darkoshi: (Default)
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.
darkoshi: (Default)
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.

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.

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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)
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.

Chickens and eggs

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016 12:02 am
darkoshi: (Default)
Interesting chicken and egg facts:
What does a hen do with unfertilised eggs
How long can fertile chicken eggs keep
such as:
Chickens don't know if eggs are fertile or not.
Some chicken breeds tend to be broody (wanting to sit on eggs) and some don't (it's been bred out of them).
In a natural habitat, a broody chicken will build a nest of eggs over a few weeks, laying about one a day. During this time, it won't sit on them but may hide them. The eggs will remain in "suspended animation". Other chickens may contribute eggs to the nest.
The fertile eggs don't start developing until the chicken starts sitting on them.
It takes 21 days after that for the eggs to hatch - all around the same time.

very touching

Saturday, March 5th, 2016 02:48 am
darkoshi: (Default)
If you didn't know that bulls could dance & prance and be affectionate, watch this video from an Animal rescue group/Sanctuary in Austria.



Video title: Gaucho-Tanz von Stier Bandit als Dank!
Posted by: Gut Aiderbichl
URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFO6LESkHDk


More info on the Gut Aiderbichl webpage, and more touching videos on their YouTube page.

and pinecones

Sunday, February 28th, 2016 01:43 am
darkoshi: (Default)
Revisited the crawlspaces today.

At my mom's house, I removed the electronic air cleaner front panel. The prior owners did get rid of the cells; the inside was empty except for a thin disposable filter. It was very dirty (reasonably so as my mom hadn't replaced it since moving into the house). My mom had bought a new one, so I replaced the dirty one with the clean one. With the front panel off, I could see into the return ducts. One of them appears to have insulation on the *inside*. It looked very dirty.

I removed the snake skin by the HVAC system, and found another snake skin by the exterior wall. It was next to an opening through which cables connect to the outside A/C unit and phone box. So that is likely where the snake(s) got in. My mom will close it off.

At the other house, I went down below to take another look at the humidifier I saw last week. I found the label with the model #, but no humidistat and no obvious way to power it off. I tried to turn off the water valve to it (because of the mold, we want to reduce the humidity in the house, not increase it), but then the valve started dripping, so I put a bucket underneath for now.

Maybe the house's mold problems is caused by the humidifier putting too much moisture in the air. Today with the heater on, the house smelled quite unpleasant to me again. Of course, now I'm envisioning a dirty moldy humidifier that may not have been cleaned out in ages, blowing mildewy air into the house, even though I have no proof yet that the unit is dirty inside.

Then I picked up pinecones and branches from the yard - last week was very windy.

Then I put up a pet gate in the house to keep the dogs away from the bedrooms. I'm unsatisfied with the gate though. It has 2 design flaws compared to the one at my house. The bottom catch doesn't work right (other people have mentioned the same problem in their reviews), and the whole gate occasionally lifts out of the hinges. Unfortunately the better model was discontinued and is no longer available. Now I'm considering getting a different brand instead, but that can wait. Maybe I'll get used to this one, or find a way of fixing the flaws.

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I also voted in the democratic primary today. I'm disappointed that Hillary won over Bernie, and by such a large margin. But I'd much rather have Hillary win than Trump or the other Republican candidates.

dirt ducts snakes

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016 11:30 pm
darkoshi: (Default)
Last weekend I mucked about in 2 crawlspaces.

At the new house, one of the ducts had been loose and leaking out hot air (hopefully the reason for the high gas usage last month). An HVAC technician fixed it, but I wanted to look around to make sure there was nothing else obviously wrong-looking down there, and to get photos of everything.

I explored a part of the crawlspace with my high-intensity flashlight, headlamp, and camera. But a big low-hanging duct blocked my way to the other half of the crawlspace.

I wondered how the HVAC guy had managed it. Surely if a small person like me couldn't get through, even slithering on my belly... I suddenly wondered if there was another entrance into the crawlspace. There were no other entrances around the outside of the house. But in the garage closet, I found an access hatch. Bingo! Qiao knew about it, but I hadn't thought of asking him before-hand.

So I went in that way, found the duct that the HVAC guy had repaired, and took a bunch more photos.






Then my mom told me that she had been in her crawlspace unsuccessfully trying to find out where one replaces the filters. Since I was full of dirt from the other crawlspace anyway, I offered to take a look. The headroom in her crawlspace is somewhat better than at the other house. It turns out her system has an electronic air filter which has been turned off since she got the house. I'll have to go back to check what is inside the unit; when I was down there, I didn't realize that the front panel can be pulled off. It's possible the original cells may have been removed and replaced with a disposable filter - that may be why the switch was turned off.

There was a surprise in my mom's crawlspace: a long long long snake skin winding around the HVAC system. A snake must have shed its skin. Or maybe multiple snakes. Or maybe one snake multiple times. It was so long that I hope it wasn't a single shedding from a single snake.

Now I know to watch out for snakes when crawling around in crawlspaces.



darkoshi: (Default)
Cute videos of baby goats!

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Our first daffodil bloomed on Feb 1. The stem got bent, so today I cut the flower and put it in a glass vase on the table. From a distance, it smells like sawdust, but up close it has a very floral scent.

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As of 12:36am we had bits of ice falling from the sky. It has stopped, but the forecast says it might snow overnight. If so, it will likely be melted by the time I get up. We already had a bit of snowfall on the morning Jan 23 too. If I hadn't been awakened by an early phone-call, I wouldn't have seen it.

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VeganEgg - another new vegan egg substitute. This one can even be used to make scrambled eggs. Its ingredients include nutritional yeast and black salt for the eggy flavor, the same as Vegg does... I wonder if they got the idea from Vegg. Vegg has a scrambled-egg product now too, which I hadn't known about. Vegg Scramble uses a different main ingredient than VeganEgg does though (soy protein isolate vs algal flour & algal protein), so I wonder how they compare.

It's getting hard to keep up with all the new vegan products available!

possum, dogs

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015 02:14 am
darkoshi: (Default)
About a week ago at daybreak, Zorro was barking at an opossum in a tree. It looked young to me, and scared.



I tied both dogs up by the front porch to allow the opossum time to escape, and went back to sleep. Later, the opossum was gone.

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The thyroid medicine seems to be doing Serena a lot of good. She is much more active than before. When I take the dogs for a walk, I no longer have to walk slower for her, nor carry her when she gets tired. She pulls on the leash as much as Zorro now - like she did when she was younger.

Serena has lost a lot of weight, and looks more like she did when she was younger, too. Now you can tell that she's a pug mix rather than a full-blooded pug. She also seems to be completely shedding her old coat of fur and growing new fur. She's even regrowing hair on the top of her tail, which had been bare for as long as I could remember. Her nose is back to normal too.

After 4 weeks of being on the medicine, the vet rechecked her levels, and said they are on the high side of normal, which is what they like to see for dogs on the medicine. The vet will check her again after another month.

ginnickity kinnickinny

Thursday, July 16th, 2015 11:32 pm
darkoshi: (Default)
While thinking about the pronunciation of words starting with 'kn', I realized that in English the 'k' is always or nearly always silent. Whereas in German, both the 'k' and 'n' are spoken.

Then I thought about words starting with 'gn'. Again, in English the 'g' is nearly always silent (the GNU software term being an exception). Whereas in German, both the 'g' and 'n' are spoken.

And I was thinking, maybe that is why I always want to pronounce the 'g' in the English word 'gnome'.

Tonight I found a website that provides both British and American pronunciations of words.

http://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/pronunciation/british/gnome

http://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/pronunciation/british/gnu

http://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/pronunciation/british/gnocchi

http://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/pronunciation/british/gnomic

http://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/pronunciation/british/gnawing

British, like German, seems to generally be spoken with a higher pitch than American English (or maybe it seems that way due to its vowels being spoken higher in the throat?).

I started mimicking the online pronunciations. You know, how when you say the same word over and over again, it gets funny?

Gnome. Gn^oem. Gnoume. Gneoum. Gnome. Nu. N^u Nu N^u... Nocky! Nokey. Nocky! No Key. No Key.
Nong. Noing. Nong. Noing!

Zorro didn't like it. She left the room.

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A few days ago while walking to my car, I realized that people's names and faces were coming very easily to my mind. I tested myself, thinking of more and more coworkers, even from long ago. There were only a few I couldn't easily name. It seemed quite surprising to me, as usually there's a significant pause between me thinking of someone and remembering their name (if I'm able to come up with a name at all).

A couple days later I tried again, but my memory seemed back to normal, ie. not easily remembering many names.

So I wonder, what could cause memory changes like that?

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Something else I've wondered: Where do slugs go in the daytime?
Google? Ah, ok. So I'm not the only one who has wondered that.
darkoshi: (Default)
Zorro probably wonders why loud music always starts playing right after ze gets comfy and starts grooming zirself.

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Zorro probably wonders why loud music always starts playing right after they get comfy and start grooming themself.

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[personal profile] marahmarie questioned what pronoun to use for a burping squirrel, and it got me thinking.

There's not much point in using gendered pronouns for animals, as usually there's no need to distinguish them based on their sex. For example, "That bird is squawking so loud, it's giving me a headache." When there is a need to point out an animal's sex, one can simply say so: "That's a male bird"; "That's a female bird".

The pronoun "it" is gender-neutral but also impersonal/depersonalizing. We don't usually call a companion animal "it", but rather "he" or "she", because "it" sounds too impersonal. Generally, we know the sex of our companion animals, so we know which gendered pronoun to use.

Even so, calling animals "he" or "she" based on their sex seems silly to me sometimes. Those pronouns evoke mental gender-related connotations and stereotypes which are even more ridiculous when applied to animals than when applied to people*.

It's not usually obvious however, what sex an unfamiliar animal is. So one can either call it "it", or one can guess and call it "he" or "she".

If some gender-neutral pronoun other than "it" came into common usage for people, we could use it for animals too, both familiar and unfamiliar ones. We would no longer need to distinguish between them based on their sex, nor depersonalize them.

If that happened, I wonder if it would also affect how people think of animals in general. Would people start to feel more kinship/empathy for them? Would people who are unable to feel such empathy tend to call animals "it" while people who felt empathy would use the other pronoun?


* A character in a book I'm reading, in saying good-bye to his horse, said (translated from German) "You're the prettiest, smartest, and most dependable companion one could ever wish for." It was a female horse. If the horse were male, I doubt the character would have called it pretty. Yet, are female horses prettier than male horses? I think not.

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I was also thinking that while "they" is gaining traction as a gender-neutral pronoun, it would be good to have another option. One to use when we don't know or care about a person's gender, and another for people whose gender we know is other than male or female.

The singular pronoun "they" can already be used for both cases. But due to the first usage, it feels somewhat impersonal and distancing. While I don't mind being called "they" (and sometimes would appreciate it), it's not really my preferred pronoun.

But having 2 such pronouns might bring about too many complexities.

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The thoughts that spark a post like this take only a few minutes in my head. Why then, does it take me over 2 hours to put those thoughts into coherent written form? And even then, the sentences feel awkward, and I feel like I'm leaving out half of what I wanted to write?

fawn

Thursday, June 11th, 2015 12:02 am
darkoshi: (Default)
Driving through the parking lot at work this morning, I was thinking about blackberries, and driving slowly to check a couple of spots where I had seen berry bushes in prior years.

While doing so, I saw a small animal walking down the sidewalk, right next to the wooded area. A baby deer? But it was so small, the size of a cat. I paused, then drove slowly by to get a better look.

Maybe it was a young goose that had gotten separated from its parents; it was about that size too... It started running when it noticed me. Its running gait looked similar to a hare's. But when it stopped and turned to look at me, I saw clearly that it was a cute little fawn. Long ears, spots on its back, skinny legs. It disappeared into the trees.

I didn't realize that baby deer could be so small. I envisioned them being larger than that at birth. Bambi from the movie always seemed bigger than that to me.

spring time

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015 10:19 pm
darkoshi: (Default)
Yellow: A few daffodils were out some weeks ago. Now there are flowering forsythia bushes (I looked up what they are called!), and sweet-smelling jessamine along the fence.

Pinkish-white: Elegant long-petaled magnolia blossoms, already completely replaced by young green leaves. A tree full of blossoms (possibly bradford pear; I'm not sure) by the side of the house. Puffs of a flowering almond bush (I looked up what it is called!) by the front windows.

Red: A single tulip.

Purple: The sweet-smelling wisteria is on the way.

Barking: woof woof woof

Falling blossoms: nature's confetti

Unusual: A Canadian goose taking a nap in the middle of the road. The other lane, and no traffic in that direction, but still.

Turtles: turtles, squirrels.

The Flying Turkey

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014 08:46 pm
darkoshi: (Default)
Wouldn't that be a good name for a pub or inn?

Today at work, I saw... no, not flying turkeys. But wild turkeys! Three or four of them. First I thought they were buzzards, as they had a similar-sized dark body and light-colored head. But they were in a wooded area I'd never seen the buzzards in before. And they didn't walk in that funny-cute way that I've buzzards walk. Their legs were longer, they had long tail feathers, and part of their neck was pinkish. And I saw one pecking at the ground.

After watching them for a while, I decided to stop staring at them in so obvious a manner. This time of year is not safe for turkeys. For all I know, if the wrong person came along, they might pull a rifle out of their trunk, and shoot them for dinner. Though I suppose people would get in trouble shooting or even having a fire-arm on company grounds.

Later I started wondering if wild turkeys fly. I figured they must be able to, in order to escape predators. Yep, they do.
darkoshi: (Default)
When I walk by the ponds at work, I often hear a squeak followed by a splash - frogs jumping into the water upon noticing me. No matter how quietly I walk or how intently I look, I never see them; I only see the rippling water after the squeak!splash!. I don't know how big or small they are or what they look like. I assume they are frogs though.

One day while leaving work last week, it was already dusk. Outside, I saw a large frog hopping across the sidewalk! It stopped a moment while I gleefully watched it. But it was too dark to see any details; I only saw its general shape. It hopped away in a very frog-like manner.

poor little things

Thursday, May 29th, 2014 06:59 pm
darkoshi: (Default)
The wildlife company found droppings in the attic too. I hadn't thought to check up there lately.

Yesterday, they placed snap traps in both the crawlspace and attic. Today upon checking them, I found 2 dead rats in the crawlspace, and another in the attic.

What I had read indicated that rats tend to avoid new objects. I wasn't sure there were any rodents still here to be caught, and certainly wasn't expecting any to be caught the first night.

Now I'm a premeditated killer of roaches, fire ants, and rats.

I wonder why they come into the house. There isn't any food they can get too, that I'm aware of.
The wildlife company is going to better seal the crawlspace vents, and gaps along the roof line.

yay for India

Saturday, January 25th, 2014 11:04 am
darkoshi: (Default)
Dolphins gain unprecedented protection in India:

In a statement, the government said research had clearly established cetaceans are highly intelligent and sensitive, and that dolphins "should be seen as 'non-human persons' and as such should have their own specific rights."
...
India is the fourth country in the world to ban the capture and import of cetaceans for the purpose of commercial entertainment - along with Costa Rica, Hungary, and Chile.