Sunday, April 29, 2007



While we were visiting the neighbors during Saturday night’s camping adventure in Mohican State Park this pesky raccoon raided our picnic table and scurried noisily into the night with a half-full bag of potato chips.

In addition to the hijinks of the clever raccoon our terrific event featured the discovery of lots of beaver activity, some fishing, some bicycling, and two ambitious hikes along the Mohican River.

Son Brian and grandson Dane accompanied me on this inaugural outing for my camper. While they endured the rather primitive sleeping accommodations of the back of a pick-up truck I was pampered in the relative luxury of a warm camper with a hot shower in the private bath and breakfast with hot coffee via the microwave while the stereo played background music to celebrate Sunday’s sunrise.

Saturday night’s dinner featured Brian grilling bacon-wrapped filet mignon.

The camper was just paroled from winter storage so this was the first opportunity to check the operations of its multitude of components.

It performed flawlessly.

Did I mention the yummy fillets?

I hope this gets to be a habit.


Babe Ruth’s career record of 715 seasonal home runs in major league baseball was established in 1935. It stood until eclipsed by the awesome performance of Hank Aaron who wound up with a total of 755 in 1976.

Yes, both Ruth and Aaron are in baseball’s Hall of Fame—as they should be─and, records are made to be broken.


Now comes this guy Barry Bonds who is about to shatter Mr. Aaron’s record. However, Bonds’ effort carries the pungent stench of allegedly being done with performance enhancing drugs: steroids.

That is no less an offense against the history of baseball that Pete Rose’s gambling which has carried the penalty, for him, of exclusion from the hall of fame.

Until the cloud of Bonds’ performance being tainted is removed, his record(s) should be a mere footnote in baseball history.

If it is true use of these drugs has infected many of today’s crop of record setting athletes, then baseball’s currently untarnished records should be frozen and all future, artificially enhanced performances should be disregarded.

And, their perpetrators should likewise be barred from the hall of fame so it continues to be a place occupied only by athletes with a lifetime of honorable, human achievement on and off the playing field.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


The lawn area is painted by the vibrant green of Spring as Max hikes the toboggan run trail.

The photo at right depicts a natural means of reproduction. The object is made of a woody-like fiber and found in a variety of designs, often in great abundance, in a coniferous setting. Max can see lots of these in the upper picture.

Of course, it is a close-up peek at a pine cone.

When pine cones are first produced they usually are green and closed tightly. As they mature they will dry to a brown color and open somewhat like a concentric Venetian blind, thus allowing the winged-seeds within to be scattered by the wind to form the progeny of our future pine forests.


Momma and Poppa Canada Goose are celebrating the arrival of five chicks that hatched in their island nest Friday. No chick shower has been announced.


Sunday’s blog posting likely will be delayed. A camping trip is scheduled to commence this afternoon and the destination campground does not have internet service. Please check back Sunday afternoon. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Friday, April 27, 2007


This picture is currently making the rounds of forwarded emails and, if it makes your blood boil, it should.

Nothing is ever flown above our flag on US soil and our flag is never flown upside down except to signal distress.

Other photos accompanying this one show Mexican-appearing young people hoisting the Mexican flag above the US flag at a California high school--more than a year ago.

They were high school aged students protesting US immigration policy. Read more here:

While we tolerate free speech, and, even though this is old news and the students did not attend the HS pictured these photos are nonetheless conduct that should infuriate patriotic citizens of our country.

They certainly do that to me!


The best way for astronauts to train for the weightlessness of space (zero gravity) is to be flown through a parabolic arc in a spacious aircraft.

When I did it years ago at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, OH the air force used a modified version of a KC-135 tanker; a large, four engine jet aircraft.

Except for a few rows of seats, the cabin was stripped and the entire inside of the fuselage was heavily padded.

At an altitude of 30,000 feet the pilot would dive gradually to pick up airspeed. He would level, then under full power, climb; thus producing the up-slope of the parabola.

As the aircraft began to lose airspeed, he would gently push the nose over toward another dive, and, viola; weightlessness for about 30 seconds.

(Remember how your tummy feels funny when you drive fast over a small, elevated road surface, then sink on the other side. Same thing. Smaller scale.)

On the Dayton flight we sat on the padded floor in flight suits, holding a paper cup half full of water as the first climb began. As the pilot nosed over at the top of the arc, my body slowly floated off the floor of the airplane. I giggled.

At the same time little globs of water floated out of the cup and simply drifted with me as I did random, mid-air pirouettes. I giggled some more.

I had complete control of hand and leg motions, but, absolutely no control of my body as it gently caromed off other participants or various parts of the airplane interior. I felt like a pin ball in slow motion.

Then, a bell would ring, warning participants to attempt to get close to the floor as the parabola was concluding. One way or another, on the floor was where you would be seconds later.

Still giggling.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


This seasonal travel, often over great distances, is another amazing performance by Nature’s flying critters.

I was reminded of this semi-annual phenomenon when I recorded my last Junco here April 21st. Then, poof! After being winter-long visitors, I have not seen one since.

Juncos are common in almost the entire lower 48 states all winter, but, they scurry north when mating season arrives in mid spring. There they will populate virtually all of Southern Canada, extending as far north as the Yukon Territory and Alaska.

Another reminder came April 24th when the first Rose Breasted Grosbeak arrived. This handsome fellow very wisely spends his winters as far south as Venezuela and Peru. His breeding range extends across the Eastern US and most of Canada.

Soon, the Ruby Throated Hummingbirds will return here for the summer. Their seasonal preferences mirror the grosbeak.

The grand prize for migration goes to the Arctic Tern who spends breeding season in the northern Arctic then flies across the Atlantic Ocean and south along the European and African coasts to Antarctica where it is summer down there and their food is plentiful.

The photos are a junco(L) and a grosbeak from Oseaux.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The space station is shown above partly cloudy skies over the Caspian Sea. The long, dark rectangles are solar arrays which capture the sun’s energy to help power the station. It measures 240’ across the solar panels, 146’ long and 90’ tall. It contains 15,000 square feet of living space and weighs over 471,000 pounds. (NASA Photo).

One recent evening I watched the space station glow gently across the northern sky. It looks like a bright star passing at about the speed of an airliner.

I still get a tingly feeling on such occasions while remembering space-faring pilots and scientists are aboard and, no doubt, looking westward at the rapidly setting sun—their 16th sunset of the day.

You see, they are traveling about 17,000 miles per hour approximately 250 miles above the Earth and orbit our planet every 90 minutes. Consequently, sunrises and sunsets are a fairly common occurrence for them.

On this evening the station was visible about 10 degrees above my northern horizon and traveling easterly. The path of each orbit varies. This time it was actually flying over the ground directly above the province of Ontario Canada.

This particular ground track passed over the southern tip of Hudson Bay while I watched.

Information about visible orbits is available here:

When you get to this page click on the top right panel which says: “See the ISS in the Night Sky”.

You will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


A man and his mate sailed out of NY harbor Sunday in a home-made 70’ boat in an attempt to sail a 1,000 day expedition, circling the world. The boat is a two masted, gaff-rigged sailing schooner named “Anne” after the skipper’s mother.

They will not refuel, nor resupply, in fact, not pull into any port in the record setting attempt during which they will circumnavigate the globe four times in nearly three years of continuous sailing; virtually always out of sight of land.

You can join the pair on this historic voyage through the skipper’s blog at

More information on the attempt is available on the expedition’s web site at

Tune in for what sailing pros have described as one of history’s greatest tests of human endurance.

Monday, April 23, 2007


I bought a used camper last October. Since it was quite cold by then, my first real travel experience with it is just around the corner; if Spring ever arrives, that is.

Plans call for a shake-down, overnighter later this month in our local Mohican State Forest. That will be a test run to check utility hook-ups. Appliances also will get a good workout.

In May I am hoping to camp three or four days at East Harbor State Park on Lake Erie. This outing should reveal any shortage of supplies which I have been working to accumulate over the winter.

The camper is planned to be self sufficient; needing only a quick stop at the grocery as each expedition is launched.

Not only is the East Harbor area a mecca for tourism, cousins Brad and Karen Crownover live close by and are due for a visit. And, I have several sailing/boating friends who dock in the area. Naturally, a wee bit of fishing could erupt on this outing as well.

With those tune-ups behind me I suspect my first prolonged outing will be a week or so in June with a jaunt along the Ohio River from East Liverpool to Pomeroy, where I will head back North and spend a few days in the Hocking Hills.

I expect to travel well equipped with toys like fishing gear and a bicycle. The camera and laptop computer also will travel along and allow me to chronicle the adventures with daily blog posts.

I hope you will be able to tune in, and ride along—so to speak.
The inside of the camper has a front dinette and a middle kitchen with an oven and microwave (the black appliances on the left) and a refrigerator/freezer (double doors on the right). The circular white things on the ceiling are speakers for the built-in stereo.

I’m sitting on a ¾ size bed to shoot this picture and a small, but fully equipped bath is to my left. Yup—it’s not exactly roughing it

Sunday, April 22, 2007


I concluded my transaction at the convenience store then stared at the blank expression on the young clerk’s face.

“You’re welcome,” I said pointedly.

“Er, ahh, absolutely,” she finally sputtered, somewhat intelligibly from her gum-masticating mouth.

Can you see my eyes rolling as I left the store, wondering what has happened to both, the laws of civility and proper grammar.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Poppa Canada goose idles away his time while Momma tends her clutch on the pond’s island. With an incubation period of 27 or 28 days, her “due date” is early next week. The young geese attain flight after 8 to 9 weeks.

Before 1950 these geese were only known as migrants or winter visitors in Ohio. Then, in the early ‘50s the Ohio Division of Wildlife initiated a program to establish resident flocks within the state.

I would be happy to provide the Division with all the goose manure they might need to fertilize their next plan to tinker with introducing non-native species.

While Europe Slept by Bruce Bawer, Ph D.

A chilling, alarming portrait of a continent in deep trouble and deeper denial as radical Islam slowly maneuvers a majority of European countries toward being imprisoned under sharia law.

Bawer, an American living in Europe since 1998, has seen “...rapidly expanding Muslim enclaves in which women are oppressed and abused, homosexuals persecuted and killed, ‘infidels’ threatened and vilified...barbaric-Islam-traditions such as honor killing and forced marriage widely practiced and freedom of speech and religion firmly repudiated.”

This is “Essential reading for anyone concerned about the fate of Europe and what it portends for the United States.”

Friday, April 20, 2007


Years ago I was an on-call charter pilot for Richland Aviation at our local airport while employed full-time as a photographer at the daily newspaper.

After work one day I was doing the pre-flight inspection on the airplane I was to use to fly a customer to Cleveland Hopkins Airport to catch his departing flight.

The customer arrived, and, as I finished helping with his seat harness and stowing his luggage, I tossed my Nikon 35 mm camera and gadget bag on the back seat of our plane.

Shortly we were climbing through layered clouds on our instrument clearance to Cleveland when he asked me if I was an amateur photographer.

“No sir,” I replied. “I am a professional photographer—and an amateur pilot.”


About 30 minutes later we were sequenced among the arriving airliners by Cleveland approach radar and plopped gently into the airport.

While taxiing to the transient gate behind a huge Boeing I was finally rewarded by his lurking smile.

I feared it was one of considerable relief—and continued my apologies for having a warped sense of humor.

Thursday, April 19, 2007



(This segment is periodically offered to assist readers in visualizing the global location of events in the news)

While patriotic Americans support our troops 100 per cent, many are growing weary of this war centered in an area of the globe that has been restless since Biblical times.

Modern Iraq corresponds to the area known as Mesopotamia of the Old Testament.

Settlement there was known as far back as 6,000 years BC by people who were to become known as Sumerians.

By the middle of the third millennium B.C., they had developed the wheeled chariot and discovered that tin and copper when smelted produced bronze--a new, more durable, and much harder metal. The chariot and bronze weapons became increasingly important as tools of battle--even then.

Today, the country, about twice the size of Idaho, has an estimated population of 26,700,000.

In the graphic Iraq is centered between numerous bodies of water. Clockwise from directly left they are: The Mediterranean Sea, The Black Sea, The Caspian Sea, The Persian Gulf (draining toward the Indian Ocean lower right) and the Red Sea.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


It is long past time for lawmakers and school authorities to realize efforts such as posting signs on the schoolhouse door and adding an occasional metal detector are pitifully inadequate to prevent horrific events like the recent tragedy in Virginia.

Nor can armed police be everywhere.

Writing more laws will not help. A criminal, by definition, does not obey the laws we already have.

Gun control laws, specifically, do not work either. If they did, Washington, DC would not be the murder capital of the US.

As law abiding citizens we have a Constitutional right to keep and bear arms. It is called the Second Amendment.

We must recognize that right in every state in the union. It is the US Constitution after all.

And, we must quit trashing that right at the school house door.

Ponder this:

School employees and adult aged students could voluntarily qualify for concealed carry licenses. Perhaps additional training would be required. Perhaps their expenses would be compensated from the public treasury.

Then, school simply goes on as usual.

Except, embedded in there now, somewhere, would be qualified, armed defenders that just might be able to stop some of this periodic slaughter.

It would be similar to having a fire extinguisher on the wall.

Sensible folks pray they never have to use such a device.


Tuesday, April 17, 2007


A gallant Poppa wood duck maintains vigilance as his consort browses in a shadow at the pond’s edge. Meanwhile a brief episode of late afternoon sunshine polishes his plumage to bright luminosity.

Monday, April 16, 2007


I fondly remember the little White Castle hamburger stands from my days in the coast guard years ago. A new one popped up in Ontario’s shopping district recently, and I finally had a chance to sample what I recalled as tasty little sandwiches.

They are still little all right. A single pickle sliced in the cross section is an adequate size for garnish.

I had absolutely no sense of eating any meat on my cheeseburger. The patty appears to dissolve into the cheese which dissolves into the lower bun leaving you with a mildly tasty substance about the consistency of warm lard.

The buildings are still cute to look at. This one was clean.

And, the fries are tasty, but, if you like grilled hamburgers this place will make you regard Wendy’s as a gourmet’s delight.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Yesterday's storm produced another 1/2 inch of January stuff in April. The bright spot on the island is an undaunted momma goose on her nest.

While Max and I were on one of our hikes recently I had to retrieve a squished soda pop container out along our township road berm.

That’s hardly an earth-shaking event. But, I have to do something like that with litter easily twice each week.

That’s more than one hundred times each year some ignoramus simply pitches his trash out the car window—in front of my place. Imagine how many times that happens the entire length of our road, or, any other road for that matter.

This is a crime against our Earth.

And, we humans fancy ourselves as intelligent creatures.


Have you ever seen a passing animal do something this stupid?

Saturday, April 14, 2007


This female wood duck periodically perches on the roof of this bird feeder and ponders the complexity of its operation—from a duck’s point of view, of course.

I guess I’ll have to take this into consideration the next time I build one of these feeders.

With Speed and Violence by Fred Pearce

Kirkus Reviews described the book as “...terrifying...Important reading for...anyone planning a future beyond the next decade.”

Largely regarding the earth’s inability to continue to tolerate human abuse, Pearce said, “The current generation of inhabitants of this planet is in all probability the last generation that can rely on anything close to a stable global climate in which to conduct its affairs.”

Ponder that for a moment. --tw

Friday, April 13, 2007



(This is the debut of this segment; intended to help readers visualize the location of events in current news.)

Somalia is the “Horn” of Africa, located on the upper, East side of the continent. Mogadishu is the capital.

The Associated Press reported this week:

Ethiopian-backed government troops and Islamic insurgents exchanged gunfire in northern Mogadishu early Wednesday, ending more than a week of relative calm in this battle-scarred city, witnesses said.

More than 1,000 people were killed in this skirmish alone.

Somalia has been mired in chaos since 1991, when warlords overthrew the dictator then turned against each other. A national government was established in 2004, but has failed to assert any real control.

The country likely is best known in the USA as the location for the film Blackhawk Down, a depiction of a 1993 battle between US forces and insurgents.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


Recently, I saw a group of Wal Mart employees assembled in a store aisle rewarding a manager-type person with scattered applause as she spewed the company line.

As I pondered what I was seeing, the manager-type then led these folks in a cheer—you know the kind we used to have in high school pep assemblies.


I covered the chuckle on my face as I retreated from the spectacle, hoping to avoid embarrassing the employees who appeared to be forced to endure this daily ritual of sophomoric, corporate hype.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Drum roll please! Local naturalists confirmed a bird I recently saw on the pond was an Osprey. This “fish hawk” (fish are their only prey) stands nearly two feet tall with a wing-span up to 6 feet. The bird was the first of the species I have ever seen around the pond.

A day or so later I was amazed again. This time I watched momma merganser (a small duck that currently is nesting in my wood duck box) catch and eat a bluegill. That was another first for me. Most ducks around here, you see, dive and browse on pond vegetation.

While she captured her dinner a Belted Kingfisher was sitting on the merganser’s nesting box and thumping his recently captured fish dinner into submission.

I bet the bass were happy the Osprey wasn’t in a fishing mood.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


At $2.86 per gallon it cost me over 36 bucks to top off the gas tank.


I only paid 100 bucks for my first car.

Yeah, I know. The kids will say, “But, that also included the horse, didn’t it dad”?

And so it goes.


The Happiest Man in the World by Alec Wilkinson:

Poppa Neutrino is the fitting alias for the subject of this book. He led a dazzling life of adventure in the pursuit of absolute freedom while abhorring materialism. It’s too bad the author and his publishing team appeared to favor embalming fluid as their recreational beverage.

Monday, April 9, 2007


While pondering the celebration of Easter yesterday I arrived at the question of how the date of its celebration is determined.

According to the Christian History Institute:

“During the first three centuries of the church, it was frequently under persecution and there was no attempt to standardize the Christian festivals.

However, when Constantine became emperor and Christianity was no longer illegal, it was possible to consider more carefully the date of Easter. One of the purposes of the Council of Nicea in 325 was to settle that date.

Constantine did not want Easter to be celebrated on the Jewish Passover. He said it was a Christian ‘duty to have nothing in common with the murderers of our Lord’ (ignoring the fact that Christ's execution was a joint effort of Jews and Gentiles).

The Council of Nicea accordingly required the feast of the resurrection to be celebrated on a Sunday and never on the day of the Jewish Passover.

Easter was to be on the Sunday after the first full moon following the Spring equinox. This meant the date of Easter would always fall between March 22nd and April 25th.”

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Maple tree blossom—Hiding in the edge of the greening woods, these blossoms radiate nature’s modest beauty. This blossom, about the size of a quarter, is but a small part of spring’s colorful pageantry—the visual reward for a slow walk through the woods in early morning sunshine.

Friday, April 6, 2007


Today’s standard of excellence is mediocrity.

(Note: In recent years I have observed a decline in the quality of many products, services, and performance in general. Postings under this title from time to time will explore this hypothesis.)

Recently I sent an email to the local Soil and Water Conservation District Office seeking a recommendation on a new firm to handle my pond’s weed control treatments.

Here we are, more than a month later—with pond weed season rapidly approaching—and I have not had the courtesy of a response. Nothing. Zilch.

Then earlier, while having a problem with a leaky dam, I had one contractor visit to examine the issue. We discussed his proposed solution. “I’ll send you a quote” he chirped as our visit concluded. That was months and months ago. Nothing!

The second contractor on this issue answered my email inquiry and said he’d be by to take a look. Yup; again, absolute silence.

I am a legitimate customer. In the first instance they are a public funded group committed to providing service. In the second two instances they are private companies actively advertising for business.

Baffling! Until you ponder the legitimacy of my hypothesis.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Wednesday, April 4, 2007


The other morning a pair of Wood Ducks was making a fuss along the pond’s East shoreline. Could have been a domestic spat I mused as they flitted around, perching on the branches of a pine snag about 15 feet above the surface.

Then, Momma swooped down and landed on the top of the nest box where she sat nervously for many minutes, occasionally leaning over and peering into the entry hole.

I began to wonder if her new brood of chicks was about to fledge.

Later, she and her mate left.

Still later, Momma Hooded Merganser swam toward the nest box, dabbled around a bit to decoy any observant predators, then, disappeared into the Wood Duck box entry hole.

The painted turtles basking on near-by logs appeared as curious as I felt about these perplexing neighborhood events.


Ascent by Jed Mercurio:

A warp-speed read on a Soviet orphan who climbs through their air force to the pinnacle of the space race. I’ll be looking for Mercurio’s first novel, Bodies, and hope this Brit launches his third effort soon.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Willow Catkins--These willow blossoms are on a young, tree-size plant growing wild along the East edge of my pond. The beauty of the blossoms was punctuated by the visit of this butterfly on a recent sunny afternoon.

Monday, April 2, 2007


From the perspective of 66 years

--Makes wrinkles have wrinkles.
--Woke up today? Give thanks.
--Makes one treasure good health. After all, it cannot be bought.
--Same lofty status as being a senior in high school; except it lasts longer.
--Makes the value of each remaining day greater.
--Has allowed me to live almost 30% of our country’s history.
--Makes one appear wiser. Likely a myth, but enjoy it.
--Allows one to turn things like loss of hearing into an asset.
--Makes you go slower. It’s hard to smell the roses when you are hurrying anyhow.
--Feel Herculean! Do something-anything-rigorous. Corollary: Avoid rigor mortis.
--Makes you regarded as elderly. Ha!
--What the heck! Buy another toy.
--And; it sure beats the dickens out of the alternative.

Sunday, April 1, 2007


After winning a 72 hour, fly-anywhere-free trip from Continental Airlines, I recently found myself in Alaska.

The bush pilot who was taking me across the Cook Inlet West of Anchorage to see glaciers calving from the Alaska Range left me fly his airplane to shoot this picture.

“This is a prime example of a geologic fault that is found around the entire ‘Pacific Ring of Fire’; just like the fault lines more commonly known in California,” he explained.

Actually, given the date you are reading this, you would be correct if you suspect this is instead--a picture of the ice beginning to melt around the edge of my pond just a few weeks ago.

Happy April fool’s Day!