Saturday, December 31, 2011


I was in a somewhat sour mood this evening, grumping about how our house isn't nearly as nice as my sister-in-laws, wondering if we'll actually upgrade this house so that we can stay in it forever, or have to take the financial or size hit of moving.

And then I just talked quietly with my wife for about twenty minutes about what we'd like to do, need to do, want to do -- and then I felt a whole bunch better.

Amazing how she does that.

Friday, December 30, 2011


I would like to say that I got the majority of these questions about geography.

I would like to say that.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Don't Mess with Firefly!


Didn't do any French studying at all today. Did listen to French songs, though. Does that count?

Friends and Lovers

Isn't it nice when you have someone like this on your side?


Helen Mirren Would Like to Play the Doctor,

and We Would Be Extremely Okay With That.

Me, too.

Found here.


Found here.


Long, but well worth it, I think.


My sister-in-law called to tell my wife that she'd just learned some horrifying news. Her daughter's current college roommate was in a terrible car accident, and is now on life support -- but they think that she is already brain-dead.

Why is it that the first thing you think of when hearing news such as that is was it her fault?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Idle Time


If people conducting a non-violent protest had pepper spray used on them by the police, and the protesters retaliated by using it on the cops (though, of course, the cops do wear those nifty face masks) -- would that be a bad thing? Used to be, I'd say of course it would. Now....not so sure.


Monday, December 26, 2011

Sunday, December 25, 2011


We went to my mother in laws house for the day. My daughter drove all the way up, which was a little scary (she doesn't like driving the big vehicle) but she did okay. While there, my sister in law, a government minon of moderately high stature, spent too much time telling us how much money the government wastes. A little of that conversation went a long way, and there was more than just a little. And they had much food, of which some was useful. On the way home, we had an extended conversation with our daughter about college and picking a career, and that was good.

Then we got home and found that somehow, without the cat in the room (because the door was closed), the Christmas tree had fallen over. Only broke one ornament, which was good. Right up until my favorite one, the Waterford crystal fleur de lis, fell as I was fixing another one, and managed to fall on the one spot under it that wasn't carpet.

Still, the conversation on the way home was good.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011


This morning, we discovered that just because you're replacing a bookshelf CD/Radio/Tape Player with a newer one does not mean that the newer one will have a volume control.


Thursday, December 22, 2011


From the LA Times....

The TSA's 25 "viper" teams — for Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response — have run more than 9,300 unannounced checkpoints and other search operations in the last year. Department of Homeland Security officials have asked Congress for funding to add 12 more teams next year...TSA officials say they have no proof that the roving viper teams have foiled any terrorist plots or thwarted any major threat to public safety. But they argue that the random nature of the searches and the presence of armed officers serve as a deterrent and bolster public confidence.

Oh, I feel safer already.


It's tough to be supportive of my mento when he is - again - up to 5 F's in his core subjects. One A (math), 5 F's.

Not that I'm bitter or anything.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Um, Yeah

I guess you go with the argument that works?

Found here.


From Wondermark.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Various Things

Sitting in the kitchen, wearing half of the Santa outfit. Today's the last one. I've been glad to do it, but I'll be glad when it's done, too.

I've been reading Love My Rifle More Than You. It does not give me great hopes about my daughter being in the military, even though I know that she won't be going in -- if she goes at all - for five years, and when she does, she'll likely be on a ship or a naval base, where the probability of seeing combat is low. Just the thought of her having to encounter some heavy handed military people is daunting. I recall when I was in the Air Force and I read about female cadets at the Air Force Academy complaining about getting groped and worse. As I recall, the Air Force ignored the complaints for a long time before finally doing something about it. According to the book, the Army is much worse -- and in a combat zone, worse than that. It's a good book, but it scares me - not only because of the reason I just cited, but because it reminds me of how little we know about what combat does to people, and the crap we put them through to get any kind of support once they get out.

You'd think that with me being retired, we'd have plenty of time to decorate. Somehow, that hasn't happened. If we're lucky, we'll get the tree into the house tonight, and decorated tomorrow. We hope. I haven't gotten hardly anything in the way of gifts for my wife == I did get a nice silk blouse, but I wish I'd had the chance to get more. Perhaps I'll try to get out tomorrow and hit what passes for shopping around here. We are buying things for Christmas, but its more that we're finally buying things that we probably could have gotten before -- replacing the bookshelf stereo whose tape player died years ago; replacing a small minicassette recorder whose speed control is frakked . The only reason we're getting it is so that we can play, and transfer, tapes that we made when my daughter was small. It's not expensive, but I kept thinking there must be a better way. Nothing comes to mind, though.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


He may be a hack, I don't know. He may never admit any failing of Barack Obama, I suspect. But I like him. (Though I wish he hadn't said "...our banker friends"... )

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Nicole Martin


Found here.


This is from the Denver Post collection of photographs.

University of California, Davis Police Lt. John Pike uses pepper spray to move Occupy UC Davis protesters while blocking their exit from the school's quad in Davis, Calif on November 18, 2011. Pike, the riot-clad police officer who pepper sprayed a row of peaceful Occupy Wall Street protesters at a California university last week, is a retired U.S. Marine sergeant twice honored for his police work on campus. (AP Photo/The Enterprise, Wayne Tilcock) #

Honored, huh?

And then there's this:

Police raise weapons while making an arrest during the Occupy Denver protest in Denver, CO, Saturday, October 29, 2011. Occupy Denver protesters and law enforcement officers faced off on the steps of the state Capitol and Civic Center this afternoon after protesters marched through downtown Denver for the fourth week in a row. Craig F. Walker, The Denver Post #

Raised weapons,huh?

What If

This web site had a section about what will Barack do if he doesn't win re-election, and though I find that a hideous concept, I must admit that I'm intruiged by some of their ideas:

  • Obama single-handedly wins the war in Afghanistan: "Sgt. Diaz stared at the cloud of smoke. 'I think... holy shit, I think there's someone alive down there,' he said, scrambling to pick up his binoculars. He lifted them to his eyes, and saw, walking out of the smoke, face smudged but grinning, President Barack Obama. He was smoking a cigar and carrying Mullah Omar's head."
  • Obama joins The X-Files: "Scully had been Mulder's partner for years. She expected the odd cases, the weird obsessions, the constant paranoia. But what she never expected was to walk into the office one day and find President Barack Obama. 'Sir, I—' she stammered, before Mulder interrupted: 'Scully, I want you to meet our new partner.'"
  • Obama becomes a wizard: "Obama could feel the power flowing through him: a curious, warm feeling, emanating from somewhere in his rib cage, a throbbing kind of energy that pushed through his body and crackled at his fingertips. Mr. Merriweather nodded. 'You are ready," he said—though Obama was sure his mouth had never moved. He removed a small piece of wood from a leather sheaf in his belt and handed it to the president. 'Your wand,' he said, simply.
  • Steampunk Obama: "The figure moved out of the shadows and Obama realized it was not a man but a machine—a shining, brass machine wearing a top hat and a morning coat—a clockwork miracle like none he had ever seen—and in its hand a pistol. 'You are surprised to discover,' the thing intoned, 'that Doktor Zeizter is an automaton?' Outside, Obama could hear the dirigibles start their engines. He knew they were headed for Big Ben."

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


I would almost do this.

Found here.

Monday, December 12, 2011


Cartoons like this one infuriate me. Not foaming-at-the-mouth infuriate, but how can they possibly be that stupid? infuriate. Mostly because they make me think of all the stupid people who will say yeah, things aren't perfect, must be his fault, Ahm gonna vote for.... who's runnin' again? The sort of person to whom any reasoned response sounds like evasion.


Makin' Bakin'

One day.

Four kinds of home-made cookies.

Peanut Brittle. Also home-made.


Chocolate-covered Pretzels. Ditto.

All going into a container for shipment to friends in France. (And we won't wince much at the shipping cost.)

But I think we're going to need more measuring spoons.

Femme Fatale

I only vaguely know who Keira Knightly is, but I really like this photo.

Found here.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Found here.


As a rule, I am not taken by books where the author gushes about someplace. I always have the feeling that were I to go there, I'd be bored, tired, and only occasionally pleased.But I have to admit that I'm liking Paris to the Past, a book which is simultaneously a political history of France through the centuries and an architectural history of the cathedrals that helped to define it.

A lot of it is her description of how she came to see so much of the country and the architecture. She says that part of the reason that you can still see so many ancient structures is that France tends to keep its older buildings instead of reducing them to rubble; coupled with the spread of the cities, it tends to mean that the growth is on the outskirts, not in the core areas. And since you can get to those core areas by train, she says that she found she could live in Paris - which, of course, she adores - and take both the Metro throughout the city and the RER into the countryside where the cathedrals live, easily and relatively inexpensively. She communicates her enthusiasm gracefully -- I've never seen a travelogue speak so eloquently about how pointed arches in the front of a cathedral instead of rounded ones lead from having a single low entrance in a wall of solid stone to having three, each with its own massive door, or how those arches facilitated soaring roof lines and the propagation of stained glass. She also mentions how you can usually tell direction in any French cathedral, easily, by looking for the New Testament, and why one cathedral has oxen carved on its exterior -- with only occasional bits of too much enthusiasm.

It's not at all bad.

Saturday, December 10, 2011



Funny how it didn't occur to us that having a shorter vehicle necessarily means a shorter Christmas tree.

On the other hand, this one is awfully wide!

Fyte Club

Jane Austen's Fight Club from Keith Paugh on Vimeo.

So Passe!

This is me practicing the passé composé tense, and in particular some of the 17 verbs that use a form of etré to 'assist' in verb formation for that tense. It's brute-force memorization -- though there are some similarities in the verbs' spelling or use, I can't rely on that. So -

Je suis allé au parque.
Je suis arrivé au parque.
Je suis descendu le escalier.
Je suis devenu furieux.
Je suis entré la place.

Two weeks ago, the session was terrible. This week, it was very good, to the point where about 85% of our conversation was in French. We have been working on the imparfait and the passé, and I'm beginning to get the hang of them. Still a long way to go, but still: I'm pleased.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Tabs on Tablets

We went to a mall today which had, among other things, an Apple store, so we took the opportunity to look over the iPad. Hefted it, went into some of the apps, generally tried to run it through its paces. After we were done, I asked my wife what she thought of it.

"It's a toy, not a tool. "

Yup, that's about right. It could be a tool, with the right apps, but that's not how it's being marketed. Most people seem happy with that, though. Guess we're wierd.

Thursday, December 08, 2011


I can't do much with Excel pivot tables, but I can do a little. So I figured that telling the pivot table to use data from multiple spreadsheets -- how difficult could this be?

Ahem. The method's the same, but the results -- not optimal. Sometimes, not even comprehensible.

Perhaps I'll understand it tomorrow.


Found here.


Virginia Tech is the alternate school that we'd like our daughter to consider. When we heard the news today, we both thought maybe a small school in a little town isn't such a bad thing....

Wednesday, December 07, 2011


Thirty years ago. Fascinating.


I like classy, thoughtful movies.

We Love NonViolent Protestors!


Technically, I'm a Catholic. I say that because I'm more not a believer than I am -- I just go because of the accumulated guilt of a Catholic upbringing. For years, I said I went to church to give a 'good example' to my daughter (and yes, I know that a good example doesn't require going to church, but, hey, my mother was living with us....). Now my daughter's coming up on 18, and she's already said 18s an adult, right? And you said I have to go to church till I'm an adult, right? So I guess the good example didn't take.

The US Catholic Church just made some changes to the mass. They changed some of the words. Now, I don't hang with people who like going to church (except my wife), but when I can go to a gathering of mentors at the school and I hear two of them saying I have no idea what they're even saying, they say its to make the mass more accessible but I can't understand it, they use words like consubstantiate that I've never heard of -- I know what they're talking about. They're saying the vice presidents and managers of the company like this so they figure you had better like it, too. Well, tonight I had my first taste of it, and I don't . I think its stupid. I wasn't all that enthused before, and it really turned me off.

Catholicism. Pah. Why not just go handle the real problems and leave the words as they are, red hats?

Makeup is Amazing

Found here. It's a 20 year old model.


Apparently, if you're at a party, you shouldn't drink the juice, either.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011


I had always thought of George Carlin as a funny guy. But since I've been reading When Will Jesus Bring The Pork Chops?, I think he had a lot of buried hostility. And not buried so far down, at that.


It always surprises me when someone who writes a great article is, in fact, someone of whom I've heard.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Password, Please

Found here.


This is a fake, but, did it exist, I would buy it.
Found here.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

You've got Chuck!

Found here.


I was looking at a tumblr site this morning that is oriented toward lesbians. After I got through the reaction of All these attractive women, and not a one of them interested in me! (mostly because of their sexual orientation, but not a little because, well, I'm not someone to be sought out, yearned for, any of that. Never -- almost never -- have been. Though, there was that one time..and it has been going on for twenty-seven plus years.....) -- but after I got through that glum realization, I noticed that the person referred to herself and her friends as queer.

I'm old enough to remember when that was considered the normal phrase for heterosexuals to use when referring to people who weren't, and then when it was considered rude and offensive to say that. (They're not lesbians, they're women in comfortable shoes -- thank you very much!) It's become yet another Voldemort -- the word that must not be uttered, at least by heterosexuals. The Q-word. (I really hate that kind of euphremism, by the way. The Q-word. The N-word. The R-word. Say it or don't say it, but don't use circumlocutions. And in case you're wondering, I made up that r-word reference.)

I wondered how they'd feel if people like me used that word to describe people like them. Amused, irritated, offended? But as I only know three people who are Q, G, or whatever the current phrase is, and two of them don't live here and one I rarely see -- I guess that I won't ask. Which is probably just as well. I don't really have the self-confidence to do it anyway.

Saturday, December 03, 2011


I have no idea who this is, but I like her style.

Found here.


First Santa appearance of the season is done.

I really have to remember to check out that I have all the pieces of the outfit before the day of doing it. (Boots! Where the hell are my boots? And my hat???) And, I had forgotten how tiring it can be to just sit there and tease kids for three hours. (I came home and slept for two hours.) And how much the whitening hair spray is yucky stuff.

Though, once again, they charmed and surprised me. (I'd like an iPhone... What color? Pink. Do they even make one in pink? Why not? ) I offered several kids a pile of rocks and some dirt. They all declined, some vigorously. I praised any kid who said that they wanted books, and I taught a couple of them how to say 'good morning' in French.

I had fun.
There are some seriously cool kids growing up around here!

Thursday, December 01, 2011


The jumper post on the Prius is a teeny little nubbin. I suppose that in Japan, with teeny little jumper cables, it's enough.

But not here, bucko.


Found here.


I'm going to be sad when Bernie Sanders retires. Republicans will probably throw a party.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

One Vote

I am usually not a one-issue voter.

But if Obama doesn't veto the Senate amendment to allow indefinite military incarceration for suspected terrorists, I will go looking for another candidate.

I'm sure he's worried.

Et Tu Leonardo?

Found here.


A really bad day.

French class sucked, big time. I drew a complete blank on lots of things.

My mento dropped from 2 Fs back to 4. He actually has a 09 in one class.

My new glasses feel strange.

My wife won't be home until late.

Now that I can think -- somewhat -- I think I was pushing too hard on the French. I'm going to back down substantially: just one verb type (the ER verbs); five verbs (ALLER, CHANTER, DONNER, PARLER, TRAVAILLER); four tenses (present indicative, passe composé, imparfait, and futur), and six voices (first,second, third/singular and plural). Then PERHAPS some more -- but still just ER, just those four tenses.

We'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Synch Me

I am thinking that when and if I replace my phone, I want the ability to synch the calendar easily with my laptop.

I am trying hard not to think of that person who told me that when she updates her iPhone, it automagically propagates to her iPad.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Granny Again

There are times that I think I ought to just rent Granny's site.


From Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal:

I think it's a little glib, but I like it. I also like the comment I saw somewhere that government ought to fear its citizens, rather than the other way around.


I liked Dick Francis novels. I thought they were just about all well done. Not all, perhaps -- every so often, a clunker would slip through -- but usually, you could count on them. Someone with a job that was somehow related to horse racing would get involved in A Problem. The problem would be of sufficient magnitude that the person would get sucked into wanting to resolve it. Sometimes they wanted to, sometimes they had to. Along the way, someone nefarious would get interested in the person's interest, and attempt to dissuade them. The attempt might be verbal, to be followed by physical means, or it might go directly to physical. Through perseverance, and occasionally through knowing wealthy or well-placed people, the person would find out what was actually going on. The bad guys would go to jail, or to a hospital, or worse.

Not all of the books, as I say, would be good. We picked up two from a used book sale, and while the first one - Straight - was satisfying and full, the second - Second Wind - missed the mark. It had all of the stylistic touches of a Francis novel, but it didn't hit the target. I'm not sure why, but whatever the reason, I think it explains why books written about a well-known fictional character, but done by someone else, usually sound hollow. They have no heart -- or at least, not the heart that the original author put there. The fellow who wrote the Nero Wolfe novels grumbled that he didn't want to see anyone writing his characters into novels after he was dead. They should write their own, he said. Still, with the success of books that said Dick Francis above the title, it was a pretty-much foregone conclusion that someone would try. In this case, it appears to be his son. I've read two of them. One sounds like the hollow version, and one sounded - not bad.

It'd be nice to have the original back, but I suppose this will do.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


This is one of my most favorite rooms in the world.


Every so often, Ron Paul says something that I agree with. Like this:

Bailouts came from both parties…. If you have to give money out, you should give it to people losing their mortgages, not to the banks.

It's not that we shouldn't have saved them. That was the right thing to do. We need them. It's that we resent mightily that they went on to make tons of money, gave little of the money back, screwed the consumers along the way.

Global Warming

...not necessarily bad.

Found here.


So, what do the parents do when the kiddo is away? Oh, exciting, sophisticated things. We're going to buy a water pistol to zap the cat (who's taken to blithely strolling across the dining room table). And we're going to look for a glass shelf to put into the hall bathroom, the better to hold some of her many toiletries. And perhaps today we'll go to see a movie. A funny movie, after Seven Pounds, yesterday.

Isn't that sleek?

Saturday, November 26, 2011


We watched Seven Pounds, this evening. My goodness. Probably not a lot of smiling people leaving the theater when that came out. Powerful.


Daughter's off at Disney World. Odd to be alone,just the two of us. Odd to think that come next year, this will be the norm.

It's Time

Yeah, This is Right

Healthy is as....

I rest my case.

Oh Dark Thirty

My daughter got up at 2:20. She has to be at the high school at 3AM for her trip to Disney World. The high school is nine minutes from here.

At 2:44 she started up her laptop and began to read fan fiction.


Friday, November 25, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Got An Envelope?


I love before and after pictures like these.

Monday, November 21, 2011


There's an interesting article on the Good site concerning the topic of apprenticeship as an alternative to the standard US model of education.

When I think apprentice, I think of someone from the Middle Ages learning to shoe horses or weave fabric - certainly nothing that's applicable now. But after reading the short article, I realized that our friend's daughter, in France, is doing exactly this -- starting to learn a trade in a formal school, then working for a while in the field at an actual working restaurant (not one just set up for the experience), then going back to school to build on that knowledge. It's a challenge -- as the article points out, and as we thought when we heard about what she was doing, it is difficult for a young person to know what they'd like to do, let alone, whether they'd be any good at it. But as someone who's currently doing the math for a child to be able to go through college, apprenticeship has some obvious advantages, as well.

Founding Fathers

Found here.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Dancers Among Us

Dancers move gracefully, even when doing the obviously impossible.

Found at Creative Dusk.


Not much happening today. I sloughed off most of it. We had a decent Sunday brunch, then my wife and daughter went off to meet my wife's mother and her aunt at a place about an hour from here.

I did a little reading, then corresponded a little with a woman I know on Forvo -- she's one of the French editors; she helps me with French and I help her with English -- took a nap, and then did a little web surfing. I had been moping around the other day, thinking I really need to practice words like quelconque and lequel and bien sûr, but what can I use to..... when it hit me that I have this tool, a really nice freeware flashcard program called Anki, already loaded with a deck called French Linguistic Glue. Oh, yeah! So I did a little of that. And I finished translating a single French sentence. That may not sound like much, but the sentence is from Les aventures du roi Pausole, which I had picked up last year when I was looking for a book in French to try to read. I didn't realize how old this book was, or how complex the sentences! Every night, more or less, I break out the dictionary and I take the next sentence and try to understand it. Last night -- and the night before, for that matter -- the sentence was il repondit aux voix en agitant devant son visage, comme un mouchoir d'accueil, une main molle et amicale. I found that partially easy and partially impossible. At least I was better than Google Translate, which rendered a gibberish sentence -- "he replied to the vote, waving before his face, as a host tissue, a soft hand and friendly." I finally concluded that it was supposed to be He responded to the voice by waving a handkerchief of welcome in front of his face in a soft and friendly hand. Not all that sure, though, so I sent it off to my French instructor with a request for her to evaluate my performance.

And then I made tacos for dinner.


We had the kid over. It went pretty well.

I think that she thinks we're wealthy because we went to France, because we have a large kitchen, and because we have a Kitchen Aid mixer. After we spoke a little about having studied French for the trip, she asked us to say something in French. Like what, I asked, and she said I want to buy purple glasses. Um...Je voudrais acheter des....what's glasses? I looked at my daughter, who said well, sunglasses are lunettes de soleil, so... yeah, I said, Je voudrais acheter des lunettes violettes. I wondered afterward if she was testing us.

She seemed impressed by dinner, and asked Do you always have dinner like this? Dinner was spaghetti and meatballs, with garlic bread, salad, and apple cider. Nothing outrageous. We had put a tablecloth out, but that was pretty much the extent of the gloss. My wife said no, we try to eat together but usually our daughter eats and leaves for color guard before I get home. My daughter added My dad usually does the cooking, since my mom's at work. My wife told me later that the girl had said that when she was younger, dinner was frequently take-out from McDonalds.

She took a while to get used to the idea that we teased a lot at dinner, but she eventually got into it. My daughter mentioned that frequently the dinner table is silent because we're all reading, unless we're telling quotes from whatever we've got. I told her my mother used to ask my father not to read at the table, because I was doing it, but that didn't take. My wife said she does try to have conversations; my daughter and I both said really? here?

And I learned that the guy she had the child with, when she was 20, was 41 years old at the time. Oh, my. Her father is urging her to sue the guy for child support, which would make sense if he was working. Or even if she just knew where he was.

We never did have The Conversation, as she was texted three times by her mother, the last time saying that the child was screaming for her, so she abruptly wanted to return home. If and when we see her again -- we said we'd invite her over again, which seemed to please her - perhaps we'll have it then. I still have my notes for that conversation:

We will not -

- let you move in with us, even temporarily.

- tell you what you should do with your life.

- take sides.

- judge.

We will listen, and discuss, and offer moral support.

So that was the evening.


It’s not often these days that I do a cartoon without color, but I felt this one called for the starkness of the black and white inks. I actually wanted the ink to come out heavier and even more distinct, but I think the details on the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal made that difficult.

This cartoon refers to the sudden and brutal crackdowns on Occupy Wall Street demonstrators, which began in the dead of night last week in cities across the nation, and I’ve read were coordinated by the Department of Homeland Security. These attacks on free speech have involved inexcusable offenses like one that occurred near me, in Seattle, where an 84-year-old woman and a pregnant teenager were among the victims of pepper-spraying by police. I ask, what threat could an 84-year-old possibly pose to armored riot cops?? Unless she were wielding, say, a flamethrower. Perhaps next time she’ll think twice before protesting wealth inequality without carrying one!

From This is Historic Times, including the commentary.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Daughter just got notified that she qualifies for $5000 more per year in scholarship if she keeps a 2.5 average, which becomes $11,000 more if she keeps a 3.2 So, counting what she has already, that's a possible 16K per year for a school that costs about $42k. Not bad.


Almost as soon as it was released, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Michael Musmanno wrote (Tropic of) Cancer is "not a book. It is a cesspool, an open sewer, a pit of putrefaction, a slimy gathering of all that is rotten in the debris of human depravity.”

Wonder if my library has it? Sounds like fun.

Found here.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Should We?

Found here.


The people who sell eyeglasses charge way too much. And they assume that other people want fashion. Perhaps some do, but not all. And I would bet, not most, either.

Yea or Nay?

When I read this, I thought that the customer was probably a Republican. Then I thought 'that's not really fair'. And it isn't.

But I still think the odds are with me on this one.


The Venza has Bluetooth connectivity to my phone, which I like. It would also be able to connect to the music on my phone if I had music on my phone. But today I was thinking gee, I wish I had a way to make a quick memo recording, and realized that the phone has a memo capability -- but Bluetooth doesn't connect to that.

Why not? (I know, if I really were a geek, I'd be able to figure it out. Hack it. But, alas....)

Thursday, November 17, 2011


I am tickled pink. I have gotten four short notes in two weeks from the girl who stayed with us last year. Very cool. She says she's coming to New York with her class. We probably won't go up there just to meet her for lunch, but it's nice to know that she'll be here.

I said probably. Though I do have a sudden urge to practice French.

We also got another indication that you need to use Google Translate with caution. She said "jai vraiment hate d ' y retourner new york" which GT translated as "jai really hate to go back new york". Only, she meant to write " j'ai vraiment hâte d ' y retourner new york ", which is "I can not wait to go back new york". Amazing what some missing punctuation can do to screw up your sentence.

(And yes, I did smile a little when I saw the first version, because I knew what that word was, and what it was supposed to be!!! Maybe there's hope for my French yet. )


I hate it when someone puts up a post, I see it on Google Reader, think hey, that's interesting, go to comment -- and they've deleted it. I wish there was a way to say hey, you know, that was good stuff.


I'm not sure what the people in this video are saying, but I would suspect at least one of them is saying Holy Crap!

Ce Matin

Yesterday evening, I was in a somewhat foul mood. (I know, right? That hasn't happened since the last time!)

Part of it was the weather -- grey and drizzling. At night, the headlights reflected on the road, making it tricky to know where the road was and where, um, Bill, you're about to drive onto someone's grass. That kind of driving reminds me that older people shouldn't drive at night...and where, in the age spectrum, I fall. (Ugh. Hate that word fall, for some reason. )

Part of it was my glasses, which decided to break. Not the lenses, but one of the arms. I don't know about you, but our local opticians always treat questions like can you put a new pair of arms on this as if you're asking can you graft an elephant onto this?

Part of it was the dinner. I had made home made pizza, four days ago, and it was really good. Tonight, I did it again, and it was terrible. I know why, too -- the pizza stone hadn't heated enough, I used too much of the basil oil (I thought there was just enough to work into the dough, and it turned out there was actually quite a lot), and I used too much mozzarella (my wife really likes cheese, so I figured use it up...only it turned out there was more in the bag than I thought). I hate it when I bake something and it turns out badly.

But most of it was colleges. My daughter got a scholarship from the school she wants to attend (yay) but it wasn't very much (boo). It was five thousand dollars, which is about enough to pay for one quarter of one semester per year. It's nice to have, but still. Plus, it turns out, we found that the college I'd like her to at least consider is less expensive than her preferred one, to the tune of nine thousand dollars a year. Wow. But this morning, it occurred to me that I had told her that I would not reject a school out of hand just because it was somewhat more expensive. Two or three thousand dollars a year, say. What with the scholarship, the one she wants is four thousand dollars a year more than the other one. Huh. Still a lot, but with other scholarships....maybe. Not allowed to change the rules because I don't like the result.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Strange Wonderings

Sometimes, I wonder about strange things. Like, why do you see more women than men cross their legs at the knees (rather than just rest the calf of one leg on the knee of the other)? Is it because it's easier for women to do that ? And, if so, is that because women's anatomy lets them lift a hip up further, so the leg can pivot more? And if so, is that because their anatomy is built for childbirth? And is that why women tend to have a rolling, 'hip-swinging' gait? Why do guys think that's attractive? Is it because guys subconsciously relate it as 'more rolling means more likelihood of success in childbirth; is good' ? Similarly 'larger breasts means more milk capacity to nourish children; is good' ? I really don't get the big breasts fascination. Doesn't stop me from noticing, though, but then sometimes I wonder about it.

I admit, part of what makes me wonder about all of this is when I stand right over the cat and she looks straight up at me. I think why can't humans do that? Which leads me to thinking about anatomy. I recall reading an article about 'flaws in human anatomy' - like 'why do we use overlapping passageways for breathing and eating?' Or (from a joke collection) - proof that God is an engineer -- who else would design the human body so that it has the amusement area right next to the sewage plant? And I remember years ago reading 'women like lipstick because it's a visible representation of hidden engorged labia'. I thought What? Can't be.... Which I still think, by the way.

Strange, I know....

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

French Grammar

Side-By-Side French and English Grammar is probably the best French Grammar book I have found.

It's not the most comprehensive (for deep research, I prefer the Berlitz French Grammar Handbook), but its the best for casual, quick hey, explain this concept to me in thirty seconds use. English grammar concept on the left page, corresponding French grammar concept on the right page.

Its the only French book I've borrowed from the library that I liked enough to buy for myself. For what that's worth.


Found on FreXxX.


Wondermark is a very classy comic strip -- they call it an 'illustrated jocularity', which better fits their style -- but even for them, this is an amazing column.


We're going to try something that we've never done before. I'm not sure that it will be successful; I'm just hoping that we don't find ourselves regretting it.

A girl whom my daughter knows from color guard graduated from high school two years ago and started at a tech school type college. Some time afterward, she became pregnant by an unemployed man who was twice divorced and had already fathered two children. The girl dropped out of school and is now living with her parents and the child. She works at a McJob, to which she has to be driven because she doesn't have car insurance. She describes her father as 'loving her in his own weird way'; also, 'a control freak'. He kicked the boyfriend, who was living with them, out of their house twice, and he kicked her out of the house once, even before all of this started, while she was still in school. And, she's bipolar.

Two weeks ago, we took her with use to see my daughter (and others) perform at a high school football game. She seemed to really appreciate it. We got to see the control freak style in action; the father called her twice in the fifteen minutes it took us to get to the football game. I heard her say you're being a bit of a controller, again, Dad. But she seemed to enjoy the game, and she really enjoyed seeing the girls of color guard again. I suspect it reminded her of happier days.

Three days ago, she texted my wife, asking if she could come with her son to live with us. She offered to 'contribute to expenses, if necessary'.

We were stunned. After much thought, we concluded that we did not want to do this. Multiple reasons: we didn't want the responsibility of having to bring her to work, and babysitting for her while she was there. We didn't want the control freak father to be calling us frequently to see what she was doing. We didn't want the boyfriend showing up, let alone, wanting to move in. It all just sounded too scary for us. On the other hand, we didn't want to abandon her. I wouldn't say she was desperate, but she gave off something like that vibe. And maybe the father is a control freak, but fathers - good ones - want to know that their kids are okay. And, who knows, maybe her estimate of this boyfriend as a great guy is valid. I doubt it, but maybe. So we contacted some people we knew and asked them: are there agencies in this area that could help this kid get her life going again? (One friend warned us that she sounded like she was ripe to move in and drop into 'daughter mode', where the parents handle and pay for everything. We think so, too.) But each of them came up with two or three support possibilities, some of which sound pretty good. So we replied back. We said that we didn't want to let us live with us, but we would like to talk with her about some possibilities. Could she come over for dinner?

This weekend, we're having her over, and we're going to lay out what we found. And we'll see what happens. It may be that she arrives thinking that she has a chance to talk us into it. You put things softly - we're not comfortable in having you live with us - and people can draw such conclusions. We might have to be harsher than we like to be. My wife thinks that just the experience of getting out of the house, being away from the father, will be good for her. I hope so.

And I hope that she doesn't beg.

Monday, November 14, 2011


I just read an article on the New Yorker web site about Steve Jobs.

In addition to the quirks (to put it mildly) that he demonstrated, the article said that he had one key skill: he could see the improvements that something needed. He couldn't see them in the item itself, but when he was presented with alternatives to the item, he could pick out the alternative that would make it better. The article says that he wasn't a visionary who saw a better world and reshaped it; he was a tweaker who took the existing world and changed parts of it slightly until they reached perfection. Or at least whatever he thought perfection was at the moment he thought it. No bets on whether that changed over time.

An interesting thought. He couldn't create perfection himself, but he could demand it from others, and recognize it when they did. Working for him must have been both exhilarating and exhausting.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Creative Solution

Found here.

Damn Cold

Found here.


Drawing with a hard can it be?

Faber Castell from eric yeo on Vimeo.



My daughter is walking around, wearing a T Shirt from the college that she wants to attend (and has been accepted to; though she hasn't said Yes, that's probably just a formality at this point). She's eating a cold piece of pizza.

I think that she's getting into the mood for the experience.


Webcam Girl's Dancing Surprise - Watch MoreFunny Videos


(Is Electronics an antiquated word? It sounds like one. Oh, he's smart....he's studying Electronics!)

But anyway.

In the fervor of our device for reading is smaller than your device for reading, I wonder if anyone is contemplating bigger ones -- something that can give you the heft of a real book? The heft could come from a small storage compartment for pens, glasses, whatever. It'd need two screens, too, I think (quite helpful for read this page and search the rest of the book, or the web, with that one).

I'd buy it.

Hey, Otter?

...and Bacon

Found here.

On Track

I know it's not quite this simple. But when all your friends have one...

Found at YellowDog Granny.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Driving Ambition

...would not be to drive up to Vermont from Pennsylvania one day and back two days later. Been there, done that.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011


I have never been particularly good with introspection.

I told my wife that I likely would not go for another term as judge of elections, once this one is up next year. It's an easy enough job; the main requirement seems to be having someone who is willing to give direction, and to tell people how to get things done, or why they cannot. Occasionally, there are awkward moments, such as when a voter gets himself into a tizzy and you have to gently get them off the ledge and back to where they want to be, or when a voter asks why we don't require identification when voting. I think they assume, as I would have, that we're all highly trained and experienced Voting People, conversant with the laws, rules, guidelines, recommendations, and whatnot that cover the area. There are certainly enough of them, and every election, they seem to have more -- this time, they included a sign to post saying that only voters and poll staff could be in a certain area. Who else is there? one of my people asked, and I had to admit that I had no idea. (Now, I think they're trying to limit people from other areas, such as news reporters and politicians running for statewide office.) But most of that is trivial.

I do get tense beforehand -- will this be the time that we can't get the machines up and running by 7AM? Doesn't help when people show up late. We did find that the time on the machines is not only wildly different from one to another -- one said it was 7:02 when another said it was 7:11 -- but that the machine is 'smart' enough not to let you turn it on just because you're saying Dammit, it is SO 7AM, turn on! One of my staff asked why they couldn't just skip that one and come back to it, and I told them that the rules said THIS one had to be first. Why? they asked, and I didn't know. Makes no sense to me.

And I worry about shutting stuff down -- am I going to remember to sign everything, put it in the right place? My position is the biggest bottleneck -- I, or I and the inspectors, or I and everyone else, has to sign every damn form. And things go get filed weirdly, like this is how they evolved and no one is willing to start from scratch -- this paper goes in Envelope H which goes into Envelope A -- except that there IS no Envelope A; that one goes into Envelope B while a copy goes in the Small Manila Envelope and one gets taped to the door. I made a checklist, and it works pretty well -- its been a while since I had to add anything. We're more likely to skip a step because we want to get the hell out of there than because it isn't on the list.

Still, those aren't the reasons I want to quit. I tell people it's boring to sit there all day, which is true, but that's not it. I told my wife that I don't want to be doing this when I'm 66, which is what I'd be at the end of another term; that's true (I hate the idea of the geezers doing this for ten, twenty years, and I despise the thought of being one of those geezers), but that's not the reason. I don't know what it is.

But I'd like to.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Monday, November 07, 2011

Heart Failure

I was in the middle of editting a post when I got an error saying that the editor had failed, and I should recycle my session. So I saved it off line, refreshed the page -- and got, in succession, an error that the editor didn't work, then a 404 for the blog address, then a 'this account has been deleted', then a 'this account has been blocked.

After staring in blank astonishment, and sending them a note for help, I noticed that my Google Reader access was still there. Google signon was still there, too, but GMail and Googletalk had both gone away. So I tried 'resetting' my google password -- and it worked. Suddenly, I had access again.

I did not enjoy that. I can only imagine what losing access is like for people who rely on Google to work. Not to mention, how do you tell people Hey, its not me doing this! Please don't go away!!!

So, I created a Tumblr account at Right now, there's nothing there, but if this one ever goes south, that's where I'll be, at the very least posting what's happening, and probably crying about lost archives. Sounds attractive, right? But I hope you'll come there anyway, should the need arise.

I don't have a lot of followers, but I don't want to lose the ones I have!

Sunday, November 06, 2011


I'm not a runner, but I thought this was of interest.

Saturday, November 05, 2011


Tonight we did something we haven't done for a very long time. My wife and I went out to see a play.

It was a local theater presentation of Hamlet. It was very nicely done -- mostly polished, with a large cast and a lot of energy, particularly from the fellow in the lead role, who pranced and scampered and leaped all over the stage, being sad and buoyant and melancholy and exuberant by turns. It was particularly captivating because this was a small 'theater in the round' presentation, and we were in the front row. For several of his monologues, Hamlet was right in our faces, staring at us, scowling and muttering and laughing and gesturing.

We had a good time.


I am not a wood-worker of any sort. The guy who built our addition liked to say that he just 'hammered some nails', and that's a good description of my wood handling ability.

When the kitchen was remodeled, we had new cabinets installed. They're nice, though I remember being astonished to find that the cabinets -- both the old ones and the new ones -- were each supported by four or six long screws. I would have assumed that they were supported by ten or twenty, and had buttressing to boot. But those cabinets didn't fall down, and these haven't, either, so I suppose they knew what they were doing.

Not so much with the shelves -- specifically, the two trapezoidal shelves in the corner cabinet. Each of those jewels has fallen once or twice in the eleven years that they've been there. In each case, the shelf's supports -- thin plastic clips -- gave way. Nothing even smashed, not even the glasses on the top shelf, but they've made a great big mess. Both times, we've said we really should do something more permanent than this. But each time, we've gotten more of the clips -- so this is why they gave us so many -- and put the shelf back up.

Now, it's happened again. And this time, we're going to see if we can get better quality supports than those we currently have. Same kind, but metal, with a thicker, longer support lip. If we can, we'll use them. And if we can't, we're going to nail a strip of wood under each side of the shelf, in addition to the clips. I'd like to put braces in, too, but I know my limits -- and that strip of wood is about it. Even there, I'm not sure if I'll be able to do it. That's an awkward place to work in, and we wouldn't want to find that the screws poked through into the next cabinet.

In theory, it's a piece of cake.