Austin Pond Society May 2018 Meeting


The Austin Pond Society tried something different with this May Meeting and held it at one of our Sponsors Store, namely Aqua-Dome located just off Ben White in Austin, Texas.

Aqua-Dome Meeting May 2018 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

The meeting was held outdoors with the weather cooperating, a nice breeze and not too hot. The first part of the meeting was as usual the Business Section and although the idea was unique, the soundtrack left a lot to be desired due to external traffic sounds. The second part of the meeting in which the owner, Gary Coffman, gave a demonstration on repotting water lilies was held in a different part of the large yard and the sound is much better.

Another of our Sponsors, Jet’s Pizza located in Brodie Lane, supplied the hungry group with a grand selection of different pizzas for us to devour which we proceeded to do at a rapid rate. There were about 40 members that had showed up and they listened intently as Gary showed us how he repots his water lilies. He also discussed Lotus and all of the other freshwater bog plants that he has for sale.

The meeting was over by 7:45 pm and I am quite sure that many of the members learned a bit about repotting water lilies. Thanks to Gary Coffman and Aqua-Dome for giving us something different.

This is the Business part of the meeting.

APS Meeting May 2018 – Business from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Gary Coffman demonstrating on “How to repot Water Lilies”.

Austin Aqua-Dome 2018 Repotting from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Written 5/22/2018

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Dripping Springs Farmers Market 5-2-18


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It was a Wednesday and I happened to find myself back in the Dripping Springs area primarily to visit the Tractor Supply Company where I purchase my fish food. I only ever buy one 28 lb bag at a time which lasts me a little less than two weeks and even though it would make sense to buy at least two bags, I really like the drive and the visit to this picturesque old town located at the foot of the Texas Hill Country. It helps even more now that the town has gone all modern on me with the addition of a Starbucks which I find a reason to visit. One of my most favorite things is to drive out in the countryside in my new Ford F-150, listening to an Audiobook and with a Starbucks Latte within arms reach.

I had not chosen the day, Wednesday, on purpose and it was really by chance that it happened to be the day of the Farmers Market. I don’t usually stop in to visit but on this day, I decided that I could really use one of the pastries that one of the vendors sells. So, I dragged out my camera and took a few shots of the vendors and the musician who was entertaining a small child and his Mother before stopping to purchase an Empanada. There was a long list to choose from and I eventually settled on a Mole Beef. I willingly paid the vendor his $5:00 and took my morsel of goodness back to my truck and sat for a while as I improved on my Audiobook and Starbucks Latte with the addition of the Empanada which, by the way, was absolutely delicious. I almost went back for another and then common sense stepped in and told me that spending $5:00 on one pie was OK but to spend $10:00 on two, as good as they were, would be more than a little extravagant and would spoil the moment.

I left the Market and headed home more than a little content. Funny how the small things in life really begin to mean something as we grow older and how much easier we are to be satisfied with tiny moments of pleasure.

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I wrote about this market a little over a year ago and the need for an Empanada was the reason for this repeat.

Written
5/4/2018

A New Computer, not Really?


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The weather here in Central Texas has been kind of difficult. It has warmed up a bit through the days but more often than not, it has been raining throughout most of the time. Not heavy rain but enough to keep me indoors and not out in the garden or hiking the trails where I would rather be.

At the same time, my computer which is an older model, was running out of space on the hard drive and although I moved as much stuff as I could to different drives that I have hooked up, it was getting real close to full. I thought about for a bit and came to the decision that I needed to buy a new computer as to add a bigger hard drive was going to cost me at least $400.00. I had seen computers in the Best Buy store close to me that were going for that and even a bit less so it made sense to buy new.

I talked to a salesperson after spending time reviewing my options and settled on one that had the really fast operating system and lots of storage space with all of the other bells and whistles like a touch screen and facial recognition, the latter nice but not necessary. They did not have one quite like the one I wanted but had an “open box” model almost the same which I figured was a good buy as it was saving me an additional $180.00. The total price at the end for this model was around $850.00 which was more than I was originally going to spend but did give me the faster chip and lots of memory and storage space.

I spent a couple of days setting up the new machine reinstalling most of the programs that I use and  generally had it running as I wanted it. Apart from the facial recognition and the touch screen and of course the space on the hard drive, it was no faster than my old one. It was also much slower in booting up some of which was probably due to loading newer stuff that was not on my old computer. The screen was also a bit smaller resulting in the print being smaller which was bit of a strain on my old eyes.

I thought about it for a bit and made a search for Computer Repair Specialists other than Best Buys Geek Squad where everything started at $100.00 and found an independent business located not too far from me. I called the guy up and we chatted for a while and he told me to bring my old computer over and he would take a look. Long story short, he discovered that the gentleman I had originally bought the computer from was a bit of a computer genius and had modified it by removing the disc player and installing a super fast SSD drive so in essence, I had two hard drives, one of which still had a lot of storage space. He proceeded to move as much as he could from the main drive to the secondary drive resulting in gaining almost 50% more room on the main drive. This meant that my old computer was back in business and as an additional bonus, the total charges for this service was just a little over $70.00, a far cry from the cost of the new computer or for the $400.00 for the work that the Geek Squad was going to do.

I thought about it for a bit and then spent the next two days cleaning up the new computer taking off all of my programs and information. Satisfied that it was as clean as I could get it and knowing that in order to sell it, the Geek Squad would have to format the disk to wipe it clean and reinstall whatever they needed on it. I packed it back in the box and returned it to the store within the 14 days that was allotted as the return time. Other than checking  that it wasn’t damaged, Best Buy returned my money back onto my credit card with no questions asked.

I did run into a problem on my old computer with Outlook which is my email program of choice and spent the next two days working on that. I figured out where and what Outlook was saving with my information and files and eventually with the very last try of the day, as I was pretty fed up with not getting it to work, the program did what it was supposed to do and all of the recent files came alive, all 3000 of them. Satisfied with the results, I left cleaning up the unwanted files to the next day.

The bottom line is that although my computer doesn’t have a touch screen or facial recognition, those are things I can do without. I took special note of the times I used the touch screen and it was almost zero as I preferred to use a mouse so there is no loss there. As for the facial recognition, I am well used to typing in my password at the start of the day so no biggie there either.

The moral to this story is to check out all of the options before settling on the first one you think of. Spending time on a little more research of what is available can be well worth it.

Now, I am waiting for the weather to clear up so that I can get back outdoors as I no longer have an excuse to not be out there. Besides, I need more pictures to work on and material for the new blogs to write. Maybe, the Osprey is back…

Written 3/5/2018

Two Fish Rescues to Start 2018


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I had calls from a couple of different pond owners who for totally different reasons wanted to close down their ponds. The first call, the owner stated that he had two ponds, one with two goldfish and the other with eight. He needed to find them good homes as the house and one of the ponds was going to be demolished and a new one built in its place.

I was met at the gate by the owner who showed me the ponds, one front and one back. The front pond was about six feet by three feet and contained two goldfish which were very easy to catch. The pond at the rear of the house was a large circular one of about eight feet in diameter with a fountain. This one, we had to pump out in order to catch the ten goldfish. It didn’t take too long and with the owners help, I was quickly on my way. I took these fish to Mayfield Park which was no more than a half mile from where I was.

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The other owner just didn’t want the pond anymore and was getting rid of everything including the Koi and the equipment. He had eight Koi, the biggest around fifteen inches long and all of them were beautifully marked. His pond had fairly large red sandstone rocks which had obviously been put in with a front end loader as they were way too heavy for me to handle and reluctantly, I had to pass them up. The owner was going to fill the pond with them which I thought was a waste but as I couldn’t get them out, there was no other choice.

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I made arrangements to visit him and catch the Koi the first day. I had lots of help from the owner and two other people so the catching went pretty quickly. The pond was around 1500 gallons and I had to pump it down to make it easier to catch the fish. The pond had been professionally built back 2006 as was obvious by the construction. They had dug a deeper middle section which must have been close to four feet. I took the Koi back to my own ponds and put them in the 6000 gallon pond where they joined several other larger koi.

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The next day, I went back to North Austin where the pond was located which incidentally would not show up on my GPS system, to collect the equipment which consisted of a large Sanyo skimmer, a 2000 gph pump, a single grate and netting from the bog, a waterfall and filter box and several pieces of 1-1/2 inch heavy duty flex pipe. It took me a while to dig out the skimmer box and the pipe was also buried but not very deep. With everything loaded, I made my way back home to unload everything.

The rescues were relatively simple and in both cases, the owners were very nice and very helpful.

Written 1/21/2018

Follow Up with My ENT Doctor…


DSC_1169Just as I had arranged
a follow up for me to see
my doctor a friend of mine
following my surgery
I guess that is not the right word
as he did not cut into me
instead he went in through my nose
to clear it and make it free
“Your sinuses are diseased”
are the words he used to me
which I immediately took to mean
there was something serious he had to see
the surgery went as it should
of course I was fast asleep
probably dreaming of a hike in the woods
waking up when he said I could
now back in the office for him to see
the results of his work in the surgery
he took a look and got out his tools
knowing this could painful be
as he stuck the end up in my nose
and sucked till my sinuses were free
“You should feel much better now”
as the tears rolled down onto my knees
not because he hurt so much
more that the nose has sensitivity
“Come back in a week and we’ll do it again”
were his parting words in deep refrain
“You will feel much better now
and be able to breathe again”
I stumbled out wiping my eyes
cussing and swearing at the pain
do I want to come back in a week
and go through this all over again
of course I will be there at the allotted time
for my Doctor to inflict more pain
although I will have another week
in which to heal and strength to gain
and as somebody once said
there is no gain without the pain.

Written 11/14/2017

APS Board Members Christmas Party 2017


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This past Sunday, the Board members and a few friends held their Christmas party at Jeannie Ferrier, the President’s house. Altogether there were 17 of us gathered together to enjoy each other’s company made all of the better for not having to be planning  or making decisions for something or another. There were a few members missing having already made other Christmas plans but those that did attend got to enjoy all manner of good food, good company and fun and games.

The first part of the time spent together was viewing the two ponds that Steve and Jeannie have in their back yard along with all of the other garden related items that are so tastefully displayed. As usual, being Pond Enthusiasts, we bombarded Steven with many questions about different aspects of his ponds which he was more than happy to answer. it is an interesting fact that nearly all pond enthusiasts are very happy to pass along any knowledge they may have regarding different aspects of their ponds and gardens.

APS Board Christmas Party Slideshow 2017.mpg from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

We all moved back indoors and I took a lot of pictures of the guests and the layout. The lighting was a real challenge with indoor lights, dark areas and then outdoor light coming through the windows. I was constantly having to make adjustments to the camera. There was a lot of food and people were wandering around from place to place with plates in their hands and happily munching away as they explored all of the different dishes that were available. People paired of in groups as different conversations were going on.

Jeannie called us all together as it was time to play our Annual Christmas game of swapping presents. This game is a little different as you were issued a number and when it was your turn, were able to go and pick out one of the wrapped gifts. You had to open it so that others could see what you had drawn as the next number was able to choose between taking a new unopened gift OR steal one from the gifts already opened and on display with the other guests around the room.  If you took one of the other persons gifts, then they had the chance to go again in the hope of being able to keep what they had this time. I think I set a new record as I lost 4 gifts that I had won finally ending up with a bottle of wine that no one could steal from me as I was the last person to draw. As I don’t drink, I was able to swap it with Steven for a cactus which was a part of the gifts he had won. It was a lot of fun and raised much laughter as the presents were unwrapped only to be stolen by others.

APS Board Christmas Party 2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

 
Following the game, Jeannie announced that next year’s Pond Tour would be a very small members only spread over 3 weekends with Nancy Reinert organizing the South side, Nancy Hall the North and B.J. Jenkins the East side of town. That is assuming that no one steps up to be the Pond Tour Chairperson.

The party broke up after a very nice afternoon’s entertainment of good cheer, good food and good company as we each made our way home. This was the last activity for this year for the Austin Pond Society.

This has been a good year for the group. We had several very good and entertaining speakers at our meetings, the Plant Swap was fun as was the Swap and Sell meeting. The Pond Tour was a smashing success thanks to Ted and his band of willing helpers and we raised $4000.00 dollars for a charitable cause. On the Fish Rescue side of things both Jeannie and Steven with help from others and Frank who worked mostly alone on the smaller rescues, were busy throughout the year. Membership hovers around the 100 mark with about half of that number attending the monthly meetings. As usual, Steven as the Hospitality Volunteer remains the most popular person in the club as the food provided was excellent. We look forward to the start of a new year and a new season for the Austin Pond Society. The first meeting will be held at the Zilker Gardens Clubhouse on Monday, January 15 2018. Hope to see you there.

Website: http://www.austinpondsociety.org
Membership: membership@austinpondsociety.org
Questions: president@austinpondsociety.org

Written 12/19/2017

 

Losing a Friend and Associate…


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Rodney and Keith

Life even at it’s best can be very fragile and fickle as we recently found out. We humans, for all of our own arrogance and self beliefs do not have any control of life itself which can be taken from us in the blink of an eye.

Over this Christmas period, one of our Austin Pond Society Board Members, a young fellow of 35, passed away after a very short illness. Two weeks ago, he and his Partner Rodney who is also a Board Member, attended a Christmas Party at the APS President’s house. Keith was not quite his normal cheerful self putting it down to a bout of the flu which had caused him to miss the last Board meeting.

A week later, his Partner called to inform us that Keith was in the hospital and the day after Christmas, Keith passed away. He will be missed in many ways. He was always cheerful and never had a bad word to say about anyone. He was helpful wherever he could be and very talented as he could manipulate the programs on his computer far better than most. He also had the fastest thumbs I have ever seen on the tiny keyboard of his smartphone. Our sympathies are with his Partner, Rodney that he leaves behind who being the older of the two exclaimed, “It is not fair. It should be the other way around. Keith was supposed to look after me as we grew old together.”

Unfortunately, no one ever said that life was fair.

Rest in Peace Keith. You will be missed. Rodney, you have our condolences.

Written 12/27/2017