Monday, March 30, 2015

Another Golf Ball

It's been awhile since I found a golf ball while running and blogged about it (last post was here, from this past fall).

Well, this weekend I just found another one in a last-year's corn field, along Swamp Fox Road, and as before this was in an area where there were no houses.  Just a corn field with a "golf ball" along the edge.

Image credit Gary.  "Golf ball" in situ.

Image credit Gary, a closer look.

Image credit Gary, the tell-tale crossed-out logo.

Regular readers may intuit where I am going next. See, my theory is that these are not errant golf balls hit by some backyard enthusiast: this ball was found at least 400 yards from the nearest habitation.  No, these are alien eggs.  It's the only explanation that makes any sense.  

Look carefully at the logo. It's TOP FLITE, but X'd out.  Savvy golfers may think that these are TOP FLITE rejects, but they'd be mistaken--this clearly must be how the aliens kept track of the eggs versus the real golf balls.  

See, they drop them across the landscape to spread their spawn. My theory:

The ubiquitousness of finding golf balls in unlikely places now leads me to consider some formerly outlandish theories.  I'm beginning to suspect that they are alien eggs, prepositioned, awaiting a hidden signal, and when they all hatch en masse there will be hell to pay for mankind.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Cats in Art: Key West Kitties (4)

From my continuing weekly series on cats in art.

The bride and I recently returned from a fine week with friends in Key West, where we were fascinated with the Ernest Hemingway Home and Musuem and its array of cats, many of which exhibit the polydactyl trait (6 toes).

This is the art, a "sculpture" created by one of the cats in wet concrete.  

And this kitty is perched on top of the memorial stone where the Hemingway cats are laid to rest after death.  I guess she isn't freaked out by the notion of death.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Where I Run: Mason-Dixon Line Marker (Mile 106)

Another installment in my occasional series about visiting and photographing the mile marker stones set in the mid-1700s by the surveyors Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon. Super information about The Line and on-the-ground directions may be found here, courtesy of the Mason + Dixon Line Preservation Partnership.

The Mason and Dixon Line (or Mason-Dixon Line) runs for 233 miles along parallel 39°43’ in the eastern United States, marking the boundary between Maryland and Pennsylvania. The line was surveyed by English astronomers Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon in 1763-1768 to settle property disputes between the Penns and the Calverts, proprietors of Pennsylvania and Maryland, respectively.

Before the spring grown overtakes the fields and woods, Mister Tristan (the 7 year old human being, not the blog) and I headed out to find another local stone that I had not previously been to.  My last previous post on the topic (Mile 102) was from Dec 2013.

This is the stone at Mile 106. It's been sitting there peacefully for 248 years since Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon placed it in 1767.  The property owner was very helpful. 

The stone is found in an overgrown fence line; it'll be pretty much invisible and virtually inaccessible in a couple months as the new seasonal growth begins.  Image credit Gary.

Mister Tristan (7) for scale.  Image credit Gary.

The south-facing side with the "M" for Maryland.  Image credit Tristan.

The north-facing side with the "P" for Pennsylvania.  Image credit Tristan.

Friday, March 27, 2015


A couple of years ago I did a post I called  "Embarrassing Moments in Ultrarunning" about the Roberta Flack song "Killing Me Softly" in which I completely turned around the tune and permanently ruined it for any reader (it had to do with wiping my *ss with a snowball, so you really ought to click over and read it).

I'm about to do the same for Eric Clapton.  Ruining a song, that is.  Actually, it's an improvement because the original tune was a real downer.

So this is the Before:

Image credit Target

And this is the After:

YouTube link is here if the embedded video fails.

To close the loop in case it was not clear, every time I see a propane bottle or hear "Cocaine" on the radio, I immediately substitute Propane for Cocaine and burst into song.

It makes for a rather catchy tune.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

What Are You Doing on 14-15 July?

Nope, it's not a race.  It's the North American Manure Expo, to be held in Chambersburg, PA, hosted by the county agricultural agent in conjunction with Penn State.

Web site is here.

I was in their office the other day to get a soil test kit for my garden and could not help but notice this flyer.

Believe me, I get it that farmers are the backbone of America and we don't want to take them or their profession for granted...but this tickled me!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Fragmented Habitats...and Ultrarunning

Here in south-central PA we have been "civilized" for some 400 years, meaning that we no longer have any large swaths of uninterrupted forests.  For example, when I run on the Appalachian Trail near my home, the AT corridor is typically a ridge top scenario and you are indeed in the woods...yet you'd be hard-pressed to travel a linear mile without crossing some sort of of jeep trail or a real road.

I've always thought that the lack of contiguous habitat has adverse effects on the critters and plants that can live there, and this study is one of the more recent that verifies that intuitive thought:

The new study, led by Nick Haddad, a professor at North Carolina State University, and co-authored by Laurance and others, found that fragmented habitats lose an average of half of their plant and animal species within twenty years, and that some continue to lose species for thirty years or more. In all of the cases examined, the worst losses occurred in the smallest habitat patches and closest to a habitat edge. The study also demonstrates, using a high-resolution map of global tree cover, that more than seventy per cent of the world’s forest now lies within one kilometre of such an edge. “There are really only two big patches of intact forest left on Earth—the Amazon and the Congo—and they shine out like eyes from the center of the map,” Haddad said.

Think about that and treasure those times when your running habitat more closely resembles the primeval forest.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Cats in Art: Key West Kitties (3)

From my continuing weekly series on cats in art.

The bride and I recently returned from a fine week with friends in Key West, where we were fascinated with the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum and its array of cats, many of which exhibit the polydactyl trait (6 toes).

Image credit Gary, of a painting hanging in the house.  As previously in the series, I did not note the painter or the date, but you juts gotta love the alert, interested expression on this kitty's face...just waiting for something good to happen.

And this was another of the cats who inhabit the place.  This one looks exactly like our cat, Ca Beere, except for the fact that Ca Beere's tail is shortened due to an infection which led to amputation.  

She gets along just fine with the shortened tail, except that on occasion her leaping is off due to the lack of a tail for balance.  Just the other day Ca Beere tried to execute a leap from the bed to the dresser in our bedroom and came up just a tad short, crashing into the top drawer and running off, shaking her head.  Cats hate to have people see them screw up.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Well-Intentioned Advice...and Ultrarunning

People just can't help themselves--they want to be helpful and concerned, sincerely believing that they have some good advice for you.

"You," of course, being an Ultrarunner.

I was reminded of that this morning when I went out for a snowy run here on the final official day of winter, not a trail run, but just a flat 5-mile road loop from the house on my beloved Harshman Road.  My mother-in-law is staying with us for a few days, being newly mobile--sadly--due to the death of her husband and the loss of her last cat.

All the MIL stereotypes do not apply in her case; she's a kind, sensible and likable woman whom I am privileged to know.  But today as I was heading out the door came the words from behind: "Don't slip!"

I said "Thanks" and went on my way.  And I didn't even slip, not once.

But that reminded me of what surely was one of the most egregious examples of such unnecessary advice, which came when I was running on the Appalachian Trail nearby.  Keep in mind that over the years I have run hundreds if not thousands of AT miles, and this day I had run some 10 miles south from Caledonia State Park in southern PA to the vicinity of Old Forge.  I was running swiftly along the 2 mile downhill on the stretch below Chimney Rocks when I encountered a group of hikers struggling uphill.  Their leader was in the front, a young man, with perhaps a dozen or so teenagers strung out behind.  They may have come from Abraxis or Vision Quest, which are local residential facilities for troubled youth located just off the AT in the village of South Mountain.

(As an aside, in my day, the kids would have been called juvenile delinquents and the place where they were sent was called reform school.  But I am dating myself, and please know that I am quite pleased anytime I see kids on the trail.)

At any rate, as I sailed by heading downhill, the leader said to me, "Be careful, lots of loose rocks on the trail."

I said the requisite "Thanks" and after they passed, just shook my head and smiled.  He did mean well.