Saturday, January 19, 2013

Cause and Effect


Follows are two stories that describe some events that happened last week. There is nothing political, economic or market related in these (not a word about Social Security); so if that’s what you’re looking for, come back another time. From my perspective, there’s nothing funny about these tales. I hope you get a laugh on me.



Snow Day


I’m up at 5:30 as usual, still dark outside, I have a look, there’s two inches of wet snow on the ground.

I check the weather, it’s going to be warm later, so I make an executive decision, text the plow guy, tell him not to come, save myself the $75. I’m thinking it’s a good start to the day.

It was around 9 that the UPS guy knocked on the door. He made it up to the crest of the drive before getting stuck. And can I please help him get unstuck, as he has a route to do. And why didn’t I plow? Him not happy at all.

So I get dressed, get outside with a chain and my pickup with 4WD. But walking with the chain I fall ass over tea-kettle, hitting my head and arm at the same time. I’m bleeding from the scrapes in the palm of my hand, small chucks of gravel stuck in the skin. But I get it together and hook things up and get ready to pull. It was just at that time that I see the County Oil truck coming up the hill. The driver is flashing his lights and beeping his horn as he doesn’t want to stop on the slippery drive. The UPS guy is screaming  Go! Go! Go!

I drop it into low, hit the gas – that was a mistake. There was 8′ foot of slack in the chain, just enough for me to get going. And wham! It was like running into a wall. I get knocked into the steering wheel (who wears a seat belt in the fucking driveway?). The UPS guys comes running up saying that he was “sorry”, he had left the step-van in gear, and could we try it again, this time without the fucking yank?

I got UPS out of the way, but the oil truck is now stuck as he had to come to a halt. He backs up 3′, tries to go forward, fails, backs up again, fails again. At this point, both drivers are yelling at me.

Klaudia, who lives in the guest house, is pacing around, she can’t get out because of the trucks. She’s got a plane to Cleveland in two hours and has to go, but that is a dead end too. Her asking again and again, “How long is this going to take?”

The oil truck was a big one, 9000 gallons of #2 fuel. The guy tries to back out, but, sure enough, his double axle real wheels slip off the pavement at the bend. For 30 minutes he tries to get out of trouble. All the time spinning those big tires, tearing up the pony paddock, mud flying, lawn ruined. Now everyone is yelling. But it got worse.

The truck’s ass is in the field, and also on a grade, so it’s tilting back and sideways too. Sure enough, this truck was not supposed to lean like this, now there is diesel fuel leaking out of the fill pipe. All in, 200 gallons were lost.

So now there is a complete cluster fuck. The oil company has to call one of those monster tow-trucks to get this beast out of the mud. The tow cost 1000 an hour, and the truck is so big that it can’t get over the bridge from town, so it has to come the long-way around, and gets lost in the process.

Also arriving is a Haz Mat crew. Oil spills are a problem, so the fucking County inspectors have to be around to make sure it’s cleaned up right. One nerdy inspector guy was talking on a big old walkie-talkie, him saying stuff like “Unit one to base”. I’m thinking, get a fucking cell….

Klaudia’s watching all this, still dressed to the nines. Her all in black for a funeral she was supposed to be going to. The inspector guy is making time with her, then out of the walkie-talkie comes “waddayawaant?” Him asking, “How deep should we dig?” The voice comes back, “until it don’t smell no more”. So our boy says “Roger”, then asks Klaudia if she’d help him smell some dirt. She walks off, everyone heard her mutter, “Asshole”.

The Haz Mat guys were spreading stuff to sop up the oil, the inspectors say, “no good, ya gotta dig it all out”. So a big Case backhoe, and a 10 yd dump truck is called in. Before it was over, they took two trucks loads and at least 15 yards out of the field. Left the hole, of course. Looks like I got hit with a meteor.

The bosses from the oil company show up. They are looking at a $10k bill for this, and they are pissed. They fire the driver right on the spot, me feeling bad about that as the same guy had been delivering me fuel for years now, but what the fuck can I do? The driver screaming that he has two kids and it’s not his fault that the homeowner didn’t take care of the drive. (Later I heard that the guy wasn’t fired, it was just for show)

Anyway, the County Oil guys say it’s all my fault, dangerous conditions and all that. Them saying they will send me a copy of the contract where the fine print says they’re not liable for shit. And what is the number for my insurance agent, and just in case, give me your lawyer’s number too…

Anyway, they all left just now, except Klaudia, who missed the fucking plane to Detroit. And it’s only quarter-to-two…………



Bad Birds


Danny, the plumber, shows up around nine, he’s here to replace some old steam traps. Dan’s been in the trade for quite a few years, and like most plumbers, he’s got a good nose for a bad smell. He walks in the kitchen, says right away, “You gotta problem, something stinks, I think it’s the septic.”


For a homeowner, this is terrible news. Right away I’m thinking the worst; backhoes, dump trucks, leeching fields, permits, inspections – a crisis.


So we go outside, and sure enough, there is a bad smell in the air. But right away I knew that my worst fears would not be realized. I turn to the plumber, “That ain’t sewage, that’s dead meat!”


Dan and I walked around, he’s not convinced on the the source of the smell, he’s sniffing for leeching brown water, I was looking for something dead. Nothing. We went back in, as it was cold outside.


Around noon, the neighbor’s dog was making a racket. A bit unusual, as this old dog rarely barks. I went out to yell at the dog to shut-up, and there’s that rotten odor again. It’s that bad smell, unmistakable – decayed meat. I did some more walking around with my nose in the air, didn’t find a thing. I was hoping that maybe “it” will just go away – and wondering what it was all about.


Later that day I came up the drive and was very surprised by what I saw. Two big turkey vultures sitting on the chimney. The good news was that I had found the source of the mal-odor; the bad news was that I had buzzards on the roof.






This is a problem of my own making. Last fall I (finally) got around to redoing that old chimney, it had needed pointing and repairs for years. The new orange flue pipe is twelve inches wide; the normal is only eight, so a special metal cap had to be made. As it turns out, the metal rain cover made a perfect landing strip for the buzzards.


Fifty feet up, the birds have a long view. They know that they are perched where no dog or human will bother them. (I yelled at them repeatedly, it didn’t bother them a bit)  The real attraction for the buzzards was not the view – it was the heat. The boilers in the basement push hot exhaust gases up the flue, creating a spa like environment for the nasty beasts.


This proves (to me) that buzzards aren’t stupid. But they do stink. These monsters were on the roof digesting their last meal (and all the related things that implies). That was one part of the odor problem; the other is that these birds have a natural smell to them, no doubt, the product of a lifetime of eating carrion.


I asked a neighbor who’s been around the country block what could be done. He came over, saw my buzzards enjoying their heated resting place, and said right away, “They’ll ruin the roof and the new chimney too. Ya gotta kill em. I’ll do it for free.”



I don’t kill anything, not even vultures that are wrecking the house, stinking up the yard and driving the neighbor’s dog wild – so that offer was rejected. Now it’s Saturday morning, a cold one at that. I just looked – the buzzards are back. I don’t suppose anyone has a suggestion? I could use one.






  1. Shoot them with a BB gun. It wont kill them, but it will hurt enough to make them go away.

  2. I’ve never had that problem, but here are two links that offer suggestions:



  3. Have your roofer or a “sweep” install some chimney spikes


  4. Load up the top of those caps with steel spikes that are used to keep pigeons from roosting in sheltered nooks.

  5. Maybe the universe is trying to tell you something…like it’s time to move? Sorry, but I did laugh a lot. So thanks for that. Reminds me of the movie QUICK CHANGE and one of my favorite movie lines, ‘That’s not our plane, if it was our plane, it would be crashing.’

  6. use mirror light reflection. might work when there is a sunlight.

  7. might only work for a day or two, but find some road kill and leave it in the yard

  8. Socialist Insecurity says:

    Random musings:

    Who the hell wants to go to Detroit?
    Send the buzzards to Detroit? Lots of carrion to eat.
    In Soviet Amerika home owns you!

  9. Must have been a drag to endure but, it was laugh-out-loud funny to read.
    Good story…you don’t happen to have a photo of that “meteor strike” to share, do you?

    Realistically, your neighbor did make a worthwhile offer.
    And, hey, you can recycle — didn’t you mention having a meat grinder awhile back? (grin)

  10. move to the house at the bottom of the hill

  11. The problem isn’t the birds, it is your metal cap.

    Horiztal space attacts mess, like birds and leaks. So even if you do get rid of the buzzards, over time, another problem will roost there.

    The cap should’ve had peaks like your roof, but peaked caps look bad.

    It won’t cost 2k to change the cap, but getting the lift truck might.

  12. Bruce..I have a large place with the same problems:
    1. Buy 2 tons of constructon sand to store…when iced driveway just sprinkle on top after plowing….always pay the guy to plow so you don’t lose him when you have a bad snow. We own our own plow.
    2. xnay the traps on your steam system..if possible..go veco or broomell..no traps. If not, get dan holohan’s Lost Art of Steam Heating and memorize it.
    3.bb’s will seriously hurt buzzards…no flat surfaces on chimney vents. We have our own cherry picker…14000 but pays for itself every year….Seriously, good luck and hope things are better now.

  13. not sure if this helps out now. Instead of a flat cap on the chimney, maybe look into a pointed on(no place to perch).

  14. I have to pass this along – a year ago my chimney cap was torn halfway off during a wind. Instead of fixing it I procrastinated a few months too long. In Sept we heard a pathetic squealing coming from just above the fireplace. I immediately thought a bird had gotten caught inside the flue. The squeals got softer and softer during the night, then stopped. Now I figure the bird has died. Next day I get out my 32 foot ladder – it barely reaches the top of the chimney. I hoped to lasso the dead bird, but that’s clearly impossible. So, I recruit my wife to hold a net under the chimney when I open the damper. We close all the doors to the room with the fireplace, just in case, and I pull the lever. Two small squirrels fall out into the net. Not sure who was more shocked – us or the squirrels. They laid in the net looking at us for a good 10 seconds before running off. We had a lot of fun chasing two terrified squirrels around the room and then out the door. The really funny thing was we had no squirrels around the house for the rest of the year – these two must have passed the word to their buddies that our house is dangerous.

    Use bird spikes on the cap.

  15. I doubt buzzard b.o. is so bad you can smell them from 50 feet. I suggest something else is dead that atrracted them first.. they are smart. in florida they have learned to drag their meal off the road. bon appetit.

  16. Ditto the sand comments. Get a UTV (not an ATV) if you don’t have one and a spreader unit.

    We maintain a steep 600′ drive with a 30″ cut snowblower, and sand. We try to sand only when we need it. The snowblower takes things down to the asphalt, and a little sun melts any remainder.

    Dude, you’ve got a guest house. With a tenant. I’m not feeling much sympathy for a two grand bill for you. And you need a different chimney cap for sure.

  17. we have turkey buzzards that congregate on the roofs of several homes and a church nearby in towson outside baltimore..i suggested shooting them to a neighbor who hunts and was shocked to learn they are a protected species…if you shoot em,dont post about it…btw, i prefer the local purple bird ,the RAVEN !! go get brady today !!

  18. Look what you did for GDP growth in just a few hours! Kill the carrion eating freaks

  19. Wow, that was painful. I feel for you Bruce! And I’m amazed that vultures would reek that strongly. Big birds though, so I suppose it’s possible.

    I’d think that a very pointy cap would do the trick.

    Betcha never skimp on plowing again, eh?!

  20. Bruce — after the Fed minutes release from August 2007 that shows then FRBNY President Tim Geithner leaking discount rate info to BofA/Ken Lewis …. are you still sticking with your prediction that anyone in the private sector will hire a known tax cheat, liar, and market manipulator?

    Whether he broke the law or not, Geithner has absolutely no ethics, and neither does any criminal organization that would interview, much less hire him. Maybe he can form some kind of partnership with OJ Simpson? He is “legally” not guilty also. And maybe Lance Armstrong? Donno who made him take steroids, but TurboTax caused him to fail to report it!

    PS — any tree company will have a bucket truck / cherry picker that can reach your chimney top. They could easily reach the top with climbing ropes too — the typical tree guy won’t blink at 50ft. Have them install some spikes instead of a flat surface. Surprised the first chimney company didn’t think of this right away (not necessarily vultures, but all sorts of birds / animals and related feces damage).

    • Bubba Joe – Your assertion about why a company SHOULD NOT want to hire Turbo Timmy would be a practical one in an honest world. And in a different era, the things you mention would have made it more difficult to get hired.

      However, as a former Wall Streeter myself, I can wholeheartedly inform that none of that will be an issue for most financial firms. I have no doubt he’ll land a very sweet deal. Ridiculous, I know. But, no more so than who just got re-elected. Birds of a feather, those two.

      • @Maggie Thatcher —

        I am (present tense) an evil doing, face sucking, vampire squid Wall Streeter. A few years ago, I would not have blinked if Turbo Timmy was given a bribe … ahem, excuse me… if Turbo Timmy received a “fair wage” of $15 million per year for strategic thinking about how Citigroup could exploit the end of Glass-Steagal. Pretty sure one such red umbrella bank did exactly that with another ex Treasury secretary.

        Today’s Wall Streeters do care about their customers. Stop laughing. We care if our customers threaten to pull their accounts from us when they find out our firm is bribing .. oops, I did it again! … paying a fair compensation to former government officials for rigging laws in our favor. You can’t rip your customers’ faces off and steal their money if they aren’t customers.

        There is also such a thing as honor amongst thieves….

        Many Wall Streeters are learning that our bazillion dollar bonus checks are being replaced with three year IOUs from the very insolvent banks we work for? What is up with that? And the IOUs are subject to claw backs when … I mean “if” … the CEO turns out to have co-mingled customer funds with the firm’s money. That ain’t right!!!

        Ever watch a cheesy mafia movie / TV show? Ever see what happens when Twoface Bugsy figures out that Machine Gun Kelly is getting paid up front (and a larger amount), while poor Bugsy gets a 3yr IOU?

        Bugsy runs out and forms a new hedge fund … I mean a new crime gang. The stupid dim witted bank suddenly has a recruiting problem, leading to a revenue problem, leading to (GASP!!!) the CEO getting a smaller bonus check himself.

        That makes bribing — again CRAP!! — I mean paying Turbo Timmy an obscene amount a bit of a sticky issue. You can’t cut the amount of loot you pay your own gang while paying a corrupt former politician.

  21. Then again Bruce, with your past career it wouldn’t be a jump to assume you acted vulturelike, swooped down and tore some flesh of off a few unsuspecting individuals. Karma maybe, payback as the vultures watch your every move?

  22. Obama doesn't care about white people says:

    BK, while you are whining about self inflicted wounds (even though your stories are pretty funny), you might want to keep in mind that many home owners in Connecticut (and probably New Jersey / Staten Island, etc) still have no house to complain about.

    FEMA has [NOT] done their usual half assed job. Many people are being told they will get about 30 cents on the dollar of what it will cost to do repairs. Others are being told they must raise their house on “stilts” or they get zero coverage (perhaps the homes should be elevated, but FEMA collected insurance premiums based on the houses without being raised)

    Hurricane Sandy is as big of a cluster fuck as Katrina, but the news papers and TV are such Obama cheerleaders that they are trying to censor the story. The NY Times isn’t worth the toilet paper it is printed on. That criminal newspaper in Westchester NY is busy violating gun owner rights, but they can’t say anything about FEMA’s negligence? To hell with CBS, NBC, FOX and ABC. and lets hope David Letterman chokes on his band leaders stupid laugh. These people could not say enough bad things about Bush for Katrina — because they hate Bush. Yet the very same people are trying to conceal the same exact problems with Sandy / Obama.

    Where is that fuckup Kanye West with his Obama doesn’t care about white people (or NJ guidos)? Where is Mike Myers making his lemon face? Where is Samuel Jackson making racism comments?

    Hollywood (Anne Hathaway, Jerry Springer, Harvey Weinstein, etc) had a $35,000 per plate dinner in CT for Obama — and stiffed the cities for the extra security costs. Are any of these losers raising $35K to fix people’s houses? Not one. They haven’t even paid for the police overtime from the Obama campaign dinner.

    Many of the people effected by hurricane Sandy (in CT, NJ, NY, etc) do not have Harvey Weinstein’s money. They don’t have a $7 million “second home” on the shore of Westport.

    That $80 billion that Congress is still debating (out of money taxpayers don’t have, see the deficit)? Most of that is going to NYC and NJ public unions … with a bit scraped off the top for Alaska and NASA. It is not going to taxpayers who were effected

    That is why the buzzards are circling Bruce. Any country that allows this sort of criminal behavior out of its government is not long for this world.

    We now return you to Obama’s $15 million inauguration party — that normal citizens are not allowed to attend whether or not their home is inhabitable.

    • @Obama doesn’t care about — your priorities are all screwed up. Did it occur to you that it is not the taxpayers responsibility to pay to rebuild other people’s homes?! Save your own goddamn money for catastrophes AND buy insurance.

      You – “Many people are being told they will get about 30 cents on the dollar of what it will cost to do repairs.” My response: too f**king bad. How many smaller storms produce BIG damage for a fewer number of people and NO money from anyone else flows their way? Take care of yourself!

      FEMA/the Feds should help with clean-up and help facilitate a return to normal services but, even thinking that other Americans OWE people for damage related to natural disasters is massively screwed up.
      Grow up!

      • Obama doesnt care about white people says:

        @Atlantan — I think you may have missed a lot of my sarcasm

        I am not sure that “FEMA” should be paying for natural disasters … except that these con-artist bureaucrats have no issue collecting “insurance premiums” for coverage. Once these criminals collected insurance premiums, then they are bound to pay out claims.

        My preference? Get rid of the fucking bureaucrats. No pension for criminals — not after 20 years, not at all. Eliminate FEMA outright. It was always a stupid idea

        As for quoting the beloved racists on TV? well, sarcasm again. These hypocrites spewed forth their crap over papers, TV, magazines and everywhere that Bush should have raced down to New Orleans with a hammer and nails or something… Like anyone would really want a president (any president) swinging a hammer.

        But that was the great cry from racist hollywood — from Samuel Jackson to Kanye West. Mike Myers made his lemon face SILENTLY, but he never challenged the rant.

        America needs to grow up. Either FEMA must pay out all claims, **promptly**, and hollywood assholes must be blacklisted until they apologize and recant their racist nonsense …

        …or else the criminal class in Washington DC must be prosecuted for mail fraud and sent to prison. Public union employees solicited (and in many cases required) citizens to buy FEMA flood insurance. Premiums were collected, bordering on extortion. Why is it OK for federal criminals to collect insurance premiums and then refuse to pay? This behavior is illegal in all 50 states! Return the illegal premiums to effected home owners, and let them pay for the damage themselves (or via private insurance) — send federal bureaucrats to prison where they belong.

        Either solution is fine with me (although I would vote for the second option in a heartbeat). My point is America cannot have it both ways.

      • @Obama doesnt care…

        I think “Atlantan” is upset that you didn’t mention the Hanoi Jane News Network in your list of propaganda spewing hypocrites

  23. Bruce,

    Use a high pressure squirt gun or other mechanism and spray them with ammonia or other icky substance?

    • Westchester Citizen’s Register
      January 21, 2013


      A Westchester resident suffer permanent injuries while attempting to use a high pressure hose to scare off vultures. Police were called to the scene after a neighbor heard weeping from the victim, who had fallen off a ladder while using a power washer that was filled with ammonia.

      Police are investigating the mysterious accident. The officer at the scene, Sgt. Ben Holcom, later reported that the victim had claimed he was following the advice he received in a recent blog post.

      The police are also considering the possibility that the accident was the result of temporary insanity.

      • But you’re okay now; right Bruce?

      • Bruce – Shoot!…you are funny!! I think it’s that you provide just enough rhetoric for the reader to build the specific mental picture. The question is: are the vultures now crying too?

        @Obama doesn’t care — ok, sorry man…..I didn’t perceive you accurately. Seriously, let’s start with TERM LIMITS for the congress criminals. I’d feel some progress if just that happened.

      • Westchester Register – Jan 21st


        After billing taxpayers for a lengthy weekend (double time Ka-ching!!!) response for a heating oil spill …. caused by a face sucking vampire squid retired wall streeter who vowed to destroy the environment again soon …. government HAZMAT employees went out a second time on MLK day (holiday double time and a half Ka-ching!!! Ka-ching!!!!) to the very same evil wall streeter’s home to find he had knowingly and deliberately spilled pure ammonia all over an innocent little bird nest.

        The evil financier claimed a blog commenter told him to do it.

        Government employees were quick to point out that this sort of excuse is reserved for union members only. “It is really offensive when bankers try to use our excuses and our methods for scamming the public!” said one government union official while waiting for the banker to fill an envelope with unmarked cash.

        A second official, seeing the amount of money being extorted by the first, suggested that Turkey buzzards might be on the endangered species list. The banker is being put on the terrorism watch list and drones will be spying on his home for the next six months or until he pays for TSA officials “fact finding” trip to Atlantic City.

  24. BK: “…not a word about Social Security…”

    There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but there are only a few ways to say the US government cannot pay all its promises, including Social Security / Medicare. After you crunch the numbers 3-4 ways, there really is nothing more to add. You are pregnant or you are not. Uncle Sam is solvent or it is not. Analyzing *h*o*w* bankrupt is like analyzing how pregnant.

    Passionate grumpy old people whining about how they paid into a ponzi scheme and they expect to get 10x their money back doesn’t make the discussion interesting. The innumeracy (that is lack of math ability for you public school types) of many citizens is a national embarrassment

    @BK: “so if that’s what you’re looking for, come back another time.”

    Please no. The US government is bankrupt. We got it the first 9999 times. The innumerate fools that still don’t get it, are not going to.

  25. Bruce,
    To crib a line from “Avenue Q”, it sucks to be you….I vote for shooting them with a pellet gun, and if it happens to kill them just double bag the body and put it out with the trash. Works for me with squirrels in the eaves.

  26. I’d avoid shooting the birds, with BBs or anything else. Turkey vultures are federally protected. Violating the Migratory Bird Act could get you into a lot more trouble than you need.

    • Like I said in the piece, I’m a – Non Shooter…..and I have vultures….

    • When in Rome, do as the TSA does says:

      US citizens are also “federally protected” — doesn’t stop the TSA from sexually assaulting us, nor the NYPD from shooting us.

      Fuck the vultures, then shoot them. If anyone asks, tell them you are just following the leadership of the country

  27. Lamont Cranston says:

    Only $10K for a 200 gal spill? The last one like that we cleaned up in the snow ran $15k+. You’re lucky.
    BTW, what were the vultures names? Ben? Timmy? T. Boone?

  28. We had a problem like this, we used a high powered sling shot and frozen berries. The bird we had were “protected” , but you can “feed” them. We graduated to kiwis for one nasty bird….