Sunday, April 28, 2013

Except This One

I can accept the things that people say in Post Secrets.  Except this one.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Well, Then...

I actually doubt this is a real Shultz creation, but I like it.  Found on KGB Report.

They're a little big....

...but tasty.


I know that there are people who remodel parts of their home to look like the Enterprise, or the Batcave.  I wonder if anyone's attempted this?



I've been reading Michael Pollan's A Place of My Own, and I must say that although it's frequently more wordy than I like, it makes some interesting points about how houses work, what makes one better than the other - not just more functional, but more inviting, more prone to faciliate the human needs that we frequently aren't even aware exist.  For example, he quotes A Pattern Language, saying that a room with a window and a comfortable chair somewhere in the room will feel a certain tension, because you want to both be near the light and be in the comfortable chair.  Personally, I think that's a bit too sensitive, but I can see it.  But when he talks about Pattern Language's take on thick walls, that should not only provide for the necessities -- built-in bookshelves, for example, and insulation, but also provide a sense of protection and refuge -- I can really see it.  I think maybe that book's got something, there.

Friday, April 26, 2013


When my daughter wants to leave the campus for a trip home, she has to get permission from the Corps.  To me, this is silly; unless they're going to have some kind of public parade, what's the deal?  But, you know, this is the Corps, this is our tradition.  She needs this to come home to a job interview, so she asked for it at the beginning of the week.  By Wednesday, when she still hadn't heard anything, I changed her job interview from Monday to Tuesday - forgetting, of course, that in a rigid world like the Corps' mindset, going on Tuesday instead of Monday is like going without permission.  So now I get to try to change the appointment back, and also change my hotel reservation back.....while still not knowing if she is even coming at all.

Here's the question:  how happy am I?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Good Law, Stupid Judges

From ABC News:

The Colorado Court of Appeals has ruled that there is no employment protection for people who use marijuana. In a split decision issued on Thursday, the court said marijuana use is still barred by the federal government, even though state-licensed marijuana use has been approved by voters and is considered lawful.

In A Name

I saw the other day where the government isn't going to refer to 'illegal aliens' by that name any more.

From now on, it'll be undocumented Democrats.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


From an Wall Street Journal article about a Japanese company that sells software to modify car navigational displays so that they can show television programs:

"We can't help but respond to our customers' needs," says Yasunari Shiino, a spokesman for Autobacs Seven Co. Ltd., which operates some 550 auto-parts stores across Japan. "This does not mean we're recommending it," he said, of a practice that could be called DWW or Driving While Watching. "Drivers need to make their own decisions."

Responsible?  No, not us....

Monday, April 22, 2013


From Politico:

"The president’s deep-pocketed political arm, Organizing for Action, can’t by law spend most of its money on elections, and officials insist it won’t play directly in the 2014 midterm. But Republicans aren’t buying it: They’re convinced OFA will find other, indirect ways to help Democrats capture the House and allow Obama to finish his presidency unchecked by Congress."

Yeah, unchecked.  Or is that unstalemated? 


Lee, Revisted

Another Brick

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Friday, April 19, 2013

Dylan Moran


Every so often, I read something that is so good, I have to stop every couple of pages just to think about what I've read.  This doesn't mean that the material is technical; sometimes, it's just because the writer has so grabbed my attention that I want to slow down and savor the experience.

That's happening right now with I, Robot: To Protect.  So far, it's delightful.  Doesn't hurt that I've always had a soft spot for Susan Calvin, either. I don't know if it will continue, but if it does, I think it's going to take me a long time to finish this book. 


This is a parody response to the Dove Real Beauty campaign.  I knew it was a parody -- but all I could think at the end was holy hell. 



This is why Dara O Briain is so amazing.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Koff- koff- eeeee

Apparently, the new thing for coffee fans is a 'pour-over' coffee, which apparently takes several minutes to do, but results in a cup of coffee that is indescribably seductive, with 'floral notes' and a mouth-feel that can lead to orgasm.

I guess I'll stick with my Mr. Coffee, thanks.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Booze, Mate?

I'm not a drinker.  I'm not a teetotaler, either, but I'm a lot closer to that than I am to being even a 'social drinker'.  I just don't get drinking.   But I do like Australia, and wish I knew some more about it -- more than the paltry amount I learned when I was there -- so this book, about drinking and its part of the Australian culture, looks....interesting.


I know that no one but me cares about what I'm reading, lately, but I just updated the list over there on the left, anyway.

Any one of those books would have grabbed me -- I was going to say the one about architecture, especially, but really, that's not true; they've all got potential -- one's got the characters from I, Robot (loved the original book, and the movie, too, though for entirely different reasons); one's a Donna Leon 'Brunetti' novel; I've read several of them, and I think only one, which seemed to have been written to convey a message,  was a clunker; and the third is about the art and science of architecture, a topic which has fascinated me ever since I read Tracy Kidder's House.

I suspect it's going to be expecially hard to study French over the next week.


No one likes automated calls.  They can be useful, but they'll usually annoying.

So what about an automated call to a complaint line when the noise of an airplane flying overhead is too loud?  And what if that call is made by an automated system inside a fake coconut?

Monday, April 15, 2013

F.A.C.T... is awesome.

That's the Fletcher Automated Capstan Table, if you didn't know.


About twice a month, usually around the middle, I get notices from the New York Times.

This is your last free article for this month. Consider subscribing... and I usually do.  I think about how I do enjoy reading the articles there, and I think surely a couple of bucks a month would not be too much?  Sure, let's do that.

Then I find out that the Times thinks twenty bucks a month would be about right.  And I think Twenty bucks? Are you guys crazy?  $240 a year? Five bucks a month would be a bit high....but twenty?  No way. 

And I resign myself to not being able to read the pay articles on their site until next month.


I rarely get a cold, but when I do.....

Saturday, April 13, 2013


I think that people who demonstrate how to use technology to disrupt society -- as in the case of the man who just gave a heavily-attended presentation on a way to use Android software to seize control of an in-flight commercial aircraft's Flight Management System - should be shot.

Bad enough to tell people that it's possible.  I suppose the info could result in others making their systems more secure.  But this guy designed a platform to make it easy - and then told people about it. Oh, this stuff, its just a sample, it couldn't be used in real life.....yeah.  Without flipping this switch, right over here...

They say oh, its good to know this stuff, you can protect yourself -- but to me, that's right up there with people who hack your home computer system and say see, I did you a favor, I showed you how insecure you are. You should go learn how to be a hacker so you can protect yourself.

Sounds remarkably like the insanity vomited out by the NRA. Hey people with guns can kill you so you should get your own guns. This feeling could be because I'm getting older, but I don't think so.

Such people are -- well, perhaps evil is an overstatement.  But in need of adult supervision....

Friday, April 12, 2013


Asked a local travel agent for recommendations for a hotel in France. Asked a friend there 'you know of this hotel?' "Oh yes", he said. "Lots of prostitution and crime."

Thursday, April 11, 2013


I like to bake, and I like when something I've baked comes out well.  But I really don't get people who do deep breathing exercises over The Newest Bestest Brownie Ever.  People who use phrases like The Ultimate Brownie.

I mean, come on, people.  It's just flour, eggs chocolate....

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


I have a Phillips digital recorder that I use for my French classes.  I record them so that I can listen to the discussions again, especially when the instructor is pronouncing things for me.  It should be possible - even easy - to set up recording with Skype - certainly multiple web sites would lead one to believe this -- but I've never been successful at it.  I get recordings of her, or me; not both.  So this works.

The thing is, the recorder is a complex little instrument.  I do truly believe that it could be used to mix a souffle and launch a nuclear weapon.  There aren't a lot of buttons on it, but those that exist have multiple functions.  Some make sense; others....not so much.

When I want to delete files, I hook it up to my PC, change to the directory with the recorder's files, and delete them.  Every time I try to do a deletion on the device itself, it doesn't quite work.  So this evening, I read the instructions slowly, and stepped through each one.

Turns out that one of the problems is that the instructions refer to a control that's not on the recorder.  Another is that it mentions something that is true...but misleading.  So I finally wrote my own checklist.  Here it is.  Look upon it in awe.

When recorder is stopped:

Press the INDEX button until folder A,B,C,D or Music appears.

Press and hold Delete (right side, lower button) for 3 seconds.  DELETE appears on screen. (Press DEL again to get out of delete mode)

On center button, outer rim, right side, press the arrow-arrow-button to jump from Folder to File to Index.  To delete a file, stop at FILE. 

Press center button, center, to bring up the first file number in the selected folder

On center button, outer rim, right side, press arrow-arrow-button to scroll through files in that folder.

Press center button, center.  Word NO is displayed

On center button, outer rim, right side, press arrow-arrow-button to select YES

On center button, center, prss to confirm deletion.

Obvious to the most casual observer, right? 


My mother was a deeply religious person, and she would receive many mailings from organizations.  Usually, she ignored them -- not from an intellectual bias, but because the one thing that they had in common was that they would ask for money repeatedly, and she didn't have that much.  She thought well of them, but after decades, she realized that they would just keep asking.  And they do.

My mother died three years ago.  She just received a note from an organization thanking her for her support 'this past year'.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Rebel Scum


Ever have a morning when it's just too much trouble to think?  That's kind of where I am right now.  I just cancelled a French conversation because - today - it was just too hard to think in French.  I suppose I could have muddled through, but it would not have been very much fun for either of us.

My mindfog is due to the aftereffects of driving down - again - to Virginia to pick up my daughter so that she could attend a funeral - again - of a classmate from school.  No kidding, I'm telling her that if anyone else dies, send a card.

I see where they're thinking of freeing the Enron CEO early. Many many expensive lawyer hours undoubtedly went into that. I suppose the odds of us just, you know, shooting people who have that kind of devastating effect on the economy  -  well, they're pretty slim.  We only shoot the helpless - and who really cares about them, right? Have I mentioned the gutless cowards of the Congress lately?

Tried to install an extension called Thunderbayes into my Thunderbird email client.  Thunderbird is made by Mozilla, which also makes the Firefox web browser.   Thunderbayes wouldn't install because it wasn't compatible with Firefox.  Guess Microsoft isn't the only software pusher that likes to tie things together- and if it means you can't use something that ought to work - well, tough.

I cannot wrap my head around the comments of the Georgia GOP Chairman:

“Lord, I’m going to get in trouble over this, but it is not natural for two women or two men to be married,” Everhart said. “If it was natural, they would have the equipment to have a sexual relationship.”
Everhart said while she respects all people, if same sex marriage is legalized across the country, there will be fraud.
“You may be as straight as an arrow, and you may have a friend that is as straight as an arrow,” Everhart said. “Say you had a great job with the government where you had this wonderful health plan. I mean, what would prohibit you from saying that you’re gay, and y’all get married and still live as separate, but you get all the benefits? I just see so much abuse in this it’s unreal. I believe a husband and a wife should be a man and a woman, the benefits should be for a man and a woman. There is no way that this is about equality. To me, it’s all about a free ride.”

Being a liberal Democrat, I tried to break that into things that only an idiot would believe and things that a rational person would believe. And I almost can do it, until I hit that I believe a husband... comment.  You can follow it up with There is no way that this ... comments all you want - that's exactly what its about.  So I ask myself: what kind of mind, what kind of worldview, harbors that attitude?  Well, DUH -- the GOP, of course, and Southern GOP, double - DUH.  Why even ask?

But maybe its just that I'm not thinking very clearly today.

Friday, April 05, 2013


That's what you call someone who hires a hooker, right?  A hookee?

Not that I know.  I've never done that.  In fact, I've only met one prostitute in my life.  Well, I think she was a prostitute - girl came up to me as I was crossing the street to get to the Port Authority bus terminal in New York and asked me if I wanted to go to a party. Sorry, I replied, suavely, I'm heading to South Dakota.  She said Oh, too bad, and that was it.  So I don't know.... but I think so.

For some reason, I was thinking about that last night, while I was in the hotel (another I gotta come home right away call from the offspring).  I don't know how you go about finding and hiring a hooker, let alone, one of her higher-paid sisters-in-the-trade.  No idea. Um, go to Times Square and ask for referrals?   And I have no idea about the ettiquette involved in such a transaction, either.  Is there a list of services?  Is tipping involved?   I could easily see myself paying a large amount of money for, essentially, conversation. Which I don't think is the point.

My wife, I'm guessing, would be delighted that I don't know this stuff.  Probably not too thrilled that I think about it, though. Even though she knows that I'm married enough and wimpish enough (either reason will do; in combination, they're impenetrable) to act on it.

Thursday, April 04, 2013


I wonder if Congress would actually act if it was their kids, their families, that got killed by a crazy gun freak?  It'd have to be something devastating of course -- say, a hundred of their precious children, their loved ones -- and even then, I'm guessing their greed and incompetence would win out.

Tech Blech

My French teacher's web site has several podcasts on it that I thought I'd listen to on the drive down to Blacksburg.  Downloaded them to my laptop, no problem.

Now how do I play them in the car?

I don't have any recordable CDs lying around.  Got a bunch of recordable DVDs, from when I thought that I could transfer recordings from TiVo (I still think that, but maybe I'm wrong;  certainly, if its possible, its not easy), but the car audio unit won't play DVDs.  There's an MP3 jack, but I tried jacking my MP3 player into it once and got zip -- my extension cord can be used to charge the player or transfer recordings, but apparently not play recordings. I could transfer the downloads to my digital recorder, but it won't 'recognize' anything that it didn't actually record itself - it indexes everything; no index, no likey.  (It's a Phillips recorder -- works very well, but way too complicated in its controls, and more than a little frustrating when all I want to do is....)

I haven't given up hope that there is a (simple) way.

Ah yes, tech's nice....when it works. 


Another boy that my daughter knew in high school has died -- this time, they (the kids; the administration's not talking) think it's a suicide.  Once again, my daughter wants to come home for the funeral.  Fortunately, the timing works out so that she can leave immediately after her last class tomorrow, and be back on Sunday.  Unfortunately, that means that someone gets to make a quick round-trip to Blacksburg today. I'm mulling over running a tab and presenting it to her when she graduates.  For sure, in my next life, my children are going to a school that's either relatively close, or too far to travel spontaneously. On Sunday, it'll be down and up in one day, but my wife will be with me to share the driving.

The other night my daughter mentioned to her mother some things she had learned in one of her classes.  As part of that, she said that she didn't really think she was so much shaped by us as by her peers.  I was ever so delighted to hear that.  My wife did say that later she recanted on that, a little bit.  Still....

This is the third kid who has died that she knew - the first was a kid who lives down the block; he appeared to have been playing with a gun at a neighbor's house, and it was loaded.  My wife told a coworker that she's amazed that our daughter knows so many, and the coworker said that since elementary school, her daughter has known seven kids who have died.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013


Sometimes, there is so much that I could do, in the line of studying French, that I get locked up and don't do anything.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

High School

A boy died at the high school today.  When my wife came home, she said that the principal told them it was possibly a suicide, though they did not know for sure.  I told her that my mento told me it was definitely a suicide; when I asked him how he knew, he said that his brother (at the school) told him.

Makes you wonder who's informing who....

This is why...

...I couldn't be a criminal lawyer.

A man is sentenced to death for the death of an infant which occured while he was molesting her.  He admits that he intended to molest her, but says that he was too drunk to realize that he was killing her.  The law says that you must know your actions can result in death.

So his lawyer is entering a plea for mercy.  Didn't mean to do it, he says. Plus, the only charge given was murder, not sexual assault, so he was, in a sense, framed.  Don't kill him.

Must be tough to go to law school, read about all these important cases, envision yourself as a defender of justice - and then end up defending someone like that.  I know - everyone deserves a defense. But really - everyone?

 And this is why I could not be a criminal lawyer. 


I was never a fan of the Three's Company series, but last night I stumbled across the original pilot -- apparently, they made three, with the same male lead for all and three different women for the two female leads -- and was surprised to find that I liked it.  Well, except for the laugh track. That was awful.Of course, I know that television back then always used laugh tracks -- I wouldn't be surprised if they contemplated using it for news programs, or at least mood music -- but now, with our refined sensibilities -- it grates.  But the rest, particularly Valerie Curtin -- was enjoyable.

"I suppose this is your bathtub?"
"Yes.  We raised it from a sink."



"Three's Company - Rare Fi..." This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by DLT entertainment ltd.


Now I know I'm aging.  I saw a headline about Caroline Kennedy as Ambassador to Japan, and thought that kid? Oh....yeah. The one who's about three years younger than my wife.


As I may have mentioned, my cousin lost her house to a fire. 

Last night, I learned that, in actuality, the house was purchased by her parents-in-law, with the intent that at some point they would sell it to the children.  Nice.

The parents never bought any kind of insurance for the house.


One of the rules of thumb that I've had for a while is that it's not necessary to finish a book that hasn't grabbed my interest.  I don't immediately toss it aside -- I'll skip a few pages, perhaps a chapter - but if after that, I'm still thinking man this is dragging-- I'll stop. Off the book goes to the pile that we keep of books to be donated to the next book sale --because someone might like it -- and I'll start another.

But lately I've been trying out a modification of that rule, which is: if a book hasn't said something of interest in the first chapter, it's not likely to get better.  It can -- my wife and I each recently read a new novel in the Vorgosigan series, and though it didn't grab our interest, much as we wanted it to, there were some interesting parts before each of us tossed it aside-- but it's not likely.

Thus, I've been slogging my way through the books that are on the living room bookcase, and a few out here in the kitchen.  These are all books that I wanted to read; something about them grabbed my attention, and so I bought them. (Times when I ignored my own rule: only buy a book when you have less than two left to read, no matter how compelling it sounds.)  And slogging is a good way to put it, because, of the four that I've opened thus far, three were well, that was ...interesting, and only one was why, that was really good, I'm glad I read it

I still have a way to go, though.  There are about ten books here in the kitchen, and a few on the book case.  One of them is Team of Rivals; the other is This Time Is Different.  I really want to like each of them, but so far -- not so much.  Which is likely a failing of me, not the books.  So I'm leaving them until I have nothing else to read, and then we'll see.