Sunday, September 30, 2007

Stupid mistakes

For future reference, it turns out that if you leave your jump drive in your pocket, so it accidentally goes through the laundry, it doesn't seem to matter.

After the laundry incident, I left mine on the desk with the top off for a few days, kind of dreading the inevitable test. I'm happy to report that it seems to be fine with files intact.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Food Policy

Wow! If Cory can keep this up, Food Karma Alert may become the definitive site for food policy. Take a look.

[Hat tip: What's in Rebecca's Pocket.]


Okay. Who thought this was going to be a good idea? Hail! The noun, not the verb. It was very noisy on the windows and the roof. The cats were more upset about it than they usually are about thunder.

I once heard someone question why hail is always described as being "the size of..." something else - usually golf balls. This hail was the size of petit pois. I have to say I've never heard it described that way on the news but it fits.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Charlie's Dentist

As if my own recent dental work wasn't enough, I called Dr Jeff LaPoint this week to check Charlie's teeth. This is no small project for a 900 pound client who doesn't sit down. Notice that the drill is a cordless 14v DeWalt. (He's not really using it as a drill. It has a little horizontal spinning disk to file the points on the teeth.) Notice also that Dr LaPoint's hand is entirely inside Charlie's mouth.

Then notice how calm Dr LaPoint is. That's 'cause Charlie's sedated. As Maggy and Dr Ambis well know, sedation is really for the protection of the dentist. The scary looking halter isn't nearly as restrictive as it looks. Charlie's entirely free to bob his head up and down as much as he likes. And he did. Dr LaPoint was remarkably patient, even amused by Charlie's attitude.

The bottom line is that Charlie has "the teeth of an eighteen year old." This is good for a twenty-five year old horse.

And the excessive drooling we had noticed...? Turns out that was probably "Horse Fungal Saliva Syndrome" or "Slobbering Horse Syndrome" (that's a creative name, isn't it?) The articles said it's caused by pasture or hay with white clover. Dr LaPoint says it's likely to occur on newly cut grass. A fungus on white clover produces an alkaloid which causes the drooling but apparently has no lasting ill effects.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


I'm often reassured by increasing awareness of, for example, the ubiquitous presence of sugar and salt in prepared foods, nutritional advantages of whole grain over white flour, the amount of gas used and pollution generated by transporting food products across the country. But once in a while there's an OMG moment when I do a double take and ask, "You mean people didn't know that?"

Here, from Fake Plastic Fish, is Plastic Is Made From Oil - You Knew That. I simply can't believe that any of my friends are among the 72% of people polled (PDF) who don't know that plastic is made from oil. I'll grant a huge margin of skepticism for the fact that the poll was sponsored by Archer Daniel Midlands in support of their project to make "bioplastics" from - wait for it - corn!

Still I think it's possible that some people don't know where plastic comes from - or goes - or the harm it does in between. Once you get a grip on that, you may want to follow Fake Plastic Fish's investigation of where plastic exists in her life and how to eliminate it.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Leslie's House

It was no surprise to catch Leslie on a ladder yesterday. But I''m really glad I got there in time to record the all-important color samples before she painted over them. I'm sure Leslie will want to remember them and I know my sister will want to study them. Which one would you choose?

Confused? Can't see the difference, you say? Believe me when I tell you, it's not the photo.

Here. I've sampled them and labeled the RGB values. See? No, really. Do not adjust your set. They are, shall we say, very similar.

So similar, in fact, that I think the color the painter suggested was altogether different. It looks great though, doesn't it?

Here's the next great decision she faces. My sister will like this one, too. The porch ceiling color. Visible only, I should point out, when you're sitting on the porch looking up.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Oil Paintings

Last weekend at the Etna community yard sale, I bought these two oil paintings. The "Fall Bouquet" is signed "D Ramsey" and the barn simply "Alexis."

I should have taken a minute to ask people at the yard sale if they knew who had donated them.

I can ask the postmaster, or the people at the fabulous "Soup and Salad Supper." But I'll enjoy the paintings even if I don't find out more about them.

I might mention that I also bought a drill bit, a copy of I Capture the Castle, a towel rack, a Pfalzgraf platter, two lovely glass dishes and a couple of pieces of fly paper. Yes, there was fly paper at the yard sale. And I need some. We really hate to waste anything in this neighborhood.

Later this morning I'll be at the Freeville Festival. I hope they have a rummage sale.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging

Apparently while Maggy and I were at the store, the house cats invited (or at least allowed) Jake to come in through the open window. Jake didn't venture far from the windowsill where he knew he could make a quick escape. Isn't he pretty?

Murphy wasn't happy that we were using the table where he often sleeps. Maggy says, "Remember when the cats weren't allowed on the table?"

Sunday, September 09, 2007

In Her Hands...

Warblers are "tunnel fliers." Because they live in the woods, they tend to fly toward a light spot. This one, being new in the neighborhood, was particularly unaware of windows. I can't easily tell you what kind of warbler it is. Bill knew it instantly. The name included "green," "yellow," and "throat." But I can't say in exactly what order. Peterson's Field Guide has a section for "Confusing Fall Warblers." That's close enough for me.

Anyway, B wanted to be sure the cats didn't hurt it. She guarded it for a while, then finally picked it up. It waited long enough for me to get my camera. But when someone suggested getting a box to let it rest in, it took off.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Bees and Honey

I'm not sure what it is in the air that says "late summer." The relaxing drone of the crickets, the rattling of the poplar leaves that sounds like constant rain, the sun a little lower in the sky at midday. But here, above all, it's the scent of honey in the air. Even if I never harvested honey, I'd want to keep bees just for that scent.

A week or so ago I used these pieces and tools to make this new section for my beehive. Frankly, the bees could manage just fine without my help. But if I give them these wax frames, they can spend more of their time making honey instead of wax. And they'll make it in neat rows that make it easier for me to handle. If the weather is good, they'll make more honey than they need for the winter and I can take some.

I've been using the last of the honey I harvested years ago (honey keeps forever) to sweeten the syrup I'm using to can the delicious, locally grown peaches I bought at BB Farms on Route 13 near NYSEG. Goldenrod honey has a stronger flavor than most people are used to. It's a flavor that says, "This is definitely honey, not sugar." To me it says, "Extra special home-canned peaches."

I like "my" honeybees and I'm often disappointed with people's casual references to bees as a nuisance. I'll hear it most often this time of year when yellow jackets are so active. Let's get this straight, friends. Yellow jackets are not bees. In fact, all wasps are "not bees." Stirred Not Shaken has a couple of good pictures - one bee and one "not bee."

You may remember the term "wasp waisted" describing tightly corseted Victorian women. It comes from the fact that wasps' abdomens appear barely connected to their thoraxes (chests) by a very, very thin "waist." (photo credit: Whispers in Nature)

Bees, like me, are pretty substantial around the middle. Once you've got this shape distinction clear, don't forget there are bumble bees, sweat bees, carpenter bees and more in addition to honeybees. (photo credit: State of North Carolina)

Under the "nuisance" heading, I might note that wasps can sting repeatedly. Bees generally die when they sting. So they don't do it casually. In fact, in thirty years of beekeeping, I've only been stung by a honeybee once. I don't believe I've ever been stung by any other kind of bee. But I seem to get wasp stings every year.

In their defense, wasps, like bees, are important pollinators. And unlike bees, they feed insects to their larvae. Anyway, with the general understanding that everybody's just tryin' to make a living, I'll live and let live with wasps.