cactuswatcher: (Default)
2017-09-21 07:04 am

(no subject)

Hoping to put it off till some of the rush slowed down, I checked with Equifax this morning. Looks like I luckily was not one of the 100+ million whose data was affected. I do feel for all those who were!
cactuswatcher: (Default)
2017-09-19 06:55 am

Growing old

Yep, it's my birthday and I celebrate Sirius' birthday with mine. (Spoiler: He's a little younger than me.) I think this new computer is my self-birthday gift for this year. I wish the old one had lasted a little longer. It worked well enough, but it was a cheap brand and it's not surprising a key component died, thankfully well after any extended warranty, which I didn't purchase, would have helped. The biggest disappointment is that I couldn't transfer my background picture from my old computer to this one. I don't like the selection of such pictures that comes with Windows 10. So I resized and loaded an old picture of the Grand Canyon from our ATPO meet there. I wish the picture could have been taken four hours earlier or later that day so the colors in the canyon would have been richer, but it's impressive enough. Big bonus: a father and son in the picture look down admiringly from the top of a cliff toward [personal profile] masqthephlsphr and [personal profile] fresne as if they'd traveled across the US just to see them. ;o)

(Serious TMI warning!!!) Growing older: I got a big surprise during my jury duty couple weeks ago. To be honest my interest in women has deteriorated with age to just interest in companionship. There is a time in a man's life when the big majority of women look very sexy. The farther a guy gets from being a teenager the more the group of women who are personally attractive for him shrinks, and that group drifts more from the physically attractive ones to the ones with better matching personalities. I'm to the point where women looking sexy is more of a academic issue than a emotional one. So it was a giant surprise when I was glancing around the other prospective jurors in a our large pool and one woman stuck out like a sore thumb. She was neither the prettiest woman there, the most beautiful nor the one with the most pleasing figure, but my lord, something in my subconscious was screaming "This Is The One!" My conscious on the other had was calmly saying, "Are you nuts? I'm clearly old enough to be that woman's grandfather!" Subconscious: "But, she's perfect!" Conscious: "Look at her finger, dummy! She's married!" Subconscious: "I don't care. She's perfect!"

Yes, well... I knew perfectly well, she fell into *my type.* She had some of the same distinctive characteristics of two women I'd been in love with long ago, once upon a time. But God, at my age I don't need that kind of crap popping into my head. So I studiously avoided looking at the woman. But my subconscious kept picking up things my conscious would just as soon have ignored. She sat behind me in the courtroom and I quickly started to recognize her voice. My conscious to my subconscious, "I am absolutely not going to bother that woman!" Subconscious:"Couldn't we be friends? She's so..." Conscious: "Hell no! Stop making me think like a dirty old man!" The woman got on the jury and I did not. Another reason to be pleased I wasn't on that jury.

I had no idea I could still be so affected by a random woman. I thought those days were past.
cactuswatcher: (Default)
2017-09-17 05:12 am

(no subject)

Belated happy birthday to [personal profile] atpo_onm and [personal profile] ann1962. Sorry, it's been a bit of a rough month!

Critters: The park next to me is torn up at the moment. They are making it part of the water retention system (i.e. flood control), I guess mostly to take care of rain water coming out of our subdivision. The streets here, as in much of the west, act as runoff channels. In this subdivision the runoff water runs away from the main street and into the back of the park. I don't know where it goes from there, perhaps into a storm sewer. The work should keep something down stream from overflowing as fast.

The work has sent some of the park's dwellers into our neighborhood. Last Monday I was delayed getting out of my garage because a good sized lizard ran in front of the sensor that keeps the garage door from hitting people and things as it's opening and closing. I think it was Tuesday early in the evening, my cat was gingerly scratching at the back door window. The shade is arranged so that he can see out, at all times. He scratches when he sees a neighbor cat in the backyard. He scratches like crazy when birds decide to get on the patio. This time I looked out and it was a good sized jack rabbit. Sirius didn't seem too eager to go out after it. When I got close to the door, he slunk back away. Indoor cat. The jack rabbit clearly knew I was there but wasn't concerned. I wasn't concerned either. It was munching on some nice juicy leafy weeds. As long as there are such around, the rabbit isn't going to chomp into my tough old cactus. Other backyards no doubt have grass. The rabbit can have that too for all I care.

Computer follies: I just couldn't stand the keyboard that came with this new computer. It uses a different plug from the the keyboard I've been using for ages, so I had to go look for something. I looked in several stores. The keyboards were mostly expensive, not very finger friendly, and largely wireless. I'm not the greenest person in the world, but battery powered keyboards for desk top computers seem very wasteful. The first store I looked in had a really nice wired keyboard, but it was $60, and just seemed not worth it. A couple stores later I found what I was looking for a wired keyboard that only cost $20. There were none on display, but I bought one in a box without even looking at it. I got it home and it turned out to have a nicer feel than all those wireless keyboards that were set out for display. It's not perfect but it will do.
cactuswatcher: (Default)
2017-09-12 12:24 pm

Crazy times

I've been away from the net for a few days for a several reasons.
a) My old computer decided to retire to its death bed. It still works for a few minutes at a time. But I know the signs and I'm typing this on a new computer I just installed. This new keyboard is going to take some getting used to.
b) My car decided after umpty years to spring a leak that will need fixing soon. I know what the problem is. It can wait for a little bit, but not long.
c) I had jury duty starting late last week.

As disturbing as the first two have been the last one has been a doozy. They have built an entirely new courthouse since the last time I had jury duty here. They now have free juror parking, but it's more than half a mile away from the courthouse. So they also have a free shuttle bus for the jurors which doesn't come by very often. I guess we're supposed to be used to waiting around outside in 105F degree weather.

I was lucky. I was in the third panel called. It was a big panel, 97 prospective jurors. This should have suggested it was expected to be a long trial, but I had no idea till we went into the courtroom and sat down. We were warned in the hallway not to show any emotion. But again I had no idea.

The judge greeted us after we were seated and gave us a summary of the charges. As Janice from Friends would say, "OH...MY...GOD!" I kept the lower part of my face still, but my eyebrows involuntarily shot up. A young adult woman was accusing her father of a number of horrible crimes, the *least* of which was having sex with her multiple times when she was underage, resulting in her having a child. The rest of it wasn't as clearly spelled out in these preliminaries, but it was clear the defendant could be facing spending most of the rest of his life in prison.

The next little surprise was that the defendant is going to act as his own attorney. I know it is fashionable for people waiting in jail to study law to pass the time, but considering the seriousness of the charges, this was nuts. Maybe he didn't qualify for a public defender, and the cost of a private attorney might well ruin him. But without proper representation he likely is ruined anyway, whether or not he's guilty.

Looking at the schedule, we learned the trial may last a couple months starting in October. When they started interviewing the jury panel, people were using any excuse they could think up to be released, and I really don't blame them. I wanted an excuse to get out, but I wasn't going to lie, either. You would be shocked how many people out of a random 97 claimed they were going to be out of the country during the trial dates. And they let them go, these people and people who pleaded other problems. It was obvious they didn't want any jury members who couldn't stand being there. It got to the point, they were dismissing so many people, I felt it was my duty to stick around.

They got to the end of the preliminaries and the judge told us to return late in the afternoon yesterday. As I guessed, yesterday morning they brought in more potential jurors to go through, 45 this time. I guess this group wasn't as desperate to head for the exits as most of them were still left when those of us from last week arrived. We gave our individual statements about job, family, and jury experience, and very soon the judge released the last dozen numbers of yesterday's jurors. They spent a half hour picking the jury from the rest of us. When they announced the jury, I was so pleased that I'd been skipped I couldn't help smiling. It ended with another big surprise. It was a difficult jury to pick and a long trial should be ahead... But *no* alternates were selected. Heck, there was an alternate on the jury I served on that only lasted three days. I suspect they knew something, and I'm guessing that trial will never take place.

The wheels of justice, yikes!
cactuswatcher: (Default)
2017-08-28 01:49 pm

Odds and ends.

This is the best one of the English word comparison things I've seen:



I took a quick trip into downtown Phoenix, today. I've been past downtown on the Interstate highway many times, but hadn't actually driven in downtown for a good decade. I have an important early morning appointment next week and wanted to see how long it took to get there. I am always surprised to see how much open land there is in downtown. It's odd that Phoenix is the 5th most populous city in the nation and is so sparsely filled in spots.

On the way back I stopped at a Chick-Fil-A for the first time. Can't say I understand the attraction. I found it okay, but just okay. The chicken was good, but nothing special. The sauce people rave about seemed like one part mustard, one part mayonnaise, a small dollop of ketchup and a large dollop of corn syrup. It was pretty good at first bite, but didn't hold up well. I don't care for their waffle-cut fries. Too thick and mushy for me.

Speaking of surprises, Sirius brought me one yesterday afternoon. I walked into the kitchen and he was playing with something beside the dinner table. At first glance it looked like a very large beetle. The cat picked it up in his mouth before I got a good look at it. He gave it a few good crunches then dropped it. I got close and realized it was a baby tarantula, no more than an inch and a half across, but still pretty beefy for a spider. It was the first tarantula I've seen around the house. However it got in, I hope its bigger relatives don't make it inside. I really don't have anything against tarantulas, but I like to go barefoot in the house in the summer and would just as soon not step on one. Kudos to my cat for finding this one first.
cactuswatcher: (Default)
2017-08-25 06:14 pm

(no subject)

Trump pardoned Joe Arpaio this evening late enough in the day that it missed the national evening news in most of the country. It was announced during our early local evening news and on the separate Western broadcast of national news.

I think everyone suspected this was going to happen just not quite so soon. I doubt any President would have let Arpaio actually go to jail. It would be just asking for too much trouble. Timing is everything. So late Friday afternoon when everyone has other things on their mind, might be the right time. Perhaps it will all blow over. But this is not something the Hispanic community is going to forget in the long run. To be clear, Arpaio's conviction for contempt of court will stay on his record, but he will receive no sentence.
cactuswatcher: (Default)
2017-08-23 06:56 am

What a world

ESPN announced it has reassigned an announcer who was scheduled to broadcast the University of Virginia's first football game next month because of the recent disturbances and his name, Robert Lee. Of course Mr Lee is an Asian American. http://www.stltoday.com/sports/college/espn-broadcaster-robert-lee-taken-off-uva-game-due-to/article_5af43743-3534-5c02-b3fc-781a67e63878.html
cactuswatcher: (Default)
2017-08-20 06:35 am

Eclipse

I knew about tomorrow's total eclipse when I was less than 10. My older brother had a little paperback on astronomy with a map showing the track of this one and the one nine(?) years from now. I knew then it would probably pass south of my house. I was realistic enough to understand that it was so far in the future that I might not live to see it. It didn't quite sink in that I might well be living somewhere entirely different, if I did live that long. I certainly never thought, that the house I was living in then would be completely gone.

If I was still living in about that area near St. Louis I'd certainly have been thinking recently about picking a spot and driving the ten miles or so to where I could see the total eclipse, assuming the weather would be cooperative. But as far as going hundreds of miles to see it? I'm not that interested any more. TV is a lot better than it was 60 years ago, and you know it's going to be on. I don't really need to see it in person.

If the weather is good they will see it in Columbia, Missouri where I went to university. A friend in the physics department invited me up to the roof of the physics building to watch a partial eclipse from there. It was pretty impressive. The advance of the shadow was a lot more noticeable from high up than it is from the ground.

The most spectacular thing I've seen in a partial eclipse? Oddly the place I was working ran completely out of work on the day of an eclipse, and we were all temporarily laid off in the middle of the day. I got home in time to see the height of the eclipse. I didn't need to look up. The trees surrounding the house provided thousands of pin holes and there were crescent suns literally everywhere on the long driveway and lawn. I have a picture of similar crescents on an agave from another partial eclipse a few years ago here in Phoenix. But sadly I don't have a good way to post it here any more.

One evening this past week the local TV station posed the question 'Where is the best place in Arizona to view the eclipse?" Well, duh, the closest point to the path of totality. That will be Four Corners, the only place in the US where four state borders meet. There is a monument there and a even parking lot. You can walk through land in all four states in a minute or so. The layout of the place has changed over time. There used to be a driveway around the monument and you could drive through all four states in a matter of seconds at low speed. The land in Arizona and New Mexico is part of the Navajo reservation. They announced that the schools on the reservation will be closed tomorrow because of the eclipse. Not so the kids can see it. No, Navajo tradition is to go inside and stay there during an eclipse. No talking, no TV, no radio, no phone, just meditation. It probably started as a way to keep people from looking at the sun and harming their eyes, and developed into something semi-spiritual.
cactuswatcher: (Default)
2017-08-19 07:21 am

Wild West

I was driving back toward home from the bank yesterday, when I saw a tall skinny dog trot across the main street I was on. It was well in front of me so I had plenty of time to see it. It was about half way across when I noticed its bushy tail. I thought "Is that a..." Yep, it was a coyote. Not that coyotes are limited to the west any more. But this was the first wild one I'd seen here in the Phoenix area since I moved here getting close to two decades ago. I think it was last year that someone put up a warning about a coyote seen in my immediate neighborhood. (They can be a particular danger for small pets.) I have no idea why the coyote was up on the street yesterday. It was just a few steps north of a bridge over a flood control channel, a very deep wide ditch that is perfectly dry almost all the time, that's there to keep the summer monsoon storms from flooding the nearby houses. No doubt the coyote lives down in the channel, where the plants grow wild and whatever critters that move in are left alone. It's a rough life in the desert. The coyote I saw boldly loping up my driveway a couple decades ago in Missouri, probably weighed twice as much as the one I saw yesterday.

I don't know how far and wide Hatch chilies have spread as a food item. They are certainly a thing in the Southwest. They are moderately sized, long, a bit tough skinned, perfect for stuffing, as in Chile Rellenos. I hated stuffed peppers when I was growing up. But those were green bell peppers which I still don't like. Chile Rellenos are something I often order at Mexican restaurants. This time of year you can buy the Hatch chilies in grocery stores. They can be dead mild to very hot. The trouble is that it's impossible to tell a hot one from a mild one just by looking at it. They are grown separately according to spiciness. The store will have separated piles of them for sale, but they are frequently mixed up either in shipping or by careless customers. I bought three that were labeled 'medium' to use in salads. The first one turned out to be dead mild. The second one is slightly hot. I'm hoping the last one will not be fiery hot.

Everyone's favorite dingbat President is having a 'campaign' rally in Phoenix next Tuesday. The mayor of Phoenix asked him to put it off. But DJT listened about about as well as he does to anyone, so he's coming. In addition to his statements about Charlottesville being fresh in everyone's mind, there have also been hints of him being eager to feed his base by giving a pardon to a local celebrity. Our former, long-time county sheriff, Joe Arpaio was convicted of ignoring court orders to stop hassling Hispanics in hopes of catching illegal immigrants. The sentencing is set for a few weeks down the road. There is some fear that riots may happen if Trump pardons Arpaio now before his sentencing. We did manage to vote Arapaio out before he was convicted, but there are probably as many people who love him as there are who hate him. Protests and counter protests are being planned as I write. So I'm hoping the news coming from Phoenix next Tuesday will be at least peaceful.
cactuswatcher: (Default)
2017-08-18 11:13 am

Bye Bye, Bannon

Bye bye, Bannon,
Bye bye, Bannon,
Bye bye, Bannon,
I'm sad to see you go.
(That last line is a genuine example of fake news.)
cactuswatcher: (Default)
2017-08-16 06:33 am

What's-his-name

Trump's performance the last few days has been bewildering enough, that I think others ought to be considering what I've said before: Donald Trump seems to have a form of non-Alzheimer's dementia. He's really not all there anymore, but can act reasonably well, enough of the time, that the people closest to him don't know it. I'm sure he was opinionated his whole life, but he just can't make or understand a rational argument anymore. Someone else wrote his speech from Monday and convinced him to give it publicly. He seemed like he was trying to internalize what he was saying, but just couldn't do it. Yesterday he was back to the rubbish from the weekend, with no comprehension that a bunch of fascists were invading a university campus just hoping to cause enough trouble to get themselves on the news.

I know what Trump was trying to say, and can appreciate it. The problem is he is no longer capable of formulating that kind of argument and that makes what he was trying to say Tuesday sound like nothing but sympathizing with nut jobs. He is no longer capable of understanding that line of argument doesn't fit the situation at the University of Virginia anyway.

It's horrifying to see otherwise well-meaning people project their beliefs onto Trump and loudly proclaim he's doing a fine job. It's no better hearing more realistic thinking people who like Trump where he is, because they know, and are happy as can be, that the government is crippled with him as President. Trump should be in assisted living not in the White House.
cactuswatcher: (Default)
2017-08-10 08:20 am

Unruly Cardinal Fan



My only comment is the poor grounds-crewman does not know how to pick up a cat!
cactuswatcher: (Default)
2017-07-25 06:07 am

Midnight, Texas

It's been a while since I've watched anything on TV in prime time. NBC was advertising Midnight, Texas heavily during the news for a while. I glanced at a few reviews of the pilot yesterday and they were so bad, I thought it might be worth a look for giggles. For example, the review from Variety roughly said it had a hard time maintaining mediocrity.

Most of the reviewers had the advantage of being familiar with True Blood, the popularity of which apparently Midnight, Texas is trying to cash in on. Having never seen True Blood, I have to judge Midnight, Texas on its own.

Anyone who saw the first episode of Buffy, should remember how well Joss set background mood of the series before the first commercial. Midnight, Texas pretty much failed to set any kind of mood in an hour episode. I wouldn't say that the show was bad, mediocre or good. It was mostly inept. It was like watching an early rehearsal of a high school play version of somebody's first draft of a play. You don't want to criticize anything in particular, but it was certainly under-baked. No story to speak of. No sign of competent direction to guide the show toward anything. Lot's of characters running around seemingly at random. Lot's of stuff, but no focus.

The photography was fine. The acting seemed okay within the limits of the script. The special effects would have been state of the art in the 1940s. Not horrendous, just severely dated. The whole show was out of whack. To be bad, mediocre or good, something would have to be more in focus. It was supposed to be scary and have some humor, but the timing was so far off, I kept thinking, 'Oh, that was bland. Oh, what they said awhile back was supposed to be funny.'

The meager story had a sort of to-be-continued ending. But honestly I wonder if NBC will bother showing the second episode. I doubt anyone who saw the first will be watching.

Even the commercials were strangely inept. I guess NBC had a hard time selling ads. Most of them were a blur of early MTV-style choppy clips, none of which made any impression at all except for one trying to get people to visit Israel, for which the quick changes of scene made absolute sense. You know things are not encouraging for your new series when the best, most professional thing shown during the entire hour was an auto insurance commercial!

Grade: incomplete
cactuswatcher: (Default)
2017-07-23 07:55 am

DNA testing and grade school genetics

One of my most vivid memories is of a rest break in the middle of the Russian proficiency test which a dozen of us graduate students in the Slavic Department were taking to fulfill the language requirement for a masters degree. We all stood up to stretch our legs. I saw one of the women, who I admit I was very fond of, glance oddly around the room and then exclaim in a loud surprised voice to no one in particular, "I'm the only one in the room, who doesn't have blue eyes!" It seemed to be an odd thing to be interested in at that moment. I looked around quickly and saw a lot of worried looking young men and women, who even after the outburst were not paying much attention to eye color or anything but their own thoughts. The speaker obviously wasn't very worried about the section of the test we'd just taken, concentrating on everyone's eye color, and I guess I wasn't either, concentrating on her and her deep brown eyes.

One of the first things we learned about genetics in primary school was that blue eyes are inherited. We were told that you had to have two genes for blue eyes and thus both of a blue-eyed person's parents had to carry one gene for that trait. It made perfect sense in terms of my family. My father, my sister and brother, and I all had blue eyes. But my mother had hazel eyes, speckled and streaked with lots of different colors, blue, yellow, green, rusty brown. My father had two of the genes for blue eyes, and by chance all of us children inherited my mother's gene for blue eyes. No need for 'further study' as they say. Several years later I was in high school and trying to get the attention of a different young lady. I gave her something I'd written that included something I thought was a nice compliment about her brown eyes. Her first reaction? "I don't have brown eyes! I have hazel eyes!' Oops! In my defense, her eyes were indeed brown in color, a nice milk-chocolaty brown, not the deep brown most people think of with brown eyes. And hazel? Well, if she and my mother stood side by side, no one would ever say their eyes were at all the same color! So my estimation of what hazel eyes should look like and the girl's hazel eyes were wildly different. I was too embarrassed to be thinking about genetics at that moment, but clearly I should have noticed before then there is a lot more to eye color than blue eyes on, or blue eyes off.

Since my grade school days, science has learned that individual genes aren't the end all and be all of inherited traits. But that is so complicated that comparatively little of that has been discovered yet.

Which brings us to the subject of the popular DNA tests offered by a number of companies for a non-trivial fee. There is plenty of useful information one of these tests could give you: finding unknown relatives, telling you about risks for genetically transmitted diseases and so on. But one of the biggest selling points the companies give is mapping out your genetic origins: where 'your people' came from. This kind of analysis is a considerably less accurate than they would lead you to believe.

First of all we would *like* to believe that the populations from various places on earth are so distinct and separate that it is an easy task to tell ancestry from here from ancestry from there. (Especially if you happen to be a big time racist!) The simple fact is that statistically speaking compared to a lot of other mammal species there isn't a heck of a lot of difference between any humans genetically, African, native Australian, East Asian, European, or thorough mixture. So what the companies are working with is a very limited number of genes and gene sequences that seem to be characteristic of particular geographic locations. Now mitochondrial DNA can tell you very precisely which woman your mother's mother's mother's mother's mother's ad infinitum mother came from. Very interesting. But that is only an extremely tiny portion of your family history. If you are male, your Y chromosome can tell you similar things about you father's father's forefathers, but again only one direct line and if you are female (and don't have a close male blood relative handy who can be tested) you are out of luck on that score. Assuming an average of 25 years between generations, five hundred years ago each of us potentially had over a million individual ancestors. Compared to that, one or two easy-to-define direct hereditary lines are almost trivial.

So let's talk percentages. When you take a DNA test the company will tell you what percentage of your ancestors came from areas of the world x, y and z. This a not exactly a lie, but it is misleading. The one fact that is drummed into our heads when learning the absolute basics of genetics is that we inherit (y chromosomes with their direct X pairs excluded) exactly half our genes from our mothers and half from our fathers. No question, this is basically true. But in our minds we tend to think that by extension we must get exactly 1/4 of our genes from each grandparent, 1/8 from each great grand parent and so on. This is a very big mistake. From each parent we get half their genes from the pool of genes they got from their parents. Mathematically speaking, whether you are male or female, it is possible for you to inherit 100% of your mother's genes from her mother and none uniquely from her father. Statistically speaking that's very close to impossible, but technically it's not impossible. What you get from each parent is a random selection from their internal pool of genes, not a definable amount from each of your more distant ancestors. Since the vast majority of our genes as humans are so similar it generally isn't a big deal. But when you are looking at a much smaller selection of genes for this or that, it becomes much more important. Imagine that we are going to look at 100 genes from our personal DNA. We look back at our mother's parents' genes and can say that statistics show that most of us, around 68% of us, will get somewhere between 32 and 68 of these 100 genes from each. Around 26% of us will get between 5 and 32 from one parent and 68 to 95 from the other. Finally over 5%, one in 20 people, will get 5 or less from one of mother's parents and 95 or more from the other. So it is very possible that one of your parents' parent's gene sets (particularly in our small sample of genes) will show up in you much more prominently than each of those from the other three individuals!

What does this mean for those DNA test results? It means that they can only give you data on what you actually inherited, not on what your ancestors' DNA looked like. So suppose grandma told you a story that one of grandpa's grandmothers was a full blooded Choctaw Native American. Claiming Native American ancestry is more common than actually having Native American ancestry and having it is very difficult to prove through documentation. If your DNA test could be perfect and grandma was right, the test would hopefully tell you that you were at least 5% Native American by descent. But the number of genes they are testing for is small, and presumably in this case, the number of great-great grand parents who were Native American is one. So there is a fair chance that the test results will show 0% Native American ancestry even if grandma knew exactly what she was talking about!

If you want to take the test please do. It may tell you things you never knew. But don't take the ancestry results too literally. The tests can tell you a lot about who you are, but not as much about where you came from as you might hope.
cactuswatcher: (Default)
2017-07-18 06:30 am

Photobucket

I've been recommending Photobucket for people who wanted to post pictures here. Unfortunately, Photobucket has decided to to make their users pay a large fee per month for the ability to do that. Sorry! I guess nothing lasts forever. I probably will not be posting any more pictures here myself.
cactuswatcher: (Default)
2017-07-11 05:09 pm
Entry tags:

(no subject)

from [personal profile] mamculuna

What's your favorite cereal? Something with oats. Honeynut Cherrios, Honeybunches of Oats with almonds, oatmeal...

Is there a bus stop near your house? As the crow flies it's not far. Considering how far I'd have to walk around to get to it, it's far. Worse the bus doesn't go any place I'd be interested in going.

Do you prefer red wine or white wine? I'm not fond of red. Rosè is nice. I used to drink Riesling about as frequently as any other wine.

What's the last airport you were at? Why were you there? Phoenix Skyharbor. Comin' home.

Who do you live with? Sirius Black, the kitty cat.

Do you read reddit? If so, how often and what subreddits do you like? Nope, the things I've heard about it were discouraging.

Have you recently broken up with a significant other or even just a friend? Nope.

What's the weather like today? Is it nice enough to go outside? It's 102F and thunderstorms possible. Compared to the 119F a couple weeks ago, it is relatively nice.

Do you know anyone who's had a baby recently? Grandnieces.

Have you used a pen or pencil today? What did you write down? Oddly, no.

What does your last text message say and who is it from? I don't own a cell phone.

Can you count how many times you've seen your favorite film? No, but probably seven or eight times.

When was the last time you ate marshmallows? By themselves, decades ago. In hot chocolate last winter some time.

Do you listen to any podcasts? How do you listen to them? Yes and no. I start listening on the computer through twitch.tv, but usually don't stay long.

How old will you be in the year 2030? Ten years older than I will be in 2020!

How often does the kettle in your house get used? In the summer never, in the winter about once a day.

Does your skin bruise easily? Do you have any bruises right now? What from? I bruise mostly from bumping into things, but I don't think I have any at the moment. I probably have a few cat claw marks.

What was the last thing you spent $150 or more on? A new refrigerator.

Do you prefer yes or no questions or more open-ended questions? Depends on the circumstances.

What brand of toilet paper do you usually buy? Most recently I bought Charmin. I probably got a deal.

If I knocked on your door right now, would you be acceptably dressed? Depends on who you are and what you wanted, but generally, today, yes.

Why did you leave your last job? I retired.

What color were the last socks you wore? Blue, I'm still wearing them.

Are you studying currently? What level of education and what do you study? I suppose you could call my continuing work with the Russian Language studying. I have an M.A. in Slavic Studies, and did everything but finish a dissertation for a PhD in Russian Linguistics.

Have you ever eaten at a restaurant and left without paying? Lot's of times. Without anyone in the party paying for us? Never!

What was the last thing that made you laugh out loud? That last question.

What's your favorite scent of air freshener? It's called fresh air. Can't open the window for it tonight because it's too hot and we might have a dust storm!

How many weddings have you ever been to? A dozen maybe.

Do you know anyone named Nora? I really like the name, but I think the closest I came to knowing one was a Nola.

Are your hands and feet in good condition or could you do with a mani-pedi? If you think a mani-pedi improves the *condition* of one's hands and feet, I think you are mistaken. Improving the looks is a different matter, and I think I'm lacking enough vanity to care what my feet look like.

When was the last time you played a board game? What did you play? A few weeks ago. Actually it's a card game. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle. Cooperative, challenging and fun.

Have you ever been to a festival for beer or other type of alcohol? Yep, Oktoberfest in St. Louis.

Do you own a record player and/or vinyls? I have the records and they are in good shape, but haven't had a record player in ages.

When was the last time you went out for drinks? I don't think I've gone out just for drinks since grad school.

Have you ever been to a strip club? No, if you ever saw the outside of one of them in daylight when you were sober, you likely wouldn't go in at night when you were drunk.

What's your favorite kind of smoothie? I have to admit I've never been tempted to drink a smoothie. I like fruit and vegetables unsmooshed just fine.

Do you know anyone with a 'virtue name'? (Google it) I knew a young guy named Pride and a young woman named Prudence. The guy liked his name; the woman did not like hers.

Would you ever wear real authentic leather? I still own leather dress shoes and only have genuine leather belts. With all that beef being slaughtered, it would seem a giant waste to not do something useful with the hides.

Have you taken out the trash today? No, trash set-out evening is tomorrow! I did bag up and take out some kitty litter, early today. Does that count?

How often do you wear make-up? About as often as I star in Broadway plays.

What's your opinion on The Simpsons? It's about as dumb as Homer. I haven't watched a full episode since I retired.

Do you prefer horizontal or vertical stripes? On me? I'm probably thin enough for either again, but I usually don't buy the causal sort of men's clothing that has horizontal stripes.

What's your favorite brand of deodorant/antiperspirant? It's called soap.

Do you know anyone who has been through a divorce? Yes, not me, thankfully.

If you had the money, would you take taxis everywhere instead of driving? Probably not.

Have you ever done a juice cleanse? If you seriously believe a juice cleanse will do you any particular good, you might need a brain tidy instead.

Do you have any friends who you can't decide if they're attractive or not? I hope I'm beyond that nonsense. As the old song goes "Everybody's beautiful in their own way."

Is the inside of your fridge clean right now or does it need a clean out? It's clean!

When was the last time you washed the dishes? Yesterday. By myself it takes a few days to fill up the dishwasher.

Are there any magazines that you read on a regular basis? National Geographic (not as good as it once was) Trains

Do you have to pay for parking in most places in the town/city you live in? Nope, I try to avoid places that only have pay parking.

What's the first thing you tend to do when you have a headache? Suffer. If I can't sleep I might take an aspirin.

Tell me about your responsibilities at work. Get up, feed myself, go to bed, go to the store, go to the mail box, pet the cat, water the cat, feed the cat, clean up the litter box...

What's your favorite style/cut of underwear? Boxers

Can you hear lots of traffic from your house? Does it bother you? If I try, I can hear the freeway, but it's far enough away it doesn't bother me. It does bother me to hear the fire trucks go by on the main streets nearby, but only from wondering where they are headed.

Have you ever had proper Canadian poutine with the squeaky cheese? Personally I don't like soggy fries. Why put perfectly good gravy and cheese on something that doesn't need either? Put them on mashed potatoes (i.e. something that's a little bland and soggy already) and you'd be more likely to get me to try it.

Do your parents know how to operate smartphones and/or computers? My mother was lucky to figure out her microwave oven and was gone before cellphones were common, let alone smartphones. If my father had lived long enough he would have been fine with computers.

How old are your parents, anyway? Both would be well over 100.

Are you allergic to anything? What do you have to do to prevent them? Mold. Got rid of my grass.

What song is stuck in your head at the moment? "This is the song that doesn't end. It just goes on and on my friend. Some people started singing not knowing what it was..."

Do you hate it when people try really hard, or do you kinda like it? It depends. You can overdo anything. But generally if it's something important, try hard. If it's not important, ease up.

What's your boss' first name? Do you call him/her by that name? I'm my own boss. And I've been know to call him 'Hey, Stupid!'

When was the last time you wore a uniform of any kind? What color was it? I was a boy scout. Olive green.

Have you ever lost enough weight to drop a dress size? I'm afraid I've never kept track of my dress size. Have I dropped a size in pants from my heaviest? Yes! A man is not likely to drop a shirt size unless he has more weight the lose than I ever had.

What's your favorite kind of bread? Sopapillas. Bread as in plain old bread? Pumpernickel, maybe.

When was the last time you got pizza? What toppings did you get? A month or so ago. I got my usual, Italian sausage, pepperoni, black olives and mushrooms.

Do you own Monopoly? Is it the original or a special version? I think I do have the original. I haven't had it out in decades.

What was the last thing you said out loud? Sirius, Sirius, come on, boy! (feeding the cat)

You have to choose one: cats or dogs? I like dogs better, but right now a cat fits my life style better.

Would someone being either a cat or dog person effect you dating them? Not unless they wanted to bring the pet along on the date.

How do you travel to and from work? What little traveling I do is by car.

Do you primarily use cash or card for your purchases? Why? Cash. Though chips in the card help, I think it is wise to generally limit the number of stores that have your card information.

Have you ever been to a stadium concert? If a pro basketball stadium counts, yes.
cactuswatcher: (Default)
2017-07-01 07:02 am

For those up north

It's Canada Day! 150 years! Happy Sesqui!

cactuswatcher: (Default)
2017-06-20 07:23 pm

A meal from the 1950s



In my family we had the 'traditional' chipped beef on toast. But not very often. I remember the beef coming in a smaller jar than the one in video. The jar and its lid were not threaded so lid came off with a soda bottle opener. As this lady (Phyllis) says those jars could be saved and used as inexpensive juice glasses. I also think that the beef, at least as my mother bought it, didn't come in slices, but was in shreds as it came from the jar.

If I remember correctly we had it most often for lunch. During World War II chipped beef on toast was a common meal for the troops, which meant my father was sick of it by the time he got home. So mother would mostly fix it for herself and us children for lunch when he was at work. If we had it for breakfast, he ate it, but carefully reminded us kids that in the service it was called S.O.S. And if my older brother waited till he was away from the table to tell me yet again that meant 'Shit on a Shingle,' he didn't get in trouble for cussing.

My mother used a lot of Crisco, too. It's just awful for you, as it's about 100% transfat, but no one knew that then. It probably was worse health-wise than the lard it replaced in people's home, but it would keep longer without going rancid.

Phyllis mentions in another video that her family had milk with every meal in the 1950s. So did we. My mother didn't drink coffee, and didn't really know how to make it correctly. If we had house guests she'd buy coffee and turn the coffee pot she owned over to them to make their own. My father liked coffee, but only had it once in a great while at a restaurant.

My mother pretty much insisted we have potatoes in some form every evening. I don't think young couples, now, would consider having potatoes as often, though they are healthy, filling, vegetarian friendly and so on.
cactuswatcher: (Default)
2017-06-12 06:45 am

Puerto Rico

The question of what to do about Puerto Rico has certainly been around since the Philippine Islands were granted independence from the US in 1946. There have been periodic elections on the island as long as I can remember to allow Puerto Ricans to decide for themselves, always with the same result at least till yesterday.

The Puerto Ricans call what they have a "Free Associated State" in Spanish; in English it's usually referred to as a Commonwealth, as the Philippines were between 1935 and 1946. Puerto Ricans have their own government and elect their own governor, and a justice system based on California's, but the island is dependent on the rest of the US for a lot of things. They send a couple representatives to the US Congress, but they are only observers. Puerto Ricans are full citizens of the US. Puerto Ricans don't pay income tax if they live in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico has a lower minimum wage. Move to one of the 50 states and Puerto Ricans can vote for president like anyone else. Certainly since before I was born Puerto Ricans have been divided among those who want complete independence, those who want Puerto Rico to be a state of the Union like the other 50, and those who are more or less happy with things the way they are. Those who want things to stay the way they are have always had a plurality.

One slightly disturbing quality about our US democracy is that if the folks in power don't get what they want in local elections they can keep holding elections till they get it, and then stop holding elections so it can't be reversed. This is a bit like what happened over time in Puerto Rico. Since Alaska and Hawaii became states 50 odd years ago, there has always been a strong feeling among Puerto Rican elected officials that the island should become a state as well. For as long as I can remember Puerto Rican politicians at both Republican and Democratic national conventions have proudly proclaimed the Island as the 51st state. They just could never convince the general population of the island to agree. So they keep having elections.

Puerto Rico is in the midst of a deep economic crisis, and because of the US law from 1950 that currently defines Puerto Rico's status, the Island can't declare bankruptcy and start over. If Puerto Rico were a state like any other, it could. So with that idea in mind, another election was held yesterday. The other factions thought the idea of an election was stupid, spending money on an election for a proposition that by it's own wording was not "binding" and might well not mean anything anyway. So the leaders who want things to stay the same and the ones who want independence called a boycott. The turnout was ridiculously low for such a potentially important question, less than 25% of the eligible voters. Predictably of those who did vote, the vast majority wanted statehood.

Puerto Rico's current governor wants statehood, so he's all excited today saying the issue has been decided and is telling his constituents that he's ready to send two senators and an appropriate number of representatives to Congress as soon as the details can get worked out. Well, the rest of us know it's not quite that simple. The US Congress has the final say. There is the non-trivial matter of writing a state constitution, which the US congress would have to approve. (Arizona's statehood was delayed because Congress didn't like its proposed state constitution.) There is the non-trivial matter of all that debt, which no longer could be dealt with directly by Congress. There is the matter of whether the US Congress will allow the future Puerto Rican Senators and Representatives to address Congress in Spanish (and you know that sooner or later some will want to). There is the matter of this recent election which seems like the final word to the Puerto Rican Governor, but isn't going to set well with many Puerto Ricans, and Congress likely isn't going to act unless they are convinced an actual majority on the island is okay with it. Then you have the Trump administration's bias against Hispanics, and so on and so forth. Of all the times this issue could have passed this is certainly the worst.

I would guess that Congress will largely ignore yesterday's election. It could become yet another political issue dividing this country, but likely won't become a big deal for a few years.
cactuswatcher: (Default)
2017-05-28 06:58 am

(no subject)

The leaning tower came down this morning. https://cactuswatcher.dreamwidth.org/455899.html.

Over the last few days it went horizontal, and yesterday below horizontal, blocking the driveway and last night the top fell to the ground. The bloom stock broke most of the way through at its base, making it a lot easier to cut away the rest. Didn't even need to go up more than a couple steps on the ladder. I measured it before I chopped it up and the stalk was about 12 foot long. It's all gone and the plant looks like it was never there. The neighbors probably think I'm screwy for leaving it be so long. ;o) But the process was fun to watch.