Troutbirder II

Troutbirder II
Click on Mark Twain to jump to Troutbirders book review blog

Monday, December 11, 2017

How It All Began

On February 14, 2008 I made my first post on a nature blog I titled Troutbirder after two of my favorite hobbies. The picture below of an osprey and a trout seemed perfect.....My son and his spouse were planning a trip to Africa to adopt a small  child in an orphanage. He left me with instructions to access several blogs explaining  the experiences of other people who had also gone to that far away continent  for adoptions. Then my son and  spouse set off on their momentous journey. Mrs T and I were left "babysitting" our first grandson pictured below....
Looking at the blogs I had a "I can do this moment." The rest is history as they say. The nature blog Troutbirder followed. My original goal was to provide a weekly update, to my far away son, of his father's outdoor activities. Later, when I also discovered this "hobby" was a great way to meet fun and interesting people, that goal broadened to include stories (mostly true) that might bring a smile to their faces. I hope I've succeeded.  Much later, I added a second blog, Troutbirder II to be a catchall for book and movie reviews,  some bad jokes, the occasional rant, and other odds and ends.
   Now as we all learn passing through the seasons of our lives it becomes time to adapt. I don't do a lot of things involving athletics, exploring nature, fishing hunting skiing, canoeing the Canadian wilderness and even walking my dog 5 miles while doing photography anymore.  Yikes that was an ugly long sentence. I'm sure you got the idea early on. And now I'm good sitting in my recliner watching my bird feeder, taking Miss Lily the GSD for short walks, always returning to my lifetime habit of reading and reading.....
So this is not an announcement of my finally giving up blogging or worse yet, switching to Facebook or god forbid Trumps Twitter platform.  It's just less adventures in nature  an towards a more gentle switch to reminiscences and other memoirs.  Folktales (a.k.a.) fishing and hunting stories and bad jokes will continue. I hope you stick with me and enjoy. :)

Below Troutbirder in his new adventure venue with Simba and lots of good books close by....:)
 

Monday, December 4, 2017

Away At War - A Civil War Story of the Family Left Behind

This Civil War novel based on actual letters between a soldier volunteer and his very young family is set not too far from where I live. I would describe it as quite a bit grittier than Little House on the Prairie.  For more details and my take on Away At War Click on Mark Twain above...
 
 
 
 

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Computer Gender

As a followup to my previous post on my first computer years of training in the field led me to agree with the following analysis.


An email from one of Mrs. T's legion of female correspondents....

A SPANISH Teacher was explaining to her class that in Spanish, unlike English, nouns are designated as either masculine or feminine.
'House' for instance, is feminine: 'la Casa.'
 'Pencil,' however, is
 masculine: 'el lapiz.' 
 A student asked, 'What gender is 'computer'?'
 Instead of giving the answer, the teacher split the class into two  
groups, male and female, and asked them to decide for themselves  
whether computer' should be a masculine or a feminine noun. Each  
group was asked to give four reasons
 for its recommendation.
The men's group decided that 'computer' should definitely be of the  
 feminine gender ('la computadora'), because:
 1. No one but their creator understands their internal logic;

2. The native language they use to communicate with other computers is incomprehensible to everyone else;

3. Even the smallest mistakes are stored in long term memory for possible later retrieval; and

4. As soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself spending half your paycheck on accessories for it.

 The women's group, however, concluded that computers should be  Masculine ('el computador'), because:
 1. In order to do anything with them, you have to turn them on;

2. They have a lot of data but still can't think for themselves;

3. They are supposed to help you solve problems, but half the time they ARE the problem; and            
4. As soon as you commit to one, you realize that if you had waited  a little longer, you could have gotten a better model.
The women won.
 

Saturday, November 25, 2017

My First Computer Remembered

The following story is true. Only the names have been changed to protect both the guilty and the oblivious. The math department, under my classroom neighbor Creps, was the first to have a computer (an Apple) in the classroom. I soon borrowed the manual wanting to keep up with the times. It seems you had to "program" it yourself. Whatever that meant. I managed to accomplish the feat and showed some of my economics students how to use the machine. I plowed ahead requesting the second classroom computer to arrive in our high school. I had reported that my senior economics students were making graphs to show the linkage between certain demographic data and levels of economic development. The situation cried out for a computer solution as a more efficient means of producing a correlation co-efficient. I thought I might finally get some use for the knowledge gained in my college "Statistical Analysis" class. I finally got the computer for classroom use and a leave to attend a two day "Computer In The Classroom" seminar in Rochester, Minnesota.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Carrying the spanking new Apple II to the class, as required, I arrived at the site of the meeting early in the morning. It was the Holiday Inn. I knew where the meeting room was as we often had our regional union meetings there. Parking was a problem in the front , so I settled in on a residential street behind the motel rather than carry the computer all the way around to the front entrance, I opted to check a back door. Fortunately, it was unlocked and I entered a large very dimly lighted room. It was then that I saw a red exit sign across a large space.Pausing to look carefully about, it was then that I realized I was in the swimming pool area. Walking slowly, in the dim light, I proceeded to skirt the pool by a wide margin. And stepped blindly into an unnoticed kiddie pool, plunging head first, computer in hand, into about two feet of water. On my knees I lifted the computer out of the water and stood up. I was soaked from the knees down but otherwise remarkably dry. I then entered the a vacant hallway to the restaurant and found myself a bathroom. With about fifteen minutes to go, before the class was scheduled, the hand blow dryer was put to use on my pants and the dripping machine. "Mr Troutbirder?" I heard when I finally entered the meeting room. "Present", I said quietly, trying to be as unobtrusive as possible. I took the last empty chair available next to a fellow teacher, who appeared to be the motherly elementary school type. Setting the schools precious and no longer dripping computer on the table in front of me, I mumbled something about hoping it would work. "Mine too," the kindly lady said smiling. "This computer business is totally new to me," she added. To that, I tried to nod as sagely as possible and pointed to myself. Then for some strange reason my computer failed to "boot up." Upon raising my hand for help from the instructor, he was unable to determine the cause of the malfuntion. We were all puzzled! It turned out that the third grade teacher was willing to share her computer with me. She caught on quickly to the mechanics of computer operations and nurtured me thru the entire class. I thanked her profusely I returned to my high school later the next day computer in hand.  With as straight a face as I could manage  our high school principal Mr. Landover was informed that he had saddled me with a faulty piece of equipment. A new and improved model arrived shortly thereafter in my classroom and thus I was well on my way to becoming the "computer guru" of the History Department. I've also been avoiding kiddie pools ever since....

Monday, November 20, 2017

Reading and Glasses


Having a good time last night at a Mississippi riverside bar and grill with friends, I surely had my glasses with me as the photo shows in my pocket. So much for finishing the book I was reading today . I can't find them. Wonder if.....?  In any case a book review was in order so I'll have to substitute Plan B.  An insight into some of the pluses and minuses of my well into 70 aging process.
A profound list is on Troutbirder II which you may quickly reach by clicking Mark Twain above...:)
 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Beautiful Tundra Swans



It's that time of the year again, mid to late November when Mrs. T and I  head down to the "Big River". The Mississippi River that is where we witness one of those true wonders of nature.  There, the Mississippi National Wildlife Refuge provides a safe haven for millions of migratiing waterfowl each fall. We, however, always have a special target in mind. Migrating from their summer breeding grounds in the northern Arctic, tens of thousands of beautiful large white birds, wend there way south to stop, rest, and refuel on the Mississippi River near Brownsville, Minnesota. They pause here, usually for a few weeks, before turning southeast, heading for their wintering grounds on Chesapeake Bay. They are the beautiful Tundra Swans.











Here, on a backwater  we see hundreds of swans and ducks. In the distance, beyond the screen of trees, a barge is moving down the main channel of the river. With Wisconsin in the distance, perhaps a mile away, we can see many more. Sometimes, huge "rafts" of these birds seem to turn the entire river white. When we step out of car, the sound of their vocalizations is almost deafening. Some are even close enough to us to get a picture. On occasion a few fly over us, but I'm not a skilled enough photographer to get a decent picture. Another wonder can occur; on some visits I've counted well over several hundred Bald Eagles. If the sun is out and thermals rise above the bluffs, we can see them "kettle." They form a spiral rising almost out of sight. Late migrating white pelicans also use this river highway. Awkward looking on the ground, they are magnificent soaring aloft as they head south to the Gulf.

With the construction of the lock and dam system on the river in the 1930's, many of the natural aspects of the river have changed. One of these is the wave action of the increased open spaces. Many islands have disappeared. Because of this many of the plants and tubers the swans fed on have also disappeared. Now man is undoing the damage and helping the birds by using dredge material from the main channel to rebuild these islands. Here you can see one of the many artificial islands providing a resting place and shelter from the wind and renewed food supplies. Way to go DNR and Army Corps of Engineers!

On November 15th the official estimate was ten thousand swan in the immediate vicinity. Some years we have seen upward of thirty thousand. The only thing I have ever seen to compare to it is the annual migration of sandhill cranes into the Platte River Valley in Nebraska.

 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Robert Redford Cake Got Me In Trouble





Directions  -

 
•Melt butter; mix with flour and press into baking pan.

•Pour pecans over and press down.

•Bake 15 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

•Cool.

•Mix cream cheese with confectioners' sugar and peanut butter.

•Mix well.

•Pour over crust.

•Mix vanilla and chocolate pudding mixes with the milk and Cool Whip.

It might seem the raging issue of  sexual harassment should not be the instigator of a wry grin on my part but….  Let us be clear, it is a the fact that its widespread existence is disgusting and immoral and I condemn it whole heartedly.  Still there is that wry grin. Let me explain.

It all began after my move to a new middle school after 26 years of teaching seniors social studies in our local high school. I volunteered for the move as I was ready for a new teaching experience.  It was a great  blending of a few high school teachers with a majority of teachers  with elementary experience. I loved it. The kids and parents loved it. Age appropriate at its best.

It just so happened that my lunch break coincided with a group of the female teachers. I was outnumbered.  One of the highlights was the ladies regularly brought cookies and other treats on a rotating basis. My limited culinary skills required an occasional trip to the local bakery for donuts…. On the day in question I was reminded to sample the cake on the counter. “What is it,? I asked.  “Robert Redford Cake! It’s really good they chorused.  They were right for sure I determined as I wolfed it down. “By the way it has another name, “ one chirped.  “huh”?   “It’s called better than sex cake” several revealed.   Talk about a stare down .  While quickly through my mind came the thought that the lady who baked the cake was very nice and thoughtful, several knew my spouse, gossip can be endemic in a very small town …. So I answered by clearly expressing my 5th amendment rights    One shook her head in dismay, two giggled pointing at me while the rest laughed heartedly.   Clearly I was the victim of some kind of harassment.  Perhaps gender harassment at its best….?
No doubt here sexual harassment at its worst.....

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

CSI






















Case 213 Location - Somwhere between Harmony and Preston in Bluff Country. Trauma - Contusions on the back of Mr. Troutbirders right leg. The victim was later treated by authorized medical personnel. He was released from care with non life threatening injuries. Photograph by Mrs. Troutbirder.   
                                                                          

                                                                      A  police report will follow shortly...

Mr. Troutbirder reported going down a moderately steep hill at safe speed when he began to slow down to stop and photograph a Lepidoptera Avuncular Halitosis. He somehow managed to remain upright in spite of being struck from behind by an inattentive biker . Stopping safely he raced back to find the inattentive biker laying prone on the pathway. Somewhat incoherent the perpetrator was mostly worried about locating his cellphone. Fortunately,  I had mine in my pocket and called for  medical help  not far away.

 The idiocy of tailgating while texting is obvious but I must say besides that when I first began biking some years ago now, when someone came up behind you to pass, they always beeped or said something akin to "on your right" or  "passing" etc. to warn you.  Not anymore. Its very rare. The lack of courtesy and common decency today is becoming appalling in many avenues of life. This was just a little one....:(