Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Not too surprising -- from the I Side With site. Though I'd have expected a higher congruence.

And who is Jill Stein? 

Monday, July 30, 2012


This morning, I was advised, by a person who told me, essentially, that my French sucked, to just listen to French language programs.  Not to understand them, just to hear the rhythm of the words.  For two to three hours at a time.  Background sounds.

About two hours of listening later....huh.  The words are still mostly incomprehensible, but they're starting to sound familiar.  Maybe she's onto something, after all.
The next day: listening, playing it loud enough to hear the words but not loud enough to hear them clearly, words that I know are starting to pop up, every so often.  This isn't a way to learn the meaning of words, but the words themselves, yeah, maybe.

Saturday, July 28, 2012


Just went for my first bike ride in a year and a half.  Outside of being nervous when I got on -- its pretty hard for me -- and almost falling off when I stopped --it wasn't bad.

Those gentle hills seem to have gotten steeper, though.

Friday, July 27, 2012


Ever had one of those things where you're making major changes, and you know that its a good idea, but still, in your gut you're thinking Oh man, I wish we weren't doing this, what if it doesn't work right?  Yeah, one of those.  We're doing that now.

When my wife decided to accept the early retirement from her company, it came along with an offer of financial plans from the massive company that administers the 401k and god knows what else.  We were pretty sure that things would look good, because we have enough money that - if my spreadsheet is right - we won't have to work again so long as we keep to the spending pattern we have now.  Since both of us are likely to do that, and since we have forecasted major expenses for the next fifteen years, and have insurance in place for the unexpected, we think yeah, we're probably ok.

So when we spoke to the financial planner, we were pleased to have him affirm that yeah, we looked to be in pretty good shape, and here was what he thought we should do -- which was, basically, take our 401ks, roll them into IRAs administered by the company, and start taking Social Security right now until I was eligible for Medicare. It sounded fairly impersonal to us, though, as we reflected, our life savings seem like a lot to us, but to a billion-dollar company, its not such a big deal.  Still, we wondered.  So we went to the guy who had drawn up our estate plans two years ago and essentially said What do you think -- does this sound good to you?  I'm not entirely sure that he started shaking his head before we finished the question.  His bottom line was look, this is a major company, they do this all the time.  They're not going to spend a lot of time on you. He strongly recommended that we talk to a local financial planner - someone we'd see face to face, someone we could reach easily.  We liked the sound of that, but, to be honest, we did wonder if perhaps he was just pimping for people he knew and dealt with.  Still, we asked for recommendations, and he gave us three.  We went to see the first one two weeks ago.  It's a relatively small bank - it might just be located in this state - with about twenty branches.  They -- one of the bank vice presidents and a local branch guy -- spent about 90 minutes with us, talking about our goals, our spending patterns, what we wanted to be able to do.  And then, yesterday, they gave us the high level plan for income and spending for the next twenty years, as well as the assumptions and goals that underlaid the plan. They'd looked at it all -- all of the options we have for pension pay outs, when each of us could take Social Security, the major expenses that we anticipate, the plans we have for the future.  They ran analyses on all of this, and came up with a plan that meets our goals, gives us enough, but not too much, cash in a ready bank account, and invests the rest for the long haul.

I'm not sure which we liked more -- the personal attention or that they gave us about ten times the amount of detail that the guy from the big company did.  So we told them that it sounded good, and what now.  The what now is: we transfer our 401ks to them, our Roth and traditional IRAs, our small investments.  They track and manage it all according to the standards they set to meet our goals and our way of approaching things (financially, we're not too comfortable with risk).  Any time we have a question, need extra cash over and above recurring withdrawals, we call them, they handle it and the money is there within about two days. Once a year, more often if we want, we meet with one of the bank officers to go over how things are going, what we like, what we don't like.

It sounds really good to me.  It also sounds scary.

Bearly Up


The punchline didn't actually make sense to me, but I thought it was funny anyway.

Clothing Drive


Tiny Buddha

Tiny Buddha on Courage: http://tinybuddha.com/wisdom-category/courage/

Took Me A Minute...

Sunday, July 22, 2012


One of the downsides about reading a lot about France is that you keep coming across books that say they're about France and French culture, when what they're really about is someone marrying someone from France, and in the process finding themselves.  They then spend the rest of the book drooling over the country, the wine, the cheese, and all the rest.

It's a very nice country with some very nice people, but, good god.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Now this is intruiging....  

Monday, July 16, 2012

Speaking French

I can get by fairly well in French.  There are buckets of things that I don't know, buckets of actual words, let alone, colloquialisms -- when do you say mois dernier and when do you say dernier mois, for example.  My pronunciation sucks. 

What brings this to mind is a conversation I had today, about 70% in English, with a woman who's a law intern in Paris.  She's pretty interesting just for that -- I consider that kind of thing exotic -- but it turns out that she is very thoughtful about some very deep concepts, like why are we here, and what is it that we're supposed to do with our lives.  The sort of thing that, when you're her age, seems perfectly reasonable, and when you get to my age, you think should we have pizza tonight?  So I like talking with her, and I want to do more of it.

Only, I want to do it verbally (she's very reluctant to do more than text) and in French -- at least, my half of the conversations.  And when I think that, I lock up, because, hell, I'm doing good to be able to say I want to go to the market and buy some milk -- discussing the great themes of life scares the living daylights out of me.

But I want to try, anyway.  Because thats the whole idea of Conversation Exchange -- to speak in each other's language, no matter how badly you suck at it.  Even if your sentences end up sounding like You like go it this thing, thing you said yesterday? It's got to start somewhere.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Friday, July 13, 2012


A friend mentioned having a problem with trust issues.  It put me in mind of when my wife and I were talking about marriage, having finally agreed that we were going to do it.  At the time, there were self-help articles that said that it should be clear who was the head of the household, so that if there was an irreconcilable division, and a decision had to be made, one would be made.  Although I kind of liked the idea of seeing myself in that role, I didn't very much like the idea that it implied things would always be my way, and that it ultimately didn't matter what my fiancee thought. I told her that to me it came down to trusting me, but if our positions were reversed, I could see how it might be really tough to do, because you're essentially giving up your self and hoping that you don't regret it later.  But if you don't, it might mean that you end up not having a relationship that you really want to have.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


The House of Silk is an amazingly good Sherlock Holmes novel. Equal to anything Doyle wrote, I believe.

Petit Dej

From-scratch cinnamon-streusel-covered buttermilk pancakes.  Not too shabby.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


I didn't sleep well last night, which is undoubtedlly why this morning I awoke thinking barrier personality. I'm not even sure that's a word, but I know where the thought comes from -- last night, we watched the program Perception.

 It's a knockoff of the House MD series -- in this version, the quirky main character is a neurochemist, or possibly neurobiologist, whose charming oddity is that he hallucinates that people are there when they're not.  These people usually have important clues to the resolution of a crime, things that he saw but didn't realize were significant.  He uses these clues to tag along with the perky FBI agent as she clears it all up, to the amazement of her drudge procedure-driven colleagues.  It's a wierd show, and I wouldn't put money on it hanging around, but then again, Psych is still on, so who knows.

I thought it sucked, though the scene where the cute girl took off her blouse was kind of nice.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Drive Recklessly


Just had a physical.  Much to my surprise, I'm apparently healthy. In fact, according to the doctor who looked at the results of my last colonoscopy -- and how I wish it was the last; man, those things suck -- my innards are completely clean.  She said that's pretty rare.  Which makes me a perfect ......

Nah, better not finish that.

Friday, July 06, 2012


This is how you know that you like your daughter:

When she calls at 11:15 PM from someplace in Indiana while she's waiting for the trip bus to load....and you're both tired... but both of you still get up to talk with her.


Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Tuesday, July 03, 2012



I never doubt why I married my wife, but there are times when I am surprised and delighted by something she says or does -- particularly when it results in me coming out of an intense funk.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Who are you?

Sometimes, people aren't who we think they are.  Sometimes, they really aren't.

As in, for example, the case of Alan Z. Feuer.


Oh, Okay

Found at The Brain Beyond.

Sunday, July 01, 2012


Last night, I went out to Redbox to pick up two comedies, but, to my surprise, one of them that the website assured me was there, wasn't.  So I picked up The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.  I asked my wife which she'd like to watch first, and she said Dragon -- if it's no good, we can switch to the other.

We've yet to see the comedy.  From the initial moments, Dragon captivated us.  It's an intense, powerful film.  Some of what they showed startled us and made us glad our daughter wasn't watching with us, but from start to finish, we were captivated.  When it was done, we thought Wow.

It's not for everyone, but it's excellent. 


July, we're not so sure about.

The reason?  Since January, we have been eagerly anticipating the arrival of the French family with whom we'd stayed, last year.  Back in January, they said they'd be coming in July, and we thought Great! We've  thought about places to take them, we've  cleaned and rearranged furniture, we've looked at recipes for foods that they might like -- American foods, yes, but not the run-of-the-mill stuff that we eat all the time. We wrote to them, six or seven or ten times, to say that we were thinking of them, we were hoping they can stay a long time. Asking when they'd come, so that we could make some reservations for some popular attractions.  We thought of New York, the Statue of Liberty, Washington, perhaps Williamsburg.  What would you like?

We did not receive a single response.  Not one.

To say that this flummoxed us is to put it mildly.

Perhaps we were entirely wrong about them. Or perhaps we were right, but things happened to change their minds about us, or the whole idea of coming.  Or maybe they just don't believe in the concept of answering letters. Whatever.  All we know right now is, if they come, we'll be pleased,  delighted even, but still: a little disgruntled.  Why didn't you answer? we'll be thinking.  And if they don't?  Even more so.

I've mentioned this to some of the French people I've spoken with, trying to find out if, perhaps, this is considered normal for French people.  And to a man, they've been surprised.  No response? Nothing at all?  They shake their heads. One of them said This is why I don't trust people. 

I still trust them, but I'm beginning to wonder if I'm just being a sap, again.

And like poking at a tooth that aches, I can't stop thinking about it. 

I'd Like To Believe

Part of why Canada is Cool