Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Photographs and Memories

Some odd experiences, last couple of days.

For one, my wife took bunches of pictures of the girls of color guard for the annual Memorial Day Parade, and this time she had the experience of having them say Hey, a creeper's taking pictures!

And for another, we saw a current picture of last year's French guest. We were amazed.
When did she get to be so pretty and so grown-up?

Monday, May 30, 2011


No matter what your stats are, there's nothing like Opening Day.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


I am not a cute video guy. But....

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Carrying A Torch

I'm not a big Torchwood fan, but this looks interesting.

Bigger, Faster


There's runners....and then there are runners.


I usually think that technology could be implemented better than it actually is. I suppose that's the difference between wouldn't it be cool and the real world.

A few weeks ago, we rented two movies from a Blockbuster Express kiosk. The experience was pretty painless. So when my wife and I thought let's rent something tonight, I thought of doing that again. My wife said she'd hit the place that we went to last time. While she was getting ready to go, I looked at the BBX web site and found an inventory of the movies in their box. Nice. Hey, Mao's Last Dancer -- sounds good. Let's get that, and, what the heck, Vampires Suck. So she went.

First problem was when she called. The machine isn't accepting any of my credit cards. Hmm. Okay, I've got the time, I'll go rent them. You go do the other stuff you wanted to do. On the way, I thought I think that web site said there's a closer one - let's go look.

econd problem: The newer one is coming, not here yet. But hey, there's a 7-11 type place right across the street, they've got a competitor's box, let's give them a shot. Ah, rats. No Mao or Vampires. Okay, fine. Lets go to that store we used last time, see if it works for me.

Third problem: It didn't . So, as I have the time, I called the customer service number on the side. Yeah, the box must be broken, the person on the phone said. We won't be able to get anyone out to it for two or three days. Holiday weekend, you know. But there's another one about half a mile from there. Oh, yeah, I had forgotten that one. Okay, allons-y!

Fourth problem: That one is under an awning. It rained last night. Guess where some of the rainwater collected, and dripped? But I soldiered on. Selected Mao; got it. In cart. Selected Vampire. Ah, rats: not in this box. Um, okay. Need something light. Sherlock Holmes, with Robert Downey Jr. Entered credit card info. First movie pops out. Sherlock. Big message on screen: The movie you have selected is not dispensed. Your credit card will not be charged. Gee, thanks.

Technology. It could use some work, y'know?

Friday, May 27, 2011



As we get closer to actually going to France, I find myself wondering what, exactly, we're going to be doing, and where we're going to be going.

And I don't even want to try translating that into French.

The primary reason that we're going is to meet the family of the girl who was with us last year. Ironically, we might not see her at all, or, if we do, it will be only for dinner at the restaurant/culinary school where she's working. Where she might actually be working that night, in fact. I'm a little sad about that. Over the past year, I've gone through phases of missing the kid, then being irritated by her - mostly because she's so terribly bad about replying to emails and such. I'd think this is the kid we really liked? Want to see her again? Not hardly. Well.... I haven't quite resolved that dichotomy in my mind, and I doubt I will. I'm not going to try. We're going to France to meet the family, and as a nice side note, to see some of a lovely part of the country. Its to be able to talk with them that I've worked so hard to learn French. Along the way, I wanted to be able to go into a boulangerie and say Bonjour, Monsieur...Je voudrais deux bagguetes, s'il vous plait, et un croissant. Merci. C'est combien? Ah - prenez-vous le carte bleue? Non? Je comprends. Je paierai avec liquide. Au revoir. Now I can. (All but one word in that string was from memory.) My goal is to experience being in Burgundy. Not being a tourist - being a guest. Same with being in Paris. There's no way we're going to see Paris in four days - we aren't even going to try. We have a few places where we'd like to go, but mostly, it'll be to experience being in Paris. Seeing the kid will be nice, but it's not why we're going. Though, I admit, if her parents later say They're so nice! Why didn't you keep in touch with them? - well, that'd be okay. Petty of me, I know.

All of this means that I really don't know where we'll be going when we're there, for the most part. Wineries, vineyards? Probably. Castles and chateaus? Mostly likely - one or two. Certainly, we're going down to Lyon. And in Paris, I know where we're staying, and what we'd like to see. But the rest of the trip is going to be freeform. We're going to take each day as it comes. This is unusual for us, who like to have things planned out, but given that we really don't know what to expect, I'm thinking its the best approach.

Or is that hope?

Thursday, May 26, 2011


The last time my daughter drove by herself, she called quickly after departure. Her voice was shaky, and she was breathing hard. She'd had an accident.

Tonight, she drove again, by herself. She called sooner than I expected, and the first thing I heard was her taking a deep breath. Oh, no....

"Just calling to say I got here okay", she said.


High Speed Robotics

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Sometimes, I just get overwhelmed.Usually, I don't, and usually, it's because I don't think deeply about many things. When I do -- when I give more than the most cursory thought to some issues, some concepts -- I get overwhelmed.

Right now, I'm reading a book titled The School. It's a memoir from a woman who was a teacher in a Pennsylvania high school -- though she doesn't say which, I get the impression that it's a suburban school near one of the big cities -- Philadelphia, possibly. I picked up the book at a book sale by the local college, thinking that it was stories about what it's like to be a teacher. Boy, is it ever. The book is rampant with notes about school board members more interested in the budget than education, principals more interested in keeping the gym clean than education, teachers more interested in getting to the end of the day than education. Every so often, there's a note about a victory, but you get the feeling that the victories are accidental -- the monkeys actually typed The Taming of the Shrew, after all.

And I wonder how much of this is true about my daughter's school? I bet, a lot.

It makes me think of the attitudes of the Republicans in Wisconsin and other places, who see teachers as a cheap and easy way to affect their budget. And it makes me think of my own glib comments about how the school really ought to do THIS, or THAT ... when I really have no clue about what's possible in our school system, or even if my great idea is worth spit. Because I've moved on to other things, and I'm not thinking about that any more. Only the teachers are, and they have to live with it. They can't make a glib speech and move on. I think about that, and I think do I have any idea at all whats happening here?

This happens when I think about other things, too. How Great Britain has mutated into such an intensively surveillanced society, and how people want to do that here. How Republicans seem to generally suck, these days, and whether Obama's right to include them in policies anyway (and I bet Republicans could be easily found who'd say they never get asked to be involved unless they give over all their core principles. Nyah nyah, back and forth. ) How the economy could well tank again. How terrorists still exist. How....

And I get overwhelmed.

Monday, May 23, 2011


So now it's October 21st? Wow.

Bears, You Say?

Sunday, May 22, 2011


My daughter has been tossing the cat into the air and chanting Rapture Kitty!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

It Takes A Network

One of the people at the polls made a funny comment to me. I was talking casually with them about how we did things, and she said that in the years since we'd started, I'd loosened up quite a bit. I was surprised, and asked what she meant. "Well ", she said, "the first time we did this, you were pretty hands-on. You wanted to be involved in everything we did. Which makes sense, because we were all new to this. But over time, you got to the point where you trusted us to do what we were supposed to do. You only got involved with the things where we actually needed you."

I thought that was a great compliment. The idea of leadership by exception, if I can use that phrase, came to mind this afternoon when I was reading an article in the Wilson Quarterly called Learning from Al Qaeda, about the command structure used by that organization. The article's based on one in Foreign Policy, It Takes A Network, where Stanley McChrystal talks about what they learned over time regarding the need for command-and-control structure to infuse an organization and keep it effective and on-track. They found that what worked for the American military was virtually the opposite of what worked for AQI:

Like all too many military forces in history, we initially saw our enemy as we viewed ourselves.... By habit, we started mapping the organization in a traditional military structure, with tiers and rows. At the top was Zarqawi, below him a cascade of lieutenants and foot soldiers. But the closer we looked, the more the model didn't hold. Al Qaeda in Iraq's lieutenants did not wait for memos from their superiors, much less orders from bin Laden. Decisions were not centralized, but were made quickly and communicated laterally across the organization. Zarqawi's fighters were adapted to the areas they haunted, like Fallujah and Qaim in Iraq's western Anbar province, and yet through modern technology were closely linked to the rest of the province and country.

Essentially, they found that because of the networked structure that AQI used -- one based not on rigid authority but on location, mission, and even who you were married to -- the enemy was nimble; because of the hierarchical structure that the US military used, they were not.

So they changed.

But fashioning ourselves to counter our enemy's network was easier said than done, especially because it took time to learn what, exactly, made a network different. As we studied, experimented, and adjusted, it became apparent that an effective network involves much more than relaying data. A true network starts with robust communications connectivity, but also leverages physical and cultural proximity, shared purpose, established decision-making processes, personal relationships, and trust. Ultimately, a network is defined by how well it allows its members to see, decide, and effectively act. ... Although we got our message out differently than did our enemies, both organizations increasingly shared basic attributes that define an effective network. Decisions were decentralized and cut laterally across the organization. Traditional institutional boundaries fell away and diverse cultures meshed. The network expanded to include more groups, including unconventional actors. It valued competency above all else -- including rank. It sought a clear and evolving definition of the problem and constantly self-analyzed, revisiting its structure, aims, and processes, as well as those of the enemy. Most importantly, the network continually grew the capacity to inform itself.

It's a fascinating article.

Dollar Med

Over the years, I've heard occasionally about 'concierge medicine', also called 'retainer medicine'. Basically, you pay a fee to a doctor for the privilege of coming to them and paying for a visit. Frequently, there's no insurance company involvement. The doctors involved always say that they don't do this to make more money; they do it "to practice medicine the way they want". They intend that to mean "to give full and thoughtful care to people, without pencil-pushers peering over their shoulder".

When I was at the polls, one woman there told me that she went to a local doc who practices that kind of medicine, and she really likes it. She feels as if she gets attention, and the doctor is her partner. (This woman is a nurse, and her husband is a doctor, so she's pretty into the medical ethos.) I started thinking about whether it might make sense for us to do this. Still that lingering feeling about they just do it for the money - because, despite what they say, these docs almost always do make more money, while working less hours and having less stress, but still..... So I did a search for a local doc who does that, and I found an article done by our local PBS on that very subject. And this image of the doctor being interviewed leapt out at me.



Found at The Berry.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


I've mentioned that working at the polls isn't a great deal of fun. Actually, it is -- but not all of it. The fun parts are fixing problems, answering questions, keeping things moving. The not-so-much parts are getting up at 430 so I can get to the church by six... and the process of shutting it all down, with the extensive arrangement of forms and documents. Here's part of my shut-down checklist, as an example:

With all officers, judge signs Affadavit of Voter Identification form (from WHITE BOX) TO: WHITE BOX
Judge signs Record of Assisted Voters form (from WHITE BOX) Files with used assistance-request Declarations TO: ENVELOPE K / BLACK BAG 2 (Note: no Envelope A exists, even though mentioned on Envelope K)
Put 1 complete copy Numbered List of Voters TO: ENVELOPE E / BLACK BAG 2 (Note: there is no Envelope A)
Put 1 complete copy Numbered List of Voters TO: ENVELOPE F >> ENVELOPE B (for Minority Inspector)
Take one set signed Oaths from Envelope G and put TO: ENVELOPE H >> ENVELOPE B (for Minority Inspector)
Put Envelope G with remaining 1 set of Oaths TO: BLACK BAG 2
Judge confirms that Compensation Request forms (including judge's) are completed. TO: BLACK BAG 2 (no envelope is used for this)

There's about 56 steps, overall. None of them is especially difficult, but at the end of a long day, when all you want to do is get out of there, and when there's a certain amount of paranoia about turning the stuff in at the voting office (is this going to be the time I forgot something key?) - well, not fun. I think that if I could do the middle part - say, from around 8AM till around 7 PM - I'd do it. It's the other parts that make me think that when my 'term of office' is up (I put that in quotes because, while I do have a term of office - I was elected for four years - it seems pretentious) - anyway, when it's up, I'll say No mas. Or however you say that in French. No plus?

None of which means I'm not interested in articles about the Next Big Election, and the technology that they're going to use to try and win it.

Office Supplies TIE

From Instructables.

School Standards

This morning, I managed to spark my daughter.

She had mentioned that her health teacher is absolutely convinced that if you eat right, you will never get any form of cancer. I expressed some surprise at that view, and she said, dismissively, that he was a lousy teacher -- everyone knew he'd been hired to be a wrestling coach; being a health teacher was just something they gave him to do. So I asked her what she thought generally about her teachers. She said she'd liked all of the ones she'd had, thus far (presumably not including the health one). I told her that a woman with whom I'd worked at the polls told me that colleges don't like getting transcripts from this high school because they find them too confusing -- what's the value of this course versus that course; is that a weighted grade; what does class rank mean in their environment. She erupted, telling me that the school says they grade the way they do - 76-84 is a C, 85-94 is a B, 95-100 is an A - because that's how colleges do it, so they're "holding us to a higher standard. But everyone knows that what it REALLY means is that you get a 90 here, and you have a B, while another school, you get an A -- and that's all the college looks at. She thought a minute, and added It used to be that they said you had to get a certain number of credits by senior year to graduate; now, you have to have it each year. Before, if you didn't have the credits for a year, you still moved up, and just got the credits the next year; now, you don't move up until you have that year's credits. Paige (a friend of her's) wasn't going to graduate with us because she didn't have all of this year's credits; now she's graduate with us anyway because she's taking a summer course, so she'll have the credits. Even though the summer course is way easier than the same course during the school year!

She was actively steamed. Now, some of the school's policies, I happen to agree with -- don't wait till the last year to make sure that the kid has enough credits, for example. And I know its tough to compare courses even in the same school, let alone across schools -- is a kid doing tenth-year-math in the ninth year here at the same level as a kid doing AP tenth year math in the tenth year there? I'm glad I don't have to navigate those waters. But I remember that teens can be actively aroused by perceived inequality -- and clearly, this is one of them.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Poll - axed

Yesterday was my binannual day at the polls. The day when I get up at about 4:30, if not earlier, drive to the church where our precinct polling station is, meet the rest of the crew, and set up the polling stations. At 7 AM, we unlock the doors, and the flood comes in. When I first did this, in the last Presidential election, there actually was a flood -- they were out the door, up the hill, and into the parking lot. Now, it's usually five or ten people, max. Yesterday, it was three.

At one time, we had six people in line. Usually, it was one. Or none. Mostly none.

One guy forgot to push the 'vote' button, started walking away. After about 30 seconds, a beeper sounds. We call that a 'runaway voter'. It usually means that their vote gets deleted -- we're not allowed to press the button for them. But this was a guy in a walker, moving slow. We got him turned around.

One guy asked if the screen could be made larger, because he'd forgotten his glasses. Apparently, he was able to see, but not read. Had to tell him no. Later, one of the others reminded me that we could have just given him the handicapped machine, which can read the ballot to him. Wish I'd thought of that.

I did a lot of reading. Each time I sat, my feet said Okay, this is good. You aren't planning on standing again any time real soon, are you?

Got to bed around 10:30.

Cheap Flights


Baseball players catch the ball. I get that.

Only, they don't usually do it like this.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


I'm not fond of gun rights people. It takes a bit to make me think that a gun carrier is in the right, and the cops are wrong.

When cops attempt to arrest someone for openly carrying a licensed weapon, and then give up when they find out that the gun carrier is within his rights -- and then, later, charge him with reckless endangerment because he didn't submit to the will of the cops -- and not because he taped the confrontation and broadcast it -- Yeah, that'll do it.

But the cops say that the 'reckless endangement charge isn't retaliation for looking like fools.


Monday, May 16, 2011


Daughter, working on Final Assessment Project for History:

Dad, Vietnam's still two countries, right?
Um, nope. Hasn't been for a while.
You mean Ho Chi Minh won?
Effectively, yes.

And they wonder why I speak disparagingly of our school system. Not that I could do better....

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday, Dimanche

Several things to do today.

For one, I have to go through the materials for Tuesday's election. They give you two large black bags that include a white box that's absolutely crammed with forms. The idea today is to go through them, separating them into Stuff I might need and Stuff voters might need. I've used just about all of the forms over time -- possibly not the ones where someone wants to challenge the right of another voter to be there, but that's about it -- and only about half of the directions, guidances, and other documents they stick in there. I was told once that we're actually supposed to post all of the forms, but once you get to the point where you have multiple copies of each one up on the wall, and you still have forms left, I figure its okay not to post them. This is the next to next to last time I'll be doing this. It only happens twice a year, but I still get tired, thinking about getting up at 5AM, worrying about did I remember to do everything - this despite my checklist, which hasn't failed me in the last three election events - and having to tote all that stuff out to the voting office around 9PM. So, this time, then the election in November, then one more primary next year, and that'll be it. I don't want to be doing this in my late sixties!

For another, I have to quickly review the material that my mento is studing in Social Studies. I really don't have a lot of hope for him - he's the classic smart-but-distracted kid. I think he'll be seeing sixth grade again next year.

And, of course, I have to study French. I was moderately surprised this morning to read Nous allons au theatre and realize that it made perfect sense to me. One month, and about 12 Skype-based classes to go. I'm looking forward to the trip, I really am. Not sure what I'm going to do to keep my linguistic prowess current afterwards. I told my wife that we'll just have to go to France frequently. She said or other French-speaking countries. Like Haiti? I asked.

Kind of a glum day at church today. They announced that the pastor had died after another stroke, at the hospice. Made me look at all of the people in the church and notice how many had white hair. And to think about where, in my probable life span, I am. Kind of a sobering thought.

Zombie Marie

Found at XKCD, here.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Actually, Yes

Found here.

Play Misty

Its a somewhat rainy day, and I'm not feeling particularly motivated.

I just got back from a trip out to the local offices of the voting organization. I had to pick up the materials for the election this Tuesday -- the documents, the flag, the VOTE HERE signs. Its always a bit chaotic there, as they have about 60 people showing up in about 90 minutes to get their stuff. This morning, they managed to have it be chaotic with only about 10 people picking up stuff. It didn't help that the people who have, literally, been tearing up the road outside of the building for about two years now are still at it. Their latest endeavor towards the cause of chaos: putting about 25 barriers up in front of the building's only entrances, so that you get to weave in and out to transit the area. It's so bad, coming out, in daylight, I couldn't tell where the lane was supposed to be. It's going to be a real freakin' joy, come Tuesday night.

I'm also not too motivated about French, at the moment. I think its because it has occurred to me that no matter how hard I work, I will not be fluent in the language come five weeks from now. Oh, I'll be able to make myself understood, but I won't be fluent. Even little things are really starting to irritate me, like when do you use 'a' and when do you use 'de', which I would have thought was obvious, but it turns out, not entirely. So part of me wants to stop even trying, which I know is silly.

I heard this morning that the United States is 'trying to manage the message' about the death of bin Laden. It's only a matter of time before the whackjobs start saying 'well, if he really wasn't armed when the SEALS showed up, they should have arrested him! Had a trial! With evidence!' Apparently, part of that 'management' is 'leaking information', such as telling Reuters that they found porn in the compound. I gather thats an attempt to diminish his image, which I don't get -- so, if you liked him, and thought his plans to kill lots of people were okay, you're going to change your mind because there was porn there? And then theres the 'well, we're not going to show people pictures of him, but we'll show these senators', one of whom then feels it necessary to give a graphic description of what he saw - the bullet went in here and came out there, his whole face was .... So this is going to help us? Maybe I'm simple, but I figure people who didn't like him will be some degree of pleased that he's dead, and those who did, won't. Why do we have to 'manage' this? (Of course, I have such a negative image of the Administration's ability to manage any message -- hello, health care! -- I just can't see them getting this right. Partially because true believers will believe no matter what, and others won't. )

I suspect that as I get older, my willingness to accept that others might be right -- more right than I -- weakens. So, bleh. Maybe I'll go find something to read.

Friday, May 13, 2011


From Abtruse Goose.


"Led by rector Philip Black, the good teachers of Bell Baxter high launched themselves into a flash mob routine which included YMCA, the Macarena, Thriller and the classic Timewarp."

Production values suck, but I would have paid good money to see it. The comments from the students make it appear that they know how lucky they were!


Found in this time and space.

Thursday, May 12, 2011


From the Translation Telephone web site, which takes your starting phrase, runs it through twenty translations, and returns the final result:

I gave it:
There are those who say that politicians are stupid, but I say Stupid? They don't know the meaning of the word.

And it gave me:
Politicians say who is stupid, but I'm stupid as well? I really do not know.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Two Systems In Need of Retooling

a) iTunes sucks, big time. It's not nearly as intuitive or magical as they think.

b) Google does too many animated doodles. I don't go there for entertainment.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


The last three pairs of shoes I bought -- not that I get them all that often -- were exactly the same size and style. Rockport Walkers, size 12.

Today, my wife asked that we go to a local shoe store where they still remember how to measure your feet. I wasn't too keen on the idea, but she thought it'd be worthwhile. So we did.

Apparently, I've been wearing shoes that are too small, for at least two years. If not longer.

Learning's Hard

The daughter's unhappy because I won't let her drive over to the school and back by herself. She hasn't spent a month driving with us in the car with her, which we wanted her to do to show us that she could. Truthfully, I think she could do it. But she didn't do what we asked her to do.

The mento didn't read the material I gave him to prep for a test this week. He said he did look at it; he just didn't read it.

And my French lesson was hard, because, of all things, I'm starting to confuse words I know, like fourteen and forty. Sometimes, I think of the Spanish, not the French. Gah.

Monday, May 09, 2011


I wonder how terribly awful a current remake of The Sting would be?

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Wednesday, May 04, 2011


My credit union, InTouch, just did a major conversion of their online application. If the goal was to make me think maybe it's time to switch to another bank.....they succeeded admirably.

Complex screens. Redundant screens. Obscure screens. New passwords. And many, many assurances that this is a GOOD thing!

Customer service? Call the number, go through three levels of phone mail hell, get nobody answering the phone.


Tuesday, May 03, 2011



We got Skype last week for me to use with the French lessons, and today we got a webcam. I was playing with the camera. moving it around, looking at the image showing under my chin, my ears, at the top of my.....

Where the hell did all of my hair go?

Monday, May 02, 2011


I still doubt strongly that we'll get an iPad. But this, found on the Humorsharing web site, showing the work of some very creative people, is impressive.

Here's a fascinating video about how one of those was done. Would that I had the money, guts, and local expertise to get it done to one of our vehicles.


I'm not a designer, so some of this isn't applicable to me. And I have to honestly say that most of what this video says that I think is a good idea, I didn't do. I wish I had, but I didn't.

But I can, at least, publicize the ideas.

Going Solo. from Studio Botes on Vimeo.


Bin Laden's death is a good thing, but not a great thing, because it won't stop the tide of hatred that he fomented. It's as much of a symbol as we want to make it.

There's a song my daughter likes which includes the phrase "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but chains and whips excite me." I remember that as "...but whips and chains excite me", but I suppose the difference is meaningless. I always liked that phrase - - and the variant, "Sticks and stones may break my bones....and usually, that's enough". But I have to admit that having my daughter listening to a song with that in it disturbs me, just a little.

I know nothing - nothing - about the realities of high speed rail. I have a vague feeling about how it can be done badly, and some things that can be done to make it effective. I believe that its a great idea that is very difficult to do, fraught with opportunities for boondoggles and politics. But I really know nothing. Except that I totally love articles such as this one.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Sunday Morning

Today I discovered that the Nutella-filled tortillas are rather nice -- though they're a bit sloppy to make, what with the melted butter on the outside and melting Nutella on the inside, they do dry enough so that's not really a problem. You've got to have your act together, though -- can't be going to look for something while the tortilla's cooking. Also, I found that cooking the tortilla with a pan lid atop it helped a bit -- they were tending to puff up when cooking (though they did deflate later), but with the lid, not so much. I think we'd make them again. To be honest, I'd love to see what that'd be like with crepes. I make lousy crepes. I'd like to get better at that. I think that crepes work better when someone is cooking them while you're still eating -- when we do it, it seems like they cool pretty quickly, even when put into something to warm them. Yet another reason to have staff. I also want to try making croissants again. In theory they're easy to make; in practice, not. Not for me, anyway.

Since I joined that French Etc site (the one where I'm getting half-hour language lessons directly from the woman who runs it; she says they have a staff, but it looks like she does pretty much all of it; she must work very, very hard), I've been getting mailings from them about their podcasts. I'm not a big podcast listener, because I haven't figured out an easy (for which read: hands-off) method of getting the podcasts to a portable format. I'd like to be able to just plug my MP3 player into the laptop and have the transfer automagically happen (can smart phones do that, I wonder?) but I don't know how. If I want to listen to a podcast on the player, I have to physically find it in the RSS reader and move it. (Oh, the agony; oh, the travail.) But yesterday I took the time to actually listen to the podcast, and you know what? Its actually pretty good. She has a nice sense of timing, so while you get breaks to repeat what she says, you don't get a lot of dead air time; plus, she repeats stuff after she's gone through it once, which I like. I am glad that I went to those French Immersion courses, but if I had known about this web site, I'd have done this, instead. It worked out to be $12.50 a half hour for the Immersion, and I 'spoke' for about 6 minutes, at most; this is $20 a half hour, and I speak about 20 minutes -- including specific corrections, role plays, and general conversation. I'm still a little tense about doing it (am I going to sound like an idiot this time?), but I like it. And at half an hour a shot, it lasts long enough to get me going, not so long that I get bored.

Saw a girl at church today -- couldn't tell if she was in her late teens or mid-twenties - who looked as if she was going for a retro look, from a miniskirt to soft leather boots to a patterned headband. She looked really nice. I wanted to tell her that, but she left early. Just as well. I'm given to understand that for a guy my age to say that to someone her age can very easily come across as creepy.