In the news feeds this morning is a report of another earthquake here in East Tennessee. This time a 3.0 magnitude quake centered in Knoxville. That’s not far from us. I didn’t feel anything, but it gets me to wondering about the frequent earthquake reports I’ve been seeing: is Tennessee about to tear itself to pieces or is this normal and we just haven’t noticed it before? Let’s ask the experts.
Marie and I don’t go out to whoop it up on New Years Eve. We’re not into parties, and crowds, and drunk drivers; so we stay home with our dogs and have a more personal celebration.
Normally we do a meal that we can stretch out through the evening and have a themed movie marathon. It’s a different theme each year. This year we decided to watch episodes of the 1962 season of The Twilight Zone and eat Mexican food.
Marie made a pot of chili, we had chimichangas, and burritos, and for desert, apple pies cooked in the fireplace with a pie iron.
Rod Serling seems to have been obsessed with death in 1962. That was kind of odd.
I put Sable and Hudson to bed, and brought Rebel in the house, around 9:30. Rebel watched the TV for a bit, then got bored and laid down. I guess he’s not into the old black and white shows. These youngsters have to have lots of color.
Around 11:00 we all burned out and decided to go to bed. All except Blondie Bear: she said, “You folks have gone crazy.” and went to bed around 9:00.
The next morning …
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Have you ever noticed how sometimes even simple tasks can snowball out of control with complications? I was taking something to my workshop and I noticed that the right-front tire on my pick-up truck looked low on air pressure. I made a note to check that when I was done with what I was doing at the time.
When I got to it I took an air pressure gauge out of the truck glove box and checked the tire pressure. 22 pounds: yep, that’s low. I checked what I could see of the tire to see if I could find any damage or foreign objects embedded in the tire and found nothing obvious.
I have an air compressor. It’s not a great compressor: it’s probably an antique, although I recently bought a new hose for it because the old one dry rotted and crumbled, but it will fill up a car tire. Eventually. Continue reading Complications→
Yesterday evening I heard what sounded like a small pack of coyotes moving through the area, yapping and cutting up like a canine street gang making their presence known and threatening to hurt anyone who got in their way.
When I let my dogs out for their bed time potty run I made sure all the floodlights were on and I went out with them carrying a strong flashlight. I hoped that lights and a human presence would be enough deterrent if, indeed, one or more coyotes were in the immediate area. My yard is fenced, but most fences mean little to coyotes.
Later, as I was sitting in bed reading, I heard a single blast of what sounded like a shot gun. Very near by. Then it got real quiet. I was cautious again this morning, but it sounded like that pack of punks learned a little respect for humanity.
Is This Even Possible?
Is it possible that coyotes are in our area? We’ve not had them before.
Oh yes! I know people who have personally told me of their own encounters with coyotes. These people live along O’Neil Road: just to the north west of us, and in Bridgeport: just to the north east of us. My neighbor says he saw one walking up our driveway towards the woods one morning a while back. So, yes: this is a real threat and a grave concern to me.
Every fall since we’ve been here we have experienced an increase of activity in “lady bugs”. Early on it was so slight we barely noticed but in recent years it has been increasing in intensity.
Why Do They Bite?
My guess on this is that because all forms of ladybugs feed on aphids and the larval stage of several insects (thus earning them the status of beneficial garden insects) at this time of year these large concentrations of ladybugs cannot find enough to eat and turn to biting other creatures (like me) trying to obtain sustenance.
Actually the American Lady Bird beetle is not known to bite, but the Asian Ladybug does. It is not toxic, but not only is the bite painful, some people are allergic to it.
What’s the Difference?
Visually, the two are very similar and the untrained eye may be fooled. Both are similar in size (though the Asian beetles tend to be a bit larger than the American) and shape. Both can be from yellow to red in color. Both have black spots.
But there are some consistent differences that make it possible to tell them apart.
The Asian beetles have variable spots: anywhere from 0 to 20. The American beetle has 9: 4 on each side and 1 spot just behind it’s head that is centered and bisected by the split in its elytron (wing covers).
The Asian beetle has a black and white “head” with the black part forming an “M” or “W” shape. The American beetle’s is primarily black.
The Asian beetles are known to bite, the American beetle is not.
The Asian beetle seeks shelter by invading our homes in fall, the American beetle is more reclusive and seeks shelter by clustering in sheltered locations outside.
Why Are Asian Beetles Here?
The Asian ladybugs were brought into the United States by the USDA and Forestry Commission to relieve the hardwood forests of many disease carrying aphids, mites, and scale insects. But, the Asian species of beetle proved to be hardier and stronger than the American species. The two compete for the same food sources, and the Asian species carries a parasitic fungus that kills other species of ladybugs. Now the American Lady Bird Beetle is on the endangered species list as, once again, something imported is killing off the native species.
And from the looks of things lately, they’re gunning for us next!
One of the arguments that some Bible critics make is that it mentions unicorns — which we all know are mythical creatures and therefore the Bible must be a book of myth and legend, not fact. And indeed the King James Bible does talk about unicorns:
There are only a few airplanes (that we know of) that can fly at 70.000 feet or above. The SR71 Blackbird has logged at least one flight at just over 85,000 feet (July, 1976)  and the The X-43A flies at 100,000 feet while still using an air-breathing engine (not a rocket) . But only one plane routinely flies to the edge of space and back, and it’s actually a relic from the 1950’s. Although each plane is periodically stripped completely, x-rayed, and refurbished, the design has remained essentially the same over all these decades. Why? Because it works. Continue reading The Airplane That Flies At the Edge of Space→
So the Moon Pie was barking at something outside the fence of the play yard. I went to see what the fuss was about. Figured it had to be some critter or other, and if it was something dangerous I’d better shoo it away from the dogs.
It was a snake. A weird snake with a HUGE triangular head.
Rattle snake? I’ve never seen a rattler with those markings.
It wasn’t moving, maybe it’s dead. It wasn’t coiled, so it shouldn’t strike.
I looked closer.
It’s a grass snake eating a toad.
A toad that doesn’t want to be eaten.
This could take a while.
We went inside and left it to its dinner, while I tended to ours.
Our pick-up truck’s check engine light came on and it started running rough at idle a couple of days after we got it home from the purchase. Also, I started hearing a hissing sound in the dash. And the air conditioner stopped working. All at the same time. To me there was only one answer – and it was one I figured I could fix myself (for a change).
On the Chevy S10 and the GMC Sonoma the air direction control uses vacuum to pull bellows driven valves inside the dash to direct air to the feet, dash vents, or windshield.
I ordered a new Air Flow Control Unit from GMPartsDirect.com a week or so ago and it arrived a few days ago, but it has since been raining or Marie had the truck because her Subaru was in the shop.
Today I spent most of the morning replacing the Air Flow Control Unit.
Continue reading Accomplishing A Minor Auto Repair→
Well, it’s time. Time to replace my truck. The 1999 Chevy S10 pick-up I’ve been driving has almost 200,000 miles on it and it’s just time to get something younger.
We were thinking about getting another Subaru: a car, and abandoning the pick-up idea all together. At first thought, I couldn’t remember much of anything I’ve hauled in the truck since I stopped building furniture for a living. Now, I mostly haul dogs. Having an SUV or cross-over with room for a couple of crates inside would solve the problems of hauling a dog (who is too wild to ride inside the cab with me) on real hot days, or bitter cold days, or in the rain. But then I started to remember:
Those times I hauled firewood home for winter heating
Those times I hauled trash for Humane Society of Jefferson County
Those times I hauled 20-some bags of kibble for Newport Animal Shelter
Hauling supplies for Steele Away Home when they moved
Hauling away a large live animal trap for Helen
… and a few other times of doing favors for friends
No, having a pick-up has proven quite useful on many occasions, and is likely to do so in the future, given new things I’ve gotten into. Besides, it is rumored that if a mountain man gives up his truck, he ends up eating kale pancakes and playing ice hockey. Continue reading Blondie’s New Ride→