Friday Haiku

Friday, 29 May 2009, 8:21 | Category : BlogStuff
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Try to restart blog
Like tree falling in forest
No one there to hear.

Ready For Takeoff

Sunday, 24 May 2009, 18:48 | Category : Birds
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While I was working in the yard today, I noticed a small commotion by my workshop. A closer look revealed a family of Carolina wrens getting ready for their first flight; indeed, while I was watching the first two chicks made short hops onto the fence:

wren fledging

wren fledging

And all the while, the mother (or maybe father) wren kept watch:

wren fledging

Two Poems For Memorial Day

Friday, 22 May 2009, 9:10 | Category : Life
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In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

The Blue And The Gray
Francis Miles Finch (1827-1907)

By the flow of the inland river,
Whence the fleets of iron have fled,
Where the blades of the grave-grass quiver,
Asleep are the ranks of the dead:
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the judgment-day;
Under the one, the Blue,
Under the other, the Gray
These in the robings of glory,
Those in the gloom of defeat,
All with the battle-blood gory,
In the dusk of eternity meet:
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the judgement-day
Under the laurel, the Blue,
Under the willow, the Gray.

From the silence of sorrowful hours
The desolate mourners go,
Lovingly laden with flowers
Alike for the friend and the foe;
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the judgement-day;
Under the roses, the Blue,
Under the lilies, the Gray.

So with an equal splendor,
The morning sun-rays fall,
With a touch impartially tender,
On the blossoms blooming for all:
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the judgment-day;
Broidered with gold, the Blue,
Mellowed with gold, the Gray.

So, when the summer calleth,
On forest and field of grain,
With an equal murmur falleth
The cooling drip of the rain:
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the judgment -day,
Wet with the rain, the Blue
Wet with the rain, the Gray.

Sadly, but not with upbraiding,
The generous deed was done,
In the storm of the years that are fading
No braver battle was won:
Under the sod adn the dew,
Waiting the judgment-day;
Under the blossoms, the Blue,
Under the garlands, the Gray

No more shall the war cry sever,
Or the winding rivers be red;
They banish our anger forever
When they laurel the graves of our dead!
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the judgment-day,
Love and tears for the Blue,
Tears and love for the Gray.

Fighting the Fairy

Thursday, 21 May 2009, 10:02 | Category : Gardening
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I have a Fairy rose at the front corner of my rose bed. It’s been very successful there for several year, growing and sprawling all across the front. For soem reason, however, this spring part of it starting showing signs of stress, and eventually died. The part that died was the original mother plant; it has rooted itself in several places, and those are all healthy, so maybe this is just how shrub roses handle mortality. Regardless, it had become a real eyesore, so last evening I began removing the dead parts. It took over an hour – deconstructing a shrub rose isn’t for the faint-hearted. But I got it all, finally. The rose bed looks better. I feel like I’ve been in a fight with a cat.

Thinking About Oil

Wednesday, 20 May 2009, 13:41 | Category : Politics
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President Obama has announced his new auto fuel economy initiatives, which would raise CAFE at the cost of about $1300 per car. I’m sure Rush and Glenn Beck and others will have a field day with this – I’m sure the word “tax” will figure prominently in their diatribes. But I’ve never understood their position on fuel economy. We import oil. We import it in large part because we like to drive enormous SUVs that get pathetic gas mileage. Everybody knows this. But I thought it might be helpful to look at it another way.

The United States consumes about 20 million barrels of oil a day (that’s almost a quarter of the total daily world production, by the way). We import about 60% of this, some 12 million barrels a day. And most of the oil we import comes from two sources – Canada (about 1.9 million barrels a day) and OPEC (about 5 million barrels a day). OPEC – featuring such countries as Saudi Arabia, Libya, and Venezuela. About 40% of our total oil imports comes from OPEC.

About 60% of the cost of each gallon of gas you purchase goes to the crude oil producer. So, at, say, $2.50 a gallon for gas, roughly $1.50 goes to the crude oil producer. And of the $1.50, on average, about 60 cents goes to an OPEC country. Now, Saudi Arabia may be our “friend”, but that government is perched perilously on a pedestal composed of some rather radical Islamic elements; and Venezuela makes no attempt to hide their anti-American bent. And yet, every time we buy a gallon of gas, we enrich these countries. It makes no sense to me. Conservatives, I would think, would be trying desperately to end our dependence on such. And they should, I would think, be smart enough to know that we can’t possibly drill our way to another 5 or 6 million barrels of oil a day, which would require us to double our current output. So why, exactly, is raising the efficiency of our cars such a terrible idea?