Category Archives: Communications

When Life Gives You No Lemons, Make No Lemonade

Actually, life gave us quite a lot of lemons initially this year, and Satsuma oranges, too. It’s how they wound up being distributed that is, I think, noteworthy.

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Maybe I shouldn’t bitch. I still have a couple dozen “ice cubes” of lemon juice in the freezer from last year’s crop – lemon zest, too. I have the biggest canning jar you’ve ever seen, crammed full of lemons preserved in salt, the peel from which will add zinging flavor to many salads, stews and soups to come.

We’ve been eating Satsumas since Thanksgiving, and this year they were juicy and sweet.

Really, both trees have finally hit their stride, and provided dozens, maybe even hundreds of fruit. So I used as much as I could, then started giving the fruit away – baskets to the neighbors, bags to relatives. Bags to people who came to the door.

First, two women from somewhere in the neighborhood, one asking in broken English if those were my oranges. Yes. “Would it be all right if I picked one?” she asked. No, I told her, you have to take several, and some for your friend. “What kind of oranges are those?” she asked, pointing to the lemons. “Those are lemons, would you like some of those, too?” “Could I,” she asked. “Sure,” I said, leave some for me, but take some.” “Can I come back sometime and pick the ones that are touching the ground?” she asked. “Otherwise they might go bad.”

Two days later, a man identifying himself as the first woman’s husband asked for some oranges “for him,” gesturing to an older gentleman who spoke only Spanish. And some lemons, too? “OK,” I said, “go ahead, but leave some for me.”

The next day, two more men were at the door. They had heard about the free oranges and lemons and wanted in on the action. “I used to mow your neighbor’s lawn when that other lady lived there,” one of the men told me. “Can I come back another time for some lemons?” Yes, I was still saying yes to everything. I glanced out the window to see him and his partner filling too plastic shopping bags full of Satsumas, then another with lemons.

Then the lawn mower came back and asked for lemons the following day. Yes, yes, OK.

Did I forget to say “leave me some”? Maybe word got around that it was open season on our trees. I took a day trip to the farm to put up a cable dog run for Boo the wonder pup, came home tired, went to bed early. The next morning, upon pulling out of the driveway to take the kids to school, I noticed the lemon and orange trees had been stripped bare. Despite all the recent pickings, there had been at least 100 lemons still on the tree, and probably almost that many Satsumas.

Kinda pissed me off and took some of the bloom off of my Christmas spirit.

I’m trying to get over it. Maybe one of the folks who stopped by earlier believed they’d been given permission to come back for more, pounded on the door, determined I wasn’t home and figured I wouldn’t mind if they helped themselves, since obviously I was just giving the fruit away anyhow. (And mostly, I was, although Meyer lemons reach their peak of flavor in January, and my intention was to let plenty of them ripen up on their own out there.) Maybe whoever hauled off all that citrus gave most of it away to their extended family and neighbors, and didn’t put it up for sale along the roadside.

Maybe the Universe saw that we had more of a thing than we could use ourselves, and the Universe saw some others with less, and did what the Universe does by balancing things out.

Maybe, but I have to confess it still kinda pisses me off.

Also posted in Food, Fruit, Nobody Gets It Like They Want It To Be, Uncategorized

Tweak

So it didn’t take me long before I grew weary of those full-screen slideshows on my homepage. Lets do it this way for awhile, OK? I do think many photos look best displayed as large as possible, though. To that end, I’ll probably add another page just to house a full-page gallery…

Also posted in Writing

Them Changes

OK, this is kind of like when you buy or rent a new house but not all the furniture has arrived yet.

Patience, my friends, I’m still trying to figure out how much cupboard and closet space I have, and where to put everything…

Also posted in Art, Writing

Filtering Out Mobile Spam

I don’t know if you can do this with a Windows PC, as I dumped that failed proprietary computer operating system long ago in favor of Linux. With a Linux PC and either your own mail server or a friendly Internet service provider, I’ve found that you can cobble together a system that so far has removed 100% of the spam email from my mobile phone.

This was a big deal to me, as I have multiple email accounts and use email heavily to get things done. On my desktop, I run a Linux email client program called Claws Mail, which is pretty great once its set up properly. It comes with two different spam filtering systems, one of which catches probably 90% of the spam sent my way.

But until very recently, I was snowed under with spam when checking my email accounts via my cell phone. For whatever reason, email apps for the Android operating system (and as far as I know for Apple phones as well) are unable to filter out spam. My spam load was so heavy that it could take me 10 minutes to go through a haystack of email before I found the one needle that was not spam.

Then, I gave it some thought and did this:

First, I created a new email account on my email server, with a name that for this post I’ll call spamfree@mydomain.com. Then, I went in to my phone’s email app, K-9 Mail, and removed all five of the email accounts I’d been monitoring. Then I added a single account to the phone – spamfree@mydomain.com.

This next part took some time, but to me it was worth it. In my desktop email client, Claws Mail, I have the ability to “filter” email messages according to a variety of conditions, such as who a message is from, who it is to, what the subject is, etc. I can have Claws Mail move certain messages to certain “mailboxes” to keep related messages or, say, family email, separate from the rest.

It turns out Claws Mail also can forward or redirect any email, based on the conditions above. This was the key to my system.

I set up my email filter rules so that any email from certain senders whom I consider important will be redirected to my spamfree@mydomain.com account. Thus, if my wife or one of my kids, or other relatives, or my friends, or contractors or business partners sends me an email, I will still get it on my phone. Voicemail also gets through to the phone, as do text messages.

But the spam crap that makes up probably 97% of my total email volume cannot get through to my cell phone. Instead, it is filtered into the spambox on my desktop computer.

The system isn’t perfect. On occasion I will get a legitimate email message from someone whom I never have met before, and such email will not make it to my phone. Really that’s not such a big deal, as I can answer that mail when I get home.

The biggest flaw in this new system probably is the fact that it won’t work unless I keep my home computer up and running all the time when I’m away. This can leave my computer vulnerable to thunder storms, which is a consideration I need to ponder.

But otherwise, the spam-load this has taken off of my phone is pretty impressive.

Also posted in Geek