Miscellaneous Update

I’ve been neglecting this blog for a few months, for several reasons. I’ve been busy. I haven’t had anything interesting to write. So I guess that means I’ve been busy with boring stuff. I’ve also been lured into Facebook as an alternative for online babbling. More on that later. I’ll try to summarize events of the last few months that might be interesting.

There’s not much new to report on the horse scene since my last report. The three equine are alive and well. Crossbo continues to be awesome. This is the time of year when most of our saddle time is leisurely strolls around the farm, with an occasional road trip. I’m trying to keep up the tradition I mentioned last time of taking one picture each ride that tries to capture some of the ambience, without being a repetition of all the previous ones. I think the Facebook album is going to be the permanent repository for those pictures, instead of trying to move them to this site. It’s just so easy. Unfortunately, ATT’s lack of 3G coverage in Tatertown makes uploading from the boonies a little painful, so I usually don’t upload the pictures until I get within WiFi range of the house. It sort of cheats the “Mobile Upload” concept a little, but I can’t sit out there all day watching that little spinning gizmo on the phone.

Around Easter, I mentioned finding a robin’s nest, containing two eggs, on the axle of my tractor. I was dubious about its chances of survival. In spite of the tractor being used several times, Mama Robin continued to sit on the nest when it wasn’t roaming around the farm. One of the eggs eventually hatched, and the hatchling subsequently disappeared. I hope he left the nest successfully.

Later, around the first of May, I found another robin’s nest, with one egg, on the rear axle of my truck. Axles are apparently the hot trend in robin real estate this year. That nest, and egg, had stayed in place despite a couple of road trips, including some 75 MPH highway cruising, and some bouncing around the farm. But I think the mother must have been intimidated, because I don’t think she returned to the nest, and it never hatched. Facebook has photos of the nests.

And, in early June, I found yet another avian mobile home, although this one belonged to swallows instead of robins. I took Crossbo on a trail ride with the hunt. After loading him in the trailer for the return trip home, I noticed a small bird fluttering around in the bed of my truck, looking somewhat confused. He eventually flew out of the truck into the surrounding countryside, whence I assumed he came. That assumption was probably incorrect.

After returning home, as I was unloading Crossbo and my tack, I heard some birds chattering that sounded much closer than any of the nearby trees. I looked around and found a nest with two young birds atop the hitch post, right under the trailer nose. Due to the lack of light in that spot, I didn’t think I could get a good picture with the iPhone, so I returned with a camera with a flash. As I was trying to get into position to take a picture, the birds were overcome with camera-shyness and fled the nest. I suppose they were tired of travelling, and I doubt they’ll ever reunite with their displaced sibling.

The other major news from mid-March was Barry, the new canine in residence at Tatertown. To briefly repeat for those who missed, or forgot, the original story, Barry was found abandoned in a north Lexington neighborhood during the January ice storm. The kind Samaritans who found him were unable to keep him permanently, but reluctant to abandon him to the pound, so they fostered him while spreading the word through various grapevines that they needed a home.

As with most found dogs, his breeding is uncertain. He’s obviously partly black Lab, crossed with something smaller that results in an adult size of about 45 pounds. Whatever his parentage is, it’s a high-energy breed. Barry is unstoppable. I’ve never seen a dog run the way he does. He even managed to knock me down a couple of weeks ago. My mother thought it was too bad that there’s no way to harness his energy. My initial response was that physicists would tell me I can’t get more energy out of him than is contained in the food I supply. But I’m beginning to wonder about that. I’ve had dogs that consumed far more food while producing far less motion. I think Barry’s black coat must enable him to absorb solar energy.

Barry’s size is somewhat of a change from what I’m used to. My previous two dogs, Chowder and Norm, were about 85 and 100 pounds, compared to Barry’s 45. The dogs that preceded them, a pair of golden retrievers and a shepherd mix, were also fairly large. After 20 years of large dogs, it’s a little strange to adapt to owning a small model. But we’re getting used to each other.

When Barry first arrived, I set up an electric fence to keep him in the back yard when I wasn’t home. During the first week, there were some problems with him escaping and chasing my vehicle when I left. I eventually made the fence Barry-proof, and he settled into the routine of staying where he belonged while I was gone.

I didn’t want the fence to be permanent, as it was not convenient for me and it gave Barry less space than I would ideally like him to have (although still more than many urban dogs). A couple of weeks ago, I decided it was time to see if he has really learned his boundaries. I took the fence down. Now, with no physical constraints, he doesn’t chase me down the road when I leave, and he’s in the yard when I return. So I think he’s learned his boundaries.

Aside from those updates on old news, there’s little else to report here. In mid-May, I had the wonderful experience of spending 5 days in the scenic Newark area for work, testing our disaster recovery plans. There’s not much to say about that, except that we did a pretty good job of demonstrating our ability to recover not only from whatever hypothetical disasters might drive us out of our data center, but also any additional obstacles thrown into our path by an extremely incompetent DR vendor.

As I mentioned above, I’ve been recently been paying more attention to my Facebook page than this site. In the past, I’ve been somewhat scornful of such sites that allowed the unwashed masses to have an Internet presence. If you weren’t geeky enough to build your own site, you didn’t deserve to be seen. Also, keeping everything on my own site gave me more control. And I never quite trusted companies that provided all that service for free. They’re in business to make money, and I’ve never been quite comfortable wondering what kind of access to my information they’re selling to their advertisers.

But I’ve caved in to Facebook’s exploding popularity. As more of my friends get sucked into it, it’s an easy way for me to keep up with them. And it’s easier for them to have a one-stop site to find my news along with their other friends, instead of making a separate visit here. In the past, I realized that isolation was a slight disadvantage to maintaining my own blog, rather than having it on a community site like Blogspot or LiveJournal which allowed their users to interact. But since I had very few friends with blogs on those sites, I really wasn’t missing much by being a hermit. But Facebook’s popularity provides more opportunity for contact. For example, I now have 106 Facebook “friends”. That’s far more than the number of people reading this site on any regular basis. There are currently 72 registered users here, but I probably know less than 20 of them, and many of them have never returned to the site after their initial registration. There are others who visit occasionally without registering, but still, this site isn’t reaching many people. In comparison, 75 of my 106 Facebook friends are people I’ve actually met in person, and most of the others are people I’ve had enough online interaction with to feel like I know them. There are a few random oddballs that I’d never heard of until they wanted to be my friend, probably because we’re in some of the same political groups.

So despite still having some misgivings about it, Facebook does provide more opportunity to interact with people I
find interesting (and hopefully that find me interesting) than this site does. It’s also much easier to throw up a quick couple of lines or pictures on Facebook than it is to write something here. Facebook’s format is inviting to quick short notes, while the blog format looks silly with less than a couple of paragraphs. If I wrote a post with a single paragraph, I felt like I was cheating the folks who subscribe to email notifications or RSS feeds, when they get the first paragraph with a link for “more”, and there is no more. And, since I rarely feel like I have a topic of enough interest for a verbose post, I’m more likely to throw a quick line up on Facebook than try to write a lengthy post here. On those rare occasions when the muse does strike me with a dose of real or imagined eloquence sufficient to fill a few paragraphs here, I can blather on here and then throw up a quick link for Facebook to alert those who might be interested.

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