plumbing washers

Friday, June 23rd, 2017 09:36 am
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If you have any kind of filters or adapters on your faucets, especially in the kitchen, check the rubber washers once in a while. While replacing the filter unit on my kitchen sink, even though it hadn't been leaking, I discovered the old washer had completely disintegrated, leaving behind nothing but black goo. That's not something I want in my drinking water.

In the past, I've encoutered washers partially disintegrated, but I've never seen one completely gone to goo, like this one was.
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A while back while squirting toothpaste onto my toothbrush, a tiny bit of it splashed into my eye (don't ask me how). It burned for a moment, then was ok.

A few weeks ago, while filing away some papers, the corner of one sheet of paper hit my eyeball (don't ask me how). It hurt like hell. Worrying that I've got a severe injury always makes it worse, too. I kept thinking that my eyeball must have gotten a paper-cut. After some minutes, I was able to look in a mirror (with difficulty) to verify there was (probably) no shard of paper still stuck in there. The eye kept tearing up, so I had to press a washcloth against it for a couple of hours to soak up the tears, as well as to block the ambient light which was painfully bright.

The incident with my eye happened 40 minutes before a scheduled Spectrum appointment, for my intermittent connectivity problem (which since that last appointment has not recurred, hurrah!) That was the 4th appointment for the same problem; the 3rd time was not the charm. I didn't want to cancel the appointment. So when the tech came, and for most of the time he was here, I kept holding the washcloth against my eye. The tech was unperturbed.

After a few hours the pain was mostly gone and my vision seemed normal. For the next few days, the eye ached only slightly and sporadically. Then it felt completely normal again.

Last week, toothpaste accidentally spritzed into my eye again. This time, it hurt quite bad, and continued to hurt badly for 10 to 15 minutes even after rinsing out my eye as well as I could. It was the same eye which had the paper-cut. Maybe the cut wasn't completely healed after all, and the toothpaste irritated it again. This in spite of it being the wintergreen-flavored toothpaste which is fairly mild. The peppermint and spearmint flavors are too strong for me; they make my mouth burn.

One of the pages I found while searching on "toothpaste in eye" mentioned that most toothpastes shouldn't be dangerous to the eye... except perhaps if it's one of the whitening kinds with silica, as those are more abrasive. I thought to myself, well I know mine doesn't have silica. I purposely don't buy that kind, because their whitening power comes from sanding off the outer layer of tooth enamel. I'm trying to increase my amount of tooth enamel, not decrease it.

But yesterday I happened to look at the ingredient list on the toothpaste tube. Surprisingly, the main inactive ingredient after water was "hydrated silica". I could have sworn it used to be calcium carbonate. Did they change the ingredients?

Then I remembered that I have a small box full of empty toothpaste tubes. They can't be put with the regular recyclables, but there's a place - TerraCycle that takes them for recycling, if I ever accumulate enough of them to make it worthwhile to send them.

So I checked the box, and found an older tube, which indeed has a slightly different ingredient list. Both the old and new tubes mention "whitening" on the front, but somehow I'd never paid attention to that.

(OLD) Inactive ingredients: glycerin, water, calcium carbonate, hydrated silica, xylitol, carrageenan, natural flavor (wintergreen oil and other natural flavor), sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium bicarbonate, zinc citrate.

(NEW) Inactive ingredients: water, hydrated silica, sorbitol, xylitol, glycerin, natural flavor (wintergreen oil and other natural flavor), sodium lauryl sulfate, zinc citrate, xanthan gum, titanium dioxide, carrageenan.


The Tom's of Maine (my toothpaste brand) website says:
In our Antiplaque Tartar Control & Whitening flavors, the hydrated silica we use is milled to produce a slightly larger particle size (an average particle size of 10 microns, versus 8 microns, on average, in our children's and Wintermint flavors). This makes it a better cleaner, so that it can help to remove stains that have formed on teeth.


So at least the silica in my toothpaste is small-sized. If it were only that, I might continue using it. But with this new propensity for splashing into my eye, I'll be looking for an alternative. (Is it unreasonable to think that brushing one's teeth or doing paperwork shouldn't require wearing safety goggles?) Now when I brush my teeth, I've started holding the tube at arm's length and pointing it away from me.

All About Whitening Toothpastes - has a chart comparing the abrasiveness of different brands of toothpaste.
Setting the record straight about toothpaste abrasivity - says there's no difference in tooth-wear, as long as the toothpaste is under 250 RDA. I don't quite believe that.

total solar eclipse!

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017 08:27 am
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The path of the total solar eclipse that will happen on August 21 includes Columbia, SC, where I live!

The total eclipse path in SC also includes Greenville and Charleston, two of the other largest cities/towns in the state.

This NASA map shows more details, and the area that will get a 90% eclipse is pretty big. I imagine 90% will be pretty stunning to see, too. But it may not be, because we had a partial eclipse before which was nearly unnoticeable. A small amount of sun is still very bright.

I hope it won't be cloudy here on that day.

korean island walk

Saturday, June 17th, 2017 03:35 pm
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This is so cute.

Very good dog crashes every street view shot of this South Korean island

If you explore the map, the island itself is lovely too, beautiful ocean views, fields, a wooded path with interesting things along the way... there's a cool silvery monument in one spot along the path. I haven't found a way to link directly to that location. But (looking at the overview map), it is right near where the path along the east side of the island forks in the middle.

The island is called Jukdo.

(After more wandering along the map-path) This island is like a video game! One page I read said the island has only 3 families; another page said it had 2 inhabitants. And that the island has no running water, that rainwater must be collected, or it must be brought over from the nearby larger island of Ulleung.

But judging by the map-photos, it must be a somewhat popular tourist destination. There is a small building at the southern loop of the path, which appears to have bathrooms. There's a wood fence along the path, with many little rest/overlook areas and picnic tables/benches. There's another building with signs in front, which may be a restaurant. There are signs/markers along the path (in Korean, so I don't know what they say).

Ah, now I feel I must post some screenshots after all.






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I had never heard about this before. The first piece on it which I read this evening left me thinking it must be a fake story. But unfortunately, like most things about human history, it's not fake.

Tulsa, 1921 - 1921 article by Walter White for The Nation

TULSA RACE RIOT - Oklahoma Historical Society

A Report by the Oklahoma Commission to Study the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 - a very detailed report from 2001, with photos, which I haven't had time to read.

Wikipedia article - Summary:
The Tulsa race riot, or Tulsa race riot of 1921, occurred between May 31–June 1, 1921, when a white mob started attacking residents and businesses of the African-American community of Greenwood in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in what is considered one of the worst incidents of racial violence in the history of the United States. The attack, carried out on the ground and by air, destroyed more than 35 blocks of the district, at the time the wealthiest black community in the nation. More than 800 people were admitted to hospitals and more than 6,000 black residents were arrested and detained, many for several days. The Oklahoma Bureau of Vital Statistics officially recorded 39 dead, but the American Red Cross estimated 300, a number supported by historians since then.
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My old phone was a Motorola Droid X2, running Android Gingerbread.
My new phone is a Moto G4 Play, running Android Marshmallow.

In general, I really like the new phone. But I wasn't expecting to lose features by getting a newer phone. It's like upgrading Firefox to a new version, and having to find add-ons to add back functionality that was removed in the new version.

So far, these are the things I've found that my old phone had, which are lacking on the new phone.

An LED notification light, which would periodically blink to indicate any voicemails or texts that had been received. From what I've read, some phones still have LED notification lights, but many new ones don't.

The ability to add Contacts to a local phone account (rather than to a Google account), without having to first install an app to provide that functionality. From what I've read, some phones have this built in, but some don't.

The ability to add a custom phone type label, when adding a phone number to a Contact, without having to first install an app to provide that functionality. Some things I've read indicated this was a problem already before Froyo (but it was working ok for me on Gingerbread). Some things I've read indicate this is only a problem on certain types of accounts - the functionality may be there for Google accounts, but not for local accounts. But on my old phone, it worked for local accounts.
Addendum... after installing the Contact Editor app, by dmfs, to add back the custom label functionality, it started working via the regular Contact add screen too - even after uninstalling the app. So I don't know what is up with this issue.

The ability to export contacts to a VCF file in VCARD version 3.0, which included the custom phone type labels. My Marshmallow phone exports it in VCARD version 2.1 instead, which omits the custom phone type labels. My new phone can import contacts from a 3.0 VCARD file, and displays the custom phone type labels fine. But it doesn't include the custom labels when exporting the contacts - even after the above fix so that custom labels can be added and edited.

A minor thing, but the built-in ringtones and notification sounds on the new phone aren't nearly as cool as they were on my old phone. But I was able to copy the ones I liked best over to the new phone.

Another minor thing, but my old phone had an option to display all apps that I had downloaded/installed (as opposed to the built-in apps). On the new phone, the built-in and downloaded apps are all displayed together, so it may be harder to find a particular one, if I don't remember its name, and I didn't add it to a homescreen. I guess I'll create my own folder and put shortcuts to my downloaded apps in there.

opera browser

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017 02:44 am
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I was getting ready to install one of the Opera browsers on my phone, but I noticed that their Google Play pages say "contains ads" - even though the browser itself supposedly contains ad-blockers. So where do the ads get displayed? Do they block the normal ads and inject their own instead?

The app details mention: Opera Mini may show ads from Facebook. To learn more, see https://m.facebook.com/ads/ad_choices
But that link results in a Facebook page with message "The page you requested was not found."

I did a web search and didn't find more info on that, but found this (from July 2016): Opera browser sold to a Chinese consortium for $600 million.
That is news to me.

It reminded me of something else I read recently that surprised me too. I thought that Lenovo was a part of IBM, and that IBM was still a PC/laptop manufacturer. But IBM sold "off its personal computer (ThinkPad/ThinkCentre) and x86-based server businesses to Lenovo (2005 and 2014, respectively)". And Lenovo "is a Chinese multinational technology company with headquarters in Beijing, China."

iTunes and DRM

Sunday, June 4th, 2017 11:21 pm
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I finally managed to buy that song I wanted from iTunes.

I never want to go through that much trouble to buy a song again, even if, like this one, IAMX's I Come With Knives, I really want to support the artist for making such a wonderful song and video. Maybe, if an MP3 of the song had been available to purchase on the band's website, or on Amazon, it wouldn't have taken me over 4 years to buy it.

The band's website only has the full album available, and only as a CD, not MP3s. Some of the other albums are available as MP3s, but not that one. Likewise, Amazon only has the full album on CD. The MP3 version seems to be a single instead, as it only has 4 songs, of which 3 are different versions of "Unified Field". The only place I found the song I wanted was on iTunes.

The plus of it was that the iTunes price was in GBP, not dollars. So I got to use up some of that GBP balance I still had left over on my PayPal account.

The 2 TV show episodes that I wanted to buy are also priced in GBP, which would have been another plus. But after doing some research, it seems that if I bought them, they'd be in MV4 format, which I'd only be able to play on that desktop computer from inside iTunes. Because of the DRM, I wouldn't be able to play them on my normal laptop (without iTunes), nor even on the TV (no, that computer doesn't have an HDMI port). So I won't be buying them after all. There's only so much I'm willing to put up with. Sure, maybe I could use some software to strip out the DRM from the files in order to play them on my other devices without iTunes, but that would defeat the whole point of buying them legally.
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This page on the Apple.com site: Government Information Requests
states: In the second half of 2016, Apple received between 5,750 and 5,999 National Security Orders.

Apple's Transparency Reports - contain details on the various customer information requests received by Apple from 2013 through 2016. The number of national security orders received by Apple increased from less than 500 in 2013, to between 8500 and 9000 in 2016.

See below for the difference between "National Security Orders/Requests" versus National Security Letters.

In this prior post, I linked to another article which stated: the FBI issued nearly 13,000 NSLs in 2015 alone. But that number must have been way under-estimated. Indeed, one of the below articles indicates that over 48,000 NSLs were sent in 2015.

A Decade-Old Gag Order, Lifted (November 2015):
relying on changes made by the Patriot Act, the FBI began issuing hundreds of NSLs demanding credit reports, banking information, or records relating to Internet activity. Some of the NSLs sought information about terrorism suspects, but most sought information about people who were one, two, three, or more degrees removed from anyone suspected of having done anything wrong. According to the Justice Department’s inspector general, the FBI issued a staggering 143,074 NSLs between 2003 and 2005. And every NSL was accompanied by a categorical and permanent gag order.


That link and this one: Doe v. Holder describe a decade-long court battle to get a single gag order lifted. It mentions some changes made to the laws regarding the gag orders during that time, but I'm not clear on the final outcome. I assume that most other NSL recipients are still under similar gag orders which haven't been changed.


Newly published FBI request shines light on National Security Letters (November 2015):

In 2007, the Office of the Inspector General reported that the FBI issued approximately 40,000 to 60,000 letters per year. President Obama’s Intelligence Review Group reported more recently in 2013 that the government issued an average of nearly 60 NSLs per day.
..
Companies can only report NSLs in bands of 1,000, if they're separated from FISA court order requests, or in bands of 250 if reported as a broader "national security request."


The "national security orders" referenced on the Apple.com page must be the broader category, including FISA requests in addition to NSLs, as they are listed in bands of 250. But the last link below indicates there are less than 2000 FISA request per year, so that doesn't explain the large discrepancy in numbers.

Even the above article implies that in 2013, a total of 365*60 = 25,550 NSLs were issued, while twice as many were issued 6 years prior. I doubt the number would have decreased that much over time, if there were no legal changes governing the issuance of the requests.

US foreign intelligence court did not deny any surveillance requests last year :
The court received 1,457 requests last year [in 2015] on behalf of the National Security Agency and the FBI for authority to intercept communications, including email and phone calls. ... The court did not reject any of the applications in whole or in part, the memo showed.

The total represented a slight uptick from 2014, when the court received 1,379 applications and rejected none.
..
The memo also stated that 48,642 national security letter (NSL) requests were made in 2015 by the FBI.
..
The majority of NSL requests, 31,863, made in 2015 sought information on foreigners, regarding a total of 2,053 individuals, the memo stated.

The FBI made 9,418 requests for national security letters in 2015 for information about US citizens and legal immigrants, regarding a total of 3,746 individuals, it showed.

The FBI also made 7,361 NSL requests for only “subscriber information”, typically names, addresses and billing records, of Americans and foreigners regarding 3,347 different people.

other things

Sunday, June 4th, 2017 02:47 am
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Still tweaking other things on my new cell phone too.

I found out that one can remove the pages from these old family photo albums (and put them back together again). Which means that scanning the albums shouldn't be that difficult after all (as long as each page fits on the flatbed - one of the albums does just barely. The other one would require using my mom's larger scanner). Which means that's another thing I want to get done.

Firefox addons; learn how to update them to use these new WebExtensions APIs.
Which also shows me that my JavaScript knowledge is woefully out of date. It's changed a lot in 20 years.

I've just installed 2 and a half years worth of Windows updates on one of Qiao's old Windows 7 desktop computers, which we haven't used in that long. Because it has iTunes on it, and I don't want to install iTunes on my laptop. But there are a couple of items I want to get, which are only available to download from iTunes. And of course, that meant I needed to install Windows updates too, right? I dunno. It seemed the thing to do even though it took all day. Makes me think I might even be able to get updates working again on my old laptop too, if I wanted to.
Simplifying updates for Windows 7 and 8.1 - a rollup for all updates through April 2016, with only one prerequisite that must be installed first.

Researching family tree stuff. Old census records. Found out my great-great-grandmother had at least 10 children, and possibly 5 more that didn't survive.
Need to determine what kind of open-source program I should use for doing a family tree, so that the data can be exported/imported in a widely compatible format.

Want to replace all the screws for the door lock strike-plates and hinges with 3-inch long screws. And replace some of the strike-plates with ones that take 4 screws instead of 2.

I finally took down the rest of the xmas decorations and put the boxes away. My mom helped me take down the xmas tree a few weeks ago. She and Qiao are as bad as me - once I made my mind up to take them down, they both said "I think you should just leave them up", making me debate it internally all over again.
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My new cellphone has Android Marshmallow. I brought my contacts over from my old phone by exporting them to a vcf file, copying the file to my computer and then to the new SD card, and then importing them to the new phone.

One thing that surprised me is that when I clicked to add a new Contact on the new phone, I got the message "Your new contact will be synchronized with [my Gmail address]". Even after turning Sync OFF for Contacts in the Account Settings (for which I first had to *enable* sync in general, as I had it previously turned it completely off), it still gave me that message, with no option of adding the contact without synchronizing.

Now I no longer get the message - maybe because I edited one contact, and it only shows the message before you save any update. But the Add Contact screen still shows "Google Account" along with my Gmail address at the top of the screen, making it appear that the Contact belongs to the Gmail account, rather than simply belonging to the contact list on the phone, as it did on my old phone.

Logging into Gmail on the computer, under Contacts it showed all my phone contacts (which I had never added in Gmail), so it must have synced them when I originally added the Gmail account to the phone (for using the Play Store), before I turned off the auto-sync setting.

Or it is slightly possible they got synced from my old phone, and I never realized it, as I hadn't checked the contacts for that Gmail account before. I never had any reason to think my phone would be syncing my contacts to my Gmail account. But I think I had sync turned off on the old phone too.

Now I tested adding a new contact on the phone, and so far, it does not show up in Gmail on the computer. So hopefully it is working as desired now. I was able to select all the Gmail Contacts on the computer, to delete them all at once from there. I don't email anyone from that account, so it doesn't need contacts anyway.

The apparent lesson for me is:
Make sure Sync is turned off for Contacts in the Google Account settings on the phone, *before* importing contacts.
Or, if I import the contacts before adding the Google Account, put phone into airplane mode and then add the account, and then make sure it is set not to sync Contacts before taking it out of airplane mode.

And now, after reading this: Why can't I save new contacts to my phone or SIM?, I will try out this app which hopefully will let me import and save contacts to the phone without them being linked to any Google account: MyLocalAccount
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Last week, the dogs were at Qiao's place. One night, they were barking and digging by the A/C unit, but Qiao couldn't see what they were after. The next day, Serena caught a young opossum. Qiao got it away from her and put it outside the fence. At first it played dead, but later it was gone, so it must have been ok enough to walk away.

A few nights ago, Serena somehow got out of Qiao's yard. This is the 2nd time she's done that, with no signs of disturbance along the bottom of the fence. She must be climbing out. At my house, when she was younger, she used to be able to climb the fence at the corners, until I put up extra fencing there. In another spot, she was able to climb the fence while bracing her backside against a wood fence which was parallel to it for a short section - until I blocked off that area.

Now I've put up extra fencing on the corners of Qiao's yard. But there are also some trees right along the inside of the fence - I still have to decide what to do there. She may be using the trees to help her climb too. In the meantime, the dogs are staying at my place again.

Tonight, I sat down outside on the driveway, to take in the night air and sounds for a bit. Serena was wandering around behind the garage. I glanced to my right, and saw something move. There was an animal shape on a low branch of the nearby Juniper bush... with a skinny hairless tail. My first thought was "Rat!" (it was the size of an adult rat) - I jumped up and back away from the bush. Both dogs jumped into the bushes after it, and Serena caught it almost right away. My next thought was, OMG maybe it's another baby opossum! I yelled at the dogs and ran after Serena and picked her up until she dropped the animal. Sure enough, a young opossum. I struggled to get both dogs inside the house, so they couldn't go after it again. Then I went to check on it with a flashlight. It was breathing and had its eyes open. I didn't see any bleeding wounds. So hopefully it wasn't badly hurt. I just checked again, and it is gone. Hopefully it will find a better place to hide now. I'll keep the dogs tied up tonight, just in case.
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Yesterday after work, I drove to Congaree Park with my mom. From the status updates posted by the park, the peak firefly activity might have already been over. But even if so, I thought it would still be neat to be in a wilderness area after nightfall. Most other parks around here close at dusk. The forecast was for clear skies, so maybe there would also be a nice starry sky - here in town there is too much ambient light to see more than the brightest ones.

I looked up directions on how to drive there. I found that the Google Maps app has an option for downloading a zoomable map of a selected area. You can download maps of where you are planning to go using WiFi, and later on use them to navigate with GPS, without using any cellular data.

But my car also has a built-in navigator. So once I reached the outskirts of town, I turned it on and entered the address. I just wanted to be sure that I didn't miss the turn-off way down on Bluff Road. The expected route displayed on the screen, but once I started driving, it told me to turn right when I was certain that I should turn left. I stopped to verify on Google Maps that my memory was correct. Then I turned left and drove on. It started nagging "Turn left... recalculating", "Turn left ... recalculating", "Make a U-turn!" and so on and so on. I have no idea where it was trying to take me to. I wanted to turn it off, but neither my mom nor I could figure out how. Finally, after parking the car again and pressing a bunch of things on the screen, I turned it off.

The park's website had said that only flashlights with red filters or covers should be used, to avoid disturbing the fireflies. I happened to have a flashlight, plus a small BugLit flashlight, plus a headlamp, all with red LEDs. As my mom was coming too, I also brought 2 other flashlights, with red/pink cellophane covering the lights. But they weren't necessary. I only needed a flashlight on the way out. My mom only used the BugLit. The ones with the cellophane covers were still really way too bright anyway.

The parking lot was full already at the park, so I parked behind another car on the side of the road. It was already dusk. On the boardwalk, we walked past a lot of other people. We finally stopped at what seemed a good spot. (Beset by thoughts of "Maybe there are more fireflies further down. Or maybe there are fewer. Maybe that would only take us closer to that crying baby.") There were a lot of people noises. In the beginning, people were also constantly walking past behind us in both directions. Later on, much of that subsided and it was more peaceful. Surely there are places in the park where one could see fireflies too, without the crowds of people. But you'd need to be familiar with the park to know where to go.

There were a lot of fireflies, but not as many as I had hopefully envisioned. The peak activity must already be past. I didn't notice much synchronicity going on, although there were moments when a small group of them would flash at nearly the same time, and then go dark, and then do that again a few times. But there were also other fireflies around them doing their own thing, so it wasn't very obvious. The status posted by the park today said "Fireflies were again active last night (Friday, May 26). Visitors reported that separate groups of fireflies were synchronized (as opposed to all of them being synchronized together)." Maybe it was more obvious in other spots, than where we were standing.

When I see fireflies in my yard, the color of their flash is bright yellow. But the flash of the ones in the park was more white, like moonlight. (Maybe that was only because they were further away - the ones that were closer did have more color). But that white light made them look like twinkling stars in amongst the trees. Very magical. Twinkling moving stars. The kind of thing which might make you believe in fairies. In the moments when people were being quiet, you could hear the nighttime insect noises all around. There were occasional owl (I assume) calls. (Not hoot-hoot sounds. Though now checking YouTube for owl calls, it didn't sound like those, so maybe they weren't owls after all.)

We stayed after most other people had left. It was nicer then, without all the distractions, even though the twinkling fireflies seemed fainter by then, more misty and dreamlike. As we were on the way out, a few other people arrived. Perhaps they wanted to avoid the crowds too.

Other than the fireflies and the flashlights of people walking by, at ground-level it was quite dark. But looking up, you could see the sky a lighter blue between the dark outlines of trees. Even when we left, around 11pm, the sky still was that color. Not pitch black pierced by white stars, as I'd expect. Although the stars themselves were plentiful and beautiful. Does the night sky never really get black, even in the countryside? The moon was almost new, so the light wasn't from it. Maybe it was still ambient light from town; the park is only about half an hour away. Or do the stars always make the night sky seem a lighter color?

On the way out, I stopped at another small parking lot to get a better view of the sky. It was beautiful. I wasn't able to see the milky way (would it be overhead? I don't even know where to look). I think there was a pond nearby, but it was too dark to tell. There were some weird animal noises coming from the other side. I have no idea what it was. My mom guessed it might be a male deer. Maybe, based on this - the sound was sort of like that, though it's hard to remember now.

the bee's knees

Saturday, May 27th, 2017 05:13 pm
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Ah, man. I know I'm getting old, when while pulling weeds in the yard, I think to myself "You know, I think I'll get that stool from inside to sit down on". Because bending and unbending my knees is no longer such an easy effortless thing.
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How can I have lived here this long, without having heard about this phenomenon before?

Synchronized fireflies lighting skies at Congaree National Park

Alice Phoebe Lou

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017 10:57 pm
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A TEDx video introduced me to this wonderful singer.



Video title: Alice Phoebe Lou - Bang Bang
Posted by: VoB
URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xr_aK3pp4ks




Video title: Alice Phoebe Lou: "Girl On An Island" | NDR Kultur Session
Posted by: NDR kulturradar
URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FZlVLewdyU
darkoshi: (Default)
This is possibly the best cover I've ever heard of this song. It even gave me goosebumps.



Video title: "Sweet Dreams" Hurdy Gurdy Cover - Patty Gurdy (Live Session)
Posted by: Patty Gurdy
URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7B15v51Ro4
darkoshi: (Default)
Whoa, something new to keep my eye out for in the grocery store: Breyer's non-dairy Frozen Desserts
flavors: Vanilla Peanut Butter, and Oreo Cookies & Cream

Breyers Releases Two Almond Milk-Based Ice Creams - and Ben & Jerry's has 2 new flavors in their vegan line.
OMG, do the Breyer's ones really come in 1.5 quart-sized containers? Not in those little pint-sized containers that all the other vegan brands come in? I wonder how much the Breyer's costs...

bush-cats

Friday, May 19th, 2017 09:30 am
darkoshi: (Default)
There's an "End Road Work" sign across the street which was put up months ago and is still there, even though no road work has been done. At first the sign was taped over with black plastic, but that has since blown away. I suppose they were planning to do some roadwork originally, but it must have been delayed.

Someone put up a small new sign underneath it. I squinted at it through my window to see what it says. "Cats in the Bushes" ?

I looked again. "Cash for Houses"

Hmm. The first version was more interesting.
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My last AT&T landline phone bill amounts to $32.81, of which $19.40 is for the residential line. Everything else is taxes, fees, and surcharges. The highest of those is $8.17 for a "Federal Subscriber Line Charge".

This FCC page says:
The Subscriber Line Charge is a fee that you pay to your local phone company that connects you to the telephone network. Local telephone companies recover some of the costs of telephone lines connected to your home or business through this monthly charge on your local telephone bill. Sometimes called the federal subscriber line charge, this fee is regulated and capped by the FCC, not by state Public Utility Commissions. It is not a tax or a fee charged by the government. The money received from the subscriber line charge goes directly to local telephone companies. To ensure that all Americans can afford at least a minimal level of basic telephone service, the FCC will not allow phone companies to charge more than $6.50 for a single line.


I have only a single line. So I'm wondering why my charge is more than $6.50. Does anyone else out there have a landline phone bill for a single line, with a monthly Subscriber Line Charge of higher than $6.50? I'm thinking maybe they increased the cap, but didn't update the web page... But even back in January 2014, I was being billed $6.78 for it. Only as far back as June 2012 was it under $6.50.

The main reason I still have a landline is for work. I haven't had many dial-in meetings lately, but there's always the possibility they can come up again. Cell phones aren't ideal for them.

Update:
This page mentions that there was talk in 2008 of increasing the cap to $8.50.

This page mentions that some companies are allowed to charge higher amounts, but it sounds to me that wouldn't apply to AT&T. A prior post in the thread indicates that this this part of the Federal Code of Regulations controls the cap. But I'm not sure if that data is up to date.

Many other people have posted about being charged more than $6.50, so it doesn't seem to be an unusual thing.


Update - 2017/05/20:
I corrected a typo above; my residential line charge is $19.40, not $17.40.

I also found the following information which explains why my Federal Subscriber Line Charge (FSLC) is higher than the $6.50 cap, even though that cap hasn't changed. The amount on my bill must be a combination of 2 charges - the FSLC and an "Access Recovery Charge".

Understanding Your Telephone Bill and Charges:
Beginning July 1, 2012, the FCC will allow Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers (LECs) to assess a new Access Recovery Charge (ARC). The FCC will allow Incumbent LECs to bill the ARC separately, or to combine the ARC with the SLC for purposes of billing the two charges. The FCC will allow Incumbent LECs to assess a monthly charge of up to $0.50 per line on residential end users, single-line business customers, and non-primary residential lines. The $0.50 ARC may increase an additional $0.50 annually through 2016 or 2017...


I also found the following blurb on my old bill from July 2012, which was the first month that the amount went over $6.50:
Effective 7/3/2012, the Federal Subscriber Line Charge, regulated by the Federal Communications Commission, will increase. Your current bill reflects the change.