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The Bluebird Saga Continues…

First we had eggs (be sure to click on the pic to go to the larger sized shadowboxed version for each one of these):

5 Bluebird Eggs

All of those eggs were duds, so those disappeared, then we had five more eggs. Won’t post another pic, since the second batch of eggs looked just like the first. 😀

The second batch of eggs finally hatched, about 15 days after the fifth egg was laid:

"Feed Me, Seymore!" :D

I swear, baby birds are probably the only critters in the animal kingdom that are just plain ugly when they’re babies. Most other baby animals you see them and go “Oh, they’re JUSTSOCUUUUUTE!” but not baby birds, they’re always these scrawny little things.

Once Big Mouth there realized that we weren’t Mama, he hunkered down like his nestmates and played possum until we put the nest back in the box.

Checked on them a couple of days ago to see how they were progressing:

Birdies, looking slightly more birdlike.

Still pretty scrawny, but at least they’ve got some feathers now and look a little more like real birds. Should have heard them as we were coming up on the nest, five little constant peeps and chirps, until we opened the door to the birdhouse, then it was like someone flipped a switch and turned them off. Pretty funny.

But today we had some birdie anxiety. Two of the babies made a break out of the nest this afternoon. I guess parent birds force the issue by not bringing them food for a day or so to force them to leave the nest, and today was the day. Unfortunately, there are a lot of outdoor neighborhood cats, so since the little guys were still too young to fly, we were a bit concerned that they were sitting ducks – or in this case, bluebirds – until they were able to flutter along the ground to get under the cover of the bushes in the yard.

Of all days for me to have sent my camcorder in for repairs, grumble. I’ve got a great Nikon that does a fantastic job with pics and clips, but since I’ve been using the camcorder for most of the last year, the battery was dead. Neither of my 2 PDAs with cameras were charged, either, and I’m sitting here going “With all these early generation cameras I’ve got in the house, I’ve got NOTHING that I can capture the birds leaving the nest?!?!”

Fortunately found my old cheap Visioneer in a drawer, discovered that it didn’t require a memory stick since it had some internal memory built in, and all it needed was a pair of AA batteries, and it was good to go. So was able to go outside and snap a few pictures in between getting eaten alive by the mosquitoes (7 bites on one leg, 5 on the other; they don’t itch too badly yet, but I know they will in a couple of days). Since I hadn’t used the camera in a while (I didn’t have the drivers for the camera loaded on this PC, so it had to have been at least 7 years, when I still had my old computer, since I last used this one), took me about 45 minutes to figure out how to get the pics off the camera memory. Now I know why I bought a new camera to replace this one; it didn’t take very good pictures. But at least I got ONE that came out okay.

RIP Birdie! :(

Kinda sad though, this little guy actually didn’t make it. :( Don’t know if he got hurt when he dropped from the nest, or what happened, but he never made it into the bushes to hide. I saw a big ole blackbird pecking away at something and as soon as it fluttered, I knew it was the baby bird. I got there to chase the blackbird away, and knew the little guy was done for the way he was lying on his back. Didn’t want to just leave him there for the blackbird or a cat to come back and finish off, and I figured I couldn’t hurt him anymore now, so got a shovel and a dustpan to move him to the bushes myself. By the time I got back to him, he was already a goner. :(

A second birdie had dropped out of the nest while I was out there shooting that earlier pic, don’t know how HE fared, and unless anyone left the nest after dark tonight, there should be 3 more birdies leaving it tomorrow at some point. Hope they have better luck.

Whoda thunk that putting up a bluebird house could be so stressful? Oy.

Geek Alert – new computer installed!

If you’ve been following my tweets at all, you already know that the new PC that I’ve been holding off on buying (an HPE-240f), waiting for the perfect deal, finally got bought last week. Amazon made me an offer I just couldn’t refuse, $140 off their regular price. Ended up buying the matching monitor directly from HP, with their free shipping and after a few online discounts, Amazon just couldn’t beat the price. So the ONE time I actually need a new PC and a new monitor at the same time, I ended up buying them from two different companies.

But between the 12 months same as cash from Amazon, and the 6 months same as cash from HP, got what I needed without having to break into my bank account, so it’s all good.

Both the PC and the monitor arrived ahead of schedule, came in this past Thursday. Left everything in their happy little smiling Amazon boxes until Saturday, when I figured I’d be spending most of the day pulling out my 7 year old upgraded to the max Vaio, and putting in the new HP.

[be sure to click on the pics for a larger shadowboxed version of the lot of them.]

I wasn’t really expecting any problems putting the new PC in, the part I dreaded was unhooking and unplugging 7 years of hardware and cables from the back of the Vaio and on the floor under my desk. Would YOU want to deal with this mess? :-O

But I loaded up my 5 disc CD changer with a bunch of John Barrowman CDs, and got started. What a mess, but I kept plugging (no pun intended) away at it, until I was able to get the Vaio tower completely detached and off the desk, and all the cables at least SOMEWHAT identified. A roll of masking tape and a sharpie are a geek’s best friend in a situation like this.

FOUR hours, 3 and a half Barrowman CDs, and several Swiffer dustcloths later, mission finally accomplished! All the old stuff pulled, unplugged, and identified. Wow. Empty deskspace, what a novel concept!

After taking that long to get the old PC out, it only took about an hour to hook the new HP up. Nice to have both the PC and the monitor be HP, they played very nicely with each other. Had been a bit concerned about the 23 inch monitor, it turned out to be a LOT wider than I was expecting, and even being a flat screen, I wasn’t sure how it would fit on my desk in place of the 19 inch CRT that fit in the empty space like it was made for it. But it worked out okay. May have to slide it a bit to the left to open the hutch and access my printer, but since I don’t print all that much, won’t be much of an issue, I don’t think.

Didn’t take too long to get the basic peripherals (modem, router, speakers) hooked up, and I was online and posting my first tweet by about 6:30 or so.

Later after dinner, I got the cable connection hooked up to the TV tuner, and the IR receiver for the remote (yeah, the media center area of the PC uses a remote control that rivals any of the ones we have upstairs) clipped onto the top of the monitor and test drove the media center area. Actually tried streaming a Netflix movie this morning, and it looked pretty darn amazing. Even if it WAS Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. (“I know you are, but what am I!?!” 😀 Will have to sit down and watch the rest of it soon, if I remember right, that movie was pretty darn funny.)

Also didn’t take long to figure out that right off the bat there were going to be several things that I needed to pull off the old PC, like email settings and a few passwords for some online stuff. Which I’d planned for and had already bought a KVM (keyboard, video, mouse) switch to allow me to have 2 computers hooked up but still use the same monitor, mouse, and keyboard. So that was my first order of business this morning, getting the Vaio hooked up side by side with the HP. Took a little more thinking on my part than the initial hookup yesterday, but after much gnashing of teeth, had both PCs up and running at the same time.

Next to take care of this week is to make sure all the other wireless things in the house (Roku box, Wii, the PC upstairs, my laptop, etc.) can still access the internet. And get rid of all the crapware that HP preinstalled on the system (the Decrapifier apparently will do a great job of that). Then start installing programs and games that I had on my old PC that I already miss. Put a few on already tonight, so it’s already starting to feel more like “home”.

Definitely noticed a HUGE difference in what video the HP can handle vs the Vaio. I’ve got a Sony HD camcorder that generates raw m2t high definition video files, and the Vaio couldn’t touch them, it would play back a second and then the video would always freeze up. To play them back on the old PC, I’d have to convert them to mpg2 first and then play them back that way. The HP? Plays back the m2ts without batting an eye, and off an external hard drive no less. I played back some of the footage I shot at the U2 concert last September, and it looked and played absolutely amazingly. So I am thrilled with the new PC so far.

My only fear is finding out that a lot of my older software won’t play nicely with the fact that I’m now running 64 bit Windows 7. Already had one program refuse to install, but I’ve already been in touch with the company about a fix, and while it’s still not running yet, it’s at least installed now. I figure I’ll be emailing for a LOT of tech support in the next month or so, trying to beat some of the more stubborn programs into submission. So we’ll see how that goes.