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Tuesday Sockspiration

19 October 2021 08:38

I woke up this morning and stepped out to walk the dog, and I found that permeating the air was the unmistakable scent of chicken and waffles. Not a particularly unusual smell for the area in which we live -- an entertainment district in North Texas. However, I've never encountered that particular smell permeating the air in a wide, open area with such pungence. And at 8 in the morning. People around here start seeking spirit-sopping sustenance closer to 2.

It's not a bad scent by any means. Quite pleasant, even in the strange context in which I found it. So today, I let 8 A.M. chicken and waffle smell of unknown origin be my inspiration, and my sock theme. If anyone notices that I'm a little extra jovial today, let it be known that it's because this morning, I smelled chicken and waffles while my dog pooped.

Chicken and Waffle socks

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Starting a New Garden

23 October 2021 10:50

My husband and I are accomplished gardeners. Our old apartment in Austin had a large balcony that we absolutely filled with potted plants. We grew a few different kinds of mint, parsley, cilantro, all kinds of peppers, and different herbs that I would use for truly homemade herbal tea. We grew both Italian sweet basil and tulsi, or Indian holy basil. The bees that made the commute up to our third story balcony blessed us with a new hybrid between the two.

Our garden was so overactive that you could see it from the street, and currently persists in the promotional photos for the building.

A few green thumbs up there in 302

Our new place in Dallas has no balcony or yard, so we were unable to take our plants with us. They are in the care of various other residents at that building. I hope they're doing well.

What better opportunity to start anew? We signed up for a local community garden here in town. We got a 4x4 plot, well enough for a few good-size plants. We started with some okra seeds, because we just happened to have some when we toured the garden for the first time together.

Sproing! Okra coming up fast

We completely forgot about the seeds for a good few weeks. We had a couple of downpoors in the mean time, and by the time we got back to plant more things, we had a couple healthy-looking okra sprouts!

We gave the okra guys a ladder to climb and got to work with the rest of the plot. We selected a few things that we think would survive an October sowing in North Texas, divided the plot into nine segments, and planted seeds in the configuration recommended by the packet.

A chart of our sub-plots. The notebook is a Delfonics Rollbahn Mini

We planted a week ago and watered sporadically since then. I dropped by this morning to check on how things were doing. A few sprouts here and there, I'm most impressed by the arugula.

It's a VEGETABLE.

I shouldn't be suprised. Arugula is a weed. We'll have to watch it to make sure it doesn't take over the whole community garden.

I took a few extra moments to take in the rest of the place. It's a very beautiful, peaceful place. The garden is situated under a few highway overpasses, but situated such that all the plots get plenty of sun throughout the day. Both water and power run to the plot, so it's just about perfect for a community garden. There is considerable highway noise, but it's elevated and obstructed, so it filters down to the garden as nearly indistiguishable white noise. It's a great setting in which to meditate.

The other plots offer inspiration for things to plant, as well as general gardening tips. We have some very resourceful neighbors.

These plants drink better than I do!

Depleted wine and liquor bottles are used in place of Aqua globes, if the plot owner is unable to water for a certain interval of time.

Not particularly effective as fish fertilizer

These are cocktail stirrers from a nearby seafood bar and grill where the community has their happy hours. Here, they are used as plant markers.

Work smarter, not harder!

The water faucets are communal, installed on each row of plots. Here we have somebody who put a Y-valve on one, and installed a water timer on one of the outlets. Very clever, I'll consider a similar setup if watering becomes too much of a hassle or we go on vacation.

There are a couple of community-maintained plots, for pollination and herbs. It's a lot easier and cheaper to go down to the community garden when I need some parsley for a recipe than go to the store. It almost seems to taste better, too.

Little gnome tending to the community oregano

I was not alone in the garden this morning. A squirrel was darting up and down the tree in the middle of the garden and between all the planter boxes. He performed some impressive acrobatics. He was clearly busy with something.

I got low and crept behind him, camera at the level. It's hard to get a good shot of a squirrel who's moving with purpose. Frankly, I'm not satisfied with any of the shots I got of him. Here's about as close as I got:

Little furry earth-mover

It seems that he was hard at work harvesting nuts from the tree and burying them in the planter boxes. I guess I'll know the reaon why if one day our plot has an oak tree hanging out of it.

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Thinking of You, Ukraine

24 February 2022 20:13

Tonight, the "Green Building", or Bank of America Plaza in Dallas, TX is lit up in the national colors of Ukraine.

Bank of America Plaza Tower lit up in Ukraine's national colors

I love Ukraine. It's one of my favorite countries that I've visited. I've travelled from Lviv to Kyiv via rail, and back via regional jet (or vice versa -- I can't remember). I saw churches, military installations, book festivals, cold war relics, ancient forts, and lots of tough, kind-hearted, speak-your-mind type of people. Theirs is a culture that blends East and West, old and new, and has a distinct character unlike anywhere else.

Russia's Putin seeks to destroy and assimilate this culture into a second CCCP. The man fancies himself a warlord. A nuclear power with a truly medieval brain.

Ultimately, this will end up very bad for Putin and Russia. The Ukrainian people are tough and resilient. They won't let their country go easily. And after it's all said and done, nobody will want to be seen doing business with Russia. Unfortunately, there will be bloodshed and senseless violence in between now and then.

The Ukrainian National Bank is accepting donations via SWIFT. You can get the information on how to donate from their official website. As the Ukrainian government websites have been under attack, I will mirror the information for USD donations below. Please consider donating to help the Ukrainian people defend themselves.

For USD remittances:
SWIFT Code NBU: NBUA UA UX
JP MORGAN CHASE BANK, New York
SWIFT Code: CHASUS33
Account: 400807238
383 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10179, USA
Funds will be wired into account No. UA843000010000000047330992708

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Blue Planet

21 March 2022 18:05

Blue and Yellow digital watches displaying different times

These cheap knock-off Casi-faux watches remind me of something very important. We're farting around on a little spec of dust in the universe. Everything is impermanent, and in the greater scope of the universe, fairly insignificant. We don't tend to consider this, because it's a little depressing.

I've been in a weird mood for the past month. I've been dismayed about the death and destruction being caused by Putin in Ukraine. I've been worried for my friends and associates there, and trying to reach out and check on people without pestering them.

Then I feel like something of a grief-imposter, as though I'm making somebody's horrific national tragedy about myself because I saw a pretty building once. Like somebody who uses solidarity as a fashion accessory. A big ol' phony.

And all the while, I forget to live my own life. My hobbies, work, and relationships suffer, because I'm paralyzing myself with not only scrolling through pictures of bombed apartment buildings all day, but negative feedback loop of self-doubt.

I think the best thing that I can do -- other than giving what I can to Ukraine-related causes -- is live my own life and output positive energy into the universe. One day the situation may be reversed, at which time, I would only want the same from my friends an ocean and a continent away.

Please consider donating to Ukraine's military and humanitarian funds -- now accepting credit cards!

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Riding with Mavica

25 March 2022 21:08

My husband and I got bikes recently, from a local shop located in a dilapidated Frito factory. We awkwardly peddled them back home to our home, located in a 114 year old Model T factory.

Having not ridden a bike since middle school so many years ago, it took us some time to get used to them. Balancing and going fast aren't the problem, so much as starting and stopping.

But I've really taken to riding after work. For what Dallas lacks in nature hikes, it makes up for in bike trails. We can ride from our home in Deep Ellum all the way to White Rock Lake and the trail that encomposses it, with only a few blocks of road travel and just a few intersections.

My Retrospec Beach Cruiser against an overpass mura

Today, I thought it would be fun to bring my Sony Mavica, model MVC-FD88, along for the ride. I brought along a satchel full of 1.44 MB new-old-stock Office Depot floppy diskettes, but I only got through three of them before my long-disused battery ran out.

My Retrospec Beach Cruiser against an overpass mural, different angl

So, yes, 33% of the pictures that I took are of my bike. Though it's pretty fine-looking, if I do say so myself.

My Retrospec Beach Cruiser on some grave

Hey, it's a new toy and I want to show it off. Could you really blame me? Though the reason I pulled over on this gravel wasn't to get another shot of my bike, it was this:

Some rude, though strangely asesthetic, graffit

I'm not normally a fan of graffiti, but I would certainly rather it be done against stark slabs of cement than the natural features themselves. So, thank you for that, anonymous lady-butt drawer.

A little pond near the lak

I enjoy the limitations of the crappy digital camera... uh, format? This would be a rather mediocre picture if taken with a good camera. It's over-exposed, there's a lot of detail washed out. But the artifacts and jpeg-edness of it all make it so much mroe interesting. And I can still arrange a halfway decent composition, at least if I stare intently into the early 00s LCD technology intently enough.

A duck, or some type of waterfow

And this thing has some halfway-decent glass in it, for being a monolith without any form of changeable lens. I won't pretend this isn't a crap photo, but I'm always impressed how close I can get with the optical zoom.

Old building, big smokestack. If you're a hotel manager, contact me for prints

There are some pretty old buildings around the lake. Clubhouses, some repurposed industrial buildings. I think most of them are venue spaces now.

A weird little boat. It was chasing some college rowers

There was some sort of rowing competition. I wanted to get more pictures of it, maybe even a zoomy panning shot, but my battery was running low. All I got was this chaser boat, and perhaps the only particularly decent shot of this set:

A moody backlit picture of a fisherman

This fisherman seemed none too pleased that he chose rowing competition day to get all of his gear together and head down to the lake. Hopefully he had something to show for at the end of the day.

Not a bad day of bike riding or shooting! And I'm pleased to be re-acquainted with the good old post-workout feeling of tired/not-tired. The mostly uphill ride home was strenous, but invigorating. And I'll certainly be bringing crappy old digital cameras on future rides!

The full gallery is available here. It's interesting -- usually I throw away between 80 and 100% of the digital pictures I take. But something about the limiting nature of recording them on floppies makes me think about the ones I take more, like with film. These are all the exposures that I took today!

It's almost like it's the best of both worlds, if you can excuse the poor sensor technology and image resolution.

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Finally, a use for these stupid masks

24 July 2022 16:53

I got a couple rolls of Foma 400 ISO 120 the other day and decided to try them out today. I'm new to this format, but I've learned that 120 film typically has a lick-and-stick type adhesive on the backing to prevent it from unspooling after being shot. Strangely, despite being the same stock, purchased at the same store at the same time, my two rolls of Foma were incongruent in this area: One had lick-and-stick capability, and the other did not seem to.

This caused me some anxiety as, in daylight, I fond myself without assurance that my roll would stay closed. A quick glance in my glovebox offered an immediate on-the-spot solution.

Looks better on you than me.

Turns out the ear loops on the stupid paper masks, of which we have piles upon piles, are perfect for gently preventing these loose rolls from unravelling. I tied one around the licked-and-stuck roll as well, just for good measure.

I wonder if anyone's figured out some good DIY projects for those clear plastic face visor things. Other than Repo! The Genetic Opera cosplay, of course.

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