Monday, December 27, 2010

Much better than the monks

For some leftover Christmas spirit, you couldn't do better than these Alaskan fifth graders and their friends. (Yes, there are some apostrophe issues. The You-Tube page says that the teacher -- probably the young pony-tailed guy in the last scene -- will use them as a teaching opportunity when the kids get back to school in January. Wonderful, anyway!)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Look who's fourth in the nation

and first in New York State for JPI (Jersey Performance Index):

(click to enlarge) We are, that's who!

Just so you know, it was 5 below zero five minutes ago when Dad went up to the barn. By the time he got back just now, it was 6 below. And it isn't even winter yet! (I assume this is happening because dihydrogen monoxide hasn't been banned yet . . . )


Monday, December 06, 2010


I don't usually post cute-animal pictures, but I had to make an exception this time, for obvious reasons.


Are Environmentalists Hypocrites?

A Story I heard today:

Ex-VP Al Gore's daughter had a house built in the Catskills. 7,000 square feet. They buried 3 2000 gallon propane tanks. It has a thousands of feet long heated driveway. It has an outside heated pool. Though the occupants are there only a small portion of the time, the driveway is heated all the time. Tipper flew in on a helicopter to view the construction.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

The barn cats keep turning on the mow conveyor

This is the kind of thing that you just can't explain to someone who's never lived on a farm.

Friday, November 19, 2010


People ARE smart!

Including this guy, John Tierney, who writes, surprisingly, for The New York Times. I've been looking for this article, published in The NYT magazine 16 years ago. I finally came across it. It puts the lie to recycling of the mandated variety in a big way. Sadly, you have to click through 24 pages one at a time, but it is well worth the read.

I recycled some of my clothes this morning. I put them in the washing machine and dryer. I am going to wear them again.

BTW, John Tierney had a blog at the NYT. He stopped writing for it in April. But it's full of good stuff and interesting math problems. It's at here.

People are so smart!

Plus, there's so much amazing information out there and available to the ordinary person who wants to know! What brought on this epiphany? This detailed, multiply-sourced, and, as far as I can tell, irrefutable explanation of that "missile" caught on camera off the California coast last week. And don't miss the hilarious first comment from one "ElPaso2010" who is apparently determined to prove that not ALL people are so smart.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Turn it up!

The Environmentalist's Prayer

Dear Gaia,

No Frack.

No Drill.

No Nukes. Never.

No dirty coal.
No clean coal, either.

No foreign oil.
No offshore oil.
No onshore oil.
No Alaskan oil.

No carbon dioxide. No carbon. No chemicals. No artificial fertilizer.

No preservatives. No additives. No antibiotics. No hormones. No trans-fats.

No burning. No smoking. No toilet paper. No paper. No landfills.

No SUVs. No incandescent lightbulbs.

Gaia, cover the hills with windmills and coat the valleys with solarpanels.

No people.

Save the planet.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Monday, November 08, 2010

The best Football Play ever

Better even than Flutie's Hail Mary. Well, right up there anyway.

Criminal Barbers

What the world is coming to.

Watch this

and keep watching -- it just gets more and more astonishing. It's the Nicholas Brothers in the 1943 film "Stormy Weather," in a scene that Fred Astaire -- not exactly a slouch in the dancing department -- apparently called the greatest dance number ever filmed.

Hat tip: Neo-neocon, whose posts about dance are always fascinating.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Monday, November 01, 2010

Is Obama a Keynesian?

No, man, he was born in Hawaii.

And Sarah Palin and the Tea Partiers are stupid.

Obama Sez...

...that I'm his "enemy" and that my children should teach me "not to hate certain groups."

Well, FU, pal. You throw like a girl.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sparklers on a Stormy Night





I just found this surreal set of pictures from Bryan's wedding on my phone. Spooky as they are, I rather like them.
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Chenango County impresses CNBC

Chobani Yogurt is made in what used to be the Breyer plant in South Edmeston, by the Unadilla River on the way to Cooperstown. It is seriously good (my favorite is the peach flavor.) Like several other Chenango County employers, they are expanding and adding jobs. Excellent news for the area (even though, apparently, nobody told CNBC that it's New BERlin, not New BerLIN.)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Places We've Been, Part III

On Friday afternoon, we flew from Syracuse to Charlotte, NC, picked up a rental car, and drove to Atlanta, arriving just in time for a party at the Spruill Gallery north of the city, where Michael is having a highly successful show of truly gorgeous photographs. On Saturday morning, we joined Deb and Judy for a wonderful breakfast with superb coffee here. Later on Saturday, Deb organized a field trip for the aunties to a knitting store. (She is angling for the Social Director For Life Fish Hat, and she just might get it.) We found a highly appropriate spot for a picture:

During the afternoon, Uncle Rob and Uncle Art took a Segway tour of Atlanta. They loved it, and in spite of recent alarming Segway-related news, I'm sorry I missed it. The wedding started at 10:30 that night, with the ceremony shortly after midnight. Here are a few shots taken by Aunt Judy (I forgot my camera . . . )

(The cupcakes were exceptionally delicious.) Here's Alyson in the pretty dress and half-veil she wore for the first part of the party:

She changed to a lovely full-length gown for the wedding ceremony.

This is her dad:

and this is the Big Moment:

In case you wish you could see it all, here's a time-lapse of the whole evening. Don't overlook Aunt Judy in her gorgeous, perfectly-fitted pumpkin-colored raw silk (or some other utterly elegant fabric). See her there at the back, eclipsing Uncle Don? And that's Alyson's bouquet on the table in the foreground. As you can see, there was an autumnal color theme.

10/10/10 Murphy/West, Midnight Wedding in ATL from whileseated on Vimeo.

In search of that fish hat, Cousin Deb organized rooms for everyone at the W hotel in Atlanta, which was . . . different. To say the least. Quite modern, rather like sleeping in a nightclub, but . . . not exactly wholesome, somehow. Here's a sentence from a follow-up email sent to Deb: "We hope W delivered a sensory multiplex that allowed your guests to flirt with their emotional desires." Um. Well. Maybe. Here's a picture of a sensory multiplex room something like ours -- but ours was darker:

We had a floor lamp just like that, and I liked it - it cast entertaining squiggly spiral shadows all over the room. The bed was remarkably comfy, too. But the shower -- oh, the shower. I should have taken a picture, so you would believe me. It was bigger than the bed, smack in the middle of the room, crowding everything else off to the sides, with a clear glass wall on the side facing the bed, and a glass wall beside a great big walk-in opening in the other side with no door or curtain -- fully exposed to the door to the hall. Yikes! It was definitely interesting.

On Sunday, after the wedding, Dad and I drove into the Blue Ridge Mountains, through north Georgia to Duckworth, Tennessee (birthplace of kudzu, at least as far as the South is concerned, as I learned after we left) and then back east into North Carolina and another appropriate location:

We took Murphy Road (NC Route 64) to Franklin, NC, where we spent the night in a lovely Hampton Inn with this view from the window (and, thank goodness, with a shower curtain):

The next morning, we set out on what I intended to be an exploration of North Carolina's "Waterfall Byway." The day and the scenery were gorgeous.

However, I paid insufficient attention to the difference between "Route 64" and "Truck Route 64," resulting in a wrong turn that used up an hour of our trip, but did lead us to this lovely spot along a little winding mountain road leading back to where we meant to be:

As for waterfalls, my wrong turn kept us from seeing Bridal Veil Falls or Dry Falls. Once we found our way back to Route 64, we didn't see Whitewater Falls because it would have taken us 18 miles out of our way, we didn't see Rainbow Falls because it would have involved a trail hike we didn't have time for, and we didn't see Toxaway Falls, even though we were right on top of it, because a brand new highway bridge makes the cascade inaccessible and invisible. After that, we didn't see Looking Glass Falls because all the parking places at the overlook were full, and we didn't see Sliding Rock Falls when we drove right past it because I didn't know it was there. All in all, I think we managed to miss seeing quite an impressive list of waterfalls in just one day -- don't you?

We did, however, find our way onto the Blue Ridge Parkway as it wends its way through North Carolina, and it was spectacular beyond words.

After leaving the Parkway, we drove east across NC back to Charlotte, returned the car, flew back to Syracuse while thunderstorms made booming, flashing fireworks over D.C., Philadelphia, and New York to our east, landed around midnight, drove home through the upstate NY country darkness, and tried to get up on Tuesday morning and go back to regular life as though nothing had happened. When's the next time we can go someplace??

Street scene time machines

Two amazing film clips, the first showing Market Street in San Francisco in 1905, shortly before the earthquake and fire that destroyed much of the city, and the second taken in Manchester, England, in 1901. Practically everything in every frame is fascinating, but in particular, notice the chaos. No lanes, no cross walks, no traffic lights, a bewildering variety of vehicles and pedestrians, and little indication that anybody looked either way, let alone both ways, before walking, biking, driving their horses, or backing their cars into the wild confusion of the traffic. You'll see at least three people who narrowly avoid getting run over in the San Francisco clip -- it's as if they didn't quite understand yet how cars worked, or that it takes them a little while to stop when pedestrians stroll right in front of them.

Hat tip: Gerard Vanderleun and his commenters.

The Yankees Are Weird

1) They only allow men at Yankee's games. No women. No children. Also, all the men have to look like people you would have absolutely no interest in getting to know.

2) Ten percent of the seats must remain empty even during LCS games. And especially behind home plate. If any rabble come down and try to sit in the seats they are shot or electrocuted.

3) In LCS games, if the Yankees fall behind by five or more runs after the seventh inning, 90% of the fans have to leave.

4) If the Yankees do poorly in an LCS game, fans must boo.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Places We've Been, Part II

You might expect to see aquamarine water like this in the Caribbean -- but these pictures were taken just outside dull, dreary Syracuse, in Green Lakes State Park, where Dad and I took a walk a couple of weekends ago. The color of the water beggars description; if I hadn't taken these photographs, I wouldn't believe it myself.

The two lakes in the park are "meromictic," meaning that the water never overturns, so that the bottom layers of water stay forever on the bottom and never mix with the layers near the top. The lakes are the plunge pools of long-gone waterfalls from glacial days, and their depth, plus dissolved minerals in the water, explain the water's extraordinary clarity and color.

Walking trails run along the shorelines of both lakes and, on the lovely October Sunday afternoon when we visited, were crowded with happy people running, walking their happy dogs, or simply wandering along the way we did, marveling at the beauty of it all.

Chalky white banks are visible just under the water all around the shorelines. These are "marl reefs" that have built up over the years -- and continue to grow -- as the result of annual precipitation of calcite and other minerals from the water. Because of the lakes' rare attributes, they have been extensively studied by scientists, and as we saw on our visit, the scientific studies aren't over yet.

Dad did his part by holding up a tree or two in the old-growth forest of sugar maples, cedar, hemlocks, and tulip trees that surrounds the lakes.

We saw lots of surprising things that day, but I don't know if anything startled us more than the black squirrels. I didn't know there were such things, but we saw several of them -- as fat, black, and glossy as Halloween cats -- scrambling around the park. I apologize for this blurry picture, but they move fast. It turns out that black squirrels are found in several places and are a well-known phenomenon in and around Syracuse. Who knew?

Coming Next: Places We've Been, Part III, featuring four states, many Murphies, a midnight wedding, gorgeous mountains, elusive waterfalls, and a very weird hotel. Congratulations, Michael and Alyson!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Places We've Been, Part I

We went camping in New Jersey a couple of weeks ago, and we had beautiful beach days both on Saturday and Sunday. We didn't get to see Caleb and Kate, but from the beach we visited on Sunday, we did see Brooklyn . . . from a distance.

This is the view from the beach. If you enlarge these pictures, you'll be able to spot the Empire State Building in the center. Staten Island and Brooklyn are in the foreground.

Here's where we were, on the sandy spit of land pointing north from New Jersey -- which is Gateway National Recreation Area, Sandy Hook, New Jersey. The first picture above was taken looking north from the eastern side of the spit of land; the second was taken looking due north from the northern end.

Planes landing at JFK use Sandy Hook to point them north as they enter the landing pattern. One after another, they pop out of the eastern sky, roar straight toward the beach, turn north directly overhead, and disappear into the haze over Manhattan. Keep watching long enough and you'll see them far off to the east, reappearing from the north low in the sky and landing at JFK. It's oddly engrossing.

There was a hurricane somewhere off shore, and the surf was rough, but Dad went in.

The water was gorgeous

and so were the sunflowers.

There was even a wedding party on the beach, although it looked a little more like a funeral with everybody but the bride in black.

It was a great place. We'll go back someday -- though we hear it's really crowded on summer weekends. Recommended!

Places We've Been, Part II will appear shortly.

Sunday, October 03, 2010


"Clearly we don’t really think they should be blown up, that’s just a joke for the mini-movie, but maybe a little amputating would be a good place to start?”-Franny Armstrong

I actually don't think there is anything clear about it. I guess we don't have the same sense of humor. Maybe it's just me, but I don't find anything funny about blowing up school children. These people completely terrify me!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Genesis of the Post Below

From this website:

In the excellent book Never Forget: An Oral History of September 11, 2001, authors Mitchell Fink and Lois Mathias collected stories from eyewitnesses. Here's an excerpt from what David Kravette, a Cantor Fitzgerald broker, told the authors about his experience at the World Trade Center:

On the morning of September 11, I was on floor 105, tower 1. I had an 8 a.m. meeting set up with a client. He was bringing by some tech people to do some due diligence on our technology company called E-Speed. I get to work usually around seven, seven-fifteen. At eight, the client called to tell me they were running late. And I said fine. But I reminded him to bring photo ID downstairs. Ever since the last terrorist attack in '93, the building requires photo ID downstairs. He's been there before, so he knew the drill. He said, "Fine. No problem."

At 8:40, I get a phone call from the security desk downstairs, asking me if I'm expecting visitors. I said yes. "Well, they're here," they said. "But one of them forgot their ID."

I'm 105 flights up. The commute to get downstairs takes about five minutes, especially around that time. So I'm annoyed, obviously, because I have to go down now to sign these people in after I just told them to bring ID. I look at this desk assistant across from me, thinking maybe she'll help out and go down, but she's on the phone. She's also about eight months pregnant. She's a few weeks from maternity leave and she's on the phone talking to a friend and she's on a website looking at bassinets and cribs. A very nice girl expecting her first child. So how lazy am I? I decide to go myself. ...

... I take these two elevator rides down. I take the elevator from 105 to 78, change, and take the express down to the ground. I got down to the lobby. Our elevator banks actually face the visitors' gallery. And I started walking over to the visitors' gallery, I'd say it's about thirty yards, and they're standing there waiting for me. And I remember yelling, "Which one of you knuckleheads forgot your ID?"

And as I say this, you hear this really loud screeching sound. I turn around and it's kind of coming from the elevators. So I run away from it, like ten steps, and look back. And the elevators are free-falling. Then, from the middle elevator bank, not the one I came down on, but from the middle one, a huge fireball explodes in the lobby. This huge fireball is coming right toward me. People got incinerated. And I remember just looking at this thing, not feeling scared, but just sad because I knew I was going to die. But as quickly as it came toward me, it actually sucked back in on itself, and it was gone. It left a lot of smoke and everything was blown out, all the glass and revolving doors leading into the shopping area. All I felt was a big wave of heat come over me, like when you put your face too close to a fireplace. My customer and my general counsel and I just ran out. The three of us ran over the overpass to where the Financial Center is. We went down to where the marina is, where the yachts are. And that's when we found out what happened, that a plane had hit the building.

I looked up and saw this big gaping hole. I said, "What's that falling out of the window?"

My general counsel looks at me like I'm nuts. And he says, "That's people jumping out." ...

Cantor Fitzgerald had four floors in the North Tower -- 101, 103, 104, and 105. Nobody got out on those floors. Everyone who was upstairs perished. There were a lot of phone calls to wives and husbands at around nine o'clock saying good-bye, as though they knew they were going to die.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


You might remember the last time my Lexis friend Michele and her son Paul came to visit. They came back last weekend on their way to a family vacation in Wisconsin, and they brought the whole family this time. Paul got up at 5 a.m. to help Dad milk on Saturday morning, even though he hadn't gone to bed until after midnight when the family arrived the night before. It didn't slow him down one bit. Everybody met the cows and explored the hayloft and tried to catch barn cats and got an ATV ride. Here are some pictures taken by Michele and her husband Dave. The last one might be my favorite cow photo ever. They'll be back next week on their way home!