Monday, December 14, 2009

I can't believe this actually worked!

I'm using Slackware 13 with XFCE. Love how fast and stable it is! But, I'm not much of a KDE fan. Especially KOffice - yuckko! So, I tried to install OpenOffice. It wouldn't compile due to some missing libraries and with the way Slackware is, getting the dependencies looked hopeless. Then I ran across this link: How do I install on Slackware? It was for OO 2 but I tried it anyway. I unpacked the OO 3 tar.gz, changed into the RPMS dir anbd ran the Slackware "rpm2tgz" tool. Then, unlike the instructions, I went crazy and just ran "pkgtool" on the whole directory. And it worked! So far, so good. No instabilities - but I'll post a reply to this if it blows up. Wish me luck!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

New Linux

I've gotten spoiled by Ubuntu.  I think it's a great desktop OS (if you're into Linux).  I was recently using Fedora 11 as a Desktop at home (off of a bootable USBish device).  It's okay - I prefer it for server apps that are designed for Fedora.  I also loaded CentOS in a zone on  Solaris.  It's okay too.  Still - Ubuntu makes a lot of things too easy to pass up.  I've got Karmic Koala at home.  It's fine.  Can't see any difference between that and the 9.04 (whatever fuzzy animal that was named after - Feisty Fawn?)

Anyway, this guy was beating it up. His reasons seem silly. He's probably just trying to get some hits on his web site.

But I ran across this: Hadn't seen Lubuntu before (but noticed Knoppix's been using that desktop for a while). (I'm on Linux-Mag's mailing list since I *had* to see the answer to a forum there the other day).

So anyway, lot's of fanfare about Karmic this week. This guy mentions ArchLinux as an easier alternative to Gentoo. I wondered if anyone had tried it. Then I remembered we had this mailing
list... but it bounced. Maybe we don't have a mailing list anymore...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Beautiful Weekend Brings Out Bees

It got up over 70 today and was sunny and windy. That brought the girls out in force with not much to do (November being a low nectar time). So I refilled the sugar water - TWICE! And, I'm fairly certain it's empty again. I'll do the same tomorrow. I really should make that winter top cover they demo'd in Bee Culture last month. Could make feeding a lot less trouble (although I got away with feeding without the gear this morning).

Thursday, November 5, 2009

First Astronomy Post Since 2005!

I stopped logging my astronomy sessions a few years back. It was was such a beautiful dark sky when I got home at 7pm I couldn't resist setting up the scope. My criteria for a dark sky was met: I could detect Andromeda with the naked eye! NOt bad for an object 2,500,000 light years away (well, of course, it IS an entire galaxy)! Even better - I nailed it on the first try! Got it in thr view finder and had it centered in the scope!! Next I looked at Pleiades. Meh. No nebular cloudiness so - kinda boring tonight. I was able to split the binary star in Cynus with low power. I've never done that before. Jupiter was not too interesting either. Even with a dark green filter I had to use my imagination to see one equatorial band. I detected and viewed a large open cluster down and to the left of Cygnus. I don't remember that that was. Tried to view the Ring Nebula in Vega with low power to no avail. I think there was a lot of moisture in the sky and the horizons in every direction were washed out with light. It didn't used to be that bad out here. The city folk moving out here are scared of the dark and leave lots of flood lights on. Ever since they paved the road it's gotten worse! :-)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Finally! The Harvest!

We finally got our first harvest of HONEY! It's not much - less than 8 pounds. It's also a bit too high in moisture but I figured we'd give it away and eat it ourselves quick enough that it wouldn't have a chance to granulate. Wow! There's a lot to learn about beekeeping. I'm pretty sure I know what went wrong. I was WAY too late adding the second hive body. They are packed into the two hove bodies pretty well and I have reduced the entrance to keep out mice (and drafts). I'm going to make a modified top entrance with a pivoting top to allow feeding during winter. If all goes well with the wintering, I am hoping for 40-60 pounds next year!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I like weeds

I scattered a lot of wild flower seeds around this summer. Not sure if this is one of them or not. There were a few interesting, unusual wildflowers. I'd say 98% didn't come up. This box of seeds obviously did not adhere to the "growing like a weed" philosophy. I'm definitely going to till first next year before sewing the seeds (I know: "duh!"). We had a bumper crop of black eyed susans but I can't take credit for those.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Enjoy it while you can!

Wow! These guys are really hungry! They even pester me in the yard. It really unnerves the family. The hummingbird has given up. This must be why the feeder only cost $2. Defective design - no doubt.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Close Encounter with Red Tailed Hawk

I saw this red tailed hawk on the side of the road. Not sure why he was just hanging out there.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Bike to work? Is it far?

I am actually considering this! It could be fun to have a bike at work. Handy too! And it's free! It is about an 18 minute walk from the bike lockers to the building I work in. Here's half way - looking back:

But, it is a pretty walk/ride.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Is this okay?

What is the deal with the sugar water lately?! They are sucking down a liter in a single evening. If I put it out after work, it is gone when I get up in the morning. They are also a bit more hostel. I feel the need to gear up to simply change the sugar water. Today, it has been 6 days since I added the new hive body IN BETWEEN the old hive body and honey super. I checked the new hive body. There was a decent amount of bees on it but they weren't doing anything with it. No comb buildup and certainly no eggs or larvae. You might guess they were simply traversing it to cap the honey in the super I moved it (as it was mostly capped).

I didn't get into the main hive body as I was trying not to disturb them too much. OKAY, it did do one thing: I robbed on half of a frame of the capped honey. We just got a taste of it last time and were left wanting! This time, I got plenty! We ate until we were sick of it (which didn't take as long as we thought it would). This was the good peach orchard honey! Anyone know if this is considered MUCH worse than pulling the supers at harvest time? I scrapped one side of a super frame with my hive tool and put it back dripping honey. I also sprinkled powered sugar on the new hive body hoping to attract them into that section more as well as pay them back for the honey (no hard feelings?)

Friday, August 28, 2009

The pic wasn't worth it (Got stung adding sugar water last night)

There were a lot of bees on the feeder when I pulled it. I thought it'd be a good picture so I was trying to hold the bee covered feeder in one hand and take a picture with the other. No gear, of course. Before I could get it framed up, I had made a mistake - I crushed one in the feeder. My fault! That triggered their attack response! That would be sting #4 of the year. Funny - didn't hurt - but it DID open up my lungs! The venom is an anti-inflammatory and causes a steroid to be produced by the body. Still, I prefer the inhaler for asthma.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

This is the wrong way to do this - eh?

The bees were pretty crowded. I added a super and they started working on that but they were still crowded and they looked like they were honey bound. (I had a queen excluder on the super). After sampling the honey in the super and realizing they had pollinated the peach orchard a half mile away, I was determined NOT to give them that honey back! (It was unbelievably yummy!) So I decided to insert another hive body in between the 1st hive and the super. If this were not disruptive enough, I had a couple of frames stick to the honey super. They were ticked! The next morning, I looked very early and there were NO bees in the entrance. I hadn't seen it like that lately. I popped the case and saw them. Again - they were irritated and started emerging. It had dropped to 58 degrees and I guess they were cold AND they now had lots of room. That was Sunday. They're still there so I guess I made it. I was afraid they were going to swarm on me (like last year). they are sucking down the sugar water. I ran out yesterday and forgot to add more. They went exploring and found my wife's hummingbird feeder. They're all over it! Ha! I told her they'll keep her busy now. They drink a liter a day!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I need a bee blog

Since the Russian hybrid hive didn't make it, and the Italian hive was doing so well, I decided to add another hive body. Linda (of Linda's Bees) told me to burn out the hive to ensure there was no American or European Foulbrood. I was pretty sure there wasn't - the cells were clean (the hive went queenless and dronified) but thought I'd better do it anyway. I scorched it good, inside and out. I then applied lin seed oil but decided to paint it since it turned out so dark I was afraid it would absorb too much heat.

My mother's mother's mother's mother

Since I was dropping my racing pigeons from the land of my ancestors, I thought I'd stop by "Granny's" grave. It is kind of sad. She died before I was born but I remember by grandmother speaking of her and I remember her daughter, my great grandmother: "Ma". Ma had always wanted a nice headstone so my great uncle bought this 30-40 years ago. He was the last of her grandchildren and died at least 10 years ago. I don't think anyone else knows of this anymore. She is my great-great grandmother.

It is a beautiful land. Sad to think they had to leave this to go to east Chicago after WW II to work in the steel mills.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

See what I mean?

This feeder works well - but it is fairly intrusive compared to the other style.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Weekend of scout camping

The dining area from our weekend campout at Harmonie State park. Pretty nice weekend. The 20 minutes of rain Saturday evening made things interesting. That's a nice park. We had never been to that section. It is usually gated off (since it is not open to the public - only groups).

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Too full?

I think the thing to do is add another brood chamber to make the colony bigger and stronger (and hopefully diminish the possibility of swarming). However, that might also diminish the likelihood of a honey crop. I've always been under the impression you shouldn't rob honey from the first year hive. Of course, then you're at risk for losing them over winter. Should I add the hive body from this year's failed Russian hybrid colony? Would the scent be wrong? Would it be disruptive?

More hive pics

All of the brood frames are covered in capped cells. There were lots of larva and lots of honey. I didn't see the queen but I didn't pull too many frames. The bees are really packed in there!

Hive inspection

A more careful inspection this time. Not sure what to do. The main brood chamber is pretty full but at least half of it appears to be honey stores. I'm inclined to add another brood chamber. Is it too late in the year. My lack of experience is a major stumbling block. What to do?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Inspected Hive - Lookin' Good!

I have been trying NOT to bother them. I thought that was what caused them to swarm last year. Now I believe it was the feeder. This year I had TWO hives. The old hive had the old feeder and it failed. The new hive had a new feeder and it kept me running out there daily with a liter of sugar water and it thrived.

Anyway, it looked great (to me)! Bees completely filled the super frames and the center frames were full of honey. I will get a honey crop this year!

P.S. This doesn't fit well with the other stuff on this blog. It is perhaps too eclectic. I need a bee blog.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Fun with ZFS and other Sun tools

I decided recently I'd better start using OpenSolaris to get more familiar with the new advances they are driving into regular Solaris. I really like the new ZFS file system and I had an old 6 pack SCSI JBOD ... so, I attached it to my system and created my home directory as a RAIDz. The disks were only 16GB a piece so I only ended up with about 70GB - still pretty healthy. Even cooler - I can create snapshots at will. Fun!

I thought I had set up a hot stand by - guess not (see image). Knowing the disks were pretty old, I figured I could experience some failure and practice recovery. Today is the lucky day! I heard the array make a wheezing screech and then a CLUNK! nothing else. I went about adding Windows XP to Sun's Virtualbox without a hitch. When my shiny new Windows XP was all installed and patched, I started looking around. That when I noticed this (again, see image). Weird? "resilvered"? Never heard that term before. Fortunately, Jeff Bonwick's blog had the answers. Well, he had the definition of "resilvered" anyway. It worries me that it wasn't notified other than an entry in /var/adm/messages. Luckily, I routinely look at zpool status and the logs (but an email would be nice). I guess it is not yet completely broken. The link they provided indicated if it were really bad, zfs would fail the drive. It looks like it only remapped 6.5k. So there's nothing to do (except blog?). So, I ran "zpool clear junk c2t13d0" and it cleared the error. That was it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hooray! TV is digital now! ??

I've been considering dropping Dish (our cable provider).  We never watch TV anymore. Lately, I don't even watch CNN/Headline News in the mornings - I watch local for the weather and local events.  The kids don't watch TV unless they have a DVD from Netflix or the library.

But then I checked the reception since the BIG SWITCH TO DIGITAL TV and, yeah, I don't get CW or PBS or KET. It gets black squares and the sound goes out. SO STUPID! I could watch TV with a little snow and slight hiss. This is digital = ON|OFF. It's mostly OFF on a lot of channels I used to get with the old, outdated technology. And, of course, I can just pitch my 2" portable TV I'd use during storms or camping.

So, we just may keep Dish for a while, if for no other reason than to reward them for rescuing us from the stupidity of digital TV.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

We had to check on the bees since a raccoon had been messing with the hive and shoved the entrance excluder way back in there where it could do no good (there is a certain type of hornet that can destroy a hive if they find an easy way in). I noticed it Tuesday but couldn't do much about it. (You are supposed to work the hives in midday). At first I thought the bees must've gotten into some mud - then I figured it out. The raccoon didn't do much else - they must've defended themselves! They do that well! I've gotten stung twice adding sugar water to the feeder! They weren't kidding when they said the Russian hybrids were more aggressive! The other hive is Italian and doing great! The Russian hybrid is doing about like last year's Italian hive - not too impressive. I didn't see much brood. If I could've found the queen, I think I would've removed her and spliced the two together. Looks like I could probably add a honey super to the Italian hive.

Here we are flipping the cover lid. You have to put it in upside down when you install the packages. We never did flip it over. We pulled out some nice honey comb off the top. It was the best honey any of us has ever tasted! Really! I wonder what percentage sugar water it was? They sure eat a lot. They are out of sugar water again after I topped it off this morning. I wonder if the heat had anything to do with it. I'm definitely taking the smoker when I feed them! Part of it may be the type of feeder in the new hive. It is fairly disruptive to add water to. And no more shorts & tank top!! Ha! I got away with that all year last year! I only donned the gear if I popped the top. Lots to learn and it seems most is by experience. This year, I am "leaving them alone". That is only the 3rd time I've open the hive since April 11th. (The date on the camera is wrong. This pic was from today.)
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Friday, April 24, 2009

Fishing Derby this weekend

Ruth and I are staying home to watch the racing homers come in from a 165 mile race. Ruth enjoys sitting out in the yard waiting for them to pop over the horizen too. We work together training the birds. She always calls me when they come in from a training drop - or don't come in on time.

I hate to miss this with Kyle but I think it will be nice for him and his grandfather to have some time together. Besides, I'll be there later. The birds should be back by noon ( just in time for the fishing derby to be over). In the meantime, this will be a neat memory for Kyle and his grandfather.
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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Great Lecture by Dr. Kenneth Miller

I attended his lecture, entitled “Darwin, God, and Design: America’s Continuing Problem with Evolution". His basic premise was that science and religion need not be at odds - a feeling I share. He expressed himself very well and was entertaining to boot! He has even been on the Colbert Report - twice! I had ordered two of his books and had hoped to have him sign them but they didn't come in. His books sound as if they are nearly identical to my masters thesis idea which I thought was pretty unique up until recently. Of course, I'm sure he's covered the ground much better than I ever will but my thesis is not just focused on cosmology and religion and really has more to do with my personal spiritual journey.

I was impressed with his gracious handling of a presumed fundamentalist who asked basically [paraphrased] "who he thought he was trying to use his finite mind to understand the infinite." He answered he was just a fallible human being trying to answer the same questions everyone was trying to answer while being well aware of his limitations.

I couldn't possibly do his lecture justice in a blog entry so please click the links.

Friday, February 6, 2009

I came across this Google ad in my mail:

So, I gave them my junk mail email address and they started sending me lessons. I started with the flash cards - easy! "I know these!" Then they started presenting them backwards, giving me English and asking for Russian in multiple choice (I think). Neat. "I can do this." Then
came the hard part: Type your answer in Russian. I thought I had it right but left off the soft sign - WRONG! Man! Some of these Russian words are hard to spell! (They give you a little Russian keyboard on the screen). By the time you learn to spell these - you ought to have them down cold!

So I bought it. I haven't used Rosetta Stone but this was a fraction of the cost so I'm going to say it's a pretty good value. You can really manipulate the lessons and they way they are presented. Incidentally, I also recently purchased
Berlitz Ear Worms (I know - ewww!) and moved to my MP3 player. Byki had podcasts too. Tons of them! I was shocked at how many podcasts there were!! They already had a lot more content than most beginner language series. It's an amazing value - and very portable. I wish this was one of those sites I could profit off of sharing ideas like that! :-)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Current Reading List

Yes, even though I'm taking a break on the classes - I am still working on the thesis for my Master of Arts in Liberal Studies. Actually, I was already working on it before I started taking classes.

I got many of my friends and family a copy of The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2008 for Christmas. I thought it would be neat to have something interesting to discuss and share via email. It went over like a lead balloon. :-)

Monday, January 19, 2009

See, that's what I'm talking about

Translating Airat's blog today, I picked up a very useful term (for a computer guy): столы. From his post "Качественные рабочие столы на". I get "Quality working [table?] on". Table? I've known стол as table for more than 20 years. I look it up anyway. Yeah - table. So I decide to put it in Google Translate and it translates it as "desktop". Ah! Makes sense! So I guess this is something like "Good stuff for your desktop at"? Anyway, knowing the word for the computer desktop is useful.

Hazzards of foreign language study

I was searching for the program schedule for Dish networks new (cheapest) Russian ala cart programming: ТВ-1000 Русское кино (TV1000 RUSSIAN KINO). Searching in English did not bear fruit so I switched my keyboard layout to Russian and searched. I found what I was looking for! A nice program schedule which also had movie descriptions (in Russian). I then got busy with other things and forgot about my PC.

When I came back to my desk, I was unable to unlock my keyboard. Again and again I tried, carefully typing my password and making note of the caps lock key indicator. Caps lock is off and I am typing it correctly: "I've been hacked!!" That always pops into my mind when this sort of thing happens. "No, no." I tell myself. "Don't jump to conclusions. That has never turned out to be the case in any of these situations." Then I notice: the keyboard layout is set to Russian! I'll NEVER be able to enter my password with a Russian keyboard layout. Что делать?!

I Googled for a possible hot key to toggle the keyboard layout (you can do this at the desktop - but in the screen lock position?) No luck. Then it occurred to be to use on of the pseudo tty terminals (I use Ubuntu Linux). Yup! Got in and killed off the screen saver and then toggled off the Russian keyboard layout. Whew!

Friday, January 16, 2009

xtranormal beta = free movie maker

This is pretty neat! An animated movie maker. It's free (for now) while it is in beta.

Ha! Even Better!

Well, as you can see from the length of time since my last post - posting in Russian is not catching on all that well with me. I need the keyboard overlays. I drew Russian letters on my keyboard with a Sharpie but they have mostly worn off now. Besides, my Russian vocabulary wouldn't allow me to express anything of much interest anyway. I know mostly the very basics: пятьсот слов.

Still, I want to come back to that sometime. In the meantime, what could be more apropos than this: A Russian blogging about using Java and Open Source on Sun in the Universities!! I like it! Small blurbs daily. Easy to translate and I'll be picking up vocabulary I can really use.