Troutbirder II

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

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Goldilocks and the Three Bears

A fresh and provocative book review on my other blog Troutbirder II

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Jesus The Outlaw

Mrs. T and I wish to share this Christmas message relayed from our friends Don and Sandy.  We thought it most appropriate for the true spirit of Christmas, especially now, here in America,  as well as around the World....
This Christmas our family is celebrating Jesus - not just the baby born in a lowly manger- but the outlaw. The Jesus who stood up for and cared for the lowest in society - the outcasts - the women and children - the foreigners and ethnics looked down upon. Jesus, the dark skinned, Middle Eastern , the very Son of God sent to show us how to love, sent to save us from ourselves. Our prayer is that God helps us love the way Jesus loves.

Sent on by Barb and Ray                              
Merry Christmas

Friday, December 22, 2017

Our Last Real Christmas Tree

I don't have a picture of our last real Christmas tree but the photo above gives a hint. So I'll explain.
Upon recollection it seems for years we had gone  to a local Christmas tree farm and searched for the perfect tree often coming close but....  Then one year after much searching we found one, cut it down and brought it home. It was perfectly shaped, filled with thick full branches and only a little too tall.  Mrs. T. and the boys stood it up in the proper place while I laid down,  got the trunk into the tree stand, screwed the fasteners tight and hollered "ok let it go".  Whereupon, it fell over on top of me.  So naturally, thinking I had goofed on the "put it in the Christmas stand part," I repeated that operation more carefully without any mistakes.   And, of course, it happened again. Now, using my great analytical skills, my and sons and I took it outside  to shorten the culprit believing it was too tall.   Voila! It was in that process we discovered  that  "the perfect tree" trunk  divided into two trunks and, of course,  they were of unequal weight.   Later, I learned that  this was the rare "WISHBONE TREE EFFECT.
    Many of you may remember when that bone was saved from  a whole chicken, a  contest ensued by two people pulling it apart. The person with the biggest piece got to make a wish.
The rest of the story.  I lost my temper regardless of the season and chucked the tree off the deck. Fortunately, Mrs. T came up the idea that we should go to Rochester and buy a beautiful artificial Christmas tree ready to go and we had for years without it ever falling over.  

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Winter Solstice Revealed


The Winter Solstice Revealed
The Winter Solstice (December 21) is literally and figuratively going to be the darkest day of the year, and it's all thanks to a rare cosmic incident that hasn't occurred in over 350 years.

 As if December hasn't been crazy enough, what with the erratic weather and Mercury and Washington D.C. going into retrogade, it is, according to astrologers, only going to get worse, with December 21 predicted to be the most horrendous day yet of 2017.


Neil Spencer, an astrologer and author, revealed that this year's Solstice is different from others in the past, because for the first time since 1664, the Sun will move into Capricorn, mere hours after Saturn makes the same exact shift; this will cause the sun and Saturn to actually line up, a phenomenon which is expected to have very uncomfortable consequences. Well, I have  had  unusual experiences related to the winter solstice as well.
It seems Mrs. T and our best friends, all teachers, took a long camping trip to Alaska in our new "POP UP CAMPER." Gary is checking it out below. We're on our way to Seward the next day.

The ladies had stopped in a supermarket in Anchorage to stock up on groceries. The checkouts there  informed that their will be a summer solstice "celebration" that night. This apparently is a big custom throughout Alaska and the world for that matter. It began with the Druids in very early England at a place call Stonehenge   (above)
Thus on the the Chugach mountain above Anchorage young people gather on the longest day of the year in wild revelry, according to our grocery shopping reporters. Mmmmm? Mary Jane and nude dancing? Naturally me and Gary wondered....:)

Later that evening, the campground had a lovely view and loons and wolves where  heard beyond the campfire. Since this is bear country, we were instructed by the ranger to leave the food and cosmetics in the SUV and not the camper. The summer solstice dinner consisted of shrimp and crackers for a first course, then Mrs. T comes up with tin-foil wrapped salmon grilled over the fire, corn, and cake for dessert. And champagne. Mmmm good.

It was at about this point that your two, somewhat staid, stick in the mud husbands, were informed that it was their duty to continue the festivities all night. It was an Alaskan custom, we were told. Plus, it would be light out all night long. Unfortunately, the two midwestern men, clinging to their conservative ways, rebelled and broke up the party by trudging off to bed, at the ungodly early hour of 2 a.m. in the morning.

 P.S. early the next day before heading off to the Kenai we talked to the local Ranger who informed us the ladies has jumped the gun by one day on the "solstice celebration".  Would you believe they wanted to do it again the next night.......:)

Friday, December 15, 2017


So as I mentioned in my previous post, the focus of Troutbirder will continue to slowly shift away from nature, travel and adventure to the more gentle pursuits of Mrs. T. and my "Golden Years"  A promise though, I will not include frequent descriptions of our aches, pains, and myriad pills. It will include fond memories from the past and my tendency these days to wander aimlessly off the subject to related matters which often leaves  me forgetful of where I started. Todays a memory is of Bismarck's
This, of course, is Mrs. T standing behind a favorite shrub, next to our driveway. It's name is  Red Prince Weigela. No, not red haired Prince Harry of England, whose grandmother the Queen,  recently wholeheartedly, breaking all tradition, approved his engagement to bi-racial divorced, movie star, Catholic, and beautiful Meghan.  My favorite prince was Prince Otto Von Bismarck, who united the German States in the 1860s, made the Prussian King into an Emperor thru a few successful wars and created a peace till WWI long after he retired. Under his leadership Germany was the first country to establish modern social security for its people.
Fortunately, my peace loving Lutheran great grandfather decided to bring his draft eligible sons to America during those early wars of unification. Thus my early American German heritage rests on the practice of draft dodging. The old saw of  "play a marching tune and Germans will line up in parade ready to march off to war" was not universally  true...:
                                                                                                                                                                   My favorite prince, Otto von Bismarck

This all brings us to my grandfather. Karl (Charles) Wilhelm (William) Potthoff who came to America alone as a teenager in 1868. I, his grandson by his youngest son, was born the 1941 just before the beginning of The War.  We lived in an apartment on the East Side in St. Paul just a few blocks from my grandparents home. I remember my grandfather arriving at our apartment several times a week with a cane and a small bag in hand. Here he  is with me, my grandma and my parents a few years later in 1948.  
So what was in that little white bag my Grandpa carried and that I'm still addicted to?
Yes, it was Bismarck's named after my favorite German besides my immigrant Grandpa...:)

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.