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two halves of the same day [Nov. 22nd, 2015|09:18 pm]
Sunday morning started off below freezing as predicted. By 10 a.m., things warmed up and the wind died down. I went to Weight Watchers, to church, to Subway Sandwich for lunch,and to Bethany Lakes Park. The first Lesser Scaups of the Autumn were at the park. I watched Carolina Chickadees and Yellow-Rumped Warblers flit among the trees.

In the afternoon, Beatrice and I had a lovely walk. Then I sorted laundry and watched sports. In the late afternoon, I walked in the warm Sun along the Watters Creek Trail. I saw a Yellow-Shafted Northern Flicker and an American Kestrel.

I picked up my holiday photo cards from Walgreen. I'm in a Thanksgiving mood.
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tails and spotlight [Nov. 21st, 2015|10:20 pm]
Friday I was in nearby McKinney on some business, waiting in a hallway in a public building. As I waited, two different folks I know wandered by and greeted me by name.
I do not often run into people I know that way, so it made me feel as if I have lived in this area for a while.

Today the temperature was about 15 degrees C., but the wind was Arctic. Tonight we have our first freeze. When I walked Beatrice this morning, I put on numerous layers of clothes. Once upon a time, my theory was to avoid dressing heavily until the "real" cold begins, in order to acclimate. Last year I abandoned this theory, opting to dress warmly whenever I feel cool. This simple if non-macho approach seems to serve me well.

At 11 a.m., I went to the Dallas Makerspace for the November meeting of the North Texas Linux Users Group. I enjoyed the meeting. At one point, we all went around and introduced ourselves, as others beyond me were relatively new. Most of the other folks were in the computer business for their day jobs.

I was interested to hear which Linux distributions (akin to a "flavor") they used for their operating system. Some used Fedora (not surprisingly, these folks in general worked at jobs involving Fedora's commercial cousin, Red Hat Enterprise Linux). Some used Ubuntu derivatives, such as Ubuntu itself, Lubuntu, Peppermint (myself) and Linux Mint. A minority of folks used Slackware. One woman, a privacy buff with a system administrator background who introduced herself as "Joan, as in Joan of Arc" ran the privacy-minded (and Snowden favorite) Linux operating system called Tails. She had feared that her system was broken, affecting her privacy, but the folks there helped show her she was okay.

I had with me the 15 dollar eBay laptop on which I run Debian-based Q4OS. Its retro Trinity desktop proved to be of interest. One fellow sparked interest by trying to run OpenSolaris, an obscure non-Linux operating system. They helped him by installing an easy Linux distribution for him instead.

As my self-introduction included a mention that I liked to use computers to make Creative Commons music with synthesizers, one fellow wearing a Navy cap told me about his music business. He and a friend make electronic organs which use soundfonts of famous world organs to permit MIDI song creation. It sounded pretty cool. He was at the users group to learn more about command line use. He was a ham radio operator, and a ham-to-internet bit of software he wanted to use involved using text command line commands unfamiliar to him.

I really had a good time at the meeting. I'll go again--and again.

After the meeting, I drove to dine on chicken at Dickey's BBQ. Then I went for a half-hour chilly walk at Limestone Quarry Park. A smallish terrier mix dog growled at me, but its temper lost its fuse a bit when I said to it in a kind voice "what a tough dog you are". I saw lots of Yellow-Rumped Warblers, a Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, lots of sparrows, and a high-hovering Turkey Vulture.

We met our friends Scott and Donna for dinner at Texas Land and Cattle. I had a grilled chicken breast, asparagus spears, a cup of tortilla soup and a roll.

We went to see the movie "Spotlight" at the Plano West Cinemark. This movie, about the Boston Globe assembling and then breaking the story on the cover-up of priest abuse in the Archdiocese of Boston, was a real must-see.

When the movie was over, I watched the play by play on the internet as the sports team from my alma mater lost a heartbreaker by 51-50 when a short field goal was blocked in the last half-minute of the game. I'll bet it was a good game, but I'm sure that the movie was better.
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chilly busy [Nov. 19th, 2015|10:22 pm]
Work got busy this week,but busy offers advantages. I got a good report from a doctor's office today. Beatrice wears her orange jacket on walks.The crossing guard said she looks like a hot dog. I gave free legal advice tonight in Garland, but we were all done by eight p.m. The first freeze is due on Sunday.
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el nino November [Nov. 17th, 2015|09:36 pm]
Monday proved rainy, as promised. Monday night tornado warnings issued but bore only small fruit--minimal damage tornadoes that caused a bit of property damage, a few towns over.

I saw Eastern Bluebirds in the rain.

The sun came out at Noon today. I was walking by the Loggerhead Shrike when the sky cleared.

I walked Beatrice in the dark this early evening. I read about Inverness and Fort William on the internet. Sunday night I had dinner with my brother's family. We casually made a promise of holiday plans.

I am getting better at a casual computer game called KBounce. The trees in my parking lot at work have turned Autumn-colored.
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siskins [Nov. 15th, 2015|03:49 pm]
Saturday morning I headed to the Heard Natural Science Center to go on the monthly bird walk. Some 15 or so folks showed up for the walk. November is good for local bird walks, as the migrants from the north arrive in November. We did not get many waterfowl yesterday, but we did get some lovely American Goldfinches, a Spotted Towhee and Pine Siskins (the siskins being a first for me).

The cloudy day and morning light meant the only decent photos I got were of migrating Monarch butterflies.

Saturday afternoon and early evening I created a remix for a ccMixter.org Secret Mixter remix project. The simple track I created worked out fine, though it is no marvel of music-making. The exercise helped me to understand better when to use "normalize" and when to use "amplify" in the sound editing program Audacity.

I watched the television program in which the sports team of my college alma mater pulled off a convincing upset. Beatrice and I turned in late, after watching more sports

This afternoon I put my television on sports, put my Skullcandy headphones on, and listened to the remixes others folks created for the remix event. I am very at home among electronica music which plays with vocal samples.

My wife is on her way back from visiting her father. Beatrice is lying on her Mississippi dog bed placed near me as I type.
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skype and toy [Nov. 13th, 2015|08:47 pm]
My wife flew up to Kansas City this afternoon to spend the weekend with her dad. I got off work at 5 and drove to Emily's Pizza in Plano, which I had never tried. I had a dry salad and a very workmanlike slice of cheese pizza.

For 24 hours starting yesterday morning, I had my first experience of wearing a heart monitor.
Nobody thinks there is anything to worry about, but the routine test is to make sure that there is nothing non-routine about. It was fun to have the little sensors on, with a blue button to push if any odd things happened. I took it off this morning and drove it to the doctor's at lunch.

Today horrible terrorist events have shaken Baghdad, France, and Lebanon. It's so sad what folks do to other folks. Meanwhile, Japan has a risk of tsunami. Yet my dog Beatrice and I threw her toy. Our lives are sheltered from this wrath.

I saw a little dog outside Williams Chicken in Garland today. He seemed happy, but he was without a collar in a high-traffic area. I felt badly that I wanted him to be safe but there was nothing I could do. I resolved to do more for the abundant situations in life when there is something I can do.

I had a great hour-long call with an old friend. I took it via Skype, whose sound quality impresses me these days.
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scores [Nov. 10th, 2015|09:29 pm]
I noticed this morning on Twitter that ACT scores were coming out. It cast me back to high school days, when my score was above average but not outstanding. Other than tuition amount at my university for the first semester, it ever mattered to me a bit what ACT I achieved.

For others in my high school class, though, in the late 1970s, ACT scores and SAT scores were the last home stretch in a long race to try to be upwardly mobile. Kids who could not easily afford to go to university counted on scholarship money to get them to places they could not easily get.

In the event, in my high school class, nobody made the truly exemplary ACT and SAT scores that led to Ivy League admissions or even the next tier or so down. The top kids did get full rides to solid but not elite regional universities. They went on to medical careers and other things in which nobody asks anymore about one's ACT, SAT or MCAT scores.

I was never bound for elite universities, but only for the state university. My folks could pay my state school tuition. I would never try to go somewhere expensive. I've always been grateful that I did not have large student loans to pay at graduation. The ACT and the SAT were fun to take, but not so essential to me.

I read a tweet by someone who bewailed that their ACT scores did not qualify her to attend any university to which she wished to go. I thought about how folks and in particular younger folks get so certain that there is only one narrow path to happiness. Life teaches me every day there are many paths. I am pretty certain that a less-renowned university or community college would not be the end of her world, but I know, somehow, how she felt. Yet I have friends with Ph.D.'s and friends with no college at all, and that is not the litmus test of life.

Beatrice has a new friend--a two year old girl named Vivienne. She said "hi" to Beatrice during Beatrice's walk. I like berries in November.

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white-throated [Nov. 9th, 2015|08:54 pm]
Early Sunday morning I drove to Brockdale Park. The Trinity Trail trailhead was closed, in light of recent rains. But the bare tree outside the trailhead featured a handsome Northern Flicker who faced the new morning. Then I drove to Bethany Lakes Park. I stopped by a small stand of short trees, where Yellow-Rumped Warblers, House Finches, a Downy Woodpecker, a Field Sparrow and House Sparrows.

I went to Weight Watchers, where it transpired I had lost a pound. I went to Living Life Church,where we sang a new arrangement of an old gospel song. The preacher graciously offered me the day use of his lake home for birding. We resolved to get together for lunch sometime, though we never seem to manage to do so.

After a lunch of BBQ chicken breast and green beans at Dickey's BBQ, I headed to Limestone Quarry Park. I put my phone on a podcast about linux gaming, and began to walk.I saw a Chipping Sparrow, Blue Jays, a Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker, a Downy Woodpecker, Ruby-Crowned Kinglets, Yellow-Rumped Warblers, and a Turkey Vulture.

As I walked, I found a cell phone lying on the sidewalk. I turned it on to see it was an A, T & T phone. I placed it in my pocket, figuring I would have to go to an A, T & T store to see if the kind folks there could find its owner. After a few moments, it rang, with the caller being 'Home'. I answered the phone, and found it was indeed the owner. After a few moments, he arrived at the trail and reclaimed his phone. It turned out he was a birder, too. I had met him before on the trail, we both remembered. It was easier to deliver his phone to him than to a store. Apparently, it fell out while he was rolling his son in a baby carriage.

In the late afternoon, I had a call with someone about a hobby project. In the evening, I watched a sports contest on television.

Monday morning I got to work on time, after having slept too long to give Beatrice her morning walk. At lunch, I walked in Salmon Park, where I saw a lovely White-Throated Sparrow, Song Sparrows, Eastern Bluebirds and three strutting American Crows.

I came home at the end of the day. I took Beatrice for a walk in the dark,whch she very much enjoyed. I watched Supergirl on television. Then my wife arrived home from work. We dined on roast beef hoagie sandwiches.
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in praise of pumpkin [Nov. 7th, 2015|09:17 pm]
Friday evening we went to San Miguel,where we each had chicken enchiladas with verde sauce. I loaded the LXDE desktop onto my Q4OS laptop,but the wi-fi inexplicably failed to connect. Soon I realized that I had somehow borked the entire installation. I remedied that today, after which I loaded lots of FOSS lightweight games onto this laptop. I found myself playing a simple puzzle game called KBounce at length today.I like Q4OS, as it is a simple way to have a Debian-based distribution without having to go through hassle to get the codec repositories easily available.

Best Buy sent me a "mystery gift certificate" which expired today. I went to the local store to find it was for the princely sum of five dollars. I bought AA batteries with the credits. Nobody said the word Christmas to me, but the sales folks were pretty darn eager. I ate a delightful hot dog at Mooyah,with a huge dry side salad. I hope that the Word Health Organization, which recently decried hot dogs,will forgive me.

I love November weather. Today Beatrice and I walked in chilly, cloudy grayness. This afternoon, the sun came out and the clouds cleared. My wife and I got on our bicycles and rode the entire Watters Creek Trail. I liked the Autumn color along a small pond on the trail.

I learned last night that a friend is ill. Another fellow I know also got an unwelcome diagnosis. I need to call a different friend tomorrow.I watched the television as the football team from my college alma mater win an improbable overtime victory tonight. I dined on roast turkey, carrots and
turnip greens at Market Street for dinner.

Tonight the temperature is supposed to fall below 15 degrees C for the first time since Spring. I hope to get up early tomorrow to see early birds.

I saw a specialist doctor on Friday. I get surreal medical interactions these days, like an instruction to eat more salt and drink sports drinks. I seem to be okay overall.

I saw a twitter tweet from a cafe in Galveston about pumpkin cheesecake, which sounded delightful. I disfavor early Christmas and Thanksgiving marketing, but favor November pumpkin marketing.
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Paperwork [Nov. 5th, 2015|11:51 pm]
Rain fell this afternoon. I printed out a thirteen page form from a doctor's office. I know what its words mean but it must be bewildering to lots of folks. I shared my political views at length at a bar meeting tonight, a bit unlike me.
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