Monday, April 06, 2015

Beeginnings

After years of book/internet study, I finally have bees. Tomorrow night I will have had them for one week. I've made several posts about them on my Facebook account, but for some reason have not put them down in blog form.

Here is a brief accounting of what I've done:

  1. I attended the local beekeepers club last month (this month's meeting is this upcoming Thursday)
  2. I ordered my equipment from Brushy Mountain Bee Farm
    • A traditional 8-frame medium beginners kit, which comes with:
      • A fully assembled hive with two 8-frame medium supers, the 16 frames to go in them, 16 wax foundation sheets to go in the frames, an entrance feeder, and an entrance reducer
      • A veil
      • A pair of gloves
      • A bee brush
      • A hive tool
      • A smoker and fuel
      • A basics DVD
      • and finally, a beginners book
    • A complete unassembled hive of the same style (though with different frame style – the BeeGinners kit came with grooved top and bottom bars, all others I ordered with grooved top and divided bottom bars)
    • An extra unassembled 8-frame medium box for each hive, with frames
    • A "regular" 8-frame deep box and frames to assist should I get my bees from a nuc
    • An entrance feeder for the second hive
    • And a queen excluder (to assist in phasing out the deep box – so that I can standardized on medium equipment)
  3. I assembled all of my equipment last weekend (a week ago, not yesterday)
  4. I began looking for a source of bees - it seems everyone is sold out this time of the season
  5. Last Tuesday, I finally found some package bees at Lookout Mountain Honey Bees, but they had already been in their packages for several days and I had to pick them up that day, so I…
  6. Left work half an hour before I normally do on Tuesdays (I normally leave half an hour early so I can make it to Cub Scouts), and drove to Gadsden, AL to pick up two packages of honey bees (each package comes with about 3lbs of bees, a queen in a cage, and a can of syrup to keep them fed)
  7. I installed them that night with my wife's help, in the dark, just before a thunderstorm - pretty much the exact opposite of best conditions for working with bees - but the bees were gentle and went into their new homes just fine. They each got a single box with the 8 frames that have foundation (from the assembled hive I ordered), as I haven't put the guide strips in the other frames yet. I filled their entrance feeders with 1:1 sugar syrup and went to bed
  8. Each morning and evening I've refilled their feeders – they suck down quite a bit of syrup
  9. Friday afternoon I opened each hive and pulled the queen cages (one cage was empty, the other contained a dead worker – both queens had been released) – the girls had been drawing comb nicely, and Hive 1, which I had thought was doing poorly, was actually doing better
  10. I started adding green food coloring to the syrup so I can more easily see the level in the feeders and so that I can avoid taking capped syrup thinking it capped honey – I will maintain this unless I find compelling evidence to stop
  11. This morning there was minimal activity in Hive 2 when I refilled the feeder, so one of a few things has happened (possibly more):
    • The bees, like me, are lazy and didn't want to be up so early
    • All the bees are dead or dying
    • The majority of the bees absconded, hanging around just long enough to build their strength
    • The majority of the bees absconded, but not before the queen left enough eggs to continue the hive
    • The queen died, some of the bees left, some stayed trying to raise a new queen
    • The package was mostly older workers and have just died off while they build up new workers (emerging later in 2.5 weeks at the earliest)

For those of you wondering, I have been stung five (5) times: once installation night, and once each morning and evening the first two days – each time it was my fault, for either not paying attention, moving too quickly, or both. I have not been stung since.

When I opened the hives on Friday, they were still drawing out comb on just a handful of frames, I will open the hives again this upcoming weekend and check them again. If it looks like they are doing well, I might put another box on, though I won't -need- to until the following Saturday (Friday afternoon would likely be safer). As that Sunday (19 April) is the earliest the first batch of brood will emerge, and the hive could get awfully crowded awfully fast. From what I understand, when starting from a package, from then until that point is like the initial uphill climb of a roller coaster. Your adult bees are having to do all the jobs until the new bees emerge, dying off the whole time, then there is a sudden explosion in colony population, then the remainder of those original workers die and your first generation is having to do all the work, but with new generations being born fairly constantly after that point.

This is an adventure I am enjoying, even though at this time it's simply extra chores (mixing sugar syrup and refilling the feeders) – I am looking forward to the rest of the adventure though.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Time of Change

At something amazing will happen. The tilt of the earth with respect to the sun will be as far as it's going to go in this direct this year. In the Northern hemisphere, we call this event the Winter Solstice (it's the Summer Solstice in the Southern hemisphere). Tonight will be the longest night of the year. Tomorrow night, will be shorter, and the next shorter still, and so on until mid-June at the next solstice. Though the shorter nights won't be noticeably shorter for a few days yet.

All over the world, for as long as people have looked at the sky and took notice of the changes, they have recognized this time as special. We place significance on this time of year. Those from more northern areas celebrate the return of longer days, while those closer to the equator can see the change in the movement of the stars. Many believe this is a time of miracles and magic. Others celebrate the birth of their god. Christian faiths teach that it was at this time that the magi noticed a new star in the sky, geosynchronous over the area of Jerusalem - there is a reason these men were looking up.

No matter what faith you claim, if any, this is a time of change, a time of interest. Recognize it how you will, and realize others may recognize it differently. If they wish you well, accept it for the intent, and return the well-wishes.

  • Merry Christmas!
  • Happy Hanukkah!
  • Glad Yule!
  • Happy Holidays!
  • Good Afternoon!
  • Happy New Year!

Each of these, though framed from different points of reference, mean the same thing - a sincere wish of better times for you and yours.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Tech Support Charges

It has been 10 years since I stopped doing professional tech support. So here's some new policy for calling me with tech support issues:

  • If you're one of my grandparents, none of this applies to you - we have (or will work out our own arrangements)
  • If you work for my employer, and this is an emergency issue, and I'm on call, you're in luck, they pay me to fix your issue, though be ready to hear that it might have to wait until morning.
Otherwise:
  • +$80/hour, 1 hour minimum, 15min intervals after the first hour
  • +$5/mile if I have to actually drive to your house to fix it
  • +$50 if there is an error, I google the exact error message, and the solution is on the first page of results (an extra +$50 if it's in the top 3 non-paid results)
  • +$50 if you wake me up. My alarm goes off at 4:30 every morning, I need what sleep I can get (an extra +$50 if it's not an emergency)
  • +$50 if it's your own fault and you should have known better
  • +$50 if there is no way I could know the answer ("what's my password")
  • +$100 if there is a free help desk included with the service and you haven't even attempted to call it (if you tell me you have, and I have to call them, I will ask, and that will cost you another $250 for -really- wasting my time if you lied to me about calling)
  • +$50/device involved, if I have to actually tell you to restart or turn it off and back on again and that solves the issue

There's a chance that I'll just tell you how to fix it and will wave some or even all of the fees, it depends on multiple factors, including your history as a client. This is not a joke, if you get a bill from me listing charges at the above rates, I fully expect payment.


Rates subject to change. 

Friday, July 04, 2014

Independence Day

July 4, 1776 is the date 13 newly independent States placed at the top of their divorce paper. The decision had been made two days earlier on July 2. The war had been going on for over a year at this point. Work had already been started drafting the "Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union", which we operated under until they were replaced wholesale by The United States Constitution in 1788.

Most people today who were raised within these united States were educated in schools run by the States and regulated by Union. As such, we are led to believe that the Revolution was supported by the majority. It was not. It was supported only by a vocal minority, with an even smaller active minority. However, those vocal (and active) about continuing the existing relationship with the British Empire were a similarly sized minority. The vast majority of Americans grumbled about taxes, but didn't much want radical change, either; they were concerned with their own lives, keeping their families fed, and not being dragged into the war raging on around them.  To most people, it didn't much matter who was in charge as, to their eyes, it didn't much affect their day-to-day lives.

This day, we celebrate our independence from the British Empire, officials of our current government will give speeches telling us how good it is to be "Free". To have liberated ourselves from such an oppressive government. The officials of the modern governments of this union should be hiding in shame. They give speeches today to distract us from the fact that our current government is worse than the one from which that minority declared independence (and I am not just talking about the current POTUS, as things were bad long before he or his predecessor took their Oath of Office).

Today, go forth and spend time with your family, friends, and neighbors; remember that today is the date we filed our divorce papers with our oppressive government and that if we hit that tipping point, if thing get bad enough, if the oppressed realize they have a common enemy, it may become necessary to dissolve the political bands that bind us, to alter or abolish the current government and institute a new, to file for another divorce.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Inward-to-Outward Focus

One thing that continues to amaze me is how different things could be if we changed our [individual, and [various levels of] collective] focus. Right now, we are too focused on trying to fix (or give the appearance of fixing) everyone else, with the further away the better.

If we reorder our focus, many things could be improved, including the lives of those further away.  Focus first on the self, you can't help anyone (at least well) if you are in lacking in that area yourself. Then your family, your neighbors, your local community, your city, your greater local community/county, your state, your nation, and then finally, those in other nations.

Different levels of assistance can be at different stages depending on needs and what's covered; for instance, we're pretty good on fresh+clean water in most of the country, so we can assist other countries with getting fresh+clean water.  Food, on the other hand is a little different. We have people that will donate money to purchase food for other countries (too much of which never makes it to the people who need it) while their neighbors are living on ramen noodles and peanut butter.

If you want to feed the hungry, reduce your spending, increase your health, increase your happiness, and improve the environment, then grow a garden. By doing so, you remove your demand on the food supply systems, increasing supply and lowering costs for those who need it. Additionally, you will have surplus you can give to neighbors or the local community. By producing your own food, you lower the cost of feeding yourselves and potentially gain an income. Food is never better for you than when it is harvested and consumed at it's peak; by growing your food, you increase your nutritional intake greatly. Further, gardening can be a constructive, stress-relieving activity, increasing psychological health and happiness. Finally, growing plants is beneficial to the earth, especially if done so with keeping care of the earth in mind.

When it comes to finances, this inward-to-outward approach is even more critical, especially in our modern money-centric society. If you are in debt to your eyeballs, you can't help anyone financially, at least not in any significant manner. Once you've squared yourself and your family away, focus on the local community. The less is needed at one level, the less of a burden it places on the level containing it. For instance, if your city/community has few demands on it, then it can begin paying off it's own debt, as well as planning for more solid investments (for instance, being able to pay the extra money for park equipment that will last 25 years as opposed to 10). It also places a lesser financial burden on the county at large.  As the county approaches a similar position, it has the same effect on the state.

The best thing about this method is that it only requires individual action. It coerces no one. If you grow a garden and pay off your debts, you improve the lives of those around you, even if they make different choices. You begin to lead by example, and can share your methods (as well as produce, or surplus funds) with others without worry of negative impact on your life.

There is no downside.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Thrice Three Years Ago

Thrice Three Years Ago, something wonderful happened.
Like the strands in celtic knotwork, a path and my own had crossed many times, but carried on, never remaining together,
until this day, thrice three years ago.

Thrice Three Years Ago, something truly happened.
The orlæg of she who's had only crossed before, had merged with my own. We spoke our Oaths to one another, splicing the threads of our lives,
on this day, thrice three years ago.

Thrice Three Years Ago, something amazing happened.
My Life became More. My Self became More. My Future became More. It all started renewed
of a morning this day, thrice three years ago.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

The New Guy Fawkes Night

Guy Fawkes Mask

The New Guy Fawkes Night

I remember, remember the 5th of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
But things take on new meanings,
And political leanings,
And reasons they are taught.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

On Halloween: Candy To/From Strangers

Tonight is Halloween, and already I have seen several references to the tradition of Trick 'o Treat as giving candy to strangers, getting candy from strangers (dependent upon perspective) or one of many other variants on different social media sites. The phraseology exposes some problems in our current society. Namely that either the tradition has evolved to include strangers, we no longer know our neighbours, or both.

Up until the last decade or two, we knew our neighbours. These were people we interacted with on a daily basis. Our kids all knew each other, and the parents knew each other as well.  We knew the elderly across the street.  When a new family moved in, we would introduce ourselves, even if not right away. On Halloween, the kids would go from door to door seeking treats, not from strangers, but from people they knew. Parents stayed home to meet the neighbourhood kids at their own door to treat them. Even if they weren't sure exactly who was behind the mask, it was the child of on of the neighbours, someone you knew.

At some point, though, we became reclusive. We stopped trusting our neighbours. Not because they became less trustworthy, but because we stopped interacting with them.  We ceased introducing ourselves to the folks who moved in. We became surrounded by a sea so strangers. Suddenly, the kids weren't safe to go out by themselves on Halloween. Not because of any increased danger over yesteryear, but simply because we didn't know. The majority of doors knocked upon were those of strangers, through no fault but our own. Who is the child behind the mask? It could be anyone.

So, not realising what caused the problem in the first place, we began to come up with solutions. The most simple and best solution, getting to know your neighbours and community, was out of the question, why, those people could be anyone, they could even be <insert scary thing here>. So instead we broke the tradition further inventing things like Trunk or Treat, where parents drive their children to a predetermined location and the kids go from car to car collecting treats, always under the watchful eye of the parent.

Or, worse yet, we drive our kids to the so-called good candy neighbourhoods, a feat of which I am guilty myself.  Though, at least in my case, only to neighbourhoods where I well knew at least one resident, and only because the area I currently live in is Halloween Dark, not many children here, so all the houses are dark and without many (if any) treats for any costumed kiddos, though we still visit the few neighbours that do have treats.

How can we fix this? Over the next year, get to know your neighbours. Build community. If you have a garden, give away your surplus (food is a great get-to-know-you). Have cookouts and barbecues. Someone has to start, don't wait for it to be the other guy. Your neighbourhood isn't scary, even on Halloween, unless you don't know your neighbours, and the only way to combat fear is knowledge.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Dreams of K — Faechilder

Odd dream last night. Nikki and I had just moved in to our new house (still making it livable) and we walk away from the hallway we are working on and when we returned, we had additional children: triplets, a red-headed girl and identical twin blonde boys, around four or five, but with the articulation and abilities of seven or so years of age — they were painting the hall (the parts they could reach anyway). We now had four children, as we knew they were ours, even though we'd only had the one an hour ago.

The children were ours, though the twins didn't speak often, and we only had them from the autumnal equinox to the vernal. During the other half of the year they did not exist. In the dream we raised them, they were our children after all, and watched them grow up along with our year-round child. Though we did not remember them in the warmer months, when they were with us, we realized we only had them for half a year. We begged and prayed to keep our children, all of them, for the whole year, but our request fell upon deaf ears. Whatever being had placed these additional children in our life was only allowing us the half year we had, and no more.

The faechilder walk my dreams, and though I have washed the sand from my eyes the shadows of their footprints are still upon my heart. Hopefully, the dawn will burn away those shadows, as it often does the shadows of dreams. For all I know, I raised three fae last night, and if I did, I wish them well, and hope they remember the lessons they learned in that time.

Be careful what you wish for, what you say in passing, and rhetorically request, for the fair folk are all about us and always listening and should they find you worthy, just might grant you what you didn't even realize you were asking for. Their gifts may not always come with a price, but those that don't are far more complicated than they seem.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

What Does It Mean: DOMA Gutting

was my birthday, and some very momentous things happened that had a very real effect on a lot of people, but, like my birthday, it had absolutely no affect of most folks.

I'm talking, of course, about the SCOTUS opinions published that day. Centering around Proposition 8 in California and the definitions of ‘marriage’ and ‘spouse’ provided by the Defense of Mariage Act (DOMA).