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Mood Tonight

Gorecki Symphony 3, Mvt. 2 --


A friend and I went out this past weekend to walk around the river. It was fun hanging out with him, and as a bonus I asked if we could scout out some of the trails for pawpaws. Luckily, we found a couple of ripe ones (and a bit over-ripe) lying on the ground. He had never had one, so I gave him one to take home with the instruction to eat it that day because of how ripe it was. I kept the other one.

Ever since I first realized last year that pawpaws grow wild and that I could eat them, I have had an itch to eat them again when they come in season. Here is this year's crop!

Pawpaw Flavor Notes

The friend commented that he thought they tasted somewhat like banana. I also could taste the banana, but for me there was some other fruity taste as well -- again just like last year, I'll say 'papaya' for lack of a better word for the flavor that was underlying the 'banana'.

Later that day, another friend was over and when he tasted it, he commented that it left a bitter after-taste. Which is totally true! It is something I had not noticed before, but I definitely noticed the bitterness after he mentioned it.

My plan is to head back to the river this weekend if I get a chance and see if I can snag a few more.

Circle of Life

On the same trip, I found a LARGE spider. I think it was a Black and Yellow Garden Spider -- an Argiope aurantia -- feasting on a Snowberry Clearwing hummingbird moth (Hemaris diffinis). It was sort of sad to see the dead hummingbird moth!

Cloudless Sulphur

That same weekend, I found myself chasing a yellow butterfly around the yard because I could not ID it. It was very skittish. And very fast flying, fluttering around wildly. It did NOT like it when I got within, say, 10 feet of him! This made it hard to photograph! I believe it was a Cloudless Sulphur.

Here he is DEEP inside a morning glory out back in the alley:

Porcelain Vine & Neighbor Notes

Below is a photo of of a honey bee approaching a wasp from behind. The bees, wasps and some sort of fly were everywhere on the out-of-control porcelain vine back there, and I'm not sure why because there are no blooms from that plant now -- just the fruit.

The vine is quite the invasive, but this one is not on my property; instead it is growing on a neighbor's fence. Because it's not on my property, I can't just go out there and start whacking away at it.

Come to think of it, that neighbor has let his backyard go to weed the last couple years. Actually, I have a couple of neighbors doing that. Although I like the 'wild' look, the other neighbors have taken it to a new level, with thigh high grass for one of them, and this porcelain vine everywhere for the other.

The neighbor with the tall grass is older, so that doesn't surprise me. But the neighbor with the porcelain vine was someone that I used to see outside tending his garden all the time. But not lately. He's not old, so I'm not sure what has happened.

"Bedroom Books"

I tend to have a collection of books that more or less is permanently lying around the house. I saw the pile in the bedroom as I was cleaning a couple of days ago and wondered why I don't put them onto the bookshevles.

This one I think adds to the ambiance of the room

This one also adds to the ambiance of the room and was also one of the 1st Buddhist texts I read thoroughly. I still pick it up now and again to read some of the texts.

New book in the pile. I think this one will get read pretty quickly and then put away.

Portuguese version of the Lord of the Rings. I have read the LOTR many,many times in English, once in French, and now I'd like to read it (at least this 1st book) in Portuguese. Because I know the story so well, it helps me puzzle out vocabulary that I might not know.

A book that I found to be good -- just haven't finished it yet!

When I was in French class in undergrad, I never finished the play, and I am bound and determined to read this through at least once before I die, lol! Other than vocab issues, it should pass pretty fast because it's a play and there's lots of white space on the pages!

Which brings us to this one. I feel defeated putting this up without reading it. I got 1/2 through, and now I'd probably have to start over to remember the story. Very dense English. Lots of words on every page. Old-timey sort of sentence construction. Hard to read.


Crabtree Falls

All the years I lived in the state, and I had never visited Crabtree Falls. I headed there yesterday, not remembering that we are in a mini-drought!

The flow was much reduced from what I imagine it usually is!

Why yes, yes I did...

I typically update my phone every couple of years -- it's a little treat that I give myself, and this one also coincides with a new gig.

I chose a silver iPhone this time -- I've had several black ones and a gold one, and since I don't see too many silver iPhones in the wild, I decided to get it.

The iPhone7 is generally similar to the last ones -- one thing that surprised me is that the home button does not move. It's a pressure button, not a click button! At first I thought -- "is the button stuck?"

Box top off --

And the silver --

In the box -- phone, charging accessories, lightning earphones and a dongle in case you need to plug in a 3.5mm earphone jack. You can see the dongles in the 2nd picture.

Welcome to the iPhone after I had finished set up --

This was my first phone that was already in Portuguese. The last time I set one up, it was in English, and then I switched to Portuguese.

Me repeating "Hey Siri", so that Siri can learn my speech I guess. In this case, I'm saying "Hey Siri, its me (I am me)."

This is where you get to choose how hard you have to press down on the home button ("Choose your click"). It starts at #2, and I reduced to #1. I'll change this if the #1 light touch doesn't work for me.

I have never had haptic touch before - that was new in the 6S. So I'm learning to use it -- basically, it serves as a right click.

In this first graphic, I did a hard press and hold on the Flickr icon, and it gives me choices to 'Share Flickr', 'Search', 'Notifications', 'Feed', and 'Send Photo'.

Hard press and hold on Weather app --

It feels decent in my hand. And it was pretty quick to set up.

And the silver is easy on my eyes. I notice the white on the front of the phone looks darker (i.e. more silver) than on my gold phone.

I'll have something to play with over the next few days!



The iOS10 upgrade went off without a hitch. I'm still getting used to it, but here are a couple of first notes. It feels a bit snappier running on my iPhone6.

There are a few things I don't like about it -- especially the double press I end up having to do to get into the phone. I understand that the 1st press is 'turning on' the lock screen, so to speak, so that you can do stuff with it...and the 2nd press is getting into the phone (still not sure which 'press' actually reads my fingerprint...), but it's different and not very easy to get used to.

I wish the camera icon were still on the lock screen. The new functionality is to swipe left to get the camera -- I preferred the icon on screen.

Messages has added functionality, although I don't know that I will use most of it -- balloons, fireworks, writing, etc. -- not my shtick, but others may find it useful. I do like being able to edit/annotate a picture before sending.

I really liked the little wizard that the alarm clock ran me through to determine when I should go to sleep for when I get up. What time do you want to get up, how many hours do you want to sleep, when do you want to be reminded to go to bed, etc.

And then, it does actually tell me the time to go to bed!

Maps looks better - I like how big the words are at the top -- much easier on these older eyes!

Many things are sort of cosmetic --

I was sort of hoping that 'Hey Siri' would be available when the phone is unplugged. I think I would use this feature more if it worked when the phone was unplugged. I assume it's a battery drainer, but it limits it's usefulness when only available plugged in. (Mine is in Portuguese, of course) --

Only Room for One at a Time?

So, I'm starting to fear that I have only one slot in my brain for a foreign language at any point in time, meaning that as I learn more Portuguese, I seem to be forgetting French!

Just yesterday, I wanted to say 'He has' in French...and the only thing that came to me was the Portuguese Ele tem! I sat there and concentrated a minute on how to say it, but only the Portuguese would come.

I'm assuming the French is still there, hanging out, and this situation is only due to Portuguese getting more practice, but it really was disconcerting to me to not be able to immediately say something simple like 'Il a'!

Speaking of simple, I seem to be reading more trashy pop stuff lately...but in Portuguese. I'm not really a pop culture guy, but the vocabulary is pretty simple on this site, so I do spend some time reading "Paper Pop" -- http://www.papelpop.com/. The site even has a navigation menu item in the upper right corner called 'Trash' lol!



Hung out with friend Friday night -- charity wine reception, some art galleries, dinner...I sometimes take photos of artwork that catches my attention. This was at one of the galleries, and I think the blue earrings were what drew me to the portrait --

A friend and his boyfriend are starting their own business, so I have been taking pictures of some of the items they will sell. It's a bit tedious taking "product" photos, but hopefully I'm plugging away at it, so that they can have photos for their online sales site.

I think this was a Skipper in the yard today --

When I saw these at Belle Isle the other day, I knew it meant Summer is ending. Actually, now that I think about it, it seems a bit early for the birds to be heading south. It's still plenty warm here.

A cityscape from that Belle Isle visit -

And some pics from walking around Manchester a couple weeks ago. This first one I call my "Zombie Apocalypse" white balance :)

These figurines sit on top of a cube at my current gig (ending this week) --

Snowberry Clearwings Mating

I hung out up front last night, hoping to catch "the" hummingbird moth (Snowberry Clearwing) to get a pic. There probably are several that visit my yard, but in my mind's voice, I always say the 'the'.

And last night instead of one, there were two! And they were in the middle of mating! I guess I never really thought about this behavior...

Snowberry Clearwings are pretty skittish. They don't like it when you get within about 10 feet of them. As I'm following them around the garden, playing Peeping Tom, they keep flying away. I tried to get a picture in flight -- none of them came out well -- this one was the best of the lot:

I was glad to see this.


I have been AWOL lately -- just hanging out, doing stuff. Really not much to report.

  • I gave my notice at the current gig.

  • I organized a picnic for Labor Day with the family. Timelapse here.

  • Had a 'whiskey night' with a friend

Just living, i guess.

The stone is rolling again!

I just accepted a new gig...leaving the current one shortly. Better pay, better benefits. At a place I already worked once. I have made a career of changing jobs! It suits me -- Monsieur Dragonfly, after all ;)


Grab Bag


Spending some time with friends lately --


Watched this REALLY BAAAD B-movie today called Journey to the Seventh Planet...It's about a visit to Uranus...they pronounced it Ur-AH-nis...and they never missed an opportunity to use the words probe, pulsate, penetrate...as a matter of fact, there was one little section of dialog where I think I counted FOUR uses of 'pulsate'...what? Kinda funny, and really bad, lol!


Butterflies and a moth out front this morning --

Walking Around

I desperately needed exercise today...having been a bum both yesterday and today...so I headed to the Flood Wall to walk.


Learned some serious Portuguese this weekend...how to say that I was in an embarrassing situation -- Eu paguei um mico! -- "I paid a monkey!"

Other pics from the last few weeks


Got some (positive) situation changes coming...more in a few days.

O Bebê dos Amigos Está Chegando!

My Brazilian friend and his wife are having a baby SOON! So I bought a couple of little gifts -- diapers and a Portuguese-English book. The book is cheaply made, but I like the story and the illustrations.

It is called 'The Giraffe That Ate the Moon' -- 'A Girafa Que Comeu a Lua' --

Butterfly Connection

This morning as I was taking out the recycling, I noticed an unidentified vine on the back hedges. At first glance, the heart shape and delicate leaves sort of looked like a Morning Glory to me. I'm cool with Morning Glories, but this one had an odd bloom. And then I noticed these odd PODS -- definitely NOT a Morning Glory.

At first, I feared some sort of Porcelain Vine, which is growing like wildfire at one of my neighbors fences. I'm not a fan! But this vine actually seems to be a climbing Milkweed -- a honeyvine milkweed -- food for Monarch caterpillars and some caterpillars. It's a native...pretty definitely a weed which just happened to start growing around my place. Because of the Monarch connection, I think I will welcome this one -- a weed is just a prolific plant that you don't like, right?


Hummingbird Moth, Ants, Rain, etc.

I saw a Hummingbird Moth once before out front.

I saw one again tonight. Last time, my main camera was in shop. This time? The batteries were dead on the camera... The pictures below were taken by a Lumix point and shoot that I keep around. Not the best pics, but maybe pretty good considering that it is a point and shoot several years old!

I'm kinda fascinated by these bugs!

I went to the Texas Beach trail at the river today...and an unexpected rainstorm showed up! I saw the cloud and felt the cold wind, so I was already high-tailing it back up the trail towards the car. But too late! Lots and lots of rain! I got drenched!

Before the rain, I did take a few pics of ants on a Rose of Sharon --

The weekend was okay -- I found it relaxing, attended a birthday party for a neighbor and had wine with a friend. But my social calendar has been kinda empty lately, and I can't decide if that is good or not. I like spending time alone, but I feel like I'm not seeing friends as much as I used to.

Vão-se os anéis, ficam-se os dedos

Most days, my Brazilian friend and I trade some sort of communication - and it is always practice for both of us. Yesterday, I gave him some slang words for money (like "Benjamins" and "Grand", and some example sentences).

He gave me some sayings, like a Portuguese saying Vão-se os anéis, ficam-se os dedos, which he said was related to a crisis from which you had to start completely over. The saying is "The rings go, the fingers stay." -- meaning, you can lose everything, but at least you still have your fingers to re-build or to claw you way back.

The Brazilians seem to have some of the grim fatalism that I grew up with -- my family being rural, descendants of the depression.

On a different note, remember how I learned Portuguese that sounded to my ears like 'to go peepee' -- which is something we only say to or about kids?

Well, it turns out that fazer xixi ("to pee") can be said about anyone! And its corresponding fazer coco ("to go potty") -- see, I'm still using children's words because we Americans don't like to say vulgar words for some reason! Coco, pronounced one way means "coconut", but coco, pronounced differently, means "poop".

My friend did laugh when I explained that we ask kids if they need to go "number 1" or "number 2" lol!

I got outside in the yard to take some pictures of Goldfinches and Orchard spiders. This is Charlotte IV -- the 4th Leucauge venusta that I have photographed:

I'm afraid I disturbed the Goldfinches breakfast this morning!

They were more comfortable with me -- and people on the street -- only flying a little bit away, then back. So the last time someone on the street came by, I thought I would move in closer with the camera. Well, I heard them chirping away but not returning. Then, I see them sitting on the neighbors house and electric line, waiting for to leave! Finally, they all flew away -- to the back yard to eat Coneflower seeds there instead.

Here is a sort of series, showing 1 Goldfinch sitting, wondering if I would ever leave, and the finally flying away!

Halloween Preview

I've been getting some Halloween decorations together into the living room --

My plan is for the "witchy ghosts" to be out front again, but I want a few more 'witchy ghosts' to be walking up from the side of the house to join the coven, so to speak. And I figured I'd throw in some crows for good measure, as familiars.

Along the same lines, I was outside the other night trying to take photographs of the bats that come out at twilight. A few things:
  1. Twilight = low light, and even with the ISO set at 12800, there still wasn't much detail available with a f/5.6 lens.
  2. Silhouette photos really don't have much detail anyway - shadowed in front with backlight behind.
  3. Bats move fast and irregularly, so it was difficult to follow them with my camera lens!
  4. I like the photos because they show the silhouettes, even though I had hoped for more detail I was struck by how similar the silhouettes are to Halloween decorations -- sometimes, I think that decorations are not realistic, but the shape of bat wings really is like this!


Apple and Google Maps

When Apple Maps first came out, I gave it a solid thumbs down, omg! But the product has improved over time, and doesn't send me on wild goose chases like it used to. I still think Google Maps is superior, but Apple Maps is satisfactory.

Since Apple Maps is the default on the iPhone, I almost always use it. Even though, there are probably MILLIONS of comparisons, I decided to do another little comparison this past weekend, just for kicks. The table below is a just some observations -- nothing 'scientific'; just me using the apps.

Remember that I use my devices in Portuguese...
Item Apple Maps Google Maps Thoughts
Vocabulary Different vocabulary. Different vocabulary. Neither a good nor a bad for either. Interesting. Interesting that Apple says
"I64", and Google says "Interstate 64" -- just a difference, although "Interstate" was easier (but longer!) for my non-native ear to hear than "I".
Detailed instructions Told me to turn right (Vire á direita). Google told me to use the right 2 lanes (something like...Usa as doas faixas á direita). Great detailed info from Google, but I don't think it mattered much to me to know about in that particular situation.
Display of directions text Showed me pretty much all the text the voice had said. Told me what turn was coming up, but didn't show me all the text. This one is important to me. Because Portuguese is not my native language, I sometimes don't 'get' all of it. So on Apple, I can quickly glance at the screen and see what she said. On Google, not as much.
Nearby Restaurants, etc. Poor. Good. This one is also important to me. Google shines here. It is just better at telling me what is nearby. I once asked Apple for the nearest ABC Store (liquor store -- don't judge me!), and she gave me some weird thing 50 miles away!
Needs Phone Connection If you got it, you got it, and itineraries. Can save ahead of time. This one is also important to me. I know on Apple Maps that as long as I start the trip when I have connection, I'm golden. I could lose connection for hours, and as long as I'm on the course, I'll keep getting good instructions. Also, I can send myself itineraries, and I'll have those on the phone as well (I think). On Google, I "believe" it will disappear when you don't have connection. But you can download maps ahead of time. I could be wrong in these details, but this is how they appear to work for me.
Voice Like better. Like less. Unimportant detail, but I like the "sound" of the Brazilian voice on Apple Maps a bit better. But I think Google Maps pronounces English street names in a more understandable way. By the way, I like the English Apple voice better too. Totally personal preference and unimportant -- you get used to whichever.
User Interface *a (1 of 2).jpg
*a (1 of 2).jpg
Google a bit easier on old age eyes -- bigger fonts!

Verdict -- none. I didn't intend to pick between them! I'll keep using Apple because it's easier and not bad. And there are a couple of everyday usage items (like showing me the text) that will keep me using it.


Celtic Knot

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September 2016


In order to be effective truth must penetrate like an arrow — and that is likely to hurt.

-Wei Wu Wei

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