altivo: The Clydesdale Librarian (Default)
It's all the name he had. He was part of our daily life for five years after we took him as a rescue when he was six. Red was a big guy, maybe not the brightest dog we ever had but certainly among the sweetest and quietest. He followed us faithfully from room to room as we did daily chores, learned commands readily though he sometimes had a mind of his own, and was always gentle and tolerant of our other dogs and even the cats (who sometimes slept snuggled with him or even on top of him.) He was a hundred pounds of appetite and affection, and we'll miss him for a long time. Eleven years is a long life for a big dog, and he accepted his growing infirmities placidly, struggling but never complaining. A growing failure of his spine gradually took away his mobility until at last he couldn't rise and walk without falling and hurting himself, yet he kept trying. Yesterday he gave up and we knew we had to carry him into the vet's office. There was nothing more we could do but hold him close, say a tearful good-bye as he left us, and hope to see him again, eventually, whole and young once more.

Thanks to all of you who have sent sympathetic comments. I'm overwhelmed now and can't answer every single one, but we really appreciate it. Eventually there will be another dog, but he or she won't be Red. Nor any of the other ghosts who haunt us: Sasha, Tee, Simon, Sarah, Sunny, Max, Amanda, Mikey. All of them loved, all of them sorely missed.

I caved...

Nov. 8th, 2015 05:42 pm
altivo: Running Clydesdale (running clyde)
It was my intention to attend MWFF on just a one day admission for Saturday. However, that requires a full registration at the door process. Looking at the schedule of panels and events, I see things I might like to do on Friday or Sunday, though I doubt I'll show up all three days. Still for the $20 extra to get a full membership, I can drop in any time during the weekend and get to go through the (somewhat) shorter registration line. So I went ahead and pre-registered today. Depending on weather and driving conditions, I'll probably make it for part of Friday at least, and much of Saturday.

It's getting so that actually staying at the hotel for these things is ridiculously difficult. You have to commit almost a year in advance because the reservation blocks fill up so quickly. As I've been saying for several years, furry conventions are getting too large to be practical. Scary events like the chlorine attack last year at MWFF don't help either. It seems like we should be able to find some other ways to promote gathering and socialization in more moderate sized groups. I know that the UK has "meets" that take place on a monthly basis in some regions, for instance.
altivo: From a con badge (studious)
I see that I failed to post this announcement here when I added it to my writer's guild forum.

More than a month ago, I was pleased to receive notification that my story "Harvest Home" has been accepted for publication in the anthology Fragments of Life's Heart (release anticipated early in 2016 from FurPlanet.) This story features my two favorite characters, Argos Weaver (a white wolf) and Fennec Redtail (a red fox,) about whom I have written reams but none of it has ever seen formal publication. Many excerpts appear in various spots on the web, however.

I will be sure to let everyone know when it is actually available. In the meantime, I remind you that my story "Coyote's Voice" appears in ROAR, volume 6 which was released in July of this year, also from Furplanet.

I have also been invited to appear on a panel at Midwest Fur Fest in Chicago, December 4-6. The panel is titled "Making Anthropomorphism Matter" and is set for Saturday, December 5, from 08:00 to 09:00 PM in the McCarran meeting room. Two other writers will be on the same panel: Tempe O'Kun and Sparf. I haven't attended MWFF since 2008, and look forward to the much enlarged event with a bit of trepidation.


Nov. 6th, 2015 06:14 pm
altivo: From a con badge (studious)
Two posts in one day? Yes, I'm full of words, I guess. And no, that isn't a typo in the subject line.

I am not participating in NaNoWriMo this year. I have at least six mostly finished books already that need attention and final touches.

Earlier this year, like back in February, I signed onto the "Reading Challenge." You set a quota number of books that you intend to read before the end of the year. I set my quota at 50, less than one book a week, figuring that I'd easily meet that goal. I can normally get through one title a week even when I'm working full time, and what with retirement at the midpoint of the year, I expected to have lots of time to read.

Well, it didn't work out that way. I was doing fine until June, but I accomplished very little reading during the summer, and by last month Goodreads was nagging me for being 8 or 9 books behind. I decided to devote November to catching up. There is no shortage of material, as I have a "to read" list that exceeds 200 titles. A hard push over the last two weeks just to finish books that were sitting around partly read has brought me up to even with the expected reading so far, and then past it so I am now three books ahead. I only need five more to make up the 50, and I expect to exceed that by some unknown number before the holiday madness hits.

One thing that helped was changing my own rules. I had been counting only fiction, when in fact I've been reading a fair amount of technical books and other non-fiction material. I went back and added some of those to my completed list, which raised my running total by a fair amount. I have three more partially completed books to wrap up now, which should pretty much guarantee a successful conclusion.

For the curious, my list of books read for the 2015 challenge is here. I am assuming that anyone can see the list, but if that isn't the case, let me know and I'll try to find another access point.
altivo: Wet Altivo (wet altivo)
Farrier scheduled for the horses, 8:30 AM. This part went well. Mark is punctual and efficient, and the horses seem to like him well enough. We were concerned to learn that he needs hip surgery though. (He is much younger than we are.) He was all prepared though and has enlisted help to cover for him during his recovery, which is reassuring from the horses' standpoint.

The farriery meant that we had barn chores done early and the rest of the day was "available." Gary wanted to go to the Driver Services office to have his license updated, as Illinois recently made it possible for military veterans to have a designation added to their license recognizing their service. Supposedly all that was needed was his official discharge papers and his current license. Since the office is in the same strip mall with the ALDI we generally use for most of our groceries, I planned to pick up stuff from the grocery list while he waded through the perpetual line at the vehicle/license bureau.

Our usual route to the ALDI was blocked by road repairs of some sort, with the road marked "CLOSED" but no detour marked. Fortunately this is home territory now so we know the next shortest route and made it to the grocery and Secretary of State branch office soon enough.

I was only half through the shopping list when he came into the ALDI and told me that they wouldn't accept his original discharge papers, nor the certified copy from the County Clerk that he had. He would have to go to the Office of Veteran Affairs to get a certified copy from them. That office is just 5 minutes away, in the National Guard Armory. So we finished the grocery shopping and headed over there.

He let the Garmin choose the route from one side of Woodstock to the other. Bad idea. It sent us down an unpaved gravel road, full of pot holes, and ominously marked "Private Road, No Access" to get us there. It was headed the right direction, so we went anyway. For a couple of miles it wandered between barns and several horse pastures, past many "Private" and "No Trespassing" signs. Fortunately no one came charging out with a shotgun to challenge us. The road did have a name, and was marked on maps. The very end of it arrived at the parking lot of the Armory all right, though I quickly realized that the slightly longer route I would have taken might actually have been faster because it consists of paved state and federal highways. I stayed in the car with a book while Gary went in to get his third "certified" copy of his discharge papers. About 5 minutes later he came back and said the office was closed with sign on the door saying "Back at 2 pm." It was already 1:42 so we decided to wait. Sure enough, they unlocked the door again at 2 and Gary disappeared for about 40 minutes. Two or three others who had been waiting in the parking lot went in at the same time.

It was almost 45 minutes before he returned with his new certificate. It seems they had computer issues and in fact the other people who had been waiting gave up and left. In a situation that has become all too common today, the small office was absolutely dependent on a computer, scanner, printer, and internet access in order to function. However, no one in the local staff knew anything about maintaining the software, or the equipment, or the network. They said they had been having issues for about a week. It took them six phone calls to reach someone who could help, but they did finally get it to run at least long enough to provide what Gary needed. Mind, this is a federal government agency, located on a military property where there are undoubtedly people with the necessary technical skills for support. But since veterans affairs is not a military function, the military personnel can do nothing for them. And of course, since both the US Congress and the Illinois government are locked in ridiculous budget battles between the two useless political parties that rule our lives, neither has any budget for support or maintenance anyway.

Surprisingly enough, when we got back to the Driver Services facility, it only took a few minutes for Gary to get his revised license. That and a $5 fee that was not mentioned in any of the announcements of the new service. That fee will not go to help keep anything running, since the idiot elected to the governor's office last year has impounded all state money and some over which his claim of control is dubious at best. In other words, money continues to flow into the state treasury, but none is being let out except where courts have already ordered this moron to allow payments to be made. Politicians are the most worthless people on earth, I think. Totally out of touch with reality, locked into ridiculous dogmatic positions, refusing to negotiate or compromise, and without the least concern for their real responsibilities to contituencies and the services they are sworn to support and provide.

Anyway, what was meant to be a 90 minute excursion, including time for lunch, ended up eating the entire afternoon. It was a good thing that the barn chores were already done.
altivo: From a con badge (studious)
Since I "helped" with editing for Civilized Beasts (poetry anthology due out next year,) I was asked to provide a brief biographical note in the form of a poem. Tempted by the suggestion of a limerick, but I settled on the quatrain in the style of Omar Khayyam/Edward FitzGerald.

Alas! Poor Altivo's lived long in the past.
Some people will tell you he's only half-assed.
    Dream-ridden, Shakespearean, equine is he:
Neither grey mule nor donkey but horse scholiast.
altivo: Plush horsey (plushie)
Like Jack's beanstalk in some cases (beans, cucumbers) and like a snail in others (peppers, tomatoes.) I think the potatoes are about done, but I need to dig down to make sure.

Here is yesterday's haul of cucumbers:


I do love cucumbers. However, since husband Gary dislikes them, I'm going to have a problem eating this many. I may have to make some pickles. Or feed them to the ducks if they keep producing at this rate.
altivo: The Clydesdale Librarian (Default)
Meant to post these yesterday, but stuff got in the way. Like, getting them out of my cell phone to somewhere I could post them from.

Vegetables in containers

This year's vegetable garden is smaller, squeezed in between the barn and the arena. We have not done well with a larger garden out behind the woodlot because it is so far from the house and requires us to run about 400 feet of hose to get water out there for the dry months of July and August. Also, the deer, rabbits, and woodchucks are less reticent to visit out there.

I decided to set up some containers and raised beds in the spot where a gap in the oak canopy allows sunlight for several hours on clear days. In spite of excessive rain until the end of June, it looks promising. In the photo above, from left: cucumbers and miniature sweet peppers in the red "growbox," potatoes in three blue plastic tubs, okra (not easy to see) behind the potatoes, tomatoes (back) and melons and eggplant (front,) and at the extreme right section of the raised beds, more cucumbers, Brussels sprouts, and peppers.

Vegetables 2015

This view shows to the left of the previous, or a bit farther west. These are pole beans that got a late start and are trying to make up for it now. The soil is about 8 inches of aged sheep manure from when the sheep pen was located here. It was spongy and loaded with water until late June, so the beans didn't go in until a month later than usual. If the frost holds off, I still expect a good crop. The purple pods are heavy bearers, and I'm trying a couple of other varieties. The larger leaves at the right end of the trellis are scarlet runners. Not only do those have tasty pods, but they have beautiful red blossoms. Zucchini and butternut squash are between this trellis and the other photo, and the hot frame (uncovered) in the background will get a planting with kale, kohlrabi, and lettuce for the fall. I had lettuce in it for spring but the insects were voracious and devoured it all.

Today's baking

And this bonus photo shows today's baking. I made the peach and blueberry pie using blueberries from out in the old garden. Gary made the sourdough bread with dried sour cherries and chopped pecans.

In other news, after much teeth grinding I have mostly beaten Gentoo into submission. I still haven't managed to create a custom kernel that will boot, but I figured out how to make the generic kernel from the installation CD do my bidding for now. Only the basic command line system is installed, but it's all working and I can even run backups to another drive from the console if I boot into the proper model. I figured out the boot configurations and can boot from either data partition that I created, with or without an intermediate ramdisk image. Next: get X11 installed and working. But I'm taking a break for a day or two to do other things first.


Aug. 4th, 2015 07:10 pm
altivo: Geekish ham radio pony (radio)
On the Alpha, Gentoo is only slightly less frustrating than OpenBSD. While it's clear that the system is (or can be) much more functional and usable than OpenBSD, the documentation is about equally poor.

Review/critique under cut )

Not giving up yet, because I really do want this to work. But: I've been managing UNIX and Linux systems since 1989 or so. I used Slackware, which is almost as geeky a distro as Gentoo, on my own desktop for many years. If I'm having this much trouble getting Gentoo running, there's definitely something wrong and it isn't just with me.
altivo: The Clydesdale Librarian (Default)
Well, the change is not dramatic. I can't complain that I'm busier than before, nor that I'm bored. I finally reached the point today where I was confused about the day of the week. (I changed the calendar page in the dim pre-dawn light, as always, so I didn't see it to remind me.)

Status report under cut )

So... it's beginning to look a lot like Gentoo here. After all, I have endless time on my hands, right? [not]
altivo: Blinking Altivo (altivo blink)
...of the rest of my life. Or so the saying goes. The weather is gloomy looking but hummingbirds and woodpeckers are busy outside the window. Classical guitar in my ears, I've been awake for three hours already and have not had any coffee. The horses are becoming restive and must be fed soon, but someone else will have to do the interlibrary shipment and catalog yet another James Patterson.

It is also the 33rd anniversary of my first meeting Gary, who is still asleep in the bedroom. He never sleeps well, so I hate to awaken him. Guess I'll go feed critters and bring in eggs without disturbing him. Maybe the impending rain will hold off until after that's done. I should spend the day reconstructing and reorganizing here to clear up the clutter of books and oddments that came home as I cleared out my desk and shelves at the library. The deep gloom of the sky, however, suggests a day spent reading or perhaps sitting at the piano or organ. We shall see. At least there's no hurry...

Or is there? Another imperious whinny suggests that there is. I may no longer have a schedule, but the children do.
altivo: Geekish ham radio pony (geek)
So there are five days left in CampNano and I have about 4900 3023 words left to reach my quota. Should be easy, one would think, for someone who has completed the full Nano several times and that requires a rate of 1667 words per day for 30 days straight. I'm up to the easy part of my story, where I know what comes next and how to say it.

But. There's always one of those isn't there. It's a nice sunny day outside and I want to start garden work. Keeping myself from doing that doesn't hurry the other stuff along.

Another but. Many weeks ago I ordered the newest model of Raspberry Pi single board computer, an amazing little power pack of a machine on a single card about 6x9 cm in size. It finally arrived yesterday and of course the US Mail had flattened the package so I had to make sure it is undamaged. Fortunately, it remained unscathed and I am writing this post on it without difficulty. Unlike the original Pi, of which I also have one, this tiny machine pretty much measures up to my standards for a usable laptop or desktop computer. Other than a bit of difficulty getting my cheap wifi dongle to work (something I never did achieve with the older Pi) there have been no real glitches. The wifi does work, the printer works, web browsing and sound are fine, too.

Husband is working on a term paper for a graduate school class. All of six pages. And he's making it sound like it's just killing him to do it. Of course, it's due tomorrow apparently. Six pages? I don't remember anything that short even being called a "term paper." Those were more often 20 pages in high school and longer in college.

Meanwhile, I'm still not getting my own writing quota done.

The maple trees are finished blooming and starting to produce those little winged seeds. Oaks and wild cherry haven't started yet, but I think the willows and birches are blooming now. Daffodils are just passing their peak. And I have 44 working days left until retirement, which means I also need to do some paperwork for insurance and stuff. Can't put that off much longer.

Right now, though, I need to stop watching birds outside the window and work on this CampNano project.
altivo: The Clydesdale Librarian (Default)
Well, the tornado-spawning thunderstorms on Thursday seem to have brought spring with them. Blue scylla and white daffodils are opening. I was able to let Tess out into her pasture for the first time yesterday. She only gets about 45 minutes to start with since she has had grass founder in the past and needs to be exposed gradually, but she was excited to go out and behaved well when I made her come back in. The pasture is green now but very wet from the flood of rain earlier in the week. The farrier will approve, as her feet tend to dry out and getting them wet helps.

We have used the charcoal grill a couple of times already, but yesterday we really went in for it big with barbecue slathered chicken breasts, some brats, and fresh asparagus on the grill. Also sweet corn, not the first of the year but probably the best so far.

We had a discussion back at Easter about ketchup. Gary's family always had to have two ketchup bottles, because his dad and one brother liked Brooks and everyone else preferred Heinz. I remembered Brooks ketchup but didn't think I'd seen it anywhere for a while. We went looking and failed to find it at any of the supermarkets we normally visit. Looked for it online and found Amazon selling it for about $8 a bottle. That seemed pretty ridiculous to me. Then yesterday I stopped into Sullivan's, the second supermarket in town and one we usually skip because their prices are on the high side. Sure enough, they had Brooks ketchup for $2.19 a bottle, which isn't outrageous and is only about 25 cents higher than Heinz or Hunts.

Brought one home to surprise Gary, and he was indeed surprised. So, I did a little more research and learned that Brooks started in 1907 with canned chili beans. Ding! Though I remembered seeing the ketchup occasionally, my mom always used Brooks chili beans in her chili. The trademark is the same, and the beans are easier to find. Nearly every grocer around here has them. The ketchup came later in the company's history. According to Wikipedia, the ketchup was manufactured in Collinsville, Illinois, and marketed mostly in the midwest. They have (or had) a water tower there in the shape of a giant ketchup bottle in fact. The Brooks trademark and business has apparently been sold to Birdseye. The factory in Collinsville was shut down, and the ketchup is made in Canada now. However, it still is the same recipe or very close to it. The spicy flavor is unlike the other ketchups even though it now has the dreaded high fructose corn syrup in place of the cane sugar that was once used.

Now I have a craving for chili made with Brooks chili beans too. Also a quest for proper cheddar cheese curds to put into poutine. Anyone know where to get those around Chicago?
altivo: Clydesdale Pegasus (pegasus)
Once again I've taken too long a break from posting here. The winter has been made busy by several events, not the least of which is my planned retirement from full time library work. After June, I will be a greymuzzle pensioner, with more time for writing, music, gardening, and my pets. Of course that means helping to find and train my replacement. After twelve years in one job, there is a lot of stuff to organize and document and I've been kept very busy getting that done while keeping up with my regular responsibilities.

Meanwhile, my husband is getting near the end of his five year quest for the Ph.D. degree, which has also kept us pretty busy. Next week he will be presenting a paper at a conference, while I cover the animal care tasks he normally handles here at home.

Also some announcements on the writing front. First, I have two poems recently published. One gives a tortoise's view of history, and can be found at QuarterReads. The title is "Thoughts Chelonian." The second appears in a curated selection of furry poems at Adjective Species. The title is "Procyon Prowling" and the subject is a raccoon. I recommend the poems in that collection. They represent a wide variety of styles and formats, and an equally diverse viewpoints on furry subjects. Lunostophiles did a fine job of selecting them from the submitted works.

My story "Coyote's Voice" will appear in ROAR volume 6, to be released in July at Anthrocon if all goes according to plan. The publisher is Bad Dog Books, and the very competent editor for this issue is Mary E. Lowd, also known as Ryffnah.

I'm also currently engaged in writing the completing chapters of Oh, Ricky, the parody on Richard the Lion(heart) that some of you may remember from NanoWrimo 2011. I'm doing that in connection with this month's Camp NanoWrimo where I'm one of a dozen folks working together to prompt and encourage each other.

More as events develop. Thanks for reading.
altivo: My mare Contessa (nosy tess)
Grey dawn here, though the NWS promises temperature above freezing and a little sunlight today. For the moment, all is peaceful even if it looks a bit bleak.

Whatever you celebrate, be it Yule, Midwinter, Christmas, or just a day with family and friends or one of peace and quiet: I wish you warmth, happiness, and health in the year to come.

We had the few remaining local family here for dinner yesterday, and have exchanged gifts, cards, and messages with the more scattered siblings. Today will be a day of quiet relaxation, I hope. Time edges ever onward, and I have quite a bit more grey hair today than I did even just a year ago. Even our dog Red is more grey than rufous now.

Know that I hold you all dear in my heart, friends. Be happy and be safe, please.
altivo: Rearing Clydesdale (angry rearing)
It seems to be the same in most of the Western developed nations. Fewer voters actually exercise their right to vote, and those who do are making shallow choices driven by negative campaigns rather than candidates who tackle real issues.

The real problem, I say, is the fact that elections have been co-opted by wealth. What we have is no longer democracy, but plutocracy. It's an environment in which candidates who have huge sums of money to spend usually prevail by shouting down their opponents and beating the voters to death with strident (content-free) television advertising and clever slogans and posters that say nothing about commitment to ideals or practical solutions. In the US, the long standing controls designed to keep factions from "buying" elections with huge amounts of cash are breaking down.

The collapse of our educational systems continues as both ends of the political spectrum continue to peck away at the funding that built them and kept them going for the last century or so. Declines in literacy, driven by poor educational methods and standards and the ubiquitous pablum supplied by television and Hollywood have developed into a feedback loop that may be very difficult to break.

Unfortunately, this feedback produces a disinterested electorate that doesn't vote, or that is easily swayed by loud single issue publicity campaigns. The frightening success of xenophobic policies presented by the GOP in the US and the UKIP in the UK are good examples of this.

In my own county, voters who turn out seem to vote for the GOP without even investigating policies or candidates. It's an automatic, unthinking act. When asked, they can't really tell you why they do it, or even what the difference is between two candidates (when there actually are two... far too many are running unopposed.)

Is it any wonder that voters don't turn out when they are faced with a ballot that really offers no choices?

Illinois offered two candidates for governor, neither of whom is stellar. One inherited the office from a previous incumbent who was convicted of corruption. The other is an out of touch millionaire businessman who doesn't give a shit about working people, but has lots of money to back him. Such disheartening choices do little to energize reluctant voters.

The results are schizoid. Illinois voters backed (by about 2 to 1 margins) liberal ballot propositions (most of them non-binding) to raise the minimum wage, increase the tax rate for millionaires, strengthen protection for minorities, etc. Yet they voted into office a slate of candidates who oppose every one of those propositions, often in no uncertain terms. This doesn't suggest to me that there is much rational thought being put into how ballots are cast.
altivo: 'Tivo as an inflatable toy (inflatable toy)
Two nights in a row that dropped solidly below freezing, so the pumpkin leaves finally folded up. The tomato trellis had already blown over in strong winds earlier this week, and I didn't try to pick it back up because I knew there was little hope all those green tomatoes would ripen.

Today the sun came out, though it remained very brisk. I dug through the ruins of the volunteer pumpkin patch and retrieved no less than ten slightly immature pumpkins. The two largest ones were the size of cantelopes and still slightly greenish. The rest ranged from croquet ball to tennis ball size and were yellow or orange. All were pretty hefty, so there's hope of getting some usable pumpkin from them for soup or curry if not enough for pies.

Then I picked through the tomato vines and recovered almost five pounds of green or pinkish tomatoes. These are a large cherry tomato that matures at about golf ball size and has pretty good flavor. There were also a couple of volunteer vines from last year that had the small yellow pear tomatoes, and I got a a good double handful of those, all still green. Gary likes green tomato pie, an experiment I tried years ago. It didn't really impress me, but he thinks it's wonderful and these will make two or three pies after washing them and slicing them up. I'll freeze a couple of packages and make him a pie from the rest.

We also went to the farmers' market in Woodstock, which moves indoors to the Farm Bureau for winter. Right now it still opens once a week, but after November it goes to just twice a month I think. We brought back winter squash, honey, and a pound of Brussels sprouts. We just found a newspaper article this week with ten ways to cook sprouts, none of which I've ever tried.

Tonight's version was oven roasted. Split in half, tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roasted for 25 min. at 425F. Halfway through I added apple cubes and sprinkled them with sesame seed. To serve I turned them into a serving dish and sprinkled them with some Balsamic vinegar. They turned out delicious. Gary made the first course, a curried carrot and apple soup suggested by a friend. We also had mashed potatoes from the garden, and Gary's favorite slow cooked chicken with gravy. Apple pie or rice pudding for dessert, both already made up.

I can't wait to try the sprout pizza, and the fried sprouts and onions with eggs.

Clocks fall back tonight. My wind-up clocks are already set back, which I do by stopping them for an hour. Various digital and battery clocks will need to be adjusted yet.
altivo: 'Tivo in fursuit (fursuit)
Saw this one in the newspaper this week and since we had all the ingredients on hand decided to give it a try. The only tedious effort is peeling and dicing up the squash, which is very firm and needs a sharp knife and care to avoid injury. ;p

Recipe under cut: Vegetarian chili )
altivo: Running Clydesdale (running clyde)
A productive weekend, more or less, but not nearly enough done.

We went up to Williams Bay, Wisconsin with friend Carol to hear the opening performance of the season by the Lake Geneva Symphony. There were only two pieces on the program.

The first was Ravel's Piano Concerto in G Major, new to all three of us and (I gather) not often performed. The piece clearly reflects the result of an American visit by the French composer, who used jazz styling and motifs throughout. The timing and nuance are almost Gershwin-like, and reminded all of us of American in Paris and Rhapsody in Blue though there were no obvious quotes from either of Gershwin's masterpieces. Pianist Krassimira Jordan was remarkable, virtuoso even beyond what I expected, and that is certainly needed for this concerto. The style is intricate rather than bombastic, and requires passages where each hand plays in a different key or time signature, as well as a lot of cross-hand work. The overall result was very fine and we enjoyed it greatly.

The second selection was Tchaikovksy Symphony No. 4 in F minor, which was all the better for Conductor and Musical Director David Anderson's advance explanation of major themes and elements of the work. The LGSO has improved a great deal (not that it was bad to begin with) under Anderson's direction, and the performance came across very well. The French horns play a major role in this symphony, and they sounded like the noted horn section of the Chicago Symphony this time.

A predicted heavy frost skipped over our small garden, so we still have green tomatoes that "might" ripen before the vines are killed, but hope is diminishing. The plants are heavily laden, but almost nothing has turned ripe yet. The pumpkins I did NOT plant have produced six usable pumpkins so far after sprouting from seeds that apparently made it through last winter in the compost bin. There are many more immature fruits on the ground, but I'm pretty sure the frost is going to cut them off soon. These are the small and heavy pumpkins that can be used for pies and soup, not the large thin-shelled jack-o-lantern variety. We will put them to good use.

On Sunday I also baked a peach pie, bought groceries, tried to photograph the fall colors though it wasn't really sunny enough, and made a pot of cholent. We haven't had cholent for a couple of years and the cooler weather inspired me to put it together. It's a traditional Jewish stew, created to cook slowly overnight from Friday to Saturday so it would provide a hot meal on the sabbath without requiring anyone to cook or light a fire. The principal ingredients of my Hungarian version include small lima beans, tomatoes, onion, garlic, carrots, turnips or rutabaga, smoked sausage (I use a turkey sausage,) and both hot and sweet Hungarian paprika. I usually bake this in a closed cast iron pot at 250°F for about 8 hours, but this time I opted for a slow cooker set to high temperature. A little red wine added near the end of cooking enriches the blend and enhances the aromas. The smell becomes enticing after about four hours and makes you drool after the sixth. As usual, it turned out well, since it is almost foolproof and requires little attention once assembled.
altivo: Geekish ham radio pony (radio)
It may seem to most of you that cell phones and the internet have taken the appeal out of amateur radio, but I would disagree. For one thing, internet usage is controlled by the corporate world, which means everything is profit based, advertising stuffed, and overpriced. For another thing, those of us who live in rural areas continue to be severely underserved when it comes to internet bandwidth. Unlike European countries, where populations are densely packed and governments make an effort to insure equal access to all their citizens, the US has left the internet in the hands of telephone and cable companies who prefer to cherry pick service areas that promise the highest profit for the least investment in infrastructure.

Amateur radio continues to offer communication capabilities to those of us in rural areas, where cell phones are often unreliable and DSL or cable internet is simply not available.

So here's my public service announcement to my furry friends:

1) It is easier than ever to get an amateur radio license in the US. You don't have to learn morse code any more. The Technician examination requires only a brief period of preparation to pass, and covers just a few essentials of electronics and radio, along with the regulatory aspects of amateur radio itself.

2) The opportunities for a computer oriented ham to explore new ideas and technology that join the personal computer with the radio spectrum are nearly unlimited. Functionalities that you probably identify with cell phones and broadband internet are often available through amateur radio without the commercial trimming (advertising, tracking, spyware, etc.)

3) Furries have their own subset of amateur radio activities. Fox hunts have been popular at conventions. We have our own ham radio club (thanks to Yappy Fox, K9YAP,) Furryhams ( and thanks to Tycho Aussie, NE8K, our own weekly chat net on the Echolink network. (Tuesdays 9 PM EDT/Wednesdays 0100Z on the *DODROPIN* conference channel.)

Even the equipment needs are minimal. I linked to the Furry chat this week using just my cell phone and a bluetooth headset. The headset made it more convenient, but the cell phone alone was adequate. A license is required, however. The license is free, but there is usually a nominal charge for taking the exam.

For those of you who will be attending Midwest Fur Fest this year, I understand there will be a ham radio panel where you can learn more. Probably there will be demonstrations and a fox hunt, and I hear that you will even be able to take the exam if you wish.

Amateur radio is a social opportunity for the technically inclined. I think it's well suited to a lot of furs, and is worth a closer look.

("Best wishes from Altivo K9NZI")

November 2015

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