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Four Hundred Dollar Egg

February 21st, 2008  · stk

The first Egg! - On of our four ISA Brown laying hens had their first egg this morning. After raising them from day-old chicks, we're quite excited to see "our girls" grow up! It does mean, however, that Scott better get busy and finish building their nesting boxes!

"The Girls" Begin to Earn Their Keep

A few weeks ago, the woman who generously gave us four laying hens, came over with a dozen brown eggs. They were produced by the same batch from which ours were split. Ever since then, Rachel has been bemoaning the fact that our four chickens (AKA "the girls") have yet to lay an egg.

Scott built them comfortable and dry accommodations ($300 in materials), they have plenty of scratch to eat, room to fly and play in their run, laying pellets to eat, an endless supply of fresh water ... heck, they even have a 4-year old kid that plays with them occasionally. At last tally, they've consumed 4 sacks of feed ($10 each), a sack of #2 grit, countless tubs of kitchen scraps (dutifully diced up for them, I might add), God knows how much electricity to keep them warm, many water changes, hand-feeding, and people who let them out in the morning and put them to bed at night.

Materials for the chicken coop: $300
Having comfortable chickens: Priceless

For everything else, there's the grocery store.

They live in chicken heaven and the only thing they've produced is an ever-accumulating pile of chicken manure, under the chicken coop.

All that changed today. When Scott let them out this morning and gave them their day's supply of scratch - which is tossed out onto the ground, as they seem to enjoy "scratching" at it and picking up the bits ... go figure - he spied a lone brown egg, resting on the mesh floor of the coop.

To find out more about our four hundred dollar egg ... read on ...

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Updated: 21-Feb-2008
Web View Count: 15109 viewsLast Web Update: 21-Feb-2008

2 Days & 2 Nights

February 14th, 2008  · stk

Crashing 4-year-olds

Last week was a blur. First, my 4-year-old computer crashed. Shortly after, my four-year-old kid crashed (she became ill). Work came to an immediate halt. Rachel was on her 4-days of 12-hour hospital shifts. I faced a broken computer, a broken kid and the joy of running the house. Days were spent rebooting and shuttling CD's and my nights were spent soothing, medicating and taking care of our sick little girl. I didn't get much sleep.

I began as I was working on my 4-year-old computer, as I normally do. It began to fight me. Nothing unusual. I've been experiencing crashes and computer problems for over 6 months. I've been expecting the point of no return, but trying to put it off. You see, I'm an application guy. I'm not a hardware guy or a network guy. I like to USE the computer, not tinker with it.

I said, "Oh no, here we go." It's not a pleasant sensation, but who can complain after nearly four years of relatively trouble-free computing?

A sub-spooler system failure kept me from printing a check deposit slip. Rebooting didn't fix the printing problem. Restoring the system to an earlier time (which has, on occasion, been my saving grace) didn't fix the problem. I restored it to a month ago. After reboot, the computer froze and I found myself staring at a multi-colored taskbar and desktop. While it was pretty, it was also ugly. The cursor was toast. Keyboard entry didn't do anything but "bonk" at me, after entering a buffer's-worth of keystrokes. Then the computer said, "Game over." It initiated an auto-shutdown. Ack!

What was left? It was time to re-install the operating system from scratch.

That night, after day-care, my 4-year-old daughter decided to call it quits too. She initiated an auto-shutdown after contracting a nasty cold. The only difference between her shut-down and my computer shut-down, was that she waited until the middle of the night to shutdown, rather than shutdown in the morning.

To read about my week of fixing 4-year-olds ... carry on.

Fixing 4-Year-Olds

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Updated: 28-May-2009
Web View Count: 3945 viewsLast Web Update: 28-May-2009

Serving it Up

February 4th, 2008  · stk

This is as close as it gets to an "About Randsco" page. Readership sits at 85,000 unique visitors a month (Jan 2008). Reasons why, what's popular, monetization, Interent penetration & the future of Randsco are all discussed.

Randsco: 86,500 Unique Visitors During January

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On Growth: Nearly 15% of all the visits Randsco has ever had, came last month.

-Awstats     

"Randsco" was born early in 2005. It was a blogging experiment that came about after acquiring a domain name and moving to a shared hosting company. Before that, we had maintained our websites at GeoCities, a free online host. In autumn of 2004, GeoCities changed their advertising and because the new method impacted the visitor experience, we made the leap to an inexpensive ($5/month), shared host.

Randsco started as a means of documenting our lives (primarily for ourselves, but also for family and friends). Additionally, it allowed us to share our love of backpacking, cycling & adventuring with like-minded people.

Wow, have things changed. We still document our lives, keep friends and relatives up-to-date and share our adventures, but Randsco now serves up much more:

Because Randsco has been (sorta) monetized, we've recently moved to a $50/month VPS host. Hopefully this will result in a superior visitor experience (stability & page load speed).

Readership growth is due to a number of factors: worldwide Internet penetration, benefits of a blog tool, increase in SPAM and (last but not least) valued content. To find out a bit more about monetization, what articles are the most popular, worldwide Internet penetration & the future of Randsco .... read on.

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Updated: 10-Feb-2008
Web View Count: 27547 viewsLast Web Update: 10-Feb-2008

There Goes the 'Hood

January 23rd, 2008  · stk

Whiting Way Estates - a nearby, rural subdivision. Lot number 7 was the first to sell and the new owners announced their arrival by clear-cutting trees. They cut down trees on designated, protected park land, so they could have a view of the pond. Read about this travesty.

Owner Cuts Trees In Protected Wetlands

Cutting down mature trees on designated Park land is a heck of a way of introducing yourself to the neighborhood.

- a neighbor     

The land used to be part of a cattle ranch. It's been selectively logged a couple of times. A few years back, it was sold to developers and they subdivided it into eight individual, five-acre parcels and a park. Development of our rural neighborhood is inevitable and we've been watching the 'progress', over the past year. First they bulldozed a rough trail, trucked in lots of fill and gravel, using it to build up a road-bed. Last summer they laid down 'chip-seal', drilled water wells (one on each property), stuck up signs and waited for buyers to snap up the lots at about $300k a pop.

The first one has been sold - lot number 7.

I was surprised that it sold first. It's a pie-shaped lot that backs up to a large pond. On the positive side, much of the parcel is hidden from view of the road. On the negative side, much of the parcel is exposed bedrock (sandstone), with only a thin veneer of moss growing on it.

The new owners have put up a spiffy looking gate and did something that I didn't think of doing. They clear-cut a swath of trees and now have a wonderful view of the pond.

Only vaguely do I remember what the parcel looked like, before the trees were removed. I seem to recall that the pond was largely hidden from view, by the dense forest.

It was surprising to see a large stack of logs, piles of brush, torn up ground and Caterpillar tread marks everywhere. Surprise turned to shock, however, when I realized that trees were cut down on the adjacent lot 9, which is park land!

For maps, pictures and more about the damage ... hit "read full story" ...

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Updated: 24-Jan-2008
Web View Count: 12791 viewsLast Web Update: 24-Jan-2008
Filed in:Book Reviews

A Long Way Gone

January 2nd, 2008  · Rachel

Rachel reviews "A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier", an autobiography by Ishmael Beah. It's a mesmerizing tale of how an ordinary African boy, living in Sierra Leone, becomes a killing machine and lives to tell about it

(Non-Fiction)Review of "A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier"
an autobiography by Ishmael Beah

Living in the relative comfort of North America, war is not something that I know much about, but Ishmael Beah knows about it first-hand. In his autobiography “A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier,” Beah tells his tale of tragedy, violence and survival. He uses honest, straightforward language that carries you along as though he were telling the tale as you walk beside him.

When twelve-year-old Beah, his brother and some friends left home to visit a neighbouring African village, they had no idea that their lives would be forever changed. While away, the Sierra Leone rebel army attacked his village, leaving in its wake a tide of chaos and devastation. Beah tells how he spent the next few months wandering the forests, trying to find his family and to overcome countless difficulties in order to stay alive. While traveling with a group of six other homeless boys brought Beah companionship, it also meant that they were regarded with fear and suspicion, or met with hostility, as others thought they were a wandering squad of child-soldiers. Months passed and the boys narrowly avoided death by any number of ways, until they are given shelter at a village occupied by government forces. However, the reprieve was short-lived as, within a few months, the village was surrounded by rebels, leaving the boys no choice but to take up arms and become child-soldiers.

Click "Read Full Story" to continue reading the review of "A Long Way Home".

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Updated: 7-Jan-2008
Web View Count: 30031 viewsLast Web Update: 7-Jan-2008