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The chickens are on the move

For your daily chicken fix, check out the streaming video from Nicky Vasalini's Flying Skunk Farm on the coast of Massachusetts. You may see a couple of goats in cameo appearances. If that one has so many visitors that it doesn't show a live video, there's also in La Crescenta, California. Both sites have audio so you can hear the cluck-clucking of hens as they go about their day.

Old car

I'm not just getting rid of bicycles from our garage. Oh no. Not even cars are safe as we separate the weak ones from the herd, to make room for the next generation of occupants. The latest casualty was my longsuffering Saturn SL-1.

It was a good car. I got it halfway through college and drove it five years, and I drove it hard. I hit one other car and one fire hydrant. They do sneak up on you. My worthy steed was starting to show signs of age, and recently the engine overheated, leaving me stranded along the side of the freeway. Last weekend I traded it in for something a decade newer and with half as many miles on the odometer.

This post is dedicated to my loyal SL-1, that carried me so long, and so far. I am grateful for it. But I won't miss it too much. My next entry will be all about the new hotness.

Blog dump

Purple Rain, originally uploaded by mik5156.

We got a big soaking rainstorm over the weekend, which was good for our tomatoes, and great for my blogging! If you scroll down, you'll notice a handful of new posts that went up yesterday. There should be plenty more to come if I want to catch up with recent events. It's been crazy lately.

Modern living for urban chickens

Living in the city is nice for now, but one day I'd like to have a country hobby farm with vegetable gardens and llamas in the yard. On the other hand, why wait until the future, when I could buy the stylish 'Eglu' henhouse made by Omlet UK? It's true, raising chickens in urban and suburban yards is the sustainable-living sensation that's sweeping the nation. T3 nails the design when they describe it as "a cross between an original iMac and a Tupperware box designed by Salvador Dali."

I have to admire the design and worksmanship of this plastic product. Then again, I also like the rustic look of a traditional chicken coop made of good old wood. For my money, I'm not sure which I would prefer to have in my backyard. But would you believe the fancy-looking Eglu is actually cheaper than most of the classic prefab coops I found online?

If you're interested in reading more about the logistics of keeping chickens, see also the free Guide to Chicken Care on My Pet Chicken dot com.

Winnowing the fleet

The fixie is what did it. I finally went a bike too far, and we discovered the breaking point. For two people, one of whom does not ride bikes, seven bicycles is too many (that's not even counting the 3-speed, which I sold to a Lake Pepin rider earlier this year). It was time to purge.

My first bicycle to be sold was the black Bianchi Strada that has brought me so many Google search hits. It was an awesome commuter when I lived in St. Paul and worked in Roseville. It carried me 13 miles north and 13 miles back, uphill both ways, in rain and sun and snow. But I didn't ride it even once during the past year, assuring its demise.

I simply have no use for a commuter bike any more. I was so close to my last job that I walked back and forth almost every day, a luxury that I savored. My new office is so far away that a motorcycle is the only practical choice for two-wheeled transportation. Maybe after we sell some more bicycles, I can clear enough space in the garage to fit a nice 250...

A quiet cicada

Another Dog Day Cicada, and this one looks more like the others that I've seen photographed. Maybe because this time it was dead? It was lying on its back all dried up like a twig; I nearly stepped on it. It was flipped over and carefully posed for this post-mortem photo.

Basement bugs

We see a lot of multi-limbed visitors in our house, but I'm under standing orders to murder most of them on sight. A beautiful gigantic spider had to go un-photographed after he startled my wife at the bottom of the stairs. This lucky bugger got a few minutes' respite since I found him when she wasn't around to demand an immediate execution. After the portrait session was over, he got a one-way ticket on the toilet express.

Only one question remains, and I pose the challenge to any amateur entomologists who might be reading. What's this bug?

Black hen on orange

Black hen on orange, originally uploaded by Crosscreek.

This is a test of the Flickr photo blogging feature. This is also a picture of a very pretty chicken.

Top 10 TV/movie celebrities

Earlier this year, I learned that I am supposed to have an opinion on relative attractiveness amongst our beloved stars of television and cinema. Being the insightful fellow that I am, I gave some serious thought to the matter in order to form an educated opinion. Now, without further ado, I present the list of my:

Top 5 hottest actresses

5. Jewel Staite. I read somewhere that Ms. Staite had to gain about 20 pounds for her role as ship's mechanic Kaylee Frye on the short-lived sci-fi series Firefly. She's Canadian.

4. Uma Thurman. Everyone loves Uma in Kill Bill, but I prefer her with the black wig in Pulp Fiction. This should not be surprising after you consider my other selections.

3. Charlize Theron. Shown here in her role as Æon Flux in the movie of the same name, which I have never seen. I guess it wasn't very good? She's another blonde-turned-brunette for the sake of the part.

2. Kat Von D. Is Kat Von D really an actress? I don't know. She was on my favorite tattoo-related TV series and so she counts. Apparently she left that one and opened her own tattoo shop in LA, with a brand-new corresponding reality show on TLC. I really need to get cable one of these days.

1. Pauley Perrette. I started watching NCIS as a guilty pleasure, but now I can't help coming back for more. How come? "Goth" Forensics Specialist Abby Sciuto. She's cute as a button, and she doesn't just play a forensic scientist on TV--she also has a Master's Degree in Criminology. That's hot.

Top 5 handsomest actors (a.k.a. "man crushes")

5. Bruce Willis. He's been in so many great roles, it's hard to pick a favorite. I chose a still shot from The Whole Nine Yards because he's a a mobster in this movie, and that's awesome. I also could have gone with The Fifth Element, in which he plays an ex-military cab driver in the future.

4. Sir Ian McKellen. Okay, the dude was Magneto and Gandalf. He rocks so hard, that he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1990 in anticipation of these seminal roles. Also he does some theatre acting. He's a vegetarian.

3. Jean Reno. During my exhaustive research in the course of compiling this list, I learned that Jean Reno was in the horrible American bastardization of Godzilla. To me, he will always be Léon, the Professional. (Yes, this photo is actually from Ronin, because he looks badass.)

2. Patrick Stewart. The original man crush from my impressionable boyhood days watching Star Trek: The Next Generation. And nobody could do a better Professor Charles Xavier than him. Permission to name you number two on my list? "Make it so!"

1. Hugh Laurie. When he talks like normal, he's just a very witty Englishman. Throw in the scathing American accent, unshaved face, and bitchin' cane, and Hugh transforms into the oh-so-dreamy Dr. House. I'd like to take a ride on his motorcycle. Oh no, I've said too much!

55 things in 1001 days: a review of accomplishments

Flickr photo by tiboutoo
A while back--in fact, almost 1,000 days ago--I made a list of 101 goals for myself. I didn't manage to meet every one of those goals, but I did make progress on most of them. Here are some of the things that I wanted to do, and managed to accomplish since then:
Things so nice, I did them twice (or more):
There are also dozens of things I did, which were not planned, but which were awesome. I probably wrote about most of them here, if they're suitable for public consumption. Now, back on work on my wish list for the next 1,001 days.

Sui G's very busy life

When I completed the BRC, I was excited for many reasons. Possibly the least of which is because it meant that I could check off an item from my list of "101 things to do in 1001 days." Do you remember that old meme from 2004? My deadline is five weeks from today, and I still have 46 things to do!

Of course, I won't be able to do all 46 of those things in the next 35 days. Accomplishing some of the items on my list is contingent on doing other items first: I can't climb Mt. Fuji if I don't go to Japan. Some are too ambitious. Some are just crazy. Some require spousal permission (denied!). And most would cost money.

So, I don't do everything I set out to do. I'm not going to sweat it. Instead, I'm going to start drafting a new list, including most of the things I didn't get done from the old one, and incorporating fresh goals to strive for. The deadline for this list will be Tuesday, June 8, 2010. My life has changed a lot in the past 1,001 days... I wonder what's coming up next.

Soft machines

The Japanese do the best crafts. A company in Sapporo called Rocket Craft makes unique plush replicas of their clients' cars, motorcycles, and other vehicles. Also a manatee. Check out the detail on this V-Twin engine! Many more samples are available on the Rocket Craft website.

Dog Day Cicada, Tibicen canicularis

When this weirdo appeared in our garden, I had no idea what it was. After half an hour of Internet research, I am ready to pronounce it a "Dog Day Cicada," scientifically known as Tibicen canicularis. Here's an image from Dave's Garden so you can judge for yourself. Note the green wings and green spot in the centre of the forehead.

All the photos I used for identification show solid-looking critters. My specimen seems a bit squisy and newly-hatched in comparison. Cicadas are normally heard and not seen, so it was fun to find one sitting in our Impatiens.

BRC day 3: the thrilling conclusion

The final day of BRC began when everyone arrived early to review figure-8 turns and quick stops. At the official class start time, we started the first of four new exercises. When we had finished learning those, we spent some time doing practice runs of the actual test course. Then we took a break. When we came back, one of our instructors was no longer acting as a teacher but as an official evaluator for the state of Minnesota.

Before we started the test, a fellow classmate said, "now it's the hard part." I said that this would be the easiest part. On every other exercise, we were learning something new, but the test was all things that we already knew how to do!

I was riding Alphonse again. We reviewed each part of the course before doing that section of the test. In order to earn our M endorsement, we had to successfully complete a figure-8 box, high-speed swerve, quick stop, and sharp turn. After all our practice I was feeling confident, but I still relaxed and concentrated all my attention on what I was doing, and I passed my behind-the-bars examination with points to spare.

I highly recommend the BRC to anyone who wants to learn to ride a motorcycle. The instructors were very friendly and helpful. They also did a great job at pacing for a class with riders of widely varying experience levels. Best of all, a shout-out to my instructors who waited after class when I realized I had brought the wrong paperwork, and a huge thanks to my wife who found my motorcycle permit and brought it to the course, without whom I would not now have an M endorsement on my driver's license.

We are okay

Quick update for our friends. My family was not on the road during the 35W bridge collapse last night. We are healthy and safe. Local news was asking people to stay off cell phones last night so I didn't return any calls, but we appreciate your concern. We are praying for everyone who was involved in this catastrophe.