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: Weather   Is winter ending?  12 Mar 2006

The ice has finally melted from the pond, and all the snow has gone. Our thoughts are turning to spring and summer projects -- including ice cream. We have put together a list of Birthday Icecream Flavors that tell you what your special flavor is, based on the your birth month.

Topic: Weather   First big storm storm of the season  9 Dec 2005

We received 13.5 inches of snow today. I guess that the snow started at about 7 AM. At 8 AM we had between 1 and 2 inches. We then received another 12.5 during the day till it tapered off at about 4 PM. The total is 13.5. You may wonder how that can work out -- it is because the later snow compresses the earlier snow. See the Snow Measurement Guide for the full gory details of how snow measuring should be done.

If you are interested in measuring snow, then check out CWOP Snow Measuring to see what you need to do.

The major problem with performing these measurements (apart from having to go outside in the cold weather) is trying to find a suitable ruler -- it should be marked in tenths of an inch. These are very hard to come by in the US.

Topic: Internet Radio   Flight 93 Memorial Project  19 Jul 2005

A family friend (Laurel McSherry) entered the national competition for the Flight 93 Memorial that will be built. She got through to the final round, and is one of the five finalists. I urge you to visit the Flight 93 Memorial Project site where they have details of the final round projects. Laurel's project is 'Fields, Forests and Fences' -- I like it, but I did get a personal pitch as to its merits! I particularly like the fact that each visitor gets the chance to leave their own message behind -- in the form of a tag attached to a specially designed fence.

As a side note, the website is (I think) poorly designed. It is difficult to figure out what are links to more detailed information, and some of the PDF files have been converted in such a way that you cannot actually read the text. Also, when I tried to leave a comment, I got dropped into an administrative interface to all the comments (though I couldn't actually make it work).

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: Weather   GEOURL is back online  4 Mar 2005

GEOURL is a neat website that has come back online after a long period of downtime. It allows you to find websites by geographical proximity. For example, these are the websites near me.

I notice that DeviantArt has local users. I must confess that I really don't understand it, even though my niece has a gallery.

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: Weather   CWOP makes it into the New York Times  30 Dec 2004

CWOP is the Citizen Weather Observer Program. This is a loose network of amateur weather station operators who feed their data into NOAA's Forecast Systems Laboratory. From their it moves all over the map.

The New York Times had a nice article entitled Hobbyists Fill Out the Weather Map which told some of the personal stories behind the technology.

This is relevant to me as I run the Weather Data Quality service. This takes data from the FSL and reformats it and then e-mails it to weather station operators as requested. The data shows how their station readings compare with the surrounding stations. This often allows the operator to spot problems with their sensors.

Topic: Phone   Voice over IP experiences  16 Aug 2004

We decided to go with VoicePulse for a VoIP provider. The outcome has been mixed. When the quality is good, it is essentially indistinguishable from a regular landline. However, it is more common to get dropouts -- bringing the quality down to a not very good cellphone call.

I use WonderShaper to provide traffic shaping on my broadband connection (Comcast). This fixed the interaction between surfing and voice calls. However, we still get significant dropouts. The cause appears to be packet loss somewhere in NYC -- this is based on running traceroute at the troublesome moments.

On the upside, the service is cheap -- but it sounds that way too.



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

Information about SPF (Sender Permitted From)

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

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

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

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

Philip Gladstone