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Passenger Hawk

Monday and Tuesday were solid work days. The weather is a bit hotter than during our vacation, but fairly reasonable for our location and time of year. 

My slow read of the Spring and Summer, Eleanor Anstruther's "A Perfect Explanation" proceeds at a more rapid pace. I am intrigued at how a novel I basically like can take a long time to read, while another novel I basically like can take a day or three to read. I will be glad to finish "A Perfect Explanation", a literary novel, so that I can get a new science-fiction book.

On Tuesday morning, I stopped at little A.R. Schell Park on my way to work. I saw a young Cooper's Hawk on a nearby branch .  Tuesday evening we watched the Morten Tyldum film "Passengers", the 2016 sci-fi film with Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence.  We enjoyed the film.
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A trip to Wales

On Thurday July 3 we came home from work and packed.

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I saw a Common Whitetail Skimmer dragonfly at Allen Station Park.I ate 20 roasted almonds. We watched the US Women win their soccer match with England.

I like diet ginger beer.

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trips to the afterlife and to Story Park

Saturday morning I drove to our bank to try to exchange some money for an upcoming vacation. The bank was unable to exchange funds without several days' notice. The helpful woman at the intake at the entry to the bank directed me to a store at Stonebriar Mall.

I drove to Stonebriar Mall in Frisco. There an exchange kiosk had a low transaction fee but a below-market exchange rate. I exchanged fund,though a bit less than I would have exchanged had the rate been better. 

I stopped by a Big Lots nearby, and picked up USB/mini-USB cell phone charging cables. I stopped by a Half-Priced Books and bought a book-on-CD. I had meant to buy a Karin Fossum mystery, but got mixed up and instead bought  a Karin Slaughter mystery.

I next drove to Russell Creek Park in Plano. I walked its grounds and around its little lake. I saw my first Little Blue Heron of this year there. I do not often see LIttle Blue Heron.  This became my 97th species in Collin County for the year. I typically see between 100 and 110 species of the 250 or so possible in Collin County each year. True to form, by mid-year I have already seen what will likely be 85% or more of my total.

Saturday evening we had my wife's former co-worker Cathy and her friend Rick over for a "surf and turf". My wife made tasty tenderloin and lobster tails .Rick made a very good fruit salad, while Cathy brought a cherry pie from a bakery called Humble Pies. We all had a nice time talking. Cathy had just retired from a 22-year-long run at Verizon. She hopes to work a bit longer for another employer.

Sunday I walked in Hoblitzelle Park. Then I went to Weight Watchers, where I was 8/10ths of a pound up. The woman who weighed me, who may be named Amelia, asked if I had expected the gain. I let her know that I had no fixed expectation.

After Weight Watchers I walked at the Watters Creek Trail in Allen. Then I went to church, during which service the minister, Jessica Wright, told us a story about her childhood growing up in Arkansas. She explained that she went to a friend's church after a sleepover.  She found herself sitting next to an adult. During the meet-and-greet section of the service, she had shaken this man's hand. Seeing she was a guest, he asked her where she usually went to church. She said "We don't go to church--we're Jewish".  The man responded with "Your family is going to Hell". I have often felt that the "shake hands with one's neighbor" phase of the weekly church service is  most effective section at helping to put distance between people, though I admit it can be nice to shake hands with a familiar face. Pastor Wright's story,though, supported my feeling that it is a flawed process. The sermon addressed the meaning of the metaphoric language in the Book of Revelation, and was well-done.

In  the early afternoon, I walked in Story Park in Allen. I listened to a history podcast which focused on the governance of Ireland and Wales in the 16th Century.  The days of castles and kings make for interesting stories, except that that kings and lords and dukes and barons all come out sounding like complete scoundrels. I saw a young Cooper's Hawk in a tree, causing consternation to the local Northern Mockingbirds.

I wanted to do constructive things in the afternoon, but I found myself resting instead. We'll see what practical things I can get done when the workday is over.

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bathing cardinal

My wife called me after work to tell me that she was working late, getting a deadline met. She suggested I grab my own dinner. I extended the walk I was taking at Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve in Plano.

The walk had already been a good one. I had seen a large Green Anole Lizard, which puffed out its puffed chest-portion. I got some nice video of a Northern Cardinal bathing. I saw a cute rabbit resting on a trail.

After my call with my wife was over, I walked a bit further. I heard two birds singing. One was a Northern Cardinal. One was a Painted Bunting. I looked up in some nearby trees, and saw each.  I am not as good with identifying birds by song as I am by eye. But some songs I recognize.

I went to TianAnMien Wok in Allen. I like this small, very casual cafe. I ordered my usual chicken and broccoli, with hot-and-sour soup. My fortune cookie told me it is a good time to take a trip, and that I should take a vacation. Those were my own feelings exactly.

I stopped by Kroger and got some bananas, some wild bird seed, and some low-fat, part-skim string cheese. I get the string cheese with only 45 to 50 calories a stick. Such bowdlerized cheese probably is not satisfying to those who love cheese. But I am not one of those who love cheese, so this mild and adulterated product tastes good to me.

My wife arrived home. I threw Beatrice's toy. She had a great time. I am watching the second Harry Potter movie.

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debates and 23

Wednesday I got the news that something I had believed was solved for 701 reasons remained unsolved. I compiled some information that I needed to compile, and felt good about that.  I walked tonight on the Chisholm Trail and saw 11 species of birds.

I watched 10 Democratic candidates in their first debate last night . I am watching 10 more tonight. I am undecided as to which Democratic candidate I will support.

My niece turned 23 today. She is a good person. I ate a hot dog and two bananas for lunch. I watched part of the movie "To Hell and Back".  Near dawn I watched a Bette Davis movie in which she played a vain beauty.

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Saoirse can act

Wednesday I wanted to stop by the Church's chicken in Garland for lunch. When I arrived, the door was barricaded open and the workers were sitting inside in relative heat (though, thankfully, not quite seasonal Texas heat).

Thursday I attended the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program free legal clinic. I  enjoy meeting with people and talking about their issues. This particular clinic lasted a bit long, and did not end until 9:30 p.m. or so.

Friday eveing I walked in Allen Station Park. Saturday morning I walked in Limestone Quarry Park in Frisco. I heard a familiar birdsong. I followed it t o find a lovely male Painted Bunting, which was my first sighting of this bird species this year.  My Collin County bird species count hit 96.

Saturday evening we rented the movie "Brooklyn" with Saoirse Ronan. We really enjoyed this film. It had a good take on small town life and on the immigrant experience. I liked the performances of just about every member of the cast.

Sunday was the farewell sermon for our pastor, Todd Harris, who left our church to become a district superintendent in Wichita Falls. He gave a good sermon. It must be interesting to switch places after 13 years.  I made progress on the Eleanor Anstruther novel, "A Perfect Explanation", as to which I had paused in my reading for 6 weeks,though it's quite a good read. I puzzle on how my pace of reading novels ebbs and flows.

Sunday evening I upgraded my desktop from Peppermint OS 5 to PeppermintOS 10. This went smoothly. So far the most tense moment--the effort to make my older Windows software work with WINE--has proven less tense.

Monday I got some invoices paid.

Tuesday I went for a walk in Suncreek Park and Connemara Meadow. An Indigo Bunting sang atop a tree in Connemara Meadow

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installs and circuit riders

I got up early on Saturday morning and walked in Shawnee Park in Plano. At Weight Watchers later Sunday morning, I was down a bit under a pound. I've been under 200 pounds since 2016, a loss of 98 pounds or so from my highest weight in 2005. I just treat Weight Watchers as an analog of a twelve-step program, which mental fiction appears to let me avoid relapse.

After Weight Watchers,  I walked on the Watters Creek Trail in Allen. Then I went to church.

Sunday the Reverend Abe Smith, associate pastor at First Methodist of Allen, gave his farewell sermon. He is being transferred one town over. In general, I like the way Methodist churches re-assign pastors often, though in some areas that can be a bit hard on the families. In the small towns of Arkansas, one could watch the perigee and apogee of a minister as he kept being assigned to churches in larger towns, and then, once he had peaked, spending the last part of his career being assigned to smaller churches. Things seem to be a bit different now. For one thing, the minister is not always a "he". Further, it seems to me that preachers move about a bit less than they did in my childhood. This is probably better for families. Our church is going to have women in the roles of senior minister, associate minister, and congregational relationships minister. That is a good thing.

I like Reverend Abe, who, like me, was raised in Arkansas. At his new church, he will lead the informal services with contemporary music.. Though I sometimes denigrate this type of low church service (in a middling-to-low church denomination) as pop-song services. But I wish Abe well with it.

I have been a surprised that our denomination did not split into two denominations yet. Schism looks inevitable after the unfortunate vote to "double down" on same-sex discrimination. So far I have not switched denominations, though  I did up my sometime attendance at the local Unitarian Universalist Church. We'll see how things go, and then I'll make decisions accordingly. 

After lunch, I walked in Allen Station Park. I planned to walk more that day, but a huge storm hit our neighborhood. A neighbor's Bradford Pear tree broke, as that species is wont to do.

At home, I keep one older-model desktop, an M58, as my "main" desktop. It's one I got years ago refurbished, which has lasted well.  Its CPU, a Core 2 Duo, still works surprisingly well.  I run PeppermintOS on that one, a derivative of Ubuntu, only lighter. I lean towards lightweight desktops like Peppermint's ever since Toluene on LiveJournal suggested I add pep to a very old eBay laptop by using LXDE desktop environment.  I used to be a bit bad with my home Windows computers and icons. I would allow my screen to be mobbed in rows and rows of poorly-arranged icons. Now I tend to turn off icons from being visible. I need to upgrade to Peppermint 10, as Peppermint 5 is at end-of-life.

Downstairs, I keep another somewhat older laptop on a TV tray by a brown La Z Boy easy chair. This one, an HP 8440p, runs an early Intel i5 system. It's been a good computer, though its older SSD drive failed after a few years, and I had to replace it.  It's run very well since then. I run on it Q4OS, a system which relies on the Debian Stable release. I like Q4OS because it uses the Trinity desktop, which is "old-fashioned".  It has a "start" button in bottom left corner. I set its style on Platinum, which I believe was a part of KDE 3.5, upon which the Q4OS Trinity desktop is based.

When I travel for work, I take with me another used laptop I got for very little on eBay (if one added all my laptops together, one would have enough laptop value to buyer a single business laptop). This is the laptop whose hard drive managed to fail at the Texas Linux Fest, just when I wanted, ironically, to take notes on a good talk on how to make laptops more efficient (or, before that, about cool children's game software).

Monday morning the radio told me that a 22-year-old disturbed anti-government terrorist in body armor starting shooting at the local federal courthouse.  He did not hit anyone. The police and FBI 
shot him. Once upon a time, courthouse shootings were usually about angry men shooting at divorcing spouses or their attorneys.  Downtown Dallas' recent shootings featured an anti-police man shooting police, and an anti-government man shooting at a federal courthouse. It's all ridiculous shootings, and that's before we talk about shootings like the 20-year-old killed for little or no reason in tonight's news. It's a problem.

I had hoped to install a new hard drive last weekend, only to find that I needed a 1.8" drive rather than a 2.5" hard drive. I got one the right part on eBay, though the form factor limited my selection a bit.  Monday night I installed it. At first, I thought it would prove difficult, but I made it work.  Then I installed Q4OS once more on that system. Now I am ready to travel for work again.

Today at Noon I walked in Muddy Creek Preserve in Wylie. I liked the checkerspot butterfly. After work, I ate three soft tacos.

I am not making much progress on the book I am reading. I am a bit sporadic about novels these days. I have been on this novel for weeks. It is well-written, but no likable characters. I like to like at least one character.

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big budget films and shorter walk dogs

Friday I got up early for a call. Friday evening I walked in Oak Point Park. I saw my first Orchard Oriole of the year. Saturday morning I took Beatrice for a walk. She detoured by the elementary school, which is the Beatrice universal language that she wanted to take a shorter walk.

Saturday afternoon I walked in Suncreek Park and in Bethany Lakes Park in Allen. I got some interesting news which I shared with my siblings. Saturday evening my wife and I ate at Fish City Grill. I had the ruby red grilled trout and broccoli.  The best photo of a bird I got was a Carolina Chickadee, while the best one from Bethany Lakes Park was some immature Green Herons.

Saturday evening we went to the moviehouse to see "Avengers: Endgame". I liked the movie. It was a bit of a spectacle, though.

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happy lemons

Friday I walked in Crowley Park in Richardson at day's end.  I saw my first Eastern Pewee of the year. Saturday morning the weather cooled enough that I could take Beatrice for  a walk. Then I worked on some family business matters, and made a run to the post office. I walked in Story Park in Allen. I had hoped that its butterfly garden might be in bloom, but the park has not set up that garden this year yet.

I sat down to install a new hard drive on my travel laptop,. But I learned that rather than a 2.5" hard drive, it requires a 1.8" hard drive. So I ordered one of those on eBay. That drive arrived in yesterday's mail, so I can put it on later this week. 

Saturday night we ate at San Miguel in McKinney. We each had chicken enchiladas verde. The man who owns that place always is friendly when we go there. We learned recently that Holy Frijoles, a small local place, has closed again, apparently for good.

Sunday my wife went to a concert down in Dallas of a friend's choir. A huge storm blew up, though, and the power was knocked out in in that part of Dallas. In our neighborhood, the storm brought sheet rain and high winds. Our neighbor lost part of her Bradford Pear tree to the storm. Neil Sperry, the Texas Gardener, always looks down, a bit, on Bradford Pears during his radio show as being subject to this type of thing.

Sunday I re-installed an operating system in an old laptop I have. I put on Q4OS , the Debian Stable derivative that has become one of my favorite two distributions, the other being PeppermintOS. . We have a vacation planned next month. I may use this laptop on that vacation, as I must use a non-US plug, and it seems a little safer to use a laptop that is not my main laptop. I must first see how much battery life I get, though.

Monday night I was walking in our local Glendover Park when I met one of our neighbors. He name is Delib. He is a retired engineer in his 80s. We walked around the park a time or two, chatting. 

Tuesday morning I saw our neighborhood Cooper's Hawk, who is overall a small hawk but gets a bit bigger every time I see her. She had an aerial escort of two angry Scissortail Flycatchers who encouraged her non-gently to leave the neighborhood.

Tuesday evening I took Beatrice for a walk. We ran into Jack and Lemon. Lemon is one of the smallest hounds I have ever known, and certaintly the happiest. He greeted Beatrice, who did not object. Jack, who is in the real estate business as, I believe, a second career in the airline industry,, told me about a trip he is going to take. He is going to the Dominican Republic.  Lately news stories feature stories of American tourists dying while visiting that country. The cause of these deaths is undetermined as yet, though the news hints it may be a result or poison or disease in the mini-bar drinks section in hotel rooms. Jack assured me that he will not be touching the mini-bar.

I made a really impressive to-do list on Monday. Now I want to do it.

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