i saw a jawa at the gym

In cooler weather I try to go to the botanical gardens and walk the trails on my lunch break but with the temps getting into the mid 90’s and blasting towards triple digits, I’ve been going to the gym more often on my lunch break.  I always manage to see someone or something interesting at the gym each visit and yesterday it was a jawa.

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You know those pesky little scavengers from Starwars that young vader hated so much.  The guy must have been about 4 foot tall with an oversized hoodie and I could only see his eyes when he walked by.  Lucky for him he was on planet fitness rather than his home planet and thus in the judgement free zone which disallowed me to take pictures of him or I would have put his mug on my blog.

It may have not been as strange as seeing a tall old slender guy walking on the sidewalk in Campbellton, FL in a spiderman suit on the way to work one morning but I suppose seeing a jawa is still noteworthy.

I’ve been a member of several gyms over the years and I have to say planet fitness is among the best and most value priced.  It’s $10 a month with a $30ish annual equipment fee so it’s really hard to beat that deal.  There is something about their treadmills that seems more comfortable than most other treadmills that I’ve walked on.  And with the AC and giant ceiling fans they have good airflow so I don’t sweat quite as bad.  Their free wifi is also a plus.  So if you’ve been wanting to join a gym and never go, then they are most likely your cheapest way out.

 

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chicken neglect, unless you ask the chickens

Well I walked into the back yard right before dark to water the plants and sit in the swing for a few minutes while swatting hordes of vampire flies and realized I didn’t close the cage to the chicken pen in the back paddock the night before.

I was almost scared to walk out there and check on them thinking surely some would be missing or they’d be zombie chickens half eaten by something – yes I’m talking to you black bear wherever you are.  But they all looked at me quite happily like they had been partying all day outside their pen and having a grand old time with no predators to speak of.  Well I’m sure there predators especially hawks but they must have been feeling generous.

A few weeks ago I had built a flimsy temporary fence around their pen and an even more temporary gate which the chickens could have pushed over from the inside or the two large dogs guarding the perimeter could have broke into from the outside.  I had never planned on the fence and gate being used while I wasn’t home but all was good.  It wasn’t quite dark when I went to close the door to the main pen so I had to run to keep the chickens from seeing me and running for the exit.  They were still perched on their roosts when I ran out there and looked at me like I was crazy for running to the pen.

I hate keeping them caged without getting out to eat grass and bugs.  The first day I let them out the California white which is kin to the leghorn, an egg layer, ran out and got in direct sunlight and laid down in the grass and spread it’s white wings to absorb the sunlight.  Their pen is in a heavy shade area and gets no sun so I didn’t realize how much they must have missed the sunlight.

I decided I was going to finally spend the time and energy to build them a large chicken run when they kept running to the door when I’d go to give them their daily feed and they’d voraciously attack the green grass sprigs just outside the door.  I’d guard the door like a soccer goal to keep them from darting past me but I’d let them clear the grass from the door area.

Their 12’x12′ cage is inside a much larger paddock that the two large dogs patrol which is adjacent but outside of my main fenced area where we keep 4 small dogs.  The large dogs are my answer to bob cats, possums, racoons, and yes even a black bear attack that wiped out 6 large chickens in one swoop by pulling them from underneath a cage drumstick by drumstick through a very narrow steel mesh.  I still don’t understand the physics that allowed that to happen as it should have been impossible.

Oh well.  I guess I’m lucky this time that I didn’t lose my flock of chickens and the eggs they produce.  Maybe for a few days the egg yolks will be a little bit richer for the extra vitamins all the grass and bugs provided.  Nothing beats natural chicken feed for chickens and a little more space to enjoy themselves.

 

on the joy of reading books

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” – Neil Gaiman in Coraline

 

 

I’ve been a member of goodreads.com for almost five years even before amazon acquired them and I’ve been participating in their annual reading challenge almost as long.  I’ve started setting my book reading goal to 52 books a year and I must say that the word challenge should surely be emphasized.  LOL.  I missed last year’s goal by one or two books all because I picked some long books at the end of the year when I was on a roll.  I could have easily met the goal but got distracted at the last minute.  Oh well, that’s the way it goes but this year I’m just simply behind so I’m working diligently on catching up.  I’ve finished four books this weekend alone.

I totally get the whole concept of ideas encouraging people to read more as I started myself when I had just learned to read as a child.  It was an elementary school fundraiser where I had to go around the neighborhood and ask for donations for each additional book I agreed to read.  I took the whole thing serious even as a kid and I fulfilled my obligation though it was very difficult and time consuming.  I learned another important skill at that young age and that was being careful with estimates and what you commit to.  I spent many, many hours, days, and weeks reading and it set a book reading record during that young time of my life.  But amazingly, at the end of my reading marathon back then just as the beginning, I still loved reading books.

I’ve never lost that love of reading but now I read more and more eBooks.   And recently most of my reading is done in the form of listening to unabridged audio books during my many hours of drive-time to and from work.  I also use cheap wireless (bluetooth) headphones to listen while I clean house, wash dishes, exercise, and work outside in the yard although it takes some practice multitasking while listening to audiobooks and being able to comprehend and recall what’s going on in the story.  Of course I make sure I continue to read visually with ebooks and old-fashioned print books just to get the different experience each media offers.  I own many, many hundreds of printed books some in boxes and some on large book shelves a few of which are pictured in this blog post that I call book shrines.

It took me a while to accept ebooks and stop being an e-book snob but I’m finally warming to the idea.  They are just too convenient, economical, and don’t take up much space or weigh as much to not utilize to their full extent.  Occasionally, I even pull a book up on my iPod or other small device while waiting in a doctor’s office and start reading.

Here are a few pictures of my books and ebook shrines.  LOL.

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I have a few really old books assuming they aren’t fakes.  I don’t think they are worth much money either way but it’s just the idea of holding a very old book in your hands and thinking of all the many places it’s been and the people it’s met.  Each used physical book in my mind has it’s own life story in addition to the content and story inside the book itself.  I do the same thing with native American arrow heads I’ve found over the years – hold them and ponder who else held it and when and what was their life like and their surroundings.

Here is another one of my book shrines.  Most of my printed books are in boxes but I hope one day to have a library or somewhere to hold them all.  The windows 95 book for dummies belonged to my dad before he passed away.  It still has some of his notes in it and it makes me think of all the times he asked me questions about how to do something on the computer.  He was always a master checkers player and when he got a computer with dial-up one of the first things he did was played checkers against others over the Internet.  He immediately got a very high ranking.  I figured he enjoyed finally finding good competition even if he had to go digitally half way around the world since his family wasn’t any challenge for him at checkers.

I have books on just about any topic including gardening, poultry, electronics, mathematics, comics, and many more.

I used to have a hoya plant under the grow light in this room and other ornamentals.  It weaved itself almost half way around the room.  It was a tri-color similiar to this one in the picture below except it had very long vines. I don’t know if it really filters the air that much but just having such a large living plant inside seemed neat.

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And last but not least and really doesn’t include all my book shrines.  I have this one in my shop.  I almost never get rid of my books except for technical books sometimes.  Although the giant turbo pascal box in the picture is one that brings back nice memories of when I was much younger.

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Well the weekend is almost over and I still have many chores to finish up before I can stop to rest.  We’ve had a bit of weather here with severe thunderstorms with high winds and rain so I didn’t get to chip away at all the tree debris still left over outside as a gift from hurricane Michael several months back.  So I stayed inside spring cleaning as much and as fast as I could and writing this blog post and taking pictures of course. No rest for the weary… but who needs it anyway as staying busy is it’s own reward…

 

alex the mighty and brave kitten

Well as luck would have it, we’ve picked up another unwitting member of our animal family due to someone abandoning an tiny animal left on its own to starve.  These pictures are a couple of months old now since, well, I haven’t blogged in foreva.  These pictures are also a few weeks after I found Alex in my front yard starving and emaciated.  She’s even bigger and healthier now than in these pictures.  

 

 

Here is the story of how I met Alex the mighty and brave kitten…

It was a dark and stormy night when I heard the four tiny but fearless canine soldiers sound the alarm that an intruder was within our gates.  As I walked outside, an eerie calm and silence befell the yard and then as if out of the darkness – MEEEOOWWW.  But not just any MEOW, a somewhat faint and delirious one from a tiny and emaciated but still beautiful figure.   The four fearless warriors just looked at me in horror and disbelief as the poor little kitten struggled to walk towards me.  They certainly knew what felines are and normally go crazy at the sight of them but not this particular night.  This night I think they felt pity on the tiny helpless creature and almost seemed to ask me if we could help it.

I went inside and got some warm milk and soft food to see if it would eat.  It tried to eat the food but acted like it had never had solid food before.  I’ve seen plenty of starving animals but this kitten was definitely within it’s final night if it hadn’t have found food.  I wondered if it had even been properly weaned since it seemed confused with what to do with the soft food.

Alex eventually gained her strength and is now much bigger than when I found her.  She gets along better with the four tiny dogs than they amongst themselves.  She likes to play and climb trees every hour of every day.  For a cat she seems to almost never sleep.  Maybe she’s just happy she found her big animal family.  We now have six dogs, two cats, and 8 chickens.

🙂

katy’s chicken test and the brave chicken

You have to wonder if it’s narcissism or stupidity in chickens that cause them to challenge animals with big teeth and 10 times their size .

Anyway, I actually set up this supervised chicken test in the images below because katy the big white dog failed an unplanned and unsupervised chicken test a couple of months ago when one happy just for a moment chicken escaped the chicken pen.  I can sum up the results of that earlier test with two words – “poor chicken.”  Even back then katy had already been taught that chickens are not simply fun flappy chew toys.  However, dogs are a little like children when you’re trying to teach them what not to do.  As soon as you have your back turned you’ll discover whether or not they have really been taught to avoid certain things.

So I’ve been working with katy to try to get her trained not to kill chickens.  To begin with this is mostly done by scolding her if she acts like she’s going to eat the chicken.  Most dogs are pretty smart and they quickly learn if you don’t approve of them doing something.  And then at least while they know you’re around they’ll mostly try to behave.  After she learns that part then the 2nd phase of training is to get her to follow the training when I’m not around or she thinks I’m not around.  This is mostly through having her in close proximity to chickens while I’m close enough to hear the chicken scream if katy forgets her training.

So i’m glad to announce that katy passed her one day supervised test and no one is more happier than the test chicken.  The chicken was being bullied by the other hens so I decided to separate her for a little while and let her participate in some exciting dog training.

Katy hasn’t graduated from chicken training yet so there will be more tests and test chickens but maybe she’ll continue to do well.  Katy is in a large pen with another dog, a blue heeler we call sargent, and he’s been trained not to kill chickens for many years.  But if you put him with an untrained dog that attacks a chicken, he’s not able to override his pack instinct to join in on the carnage. 😦

 

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Katy’s not to sure about this chicken test.

 

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The chicken is really getting into the testing spirit by challenging Katy and her food bowl.

 

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This was Katy last April when someone abandoned her on our road.

small rivulets of watercolor danced back and forth as I whimsically attempted to sketch and paint in the backyard swing

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small rivulets of watercolor danced back and forth as I whimsically attempted to sketch and paint in the backyard swing

I had finally sat in the swing enough days and watched the dogs play that I decided I’d try to do a quick and simple sketch and watercolor painting.  I think somehow they know when I try to sketch them because they won’t stay still and I’m not very good at sketching especially dogs from different angles and perspective.  Although sketching and painting in a swing doesn’t make things any easier either.  LOL.

Anyway, I figured I’d use the opportunity to blog about a watercolor field kit I bought and some tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way.  I think i only paid around $15 for the kit and you can find it at Michael’s or Hobby Lobby both of which have weekly coupons for 40% to 50% off.  Here is a link to amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Sakura-XNCW-24N-Assorted-Watercolors-Sketch/dp/B001OVG40E

So here a few tips and tricks.  As you can see a 4×6 index card fits neatly in the case.  What isn’t visible is a small ring in the bottom of the case so you can hold it securely with your finger.  Back when I used to dabble with watercolor more often I always used traditional brushes but a few months ago I discovered watercolor brush pens and luckily the case above comes with one.  It holds the water inside the pen and you squeeze it slightly to wet or clean the brush.  It works pretty well but you’ll still want to hold onto your classical brushes for more options.

As you may notice the mixing tray will fit on the left or right side of the case.  This is a convenient design and it fits in the middle so you can close it inside the case when you’re done.  The water brush comes apart when you’re not using it so it also stores inside the case.  The lighter can be used to strike a flame close to wet paint to dry it quickly so you can close it in your case – just be careful not to burn your paper.

When it comes to drying the brush or cleaning it during painting, you could use a paper towel or cloth but it could be tedious to keep up with.  So while the kit comes with a small sponge on both sides with one visible in the picture, I decided to wear an old cotton sports wrist band also visible in the picture.  It actually works better than the small sponge that’s built in the case and it gives a nice artsy color pattern to an otherwise dull white sports band.  🙂

The silly sketch and painting is of two of my four small dogs.  There is a debris pile in the backyard that I need to clean up but a colony of lizards have claimed it as their home and the dogs love to chase them 24×7.   The clumsily sketched and painted drum in the picture is what I plan on burning the wood debris in.  That is if the wood doesn’t naturally decay first.

I had always thought watercolor painting was too messy to do quickly and I wasn’t familiar with these field kits until I saw a video of someone painting watercolor with one on a public bus.  I then decided I had to get one and try out so I can do more watercolor.  It is really quick and easy to do use watercolor almost anywhere with one of these kits.

One final tip that I’ll share is one I’ve read about but haven’t tried yet so test it at your own risk.  🙂   If you want to swap out any of the individual paint colors that originally arrived in the kit, you can pop out the cell and replace it with another one of the same size.  Also, if you have watercolor paint in a tube and you want to use it in the field kit then you can pour the watercolor tube paint into an empty cell and leave the kit open for a day or two for it to dry out.  Then it should work like any of the other colors since you have to add water to activate them.  Good luck and if you need any tutorials on how to get started or learn about advanced techniques check out videos on YouTube.

 

 

Trying out an old camera and my recent Goodwill Haul

Trying out an old camera and my recent Goodwill Haul

Quite a few years back my wife and I bought this Cannon Power shot A495.  It’s never worked very well but I decided to get it out and try it again and snap a few pics of a recent Goodwill thrift store trip.  Goodwill prices are a little higher than they used to be but I still shop there often because the money goes to a great cause and overall the prices are still awesome.  I mean you never know what you’re going to find mixed with good prices and helping out others so how cool is that.  The first pic was taken with my older on it’s last leg iPod touch.

 

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Little blue guy approves of the blue camera but the pig just wanted to be the center of attention.

 

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The cool looking yellow bowl was 99 cents.  I figured it would make a good soup or cereal bowl after an industrial strength cleaning.

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The pink globe was 2.99 and the yellow and blue vases were 99 cents each.  All the toys came in a plastic bag for 2.99.

So came out to 8.95 so not bad for all the stuff.  Now I just got to go out in my yard and find some flowers to put in the vases – I think some roses would work well.  🙂

 

 

 

“What a distressing contrast there is between the radiant intelligence of the child and the feeble mentality of the average adult.”

“What a distressing contrast there is between the radiant intelligence of the child and the feeble mentality of the average adult.” – Sigmund Freud

Child wearing red sleeves creates chalk art on sidewalk

While I’m not a big fan of Freud, I think he may have been on to something here.  Today we give children medications to calm them down and make them tiny sleepy minded zombies and are constantly shushing them when their wonderful little minds race and they want to share their uncontainable but fun thoughts with us or worse yet they are told by adults to shut-up or stop asking so many questions.  Maybe it’s a conspiracy by some adults to bring their children’s intelligence down to the level of the adults.

Personally I’ve always thought we should encourage children to think on their own and not be afraid to ask questions.  Maybe that way they can grow up to be above average adults.  🙂

Betrayed again, my all too common unwitting chat with those pesky Nigerian Scammers.

Betrayed again, my all too common unwitting chat with those pesky Nigerians.

As I was having a long overdue but friendly chat with a somewhat distant relative whom I thought was either drunk or possibly sleep deprived, I finally figured out he wasn’t a relative at all but the danged ol lochness monster and you know what he said to me, he wanted to know if I had about tree-fiddy.  Ok so he asked for an iTunes $15 gift card instead of $3.50 but it’s close enough I suppose.   Image result for tree fiddy meme no profanity

I was gonna include a YouTube video about this scene but it had too much profanity for me to post.

 

 

Infinity’s Conveyor of Numbers and Thoughts

 

Infinity’s Conveyor of Numbers and Thoughts

If I take the concept infinity as it applies to numbers and add something to it such as thoughts then do I still get infinity even if that something else isn’t purely a number?  So David Hilbert had his infinity hotel and I have my infinity of thoughts?  No?  Maybe?  LOL.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hilbert%27s_paradox_of_the_Grand_Hotel

And what does this have to do if anything with Zeno’s paradox of Achilles and the Tortoise?  And more importantly will these thought experiments lead to an infinite loop inside ones mind?  Nah, that would only happen if you were more connected to the other yous in parallel universes of course assuming such things exist.

So why even consider such profound and incomprehensible ideas that some people would consider useless and headache invoking?  I think I agree with many ideas Max Tegmark lays out in his book Our Mathematical Universe and Andrew Liddle summed up nicely in a review for Nature,

The culmination that Tegmark seeks to lead us to is the “Level IV multiverse”. This level contends that the Universe is not just well described by mathematics, but, in fact, is mathematics. All possible mathematical structures have a physical existence, and collectively, give a multiverse that subsumes all others. Here, Tegmark is taking us well beyond accepted viewpoints, advocating his personal vision for explaining the Universe.

Ok, now may be a good time for me to admit that I’m a Math major and a bit obsessed with math and physics but please don’t hold that against me because if Max is right then we’re not only related genetically as humans but also as numbers.  🙂

And so you don’t consider me as being totally biased I’ll even include in this fanboy glorification of science, physics and all things math, for your viewing pleasure since you’ve made it this far – a dissenting opinion from an old show I somehow got exposed to as a kid and still enjoy today…

Not every show can get away with having a weather balloon as the evil villain:

And so you don’t think I’m the only one who thinks of the risks of infinite loops, I end with an interesting thought by Douglas Hofstadter ingeniously named Hofstadter’s law that says “It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.”  The “it” in this case is describing my point.  Good Night.  🙂