Guess what I found hibernating under my kitchen extension?

Posted by Steve on Sun, 02/03/2013 - 12:28pm


I've posted a few articles about Brooklyn wildlife here over the years.  Now I apparently have one of them as a roomate.

Last week I broke a tile on my bathroom vanity and decided that today was a good day to fix it.  I keep my spare tiles in a barely heated shed under my kitchen extension.

As soon as I opened the door to the shed and the gamey smell hit my nose I knew that something wild was living in there.  I assumed it was a feral cat or two until I saw a bunch of straw nesting material falling out of a large bag of potting soil.  Cats don't do that so I picked up a lawn torch, gently opened the bag and look what I found.  Petey Possum!

I wasn't all that surprised by this because I see possums late at night at least once a week.  The dogs have become so accustomed to them that I can tell from their reaction when they've picked up the scent a hundred feet away.  They're fairly aromatic animals.

Not sure what to do here.  On the one hand, I'm not going to do what one of my neighbors did and kill him.  Any wild animal that manages to survive on the streets of Brooklyn has my profound respect.  My concern with the nesting material however is that this is really Penelope Possum and that she's about to bring more of these critters  into the world.  Whatever, I need to replace the missing brick in the side of the extension in the spring.

Local lore says that opossums took a foothold in Brooklyn about seven years ago when some genius at one of the Brooklyn community boards thought they would be an excellent solution to keeping the rat population in check.  They're very versatile animals and aren't shy about killing prey, including rats.  Problem is, that same versatility means that they're happy to live on the same garbage as rats.  So the rats survived, the possums survived and here we are.

Possums are fearsome looking animals but they're actually pretty passive towards larger animals, hence the "playing possum" thing.  I rummaged around in the extension for about five minutes looking for my tile and its only reaction was an occasional hiss.
 


BrooklynRowHouse updated

Posted by Steve on Tue, 12/25/2012 - 12:07pm
House: 


While there have been no home improvements to talk about lately at BrooklynRowHouse, mostly due to a terrific trip to Europe this summer followed by a broken ankle I suffered in a motorcycle accident in early fall, the site has undergone a major upgrade to Drupal 7.  While the site looks substantially the same as the old one, it's an entirely new theme/templating system (Omega) which it is claimed degrades better on pads and smartphones.


Extreme Renovations

Posted by Steve on Sat, 12/15/2012 - 12:43pm


If you're one of those homeowners who looks disapprovingly at renovations which destroy the period character of the building, you're gonna need a defebrilator after reading this story.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/18th-century-french-chateau-razed-by-mistake/2012/12/05/7765e3de-3ed9-11e2-8a5c-473797be602c_story.html

18th-century French chateau razed ‘by mistake’ by builders while owner was away

PARIS — Residents of a sleepy French village in Bordeaux have been left dumbfounded after discovering their local 18th-century chateau was completely bulldozed “by mistake.”

The mayor’s office in Yvrac said Wednesday that workers who were hired to renovate the grand 13,000-square-meter (140,000-square-foot) manor and raze a small building on the same estate in southwest France mixed them up.

“The Chateau de Bellevue was Yvrac’s pride and joy,” said former owner Juliette Marmie. “The whole village is in shock. How can this construction firm make such a mistake?”

Local media reported that the construction company misunderstood the renovation plans of the current owner, Russian businessman Dmitry Stroskin, to clean up the manor and restore it to its former baroque glory.

Stroskin was away when the calamity occurred and returned home to discover his chateau, a local treasure boasting a grand hall that could host some 200 people, as well as a sweeping stone staircase — was nothing but rubble.

“I’m in shock ...I understand the turmoil of the community,” local media quoted Stroskin as saying. He told them he plans to build an exact replica of lost manor on the site.


Another story here: http://rt.com/art-and-culture/news/chateau-bellevue-accidentally-destroyed-076/


Hacker's Guide to Wireless Audio

Posted by Steve on Thu, 04/12/2012 - 4:58pm


Okay, it's not really a guide because it's peculiar to my hardware and I don't completely comprehend why it's working and I took a lot of wrong turns to get here.  But it works!

Here's some background: I work from home and I like to have music playing in the background downstairs, not in my office.  For some reason, it takes the edge off the cabin fever having music playing in another room rather than blasting in my face.  At first I did this by tuning in an FM radio station on my receiver in the living room.  Later, I switched to using one of DirecTV's music channels because they're commercial-free and genre-focused so I don't have to listen to a crappy Josh Groban song to hear a nice Derek Trucks Band track.

Last year, I discovered Spotify's streaming music service and became a huge fan -- so much so that when I was asked to install a music system in a friend's wine bar in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn I went with Spotify and a wireless-enabled laptop, which also let me program his music playlists remotely.

What I really wanted however was a way to play Spotify on my great-sounding living room home entertainment center and to be able to control it remotely from my office upstairs.  If I could do this then not only could I indulge my fickle musical tastes by choosing what's being played but I could also mute the background music during business calls (yes, I play it loud).  My HE center also plays music in the back yard, so bonus.Unknown Object


From the Brooklyn Row House mail sack...

Posted by Steve on Thu, 03/15/2012 - 1:01pm


I received an email today from a producer of a new home show looking for volunteers with a troublesome room in their house that they want renovated... for free!   A prerequisite is that you must own your place and be within 35 miles of NYC.  You can read the rest in the boilerplate below:


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