December 2017 Archives

Drone Blown
December 4, 2017 7:31 AM | Posted in:

Show of hands: who remembers Rosie from The Jetsons? [Ed - Nobody. If you're old enough to remember the TV show, you're too old to remember anything about it.] 

Rosie the DronebotRosie was the family's robotic housekeeper. Almost six decades later, we're still waiting for a Rosie to come along and rescue us from the burden of household chores (and don't get me started on the flying cars we were promised). So far, the Roomba and the Echo have fallen short of our expectations in that area. But I'm here to report that there's hope on the horizon. All we have to do is to get creative with the devices we already have.

Case in point. I have a drone, a little DJI Spark, and it's a lot of fun to fly around the neighborhood, chasing deer and squirrels, exploring the creek while avoiding water moccasins, and spying on the neighbors (well, if we had any neighbors - which we don't - I would totally be spying on them). But it occurred to me this weekend that it was time for this toy to grow up and start adulting like the rest of us, present company excluded.

One of the downsides to being surrounded by a multitude of trees is the accompanying leaf blowing required to keep the sidewalks, porches, and driveways clean. I have a gasoline powered blower, but it's heavy and noisy and not all that joyful. I wondered, is there an easier way? Could leaf blowing become fun? I'll let you be the judge:



 As it turns out, the drone-as-groundskeeper has a few teensy flaws. First, it would take approximately 17 hours to fully clean our outside surfaces. This is a problem because the Spark's battery is good for only about 15 minutes of flying time, and takes ~30 minutes to recharge.

Second, weather conditions limit the practicality. You may have been able to perceive that the drone was not hovering steadily in the video. The wind was a bit gusty and definitely impacted the stability of the device.

Third, the drone's operating system DID NOT APPRECIATE the close proximity to all kinds of obstacles. Even though I turned off the automatic obstacle avoidance feature, it continued to scream incessantly that I was TOO CLOSE TO EVERYTHING, AT ALL TIMES!!! Once, it even took matters into its own...uh...rotors, and landed itself when I flew it too close to the sidewalk. Perhaps it's intelligent enough to avoid domestic chores better suited for human efforts.

Pepé Le Pew Deja Vu
December 1, 2017 11:37 AM | Posted in: ,

Alert Gazette readers - and, really, aren't you all? - will recall that I successfully, if foolishly, released a trapped skunk a couple of days agoPepé le Pew without incident other than an elevated heart rate. I decided to give the trap a night off, but re-baited and re-armed it last night. I figured that a trapped skunk would have learned its lesson and would be focused on less confining dining opportunities.

As with so many things in life lately, I was wrong. It's Biblical: as a dog returns to its vomit, so a skunk does to its sardines (Proverbs 26:11, ORGV [Old Retired Guy Version]).

I was less apprehensive about the release process this time, but I might not have been had I been able to see inside the trap while I prepared to open the door. As the video below shows, the skunk's tail lifted ominously at one point, the equivalent of cocking the hammer on a revolver.

I was a bit fascinated by the absence of any visible reaction by the skunk to the trap door springing shut. It's a fairly violent action, jarring the whole contraption and making a rather loud noise, but the animal was so focused on getting to the sardines I had placed beneath the bars of the cage that it didn't notice. That's probably why gluttony is one of the Seven Deadly Sins.

By the way, much of the following video is sped up 400% for those of you with short attention spans. I move that fast in real life only on special occasions...like when a skunk is in the vicinity.



I think it's time to give the trapping a rest while I contemplate a different, non-skunk-friendly bait that will still be attractive to raccoons. I know raccoons like cat food, but so do cats, and I'm not interested in trapping them, either.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from December 2017 listed from newest to oldest.

November 2017 is the previous archive.

Archives Index