Code, nerd culture and humor from Greg Knauss.

This afternoon, I arrived home from the hardware store (for the fourth goddamned time) with what wouldn't actually turn out to be the last pieces I'd need to finish a sprinkler extension I'd started on Saturday.

And the yard was swarming with bees.

Bees!

They were everywhere -- clumped into a buzzing, churning mass on the branch of one of the front yard trees; thick and spinning in the air; assaulting a blazingly yellow bush in a planter under the window. The noise they made was a low, electric throb, the buzz and hum of hundreds and hundreds of bees.

I, of course, did the responsible adult thing and got out my camera and got real close.

Bees!

Where the hell did they come from? I'd worked outside all Saturday, tearing down a bougainvillea -- bougainvillea is Satan's shrubbery, hiding vicious teeth behind pretty fuchsia lies -- and digging trenches and, pfft, not a one. The boys had been playing in the backyard all morning and given that they'll screech into the dog-sensitive range at a pill bug, I'm pretty sure the yard was clear, then, too.

But now: everywhere. Bees!

The beekeeper we called came out a couple of hours later and nonchalantly climbed a ladder, knocked the great mass of the hive into a cardboard box and then blithely told me that I was lucky because they were Africanized honey bees -- "killer bees" -- and they're aggressive and dangerous. They'd stung him twice through his thick overalls and the wounds were already swelling. He gets stung a dozen times a day, he said, and takes an anti-inflammatory medicine as a routine.

Bees!

He packed up the box -- full of angry, angry bees and sort of vibrating -- and drove away.

Africanized honey bees were actually engineered, bred in South American in the 1950s in the hopes that they'd take to the hot climate better than the European bees that were used previously. They, unfortunately, did take to the hot climate and promptly kicked the ass of everything else out there. They've been marching north ever since, entering the U.S. in 1990 and California in 1995. Now they're in my front yard.

Just as a tip: If you ever find yourself in the middle of a swarm of Africanized honey bees -- say, with a camera, taking pictures of them -- you drop your arms and quickly walk away. If you start swatting at them and, perhaps, shrieking like a little girl, they get angry, get organized, and get even.

As for us, we're now bee-free. But, Christ, the way things are going, I sort of expect locusts next. And, hey, frogs after that. Frogs'll be sort of cool.

(To see a you-are-there video -- assuming you have low-resolution eyes and a tinny little microphone for ears -- click here.)

Only at two in the morning can "Start a blog" look like the solution to a mid-life crisis.

I've got this friend and we've been e-mailing back and forth for seven or eight years now about what we want to be when we grow up. It's become largely an academic question, because he's now in his mid-thirties and I'm in my, ah, very mid-thirties and the course of our lives has been set -- by the choices we've made while waiting for adulthood to show up, by the responsibilities created by those choices and by the people we've accreted into our lives during that time. It turns out adulthood doesn't happen on your twenty-first birthday so much compile via sediment over the next decade or so.

Family, check. House, check. Crushing debt, check. American Dream, check. Got all that. So why do we keep asking the question?

Because it doesn't feel completely answered: What do I want to do with my life?

That's easy -- or, rather, it's easy to answer. I want to create something, build something, make something, with my hands and my brain and whatever tiny bit of passion I can muster. It doesn't even matter what, really: cool things; fun things; interesting things; silly or stupid things. Things that make other people happy, or amused, or enraged, or some goddamned way other than what they were when they came in. Things that get a reaction, that have some sort of meaning, to me and to others. I want to exercise my creativity in ways that corporate and familial responsibilties don't offer. I love my family and like my company, but they both need me to be solid and predictable and reliable. I want to be that, of course, but more, too. I want to do something.

And the doing turns out to be the hard part. Time, energy, motivation -- they're all necessary and all drained away by the work-a-day world, by all the other things that there are to take care of, the stuff we have to do because our families and our mortgages and our jobs depend on us getting them taken care of. I come home, ground down to a tiny little nub by work and the commute and everything else, and have dinner and bathe the kids and put them in bed and... I'm done. My brain curls up into a little ball and cries itself to sleep. Day after day after day.

But when all is said and done, that's a pretty poor excuse, isn't it? For all the hardship in the world, if the only thing standing between me and some sort of existential satisfaction is that there's too much else to do, well, then, I'm a bigger jackass than I imagined. Which is saying something.

A couple of weeks ago, I finished up a guest stint blogging for Jason Kottke. The results were less than ideal, in the same way that the Hindenburg's landing in New Jersey was less than ideal. In my last post, I tried to sum up why I thought I did such a bad job, to build a theory that explained why the previous two weeks had felt wrong -- a theory of what I couldn't do, and -- in the converse -- a theory on what I could.

And so this is me trying to exercise the other side of the theory, to do what I can. To make something, anything, with whatever time and energy I can tuck away. To try. And the very least, to try.

Hi there! My name's GREG KNAUSS and I like to make things.

Some of those things are software (like Romantimatic and Buzz Clock), Web sites (like the Webby-nominated Metababy and The American People) and stories (for Web sites like Suck and Fray, print magazines like Worth and Macworld, and books like "Things I Learned About My Dad" and "Rainy Day Fun and Games for Toddler and Total Bastard").

My e-mail address is greg@eod.com. I'd love to hear from you!

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