Friday, March 30, 2007

Photo Hunters: Water

Maple Sap
All photos will open in a new window when clicked.

The weekend of March 23 through March 25, 2007 was Maple Open House Weekend in Vermont. I visited the Wilwood Farm Sugarhouse in East Charleston, Vermont for these photos.

Approximately 90% of the sap of the maple tree is water. It takes approximately 40 gal (151 liters) of sap to make 1 gal (3.78 liters) of syrup. It takes a lot of energy to boil off the water in the sap. Below, you can see the steam from the evaporator in the sugar house.

The excess steam rises up this vent to the roof.

The vent opens to the rafters above. Sugar houses have a distinct roof structure that allows the steam to escape to the outdoors. The roof can be seen in the last photo.

In order to boil off the water from the sap, the wood stove is filled every 10 minutes with wood.

On the opposite end of the evaporator from the stove is a bucket (below) that captures even more pure, clean water that empties from the evaporator:

Here is the Wilwood Farm sugar house with its distinct roof. The steam was blowing to the ground on the opposite side of the house at the moment this photo was taken. When you drive in Vermont in March you quickly learn to identify where the sugar houses are making syrup from the clouds of steam pouring out of the roof vents. (The dog below is named Nikki.)


Birds Today

I now believe that spring may come. I saw four common mergansers swimming upstream on the Missisquoi River in North Troy this morning! Four males and a female. I shot the three photos below from the car window. I was worried they would fly off when I left the car, and they did. I quickly got them in flight. It's not good, but it's my first "bird in flight" photo.

Mergansers winter in northern Mexico and the Gulf of Mexico coast. They swim upstream to catch fish and have "fine tooth-like serrations along the sides of their bills which help in capturing slippery fish." (The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds, Eastern Region, p. 457)

I still have not seen or heard a robin yet. But I did hear my favorites: redwing blackbirds! They make my heart soar. I know that if they are in North Troy, they have to be here in Barton readying for nesting time.

I also saw a great blue heron!

I'm On 7 Days!

I've been put onto the Seven Days blogroll! Cathy Resmer, the Online Editor, has put this blog on the 802Online sidebar and I am thrilled. I urge you to look around her blog and the other blogs and sites at 7D!


Blog Window Widget

Apparently on March 21 I inadvertently took out part of the Blog Window Widget code on my template. That is why I no longer have any "most popular posts" on the right sidebar. As soon as I have a few moments to figure out where to put the code in the template I will fix it. I don't remember where I put it before and I need to fiddle around until I figure it out. Lesson learned: keep notes. Think I'll begin to keep notes? Doubt it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Furnace and Local News

Sunday morning and night the furnace shut off again, as it has been doing more frequently. I just kept hitting reset. But Monday morning it would not reset. After a dozen tries it finally started. But the little black motor went PFFT in a puff of smoke! I tried it again. It started but would not stay on. I went to work anyhow and worried all day about my house burning down and cats being hurt. I got a headache and stomach ache from the stress. The principal let me leave when the kids left and I called the oil company. We made arrangements for them to come this morning while I was at work. Last night the downstairs stayed constant at 52° and the upstairs at 60°, so I didn't suffer.

And now it is fixed! They wrote a note to me that said it was a "flame sensor" set way too high. But I have a sinus infection now. That's OK as long as I have heat! Tonight or tomorrow night the nighttime temps are supposed to drop to 0°-10°. Now I can go away for a winter weekend (if the weather is good)! I wonder what this repair will cost.

There have been two fires locally. One was a house fire. I know nothing about it except that it was further up on my road. I heard about it at the sugar house in Charleston. The other was a barn in Irasburg and many cows died. More cows that were injured had to be shot. It is heartbreaking. I heard about this fire at the diner in Coventry.

Tomorrow night: a date! It will be so nice to get out of town. Amy and I are going to do our taxes this weekend.


Monday, March 26, 2007

Cats Tuesday: It's No Cat

A seldom seen close look at a fisher. (Photo: Mt. Washington Burke Museum)

I have seen these in the woods. We even had one try to break into the house one summer night! They are the stuff of folklore and woods legends. Don't believe everything in this article: fisher cats DO eat housecats! The fishers we see are black and very big. Like the size of a small dog.

In New England, fishers are called fisher cats. They often look like huge cats from afar (and they eat cats).

From the Caledonian Record, St. Johnsbury, VT column Hidden Worlds

Saturday March 23, 2002

A formidable predator lives amongst us, one we almost never see. I've gotten only a few close looks at fishers during my years in the Northeast Kingdom, but once seen, these powerful creatures leave a lasting impression of alert intelligence, strength, and a don't-mess-with-me attitude.

My successes have been mostly along back roads when a fisher crossed from one densely wooded tract to another. They don't tarry, although one stood its ground and glared as my car inched forward, hissed and growled before turning to gallop hump-backed into the pine woods, its gait clearly showing relationship to the smaller, more sinuous weasel. I was glad to be inside the car.

A fisher is one of the largest mustelids, a family that includes not only weasels, but martens, ferrets, otters, and the immense wolverine. Interactions with humans are rare and not of the animals' choice. Despite weasels having been kept in 1st Century European farmhouses to provide needed pest control, mustelids - especially mink, ermine, and sable - have been hunted for their lustrous pelts for at least two thousand years.

Jason's Golden Fleece may have been glowing sable fur, a valuable commodity in ancient Greece. The crowns of 17th Century Russian kings, including Czar Boris Gudunov, consisted of sable hats ornamented with jewels and gold. Over 40,000 sable pelts were once sent to Vienna in a diplomatic exchange of goods, and hundreds of thousands of pelts were traded annually in the 18th Century.

The glistening white winter coat of ermine, an animal originally from England, was used for royal capes and robes. Our local weasels turn white in winter, and while we call them ermine, they don't have the gleam of European ermine.

In some areas of North America hunters and trappers have brought mink and the marten (the continent's most valuable fur animal) close to extinction. In the late 19th Century, for example, about 120,000 marten pelts were traded each year, but by 1930, the total barely reached 800. Today mink are raised in cages to be "harvested" for their lustrous fur.

What of the fisher? Because of its reclusive nature, sparse population, and relatively coarse fur, the fisher has been largely spared the fate of its close marten relative and smaller mustelid cousins. Nevertheless it too has been hunted and extirpated in many places, although protected in others. Because its original range in northern New England is returning to the heavily forested habitat it requires, its present wide distribution appears stabilized.

Myths and tall tales revolve around fishers. They don't rob fish traps and have little to do with water, although they are capable swimmers. They don't shun trees as some have claimed, but are agile climbers; females create cavity nests high in conifers where their young are born and raised.

A fisher isn't related to cats, although "fisher-cat" is commonly heard here in the Northeast Kingdom. Fishers don't kill deer, despite an occasional hunter's claim. Yes, the animal may munch on a deer carcass, but what free-loading carnivore won't if meat is conveniently at hand?

A fisher is impressive enough without such hyperbole. Females weigh seven or eight pounds, but a truly big male, 3-1/2 feet long including the furred tail, can weigh as much as 18 pounds of solid bone and muscle. That is more than a red fox, and no sensible fox will ever tangle with a fisher's fury.

A fisher and the smaller marten are the only sizable North American predators capable of climbing trees and entering ground burrows, making them versatile hunters. The fisher is built for business, with a long heavily-muscled body, broad flat head narrowing to a pointed face, and stubby rounded ears that don't get in the way of confined spaces or fighting. Its short legs end in sharp curved claws that are capable of a lot of damage.

Still, when seen close-up, it is a handsome animal with a dense dark brown coat, lighter under the throat and grizzled with silver or gold on head and shoulders.

A fisher works a territory of 10 square miles or less, an area determined by the prey it seeks. Its scent-marked boundaries are respected by others of its kind. Despite its size and weight, it can out-climb red squirrels that figure largely in its diet. Chipmunks, snowshoe hares, mice, voles, and shrews are other staples, but fare is not restricted to them.

Reptiles, birds, insects, carrion, even berries and fruit are devoured when found. Despite its name, the only fish this mustelid is likely to eat is discovered dead on a shoreline. Its real claim to dietary fame is a fondness for porcupine and an ability to repeatedly attack the face of one of these lethargic creatures, confuse and tire it, then flip it over and rip out the throat and belly.

Out here in the wooded countryside fishers are notorious for disposing of domestic cats, commonly available because many are put out at night, an adage for which there is neither reason nor merit. Neighbors have lost "outside" cats repeatedly, and I keep hearing of others in the Kingdom whose pets have mysteriously failed to come home after a night out. One owner found the carcass of his cat torn to shreds partway up a tree - no coyote did that.

The solution, of course, is to keep cats indoors, where they thrive.

The thicker and more continuous the forest habitat for a fisher, the better. It prefers a good overhead canopy to darken and dampen the ground. Trees should be mostly coniferous (spruce, cedar, fir and white pine), with only a scattering of hardwoods. The animal occupies and defends holes and dens originally dug by other creatures, also brush piles, hollow logs and stumps, keeping several as way stations and rest stops. Winter dens can be burrows in deep snow.

In dense woodland, a fisher may travel along fallen logs, where sometimes you find bark and soft wood ripped up from their searches for insects and mice. I sat for hours in a blind near one large log, hoping to photograph a secretive fisher passing along this forest thoroughfare - an exercise in futility.

The fisher is a loner, sociable only when breeding season arrives in March and April. Mating is a short, noisy affair with the male only partly successful in quieting the female by a strong bite to her neck. After this romantic interlude they go their separate ways and stay that way.

Gestation requires almost exactly a year, but this is because of delayed implantation of the fertilized eggs, an advantage when taking into account the care of older young. Two or three (sometimes five or six) young are born in the spring, and within a week or two the female mates again while the helpless, blind young are still suckling and dependent, as they will be for almost two months.

Even after being weaned, young fishers remain with their mother until fall, when they go off on their own. With luck, they can live more than a dozen years, although eight or 10 years are more likely. Because they are remarkably disease-free, survival depends largely upon a lack of human intervention and habitat destruction.

With a leisurely mode of reproduction and extensive territory necessary to support even a single fisher, they have never been very populous, even under the most favorable conditions.

The fisher I've seen near our house may not show itself again for a long time, even though it is likely to pass this way often. It is a reclusive neighbor at best, and its crossing spot is only a fragment of a much larger territory.

Within the hour "my" fisher could scamper past the house intent on finding prey in the dim surrounding woods. But I'll never know.
©2001 William H. Amos
Bill Amos is an author and retired biologist who lives in St. Johnsbury. He has been a frequent contributor to National Geographic.


Sunday, March 25, 2007

Puzzling Week: Getting to 100

From Car Talk Puzzler

RAY: This is mathematical in nature. I want you to get a pencil and write down the numbers, 1 to 9, inclusive, and leave enough space between them. At your disposal you have one plus sign and two minus signs. You can insert those plus and minus signs wherever you want, to make the total come out to 100. In other words, if you were to put an equal sign after the 9, you want to be able to write 100 after it.

Now I'll give you an example, you could do 12 + 345 - 67 - 89. It doesn't work, but you get the idea. You can't change the order. You can't monkey with the plus or minus signs.

You've got one plus sign and two minus signs, you can put them any place you want, and the total has to equal 100. What's the equation?

What strategies did you use to solve this?


Puzzling Week: Number Riddles

1. Grab a calculator. (You won't be able to do this one in your head.)
2. Key in the first three digits of your phone number (NOT the area code).
3. Multiply by 80
4. Add 1
5. Multiply by 250
6. Add the last 4 digits of your phone number
7. Add the last 4 digits of your phone number again.
8. Subtract 250
9. Divide number by 2

Does the answer look familiar?
Algebraically, why does this work?
Make up your own number riddle and explain algebraically why it works.

My thanks to lynnemead07!


Think It's Spring?

Clicking on photos will open their Flickr page in a new window.

Think again!
After taking the photo of the fishing shacks, I turned 90° to take
this photo of the lake from which they were removed!

This is Willoughby Lake with the Willoughby Gap. Mount Hor is on the right and Mount Pisgah is on the left. I have climbed both. :=)


My First Contrail Photo

We never used to get any planes flying over us! But lately there are a lot. Sometimes five at once. They all come from Montreal.



Black River, Irasburg, Vermont

Here is a small ice jam on the Black River in Irasburg. Shot yesterday, March 24, 2007 on Rt. 58 and Covered Bridge Rd.

Twitter and YouTube (or is it Comcast's Fault?)

I am computing on the porch again! It snowed last night but the sun is so warm out here that I am in heaven!

I simply have to go to an older sugarhouse for photos today. The best one is in Thetford, over an hour south of me. (Or is it? There may be one in Caledonia county, I've got to check). But I finished my ice jam movie and am uploading it. YouTube says "it may take a few minutes." HA How about 30 so far? That is way too long!

The ice jam movie: I finally stitched together a few Quicktime clips in Quicktime Pro because no transitions will work on the clips from my camera as I imported them as .mov files. I have tried file conversion, fiddling with settings, everything under the sun. And I will not get a camcorder! My camera is great even if it is cheap and simple. That's all I can handle now. So the video is not that good. And now I want to change the music (because I am listening to Hough playing piano, so I want that!).

Twitter is great, I love it except that the IM service is down and the servers are way too slow. If I could get the kids, with all their cell phones and computers, to use it, I'd be in heaven and know what's going on.

But all of this slowness could be Comcast. Ever since Adelphia left and Comcast came in, service has not been that great. Speeds vary greatly day to day and hour to hour.

It is so great to be listening to music again! Stephen Hough is playing piano now.

And I can't forget to do my housework and write up the Car Talk math problem and Lynn's number riddle and do litter boxes, and and and


Friday, March 23, 2007

Photo Hunters: Empty

Empty Buildings in Orleans County, Vermont
(clicking on photo will open a new page)

House on Rt. 16

Collapsed Barn on Rt. 16

Empty Canadian Pacific shed on Rt. 105 in Coventry

Abandoned house at the corner of Chamberlin and Spilling Roads

Since there are no zoning laws, and because your tax bill goes down if the dwelling or barn has collapsed, and because it is too expensive to rebuild or tear down, the buildings continue to stand. Occasionally they are burned down by the fire departments, but usually only when the owner intends to rebuild on the same site.

Thank you for visiting! I can't wait to see what other concepts of empty are out there this week!


A Sick Day and Finally Some Good News!

I started to feel sick yesterday morning. But it was a snow day so I could be sick. I had felt awful all week with the biopsy (which is still bothering me), so most likely the tremendous stress caused me to get this cold.

I called in to work last night when I got home from Montpelier. Today was a drag. I may have an ear infection, my eyes are running, but the cough is almost gone. I still have swollen glands. Amy is going to Connecticut this weekend. No other kids have contacted me. Andrew is mad at me for not telling him about the biopsy until it was all over. And I have forgotten that I was supposed to chaperone the school dance tonight! On top of all of this, I have forgotten Xavier's birthday, which is today.

Harold and Maude is on TV right now. I have not watched it in years (even though I own it). I love the Cat Stevens music (even though I couldn't stand Cat Stevens music back when he was popular). I am trying to download some tunes of his but Acquisition has become rife with porn. Ruth Gordon doesn't look half as old as I thought she was years ago! And apparently I have fogotten the story too.

The good news? Here is a cut & paste from Twitter: House Backs Troop Withdrawal in Challenge to Bush (Update4). Don't tell me the Democrats are finally going to take a stand. I have to go off now and see what that's all about. I hope it isn't a tease! And I have to cry over this movie and go to for X's gift. Maude died! This is just too sad!


Garrison Keillor

I have read and re-read, and am confused by, Garrison Keillor's article. It begins by stating something obvious, then, changing voice, goes into this thing about gay marriage (and come on, Keillor! We all have gay friends; we all have gay family members. So quit saying that already!) and, changing voice again, ends up with him reading in a culturally diverse classroom. Keillor should have, perhaps, written two articles. I have read Keillor's writing before and I have not been as confused about what his point was. My conclusion therefore must be that these are his actual thoughts and feelings about gay people.

I don't understand his apology either. When I write on my blog and in comments on other blogs, I will usually walk away from my writing and re-read it later so that I am sure it says what I want and not some stupid inadvertent thing. It only makes sense to do so! I don't want to offend anybody that I don't want to offend. Keillor is a professional writer so he has some procedure in place to do the same thing. This process, of course, helps me identify thoughts I may not have thought that I held. Keillor honestly needs to re-examine his prejudices.

I have admired Keillor for years and I never thought him capable of saying things like this. It is as if his true colors are coming out. I am wondering now if I will be able to listen to my favorite Saturday night entertainment again. Has he ruined his radio show and music for me now? Probably.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A Prayer in Spring by Robert Frost

One of the only one or two prayers that Frost ever wrote. He summered here in the Willoughby Lake area.

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
To which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends he will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

What Is Love?

from The Science of Love, MSNBC article at (this link will probably expire after awhile):

Neurobiologist Steven Pinker has written,
"Somewhere in this world of 5 billion people there lives the best-looking, richest, smartest, funniest, kindest person who would settle for you."


What is a Yankee?

Leroy E. Goss, Knight of the Road. Vantage Press, NY. 1969
On day somebody asked what a Yankee was, and here is the definition we arrived at: To a person living outside the United States, a Yankee is an American. To Americans living below the Mason & Dixon Line, a Yankee is anyone who lives north of the Mason & Dixon Line. To those of us who live north of the line, a Yankee is a person who lives in New England; and to most New Englanders, a Yankee is a resident of Vermont.

In Vermont a Yankee is a person who eats apple pie for breakfast. Now this is as far as the definition usually goes unless you are from Maine. In Maine, Vermonters are considered as living in the western part of the United States. In Maine a Yankee is a person living on, or near, the coast who eats apple pie for breakfast and takes baked-bean sandwiches in his lunch bucket.
Author Unknown


Monday, March 19, 2007

New Paper Calls Gay Marriage "Moral Good"

from Whosever:
Wednesday, 14 March 2007

A new Christian think tank has issued the first articulation of gay marriage as "a moral good" that "spiritually liberates straight people as well as gay people.'" The Institute for Progressive Christianity (IPC) considers the paper - "The Kingdom of God and the Witness of Gay Marriage" - a theological breakthrough.

The academic "white paper" could change the outcome of the great battle over same-sex unions now raging inside several mainline Protestant denominations including the Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA) and follows the recent ultimatum from the Anglican Communion to dioceses and parishes within the ECUSA to cease blessing such unions and stop consecrating openly gay bishops

The Rev. Mark Farr, an Episcopal priest and IPC co- director, called the paper "a truly groundbreaking scriptural affirmation of gay marriage as an almost iconic window into the reality of God's love."

"The paper recognizes fundamental Christian teaching about the nature of God is central to the concept of gay marriage and affirms gay marriage as a necessary moral good within Christian theology," declared the author of the paper, Otis Gaddis III, Co- Director of the IPC Academic Review.

"These truths integrated into Christian theology illuminate and clarify our understanding of God's plan of creative transformation of humanity into the Kingdom of God - the utopian end of all things," said Gaddis, a self-described "progressive evangelical" and "Nicene Christian" (a reference to the Nicene Creed as a central credo of Christian faith).

The paper "affirms gay marriage as a positive value for the Christian worldview as rooted in Christian Biblical texts and the core Christian doctrines of Trinity, Incarnation, Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension," said Gaddis.

Furthermore, according to Zeus Yiamouviannis PhD, IPC Co-Director of Academic Review, "this paper is innovative theologically because it explains in concrete terms within an evangelical Christian framework how gay marriage doesn't simply spiritually liberate gay people, it also spiritually liberates straight people." In other words, said Yiamouviannis, "this paper changes the dynamics of the entire debate over gay marriage."

"When we articulate gay marriage as a theological good, we shift the burden of proof in the debate over gay marriage in favor of the perspective of God's justice, instead of accepting morally arbitrary right- wing notions of sexuality," said Gaddis.

According to Yiamouviannis, the IPC hopes to use the Gaddis paper to spark "a conversation with conservative Christians, because we deeply root our affirmative case for gay marriage in the biblical witness, and as such we have built a theological bridge for dialogue with all Christians who seek moral guidance from the Bible."

"Progressive Christians have long discussed the need for an articulation of an affirmative and biblical understanding of the ethics of gay marriage," Yiamouviannis added, declaring that the white paper does just that. IPC executive director Mark Farr noted the relevance of the paper's publication (following its formal presentation at the IPC Winter Symposium in Cambridge, Massachusetts on February 24) in the wake of the ultimatum issued in Dar es Salaam by the bishops of the Anglican Communion, and in the context of the constitution action on gay marriage in the Massachusetts state legislature expected late this year.

According to Farr, "paper represents a bold starting point to build a new sexual ethic affirming the spiritual aspects of the gay relationship" in response to the recent call by Michael Ingham, Anglican bishop of western Canada's New Westminster diocese, for a comprehensive 'reformation' of sexual ethics."

The IPC "white paper" as well as two other shorter papers on the subject of gay marriage are available at the IPC website: .


Cats Tuesday: Pansy

Baby Pansy

Like all my cats, Pansy was rescued. Truly rescued. I was working in Hartford, CT in the innercity when one morning a student told me that he had rescued a kitten from his garage roof. He said that some students had tossed the kitten up there and had been throwing rocks at it. He climbed up and got the cat down and put it in the house. But his mother wouldn't let him keep it. He was worried because he was sure that the kitten's leg was broken. In fact, he had taped half of a Popsicle stick on the kitten's little leg to set it!

Jose and I left school and went to his house to pick up the cat. She was a funny looking cat and her leg looked wrong. We drove directly to my vet for her blood tests and exam. I got a call later that afternoon: Pansy was fine! No awful diseases, and no broken bones. But she did have many birth defects. So I took Pansy home where she has been family ever since.

Young Pansy

Besides bent legs, Pansy has the wrong numbered toes on each foot. Where cats will have four toes on the front and five on the back, Pansy has 4 toes in back on one, 6 toes on another, and 5 on each front foot. The vet and I were reluctant to spay Pansy because, the vet said, the rule of thumb for birth defects is "1 on the outside and 3 on the inside." But we took special precautions and she had no problems.

Adult Pansy with pals.

Pansy does not socialize with humans: only cats. She is cared for by them. They know it is difficult for her to get around and they watch over her. Nobody ever picks on her, not even those nasty boys Buddy and Charlie. She sleeps, eats, and plays with anybody she chooses. Her favorite of the bunch for some reason, is Buddy, She is never part of any hierarchical or territorial dispute. Just goes to show that cats take care of their special citizens!

Thank you for stopping by! I hope spring is beginning where you live. Have a great week!


Missisquoi Ice Jam and Doctors

A small ice jam on the Missisquoi River at North Troy, Vermont:

See that round hold in the photo? It appears as a dark area in the middle of the photo. Here it is again, closer:

And closer still:

We were let out of work half an hour early on Friday so I took advantage of the time to take these photos. There were two ice jams that crawled over Rt 105 last week. They looked like mini-glaciers! Then the big state plows come and push them aside.

The following info is from MRBA:
With headwaters in Lowell, VT, the Missisquoi River flows north into Quebec where the Missisquoi Nord joins the main stem at Highwater, QC; it then returns to Vermont at East Richford and flows west to drain in Missisquoi Bay.

In addition to draining the Missisquoi River’s 88-mile course and its over 50-miles of tributaries (Black Creek, Trout River, the Tyler Branch, and Mud Creek), Missisquoi Bay also drains the Pike and Rock Rivers.
The doctor said that most likely I am just fine! I can't believe it. I cried in gratitude. The girls were right all along. Last week, Anna sent me info about women's health that was comforting but I was still scared. I still have to go back in three weeks and have more tests, but I trust this doctor and his decades of experience with women.

But I am in a lot of pain. A lot. So I am going to bed now.


Sunday, March 18, 2007

Don't Ask

"Welcome to Vermont. The Don't Ask Don't Tell State"

I'm still finding old files that I want to preserve here.


Mud BOGGING, Not Blogging, In Vermont

Funny true story (not in this video)that my nephew told me:

There used to be a mud bogging spot in Derby. A house is built there now. The old bog is a pond. One day the National Guard soldiers brought a real Army tank to the bogging. They drove it through Newport and Derby to get it to the bog event. The tank made it through the mud and emptied the bog of the mud! The photo was on the front page of the paper (I saw it). Unfortunately, the Guard soldiers were disciplined. Just for doing a very normal Vermont thing!

30 Scary Seconds

This has been my new thing ever since it came out. It has huge pieces of peaches and the shortbread pieces are not soggy. Every ingredient is in perfect balance.

Friday I had settled down with my Friday night ice cream and TV. The news was on TV and suddenly I heard about the B&J recall. My flavor was being recalled! I almost spit my ice cream!

Oh, I was alarmed! Was is e coli? Salmonella? Ground up glass? I listened hard and long.

And finally they said: it was ingredient mislabeling! What a relief! Go out and try this one. It is most excellent!


Anna's Gift

One bad day, Anna e-mailed these images and messages to me. I don't ever want to lose them.

Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them
They think I'm telling lies
I say
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips
The stride of my steps
The curl of my lips
I'm a woman

Phenomenal woman
That's me
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please
And to a man
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees
Then they swarm around me
A hive of honey bees
I say
It's the fire in my eyes
And the flash of my teeth
The swing of my waist
And the joy in my feet
I'm a woman

Phenomenal woman
That's me
Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see
I say
It's in the arch of my back
The sun of my smile
The ride of my breasts
The grace of my style
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman
That's me
Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud
I say
It's in the click of my heels
The bend of my hair
The palm of my hand
The need for my care
'Cause I'm a woman

Phenomenal woman
That's me


Saturday, March 17, 2007

Walt Whitman

I am not to speak to you — I am to think of you when I
sit alone, or wake at night alone,
I am to wait — I do not doubt I am to meet you again,
I am to see to it that I do not lose you.
from To A Stranger


Canis meus id comedit

From an old, old file on my computer: Fun People by Peter Langston:

Vacca foeda
Stupid cow

Die dulci fruere.
Have a nice day.

Mihi ignosce. Cum homine de cane debeo congredi.
Excuse me. I've got to see a man about a dog.

Raptus regaliter
Royally screwed

Si hoc signum legere potes, operis boni in rebus Latinus alacribus et fructuosis potiri potes!
If you can read this sign, you can get a good job in the fast-paced, high-paying world of Latin!

Sona si Latine loqueris.
Honk if you speak Latin.

Ne auderis delere orbem rigidum meum!
Don't you dare erase my hard disk!

Catapultam habeo. Nisi pecuniam omnem mihi dabis, ad caput tuum saxum immane mittam.
I have a catapult. Give me all the money, or I will fling an enormous rock at your head.

Gramen artificiosum odi.
I hate Astroturf.

Furnulum pani nolo.
I don't want a toaster.

Sentio aliquos togatos contra me conspirare.
I think some people in togas are plotting against me.

Nihil curo de ista tua stulta superstitione.
I'm not interested in your dopey religious cult.

Noli me vocare, ego te vocabo.
Don't call me, I'll call you.

Cave ne ante ullas catapultas ambules.
If I were you, I wouldn't walk in front of any catapults.

Canis meus id comedit.
My dog ate it.

Illiud Latine dici non potest.
You can't say that in Latin.

Vidistine nuper imagines moventes bonas?
Seen any good movies lately?

Nullo metro compositum est.
It doesn't rhyme.

Non curo. Si metrum non habet, non est poema.
I don't care. If it doesn't rhyme, it isn't a poem.

Fac ut gaudeam.
Make my day.

Braccae illae virides cum subucula rosea et tunica Caledonia-quam elenganter concinnatur!
Those green pants go so well with that pink shirt and the plaid jacket!

Visne saltare? Viam Latam Fungosam scio.
Do you want to dance? I know the Funky Broadway.

Re vera, potas bene.
Say, you sure are drinking a lot.

Utinam barbari spatium proprium tuum invadant!
May barbarians invade your personal space!

Utinam coniurati te in foro interficiant!
May conspirators assassinate you in the mall!

Utinam logica falsa tuam philosophiam totam suffodiant!
May faulty logic undermine your entire philosophy!

Radix lecti
Couch potato

Quo signo nata es?
What's your sign?

Romani quidem artem amatoriam invenerunt.
You know, the Romans invented the art of love.

O! Plus! Perge! Aio! Hui! Hem!
Oh! More! Go on! Yes! Ooh! Ummm!

Spero nos familiares mansuros.
I hope we'll still be friends.

Mellita, domi adsum.
Honey, I'm home.

Tam exanimis quam tunica nehru fio.
I am as dead as the nehru jacket.

Ventis secundis, tene cursum.
Go with the flow.

Totum dependeat.
Let it all hang out.

Te precor dulcissime supplex!
Pretty please with a cherry on top!

Magister Mundi sum!
I am the Master of the Universe!

Fac me cocleario vomere!
Gag me with a spoon!

Te audire no possum. Musa sapientum fixa est in aure.
I can't hear you. I have a banana in my ear.

Estne volumen in toga, an solum tibi libet me videre?
Is that a scroll in your toga, or are you just happy to see me?

Prehende uxorem meam, sis!
Take my wife, please!

Quantum materiae materietur marmota monax si marmota monax materiam possit materiari?
How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Nihil est--in vita priore ego imperator Romanus fui.
That's nothing--in a previous life I was a Roman Emperor.

Aio, quantitas magna frumentorum est.
Yes, that is a very large amount of corn.

Recedite, plebes! Gero rem imperialem!
Stand aside plebians! I am on imperial business.

Oblitus sum perpolire clepsydras!
I forgot to polish the clocks!

Vescere bracis meis.
Eat my shorts.

Sic faciunt omnes.
Everyone is doing it.

Fac ut vivas.
Get a life.

Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!
Let's all wear mood rings!

Insula Gilliganis
Gilligan's Island


Friday, March 16, 2007

Photo Hunters: Drink

Cat Drink
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Duquette Flats (part of Barton Mtn is on the right and
my house is under the mountain but can't be seen)

When the cats live in the woods in spring, summer and fall, they drink wild water. One of the wild waters here is May Pond Brook. It comes from May Pond behind the ridge to the south of me and flows through the meadow on the other side of my road directly across from my house. This meadow/wetland is called Duquette Flats after two bachelor brothers that owned and farmed the land decades ago.

There used to be a large hay field there but about twenty to thirty years ago the beaver moved in. Beaver are protected, so the farmers lost their field but I have a wonderful wetlands now. Besides beaver, I see herons, eagles, hawks, cranes, ducks, geese, snipe, moose, deer, coyote, mink, fishers, woodchucks, and my favorite, otters! It is a wonderland of life. In the spring you actually can't hear your radio inside the house because of the spring peepers. Those are my favorite nights with their promise of the perfect summer that is soon coming.

Flowers in May on a tree that hangs over May Pond Brook.

In the photo below you can see part of the flume. A flume is not a waterfall, where water falls freely over a rock ledge. On a flume, the water slides over a huge boulder or ledge as it flows downhill. You can slide down a flume, and kids here do so! They also dam up the brook behind the flume to create a swimming hole in the cool woods. All this is within walking distance through the woods near my house.

The top of the flume during an autumn dry spell. The Lowell Range of the Green Mountains is in the far far background.

There are gentle rapids at the top of the ledge for
us that are too old to go sliding down rough rock!

We followed the brook up to May Pond one spring and one autumn and found other beaver dams. You can see the drowned trees in the far background in this photo:

Further upstream we found another dam!

We had to walk way around the beaver ponds:

The brook is so tranquil and clear:

The problem with these beautiful wild waters is giardia, or, as we call it here: beaver fever! It is an intestinal parasite that causes . . . well, you can imagine what it causes! And the cats come home most autumns with beaver fever. After treatment from the vet (only pills are needed to cure it), they are ready to stay in for the winter!

Don't drink wild water unless you test it for giardia first! There are pills you can carry to drop into the water to make it drinkable.

Thank you for stopping by! I hope you are having a great weekend (we are having another two feet of snow!)



WIRELESS TRANSMISSION OF QUANTUM CODE over a distance of 144 kilometers (89 miles) between two Canary Islands has been demonstrated by a team of researchers in Europe. At the APS March Meeting, Anton Zeilinger of the University of Vienna described how he and his colleagues transmitted single photons from an astronomical observatory in La Palma Island to another one in Tenerife. The transmitted photons' polarization states (representing 0s and 1s) formed the basis of a "quantum key," a stream of information that could be used to decipher a longer encrypted message. The researchers used single photons because they are more secure than groups of photons, from which an eavesdropper could pluck information about the key. To detect potential eavesdroppers even better, the researchers entangled the outgoing particles of light with photons kept at the transmitting station. They used astronomy stations because their telescopes are sensitive enough to detect individual photons. The data transmission rate was low, only 178 photons in 75 seconds, but the photons are able to travel longer distances in free space (potentially thousands of kilometers or more) than they are in fiber optic cables (100 km) before they become undetectable. In a proposed experiment to be coordinated by the European Space Agency (ESA, which operates the Tenerife telescope and which participated in the Canary Islands experiment) the International Space Station can transmit entangled key to two earthbound stations separated by distances ten times greater or more. (For a preprint, see Ursin et al., quant-ph/0607182)

PHYSICS NEWS UPDATE is a digest of physics news items arising
from physics meetings, physics journals, newspapers and
magazines, and other news sources.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

My Eye

I took the eye off of Turnip's pic (see the post just below this) and played with ImageWell, a tiny editing app from Xtralean. There is a free version and an "extra" version for $14.95. I can barely remember how I made this eye because I randomly click things without a plan. But after doing it a few more times I'll figure out what I did.

Crop in Imagewell seems to be the powerhouse of the app. Crop masks the parts of the photo you want to get rid of. In GIMP you cut and paste onto a canvas and then move the image around for the mask.

This stuff keeps me busy. Biopsy on Monday morning. Got to keep my mind busy.


Monday, March 12, 2007

Cats Tuesday: Killer Turnip

Say Hi to Turnip! He is Zorro's full brother but Turnip was the first born of the litter. Why Turnip? Because Amy always wanted a cat named Turnip, so now we do!

He looks so sweet and he is. He has a cute way of turning his head nearly upside down when he wants attention. He sleeps in the crook of my arm all night long. He is shy and reticent and doesn't make new human friends easily.

But Turnip is a killer. He's the indoor killer in the family.

I was getting ready for weekend guests one day and I needed to prepare the spare room. It was summer so I was barefoot. I walked into the room with an armful of pillows and fresh sheets. I stepped on something wet. I groaned. We all deal with cat yak, right? I was sure this was some more for me to clean up. Putting the sheets down, I looked at what I had stepped in. It wasn't cat yak. It was long, red, and wet. I couldn't figure it out. I found a cleaning rag and poked it a bit trying to comprehend what this was. Oh my God! It was a skinned snake! Turnip had not only killed a snake (he finds them in the cellar) but had skinned it! There was a bit of snake skin on its head. But no where else. And I had stepped on it!

Turnip was on the bed, awakened by the noises I had made. I looked at him in shock. "You did this!" I gasped. "How could you?" He smiled at me with pride, stretched and went back to sleep.

It took a long, long time until I felt I had sterilized my foot enough. I rested then, devising a plan to dispose of this snake and not vomit myself. I double-bagged two plastic grocery bags and got my kitchen tongs. Wearing a pair of Amy's surgical gloves, I walked as close to the snake as possible without looking, reached with the tongs, grabbed the snake (cringing at the squishy feel of it) and dropped it, tongs and all, into the bags. I tied up the bags securely and ran into the garage and dumped it into a trash barrel. I then disposed of the surgical gloves just like a surgeon would. Then I took a long, long time to disinfect my hands and took a shower.

Beware of a sweet faced cat. There is a cruel killer behind those pretty eyes!

Zorro and Turnip