Friday, April 30, 2010

Bird: brown thrasher

Saw a weird pale brown bird in the yard today, aggressively throwing leaves around. He had a longish, slightly curved bill.

I think it was a brown thrush.

Img from wikipedia.

Monday, April 26, 2010

USPS animal rescue stamps

Got a heads up about some new stamps:

Starting April 30th you can buy stamps at the post office that help to
buy food for shelter pets. You can pre-order them online. I think this
would be a great thing to spread around. Could you please forward to
your contacts?
The way I do the math it appears that there is no additional cost for the stamps, but Ellen DeGeneres' Halo will donate funds for each sale. So maybe you want to do it to feed sheltered animals, or maybe you want to do it so it hits Ellen in the pocketbook. Either way, it seems to be a win for the animals.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Review: aldi's

I went to the grand opening on monday but we couldn't buy anything then. Slagel, Townshend, and a couple other local bigwigs were there IIRC.

Went back today to spend some of the household grocery budget. Bought a few things (maria cookies, some of those little faux filet mignon, some tp, etc, but the place was so hammered with people blocking the aisles that it wasn't much fun. Aldi's really needs those small carts like Central Market.

Staff was pleasant and some of the prices were sub-walmart aggressive. The rest were roughly on par with WM. I think I would like to have an Aldi's within walking distance.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Review: Orville Redenbacher cheddar cheese popcorn

Yesterday I received in the mail a sample of Orville Redenbacher cheddar cheese microwave popcorn.

I test drove it last night while watching the dvd of Up in the Air from the RPL.

My experience: the smell is odd and a bit offputting. The flavor is ok, no problems there. The cheesey oil drips all over and leaves orange blotches all over.

Verdict: I'd eat it again if someone else popped it, but I don't want to clean up after it. I do not I think I would buy it.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Payoff: Seeds for Summit

Sat up a card table on Sat morning and gave away the seedlings I raised for this purpose.

Didn't get them all given away, but I did meet five neighbors. That's the real payoff.

Bonus: washed the dog in the front yard. Why do some dogs hate baths during the event but are so happy afterward? Gallop, gallop, gallop...


Just heard the rumbling of Texas Stadium imploding two cities away. Sounded like deep thunder rolls.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Denouncement. Subset == concealed carry permit holder

As a Tx concealed handgun license holder, I denounce Charles Alan Wilson, the licensee who made violent threats against Sen. Murray.

First: license holders have a higher standard to uphold. His belligerent and illegal behavior reflects poorly on the rest of us license holders.

Second: I have preached here again and again about civility over belligerence. This current mood of threat and FUD is counterproductive and unethical.

Jury duty, lawn duty

Got my first Richardson juror notice, and dutifully motored up there. 8 cases did not go to trial, and the other was a no-show. So we were immediately released.

Went back home and did some lawn work:
  • adjusted the reel mower
  • mowed the lawn
  • trimmed with trimmer.
  • raked up leaves from street; put in compost bin
  • raked up that tree snot stuff that looks like sphagnum moss, put in compost bin
That's all. Gonna take a shower now.

Doctorow: "Why I won't buy an iPad (and think you shouldn't, either)"

From this article:

The model of interaction with the iPad is to be a "consumer," what William Gibson memorably described as "something the size of a baby hippo, the color of a week-old boiled potato, that lives by itself, in the dark, in a double-wide on the outskirts of Topeka. It's covered with eyes and it sweats constantly. The sweat runs into those eyes and makes them sting. It has no mouth... no genitals, and can only express its mute extremes of murderous rage and infantile desire by changing the channels on a universal remote."

Monday, April 5, 2010

sudden acceleration agnosticism

These incidents were highly correlated with three things: being elderly, being short, and parking (or leaving a parking space). The elderly are more prone to the sort of neuronal misfiring described in yesterday's New York Times. Shorter people have to hunt more for the pedals. And starting up from a complete stop is the most likely time to press the wrong pedal.

More here.


As Theodore Frank at the Washington Examiner points out, here are the reported ages of all 24 of the fatal Toyota (TM) cases:

60, 61, 63, 66, 68, 71, 72, 72, 77, 79, 83, 85, 89

More here.

A couple of weeks ago an elderly woman (at random, one I didn't know) walked up and asked me for help with her cellphone. She was frustrated because it "wasn't working." I had no experience with the phone or any phone like it, but it worked for me the first time when I followed the instructions on the screen.

When I modeled the correct use for her (ie, press the button the screen tells you to) she mashed all the buttons in two rows with the flat of her thumb, repeatedly. I gently pointed this out, described and demonstrated at least one effective method, and she mashed them all again and again.

I am not trying to discriminate against the elderly. I think all drivers, regardless of age, should retake the driving test every 5 yrs or so. Myself included.

I'd still buy an Audi or a Toyota. If I were in any shape to do so I'd buy someone's firesale Toyota today.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

War of the Smartphones

I've got three of the main types of smartphones here on my desk. They are all older but are good representations of type.

SDA (HTC Tornado) - Windows Mobile smartphone. No KB. Wifi/BT.
MDA (HTC Wizard) - Windows Mobile PocketPC. Slide-out KB, Wifi/BT
Palm Treo 600 - chiclet KB, no connectivity other than phone data (gprs or whatever)
You will notice I did not include whatever sparkly fashion device Apple is pushing this year.

MS wins.


MS wins. MS phones dominate on connectivity.

Palm, absolutely. It's a primitive UI but is immediately usable and understandable.

Palm syncs to everything; windoze, linux, bsd, unix, a toaster, a clump of dirt.
MS might sync to one workstation if you have good karma. It's a train wreck. Much easier to sync over wifi than over the supplied cable, believe it or not.

Palm wins kerbillion to one. PalmOS software is falling from the skies like manna, and most is free. Take your pick. Go crazy.
MS software is hard to find and is usually $$$. I have found exactly two useful free MS apps: the freeware version of btaudio and TCPMP.

So what do I use? I go back and forth. I get about 6mos out of each one before I get cheesed off and rotate. Right now I'm running the ancient Palm and loving it. Too bad Palm is corportately suicidal.

iPad purchase flow chart

See this flow chart to help make the decision.

Churchmouse indicator: magazine subscriptions

Victims of the the macro (and my micro) downturn -- magazine subscriptions not renewed:

The Week - spectacularly good meta-magazine.
Cycle World
Motor Cycle News
Brew Your Own
and another one I can't remember right now. Got them all on cheap eBay subs a few years back. Most were $5-7/yr.

The Richardson library has mags for 25c each, and I've been picking some up that way. I particularly like the Economist when I can get them that way. Mags were 10c at the RPL a couple of years ago.

Friday, April 2, 2010

April is Adopt a Greyhound month

More info here.

Due to a lagging economy, competition from casinos and in some states, legislation banning racing, Greyhound racing tracks are closing across the country, leaving thousands of racing greyhounds displaced.

You can see a list of adoptable dogs, or throw a few dollars to dogs that are currently in rehab for racing injuries. The pic is of Plaza, who busted his leg on the track. He'll heal but will need a home for his retirement.

These really are great dogs. I've had dogs since I was born, and this breed is truly something special. And they need help from the humans that raced them for fun and profit.

Denouncement. Subset == substitute teachers

I've been thinking about something for a while. In the wake of terrorism by Muslim extremists (9/11 foremost) I and others encouraged mainstream Muslims to denounce the actions of the nutjob extremists.

I still hold this position. And I need to lead by example here, rather than asking someone else to do something I wouldn't do. So here goes.

I am currently a substitute teacher. So was this miscreant. Because we have the same job I will publically denounce his inappropriate action[s]. I won't dwell on the ethical or moral problems with his behaviour, since those are well-understood by most folks.

I will take a moment to point out that from a teaching point of view inappropriate relationships are destructive and counterproductive to the task at hand. Teaching is to no small degree a function of trust, a willingness to follow an adult's interpersonal and academic leadership. A kid needs to believe that s/he can take appropriate academic risk and the teacher will be there as a safety net and a guide. Anything that compromises that healthy teacher-student relationship is Bad.

Teachers, keep your relationships with the students professional and appropriate. School is for teaching, not for dating.