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Robert

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wasaful dvap [Jun. 15th, 2017|10:46 pm]
Robert
I woke up early this morning. I made it to work in good order, after watching House Sparrows and a Northern Cardinal feeding on shelled seeds on Scout's bench.

At lunch I walked in Bradfield Park, where Blue Jays, Mockingbirds and Great-Tailed Grackles frolicked.  After work, I went to the Salvation Army for the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program pro bono legal clinic. I liked the folks with whom I met.

The small press from which I had ordered an ebook that proved difficult to download gracious remedied the situation through putting the ebook on a transfer site. I read more of the ebook I am reading now.

Breakfast: toasted wheatfuls and skim milk
Lunch: grilled chicken breast and wing, roll and green beans
Dinner: broccoli, carrots, 2 slices pepperoni pizza, 1 slice cheese pizza

Today's news covered the poor young American man sentenced to hard labor in North Korea for a minor theft of a propaganda sign crime while visiting, who was returned to his parent only when ill-treatment put him in a brain-damaged coma.   I am watching the EPA chief testify to Congress, after submitting a budget request that amounts to a massive cut in this agency's budget.  His views fail to align with mine.

I like WASA crackers.

(cross-posted to DW because life is silly)
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sad news and small claims [Jun. 15th, 2017|06:47 am]
Robert
Wednesday I worked a solid day, and walked a solid few miles. I listened extensively to the news of a tragic shooting of a Congressman, police officers, and staffers at a practice for a charity baseball game. I  also listened a bit to the story of a UPS worker who went to work armed, killed five co-workers, and then shot himself. I watched images of a huge apartment tower in London on fire, and then read tweets by people with no factual basis making wild conspiracy-theory assertions about the fire. The strife and hurt is palpable.

After work I walked in Timbers Nature Preserve, a small city park in small Murphy, Texas. I took some interesting pictures of a small, young Great Crested Flycatcher. On the way home, I stopped by Panera to pick up dinner.  My wife is ill, with a minor but annoying cold. We ate dinner and then she went back to bed. 

This morning I went to on-line drm-free advocate Kevin Beynon's site to find more DRM-free book publishers. I like DRM-free on principle, as I dislike any digital impediments to reading ebooks.  I particularly prefer to buy books I can read on my computer's ereader software. I do not use software to alter formats for books to "crack" DRM. I would rather just buy from people who do not use DRM. After browing a few websites, I liked a book I saw on a website for a small Canadian literary press called Invisible Publishing.  I bought Andrew Kaufman's novel "Small Claims". I read the first sixty or so pages, and find myself to be enjoying it so far.

My meals yesterday:
breakfast: "toasted wheatful" cereal and skim milk
lunch: a turkey sandwich and baked chips
dinner: a turkey sandwich and a baguette

(cross-posted to DW because life is silly)
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death of a pair of cheap white headphones [Jun. 13th, 2017|11:48 pm]
Robert
I use headphones often. I listen to music. I listen to podcasts. I create music. At home, I use a pretty nice but not too expensive pair of Grado headphones on my desktop computer, where I make most of my music. I use a pair of inexpensive Skullcandy headphones on my laptop(s), as I have broken one too many pairs of more expensive headphones.

But I write tonight about the loss of a dear family friend.  This week the disease called breakage deprived me of what I lovingly called the cheap white headphones.  This set of headphones has been a part of my personal radio telescope array for some years. I got these at a discount chain store called Big Lots, which stocks headphones in the 7, 10 and 20 dollar range. The cheap white headphones were over-ear headphones with soft padding. They were wired. I rather dislike wireless headphones and consider Bluetooth headphones an intriguing form of mass harmless commercially induced insanity. I view the disappearance of the microphone jack on the inexpensive laptop a sacrilege and the disappearance of the headphone jack on some brands of cellular phone a heresy.

The cheap white headphones served a crucial function in my life. Readers of this journal may realize that I spend a lot of my free time taking short walks. I rarely take long over-country hikes. I usually cap out at an hour or two, and often walk for just fifteen or thirty minutes at a time. I take lots of walks. Often, I walk without headphones, to hear the sounds of nature and folks around me. But often I put on my cheap white headphones and listen to a podcast or to music.

The cheap white headphones cost 10 dollars to buy. I used them perhaps hundreds of time, as they lived permanently in my vehicle. I am not sure exactly when I got them. My first reference in my journal is about 30 months ago, but I think I had them for a goodish while before then. They gave me a surprisingly good sound (for the money) and they were cheap but durable. I could ask for no better.

Though audiophile gear interests me, I have about as little of the real audiophile about me that anyone as interested in music as I am could have. My ethic is more cheap-and-cheerful than pay-500-more-for-an-extra-bit-of-clarity. I generally mistrust this year's model, trade press hype (though I like reading it, a bit like reading chocolate) and ordinary-tech-packaged-as-cool-tech.  I liked my cheap white headphones because I put them on and they worked.

They bit the dust on Sunday. I put them on after a morning hike, and found that they had broken. I probably did that somehow, I'm not sure how, or perhaps it was just its time. If we measure a good's utility as cost divided by number of times used, I had gotten very good value for my ten dollars.

I went to my local Big Lots Sunday afternoon. The headphone supply, once booming, was paltry. Too many relied on various bluetooth wireless systems. But I found a new set of over-ear by Sentry (a maker of cheap headphones known to me) called a "Fat Boy". I've used those a couple of times already, and they work pretty well. But they are not the cheap white headphones.

I like the quotation by the 1930s comic Will Rogers, who said 'If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went". I lack such a pithy turn of phrase. I do think, though, that I can imagine some quiet afterlife with lovable cheap white headphones, and perhaps the sound of a deep, melodic hum.


(cross-posted to DW because life is silly)
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in praise of succinct statements [Jun. 13th, 2017|10:43 pm]
Robert
I have 40 some-odd pages to go to finish the novel I am reading. One of my co-workers saw  a baby bat at her house. I like crime mysteries in which nobody dies. I saw a Killdeer do the "broken wing display", a way to track predators away from a nest.

Breakfast: oatmeal. Lunch: turkey sandwich and baked ships. Dinner: turkey with mixed vegetables and new potatoes.

I began to write a long opinion email, then I wrote a shorter one. Then I wished I had written one line only.

(cross-posted to DW because life is silly)
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train ride [Jun. 12th, 2017|10:17 pm]
Robert
I took the train to downtown Dallas this afternoon for a business matter. I like that the train ride from Garland Station to West End Station is only an half an hour ride. I also liked the swatches of wetlands near White Rock Lake Station.

I disliked the fellow who drove by West End Station and cat-called at a female pedestrian. I admit that part of my distaste came from the fact that he was one of those early-20s former-frat-boy-looking guys in an open-air Jeep-like car. But I would have found it distasteful in any event.

At 9 p.m. we took Beatrice for a walk, which she relished. Now we are watching a re-run of "Grantchester".

Breakfast: Kix cereal and skim milk
Lunch: 2 slices of cheese pizza
Dinner: cooked chicken breast, salad and quinoa.

(cross-posted to DW because life is silly)
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Keeping Tabs [Jun. 12th, 2017|07:30 am]
Robert
I like that e-book reader virtual bookmarks help one see how many pages one read at each sitting. The difference from book to book catches my interest. I liked Faith Colburn's "Prairie Landscapes", but I read small passages each time. I used 25 bookmarks on a bit under 400 pages. Now I am reading a light science-fiction novel called "An Alien Perspective" by Roxanne Barbour.  This is a self-published work i obtained on the Smashwords website. I just placed my second book mark--on page 130.  I am still in the midst of Mark Dennis' book about birding one's local patch. I am on roughly page 100 of that book after 7 bookmarks.  I suspect I am like many people in crusing through light fiction and taking a bit more time with non-fiction.

I like tracking things a bit. I use the last.fm service that "scrobbles" (i.e., keeps a record of) what songs I listen to on my computer or on my cell phone. Yesterday I spent some time trying to figure out how to get it to scrobble music from the site Pandora.  This is because the Firefox browser version I use no longer has an effective scrobbling extension. I hoped to use the software VLC that I use for listening to other music.
My plan was to stream Pandora through VLC for easy tracking. I did not get my plan to work.

On paper, I dislike the way that Google tracks everything in an effort to advertise to people. I like that since I switched to the web search engine duckduckgo.com, on-line advertising seems to "know less" about me.  But my approach is imperfectly principled. When I need directions, I call up a Google map for navigation. I tell Google my personal whereabouts by using the Google Fit app which "ups my game" (or is it "apps my game"?) for getting exercise.  I keep a non-anonymous weblog. I have a listed telephone number.  I share what I am listening to via a website that tracks it.

I lament, a bit, the decline of the traditional telephone book.  Though some people kept unlisted numbers, in general telephone books were good ways to find people.  The lack of cell phone telephone books is unfortunate. I like that I can find someone on facebook sometimes. I dislike that folks disappear from my weblog friends list and I never know of them again.

In some ways, we can track folks better and less well than ever before.



(cross-posted to DW because life is silly)
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new helmet [Jun. 11th, 2017|08:16 pm]
Robert
After a morning bowl of Kix Cereal and skim milk, I hit the road to the Chisholm Trail off Orlando Street in Plano.  I walked for nearly an hour. Near the walk's end,  I saw a Cooper's Hawk perched in a nearby tree. As I took pictures, a number of walkers gathered to look at the hawk. They were nice people. They discussed the wildlife they had seen on the trail--nutria, bobcats, and opossum.

At Weight Watchers I was down a bit over a pound. This brought me over 100 pounds lost again. I will probably bounce back up a little. That is usually what happens. 

At church, the pastor outlined a way to keep the Way service going as a kind of experimental preaching lab for seminarians and other up-and-coming ministers. I like that idea. I will write to the senior minister in support of that idea.

After church, I ate a a grilled chicken breast and wing and green beans at KFC.  Then I headed to Allen Station Park and took a walk.

A couple of years ago, we had some renovation and repair work done on our home. My bicycle helmet went missing in the repacking. I found a really good deal on a new Schwinn helmet,  I decided not to wait until the original helmet turned up.

I wore the helmet on a short bicycle ride this evening. It worked well, after I adjusted it for size a bit.

I thought about the time when Schwinn bicycles symbolized American-made products. Since 2001, the name serves as a trade name for bicycles made in China. When I was a kid, Schwinn meant "American bicycle", Zenith meant "American electronics" and Craftsman meant "American tools". Schwinn no longer make bikes in the US and Zenith is owned by South Korean company LG. Craftsman is still a US concern,though it is now owned not by Sears but by Stanley, Black & Decker.
I have not owned a Schwinn in years, but Schwinn inspires favorable feelings in me.

Tonight we ate subway turkey sandwiches and chips. Now we are watching Blue Bloods re-runs. I shopped a new ebook, after an earlier purchase of a sci-fi from a small press came with a zip file I could not un-zip.  I wanted a non-drm book, and settled on a sci-fi title on Smashwords. I'm rolling through the first pages this evening. 

(cross-posted to DW because life is silly)
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bike ride [Jun. 10th, 2017|09:50 pm]
Robert
This morning I hit the bicycle path at 8:15 a.m. I rode my bicycle from my house to the Ridgeview trailhead of the Watters Branch Trail, It's a wide sidewalk bicycle trail that runs by a creek. I bicycled from the Watters Branch origin, took the Urban Loop Centre trail until its turnaround point ,and then rode all the way to Bethany. I made liberal stops for bird-watching.

I like that Google Fit tracks my time, distance and mileage.  I took it very leisurely--two hours and 15 minutes riding for 9.5 miles. My average was less than 4.5 miles an hour. I ride for the fun/kilo and not for the kilos/hour. I saw a dozen species of birds, of whom a Cooper's Hawk was the most imposing.

Around Noon I took Beatrice for  a walk. It was just a little too hot for my little dog. We did  walk from shady tree to shady tree" format walk. I asked her if she's rather go home, but she assured me she was in for the entire walk. The walk in the park used to take us 30 minutes. Now it takes 45 minutes. In the heat it took 50. I am glad I have a dog who can walk at all.

I meant to go buy a new bicycle helmet, but never quite got going.  I did re-read C.P. Snow's essays about Tolstoi and Charles Dickens. Both men lived such complicated personal lives.

This evening we went to Subway sandwiches. Then we went to see the movie "Wonder Woman". We liked the film very much. 

Our bedroom TV screen went dark.  I suppose it will need repair or replacement. But I am in the living room, a little black dog beside me,and that TV is working fine.
(cross-posted to DW because life is silly)
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Hocus Pocus Erewhon [Jun. 9th, 2017|10:26 pm]
Robert
The rain this morning proved light, steady and pleasing. When I went to put out birdseed, I did not gracefully place it on the tiny garden bench we call "Scout's Bench". Instead, I more or less flung seed in the general direction.

Later, I saw a Mourning Dove under the little 18" tall bench, feeding. The neighborhood Cooper's Hawk suddenly landed on the back fence. He's a charming-looking fellow, somewhere in the region between not quite adult and just adult. I worried he would see the dove, but the dove and he remained oblivious to one another. I have seen Mourning Doves (understandably) panic near Cooper's Hawks. But this time no needless feeder soap opera erupted. I am glad. I am all for raptors in principle, but I did not want to see him attack the dove.

I ate a cereal called Erewhon, which tastes like a sweet corn cereal, hold the sweet. I checked the Clongclongmoo website for new netlabel releases. I found an interesting release on the Electrolyt label by an artist named Torin Bell called the Rain EP. I was drawn to the cover by artist Susana Licéaga. I was also drawn to the description of the music as being in the intersection of hip-hop and ambient. I pondered this, because I think of the intersection between downtempo and ambient as trip-hop. But when I downloaded the EP, I found that it was more like downtempo melodic electronica with some hip-hop influence. I like this kind of instrumental music--three light songs that clock in collectively at less than nine minutes. I listened to the three tracks and tweeted out a brief appreciation.

On the way to work, while in heavy traffic, I asked Google Voice to "play me some Be Bop Deluxe". Instead, Google Play Music began playing me a lot of early 70s and mid 70s progressive rock. It was a great sampling of its era--an Atomic Rooster song, a Focus song (like being lost in an art school keyboard), a very pleasant Anthony Phillips song, a Steve Hackett song (with more than a little Satie debt), a Bill Nelson solo song ("Love's a Way" from his debut micro-label Northern Dream release--a song I like), a Wishbone Ash song, a Phil Manzanera song, a Strawbs song, a trippy and enjoyable Tubes "Drum Solo" and finally, as I was pulling up to my office parking lot, the Be Bop Deluxe single "Ships in the Night". I was later to work than I like, due to rain delays, so I did not stop and listen to the song by the band I asked Google to play (discounting the solo effort). But I felt well, if mellotronically, treated.

The rain subsided by Noon. I picked up a magazine in Barnes & Noble. After a sandwich, I walked in the shopping center. The work day proved steady and productive.

I left the office at 6:30 p.m. I walked in Green Park, a tiny little park near us--just the place to get 2,000 more steps in. I arrived home. Soon, my wife came in, bringing Beatrice home from a walk. Beatrice was glad to see me, and told me so. Then she waited for me to remove her harness, so that she could get her coveted medicine pill pocket from my wife.

My wife and I went to Firewater near our home, and sat outside in the cool evening air. I had a 6" sirloin steak, roast potatoes and vegetables. My wife had a salad with chicken and a citrus vinaigrette. I peered in the distance at a television screen with a basketball game playing (game 4 of the NBA finals). I am not a huge pro basketball fan, but I wanted the team behind in the series (Cleveland) to win the game and avoid being swept.

We came home, watched Bluebloods, and called it an evening.

Breakfast: erewhon cereal and skim milk
Lunch: t-k-y sandwich and baked chips
Dinner: steak, potatoes and vegetables

(cross-posted to DW because life is silly)
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foreign election returns [Jun. 8th, 2017|09:49 pm]
Robert
I went to work in business casual this morning.My day proved full of things to do, as with many days lately.

In the early evening I walked in Hoblitzelle Park in Plano. We're up late watching the returns from the UK elections. I find myself surprised by the SNP losing seats to the Conservative Party and by Corbyn's skill as a campaigner in a national election.

As always, local turnout matters.

Breakfast: toasted wheatful cereal and skim milk
Lunch: fried chicken breast chicken leg, portion of a biscuit and green beans
Dinner: pork loin, turkey patty, salad and corn on the cob.

(cross-posted to DW because life is silly)
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