I suppose that this is really a blog, though I hesitate to call it that. The real bloggers seem so much
more interesting. I cover stuff which I find interesting, and I hope that you will too.|
If you really want, you can get an RSS feed of Chateau Gladstone news here:
For more information about what I'm interested in, see the Ponding pages.
Bluebird boxes actually work!
22 Apr 2005
I was given a couple of bluebird boxes for Christmas, and I finally got around to mounting them in the yard. Of course, they are supposed to be spaced 100 yards apart (and 100 yards from my other two bluebird boxes). This design rule went out of the window!
The collected Internet wisdom was that the entrance hole should be deep to keep out predators -- so I screwed a piece of 2x4 to the front (with the approved 1.5 inch hole). Why don't they come that way?
For the last three days, I have evicted a sparrow from one box (by removing the start of their nest). This morning, the other nest box had a pair of bluebirds popping in and out. Not (yet) building a nest, but scouting out good locations.
I had intended to mount a camera in one of the boxes so that we could watch what was going on -- I'll have to move that project up the priority list.
GEOURL is back online
4 Mar 2005
GEOURL is a neat website that has come back online after a long period of downtime. It allows you to find websites by geographical proximity. For example, these are the websites near me.
I notice that DeviantArt has local users.
I must confess that I really don't understand it, even though my niece has a gallery.
Frogs on the Ice
3 Jan 2005
It has been unseasonably warm here over the last few days (reached 60F) -- the pond is still covered with ice, but there is some open water round the edge. Two frogs (that we saw) climbed out onto the ice to survey the scene. Unfortunately, sitting on ice is not good for a cold blooded animal, and they stop moving pretty quickly.
We rescued the two frogs and put them back into the water where they seemed a lot happier. When we picked up the frogs, they felt very cold to the touch. I guess that they were not far above freezing.
CWOP makes it into the New York Times
30 Dec 2004
CWOP is the Citizen Weather Observer Program. This is a loose network of amateur
weather station operators who feed their data into NOAA's Forecast Systems Laboratory. From their it moves all over the map.
The New York Times had a nice article entitled Hobbyists Fill Out the Weather Map which told some of the personal stories behind the technology.
This is relevant to me as I run the Weather Data Quality service. This takes data from the FSL and
reformats it and then e-mails it to weather station operators as requested. The data shows how their station readings
compare with the surrounding stations. This often allows the
operator to spot problems with their sensors.
Voice over IP experiences
16 Aug 2004
We decided to go with VoicePulse for a VoIP provider. The outcome has been mixed. When the quality is good, it is essentially indistinguishable from a regular landline. However, it is more common to get dropouts -- bringing the quality down to a not very good cellphone call.
I use WonderShaper to provide traffic shaping on my broadband connection (Comcast). This fixed the interaction between surfing and voice calls. However, we still get significant dropouts. The cause appears to be packet loss somewhere in NYC -- this is based on running traceroute at the troublesome moments.
On the upside, the service is cheap -- but it sounds that way too.
31 Jul 2004
We have finally moved to our new home. We have a new, larger, pond with an assortment of wildlife. We moved the majority of our fish from the old pond to the new pond, and we have hardly seen them since. The bad news is that we saw (twice) a snapping turtle in the new pond -- whose diet is fresh fish. Photographs will follow soon once the house is somewhat more in order!
The weather stuff is all shut down for now until I get the mast installed again. I'm hopeful that the pondcam can be made to go again, but it seems unlikely that it will ever see any fish. I reckon that that new pond is around 1,000,000 gallons, so the chance of seeing anything is small!
If anybody wants to buy the old house (with working fishpond and some fish), then please call our realtor.
The Hummingbirds are back
11 Jun 2004
The hummingbirds came back. We have (at least) one pair -- they were displaying the other night.
This picture is not that good, but the light was fading when I took it. I think that in more light, I'd get a shorter exposure and more depth of field.
The pondcam will be moving soon
6 Jun 2004
We are selling our house -- the open house is today. We will be moving to another house which has a much larger pond. The pondcam will be back once we complete the move.
The new pond will be so much larger that I am worried that the pondcam will never see any fish at all. It may take a couple of seasons for them to breed up enough! We will be taking our existing goldfish and shubunkins (those that we can catch), and the new owners will probably end up with all the 2004 babies!
Pond is working again!
18 Apr 2004
We finally got eh pump going again today -- the waterfall now falls. We cleared out the muck at the bottom, and pulled out a number of dead frogs and fish. The problem was that (I think) the top pond almost froze to the bottom. Only three fish (of about 20) survived.
The pipework also suffered from the cold -- one of the sections (made of Schedule 40 PVC) had fractured and needed to be replaced. It was (of course) in a very awkward spot.
We planted up a bunch of Canna Lilies that had overwintered inside. I also have 100 (or so) Yellow Flag Iris that overwintered in the pond. The idea (in the fall) was to try and sell them on Ebay, but in the spring, it seems much less like a good idea!
The ice is really melting now and things are floating to the surface
6 Mar 2004
We have now had almost a week of reasonable weather, and the pond ice is melting quickly. However, this also means that 'things' are floating up to the surface.
This afternoon (Saturday), I found one of our two Golden Orfes floating on the surface. We have had them for about five years, and this one was around 10 inches long.
We will miss him (or her!).
Neat description of the Gunnera Manicata -- a truly monstrous plant!
Information about SPF (Sender Permitted From)
The Citizen Weather Observer Program is a loose collection of amateur weather station operators.
Open source server for the Rio Receiver -- this is what I use.
The Doc Searls weblog -- he seems clueful and I read him.
Open source audio/video streaming software -- this drives my pondcam