never see the same

Thursday, May 18th, 2017 09:43 am
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Now when I see dandelions, I think to myself "Aha! That one has pointy leaves, not round, and they are sticking up, not close to the ground. That is a true dandelion." Or "That's not a true dandelion, it's cat's claw... err, no, cat's ear" (almost every time, "cat's claw" comes to mind first, even though I'm not familiar with it... per a search, it looks similar to yellow jessamine).

The yellow flowers themselves look identical to me on both kinds of dandelions, though this one below didn't have a ball of unopened petals in the middle. Its petals were all open.

It's like when as a kid, I learned the difference between white oak which has the round/curve-edged leaves versus black oak which has the pointy-edged leaves, not to mention, blackjack oak.

faster fluff

Monday, May 15th, 2017 11:24 pm
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Today I learned that cutting down yellow dandelions right before they go all seed-heady doesn't stop it from happening. Instead, it makes it happen even faster. In retrospect, it makes sense.

I actually had wanted to gather the cut stalks yesterday and trash them after using the string trimmer to cut them down, but didn't have time. Today after coming home from work, I was surprised to see a bunch of white fluffy spheres at ground level. But at least they hadn't blown away yet, so I was still able to gather most of them up into a plastic bag.

Earlier yesterday, I had driven by a yard which was full of dandelion seed heads. When I saw that a few of mine were getting seed heads too, is when I decided that I'd better cut mine down before I had seeds all over my yard.

I like having a smallish patch of dandelions, but I don't really want a yard full of them. So I try to compromise by letting some of them grow in that one place where they've always grown, part of the year, and weeding them from the rest of the yard.

There's more to this story, about how the dandelions are like my christmas tree, but I need to go to bed.
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The day before yesterday, there was a tickle at the bottom of my leg, and I found a flea. I grabbed it, and unsure of what to do, held it in a stream of water at the bathroom faucet for a long time. Then I let the water wash it down the drain, and ran the water for a while longer. I was afraid it might still be alive, and might jump back out.

In the past when we had cats, I remembered submerging any caught fleas into a cup of water mixed with dishwashing liquid to drown them.

Yesterday evening, it happened again, in the same bathroom. I don't remember ever finding fleas in the house before*, so I believe it was the same flea. This time, I took it to the kitchen, dumped some water and dishwashing liquid into a plastic container, and held it submerged in that for a while before letting go.

(Feeling the flea struggling in my grasp. Trying to drown the poor thing a second time, after it survived the first traumatic attempt. I'm such a bad person. Life is so cruel. I don't like killing, but fleas are one of the few things that I long ago decided should always be killed, because of the severe misery they can inflict on other beings, and because there's no way to peacefully coexist with them.)

This morning, the flea was motionless at the bottom of the container. But now I don't trust dumping it down the drain again. And I don't want to dump it in the yard. So I considered dumping it outside the fence, to be on the safe side.

But first... how long does it take a flea to drown? The answers given on this page are rather scary:

Can dish soap really be used to kill ticks and fleas?

Now I've decided to leave the flea soaking for at least another day.

*Our dogs have been at Qiao's house the past week rather than here. But I've been going over to feed the neighbor's dogs this last week, while they were away on a trip. One of their dogs had a bad flea problem in the past from what they told me, so I think the flea must have jumped on me while I was in their yard. Although I didn't notice their dogs scratching much while I was there.

google weirdness

Saturday, May 13th, 2017 02:25 am
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This search query ("I'm the fire of your") returns 5 results:

This search query ("I'm the fire of your desire") returns 10 results:

*and* the 2nd one says at the bottom, "In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries very similar to the 10 already displayed. If you like, you can repeat the search with the omitted results included."

It doesn't make sense. Yeah, I got the lyrics wrong, but still, it doesn't make sense that adding more words to an exact-match query (within quotes) makes it return more results.

Hmmm. Google must automatically filter out pages with the word "desire" unless you specifically use it in your query. Or maybe it filters it when you put it together with another word like fire. Maybe if I were logged into a Google account when doing my queries, and had my settings set to not filter anything, it would act differently.
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About 6 years ago at work, I set up an online group on one of the corporate websites intended for that purpose. It was a group for our developers to share information and post questions & answers. Many coworkers joined the group, and it got a good bit of use in the first years (about 180 posts/threads). But the activity eventually lessened, and the last post was 2 years ago (for various reasons, I suppose).

Recently all group owners were notified that the website was being shut down soon, in favor of some other new site on different technology. We were told that if we wanted to save our group's content, no tools were being provided for doing so, but that we could copy and paste the content into Word documents.

I harrumphed at the thought. Opening each and every post, and copying/pasting it into a Word doc? You've got to be kidding. As the group hadn't even been used in 2 years, and much of the info there was no longer pertinent, there didn't seem much point in trying to save the content.

But yesterday I took some screenshots of the pages which listed the post titles, for memory's sake, or nostalgia, or because maybe that could somehow be useful.

Today a coworker emailed me a question. It reminded me of one of those posts, which explained how to find the foreign key relationships of a table in SQL Explorer. So I went back and read that post. It helped me answer the question.

Then I wondered if I could find an easier way to save the group data after all. I discovered that each thread had an option for saving to a PDF file - and to get that PDF, you only had to append ".pdf" to the URL of the thread's page.

If I could get a list of all those URLs, then I could save off the PDFs. Scrolling through the posts, 20 titles & URLs are shown per page. So I saved off about 10 HTML pages like that. Then I used File Locator Pro (an awesome tool; I highly recommend it) to parse out the URLs along with the titles. I used a reg-ex search query, and saved off the matches, using this method: export just the content found by a regex expression.

Then I determined how to save off the PDFs from the URLs. After logging into the website in my browser, entering the command "start firefox [URL]" in a command window would open the URL in a new tab of the browser. So I divided the URLs into groups of 10, and used a batch file to open the URLs, ten at a time. (I didn't want to do all 180 at once, as I had a feeling that would either crash the browser and/or get me into some kind of trouble, as in who's this person fetching a zillion pages from our webserver all at once?).

Then I used a Firefox plugin, Mozilla Archive Format, to save all open tabs to a MAFF file. A MAFF file is a zip file containing a folder for each tab. Each folder has an index.html (or in my case index.pdf) file, along with a RDF file which has metadata including the page's original filename.

So, once I had saved off MAFF files for all the URLs (about 18 MAFF files), I unzipped them all, extracted the PDFs, used another batch file to rename them back to the original numeric filenames (which puts the posts in order by date), and to include the post titles as part of the filenames.

For creating the batch files, I use Notepad++'s column editing to edit a bunch of lines at once, and macros to apply the same changes to each line.

And voila, I now have the group's entire content exported as PDF files which can be browsed or searched. And it only took me a few hours to do, most of which was figuring out how to do it as opposed to actually doing it.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the files now, but at least I have them.

Figuring out how to do things like that makes me feel clever.
darkoshi: (Default)
I've decided which phone to buy. The Moto G4 Play has pretty good specs (it has 2GB RAM, not 1/2 GB as I originally thought), for a good price.


This is the most chewed-on tree trunk by the pond.

These are Catalpa tree blossoms. The photo is from 2015, but the tree has blossoms this year too. The blossoms are about the size of big popcorn, and don't have much scent. But a clump of honeysuckle is also growing by the tree, the lovely sweet scent of which has fooled me a few times.

I found this growing in the ground in Qiao's yard. At first glance they look like fallen red blossoms, but what is that black tarry gunk on them? It's one of the strangest looking things. Per the internet, they are called starfish fungus. I saw one by the pond at work too, an odd coincidence, as I don't ever remember seeing these before. But then again, maybe I did and simply thought they were fallen blossoms.

While walking along, do you ever have a sudden amusing thought that makes you break out in a big grin?
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I ate 3 dandelion/cat's ear flowers today. They were not sweet. They tasted pretty similar to the green leaves, slightly bitter. The leaves were hairy, but not as unpleasant as chewing on under-ripe peach peel. I could probably eat a plate of it if I had to.

[Edited to add, 2017/05/13: I ate 4 more of the flowers today, after even more carefully peeling off the green parts than last time. They still don't taste sweet, nor particularly good. They taste a little like raw celery but without the crunch. Ie., not bad, but not special either. I wonder if "true" dandelions have any different flavor to them.]

A reminder that there are a lot of mis-facts on the web...
Nutritional Information on Dandelion Root : The image at the top of the page is neither dandelion nor false dandelion. It looks like coltsfoot.

Cat’s Ear: Backyard ‘Weed’ With Super-Antioxidant Properties : This page says: One identifying characteristic of cat’s ear is its leaves; they are sharply toothed and more asymmetrical than the leaves of dandelion. But that is not true. Cat's ear leaves are more rounded than regular dandelion.

I'm sort of amazed at the details I got in some of these photos. When looking at the flowers in the yard, they all pretty much look like the 5th one below. In the sunshine, the clump of unopened petals in the center of some of them aren't very noticeable.

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False Dandelions For Lunch

Dandelions, True or False?

Wild edibles: How to eat and identify cat's ear / flatweed / false dandelion (video, posted by wildsuperfoods)

Foraging Notes: The False Dandelion (video, posted by Survivalkraft)

Both people in those videos have said the false dandelion flowers are sweet. Now I am very curious, and am going to taste them in the coming days.
The leaves on my dandelions are close to the ground, so they tend to be dirty as well as hairy. But maybe I'll try some of them too. I'll probably need to cook them, as I don't even like eating peach skins, due to the fuzz that scratches my throat.
I've already tasted some root, raw, from 2 of the largest ones I pulled up while weeding last weekend. (Even so, they're fairly small and narrow). The root's not particularly tasty, but not bad either. It's rather dry, so I'm soaking the remainder in water to make it crunchier.
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It occurred to me that I wasn't clear on the differences between a badger, otter, beaver... not to mention, weasel, muskrat, mink, ferret...

Badger and Otter - best of friends (video).

Animal Identification Throwdown: Otter vs. Beaver vs. Muskrat

Animal ID Throwdown Follow-Up: Whither the Mink?

Muskrats and beavers are rodents. Most or all of the others are in the weasel family "Mustelidae".

This year, some of the trees by the pond at work have had the bark chewed off near the bottom. So I'm thinking, beavers. Though I haven't seen them.

phone shucks

Saturday, May 6th, 2017 02:26 am
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Back to my quest for a newer cell phone.

Based on my criteria:
- should support a fairly recent version of Android
- removable battery
- support reading very large microSD cards - at least 256 GB
- not too big or heavy
- preferably under $200, so a used but working phone (though some of my possible choices ended up being < $300 used)

I had previously come up with these models: LG G4, LG G5, LG V10

Now I found out that all 3 of those models have a hardware issue that can cause a bootloop. If I buy a used phone, besides the increased risk of getting a bad phone to begin with, if it only develops problems later on, I wouldn't be able to get any warranty support for it.

Now what do I do. There really were very few models I found that had removable batteries.

There was another model, the Moto G, which I previously read conflicting info about the battery. I think I've figured it out now. The regular Moto G4 doesn't have a removable battery. But the Moto G4 *Play* does. But it only has half a gig of RAM. Surely that's not enough for a good experience? Seems I misread the specs. The page I was looking at said 1 slash 2, which must indicate it comes with either 1 or 2 GB RAM. But the GSM Arena page says 2 GB.

Ah, phew. GSM Arena lets you search by features such as the battery, and it shows a lot more than I saw before.

woodpeckers! argh!

Thursday, May 4th, 2017 08:35 am
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This morning was the 2nd time in the last week that a woodpecker has woken me up early by banging on the (vinyl) bedroom window frame. Yelling at it from the bed does no good. Last time, I banged back on the window from the inside, and that didn't stop it either. Opening the curtain, window or door is a sure method to get my heart rate up even further and to make it harder for me to fall back asleep, and by then the bird is gone anyway.


Thursday, May 4th, 2017 12:04 am
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Video title: "SEAGULLS! (Stop It Now)" -- A Bad Lip Reading of The Empire Strikes Back
Posted by: Bad Lip Reading

keeping track

Sunday, April 30th, 2017 07:04 pm
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Some of my notes files are becoming inconvenient. I've got so many different files now... for things about this house, things about that house, things about the dogs, things about other people, etc.

But a lot of times, those things overlap, and later I don't remember which file I wrote something in.

For example, I was just wondering which day exactly it was that Serena last got out of the fence... it was in the last few weeks. I had to check several files, and still didn't find it mentioned. Maybe I didn't write it down.

I've also started to want to have one place where I can check to see what was going on in my life on any particular day... right now that info, if I wrote it down, may be spread across many different files, or even posted to DW.

What I need is a personal DW-type blog, on my local machine, just for personal stuff, where I could add tags to each entry, so that if I wanted to check info I wrote down about Zorro, for example, I could check that tag. This is stuff I don't want to be saved to an internet server, even though most of the info is quite mundane.

But installing a local version of DW is probably overkill. Or is it? It'd be nice to have the same interface I'm used to.
I'd want something open-source, and preferably something where I could export the data into other formats if necessary.

Would WordPress do what I want? Can it be installed locally, and is it light-weight?

TiddlyWiki sounds interesting. But I'm not sure about the interface.

And right now I'm feeling anxious for no important reason, so I can't spend more time thinking about this topic right now.

Now why was it that I wanted to know which day Serena got out?...
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Vitamin & Mineral interactions chart
Sneaky Vitamin and Mineral Interactions

Taking A, C, iron together is good.
But don't combine iron calcium or zinc.

Taking Calcium & D together is good. (and E, Selenium, Zinc). (and A).

Most minerals compete with each other.
Magnesium & Zinc reduce absorption of calcium, and vice versa.

But I have Calcium+Magnesium+Zinc tablets... is that a good thing? Ie., if you're taking more of one of them, you should take more of the others too, to make sure you don't get deficient in them? Or is it pointless to take them together?


Every once in a while I read something that makes me think "I should try supplementing with ***, maybe it will help my ***."

The latest such *** was magnesium. I had read that if you're deficient in magnesium, that can prevent vitamin D from being absorbed (and possibly vice versa, that taking a lot of D can make you deficient in magnesium). Both Qiao and I already take vitamin D supplements. I also read that magnesium deficiency can cause "nerve and muscle problems, such as muscle twitches".

So I thought, maybe taking magnesium will help these nerve issues I've been having. (And more lately, knee/joint issues.) I read that even though magnesium is plentiful in food, many people are deficient in it. For a while, I was taking one Tums tablet each morning for extra calcium. But maybe taking extra calcium like that without extra magnesium, was bad. I had since stopped taking the Tums anyway, due to quandaries as to whether doing so was any good.

Then I looked for magnesium supplements in the store, and found the above-mentioned Calcium+Magnesium+Zinc combo (each tablet ~33% RDA), and decided to try it. I don't like swallowing a lot of pills, so I've been crushing 2 tablets with a pill crusher each morning. If I mix the crushed tablet with a small amount of Kashi cereal (the kind which is like shredded wheat) and soymilk, it tastes ok. (Other things I tried mixing it in with, even a different kind of cereal, didn't taste good.)

According to the 2nd article, fiber decreases magnesium absorption. Kashi cereal and the other stuff I eat for breakfast tends to be high in fiber. (Fiber is supposed to be good for you!) But hopefully not enough to nullify the potential benefit of the magnesium.


Before that, rather recently actually, *** was Vitamin K. I don't even remember why... maybe for my bones or teeth.

According to this page on vitamin K, it works together with vitamin D. So maybe it's good to take the calcium/magnesium/zinc, and the D, and the K in the morning all together. Along with my cereal and soymilk, which provides some fat for the fat-soluble D & K vitamins.


Those dancers I posted vids of, their hand movements: Reminds me of how I tend to move my hands while dancing. (and OMG, that Illan dancer reminds me of !me! somehow, like that is totally how I would look dancing, if I had a flat chest, and if I were still young and flexible.) (BODY ENVY) But at the moment, I can't even imagine moving my hands and wrists like that without them getting very achy. I'm quite sure the best remedy for that would be for me to get more sleep, as opposed to any supplements. I do try, I really do.

Edits post again: Now, not to say that I'm old or decrepit. I am still rather flexible, just a bit out of shape, and these achy wrists don't help. I know I still got a pretty damn good body for the most part. But still, BODY ENVY, like that is totally! how I should look.
In that performance, he even did the !spinning! thing exactly like I used to like doing. But my *old*decrepit* head can't do it anymore without feeling sick and dizzy from it.
darkoshi: (Default)
...and their videos are fun to watch:

Video title: Raise A Little Hell - Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band
Posted by: bigdamnbandofficial

Video title: The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band - "Devils Look Like Angels"
Posted by: SideOneDummy

Video title: We Deserve a Happy Ending Official Music Video
Posted by: bigdamnbandofficial
darkoshi: (Default)
These dancers are amazing.

Video title: Фестиваль"Шемахинская баядерка" Яна Кремнева
(Festival "Shemakha Bayadere" by Yana Kremneva)
Posted by: Tany Cat

Video title: Habibi Lal, КИРА ЛЕБЕДЕВА, Украина | TRIBAL BEAT FEST 2016 (Kira Lebedeva
Posted by: TribalBeatDanceCompany

There are quite a few male bellydancers too.

Video title: Tribal Fusion Belly Dance - Eliran Amar at Tribal Fest Budapest
Posted by: Eliran Amar

Video title: Rachel Brice & Illan & Mardi Love @ Tribal Fest 13
Posted by: Tribal Fest 13 Halfway to Halloween
darkoshi: (Default)
This is very disturbing: Chechnya’s president: I will eliminate the gay community by the start of Ramadan

Rainbow Railroad - a Canadian organization that helps LGBT people escape persecution and violence. They are making Chechnya a priority right now.

American Friends of the Rainbow Railroad - if you are a U.S. tax-payer, this site lets you make tax-deductible donations to the Canadian organization.

Other ways to help


Tuesday, April 18th, 2017 12:18 am
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The other night, around midnight, I went to check my mailbox. There were 2 youths/teenagers walking up the street at the same time - I had seen them before leaving my yard, and had a brief thought that I could just wait until they had walked on by. Because shy little me doesn't like having to interact with other people. But that would be acting like I was afraid of them, and I wasn't. They weren't giving off any bad vibes. So I headed down the street, enjoying the night air. As I approached them, I heard one of them say, fairly loudly, "Spect!" In the first moment, I thought he must be saying something to the other guy, but I wasn't sure... so I just dipped my head in greeting as I walked past. By then it was too late to say anything anyway. I got the mail, walked on back, and kept thinking about it. He must have been saying "Respect". Was that a greeting? Oh dear, maybe he was greeting me in a friendly way, and I just walked on by without saying anything. Maybe they didn't even see me dip my head. Maybe now they think I'm an unfriendly snob.

There have been a few times when I've said hello to other strangers while walking by them in this neighborhood, and they didn't say anything back. (That may be why I really wasn't expecting these two to say anything to me.) That gave me a feeling like... not that I clearly remember... like they were thinking "Why are you talking to me?" But I brushed it off, thinking maybe they didn't hear me, or were just surprised at being talked to. Or whatever, not important. So maybe this is what it's like from the other side.

After getting back inside, I googled whether "Respect" is ever used as a greeting. Apparently it is, in Jamaica.

Another reason why I'd rather just nod my head in greeting to people, is that if I hear them say something that sounds like a greeting, even if they are alone, they may really just be speaking on their cellphone, with an earpiece... Had it happen a few times where I replied "Hi" to someone, and then felt chagrined, realizing they were talking on their phone.
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One thing that seems not to have been brought over during the times when I imported entries to my DW account from my LJ account, are the "memorable entries" or "memories". Ie., an indication of which entries I had flagged as memorable. On LJ, I had 5 posts tagged as memorable, but my DW profile shows 0 memories. So for anyone who is doing imports, I suggest you double-check that afterwards.

Last weekend, I deleted all my old entries from LJ using LJ-Sec. I wasn't able to delete them all at once - when I first tried, it gave an error about exceeding the posting limit for the hour. Then I used a work-around to do the deletes in smaller chunks. Even that way had issues, which I now realize may have been due to the LJ servers being overloaded, from all the other people who were using DW's importer at the same time.

(Or maybe LJ-SEC is just glitchy. While in the process of deleting my entries, I noticed that many protected posts were still there, even though I *thought* I had successfully deleted them all last month. That is similar to the issues I had last week - even when LJ-SEC didn't give errors, it wasn't deleting all of the selected entries. I had to delete LJ-SEC's User Data folder and refresh the entries, and try again multiple times until everything was finally gone.)

Based on the DW Stats page, there have been (holey-moley!) over 250,000 new DW accounts created between 2017-04-04 and 2017-04-14 (look at the "newbyday" values). There are now over 3 million DW accounts (look at the "size" values), although only about 1 in 20 of them (154,000) have been "active" in the last month (ergo, simply creating a new account isn't enough for it to be considered active).

Update, 2017/04/16: (See more info in comments.) It turns out those account numbers include OpenID ones automatically created when importing comments, so the actually number of personal accounts is much less. This other DW stats page lists the total number of personal accounts now at 726,000, of which 164,000 have been active in the last month. I didn't find anything showing how many new personal accounts have been created in the last 2 weeks.


After doing the deletes, my LJ profile still showed 5 memories, along with broken links. I had to do a separate step to delete the broken links. It didn't occur to me to take notes on which entries those had been. But I do still have a clue, based on what I had tagged them by, as that is one thing I had saved to my notes. So I can probably find them again if I want to.

Edited to Add:
I just realized why memories may not be automatically brought over as part of an import. I see now that you can also mark other people's posts as memorable, not only your own. Obviously, an import deals with your own posts, not other people's posts, so even if there was functionality for copying memories, it would need to be limited to your own posts. Or it would need to support pointing to external URLs, which could be a problem.