Tuesday, July 11th, 2017 10:51 pm
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amusing realization: I don't know them well enough for it to be appropriate to say "Hi there, stranger!" to them.


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.


Wednesday, April 12th, 2017 11:14 pm
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Putting silicone sealer on the mouse wheel to add traction had very good results, even though it didn't go on very smoothly.

Actually, it's an acrylic sealer. I previously had a silicone-based one, but when it ran out, the store no longer had it, so I got the acrylic one, which was listed as non-toxic and low odor.

Today it occurred to me that: 1) The insects are spelled 'beetles', 2) the cars are spelled 'beetles', 3) but the band is spelled 'beatles' 4) because the music has beats. It's a word-play, and it's possibly the first time I recognized it as such. I guess I always just thought they named themselves after the insects or maybe the cars.

The fig tree is growing little fig leafs again! The young leaves that died earlier haven't fallen off yet.

Just as I had driven up to my driveway this evening, I looked left out of the car window and saw a light moving across the sky in a straight line. In a direction from the south towards the southeast, sort of. Just a single white light, small, not blinking. It wasn't moving very fast, nor slow. The light flickered out for a moment, then came back, still moving, then flickered out again and stayed out. I thought it might have been a meteor, but the Lyrid meteor shower isn't supposed to start until the 16th. And my visibility here is poor. So it was probably a plane after all, maybe disappearing behind some clouds.

I like this song & video:

Video title: Space Unicorn - Parry Gripp and Brianne Drouhard
Posted by: ParryGripp

And these songs:

Video title: Imagine Dragons - Believer
Posted by: ImagineDragonsVEVO

Video title: Wardruna - Wunjo (New Album Runaljod - Ragnarok)
Posted by: Tatiane Akemy Oshiro

election daze

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016 11:24 pm
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I worked from home yesterday after voting. The dazed feeling didn't go away. The streets outside my house felt quiet and empty, as if the city's population had disappeared into thin air. That would explain the empty polls, right? Qiao and Forestfen both later told me that they didn't have to wait in lines either, even though they voted later in the day. The election commission seems to have done a very good job this time.


Per the website, South Carolina voter turnout was 67.42% yesterday. In the 2012 election, it was 68.92%. There are 254,000 more registered voters now than 4 years ago, so there were still more ballots cast this time than last. So it wasn't that people weren't voting. They just weren't stuck waiting in lines.

In the 2008 election, the voter turnout was 76%.

In all 3 years, the Republican presidential candidate got about 54% of the votes (2008: 53.87%. 2012: 54.56%. 2016: 54.90%)
So it doesn't seem that dislike of Trump affected his results much.
The Democratic candidate got... 2008: 44.9%. 2012: 44.09%. 2016: 40.71%.
So disapproval of Hillary may have dropped her results about 3 to 4% compared to the usual.

All those numbers are only for South Carolina, mind you.

In the evening, when I checked the TV, the first state results were being called. Trump's numbers were in the lead. But those were from the typically red states, so I told myself that was surely to be expected, and would change.

When I checked again later, it still wasn't looking very good. I brought up the Democracy Now coverage online, and listened for a while.
"This is just like Brexit", I thought, "isn't it?"

By midnight things hadn't improved much. I finally turned the TV off around 1:30am, with things looking quite grim, but still a slight chance Hillary could win. It took me a while to fall asleep. I resisted the urge to get back up and check the TV again.

But this morning, the news was no better.


Yet, as this page points out: Tuesday Shouldn’t Change The Narrative,
that Trump won doesn't mean that the world is suddenly a much different place than it was yesterday. It is the same world, with the same people. Based on the current count, Hillary actually won the popular vote. Nearly half of voters nationwide voted for Trump, and the other half for Hillary. And many of the people who voted Trump didn't do it because they like him or most of his rhetoric, but simply because he's the Republican candidate with the Republican platform, and because they dislike Hillary more than they dislike him.


In looking up the word trump, I was surprised to see one of the definitions: Informal. a fine person; brick.

trump == fine person???
fine person == brick ??????

But yes, apparently brick can mean:
Informal. an admirably good or generous person.


Something else. In past presidential elections, I remember seeing a lot more yard signs and bumper stickers for the major candidates. This year, here, I only saw a couple of Hillary yard signs, and that was only during the primaries. Since then, I don't recall seeing any for either side. That seems to show how unpopular both really are.
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I replaced my refrigerator's evaporator fan motor, because the old one was intermittently squealing, and I had a feeling it would stop working altogether in the near future.

I should know better than to start a task like that at 9:30pm when I have to get up for work the next day. I finished around 2am. The new motor and fan are working, and are sounding good.

Much of my time is spent looking up information on the internet, to make sure I do it right. Sometimes I find useful information. Sometimes I don't, and decide to bite the bullet and do it the way I think is best. Some of the time was cleaning gunk out of the freezer compartment, while I had all the shelves removed and out of the way. A good bit of the time was deciding how to handle the wire connections, since they were different on the old and new motor.


When I order stuff from Amazon, I often have it delivered to my mom's house, as delivery people are sometimes scared of the dogs at my house. My mom was telling me of a package that had been delivered. She said the return label said it was from Amazon Fulfillment Services. Then she asked me if it was something sexual. LOL. She's fluent in English, but it isn't her native tongue. Maybe she's been wondering that every time I got a package from them, and finally asked.

Today she tried to convince me that people in the South pronounce Augusta (Georgia) with an "N" in front, like "Naugusta" or "Nugusta". I've never heard it spoken that way (unless they are saying "in Augusta"). But she says everyone here pronounces it that way. I'm still dubious. There's a North Augusta on the South Carolina side of the border. Maybe some people refer to North Augusta as Nugusta? But I didn't find any mention of that online.


This weekend, I:

- mowed my lawn
- washed out my garbage bin as had gotten gunky inside. I don't like stinky garbage cans. I took a photo of the bin's number, so that if it happens again, I'll know whether my bin was accidentally switched with the neighbor's or something. (Although it's mainly for curiosity's sake. I wouldn't actually go up to the neighbor and say, "Hey, I think our garbage bins were switched, because mine was clean inside, and this one isn't.")
- did more work on securing the fence against Serena at Qiao's house. This involves a lot of brick moving, and some pounding of stakes. It's about half done.
- cleaned Qiao's shower stall in order to apply tub grip to the floor, and then did the latter.
- watched Dirk Gently
- did some yardwork at Qiao's house
- turned on the heater for the first time this season and let it air out with the windows open.
- replaced fridge evaporator fan
- ordered Culture Club tickets - they are scheduled to play in Augusta in November

Other things I need to do soon:

- look up info on the non-presidential candidates for the upcoming election
- choose a doctor for myself
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I'm reading Terra Aluvis, volume 2 (pre-release), in German.

In a couple of places, it uses "seine" to refer to "das Mädchen". For example, "Das Mädchen blickte auf seine Hände". (And she's looking at her own hand, not someone else's). That sounds totally wrong to me. "Seine" is what you use for males. But "ihre" is what you use for females. Even if Mädchen is a neuter word as indicated by the "Das", "seine" still sounds totally wrong for it.

So I looked it up.
heisst es "das Mädchen und sein Bruder" oder "das Mädchen und ihr Bruder"

Based on the answers, "seine" is grammatically correct. But several of the replies (and they sound like native German speakers) reflect my own gut feeling, that it should be "ihr", ganz klar, NATÜRLICH.

And now I realize that German doesn't have a separate pronoun for "its". The same word "sein" is used for both "his" and "its". Yet I generally translate it as "his". So "Das Mädchen blickte auf seine Hände" sounds to me not like "The girl looked at its hands" (which is bad enough), but rather "The girl looked at his hands" which makes no sense, unless I imagine her as a gender-bending girl.


Another thing that has confused me is the use of Ihr/Euch/Eurer for 2nd person singular pronouns. Normally you use "Du" for friends/family, or "Sie" for strangers/politeness/formal situations. Ihr/Euch is the informal 2nd person plural, not singular. But in the book some of the characters are royalty or nobility, so this usage seems to correspond to the English royal we/majestic plural. Looking at the book again, now I see that it is always capitalized in the royal sense, but lower case in the 2nd person plural sense.

erbarmen - to arouse someone's pity; to take pity on; to have mercy on.

Erbarmen - mercy/pity

erbarmenswert - pitiable, wretched, pitiful

erbarmungslos - pitiless, merciless

erbarmungsvoll - compassionate, full of pity

erbärmlich - pitiful, wretched, terrible

Erbärmlichkeit - wretchedness, misery, awfulness, terribleness

barmherzig - compassionate

Barmherzigkeit - compassion, mercy


leiden - to suffer

Leiden - suffering, tribulation

Leidenschaft - passion

leidenschaftlich - passionate

leidenschaftslos - dispassionate

Leid - sorrow, grief; misfortune, harm.

leid tun - to be sorry

leidlich - reasonable, fair; more or less, so-so.


hervorragend, herausragend - outstanding

sagenhaft - incredible

zaghaft - timid


Umgehung (accent on 2nd syllable) - avoidance, circumvention, bypass

umgehen (transitive verb)(accent on 2nd syllable) - to avoid.

umgehen (intransitive verb)(accent on 1st syllable) - to walk around; to treat/handle something; ...

umgehend (accent on 1st syllable) - immediate; immediately. Etymology explained here
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I like the implication of the pronoun on this mailing.

"Our next president will face many challenges and difficult decisions. But they will also inherit our nation's proud legacy of helping those in need."

ginnickity kinnickinny

Thursday, July 16th, 2015 11:32 pm
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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.

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.


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?


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.

su su sudio

Monday, March 2nd, 2015 10:31 pm
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I looked up the lyrics to this song, only to discover that I was always hearing the word "sussudio" correctly, and that it doesn't really mean anything. Furthermore, the part of the song that I always heard as "I just fade away" is actually "I just say the word".

mental quibble

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015 08:49 pm
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After reading several arguments on the spelling of "to say one's peace" versus "to say one's piece", I've grudgingly been convinced that "to say one's piece" must have been the correct or original way to write it.

To me, "to say one's peace" implies that one feels at peace, having stated one's opinion, and that one doesn't plan to argue about it regardless of further discussion. Whereas "to say one's piece" doesn't imply one's emotional state - one might feel at peace and finished with the subject, or one might still be willing to consider other opinions, or one may feel argumentative and/or dismissive of other opinions.

This re-evaluation of the phrase's meaning comes after Qiao calmly ended a discussion with, "I've said my peace [piece]". At first I heard it as "peace" and and interpreted it in that manner. But after reading about the correct usage, it seems that he must have said "I've said my piece", which means that he may not be at peace with it after all. Considering the context, I suppose he wouldn't likely be at peace simply for having stated his opinion. Does anyone ever feel at peace simply for stating one's opinion?

I wonder if I saw it written as "peace" in any books I read as a child, or if I never saw it written and always misheard it.
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I filled up my car's gas tank (from a quarter-full to full) for $12.27 today. Amazing. I can't remember gas prices ever being so low, even though apparently they were.

Yesterday at work while testing our screens, on a sudden inspiration, I entered a business client named "(my last name)'s Flying Wombats to the Rescue", and then continued testing, not thinking about it anymore. Later a co-worker stopped by my cube to thank me for giving him a chuckle - he happened to be looking at the database rows and was very amused when he saw my client's name.

Then I started wondering where the term "Flying Wombats" originally came from. Where had I heard it before? In a movie?

Turns out that there actually was a 1938 movie (that I don't recall ever having seen) that used the term "Flying Wombat" in reference to a kind of car. But I'm not clear if that was the origin of the term, or if the term was around even earlier than that movie. I wasn't thinking of cars myself, when I used the term. I was thinking of some kind of mythological flying creature (as regular wombats don't fly, of course).

There was also a BBC radio show that featured "The Curse of the Flying Wombat", but I'm not familiar with that either. So I'm still not sure how I became familiar with the term.

mixity mix

Thursday, October 9th, 2014 10:58 pm
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What is the meaning of the word "mix" in the following sentences? These are from a southern U.S. restaurant chain.

"Served with cornbread, rolls or mix."
"Country dinners are cooked to order and include a tossed salad, French fries or cheese potato, cornbread, rolls or mix."

Hmm. I was planning to email them anyway to ask if any of their menu items are vegan. So I'll just ask about that too.

Update: Qiao's been known to eat there, and he had the answer. They serve either 2 rolls, 2 pieces of cornbread, or 1 of each.
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It just occurred to me to wonder, where does the name "dreamwidth" come from, and what does it mean? The width of a dream - what is that? Dreams don't have sizes. Or is that actually what it refers to... since dreams are sizeless, the width of a dream is boundless? Boundless dreams?
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Qiao and I started playing the game (together as a 2-person team to begin with), when Qiao's sister gifted him with an iPad while he was recuperating from his accident. Several of his sisters and in-laws play the game, so at any time, we have several games going with them. Later, Qiao installed the app on his cell-phone, so he and I play against each other too. He's quite good at it too.

Over the last year and a half, I've come up the following strategies for getting the most points in the game.

- On the first word of the game, if you can't take advantage of a DW (double word) tile, then play a word using only your low-value letters, even if it is only 2 or 3 letters long. Save your high-value letters for later in the game, so that you can get more points for them.

- In later turns, it is sometimes also better to save your high-value letters rather than playing them right away, even if that means getting a few less points on your current turn. An exception is near the end of the game, where you want to use up your high-value letters to keep them from being counted against you when the game goes out.

- When considering words to play, always try to position your high-value letters on DL/TL tiles, and/or include them in DW/TW words, to get the most points. I especially always try to take advantage of those special tiles when placing a 'Q' or 'Z'.

- Placing a word alongside another word also gives you extra points. Example: if you play the word "FOB" above the word "AYE", then you get points for all these words: "FOB", "FA", "OY", and "BE". So effectively, you get twice the points for your original word plus all the points of the other word, not even taking into consideration any DL/TL/DW/TW tiles.

- If you don't have any high-value letters yourself, try to take advantage of high-value letters that were already played by adding on to them.

- Try to avoid opening up (making accessible) any TW tiles for the other player when you place your word.

- If a TW tile is accessible but you can't make a word with it, consider playing a word that will at least make it harder for the other person to take advantage of the TW tile.

- Don't always play the first good word you come up with. Keep looking to see if you can find an even better word.

And lastly, my most important advice: Sometimes, you'll come up with such a fabulous word, that you simply MUST play it, even if it goes against ALL the above rules.

Glitter Tree

Saturday, April 12th, 2014 03:15 pm
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I suppose it is time to put my glitter tree (aka "xmas tree") back in storage until next winter. Before packing it away, I want to enjoy the pretty lights and glitter one last time... aah.

One nice thing about having a glitter tree up this time of the year, is that with the windows open, and a gentle warm breeze coming in, the hanging tinsel and other shiny stuff moves and turns slightly(*), extra sparkly and more alive.

(* - what is a good word for that? I can't think of one. flutters? flitters? vibrates?)

Ah, maybe I should keep it out after all, even though it feels partially anachronistic.
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A benefit of buying a label online for mailing a package is that you can select to get tracking info sent to your email address for free. The page indicated that the tracking info is only available when purchasing the label online.

One can pay with credit card or Paypal.

Use Internet Explorer; I had problems with Firefox - for some reason I had to enter stuff twice and then I was redirected to the Login page again. So I switched to using IE.

I have a USPS user account already. Sign in to begin with, or else you'll have to do it later anyway.

You can click "Calculate a Price" to determine how much the postage will cost. But if you do that, don't click the "Customs Forms and Extra Services" button, as the customs form will be printed automatically as part of the label anyway when you print your label.

To actually buy/print a label, click on "Print a Label with Postage" from the main USPS page.


Hopefully next time it won't take me 2 hours to print out a shipping label.

Anxiety over not being able to think of a succinct easy-to-remember tag to use for "mailing/postal/shipping/delivery" type posts. I wonder if "postal" can be used to describe companies like UPS and FedEx, or if it only applies to official government postal services? What does UPS stand for.. oh, Parcel Service.

Ah, I already had a tag that I could use: mail

sanguine / livid

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014 08:59 am
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A word that doesn't mean what I thought it meant. (I thought it meant contentedly calm and relaxed.)

sanguine - (adj.) cheerfully optimistic, hopeful, or confident.

As long as I consider that the word etymology is based on blood / redness, I should be able to remember that it doesn't mean calmness. But when I think of being red in the face, I think of rage (the opposite of calm contentedness), not cheerfulness, which is why I probably have a hard time remembering the correct meaning.

livid - ((adj.) enraged; furiously angry) is another word like that, the definition of which I generally do get right. It can also mean "reddish or flushed". Yet the first definition is "having a discolored, bluish appearance caused by a bruise", and I don't associate blue-ness with rage.

check marks

Saturday, March 15th, 2014 08:24 pm
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Whenever a paper form instructs me to "check" a certain box, in the past I have always felt that I had to put a *check mark* in the box (this symbol: ✓), even though I feel that an "X" symbol would be more clear and legible.

But that seems silly - an X should be just as good, right? So I looked up the definition of the word "check":

(definition #7) verb (used with object) - to mark (something) so as to indicate examination, correctness, preference, etc. (often followed by off)

Nowhere in that definition does it state that the mark has to be a check mark.

(definition #29) noun - Also called check mark. a mark, often indicated by (✓), as on a list, to indicate that something has been considered, acted upon, or approved.

This one says "often indicated by (✓)". Ergo, *not exclusively* indicated by that symbol. So an "X" could even be considered a check mark!

Phew. Now I can X in boxes without feeling guilty.

Come to think of it, part of why I dislike having to use actual checkmark symbols in boxes, is that I've been trained by the "fill in the circle" kind of forms that you aren't supposed to mark anywhere outside of the circle/box. In order to write a checkmark in a box without having the tail go outside the box, it either has to be a very small checkmark, or more of a V shape than a real checkmark, neither of which are aesthetically pleasing to me.

more greets

Friday, December 13th, 2013 09:41 am
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I was remembering this morning that the old-fashioned "How do you do?" way of greeting someone new was sort of like the "How are you doing?" greeting, in that you echo back the same words (although I haven't heard "How do you do?" in so long, that I wasn't even sure about that anymore).

There is interesting discussion here on the topic of replying to question-type greetings with the same words. It turns out there are many such greetings..."what's up", "wassup", "howdy",