August 2005

Bad eggs

The gopher snake eggs went bad some time ago, and now Pretzel’s second clutch isn’t looking viable: most of the eggs have collapsed.

I wonder if these girls are simply getting too old? Unfortunately, I didn’t get them as hatchlings, so I have no sure way of telling how old they are. I’ve had Tosh for four years and Pretzel for six.

New front page

A new front page design, with links to the most recent entries from all my sites, is now up. I’ve tested it on Internet Explorer this time.

(P.S. It’s my first successful cron job, too!)

More entries below »

Two-way satellite Internet comes to town

An ad in today’s paper announces the availability of two-way satellite Internet from Telebec (the phone company for the Quebec sticks; civilization gets Bell). Prices range from $65/month for 512/128 Kbps to $190/month for 2Mbps/500 Kbps (which is what I get now with cable, at $42/month). Plus, a two-year contract is required, as is a $399 (or $20/month) connection fee. Not in the least bit cheap, but at least equivalent-to-cable speeds are available in places without cable or DSL. So, in theory, we could move to an extremely isolated location and still have highspeed. I wonder what the latency is like.

See previous entry: Satellite Internet for the masses.

Google Talk

So, Google Talk. The app is Windows-only, but Jabber clients can also connect — on the Mac, you can use either iChat (Tiger only) or Adium. Either way, though, you need a Gmail account, and for that you need an invite. I have lots of invites, so if you’re interested, let me know. (Best if we’ve already met or exchanged messages before you ask for one, though.)

Changes at the paper

My former editor, whose behaviour forced me to resign from the local paper I used to work for, is apparently no longer working there; the reporter who replaced me was listed as the editor in this week’s paper, and there’s a want ad for a new reporter. (At that paper, the newsroom is comprised of one editor and one reporter, total.) I didn’t catch last week’s edition so I don’t know if this is an abrupt departure or under happier circumstances, like getting hired by a major daily — despite everything, I hope it’s the latter. I’m dying to find out what happened, and I’ll probably hear something eventually through the grapevine; I doubt, though, that it’d be prudent for me to share anything I learn with you here.

At some point I’ll write about my experiences at that paper, but not just yet.

Feeding time

I mentioned yesterday that the landlord’s daughter looked after our apartment when we were off in the Maritimes. She was basically housesitting for the cats, frog, turtle and fish; one of the advantages of snakes is that they can be left alone for a week or two with very little risk. She was a trooper, but a little ambivalent about the snakes. Not to worry, we said: just change their water if they foul it and make sure they have enough of it; she wouldn’t have to feed them or touch them.

But curiosity persisted, especially among those who visited with her, viz., her younger brother and her boyfriend. So on Wednesday night we invited them over to watch us feed the snakes.

Watching snakes eat is always popular, and inevitably draws crowds. It’s not just that they get a perverse thrill out of watching them snuff the life out of some inoffensive little animal, as a city official once declared to me during by-law negotiations. It’s the amazement that the snake can eat something that big, and can do it without chewing, biting off into pieces, or table manners. It’s one thing to explain how a snake’s skull is flexible and can disjoint itself in several places where a human skull is fused together, quite another to see it in action.

So of course they ate up seeing the snakes eat up, especially the rat eaters, who looked about ready to explode. The gopher snakes went off their feed again (sigh), so their adult mice were redistributed; the Baird’s rat snake got one, after his hopper mouse, and looked enormous thereafter.

But it wasn’t just the ability to eat something huge, either; it was the speed with which snakes attacked their meals. Many of these snakes don’t move around real fast otherwise, so it was a bit of an eye-opener to see them strike (and in some cases constrict) in an instant.

All in all, they were transfixed. This is the sort of thing that will make us very popular with the local kids, and quite possibly very unpopular with their mothers.

On vacation

Back Tuesday afternoon from our spur-of-the-moment trip to the Maritimes; I’ve been recovering ever since. It took place because of a convergence of fortunate happenstances: the landlord’s daughter was willing to housesit and people were available to visit. So off we went on Sunday the 7th.

We spent the week at Jen’s parents’ in Hampton, which is outside Saint John, New Brunswick. During that time we did the family thing, met up with Andrea for the first time in nearly 15 years, and visited St. Andrews, Jen’s old stomping ground for eight consecutive summers.

From there, off to Halifax last Saturday to visit with Jennifer and Andrew, who treated us to the Busker’s Festival and a trip to Lunenburg.

Then, Monday, to Fredericton — or just outside it — to catch up with Jen’s friend Elaine, whom she’d not seen in years, and her family.

Bit of a whirlwind, but everything went smoothly, much to my surprise: things are not supposed to fall into place like that.

Photos are slowly being uploaded here; I’ll let you know when I’m finished.

Wrong way

A man arrested for speeding down the wrong side of the Queensway a little less than two weeks ago is in even more trouble: last Sunday, when he was being taken by police to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation, he apparently stabbed one officer in the throat, and then, during the ensuing chaos, managed to free himself and drive off in the police cruiser, reverting to form as he raced down the wrong side of Autoroute 50 in Gatineau. In both instances he was forced off the road by police; both incidents resulted in a slough of charges. As Sheriff Buford T. Justice would say, “Woof.”