Bad Luck Is Not Better Than No Luck At All!

Don’t know why, but Lake Luxembourg is seemingly a bad-luck spot. It started last summer, when the Cooper threw a CV joint on the way up there from Andalusia. The car fortunately limped back home at least, but had to be towed in for repairs.

September rolled around and during another visit, my camera’s shutter motor died while photographing an osprey. Rather than sending it to Nikon for a costly repair, I decided to buy a new one instead.

A couple of months later, my big lens bit the dust there when the auto-focus died while photographing my beloved bald eagles, another situation where the repair would have cost more than half the price of the lens, my benchmark for buying a new one.

Things quieted down after that during my regular photo sessions at Core Creek Park, where the lake is located in Langhorne, PA; but, as the lyric goes in the Grateful Dead’s song, “Uncle John’s Band”:

… when life looks like easy street, there is danger at your door.

Toward the end of March this year, a gust of wind tipped over my tripod as I turned my back while answering someone who walked over to ask me if I had seen the bald eagles at the lake. The camera and big lens ended up straddling the road’s guardrail, which prevented the whole shebang from crashing on the pavement.

The person left in a hurry without even saying thanks or goodbye as I was cussing under my breath and up-righting the assemblage to check for damage. I lucked out this time, for the camera and lens functions were unharmed, although the auto-focus went out of adjustment as a result, causing blurry images.

Dagnabbit, I thought. Actually that wasn’t the exact phrase, but you get the idea. Not wanting to send the lens back to the manufacturer for repair, and being without it for a few weeks, I bought what’s called a “USB dock” at a local camera shop, which attaches the lens to a computer. Software comes with the device to fine-tune the lens’ functions, one of which is the auto-focus.

The process is a bit of a hassle, for which I took my laptop to one of my birding spots to take pictures at various focal lengths, looking at the resultant photos on the computer for clarity, and tweaking the lens adjustment, one way or another until the following images were sharp. It took me a good hour to get it done, but was worth the effort.

On this past Thursday, I visited Lake Luxembourg and discovered the nesting pair of bald eagles are proud parents of two eaglets for the season. Below are a couple of photos of the mother and offspring, which were taken from about 1,000 feet/0.3 kilometers away:

One Eaglet on April 18, 2019
Two Eaglets on April 18, 2019

I was so happy to have discovered them. The father was out on a mission to get some grub for his youngsters and mate. I moved to my usual spot where I park the Cooper, which is right before the bridge on Woodbourne Road, going northerly. One can’t see the nest from there, but overhead is the route the birds take back home usually from hunting at Neshaminy Creek, or elsewhere around the lake.

Incidentally, if you look up 1998 Woodbourne Road, Langhorne, PA, on Google Earth, bring it up and zoom down to street level, my car is parked at the spot at which I just mentioned. Continue north and there’s yours truly wearing my favorite flowered shirt and Phillies’ cap:

Woodbourne Road, Langhorne, PA
Mike Slickster on the right
Mike Slickster on the left

While I was waiting for Louie to come back, the name I’ve given the adult-male bald eagle, a guy came up the road with a fishing pole and gear, and walked over to me. He asked what in particular was I photographing, and I explained about the eagles, ospreys, herons, red-winged blackbirds, kingfishers, egrets, mourning doves, turtles, deer, etc.

Coming towards us was Louie, which I pointed him out to the guy and took a few photos:

Amazement shone through the fisherman’s eyes like beams of light. The fellow said, “If I give you a few dollars, would you mail me a picture of that bald eagle?

I asked him if he had e-mail, to which I would send a few shots for free. He began to recite it. “Hold on a minute, let me put it in my phone,” I said, placing my camera and big lens on the roof of the Cooper and started to input the address as he began to tell me it again.

“Bang, boom, crash” were the sounds I heard next as the camera and lens came falling down off the car, hitting the passenger door with the lens shoe that attaches the assembly to a tripod, leaving a few horrendous scratches behind. I attempted to catch it after it slammed into my back, but it landed on pavement.

Man, did I go off with a litany of obscenities. Luckily, if one can consider that luck, the car door and my back broke the assembly’s fall and cushioned the landing. Everything worked like the last time it fell, but again, the auto-focus went out of adjustment.

“God, I’m so sorry,” the fisherman said. “I really feel bad.”

“Aw, don’t worry about it. Shit happens. It could have been worse,” I said, telling him I would send a photo of Louie after downloading all the pictures. He thanked me, went across the street and down the bank to the lake.

Tomorrow I plan on going out to a birding site again to adjust the lens. I took some pics with it today, but it really needs to be tweaked to get rid of the blur at infinity focal length. Having sent the guy the pictures above, I’ve yet to hear back from him, even though a request to let me know he got them was forwarded in the e-mail with the photos.

I could go off on a tirade about that, but did already on a previous weekly diatribe. Did I copy down his e-mail address incorrectly during the melee? That’s possible. Hopefully I’ll hear back and my faith in mankind will be restored.

Happy Easter and Passover to those who celebrate the religious holidays. Lent will be over at twelve midnight tonight, as far as I’m concerned; although, it was over officially on Thursday night. I’ve yet to post on Social Media again. Don’t know if I will return. Life for me has been relatively peaceful as the result of abstaining from it.

Thanks for stopping by and for your continued support.

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Ode to Tax Day and Ticks

Deer Tick

Must be slacking,
No need for reacting,
Got my taxes done way ahead of time,
Well, make that six days before the deadline.

Used to wait until the last minute,
For my anxiety to be remitted,
By getting the income-tax envelope postmarked by midnight every April 15th,
Wiping the sweat from my brow in great relief.

Why did I procrastinate for so long,
Pushing it off until tax day was almost gone?
It was something I always did,
A tradition, started when I was a kid.

Maybe I like to live life on the edge,
Pushing the envelope, hanging out on the ledge,
Perhaps that’s a bit of insanity,
Manifested by idiosyncrasy.

Did my taxes last year on April the 8th,
A week early, stopping my forthcoming haste,
Deciding to spare myself some grief,
Giving the pent-up stress a release.

Such a joy I felt,
Feeling my solicitude melt,
Leaving me footloose and fancy-free,
So much a better way to be.

So in 2019, procrastination again became a heavy load,
My waiting for the last minute to take hold,
Less than a week was left,
I again turned into a nervous wreck.

Why allow such melancholy?
Has masochism become my folly,
Dragging my heart so low?
Disquietude has become my foe.

No reason to wait for the end,
I did my taxes on the 9th with a pen.
It’s such cheer to realize the task is done,
Party time has again begun.

I’m even getting a federal refund this year,
Eight dollars and twenty-one cents, enough to buy some beer,
But I had to pay PA some state income tax,
Cancelling out what I was getting back.

Another tax year lies ahead,
Filing next April will leave me once again in the red,
Which is why procrastination rears its ugly head,
Making me wait until the deadline instead.

One-hundred eighty-seven words are left to go,
To make my five-hundred-word quota below.
What else can I write for this tirade in rhyme,
Scouring my brain for something to find?

Spring has sprung,
The grass has risen,
‘Tis now the season,
To get tick-bitten.

How I worry about those nasty nits,
Inspecting my garments whenever I sit,
Making sure no insects are climbing up,
To make a tasty meal of my blood.

Trekking in the woods often as I do,
Is bound to land a tick on my shoe,
Or in my hair if my head is bare,
Which is why a hat I wear.

Once at home after taking off my boots,
Stripping off all the clothes while hoping not to find an arachnid taking root,
I’ll inspect my body from the top of my noggin to the tip of my big toe,
Using a mirror to check my derriere and parts below.

Too much info, you doth say?
Why isn’t that OK?
This just serves as a warning,
To prevent ticks on your skin from boring.

Lyme disease might result,
Which can make one’s life difficult.
Sometimes it’s incurable,
This is not a lot of bull.

Now my quota is met,
This poem is over, but just not yet.
Now every time I feel an itch,
I think a tick is crawling inch by inch.

Thanks for stopping by and for your continued support,
Allowing me to rant and rave with poetic rapport;
Although sometimes it may not rhyme,
I’m glad you decided to take the time.

Doesn’t it suck when Youtube clips cut off a song’s ending?

April 18, 2019 – As an update: I was at Sarobia on Tuesday, hanging out in the Back 40 while looking for the hawks that usually soar by but haven’t in a while. Deciding to trek through to the other side, I glanced down at the fallen tree on which I always sit when photographing in the old field, and happened to see this:

Deer Tick on April 16, 2019

Before taking the next photo, I checked my clothing and found one on my pants, which flew off immediately by no means of its own:

The above nit looked as if it were beckoning me to sit my rump back down. Worse yet, last night I pulled one out from the right side of my head. Now I’m really paranoid all over again, and will be staying out of there for the rest of tick season.

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Making America Great!

If it was up to Ben Franklin, the turkey would be our national bird.

Let’s jump right into the craziness that’s found around the U.S.A. lately, shall we?

A Cleveland, Ohio, man had ordered one cup of coffee at a McDonald’s drive-thru. When picking up his order at the window, the fast-food restaurant’s employee accidentally handed him two cups of coffee instead.

The clerk had re-checked the customer’s order in the meantime and asked to see his receipt, upon which time the man laughed allegedly and told her he had ordered both cups. When the woman requested to see his receipt a second time, the perpetrator whipped the tray of hot coffee back inside the drive-thru’s window before taking off, injuring the server who was hospitalized for injuries sustained as a result.

The incident was recorded by the store’s security cameras both in and outside the restaurant, showing the act of violent behavior on the customer’s part, resulting in first-degree burns to the victim’s neck and shoulder. The police were called and the man was arrested shortly thereafter not far down the road from the McDonalds.

He was indicted on two counts of second-degree felonious assault, each of which carries a maximum sentence of eight years in prison.

Elsewhere in the nation, a New Port Richey, Florida, woman was arrested for tossing pizza at the owner of a pizzeria for not being satisfied with the service, claiming the cheese on the pie was rotten, causing her son to vomit. She demanded a refund.

The owner claimed he would not refund the order but was going to make her another pie when the customer went bonkers. After the multiple slice-throwing melee occurred, the crazed lady left the premises and returned to her car, when the owner wrote down her tag number and called the cops.

Upon their arrival to the restaurant, the police reported that they found the proprietor’s head and chest covered in tomato sauce. Tracing the license plate, the authorities arrested the woman at her home. She was charged with one count of pizza battery.

Why do I keep thinking of the movie, Animal House, and the scene, “Food Fight”?

Not for the faint of heart.

In other insanity, a high-school junior from the Sweetwater Union School District in California jumped into a shark tank at the Living Coast Discovery Center in Chula Vista.

Claiming he did it for a bet in exchange for cash and a designer belt, the courageous Generation Z’er after the fact was reported as saying he regretted it, adding, “I didn’t think of the consequences that were going to happen, and I realize it was very dangerous now that I did it.”

Of course, someone video-captured the event with their smartphone.

The youngster, who got into all kinds of trouble, is required to do thirty hours of community service at the center. He was quoted by news outlets as saying, “I’m looking forward to helping them out after what I did. I want to apologize to all the chaperones there and all the teachers that were there, making them look bad. I regret it.”

It’s quite reassuring that our country’s future looks bright with forthcoming leaders like the shark jumper.

As an update to a previous entry about the state of the ospreys’ population in my area, I’d like to report all the pairs are present and accounted for. As of today’s final tally on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River, here’s the revised distribution map:

Click here for the full-size image.

Photos of the latest birds will be put up on the 2019 photo-journal for the raptors soon, which can be found by clicking here. The next part of the survey will be counting the young in about five to six weeks from now.

Thanks for stopping by and for your continued support.

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Ah, Those Were the Good Old Days

What do you see?

Funny how people when reminiscing end their remembrances with the comment, “Ah, those were the good old days.” My folks did it, talking about going to the movie theaters, buying popcorn and a drink, sitting through two full-length features, a newsreel, and a couple of cartoons, all for just two shiny dimes, made of silver, by the way. Gasoline cost eighteen cents per gallon.

How about shave and a haircut, two bits? That was something my grandparents sang about. They too would utter, “Ah, those were the good old days.”

Facebook has groups dedicated to various locales, named typically as, “You know you are from (Any Town, U.S.A.) if…,” where folks post pictures and anecdotes about the way things were way back then, followed by threads of comments made by members with many “Ah, those were the good old days.”

It’s all relative. Most reminiscing is about when an individual was young, full of energy and drive, had a head full of hair, a taut derriere and could see their shoes when looking down while standing up.

During the good, old days, they didn’t worry about how gravity effects parts of one’s anatomy, or how every day brings something else about which to complain, and claiming society in the past cared more about one another.

Often well-meaning friends pass on e-mails about how things were in the good, old days. I just got one the other day from a fellow baby boomer, with observations like:

You’d reach into a muddy gutter for a penny made with real copper, looking to see if it was a minted in 1943.

Your mom wore nylons that came in two pieces.

Your car’s windshield got cleaned, oil checked and gas was pumped for free every time. Air for the tires was also free, and a customer got trading stamps to boot.

Laundry detergent had free glasses, dishes or towels hidden inside the box.

Being taken out to dinner at a real restaurant by your parents was considered a great privilege.

Schools threatened to keep kids back a grade if they failed, and they did it.

Remember lying on your back in the grass with your friends and saying things such as, “That cloud looks like a _________ (you fill in the blank)”?

Kids could play baseball without adults watching and enforcing the rules of the game.

Stuff from the store came without safety caps and hermetic seals because no one had tried yet to poison a perfect stranger.

The list goes on, but I’m sure you get the idea. Generation X and Y join in by remarking the fun times they spent hanging out at malls, video arcades, watching Nickelodeon and MTV.

One thing that’s striking is the fact that all the aforementioned generations were brought up in times before the illustrious Internet, for which Millennials and Generation Z’ers are not familiar with living without it and what to do with themselves when the batteries in their smartphones go dead without a charger in sight.

This makes me wonder about what the latter generations are going to reminisce, because for them, these are the good old days.

Thanks for stopping by and for your continued support.

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State of the Osprey Breeding Season for 2019

Spring has sprung,
Still feels like winter,
Maybe that’s why,
My ospreys aren’t hither.

Click Image for Full-Size

On the distribution map above for the 2019 osprey season, the sites labeled with white borders and red letters are those at which one or a pair have returned so far. The notations with white lettering and red borders are vacant-nest locations, determined by past occupants. The two with red lettering and black borders are no longer utilized for nesting.

Used to be like clockwork when the ospreys in my neighborhood arrived back to their nest atop Andalusia’s old Mud Island range marker in the Delaware River. From the time I started observing them back in 2013, the raptors returned on every St. Patrick’s Day (March 17th)—give or take a couple of days.

That changed at the start of the past two breeding seasons for the fish hawks, who spend winters mostly south of the equator in South America, and come back in spring to reproduce. Snow storms hampered their migration north in 2017 and 2018, forcing their arrival in this region to be late by a week or so.

This year, a nor’easter passed through on Thursday and Friday, bringing rain and gusty winds this time rather than snow after the spring equinox. Perhaps that’s why a large portion of the resident nesting pairs in my study area are missing in action, which has me worried.

Two pairs of ospreys were present last Sunday on St. Paddy’s Day at their nesting sites, north of Burlington Island called “Radcliffe,” as seen on the distribution map above. Two birds are on a channel buoy, while the other two are atop a channel marker, both in very close proximity. In the left photo below, the female was waiting for the male to return with a stick or two, as both were building their nest.

The photo on the right shows the female on the solar panel, eating a fish, as the male is catching some well-deserved shut-eye:

On Monday, I visited Neshaminy State Park, across from which is Beverly, NJ, and another yellow tower that hosts a pair. One of them was present and roosting in the nest. Hard to tell its gender, but I’m guessing it’s the male. His mate wasn’t around yet.

During the rest of the week, I checked for the return of both sets of Riverton ospreys, the Pennypack Creek pair, the Andalusian birds, Pen Ryn’s raptors, the Herringbone fish hawks; and looked to see if, perchance, the Marina tower was occupied, none of which were.

Yesterday, I took a tour of the New Jersey side of the Delaware River to survey the towers that are viewable only from there: the Burlington Bristol Bridge ospreys and the Croydon Chemical pair, as well as all the remainder of the nests south, which are all visible from the aforementioned riverfront..

Strange that every one was vacant still, except for the Pennypack Creek channel marker, as seen from Riverton, New Jersey, in the grainy photo below. I’ll have to visit Pennypack Park on the Delaware to get a better shot in the future.

The following are the vacant markers of the missing ospreys as of this writing:

The Delaware River was very choppy, looking more like a bay, as the remnants of the nor’easter lingered yesterday:

Today, I was at Lake Luxembourg, photographing the bald eagles and other fine-feathered friends, when a female osprey graced me with her presence, as if she stopped by to say hello.

Was nice to see her back again. The weather is turning milder at the middle of next week, so hopefully the remainder of the fish hawks will be back by then. In case you’re interested and want to keep up with their status, a photo journal of this season’s ospreys is found by clicking here.

That wraps up this week’s entry. Thanks for stopping by and for your continued support.

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To Eat or Not to Eat: You’ll Find Out If It Kills You!

Pardon the bad yoke!

Back in the ’70s, nutritionists noted that eggs provided too much LDL (bad) cholesterol in one’s diet, a prime factor for heart disease; and eating them on a regular basis should be avoided.

A couple of years ago, studies found harmful cholesterol was determined and triggered by saturated fats like those found in sausage, bacon and other processed meats. Alone, the amount of LDL in eggs was believed to be negligible.

According to the University of Michigan, egg yolks contain vitamins A, D, E and K, as well as lutein, and zeaxanthin: both of which “lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration and heart disease.

Two years later, after my having splurged on massive quantities of eggs for breakfast, the latest report states that 300mg of dietary cholesterol daily equals 17% higher risk of cardiovascular disease, and 18% risk of death.

Considering each egg consists of 186mg of cholesterol, more than one eaten daily can decrease one’s lifespan. I wish these damned nutritionists would make up their minds.

Back in the ’90s, my doctor recommended I take four globules of fish oil daily for keeping my cholesterol levels in check. I did so until 2013 and stopping after reading an article in my AARP Bulletin, warning against popping omega-3 fish-oil globules regularly in large doses, or eating fatty fish more than twice a week.

Why? Studies had shown that men with high levels of fish oil in their bloodstreams were at a greater risk for developing fatal prostate tumors. Damned if I did; damned if I didn’t. Not only could fish-oil globules knock me off, but my regular, beloved eating of fish could kill me too.

As a kid, I was told that letting a dog lick a wound was considered good for the treatment and healing of such, and would let a canine do so in many instances. Recently, I read about doctors having been forced to amputate a man’s legs and parts of his hands, as a result of sepsis from a dog’s licking a cut.

Another recent article stated a woman had lost limbs and eyesight to sepsis after a cat had licked her. Fortunately, I lucked out and escaped that diabolical fate, which makes me count my blessings.

Been good so far abiding by my Lenten abstinence with regards to not eating meat on Fridays, even though I’ve substituted eggs, fish, pasta and peanut butter for the former, not a very healthy alternative considering the topics covered in this weeks diatribe.

Also, my abstaining from posting and logging onto Social Media has been a success thus far. I don’t miss it or the aggravation of being ignored especially. There is life actually beyond being obsessed with the Internet.

Speaking of obsession, a woman crossed a barrier at the Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium and Safari Park in Arizona last Saturday, suffering serious injuries after being attacked by a jaguar within reach. You see, she was hell-bent on capturing a viral selfie to post on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, or whichever Social Media platform was her preference.

Vanity along with the animal’s sharp, swiping claws were responsible for the deep gashes left on her arm. The gal was lucky that’s all she ended up with. Guaranteed she took a selfie of herself in bandages to post instead.

So much for another informative tirade to digest. Thanks for stopping in and for your continued support.

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Abstinence and Social Annoyances

My Lenten Abstinences

Was happy to see all the comments regarding my previous post, which asked those who observe such things: what do you plan on giving up for Lent? Ha! That’s a laugh. I’d probably have a heart attack if readers of this journal started commenting like those who do on most all of the other blogs I’ve read.

Either no one who peruses these pages are Catholic, or everyone gave up commenting for the Lenten season and the rest of year for that matter. I just don’t understand why people don’t post anything here. My stats’ log shows daily visits by many. Is the content of these tirades not interesting enough to warrant a remark?

I must be a dreadful bore. The same goes for my posts on Twitter and Facebook. So with that in mind, I’ve decided to give up Social Media for Lent. No biggie. Surely no one will probably notice. A mention on Twitter of my giving it up for 40 days got a like from someone who was most likely happy to see me go away.

Along with Social Media, for anyone who may be interested, I’ve also given up eating meat on Fridays during Lent, something practicing Catholics are still required to do all year round but don’t really know it.

I just found that out, having been under the assumption that Vatican II abolished the practice. Actually the National Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a “Pastoral Statement on Penance and Abstinence” in 1966 which declared:

Among the works of voluntary self-denial and personal penance which we especially commend to our people for the future observance of Friday, even though we hereby terminate the traditional law of abstinence binding under pain of sin, as the sole prescribed means of observing Friday, we give first place to abstinence from flesh meat. We do so in the hope that the Catholic community will ordinarily continue to abstain from meat by free choice as formerly we did in obedience to Church law.

Note in the above passage the authors stated, “We do so in the hope that the Catholic community will ordinarily continue to abstain from meat by free choice…,” which also inferred their expectation for abstinence. From that point onward, Catholics followed only the part about “No more no meat on Fridays” and ignored the rest.

Anyway, I’m sure this doesn’t concern the majority of my readers, but relaying the information was a great way to eat up my 500-word quota for this week’s diatribe. Will I continue to abstain from eating meat on Fridays after Lent? Maybe is all I can promise for now, even though it’s a healthy thing to do. Paul McCartney would be so proud of me.

What about Social Media? Will I return there as well when Lent ends officially? As in the often-said words of President Donald J. Trump, “We’ll see what happens.”

Typically, when I finish a weekly entry in this journal and publish it, my Twitter and Facebook accounts post a snippet automatically with a link to the latest article here at WordPress, which will no longer happen until after Lent, since I’ve given both up for the duration. LinkedIn will still receive notifications, as I don’t consider that as being “Social Media,” even though my connections there don’t make comments either.

Thanks, as always, for stopping in and for your continued support.

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