Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Goracle Returns

Hey! Good news! Al Gore surfaced. (Well, he didn't actually surface. And if he had it would have been more like he "breached", if you catch my drift.) He didn't even make an appearance. No, he put his thoughts on the printed page and mailed it in.

His op-ed in the NYT on Saturday: We Can’t Wish Away Climate Change; is the usual rant about how we can't put off doing something to avert world wide apocalypse. If we don't act now to relinquish control of our world economies to a central power structure (ruled, or at least owned, my me and my friends) then we're all gonna die!!! If you really, truly believe, then send a SASE and $20 to the address below and I will send you a personally signed certificate of you're carbon neutrality. (Okay I made that last sentence up.)

As his house of cards is crumbling around him, Al is getting desperate. he admits there were two (2) mistakes in the IPCC report. (No mention of the other 18 in the report or of those in his books and documentary), so perhaps there is some hope for Albert. They do say the first step is to recognize your mistakes. Ah, who am I kidding, after the 2000 election, Al has gone off the deep end. He is Dr. Evil, the Mad Plotter, and Wile E. Coyote, Super Genius all wrapped up in one. He thought he had a means to real power and wealth but he orders his science from Acme and it's now become dross.

True Believers are looking at the poor science behind the IPCC report and are starting to realize that they've been, well, gored. He's been asked to answer questions in Congress. He won't go without a subpoena. He knows the meaning of the word perjury and would have to tell the truth as he doesn't have the high political position that saved his previous boss from jail time.

It's time for this snake oil salesman, con artist, plotter to fold up his tent and fade into the Tennessee hills--if they'll have him.

UPDATE: Interesting post on Powerline by John Hinderaker: Global Warming Fraud: The Big Picture

Aerie Report, February 28, 2010

I spent time today reshoveling the driveway. Actually, because I cut my time short yesterday (it started to snow as I was two-plus hours into shoveling), and because there was an additional 1-2 inches of snow overnight, I was able to use the thrower on a sizable portion of the parking area in front of the garage. Therefore I only had to shovel the straight away to the road (about 30 yards) and the area immediately in front of the garage (about 10’ x 40’) that I had shoveled yesterday afternoon. This took me all of two-and-a-half hours. Not much time savings from using the blower on all of it which I could have done if I had not done any shoveling yesterday. *sigh*

Anyway, about forty-five minutes before I finished, it started sleeting/snowing. The temperatures were right at the freezing mark. Luckily it didn't amount to much and the radar screen's pretty clear...except for the Armenia Mountain Blob. (Really should find someone who can answer the question: Do windmills create radar signals; aka The Blob?)


Today is February 28, last day of the month. It was 26 days (nearly four weeks) ago that Paunxsatauney Phil made his prediction of six more weeks of winter upon seeing his shadow. Since then, it feels like it has snowed every single day. Every. Single. Day. If Phil had been hauled out of his comfy little burrow in the annex to the Punxsatawney public library on any day since February 2nd, he would have been hard pressed to see his shadow.

See, that’s a mistake on the part of those who run the show out there in Punxsatawney. They let the little bas… I mean critter, go back to sleep. If he forecast an early spring or a longer winter what does he care? He’s going back to that little cushiony, well appointed little Hobbit Hole of his where the school children can peek in through the glass window. Make the little … guy stay up and experience the results of his predictions! You say there’s going to be six more weeks of winter? Enjoy it pal! No fresh grass fro you to gorge on until all the snow disappears. That'll teach him!


Today is also the final day of the 2010 Winter Olympics. Sadly the host Canadians defeated the Americans in the final event of the games. The Canucks took the Gold in ice hockey with an overtime 3-2 victory.

I wonder what NBC will do now. MSNBC’s ratings improved when they were running Olympic programming. I’m sure NBC’s did too. (I didn’t watch more than an hour of it, however. Even that was when I was channel surfing and happened to land on a particular event that was of interest.) What shows does NBC have on in prime time? Do you care?


Speaking of Olympic coverage…. One of the reasons I didn’t watch much is that I could never tell when any particular event was going to be aired. I didn’t want to watch figure skating so as to watch bobsledding or downhill skiing. NBC seemed determined to make these games unwatchable. And, since that was the case (or at least my perception) they deserve to lose an estimated $250 Million on them.

As for the Olympic committee’s choice of Vancouver where the average daily temperature mid to late February is in the 40s, maybe next time they will award the games to Bali. I hear the UN thinks it’s a grand place.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


AccuHunch has some sobering words for all in the New England states hard hit by the current loopy storm: The Fat Lady Hasn't Sung Yet:

Exhibit Number One:

Exhibit Number Two:

Of course, they include all the weasel words: "It's too early to tell," "a shift one way or the other," etc. Still, it doesn't look pretty.

Maybe they should have had the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid this year. Or perhaps run the Iditirod from Baltimore to Bangor. (Okay, they'd have to make the race a there-and-back-again event to cover around the same distance, but still....)

I asked my neighbor and the post mistress if they knew the phone number to call to make it stop. Neither had a clue but wished they had it on speed dial.


If you don't have to 1) drive in it or 2) shovel it.

This, by the way, is in the flower box sitting on the deck rail under the covered porch.

The Pacific Rim is Rockin' and Rollin'

Something's happening here. What exactly isn't clear.

5.8-magnitude quake hits S. Mindanao areas
DAVAO CITY, Philippines—A 5.8-magnitude earthquake jolted several areas of Southern Mindanao around 4:37 p.m. Friday but no damages were immediately reported and no tsunami alert issued.

The United States Geological Survey said the quake's epicenter was traced 150 kilometers east southeast of this city and had a depth of 111 km.

Magnitude 6.9 earthquake rocks Okinawa islands in southern Japan
TOKYO, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- An earthquake measuring 6.9 magnitude on the Richter scale on Saturday rocked Okinawa Prefecture and its vicinity in southern Japan, said the Japan Meteorological Agency.

The focus of the quake, which occurred at 5:31 a.m. local time (2031 GMT Friday), was located some 10 km under the sea 50 km east off Naha, capital of Okinawa, said the agency.

Chile earthquake kills 78 and triggers tsunami
A massive earthquake has hit the coast of Chile, killing dozens of people, flattening buildings and triggering a tsunami.

The 8.8-magnitude quake, the country’s largest in 25 years, shook the capital Santiago for a minute and half at 3:34am (6:34am GMT) today.

Seems to be a whole lot of shaking going on.

For the latest earthquake locations try the USGA site:
Latest Earthquakes in the World

Aerie AM Report, February 27, 2010

Put this way, it doesn't seem too bad:

Two feet of snow.

(Shamelessly "borrowed" from Theo's.)

Sometime during the night the switch got turned to the "On" position again. While we didn't get the maximum seven or so inches the radio man and AccuHunch were forecasting, it's not over yet.

When I went out this morning to shovel the deck and fill the stick and tray feeders, there were around three inches on the surface. If the same is true for the drive, it's not enough for the blower and too much to leave alone so I'll be out with the shovel later after I return from the post office. (Although, now that I look at the radar, maybe I'll just wait until tomorrow. The Snowicane, as AccuHunch refers to it, is still centered around Long Island Sound and, while weakening, continues its cyclonic pattern of winds all the way to the shores of Lake Erie and beyond. We are getting air from the north-northeast and they area still carrying snow showers. It looks as if the bulk of today's snow will fall in a crescent from Albany to Toronto to Buffalo, and eventually Cleveland and Pittsburgh. The Aerie, sits in the middle of that crescent and looks to be little affected. Then there's the Blob on Armenia Mountain to consider. It's a weather force of its own.


The squirrels were out this morning. They were not yesterday. The snow is so deep and powdery that when they make their way across it, it's more like they are making their way through it. Instead of clear tracks on the surface, there are continuous three to four inch deep furrows like those made when a child drags its feet in the snow. I watched one as it left the deck heading for safety when I went out and it almost swam instead of bounded through the snow.

The birds responded quickly to the fresh seed and shoveled off deck and tray feeder. In fact, I almost had to beat them away from me as I filled the stick feeders. They had held back when the squirrels were up on the deck but seemingly have less fear of me than the squirrel. In addition to filling the existing feeders, I scattered a handful of seeds on the deck and that has pleased the ground feeding Juncos and Mourning Doves who get shoved aside by the Blue Jays. I just hope they get all the seed before it gets buried beneath more snow.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Hope he's okay.

Hey! I just noticed my weather pixie is broke! You don't think he's buried in the snow, do you?

[It's normally is right over there on the sidebar on the right under the words Weather at Elmira/Corning Airport and above the moon thingy. All I'm getting when I click on that space is a message saying they can't find]

Crazy Storm

From AccuHunch we have this lovely map (the Aerie is about where the "S" in "Snow" is located):

Another interesting aspect of this storm is its track. Instead of heading northeastward like coastals usually do, this one will do a loop-the-loop over western Connecticut and southeastern New York. This is what will prolong the period of heavy snow in southern New York, eastern Pennsylvania and northwestern New Jersey. [emphasis added]

So this storm is doing a loop-de-loop around New York City. And, because it wishes to visit, we get to pay for it. I vote we cal this a Charlie Rangel storm.

Aerie Afternoon Report, February 26, 2010

Total accumulation as of 10 AM this morning was in the neighborhood of 8 to 10 inches. It's difficult to be precise because the strong winds overnight caused some snow to be drifted to a depth of 18 inches in spots and scoured other areas down to 5 or 6 inches. I guessedimated from the sections that seemed least disturbed.

I got the driveway/parking area cleaned out with little problem. It just took time. I started at 10:15 and was walking behind the snow thrower almost continuously until 12:30. Luckily the town plow came up the street when I began so I could clear that along with the regular stuff. It was not snowing when I started. I could see clearly across the valley and even noticed what looked like sunshine on the distant fields. That sunshine never got here. It remained overcast as I worked and, just as I put the thrower away and started clearing off and shoveling around the truck, it started to snow. Hard.

I finished what I had to do and then headed to the post office for two days worth of mail (mostly junk, of course). As I drove down and back, the weatherman on the local radio station says, "Two to four inches this afternoon and another one to three overnight." If he's correct, that means as much as seven inches additional. At least I'll get my money's worth out of the snow thrower! Although, I'm beginning to wish I had bought a model with more horsepower. The banks of snow on the side of the driveway are getting too tall for the 5.5 hp engine on the one I've got to toss snow over from very far away.

As for that "If he's correct..." line, AccuHunch seems to agree with that forecast while is giving a wimpy 1 inch total for the rest of today and tonight. Since we already have received 1/2 inch or more since I got back from getting the mail, I'll go with the local guy and AccuHunch...this time.

Currently snow like the dickens again. (Interesting saying, that. When Dickens was writing there was a bit of a mini ice age going on. Hence all the snow in A Christmas Carol, published in 1843 and many of his other works.)

Aerie AM Storm Report
February 26, 2010

8:00 AM Friday morning and it's still snowing. The wind howled much of the night causing considerable drifting. Any sign that I had walked out to the street yesterday morning is long gone; as are the tracks I made walking to the bird feeders and the burn barrel, and the tracks of the 4x4 the geologic surveyor made on Wednesday when he drove across the yard and into the woods--all gone, covered by freshly fallen and drifted snow.

The howling wind did clear much of the front deck. Wind hitting the front of the house swirled around and swept the snow off the deck, then, when the wind shifted direction, it blew through the small canyon and widened the exposed area. The middle third of the deck is no completely free from snow for its entire 36 foot length.

Snow is coming down so heavily at the moment that I feel isolated from civilization. It's like walking the road into Shangrila--the fog in the passes obscures everything until you enter the valley. Right now I can not see the valley below. I can barely see the hillside that forms the west end of the property some 200 yards away.

The forecast is for another few inches of snow today and possibly more tonight. I'll get the snow thrower out later and try to figure out which direction I can blow the damn stuff without mother Nature tossing it right back at me. That's not as easy as it sounds since the winds tend to swirl around the house and garage, the wide expanse of the driveway/parking area means I must sometimes "spit into the wind," and the driveway itself runs east west so the snow must go either north or south. The former is often the direction the wind is blowing from but is downhill while the latter is up hill and any melted snow will eventually end up in the driveway. Not wanting a flooded driveway, I try to blow most of the snow downhill and that often gets me dusted when the wind blows back.

Did I mention it's just 20 degrees? And very windy? So the wind chill's probably around 10-12 degrees. I am NOT looking forward to the Battle of the Driveway.

Could be worse.

Terry says that they got close to two feet at her Mother's house in Linden, NJ. She shoveled the walk to the house yesterday and when she went out for the morning paper (Yeah, it was delivered!) Terry says the snow was up to her knees. Mom has a hired hand that will come today to do some of the shoveling and Terry's cousin (my buddy) Joe will bring his snow thrower to bear as soon as he gets house and his Mom's house clear. Terry said that Jessica may have to go to work today since The Mall at Short Hills has a tentative opening time of noon. Since they have a parking garage, the can open while other malls are still plowing the lot. Whether anyone can get there is another story.

Sussex County, NJ and the Pocono region of PA are said to have close to three feet of snow from this storm. Sussex Co. has about 10K customers without power while Westchester Co., NY reports outages to 50K customers.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

From the Mouth of Babes

A Congressman was seated next to a little girl on the airplane leaving from Atlanta when he turned to her and said, 'Let's talk. I've heard that flights go quicker if you strike up a conversation with your fellow passenger.'

The little girl, who had just opened her book, closed it slowly and said to the total stranger, 'What would you like to talk about?'

'Oh, I don't know,' said the southern congressman. 'How about global warming or universal health care', and he smiles smugly.

'OK,' she said. 'Those could be interesting topics. But let me ask you a question first. A horse, a cow, and a deer all eat the same stuff - grass. Yet a deer excretes little pellets, while a cow turns out a flat patty, and a horse produces clumps of dried grass. Why do you suppose that is?'

The southern legislator, visibly surprised by the little girl's intelligence, thinks about it and says, 'Hmmm, I have no idea.'

To which the little girl replies, 'Do you really feel qualified to discuss global warming or universal health care when you don't know shit?

Oh freakin' joy... 8-(

From the National Weather service:

Issued by The National Weather Service
State College, PA
4:10 am EST, Thu., Feb. 25, 2010







First: Please note the time of issuance: 4:25 AM. At that time they were saying "light snow" with "1-3 inches of accumulation expected by late afternoon." We already HAD 1-3 inches when I came downstairs at 5:30 AM. And as for "light snow" fagetaboutit! We've added 3 to 4 inches to the total. Yeah, it slowed down between 10 and 12 but it's coming down like crazy right now. Probably in the inch-an-hour range.

Oh, and the winds have started to act up. The hanging feeders are swaying, the wind chimes are...well, chiming, and the pine trees are starting to have their snow loads shed by the wind.


Hello! I'm sitting in northern Tioga County. Worse, since the center of the storm, based upon the swirl in the radar's time lapse pictures, is sitting about 75 miles to my northwest and is sucking moisture off the Atlantic and bringing it my way, I'm sitting in EASTERN northern Tioga County where things snow is really coming down. Could be worse, the I-81 corridor through PA and up to Syracuse looks to be getting a real shellacing. I haven't found any reference to it on line but I wouldn't be surprised if I-81 were not shut down along some of its length from, say, I-80 to I-90. Yeah, it's that bad and that stretch of highway is, shall we say, not the flattest. They did close that highway from Maryland to NY a couple of stroms ago when it got dumped upon.

Aerie Birds: Northern Cardinal

The Northern Cardinal is a warm, welcome sight on a cold and snowy winter's day; which is probably why it appears on so many Christmas Cards. Even the female, in her much more subdued colors, brightens up the day.

We have one pair who come to the feeders regularly though usually in the very early or very late hours so that their colors don't give them away. My hanging feeders do not have a large enough landing space so they are usually going to feed on the ground or on the tray.

Female Northern Cardinal

Female Northern Cardinal

Female Northern Cardinal

Male Northern Cardinal

Male Northern Cardinal

Male Northern Cardinal

Aerie Birds: Mourning Dove

Subtle shades of color mixed with stark black highlights, the Mourning Dove is a pretty bird, but, man, can they eat! They gobble down the seeds in quantity, stuffing their crop to a noticeable bulge then fly off to digest their meal. We get a flock of one or two dozen here every day. They line up on the electric wire, wobbling to and fro to maintain their balance, as they scope out the feeding area. Luckily for the smaller birds, they can only feed on the ground or the tray so the hanging and stick feeders are usually left alone.

They are one of the few birds that will stand up to the Blue Jays for a place on the tray.

When spring arrives the flock will break up into nesting pairs and the cooing of the wooing will commence! When a group gathers on the ground you'll see the males chasing the females about as she will give him the cold shoulder. (Or, maybe, she's just trying to play hard to get. Coy little devils!)

If you can tell male from female without the chasing around, you're a better man than I am, Gunga Din!

Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove

Seeing all those bare feet on the snow makes me want to start knitting little Mourning Dove booties.

Aerie Birds

A couple of days ago I mentioned that we had a plethora of species feeding on the deck ad that in the span of 10 or 15 minutes I counted 8 or 9 species. I just downloaded the pictures I took from that event and, while I didn't capture snapshots of all of them, I was still surprised at the number I did manage to capture in about six minutes of shooting.

The Northern Cardinal was camera shy. In the few seconds he was here, he refused to look my way. Even so, the color is most welcome on a gray winter's day. They usually do not come to the feeders in mid-day but are often there in the twilight hours. Perhaps because they are more visible in bright light?

The Tufted Titmouse is a dapper little bird with the biggest, roundest eyes! That little rufous coloring un the flanks can be found on several different species.

The ubiquitous Black-capped Chickadee. Small, swift, friendly and loud! They hoard seeds in nooks and crannies of trees for snacking later. They also will cram several into a bird box or old nest hole on cold winter nights.

Blue Jays are the bullies and the alarm system for the feeding birds. They may drive everyone else away from the tray but when they give an alarm call everyone scatters or freezes in place until they identify the potential danger.

The White-breasted Nuthatch is usually found climbing head first down a tree trunk. Hence the long pointy claws.

The Dark-eyed Junco is sometimes called the Snow Bird because of it's habit of forming large flocks late in the fall and foraging for seeds on top of the snow all winter. They scratch at the ground cover--be it leaves, grass or snow--to get at the seeds. I made it too easy for these guys!

The American Goldfinch also forms large flocks during the fall and winter. They feed together and will take off in en masse to fly around the area for no apparent reason before returning to the trees and/or food.

The Downy Woodpecker is the smallest of the ladder-back woodpeckers. You can see why they get that nickname from this shot of a male Downy on the stick feeder. Like the White-breasted Nuthatch, the Downy will take a seed and wedge it into a convenient crack to hammer it open.

All these pictures were taken between 11:57 and 12:03 on February 22nd. I missed a few species because I picked up the camera late (the last Mourning Dove left just as I was focusing on it) or because the danged bird was just too fast for me (Red-breasted Nuthatch).

This was not an unusual day. There is a constant coming and going of birds around the Aerie. And, if the wind is blowing just right, you might see a Raven, Sharp-shinned Hawk or Red-tailed Hawk passing by at eye level. (In the summer there's always a Turkey Vulture or two soaring somewhere above. On rare occasions, I've also seen Broad-winged Hawks, Great Blue Herons and Bald Eagles.)

As I've said before just watching all the action can get you tired out.

Aerie AM Storm Report,
February 25, 2010

It started snowing some time after 11 PM Wednesday night. There are about three inches on the ground as I type (7 AM Thursday) and it's still coming down pretty hard. The forecasters (AccuHunch and both say we will get much, much more later today and through the night. They say we can expect around 10 inches total. I'm just hoping they are correct when they say the current bout will slow and perhaps even stop before noon. If it doesn't and if it continues to snow all day like it is at the moment then we might be looking at more than a foot.

There's hardly a breath of air at the moment. What little there is is from the southeast. The forecasters insist that will change when the winds shift to the northwest and gusts get up to 50 mph late today and tonight. Luckily, the temperature is around 26 degrees so the snow isn't tremendously wet and heavy or there would be broken branches and snapped trees.

Even should it stop, I don't think I'll make it down the hill to get the mail today. I wonder if the garbage man will make it up the hill for pick up. He's driving a 4x4 pickup, not one of those behemoths you see in cities and suburbs.

I'm going to let this one take it's time and get the snow blower out when it stops tomorrow.

The squirrels have dug through the snow on the deck tray to expose the seed that was there from yesterday. They won't be getting a second helping until the storm is finished. The small birds are hitting the stick feeders pretty good (when the squirrels let them) and they should be okay.

More later as the snow piles up ad the forecast becomes history.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Aerie Report, February 23, 2010

The weather lords did not come through last night. The forecast several inches of snow and/or freezing rain became just that one snow squall at dinner and then a very light mist of sorts that produces ice on the windshield that melted if you breathed upon it. And down the hill there was less.

I guess we're going to dodge a bullet from tonight's storm, too. The brunt of the storm will be to our east where the TV weatherman says there might be up to a foot of snow in Delhi, New York. (That's west-northwest of the Catskills on State Route 10.) It looks like we'll get nothing but lots of fog, some freezing mist, and--perhaps--an inch or so of snow.

At the moment it's 34 degrees and raining lightly here at the Aerie.

Unfortunately, while we may dodge this bullet, ole Ma Nature has another in the chamber and we may not get so lucky later in the week. The hype is in full swing about a "hurricane of a snow storm" that may hit on Thursday night into Friday. They're not sure where exactly, but they say that it will be one to remember with winds gusting up to 74 mph and snow falling at the rate of 1-2 inches an hour.

This particular nightmare isn't even on the maps yet. It may draw some of it's energy from a storm still down in northeast Texas or perhaps it will siphon energy from the ocean since it will slam into the coast somewhere between Cape May, New Jersey and Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The wraparound winds will bring very cold air down from Canada--again.

The warning is out for areas as far south as the I-80 corridor here in central PA. The TV guy says this is the first major snow storm we will have this year in this area ad that we should expect snow amounts in the 8 to 10 inch range. AccuHunch is saying 12 inches are possible. is just saying "Look out!" Unlike yesterday when all the forecasts fizzled, today they all agree as to time, place and (almost) amounts.

(And if anyone says, "Sound like the science is settled," I will have to get medieval on your heiney.)


The forecast is frightening enough that Terry has decided to head for New Jersey early for her SAGA classes she's scheduled to take withe the Princeton Pleaters chapter. She called her Mom today and told her to expect company tomorrow afternoon. It was raining like the dicken's in NJ, Mom said. Almost all the snow on the grass has melted away with only the piles of snow shoveled, plowed or blown still present. They may get several inches (up to 8, Mom said) from the snow storm Thursday afternoon into Friday morning.


The bird and squirrel activity at the feeders has been truly amazing the last day or two. Each morning we've had 8 to 10 gray squirrels gathering at the feeders to fill their stomachs with sunflower seeds. They stay until around 10 AM and then disappear back into the woods and their insulated nests.

The birds have also been mobbing the feeders but they'll be coming and going all day long. In one 15 minute period around 11 AM yesterday I watched 8 or 9 species come to the feeders on the deck while two or three additional species were present at the yard feeders.

It's not just one or two individuals of each species either. Two or three DOZEN each of chickadees, mourning doves, and goldfinches can be seen working the seed at one time. Half a dozen blue jays may sweep in en masse as will the same number of juncoes. Three or four white-breasted nuthatches and tufted titmice will hit the deck at a time. Two or three downy woodpeckers, cardinals, and hairy woodpeckers add to the mix.

Watching all the activity can tire you out.


I got to the dentist's today. Exam, X-rays, and a cleaning were done in two hours. Unfortunately, the X-rays and exam showed two top molars (one on each side) that will have to come out. This goes back to the loss of the molars on the bottom. The tops, having nothing to push them back, have been erupting and this exposes the lower part of the tooth. It also forms larger gaps at the gum line and pinches the crowns of the teeth together. Decay has occurred in those larger gaps and--so says the X-rays--it's gone to the core of the tooth.

It's my own damn fault for not being a good flosser. *sigh*

So, I'll be going back next week to get one of the molars pulled and the week after to get a filling repaired and the other molar pulled. I could have had them both out on the same time but that would have left me with a diet of soup and/or malts for a day or two as I wouldn't have a side to chew on. The dentist who will do the extraction agree. (Now that I've written the word "malts" above, maybe I should rethink this. I've got a bottle or two of single malts that would act as both pain killer and disinfectant.)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Aerie Report, February 22, 2010

Not much to say except never, ever trust a weatherman. Terry and I made plans to go out this afternoon but while she went off to Curves and some errands this morning I checked the weather gurus ( and AccuHunch) and things didn't look promising. While they couldn't agree on timing, both indicated some possibility of freezing rain/wintry mix/snow taking place between noon and 7 PM. Since our sojourn out would have covered a good portion of that time, we decided to stay in and see what developed.

Terry pulled a nice boneless pork loin out for dinner along with sauerkraut, chunks of potatoes (cooked in the little pork grease the loin produced), string beans (from the garden) and apple sauce (canned two falls ago). Our dinner was excellent! And, while we were eating it, the snow finally arrived.

I had been checking both forecasters all afternoon and they kept changing their projections as to time and quantity. I came to the conclusion that they really do not know much more than I do when it comes to forecasting the weather. We should have gone out.

They say there's a chance for more snow (albeit small amounts) Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Then, they say, it will get interesting. We shall see.


I've a dental appointment tomorrow morning and I'm a bit concerned. It's been nearly six years since my last visit and, while I've got nothing that pains me, I do have two or three already filled teeth that have...well, lost parts in the interval.


Speaking of health care.

What is it about the word "NO" that the White House does not understand? Two days before his televised summit with the Republicans during which it is alleged he was going to work for a bipartisan health care reform, President Obama produces a bill that is almost exactly like the ones already passed in the Congress and Senate but with even fewer details so that the Congressional Budget Office can not even determine its cost. The man and his cronies obviously believe that political leadership means cramming stuff down the peoples' throats.

Now that he has produced this bill (and basically said it's-my-way-or-the-highway), what, exactly does he plan to do on Wednesday? He's certainly not looking to get any "bipartisanship" out of the many times spurned Republicans.

I sincerely hope that the Republicans stick to their guns and tell the President that he can put his Health Care Reform where the sun don't shine.

The President and the Democrats have burned a lot of bridges lately. I wonder when it will occur to them that they are on an island.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

SDO vs Sundog

NASA launched a satellite last week (February 11th) that's going to study the Sun in fine detail. The Official announcement made it sound like(and I'm paraphrasing here, okay?): Wow! We just discovered the Sun is a variable star and the variations in its energy output may affect the weather and climate here on Earth!

Anyway, that's not the only thing this Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) will do/has done. Even before it left the atmosphere the rocket propelling the SDO did something only anecdotally recorded before: It destroyed a sundog.

Watts Up With That has the story: SDO whacks sundog The post includes a description of how a sundog is formed as well as of the SDO's mission. There's a video posted there but a better one in which the sonic boom is clearly seen was posted in the comments by DirkH:

Read the comments at WUWT. They are a hoot!

My favorite:
John F. Hultquist (10:08:09) :

It’s worse than I thought. Is it not enough that penguins, polar bears, and Arctic ice are being destroyed by modern technology? Now Sundogs? Soon there won’t be any left. Help me Save The Sundogs. Join STS. Send $25 to . . .

Aerie Report, February 20, 2010

Speaking of the increased daylight.... We've been fortunate these last two days to be enjoying copious amounts of sunshine and the warm temperatures that go with it.

Yesterday (Friday) didn't start out that great with lots of dense clouds overhead and a threat of more snow shower activity. Add the very strong winds out of the north-northwest (gusts nearing 40 mph) and it looked ominous. But those same strong winds blew that whole mess away. The sun came out and things really warmed up. Got close to 40 degrees but didn't quite make it before the sun started to set.

The sky stayed clear and the crescent moon and stars shone brightly. The winds died overnight to a much more reasonable 10 mph or so and the sun came up this morning with little or no competition. This despite one of the weather services saying it would be partly cloudy while the other said mostly sunny. Half filled/empty glass, I guess.

The temperature this afternoon did cross over the 40 degree mark this afternoon, but there seem to be more cumulus clouds in the sky as I type. Perhaps that's because of the increased amount of moisture in the air due to the snow melting.

Tomorrow promises to be more of the same which will be nice. Some snow is forecast for Monday, however. Not much just another PITA event that will--they say--slip past on our north. It's later in the week we'll have to keep an eye on. AccuHunch is saying things like "potential monster" but we shall see.


Nothing new on the birdie front here yet. We're several weeks away from the north-bound migration beginning. The owls should be starting to nest around now but I've not heard but one little "hoot" several evenings ago. Perhaps they are putting house building on hold until there's a break in the weather. If so, it could begin any day now. They usually time things so that the chicks hatch about the time the snow melts away and the little rodents and rabbits haven't anything to hide under.

@#$ CATS!

We're in a quandary here at the Aerie. On one hand we are really enjoying the lengthening daylight hours that allow us to actually eat dinner while it's still light out, but, on the other hand there's that earlier sunrise crap.

You see, the cats can not tell time by looking at a clock. As a result, they depend upon the increasing morning light to tell them when WE should be getting up--much like a rooster. And, much like a rooster, they are quite verbal about our--to them--slug-a-bed ways. Add the fact that our bodies have decided that six to seven hours of sleep is sufficient--even when our minds and hearts are enjoying the warmth and comfort of the bed--and you have a problem.

Having been awakened bright(?) and early on Friday morning by Chester serenading outside our door at 6:15 AM, I was primed for an early night and went to sleep at 9 PM. Seven hours later by circadian rhythm went off and I was awake at 4 AM Saturday morning. I tried and I tried to fall back asleep only to have Shadow (Chester's evil sister) realize someone was awake and twitching on the other side of the door AND THEY WERE NOT GETTING UP TO FEED THE CATS!!!

Well, Shadow can be extremely vocal and quite loud when she wants to be and no amount of shouting "Shut up!!" will discourage her. In fact, quite the opposite. Having elicited a reaction from the wanna-be-sleepers, she cranks up the volume.

Soooo, after half an hour of caterwauling, I decided I had better get out of bed and go feed the damn cats. (Yeah, they have me trained well!) I thought I would do this and allow Terry to sleep longer since she had come to bed at 9 PM and was reading when I entered the land of nod. (Yeah, she, too, has got me trained!)

I thought my coming downstairs and feeding them would get them to be quiet and allow Terry to sleep. It worked--for about 45 minutes.

See, Shadow can count. If I come downstairs alone, she knows there's still someone in bed. Someone who is likely to provide more food than the scrunge that put down a measly teaspoonful for each of the three cats. No sooner has she licked her bowl clean (and probably Chester's too) than she goes back upstairs and starts howling at the bedroom door.

I went up and got her; hauling her downstairs again while administering her favorite Ferengi ear lobe rub. She purred like crazy while I massaged her lobes and scratched her chin. As soon as I sat down, however, she was off like a shot. Back upstairs to howl once more. I fetched the little demon and repeated the loving while hoping Terry could still be asleep.

I tried to keep Shadow downstairs, honest. But as soon as she could she escaped my clutches and was right back at the bedroom door.

Terry gave up and emerged from the bedroom at 5:15 AM. It was still dark out. We both should have still been asleep.

Thing is, Shadow is the most stand-offish of the three. She’s the loner of the three. Not really much of a people pussycat, if you get my drift. She wants to be stroked and scratched on her terms and her terms only! She will not sit in your lap. (You've got to beat the other two off with a bat.) But when she wants her ears scratched she will reach out and literally touch you--no, make that grab you. You could be sitting at the dinner table when she'll decide she wants scratching NOW! Or simply walk past her as she sits on the step stool in the kitchen and there will be an extended paw--with claws out--to gently tap, tap, tap on your thigh. (If the gentle tap doesn't work, you can expect something that will draw blood!) Still, if there’s a cat that’s going to leave you alone much of the day, it’s Shadow.

Tonight I will force myself to stay up until at least 10 PM. And if Shadow makes a noise before 7 AM...well, I've got a couple of shotguns. (Just kidding!)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Have shovel will ...well, shovel!

We got another 2" PITA snowfall after dark last night. There wasn't enough to use the snow blower but too much to let lay so Terry and I went out with the shovels and cleared the driveway after I returned from getting the mail. As I've said, I'd much rather have a 6" snowfall on which I could use the snow blower followed by five days of sunshine than have 2" ever other freakin' day.

You would think being more than 100 miles from lake Ontario would mean NOT being affected by lake effect snows but guess again. Even the Finger Lakes can, and do, produce lake effect snows when the wind is blowing right (?) as it was last night. When it's out of the north, it comes right down the length of Seneca, Cayuga and Keuka Lakes. That can produce a plume of snow down wind that extends for miles. Of course, here at the Aerie, we are also on Armenia Mountain which forms a considerable ridge running roughly east-west and blocks the south bound winds forces them upwards where they cool and the contained moisture (from Lake Ontario and the Finger Lakes) condenses, and--voila!-causes snow. (That's where the persistent Blue Blob on the radar screens comes from.)


After a bit of a gloomy start to the day, the clouds have thinned and the sun has made sporadic appearances. This has driven the temperature above the 32 degree mark and started melting some of the snow that remains atop the gravel in the driveway. With luck, the sun will get things down to almost bare ground where we shoveled.

AccuHunch seems to have hedged their bets on the pending storm originally scheduled for early next week. Now things have been pushed back to Wednesday but they will, according to the *ahem* experts continue through the end of the month. Since Terry is planning on going to New Jersey on Friday (the 26th) for some SAGA classes with the Princeton Pleaters, she was not happy to hear this. I tried to tell her not to worry. They haven't gotten tomorrow correct all week, why should they be right about NEXT Friday? We shall see.

Oh well, I've had my Ibuprofen and my lunch. Time for a bottle of Sam Adams and to watch the snow melt.

Oh! Really?

Watt's Up With That has a post today by Steven Goddard of a re[port from my alma mater, Rutgers University.

Northern Hemisphere Snow Extent Second Highest on Record
According to Rutgers University Global Snow Lab, last week’s Northern Hemisphere winter snow extent was the second highest on record, at 52,166,840 km2. This was only topped by the second week in February, 1978 at 53,647,305 km2. Rutgers has kept records continuously for the last 2,227 weeks, so being #2 is quite an accomplishment.

To which I reply: No Sh!t Sherlock!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Aerie Report, February 17, 2010

Well, it's snowing...again.

When I went out to get the mail yesterday after lunch we had about 2 inches on the driveway so I shoveled it when I got back. This is the first time I actually used the shovel on the driveway this year and my muscles let me know they were not appreciative. Past snows either did not amount to enough to warrant shoveling or were deep enough to use the snow blower. This job took me about ninety minutes to complete by which time my lower back, buttocks and shoulders were all ready to bury me in a snow bank. Ibuprofen, a hot shower and early sack time was called for but they did little to ease the aches which continued today.

And, speaking of today, it's been snowing most of the day. It came down sporadically and lightly this morning but after lunch it really picked up. We're not getting an inch an hour or anything near that, but it is coming down quite heavily. Let's just say that if they were holding the Olympic downhill ski races on the back slope, it would be just like being in wouldn't be able to see a thing from the bottom of the slope.

Terry and I were supposed to go over to Wellsboro tonight for the monthly meeting of the Tiadaghton Audubon Society, but we opted to stay home. Though Terry did say there was no snow falling in the valley when she went out to Curves, lunch and church (Ash Wednesday) between 10:30 AM and 1 PM, I'm pretty sure that's changed now.

Accuweather is saying there's no hope for a thaw anytime soon and we should expect winds out of the north gusting to 30 mph on Thursday. The also mentioned some strange snowfall totals for the month of February. Johnstown, PA down on the southern border has had close to 60 inches of snow. Snow has fallen there on 15 of the 17 days in the month. Meanwhile, Buffalo, NY has had only 3 inches. That may be changing today as the winds have been bringing snow almost due south off Lake Ontario. That's also where most of our snow is coming from today. Thank goodness Lake Erie is frozen over! If the wind shifts so as to come more from the northwest, we'll be clear. At least, we'll be clear if the Blue Blob would take a hike!

BUT, AccuHunch is forecasting another snow storm to come out of the Ohio/Kentucky/West Virginia region on Sunday night into Monday.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Where in the world is...

If you've been following the saga of climategate over the last few weeks you've heard about numerous shenanigans, manipulations, and down right lies that went into the ICCP report upon which huge amounts of cash and power were dependent. You may have read (in the British press because that of the good ol' USA seems to have dropped the ball on this story) that even the head of the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia, Phil Jones, is now admitting that there has been virtually no warming occurring over the last fifteen years or so.

Yet, here in the states, some of our political critters continue to beat the drum against man caused global warming. You know that doesn't exist. (Sort of like being gung-ho to go out a fight dragons while riding your unicorn.) I credit their obstinacy to that power and cash I mentioned above.

In all the hullabaloo there is one person who has not spoken up. One prime figure leading up to the Copenhagen climate meeting who was constantly in the papers, giving speeches, haranguing "deniers" for their "false" beliefs. The man who dubbed global warming "An Inconvenient Truth."

Just where in the world is Al Gore anyway?
And why isn't the press banging down his door to ask him questions?

Is it spring yet?

Ole Punxsutawney Phil said six more weeks two weeks ago and it sure looks like we're going to be held to that forecast. At least the pitchers and catchers will be showing up for spring training down in Florida and Arizona this week. Although, from the sounds of the weather down south, they will have to work extra hard to break a sweat. Here's hoping that when they break camp to head north and start the official season around the first of April, they don't have to bring snow shovels with them to clear the base paths.

I know, I know--I grumble a lot about the snow. Lately it's like getting pecked to death by ducks--an inch today, an inch tomorrow. Always followed by just a long enough period of warmth (relatively speaking), rain, and/or sunshine to bring things down (almost) to bare earth. Weird as it seems, I'd much rather have a foot of snow today and then four or five days of sunshine than five days of one inch snow falls.

It's snowing again today. Not much is expected, just an inch or two. Still it's falling sufficiently hard so as to block off visibility hear at the Aerie and engulf us in our own little world with white walls a few hundred feet away.

I guess I shouldn't really complain, however. I mean what should I expect from living so near to the NY/PA line, just west of the spine of the Appalachian Mountain Range, and down wind of the Great Lakes to boot.

Could be worse. Terry's cousin, Jim sent these photos from last week. They live in Columbia, SOUTH Carolina. Six to seven inches in their neck of the woods while we got bupkiss. (Of course, Mom got 15-18 inches in Linden, NJ.)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Eatin' Health

What do you know! I'm eating healthier than I thought.

Red wine and dark chocolate cancer killers

Red grapes and dark chocolate join blueberries, garlic, soy, and teas as ingredients that starve cancer while feeding bodies....
Li cited a Harvard Medical School study showing that men who ate cooked tomatoes several times weekly were 30 to 50 percent less likely to have prostate cancer.
The foundation pitted some foods against approved drugs and found that soy, parsley, red grapes, berries and other comestibles were either as effective or more potent in battling cancer cells.

Eaten together, the foods were even more effective in fighting cancer.

Everything on that list of foods except the soy is eaten or drunk here often. Even the soy gets its day in sweet and sour soup or as sauce on some other oriental dish Terry serves up.

(h/t TigerHawk)

Aerie Report, February 15, 2010

What a weird day! It was clear and 18 or so this morning with the wind coming out of the north northwest. It warmed up nicely, however as the wind shifted to the south and the temps actually cracked 40 degrees under bright sunshine at around 2:30 PM. But then the wind shifted again to the southwest and it started to get overcast. It soon dropped to the low 30s and was snowing like crazy by 4 PM. Now (9 PM) it is just overcast.

All the while this was going on, both AccuHunch and kept saying we were only going to get up to around 30 degrees and we could expect mostly cloudy skies and flurries all day. Even now they are saying we should see between 3 and 4 inches of snow in the next few days. That is, an inch tonight and perhaps 1 to 3 inches Tuesday night into Wednesday.

I am so ready for Spring!


Terry spent much of the day at the dentist's. It's the first visit to a new dentist for either of us since we moved here. She had cracked off a piece of tooth and needed a fix as well as a cleaning.

She said both the hygienist and the dentist were very good and she was able to get everything done today when a cancellation opened a time slot for a second appointment in the afternoon.

I've got to make an appointment for similar care soon. I like dentists about as much as Indiana Jones liked snakes.


I spent the day scanning slides into digital photos while watching NCIS on USA. I managed to get about 250 done in six hours today. There's only about 500 more to go! I've just started to do the slides from our 1993 cross country trip. The one that took 5-1/2 weeks and of which we shot a hell of a lot of film! All the slides that remain are form that trip as were the last 60-70 that I did today.

I deliberately avoided anything on the TV that wasn't NCIS. (Abby is right. It is pistachios. Or in my case, cashews, since I don't care for pistachios.) News is depressing and the Winter Olympics are just not my thing.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Eastern Sports & Outdoor Show:
2010 edition

Not much to report.

Joe and I succeeded in making it to the Eastern Sports & Outdoor Show on Thursday. In an uncoordinated fashion we arrived at the center (I from the Aerie and he from Linden, NJ) within 15 minutes of each other and both of us were nearly an hour earlier than the time we said we would meet and 45 minutes before the doors opened. Absolutely no traffic on the road that early in the morning. (That was NOT true as we left a little after 1 PM. Lines of cars stretched out onto I-81 on both the east bound and west bound sides. And that intersection is two miles or so from the Farm Show Complex.)

Our first order of business was to find the Caesar's Lodge booth so Joe could book a trip for this summer. No problem! Caesar's had two booths--one in the outfitters section of the main hall and one in the fishing hall. We happened to enter in the fishing hall and found the booth just about 200 yards from the door. Oliver Brossard was back in charge of the outpost fishing and all the flying while his cousin George remains is in charge of the hunting and main lodge.

Joe booked his trip and then we set off to see what else there might be to see. We walked, and walked and walked some more. Along the way, Joe picked up some 1/4 inch cord, some 6 lb. test fishing line, and a leather wallet. We both bought some leather belts. And that was about it. We looked at lots of ATVs, admired all the horns at the outfitters' booths, inspected and got information about some Treewalker Tree Stands and did lots and lots of walking. We easily could have spent the rest of the afternoon and, perhaps, part of today if we had spent more time talking to outfitters, suppliers of calls, suppliers of archery equipment, etc. or if we had opted to watch any of the shows/demonstrations that were going on, but we both were faced with about 150 mile drives to get home and had nothing in particular we wanted to spend our money the moment. So we headed our separate ways around one in the afternoon.

All I can say is that this is indeed the largest outdoor show on the east coast. The space is simply huge. Four different halls that could have each housed their own shows and, in a sense, did. The main hall held all the hunting supplies and outfitters. Then there was a fishing outfitter and supply hall (including boats and RVs). Another was strictly set up for archery supplies and held a shooting range of 3-D targets ranged up in the seating gallery. Another hall held all the man toys like ATVs, motor cycles, tractors, and such. And there were other halls as well. I even saw one or two full sized, two room log cabins and a two-vehicle garage with a full loft. One thing we didn't see much of was guns. There were only a few booths for manufacturers and gunsmiths/modifiers. I'm sure there must have been more, but then we weren't really looking.

It was difficult maneuvering through the aisles because of the number of people in attendance--on a work day. I don't know what kind of purchasing power the folks coming in to the show carried with them but I'm sure that lots and lots of cash changed hands during the eight days of the show. And looking at the number of pick-up trucks in the parking lots.... I'll definitely be putting this on my calendar for next February. And this time, I believe I'll make a point of seeing some of the shows and having a shopping list. I'll also see about getting into and keeping in shape for all the walking that's involved.

I thought to drive over to Cabela's after the show (it's just 50 miles or so east on I-78) since it would have added just 50 miles to the trip. (The leg back to the Aerie from Cabela's is about the same as from the Aerie to the Farm Show Complex.) But near the end of our walking around the Outdoor Show (and we covered perhaps two-thirds of the show floor space walking several miles in the 3+ hours we were there), my back started to complain and my left hip joined in. Not willing to be 100% stupid I headed directly home.

Two-and-a-half hours in the truck did nothing to improve the back or hip. The wine for dinner helped a little as did the Ibuprofen before hitting the sack early. Slept like a log until the cats started at 6:30 AM.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Let's Try this One More TIme...

It's a beautiful day here at the Aerie. The temperature has soared into the mid 30s as bright sunshine streams down through a cloudless sky. All the while AccuHunch and are telling me the high will be 32 (been there, done that) and the sky is mostly cloudy (huh?).

I spent some time this morning with Mr.Craftsman Snow Blower clearing the driveway. I was surprised to see there was barely enough snow to warrant the use of the blower. I'd estimate it was just 4 inches deep out there except where it blew off the roof. After watching it snow all day long yesterday I thought sure we had more than that on the ground. Perhaps the fact that the snow was extremely fine and almost granular allowed it to settle more than normal.

Anyway, I did get the stuff cleared using the blower. I'm glad I got it done early, too. There was not a breeze blowing while I worked which meant I didn't have to worry about the stuff blowing back on me as I went about my clearing. The snow went almost exactly where I wanted it to with the exception of when the skids on the front of the blower hooked a chunk of gravel and suddenly jerked the machine one way or the other.

I called my buddy Joe in New Jersey. He was out from around 5:30 AM until 11 using his snow blower to clear his driveway, his mother's sidewalks (corner lot) and my mother-in-law's driveway and sidewalk (one block from his Mom's). He said he was pooped from having to move the machine around and muscle it through some of the deep snow (12-18 inches of it).

He and I will make one more attempt to go to the Eastern Sports & Outdoor Show in Harrisburg tomorrow. The weather looks good and barring a freak snowstorm we should be okay. He wants to book a Quebec fishing trip for himself and one of his sons. I'd go fishing with him but Terry and I have already made plans to head to Alaska this summer...all summer. Still, it will be nice to touch base with the outfitter about going fishing in 2011.

The Harrisburg venue is immense and could easily be the largest outdoor show on the east coast. We'll get there around 10 to 10:30 AM and probably won't get out until late in the afternoon. I'm going to make sure I have comfortable walking shoes on 'cause it looks like there are miles of aisles to walk.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Aerie PM Report, February 10, 2010

The snow finished sometime around sundown this evening. The winds picked up considerably rising from just one or two miles per hour to over ten. They also switched around from coming from the east to the north.

The final measurement is a mere 6 inches or so. Not much considering what fell south and east of here. Certainly no blizzard or "snowmageddon" for us. I held off clearing the driveway and now will be waiting until tomorrow when I'll be out early in the morning with the snow thrower. With any luck it won't take me more than a couple of hours to clear it all.

Aerie AM Report, February 10, 2010

After watching the radar screens carefully tell the tale of the impending storm last evening, and after experiencing a brief foray by the leading edge of the storm, I decided it would be safe to attend the Grand Canyon Photography Club meeting in Wellsboro last evening. Leaving the Aerie at 6:30 PM I experienced nothing worse than wet roads and a few brief flurries on the road west. No snow fell while the meeting was being held but the prospect of the storms arrival had everyone talking.

We had a presentation on Adobe Bridge for organizing our stacks (digital as they are) of photos. It reminded me that I've been extremely lax in the organization department of both the slides I've been scanning and the photos I've taken. I'm left with the daunting task of going back over thousands and thousands of pictures. *sigh*

A second presentation was on Gestalt Theory for composition. Interesting but way more deliberate thinking than I put into snapping a picture. Then again, I'm not doing it for "Art".

Anyway....The meeting broke up around 9 PM at which time it still wasn't snowing ad the "downtown" temperature in Wellsboro was 34 degrees. As I headed back east, the temps dropped quickly to 27-28 degrees along Route 6 and then to 25 as I turned up the hill to the Aerie. It wasn't until I neared home that the number of flakes increased, though not dramatically. When I hit the sack at 10:30 PM the snow still hadn't kicked it into high gear. It did so over night, however.

Three or four inches of white powder had fallen by the time I rolled out of the sack at 8 AM. (Terry was up earlier to feed the cats who left me to sleep.) The snow has continued all morning and, while we may see a little slackening in the quantity for an hour or two early this afternoon, it will last into the evening. Seven or more inches before it's over does not seem like a stretch. Could be a whole lot worse.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Won't be so easy tomorrow

What a hard day . . . I actually had to move  TWICE.
moar funny pictures

The weather guy on the radio is saying 2 to 4 inches tonight and another 3 to 5 inches tomorrow. I guess we're due. And thank goodness we aren't on the southern border of the state.

I recall back in 1966 or so we had two snow storms a week apart that each dumped 12 to 18 inches of snow in a very, very brief time frame. Why does that stick out? They happened on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve and I was responsible for clearing the sidewalks at the church at the time. And it was a corner lot. With lots of sidewalks. And a long, wide entry walk to the front doors. And the church had midnight services both nights. And there was no snow blower, just a straight handled shovel.

Then there was the 30+ inch snowstorm we got when we lived in Dover, NJ, sometime between 1973 and '76. Narrow streets with small (short) driveways. At least the mayor lived two houses down so the road got plowed early and often even if that meant the street parked cars got buried. I went to help his wife dig out figuring it would be necessary for him to get to the office. When we finished she mentioned she just had to get out to go get her hair done. She's lucky she wasn't found later in the snow bank.

Compared to that and the nearly 45 inches Baltimore and Philly have had dumped on them since Friday, 5 to 9 inches doesn't sound like much. But then I'm not as young as I used to be.

White-breasted Nuthatch

At least one White-breasted Nuthatch has figured out what to do with the checks (splits) in the deck posts. Rather than taking a sunflower seed all the way out to a pine or some other tree with rough bark there to wedge it in place before hammering it open with his bill like a woodpecker, this bird uses the cracks in the deck posts.

Now, I can't be sure there is only one White-breasted Nuthatch that has figured this out as they all look the same. But I have only seen one do this at a time despite there being several posts on the deck that could--and have--been used. Conversely, I've seen more than one W-B NH at a time take a seed to the bark of a tree to perform the opening ceremony.

Below I've posted a sequence involving just one Nuthatch for your enjoyment.

Having placed the seed in the crack, the White-Breasted
Nuthatch does a quick inspection.

Finding it not quite to his liking, he makes an adjustment...

...and wedges the seed in more tightly.

He takes another look and then lines it up like a golf putt.

A-N-D....THWACK!!! It's lunch time!

More daily visitors

Blue Jays come to the feeders in packs. If there's just one on the tray, there are five or six in the trees. They are the roving bullies. They will intimidate the smaller birds and even the large Mourning Doves. Yet they are also cowards. The Red-bellied Woodpecker can scare them away when she comes to the tray and they all take off when I step out onto the deck.

Their cowardice, however, can be a blessing for the little birds. When the Jays flee from me or a hawk that appears in the yard, they don't go quietly. They'll screech and scream quite loudly. When that happens all the little birds either freeze or head for the thick, protective branches of the pine trees and become still and silent as they assess the threat.

Blue Jay doing a little soft-shoe dance

We've only got a couple of Northern Cardinals that show up in the yard. Actually, just one pair--male and female--makes an appearance. Usually they feed on the ground beneath the feeders on the side of the house picking up seeds scattered by the other birds and squirrels. These visits frequently occur in the twilight hours of sunrise or sunset when it's just not practical to snap a photo. Once in a blue moon, however, one or the other will make a mid-day appearance on the deck.

Northern Cardinal

Another group that appears as a pack is the Mourning Dove. Or, given their usual docile nature, perhaps flock would be a better descriptive. Twelve to twenty of these subtly colored birds will be pecking at seeds on the ground, snatching one off the tray, or slowly policing the driveway for gravel that might be just the right size for their crop. (Without teeth, birds depend upon gravel in their crop to grind up ("chew") their food.) They don't pick fights with anybody but another Mourning Dove and will shoot off en-mass in erratic flight when they perceive a threat. Usually, they will fly in a circle and come back to roost in the pines to determine if it is safe to return. Sometimes they skip the circle flight and head right to the pines.

I expect to see some courting behavior from them in a couple of weeks. Males will walk after a female cooing all the while. She will act coy and rebuff his attentions right up to the last second. At least that's what it looks like. With both sexes looking the same, I could be mistaken. Perhaps they are merely re-enacting the last San Francisco street parade for Gay Rights.

Mourning Dove

Aerie AM Report, February 9, 2010

We've been downgraded from a Winter Storm Watch to an Advisory. That means we won't get as much as they feared but AccuHunch is still saying between 4 and 7 inches of snow may fall between tonight and Wednesday evening. The higher accumulations are to be to our south and/or at higher elevations. (Have I mentioned that the Aerie is at 2100 feet? That's actually quite high around here where maximum elevations are around 2400 feet or so.)

Scattered snow is already falling in the southwest corner of the state and is slowly creeping this way according to the radar. The heavier stuff is still down in southern Ohio and West Virginia.

Anywho.... It's not supposed to start until well after dark so, while the trip to Harrisburg has been postponed until Friday, I should be able to make it to the photography club meeting in Wellsboro.

Joe and I were discussing how we might be able to make some $$$ out of our ability to draw in precipitation whenever we have anything planned together. We've already put out feelers with the Canadian government to bring an end to any drought they may experience during the summer. All we ask is that they pay for our fishing trips. We can guarantee that it will rain at least five of the seven days we book an expedition.

We thought Vancouver might be interested, but it's kinda short notice for the Olympic ski slopes. Bear season would have been a good time. If they had called us a little earlier.... They probably called Al Gore all liberals, he failed to deliver the goods.

(We'd issue an official apology to Baltimore and D.C. but that might get us into a position of being financially responsible for their clean-up costs. So all we'll say is: TS!)

Monday, February 08, 2010

Holy Moly!

I'm looking around at some sports sites (Super Bowl on, Mets at MetsBlog, when I got to the Baseball Crank and see that Rep. John Murtha has died. The Washington Post has the details here.

Also in the Washington Post, Chris Cillizza, says that state law requires the Governor to declare a date for a special election to fill the Congressman's now vacant seat. That election, says Cillizza, will probably coincide with Pennsylvania's primaries to be held on May 18th. No interim appointment can be made.

Mets Alert!

Pitchers and Catchers in 10 Days. (February 18)

Saints 31, Colts 17

Congratulations to the New Orleans Saints on their victory over the Indy Colts yesterday in Super Bowl XLIV.

They got off to a slow start falling behind 10-0 in the first quarter but out played the Colts from then on.

Drew Brees was chosen as the MVP. He was 32 for 39 for 288 yards and two TDs and one 2-point conversion. In contrast, Payton Manning was 31 or 45 for 333 yards and had one TD and one fatal interception (returned 74 yards by Tracy Porter for a TD with just 3:12 left in the game).