Saturday, March 31, 2007
I saw a young fellow--likely a teenager--move a couple of bags from his shopping cart into his car and immediately discard the cart in the adjacent parking space.
He then hopped in his car and roared off through the Wal-Mart parking lot—all the while yakking on his cell phone.
Yup! It was from handicapped parking spaces just outside the store’s front door.
I hope his cell phone exploded.
Yesterday I hurled my aging bones at the Rule Road hill with the mountain bike; my first attempt of the season.
The effort revved up the cardiorespiratory system several notches and I was compelled to shift to the lowest gears but, the ascent was successful.
It’s about a 235 foot climb in less than a mile to the top of the ridge.
I’m grateful the mature guy that lives in this body can ignore how old the chassis is.
Friday, March 30, 2007
Each winter I participate in Project Feeder Watch in conjunction with Cornell University. As volunteers, we count birds seen at our feeders for two consecutive days every other week between November and March. My season finished the 25th.
I had a total of 27 different species of birds visit my feeders this winter. Twenty different species was the high for any one weekend.
My top averages for those weekends were: 11.8 Cardinals, 10.5 Mourning Doves and 10.4 Juncos. Those birds also led my high, weekend counts at 20, 21 and 15 respectively.
I had six species where I saw only one bird, one time, the entire winter. They were: brown creeper, grackle, fox sparrow, eastern towhee, starling and robin.
Populating the rest of my sightings were: wood ducks, red bellied, downy and hairy woodpeckers, northern flickers, blue jays, chickadees, tufted titmice, white breasted nuthatches, Carolina wrens, tree sparrows, song sparrows, white-throated sparrows, cowbirds, house finches, goldfinches, and house sparrows.
I also was able to count a belted kingfisher this year. They don’t eat bird seed but he clearly was attracted by the feeding activity one busy morning. The kingfisher dives into the pond’s surface and catches his meals on-the-wing.
Naturally, they don’t hang around much when the pond is covered with ice.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Enslaved by Jesse Sage and Liora Kasten editors
An anthology of eight, modern day, first person accounts of human slavery in Sudan, China, Lebanon, Egypt, Belarus, Mauritania and the US. Yes, the United States!
The Gods of Newport by John Jakes
A meandering peek at the social life of affluent Newport, RI in the late 19th century. Out of respect for the genre of historical novels I plodded through all 376 pages of this publication.
Digital Fortress by Dan Brown
A smokin’, high-tech spy thriller regarding the National Security Agency and electronic intelligence gathering. Don’t start this book unless you have time to enjoy a great, uninterrupted read.
Somebody’s Gotta Say It by Neal Boortz
Boortz is a talk show host with a sobering look at where we are and where we likely are going as a country. If you are a liberal democrat, don’t bother with this one—believe me. If you are otherwise, hop aboard for a sizzling ride.
Speaking of liberal democrats; have you seen the sensational, privately created video regarding what’s-her-name’s candidacy for *gasp* president? Enjoy it here:
Simply copy and paste the link into your browser and launch a search. When you are offered the web page, click on “You Tube 1984.” Turn your sound on for the full effect!
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Can you imagine what it feels like to be defeated by—a goose?
I have spent the past several weeks hassling the Canada Geese as various groups of them have skirmished over nesting rights on my pond.
Finally, one breeding pair prevailed and I have spent the past couple of days shooing the female of that duet off her choice of a nesting spot on the island.
Regardless of the escalating deviousness of my methods, she *sigh* returns.
I have yet to admit my defeat to her.
As I scribble this news of my surrender, she is constructing her nest.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Recent revelations regarding the Army’s Walter Reed medical facility near Washington, D.C. have been shocking. For this nation to subject its veterans to dilapidated hospitals and indifferent medical providers is a stain on our national character.
Ranking military and political heads should continue to roll until this problem is fixed. Permanently. Period.
Conditions locally are world-class by comparison.
We have a modern, clean, out-patient facility staffed by folks who act like the professionals they are.
I always arrive early for my appointments. I always am done before I was due to arrive. Can you imagine that happening at your civilian doctor’s office?
My aging body has offered me and my VA doctor some challenges these past few years. He has never failed to make an accurate diagnosis and prescribe the correct treatment.
Nurses act like they really care.
Clerical folks dispense the bureaucratic stuff with diligence, often wrapped in a sense of humor. Imagine that in a government facility.
If the Washington weenies are looking for a model of top shelf veteran’s medical care they should pay close attention to Mansfield, OH.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Saturday morning’s gently warming temperatures created slowly pulsating formations of fog across the pond’s surface. Random dabs of opaque would appear and grow--then dissolve to the baton of some unseen natural law.
I believe the physical process surrounding dew point was the conductor of this silent and translucent symphony.
The weather techs describe dew point as the temperature where water vapor becomes visible in cooling air. My guess is the recently ice-free water, cooled the air immediately above the pond and this subtle but visual marvel occurred (just like in the picture of the goose published earlier this week).
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Friday, March 23, 2007
The neighbors were clearing brush along a creek as my dog Max and I hiked our south trail recently. Their two dogs were romping untethered with them; one an aggressive short hair-type we have encountered before.
We managed to pass by them unnoticed and were well down the trail when I heard a ruckus behind us. I turned in time to see the nasty dog snarling rapidly toward us while Max barked several warnings, then, to my amazement launched a counterattack.
I yelled to call Max off (to no avail) while the neighbors came running through the tall weeds; realizing Max and I were under attack on our own property.
Seconds later, the attacking dog evidently realized the folly of his aggression and did a tail-between-the legs retreat while Max slid to a barking stop at the property line behind the aggressor; Max’s legs splayed and his ferocity unchallenged any longer.
We had a productive chat with the apologetic neighbors then continued our hike; Max demonstrating the jaunty air of his victory which came in complete defiance of his aging (in doggy years) 70 year old body.
I felt like a proud father seeing his young son thump the neighborhood bully.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
FROM THE ARCHIVES—
Goose on the Pond
I started with digital photography about four years ago and the above image is one of my favorites.
While many folks have enjoyed this picture, participants on the blog have grown far beyond my usual circle of acquaintances; consequently I am sharing the picture in this venue for them to enjoy.
It is poppa goose awaiting the arrival of his soon-to-hatch family one April morning on my front-yard pond.
As a former photojournalist I regard pictures as the “smiles” on a page. I hope to share more smiles on these pages as time goes by.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
In a story carried by My Way News:
I read about Albuquerque, NM sheriff’s deputies arresting a man for DUI. They saw him fall out of his pick-up truck. He had bloodshot eyes and slurred speech they said.
This was his 28th such offense. He was driving on a revoked license when deputies saw him and has spent nearly four years in NM jails on previous DUI charges.
Also, he was on parole for two of those convictions. Under New Mexico law, the maximum sentence for a seventh or subsequent DUI includes three years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Lets see; this would be his 21st arrest after the initial 7 multiplied by 3 would equal 63 years in the slammer. That would make this 53 year old bozo 116 years of age when he gets out of prison this time.
Sounds about right to me.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
AN ICY SPRING ARRIVAL--
A VERNAL EQUINOX--
Vernal is from Latin for “Spring” and Equinox, also from Latin, is for “Equal nights”.
The first day of spring or Spring Equinox occurs when the sun passes directly over the equator on its apparent, annual migration Northward.
The seasons are not of equal length because of the variable speed of the Earth’s orbit around the sun. Therefore, the day of the Spring equinox slowly creeps forward. Now it usually occurs on March 20th. Older folks (like me) may remember that that date used to be March 21st.
This year it is on the 21st, but, last year and every year forward at least through 2020, it will be on the 20th of March.
These dates change about one day in 70 years so it is not of much consequence within the span of a single lifetime. Eventually, authorities will impose an adjustment so our calendar dates conform to the actual celestial event.
Regardless; on this day every place on Earth has 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness.
Also on this day the sun rises exactly in the East and sets exactly in the West.
And, no; there is no magic about balancing an egg on its end on this day. If you can manage that feat on the Equinox, you can do it any other day as well.
That’s enough technical gibberish.
Just celebrate the growing warmth—in our hemisphere that is!
The ice coated trees event was yesterday. Ed.
Monday, March 19, 2007
Sunday, March 18, 2007
had magenta tears in her eyes.
You remember the old ditty that went something like this:
"Red sky in the morning,
Sailors take warning.
Red sky at night,
It didn’t storm enough to make many sailors worry this day, but—
It did rain!
Loyal blog reader, Pat of Bellville, recently shared an email regarding identity theft in the form of phony court officials seeking your personal information because you have “failed to report for jury duty”.
According to an FBI web site this problem does exist. See their site here for additional details:
Saturday, March 17, 2007
As St. Patrick’s Day approached a sheriff’s deputy in Orlando, FL was dressed as a leprechaun and, with his sign, worked along a busy road warning motorists to slow down.
Deputies had no shortage of customers--they issued an average of one ticket every minute during the effort.
Some of those ticketed complained of entrapment. One officer noted; the elf didn’t make those people speed.
Originally reported by the Orlando Sentinel
HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY!
Friday, March 16, 2007
Slowly the pond escapes winters icy grip; morphing from the sequin-studded, snow-covered white to a flat gray with random shaped pools of melt water.
Pressure cracks vein the surface and narrow ribbons of open water bubble along the sun exposed shorelines; teasing us with a glimpse into the pond’s liquid clarity.
The inlet creeks paint a darker and ever-growing gray area in the ice as the warmer inflow melts it from the bottom up.
One day you notice a slight gray-green translucence as the ice slowly yields to the water’s spring colors attempting to bloom through the ever-thinning surface.
Then, a final gasp of slush dissolves into open water in all but the Southwest corner which is shaded from the warming sun.
Finally, it too, quickly yields to the water’s more temperate mass as it dispatches this last remnant of winter.
Wednesday I had four pair of Wood Ducks frolicking on the pond and yesterday a pair of Hooded Mergansers acted like they were in the mood to make more mergansers. I also noticed my first goldfinch beginning to show his bright yellow breeding coloration.
In a later phone conversation with an old friend and new blog reader, Deb of Bellville, she explained she had honey bees recently taking seeds out of her bird feeder.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Jekyll and Hyde
I went shopping recently and had two pleasant, face to face encounters with my fellow shoppers.
One involved an older couple I had inadvertently blocked with my cart from the shelf area they wanted to reach. We spent the next few minutes exchanging friendly comments on our mutual violations on the others’ shopping territory.
The second was a young mother encumbered with her rambunctious toddler. She had loaded her groceries and was trying to install her empty shopping cart in its snow-clad parking area. She was delighted when I relieved her of that chore.
Then, within 10 minutes, I had opposite experiences; both from drivers with less than civilized demeanors.
The first involved a lady who simply began to run the red light then waved unpleasant gestures at me when she finally yielded my right-of-way.
The second was a typically brainless tailgater.
There are those among us who, when surrounded with their own two tons of high powered, automotive weaponry, are immediately transformed into ghoulish boors.
They truly deserve the above headline’s sobriquet.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Finally, crisp lighting conspired with timing fortune to produce a nice picture of these bushy-tailed, woodland rodents; a gray and a black squirrel.
They, along with their much smaller cousins, red squirrels, are very common visitors (and often nuisances) around the bird feeders.
Surprisingly, while fox squirrels are native to Richland County I rarely see them around my woods.
While I was patiently waiting for this composition to assemble itself, several red squirrels were frolicking about the same small logs in the company of their even smaller cousins, a couple of chipmunks.
Alas, the paths of their constant antics never coincided for a pleasing picture of the entire family.
Tuesday, March 13, 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.)
Not too long ago I was at the check-out lanes of Barnes and Noble with several items in my basket. Of all the lanes available, only one was in operation and people were stacked up like cattle at the trough.
Disgusted, I went back through the store returning my items to the shelf and left the joint.
Six months later I gave them another chance. Same result. This time my purchases simply sat abandoned on the check-out counter as I left the store--after pointing out my quiet protest to the supervisory manager.
Stores with this ambivalent attitude toward customer service do not deserve our continued patronage.
Good bye Barnes and Noble.
Monday, March 12, 2007
My bicycling and photography friend, Harold Zehner, shared the site of an active eagle nest with me Sunday morning in the area of the Clear Fork Reservoir.
An adult bird is shown on the nest. This image was done with a 320 mm lens then severely cropped to enlarge the bird to the viewing size. I failed to use manual focus in making the shot. Consequently, the camera wrestled with focusing on both near and far objects. The blame for the less than crystal sharp image belongs totally to the photographer.
Regardless, it was truly an awesome experience seeing this majestic bird nesting in the wild.
Harold, by the way, has 80+ years behind him, has logged in excess of 125,000 lifetime miles riding a bicycle and may be familiar to many of you from his years working at Sid’s Camera Shop in downtown Mansfield.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
At the time of this recent early morning picture the outside air temperature was just 14 degrees, yet, the ever-warming sun was able to melt the snow on the top of this feeder’s squirrel guard; thus producing the icicles.
This time of year we celebrate every little melting victory that comes along.
The visiting Red Bellied Woodpecker also enjoyed the sun’s warmth when he stopped by for some breakfast.
This combination suet and peanut butter log feeder hangs suspended from a line to ease its reloading while positioning it so it is inaccessible to marauding squirrels—another little victory!
Saturday, March 10, 2007
I saw a guy get out of his car at Wendy’s with his empty food bag. He was obviously looking for a place to dispose of it.
He glanced at the near-by shrubbery.
My anger-meter began to rev up.
Then, he walked across the entire front of the building—and dutifully deposited his lunch remnants in a trash container.
I wish I could tell him how much I appreciated that.
Yesterday’s high temperature was 56. Ahhhhh!
And, while I was watching the pond ice melt late in the afternoon, a Turkey Vulture swooped below the tree line.
Take note Hinckley, OH! Your town makes a lot of fuss when they usually arrive on March 15th.
Friday, March 9, 2007
SATURN AS NEVER SEEN BEFORE—
“Surely one of the most gorgeous sights the solar system has to offer, Saturn sits enveloped by the full splendor of its stately rings,” NASA....
This picture was done January 19, 2007 by the Cassini spacecraft at a distance of 764,000 miles from the planet. It is a mosaic of 36 images with a scale where each pixel equals 44 miles.
The planet is excessively bright because the exposure was adjusted for optimum detail in the rings.
Savor one of our finest, celestial delights!
From NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Thursday, March 8, 2007
When I enlarge this image on the computer I can count 14 Cardinals. They were part of the total of 35 I could see at the same time when this picture was taken a few days ago.
That count of a single species of bird has been exceeded only once in the nearly 14 years I have lived here.
I think that was on my 55th birthday when I was able to count 55 Canada Geese on the pond.
Daughter TJ tells me scientists have determined Geese poop on average every 12 minutes.
I don’t even want to imagine what 55 of them would have done had their visit been prolonged.
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
Fixing Ohio’s School Funding Crisis
For more than 20 years now there has been near continuous political and legal posturing in Columbus to find an equitable solution to funding public schools in Ohio.
Why reinvent the wheel?
Somewhere in this marvelous country of ours this problem already has been solved. In fact, our solution likely would come from some combination of the best ideas from several states.
Find those states where this is no longer a problem. Find those states where adequate and affordable school funding is producing functional graduates.
Copy their models.
Then, employ them.
Tuesday, March 6, 2007
The Sun's Umbra
Actually, that is an impossible description. This photo is the whimsical result of a photographer with absolutely too much time on his hands.
The photo really is...a close up of an egg. The very bright side of the egg was simply overexposed to reveal the translucent detail in the reddish hued, shadow side of the picture.
Thus proving; things are not always as they appear.
Monday, March 5, 2007
Bellville, OH Cloudy
Jacksonville, FL Mostly Sunny
Altoona, PA Cloudy
Chicago, IL Mostly Cloudy
Yuma, AZ Mostly Cloudy
Harlingen, TX Sunny
Boca Raton, FL Partly Sunny
Inverness, FL Sunny
Woman Allegedly Shoots at Tailgater
HARRISON TOWNSHIP, Mich. - A woman who recently told authorities she was fed up with tailgaters pulled out a gun and shot at the tires of a pickup that got too close, police said. Officials believe the bullet missed the pickup, and no one was hurt.
While this is a serious violation of both law and civility—I still had to chuckle.
On the other hand, a tailgating cretin hanging on your bumper with his 3-ton vehicle at 70 mph could do substantially more damage than a bullet.
The logical question then follows; what is the real difference between these acts?
Continuing this thought; why then aren’t serious tailgaters routinely arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon, just as the above woman was?
Tailgaters are (to use one of my bride’s favorite expressions) a waste of good skin.
Sunday, March 4, 2007
I used the .410 shotgun to shoo a pair of Canada Geese from the pond’s island.
Already they were examining the terrain there for its suitability as a nesting site; completely ignoring my prominently displayed “No Goose Trespassing” sign.
Shooting from the upper deck simply produces a loud blast and rains tiny bird-shot upon them which is harmless but effective.
Yes, it’s a delight to watch them defend their nesting territory and raise their brood.
But, messy coexistence for months thereafter is substantially less than delightful.
Maybe I need a bigger sign.
Saturday, March 3, 2007
The first of these two images shows Max doing a “U” turn when he encounters the “high tide” across one of our trails. This is the inlet end of the pond and shows the North creek pouring Thursday night’s rain and snow melt under the bridge where ordinarily there is but a gentle flow of water.
and IT GOES—
Once the inlet streams overwhelm the capacity of the pond drain pipe the water level rises until it flows over the emergency spillway, which is shown in the second image, crossing the driveway. Assuming an average current flow this water should reach the Louisiana Delta and the Gulf of Mexico in approximately eight days.
Makes me want to launch a canoe.
Friday, March 2, 2007
A full lunar eclipse will be visible (weather permitting) in Eastern North America Saturday evening. The eclipse will be full by 5:44 p.m. and will last for about four hours. The moon will not rise above our Eastern horizon until about 6:30 p.m., so viewers will see the full lunar disc in a deep reddish/orange color because the sun light illuminating the moon will be that refracted through our atmosphere. The more dramatic view may occur while the eclipse is ending and the full moon returns to its normal brightness.
March 1st roared in—literally yesterday with a strong line of noisy thunderstorms about daylight. After the raucous arrival the weather settled into off-and-on rain with a day of temperatures in the low 40s; perfect ingredients for helping us continue to escape from winter’s frozen grasp.
The photo above was through the deck doors being splashed by the storm’s driving rain and shows the pond still wearing its icy hat. If you note a couple of blurs of reddish color near the bird feeder in the left center of the picture that is a pair of cardinals enjoying a soggy breakfast.
Our ice-out nearly always happens on March 15th. We’ll see.
Thursday, March 1, 2007
This from The Tennessee Center for Policy Research:
Al Gore’s Personal Energy Use Is His Own “Inconvenient Truth”
Gore’s home uses more than 20 times the national average
Monday, Al Gore’s global-warming documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, collected an Oscar for best documentary feature, but the Tennessee Center for Policy Research has found that Gore deserves a gold statue for hypocrisy.
Gore’s mansion, located in the posh Belle Meade area of Nashville, consumes more electricity every month than the average American household uses in an entire year, according to the Nashville Electric Service (NES).
In his documentary, the former Vice President calls on Americans to conserve energy by reducing electricity consumption at home.
The average household in America consumes 10,656 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, according to the Department of Energy. In 2006, Gore devoured nearly 221,000 kWh—more than 20 times the national average.
Attababy Albert. You’re truly an inspiration!
Then, this in recent news on the current vice president:
Cheney unhurt after ‘huge’ blast at Afghan base
Bomber kills or wounds two dozen; Taliban spokesman says VP was target
Fogeyisms has it on good authority the Veep was never in any real danger. Sources tell us he had his shotgun right there under his limousine car seat.