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carrots and a warning

Yesterday evening I got stopped by a policeman. One of my headlights was out.  He gave me a mere warning.  Tomorrow I have an appointment to remedy that. Tonight I ate skinless chicken breast, half a sweet potato and carrots..

I like rice cakes.

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culinary simplicity

Today I tried two experiments.

The first experiment involved trying out my ceramic egg microwave cooker. This worked out pretty well. The eggs were not attractive like a cooking show but they tasted good. I ate them with blueberries and a banana.

The second experiment involved my little Sunbeam hotpot. I stopped at Market Street, bought boneless chicken breast, potatoes, a stick of broccoli, and a zucchini. I tried out my new manual spiralizer. I found spiral zucchini easy-to-create. I know that the "in" thing is to make the spiralized zucchini a substitute for pasta. But I imagined making Chicken Noodle Soup.

Tonight I made something simpler. I used the hotpot to make a chicken boil. I brought the water to a boil I did not use any exotic broth, but instead just a bit of bouillon cube. When I had prepared a plateful of fixings, I seasoned it all with a bit of sea salt and some pepper. It all tasted really good, especially with the single sourdough roll I got at Market Street.

Cold weather returned today. I elected not to go to the park, but instead to walk to lunch at Potbelly. I like the TKY sandwich with vegetable soup and baked chips. After work I walked in Schell Park a bit, to get my steps in.

My work day went pretty well today.  I was pleased to hear our firm associate is about to leave for Disney World.

I was pleased to talk to my sister this afternoon.

The stock market took a dramatic fall. On another front, the president made yet another set of absurd statements.

We enjoyed last night's episode of "This is Us".  Tonight I listened to an album for which I wrote release notes for its small label release

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The Post and The Decisions

The temperature on Saturday was only slightly lower than the temperature on Sunday. But Saturday featured high humidity and an Arctic breeze which gusted near 30 km/hour. I enjoyed my outdoors time on Saturday but I found myself in need of layers of clothing.

Saturday morning I walked in Glendover Park, the 10-acre park a short walk from my home.  This year my "experiment" has been to try to take extended walks in this small park.  In the past I kept almost religiously to a circuit of the small pond on the park, which makes for a nearly-perfect one-half-hour loop from my house. This year I circle around in the park.  I get lots more steps this way. I see lots more wildlife this way, too.

Saturday lunch we went to the Food Court next to the Asian grocery in Plano. I hoped that we could visit the place that made meal-size Summer rolls on chilled rice paper. But we did not see that place.  We wandered among the Hakka Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Cajun, Filipino, and Sichuan Chinese choices. We settled on each ordering shrimp and vegetables from a Korean place that served Chinese food. It was very good--I particularly enjoyed the pickled vegetable side.  When I later read up on the subtleties of Hakka cuisine, I decided to try that one next time.

Saturday afternoon I walked in Suncreek Park and the Trail at the Woods in Allen. The brisk wind convinced me that I needed to walk in a wooded area. I got going good, though, when I realized I had left my camera battery in its AC wall-plug charger. I kept on walking, but I missed having the camera. I am neither an expert photographer nor an expert birder, but I like the chance to capture a moment from a walk with an image or video of something I see.

I fetched my camera, and headed to Green Park. This park is even smaller than Glendover Park. I have been pleased to see that the city's replacement of its bland playground equipement with new fire-truck-themed equipment has increased the park's popularity. As the park sits between an elementary school and a fire station, the fire station theme is ideal.  I saw dozens of Cedar Waxwings in a tree.

In the evening, my wife and I met our friends Scott and Donna. Each of them made a major career transition about a year ago. We were thrilled to hear that both had gotten minor but solid good news on the work front. We went to a place in west Plano called the True Food Kitchen. I had a teriyaki quinoa bowl with Salmon added. I liked the meal very much, even if the food being "true" meant I could not order a diet soda. My diet sodas are always true, and sometimes even have a true aftertaste.

We went to the movie "The Post".  LIke the earlier movie "Spotlight", this movie reminded me that truth can stand up to power. As with the movie "Darkest Hour", my reading after the film intrigued me, as so many of the most improbable scenes were the historically true ones, while routine details were sometimes the altered bits. "The Post" and "Darkest Hour" are great antidotes to the depressing feeling that things have never been as bad and fraught with risk as times today, but they are also clarion calls to remind us that each era requires action against the darkness.

This morning I got up and walked on the Chisholm Trail, starting from Orlando Drive and walking eastward. This time I saw some 90+ Cedar Waxwings in the trees. I assume they must be gearing up to go to better berries and buds. Cedar Waxwings, unlike other migratory species, are not mere north/south migrators. They migrate in all directions, with an uncanny sense of where berries are visible. I heard a Carolina Wren in a far-off tree make a territorial call. I heard a Carolina Wren in a nearby tree making an answering call. I looked at the nearby tree, and soon was getting good images and video, as the bird was just fifteen or so feet away.

At Weight Watchers I was up 2/10th of a pound--a good result. The meeting I attend is super-well-attended this January. By May, it will have thinned out a bit, but perhaps not as much as some years. It's a good group. I should talk more during the meeting, I suppose.

After my meeting, I walked in Hoblitzelle Park. I took video of an Eastern Phoebe perched nearby.

Then I went to church. The minister gave a good sermon on open doors and open hearts. He discussed the dilemma facing a study committee of the United Methodist Church about LGBTQ concerns. This group's recommendations are due in 2019. I hope that the church will amend the Book of Discipline to reflect a more liberal view than the current rules. The minister took a middle-course, not revealing his own position. As he said, some folks on the right will leave our denomination if the Book of Discipline is amended. Some will leave the denomination unless the Book of Discipline is amended. . Many folks advocate for middle positions,  The minister stressed the importance of love and inclusion even if issues divide people. I became a Unitarian Universalist in part because I think that church should be very inclusive. I belong to a United Methodist Church, but retain my universalist views. I will have to see what 2019 brings, but I appreciated the minister taking on this somewhat controversial sermon topic.

After church, I had fried catfish and green beans, with a roll, from Chicken Express. I took Beatrice for a walk this afternoon in Glendover Park.. She loved her walk.

The Super Bowl looks like a very good match, but I think we will watch "Victoria" on PBS instead.

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ground hog day chickadee

I got a lot of work done today. At lunch I walked in small Travis Farm Park. I took delight in a small Carolina Chickadee flitting from tree to tree.
We went to Holy Frijoles for dinner. I had a carne asada and shrimp. A station tuned to CNN discussed the president's decision to release a conservative Congressman's memorandum about the FBI investigation into Russian meddling, despite warnings from the intelligence community.

My wife and I talked about her work, a possible future trip to Costa Rica and our thoughts about a relative about to begin medical treatment.

I am glad to have a weekend to relax.
puffed kamut and skim milk
salad with turkey, no dressing
carne asada con camarones, tortilla chips, refried beans

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abilene effect and cube steak

I walked in Schell Park prior to work. I walked in Timbers Nature Preserve during lunch. I walked on the Chisholm Trail after work. During my Noon walk, I saw lots of raptors--A Red-Tailed Hawk, a Cooper's Hawk and an American Kestrel. One raptor flew quickly--with wings that made me wonder if it  was a Merlin. But I did not get a good enough view to identify it.

I'm too tired this evening. I feel okay but I hope this is not a harbinger of illness.

Someone posted about the Abilene Effect. It made me want to visit Abilene and then to visit Coleman. I looked up the distance to each town, but decided it was a longer trip to Coleman than I figured.  I liked the scene for the 1960s motel.

a bowl of puffed kamut and skim milk
string bean chicken, broccoli beef, mixed vegetables and a fortune cookie
a slice of cube steak, a slice of thin wheat bread and salad

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4 and an eclipse

Monday I got some important things done, but not as many things as I hope to do. At l.unch I stopped in Half-Priced Books. I bought used books on travel. I find myself interested in the midwestern cities and in Boise.

Tuesday I walked in Breckinridge Park. I took lots of pictures of a White-Throated Sparrow.  This particular one had a brown stripe on its head. I read how brown stripe White-Throated Sparrows only mate with white-stripe White-Throated Sparrows. This apparently is caused by chromosomes. An article or two referred to the phenomenon as "four sexes". I like that particular species of sparrow because of its yellow lore.

Wednesday we woke up early to watch the lunar eclipse. I was pleased and surprised when it turned out to be visible from our bedroom window.. I took pictures as it progressed.  It faded behind a house just  beforei it went full. I loved seeing it.

Tonight I ate turkey loaf and mashed potatoes.

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Celebration and Cut

Saturday morning I got up early. I ate puffed kamut and skim milk for breakfast. I drove to nearby Celebration Park here in Allen, I walked on the Celebration Pass Trail, a sidewalk trail that usually has lots of birding interest.  Saturday proved a good day to walk. I saw 27 species of birds.  Two species were my first sighting this year, bringing my total to 50 species for January.  My best pictures were of Yellow-Throated Sparrows.

My wife and I went to Elke's for lunch, I ordered a salmon, fresh fruit and a greens salad without dressing. It came with a slice of wheat toast. My salmon was particularly good. After lunch, we took Beatrice for a walk around the pond in Glendover Park.  In the late afternoon I went for a bicycle ride on the Watters Branch Trail. I saw 15 species of bird during a 6-mile ride.

Saturday night we went to Lita's a Tex/Mex/Indian fusion place. I had spinach enchiladas, bean soup, and rice. I listened to an ambient album and wrote liner notes for it.

Sunday morning I started my day at the Chisholm Trail in Plano near Christie Elementary off Rainier. When I got out of my car, I saw a large immature Red-Tailed Hawk in a tree.  I walked around in the chilly morning, taking short video clips of Ring-Necked Ducks. After half an hour, I drove to my Weight Watchers meeting.

I was down two pounds, bringing me back to 99 pounds lost. This is within the 10-pound range my doctor set for me. I have been in that range for over a year. I still go to Weight Watchers meetinsg every week. I even participate in its social media app, called Connect. Connect is a very positive place/. After Weight Watchers, I drove to Schell Park in Plano. I saw seven species of bird there. Then I went to church. I liked the sermon, one of an ongoing series of sermons on building bridges with other people.

After church, I drove to Chicken Express, where I had catfsh fillets, green beans and a roll.

After lunch, I went to Classic Cuts in Plano, where I got a haircut. My stylist, May, wished me a happy New Year, and pointed out that she gets two new years because it is nearly New Year in her home country.

I worked on cleaning things from my car and putting things away. I made a lot of progress on that. I want to make more progress, but the end is in sight.  In the late afternoon, I cleaned up the backyard so that it is more pleasant for Beatrice.  I worked a bit on figuring out a paperwork matter for a family matter.

At day's end, I drove to nearby Green Park, where I saw lots of the abundant Winter-resident warbler, the Yellow-Rumped Warbler. Then I went to El Pollo Loco to pick us up dinner. I had three pieces of chicken, broccoli, pinto beans and corn tortillas.

I want to get more things done this coming week, but I felt I made a good start on some things today.

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Kingfisher Arrival

Wednesday the weather turned balmy, with very little wind. I walked at lunch in Timbers Nature Preserve in the small town of Murphy, a ten-minute drive from my office. The preserve is an open field, a little pond, and a nice stand of trees, all encircled by sidewalks.  It's the kind of small city park that is not huge but is done correctly for maximum nature experience. 

As I walked, I heard a metallic rattling. I went back to the little pond to look for its source. Sure enough, there was a male Belted Kingfisher flitting among the trees around the pond. I snapped his picture several times. Later, I saw a Red-Tailed Hawk flying overhead.

Last night we watched the DVD of the movie "Arrival".  We really enjoyed this film--Amy Adams' performance was nuanced and effective.

Thursday morning I read about parks and trails in North Dakota, Iowa and Missouri.

Breakfast Wednesday: puffed kamut and skim milk
Lunch Wednesday: 2 slices pepperoni buffet pizza, pickles and carrots
Dinner Wednesday: 2 Reuben sandwiches

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puffed kamut

Tuesday I got a call with good news from my wife's step-mother.  The news covers two school shootings. The more lethal one is in Kentucky. In Italy, Texas, an hour or two from here, a classmate shot and wounded a 15-year-old student. She was hit with six bullets, but appears so far to be pulling through after being airlifted from Dallas. . I liked that the superintendent of schools reported how she told him  to tell all the devastated kids back in Italy (pronounced "It-lee") that if she can get through this, they can, too.  Her nickname, I read, is Cricket. We ate ravioli and watched "This is Us" and "Chicago Med".

This morning I tried Puffed Kamut and skim milk breakfast cereal. It was not bad, in a subdued kind of way.

At lunchtime Tuesday I ate soft tacos and walked in Breckinridge Park where I saw a lovely Harris's Sparrow.

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breezy but no longer shut down

Monday a mild temperature was more than offset by a chilly breeze. I walked after work on the Chisholm Trail.  I liked the way Lesser Scaups and Ring-Necked Ducks swam together.  I got a lot done at work, and want to get even more done tomorrow.

I am glad the government shut-down is already over. I would like to see a world in which things like the CHIP program providing children's health insurance is not treated as a political football.

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