Seems like every time someone sticks their head up in Albany the press and public takes a shot at them. Now it’s Cuomo. Who’s next? It would really be funny if it weren’t for the fact that with all this stuff going on not a damn thing is being done in the state legislature.
Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category
Ok, folks, it is finally done and published–second week of May. Below is the opening of chapter 1. If you want more you have to buy it, just follow the link or contact me at my email address.
It was not a good Monday morning for Moses Barkman. Sunday night’s rain had screwed up the reception on his satellite dish and, when that finally cleared, the pay-per-view, no holds barred, smack down, WWE wrestling match he had ordered was partly over. By the time the rerun started, he was almost through the first six-pack of Premium Genesee Beer and, since he could not remember who won or lost the bout, he had to stay up and watch the whole damn thing again on the rerun. This meant consuming a second, and his final, six-pack. Now, the combination of the late night and cheap beer was not making for an especially pleasant morning. To make matters worse, his welfare check had arrived in last Friday’s mail and, since it was Monday, it meant it was about time he got to town to cash it. While he could have had the check directly deposited, he was not one to trust any damn bank to handle his money; he wanted the cash in his hands. Besides, a trip to town and the cash would at least give him a chance to restock his supply of Camels, Genny and Slim Jims at the Stop ‘N Go.
Moses lived about three miles from the center of Snyder’s Corners at the end of a single-lane, dirt road. The area around him was mostly second growth timber that, after having been logged a number of times, had now reached the point where anything that was worth cutting was long gone. Maybe in another hundred years, if there were no major infestations of gypsy moth larvae or other exotic insects, it might merit harvesting again. Not that Moses minded. Since the land had been logged over and was not near any kind of fishable stream or lake, the land was worthless to outsiders that might buy it up for delinquent back real estate taxes. Moses was a prime candidate for this, since he had not paid his real estate taxes–school or county–for five years.
As long as his rural road was not snow-covered–a common factor in the winter months–it normally took five minutes for Moses to drive his Ford pickup to town, including a stop at the mailbox located where this dirt road met New York State Route 618. Today, however, it was going to take a bit longer since deer season was only a couple of weeks away and Moses wanted to check a piece of cover for deer-sign on the way. This one area in particular had a small run-down apple orchard next to a shallow pond that made it ideal deer habitat. Moses had considered putting up a tree stand in one of the apple trees assuming there was enough encouraging deer-sign around to make it worthwhile–of course, too, that would have meant that he have to find wood, nails and the ambition to build the stand. Of the three, the latter was decidedly lacking.
So he decided he would just check the cover and, if he found anything, file it away for later use. This examination did create one more problem for him, however, because in order to check the cover thoroughly he would have to park his truck on the shoulder of Route 618 and walk down a deer path for about a hundred yards through overgrown brush and blackberry brambles. This was nothing Moses was especially fond of doing on even a good day much less one when he was still feeling the effects of the previous evening. Given his hangover, he was in no condition for bushwhacking and would have been content to stay in the truck and do a visual check from there.
He was considering his options when he arrived at the pull off spot and was leaning toward ignoring it when he noticed that the path leading to the clearing showed signs of recent use. Brush, primarily the golden rod and sumac on either side of the path, was mashed down, a clear indication that something big had used the path sometime over the weekend. Getting out of the truck, Moses closely inspected the ground for deer tracks but could not see any. This was not surprising since, while as Moses, with his scraggy beard, oily baseball cap, flannel shirt and bib overalls looked like a central casting type of mountain man, he was anything but an expert outdoorsman. His appearance had more to do with lack of hygiene and apathy about wardrobe than any attempt to fill any role. Not that his tracking ability or lack thereof would have made any difference since, had there been tracks, they would not have survived the previous night’s rain. However, he did know that if deer had used the path and if one had been a buck, there was a good chance of spotting antler rubs on some of the scrub brush along the way. Therefore, hangover or no, a hike to the pond was unavoidable.
As he went further down the path, checking both sides for rubs, he could not help but notice there was an increasingly larger amount of disturbed brush as he went further from the road. Even with his nominal amount of experience, he could see that something big had taken place within the last day or two. Excited, he figured he had better check closer to the little pond, in case a couple of bucks had fought in the clearing. Someplace in his distant past, Moses had read in an outdoor magazine about these duels and how often the bucks could get their antlers locked together.
Now wouldn’t that be somethin’? Moses thought, ignoring his pounding head and increasing his pace in anticipation.
As he neared the clearing beside the pond, Moses found the shortest route blocked by a mass of brambles. In a hurry and rather than go around he decided to push his way straight through, which is how he put is foot right in the middle of the dead man’s chest.
Minimum Competency is the title and available through the link or from Amazon, Barnes and Nobel or me–unless you can talk your local bookseller into stocking it.
Hundreds of thousands of people packed together in a mass of humanity, all with hope for a better day which may not be realized. Experts making wild predictions, both pro and con, as to what will transpire based on the experience gain while being part of events leading up to this day. A huge uptick in commericalism that may lead to increased revenue and economic growth; pumping thousands if not millions into the economy of a single city. A media frenzy fueling all of this with 24/7 coverage and bulletins inside of bulletins and indepth interviews with those involved as well as spectators.
Obama’s inaugural? Nope, Super Bowl LXII. We Americas know what’s important.
Iâ€™ve been feeding the birds for a long time. In fact, we have home movies of birds at a feeder when we first moved into this house over 45 years ago and that feeder was one we brought with us from our previous home. Over time Iâ€™ve used a variety of feedersâ€”most hung from a tree or the eaves but some on posts, others on the ground. At one point I built a couple that used the swivel off furniture casters to rotate with the wind. Of late, however, we have stuck to one feeder, a three tube variety with a large umbrella top to protect the seeds from rain and snow. It is attached to a pulley line so we can get it far enough from the deck to keep the cats from bothering the birds but make it easily accessible for refilling. It is located between a flowering crab and our deck just off our sunroom where we can enjoy the birds as we eat our breakfast and lunch, as well as entertaining our cats with â€œcat TVâ€.
Over the years as well, I have fed a variety of food from a mixture of â€œsong birdâ€ seeds to straight thistle seed to a cracked corn combination. About a dozen or so years ago, after doing some research, I hit on feeding straight sunflower seeds as the best for both the nutritional needs of the birds, to attract the largest variety and to minimize the number of feeders I had to care for. The only problem I encountered was the damn seed husks. In the spring, after the snow melted, there was a huge pile of black sunflower husks under the feeder which, since they hid a few uneaten seeds, made it a Mecca for mice. It also turns out that these husks are an excellent herbicide so even once the husks were cleaned up (no easy task) no grass would grow under the feeder and, since this spot was in front of the cellar door, it proved a prime source for bringing mud inside. As with any problem, if one is willing to throw money at it, there is a solution. In my case the solution was sunflower hearts. These shelled sunflower seeds, although more expensive, are husk free and the birds cleaned them up. Even at a price of about three times that of the whole seed, they are less bulky, last twice as long and given the cleanliness, are a bargain as far as I am concerned. That is until the squirrels showed up.
Considering that we live in a rural place where there are plenty of trees, including a large number of native nut species, it is surprising that it took the squirrels nearly 30 years to discover our feeder. My mother, who lived about 500 yards away, had problems with them for yearsâ€”once they even carried her cheap plastic tube feeder down in the woods to clean it out at their leisure. In retrospect, it may well have been the use of sunflower seeds, but not long after I began feeding them the squirrels found us.
Now Iâ€™ve nothing against squirrels. For one thing, theyâ€™re cute and their antics around the feeder and with each other are entertaining. For another, theyâ€™re delicious, especially fricasseed or in stewâ€”they taste more like chicken than chicken. But at the bird feeder these freeloaders are an expensive nuisance. It wouldnâ€™t be too bad if they just ate a few seeds and left like the birds do, but they fill their stomachs, then their cheek pouches, carry away that food and, a few minutes later, come back for more. (I suspect they forget where the first load was stashed and never do eat it.) While theyâ€™re at the feeder, they aggressively keep the birds at bay. To top it off, their solution for getting at the seed in the feeder is to chew through whatever is between them and the food, destroying the feeder in the process.
Now there is a cottage industry that has grown up around keeping squirrels away from bird feeders. Books have been written, videos shot. One author even created a whole line of â€œOutwittingâ€¦â€ books after the success of his book, Outwitting Squirrels. (My older daughter coauthored one on dogs for the series as a matter of fact.) The problem is most of these methods work only briefly. Sooner or later the squirrels seem to find counter measures to combat each. They jump, shimmy and, seemingly, fly up, over, along and/or chew through anything that is used to keep a feeder away from them. In our case, they jumped from the deck railing, dropped down from the tree to the top of the feeder, and tightroped along the pulley line. The umbrella top didnâ€™t bother them; they just slid off it onto the feeder tray, then sat there and chewed notches in it to make the trip easier. They ruined one feeder by chewing through the plastic seed ports so I replaced it with one with aluminum perches. We yelled at them from inside the sunroom, opened the door and â€œshooedâ€ them away. All they did was move, defiantly, to the other side of the feeder. We even swung brooms, yard sticks and flyswatters at them, actually making contact sometimes. All they did was drop the 12 feet or so to the ground and return as soon as we went back inside. Even the cats proved no deterrent. Our biggest one nailed a few young ones which, apparently he found unappetizing, but the older, wiser adults stayed clear of him. He and the other two cats we allow outside have, apparently, lost interest. In the meantime, we watch the seed depth in the feeders drop and the amount we pay for seed increase.
Then my younger daughter gave us a solution. This past Christmas she and her husband gave us a Wild Bills Squirrel-Free Electronic Bird Feeder.
This feeder, a product of Natureâ€™s Needs Inc., is a hopper-type feeder built around positive and negative charged electrical poles that are insulated from one another. One is the hanger which goes through the feeder and connects to the metal seed tray at the bottom. The second is a metal disc on the baffle at the top of the feeder which is connected to a metal ring at the bottom of the hopper. This ring also includes metal perches at the three lower seed ports of the feeder. If an animal, say a squirrel, makes contact with both poles by trying to climb down the hanger to the baffle or standing on the tray and attempting to eat from a lower port, he completes the electrical circuit and gets what the brochure calls â€œa static correctionâ€. In other words, an electrical shock that is strong enough to surprise him and knock him off the feeder. The source of this current is a 9-volt battery.
Skeptical, I particularly filled and hung the feeder the day after Christmas and watched as the first squirrel approached. He jumped from the tree limb to the seed tray and kept right on going directly to the ground. Puzzled, he tried the down-the-hanger route. He was doing okay until he partly let go of the hanger and dropped to the baffle—and kept right on going to the ground. At this point he left. Apparently this was going to be a solution.
The next morning dawned rainy and cold. I looked out and here was one squirrel on the feed tray trying to chew his way into the feeder while a second that had figured out how to get under the baffle, was busily filling his seed pouches from on top of the seed hopper. You see, there is a flaw to this feeder. Apparently, to avoid overloading the circuit whenever the feeder gets wet, i.e. when it rains and/or snows, there is a fail-safe system that shuts down the current and only resets itself once it is dry. Since it was raining and the squirrels had not learned the system held a surprise for them, they were having a post Christmas feastâ€”this new feeder was bigger, had more seed ports and, as one found out, had an easy access lid. We spent most of the day chasing squirrels.
I am happy to report, however, that once the feeder dried and reset itself it has worked as advertised. In fact, after a few â€œstatic correctionsâ€ the squirrels seem to have given up. They climb up the tree or on to the railing, look longingly at the feeder, tails flicking, but do not jump to it. They are now reduced to scavenging for fallen seed under the feeder. They have not, however gone away completely and I do fear that we have not seen the last of them for several reasons. First, sooner or later, one of them is going to discover the thing shuts off when it is wet. Second, according to the instructions the battery will only last a maximum of 3 monthsâ€”less if there is a high number of â€œstatic correctionsâ€â€”and it is going to shut down without my noticing or changing it. Third, the instructions are explicit about keeping everything clean of â€œfilmâ€â€”read bird poopâ€”that will prevent contact and this film builds up fast. The fact that the company also offers replacement ports is a good indication that, sooner or later, something is going to be chewed. Finally, given the evolution of the squirrel, eventually they will grow some sort of insulated footgear that will allow them to circumvent the whole system. They can be persistent devils.
Addendum: A week after installing this feeder and watching mournful squirrels eyeing it I felt sorry for them so went out and bought a squirrel feeder. It is filled with cheap corn pellets that they donâ€™t find particularly tasty but they are coping, waiting for the day they can get back at the sunflower seed.
Here it is, February 29th. It is bad enough that February is such a lousy month, weather-wise, but now they add another day. If I were doing it, I’d add the leap day to some nicer month, like June. Giving June 31 days every four years would be ideal and not mess things up much since that would give 4 months in a row 31 days, all of which are warm months.
Boy, if you’re a city dog, it is fun to come to grandpa’s in the country where, when your mother lets you run around, you can get into lotza interesting stuff. Mud is special fun.
Of course, you have to be cleaned off before you are allowed back into the house, but it’s worth it.
(This is Laykey, Kirsten’s Corgi, and she has a ball when she comes here.)
A week or two ago someone asked my daughter on her blog about golfing locally the meaning of “Canaswacta” . I answered for her that I thought it was the Iroquois word for 300 days of clouds. Now I’m not too sure. For about a month the only place in New Yorks State that has had any weather radar blimps has been directly over us. It seems as though there is a constant swirling storm that has just hovered in place here for most of October and November keeping the sky gray, temperatures from rising/falling and the ground damp from a continuing mist/drizzle. Just last Thursday a storm that dropped 4.25 inches of rain on the area in less than 4 hours did a tremendous amount of damage because the ground was so saturated there was no place for the water to go except through peoples’ houses.
Several years ago there was a local meteriologist who, after a lifetime of study, claimed it was nearly impossible to predict the weather in this area given the various geological features and the way wind patterns converged. We are effected by the winds off the Great Lakes, coastal storms that come up from the South, the Nor’Easters that blow in from the Atlantic and the westerly movement of patterns up the Ohio Valley from the southwest. Everything seems to converge here and, as often as not, even the most experienced weather forecaster misses about half of their 5-day predictions and many shorter ones. (The best one happened a number of years ago when the local tv weatherman, after a “partly cloudy” forecast turned into a foot of snow, showed up with a bag over his head.) In the comic strip “Lil Abner” there was a character, Joe Btfsplk , that used to walk around with a constant rain cloud overhead, sometimes we feel like we are he.
I see GM is going to stop production of the H-1. My guess would be that sales aren’t that great, probably nonexistent. I’m sure that is the H-1 was profitable. They wouldn’t have stopped selling it out of interest in protecting the oil supply. Could it be that the American public is finally realizing they can’t afford gas guzzlers? Nah.
So help me this is a direct quote from the 4/28/06 edition of the Norwich, NY Evening Sun.
Anything was an improvement for us after yesterdayâ€™s loss to Sidney,â€ said UV coach Gary Alford. â€œTheir pitching just kept us off balance off nice. They had some nice breaking balls that they consistently through for strikes.”
It sure must have hurt when those breaking balls they threw went through the batters.
It is getting so I hate to order stuff over the Internet. It is not that it isnâ€™t convenient, it is just that the information on the order blanks is a pain to fill in. Often, in an attempt to make it easier, they make it more difficult.
Take the stateâ€”please. Why do the programs used for addresses seem to think buyers canâ€™t type in the postal abbreviation for their state? Now I can simply fill “NY” into the blank for the state and the shipper should have no problem finding the correct area of the USA. But no. If I type in the â€œNâ€ part, I get â€œNebraskaâ€ in the pull down menu. Then I have to scroll down to â€œNew Yorkâ€ and click on that to fill in the blank but if I hit the wrong line or, worse still, forget to click on the correct name, Iâ€™m apt to get anything from â€œNorth Carolinaâ€ to â€œOregonâ€ in my address.
Then there is the problem with the post office box in my address. I have gotten my mail at the same PO Box for over forty years and it is the only place the USPS will deliver my mail. OK, if the item is shipped through UPS, FedEx or one of the other carriers it will have to go to my home address and I include that, but I want any mailings to go to my PO Box. Nevertheless, if I try to include the PO Box number in my address, I get a nasty messages and/or refusals from the address program. Then when they send me a catalog with only my home address on it, I get nasty notes from the USPS about using my correct address. (To top it off, I already have a catalog from the same company using an address they bought from some other place with my PO Box in it so now, Iâ€™m getting two of them: one for my home address, one for the PO.)
Itâ€™s enough to make someone go to a brick and mortar store and pay cash.