email: cavebear2118 AT verizon DOT com

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Looking At New Houses

Every Fall, I wish I had more sunlight for my garden, a little more distance from my neighbors.  And every year, the neighbors' trees grow a few feet higher and hang over the yard a bit more.

But staying has advantages.  No Homeowner Association, all-electric house (and buried cables, so few outages in storms), familiarity, the ease of staying in place,  city water and sewage, dead end street so little traffic, optical fiber internet service, a fence the cats don't climb all around the backyard, and years of landscaping.  I can walk through the house in pitch-black.

But one thing keeps whispering in my mind.  The longer I wait to move, the harder it will be if I EVER do.  And I will get unhappier the longer I stay.

I've emailed the agent to set up an appointment to visit the property I like.


 Inside is open. 

Wondering, since I moved here from an apartment to a new house...  What does it really take to move a whole house?  I can hardly imagine it and it seems daunting!  A 1000 boxes?  How would I even pack drawers of kitchen stuff? 

The last time I moved I had a living room and a bedroom.  Now I have 20 times all that stuff.  Do the movers pack most of it?  Or do they expect to just find everything small in boxes?  What will they do?

I'm only here now because Im afraid of the moving process.  Its unfamiliar and unkown..

Sadly, the times my parents moved us, we just got sent out of the way.  No learning experience there.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The New Samsung HDTV

Well, the Samsung Plasma HDTV repairman arrived Wednesday.  The Samsung Service Center was sure it was a power supply problem easily fixed in spite of the fact that I told them the red indicator light on the set was on.  Well, OK, maybe the power goes there first and then to the TV components.

And I had bought a 24" Samsung HDTV for $138 to use for the week it took for the repair visit (and to show the rest of the system was working).  Half of my TV use is really just listening to political talk shows and science shows, so the small picture was "OK" for a week.

The repairman instantly recognized the problem wasn't the power supply.  He said, if that little red button is on, you have power.  He waved some gadget across the screen and found a tiny crack in the front panel that caused the screen to fail.  "The gas escaped slowly until it failed".    He arranged to have a new front panel shipped, total cost $1,000.

But the next day, I got a call saying that front panel was no longer made or available from secondary sources.  And that Samsung would call me.

Which they did.  They prorate depreciation over 5 years, mine was 3.7 years old, therefore, I will get 30% back.  Aside from that, I was out of luck and was free to purchase any new TV (or not).

So I read up on the newest 60-65" HDTVs at Consumer Reports website.  The bad news is that there are no more plasma HDTVs.  I liked them; the colors are better and the refresh rate higher than on LED HDTVs.  But the LED HDTVs are better than they were a few years ago.  I set my sights of a particular one (another Samsung - the slightly higher rated TVs were a brand I don't know anything about, and I have all these Samsung remotes, LOL) and went looking.

The nearest place turned out to sell ONLY Samsung!  Well, they have a price-matching guarantee and I had already looked up the prices of the model I thought I wanted and the prices were all with a couple of dollars.

So I was expecting to buy the model from Consumer Reports.  The salesman asked to show me one before I told him what I was looking for.  It was a newer more advanced model.  2160 instead of 1080, many times more pixels, double the screen refresh rate, etc.

I am suspicious of tech advances; some don't mean anything.  But he showed me a special picture on it.  Granted, it was designed to show off color and black background (which creates "depth").  I sure don't know everything about TVs, but it was noticeably better than the same display on the standard Samsung LED  HDTV.

As I said I don't know every about TVs.  But I can follow wiring, and both TVs were receiving the same signal through optical fiber.  Well, if they faked that, they are too good for me to tell.  While the salesman was away briefly selecting the surround sound modes, I looked at the 2 TVs .  The lesser picture quality was the exact model I had come in to purchase!  I had not mentioned that to him.

So I was looking at what I expected to purchase vs one with a noticeably better picture. And I understood why the picture was better.  More smaller pictures equal better picture resolution.  The better TV cost $1,000 more, but came with a 5 year repair guarantee, free delivery, and free removal of the old unit.  That adds up.

I chose the better one.

I was delivered today and the picture is WONDERFUL!  Well, showrooms are designed to make the TV pictures look best.  I know about those tricks.  I watch TV ads seeing the tricks and smiling to myself about them.  But the picture of this 4000k HDTV is really good.  It's worth it.

They tried to sell me a surround sound system.  I didn't go for that.  The Bose soundbar in front of the TV was $700 and the wireless speaker to go behind me and the subwoofer was another $700.  Actually, the subwoofer was so strong, it vibrated the chair and that would have made me nauseous.

I have my TV "audio out" going to my stereo system controller.  My floor model DCM speakers give fine sound after a decade )I don't play music load very often).

But there is an odd effect right now.   I was seeing people speak, but silently.  If I had the TV-only speaker on, they spoke.  Something about the system is separating the audio channels.  For now, I have the TV speaker and stereo speakers both on, But I will have to look at the plugs in the TV control box  soon to see if I can connect them better.

Because right now, If I want to change the volume and keep it balanced, I have to change both the TV and stereo volume, and that's a pain.  There will be a way, I just have to find it.  And I've explored the TV controls and seen many options.  For now, a great picture and good sound is enough.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Not Painting The Fence

And FINALLY, I get around to explaining why I don't want the neighbor to paint my fence on hos side...

I have a personal image of my property.  Let's start by imagining I only lived inside my house.  I don't see the outside of it.  But my neighbors do.  They may or may not like the color of my house, but they agree it is mine and all the sides of my house match in color.  As it occurs, my house siding is dark green and fits into the landscape.  There is no Homeowner Association here to complain, but it is not like I painted it hot pink and added lime green shutters.

So the neighbor can't decide he thinks the side of my house that he sees should be painted beige and could just go ahead and do that while I was on vacation.  I care about my house looking rather consistent in color all the way around.  OK so far?

Now, I think of my fence in the same way.  The entire fence is on my property and and I want it to look the same all the way around.  It, in its own way, partly defining my choice of how my property is viewed by outsides just as my house is.

Having the neighbors view my fence in a consistent color makes a difference to me.  One side being one bold different color from the others just destroys my vision of my yard. 

I understand that my neighbor has a view of his internal yard.  But he should have thought to ask who owned the fences around him before he just had people paint them.  I am probably the only person who knows that all the fences around this new neighbor's property are owned by others.  The only fence he owns is those small parts from the sides of his house connecting to the sides.

And I may be the only person who cares.  But I do care.  I specifically like the look of greyish aged pressure-treated wood.  And I don't want people looking at my property from the outside seeing it of different colors.

I hope that all made sense...

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Yesterday, Neighbor and Project

The neighbor just amazes me more and more.  If there is anything he can do wrong, he does.

Yesterday, I looked out over the fence and saw the neighbor's contractors had made "volcano mulch mounds" around several trees.  You don't DO that.  It smothers the roots, invites fungal diseases around the covered tree trunk and invited voles to gnaw the bark away.

If I even meet this guy (he has to move in eventually, there is way too much work being done for a flip or a rental) I will try to help him.  Don't laugh, but I am a real boy scout and helpful type.

But the contractors were ordered to do the weirdest thing so far.

Most house on the street have "swales" at the front of the street.  Those are designed to catch rain from the street and direct them sideways in storm drains.  Those are all just slight depressions in the front lawns.  For some reason, the neighbor's property had to have an actual concrete depression.  I remember the builder being upset by having to install that at his own expense.  Maybe because it was between 2 storm drains.

The new neighbor had his contractor fill it up with rocks!  Rocks like the size of a child's fist.  I didn't say a word.  I'll do almost anything to not provoke this nut into painting my fence and make me take him to small claims court.

You know what happens when you fill a low space with rocks?  Dirt blows in, leaves fall in, mowed grass falls in.  Eventually, it fills up with soil.  And when a space designed for rainwater drainage fills up, water collects.  And around here standing water means places for mosquitos to breed!

And I have to laugh.  They had 3x as much rock delivered as they needed.   Evidently, the owner or the contractor failed geometry in high school.  And do you know how hard it is to shovel irregular rocks?  It is like digging into broken bricks,  A shovel cannot get a good scoopful of irreular rocks...
But while those poor suckers were trying to spread the irregular rocks, I was working on the compost bin.  The last part (I thought) was adding 1/2" wire mesh to the top to keep varmints out.  I measured it perfectly!  It fit precisely on the top.  I found zinc screws ans washers that would hold the mesh down tightly.

Oops, on only the front and back...  Well, the stuff is so stiff, I wasn't worried about the unsupported sides.  Until I pushed only a little and it bent down several inches.  ARGGGHHH!

OK, I can fix that.  1"x3" pressure-treated wood strips will be attached under the sides and I can screw washer over that to hold the sides in place too.  And THAT will complete the project.

I wanna see a varmint try to get into THIS compost bin.  I don't care how clever some varmints are, they can't.  When I put the latch on the front of the tops, I'm not sure some PEOPLE could get into it, LOL!

An addition...  My beloved 60" Samsung plasma HDTV died last week and I might have mentioned that.  The repairman was scheduled to arrive here today between 10 AM and 2 PM.  But that was last week.  So I called them at 9:30 AM to confirm the arrival and also ask if the schedule was more firm.  It is and they say he should be here before noon and will call 30 minutes before.

I've been watching a cheap 24" TV (Sumsungm LED from Walmart and not bad for $138) for a week and it is driving me mad*.  Political news shows are just fine that way, because I only listen to them really.  But the best shows the past few days have been about outer space  and I guarantee the universe does not look as impressive on a 24" TV as on a 60" HDTV! 

Nor do baseball playoff games!  My hometown Washington Nationals have played 3 games and I can't even see where the baseball is.  It is hard enough to see the players.  With luck (assuming the 60" TV CAN be fixed), I might see them "win or go home" later today.

* I must remember/mention that the first TV I ever saw had a 10" screen and when we got a 16" TV in the 60s it seemed amazing.  We never actually knew what Lucy Ricardo looked like before that.  And, BTW, that is why animated shows like the Flintstones were popular.  The characters were drawn LARGE!

TV producers caught on to that and that's why sitcoms and dramas had lots of close-ups back then.  

Historian Mark...  

Well, the TV repairman came.  He found a crack in the screen.  He showed it to me on a handheld device.    I felt there with a fingetip and could detect it. a slight crack.  He said the screen uses a gas sealed front panel.

He mentioned that this one was about the finest plasma HDTV Samsung ever built.  I could shrug that off as a repair pitch, but Consumer Reports said so at the time and that's why I bought it. then.  So he was correct.

It is going to cost $1,000 overall, but you can't get that plasma HDTV at any price now.

And let me say that $1,000 is a large amount.  I could do other things with that money.  But I have that TV on most of the day and love the detail.  Ayla follows golf balls across the screen.  Iza watches lions.  Marley pays no attention.  

The rrepairman asured me of a few things.  Wiping the screen occassionally had caused no damage to it.  I did not cause the failure.

Sometimes things just break...

So a mew front panel is coming.  If from California, several days.  if from New York, 1 day,  He doesn't get to decide that  But he will be the one to replace it.  

If I got scammed, they did a good job.  I suspect not.  Hopefully, in a couple days, I will have a rather  excellent Plasma HDTV good for 5 years.

There are times when you can't tell if you are being played for a sucker   

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

An Incident

I was going to write about my fence tonight, but I was surprised by the sound of gunfire.

I live on a quiet dead-end street at the bottom of a neighborhood behind a department store.  No one finds there way into here by accident. 

So I suddenly heard 3 gunfire shots at 9:38 pm.  "Crack, Crack, Crack"!  And then 2 minutes later, 3 more shots closer, same Crack, Crack, Crack but louder and less echo.  I turned off the room lights and looked out through barely-parted curtains.  I saw 2 people walking down the street, seemingly unconcerned.

I called 911.  Gave them the facts, time, mentioning noticing 2 people in dark clothes.  I told them I had enough experience as a hunter to know it wasn't a shotgun or rifle.  The sharp "crack" sound suggested a handgun.  I said the sounds were too regular and sharp to be firecrackers and that the apparent distance of the sounds matched the walking speed of the 2 people I saw.  I expressed concern about poosibledomestic violence.  The 911 dispatcher said there was a related call nearby.

I always have to warn people about my street name.  I live on street "X DRIVE".  There is a street "X  COURT" nearby.  It causes confusion.  But they are close tother and it can't be hard to get from on to the other.

They said they would have a police car come by.  I said I would be glad to talk to them.  I waited...

It took 10 minutes for a car to drive down the street at somewhat high speed.   20 seconds later, just the time it would take to reach the end of the road at full speed and return, it returned with police lights on.  So I thought it was going to some other street where there had been a problem and the gunfire sounds fooled me.  Nope.

No such luck. 

After another 20 minutes, I called 911 again to ask about my report and any results.  They found my report and said the police didn't see anything.  Well, gee, at 40 mph I suppose they didn't!  They also said I hadn't asked for the police to talk to me.  I had.  I could point to directions of the initial and 2nd gunfire and the direction the 2 people walking had gone.

They also claimed there was no other report of gunfire (though they had said that in the initial call).  When they asked if I still wanted a policeman to come by and talk to me, I said there didn'r seem to be any point to a visit by that time, and the person cheerfully said "OK", and hung up.


I gave the police a report of handgun firings.  From a person who has no record of calls, problems, or complaints.  And they didn't consider it worth investigating carefully.  They did the fastest drive-by check possible, and didn't stop by to even ask questions of me as I agreed to. 

Monday, October 9, 2017

Some Good Things

I complain sometimes.  Well, the things that go wrong bother me.  I don't like failures.  But some things have been going right.

1.  In spite of all my measurements for the new double compost bin,  I failed to  account for the 1/2" hardware cloth on the top accurately enough.  I missed it by an inch.  And an inch is enough for mice and even rats (though we don't have rats here to my knowledge).  A rat in the yard?  Marley would catch those easily.  LOL!

So, today, I added 3" boards to the top . I found 6" wide pressure-treated boards among my collection of excess wood.  I cut them to length and then ripped them in half the long way.  I glued and screwed them under the top frames.  That narrowed the gap to be covered with 36 inch 1/2"mesh to 32"'

Even a mouse can't get through 1/2" mesh wire.  Tomorrow, I attach the 1/2" mesh.  That will complete my compost bins.  Well, OK, I can add some chain to hold the tops at 110 degrees when lifted, but for now they can rest on the fence and that is fine.  I'm declaring the project "complete".

2.  The first compost bin is now a foot deep of kitchen waste and cut weeds.  I have a trash barrel full of old soil and dumped an inch on the top.  That will encourage worms to move there.  I am also setting a small area of good lawn covered with a tarp.  That will stay damp and encourage more worms to the surface.  And I will pound a metal stake into the edge.  When I pound it later, the worms will come the surface.  A trick I learned from Dad.  I will collect them and drop them in the compost bin where they will think they have gone to Heaven.

3.  I had the trailer full of old pressure-treated lumber from the old framed beds of 20 years ago and more from the original 25 year old compost bin.  I hesitated to bring the load to the landfill when it was raining every few days because of the mud and then just never quite got around to it this month.

I finally went there yesterday.  The landfill is more user-friendly!  Small customers like me get to just drive a few 100 feet to a dumpster and toss it in.  They haul it to the real landfill area later.  They don't want cars stuck in their mud.  And there was even a guy there to help me unload my trailer!  OK, I know he was doing "community-service work" paying for some minor crime, but he was friendly and I didn't ask for details.

4.  I took out my electric chain saw and tested it to check that the chain was properly tightened.  In the coming few days, I have 6' long  6" diameter oak logs to cut up into 1" "coins" (like cutting a carrot into round pieces) for use in the smoker,  2  dwarf apple trees to cut down (the squirrels steal all the unripe apples anyway).  More good smoker wood there.  And a bunch of shrubs I no longer want and never loved.  And there are new junk trees that have grown 5' high and must be stopped.

5.  And speaking of unwanted stuff, there are the wild blackberries covering an 1/8 acre after I removed a few trees shading the garden..  You can't win sometimes.  I am debating on how to remove them.  Cutting them down with a hedge trimmer works, but drops them all on me thorns and all and they are hard to pull off.  The chain saw is worse because it is shorter and I have to really get under them.

No brush remover company wants to accept the job.  It is either too small a job for them, or they want to use equipment too large for the area (there are spots I don't want scraped clean 6" deep because there are 100s of daffodils planted there.

I think I need crazy handyman with a steel-bladed weed whacker.

6.  I took 4 wheelbarrow-loads of garden pots out of the basement to the new shelves in the old toolshed.  Every wheelbarrow load makes the basement easier to get around in.  I am even close to being able to have a fire in the fireplace.  I have piles of old scrap wood waiting to be burned.

Between the garden stuff being moved to the toolshed shelves and the scrap wood being burned, I will have 100 more square feet of usable space.  That will be wonderful.

One small improvement every day...

7.  I made pizzas 2 nights.  Hadn't made one for a few years.     They weren't round, but they were good.  And I had dough left over, so I made a calzone filled with bell peppers, cubed smoked pork, an italian cheese blend, and crushed simmered canned tomatoes.

I've never made one before.  It was an experiment.  I made it way too stuffed and large.  Crimping the edges was tricky.  And getting it onto the pizza paddle was delicate.  But nothing broke and with the cornstarch on the paddle, it slid off onto the 400F pizza stone perfectly.

I would normally have cooked it at 500 (and the recipe DID say 400), but I had beets baking on the top shelf so I waited.  The crust was supposed to be "golden at 14 minutes".  14 minutes came and went.

I finally accepted the crust "done" after 24 minutes.  And it turned out GREAT!

On the other hand, why bother?  It is just a pizza folded in half.  I'll just make pizza more often.

Funny story:  My sister and hubby visited me 10 years ago and I made pizza then and referred to them having made it for me when I visited them a few years ago.  She kept trying to "shush" me and I didn't catch on at first.  Oops, 2nd marriage...  It was the first guy who made pizzas...  Yeah, I'm dense...

8.  The Washington Nationals baseball team won a playoff game!  They are notorious for losing them.  So when they were losing in the 8th inning 3-1 I was expecting the worst.  But when they scored 5 runs suddenly, I was shocked.  Maybe they have a chance.

I try not to refer to the home teams as "we".  I'm not on the teams.  But I'm glad when they win.   Not sure "why".  Yeah, it is a bit irrational.  Maybe it is because the core of the team are long-term members.  And it is a "built" team, not a purchased one.  Even most of the new guys are from the AAA farm clubs.  That makes an odd difference.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

A Less Than Great Week

My normal routines have gone entirely out of whack this past week or so.  Too many annoyances...

Let me say clearly,that my troubles are minor compared with many peoples'.  But they are MY troubles and on my mind constantly. 

1.  I just can't seem to get in tough with the owner of the neighboring property.  The contractors won't tell me (don't want to get in trouble).  The County tax records still list the previous owner and I know ownership passed to a bank and then the property was sold.

I need to talk to the actual owner or whoever is managing the contractors renovating the property.  I can't find the person, though the contractor boss says 'he".  I am worried every day they will start painting or tearing down MY fence when I'm not looking.

WHY I care if they paint it is a whole separate post and I will try to get to that soon.  Meanwhile, it is my fence on my property and I claim the right to decide how it looks.

2.  My beloved 60" plasma HDTV died Wednesday.  It just went *blink* and then nothing.  It is only 3 1/2 years old.  The soonest appointment for a repair I could get is next Wednesday.  Actually, I called Samsung for trouble-shooting advice hoping for some rebooting advice.  I didn't know that repairs on those things were even possible. 

The Sumsung service desk says it sounds like a power supply problem.  I have my doubts, since there is a little red power "on" indicator and it is lit.  But maybe there is a circuit past that which can be replaced. 

Anyway, the idea of having no TV at all for week was just too much, so I went to Walmart and bought a 24" model for $138.  Plus, I wanted tit as a test o know if it was the TV or just some cable or the cable box etc.

Right out of the box, the new little TV came right on.  It's the 60" that is having the problem.  Plus I can show that to the repair person.  Having a small TV isn't bad.  Since I have MSNBC on most of the day, I listen to TV more than I watch it.  Who needs to watch talking heads?

But The Washington Nationals baseball team are in the playoffs, and watching THAT on a small TV is annoying.  But I'm old enough to remember our first family 12" B&W TV and then years later thinking a color 20" TV was just "amazing".  So I pulled the TV stand closer to the chair and got used to it.  4 days of "tiny" TV isn't the worst thing.  Some people drink water from polluted creeks...

But I'll still be happy to see the big screen again.

3.  I mentioned a couple weeks ago getting the metal spout of a gas can stuck in the car's fuel inlet.  The dealership did the job removing it just fine.  How they did it is not something I expect to have to know for future situations, but they did suggest I have the timing belt and all drive belts replaced.  Not from wear, but due to age.  They wanted $1000 for that.  My automatic response was no because there was no actual problem.  It wasn't like they said "we looked at your timing belt and it is worn out".

But now everytime I start the car I worry.  Some problems you can see developing.  The engine is hart to start, the engine runs rough while driving, there are noises, the brakes squeal, etc.    But when a timing belt breaks, everything just STOPS all at once and nothing first. 

It's like falling off a cliff.  The falling isn't the problem.  The problem is the sudden "THUD".  A broken timing belt is a "THUD".  That happened on a previous car, and lucky that I was directly in front of a good local repair shop.  They just pushed it into the shop and replaced the timing belt in an hour!  I doubt I would be so lucky again.

I think I may pay for the whole belt assembly.  I've been lucky.  No sense pushing my luck.  The Toyota Highlander is 12 years old.  It only has about 28,000 miles on it.  But it has mostly been stop-and-go traffic commuting and local errands, and that is really hard on an engine.  I want to keep the current car running until there is a good SUV hybrid or fuel cell model available.  I like SUVs for the height and cargo capacity.  And since I don't drive much, gas mileage isn't a concern.

4.  I'm listing information about Iza to bring to the vet.  My thanks to everyone who mentioned things to ask about.  I want to talk to the vet about a plan of exams rather that just bring Iza to the vet and say "do stuff"  I want the vet to think about it, advise me of what tests he indends to perform, and them look them up before I agree. 

But I'll do anything within reason to make her life (and mine) better.  My regular vet of 30 years gets the first chance to identify her problems.  I trust him a lot because of years of good attntion but also because HE was the one who found Ayla had almost a whole ovary after the breeder's vet did 2 failed spay operations.  But he might not be so skilled/equipped at detailed tests.   I know of a certified feline specialist (an annoying hour drive away because of few bridges across a river but closest - 40 road miles, 10 as the crows fly) and will go there if my regular vet can't find the problems. 

But to be clear, the feline specialist vet wanted $1700 for exploratory surgery and my vet did it for $400.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

More New Neighbor, Part 2

I have to laugh.  When the contractors arrived at 8 am, I went over and greeted them a "good morning" and asked if the owner was around.  They said "no" but would arrive in about 20 minutes.    So I waited, and when a guy in a pickup truck arrived in 20 minutes, I went over to introduce myself.

He wasn't the owner.  The workers considered him the "owner" perhgaps because he is their boss. He wasn't actually the owner, LOL! The workers are not native-english speakers (just a fact), so I can understand that "boss" and owner" may seem very similar.

But I talked to him (the boss) and we discussed the fence, the trees shading my garden,  and where the property line actually was.  He agreed that they would not paint my fence, and that he would give the card I had made with the my name, address, phone number and email to the actual owner (but he feared giving me the same information would get him in trouble).  I understand contractors can be cautious about that.

The main thing is that he seemed to understand the fence was not their's to paint and he would have the actual owner contact me by email or phone.  Hopefully, that will start a discussion.  I understand the new owner wants a particular look on the inside of his yard.  But I equally want an exterior view of the outside of mine.  A besides, it IS my fence. 

But until I get some assurance from the actual owner that he won't just tell his contractor to paint the fence anyway, I won't be sure.

It will be interesting to see what happens next.  I want the new owner to contact me be email so that it is all on the record.  If he calls on the telephone, I will insist on a followup email about what we discuss.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

More New Neighbor

I stepped out on the deck this morning, and noticed the contractors were spray-painting the inside surfaces of all the fences around the yard.  Fortunately, they started on the far side from me.

The new owner doesn't actually own any of those fences.  They were all built by neighbors.  The only fence the new owner owns is the small amount from the side of the house to the other fences.

I might be the only person who knows that.  AFAIK, I am the only person residing here who knows who built the fences.  All the neighbors are newer than me.  So maybe they don't care.  But I do.

I deliberately set my fence 1' inside the property line.   I did that partially because my Dad said it would give me the right to repair the outside of my fence if I had a difficult neighbor.  But it also occurred to me that the neighbors could mess with my fence claiming a shared ownership.

Which means they couldn't damage it with trellises, hooks for planting vines that would dig into it, huge hooks from the fence to a tree for hammocks (one tried), or paint it.  That 1' beyond the fence is still MINE, for access for repairs and not damaging the fence.

So I walked into the neighbor yard and asked the contractor if he intended to paint the MY fence.  He said that was his instructions.  I  asked for the telephone number of the owner. He claimed not to have it or be able to get it.  I advised him that the fence between the properties was ENTIRELY on my property and they were not allowed to paint, replace boards, or do anything connecting to my fence.

He repeated that he had instructions.  I declared I would have the police here promptly if they touched my fence in any way.  That stopped him.  I told him to have the owner visit or contact me to discuss the matter.

I have a few ideas and facts respecting property here and in general.

1.  There is no neighborhood association here.  That is a MAJOR reason I stay.  I want the freedom to do as I please.

2.  I have lived here 30 years and neighbors come and go every 5 years or so.  I pay little attention to them so long as they don't throw loud late-night parties or get into screaming domestic violence fights at 3 am.  Both have happened with some neighbors frequently.

3.  You can't touch my property.  Including the fence,

4.  My view of my property from the outside (street and from the neighbors' views) are mine to control.  I control what people view from the street about my house.  I equally control how they see the OUTSIDE of my fence (and mentioning again the fence is all set in 1' from the property line, so the fence is ALL MINE)!

That also means the neighbors have to see my fence (on my property) as I choose to present it. They don't get to paint it to suit them.

5.  I like natural wood and earthen tones.   I can enforce that on my OWN fence.

Can't wait to see what happens tomorrow.

I've tried to identify the new owner, to nor success.  The County tax assessment site show the owner as the the guy who abandoned the house a year ago.  A bank owned it after him and it sold the property to an individual.  I can't identify the actual owner at this point.  County records seem to be almost a year out of date.

I might be open to some negotiations.  There are some junk trees that shade my garden that could be removed if the roots are grinded out and not allowed to grow back.  There is a specific mulberry tree (that they pruned heavily but will grow out more branches in respose) that I would like to see removed entirely (roots ground out for thorough killing) that shades another part of my yard.. 

If the new owner agrees to do that, I might allow the painting of the outside of my fence. 


Sunday, October 1, 2017

My Crazy New Neighbor

The foreclosed hose next door has had contractors there for 3 or 4 months now.  I appreciated the clearing of some trees.  The original contractors wouldn't tell me who the owner is.  OK, I don't blame them.  They might get in trouble. 

But this week, they painted the bricks on the front of the house.  Its a color I'm not sure how to describe.  "Dried Blood" seems closest.

Then they planted some evergreens in the front.  2' away from the foundation and 3' apart.  After they left, I saw the labels were still on the plants.  Arborvitae Smarang or something like that.  It will grow 15' tall and 5' wide.  LOL!

I really can't wait to meet this person.  Either they are a totally whacko, or they may be the most "interesting" neighbor ever. 

And I say that cautiously because the lady next door on the other side has metallic frizzy purple hair and wears only black.

There has been pounding going on there for 2 months.  I haven't been able to think of any renovation requiring 2 months of hammering.  The truck in the driveway always says "Cabinets".  Maybe they are digging down and building a really fancy "end of world" shelter complete with rec room, LOL!.

The tree-cutting was interesting.  First, the workers cut all the branches of the overgrown apple tree below 10'.  And then a couple scrub trees (that weren't shading my yard). 

Then a week later they cut it down entirely.  I tried to ask them for them if I could have the wood (apple wood, smoker grill, good flavor) but none of them spoke English.

Somewhere in there, the owner must have been around, but I couldn't just stand there shouting "hello" all day.  When whoever it is moves in, I'll probably recognize he/she/them.  Oh for all I know it will be the cabinet truck guy doing work for himself..

No problem, just I'd like to talk to the owner before they get all settled and decide they love that tree I want cut.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

A Week In The Life.

Some of you know that I don't live a regulary-scheduled life, LOL!

So here is the past Tuesday through Saturday:

1.  Stayed up all night Tuesday 8pm - Thursday 8 am visiting cat blogs, processing camera pictures, and shifting between a gardening forum and an atheist forum.  Yeah, that 36 hours.  Went through a 1.5 l bottle of wine and 4 packs of cigs (hey, it WAS 36 hours). 

2.  Visiting my cat-friends takes about 2 hours, and then I get email notifications to new posts and I comment.  I always comment.

3.  I love reading posts at the gardening site and spent a total of a few hours there.  Sometimes there are questions I know something about and I answer.  I've been veggie and flower gardening for a few decades, so I have some experience.  I I have a good library to consult when I'm not sure.  I consulted my Peterson Guide of Eastern Trees when somewhere was trying to identify the specific one in her back yard.  It was one I have never seen, but the leaf shape was unique, so I mentioned it.

Sometimes there is new information I value.  Sometimes I ask questions.  I am new to growing Venus Fly Traps (for example) , so I'm the one asking questions there. 

4.  The atheist forum takes a lot of time.  There are atheists, agnostics, and theists there, and many of the posts are long and factual.  It takes some time to reply to those well.  I probably spend a lot of time there.  I joined this forum October last year and have over 4500 posts there now. 

Mostly, I discuss everyday events with other atheists.  Yes, atheists discuss almost everything from politics to cooking, to movies.  But it does mean we don't have a religious view on them.  Atheists may have a more reality-based approach to life, but we also love sci-fi and can do the "willing suspension of disbelief" as well as anyone if not better.

5.  I tend to switch back between the gardening and atheist forums.  I use up all the threads in one and go back to the other.  I don't mean that I post fast.  I give a lot of thought to each.  My interest is to answer posts carefully, well, and in detail without be overly long.

You can always tell tell the theists' posts by length.  They go on forever before they start quoting religious texts to get to their point.    I treat them kindly, with facts.  They can decide whether to change their minds if they want. 

6.  After a long time on the computer, I usually feed the cats (yes I fed them regularly before) but always make sure to feed them a good meal before I go to bed.  Because staying up that long means I'll sleep 12 hours after.

7.  When I got up Friday, I started on making a hinged top for the new compost bin.  Sometimes you build things by measurement.  But having the compost bin built, I simply put boards on the top and marked the edges for cutting.  Friday, I cut a lot of boards to size.  I glued and clamped some but even with mosquito repellent all over me, they were fierce around my eyes and fingers.  I worked fast and ran.

8.  Saturday afternoon (after another 12 hours in bed- I did have to catch up)  I went out to complete the top.  Fortunately, it was windy and the mosquitoes have trouble with winds over 10 mph.  I got the entire top structure completed.  OK, not the screening, the wood structure.  The hinging was perfect.  The 2 bins now have tops that lift up smoothly.  All I have to do now is attach 1/2 wire mesh to the top and add a few spacer boards under it.  That will leave no space for even a mouse to get inside.

9.  Added a lot more garden stuff into the old toolshed with the new shelves.  Every day, I will clear more basement space.  Weeded the Fall garden a bit.  Not many weeds left.  A year of weeding as removed most and I suspect there aren't many viable weed seeds left there.  Which means I can FINALLY tackle the part of the backyard overgrown with wild blackberries soon.

There is always SOMETHING that needed attention "last year", and I am always behind on some part of the yard.  On the other hand, suppose I caught up with everything?  What would I do?  OK, fix up the house better...

I'll do that when Winter arrives...

Thursday, September 28, 2017


Well, I got the toolshed shelves finished.  Sometimes you have to stop seeking perfection and "just do it"!

I got the shelves to match up in the corners.  The bottom left shelf ended up 1/4" out of level.  But its a 25+ year old shed, nothing about it is level or square anymore, and it needs a new roof.  So I'm not going to worry about it.
I had to put 2x4 boards behind the shelves to keep small items falling out the back (the sheves are on exposed 4" studs).  I would have used 1x4 boards, but I bought 10" wide boards instead of 12" wide boards and the brackets would have stuck out otherwise and not allowed me to use the front screw hole in the tip of the bracket.  A 10" bracket IS 10" long; a 10" board is only 9 1/2".
Just moving some pots to the new shelves gained me 16 sq ft of basement space, and I have lots of garden stuff still to move.  I expect to recover about 50 sq ft when I transfer more "stuff" from the basement to the shelves.  And there will be more shed floorspace  to store power equipment I seldom use (but use a lot when I need it) when I take small amounts of some stuff out of large boxes and add them to the shelves. 

That will make more sense when I fill the shelves and get some of the equipment stored in there.  I'll take pictures.

In 30 years, I've accumulated a lot of equipment.  Snow-blower, tiller, chipper/shredder, lawn-roller, aerator...

Those things are cluttering up the garage and the REAL shed.  Yes, I have 2 sheds.  More importantly though, it frees up room in the basement for woodworking, and I am determined to make the basement easier to do work in. 

And with Winter coming on, I have some wood-working projects in mind to occupy my time

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Fall Plants

I went to Walmart today.  I am perfectly happy shopping at Walmart for brand-name stuff and AFAICT, their generic stuff is just fine.  They buy their generic dishwashing liquid and aspirin from the major manufacturers anyway.  On the other hand, they also sell the cheapest appliances (like M/W ovens that are near the bottom of the Consumer Reports ratings and I don't buy those. 

And they usually have cheap plants and yard supplies.  The same brand of Product X is typically 10-20% cheaper at Walmart than at Home Depot or Lowes and I want to reward cheaper prices.   My cardinals can't tell where I buy black oil sunflower seed and the cats can't tell where I get the Tidy Cats litter buckets from.  And keep in mind it is not a question of small local stores versus Walmart.  The small local stores are all gone.  It is between Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe's, and sometimes Safeway around here.  I would mention Giant Food, but I buy mostly fresh produce abnd Giant's is pathetic.

So I wanted Mums and pansies and various odd stuff today.  I saw that Safeway was selling 1 gallon Mums for $9.99.  Home Depot and Lowe's (between which is never a penny of difference) $10.98, and Walmart $3.99.  Guess where I bought 4 pots?

They didn't have pansies yet.  Next month...

The Mums were beautiful and healthy.  I already had 2 orange from last year.  Now I also have 2 yellow and 2 red. 

The deck pots of Summer Marigolds and Salvia have been great this year...

The Salvia have been so good this year, the hummingbirds visit them first and only "top off" at my nectar feeders.  Next year, I will have lots more Salvia.

Now, THIS is where Walmart fails.  I want nice pots to set the plain black plastic ones into until I plant them in more permanent spots in November.  Walmart was done with planters in August.  They have Christmas stuff up now!

Well, I have saucers to hold rainwater. and I water the deck plants every other day when there is not 1" of rain.  Tjey should look great until dormancy and planting.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Those Toolshed Shelves

Those shelves are becoming annoying.  I mentioned last post that I made a template to rest on the floor from a scrap board, thinking that I couldn't possibly have any problems knowing where it drill in the exposed studs to make the shelves perfectly level.

After I got the shelf boards cut a little shorter than the narrow wall of the shed, they all went onto the template-installed brackets beautifully (after I flipped it to account for some brackets having holes on the left instead of the right like the bracket I used to make the template.  I had checked the level on the floor under them first, and it was fine.

So yesterday from the project for the day. I set about installing 2 more shelves abbutting the new ones.  I predrilled holes just like in the first, accounting for the number of brackets I had remaining.  The shelving boards were nice and flat, how could anything go wrong?

The cruelty of the Universe is SUBTLE and unending...

I attached the 40 shelf brackets.  I placed the shelf board on the brackets.  To assure the shelves abutted  the previous ones, I clamped the ends together.  The shelf was 1/2" above the bracket nearest the previous shelf.

HUH?  How was that possible? 

I placed the board template next to the bracket; it was in the right place.  All 4 brackets were.  I was frustrated.  It is possible to be both frustrated and patient at the same tie.  "Frustrated" is a momentary annoyance, "patience" is long term.  Patience usually solves frustrations.

I removed the brackets.  I physically held  a bracket up under the shelf and marked new spots to drill.  I drilled.  I reinstalled the bracket.  Then I checked the shelf for level with a 4' long level.  It was 1/2" off.  Worse, it leaned forward a bit.

Frustrating.  I'm not obsessively perfectionist, but I do want shelves to be pretty much level.  So redid the brackets, changing exchanging the left-hole brackets for right-hole ones to make the holes a bit apart so the lag screws wouldnt get into the wrong holes. 

Then I loosened the clamps holding the shelf to the previous one.  It popped down 1/2".


I went away from the toolshed for the day.  Trying to solve problems when you are frustrated is not a good idea!

So I went back at it this afternoon.  Well, I should mention something about the shed.  It was built almost 30 years ago.  Because local property assessment laws said a ground-contact outbuilding would be taxed but a "temporary" one (such as a shed set on cinder blocks would not), I built it that way. 

Over the years, apparently, the cinder blocks have settled a bit, and the shed (basically just an empty box with a floor and roof) had slowly twisted to adjust.  The floor is no longer level.  The wall studs are no longer perfectly vertical.  Nothing about it, in fact, is still square! 

Damn!  Well, the structure is still sound.  I do not intend to rebuilt it just to make the shelves level!  But I still wanted the shelves to be level.  So with the new shelf board clamped to the previous new shelf, propped the far end of the new shelf to were it was level lengthwise and and narrow-wise.

Surely the brackets would fit squarely under the shelf...  HA!

Well, I have some packets of shims.  These were as long as the brackets, going from 1/4" to 0.  Holding the shim against the stud and holding the bracket to the shim, it was utterly, perfectly level!

I glued the shim to the stud and went off to weed the garden for 30 minutes while the glue dried.  I went back, knowing I would see the bracket fit perfectly under the shelf!  How could it be otherwise?


It was 1/4" off.

The cruelty of the Universe is subtle and UNENDING...

I can't make shelves level in both directions in a shed box that isn't square in any dimensions.  I'm sure a professional could, but apparently I can't!

I'm going to just put the last 2 shelves on as best I can, screw a 1"x2" board on the front of the shelves so nothing can fall off, and call it done.  Declare victory and walk away.

I have too many other things to do...

And I should mention that I have a newer real toolshed next to it.  Concrete floor, build like a small house, solid.  Yes, I have that much gardening stuff to need the old one too.  I think I'll have some company build a 2nd like it to store the stuff in the old one and be rid of it.

But I still want the old one until then.  I have 1/4 of my basement filled with stuff that belongs in a garden shed.  And until THAT stuff is removed, I can't set up my shop equipment without crawling over stuff everytime I want to use a tool. 

Fill the old shed with stuff from the basement, organize the basement, do woodworking over the Winter.  That's the plan...

But I still can't believe how frustrating just adding level shelves were...

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Shelves Et Al

I made a template for brackets for the shelves in the toolshed.  It didn't work.  The brackets had offset holes.  But it turned out some were on the left and some were on the right.  So I still had tpo "wing it".  Worked.

An 8'x12' toolshed doesn't mean the INSIDES are that size.  I went crazy cutting the shelves down to lenth to fit.  And 1/4" short so they could expand from humidity.

I saw a groundhog at the far end of the yard yesterday.  He saw me too and went to his borrow.  Under the toolshed!  I have to chase it out.

But first, I have to clear 50'x50' of brambles.  Several possibilities.  Hire someone (tried that and failed.  Too small an area for them to bother with).  Tried cutting them with a hedge trimmer then a chain saw.  The brambles just kept falling on me with difficukty getting loose of them.

It looks like I am finally going to have to use the gas weed whacker with the steel blades.  It scares me, but if I am careful...

I'll make sure the neighbor is available in case of an accident.

Saw a picture of a cool way to make a circular saw 45 degree angle cutter in a woodworking magazine.   Cheap materials but great results.  Bought the hardboard piece today.  If it works, I'll show pictures.

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Neighbor

I have to laugh.  I have not yet met the new neighbor.  But he/she has a lot of contractors doing a LOT of outside and inside work.  Which is good I suppose; means they care about the property

But I had to laugh because the contractors first trimmed up the trees 12" high.  OK, a little more light in my yard.

But then they came back and cut down every single tree in the yard (trimmed before or not) EXCEPT the only ones that shaded my yard.  It is to cry...

BUT, a little positive manipulation...  I talked to the Boss worker.  Told him he might score some points about this one tree.  A mulberry tree.  The berries fall on the ground.  You step on them and you stain the bottoms of your shoes.  Then you do inside and it stains the carpet.

That's true.  It is why I cut down mine years ago and where their's came from.  He said he would tell the owner.

If that doesn't work, I will point out to the new owner that the berries attract mice and rats.  Not that we HAVE rats around here, but the new owner won't know that. 

I am only slightly embarrassed about telling a fib.  OK, a lie.  But I sure would like that tree to be gone.

I wonder if I could bribe the workers...  Somewhere between $20 and $50?  $100?  They get paid by the hour for their work anyway...  And the more hours the better, right?

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Car

Well, the dealership got the metal spout of the gas can pulled out.  The ticket manager I spoke to didn't have all the details, but she said they used some hydraulic "puller" to get it out.  The mechanic who did the work wasn't available at the timer.  Probably laughing his ass off to hard...

I suppose it doesn't matter what they used.  *I* sure didn't have one and never will.  What are the chances that would ever happen again?  I know for sure I will never make that mistake again. 

She WAS pretty sure they had never had to make that exact repair before. 

They also said I should replace a timing belt.  A mere $1,050.  I asked why and they said "age".  Well, yeah, the car is a 2005 and I bought it new, but it only has 27,975 miles on it.  I don't drive much.  They seem to have just seen the years and saw "timing belt" on their list.

But great, now I have to worry about that every time I drive...

I've been trying to make this car last until I can get a functional hydrogen fuel vehicle.  I probably can't make it last that long.  Low mileage or not, age DOES matter.  I don't really need an SUV.  I could go for a hybrid mostly, but I do have to haul a trailer sometimes.  I may be stuck with at least a wagon. 

I'm not sure I can sit in a car that low anymore.  So I may be stuck with an SUV.  I had to rent a sedan for a week a few years ago, and the visual perspective was SO WEIRD!  Habits form...

I had a timing belt fail once.  By great luck, I was right next to a service station.  It took 3 hours of sitting around.  They had other cars they were already working on.  But it was only a few hundred dollars.  I think I  will take my chances on the timing belt lasting a while. 

And the new vehicles are coming out in the next couple months...

I don't like all the fancy stuff on the new cars.  I'm not a heavy internet person.  This desktop does about all I need.  So having internet access in a car is not a deal for me, and I'm not sure I'm ready for a car that decides on it's own to stop suddenly.

I usded to laugh at people who bothered with manual transmissions because they liked the "control" it gave them.  I may be doing the same, but I don't think so.   The new stuff is more proactive. 

I've kept cars a reasonably long time.  Oh I don't men like some guy who loved his 20 year old car and kept it running 200,000 miles.  But my last cars have lasted 10 years, 8 years, and 12 years.  Maybe it IS time for a change.  Mileage isn't "everything".  I don't like a car I can't trust.

Maybe I'm talking myself into a new car...

Bet I'm looking at Consumer Reports magazine about SUVs tomorrow!

Monday, September 11, 2017


Forever and always, never forgive and never forget...

I didn't see the 1st WTC  tower fall.  I saw the 2nd.  I FELT the Pentagon explosion right up through the floor where I worked in Washington DC.  I didn't know the cause of the THUD at the time, but I learned soon enough.

Everyone was evacuated.  I saw the traffic jams outside, so I stood on the roof of the building while there were rumors of another suicide plane.   It crashed in Pennsylvania due to the bravery of the passengers.  I won't forget that either.

When the traffic vanished, I drove home.

"Embedded in the memories of everyone who lived through it, this was the day four jet planes were hijacked and crashed into the New York World Trade Center and the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, causing the deaths of 2,977 people. The fourth plane (United Airlines Flight 93) was directed at Washington DC, but its passengers bravely attempted to take back control and it crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania."

Image result for 9-11 images

Never forgive, never forget...

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Random Thoughts And Observations

It has been so rainy here lately, the slugs are crawling up on the front steps to get out of the wet.

The moquito larvae are drowning in the grass.

Rice is growing wild in the lawn.

I used an umbrella to get the mail 3 days ago and set the umbrella to dry in the garage.  It is still wet.

The cats found a fish hiding in the basement!

My Civ2 game declared all my land units drowned.  But I have lots of Subs.

The local gas station is giving away free water with every fill-up.  And if you take away 5 gallons, they give you a gallon of gas free.

The local dowser turned his forked stick upside down trying to find dry spots.

A dry spot appeared in the sky and everyone cheered.    And took pictures.

Local Republicans are acknowledging "Climate Change" and blaming local Democrats for not doing something about it.     Local Democrats are denying they ever liked "rain" and proposed a Bill banning it.  President Trump is denying it is raining.  He says it is "fake news".

The cats insisted on going outside but they got tired of swimming in the lawn and came back inside.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017


Not that we have had all THAT much rain compared to Houston or India, but we got more than usual here for 2 months...  I have never seen such huge mushroom here.  Those are standard 22" flats next to them...
And the rain gauge nearly overflowed...

Sunday, September 3, 2017

House Anniversary Day

Yeah, I know it is Labor Day, and that is a meaningful Holiday here in the US.  But for me, it the day I moved here.  First and only owned house, 31 years ago now.  I never would have expected to be here so long on that day I moved in!

Every year, about this time, I think about moving.  Before I retired in 2006, it was because of the traffic.  I live in a town where The Highway comes through, and traffic was bad then and worse now.  But being retired, I can avoid most of the traffic now, shopping at 2 pm Tuesday-Thursday.

The past 5 years, it has been because the neighbors have let trees grow all around my property line, and the loss of sunlight makes gardening harder. 

But I know every square inch of the yard and I could walk around the house in complete darkness.  I really like the room arrangement too.  You walk up a half-flight of stairs and the kitchen, living room room, and TV room are connected in a circle.  A hallway goes off one side and leads to the main bath and the 3 bedrooms.  And the neighborhood has buried electrical lines, which are great.

When I saw the floorplan 32 years ago, I knew it would work for me.  I can see the TV from where I prepare food in the kitchen.  And since I spend a good bit of time doing both, that is great!  I don't like the basement though.  It has a staircase right through the middle of it, which makes arranging my woodworking equipment awkward.  I chose to have a built-in garage.  I wouldn't do that again. 

If I moved, I would want the same floorplan above basement without the built-in garage below and would want the garage to the side (2 car garage if possible - 1 bay for a boat.  2 acres of land to assure sunlight for the garden.  City water and sewage.

But for now, again, I will stay...

But 31 years, hurray!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

This Is A Weird Post

Forgive me, this has been an odd week so far. 

Monday, I woke up to find no water pressure.  Hmmm...  Maybe there was a water main break.  Well, OK, I got a letter from the water company 2 days before and should have opened it, but I assumed it was the regular quarterly bill.  Maybe it was a notice of repairs.

So I opened it.  It was a notice I was Past Due and they were shutting off my water Monday morning.  Oh great!.  I lost the regular bill among the junk mail.  It happens every few years.  Its the only bill I can't set with automated payments that matters.  Well, the Property payment comes once a year, but all THEY can do is add 1% after 3 months overdue. 

The County shuts off your water after the bill is due.  And they will not arrange for direct billing to my bank account.  They do it because they can.  You can't live a life without water.  I went through 4 hours of no water while I arranged a telephone payment and THEN called another office to get the water turned on again.

I actually have some odd tools that would have turned it on again, but that is probably a hanging offence.  But they did respond quickly to turn the water on again.

My week went along til last night.  I visit some forums most of you wouldn't.  Religious, political...  Gets me really worked up sometimes.

So last night, after spending 6 hours at them and burning through 2 packs of cigs, I suddenly wanted to listen to a particular piece of music.  I don't know the name of it and I can't display musical notes, but is it the standard piece used for charging horsemen.  You would know it if you heard it.

I couldn't find it, but I found a lot of music I liked.  "I Will Wait For You" always gets me.  I've found that site by accident before.  There are other versions.  I listened to them all.  And for some reason, the site suggested darker songs. 

Black is Black, House of the Rising Sun, Eve of Destruction, Smoke on the Water,  When the Bullet Hits the Bone, etc.  I spent 4 hours going from song to song.  I am in a black mood...

This has happened a few times.

"I Will Wait For You" by Connie Francis sounds lovely, but to me it is when Fry in Futurama discovers his long-lost dog fossilized in the  future and it could be resurrected,  He chooses not to because he only knew 3 years of the dog's life and it lived to 15.  So he (wrongly) stops the resurrection. 

And then we see the dog after Fry disappeared.  It spent the last 12 years waiting for him faithfully.  You see him waiting patiently waiting treated well by the people working around the spot. 

He was waiting for Fry.  And when he could have been ressuurected to rejoin him, he wasn't.

I cry every time I see that and the Connie Francis song comes on...  And I spent 4 hours listening to versions of that and then to darker songs, all tear-jerkers. 

I think I will go to those other sites I visit and be mean... Get it out of of me for a while.

Friday, August 25, 2017

More Political Stuff

I'll be getting back to normal yard projects again soon.  In fact I got some starts today; the weather is cooler and less humid here and that always gets me going.

But today it is political...

First, I have to relate a general conversation I overheard (but was not part of) while standing in line at a store just a few minutes ago.  It was between two 20-ish guys.  They were discussing the recent eclipse, which was the only reason I paid attention.  I'm science-oriented and thought maybe I could join (it was a slow line).

I was horribly disappointed!  One guy mentioned that he saw no dimming of the sun Monday.  Then added he saw a  crescent moon as he came into the store, and therefore "it couldn't have covered the whole sun anyway here".  His friend agreed and said it sounded like "fake science" to him too.

Then they got started on "fake news, lying media, and fake medicine" (the latter was not detailed, but probably about anti-vaccine ideas).  And then talked about how Trump was "fixing all that stuff".

There were no details about any of that, just general "yeah", "you're right", and then some family stuff.

I felt sick.  In some situations, I would have spoken up.  But not in a convenience store and not where the parking spots outside are dim...

They thought the lit part of the moon was all there was at the time!  Yes, it doesn't take a lot of thought to realize that the whole moon is always there sunlit or not, but they were also talking about fake news and media.

I'm not saying all Trump supporters are like that!  I watch enough political channels to know that some Trump supporters are educated and articulate and I disagree with them for debatable reasons.  But some are real idiots...

So, speaking of Trump, I heard some interesting news tonight.  Trump has been on a real speech roller coaster lately.  He decried "“this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides.”  Suggesting that the counter-protestors were as violent as the Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists. 

When his staff demanded he read a more balanced statement, he did read their prepared statement " that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred, and of course that includes white supremacists, KKK, Neo-Nazi, and all extremists groups.

That lasted a day...   Then Trump encouraged the idea again that "both sides were equally violent" in spite of the fact that some of the Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists were carrying torches, clubs, police-quality plexiglass shields, and AK-47s and other guns.  By comparison, they point to one leftist NUT who lit an aerosol hairspray can which lasted 5 seconds before he had to drop it from the heat.

False-equivalence is an argument from weakness.

I mention all that to say this.  With one of the worst hurricanes landing on the coast of Texas and expected to stall there, dumping a predicted 2-3' of rain with 140 mph winds on one area for a day, Trump posted 2 tweets.

One involved not allowing transgender people to join the military even if they pass all the physical and skill tests.  The other involved pardoning Sheriff Joe Arpaio a possible jail sentence on Friday by pardoning his conviction for routinely violating the civil rights of anyone who looked "mexican", violating court orders to stop the practice.

"Sheriff Joe's" habits included "Ordering some immigration patrols not based on reports of crime but rather on letters from Arizonans who complained about people with dark skin congregating in an area or speaking Spanish."

Congrats to Trump.  He made his 1st Pardon a person who is simply insanely racist and glorifies in being one.

Thursday, August 17, 2017


MalDonald has got to go.

I was convinced of it months ago, but he has really done it this time.

You can't not say bad things about Nazis and White Supremists.  He tried.

He equated a bunch of Nazis and White Supremists who were carrying heavy wood torches, batons, bats, police-quality shields, and AK-47s with those who were unarmed and protesting the demonstrations.

He defended people who arrived lethally armed at the removal of a statue of a traitor who were dedicated to prevent the removal of the statue,

Let us not ignore that Robert E Lee fought in rebellion to the Government.  He made a very conscious decision to rebel.  That may seem admirable in an age of State Rights, but keep in mind that 40% of the Southern Generals did make that same choice.

Robert E Lee did not start the war.  The Governors of the Southern States did.  THe Confederate Constitution specifically stated:

Article I, Section 9, Clause 4 prohibited the Confederate government from restricting slavery in any way:
"No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed."

Article IV, Section 2 also prohibited states from interfering with slavery:

"The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States; and shall have the right of transit and sojourn in any State of this Confederacy, with their slaves and other property; and the right of property in said slaves shall not be thereby impaired."

Perhaps the most menacing provision of the Confederate States Constitution was the explicit protection Article IV, Section 3, Clause 3 offered to slavery in all future territories conquered or acquired by the Confederacy:

"The Confederate States may acquire new territory; and Congress shall have power to legislate and provide governments for the inhabitants of all territory belonging to the Confederate States, lying without the limits of the several States; and may permit them, at such times, and in such manner as it may by law provide, to form States to be admitted into the Confederacy. In all such territory the institution of negro slavery, as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected by Congress and by the Territorial government; and the inhabitants of the several Confederate States and Territories shall have the right to take to such Territory any slaves lawfully held by them in any of the States or Territories of the Confederate States."

So let it not be misunderstood.  The Confederate rebellion was all about maintaining slavery.

There has been some argument I've seen lately that other people have had slaves.  And that African tribes captured people of other tribes to be sold into slavery.

Slavery has existed from ancient times.  My own ancestors were English serfs and essentially slaves.  The Romans captured losing armies and enslaved them.  Asians did the same.  Everyone has done that in the past.

But it was never a racial assumption of slavery based on the idea of complete inferiority until the modern age of European colonialism.

And even then, when all other civilized nations had given up the idea, realizing that all people were equally human, equally capable of thought and education, the US South held on to that idea.

And the Southern Generals held onto that idea with dedication of mind and military action.   The South said Africans were incapable of thought and culture in spite of the examples of literate and erudite Africans in the North.

And Robert E Lee was their leader.  He chose to fight for Southern States that declared in their Consitutions that slavery was good for Africans.

He was a traitor to his country and it is past time we acknowledge that.

There should not be one single statue commemorating him.  Not one commemorating Stonewall Jackson, JEB Stuart, or any other traitorous Southern general.

Robert E Lee and every Southern General should have been hung as traitors.  That might have stopped the emerging KKK in it's tracks, but that is another post.

And President MalDonald thinks the South was right!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Garden

My enclosed garden has been a bit of a bust this year.  The beans were slow, the cukes didn't grow tall, the melons stay short with no fruits.  The tomatoes and unproductive.

So I was reading an article in the Washignton Post magazine Local Living section.  There are articles bout gardening and cooking included there.  The gardening article today was about nurturing the soil and the various micobes, fungi, and insects that live in the soil. 

And I realized that I had gone away from all that lately!  I got casual the past few years.  Bad move...

I used to pay attention to all that stuff.  Time to start doing that again.  "Feed the soil, not the plants".  Grow cover crops in Winter, encourage worms.  Don't fertilize the soil, grow the soil.

TGey say not to dig the soil, but after I rebuilt the framed beds, they had large amounts of bad soil in clumps and that's not good.

So at the end on this season, I'm double digging the framed bed soil to mix it up, adding worms, adding shredded leaves and some kitcken peelings, some healthy soil from the old compost bin (for microbes and minor insect life, and covering it with permeable landscape fabric (to let rain in). 

Time to start re-building the soil...

Tuesday, August 8, 2017


A little dark humor...

Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump are on the telephone reluctantly "diplomacizing"...

Kim:  You attack us, The Greatest of Nations, and we will level Seoul with our mightly artillery!
Trump:  Yawn, not our problem...

Kim:  We will atomic bomb Guam!
Trump:  Is that ours?  Well, hold on 30 seconds...  OK, I just sold it to the Japanese.

Kim:  Then we will nuke California!
Trump:  Go ahead, it's all Democrats.  Besides, it's only our 10th biggest State.  Besides, you probably couldn't hit it.

Kim:  Well we'll hit SOMETHING!
Trump:  Sure go ahead.  You'll kill a bunch of Mexicans picking grapes in Napa Valley.  Then I won't need a wall at all...

Kim:  But think of the destruction!
Trump.  Actually, we have laser satellites.  You won't get a missile into reentry.  Wait, hold on 30 seconds, Bannon is yelling in my ear.  OK, he says I shouldn't have told you that.  Forget I mentioned it.

Kim, Then I will send a nuke in a container ship!
Trump:  Go for San Fransisco, thats where all the LBGTQIAs are.

Kim:  WHO?
Trump:  Google it.  Oh wait, you don't have internet there, HA, HA, HA!

Kim:  I will send an skilled Korean assassin to work at Mar-A-Lago!
Trump:  I only hire Mexicans, no matter what South American country they come from! 

 Kim:  Then I will post a sniper in the woods of your golf course.  You slice terribly!  He will know just where to wait.
 Trump:  That's a body double.  I have a dozen.  I'll put a bomb in Dennis Rodman's basketball next time he visits you.  BOOM!

Kim:  You would blow up the Great Dennis Rodman?
Trump:  In a NY second.  He has better hair than I do.

Kim:  Then I will nuke Japan!
Trump:  Please do, that will improve our tech industry profits.  But as a favor, do it while Rodman is there on his way to visit you.  Two birds with one stone.

Kim:  OK, I would never nuke Japan or anyplace where Dennis Rodman is...
Trump:  I know.  Well, guess who just got named the Ambassador to Everywhere, travelling secretly and with 100 body-doubles in all embassies ...  GOTCHA!

Kim:  Dennis Rodman HAS no body doubles!
Trump:  You haven't been following the South Korean DNA experiments lately, have you?

Kim:  I thought he was a ET!
Trump:  You watch too many movies.  BTW, we have The Avengers and they have The Hulk.

Kim:  Well, um, I think you are weak.  I can pole vault 32', run a 3 minute mile, I shoot par golf, and, um,  throw a shotput 60'.  My Secretary-General of My Athletic Skills says so!  Or at least will tomorrow.
Trump:  Yeah, I have one of those too.  I can throw a football in a tight spiral through a swinging tire, hit a baseball 500', and have a 0 handicap at golf!

Kim:  Really?
Trump:  Of course really!  Would I lie to you?  Come to Mar-A-Lago anytime and I'll prove it.

Kim:  Sorry, I'm busy that week.
Trump:  Well ANYTIME is fine, I play golf all over the country at my 100's of resorts.  On government time and cost.  Name a day...

Kim:  Sorry but I am an booked up through 2025.  Really busy here.

Trump:  Well, yeah me too.

Kim:  (Whew, escaped that exposure)
Trump:  (Whew, escaped that exposure)

Kim:  You are insane!
Trump:  Funny, I was just thinking that about you.

Kim:  You have ugly hair!
Trump:  My hair is HONORED on the internet!  Have you seen the "Trump Your Cat" pictures?  It show they love me.  Hugely!  Beat that...

Kim:  You're FAT.  Too much hamburgers and french fries.
Trump:  Not much to look at yourself.  What are you?  4' 6" and 225 pounds?  I bet you don't get there on just rice.

Kim:  I am the most well-fed person in the country.  I am 7' tall and a trim 250!
Trump:  I'm 6'6" and 275.  Won the Presidential Wrestling Competition in 2016!

Kim:  Really?
Trump:  Would I lie to YOU?

Kim:  You know, you are an interesting person.
Trump:  Yeah, we think alike.

Kim:  Maybe we could exchange some emails.
Trump:  I'm more on Twitter, but emails might be good...  I'll ask Hillary how that works...

Together:  "I want you, I need you, I love you"

Sunday, August 6, 2017

A Person Died

I only knew because his sister posted a message on the forum.  And she only did that because he had a list of places for her to tell.

I didn't know him all that well.  He just posted poems sometimes.  I liked his poems enough to have his page bookmarked.  We emailed a few times.  He wasn't a happy person, and his poems showed it. 

I told him I admired his poetry.  He appreciated that. 

He killed himself.  I don't know the details and don't have to know. 

I have always planned to make a similar list with passwords and sites to tell if I die.  Just so people know why I vanished.  And I sure don't plan to die anytime soon.  But there is always that surprising skidding semi-trailer or a piece of beef or a little too little blood to the brain, ya know?  Maybe I would have really made the list the day after I die.  One day late.

My youngest sister just fell down dead from a brain artery thing one day.  She was only 44.

A sadly appropriate poem from his site:


Solomon Zorn

No sadness more
No absence more

A human
Cannot be replaced
A heart in mourning
Will accept no comfort

Promises of heavenly reunion
Offer soothing
For a pain
That cannot be soothed

Death is tragic
Death is final
Death is painful
For those who survive

But survive they will
And build on the
Of the one who died

The same fire
Which burned in that soul
In those who were touched

Eventually time heals
Survivors move on
But not today
Today we are inconsolable
I think I better get started on that list...

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Home Improvements.

I really have to sit down and make a list of things to hire someone to do.  There are some things I could do "well enough" myself but just haven't for years.  There are some things I could do "barely" but would not be as good as a professional.  There are some things I realize that I'm just not up to any more.  There are some things it is just too hard for one person to do on their own.  There are some things that require some destruction to get to new things and I can't even figure out where to start. 

I was braver about home and yard improvements when I was younger.  Between 37 and 42, I built a 2 level deck, a toolshed, a 350' fence with 2 gates around the backyard, a 2' deep 9' diameter pond and 40' raceway, panelled most of the basement and added electrical outlets and a hanging acoustical ceiling tiles and lights. 

I cleared about 500 sq ft of underbrush, vines and junk trees.  I built framed gardening beds, roto-tilled a couple hundred sq ft of flower beds, installed edging and border stones, and planted some fruit trees, shrubs and a hosta bed. 

And then I pretty much wore out!  In the mid 90s, I decided my yellow walls and "bitterweet orange" carpet had to go.  Don't laugh too hard, the carpet should have just been a deep gold, but I was into bright colors at the time and I was stuck with the yellow paint by the builder (it was white by contract but when I complained a bit, the builder said he had lots of yellow and I thought anything was better than white).  And I hated the 1" mixed tile in the bathrooms.

So I hired a general contractor to change some things.  Well, *I* sure couldn't do those things.   So I had a general contractor remove the carpet and install oak floors, add baseboard and crown molding, and connect the 2 around all the room openings with wood and side molding.  I had the bathroom floor and wall tiles changed to 4" cream tiles,  I had them stain all the unfinished doors moderately dark, add a fold-down attic stairs, and some stuff like that.  

Afterwards I painted almost all the walls new colors.  Dining room, cardinal red; living room, hunter green; bedroom, Aztec Rouge; Computer and Guest rooms, Blueberry Mist; Kitchen, Bright White (a mistake); and left the bathrooms yellow.  I even painted the stipple ceilings in the living and dining rooms and hallways/stairs a very pale version of the wall color.  I liked the way it looked like the walls were reflecting onto the ceiling.

I left the kitchen floor (brick linoleum)  and counters (butcher block laminate) alone.  I liked then then and like them now.  30 years and they are still in great shape.  I don't get bored with good colors...

But I did replace the cheap appliances in the kitchen.  Energy efficient, well-rated Consumers Reports models, all black. 

The changes were WONDERFUL!  I was thrilled.  And that was when I realized that (except for painting), I couldn't do those things.  So I stopped for years.  Well, I liked what I had, so why not. 

And then it got harder to do things myself.  Professionals could always do it better.  So I spent years improving the yard further.  That's a never-ending job, so I was happy.  Having a sense of accomplishment is good.

But the home improvements were 22 years ago, and there are changes I want to make in the house.  I wish I had extended the crown molding and baseboards and frame covers into the kitchen.  I want tile walls in the kitchen around the oven and sink and counters.

I had the bathroom tiles and tub last year by professionals (cheap original tub with a failing surface that couldn't be cleaned properly) and tiles falling off.  They did that, and I painted the walls a Soft Moss color.  The whole deal.  Removing all the fixtures (towel bar, outlet covers, lights etc).  Cleaning the walls with TSP, rinsing them 3 times, waiting a week for utter drying.  Taping all the edges.  Painting.  Reinstalling fixtures. 

And discovering it needs a 2nd layer of paint...  Argh!  Well, I can do that easily enough.

But I want to have more done.  Extending the crown and base molding (I mentioned previously) in the kitchen, and wall tiles for easier cleaning (and I might consider mirror panels).  But I can't figure out a mix of tile colors (want varied ones in a color group) that will go with the existing red brink linoleum and butcher block counters.  Red/oranges? Or golds?  Or something else?

But that is only part of the changes.  When I panelled the basement, I added a 1/2 bath.  Dumbest idea ever.  Total waste of space.  It has to go.  So I need professionals to rip it out, extend the hanging ceiling to match the existing ones, cap off water pipes, etc. 

Plus, there are few things less welcoming to visitors than an ugly garage door a front door.  Those a probably things I can do myself.  The question is the color.  My house siding is a medium green.  My shutters are a dark green.  I'll color the inside of the house to suit myself, but I should probably make the outside pleasing to the neighbors and visitors.  It is already unique, being green with a mixed brick foundation in a sea of beige siding houses.  So this is about trying to match some colors. 

The garage door and front door are white.  I'm bored with white.  I'm thinking of making the front door match the shutters.  Maybe the garage door too.

But I keep seeing these stick-on fake pictures for garage doors and can't escape loving the idea.

I need to make a list!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Weird Stuff

There is always something new around the yard. 

The last stuff in the broken compost tumbler...
The cleared spot where the original passive compost bin was against the first toolshed .  The lower color is the original color of the T1-11 panels of the toolshed.  Weather wore the panels out more than composting material did.
A weird moth showed up.   It doesn't like to spread its wings, so the picture is strange.  But it has markings I have never seen before.  And after 30 years here, I've seen ALL the regular bugs.  I bet tghis one is newly surviving by warming conditions.
On the other hand, katydids are familiar.  It it their time to show up.  
I saw my 1st japanese beetle in years today.  It was walking around a marigold flower.  I grabbed it and stomped it flat.  I've spread Milky Spore around the yard every few years for a decade.  It is a ground-dwelling bacteria that parasitizes japanese beetle grub larvae.  Seeing one reminds me do apply the milky spore again.  It has been about 7 years.  Milky spore in the soil lasts as long as there is an infestation to feed on.  After that, they die out and need to be reapplied.  But it is a very effective grub control that lasts for years and is not harmful to worms, birds, or pets.  Or humans.

Also, I have castor oil to spread around on the lawn.  The moles have discovered the front yard after all these years.  It makes their insect food taste horrible to them.  I'll start with the centers of the front and back yards to establish a "no good food" zone, and expand it slowly outwards and chase them to the neighbors yards. 

Then I'll tell the neighbors about castor oil spray and let them ruin THEIR moles lives.  As long as I keep them out of my yard, I'm happy to help the neighbors do the same.

And when the moles go, there are fewer voles.  Voles use mole tunnels to travel.  Moles don't eat plants, but voles do.  Fewer moles; fewer voles!