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.

things found

Monday, April 3rd, 2017 09:45 am
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In Facebook, if you send a message to someone who isn't connected to you (not even indirectly), is it possible they won't even be shown the message, depending on their settings? Or in the latter case, would you not even be given the option to send them a message?

Yesterday while picking up trash by the side of the street, I found a purse with a drivers license and other cards still in it. Based on the name and photo on the DL, I found their FB page and sent them a message, but haven't gotten a reply yet, so was wondering.

There was another time I found a DL by the street. That one was without a purse, just lying on the ground, and was bent/damaged looking, so I wasn't sure if it had been thrown away on purpose. I mailed it to the address listed on it anyway, just in case.

Yesterday, there was also a pair of purple shorts in the road (the other road, not near the purse). They looked clean, so I just moved them out of the roadway in case someone comes back for them. There was also a clean white sock, which I figured no one would come for, so I trashed it. Later I realized maybe they were from the same source... maybe someone was returning from a laundromat and dropped a few things. Who knows.

snowy day

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014 06:15 pm
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Saw some people sledding down the road this afternoon. They had 2 real sleds; the old wood & curved metal variety.

I actually shoveled snow today! I shoveled the steps to the garage this morning, and again this evening to get off the additional layer of compacted snow/ice that had accumulated since then. I also cleared off part of the front steps hoping that it would make Serena more inclined to go out to "potty". I'm still not sure if she's done her business at all today.

Took the dogs for a short walk. I thought that Serena wouldn't even be willing to go as far as the gate, but she was a trooper and walked the whole way with Zorro and me. Zorro was in a playful mood after seeing the people on the sleds. She would have been running and jumping if she hadn't been on the leash.

A few hours later and the snowy stuff has started to ice over.

I'm been watching out my window as a big ole pickup truck keeps going forwards and back, trying to make it up the hill after turning the corner. It's not succeeding. I wonder why the person in the truck wants to drive that way so badly.

Now I've finished writing this whole post, and that pickup truck is still at it. It's not stuck in place; it just keeps reversing backwards around the corner, and then trying to turn and drive up that hill again (instead of turning left).

Boy. It's gone now. Maybe it finally made it.
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My neighbors asked me about an unfamiliar dog they saw in my yard yesterday, along with my 2 regular dogs. They said it was a pit bull and that it was friendly - they were able to pet it over the fence. But when Qiao and I got home an hour later, there was no extra dog in my yard. I have no idea how a dog that size could have snuck both into and out of my yard. I believe the perimeter is fairly secure, considering what I had to do to keep Serena from getting out when she was younger.
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So many creative Halloween ideas!


Yesterday evening, we had the porch light off, the curtains closed, the dogs in the house, and the gate closed. I hadn't put up any decorations or bought any candy. (I wore my bright red wig to work, but that was it.) Yet around 8:30pm, someone was yelling trick-or-treat from outside and I heard the gate rattle. I thought that perhaps my niece or nephew had stopped by. But it was some lady with a small kid at the gate. I said, "Sorry, I don't have anything", and so they left. Afterwards, I felt bad for the kid, and remembered that I did have a few wrapped chocolates I could have given away. Later I also remembered the packets of peanut butter crackers. But as I totally didn't expect a situation like that, I hadn't planned for it.

I think the lady may have brought her kid trick-or-treating to my house in past years. I remember someone speaking to me on the street a year or 2 ago, saying they were glad I did Halloween as there are so few houses to take their kids to nowadays.

But there was also a lady last year who started harassing me, repeatedly asking me (and Qiao) for money. She would come to the gate and yell out until I came out to speak to her. The first time, she needed money for food because her sister had left her kids with her. The next time, her mom was in the hospital, dying, and she needed money to go there and stay with her. (After her mother died, she gave me one of the flyers from the funeral service. It looked real.) Then her sister (a different one, maybe) who had come for the funeral needed bus money to get back home to NC. Those first few times I gave her $20 to $40. The last time, she said she needed help with rent or bills. By then I realized she wasn't going to stop until I did, so I refused to give her any more money. I had already said one of the prior times, that it was the last time, anyway. As I walked back to the house, she even started yelling at me in an unpleasant tone. What little sympathy I had left evaporated.

So maybe it was *that* lady. But I still feel sorry for the kid.
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On New Year's Eve around 10pm, I heard sirens, so I lifted a curtain to look outside. Rather than seeing a fire truck rushing by, it stopped right there in the road, and I saw a line of BRIGHT FIERY ORANGE FLAMES!!

There had been 2 loud (very nearby) booms earlier in the evening, from people nearby shooting fireworks. But then Qiao and I had started watching a movie, and hadn't paid much attention to the goings-on outside.

One of those early fireworks must have landed on the other side of the road. The grass and shrubbery was aflame. Fortunately, there are no houses on that side of the road. As I saw a burning ember wisp into the air towards my side of the street, I realized the fire could be a danger to my house, if it managed to cross the street.

But the firefighters did a good job in quickly putting out the flames. The fire didn't spread very far. By the time I thought to get my camera, the flames were mostly out.

I did take some photos the next day of the charred ground where the fire had been.

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Based on the current vote tally, in South Carolina, Romney got 54.67% of the vote, and Obama got 43.98%. Here in Richland County, one of the state's more urban areas, Obama got 65.77% and Romney got 32.86%.

Based on some census figures, South Carolina's population is 68.4% white and 28.1% black. Richland County is 48.9% white and 46.3% black. As a kid, it always surprised me to hear that blacks were a minority in SC, as at my schools (also in Richland County), it seemed that at least half the students were black. It still surprises me sometimes, considering how many black people I see in my day to day life (other than at work).

In spite of Richland County having almost the same percentage of blacks and whites, some neighborhoods and institutions are mostly one or the other. At my place of employment, I'd estimate that 10% or less of the people I work with are black (I'll use that term here for simplicity, rather than "African-American"). That's probably true, even without counting the people who are here from our India and Vietnam offices on temporary work visas. On the other hand, the support personnel (security guards, cleaning crew) are nearly all black. Most of the people in higher paying jobs, with higher education, seem to be white. Even at the hospitals, from what I've seen, most of the nursing and medical staff are white.

Many churches (in my limited experience) are mostly white or black. When I go to some grocery stores, nearly all the other people I see there are black. In other grocery stores, there's a more even mix of races.

My neighborhood must be mostly black, although it doesn't seem that way to me, as two of the nearby neighboring families are white. Whenever I go to vote, nearly all the other voters are black. It was the same way in my last precinct, when I was still living with Forestfen. During last week's vote, that is one of the reasons I would have felt very uncomfortable having been allowed to skip standing in line, due to Qiao's (temporary) disability. It would have felt like I was being given privilege due to my skin color, even though I know it wouldn't truly have been due to that. Other than me and Qiao, there might have been 1 or 2 white people standing in line (possibly not even that) during the entire time we were there, compared to probably over 100 black people.

sha la la shine

Saturday, December 17th, 2011 01:14 am
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As of today, I'm on vacation until January. This year, I put up both a christmas tree and a christmas sci-fi spider web. Some of our old glass ornaments are rather worn out and not so nice looking anymore, so I bought some new ones to replace them. But the old ones still have a bit of golden shine... and they're a nice small size... it's so hard to throw them away! I did some web searching and came across the idea of gluing glitter all over them to make them look nice again. So maybe I'll do that.

Some houses in the neighborhood have their houses and yards decorated with a lot of lights. One house has a tree with strands of the "dripping icicle" style LED lights. It looks very pretty.

Oh, and about the ornaments... It's curious how when you get new ones, it's like... they're pretty, but they're somehow alien, blank... Then after a few years of having had them on the tree (or wherever), they acquire a precious quality, and become "one of the family".

Qiao is building up a collection of Hallmark sci-fi ornaments. This year he bought several, including a Lego Darth Vader. Darth's light-saber was missing (!) so I made one out of a thin piece of straw, painted red with a permanent marker.
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Dogs barking at turtle on other side of chain-link fence.
Turtle in its shell, too scared to move.
Dogs looking ready to start digging.
Human puts dogs on their cable tie-outs.

Hours later.
Human looks for turtle, doesn't see it, is relieved.
Human lets dogs loose.

Minutes later.
Dogs barking at other spot along fence.
Human comes out to look.
Dogs have already pushed away the bricks along the fence, and started digging under it.
Turtle is half-covered in dirt from the digging.
Human puts dogs on their cable tie-outs.
Human pushes dirt around, stuffs bricks in the hole under the fence, and adds a few more bricks.

Hours later, night.
Human wonders, what am I going to do with those dogs?
Human lets one dog loose.
It slinks off to investigate.

Minutes later, the dog is back.
Human is relieved. Turtle must have gotten away.
Human lets other dog loose.

Night passes.

Morning passes.

Dogs barking at another corner of the fence.
Apparently turtle is having a hard time finding a way out of neighbor's yard.
Human sighs.
Human is trying to work! And has to spend so much time protecting critters from its dogs!
Human has had enough of this.
Human will take care of the problem for good this time!
Human puts dogs on their cable tie-outs.

Human wonders, how to get the turtle?

How, how, how...

Human gets long shovel, bucket and gloves.
Human leans over fence and picks turtle up with shovel.
Turtle tries to crawl off while human lifts shovel over fence.
Turtle falls off shovel on human's side.
Human yelps.
But turtle seems ok.

Turtle put in bucket.
Bucket put in car.
Gate opened.
Car driven down the street to pond.

Human lifts turtle out of bucket and puts it next to pond.
Maybe this isn't such a good spot, so close to the street, human worries.
Human sighs. Turtle has probably had enough of being human-handled.
Human drives back home, closes gate, and lets dogs loose.

Dogs rush off to investigate.

for real

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011 09:07 pm
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2011/08/31 Police action outside my yard. They were chasing a pickup truck, which had gotten a flat, and was finally stopped right there behind the wood fence. Lots of commotion. An ambulance came too. I think I heard the word "crack" a few times. They are in the process of towing away the truck now, and the lights have finally stopped flashing.

And Qiao is missing *all* the excitement. If he hurries home he *might* still see a cop car or two...
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oh yay. exciting. I heard a bunch of police sirens and walked out my front door to look. A pickup truck was being chased by a bunch of police cars... one of its tires had gotten a flat and was sparking.. it turned the corner in front of my house, and was finally stopped behind the wood fence where I couldn't see... a bunch of yelling... I saw one cop doubled over, as if he had been kicked in the leg... after a bit, I went to the fence to look, and saw the driver apprehended, on the ground. still bunches of flashing lights.

I think I saw that pickup driving by earlier in the day.

uh-oh. now there's an ambulance out there too.

flashing lights

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010 08:55 pm
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oh, yay. I got to see an exciting police chase pass my house 2 times, in different directions. They were chasing a rental truck with the back doors open, filled with tires. I suspect the truck had been trying to dump used tires, but it seemed odd because I saw the truck pass my house lackadaisically* several times, and a couple of youths rolling tires around near my gate, before the siren-blasting light-flashing cops started chasing them.

*wow, I spelled it right on the first try!

Actually, come to think of it, the last time the truck passed my house (I was cutting grass), it was turning the corner rather rapidly and in an unsafe manner, so much so that I deliberately stepped further away from the street, to avoid any possibility of being run over. Also, maybe the youths weren't connected with the truck, and just happened to be in the area, and took to playing with tires that had already been dumped.
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I should have known that a stranger walking by wouldn't be engaging in casual conversation with me just to be polite or friendly.

I was raking outside the fence, and a not-unpleasant-looking guy walking down the street said hi and something else to me (don't remember, must have been about raking) and instead of replying in my usual curt manner, I decided to be friendly and mentioned good-naturedly about how I had been intending to rake inside the yard, but that I got carried away with doing the outside part. Next thing I know, I've agreed to pay him $7 to quickly do the inside part (only one corner of the yard; the whole yard didn't need raking). He was supposed to finish the small rest of the outside part too, but I'm not sure if he did. It was too dark by then to see well. He had said he wanted the money for cab fare to get back home from his job where he was walking from.

The reason I got talked into it instead of simply saying "no thanks, I prefer to do my raking myself", is that I've occasionally considered that it wouldn't be a bad thing to pay other people to do some raking, when I'm tired or busy with other stuff. They get money that they need, I get some extra time... But that wasn't taking into consideration how uncomfortable it makes me feel to have a stranger in my yard, and having to pay them, and feeling that they're trying to take advantage of me, and having to keep an eye on them (non-obtrusively) to make sure they're doing the job as opposed to being up to no good. I mean really, if I feel that I have to keep an eye on them, that doesn't free up any extra time for myself anyway.

He even did try to talk the price up. I didn't put up with that and said that no, I'd just do it myself if he wanted more money. So he did it for the original price.

But no. Next time I'll stick to my guns and not get talked into paying someone else to do what I was planning on doing myself.
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Computer and Electronics Recycling Programs at stores...

- $10 fee for large items; smaller peripherals taken for free

Office Depot (this brochure has more details and states that all recycling occurs in the U.S.)
- $5, $10, or $15 fees depending on size of box

This PDF file lists other companies that participate in recycling programs.

I bet when I go to my local Staples Customer Service desk, the person there will never have heard of the program, or that I'll be the first person who's wanted to bring in something to recycle there. I bet I'll feel self-conscious, awkward, and silly.

I disassembled 30 old floppy diskettes and separated the plastic and metal parts... I wonder if the metal can go with the aluminum cans. It doesn't seem to stick to a magnet. I suppose now I can do the same for my stack of old zip disks. I hope this stuff actually ends up getting recycled; otherwise it would be a waste of my time.

Mohawk makes a brand of carpet, "everStrand", made out of post-consumer recycled plastic bottles. Another carpet company makes a line of carpet made out of recycled old carpets.

We put the old leaky water heater down by the street, since next week the trash service picks up large items. But it disappeared within a few hours. I can't imagine why someone would schlepp off such a heavy thing, unless they can get money for the metal.

things I find

Saturday, January 5th, 2008 05:11 pm
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While picking up trash along my street, I came across a $20 bill, wadded up somewhat and with a wad of chewing gum stuck to it. It looked real, the bill. The find surprised and amused me, a bit. I scratched the gum off it using a crushed plastic bottle, and set the bill back down on the ground, with a white stone on top of it. Perhaps someone else in more need of it will come across it, and be happy.

Last week, I came across a lizard in my juniper bushes. A larger lizard than the small ones that it is more typical to see around here. It was motionless on the ground, near the roots. I only noticed it, because there was a beer can above it in the branches. I am not quite sure if it is just a toy lizard some child may have placed there long ago, or a genuinely live one, in hibernation.

(no subject)

Friday, July 20th, 2007 11:18 pm
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Since people have been posting kitten pix, it made me want to post one of Juniper-kitty:

That was one of the very few I managed to take, where she wasn't a moving blur. She's still getting along well with the puppy-dog, last I heard.

I'm so tired and busy, that by the time I have time to write in my journal, it no longer seems important to do so.

I came home, wanting to mow (whack?) my grass. (I use a weed-wacker.) I was looking forward to cutting the grass, so that when it started raining, I was disappointed. Isn't that weird? It's not that I truly enjoy cutting grass, but I want to make my yard look good. I don't want to contribute to making the neighborhood look bad by having an unkempt-looking yard. Even though personally, I prefer wild-growing grass to short-shorn grass, it now bothers me, not having my grass short.

I got Forestfen a good deal on DSL, to replace the previous account I had at her house. It's only $10 a month, with a 12-month term agreement. It's the "lite" DSL, but I think it is fast enough for her purposes. Wish I could have gotten a deal like that at my new house (I'm paying 3 times as much, and it will go up to 4x as much later on), but it's not available here.

Yesterday and today at work, I wrote myself a webpage with javascript for converting byte-arrays of EBCDIC codes in signed-integer format to ASCII. The Eclipse debugger displays the byte-arrays as signed numbers, and since most EBCDIC tables only include unsigned-integer or hex codes, it was difficult to decipher them. Now I just have to copy & paste & click a button. If I had a lot of free time, I could try coding an Eclipse plugin to do it automatically within the debugger.

Maybe I should download Eclipse to my home computer. I was playing with one of my old audio programs yesterday, and it was having problems. I could re-code it in Java.... but that would take time and effort, which I need to spend on other things for now.

Like mowing grass. And figuring out how to get tile layed down in my washer-dryer area. And getting a washer & dryer. And getting electrical stuff done. And paint. And plumbing. And towel racks. I'm beginning to think I might not get some of this stuff done this year. Maybe I ought to just let things be and relax.