Sunday, February 27, 2011

Another great one lost.

Duke Snider has passed away.

Duke Snider, the Hall of Fame center fielder for the charmed “Boys of Summer” who helped the Dodgers bring their elusive and only World Series crown to Brooklyn, died early Sunday of what his family called natural causes. He was 84.

Snider died at the Valle Vista Convalescent Hospital in Escondido, Calif., according to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, which announced the death on behalf of the family.

“The Duke of Flatbush” hit .295 with 407 career home runs, played in the World Series six times and won two titles. But the eight-time All-Star was defined by much more than his stats — he was, after all, part of the love affair between the borough of Brooklyn and “Dem Bums” who lived in the local neighborhoods.

Ebbets Field was filled with stars such as Pee Wee Reese, Roy Campanella and Gil Hodges during that 1955 championship season. Yet it is Snider’s name that refrains in the ballpark favorite “Talkin’ Baseball.”

“Willie, Mickey, and the Duke,” the popular song goes.

You could get into some pretty good arguments over which was the better center fielder in New York back in the '50s. And now only Mays is left.

Nuisance Snow?

More like a PIA snow. We got 2-3 inches overnight. Not enough to use the snow thrower and too much to allow it to sit until the rains later this week causes it to melt. Soooo, I got my exercise in this morning. Shoveling. It took me two hours to get the job finished. By then, with the temperature already reaching 31 degrees under a cloudy sky, I was perspiring freely.

AccuHunch is calling for a high today of around 40 degrees with a "drenching rain" on the way overnight and throughout Monday--when it will get up to 45 degrees. Up to an inch of rain is in the forecast. Tuesday is supposed to also be in the mid 40s with lots of sunshine and Wednesday will see the 40s with clouds. Should be a whole lot of melting going on. I expect the driveway to be down to bare ground by midweek.

Friday, February 25, 2011

I'm Pooped!

It finally stopped snowing around 4 PM so I suited up and fired up the snow thrower. The snow was wet and heavy and the expanse of the parking area so large that the thrower couldn't reach the edge. That means I had to move some of the snow twice. And the second time it was packed pretty tightly. I had planned ahead, however, and had kept the area and the driveway cleared wide after previous snowfalls. As a result I didn't have to try to get the snow up and over the banks just to them. Any loss of parkable or drivable area is unimportant. I finished up at 6:30 PM--in the dark.

Terry cleaned off the deck--again--and around her Jeep while I was working so all that's left is to clean off the Tundra and do a little shovel work on the debris left behind from the show thrower. That can wait until tomorrow. Maybe.

It looks like we ended up with 8 or 9 inches of snow.

Here we go again!

More global warming fell overnight. There were six inches on the deck this morning of heavy wet snow. And then we had a little bit of rain/sleet on top of that. It seemed to stop (or at least level off on the sleet level so I went out to try the snow thrower while Terry got the deck and the small path out to the bird feeders. The thrower was doing pretty well considering the weight of the stuff it was trying to toss. Even so, the height of the mounds at the end of the driveway was too much for it. The opening will be a little narrower than it has been but the thrower can't seem to lift the plow enhanced dense crud higher than the four or five feet I've already got it at.

So, I cleared the end of the driveway and made two passes--one down and one back--from the garage, around the Tundra and down the length of the drive, when the sleet turned back to snow as the temperature dropped down a couple of degrees. I called a halt to my efforts at that point and decided to wait until after lunch to make another assault. Already we've an additional inch of snow in the hour or so since the the switch over occurred.

There have been a few trucks up the hill but they must have been gas and wind farm workers. No signs of a plow yet. That's understandable since we are--more or less--at the end of civilization. Above us there are only a couple of full time residences and I'm not sure whose responsibility it is to plow Mountain Ridge Road out to their places. I know the township crew goes to the intersection at the top of the ridge, but beyond that it's "No Winter Maintenance" to the west and, a short distance to the east, a different township and county.

After a fairly mild winter through the first of the year (the Christmas Blizzard stayed well to the east) we are certainly making up for it. Seems we had 2-3 inches of snow twice a week with incredibly low temperatures throughout January and the first week of February. Since then, after a week of thaw, the quantity of snow has increased dramatically.

AccuHunch says that after this round of snow stops sometime this afternoon, we will get another round of "nuisance" snow Saturday night. (Translation "nuisance snow" = about 2"). The good news, if you don't live on a flood plain, is that the temperatures will rise starting Sunday and all of next week will see highs in the area of 40 degrees and possibly even into the 50 degree range. The night time lows will be int he 20s. There might be some snow flurries at night but rain showers during the day. Those conditions will trigger some serious melting and possible stream and river flooding.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

True students of animal behavior!

At least that's the only explaination I can come up with for this.

Three Kenyans vs 15 or so lions. These guys have got cajones! Of brass! Armed with nothing but spears and bows, the Men (and it deserves a capital "M") decide to walk right up and steal a couple of haunches of meat from a lion kill.

I like my red meat but Holy Bejeebes!

Dr. Who Fans...Sad news...

The Brigadier (Nicholas Courtney) has Died. At age 81. After nearly 40 years of protecting Earth from aliens with--and giving aid to--The Doctor. At least six (6) different incarnations of The Doctor.

There's more at the link above but also here and here.
Courtney knew he was part of something special, and never stopped enthusiastically cheerleading for Who, attending conventions and taking part in numerous Big Finish audio plays. He was rightly proud to be defined by his defining role. The time-space continuum feels a little bit smaller without him in it.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Aerie Report, February 22, 2011

Gorgeous day here at the Aerie. It started out cold, just 2.5 degrees at 8:30 AM, but warmed up as the sun moved over the ridge. The high of 33 degrees was reached under a cloudless, deep blue sky at 2:30 in the afternoon. Water dripped off the southwest facing roof all afternoon and evening even as the temperature dropped to the teens. Not much melted off the driveway, however. That's still covered by a thin layer of snow left by the thrower.

The birds were back for the free buffet now that the snow has covered the fields again. Why should they hunt the hedgerows and weed heads for seed when they can get sunflower, thistle and even suet in one convenient location. There had to be 40-50 redpolls,plus the usual crowd of chickadees, juncos, mourning doves, blue jays, hairy and downey woodpeckers, and both red-breasted and white-breasted nuthatches. A pair of cardinals also showed up early in the morning and late in the afternoon. I could have done without the two starlings, however. Yeah, they look nice in their speckled plummage, but they always seem to show up in the flue pipe to the basement stove. Every spring I've got to remove two or three of them from the firebox.

Tonight they say the temperature will drop below zero which is easy to understand as there's no cloud cover at all. There's also little or no wind. Thank goodness. If there were, we'd be seeing wind chills down around minus 12-15 degrees.

I've had the fireplace burning since this morning so it's toasty warm in the house. I'll be keeping the fire going for a few more days at least.

Tomorrow is supposed to be a beauty again. Lots of sunshine and highs into the 30s. Already the foot of snow that fell Sunday night is starting to compact. A couple more days and we'll see the fields reappear if not the lawn around the Aerie. And while the temperatures will be moderating and we'll see the high 30s and even 40s over the next 15 days, there's at least a likelihood of rain showers for a third of that time.


....this could be Chester.
funny pictures - That's odd. These cushions should be level. Wonder why mine is so much lower?
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Monday, February 21, 2011


Terry and I just got done cleaning another healthy foot of "global warming" off the driveway and deck. Last evening the folks at AccuHunch kept upping the totals from 2-4, then 4-6, and up to 8-10 inches by the time we went to sleep at 10 PM--when it was j-u-s-t starting to fall.

At six AM we were awakened by our feline alarm clocks at which time Terry noticed the alarm clock was blinking indicating we had had a power outage a short time earlier. Then we got a phone call from the alarm company to inform us that we had lost AC power--the first of that sort of call we had received in a long time despite the powering flickering off and on three times for a few minutes each time about two weeks ago. Any way, we had to head down stairs and feed the cats by that time since they were howling at the door. It was then we noticed the deck held over 10 inches of snow and that it was still falling lightly.

I had no doubt that the snow thrower was going to get exercised today! And it did. The worst part about the job was all the loose gravel at the base of the snow. The thaw we had last week coupled with the salt I had spread on the ice to help it along its way resulted in the driveway still being unfrozen and loose. Still, by carefully maneuvering the chute and lifting the skids on which the front of the thrower runs, I was able to avoid chucking rocks at the truck, Jeep, house and Terry. And I only had to stop once when got one stone wedged in the impeller.

I also had to stop once to clear some frozen slush out of the chute after I had run though a large puddle of same along the side of the driveway. It surprised me that there was such a large puddle there since we had barely gotten up to 40 degrees on Sunday and came nowhere close to breaking 30 on Friday or Saturday. Even this morning it was just 15 degrees when we came downstairs. It struggled to get to 26 degrees at 1:30 this afternoon and then started dropping so that it was a mere 18 degrees at 2:30 PM when I wrapped up my work outside.

They say we'll be into the single digits tonight, the mid 20s tomorrow and then close to zero on Tuesday night with chances of flurries throughout that period before the sun makes a return late Tuesday. We'll be back into a daytime thawing mode on Wednesday that should last a few days so I'll just let Gaia take care of what's left in the driveway.

It's sad to look out over the lawn and valley below to see that all those exposed patches of grass that held out the promise of spring just a few days ago are once again under a foot of snow. But winter's back was broken last week. It won't be her forever...will it?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

It's Baaaaack!

The warm weather of the previous week has ended. Last night the winds shifted so as to be coming out of the north-northwest and they are howling with sustained winds at 25-30 mph and gusts up to 50-60 mph. Sounded like a freight train throughout the night and continues through this morning. The National Weather Service has issued a high wind warning that will remain in effect until this evening. With luck, it won't have to be extended beyond the 9 PM hour.

The culprits in creating this situation are a deep low pressure system over the Canadian Maritimes and a very high pressure system west of the Great Lakes. The huge difference in the pressures of these two systems means a narrow zone of very strong winds lies between them. And that's exactly what's passing over us now.

Accompanying these winds are bands of lake effect snow coming off Lakes Ontario and Erie. Normally such bands would not extent more than a hundred miles from the lakes' shores but the high velocities of these winds are pushing the bands even further out. We had a brief snow shower early this morning and the skies remain overcast and threatening.

The temperature immediately after midnight was around 36 degrees. It has fallen steadily since then and reached 22 degrees at 10:30 AM. We should not see them rise much above 30 today.

The local state park (Hills Creek) scheduled its Winterfest this weekend. Cold and snow are one thing, but the high winds will undoubtedly going to keep attendance down. I know it has discouraged me! They planned demonstrations on harvesting ice from the lake, ice rescues, and ice fishing among other things. They also planned to install some wood duck nesting boxes for which they asked the Audubon Society for assistance. It was for this reason I had thought to go out there, but they will have to do without my help.


The birds--or at least some of them--have returned to the free buffet. Easier to simply grab-and-go than have to forage for their own damn food, I guess.
Chickadees, Mourning Doves, White-breasted Nuthatches, Tufted Titmice, Common Redpolls, Blue Jays, and Dark-eyed Juncoes--the usual suspects.

Yukon Quest FInals

With Hank DeBruin and his team of nine dogs crossing the finish line in Fairbanks at 22:06 local time on Friday (that would be 03:06 Saturday morning on the east coast), the Yukon Quest is officially over. DeBruin's was the thirteenth team to complete the thousand mile trek from Whitehorse, YT to Fairbanks. Their official race time: 13 days, 10 hours, and 54 minutes.

Twenty-five teams started the race, which was won by Dallas Seavey with a time of 10 days, 11 hours, 53 minutes.

A listing of the final standing for the 2011 Yukon Quest can be seen here.

This is the first year I've followed the Quest closely after several years of closely watching the Iditarod. The conditions the racers faced as they left the Yukon River at Circle City and headed up over through the passes (temperatures down to -40 and -50 degrees with howling winds, chest deep overflows on rivers that had to be swum or detoured around, etc.) were formidable. While this (and the Iditarod) are races that pit teams of man and dogs against one another, it also pits those teams against the elements. Just to go the distance and finish the race is a tribute to the ability and intestinal fortitude of the participants. That said, there is no shame to be placed upon those who were forced to withdraw due to injury or tragedy along the trail. Realizing when you've been beaten, making a strategic withdrawal so as to preserve the health and well being of yourself and your team allowing the team to come back and do battle another day is an honorable decision.

To those twenty-five teams who left Whitehorse after months and months of preparation I say well done! And to the thirteen which managed to finish the race...well, I salute you ladies, gentlemen and dogs! Congratulations!

Now, on to the Iditarod!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Could it be....

Could it be that the pugnacious prognosticator Punxsutawney Phil of Pennsylvania was correct on February 2nd when he said spring would come early this year? We've been enjoying a robust period of thaw here at the Aerie since early in the week. We've not even seen the night time lows reach below the freezing mark since last Monday night. Today we had a low of 44 degrees over night and a high of 61 this afternoon. While both of those are higher than we've experienced during the rest of the week and much higher than the valley has had, they give you an idea of how mild it's been.

I can look down the hill upon the hay fields and pastures and see that the bulk of the snow has gone. Those fields were in many instances both windswept so that they had a thinner snow cover and spread with sun absorbing cow manure. Even the Aerie's lawn is becoming more and more exposed. Everywhere there was a stone wall or where I had shoveled a path is fast becoming bare of snow and ice.

The roof of the Aerie is likewise fast becoming a snow and ice free zone. Only a small patch of snow remains on the shed roof covering the porch on the southwest side of the house and a somewhat larger patch remains where the sun never shines in the valley adjacent to the main entrance on the northeast corner. At 60 degrees, however, neither patch has long to survive sun or no sun. The ice in the driveway has all disappeared and the annual spring puddle has formed along the uphill side. (This happens because the drainage pipe under the driveway--only 6 inches in diameter--gets clogged with ice and remains that way for some time due to the insulating nature of the gravel drive covering it.)

This spring-like weather can not, alas, continue. We are, after all, only into the third week of February. Forecasters are saying there's a cold front coming that will drop the overnight lows into the teens and possibly single digits again while limiting the daytime highs to the mid thirties until at least the first of March. That should be good news for those operating a sugar bush. The Maples need those alternating warm days and cold nights to keep the sap pumping up and down the trees.


Dang birds! For weeks I've had flocks of redpolls, mourning doves, chickadees, and such coming to the bird feeders and staying all day. Then the Great Back Yard Bird Count is supposed to take place and...NOTHING! I've seen no more than one bird at a time out there or in the trees around the yard all day. One hairy woodpecker, one downy woodpecker, one white-breasted nuthatch, and one crow that happened to fly by while I was on the deck. That's it from 8 AM until 3 this afternoon.

Either they too can read the notices much like the turkeys, bear and deer who disappear when the hunting seasons start, or they are out exploring those open fields for weed seeds and all the undigested grain in the spread cow manure.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


("Borrowed" from somewhere. Can't remember where.)

Seems about right. I know from observation that it (Common Sense) is a true rarity. While many in the general population appear to have little or none, it seems particularly to be lacking amongst the political class in D.C. (Which is ironic since D.C. Comics gave us so many of our comic book superheroes.) State houses and city halls under the control of Democrats and/or RINOs are also CS free zones.

GBBC this weekend!

The Great Backyard Bird Count is happening this weekend. If you've any interest in birds and birding here's an opportunity to be part of a citizen-scientist event sponsored by the Cornell Lab for Ornithology.

Participation is easy. All you need do is count the birds you see in your immediate surroundings for at least 15 minutes and send the results to the folks at Cornell. You can count for a longer period of time and you can do your counting on any of the four days (Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday). You can limit your count to your backyard or visit other likely birding spots nearby. Just be sure you send only one checklist for each location and for each day you count. (You have until March 1 to submit your lists.)

A full listing of the rules and links to send your bird checklist are found here.

If you;re a photography buff, there's also a GBBC Photo Contest.

And here's a GBBC link to associated activities for kids.

Big Brother is Watching!

A buddy of mine in New Jersey sent me a link to this story from WETM out of Elmira-Corning area of New York.

Spooked By Spokeo

Elmira, N.Y. – advertises itself as "not your grandma's phone book". Just type in anyone's name and you'll get their hobbies, their address, what their home is worth, their family tree and how about a map with an aerial view of their house?Michelle Magar of Elmira was shocked to learn she was listed on Spokeo.
She's not even listed in the phone book.

It is a bit spooky to have one company out there that's doing nothing but gathering up information about you and offering it to anyone who cares to 1) look it up 2) pay the $2.95 fee to get it all.

I checked out my name and found they had my former New Jersey address but not my PA address. Same with Theresa. My daughter, however was listed for both our former home and her present location with Grandma. My son had two addresses from when he was in U of Idaho and one in Portland.

The fact that the authorities in NY say that this appears to be legal, does not console me.

I've been trying to get my name off their list but keep getting a message about how, to avoid abuse, they are limiting the number of requests daily.

You might want to check out both the news story above and the Spokeo site Enter your name in the space and then see if you're among those listed. Remember to check previous places of residence as well as your current location.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


funny pictures - Today is a good day... ...even the sunshine smells good.
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Sunny and going up to the 40s today! (Although, currently, at a windy 28 degrees, it feels sorta chilly right now.)

We did get up to 37 yesterday, which was a pleasant surprise. I blame the lack of expected clouds and the bright, bright sun.

Yukon Quest: And the Winner Is....

Dallas Seavey checked into Fairbanks at 23:05 Tuesday night (I think that's about 3:05 EST) to become the winner of the 2011 Yukon Quest. The 24-year old Dallas is a "Rookie" in the eyes of the Quest folks, but he's been around. As a teen, he ran the Quest Jr. four times as he helped his father, Mitch (the 2004 Iditarod winner), train sled dogs, and in 2005 he became the youngest musher to run the Iditarod. Dallas' official elapsed time was 10 days, 11 hours, and 53 minutes.

A half hour or so later, Sebastian Schnuelle arrived to claim second place. An hour after that, Ken Anderson ended his run in Fairbanks. And Brent Sass should be the fourth man into Fairbanks barring any unforeseen disaster. Sass is currently about 30 miles from the finish line in the vicinity of North Pole, AK. (Brent Sass is not listed as participating in this year's Iditarod. The other three will be lining up in Anchorage on March 5th.)

Of course, having a winner does not mean the race is over! Even after Brent Sass gets to Fairbanks, there will be ten teams still out on the trail and, as Yogi might have said, it ain't over 'til it's over. (Current Standings are here.)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Aerie Weather fro Tuesday, February 15, 2011

We had a brief touch of spring-like weather Sunday into Monday but that faded late in the afternoon. Monday around noon the winds--which were roaring!--shifted to come out of the north-northwest instead of the southwest. The clouds rolled in and the temperatures started to drop. First out of the 40s then into the low 30s. (That's when the clouds spit out just a teensy bit of snow.) Then, after dark, the temperatures continued to hall into the 20s and finally the teens.

This morning we had clear skies, slightly subdued winds out of the north, and a temperature of 11 9 degrees. It won't break freezing today as the temperature will only get into the upper 20s so there'll be no melting today, but it will be sunny! The winds will shift again tonight and we'll get warmer weather the rest of the week...I hope.

Whatever the temperatures, just going to the Yukon Quest Facebook page will make me feel warmer. Reading about the -40 F and -50 F nights with howling winds, frostbite, hypothermia, and looking at spectacular photos that contain ice and snow as far as the eye can see (okay, that last part isn't much different from here) makes me feel warm all over as I sit here sipping my hot coffee next to the fireplace. And looking at the photos of the dancing Northern Lights at the Milepost 101 Check Point makes me want to be there, in Alaska and the northern Yukon and damn the cold and the dark.

Yukon Quest Update

Sunday I wrote about how Hugh Neff had what seemed like an insurmountable lead of 30 miles and nearly 6 hours over his closest competitor, Hans Gatt. As of late last night, both are out of the race.

Gatt, continuing to suffer from the soaking and unbelievable cold he experienced on American Summit, got a second drenching from some severe overflow on the trail heading into, I believe, Central. Frostbite started to affect his hands and he required assistance from musher Sebastian Schnuelle. When he scratched, Hans Gatt said he had stage two frostbite--think second degree burns--and his hands were extremely sensitive.

After Hugh Neff left Central at 4:11 AM Monday morning--more than eight (8) hours ahead of the #2 musher, Dan Kaduce (who left at 12:30 PM Monday), Neff seemed like a shoo-in for the winning spot. But that was before Eagle Summit threw its full fury at Neff and then Kaduce. First Neff found the going above tree line more than he and his team could stand, then his lead dog, Geronimo, fell in his traces.

Neff was eventually joined by Dan Kaduce, who had left his parka back at Slavens and whose team also found Eagle Summit to be too much. After being pinned down at the tree line just below Eagle Summit for hours and eventually being passed by Sebastian Schuelle, both Neff and Kaduce headed for the road and they and their teams were trucked into 101 Milepost Check Point where they are expected to scratch.

Weather and the Great White North have played havoc with this year's Yukon Quest. If/when Neff and Kaduce scratch there will be just 14 mushers and their teams of the 25 that started the race still on the trail.

Monday, February 14, 2011


When we got back from our lunch, we found we had not yet had a delivery of propane--as promised. Terry made a phone call while I spread more salt on the still icy portions of the driveway.

Terry talked to the people at the propane company and heard that they were not going to be here today. Then she went through the list of promises and phone calls we had been making. When she mentioned that I had been promised delivery today when I went to the office on Saturday and that we were now down to 10% on the tank's gauge, Terry was told that as soon as they got in touch with a driver, we would have a delivery.

And we did.

Our 500 gallon tank took 366 gallons. Doesn't sound like 10% but when the propane gets that low, you've got 1) very low pressure in the tank because 2) there's a lot of empty space.

The driver was kind enough to bring the bill to the door. He was an experienced driver who had made deliveries to our house before. He's of the old school who prefers the regularly scheduled monthly deliveries like they used to do over those made based upon degree days and previous usage. No one ever ran out of propane using regularly scheduled deliveries even if some of them may not have been large deliveries. The current method, he said, does not take into account secondary sources of heat, such as wood stoves, which are at best intermittent. Those secondary heating systems may cut propane usage for a couple of months pr a season, only to see the propane usage go way up when the homeowner stops or can't use it.

Even so, I told him, their current program is not working. My last delivery was back on November 30th. Their program should have gotten me a delivery quite some time ago. I should not have had to start calling two-and-a-half weeks ago. And when I did start calling, I should have gotten service sooner.

I've made my feelings known

Report on our Lunch Date

WE had a lovely lunch at the Yorkholo Brewing Company in Mansfield, PA. I was a little disappointed in the lack of choice in brews. They had such a successful weekend opening that they only had one IPA left! But it was excellent! A little darker than I expected and strong in flavor, I really enjoyed my pint. Terry's not one for beers so she tried their home brewed root beer and pronounced it excellent as well. We were told that they would have more beers available tomorrow. On the board behind the bar they had Creeper Dark Brown Ale, "Night and Day" Porter (made with a house coffee blend!), "Eddie" White Ale, Oatmeal Stout, and "Bungy" Blonde. (Bungy is a small village to the east of here.)

The menu is a bit scant--which we thought was a good idea for a place that's just starting out. They offer half a dozen different appetizers including crab stuffed mushrooms, stuffed portabello mushrooms, chicken wings, and onion rings. All priced between $5 and $10. Half a dozen different salads were also offered, including the house salad, a Caesar's Salad and a steak salad (strips of steak served atop the house salad) for from $5 to $12.

The dinner menu included steak, blackened cod, fried haddock, eggplant parmigiana, and chicken parmigiana. The prices ranged from $10 to $21.

There were only two sandwiches available for lunch: the Brewpub Burger ($9) and a grilled chicken with a chipotle sauce ($8). Terry tried the burger, I tried the chicken. Both were served on fresh baked rolls with homemade fries and a pickle. My chicken sandwich also had fresh lettuce, tomato, onion and steamed spinach. Terry's burger was cooked to her order and my chicken had a subtle smokey flavor enhanced by the chipotle sauce. We really enjoyed them both.

Everything on the menu is available during the the time that Yorkholo is open. All the beef is grass fed from local sources.

We'll be going back. But next time, we'll try the appetizers and salads. And, we'll be sure to get there on a Thursday or Friday when their stock of beers hasn't been depleted!

Wunderful Monday!

Well, now. No rain, clear if blustery skies and a thermometer that has gone up since 10 PM last evening. It was 39 degrees then and it's 43 degrees now. I'll take it!

Yeah, the rain would/could have helped the snow to melt a wee bit faster, but the sunshine is far more valuable right now in terms of Vitamin D and raised spirits. We got plenty of water laying on the storage, so to speak.


Terry and I will be going down to Mansfield to try out the new micro-brew cafe, Yorkholo Brewing Company, for lunch. They opened officially just this weekend.

It's a college town. In the middle of a booming gas industry. They do beer and burgers. Should be a success.

Have a nice Valentine's Day.

Now for a Different Valentine's Day song...

It's kinda catching.

(first seen at Maggie's Farm)

Happy Valentine's Day

First from Frank

and now from Ella

Working in a ...

For all those starting the work week...

Just the same, have a good week.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

More on Brent Sass and the Yukon Quest

I was wondering how Brent Sass lost 6 hours [Actually, the numbers may just be a little FUBAR. One place it says they were just an hour apart. Still, it doesn't detract from the rest of the Paul Harvey might have said.] to Hans Gatt when they both got into Eagle at the same time--give or take a few seconds. Looking at the leader boards indicated Sass left Eagle about half an hour after Gatt, but then things went badly for Brent.

A six hour a stop at Trout Creek was followed shortly thereafter by tragedy. One of Brent's wheel dogs, Taco suddenly fell dead in his tracks. This was a seasoned veteran of the trail. Obtained as a pup in 2005, Taco had completed the Yukon Quest twice as well as run many 200 and 300 races. Brent carried Taco's body in his sled some 60 miles to Slavens Dog Drop, the next check point in the race.

Sass will continue the race without a trusted companion on the trail; one with skill, fortitude, and experience. One who, earlier had helped save a human life. One he clearly loved and one who loved to race.

God speed Taco. As they say, all dogs go to heaven. I think you've earned your entry.

Yukon Quest, Heroism, and Sportsmanship

The race is now into its eighth day and there are still 19 mushers participating of the 25 that started the race.

Hugh Neff is the current leader and, with a six hour (and 30 mile) lead over his nearest competitor, seems well on his way to the winners circle in Fairbanks. Neff and team of 13 dogs (he's had to drop one of his starting 14 dogs) have completed 820 miles of the 1000 mile race.

The second musher in the race, Hans Gatt, won the Quest last year, is currently at 790 miles, but he nearly lost more than the race atop American Summit. He got soaked and turned around in confusion. When he felt hypothermia starting to set in, he set up camp and called for help--or, at least he thought he did. He pushed what he thought was the emergency button on his GPS but hit the reset button by mistake. He lay in his sleeping bag awaiting help that wasn't on the way when another musher, Brent Sass, found him.

Sass saw to it that Gatt got warm, hitched both sleds and teams together and got Gatt to the next check point at Eagle. After an hours rest, both mushers continued the race.

Sass and his 10 dogs is presently listed as in 8th place. They arrived at the Circle City check point (159 miles from Eagle) about 6 hours after Gatt and 2 hours after Gatt had already left with 9 of his dogs hauling his sled.

Did I mention that temperatures in the area fell to -40 or thereabouts? No need for either an F or a C after that temperature number. They are the same. Effing COLD! It has warmed up some during the day, however. It's presently -24 F at Circle City. That's -31 C if you care to feel colder. It will get down to around -49 F tonight. It will be warmer on the summits, only -25 F to -30 F. Those who are climbing the 75 mile switchback trail from Circle City to the Central checkpoint will appreciate that. (Or maybe not. Despite the switchbacks on the map, both check points have elevations between 950 and 980 feet. A closer look at the trail map shows the route follows a pair of wide river valleys. All those switches may be to follow the rivers, not to go up a slope.)

Fuel, Fools and (less) Frigid

Last Thursday I wrote that we were waiting on a propane deliver. Our last delivery was on November 30th and we were getting very, very low--now less than 15% in our 50 gallon tank. Well, they have been promising delivery but that promise has yet to be fulfilled. Thursday AND Friday passed without a tanker pulling into our drive. So Saturday morning I gave up calling and went down to see what the heck is going on.

As I suspected, they have a couple of new drivers. The older guys have found better jobs with the the gas drillers. The newer guys are inexperienced. When the last attempt was made (Tuesday or so) and the driver couldn't find the house, he didn't bother to call the dispatcher or my home phone. (Company policy is that he call the office...he didn't.) Why couldn't he find my home? The ticket for delivery had my address wrong. They used my PO Box number instead of my house number. We got that straightened out ad I was promised (yeah, worth the paper...etc.) that Monday would be a clean-up day for orders and that I could expect a delivery then. (There were no propane drivers on the road on Saturday, just one oil truck. The propane guys were at the gas wells where this same company is supplying heat to keep the fracking fluids from freezing as they pump them down into the shale.)

They have also changed the way they determine when and where they make deliveries. It used to be they would deliver every month whatever your needs. Now they use an industry program that uses the degree days and previous usage. This is supposed to prevent situations where the delivery is so small as to not make it economical. Needless to say, they are still fine tuning their calculations.

Meanwhile, I've been burning wood like crazy to ensure that the propane continues to provide for cooking and hot water. The fireplace manages to keep the house even warmer than it usual. We have the thermostats set to 63 degrees which is sufficient with our radiant floor system. The fireplace gets things to a toasty 68 degrees or so. The humidifiers are working overtime with this dry air the fireplace is pumping out, but that's okay.

You can bet that if I do not get a delivery on Monday, I'll be banging on the office door first thing on Tuesday.


On a related note, the very cold weather we've been experiencing has at least temporarily broken. It never got below 20 overnight and got up to 38 degrees this afternoon. It remains at 38 as I'm typing this (8:00 PM) and may not get below 30 overnight.

I spread ashes from the fireplace over the driveway in anticipation of sunshine that arrived too late in the day to do any extra melting, but the next two days we are supposed to see plenty of good old Sol (after a brief rain shower during the AM on Monday) and the temperatures getting into the 40s and possibly the 50s. That should help remove the ice from the driveway.

Although we still have over a foot of snow on the ground and much, much more where it's been piled up, the white stuff should be compacting and/or melting. It's already melting off the roof. It will be interesting to see what the ground cover will be like by next weekend.

I hate to say it, but I'm looking forward to mud season.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Cutting the Budget.

Before any of you buy into the rhetoric being spewed by Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the Dems about the "draconian" budget cuts being propose by the Republicans, you might want to watch this video:

Got it. That "huge" cut is just 3/4 of a shot glass out of 15 shot glasses--which used to be just 3-4 shot glasses prior to the Dems taking control of the House and Senate back in 2006.

That is all.

(Oh, and there's more over at Hot Air where I first saw this. Be forewarned, however. If you look carefully at the Pew poll, you may want to down those 15 shots. Very depressing.)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Mubarak Officially Resigns

Military takes over.

A day after saying he wasn't going anywhere until the September elections, Hosni Mubarak officially resigned as President of Egypt. He handed over the reins of government to the military.

(Still doesn't justify the statements made yesterday by CIA Director Leon Panetta, who apparently was getting his information from CNN, or Director of National Intelligence James Clapper who called the Muslim Brotherhood "largely secular.")

Jeeze, Leon

From Don Surber: Mubarak 1, Obama 0
So our CIA told President Obama that Hosni Mubarak would resign today.

Except, Mubarak did not resign.

In fact, Mubarak told the people protesting at Tahrir Square in Cairo, go home. I told you I am not leaving until after the September elections, and I am not.

How did Leon Panetta get it so wrong when he testified to Congress yesterday morning that there was a very high likelihood of Mubarak stepping down?

Report: CIA Chief Leon Panetta Based Congressional Testimony On Mubarak Departure On ‘Media Broadcasts’

You know. Perhaps hiring someone to the post of Director of the CIA just because he has the same name as the director of the fictional NCIS, is not such a wise move. We need folks in intelligence that are a little more accurate than those that forecast the weather. Having people publicly making forecasts/predictions/policy when they are correct only a third of the time is not the way to go.

Leon Panetta needs to become ex-Director of the CIA sooner than Hosni Mubarak steps down.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Weather, Outdoor Cookery,
and Indoor Heating

I mentioned early this morning that I woke up ...well..early this morning. At 4 AM to be exact. It was a rather brisk 7 degrees outside at that time and fell to 4 degrees by 8:30 AM before the sun made its way over the hill top and started to warm things up.

It got so warm that I opted to grill a nice big sirloin steak on the deck at noon when it was 16 degrees. It took a while to get the grill up to temps, but the wind was down so that helped. And the beef tasted great! with the baked potato and asparagus spears. And we had plenty of left overs for a cheese steak sandwich for our evening meal and even more for tomorrow's main meal. (Did I mention this was BIG sirloin steak?)

The meat is from the quarter of a steer we bought up near Amsterdam, NY last fall when it was becoming obvious that the deer were avoiding me. It had been previously butchered for a different customer who must have specified packages for a very large family. Very. Large.

Except for the ground beef (in one and a half pound packages) everything we've opened so far has been enough for four to six people. (Well, I guess if you're going to make 1/4 pound burgers, the chop meat would fit that description too.) But we're not complaining. To steal a little from Norm Abrams, wood worker, "Cook once, eat twice...or three times."

And this grass fed beef is tasty! It also is not marbled with fat the way beef out of a feed lot may be. There's just enough fat in the beef for flavor and enough on the outer edge so that the meat positively sizzles when it hits the pan or grill.


We've been waiting and waiting for a propane delivery. Called the gas company two weeks ago and was told, "The ticket has been printed, they should be there on Monday." Monday came and went with no tanker appearing. Then, a week later, we called again. "They'll be in your neck of the woods on Wednesday (yesterday)", they said. Wednesday passed without a delivery.

So this morning I checked the tank. I've got about 15% according to the gauge. Good thing I've got a fireplace and wood to burn or that 15% would have disappeared days ago. Then I called the gas company again. "The ticket is right here. The driver was up there yesterday and says on a note that he couldn't find the house."

Hell, we've been here since 2006, they have delivered fuel here since then, the house is quite large, AND there's a 911 mandated reflective sign on the road clearly showing above the snow bank in bright blue. I'm guessing they have a new driver since anyone with a CDL and one that's specially tagged for hazardous materials, can get any number of jobs right now with the gas drilling folks for more money--and bennies--than the family owned business has been paying.

Any who, I was told they will be here on Friday. I need the propane but hate to think of what the bill is going to be like to fill my 1K gallon tank.

If I hadn't leased my mineral rights, do ya thing I could drill for my own gas?

Temperature is dropping again. After a bright, clear day, we have a very clear night ahead of us. That means all the heat(?) the sun provided during the day--it got up to 20 degrees-- will escape into space. We might see that zero degree mark.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to go put another log on the fire.

Aerie Fowl: Cardinal

The Cardinal is a welcome though not too abundant visitor to our yard. We can count on seeing only one pair at a time and they are quite shy.

The male, shown here is a vibrant red with a black face and chin and is easily spotted in the world of gray tree trunks, white snow cover, and dark green of the fir trees. The female is about the same size but much more subdued in color. One might say she is camouflaged in shades of reddish brown that easily blends into the shadows as she spends most of the breeding period in the brush on her nest. Only her bright orange beak and her spiky top-knot are similar to the male.

They Cardinal isn't much smaller than the Blue Jays but is totally silent at this time of year. They are year-round residents who thrive on seeds and fruits. They really, really love my offering of sunflower seeds! Their largish size means they will stay on the ground or trays as I've not perched feeder that will afford them room. (I really need to build some more. *sigh*) They seldom come to the feeders in mid-day but will often be among the first to arrive in the twilight of sunrise and the last to leave at sunset.

Aerie Fowl: Dark-eyed Junco

The Dark-eyed Junco was formerly called the Slate-colored Junco. It comes in a few different shades or phases but the slate-colored one is the most common around here. There are different species of juncos all across North America but all are about the same in size" small, sparrow-like with a long tail. The Dark-eyed Junco is also sometimes referred to as the snow bird because it allegedly migrates from the north woods in the fall just as the snow appears. Some older bird guides will tell you they are not to be found around this latitude in the summer, but I've seen them all year long in the hedgerows along the edge of pastures and the weeds adjacent to dirt roads and tracks.

They are ground nesters and will use the cover of any fallen leaves, weed clumps, or trees roots to hide their nests. They also prefer to feed on the ground or trays and seldom try to get a seed from any of the hanging feeders.

Their pink bill and legs look absolutely frigid as they forage atop the snow. When they fly their tail fans out to show two long white feathers on each edge. Male and female look alike.

Dark-eyed Junco

Aerie Fowl: Mourning Dove

The Mourning Dove is another large bodied bird that comes to the feeders. Their subtle shades of tans and grays accented with black and white, make them a welcome guest. Their copious "deposits" and sloppy feeding habits are marks against them!

The male and female are identical in size and coloration, but come spring it's easy to tell one from the other as the males start chasing the females around the lawn. And they've got more than just billing and cooing on their minds! During the winter they are pretty silent but the gentle, plaintive "whoooo, whoooo" during the spring and summer are often mistaken by the novice for an owl.

The Mourning Dove is a year-round resident that forms pairs for mating, but will flock together to go to a food, water, or dust/grit source. We've had as may as two dozen at a time on the deck, on the ground and on the electric wires.

Mourning Dove on the deck tray feeder.

Aerie Fowl: Blue Jay

Frequent (and often noisy) visitors to the feeders, the Blue Jay often bullies the smaller birds away from the trays. The Jays are too large to feed by perching on the stick feeders, however, so there's enough for all.

For all their bullying ways, they are the first to leave if I put my coat on and step outside. They'll also sound the alarm should a stray cat or hawk wander into the area.

Their bright blue color in the winter landscape is a pleasant reminder that all is not just shades of black, white and gray.

We have a small flock of between six and eight Jays that often comes in to the feeders together. Male and female are identical in size and color. The Blue Jay is a year-round resident and seldom will fly very far from its nesting area.

Blue Jays at the deck tray feeder.

Blue Jay claims the feeder as its property.

Man! I hate when that happens!

"Early to bed, early to rise" is not a saying steeped in wisdom. It is a curse!

I went to bed early last night for no good reason other than there was nothing to watch on TV and I was bored with surfing the net and seeing much of the same-old same-old. I did a crossword, read a couple of chapters in a Jim Butcher novel (Academ's's Book Two in the series) and turned off the light just shy of 10 PM. Then, damn it, I woke at 3 AM for no particular reason and just could not fall back to sleep.

At 4 AM, using his ECP (Exceptional Cat Perception), Chester started to yowl at the door so I gave up and got up, got dressed and headed down stairs. Fed the cats their breakfast (tuna!--maybe Chester read the can) and heated up a mug of coffee. Then the lights went out--literally--three times in half an hour. Power loss was just long enough to cause the electrical clocks on the microwave and stove to start blinking and require resetting each time.

Once everything got back to order, I built up the fire in the fireplace and restocked the wood supply next to the hearth. Then I settled down to look at the web. The problem with getting up so early is that there's no one else up and all the posts are from before you went to bed. Except for those folks out in Alaska who have just gone to sleep when you woke up at 4 AM EST.

Checked Rev. Paul's site and Brigid had a new post at her's all about Revenge. Then I went over to the Yukon Quest site to see what was going on.

Michelle Phillips scratched at Dawson City. A little over 400 miles into the race, she was down to just 8 dogs and had the toughest part of the trail yet to go. Once they leave the Yukon River at Circle City, things get, shall we say, bumpy--and very, very steep.

Hugh Neff is the current leader. He left Dawson City at 3:35 AM local time a good three-and-a-half hours ahead of Hans Gatt. (Dawson City is a 36 hour mandatory rest so it's pretty easy to see who is ahead of whom at this point. Still, lots of time left and distance to go.)

It's now approaching 9 AM and I've had two mugs of coffee (approximately four cups total) and I'm ready to either get really active or take a nap. The problem with either of those two options is...well, four cups of coffee. Can't get too far from the toilet. (Coffee's fluids, like beer, are only rented.) Can't get to sleep. (Decaf is for sissies. Black. Strong. Unadulterated. The only way to drink coffee.)

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Vindication, but too late.

Remember those charges of runaway acceleration brought against Toyota? The ones that said numerous drivers had experienced their cars and trucks taking on a life of their own and causing them to accelerate out of control no matter what the driver attempted to do? Well, it seems after 10 months of rigorous testing by NASA engineers, among others, the primary suspect, Toyota's electrical systems, are not to blame.
After dissecting Toyota’s engine control software and bathing its microchips in every type of radiation engineers could think of, federal investigators found no evidence that the company’s cars are susceptible to sudden acceleration from electronic failures, the government said Tuesday.
Mr. LaHood and other officials were also quite diplomatic about a likely cause of the unintended accelerations — pushing on the accelerator instead of the brake. On Tuesday department officials called these “pedal misapplications,” and when a reporter asked if the problem was drivers making a mistake, Mr. LaHood shot back from the podium, “Nobody up here has ever insinuated the term that you used, driver error.”
Back when this exploded on to the news, many interviews with drivers and their attorneys searching for deep pockets claiming to have experienced sudden acceleration and been driven by their cars into accidents or traffic violations were aired or printed int he news. The news created great embarrassment for Toyota, forced them to have many recalls, caused Toyota's reputation for reliability untold harm and eventually had customers looking elsewhere for their next vehicle causing Toyota sales to suffer.

Will the news hounds now go back to those who made claims of sudden acceleration for a follow up? Will there be some mea culpa from those who pressured and smeared Toyota?

Nah, I don't think so either.

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds has more here with a link to a call by Walter Olson for some follow up.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Spider-Man review

Tell us what you really thought of “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,”, Ben.

I’m not kidding. The sheer ineptitude of this show, inspired by the Spider-Man comic books, loses its shock value early. After 15 or 20 minutes, the central question you keep asking yourself is likely to change from “How can $65 million look so cheap?” to “How long before I’m out of here?”
from Ben Brantley's review in The New York Times

Ouch! That's gonna hurt!

(I first saw reference of this review over at Ann Althouse's blog.)

Shoveled! (Again)

It took 3+ hours and Terry's one hour of assistance to get the driveway cleared using nothing but shovels. With the drifting and the inch or so from the previous snow, perhaps I should/could have used the snow thrower for a large chunk of the drive, but then the wind would have been blowing much of the thrown snow back at me.

It is done, however, and there's nothing more than a few flurries on either the 10-day or the 15-day Accuweather forecasts. We will be seeing some pretty cold nightly lows in the next few days. Zero and even negative digits are a possibility, if not at the Aerie, then certainly down in the valley.

It never got above 17 degrees while I worked, but I'm still soaked from the skin out from the workout I got.


Time to check in on the Yukon Quest again and see how Michelle Phillips is doing....
Apparently she's taking a rest a few miles short (currently at 352.6 miles into the race) of the Scroggie Creek Dog Drop (mile 354 on the route). She's been there for some time now. She was running as high as fourth, but this lay over has allowed many mushers to slip past her.

Tuesday morning at the Aerie, February 8, 2011

NWS wins, they forecast 2-4 inches of snow overnight and that's what we got. (Accu-hunch was saying only 1.5 but they underestimated this time.)

I'm starting to run out of places to put the snow along parts of the driveway. Luckily the long stretch of the drive has a steep embankment on the downhill (northwest) side. It would take a glacier to fill that sucker up!

Guess I'll be getting my exercise on the driveway this morning. With the temperatures at less than 20 degrees, I'll still work up a sweat. We're supposed to have nearly a week ofmostly sunny but very cold (20-25 high, single digit lows). Only a slight chance of either snow flurries or icy mix anywhere in the Accu-Hunch forecast for the week. I sincerely hope they've got it right this time.


Stepped on the scale this morning and was happy to see it read 224.2 pounds. That's a total of 8 pounds lost in five weeks. That may not sound like much but last week I had gained some 2 pounds, while this week I lost over three.

Let's Go to the Ballpark!

Just seven (7) days to Pitchers and Catchers!

Monday, February 07, 2011


The National Weather Service is calling for 2-4 inches of snow overnight. Accu-hunch folks are saying only 1.5 inches. In either case, it'll be over by sun up. Then, it'll be my turn. With the shovel.

Aerie Fowl: Common Redpoll

Late in December a flock of Common Redpolls started showing up. These small birds are from the Boreal Forests of the north. They migrate here when the northern winters get severe. A casual glance would make you think you were looking at an ordinary sparrow, but then you spot the bright red cap and the black goatee. The mature adult males have a reddish breast.

Here, these birds are ground feeders. They will go to the stick feeders on occasion--especially for the thistle seeds, but they much prefer feeding on the ground or the tray.

Common Redpoll

Common Redpoll

Common Redpoll

Aerie Fowl: White-breasted Nuthatch

One of the more dapper of the winter birds coming to the feeders is the White-breasted Nuthatch. With the sharp lines delineating its white belly, breast and chin from the slate gray and black of its flanks and back, it's a sharp looking bird. Oh...the birds has a rust colored rear end below the tail and behind the legs.

In the woods it feeds by climbing down the trunks of trees looking for insects, spiders and eggs. It comes to the feeders for both sunflower seeds and suet. It doesn't hang out on the feeders, however. Instead it comes in, grabs a seed taking it out to the trees. It will stay on the suet somewhat longer--if the woodpeckers will allow. Male and female are identical.

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

Aerie Fowl: Downy Woodpecker

We've been a heavily visited port of call for daily food since we put the bird feeders out in late November/early December (after the ears went into hibernation). This and the next two posts will document some of the species that have been here on a daily basis.

Let's start with the woodpeckers. We see two different ones, the Downy and the Hairy. Both look virtually the same but the Downy is about half the size of the foot-long hairy. In both species the male and female are similar in color but the male has a red patch of feathers on the back of his head. Both species will travel with flocks of other small birds such as Chickadees, Nuthatches, and Titmice.

Female Downy Woodpecker on suet feeder.

Female Downy Woodpecker on tree.

Looking at the black and white pattern on this bird, it's easy to see why it and it's look-alike larger cousin the hairy Woodpecker are sometimes referred to as ladder-back woodpeckers.

Let the Baseball Season Begin!

The Super Bowl has been played. The football season is over. Pitchers and catchers will be reporting in a couple of weeks. Perhaps it's time to reflect upon the difference between these two iconic and definitive American sports.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Green Bay 31, Pittsburgh 25

Congratulations to the Green Bay Packers upon the winning of their fourth Super Bowl title and their 18th NFL Championship.

This is only the third time that a 6 seeded team has succeeded in going all the way.

Oh, and Coca Cola had the best single commercial. I'm speaking of the animated one shown in the first half in which Coke is used to quench the thirst and dowse the fires of a fire-breathing dragon leading a horde as it attacks a fortress. Great animation.

The Bud Lite commercial featuring the very smart dogs was also pretty good.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Morning Report, February 5, 2011

Yesterday was indeed a carbon copy of Thursday. Bright sunshine and warm (36 degrees!). Thoroughly enjoyable. Except that the setting sun has moved far enough north on the horizon to shine in my eyes for the last hour of the day.

Today we were supposed to get 3-6 inches of snow, but it looks more like we will be getting sleet, freezing rain and rain during the day with a possibility of a little light snow after dark. It's that dreaded "wintery mix" that's no fun to be out in at all.


The birds (and squirrels) seem to know that foul (pun intended) weather is on the way. Dozens of common red polls have been flocking to the tray feeders, stick feeders, and the ground beneath the feeders searching for an easy meal. But they are only one of four or five avian gangs hitting the seed. There's the slightly smaller flock of goldfinches who are also looking for thistle seeds. The one or two dozen mourning doves intimidate the smaller birds on the ground. The roving band of a dozen or so blue jays will take no guff from anyone they choose to bully--or scare off with their screeching calls.

All of those birds act as cohesive units. Not so the juncos, chickadees, titmice, nuthatches or woodpeckers. Those are more loosely affiliated groups and sometimes resort to intra-species squabbling. The chickadees and nuthatches in particular are very individualistic. For them, it's much more every bird for itself as they swoop in, grab a seed and then swoop out to either devour the seed in the trees nearby or to cache it in the woods at some distance.


I've been running the fireplace the last couple of days and that's produced a real comfortable warmth in the house. The cats--or at least Shadow and Julie--certainly appreciate the warm air. One curls up on the love seat directly in the path of the warm air from the fireplace and the other stretches out on the carpet immediately in front of the hearth. Chester could care less. He curls up in his pet bed (the large one!) and stays there fast asleep all afternoon. Might be a warm spot in the floor's heating system--or it could just be he likes the fleece lining.


We're still waiting for the propane delivery we were told week ago last Thursday would be happening Any. Day. Now. We've got to be down to 20-25% in the tank by now. I'm going to hate looking at that bill!


While the Super Bowl is to be played tomorrow, there are several important sporting dates to remember:

The Yukon Quest starts today in Whitehorse.

Pitchers and catchers (at least the Mets' pitchers and catchers) report to Port St. Lucie on February 15--just 10 days away!

The Iditarod ("The Last Great Race on Earth") starts in Anchorage on Saturday, March 5, 2011.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Aerie Report, February 3, 2011

Glorious day here today. Sunshine, clear skies, temperature up to 30 degrees, no wind, and the sun didn't set until 5:30 PM, at which time there was a gorgeous rosy glow on the western horizon.... What's NOT to like?! After those clear skies help produce a low near 0 degrees tonight, tomorrow (Friday) will be a near carbon copy.

BUT (and there's always a "but") that ends very early Saturday morning--probably before dawn--when the next wave of snow hits from the southwest. Accu-hunch is saying 3-6 inches before it's over.


Speaking of Saturday...and snow....

The Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race starts Saturday in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. It's a 1000 mile race like the Iditarod (which starts March 5th in Anchorage, AK). The Quest traverses the road we were unable to travel this summer due to the Top Of The World Highway being washed out. Racers will leave Whitehorse and head north through Braeburn, Carmacks, Pelly Crossing, Dawson City, Circle City, Eagle, Central, Mile 101, and Chena Hot Springs on their way to Fairbanks, Alaska. Next year, the route will be reversed and the race will start in Fairbanks, AK, as it did last year. (They alternate the route which is appropriate since it is along the old gold rush mail route which was not a one-way affair like the Iditarod's race for serum/medical supplies.)

Last year's winner, (heading from Fairbanks to Whitehorse) was Hans Gatt who made it in 9 days and 59 minutes. Lance Mackey finished second a little more than an hour later. A few weeks later, they would reverse that order as Mackey won the Iditarod in 8 days, 23 hours and 59 minutes with Gatt coming in second after 9 days, 1 hour and 4 minutes on the trail. It was Mackey's fourth consecutive (!) Iditarod victory to go with four Quest titles.

I certainly hope there's sufficient snow for both races. I'll be following the Quest at the web site linked above.

Sleeping at Deer Camp

From my Florida cousin...

Sleeping with Bob

The guys were all at the infamous deer camp in Shirley, Maine. No one wanted to room with Bob, because he snored so badly. They decided it wasn't fair to make one of them stay with him the whole time, so they voted to take turns.

Well Mark slept with Bob and comes to breakfast the next morning with his hair a mess and his eyes all bloodshot. They said, "Man, what happened to you? He said, "Bob snored so loudly, I just sat up and watched him all night."

The next night it was Dennis' turn. In the morning, same thing, hair all standing up, eyes all bloodshot. They said, "Man, what happened to you? You look awful! He said, 'Man, that Bob shakes the roof with his snoring. I watched him all night."

The third night was Dave's turn. Now Dave was a tanned, older ex- Fire Chief, a real man's man ya know. The next morning he came to breakfast bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. "Good morning!" he said. They couldn't believe it.. They said, "Man, what happened?"

He said, "Well, we got ready for bed. I went and tucked Bob into bed, patted him on the butt, and kissed him good night. Bob sat up and watched me all night."

Wednesday, February 02, 2011


(And I do Not Mean "Winning the Future!")

Got the driveway and parking area cleared after three plus hours of snow throwing and shoveling. I was soaked when I finished but that was due to perspiration and not having snow whisked back at me as I worked. The breeze actually cooperated and fell to near zero mph at ground level. Way up above was a different story as the wind hurried clouds out of the southwest at very high speeds.

Temperatures on the deck got to 37 degrees while I worked and water dripped from every branch that had received a coating of ice during the night. The sun came out (briefly) to melt the ice off the Tundra. All was looking good!

Then at 2 PM everything went dark. Heavy clouds appeared over the mountain and they bore wet snow and ice pellets that rattled off the windows as the wind whipped them along parallel to the ground. It looked ominous!

This forced me to look at the radar. Sure enough, the storm is hardly over. It's just lingering to the west and streaming up from Missouri and the Ohio River valley. The forecast says it won't amount to more than half an inch but the temperatures are falling. Down three degrees in the last half hour.

I don't know if it's just me or what, but the sound of sleet/freezing rain pelting against the window panes produces a chill down my spine similar to that others feel from fingernails on the chalk board. (That never bothered me, much to the displeasure of my students!) And it doesn't matter what the temperature is outside or in.


Punxsutawney Phil did NOT see his shadow this morning. (To which I say, "DUH!" It was snowing in Punxsutawney this morning. I'd feel better about that "early spring" forecast if Phil were correct more than 39% of the time. (That's his actual record, BTW. Just 39%. Might be pretty good if he were a major league hitter, but as a prognosticator? Thirty-nine percent stinks!)


We're still awaiting a delivery of propane. The tank was down to 30% when I checked last Thursday and our service provider said the slip had been printed and we should get a delivery this week. It's gonna be a costly one!

Oh well, guess I'll be building another fire this afternoon/evening.

Na na, na na na...

Missed us!

We didn't get the multiple inches of snow forecasters said were heading our way. That slid to our north some. Instead we got a light coating of stinking ICE. The squirrels are okay with that. They can now run over the snow without sinking in over their heads.

Me? I'd rather have the snow. It's much easier to blow/shovel snow than it is the ice encrusted stuff we have now. Oh, I'll break out the snow thrower anyway as it will be easier than the shovel, but I'll probably have to go back over the driveway with the shovel when I get through. *sigh*

The stiff breeze (can't really call it "wind") will make throwing snow an adventure. I'll probably look like the Michelin Man/Frosty the Snowman/Stay Puff Marshmallow Man when I get done.

The temperature is currently hovering around 31 degrees but that breeze makes it feel lots colder than the 16 degrees we had when I was outside last evening.

Luckily, the ice was not as thick as points elsewhere. I can see a coating on wires and branches but not enough to bring 'em down.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

For Teresa

Who says today was as bad as Monday.

Well, maybe not tomorrow. But the sun will come out soon. Won't it? Please.


It's winter time in Pennsy
And the gentle breezes blow
Seventy miles an hour
At five degrees below.

Oh, how I love Pennsy
When the snow's up to your butt
You take a breath of winter
And your nose gets frozen shut.

The weather here is wonderful
So I guess I'll hang around
I could never leave Pennsy
Cuz I'm frozen to the ground!

(More) Foolishness at the EPA

Can we just defund the EPA now? (And that's being said by one who's wife used to work there.)

EPA approves more ethanol in fuel for cars
It faces strong opposition, however, from the auto industry, environmentalists, cattle ranchers, food companies and others. Those groups say that using corn to make ethanol makes animal feed more expensive, raises prices at the grocery store and tears up the land. There have already been several lawsuits filed against the EPA - including one filed by automakers, boat manufacturers and outdoor power equipment manufacturers - since the agency decided to allow the higher blends for newer cars in October.

They snuck this through the cheer leading Lame Stream Media two Friday evenings ago.

E15 Gas: A green disaster for your car
The existing 10% ethanol-blend gas has problems, but the good folk at Popular Mechanics are concerned about what happens when a few drops of water get into the fuel tank when E15 is used:

How does water get into the fuel tank? It’s possible that water dripped into the tank at the gas station or ­refueling depot, or a stray raindrop or snowflake made its way into your tank or jerrycan, but most water infiltration is from condensation. As the temperature in a tank changes, air has to be vented in and out or the tank will bulge or split. Incoming air carries moisture. When the H2O in the gas gets above a critical percentage—its saturation point—all of the water and alcohol drops out and settles into the bottom of the tank. This is what chemists call phase separation; the various components of the fuel are no longer a homogeneous mixture.

I've some experience with water-in-fuel problems. E10 has a shelf life just slightly longer than a banana. And once it starts to separate, it does no good at all. Even the special Sta-Bil additive doesn't do much when we're talking storing fuel for several months in unused cans or fuel systems.

Since I don't use my snow blower at the Bolt Hole during the summer or early fall, its gas tank and fuel system regularly amasses water in the bottom as it sits in the very humid air of the detached garage. Mark reports it cost $280 just to get it running again this year. And the seals and gaskets are pretty well shot from water in the system freezing, he says. I used to have a similar problem with my lawn mower in the spring until I moved it into a dryer shed and made sure the gas tank was overflowing before storage.

The ATV has had similar problems with water accumulating in the fuel tank as the E10 separates over the winter while the machine is not in use. I have to drain the bloody gas tank to get it running again. I have to do the same for the brush hog stored with the snow thrower at the Bolt Hole.

And don't ask me about using E10 to run my chainsaws.... Please.

I won't even touch upon the cost of producing ethanol from corn. You can get that from the green disaster post linked above.

Amusing Snow Thoughts

Gwynnie over at Maggie's Farm has posted and oldie but goodie in the form of
Diary of a Snow Shoveler...

Go ahead and read it. If you live in the Northeast, you may find it amusing. Or not.

I swear, I'm not that guy.

A Story of Heroism

From Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit:

ONE GURKHA VS. 40 THUGS: He had them outnumbered.

And, from the linked post:
"... He pulls out a kukri (i.e. a knife) and proceeds to kill 3 of them, injure 8 of them, and causes the rest to flee. During the battle, he suffered a severe knife injury to his left hand, from which he's now recovered.

.... Maybe it's okay to bring a knife to a gunfight, after all."

Well done! Mr. Bishnu Shrestha, a 35 year-old Gurkha soldier.

Rising and Falling

Weight and snow/ice/sleet, aka weather.

Despite shoveling the drive three times last week (that's a two hour workout each time) and trying to be careful, I gained 2.1 pounds.

I find it difficult to lose when Terry gets the urge to cook. Chicken paprikash, chicken with fettucini primavera, homemade pizza, halibut with orzzo, breakfast at the fire hall, and biscuits and gravy. And Jess brought a tray of homemade chocolate fudge. Trust me, they were all good, but not exactly low cal.

Oh well. I'm still down a little under five pounds since January 4th.

Snow was falling heavily at 7:00 this morning but has temporarily stopped. We've go about three inches on the ground. Radar shows that the bulk of the precipitation is currently sliding to the south of us. It can stay there for all I care, but the forecasters seem to agree that it won't. We'll get more. Lots more. Late this evening and through the night. Hopefully it will be more snow but some are saying ice is on the way in at least two periods--one today and another tomorrow afternoon. At least one forecast says that sh*t will stay down around I-80.