Sedges have edges, rushes are roundWed, 28th Jun '23, 12:25 pm::

Last year, our focus was on setting up the inside of our house. We spent most of the year under construction with dust and debris covering one room or other. We continued the construction earlier this year and finally had everything done by mid May, just over a month ago. Since then, our focus has been outdoors, especially since the weather has been nice here.

Both Juliet and I were pretty familiar with the natural flora of Florida but we have almost no knowledge of the vegetation here in the mid-west. Last month we were fortunate to have Mr. Ders Anderson, president of The Land Conservancy of McHenry County stop by and educate us on the plants we have around our house. He pointed out a number of invasive species that we should eradicate, lest they snuff out the native plants. He showed me the healthy sedges we have and suggested we should plant more. Sedges look like grass but they're not grass. Rushes also look like grass, but they are neither grass, nor sedges. Here's how to tell them apart:

    Sedges have edges,
        Rushes are round,
    Grasses have nodes
        from the top to the ground.

I am not deeply into gardening or growing my own vegetables but I respect others who are. For my taste, I just want native, non-invasive vegetation around me so that we can help local wildlife, including birds, bees, and all sorts of insects and worms. And above all, I don't want the invasive species take over the native ones. So we're learning as much as we can, so that hopefully over the years, we can become a refuge for countless migratory birds and butterflies as well as a shelter for fireflies, humming birds, and rare plants.

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Call Me MaybeFri, 2nd Jun '23, 11:40 pm::

Juliet doesn't always keep her phone or smartwatch nearby when she is home. Normally it is not a problem since she does not get any urgent calls from the kids' schools or doctors, as those go to me. But I get pretty annoyed if I try to call her when I'm away from home and get her voicemail instead.

Not anymore! Thanks to the wonders of technology, I have figured out the perfect way to annoy her back and have her call me immediately. I hooked up a Sonos to the dozen in-wall speakers we have throughout our house and can use Spotify to blast a song at full volume no matter where I am in the world. Naturally, my song of choice is Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen.

Who needs a landline when you have Sonos?! Surprisingly, just as I was typing this, I realized that we do have a landline! It's the emergency line for the elevator via Ooma. I know landlines are a thing of the past and pretty boring in general but Ooma's tech and pricing is pretty cool. You buy the equipment online and they give you a phone number and service for free, with the only monthly payment being taxes and FCC charges (around $7 for my location). Their equipment is well-designed and cleverly solves the reliability vs. reach problem.

So here's the problem I needed to solve: The elevator's emergency phone line required an old-school landline connection over an RJ-11 phone cord. I cannot easily get a standard landline where I live so my only choice was cellphone or internet-based phone. Cellular phones do not have RJ-11 ports and even if I found one that did, cell service is not dependable indoors, at least not for life-and-death matters. This left internet-based phone service as my only option, but most VOIP (voice-over-internet) services offer phones that connect to standard Ethernet (RJ-45) and there's no cheap "adapter" to go from one to the other, at least not stably for an emergency phone. Additionally, the elevator's control box where the phone line would plug in, is far from my router. Now while I do have good wi-fi all over the house and even the yard, VOIP over wi-fi may work for casual usage but I would not recommend it for emergency phones.

That's why after looking online for months, I was elated to come across Ooma. They offer a base-station ($50 refurbished on Amazon) that plugs into your router with an Ethernet cord and a compatible wireless phone jack with a RJ-11 port (another $50 on Amazon) that can talk to the base-station over RF, without using your home wi-fi. This means I could keep the base-station in my network cabinet, mount the wireless phone jack right next to the elevator's control box, and get reliable phone service without pulling a new RJ-11 cable all across the house. And that's exactly what I did and it works great. It even has a dial-tone with pulse-dialing!

If blasting Carly doesn't work out next time, I might have to call our elevator's emergency line to get Juliet's attention!

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