Saturday morning I left my house at 8:05 a.m. The overcast sky and mild weather promised rain. I set out on a carefully-planned course. First I crossed Alma Road and got on the Watters Creek Trail, a sidewalk path by a small creek. During this part of the trip, I saw lots of different kinds of birds. A small northern mockingbird landed near eye-level. I snapped its picture:
I kept on walking down Watters Creek Trail until I reached the DaySpring Nature Preserve. This preserve fits on a few acres. Saturday the preserve proved to be filled with the song of northern cardinals. I stood and watched this cardinal sing:
I then walked down a suburban street towards my next park destination. A nice woman walked up with her dog. "Are you bird watching?", she said, seeing my binoculars and camera. I said "Yes." She told me how a few days ago, she saw dozens of male and female cardinals flying in mid-air, just above her house. She made a swirling pattern with her hands. I said "beautiful". I resisted the urge to expound upon feeding flocks or to regale her with my own stories of bluebirds seen.
I reached down and petted her dog, which, in my memory was an Irish setter. I told her that her dog was handsome. She said her dog was female, as if that should have changed my descriptor. I do not think of handsome as a gender-dependent compliment, and particularly not as applied to dogs. I did not share this opinion with this kind person or her dog, though. We bid each other a good day, and went onward our separate ways.
I arrived at Green Park, just west of Alma Drive, in a matter of minutes. This small park usually has house finches, blue jays, and northern mockingbirds. The park is next to a small fire station. As I approached the park, I saw a fireman behind the station, spray-painting some bit of fire gear (it looks vaguely like a wire storage shelf). I waved hello, and he stood and exchanged back a wordless "hello" wave.
My camera advised me it was nearly out of battery, but in point of fact, it lasted the whole hike. During this particular walk, I wanted to keep a log of my bird count to post on eBird. I did not bring with me, though, the little stenographic-pad and pen I would usually use. I thought to myself that I should figure out which phone application has such a pad, or that I should write one. I used the mildly odd but very workable device of sending myself an e-mail each time I finished with a section of my walk.
I next walked to Glendover Park, which is less than a mile's walk from my home. It is the park in "our" suburban neighborhood. The ducks were out in force, including three lesser scaup. I usually see less of the lesser scaup. I kept walking and kept counting.
Soon I arrived home. I went onto flickr.com and processed my pictures. Due to the overcast day, only eight or ten of dozens of images were keepers. I was still well-content. I count it as a good photo day if two images are keepers.
I also set up a document in leafpad, and compiled my bird count results from the 6 e-mails I sent to myself. I posted this result on www.eBird.com:
"Allen, Collin, US-TX
Mar 8, 2014 8:05 AM - 10:15 AM
Comments: 1505 Landsford Drive, west to Watters Creek Trail, south to
Dayspring Nature Preserve, east to Green Park, north to Glendover Park, and then
home to 1505 Landsford Drive.
Canada Goose 2
Lesser Scaup 3
Ring-billed Gull 1
Mourning Dove 21
Blue Jay 16
American Crow 8
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1
American Robin 3
Northern Mockingbird 8
European Starling 13
Cedar Waxwing 41
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1
Dark-eyed Junco 7
Northern Cardinal 12
Common Grackle 20
House Finch 6
House Sparrow 1"
During Saturday morning, I also made more progress at Codeacademy.com. I am now 20% through with the modules on the Python programming language. I like the way that the learning mechanism is a bit game-like. A short lesson appears, with a little program to write. If one writes the wrong thing, the system gently tells one it is wrong. One tries again, until the system tells one that one is right. The system tracks completion percentage and also awards little badges for completion of tasks.
Right now I am stuck on one problem about using the instruction Not and parentheticals. I do not believe that my problem is truly syntax, as the system declares, but logic. I am concerned my boolean logic is non-boolean. I will tackle this further today.
I headed out to get lunch, but turned around. The promised rain seemed about to begin. I had promised myself I would take Beatrice for a walk. I grabbed her harness, put it on her, and we went over to Glendover Park. She moved quickly in the chilly, sprinkly weather. She loved her walk.
I went to lunch at Whichwhich sandwiches. Then I headed to Radio Shack to get some batteries and an SD card. The nice fellow behind the counter assembled me a set of batteries to help me take advantage of a sales price, even though they did not have the right packages for me to easily get the right items to get the benefit of a two for one sale. I like Radio Shack. I was sorry to read that they are having such financial difficulties that the chain will close 1/5 of its stores.
I think its problem is less on-line competition with its bricks and mortars than a lack of a sufficiently deep on-line presence of gadgets and computers. I would like to see it return to being more a maker and hobbyist store and less a would-be cell phone seller.
I looked longingly at the 199 dollar 320 GB sale laptop, which would be ideal as a Linux machine. But I am not ready for a new laptop yet, despite the bargain price and good reviews.
When I pulled into my next stop, I realized that the nice store clerk forgot to put my SD card in my bag. I drove back to Radio Shack, where he had it waiting for me on the counter.
I then drove back to partake in the main event of the afternoon. I went to Federal Express business in Allen. I took with me a plastic box filled with documents. I had to sort them into categories, place each category in an envelope, and prepare them to send them to an accountant in the small town where I grew up. This process took a couple of hours. When I had completed the sorting, I sat down on my little laptop and created a cover letter.
I tried to plug into Federal Express Business's print-out service. Though I got the Windows program working in WINE,the system did not recognize my ethernet card. I instead created a document using Abiword, save it into Word, and then tried to print from a USB. This did not work, either, but saving it as a .jpeg did.
The store staff proved very helpful, as when I accidentally left a credit card in the copy machine and they retrieved it for safety. I had them federal express the documents off in a box that said "medium" but seemed to me "small". Then I headed home, filled with a sense of achievement.
My wife and I decided to get dinner and see a movie. We went to Umeko, where my wife had moo goo gai pan and I had a selection of sushi rolls. It was very good. The weather had turned cold and a little rainy outside. It was good to be in a warm restaurant, enjoying our evening.
We then drove down to Plano to the "dollar" theater. We went to see "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug". I enjoyed this very much.
I had enjoyed but fumed a bit at the first movie because the great visuals and characters seemed sullied by all the changes from the book and because the tone was much heavier and "Lord of the Rings" in nature than a movie of "The Hobbit" should be. But the second movie in the series seemed much more fun to me. It worked much more as a popcorn movie. I prefer a Merchant and Ivory literal rendition of a book on film (and see the later Harry Potter movies as the only right way to deviate). Yet the second hobbit film, with its wholesale deviations from the book, seemed to me right on the mark. My wife liked the movie less well, finding it too filled with fighting and insufficiently filled with elves. We drove home through light traffic, and called it a night.