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Monday, July 26, 2021

Catching Up

Sometimes, you get behind plans.  Sometimes, there are just too many plans and too little time.  Sometimes, it takes all you have just to make the daily meals and do the laundry.

I've been lucky lately.  Kind of caught up on some things.  Still behind on others, but "catching up" is good.

On the good side:

1.  Picking beans now.  Yum!

2.  Picking wild blackberries in the backyard.  Yum!

3.  Went loose with the hedge trimmer and lopper.  Cleared out some big weeds and brambles that grabbed at me as I mowed the lawn before.

4.  This will seem weird, but my electric mower has 2 batteries and they don't last long (bought cheap - always a mistake) and they are difficult to remove.  So I tied a twine loop around them.  Those came loose, so I used duct tape to hold the twine in place.  Duct tape solves almost everything.

5.  Was missing hearing old CDs because my connections are all messed up (GOT to pull out the rack and fix that).  But then realized my portable multipurpose portable stereos can play them (DUH!).  Been enjoying Simon & Garfunkle all night.

6.  Gave the tomato plants a good soaking of foliar spray.  If that is unfamiliar, it means adding nutrients to the plants on the leaves.  It soaks in.

7.  Had some newly-leaking hose connections.  So I took every one apart and wrapped them with plumber's tape.  Thin plasticy stuff that gets squeezed into the hose threads.  Works great.  No more leaks.

8.  The cucumber and melon plants are beginning to climb the wire trellis.  

9.  I can expect a Tonkinese female kitten in mid September.

On the bad side:

A.  The back yard is "bramble city".  I HAVE to get the brush mower working again.

B.  I need to redo my Will.

C.  I need to get the car in for scheduled maintenance.

D.  I REALLY need to mop all the floors and they are SO clutterred.

E.  I REALLY need to completely redo the stereo/TV connections.  I mean I still have a VCR attached!

F.  I REALLY need to learn how to clip The Mews's claws.

G.  I am very overdo for a dentist visit, an annual physical, and a haircut.

H.  The kitchen ceiling fixture needs to be changed from attached-to-the-ceiling to "suspended".  It never works in Summer because of the hot attic.  Or maybe I need an attic fan.  I'm not sure which is easier.

I.  Weeds have taken over too much of the flowerbeds.  Periwinkle, English Ivy and Poison Ivy mostly.  Thanks to my neighbors...  I might just dig up the best and cover the whole area with black plactic for a year.

J.  The garden beds are probably infested with tomato-killing diseases.  One plant is already entirely yellow.  The solution is to surround the beds tightly in clear plastic for a year for over-heating the soil from trapped sunheat.  It's called solarizing.  I should have done it last year.

K.  I have old furniture.  Some  much of which is junk.  Time to get rid of a lot of stuff.  I've been living like a broke college student for too long (my desires are simple).  Not that I need "house beautiful" with rosewood tables and granite counters, but I could some better stuff.  

L.  Too many junk trees on the edges of the yard.  One day, there is a spling.   Next thing I notice it is 12' tall.  And the neighbor's maple tree roots are making mowing the lawn like driving over railroad ties.      I need to get them grinded out of my lawn.

Isn't there always more on the "To Do List" than you can do?  I'm just going to hire a general contractor to come in and do everything on the list I'm making.  3 bids, of course....  I think my major D-I-Y days are over.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Getting Illegible

I print now because even *I* can't read my own cursive anymore.  It is completely scribble these days.  Writing a check is a serious thing;  I have almost everything on autopay.  But the water bill has to have a check (or a $5 surcharge for online paying).  You should see me write that one every 3 months.  It is an exercise in "careful art"...

My signature is nearly useless.  It goes every whichway these days.

3 successive tries...

(Removed for security reasons)

Yeah, it is THAT bad.  The basic elements of the signature are still there.  The M, the looped S, the 2nd letter. 

Damn those DDT sprayer trucks in my youth!  It was supposed to be safe for humans.  Several of us kids rode our bikes behind the fogger truck because it was fun going in and out of the fog.

A year later, I discovered I was having trouble assembling simple model kits.  A couple years later, my teachers were saying I needed to practice my handwriting (cursive) more.  I hadn't had a problem before that.

When I was forced to try to learn to play a musical instrument, I failed completely.  My fingers and brain did not communicate well.  I couldn't learn to type.  By college, I could only write (legibly) slowly.  I would always get a "B" on essays because I didn't provide enough information".  Well, yeah, I had to deliberately form every word on paper but there was not enough time.

Seminars were great.  I was always A+ in those.  Speaking was easy.  I learned to hunt&peck on the typewriter well enough but I had to look at the keyboard all the time.  I think I got to 40 wpm doing that.  

Same in computerworld.  I can type a paragraph easily.  But then I have to look at the screen and see the couple typos and go fix them.  And it is getting worse.  Typing looking at the keys is bad enough, but gradually getting older doesn't help.  I have some bad finger habits.  

If I start a sentence with a capital T, I get a capital H right after.  Guaranteed.  And the newest annoyance id the Caps Lock key.  If I go for the A, I add the Cap lock.  And I tend to think ahead of my typing.  So "wouldn't" get shortened to "would", and the same with many contractions.  You can imagine the problems that creates for me on discussion boards.  :(

I spend half my time fixing errors...

I'm "healthy as a horse' generally.  I matured slowly, and I seem to be aging slowly.  I'll probably live into my late 90s.  But it is going to be awkward and difficult.  My typing will get worse and I will be more misunderstood as time goes by.  

As Mom said "Getting old isn't for sissies".  She had Parkinson's, Dad had dementia, I have DDT tremors and vertigo.  

Life is good until the end.


Wednesday, July 7, 2021

A Good Past Couple Days

As the title says, a good couple days.  Started Tuesday grocery-shopping.  I'm not happy without fresh fruits and veggies, and holidays always throw my shopping schedule off.  People come out in masses for picnic, BBQ, and travelling supplies.  The lines are long.  So if I forget to shop 3 days before, I wait til the day after.  And I forgot that (since July 4th was a Sunday) July 5th would be an "observed Federal holiday" and govt contractors general follow the Feds (for the practical reason that there is no one for them to talk to).

So I shopped Tuesday.  It was nice to have broccoli, asparagus, and buttercrunch lettuce.  It was nice to have peaches, berries, cherries, grapes, and oranges.  

In the afternoon, I FINALLY planted a lot of flower seedlings in the newly-cleared bed where I planted pole beans a month ago.  The beans are 6' tall already.  But because they are on a trellis, they only use a 6" strip at the edge.  So there was all that extra space.  Those green things in the bed are pulled weeds, brushed off before I planted.

I had all these perennial and self-sow seedlings, so in they went!  I got 3/4 of all my flower seedlings in the ground.  It doesn't really matter if they do all that well this year.  They will be good enough for transplanting to more permanent spots in the late Fall.  After planting them, I watered them deeply.

I had done some repair work on a fan-sprayer a few days before.  The holes were clogged and poking a needle into the holes didn't improve things much...

So I drilled out all the holes.  Unfortunately, my smallest drill bit was larger than the original holes, so the water didn't spray very far.  But I realized I had made a high-volume, low-pressure fan nozzle.  That has been quite useful.  Had I realized the consequences of the larger holes, I would have done it deliberately before.  I still have 2 other fan sprayers that work as intended, so nothing but a gain in this.

Yeah, I built the tripod it sits on...  Very adjustable.  So I replaced the 2 nozzles with a stadard fan nozzle.  The drilled fan nozzle is great for raised beds as it waters from edge to edge quickly.  The round nozzle is on the deck hose since the round spray suits the round planter pots well.

Which left the next major problem the overgrown daffodil/tulip bed.  They don't care about the weeds, but there were blackberries and loosestrife invading the bed.  The bed is about a 30' circle, and there are daylilies growing along the edge, a sunflower bird-feeder in the center and a 4x4" post to level the stepladder I need to fill the feeder.  

So I took out the riding mower to clear the weeds and blackberries.  It was awkward guiding a large mower in a small space, but fortunately this new mower has a button that allows the engine to keep the blade turning while in reverse.  And the blade deck is slightly offset to one side so you can get at edges with the wheels getting in the way

I was able to (slowly) mow almost everything I didn't want down close to the edging.  There were places I couldn't get at.  That's where the hedge trimmer came out.  I was able to cut down the weeds and grass right up against the edging.

More importantly, I was able to slide the narrow hedge-trimmer blade between the daylilies and cut off the wild blackberries near ground level.  In a couple of days the cut stuff will turn brown and I will know what to rake out.  That will let me see which weeds and canes I missed for another go with the hedge trimmer.  The battery was running down and needed recharging anyway.

The riding mower was set at 3" height (there is a path of  pavers and I didn't want to chance hitting one with the mower blade) .  Now that most of the weeds are cut down that low (and I can see where the pavers are),  I can use the small electric mower set at 1" to cut them down further.  Then I will will cover all the non-daylily area with permeable black fabric to kill the weeds by next Spring when the daffodils want to emerge.  

I covered it with solid black plastic a few year which worked OK except rain pooled on depressions and mosquitoes grew there so I kept having to poke wholes in it.  THe permeable fabric will solve THAT problem.

The transplanted flower seedlings seemed a bit beaten down by the sun,  so I watered them again.  It is amazing how much water dry soil needs sometimes.  The first watering a couple days ago had an inch of water pooled on the top before it soaked in.  Even then, my moisture meter today showed it was dry 6" down.  So another full inch of water on them.

And I put up a shade cloth for them.  The pole beans provide some dappled shade in the morning, and a couple of trees provide late-afternoon dappled shade, but mid-day is full-on sun.  So I stuck a a couple of 6' stakes in the ground and clipped a shade cloth on them.  Covers most of them.  By complete lucky coincidence the seedlings that want the most sunlight aren't covered.

I wish I had more pictures to show.  I forget when I'm doing gardening stuff.  Too-focussed, LOL!  If the transplanted seedlings survive the shock, I will have pictures to show in a few days.

I have a dozen Balsam flowers and a few Maltese Cross to plant.  I have a few places I can put them, but haven't decided where yet.  I think about that tomorrow.


Thursday, July 1, 2021

Repairs

The vaccuum cleaner suddenly sucked.  By which I mean it failed to.  It's not like I overuse the poor thing.  :)

But I vacuumed the bedroom carpet and was still stepping on "bits"  (Ayla likes to eat in the bedroom).  So I checked the bag.  Empty.  I disconnected the hose and checked it.  Empty.  It's a cannister vacuum so I checked and I disconnected the tube from the head and hose.  Empty.

"SIGH*  I know what that means.  The Power Nozzle (that part on the floor) was clogged.  So... I took it of the push-tube and examined it.  There were 6 bolts holding it together.  I coudn't see what the heads of the bolts were but guessed at phillips-head and was right.  

Took a while to loosen them.  The 2 halves of the power nozzle still didn't want to separate.  Well, usually anything that is put together can be unput together, so I examined it for a while.  I could see the different halves of it (different colors made it sort of obvious) but I couldn't get them to separate.

I finally realized that 2 bolts I thought were loose weren't.  I went at them harder (they didn't want to release at first).  But succeeded.  And it still required some prying and pulling.    It gave a liitle, so I knew it wasn't locked in place with catch-pins (those evil things that are designed to connect together once and never to be unattached except with special tools).

I got the final 2 bolts ("machine screws" technically as they don't have nuts on the other end and are more like untapered screws).  And finally the 2 halves of the power nozzle can apart.

It was packed full of cat hair.  I shouldn't have been surprised, I suppose, but isn't that what a vacuum cleaner with a powered brush is SUPPOSED to remove successfully?

Talk about a mess!  The entire thing was packed with cat hair (and around here, that is what "dust bunnies" ARE.  It's not like *I* shed much.  :)

The brush roller looked like a cat hair brush used too often.  And when I removed that, I discovered the entire 10" of tube leading to the hose was packed.  The cat hair wasn't even GETTING into the sucky tube, nevermind the collection bag.  

I was amazed at how much cat fur I pulled out of the power nozzle.  I think there was a "Marley-volume of fur".  But with pulling some out with needle-nose pliers and pushing at the back end with the handle of a screwdriver, I got it all cleaned.  There were some deep corners with fur and the pliers got those too.

But to be sure, I took the power nozzle out on the deck and banged it on the rails.  Bits of dried food and grit came out!  Quite a lot.  So I took it back in to reassemble the power nozzle.  

The brushbar didn't want to stay in place.  So I thought of what the part HAD to look like and went back out the deck to find it.  I did, and was exactly what I thought it would look like.  Fit back perfectly.

I screwed all the machine bolts back in but was missing one.  Damn, more searching.  Finally found it on the lawn below where I banged the grit out on the rail.  Whew!

Then I re-vaccuumed the bedroom carpet.  Worked perfectly.  So I tied a label to the hose "Not Working?  Clean power nozzle".  I don't have the world's best memory, so reminders help.  10 years from now, when I've forgotten about this, that will give me a clue!


Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Garden Plantings

I don't know why I am so late this year (but the ladder fall, limping around, feeling tired, staying in bed late , and bad weather when I had the time to plant) all added up.  Things kind of got beyond me a bit this year...

Anyway, I have finally felt more active lately and got some useful work done.  Yay!  Well, better late than never.  At least they have time to produce SOME harvest.

The tomato seedlings are planted.  I had laid down permeable fabric beforehand and cut Xs where the seedling would go in; then stuck markers in the ground and pulled the cut-to-fit fabric aside.  Then I gave the soil some care.  I take a good few shovelfuls of soil into a bucket and mix organic fertilizer in as I add it back.  That way, there is basically a 5 gallon bucket of well-mixed loose fertilized soil for the seedlings to go into.  The tomato roots don't spread further than that.

So then I put the fabric back on and use a bulb-planter to make a hole for the seedlings.  Tomatoes grow roots from asny buried stem, so the deeper the better.  Early roots are better than early top growth!  [An exception is grafted plants.  The graft has to be above the soil line].

So I got them all planted this week.  I can fit 6 tomotes in a framed bed and there are 2 of them.  Here is one...

A close-up of one seedling. ..
The cage is made of concrete wire mesh.  22" in diameter and 5' tall.  I made them 25 years ago and they are as sturdy as when new.

This isn't new this year.  They are broccoli and purple cauliflower plants.  I planted them last year and they didn't do much.  But they survived the Winter and I' have hopes they will sprout.  There were more broccoli, but the ones that developed heads (and then smaller side-heads) were harvested and pulled.  One neat thing I've discovered is  that the green cabbage worms don't like purple leaves.  They are too easy for predators to find.
I'm trying an idea with the pole beans.  I made a frame of concrete rebar and bent some leftover wire mesh at an angle.  The idea is that the beans will hang down from among the leaves and will be easier to find and pick.
The beans are growing fast!  One month and they are 6' high!  I read a study once that suggested delaying planting of many crops.  The idea is the cool weather slows their growth and later-planted crops often surpass the early ones in total growth and productivity.  Well, I guess I am sure testing that this year (unintentionally).
I also planted small-seeded cucumbers, cantelopes, honeydews, and watermelon along the framed bed trellises (more concrete wire mesh).  Those may seem rather heavy fruits to grow on a trellis, but I have a bunch of plastic mesh bags to support the fruits.  Vertical space IS free, after all.

And after all that, I weeded the remaining areas of the beds.  If I have been late to the Spring-plantings, I am ready for the Fall plantings in late July.  Most people ignore Fall, but it has some advantages.  Summer warmth promotes fast growth, and Fall temperatures actually improve the flavor and extend the harvesting time for some crops.  I can have a second crop of snow peas, and most root crops turn starch into sugars, much as fruits do.

As farmers do, I fear the worst, but hope for the best.  Some years are better than others.  ;)


Thursday, June 24, 2021

Humor

Some people demand that humor be socially and politically "correct".  I don't.  I can laugh at the most outrageous things.  I can appreciate good wordplay and sarcasm and "between the genders" humor.  Humor doesn't work unless there is some truth to it.  But it doesn't mean I will post them to others who might not. 

So I try to stick to the odd or surprising or extremely convoluted.  There is a mostly daily column about local life in Washington DC in the Washington Post newspaper.  That is rather unusual, since the Washington Post is generally a national and international newspaper.  The author talks about local history, parks, animals, flowers etc.

So he raised the question of what people call "flip-flops" (those rubber-soled sandals).  I remembered them (and hated them) and seldom wore them.  But the different names interested me.  A lot of people called them "thongs".  That was awkward as I think of them as underwear unusual people wear and I can't imagine doing.  I mean why give yourself a "wedgie"?

Other names were "scuffles" because they come off if you don't.  Another was "clicks" for the sound they made.  Another said "toe-clenchers" because you had to do that to keep them on.  

I'm mentioning all this because of a joke at the end of the article when the author said he always knew them as "flip-flops".  They go flip, flop, flip, flop...

"A guy with 2 left feet walks into a shoe store and asks "Do you sell "flip-flips"?

I cracked up!

  -----------------------

BTW, for the funniest convoluted joke of all time, I like:

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson decide to go on a camping trip. After dinner and a bottle of wine, they lay down for the night in their tent, and go to sleep.

Some hours later, Holmes awakens and nudges his faithful friend.

"Watson, look up at the sky and tell me what you see."

Watson replied, "I see millions of stars."

"What does that tell you?"

Watson pondered for a minute.

"Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets."
"Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo."
"Horologically, I deduce from the position of the moon that the time is about 3 am."
"Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow."
"What does it tell you, Holmes?"

Holmes was silent for a minute, then spoke: "Watson, you idiot. Someone has stolen our tent!"

Cavebear

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Garden

 Well, I finally got something done in the garden today.  Between last year when it just stayed cold and dry and nothing thrived (I mean 2 TREES died) and this year when I fell off the extension ladder and couldn't get started until late in the season, it has been a bad 2 years.

I have seedlings of various veggies and flowers large enough to plant.  But the framed beds were weedy and the paths between were invaded by Horrible Vines.  It was a mess.  So the first thing I did was attack the vines.  They are a "gift" from a neighbor 15 years ago.  Some invasive type almost impossible to kill due to the depth of the roots.  

The neighbors killed their's because they could just keep mowing it.  Here it is mingled with flowers and the veggie garden.  It has a flower like this.


I SWEAR whatever a dumb neighbor does never causes them long-term problems but I suffer.  I have poison ivy and english ivy all around because of careless neighbors.  I don't hate my careless neighbors, but I sure "resent" them sometimes.

So, I have an electric string-trimmer.  I have a gas-powered one, but I'm afraid of the damn thging and I HATE the noise.  So I went after the vines in the paths with the electric.  You have to work at the vines from the top down, because otherwise they wrap around the shaft and stop it from turning.  I actually got pretty good at it.  

Which is sad I have to do that.  I bought an electric mower when I built the framed veggie beds.  Just enough room to move the mower between them.  Sadly, I didn't realize I could turn the corners.  I have to lift about 40 pounds to change direction.  I did that.  But it left vines on the sides.

So, the string trimmer.  It took 2 hours fighting to chop the vines (1/2 the time unwinding vines from the trimmer-head).  There are some corners I couldn't get at, but I will use the hedge-trimmer to take care of those.  

And the outside of the enclosure will take more work.  Vines grow up the sides of the enclosure and "shade is bad".  I'll have to use a pruner and cut them off at ground level and slowly to the ends.  Every photon matters to a veggie.

SO, after I whacked the vines I needed to prepare to plant tomatoes.  For several years, I used a red plastic groundcover.  It was supposed to reflect sunlight back up and cajuse insects to leave.  It was also solid plactic sheet, so I couldn't water through it.  I was watering individual tomatoes through the cut part around and that took a lot of time .

This year, I have 100 yards of permeable black plastic mesh 4' wide.   


 I can just water all the plants at once.  And it will suppress weeds.  So I rolled it out on one bed and anchored the ends with bricks, cut it to size for that bed (my beds vary) and dragged my tomato cages out of the weeds (Everything grows here).  There are maybe some disadvantages to being organic; every weed loves the yard too.

I set them on the landscaping fabric-covered beds for spacing.  But it was 6:30 and I needed dinner, so I put everything away for the day.  

Tomorrow, I cut slices in the fabric in the center of the spaced cages, remove the cages, and plant tomatoes (and bell peppers around them) and cukes and melons and squash.  If it is too late, well, I'll still try.  And there is still time for a Fall crop of minor veggies like spinach and radishes.  

I am PRETTY much recovered from the ladder fall.  I no longer have the even think about walking normally, getting into the car is like it used to be, and I only notice it in bed when a part of my shoulder sticks up.  But at least it isn't stopping me from gardening.

And, next to the cats, gardening is important to me.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Air Fryer

OK, so I read about airfryers and bought one months ago. 

Ninja® Air Fryer
I like kitchen gadgets.  And the idea of frying without oil appeals to me.  So I finally took it out of the box a couple days ago and read the manual.  Breaded chicken parts seemed a good bet.  I was surprised at the shape.  I was expecting something that looked more like a toaster oven (square box, ya know?).

I don't like chicken skin, so I pulled it off 2 drumsticks with an aluminum pliers.  Then spiced them and added Panko bread crumbs.  The istructiobns said to press crumbs onto the meat hard, so I did that.  Also said to prewarm the air fryer for 3 minutes.  And said to reduce time if not full of stuff.

So I set the temp at 390F and pout in 2 drumsticks for 20 minutes.

I don't advertise, so I'm not saying the model I bought was best or anything.  But the drumsticks turned out GREAT!  The concept works!

The drumsticks were cooked perfectly and the breading was crisp.

I'm going to try egg rolls, breaded shrimp, and french fries next.  

The buttons are simple.  Default temp is 390F and the timer is easy enough.  The food container is easy to pull out and shake the food around for even cooking.  The food drawer is dishwasher safe but I will probably to it by hand.  There is a warning about metal scouring pads.  

I did notice one thing though.  The vent out the back pushes out some heat.  So don't leave your box of Junior Mints right behind it, LOL!  It's fine on a regular kitchen counter but I think I will store my pizza stone behind it.

And here I thought my Fry Baby was the coolest way to cook breaded stuff.  This WAY better.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Telemarketers

I've never understood how telemarketers succeed.  I NEVER do ANY sort of business with a cold-caller on the phone or a door-knocker.  If I want something, I go find it myself, do some research about the best versions, and then go looking for the best price. 

And besides that, I seldom answer the phone.  It is sort of circular reasoning.  Why answer the phone when it is almost always (like 99%) telemarketers.  So my family knows to send an email, which means that the only people who call are telemarketers...  LOL!

Telephone Ringing Animation - ClipArt Best

And speaking of door-knockers, the only people who visit are salespeople or charities (and I give in an organized online way).  So most times I don't even answer the door (I open the computer room window and talk from there).  It's just easier to brush off salespeople that way.  

I do understand that telemarketing works on some people and that if 1 of 1,000 calls is successful, they make money.  I don't want to sound mean here, but they prey on those who are old, confused, gullible, or "pushable".  

Heck, *I* could talk to a telemarketer all day and it wouldn't do them any good.  And sometimes I have,  just to waste their time.  But it wastes my time too, so unless I'm really "in a mood" I don't bother.  Just as an example, I was expecting a call from a repairman and answered the phonefor once.  It was some guy saying my Windows  O/S had been corrupted and he needed to help me fix it for a "small fee".  

I knew right away it was a scam because I don't have a Windows computer online (I have an old standalone for a few Windows specific games I can play against an AI).  But I went along with it for fun.  I asked for proof and he gave me places to look for certain files.  I pretended to go along, but always reported finding some different files or menus.

He finally got quite frustrated and demanded to know if I was stupid.  I laughed and told him I knew for "an absolute fact" that he was a scammer.  When he asked to know what made me think that, I said I wouldn't tell him because that might help help him scam the next person he called.  Keep in mind I didn't have an online Windows computer...

Idiot word cloud and hand with marker concept. On white background royalty free stock images

Two things happened then.  First, his carefully-cultivated but fake American accent vanished.  Second, he said "May you drink poison and die" before he hung up.  For those of you who do not know, that pretty much means he was Asian-Indian (I regret the day Euopean Colonists called Native Americans "Indians" because that confuses things greatly) .  But it was 15 minutes of fun.

I only mention all this because things changed Thursday.  I use NoMoRoBo for my phone.  It is a free service that screens calls against a huge database of known scammers.  A scam call comes to my phone number and their servers are fast enough to check the database.  If the caller is a known scammer, I get one ring and the call is disconnected.  I still have delete the "missed call", but I don't exactly have to wonder who they are before routinely deleting them all.

Scammers use all sorts of tricks, a main one being to use a fake name and number (usually a local one and often one that is a real business.  I once called a number back to ask why they kept calling me.  Turned out they were a small oriental carpet cleaner business who didn't call people; I had to advise them their number had been spoofed (they were quite upset and apologetic, but I assured them they were not to blame).

So what usually happens with a scam call on NoMoRoBo (I encourage everyone to net search them and sign up) is that the phone rings once and the call is disconnected.  My voice mail kicks in after the 3rd ring.  So, if the phone rings 3 times, I expect a voice mail from a legitimate caller.

Yesterday, that stopped happening.  The phone kept ringing 3 times every 20 minutes or so while I was in bed.  I finally decided there must be some family emergency and got up.  I'd only been in bed for 5 hours but if someone had been arrested or hospitalized, I had to know.  

Five 3-ring calls and no voice mail.  OK, sometimes scammers get new numbers and it takes NoMoRoBo "some" time to learn of it.  So it was either that or something had failed about my voice mail.  I called someone and asked them to try to leave me a voice mail to test it.  It worked fine.

So it was scammers.  More thoughout the day.  I remembered the first 5 calls and started ticking off more as the barrage continued.  When it reached 20 calls, I waited near the phone and answered.  Yeah, I know.  The rule is "don't answer the phone and they will stop calling".

Wrong.  It doesn't cost them anything to call.  But it would to delete my phone number.

Dollar sign green vector 545944 - Download Free Vectors ...

So I picked up and said "Who ARE you" (because it was that spoofed oriental carpet cleaner number and I recognized it).  That didn't work because it was a prerecorded message.  So I listened to the message waiting for which number to push to speak to an agent.  You press "1" and get a salesman.  If you press "2" to be removed from their calling list that goes to a database of "active human phone numbers" as opposed to fax machines or computers I suppose and it keeps you on their list.  

The sales pitch was for Medicare supplemental insurance.  I told the agent I didn't HAVE Medicare (I worked for the Govt and have a different kind of insurance) and that whatever company he worked had called me 20 times that day.

He said that certainly seemed unreasonable and that he understood I was not a possible customer and would handle it "from his end".  I thought he might, but naturally the calls kept coming...  It became a game while I was watching TV.  The phone would ring with the same spoofed number and I would pick up on the 2nd ring from that site.  And immediately press 1 to get an agent.

It became a sort of game.  I would quickly say "I don't have Medicare, so remove me from your list because you actually CAN'T sell me any service").  Usually the response was a disconnected dial tone.  Sometimes someone would say they would remove my number.

I told one guy I could string him along for 15 minutes and then hang up.  And he said "Drink poison and die", which confirmed he was from India...  I actually did it to the next one.  He said the same.  Apparently, that is a popular curse in India.  

Drinking poison and expecting the other person to die ...

Which I find rather interesting.  It isn't actually a direct threat.  More of a hope that someone who annoys you will eliminate THEMSELVES.  And, BTW, every agent  I spoke to regardless of differences in voice were named "Jay".  Must be a popular name there.  ;) and LOL!

Friday, I got only a couple calls in the morning.  Maybe they really did delete my number.  But more likely, NoMoRoBo caught up to their new numbers.

Peace reigns again...

Free Calm Stock Photo - FreeImages.com

That's not me.  But I've been in similar places and feeling similar peace.  But that is some future post...

Monday, June 7, 2021

Processing Pictures

I don't have the best camera.  I don't have the best program (I use Photos on Mac) to process the pictures I take.   I don't have skills to adjust picture colors in details of hues, selective colors, and some other adjustments.

I see pictures on some blogs that are so routinely perfectly-focussed, color-balanced and perfectly-lit that I just sigh in envy.  So it isn't like I'm fishing for compliments here.  I get by "well-enough", and that is about it...  LOL!

But I thought I might mention what I DO routinely do just in case it helps "someone" OR explains why some pictures look better than they originally did.  I mean, I have a routine I go with that "helps me".

1.  The 1st thing I do with a batch of raw pictures uploaded to Photos is go through and delete the hopeless ones.  Wow, who doesn't do that.  But I like to start at the beginning.

2.  I go through the pics and "straighten" them.  I seem to have a vision-tilt to one side.  Meaning I always seem to have to "straighten" in the same direction.

3.  Then I crop.  If you crop first and straighten later, inevitable some part of the picture is lost.  The is no cropping that requires using any 2 opposite corners.

4. After that, I switch to "adjust".  First, I go through "definition" of all pictures at about 90%.  THAT really helps!  If you haven't tried that, try it.  Cat furs show up better and it REALLY improves flower pictures.  And it is easy.  You keep the cursor on the "definition setting you like and then "click", forward arrow, "click" again.  It's repetitive but fast.  It's hard to have "too much" definition.

5.  After "definition", I go through again with light and color level.  My camera doesn't take pictures of The Mews well with flash.  "Low-light" setting works pretty well with normal ceiling lamps indoors.  It is more "even" light and that is more adjustable.

I generally have to raise the light level and then lower the color level.  Otherwise the light seems like a cloudy day and then after I raise the light level, Marley looks like an orange, the walls nearly glow, and the wood floor looks walnut.  So I lower the color level.  I know what color Marley's fur is, the walls are and the floor is, so I get it as accurate as I can.

You might think the light level and color cancel each other, but they don't.  Brightening an entire picture makes the room look brighter; color makes Marley and blankets look more accurate while keeping the picture bright.

6.  Then, I export the pictures to folders.  I have them by year subdivided into moths and then by days.  So, I have "Photographs".  That is divided into subfolders of Cats,Yard, House, Family, and Other.  Each  has a year, month and day.  So, a cat picture processed on May 23rd, 2021 may be in Cats/2021/2105/210523.  I use "year/month/day" because it keeps the pics chronologically and easily findable.  I don't give names to the pictures (OK, in special cases).

7.  But the exported pictures from Photo to the folders arrive at sizes like 1.5MB.  I cant save all that or post them (unless things have changed).  So I go to Preview.  It has easy re-sizing.  "Custom" allows several choices for all the pics from 320x320 to 1920x1920 pixels and there are inch size choices (but I don't deal with those very well).  I almost always use "custom" at 640x640 or 800x800.  For some reason, 640 works better for outside shots and 800 for inside ones

That keeps the resized pics above 100 and below 300 kb, which works well enough for the quality of the pics I use of the blogs.  And I don't yet trust the Cloud, so I keep my original full-sized pics on the hard drive.  I tried copying them to an external 4GB drive, but I couldn't get at them later.  Glad it was "copy" and not not "copy and delete".

8.  I do keep all the originals full-sized.  It is a lot easier to see them full-sized in Photo.  The reduced-size processed pics make me look through them one at a time.

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I hope this has helped someone, explained what I do with pics, or even made you think "wow, I'm smarter than TBT/Cavebear.  ;)

And if I'm doing some unnecessary work, PLEASE feel free to tell me.