My Blog

I suppose that this is really a blog, though I hesitate to call it that. The real bloggers seem so much more interesting. I cover stuff which I find interesting, and I hope that you will too.

If you really want, you can get an RSS feed of Chateau Gladstone news here:

For more information about what I'm interested in, see the Ponding pages.

Topic: Pond   Wildwater World Championships  22 Jul 2007

We just returned from Charlotte, NC to watch our niece (Olivia Churchill - GBR) compete in the Junior Wildwater World Championships (Kayak). She ended up with 2 bronze medals for individual classes, and one gold for a team class. The Charlotte races were held at the US National Whitewater Center which has a completely manmade course suitable for the short sprint races. Apparently the water is swimming pool clean -- and there are some enormous pumps that pump it round to generate the raging torrent to kayak down. The photo shows Olivia on her second run (the sprint races involve adding the times from two runs together) which led to one of her bronze medals.

USAir managed to cancel our (8 am) flight down to Charlotte on Friday morning and couldn't get us there until 8pm -- by which time we had missed the team race.

For a full trip report from my sister's point of view (she was travelling with the British team), see her trip report.

Topic: Pond   Hats off to Tilley Endurables  11 Jul 2006

I have worn a Tilley hat (a size 8⅛ T3) for 15 years or so, and it finally wore out after too many visits to the washing machine. I wanted to get a couple of new hats, so I got the catalog, and measured my head, and ordered two (a TH5 and an LTM6). I was somewhat suprised that the sizing guide ended up with me being a 7. Of course, the hats showed up and were too small -- well, actually they fitted on my head, but were too tight (they are supposed to be held on by gravity and not by pressure on the forehead).

I shipped them back, asking for a size 8 (which is what my old T3 had shrunk to). On a whim, I put the tattered remains of the T3 in the box, along with a note requesting replacement. I know that they say that their hats are warranteed for life, but I had no idea if it would actually work.

Imagine my suprise, when, a week later, a box arrived with three size 8 hats: T3 (replacement for my 15 year old hat), and the correct sizes of LTM6 and TH5. These guys come highly recommended.

Topic: Pond   Web Crawlers and Content Compression  6 Jul 2006

Since I managed to get content-compression working on my web server (which was way harder than it ought to have been), I have noticed that most of the web crawlers do not make use of it. However, the googlebot and Yahoo Slurp both do enable compression, so it is possible.

I have started sending email to all the contact points that I can find when spiders reach my website. One implemented compression within hours, one discovered that they had a bug which prevented it from working, and a couple more are looking into implementing it. The rest have yet to reply.

I have now built an automatic Hall of Shame page that lists the current sinners. What you don't see from this page is that many crawlers do support compression. The suprising thing is that some flavors of IE 6.0 don't appear to do compression.

Topic: Pond   Polyphemus Ecloses and Cecropia mates  10 Jun 2005

The female crecopia attracted two males to the screened porch where she was being kept. At least one of them was wild (as I had only released one male at that point). More interestingly, the wild male that hung around was significantly larger than my captive raised ones. I suspect that I was not feeding the caterpillars the right food. In particular, I have been told that the trees that I thought were Cherry are actually Pear.

The female then mated for almost 24 hours (not bad to mate for 10% of your lifespan). I have now put her in a paper bag to lay her eggs.

Today two polyphemus eclosed. This is the female (you can tell by the thin antennae), and I let the male go. We will see if she attracts a mate overnight.

Topic: Pond   The first batch of Silk Moths have eclosed  8 Jun 2005

Today, three Cecropia moths eclosed (aka hatched). I got the caterpillars in June 2004, watched them grow, and then make their cocoons in the late summer of 2004. Suprisingly, they survived the winter and are now emerging. Yesterday, I had a single male, and today two more males and a female.

The photograph is of one of the males. The wire netting he is sitting on has quarter inch squares, so you can get some idea of the scale. Yes, they have a 5-6 inch wingspan.

The males want to fly off and mate, and the females just hang around for the males to arrive. Unfortunately, we had over an inch of rain this evening, so I haven't put the males out to fly. They are native species here in New England, so they may find a mate and start another cycle.

Topic: Pond   Bluebird boxes actually work!  22 Apr 2005

I was given a couple of bluebird boxes for Christmas, and I finally got around to mounting them in the yard. Of course, they are supposed to be spaced 100 yards apart (and 100 yards from my other two bluebird boxes). This design rule went out of the window!

The collected Internet wisdom was that the entrance hole should be deep to keep out predators -- so I screwed a piece of 2x4 to the front (with the approved 1.5 inch hole). Why don't they come that way?

For the last three days, I have evicted a sparrow from one box (by removing the start of their nest). This morning, the other nest box had a pair of bluebirds popping in and out. Not (yet) building a nest, but scouting out good locations.

I had intended to mount a camera in one of the boxes so that we could watch what was going on -- I'll have to move that project up the priority list.

Topic: Pond   Frogs on the Ice  3 Jan 2005

It has been unseasonably warm here over the last few days (reached 60F) -- the pond is still covered with ice, but there is some open water round the edge. Two frogs (that we saw) climbed out onto the ice to survey the scene. Unfortunately, sitting on ice is not good for a cold blooded animal, and they stop moving pretty quickly.

We rescued the two frogs and put them back into the water where they seemed a lot happier. When we picked up the frogs, they felt very cold to the touch. I guess that they were not far above freezing.

Topic: Pond   We've Moved!  31 Jul 2004

We have finally moved to our new home. We have a new, larger, pond with an assortment of wildlife. We moved the majority of our fish from the old pond to the new pond, and we have hardly seen them since. The bad news is that we saw (twice) a snapping turtle in the new pond -- whose diet is fresh fish. Photographs will follow soon once the house is somewhat more in order!

The weather stuff is all shut down for now until I get the mast installed again. I'm hopeful that the pondcam can be made to go again, but it seems unlikely that it will ever see any fish. I reckon that that new pond is around 1,000,000 gallons, so the chance of seeing anything is small!

If anybody wants to buy the old house (with working fishpond and some fish), then please call our realtor.

Topic: Pond   The Hummingbirds are back  11 Jun 2004

The hummingbirds came back. We have (at least) one pair -- they were displaying the other night.

This picture is not that good, but the light was fading when I took it. I think that in more light, I'd get a shorter exposure and more depth of field.

Topic: Pond   The pondcam will be moving soon  6 Jun 2004

We are selling our house -- the open house is today. We will be moving to another house which has a much larger pond. The pondcam will be back once we complete the move.

The new pond will be so much larger that I am worried that the pondcam will never see any fish at all. It may take a couple of seasons for them to breed up enough! We will be taking our existing goldfish and shubunkins (those that we can catch), and the new owners will probably end up with all the 2004 babies!



Information about SPF (Sender Permitted From)

Open source audio/video streaming software -- this drives my pondcam

The Doc Searls weblog -- he seems clueful and I read him.

Neat description of the Gunnera Manicata -- a truly monstrous plant!

The Citizen Weather Observer Program is a loose collection of amateur weather station operators.

Open source server for the Rio Receiver -- this is what I use.

Philip Gladstone