Saturday, August 30, 2014


I came across a fascinating article from the Financial Times.  I know: unless you're a quant, the FT is not known for gripping reading. My GOD Consley!  Did you see this piece in the FT on derivative pricing?  Oh, yass, Chartwell!  It was so exciting, I damned near wet myself in the limo!

But this article, on the subject of the correlation between the number of words/types of words used to decribe food, and the perceived value of the food, is actually pretty interesting.  Short form:  Big words, many syllables?  Is Good.  Short words, few syllable? Is Junk (which may actually be the eater's goal).

Friday, August 29, 2014


I've heard it said that no matter who you are, how tough, how powerful, if a little kid hands you a toy telephone, you will pretend to answer it.  Certainly, in my experience, that's been true -- but I have an additional one.

It doesn't matter how much you just want to get to sleep -- if a cat curls up in your lap and starts to purr as you stroke it -- you will be there longer than you expected.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Spare Time

For years, I would spend spare time writing in this blog.   Most of it was just stream of conciousness, or talking about something that I'd found interesting.  Lately - pretty much starting when I started to take studying French seriously - it seems like I don't write very often.  However, the expected outcry hasn't arrived, so I guess that's okay.

Two weeks ago, we had some French friends visit with us.  I had been very hyped up about their visit -- I was literally planning in January for their arrival in July.  Once they were here, it seemed as if they'd been here before, because they fitted right into our home.  Of course, I don't know how they actually felt about it, but they certainly seemed to be having a good time, and I know that we were.  I'm a little disappointed that I didn't get to cook as much for them as I had wanted -- between things taking them away, eating out, and travel, we only had about half the meals that I expected to make. (And yes, I had a list of what I wanted to cook, when.) But that was the worst of it. Overall, we're glad that they came.

They did offer to let me stay in their house (they live in a different location during the week).  I'm not seriously considering it, because it would be impractical -- but I have to admit that I'm charmed by the thought.  As it is, I'm going to France in October to attend a one week total-immersion course on the French language, and then staying for another to visit with some friends - so the thought has occurred to me that staying for another week, or two, would be easy to do.  Won't -- but I'll want to.

Daughter's back in school.  Always pleased when she is home, but, truthfully, also pleased when she's back in school. Life gets quieter -- even though we do get the occasional email about hey, they're going to have a study abroad in New Zealand, wouldn't that be cool? Yes, it would.  You paying?

Thursday, August 21, 2014


For the past ten days, more or less, we had a French family living with us. 

We tried our best to make their trip memorable, taking them to Baltimore (they loved the Aquarium, were disappointed by the major league baseball game being rained out), having group photos taken (just them, their daughter and us, and the whole group), going out to dinner at very nice restaurant, lending them our car so that they could visit friends of theirs, and, at the end, taking them to New York City, where I spent three days with them, going to the Statue of Liberty, the World Trade Center Memorial (a punch to the brain and the heart), the Empire State Building (very nice but very long lines), and other places.  I knew they liked to walk, but I had forgotten how much -- I bailed on one little jaunt where they walked around midtown Manhattan for about three hours.  When they got back to the hotel, they said that they were exhausted -- and would be ready to go out to dinner in fifteen minutes.  Which they were.

When their daughter was with us, four years ago, she was a cute adolescent.  Now she has blossomed (insert suggestive eye roll here).  I knew that girls/women's fashions included underwear that was meant to be seen, so when I could easily see the sparkles on her pink bra, I wasn't too surprised.  But when I realized that she intended to wear it so that about half of her breasts (no, not 'the right one or the left one') was visible, I was astonished.  She's a very attractive young woman, and she apparently believes 'if you've got it, flaunt it'.  She does, and she did.  I was made a little uneasy by the display.  Some of it was that I was worried what signal she was sending, in Manhattan.  Then I remembered that her mother would refer to the girl's brother as 'her bodyguard', and noticed that yes, most of the time he was walking very close to her.  He's about six two. 

We were all very glad that they had come..  The only downside is that I noticed a slight change in my speech patterns -- when I was with them and needed to say Yes, No, More, or something like that, to a store clerk -- I said it in French.  Our visitors were highly amused.

Saturday, August 16, 2014


I bought John Scalzi's Old Man's War not expecting much. The book turned out to be a one trick pony in terms of what made the title plausible, but the writing was good, and when I learned that there was a second book, I picked it up warily.  It was better than the original. Then I found that there was a third book,  and I picked it up too, a little more quickly.

Yesterday I saw the latest book in the series, The Human Division, had come out. I immediately picked it up. I didn't even look at it. I just picked it up. And now I am reading it.

I keep thinking get better please get better please get better.

Friday, August 15, 2014


Friends living in the center of France have offered to let me live with them during the winter and spring, if I want.  No charge.  They don't live at home during the week, so the house is empty, and since they know I'd like to live in France at least part of the year, they offered.  I could use the house as a base to go up to Paris, down to Aix-en-Provence, or just a place to hang out, see what it's actually like to live in rural France.  Be a quasi-native.

Almost certainly will not happen - little matter of the cost, not to mention that though I would like to be in France, I would not like being away from my wife for an extended period -- but man, that's tempting.

Thursday, August 14, 2014


Every time Bose sends a software update to the SoundTouch Wave -- which happens about once every four or five months -- the device stops working.  I run through the list of things that I did the last time, and sometimes it fixes the problem.  Sometimes. like this morning, I get to call them.

Initally, when the wireless service was new to Bose, I got what I think of as 'the A team' of responders -- fast, courteous, knowledgeable.  Now I get them sometimes, and sometimes the B team -- reasonably fast, reasonably courteous, reasonably knowledgeable.  They always get the device working, but not always quickly.

And, of course, afterward I wonder why should I have to call them at all?


Turned out that our friends were bringing their kids, and they were intending to stay with us.  Which of course delighted us -- we really like these people -- but also caused a couple of logistical problems.

There is a joke about a person whose home was in danger of being flooded during a storm. The police come and say that he should leave; he says no, I'm a religious person, and I know that god will save me.  The firemen come, the Coast Guard helicopter comes, the water gets higher and higher, his response is the same.  He drowns.  Facing god, he says I was a religious man, why didn't you save me?  And god replies I sent the police, the firemen, the helicopter.....why didn't you leave?

I am not a religious person.  But the ballgame in Baltimore would have caused us logistical problems -- seats in separate areas, not obvious how to connect up, and, of course, the thunderstorm predicted to arrive around the middle of the game.  Instead, a ferocious storm arrived hours before, and the game was rained out. Massive solution to a personal problem. Problem went away.


Sunday, August 10, 2014


Six months ago I picked a day to go to the ball game in Baltimore.

Today I find out that one day -- that day -- there will be a thunderstorm.  Nothing the day before, nothing the day after.  It is projected to start about two hours into the game.


Thursday, August 07, 2014


We learned a few days ago that our friends from France would like to go to visit other friends of theirs while they are here.  Well, okay, we can handle that.  If necessary, we'll rent a car.

We learned today that they're bringing their kids. Here?  To stay with their friends? 

No. Freaking. Idea.

I've been thinking about this visit for the last six months, so I am, to put it mildly, a little freaked out.