Saturday, December 24, 2016


One of the tools that I use in my quest to get a basic grasp of Italian is a Berlitz text called Italian in 30 Days.  It's a decent book, and though nothing is as good - or as scary - as actually talking to someone in a new language, it helps.  Though anyone who says that you can get basic competency in 30 days is either lying, very, very good with languages, or has a much more minimal defintion of 'basic compentency' than I do.

One of the things that I like is that the book supplies a series of vocabulary words with each chapter.  There's about forty or so.  When I encounter them - or I come across words in other situations - I type them into Anki, a freeware flash-card application that lets me review them, with the frequency of show-up related to how difficult it was for me to remember the word, the last time.  When I was first learning French (and I think I will always be learning that language), I used it for a month to see what it could do for my vocabulary - and was astonished at how quickly I learned the words.  I wasn't perfect -- never am, never will be -- but I learned a whole bunch of words much faster than I'd been learning them prior to that. So Berlitz is good, and getting their vocabulary into Anki is good.

But typing those words into Anki is tedious, and, the tireder that I am, the more tedious and error-prone.

When we had bought our latest printer - it really is true; you buy a printer without the expectation that it will last a long time - it said that it came with ReadIRIS, an optical character recognition software tool.  Well, it didn't.  But the idea of being able to simply scan a page, and tell the software to change it into a digital format that I could then modify to Anki's liking - that was attractive.  Consequently, I bought ReadIRIS.  It's not cheap, but I thought hey, Christmas present.  Or something.  I installed it, and pointed it to a JPG I had which included text.  It worked.  Not perfectly, but at about 80% accuracy.  For the others, I had to correct the 'word' that it came up with, and in a few cases, change its hieroglyphics to letters -  pretty sure that &4((({ doesn't spell anything.  So not bad.

Reading the documentation, I noticed that the software said it could work directly from a scan - rather than having to create the JPG and read it, I could simply scan the original and take the output directly into ReadIRIS. This sounded good, so I decided to try it. Didn't work. Long story short, I learned that I would have to deinstall and reinstall the software that drives the printer.  Which was,, at last count, about 15 different pieces.  With no guarantee that ReadIRIS would work at the end -- and possibly not the printer, either.  (There seems to be an inverse relationship between how new a piece of technology is and how willing it is to work after being removed and reinstalled.)

Maybe its a sign of age, but I think I'll just stick with making JPGs.


Every time I think that I have finally accepted this disaster that's occurring to my country, he does something else so incredibly stupid as to beggar belief.

Friday, December 16, 2016


Most studies, I think, do not show what their publicists confidently proclaim.  They suggest, they allow one to infer, but they don't say, black and white.  And when they do, they aren't always right.  In fact, they usually are not right....

None of which stops us from glomming onto the ones that support our position.


I have not lost any friends over voting for Trump, because I don't actually have all that many friends.  I do know that some relatives voted for him, and I just don't discuss it with them, because doing so would not change their minds - and even if they did, en masse, change their minds, it would affect nothing. 

But it does occur to me: finding out that someone whom you valued as a friend did, in fact vote for Trump must be like finding out that your clean-cut, friendly neighbor --- is a child molester.  It must be incomprehensible, and completely out of the scheme of normal thought.

Fortunately, normal thought is not a problem for Trump supporters.  A daily feeding of pseudo-news and hyped garbage, and they're good to go. .

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Wednesday, December 07, 2016


Had an odd experience today.  I received an email, with this content:

You’re a strong Democrat, right?

That’s why I’m emailing you. I need your help.

Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress are pledging to undo decades of American progress. They want to:

-Repeal Obamacare
-Overturn Roe v. Wade
-Dismantle Medicare
-Ban Muslims from entering the US
As a Democrat, I refuse to sit by and let Republicans get away with it. We need to hold them accountable.

And today, I need your help to fight against their backwards priorities:
TAKE A STAND: Stand with me against the dangerous policies pushed by Donald Trump and his Republicans.

As a member of our team, we’ll keep you informed about news that’s important to Democrats.

Thanks for standing with us.

And I thought well, sure, anything I can do to stop, block, or deny that guyI would be glad to do.   So sure, I'll give money to --  and then I noticed the signature block.

Kelly Ward
Executive Director, DCCC

and I thought The DCCC?  Isn't that what that Wasserman-Shultz woman ran?  The one who cheated so that Hillary would win the nomination?

No, as it turns out. That group was the Democratic National Committee.  This group is the "Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) ... the official campaign arm of the Democrats in the House"

But still, I hesitate.  Because right now any major political organization leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  

Monday, December 05, 2016

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Found Ya!

Please Let It Be Real

Viral? Lethal, I should think....

People tend to refer to things as 'viral' that have elicited a small amount of attention.  This series of comments on Twitter, extracted on the admittedly-biased Occupy Democrats site, which basically plays a flamethrower on Trump's butt, is somewhat more than that.

Here's the very first one:

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Post THAT, Orange Boy

 I found this picture, which said that it was of a little girl posting a note on a wall display created after the election of The Orange One.

Gee, I thought, I wonder what those notes say?  So I copied the picture into MS Paint and zoomed in at random.


Monday, November 28, 2016


This is what we made for dinner this week.  It's a cut-in-half , no-mushrooms version of this, and is quite good.

Beef Bourguignon Three Day Recipe
2 pounds good quality stew meat, cut into 2 inch cubes
½ pound of lardons (thick bacon cut into rectangles)
1 bottle of Burgundy red wine
2 carrots
1 medium onion
10 or so small white (Pearl) onions
2 bay leaves 
1 teaspoon of tomato paste
1 bouquet garni
3 cloves of garlic 
Olive oil
2 squares of really dark (bitter) chocolate (80 % cocoa or more)
2 tablespoons of flour
salt, pepper

Day 1
1.       In a large pot, pour the wine
2.       Add the carrots cut into large pieces, the medium size onions roughly cut, the bay leafs, the peeled garlic cloves and the bouquet garni.
3.       Bring everything to a boil for about 10 minutes.
4.       Let it cool down to room temperature and put it in the fridge for 1 or 2 hours until cold.
5.       If needed, cut the meat into large chunks  and trim the excess fat.
6.       Once the marinade is cool, pour it over the meat into a non reactive dish/pan, cover and put in the fridge overnight (minimum 8 hours).

Day 2
1.       Take the marinade and meat out of the fridge.
2.       Take all the meat pieces out and using paper towels, make sure they are as dry as you can.
3.       Set aside the marinade.
4.       Leave the meat out for 30 minutes so that it comes back to room temperature
5.       Put your oil in a thick skillet and heat.
6.       When the oil is really hot, sear the pieces of meat 5 or 6 at a time to make sure you don’t crowd the pan. Try to get as much of a crust onto the meat as possible.
7.       Add pepper and salt to the meat only right after you dropped it in the pan
8.       Put aside.
9.       When beef is done, discard any remaining oil from the pan and put in the ‘lardons’ (bacon) on high heat. Stir so that they get a nice color then take them out of the pan and put them with the meat.
10.   Lower the heat to a medium fire under the pan
11.   Strain all the solids from the marinade (keep the bay leaf and bouquet garni aside) and put them into the pan.
12.   Cook for 5 or 7 minutes until you start seeing some color, make sure you scrape the bottom of the pan to get all the nice bacon and meat bits that stuck.
13.   Sprinkle the flour and mix it in so that it doesn’t lump up.  
14.   Add salt and pepper.
15.   Put the wine back into the pan and add the meat, bacon, bay leaves, bouquet garni and tomato paste. Cover and let it cook slowly.
16.   In the mean time, peel the Pearl onions
17.   Roast Pearl onions slowly in a pan with a bit of olive oil. You are looking to get some color but to also cook the onions through (don’t overcook them, since they’ll cook some more in the bourguignon and then need to hold their shape, yet be tender). Do the same with the mushrooms, if included.
18.   After about 1 hour of cooking, incorporate the onions and mushrooms with the rest of the bourguignon and check the seasoning and adjust if needed
19.   At this point, add the squares of dark chocolate.
20.   Cook gently for another 30 minutes and turn the heat off.
21.   Let it sit a few hours until it’s cool enough to put in the fridge overnight.

Day 3
1.       Take the dish out of the fridge and using a spoon, remove as much as the fat from the top as you can.
2.       Turn your oven to 180C  (about 360F).
3.       When the oven is hot, put the Boeuf Bourguignon in a covered oven safe serving dish
4.       Reheat for 20 minutes

Friday, November 25, 2016

The Pain


This article, from the Atlantic, is nicely written, and seriously depressing for anyone thinking about ways to re-invigorate the weakest parts of our economy -- because the conclusion is that although some movement is possible, there may not be the potential for enough.


I donated to an effort that I think will fail.  Why did I do that?

The effort, as the few people who read this blog likely suspect, is the one initiated by Jill Stein, asking for a recount in three swing states.  Her motivation for this is murky, though, given that the 'required amount' has bumped up twice, it is possible that this is merely (!) a scheme to help pay off her own debts from her election campaign.  She had said it would cost about a million dollars, and now that's up to three.  Amazingly, she's raised it each time, and quickly, too -- the first in a matter of hours.

From this, I conclude something that is roughly equivilent to concluding that the sun rises in the east:  a lot of people are still pissed at the results of the election, and they want to reverse it.  I do, too.  I don't think it will happen, for three reasons:

First, it has to happen that each of those three states has a provable error in the  counting of the popular vote, sufficiently so that there is no question of the error.  That seems unlikely to me. One, even two states?  Maybe.  All three? 

Second, having proven it, the electors would have to be directed to vote for the new winner, not the old winner.  Given that people like me were and are clamoring for the electors to switch from Trump even if they are committed to him based on party loyalty, that seems unlikely to occur.  I know that the electors are picked based on which party won the state, though, so it's not out of the question.  But now we're into I don't care what the rules say, this is what we're going to do territory.

Third, if the election gets reversed, there's going to be a lot of very angry people.  A LOT of very angry people.  I think of how I'd feel if Clinton had won and then this happened, with the Trumpsters saying see, see, we won, we won.  At the very least, it would end up being a question for the Supreme Court, which could be deadlocked, since the brigands of the Congress refused to vote on a ninth justice.  The inauguration is two months away, and it could get delayed.  Who's President then? Why, the Congress gets to pick.  The severely Republican Congress.

So I don't think it will happen.  But god, I hope that it does. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


About three times out of every five that I get an Inter-Library Load, the clerk says Have you done this before?  When I say yes, they say So you know not to take the goldenrod sleeve off the book? 

Goldenrod?  The only people I've ever heard use that word is librarians.  I did once say What if I take it off but then put it back on before I return it?  I swear the clerk considered snatching the book back..

Monday, November 21, 2016

I could be wrong...

... but it seems to me that every web page that has a title including words like Liberty, Flag, Freedom, or Patriot, and/or has images of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, a stern-looking (and rather buff) Minuteman, or the American flag -- is probably the page of a rock-bound conservative convinced that he is the sole keeper of the Truth.

Not sure what a classic Liberal page would look like.

Friday, November 18, 2016


Watching YouTube extracts of the best Jed Bartlett speeches.

Feels like mourning for the death of nobility, for honor, for justice.

Seeing people on the web saying we have to resist, we have to be prepared to fight back, we have to defend our way of life -- it scares me.  Fight, resist our own government? Will this be a rerun of the 60s, with police clubbing protestors outside the White House?  A rerun of the 40s, putting undesirables into internment camps?  A rerun of the 2000's, with crashing financial markets wiping out people's savings, driving people from their homes?

And, of course, that he will get us into war, again, because he can't just force the world to be as he wants it to be, and he's surrounding himself with a deeply rigid, deeply conservative, war-liking bunch of ironheads.

This is not what's supposed to happen when a new president arrives.  There should not be fear.  Unhappiness, yes -- oh, this guy, he doesn't value what I value. But not fear that he will wipe out gains made in the last twenty years, that he will impose draconian rules, that he will regress the country to the middle of the last century.

.I am so not looking forward to this.

Thanks, Trump supporters.  Thanks the hell a lot. Thanks for screwing the whole damn country.

Thursday, November 17, 2016


Wish we COULD get the Electoral College to reject His Orangeness.  Not going to happen, though.  Not even if we could say Fine, elect Pence to that job, just get HO out of there.  Reasonability has nothing to do with it.  This is politics.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016


Just as I was able to slow down flinching every 30 minutes at the thought of the abomination about to visited upon my country like a sudden load of ripe, rotten excrement on a hot day -- and there are still whiffs of that when I see something about how screwed up his 'plans' are --

my coffee maker breaks.

Who would have thought that it would be so difficult to get a plain coffee maker with a thermal carafe and a delay timer for a reasonable price? Mr. Coffee's letting me down, big time.


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

American Power

When I was 18 or 19, I met a guy named Glenn who was, probably, about 25 or so.  A coworker say that Glenn had two speeds – dead stop and flat out.  Glenn was not a man for nuances.
Once, while decrying the weakness of the current administration, he said that he wanted the United States to be so incredibly strong, he could walk down the darkest road in any city of the world, point to any woman, and she would have sex with him – all he would have to do is to say “I’m an American”.

Even at 19, I thought “There’s something wrong with that logic”.  At the time, I probably just say Woah – but that’s what it expands to.

With orangeman, I realize that it’s not so much the overwhelming might that’s scary – its the idea that it could be used on a whim, to scratch a transient itch.  No special reason – I can, so I do. Whut?
We need a sanity test for presidents.  Yeah, like that’s going to happen.