Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween on Garden Place.

HALLOWEEN, GARDEN PLACE, BROOKLYN: Usually we go to Val and Steve’s for the Halloween scene in Brooklyn Heights. Their street, Garden Place, is closed to traffic and is the busiest T&T street in the hood. It is packed from 5 to 7:30 and then deserted except for the parties. On her stoop we gave out about 4,000 pieces of candy in that two and a half hours. The costumes included the usual witches, fairies, pixies, pirates plus crusaders, Marie Antoinette, a gas pump, an ATM, Darth Vader[s], cats, dogs, a chocolate chip cookie, Bush[s], Elvis and Super mom, a Hershey’s kiss and a pink dragon, and Britney. The stoops and houses are all ghoulish and the crowds enormous.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Congrats to the Sawx.

10-29-07 SHORT HILLS: The Sawx did it. Everything Terry Francona tried worked out fine because the Boston pitching was nearly perfect. Even Manny didn’t hurt them in the outfield too much and Ortiz was fine at first.

Clint Hurdle, the Rockies Manager, was one of the most popular player-coaches the year I was at Mets Dream Week in ’88 [gasp, twenty years ago]. The first night at dinner, he made a point of going around the room and greeting all 100 or so Dreamers. He gave a couple funny talks and toward the end of the week, while we were doing morning calisthenics, which he was leading, he said to a guy on his team with a big schnooz, “They offered me a lot of money to come back here next year, but I said I just wanted your nose full of nickels.” Nobody could do any more crunches for laughing.

We saw this guy, an 8 or 10 pointer, while walking the dogs.

Stag Party.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Where's the frost?

10-26-07 SHORT HILLS: We have been back here for a few days, and it has been raining, on and off, the whole time. The plan to not pick up leaves is underway. The gardeners just mow which chops up the fallen leaves. It is the end of October, and the ash trees still have a few leaves. The lowest minimum temperature for the month so far was 43° and the average temperature is 58°.

The Red Sox, or ‘Sawx’ as they say in Vermont, look pretty strong. They certainly do not need my support, but I can’t help pulling for them because it seems to irritate the Yankee fans so much when the Sawx win.

I will post some pix that couldn’t get up-loaded at the last posting. The Google operation of these Blogs is almost as good and competent as the TSA or FEMA are under the Bush administration. Half the things the blogs are supposed to be able to do don’t work and the other half work occasionally. The Google folks must be too busy watching their stock options go up to take care of the blogspot operation.

If you get up early to let the dogs out, you might catch the pink.

Speaking of pink, these leaves are for you, Lucy.

Leaving leaves lay.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


10-23-07 VERMONT: I got all the clean up done that can be done now. The unusually warm weather has kept has kept several flowers green and blooming past the expected time for dormancy. There has been no frost in this part of Zone 4 in Vermont to date. What could possibly be causing that?

Today we are getting a chilly rain, but the thermometer says 68°. Today for the second day in a row, I saw two grouse feeding behind the pond but they are too cautious to pose for a picture.

Yesterday I blew the leaves off the north half of the yard which took about four hours. The day was warm. I didn’t take a break in order to get it done. Well, we went out to dinner. I was getting a lot of muscle cramping during dinner. After dinner, I got up from the table to walk off the cramps and had a syncopal episode and ended up in the Hitchcock ER. The two Hanover Fire Dept. EMT’s, Brian and Larry, were great, both sympathetic and competent. The IV saline I got in the ambulance pretty much did the trick. The ER staff is always competent, but also friendly, helpful, sympathetic and caring. I have been in a lot of ER’s as a doc, as a patient and as a concerned family member or friend and can say that it’s not always that way. Plenty of places the ER staff can be hostile and antagonistic and look upon the patients as the enemy. Of course, there are no short or quick ER visits. Ultimately we got home and crashed. Judy was great in the emergency, as always. Today I’m fine, and the rain gives me an excuse to take the day off.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


10-21-07 VERMONT: So far I have pulled and stored all the flower bed barrier guards, removed all the flower stakes and supports, put away the beetle traps, took down the veggie garden fence and tomato cages and pulled out some of the veggie stalks, weeded the north terrace beds and started cutting down dormant flower stalks. That has taken two busy days. Both days were warm enough to be comfortable outside without a coat. Friday night we got another 1.2 inches of rain in an intense storm and had another shower yesterday afternoon at quitting time. Yesterday the sun was in and out all day changing the vistas from bright to dark and lighting up distant hillsides in sequence as the clouds motored by. Today looks all sunny, and the seventies are predicted.

The pond is full again, and I will do another barley straw treatment before we leave this visit. The barley is supposed to clear algae and sediment, but the jury is still out on its effectiveness.

I have the camera in my pocket all day here are a couple of yesterday’s pix with the interplay of light and shadow. A stranger showed up yesterday with a big Nikon and tripod and asked permission to shot the red maple and pasture.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Red Glory and New Neighbors.

10-18-07 VERMONT: We came up this afternoon to a sultry, hazy, warm late October [?] day. I was walking around in shirtsleeves and sandals. Lots of flowers are still in bloom: phlox, chrysanthemum, asters, monkshood, bee balm, hydrangea, helenium, boltonia, sedum, geranium, and witch-hazel to name some. I was hoping to do the garden cleanup, but usually do that after everything is dormant which it is clearly not. We have 1.4 inches of rain since the eighth. Even the tomatoes are still trying. The red maple is indeed.

New blooms: cimicfuga.

Phlox and Helenium.

Indeed Red.

Our New Neighbors at Home.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Climate Change.

10-15-07 SHORT HILLS: The weather forecaster on ABC-TV yesterday said that so far this fall every day has been above normal temperature, and that brings us back to climate change or global warming. October 15, 2007 is the day for all the Google Blogs to feature a climate change entry. I thought I would try to give an answer to the question people ask about ancient climate, “How do we know what the temperature was before people were around to measure and record it?”

One technique, used to estimate ocean temperatures in ancient Eras, measures the ratio between oxygen isotopes. Most of the world’s oxygen has an atomic weight of 16. Some small percent of naturally occurring oxygen has an atomic weight of 18. The heavier oxygen molecules have two extra neutrons in the nucleus. The ratio of O16:O18 is fixed and constant for all the earth’s oxygen and has the same ratio in water, H2O, as in the air. The ratio is reflected and preserved in seashells from ancient times. In other words, a brachiopod fossil, say, from the Devonian Period will have the same ratio of O16:O18 that the ocean did when the creature lived and made the shell.

The O18 containing water molecule is about 10% heavier than an O16 water molecule, and being heavier is less likely to evaporate from the surface of the ocean. Ordinarily water evaporates from the ocean and condenses in the atmosphere and then precipitates as rain. Some of the rain falls on land and is ultimately returned to the ocean by rivers and streams. This circulation of water from ocean to atmosphere to land and back to the ocean is called the Hydrologic Cycle. In the winter, snow remains frozen on land until the spring thaw and then the melt water runs off in the streams.

During periods of glaciation, cold periods obviously, the snow doesn’t fully melt in the spring, and each year more of the snow accumulates on land, and that frozen water is locked up in the glaciers. That ice has more of the, lighter and more easily evaporated, O16 water. With more of the O16 water out of circulation, the ocean becomes richer in O18 water and the ratio of O16:O18 is shifted. The change will be reflected in any fossil shell of the period, and lets us figure out what the average temperatures were at that time.

Climate change is happening now because the main greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, CO2, is rapidly accumulating in the atmosphere. The CO2 comes from the burning of fossil fuels by humans. The CO2 levels have risen rapidly over the last 100 or so years. The CO2 acts like an atmospheric quilt and prevents the earth from losing heat. Now, the earth has been much hotter and much colder at different times in the distant past, but when those changes have occurred, they have happened slowly, over thousands or millions of years. The plant and animal species living during those periods of change have been able to adapt to the slow changes and evolve and thus survive. Rapid changes like this one will lead to many species extinctions. Here is a picture of the melting Arctic Sea Ice:

Monday, October 08, 2007

Fall Color.

10-8-07 VERMONT: The color is improving, but we go back to NJ tomorrow. We had Bob and Chris for the weekend and sent them back to South Orange tired but happy. We took them to the Norwich Farmers Market, Pomfret, Woodstock, Barnard, Strafford, Stone Soup and Thetford seeing the sights and leaves.

The first few days here were warm, but now it’s rainy and cold. Actually we had another 1.2 inches of rain the last couple days. I blew the leaves yesterday. It was quite a job. [Make your own puns.] Today we put away all the benches, the boat, the hammock, the rockers, the hoses, and I put up the storm doors. We also got in a visit to Charles McL. and the Koreys.

We have new neighbors. Judy saw them out for a walk on the road, and then we visited them back in their barn.

All the colors look richer in the Fall. I think the lower sun angle accentuates the red end of the spectrum—more of the blue light is reflected off the atmosphere—like the sunset.

No new blooms.

Norwich Farmers Market.

Fall Color.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Back to Vermont.

10-4-07 VERMONT: We came up yesterday to a tropical Vermont. Columbus weekend used to be the peak for leaf peeping, but lately that weekend has been too early and it seems that way now. The ash trees are bare, but the maples are still mostly green. The horses left for home today. We found a few tomatoes worth bringing in among dozens rotting away. The apples are ripe and some are delicious, but not Delicious. Most of the flowers that we left in bloom are still hanging on. The good news is that we got 4.15 inches of rain for September, and the ponds are on their way to being full. The bat proofing was done.

Today I repaired a sagging barn door, emptied the mousetraps, vacuumed the cluster flies, found the “Posted” signs, and got the car inspected.

New blooms: witch hazel, asters, boltonia.

Here are some of the asters.

Monday, October 01, 2007

House Warming.

10-1-07 SHORT HILLS: Another hot September is over, hot except for the Mets, who seemed to enjoy their utter collapse. Hang a sign out at Shea, “New Arms Needed.”

While the NJ garden is inactive, this week we go back to VT for Columbus Weekend and hope to catch some leaves. Actually, for the last few years, this point in the fall is too soon for peak color. The summer season in VT has become longer. This is probably another sign of climate change in action.

Speaking of climate change, there is a story in Geotimes about an Arctic expedition to collect ocean bottom cores. Analysis of the material reveals two periods in the early Cenozoic when Arctic Ocean temperatures were tropical—imagine what the tropics were like then. Here’s the link:

Another quick WWW visit, see a comet blasted by a solar flare:

We had a great dinner Saturday night with Bill, Dave, Gail, Leesa, Lynn, Rob and Roger to celebrate a new house. There’s nothing like the warmth of old friends. Sorry I didn’t think to take a picture.