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Duck Patrol

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On my way home today, I stopped by our neighborhood gas station to fill up the tank. As I was leaving, I noticed a mother duck and four ducklings walking along the curb of the shopping center driveway. They were making a lot of noise. The mother was cluck-cluck-clicking, and the ducklings were cheep-cheep-cheeping.

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They were standing pretty close to a storm drain. Then a car came whizzing by and one of the ducklings jumped into the storm drain! I went over to the storm drain and found six ducklings at the bottom!

So I rushed home and recruited Audrey and Sydney, who were eager to help. We got some buckets and brooms and some rope and went back to the shopping center. By that time, a couple of other people were gathered around, and they said they had called the Cary Police.

We went ahead and lifted the storm drain grate and one lady climbed in, carrying a bucket. One by one, she lured them close and plucked them up and into the bucket!

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The Policeman finally showed up, and we went looking for the mother duck and the other three ducklings. They could’ve been in the woods or near one of the storm drains. We finally spotted them in the pond across the street.

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So we carried our bucket to the pond. When we got close, the mother heard the ducklings cheeping and she ran over to us. Sydney laid the bucket down sideways in the grass and we all backed away. The mother duck ran to us, quacking like crazy, and all of the ducklings started cheeping even louder. The mother went to the bucket and then escorted them all down the grass and into the pond. And then they swam away in a tight formation, all nine babies clinging closely behind the mother.

Sydney said that it was the best day ever!

NCSU Library

I attended NC State University twice: 1986 – 1991 and 1997 – 2000. At that time, the library was no-nonsense, spartan and downright dull. I tried not to spend much time there.

Today, we were in that area of town, so I decided to show the kids around the campus. I knew they’d enjoy the view from the 9th floor, so we went to the library.

Wow… to say that they have renovated it would be an understatement. It looks nothing like the library that I knew.

Take a look for yourself.


Computer kiosks


Tasteful decorations


Large-Screen Video Games


Computer Cabanas


Comfy study areas


The Conservatory


The Gallery


The Creamery – an ice cream shop

Amazing… I think this sort of visual stimulation helps the mind work better, and I am happy to see the library’s new look. Go, Wolfpack!

Firefox plug-in: SyncPlaces

Early last year, I decided that my tired old HP laptop wanted to retire, and I started shopping for a new one. However, before I could find a suitable replacement, I discovered the Asus Eee PC, and I knew that I had to have one.

It did not make a lot of sense to buy a new laptop and a new Eee PC as well, so I held off buying a laptop. Over time, the Eee PC became my primary machine. Sometimes, I would plug in an external monitor and mouse and keyboard. And other times, I would just use it by itself. After a while, I migrated all of my old stuff off of the laptop and onto a mini- file server, and I eventually left the tired old laptop powered off.

I started using the HP laptop again when I started working from home, but I never really installed anything other than NX. On a whim, I installed the latest Ubuntu, Jaunty Jackalope (9.04), and that really breathed new life into the tired old laptop.

So now I find myself strattling the fence, sometimes using the tired old (but rejuvinated) HP laptop, and sometimes using the Eee PC. Since I keep most of my important stuff on an encrypted thumb drive, it was pretty easy to switch back and forth.

But there was one thing missing… my Firefox bookmarks.

I don’t like the idea of storing my stuff (tax records, email, bookmarks, or anything else) on a site like Google or xmarks (formerly foxmarks). So I went looking for a plug-in that would allow me to synchronize my bookmarks among multiple machines, but use my own server for storage.

SyncPlaces does a pretty good job of that.

It can sync using FTP (yuck) or https (yay) to a WebDAV-enabled server. It only took a few minutes to figure out WebDAV, and pretty soon I had the same bookmarks on the HP laptop and on the Eee PC.

Thumbs Up : Red Box

Our family does not watch a lot of TV, so when we gather around the tube for a movie, it’s a real treat.

This week, we rented two movies from the “Red Box” video rental service at our local grocery store. I am really pleased with their service.

  • The price is very reasonable: $1.07 for one night.
  • The selection is good.
  • I can check movie availability and make reservations from the web.
  • No membership necessary… just swipe a credit card when you rent.
  • There are plenty of locations to choose from.
  • I can return the movies as late as 9pm the next day.
  • I can return the movies to any Red Box location.
  • Checkout and return confirmation can be emailed to you.

These guys have really done it right. I hope they stick around.

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