May 7, 2015

Hummingbird and Spring

Well... here we go again...

420 old DSC_0108.JPG

Spring is here, as the pic above clearly demonstrates. So now what? Well, for us we have to:

  • Replace the hot-water heater
  • Replace the gas furnace
  • Remove the wheelchair ramp
  • Rehab the deck
  • Paint the house
  • Fix the back landing
  • Finish the repair on the garage
  • Take care of the boat and trailer
  • Do more computer work
  • Etc., etc., etc...
Notice anything missing from the list above? Ummm... Nothing about birds there... Why? Because we were very careful in the construction, placement, cleanliness, and supply of our feeders and birdbaths. A quick 'Google' on "ebirdseed feeder mount" or "eBirdseed FAQ" will shed light on this...

Brace yourself -- in just a matter of weeks we'll be sweltering and wishing for that cool, snap-fresh Fall air... Welcome to Spring...

Longing for Winter by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan


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April 22, 2015

Counting Snowflakes in a Blizzard

The shot below doesn't do the original justice... Click on the image to get a sense of what this post is really all about...

snow at night in a blizzard 2015 deck snow pile pencil sketch PS_20150227041026.jpg

A number of thoughts come to mind:

  • Firstly, note the paths to the feeders -- either you take care of your birds or you don't...
  • Next, in the enlarged version, it is quiet possible to count the actual snowflakes. The counting is possible because the photograph was taken with a prolonged lens opening between the "heaves of storm" and then fed through Pencil sketch... While there are other photo apps that can no doubt do the same sort of contrast, I'll stick with Pencil Sketch.
  • I enjoy this type of photography -- it allows a person to pull detail out of a pic that just wouldn't be available without major surgery...
  • As best as I can tell, this was taken around 02/27/2015... It was a rough winter...
  • It's interesting that the passing of such a harsh winter can leave such a hollow spot in the soul. (At least for me anyways...) There was such a feeling of accomplishment keeping the homestead churning along...

And I guess that's about it... Be sure to have a designated driver and tip the waitstaff...

By the well illustrated feeders...

CapeCodAlan


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Attic Insulation

Hi,

Yeah, I know it's been ages since I last posted... Perhaps the pics below will explain the delay...

The first shot is of the attic after I put in the catwalk, but before the insulation was blown in...

Attic before 420 IMG_9949.jpg

This photo shows the end result after many days of research and preparation... (And why did we decide to become homeowners instead of just continuing to rent???)

420 attic after IMG_9978.JPG

It is astounding how much stuff ends up in the attic, and then has to be brought down (sometimes by cargo net and pulley...)

But the fun has only begun -- we've got to replace both the hot water heater and the gas furnace -- and those are just the immediate emergencies... More fun to follow...

So I do apologize for being tardy in the postings... But we're getting there... It's 1:35 AM, and I have to go empty the garage for the trash guy tomorrow...

By those well-stocked and clean feeders and bird baths...

CapeCodAlan


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April 1, 2015

Insulating Attic

420 attic before insulation IMG_9950.JPG Ah yes... I've been absent again. Truth be told is that we've had nine major construction issues hit us at once:
  • Attic must be insulated... (See shot above)
  • Garage-to-rec-room transformation
  • Replace water heater
  • Replace gas-fired furnace
  • Reinforce deck
  • Remove wheelchair ramp
  • Completely rebuild the major bath
  • Build back landing
  • Paint the house

Toss into the mix a couple of blizzards (not the DQ kind), and things have been going nuts here.

Onward...

Let us take the issues in order with the first being the only one for today's discussion... (Again refer to the photograph above...) That's 60' of back-breaking hard love. To start, I/we had to empty the attic (I had to hook up a pulley and used a cargo net to lower the big boys.) Once the space was empty, that 15" wide catwalk was installed by yours truly. The plan is to have the pros blow in the insulation to bring it up to an R40 insulation factor. (Right now it's at an R9...) But beyond that, we want to keep the catwalk semi-open using battens of insulation that can be tossed aside when access to the ends of the house are needed -- we need a removable insulating trench. After that miracle is accomplished, we get to paw through all the stuff we dragged down from the attic, toss out the jetsam, and then put the house back together again.

And when all that is done, there's only eight more to go...

Thinking about renting by the feeders...

CapeCodAlan


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March 10, 2015

Book Review: A Pocket Guide to Sharks of the World

420 shark cover003.jpg

Hi,

Ever since I started reviewing these Princeton University Press books, I've yet to find what I would call a serious flaw... until now. But more about that in the closing comment...

  • Book logistics: Let's see... We talking 0.96 lbs., 256 pp, with a desk space of 5.125" by 7.75" by .75"... The soft cover has some sort of plastic coating, and the paper is high quality, etc., etc., etc... After doing 16 reviews of Princeton works, I've come to expect excellence in materials, and they haven't let me down yet.
  • Immediate and long-term ease of use: See below...
  • Book organization: Well, it has everything a shark guru would want including all 501 shark species complete with illustrations and descriptions, diagrams of teeth, fins, guts... You name it and it's probably in there. But...
  • Artwork: The plates are the usual PUP high quality. Nuff said.
  • Overall impression: It's a great book... It truly is... But...

I started this review stating that this wasn't going to be a favorable analysis, and here's why -- in my humble opinion, I should be able to grab a pocket book and immediately look up a particular shark. Since Mrs. CCA and I like to clam off Chatham, we're a bit concerned about the Great Whites that like to frequent those waters. (Here's an excellent video showing them.) That's an easy task right? Just grab the book and look in the index. But there was no entry for the Great White. (It turns out that the shark is properly called a "White Shark" and is listed... White Sharks become Great Whites as they age.) "No big deal" you say? Well, next I tried to look up the Mako... Once again, there was no index entry for the Mako -- instead you have to blindly hunt for the Shortfin and Longfin varieties. Obviously, shark wonks know all this stuff, but we don't, and in the case of the Great White, more quick info equates to less chance of us getting our butts chomped.

So that's where the book fails us -- the authors truly put together a fine piece, but its usability for the unwashed masses needlessly suffers, and that's too bad. If the editors were just a bit more plebeian in their construction of the index this one would have knocked it out of the park, but at least for me, it fell short.

By the feeders,

CapeCodAlan


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March 9, 2015

Winter 2015 .. Bring It On!

Sorry about the long delay, but as the following pics show, it's been a "vigorous" winter. Put another way, the Cape got clobbered, I don't have a snow blower, and I'm addicted to Aleve.

I don't know about you, but I for one have reached the insane when it comes to winter and snow -- I've shoveled/meandered/stumbled/slogged/fell through so much snow/ice/slush that it doesn't matter any more. Soreness and even pain are foregone conclusions. Bruised coccyx? Whoopee! Turn up the music, don the layers, and wander into the abyss. This is the kind of weather that will give one "Pop-Eye Forearms" and put fur on the eyeballs. Post-twenty-degrees? Break out the suntan lotion and head for the nearest nudist beach at 2AM!!!

No, I don't give a rat's patoot what the weather does... If it doesn't kill me, it simply makes me crazier. So, let's go... Let's have another blizzard or two...

(Note that below I used 'Pencil Sketch' to highlight the features of what was my usually atrocious photograph... All of that snow pile, and then some more was shoveled of the deck by moi...)

420 2015 deck snow pile pencil sketch PS_20150227041026.jpg

Ahh... the driveway...

420 car with snow piles IMG_9726.jpg

'Natch that I had to dig paths to feed the birds... Must be nice to be able to fly over this stuff...

420 feeder path IMG_9796.jpg

And finally, here's another shot of the driveway and mailbox... (Yes, there's a car behind that mound of snow!)

420 view from rd left IMG_9785.jpg

Yes, it's been a fun winter, and now I think my hernia's son, "Junior Hernia" is going to make a horror movie entitled, "I Ripped His Guts Out!!!"

I'll be the one in the body cast by the feeders...

CapeCodAlan


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February 19, 2015

Climate Change?

Hi,

(references: *Al Gore's mansion... Dubya's ranch: * Obamas' vacations using separate jets: * )

Like pretty much everyone else, I've been following the bickering over the possible existence and perhaps extent of "Man-Made Climate Change" (formerly known as "Global Warming" and before that, "Global Cooling"...) So I decided to perform a few experiments on my own. Here are some simple observations:

  • Check out the pics below

    420 2_19_15_ La Crosse IMG_9649.jpg

    420 deck temp oregon_2_19_15.jpg

    420 Direct TV Weather Nation 2_19_95_IMG_9650.jpg

    420 Weather Channel 2_19_15_IMG_9648.jpg

    From top to bottom, those temps read, 33 degrees, 28.8 degrees, 34 degrees, and 31 degrees, with the first and second coming from the front and back of my house. All observations were within two minutes of each other at roughly 2:30 AM, 2/19/15. That's quite a variety of readings for a specific area and time. To be fair, the thermometer that read 33 degrees was attached to the front of the house and the one that registered 28.8 degrees was attached to the back deck. Still, little things mean a lot.

  • Back on 2/14 at 4:10 AM, I tried a similar experiment and got 1.9 from the deck thermometer, 7 from weather.com, and 13 degrees from the front thermometer... Wow...
  • A number of years ago I tried to chart a couple seasons' worth of temperature fluctuations expecting to get the standard sinusoid cycles. Instead, what I got was two wildly different sinusoids. What had I done wrong? The years hadn't been that different from each other. I was using a quality digital thermometer and I never moved it. So why were the readings so disparate? It took me time, but then it dawned on me that I had replaced all the windows in the house and that ultimately changed the core temperature of the entire structure including the basement.
The takeaway from the experiments? Recording temperature using even 21st century equipment can be tricky, let alone early 20th century gear or worse yet the stuff of 19th century. The issue of quality and calibration of instruments must be taken into account, as does the mathematics used. So why all the hub bub?

As far as I can tell, it boils down to a number of things...

  • Yes, the climate is changing, but that shouldn't come as any great surprise.
  • "Climate Science" has not been without its scandals such as this one...
  • I'll speak the unspoken -- while there are well intentioned people out there, there also "Climate Hustlers". Al Gore and the POTUS lunge to mind... Sadly, even amongst those with the best of intentions have absolutely no clue when it comes to the math and computer models being used. (It's nice to be a computer engineer.)
The bottom line for me is that I don't know what is going on... Hence my "Climate Change Agnosticism"...

Confused by the feeders...

CapeCodAlan


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