Monday, February 20, 2012


We started out with 12 chickens, 11 babies and a hen. One got sick and we put it out of its misery. One got killed by a dog. That was last fall. One was eaten for Thanksgiving. So we had 9. Then 2 were run over by a car, at least that's what we think, about a month ago. The weekend before last, a dog killed two and injured one so severely that I had to kill it. So now we have four chickens left, which are just not enough for it to be worth the hassle, so we are getting some more in the Spring. We haven't worked out all of the logistics yet, but I'm sure we will get there. We learned a few lessons and will make some changes to the way we keep the chickens. They are not going to be completely free-range anymore, thanks to irresponsible dog owners that refuse to contain their dogs, but assured me that their dog does not attack any animals at all, even after I followed him all the way to their house from where we keep our chickens. I hate the idea of changing the way we do things because of someone else's ignorance, but we realized that we need to pen them up for some other reasons as well. Such as preventing them from tearing into out flower garden and the veggie garden we're planning to have, and from leaving their droppings in our driveway. And sadly, there is more than one free-roaming dog in the neighborhood. Christina found some simple chicken pen plans for making them out of PVC pipe, and we will give that a try. If it works well, we will make several that we connect to have one really big one, and it will be easy to move it. And when we're outside in the summer, we will let them out as well. On top of all that, one of our cats, adventurous Gator, was lost all day yesterday, and didn't show up at night either. It was such a huge relief to see him at the back door this morning as if nothing had happened.

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Yeah, this is turning into one of those blogs

Time for a chicken update people. We butchered one of the three roosters the Sunday before Thanksgiving, and Christina's Granny used it to make homemade chicken and noodles. Very delicious. The offspring of the mother hen have also started laying eggs, and we have been getting 2 or 3 every day instead of just one. On Sunday, there was a total of 5 eggs, which is the current record for eggs in a day. The heaviest egg we had so far weighed 68g. That's officially an extra large egg. But it's not all fun and games. One night, when I went to close up the house, all the chickens, except two, were not in their house, but sitting under a lean-to by our barn on a bale of straw. They were fast asleep and were not going to move for anything. So I had to pick them up one by one and carry them into their house. The two remaining roosters put up a little more resistance and were more awake, but we eventually managed to get them into the house, not without the two of them getting into a fight in the barn. Last night, when we came home from visiting Christina's parents, they were all still inside the barn, awake and lively at least. I half expected this to happen, since it was a dark and rainy day, and I left the light on inside the barn, so they would have a dry and well-lit place for the day. It wasn't too much effort to get them to go into the house that time. On top of that, they have taken a liking to coming up to the house and scratching mulch and rocks from the flower bed onto the lawn, but it's pretty easy to have them follow me back to their designated area by breaking a heel of a bread into little pieces, calling them and feeding them the bread. Now they even come just when I call them, though with more hesitation.

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Saturday, October 22, 2011


Sure, there are plenty of things they can be criticized for. I've been a little obsessed with Led Zeppelin lately, which seems to happen occasionally, but I won't bother anyone for a while after this. To start out, check out this thing I saw on to set the mood:

And that mood is awesomeness! It may just be that I'm a sucker for the use of stereophonic effects, but II is my favorite Led Zeppelin album. The opening song alone just blows my mind every time, starting out as a straight-forward rock riff song, and then drifting into a psychedelic episode just to remind you what year it was when the album came out. Those damn hippies. It's more than just a collection of great songs; the first album feels like that to me quite a bit. The succession of songs makes sense, and when you listen to it on vinyl, even the A and B side selections and their order seem to have been chosen deliberately. There are not a lot of albums that feature an excessive drum solo, wrap it in an alibi song, and don't disturb the flow of the whole thing by doing so. I just love the dynamics throughout, both within and across songs, and the diversity of sounds and influences. It's the kind of album you should listen to without distraction, and if you do, pay special attention to the bass.

The bass playing is amazing throughout, but on "The Lemon Song" and "Ramble On" it really stands out. In my opinion, too few albums feature the bass prominently enough in the mix, and you sometimes have to strain to hear it at all, let alone the nuances. Led Zeppelin is not exempt from this, but the second album is an exception, and the bass is mixed as an equal along the guitar and drums. (The first Black Sabbath is also mixed in a way that lets the bass parts shine, but not all of the later ones do.) I think that bassists are underrated anyway, partly because of the aforementioned mixing practices, partly because bands can get away with having mediocre bass players. But truly great bands will have great bass players, according to my theory. Listen to the first and second Foo Fighters albums as proof of this. Both are great, but on the second album, they didn't just play the guitar parts on a bass, but added a proper bassist. And The Color and The Shape is still my favorite Foo Fighters album. Easily. So indulge in the bass playing courtesy of John Paul Jones on II.

I have one bad thing to say, and that's the cover art, especially the stuff inside the gatefold. They did much better on the next two though, and an argument could be made that the cover art for Physical Graffiti is the best thing about it.

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Thursday, October 06, 2011

If only they wouldn't defecate everywhere

As you learned in our previous post, we have three awesome kittens that are capable of catching mice. Okay, all of these "I'm a Mormon" commercials are really strange. And why are there always two in a row? Anyway, their names are Mustard, Gator and Dr. Paws. Mustard is a girl, the other two are boys. And if you are on the fence about whether cats are totally awesome or insanely awesome, check out this story from Radiolab Christina and I heard while driving to her parents the other day. Pretty amazing. Also, our roosters have started to crow in the morning. And since three are two too many, we are getting very close to having a chicken dinner.

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Tuesday, October 04, 2011

60 eggs and a mouse

In case anyone was wondering, today was the day our hen laid her 60th egg. Her offspring aren't quite there yet, and we may not actually get any from them this year, depending on the weather and how fast they mature, but their mother has only skipped 2 days since she started laying again. Heck of a hen. Also our kittens had a dead mouse in the garage this morning, which is where they stay at night since they are still too little to fight of the 'coons and possums at night. That's what we think anyway, and we are a little more careful after what happened to our first batch. Anyway, I'm not sure if the mouse kill was a collaborative effort or a solo heroic effort, but that thing was at least 4 inches long. That's a big mouse in my book and a lot better than the grasshoppers they have been catching this whole time.

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Dreams of you all through my head

Is it just me, or are Led Zeppelin slightly out of time at about 45 seconds into Black Dog, as performed on the 4th album? I'm not an expert on this in any way, and keeping time has actually always been my biggest challenge when playing the trumpet. I'm the guy playing right through the pause and missing the cues and playing four quarters in succession all at different lengths. So listen to Black Dog for me, and tell me what you think. I know the song is intentionally complex, but that section of the studio recording seems out of time, even to me, but it could just be that it's way over my head and I simply can't process the complexity of it.

And while we are on the topic of Led Zeppelin, I'd like to conduct an informal survey. This is one of those questions where it's impossible to not have an opinion, and it is essential for every person to know the answer to this question, so that they know who they truly are. On the inside.

Which is you favorite Led Zeppelin album?

And if your answer is something like "I don't know", "I don't care", "I don't have one" or "What cookies?", you better start making up your mind. The answer to this question is more essential than Elvis vs. Beatles and may forever determine your fate, and the fate of the world. I will reveal my favorite, with a detailed explanation, once there are some responses. This is not a threat.

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Monday, August 29, 2011

It's not a bird, and it's not superman neither

I was flying in an aeroplane a couple of weeks ago, and had put my phone in the front pocket of the shoulder bag in which I carry my laptop and laptop accessories. I did this before boarding, and when the flight attendant reminded the passengers to turn off all their electronics devices, including cell phones, portable music players, and anything with an on/off switch, I forgot all about my phone. It was nestled close to a box of mints. About 20 seconds after take-off, mid-ascent, I did suddenly remember, and quickly and inconspicuously turned it off. The Feds didn't catch me, and my phone did not accidentally engage thrust reversal.

Then on the next flight (this was a two-legged trip) our old friend Schicksal peeked around the corner. I was seated in the aisle seat of a row with three seats on each side, no one was in the middle seat, and a young woman, probably in her teens, especially judging by the relationship problems she discussed on her phone, was sitting by the window. When it was time to turn off the electronic devices, she put hers up, as expected, but as soon as the flight attendants took their seats, she pulled it back out to listen to music on it. On the ascent I thought maybe she just didn't know, or thought it was ok to listen to music on the phone or simply forgot. On the descent, however, the flight attendant specifically told her that she would have to turn it off, but she just put it in her purse to pull it out again shortly after. And on purpose too.

So my question is, what do you do in this situation? Do you politely tell the person to turn off their device? Do you inform the flight attendant if they still keep their device on? Is the risk of leaving them on really that serious? As far as I know, the main risk is interference with the airplane communications system, which could be pretty serious depending on what exactly happens. I'd hate to make a big deal out of nothing, but leaving the phone on could be disastrous, and I don't think it's ok for one passenger to decide how much risk everyone else should take. What would you do in this situation?

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