darkoshi: (Default)
2017-05-26 12:54 am
Entry tags:

synchronous fireflies

How can I have lived here this long, without having heard about this phenomenon before?

Synchronized fireflies lighting skies at Congaree National Park
darkoshi: (Default)
2017-05-23 10:57 pm
Entry tags:

Alice Phoebe Lou

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)
2017-05-23 08:30 pm
Entry tags:

sweet dreams and the seven seas

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)
2017-05-20 06:59 pm
Entry tags:

Breyer's non-dairy ice cream

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...
darkoshi: (Default)
2017-05-19 09:30 am


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.
darkoshi: (Default)
2017-05-18 09:58 pm
Entry tags:

Federal Subscriber Line Charge

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.

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.
darkoshi: (Default)
2017-05-18 09:43 am
Entry tags:

never see the same

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.

darkoshi: (Default)
2017-05-15 11:24 pm
Entry tags:

faster fluff

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.
darkoshi: (Default)
2017-05-13 02:08 pm
Entry tags:

flea survival underwater

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.
darkoshi: (Default)
2017-05-13 02:25 am
Entry tags:

google weirdness

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.
darkoshi: (Default)
2017-05-13 01:24 am
Entry tags:

we's got it yeah baby we's got it

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)
2017-05-12 12:24 am

gnawed trunk, catalpa, starfish fungus

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?
darkoshi: (Default)
2017-05-10 12:47 am
Entry tags:

my dandelions are not sweet

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.

darkoshi: (Default)
2017-05-08 10:42 pm
Entry tags:

my dandelions are false

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.
darkoshi: (Default)
2017-05-07 11:28 pm
Entry tags:

weaselly little animals

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.
darkoshi: (Default)
2017-05-06 02:26 am
Entry tags:

phone shucks

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.
darkoshi: (Default)
2017-05-04 08:35 am
Entry tags:

woodpeckers! argh!

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.
darkoshi: (Default)
2017-05-04 12:04 am
Entry tags:


Video title: "SEAGULLS! (Stop It Now)" -- A Bad Lip Reading of The Empire Strikes Back
Posted by: Bad Lip Reading
URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9t-slLl30E
darkoshi: (Default)
2017-04-30 07:04 pm
Entry tags:

keeping track

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?...