Friday, December 31, 2021


Janus is one of the more intriguing Roman gods.  Able to look both forward and back and of course the origin of the term January.  

Time to bid a lukewarm farewell to 2021.  It was a little better than 2020 in some respects, but still a year of limitations.  My only travel of note was a quick trip to Michigan to visit my father in law.  At age 95 waiting for a more opportune moment is not reasonable.  No foreign travel, my scheduled overseas archaeology trip ran aground just short of loosened restrictions in the UK.  I was so close, but by a few weeks I fell into the protocol that would have had me sitting isolated in a hotel for a week or so before being allowed out into still spartan conditions where jovial post dig nights in the pub would have been technically illegal.  Oh well, they slid my reservation into the spring of 2022 and I was able to tack on an extra two weeks beyond my usual stay.

Lots of time with the grand kids.  Not quite as much as during 2020 Lock Down days, one of them started school after all, but still we saw them often and they are growing in size and sophistication.  But not in cuteness, they attained the maximum level of such that is possible some time ago.  They continue to surprise, delight and amaze us.

Well here's the year in stats.

Fish caught:  oodles.

Deer bagged: 0

Times on an airplane:  also 0

And for the year ahead?

A full month on tap for digging in England.  Omicron lockdown is likely in the UK after the hols but I think I'll get my tickets on spec assuming the wave and its associated mania will pass quickly.

Maybe a run out to LA, a place I've not visited since I was in grade school and even then all I remember was the LaBrea tar pits.  Oh, and that the air had an odd chemical smell.  For some reason I identified it as akin to a nasty hair care product called "Dippty-Do".  I suppose my mom must have used it.  Oddly it is still around and there is even a version for "men".

Teaching opportunities opened up quite a bit in 2021.  Four actual in person talks given for local community ed, summer Robot School, fall Enigma class.  There should be still more opportunities in the year to come.  Time to dial the robot stuff up to 11, the FIRST season is soon upon us.

And for Detritus of Empire?  Blogging remains an archaic activity which appeals to me.  So much has changed since I began.  Something called Tik Tok is now the most popular website in the world.  My readership is somewhat more selective....

Some categories of posts are becoming rare birds.  Although I have a couple coming up I think I've hit most of the findable brewery caves in my part of the world, barring new construction.  I have no immediate plans to return to The Groves of Academe, the Land of the Pharaohs, or Bella Italia.  Lets hope more Road Trips, Archaeology and Off the Map posts are forthcoming.  I try to avoid Just Politics but it is getting harder.  

See you here and there.  Well, mostly here.  Usually three times a week. 


Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Robot Christmas

FIRST robotics build season kicks off on 8 January.  Up until that point we only have hints and rumors of what we will have to build.  But once it gets real you have very little time to order parts, and even in a year without supply chain issues you sometimes have unacceptable wait times from a project management perspective.

So it is necessary to lay in supplies in November and December partially on "spec".  

Most of the parts suppliers prefer a private address versus the school or a business.  This gives them flexibility for weekend deliveries and one assumes fewer returns.  So I just use my front porch as our team's loading dock.  I like getting boxes full of neat stuff.  I call this Robot Christmas even when we do orders at other times.

Here's a few pictures.  May the joy of Robot Christmas be with you the entire year.

 01001101 01100101 01110010 01110010 01111001 01010010 01101111 01100010 01101111 01110100 01000011 01101000 01110010 01101001 01110011 01110100 01101101 01100001 01110011

(That is MerryRobotChristmas in binary!)

Stuff on the porch.

Stuff in the basement.  Some of it will stay there as our storage space at the school is precious.  The bright red fabric is for bumper covers but does lend a festive air to the stash.

And stuff at our build HQ.  The kids seem a bit bored in this picture.  Maybe putting the work list next to the Presents was not the best plan.  Bit of a lump 'o coal that!

Monday, December 27, 2021

Modern Christmas 2021

Belated post.  Even our scheduled day after Christmas celebration got pushed back.  Air travel issues.  So I was tasked, again, for the long drive over to the Big City Airport and the waiting around for a delayed flight.  Other than people watching airports are not all that interesting.  Although I did see one odd thing, a Police Trike:

Eventually we did have a quorum of two and four footed family members assembled.  Dogs really get into the spirit of the holiday.  Give 'em a present and they look up expectantly wondering where the next one is....

Usually Santa gets a bit of help.  It is still a Covert Op as we have grandchildren who believe or at a minimum are not takin' any chances with asking questions.  So this year when my present was by far the biggest under the tree I had good reason to expect something exceptional.  My grandson, smarty that he is, carried it over and observed that it did feel a bit light...

Tear it open in best "heck with paper re-use style" and inside was.....


The grands had never seen the old Russian Nesting Doll trick and found it an interesting variation on Grandpa gets teased.

By the time the goal was near even Hank the Dog was intrigued.  But there was nothing to eat inside.  Some nice new gloves and a battery warmed shirt for future hunting expeditions.

Cookies were consumed, more gifts were opened.  We even had a Zoom Christmas with someone we wished had been there instead of stranded by a blizzard in Idaho.  She got to see the contents of her stocking via modern technology.

And so concludes Christmas 2021.  As with the year in general it was an improvement on 2020 and we hope for better still in the year ahead.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Silent Night

It will be a quiet Christmas for us.  Oh, the kids and grandkids will all check in but mostly not on Christmas Eve or Day.  The reality is that when you raise 'em up to go out into the world then you have to share them with said world.  And this year due to various commitments to "in-laws", travel considerations and so forth we will have a very quiet Christmas. 

It feels off, but perhaps it shouldn't.  Last year with similar issues - then and now Covid is bringing us a load of coal - we just declared Christmas would be celebrated in mid January.  We had a full house and a good time, among other highlights we got to meet The New Girlfriend and had The Great Dog Escape which featured multiple people racing around the neighborhood in pajamas!

Well we'll make do.  If it is just the wife and I we'll feel less last minute wrapping pressure.  Maybe we'll just sit on the sofa and enjoy a drink together.  Not mulled wine or eggnog, something less seasonal but more palatable.  And then?  Well I suppose there is the "Night Before Christmas" option:

"And mamma in her kerchief and I in my cap

Had just settled down for a long winter's nap"

Hmmm, lets see how this plays out.  "Say honey, wanna put on some odd costumes and go to bed early?"

Yes, I'm guessing that won't fly.  In fact it likely has the actual aerodynamic possibilities of Dancer and Prancer, and if I dared bring up Vixen that would in no way improve the situation.

Have a Merry Christmas all.  The actual date matters not as calendars and traditions change over the long years.  Enjoy the season and those deer to you as your own logistics allow

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Photographic Loose Ends of 2021

Various odds and ends that seemed like they wanted to turn up as 2021 winds down.

I think I did post one view of the Great Silver Brain in Lansing Michigan.  One was not enough.

I am usually stingy with pictures of the odd geocaches I create.  But this one in the shape of a plate fungus has had its day and departed.  I've done a number of these and you can really only get 6 months or so out of them before they deteriorate and need to be replaced.

I think the Strange Fish Challenge has run its course.  I'm no longer making serious efforts to find odd fish in odd places.  I really should have tried catching chubs in Chub creek though...

Another FIRST robotics season is just a few weeks off now.  It will be particularly crazy as we have a new, inexperienced crew.  But it has been fun working with lots of prototypes.  Given things we have or can lay hands on quickly, can we build intake systems, conveyor belts, elevators and whatnots?

Yes these version 1.0 prototypes look rough, but they are in fact perfect for their role.  Make 'em quick, prove the basics work, figure out how to improve them for full metal version 2.0 and beyond.  Bonus points if you can stress them to breakage.

And finally something of a self portrait.  A highlight of the year has been spending time with the grands, one of whom really likes whiteboard art projects.  The signature DB suggests this was done by Doll Baby, but is she really my nemesis or my artistic nom de plume?

Monday, December 20, 2021

Sand Man

Earlier this year I wrote about Sandland, the peculiar underground "playground" being excavated beneath rural Wisconsin.  Other obligations have kept me away, but I was able recently to go and work for an afternoon.  Moving sand.  Here I am in full kit.  Respirator, hearing protection, grubby clothes, steel toed boots.  I should have brought a headlamp.  As it turns out they had no loaners so I just duct taped a flashlight to the muffs and it worked fine.

Sandland looks a bit different in winter.  At least the outside of it does.

Inside of course there are no seasons.  In fact there is no day or night, no variation in temperature, no sound from the outside world.  There is just stone and the slowly advancing tunnels gnawing through it.

The procedure for tunneling is interesting but not easy to document in photos.  Some of it takes place in cramped, noisy spaces with plenty of sand in the air.  The actual excavation is done with these guys:

This is a heavy duty demolition hammer made by Milwaukee Tool.  Even these robust units can only stand 8 minutes of continuous work before they start to complain.  So the Sand People have three of them.  When the 8 minutes are up the excavator just steps away and goes to another face where the next tool is waiting.  And then the next.  This allows the sand removal person, yours truly, to get the debris moved with minimal interference in the digging.  Shovel the pulverized sand into buckets.  Buckets into some very clever wagons that can snake through winding tunnels.  Wagons dumped into hatches that lead to a miniature mine train.  The train gets hauled up and out to be dumped on the spoil heap via an elaborate cable system.

It is grinding labor.  You are shoveling at odd angles then hefting buckets and carrying them down twisting passages to where the wagon can reach.  Fill the wagon.  Pull it through more winding tunnels.  Dump it down the hatches into the train cars below.  Repeat.  You bump your head on things, you get sand everywhere, it is hard to breath through the respirator.  Conversation is impossible.

And it is also quite fun.  I felt as if I was working on a Dude Ranch run by dwarves.  Among other things it has given me a perspective, perhaps unique in the 21st century, of what it took to dig 19th century brewery caves.  Same geology.  Same basic tech.  To go full 19c just ditch the power tools and do it all with pickaxes supplemented here and there by some good old dynamite you could buy at the hardware store back in the day.

As discussed previously this is a long term project.  In the tool shed there is a chart documenting numbers of loads dumped on work days going back in time.

I suppose I could puzzle out how many tons of sand this is....each "car" in the train is about 500 pounds, but the number would be horrifying.

There is a long term plan here.  Very long term.  The expectation is that in 1000 years somebody could come here and enjoy the maze, the tavern, the donut room, the various shrines and attempts at timeless humor.  Geologically this is feasible.  But realistically?  People are transient and even determined, indomitable people eventually falter and pass from the scene.  Eventually so also passes knowledge.  Truth becomes lore and eventually myth.  What would the uninitiated think of Sandland if they stumbled upon it in 50 or 100 years?

I've suggested that an elaborate time capsule would be in order, as well as some kind of monumental inscription near the entrance.  This last in particular.  We are still figuring out things about Vindolanda based on 1800 year old bashed stonework that turns up.  And one assumes, or at least hopes, that Sandland will have fewer issues with religious iconoclasts and savage Picts and Visigoths.  But what should such an inscription say?

Maybe just SANDLAND with dates for the geology (going back many millions of years) and for the human efforts which are a Mayfly's cup of morning coffee in comparison.  But will the eccentric humor that pervades indeed defines the place become a factor?  What would future marveling discoverers make of something off beat?  Perhaps....




Addendum.  Below is a nice video showing recent work on The Sand Bar.  Gabe does excellent videography.

Friday, December 17, 2021

FIRST Robotics - Farewell 2021

Last session of the year.  That's actually fine.  The real season begins on 8 January, everything we've done in Spring, Summer and Fall sessions has been prep and training.  Lets see....where to start....

We had the swerve drive working for a while.... ZIPPPP!!!!

But tonight a nasty grinding noise was heard from one of the modules.  As they used to say on Mythbusters:  "Well there's your problem".

A bolt had vibrated loose, rattled up into the gears and ripped one apart.  These motors are powerful.  The solution of course is:

Here the work crew has it flipped and the modules in various states of dis and re assembly.

At this point we are not sure we'd try to use this in a competitive situation, much depends on the nature of the game.  And that we find out next month.

Various other tasks are also ongoing.  T shirt design, grant writing, game strategizing.  Oh, and a newly refurbished robot cart.  Looks good now, just wait until we get our custom cut team logo aluminum top for it!

Now that will be sweet.

Time off for the holidays.  Then a single meeting in the first week back to school followed by Kickoff on 8 January.  We are not ready.  But nobody else is either so we should be in good competitive shape.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Deer Season Wrap Up

As you might infer from this photo, I did not get a deer this season.

But not from lack of effort.  I was out morning, evening and sometimes mid day.  I sat in tree stands and in my trusty lawn chair.  Heck, when it just got too difficult to figure out where the deer might be coming from I sometimes just sat on a stump and glared in all directions.

Seven days of the nine day regular season and 2.5 of the four day second chance season.  And although I saw approximately 30, I had exactly two deer that were in almost reasonable position for a shot.  Almost.

It seemed an odd year for hunting.  Anecdotally others working our area were also seeing fewer deer.  And the weather was all the way from 8 degrees F with biting mid 40's with bugs flying around.

Towards the end there was a thick blanket of snow.  Snow is nice.  It lets me walk quietly and helps me see the deer.  It also is exhausting stuff to walk in.  I got sweaty and tired.  The deer were smarter, they spent a lot of time just bedded down.

Deer it seems are exactly as smart as they think they have to be.  Somehow they just know when they are on private land where I can't shoot them.  Heck, a couple of them I maybe could have dispatched with a well flung brick.  But when they decide to use their superb vision, hearing and sense of, they can detect you at ridiculous ranges and appear to remember from one day to the next that spot where something did not seem quite right.

You win some you lose some.  When up against a worthy opponent the response to the latter is to figuratively reach out and shake their hoofy little front paw while saying:  "Well played.  I look forward to a rematch."

And it is not all about the hunt.  Deer Camp at various times had the kids, the grand kids, a couple of friends, a couple of dogs.  Relatively little in the way of beer and such, we were mostly too tired.  But lots of good eats courtesy of my wife.  In particular I enjoyed some chili she made with that synthetic Impossiburger stuff.  Tastes good.

I guess I should get used to it.

Monday, December 13, 2021

Teeny Plastic Robots

I guess I don't mention it often, but FIRST robotics actually has an official "minor league system" called FIRST Lego League.  As its name suggests it involves making the actual robots out of legos and outfitting them with little motors and such.  The clever part is in the programming and sensors which actually are just smaller versions of what we use in FIRST.  Oh, and FLL is all autonomous, push the button and away you go little robot.

It lacks the kinetic mayhem of our old combat robot classes, and is clearly on a smaller scale than the FIRST stuff we are doing at the high school level.  But it is a fun age group to work with, mostly upper elementary school, and once in a while they do call me up to help.

Part of being an official at one of these things is the expectation you wear a silly hat.  Opportunities to do so should always be taken.  I think the leopard pattern fez goes with the striped Ref shirt and the unique Machines Behaving Badly mask rather nicely.

Friday, December 10, 2021

Deer Hunting 2021 - Second Chance Season

I am back in the woods for the Second Chance season.  It runs Thursday through Sunday although I will have another obligation on Saturday.  So how are the omens?  Odd in some ways.  There was an ongoing ammo shortage that limited my ability to practice this past summer and fall.  And lo and behold, two days after hunting season (round 1) ended, the shelves were full again.  I stocked up for next year.

Snow is always helpful and we've had a bit.  It makes the deer move around looking for nibbles, and makes it easier to see where they have been sneaking about leaving tracks.

It also makes it easier to spot them, as a white background and a foliage colored deer is better than shades of brown on brown.  Of course the winter conditions mean I have to gear up a bit more.  Balaclava, orange stocking cap, sound amplification/dampening head phones.  At least the top of me stayed quite warm although the cold biting wind made me turn off the headset.  Just too depressing.

I basically have four hunting opportunities left, two days, am and pm.  Second Chance 1.1 was interesting.  After watching the sun rise with cold wind blowing in my face I sat an hour or two in the stand and figured the deer were up to something else.  Stalking along some nearby trails showed plenty of evidence of their activities, which mostly involve sleeping and excreting, but they were being sneaky.  After a bit I circled back to the area I like to hunt, right along the edge of a former golf course.  Still being stealthy I peeked out from behind a tree.  And two oblivious deer were about 25 yards away!  Alas, they were also on the wrong side of the line from my perspective.  From extensive practice with my grand children I am a Master at Hide and Seek, and was able to stay hidden while the deer,  joined by a pal, ate, sat down to rest, peered this way and that.  For practice I sighted in on them a couple of times but not being a poacher these critters could just as well been on the moon.  My wife thinks the private property owners have installed a gigantic "Invisible Fence" to keep the deer on their side.  Oh well, I was able to wait them out and when they were no longer visible I made my way quietly off.  Don't want to spook 'em, as they likely come in from the open area later in the day.
Second Chance 1.2.  It snowed mid day.  This upends the deer tracking Etch a Sketch and starts over.  Any tracks you see are fresh.

I hunted my usual evening spot and sure enough as dusk started to dim the lights deer turned up.  There was one about 300 yards away, obviously too far for a shot but I was sending my mind control rays down range willing it to walk towards me.  Mind control rays take a lot of concentration, so I did not notice another deer peering at me from 40 yards....but 180 degrees away from the first one and over my shoulder.  Slowly, slowly I started to pivot.  The deer was giving me the skunk eye but for a moment stepped behind a tree.  I moved just a bit further....and a third deer I had not seen spotted me.  A general high tailing ensued.

Tomorrow's hunt is a bit uncertain.  Serious snow coming later in the day.  And as for earlier, am I foolish enough to climb up into this stand?

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

well that's awkward

Awkward is an odd word.  The second half of it is directional.  Along the lines of upward, downward, etc.

Awk has an Old Norse origin meaning "backwards, turned the wrong way".   In Norse it was actually afugr, which is near enough to "ah....fubar" to count in my book.

Awk sadly for our tale has nothing to do with the Great Auk, a now extinct species of North Atlantic bird in the genus Pinguinus (although confusingly, not technically penguins).  Auks while quite nimble in the water were awkward indeed on land.  This did not serve them well once mariners discovered how tasty they were.

Charmingly there are people seriously considering "de-extinctioning" the Great Auk.  As a recently extinct critter there are plenty of preserved specimens, eggs, etc.  Without going the full Jurassic Park, and boy didn't that get awkward, it should be possible to bring back a "pretty close" Great Auk.  And with far less demand by cantankerous whalers who'd eat fishy tasting bird meat they'd likely be left to waddle about in peace.

Monday, December 6, 2021

FIRST Robotics - The Storm before the Lull. Also, Rust in Pieces.

Been a while since the last robotics update.  Things are ramping up, with basically one month before kick off and the frenzy of build season.  We have just a few crazy sessions left to get ready.  Then of course comes the lull of Christmas break.

We usually save Saturday sessions for build season but decided to make an exception.  There are  a few time consuming things you should get done, and the after school sessions were just too short.

Among other things we had the traditional Robot Funeral for our last competition machine.  R.O.B. had a long life for a robot, now he can rest.

One of the families actually made a cake for the social hour after the funeral.  OK, it was actually more like five minutes, we had work to do and 18 kids dispatch a cake pretty fast!

The eulogy was nicely delivered by Reverend Meg.  Then four pall bearers carried R.O.B. the robot on his final journey.  A team member played taps on his trombone.

Because robots are all Buddhists and their faith involves reincarnation, R.O.B. will live on in reused components.  Here the process of scattering him into eternity is under way.

A fair amount of real work also happened.  We've been working for several sessions now on an intake mechanism.  It folds into the robot at the start of a match, then deploys thusly:

A couple of years back we really struggled trying to build a mechanism of this sort, ultimately falling short.  So this more organized effort was long overdue.  And did it work?  Uh, yes.  But it is somewhat overpowered.  We were using a small plastic box as a test object.  It yanked it in hard enough to break a corner off when it slammed into the robot frame.  And when we reversed it to release the box it skidded it fifteen feet across the floor!  Admittedly this is on full power, but you'd have to call it a successful test!.

Another feature of the session was a Mock Challenge.  A hypothetical game complete with rules and regs.  We broke the team up into three working groups and gave them just under an hour to come up with game priorities, drive train and manipulators.  Each had a plausible end product.  When the veterans who led each group were asked to give percentage confidence that the team could actually build their ideas they went with 80%, 85% and 90 plus %.  I concur.

And we have seen a glimpse of the future.  For quite a while now we have been tinkering with an omnidirectional "swerve drive".  Well it lives.

There is something slightly disturbing about watching this thing move.  Most robots have a certain herky-jerky nature to their travel.  You can tell they are mechanical.  But Swervy is smooth and fluid.  It looks and feels "alive".  Whether it can be made reliable in the time we have remaining is still unclear, the programming necessary to have it make its way in the world is a study somewhere between mathematics and theology.  I understand it not.

And other stuff happened.  New methods for marking and measuring stock, more organizing of our many parts and widgets, progress on a robot transport cart worthy of the team and its creations, tour guiding of visitors, graphics work of various sorts.

I'll be gone next week, the first session I have missed in quite a while.  Who knows how much progress they can make when I'm not around to bother them!  Of course at my age I begin to realize that one day I'll be "gone" on a permanent basis.  I'd be happy if the team just re-used the service they did for R.O.B.   Although I would ask that they take less time afterwards to eat cake, and just get back to work sooner.

Friday, December 3, 2021

Archaeology 2022

The onset of Wisconsin winter is always hard to accept.  People who endure it often say that they like having "Four Seasons".  Well I happen to like spring more than the other three.  So it is with considerable satisfaction that I can look forward to a return to England in April.

I've been gone too long, but at last will be joining old friends excavating at Vindolanda again.  Spring in northern England is the best.

And to make it even better I am on for four weeks this year.  Yep, an entire month of archaeology, walking over green hills, and evenings in our favorite pubs.

It should be enough to get me through the less favored seasons.

Of course even in Paradise it rains from time to time...

Fingers crossed that the "Omigod" variant does not torpedo yet another season of travel.  

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

More Cowbell

We live in a Golden Age for small breweries.  All it took was getting rid of a few out dated laws.  And tightening up a few that were too lax.  If you are going to have one beer instead of three or four you want it to be a good one.

I ran across this on the shelf of a local supermarket.  The oddly named town of Bloomer is about 15 miles away, and as you might guess from the theme is in the middle of dairy country.  There is lots of great art associated with small breweries.  I admire many examples even in style of suds I don't personally care for.  Technology likely helped with this bit of artistic expression...with modern software programs you can really do some astonishing things on a DIY basis.  They remind me more than a little of album art, back when you actually went to a record store and bought large, fragile discs that you put on something called a "record player".

It got me thinking.  And I've decided that for artistic expression generally we are living in a Leaden Age.  And the example shown above is both an exception and a confirmation of this.

The "Cowbell" reference is to a Saturday Night Live sketch from 21 years ago.  Which was referencing the recording of "Don't Fear the Reaper" by Blue Oyster Cult 24 years before that.  I quit watching SNL circa 1980, and have not missed it a bit.  But it is still a sort of cultural touchstone, something that many people will recognize as a common experience.

And like so much of our pop culture it has been looking backwards for a long time.  Examples abound.  Peter Jackson has just released a retrospective of the Beatles.  Many of the popular movies of the last decade have been based on pulp comic books of the 1960's which themselves are echoes of a decade or so earlier.  I don't spend a lot of time listening to the radio when I drive but the dial is cluttered with "oldies" stations playing the music of my younger days.  It is almost as soporific as the mellow voiced NPR stations.  Genuinely new creations in TV/Movies/Music?  Hard to think of many outside the spectrum of stuff that was simply too crude and vulgar in an earlier and more civilized age. 

So what's going on here?  Why is a tongue in cheek reference in 2021 coming to us from a song 45 years old via the intermediate step of a buffoonish TV show that stopped being funny a generation ago?

Some would argue that stories have never been original, that there are a limited number of archetypes - seven seems to be the most common count - that just keep being recycled again and again.  The Hero's Journey,  Rebirth, Rags to Riches, The Quest, and so forth.  Comedy is a fairly broad category within this, many stock characters going back to Greek Drama.  

The picture above has a tongue in cheek depiction of Will Farrell in the SNL skit.  Here's a still:

I consider it a fair question: what sort of stock character, or archetype, is Will Farrell?

You could consider him a Jester.  This term for an itinerant clown, or fool, only goes back to the Middle Ages.  But there was an equivalent in Roman times, the balatrones.  These were performers who would entertain at the tables of the wealthy.  The term may derive from a similar word meaning the bleating of sheep.

Or as long as you were all the way back to the Empire you could consider the matter of buffoons.  Buffoon is a great word, one with lots of history and offshoots.  We get it from the French Bouffon, but it goes back to Latin where it was buffare.  In the Roman Theater this was a character who would puff out his cheeks in a comical way.  Possibly after being kneed in the groin or some such.  Comedy does not change that much over time.  It also gives us Bufonidae, the taxonomic designation of toads, who indeed do puff themselves up.

I'm not sure if Mr. Farrell's exposed and rather puffy midsection in the above is an intentional nod to the Buffares of Ancient Rome, but I suspect it is not.

Perhaps with so much going back to Roman times I should be expecting less in the way of original entertainment.  Anybody up for proposing totally new stock characters and/or plot devices from the last, oh, 50 years or so?

Monday, November 29, 2021

Hunting on....

Our second annual family deer camp has been challenging this year.  Five days of hunting with four of us working pretty hard yielded exactly one deer.  Oh, don't fret the freezer will not be empty.  All three of my sons have actually had success.  Youngest, the traveler across many time zones, once again got his deer opening day.  Middle son has a long standing deer camp elsewhere and also got one.  And the oldest, after spending Thanksgiving with us, went off to his in-laws....and bagged a nice doe that had gotten plump on his father in law's crops.

But I have yet to take a shot.  So I came up for a couple of days to hunt alone.

With time on my hands I have been pondering the matter of white tail deer psychology.  Setting aside for the time being our friend Eddie's peculiar Moon Deer theories, and the arcane notions of acorn abundance cycles, deer behaviour essentially comes down to this:  They Eat.  They Hide. They move between locations appropriate to these activities.  Ideally that's when you get them.

Morning hunts have been unproductive.  Heck, even a nice dusting of snow to help me out.  No tracks anywhere.  I have started to just pick my day break hunting sites based on places I think will be picturesque in early sunlight.  Like this abandoned farmstead.

No deer.  No distant gunshots to suggest others were having better luck.

For mid day I decided it was time for more active measures.  If the deer were in Hiding Mode I'd  go Seek them.  I tromped around a tangled mess of an area marked on our map as The Ravine.  Got entirely turned around and needed GPS to find my way back out.  It was a creepy place to wander through.  The game trails I was following were more like tunnels.  And some of the trees seemed specifically hostile to the presence of Man.

Evening hunt was back at my usual spot next to the abandoned golf course.  Deer were gamboling about on the fairway but never came close.  I heard a horrendous crashing about directly behind me and suspect another deer approached from an unexpected angle, detected my presence and high tailed it.  Again I trudge home in the dark.  I am getting exercise at least.

That's how it stood as of Saturday night.  One day left to the 9 day season.  So, early to bed, up at 5am, drink coffee and go sit in the woods.  Another nice sunrise but nothing more.  Which brings us down to the final session.

And a quiet one it was.  Even with my sound amplifier/dampener headset on there was no sound anywhere.  A family of turkeys trotted by fussily.  The sun dropped to the tree line, then below the canopy blasting directly into my eyes.  After a few minutes the orange onslaught ceased and the woods started to turn to their mysterious twilight mode.  I'm reminded of the old Moody Blues song...

"Cold hearted orb that rules the night,

Removes the colors from our sight,

Red is grey and yellow white,

But we decide which is right.  And which is an illusion."

Bit of a somber note to end the season.  I'm naturally optimistic in this as in most matters but 10 days to recharge my spirits before the 4 day "second chance" season are called for.  I expect to hunt for a couple of those days, but the seasons are changing in more ways than one, and other  adventures are on the horizon.