Monday, July 21, 2014

Bye bye, Walgreens

So, I'd stopped in to my local Walgreens to pick up some medications and snacks when a rather hostile employee drove me out. I had a couple of plastic bags in the car, so I brought them in with me to reuse them. Hardly the first time I've done that in this or any other store. I'd gotten my meds, some snacks, and was getting some foot powder when someone shelving some stuff asked me what I was doing. Confused, I answered that I was picking up some foot powder. "You can't put that in a bag." Thinking she was joking I asked "What?" Her hostility increased. "You can't be putting stuff in a bag." "I can't use a bag to carry my groceries to checkout?" "No! You might be stealing!" I can kind of understand the thinking. Sure, there's security stuff on the meds to sound alarms as I leave and I'm pretty sure someone would object if I just walked out with bags of stuff. But, sure, I suppose. So I emptied the bag and handed it to her. I then started picking my stuff up. "YOU CAN'T DO THAT!" "I can't carry my groceries up to the register in my hands, either? You're really going to have an attitude about that?" I had a bit of attitude myself at this point. "You can't do that!" So I set everything back on the ground and said "Fine. I'll get them somewhere else." and started walking out. She followed me and called a code something or other. Presumably it meant shoplifter. I turned, pulled the other empty bag out of my pocket, "Here, you can have my other bag, too, if it'll make you feel better." and left the bag hanging there in the air. A few steps later I pulled out my wallet, took out my Walgreens card, and tossed it at her. "Here. You can have this, too. I won't be needing it after this." I then left, went to the CVS a mile up the road and spent $78 there.

I've e-mailed Walgreen's customer service about it. It's not really fair to stop doing business with someone and not tell them what happened to make you stop.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Friday excuses

I had family in town and work to do. So this got zeroth priority and you get no links.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Friday Links: July 11

Some vampires were staked through the legs. [link]

Monkeys and humans fight over water supply. [link]

How morning sickness helps the fetus. [link]

Chimp in a zoo shows advanced planning skills. [link]

Birth control for men that we can't get our hands on. [link]

Poor boys get PTSD when moving to better neighborhoods, but poor girls thrive. [link]

Hawaii's beaches are made of fish poop. [link]

The founding fathers were hard drinkin' men. [link]
"That's 54 bottles of Madeira, 60 bottles of claret, eight of whiskey, 22 of porter, eight of hard cider, 12 of beer, and seven bowls of alcoholic punch. And what will your friends be drinking this evening?"

We can't take pictures of the Milky Way from the outside, so what galaxy is it that's shown in pictures? [link]

NASA can take tax deductible donations. [link]

Goldman Sachs demands Google unsend an e-mail. [link]

August 23

More on the Stargate movie reboot. [link]

We let you carry your guns openly for one day, ONE DAY!, and you're already drawing on each other in the QwikEMart. [link]

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Late night thought

Everybody should kill one person at some point. It's a once in their lifetime experience.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Neighborhood landscaping

This is my hood. You should be able to click to enlarge the picture. The street names have been removed to make it harder for my old university to find me.

Let me tell you what you're seeing.

The blue rectangles are properties I own at the moment. This will likely be added to, soon. If I had the money there'd be a lot of blue on this map.

The green rectangles are lawns that I've been caring for this summer. Four of them I've been taking care of all summer and they look great. Two others straight across from my house have only been taken on recently. One has a little old lady on oxygen whose son is worthless. As of this weekend I'm hopping her privacy fence and mowing her lawn and doing battle with the Virginia Creeper on both sides of the fence. The other is owned, but neglected. It houses many rats that you can hear dying at night. I'm committing lawn genocide and picking up the trash dumped in her yard. This weekend I started some flowers that bees like in pots so I can transplant them once the genocide is complete.

The red rectangle are yards that I took care of last summer. One was abandoned because the house was sold and is being repaired. Another was abandoned because of heavy dumping. All four had fences that were torn down.

The green line is the route that Gandolf and I walk on our Poison Ivy extermination walk. Last summer I only covered my block and the one north of it as well as weeds on sidewalks around those blocks. This year I started covering the full length of my alley. My alley still gets sprayed for all weeds, but the full alley was being targeted for Poison Ivy. I expanded to the next alley when I was looking at properties on that street and saw how horrible they were in the back. It was about a month before I could complete the circuit of the alley and get back home before the bottle ran empty. Any empty house's yard is a target. And stuff I can reach in occupied houses.  I just started doing the alley to the west in the last few weeks. I had probably half a bottle of spray left when I get home.

The black dots are points of particular interest.
First, you see my route take a little jog beside a building north of my block. That building was once 1/5 covered with Poison Ivy. Deformed versions of it continue to try to come back. I won't let it. Other stuff is moving in and I'm trying to be picky about what I allow.
Second, far to the north is an amorphous black blob. That's a field of Curly Leaf Dock. That weed was a major target of last year's genocidal campaign and is included in this years. I poked at the field a bit, but didn't do any serious damage. I may get serious now that the second growth of the summer is starting. One of my neighbors is going to get me some bamboo to plant over there to crowd out the dock and serve as a decorative sound barrier for the trains that pass on the far side.
Third, by the loop-de-loop, is the abandoned community garden. Ten foot fences surround it and are covered with honeysuckle, English Ivy, Virginia Creeper, and Poison Ivy. I was able to target the Poison Ivy fairly successfully. It was a daunting task, though.
Fourth is a batch growing along the side fence of a yard. I can only get what's near the alley.
Fifth is just a messy yard that I use to gauge weed behavior in the area. Poison Ivy moved in that yard this year. That yard also tells me when to watch out for more Curly Leaf Dock.
If I have some left when I get close to home I then cut over to
Six. Former nice landscaping for a back fence. It will be nice again once I get rid of this major infestation. I blew a quarter of my bottle on that last week.
Seventh is a row of bushes that were heavily infested. The more I kill the more I find.
Eighth is an alley that starts with a condemned house that's overgrown. I'm trying to kill the vine back enough that I can move in with limb nippers.
Then I come back and finish on the other side of the fence from dot number one.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Friday Links: July 4

NASA plans to put a greenhouse on [The Moon] and [Mars].

Starfish are an apex predator and they're turning to mush. [link]

How to calculate pi by dropping matches. [link]

Eli Roth showed the movie Cannibal Holocaust to an isolated tribe. They thought it was a comedy. [link]

An abandoned plane that landed itself. [link]

Understanding egg expiration date codes. [link]

I want this watch. [link]

The last jew in Afghanistan. [link]

Martian sunsets are blue. [video and explanation]

Paul McCartney did release a song under a pseudonym just to see if it'd still be a success. [link]

Heavy metal construction.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Book Review: Icehenge

"Icehenge" started life as three short stories in a sci-fi magazine in the early 80s. They were modified, apparently heavily, for this book. Man went to Mars and the asteroids, but not much further. Most everything is run by a corporation more intent on exploiting what and who they have than expanding and exploring. Change comes slow now that humans life for about 600 years.

The first story is about a woman on a ship that is supposed to be the last piece of a secret mission to build an interstellar space craft. They meet with two other space craft that have gone missing over the last decade and their ship is supposed to be incorporated into the new space ship. It'll take a long time to get where they want to be, but they have the time. What they don't have is a recycling system that will get them all the way there. They'll be short just a few years and they need her help to make it work. She does her best and returns to Mars where a brewing revolution will help distract those in charge from the ship fleeing the system. The revolution is put down brutally.

The second story comes decades later. An archaeologist who lived in a dome that was collapsed during the revolution finally has permission to investigate the ruins. He's old enough that he really shouldn't remember any of it anymore. While researching there, a ring of standing ice blocks is discovered on Pluto. It's much like Stonehenge or some similar structure on Earth. He discovered a crashed rover on Mars with papers that indicate the henge was built by a group escaping the star system using stolen ships and the involvement of the woman from the first story.

The third story comes later still. While there has been some reforms since the corporation was forced to admit it's brutality in the revolution, they're still pretty much in charge. Mankind has expanded on to Saturn and beyond, but still not out of the star system. The great grandson of the archaeologist in story two is a historian. He talked to someone at a New Year's bash who makes a believable claim about building the icehenge. This starts the historian on a mission to correct the history. If not the fleeing revolutionaries, then who?

Kim Stanley Robinson, the author, does good work, but often his books get bogged down and you have to wait until the last 100 pages for the story to pick up again. He's just lucky his books are so good. His Mars Trilogy pretty much eliminated the need for other Mars colonization books since he covered it so thoroughly. Since this book is three short stories that's not such a problem as it is with full novels. The first story goes pretty well. The second gets kind of tedious until the archaeologist goes on his one man quest across Mars. The third has places where you think the author has completely lost the thread and then he jumps into or out of a flashback and brings you back into the story.