Wednesday, September 22, 2021

My Favorite Season Arrives Once Again

The fall equinox has arrived and Autumn has arrived once again.  Cool air.  Colorful leaves. Shortening days.  The Harvest moon (a few days early).  What's not to love.

A few days ago the sun gave us a preview of some of the colors coming soon.

The reds, oranges, and yellows of the approaching fall.

Happy Autumnal Equinox Everybody!!!

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Book: Martha Wells' "All Systems Red"

The first book of 2021 - I am, admittingly, having a very late start to the reading year - is the first book of the Murderbot Diaries series.  This novella,  only one hundred-sixty pages, is Martha Wells' "All Systems Red".

A lot of people I know recommended these books to me and I can understand why.  The writing is good and the protagonist, a defective security robot, is interesting and has an interesting personality.

The story follows the bot who is providing security to a planetary survey team.  Competition between teams results in violence.  The rogue nature of the bot helps you explore motivations, free will, and the idea of being human.

The first four books of this series are novellas with the fifth book being a full length novel.  I can't wait to dig deeper into the psych of a rogue murderbot.

I gave this book five stars out of five on Goodreads mostly because of its potential going forward.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Things Come, Things Go, And There Is Always Room For More

Nearly thirteen years ago I took my first hike at Hitchcock Nature Center.  It was one of the first hikes I did after moving to Nebraska. During that hike I stopped to admire an American Elm Tree in a clearing on the Wildwood trail.

An American Elm and its companion in a clearing on the Wildwood trail.

I remember thinking, as I admired the tree and the filtered sunlit clearing surround it, how peaceful it felt.  The tree stood there rather regally like it was the center of the forest.

This last week I went back to Hitchcock.  I came upon the Elm tree.  It was a sad sight. Time and nature had not been kind to the once majestic tree and his companion.  Not sure if this is the result of Dutch Elm Disease or something else.  Either way, it was not kind to this poor tree.  The amount of undergrowth that now fills the clearing contributes to the shabbiness and decay that is felt there now.  So sad but the world moves on.  Things die and others are born to take their place.

Time has not been kind.

The return to Hitchcock was the first hike in nature since I left the Appalachian Trail in September 2019.  All my other hikes and walks since my return had been city walks on concrete and asphalt, the only nature being the groomed lawns and parks of Omaha.  It felt good to be back out amongst the trees and feeling the packed dirt under my feet.  I didn't realize how much I missed this.  I thought six months on the Appalachian Trail had given me my fill of nature but this week I learned that there is always room for more.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Twenty Long Years

When I considered what I was going to write about the anniversary of 9-11, I thought I would look at the other 9-11 posts I'd written throughout the years.  I was kind of surprised that I hadn't written about it every year.  It seems the Obama years had put me in a state of delusion.  I thought things would be okay and I was distracted by my 2011 Camino and Route 66 vacation (The best summer of my life so far), our China vacation in 2012 distracted me some more.  I was on the Camino for a second time during September in 2013. I thought all was going to be ok so I kind of forgot about 9-11.  Boy, was I wrong.

Here are links to the other 9-11 posts:

  • 2006 - R*E*M*E*M*B*E*R:  Only five years after 9-11 and I was already lamenting the sacrifice of liberty for security.
  • 2007 - Book: Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn's 102 Minutes:  I remembered by reviewing a book on 9-11 and thinking of the sacrifice of those who lost their lives.
  • 2015 - Remember The Fallen:  It took eight years but the disappointment began to show itself as the Obama era ended and the decline of our society began in earnest.
  • 2016 - A Line Of Fear:  It took a while but I finally realized that Osama Bin Laden had actually won.
  • 2017 - A Couple Words Regarding 9-11: What more was there to say?  So sad.
  • 2018 - Seventeen Years Ago Today …:  Despair … that is what I hear when I read this post.
  • 2020 - Another Year Of 'Winning':  Sixty-four 9-11s, and a few more since then.  From the crumbling of the towers to the potential crumbling of Democracy … 2020 was a crappy year

During the Obama years I forgot about 9-11. A lot of us did. The younger generation has no memories of the circling of the wagons that happened right after the attacks. That feeling of we are in this together faded too quickly and it was replaced with a fear stoked by political entities for their own power hungry motivations.

Look at us now. Our democracy and our liberties are fading like the memories of the falling towers. We are in the dumbest of timelines and we can't even come together to save ourselves. All I can do is bow my head in sorrow and lament all that has been lost.

Wednesday, September 08, 2021

Nearly Two Years Of Listening To The World On Delay

I've mentioned before that I like to listen to podcasts.  I listen to them mostly when I'm doing chores around the house.  I usually keep up with the new episodes but when I hiked the Appalachian Trail the episodes piled up (I don't like listening to music/podcasts when I hike in nature since I want to hear the forest around me but many hikers listened to podcasts as they hiked the trail).

When I got home I looked at my podcast list and saw I had over one hundred twenty hours worth of podcasts.  I had a choice.  I could delete the episodes and start listening with the current episodes or I could listen to the accumulated episodes and catch up to the present.  I decided to listen to them all.

I found the best time to listen for me was before I went to bed.  This was also the time when I usually read.  Reading was put on indefinite hold while I tried to catch up.  It would take more than a hundred and twenty hours since new episodes where being downloaded every week.  From October 2019 through last week I worked my way through All the episodes only taking a short break in 2020 to read the "Testaments", the only book I read in 2020.

Last week I finally caught up to the present.  It was strange reliving the nearly two years of the pandemic on a delay.  It was interesting to see the optimism early on when people figured we would beat this quickly.  Few people anticipated just how stupid of a timeline we live in.

So today I reupped my library card.  I am reading again.  I've enjoyed all the podcast episodes I've listened to and have enjoyed the experience but I have missed reading a good book.  Old friends ... I'm back ... take me away to places of wonder.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Photographs: Faces

These faces are on, of all things, a parking structure in the Benson area of Omaha:


Faces.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Chillin' ... Once Again.

Well, it was bound to happen and it isn't like we didn't see it coming.  For the past few years in the spring, either during a regular spring inspection or a loss of cold air coming out of our registers, we have had to add two pounds of coolant to our air conditioner (AC).  Last May two pounds were added like clockwork.  The technician would always say that it was a slow leak and it would cost too much to fix it.

Just over two weeks ago we lost our cold air again.  The technician added another pound of coolant.  This lasted until this week.  We lost cold air again and this time the technician has to add three pounds.  The writing was on the wall.  The small leak had become a large leak.

The same day of this diagnosis I contacted an AC dealer (a graduate of the school the Wife teaches at) and got an estimate for replacing not only our AC but also our furnace.  Both were original to the house and the serial numbers of the units said it all - 1997.  Twenty-four years is a long time for a furnace and AC.  To our surprise the installers came the next day (less than twenty-four hours after getting the estimate) and replaced both units.

Now we have a quiet and more efficient running AC, a more efficient multi-stage furnace with a better humidifier, and a WiFi enabled thermostat.  While the AC and furnace will have a bigger impact on our comfort, being able to ask my phone what the temperature is in the house and being able to set it simply by talking to my phone makes my inner-geek so happy.

We replaced our garage door in the spring.  The next thing to change are the windows ... they've been on order since February-March but, you know, COVID-19.  Hoping to have them installed in October.  Our wallet weeps ... but that is the burden of a homeowner.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Waterline

Last weekend we had storms come through and for the first time in my memory the downtown area of Omaha was subject to flash flooding.  Some of you may have heard about the flooded elevator that made the national news.  Today I walked downtown in the area that was flooding.  Clean up is continuing including at an art gallery in the area.  There was mud everywhere.  Then I saw just how deep the water had been:

The water and mud line from last weekend's storm.
I knew there was water in basements (where the elevator flooded).  I never realized the water was that deep on the streets outside.  Crazy weather we're having.

Sunday, August 08, 2021

A Visitor At Our Window

 Noticed this the other day:

A wasp holding ... something.

A different view.

Not sure what it has in it's mouth.  It was round and green.  Looked like a part of a plant but I have no idea what it is.  Maybe a larva?

Monday, August 02, 2021

The Great Getting Out Of The House Southeast USA Vacation Of 2021 - Magnet Edition

As usual the Wife and I went overboard on the travel magnets on this vacation.  Our pent up demand resulted in the acquisition of twenty-nine magnets during our travels of the Southeastern United States.  A couple of the magnets were late additions to my Appalachian Trail magnets.  I've added all the magnets to the Travel Magnets tab above.

Here are a few of my favorites:

The Biltmore Estate.

The Hunley ... the explosive booming the lower left should be on the upper left.

Love the colors of this Charleston Magnet.

A famous icon of Savannah.

The Memorial to Peace and Justice.

An Art Deco Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald museum magnet.

My favorite is the three dimensional model of the Appalachian Trail I bought in Shenandoah national park:

A three dimensional model of the Appalachian Trail.