2008-09-30

Look! More pictures! Other stuff that grows in The Yard


As seen previously, there's this fern, well over 15 years old

Asparagus, I believe, going to seed; we haven't planted any since 2000 at the latest...

Mint. Almost as pervasive as Clematis, but nowhere as obnoxious; a good neighbor, plays well with others.

Mint in Bloom.

Wild Pea, attempts to be Clematis but doesn't quite make it; it is on the list...

I know, it's the 30th, the pictures are from the 24th, so sue me already.

OH, important stuff, tomorrow I get my eyes checked for the first time in like, say, five years? I suspect I'll shortly have new glasses, now to find a style that doesn't slip down my nose and out of proper position, and doesn't irritate the ears. *snort* Maybe I'll just get sports spectacles for everyday use...

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A picture is worth a thousand words, wherefore let us be brief...

At last! What was underneath all the Blackberries and Clematis, anyway?

Just how large was that Blackberry root?

(HINT: Knife is 32cm end to end)

LOOK! Still more Clematis striving to be free!

Brief is as brief does.

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2008-09-29

Do nor ask for whom the Clematis grows...

...it grows for thee!

One of these days I'll write Fin to the Clematis, but not quite yet.

Its been good growing weather lately, everything that might grow this time of year is, so after working on dismembering Apple prunings for a while I decided it was time to do another walk about the yard to see if anything was growing as shouldn't, like Clematis.

It looked pretty good. Former strongholds and fastnesses showed no green, no growth, and thus seem safe. And still I looked, hither and yon, seeking that telltale distinctive shade of green, that shape of leaf, the jointed stem, anything which would say 'this way Clematis dwells, fear and tremble ye mighty,' and no sign did I see.

Yet still did I seek. And as is written, 'Seek and ye shall find,' I sought and I found. Seven did I find, some scarce showing above the surface, only the tinge of Evil making them perceptible, some more boldly did stand forth, growing anew in ancient fastnesses, sheltered amongst branches from Apple prunings seven years past, thinking them adequate to hold back my righteous wrath. Carefully did I clear the ground about them, to uncover any tendrils they might have sent forth to establish forward encampments, concealed colonies, covert concentrations of corruption to fester until they might burst and spew forth their strangler's stems and once again do battle for the very soul of the yard! But for naught did they plot in their leafy fortresses, for full deep did I thrust my Hori-Hori blade, wide about did I dig, and with strength combined with delicacy did I draw them out from their redoubts and boldly did I stride to the Yard Debris bin and cast them forth, out of the garden, that they might die in heat and darkness and never more disturb the tranquility of the yard.

And now, closer seems the day when I shall be able tell of The Last Dangerous Clematis, when I shall know that they be dealt their last blow, struck down and driven forth, never to darken the surface of the yard again.

2008-09-28

Apple Pruning and wood accumulation

Given the proper species of Apple, seven years growth on an adult tree can generate very straight 12'+ lengths of wood, significant portions of which have respectable girth.

I do own a spokeshave, maybe I should turn out some quarterstaves...

Anyway, I'm looking at a lot of hardwood here, much of it straight enough and thick enough that while I don't see what I'd use it for, I'm disinclined to give it the heave-ho provided I get it processed for storage promptly. If nothing else I'll have tons of nice dowel stock.

I also own a 12" thickness planer, down the line after the wood has seasoned I could rig up a sled and plane them flat, then see about laminating or pinning them together... could create cutting boards if nothing else, or a table top, or something.

I think I have my work cut out for me this week... or that I'll spend the week cutting out work for me... didn't figure a way to phrase that for a true groaner, sorry!

In regard to the potential table/desk carcase, yep, it'd work, one problem. It weighs a ton, and moving it onto the porch or inside isn't something I can do on my own, so right now it looks like a table in the yard is in my future. I should really take a picture of everything right now and post, it is again a case of not recognizing the yard when compared to previous incarnations of yardness. When I finish pruning there will be no question about the existence of a house behind the Apple trees. There will also be no question about the existence of a Walnut tree which needs to be taken down, I don't like its position in relation to said house, it'll be somewhat tricky given the direction it leans, will require careful topping and delimbing prior to the main trunk. And then I'll have Walnut as well as Apple to work with.

Too bad the Filbert volunteers never seem to make it, they're the ones I try to save! But no, Oaks and Walnuts, and Maples, and Holly, and some others I've yet to identify, but the Filberts just seem too fragile. Pity.

Mind blanking out.

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2008-09-27

Mixed News

The sort of news where you aren't sure if you should celebrate, or cry tears of despair.

Got a letter from Social Security yesterday. They've approved the medical basis for my disability claim, and are now dealing with the non-medical portion. My translation of the latter part is that now they look at my work history to see how much time I've put into Social Security, and how much I was making, to determine how much they're going to start disbursing. Given that I've surpassed the requisite 40 credits, or whatever they call them, it'll be the full load. Just wish the Oregon Historical Society had paid comparably with The City of Chicago, especially since The City of Chicago doesn't participate in Social Security; governmental entities are the only folks who can opt out of Social Security, OK, them and religious organizations, anyway it would have been nice if the calculations were based on what I made at The Chicago Public Library, I took a $10,000.00 pay cut when I hired on at OHS, and that was before I found out I'd been hired at step -2 on the pay scale, made it more like a $14,000.00 pay cut; never did get around to checking to see if they had mentioned that fact to me before I accepted their offer, I'm pretty sure they hadn't, but given accepting an oral job offer over the phone there was no way I'd have been able to prove they hadn't, I admit it should have clued me into just how reliable their administration was going to be.

Anyway, sometime in the not-so-distant future I'll be receiving a four year back payment on Social Security Disability, and then monthly benefits. Like I said, not sure if I should celebrate or cry. Celebrate that they agree I'm no longer employable due to various physical ailments, or cry because they agree I'm no longer employable due to various physical ailments...

So I expect I'll do neither, and just be glad that this particular stress-source is over, except for the periodic reviews to confirm my status until I reach normal retirement age.

Not much else to say right now, except that I harvested the last apples this morning, and then started pruning the trees. Given how long since they'd last been pruned, the yard is covered almost as much by the pruned branches as it'd been covered by blackberries earlier. Scary, that.

Interesting bit on the pruning, one section looks like if I keep being careful on how I do it I'll end up with a one-piece carcase for a new desk, just need to put a top on it.

Anyway.

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2008-09-25

Vertigo

Vertigo is a very odd thing, and its been visiting me a bunch recently.

Like, looking up, and suddenly the room is turning around me, except it isn't. I can see that its not turning, yet I can feel that everything is spinning, like I'm at the center of a merry-go-round.

Or, really weird this, pulling on blackberry roots, and being ready to swear that the earth just shook, reverberated, like I was pulling on Yggdrasil's roots, the World Tree of Norse Mythoes, and the World literally shook, and knowing that there was no way that was actually happening.

Very strange. And my head trying to turn, drifting as with the tide, toward the right, actually feeling resistance as I tense my muscles and hold position.

If part of the mind believes something is happening, the rest of the mind will react as though it is happening.

Just like if one part of the mind creates sounds which aren't actually out there, they still exist, inside the mind which creates them. Some do great things with this, as Beethoven wrote his last symphony after he was completely and utterly deaf, yet his ears still heard the sounds and his hands could transcribe them.

So too with me, except that I haven't developed the skills to transcribe. And I wish I could. Of course, I also wish I had better control over the music, sometimes it isn't very restful or inspired, just annoying as all get-out. Other times, like right now, its pretty neat, a guitar riff inspired by BŐC's Don't Fear The Reaper, with a nifty oboe/keyboard or maybe electric guitar bit overlaying, and a flute solo descant just joined in, nifty stuff. But exhausting, as part of my mind is creating this, and then routing it through the neural pathways such that while I can feel that there are no pressure waves impacting my eardrums, the stereophonic stimulus is there, and I can't turn it down or off. Well, sometimes I can convince my mind that it should fade out like the end of a studio recording, and sometimes can convince it to not fade back in with the next song. Well, now its fading in with another BŐC-style ballad, for a bit I thought it might shift to something akin to Rush.

Or maybe a blend with some early Jade Warrior, haven't listened to them in years, should drag out Floating World sometime, have to hook up a record player and unearth the platters... or track down the cassette tapes I made lo these many years agone.

It's a bloody pain when you can't trust your mind to properly report what's going on in your surroundings.

well,

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2008-09-21

The World Between Floors, or, quite the lowered ceiling we've got

Back when the current building was built, there having been at least one previous on this foundation, they went for mega-tall ceilings. This became handy when they did major rewiring and plumbing later on, as they found the easiest way to do it was to do the work, running below the current ceiling, then when they were done, lowering the ceiling by 3-4 feet; the ceiling is still 8 feet or so, I mean, ya could have installed loft sleeping space before they lowered it. I'd be willing to say the upstairs hadn't previously been plumbed, given the way the plumbing is installed; I'd also say they weren't concerned with the plumbing being all that well organized, its quite the ugly jumble.

Anyway, there is around 3 feet between the old ceiling and the new rafters for the lowered ceiling, making it not too tough to maneuver between floors when doing additional wiring, things like running 14/2 grounded cable replacing 18/2 ungrounded; hey, we've even replaced some wire & tube stuff!

Getting between floors wasn't always easy. When my folks bought the place back in '76 [1976, that is], there was no access to between floors. That changed real fast, as we wanted to install new electrical services for the upstairs apartments, and upgrade from fuses to breakers, and install base-board heaters instead of central heating, all at the same time; we had to replace the main runs, at the least, and the baseboard heaters are 220, not 110. So we opened up the area under the stairs [talk about wasted space!] and made it possible to get between floors... by clambering up a ladder, twisting sideways, and doing all sorts of odd contortions to get back out onto the wobbly ladder my folks had for this purpose; sure, the electricians who did the initial work had a nicer ladder, ours was somewhat ... less nice.

Over the years we had reason to do more thorough rewiring, and I'd get sent up the ladder [crammed into the coat closet we'd set up in the under stair area], remove the jigsaw puzzles stored on a shelf we'd put in, remove the paneling behind the puzzles, then twitch around like an asthmatic fish out of water until I flopped into the worst section of between floors, then drag a trouble light and extension cord and tons of wire & supplies and tools and... you get the idea this was not my favorite activity? Add to this that the between floors had no floor, just rafters and plaster ceiling, one mis-step and down I go, as it were.

Given this, I tended to stay between floors as long as possible once there, maximizing my output at the expense of things like breaks and lunch, because getting in and out was such a pain.

Until the day I slipped.

[such a temptation to end the post there, do a continued next ish bit, but I'd not do that, especially since the follow-up post would be read first by late comers to the blog...]

I caught myself before I went sailing between the rafters, but I did have a nice view of my parent's bedroom I'd not had before, and noted that my [intercepted] trajectory would have terminated [possibly literally] with my head hitting the arm of a rocking chair.

I decided I was done for the day, and took the usual way back downstairs, via the ladder.

After reassuring ourselves that I was OK, Dad and I were looking at the [new] hole in my folks' bedroom ceiling, not looking forward to patching it, when Mom had a brilliant idea; why not install a pull-down ladder, the type they sell for attic access?

Hole in ceiling, not a bug, just an undocumented feature.

Pull-down ladder installed, much easier to get between floors. Then my moment of brilliance, how about wiring the between floors for power and light?

We've had occasion since to have workers in to do stuff between floors, and they love it, compared to other places they've had to struggle with. Plenty of room to maneuver, lots of light, power outlets every eight-ten feet, lights and power controlled by a GFCI outlet at the top of the pull-down ladder [using the 'test' button as the on/off switch], ah bliss [comparatively].

Still, moving around with my knees resting on the joists is less than comfortable, and as I develop arthritis downright painful, hence buying top-notch knee pads with gel liners a few years ago; haven't been between floors since, of course.

But, as noted yesterday, the knee pads also work well when working in The Yard. If adjusted properly so blisters don't form under the straps.

Which, as I didn't mention yesterday, I know how to do, but neglected to do as it was a bit more effort than I felt like just then...

I did mention that I'm an idiot, yes?

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2008-09-20

Knee Pads, gardening, and me

Used my knee pads today, the ones I bought several years back so I'd not kill myself when scampering around on rafters between floors [sometime I'll describe our 'between floors', it'll make sense then...]

Worked well, didn't have anything gouging into my knees whilst tormenting Clematis and blackberries; yes, still with the blackberries and Clematis, the yard is maybe larger than the 4-plex its attached to, and say 80% of it had been covered by these pests.

The first pass through the yard is officially complete; I'll take pictures again soon so you can see the difference in the areas already displayed. Clean-up, or tidying, is ongoing. The second pass is in progress, and will continue to be in progress for who knows how long. Given that the second pass consists of wandering around, looking at the ground, and watching to see if Clematis or blackberries are trying to grow back, and if so, dig them out, the second pass is known as 'job security'.

Having been mostly successful with the yard, and given the approaching rainy season, the mind naturally turns to indoors exploits, and thus terrifying thoughts of The Shop, My Apartment, The Office, Mom's Tax Returns, etc., all come to mind. Oh, yeah, and the vacant apartment that we should finish renovating and think about renting out again.

But given the success of 'Operation Clear Cut', these interior operations don't terrify me as much as they used to. And I'd really like to have a place to work on things without using my couch as a workbench, and that means getting things in order. Again. And then keeping them that way. Hard to remember how back in Chicago my place was always tidy, or at most an hour would get it in tip-top shape for hosting a party, been ages since that was the case here. One early thing to do will be reworking the first book truck I made, it's way too big, can't move around very well, needs to be divided in half or some such. Book trucks, you know, what they use in libraries to sort and shelve books, I make them. They're handy to have around. If you don't super-size them.

Anyway, back to kneepads. Learned something, I did. Properly adjusting, important is, yes. Not properly adjusted, wrinkles in pants behind knees form, blisters form, blisters pop, pain comes. see last post in re idiots, and my being one.

Mind fuzzed, effect of 3+ hours working outside.

puppy posting shall occur!

2008-09-19

Sharp objects, gloves, pruning, and idiots like myself

Yep, saws are sharp, especially if new. Saws cut things. Saws aren't too picky about what they cut, especially if someone is using a pull saw to trim twigs off of downed branches and happens to be pulling towards themselves. And it's a really bad idea to use a saw with an improper TPI [teeth per inch], 'cause then you pull just that much harder, and they jump about and catch on things and are pretty much out of proper control.

Gloves are a form of protection, but have different types for different threats. Pigskin gloves are supple, form fitting, and provide OK protection from rose thorns, hence their use in rose gloves. They aren't so good at protecting from pull saws, although they do snag them a bit and slow them down, thus preventing the worst damage possible.

Some people, although doing well on intelligence tests, don't always demonstrate being from the deep end of the gene pool in the ways that really count. These people, while not fitting into the classic definition of being an idiot, are. Idiots, that is.

Guess who's an idiot? Hint: less than a mm deeper into my left forefinger and I'd have hit a gusher, instead I've got this pair of long, deep cuts with just a tad of blood trying to creep out from somewhere in the depths, the type of cut that is a real nuisance when it comes to healing. The type of cut which says, 'This guy's an idiot, a real idiot, but a lucky idiot to boot.'

I think, when I work on glove design, that I'm going to look into leather and Kevlar, with the leather going behind the Kevlar. Leather works well on punctures, Kevlar works well on slashes. I'm thinking I may be wrong on the Kevlar, it spreads impact, so not Kevlar, but those chainmail butcher glove thingies, they deal with sharp objects trying to cut stuff. Yeah, use them as over gloves, ya know, hand galoshes, yeah, that's the ticket!

Or maybe just a good left-handed fully articulated gauntlet. Out of high grade stainless; not sure if I'd go for the Camelot or Dr. Doom look.

Maybe some funky kind of slip-on bell guard, to deflect the saw...

I could also try not being an idiot, but that, I'm afraid, is what they refer to as a lost cause.

Better to plan on my being an idiot and being pleasantly surprised if I'm not, than otherwise.

2008-09-16

Western White Clematis, documents relating to

The USDA Plants profile for Clematis ligusticifolia Nutt. western white clematis makes for interesting reading.

Basically, they agree with my observations. Clematis, if given proper soil, etc., will grow mondo tap roots, stems up to 20 meters in length, meter's are a bit longer than a yard, I haven't been exaggerating their length, with a winter die-back maintenance of up to 5 meters, will grow up fences if given the chance [good for catching soil and tumbleweeds, so they say], will propagate from a double leaf & stem softwood section as little as 1½" long, have a successful propagation rate from hardwood sections of similar size of 76% given some slight encouragement, but don't do anywhere so well given thin soil; they really do need that deep taproot. Oh, and damage to the crown of the taproot, the bulgy whorl at the surface, doesn't phase them that much, two years seems indicated to eradicate 'cause they can grow back from the roots.

They can make do with as little as 7" of rain annually. Natively found in semi-arid grasslands and plateaus across the Trans-Rockie Mountain West.

Don't do too well reproducing by seed, the fluffy pods make it tough for them to reach the ground, have to get the fluff shredded apart; then again, I suspect small rodents would find the fluff right nice for nesting, which would place the seeds where they want to be, thank you very much. Given one of their uses listed is providing shelter to small rodents, I may be a bit brighter than they are, or at least more in tune with my inner mouse. Also... I noticed a number of times when excavating Clematis that the ground would suddenly feel like I'd stumbled upon a burrow, it'd feel like a hollow existed a couple inches below the surface, just right for ... small rodents ... me thinks I am brighter than some of these agriculture types!

And what if they were out in those semi-arid areas, the fluff would catch dust easily, wouldn't it? Blow a ways, get covered in dust, settle down, have dust pile against it, come time to germinate... No, I think they aren't doing a good job of analyzing this, these plants are well adapted to their native range.

Pretty impressive plants, a Worthy Opponent, if you will. And I can see how they turn people to their side, they are pretty...

Nay! Get thee behind me, Satan! Never shall I fall astray, saying, 'Oh, just this small section, it won't do any harm.' Next thing you knew I'd be ordering Scotch Bloom, or Kudzu, or Queen Anne's Lace, which reminds me I've got some of that to work on as well...

If it weren't for the heat I'd be out in the yard, but it is toasty today, so no go.

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The Joy of Duplexers. On the making of books.

No sarcasm this post, or shouldn't be!

Duplexers are spiffy, especially if you get one for your Color Laser Printer [a Konica Minolta magicolor 2430DL, four separate toner cartridges, expanded memory, network capable out of the box].

I've had the printer for a bit, long enough that the initial black toner was running low and needed to be replaced, so went searching refills. While searching for refills, used a search which brought up a Jim Dandy price the optional Duplexer, nice enough that after several hours of additional searching and thinking I ordered it.

[That was a delivery FedEx did fine on, part of what threw me on the latter debacle, must have changed delivery personnel, actually, they did change delivery personnel; whoops, said sarcasm-free-zone, back to my regularly scheduled post!]

Nifty thing with duplexers is you can print two-sided items, nice for manuals, etc., and even better, if the items were sized properly when created that would be two-sided center-fold items, booklet-style, four pages total per sheet.

Of course, once you've printed them out, how to process them for posterity?

Why, you bind them, duh! "yes, yes, that was obvious, but how to bind them?" you ask.

Well, if four pages per sheet, then step one is to take your paper cutter, align the paper properly and slice them in half, creating a 5½" x 8½" stack. If just plain two-sided by-pass that step.

Now what?

Grab either cardstock or construction paper, acid-free of course, slice off a section the proper height for the spine of your book-to-be, make it about an inch wider than the thickness of your stack [measured such that the stack is not compressed, but not loosey-goosey, want to be able to turn pages easily when done], pause for breath and to clear your head, use a ruler to mark the thickness of the stack centered on the cardstock, this should give two lines dividing the cardstock approx. ½"|thickness-of-book|½", fold them on those lines. This gives you the future spine to your book. Cut out two sheets of cardstock to act as front/back covers, if bold and daring you might actually try to pre-print them as front/back covers, slip them into place at the ends of the stack, you should now have the stack of book-to-be, including covers, and the spine.

Remind me to redo this with circles and arrows, OK?

Next, grab your hot glue gun, um, you do have one of these, yes? Preferably with the optional tips which allow for wider beads of glue? What you need to do now is fill the area between the folds, the side that the book-pages will slip into, fill that area with hot-melt glue. Odds are real good that this will cool off before you get it filled from end to end, don't worry about that, this is prep work. Also doesn't need to be perfect, the next step will even it out.

After you have the initial layer of hot glue applied, find some good insulated gloves, say the welders gloves from Harbor Freight mentioned a bunch of posts back, and drag out your heat-gun/hair-dryer, either will do. Find something to place the spine on that won't be hurt by heat. Put the gloves on so you don't bake your hands while doing the next step.

Holding onto the spine so it doesn't blow away, crank up the hot air blower of your choice [hey, bet a hot air popper might even work!], and direct the air over the hot melt glue, until it flows together and levels out creating a nice even layer of glue across the spine.

The next step is tricky, and should be done with far more care than I've been taking; ADHD, ya dig?

You need to somehow clamp the pages together in the form of the book-to-be, with the spine-side clear. Making it so they aren't skewed at an angle is the tricky bit. Some way of tacking the spine-to-be in place is nice if you can think of one, um, maybe painter's blue masking tape, tape the folded tabs down to the covers, you'll want to be able to apply heat to the back of the spine without touching the tape or whatever.

At this point in my visualization I see the book being all put together, clamped up, and just needing the spine heated enough that the hot glue will melt and allow the spine to press onto the pages, embedding them into the hot glue. If so, good; don't do what I do, which is grab the stack of pages without clamping them and mung them about into cooling hot glue after heating it up with the hot air, it gets ugly and the next stage, making it come out properly, is much harder, no, do as I say not as I do, really, please. I'm not taking a short-cut based on vast experience and ability, I'm being an idiot and knowing it while I'm doing it. There are enough idiots around, don't be one, OK?

Anyway, doing as I say and not as I do, heat and pressure needs to be applied to the spine of the book, enough to melt the glue through the cardstock.

The best tool for this in most households is your garden-variety clothes iron. Plug it in, crank it on high, no steam, and once it heats up iron the back of the book. A nice shiny smooth finish on the iron is preferred, anything that's scorched onto it is likely to come loose and dirtify the spine of the book, bad enough that you already need to take care to prevent it from scorching from heat without adding gunk to it from the iron. Yes, dear reader, I need to refinish the face of my iron.

Moving right along. Iron the spine, taking care to be careful near the ends so that you don't have glue squish out and get on the face of the iron, rocking over the folded edges a little to encourage the glue to bind the covers to the spine tabs. Apply pressure while doing this, you want the pages of the book to nestle down into the hot glue.

You'll get better at this with practice.

The nifty thing is that you can use this same technique with those paperback books with the pages falling out, the ones where they didn't set the pages properly. A good idea to place a layer of cardstock between the spine of the book and the iron to prevent scorching... o what an idiot i am, doing that while making the book thingies would work, too, im an idiot im an idiot im an idiot

Yes, place a layer of cardstock between the face of the iron and the spine of the book, this will prevent scorching and otherwise messing up the appearance of the book.

Labeling the book. My handwriting is at least as bad as you suspect, so I use one of those paper label maker things, peel-and-stick the title, etc., on the spine and the cover.

Once you've finished labeling the spine, run some transparent book tape down the spine for good measure.

Courtesy of the duplexer and this methodology, I have created hardcopy editions of a number of PDF manuals I have for the printer and my camera [both of which are refurbished and came sans printed manuals], instructional materials for the imaging software I'm using, and will continue doing this type of thing in the future.

And as always, learn from my mistakes, make up your own mistakes, don't use mine, I'll charge you royalties if you do.

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2008-09-14

Garden fabric/cloth/whatever they call it and weeds

It's not quite plastic sheeting, but close. The idea is that you lay it down, poke holes in it for what you want to plant, it'll let that grow fine, it'll let water through from above, discourage water loss through surface evaporation, be mean to weeds, and in all things make your gardening life better.

I don't know about all of that, but it does make it easier to remove Blackberries, Clematis, and other root-intensive plant life.

You see, the interface between the garden cloth and the ground is just made for root expansion, long tendrils scrambling out and about in that boundary where the ground is soft and moist, both below and above the fabric. So instead of major tap roots reaching half-way to Epsilon Eridanii IV, you have these long streamers of roots and rootlets reaching in a variety of directions, but few of those directions being down. And when you pull on them, the roots are, on the whole, stronger than what they've rooted in, and multi-foot long sections will come loose without too much effort.

It is amazing how long the roots of Blackberries can be, and just when you think the root mass you're pulling on is going to surface at the next outcropping of Blackberries you discover that it actually continues to the one beyond, and only then does it loop back to the intermediate interloper.

Apparently there is a school of thought that says if you lay this stuff down it will kill off any weeds caught underneath. This may be the case for wimpy weeds like dandelions, but not tough weeds like Blackberries, they love the humid heat that builds up during the initial deployment, and then like to creep out into the mat of dead grass that builds up on top of the fabric over the years.

But still and all, it does make it much easier to remove the nasty plantsies when they raise their ugly heads.

And it appears to be pretty effective against Clematis, which really wants to have deep roots, and gets pretty scrawny when forced to have shallow roots; Blackberry is better at boring through, Clematis is stymied by the garden fabric.

This makes getting rid of these unwanted plants a tour through the history of my parents' gardening methodology, finding where and when they used garden cloth by the behaviour of the plants, and the sharp demarcation between above/below root masses, in some areas I can practically roll up the upper layer of soil that's built up on top of the cloth. Horticultural Archaeology, here I come!

My brain is tired, so its time to

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2008-09-13

Property, Government, Freedom, et ali

As best I can, I'm trying to write down some thoughts which came to me while working outside earlier today; it could have been toiling in the hot sun, but I don't think so...

Property; this relates to the United States of America, it may differ in other countries. Anyway.

We talk a lot about the 'Right to Property', owning things 'Free and Clear', 'Unencumbered', about the freedom to do with it as we please. The reality is far different. No one in this country owns property free and clear, unencumbered, with the freedom to do with it as they please. Haven't since the Whiskey Rebellion, at the latest.

No court in the US will ever strike down an EULA, although none will enforce it upon the Federal government. EULAs, after all, are the Software Industry's declaration that they hold the same rights to property intellectual that the Federal Government holds to property physical, and as the power to enforce derives from Federal Force of Arms, only the Federals are immune; the US Military does not need to abide by licenses, being able to cite 'needs of state' when challenged.

You're a property owner, you own your home. Rather, you have custody of it under sufferance of the Federal Government; don't pay your property taxes, they can take it away. Doesn't matter if no services are being provided, can be as remote a location in Alaska or the Ozarks as you can think of, you may exist as a subsistence farmer, you have to generate cash revenues to pay your property taxes; they'll then tax those revenues, of course.

You may be retired, on a fixed income, and have no hope of keeping up with inflation, and have long held that at least you had your own home, no one could throw you out of that, didn't need to worry about rent; wrong, property taxes exist, and while you may have no intention of selling, property taxes are always based on what could be realized if you chose to sell, and artificially inflated at that, because property prices go up when there are more buyers than sellers, scarcity drives market price, if every piece of property sold each year, which is the presumption behind property valuation for taxation, the prices would be far lower than they are.

Some Governmental entities, such as Oregon, have at times allowed Senior Citizens to defer their property taxes; defer, as in put of until later, later in this case being after they die, upon which their heirs are faced with an immense debt to pay, with effectively no grace period, in some cases exceeding what they could hope to realize from the sale of the property concerned.

This is effectively the same as the 'reverse mortgage' being touted about these days, with private lenders rather than governmental agencies; no successful challenges going to be made of whatever terms they set up, as a successful challenge would be precedent to challenge similar governmental practices.

You've paid your taxes, free and clear now, right? Wrong.

Imminent domain. Property can be seized at will by governmental agencies for the 'public good', which can range from sidewalks, widening roads for increased traffic, all the way to total seizure for alternate use [which can include being a parking lot for a new shopping mall]; in less scrupulous municipalities, imminent domain is used as a bargaining tool by developers, 'sell at this price or we'll get it condemned to our use'.

Sounds like I'm a frothing-at-the-mouth right-wing militia type, doesn't it? Don't think much of them, their solutions, in my mind, aren't much different than the current problems, except they don't bother to cloak them in public concern. They do have one thing in their favor; they never cloak that the ultimate means of controlling property is force majeure, that he who can wield the greatest force at a given location says what happens with property, which is what the Whiskey Rebellion established.

Given that, then the best one can hope for is a situation with the greatest constraints upon the use of force; beware the man who seeks para-military powers, for para-militaries operate without the constraints placed upon the regular military.

Do not expect copyright to loosen, or to expire earlier than they currently do; never mind that the initial copyright/patent/etc. period was established by the founders of this country as something along the lines of 14 years, total, upon which the item/concept entered the public domain, and now its more like life+25, the whole concept of copyright extending past the lifetime of the writer is ludicrous, how can the deceased receive a return on their investment? They wanted to guarantee an honest return upon investment, while at the same time encouraging research and development in the private sector; not resting upon one's laurels, not tying whole fields of development to one individual or firm. Rewards for innovation, that's what they wanted to safeguard, without then leading to restraint of trade or stifling of innovation; if you own the patent, you control whether anyone gets to use it, which is where all the conspiracy theorists come from in re Alternative Fuels and the major energy corporations, if technologies which would disrupt things as they currently exist are developed by the industries affected, they can prevent them from being implemented, and would of course favor any legislation which extends the duration and scope of patents and copyright... maybe they aren't so out there as all that, it does reflect the trend in regard to Corporate Law and Intellectual Property Rights.

Man, I've wandered far afield. Then again, I haven't. Rights to Property are only as valid as the Force the Property Owner can bring to bear in the relevant venues. That said, unless watchdog organizations scrupulously challenge every act of every organization to diminish the rights of the individual, individual rights of all kinds will only continue to decrease in reality, whatever the legal codes may say. No individual has the power to resist the force wieldable by corporations and governments. The original intent behind local militia in the constitution was, as argued by the right-wing extremists, to counterbalance the power of the central government; I just don't trust the current batch of extremists of any flavor to tend toward any reasonable balance as the result of their actions, they're just as bad as those they feel they oppose.

Huh. Next thing you know I'll get into my rant on States Rights and the so-called Civil War. [Hint: anti-slavery, pro-right-to-seceed; principles behind the Revolutionary War, anyone?]

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2008-09-12

Of FedEx, circles, arrows, paragraphs on the back

I mentioned several posts back that I ordered some items from Lee Valley, to use in The Yard. They were supposed to arrive on the 2008 Sept 09, and I finally received them on the 11th. They were available for delivery on the 9th, and there in lies the tale...

It seems that in their infinite wisdom the FedEx delivery team decided that my address was incorrect, and without actually checking to see if it was valid, took the item back to the depot and asked for a corrected address; seems since they were familiar with mega-complex at 4616, there couldn't be anything at 4416. On the 10th they wasted the time of the resident manager at the mega-complex for ages, going through the listings for all 80+ units, and not finding me [surprise!] they then entered in their machine that it was 'refused by recipient' and were going to ship it back to Ogdenburg, NY. I happened to spot this on the tracking page of FedEx website, that they claimed it was refused by recipient, and I promptly disputed this via email. After calming down [several hours task, in this case, as they lied; they hadn't had any contact with the recipient, so how could I have refused the package?] I then called FedEx' 800 number to discuss the matter. Given the hour all they could do was direct a message to the local office indicating that they had not gone to the correct location, as I'd been there the whole day, both days, and that if I didn't hear anything by noon to call them again and they'd connect me to the local. Checking the status in the morning the item was shown as out for delivery, so I waited. And waited. And waited. In the early evening I got a call from the delivery chaps, they were about 15 minutes out from my location and wanted to make sure I'd be there, as even with the manager's help they'd not found me the day before. After several minutes of increasingly irate, loud, conversation, I convinced them to try two blocks north of where they had been, like, where the address on the property matched the address on the package!!!!

I hung around outside until they showed up, flagged them down, got the package from them, and when I checked to see how they reported the delivery, it was listed as 'Left at door, signature not required'.

These two ignorant twits couldn't even use the correct codes to indicate it had been accepted by recipient.

When calm, I am going to write this up and send copies to both Lee Valley [I'd contacted them after seeing the 'refused by recipient' entry, that type of thing can destroy a credit rating if a merchant chooses to report it] and to FedEx, so they understand that their two delivery men cost FedEx time and money [gas ain't cheap, unnecessary trips add up real fast], as well as loosing FedEx any goodwill I had toward them, and caused me to be snarky at Lee Valley for using FedEx instead of UPS [hey, the UPS delivery man knows me by sight, probably even recognizes the name, OK?]

Some of you may not have caught the reference in the title of today's entry. Back in the day, Arlo Guthrie had this talking/singing epic, 'Alice's Restaurant', and at one point there is reference to Officers of the Law armed with Full Color Glossy Photographs, complete with Circles and Arrows, and Full Paragraphs on the back, and the Judge walks in, accompanied by his Seeing Eye Dog, and the officers look at the judge, the dog, their photos, and then sit down and cry; it being a typical case of American Blind Justice, ya dig? Well, these two jokers, they could read the address just fine, it's just that it didn't say what they thought it should, so they ignored it. Circles and arrows and paragraphs on the back do no good with the willfully blind. I've read the addresses on all the labels on the package, it was addressed properly, they just felt they knew better than any of the parties concerned. My family has owned this place since August of 1976, you might credit me with knowing the address better than a couple of punks who hadn't even been born when we moved here.

Dang, no matter when I write that letter to FedEx, sarcasm and contempt is going to shine through it, given my impression of the competence of those two.

They're just lucky I'm not their supervisor.

Oh, and the tools? Lovely, work just fine, worth waiting for, just shouldn't have had to wait two extra days over normal.

snark snark snark

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Follow up...

Lee Valley's made a note in my file to use UPS for me; avoids possible repeats from that end.

FedEx Local is not impressed with The Lads, and expressed a regret that whopping upside the head isn't allowed anymore; funny thing, that phone call made all the difference, I'm ready to take chances with FedEx again. But yeah, he was about as impressed as I was with the twits behavior on this one. Glad I'm not a supervisor any more, being the heavy was not something I was good at. Matter of fact, I was downright poor at it, one reason I'm glad I'm not in management any longer.

2008-09-10

Concerning Tests, Testing, and the Tested

All tests have underlying presumptions: 1) that the question is unambiguous, not open to interpretation, 2) that the result expected by the test designer is the best, or optimum, answer, and 3) therefore nothing is to be learned from an analysis of wrong answers across the group of testees.

In some ways, rather like a spell-checker, where an unexpected word is not analyzed to see if it is indeed the appropriate word based upon the rules of word-creation, such as 'testee' in place of 'test taker', for 'one who is tested'; more compact, and a perfectly valid pseudo-Latinate formation.

The above being an example of conflict between tester and testee, one who tests and one who is tested, with the one in a position to arbitrarily declare the other in error.

Tests designed to identify those who 'think outside the box' are doomed to failure; anyone who truly thinks 'outside the box' will think 'outside the box' they are attempting to place them in, unless the first selection criteria is 'identify those who answer other than we think best', and then start additional testing/analysis to determine which test 'wrong' because they really were in error, and which found something different in the question from what the test designers thought was there.

Standardized tests only work with standardized individuals. I dare anyone to prove me wrong on this!

I had some psychological/analytical testing done a few years back, and an entire section was thrown out because standard analysis stated that only a deliberate attempt to deceive could result in the 'contradictory' answers in that section. No analysis would be done as to why the answers were contradictory, it was self-evident that they were. No shit, I knew that as I answered them, but the questions related to a condition that existed for over twenty years, yet the underlying presumption of the questions was that all answers were for the same time instant. Thus, that I don't drink alcoholic beverages was in conflict with having a drinking problem and with friends noticing signs of alcoholism, because that can't be the case, right? Not for the same point in time, but the questions were scattered about the section specifically to prevent someone from tying them together while answering, to catch someone who is lying, in denial, and instead catch the person is being totally honest, because 1) it has been over ten years now since I have had any alcohol, 2) previously I drank rather heavily, and 3) friends who were themselves recovering alcoholics had recognized the symptoms in me. Without the context of time frame the answers are incompatible, and the test did not specify a time frame.

Unlike a test in an academic setting, where channels exist for challenging the results of a test, which I have used, successfully, there is no venue for such a challenge in these types of tests. And these tests have much greater long-term impact; it is now on my medical record that I attempted to deceive in matters which relate to my disability claim; instead of gaining insights into what's going on with me in regard to cognition, etc., I'm branded a liar.

All because of a poorly designed test. One could argue the test isn't poorly designed, but rather that the follow-up analysis/testing of those giving anomalous results is, in a word, lacking; I'd accept that except that I'm the one on the receiving end, and pretty words don't make it feel any better.

Their reasoning is akin to this: 1) Square pegs don't fit into round holes, 2) you don't fit into a round hole, 3) you are a square peg; no thought to triangular pegs, round pegs of greater girth, whatever other options there might be, just 'if a≠b, and b≠c, then a=c' which is arrant nonsense in a non-binary world. [Look, a qualifier!]

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2008-09-08

Clematis: The Danger From Above

Just when you thought we were done with Clematis...

So, chop the vines and dig up the roots, what's stuck up in trees poses no threat, right?

Wrong.

Happened to glance upwards Saturday, whilst working on Apple harvesting, and saw...

Clumps of fluffy seedpods at the ends of dead Clematis vines, way up in the tops of that there tree they'd done climbed up upon, golly gee, just waiting a little longer 'til they was the perfection of ready to go and then they was a gonna drop on by and lite a spell.

Don't ask me where that bit of dialect came from, same place as all the rest, the depths of my so-called-mind.

But there were a lot of seedpods up there, fluffy, not quite ready to take off, but still and all sneering at me something awful. I don't take well to being sneered at.

Side note: Some plants take a die-back approach, Clematis appear to take a die-forward approach. Vascular structure forces whatever resources are in the vine forward to the ends, maintaining the life of any developing seeds for as long as is possible. If they have bloomed, you can't just cut the vine, you have to pull it out and dispose of the blooms so they don't scatter seeds all over the place a bit later. Almost an argument for Rational Design, especially since they have no redeeming traits; they strangle other plants, they are poison to anything which tries to eat them, extremely hardy and persistent little beggars.

Anyway, there they were, 15' up in the air, sneering at me.

So I cut down the tree.

It didn't quite start out that way, but I didn't like that tree, it too had no redeeming value, and it had grown untended such that it endangered the telephone and power lines going into the neighbor's house. We hadn't planted it, it 'volunteered' all on it's lonesome, just like that danged tree out by the big gates, the one I mostly took down earlier.

They don't call me 'Clear-Cut' for nothing.

When cutting things which bend and flex, you need a sturdy, stiff, blade, unlike what I used. You didn't think the previous post on saws came out of a vacuum, did you? Nope, wrote it after this adventure, when the problems with improper tools were most fresh in my mind.

Also helps if you can control the direction the tree falls. By cutting of various limbs one at a time, and then the four main trunks, I was able to avoid damaging the wires which were entangled by this tree-structured tree.

The one which is going to be a pain is the Walnut in the South East corner, it leans into the neighbor's yard and partially overhangs her roof. I'll have to use a ladder and de-limb it carefully, and then top it, prior to taking it down. It's about 8" diameter at the base of the trunk, its been growing a number of years, and it's now dropping walnuts of its own. Nasty things, walnuts, although I admit their skins make an excellent die, especially suited to staining the hands of kids sent out to pick walnuts for their grandmother, most irksome when I don't like, and never have liked, walnuts. It's a good stain, doesn't wash off rapidly, wears off instead.

Anyway, my arms ache from the sawing I did this morning, as I processed some of the wood I cut down; takes up a lot less space if you lop off the limbs, branches, twigs from the main trunks, and then you can separate them as to whether to keep them to dry and season for possible use, or to yard debris them.

At this point we are looking into a dumpster, and goody for us, they charge by weight; ours is low-mass high-volume, so it won't cast anything like when we were getting rid of sheetrock.

As I was mentioning, before I kept on writing, my arms ache, so its time to

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2008-09-07

Saws

So, you want to cut something, do ya?

Saws. First, there are two basic design philosophies; do you cut on the push, or on the pull? I won't get into the background which led to the adaptation of push or pull in re culture, but it does matter if you normally work standing or sitting; muscle groups are involved.

Push saws, predominantly used in European-derived societies, cut as you push them away from you. This requires that they be fairly rigid, that they not flex very much, and generally this is done by using thicker metal, although if the saw is cutting a thin enough object a stiffener along the back can do the job; those with such a stiffener are generally referred to as backsaws.

Pull saws, brought to Western awareness via Japan, cut on the pull. As you pull them toward yourself this creates tension on the blade, allowing it to be thinner than a push saw. If there is danger of the blade binding, a technical term for getting caught by the material being sawn, a thicker blade is needful so it doesn't bend all over instead of pushing back out of the cut.

Pull saws can, if used properly, allow for much finer control of the cut.

A third type of saw is used when lumbering, as in going out and cutting down trees, not wandering around like a drunken bear. You may have seen old photographs of trees being cut down with two-handled saws, one person at each end of the blade. The teeth on these saws are actually designed so that half cut on the pull, half on the push, alternating as they go down the blade, so every motion results in a cut, with the sawyers controlling the cut when they pull, and providing more motive power on their push. Smaller, one-person versions of these are used for pruning limbs off trees, there are a couple of different designs which I'm not going to try to describe without visual aids.

I personally prefer using a pull-saw over a push-saw, my manual dexterity isn't the greatest so anything which enables me to do more delicate work is to my benefit. I have found, while pruning trees, that I need to get some thicker bladed pull saws, as binding is a problem when pruning. Then again, that's because the pull-saws I'm using are designed for finishing work, not for lumbering, so no wonder they aren't the best for the job, they aren't designed for this job.

Just need to decide if I'd use the proper tools enough to justify purchasing them.

I'll probably add photos to this down the line, so things make more sense.

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2008-09-04

Pain: The Aftermath of over-exertion

Ow. As in, my hands, legs, and arms, and to a certain extent my back and shoulders, hurt. Earlier today muscles cramped up on both legs at the same time. My hands keep twitching, which plays hob with letting them rest on the trackball, 'cause I keep getting mouse clicks I didn't need.

Spent three hours yesterday in The Yard. Some of it on Apple Pruning; if it is of a height and mobility to attack me, it gets pruned; Mom, being some shorter than I, thinks this is fine, as it makes it that much safer for her. Some of it on hands and knees, pulling up Blackberries, Clematis, Ivy, and this invasive grass which makes a veritable inches thick mat of roots which practically rolls back on its own with our soil and some rain, and tends to bring the Clematis and Ivy with it. Was actually enjoying that, makes it so much easier, just roll up, lift, and toss aside; 'course, I'll now need to clean up the pile formed by tossing, but did a nice job clearing along the fence. Another like session and I'll have the first sweep done for the whole yard.

Some boards are down from the fence near the rear, need to measure so I'll get the right size for replacing them. Up front, near the double-wide gate, a section of fence is sadly listing and needs to be replaced; part of the reason its leaning so much is that we haven't done the job we should have cleaning up after some of our projects, and left stuff, heavy stuff, leaning against it for, oh, say five-six years and that hasn't been good for it.

Pulling up the grass, along with the Clematis/Ivy/Blackberries, informs me that I do need to think on what we want to plant for ground cover that'll be nice without turning out to be the next problem plant in a couple of years, something able to hold its own without taking over, like there's anything like that running around!

Want a shelter, something pleasant to hang out in, provide shade and cover, integrated into its surroundings. Maybe with controllable [Ha!] creeping plants on it, the grape arbor type; need to find out about native plants for this purpose, not Clematis even thought the twisted vine is native. I'm into the idea of semi-woodland, prairie's edge type of thing, that's the feel I'm after. And how to integrate Mom's desire for truck garden into this, and the real need for paved paths to demarcate varied-purpose areas from each other while providing good footing for Mom. And toying with the shelter being such that with an extension cord I could drag a sewing machine out and sew, or put together a cobbler's horse and working on boots and such.

I want a place I'll enjoy using, all these years being lectured about 'being part of the family', 'family responsibilities', when I wasn't part of the decision-making process and didn't feel like 'the family' gave a rip about how I might like to utilize the space. Parents, in my mind, would be better to use 'Because I told you to' instead of cloaking their desires as some amorphous family thing, because the way mine did it sure didn't leave me wanting to be part of the family, all it did was take and never ask if I might have some insights to throw into the ring, you know, be part of the family, help plan, and actually have the sense that what I thought mattered to 'the family'. Like, 'the family' was another cloak for 'having their way', like saying 'we'll work on this now' when what they really meant was 'you and your sister will do this for us now, we've other things to do', Sis and I called it 'The Mommy "We"' as Mom somehow never was included in 'we' even though she was the one who said it. Royal We, but different; Royal We pulls everything toward one person, Mommy We excludes that one person. Don't jerk your kids around. Don't act like they're involved in decision making when you aren't going to consider anything they say that isn't what you already wanted to do. The upside is, when you do want their input, you'll get it. Just make sure that there are times you will accept their input, make them happen, allow your kids to feel like they really do count for something other than semi-free labor, bring them into the family, someday you'll be old and heaven help you if they want nothing to do with you know that they have options; my parents were lucky, we had enough in common all those years that I was willing to move back from Chicago after he had two strokes so that they had someone who could help them out, even if it did feel too much like not much had changed from when I was a kid. Despite their worst efforts, I do have a strong sense of family. Which makes it a real bummer that it sure looks like my sister and I are the end of this branch of the family. Sure, I'm only 47, going on 48 prior to year's end, grandma lived to 102, but I don't see myself getting married and having kids, not with how my disabilities tie in with ability to shift focus, to maintain closeness, I just don't see it happening.

And there are times I hope no one is reading this blog, don't ever want to feel like a drag on anyone, like I'm pulling them down.

But the stream of consciousness helps me work things out, and doing it in this manner makes it easier to maintain a copy where it may help me, and so I do.

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2008-09-03

Someone's tried to hack my system

I think I just realized what's been causing weird bleep with my system recently. Somehow, something has successfully bypassed my security software, fooled my various security scans, and been foiled merely because I haven't implemented the electronic interface features of Quicken in re online banking.

Someone with an account at Conduit.com, to be far too vaguely precise for my comfort.

When I do a save with Quicken, suddenly it has started saying the feature I'm trying to run isn't installed and to install it. I fell for that, I'd done some weird things myself recently and thought it needed to have registry entries corrected or some such. Only saved because, given the mess my home is, surprise! I could not find the disk to install the component needed. Which wasn't needed, after telling it no three times it would back up the data just fine. That, combined with suddenly, when I open Windows Explorer I was getting messages from ZoneAlarm Security Suite about blocking cookies; Windows Explorer only looks at stuff inside my computer, what's with cookies? Check, and its trying to contact Conduit.com... and finding myself at Conduit.com after failed URL searches started a bit ago after an auto-install of updating software from Comcast, prior to my munging up the .EXE file associations; since cleaning up that debacle hadn't found myself at conduit.com after failed URL searches... or did that change when I uninstalled the Comcast Toolbar as being non-compatible with FireFox 3? Can't install the Comcast toolbar any longer, something stops it from happening...

OK.

1) Someone Trojans me via an apparent Comcast auto-update, which protects itself from being over-written by rejecting any code which would affect that area of storage. Odds on its hiding somewhere in the code regarding Comcast. Oh, and its using javascript, looks like.

2) Its a smart little bugger, has been blocking WinXP from successfully installing security updates, I thought it was due to my messing things up earlier, I was wrong, its part of this attack. Funny thing, they deal with javascript vulnerabilities?

3) Its tried to send my eBay account info out, my security software has been preventing that, only now tied that into this.

4) I did have some bogus charges show up on one credit card account, thankfully the issuing bank, Bank of America, noticed something funny and contacted me, we closed that card down and hasn't been repeated with other accounts; that account, while not a debit card, was tied to my personal checking account...

5) Trying to get me to install additional functionality with Quicken; it wants me to let it talk to my bank, as me, now doesn't it? Sneaky little bastard!

Conclusion: It sure looks like its time for a new hard drive and a clean install, then put this hard drive on a non-networked machine and go over it with a fine tooth comb while seeing about salvaging data without transferring the Trojan horse. As a data drive, purging all the OS files is an option, actually, purging any executable file becomes an option.

6) Continue documenting what seems to be going on, and when enough data is pulled together to have a chance of figuring out when/where/how, passing the word on to the relevant folks, such as Comcast, as someone spoofed them well enough to get past me, ZoneAlarm, etc., to see how to stop it from getting other folks.

7) Lock down anything I can in re my system communicating with Conduit.com; sure, there may be legit stuff going on there, but nothing I've gone looking for, and that's where my sytem wants to spill its guts. If I've interpreted all of this correctly.

8) Continue my practise of not tying more things together online than I have to, that's all that stopped this one from getting me.

Glad I'm having all my password info stored on a USB key, under its own passwords, etc., that's probably all that has stopped some other things from happening.

Festive, that's all I've got to say, festive.

Time to go shopping, I guess.

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2008-09-02

Protection from Branch wielding Apple Trees...

Wielding branches, valiantly the Apple Trees fought, the pruner to dismay.

And dismay they did, on Saturday, when they did a good job of poking my right eye, as mentioned previously. What hasn't been mentioned are the steps taken to prevent this vile situation from recurring.

No, I didn't chop down the Apple Trees, must have me confused with that Washington Boy, George, think he needed the hard wood for some new dentures...

No, I drug out some shop safety equipment, gotten when I got tired of full face shields fogging up on me.
Funky Looking, eh? Purchased lo these many years agone, for the Princely Sum of $32.45, or at least that's their current price, I don't have the problem of my face protection fogging up on me, which is nice. Nice semi-rigid wire mesh, with a clear plastic insert for better vision, although they don't state what type of plastic. The plastic bends, so far it's sprung back. And it covers the endangered area better than safety glasses, which generally don't actually provide much in the way of side-entry protection, and sneaking a side shot in is how they tried to get me. Hurt pretty good, too, still have some irritation 3 days later, nothing like at first, let me assure you of that!

I just have the problem of thinking I look like an Idiot, which when I think about it, is better than loosing an eye... by being an idiot!

Like I said, didn't raze them to the ground in retaliation, although they have very few low branches now, and those aren't branches, they're Main Structural Supports, won't take out your eye, but do not raise your head rapidly from under them, did that the first day I started clearing stuff out. Which is why I now have a long, thin, scar in the top of my head. Anyone ever mention that I'm an accident looking for a place to happen? Come to think of it, my father mentioned that on occasion.

Anyway, that's three Apple Trees, planted around 30 years ago, sometime in the first few years after we moved here from Salem, back in '76, 1976, that is!

I did take some reparations. Observe the denuded branches, stripped of their leaves and limbs, lying stark and forlorn atop the ravaged twigs and leaves, mute testimony to the vengeance of 'Clear-Cut' Mead!

No tree dare stand afore me! No Vine, nor plant, dare rouse mine ire ere they feel my fel wrath, most strong in this mine own desmagnes, nay, no etranger am I, claimant am I, co-heir with my sister of this, our ancestral steading.

Um, erm, mayhap I've been reading too much High Fantasy these days, place we purchased when I was fifteen is hardly ancestral! But you get the idea, no mere plant is getting the better of me.

Looking at these photos, you'd never think I lived a mere 15-20 minutes from city center by bus. But I do, on a good day. On a bad day, I've walked from downtown, a 45-50 minute walk at a 4 mile/hour pace, and beaten the bus home! Truth, I have. And this, a city with seven+ bridges crossing the river in the downtown area alone! 'course, hasn't been a new bridge in 30+ years, and as I recollect it the adjacent bridge was undergoing repairs, it was a Friday afternoon rush hour thing, plus an accident closing several lanes of traffic on the bridge, but that wasn't the case the other couple of times. At least this bridge doesn't open up for ships to go through, like most of the rest of them do, so foot traffic got through OK.

Anyway, I'm going long, time to

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The Remnant: An Eulogy for Clematis

Yea verily, and it came to pass that the Formerly Dread Clematii were smote full hard by their Nemesis, the Dread 'Clear-Cut' Mead, and they did flee unto former fastnesses, cowering in the shadows, in hopes of evading his e'er vigilant gaze.

Little did they know that, while a short respite they might acheive, their sure and utter doom was even then approaching...

Trowels, an item not previously discussed. Observe the four trowels laid out upon the compost bin lid; there is one thing they all have in common. They are bent where the handle meets the blade.

These are the Remnant of all the Trowels my parents bought over the years, and full many times their number have failed completely, blades snapped free of handles, fallen in the wayside and of no use to man nor garden, a wasted proof of Foolish Economy. For while each cost but little, but little was how long they did last, and the o'er all expense far exceeds that which I now make to obtain their replacement, their True Master, the Dread Hori Hori Knife, ordered yester'eve from the Purveyor of Magnificent Tools themselves. Yea, although I walk through the very Garden of Clematis, I shall fear no Evil, for the Hori Hori Knife shall be with me, and with its 12" stainless steel blade, serrated on one edge and razor sharp on the other, I shall seek out their root mass and unearth them, severing those so far beneath the earth that should they e'er reach daylight they should be but small and paltry compared to their Former Dreadness, and should soon fall, exhausted, into that Final Slumber as e'er and again they be Severed from their Presumed Jointures of Sun and Earth and Water, ne'er to Torment man again.

$28.50 plus Shipping $ Handling, A Princely Sum but far less than that paid by Mine Parents these many years past for Trowels which Trowel not.

And that'll do for now.

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2008-09-01

A Modest Proposal concerning Integrated Computer Graphics

Integrated Computer Graphics [ICG], for the non-tech savvy, is when the Graphics Chip is built into the Computer MotherBoard [MoBo] instead of being on a separate add-on Graphics Card.

Traditionally, ICGs are inferior to Graphics Cards. Many arguments could be given, but they boil down to 1) Non-upgradeable 2) Shared, instead of distinct, Video Memory. Also, ICGs tend to be on MoBos that are sub-par in other ways as well, such as very small form factor, limiting the potential of the MoBo for anything other than ho-hum use, not the makings of a Graphics Workhorse.

Around now you should be thinking to yourself, "I hear a 'but' coming."

However, [close enough], this doesn't have to be the case.

I propose using the fullest, largest, push-the-form-factor-envelope-humongous ATX MoBo possible, and having an ICG which echoes the design of CPUs, to wit: 1) ZIF Socket, for upgradeability, 2) Flash ROM BIOS, 3) DIMM sockets for Graphics use distinct from System DIMMs.

In other words, treat the ICGs GPU [Graphics Processing Unit] as the crucial entity which it is, while allowing it, and its memory, to be customizable at the end-user level based upon their budget and desires.

For this to work several things would have to occur. 1) All the GPUs in a given series would have to use the same pin-out and be identifiable as to capabilities in like manner as today's CPUs. 2) Memory sockets utilizing industry standard memory modules be added, additional and distinct from CPU-accessible RAM, be designed onto the MoBo; you want 2 Gb of RAM, you can have it. 3) Brackets with user-configurable Graphics connectors that cable back to the ICG, allowing the user to configure the outputs to match the display-types available at a given installation. 4) either Multi-Core GPUs, or PCIe slots tied to the Graphics bus for additional GPUs, the idea being to provide a distinct GPU Core for each CPU core, making it possible for each CPU to have its own dedicated Graphics Processor and Display Unit.

Graphics have been treated as secondary for too long; that went out with the introduction of GUIs 20 years ago, at this time every application is more GPU/Memory intensive than the slickest gaming apps from ten years ago, with many of them exceeding those of five years ago.

In recent years various of the major GPU manufacturers have been purchased by CPU manufacturers, resulting in CPU/GPU configurations much more tightly integrated than before. To an extent this is good, but for competitive pricing to remain, and to prevent OS' abandonment of one CPU/GPU architecture in favor of another for easier programing, standards for CPU/GPU integration need to be established which will allow OS-generic graphic drivers basic operability without saddling the OS' with designing complex drivers for each GPU family.

Fascinating as this all is, it doesn't seem to be grabbing my attention; narcoleptic symptoms detected in blogger, must post and rest ere my eyes close and my head plop forward.

so.

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