Sunday, November 29, 2015

Busy Post-Turkey Day Sunday

When Steve sets the TV / DVR to watch/record not one but two football games, it's time to move off the chair, quit trying to read, and find find something to actually do. You might think the Cardinals would be one of the teams he follows, but after three winters down here, they've not even crossed his horizon yet. His teams are the Vikings - when he can stand to watch, and this year is OK so far for them - and the Broncos, unqualified. Occasionally he'll watch the Packers in hopes that they'll be humiliated.

Oh, disappointment.

But holiday gifting nears, and following my tradition of making gifts whenever possible, there is much still to do. Yesterday I tried a couple of ideas in the "how to" category. This follows months of work, parts hunting, ordering, and waiting, and anticipation of final products. Tiny details and needing to still develop skills have been holding the projects' completion back. Yesterday's results needed to be evaluated, glue strings removed, one failed project disassembled in favor of Plan B. One fix visited me as I woke from a dream, and it's been adopted now in several cases.

Hey! I can't get much more specific without spoiling surprises, but I'll share the idea with my friends in Lapidary shop. It works.  I'll just say it employs a use of wire rather than glue.

So, much of today was continuing using the new technique with new projects.  That of course meant spending about an hour sorting through supplies, figuring out which are preferred to use with what, what is on hand and what needs to be ordered or designs changed. In the sorting process I also came up with what I think will be an excellent idea for organizing all my supplies so I more quickly know where to look to see what I have.

In no way confuse that with actually doing any of that organizing, of course. Consider, for both needing and putting off the organizing: just the first case weight over 30 pounds. Then there are two more large cases, two sacks full of supplies for works under way or soon to be, but where an actual specific concept is in place, and four boxes of chunks to be sawn into slabs or slabs to be cut and shaped. And let's not forget the stack of rag towels to clean during the various stages and eventually cleaned and returned to use.

So no, semi-controlled chaos still rules. In fact, semi- may be a bit too optimistic.

Once today's projects were done, aka glue drying before absolutely final assembly tomorrow, and plans made for the next round, there was a meal tucked in. 60 degrees was almost warm enough to eat outside, so long as the sun shone on my chair. With both lasting 5 minutes, that worked. In the meantime - my version of multitasking - I noted the hummer feeders needed cleaning and refilling, so on my way inside I also collected both of them. While the new syrup boiled, dishes were done, including those from Turkey Day.

Yes, we had dishes from Turkey Day. Of course we went to celebrate with friends. But this required bringing a dish to share, one of my few excuses to actually cook each year. There were the remains of last Sunday's turkey carcass in the fridge. Even when we eat elsewhere, we both love our own turkey, fresh as well as leftovers for the next week plus. Thus, dishes.

Add all the little usual tasks of feeding and watering dogs, picking up the biggest, most visible Fred fur bunnies du jour, thinking about doing laundry, counting carbs, thinking about when new plantings need watering next, watching the hummers fight over feeders including the one that tried to dive bomb me - such timing! - as I was hanging the newly filled one up for it, thinking about.... Well, you get the drift.

The first football game is over and the next doesn't start for a bit, so I'm using the break for blogging and reading. I'm halfway through the third book in a series, wondering how they are going to all get out of this particular predicament. It won't happen before the next game starts, but I plan to see how far I can get.

Later, all.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Not Exactly A Hummer

The flowers are mostly done from summer and early fall blooms, so now the hummingbird feeders are up. One hangs in front, visible out the living room picture window from where we sit. One sways in back. positioned along the many hook options under the patio roof where, again, it is visible from the living room chairs.  Judging from the noises they make, and the bird guide book descriptions, they are most likely Costas that grace our yard and enjoy our hospitality.

I could be wrong, of course. Last year I was convinced for the first part of the season that they were Lucifers. But those are not noisy, at least according to the books I have. In addition, Costas are supposed to be rare. So someday I may change my mind again about the identity of our visitors. The only thing I am positive about are which are male and which female. And that each feeder has a  fiercely territorial visitor.

At lease, insofar as what other hummers are welcomed to approach, meaning none except when young are being raised and can first fly. But there are other visitors. Both feeders have perches, meant for the hummers to rest while feeding rather than having to hover. Other birds try to take advantage.

We occasionally see finches, or something similar in size. The shape of finches' beaks makes me sceptical of their ability to garner a sip.  Occasionally we see what may be a catbird having a go. Again, I'd have to consult the local guides to be sure of which birds of similar size and coloration are possibilities. The only year-round local birds I'm sure I can identify are roadrunners and gambels quail. Cardinals tint orange down here, and Canadian geese fly overhead to the local grass supply (fore!) with their unmistakable honking, but they are seasonal. I'm positive which birds are hummers, but not what species unless it's a rufus or broadbilled. All the others fall into the category of pink throat, purple throat, or female. That covers a lot of species.

But there is one frequent visitor that is unmistakable, somehow managing to get enough of a reward from the feeder to ensure its frequent returns: a flicker. The feeder tilts precariously, sways wildly when it leaves, but it keeps coming back, several times daily that we notice. After all, who has the whole day to watch a feeder?

Since the syrup level doesn't drop precipitously, I don't mind its visits. There is still plenty left for its hummingbird "owner". And at least it's not apparently drumming major holes in the trees or testing out the house for its habitat. We got enough of that back in Minnesota, including one pileated who thought our screen house was his perfect sounding board. Shoo!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

72 Virgins?

It's been a few days since the Paris attacks, with much still unknown. So this is not a definitive commentary. It's more stray thoughts.

To all you terrorists and wannabes out there, extremists everywhere who think there will be afterlife rewards for spreading earthly hate and terror: I cannot comprehend a philosophy/religion that teaches such. Oh yes, I can put the words together and get the concept. But as Heinlein would say, I just can't grok it. How disaffected must one be, how angry, how self-entitled, how insane, and how evil must one be to consider the concept, much less spread it?

Steve showed me a posting on Facebook with a pair of soldiers, captioned (I don't pretend my memory yields a direct quote) "72 virgins? Let's go get these guys laid!" That sentiment, the retaliatory rage, I grok. I merely hope it is properly channeled, narrowly aimed at the terrorists and not at just any "other" that may be deemed similar and therefore, with most of the perpetrators already dead from their actions and immune from us, suitable targets to vent our fear and frustration on. Let's not turn ourselves into them. And let's not escalate their justifications for their rage, for recruiting more to their philosophy by our own bad actions in the face of theirs.

At lease one of the terrorists is believed to have entered France as a Syrian refugee. My immediate reaction to that news is fear that most of the world would now react by closing borders to the masses of real refugees, people genuinely without options for survival beyond fleeing the horrors of home. Being a refugee is so awful and risky, imagine how much worse it  must be to remain behind with absolutely no hope. Let's please not react that way. Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses... without the religious tests that Jeb! would have us institute: Christians, fine. All others, not so much. Because no Christian has ever been violent, crazy, evil.... Right? Not during the crusades. Not during WWII. Not in Ireland. Not at the Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Not at Waco. Not in any of the militia groups springing up. Not in street gangs or prisons. Not in domestic disputes anywhere. Not a one.

Nor have any Jews, Buddhists, Taoists, Hindus, Humanists, Atheists. Never. Nuh-uh. No sirree. And no religion ever has spawned extremists of any kind. Nope. Never happens. So let's not isolate Muslims for retaliation under the illusion that we are doing something to make the world our better, safer place. Let's properly target the individuals responsible, understanding that they are  indeed individuals and not typical representatives of whatever their religion may be.

And let's understand that there is no safe place, no guarantee in this world. Nor can we make it a safe place. We can only make it a more loving place, and that is on each individual one of us, not our group, not our government, not our military. Just each of us, alone.

And as for your 72 virgins, you martyred, vicious, violent extremists, may they all be old, ugly, crabby, insane and diseased!

Monday, November 2, 2015

And The Ground Shooketh

Earthquake! Three, actually! OMG!

Down here, everybody is going bonkers over them. I expect Californians and Alaskans who hear about it - should it even make their news - are more or less politely covering their yawns and hiding their snickering. After all, the magnitudes were in the 3.2 to the low 4 point almost nothing range. They occurred a bit north of The Valley, up by Black Canyon City. A few doors rattled. A few people were awakened and got out of their beds, wandering outside to confer with other befuddled neighbors as to what had just happened. (One popular explanation at the time was The Big One had hit California and we were feeling it this far away.)

More than one person reported grabbing their gun and racing downstairs to see who was trying to break into their house. I dunno: can you shoot an earthquake? Is a gun their solution for everything?

Steve and I were still awake for the first one. It passed by unnoticed. No wobble. No rattle. No doggy meltdowns.We apparently slept through the next two, though Ellie did go a little bonkers at about the right time. But then that could have been due to a passing truck, a coyote howling in the distance beyond our hearing capacity, or sheer boredom that there was nobody to give her attention.

I find I am disappointed. Not that it wasn't any bigger or that it did no damage. No, nobody wants that sort of thing. I just feel like I missed out on having felt something that everybody else is talking about this morning.

Maybe next time.

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While we're on the subject of earthquakes, I have a hypothesis that I can't get anyone serious to pay attention to. I believe we will find a correlation in the coming decades between global warming and increasing frequency of earthquakes.

Here's my reasoning. There is a huge amount of water still trapped in glaciers at the poles. It's heavy (duh!), pressing down on whatever tectonic plate it happens to be over. Once they all melt, scientists estimate a rise in sea level over the planet of up to 3 meters!

Yikes! That's a series of disasters in itself, topic for another time. Think dislocations of populations, wars over territory, destruction of coastline buildings especially in major cities, storm damage, disruptions in agriculture. All at once.

I'm just looking at a shift of the distribution of weight over the planet's surface. The poles will rebound, to whatever degree, and the ocean areas will be pressed downward. It may not be much of a difference in the grand scheme of things. But it will be there. I happen to think it logical that earthquakes will increase as the planet adjusts.