Troutbirder II

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

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.


•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


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....:(