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.