CONFLICT AND CONCLUSION – THE BATTLE AT WHITINS POND

Oct 2012 - Swans

This was swan territory. Many geese live nearby on other ponds and along the banks of the many rivers and streams of the Blackstone River watershed. But this pond belonged to the swans and the swans and the geese, like the rival gangs in a turf war, don’t share.

The geese scouts are already in place, unbeknownst (apparently) to the swans.

Geese scouts watching

Swans will happily share their nesting grounds with ducks and divers. Herons pose a serious threat to smaller fowl (all fowl are smaller) because they will eat the eggs and (if they can get them) the young of ducks, geese and swans until the babies are big enough to defend themselves.

Herons are more solitary and like loons, build nests in places hard to find by people or and other birds.

Swan's Nest

This spring, the geese came to the pond. In an expansionist move that broke all previous treaties, they moved in and actually took over a nest belonging the a pair of lordly and bad-tempered swans. It was war. We were there when the geese conducted a surprise raid on the swans.

First assault on the nest

First, the geese surrounded the nest and infiltrated. Geese are faster, organized and more mobile than swans. Swans are bigger, heavier and hold grudges. Geese can take off and land easily from almost anywhere, land or water. Swans need a long running start across flat water to get airborne. They are virtually helpless on land, bodies so heavy they can barely waddle. They are disorganized. Swans aren’t good rank and file soldiers, but they compensate with long memories and seriously bad attitudes.

The geese surrounded the nest while one of the two swans was away. The timing was good for the geese. With only one swan to defend against the attack, the lone swan was out-flanked.

Swan defends

The battle continued while papa swan paddles back to the nest. But he’s taking far too long.

Battle rages Swans V Geese

Battle Rage Swans V Geese

The odds are not with the swan, alone, defending her turf. Where’s her partner? Paddling like mad, but he was on the far side of the pond … and will not be back in time.

So what happened? We came back. There were no sign of geese, but the swans were still there. They must have rebuilt a nest elsewhere, because there were more than the usual number of cygnets.

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Feeding happily, sharing space with Mama Duck and her ducklings.

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Taking the family for a stroll while papa duck keeps watch o’er the ramparts. No geese here!

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The kids venture out on their own. They are now big enough to defend themselves and are likely to survive to maturity. It’s not, mind you, that I have anything against the geese. But they have taken over the majority of ponds and lakes in the valley. There are far fewer sites where swans breed. If they can’t share space — and clearly, they can’t — than I’d prefer this place for swans and ducks.

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WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: BAD MOON RISING

There’s a bad moon rising over there, over the boats sitting at anchor on a flat sea. As the sun goes down, that giant moon hovers over all … making man and beast think strange thoughts … very strange …

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HE COULDN’T MASTER HIS JOHNSON*

armor-3Eddie was a sad man. An impotent man. Wandering the alleys and grocery store aisles. Hopeless, lost. “I can’t get no satisfaction!” he cried to the empty skies. “Is there no hope?” Salty tears dribbled down his grizzled cheeks and soaked his goatee.

Then, his prayers were answered. Help arrived. Pills. Blue pills. Orange pills. Yellow pills. Pills he could take to change Mr. Johnson into Sir Johnson, a swordsman, a powerful and manly tool to be reckoned with.

With a chemical arsenal at his command, Eddie could choose whatever best suited his plans.The blue pills gave him a few hours. The yellow ones, well, they could give him a whole day. Best of all were the orange ones. Mind blowing. He was Ever-Ready Eddie, the energizer bunny of studs.

Alas poor Eddie. He ignored the warnings. When his erection lasted more than four hours, he did not go to an emergency room or see a doctor. He kept going. Even when he heard the desperate calling of Johnson begging for mercy, for rest, Eddie wouldn’t stop.

When Johnson flagged, he would take another pill and party on.

The day of reckoning came. Following an erection he had maintained for far too long, Sir Johnson threw away his sword, removed his armor and tossed it to the ground.

“I’m done,” said Johnson. “I will rise no more.” Eddie was unready. His Johnson refused to engage. No amount of manual urging or chemical encouragement could get it to so much as look upward.

He couldn’t master his Johnson.

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* Robin Williams, on “The Crazy Ones.” I’m still laughing.

GEEKOGRAPHY: DOWN IN FLAMES WITH QUICKSAND AND ALLIGATORS

I’m pretty good with computers. I’m not an engineer, but I’m reasonably competent and not easily daunted. But, there comes a day for humility, when one finds oneself in the high-tech equivalent of quicksand. With grinning alligators on all sides.

PhotoshopIt started, as it so often does, with an update. An Adobe update to CS5. I have CS6, but when I installed it, the guy at Adobe suggested I just leave the earlier version on the computer (bad idea and I shouldn’t have listened). This arrangement was dodgy from the start. My system was never sure to which version it should default … and Adobe kept sending updates for both.

The moment this update downloaded, CS5 started throwing error messages about a missing DLL file and CS6 stopped working. I realized it was a bad download. Not the first bad download of my computer-using life. I didn’t panic, even though I wanted to scream. I calmly did what I usually do: I restored the computer to an earlier point, before the download. That pretty much always fixes the problem.

Not this time.

So I took a deep breath and tried reinstalling CS5, hoping that it would restore the missing DLL and all would be right on heaven and earth.

All of this took place while the Red Sox were whipping the Cardinals and winning the World Series at Fenway Park. A good thing because there isn’t anything more boring than uninstalling, installing, reinstalling and rebooting a computer. Repeatedly. For hours.

Photoshop is a big application, so whatever you are doing, it takes a while. When the reinstall failed, I bit the bullet and uninstalled CS5. Unfortunately, CS6 still wouldn’t load. So I uninstalled CS6. Then I rebooted. And rebooted again. Just to make sure.

Grateful for that I actual own the installation discs, I reinstalled CS5. My version of CS6 is an upgrade and won’t install unless it finds an earlier version of Photoshop (it turns out there’s a way around this, but I didn’t know it).  It installed. I took a deep breath, cheered for the Sox and went to bed.

I repeated the operation on my desktop, after which I decided to adjourn to the living room and relax. I took CS6 with me so I could install it on the laptop where I confidently believed I had already fixed the problem.

When I turned on my laptop, the Adobe updater popped up and without thinking, I clicked okay. At that moment, I knew I was doomed.

Down in flames. Not merely back to ground zero. Underground. Deep underground. I tried uninstalling CS5, but it threw errors up the wazoo. I tried (again) restoring to an earlier point. A much earlier point. Last week. When the world was young and innocent.

This brought back a shadow version of CS6. It looked like the application, except nothing worked. CS6 wouldn’t open. CS5 was dead. I could not uninstall either application. It suggested using the Adobe Cleaning Tool (download it from Adobe’s website). I used it. The situation got much worse.

I threw in the towel. I was in over my head. Far, far over my head. I had to do the thing I most dreaded. I had to call Tech Support.

First call. After 9 prompts, I am told it will be a 9 to 10 minute wait. I try to put the phone on speaker and hit END instead. I look at the dead telephone. Take a deep breath and dial again. Go through all of the prompts.

Second call. I’m told it will be a 4 to 6 minute wait. This time, I carefully find the speaker button and put the phone down and start to check my email. A minute later, I hear the sound of a human voice. Male. Actually, I’ve never gotten a woman at Adobe. Do they employ any? Just asking.

The guy isn’t listening. He’s got a script and he is determined to follow it, no matter what. He’s telling me to uninstall and I’m trying to tell him I can’t. Finally, he says I should wait a moment, he’ll be right back. Forty minutes later, annoying music commences and I realize he’s gone for good.

I reboot my computer and patiently, oh so patiently, call Adobe again.

Third call. The Charm! I get someone who listens (yay). “Did the previous technician do anything with your computer?”

“No,” I reply. “He said he’d be back, but when the music came on, I got the feeling he was gone for good.”

Chuckle. “Okay. I need you to … ”

He took over the computer. Eventually, we went deep into the soul of my laptop and extracted — one piece at a time — both versions of Photoshop. Nine gigs and more than 40,000 files. That’s right. 40,000. I didn’t know my recycle bin could hold that much. It took me almost 15 minutes to empty it. That’s a lot of files.

We then reinstalled CS6 and I discovered you don’t need the earlier version, just its serial number.

I hope all of you forgive me for not checking out your sites today. I was busy. Do I know how to have a good time or what?