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Friday, December 09, 2016

A Chess Match Between The Hounds

It was a little past 1am last night when Sadie and Stella woke up from sleeping in the living room while I was on the computer. That means it's time for their last trip outside before they sleep for the night.

Snow flurries were coming down lightly. There was nothing in the forecast showing we would have any snow this morning and that proved to be true.

We started a first walk of the day after lunch. I was actually warmer today at 24° because those 20mph winds out of the west yesterday were not around. In fact I couldn't feel any wind today on our walk. There were still those light snow flurries coming down during the walk but not heavy enough to be seen by the camera.

I thought Stella was going to lead the pack today for the first walk but she turned right around and headed back to the corner of the field next to the burn pile and yard. It must have been good for her because Sadie and I were about to make the first turn in the walk before Stella started to move in our direction.

This shows just how much of an incline the field has toward the corner of my property.  Stella cannot be seen but she is there somewhere.

About the time I was about to make my turn and head to the back of the field, Stella popped up in my view finder on the camera. I can see this is almost her daily routine and one that I am getting tired of. I don't mind them going at their own pace but I know for her safety I have to walk up to her by the end of the walk to get her to move in our direction. That is usually out of the way from the direction we are moving. If I leave her and go back inside the house when the walk is finish, she usually ends up by the neighbors, which is not a good situation. Great neighbors but too close to the highway.

Sadie on the other hand was trained by Winston as a puppy on how to do the walk. Lagging behind is okay but always run to catch up on your own. She does that two or three different times during our walk.

Once Stella came sprinting around the corner to catch Sadie, she never stopped and both of them headed to the far right corner. I followed them because I knew it was the only way I was going to get stubborn Stella to keep moving in our direction.

The camera does not pick up their speed ... but they are on a full out sprint.

Evidently a lot of fresh deer scat today.

Stella gradually moved on her own toward the back of the field, which surprised me.

Once one of them found something the other had to join, not to miss anything.

By the time I made the final turn home, they both ran by me and sprinted ahead. I honestly think they have figured out if they do that, they can enjoy what they find before I get there and tell them to "come on".

Yet, there is never a direct path with them because their noses pick up to many signals.

My ice sculpture is interesting. You see the height of the structure well that was flat yesterday and barely above the wood window ledge. What is interesting, there is no signs of water dripping from above, no signs or condensation running down the glass onto the ledge toward that stack of ice ... any ideas on the source of water?

With the discussion of a few bloggers about the sharpness of the photos posted on their blogs, Ed commented this morning on the post that I did yesterday, that he found there was a size difference in the same picture I posted here on Blogger and my Wordpress blog. As many of you know, the larger the size, the more pixels it has and that results in a sharper clearer picture.

In my Wordpress blog, they give me a choice from three different sizes for my 'default' size, Blogger does not. I believe I can go into my Blogger template and instead of 'customizing' my template I can click the button "edit html' and change the size of the default pictures in their html code.

To see if there was a difference that was noticeable, today I exported my photos from my Apple photos program on my computer using the picture quality 'maximum' setting. That doubled the size of the file from ~500kb to over a 1mb for each picture. I think it's safe to assume that since it took forever to upload the pictures from my computer to the blog while writing this post, it will take you longer to load the pictures after you open my blog.


I'll change the setting back to 'large' after this post and that will reduce the size back to ~500kb and thus will let the page load faster when you open the blog. But right now I want to keep these pictures as they are to see if you notice any kind of picture quality difference.

I have always been a fan of Jason Bourne movies. Actually I became a fan after the first book I read by Robert Ludlam titled The Bourne Identity back in the 80's. So when I received an email yesterday that the latest Jason Bourne movie was showing on Directv I decided 'movie night' would be one day earlier.

As usual it had all the action you needed, drama, mystery etc ... but I can't say that it was the best of all of them, even with Matt Damon returning to play the character Jason Bourne. They did end it like all their other movies where the story can continue ... but I wonder if this story has ran it's course like most series do. The same thing happened with three of my other all-time favorite shows: Dexter, Breaking Bad and Homeland, they run out of things to write about or their best writers move to start a new show.

What makes someone always wanting to trade cars?

Is it a poor diet, poor DNA, possible mental problems, lack of activity, ... what? I am serious about the question but those possible reasons are listed in a jokingly manner. The reason I ask, every since I traded my Voodoo Blue FJ, I continue to look at different cars, some not even an SUV to trade for. I HAVE NO REASON TO TRADE EITHER CAR I HAVE ... plus it's expensive and a waste of money trading card frequently.

I went over two years having zero urges to trade cars. I had the two cars I was happy with but every since I made the trade in late October, I cannot stop to look at other cars that are for sale. It's just not look but a strong urge to make a trade. It's strong enough that I have come close a couple of times of calling the dealership or sending an email to inquire about the car.

The highlight of the day so far is the "silent chess match" between Sadie and Stella over water. It started right after we came inside after our walk earlier this afternoon. Stella sat next to my desk chair while Sadie laid stretched out on the floor next to the water bowl. Sadie thinks it is her water and will protect it most of the time. Stella sat next to me and looked down at her ... motionless. Then she decided to step on Sadie's stomach.

Sadie didn't move.

Stella then started to walk on her until Sadie got up fast enough to prevent being walked on and jumped up to the side of the doorway but turned to watch the water bowl, as Stella stopped. For almost 30 minutes straight ... they both looked at each other without a sound, without a move. Then Stella would lower her head and stare at the water bowl which by now is right in front of her and available to drink out of. Nothing blocking her if she tried to drink.

It took another 30 minutes before Stella walked out to Sadie who was sitting in the hallway, turn round and walk all the way over to my desk chair and then move into the water bowl from behind it, the furthest side from Sadie. Sadie then did not care that Stella was drinking 'her' water.

It's a pretty quiet and cold day again in 'the tropics' of southern Indiana.

Heidi Makes An Appearance

She does not get photographed a lot because she is not out a lot not that it is freezing. When she heard I was watching Jason Bourne movie tonight she thought she'd come out to watch it.

She slept through the movie but really this is her normal activity.

She will be up in time for lunch today with no problem.

Another cold morning here in 'the tropics' of southern Indiana.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Coldest Day Yet Makes Me Ramble

There was no early rising this morning, normal time. A chill was in the air, colder than I have felt this fall so far.

Normal routine with all 3 hounds outside the very first thing, while I pour the breakfast kibble. All of them are waiting at the door by the time I am finished and the only time they are not interested in roaming in the field.

Yet, when that door opened for the first time to let them out ... a rude awakening ... it was freezing and the wind was blowing to make it feel even colder.

My iPhone weather app was saying it was 21° and felt like 10° at 8am. I was doubtful it would warm up too much while I had my hot coffee and checked the latest sports, news and blogs online. Sadie hit me with her stare around 9:15am to go for a walk ... it wasn't happening. I wasn't finished with my 2nd cup yet and I could tell it was still cold outside.

By 10am Sadie won the stare down contest. The Oboz hiking shoes were put on along with the down coat, wool cap under the hood along with ski gloves. I wasn't too far into the walk and I could tell it was really ... really cold. You'll see though it doesn't affect the hounds. They were on their walk and happy.

Stella hung back and I kept walking and picking up my pace a little. I was hoping they would both come toward me on the way back if I yelled their names.

You can see in this next picture the worn path that Sadie has her nose buried in. That is a path worn down by deer traffic and followed along that brush all the way to the far right corner of the field.

I continued walking fairly fast. My face was frozen, finger tips were cold even inside the ski gloves and the wind was stronger than we had felt in a while. The weather app was showing 20mph winds from the west.

Just as I turned around to see where Stella was, she had already sprinted up to catch Sadie.

I turned and kept walking, veering along the path following the back edge of the field. Both hounds were in their favorite far right corner.

Just as I made the final turn to head back home the wind hit me squarely in my face ... instant freeze. Sadie glanced up and saw I was heading back so she came running toward me. As she ran up next to me she nudged my hand with her nose, I guess letting me know she was there.

It took Stella a little longer but she came the first time I yelled her name. That doesn't mean she will walk straight to the house though. She always has more places to stop and explore.

She might be headed your direction but in an instant she can turn in a different direction if her nose picks up something she just has to smell.

I was happy to see both hounds fairly close to each other and kind of heading in the right direction but they were slow and I was freezing.

By the time I got to the corner of the house they had not moved but my camera lens zoomed into 200mm to get this next picture. I could tell they were not interested in coming inside. I was, I was freezing.

By the time I got my coat, gloves and cap off and just had slid the SD card into the computer I hear Sadie run up against the door to let me know she wants in. I glanced out the window to see that Stella had not moved. It didn't take another 5 minutes, to see that Stella was no where to be seen when I looked at the window ... I had to go get her.

She had ventured over to the woods behind the neighbors house, another area the deer like to hang out. She came when I called her but she knew she had gone outside her boundary. How did I know? She had her head down and her tail tucked between her legs as she ran for the yard.  Smart hound.

By the time lunch rolled around, the house was cold. Some of the newer readers don't know about my effort to save as much electrical use as possible during the winter. I pay my electric bill on 'the budget plan', meaning I pay the same amount every month whether the AC is running full steam ahead in July or the baseboard electric heaters are running in the summer.

Long time readers know I like to analyze and I love Excel spreadsheets. So I have both on my electrical usage. Granted it was a warmer than usual winter last year but the summers were hotter and I was still able to get a $120 refund check in the mail last May, which is the month that the utility company settle up ... they either pay me with a refund or I pay them the balance where my total monthly payments didn't cover the bill. The the monthly amount is adjusted for the following 12 months.

My spreadsheets show if I am on track for a refund or expect to pay. I also do it not only for financial reasons but also trying not to waste electric. Similar to recycling all of my paper, glass and plastics and also taking one 32gl trash can with a 36gl bag of trash for $2. It looks like in 2016 I will have paid only $18 in trash ... before the circuits in my brain lit up last year I was paying $20 per month to have the truck stop every Thursday morning at 4am to pick up that one 36gl trash bag. There were some weeks I had no trash to set up ... so I now paid $18 instead of $240.

I am not broke being retired, I have plenty to live on and still save/invest excess funds every month ... but I hate 'wasting' money, no matter how small it might seem. That was a major conflict of mine while working in the government either as an employee or contractor in the field of account. There was so much waste it made me sick at times.

So I will continue to monitor the cost of turning on some heat every once in a while. Today around noon was one of those times. My living room was down to 52°, my computer room was at 56° and my hands were cold. So we blasted the heat for a timed hour  but after only 35 minutes I was too hot!!!! I had used only 3 kilowatts including all the other electrical appliances running and the room temperatures rose higher than I am comfortable with ... such as being too hot.

While talking to a DirecTV rep last night about AT&T's offer of free data while streaming on any device through DirecTV our conversation got off track discussing different internet browsers. He too had used Google Chrome for a long time but said he found the recent improvements on Firefox make it his default browser and that I should check it out.

In our discussed we even went as far back as Netscape, my favorite browser from the mid to late 1990's. He told me that Firefox was built off that platform and all the big companies had invested money into Mozilla to build a safe and secure browser many years ago and continue to supply funding today. Those were Microsoft, Apple, and Google ... all competitors in the internet browser industry.  So that is what I have been using since last night while make a few preference tweaks along the way.

Al over at The Bayfield Bunch posted last night that he too was noticing his photos on Blogger just didn't seem sharp and clear. I made a comment on what I had found. He and Mark had been discussing this issue and it's a discussion Mark and I had last summer about the same problem.

This is what I have found even as recently as this morning when I made a post on my Wordpress blog as well as when I wrote about it on this blog last winter and last summer. The same photos on this blog don't look sharp after they are posted ... EXCEPT ... when I look at them on Apple's 'retina' display which my iMac does not have but my iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air does. One those devices these photos are sharp, clear and crisp.

This morning when I posted on my Wordpress blog those pictures were sharp, clear, and crisp ... same pictures. So it has to be something with the Blogger platform or Google might be compressing the picture file size like they do in Google Photos.

On another topic ... I continue to see the Bloodhound breed is MUCH MORE DEMANDING than the Basset Hound breed. At times that is a PIA. I have mentioned here in the past 6 months or so that after these hounds have passed I would be houndless for the first time since 1987. I do not plan to replace them with other hounds ... but lately I've been thinking that might not happen but I will test the waters so to speak about life without any hounds. If I were to have just one hound it will be a Basset Hound not a Bloodhound ... too different and too hard to handle as I would get older. At times I forget how old I really am, I don't feel my age.

I do know that if I had just Heidi or no hounds I would be out in the middle of the desert somewhere boondocking with a small trailer or tent camping. There is NO way that Stella would be a good camping hound ... to obnoxious.

We made numerous trips outside today and Sadie would have probably stayed outside forever but Stella was always running back to the house after dumping her tanks. Due to the freezing temps we cancelled the afternoon walk.

I know winter has just started but how many days until spring?? It's too cold for me here in 'the tropics' of southern Indiana.