Monthly Archives: October 2014

Stupid computer

I have mentioned before I think…I host this blog on a machine in my office.  There is no real reason why I do that, other than to say that I do.  In reality, it would be smarter, cheaper and safer to host it like most people do…on a server somewhere out there in the cloud on a  machine that other people manage.  I am not too smart though so I am going the stupid, more expensive, dangerous route.


So, let’s assume for my vanity’s sake that anyone on the planet noticed that my blog has been sort of “up and down” the past few weeks.  It turns out that one of the hard drives in my web server machine was failing.  Some mornings, I showed up to work to find that the server had crashed.  At first I though there was some sort of magical power flicker or battery back-up hiccup.  Finally, after weeks of ignoring the death screen that presented itself after each crash, I took the time to read the error which clearly said the hard-drive was dying.

Luckily, I have a process where I take a snap-shot or image of the server periodically.  It’s a somewhat fancy way of taking  a backup that can be used to quickly restore a dead server’s data to a new machine.  I finally bit the bullet and got a new machine.  With the image I had created, I was able to create a virtual machine of the image…all that means is that I could basically make one machine run a sort of virtual copy of the other machine.  It’s as if the original dying machine still existed but is now running on a new machine.  The cool part is that if this new machine dies, I just have to copy the virtual machine to  a new machine and start it all up.  From now on, I can literally lose my server and be back in business 10 minutes after I power on a new machine.

Of course, the new machine failed this weekend too.  This was my fault though.  When you set up a new machine, the default setting is to let Windows Updates run automatically. That’s the safe and recommended thing for most machines/people.  It’s a drag for things like my web server though.  Lots of updates installed and my machine rebooted.  Of course, the virtual machine that runs was not set to start up automatically so while my host machine came back up, the virtual machine that runs on the host and that powers my blog did not.  So…I was down again all weekend…hopefully all of that is fixed now and we should be back in business…gee whiz…

Honeybees…the hunt for food

I am always amazed at what creatures do to prepare for the winter…and for that matter, just survive each day.  A few weeks ago, someone had thrown some watermelons outside.  I think their intent was to feed deer as there were apples and other deer-friendly things about as well.  I don’t think deer would have enjoyed the melons as I found them:

Bees on watermelon

Anyhow, during the Fall, things can get pretty tight for any nectar-eating insects.  There are limited things blooming.  Goldenrod and asters and mums and a few other Fall flowers do produce a lot of nectar, but many people view those plants as weeds and cut them down or otherwise try to minimize their presence.

I often see yellow jackets attack my beehives trying to get any bits of honey or nectar that they can get…the yellow jackets always lose but it is a lot of effort for the bees to fend off attacks all day long.  If I am around, I sort of help the bees.  I have literally mashed a dozen yellow jackets at a time as they land on the hives.  Yellow jackets on a bee hive seem to be wary of the honeybees but apparently never see me coming.  Anyhow, you may have noticed that anything left outside…pop cans, watermelon, and hummingbird feeders all attract yellow jackets and honeybees as they make a final push to survive the Fall and stockpile for the Winter.

Bees and yellow jacket on watermelon
Honeybees and a yellow jacket

When I saw these pieces of watermelon, it was most interesting the number and variety of insects that were all sharing time filling up on as much sugar as they could.  I saw hornets and yellow jackets and wasps and honeybees…all working side-by-side.  They were desperate I suppose though they didn’t act desperately.  It’s juts a matter of life for them I guess, and outside of their home nests, there was no fighting for food.  I think there is a lesson there but I will leave that for you to determine (and fill me in if you want!)


Other bee stuff

Horny little buggers

I guess they aren’t technically horns, but check out the protrusions on these buggers I found!

Bedstraw Hawk moth caterpillar
I think this is a Bedstraw Hawk moth caterpillar
Sword-bearing Conehead
I think this is a Sword-bearing Conehead

I am definitely a live-and-let-live kind of person.  That basically applies to my dealing with creatures as well as people…I think I like critters better, but I am willing to leave people or critters alone to do as they please as long as it doesn’t hurt me or my family.  I don’t think it hurt these guys, though, when I picked them up for a little inspection.

He bit me!
He bit me!

The grasshopper actually sort of hurt me a little…I picked him up and he wandered around on my hands for awhile…and then he bit me!  It wasn’t a big deal, but I saw his tiny mouth reach down and just take a taste!  I didn’t fling him off or mash him but I figured that maybe it was time to set him free!  I know I am sweet and all, but he wasn’t my type!

I think I am a morning person

When I was a kid, I used to get up pretty early…not obscenely early, but pretty early every day of the week.  I always got up well before my brother on weekends as well as weekdays.  Most days I walked out to the living room and leaned up against my Mom on the couch.   I wouldn’t say cuddle exactly…anyone who knows me knows that I am not a fan of physical contact with other people.  I am not a hugger and I still really dislike even shaking hands with people.  So, I am not a cuddler, but I did enjoy “lean time” with my Mom in the mornings.  Not sure why I am weird that way, but their you are.  Anyhow, both of my parents got up at obscenely early hours for work stuff.  Dad was usually off to work and Mom and I would sort of just chill together.  As I got older, I loved to watch the Today show, and especially Willard Scott.  I still want him to announce my name when I turn 100.

As a younger kid, I watched “Lost in Space” every day.  It came on around 6:30 am and was, of course, black and white.  It was that time period when I was probably most clearly defined as a morning person.  I ate four slices of toast almost every morning and watched that show.  That time is a great morning memory.

I guess from the time I was 18 until…well…now, I was neither here nor there on mornings.  I still am an early riser, but I held no real opinion on mornings.  I guess mornings grew into a warm-neutral.  Recently, though, I have come to really enjoy my early mornings once again.  I get up before 6 am and cook breakfast while Emily is in the shower and the kids are still asleep.  I drink some coffee and read the overnight garbage that my news readers gather.  The house is quiet and so are my thoughts.


About the time everyone starts to bumble around, I head outside to care for my hens.  The chickens always hear me crack the door and know I am coming with fresh grains or green tomatoes or an apple core or two.  They cluck my way to the coop which is a great help.  My eyes are rarely on my path lately though as the sunrises have been amazing!  I have been treated to some incredible displays the last few weeks.  Timing like that won’t last long, but for right now, it’s just another wonderful part of my morning routine!

Still here…and running!

The end of the sports seasons are near for us…We’ve been full-on since school started.  I am the head coach for the boys soccer team at the local middle school.  Isaac is in the high school band which plays at festivals around the area and at every football game, home or away.  Abigail is running cross-country at the middle school.  Needless to say, we have been running (he he, get it?) and are sort of ready for  things to start to winding-up.

Cross-Country running

In fact, Abigail ran her final cross-country meet, the county championship race yesterday!  Both the boys and girls teams at her middle school won 1st place!  Abigail was not a medalist in the race, but completed a personal record on the course which was super exciting!  I am super proud of her because she has never especially been a runner.  It’s not that she wasn’t a runner…She has just not been a kid that needs to run.

Cross-Country running

In the weeks leading up to the season, she started to run a little according (sort of) to the schedule that her coach sent out to prepare the athletes.  Mostly that didn’t work at all.  She didn’t get that getting in shape was going to be hard and maybe even be a little uncomfortable.  I ran with her a few times and sort of showed her that it’s ok to push and sweat and even be a little sore.  I am no running coach but she sort of “clicked” once she got what it meant to really run and compete and be an athlete.

Cross-Country running
She raced this girls to the end and beat her…it was so exciting!

So, Abigail is a new runner and a lot less experienced than the older girls with whom she ran.  We have decided, though, that she is a runner and that she and I are going to run together through out the year so that when next year’s season comes around, she will already be in a good spot and will be ready to roll!

Cooling down

I am super proud of all of the kids on her team and she has great coaches that are encouraging and genuinely nice and excited for the kids.  So, while I am glad for the running season to be coming to an end, in a way I am sort of bummed too as it brings to an end the excitement of it all.  I suppose Abigail and her middle-aged Dad can always continue to compete…it’s been nice knowing you my friends!

Soccer Thoughts – 2014

This is a busy week as they all have been recently.  I am once again the head coach for the boys’ soccer team at the local middle school.  I coached in previous years, in large part, because Isaac was a player on the team and I enjoyed watching he and his friends play and leading them to do their best.  This year I am coaching just because I enjoy coaching.  I still like to lead the boys to do their best and I certainly don’t mind winning games.  We are currently 6-0-0, a record in which the team and I both share a lot of pride.

It’s a lot different coaching the team without one of my kids playing.  I really enjoy seeing my own kids playing hard and doing their best to work together with friends to win a game. I like seeing how they interact with their friends in a more direct way than one might get from casual interactions.  It’s also a little weird having to be careful to ride the line just right so as to be the adult, but not embarrass my kids too badly.  Without a kid on the team, I still get to see (in this case) young men grow up, learn to work together, and struggle with coolness and girls and parents and all the fun things related to middle school.  I don’t have to worry so much about embarrassing my kids anymore though…that part is pretty cool.  Still, I reprimand  them as they try out their new “adult words” and I try to show them restraint and civility.

Those two things were in danger of being lost in our most recent game, but we all managed to keep it together.  As I mentioned, I like to win with the best of them, but for the life of me, I cannot understand how some coaches and parents absolutely lose their stuff during practices or games.  In our most recent game, the opposing team’s coaches were apparently encouraging dirty play (or at least allowing it) and even resorted to calling one or more of my players names from the sidelines…the coaches were name calling!  It’s unbelievable.  Prior to our game, the girls’ team played a game which ended with the opposing team’s coach being ejected from the game.  I don’t get it!  Anyhow, we won and won well without humiliating the other team or calling them names.

I think one of my favorite things about coaching soccer, with or without a kid on the team, is that I get to make a mark, be it large or small, on a few young men about what it looks like to be an adult.  I am only one of a number of influences on these guys and, indeed,most of them have many very good people around them.  I am just happy to be (hopefully) one more of those positive influences.  I am definitely not fishing for praise…mainly just getting some thoughts out after a frustrating interaction with the other team in our last game.