Backyard Birds and Then There are the Squirrels

Staying around the house leaves lots of time to watch what is going on with the Bird Feeders. I thought there were mostly House Finches and Sparrows in the yard, but it seems I was wrong. There are more birds than I would have imagined cruising through the back yard. And we live about two and one-half miles from the wild.

Two pair of Curved Bill Thrashers have made the backyard their part time home. I Spotted a Ladder backed Woodpecker trying to get to the Hummingbird juice the other day. A rather striking bird to say the least. Of course there are Hummingbirds, mostly Broad Tailed Hummingbirds, but occasionally, though not this year, a Rufous Hummingbird or two stake out their territorial claims in late June. They are very aggressive. I think they may get blown in from storms coming from the west.

Not there for the bird food are a few Road Runners , who hunt lizards and mice when they can find them. I think I may have a post about Road Runners walking with me on the walking path hoping I would scare them up some lunch.

Of the larger birds, there are several varieties of Doves. There are also Gambels Quail ,though only a few as I do not put out food for them specifically. Along the path where I walk, at one house there will be thirty or forty eating out their quail feeder. Quite a sight!

Then there are the squirrels, Rock Squirrels to be precise.

Someone in the family wanted to feed them, and puts out peanuts for them. I went out one night to water some shrubs and found a lot more than squirrels were feasting on peanuts. There were over a dozen very healthy looking roaches at the peanut buffet.

The ruling was we keep feeding the squirrels, so it was up to me to find an acceptable way to feed the Squirrels and not the roaches. I went to a local Birding store, and found the most interesting squirrel feeder. It’s called a Squirrel Box, and it is about as it sounds.

For those who feel the need to entertain Squirrels

















As you can see from the picture it is a wood box with a plexiglass front. The other choices were not appealing, so Squirrel Box it was. In case anyone is curious, Squirrel Box is not compensating me for this. I asked how the Squirrels get in, and the Owner told me they learn to lift the lid.

I know squirrels are smart, but that is like opening a camping cooler top. I bought one, but had my doubts. I put it out in the yard, put some peanuts in it and waited. The first squirrel showed up. It didn’t approach, but hid and examined. Then it left. About forty minutes later, there was a squirrel with it head inside the box, pulling out peanuts and eating them like a child with candy, only faster.

By the second day, all three or four of the squirrels were experts at getting their peanuts. But the Curved Bill Thrashers were not happy, and would hit the glass on the patio sliding door. Adding the door hitting to their cries of complain, it was obvious they were not happy with the peanut situation.

I have about about forty pounds of cracked corn that goes to feeding the ducks at the park and I put some of that out on a large upturned planter to keep the roaches away. They found it the next day, and now everything in the back yard is happy. Except maybe the Ladder Back Woodpecker. The temperature is hitting the mid to upper nineties, I am not about to put suet blocks to have a Woodpecker hang around. I am starting to feel like I am running a free restaurant as it is.

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Linux Can’t Connect to Your Local Network – Solved

When Linux is not working right for you, it is frustrating. For some problems, there are hundreds of pages with information telling you how to fix your problem. Most of the time, most of the advice is wrong.

One of my biggest frustrations for some time, was connecting to the local network. I searched and found many, many suggestions ranging from the simple, to the absurd and the complex – with key steps missing.

When Linux works for you, it’s a joy, when it doesn’t, well

The answer like most things Linux is very simple. I just happened to be directed to the correct web page. Thunar file manager is capable in it’s own right.

The distribution you and I are using, runs the balance of being a productive system, and allowing the whole system to be destroyed. At times that is a tricky balance. What is good for you, may be dangerous for me.

Back to connecting to the local network. If like me, you looked around the Internet, you may have found you can connect to your local network through your web browser. You can also pull your own teeth with a pair of pliers. Very painful, but it can be done.

Here is a simple fix, that should help most people with this problem. In your distribution’s repository there should be a file named, “GVFS-BACKEND”. In your repository it may be named a little differently, but it should be there.

Download and install, GVFS-Backend, restart your computer, and your local network is a mouse click or two away. Enjoy!

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Thunderbird Comcast Connection Refused – Solved

I am changing my computer over from my old Imac, to a Linux based computer as mentioned in a previous post . Everything worked as expected, except I could not connect to Comcast email servers. I copied and entered the settings from Thunderbird Email on my Imac and connection was refused.

After downloading and trying several distribution as I thought it was a Debian problem, I found the problem was uniformly consistent. Connection refused.

I used the alternate Imap settings and connection was refused. I have been calling Comcast and speaking with support for a few days now. Today, I was redirected from Comcast to a Thunderbird support person. Thought I was going to be reading email in a flash.

The Thunderbird person after listening informed me, that their support was only for Microsoft products and not Linux.

If you are having connection issues….










For the umpteenth time I searched the Internet for a fix. This time I searched for” “thunderbird comcast connection issues”. On the second or third page of results I found the magic key (post).

Comcast email servers will not accept IPV6 connections as they have not been upgraded to IPV6. You have to change the settings in Thunderbird, actually down grade them. The standard IPV6 setting has to be turned off, which then reverts to IPV4. Below is a copy of the post from the Ask Ubuntu Help forums:

Part of the greatest Linux knowledge base on the web!






Comcast servers will not except IPv6…. Disable it in Thunderbird:

Here’s how: in Thunderbird, goto Edit>Preferences>General Tab.

On the General screen, select “advanced” tab > “General” subtab, and in the lower right corner find the button “Config Editor” Click on it,

acknowledge the warning, and scroll a long ways down to:

network.dns.disableIPv6 (default: false)

Double-click on the line, and the value will change to “true”

Back out and Okay, shut down and restart Thunderbird, and your client will connect to the imap server in a flash.

Not to turn this post into an alien chase but, “The answers are out there if you look hard enough and use the correct phrasing”.

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Debian Linux Saves Me Serious Money Verses a New iMac

The view into iMac land is a little hazy looking forward these days. My beloved, at least eight year old iMac is becoming a one program at a time computer. I think Apple has allowed their software to become so bloated, that it is in its own way, provides planned obsolescence by software bloat.

I was considering buying a new iMac. I wasn’t splurging, I was looking at a 21.5″ model that could take at least 16 gigabytes of memory. Apple however is playing games with this model. Under powered under ram supplied for a lot of money, or what is needed for almost five-hundred dollars more.

Don’t get me wrong, Apple makes awesome computers. Normally, a new iMac could be expected to be around perhaps ten years in most cases. This year, that may not be the case. Apple also has what is now a very small slice of the computer market. Since Apple has declared they will be moving away from the Intel platform and will start using ARM chips, the fate of a current iMac purchase is questionable in my opinion, though several known writers disagree. Only Apple holds the crystal ball for their products.

Plus there is the software problem. IMac software offerings, compared to almost any other platform beyond an e reader is minute. If there is a program you want, it is probably expensive. With a few exceptions, the program you really want runs on a Windows PC. That being said, if it works for you the iMac is the best computer out there, bar none. Once again however, it is time for me to leave iMac land behind.

After some thinking about what I really want on my old and slow iMac, it is the security. iMac’s because they have such a small market share are fairly immune from being hacked. There are better and easier targets out there. I use a program that is a sibling of Notational Velocity, a simple to use note storage program. I store everything important in it. Passwords and other information I want to keep on hand for easy access.

This is my expensive new iMac substitute. On my Windows PC, I installed a Linux distribution that offers disk encryption. Any time the computer is not on, the data is encrypted. The distribution I picked, Debian Linux, is one I have used for years. It is rock solid, and only has a little more than the minimum wanted software.

Stodgy and initially bland, Debian Linux is a superb Operating System

I installed Zim Wiki for notes my passwords and notes storage. I like Zim Wiki because in Linux at least each note is stored independently as a text file. Zim Wiki also makes my notes easy to find. I can remove Zim Wiki and still have the notes files.

Last but not least, and this may be overkill as my computer is behind a router, I installed a firewall. The firewall, named GUFW is about as painless and brainless as humanly possible to use. It is installed and turned on. Set it and forget it. Turn it on and turn it off if you need occasional access to a local network.

The short term downside to all this is looks. Debian Linux, though rock solid is ugly starting with the really boring blue/green/grey wallpapers. I will spend some hours improving it’s looks starting with a dock named Plank. Plank is a simple to use dock where you can add and launch programs from.

All in all, I am trading some hours of improving the looks of the desktop for the price of a new imac. I think I can afford the hours. Debian Linux is not a friendly distribution. There is no big happy forum where people will regurgitate the same information over and over. MX Linux, one of the hottest Linux Distributions available today, is Debian Linux based, and four times the correct choice for most users. It is a matter of choice, though. Install Debian and add and remove a few programs, or use another Linux Distribution adding a few favorite programs, and removing many most users will never use.

If it wasn’t for the shortfalls of what an iMac offers me based on price and my needs, I would be purchasing a new iMac tomorrow. For a few hours tweaking, I am saving some serious money for computer security and ease of use which provides more value for my needs and wants.

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Racism is a Symptom of a Condition

Racism won’t end until the Human Race becomes all one shade of people who all look the same. I remember as a kid, coming home from school and asking my folks what this new word was. By the age of thirteen, I am sure I knew almost every non racist word by which one person could call another person to put them down.

I was a white kid in a white neighborhood, in a mostly white city, and all the words and expressions I knew were words applied to other white people in other white neighborhoods depending on their looks and body shape. That didn’t include the ethnic slurs, depending on what part of the mostly all white city I was in in the moment.

I wasn’t aware enough to realize it as a kid, and before I grew light feet and wanted to wander around the country, I thought only white people talked about white people and other people. Travel around a bit, or in today’s world wander the Internet, and you will hear or find exhaustive lists of words, with new words created almost daily, of how one Human Being can describe another in a derogatory manner.

I was past my teen years before I experienced racism in person. I worked with a mix of people from many ethnic groups, and I was close with some of them. I found no one ethnic group or skin color had the market cornered on racism, just as no one group has the market share of body shaming or intelligence demeaning adjectives used to describe others.

In some cases classifying people is not even driven by emotion. It is driven by a Human need to classify all people into two main and several sub groups, starting with, “Like me or not like me”. Everything after that is even smaller subgroups consisting of why someone is not like me.

Racism is a symptom of the Human condition

Living in the Southwest, there is a fair representation of people of various ethnic backgrounds. People from all over the country and all over the world. Depending on the person, I have seen and experienced  love, hatred and indifference in every ethnic group of people.

One day, many years ago, I was doing volunteer work in a local non white community. There was a tug on my pants leg, and I looked down to see a little girl, maybe three tugging on my pant-leg. When I looked at her, she asked my in all seriousness, “Are you a real White Person?”.

The Parent gave me an embarrassed look, and hustled to the little girl out of the room before she said something more embarrassing. I remember as a child, a little white boy telling a little black boy, “You need to go home and wash your face, it is dirty. These examples are an aside to what I heard as people describe other people they do not like. You have heard it too.

We can march down the streets and protest racism. We can burn down city blocks, refuse to go to overtly racist areas, whether they are neighborhoods, or states, but ending racism is not going to be done in a summer.

I listened to a Black Women on NPR telling me how I think. Now, really, what does this Women really know about what I think, other than her own perception? Only through the stereotype of her lens can she process what I think. The same lens, the Woman on NPR claimed she does not want to be judged by.?

I am reminded weekly if not more often, I really do not know what people who are close to me really think, until something is said, that makes me know how little I really know them and how they or what they think.Yet, some people, such as the Woman on NPR, have their minds made up on how you and I think about other people.

Maybe I am guilty of the same? Have I sliced and diced and classified people so many times a day over so many years that I am not even aware I do it? Rich, poor, tall, short, fat or thin, maybe labeling people is so familiar to me I am not even aware I do it. Maybe I am only a normal human who can look at the haters as statistical fliers, because I am not them, or am I?

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