Friday Shorts June 26 2008


Country Life

I went out to turn the truck around yesterday to drain all the accumulated rain from the bed liner of my poor old rust colored 1996 Dodge Dakota truck. Tsuga went out to help me. As I got out the passenger side, he went over to mark my right front tire and all of a sudden began rubbing his face on the ground, running around like something was after him. That indeed was the case: seems we were gone long enough for yellow jackets to build a nest somewhere under the body of the truck–maybe in the engine compartment. We’ll have to go out with the flashlight of a cool morning with the RAID I suppose.

(Footnote: Tsuga turns FIVE YEARS OLD today. Some of you will remember his early days in our life just after the sad passing of Buster the black lab at only four years old. I’m happy to report that Tsuga’s hind quarters did finally catch up with his beefy upper body.)

Flickr Fumble

I ignore my “messages” in Flickr as they only tell me some stranger has become my latest contact. I really haven’t played the social networking game much, including not on my Flickr pro account. Maybe I should pay more attention. Yesterday I saw a message from February, subject line “Use of images”. It was from the director of a very large state zoo wanting permission to use some of my shots in their publication with photocredits. I wrote him back anyway with apologies. Maybe something will come up in the future, and I’ll be sure and notice new Flickr emails now.

Go Pollinate Something

Do your children (or do you for that matter) know about the birds and bees? How many of you could use the following words accurately and in proper relationship in a short paragraph? Flower, seed, pollen, fruit, vegetable, pollinator. I imagine 99% of folks would stumble at least a couple of times and end up with “and then some other stuff happens” to get through the story. This is an incredibly important part of our planet’s remarkable life that most are ignorant of–to our peril. Go (with your kids–it’s Safe For Work Sex) and re-discover the workings of the birds and bees. Heck, it’s National Pollinator Week and the Pollination Partnership site is one of the best designed and most resource rich sites I’ve ever seen. Check out Selecting Plants for Pollinators for your ecoregion. (And NOTE: in the UK it’s also National Insect Week.)


Who do you love–family first? Plants, too. Yes, recent evidence suggest that plants can recognize genetic family ties with other potentially competing plants and give its “ken” preferrential treatment. The Guardian article points out that there is a scientific society called Plant Neurobiology whose site uses the terms “plant intelligence” and “plant memory”–with the understanding that this means something different than the same animal qualities. Fascinating.

Avast, Avira, AVG, A Mess

Quick request for advice: Three computers need antivirus: Mac Pro for the weeny bit i use Windows programs; IBM Thinkpad for work and occasional browsing; and Dell desktop upstairs used only for email checking by the wife. What antivirus or Internet security program do I need? Preference is to use the same software on all machines, preference is FREE. So, where do I go?

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Good luck on the images! They’re all quite special and I hope something comes of the Flickr connection.

    I use McAfee because it’s non-invasive (as I believe Norton to be) and I think one license can be wheedled into covering a couple or more machines.

    What a cute butt on Tsuga!

  2. I use Avast on all my Windows machines because it’s free for personal use and it doesn’t interfere with other programs. I’ve horrible problems with McAfee in the past bogging down my machine.

  3. I’ve been lurking around your blog for quite a while and subscribed to your feed. Now it’s time to come out of the shadows and thank you for all your great posts! I really like your photo’s , too.

    I use ZoneAlarm for my PC. My main computer’s been a Mac since 1984, so I don’t use the PC much – only for those things that won’t run on a Mac, such as the OED. Anyway, the free version of ZoneAlarm works for me!

  4. AVG has been trouble free on the old PC my husband uses at home occasionally, and McAfee (free now from Comcast) has never given me any trouble on my main PC.
    Maybe it depends on what programs you run? E.g., I’ve heard Norton can give problems with Word, etc. I mostly use Photoshop, Pagemaker, Dreamweaver, Word, and Outlook on the McAfee computer.

  5. I have Norton 360 which is all inclusive of anti-virus and lots of other anti’s including a backup program. I deep into it so I won’t change but it’s too complex. If I did it again I’d get their plain anti-virus and other anti whatever and backup programs. The backup is OK it’s just that the piled too many things in one suite.