Monday, April 4, 2016

Changing of the Guards -- Migratory Geese Depart; Familiar Favorites Return


Hansel and Greta banishing the kids and laying claim to their nesting area.
Greta (front) is the bold one.
Chasing the kids -- again.
Napoleon at Harlem Meer. "Hi There! Good to see you again!"
Napoleon and Josie.
The three banished goslings. On their own now.
John and Mary. Having known years of heartbreak at the Reservoir, they return to try again.
 
The roughly 200 migratory Canada geese who had spent most of the winter at the Central Park Reservoir all departed by the second week in March.
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But, the Reservoir is not entirely goose-empty.
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In place of the migratory geese, we have return of familiar family and faces.
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Hansel, Greta and their three surviving goslings from last spring arrived back to the Reservoir within a week from the wintering geese's departure.
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But, they did not remain an intact family for long.
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As is usual in the spring, goose parents "kick the kids out of the nest" when the urge to merge once again sets in.
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Within two weeks of their arrival, Hansel was quick to give the fledglings the "bum's rush" so to speak, honking, pecking and consistently chasing them away from what is for Hansel and Greta, their nesting territory. It wasn't necessarily pretty to watch or listen to, but it is nature's way. A gander does what he has to do. It was time for the kids to be on their own.
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The important life lesson occurred over the course of several days. The fledglings made several attempts to return back to mommy and daddy, but each time were rebuffed by dad in no uncertain terms.
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However, over the past couple of weeks, all three young geese have seemingly learned their lesson and now respect their parent's right to privacy and territory.  They are careful to stay towards the west and north sides of the Reservoir as their parents lay claim to the entire east side.
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Hansel, Greta and youngsters were not the only geese to return to the Reservoir.
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John and Mary also returned.
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As in previous years, John and Mary stay primarily in the west and north sides of the Reservoir.
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They don't appear to object to the three youngsters suddenly sharing their space -- though that may only be temporary.
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Neither Mary nor Greta are yet nesting (probably because there is not much plant cover for them yet).
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Should Mary nest again (which is expected), John will become far less tolerant of the new geese in the area. But for the time being, matters are peaceful.
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A couple of weeks ago, I went to check the goose situation at Harlem Meer.
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It was pleasing to see once again, the return of Napoleon and Josephine to the Meer.
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Even more pleasing (and ego-gratifying) was that they immediately remembered and came over to greet me.
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But, of course all the geese remember who their human friends are -- no matter how much time has gone by without actually seeing. Geese never forget a face.  
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There are two pairs of other geese at the Meer.  But, as in years past, they are relegated to the far south east side of the lake. Only Napoleon and Josephine  (the dominant pair) nest at the Meer and they lay claim to most of the lake.
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But, none of our returned, resident geese are nesting yet in Central Park.
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When that finally occurs (usually starting in mid to late April), it will once again be bittersweet.
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Central Park has a policy of oiling eggs and sometimes actually destroying goose nests.
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The only pair to successfully hatch goslings last year were Hansel and Greta -- probably because their nest was so well hidden and camouflaged.
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I am hoping for lots of tall plants and foliage this spring.  -- PCA
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                                                       ******** 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Sending a Body Part Out to Vote in the Primary



I have no problem sending a body part out to vote for me on April 19th. As long as we're accused, we might as well embrace and smile. 


Things are about to get very ugly in the current race for the Presidency.
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No, I'm not talking about hand size debates, smack downs on candidates' wives, alleged affairs or violence at rallies. -- Let the Republicans deal with their own self-created messes.
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I am talking about the less reported chaos in the democratic party.
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The "war" between supporters of Bernie Sanders and those of Hillary Clinton.
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It's actually been ugly for some time, but can only be anticipated to become worse over the next few weeks as Sanders is expected to pull off a number of consecutive victories in sparsely populated caucus states with low delegate counts.
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The anticipated victories in Washington State, Alaska, Hawaii, Wyoming and Oregon won't make significant difference in delegate counts for the two candidates and thus are likely to receive little coverage from mainstream media.
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(To date, Hillary Clinton leads Bernie Sanders by more than 2.6 million popular votes and nearly 300 pledged delegates -- this does not count her superdelegate lead of an additional 400.)
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This will serve to further agitate and incite Sanders supporters who will be convinced by their candidate that the path to ultimate victory is before them and that "momentum" is on their side. They will be furious at "corporate media" for what they feel is scant and unfair coverage of the "Bernie revolution."
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But of course Bernie supporters are not only angry at mainstream media, but virtually anything that isn't on the bandwagon for sweeping, socialist revolution -- especially Hillary Clinton supporters.
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Not a day goes by that we are not called, "stupid, uninformed, lazy, old, ignorant, uneducated and brain challenged" and that is only to list the PG-rated adjectives.
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Women who support Hillary are repeatedly accused of "voting with vaginas."
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But if we think the slurs against Hillary supporters are bad, they are nothing compared to the candidate herself who is frequently referred to as, "Hitlery, Killery and Hillhory."
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Bernie Sanders boasts that he has run a "clean and positive" campaign.
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But, there is nothing "clean and positive" about memes depicting him roasting Hillary over an open fire with the caption, "Feeling the Bern" or a campaign entitled, "Bern the Witch" or numerous movements entitled, "Bernie or Bust."
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Thousands of comments on social media only add to the excoriation of the only viable female candidate to run for President in United States history. Here is but a sample from the MSNBC Facebook page yesterday:  
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"Did anyone see how bad he raped her in Idaho and Utah and she lost the day if vote in AZ. Only reason she won AZ is because all the old people who voted early before they even knew anything about Bernie."
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To say such are sexist or misogynist is to put things mildly.
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Sanders (like Trump) can proclaim that the candidate is not responsible for what his supporters do or say.
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But, if true that candidates "set the tone" for their campaigns and their supporters, then Sanders, like Trump, is not blame free.
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Truth is (that like Trump), Bernie Sanders has run a campaign waged in rage at the "establishment" (of which Hillary Clinton is a part) and desire to take down all that is "rigged and corrupt" according to Bernie Sanders. That appears to be the Republic itself, its two major political parties and its capitalist system. -- systems Sanders has been railing against for at least 40 years.  (Sanders, a political "Independent" only joined the Democratic party in order to run for President, gain media exposure and raise money.)
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Sanders indeed sets the tone for both, his campaign and his supporters.
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The primary in New York state is set for April 19th.
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I am not keen on "revolution.". Perhaps it was fun for Woodstock. But, the tenuous and dangerous world situation is not a rock concert.
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We need a President who can actually lead with dignity, knowledge, experience and power. Anger is neither a strategy nor a plan.
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On that day, I will stay home and send my vagina out to proudly vote for Hillary Clinton.
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                                               *********

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Presidential Candidates as Fifth Graders


Something to ponder and chuckle about.
 
You know you have too much time on your hands when you sit around imagining the current crop of top Presidential candidates as fifth graders.
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But seriously, what were Bernie, Hillary, Donald and Ted actually like as kids?
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Let's indulge for a few moments and imagine them all in the same fifth grade class today.
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Donald Trump -- The Popular, Sharp, but Insecure Bully.  Donald is the class clown. He always knows the cool thing to say and most of the time the other kids can't tell when he's joking or when he's serious. (Truth be told, Donald doesn't usually know himself.)  As long as Donald is taunting someone else, he is fun and entertaining.
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"How are the bugs in Texas?" he asks the nerdy, aloof kid in the corner hiding his face in a book. 
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No response.
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"Hey, sour puss, Ted. Why don't you go suck on some lemons? Oh, you already are."
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The other kids chuckle. But, Ted pays no mind to the barbs of Donald Trump. One day I'll show all of them, he confidently thinks to himself.
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Meanwhile, Donald is surrounded by a bunch of admiring chums. Donald is tough and Donald is strong. Donald knows exactly where to wound.  But, most of all, Donald is never boring and Donald always makes them laugh.
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But, little do they know that they are the source of their friend's perceived "strength" as what most terrifies Donald is the thought of being alone and ignored. Alone without audience and alone without admirers is more threatening to Donald than death itself.
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Walking past Ted, Donald turns his attention and focus on the plain girl with glasses in the front row still peering into her history book long after other kids have left their seats.   
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"Hey, four eyes, they ain't giving out extra awards today -- unless you expect the janitor to sweep you into the White House!"
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Suddenly embarrassed and exposed, Hillary Rodham forces a nervous smile and chirps, "Just killing time till softball practice. I plan to be a baseball player when I grow up."
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"Oh yeah? What 'cha gonna do about those two hills on your chest?"
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Everyone laughs.
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"Now, Donald," Hillary replies softly. "Hills never prevented anyone from hitting a ball. Do you need some help with math?"
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"Yeah,  I need help from you like America needs jihadists! Go back to your book, chipmunk face. Just don't get your head stuck between the covers."
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But, later that evening, Donald calls Hillary for some tips on writing a book report for a book he didn't read.  "You know, I didn't mean what I said earlier today."
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"No problem. I understand."
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Hillary tucks all this away for a later day. He needs her and that is OK.
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Later in the evening, Donald's mom enters his room, tucks him into bed and turns out the light.
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But, as soon as she leaves, Donald sits up, grabs his cell phone and spends half the night, tweeting and posting messages on Instagram.
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Anything, to not feel alone.
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Hillary Rodham -- The High Achiever Who Everyone Loves to Hate:   Poor Hillary. She works so hard. She studies hard. She tries so hard!
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Hillary is exceptionally bright and gifted. She could figure out algebra when most kids were trying to remember multiplication tables. She knows and understands history better than her teachers. She can recite all the amendments of the Constitution backwards and forwards and she's only ten!
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Hillary has dreams that she dares tell no one -- not even her own parents.
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But, she also has need to be popular. And that comes much harder to her than scoring all "A's" on report cards.
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Hillary likes her classmates, but has trouble understanding them. Even less, she doesn't know how to please them -- though she tries. God, does she try.
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Hillary is always willing to help others with homework or anything they need (even that cruel and crass boy, Donald.) She has loaned out games and DVD's  to other girls without ever asking for them back. She remembers birthdays. She joins clubs and sports teams in effort to make new friends. But Hillary always seems to come up a day late and a dollar short.
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It seems the more Hillary tries and the more she gives, (both of herself and material goods), the more others slip away.
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The other kids simply don't understand and trust Hillary's overtures to them. They assess them to be manipulative and with ulterior motive. The fact Hillary is so accomplished in classes and favored by teachers only adds to the suspicions and jealousies of her so sought friends. "What does she need us for?" they wonder. "She's got everything. Why should we trust or believe her?"
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What they don't realize is that more than anything else, Hillary most needs to be liked. She will spend the rest of her life pursing that -- and dreams of the White House that her nemesis, Donald, so perceptively grasped and targeted.
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Ted Cruz -- The Quiet One Languishing on the Top of the Mountain.  Like Hillary Rodham, Ted Cruz is bright and ambitious with big dreams.
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Unlike, Hillary Rodham, Ted Cruz doesn't care whether he is liked or not by his peers. He cares about being respected.
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Ted is willing to crack the books and he takes special pride in attaining high marks and acing tests.
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The taunts of Donald and the others don't faze Ted as he considers them below him and not worth his attention or fuss. They don't possess his genius. They don't share his goals. Some day, while the others are getting drunk or high or flunking out in school, he'll be standing at the top of the mountain and he will be respected.
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What little Ted is blind to, however, is his own arrogance and sense of self-importance.
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They will cost him one day, but he will have no idea what happened or what hit him.
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His mistake was never looking down from the mountain to understand how the other half lives -- nor seeing the steep drop from the cliff's imperceptible edges.
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Bernie Sanders -- The Angry Boy on a Mission. Of all our fifth graders, Bernie Sanders, is the most puzzling and difficult to decipher. Either he is an "old soul" born with a left-over mission from past lives or he was rebuffed by a girl in the third grade and is still fuming.
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Though only ten, Bernie has strong ideas about what is right and wrong; what is fair and unfair, what is moral and what is corrupted.
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Bernie doesn't believe in "winners and losers" on sports or academic teams. It is rigged and and wrong that only "the top one percent" receive trophies and accolades. Everyone should receive praise and prizes.
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Bernie prides himself on defense of the bullied and oppressed.
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When hearing of Donald Trump's verbal taunts of other classmates, Bernie is quick to pick up the banner of self-righteousness and judgment.
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"It is absolutely wrong that this belligerent bully is allowed to pick on others! It's not funny and it's not tolerable! This is no place for hate and intolerance! Donald Trump should immediately be kicked out of the school!"
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Some of the kids support Bernie -- especially those who feel victimized.
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But, it's not clear if it is Donald Trump making them feel victim or Bernie Sanders.
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Though the four classmates are different, all are ambitious and see themselves on a world stage one day.
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One to be admired and adored by the masses, one to be respected and looked up to and one to start a revolution.
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And then there is the plain girl who works so hard for the validation and evidence to one day finally say, "You like me! You really, really like me!"   -- PCA
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                                                  *******

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Warrior Returned to Boat Lake and the Migratory Geese Embark on Their Long Journey North


Warrior surveying the territory after release back to Boat lake.
Warrior "calling" to his family.
Reunion?
Checking out the area to note any changes.
Remaining migratory geese still at Reservoir. But, in a couple of weeks, they too shall be gone. Long journey awaits.
 
Last week, Liliana and I picked up Warrior from the Wild Bird Fund where the wounded gander had spent 18 days. Warrior's infected neck wound was cleaned and he was put on antibiotics. With good care and food, he also gained more than a pound.
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With veterinary clearance, Warrior was ready to be returned to the Boat Lake in Central Park.
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The question was, would his mate and four fledglings be there?
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At the time of rescue, Warrior was alone on a frozen lake. He apparently was unable to fly out with the family when either harassed by Geese Police or electing to fly to the nearby Reservoir which was still open water and where virtually all of the migratory geese congregated.
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Two days following Warrior's rescue, temperature in NYC dropped to minus one degree. It was unlikely he would have survived such harsh condition being in an already compromised state and alone.
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But, the temperatures quickly rebounded and eventually the ice thawed at the Boat lake.
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And over the past few weeks, some geese returned to the lake.
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But, Liliana and I had no idea if among the 20 or so geese, was the family.
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Nor would releasing Warrior necessarily answer the question immediately.
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As matters turned out, Warrior began to loudly honk as soon as he was released from the box and into the water.
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A number of similarly honking geese curiously ambled over to check out the new arrival.
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Warrior chased some and appeared to recognize and accept one group.
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Was this Warrior's mate and kids?
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At first, it appeared to be as Warrior even gently nicked at one of the youngsters in what seemed parental manner.
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But, then after a few minutes, he started to swim away from the group and far out on the water.
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Liliana and I didn't know what to make of the scene we were witnessing.
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Perhaps after being away for more than two weeks, Warrior needed to once again familiarize himself with the territory and note any changes to it?  Perhaps he needed some time alone to readapt and evaluate? 
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It was hard to know for sure.
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A few days later, however, Liliana called me to report that Warrior was indeed reunited with the family.
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Though there is some question if Warrior can fly normally as he seems to have lost some feathers over his recuperation period, the good news is that he is basically healthy and back with Princess and the kids.
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Whether the family elects to stay at the Boat Lake through the spring nesting period remains to be seen. Last year, Warrior and Princess nested in some location outside of Central Park resulting in the successful hatching of four goslings. The family did not return to the Boat Lake until the fall.
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Truth is, that had they nested at the Boat Lake, the eggs would have been destroyed as nearly all are in Central Park.
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In other goose news, the migratory geese who had been wintering at the Reservoir since December have begun their spring journeys north.
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At its highest point, goose numbers were nearly 300 over the past few months. But, they have begun to seriously dwindle, especially over the past week.
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Last night, I was barely able to discern 50 geese around the entire Reservoir.
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I anticipate that virtually all of these will be gone by the middle of the month.
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However, the Reservoir should not be entirely devoid of geese.
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Hopefully to see Hansel and Greta with their four fledglings then and the return also, of John and Mary.
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Stay tuned.  -- PCA
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                                               *********

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

"Angry White Voters" Taking the Country Down?



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One candidate calls for "Revolution!" at campaign events and during debates. The other plays the Beatles, "Revolution" at rallies. One claims America is "in a mess." The other claims America's institutions and political system are "rigged" and "corrupt." Both candidates have targeted certain groups of people to blame all of America's problems on. In the case of one candidate, Muslims and Mexicans. According to the other candidate, "billionaires" and the "top one percent."
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Though the two candidates may come from opposite sides of the political spectrum, they are in many ways, two sides of the same coin: That of "anti-establishment" anger, demonization and blame. And though both candidates may occasionally say things that are true and play into human emotion and fear, such musings come not from a place of earnest desire to painstakingly work for constructive change, but rather a seeming lusting for political power, self importance and marked degrees of division and destruction -- in some cases, the very principles this country stands on.
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But, perhaps the most startling commonality that both candidates share, is their mass appeal to "angry white voters."
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One can speculate about why so much of the white electorate is "angry" and who specifically they blame their troubles on -- whether other races, immigrants, the super rich, government or the establishment.
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But, this tendency to perceive "strength, honesty and authenticity" in what amounts in many instances, to be little more than hate speech and sarcastic barbs is more than troubling.  ("He says what he means!" many people say. "He says what people are feeling." say others.)
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The two candidates I am speaking of are, Donald Trump on the Republican side and Bernie Sanders on the Democratic.
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Personally speaking, I am far more familiar with Sander's supporters than Trump backers because of being a supporter of Hillary Clinton and encountering much hate speech against her online. The amount of Internet vitriol, name-calling and demonization against Secretary Hillary Clinton might be expected from far right wing, Republican extremists. But it has been quite shocking coming from many within her own party -- specifically, the "Feel the Bern" people, virtually all of whom are white and most, relatively young.
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Much has been bantered about regarding Sander's appeals to the young. Certainly, the "free college" promises don't hurt, but it goes far beyond that.
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Young people, particularly elitist whites are generally drawn to lofty causes and anti-establishment, "Revolution" rhetoric. (Part of this is due to rebellion from parents and authority figures.)  If one is old enough to remember the 60's, an entire movement was formed around the theory that one, "should never trust anyone over 30." Indeed, Woodstock, though featuring a number of renowned black artists from Jimi Hendricks to Sly and the Family Stone drew a better than 90% white audience.
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Of course, during the turbulent 60's, it was past time to challenge very real and troubling issues such as the Viet Nam war, racism, segregation, sexism and other forms of injustice and societal abuses.
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But, in other ways, the "Counterculture revolution" of the 60's also lost much of its focus over the years, degenerating into an eventual haze of "Tune in, turn on and drop out" drugs, "free love," hippie communes and even violence.  
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Nevertheless, pressure from the left and the new "social revolution" and "culture wars" caused the democratic party to fracture and eventually pivot to the left during the 1968 and 1972 elections -- both of which were overwhelmingly lost to Republican, Richard Nixon who made his case to the silent majority fed up with protests and "revolution in the streets."
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In many ways, this is what I partially fear happening now. Pressure from left wing, "anti-establishment, revolutionary" forces exemplified by candidate, Bernie Sanders is forcing Hillary Clinton to move farther to the left than what might normally be expected. In some ways, this could be deemed a positive, but in other ways, it could also forecast serious trouble in November. (Already, Donald Trump and other Republican operatives are labeling Hillary Clinton a "socialist" -- just a small predictor of things to come.) 
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But, what is so much more troubling now than either 1968 or 1972 is that Donald Trump is a far less qualified candidate for President than Richard Nixon. More alarmingly, Trump  panders to the worst in human nature in terms of anger, hate, fear, insult and even racism and bigotry.  
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Like many Americans and even political pundits, I did not take Donald Trump's or Bernie Sander's Presidential aims seriously in the beginning of this election cycle.
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Who, after all, is going to take seriously or support a self-admitted Socialist screaming, "Revolution" on the one hand or a rich, egotistical and arrogant, reality show host hurling insults and ad hominons on the other?
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But, I obviously discounted the "passion" and significance of "angry white voters" whether young or old.  
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Unlike the 60's in which more than 50,000 young American men were sent to their deaths in Viet Nam and there was violence in the streets as exemplified by political assassinations,  race riots and social and political unrest, it seemed things were relatively peaceful over the last 8 years under President Obama.
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So, why are so many people -- especially whites -- so angry?
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Putting aside things like social media, cable TV or conservative/liberal talk radio, Americans are among the most fortunate people in the world. And while understandable that there are real frustrations with government bureaucracies, income inequality, a somewhat weak economy, "political correctness" and job losses, it doesn't explain the extremism and "passion" to tear everything down and start anew. It doesn't explain attraction and support to either an arrogant bully and blowhard or an angry socialist clamoring for "revolution."  
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Make no mistake. From all indications, it appears Hillary Clinton will eventually prevail and win the democratic nomination. But Sanders vows to stay in and fight her all the way to the summer convention. At least to this point, he appears to have the money and backing to do so.
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The question to ask is will Hillary be so damaged and compelled to "go left" that such will severely hamper her chances of defeating Trump in the general election? Will Trump be successful in labeling her a "socialist" and persuading so-called, "Reagan democrats" (white, blue collar and centrist democrats) to abandon their party and vote for him? Will he use many of the arguments and attacks against Hillary that Sanders supporters are using now?
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These are daunting questions, not only for democrats, but all Americans, regardless of political affiliation, race, religion or age.
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The one thing that seems clear is that we cannot afford, in misplaced "passion" to elect (or allow to be elected) a seeming demagogue, hell bent on power and ego-gratification at the expense of the country, its people and national security and welfare.
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Reality is, that Donald Trump is no Ronald Reagan.
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The forever optimistic and humble, Ronald Reagan never would have uttered the arrogant, narcissistic words, "I could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and my people would still support me."  Nor would Reagan have struggled to denounce white supremacists, David Duke or the KKK as Trump recently did.
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It's important that voters get behind Hillary Clinton as the one and only chance we seem to have now to defeat Donald Trump before it is too late.
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"Angry" voters of any kind do not usually make for wise, but rather regrettable, election decisions later.
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The demon (who even condescends to his own supporters) is at the door.  -- PCA
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                                                **********
                                                        

Monday, February 22, 2016

Winter, 2016 and the Living is Easy (for the Geese and Ducks)


Winter time and the living is easy.
A coot looking wistfully over the water.
Geese and ducks as far as the eye can see.
Last year at this time, the geese and ducks were hunkered down on solid ice.
Compared to the last two years, the migratory geese and ducks wintering at the Central Park Reservoir have had a cake walk this year.
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Sure, we had a 27-inch snow blizzard and a day when the temperature plunged to below zero. But, both events were short lived and quickly followed by rapid temperature warm ups. The same is true of the Reservoir icing over which has only occurred two days out of the entire winter, so far. Last year, it was iced over during all of February and part of March.
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It is likely due to such mild conditions that we have had a significantly larger number of wintering geese this year (more than 200), in addition to a variety of ducks and even a small group of coots!
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The birds have had few serious challenges to contend with. Such is easily observable in their more relaxed behavior and higher activity levels. (Last year, they were mostly "hunkered down" for nearly two months.)
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Most significantly, we have so far, lost no waterbirds this year, compared to nearly a dozen who starved to death last year on the ice.
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For humans too, this winter has been infinitely more pleasant. -- For one matter, not having to gingerly navigate slippery ice that covered the running path last year for almost two months.  
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All of this raises the question of when the current geese will actually leave the Reservoir to migrate back to where they came from? 
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I suspect the geese who winter at the Reservoir are not actually from Canada or the sub arctic, but places closer; perhaps neighboring states. Since they don't usually arrive until late December or early January, it is thought they come to New York City when local ponds or lakes freeze over. As such, they are also the first geese to leave and migrate back. (The true "migratory" geese from Canada and the sub-arctic are among the last to migrate in spring -- usually in mid to late March.)
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It is recalled that in prior warm winters, geese who wintered at the Reservoir sometimes left as early as late February. (Last year, they didn't leave until mid March.)
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In essence, everyday I still see the geese now is a small relief as it's always a little sad and lonely when they leave and the Reservoir is eerily still -- or at least until the later migrators arrive and depart.
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As said to another park observer last night, "Enjoy the geese while they are still here. Since these are migratory birds, they will likely leave within the next couple of weeks and things will then seem dull and empty."  -- PCA
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                                                  ******