Mice in the Garage, DYI Live Traps

When I went into the garage, at times I could hear slight noises. It almost was the sound of dried leaves rustling. Because it is windy here, I was thinking it was the air movement through the garage, as it is not sealed due to the garage door. Over time the sounds became more frequent. I determined there were mice taking up residence in the garage.

I went to one of the greatest how-to sources in the world (YouTube) and searched for, “DYI Mouse Traps”. There are so many people with videos it was almost overwhelming. I modified the search to, “DYI Live Mouse Traps”. This brought it down to a reasonable amount. I started watching videos only to find some of the YouTube creators have their own Mouse Trap channels!

This was certainly better than any television, and the creativity was certainly inspiring. I was confident that in a few days, I would have built a trap, caught the mice and been done with everything mouse related. Little did I know. It appears, eight the Mice here are a lot smarter than some of the Mice the video creators were using.

Watch some videos video and watch the mice almost run to get into the trap. I suppose if they were hungry enough they would almost run to food, knowing they would be let go shortly. The mice here did not appear to be so desperate. I built a simple bottle trap, put some sunflower seeds in and waited. Days gone by and no mice. I decided, the Mice didn’t like the smell of the bottle, so I made a second trap out of a plastic milk bottle. Now with two traps, surely something would happen.

Day one led to day two, which led to week one. I guess the Mice were not that excited about sunflower seeds. I then added peanut butter. Rinse and repeat. Oatmeal must be the key. In went the oatmeal in both traps. No Mice. I wasn’t catching or seeing any mice, so I thought it was my imagination. After looking over the more protected shelve areas, the evidence appeared. Mouse droppings.

Easy to Make Mouse Bottle Traps















Some droppings were near the bottles, but they did not have any interest in the buffet. I watched more YouTube videos. DYI Live Traps run the gamut from simpler than the Bottle Trap, to quite sophisticated. They all seemed to be using peanut butter, and having good results – they caught mice.

I came across two older videos which was only a minute or so long. I wish I had saved them, so I could give it a call out. The first was a trap with a cake pan and a L shaped piece of wire. The wire held the cake pan up on one side. The other end of the wire held some bait, once again peanut butter (I think). The second video was shorter than the first, and it was a Man who seemed to be having the same problem I was having, empty traps.

He said, someone told him the secret was using chocolate for bait. He said Mice could not resist chocolate, and went crazy for it. What did I have to lose? I found a large pan in the garage. It was a monster, about eleven inches around, heavy aluminum. I also found part of an old coat hanger.

I made the coat hanger into a very relaxed and modified L shape. It was short on the small leg, and longer on the tall leg. I doubled over the end to have a spot for peanut butter and sunflower seed. Every day the peanut butter and seed were gone, but the pan did not drop. I did not understand this at first, as it was very hard to balance the pan and get it to stand correctly.

The pan is very heavy and mice are very light! How obvious now. It would take a mouse the size of a squirrel to trip the trigger and make the pan fall. I looked for a lighter pan, and found a bread load pan. I made a new trigger from lighter wire, and put more of U shape in it. At the bait end, I doubled it over and put a small sliver of wood to hold more bait.

I used chocolate syrup and sunflower seeds for bait. The syrup was not viscous enough to hold the seed, and it fell off. Well, a little peanut butter wouldn’t hurt. Changing to a lighter bread pan and using chocolate syrup was the magic combination. The Mice could not resist.

Easy and Effective Mouse Trap

I thought there were perhaps two Mice in the garage. The first day, I caught two Mice. The second day, I caught two more. It seems Mice can hide their presence well. Going into the garage, I can hear slight noise from two different places, so I am expecting to catch at least two more mice.

I am using old cat litter buckets with lids to put the captured mice in. When the pan is flat on the shelve, it is time to move the captured Mouse from the pan to the bucket. I place the un-covered bucket in a large trash can to prevent escapes. I then slide a heavy piece of cardboard (about three-quarters of the size of the top of the bucket) under the bread pan without allowing any space between the cardboard and pan.

Placing the bread pan and cardboard into the litter bucket, I tilt the far side of the pan and cardboard down into the bucket. I then lift the pan and listen to the mouse scratching trying to remain on the card board – which is a losing battle. After a second or two the mouse falls to the bottom of the bucket, runs for cover under the crumpled newspaper without any thought of jumping out. Now I simply slide the bucket lid back into place.

One of the videos I watched said Mice are very good at finding their way home, and need to be let go at least one-half mile away from where they were caught. There is a park about that far away with shrubs and such, that looks like like good mouse habitat, so that is where I let them go. I lay the bucket sideways on the ground, remove the lid, and tap the bottom of the bucket. If that doesn’t work, I carefully reach in and pull back the newspaper. As soon as they see daylight, they run a little slower than the speed of light for cover.

One Mouse Trap maker on YouTube thinks these Mice rarely survive in a new habitat. I like to think, at least they have a chances and if they do not survive, they contribute to the food chain, which is probably what would have happened if they were living outside to start with.

Blocking Ads, Protecting Privacy

I was surfing the web last week when I hit my advertising limit. It was brought about by what was at first a unobtrusive little square ad for a mans wallet. How it came to be attached to what I was surfing for is a mystery. A small wallet ad, is what sent me on a search for a whole new level of ad-blocking.

It was at first a small perhaps almost two inch by two inch ad. After a some web pages, I realized this little ad was following me from web page to web page. The ad placement was subtly changing. The ads location initially starting in the top right corner towards the top center of every web page.

Then the ad became more obnoxious. The little brown wallet, in all its two inch by two inch glory, started shifting from side to side. A web page or two later, and it was quivering right in the top middle of the page. Finally, when I reached the point of enough the ad had morphed from quivering to shaking to traveling around the page top third of a new web page.

Enough was enough. I decided in that moment, I have had it with advertising on web pages. Well, almost. As I changed from whatever I was surfing for to looking for ad blocking, I came across a blog that shared my feelings about ads. The owner stated that on his blog, advertising was limited to a banner on the top of the page, with no more than 140 characters. In my anti-ad state of mind, this seemed more than reasonable.

The result of about 20 minutes on a web portal. 203 ads and 9 invisible trackers trackers blocked.

The next day, I opened my web browser, the articles it collects on its main page seemed to be at an all time high. Usually there seemed to be three to six articles waiting for me. Today there was twelve to fifteen articles waiting. I looked at a few I was interested in, and realized they all contained ads. The article started out like any typed article found in a word processor. After a few seconds, ads started popping up running the gamut from barely noticeable to overwhelming.

This from a web browser, who claims they want to make the Internet more usable. It seems they found a way to capitalize on ads from those companies that pay to be shown in the browser. Whether this is true or not, is unknown, but in my new view of hating ads, it felt more true than not.

I added my favorite web blocker to my browser. I had not really noticed before, but there were ads present while using it. My favorite ad blocker seemed to let ads through. I went to their web page to investigate. I found that even feel, ‘some ads, are acceptable, depending on their location’. That wasn’t enough for me, I wanted all ads gone.

I read about a hardware fix called a Raspberry Pi running a program named, Pi-Hole. After reading about the Raspberry Pi, I decided to give one a try, as they are fairly inexpensive, and sounded like a lot of fun if ad blocking didn’t work out. So I purchased a Raspberry Pi, added Pi-Hole, changed my router settings as suggested, and off I went into the wild blue world wide web.

Creeping through the web, would be an accurate description. I was amazed over the number of web pages that were being blocked due to advertising. I felt waves of relief! Finally, I can surf the web ad free. I did notice a few ads slipped through, but they were well behaved. Some time later I noticed it felt like three-fourths of the web had now become non accessible. Looking for particular information meant, clicking on ten links to find all ten links were blocked by Pi-Hole.

This was ad blocking taken to the extreme. I shut down Pi-Hole and went back to a browser add on solution. After some trial and error, I have ended up using my favorite web browser with two Add-ons. The first is, “U Block Origin”, which can be reviewed on Wikipedia as its web pages are blocked by U Block Origin. U Block Origin I read in a review, stated that there was no good ad. My type of ad-blocker.

The second add on, I mentioned in a previous post, is Privacy Badger. Privacy Badger by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, blocks invisible trackers and gets smarter as you use it. The Electronic Frontier Foundation itself has been around almost thirty years and, bills itself as, “… a champion of user privacy….”, among other things.

These browser Add-ons have slowed loading web pages down as most ads are blocked from showing on the screen. How slow depends on how ad saturated the web page is. Even web portals are brought into line. You can check them out by clicking on these links:

UBlock Origin  and  Privacy Badger

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UBlock_Origin and https://www.eff.org .

ESL Using a Dictionary Simplified

I developed this chart below, to help English as a Second Language (ESL) Students find words in a dictionary faster and with less frustration. I remember learning how to use a dictionary as a child, and it was a slow time consuming process. I remember continually going through my ABC’s in my head for each word, to find its general place in the dictionary, and then in each section.

Simplify Learning the Dictionary

ESL Students have different needs. For many ESL Students, their goal is learning to converse in English as quickly as possible. Learning ABC’s is a lower priority. However, different Students have different needs. Either way, using the letter and word chart below, speeds up Student’s progress, and takes away some of the frustration.

The row of capital letters is delineated between M and N, roughly representing the middle area of the dictionary.

If wanted, the row of small letters is for the second letter of a word, showing where the word will be in relation to the middle of each section. If used, this binds the top row and the letter/word sequence below it together.

The letter/word sequence shows what word is in the approximate middle position of each section, also split by front-half and back-half.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M     N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

a b c d e f g h i j k l m     n o p q r s t u v w x y z

A    anal       B    black     C    cockle     D    dilate     E    entwist     F    flirt

G    glam     H    hex         I    inflow       J     jive        K    kiln           L    lief

M    metes

N    nicole    O    oporto    P    planer   Q    quartet  R    reseat       S    snap

T    tipster    U    unique    V    vesico   W    whid     X    xero          Y    yelp

Z    zig

Let’s pretend to look up the word, ‘Truck’. Looking at the top row of letters, we see, T is about in the middle of the second half of the dictionary.

Optionally, looking at the small letters, we see the letter r, means Truck will be in the second half of the T section.

Looking at the letter/word sequence, in the T section, we find the word, Tipster. We have reinforced the word Truck, will be in the back half of the T section, after the word Tipster.

While, there is no substitute for learning our ABC’s, using two rows of letters and the letter-word combination, helps relieve a Student’s in class stress, and make the process of using a dictionary easier and faster, until confidence and mastery are achieved.

When introducing the Dictionary and how to use it, I provide a printout of the section above, and I show examples of how it can be used. I hope you will find this concept helpful if you are teaching languages or language arts. I left extra empty space on the top and bottom of the chart in case you want to copy the section for your own use.