Sunday, September 25, 2011

New Project!

We have collected all the materials we need to build a DIY incubator, and will begin putting it together soon.

We're using an old crafting cabinet, but other people have used insulated coolers (styrofoam too, though these don't make good brooders after the chicks hatch), large drawers, plastic storage totes, etc.

Want to build one too? Here's a materials list:

Some kind of container you can drill holes into and cut a window in, for the incubation box
A 12v fan from an old desktop computer, leave wires attached
An old cell phone charger or other 12v transformer that plugs into the wall
A piece of plexiglas or glass, about 9" x 12" for a viewing window
Duct tape
A lamp socket with cord
A light bulb (40w suggested; may have to adjust wattage to get temp to the right point)
Hot water heater thermostat (lower)
Hardware cloth
Thermometer and hygrometer
Pan for water as a humidity source, also jars filled with sand, pebbles or hot water to use as heat sinks

We also picked up a package of styrofoam insulation panels to insulate the cabinet, since it is made from thin boards.

You'll also need a drill and bits, screwdriver, keyhole saw for cutting the viewing window, electrical tape and/or wire nuts, perhaps some aluminum foil, and a desire to watch eggs hatch into chicks.

I included a photo of the cabinet as it is now. Regular updates to follow!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Report Card, Sort Of

I realized I haven't said pea turkey about the new school year in a while, so here's a bit of an update!

Birdman was promoted again in CAP. He's now a Cadet Senior Master Sergeant (only 2 more promotions until he's a Cadet 2nd Lieutenant!) He's been doing remarkably well with his Geometry, considering he can't watch the teaching CD-ROM right now. Biology is going well too; he did an experiment the other day in which he extracted DNA from dried peas. I was chained to my sewing machine and unable to take photos, unfortunately.
He's also pretty much taken over the yard work....I may give it a good going-over in a couple of weeks but its bearable the way he does it for now.

Velvet....math remains a problem, but I have determined that she CAN spell. She just chooses not to - in too much of a hurry maybe? She wrote me a note the other day and ALL the spelling and punctuation was correct! I plan to put the note in her folder and save it.
She's quite responsible about letting the chickens and Eli out in the mornings, which is very helpful since she gets up way before either of the boys crawl out from under their respective rocks. I have a bit of trouble getting her to remember to take a poo bag with her when she walks Eli, but even that is improving.
We have some new neighbors staying with the family across the street, and she and Lightning have befriended the two children. Velvet enjoys having a new playmate in the afternoons, and they seem to have a good time together.

It's a struggle to challenge Lightning McQueen. He was blessed with an abundance of smarts, but way too much of it goes towards thinking of ways to get into trouble. He's a year ahead of Velvet in math, and I'm trying now to think of other structured things to keep him occupied so he won't run me completely into the poorhouse.
He and are going to work together and build an incubator in which to try to hatch chicken eggs, and we're also going to build a second coop to expand the flock.

I had put a field trip on the calendar for this coming week, but I pushed it back a week because it's been so of the destinations is Johnstown, PA and I'd hate to get caught in another flood up there!

Birdman will be going to the library this week to research Korean recipes for our first International Menu Night; as soon as we have a menu I'll post it. I have a feeling the main dish will probably be bulgoki.

(Realized there is one misspelled word in Velvet's note, but believe me that's an improvement)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

It Is a Mystery to Me

Why any marginally politically-educated, properly catechized Catholic could ever vote for ANY Democrat, but that's just me.

I found the closing sentence of the following article to be particularly interesting:

Why Obama is in Danger of Losing the Catholic Vote in 2012 |

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Busy Weekend!

I attended the first of our state GOP's Lincoln-Reagan Galas on Saturday evening. I carpooled with a friend with whom I serve on our county's Republican Executive Committee and two nice young women from the university's College Republicans.

The Honorable Haley Barbour, Governor of Mississippi, gave the keynote speech. We were also treated to brief speeches by each of our state's Republican representatives in Congress - Rep. David McKinley, P.E. (WV-1) and Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (WV-3). AND an address by Mr. Bill Maloney, the GOP nominee for Governor, which special election is coming up October 4.

A great evening, filled with interesting people, good food and conversation, and lots of points to ponder. I was even able to lay the groundwork for some good civics education opportunities for my children over the next few months. And I got to dress up and look nice, which is always fun (because I don't do that often enough for it to be ho-hum).

How was your weekend?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

International Menu Nights, 2011-12 Edition

A couple of years ago we did a series of international menu nights, in which we had one dinner per month with all the menu items from one continent.

In case you're wondering, we did include Antarctica.  We pretended we were polar explorers and had granola bars, chocolate candy, beef jerky and hot cocoa while sitting around the chiminea in the backyard. :)

This year we are doing individual countries.

Birdman made little slips of paper with the names of countries on them; four countries from each continent. We included Australia but omitted Antarctica. ;)

This month's country is:


Stay tuned for the menu, recipes and a full report in a week or so!

Wednesday without Words

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Not so happy Anniversary

Wearing the Dad Hat

This weekend we had shop class.  Remember shop? Girls had to take home ec, shop was purely a boy thing, and woe to you if you wanted to take the class for the other gender.

Here at the Collective, we're equal opportunity.

We have, as you already know, chickens. Their coop is converted from a wooden shipping crate. From our studies on how to care for them, I learned that coops need a lot of ventilation so the chickens stay healthy. To make the coop easier to get into and clean, and to provide more air circulation, we took the roof assembly off and added a 10" clerestory-ish window all the way around, screening with hardware cloth. Then we set the roof assembly back on the coop. We also moved the existing roost boards to hopefully eliminate poo in the nest boxes.

We'll have to make some kind of shutter system for really cold weather, but I have a few ideas for that little task. We also are going to add an outboard nest box and put vinyl siding on the coop to improve the appearance.

Birdman was a big help with this project. He helped disconnect the roof from the main part of the coop, and cut some of the boards for the window framing. He helped cut and staple the hardware cloth as well.

Velvet helped with carrying tools, measuring and holding boards as they were being cut. She also helped make sure we didn't squish any chickens when we set the roof assembly on the ground after its removal.

Lightning McQueen was a general fetch and carry person; holding screws and boards, handing me different tools, and asking all sorts of questions.

I had to disconnect the light switch wiring from the box when we took the roof off. It's been a long time since I did any electrical work, so to help make sure I got the switch wired up correctly when we were finished, I took a picture with my phone before I disconnected anything. (Sort of made that part of the job into an Ikea project, ha ha). Then I simply made the wires look like the photo, stuffed them back into the box, put the cover back on, said a brief prayer that I'd done it correctly, had Birdman plug in the cord, flipped the switch on, and booyah, it worked!

I meant, again, to take a picture of what it looks like now that it's finished, but once again the light got away from me and it's too late. I'll get it up eventually, I promise. Meanwhile, here's one from right before we set the roof back in place. And one of the light switch box, in case you ever need to wire a light switch.

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Collection of Opinions, Which As An American I am Free to Express

The Muslim al-Qaeda terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 were for all practical purposes an open declaration of war. Unfortunately, this enemy doesn't play by the usual rules. Terrorists don't care to wait until an enemy trespasses on their turf to take retaliatory action.
Terrorists also don't really have to have a logical reason to do what they do. They are motivated by hate and an evil ideology.
So it should be pretty obvious that there really isn't an effective way to reason with or fight terrorists, except to exterminate them wherever they raise their ugly heads.

I guess terrorists are similar to cockroaches. You can't sit in your house and whisper sweet nothings at the baseboards, telling the roaches to go to the next town. You have to spray, put out murderous bait, and mash the little boogers into oblivion - and keep after them, because once you have them they never completely go away, you can just keep them from taking complete control.
In many ways, terrorists are also like octopi and other animals who can regenerate themselves when they have body parts cut off.  Over the past ten years, our military forces have captured and/or killed a lot of terrorists. But by golly, the terrorist attacks haven't stopped! In fact, I would bet that in the ten years since 9/11 there have been MORE terrorist attacks worldwide than in the previous twenty years, maybe even more than that.
Why is this? Muslim terrorists don't give a rat's patootie if we capture and kill their head guy. The second in command just moves up to take his place. They also don't much care if we do take all our soldiers and sailors and come home from Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and wherever else we have military on duty in the war on terror.
What they DO care about, though, is this: complete and total domination of the entire world, because this is what they believe is their purpose in life. (As a Catholic Christian, MY purpose in life is to develop as close a relationship with Jesus Christ as possible, and to someday enjoy Heaven with Him).
Say what you will about the Muslim belief that Christians and Jews are "people of the Book", it's just a fact that Muslims want the whole world to be Muslim, and it doesn't matter much how that goal is achieved.
What should we do? Good question. It gets harder and harder to be a Christian openly - in the rare instances where public prayer is permitted, the direct mention of God is not. Policies set in place for purely safety reasons are being protested by Muslims as "Islamophobic" - such as the 'no headgear' rule at an amusement park that caused hijab-wearing Muslimas to object loudly and violently. Daily prayer and Scripture study is a part of the lives of many Christians and Jews, but I challenge anyone to show me an employer who provides a chapel/prayer room for his Christian or Jewish employees, the way some employers have been ordered to provide prayer rooms for Muslim employees.

We could make a start at taking America back to being the great "shining beacon on a hill" that she once was, by securing our own borders. Enforce the effective laws that already exist. Stop giving 'civil right' status to earned privileges. This is the United States of America; if you don't like it then fortunately it is just as easy to leave the country as it is to enter.

"Oh, say, does that Star-Spangled Banner yet wave o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave."

Yes, but for how much longer?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Remembering, Because We Must

Sunday is the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a thwarted attack on most likely either the White House or the US Capitol.
I was at work. At the time I had a business partner, I was going through an agonizing and messy divorce, and the kids were of course too young to remember any of it.
We listened to a radio station at work that occasionally did spoofs and played pranks on local people, so when they cut the music and started with the news bulletins I didn't pay a great deal of attention. But the news didn't stop, and soon my business partner and I were sitting at our machines, jaws agape, listening as the broadcaster gave us the play-by-play of the second time in history that America was attacked on its own soil.
Eventually we gave up all pretense of working, and moved the radio out into our lobby, where we sat at the desk and listened.
We kept the shop open, and a few clients came in to pick things up, but I don't remember anyone coming in for a fitting. At closing time I took my children, who came to work with me as they did every day, and went home.
I turned on the tv and saw for the first time what I'd been hearing about all day.
I wondered, when I was listening to the radio, why our Air Force and other military forces seemed to do nothing. I think it was because it all happened so quickly.
I must have watched the video of the towers falling a hundred times, if I watched it once. I remembered flying out of New York City on my way to my new duty station in Turkey back in 1988, and how I marveled at the Twin Towers and how they dominated the skyline. Even now when I see New York City on tv or in a movie, my mind's eye puts the towers back in the picture.
I remember hearing about Todd Beamer and his (and his fellow passengers') selfless act of incredible bravery and patriotism....who knows what would have happened if Flight 93 had not crashed in that field in Shanksville, PA.
I remember realizing that the country I love so much, my home, would never again be the same place, because it takes a special kind of evil to plan and (almost) accomplish what the Muslim al-Qaeda terrorists did - to come into OUR country and attempt to destroy it.

This is the first post of a short series. Stay tuned for the rest of my thoughts.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Oh I Wish It Would Rain

In Texas, that is. We've had more than 24 hours of steady rain here; the temperature right now is 58 degrees....Saturday night it was 82 at this time of night. It's supposed to be rainy all week, just about.

Meanwhile a huge portion of Texas is burning. I have a lot of friends in Texas, and I see their posts about new fires in my Facebook feed and my heart aches.

People are losing their homes, roads are closed, and a few people have died as a result of these terrible wildfires. Texas has I think more than half the state in what they call Exceptional Drought, and I believe they need something like a foot of rain to end it.

If you are reading this, please take a moment RIGHT NOW to say a prayer that Texas gets two things: firefighters to help get the fires under control, and RAIN. Lots and lots of rain. I don't think they would object much to a tropical storm right now, even. Then share this post on any and all of your social network sites - Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Plurk, email, link to this on your blog, let's get this prayer network out to the whole internet!!

Thank you so much in advance! May God reward you for your prayers!


This is a test post. :)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Class Reunions, and other stuff

Last Friday and Saturday night I attended my 30th high school reunion events in Clarksburg. It was wonderful! I got to reconnect with my best friend from high school (the only person for whom I have ever been a bridesmaid) and lots of other classmates.
Friday night we had a dinner and dance at a banquet center....I got to dress up (which I don't get to do very often) and cut footloose on the dance floor to some good 80s tunes.
Saturday night a bunch of us met at a little bar downtown, but then decided we'd rather go out to the Red Caboose instead. It was a BLAST! I got to talk to more classmates and had some yummy shrimp scampi.
Two great things about the weekend: no one recognized me (and I was told several times that I look great, which made me happy and proved I have a long way to go in the humility department), and I didn't hear anyone complaining about people who like to do fun things that have no other purpose besides being fun. Quite refreshing.
Hopefully the ones of us who are still local will be able to get together more often!
Other random things:
I read somewhere that rickets is on the rise. Makes me glad I don't make my kids smother in those wetsuit-looking suits....I also don't contribute much to the financial success of the sunblock manufacturers.
Oregano and Barbecue are laying regularly every day now. :)
If anyone has any suggestions for dealing with a stubborn, borderline defiant, destructive, disrespectful child who never has any remorse or regret for misdeeds, please share.
I'm reading an interesting book right now about the 1960 Rome Olympic Games. Once I get this Blogger app figured out I'll post a link, but it should be on Amazon.
We have thunderstorms right now, and the wind is from the north which is pretty much opposite of the way it usually comes. We had hail the size of marbles!
I think that's it for now.
Happy Labor Day!