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Randsco News

It takes time to create blog entries and not everything that happens, merits an entry. So, we've created this 'news' section, to keep readers up-to-date with our misadventures and accomplishments. Read about it here FIRST, before it makes it into a blog entry.

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Live Lumix Whale Record

May 21st, 2008  · stk

NewsBrief: [Live Lumix Whale Record] Scott tests a Lumix TZ5 digital camera • Hutton House chickens set an egg-laying record! • Candace & Richard have a Whale Encounter of the First Kind • Hilltop Marine gets a new AstonishMe! website deployed

Lumix DMC-TZ5 Testing

Hutton House - Scott is looking at purchasing a Panasonic "Lumix" TZ5 digital camera and got his hands on one to take for a spin. He's interested in the camera because of it's 28mm wide angle Leica lens, 10X zoom capability and close-focus macro modes. He took a bunch of test shots. Here's a couple.

New Record

Hutton House Coop - The four Hutton House Hens, AKA "the Girls", set a new record this morning, for egg production.

Scott went out to the coop this gray morning, at 7:15 AM, just as the mist began turning to rain. He carried with him, in a used, plastic yogurt container, the table scraps and peelings from the previous day.

Chickens eat just about anything and the compost pile has gone begging, because most of the Kimler food waste - what little there is - goes straight down the gullets of four, always-hungry birds. (They don't get onions, as it flavors the eggs in an undesirable way, though they do get crushed up egg shells. It sounds kind of cannibalistic, but they need the calcium to support their egg production and they're mashed, so they don't "recognize" them as eggs.)

As normal, the girls were awake and clucking in their coop, eager to start their day - and see what scraps were coming their way.

Scott opened the coop and the fearful four came gallivanting down the gangplank, spreading out in the run and keeping an eye on Scott, who was entering the run through a doorway. Their eyes bulged when they saw scraps over the edge of the yogurt container. Bit of crusty bread, scrapings of rice off the bottom of the rice cooker, kiwi peelings, apple core, egg shells, carrot and celery bits and god knows what else.

Scott tossed it out into the run, along with a few handfuls of scratch. They fought amongst themselves, vying for what they thought were the "best scraps" (it's amazing to see what they fight over ... dandelions we pull from the lawn and even big, fat, yellow banana slugs we toss their way).

Scott headed to the nesting boxes, expecting to find the normal two or three eggs (they tend to lay 3 to 4 eggs a day, usually a couple lay early, then one or two lay later on. One can hear them squawking, when they lay, as they often make quite a ruckus while they're laying.)

Scott found a total of FIVE eggs, sitting in the nests. Three in one nest and two in the other. The girls have been very busy indeed, setting a new Hutton House Single Day Lay record. :D

HOLD THE PRESSES! We have a late-arrival. The girls laid another egg this afternoon. The "Hutton House Single Day Lay" number has increased to SIX!!

Whale of a Time

Barkley Sound, B.C. - Scott was "on call" this past holiday weekend, at the local firehouse, which meant that he had to stay inside the fire district all weekend, to respond to any and all emergencies. (This past weekend was the "May long weekend" - AKA "Victoria Day", a Canadian holiday that precedes the American "Memorial Day Weekend" by a week. The holiday celebrates someone named "Victoria", oddly enough, which leaves Scott wondering, in a sarcastic Yank kind-of-way ... "When do Canadian celebrate 'My Day'?")

Rachel was off to Vancouver on a Nurses Union thing (she's now a "Shop Steward" for the BC Nurses Union, at the hospital where she works).

The point is, we didn't go to the floating cabin for the May Long Weekend, like our cabin mates did.

Too bad, because apparently, we missed the opportunity of a lifetime.

Details are sketchy at this point, but last night, we received some video footage from Candace and Richard. Apparently, they were out fishing near Swale Rock (just outside the western entrance to Julia Passage, where the cabin is moored) and were "played with" by a curious, juvenile Humpback whale!

The video isn't really very long, but is shows a Humpback whale surfacing and bumping their boat, just off the port side. There's a fair bit of "Oh my God's!" on the video and it ends with "Hang on, in case we're flipped over", or something like that!

For the better part of 40 minutes, the curious, baby whale "played with" (bumped and pushed, surfacing, showing its belly, etc) with the two boats that were there.

Can you imagine?! Wow!

We're hoping to get copies of the other videos and we'll ask for permission to post them on Randsco (apparently there's a fair bit of swearing in the other videos, which might render them unsuitable for family viewing, but a rash of "Oh my God's!" seems fairly innocuous. Wonder what the others have on them?)

Like Rachel said, "Amazing. This kind of stuff only happens to Candace!" (It's true. Candace has some of the most incredible, odd stories you've ever heard ... and they keep piling up!

Stay tuned for (hopefully) more about the whale encounter!

Hilltop Marine Website Goes Live

Bronston, Kentucky - After a fair bit of time spent styling, coding, tweaking and editing, our boating website at www.hilltopmarine.com has finally gone "live". (Mind you, the nameservers are still in transition, so clicking the link might still yield the old site. Just take our word that it once propagated, it'll look an awful lot like the the image on the left. ;)

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Wild Kingdom

May 5th, 2008  · stk

NewsBrief: [Garter Snake Eats Tree Frog] A nature show played out - literally - at my feet, while sanding a coat a wooden checker-board table, the latest "Oop Project".

Garter Snake Devours Tree Frog

Hutton House Patio - As a small kid, I used to watch "Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom", which was a staple of the airwaves from 1963 till sometime in the early 1970's. Marlin Perkins was the host and I remember that it used to come on at 7 to 7:30 PM on Sundays, right before "Walt Disney". (Disney was the show we used to watch, but more times than not, we caught "Wild Kingdom", either in part or whole).

Nostalgia welled up today, as I was out in the bright sunshine - the nicest spring day we've had thus far on Vancouver Island - sanding an IKEA table for the Oop. (I've made a checker-board top on the table and will share the details in an upcoming article).

The project requires a fair number of coats of polyurethane and I was busy sanding the latest coat, trying to smooth the surface and preparing for another coat (the 5th so far).

As I was sanding, I happened to look up and noticed a garter snake on the concrete driveway pad. He acted as though he was looking for something and since he was only a matter of a few feet from me, I stopped what I was doing to watch him.

He headed toward the small herb garden and I thought he'd be glad to get off the exposed, hard concrete and expected him to disappear into the bush. He didn't. He came back onto the concrete and went behind me.

Turning around, I saw him lift his entire head off the concrete by a good few inches. "He's looking for something," I thought.

Sure enough ... a small tree frog, also on the concrete pad, began hopping away, heading for the herb garden. The snake lit out after the frog very quickly, but not before the frog hopped into a bush. The snake stopped, after reaching the same bush and remained very still. It was fascinating to watch the snake hunt.

Neither the snake nor the frog moved for the better part of a minute. Then, the frog hopped out from its hiding place and bounded across the concrete, heading straight for me. The snake followed and about 12 inches from my shoe, the snake caught the frog!

The garter snake wasted no time about consuming the frog - whole of course - and in less than a minute, it was a lump in the snake's throat. The garter snake wiped his face on the concrete, using it like a napkin and then began twisting its body to "push" the frog further down it's gullet. Soon after devouring the frog, the snake began moving in my direction and actually crossed my foot!

I wasn't sure if the snake had plans to find a spot up my pant leg, so I tapped my foot, which startled the snake and it headed straight for the herb garden, having gone from predator to prey in a second flat. Once in the herb garden, the snake turned back and eyed me, as I went back to my sanding. Eventually, he disappeared into the forest duff, beyond the garden.

At the Hutton House, it's not just 'sanding a project', but rather 'a nature show', quite literally, at your feet!

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"No" to "Palms"

April 29th, 2008  · stk

NewsBrief: [Upgrade Halted] It was reported yesterday that Randsco would be upgrading to b2evolution v2.4.2 (code name "Palms"). Reporters learned today that the upgrades have been suddenly halted. Find out why. · [Reporter Let Go] An experienced reporter, covering Randsco news, was sacked yesterday, for unrelated reasons.

Future of Randsco Undecided

Randsco Headquarters - Only a day after calling a press conference, Randsco executives were inviting reporters back for another press conference.

"As quickly as the upgrade to b2evolution v2.4.2 - code name "Palms" - began, it ended," reported the editor-in-chief, "We've given all the employees the rest of the day to unwind, as they are very disappointed from this turn of events."

When questioned further, Randsco executives indicated dismay at the discovery that, with all the custom coding done over the years at Randsco, there is no straight forward way to port the current skin into a v2.x world.

"We reported on our dismay when we upgraded last time, a little over a year ago," said Scott Kimler, Randsco founder and chief-editor, "We were hoping that b2evolution developers would hear our cry - 'Updating b2evolution skins should be a far less painful task!'"

"Sadly, it appears they have not," said Scott, "In fact, moving customized skins from v1.x to v2.x has become a nearly impossible task."

He went on to explain that the after the existing database was copied and upgraded, and the new software downloaded, unzipped and installed, it was painfully obvious that b2evolution skins had been substantially modified.

"We quickly realized that there was no straight-forward way of porting the old skin, with all of it's proprietary tools, code and features, into the new version," Scott said.

"Sadly, we're faced with two choices," Scott explained, "either a complete re-work of our old skin, shoe-horning it into the new system - which may make upgrading more difficult in the future - or start over from scratch."

"We just can't justify the time or man-power for either task," said Scott, "All of our departments are working excess hours as it is and even if we did take the time to upgrade, the bottom line - the benefit to Randsco visitors - would be negligible."

Randsco is currently involved in the complete design or re-design of five websites. This is in addition to staff volunteering at the local Fire Department, day-care for Alexandra, ongoing maintenance operations on the 5-acre Randsco campus, refitting of the new corporate yacht "Blue Yonder" and trying to keep up with publishing at the Randsco Rag.

"We're saddened by this turn of events," concluded Scott, "and we have begun exploring other options. For now, we'll just continue on with what we have, but the future of Randsco is presently looking very uncertain."

When asked whether the other options involved switching to another content management system, Scott declined comment. He only said, "At this point, we are considering many options and trying not to close the door to any viable alternatives."

It was a somber mood, as reporters exited the campus with many of the Randsco employees. Though questioned, the employees had all been asked not to go into further detail.

This is Graham Smith, with breaking news, from the Randsco campus. Stay tuned for updates.

 

Dirk Smedley Sacked

Nanaimo - Long-time friends, family and Randsco staff were shocked to learn that Dirk Smedley has been fired as the senior reporter, one of several covering breaking Randsco news.

Details are unclear, but it is believed that Dirk may have been leading a double life.

Dirk was not available for comment, holding his jacket over his head and carrying a box across the parking lot of his former employer. Dirk got into his Mustang convertible and sped off, as reporters pressed him about his abrupt dismissal.

Company representatives only said, "It has come to our attention that Dirk may have been involved in dubious film-related activities. We are a conservative organization. We have ties to the church, the community and espouse family values. In keeping with our practices and standards, we have no choice but to let Dirk Smedley go."

An anonymous source had hinted that Dirk played starring roles in a variety of pornographic movies. Further investigations reveal that Dirk starred in "Birk does San Francisco", "Barrister Birk - Master Debater", and "Birk's not heavy, he's my lover".

Dirk Smedley's wife, in a phone interview, had this to say. "I knew it. That dirty rat! You can bet I'm getting a divorce!"

News of Dirk's dismissal, came on the heels of the Randsco upgrade fiasco, but is completely unrelated.

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b2evo "Palms"

April 28th, 2008  · stk

NewsBrief: [Upgrading] Having taken somewhat of a ribbing from b2evolution teammates, Randsco is finally getting upgraded to b2evolution v2.4.2 (codename "Palms"), this week. It's expected to be a painful, multi-day event, which is too bad ... but hopefully, there will be some joy at the end.

Let the Pain Begin

Randsco Headquarters - Reporters have been banned from the Randsco campus, after Alex and Rachel departed for the mainland, on Monday.

The editor-in-chief, Scott Kimler, has barracaded himself inside the main computer laboratory, hanging a large "Do Not Enter" sign on the front entrance.

During a brief public press conference, which he gave shortly after wife Rachel and cute-as-a-button Oop departed, Scott had this to say, "We've been putting it off for some time now, but we're taking the next five days to upgrade our main blogging software."

Randsco, is currently running v1.9.3 (AKA "Rainforest") of the b2evolution blog software and is the last of the b2evolution team sites to upgrade to the the newer 2.x series. The Randsco staff will be upgrading to v2.4.2 (AKA "Palms"), which was released only yesterday.

With all of the custom coding done on the Randsco site, the migration is not expected to be easy.

"We will provide a synopsis of how it goes, but we're preparing for several days worth of work," added Scott.

At present, it is not known how many staff are on hand to handle the extensive blog upgrade, but it's been made clear that none are leaving, until the job is complete.

Reporting live from the Hutton House, this is Dirk Smedley.

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Ocean Otter

April 26th, 2008  · stk

NewsBrief: [Ocean Otter] Alex passes her third of six swimming classes, at the local swimming pool. She's now an "Ocean Otter"! Congrats to the Oop!

Alex Graduates

Hutton House - Ths sun was shining, as reporters gathered on the Randsco campus this morning, snapping pictures and questioning four-and-a-half year-old Alex about her recent swimming accomplishment.

On Wednesday of last week, the Oop passed a swimming rite at the Beban Park Pool, graduating from a "Floating Frog", to an "Ocean Otter".

"How was it?" reporters asked the Oop, modeling the swimming suit that she wears to her swimming lessons, about her exam.

"Good," replied the modest Oop, holding up her badge, "See, I'm an 'Ocean Otter' now!"

Drinks were served on the sun-filled porch, after the meet-and-greet photo session was over.

Andrew, Alex's coach, wasn't in attendance, though he did write in her report card, saying, "Great Job, Alexandra! I'm glad to have you in the class."

Those readers following Alex's progress through the 6-step "Learn to Swim" program through the City of Nanaimo, will note that Ocean Otters have to pass these rigorous qualifications, in order to continue onto the next class:

  • Bob continuously 4 times
  • Float (unassisted) for 5 seconds on their back
  • Glide frontwards (unassisted) for 3 seconds
  • Glide backwards (unassisted) for 3 seconds
  • Roll (front to back and back to front)
  • Glide frontwards and kick 3 meters within 5 seconds
  • Glide backwards and kick 1 meter within 3 seconds
  • Jump into the BIG pool (assisted)
  • Handle an introduction to deep water

Alex had a new instructor on her last day of her "Ocean Otter" swimming lesson and he was really great with the kids.

When all of the kids were grasping the edge of the pool, practicing their kicking, he asked them to increase the intensity of their kicking by making a game of it.

"See if you guys can make enough waves to push be to the other edge of the pool!"

As the kids all strained to kick their hardest, he feigned fighting a battle against huge waves and failing, was pushed backwards and pinned against the opposite side of the pool. The kids all howled with laughter and kicked even harder, as he struggled to "break free" of the surging waves!

Some people are just great with kids, eh?

The next stop for Alex, on her way to the Canadian or U.S. Olympic swimming team, will be "Swimming Salmon"! (no pressure) :roll:

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