Monday, May 15. 2006
It had been a long week, so when Friday finally rolled around I was looking forward to cracking open a beer and kicking off a relaxing weekend. Unfortunately the weekend didn't have the same idea of a relaxing time as I did. Living out in the woods of Maine, it's very common to have deer, fox and the occasional moose walking around in the yard. These animals are typically foraging for food and are not very obtrusive. This weekend, however, through me a bit of a curveball from the norm.
The end of the workday on Friday finally rolls around so my wife and I have the stereo on and a few beers opened. Around 6 PM, we start hearing noise coming from the front yard. This is a bit of a surprise since the stereo is at a volume where you cant even hear the phone ring when it's sitting next to you. We head downstairs to find out what's going on, and come face to face with an unexpected party crasher.
At first we just looked at each other. Did we have a few too many beers or is there really a bear outside trashing our front yard. By outside, I mean he was 15 feet away from the front door. At that point, I do what any other sane person would do, run outside like a lunatic attempting to prevent any further destruction of things. Ok, I admit, not one of my better ideas, but we all know beer turns you into superman . Though he did back up a few feet, the bear just looked at me like I was a jackass (he was right of course).
Probably a bit unsure of my mental stability, the bear grabbed a few of the bird feeders and finally walked off into the woods. He must have really been a party animal because it did not end there. This cycle, complete with me running outside like a lunatic, happened two more times through the course of the evening until we finally gave up. There was no more food outside he could get at, and we were not getting anywhere, so finally called it a night.
Saturday morning rolls around and its time to assess the damage. It was fairly obvious he had been back at least one more time, seeing that more objects had been moved around, bent in half or completely destroyed. Unsure about what he might do next, since he had already eaten all the bird food outside, my wife got a bit nervous for her animals. We have some livestock, goats and chickens, in a barn outside. We spent Saturday fortifying the barn and the doors, just in case it decided to make an unannounced "visit" to the other animals. I felt like I was back in the military. It was pouring rain all day, Julie was making the structural changes to the barn and I stood guard with a rifle.
No sign of the bear all day Saturday, so we figured we were in the clear. Having finished up making sure all the animals were protected, we finally sat down to watch a movie. About 45 minutes into the movie (and it was a good movie too), we hear commotion outside again. Being sober this time, I knew my previous night's actions were not going to do any good, so this time I brought the rifle. Although the antics of a mere human weren't enough to scare him, one shot from the rifle (no I did not shoot at the bear), scared the crap out of him and he took off like a bat out of hell. Needless to say, he did not come back that night. Hopefully the bear has decided about making visits to my house again. We made the repairs to the front yard on Sunday and he has not come back since Saturday night. If he does, the next step is to call the game warden to try to trap and re-locate him. Maybe next weekend will be a bit quieter?
Monday, May 8. 2006
Although a difficult process, I have finally chosen the winner for the Pro PHP XML and Web Services contest. I received a large number of entries (more than expected), but did read every single one of them. The majority were very well done and ranged from someone threatening to bite their own leg off (nice picture btw) to the other extreme of threatening to beat with me a stick (was very funny if you happen to be familiar with Theo Schlossnagle's post for a junior programmer). Both of these were among the finalists, but the entry finally chosen stood out a bit more than the rest.
Congratulations to Brian Wurster from Arlington, Virginia (United States).
What really set this entry apart was the creativity. The entry was submitted as a lone PHP script. Lucky for Brian it ran without errors because there was no way I was going to read all that code :), other than to notice it used the new PHP 5 OO features. I wish I had more books that I could have given out to many of you that entered, as there were a number of good entries, but unfortunately I was only allotted a limited amount and you know those family members; always have to mooch something from ya (just kidding everyone ... I think). Brian, the book is on its way. I hope you enjoy it and that it serves you well.
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I can be reached via my i-name: =Rob.Richards