27 April 2013

Hartlepool Penguins On the Tube

I guess this is a end of the season tradition of Hartlepool fans in England (I want to join in!).  Last year it was Smurfs and this year it is Poolie Penguins.  What a great way to enjoy the day!  And how funny to see them on waiting to get on the Tube!
(And it might be the only fun they have...Hartlepool is sitting in the relegation zone of League 1 and playing Crawley Town (is that where Matthew is from???) who is sitting in 10th.)

22 April 2013

Rainbarrel #2 (#0280)

Rainbarrel #2 (#0280) by regan76
Rainbarrel #2 (#0280), a photo by regan76 on Flickr.

Got a second barrel for $15 off Craigs List, picked up the hole bits (7/8" for the spigot, 1 1/4" for the the overflow hose) and a couple pieces of PVC plumbing.
No just need to paint them!

What Do the Bird-Watchers Know?

"A list of birds seen on a given day is also a form of prayer, a thanksgiving for being alive at a certain time and place. Posting that list online is a 21st-century form of a votive offering."

My favorite line in this interesting NY Times article about birders and the climate-driven changes they can help us document. [Thanks to CMRG for the tip]

20 April 2013

Mapmaker, Mapmaker, make me a map.

homebase sent this article on to me and I had so much respect for the guy in the article that I had to post it.  Don Imus is a 35 year veteran of the cartography industry who spent two years working on producing his own map of the United States.  Oh, and not just any map...the "Best Map of 2010." Check out the Slate article for a deeper look into why it is so fantastic and higher-quality than the map offerings from market dominators.  Free shipping and no minimum order, so if you are into that sort of thing, check it out!

15 April 2013

Flashback Football Fans

Reading about blatant and widespread racism in European soccer always makes me shake my head.  And on top of that, this past weekend there was multiple instances across England of hooliganism.  Sad to see and I have to point out that the national sports minister's comment that "you never finally beat football hooliganism" is not taking the right tone.  Yes it will require firm responses and there will be fans that push back or act out, but the goal has got to be completely eradicating the problem/problem-creators, not just continually working on reducing the incidents.

Rain Barrel Project

I've had this rain barrel workshop on my calendar for a couple of months now and I was excited to go on
Saturday!  My co-worker has a three barrel setup at his house and we've discussed them quite a bit as I pulled as much knowledge from him as I could.  homebase made a visit to the big city on Saturday and so I had a friend to take to the workshop, put on by Polk County Conservation out at Jester Park.  There were dads & sons there together, a mom and little boy, a lady and her mom, everyone out to see how they could harness the rainwater, help with storm runoff and maybe save a little off their water bill.
We had a great instructor, fun, knowledgeable, and laid-back.  And I wish every project I did was like this, all the tools you needed, laid out for you, with the right drill bits, all the necessary pieces, and clear instructions.  It made it very easy.  Punch out three holes, put in your plumbing hardware and that's about it! 
We did have to make a trip to Home Depot later for some cinder block to set it up on but we were able to reuse a piece of flexible downspout that the previous owner had left behind.  And the install was super easy once I got the dirt leveled and the base laid down.  I put it up that high for a couple reasons.  One, the flexible downspout only came down that far.  Two, I'm planning on adding another barrel and barrel 1 needs to be higher than barrel 2 and barrel 2 still need to be a little bit off the ground so you can hook up to the spigot. 
I realize that the finished product may look like we are cooking up meth
in our backyard so we will have to see about painting the barrel or something even though it is behind the house.  Or putting up a little blinder enclosure with those old barn boards.  But I'm excited to use it.  And I also put up a rain gauge (which I forgot to check last night).  Even though we only got a very short sprinkling (~.15"), the barrel is nearly half full already!  The math behind it is pretty crazy.  It is pulling from ~450 sq ft of roof so if we get a quarter-inch of rain, it should pull ~70 gallons...which is why I need the second barrel!
Anyways, it was a fun project and it's a relief to see the start and finish of a project in the same day.  Now, on to planting the garden!

What a Morning

the sharp staccato drilling of a woodpecker on a hollow tree, the loud conversation of a pair of Canada geese calmly floating down the creek, four dark creepy vultures roosted in a pair of trees, a joy of sighting or hearing a fire-red cardinal every mile or so, a squirrel with a perfect, proper S-curved tail on the end of a fallen tree limb poised with a black walnut between his paws watching me go by, a robin tugging a worm out of the sodden soil, the organic, pungent smell of a horse lot, watching six young equestrian riders getting lessons, the sight of 100+ cormorants in the trees at Water Works Park along with a couple dozen cattle egrets and great white egrets, seagulls in the air swooping and turning, Mr. & Mrs. Mallard duck staying close to the shore line as they paddled along in between the grass, three seperate flotillas of coots at Gray's Lake with their formal black bodies and white bills, seeing my first swallows of year as they made their aerobatic turns and dives nipping up insects under the bridge, tipping my hat to the stoic and serious Bald Eagle manning his assigned post by the nest.
All that takes a do-able 10.5 mile run and turns it into a wonderful morning adventure!
A great reminder that nature is wonderful and we need to just get outside and interact with it.

05 April 2013

Final Four Update

Edit.  Standings have been updated after the championship game.  Congrats to Louisville!

In case any readers are interested in standings as they get ready to watch the Final Four games this weekend, here's the run-down...
1.stoppable
2. homebase
3. middleson
4. pancake
5. minovia

Stoppable & homebase both have Louisville winning the semifinal game and the final so they have more possible points left to win.  homebase will easily leapfrog me if that occurs. Since my only remaining points are if Louisville wins the semi (same as the stoppable), there is no way for me to take the lead.  So, we can crown our champion early again this year...stoppable rules the pool for the fourth straight year!!! I think we can call it a dynasty now, or maybe a re-name to "unstoppable."

In the battle to stay out of the cellar, minovia has a slight lead over pancake, but pancake still has points to win while minovia is tapped out.  If Louisville wins their semi, daughter win pass mother and put her in last place.  minovia had a very rough first round, losing three of her Final Four teams in the first set of games.  Ouch.
Next year I say we make sure to get more of the younger generation in and maybe expand it to other Regan's interested in joining.

Past years: 2012 (stoppable), 2011 (stoppable), 2010 (stoppable), 2009 (homebase), 2008 (caboose), 2007 (middleson), 2006 (homebase), 2005 (middleson)

03 April 2013

A Little Work Around the Grounds

Spent some time outside on Easter, after coming back from home as well as after work the last couple days.  There has been loads of sunny hours which, while still pretty brisk, have felt very nice.
I removed, relocated and reused the boards, posts, and chicken wire from my previous residence.  I was able to make a good-sized 12'x5' space with lumber to spare.  minovia had a friend come over with a tiller and really break it up which I think will make a big difference.  I'm still considering deer deterrant options so let me know if you have any.

I also was busy putting up all my birdfeeders! I am too late to offer food while it is snowy but hopefully as the songbirds come through, they'll find my backyard. I've already seen a red-bellied woodpecker testing out the suet feeder.