December 13, 2014

Another Christmas, Another Stupid Question Revisited...

Sales.jpg Does this post look familiar? Well, it should -- it's a copy of a post from a year ago. I wrote the following:

"But given the date, I feel compelled to yet again ask a simple dumb question... "Since you're reading this, why don't you just use the eBirdseed.com options shown at left as a present (presents)? No muss... No fuss..." I've mentioned this before, but I'll say it again... Given the cost of gas (it's $2.84/gal), the time and hassle of the mall, and the immediacy of the date, why on earth don't you jump ugly on the red pointer on the port?"

I hope the eBirdseed.com Web site hasn't changed, but even if it has, the question remains the same... Why on earth don't you just do your shopping online? And whether or not you like it, odds are that that significant other can live without yet box of chocolates... Why not just get him something oriented around birds? After all -- it brings joy, feeds our little winged buddies, and saves you from the heartache of battling the crowds, and hitting the gas station and mall.

So for now, happy holidays and take care...

By the feeders,

CapeCodAlan


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December 7, 2014

Feeder Location Continued... Also about the Cornell‏ Ornithology Web Site

Hi,

Some time ago I put up a post on feeder location...

Well... I still recommend the 5x5 rule, but this Cornell article does raise an interesting question... Is there a danger zone presented to birds by the misplacement of feeders? Here's the article that discusses this, and here's how our house looks with the danger zones included...

420 Bird hit window danger zone.jpg

Hmmm... According to Cornell, it looks like all our feeders put birds at risk when they're located in the 3 to 30 foot range from the house. And that's obviously not a good thing for us...

Here's the reasoning as I understand it... Feeders within 3' of the house don't give birds the time to build up the speed to break their necks should they hit a window... And feeders placed 30' or more from the house give the little buggers enough time to recognize the window and swerve away...

I don't know ... I really don't. It seems like the judicious use of sun-catchers and curtains will take care of much of the problem. (We've had one window-hit death in 13 years.) But, this is something you should be aware of...

By the thoughtful feeders,

CapeCodAlan

P.S. If you haven't checked out the Cornell site lately, you might want to -- there is exceptional work on there...


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November 30, 2014

The Mystery of the Warbler

pine warbler 2 420.JPG

pine warbler 420.png

Hi,

Warbler ID can be difficult, especially in the Fall... Look at the wee beastie above... So what is he (she?) Beats me... Here's a list of the warblers I'd initially consider based on the wing stripes (and Sibley):

  1. Chestnut-sided
  2. Blackburnian
  3. Yellow-rumped
  4. Cerulean
  5. Pine
  6. Hermit
  7. Golden-cheeked
  8. Hermit
  9. Black-throated Green
  10. Townsend's
  11. Bay-breasted
  12. Blackpoll
  13. Yellow-throated
  14. Grace's
  15. Blue-winged/Golden-winged
  16. Northern Parula
  17. Tropical Parula

OK... Time for the process of elimination... The following birds aren't even native to the MA area: 7, 10, 14, and 17...

So, four critters are down and there are 13 to go. Thank heavens for Sibley -- he actually IDs fall warblers. Of those, only the Pine, the Bay-breasted, the Blackpoll, and the Yellow-throated seem to be possibilities... down to four...

Time for Crossley...

  1. Pine: Yup, that might just be the fellow. (Besides, my friend TT, a bird maven, opines such...)
  2. Bay-breasted: Naw... the Bay-breasted is too red...
  3. Blackpoll: Not orange enough...
  4. Yellow-throated: The throat doesn't ascend enough...

So... It looks like TT was right -- it's probably a Pine Warbler... (Of course there are always the aberrant, but I'm not going to worry about that...)

Ah the joys of bird detective work and bird book libraries...

By those inquisitive feeders...

CapeCodAlan


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November 28, 2014

Garage Step Disassembled and Re-assembled

First... Happy Thanksgiving everyone... Hope all went well...

Well, thankfully there isn't much new on the bird front -- if we keep the feeders/baths clean and full, all are happy. This backyard birding stuff is rather benign... The only rapscallions are the crows who seem insatiable when it comes to all forms of food. (As a side note which I will speak to on a later date, I've had so much up-close contact with the Corvids that I honestly am beginning to think I can handle the rudimentary elements of the Crow Language. Oh crud...) On to happier thoughts...

Here is the garage step torn apart in prep for an HDMI cable...

garage step apart 420.png

And here it is put back together again...

garage step back together 420.jpg

Not too much to say about the process except that must-have tools include a cat's paw and a hand sledge. (I'd include a shot of my resulting blood blister from a misdirected sledge blow, but that would gross you out.) A few thoughts for those fools... (ah... 'Adventurous') who might want to take on a project like this...

  • First... Think safety!!! Note the roll of paper towels in the doorway -- it's there to remind folks that a step is missing...
  • Next, use the right tools -- nothing replaces a heavy hammer (or beyond) when doing demolition....
  • Think through what you want the finished project to look like... In my case, I'm shooting for a mix of Artisan, Shaker, and Woodshed Barroom... I want a space in which a buzzed John Wayne would feel comfortable...
  • Give the cable/house room to move -- wood does like to expand and contract, and a half inch of extra cable isn't going to make the world explode...

I don't know... There are some ideas...

Still plugging by the feeders...

CapeCodAlan


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November 18, 2014

The Generator Revisited

Generator 420.png

Hi,

Do you remember my January 26, 2014 post, 'Things to Think About When Buying and Using a Small Generator'?

Well, it's power-outage stories like this that prompted me to again drag out the old generator beast, and make sure it would fire up. And fire up it did. (Note: it was not in the shed at the time.)

So now might be a good time to revisit that Jan 26 entry and see if there's anything (IMHO) that might be improved... (The list elements that are in italics are from the January post...)

  • First find out what you need for power.
  • Be aware that you will need a "real" extension cord and not a $3.99 supermarket special. (Note the wire gauges. See this quaint chart.)
  • Other extension cord stuff like length, plugs, etc... (See above.)
  • How do I buy a generator? (I usually start with Amazon.com and find the product with a huge number of good customer reviews.)
  • What else will you need? Wheels? Etc... (Yup... These suckers are heavy!)
  • Follow directions when adding gas and oil, and starting... (BE SURE TO USE GAS STABILIZER to all gas!!!!)
  • Don't let the machine sit idle for months... (Practice with it. Run it at least once a month.)
  • Depending on your neighborhood, you may need to chain it to a tree or a bumper.... (Deep sigh...)
  • Try to mount on level earth. (No brainer...)
  • When not running, store in a shed or use a cover. (Yes! This is a must... I think a shed is the only way to go. That's a great way to keep the machine/fuel away from your house.)
  • Keep gas out of the house and garage or basement, etc. Use your head. (See above.)
  • Don't wait for the last moment!!! (Given the date, there are fantastic deals ongoing.)
  • Finally, use the Web -- there's a ton of good info out there.
  • In general, we expected to spend about $700, so it is an investment, but peace of mind is a neat thing.. See HF for a typical price change
  • And last, but certainly not least... Follow the safety instructions that come with the generator and are also on the Web!!!!!!!
By those well lit feeders...

CapeCodAlan


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November 12, 2014

Pencil Sketch Birds, etc...

Hi,

First off... Sorry this took so long to post -- this hasn't been easy -- I'm not just working on a camera/PC challenge, but also a Windows XP/Windows 8.1RT hurdle. This post has been a rip-snorting pain in the backside.

There.... That out of the way... As I've become more familiar with the MS Surface and the countless apps that run on it, I've started to explore the graphical stuff... And with that...

Every so often, it's fun to mess with bird pics (and others...) Here we go...

Here's an original heron shot from our library...

420 original heron 494433112_e54a6a177e_o.jpg

Now... Here's what we have when subjecting the photo to an app called "Pencil Sketch"...

420 Number two.jpg

And...

number five 420.jpg

It's also cool to play with light and shadow... Here's an original...

420 final final final original shadow IMG_8912(1).JPG

And here's what Pencil Sketch can do with it... Note the remarkable detail that the app could pick out of the photograph...

FINAL FINAL Pencil 420 Sketch Shadows.jpg

And so it goes... I'd guess there are other programs out there (like Photo Shop) that can do similar stuff, but it all is pretty amazing stuff..

Typically, good things take scads of time, and this post was no exception... But, I did learn, and that has been well worth the effort (I hope...) Now all I have to do is look into canvas prints...

By those artistic feeders,

CapeCodAlan


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November 5, 2014

TV Flow Chart

Hi,

Not much new on the bird front... The crows still pester for 'Haw'Dawgs', we still keep our feeders and bird baths clean, and we carefully mount our feeders for best visitation. (Note the different mounts for apartment dwellers.)

All that being said, I'd like to turn to the 'home and garden' theme and go back to introducing a large screen TV into the network as was discussed previously. Take a look at the 'flowchart' I created to allow the TV to act as both a TV and a 50" computer monitor.

(Click on the image in order to enlarge.)

800 full TV System.jpg

Obviously, the chart doesn't include the finer points like remotes, speakers, Roku, etc. but hopefully it will help clarify some things for you. Let's take a quick walk through and see if we can make some sense of it all... Using that diagram, I'll break down the configuration into two parts -- the TV half and the computer/Internet half, and then try to explain how the two halves intertwine.

The TV portion (start in the top left portion of the pic...)

  1. The TV begins with a signal blasted through the ether and hits our dish on the roof...
  2. That signal in turn is fed into two cable boxes and, poof! two TVs can show whatever junk we want to watch!

And now the computer/Internet chunk... Start looking at the lower left...

  1. The Internet enters the house via a cable off the street...
  2. A cable modem in turn gobbles up the Web and feeds it to our router...
  3. The router then routes the Internet via wire out to our three fixed computers...
  4. The router also utilizes wireless to send the signal to a repeater which feeds the Net to our two laptops...
  5. Perhaps the coolest part of all this is that one of our laptops can redirect a copy of its screen (real time... both computer and Internet) to the TV... All we have to do is use the TV remote to tell the TV what its source is -- computer/Internet or cable TV... Voila!

Of course, all this Tom Foolery does occasionally require the rare reset, but at this stage, that's to be expected.

Hope this helps,

By the feeders...

CapeCodAlan


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