Archive for May, 2009

Puppy Graduation From PITA to Stock Guardian

The raccoon predations on the chickens have continued to the point where the sheep barn has also been cleared of chickens, and the chickens roosting beside SwampMan’s workshop have also been victimized.

Ruby, the beautiful red Doberman Pinscher that died a couple years ago, used to keep the place absolutely vermin free, and I suppose it has taken this long for her memory to die among the local critters. SwampMan and I would come home from a trip to the store or an occasional movie, and Ruby would greet us at the fence, wagging her entire rear end, and prance up to the patio where she had proof of her devotion to duty laid out for our perusal. There would be a neat, evenly spaced row of the bodies of assorted varmints laid out in front of her food bowl, which was filled with her favorite squeaky toys. The death toll would include possums, rats, squirrels, snakes (which scared the heck outta me but she was never bitten), and the occasional raccoon.

Ruby’s only weak point as a stock guardian/defender was an inability to distinguish chicks from ducklings. When she would find an unattended chick, she would pick it up gently, gently in her mouth and carry it to her water bucket and plop it in. Sometimes I would hear the hysterical peeping for rescue and be able to fish out the little victim before the down became waterlogged and it went under. Often I would find the little body or bodies when I went to clean and refill her water bucket. Perhaps, rather than altruism, it was just a passive/aggressive way of dealing with the way chickens stole from the food bowl.

Odie, my old blind/deaf pointer mix, was a great stock dog. I left him out with the chickens a few nights ago only to be awakened in the predawn hours by frantic chickens screeching for help. I opened the gate to let puppy out; he immediately raced to the gate on the driveway. I opened it, and he pursued something into the woods. Following chicken cries for help (a hen, as it turns out), I was able to retrieve something’s intended dinner and return her to her rooster who was out braving the dark in search of her.

I let puppy patrol the entire place the past two nights and haven’t been awakened by chickens screeching bloody murder. In fact, when I glanced outside at dawn, puppy was lying down calmly watching chickens eat the food out of his food bowl. A little later, I heard barking and growling in the sheep pasture where he was threatening something beyond the fence. Ewes and lambs were fine and not at all concerned about the proximity of the dog.

Guess puppy has turned into a stock guard dog now. I’ll still keep him in the kennel when we aren’t home just because he’s still a puppy, after all.

In other local news, another varmint to have to worry about getting into the chickens.

Put a 12′ python into a pillowcase? While I will admit that I will gently gather cute little rattlesnakes up onto shovels and place them across the fence into the woods where they belong so they can eat the cute little rats and mice, and I will poke the bigger timber rattlers with a long stick until they get annoyed enough to slither off the property, any critter big enough to swallow small grandchildren is going to be executed. Immediately.

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Apparently Dealerships that Contributed to Republican Candidates Are Being Shut Down

From Gateway Pundit:

More Hope and Change…
** Earlier it was reported that the Obama Administration may have targeted GOP donors in deciding which Chrysler dealerships would have to close their doors.
** Last night it was discovered that a Big Dem Donor Group was allowed to keep all 6 Chrysler dealerships open…. And, their local competitors were eliminated by Obama’s task force.
** The closings also tend to be in “Red” Counties where Obama lost.

Very interesting, although you will have to follow the link to Gateway Pundit in order to read the articles (I didn’t copy the links because I’m not sure how long my internet connection will last).

I thought at the time that it was incredibly stupid to close the dealerships because those were otherwise known as “customers”. I don’t go buy a vehicle directly from the factory; no, I deal with a middleman called a dealership who has the vehicles sitting right there in the showroom and the parking lot. Now we know why.

It sounds as though Obama is out to completely destroy the concept of private property with his pushing the interests of the union over the interests of the people that actually financed the companies. Then it appears that his administration is selectively closing down dealerships that have contributed to Republican candidates. This is not going to have a happy ending, I fear.

In the meantime, I’m out in the real world instead of playing make believe like the Obama administration. In my world, people that overspend their incomes by a huge margin go bankrupt and lose everything. In my world, people that engage in strongarm tactics and extort money from people go to jail. In my world, people will eventually be forced to live within their means.

I’ve put more eggs in the incubator and will radically expand my garden once my job ends in 4 days. I’ve got lots of wool to turn into yarn, flowers to plant, cabinets to paint, and wood to turn into carved items. I want to learn how to paint vehicles and weld better. In other words, while I may feel a little lost at the thought of having *no income* for awhile, I’ll probably get over it pretty soon. I speak fluent barter.

What I do not want to do is pay any more money into a social security system that will be bankrupt before I get to draw any benefits, or pay taxes into a system that is headquartered in D.C.

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Puppy on Patrol

I’ve been keeping Sam, the German Shepherd pup, kenneled whenever I’m not with him because of his tendency to keep himself amused by chewing, digging, and carrying off my stuff. A big, playful pup like him without anything to do could turn into a sheep or chicken killer and that couldn’t be tolerated. In pup’s defense, a hen laid eggs inside his dog house in the kennel and incubated them. This entire past week, he has stayed outside in the rain while hen and the one chick that hatched have sheltered inside his house. He walks peacefully around the sheep, giving them a curious sniff occasionally. Still, a lamb could be bouncing around in play, pup could join in and treat the lamb as he would another puppy (or Odie) and grab playfully at the ears or neck. The lamb probably wouldn’t survive the play attempt.

Because it was pouring rain again tonight, I took pity on pup and let him sleep on the porch (which still has the screening torn out thanks to pup). I’ve been having a problem with a predator killing my chickens. The horse barn has been cleaned out of the 20 or 30 chickens that lived there, and I noticed this morning that a mother hen and two of her chicks were missing from the sheep barn. Pup had been raising hell last night, and I woke up and yelled at him. Oops.

Early this morning when pup raised hell on the porch, I awoke, and opened the door to let pup out (he didn’t jump out the window this time!) He took off for the sheep barn. A hen from the sheep barn was squawking hysterically on the gate right outside the porch door. Pup raced along the fence barking and a gray shape raced out of the sheep barn to the fence, was over it in a flash, and disappeared beyond the flashlight’s dim light. A hen was sitting dazedly on the ground at the fence, apparently dropped as the chicken snatcher made its getaway. Her concerned rooster, also wandering around blindly in the dark, found her in the flashlight’s beam and led her off into the darkness where I hope they found a safe place to roost. Out in the woods beyond the pasture fence came the angry chittering of a raccoon. Well, now at least my suspicions of the identity of the chicken thief are confirmed.

Perhaps I can now get back to sleep. I believe that I will place more trust in pup, adolescent though he is, to guard the place from slinkers in the night. I will have to! I have chicks pastured in protective pens, but I think that a determined raccoon will quickly be able to rip through the chicken wire. It should be able to confound the raccoon long enough, I hope, that Sam will be able to charge to the rescue. If he can wake me up in time, that is. Maybe I’ll hold off on having SwampMan rescreen the porch (which was actually on his to do list last weekend but was canceled due to bad weather).

Being awakened in the early a.m. on Memorial Day does have some benefits. Okay, one benefit. I watched The Fighting Seabees! Haven’t seen it for years.

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Anything You Do On a Computer Can Be Outsourced

I’ve been saying this to every high school age person of my acquaintance wondering what they should do for a living for the past several years.

I hate cubicles.

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Did You Get My Message?

After getting drenched yet again today, I decided to call my mother and complain. After all, mothers are the only people that actually listen to complaints and have a solution which is either “let’s go shopping!” or “let’s have dessert!”

So, I called mom and she said “Oh, you didn’t have to call me back!”

“Hunh?” was my less than eloquent reply. “You called earlier?”

“Don’t you EVER listen to your messages?”

“Well, um….no!” I had to reply, glancing at my answering machine which showed 30 messages. Dang. Most people know that if you want me to actually listen to the message, you have to call until I answer and then tell me to listen to the message, damnit. People not in my family, that is. People in my family have the illusion that I spend all my spare time at home staring at the phone, willing it to ring, looking for the human connection that will bring meaning to my drab and dreary life.

Mom is counting down the days until I am unemployed so I can go shopping with her once a week. I have been told that I shop like a man. I go in and, if I like something, I buy it. Mom goes in, finds something she likes, then has to go to all the similar stores in the county to make sure that the item isn’t $1.00 cheaper somewhere else. I return home exhausted; mom returns home energized and happy that she has hunted down that elusive bargain.

I told her that I’m not sure how much shopping I’m going to be able to do without an actual income, and she happily replied “Thrift stores! We’ll go shopping at all the thrift stores!” Well, I can always dig up some of her flowers and sell them at the flea market, I suppose, so that I’ll have thrift store money. I don’t have any flowers I can dig up and sell. The chickens keep eating mine. Maybe I can sell the chickens.

My computer has decided to take this opportunity to die on me, the ungrateful bastard, so posting will probably be *very* sporadic until I have the opportunity to buy another one! I have to sneak computer time on SwampMan’s computer for the present.

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I’m It?

Well, KC at Pixie’s Place tagged me a few days ago to provide 8 random facts about me but I begged off, citing slogging through waterlogged pastures with hay to deliver before and after work as a reason as to why I couldn’t answer at the time. I can’t come up with any more excuses (of course I can, but they’re worse than having to think up things to share about me, like scrubbing down the bathrooms), so here goes.

1. I sometimes buy women’s magazines at the checkout counter just so I can laugh at the articles. “Lose X number of pounds just by not eating (fill in the blank for the eeevil weight gain causer of the day, whether it be plastics, diet soda, regular soda, fast food or by eating non “organic” foods, whatever the hell that is).

The articles on how you can “firm and tone” by using 3 and 5 lb. weights are particularly hilarious. I’ve been out of the gym for 2 years now due to various injuries and work schedules but, when I worked out regularly, I unknowingly made some young women decline to join. They saw me, a decidedly middle-aged lady with a figure that was far from sylphlike, and decided that if I could do it, so could they, by golly, and asked the trainer to show them the proper technique. They were surprised to find that not only could they not manage the weight I was pressing, they couldn’t lift the bar without any weights. Then they couldn’t match my hour on the elliptical trainer, either. If I would have been able to talk to them, I would have explained that muscles quickly strengthen when stressed, and that they, too, would be lifting weights and probably outdoing me in a short period of time. But, unfortunately, I was told about it after they left. I don’t care WHAT the magazines say, 3 lbs. isn’t going to get rid of that cellulite. Neither will 150.

2. A friend was attempting to console me about my impeding unemployment by telling me that I have so many talents that surely I’ll find a position that will be just right for me soon! Actually, my biggest talent may be in pissing people off! It is a talent I exercise regularly. When Gawd says “okay, servant, what did you do with YOUR talent?” I’ll be able to tell him/her that I exercised that talent mightily and turned a mere tendency to be annoying by always being right to a person that is always right and then rubs people’s noses in it, REALLY pissing them off. Bad, BAD person! (SWAT!) PAY ATTENTION THE NEXT TIME YOU VOTE, DUMBASS!

3. I talk to my animals like they can understand me. Most of them do, except the chickens.

4. I talk to Swampman like he can understand me, too. *sigh* He’s out there in chicken territory a lot.

5. I fiercely resent any limitations placed on personal freedoms. As long as you aren’t hurting anybody else or anything, it’s nobody’s damn business what the hell you do. Smoke* if you want, eat whatever you want, and drive without a seatbelt or helmet. I don’t care and neither should anybody else.

6. I like to learn new things and periodically develop new enthusiasms in which I immerse myself in books in the area in which I am interested, then I follow up with putting it into practice. When I’ve learned as much as I want, I’ll lose interest and move on to something else.

7. In the past I’ve had an extra high energy level and held 2 or 3 jobs/businesses simultaneously while raising a family. My energy level is lower now and the family is grown but, once I’ve satisfied my curiosity about a particular field/hobby and how everything works, I move on. ADD? ADHD? I dunno. Maybe.

8. I have a problem following instructions because I always figure I can improve on the original. I can’t recall a time in which I even followed a recipe exactly. (Oh, sure, you’re thinking I’m talking about a cake recipe, and I’m thinking in terms of a a recipe for various concrete items.) Now that I think about it, I don’t follow cooking recipes, either.

*But not in an inside environment beside me, please, I get all drippy nosed and tight chested around smoke. I get the same physical reaction around people that have drenched themselves with perfume or aftershave.

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First Coast Tea Party Website is Up!

Mad as hell because your elected officials have gone to Washington, gotten the big head, and lost touch completely? Upset because you run your own business and know what happens when spending is uncontrolled? Listened to some of the government officials and wondered “are they all on crack?”

Well, if you have, you are not alone. The First Coast Tea Party website is up, and there are two opportunities to get together with like-minded people to meet and to volunteer for the upcoming 4th of July tea party. Get active in politics! It is time to take the country back from the people that are trying to bankrupt it.

The first opportunity, May 29, will be from 5 to 8 p.m. The second opportunity, May 30, will be from 9 to noon. Go to the website for more information.

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Florida, the Sunshine State, Needs to Be Changed to Florida, the State of Emergency

I called SwampMan on the way home from work.

“Hey, you gonna come home on time tonight?” As the school year wraps up, SwampMan is busy helping kids finish projects, grading, etc. Sometimes he doesn’t make it home until sevenish.

“Any particular reason why I need to come home on time?” he asked cautiously, as though he were afraid that I was going to announce that I’d decided to change careers, and I needed to practice Brazilian waxing on him. And maybe paint his toenails pink. But only if he was home early.

“All of my books were due on May 20. It is May 22. I’d like to turn them in before the Jacksonville library puts a lien on the house, and I thought you might like to ride along.”

“Yeah, I’ll be home in about half an hour”, he said, relief evident in his voice. “I want to stop by Home Depot anyway so we can get some wire to enclose your damn chickens.”

Great! That gave me just enough time to hide my latest livestock purchases, some newly hatched Aracauna chicks, in plain sight in a brooder. He can’t tell the difference between my mongrel chicks hatching out of the incubator in a rainbow of colors and sizes and the purebred chicks I buy that are of uniform size and color. As a matter of fact, he doesn’t look at ANY of my livestock. He MIGHT notice if I acquired something like ostriches, but only if they pooped on his truck. While squatting on the hood.

So, the nearest library being on the northside, we stopped to drop off books and pay fines, went to Home Depot, found the wire wasn’t where we expected and, in that particular store, was on the opposite side. We looked at each other and simultaneously decided that the wire could wait for another day.

On the way out, I wanted to stop at the Walmart across the street for a bicycle tire, but police were blocking the entrance to the parking lot, and a crowd of people were lined up across the street looking over in Walmart’s direction. They had name tags on, so I suppose they were probably Walmart employees. Guess that bicycle tire could wait for another day, too.

We listened to the news on the way home to find out why the Walmart parking lot entrance was blocked by police with flashing lights. Nothing. We checked the news websites. Nada damn thing. Must be a Homeland Security operation. Maybe Walmart has acquired nuclear weapons in order to ensure that their suppliers keep their prices low.

I DID learn that we are currently in a state of emergency due to flooding, and old farts can get free sandbags in my county. (If you are old enough to qualify for free sandbags, are you going to be strong enough to build a dike?) Anyway, my area of Florida has gotten between 12″ and 18″ since Sunday, with more on the way. Bunnell has received 26.7″ of rain since Sunday (with more falling).

I’m glad that we finally got some rain, but I really would like our rain to be scattered a bit more so that we get an inch or three every week, instead of having all our water delivered in 2 or 3 giant deluges. However, if mother nature insists, we’ll take the water however we can get it.

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LA Times Tells Us Why California Has Budget Problems – It’s The Voters’ Fault!

I’m glad that the LA times has been able to assign fault for the massive budget crisis in California.

Never mind that California politicians have massively increased taxes, driven business out of California by repressive regulation, and have an insane green agenda–it is the voters’ fault for being angry about an insane taxing policy!

Per the LA Times:

Californians are well known for periodic voter revolts, but on Tuesday they did more than just lash out at Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature over the state’s fiscal debacle.

By rejecting five budget measures, Californians also brought into stark relief the fact that they, too, share blame for the political dysfunction that has brought California to the brink of insolvency.

DAMN YOU, California voters! How dare you have a taxpayer revolt? Don’t you understand that that is the STATE’S money that you earn and they want it all back?

Come to think of it, I say “Damn you, California” whenever I have to listen to your political whores representation in Congress. What the HELL were you thinking when you foisted those particular idiots on the rest of the nation?

Well, perhaps the California government will be able to trim the budget by getting rid of some of the politicians’ pet projects? Nah. The politicians’ FIRST priority will be to fire teachers, firemen, and policemen. The voters must be PUNISHED.

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Online Classes for K-12 Will Save Schools Money

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — New research at the University of Florida predicts more public school students in kindergarten through 12th grade will take classes online, have longer school days and more of them in the next decade. Academic performance should improve and schools could save money.

While distance education over the Internet is already widespread at colleges and universities, UF educational technology researchers are offering some of the first hard evidence documenting the potential cost-savings of virtual schooling in K-12 schools.

“Policymakers and educators have proposed expanding learning time in elementary through high school grades as a way to improve students’ academic performance, but online coursework hasn’t been on their radar. This should change as we make school and school district leaders more aware of the potential cost savings that virtual schooling offers,” said Catherine Cavanaugh, associate professor at the University of Florida’s College of Education. “Over the next decade, we expect an explosion in the use of virtual schooling as a seamless synthesis between the traditional classroom and online learning.”

UF researchers considered several key factors to calculate and compare the cost of full-time online learning with regular schools. Cavanaugh reported their findings today at an education reform conference and national podcast sponsored by the Washington D.C.-based Center for American Progress. A monograph of her report will be posted on the center’s Web site at

Based on a 2008 survey of 20 virtual schools in 14 states, UF researchers found that the average yearly cost of online learning per full-time pupil was about $4,300. This compared with a national average cost per pupil of more than $9,100 for a traditional public school in 2006 (the most recent year in which such data was available). Their cost estimates covered course development and teaching, and administrative and technical expenses.

“Online programs have little or no cost for instructional facilities, transportation and related staff,” Cavanaugh said. “The value of distance education also increases when considering the broad range of available online courses.”

She said investing in virtual education could allow schools to provide instruction before, during and after school — in essence, lengthening the school day and school year — without sinking millions of dollars into new buildings, additional personnel, professional development and other operating costs. Such school reform measures may not be popular with the kids, but America’s education system is falling behind our competitors abroad. Simply put, students in other developed nations are spending more time in school and learning more than our kids do.

“Time is one of the most valuable resources for learning. Even a few days’ difference in learning time can determine whether a school makes adequate yearly progress,” Cavanaugh said.

In her report, Cavanaugh describes various scenarios whereby school days begin early and end late, with students attending traditional classes on designated weekdays and learning online in a flexibly scheduled computer lab on other days. The longer school day allows time for club and enrichment activities and recreation or athletics for a healthier school experience. The boundaries of time and place are removed through Internet-connected mobile devices such as netbooks and smart phones, letting students access online courses while traveling between home, school, work and athletic events. Most homework is done at school under direct teacher supervision or with after-school online coaching.

With two decades of studies supporting the effectiveness of K-12 virtual schools, researchers are moving beyond the question of whether virtual schooling works as well as face-to-face instruction, focusing instead on when and how distance education works best. Partnerships between school districts and state-run virtual schools — including Florida Virtual School, the nation’s largest virtual school, based in Orlando — are expected to play a major role in the emergence of K-12 distance education.

“Virtual schooling and online learning fit in extremely well with the emerging trend to embrace the same technologies that our young people are using in their everyday lives and apply them in education,” Cavanaugh said. “Schools that don’t embrace online learning soon will be viewed as limiting the learning opportunities of their students.”

The better K-12 online programs, she said, will have experienced online teachers and coaches and on-site facilitators, with tailored lesson plans to suit the learning levels and pace of all students.

“Dr. Cavanaugh’s report provides a vision of what schools could look like in the near future, as online courses and programs are developed that not only expand learning time but help educate students with a wide range of academic and learning needs,” said Susan Lowes, director of research and evaluation at the Institute for Learning Technologies at Teachers College, Columbia University.

Source: University of Florida News

I’ve had some limited experience with the Florida public education online classes. The people that complete them are the self-motivated kids that will do well at anything. The kids that are disruptions in class and that are not completing their work and are assigned to the online classes don’t do them.

It would be a great savings of taxpayer money if schools did not have to be built, remodeled, furnished, and heated/cooled, transportation did not have to be provided, and schools existed as a testing site and for the hands-on portion of various classes. In the event of bad weather, students would resume their studies as their electricity came back on.

I do not see this happening routinely in 20 years if parents still work away from home; after all, kids will still need supervision to make sure that they’re doing their schoolwork and not engaging in burning down the neighbor’s house. “Oh, puhleeze!” you may exclaim, rolling your eyes. “This is not the job of the school but of the parents!” I agree. Government seems to think otherwise because the school’s responsibility for the student has been radically expanded over the years.

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