Friday, May 31, 2013

Rein in Your Computer

News Headline: “National Spelling Bee winning word: ‘knaidel.’ ”

QT put the winning words from the most recent five years though its spell-checker.

The spell-checker failed on all five:  “Laodicean,”  ”stromuhr,” “cymotrichous,” “guetapens” and “knaidel.”

Never miss an opportunity to humiliate your computer.

From Zay Smith.....

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

This is just Wrong


Conversations aren't going too well for me, lately.  Nothing major, just....unsettling.

For one thing, I was supposed to talk with a new partner yesterday.  This is the person I spoke with for five hours during the first week.  I'd gotten a note saying that she was looking forward to talking again this week.  Yesterday, nothing.  No sight of her on Skype.  I figure hey, things happen, she'll be around later.  Probably true.  But still....

And for the other, yesterday while I was waiting for my mento to do something, I noticed that a kid in the classroom was wearing a wrist bracelet.  This kid is stocky, with short hair, but obviously had breasts, so I figured it was a girl who identified as a boy.  The kid looked depressed, so I made a comment about the bracelet.  I said Yeah, I wondered what the wristband that guy was wearing was.

Whereupon the reply was I'm a girl. 

I know, probably not a big deal.... but I feel badly about it.  I sure to hell hope I didn't set back two years of therapy. Clearly, I'm not as good at perking up kid's spirits as I thought.

Maybe I should keep my mouth shut around people I don't know, huh?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


You remember those ads about How does the guy who drives the snowplow.....get TO the snowplow?

My daughter's working her first day shift at her summer job.  She had to get up early.  Which meant that I had to get up earlier to cook breakfast.


Monday, May 27, 2013


We have a samsung galaxy tablet.  Its pretty nice.  One thing, though.

You watch a video, and the device's sound is off? It turns the sound on.  Usually ok, but if you are in bed, trying to be quiet? And suddenly something's music comes blasting out?

Yeah.  Not cool.


Once again, an XKCD comic that I love.

Oregano, You Say?

From Not Always Working:

A Long Time Ago In A Grocery Store Far, Far Away

| Ontario, Canada | Employees, Geeks Rule
(An employee giving out free olive samples at the grocery store.)
Employee: “Hey, you should try some too, they’re really good!”
My Stepfather: “I don’t really like olives, but thanks.”
Employee: “But they are different! They’re cured in oil instead of brine, and have oregano on them to give them a really nice flavour.”
(The employee continues to wax-poetic about the olives until my Stepfather finally agrees to try a small one.)
My Stepfather: “Hey, that’s pretty good. Did you Jedi mind trick me or something?”
Employee: *blank stare*
Me: “These are not the droids you’re looking for?” *hand motion*
Employee: *continues to stare blankly*
(Another employee, Employee #2, who is stocking shelves behind us and has heard the exchange is nearly on the floor laughing. As we walk away, we hear her trying to explain things to Employee #1…)
Employee #2: “Okay, so there is this movie called Star Wars…”

And now I want some of them..... Canada, you say? 

Moving It

Found on Wall to Watch.

Marilyn Monroe, Eli, Wallach, Thelma Ritter, Clark Gable (Misfits 1961)
Sophia Loren (It Started in Naples 1960)
Jayne Mansfield (Dog Eat Dog! 1964)
Natalie Wood (Gypsy 1962)
Kim Novak, William Holden (Picnic 1955)
Anita Ekberg (La Dolce Vita 1960)
Ann-Margret (The Swinger 1966)
Gina Lollobrigida, Rock Hudson (Come September 1961)
Romy Schneider, Jack Lemmon (Good Neighbor Sam 1964)
Brigitte Bardot (Come Dance With Me! 1959)
Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal, Sandy Dennis (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 1966)
Jill St. John (The Oscar 1966)
Mamie Van Doren (Untamed Youth 1957)
Shirley MacLaine, Gene Kelly (What a Way to Go! 1964)
Cyd Charisse, Robert Taylor (Party Girl 1958)
Raquel Welch (Flareup 1969)

Saturday, May 25, 2013


Had a conversation with my daughter about money.  Nothing specific.

She said that when she was younger, and realized that other kids got a bigger allowance than her, she would cry.  And then she'd get over it.

Is this a cool kid, or what?


Found on Imgur.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Thursday, May 23, 2013


Though I suppose that somewhere in the crowd there are people saying Dammit, I just want to get to my airplane!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

So Who Won?


My daughter just left for her third day of work.  She is already counting the days until she is done (about 59).  I asked her how much she earns an hour, and gave her a rough calculation of what she'll earn if she sticks it out.  She said that helps.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


I'm not a beer drinker.  I've always thought the taste was strange.  At best, I might try an 'artisan' beer if we happened to be at a restarant offering that, perhaps a 'wheat beer', and I could drink about a third of a glass, but that was it.

Last week, we went to a local restaurant that specializes in Belgian food, and, what the hell, I tried a Belgian Raspberry beer.

It was actually good.


Monday, May 20, 2013


Yahoo won't screw up Tumblr.  No.......  they'll just make it better. 

And we all know what that means. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013


Courtesy of The Joy of Tech:

Out of Darkness

We went to see Star Trek: Into Darkness last night.  The initial take on it was that it was satisfactory, but as we thought it over later -- even just on the drive home from the theater -- we decided that no, actually, it wasn't. There are several reasons for this.

For one,  much of the movie could be an Arnold Schwarzenegger or Bruce Willis flick -- lots of noise, things blowing up, crashing together.  Several times we looked at each other and said what did he just say? Wait, who are those guys?  This thing that just happened, is it good or bad? You need a cheat sheet.  There's a line in Moss Hart's autobiography where he talks about a play he has written, one that isn't quite working, and he isn't sure why -- it's funny, and people are laughing, but still, they seem unsatisfied.  He consults a friend who suggests that he insert a quiet scene to give the audience a chance to catch their breath.  Would that that friend was available to JJ Abrams.

For another, the plotting seems to be at the level of Saturday morning kids shows. I'll get you next time, Kirk!  Next time!!!!  There's not much of a backstory for the bad guy.  There's a vague one -- this guy did something really bad, then they toss in a well wait maybe he's not a bad guy, followed by other not-really-much-of-a surprise events, including Kirk going out to kick ass and take names after several attempts to display emotion on the part of the lead characters. (Kirk and Spock don't fist-bump, but if they did, it would be better than the existing Kirk looks chagrined or Spock looks perplexed.)    

Yet another problem is that they have several cute little references to Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan.  (Okay, fair's fair: the first reference is unexpected and actually kind of neat.)  They do everything but the Monty Python wink-wink-nudge-nudge -- including, in places, using exactly the same dialogue as was used in Wrath of Khan, down to the identical accompanying hand gesture. Exactly. My mento, the kid I mentor at the school, will sometimes say, referring to an event in a video game, Really?  They're really doing that?  I had the same reaction.  Was this scripted by JJ's 13 year old son?

Plus, they killed off a character who, objectively, was minor, but I liked him.  They didn't use Cumberbatch nearly enough.  They seemed fascinated by this thing between Spock and Uhura.  They inserted another character who added virtually nothing to the plot, apparently so viewers would say awwww....look who it is!   There's at least one then a miracle occurred moment. And....and... oh, you get the idea. 

I don't think this is the death knell for the Star Trek series, but I think it's wounded.

Friday, May 17, 2013


The problem with having read The Rook, by Daniel O'Malley,  is that now everything else seems lame.  Why? Because it was unbelievably good.Stay-up-two-hours-after-going-to-bed-to-finish-it good.  If you liked The Hunt for Red October, think of how it felt, first time you read it.  Like that.

Fortunately, he's writing a sequel.  I should stock up on sleep now, while I have the chance. 

Not Exactly A Flashmob

but who cares?

Of course, there's always this --

and this -


I have little motivation today, and none at all for a certain foreign language.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Always nice to learn that the offspring has scheduled herself for an appointment  that we knew nothing about until the time for it was past, an hour ago."But I thought you knew about that!  I thought you would tell me!"

Welcome to growing up, kid.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Seems fair


My daughter just read to me the hand-made Mother's Day card she's going to give her mother when we see her tonight.

It was so cool, it brought tears to my eyes.  Literally.

Yes, Please

When I was younger, I would have wanted one of these. I would have thought it fun and even elegant.

In fact, I still do.

Found in the Art Is In My Heart tumblr.


I am continuing to read The Rook, in between bouts of dammit I need to finish translating that short French article, and I must say that I'm starting to worry.  This book is so good -- can he maintain the level for the next 300 pages?  Or will the book, at some point, jump the shark?  Only one way to know, I guess.

Sunday, May 12, 2013


The restaurant we went to for Mother's Day brunch had these in the men's restroom.

(Not, not me. I found it  here.  But is that awesome, or what?)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

What ho....

There's a decent little restaurant in a town not too far from here, and today we went there for lunch.  Parking, I noticed a small bookstore that I'd seen before but always thought fah, small bookstore, small town, what could they possibly have?  Two books heavier and fifty bucks lighter, I was walking back to the car when my wife pointed out that the town library was just across the street.  Since it's just up the block from a local college, I thought It has potential, let's take a look.... Twenty minutes later, two more books heavier, we returned to the car.

Given that I had the two new books -- not to mention the four or five at home -- I didn't really need the library books, but they spoke to me. Take the first one: seriously,  how can you put down a book that starts with this?

Dear You:  The body you are wearing used to be mine.

Friday, May 10, 2013


Just learned that my mento, who'd started to show some improvement, has slipped dramatically in his performance.

Hoo, boy.  Wonder if I'll see him next year -- or if, truthfully, it would even be good for him if I did.


I talk with several people in France as part of my French practice. Four of them are verbal (over skype), two are text (also over skype, or email).  They're all good people - interesting, willing to accept my brand of French. I have a theory that people who are trying to learn another language, and use a tool like Conversation Exchange, self-select: these tend to be interesting people. ( Except me, of course!)

I like the people that I talk with. We're not close, but we get along well.  If several weeks goes by without talking to them, it's the opportunity to practice that I miss, not so much actually being in touch with them. I'd like to talk to them more often (greedily: if I don't speak French often, my confidence goes down.  Stupid, I know.), but if I don't, it's okay.

And it doesn't always work out. I've had partners who flamed out immediately - I get this I don't want to talk to this person again vibe -  while others just seemed to drift away.  Part of that is because they're actual working people, while I'm not; consequently, I have a lot of time to talk.  They have to juggle life.  I remember what that's like; sometimes, like today, when a plumber is coming out to the house on the same day that I've got a session with my mento, I still do. In any case, I'm a little sad when that happens, but I've grown to expect it.

There's two people that I do feel close to, though.  One's a retired woman who lives with her companion in Toulouse, and another is a man who lives with his family in Aix-en-Provence.  I'm actually going to visit them, this summer, for a couple of days each.  And a third: a woman who I text with fairly often, a pre-law student in Paris.  When we visit Paris, I'm finally going to meet her, too.  (I'm really looking forward to that.  I warned her that although I know it's not French, and I know that she really prefers a sort of hands-off approach to life, I'm probably going to hug her when I see her.)  I know more about these people, and their lives, which makes them a bit more 'real' to me.

And now, perhaps, one more.  Two nights ago, I spoke for the first time with a woman who lives somewhat south of Paris.  Normally, conversations are semi-rigid - we speak in French (mostly) for about half an hour, and then English (mostly) for a half hour.  Right around the hour mark, one of us makes a comment about the next time, and we look at calendars, and then we're done.

This new person, we spoke for three hours, the first time.  Granted, it was exceptionally easy for me, because about 90% was in English, and her English is very good.  Still, three hours!  And then the next day, yesterday, we spoke again, for two hours -- and afterwards she sent me a note to say that, in fact, she hadn't wanted to stop; I had misunderstood a phrase she used (this conversation was about 90% in French), so she was perplexed when I ended the conversation.  Five hours in two days with a new person!  And we meshed.  We like the same kind of music.  We disagree with the same prevalent thoughts about how best to learn a foreign language (and it still startles me, sometimes. to think of English as a 'foreign language').  We got along so well that immediately after, I sent her two links to music that we'd been talking about, and she sent me a link to music that reminds her of someone special to her who'd died, a few years ago.

I try hard not to notice, by the way, that she's very pretty, too.

Smart, pretty, interesting, willing to speak French with me -- at least for a while, I think I have a new best friend.

Thursday, May 09, 2013


I don't often say that things are awesome.

This guy is awesome.

Mrs. Kelly's Monster.

If you like articles about neurosurgery, you'll probably like this.


I hate it when I discover a new author, someone who has created a character I like, someone I'd like to see more of, know more about, and then I find that the author likes to throw in some plot elements that - well, they don't resonate with me.  For example, do you like that local guy who's helping make the event happen? Let's kill him.  Or the person who's interesting, smart, upright, totally on your side?  Actually, she's totally not.  I don't mind twists and turns, they make books fun, but this kind of thing bothers me.  I feel like okay, trot out your damned nasty surprise, get it over with.

The Early Days

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Christmas Traditions

I have watched this multiple times, and I still like it. Dara O'Briain is a very funny man.

Strategic Alert

I used to be a missile launch officer.   Because of this, I am really glad that I'm not one now.

Heads and other body parts will roll.

Why Does Superman....

....stand that way?

(Hint:  It's not just to make his muscles bulge...)

(Found on Deadline.Com)

Napkin Art

Some people doodle on napkins.....and some do a little bit more.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

The difference

Reading an article about three women who were kidnapped in Ohio and kept captive for ten years.  This comment appeared in the article:

“I’m so thankful, God is good,” Kayla Rogers, a childhood friend of Ms. DeJesus, told The Cleveland Plain Dealer. “I’ve been praying. Never forgot about her, ever.”

And I think how good is a God that lets this happen? I guess that's the difference between me and her.  She believes.  I don't. And neither of us would ever be able to change the other's mind.

Saturday, May 04, 2013


Gotta have 'em.


I read only part of this, and got so perplexed, I had to stop and reread it.  I never did finish it, but what I read was enough for me to think Oh, come on....REALLY?? This is what you choose to worry about?

The thing is, that wouldn't be fair.  These people are serious.  They think that what's happening at the festival is wrong, and they want to change it. Okay, some are probably jokers, making a habit of being outraged, but most really do care. I think that's admirable.

Though, given that some attendees were irritated that the recorded music included a piece by a male singer, and given the comment about "The absence of guys does make for an absence of threat..." , I suspect that at least some of them would rather I kept that opinion to myself.


Apparently, its evil for us to know how often Congress benefits financially from insider-knowledge.


Sous Vetements

Ever notice that ads assume that all guys looking to buy underwear have the body of an Olympic track star?  And that, therefore, the stuff they show could be just sprayed on? This could be why most guys have their underwear actually purchased by their girlfriends.  Me, I'm looking for something that would look good on Buddha....

Eh, Just an Accident

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that a 5-year-old boy accidentally killed his 2-year-old sister earlier this week, shooting her with a Crickett .22-caliber single-shot rifle. The boy and his family apparently didn’t realize that a shell had been left in the gun. “Just one of those crazy accidents,” said Gary White, the coroner for Kentucky’s Cumberland County.



He sees massive federal investigation of a bombing as a threat?  Does he think someone set it off just so they could bring in the feds?  Just how warped is this guy's world view?

Friday, May 03, 2013


It's a very strange feeling to wake up feeling angry with my daughter.


I move that the NRA be declared a domestic terroristic organization.


Sometimes, it seems that all StumbleUpon knows about is a) web sites that delight in displaying the bizarre, and b) blogs where people publicize their version of Gramma Jopie's Famous Peanut Butter Oompahs.  It's enough to drive me back to hardcopy books.

Thursday, May 02, 2013


how is it, if I'm retired, and I have all the time in the world to do things, I can feel rushed and out of time?

part of it, I know, is that we have actually made all of the reservations for the trip this summer. This means that if I am going to gain any fluency in French, now is the time.

and part of it is going down to get my daughter from college twice in 4 days. The charm of the five hour each way drive has vanished. Yes, I'm glad that she got the summer job -- though finding out that the interview was oh, you're here?  You're breathing? You're hired takes some of the charm away from that, too.  But twenty hours of driving in four days. Yuck.