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The local news mentioned that the downtown population could double to a million people, from all the people coming here for the total eclipse. And that cell phone service may be affected, due to bandwidth problems from all the extra people. That's something that wouldn't have occurred to me. They advise people to text instead of calling, to save bandwidth.


One thing I'm curious about is whether during totality, it will be dark like during the middle of night, or only somewhat dark like when the sun has just dipped below the horizon at dusk, or if it won't even be as dark as that.

I could look it up. But that would be like watching spoilers :-)

I wonder if the street lights will come on.

I wonder how many people will be driving vehicles during totality. I wonder how many people have to work and won't even have an opportunity to go outside to look. I wonder if store employees will have to stay inside. I wonder if people are going to be shopping instead of watching it. I wonder if employees and even managers are simply going to abandon their posts for a few minutes, in order to experience this once in a lifetime event. I wonder if surgeries and doctor's appointments have been scheduled during totality. I wonder if some people just don't care about it. I wonder if some people think it's too hot to go outside just to look at the sky.

I wonder if it will be raining... :-(
As of now the forecast indicates a clear morning, then partly cloudy til 2pm, then a 50% chance of thunderstorms. Totality here is at 2:42pm.


This morning I looked in the sky and found the moon in the general area I expected it to be. This afternoon during my lunch break, I looked and wasn't able to find it again. I wonder if the sky is just so bright during midday that a crescent moon is very faint and hard to see. Or whether it was hiding behind one of the clouds.


Aaaannnnd I just noticed that I wrote "left to right" a couple times in my prior post, when I meant "right to left". As if it wasn't confusing enough without me flubbing the words too. I fixed it now.


Hah. I found another reason it's good I decided to work from home on Monday. At my home, totality will last 20 seconds longer than it will at my work, because my workplace is further from the center line.
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This morning, I started wondering why the eclipse will be seen on the west coast before it is seen on the east coast.

I know that the earth spins counter-clockwise (towards the east) when looking at it from above the north pole. And that the moon travels around the earth in the same counter-clockwise direction. And that the earth spins relatively faster. It does a complete rotation (360 degrees) in 24 hours, whereas the moon only travels 1/28th of the way around the earth (360 / 28 ~= 13 degrees) during that time.

So how can the moon's shadow travel from west to east? Isn't the earth spinning into the shadow and out of it in a clockwise west to east direction (the same as it always spins), and so the shadow should appear to move from east to west, just like the moon appears to do in the sky?

According to the answer on PhysLink.com, it has something to do with the moon's orbital velocity being greater than the earth's. But according to this orbital velocity formula, it seems that anything closer to the earth (ie. the earth's surface) would have a greater orbital velocity than something further away (ie. the moon). So that answer seems to be wrong or badly worded, maybe. Of course, if we simply consider velocity, the moon does travel a further distance through space than the earth's surface does, in the same amount of time. But what does that have to do with the eclipse? If it were a race, the earth would still win, rotating faster than the moon revolves.

Here's another page (cached, as the original eclipse2017.org page isn't responding - the website must be swamped) that tries to answer the question. Some of the commenters on that page seem to have the same confusion as I do.

Here's another page (Washington Post) that tries to explain it. Again talking about the speed of the moon compared to the earth.

Watching the various NASA visualizations didn't explain it well to me, because of how the videos keep shifting perspectives. Even in this animation, it looks like the sun must be moving from behind the viewer, to make the shadow move like that.

I think I may finally sort of understand it, but my explanation doesn't match any of the answers I read. So it's probably wrong. But... as the moon moves across the sun from right to left (as seen from the earth while facing south), it's shadow as seen from the earth changes direction. First it points towards the west, then straight, then towards the east.
And while the moon itself, from the earth's perspective, doesn't move far in the sky (and due to the earth's rotation, even appears to be going to the west*), it's shadow moves much faster... that must be why the answers keep mentioning the speed of the moon.. they must be trying to say that the speed of the moon's shadow across the face of the earth matches the moon's speed in space. I suppose that is logical, even though it isn't very intuitive to me**.

* But the sun appears to move to the west faster than the moon, so the moon does still cross the sun from right to left, even though they are both moving to the west.

So the moon's shadow moves quickly from the west to the east.

Right? Maybe? Sort of?

** Because the moon doesn't move in a straight line, but rather circles the earth. And those x-thousand miles per hour it moves up in space only correspond to y-hundred miles down on the earth... Oh jeez, now I'll start doubting my above explanation again...

Ok, thinking about it more. The shadow moves west to east like I explained above, because the moon crosses the sun from west to east. The speed of the moon through space around the earth affects the speed of the shadow, but it's not a direct x = y equation. The faster the moon moves across the face of the sun, the faster the shadow sweeps across the land from west to east. Since the shadow is sweeping through an arc (sort of), the far end of the shadow will pass a different distance during that time, depending from how far away you measure it... which for us is based on the distance between the moon and earth. So the speed of the shadow depends on that distance, and on the speed of the moon's revolution, and on the speed of the earth's rotation, and the size of the earth, etc. And it is complicated more because the moon moves in an elliptical orbit, not just straight past the sun, etc.

Now it makes sense to me. If I'm wrong, feel free to tell me which of my logic is wrong.


On a related topic, how long will totality last, across the U.S.? It will start on the west coast around 10:17am (1:17pm eastern time). It will end on the east coast around 2:48pm (eastern time). So for one and a half hours, the shadow will sweep across the country, from coast to coast.

Within that time period, based on the 3 to 4 hour time difference between the coasts, the earth only rotates about half the same distance.

But actually, the earth and the shadow are moving in the same direction... so if the earth weren't turning, the shadow would traverse the distance even faster.

2017/08/16 Corrected some words above. I was mixing up the words "right" and "left", even though I was visualizing it correctly. I'm used to thinking of the west coast as on the left side and the east coast on the right side. For the above, my perspective is from the center of the county looking south. So the west coast is on the right, not the left.
Although since the sun will be pretty high overhead during the eclipse, "left" and "right" aren't good words to use to begin with.
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I bought some eclipse sunglasses on Tuesday. Seems like I did it in the nick of time, as they are becoming scarce around here. I got some cheap cardboard ones, and some slightly less cheap 2x magnification cardboard ones (I ordered the latter from Best Buy in the morning, and picked them up after work. When I checked the website in the evening again, they were sold out.) The glasses are neat! You can look at the midday sun while it's high in the sky! What you see is a nice orange disk. That may not sound special, but it's neat to be able to look straight at the sun without it being sunrise or sunset. I'm not sure I could see any sunspots or flares with these glasses, but they should be fine for watching the eclipse. As long as we are lucky and have clear skies. The forecast isn't looking good so far... a 50 to 60% chance of thunderstorms all day on the 21st till 8pm. But things may change, and even with thunderstorms, there might be a break in the clouds. (please, pretty please, at least during totality, please?)

I've been debating whether to work from home that day, or go in to work like usual and take my lunch break during the total eclipse. Now I think I'll work from home... that way I can occasionally check what is broadcast from the other parts of the country that experience the eclipse before we do.

I replaced the pull-chain light switch for the light fixture on Qiao's ceiling fan with a 3-way pull switch. Now we can turn on either 2 or all 4 lights, where before you could only turn on all 4 at once. Now while sitting on the sofa, we can turn on only the 2 lights which face towards the other direction, so that the room isn't uncomfortably dark, but without as much glare from above as before. When we want more light, we can turn them all on. Previously, I had replaced the lamp shades and bulbs, but it was still too bright for me.

One of the metal spines on my umbrella broke. I can't think of any simple way to fix it. It's a fairly new umbrella which my neighbors gave me recently, as thanks for looking after their dogs while they were on a trip. A nice lime-green color with reflective edging. I can't bear to throw it away. I couldn't even bear to throw away my old umbrella yet.. On it, the fabric had worn out and had holes. I cut the fabric off that one, and still have the metal umbrella skeleton. It's pretty useless, slightly dangerous, but looks neat.

My dad has been researching his side of the family tree. It's amazing what you can find in old census records. This FamilySearch website is run by the LDS church, and lets you search records for free. There's an 1885 census from the state of Nebraska, with an entry for my grandpa's father and grandfather. We also found 1870 and 1880 census records which seem to match, but there are some discrepancies which we haven't been able to explain yet. We found that the Nebraska Historical Society has microfilms of church records from the area my grandpa's grandpa lived. Those records don't seem to be online anywhere. My dad contacted them, and they have a volunteer who will check the microfilms for us, even translating from Latin! How nice is that?
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Remember that song I bought on iTunes, which was so much trouble to buy?

Not only that, but in addition to the price of the song I bought, iTunes charged me an extra $1 which they are now refusing to give back. When I initially contacted them about it via their help link, they replied by email that it was only an "authorization hold on my credit card" and that it would automatically drop off in an unspecified amount of time. I was dubious, as the $1 had been taken from my PayPal balance (which I told them), not from a credit card. However, I found a PayPal page which indicated that those kind of charges might take a month to get refunded, so I decided to wait that long to see, before bugging iTunes about it again. The $1 never got refunded.

After the month was over, I tried contacting iTunes again via the same help link (twice!), but even though their automated replies state that they'll get back to me within 48 hours, they haven't, either time. So it seems like they are purposely ignoring me now. (Why? I can't figure that out.)

I had also tried disputing the charge via the PayPal site, however none of the choices PayPal provides for the reason of the dispute seemed applicable. I clicked what seemed the most relevant one and chose answers to the remaining questions that were presented to see what would happen, even though none of the answers were applicable. I thought I'd be given an opportunity to either Submit or Cancel at the end, and that I'd choose Cancel and maybe then try a different initial option. But after selecting the answers, I was only shown a message like "Well, you said you received the thing you ordered (ie. the song), so you can't dispute the charge."

Now when I try clicking the link to dispute the charge again (thinking that maybe I'll select a different initial reason this time), the link doesn't work ("Sorry — your last action could not be completed"). I suspect it is because they previously decided that I have no grounds for dispute.

I do still have the option of calling the PayPal customer support phone number. Maybe I could find an iTunes phone number.

It is only $1 they stole from me. It's not worth the hassle. But it's not right.

tunnels, bridges

Sunday, August 6th, 2017 12:35 am
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A while back, my dad had told me about a TV series I might like - "The Bridge". He said that one of the characters, a female cop, has Aspergers, and was sort of like me. I didn't get around to watching it, except a trailer. From what I read, it was a crime drama and I don't like watching gruesome and unpleasant things, so it wasn't at the top of my list.

But recently, I stumbled across a similar show on PBS (The Tunnel, season 2), and the character Elise immediately drew my interest and reminded me of what my dad had said. For a moment, I wondered if this could be the show he had been referring to, but no, this was a British/French show, and I'm pretty sure he had been talking about an American one.

It turns out that The Bridge was originally a Scandinavian TV show. The American TV series was based on it. The British/French version is the latest remake.

Anyway, the characters and plot of The Tunnel were so intriguing, that I ended up watching the rest of season 2, in spite of the subject matter also being very gruesome and unpleasant. I got Qiao to watch it with me, as he generally likes gruesome crime dramas. Next we'll watch season 1. Maybe I'll even check out the Bridge shows later on.

I feel a kinship with the character Elise. In many ways, she is different from me. But still, her difficulty in interacting with others feels very familiar, and I can totally relate to her.

wasps, paper bags

Saturday, August 5th, 2017 11:50 pm
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For several days in a row, a few wasps were hanging around the bay window, and buzzing whenever I opened or closed the side window. I was concerned they were building a nest in the soffits. That wouldn't necessarily bother me, as long as the wasps didn't end up in the house. (That has been a problem in the past.)

But I also didn't want to worry about trapping the wasps between the screen and window, or accidentally crushing them, whenever I closed the window (it is the kind with the screen on the inside, and with a handle that you turn, to close the window). So I looked up how to stop wasps from building a nest. I found that there are fake hornets nests that you can buy to scare wasps away. The fake nests don't actually look that bad either, they are like a paper lantern in a drab color. But I also read that you can make your own fake hornet nest with a small paper bag. So I did that, and stuck it outside. It seems to have worked. The wasps aren't hanging around the window any more.

I did see one of the wasps resting on the fig tree later on. It was very pretty actually, mostly black with iridescent blue highlights.
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My President Was Black, By Ta-Nehisi Coates
- mentions a "brown-paper-bag test".

Brown Paper Bag Test (wikipedia entry) -
The Brown Paper Bag Test was a type of racial discrimination in the United States. A brown paper bag was used as a way to determine whether or not an individual could have certain privileges; only individuals with a skin color that is the same color or lighter than a brown paper bag were allowed. The test was used in the 20th century within many social institutions such as African-American sororities, fraternities, and churches.

What?? Even African-American organizations discriminated based on how dark a person's skin was?!

The Wikipedia "See Also" section for the above entry includes:
High yellow ...
...is a term used to describe persons classified as black according to the one-drop rule, despite having primarily white European ancestry. It is a color reference to the yellow undertone of some mixed-race people. ... It is reflected in such popular songs of the era as "The Yellow Rose of Texas".

What?! The Yellow Rose of Texas?! You mean the original song wasn't metaphorically comparing someone to a beautiful good-smelling yellow rose?

The Yellow Rose of Texas (song) ...
The song is written in the first person from the perspective of an African-American singer who refers to himself as a "darkey," longing to return to "a yellow girl," a term used to describe a light-skinned bi-racial woman born of African-American and white progenitors.
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Why can we smell metal? - it's not actually the metal that smells.

I was wondering last week why my hand smelled bad, then realized it was from simply having touched the metal zipper pull on an old duffle bag. (Yet when I later sniffed the zipper, it didn't smell). Certain metals like that (not sure what kind, but generally the yellowish/bronze colored ones) make my hands smell so horrible that I have to wash them to get rid of the smell. Then I wondered if other people could smell metal too, which led to me finding the above information.
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How a Guy From a Montana Trailer Park Overturned 150 Years of Biology - he discovered that a large group of lichens are a symbiosis between an alga and not 1, but 2 different types of fungus. I learned that the singular of "algae" is "alga".

Jon Batiste Reinterprets 'Battle Hymn of the Republic' for The Atlantic - I really don't care much for the original song and I quite dislike the lyrics, because of its religious and warlike nature. Yet Batiste's version gives me goosebumps and is worth listening to at least once, I can say that much. From what I understand, he produced all the many different instrument sounds in the song using only a piano. The video at the above link describes how he did it, but doesn't include the whole song. If you only want to listen to the song, it's at the end of the 1st podcast on the Radio Atlantic page - starting at 1:03:00.
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The other night, while checking the thermostat in the hallway, I heard a thump against the front door. Both dogs were inside, in the other direction. So the sound gave me a momentary fright. (Who is out there?? Did someone throw something at my door?) But it might be the neighbor's dog which occasionally gets loose (he can climb/jump fences like it's the easiest thing in the world, but he's friendly so I'm not afraid of him)... I walked to the door and looked outside, first through the window, then by opening the door. There was nothing there, even though it had only been but a few seconds between me hearing the noise and looking outside.

I sometimes hear similar thumps from other parts of the house, as if something is hitting the outside wall or a window. It must be due to thermal expansion, or maybe sometimes squirrels or birds.

The curious thing is that no matter how odd and unexpected the sound, and how much it makes my heart jump into my throat, once I've determined that it's inexplicable and there's no apparent danger, I quickly forget about it. "Don't know what it was, no way to find out, got other things to do."

Today while in the bathroom with the door open, I heard a distinctly fluttering sound from the next room. Like a bird fluffing its wings. Followed by silence. There's definitely no bird in that room. Oh well, who knows. Maybe the dogs in the room at the other end of the hallway made some noise, and it only sounded to me like it came from the nearby room.

There have been other times I've heard other more inexplicable noises. Things which people who believe in ghosts, might attribute to ghosts. But I don't have any clear memories, just the knowledge that it has happened before, more than once, and it's not that unusual.

There was one strange noise which I did figure out. This one has happened both in my cube at work and in my kitchen at home - an intermittent quiet hissing noise from close nearby. It's from air escaping out of (or into?) the top of a bottle, when I haven't tightened the cap all the way, and the temperature difference between the bottle and surrounding air is right. At home, I store tap water in liter-sized glass bottles in the fridge, because I like my drinking water to be cold. But sometimes I'll leave a bottle standing on the counter. When I go to work, I take a small glass bottle of water with me, and during the day, fill it up from the drinking fountain.
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I've been trying to support independent journalism by getting paid accounts on some news sites whose articles I occasionally read (even though most of the time, the pages I read are ones that other people have linked to).

I had made a note that Slate.com charges $49 for a year's subscription. Today the site even shows an introductory price of $35/year. So I decided to sign up. But after fighting with their website for the last half hour, I've changed my mind.

First problem: The Join Slate Plus page says what the membership costs and what special perks you get. But there were no fields for signing up, and no link or button for any sign up page. I had to click NoScript's "Temporarily Allow All This Page" icon 4 times for the fields to finally be displayed. (Each time you click that icon, NoScript allows JavaScript for the domains that were previously blocked, but then encounters additional domains which the page indirectly references, and for security reasons, NoScript doesn't allow them until you click again. And so on.)

Furthermore, the fields that show up aren't for buying a paid account, but rather for "Try it Free for 2 Weeks!" That's not what I wanted.

So instead I used their normal Sign Up page to create an account. It asks for an email address, display name, and password. It took me a while to decide on a display name to use. Upon submitting my info, the site then brought up the Terms of Service. But there was no Accept button. I repeatedly clicked the "Allow All This Page" icon, until 30 or more domains were unblocked (and my laptop fan started spinning on high speed from all the crap it was trying to load each time, because underneath the ToS, the page showed a bunch of news articles), and still no Accept button displayed. Yet when I tried to go to my account page, it kept re-displaying the Terms of Service, like it was waiting for me to accept them.

Then I tried a different browser without NoScript. That way, I was able to log in and open my account profile. The account page has a "Manage subscriptions" link. But when I click the link, it only opens the slate.com homepage. So I can't see whatever email lists they may have added me to by default. Hopefully I'll be able to unsubscribe from them somehow, supposing they did add me to any lists.

Then I tried logging in from my normal browser again. But when I click the login button, it ...

(oh thank goodness for Dreamwidth's AutoSave. I just closed both browser windows, to see if I was only having trouble because I was still logged in from the other window, not realizing that I was also closing the tab where I was writing this post.)

When I click the login/account icon, nothing happens. I have to again allow JavaScript from a bunch of domains, just to get the login fields. But then when I enter them, I still don't get logged in. Sigh.

This is way too much trouble. I no longer like their website, so I don't want to give them any money after all. The articles I see on their site today don't seem so great either (or is that sour grapes speaking?).
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Turkey vultures hanging out by the pond, with Canadian geese swimming in the background.
The quality of the video isn't good, I know. I had to use zoom to take this, because if I go too near to the vultures or if they even notice I'm watching them, that usually scares them away.

URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUDEbIo3o7Q
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Every once in a while I come across an article like Hidden Animal Fats which indicates that ingredients like glycerin or stearic acid are typically non-vegan. Those 2 ingredients and their derivatives are quite common, and I've been of the belief that they were "probably vegan/ok". So reading an article like that, and thinking that I've been buying and ingesting non-vegan things, is surprising and disappointing.

Then I find a page like Vegetarian Journal's Guide To Food Ingredients which indicates that both of those are typically vegan. I tend to trust that organization's information. For the purposes of their article, they contacted several of the large companies which produce the ingredients for commercial use, which gives it more credence. So then I breathe a sigh of relief.

But there are some items the VRG lists as "typically non-vegetarian", which I didn't expect. Palmitic, Oleic, and Myristic acids. Even modified food starch may be non-vegetarian, due to oleic acid being used in the processing.

That bone char is often used in the production of white sugar, I was aware. (I buy unbleached organic sugar rather than white sugar, but I don't avoid items which have sugar as an ingredient, as that would be too limiting.) But it never occurred to me that activated carbon/charcoal might also come from bone. That may be in my water filters. I'll have to find out.

Wait. The VRG page says that activated charcoal is vegan... oh, I guess that only refers to the kind which is intended for ingestion. The VRG page says that the activated carbon which is used in filters may be non-vegetarian, from bones.

This page about PUR water filters indicates that the activated carbon in the filters is made from coconut shells. (I've read that about Brita filters too). However, the page has a disclaimer at the bottom: "This post was created as part of my collaboration with PUR. As always, all of the opinions, thoughts, and ideas in this post are my own. I am solely responsible for the content."
So, as it's not an official statement by the company, I've contacted PUR's customer support for verification.

flight skills

Tuesday, July 18th, 2017 11:39 pm
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Walking back from my lunch break, I passed a group of 7 crows cawing and flitting between trees.

Next, I came across a group of vultures standing together in a group on the grass. At first glance, they looked like black crows too. I tried not to look at them very directly, as doing so generally scares them away. But I got out my cell phone and took a furtive photo.

A few of the vultures flew upwards and bumped into the side of the building behind them before landing back on the ground. Huh? A couple more did the same thing, and I wondered what were they doing. Then I realized... they were all younglings, and were frightened of me and trying to fly up onto the top of the building. But their flying skills aren't good enough yet to fly straight up 20 feet like that. I walked away, not to scare them further, poor things.

It reminded me of a day last week when I walked right past a single young vulture that was sitting on a railing, not even noticing it until the last moment, as I had just walked out of the building into the sunshine.

A few days ago I was reading about vines... ah yes, to see if my mom was correct that letting them grow up the pine tree trunks can hurt the trees. While doing that, I found out the name of one of the vines that grows in my yard: Virginia Creeper. It has little suckers on its tendrils that helps it climb, and 5 leaflets in each compound leaf.

Earlier today while walking, I saw a similar looking plant with leaflets of 3... and remembered that rhyme, "leaves of three, let them be". I wondered if it was poison ivy. It looks so innocuous; I walk by it nearly every day. In lieu of touching the leaves to find out, I did a web search on my cell phone to find some images of poison ivy, and sure enough, that is what it was. Now I know what it looks like. For the moment, anyway.

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Note to self: If you want to put pasta into that soup or stew that you're cooking, first pre-boil the pasta. Don't put dry pasta into the soup. Even if it may have worked well in the past, now you'll likely end up with it stuck and burnt to the bottom of the pot.

Remember the orzo incident? It's not only orzo. It's the macaroni too. (But what about noodly noodles? Surely they wouldn't sink and stick?)

solar power

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017 11:05 pm
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Our electric company has a program where you can either buy or rent solar panels which are set up out in the countryside (rather than on your roof). They take care of all the setup and maintenance. As I want to support clean renewable energy, it sounds like a great thing for me to do. But after reading the details about the program, I have a nagging feeling that it sounds too good to be true.

Especially the part in the FAQ about renting panels, which says "Monthly credits are expected to be greater than monthly fees providing for instant saving."
I wonder if the panels provide more power when they are new, so that to begin with, the credits might exceed the fees, but in later years the reverse would be true?

Do any of you have experience, or know someone with experience, in these type of programs?

The electric company also has a rooftop solar program. Each customer can only participate in one of the programs, not both. I've seen several houses with solar panels on their roofs. My house would likely be a good candidate for that too, as it gets a good amount of sunshine. But the idea of putting solar panels on my roof worries me in that
- the panels would interfere with getting the shingles replaced, whenever the shingles eventually need to be replaced (although maybe they lengthen the life of the shingles underneath them, as the shingles would be less exposed?)
- if someone needs to walk on my roof for something (cleaning gutters, fixing leaks, trimming tree branches), the panels would be in the way
- if not installed well, they might cause roof leaks?

cashews and olives

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017 10:46 pm
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I've discovered something that's even better than the dried olives I mentioned here: those same dried olives eaten together with salted cashews! Who would have thought that eating something oily and salty together with something else oily and salty would be a thing? Maybe that's the appeal of cheese and olive appetizer plates.

On a side-note, I had tried some unsalted dried olives, and they were one of the most unpalatable things ever. What a difference some salt can make.


Tuesday, July 11th, 2017 10:51 pm
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amusing realization: I don't know them well enough for it to be appropriate to say "Hi there, stranger!" to them.


Sunday, July 9th, 2017 01:58 am
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Am just now watching a CNN series on the 1980s.

The first part they showed was about MTV. I didn't know that MTV refused to play black artists in the beginning. Back then we were living in Germany, and the only American channel we got to watch was AFN, the Armed Forces Network. I didn't get to watch MTV until 1985 or later, when we were back in the U.S. But nonetheless, it seems like nearly all the music that was popular in the 80s is among my favorite music, even without me having seen the videos for those first years.

There was a segment about the space shuttles and the Challenger disaster on Jan 28, 1986.

I had a memory of being at home, listening to my radio in my bedroom, and hearing about the Challenger accident on the radio... as if I was hearing it live*, or right after it had happened. The apartment/bedroom of my memory matches the year, 1986. Both the year before and the year after, I lived in other places. So the memory must be at least partially true.

But I just looked it up, and the accident was on a Tuesday, at 11:39am in the same time zone as I was. So surely I would have been at school when it happened. I don't remember hearing about it at school though. If I was home that day, what could the reason have been? Even if the school day ended fairly early, it wouldn't have been that early. So surely I must have been at school, gotten home at the normal time, and then heard about it on the radio after the fact. Unless we had a half-day for some reason...

Surely if I had been home at the time of the launch, I would have been watching it on TV, not listening on the radio? Or were space shuttle launches not televised live back then? ...

When a national disaster unfolded live in 1986
If you were an American kid in 1986, you probably remember exactly where you were: That's because so many classrooms were watching the shuttle launch live via a special NASA satellite feed to showcase what would have been the first American teacher in space, Christa McAuliffe.

No, I don't remember watching it live in school. Gah, no way to verify my patchy memories.

*I do think it likely that I listened to the launch live, probably on PBS, because I was into astronomy and NASA and things like that. Maybe we didn't get CNN at the time, or maybe I didn't know it was being televised too. I remember listening to other launch attempts on the radio, including aborted ones. (But as this post shows, I no longer trust such old memories. Maybe I only heard replays, not live broadasts?)

This morning I was lying in bed trying to figure out how long ago Qiao bought his house - was it 2 or 3 years ago? And how long ago was his accident? 2011 or 2012? And when was my brother living in my house? etc., etc. All that only within the last 7 years or so, and I'm already getting it all mixed up in my mind. At least now I have ways of looking up what happened when in my life. But not for 1986. I did occasionally write in a diary back then, but not about the space shuttle.

Update (7/10): I think I figured out why I was not at school that day. According to historical weather sources, it was a very cold day. In my area, it was under 20 degrees until 9am, and didn't go above freezing until the afternoon. Such weather is not usual in the South, and school was probably cancelled to keep kids from having to walk to school or wait for the school buses in such cold.
darkoshi: (Default)
Back in high school, we had to choose a scene from Macbeth, memorize it, and later recite it to the class. I chose one of the shortest scenes I could find, because, while I was good at remembering things, I wasn't particularly good at memorizing long strings of words.

I'm not sure if I ever recited it to the class; as much as I dreaded having to speak in front of the class, I usually ended up not having to do so. I never volunteered to go first (or 2nd or 3rd, or ever), and so the class usually ran out of time before getting to me. (Though in retrospect it would have been good to have more practice at public speaking. And it probably was a tiny bit of a let-down, getting all worked up at having to speak, and then not having to speak after all.)

As with the few other things I've memorized, I remembered it for a long time, because every so often I would recite it to myself. I didn't remember it perfectly - over time, I may have swapped in some wrong words here and there - but could still recite most of it.

Lately I had noticed that I could hardly remember any of it, except the first line. But this week at work, while standing at my desk, for some reason I started reciting it in my mind, and I remembered the whole thing again! The words flowed without a break.


It's the part with the witches talking, Act 3 Scene 5, that starts with "How did you dare to trade and traffic with Macbeth in riddles and affairs of death..."

But actually, reading that link, it turns out that in the intervening years, I had completely forgotten the 2nd half of it. I thought it ended with "thither he will come to [meet] his destiny". But I used to have the rest memorized too. "I am for the air" ... "my little spirit, see, Sits in a foggy cloud, and stays for me." Yep, I liked those parts!

Heh. And now I learn that the scene I memorized probably wasn't even written by Shakespeare. The above link describes the scene as "un-Shakespearean". This page says: "Some literary critics believe that these [sic] scene is way too hokey to be Shakespeare's work..."

Heh, hokey! You stick your left foot in, you stick your left foot out, you do the hokey-pokey and you shake it all about!

And that's another example of me remembering something, but not remembering it quite right.

*It's like how sometimes people's names are easy to recall, and sometimes not.