Alkahest my heroes have always died at the end

July 6, 2007

reason #27 for staying off the computer after GB…

Filed under: Funny,Wildlife Rehab — cec @ 9:39 pm

you think LOL Possums is a good idea:

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I’ll take some more pictures tomorrow, including a few of their new-ish, big brother. All of these guys are going back to their regular care taker Monday. They’ve been cute to have around, but I don’t think K is looking for more.

June 29, 2007

Possum husbandry…

Filed under: Photography,Wildlife Rehab — cec @ 8:32 pm

K is taking care of some baby possums for the next week.  They are about 16 grams (1/2 oz) each.  Obligatory pictures included…

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May 6, 2007

A couple of wildlife rehab notes

Filed under: Personal,Wildlife Rehab — cec @ 8:28 pm
  • We finished the protective boxes we are going to use for cage cameras.  They are pretty basic with hinged tops (where the cameras are mounted) and plexiglass fronts to shoot through.  We’ve mounted them in the cages and run the 300′ of wire back to the house.  K will need to angle them so they point in the right direction, but other than that, we’re done!
  • K also had someone call today who had a cat-mauled bunny.  They’ve dropped it off and K has it set up in a cage upstairs with a heating pad.  Assuming it makes it through the night, we’ll take it up to the clinic tomorrow for antibiotics, etc.

April 13, 2007

It’s quiet, too quiet…

Filed under: Personal,Technical,Wildlife Rehab — cec @ 9:26 am

I haven’t been so much with the blogging lately. For me, that is generally a sign that things are busy enough that I’m living life rather than blogging it [ed note: For all of you young readers, this is what is known as irony. When I have the most to say, I have the least time to say it in; conversely, when I write the most, I have the least to say].

Quick highlights of things that are going on:

  • I received an odd email two weeks ago. It was from a professor that I knew, but never worked closely with, in the ECE department. He has a research company that is gearing up for a project that is security related. He wanted to know if I knew of anyone that might be interested in either a full-time or a consulting position. There are two ways that kind of thing can go. He might be asking an honest question or he might be looking to see if I’m interested. As usual for me, it’s easier to play the straight man. I listed a few folks I knew that might be interested in positions, but included myself as one interested in consulting and maybe more. I spoke to the professor last week. The work sounds interesting. They have lots of money, so I agreed to come by in a couple of weeks to see the place, give a talk, meet some people. Or, as I put it to K, we agreed to go on a first date. Last night, K asked what happens after the first date? I told her that depending on how that goes, we might engage in heavy petting. At which point K decided that she had enough of my metaphors. 🙂
  • I think I mentioned that we were pulling wall paper off of the kitchen/breakfast room wall. The wall paper and the backing are now all off and we’ve picked a paint color. I just need to finish cleaning the paste residue off and do a skim coat of sheetrock mud and we’ll go ahead and get it painted. I’m still not certain about the color, but what the heck – paint is cheap.
  • K used some birthday money and bought a couple of day/night mini-cameras designed to go in bird houses. The plan is to run them out to the cages out back. Unfortunately, the cameras only came with 100′ of cable. When we measured off the length last weekend, we realized we needed 300′ of cable each. I volunteered to buy some generic cable and splice it in, but K is risk averse and decided to just buy the extension cables. This weekend, I’ll try to build some small boxes to house the cameras and keep them out of the rain (and away from squirrel teeth).
  • The Leadership Program I mentioned earlier did come to campus.  I was planning on reviewing the 5 minute talk I was going to give on Wednesday night since we were asked to speak on Thursday.  So, I’m sitting in my office working on the laptop when someone on my staff comes in with someone attending the program.  They were wondering where we all were?  It turns out that they (or maybe me) had the date wrong and they were hoping we could come speak to them right away.  Fortunately, I had thought a bit about what I wanted to say – I just hadn’t polished it up.  I went in and winged it from there.  Overall, I think it went pretty well.  I just wish I had the extra prep time.
  • I’m moving all of my domains off of a desktop computer and on to an ISP. Hey, $8/month, unlimited bandwidth, multiple databases, etc. is definitely worth it. I moved a friend’s site that I was hosting first:, then K’s domain and email. hasn’t been moved yet, I’m hoping to move the pwc patient database off of it first and on to the pwc main site. Of course, that’ll mean getting an updated version of php from our ISP. Once that’s done, I’ll move which will make me happier than leaving it on a desktop machine (is it still a desktop if it is under my desk?).
  • Finally, I’ve spent a huge amount of time working on the Piedmont Wildlife Center’s patient database. I tried to get board members and staff to help me write the functional specifications right the first time so that the programmer we hired could actually implement what we wanted. Unfortunately, what they gave me wasn’t really what they wanted. So now I’m going back and reworking a lot of the database. Fortunately, the whole thing is written using a model/view/controller (MVC) method of programming and it’s very easy to make changes. I’m also taking this as an opportunity to learn a lot more about the w3’s document object model (DOM), how it can be manipulated with javascript, and ajax while I’m at it. So far, my favorite pieces are the ajax bit to remotely pull/post database stats on the pwc main website and the dynamic form that allows you to automatically create new rows using javascript 🙂

February 11, 2007

Life as the handyman for a wildlife rehabber

Filed under: Personal,Wildlife Rehab — cec @ 10:04 pm

A few weeks ago, K took over the outdoor rehab of a pair of possums from a friend who was heading out of town.  One of the possums wasn’t doing so well and so they decided to split them up when her friend got back in town.  The very next day, the animal K kept would barely wake up and was in terrible shape.  K rushed her to the clinic where she died shortly of the “major ick.”  Don’t look at me, that’s apparently the technical term for it.

dsc_0471_m.JPGSince no one really knows what the ick is and whether or not it is contagious (they’re sending the remains off for testing), K and the wildlife vet thought that it would be best to move the cage to a new spot and then clean it.  The problem is that the cages (right) are fairly heavy 6′ cubes made of wood and steel mesh.  Our first attempt to move it by picking it up would have taken between 4 and 6 people – we only had two.  This meant that we would probably have to take the cage apart, move the pieces and reassemble: something I did not want to have to do.

dsc_0473_m.JPGEmploying creative laziness, I realized that we had a set of wheels attached to boards lying around the house.  By temporarily attaching them to the cage (left), I could construct a fully functional possum battle-cage! 

Once the wheels were attached, we were easily able to move the cage (see below for a re-enactment) to a spot 20′ away, remove the wheels and reposition the cage on the guard mesh it sits on.  All told, this only took 30 minutes: much less than the time needed to take down and reassemble it.

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November 27, 2006

Luke’s eating again!

Filed under: Personal,Wildlife Rehab — cec @ 10:54 pm

I hadn’t mentioned this, but it had been about 5 weeks since Luke (the boa) last ate.  For the first three weeks, I didn’t worry.  He had just shed, he’s a snake and it’s winter, etc.  By week 5, I was getting concerned.  Last Saturday, two days after finishing his cage, which upped the daytime temperature to ~80 degrees, he finally got interested in food.  Now he’s prowling the cage, looking for another rat.  🙂

November 21, 2006

Still need to finish the snake cage

Filed under: Personal,Photography,Wildlife Rehab — cec @ 10:51 am

The snake’s been in the cage for a few months, but I’ve held off posting pictures until I finished the last little bit – the frames around the window.  But as pointed out in this comment, it would be good to get some pictures with Luke in his cage.  So, hopefully I’ll finish up the frames this week, while I’m away from the office, but in the meantime, here are some pictures:

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The other thing I need to do to finish this is to work on the temperature problem.  With the large vents (that I plan to shrink up a bit with plexiglass) and the big front, it loses heat faster than the small heaters we’ve put in there will add it.  I think the next plan is to put in some track lighting along the back and then I can add several of the low heat lamps (that won’t burn the snake if he touches them).

November 5, 2006

a quick update

Filed under: Personal,Wildlife Rehab — cec @ 9:34 pm

I haven’t done much blogging recently, mostly, and somewhat ironically, it’s because things have been too busy to actually write about them.

Sierra’s doing well. She and Darwin are getting along great. They’ll run around the yard, the house or even the couch, if given the chance. There is much mouth fencing. She’s still very curious about the cats – poor cats. Our house has turned in to baby/puppy-gate central. Sierra went to the vet on Saturday. She’s in great health, although it seems that she’s about 50 pounds (from her size, I had guessed 30 – 40).  Right now she’s sound asleep, snoring on the couch.
Work is busier than usual. I did manage to interview a couple of candidates for an open position. One did very well, so I’m hoping to get approval to extend an offer next week.

Finally, I spent part of today working on the outdoor turtle enclosure for K. The problem with a turtle enclosure is that it needs to have a mesh bottom, *and* it needs to be buried about 4-6 inches deep in order to allow the turtles to hibernate. I dug out the area a few weeks ago and then built a 16 inch tall enclosure. The enclosure’s about 24 square feet, so I figure I dug up about 12 cubic feet of dirt. This weekend, I picked up a center brace and some 1/2″ mesh and stapled the mesh to the bottom of the enclosure. I had to dig out the pit a little more, but was able to drop the enclosure in place fairly easily. I then had to put 12 cubic feet of dirt back into the enclosure. Now I just need to build and install the top.

October 28, 2006

Release the squirrels!

Filed under: Personal,Wildlife Rehab — cec @ 10:16 pm

I haven’t posted pictures of the squirrels in quite a while. Here are some from mid-September when they got big enough to move out of the aquarium and into a wire cage…

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Two or three weeks ago, we put them in the outside cage. Today we opened up the release door, we’ll see if they’re there in the morning.

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September 19, 2006


Filed under: Wildlife Rehab — cec @ 2:29 pm

just heard from K – the flying squirrel didn’t make it through the night. She’s guessing that the impact of the truck caused internal bleeding.  unfortunately, there wasn’t much she could do 🙁

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