The temperatures here have been over 100F/37.78C every day this week but yesterday and today.  Wednesday’s high was 107F/41.67C.  Thankfully, I didn’t have to go out in it.  I did have to go out Thursday, though, and it was still 100F/37.78C while I was out in it going to the bank, the post office, and shopping groceries.  By the time I got home, I was hot, wringing wet, and my get-up-and-go was completely melted.  As soon as I’d put the groceries away, I popped into a tepid shower and cooled off.  I had to hang my clothes up in a doorway to let them dry out before I could put them in the hamper.  Friday, a front started on it’s way through, temperatures have dropped back down into the 80’sF/26+C and it rained a little bit Saturday morning.  It’s raining now, as a matter of fact.  A nice slow rain.  Don’t think we got much, but we’ll take whatever we can get.  The high temperatures are predicted to stay in the 80sF/26+C through Thursday (which is as far as my weather widget shows), with rainy weather predicted.  I hope we get a couple of real gully-washers out of the deal.


Saw this on Tumblr and loved it:

© Adams Brenoch
© “Robo Gard” by Brenoch Adams

The expression on the little girl’s face is priceless.   Also ran across this delightfully whimsical lamp.

© Scott Musgrove

The other day, mom saw a fox in her yard (we’re in the Texas Panhandle). There’s a big black cat that stakes out her birdbath (he hides in the shrubs just behind it) and mom has found evidence that he has caught more than one unwary bird bather, but this visitor was obviously canine.  Wouldn’t you know, before she could get her camera, it had disappeared. It is apparently agile enough to climb their 6-foot fence.  Early Sunday morning, she saw one again and was quicker on the draw this time.


It’s markings are not all that pronounced, but it does have a redish tint.  It’s a grey foxUrocyon cinereoargenteus scottii. Since this whole region of the country has been under drought conditions for a couple of years now, I suspect lack of wild prey has driven it into populated areas where it can feed on urban mice, rats, possums (Didelphis virginiana) and dumpsters.

I’ve been doing some stealth laundry tonight.  Hung the first load out at midnight.  (It was 83F/28C outside with 34% humidity and a light gusty breeze.) After I post this, I’m going to put a load of sheets and towels in the washer, and bring in what I’ve got on the line.  I pretty much had to wash.  I was almost out of unmentionables.  They took up nearly one whole line just by themselves, and it took every clothespin I had, plus five of the neighbor lady’s — she leaves her clothespin bag hanging out on the line all the time — to hang out this load. I bet I’ll be folding unmentionables for half an hour.

We haven’t even gotten done with June yet and it’s supposed to be over 100F/37.8C every day this week.  Monday it was 101F/38C, supposed to be 100F/37.8C today.   Here’s the forecast for the rest of the week:


Now you know why I’m hanging clothes up at night — It’s too dang hot to do it during the day!  My electricity bill is going to be higher than giraffe’s ears as it is, and it’s stupid to pay money to cool the house, pay more money to heat it back up with the clothes dryer, then pay even more money to cool it back down again.  I have a sinking feeling that it’s going to be another long hot summer.

An Aha! Moment

p01bjbvsEvery photograph I’ve ever seen of Neil Gaiman, he’s wearing black* — black shirt, black coat/jacket, black shoes.  One might wonder if it’s an affectation, a personal statement, the only color he thinks he looks good in, he feels it makes him more recognizable in a crowd, or just what the deal is.  I was reading his public appearance schedule just now and it occurred to me:  I think he does it because it saves time and hassle. When you travel as much as this man does, if all your clothes are black, it takes no time to pack.  No outfit planning, no mixing and matching.  You just pack the right number of everything, and off you go.  It makes life on the road so much easier when whatever you reach into your luggage and come up with is going to match everything else that is in your luggage. It’s also practical.  Black does not show stains so much as other colors do, and accidents will happen.  Of course, it helps if you look good in black, which he does.

*Except those where he’s in a tux.

Undiscovered Countries

tumblr_moaei3GsiZ1qzozjoo1_500_zpsedaab1b5Last week, Amanda F. Palmer, AKA Mrs. Neil Gaiman, wrote a song which has, as far as I know, been performed only twice, and has not as yet been recorded.  She mentioned that one of the lines in the chorus is, “I am bigger on the inside” and remarks on it’s allusion to the TARDIS of Dr. Who fame.  At the song’s second outing in Milwaukee, “a boy asked me to write the chorus lyrics on his chest. the next day, he sent me this picture. he’d had them tattooed.”

The thing that broke my heart about reading her post is that “I am bigger on the inside” is true of everybody, but that so few people actually “get” that about themselves. How sad it is to think how many people live their whole lives with no idea that they contain so much undiscovered country.

Welcome to Our Weather

These stills and video were taken near Booker, Texas, on June 3 by Mike Olbinski of the formation of a super cell, a type of “rotating thunderstorm” noted for the presence of a mesocyclone: a deep, persistently rotating updraft that has a characteristic rotation.  These are the big bad suckers that spawn tornadoes, although luckily this one didn’t.

Photo © 2013 Mike Olbinski
Photo © 3 June 2013 Mike Olbinski
Photo © 3 June 2013 Mike Olbinski
Photo © 3 June 2013 Mike Olbinski

Booker, Texas, is in the Panhandle, right on the border with the Oklahoma “skillet handle” about 260 miles (419 km) due north of us (about a 4-hour drive). The pictures were taken right at sunset so the land is in deep shadow and, yes, the land is actually that flat — for 360 degrees, as far as you can see.

You can read more about these images here.  Olbinski makes the comment that the rainfall (the light brown area at the right, under the cloud) was actually being sucked back up into that “persistently rotating updraft” which is the hallmark of this type of thunderstorm.

Below is the video. It’s amazing footage, but the one thing you don’t get from it is a sense of scale.  You’re out in the middle of bald prairie with this hulking great monster overhead, you can’t run, and there is literally no place to hide.

The area where I live in Texas is on the southwest end of what they call “Tornado alley.”  This map shows the frequency of F3, F4, and F5 tornadoes per 3700 square miles (an area of land slightly larger than the island of Cyprus).  Although the part of Texas where I live (the rectangular bit at the top), averages 6-15 tornadoes per 3700 square miles, I’ve lived here a long time, and I’ve only been in one tornado — although that’s one too many, if you ask me.

© 2011 South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology/Foto Ochsenreiter

I also note that they’ve reconstructed a new face for Ötzi, the iceman, which is considered a much more accurate reconstruction of this man who, when he died at approximately 46 years of age, was considered an old man 5300 years ago.  He was only 5 feet 3 inches (1.6 meters) tall and weighed around 110 pounds (50 kilograms).  I’m an inch taller than he was, and considerably more well nourished (!).

© 2011 South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology/Foto Ochsenreiter

I’m absolutely fascinated by this kind of thing.  Now that he has been given a face, he’s no longer a grotesque mummified corpse.   We can relate to him as another human being.  Who was he? (He must have been somebody important to have such a valuable “high-status” object as a copper-headed ax.)  Why was he killed?  (The motive wasn’t robbery, apparently, because they didn’t take the ax.)  Judging from the site of the murder, high up on a lonely alpine peak, someone wanted him “disappeared ” without a trace, consigned to oblivion.  How ironic that he is now anything but. The thing I wonder most is, did somebody miss him? Did he have friends, loved ones, children? Did they wonder what happened to him?

In other news, Monday, I started hearing the intermittent chirping noise that means the battery need to be changed in the smoke detector.  The trick was to figure out which one.   I have three:  One on the door of the kitchen that leads to the back door, one in my office above the door, and one in the hallway above my bedroom door.  I had to trace the chirping one down by ear to finally determine it was the one in my office that needed the new battery.

I thought today, I’d leave you laughing.

Some people might consider it cruel to do this to a cat, but this cat apparently only finds it annoying.  What would have been cruel is if they’d popped the balloon.

Wednesday Night’s Storm Did Very Little Damage

. . . at my house.  Mom said she had broken sycamore branches all over the back yard and that this one big branch on their old redbud tree was broken off.  And, of course, leaves and twigs were plastered everywhere.  The couple that live across the street from her are always doing things to help my mom out — putting boxes in the attic for her, hanging Christmas lights, moving furniture, etc.  The people that deliver the newspapers just toss them into the yard as they drive down the street, and every morning, when the lady goes out to get their paper, she goes over and picks mom’s newspaper up out of the yard and puts it on the front porch for her.    They came over Thursday and he brought his chain saw. They cleared away the branches in the yard so she could get to the back and side gates and he cut them up and made neat piles.  The big redbud branch fell partly on the fence when it broke and knocked one of the pickets loose.

The fence came with the house, which was built in 1961, and really needs to be replaced, but mom has been resisting it for a couple of years now.   We get these “squall lines” of thunderstorms out here  which produce strong wind gusts and microbursts that blow fences down, tip sheds over, chew up the trees, pull porch and patio roofs off, that kind of stuff.  I hope she springs for one of those fences that has concrete foundations and fence posts made of metal pipe.  They pour a concrete footing all along the fence line and set the fence posts into it.  Then they bolt wooden 2 x 4 cross pieces to the fence poles with carriage bolts, and screw the wooden pickets to the cross pieces.  If those kind of fences blow down, your house has probably blown down too.

I edited a bunch of clips of my “damage” together so I could play around with this AVS Video editor program.  A couple of years ago, I got in on a deal that if you bought one AVS program at around $50, you could download as many as you want of their other programs for free.  I use their photo editor, too, sometimes, and I have their image converter and document converter.  Anyway, I’ve been putting together a video for some friends, with pictures of their cats and videos clips of their new kittens.  The AVS video editor is pretty intuitive to operate and gives you the capability of doing voice over narration (if you have a mike), and lets you add a sound track.  You can edit video clips, but you can also edit the soundtrack as well, and it has various types of lettering for titles and captions, as well as special effects, and different types of transitions.  It also lets you load photos and make a slide show of them.   It’s a pretty basic, bare bones program.  If it was a car, it would be one of those old stick shift, VW beetles. No frills, no power, but it gets you where you want to go.

Here’s the video I put together:

You can see that my yard is full of those $%$#@&*(^! “tree of heaven” seedlings from the next door neighbor’s tree.  While I was making videos, I made this one:

Ordinarily, I would have no interest at all in having a YouTube account, but the only way I can get my videos into my blog is to upload them to YouTube and then ‘Add media by URL’ to get them into WordPress.

I made a loaf of white bread in the bread machine tonight. I could smell it rising and baking clear back into the office.  Man, if you’re going to stink up a house, that’s the way to do it.

Myth Busted!

Whoever that yahoo was at Best Buy who told me that wireless mice wouldn’t work with a KVM switch was full of prunes. The one I ordered arrived and I hooked the little rascal up with the wireless thingie plugged into the KVM switch and it works just fine.  This bodes well for a wireless keyboard whenever the present one gives up the ghost.

My plea to the weather gods apparently did not fall on deaf ears.  About 9:30 p.m. yesterday evening, this came barreling down on us:


We got quite a thunderboomer out of it, in addition to some gusty wind and lashings of rain. For a while it sounded like somebody was squirting the windows with a hose(pipe).  The lights flickered periodically all evening.  I have both ‘puters hooked into surge-protector/battery backup units, so if the power does go off, I can shut the ‘puter down safely on battery power.  About midnight last night, we looked like this, with thunder rumbling in the background:



This was our first good rain in months.  Hope we get some more, please!

In other news, the Kitties’ poop box cratered yesterday, 15 days from being out of warranty, which means I’ve had it less than a year.  I mean to call later this morning and raise Cain about it with the Litter Maid people.   The rake bar hangs up and just sits there racing the motor and ratcheting.

When I opened the new box of cat litter yesterday, there was a cat toy in it.  Brand new.  Still clipped to the card.  No indication on the box that there was supposed to be a free cat toy inside.   Well received by the resident kitties, however, and adjudged suitable for cat hockey. The brand of kitty litter we favor comes in a lightweight brand now — same amount of litter as a 40 lb box, but it weighs just 28 lbs.  I may need to start using that.   Somebody makes a big clump(s) that is too heavy for the rake to shift.  It tries five times to shift it, then stops for a couple of hours, then tries five more times, and stops for a couple of hours, etc., until I hear it and get up and fix it. This is probably causing the motor to wear out much quicker.   It will be interesting to see if it has the same problem with the lightweight litter.

I’m listening to Radio Ultimae internet radio station (out of Lyons, France) at the moment.  A while ago, I heard some music I liked by a dude (Darrell Burgan) who records under the name of  “Palencar.”  I was delighted to find out that most of his recordings are available for free download under Creative Commons.  A bunch of them, as well as other music in a similar vein can be downloaded here and here.  I note with interest that he created the StillStream internet radio stationl, which is one of my favorites (except when they have a program with a live DJ.).  Earth Mantra and Darkwinter have other artists besides Palencar.

I’m in the process of downloading everything Earth Mantra has on their website.  Then, I’ll download the whole Darkwinter catalog, then I’ll go through it all and delete what I don’t care for and make playlists directly on WMP or Winamp and download them to my Sanza Fuze+.

Buying the Sanza Fuze+ was money well spent.  That little MP3 player has been a real workhorse.  It has the capacity to take a chip that gives it additional memory.  I bought a032GB chip at the time I bought the 8 GB Fuze+, which gives me about 39 GB of usable memory — which is a lot of music. The Fuze+ doesn’t get along as well with Rhapsody as I wish it did, but I suspect that may be Rhapsody’s fault.  However, Rhapsody reads the player and the chip as two separate storage areas, so if you had more than one chip, you could load each one with the music you want.  The Fuze+ is supposed to be compatible with Windows Media Player and Winamp, both of which I have, but in order to use Rhapsody music on either of those platforms, I have to download it to my computer first, and I have to log in to Rhapsody and connect the Fuze+ to it at least once a month to update the track licenses of any music I’ve downloaded to computer and Fuze+.

Theres just a cloud icon on the weather widget for today, with a predicted high of only 75F/24C.  But tomorrow and Saturday have thunderstorm icons.  Hopefully, we’ll get some more rain out of this week.  Please!


When You Hot, You Hot

When you not, you not, to coin a phrase.  Yesterday, we were hot.  Our high was 105F/40.6C here in the flatlands of the Texas Panhandle.  I slept late and spent the day inside in the coolth with every ceiling fan in the house on, and my electric meter whirling like a dervish as the AC (set on 80F/26.7C) struggled to cope.  We’re broiling, and large swaths of Oklahoma are getting sucked up and blown all over the place.  

electric-meter-slow-down-cut-electricity-bill-energy-crisis-solution-save-solar-power-kwhFor those of you who are not familiar with the kind of electric meter that sits on the back wall of my house and costs me big bucks, this is one.  That little bar looking thing under “Kilowatthours” is a disk.  As power is consumed, that disk turns around.  Each complete turn is one kilowatthour.  My AC runs on electricity, and it’s a hungry little sucker.  So when I say my electric meter is whirling like a dervish, that’s what I mean.  That little wheel is $pinning round and round. . . .  I feel constrained to point out that my town is roughly at the same latitude as Casablanca, Morocco, so hot weather is no surprise here, but this is pretty dang hot for this area at this time of year.   I truly hope it’s a fluke.  It usually doesn’t get hot-hot until late July/August.  But this is hotter than usual for us, and especially, ye gods! hot for so early in the summer . . .   However, there are thunderboomer icons on my weather widget for Today through Saturday, and please let us get some rain out of it, please . . . please!  Today’s high is “only” going to be 97F/36C, but Thursday’s high is predicted to be 77F/25C!  Evidently a front is coming through.  Right now, at 2 AM our time, it’s 79F/26C.

I was told that a wireless mouse and a wireless keyboard will not work with my KVM switch.  Apparently, this is not true.  Apparently, if you plug in the little wireless send/receive gizmo into the appropriate USB port on the KVM switch instead of a USB port on the computer, it works just fine.  I’ve ordered a little wireless mouse to see if this is the case.  Should arrive tomorrow.  If so, that’ll be one less peripheral “war” snaking about on the top of my desk.   At some point I might get a wireless keyboard as well.  The keyboard I have now also comes in a wireless model  . . .

Monday evening, I went shopping at a grocery store that has an in-store cafeteria.  They have the best brisket.  I got some.  As I was making a brisket sandwich later that evening, I thought the kitties might enjoy a few very small pieces of trimmed fat and that it would be all right to give them some.  They did enjoy it, especially the white one.  For about 2 hours.  Then he promptly refunded it and everything else in his stomach on the living room carpet, — but not without making the most heart rending noise first.  Cross between a meow, a baby’s cry, and a soft howl.  Made me feel awful.  Evidently it was too rich for him.  Or something.   Poor little man.  I, on the other hand, have snarfed brisket sandwiches for three days now.

My yard is a disaster. I’ve got knee high to thigh high Tree of Heaven [sic] (Ailanthus altissima) seedlings all over my back yard, a couple of waist high ones and several that are feet taller than I am, all scions of the next-door neighbor’s tree. (Did I mention I hate that tree?) A. altissima is an invasive species imported from China (like the Mongol hordes) that grows at an alarming rate,  makes its own herbicide to kill off its competition, and the sap STINKS to high heaven.  If you can manage to pull the seedlings up, you have to get every bit of the root or the durn things will regrow, even from just a piece of root.  Same for cutting them down.  It’s the plant equivalent of the Lernaean Hydra.  As much as I hate the thought of herbicide, research indicates that if you cut the stem and immediately apply Brush-B-Gon, that does the trick.

On a lighter note, found this:

I love the music at the front.  And on the subject of authors reading their own works, there’s these:

If you have small ones in your world, I cannot recommend Jackie Morris’s books too highly.  They are beautifully written and delightfully illustrated.  For sheer whimsy, Tell Me A Dragon is tops.

© 2010 Jackie Morris
Image © 2010 Jackie Morris
©2010 Jackie Morris
Image ©2010 Jackie Morris