Skunk Removal Remembrances and Suggestions

This cool skunk vitamin case is a great gift for skunk fans.  Click on the picture to get one of your own.

This cool skunk vitamin case is a great gift for skunk fans. Click on the picture to get one of your own.

Over the last couple years, the feral animal problem in my back yard has gotten worse and worse.  So last spring, I bought a Have-a-Heart Trap. For several weeks, I carefully set the trap with bait, eager to catch a opossum, a raccoon, or even a cat.   But day after day, the trap remained empty.

After a while I lost interest.  The trap sat for months, alone and neglected, just outside my wife’s office window.

This Heart Design Wood Jewelry Box with Glass Insert is too small to hold a skunk, but makes a great gift anyway.  Click on the picture to see more.

This Wood Jewelry Box with Glass Insert Has-a-Heart but is too small to hold a skunk. It makes a great gift anyway. Click on the picture to see more.

Then early one morning, a strange muffled clap alerts my wife to the fact that something has been caught.   She peers out her window and gleefully runs upstairs to give me the news.  “Wake up, O intrepid trapper!”

The title of this blog post pretty much gives away the contents of my Have-a-Heart Trap. I have to say, it works great.

So now the problem becomes what to do next.  I’m in no hurry to startle my new pet, or to test his patience in any way.   If he sprays, he is sure to hit the house.  It’s time to call in the experts: Livermore City Animal Control.

“We don’t handle skunks”, they tell me.  “Call the County”.

OK.  So I call Alameda County Animal Control. “We don’t handle skunks”, they tell me.  “Call the City”.

“But they just told me to call you.  What do you suggest I do?”, I ask politely.

“Try the Yellow Pages sir”, is the curt reply.

Money Managers, Investment Bankers and Trappers will enjoy this Business Card Case with Dollar Sign Design

Money Managers, Investment Bankers and Trappers will enjoy this Business Card Case with Dollar Sign Design

I soon discover that the yellow pages do indeed have listings for people willing to handle skunks.    I call a few and each quotes about $125 for skunk removal. “Too expensive.  Thanks anyway”.

I hang up and decide that Paulano can handle this himself.   As I “strategize” about how to do this, I realize that because of the bushes and plants, maybe I can get a better look at the trap from my neighbor’s backyard.  Normally, my neighbor and I keep our distances, but when he finds out why I’m knocking on his door at 8:00 in the morning, he’s very accommodating, and gives me access to his yard.  He even offers to shoot my skunk for me.   “Thanks for the offer”, I say, “but I’ll pass”.

After a fair bit of reconnaisance and thought, $125 is starting to look pretty cheap.  I get back on the phone.  “Hello, AAAA Varmit Removal?  How soon can you get here?”

In less than an hour, a guy pulls up in a truck that you can smell before you see, making me thankful for my

Vegetarians and other healthy eaters will enjoy the Vegatables Design Retractable ID Badge Holder by Kyle Design

Vegetarians and other healthy eaters will enjoy the Vegetables Design Retractable ID Badge Holder by Kyle Design.

decision not to put my Mini-Van in harm’s way.   Ten minutes later, the guy has left with my skunk and my money.  Nothing and nobody got sprayed.

At this point, the trap is empty of the skunk, but still full of dirt from the skunk’s effort to dig his way out.   I shake it clean, and place it on the other side of my yard, rignt next to our vegatable and herb garden.   And then, for reasons completely unknown, I re-set the door of the trap.  In so doing, Paulano made another $125 mistake that didn’t become apparent until the next morning. As I took out the garbage after breakfast,  I noticed that another black and white had found his way into my trap.

“Hello, AAAA Varmint Removal?  Do you give quantity discounts?”

After my summertime skunk experience, I have this suggestion for skunk capture and skunk removal:  Before you set your Have-a-Heart Trap, be sure to partially wrap it in several plastic garbage bags, and position them in a way that will easily allow complete wrapping after you catch an animal. Good Luck. You’ll probably need it.

Good Luck will follow you for the whole day with your Four Leaf Clover gift items by Kyle Design

Good Luck will follow you for the whole day with your Four Leaf Clover gift items by Kyle Design

If you, your friend or your pet has had a recent run-in with a skunk, if you are a skunk lover, or if you just like skunks a lot, be sure to check out Kyle Designs. She has dozens of skunk themed gifts and gifts with skunk images that will be a great way to remember your last skunk experience.  Kyle offers engraving too, to give an extra personal touch to your treasured skunk memento.



Boeing 40c Itinerary for Pemberton’s Transcontinental Flight

Way back when, postage for transcontinental airmail was 24 cents

Way back when, postage for transcontinental airmail was 24 cents

Months ago, I wrote a blog post on Addison Pemberton and his restored Boeing 40c.   Be sure to check it out for background.  Today Pemberton began a transcontinental flight in his plane that began at Republic Field in New York, and will end on Monday in San Francisco.  The flight plan retraces an old transcontinental mail route.  Here is the latest info I can find on the 40c Itinerary.

Biplane image on this Kyle Design Vitamin Case

Biplane image on this Kyle Design Vitamin Case

Transcontinental Air Mail Route Schedule, Sept. 10-15, 2008

Subject to Change Due to possible weather-related or other delays.

— Wed., Sept. 10 — Depart New York Republic Field 9:30 a.m. Arrive Bellefonte, PA late morning. Depart and arrive Cleveland, OH Burke Lakefront Airport (BKL) late afternoon/early evening. Overnight stop.

— Thurs., Sept. 11 — Depart Cleveland (BKL) 9:30 a.m. Arrive Bryan, OH (OG6) late morning. Depart and arrive Chicago, IL Lansing Airport (IGQ) late afternoon. Arrive Iowa City, IA (IOW) early evening. Overnight stop.

Aviators Christmas Ornament at Kyle Design

Aviators Christmas Ornament at Kyle Design

— Fri., Sept. 12 — Depart Iowa City 9:30 a.m. Arrive Omaha, NE (OMA) late morning. Depart and arrive North Platte, NE, (LBF) late afternoon. Overnight stop.

— Sat., Sept. 13 — Depart North Platte 9:30 a.m. Arrive Cheyenne, WY (CYS), late morning. Depart and arrive mid-afternoon Rawlins, WY (RWL). Depart and arrive Rock Springs, WY (RKS) early evening. Overnight stop.

— Sun., Sept. 14 — Depart Rock Springs 9:30 a.m. Arrive Salt Lake City, UT (U42) late morning. Depart and arrive Elko, NV (EKO) late afternoon. Depart and arrive Reno, NV (RNO) early evening. Overnight stop.

— Mon., Sept. 15 — Depart Reno 9:30 a.m. Arrive Hayward, CA (HWD) late morning. Depart Hayward mid-day for San Francisco (SFO or Chrissy Field). Return to Hayward. Overnight stop.

Be sure to check local airports for details on public views and access.  Also, you can follow the flight on a daily basis via the following link:  Smithsonian Airmail Odyssey.


Beverly Hills Chihuahua Trailer inspires Aztec Chihuahua Party with Mayan Temple Play Structure

Want a Chihuahua Nightlight?  Click here on the picture!

Want a Chihuahua Nightlight? Click here on the picture!

The trailers for the upcoming Disney movie “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” are readily available on sites all over the internet… Disney or YouTube just to name a few. My nine year old daughter Kayden thinks they are hilarious…. (ok, so do I). So much so that over the summer, the theme for her birthday party was “Aztec Chihuahua“.

Aztec Chihuahua Birthday Party Decorations

Aztec Chihuahua Birthday Party Decorations

Not surprisingly, party favors and party supplies that have an Aztec Chihuahua theme are a little hard to come by, so we had to improvise. We made our own Aztec Chihuahua party invitations and pinata. We also made an Aztec Chihuahua mural for our dining room and my wife made a stunning Aztec Chihuahua cake. We made our own Chihuahua plates, and our own Chihuahua dog collars for the girls to wear and take home. The complete details on the party can be found on the Kyle Design website. (While you’re there, be sure to check out the rest of the sight. Kyle has many unique ideas for kids birthday parties, birthday cakes, and Halloween Costumes. She also has a virtually unlimited selection of cool contemporary personalized gifts. You could easily get all your Christmas shopping done in one visit. )

Aztec Temple, Mayan Temple, Meso-american Pyramid

Kids Play Structure Inspired by: Aztec Temples, Mayan Temples, Meso-american Pyramids, and Disney

Originally, as my daughter and I were planning the party, I committed to building some sort of a Aztec temple or Mayan temple as a decoration. I figured I would use PVC to build something light and cheap. Somewhere along the way, I decided to use wood instead. It was at that point that I got a little carried away. The end result was a functional pyramid-shaped play structure that is inspired by the Aztec and Mayan Temples of Pre-Columbian Central America. It measures 13’x13′ at the base and is nearly 11 feet tall. It features four staircases, a hammock, solar powered light fixtures by Malibu, and a priests’ penthouse at the top. The total price tag for everything was about $600, not including labor or gas money for countless trips to Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Orchard Supply. ( I would have gone to Independent Hardware dealers, but there are none in Livermore.) The sheer entertainment value of building it and using it this summer has already been worth at least $600.

Chihuahua Party Favors were worn by the girls at the party-  big hit!

Chihuahua Party Favors were worn by the girls at the party- big hit!

I built the pyramid in my front driveway. I had intended for the design to be somewhat modular, with all the staircases held by bolts and thus easily removed. At some point, I was sure I would want or need to take it apart and move the pyramid to the back yard. As the project developed, I sacrificed modularity in favor of strength and stability, and ultimately decided that my driveway would be a perfectly fine permanent home for the pyramid. Hey, it matches the house quite nicely, and pizza deliveries to our house are easier than ever. Forget the address, just look for the house with the Aztec temple. Ai Chihuahua!

Check the Kyle Design website for additional details and pictures of the temple and the Aztec Chihuahua birthday party. There are a few there now, and I will be posting more shortly.

A Washington D.C. Family Vacation: Paulano’s Ultimate One-Page Travel Guide

After spending 4 days in Washington, DC with my family, I thought I would take a quick moment to recap some of the highlights and lowlights, and offer a few suggestions to those of you who are thinking of making the same trip.

Tip 1: Use Reagan National Airport if you can. It is only 7 minutes from the National Mall, and the taxi fare from the airport to the hotel was about $11, not including tip. The airport terminal is really nice, and surprisingly laid back.

Tip 2: Stay at a hotel that is as close to the Mall as you can get. We stayed at the Capitol Holiday Inn on “C” Street. It is only a block from the Air and Space Museum, and very close to the other Smithsonian Museums as well. Sure it costs more, but the convenience and time savings is worth it. The hotel itself was just adequate. At the hotel restaurant, be sure to steer clear of the Scampi. For a lite meal, the chicken soup was very good.

Tip 3: Be sure to write to your Congressperson and your 2 Senators, to let them know you are coming to town. They may be able to reserve tour times for you at places like the White House, the Bureau of Printing and Engraving, the Capitol, the Supreme Court, the JFK Center for the Performing Arts, and the Library of Congress. As it turns out, Paulano does not have a lot of clout within the Beltway. He only scored a tour of the Capitol, given by Brianna, an Ellen Tauscher summer intern who was almost as new to DC as we were. The good news was that she related really well to my daughters, and the Capitol Tour was one of the highlights of the entire vacation for them.

Tip 4: Stay away from the shuttle services that continuously run a circuit around the museums and monuments near the National Mall. The Trolley we used was unorganized and overbooked. Every time a Trolley came by, the waiting mob made a wild dash for the Trolley door in hopes of getting on. The courteous, the slow and the unlucky were condemned to wait for the next bus, with no guarantee of getting on that one either. For the attractions that require transportation, such as the National Zoo, Arlington National Cemetery, Georgetown, and the Lincoln Memorial, a family of four can travel much more quickly and comfortably (and perhaps even more cheaply) by simply taking a taxi. Almost everyplace else you can walk to.

Tip 5: Due to large demand, some sites will only admit ticket holders. These sites include the Inside of the Washington Memorial, the Holocaust Museum, the Bureau of Printing and Engraving, and the Supreme Court. The tickets are free, but the process of getting tickets typically involves a family member waking up early on the day you want to go, and standing line. It’s not bad, really. At 6:00 AM, I was first in line at the Bureau of Printing and Engraving. Or second, if you count the homeless guy in the blue blazer who pretended to work for the Bureau. He kept me (and himself) entertained as he barked orders at unsuspecting newcomers to the line.

Tip 6: The Air and Space Museum and the Museum of Natural History are open until 7:30 on most nights, so make those your last stops of the day. The National Archives are usually crowded, so make that the first stop of your day.

Tip 7: The Museum of American History and the Arts and Industries Museums are currently closed for renovation.

And finally, Tip 8: There is actually too much to see. Don’t spend any more than 2 hours at any single museum, and no more than half an hour at any single monument. Obviously, try to organize each day to minimize walking and backtracking. Things I wanted to see but missed due to inexperience were the National Aquarium, the Crime and Punishment Museum, the Library of Congress, the Supreme Court, Mount Vernon, Monticello, and the elusive White House.

For me, the highlights were the Lincoln Memorial, the Afghanistan Artifact Exhibit at the National Art Gallery, and the National Zoo. The lowlights were the terrible, embarrassing condition of the National Mall, and the poor customer service skills of nearly every cashier we encountered . All things considered though, DC is a great place for a family vacation.

For patriotic gifts, and for items that make great easy-to-carry hostess gifts while you are traveling, go to Kyle Design online.  All of the items pictured in this article can be purchased at Kyle Design, including  Refrigerator Magnet Clips, Bookmarks, Money Clips, Business Card Cases and Stampboxes.  Just click on the pictures shown in this post.

Liberty Ship S.S. Jeremiah O’Brien Turns 65

SS Jeremiah O'BrienOriginally launched on June 19th, 1943, the Liberty Ship S.S. Jeremiah O’Brien turns 65 this month. The ship is one of 2,751 Liberty ships that were mass-produced as part of the American war effort during WWII. The O’Brien is still completely operational, and only one other Liberty Ship,Birthday Cake Design Nightlight, Happy Birthday, Jeremiah!  You don't look any greyer the S.S. John W. Brown in Baltimore, can make that claim.

The Jeremiah O’Brien is docked at Pier 45, Fisherman’s Wharf, in San Francisco California, and has a fascinating history. It was one of 7,000 ships that took part in the D-Day invasion of Normandy, and it is now the only surviving ship from that armada. In 1994 the ship, crewed mostly by WWII Liberty Ship veterans, sailed from San Francisco, through the Panama Canal, and onto France to take part in a 50th anniversary commemoration of D-Day.

Cruise Ship Gift for fans of the O'Brien or TitanicThe ship is designated as a National Historic Landmark, and is open to the public for tours. One point of interest is the engine room. Footage of the engine in operation was used in the movie Titanic”. As a family outing, IBallroom Dancing Gift, Business Card Case would recommend it, (the O’Brien, not the Titanic) but don’t wear your nicest clothes. The ship is clean, but you always run the risk of an oil stain if you are not careful.

On occasion, the ship is taken out for a short, half- day cruise. The next one that is scheduled is Saturday, June 21st, 2008, from 10am to 2pm, as part of the O’Brien’s birthday celebration. You can get tickets at My dad was a Merchant Marine in WWII and sailed on a Liberty Ship. During Fleet Week one year, he and I went on one of these Jet Lovers Gift, Air Show Christmas Ornamentcruises. In addition to touring the ship and seeing the San Francisco waterfront, we were hoping to see the Blue Angels. Sadly, this was the one time they were unable to perform for SF Fleet Week, but we had a great time anyway. Be warned that a whole day on the ship could get a little long for kids, so if you have kids, opt for the dock-side tour only.

Family Activity: Maker Faire is Mythbusters meets Burning Man

Giant Spider Scultpture was on Display at the Maker's FaireEarlier this month, my wife and I took our girls to the Maker Faire at the San Mateo Fairgrounds. This was our third visit in three years. The faire motto is “build, craft, hack, play, make” and in that spirit, the faire is a mighty gathering of people who like to like to do just that.

Mostly, the faire features exhibitors who just want to share the cool stuff they do in their garage or studio. The Invader sculpture is just one example of whatKayden and R2D2 you might find at the faire. It is an eclectic group, and you will see a fascinating mix of high tech, low tech, artistic and industrial ingenuity.

Maker faire crowd watching coke and mentos showSpeaking of who else you might find: Click on the picture of the Maker Faire crowd on the left. Can you find Paulano in the picture? I’m the guy with the white shirt and grey cap, just under the grey house. You can see my head, and the right side of my body.

One line I heard at the fair made quite an impression on me. An exhibitor was asked why she was so freely sharing her methods and ideas. Didn’t she want to protect her intellectual property? Her answer was typical of theArnold Pulls the Chariot whole faire environment. “Honey, if any one is smart enough to copy this, Tall Lady at Makers Fairethey’re going to have their own ideas.”

In various years, the girls and I have seen Adam, Jaime and Grant of Mythbusters fame at the fair. We have seen 230 pound battling robots. A chariot pulled by an Arnold Schwartzenegger android. The original Coke and Mento’s guys from Cars that get over 100 miles to the gallon. Muffin Mobiles. Blacksmiths. 40 foot high statues made out of cable. A machine that makes lightning. A larger than life recreation of the old Milton Bradley Board Game Mousetrap. All sorts of interactive exhibits for kids of all ages. And tons more.

Pill Box Gift for the Maker in your lifeIf you plan to go to the faire, you should get your tickets online. This will help you avoid the lines at the door. Also there is so much to see. Plan to go for a whole day at least. If possible, preview the fair schedule the night before so that you can decide ahead of time which demonstrations and exhibits you want to see. The Faire is held only twice each year. The May show is in San Mateo. The October show is in Austin, Texas, October 18th and 19th, 2008.

It might also be a good idea to have a cooler in the car. Instead of buying your food from the vendors at the Faire, you can save a lot of time and money by going out to your car to eat.

Kyle Design has all sorts of gift ideas for the maker in your life. Is your Dad a maker? Is your Grad a little gadgety? Does your Summer-time birthday Girl or Boy like to tinker? Father’s Day, Graduation Day, and Summer are all just around the corner. Be sure to check her website for personalized tape measures, rulers, bookmarks, and switchplates.