Archive for February, 2010

Sunday Night Insomnia

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Middle Georgia Snow

Lots of snow in middle Georgia, appearing from just above Waycross through Roddy, our destination. Every house that had a child inside (perhaps along with some that housed children at heart) had an exuberant snowman or three outside brandishing stick arms.

At the first sight of a snowy roof, I was startled and drew SwampMan’s attention to it. “Could that possibly be global warming on that roof?” I wondered aloud.

“Nah, couldn’t be. It’s too cold for that to be global warming.”

Yet, now that I was paying attention, more and more global warming appeared in the median, then in the pine trees. There was several inches of global warming on parked cars and, by the time we reached Alma, there were lovely snowmen (or is that global warming men?) everywhere, with children reaching out to poke at them wonderingly, never having seen snow before. The farther north we traveled, the more widespread the global warming was. We crossed some slushy bridges that must have been a caution to cross the night before.

By the time we reached my mother and father-in-law’s house, the snow was in full melt mode but we could see that it had been extensive.

I asked my in laws whether snow had been a common feature when they were young. Nope. In their 80+ years life, they could remember snow that accumulated on two, maybe three previous occasions.

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Florida Is NOT Supposed to Be This Cold

After work this afternoon, I came home to a cold, wet, muddy yard and pasture. Very wet. (How wet? Ducks were swimming on my sidewalk wet.) Yuck. I was soaked through my jacket and jeans before too long. My rubber farmer boots that reached just under my knees were getting stuck in the deep clay mud every other step. Sklooch. “DAMNIT!” Yank. Sklooch. “DAMNIT!” Yank. I worry about the “wild” chickens with soaking feathers that are roosting in the bare trees in a 30 mph wind. I expect that some will expire from hypothermia before dawn.

I tried to convince my ol’ blind and deaf dawg Odie that he needs to get off the porch for a pee, but he turned around at the door and went determinedly back to his bed and lay down. Probably boot envy. If there is any peeing going on tonight, I suppose it will be done on the porch. Damnit. German Shepherd is out bouncing around in the wet quite happily, but then he’s 16 years younger than Odie. Over the years, I suppose Odie has earned the right to pee on the porch if he wants.

There is absolutely no work here for my son, so he is bowing to the inevitable and leaving the state for a 4-week job in Utah, then on to a 3-month-job in Wyoming. Son said he saw a helluva lot of snow falling in the panhandle and across Mississippi!

We’re planning on traveling up into middle Georgia early tomorrow morning, but we may have to wait until the frozen precipitation thaws off the roadways.

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Prepare for Risk

H/T Jesse’s Cafe Americain

“What would a wise and prudent person and what would a wise and prudent investor be doing to prepare themselves at this time?”

“A prudent person is going to get prepared, have food and water on hand, and be able to ride out a couple months’ of supply shortage.” (Three months supply of food, water, medicine, paper products, etc. is recommended.)

Put in those winter gardens, Floridians! Summer garden planting time is coming soon.

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Animals Ain’t Always Good Mothers

I have heard people talking about bad mothers. “An animal doesn’t abandon its babies like that!” is a common refrain. The people that confidently make that assertion haven’t spent a lot of time around many animals because animal mothers can suck, too.

We’ve had a prolonged cold spell here in NE Florida. After the deep freeze, seven of our ducks apparently thought it was spring, and established nests. One nest was on the roof. Enough said. Three nests were in the sheep barn. One nest was under the overhang outside one of our bathrooms. One nest was in a space underneath where we had piled the pieces from a downed tree so we could burn it. (Or not.) Those nests should have produced 70 to 100 ducklings if the mothers were good, attentive mothers.

So far, I have one tiny little duckling that was on his own for over an hour this morning, peeping loudly for momma, on a cold, windy day while momma was out running around with her boyfriends. I have two little ducklings in a brooder in the office, the survivors of a group that momma duck hatched out and then abandoned for the nest of as yet unhatched eggs. I got home from work and then found little splayed out bodies where they had succumbed to the cold while momma sat on an elevated nest that they could not reach, then one made a slight movement! I was able to revive one by warming him with a hairdryer, then found another duckling in with a duck who had just begun setting, and removed it because that momma would be there for another 25 days, and he would starve. (Ducklings like company anyway.)

I came home another day to find seven cold dead ducklings and a momma duck who had probably squashed or smothered them by sitting on them like they were eggs. The duck out by the horse stable hatched her eggs out on a cold, wet day, too, then promptly left them to run to the feed. They slowly waddled their way to her, wet and chilled, then she took off again, ducklings following. That was the last time I saw them. She’s back setting on the eggs that didn’t hatch because she abandoned them too soon and the cold killed the unhatched eggs. Two duck nests (one in the sheep barn under the hay manger, one under dead logs) haven’t hatched yet.

These are all inexperienced young ducks with their first nests so perhaps they will learn. Or not. Foxes (and I suspect perhaps hungry neighbors) have gotten the older, experienced duck mothers.

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Breakfast Sandwich

For years, I have HATED breakfast sandwiches of the McMuffin variety. Yuck. I don’t have anything at all against bacon and eggs or ham and eggs but that English muffin was just not something that I would eat willingly after the first time. SwampMan is a big fan of sourdough toast smeared with mayo and then adorned with a fried egg and bacon or Canadian bacon with another slice of mayo-smeared sourdough toast on top but I’m not fond of those, either.

This morning, SwampMan wanted his fried egg sandwich but no sourdough toast was on hand because he ate it all without telling me we were out. I suppose he thought the sourdough fairy would flit up to me while I was in Winn Dixie and whisper in my ear that he was at home scarfing up sourdough cinnamon toast in enormous quantities while I was grocery shopping, but the bread fairy did not make an appearance. Maybe it was a casualty in the parking lot: “Hey, Skeeter! Looka the plumage on that quail! Shoot that sumbitch!”

So, there we were. He could not eat bacon and eggs like a normal human being, it had to be between slices of bread. Hamburger buns? Uhhhhhhhhhhh. Hotdog buns? Uh, maybe a chili dog for breakfast? Maybe not. But I would eat it. Finally, inspiration struck: I had a few leftover Nature’s Own Wholegrain Sandwich Rounds that I would stuff a couple pieces of lunchmeat into, toss in some sprouts, slather it with hot mustard or horseradish, and have a quick sandwich on the way out the door.

The resulting breakfast sandwich was perfect. They’re strong enough to hold the egg and bacon, thin so they don’t add lots of bulk, they have a good flavor, and they toast up nicely. SwampMan can have his mayo-slathered sandwiches, but I like mine with butter. And hot sauce.

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State of Florida Employees Buy House in Vegas with Stolen Taxpayer Dollars

Somewhere in Las Vegas, investigators say there’s a furnished home worth about $350,000 — paid for by Florida taxpayers.

It’s part of the $400,000 that investigators say was stolen from Florida’s coffers in a criminal conspiracy concocted by four longtime state employees and a private vendor, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

All five Pinellas County residents were arrested Wednesday on racketeering charges by state agents. If convicted, each could get 30 years in prison.

“It is this type of public corruption that is eroding Floridians’ trust in their public servants,” said Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum in a prepared statement.

Read the rest here.

Ya think? If that’s the case, how do you think the taxpayers are feeling about the massive payoffs and corruption at the federal level?

Maybe us Floridians should all sign up for vacations in Vegas using that house as our lodging since we paid for it.

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Florida Shark Attack Fatality May Have Been Bitten by Multiple Sharks

STUART, Fla. (AP) — A lifeguard who rescued the victim of a shark attack off Florida’s Atlantic coast said Thursday he could see several sharks breaking the surface and blood in the water as he approached in rough surf.

The 38-year-old victim, Stephen Howard Schafer, died in a hospital soon after being pulled to shore, marking the first fatal shark attack in Florida in five years.

Lifeguard Daniel Lund, 47, said he first spotted Schafer from his tower on the beach Wednesday afternoon and he could tell the kiteboarder was in trouble. He said Schafer was lying on the large sail he was using to pull himself across the water.

Lund grabbed his long surfboard and paddled 20 minutes through rough seas, fighting 4- to 6-feet-high waves, to reach Schafer about a quarter-mile offshore.

“I get to him, I’m probably within 20 yards or so from him, and there’s just a lot of blood in the water,” Lund said.

He could see several sharks circling nearby. He pulled the injured Schafer onto his board and began paddling back. Lund declined to describe Schafer’s injuries, but said he was conscious and speaking when they got to the beach and paramedics began treating him.

Authorities are investigating what types of sharks were involved and whether multiple sharks bit Schafer. Beaches remained open Thursday.

Shark attacks, especially fatal ones, are extremely rare, said George Burgess, a leading shark expert who directs the International Shark Attack File at the University of Florida’s Museum of Natural History. The file lists 1,032 attacks in the U.S. documented since 1690. Only 50 of them were fatal.

“Internationally, we’ve been averaging four fatalities per year, despite the fact that there are billions and billions of human hours spent in the sea every year,” Burgess said Thursday. “Your chances of dying in the mouth of a shark are close to infinitesimal.” Read the rest here.

It might not be a really good idea to surf or kite board in an area of water where hundreds of sharks are congregating, although he probably didn’t know that at the time.

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Oral Sex Can Cause Cancer

Well, not the sex, but the nasty little diseases that are picked up along the way. After all, you don’t know where that thang’s been!

DALLAS, Texas — Some dentists are sounding the alarm about oral cancer and young people. The number of cases is way up, and the problem isn’t tobacco.

Dr. Lee Fitzgerald can detect oral cancer lesions with a machine that uses various wave lengths of light. He blames the increase on HPV, a common sexually transmitted virus.

Dr. Fitzgerald is seeing more young people walking in with lesions.

“They need to know that a lot of different behaviors have consequences for becoming infected,” Dr. Fitzgerald said.

The numbers are real: Oral cancer kills one person every hour. If you survive it can be disfiguring.

A study published in the journal “Head And Neck” finds a link between HPV and the increase in cases of a certain oral cancer called nasopharynx. Read the rest here:

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Time to Teach the Grandkids How to Shoot

Our oldest grandson is five, so it’s waaaaay past time to start marksmanship training. We went to Gander Mountain a few weeks ago to fit him to some youth .22 rifles, but we’ll probably use his mom’s old single shot .22 to start with, after doing some closely supervised basics with a BB gun.

The 2-year-old grandson has demanded that he be allowed to shoot, too. He is deathly scared of bears coming into the house (why, I do not know), and he has declared his intention of shooting “beaws” with the BB gun. Yep, Meemaw’s house will be beaw fwee soon. Oh, wait. It already is. See how well those BB guns work?

Grandson number one has decided that he is going fox hunting because we suspect a fox ate a handraised pet duck, Molly, and he has also said that the noise they make at night scares him. I, uh, think those scary night sounds that he thinks are foxes (because foxes sneak around at night eating pet poultry, so they must make really scary noises, too) are, in fact, owls. No owls will be shot at Meemaw’s house, nor squirrels, nor chickens, ducks, sheep, birds (or beaws, or foxes).

Years ago, when Afghanistan was first being invaded, a man from a European country on one of my agricultural lists chided me personally for the U.S.’s involvement, telling me that we were destined to fail because “those people” grew up using firearms and, presumably, civilized countries didn’t.

I never claimed to be civilized.

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