their forecast--again. Last year I didn't make it to NJ because of an ice storm through the mountains of PA I'd hate to miss out again.

Oh, crap! There are little pellets of frozen stuff hitting our northwest facing windows and piling up on he deck.


Actually, I shouldn't be so down about the weather. I see they're forecast to get 5-6 inches of snow in Copenhagen in the next few days and then it will get even colder. The Good Lord does like to show who is boss sometimes. And He's got one heck of a sense of humor, too.


I've been troubled lately with some spam comments. Two types in particular have been showing up. One is in all Chinese characters with the exception of a word or two (notably "sex") and the other is about some investment opportunity. These have been showing up in posts four years old as well as some recent posts. I've gone back and deleted them (permanently) each time they show up. I don't want to do it, but if they become more troublesome, I may have to turn on word verification to prevent these bots from taking too much time.

Have any of you experienced a similar problem? Is there anyway to block them without using word verification?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Aerie Report, December 14, 2009

Gray, dreary day at the Aerie today. It wasn't supposed to be like that but it happened. The temperatures hovered between 30 and 36 degrees while the cloud cover allowed no peek at the sun. And tonight we are supposed to be getting some light rain/snow showers. I'm going to start taking screen shots of the forecasts every day. Each forecast seems to have a shelf life shorter than a fresh mushroom on the counter top. Twelve hours and they get mushy. Twenty-four and they're a pile of useless goo. last week there was little precipitation on the drawing board, now every day has some form of precip. Yeah, it's only 30 or 40% chance but still, it can get depressing as we approach the Winter Solstice, aka the shortest day of the year.

Accu-hunch has already started to hype a possible storm moving up the coast later this week. Like hurricane's they've put up three possible tracks starting off the Florida Gulf Coast. One goes out to sea and produces little or no effect on shore. One is closer and will produce some rain along the coast. The third moves north very close to the shore and will spread snow all along the Appalachians.


I noticed that Al Gore is in Copenhagen. I also notice that there's a forecast for about 6 inches of snow within the next day or two. And the temperature will be at or below 32 degrees F through the weekend.

Algore also is reported to have said that the Arctic Ice Cap will disappear with in the next five to seven years. Well, that gives us an idea as to why Gore flunked out of divinity school. You do not set a firm date for the apocalypse or the coming of the messiah when you want to keep your followers. For when that date comes and goes without your prophecy coming true, you're in deep doo-do.

UPDATE: The scientist Gore quoted as his source says he has no idea what Gore is talking about as he, the scientist, never made such a prediction. Don Surber as amended his post to include that quote. It's good for a laugh.


The feeders in the yard are really attracting a crowd. In addition to lots of mourning doves, chickadees, juncoes, goldfinches, blue jays, white-breasted nuthatches, hairy and downy woodpeckers, and red-bellied woodpeckers, we had a small flock of turkeys come by yesterday and the day before we had three red-winged blackbirds. Gray squirrels are also increasing in number now that there's snow on the ground. There were nine of them out there this morning. Everybody wants a free lunch.


I got all the small pieces of the wooden quilt square glued down this afternoon. Now it's a matter of attaching the backer board and frame pieces. That should take me about an hour. Then I can clean up as much of the saw dust as possible before starting the next project, perhaps something using the scroll saw.


That's about all I've got today. The BS going on vis-a-vis global warming, health care, stimulus, job's created and saved, etc, is just too upsetting to deal with right now.

Giants vs Eagles

So. I'm watching the Giants-Eagles game last night--you know, the one where they scored a gazillion points each?--and I'm amazed at the way each team's offense can move the ball so freely up ad down the field. Heck, back in the days before the shot clock, Princeton U. would score fewer points than either of these teams--and win! The final last night was 45-38. That's the most total points scored in a game featuring these two teams ever--and they've played 105 times.

Actually, the Giants should have won this game. They had a 512-374 advantage in offensive yards. Except for giving up a 60-yard fumble return for a TD (Brandon Jacobs got stripped of the ball, Sheldon Brown carried it the distance) and a 72-yard punt return for a TD (DeSean Jackson) and a 60-yard pass play for a TD (DeSean Jackson--again), the Giants did real well. Elli Manning threw a TD pass of 68 yards to Hakeem Nicks and another of 61 yards to Domenik Hixon. Even with those three plays, the Giants still could have won the game if there had been just one guy--ONE!-- polite enough to pick up the damn ball and hand it to an official during that freak play in the second quarter.

What? You didn't see it? Heck, NBC replayed it several times. The Eagles had the ball on their own 42 yard line. McNabb dropped back to pass but the Giants rushed him hard with someone on the right side coming in from behind him and knocking the ball lose as McNabb raised his arm to throw. The ball trickled to a stop on the turf near the line of scrimmage--and sat there--all alone. Two or three Giant defenders wandered slowly past the forlorn pigskin on their way back to the line for the next play without bending over to pick it up. Finally, the Umpire had to blow his whistle to end the play. Philly got to keep the ball back where McNabb had been stripped of it--the 32 yard line and the Giant defender got credit for a sack. But if just one of those defenders had bent over to pick up the damn ball, it would have been the Giants' ball around the 42 of Philly. Of course Philly went on to score a TD on that drive. What else?

Be polite for Christ's sake! Even when you're playing football. It could win you the freakin' game!

And Eli? Next time slide feet first so when the ball gets away it won't be a fumble. Okay? (Happened in the second half.)

Oh, and play until your hear the freakin' whistle jerks!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Aerie Report, December 12, 2009

Jeeze! What a difference a day makes. The sun came out today and the winds died to next to nothing. And the temperature soared. It was 19 degrees at sunrise and went up to 37 degrees around 3 PM.

The 19 was considerably higher than the forecast and the lack of wind was a surprise, too. I had already decided that, based upon the last two days and the forecast, I was going to sleep in and go down to the church for breakfast with Terry. (Mansfield is celebrating a Home for the Holidays event today.) Yeah, I could have gone out hunting this afternoon, but, well, the freezer is pretty full as it is. Instead, I finally got the Adirondack chairs off the deck, and then filled the firewood rack in the garage. (Burned wood all day yesterday as the temps never got above 17 degrees. That's why the reading of 19 at 7 AM this morning was such a surprise.)

Tomorrow's forecast is a puzzle. It will get down to around 20 degrees tonight. Then they say we'll start off with some freezing rain in the morning which will change to regular rain with a high of 38 degrees by the afternoon.


I spent some time in the workshop cutting the last few pieces of the quilt square. Then I sanded and fit all the pieces together. next will be to glue everything down to the backboard. Won't take more than a couple of hours to get everything done.


Army just can't seem to get Navy's goat. Thanks to a couple of penalties on long passes, the Cadets did manage to take a 3-0 lead into the locker at halftime, but after the was all Navy with a 17-3 final. As a result, Army's season is over with a 5-7 record and UCLA (6-6) goes bowling against Temple in the EagleBank Bowl in Washington, D.C. on December 29th.

Meanwhile, the Appalachian State-Montana semifinal in the FCS is turning into a heck of a game. The winner plays Villanova on Friday night in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It was being played in the cold (15 degrees) and the snow. Montana scored a TD with 1:39 left to go ahead 24-17 but App. State marched down the field. They converted on a 4th-and-10 from the Montana 25 with 18 seconds to go. Then got a first and goal at the 4 with 6 seconds--and no timeouts. Two incomplete passes later and the Grizzlies of Montana were headed south to play one more game. Hell of a finish!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Where in the world is Al Gore?

Make that "Where in the space-time continuum is Al Gore?" I mean the man does seem to have trouble with time. The latest Climategate email is ten years old? First time I knew one month could equal 10 years.

Anyway....Just 8 degrees at 6:30 AM at the Aerie. Thankfully the winds have died down considerably so the wind chill is "only" -3 or -4 degrees.

Back later as I've a fire to build and a hot breakfast to eat before I can function.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cold as a well digger's....

Y'all can finish the title to your personal preference depending 'pon how deep the water in the well is.

The high today at the Aerie was 31 degrees. Granted that was just minutes after midnight and it has been falling ever since then. Okay, it did go up a degree during the one hour the sun managed to peek through the clouds this afternoon. It went from 21 up to 22 degrees at that time. At sundown (4:30 PM), however, it slipped slightly below 20 degrees and at 6 PM it was down to just 17.1 degrees. And now, at 8:30 PM it's dropped to 13 degrees. Mmmm, 13, unlucky.

Add the strong winds out of the northwest (the reason for the freakin' cold air being here in the first place) that are keeping the chimes hammering out a lively tune, and the windchill is probably approaching 0 degrees. We got "decorative" snow showers throughout the day, too, as the moisture of the Great Lakes got swept south and east by the howling winds.

Now, I know some of you in Alaska, Frostbite Falls, or the Yukon Territory might be thinking that it's spring like at 17 degrees (or even 0 degrees). Well, good for you. I'm a bit ursine in nature and want to hibernate about now. Wake me up when the Ides of March arrive.

It's going to get colder over the next few days if the weather quacks are correct. The wind will die back--a bit--but the lows will sink down to close to 10 degrees tonight and 15 degrees Friday night before they get back to the 20s. Only a 30% chance of snow showers in the 10-day forecast so that's a blessing unless you're a skier. (Although the 30% chance occurs on 7 of the 10 days, so, do ya feel lucky, punk?)


I frittered away the day doing nothing but keeping warm and a little reading. I didn't see any new madness on the internet that I wanted to comment/rant about today despite visiting many a blog/news site, so I've not posted a thing except the story about coywolves in New England.

Maybe tomorrow there will be some new apocalyptic happening or political buffoonery that warrants comment.

Maybe tomorrow I'll reenter the workshop and get the next wooden quilted square put together.

Maybe tomorrow my pulse rate will soar up to, oh, 55 beats per minute and I'll have energy to spare.

I'll hitch up the dogs to-morrow,
And mush down the trail to Bill.
It's so long dark, and I'm lonesome -
I'll just lay down on the bed;
To-morrow I'll go. . .to-morrow. .

Ha! Good thing I've only got three cats in the house.

A little poetry on a cold, cold day.

Oh, not any of mine. I've not the skill to twine words together in rhythm and rhyme. No, this comes from the pen of Robert W. Service. It's the story of a man considered by his "betters" a failure. Yet which is in touch with his soul more? Which understands the world more? Which has lead an more enjoyable life?

The Rhyme of the Remittance Man

There's a four-pronged buck a-swinging in the shadow of my cabin,
And it roamed the velvet valley till to-day;
But I tracked it by the river, and I trailed it in the cover,
And I killed it on the mountain miles away.
Now I've had my lazy supper, and the level sun is gleaming
On the water where the silver salmon play;
And I light my little corn-cob, and I linger, softly dreaming,
In the twilight, of a land that's far away.

Far away, so faint and far, is flaming London, fevered Paris,
That I fancy I have gained another star;
Far away the din and hurry, far away the sin and worry,
Far away -- God knows they cannot be too far.
Gilded galley-slaves of Mammon -- how my purse-proud brothers taunt me!
I might have been as well-to-do as they
Had I clutched like them my chances, learned their wisdom, crushed my fancies,
Starved my soul and gone to business every day.

Well, the cherry bends with blossom and the vivid grass is springing,
And the star-like lily nestles in the green;
And the frogs their joys are singing, and my heart in tune is ringing,
And it doesn't matter what I might have been.
While above the scented pine-gloom, piling heights of golden glory,
The sun-god paints his canvas in the west,
I can couch me deep in clover, I can listen to the story
Of the lazy, lapping water -- it is best.

While the trout leaps in the river, and the blue grouse thrills the cover,
And the frozen snow betrays the panther's track,
And the robin greets the dayspring with the rapture of a lover,
I am happy, and I'll nevermore go back.
For I know I'd just be longing for the little old log cabin,
With the morning-glory clinging to the door,
Till I loathed the city places, cursed the care on all the faces,
Turned my back on lazar London evermore.

So send me far from Lombard Street, and write me down a failure;
Put a little in my purse and leave me free.
Say: "He turned from Fortune's offering to follow up a pale lure,
He is one of us no longer -- let him be."
I am one of you no longer; by the trails my feet have broken,
The dizzy peaks I've scaled, the camp-fire's glow;
By the lonely seas I've sailed in -- yea, the final word is spoken,
I am signed and sealed to nature. Be it so.

All the remittance man asks is to be left alone to enjoy his meager fare and the peace of nature's bounty.

Could it be a wolf howling at your door?

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

And Coywolves, too.

At least that what this study out of Albany, NY says. This could go along way to explaining the size of the "coyotes" around the Bolt Hole in the southwest Adirondacks. Some resemble wolves as noted by folks who know what a wolf looks like.
[Dr. Roland] Kays and his col­leagues [of the New York State Mu­seum] suggest that hybridi­zation with wolves allowed coyotes to rapidly evolve into an animal well adapted to colonizing the East. Being larger and better able to prey on deer than coyotes that took the southerly, wolf-free route, they ex­panded their range up to five times faster, which explains why coyotes did not show up in the Southeast until long after they were en­trenched in the Northeast.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Aerie Report, December 9, 2009

I spent the better part of the morning removing 6 to 8 inches of heavy, wet snow off the deck and driveway of the Aerie. It was strictly shovel work on the deck and I have to report that the use of Pam spray on the plastic snow shovel blade made all the difference. Without it, the snow stuck to the blade like crazy but as soon as I applied a coat of Pam to the blade the snow slid off easily. I even sprayed Pam on the plastic shoot of the snow thrower to help keep the wet stuff from sticking there and it worked equally as well.

I wish I could say the same about the thrower. The poor 5.5 hp Tecumseh engine did it's best but just couldn't toss the wet snow far enough to clear the center of the driveway/parking area without depositing it on another section that then had to be cleared. And that section became pretty darn dense when it got dumped on. I finally had to resort to using the shovel to get that stuff off to the side.

I wanted to get the as much of the snow off as soon as possible because we were supposed to be getting up to near 40 degrees this afternoon (we got to 38) and some sunshine was promised (we got about an hour total split over the entire afternoon). The warm temps and sunshine would, I felt, go a long way toward getting us back to bare gravel and clay. And, combined with one very heavy rain shower about 3 PM, they did just that.

Another thing about a gravel driveway; heavy, wet snow; and a snow thrower: when the ground isn't really frozen, the wheels on the thrower tend to churn things up. Add the fact that this was the first time the thrower was used this year, there were a lot of loose stones on the surface that got picked up and tossed by the thrower. Most were small and moved through without a hitch, but at the very end of the job, two pretty large stones got picked up and wedged in the thrower's blades snapping the shear pins. As I said, however, it was at the very end of the job so I just put the thrower away and got Terry and the shovels to complete the cleanup.

Once done, I went to remove the stuck stones and replace the shear pins only to find I had broken two and had only one replacement. Time for a ride. Off to Sears to pick up a couple 4-packs of shear pins. (The only got 4-5 inches of the white stuff down below before it switched to rain/sleet. And it was 44 degrees along Route 6 as I headed toward Wellsboro as opposed to 36-37 at the Aerie.) Back home, I had to hammer one of the wedged rocks free before I could replace the shear pins but I got the job done. The valiant machine now awaits the next storm.

Meanwhile, the weather station has issued a wind advisory for our area until tomorrow morning. We could get gusts of 40 mph, they say. These will be from the north-northwest and will bring seriously cold air our way. The low tonight will be in the 20s but Thursday, Friday and Saturday night it could get to the low teens with continued strong winds.

The winds have already shifted. This morning they were coming out of the south-southwest. As I type, they are coming out of the west. When they switch to the northwest, we're gonna get chilly.

I've not looked at today's news much. Might have more to say later, but that's all for now.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Target rich environment...

That's what we are faced with right now. Choosing just one or even two things going on in our world economically, politically, socially, or scientifically is damn near impossible. There are just too many to choose from.

You've got Obama's jobs summit attended by unions and not chamber of commerce members and now with a NEW! and IMPROVED! Jobs Program (no thanks to the GOP who created this mess, he says). And, as an added bonus, despite having rung up a gazillion dollars in debt in less than a year, President Obama wants us to spend our way out of the current recession.

There's Harry Reid over there saying stupid things--but that's not news.

The best and the brightest are protecting us at the TSA. They're just not doing so well at protecting their manuals. You know, the ones on screening procedures at airports.

And Rep. Charlie Rangel (who occasionally forgets to pay his tax bills, what property he owns--and what islands it's on--and how many rent controlled apartments he has) is meeting with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner (who also forgets to pay his taxes on occasion) to reform our tax code. You can't make this stuff up.

We've got international leaders (?) meeting in Copenhagen to hammer out a deal on Anthropogenic Global Warming while a hell of a blizzard rips through the heartland of the USA. One U.N. representative says the period from 2000 to 2009 may well be the "warmest decade on record."

Dr. James Hansen trying to pump up the hype on AGW ("We're all gonna DIE!") Oh, and he wants to promote his book while he's at it. The man really should be fired from NASA.

The EPA saying CO2 (necessary for plants and a natural by product of all living things on earth) at 0.03 % of the atmosphere is such a dire, foul substance that it must be regulated as a hazard to human life.

I refuse to bring up Tiger Woods' peccadilloes. Or the cancellation of "As The World Turns" after 76 years on the tube.

Or this out of North Carolina: NC woman accused of selling moonshine at day care. I bet the little nippers took long naps.

Or this story out of Germany: Coffee tax collection costs dwarf revenue (At first glance I thought it was a story about demitasse, it is not. It's about spending more to collect taxes than, well, the taxes amount to. Stupidity knows no bounds.)

So I'll stick to the weather.

Speaking of which: Must have been cold in Boise, Idaho: Boise firefighters rescue boy whose tongue was stuck to metal pole. ya know, you can show kids that this happens--and that it hurts--over and over again but there's always going to be some fool to come along with a triple-dog-dare-ya and WHAM! next thing you know it's time for a little warm water and gentle pulling.

Here at the Aerie, we are looking at 2-4 inches of snow turning to freezing rain with a 1/10 of an inch of ice accumulation before it switches to all rain tomorrow. (I hope they're right about that! Could be a first this week...but it is only Tuesday/Wednesday.)