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Stop! In the name of love! (Beekeeping part 4)

April 24, 2018

We did the second hive inspection today on our captured swarm. We got all the loose comb (read: built onto the box lid) tied into frames, and everyone into a shiny new hive.

There was lots of comb, honey, and pollen…but no brood! That means no queen.

We’ve decided provisionally to combine this hive with our new nuc when we pick it up in early May. While we could buy and install a new queen, all the delivery dates fall AFTER when we could have it merge with our purchased nuc.  In other words, we pick up bees 5/11. Merge by 5/14. Earliest queens available 5/15.  Might as well go with plan A. (Edited to add: Yes, we could give them a frame of brood comb once we get the new bees, so they could raise their own queen…but that also takes time, so I don’t think that’ll work.)

And then….THEY SWARMED ON ME!

Swarm of bees!

They were SO pissed off at us for all the meddling and moving, they swarmed out of the hive and back onto the treehouse where we’d first caught them.

We recaptured them – this was very easy, as this hive is very gentle, and swarming bees in general aren’t aggressive – and dumped them back in their lovely new hive, this time with a lemongrass lure. So MAYBE they’ll stay put.

We also put out our old lure hive with another lemongrass lure, so we’ll either recapture stray bees, maybe capture the hive if they swarm again, or perhaps get a new swarm.

This whole thing was actually kind of fun! And kind of nice to get some of the new beekeeper mistakes out of the way with a free swarm, instead of messing up with our expensive, purchased bees. I don’t want to jack up or hurt any of them of course. But if we have to make mistakes, well…

Anyway. I think they’re going to swarm again. They’re behaving around the newest hive like the scouts behaved around the original lure hive. We shall see…

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I wanna hold your [bee-covered] hand (Beekeeping part 3)

April 17, 2018

So! One week ago, we attracted a swarm!

So then we waited a week before we could do a hive check – me going out to watch the bees come and go at every opportunity…

And then….the day came. Today. HIVE CHECKING DAY. Our first hive inspection. THIS IS GONNA BE GREAT.

ISH.

Kinda.

We got our bee suits, hive tools, smoker, fuel, lighter, hive checklist, and various and sundry other things, and went to check on the bees. Yeah.

Oh hell. I had left the lure box with just the 5 frames in, instead of filling it with all 10. So of COURSE the bees built their comb – and may I say WOW that’s a lot of comb built in one week! – so, I say, of COURSE they built comb hanging from the box lid, instead of on the frames.

Of course.

We were able to separate 2 of the fins, and strap them into empty frames, before the wind blew the lid with the honeycomb over, dumping all the bees onto the floor and providing the very real danger of having just lost/squashed the queen…and I low-key panicked. We basically put everything back in, topped the box with another hive box (WITH frames) – which is not precisely what I’d intended, but I was low-key panicking – and watched.

The bees started fanning and making their way back in, so we think the queen is fine.

Next time – next week – I will have a more clear plan, and I will not low-key panic, and all will be well. Stay tuned.

What I want when I die

April 4, 2018

I lost a friend today – largely an online friend, but a GOOD friend and a kind man. Rob was smart, kind, and funny. He was a force to be reckoned with online: he would answer anyone any techie question. He supported my efforts, our company, and just about everyone on the side of what is good and right.

A lot of us that knew Rob are commiserating, grieving, together on Twitter. We talk about first meetings, notable moments. We joke, and laugh, and say, “Rob would totally get it.” And he would.

And of COURSE when someone dies, we all get to thinking about what happens when WE die. So let me be clear, for when I die…hopefully in about 60 years. Here’s what I want.

I want you to laugh. I want you to cry. Or not cry.

I want you to talk, or not.

I want you to do whatever it is that helps you when you grieve. Pray. Or meditate. Commiserate. Listen to songs. Write stuff. Do work. Whatever.

I want you to know that I really d0 – okay, when I die it’s “I really did” – love my life. I don’t believe in an afterlife…I’ve spent quite a lot of my life now heartily appreciating having had the chance of being alive. Time here is limited; I’m glad I got this far. (Again though, another 60 years wouldn’t hurt.)

I also want to know that pretty much whenever I DO die, if there WERE an afterlife, I’d be pissed about it. I remember what Bilbo said: “Alas, eleventy-one years is far too short a time to live among such excellent and admirable hobbits.” I’m selfish about my time here, and yeah, I want the full allotment. So yes, if I die early I’ll want to have been pissed about it.

But still. Lucky to have lived.

Arrangements: Donate the organs. Burn the rest. Keep or bury or scatter the ashes, as you will. I’m not HERE any more, see?

I’m sure I’m missing something…oh yeah. Those of you who were precious to me: I made sure to tell you so. Probably more than once.  Remember that, okay? If I get a ghost, it misses you. Those of you I loved or extreme-liked: I MIGHT not have managed to get across that I did. I’m awkward. I liked a lot of you from afar. But hey, I’m dead, so go ahead and assume I liked you, if I didn’t say otherwise.

Oh, and I wouldn’t rely too heavily on “prayers” and “she’s in a better place” with most of my family. It’s not a comfort. Most of them are like me on the idea of death being a big lights out.

As for everything else? That’s up to you. Sure, I would have liked you to do something cool in my name – charity! random acts of kindness! whatever! – because death really is a great way to remind us to be kinder, more alive, all that. But seriously, do what works for you. It’s your life, and you’re still in it.

 

P.S. Okay fine, feel free to do especially nerdy thins in my honor, like quote LOTR or Watership Down or  Star Trek/Wars or Firefly or…whatever.

 

Could we start treating people of color like, oh I don’t know, people?

March 30, 2018

A Dallas headline today reminds me of how everyone is sort of okay with treating people of color differently in the news. Relevant story, and relevant hashtag: #IfTheyGunnedMeDown

More relevant: “When The Media Treats White Suspects And Killers Better Than Black Victims

Some of the headlines from that article:

Let’s make a point of calling out this bullshit when we see it, shall we?

“Conversations I could have had”, episode 1

March 12, 2018
Photo by Anete Lūsiņa on Unsplash

Tell me a story, she said.

Okay, he said, after a minute. One time I ate a person.

You fucking what?

Well not a whole person, but seriously. I mean, I guess you would say I ate people-meat.

You’re gonna have to tell the story a lot faster if you want me to stick around. That’s disgusting. Did you kill somebody?

Oh fuck, no no no. It wasn’t anything like that. I was in this fraternity in college…

That’s not a turn I expected this to take. Go on.

Yeah, so I was in a fraternity. It wasn’t one of those total asshole ones you see on TV, or in movies or whatever. It was pretty laid-back. But there was a lot of sitting around between classes or at night, talking and bullshitting to avoid studying. You know how it goes.

Yeah, I guess so.

So some of the guys were into occlumency. Or, I don’t know what you call it. You know, like pretending to be into Satanism when they really weren’t? Like, they would write sixes on their notepaper, and make the sign of the devil, stuff like that. It was all pretty tongue-in-cheek. Anyway, they decided to make a club out of it.

A club within a fraternity?

Yeah, like I said, anything to avoid studying. It was the “Demonshead Club”. Some of the guys collected black candles, and got cheap-ass black cloaks and fucked around, pretending to do ceremonies and stuff. It’s kind of weird saying it out loud now. It all seemed fairly funny at the time, even when somebody took it too far. This guy Jeff went out one time, and wanted to buy a bag of blood for a ritual, but he didn’t know how to get hold of blood. I mean, you can’t just walk into a place and say, “excuse me, can I have a quart of blood?”

Sure, grocery stores and blood banks both would probably frown on that.

Right. So what Jeff did was, he ended up buying, like, I don’t know, 20 pounds of steak or something, and letting them all drip into a bowl. I think he ended up with a cup or two of blood. The fraternity head was pretty pissed off because Jeff splashed it all over a pentacle he drew on the kitchen floor, and then didn’t clean all of it up. It kind of stank after a while.

So, the next logical step was to eat a human being? Again, did somebody kill someone? Or did one of the frat brothers drunkenly donate some piece of flesh one day?

Yeah well, it doesn’t seem like it would be the next logical step, eating people is pretty far out there. But yeah, of course somebody took it too far, and everybody got joking about how that would be a fantastic idea. I think several of us might’ve been a little high at the time.

Okay, so you’re all high and you’ve gotten buy-in on the cannibalism thing. What’s the next step?

That’s what a bunch of us said: so what’s the next step? And of course, some asshole has a friend or a cousin or something that worked at a funeral parlor…

Oh, shit.

Yeah.

They are quiet for a minute, looking at each other over cooling cups of coffee. She glanced around the cafe again, but no one else was paying them any attention.

OK, so?

I don’t know, I wasn’t there for it. I’m absolutely positive money changed hands; they took up a collection.

They took up a collection to bribe the funeral guy to give you person-meat?

Yeah. So anyway, somebody had the idea, somebody took at the collection, somebody went and had the conversation, and one weekend we were all standing in the front house kitchen staring at a chunk of what looked like fairly pale skirt steak.

Oh, gross.

Yeah, it was. But we had had such a buildup, you know? We had talked about it so much, and had all the goofy demonic frat house vibe thing going on, even if it was still just a joke.

Was it really? I mean at that point – with person-meat sitting on the kitchen counter – is it really just a joke?

Kind of? People are weird, you know. Some things are a joke and they aren’t, and they’re still a joke too. I don’t know how to explain it exactly.

I think I get it. A little bit. I wouldn’t consider eating the damn people-meat though.

Yeah, well, I did eat some. Somebody cooked it. That was Jeff, actually. He wasn’t the one that had done the suggestion or the collection or the talking to the guy, I know that. But he did volunteer to cook it.

So? What was it like?

Overcooked as shit.

Tell me more, tell me more (Beekeeping part 2)

March 11, 2018

So yes, I’ve been doing quite a lot of reading. Yep, absorbing QUITE a lot of the old info, me. 

Lucky me, a friend asks me: “So once you get your bees, how do you get them in the hive and make them stay?”

WELL LET ME TELL YOU.

(Quick note: I grabbed the first videos I could find for these links, instead of vetting the videos. Just saying, these links might not be the highest quality videos out there.)

If you get on YouTube and look around, you can see dozens of videos of bee installations, and they’re really amazing. People just shaking thousands of bees out of a box, straight into the hive. It’s nuts. 

I ended up getting two nucleus hives (they’re miniature hives, with five frames of bees) instead of packages (“a box of bees”, which would have been cheaper, but I have reasons). 

To install the bees, I will put the frames into the hive, make sure the queen’s in there with them, and they’re pretty cool with it. It already smells like home in there at that point, because they’re the frames they’ve already been crawling around on, and the same queen with the same pheromones they’re totally used to. And the queen stays where she’s put, more or less.

And of course there’ll be leftover bees that weren’t on the frames, or flew out or fell off. But again, the box will smell like home because Queen pheromones. I’ve seen people  put a ramp to the hive entrance, and lay the mostly empty box on the ground pointing to it. The bees just march on in, toward the queen smell. 

Generally speaking bees don’t WANT to be homeless. If you stick them into the equivalent of a furnished luxury apartment, the’re basically like “hey, fookin noice m8”.

This is what I have absorbed so far. I don’t believe anyone else has actually put it quite thusly.

How to Adult: How to Vote

February 28, 2018

Register to Vote

First, you have to be registered to vote in your state. Search “register to vote [my state name]” for information. Some states have online registration, but lots do not. Generally you just have to fill out a form (most libraries carry these) and mail it in. Then you’re registered to vote!

Get ready to Vote

How to vote in an election:

  1. Make sure you’re registered to vote.
  2. Find out where to vote. Google “where can I vote [your city name]”.
  3. As long as you’re at it, find out what voter ID laws apply to you. Here are Texas’ laws…the simple version is, bring a license if you have one. State-specific ACLU websites usually have a simple writeup.
  4. Search for WHO you get to vote on. Google something like, “democratic primary election guide texas”  (with your state, party and the election type). You’ll get a guide.
  5. Read up a bit about who you’ll be voting on. Google something like “[local newspaper] primary election endorsements”. The Dallas News has done a great job of writing up their recommendations for each race, which is extremely helpful. Make notes!
  6. Go vote! It matters.

About Voting

The first time you vote may feel intimidating, but don’t worry about it. You don’t get beaten up for making a mistake.

Whether it’s electronic or on paper, you just read the instructions, ask questions of the volunteers if you need to, and select the candidates you’d like to vote for. Don’t stress!

About Elections

There are different kinds of elections: presidential, midterm, state, local…it would be a really good idea to skim the Wikipedia article on US elections. And to find out what elections are happening in any given year, Google “US elections [this year]”, and “[my state] elections [this year]”.

A few quick notes:

  • We elect the president every 4 years. This will also coincide with other elections.
  • We have national and often state and local elections, 2 years after each presidential elections. These are midterms.
  • We have “off year” elections in odd numbered years, too.

There’s lots more information about elections here.