mellowtigger: joystick (gaming)
2017-09-29 04:32 pm
Entry tags:

Goodbye, GOG

So long, Good Old Games, I knew ye well.

You've promised for years to produce a Linux version of your Galaxy client, but you have failed to deliver (year after year after year).  You failed to offer a timeline, failed to offer an explanation, and failed to respond to the 11,643 requests for the client by your paying customers.

Clearly, you don't want my money.  My exit should matter to you, though.  I've bought 300+ games in nearly a decade together with you.  I see in my account history that my first purchase was in 2009.  Many of those titles were for old games that I grew up playing in the decades prior on Windows systems.  Now, though, my interest is in new releases and current titles.

It's me.  I've moved on.  I use Linux exclusively now instead of Windows.  I've done so for years.  I expect many more gamers to do the same, since every year Linux posts an ever-increasing market share.  It increases at a barely noticeable but persistent trend.  I expect this change to continue, not decrease.  Linux is where I'm at now, and I'm there to stay.

It's you.  You show lackluster interest in Linux.  I do appreciate the games you've offered directly for Linux players.  I've bought them, played them, and enjoyed them.  If you can't keep up with your management client, though, then I'm moving on to a vendor with a deep commitment to the platform.

I'm moving to Steam.  I might even make my next gaming computer a Steam Machine instead (or at least pick up a Steam Link for my current computer).  Their Linux game management client actually works, too.
mellowtigger: (flameproof)
2017-09-22 04:00 pm
Entry tags:

ouch, it's hot out there

Okay, here's one of those "update" messages that I wanted to avoid. But...

it's hot out there.

Summer isn't letting go just yet. Minneapolis is currently under a heat advisory:
...HEAT ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 7 PM CDT THIS EVENING...
* TEMPERATURE...highs in the lower 90s.
* HEAT INDICES...upper 90s to around 100.

And there's basically no wind.  I look at the trees, and I see only an occasional small branch rustle.  Hot, humid, stultifying.
mellowtigger: (tech support)
2017-08-25 03:08 pm
Entry tags:

a NAS question

What do you know about Network Attached Storage (NAS)? I have a specific set of features that I want, and I'm wondering how best (and frugally) to achieve it.  It seemed too complex a technical question to type in a tweet or other social media, so I'm writing it up here.

The end-purpose of this storage device will be simply to save many files that are quite large but seldom accessed: games, movies, and eventually security cam archives.  Speaking of games, I expect Star Citizen to need 150GB when it finally releases, but that's another post.

The features that I want are these:
  1. Varieties of hard drive capacities, because I want to reuse the old hard drives I already have laying around without having to buy a fleet ($$$) of the same drive models whenever I want more capacity.
  2. SATA 3.5" hard drives, because the old drives I have are that physical size and interface.
  3. Redundancy, so any one hard drive can fail without losing data.
  4. Low power usage, so I can keep it online fulltime without expecting to see my electric bill spike upwards ($$$).
  5. Ethernet accessible, so any number of devices in the house could use it simultaneously.
I don't care if it requires technical tinkering to get it to work.  I don't care (for now) if it offers a powershell interface.  I don't care (for now) if it offers HDMI 4K output for streaming movies to television.  I don't need cloud backup or redundant power supply.  So that brings me to the main question:

What do I select for hardware and software?

Software: I never remember RAID levels without looking them up every time I discuss them, but I'm wondering if Feature #1 above means that I should actually be looking at unRAID as my software choice.  It also serves Feature #4 well.  And it's cheap, since it's also free ($$$) for only 3 drives total (1 stripe + 2 data).  So, I've already halfway convinced myself to give it a try, unless someone points me to a more common alternative that works well.

Hardware: Which leaves the hardware choice entirely up to me.  Buy some traditional NAS then just overwrite its operating system?  Buy a regular desktop computer system, but overwrite it then fill it with as many hard drives as it can handle?  Is there a cheap rack solution that might even allow hot-pluggable SATA drives?  Too many options, so I don't even know where to start.

I'm open to brainstormed ideas and real-world anecdotes.
mellowtigger: (we can do it)
2017-06-13 11:04 pm

I was on the news

Over the decades, I've appeared on local news a few times.  It happened again today.

KSTP did a piece for their 10pm news today about the citizen patrols within the Jordan community.  We are occasionally the worst violent crime neighborhood in all of Minneapolis.  We've had recent homicides, and last week we held a community meeting outdoors near the site of one of those homicides.  Some of that footage made the news tonight.

Also, they called me a few minutes before the end of my workday today, and they asked me to come to the community office (rented in a local church) to do an additional interview with KSTP reporter Todd Wilson.  They included some footage from that piece too.



I still intend to write longer articles about the dark side of Jordan.  I'm woken too many nights by gunshots, and we have too many memorials attached to trees on our sidewalks. 

I still intend to write longer articles about the potential to be found here too.  There are many people who want peace, many people who want to build a future rather than wreck one.  There are beautiful old homes, and wonderfully personalized front yards.  I hope that my front yard remains one such eccentricity in Jordan.

For tonight, though, on this too-humid and too-hot night (without air conditioning, whew!), the video segment (local archive) will have to suffice.
mellowtigger: (Default)
2017-05-08 11:36 am
Entry tags:

last of the updates

I realize that my posts have been mostly of the "inconsequential" variety during the last 2 years or so. I've been preoccupied by the new house, of course. I intend to change my practice soon. I have important posts in mind (with photo documentation) that I've put off for a very long time. For now, though... one last update.

homesteading: I drove to downtown Minneapolis this morning to turn in the affidavit for my homesteading. It will make a big difference in my taxes. They didn't receive my full documentation last year when I dropped it off at the Hennepin County office. That was the address on the documentation, but apparently they didn't pass it along to the City as they said they would. I lost homesteading status for 2017. With this affidavit, however, the City gave me back a letter from the Assessor's Office that they "will notify Hennepin County Taxpayers Services to send the correct property tax statement. They will recalculate the 2017 property tax due." Good news. Strangely, they didn't ask for all the supporting documentation again, so... did they locate my lost files in a bin somewhere, so I only had to sign the affidavit this time? Strange.

my leg: The wound has scabbed over solidly. It's clearly healing well. I can tolerate touching the surface of it, but it's still painful if I put any pressure at all on it. While gardening, I occasionally forget, and I kneel on that leg. One quick yelp, and I'm back trying to awkwardly position myself safely for digging in the ground.

fence: It still hasn't arrived. I knew it would be many weeks, but I'm still looking forward to it impatiently.

trees: I'm also waiting for the service to remove two trees from my back yard. Thankfully, the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority is paying for it, since the trees are technically on my neighbor's property, which the Authority owns. With those gone, and 2 more that I plan to cut down myself, the other trees that I've planted in my back yard will finally get some decent sunlight.

garden: It's coming along nicely still. I plan on going to the Quaker plant sale on Friday morning to pick up some ferns to put under the shade of the neighbor's tall pine tree. Here's a quick video of Mason bees using their bamboo home. It shows some obvious wear after a few years. I need to hang it more securely.



Amongst the perennials I have planted already that will keep producing food in future years, I have:It's amazing that a lot of fruiting plants will grow nicely in zone 4, although sometimes you do have to look for appropriate varieties. Some of them went into the ground just this year, so it may be next year before I see any food from them.

A decade from now, I expect to enjoy some lazy afternoons just sampling the fruit in season.
mellowtigger: (Default)
2017-05-01 09:24 pm
Entry tags:

camping and other updates

injured leg still not sealed upIt's now day 9 since I scraped up my leg, and it's still oozing.  I bought more gauze pads at the grocery store today, so I could keep up with the daily replacements.  I stopped adding ointment a few days ago.  The red swelling hasn't gotten any worse, so I think it's still healing normally.

It's been cold (near freezing) and rainy, so I haven't made any more progress on my gardening.  I have plants that need to go into the ground. Maybe tonight will be the last night that I leave the heater running on the patio.  The forecast is for warmer days and nights starting tomorrow.

And a few days ago, I had another camping dream.  It was as brief as the one from two weeks ago.  I was camping with someone I knew (different from the previous dream).  There were lots of other people camping in tents near us this time.  We were all camping under a massive canopy.  It was sort of a tent city... within a giant tent.  Strange.  I have no idea what event drew all of us there.
mellowtigger: (we can do it)
2017-04-28 03:50 pm

busy day

Politics. If you live in the state of Minnesota, please call the office of Governor Mark Dayton now. He's waffling on an important veto. Just leave a message on their answering machine, as I did, and hopefully you can help persuade him. Our state legislature passed a bill that forbids cities from raising their minimum wage or other protections above what's already granted as minimum protections by the state. That's right, the minimum protection would also become the maximum protection. The bill was taken from the corporate group ALEC, in case that's sufficient information to provoke you to action.

It's being called the city preemption bill. You can read the House HF600 text here and the Senate SF580 text here. You can find at this Minnesota Neighborhoods Organizing For Change page the Governor's office phone number and sample text you can speak.  If you use Twitter, you can also use my Tweet's text if you'd like.  I've called.  I've tweeted.  Please add your voice to the swell.

yellow leafed cornGardening. It's literally freezing in Minnesota. I haven't planted my garden yet. On Wednesday  morning, I had a small pile of slush on my car windshield when I drove to work. I should have put a heater on my patio to keep my sprouts from freezing, but I didn't think of it until too late.  I lost a few plants.  On Thursday night, I did put the heater out there, and the plants survived much better.  I think I'll need one more night of extra care for them.

I have a very strange corn plant with leaves that are entirely yellow.  Not variegated yellow-with-green, but just yellow.  It's been growing for 2 weeks, with only a slight hint of green at the very tip of the leaf.  I've never grown an "albino plant" before.  We'll see if it survives to produce any corn this year.

blueberries front yard newly planted or transplantedI've also got a whole row of blueberries in the front yard by the neighbor's fence.  I planted 2 last year, I transplanted 2 this year, and I added 2 more this year to help fill out the row.  We'll see if I keep up with the soil amendments necessary to keep a low pH.  If I fail, and the blueberries die, then I'll just replace all of them with Juneberries.  They're much the same as blueberries, apparently, but slightly taller, and they're not picky about soil.

I'm also concerned that this freezing weather (round 2 of 2017) will keep my apple and apricot trees from fruiting.  I'd be disappointed to have to wait yet another year to see any fruit from them.  Last year, I received them while they had blooms on them, and the blooms fell after the shock of being planted.  Maybe I'll have to wait for year 3 before they produce.

I also asked the city of Minneapolis about rules for building a raised garden in my front yard.  I want a raised bed, so I can grow carrots and leave them planted until they finally produce seeds in their 2nd year.  I learned last winter that where I intended to put the raised garden was completely shaded from our low-on-the-horizon sun by my neighbor's tall house.  The bed wouldn't gather any warming light to keep the carrot roots thawed.  I'll have to put the raised bed in the front yard instead.  I just have to stay 5 feet from the property line, and I have to stay under 4 feet tall.  I've got the area marked, and now I have to buy more bricks to build it.

Security:
I wrote a large check today for the nice fencing that I want. I'm poor again, but it'll be worth it. A month from now, I hope that I have successfully enclosed my yard within a good fence. I'll need to learn how to work with Quikrete concrete, so hopefully I don't mess up anything.  I'm sure that I'll "feel" better with my yard and windows enclosed.  I could also easily get a dog for additional peace of mind, after I have the fence in place.  We'll see how it goes.

Health: My leg has almost stopped oozing.  It's easily pained, though, if anything touches the area where I lost so much skin.  I've had to skip doing much gardening this week, and maybe a week more.  I'm not happy about losing such rejuvenating exercise time.  I definitely heal slower now that I'm older.

I'm looking forward, though, to see what my yard looks like after this season of gardening is done.  It should be even nicer than last year.
mellowtigger: (Default)
2017-04-24 04:18 pm
Entry tags:

some numbers and updates

injury on day 2My wound from being a dork at the Science March is not healing very quickly.  I stopped at a local clinic today, just to have someone look at it for me.  The doctor said that I was treating it appropriately, but to come back and see her if the swelling at the edges starts to spread outward.  She said for this type of injury that Bacitracin often works better than Neosporin, and she gave me some samples to use.

I was convinced at the Science March by speaking to some people more knowledgeable than I am on matters of property status that I should call to ask why I lost my Homesteader status on my property this year.  I assumed it was because I failed to fill out an annual form because mail delivery here is very bad, and I often get letters for people all over my block.  They told me that there is no annual renewal, though, so I called today.  It turned out that they didn't receive a form last year, even though I filled it out and turned it in at the Hennepin County office listed on the form.  The lady last year told me that it should be delivered elsewhere (even though it had the Minneapolis office address right there on the form where I delivered it), but they would sent it to the correct office.  All done... or so I thought.  The lady on the phone today from the Minneapolis City Assessor's Office said they never received it, but she'll mail another one today.  That's good, since my taxes were going up a very large amount (for me) because of that status loss.

My taxes were done months ago, and I earned just under $30,600 in 2016.  It doesn't sound like much, and it isn't, but it's a lot more than I earned working at the local animal shelter for years.  It doesn't allow much of anything for savings, but I'm still getting by "easily" in my house.  To buy my house last year, I relied entirely on the savings that I quickly acquired while working for Dell for one year.  Life would be easier if I could tolerate long commutes and for-profit corporate life, but it's just not worth the toll on my well being.  I'm better off poor at non-profits, and I don't regret it.  :)

Speaking of taxes, my property taxes were going up a LOT this year as a result of the assessment increase and the loss of homesteading.  Luckily, I've been overpaying just enough each month that I could absorb that increase, but hopefully I can get the tax reduction from homesteading back onto my property.  Meanwhile, my assessment went up from $57K to $65.5K.  That's still a lot less than the value I'm paying on insurance, since that's a full replacement cost of $150K.  But... I mentioned being poor, right?  Lower taxes are good for me.  I plan to continue volunteering to help make a difference in the local crime in Jordan community of Minneapolis, so hopefully I'm contributing a commensurate benefit with my time instead of my cash.

My parents left me a gift last year that will cover the nice fencing that I want for the yard.  I got the quote from the company if I do all the work myself.  I need to give them the okay to order the materials, since the ground is now thawed.  I'll have to install the fence myself for the cheaper price, which will still be over $3.5K for everything.  I think that I'll "feel" a lot better about living here, though, once that's done. I've been woken up a few times already this month by gunshots, so adding a small sense of security would be a good thing for me.  And with a fenced back yard, I could easily get a dog for additional peace of mind.

I'll soon be facing some new stress at work (a coworker taking a very long leave of absence for a worthwhile cause), but that's the only added stress that I anticipate for 2017.  If that's all I have to worry about, then this year will be a good one.
mellowtigger: (gardening)
2017-04-23 12:02 pm

I marched for science

I was planning to attend the Science March anyway (more on my reasons in a different post on another day), but this march was unusual in that my employer was also participating as an official Partner. So I got to join my coworkers on the march. The weather cooperated, and it was a beautiful day. The count of how many people attended is under dispute. Even the earlier Kids' March had over 800 RSVPs, so you'd expect the main march to be heavily attended. The count showing up in local newspapers is only 10K people (with some great photos at that article). The march organizers, however, are estimating 48K people. If they were the ones operating the drone at the march staging area, they should have some good evidence for their estimate.

I made a sign to carry on the march. It didn't occur to me that I wouldn't be able to easily take photos. That oversight has consequences: fewer photos, poor quality photos/videos, and getting separated from my group for a long time so I could steal "a moment" to take photos.

Here's the pre-crowd assembling early for the march.

ScienceMarch St.Paul premarch at churchScienceMarch St.Paul droneScienceMarch St.Paul street gathering

We even had a band playing appropriate Earth Day music.

(embedded video is breaking the post, so here is the YouTube link)


I joined my coworkers for the march, and I even made it into their Twitter posts.  These 3 photos are not my own, of course.

ScienceMarch StPaul the whole TNC groupScienceMarch StPaul poster TNC united by nature guided by scienceScienceMarch StPaul me taking a photo

I eventually left my group to climb a bridge wall to try to get a video of the massive crowd. I never could see all of it at once, so the attendance was much higher than what you can see here.  After I took these photos, it probably took me 20 minutes to find my group again, even with multiple phone calls and texts.  I had the same disorganization leter while trying to find my former landlord and his group amongst the throng.

ScienceMarch StPaul crowd 1ScienceMarch StPaul crowd 2


(embedded video is breaking the post, so here is the YouTube link)

Then I got down from the fence that I was standing on. I'm a klutz, though, even on a good day, and I was wearing new glasses from 2 days earlier, so my depth perception is very bad. I ended up meeting the pavement harshly. Much later, I made my way to the Nurse station at the rally. They said I was their biggest accident so far. Typing this post on Sunday, my leg is still bleeding a bit. I won't be doing the gardening today that I had planned.

ScienceMarch StPaul my injured legScienceMarch StPaul nurse station

The rally was attended quite well. I could never get close enough to the capitol steps to hear the speakers well. I never did spot a single news station van or camera (although local stations did have coverage on the 10pm news). I also never saw one of the portable overhead 360 cameras that the police use.  It was the state capitol, after all, so maybe they already have plenty of security cameras everywhere.  It seemed like every third person carried a sign, so the crowd was very engaged. It was also unusually "pale", even for Minnesota. Where are we losing our minority kids in the science classrooms?

ScienceMarch StPaul rally at capitol stepsScienceMarch StPaul dinosaur costume
ScienceMarch StPaul woolly mammoth contraption side viewScienceMarch StPaul woolly mammoth front view


The woolly mammoth was an impressive mechanical contraption.

(embedded video is breaking the post, so here is the YouTube link to video 1 and video 2)


And, in no particular order, a collection of the few posters that I was able to capture on my sunscreen-smudged cell phone camera.


ScienceMarch StPaul poster Blinky SimpsonsScienceMarch StPaul poster Rosie the Riveter
ScienceMarch StPaul USA flagScienceMarch StPaul poster future scientist
ScienceMarch StPaul poster good science makes good judgementScienceMarch StPaul poster no science no beer
ScienceMarch StPaul poster resist ignorance
ScienceMarch StPaul poster science isn't liberal pollution isn't rightScienceMarch StPaul poster science lab labrador
ScienceMarch StPaul poster quote Carl Sagan science is a way not to fool ourselvesScienceMarch StPaul poster stand with Data Star TrekScienceMarch StPaul poster science is important muppets
ScienceMarch StPaul poster science based policy not policy based science

I think it was an Earth Day well spent.

#ScienceMarch #ScienceMarchMN #MarchForScience #NatureUnitesUs
mellowtigger: (Default)
2017-04-12 07:25 am
Entry tags:

pseudo-camping

I'll get back to making regular posts eventually.  I had a 2nd illness that sort of "reset the clock" on my coughing, so I haven't been feeling as energetic and involved as usual.  This morning, though, I wanted to report a dream that I remembered upon waking.  It's been a long while.

I was out camping.  Three of us were walking back from some event (I don't know what) to our tent in the woods.  I recognize one of the guys, but the other was a stranger to me.  Our tent was strangely cube-like with straight upward walls instead of sloping ones from the way a tent usually hangs.  What was more strange, however, were the car lights.

Our tent was located right next to a gas station, so car headlights were shining repeatedly into the tent all night.  There was no sense at all of remoteness, isolation, or solitude.  Very strange.
mellowtigger: (flameproof)
2017-01-22 06:29 pm
Entry tags:

lung crud

I haven't logged in here in a while. I'd like to comment at length on the election, the inauguration, and the protests.

Instead, I've been on antibiotics since Friday, and it keeps getting worse. My temperature as I write this note is 38.8C/101.8F. I've been coughing lightly or heavily all week, but the fever and bad headache didn't show up until after I started taking the antibiotics. It just annoyed the wee beasties, it seems.

I'll probably be heading back to the doctor tomorrow if my temp doesn't come down by morning.
mellowtigger: (Daria)
2016-11-14 05:02 pm

it's expensive being poor

While my car has been parked at my house this year, it has been rear-ended by a drunk driver, nearly-scraped by a doped up driver (who destroyed other cars on the block and a fire hydrant which took months for the city to finally repair), and had the driver side door messed up by someone trying to break into it.

bullet holes in my car last night 2016 Nov 13Now I can add bullet holes to the list.

When the first few bullets were fired around 10:10pm, they sounded like they were practically in front of my house.  I was sitting by the front window, so I dove for the floor and started dialing 911.  Then the second round of bullets were fired, and I realized that the sofa probably wasn't much of a barrier.  I ran upstairs to sit in the bathtub to finish dialing 911.

After confirming that police were on the way, I went outside to start looking around.  It's pitch black here.  We do have street lights on our block, but they are dim and nowhere close to my house.  As police headlights brightened up the area, we discovered that 3 cars had been hit by bullets, including mine.

I gave them permission to get into my car and door to try to retrieve the bullets.  They waited for a crime unit to come out and do the work.  They finished around 1am.  I discovered today in sunlight that what was left of my badly-functioning door was now completely dismantled by police and practically unusable.  I went to my usual mechanic today to see what could be done, but it pretty much needs just replacing completely, which will cost several hundred dollars.  I only have the minimal liability insurance required to drive legally, so that's no help for the damage that other people do.

I've got it scheduled for Friday.  I considered just painting my usual hashtag #WarzoneInMinneapolis onto the door with the bullet holes left alone.  There are plenty of kids on this block, though, and I figure it's best not to add to the background noise of their impression of "normality" in the Jordan neighborhood of Minneapolis.  So I'll get at least one of them repaired.

I was woken up again around 5am this morning by more gunshots, but they were much farther away, so I just went back to sleep eventually.

I woke up after 10am and eventually went out to survey the car.  I talked to another neighbor about the incident.  He was a black guy a few years younger than me.  He mentioned that he'd been shot recently by a paint ball gun by someone driving in a car, and he still had a bruise from it.  Yuck.

When this car is no longer usable, I'm sure I'll rely solely on public transportation from now on.  I figure we're only a decade away from self-driving car services that make private ownership just a luxury.  I might as well join the trend early.  We already have several people at work who always use bicycle or public transport, so I'll be in good company.

For now, though... I'm annoyed by sudden expenses that rich people don't have thrust upon them by strangers during the night.  At least no windows were broken in the car or house.  I think we have another citizen patrol scheduled this week.  I'll be there.
mellowtigger: (mst3k)
2016-11-11 05:07 pm
Entry tags:

movie: Arrival

Arrival 2016 movie posterI've mentioned time and again my desire to have a visual language without sequential time. "Arrival" demonstrated this concept beautifully. It's a new favorite movie of mine.

The movie is rated quite well at Rotten Tomatoes (currently at 94%), so hopefully other audiences will appreciate it as much as I did.  And not fall asleep and snore like an old man did in the theater today.

What if learning to communicate with aliens required more than just assembling a new dictionary?  What if it required a whole new way of experiencing yourself?  As I've written in earlier posts, what if some humans don't have a knack for serializing their thoughts, and we've relegated them to the status of mental idiots, but we really need to develop a new form of communication?

This movie briefly offers a glimpse into the possibility that serial-thinking humans could be the underdeveloped minds in galactic society, and aliens would need to offer us metaphorical crutches and remedial lessons in language so we could communicate together efficiently.  When they offer us a "weapon", what are we supposed to think?  Metaphor is a multi-edged wonder.

I like it.  Go see for yourself.
mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
2016-10-08 12:12 am

gardening at midnight

Chalk up another activity that I never expected to accomplish: gardening at midnight.

harvest pumpkins, cayenne peppers, and spaghetti squashIt is currently just barely above freezing here in Minneapolis, with frost warnings for early this morning. I wanted to get some things indoors before any freezing weather had a chance to turn them into mush as the plants unfroze. I went outdoors with a flashlight to make my way through the vine patches.  I brought in all of the pumpkins, all of the cayenne peppers (that were red and ready), and a few of the spaghetti squash. That cat doesn't know quite what to think of all the new smells that are clearly inedible (to a cat's nose).

Why wait until midnight to harvest them?

I was already at the Gaylaxicon 2016 sci-fi convention today (here in Minneapolis this year) before I realized that frost was forecast. I spent much of the day and evening enjoying the panel discussions. It was a trip down memory lane during the 9:30pm discussion about online gaming.  They had 2 panelists who worked on Everquest 1, which I played heavily when it first came online back in 1999.  I even helped create a gay guild there, which was an exciting thing to do back in those days because it seemed so rare.

I left the hotel before the next panel that was scheduled to start at 11pm. Yes, it's a busy day and night on their convention schedule. Overall, though, it's a nice, non-stressful convention.  I'll be back for more activities on Saturday and Sunday too.

I left early to come home tonight and get this harvest indoors. I especially want the pumpkins to survive in good condition to Halloween. Our local "block leader" is hoping to organize some kids on our block for a jack-o-lantern carving activity, and I intend to donate pumpkins to the cause. I just want to keep one for myself to use at my house. The rest are intended as donations for neighbors.

I used the central air/heating in my house this morning for the first time in many months.  I wanted to be sure it was ready for cold weather.  It worked fine, so I'll be turning it on again before I head to bed now.

#Gaylaxicon2016

mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
2016-10-03 07:44 pm
Entry tags:

song: this is halloween

In the tradition of the old Christmas stop-motion shows from the 1960s, Tim Burton created "The Nightmare Before Christmas". Like the old shows, it's also part musical. The opening song for the film is what I hear in my thoughts as I roam the aisles of holiday decorations in the stores in October.


I bought lights this year, and I put them up tonight for a test. I figure I'll slowly add to the collection each year, growing it slowly as I learn what's easy to work with and adds consistently to the mood of the place.

Halloween 2016 lights

I even have a pumpkin patch in the front yard, although I think I'll have to pull the pumpkins for indoor storage.  One or two has already wandered off, and I want to have plenty for the pumpkin carving party on our block that's been suggested by our block leader for the local kids.  I wish I knew how many trick-or-treaters to expect, so I could plan for the candy loot bag.  All I got from the neighbors during National Night Out was "medium" traffic, whatever that means?
mellowtigger: (wild things)
2016-09-17 03:09 pm
Entry tags:

galli

Keeping with the animal theme, I met chickens (Gallus gallus) today.

This morning was overcast, so I took the opportunity to spend a few hours touching up the deck. I got some decent work done, but I've already spotted yet another section that I've failed to coat at all. I guess I'll be touching up again sometime. It was nearly 1pm before I finally got on the road in my car to do some nearby traveling.

welcome sign Twin Cities Chicken Coop TourI had seen the Chicken Coop Tour invitation, so I visited a few locations in Minneapolis nearest my house. The lady at the end of my block has several chickens in her back yard. She wasn't part of this tour event, but I've already talked with her. She also has several dogs that obviously get along well with the birds. I wanted to compare how other people were raising chickens in the city.

This event seems to be well organized. At least the places I visited had prominent signs in the front yard to welcome visitors and direct them to the back yard. There seems to be a lot of interest, too, because there were several visitors at each place during the short time that I was there.

One owner mentioned that Minneapolis city code says he can't build a permanent structure within 4 foot of the property line, so his chicken coop is that distance from the fence. With that 4-foot tract sitting behind it unused, he decided to just fence it in too and use it as part of the chicken run. It looked very efficient. He didn't even have electricity at the coop, but he had a solar air heater and he said that filling up their fresh water bucket each morning would keep them in water throughout the day without freezing.  During subzero days, he could just run an extension cord to the coop and drop an aquarium heater into their water bucket.

Another house had been participating in this tour for many years. They even had food and drinks and takeaway gifts for people to share. She said that for years, a pair of old women would show up promptly at 10am, and they'd all share a glass of champagne together.  It was maybe too extravagant for a chicken tour, but it certainly leaves a good impression.  I got the refrigerator magnet seen here, and I signed the guest book.

Raising chickens does increase the daily chore routine, though, which I prefer to avoid adding to the load. And chickens do require resources of food, water, shelter, and heat.  It was good to see actual costs calculated and displayed by the chicken coop.

Twin Cities Coop Tour chicken refrigerator magnetchicken coop feed costschicken coop heat lamp costs

So, I don't know if it's for me.  I think I'd like to try it sometime.  I seldom bring meat to the house unless it's prepackaged and/or precooked stuff, so eggs would be a good source of vitamin B12 for me.  Plus, I'd know that the chickens were treated well and fed healthy meals without being dosed with antibiotics.

I'll keep the idea as a definite "maybe".
mellowtigger: (wild things)
2016-09-16 11:13 pm
Entry tags:

canines

I've pondered today several times if I would like to have a dog at the house. I certainly would feel safer with a living burglar alarm beside me. I'm not sure I want to establish a separate "dog poop space" from garden space, though. Regardless, I'd need to get a fence first, so the dog has a place to run without supervision, especially in winter.

I had pondered getting a Shiba Inu or an old Greyhound, since they're supposed to be "cat like" in their demeanor, with low demands on the human. As I read up on them, however, I see that both breeds tend to aggressively chase smaller animals, which would be bad news for my cat when she darts down the stairs and takes a flying leap onto the floor. It's the sort of activity that might trigger a deadly chase by the dog.

So I went looking for suggestions. Animal Planet had a decent quiz (that I liked better than the more official AKC one). It listed some interesting results for me:

Scottish Deerhound
Scottish Deerhound
(97% match)
I'd never heard of it before. Low energy, which is good. A little big for my space, though, and they rate it low for guard duty.
Great Pyrenees
Great Pyrenees
(96% match)
Beautiful, fluffy, low energy, and good with pets. Those qualities seem great. But "barks a lot"? And other places say it may be a drooler.  Yet other places mention the loud bark, but then also say it's quiet indoors?  Then again, how much time can you keep a giant dog indoors?  So, I don't know.
Bernese Mountain Dog
Bernese Mountain Dog
(95% match)
I'd never heard of this one either. Cute face, low energy, and some watchdog ability. Maybe this is the kind of dog I need in the house.  Except apparently it's expensive if you can find one, so no.
Collie
Collie
(95% match)
Good old-fashioned Collie. Very friendly and good protectors. They'd be easy to find here, I think. But barking is the issue again?
Finnish Spitz
Finnish Spitz
(95% match)
Another breed I'd never heard of before. Good with pets and good guard ability, but again with the loud barking.
Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
(95% match)
Another one I've never heard of. Exceptionally good with pets, great guard dog, low energy. Sounds terrific, what's the catch? Oh, yeah, a big animal that's destructive when bored and may slobber a lot, while being expensive and short-lived. Ok, not for me.

I could just get a tiny Chihuahua and be done with the question. Then spend hours watching it be terrorized by my cat. Some guard dog, eh?

If I ever get a dog, I'm sure I'll just roam the animal shelters for months until I find a mutt that strikes my fancy, and just hope it's not an annoying barker or digger.
mellowtigger: (we can do it)
2016-09-10 06:43 pm
Entry tags:

one tree down

I ordered a small chainsaw with my last paycheck, and it finally arrived at the store this weekend.  I used it today, and it's decent for a small tool.  It locked up a few times on the small-ish diameter tree that I cut down, but it accomplished the job. 

tree cut with red stainI tackled the almost-all-dead tree that had already broken off during the big storm many weeks ago.  A woodpecker had used it to house some chicks earlier this year.  I'm not sure what happened to them after the storm and their section broke off.  They were lodged horizontally for a few weeks, caught in branches of other trees until the next storm finally took that section down to the ground. 

After I cut down the main trunk, I saw the red area in the main part of the tree.  If it's just stain from the oil the saw uses, then I would expect all the cross sections to show that red coloration, but only the lower parts of the main trunk did.  Does anyone know what it means?  (edit: Thanks to Litchfield on G+, it seems this red tint is typical for box elder trees trying to fight off a fungal infection.)

tree cut and stacked for firewoodI got the bits cut up into firewood lengths, and I got them stacked in the back yard. 

I bought this house on a homesteading arrangement, and it's starting to look a bit like a homestead, I think.  Slow progress, but steady.

I'm looking forward to the street at the end of the block finally opening after the construction is finished.  It's looking much nicer than prior to construction.  Supposedly there's no new lighting coming with it yet, even though the conduit infrastructure was put in place for it.  I heard at the last Jordan Area Community Council (JACC) meeting that street lights cost about $8K each, and funds weren't included in the reconstruction for all new lighting.  Disappointing, since that street is supposed to be party of the bicycle-friendly network of Minneapolis, but it remains a high-crime area.  #WarzoneInMinneapolis

Still, though, it does look rather welcoming for bicyclists, joggers, and walkers.

26th Street reconstruction in Minneapolis

I look forward to driving to work on that road again.  And maybe taking the bus and bicycling on that route too, if the crime calms down.
mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
2016-08-31 07:04 pm
Entry tags:

the first training class is planned

The JACC council last night voted to officially support the planned Citizen Patrols.  So I created a PDF flyer on my own initiative.  I've already printed copies for every house on my block, plus a few extra.  I've talked with my block leader from the recent National Night Out gathering, and we'll make the rounds tomorrow night to hand out flyers.

training for citizen patrols in Jordan community of Minneapolis

Local citizens donated space for the training class and donated effort to create a new custom logo for yard signs and patrol visibility.  I hope to see the results of their efforts in the coming days.  I'm sure I'll post more info after I attend the class and get ready for our first patrol.  We hope that local government and news outlets will finally take an interest in our community.  The police in attendance at our safety council meeting seemed to agree that community patrols are effective at changing crime in the neighborhood.  We are hoping for a more peaceful future.

#WarzoneInMinneapolis #TakeAStandCeaseFire
mellowtigger: (Terry 2010)
2016-08-30 05:20 pm

the memorials of Jordan in Minneapolis

Jordan is one of the neighborhoods of Minneapolis (maps). The crime here is bad in 2016. It was so bad August 9-15 that many of the confirmed 17 shootings of Minneapolis happened just within Jordan. Gunfire here is common, as you can tell from the Shot Spotter activations on the same map. I was woken twice this weekend by gunshots.

Too many people have died here recently. On my walks, I've started recording the memorials that I see. I haven't visited all of Jordan yet, just those areas within a few blocks of my house. Each of these memorials represents someone who was once a family member and a resident with a role in their community.  Now they leave a hole in the lives of family, friends, schoolmates, and co-workers.

Each of these deaths was unnecessary and avoidable.

I'll leave these images for visitors to ponder.

Location and Date Of PhotoMemorial Photo
Logan and 26th
2016 08 14
memorial at Logan and 26th in Jordan of Minneapolis
Penn and Lowry
2016 08 14
memorial at Penn and Lowry in Jordan of Minneapolis
Morgan and 30th
2016 08 21
memorial at Morgan and 30th in Jordan of Minneapolis
Newton and 30th
2016 08 21
 
memorial at Newton and 30th in Jordan of Minneapolis

I'll update this page as I find new memorials, but only those within Jordan.  I pass other memorials on my commute to work, but they are outside the range of this neighborhood.  All of them leave an influence on the minds of those who live here.

The Jordan Area Community Council (JACC, also found on Facebook) will soon begin citizen patrols.  Paraphrased from one of the organizers, "No more meetings, no more discussions, no more vigils.  It has to stop now.  Take a stand; cease fire!"  We begin training next week for citizen patrols.

#WarzoneInMinneapolis #TakeAStandCeaseFire