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Not So Fair Hare in Fairbanks

For about two weeks, I’ve been meaning to write about the plight of Jean McDermott and the feral rabbits. Her story—told on her blog, Jean’s Northern Niche—started last November, when someone “let loose their domestic rabbits in my neighborhood“. Oh. Oh. “They have proliferated, to say the least”. Jean, who lives in Fairbanks, Alaska, notes that a good breeding pair of rabbits can produce—get this—”13 MILLION young (the young breed as young as four months) within three years”.

She makes clear that feral rabbits, “eat EVERYTHING…Just do a Google search on ‘rabbit population’ to see what a terribly destructive power rabbits can be. Here in Alaska they are dealing with the sub-zero temperatures just fine, too”. 

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Movie Time

About a month ago, we switched out the Windows Media Center PC for a TiVo. Of course, what good is a TiVo without a TV to connect to? Quite good, it turns out. Rather than go back to a PC, we returned to a projector.

I shopped around before buying the projector, for which the sale of the Dell Media Center PC paid. Choice—and not the best, but appropriate for the family’s budget: Optoma MovieTime DV10. The picture quality isn’t nearly as wow as I expected, but the overall big-screen experience is more than good enough. No means is it perfect, but perfection we demand spending heaps more money. MovieTime sells for $999. 

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Homeschooling as a Lifestyle Choice

Yesterday’s New York Times story, “The Gilded Age of Home Schooling“, looks at the practice from a lifestyle choice. The lead gets right to the point: “In what is an elite tweak on homeschooling—and a throwback to the gilded days of education by governess or tutor—growing numbers of families are choosing the ultimate in private school: hiring teachers to educate their children in their own homes”.

Well, that sure blows the hell out of homeschooling as a religious or philosophical choice. And I agree with the Times take. The tutor approach often is about lifestyle, such as people who travel. “Many say they have no argument with ordinary education—it just does not fit their lifestyle”. 

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My Stay in Monaco

This week I’m in San Francisco. It’s a work trip, visiting companies that want to know more about Windows Vista and Office 2007. Today, the big question, “When will Windows Vista ship?” I advised betting against January 2007.

Anyway, my posh hotel sucks. I had a heck of a time finding a place in downtown San Francisco with rooms available for all three days of my business trip. I scoured online services like Expedia and and then directly called Marriott and Starwood, for which I am members of their “rewards” programs. Based on a Marriott recommendation, I ended up at the Monaco, a Kimpton hotel that is a few blocks off Union Square—for $300 a night! Geez. 

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Bunny Post Mortem

Bubba’s demise may have been caused by contact with a cat. In my last post, I identified bacteria as one possible cause for the baby bunny’s death.

On Saturday night, hours after adopting Bubba, I sent an e-mail to Second Chance Wildlife Center, which is where we would have taken the bunny for care. Last night, Chris from Second Chance e-mailed advice about Bubba. Apparently, she didn’t know that I had called earlier in the day. With her permission, here is the e-mail, which contains information potentially useful to other people with distressed, wild baby bunnies.

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Burying Bubba

Bubba’s little life ended this morning. We awoke to find the orphaned bunny cold and listless. My daughter held Bubba to warm it, while I phoned the local animal rehabilitator. She advised to immediately bring Bubba in for care. But the bunny died before we could even leave the house. We later wrapped Bubba in a cloth and buried it in the backyard. May the bunny rest in peace.

Bubba’s demise could have come from a number of different factors or a combination of them. I’d like to list some of them and offer advice for anyone coming across a seemingly abandoned bunny (in our case, we didn’t find Bubba). 

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This morning I got a delightful call at 10:03. Penn Camera had received, finally, my 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 G ED-IF AF-S VR DX Zoom-Nikkor lens. I’ve been waiting for this lens since getting the Nikon D200. This evening I carried the lens out on a bunny watch. Some evenings, my wife, daughter and I watch the furballs frolic in the neighborhood across the main street.

We bumped into two ladies (they looked like a couple) trying to find a home for an abandoned bunny. One of the ladies carried the kitten, she called Bubba, cupped in her hand. His story: Yesterday, the ladies’ cat brought home the baby bunny, apparently without injury. The women fed Bubba diluted Half `n Half by way of eye dropper. Last night, after seeing that the animal was OK, the women put the baby out in their yard. But they were uncertain of the nest’s location. Today, their neighbor found the baby on his lawn while mowing. 

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Arctic’s Balmy Past

New York Times stepped back on the global warming soapbox today with “Studies Portray Tropical Arctic in Distant Past“. The Times reports on three papers published today in Nature, to which—damnit—I am not a subscriber.

The 2004 Arctic Coring Expedition (ACEX) recovered 430-meter sea floor sediment core that provides a 56-million year snapshot of the Earth’s weather. And whoa, get this, “55 million years ago the Arctic Ocean was much warmer than scientists imagined—a Floridian year-round average of 74 degrees” (23.3 degrees Celsius), according to the Times. Whoa, break out the lawn chairs. That’s July weather back home in Maine.

Reports of an ancient, hot Arctic—presumably because of greenhouse gases—are sure to foster theories about global warming. Public sentiment about global warming doesn’t make it fact. Global warming is a theory, and it’s one I skeptically view. 

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Starry Eyes

Maybe one reason we can’t elect a reasonable president is because so many people would rather vote for an American Idol. According to an Associated Press story over on CNN, Americans cast 63 million votes—”more than any president in the history of our country has received”—to pick Taylor Hicks as the new American Idol.

I chuckle at the absurdity of the show’s concept. Talent isn’t good singing. Real talent is songwriting and musical ability. Even a bad singer can have a pretty big hit with a really good song. But even the best singer will fail if the material is no good. Some American Idol failures, like, uh, William Hung, went on to success because of bad singing. 

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Nworb Nad

The new issue of The New Yorker arrived today. We started subscribing last month after getting a full-year offer for 25 bucks. I do read the copy and not just peruse the cartoons.

In the current, May 29, issue, Anthony Lane makes mush of ridiculous book, the Da Vinci Code—and his objective was to review the movie! I consider the Dan Brown novel to be the worst fiction book I’ve read or likely will ever read. The writing has no style, the plot follows (yawn, yawn) obvious paths and the history is nonsense (and I say that with no gripe about Jesus marrying Mary M.). Anthony does better ripping the book than I did. 

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I couldn’t not watch “24” this season, because the plot got so ridiculous there was need to see what would happen next. Each episode I hoped for better. Now, after 24 disappointing hours, I’m starting to feel like a drug addict hoping the next fix will finally satisfy.

Bad as things were, the show’s writers ended the season with the worst kind of cliffhanger. Good `ol Jack Bauer got captured by the Chinese. I guess the American president and Russian terrorists weren’t tough enough. Now, “24” addicts must wait until January 2007—eight freaking months—to see what happens to beaten and kidnapped Jack on Day 6. Geez. 

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When I was 12, after school every day, my best friend and I would go to the local five and dime for Coke at the soda fountain. We’d sit on stools and share the drink, purchased for a nickel, using separate straws. His dad and mom worked at a different school, respectively, as principal and teacher. We would wait until they came for him. Day after day.