Monday, December 30, 2013

Independence Day

After I finished The Sportswriter I wanted to wait a while before coming back to the next book in the series, Independence Day. In the meantime I did read Canada on my Nook and I listened to it as an audiobook. Frank Bascombe is no more cheerful in this book. He is a realtor with real estate problems. He is also dealing a divorce and the problems of his fifteen year old son. I will add comments as I am reading the book.

Destroyermen Series

A colleague at work told me about the Destroyermen series. It sounds crazy. A WWII destroyer near Indonesia goes through a mysterious squall while fighting a Japanese battleship. It ends up in an alternate universe where dinosaurs  are still roaming. The ship and its crew ally themselves with the Lemurian race in their fight for survival against the reptilian Grik race. It sounds crazy, but the story and the characters are very engaging. In each book the alternate universe expands as we meet more people and creatures in this new world. There are also some really exciting, if improbable battle scenes.

I have just finished the fifth book and am about to start the sixth.

Into The Storm by Taylor AndersonBook 1
Crusade Book 2
MaelstromBook 3
Distant Thunder Book 4
Rising TidesBook 5
 FirestormBook 6
 Iron Gray SeaBook 7
 Storm Surge  Book 8

I copied this list from Librarything. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Turkeys


When I came home from walking the dogs I noticed a big flock of wild turkeys in the corn field across the street. They were all over the field, foraging for among the corn stalks. By the time I got the cameras and came back I think they had had enough. The birds quickly started running back into the forest. I hope they come back again.
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Tuesday, December 03, 2013


Our TV is broken and we are waiting for a new one to come. (It is significantly cheaper at Walmart to order online and have it delivered to the store.) So I was playing with Youtube on my cellphone when up pops a recommendation to watch an interview with Paul Simon at Barnes & Noble from 2008, when he won the Library of Congress Gershwin award.

What an amazing interview. We sat through the seven segments for the hour interview.

He stressed the importance of structure and knowing what you're working with as the song is created. (At least that's the point I got from it.) Also, you have to rework the music and keep adding on new things. Experience is important.

You also have to think about how what your are doing will affect the listeners. It struck me that that's something I should really keep in mind when preparing for a class.

Finally, that suggestion option in Youtube isn't too bad after all. From having listened to some Paul Simon videos before, it led me to this.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Stories Everywhere

It has struck me lately how there are stories all around us just waiting to be seen. This afternoon I went to Lowe's to pick up some paint.

Parked in front of an auction/flea market venue there was a delivery truck with an open back door. It seemed that a naked person was standing up looking vacantly outward. As I got closer I realized that the truck was loaded with many mannequins and mannequin parts among the boxes.

Further down the road I noticed a state trooper had pulled over a Honda Civic with two women inside. One trooper was talking to the drive while the other one stood by the road and was staring at the car roof. An over-sized couch was tied precariously to the top of the car. The wind had hit it just right and twisted the couch. With any more movement it seemed that the couch was about to fly off. I wonder how that conversation ended?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Irrigation in the morning

This was the scene as I drove to work the other morning. They were irrigating a driving range in the rising sun.

Monday, August 26, 2013

New phone

I just got a new Galaxy 4 phone yesterday
It's great. I still have a lot to learn about it, but it's fun.

Saturday, July 13, 2013


P062913_0705[02].jpg by P_Linehan
P062913_0705[02].jpg, a photo by P_Linehan on Flickr.
I saw a man drawing this graffiti at our local park. He was with what I assume was his girlfriend and some children.


Then  the next morning when the dogs and I walked by the same place I saw this one next to the first one.

Of course, they didn't last long.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Thoughts on The Godfather

I recently listened to an audiobook of The Godfather by Mario Puzo. Check it out on Librarything here. Of course I have seen the movie many times on TV. I first read the book back in the 1970's, when I was just starting high school.

The story holds up very well. The actions of the Corleone clan and the story of how Michael became the new Don is still gripping and well told. Still, the language is typical of the late 60's and doesn't accommodate today's sensitivities.

The Hollywood part of the story is mystifying. It could have easily been shortened or left out without hurting the story. What did Puzo include it?

I was fascinated by the Mafia philosophy. This came out in different parts of the story, when Michael was in Sicily and in the recounting of how his father turned to crime in his youth. The story showed how he learned that he couldn't rely on society to create a safe environment. Instead, he had to create his own world with its own rules. Intimidation and violence was okay if it was to protect his people and family. Loyalty was everything.

The justification for having guns reminded me of some of the more extreme justifications of gun advocates. They claim that we can't rely on society to protect us. They say we should be armed and ready for violence at all times.

The book ended differently from the movie. In the book, Michael's wife, Kay, converts to Catholicism and attends daily Mass to pray for the soul of her husband. I think this was a better ending, although it didn't allow for sequels.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Sample GIS Work by Penn State Mont Alto Students

Make a map of public lands in Quincy and Mont Alto. Find out the areas of each land category. Map streams and watersheds.

Find the table of areas here.

Map the forest cover type maps in a section of the Michaux State Forest (Irishtown Road). Merge the types of the same species groups.

Use a Digital Elevation Model to develop contour lines on the Waynesboro Watershed. Make index contours, too. This map is in pdf format.

Develop a viewshed showing what can be seen from a possible firetower location. Go here to see the pdf of the map.

New Technologies in Forestry

This presentation shows a simple way to use low-cost and free tools to map a forest property and determine the area, too.

Also, the map can be shared on the internet.

View Woodlot Map in a larger map

Click here to see the KML Tools Page.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

New Sunning Spot

Gus has just figured out that he can do his sunning on top of the hot tub. Not only is is warm, but he can see far away too.

And then a nice back scratch wiggle.
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Neil Young Journeys

Last night I couldn't find anything good to watch on TV. I searched through On Demand until I found the Neil Young Journeys movie. The documentary shows Young driving through his home town reminiscing about what it was like growing up as he is on his way to a concert in Toronto. The songs of the concert are mixed in with the documentary sections.

The music is fantastic. Young plays all by himself, yet sounds like a full orchestra. There are some new songs and some older hits. The protest song "Ohio" is probably the angriest protest song I have ever heard, especially since the pictures of the murdered students were flashed behind. It still strikes a chord even forty years later!

I'd like to watch this one again. It will be playing on On Demand for a while yet.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Umbrella Magnolia at Penn State Mont Alto

Most of the year this tree is unobtrusively tucked between the bookstore and Conklin Hall. But now the flowers are out in full strength. They are particularly fragrant, but they are stunning.


Friday, May 17, 2013

History of the Pennsylvania Forest Academy Presentation

Friday, April 19, 2013

John LeCarre

There is a fantastic interview of John LeCarre in the New York Times Magazine this weekend. It was very enlightening and has gotten me interested in rereading some of his books. I found some of his recent books too preachy, especially The Mission Song. However, the description made me want to find and read A Most Wanted Man.

I do have the omnibus of the Smiley novels and read Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and am almost at the end of The Honourable Schoolboy. I have held off with it since the end seems like Smiley was betrayed by his own people. Maybe it's time to go back?

Wikipedia has a list of all LeCarre's books. (link here)



[edit]Short stories

  • Dare I Weep, Dare I Mourn? (1967) published in the Saturday Evening Post 28 January 1967.
  • What Ritual is Being Observed Tonight? (1968) published in the Saturday Evening Post 2 November 1968.
  • The Writer and The Horse (1968) published in The Savile Club Centenary Magazine and later The Argosy (& The Saturday Review under the title A Writer and A Gentleman.)
  • The King Who Never Spoke (2009) published in Ox-Tales: Fire 2 July 2009.


  • The Incongruous Spy (1964) (containing Call for the Dead and A Murder of Quality)
  • The Quest for Karla (1982) (containing Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, SpyThe Honourable Schoolboy and Smiley's People) (republished in 1995 as Smiley versus Karla in the UK; and John Le Carré: Three Complete Novels in the U.S.)


  • End of the Line (1970) broadcast 29 June 1970
  • A Murder of Quality (1991)
  • The Tailor of Panama (2001) with John Boorman and Andrew Davies

Thursday, April 18, 2013

All my texts

This semester I had the opportunity of having a work study student to help me with things. So, I asked her to work on a project I had wanted to do for a long time. She worked on entering all my forestry and related texts to my Librarything account. I'm not sure what I'll do with them, but I am really happy to have these books cataloged. Some of them have no covers. They are too old. Maybe that will be the next project. Here  is a link to the books:


I read this in ebook format. It's amazing. It has some of the most emotionally painful scenes I have ever read. When the narrator, Dell, and his sister visit their arrested parents in the jail every detail brings out what a sad, experience this is. Yet, as a reader I didn't feel manipulated. This is how it would really feel. The author makes frequent use of repetition and foreshadowing. Again, it is done so naturally I never felt it was artificial. When the narrator says he never went to a place again or never saw someone again, you know something important is going to happen.
In a way the book relies a lot on coincidences to move the plot forward. Maybe the plot isn't the most important thing. The inner thoughts of Dell and how he reacts to the world are what count.

I also have this story in audiobook format. I intend to listen to it later on.