woo hoo, it's Saturday!

It has been quite a while since I was surprised by a Saturday.

Saturday is not a weekend day for me, strictly speaking, because I work from Wednesday to Sunday, but I like the Saturday lineup on my local public radio stations.

I listen to WCQS out of Asheville, North Carolina on a small clock radio in the kitchen from the time I get home until noon. Then I go to the living room and turn on that room's radio, which is tuned to WEPR out of Greenville, South Carolina. WEPR plays Whad'ya Know with Michael Feldman from noon until 1 PM, which is when I turn that radio back off and go turn the kitchen radio back on to continue with WQCS's programming.

Fortunately for me, my house is very small and both radios can be heard easily from anywhere in the house.

The reason I have radios in different rooms tuned to different stations is, WCQS only comes in clearly if the radio is in the kitchen. WEPR only comes in clearly if the radio is in the living room. Rather than unplugging the radio from the wall every time I want to switch stations, I just use two radios.

Now I have a headache and need to stop looking at a computer screen. Time to take Rocko out for a bit and then I'll take a nap. Only two more nights until my weekend!


150 years ago this morning: Abraham Lincoln died of his wounds

John Wilkes Booth shot the President in the head on the night of 14 April 1865 at Ford's Theater in Washington, DC.

Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln were at the theater to see the English play, "Our American Cousin", which centers around an English family visited by a long-lost American cousin. Culture clash and hilarity ensue!

John Wilkes Booth was an actor and knew when, in the course of the production, the biggest laugh would come from the audience. He planned to use that commotion to mask his derringer's report.

I commemorate the death of a great President, Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of these United States of America, and cannot help but wonder how the South's fortunes might have been different had he lived out his second term as President.

Surely the racism would still have been there, it remains today; the KKK would have risen just as it did, founded by former Confederate officers. Jim Crow and lynchings still would have occurred during the early 20th century.

But I like to think that things would have been a bit better had Lincoln survived. Andrew Johnson, the drunken buffoon, made things worse in the short term.



This video shows flies getting zapped by bug zappers, in slow motion.

I'd like to see a video of a bug zapper at night.

Thirty-some years ago, my folks had a bug zapper. At that time we lived in a low, wet area with swampy woods just outside the yard. There was a slow-moving creek in the woods that fed a pond. In other words, we lived in a mosquito's paradise. Much of the county was likewise wet and buggy. In the end, my dad deduced correctly that the UV light was bringing in more mosquitoes and other inspects than we would already have had (which was more than plenty, thank you very much).

Many times, in many places, I have heard people complain about how bad the mosquitoes are wherever we may be, and of course they tout how large their mosquitoes are, but a few years in Gananda, NY gives you perspective. I've never experienced such dense swarms of such large mosquitoes anywhere else that I've lived. I know that they are worse in Canada. Cold-climate skeeters have a short season to work with so they have to be big and bad.

Fortunately we did not have black flies in Gananda because there was no water around that moved quickly enough to support their larval and pupal stages. I've been fortunate, so far in my life, in that I have never lived where black flies were noticeably present.

In other news, I fixed and renamed the link for NOAA's space weather website on the sidebar to the right of this page.

Radio reception at my house, and even in my car, has been exceptionally poor for the last few days. So much so that I just shut the radio off and listen to podcasts. About a half-hour ago I remembered that I had a space weather link and fired up my web browser. There was no link saved in my browser but I knew that I had put a link to it on the Council of Lemurs sidebar.

Alas, a 404 error was the response to my click, though it was a custom one with an explanation that the website had been rejiggered (sorry about the technobabble). I found the correct link using Google and fixed the sidebar.


150 years - the Union is preserved!

Today is the 150th anniversary of General Robert E. Lee's surrender to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia.

Once Lee had surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia, most of the other Confederate commanders across the South did the same without much delay.

The Union was preserved, slavery was abolished, and that is as it should be. The aftermath, well, that ended up in the hands of Andrew Johnson and it did not go as well as it should have, but the Union survived and slavery did not return.

Anybody who tells you that slavery was not a significant reason for the South's secession should read the Articles of Secession for each of the several Confederate states. They all make slavery a primary cause for secession.

at this moment, 150 years ago today

General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia was fighting its final battle.


what do I eat?

As little as possible, as rarely as possible.

That was my sister-in-law's question, and my initial answer, last fall. She was trying to decide what to include in my Christmas food drop.

Today I made a little list.

The things I can be counted on to prepare and eat most of the time: Eggs, dairy, wheat bread, bagels, sausage, peanut butter, jelly or jam, breakfast cereal, pasta with tomato sauce, nuts, sugar, onions, garlic, tomatoes, mayonnaise, yellow mustard, ketchup, hot sauce.

Things I probably won't prepare and eat, even though I don't object to them: rice, dried beans, canned beans, green beans, peas, corn, mushrooms, pad thai (packaged like pasta, but has the taste and texture of chicken noodle soup noodles; nasty with spaghetti sauce).

Things I won't eat under any circumstances: fish, shellfish (anything that lives underwater, basically), liver, artificial sweeteners in any quantity whatsoever, cilantro (tastes like soap).

I just took an inventory and I have 15 cans of Green Giant corn and 12 of green beans. It's unlikely that I'll eat all of this before it goes out of date; in fact, 7 of the cans of corn went out of date last October so I can't even give them to a food drive.

I also have about 10 lbs. each of rice and flour. I don't bake anymore, ever, so I have little use for the flour. I don't like to cook rice because it always comes out sticky or overly juicy, and it is too bland for my tastes anyway. My "meals" are boring enough already.

I feel bad that so much food is going to waste, but as I said at the top of the page, I eat as little as possible, as rarely as possible. I do not buy fresh fruit or vegetables anymore because they end up rotten and in the compost pile.

Without the assistance of cannabis, I rarely have any appetite at all; this week I might get an appetite on Friday, because it is payday and I'll be able to smoke a bit. Today I ate a cinnamon raisin bagel around noon, though I wasn't really hungry. It had been on the shelf for about a week and I thought it might go moldy if I didn't eat it. Other than that, I've had a cup of coffee and about a half-liter of water, and I'm not hungry at all.


palm sunday

In honor of Palm Sunday, I changed the teabags in my sneakers.

Not really. I changed the teabags and then remembered what day it is.

In case you are wondering, I use teabags to eliminate the stench from my sneakers. The shoes are only a few months old, but my feet stunk them up quickly. Dry tea bags, two or three, in each shoe (when I am not wearing them). I tie the strings together up near the tags so I can handle them as a unit. The tea absorbs the odors and I use the same bags for months at a stretch.


I met a nice lady

After almost two and a half years, I think I'm ready for another relationship.

There is a nice little lady - she makes me feel tall, and I'm only 5'6" - who comes into my store around midnight every other Thursday. That's when her paycheck hits the bank, so she comes into get cash from the ATM and do a little shopping.

The first time I saw her I thought she was simply adorable. Over the months we have chatted at the cash register and she has really grown on me. About 5 years my junior, she works as a med tech in the next county, on the second shift, so we both have odd sleep schedules.

A couple of weeks ago I found her on Facebook and send a friend request, after which I avoided Facebook until she came into the store five days later and told me that she had accepted it. I reacted with surprise and joy; she said, "you didn't see it?" and I responded, "I've been scared to look!" She gave a funny laugh that made me think that she might be interested in me too.

Last week she came in and said that her schedule had changed and she would have the next five days off from work. "Any plans?" I asked, and she said no. "Hit me up on Facebook," she said with a smile as she went out the door.

And so I did.

After a couple of Facebook messages, I gave her my phone number so we could be in better contact.

Yesterday we spent the afternoon together at a park in Waynesville. Her son, in his early 20's I suppose, goes there because there is a skate park next door but she has to drive him. I brought Rocko and we just hung out by the creek and talked until dusk. Rocko was, as usual, the best dog in the world, even with all the people going past on the walking trail with their own dogs.

Annette (my new lady friend) had a leaky tire on her car, which we noticed had lost a lot of air while we were talking. I asked if she had a spare, and she said "I sure hope so!" Her car is a Saturn Vue, and the spare is hidden under a couple of panels in the trunk area. I had to dig out the owner's manual to figure out how to liberate it, but we got it out and I changed her tire.

I have to work a bit to avoid comparing Annette to Lisa, at least in her presence, as a gesture of respect, but I can't help seeing parallels and contrasts.

Lisa and I also met in a park for our first date. Both Lisa and Annette are intelligent women (although I'd be unlikely to be with an unintelligent woman). Lisa was the tallest girl in Haywood County, whereas Annette is one of the shortest.

And now I'm done comparing and contrasting.

I hope that this new relationship goes beyond friendship, but I don't want to be pushy. Speaking of pushy, Rocko is telling me that we need to go outside for a while. Always trust the dog, I say.


happy vernal equinox 2015, y'all

At 6:45 PM EDT today we enter the Spring, or vernal, season.

After a rather cold winter, wherein the ground was frozen unusually late, the daffodils have exploded all at once rather than piecemeal as they tend to do here. The mountainsides are gradually acquiring hints of green.

Rocko and I climbed Sam Knob on Wednesday; it is a fairly easy hike and a good way to start the climbing season. There were a lot of people on the mountain that day, which is why I usually head out a lot earlier than we did that day. "Get out there before it gets hot and before the crowds show up" is my hiking motto.


this is a big year for solar system exploration

We will be visiting our best-known dwarf planets, Ceres and Pluto, for the first time this year. (Ed. note: I believe they prefer to be called "little planets".)

The Dawn spacecraft arrived at Ceres today. You can read more at NASA's Dawn Blog. I've added that blog to my Recommended Reading list (in the right-hand sidebar) so it should bubble back up the list as new entries are posted.


the new Chevrolet ... "Bolt"?

Who gives the final OK for automobile model names?

There is an article at GasBuddy.com about Chevrolet's latest electric car. Most of the comments from readers criticized the car's value and range. I didn't read the article; I couldn't get past the headline: "After the Volt...along comes GM's Bolt"

Technical and bang-for-your-buck shortcomings aside, the first image that comes to mind for me when I see or hear the word "bolt" is, well, a bolt, as in the common threaded fastener by that name.

A big rusty bolt.

That's what came to mind when I saw the title of the article, and I thought, "why, oh why would they give a car a lame name like that? Is the article from the Onion? Is it an SNL skit?"

Of course, I'm sure they probably mean to evoke speed and agility, i.e. the verb "to bolt," but what I get is a sensation of weight and possibly a rusty orange hue.

Maybe I'm in the linguistic minority here, but I rarely hear "bolt" used as a verb. Once in a while. But not often. Once in the past year, to be precise, and I can't tell you when I last heard it prior to that.


it has been an interesting eleven years

On or about this date in 2004, I lost my job at General Dynamics because my attendance problems had gotten out of hand. That, of course, was because I had started drinking again on 03 January 2003 and that had quickly spiraled out of control.

It has been a long, strange and nearly fatal trip from then to now. I won't go through the details here, but this blog's archives go back to November 2002 and I wrote about a lot of it as it happened.

Just yesterday, I was feeling especially grateful. My new Pocket Fisherman™ arrived the day before (thank you, Dad) and I had been tossing the practice plug around the house, which was a lot of fun. As I lay in bed before work, I thought about how much has changed in my life since that day in February eleven years ago.

I don't have a great job, but at least I have a stable job. I live in Paradise, with mountains and rivers and hiking trails and wildlife all around me. I have a good dog, good health and my days are mostly free for enjoying the bounty that surrounds me. I am alone for now, but I had four and a half years with a wonderful and intelligent woman.

Yeah, life is hard, but life is good too.


whad'ya know

An Amazon Kindle showed up in my mailbox today. If there are any Pocket Fishermen flying around out there, I'd take one of those too :)

Well, the Kindle is charging and it's time to put another load of laundry in the dryer. I'll play with my new toy later. Time to take Rocko up to "the top of the road", a.k.a. the Cold Mountain Overlook, where our road crosses the Blue Ridge Parkway. I had a pair of new tires put on yesterday and had an alignment done, so it should be a smooth and sunny drive. The tires have nothing to do with the sunniness, to be sure, but they will make for a nice ride.


this looks like a good book

A Scientist in Wonderland, which is written about at Science-Based Medicine.

I've added it to my Amazon wish list for the day when I can afford it.

I was going to take a good nap after work yesterday morning

But then it started snowing, so I said, "let's go, Rocko, we're going up the mountain."

We climbed as close to the peak of "our" mountain as we could. At the summit there is a stone outcropping, maybe 50 feet high, that could be scaled in dry weather, but it was cold and wet yesterday so we had to be satisfied with our progress and turn back.

Here is a section of the topographical map of the area with a rough estimation of our path to the summit indicated in black. Cruso Road (Route 276) runs through the center of the picture; our house is indicated with an ellipse along the road, and the peak of the mountain is indicated with an ellipse in the upper-left corner.

(Map screencaptured from TopoQuest and annotated by me)
It was an easy enough climb, though quite steep (about 1000 feet vertical, less than a quarter mile horizontal), but there is nothing for Rocko to drink. Last year there was one spring about halfway up that was running well, but last year was a wet one. This year was drier and the spring, while running, had no pools that Rocko could drink from. I hadn't brought water, either, but kept my mouth moist with snow. Fortunately we completed the ascent and descent within about two hours so neither of us was terribly dehydrated afterward.

My new hiking boots did their job well. My feet stayed dry despite the snow and my steps were sure. Or, as sure as they could be with the thick layer of leaves on the steep slopes.



A couple of things I've thought about recently.

It came to me a few minutes ago that Amazon.com is the 21st century version of Sears, Roebuck & Co.'s catalog. I just heard a story on NPR's Marketplace telling how Amazon delivers all kinds of things to remote, roadless places in Alaska where there are no other shopping opportunities. The same type of service was the mainstay of the Sears catalog from the late 19th century well into the 20th.

Something I've been mulling for a while is that the growing fight against ISIS, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and related terrorist organizations is starting to look like another World War.


band names

For some reason "Angela's Merkin" sounds, to me at least, like a really good name for a band.

It came to me out of the blue one day when I was trying to come up with an original-sounding name. The only problem is, I can't help laughing when I try to say it aloud.

What might be better is to spell it "Angela Smirkin" so the fans have an inside joke to share.