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Clipper Corporation

Last night I gave myself my third haircut since the coronavirus crisis began. I use a battery-operated device created by Wahl Clipper Corporation. I tend to grow long, Ambrose Burnside or Elvis-in-Vegas sideburns, so I trimmed those especially short. At first I used the plastic shear attachments, but eventually I just resorted to the basic device without shear guards.  Meanwhile, on television, the movie "The Mouse that Roared" documented the victory of Grand Fenwick.  I was stuck, as I always am, by the way that the camera liked the actress Jean Seberg. I felt badly reading how she was arguably persecuted by the FBI.

This morning I walked in Glendover Park during the cool early hours. I saw a female Neon Skimmer dragonfly on a tree. I saw a Barn Swallow perched on the school. I attended my Weight Watchers meeting via Zoom. I walked in Story Park and in Green Park. In Green Park I saw a Mississippi Kite in the midst of a shady tree. I listened to two podcasts.

In the afternoon, I fell asleep for a few hours. Then I got up and got some more work done in the early evening. I ate a dinner of shrimp and pasta. Lately I like to put a little Tang in my water.

I finished Alice Thompson's novel "The Existential Detective." I found the solution to the mystery satisfying. I felt the denouement was perhaps a bit rushed and conclusory, but overall the novel was a very good read.  I have had very good luck with the series of novels I purchased from Salt Publishing over in the UK.  A good small press can do miracles.

I went to the Weightless Books site to find a new novel. I bought the science fiction novel "A Stranger in Olondria" by Sofia Samatar. I look forward to that one. But on a whim I went over to smashwords.com to browse some more for books. I decided to enter the search term "Shropshire" in its search engine. This led me to Roz Morris' "Not Quite Lost", a group of travel sketches. I read the first few dozen pages of this book today.

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Count to 85

Today I got up very early.  I got work done both early morning and mid-afternoon. I felt glad to put the time in today. I also took a morning walk in Glendover Park. I saw 14 bird species and a handful of dragonfly species.

I solved some more chess puzzles, at chess.com, moving my rating to 1735. I am playing an interesting game at 3 days/move time control in which I am defending a King's Gambit Declined Keene Variation position.

I read a good bit more of Alice Thompson's "The Exisential Detective", a literary novel and a mystery. I enjoy it so far, as I usually do with book from the small press from the UK called Salt Publishing.

In the afternoon, I walked in Bethany Lakes Park when I was not working. I saw a Snowy Egret among 17 species. The Snowy Egret marked my 85th Collin County species. Due to staying nearer home at parks with very low attendance, my Spring birding included fewer Collin County species than in past years. The same reason, by the way, means I have more Dallas County species at this point in the year than I usually have all year--64 so far. The Cornell eBird site changed its look and feel to make some kinds of searching and comparison easier. I like the feature that shows one how one's count through x day of the month or the whole month tracks with immediate prior years. Friday my 64th Dallas County species was the White-Breasted Nuthatch at 111 Ranch Road Park in Garland.

Beatrice has fully recovered from her bout of upset stomach. That makes me happy. She is a fine old dog.

I saw a Swift Setwing, I think, at Bethany Lakes. I posted it on iNaturalist, and we'll see if anyone agrees.

I drove to San Miguel to pick up dinner for us. We like that Tex/Mex place. Mask use was very good and universal, but their small entryway made social distancing more difficult.  I wish they had had a "bring to the car" option.

I had a good call with my brother and got some things mailed to my sister this week.

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Memories of Past Travel

Saturday night the fireworks display in  the neighboring town of McKinney's Craig Ranch area was clearly visible  in full glory from the street in front of our house. We enjoyed going  out and watching it. Our own town's effort at a stay-at-home-and-see  fireworks show did not work out for us due to a couple of trees in our  neighborhood. I had had a similar story in Two Strikes Park in La  Crescenta, California years ago. For years one could go to the park and  see fireworks down below. But one year the pines got too tall for best  viewing.  

I miss that park, to which I took our two Lhasa Apso  dogs Teddy and Scout for a walk.  We would walk there and walk straight  back, perhaps a half-mile in total. One day I decided to stay in the  park and see if they wanted to play.  But they both lay down, as if in  need of a long rest. They preferred the walk-there-walk-back method. The  sound of their toenails clicking on our street during the first part of  the walk stays with me. That was over 20 years ago.

One Summer  thing they offered then was a school bus going to Santa Monica beach on a  Saturday. I never took the beach I could and did drive to the beach.  But somehow I wish I had taken the bus.

I attended my morning  Weight Watchers meeting on Sunday. The meetings are still held via Zoom.  Roughly 16 to 19 people attend each week,whereas the former live  sessions brought in closer to 30.  The virtual meeting format works  pretty well for that event.

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doob book harmony

Early this morning I finished the non-fiction work "Sonic Writing" by Thor Magnusson. I began that book on October 29 of last year. I spent 6 months and 1 day on that book--a rough average of 88 pages a month, or only three pages a day. In fact, I had lots of 10 page days, a few 25 and 40 page days, and lots of 0 page days. I enjoyed the book, a reflection on music creation and the effect of the digital, very well. I learned a lot. But I took it slowly. I am glad to finish it, but I'm glad to have read it. I think it will inspire me.  Thor Magnussons is one a set of folks who release freeware music software as ixi-music. I use it often. 

I try to only read ebooks without drm, unless i buy in hard copy. This proves less limiting than I would have imagined.

I think the next book will try to find a sci-fi at Tor.

Two yeas ago Lee Rosevere and I traded drawings we made with the on-line tools at Mr. Doob's site. This year we each traded songs, one song per drawing Lee relased it today as "Harmony".  I like one of Lee's songs the best in the set.

I worked a very busy day. I had to ask my assistant to stay late, which I in general hate to do. I recall too many late nights decades ago when I was younger and my then-assistant had to work with me to get things ready to be mailed from the LA airport-area postoffice before midnight.

I watched a show about Woodrow Wilson's wives.

I looked at a sports team practicing in the park, without any social distancing or masks.

Our local county counts keep increasing. from Dreamwidth, because two posts of the same text are twice as nice
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TV Roundup

Last week I worked very hard on a few time-sensitive matters. Saturday I got up early. I worked from 6:20 a.m. until well after 11, and then picked it up again later in the afternoon. Saturday afternoon I walked from our home to Glendover Park to the East Rowlett Trail to the Ridgeview Trail.
I saw 21 species of bird, including three fledgling Scissor-Tailed Flycatchers awaiting a feeding from their parents

I walked in Story Park in Allen on Sunday. I put on my rain jacket as a precaution I found myself walking in rather hot weather without rain. I listened to podcasts: Gretchen Rubin's "Happier" podcast and the "Ask Noah" show. The latter discussed hosting the Southeast Linux Festival virtually. They had to use Zoom because they found open-source tools only 80% reliable. Someday that ratio will change.

Sunday I got in a jag of playing blitz chess game after blitz chess game against bot opponents on chess.com. I had my rating up over 1400, but through poor play it declined to 1331. That is lower than I hope to achieve. I will try to raise it. My puzzle rating is up to 1703. That is more like it
I also played my first 3-day game, and won after my opponent, down a rook, lost on time.

Things I watched on television lately:

a. Perry Mason on HBO, episode 1, season 1: This prequel explores southern California from a Chinatown-like perspective. It's violent and a bit bawdy, while the old TV show had lots of off-screen violence and unspoken bawdiness. I like it so far okay, though it is too gritty for me.

b. too many episodes of Downton Abbey, a show whose returns I like but I watch very often lately as my local PBS station tries to fund-raised with rerun marathons;

c. D.A. Pennebaker's film "Don't Look Back", a movie that helps show the young Dylan's impact, but also shows the beginnings of the worst things about Dylan, a brilliant artist who attracts a cult following that detracts from his reality through over-mythologizing. I liked seeing the young Donovan, hearing Joan Baez's off-the-cuff singing and seeing all the great mid-60s British styles--not the high fashion or youth counter-culture, but the day-to-day ordinary folks. I liked the movie, but started viewing with a bit of bias about Dylan that the film of course confirmed.

d. Two more episodes of Grantchester. I like the new (second) lead character vicar.

e. Lucy Worsley's program about royal women in the UK. I like the light approach to these.

I sorted the pages and made the spreadsheets to get my family business things to my accountant, who had me correct a couple of spreadsheets.  I am glad to have that done well before the extended deadline of July 15th.

Coronavirus continues to worsen in Texas, apparently spurred in large measure by bars  joining food processing plants, jails and and elder care facilities as hotspots for spread. I see more masks now, but not as many masks as I think I should see.

I have cut my own hair twice, but I need to cut it a third time. I like putting Tang water flavoring in my yeti mug and filling it with water and ice.

I daydreamed of having the virus calm down, renting an isolated cabin, and enjoying a four-day weekend away. Now this may yet happen, but it begins to look like 2021. Yet we are so fortunate in a time so difficult for so many.

My bird list is a bit down--84 for my county this year. Last year was 95 by now. Coronavirus seclusion, I suppose.

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Sunday I walked in Allen Station Park just prior to a new rainstorm. Today another storm is in progress. We need the rain, and the storms have so far avoided any property damage in our area.

Prior to the storm yesterday, I saw two of the immature Black Vultures who few up on the old yellow house at the park. I had seen adult vultures on that house before, but did not realize they had nested there this year. A woman on Instagram who volunteers there let me know in a comment.

Early Sunday afternoon I watched the film "Our Grapes have Tender Vines" on TCM. I like this kind of old-fashioned family film. It is always good to see Edward G. Robinson in a non-gangster role.

Later Sunday afternoon I walked in Green Park. I took photos of a House Finch.

I improved my chess.com ratings. I raised my blitz chess rating to 1410. I solved all five puzzles yesterday and today to raise my puzzle rating to 1613. I should convert to a paid membership.

Beatrice turned up a touch under the weather yesterday, which works out fine as she has a scheduled vet appointment anyway. I hope she is okay.

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Spreadsheets and a Movie

Saturday morning I walked in Story Park in Allen.  I favor this park because it features wide open spaces (fields by a school) and relatively few people. Yesterday a few other people used the walking paths, but social distancing remained easy I saw lots more mask use on my walk. A local uptick in virus cases may have helped with that result.

Saturday afternoon I did my annual ritual of building spreadsheets to provide to my accountant. I got that paperwork off to him this morning, and already got an email prior to 7 a.m. advising me of their receipt. I also walked for a long time around Glendover Park, where I got a good photograph of a Widow Skimmer dragonfly.

Saturday night we watched the Steve Coogan and Rob Bryson film "the Trip to Greece."  I like this premise--fictionalized versions of the two actors touring a foreign country and ad-libbing a plot. We found the film enjoyable. We also watched two episodes of Dirty John, the story about Betty Broderick. I like the actress Amanda Peet, who always brings a kind of mad whimsy to her roles. In general, though, true crime is not my favorite genre.

The rains Friday night broke the heat, must in time for Summer. This morning I took Beatrice for a walk. We made it a few blocks to the neighborhood poo, and then came back home, She is a fine, very old dog.

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rainy night with Ann

I got a lot of work done in the past two days. I want to get more done this weekend. Our first June rain fell tonight.. The town storm siren blared, but the storm proved non-severe here.

I walked tonight in Green Park. I saw 11 species of bird. Yesterday I walked in Timbers Nature Preserve in Murphy, and got good photos of a Widow Skimmer and of an anole lizard.  June is a great wildlife month.  But I even like August, the "slow month." 

We watched the one-woman play "Ann" by and starring Holland Taylor. We liked it. I met Ann Richards once at a Dallas fund-raiser during her first run for governor. I liked meeting her, but I do not recall anything other than meeting her. It was the least interaction one can have when one meets someone.

The virus upticked here. I hope this means people will wear their masks.

Beatrice is doing well. Some of her fur has grown back in. After a long life of dry food, now she gets a can of wet food a day.

I solve puzzles and play blitz chess (mostly against bots) at chess.com. My Puzzle rating is 1516. My blitz chess rating is 1392. I want each to e higher.

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Early riser

I woke today at 5 a.m. to prepare for a morning meeting. I walked in the shady area of Breckinridge Park in Richardson at lunch.  Our local virus count increased, and, as expected, the news later announced that a local assisted living facility had a high infection rate.

This week the United States Supreme Court ruled that Title VII applies to LGBTQ persons.

My on-line blitz chess rating at chess.com remains low, around 1365.

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Eight Song Split

Thursday evening my wife and I were walking on the Ridgeview Trail at dusk. We saw a bobcat approaching us about 50 yards ahead on the trail.  The bobcat watched us curiously, and then headed off. On Friday, a Facebook memory reminded me of an earlier bobcat sighting some years prior.

Saturday I walked in Glendover Park. I kept circling and circling the park.I saw 18 different bird species. I got good photos of a small Red-Eared Slider turtle, of a Red-Bellied Woodpecker, and of Blue Dasher dragonflies. Later I walked in Green Park and saw 10 more species.

I got a little of the family business I wanted to get done on Saturday done. I feel confident that I will do the rest soon. I read a few more pages of "Sonic Writing", but still have some pages to go. Sunday I attended a WW virtual meeting, and set my local church's service up to play on Youtube live.

My afternoon Zoom call proved to be a no-show. I suppose I should get a green screen.  I walked on the Ridgeview Trail in the afternoon.

I solved a lot of chess puzzles this weekend, having discovered this function of chess.com in which one races again time. I also did a competitive version, but it was not as much fun so far as just solving them solo..

Musician Lee Rosevere sent me the tracks from a project we are doing together. We each used the on-line drawing tool Harmony to create four sketches. Then each of us wrote one song for each of the four sketches. This has been a very casual project. Lee sent me his drawings months before I sent him mine. On the other hand, I sent my recordings months before he sent his recordings. The end result sounds good, with two of Lee's tracks really standing out among the set.

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