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      Posting these cat-cartoons-without-the-cartoon was a long journey that I don’t know if I’ll repeat soon again. A daily blog is tough … even when you have your material handed to you! But, I couldn’t have done it without the artwork … Continue reading →
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      Father Time is riding out his last few minutes of being the temporal keeper for 2011; he sits in an easy chair with a calendar showing “Dec 31” behind him and a grandfather clock pointing to the time of 11:53. … Continue reading →
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      A happy young lady shares a table at a tony restaurant with her cat; they both wear festive, cone-shaped party hats. The woman gaily says to the tuxedoed server, “One martini and one glass of milk.” The cat does not … Continue reading →

Archive for the ‘Trivia’ Category

Valentine’s Day

Posted by joeabbott on February 18, 2018

WP_20180218_09_43_51_ProValentine’s Day with Joe and Suz was a special time … also known of as “Cold and Flu Season”. As a result, we shared a very nice meal prepared by Suzy, exchanged homemade cards, and then sat together holding hands on the couch. A syrupy, maudlin moment only tainted by our mutual blowing of noses, deep-chested coughs, and a bit of mild sneezing. If it gets worse, public authorities will erect barricades outside our home to keep a contagion from spreading.

But, we’re on the mend.

One of the things that made the day even more special was a card and note my mother sent us. She acknowledges Valentine’s Day is for sweethearts, but sent her note just the same and I can’t tell you how much we love that woman. She makes our lives better in so many ways.

First there was the simple card: velvety to the touch and festoon with rhinestones; it acknowledged us both and was simply signed. Big smiles all around at the thoughtfulness. But inside there was more!

With prior letters she’s included little square cards that you open for a motivational or thoughtful message. The front encourages you to embrace the day with mine saying:

Each day comes bearing its own gifts. Untie the ribbons. – Ruth Ann Schabacker

WP_20180218_09_44_50_Proand Suzy’s saying

Plunge boldly into the thick of life, and seize it where you will …  — Johann Wolfgang von Goerthe

For two people who could easily get lost in self-pity, these messages could only help rally the spirits and ask us to keep an eye on the horizon. Good stuff.

And finally she included a couple of crisp two dollar bills, each bearing a Post-It proclaiming: This is for you! (from the Book Fairy!!)

Included was a small note saying this:

Just thought I’d send you one of Uncle Joe’s $2’s. Among his things, Dana and I came across a pack of over 60 two dollar bills. I didn’t have the heart to spend them, and finally decided on how to move them along … So every now and then, when I go to the library, I take along one of them with a little post it on it, like this one … And I roam around in the children’s book section and where there’s an empty spot, between rows of books, I’ll leave it there on the shelf, kind of low down … so a little girl or boy will come across it  Smile I’ve been doing this for a couple years now, and have about 10 or so left. I’m sure there librarians who come across them, are wondering who this “Book Fairly” is. We’ve recently built a new Shoreview library, near the old one which is now offices, so I’ve moved my business over there… it’s a fun diversion for me – I’m sure UJ is chuckling. And I’d love to be a fly on the wall so I could see the little one’s reactions. And their mother’s reactions! Such are the games that we Ancient Ones love to play!

WP_20180218_09_45_27_ProWell, she can consider the Book Fairy to have conscripted a couple of helpers out in Seattle!

One little Valentine and so much heart I can’t stop the smiling for how special and welcome that card was. As for Suzy and me? Well, it’s four days since V-Day and we still have cold symptoms but are planning to take a walk through a park somewhere … either today or tomorrow. We’re “untying the ribbons” but they’re coming off slowly.

Thanks for dropping by … I hope you didn’t catch anything!


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A good lesson

Posted by joeabbott on February 18, 2018

imageConsidering my last post, it appears I’m in an introspective mood … perhaps New Year’s Resolutions are just now catching up to me. I’m a procrastinator, so I wouldn’t be surprised. But I read another person’s post that I’ll share here … it spoke to me about some of my own traits and ways to improve change.

I follow a blog called The Daily Skeptic and it’s a woodworking blog … or, kind of is. Eric Key is the owner and he posts frequently and includes lots of photos and short pieces … they come so regularly that he has to be self-employed or retired. It’s nice because everything is short and the topic is typically some woodworking project he’s doing. And it’s motivational for me because he does a lot of things that I think are beyond me right now … but he presents them in a way that I ask, “are they beyond me?” It’s good stuff.

But today he posted a piece called Sloth that hit home in a lot of ways. He talks about buying a tool he didn’t make time to use, he talks about making time to teach himself a new technique, and he ends by sharing how he failed his way to success … and in the process, learned to slow down. I won’t steal his story or try to provide a shortened version; as I said, they’re already easily digestible in a quick reading.

I appreciate bloggers like Eric who can teach me more than just technique without it becoming a “change your life” or some other sort of sermon. I want to talk about other bloggers I follow but I’ll hold for now … Sloth is good enough to have it’s own quasi-repost.

Thanks for dropping in.

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Edgewise by Pavel’s Puzzles

Posted by joeabbott on December 31, 2017

Earlier in my winter break, I wrote about a puzzle I received as a gift and how it’s been on my mind … and dinner table … since I opened it up. Well, the holidays, a broken elbow, and being stumped by this puzzle all have solving it on hold but I still glance at it, wonder a bit, and then move on. I’m at the point where I’m truly stumped.

After writing my post (A Grand 54th), I was tickled to receive a comment from Pavel himself, offering for me to drop him a line if I wanted a hint. I didn’t then but will take one now … I’ll either reach out to him a day or two or wait for him to reply here. I’m going to collapse this next section because IT CONTAINS POTENTIAL SPOILERS! If you’re working on Edgewise and don’t want to be polluted by my thoughts, pictures of my progress, or anything like that, don’t expand this section and just move on.

Consider that fair warning.

Read the rest of this entry »

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You used up all the glue on purpose!

Posted by joeabbott on December 21, 2017

imageOK I’m guilty of using the same movie for a second quote … A Christmas Story is an annual part of our movie watching tradition and I was reminded of it again yesterday when I dropped a bowl and saw it break on impact. Guess my hand still has a way to go to heal up.

I’m on the fence about the modern tactic of not putting a broken limb in a cast. Many times a day I’m reminded that even an inactive lifestyle has you moving and interacting with your surroundings enough to cause a lot of pain, and yet I’m able to shower and wash and scratch or rub my arm as I wish; something I couldn’t do if I were in a cast. I’m also able to gauge the improvement in strength (a little) and flexibility (not much) with a cast off. But that pain … pretty intense when it shows up. Oh well.

So what have I been up to (aside from damaging the crockery)? Well … it was wrapping day on Tuesday and yesterday we went out to see a movie!


Sometime before the holiday we agree on what sort of gift we’ll give each other … saves embarrassment if Suzy were to finally give me a pony on the year I decide to simplify and give her a LifeSaver’s Christmas Hard Candy Sweet Storybook. Because I really loved the cards she gave me this year, I decided to give her 12-days of cards at Christmas time … below they’re lined up on the mantle and each one has a small date on it.

For those who see the uninspired “Wife” as the salutation on the envelope … they all say “Wife” and it’s a carry-over from when we were first married and I was tickled she’d agreed to marry me. It just made me smile a lot and continues to. She will get to open one from 12/20 thru New Year’s Eve.

WP_20171220_15_27_04_Pro  WP_20171220_15_27_18_Pro

This year, aside from the cards, we agreed to just giving each other small gifts that would fit in a sock. Because I’ve lost a lot of dexterity, she’s allowed me to put stuff into a box instead. I needed two.


Movie time!

I love the movies! Not enough to really go the them all that much, but I have a blast when we do. I overeat popcorn, be sure to arrive early to get the seat I want, and almost always LOVE the shows I see. I see maybe one a year, so in order to make it worth it, I come in with a super low bar and an eager receptor for whatever entertainment comes my way! Not really a discerning cinephile, but I’m OK with that.

imageSo we saw Star Wars: The Last Jedi and it was pretty good.

You may sense a bit of understatement there and it’s true. While the movie had hero moments, lots of things blowing up, and involved the Star Wars universe … well, I was a bit at sea. First, I didn’t recall what happened in earlier franchise movies for this one to carry over well for me. Second, there was some stuff I just didn’t get … any minute I was ready for Kylo Ren to say, “Rey, I’m your brother!”, due to this persistent mind meld\share thing they had going on with Rey.

I liked the moments with Poe Dameron … he did a good job for replacing the dashing swagger lost with the absence of Han Solo. And the pacing of the movie kept things brisk, although I was ready for it to be over when it was done.

If I had to put my finger on it, the thing that kept me from really loving it was the Luke Skywalker character. I’m OK with the whole “I’m turning my back on the Force” thing, I’m fine with the “no more students of the Force”, but I think I really wanted him to go out with more of a bang. Without giving too much away, he stood against a bunch of bad-guy tanks (AT-ATs, I think they’re called), and I really wanted to see him wave his Jedi hand and bring them all to their knees. WOULD HAVE LOVED IT. Didn’t happen.

So I’m left trying to understand what’s going on and I just don’t normally put that much mind power into movies. I go, I’m entertained, I come home to my home life. The end. So, still working this one out. But it was fun, so go see it and judge for yourself.


I have an upcoming blog post on video games so feel free to leave this channel for a while if you wish. I get that not everyone likes video game stuff, but I completed Fallout 4 last night so it seems like a good place to stop and consider some of the recent games I’ve finished … what I liked and why. But, thanks for dropping in and hope you get to enjoy some free time this holiday season, too!

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Stop in your tracks moment

Posted by joeabbott on December 8, 2017

I’m not a huge Facebook fan but I like to stay connected to family and friends, a voyeur into their lives more than a contributor. I put myself out there enough in other ways that the instantaneousness of a Facebook post feels vacuous. And this comes from a guy who’ll post about Bing searches and Yeti. Still, good stuff comes to me from perusing the various posts from my friends and family and a recent visit stopped me in my tracks.

The piece was re-posted by a climbing friend and is a poem by Wendell Berry, someone I’d not heard of prior to that introduction. I read the poem, stopped, reread it … and then just sat there reflecting. It was beautiful and moving in its simplicity and voice. I’ll share it here … it’s called The Peace of Wild Things:

When despair grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

As I reread I literally got goose bumps. I’m not sure why it speaks to me. As social and extroverted as I am, I find deep contentment in solitude and silence, I find healing in the winds high in the hills, and I have a yearning to see day-blind stars, waiting for their light.

It’s a good piece. Good enough to have me read up on Wendell Berry, good enough to put one of his books on my Amazon wish list, and good enough to share with all of you. Thanks for coming by.

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Really, Bing? OK, I’ll bite …

Posted by joeabbott on December 7, 2017

While minorly controversial, I actually like Bing. Not “like Bing more than X” and not “I don’t like another service” … I just like Bing.

I like the colorful pictures it shows me every day as the main background splash, I like learning tidbits about things I never knew I was curious about in the various stories that appear as current hits, and I like “Bing Points”, which were rebranded Microsoft points earlier this summer when Microsoft combined and streamlined their rewards offerings. But, I still think of them as Bing Points.

The idea being Bing Points (Microsoft points) is that you earn some of these points for each search you do (on Bing) on either desktop or mobile devices. And, every day through the Microsoft Account page, you can click on extra items for additional points. Sometimes these are single story items (like a recent click about the Apollo 17 mission) and other times you get a multi-part quiz.

I recently was offered a multi-part quiz on Mythical Creatures that included the question: when was the term abominable snowman first coined? Turns out it was 1921, the answer came in the form of

The phrase abominable snowman was coined in 1921 after Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Howard-Bury led the Royal Geographical Society’s "Everest Reconnaissance Expedition". During the expedition, footprints were discovered that Sherpas attributed to "metoh-kangmi" (man-bear/snowman).

Abominable Snowman – Paranormal Encyclopedia

Additionally, the sidebar contained the below item for further information on Yeti


The part that caught my eye was the “related people”.

It was with a bemused chuckle that I saw Reinhold Messner, a storied climber who was my idol during my climbing years … to see him included in a Yeti article was pretty amusing. Then I clicked the link and learned a little more: Reinhold Messner was a Yeti Hunter. Yup, in the mid-80s he bumped into what he thought was a Yeti and spent over a decade searching and researching them, only to come to the conclusion the Yeti is nothing more than a Himalayan brown bear. Entertaining article that I recommend you read.

And that cements my “I like Bing” statement. Again, not more than some other service but I would have never thought to search on mythical creatures, would have never thought of including Reinhold Messner in the search, and would have never hit on the article of him being a Yeti hunter. Thanks, Bing!

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Need to know … who is your computer talking to?

Posted by joeabbott on November 20, 2017

I used to post a number of things under a “trivia” category\tag … this is one of those items.

I spend a fair amount of time online and I’m much less interested in being on a computer without internet access. Yes, I can look at my digital photos or work on my SketchUp models without the internet, but there seems to be so much out information out there, that having internet access seems to be a basic expectation. But, whether thru legitimate business requirements or nefarious means, your computer can be an open door of information in and out of your house!

On one side, you want things like your Internet security programs to be communicating with a central server to pull down the latest virus signature information, people who want push requests from social media will want to be notified when things are happening, and news or sales events may be of interest … all are legitimate communications to and from your computer to an outside source.

But then there are communications you may not want or have authorized. Things like viruses or Trojan horses, corporations with whom you have a legitimate relationship but who may be drawing information about your usage for data analytics. Stuff like that. Stuff you may not be interested in sharing. Or, perhaps you just want to be better informed on who your computer us talking to.

Well, this article answers those questions by showing three easy ways to determine who your computer is talking to.

While it talks about using PowerShell, the program TCPView, or checking what ports are open, each of the three ways are easily and simply demonstrated … just type along.

Running the programs are easy but interpreting the results is a little harder. Mostly what I look for are unexpected entries. Here’s a sample of the output from the excellent TCPView utility

Process             PID Protocol LocalAddress LocalPort   Remote Address    Remote Port    State  
[System Process]      0    TCP    homepc.home    60668       https        TIME_WAIT 
[System Process]      0    TCP    homepc.home    60669      https        TIME_WAIT 
[System Process]      0    TCP    homepc.home    60661      https        TIME_WAIT 
[System Process]      0    TCP    homepc.home    60636     https        TIME_WAIT
[System Process]      0    TCP    homepc.home    60652       https        TIME_WAIT
[System Process]      0    TCP    homepc.home    60649      https        TIME_WAIT
Discord.exe       12548    TCP    homepc.home    60630       https        ESTABLISHED
Discord.exe       12548    TCP    homepc.home    60088      https        ESTABLISHED
Dropbox.exe       13964    TCP    homepc.home    50001       https        CLOSE_WAIT 
Dropbox.exe       13964    TCP    homepc.home    60634       https        CLOSE_WAIT 
Dropbox.exe       13964    TCP    homepc.home    60567      https        CLOSE_WAIT 
Dropbox.exe       13964    TCP    homepc.home    57781    https        ESTABLISHED
Dropbox.exe       13964    TCP    homepc.home    60099    https        ESTABLISHED
iexplore.exe      13684    TCP    homepc.home    60663     https        ESTABLISHED
iexplore.exe      13684    TCP    homepc.home    60664     https        ESTABLISHED
NIS.exe            3512    TCP    homepc.home    57914       https        ESTABLISHED
NIS.exe            3512    TCP    homepc.home    60109     https        ESTABLISHED
OUTLOOK.EXE       14724    TCP    homepc.home    60635     https        ESTABLISHED
OUTLOOK.EXE       14724    TCP    homepc.home    60662     https        ESTABLISHED
OUTLOOK.EXE       14724    TCP    homepc.home    60472      https        ESTABLISHED
OUTLOOK.EXE       14724    TCP    homepc.home    60667     https        ESTABLISHED
SearchUI.exe      17796    TCP    homepc.home    60656     https        ESTABLISHED
SearchUI.exe      17796    TCP    homepc.home    60659     https        ESTABLISHED
SearchUI.exe      17796    TCP    homepc.home    60658     https        ESTABLISHED
SearchUI.exe      17796    TCP    homepc.home    60655    https        ESTABLISHED
SearchUI.exe      17796    TCP    homepc.home    60657    https        ESTABLISHED
svchost.exe        3632    TCP    homepc.home    60666       https        ESTABLISHED

There are some parts I’ve snipped about the amount of data sent to\from the computer and I only included the details that indicated communication outside my computer.

I look for a couple things:

  • Do I recognize all the programs listed in the Process column? (you can search on the names using a search engine if you don’t recognize it)
  • Is the Remote Port using the secure version of HTTP (that is, https)?
  • Does the Remote Address look right?

To answer the last question, I use a web lookup service like  Be careful … there is a TON of buttons to click, ads hidden as information, and other deceiving information on sites like but it does the trick if you can wade through the information. Here’s a sample of what it told me when I entered (one of the Remote Addresses listed above):

ASN and ISP for IP address

General traits like organisation, autonomous system number (ASN) and ISP associated with the IP address
ISP                              Microsoft Hosting
Organization                     Microsoft Hosting
Autonomous system number (ASN)  8075
Autonomous system organization   Microsoft Corporation
Anonymous proxy?                No
Satellite provider?              No

And the best I’m looking for is for the information to be consistent. So, while I won’t know whether the Autonomous System Number 8075 is accurate, I do know that I pulled the Remote Address from the iexplore.exe line, that iexplore.exe is the Internet Explorer app, and that it’s owned by Microsoft. So, as far as I can tell, everything is checking out OK.

While you couple probably write a book on this topic, I hope this brief introduction shows you there are ways you can tell what’s going on … and that you should! Happy hunting and I hope all your travels on the Internet are safe.

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Fall is coming

Posted by joeabbott on October 9, 2017

Seattle actually has a drought climate for 3-4 months out of the year. That’s forgotten most of the time as the other 8-9 months are spent in varying degrees of rain and now the rains are back. A curious matter that in equal parts bemuses and amuses me is the fact that, when the rains first start returning, they only appear on the weekend


While the forecasts are often wrong, it’s surprising how often we get these sorts of predictions.

Fall is coming.

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When I get serious about blogging, I’ll follow this advice

Posted by joeabbott on April 30, 2017

I get a surprising amount of information\news from Twitter these days. I’d originally avoided the service as my perception was that it was a place people went to post things like “I hate rude people” and “Ate a great sandwich just now”. The sort of comments that aren’t really helpful or entertaining. But, since joining, lurking, and curating folks I follow who caters to my interests, I find it both helpful and entertaining. At some time in the past couple weeks, this came across my feed:


I don’t follow Darren, so I got the item as something someone else shared, but I’m a fanatic about writing well. Unfortunately, I rarely edit my posts and so, upon rereading them, I feel I very much need this sort of advice. Darren’s Twitter post then links out to this page, which contains the 9 crucial tips. While I encourage you to read the original post, I’ll summarize his nine tips here, with a few notes from my experience:

  1. Plan before you write – aaagh … I fail the first rule!
  2. Avoid editing while writing – agree … I often let things sit for a day or two before getting back to it
  3. Don’t go straight from writing into editing – yup … your head is still too into what you’d just said to be objective
  4. Edit the big picture first
  5. Cut down the introduction – this is a place I often suffer (I start a post about one thing and wander off to another)
  6. Add a call to action
  7. Don’t let spellcheck do your proofreading
  8. Don’t agonizing over making it perfect
  9. Preview the post and check the formatting

That’s it: just some simple tips that may or may not work for you. A lot depends on whether you’re writing a blog, but most of the tips are solid enough to work against any writing you do. Thanks for dropping in.

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Now that’s pretty cool–weather influences in your area

Posted by joeabbott on April 30, 2017

I save snippets and websites throughout the week when I come across them at work and, those I think are interesting, are sent to my home email address. Not all are winners … I just discarded a list of “15 things Kurt Vonnegut said better than anyone” (it was interesting but just didn’t inspire me as I thought it would) … but a simple link I’d sent myself filled me with a sort of sense of magic; the kind of thing that makes me happy we have the Internet. Here’s the link:

That was all I’d forwarded to myself and, on clicking it, I silently smiled a minute or two as I scrolled around the site. Here’s the sort of image you’ll see:

Zooming in shows local effects from terrain, let’s you see what’s happening in your area, and is just fun to play with. In addition to tracking wind, the site allows you to look at temperatures, precipitation, cloud cover, and pressures. Add to that the ability to see a forecast over days and even show weather at various elevations and this is one cool website. On top of all this: no ads. Yup, as of this writing, none. Love that. LOVE. You never realize just how tired you are of this model of monetization until you get to a clean site that’s truly useful but doesn’t have a sidebar widget trying to sell you the last thing you looked at on Amazon.

I hope you find a little time to play around on the site. I’m not a weather nerd but but found this to be both interesting and well done. Kudos to the developers!

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