Watering the Deer

(As a side note, or, at very least, a quick digression, after writing that title, it occurs to me to wonder whether Dave might think “watering the deer” is some sort of euphemism.)

After losing most of last year’s tomato crop to deer, I’ve been looking into ways to discourage the critters from coming into my yard. It turns out the most obvious approach – a fence – isn’t terribly effective. Anything less than eight feet high and the deer will jump right over it. And who wants an eight foot fence blocking their view? (It’s not a great view, but it certainly beats the parking lot views I’ve had at various apartments.)

One solution is a liquid deer repellent that you spray on your plants at grazing height. There are a few catches though. For starters, you have to reapply the stuff every time it rains. You have to apply it consistently across all the plants or else the untreated vegetation will mask the taste of the treated plants. And, of course, the way this stuff works is it makes the plants taste bad; so you don’t want to get any of it on the stuff you plan to eat.

One of the possibilities I ran across is a motion-activated sprinkler. The idea is that a deer wandering into the yard will trigger the sprinkler and get pelted with a few cups of cold water. This startles the deer and it goes running. Once a deer is scared out of an area, it’s not likely to come back. (By some accounts, these devices are also effective at deterring one’s neighbors from stealing tomatoes; though I haven’t had that particular problem.)

Mom and Dad gave me such a sprinkler back in February. I’m sure it’s not the most requested item on most people’s birthday lists, but most of the “toys” on my wish list (e.g. a decent point-and-shoot camera) were a bit on the pricey side, so this seemed like a reasonable alternative.

I came home on Wednesday to find a deer standing in my front yard. The deer stood its ground as I backed the car into the driveway, and didn’t even seem to take any particular notice as I got out and closed the car door behind me. It didn’t seem perturbed by anything until I started running toward it, yelling. (Hopefully the neighbors had their windows closed, otherwise they may be wondering about me a bit more than usual.

Sensing that this might be a good time to start trying to scare the deer away, I spent some time on Sunday afternoon getting the sprinkler set up.

One of the steps for setting up the sprinkler is to test it by standing behind the sprinkler and trigger the motion sensor by waving a hand in front of it. One detail I wasn’t entirely clear on though was how to set the sprinkler head’s range of motion. I’d set it to spray the area of the garden, but when I waved my hand in front of the sensor, first it spun to the right and sprayed me from that side. An instant later, it spun nearly 360 degrees and sprayed me again. At that point it paused for eight seconds before looking for more deer.

My next-door neighbors were out working in their garden and must have thought I’d lost my mind. The entire incident had taken place too quickly for them to have seen it, but at that point I started laughing uncontrollably. I’m not sure whether I stood up too quickly or perhaps just lost my balance, but either way the world went all wibbly-wobbly and I fell into the flower bed. I got up a moment later; unscathed, but still laughing manically.

My insomnia kicked in on Sunday evening, preventing me from getting more than a few moments sleep. But it was worth it. Around 4:30 I heard the sprinkler activate as the first deer got soaked.

Star Trek

I had an opportunity to see the new Star Trek movie on Thursday evening.
Going in, I was concerned, but trying to keep an open mind. The difficulty was that it’s been pretty well publicized that the movie was going to have new actors in the TOS roles. Star Trek: Phase II (formerly Star Trek: New Voyages) has done well with the new actors in familiar roles, so that’s not insurmountable. But there’s a lot of established Trek canon out there (four TV series and 10 movies worth) and anything set in the TOS timeframe has to tread carefully lest the established timeline be contradicted.
Unless you do the unthinkable.
When the movie opens on May 8, some hardcore TOS fans may come away a little disappointed. But new and casual fans may very likely come away with an renewed interest in the franchise.

Holding My Breath

The big software release came around 5:00 on Friday. There were a few scary moments, but that’s normal with these things. The biggest of these involved a problem with the format of a report. In the end, it was deemed to be “something that can wait until Monday” and the release was declared a success around 6:30.
Several project team members may have immediately adjourned to a nearby bar.
The big test for the system came today. The web site is accessible to the public 24×7, but the nature of things is such that most of the people who visit the site do so during the work week. We got through today with only one glitch, and that one was a relatively minor data issue.
I’m not ready to declare complete victory quite yet (after all, I was at the office until 8:00 this evening and won’t have time to get bored tomorrow either). But I don’t feel the weight of the world quite as much as last week.

Dance Floor Rules

I have two main rules for what not to do on the dance floor:

  1. Don’t steer the follower into other people.
  2. Don’t knock her over either

I’ve mentioned these rules to several women and so far they’ve all agreed that these were good rules.
During one of this evening’s songs, another lead did an overly enthusiastic rock step and crashed into my dance partner. He didn’t knock her over, but it definitely knocked her off balance.
Fortunately, she agreed that there’s not much I can do when another lead steers himself into my follower. The incident goes onto his dancing record, not mine.

Musical Surprises

The band at Glen Echo on Saturday was Phil Ogilvie’s Rhythm Kings, aka PORK. (Naturally, some of the promotion for the event included a joke or two relating to economic stimulus packages.)
I wouldn’t have thought of a sousaphone as part of the instrumentation for a swing band, but I have to admit, the guy playing it did a great job of filling in for the non-existent string bass. (Though a few unexpected blasts certainly raised your awareness.)
The other surprising bit of instrumentation was a gong. The actual playing of the gong was very subtle and not overly noticeable unless you happened to be looking at the time. But the visual of a gong sitting behind the percussion set up was enough that I kept expecting a Jackie Chan movie to break out.
Given that the band had something of a Dixieland sound, the movie probably would have been Jackie Chan meets the Dukes of Hazzard.


I’ve been a little stressed out at work this week. We have a new software release going out this week and it represents a couple major firsts for me.

First, this is first project where I was the lead developer. The quality of my work is going to be on display in entirely new ways.

Second, over the past 20 years, pretty much everything I’ve worked on has only been seen by a handful of people.

What’s been gnawing at me has been the realization that the web site we’re updating this week routinely has more than 2 million page views per month.

I mentioned this to one of my co-workers this afternoon. He replied, “What do you mean 2 million? It’s more than 24 million.”

This was soon followed by the rather Hagrid-like admission, “I probably shouldn’t have told you that.”

No, that’s OK. Just so there’s no pressure or anything…


I’ve occasionally heard female friends talking about the number of shoes they own. One has more than a dozen pairs shoes in various styles, just in black, and more in brown and other colors. Going against the stereotype, one male friend has likewise admitted to having multiple pairs of shoes in differing colors.
I don’t even pretend to understand.
It wasn’t planned, but this is the scene I discovered on Wednesday morning.
Four pairs of shoes, two pairs of slippers.
Without realizing it, I’ve apparently fallen into the habit of taking my shoes off while standing in the same place every night. That’s very nearly every bit of footwear I own. The only shoes not in that photo are a pair of snow boots and a pair of do-it-yourself dance shoes.
That seems to me like plenty of shoes, but I’m left wondering: why do I have two pairs of slippers?