How to Catch a Mouse!

•March 23, 2014 • Leave a Comment


I fought mice for 4 years, never succeeding at catching even one.  I tried all different kinds of traps (including “humane” and “inhumane”), with no success at all.  They antagonized me — 4 years of getting into our food, eating holes in our clothes, destroying mops, eating holes in the walls and cabinets, eating every house-plant I ever put out and scattering their parts all over, leaving their droppings everywhere, and keeping me awake at night by their scritching and scratching and scurrying.

Then, on Mar 16 of 2014, after more than 4 years of this, a mouse caught itself!  I heard a strange noise on the porch in the little shelter I’d built to hide the recyclables — most of which are kept in used dog-food bags.  I cautiously opened the lid to the little shelter expecting anything, and found a little brown mouse at the bottom of a large dog-food bag.  The sides of the bag were too slick for it to climb up, and the bag was too tall for it to jump out (it tried, and it could jump to an amazing height relative to its size, but still not high enough to get out of a large dog-food bag).  It must’ve gone into the bag to get at the 3-4 pieces of dog-food that were left in it, and then panicked.

So they can be trapped!  This is a turning-point.

I was kind enough to take the dog-food bag out into the yard, and dump the mouse out; I then re-placed the dog-food bag in the recyclables-shelter.  Perhaps 24 hours later, I noticed there was a hole in the bottom of that dog-food bag, so either the mouse I caught or another one evidently was in the bag, and this time ate its way out of the bag.  So what that means is that if you’re not there pretty quick, this method of mouse-trapping will not be effective.  But the one I trapped made so much noise, that I think even if it had trapped itself in the middle of the night, I would’ve been awakened.  I am wondering whether putting the dog-food bag inside something much harder would be useful.


Kind of cute, despite the frustration they’ve caused me.  See the 2 white bands on its tail?  Anyway, as “a better mousetrap” is something humanity’s been looking for since time immemorial, I thought I had a duty to share this.

Charlotte’s and paul’s Blog but mostly Charlotte

•January 12, 2014 • Leave a Comment

DSC04833  DSC04098

When it is cold out side you probably are scared about your out side pets. Sometimes its too HOT and some times its too COLD. Well my dad has to go and this is his computer so look up MORE blogs.

genealogy: Rena Jaro

•July 29, 2012 • 2 Comments

name & relationship to me:

   Acc. to family sources such as my father, my aunt, and my grandmother Maud Gough New (who was Rena Jaro’s daughter-in-law): Rena Jaro was my great-grandmother (father’s father’s mother).

   acc. to 1910 US Census: My grandfather is listed as their child.



   acc. to family sources: Her maiden name was Rena Jaro, and her married name was Rena New.



   acc. to her tombstone (which I have visited): Mar 24, 1889


   acc. to the 1900 census: Mar 1889



   acc. to family sources: She was born in South Carolina, and moved to Winston-Salem, NC in the 1920’s with her husband James New.

   acc. to 1900 census: South Carolina

   acc. to my father’s 3rd cousin Bonner Sasser, citing North Carolina Death Certificates, 1909-1975.  Record for Rena Jaro New: Edgefield County, South Carolina



   acc. to family sources: Martin Gary Jaro and Carrie Palmer.  Carrie died fairly young, and after that, Martin Gary Jaro married Carrie’s sister Cleopatra, so Rena Jaro’s Aunt Cleopatra became her stepmother.

   acc. to 1900 census: Gary Jaro is listed as head of household and Cleopatra is listed as his wife.



birth–order, sibs:

   acc. to a family picture, with names on the back: There were 5 children: Janie Bell, Bud, Lucy, Frank, and Rena.  Lucy appeared to be the oldest, and Frank appeared to be the youngest.


picture provided by my father’s Aunt Margaret Esther:



back of picture:


   acc. to 1900 census: Rena was the oldest of 4 children.  (See scan of 1900 census above.)

   my take: Something is amiss when comparing the family picture to the 1900 census.  If Lucy was the oldest, why didn’t she show up in the 1900 census?  Also, some of the other names and birthdates on the 1900 census do not seem to match the family picture.



   Acc. to family sources: Rena Jaro’s husband was James New.

   acc. to her tombstone, which I have visited: Rena J. New is buried with James New.

ACC. TO MY FATHER’S 3RD COUSIN BONNER SASSER, CITING 1920 U. S. Federal Census, Bordeaux, McCormick County, South Carolina: Rena Jaro married James New



ACC. TO MY FATHER’S 3RD COUSIN BONNER SASSER, CITING 1920 U. S. Federal Census, Bordeaux, McCormick County, South Carolina: before 1909



   (): (?)


children of Rena Jaro:

   acc. to my father:

1. Paul New, b. Feb 10, 1909 in McCormick, SC

2. Carolyn “Lucille” New, b. 9 July 1910 in McCormick, SC

3. Roy New, b. in McCormick, SC

4. Mary “Frances” New, b. 5 May 1914 in McCormick, SC

5. Gary New, b. in McCormick, SC

6. Josephine New, b. in 1918-present
7. Margaret Esther New, b. in McCormick, SC; d. 2011 in Winston-Salem, NC

8. Jane Elizabeth “Lib” New, b. 13 April 1924 in Winston-Salem, NC


   acc. to my father’s 3rd cousin Bonner sasser, citing 1930 US census + death-certificates for 2 babies:

1. Paul New, Son, m, w, 21

2. Carolyn L. New, Daughter, f, w, 19

3. James R. New, Son, m, w, 17

4. Mary F. New, Daughter, f, w, 15

5. Gary J. New, Son, m, w, 13

6. Josephine New, Daughter, f, w, 11

7. Margaret E. New, Daugher, f, w, 9

8. b. & d. 26 June, 1926 (stillborn)

9. Jane E. New, Daughter, f, w, 5

10. b. & d. 16 Feb, 1930 (premature)


   my take: combining the above sources plus some tombstones I have photographed, I derive the following:

1. Paul New, b. Feb 10, 1909 in McCormick, SC


2. Carolyn “Lucille” New, b. 9 July 1911 in McCormick, SC (her tombstone says 1911, not 1910)


3. James “Roy” New, b. abt. 1913 in McCormick, SC

4. Mary “Frances” New, b. 5 May 1914 in McCormick, SC

5. Gary J. New, b. abt. 1917 in McCormick, SC

6. Josephine New, b. 1918 in McCormick, SC

7. Margaret Esther New, b. abt. 1921 in McCormick, SC; d. 2011 in Winston-Salem, NC

8. b. & d. 26 June, 1926 (stillborn)

9. Jane Elizabeth “Lib” New, b. 13 April 1924 in Winston-Salem, NC

10. b. & d. 16 Feb, 1930 (premature)


talents, hobbies, pursuits:

   (): (?)



   (): (?)


religious aff.:

   (): (?)


political aff.:

   (): (?)



   (): (?)



   (): (?)



   acc. to her tombstone (which I have visited): (see photo of tombstone above) Feb 10, 1942



   acc. to family sources: Winston-Salem, Forsyth County, North Carolina.



   (): (?)



   acc. to me (I have visited her tombstone): (see photo of tombstone above) Winston-Salem, NC


age at death:

   acc. to subtraction of feb 1942 – mar 1889: 52 (would have turned 53 the next month)

Getting People to Read Cautions in Owner’s Manuals

•May 9, 2012 • Leave a Comment

When people buy potentially dangerous products, I imagine that the majority do not actually read the owner’s manual.

Why?  Because so much of it is common sense that applies to all like products; for example, when I bought a new circular saw, the owner’s manual told me things like not to immerse it in water or there is a risk of electrical shock.  That’s good advice, but I propose the following: all “like” products (for example, all electrical products or all guns or all gas-powered products) should have a common set of basic precautions and directions that apply to all; these should be set apart from the product-particular cautions and directions, and labeled as such “Common Cautions on All Electrical Products” and “Cautions on This Particular Product”.  Students in high school should have to study the Common Cautions and take tests on it, maybe 3 or 4 times in high school.

That way when we bought a potentially dangerous product, we could easily open the manual and find the cautions we really needed.  If we felt the need to review the Common Cautions, they would be there for us.

I don’t know whether government action (mandates) would be needed to make this happen; perhaps industries and government could work together to accomplish this.

Idea for Improving Road-Signage in Large Cities

•May 9, 2012 • Leave a Comment

My first idea is for improving road-signage in an attempt to increase safety and decrease confusion and frustration.  In large cities like Houston, TX, many lanes are added onto the highways as you enter the city, and then taken off as you leave it.  If you are on a road-trip, and simply passing through a city like Houston, you cannot remain in the same lane, because on several occasions, your lane will exit, forcing you to keep changing lanes just to continue driving on the same road.  In many cases, the signs giving directions seem to be pointing to the wrong lane or to the border between two lanes.  Also, if the sign says “right lane must exit in 1/2 mile”, in some cases the right lane at the time you read that sign exits before that, and the lane that is _then_ the right lane exits; so it’s not like you can see the sign, get in the lane, and wait for your exit.  Many drivers realize at the last second that they are in the wrong lane, and recklessly change.  (Houston was the 2nd-deadliest traffic-fatality city when I lived there from 1998-2006, according to one source which I am unable to find right now, but hope to add here later.)

At first, I thought I was the one with the problem, but as I spoke to other drivers, even life-long Texans, they also shared that they, too, were confused by the signage.  Well, during the 8 years I lived in Houston, I thought about this situation, trying to imagine how improvement to the signage could be made.  My first thought was lane-numbering; the lanes would be numbered, and then the signs could refer to the lanes that way, as “Lane 7 must exit in 1/2 mile”.  One thing I was concerned about, however, is that lanes are added to, and disappear from, both the left and the right, so you would wind up going into negative numbers like  “Lane -2” and also there might be times when there was no Lane 1, particularly as you left the city.  I thought these things would confuse (especially out-of-town) drivers.  Then I thought about colors (Red Lane, Blue Lane), but some drivers will be color-blind.  I thought about shapes, which would be easy if it were just circle and triangle and square, but with so many lanes, you’d  have to have a lot more shapes, and it might be hard to distinguish a hexagon from a heptagon while negotiating traffic on a dangerous highway.  Then I thought about native flora and fauna, such as “Magnolia Lane must exit in 1/2 mile”.  I also was concerned that out-of-town drivers might not catch on to this schema very automatically.  (Unlike lane-numbering, I had never heard of lane-naming.)  Also, both in the case of lane-numbering and lane-naming, once a lane left the highway and joined another highway, would it need to be re-named?  I saw potential for some real confusion here, too.  Finally, it occurred to me: why not name the lanes after major destinations associated with them, like “Theatre District Lane” or “610 Lane”.  If this were done, how would drivers know which lane was which?  It could be painted on the lanes.  That way, whatever lane you were in, you would know the plans in store for it; if you were trying to take I-10 to San Antonio, and the lane you were in said “Theatre District Lane”, then you would know that a lane-change was in store for you at some point because your lane would exit at the Theatre District.

I never got a chance to share this with DOT or whoever should’ve seen it.  When I first moved to Houston in 1998, I attempted to contact whoever was in charge of signage, and never found that organization; different individuals kept passing me to others until I went in a full circle back to the first one I had called.  If anyone reading this believes this idea could save lives and reduce stress, why not propose it to some governmental authority?

My Ideas on Various Topics to be Considered by Others

•May 4, 2012 • Leave a Comment

My education is in Linguistics, and my field is teaching English as a second language (ESL).

However, I do have some tentative ideas and opinions outside of Linguistics and ESL.  I do not want to push these ideas strongly because I do not have sufficient background to do so, but I would like to put these ideas out there just in case some of them might have some merit.  If so, I would hope for someone to pick up on any of my better ideas and “run with them”.  I have my hands full; if I live to an advanced age and remain active, I will still probably not have time to do much outside of my field.


Partial Enclosing of Porches

•March 16, 2012 • 2 Comments



Whoever built my cabin used small (new-growth) trees unmilled to support the front and side porches.  I want to add more vertical members, following the “whole-tree” lead of the original builder.  I have used an ax to chop down some tiny trees, and also an ax so far to de-bark.  I don’t have a chainsaw, but at only maybe 4″ diameter, my circular saw sawed off the bottom and top.

bathroom renovations

•July 4, 2011 • Leave a Comment

February fog

•March 3, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Maybe these pics aren’t that impressive to many, but for some reason, they stuck out to me; there was something about them that was unusual.

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impressions in mud & life returns!

•March 3, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I’m so glad that this year, winter only lasted about 4 months, compared to 6 months last year!  Who wd’ve thought that the winters would be this way in Alabama (and not northern Alabama in the mtns, either). 

I can’t figure out what caused the impressions in the mud — raindrops I assume?  But s’thing looks odd about them.

The pics of the green-and-pink leaves show one of the first plants to come back to life; the forest is still mostly in slumber now.