Flying Rats

I think I’ve told this story before, but anyway…

When I was at The Englishman’s cottage in Cornwall, I had the rare pleasure of hanging out with the Sorensons (Mrs. Sor is “The Catholic” in Comments) for a couple days.  I walked down to the kitchen one morning to find Mrs. Sor sitting alone drinking tea.

“Where’s Himself?” I asked.
“Down by the harbor, feeding Tesco plastic bags to the seagulls.”

He hates seagulls, and so do I.

When I read this sorry tale, I just shook my head.

Monique Sveinsson, 46, from Cambridgeshire, was on a mini-break with her friend Emma Wilshaw when she was attacked by the hungry seagulls at Brighton beach on August 3.
The mother-of-two, who runs her own planner and diary company, described how the aggressive birds circled above her before launching themselves at her food and flying away with the chips.

There is a way to deal with these airborne rodents, and anyone who is going to the seaside (or anywhere seagulls are in abundance, e.g. the Great Lakes) should avail themselves of this advice.

  • Go to your local Goodwill or thrift store, and buy an old tennis- or handball racquet, the older and more battered (therefore cheaper) the better.  (Tennis is better, as it has a longer handle.)

  • Leave it in the trunk of your car.
  • Then, when going to any place where there are seagulls, take it with you.
  • When the gulls start to pester you, swat them like flies.

I had to live in San Francisco for a couple weeks on a client assignment, and my walk to the office from the hotel took me through a couple parks.  The fucking crows and seagulls didn’t just annoy me, they attacked me, pecking at my head.

So on the way back from the client I stopped at a junk store and bought a racquet.  Then when I  went to the park the next day, the little bastards attacked me again.  Miraculously, however, they stopped attacking me after I’d popped three of them out of the sky. (It’s just a little more strenuous than playing badminton.)

Some stupid Karen took offense and called the cops on me.  When the cop asked me what I’d been doing and I told him, he stifled a laugh and said, “I’m going to have to confiscate that weapon.”  Then he winked at me and said, “I’ve been wanting to do what you did for ten years.  Enjoy your stay.”  And he walked off, swinging the racquet like a billyclub.  I think he was daring the birds to attack him.

As with all my advice given on these pages, there’s a “you’re on your own if you follow it” warning.

But I have to tell you, it’s almost as much fun as shooting them with a shotgun.

Quote Of The Day

Heard on a radio show the morning after a tornado hit north Dallas and took out houses in Preston Hollow, a ritzy neighborhood:

“That area’s so exclusive, even the Fire Department’s phone number is unlisted.”

This happened about ten miles south of us, which sounds close but isn’t.  (Plano seldom gets hit by violent storms, possibly because the insurance payouts would put the companies out of business.  Worst that ever happened to our old Plano house was a tree getting decapitated in the front yard, and on another occasion, high winds driving the rain sideways  into the roof, lifting shingles and causing a leak indoors.)

Night before last, the only thing that happened to us was a momentary power failure — enough to make my garage door opener lock up, and the electric security gate ditto.  Enter manual labor (not mine, the Mexican maintenance team’s).

Oh, yeah:  President Trump was in Dallas for a campaign stop a couple days ago, but the two events are probably coincidental, no matter what the Jackals Of The Press may say.

Nature In The Raw

I’m always amused by stories such as this one:

A musician who was collecting nature sounds while camping at a remote spot in Canada was mauled to death by a bear that dragged him away as he slept.
Julian Gauthier, 44 – who was born in Canada but has lived in France since he was 19 – was on a trip by the Mackenzie River in the Northwest Territories when he was dragged off by the beast on Thursday, July 15, according to biologist, Camille Toscani, who was traveling with him.
Gauthier was collecting nature sounds for his work and planned to canoe 930 miles down the river from Fort Providence to Inuvik.
But he was attacked by the animal in the middle of the night in the Tulita area, only one week after he posted about four bears being the only other living souls they’d seen on their trip.

It never ceases to amaze me that people head out into nature utterly unprepared for what might befall them once they’re there.  In the above case, I’m sure that had the guy been offered a gun to take with him, he probably would have declined because Eeeevil Guns.  But I’m also bewildered that he wasn’t offered some measures that might either repel grizzlies or at least keep one alerted to their presence (IR motion sensors, klaxon sirens, bear spray etc.);  but without any of that stuff, he ended up being grizzly din-dins.

One would think that as he’d spent his first nineteen years in Canada, he’d be at least a little  aware of what he was getting into;  on the other hand, though, if he grew up in some non-Canadian milieu such as Toronto he’d probably be as blissfully unaware of the peril as a Manhattanite.

Please, people:  as far as that old bitch Mother Nature is concerned, we humans are like marshmallows:  soft, slow, tasty and harmless.  It’s only when we take on accoutrements (such as the above) that put us at the top of the food chain that we stand a chance of survival.

Anyway, at least the deceased got a few “nature sounds” on tape, although I’m guessing that “chomping bear jaws” probably wasn’t what he was looking for.

Here would be my suggestion for an anti-bear device:

That’s a Mossberg 500 Mariner 12ga, and I’d load the mag tube with a mixture of 00 buckshot and slugs.  (If such things are allowed in Canuckistan, that is.)

AIDS Cure Found In Dolphin Livers

Okay, nothing quite reaches that  finding on the Kim Irony Scale, but this one sure comes close:

Cleaner waterways in New York City have attracted more sea life, including seals, dolphins, whales, and sharks in bigger numbers than seen in a century.
Sadly, many don’t survive the trip — there are also more mammals washing ashore or getting stranded.
Cases of beached whales have surged statewide, from 22 in 2009-2013 to 41 from 2014-2018, data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows.
In the city, Breezy Point in Queens has become the top place for beached whales, with two dead humpbacks being discovered there in 2018, according to the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society.
A third whale found last year was hauled off the beach in Jamaica Bay in September.

So Greenies, what’s it gonna be:

  • dirty water / no dead whales on the beach, or
  • sparkly-clean water / dead whales all over the place?

I’ll be over there in the corner, laughing my ass off.

Not Just The Weather

A while ago, I drew attention to the floods which have inundated the Upper Midwest states like Iowa and Nebraska.  What I did not know at the time (but should have), is that when there is catastrophe, can the fat finger of government be far behind?

 There is much more to the “management” of the Missouri River basin than just how and when to drain water.
In the interest of habitat restoration, etc. (the highest priority since 2004), tens of thousands of acres surrounding the river and more than a thousand miles of riverbank have been mechanically altered by the Corps — not with an eye to controlling flooding, but rather to facilitate the “reconnection of the river with its floodplain,” believed to be a necessity in achieving the goal of species and habitat preservation and restoration.
When the Corps believed that protecting people and property was a more worthy aim than fish and wildlife, the riverbanks were stabilized, shored against erosion and high-water events. The channels were kept largely free of silt infill to facilitate the draining efficiency of the river that essentially deals with the runoff of vast millions of square miles of mountain and plains snow and rain.
Dikes were built and maintained. Levees, too. Chutes (secondary channels of a meandering river) were closed to inhibit the ability of the river to overcome its banks in seasons of high-water. All these things (and more) combined to permit millions of Americans to develop the reclaimed lands, for farming, ranching, and homes. Indeed, these millions of Americans were encouraged to do so by their elected representatives, who happily took credit for the resulting economic benefits and increased tax revenues.

And then in 2004, it all changed.  Read the whole thing, and be enraged.

Contrarian

You should never plant a sandbox tree. It is too dangerous to have around people or animals, and when planted in isolated areas it is likely to spread.

Why is it that a warning about this murderous tree makes me want to plant a circle of them around my house?  (Found via the Knuckledragger, thankee.)

Seriously:  who needs those loud, messy (and illegal) Claymore thingies when you can get Mother Nature to provide this little party?

Sandbox tree fruits look like little pumpkins, but once they dry into seed capsules, they become ticking time bombs. When fully mature, they explode with a loud bang and fling their hard, flattened seeds at speeds of up to 150 miles per hour and distances of over 60 feet. The shrapnel can seriously injure any person or animal in its path. As bad as this is, the exploding seed pods are only one of the ways that a sandbox tree can inflict harm.

They even look  badass:

Is it just me, or does this look like a spiked collar around the neck of an angry Rottweiler?  It speaks to me, and what it says is:  “Mess with me, motherfucker, and I will kill you.”

Want.


Afterthought:  in the interests of Saving Mother Gaia, we should plant a ten-mile deep line of these bad boys along our southern border;  I mean, who can be against reforestation?