Snow Panic (morning writing, weather, bird notes)

My sister's brood is out of school today and likely tomorrow. The snow days haven't been needed till now. They've been out on "teacher work days" a couple of times to the consternation of my sister: that's what happens to the unused snow days. So i can see the county folks saying, well, no harm in using two up for this "snow event."

I'm happy it will get cold. I do wonder if i'll find the roads safe to go to my folks in the morning: it seems unwise to risk slick roads if i don't have to.

Meanwhile a flock of cardinals flitted through the back yard at lunch. How lovely, i thought, until i realized they were eating fescue, clover, and oat seeds. Carrie barked and growled: she wanted out at them, but despite an atavistic desire flaring, i kept her in. Something spooked the birds and they all flew east, and some seemed surprised by the fence. Most perched and went through or went over, but one hen cardinal seemed confused by the over hang and flew back and forth along the fence for a few moments before realizing how to go over. On one hand, it called to mind the epithet "bird brained." On the other, i felt some regret putting a challenge in her way.

The birdfeeder i see from my work window mainly has CACH and TUTI - Carolina Chickadees and Tufted Titmice. My larger feeder is sidelined: i need to drill better drainage holes. Despite being larger, the squirrel cage denies all but very small birds. The other feeder is a wire mesh tube with a little roof and tray. The red bellied woodpecker looks comical hanging on the edge, their body underneath the feeder, tail out beyond it, their head and beak almost the length of a chickadee, as they work to get at the chipped sunflower seed.


Tree name pondering (random, botanical escape)

Guessing at whether trees were native to Northern Europe by how many syllables are in the English word

* ash: Old English æsce, aexe, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch as and German Asche.
* beech: Old English bēce, of Germanic origin; related to Latin fagus ‘beech’, Greek phagos ‘edible oak’.
* birch: Old English bierce, birce, of Germanic origin; related to German Birke.
* elm: Old English, of Germanic origin; related to German dialect Ilm, and Swedish and Norwegian alm.
* oak: Old English āc, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch eik and German Eiche.
* pine: Old English, from Latin pinus, reinforced in Middle English by Old French pin.
* yew: Old English īw, ēow, of Germanic origin.

Nordic but not Anglo-Saxon trees

* fir: late Middle English: probably from Old Norse fyri- (recorded in fyriskógr ‘fir wood’).

The two syllable tree names that appear to have Anglo-saxon word roots are under-story trees

* apple: Old English æppel, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch appel and German Apfel. Probably originally for Malus sylvestris and then reappropriated with central Asian apples made their way to England.
* elder: Old English ellærn; related to Middle Low German ellern, elderne. Probably Sambucus racemosa
* hazel: Old English hæsel, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch hazelaar ‘hazel tree’, hazelnoot ‘hazelnut’, and German Hasel, from an Indo-European root shared by Latin corylus.

One syllable tress not native to northern Europe

* fig: Middle English: from Old French figue, from Provençal fig(u)a, based on Latin ficus.
* plane: late Middle English: from Old French, from Latin platanus, from Greek platanos, from platus ‘broad’. Looks like prior to 1492, just the Platanus orientalis would have been known to English speakers.

Two syllable trees not native to northern Europe

* cedar: Old English, from Old French cedre or Latin cedrus, from Greek kedros.
* cherry: Middle English: from Old Northern French cherise, from medieval Latin ceresia, based on Greek kerasos ‘cherry tree, cherry’.
* chestnut: early 16th century: from Old English chesten (from Old French chastaine, via Latin from Greek kastanea) + nut.
* cypress: Middle English: from Old French cipres, from late Latin cypressus, from Greek kuparissos.

I find i am most curious about two syllable maple: it doesn't appear likely that there were many significant native maples to Northern Europe

* maple: Old English mapel (as the first element of mapeltrēow, mapulder ‘maple tree’); used as an independent word from Middle English.

"The type species of the genus is the sycamore maple, Acer pseudoplatanus, the most common maple species in Europe." (More on this as i grouse about the word "sycamore") Not native to norther Europe but "native to Central Europe and Western Asia, from France eastwards to Ukraine, northern Turkey and the Caucasus and southwards in the mountains of northern Spain and Italy."

The tree name i find most annoying is sycamore. I grew up with the sweet gum, Liquidambar styraciflua, being called sycamore. When i moved to Philadelphia i became aware the American plane tree was called sycamore more commonly. (It is a tree much less prevalent in young southern American woods). Then i found in England sycamore belonged to a maple tree. And in the bible it refers to a fig. So in MY list of trees, sycamore is a useless term and just means that the leaves might be lobed. Ugh. "The name derives from the ancient Greek συκόμορος (sūkomoros) meaning "fig-mulberry"." At least figs and mulberries are in the same plant family, although not that close.


Betelgeuse Betelgeuse Betelgeuse

Astronomers are excited and curious about Betelgeuse, a red giant star that is dimming rapidly and *might* go supernova.

"At only 600-or-so light years distant, Betelgeuse will be far closer than any supernova ever recorded by humanity. It's fortunately still far away enough that it poses no danger to us." But it would be the closest star to go supernova in human history and will thus be a dramatic sight to see. "Some models "only" have Betelgeuse getting as bright as a thick crescent moon, while others will see it rival the entire full moon. It will conceivably be the brightest object in the night sky for more than a year until it finally fades away to a dimmer state."

Quotations from this 2017 article:

I remember the energy in the physics department for Supernova 1987A: i can't imagine the energy and anticipation regarding Betelgeuse.


Miasma continues (cooking, cats, mom and caa, health)

Excellent thing: i made an onion mushroom quiche last night, letting the onions slowly cook in my big cast iron deep sided pan for almost all the time the crust pre-cooked. THey weren't fully caramelized but they were nicely transformed.

We now know it is Marlowe who is responsible for the puddles on the bed. Last night, as we went to bed late and my knee was making it hard to settle, i was able to observe some feline dynamics and the result. Collapse )

Tuesday night we picked up a prepared "family-style" meal at a local restaurant and took it to my parents for a visit. It was good to see them, athough Mom is still rattled from the traffic in Florida from their Yuletide and first of February (birthday) trips. Too little stimulation day to day, i assume, leads to the traffic seeming overwhelming. I'll juon my sister and her kids there tonight for a Valentine's visit.

I may have over done it on Wednesday, walking Carrie and then walking through the grocery store. Seems like that should have been fine. But my knee was inflamed yesterday evening. Fie. I'm not yet regular with my exercises (which aren't specifically for the knee), but i'm not giving up.

I think the news of US politics and the coronavirus have become a monotonous relentlessness, that has deadened my curiosity. Christine and I had some discussions of how to determine the slope of persecution of the Other. While the immigrant and refugee situation is abhorrent, the travel bans just noxious, it is literally as well as figuratively at the border of "normal" government behavior. Abstractly, border enforcement is "normal" and the putative targets are "normal." It's definitely pushing the line, as are the various reproductive health regulations. The potential for horrors is clear; i don't think we are at a point where i need to fear. But that's all distressing to think about. And the energy to fight....

The political question of the moment seems to be whether Atty General Barr's protests about presidential interference are an authentic reaction or political theater to cover the interference. I perceive theater and am tired.

I have been intensely engaged at work, a sort of pleasure, in learning new data analysis skills. A colleague kindly wrote a bit of code for me to use an API, getting me over a barrier that would have been a time sink. The project that was daunting me all last year has been approved for the next step, and i am terrified.

Christine is continuing to work on her first audio-essay, recording and editing. Her standards are high, with the expectation of production values equal to This American Life. Which she will no doubt achieve. She had a mild panic when the Alexa skill for the serial audio essays (not a podcast!) seemed to imply that there was something rated "R" about the content: i talked her down to recognizing it was more a disavowal, an indication that Amazon was not certifying that there would be nothing offensive of problematic, not that there was an expectation. In fact, there may be audio ads, so that much of the advisory is correct.

Anyhow, i have postponed my day, tired from the late night, and must get on to work. Never seems like enough energy and time.


(work, data mining experiment, cats, dawg, depression)

News: i bailed on the preserved egg. Will try again sometime.

I'm not feeling great, a miasma that is emotional, physical, and cognitive. I will try and write about good things.

Marlowe is adorable: kitten paws under the bathroom door delight me. I let her romp in her glowing pink collar under the full moon last night. I watched the collar dash and hunt. She throws herself down on the floor, stretches and rolls over on her back, offering her tum for a belly rub. She's a morsel, a puddin', a munchkin, and trouble with a capital T.

I finally picked up shoes from the repair shop. These sandals had a strap almost chewed through by Carrie in her puppy phase, towards the end. Other than that damage, though, the rather expensive shoes i picked up in California in spring of 2018 were in good shape. I don't know that i'd worn them more than a few months. I also returned the thunderbolt cables. I think, together, that pair of errands recovered the value of a couple hundred dollars (the shoes plus the return). I also laughed and laughed at "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me:" so good to laugh.

I'm trying to decide if i should go back this spring for the identity conference. The negatives are travel and that much of the conference is about blockchain and self-sovereign identity: not directly relevant. I'd get to see California friends, though. But travel. It just makes the miasma feel heavier.

I did use Jupyter notebooks -- a nifty way to use python programming to do data analysis without getting mired down in scripting overhead -- to make some maps of where people in Meeting live. I knew we were scattered, but it was useful to see. I also drafted an agenda for meeting for business for next week. There's some dysfunction with buildings and grounds i am inheriting. Since the old clerk was wife of the treasurer, sister in law to the nominal head of buildings and grounds, and daughter in law to the Very Senior Friend who was all in the middle of talking to contractors ... well, that put her in an awkward place i am not in.

And at work yesterday i also made progress with Jupyter notebooks, merging monthly summary files. Overnight, the big monthly analysis files ran.


random, 354, cats

I'm out of sorts.
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Hours later....

Just signed up for a personal account at Equifax to temporarily unfreeze my credit report. The email i received says, "Welcome to myEquifax?" with the question mark. Well, if you're uncertain i'm welcome....

Carrie is adorable as she applies her limpid, deep brown eyes to communicating that she would appreciate the crust of the cold pizza i am eating. Please? Marlowe dragged the empty plastic wrapper of the pack of toilet paper out from under the door (where i had put it in reach of her questing toes) and proceeded to kill it. She is now dashing around like a mad thing, crashing to the top of the cat tree and threatening to ambush me. I've tea made and took the last of the pizza and some bean dip out from the fridge if the power goes again. The rain tank is full. We are safe and dry.


Really, Chatham County? Really?

I am sad that the #3 "Frequently asked question" about voting in Chatham county is "I suspect that somone [sic] registered to vote does not qualify. Where do I verify this? " It;s only much further down that i found out about how my mother can vote.

And yesterday's county mailing list calls on the county to become a 2nd Amendment Sanctuary County. Collapse )


Salt cured egg: cooking

So i've been letting an egg yolk sit in salt and sugar to cure it. (Consider But for some reason i thought some people didn't put it in the fridge. So i just left it on the counter to cure. This morning i looked at seven or more recipes and EVERYONE lets the salt cure happen in the fridge.

The egg's been sitting in the salt and sugar for two weeks, and it looks like the expected output. Nothing looks or smells off. Surely this was done BEFORE refrigeration. I don't see why i shouldn't continue. And, i might anyway, but i thought i'd get a sense of general opinion.....


Silver lining to the lack of snow clouds (weather)

An explanation of this incredibly mild past January also notes that the north pole has been frigid and
One bright spot in the relentless far-north chill: it’s given sea ice a chance to make at least a minor recovery, although the long-term outlook for Arctic sea ice in a warming world remains grim. The Arctic’s sea ice extent as of Sunday was well above the average for the date in the 2010s, but well below the average from the 2000s and prior decades.

and they quote this tweet:
Bering Sea #seaice extent from @NSIDC is slowly increasing, but remains below the long term average & last year. But extent isn't everything. Sustained cold weather near the Alaska coast since mid-Dec helping to thicken and stabilize nearshore ice. #akwx #Arctic @Climatologist49
— Rick Thoman (@AlaskaWx) January 26, 2020


I'm alive: data mining experiment, morning writing, garden, elephant, watching notes, cats, pe

Nephew work day was sweet and very productive. Christine was in good spirits so she lopped down some massive autumn olive and we chipped enough to mulch the north fence line of the orchard. W and i planted three trees, including the linden for my Swedish garden. When we went back to R--'s Rock (found by my Dad and brother before i'd even been to the property) to plant the linden, we saw a beech to the NE of the rock. I am delighted that there is one natively in the woods. Not surprised, exactly, but wondering where the mature beech tree is or was. This one ... i don't know how old it is but it's a good bit further along than the yearling tree i planted this year or the one planted last year.

Bad me did not call Grandmámá. Still on to do list.

Sunday C brought me breakfast in bed. Meeting went well. Achy all day. Christine's sister wants to watch all Oscar nominees so she and C watched Joker (which C thinks is brilliant and i don't think i will watch). D was blown away by it. The day was sparkling, and i tried sitting in the porch, but the breeze was a bit much.

Yesterday woke to cat piss on bed. Both C and i tired, exhausted, no spoons, moody.

We're watching the Nova planets episodes from season 36 in reverse order and watched Mars last night. Beautiful presentation, enthusiastic and diverse scientists, but much personification of everything. The language to describe how Mars' oceans evaporated - "stripped away" being the least loaded phrasing - surely it engages nonscientific viewers by creating emotional drama, but it irks me that the drama is told as if Mars was some poor victim (and Earth held up as the fortunate one). One CAN come up with emotional stories told from a satisfied Mars point of view.

It may be harder to emotionally see Different as something Satisfying for the party that is different -- but let's practice that for crying out loud.

I am thinking about data analysis using the nifty Jupyter Notebooks. Have done a tutorial and tiny work experiment. Tempted to do sentiment analysis on the corporate president's monthly emails. Thinking about data practices for my day to day life that would lead to interesting analysis. Have fired up IFTTT and Airtable to gather some digital footprint records. I imagine parsing exported journal entries and some of my health records, my rain measurements and temperature gauges. Smart power meter -- which surely saw some leap in use Thursday and yesterday as we washed and dried so much bedding.

Crazy warm weather has me frustrated i am behind in yard work and seed prep. Please let there be a little winter this month.