Sunday, March 24, 2013

Bits and Pieces

Terry and I made another trip into New Jersey yesterday. She with her aching knee due for an MRI later this week and me with TWO sore knees. It was our intention to get (almost) everything of Jess' out of Mom's upstairs rooms as physically possible and we succeeded. There are one or two boxes left in the attic along with some computers (Jess' and Rick's), and a desk and chair which we could not get down the steps on our own, what with Terry's complaining knee and my, by then, aching knees AND back.

We got to Mom's on the right day. She was making cookies and perogies and we got to take some of each home.

We'll be going back next weekend to get the desk and chair with help from cousin/buddy Joe who will be visiting family for Easter. With his help we should get the desk downstairs and into the back of the truck in no time.

The weather was just gorgeous for our ride. We left around 7:15 AM (the one time the cats DID NOT wake us early!) had to wait for a flock of turkeys to clear the road on our way to Route 15 and enjoyed watching the thermometer in the truck climb as we drove east. From 18 degrees at home we got to 48 at Mom's. Traffic was either nonexistent or moving smoothly the entire time both heading east and then west. The only problem was the damn sun was in my eyes in both directions but that was a small price to pay for a beautiful day. When we got home we learned that the temperature never got much above freezing-again, so there was still too much snow on the lawn. (This time of year, one inch is too much!)

Everything we brought home is out of the truck and waiting to be hauled down stairs or up. This will be done a wee bit at a time as I'm the one whose going to be doing it!


The weather is still trying to screw with us here in the Northern Tier. The latest prediction from AccuHunch is for 1-3 inches of snow from tonight through Monday evening. is a little more hesitant in its forecast hinting that the mess they call Virgil might slide to our south. Might.

Currently it's just above the freezing mark mostly sunny with a thin layer of clouds moving in. A light breeze is blowing from the ESE according to the windmills I can see.


I cracked open the final bag of sunflower seeds this morning. This is the tenth of the winter. If we had been home during Mardi Gras it would have been long gone by now. The culprits are squirrels and hordes of Common Redpolls. We've had a dozen or more gray squirrels on some mornings raiding the feeders. And when they leave, there have been 50 to 75 Common Redpolls out there along with the usual Chickadees, Titmice, Nuthatches and Mourning Doves. Some days I've had to refill the feeders twice.

Redpolls are a species usually found in the Boreal Forests where they eat pine and fir seeds as well as weed seed. (They love the thistle I put out too.) They usually stay well to the north of us unless the seed crop is really bad or the weather exceptionally cold. They should be heading north by now, but here they stay. Either they really, really like sunflower seeds or they know more than Punxsutawney Phil.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

About that "Affordable Care Act"...

Yeah, it's neither "affordable" nor providing much "care."

When I was growing up, I was always told to be sure to read the whole contract--including the fine print--before I signed anything. You never know what's in there until you read it and, by gum, the Devil is in the details.

Too bad our "betters" don't follow the same practice. It seems Democrats at both the state and federal (I inadvertently typed "feral" here. Purely Freudian, I'm sure.) level are beginning to notice that the Affordable Care Act may have been misnamed. At the very least they realized it's not going to do what they thought it was going to do.
Still, Democrats are becoming disillusioned at the law’s failure to achieve its ideal of quality health care for every American that doesn’t add to the deficit, reduces medical spending, and promises employees the right to stay on the company plan. And so they’re trying to clean up the mess they’ve made.

For decades, critics of the American health care system have identified two major flaws in its design. First, there is the problem of universality. Not everyone has health insurance. ...

Second, there is the problem of affordability. ...

The Affordable Care Act was sold as a way to solve both problems. What it really does, though, is extend, sloppily and expensively, a right to health insurance to all. It’s a law that deals with the universality problem, not the spending problem. The cost-cutting measures it does contain are mainly experiments that will take years to evaluate. Yes, the rate of growth in health care costs has remained stable for the last three years. But that is more likely the result of the recession, and of experiments in private networks, which began before Obama-care. Most of Obama-care has yet to take effect. The problem of rising health costs remains.

And liberals are noticing. ...
You can read the rest of the article by Matthew Continetti in the Weekly Standard here.

Perhaps if they had read the damn thing before they rushed it through the Senate and the House when both were under the Democrats' control some of the problems now coming to light could have been avoided by--you know--NOT PASSING THIS MONSTER IN THE FIRST PLACE.

But, hey! That's crazy talk!

Oh, and Mark Hemingway says the unions aren't too happy with Obamacare either.

Delayed Spring.

So, last evening just after the sun set I stepped out on the deck and heard the first Woodcock of the year. That caused me to write this on my Facebook page:
Aah! Spring must be near. I just heard my first Timerdoodle (aka Woodcock) of the year "peent" in the field across the road. Then the twittering flight as he rose to attract a mate. Hope the poor bugger doesn't get too cold and lonely tonight!
And, of course, his evening it's snowing. *sigh*

Not much snow falling and we shouldn't get much in the way of accumulation, but it's been falling in varying intensity all freakin' day there's enough to be annoying. Everything is white again and that just makes it feel colder than the 27 degrees we've currently got or today's "high" of 30 that we had around 4 PM.

The two week forecast shows highs in the upper 30s to low 40s (they took the 50s out yesterday) with overnight lows in the 20s and even the teens. This is good news for the maple sap collectors in their sugar bushes, but not much comfort to those of us looking longingly at our gardens.

Phil predicted an early spring but it appears he may have been working part time as an economic forecaster for the Democrats. Spring and recover are both delayed.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Gun Control Tomfoolery

In which I give vent to a rant...

If, as the saying goes, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, then perhaps Senators Feinstein and Schumer are certifiable.

Each has crafted a gun control bill that is unlikely to 1) be passed by both Senate and House and 2) be upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court.

Senator Feinstein is the authoress of the “Assault” Weapons Ban of 2013.

Feinstein has proposed a ban on 157 different models of assault weapons. Many of them are commonly used, which means that, under the Supreme Court’s decision in Heller, banning them is problematic in terms of the Second Amendment.
She threw a hissy fit when asked by fellow Judiciary Committee member Senator Cruz whether this might cause the law to run afoul of the Supreme Court’s decisions. *sigh*

Chuck Schumer added several amendments to his push for stricter background checks, S.372. Some of them would make it a felony should you 1) leave your guns at home with a roommate or anyone other than your legally recognized spouse if you, the registered user, were to be gone for seven days or more, 2) loan your hunting rifle to a friend while you are out in the field, 3) dare to take more than 24 hours to report the theft of a gun from your home. It leaves the definition of “temporary transfer” and “gift” to be determined.

(See "Amendment to background check legislation reveals Chuck Schumer’s America" and "Schumer's Transfer Tyranny")

Of course, these and other bills being considered are “common sense” laws designed to “protect the average citizen” and, of course, just like the last “Assault” Weapons Ban—passed in 1993, in force for 10 years and did nothing to reduce the criminal use of guns—they will do nothing of the kind. Criminals do not obey gun control laws that are already on the books. What makes these idiots think more laws will bring about any compliance from the criminal community?

The one thing--the ONLY thing--these laws are designed to do is the ONE thing the 2nd Amendment says the government should NOT do and that is to "infringe" upon the right of the average, law abiding American to keep and bear arms.

It's not truly about guns. It's all about control. And it must be halted.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Prodigal Returns

It's alive!

Yeah, I've been AWOL from this blog for far too long. No excuses as there are plenty of things to write about. Politics, economics, religion, environment, etc. I just haven't been able to focus on any one of those without getting really, really angry long enough to make coherent statements.

Let me start off with some personal stuff.


Jessica seems to have settled into live on the west coast pretty well. She and Jake (her cat) have made some friends and she's found a job to help pay her bills.


Terry's cousin Joe (my fishing buddy) and his wife (Pat) have become grandparents...again. Son David and his wife, Eliza have a baby added a baby girl, Eleanor Gray, to the clan. She's their first. This one is in Maine and is number four. Everyone is doing just fine.


Terry has done something to her knee. She’s tweaked it a few times this winter shoveling snow and hauling boxes and bags of Jessica’s stuff down the stairs at her mother’s but something she did the other day really did her in. Whether it was sliding on some ice, playing limbo to get under a garage door that likes to play games, or what, Terry’s definitely hurting. She went to the doctor’s yesterday and then for an X-ray. The doc speculated it might be arthritis (Welcome to my world!) but the X-rays showed nothing: no meniscus tear, not bone-on-bone, no ligament tears, no soft tissue issues, etc. They are booking an MRI to get a better look at the soft tissues.


Mitch Seavey has won the Iditarod on Tuesday night with a time of 9 days, 7 hours, 39 minutes, and 56 seconds. This is his second victory in The Last Great Race since he started racing in 1982. Seavey is 53 years of age and last won in 2004.

Aliy Zirkle came in second for the second consecutive year. She and her team were just about 24 minutes behind Seavey.

The race continues with only 36 of the remaining 54 teams having reached Nome. (Of the 66 teams slated to start the race, twelve have scratched or been withdrawn.) The current Red Lantern (last place) team belongs to Bob Chulpach, aged 63. Bob ran his first Iditarod in 1977 and, while he hasn’t raced every year since, he has managed to race in at least one race in each decade since. He’s run three in the ‘70s, four in the ‘80s, two in the ‘90s, one in the ‘00s (Exactly how do you say that, anyway?), and now two in the ‘10s. That’s five (5!) decades of racing. He’s finished all 11 races and has one Top Ten finish (1982). He left Unalakleet at 11:55 this morning Alaska time. That’s some 270 miles from the finish. I hope he can make it before they roll up the streets and pull him from the race.


We enjoyed a couple of days of near spring-like weather late last week and thought we might have turned the corner on winter. The bastard sped up, however, and has overtaken us again. Today we awoke to a dusting of snow that covered the newly exposed lawn and deck and a temperature of 16 degrees. While it never got above freezing today, we did get close enough and enough sunlight to get rid of nearly all that white stuff.

The warm weather we had brought some new-for-the-year birds. Aided by a southern wind we got some Robins and Red-winged Blackbirds in the yard. I also heard some Killdeer at the farm down the hill. I’m still waiting for the first Woodcock to show up. They may be here but the strong winds the last couple of evenings (out of the north) may have kept them hunkered down instead of doing their “peenting” and twittering mating flights.

We did have a solitary hen turkey visit the bird feeders four consecutive days. She picked at the seeds the squirrels spilled from the feeders for several hours each visit, but on her last visit two days ago one squirrel attacked her and drove her off. Either that attack or the cold temperatures have convinced her to look elsewhere for her morning chow.

Hen turkey scratches for seed.

Bronzed back and mottled wing feathers make good camo for a ground nester.

Even a drab hen turkey has some amazing color patterns on her wings and back. She may be lacking a beard, wattle, snood, spurs, and a blue-and-red head, but she's still gorgeous.


I'm still waiting for the first black bear to show up. Several couples at the photography club last Tuesday mentioned that their bird feeders have been hit by bears (probably males as they "wake up" earlier than females with cubs).  We have had a raccoon come to visit. I didn't see it but it raided the suet feeder before coming up on the deck. It left muddy foot prints as it went to check the feeders on the rail.


Well that's about all for now. I'll be back soon with some thoughts on more serious topics. If I can keep my BP under control.