Thursday, October 3, 2013

Fish and Pawpaws, Can't Beat It!

From the Maury river behind the house. Haven't had a bad day fishing yet, although 'big' fish is not the scene.

Pawpaws: after thinking about it only a second, I knew the fruit Sue and I saw were pawpaws. This although I do not remember the circumstances of some 45 years ago when I must have first learned what they were, probably from Dad. He probably picked them up, knowing what they were,  and showed them to me -  but I know we didnt eat them.

I have a book on edible plants and the trick [which Dad probably was unsure of, if it was indeed him] was to let them ripen and don't eat the skin. They are full of these big seeds, which means you spit the seeds out [the fruit kind of clings to the seeds]. It seems to be the sort of thing you eat maybe one of at a time. Very tasty! The whole business is a lot like persimmons, it seems, what with needing to ripen and being undesirable till that point, but they taste and smell like bananas. 

Of course I had to go back and get some more [while fishing]. So this is what I have been up to while it's too hot for hunting. 

 The shotgun shell is for size perspective.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

DVR cont.

Hey everybody, they have this new device where you turn it on and they send pictures to you over the air! "Television!"

OK, unintentionally my last post might have sounded like that to some, a guy eager to tell everybody about something new to him, foolishly assuming that it was new to everybody. Well, I knew better than that and I regret the blog post came across sounding like that. For the record, the article at Wikipedia says "Consumer digital video recorders ReplayTV and TiVo were launched at the 1999 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas."

True, I was writing in part to someone I expected to read it who said he didn't have a DVR yet. But I was also writing in part to indicate how I almost immediately started using DVR differently than VCR, wondering if I would get feedback with others who might say the same. And of course I especially was wondering if anyone was using it to watch sports the same way I am now doing. The feedback I in fact did get would seem to indicate that there must be plenty of folks who merely use it the way they used to use their old VCR. I haven't seen any data on what percentages of people now have a DVR or DVR service, and how many just use it like a VCR. It would be interesting. 

Bearing in mind that I expected to someday possibly have DVR, for whatever reason I can't say that I was ever running across articles, or programs, or conversations about what it was like to have one. So here is such a conversation for what it is worth. 

Watching NFL games with the DVR is underway for me. Observations:

*Special set-up to include overtime is essential. With the service we have, you can set-up to record with one click; it gives an option to add 30 minutes. This is not enough sometimes to do full regulation time, so it means learning to do your own set-up.

*It does seem more important to use the recording in a way such that you catch up with real-time by some point in the 4th quarter; it's just harder to avoid news of the final score with football. Note that to be able to do this really is a unique ability afforded by DVR.

*Waiting a bit over an hour to begin viewing the game you are recording is not too much. There is easily just as much game delay and certainly as many or more commercials as in baseball. I am experimenting with waiting even longer.

*It occurs to you that you don't need to wait around for the refs to go through the full penalty process. Punts that likely will result in "fair catch" can be blown through fast with an eye to go back if needed [so easy to do]; with the new rules, more kick-offs go too far back to bring out as well. Surprises in extra point attempts will be discovered checking on the score in the next phase. Needless to say, interminable zebra conferences get the complete axe. 

*I watched three games Sunday. One game in particular I blew through pretty fast, granting that when you do this perhaps it is not too much different from creating your own highlight reel. A complete one though, without prematurely learning the final score! One game of the three I watched pretty thoroughly and I think this will be typical for me. 

It sometimes occurs to me that I am over-using the remote to skip too quickly through the game, and I will put it down then. I'm not going to sit through commercials, but otherwise there is an element of spoiling a game rather than enjoying it if you don't look out. On the other hand, sometimes the choice is blowing through all slow elements or going back to just watching bits and pieces of the game. Time just does not allow watching that much sports for me, that I can watch full game after full game. As with cutting out intervals between pitches in baseball, in football you can cut out the huddle time. It is a little harder to get this right, replays are shown constantly with this game. You need to get used to the rhythm of each team, it seems.

PS: I set up to record and waited 90 minutes to start watching Patriots/Jets Thursday 9-12-13. I got to the very end of the 4th quarter for real-time catch-up by just skipping commercials and challenges-dead-time etc. I fast-forwarded through punts and kick-offs but slowly enough that I could check to see if those were returned or not; this works well as commercials usually follow and the fast-forward can then be speeded up. I put down the remote for all other parts of the game and watched every play. 

I'd say an hour and 15 minutes is probably about right, games will vary and I think you want to catch up with real time for sure on late games [otherwise plan to finish the next day].

Sunday, September 1, 2013

How to Watch Sports in Modern Times

With our current set up we now have Digital Video Recorder [DVR] service through our satellite provider. Although I realized it was an improvement over the VCR, I did not realize the difference would be so great that essentially we have been launched into a new universe. Although there is a learning curve with it and the remote that is needed, it is actually easier to use overall than a VCR. More importantly, it just does more things and does them more efficiently. You can record at least two things at once and watch a third - and play something you recorded on another TV while the other TV plays something else. The amount you can record is enormous. Really, you get hooked and start to think of the old VCR like you think of your old typewriter. I just got caught up with hooking up things and we now have the DVD/CD/XM players going; and the VCR. But the latter is now just set up to play, not record.

It has changed the way I want to watch TV. You sit there while a commercial comes on and all of a sudden it hits you, "I can just record this by pushing a button, watch something else for a while, even read!" After a suitable length of time you start watching the show again, but this time blowing through the ads. You wind up at the end of the program at the same time as usual. It's great!

I am definitely watching more sports, and watching them differently. It's probably fair to say in my life I had gotten to where I wasn't really watching sports. Oh, I'd tune in once in a while for an inning or two of baseball, maybe the first and fourth quarter of an interesting NFL game, parts of a NHL contest. Enjoyment came with this, and I can even say I can get into the relaxed pace of baseball [it requires an adjustment after hockey season!] But three or more hours devoted to watching sports had gotten to be really too much for me. Living on the East coast, I have come to realize, meant often not staying up to watch who won prime time events as well. This situation held for me when working full time, part time, and when not working at all. I was just not going to spend that much time and then say, as Woody Paige quipped recently, gee I was watching some commercials and a football game broke out for a while!

Baseball is what I've been experimenting with so far. Here's the formula,

*set it up to record 6 hours to catch any extra innings. Again, capacity for DVR is enormous. Record any and all you have any notion to do.
*don't even start watching at first; about one hour should go by, not necessarily more, ideally.
*tune in and watch the first inning or two completely to catch up with the pitchers, current stats for the players, and some team news as the announcers slowly disgorge that. Skip only the commercials.
*innings 3-6 watch unitl the first 2 outs of each half-inning, and if no one is on base and the pitcher seems to be in control, fast forward through the action and the batch of commercials to the next team's at-bat. If you missed some scoring, you will be able to tell, and also if you don't f-forward too fast you can see the bases get loaded by the graphic, and go back.
*in these middle innings it should be also possible to skip other slow moments, such as when for some mysterious reason the batter or the pitcher is still not ready. If a pitcher is especially slow, you can f-forward slowly and when you see the batter look at the pitcher or the pitcher look at the catcher's signals, you know it's time to go back to normal speed for a pitch.
*by the 7th inning, pitchers may change [that means a commercial break to blow through], often other line-up changes, and a more interesting part of the game. Especially if the latter is holding up, go back to watching each pitch. 
*If you've been using up your bought time ideally,  you get caught up with real time about by the end of the 8th inning. You get a hint of where you are with a graphic that comes up when you use the controls too.
*If you don't get a chance to start watching until the game is into later innings, it's just time to accelerate all of this to get to the 7th or 8th innings. You can keep an eye out for action and stop and 'rewind'  too, by looking at the graphics and the score. This is just as well since there are so many baseball games; I'm wondering if especially with football you might just wait to watch until the next day. Ironically, this also means there is more risk you will accidentally be told the final score prematurely, though. 
*Extra innings? I prefer to finish up the next day, especially on evening games.

Bear in mind also you can still do the opposite of skipping, and instead repeat good plays or events that were accidentally missed, etc. This just buys you more time to skip what you'd like to skip. It never happened with a VCR, but I start to think of the DVR as my time machine. Sometimes you have to be reminded that you can only view the past. For example, it doesn't buy you anything to freeze the action during commercials, you might as well just use the mute button. You can only 'buy' time when you freeze action that you are actually going to watch later. On the other hand, when you repeat events, you've bought something your 'time machine' can use. 

Now some fans who watch entire baseball games might be critical of some of the above, assuming that person still exists. The thing is, I am now really watching baseball games, not little bits of them and trying to keep up interest by getting the highlights and final scores later. I hope to be able to watch football, baseball, and hockey when all three are going at the same time! That, friends, is going to be a challenge! DVR service is the only thing that might make it possible

Any program that can still be enjoyed the next day, Sue and I pretty much just go ahead and record. Even just a program that starts earlier in the day than we will want to start watching, that also is well worth recording. With DVR, recording just a small portion before watching, while the real time show is still going on, is not only possible but something you find yourself doing all the time.

A final note: At one time it looked like TiVo was going to accomplish the "Kleenex" feat and become the name people were going to use for this ability to record without tape. It even became a verb for a while! I think it is because the cable and satellite services started offering the service without having to buy a device to hook up that this usage is almost gone. TiVo is still around and continuing to be innovative, though, it seems.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Lo and Behold!

Sue and I were walking down to the river Monday ... of course we had to check out all the muddy spots for animal tracks. Of the "big game" so far we have seen deer and turkey walking past our house. Walking down to the river prior to seeing such, we had seen deer tracks [of course] and turkey droppings [no tracks]. Monday, though, here was a shocker!

Sue thankfully had her camera along. 

We could only assume this was a bear track! 

So I went to the web to compare and it is pretty clear it is, here is an example:

There was one solitary track. Go figure! We're pretty excited about this.


How to tell bear droppings apart:

We advise the outdoorsman to wear little noisy bells on clothing so as to give advance warning to any bears that might be close by so you don't take them by surprise.

We also advise anyone using the out-of doors to carry "Pepper Spray" with him in case of an encounter with a bear.

Outdoorsmen should also be on the watch for fresh bear activity, and be able to tell the difference between black bear feces and grizzly bear feces. Black bear feces is smaller and contains lots of berries and squirrel fur. Grizzly Bear shit has bells in it and smells like pepper.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Children of the Night

Wow, no new post since the move. Privacy concerns really kicked in, I think.

You know, we really aren't all that far from town. A small town, yes, but 2 miles of driving gets us in to enough traffic to be a hassle. On the other hand, it is quite a bit more wild and wooly than we have been used to. A wilder and woolier home than any was when I was a kid, too. Signs of deer and turkey out back, a place to fish and canoe/kayak as well. The river is way downhill, though, turns out only one fishing hole so far is practical, I think.

The birds are different here. Cardinals, bluejays, crows and robins like Arlington, but I'm not sure I've seen an English sparrow yet; nor a finch.  Brown thrashers instead of mockingbirds mostly; a catbird or two. We had phoebes when we first got here, but they seem to have moved on. Currently there is a bird that has taken its place somewhat with the calls that I haven't identified. You almost never saw the phoebes either, but that 'fee-bee' call is hard to miss.

The 'wildest' development so far: we have coyotes. First inkling I got was spotting one in a field while walking back from a path to the river. It let me walk up on it pretty close, which worried me a bit about its health. I had no gun with me. It soon spotted me and then took off in 'yikes!' fashion; I guess I was being just quiet enough and downwind too. I was kind of thinking then, though, maybe a guy should have a gun with him around here.

Well, I didn't think this was a good development. Sure enough the next night or so we hear some howling. Wolf-like; but you could tell it wasn't wolves. I have seen no more coyotes, but the rain we have been getting has kept me indoors too. The howling we still hear once in a while, maybe 2 out of 3 nights. I'm a little embarrassed to report that Sue is not the only one to find it creepy. Or maybe eerie is the right word. 

We joke that they are "the children of the night", using a creepy voice. If you are up to date with Dracula movies, there often is the scene where the guy is trying to visit Count Dracula in Transylvania, and on the way has a harrowing experience with wolves. But on complaining to Dracula later when safe, the Count can't seem to see the problem. "What sweet music they make". 

Check it out on youtube:

Friday, May 17, 2013

Whew! or Uh-Oh?

I don't have to tell you that there have been stressful episodes in our move. Overall, no biggies maybe. But all of us have stories, no?

Accidentally came across an internet radio/podcast program that lists activities to avoid if you want to stay out of the emergency room. It's an interview with an ER doctor. Well, #9 out of twelve things he lists to avoid is "Retiring and building your dream house".

Tune in at 34:45 in the program. 

#12 is interesting too. 

When I realized what we are doing is not exactly "building your dream house" [it's an existing house] or really retiring either [I plan to still work, Sue will probably too or at least stay busy ] I let out a "whew"! Should I have gone Uh-Oh instead?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Spring Turkey 2013

Also go to the next post.

All pictures uploaded now.

Here is Russell and Buddy with the Tom. The beard shows better here. 

So no pics of the beast coming out of the oven *sigh* but here is the carved bird and somebody's plate with all the fixings.  

My luck now that I spend less time turkey hunting in the Spring seems to have meant that my luck has been better. This makes two years in a row getting a Spring Tom.

No pictures from times past. Sometimes someone would take a picture, but I never saw most of them. This time I intended to take a picture with my cell phone of the whole bit. And I did get a picture of the hunters, me with the bird, the bird plucked, and the bird on the plate. I was determined to get a picture of the turkey coming out of the oven, a pretty sight. I reviewed my determination all day long. When it was time, a cocktail or so later, I just could only think of the task ahead of carving the bird. I'm afraid our dinner guests were treated to an explosion when I realized I had forgotten the key picture! My apologies to Sue's brother and his wife, Dennis and Ellen, who were quite surprised at how good the turkey was. Hopefully I was forgiven. 

Below: The lucky hunter with his bird, and Russell and Buddy [who called it up again] with the Tom as well [this pick in the above post]. The idea is to fan out the tail and show the beard, about 11 inches.

Russell and Buddy listening for a gobble.

The turkey mostly plucked. Further plucking was required before handing it to the cook [Sue] who did another fantastic job.

The carved bird etc. were intended to be shown next, but due to the nature of blogger dot com, I have to show them out of turn, perhaps some time later. Allowed file size I guess.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The House as an Investment

Interesting link at bottom shows the return you have on your house. Yes, Louise, it can do negative numbers. [vbg] At least we have to assume no return yet for Louise!

In our case, I added in roughly what we put into it and also other costs, going by the escrow payment and trying to average that a bit. 

Nothing exact here, but the result with all that shows a bit less than 2% per year. 

It has to be said that it isn't as simple as that. The alternative is paying rent, so you could flip that around and claim the entire equity of the house came nearly free, an astronomical rate of return. In some cases rent would cost more than a house payment, how do you crunch those numbers?

The site doesn't help you with any of that. If we leave out the escrow as a modifier, and leave in what we put in to it, the rate of return is about 3% for us. It's hard to say what insight to gain from this. 

One thing for sure, under certain other easier to figure out situations, real estate is not that great an investment, such as having so-called income property. On the other hand,  that can be good to have in periods of high inflation. Nothing about real estate seems simple, and there are large costs involved to make it complicated. But you hear people say, "my home was the best investment I ever had.". Well, no, it shouldn't have been anyway, but such a person benefited greatly probably from not renting, at least at not renting something equal to what he lived in. What can be said for sure is it was the best leverage that person ever got on an investment. That meaning buying it with a mortgage of course. Completely unavailable to the average guy on anything else.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Your Mountain

It always seems like you learn your lesson from the last time, and quit being a pack-rat. But I have found I am guilty again. 

Packing up things has been as much as anything just throwing stuff out. I go to do a certain area and wind up with a small box packed and a giant bag to go out with the garbage. 

Ever wonder what your Legacy will be? Perhaps quite unimpressive for most of us, but one thing can be said for sure in the age of the landfill: a lifetime leaves a giant mountain of trash behind. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013


A video has "gone viral" that examines the distribution of wealth in the United States. "Viral" suggests you may have to search for it, but that should be easily done. Meantime I have provided a link below.

It's pretty astonishing, alright, if we accept the numbers. We don't know who is speaking and we arent told how to access the Harvard study. Just saying. Snopes dot com has nothing I could find. 

I don't doubt what is being shown is factual however.Make of it what you will.

I guess if you could quiz this gentleman you'd find the cure for the problem is to be higher taxation of the 1%. Problem is, what he is showing is not income, but wealth. That means the cure actually is confiscation; redistributing income would have an incomplete effect.

Myself, I do not begrudge people for what they have. Certainly confiscation of property to provide equality of wealth is out of the question IMO. Redistribution of income is Socialism. Redistribution of property is totally Commie. It has a certain appeal, though, I don't deny it. There are times when I wonder if I would have made a good Communist. Just because "it ain't me" doesnt mean it couldnt have been me or you. Just saying.

People with grotesque incomes do get my goat. Maybe most of us feel the same way, after all we do have redistribution of income. But for me, it is when it is somebody who just has a job like the rest of us. I won't include highly paid sports figures and such, seeing as how they negotiate it fairly. But overpaid CEOs in particular send me to the moon. They really just have a job like the rest of us but can make hundreds of millions of dollars.

Getting back to the video, I think one reason we are all shocked is the way Class is being presented today. In most cases, it seems, it benefits whomever for the public to think they are higher in social status than they are. Everybody seems to think they are middle class, I have been going on about this for a long time. One reason for my problem is that the first time I ever saw facts and figures on the matter, it showed the upper class/middle class/lower class distinctions as a pyramid. Where did I see that? Might have been in the old encyclopedias of my younger years. The upper class was at the tip top only and the lower class was monumentally the greatest number of people down in the fat part of the pyramid. This is wealth distribution pretty much as shown in the video. I wouldn't want to get into who is middle class and who isn't, but I will say that for the vast majority with this opinion a case can be made they are perhaps in the upper lower class.

Looking in to this, the confusion seems to come when classes are divided not into a pyramid but a cylinder. The various classes are all huge because it is an arbitrary distribution of numbers of people. The maker of this video does the same thing. When he shows midway how America is the lower class, the middle class, the rich, and the wealthy - his terms and divisions -  they are not even all equal numbers of people! The middle class is shown as the group with the greatest numbers. And why wouldnt he? We all think we are middle class. 

Fact is, it may be new that it is getting worse in this country, but [as he admits] it has always been this way.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Wild Wild East

That meteor that exploded over somewhere in Russia was caught by a "dash-cam". I'm sure everyone saw it.

Check out below a good article about driving in Russia.  Braver types can check out the videos the article links to, they are really good.

Russia and Dash Cams