Daily Insight

May 28, 2009

Women are like coffee – they smell nice, they taste wonderful, and they keep you awake when you just want to go to sleep.


Weekend at Alex’s

May 26, 2009

Time to bring the kid back from school, so a drive through the mountains up to northern NY and back.  It was surprisingly pleasant, other than an hour stuck in traffic Saturday morning because of a wreck on the Susquehanna River bridge.  Time to fire up the various happy-music CDs and lay back and look at the woods and birds off to the side of the highway.  There were some nice things on the trip – a single Raven in the Pennsylvania nountains (like last trip), and beautiful weather to drive through the back roads of NY state (thanks, GPS!).  It was nice to wake up hearing a Willow Flycatcher sneezing away out the back window of the motel, and the various warblers and vireos that I haven’t heard down in MD for these many years.  It took me a bit to realize that all the Crows I saw were the ‘real thing’ and not like down home, where the crows are now 50% or more Fish Crows in the summer, thanks to West Nile.  A lot of dead deer by the side of the road, and one sighting that made all my sphincters clench – a young deer (maybe just out of fawn plumage) grazing nervously in the median strip of Rte 81 in NY.  Luckily, I got past without any panic on the part of either of us.  The long weekend made it possible to recover gently from the rigors of the drive, helped by watching the Reduced Shakespeare Company DVD with the younger kid on Movie Night.  I’ll have to bite the bullet and pay for tickets the next time they tour through the area.

It’s a bird’s life in the modern city.

May 20, 2009

On my way in this morning, I heard a couple of die-hard Blackpolls, the ragged edge of the migration (such as it was this year).  Then, walking in to work, I heard, for the second morning in a row, a vigorous (and rather late) Ovenbird announcing his readiness to receive all comers.  Beats me what he thinks he’s doing.   We’ve had the odd Ovenbird in the past yelling around the hospital, but I can’t recall any of them hanging out for a couple days before.  These oddballs do turn up; In past years, I remember having a young Tundra Swan spending the summer just at the bottom of the Susquehanna River, and I once saw a breeding-plumage White Pelican on the Jersey shore at Brigantine NWR.  There’s no accounting for tastes.  Somehow I doubt that he’ll be there tomorrow, though, unless it’s as a tasty snack for some predator.  Reminds me – on my way in this morning, I saw a Crow flying towards me in a rather odd manner; head up, and unusually straight.  I soon realized that he had 2 Kingbirds beating on him pretty relentlessly, and they were still going at him when he passed overhead.  Since I’ve never seen Kingbirds hold that much of a grudge when chasing a Crow off their turf, I have to assume that he’d nabbed one or more eggs, or maybe even an early hatchling from their nest.  Well, I hope they drew blood; I much prefer Kingbirds to Crows.

How many ‘first rules’ are there, anyway?

May 14, 2009

Thinking about politics in the Boy Scouts led me to politics in youth groups in general, and then reminded me of The First Rule Of Smart Conquerors: To control the adults, educate the children. Oddly enough, this whole thing started earlier this morning when I followed a link from Gavin at Sadly, No! to some fellow named John Hawkins. This person (and it would take too long to delve into, which he doesn’t deserve and I don’t have time for) sets out to make an argument abouut the evilness of liberals (and therefore, ipso facto, QED, cogito ergo sum, etc.) the goodness of what he and his ilk are pleased to call “conservatives”. The grade-school screed that he puts out is almost embarrassing to read; he has little understanding of this exciting new idea of “logic”, and yet he is so obviously filled with pride of authorship. I feel like Steven Chow in Kung Fu Soccer: “You’re giving Kung Fu a bad name” (in translation). Reading the wild, silly, arm-waving, spittle-flying hysteria that these people come out with makes me constantly feel like throwing out my political and philosophical inclinations and becoming a liberal just out of shame of association. Now that these “Republicans” have thoroughly debased the term “conservative”, what are guys like me to do? Have to give that one some thought.

Backyard jungle

May 12, 2009

The drawback to a policy of benign neglect in the backyard is that you may end up having to pay big bucks when the trees grow to the point that they have to be taken out before they knock out your power or phone lines. The good side is like this morning when I looked out the back window in the kitchen and saw a Thrushy bird hop out onto one of the downed branches I’d hacked off our big overgrown apple tree last week. It was facing me at first, and I couldn’t figure it out for a bit, as the normally streaky Thrush breast was clear, with maybe a hint of patterning under the shoulders. Then it turned sideways, and when I saw the overall reddish back, I got a flashback to the days when Veerys were common in our 260-acre backyard in New England. I miss the song, but it was nice to add another species to the yard list.

The Saga of Gudrun the Weathergirl

May 9, 2009

Sitting here in the warm summer breeze from the window and musing about how much warmer the weather is than when I was my kid’s age, I realized that the most useful purpose of language is as a record-keeper. We all know many things, much of which are inaccurate or flat-out wrong, but it’s hard to argue with numbers. Of course you have to assume that the information you’re reading is actually accurate; most of the time I’m happy with consistency. As long as the errors are about the same and in the same direction, that information is usable. Shame, now, that I didn’t keep up that weather station I had as a kid.

Comedy or Tragedy?

May 8, 2009

I figure I need to get this down before I forget – listening to some Hayseed Dixie, and it reminded me that there are some covers that quite unexpectedly sound better than the originals – I can think of the Hayseed Dixie version of Holiday (Green Day) and Richard Cheese’s take on Come Out and Play (The Offspring) for a start. Dred Zeppelin’s Heartbreaker (Hotel) doesn’t really count, but I love it anyway.