Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Yes, We're Listening

Apparently, a friend of a friend designed this for use on t-shirts, Facebook, etc. and was issued a cease and desist order by the NSA…

Here’s goes nothin’…

(Image and comment found here.)

This is not particularly funny, but...

I can read it! (Found here.)

(Okay, okay, I had to look up M'en fiche....)


First batch of cards are in the mail.  Thirteen to France, one to Australia, and one that's only going a couple of blocks away -- but it's a Hanukkah card.  Cool.

Roughly fifty to go. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Friday, November 22, 2013


I should have guessed that things were going too well.  Our printer just decided that it's not going to print BLACK any more.  Lots of ink in the cartridge, of course.....

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


So strange to get a package where the return address is People's Republic of China.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Pa amb tomàquet

Good stuff, and very easy to make. 

French bread, toasted lightly.
Add crushed or diced tomato, rubbed garlic, olive oil.

(Want a written recipe?)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Saturday, November 16, 2013


There are times when I suspect that I think differently than other people.  I don't know if I really do, or if its just that I expect and assume things that normal people don't expect and assume.

For example, we had a meeting about three months ago at our bank with the fellow who oversees the administration of the money we have with it.   After the meeting, which included a second guy who spoke at length about financial concepts that sounded deep to me but might have been lightweight to him, I said to the first guy that this was all fun, but all we really needed from him was a) how much money can we expect to have at this time next year, in five years, and in twenty, and b) is he seeing anything in our spending patterns, or in the external environment, that would make him drop those values.  I don't think that these are complex questions.  I do know that they require certain assumptions to be made, and that the assumptions have to be qualified by probability, because, hey, nobody knows.  Fair enough.  And I'll allow that grinding these numbers out takes time and effort, even if all we want to see is the absolute highest level summaries, because even if a large part of it is just rolling formulas forward in Excel, it takes effort.

But what I really don't get is why, when he delivered to us a bound report listing assets and projections, he studded it with terms such as capital risk value and Nominal Value, and included incredibly dense charts showing the progressions over years of income and expenses..  I really don't.  I think it should have been perfectly clear that we didn't want details, we wanted big picture.  Appropriately cautioned, Your Mileage May Vary, yes, but still: don't give me numbers unless they are needed to explain something that needs to be explained.  Or you need action from us, based on them. Is this hard to understand?

Maybe it is.  Or maybe my expectations are just strange.


Friday, November 15, 2013


Studying French is not fun, but when I went two days without doing it, I missed it.  I understand exercise can have that effect, too, although I've never experienced it.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

...and not.

Well, the bright, shiny new Lenovo is back in the hands of Staples again.  I imagine that times like this, they regret having a 'return for any reason at all' policy.  In this case, we were getting used to Windows 8, when an upgrade to 8.1  made the PC's touch screen stop working.  And, oh yeah, you can't roll back to Win 8.  So we rolled back the whole thing.

Doing a GSearch, looking for buzzwords like "touchscreen not working" and 8.1, it appears that just about every brand has users whose touchscreen worked under 8.0 that fails under 8.1.  Some of these can get it to work again, some not.  Charming.  Hence our decision to back away quickly.

On our Win7 PC side, I ordered the replacement keyboard.  Should be here in about 10 days. Until then, I'm using an external keyboard.  A bit awkward, but it's better than the keyboard that I destroyed.

Food Names

Found here at  22 Food Words You Might Be Pronouncing Wrong

(Not brooshetta? Really?)

Close to Ecstasy

It's been an interesting twenty four hours.

First, I found that the reason that the new laptop, which came with Windows 8 and which I upgraded to 8.1 because I wanted to get the Start button (maybe it doesn't come with 8.1; it certainly didn't come to me) - anyway, the reason that the scrollable touch screen doesn't scroll anymore is a known problem after an upgrade from 8 to 8.1 .  I don't know if its Win 8.1, or individual devices, or what, but I found several posts on a Lenovo site talking about The scrolling worked and I did a Win 8.1 upgrade and now it doesn't, WTF???  Along with a plethora of do this do that do this tap your foot and whistle suggestions, some of which worked for some people and not for others. Hum.  So I'll be calling Lenovo's tech support today, and if they can get it working, good, but if not, I'm scrubbing the files I transferred (OBTW: the good news is that unlike in the past, the easy file transfer utility really does work; twenty seconds after I started it on the Win 7 and the Win 8 PCs, they were talking to each other through my network -- but verrrrrrrry slowly.  As in, the time estimate for file transfer went from 3H45M to about 5H15M over the course of an hour.  What is this, a byte every other second?  There is a cable you can buy that allows a direct connection between the two, and its abut $20; the direct connection allows faster transfer, and I'm thinking sure, we can do that -- and then I notice that it says it can't be used for transfers from 64 bit systems.  Which my Win7 system is.  Why?  I have no idea.  I mean, I have a hunch, but it really doesn't matter, I can't use the cable).  So I kind of don't want this problem to be fixable, so that I have a morally pure reason for returning the PC.  But I'm going to at least try.

Second, I finally got the damaged keyboard out of the Win7 PC -- the first site that told me how to do it was completely wrong, so wrong that there must be another computer called an HP62; either that, or they just screwed up; the second, a video, clearly showed how to do everything but disconnect the cable from the keyboard to the motherboard; and a third site mentioned when you are ready to unplug the keyboard, lift the little brown tab, which will unlock the keyboard cable from the motherboard. I did that, and it came right off. So right this minute I am using an external keyboard, and it's working just fine. (As long as the damaged keyboard had still been connected, the external keyboard worked but not all the time).  And I just ordered a replacement keyboard from someplace in China, cross my fingers.

But still.  Considering that twenty four hours ago I was glumly thinking about possibly having to spend much time and effort to move files over to the Win 8 PC, to be followed by tossing the Win 7 one, which I really like, and now it looks like I can keep it after all -- I am not a person who can easily be ecstatic, but this morning, I'm close.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


I assume that I am not the first to notice that the abbreviation for windows 8 would be....W8. Pronounced... Well, you can figure it out.

W8. Based on what we've had to do so far with this installation, it sounds like a Really Good Idea. 

But hey, at least it's not Healthcare. gov...

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Monday, November 11, 2013

Bill Bailey an amazing guy.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Meatloaf with...

Made this tonight.  Quite good. Found here, and slightly modified.

Meatloaf with Sausage

3/4 pounds lean ground beef         1 pound ground pork sausage
9 saltine crackers, crushed            1/4 green bell pepper, diced
1/4 onion, finely chopped             1 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 T Worcestershire sauce          1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar, divided     1/2 cup ketchup

Heat oven to 350°.    Lightly grease 8x8 baking dish
Combine first 8 ingredients and 1/4 cup brown sugar in a medium bowl just until blended.
Place mixture in baking dish
Shape mixture into a loaf.
Bake at 350° for 1 hour.
Remove from oven, and drain.

Stir together ketchup and remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar; pour over meatloaf.

Bake 15 more minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers 160°.
Remove from oven; let stand 20 minutes.
Remove from baking dish before slicing.


Who are those guys?

Friday, November 08, 2013


Found here.

Stray Thoughts

Reading The International Bank of Bob, about the Kiva microlending system.  He's describing the virtually indescribable wealth of places like Dubai and the UAE -- hotels with archways almost as tall as the Arc du Triomphe, vending machines that dispense small bars of gold -- and how, after a while, such sheer extravagance sickened him.  Normally, I think oh, you don't really mean that, but his style rings true.  So far, it's a fascinating book.

Working through a page by page word by word translation of a French novel.  It's hugely tedious, but the delight that I feel when I actually understand a sentence -- not just got the gist of it but actually understand it -- is pretty awesome.

Saw a 'recipe', if I can call it that, which we'll probably try:

- take a can of frozen Grands biscuits
- slice each individual biscuit into quarters
- fry the quarters in hot oil
- roll in cinnamon sugar or regular sugar
- serve

Daughter's struggling with two courses at school, called us last night almost in tears. We got her calmed down, but it really rips you up to hear that.  You want so much to help her.

Had the cat in a kennel for two days while a bedroom was painted.  She hated it -- when I physically picked her up on my return, she didn't just rest in my arms, she sank her claws into my jacket.  The 'cat kennel' part was just a small room with some cat toys.  I doubt I'd have liked it much myself.  And then I think yeah, and we're planning to put her there over the holidays for a week while we travel, and I feel guilty.

I told a French friend that I might (probably won't, but might) be coming to France next year to spend a month in a small apartment.  The goal is a 'total immersion' experience.  She said then you have to come to see me.  And the cool part was, she meant it.  Probably won't happen, even if I do come -- the apartment is in south-eastern France, near Marseilles, and she lives next Paris, about 5 hours away -- but still, it's a pleasant thought.

We're replacing a Corian countertop which cracked, probably because it wasn't mounted properly.  The cost made my jaw drop.  Were it just me, I probably would have lived with the crack until it shattered -- granted, not the brightest plan. 

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

This Week

It's been an interesting week.  Most of it was good, some, not really.

In the not-really category, it turned out that despite essentially being given a blank check for the marking period in one subject where he's failing, the mento still did not turn in materials.  I was flabbergated.  We had words afterward, the next time we met.  From now on, I'm scaling my efforts down to what I can physically see.  This means that each and every time we meet, I'm going to ask him to dump out his bookbag, and we are going to sort stray materials. Every time.  I don't think it will change him, but it's what I can do, so I'm going to do it.

In the good but hard to believe category, I mentioned to a French conversation partner that I was musing about coming to France for a month, just to immerse myself in the language.  She told me, a week later, that she'd talked to her grandfather, who happens to have a furnished apartment next to his house, and he'd said that I could stay there, free, for a month if I wanted.

I've therefore become newly interested in upgrading my French skills, to the point where I've picked up two new partners -- one, a French woman living in Spain, and the other, a Canadian woman living in Quebec.  I was a little afraid that there would be a problem with the Canadian accent -- I told this to a French partner, who sniffed and said Canadian French is nothing like REAL French  -- but as it happens, the Canadian woman doesn't have Skype, so we are communicating via email.  She's a pretty interesting person. I also picked up as a partner a woman in Morocco (though I don't know how often we'll talk), and I apparently lost a person in southern France, who hasn't responded to a couple of notes over the last two weeks. Ah, well.  It's still good.

I also started listening to a French language film -- I understand about a quarter of it, unless they're muttering, which they do from time to time. And yes, it has subtitles.  I'm also working my way through a French-language novel, bumping up my vocabulary skills. I read one page today!  This is all good. 

Also today, the painters arrived to start work on the bedroom that we're redoing in expectation of visitors this summer -  our friends from France.  They're actually going to stay in the other bedroom, which has a larger bed, but now we'll have two rooms - one newly painted with a rather nice shade of pale green - just in case they bring a friend.

So, things are good.  Generally.

Friday, November 01, 2013


I thought it was March that arrives like a lion.  Last night, November arrived with high winds, and during the night we were pelted by more winds accompanied by heavy rain.  Now it's about ten to eight, and the sky is just barely light.  I guess it's good that we're switching the clocks back in a couple of days. Still, it's a depressing day.

Now I hear that despite the load on the system, very few people actually signed up for OCare so far.  People like me desperately want to believe that they wanted to, they just couldn't get in to do it. Though finding out that there are in fact people who are losing their insurance, because their insurance company is dropping their policies that don't match OCare standards -- that's pretty depressing.  I know, I know -- its a big deal, it takes a while for these things to get working, Medicare probably had the same initial problems.  Still.  It's depressing as all heck.

And last night only two kids showed up for trick or treat.  Granted, one of them had a fabulous costume -- I think her mother loves to play dress-up with her daughter, because she was wearing a costume, too -- but still.  Two.