Monday, September 29, 2008

More Nornew News

Here. The full text of the press release is here.

What Paul Did On His Summer Vacation

After my Lexis friend Michele visited the farm this summer with her son Paul, he wrote this essay for school. (He had to include three pieces of dialogue.) I'd give him an A+ !

My mother and I arrived at my mom’s friend’s house on July 26, 2008. She used to work with my mom. She lives on a dairy farm in Earlville, New York. Earlville is about 45 minutes from the City of Syracuse. She had a pool. I wanted to go swimming. My mom said, “We need to unpack.” The cows walked right by the pool. That was a cool sight to see.

The next day I got up around 5:00 a.m. to help milk the cows. (It was cool!) I assisted in attaching the milking machine. I also supplied water and food for the cows. The best was hand feeding the baby calves. One calf had a goopy eye. My mom’s friend said, “You did a good job Paul.”

On the Saturday of our visit, we visited a farmers’ market. There was a lot to do and see there. I enjoyed fresh squeezed lemonade. After my first sip, I said to my mom, “This is delicious.” I also purchased a marshmallow shooter. The corn bought at the farmers’ market was very tasty. My mom’s friend even knew the beef farmer there.

This was a great trip. It was my favorite activity of the summer. I hope we can go back again soon.

The Whores at NESN

You're tired of hearing this. What a pleasure to watch a game on the YES network. They actually return to the action in time to hear the crowd sing the end of "Sweet Caroline". "So good, so good, so good." NESN is all about hype and hucksterism. YES is professional and all about baseball, albeit Yankees baseball.

Big Nornew News

They've moved into the neighborhood. Four wells have been permitted (Hey, BS, I thought you were staying on top of this!) on neighboring farms and one will certainly encompass some of our land. Construction appears to have begun on that well. Pictures after things settle down. Meanwhile, the price of NG is half what it was just a few months ago and, I'd bet, will not go up there again for quite awhile. The Marcellus Shale will provide us with more NG than we'll know what to do with. Norse stock is now worth less than what I bought it for, of course.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Other than some VERY minor environmentalist undertones in a couple parts about why we need to go to space, this talk is really great.

Friday, September 26, 2008


This is by Bill Whittle, the same guy that wrote the small town values thing that everyone liked so much(!), and also that sheep, wolves and sheepdogs thing of a year or two ago. I really like him even if you don't.

What interests me most about this, um, piece, is his visit to the emergency room. As some of you know, I spent a few years as an ER nurse. I've watched innumerable people bouncing off the stretcher while trying to tolerate the pain of a kidney stone ( the pain is as acute as pain can be). And there is nothing in the world more frustrating than going to such a person with a dose of 2mg of morphine or 25mg of demerol to relieve their pain, after trying to impress on the "prescriber" the degree of pain this patient was in. A kidney stone requires doses much larger than that. Yet, some, if not many, doctors and PAs and NPs feel it is their duty to dole out narcotics in tiny doses because, well, you can get addicted, ya know. Crap. Narcotics are made to control acute pain and should be given IMMEDIATELY in doses large enough to do so.

Anyway, the fact that he had to wait several hours for pain relief is a crime.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


I've been trying to email these pictures to Mom and Dad, but Gmail isn't working. Huge surprise there.

Killing time

While waiting for the arrival of an Amish man from outside Lancaster, PA. He doesn't drive, so he had to hire a driver to drive him the seven hours to get here. They were supposed to leave at 1am. He's hot to buy some cows. I'm hot to sell some.

Luke, in case you're wondering, thanks for the links below. I may have some response at some point, but it's time-consuming and hard work. We'll see.

A Google Search

of "NESN Remy promos annoying" brought up this post in the fifth slot.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Minor bummer.

The Syracuse Chiefs (did they drop the "Sky" part?) are now the farm team of the miserable Washington Nationals, not the Blue Jays.

It's not gonna change the quality of players in Syracuse, but it might mean fewer visits by the PawSox.

Also, wouldn't it suck if you were a Blue Jays AAA player, settled in Syracuse, and the Jays dropped Syracuse and moved you to Las Vegas? I think it would.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

More Jersey Shore

Okay, finally. It wouldn't take me so long to post these things if I didn't make them so long. Bass River State Forest, our New Jersey Home Away From Home, is here:

Our campsite was here:

We were almost alone there most nights. On Saturday night we had a few neighbors but other than that, it was pretty much our own private campground. There was a full moon and a sweet breeze rushing through the pines. It was cozy.

Quite lovely, too. Here's how the Pine Barrens look by day:

The trees are pitch pine, scrub oak, and butternuts. The floor of the forest is covered in all directions with wild low-bush blueberries: mile upon mile upon mile of them. We drove through the town of Hammonton on our way there. It calls itself the Blueberry Capital of the World, and we could see why. They grow cultivated high-bush blueberries there -- mile upon mile upon mile of them. That's where all those New Jersey blueberries come from that show up in the stores every summer. If you were at the Bass River State Forest in blueberry season, you could pick wild blueberries by the pailful without leaving your campsite. Even in mid-September, we found a few wild berries here and there around our campsite.

The pitch pine trees are interesting. Apparently they survive the fires that periodically sweep -- or used to sweep -- through the Pinelands because of their thick, scaly bark.

I read that their pine cones only open to release seeds in the high heat of fires, which means they actually need fires in order to reproduce. If that's true, though, I'm wondering how the trees reproduce now that fires are controlled. Anybody know?

On our first day we visited Barnegat Light, a lighthouse at the northern tip of Long Beach Island.
The beach is protected by huge boulders, from which you can look across a narrow strip of water to the southern-most tip of Island Beach State Park.

The lighthouse is open to visitors, who can climb a 217-step spiral staircase to what I am sure are amazing views at the top.

We both tried it. Dad got there, but my fear of heights caught up with me -- halfway up, I turned around and went back down. Actually, just looking at the picture makes my knees feel odd.

Island Beach State Park looked so pretty across the water that we visited it next. We drove up to Tom's River, out onto the island, and down into the State Park. We stopped for sandwiches at Uncle Nick's Sub Shop in Seaside Park. We recommend it. Then we drove into the park and down past the swimming beaches to the fishing area. We parked and crossed the dunes a short way to the beach. When we first arrived, it was warm and sunny and the beach was just beautiful.

We had the sand pretty much to ourselves except for some distant surf-fishermen, who drove by us occasionally, and this guy:

The minute we both walked away from our lunch, he stole our Pop-Tarts. There were unbelievable numbers of jellyfish on the sand below the tide line.

As you can see, there are several different kinds. Here's a close-up of a particularly interesting-looking one:

(As I learned later in the trip, it is not a good idea to get too near them. I don't know if I stepped on one or waded too near one, but I ended up with a swollen, burning, itchy foot that took nearly a week to return to normal. On the fifth day a wiggly white line appeared in the sorest spot that may have been the mark left behind by a tentacle. Odd that it took so long to show up, though.) During the afternoon at Island Beach State Park, dark clouds rolled in, the breeze turned to a howling wind that blew stinging sand in our eyes, and finally it started to rain. We fled the sandy wind, went exploring in the soft rain down a trail through the maritime forest of stunted pines and poison ivy, past the ruins of an old hotel, to the bay. Then we headed back to camp. The next day we visited Atlantic City.

No, it doesn't look much like this any more, but we were surprised and delighted by just how beautiful and inviting its wide, white, clean beach is. The casinos are ENORMOUS. Too bad I left the camera in the car. We strolled up the boardwalk and wandered into a kind of shopping mall or food court that had rows and rows of slot machines, inhabited by pale, intent, hunched people who seemed to know exactly what they were doing. Dad tried one or two of them but they were pretty confusing. After a while we got back in the car and drove south down Atlantic Avenue until we came to Margate, where we found Lucy the Elephant.

Another view:

From Atlantic City, you can drive all the way down the coast to Cape May on roads that cross bridges onto the various barrier islands and off again into marshy estuaries, wandering past wildlife refuges, blocks and blocks of beach houses, seafood restaurants, and stretches of sugar-fine sand. Corson's Inlet State Park is particularly beautiful. We parked the car along the road and stepped over some rocks into this lovely sandy cove:

We were planning to head all the way south to Cape May, but before long we came to the quiet village of Strathmere, where the houses that line so much of the beach pretty much disappear. We pulled off the road, climbed a flight of board steps over the dunes, and found ourselves on Whale Beach, a lovely stretch of quiet, open, undeveloped sand. Here's the view to the south:

Here's the view to the north.
(You'll notice that Mr. Poptart Seagull managed to find us again.) At Strathmere, people were letting their dogs run free, and nobody objected. (Most of New Jersey's public beaches and campgrounds have a deeply entrenched and discouraging dislike of dogs.) Nearby, a man was fishing in the shallow surf, catching a fish or two roughly every five minutes. He was efficiently filling up a plastic five-gallon bucket on the sand with dozens of them. I stopped and asked him what he was catching and he said they were spots. "See the spots on 'em?" he said. Sure enough, I did.

We spent the rest of the afternoon wading in the warm water and napping on the warm sand. It was the prettiest beach town we visited. I'd like to go back there some day and find a beach house. I wonder if the rules about dogs are as flexible there in the summer as they are in September?

The next day was hot, hot, hot. Time for Beach Day back at Island Beach State Park with Caleb, Kate, Laura, Anna, and Hobbbes!

Hobbes makes for good beach-front entertainment. I took him for a walk. So did Caleb.

Laura buried him in the sand. You'd think he would have objected, but no, he liked it.

It was a hot, hot day, especially in Laura's un-airconditioned car. Hot by the road. Hot in the dunes. Warm on the sand. But oddly enough, downright cold by the water!

That night we had our half of the campground entirely to ourselves. Well, except for the wolf spiders, but you read about them already. In the morning it was time to pack up and say goodbye to Campsite 174.

We drove north through the Pine Barrens toward Trenton and found ourselves in cranberry-land. Cranberry bogs everywhere!

Cranberries close up:

Cranberry farmers seem to do pretty well.

We followed the Delaware River through Trenton and northward. We passed the spot where George Washington crossed the Delaware.

For our last stop in New Jersey, we pulled off Interstate 80 and ate lunch on the sand by the river on a canoe launching spot for the Delaware Water Gap National Reserve We were trying to figure out whether we were seeing vultures or bald eagles circling high overhead. I am pretty sure there were some of each, but by the time we got out the binoculars, they had flown off. (I did not take this picture. It was greener when we were there.)

New Jersey was lovely, except for their communal chip on the shoulder about dogs. Some day I'd like to go back.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Joisey Shore: Prequel

We had a grand trip. I have lots of grand pictures. But I just finished that bug post down below and it's 10:53 p.m. and I'm worn out. So, tomorrow night, I'll post my pictures. But meanwhile, here's just one, of good old Campsite 174 in the Bass River State Forest in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. As Laura once pointed out, all of these pictures of campsites with Murphy cars in them look like Subaru commercials!

Our New Jersey Insect Friends

One of the most enjoyable parts of any trip is befriending the locals. Our trip to New Jersey was no exception. On the first morning of our stay, for instance, a neighbor came to visit the tent. Or, more precisely, climbed secretly up under the fly to the top of the tent while we were sleeping and perched motionless on the mesh at the peak, gazing fixedly down at us, until we woke up and realized we had a guest. Here's the neighbor -- Mr. (or Mrs.?) Praying Mantis:

If you have never seen a praying mantis, they are big. Seriously big. This one was seven or eight inches long. They have enormous alien-looking bright green eyes. There were lots of them around in Maryland when I was a little girl. Grandma Frey used to bring them inside and put them on the curtains because they eat mosquitoes. They'd stay there all summer. When a mantis strikes at its prey, it moves so fast and so suddenly and returns so abruptly to motionlessness that you can hardly believe it moved at all, except that now there are insect wings hanging out of its mouth. Sorry this picture is blurry -- it turns out to be hard to take photographs of insects through tent mesh.

While we were looking at the praying mantis, it reminded us of another big insect -- the walking stick. I commented to Dad that I had never seen a walking stick. It appears that the neighborhood was listening, because which neighbor showed up on the tent mesh the next day?

Right! Mr. (or Mrs.?) Walking Stick! Contrary to appearances in the photo, it was on the outside of the mesh, under the fly, just like Mr. (Mrs.?) Mantis. It was the same length as Mr. Mantis, but much skinnier. I have no idea which end is its head and which is its tail. On the day it visited our tent, we both thought that the long stringy end was its head, with antenna at the end, but now I'm taking a second look and I'm not so sure.

Having learned about the friendliness of the neighborhood, I was very careful NOT to say that I really, really wished I could see a really, really, really big spider. However, our friendly neighbors were not discouraged. An evening or two later, we had a new guest. You know who it was!

Right again! Mr. (or Mrs.?) Spider! (Look along the center line of the tree, a little way from the bottom.) Like her friends Mr. Mantis and Mrs. Stick, Mrs. Spider was quite large: maybe the length of two quarters laid side by side. The most interesting thing we learned about Mrs. Spider that night was that, if you are wearing a headlamp (Dad was -- a new, very bright one) and you look at a great big Pine Barrens spider, it glows blue. Very bright, electric, brilliant blue. This picture doesn't do justice to the spider-light at all -- the blue doesn't show, and besides it was much brighter. But if you enlarge it and bear in mind that it was taken in darkness, with a flash -- you might get some idea of just how bright it was. There are actually two spiders in this picture, both glowing with what I sincerely hope is friendliness.

Maybe it was a Wolf Spider.

"Wolf spiders can be found at night by using a headlamp to see their eyeshine. Relatively few spiders have eyeshine. At night, wolf spiders can be collected by taking advantage of their eyeshine. If you hold a flashlight or a headlamp up by your forehead, the light from the flashlight will reflect off of the tapetum located in the eyes of the spider (much as a cat's eyes reflect light). What is a tapetum? It is a layer of reflective cells in the back of the eyes that functions to increase the amount of light hitting the retina of the spider. Relatively few spider families have a tapetum, and thus using eyeshine is often an excellent way to find wolf spiders. Other families in the US that have eyeshine include the Pisauridae or the fishing spiders. Some crab spiders also have eyeshine."

That was the end of our insect visitors to the campsite. I also met a jellyfish at the beach, but that's a different story. We did have an interesting avian visitor, but we heard it rather than saw it. This was a whippoorwill, which neither of us had ever heard before. It sang melodiously just before dawn and just after sunset. Here's how it sounded.

Quite a diverse neighborhood, that Campsite 174!