email: cavebear2118 AT verizon DOT com

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Clinton/Trump Debate Tomorrow

I'm worried about the debate.  Clinton has to show great command of all national and international issues (and she will).  She probably has to know the Minister of Finance of Slovakia and the exchange rate of Dollars to Laotion Kips (and she probably does).

All Trump has to do is not pull down his pants and moon the audience...

And then too many people will think him "presidential" for restraining himself. 

If there was ever a difference in expectations between 2 people in a debate, this is it.  And it is not fair.  I grew up taught that knowledge, experience, and nuance matters in life and leadership.  I went through my career that way and I have lived my life that way. 

If Trump becomes our President, my brain will just EXPLODE.  And not because he is, but because enough Americans thought he should be.  It will be a society I no longer want to be part of. 

I live in Maryland.  Maryland is not a contested State.  Maryland will go for Clinton without any doubt.  It is some of the other States I worry about.  Personal opinion of States that go for Trump; they are obviously insane.

I read a very interesting book decades ago (and re-read it sometimes) called 'They Also Ran' by Irving Stone.  It details the losers in presidential elections, why they lost and what kind of presidents the losers would have made.  Stone's general view is that the American voters have generally made good decisions, but sometimes really made bad ones.  His judgements on the elections seem sound.

As he said in his epilogue, the American People have made the better choice rejecting Hayes for Tilden (the election was crooked in Florida and Hayes was chosen badly),  Douglas for Lincoln, Blaine for Cleveland, Landon/Wilkie/Dewey in favor of Franklin Roosevelt, Dewey over Truman,  Nixon over Kennedy,  and Goldwater against Johnson. 

We erred grievously choosing  Taylor over Cass, Grant over Seymour, Coolidge over Davis, Eisenhower over Stevenson,  and Nixon over Humphrey

We made a difficult choice between Smith/Hoover  between equally good candidates.

The rest of the elections seem to have been the better choices.

Let's hope this election doesn't go down in history as the worst decision the voters have even made...

Saturday, September 17, 2016


I have a particularly wary groundhog this year.  I set out my live cage trap but it wont go in.  I've named it Radar.

It is unusually observant.  And, apparently, groundhogs  have great long-distance vision and hearing.  Radar creeps out of the backyard underbrush (which I really ought to get out and cut down) slowly.  To the extent that it can think, it might call ME Radar too.

Radar can see at least 200 feet and can tell if I so much as slowly poke my head over a windowsill.  If I do, he stands up, looks straight at me and runs away.  On the other hand, he cannot creep out into my wildflower garden (which must seem like a Eden of food to him).  I know every stem as well as HE does and he can't hide his little head whenever I look out the window.

I see him as well as he sees me.  I've been kind.  As long as he eats the clover in the lawn, I don't mind.  And my garden is covered with chicken wire he can't get into so far.  If he would stick to the lawn clover, I wouldn't mind.

But he has a natural taste for the wildflowers I am trying to grow in a patch for the cats to prowl through, and when it comes to the cats desires to prowl seeking mice and voles vs the groundhog's eating habits, Radar has to go.

I have tried to scare him away.  I have tried to just discourage him when he wants to eat the wildflowers I'm, trying to grow.    No success on that.

So I will have to set up the Hav-A-Hart live trap cage again.  I set it up in years past when I had groundhogs and caught them right away.  Radar is more cautious.  I read that covering the cage with long grasses is good for suspicious groundhogs, even draping it with landscape fabric is good.

I don't want intelligent cage-wary groundhogs around.  From my point of view, stupid and catchable is better.  The websites say that cantelopes and peaches are the best cage bait.  I have a honeydew melon bigger than I will eat, so I will try some of that.  Radars predecesors ate my honeydews last year before I finished enclosing my garden are last year, so that should work.
I'll hang a slice from inside the top of the cage (because otherwise the ants just eat them). 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Apple Intrusions

I had an annoying incident today.  I decided to download a new version of MacKeeper, some protection software. 

Usually, you just press a few buttons to download a program.  Instead, I got a live Apple Helper.  Who took over my screen...  I won't tolerate that from anyone.  THEY TOOK OVER MY COMPUTER!!!  For all I know, they still have control of it.  I'm uninstalling the program (but who knows if that actually works). 

When that is done, I will use a few anti-virus, anti-intrusion programs NOT from Apple. 

But this really bothered me.  I might have to consider Windows again.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

September 11, 2016

Bitter is the memory and unforgiving is the anger.  It will not fade in my lifetime...

To the innocents ON the planes and IN the buildings, to those who tried to save lives and lost their own...  To those who sufferred from the attempts and lived in hardship after..

Retribution will come eventually...  BY humans ON humans.  Guilt will be found out some bright day.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Previous Cars

"15&Meowing" posted about the car they would like to have.  And as I commented, I relized that what I wanted to say was too long.  So here is the long version.  Thank you, 15&Meowing!

My first car was a 1966 Pontiac Bonneville convertible.  The convertible top was HYDROLIC.  Push a button and it opened or closed without effort.  It was 4 years old, a 20th birthday gift from my parents.  I adored it.  I added a removable (for security) 8-Track player under the dashboard.  I learned the back seat side panels could be removed so I added inset speakers there.  I was working at an auto-aftermarket part of a department store at the time, and one day they sent us a gadget called "Quadraphone".  Basically,  that let you send the music to four speakers, front left speaker and back right, and right front speaker  and back left.  It was cool at the time.

But I didn't know anything about car engines.  Dad wasn't big on teaching.  I learned decades later that he really believed if you wanted to know something, you asked, and if you didn't ask you didn't want to know.  I'm not an "asker".  So I didn't know about changing oil and stuff like that.

From lack of maintenence, the engine was destroyed and when I asked for money to fix it, Dad said that was my problem.  The car sat in the apartment parking lot and they hauled it away before I could afford to repair it. 

After I gave enough horrible stories of trying to bus 15 miles each way to and from work, walking 3/4 of a mile to the bus stop, transferring 3 times and being penalized for lateness when traffic was bad, Dad bought me another car.  He chose the ugliest cheapest car , a purple clunker Chrysler New Yorker ($800).  I saw a beautiful 4-year old 1970 tan Monte Carlo with a brown pebble roof and a sporty extended hood($1200).  And it wasn't that he was poor.  I could say "cheap", but he would have said "thrifty". 

For the first time since I was a child before Christmas, I begged.  I argued gas milage.  I argued "2 years newer - better value".  Dad was buying from a hunting buddy, so he knew he would get the best deal possible.  He fussed and hesitated.

But he bought me the Monte Carlo...  I was so proud to drive that around.  And while we didn't know then, it had speakers in the back.  Great sounds. I loved that car! 

By then, I had learned about basic car maintenance.  I kept good care of it.  But it had a bad engine from the previous owner and the engine locked up one day.  It gets a little strange here.  My sister was married to a car fanatic.  He used to take his engine apart for fun, clean everything and put it back together. 

I couldn't repair a toaster at the time, so that seemed really impressive.  He said it was the same engine as a Chevelle, and he had one and would be happy to replace mine wit it for free and get the Monte Carlo engine and repair IT and use that somewhere.

Dream come true, and he didn't even want my help (as if I could have given any).  Dad thought tat a good deal and drove the 60 miles to me with a car towing device.  We hooked it up, and drove off, whereupon Dad decided that he wanted to buy a cigar so we stopped at a strip mall. 

He mistakenly put the car in nuetral, aimed downhill and we stepped out.  When I saw the cars moving forward, I jumped back into the passenger seat and hit the brakes.  Dad was frozen in place outside the car.  The front bumper on MY car was slightly bent and Dad went ballistic! 

Hey, I saved a store-front crash and it was MY car that was only minorly damaged in the bumper.  And Dad was angry at ME.  The trip went seriously downhill and very quiet from there.

Yeah, I know he was embarassed.  I reacted fast when he didn't.  And he was "the Dad" so he should have.  But I didn't blame him.  I was just nearest and acted faster.  He said I should have pushed on the brakes slowly to not damage MY car's bumper.

I understood he was embarassed by leaving the car in neutral (it was a habit of his generation of stick-shift parking using the parking brake).  I understood that he was embarrassed he hadn't reacted
faster.    I didn't blame him, but he blamed me.

I suppose that was the first time I ever realized that Dad was just another person struggling to maintain a self-image.  And while I had caught Dad in some minor errors in life (and trust me, not very many), that one was the first where he totally lost it... 

I'm guessing I was 25 at the time, underemployed at minimum wage n a department store, sharing an apartment with 4 other guys.  And realizing that *I* did something right and Dad failed and that just because blame was ascribed didn't mean it was right or fail.

Dad complained to Mom tht I had damaged my car.  When I explained it to Mom later, she merely said, "Oh dear",.

I think that was the day I actually became an adult.

As it turned out, the Chevelle engine didn't seem to fit, the Monte Carlo carcass was sold cheap to someone who did know how to restore it.  And I never asked my parents for any help except once and that was a loan for a house purchase I they made me pay full interests on (so that they wouldn't lose a dime).

I struggled to buy a  Chevy Hatchback that lasted 5 years or so.  It had a horrible reputation but I got away with it.  Then, not knowing anything about buying new cars, I went to a chevy dealership and said show me the cheapest car on the lot. 

In my ignorance, and with a more knowledgeable "friend" with me, I paid full price on credit.  My "friend" told me later that he was amazed I paid full price.  But I brought him along because he had bought cars before and he was a negotiator in his business. 

I went off with a Chevette Scooter, which was about the least car you could legally drive on the road at the time.  I got away with that one for 8 years.

He said it wasn't his business to intrude with advise to me on purchases.  Um, isn't that what friends are for?  I gave him advice on some purchases whenever I had information.  He appreciated that.  But woudn't do it for me.  I think he liked seeing other people make poor decisions.

It was the start of a long 30 year road downhill for us (and no, there was no "relationship").  Just a long one-way friendship that finally ended after 41 years.

But I wouldn't want THAT car again...

My next car was researched.  I had learned a few things about buying cars.  I carpooled ans towed a boat.  The Ford Taurus Station Wagon was perfect.  The front seats were split, the back bench seats were rated "very comfortable".  I cared about that.  My carpool LOVED the car.

And it was the first time I ever really negotiated a deal.  I had info on the dealer's costs for all the options from Consumer Reports.  The salesman, in 1988 hated it.  He tried to dismiss it it.  He tried to deny it.  He said they lied...

But eventually, I got the car for $300 over their real cost, it lasted 10 years and I sold it back to the dealership for $3,000.  I loved that car, but it wasn't my favorite. 

A member of my carpool had a Dodge Charger and I liked it.  So I checked Consumer Reports magazine about it.  Turned out there was a family of it, the Dodge, a Chrysler, and the Eagle Vision (being the top of the line).  And when I checked all the features I wanted (nothing too fancy), the Eagle came standard with those at a lower price!   The basic Eagle I wanted was cheaper than the other brands with options.

I had Consumer Reports car info on that one too, but I paid $500 above their true cost.  It was in slightly more demand, and I wanted it more.

So I bought one.  My carpool member immediately bought a fancier car (and admitted why - there are crazy people all over the place, which is why they are always broke).  I kept that one going for 10 years until there was an engine problem the mechanics couldn't get fixed right.

One problem with the low-profile Eagle Vision was that I was commuting on back roads and crowded traffic.  I got SO tired of the new bright headlights in my face.  When The Eagle died, and I was hauling the boat and a trailer more often, I bought a 2005 Toyota Highlander SUV new. 

I had researched THAT on Consumers Report magazine too, but I didn't get the best deal.  They were simply too much in demand.  One problem was that they weren't being built in the US at the time, so the only ones available came "as is" and most came with features I didn't want.  So the ones I did want were selling about as fast as they arrived. 

Sometimes ya just have to bite the bullet.  But it has been a fine car for 11 years. and only 26K miles (I REALLY don't drive much)

So what car would I like to have of all the cars before (restored)?  BTW, how do you like my choice of cars over the years?

1.  1966 Pontiac Bonneville Convertible
2.  1970 Monte Carlo
3.  1986 Eagle Vision
4.  2005 Toyota Highlander
5.  1978 Trans-Am with the Eagle decal on the hood (that I lusted for but never owned)

Well, in order...

1966 Pontiac Bonneville Convertible
1986 Eagle Vision
1970 Monte Carlo

Not the Trans-Am.  I gazed in wonder, but that wasn't my style.  Speed Kills!  And the Highlander is my style, but not my desire.

The 1966 Pontiac Bonneville is my first and true desire...  The Eagle Vision is still too recent in memory.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Another Anniversary

This week, 30 years ago, 1986, I moved into this house.  I don't have the exact date because the legal purchase date and the move-in date aren't the same.  And it took a week to move everything.  But basically, around Labor Day, I moved into my own house.  No roommates, just me and Mean Old Tinkerbelle the cat (who I loved dearly in spite of the name).

It doesn't feel like all that many years, but it is...

It was a "starter house".  I guess I'm still starting...  I look at this place on Google Earth about once a month.  The pictures changes sometimes.  But the house doesn't really.  I know every blade of grass and garden weed.  I can walk around in the total darkness of the middle of the night and know exactly where I am (shuffling my feet carefully to avoid stepping on a cat of course - because THEY move).

If the power went out, in the middle of the night, it wouldn't matter until it got hot or cold.   I know every creak of floorboard, every sticky cabinet door, and every pipe noise.  In fact, I didn't hear a familiar sound last Spring and went down to check.  Sure enough, the A/C condensation reservoir was blocked by some surprise algae growth blocking the disposal pump overflowing onto the basement floor.

I know when the aquarium needs more water from the sound of the pump.  In my sleep.

It is unlikely that anyone will ever know this house like I do.   I was the 3rd person to build on my street and the other 2 left a decade ago.

I know every cat sound and if one jumps onto a kitchen counter, I know which one it is.   They hate that.

And I want it to stay that way for a long long time more!

Wish me a happy 30th in my home...

Mark and the Mews in The Green House, Maryland, United States, Earth, Solar System, Milky Way Galaxy, Virgo Supercluster, and we aren't sure beyond that.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Chess game

Friends, for those of you who can read chess notation, I present you with  what MUST be the ugliest win ever against a computer...

The computer game was set for looking 3 moves ahead because I can't do more more than 2 myself anymore...

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Catching Up With Weeds

I guess I haven't posted in a while.  I guess I haven't done much to mention.  Who gets excited reading that you watered the garden and routine stuff like that?  But such things do need to get done and in August, sometimes just keeping up with watering the garden and flowers is plenty.  Never mind all the inside work which I had gotten behind on as well.

So we had a couple relatively cooler days (meaning 90 instead of 100F) and I took a look around for other things needing attention outside.  Weeds are insidious!  They look about the same one day to another but after a few weeks have gone from a few innocent inches high to 2' high (some straight up, some spreading out sideways).

You may (or not, LOL!) remember that I set up 3 roundish prepared edged planting beds last Fall.
The far one was for wildflowers and I scattered 2 pounds of wildflower seeds there.  A little thin for the space, but I figured I would add transplants into the area later.  I have native flowers growing in a few areas and would add them to places without flowers.  The results have been rather "less than mediocre".  May have been 2 dozen blooms in the whole area.  But most were perennials and they don't bloom the first year much, so I will add more seeds and some transplants this Fall and hope for better next year.

The middle area was going to be for Lysimachia, which has lovely purple foliage and small yellow flowers, but it is invasive.  So I thought putting it were I could mow around would control that.  Alas, I discovered that it is also called Loosestrife and if you look at the common name "loose" and "strife", you can tell it is a problem plant.  I  found it growing in several places on its own and I am trying to pull them all up!  Now I am thinking several dwarf butterfly bushes intermixed with Knockout roses which are generally pest-free and self-dead-heading.  They have no fragrance, but you can't have everything.  I will add a few oriental lilies for some fragrance.

The near area is for color.  I planted 100 or so tulips  and another 100 hyacinths in mesh cages (protection from the voles) and a couple of hundred daffodils straight in the ground as they need no protection).  I'll be adding another couple hundred daffodils in early November.

The hyacinths never came up last Spring, and I figured I planted too late.  But as I was digging around, I found one of the cages and opened the top and pulled out a few bulbs.  To my surprize, they were all solid and had some roots!  They didn't get enough chill time to bloom last year but they seem firm and healthy, and I expect them to come up gloriously in Spring!  And if not, I will dig the cages up and try again.  And if they don't grow next Spring, I will dig the cages up and plant more tulips!

This Spring, I took divisions of standard daylilies (as odd as it might seem, I had a couple dozen 6" pots of daylilies just sitting around existing on rainfall for 2 years) and planted them between the tulip
and hyacinth cages.

 There's a reason for that; the tulip/hyacinth bulbs like to be dry in Summer, and lilies have tuberous roots that store water so they don't need watering in Summer (much).  They make a good combination. I think I will add some Sedum 'Dark Magic' as they are about a foot high and drought tolerant as well as blooming in Fall.  A drought tolerant threesome in Spring Summer And Fall would be awesome. 

But the near spot looked terrible when I paid attention to it last week.  Grasses were growing up all over and spreading weeds below them. 
So I took care of the tall ones first.  Well, there are only 2 good times to weed.  The first is when the soil is soaked.  The weed roots can't hold on to the loose wet soil.   The other time is when the soil is bone dry (unless it is clay).  In good soil the roots come up like they were growing in powder.

So I pulled up all the tall ones in bone dry soil.  I left that one small pile to show them pulled up.  Actually, I filled a trashcan with them.  Not that I would trash them; the nutrients are free and they are great compost after being heated up by sunlight in the closed trashcan for a couple days to kill any seeds.  They look like cooked spinach afterwards.  And then straight into the compost pile they go...
I have some annuals around the outer front edge just for some color this first year.  Being downslope, I can water them enough to keep them happy without soaking the tulip bulbs that don't want to see water until Spring.

And I'm putting up with the orange landscaping flags this year.  Some mark the small newly-planted daylillies (so that I don't pull them up thinking they are grass weeds - because they sure look a lot alike when you are tired) and some mark the tulip and hyacinth cages (so I don't plant anything on top of them). 

Next, now that the tall weeds are gone, I can get at the low-growing weeds. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Cmputer Updates

Well, I defeated Apple.  Sort of...  One of the good thing I have is called 'Time Machine'. I may not use it the way Apple intended.  I have it set up as an external drive.  I'm sure I'm not the only one.  But it does mean that I can restore my Mac to previously saved times.  I did that last night and today.  It took about 7 hours and I'm glad I did it.

Everything works the way it did before and the way I liked it.  iPhotos shows the file names again, the graphics aren't annoying-looking, and the help bar actually answers questions.

I may have to upgrade to the newest Apple OSX someday, but it will not be this day. 

I will not go to the iCloud this day, I will not be forced onto Facetime this day, I will not accept the loss of features I valued on this day.  Apple can be slipped around on its plans again on this day!

I have taken back my computer to when it worked for me, and that is all that matters to me.

And I will hope that when my last program will no longer function, that Apple or Microsoft will have finally solved their problems and made things that are user-friendlyagain. 

Because if they don't, someone else will.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Random Thoughts

1.  It doesn't look like my neighbor is coming back to cut down that tree shading my flowerbed.  He has a trailer still sitting by the street that I know he wants to retreive.  So if it is gone one day and the tree is still there, I'll know I'm out of luck.  I dare not cut down the tree without permission.

2.  I had the sharpest lightening strike ever two nights ago.  There was NO gap between the lightening flash and the thunder.  And the thunderclap was SO loud and sharp it physically staggered me.  The cats vanished. 

I was sure a neighboring house had been struck, but went I went out and flashed a light around, I couldn't see any damage.  Not that I could see very well.  The torrent of rain was so strong and the wind swirling around so much that I was drenched instantly looking out both the front door and the back. 

3.  I finally had to update my Mac operating system.  It gets to where some programs just won't work anymore.  I hate that.  It USED to be that system upgrades added features and security.  Now they seem to restrict them.  Apple seems to be trying to force me in certain directions they think are socially sharing and beneficial.  *I* think they want to deliberately create a society where everything is shared with everyone else and there is no privacy. 

I've read some dys-utopian sci-fi books like that and that is not the world I want to live in.  I left Microsoft Windows 8 years ago because it crashed all the time and required a lot of serious security software.  But I've read recently that Microsoft is a lot more stable and Apple viruses starting to spread around.  It might be time to consider changing...

The general problem is that Apple is becoming more and more "control freak oriented".

4.  The specific irritation (and a good general example) is with the changes to Apple iPhotos.  For a decade, my camera has provided sequential file names to each picture (IMG 5223.jpg, IMG 5224.jpg, etc and iPhotos accepted them as titles.  No more.  They want me to give specific names to each pictures, plus locations, face names, and general subjects.  Like I have time for THAT?  And they are making it hard to not save my files of "the cloud".  I know what that is, I just don't trust them with that kind of access and control.

But what is driving me crazy right now?  The iPhoto program no longer shows the file name of each picture.  I have to go through a couple of menu actions to get that.  And I like having the main toolbar above the window.  It used to just stay there.  Now it won't.  I spent 1.5 hours today trying to find out how to get it to stay. 

I used to be able to look at the top bar and see the day/date/time, now I have to deliberately go look for it.  Sure, I can stick a calendar and a clock next to the computer and check my watch for the time.  But wasn't that one of those things the computer was supposed to free you from?

What's next?  When I change an autocorrect spelling, will it argue with me?  Will it tell me I am making an unwise statement in an email or blog comment?  Will it refuse to allow me to post a comment Apple does not agree with? 

I wonder when the monitor screen will become a camera that watches me as I post, to judge my sanity and mood.  1984, anyone?