Monday, April 30, 2007

Squirrel Deli

Among other things, yesterday was a trail maintenance day - the first pass of the season finding and cutting up trees fallen across the trails (mostly B's job) and cutting back the multiflora rose (mostly my job).

In the process B found this squirrel delicatessen.

On the right is a knee high pile of these succulent spruce cones.

On the left is a pile of leftover
cone "cobs" and scales

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Well, this is certainly good news.

Adding ethanol - the type of alcohol found in rum, vodka, tequila and other spirits - boosted the antioxidant nutrients in strawberries and blackberries, the research published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture found.
But this story is interesting from a journalistic perspective, too. I once heard a New York Times editor deride bloggers for endlessly rehashing mainstream media content while not providing any actual news reporting. But this article apparently originated at Reuters yesterday morning and quickly spread at least to the Manchester News, CNN, ABC (without attribution) and CBS (complete with typo in the headline.)

And don't get me started on headlines like:

Fruity cocktails count as health food


Cocktails are good for you!

But I will give a point to the Manchester News for including a link to the abstract of the original publication.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Yes, David. I have a snow picture. Matter of fact, I was wondering why there's not a Snow Carnival. I should be worried about the weight of the snow on the branches. But I haven't seen any damage yet. In this picture, the drooping branches of the Hawthorn on the right have formed a nice shelter for the birds scavenging scraps from the suet feeder. That dot on the ground is a Junco.

I saw more birds on the feeders at one time than I have at any other time this winter. I'm not sure what's up with this napping Blue Jay. He looks headless, but really his head's somewhere there under his wing.

Most people who know me have heard the April Snow story at least once a year. Here it is again, complete with photo. This is April, I think the 20th, 1983. That's Michael, age 3 and Maggy, age 10 months. Daffodils were already in bloom and we'd picked dozens the day before.

Friday, April 13, 2007


Sometimes there's deer, or squirrels or chickens. Now this...

There are fourteen of them. Fourteen! I wouldn't mind if one or two were in the freezer.

I am so hopelessly outnumbered around here. Yesterday on my way to the car, I encountered the turkeys strolling by the back door.

This morning the Tom Turkey was doing his best but the hens don't seem very impressed.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Easter Eggs

Maggy recreated egg coloring techniques without the special packets from the drugstore that we used to use. These eggs are hard boiled (I like egg salad.) But we used to do them with blown eggs and I still have many of them from the '80s which all evoke special memories.

Not to be outdone, Bill started painting eggs for us years ago. He's been doing it for about twenty years, so I have dozens. Many are birds or spring flowers. Some celebrate events. The second one pictured here is about maple sugaring. We use red buckets and I like the way they stand out in the grey spring woods. I have one (not pictured here) of a New York skyline commemorating Maggy's move to New York.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Mother Jones

I still get the dead tree version of Mother Jones 'cause it's so much more leisurely to read it in my big chair and lay it down and come back to it - maybe lend it to a friend. The December issue cover story The Thirteenth Tipping Point lists and illustrates twelve tipping points identified by John Schellnhuber at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in the United Kingdom "any one of which, if triggered, will likely initiate sudden, catastrophic changes across the planet." The article addresses the absence of public concern about climate change and asks, "So what will it take to trigger what we might call the 13th tipping point: the shift in human perception from personal denial to personal responsibility?" The article offers good insight into how the public may - or must - be educated to deal with urgent issues.

But my favorite article in this issue is a sidebar to Bill McKibben's article "Is Corporate Do-Goodery for Real?" The answer to McKibben's article is, largely, no. But the sidebar article, The Carpet Cleaner, describes corporate responsibility beyond my wildest hopes. Ray Anderson, CEO of Interface carpet company, had a life changing reaction to Paul Hawken's book, The Ecology of Commerce. Anderson was so struck by Hawken's message that "he sent his staff to tally up the resources used by Interface and its suppliers. The results were staggering: 1.2 billion pounds of raw material were extracted from the earth to produce the roughly $800 million worth of carpeting Interface sold in 1995."

Interface now has a department of sustainability operations that measures and analyzes how much energy and material the company uses and how much carpet and waste they produce. Since 1995 they have reduced the energy used to produce their carpet by 41%, reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 56%, and water usage by 73% - all while sales grew 25%.

Are there easier ways to run a business? Sure. But as Anderson said in a 1999 interview in Fortune Magazine, "I had a revelation about what industry is doing to our planet. I stood convicted as a plunderer of the earth...In the future, people like me will go to jail." One can only hope...

For a laugh, take a look at Revenge of the Nerds, a light hearted look at high school debate teams. I was a high school and college debater. Can you tell?

Friday, April 06, 2007

The Overton Window of Public Opinion

My respect for Dennis Kucinich is growing. I rarely disagree with what he says but I'm usually thinking, "Yeah. Good idea, but it won't work." Not to say that the idea won't work, but there won't be legislative support to give it a try. So I'm inclined to relegate Kucinich to the group of people who's voices are more radical than mine. I don't expect them to be effective but I'm silently grateful to them for giving my slightly liberal notions a respectable patina.

CSPAN re-aired Kucinich's recent New Hampshire speech. Someone asked about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's intent to destroy Israel. Kucinich said he'd read several translations and he doesn't believe that's what Ahmadinejad meant. So, if he could, he'd call Ahmadinejad up directly and ask him, "Is this what you mean? ‘Cause if it is we have to do everything we can to help you see the need for a new direction." Okay, people are going to say that's crazy, but, hey, isn't it a good idea?

Peace. Who decided that peace is a lunatic fringe idea? Wouldn't you think "Let's go kill all the people who don't seem to agree with us and a lot of innocent bystanders, too," would be the lunatic idea?

Rebecca quotes Making Light who quotes Pandagon who quotes... well, you get the idea. Everyone's talking about the Overton Window. Nathan Russell writes:

[Politicians] will almost always constrain themselves to taking actions within the "window" of ideas approved of by the electorate. Actions outside of this window, while theoretically possible, and maybe more optimal in terms of sound policy, are politically unsuccessful.

So, if a think tank’s research and the principles of sound policy suggest a particular idea that lies outside the Overton window, what is to be done? Shift the window. Since commonly held ideas, attitudes and presumptions frame what is politically possible and create the "window," a change in the opinions held by politicians and the people in general will shift it. Move the window of what is politically possible and those policies previously impractical can become the next great popular and legislative rage.

While I may be a radical at heart, in public I'm pretty damned moderate. I'm not proud of it but I remember March 2003 and how thoroughly intimidated I was about saying, "No, I don't support the war." I remember being proud of Congressman Hinchey for immediately speaking out against the war. I remember looking in vain for a hint on Senator Clinton's website that she opposed the war. So, my thanks go out to the people who help keep the window centered over an area I can live with.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Rooster Parole

Remember the evil rooster and the rooster jail? Well, it's spring and we're having a change of heart. He only bites me once a week or so and there hasn't been a full blown attack in a while and the weather's just so nice we decided to let him out with the hens. Here he is in all his glory.

The hens seem happy to see him. The wing action here is a courtship behavior. The courtship, as you might imagine, lasts about a minute.

Before you all decide never to visit me again, I should point out that the rooster and his hens are now confined to their own yard around the chicken coop. So, no more "Watch out for the rooster," warnings, no more scratching in the gardens, no more droppings on the sidewalk or hens begging for snacks on the deck. It's all good.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Kentucky Derby

Feels like time to start planning for the Kentucky Derby. This usually ends up as a party of one for me. But that may be because the entire party menu has been a shot of bourbon. How about this menu featuring "Dead Heat Louisville Burgoo?"

Here's a list of the early contenders. It's hard to get interested in the latest buzz about Scat Daddy. But who could resist a horse named Cobalt Blue? The big names aren't there yet. But the race isn't 'til May 5. There are eleven "prep races" to go before then. I'm going to go write some invitations.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Nothing New

A couple of greedy readers have mentioned, in person, that they're tired of the previous post and asked why don't I get something else up. Fact is I've been sick. Nothing any reasonable person would consider serious. But, as many of you know, I'm not sick very often and I'm not a very good sport about it. So, most of the week I've been listening to CSPAN and playing Civ III and feeling a little sorry for myself.

But now the weather's turned nice. The snow's all gone and there are hundreds of Winter Aconites and Snowdrops blooming. I heard the first Phoebes Tuesday and I thought I heard Peepers, but maybe they were Wood Frogs.

Friday Tang and Murphy braved the mud to come help me clean the barn. There are places where the mud comes dangerously close to the top of my boots. Tang and Murphy were good company and honestly I kept at it longer than I would have without them.

Dragging a cart full of manure to the garden gave me a chance to look around the deer winter feedlot - uh - I mean vegetable garden. Sure enough. They've already eaten the rhubarb and daylilies. They'll survive. But I've got to start paying attention.

Okay. Now you know I'm alive and relatively well. Maybe in the next couple of days, my mind will kick back in.