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first day of Spring post

I feel pretty productive at work. The days have been warm and pleasant. I browse used cars at Enterprise Car Sales sometimes in the evening.

I walked in the park after work, and then worked more on making my car more tidy. I have more to do.

I got a postcard from the United States, asking me to fill out a precursor question set prior to being summoned for jury duty. I have done state court jury duty before, but I have not been on a federal jury.

My wife's sister and her son are coming to visit tomorrow. That will be fun. Saturday is iffy for rain. I hope it does not rain, but things will be fine either way.

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not a vireo

I felt good about what I accomplished at work. I also got a couple of other things into the mail.

After work, I stopped at Hoblitzelle Park in Plano. I walked for just shy of an hour. I puzzled over whether one bird I photographed was a Blue/Gray Gnatcatcher or some kind of vireo. The Cornell website resolved the question in favor of the former.

We sat on our tiny patio and watched birds fly by in the early evening.

I watched the movie 'Singin' in the Rain". 

A cousin wrote with sad health news about another cousin. I hope for the best. I have not seen my ill cousin in years, but he is a good guy.

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adding to the count

In the mid-morning I walked in Shawnee Park. I saw my first Field Sparrow and my first Harris's Sparrow of the year. After church, I drove to Chicken Express, where I ate catfish and green beans with a dinner roll. 

After lunch I walked in Suncreek Park in Allen. I saw my first Golden-Crowned Kinglet of the year. My best pictures today were of an Eastern Phoebe in Suncreek Park and of a Northern Flicker in Shawnee Park.

In the mid-afternoon, I worked on making my car more tidy. I made some progress, but  did not finish. Then I took Beatrice for a walk. For the second day in a row, she opted to take the "shorter route" in which we deviate from the park to the elementary school beside the park rather than walking around the park pond. During that walk, I saw my first Common Grackles of the year.

We ate home-made pizza with goat cheese and parmesan cheese, which was very good. I plan to read my book tonight, get a good night's sleep and then have a productive week this coming week.

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Friday we ate dinner at Holy Frijoles. This neighborhood Tex/Mex place makes excellent chicken enchiladas verde. 

Saturday morning I got up early and drove to Carrollton, about a half an hour away. I stopped first on the Carrollton Blue Trail. This sidewalk path runs by a small town lake and continues by some open spaces and trees. I counted some 20+ species of birds during a 40 minute walk. I recognized everything I saw, except that I am still internally debating if the bird I listed as a Savannah Sparrow is in fact a Song Sparrow.

Then I headed to the Dallas Makerspace for the North Texas Linux Users Group meeting. I had not been to one of their meetings in a year or two. I have never been a regular attendee, but only go once in a while. When I first arrived, the group was all looking at a program used by a new visitor called xfoil.

I had never heard of xfoil It is a bit of software that allows one to design airfoils. Apparently, this bit of free and open software saved the aeronautics industry substantial sums, as the resulting virtual airfoils are much cheaper to utilize than physical windtunnels. The users' group offers a service in which they help visitors put Linux on their computers. This visitor wanted help getting a dual-boot install so that he could run xfoil in Linux.

While we had some downtime, I installed xfoil on my computer, as it was in my Linux distribution's Linux repository (i.e., collection of free software set up for easy download-and-install). The nice man who brought in xfoil showed me how to define an airfoil (it turned out to be a handful of coordinate commands on a 180 degree x.y axis).  We could get it to load, but we could not get it to render (a command called ppar showed the airfoil). It looks as if my system was missing a font. The same specifications worked on someone else's Fedora computer.
The aircraft enthusiast kindly explained to me at length the genesis of xfoil, which was surprisingly interesting.

At home, I tried to get xfoil to work and to render an airfoil. My home laptop seemed to have the font that my 12" travel laptop lacks. I took the specifications for an airfoil for a wind turbine (by a company called Bergey) and altered some of the coordinates substantially. The result was an "airfoil" that looked a bit like a sail crossed with a caterpillar. I like drawing in x,y, but should do a more precise job.I like xfoil because it reminds me of Logo, a simple programming language with allows one to move a turtle (the cursor) along an x,y and even z axis. I did not use xfoil's more advanced features having to do with drag, lift and this or that coefficient, just as I never program in Logo beyond a few dozen commands. The program did warn me in effect that my airfoil did not look very aerodynamic. I like succeeding at quests to get things to work that are complete non-sequiturs.

After the meeting, most of us went to Taco Bueno to have lunch and chat. These were all guys, and good guys, mostly a decade or so older than I am. They were, as tech hobbyists often are (but I am not) avid ham radio buffs. One fellow, also named Bob, explained how he flew bomber missions during Vietnam as an Air Force navigator after his graduation from college. I had spoken with Bob before, and know his hobby is using computers to build organs that sound like pipe organs. He is a good guy, like me more a user than a programmer. During lunch he made some political statements contrary to my own political views. I was irritated, a bit, by this injection of political stuff into a nice lunch, but more irritated that I spent time trying to rebut his positions. He's a good guy, though, and I'll see him at another meeting, where I hope we talk virtual pipe organs.

I stopped by PetSmart on my way home to pick up Beatrice's food. Because it has a measure of weigh control in it, this food is the equivalent of doggie prescription medicine. Apparently, some people buy dogfood with weight control features for the wrong reasons.
In the late afternoon, I took Beatrice on a walk in lovely weather. She loved being outdoors but I noticed that she took the turn at the elementary school that cuts our walk short by half. I saw a Brown-Headed Cowbird, which will be the 60th species on my eBird list.

I had left my SD card in my camera at home by mistake, so I rummaged to find the right kind of USB cord to move my sparrow photos from camera to computer. Then I puzzled once more on the sparrow ID issue, as the photos looked Savannah Sparrow-ish but lacked the yellow lore characteristic of that species.  I am intrigued, by the way, with how many cords I own in life.

We ate dinner at Tokyo Joe's, where I had a bowl of chicken and vegetables. We also went to PetSmart to do an exchange, as I had accidentally gotten R/D food instead of W/D food.

The deaths in New Zealand at the hands of a terrorist of at least 50 people who were worshipping in a mosque in Christchurch is so sad. I hope that a concerted effort is made to root out terror cells of white supremacists and to improve security. for mosques, schools, chuches and other public gatherings. It is all very sad.

The college admission bribery scandal still resonates with me. I hope the FBI exposes any further participants in this situation. I continue to be struck by the wiretap allegedly of a lawyer with a nationally-prominent New York firm who proclaimed to the government informant that he was not bothered by the moral issue involved at all.

I want to walk, to get practical things done, and to read my book today. I started reading "A Perfect Explanation" by Eleanor Anstruther, after finishing "My Name is Carey" by Martin L. Shoemaker. I heard from actor Joe Marsh on Twitter after I complimented his excellent job on the audiobook of "Cousin Phillis".

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books by ear and books by pixel

Tonight I finished listening to the audiobook of Elizabeth Gaskell's "Cousin Phillis". I like other Gaskell novels I have read, but I particularly liked the subtle layers of this novella. The reader, by actor Joe Marsh, effectively conveyed the characters.  I sought out his twitter and said as much. I like that the internet permits such communications from time to time.

The on-gong scandal related to the indictment of personnel involved in bribery and fraud schemes to win college admission for undeserving kids with well-heeled parents holds my interest. The series of odd coincidences, curiously transparent plots and odd choices makes this somewhat tawdry example how things work curiously riveting.

I am nearly done with the ebook "Today I am Carey". I enjoy its golden-age-of-science-fiction emphasis on story over fantasy elements or even hard science. I do not always like near-future science fiction ,but this novel has proven to be a good one.

Tonight I walked in Crowley Park in Richardson. I saw a Blue-Gray Gnat-catcher.   I do not find them easy to photograph, because they move about so rapidly. I was pleased to get a single decent photograph.

I need to make an appointment to clean my teeth. Somehow my dentist's receptionist has not gotten back with me. I will need to see about that Monday, as I believe they are closed on Friday.

I follow with interest but uncertainty the various announcements of candidates for president of the United States. Perhaps I will go to a Linux meeting tomorrow. I need to play in a chess tournament--my last in-person tournament was in 2013, though I have played postal chess a few times since then.

I am thankful for my brother and my sister.

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roadrunner and fraud

Today workers came to our office to install some glass near two office doors. The workers made some noise and spread some dust. But they worked hard to minimize the impact. The cutting and relocating is done. The glass will go in tomorrow.

At lunch, I saw a Greater Roadrunner our foraging in the mildly rainy conditions at Breckinridge Park. In the early evening, I saw a Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher at Breckinridge Park.

Today the news broke of the numerous federal indictments of college coaches, lawyers-who-should-know-better, actors, CEOs,and investors, all accused of greater or lesser crimes having to do with using wrongful means to get undeserving kids their places in universities. Some of the universities involved are not, to my mind, particularly elite. This makes me wonder about parents who think that admission to a desired university is better than, in one case, $ 500,000 and admission to Santa Monica college, a very good community college.  This story's stark reminder of the corrosive income gap in our country piques my interest

I'm listening to an audiobook of Elizabeth Gaskell's "Cousin Phillis", which is just grand, with a very good fellow unfamiliar to me doing the reading. I like the way Gaskell novels always feel like a tour of a time and place.

Tomorrow the rain returns. I liked talking to my sister this evening. I am still reading Martin L. Shoemaker's "Today I am Carey". I am about 60% through--it is holding my interest like any good golden-age-inspired near-future narrative can do.

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Last week my wife had work meetings all week. I ate out every evening.  The weather stayed cold until the end of the week, and then turned pleasant, and by Saturday, warm.

I had planned to spend the weekend in Arkansas with my brother and sister, doing some practical things. But a rainstorm moved in early Saturday morning, with a 100% chance of rain for Saturday in Arkansas. We postponed until a different day and time.

Saturday in the pre-dawn, a huge storm set in our neighborhood, with bursts of hail and sheet rain. One of our neighbors' trees, a Bradford Pear, broke in two. Its blooming branches were spread on the ground,  Bradford Pears grow quickly and often bloom and leat nicely, but often prove subject to breaking.

Later Saturday the weather turned nearly perfect,  I ws tempted to drive some miles west, to avoid further storms. But the storms had already passed to the east.  I enjoyed walking in Green Park, Glendover Park and Allen Station Park, listening to podcasts and enjoying the weather.

Saturday night my wife went out for a girls' night out. I picked up a 4 dollar bit of Anchor Hocking glass to use for microwaving. I  microwave steamed oso squash, and yellow squash and heated up some fishless vegan sticks. I am not vegan,  but it is nice to vary sometimes.

Sunday I finished Stephanie Domet's novel "Fallsy Downsie", about a Canadian folk singer near the end of his career, which I enjoyed. I bought another ebook, Martin L. Shoemaker's sci-fi "Today I am Carey". I managed to read over half of that novel on Sunday, I look forward to the rest of the reading of the book. I learned about it from a review email from Barnes & Noble.

Tonight after work I stopped in Half-Priced Books. I picked up an audio book of Elizabeth Gaskell's "Cousin Phillis". After an evening walk, I listened to Disk 1, Track 1.

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cold walks

Tuesday I got a lot of work done in the afternoon.

During my lunch break I walked in Salmon Park in Sachse. This city park has a baseball field and a tiny creek and a long strip of land which heads oblong into some trees.

The weather was once again very cold. Today things are to improve.

After work, I walked a bit in Shawnee Park in Plano. I was cold.

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I am all for Bruno

Friday morning, I caught a 9 a.m. SuperShuttle to the DFW Airport..  My shuttle arrived eight minutes late, but got me to the airport reasonably quickly.

One thing I like about DFW is that the wait time in the TSA security scanning line is rarely long. Friday proved to be one of those rare long days. The line snaked around a bit. I found comforting the electronic display that accurately explained the line time estimate of thirty minutes. I reached my gate in 30 minutes.

On the flight out, I reviewed documents for an upcoming work matter. I played Extreme Tux Racer, the Linux race game based on a penguin sliding on ice and getting herring. I won a round with some impressive virtual ice-sliding. I read thirty pages in the book I'm reading, "Fallsy Downsies" by Stephanie Dolmet.

American Airlines upped its media game. Like Southwest, it finally permits one to watch live television. I did not find the perfect  show to watch. But I had a dozen choices.

My wife and her step-mother picked me up at the Tucson Airport. When I left Dallas, the weather was a touch above freezing. In Tucson, the weather was warm and mild. We drove to the Sunrise Cafe.  This Greek restaurant is in a small mini-mall space next to a large regional art gallery. I ordered the chicken gyros. I really enjoyed it.

My wife and I went to walk in the Catalina Mountain foothills on the Finger Rock Trail. We take this walk almost yearly. I liked the pictures I took of a Phainopepla perched twenty feet or so away from the trail.  I made up a way to remember the name "Phainopepla". I suggested to my wife that she think of the song "Anatevka" from the musical "Fiddler on the Roof" and to replace the word Anatevka with the word Phainopepla.

My wife's stepmother made a fantastic meal of chicken piccata, new potatoes and a green vegetable, along with olive bread. We played a three-handed game of pool, which my wife's step-mother won handily. I turned in early while my wife and her step-mother settled in for a good, long chat.

I woke up early Saturday morning and read 90 more pages in my novel. My wife and I drove to Rillito River Park. I like this park, which is a long bit of paved bicycle way on either side of a seasonal river. Tucson had just returned to warm weather after a bit of Winter. So the river, often a dry wash, was flowing.

We walked along and saw things. In Rio Vista Park, we saw a Vermillion Flycatcher and a noisy Cooper's Hawk. We saw Ground Squirrels and House Finches, and lots of cyclists and walkers.

My favorite creature on the walk, next to my wife, was the dog Bruno. Bruno's owner stood at the bottom of a path from the bicycle path down to the wash. She said "Bruno! Come on! It's time to go!".  Bruno, a labrador mix or some such, was swimming in the shallow but moving river. His owner's voice got a bit strident because she apparently felt that Bruno failed to heed her call.  Soon it became apparent that Bruno felt nervous about how to cross back on the river. Eventually, Bruno found a way, to cross, as his owner, tune changed, called out encouragement. Bruno is a good dog. I would like to be more like Bruno.

We went back to my wife's step-mother's place for a lunch of luncheon meat on raisin bread with fruit.  In the afternoon, my wife dropped me off at the Tucson Botanical Garden while she went and shopped.

Tucson's Botanical Garden is small but very high quality. It features, as one might expect, a collection of cacti, euphorbia and succulent plants, primarily from the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts. I walked around and looked for birds. I liked the Curve-Billed Thrasher, the Abert's Towhee, and the Lesser Goldfinch.

I saw the sundial that my wife's father's friend gave the garden in honor of my wife's late uncle. Her cousin had created the sundial. I learned that my wife and her uncle Greg had the same middle name.

In the evening, the four of us went to the restaurant called Blanco. I had not been there for some years. I had a great meal of chicken enchiladas, charro beans and rice. We went back to my wife's step-mother's place. We watched the remainder of the basketball game between Kansas State, my wife's step-mother's alma mater,and the team from Baylor University. We played another round of pool, which my wife's step-mother handily won. Once again, I turned in early while my wife and her step-mother stayed up and chatted.

Sunday morning my wife and I returned our rental car at the airport. Unlike in Dallas, the line at TSA was nearly empty. We made our plane in good shape. Our Super Shuttle was not at the DFW when we arrived, but still at Love Field, an hour away. We waited indoors, because the weather was freezing and windy.  When he arrived, our driver was a good guy. He told us about the Nigerian food fufu.

I was pleased to see Beatrice and she was pleased to see us.

In the late afternoon, I walked in Glendover Park, It was extremely cold. I still enjoyed the walk. 

In the evening, we watched the season finale of the show "Victoria".  I got a very good night's sleep.

Monday morning I was in good time to head off to work. But then my car battery had died. I called AAA, who gave me a jump start with a cool machine. The bad news was that a test disclosed my battery was on its last legs. With some help from my law partner at lunch, I took the car to NTB , a battery emporium. By the time my work day was done, the car was long ready.

My wife had a meeting tonight, so I stopped by the casual Japanese cafe Shinrai for chicken teriyaki. Then I bought bananas and breakfast cereal at Kroger. I went to Kroger after Sprouts turned out to be out of bananas. The below-freezing cold and steady wind made things very cold indeed.

Now I am watching Deep Space Nine and musing over an invoice I just received that said it was 30+ days since it came due when I do not believe I got the invoice 30+ days ago.

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moving forward

Late February proved mostly cold with a couple of warm days, rather than being mostly temperate with a couple of cold days. The saucer magnolia is in its annual bloom, days before a cold snap is set to worsen.

The new "locally grown" (i.e., southeastern Texas) birdseed remains an unqualified hint. Its coarse blend of field corn, sunflower seeds, thistle and peanuts draws in a diverse and eager set of species. I saw a herd of Brown-Headed Cowbirds at the feeder--a first of the year sighting. So far I am up to 53 species or this year, approximately like but perhaps a few birds fewer than last year at this time.

I read a couple of hundred pages of a novel, Stephanie Domet's "Fallsy Downsies", centered around a famous Canadian musician who is, in the novel, about my age and thus considered past prime. The decision to get a used netbook to use as a DRM-free ereader proved a good one. My reading on this book moves at a nice pace.  I am intrigued by the differential speeds I adopt in reading different sorts of books.

I am getting practical things done, and want to do more. My wife flew out yesterday morning to catch a dawn-ish plane west. Her work is going very well. I really enjoyed watching "The Orville" last night. I made a post on WW Connect that drew lots of responses. It was about being imperfect and yet succeeding more than one fails.

This afternoon I will be a bit warmer. Beatrice woke up with me for breakfast cereal, though she does not get cereal but a dog bone or two. I saw a pair of Red-Shouldered Hawks near the Market Street on the Watters Branch Trail. They were so gorgeous, and not far away. I could see them clearly in my camera's zoom lens.

I want to ride a train. I want to walk in the desert, perhaps near a wash. I want to get some paperwork done. I want to organize some things.

I am in the thinking stage about a few choices. We'll see what I think when I have thought a bit. The movie "Penny Serenade" was on the other day, but I changed the channel because I did not see it  from the start.

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