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Three Woes


Randsco News

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Three Woes

November 10th, 2008  · stk

NewsBrief: [Then There Were Three] The Kimler's lose an egg-laying hen to predators • [ISP Woes] A local circuit board fails and when it's replaced, everyone is reconnected, except us

Then There Were Three

Hutton House Chicken Run - Last Thursday evening, sometime between dusk and 7:30 PM, the Kimler family lost one of their four egg-laying hens.

By "lost", we don't mean that they set the chicken down somewhere and just can't remember where it is. We mean "lost", as in - a predator sneaked into the chicken run, killed a chicken and then made off with the carcass. Murder. Plain and simple.

Reporters were stunned at the news and a teary-eyed Alex tried to grasp the situation.

"One of our chickens ... is ... gone," she sobbed to the throng of reporters gathered the next morning at the Randsco campus gates.

"What took it?" reporters asked.

"We're not 100% certain," said Scott Kimler, who was standing next to Alex, putting a consoling arm around his 5-year-old daughter. "We think it was a raccoon, based on the forensic evidence."

By "forensic evidence", he meant that only feathers were left behind. Reporters, touring the chicken run, noted a light scattering of feathers, everywhere. However, there were two spots in the run, each of which had a mass of feathers.

"We think the chicken was killed either here, or here," Scott said, pointing to the two feathered spots, "then the culprit made off with its kill."

As it turns out, different predators have different "MO-s" (Methods of Operation). Not all predators will take a chicken, once they kill it. Minks and Weasels, for example, will generally chew off the head of the chicken and then drink the blood that drains out. They'll leave behind the carcass and often kill multiple birds, leaving the carcasses neatly piled. Skunks, who hunt mainly during the night, eat the entrails and leave much of the skin and muscle untouched.

"We're pretty certain, based on the evidence, that it wasn't a skunk, wolves, dogs, mink, weasels, rats or coyotes," Scott said, "which narrows it down a tad."

"Other possibilities include an owl, mountain lion, domestic cat or raccoon."

"The way the fence was pushed over, indicates that it probably wasn't an owl," Scott went on, "and while Vancouver Island has a dense mountain lion (cougar) population, sightings in our area are generally very rare. We don't think (and hope) it wasn't a mountain lion.

"As you can see, the fence has been pushed down in this area," Scott said, pointing to a rickety portion of the chicken run fence.

"We're not ruling out a domestic cat, though we know it's not ours - "Tuxedo" - as he was in the house at the time of the incident. Nope ... our money is on raccoons, who may hunt alone or in a family pack."

"When I went to put the chickens to bed the other night," said Rachel, "something in the bushes growled at me. It was very spooky."

"We think it may have been the raccoons, scouting out the area," Scott said, "Unfortunately, once they find a spot to nab chickens, they'll return on a pretty regular basis, every 5 to 7 days."

When asked what they were going to do to protect their flock from further attacks, Scott said that he'd for sure strengthen the fence and that they'd be certain to tuck the chickens into their coop, which is secure from predators, no later than dusk.

"Maybe we'll even enclose the chicken run - top and sides - with mesh, just to make certain nothing can get to "our girls".

It was a somber press conference. Sympathies went out to the missing chicken - a family favorite - and the group of reporters quietly dispersed.

ISP Woes

Manila, Philippines & Montreal, Quebec - After the tragic "chicken murder", the Hutton Household awoke on Friday morning to discover that their broadband connection, like the neck of their favorite chicken, had been severed.

A phone call to technical support - handled in the nearby neighborhood of Manila, Philippines :| - failed to re-establish their ADSL connection, despite over an hour of pulling cables, flipping switches and rebooting the computer.

At 9 AM, it was determined that the outage was on Telus' end. "We are aware of the problem and working to fix it. It should be restored in about an hour".

Scott drove into Nanaimo to run some errands, figuring that the broadband connection would be functioning when he returned.

At 10:30 AM, when he returned, the connection was still down.

Scott called Telus technical support (Manila again). The 'solution' sounded eerily familiar: "It's a problem at Telus' end, we're aware of it and it should be restored in an hour".

After asking to speaking with a supervisor - who didn't add much "new" information, other than a series of platitudes and excuses - Scott was passed over to Customer Service (in Montreal, Canada) where he requested a rebate for the inconvenience. The woman he spoke with was only willing to offer two day's compensation for "the actual time the service is down". (Wow ... a $2 rebate!)

Scott explained that he was losing $50/hour because of the outage, as he had billable work that needed to be done.

"I'm losing over $200-worth of work because of this outage and you're willing to offer a $2 rebate ... generous!"

In the end, he got one month's free service.

Though neighbors reported their broadband service was reconnected around noon, Scott's remained down.

Another call to the Philippines technical support office ended without a resolution and Scott's call was dropped during a transfer to Customer Service - "there appears to be 'a problem' with your billing account".

Saturday morning. Still no broadband connection. (Scott had used *gasp* dial-up - how antiquated is that? - to check emails and perform a few basic functions.)

This time, a call to Customer Service (Montreal, Canada) fixed the "problem" with the billing account - though it couldn't get fully resolved until the work week.

"You mean, because of a mistake that Telus made on our billing account, we'll be without a broadband connection until the middle of next week?" Scott asked "Donald", the Telus Customer Service representative.

"Well," he said, "I can transfer you to our technical support office, there may be a way to get your service back on today.

Scott again spoke with someone in the Telus technical support section. This time, however, it was with someone in Montreal, not Manila. "Martin" had already managed to reconnect the broadband connection, by the time Scott had been transferred.

"What did you do?" Scott asked, happy to have finally been reconnected, but shocked at how quickly and easily it had happened.

"A "stinger card" in your neighborhood had been replaced," explained Martin, "so I boosted the signal strength and did a hard boot of the card, from our main office. A hard boot generally unblocks the ports by resetting them, which is what appears to have caused your problems.

"Wow" said Scott, who then immediately thought, "Why couldn't they have done that YESTERDAY, when I called technical support in the evening? Eye-veh!"

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Updated: 27-Nov-2008
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1.flag Gary Comment
Shame to hear about the Chicken, I heard that Colonel Sanders was spotted in Canada the other week, maybe he is to blame and trying to source some cheap meat. ;) No, it was a shame and I guess more effort to make the boundary wall stronger is needed.

I hear you about customer services, we too had a problem with an ISP for an online website of ours. It went down and we messed around this end for hours trying to get it going.

We then called the ISP customer services/technical-faults department and got as much help as you could fit in an egg (a very small egg that is). Then on the third day of phoning them, 'Bingo' we got through to someone who 1) wanted to help and 2) knew what he was talking about. Presto, we are up and running again. It was down to permissions on the CGI bin folder (or something).

Glad you are back on-line, long may it last. :)

2.flag stk Comment
Gary - I have already sturdied up the fence. I've also borrowed a "live" trap from our neighbor, to see if we can catch the thieving raccoon, but so far, no luck.

We host our web site through someone other than our ISP, so the problem was only one of "connecting to the Internet" ... Randsco was fine, the whole time. (Frustrating, isn't it ... to have to jump through so many hoops for something so minor).
3.flag Gary Comment
Good luck raccoon trapping :)