What I Learned in 2021 Week 4

The White House animals have a Twitter account.

Cloth measuring tapes can be wrong out of the package. Like, vastly wrong. Off by an 1/8″ per inch. Better measure them against a known ruler when you open them up.

You can look at the original topo maps of Switzerland! This is fun.

I may not survive Zoom school this year. God help us if we don’t get back to school by next September.

I learned (really learned, not just “kinda sorta”) what a Primary Source is. I’ve always been a bit confused about whether newspaper reporting (or digital news reporting now) can be considered “primary.” Yes, it can, as long as the reporter is speaking/writing to actually-observed events. Anderson Cooper, as an Anchor at the desk is not doing my primary reporting. Tia Mitchell, who was actually there, is a primary source for actions that took place in the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.

It is exceptionally weird to be awoken at 2:30 AM by the local tornado sirens but it be otherwise completely silent. No rain. No wind. Fortunately, no damage either, at least around here. We all piled downstairs into Jacob’s room, including the cat, who seemed delighted to have all his people together in one spot.

Turns out there are at least three, maybe four, tornado sirens within earshot of my house. I’ve only heard two of them before.

Actually turns out there are five sirens within 2.5 miles of my house, ranging from 1.3 to 2.4 miles away. Given last night’s noise conditions, we probably heard all of them.

Birdhouse sales and accoutrements are a complete scam! At least, the majority of items that I hit upon a google search are entirely devoted to $$ rather than helping a homeowner attract birds. For example: “build a birdhouse from scrap lumber” gets you some good information. “How to erect a birdhouse/mount a birdhouse” or many other searches get you pages with responses such as:

Mounting Mechanism: How the house is mounted affects its safety and security. Many birdhouses are designed to be attached to a tree, building, or pole where they will be stable and comfortable to birds. Some designs can also be hung with hooks, wires, ropes, or chains. Some birds don’t mind a bit of swinging, though other species will avoid less stable houses. To be safe, research the mounting mechanism your backyard birds prefer before putting up the house.

While that paragraph is accurate, it’s also useless and it is representative of the web sources out there.

If you do a lot of digging you eventually find authoritative sources such as the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Nest Watch website, where I finally found good information. BUT! Even there, while searching for information on HOW TO MOUNT THE DAMN BIRDHOUSE, it wasn’t until I accidentally clicked on one of their YouTube links that I finally got good, experienced advice on the fastest/easiest/cheapest way to install a birdhouse on a pole. What I found most gratifying about this accidental click is that I’d finally sat down a brainstormed on how I was going to put these birdhouses up (on poles) and decided that electrical conduit and conduit brackets were the way to go. Their YouTube video agrees and further advises on a quick method for getting the pole into the ground, which is a #4 rebar, pounded with a mallet into the ground, used as a base for the conduit pipe.

Online purpose-built equipment for birdhouse pole mounting starts at $50 and goes rapidly up from there and honestly most of it looks like chincy crap that will fall apart or be difficult to install. However, 10 feet of 1/2″ electrical conduit, a pack of 25 double hole conduit straps, a 4′ section of rebar, a coupler, a bunch of screws and a sledgehammer will run you about $30. Then, you’re only paying $9 for each birdhouse for a piece for conduit and rebar until you run out of conduit straps. Throw in the cost for an inexpensive drill, and you’re still under $100, which puts you ahead of the more costly pole options available from bird-specific markup houses.

There is a fun, modular, diy dungeon terrain system.

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