Not in my Neighborhood ~ Homeless Squatters

“You can spend the money on new housing for poor people and the homeless, or you can spend it on a football stadium or a golf course.” ~ Jello Biafra

abandonedHouseRecently some homeless people were discovered squatting in a house that used to belong to Sam, an older neighbor. There’s a lot of land on this property but the house was never really finished. You see, Sam couldn’t get a permit to redo his septic system because it was too close to a river. He had about 20 tires holding down a tarp on the roof after some storm damage destroyed it’s efficacy. This is not a pretty house. And the county access standoffs for rivers (150 yards either side) and the gas pipeline (50 yards either side) really cut into the available property for building.

Much to the neighborhood’s satisfaction, the county immediately decided to purchase the property to turn it back into a natural growth preserve. But the price point was going back and forth and a year later the two sides had not come to an agreement. To make it even more interesting a third party had a lean on the property. Turns out someone loaned ol’ Sam $300,000 for his house and property a few years before he died. Note, they apparently approved the loan without looking at the property because, even on it’s best day, it’s not worth very much.

PoliceAbout a week ago, two young men started squatting on the property. They were brazen, unapologetically parking their bicycles in the front on the building, entertaining older men who should have known better, and using candles at night in the house that could be seen by the neighbors. Eventually the county and police got involved and after escorting the boys off the property twice, they just kept coming back.

Today on our daily walk we saw that the county had sent a work crew to put up plywood over the windows and bar the doors. They had already put up huge Jersey barriers to keep the cars and trucks from parking there to loot the empty building. The county says they intend to tear the building down if they are allowed to buy it. The house straddles the creek. So this would be a very good thing on many levels.

This activity has really opened my eyes, I really thought we didn’t really have homeless in my backyard. No, really. I remember watching a nature show about coyotes and seeing a map of where they are. Guess what? They are everywhere and as nocturnal animals, most of us have no clue. This map isn’t the same one I saw, but it gives you an idea of how ubiquitous that creature is.

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So I wonder how ubiquitous the homeless are. Look at this, especially if you think you don’t have much homelessness in your state:

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My state has the 7th largest number of homeless people. Who knew? The number one state is Hawaii, I bet there is a back story about that. Bottom line, given any night, homeless people are most likely moving about in your neighborhood. They are looking for food, easily stolen items for quick cash, and opportunities to find a place to sleep for the night or longer.

In our community we have a number of shelters, but I’m guessing a lot of the transient do not want to stay there. Most homeless are people who have been given up on by family and friends. A scary percentage of the are not sane at the worst and less than trustworthy at best. At what point will the numbers of transients get high enough that communities will have find solutions to protect their population?

securitycamsI have a lot of security suggestions for anyone who wants to discuss that. But the top three things that I recommend are:

1. Know your neighbors: communicate, share contact info, be helpful.

2. Assuming you are a decent person, own a dog. My dogs have always alerted me to people on/near our property way before I would normally notice. Since she sleeps by my bed, we help each other in so many other ways too.

3. Make your house more secure than other houses. The old joke about the bear (I don’t have to run faster than the bear, just faster than you) comes to mind. Deadbolts, motion-sensor lights, security system … you know the drill, can convince a potential thief that another house would be easier to break into.

But perhaps most importantly, be aware. Be aware of your surroundings, new vehicles in the neighborhood, people where they should not be. Report these to the owners asap, that is how we got rid of this group of homeless people. In most cases, it’s the oblivious types who end up becoming victims. Be safe out there.

Posted in Bothell, Community, Education, Government, My World, Politics, Security, United States | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Bunny and Duck Love

How strange that Nature does not knock, and yet does not intrude! ~ Emily Dickinson

Baby Bunny IIISuzy and I were on our morning walk and were surprised during the one mile travail to find two bunnies running about. We live near a protected wetland and we are used to seeing all the birds. We’ve even seen coyotes. But the bunnies are rare for the most part.

Living next to large greenbelts can be hard to do. We always strive to find them when we are buying a new house. The last time we purchased our current home, we ended up next to a North Creek preserve with a water retention pond on one side. We were worried about the potential of the pond breeding insects, but because of the frogs, birds, and such, insects have never been a problem.

ducklingsSo every year we get a new crop of baby ducks to peek in on. Breaking our rule to NOT feed wildlife except for with bird feeders, we have been feeding the ducks in the pond cracked corn ONLY during the breeding season. We did this after the first year when we had to fish out dead baby ducklings. That was not fun and something that we did not want to happen again on our watch.

This year some predator got all ten ducklings. One day they were newly hatched and happy and the next day they were mysteriously gone. After 4 years at this location, that was a first for us. Nature can be a brutal place.

Posted in Bothell,, Conservation, Everyday Science, My World, Quote | Leave a comment

G+ Hangout & Circle Review

Twice and thrice over, as they say, good is it to repeat and review what is good. ~ Plato

I have been using Google’s G+ for a while now, but recently I started playing with Circles and Hangouts. After having a profile for a while that I rarely used, it was fun to delve in and explore.

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Hangouts are relatively easy, all you do is navigate to a friend’s profile and then click on the Hangout icon.

image If they are online a dialog will open and you can start a conversation. Note, if you are in the email part of Google you can’t add pictures. In the profile section you can and this can be helpful if you subscribe to the “a picture can be worth a 1000 words” theory. You can also add other people to the hangout if you wish.

Once you have opened a hangout, and especially if you populated with some of your fav people, you can always get back to it from your email window.

Circles have proven to be more difficult to many people out there. Apparently using help is not the first step anyone wants to take. After you have signed on go to: https://plus.google.com/circles where you will find your circles.

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If you select the circle with a + in it you can add a new circle. Then you name it and add some people to the group. When you share a picture, link, or video to your profile you can select your audience by use of these circles. Only the people in those group will be able to see your post.

I am by no means an expert in the use of G+. But understanding these two concepts have really helped me to target my shares and meet some interesting people. Good luck!

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Rust as an Art Form

“Sunday clears away the rust of the whole week.” ~ Joseph Addison

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I’ve recently discovered I have a thing about rust. It’s everywhere. It spawns comments from me like, “It’s so ugly, it’s beautiful.”

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rust3    rust2

Rust is an iron oxide, usually red oxide formed by the redox reaction of iron and oxygen in the presence of water or air moisture. Several forms of rust are distinguishable both visually and by spectroscopy, and form under different circumstances.

Given sufficient time, oxygen, and water, any iron mass will eventually convert entirely to rust and disintegrate. Surface rust is flaky and friable, and it provides no protection to the underlying iron, unlike the formation of patina on copper surfaces. Rusting is the common term for corrosion of iron and its alloys, such as steel. Many other metals undergo equivalent corrosion, but the resulting oxides are not commonly called rust.

Other forms of rust exist, like the result of reactions between iron and chloride in an environment deprived of oxygen – rebar used in underwater concrete pillars is an example – which generates green rust.

Happy Sunday peeps.

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The Naked Truth

Gandalfe:

Would you be brave enough to do this?

“The terrible poetry of human nudity, I understand it at last, I who tremble for the first time in trying to read it with blasé eyes.” ~ Rachilde, Monsieur Venus: A Materialist Novel

“I suddenly realize that I’m naked, which shouldn’t bother me since it’s the phone, but for some reason it does.

“How’s it hanging?” Kyra asks and now I think I’m blushing. It’s just an expression, but jeez!” ~ Barry Lyga, The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl

Originally posted on notquiteold:

WARNING:  I hate the thought of offending anyone, so if you do not want to read about lots of man-parts and lady-parts, please come back on a different day.

I considered not writing this at all, but an author-friend of mine said, “Are you crazy? All that fabulous material – and you aren’t going to use it???”  She had a point.

I also wrote a completely different version of this experience – concentrating on the silliest aspects. I’ve always prided myself on my superior silliness skills. But after I re-read what I had written, I thought it was too trivial – even for me – the Queen of Trivial.

Sure I can play it for laughs. But I think there is something to SAY.

So here goes.

When my husband and I vacationed in Jamaica recently, we took a side trip. We got ourselves a day pass to a…

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Music Accoutrements

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Finding that *Perfect* Community Band

I was born with music inside me. Music was one of my parts. Like my ribs, my kidneys, my liver, my heart. Like my blood. It was a force already within me when I arrived on the scene. It was a necessity for me – like food or water. ~ Ray Charles

DSCF1398In 2002, when I was returning to music after a 30-year hiatus, I used the Community Band and Orchestra Contact list to identify the many, many community bands in the Seattle and surrounding area.

Most of the community bands at the time had either no Web presence, or a limited Web page that basically gave you a phone number or e-mail to contact. I had no idea what the bands played and who they wanted to attract, let alone the audition requirements, if any.

So I picked the Woodinville band and jazz ensemble because it also had a jazz band. At the time it was directed by a phenomenal sax performer and former high school band director, Ray Guyll. When I called the membership phone number, Terri answered.

Hi, I’m thinking about joining a community band.

That’s great, what instrument do you play?

Sax. How do I audition?

Do you own an instrument?

Yes.

Just show up for practice.

That year we did a very jazzy season finale concert with Greta Matassa and her combo, Eric Kloss saxophonist extraordinaire, and both the concert band and jazz ensemble at the Kirkland Performance Center. I purchased tickets for my extended family and friends. The concert was the best concert band concert I have ever been in yet and I even had a short solo in the beginning of ‘Blue Ridge Autumn’.

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Here is an excellent sample of what this band has grown up to be under the direction of our current director, Leah: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKUHUxo7ZhM

Since I joined this band, I have made it a point to hear and/or sit in with a lot of the other local community bands. I have yet to find one that I enjoy as much as the WCB.  The Woodinville Community Band has musicians from Jr. High age to players in their 80s. There are all levels of accomplishment, but most sections have a music major or two to hold the section down and teach the newbies.

Selecting a community band and making the decision whether to return to music performance is fraught with lots of decisions to make. Do I take lessons to get back in shape? Can I devote the time necessary to do a good job? Would I be a valuable asset to the band? Whatever you do, consider supporting your local band with attendance and donations. They will really appreciate it.

Posted in Band, Community, FAQ, Guides, WCB | Tagged | 1 Comment