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August 9th, 2022

Tricksters Messing With Tricksters

You would think Blue Jays are closely related to Mockingbirds the way they mimic other birds, but they’re a different branch of the things with wings family tree. Corvidae versus Mimidae. They’re more closely related to crows, which makes what just happened outside my den window amusing.

I’m busy working on some pages for my Woodward website; I want to get our art and literary journal, The Inquiry, up. I have all the pages for the 1972 issue scanned already, I just need a web page with the links. So I’m busy hand rolling some html, when I hear a hawk calling right outside my open windows. But no…it’s a blue jay, doing a killer imitation of a hawk.

Fascinated, I watch when I should have been grabbing for my cell phone to record this. What, I wonder, is it hoping to accomplish by scaring the heck out of all the smaller birds in the area. There is, or was, a blue jay nest somewhere nearby…I know this because I could hear the noisy fledglings some weeks ago. Maybe it wants to clear the area around the cat food dishes my neighbor has put out so it can grab a snack. It’s very odd, but a bunch of birds will eat dry cat food just as easily as bird seed. Blackbirds, starlings…I try to tell them they’re cat food too but they don’t listen.

When I finally think to grab my iPhone and get some video of this blue jay mimicking a hawk, at the same time a bunch of crows start complaining there’s a hawk somewhere around here. Caw Caw Caw Caw!!!! Crows and hawks do Not get along, and I don’t think they like blue jays much either, and I’m not sure the crows are actually being fooled. But immediately the jay stops mimicking a hawk goes into alert mode over crows nearby. Jay Jay Jay Jay!!! And it flies off.

As I’m typing this, I can still hear the crows bellyaching about it, but a bit further away. Life in the city…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Tricksters Messing With Tricksters

July 23rd, 2022

Dealing With A Heatwave And Mosquitoes

I’ve taken to putting out a bowl of ice next to the water bowl on the porch when it gets this hot. The calico won’t have anything to do with the ice, but when it’s halfway melted she’ll drink from that bowl first, then finish up with the regular water bowl. I’ve no idea what that thought process is.

There’s plenty of shade on my porch, under the trees and she rotates lounging spots. I keep inviting her inside but she won’t have it. So she stays out in the heat. I make sure she has plenty of water. It’s the best I can do.

I got the birdbath going again this morning. At some point I need to adjust its footing and make it level again. Right now I just have some wedges in place. I bought a twirling thing some years ago that keeps the water in it moving, supposedly to discourage mosquito egg laying. Customers usually come pretty quickly in this sort of heat. Mostly they drink, but every now and then I see someone taking a bath in it. The twirler takes up a bunch of space in the middle and I think that keeps most of the bathers out. But at least they get a drink.

I’ll put some water dishes out back, I just have to remember to take them back inside at night and run them through the dishwasher to rid any mosquito larva out of them.

I have a mosquito kill fogger I run every couple days to spray under the deck, a space that I can’t keep standing water out of. It discharges a very dense fog of mosquito kill and it’s very effective, but I have to warn my neighbors when I’m about to use it to keep their pets indoors for a while. They don’t seem to mind I think because it does very effectively keep the mosquitos away. But I can’t use it out front by the outdoor faucet because there are cats out and about there. There is a “natural” mosquito repellant spray I Can use however because it’s pet friendly. It definitely stinks of some spicy plant and after I use it the two street cats that hang out here turn up their noses and avoid the area. I can verify that it keeps the mosquitoes away too, but only for a couple days.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Dealing With A Heatwave And Mosquitoes

July 22nd, 2022

Mercedes Love…

…still in it.

Along with the all weather floor mats, the trunk liner, and the fitted front window sun shield, I bought the factory fitted car cover when I bought the car. It’s for those scorchingly hot days when I don’t want the car baking in the sun. Which it is currently here in Charm City. As I write this they’re calling for 100+ this coming Sunday.

It’s UV blocking as well as being very reflective…not simply white. I only use it during severe heat waves, and sometimes when the pollen gets heavy. They’re actually not good for keeping rain off as they’re not waterproof but only water resistant. So eventually they get wet and then they’re holding water against the car body and that’ll get rust started.

It’s by Mercedes for this specific model. Does it have a pocket for the hood ornament? Of course it does.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Mercedes Love…

July 17th, 2022

Not Quite The Anxiety Of An HIV Test…But Still…

With so many people I follow on social media saying they’ve tested positive for COVID-19 I decided to use one of my test kits before it expired, just to see the result. Thankfully everyone saying so isn’t experiencing bad symptoms…some in fact aren’t experiencing any at all. Those tested as a precaution to some coming event and discovered unpleasantly that they had it. The worry is more about long term impacts, but otherwise these are in good health.

So I ran both tests in my kit and both came back negative. I have one more kit that is due to expire soon and I’ll use it too, then go buy some new ones, use one new one immediately and save the others.

One reason for being apprehensive in my case is the constant fatigue I am feeling, and which so I’m told is one of the symptoms. But that can also be due to my age, the heart meds I’m taking, and too little physical activity.  I am working on the activity part twice weekly at the hospital fitness center, and I can feel it helping, so there’s that.

I remember the stress waiting for results from an HIV test I took decades ago, after having had lovely but unprotected sex with strike three. It came back negative and the doctor who gave me the results looked at me like a guy who appreciated being able to give a patient good news every now and then, leavened with a weary look of Please Now Be More Fucking Careful When Fucking…Please… I got the unspoken message.

Called strike three afterward and told him I’m fine, we’re fine. He had no comment. Another unspoken message, but that one sadly went right over my head.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Not Quite The Anxiety Of An HIV Test…But Still…

June 27th, 2022

Adventures In Home Ownership…(continued)

So it seems my central AC compressor has failed beyond repair now and it’s time for a new one. No worries about my situation…I have two window units I can depend on to keep the critical rooms in the house cool. I bought them years ago when the compressor was acting up (it just needed a new start relay then) on the grounds that I needed a plan B for the house in case of failure during a heat wave. So in that regard I’m good.

I was thinking since I’m on retirement income now that I’d have to wait a few years to save the money for a new compressor, and just rely on the window units, and maybe even make that a permanent solution since a window unit is much cheaper than a central air compressor, and a couple of those are unlikely to both fail at the same time. But I got a very nice quote on a new one that I can pay for out of pocket savings, so, if the quote is real, I’m going to go ahead with it.

Sales will be calling back, so I’m told, with either the proper company name on the caller ID, or “UNKNOWN”, which means I have to pause RoboKiller for the day. Swell. So now I also get to be bothered by a bunch of auto warranty foofs all day too. One just called now in fact.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Adventures In Home Ownership…(continued)

June 2nd, 2022

Back Home

I’ve been away for a few months, staying at my brother’s house in Oceano post retirement. I haven’t written much about it here because these days it’s a tad risky to let the world know that your house is unoccupied. My new alarm system lets me view my security cameras remotely, and my neighbors all were watching the house, some even mowing the lawn and checking for packages and flyers left on the front porch to make the house look occupied. But I was still reluctant to post about my road trip to California, my stay there, and the road trip back here on my blog. I used Facebook (alas) for all that and set the posts to friends only. Time was, before Facebook and Twitter and such, I’d have been babbling about it like crazy here. You can see some of my old road trip posts in the archive.

But now I’m back. Here’s the traditional end of trip stats off the Mercedes’ trip computer:

(All this includes bopping around Oceano and vicinity, as well as the trip there and back)

Total miles: 7919
Driving Time: 163:29
Average speed: 48mph
Average mpg: 34.4

Fuel prices were the big deal this trip…especially when I got to California. But the fuel economy of my car’s diesel engine made the price of topping off the tank a bit easier to handle, even there where I saw prices go over 7 bucks a gallon (the most I ever paid was 6.60). Mostly on the highway I got high 30s and in town low 30s. On the leg back home from Greenfield Indiana to Baltimore I was getting just a tad under 40mpg (39.6). 

I stressed the entire time I was in California about the feral calico cat who has befriended me for the past decade or so. The look on her face when she saw me packing the car to leave after I’d given her a place in my house for the winter was…awful. But when I got back home she was still alive and kicking and has forgiven me. Somewhat.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Back Home

December 11th, 2021

Oh God…Not Burl Ives Again…

I have an open reel tape that has several Christmas music albums on it, and come December I can put that on while I’m doing household chores and let it play for several hours. I have it on now. The calico came in a few minutes ago for food and pets, and while I was petting her she never took her eyes off the Teac tape player. Something about the reels slowly turning must have tweaked her cat curiosity. Or maybe she was judging my tastes in Christmas music.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Oh God…Not Burl Ives Again…

November 12th, 2021

What If…

Earlier today at the Fitness Center…working out on the arm bike machine…imagining a movie where the James Mason Captain Nemo joins forces with the Vincent Price Robur to wage war on slavers all over the world, sinking their ships at sea (before they can take on slaves) and pummeling their soldiers on land.

Things I imagine while working out…

Man I would love to watch that movie…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on What If…

November 3rd, 2021

Must Be November

Ummmm…sixty-three degrees in the living room this morning. Must finally be time to turn on the furnace. 

Ah…the smell of the first gas fired furnace heat of the season…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Must Be November

February 11th, 2021

Bridge Freezes Before Roadway

I’m watching Weather Channel reporting on that awful chain reaction pileup in Texas, and noting that it happened on a long overpass.

Some years ago, driving back home from a visit to California family, I ducked as far south as I could because the forecasts were for snow and ice almost as far south as the Mexican border. No kidding, there was snow along I-8 just west of San Diego and I saw people pulling their cars off to the shoulder and kids getting out to scoop up handfuls of snow like they’d never seen it before. Probably they hadn’t. One night I stopped well before the sun went down in Odessa Texas. I stopped early because I was aware the temperatures would drop below freezing after sundown, and I didn’t want to be on the roads then. Even so, I noted in the motel parking lot, little puddles of ice trying, and failing, to melt. I asked the desk clerk about the weather and she told me they’d had an ice storm and only recently got their power back on.

Next morning I packed the car and continued driving east on I-20. And I am not exaggerating here: every bridge and overpass I went by, even if it was just over a small dry run, had an accident on it, or just past it. Fortunately none of them looked fatal. But there were tractor-trailers on their sides, there were banged up cars and pickups. I saw what looked like a brand new and expensive pickup that was all torn up on on the driver’s side where it had bounced off the bridge railings. And I could tell that the locals don’t really grok how snow and ice change driving conditions, because it did that to them so rarely.

Climate change is giving them a new reality on the roadways, and the high local interstate speed limits (85 in most places west of Dallas), combined with a less than intuitive understanding of how bridges and overpasses freeze up before the rest of the pavement does, was a perfect storm of accidents waiting to happen. They have no infrastructure down there for dealing with snow and ice, because that’s costly to maintain and why would you when it gets like that so rarely. But times are changing.

This horrific chain reaction pileup happened on a long overpass and I’m sitting here watching the reporting and I just know what happened. The locals, too many of them I reckon, just don’t get, from lived experience how even if the roads are good the bridges probably might not be, and you have to pay attention to falling temperatures, even, or especially, when there hasn’t been very much rain beforehand. The slightest little bit of wet on the bridge and the temperature goes down and Newtonian forces will do their thing when you transition to the pavement on that bridge. You probably won’t even see the danger. Thin enough ice and it’ll look dry and it isn’t.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Bridge Freezes Before Roadway

January 4th, 2021

Ahhh…First Morning Back To Work After The Holidays…

That morning cup of coffee really wakes a person up. Especially when the first mouthful tells you that you forgot to put the sugar in.

I like my coffee like I like my men. Sweet.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Ahhh…First Morning Back To Work After The Holidays…

December 16th, 2020

Liberal Leave…Did You Say…?

Heh…just got a text alert that Liberal Leave has been enabled at the Institute starting at 10:30. This of course, only applies to staff that had to be physically at the Institute today. For the rest of us, it’s still a work day regardless.

But I am not perturbed by any of this. Just curious as to whether businesses may finally get on board with work from home more broadly after the plague has passed by. Sure…no more snow days for many of us. But then no more rush hour traffic jams. Fewer accidents and traffic fatalities. Less wear and tear on the car (let alone the driver). Office space and all it’s overhead can be parsed down to only the essential staff. Not everyone can benefit from this, but lots of workers can, and if nothing else getting them off the highways and public transport is surely a good thing.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Liberal Leave…Did You Say…?

November 26th, 2020

A Poem For Black Friday.

Hello Mrs Gorilla
Hello Mrs Not A Gorilla
Been Shopping?
No, been shopping.
What’d you buy?
A piston engine.
A What?!
A piston engine.
What’d you buy that for?
It was a bargain.


-William Shakespython

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Poem For Black Friday.

May 24th, 2020

Well Since I Can’t Go Anywhere This Holiday Weekend…

…I might as well do some lawn work. Especially since the rainy spring has made it hard to get it done previously. Gets the grass and weeds growing though…

So I took care of my tiny backyard in lieu of going to Ocean City NJ or somewhere…like Walt Disney World which is closed now except for maybe Disney Springs. But Florida is a hot spot I don’t want to get into for the foreseeable future. Still don’t think I’m putting any flowers or garden lights out this season because going to the lawn and garden stores just for that seems a frivolous reason to catch the virus So the best I can do for the outside of my house this year is just basic maintenance which I can do without going to the store. I sharpened the lawn mower blades a couple weeks ago, and did some repairs to the Ryobi weed whacker. At least I can keep things from looking like an abandoned house.

Standing on my deck, exhausted but pleased with the results, I had a sudden strong urge for a cigar. First really strong urge I’ve had since just before the heart attack. I’ve actually been surprised I haven’t been periodically getting those urges, but I reckon cigars just aren’t as addictive as cigarettes. No I didn’t.

Haven’t smoked one since the first week of October last year. I am well aware of the stress they put on my cardiovascular system…at least the smooth strong ones I’ve always enjoyed. It was a package deal with the pleasant nicotine buzz I got. I could feel my veins constricting. So I knew perfectly well what I was doing to myself. But I needed that nicotine buzz from time to time in my stressed out life. I’m actually surprised my psyche hasn’t demanded more of that since the heart attack. But just now it did and I didn’t. My psyche demands a lot of things of me that I either can’t or won’t give it, or infinitely defer it. Another trip to California for instance, right this minute for instance.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Well Since I Can’t Go Anywhere This Holiday Weekend…

April 27th, 2020

Cats And Their Little Ways Of Expressing Displeasure

I get just a little late putting food out for the calico and when I do go to put it out I step in my bare feet on dead bird remnants that are all over my doormat. I need to start looking down first. Yes madam, I was late. I need to put BEWARE OF THE CAT signs around my feeders.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Cats And Their Little Ways Of Expressing Displeasure

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