Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Winter Squirrels

Winter Squirrels

Winter comes and autumn goes
And so any squirrel knows
To hunker down when it’s cold
In cozy dens with many friends
Curled up in balls of fir
Hardly wanting
From the frozen morn that’s dawning
From their sleeping bliss to stir
Purring softly, dreaming jolly thoughts of play
Warmed by nuts and leaves and odds and ends
They sleep, but

Should the day be bright and warm
The squirrels are up to play
An hour or two, no more
To find the scraps of bread
I left the night before
Then it’s back to bed

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Free-riding - Nordhouse

Free-riding, Nordhouse 

 Sea gulls are free-riders.

sea gulls are free-riders

Reality check, in a group project, some always sit and watch while others do the work. That is called “free-riding.” And the problem is that given enough “free-riders” everyone quits working. No one and nothing works. So says Yale economist William D. Nordhaus, truth-sayer of climate change economics. But the truth of the matter is that it goes beyond climate change. A few of his examples are jumping the turnstiles on the subway, leaving dirty dishes in the sink for others to wash, not pitching in for pizza, but why not throw in picking up the trash in city parks, public welfare, and paying taxes. 

It seems that we can’t agree on free-riding and climate change, but that is part of the theory, we can’t make up our minds as a group. 

And what does it matter? As another economist, John Maynard Keynes, said, “In the long run we are all dead,” whether from waiting for humanity to accept that 7 billion human beings can change the climate for the good as well as the bad,  a failed nation-state, or simply old age.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Where do Bees go in Winter?

If you are a cranky old man like me, then you are asking: 

Where do bees go in the winter? 

Honey Bee on a Button Bush

In summer, the worker bees have gathered pollen into the pollen baskets on their back legs, carried it back to the hive where it is used for the developing brood. 

Now it is winter and the bees have a big job —take care of the queen bee. This means they must keep her safe and warm. So, worker bees surround the queen and form a cluster with their bodies, then flutter their wings and shiver.


Bees die of hypothermia if their body temperatures are lowered to approximately 7 degrees Centigrade, so the colder it gets the more they flap their wings.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The moment or the memory

Beech Lake

A Poet, too, was there, whose verse

Was tender, musical, and terse;

The inspiration, the delight,
The gleam, the glory, the swift flight,

Of thoughts so sudden, that they seem

The revelations of a dream,
All these were his; but with them came
No envy of another's fame;

He did not find his sleep less sweet,

For music in some neighboring street
Nor rustling hear in every breeze
The laurels of Miltiades.

Honor and blessings on his head

While living, good report when dead,
Who, not too eager for renown,
Accepts, but does not clutch, the crown!
Longfellow, The Prelude from The Wayside Inn

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Two cats in the yard

Our house is a very, very fine house with two cats in the yard, life used to be so hard, Now everything is easy cause of you ... Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Our House, album Déjà Vu, 1970.
The very private Canadian Joni Mitchell opens up to Mark Bego (Joni Mitchell, Mark Bego, 2005.) revealing the story behind her brief time with Brit Graham Nash. Nash even wrote a song about their time together, Our House. Graham Nash is living with Joni Mitchell and her two cats in a house on Laurel Canyon in LA. After breakfast Nash bought a cheap vase on Ventura Boulevard, stuck a flower in it and gave it to Mitchell.

two cats in the yard, life need not be so hard

Nash wrote the song in an hour, on Mitchell's piano. 

Graham Nash tells Terri Gross the story on NPR's Fresh Air. 

Okay, you know this is not Laurel Canyon, not California, and not Joni Mitchell's house; and the vase with the flower is replaced by a cheap figure of a plastic man in bright yellow and blue. 

Two cats, but only one chair to watch the world go by in Mt. Moriah, Missouri. A cooler behind the file cabinet from which to grab a frosty one. 

Life need not be so hard. But it was. After Joni broke up with Nash in 1969, he plus buddies Crosby, Stills and Young, came out with the album Déjà Vu and she went off to Greece and the island of Crete where she slept on the rocks in a cave with Carey. 

I'll let the Wall Street Journal take up the story from here. Life used to be so hard.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Quit your bitchin'

Any cranky old  fool can criticize, condemn and complain - and most fools do. Benjamin Franklin

The shorten modified version comes from Dale Carnegie. A misplaced and long ago forgotten longer version, part of a self-improvement plan Franklin drew up as a young man in 1726, goes:

 ...I resolve to speak ill of no man whatever, not even in a matter of truth; but rather by some means excuse the faults I hear charged upon others, and upon proper occasions speak all the good I know of every body.

While we are on the topic of fools, let's quote Buck Owens:
There's no fool like an old fool 
That's loved and lost at least a hundred times 
There's no fool like an old fool 
That keeps on falling for the same old line.

his and hers?

Fools come in all sizes, shapes, and ages, mostly recognizable to everyone but the fool. The old man has lots of things to bitch about, still he keeps them to himself.

As Lou Holtz said, “Never tell your problems to anyone...20% don't care and the other 80% are glad you have them.”

Friday, October 30, 2015

What one thing guides you in life?

Daughter (to father): What one thing is your one guiding principle in life?

Old Man : Be curious and ejoy life.

Daughter: That is two things.

Old Man: Then, 'Be curious.' Curiosity drives the human mind to new experiences and consequently to life's enjoyment.

Be ... more curious about ideas - Marie Curie

Vacationing with her husband in Brittany, Marie Curie was mistaken as a housekeeper by a reporter seeking an interview and asked if she could reveal any titillating gossip. 

This was her response.

"Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas."

[As told in Living Adventures in Science‎ (1972), by Henry Thomas and Dana Lee Thomas]

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Secret of the Sea

The mystery of the sea

The Secret of the Sea

By Henry Wordsworth Longfellow

Ah! what pleasant visions haunt me

  As I gaze upon the sea!

All the old romantic legends,

  All my dreams, come back to me.

Sails of silk and ropes of sandal,

  Such as gleam in ancient lore;

And the singing of the sailors,

  And the answer from the shore!

[Tell me of] the Spanish ballad…

Of the noble Count Arnaldos…

Like the long waves on a sea-beach,

  Where the sand as silver shines,

With a soft, monotonous cadence,

  Flow its unrhymed lyric lines;--

Tell [me] how the Count Arnaldos,…

Saw a fair and stately galley,…

How he heard the ancient helmsman

  Chant a song so wild and clear,

That the sailing sea-bird slowly

  Poised upon the mast to hear,

Till his soul was full of longing,

  And he cried, with impulse strong,--

"Helmsman! for the love of heaven,

  Teach me, too, that wondrous song!"

"Wouldst thou,"--so the helmsman answered,

  "Learn the secret of the sea?

Only those who brave its dangers

  Comprehend its mystery!"

In each sail that skims the horizon,

  In each landward-blowing breeze,

I behold that stately galley,

  Hear those mournful melodies;

Till my soul is full of longing

  For the secret of the sea,

And the heart of the great ocean

  Sends a thrilling pulse through me.

A slightly shortened version, the full version is found here.

my soul is full of longing for the secret of the sea