Friday, December 29, 2017


I really wanted the new book by the author of The Martian to be good.  I really did.

I keep hoping that it will improve.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Line

An interesting article from Slate on whether a line exists between normal societal behavior and harassment, and if so, where.

Monday, December 11, 2017


I'm still having a hard time wrapping my mind around the idea that women have been subjugated-- not too strong a word, I think -- for the last two decades, and more, and that what I would have said was usually just teasing and harmless fun was sometimes perceived that way by the recipients, but sometimes, and maybe more often than just sometimes, perceived as a malign controlling influence that they could not combat, could not affect, just had to either live with or leave. 

I think But I'm not that way, and then I think Am I? Are they saying that every time - EVERY TIME - I've looked at a woman and thought Wow, sexy -- because thats usually the extent of my thoughts - I'm contributing to the culture that made this possible?  How could that be true?  And yet I suspect that there are people, not radical or irrational, who would say yes, that's exactly what you were doing, and you must change. 

Defenses occur to me. So, its okay for a woman to dress in a sexy way, but I'm not supposed to react to it?  Not notice, not think OMG, look at that?  Admire, compliment women I don't know -- Just wanted to mention that your outfit is really nice, quite stylish  -- this is supposed to be wrong now?  Its okay if she likes it, but not if she doesn't?

Like I said -- having a hard time with this.


Saturday, December 09, 2017

Whether Weather

Once again the weather guys say oh noes, one to three inches of snow are coming!!!

Once again, we get less than an inch....significantly less.  Probably.  We think.

Tell me again why I believe them? 

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Calling Names

Our resident French girl, coming into the kitchen after I'd made the dough for pizza, told me that I looked like a boulanger. I told her that was the nicest thing that anyone had said to me in quite some time.

Monday, December 04, 2017


Having an exchange student living with you is pretty cool.   But we find that it helps to remember: these kids wrote their self-descriptions with an eye to sounding appealing to your average parent. They aren't lying -- well, usually -- but they perhaps aren't telling the complete truth. 

Such as when our current student said in her introductory note that she enjoyed reading and being at home with her younger brother.  Both true.  But not here.  As she put it when I asked her why she goes out so often with girls she's met here, despite leading us to believe she was more or less a homebody - That's when I am in France.  But this may be my only chance to come to the US, so I need to do as much as I possibly can - and if you're not doing something, I need to hang out with friends who are. Otherwise, I'm just wasting my time. 


Monday, November 27, 2017


We get two or three calls about four days a week from some kind of spam service.  It doesn't leave a message.  Well, I thought, since it always comes up as the same number, why not block it?

How about Because Verizon doesn't think it's worth providing this service in your area?

The Phone Company.  Still demonstrating Lily Tomlin / Ernestine's sincere regard for warm, friendly, effective customer service. 

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Library Fun

Nothing douses the warm feelings that libraries give me faster than finding out that for a new book that I lost (actually, don't even remember getting, but they say I did, so I'll believe them) -
  • costs $35,00, new, hardcover, from Amazon,  and 
  • Amazon is selling it for $20.97, but 
  • the library wants to charge me the full undiscounted cost,plus
  • a fee to do it.  
They must have a lousy purchasing arrangement.....

Saturday, November 18, 2017


Is it so terribly wrong that I feel that the people popping out of the woodwork with complaints about actions taken more than a decade ago have foregone their right to expect my support?  There are modifiers to that, of course -- how many times did something happen?  How serious was each event?  Did you benefit from acquiescence? 

I. know that some would say Oh, so now you're blaming the victim?.  I'm not.  I do feel, though, that some of them are looking for a free pass. I doubt they're lying, but -- why, this late? I know their answer --  Well, we couldn't speak, no one would believe us then, now the climate is right. I hear that.  But I don't entirely buy it.

And yeah, my ire is motivated when I see this latest event, with Franken, motivating Trump the Chump cawing about Oh so now Franken is exposed, you guys, lets all castigate him, while the GOP and half the known universe did and does NOTHING to castigate him -- murmurs of disapproval, thats about all I've seen -- seeing that makes it worse. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


I just learned that it is common now to buy a game that won't let you do all of the flashy things  - launch missiles, or use specialized skills, or something -- unless you 'level up' by either playing for what I consider an insanely long time, like dozens or hundreds of hours, or by paying real money to the vendor in order to play at the advanced level.  This after you have spent real money to get the damn game.

This is like learning to play chess and finding out that the knight won't jump until you fork over some cash first. Or the queen can only go half the board length in one move.   Why would anyone do this?  Why is it normal? 

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

There are mobile homes...

... and then there are Mobile Homes.

Monday, November 06, 2017


If I get a communication from some organization, and the communication includes a phrase like We're excited to announce..., the odds are very good that I won't be all that thrilled, and maybe even actively pissed.

Also, the Run for Something organization is... interesting.  Even if they do have a millenials only bias.  I just added them to my list of people to whom we'll regularly donate. The Anti-Trump resistance: it is fractured and squabbling, but it lives.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Virtual..... Porn?

This fascinated me.  And not just, as they used to say about Playboy, due to the obvious reason.  This is cutting edge technology.  After all, porn sites were early leaders and adopters for streaming video, for secure payment systems, and other techological advances.  The rest is lagniappe.  Well, mostly.

Virtual Reality Gets Naughty

Thursday, October 26, 2017


There was once (don't know if it still exists) a comic strip called Foxtrot.  In one, the young son is tossing a football around with another boy, and says Go deep.  The other boy replies How can free will co-exist with predestination? The first boy mulls this over for a moment, then says Too Deep, whereupon the other boy says If Batman died, would the Joker be happy?

There are times when I think If Trump died, would I be happy? After all, he's fat, gets no exercise, is under recurring stress -- I'm not a doctor, but that certainly sounds like a recipe for a health crisis.  I have to admit, the idea of him out of the picture is pleasing.  And then I think His backup has one thing in his favor - less likely to start a war just because his feelings were hurt - and several things against him -- intensely Christian (by his definition) ergo much more bigoted, and much more skilled in getting things done by the government, so much more like to bring The Handmaids Tale to reality.  And if HE gets taken out, through impeachment or resignation (both very unlikely), why, there's Ryan, the Boy Wonder of Ripping Safety Nets to Shreds, there on the sidelines, waiting for his chance in the big chair.

Or to put it as succinctly as someone did in an article the other day - Laying aside the possibility of  him starting a war, the Democrats should hope Trump stays around a while, because he makes a much better target for political attacks.

Yeah. That one is too deep, too. 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017


There are times when I think "When the liberals are back in power, I hope they rip and ravage every crappy thing that the conservatives are doing,, Don't DO something good for the people, just destroy what these bastards have done. And then I think "But that would make us as bad as them".

Doesn't help that 'implementing the conservative agenda means 'destroy rights, ravage freedom, yank the country back 50 years' while 'implementing the liberal agenda means ' build schools, give rights to immigrant familes, expand access to scientific ressearch'.  Though those last things, they ARE to conservatives as sunlight is to vampires. So that's something.

But we can't go on like this.  
But we can't give up, either. 

Sunday, October 22, 2017


A little early to say that The Orville has jumped the shark, but -- as the line goes -- I have a bad feeling about this Pria episode.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Saturday, September 30, 2017

First World Problem

Why is it so easy to do a google search for 'cheap area rugs'  and so hard to do one for 'good quality price is not a major consideration area rugs'? 

I'm not saying oh we want something knitted from the  belly fur of sheep fed only the grapes that grow on Mount Olympus, packed only by cello-playing virgins  - price does matter -- but quality is important, too.  Why does no one (that google shows me) emphasize that?

Monday, September 25, 2017

French Daughters

I have two people whom I refer to as my French daughters.

One is a woman that I have known for several years, and with whom I've communicated repeatedly, particularly when  she has been going through a stressful period, usually related to either interaction with her father or interaction with her -- I'm not sure what to call him, as he's married, and not really a 'boyfriend'.  She has used the term amoureux, and I suppose that's as good as any.  She gets a lot of pain and no satisfaction from the first, and a combination of pain and satisfaction from the second.  She wants to leave the first (but can't, due to financial and familial issues), and knows she should leave, or at least turn down the intensity, on the second -- but she finds that very hard to do.  Very hard to do.

The other daughter is a French exchange student who has been with us just about a month, and who will be with us, barring problems, until the end of May.  That started out as oh, that's nine months, its a long time, and to my surprise its already eight months left, and that doesn't feel like a very long time at all.  We get along very well with this person, and when she leaves, it will feel as if part of our family is leaving. Not looking forward to that.

I like both of them.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!

Today I had a laser pointed at one of my eyes.  It was a medical laser, being used in a function known as SLT, to reduce levels of pressure inside my right eye.  (Don't pout, Left Eye; your time is coming).  I learned a couple of things:

First, its really not extraordinarily helpful to have spent the prior evening leafing through the results of a Google Search on "SLT Complications laser), even if the results were that a) the process is about 40% effective,  b) complications are very few, and c) in almost every case, the complications either went away on their own or could be caused to do so.  I could not stop thinking about the one case where the doctor's office mis-set the laser, delivering more power than needed, or the case where a man had adverse results despite looking like a good candidate.  Its one thing to know there are no guarantees, its another to be face-to-glowing-green-dot with it.

Though I think my casual mentions of tri-lasers and foveal burns did get the opthamologist's attention, which, given that this is MY eye, is a good thing.

Second, I learned that just because they say the process takes about ten to twenty minutes doesn't mean you'll be out of there in 30 minutes.  Try more like 90 minutes, what with getting these eye drops, those drops, scheduling, and just sitting and waiting.  There's a reason we're called 'patients', and its not particularly thrilling.  I told him that it would have been nice to know how long the process could be expected to take, and he said that for most of his patients, they would be scared off by knowing how long they'd be there.

Third, it really does not hurt (maybe just a tiny, tiny bit),  but the apprehension can deliver a throbbing headache, which is not what you want after Mr. Goldfinger's just done a job on you.

Friday, August 25, 2017


About three weeks ago, I lent my MP3 player to my wife so that she could listen to an audiobook while we were at the gym.  Which she did.

Somehow, in the space of two hours, that player - bright red - disappeared.  Don't think it was stolen.  Pretty sure it didn't go into hyperspace, or dissolved into quanta.  But its gone.

Today I received a call from our French exchange student.  It was a text message.  My phone, which is now about 5 years old, received it fine -- but the Verizon So you think you have a communications device package said Don't even TRY to respond to that text.  Our student, you see, still has her French phone number -- her carrier, Free.Com, does not charge her for calls to US numbers, so she can still use it here.  Of course, in the US, where we are more technologically advanced, we do.

Fortunately, she then called the house phone, and I was able to talk with her.  But it made me think again that I really should get that WhatsApp messaging tool, which apparently works well enough to use all over the world.  But WA requires you to go to their website and use your phone's camera to scan a QR code, which I don't think my phone can do.  Not sure, but don't think so.

So now I'm thinking well, maybe I need an MP3 player AND a phone. At which point I think or a phone that HAS an MP3 player in it, like most do, these days.  So I looked at the students phone and - of course - its an iPhone (How'd you pick this one?  Oh, my father knew I needed a phone, so he bought it).  Now, I'm not a big fan of Apple -- can't stand the Oh your phone is more than six months old?  Why aren't you just using two tin cans and string? attitude -- but there ARE things I like about it, like their abillity to synch the contents of the phone to the Apple Cloud, so that if you lose the phone, you have not lost the data.  I know that other phones probably do this too, and I know its been quite some time since It Just Works was a truthful Apple slogan. And the ability to do a remote lock of the phone, or even cause it to dump its data and reinitialize -- or set off an alarm even if the sound is turned off - these are all of interest to me. As well as  the question of protecting the physical phone.  Hers came with a cute little wallet that shields the glass, but I doubt its impact resistant.

I feel myself sinking into the quicksand, while Tim Cook says Don't struggle, relax....

Thursday, August 17, 2017


Apparently, Trump cares what no one thinks.  Not other world leaders, not experts, not members of his own party, certainly not the media (unless it is fawning over him). And yet his supporters love him. They have no basis for this - unless one counts fondness for his willingness to lie, change his story, exaggerate, support injustice, nod approvingly as people get beaten up, and be generally a rich thug. But they do. They don't even seem to care when his ignorance hurts them. Amazing. If Obama did a tenth of what he has done, they'd be waving pitchforks. But then, again, of course, Obama is black, and liberal, and Democratic. He can, therefore, do nothing right. While the orange puke-inducer can do nothing wrong. 

Were the roles reversed, the horde would be calling for impeachment, and their rabid leaders, for assassination.  I'm for impeachment  I think it will happen But with the gutless Republicans in congress now, I may have to wait a long time.  

Thursday, August 10, 2017


Well, I don't know if Trump has scared the North Korean leadership -- I doubt it -- but I know that he's certainly scared me

What I would like to see now is the Secret Service bundling him into a straight-jacket and dropped off on Guam, or perhapps Seoul.  It won't happen, of course, because we always protect the leader , even if that's who got us into the war. 

Next best would be super-Christian and uber- Mormon Pence saying Okay, thats it, fuck it, you're clearly wacko, 25th Amendment, hustle his ass out of here, but since he's such a smiling, nodding, go-along kind of guy who can probably tell you the exact number of days until the end of term (including the asterisk which reads 'unless impeached or otherwise removed from office), the chances of him stepping forward and taking any kind of forceful actionare pretty minimal.  

As are the chances of the Congress doing anything useful.

So I hope we'd not fucked, but I'm not counting on it.  Bastards.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Trump's Chumps

I really don't see how anyone can trust him, in anything.  He lies so often, he's double-crossed his own appointees, he's contradicted people who are saying what he told them to say - he is an agent of chaos.

It's bad enough that his replacement would be someone who is likely much better at pushing the severe-right agenda.  Its worse to find myself thinking Would he REALLY start a war just to prove his manhood?  Would he REALLY consider the use of nuclear weapons?

Because I really think that he would.  He would.  As bad as Pence would be, as he guts social programs and rips the heart out of support systems, without in any way bringing jobs to areas that need them, without improving infrastructure, without doing anything that would be unquestionably good for our country -- I don't think he'd do that.

Talk about being between a rock and a hard place.  This is between a rock and a blast furnace.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


I would never advocate violence against our politicians, no matter how insipid they are, no matter how despicable their actions.

But there are times when I see what they do for political points, or to push their agenda , without regard to the effects on people, and I think I hope someone else has fewer scruples.  I wince thinking that.  But is it too much to hope that some kind of non-violent action will get these bastards and their gleeful wrecking of us and our ideals out of office?At the moment, it certainly feels like it.

I know - "Wait till the next election, vote them out.  If they aren't voted out, it means they're acceptable to most people".  And I know that Trump has a solid 25% of the voting population who would support him no matter what he did.  Some would do it if it meant damaging their own families.  Others would say well, its the Democrats fault for not just going along with us. The number varies, from 24 to 26 percent, depending on the issue, with a high degree of overlap. But its consistently right around that core number.  As long as the opposition is disorganized, thats all he and his crew need to continue, because with that number, the politicians -- thinking first of themselves -- will not bail on him, will not resist.  Some will.  Most will not.

It sucks and it sickens me. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Images and Thoughts

One of the wallpapers that I have on my PC is an image taken, apparently, by a Depression-era photographer  It is of a woman, very plain, looking through the window of a black car. A small child peeps over the edge of the window. The door of the car is dusty, with dents.The impression I get is tiredness -- the woman, the car, the whole environment.  Just TIRED.

I like the image for a couple of reasons.

For one, it reminds me of how good I have it.  The image comes up on my computer, my personal storage and play device.  When that picture was taken, no one could possibly have imagined a world like this one, where such things were possible.  It would have been magical. And it reminds me that when I get really irritated because, once again, my PC has disconnected itself from my wireless printer, so that, despite the cheerful oh-just-do-this instructions on various web sites (most usually "just uncheck Use Printer Offline, and you will be good to go), I know that I will almost certainly have to turn the PC off and turn the printer off.  I shouldnt have to, and all those cheerful instructions seem to assume that of course I don't have to do that; further, my shaky knowledge of how these things work say the same thing to me, that -somewhere- there is a connection process that happens when the PC starts, and that sets a bit somewhere to say yes, this printer is usable, but something has unset it, and so now you have to go through that process again.  You shouldn't have to, this is a magical world, but guess what, you do.  Live with it

And the picture reminds me of how bad things can get, in our world, how downtrodden people can get, how abandoned they can get.  Which I guess is exactly what has happened.  And it scares me to think how bad it COULD get, with people who are totally oblivous to the world I live in, because my world, my magical world, is as far away from their world as mine is from daily life in Bangladesh. Those people, those powerful, rich people, they could squash my without noticing.  They could.

And they might.

Sunday, July 02, 2017


I totally loved this.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Fast Dads


I've been working my way through a science fiction series where, prior to recently, I've only read occasional books, which led me to say so, when did THAT happen? and what are these people talking about? I finally figured okay, make the effort, read the whole damn thing. 

In reading the series -- I'm up to about 12 or 13, and I think there are about 20, overall, -- I find that the author, after the first eight or so, has some rules of thumb -

- when nothings going on, find a clan with a bone to pick with the most powerful leader, and start some kind of clash
- if REALLY nothings going on, muse about the origins of the conflict.  Feel free to back two hundred years.
- every third book or so, rehash the last two, and then give a bit of a preview of the next book.  Throw a little extra material in the middle to pad it.

Really, this is getting a little old.

Friday, June 02, 2017


I spend a fair amount of tme texting with a guy who is an avowed conservative.  Doesn't see anything wrong with Trump, thinks people should just 'back off and let him do his thing'.  This person used to describe himself as a Tea Party person; he doesn't, any more, but the basics are all still there.  NATO?  What's it good for, anyway?  Pissing off other countries?  About time.  Removing the right to abortion? You don't like it, move to a state where it's legal.  Not earning enough to make such a move possible?  Your problem, not society's.

I talk to him in the hopes that I can understand a little of what motivates such a person, and in an attempt to find common points of agreement.  Well...

I read a flame by a liberal person on Facebook of a conservative (who, actually, may not have deserved it, based on subsequent comments) regarding the reality of climate change.  Seeing these two people, Iwonder if  it might not -- probably is not -- possible for people of diametrically opposed viewpoints to come to an agreement on key issues. At least not without really, really good negotiating skills, or alcohol, or both. Even then, the points of agreement are lilkely to be superficial.  In my case, he's still going to be strongly 'pull yourself up, don't ask for society's help'.  And I'm not. How can we possibly comunicate? I believe it's possible, but I think it takes skills far in excess of what I have. 

That's a sobering concept, and a saddening one.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

To me, this is a sexy picture


I'm using a Tshirt and cutoffs kind of guy.  But I do appreciate excellence in clothing:

Friday, May 26, 2017


Got a very kind note from a friend today. 

We had sent her an Amazon gift card for her birthday (she lives in Canada, and the prospect of paying cross-border fees did not enchant) - just a way of saying Congratulations, hope you are doing well in your law studies, keep in touch.  And what she said in return was that she'd had a very tough week,  law school not being a bucket of fun, plus she's working, and when she got the notification of the card, it was like 'balm on a wound'.  She said she almost cried.

I was overwhelmed, myself.  Its nice when you can do that for someone.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Potty Training

Well, not exactly.  But doing it in another country can be intimidating, and requires some advance awareness.  This article, which is set in Italy, is mostly  applicable to France, too.  (Really?  No toilet paper??? Yeah. )

Saturday, May 20, 2017


One of the things that people yearn to do when they enter retirement is to travel.  Frequently, that means buying or renting an RV (I recall the glam vehicle one relative bought; privately, we referred to it as 'the superbus', and it was nothing in comparision to what's available now). We're going to do a little bit of that -- instead of going overseas (to France, natch), we're going to take a drive through the Northeast -- over to Pittsburg, up to Niagara Falls, down to the Finger Lakes wine area, and home again.  Should be fun.

Yet I have to admit, I still want to go to France, to the point where my wife has said "Then go".  She's perfectly okay with me taking a week or ten days and going to see some friends -- a close friend in Paris, as well as a new conversation partner in La Rochelle (which that partner refers to as 'the prettiest city in France')  I'm thinking about it, but am relucant, for two reasons, each of which, I have to admit, is a little strange.

One is the food.  I am, I suspect, the only person who has even gone to France and lost weight (going through security at Charles De Gaulle airport on the way home, I abruptly demonstrated what happens when they ask you to take off your belt, and you've lost about ten pounds).  I just don't like most French food.  I'm a very simple food person, and things that -- well, hell, let me just say 'don't look American' don't appeal to me.  This is particularly strange when you realize that much of the quotidian French food is really basic - for example, hachis parmentier, which has a name that immediately sets me on edge; turns out, it's essentially shepherd's pie.  Ditto Croque Monsieur, which many Francofreaks adore; its a ham and cheese sandwich. (Okay, I'm not a fan of ham-and-cheese even here, and French ham is usually too thickly cut for me, with hyper-gooey Gruyere -- but still: ham and cheese)  So I intellectually acknowledge that French food is not inherently awful, but still: I have this atavistic no-not-for-me reaction to it.  Last time, when I had the interesting experience at the airport, the only 'real food' I had was the night before departure, when a friend made a food run for me to McDo's -- and sat, amazed, as I wolfed it down.  Its me, not them, but....

The other thing thats keeping me from going is that I don't want to think of myself who says Oh, yeah (elaborate yawn), I went to France, but only for a week.  Visiting some friends, doncha know.  I know, no one is EVER going to confuse me with Jay Gatsby, but still: casuallly tossing two thousand dollars (round trip, Dulles to Paris, Air France Premium Economy), plus another five hundred or so for hotel in Paris (La Rochelle, I'd be staying with my friend) -- I don't know, it just seems profligate to me.  I despise the idea of 'we can afford it, so why not do it?'  (Whats particularly weird is that if my WIFE wanted to do something similar by herself, I wouldn't think twice before saying that Of COURSE she should do it.)

So, no France for me this summer.


Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Watch This

Liking this due to its size, but wishing for something that also had the day/date on it, I did a Google Image search for "Mens Watch Big Face".

So many little dials!  Big clunky bracelets! Must be the watch-owner equivilent of the SUV-owner compensating for something.....

Monday, May 08, 2017

Light Impressions

I freaking love this.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Chain of Events

It turns out that if you leave the Venza in the street, so that the two people who need to get to their cars in the morning can do so in the warmth of the garage....

and if you leave the moonroof open on the Venza....

and it rains....

and water collects in the cup holder....

and you find your missing MP3 player and drop it into the cupholder so that you can see it when you get out of the car....

it will not be good news for the MP3 player.  Dammit.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017


Just got through looking through the Facebook comments of a guy with whom I used to work, and ancillary comments by others, some of whom I knew.  Hard to believe I never realized how conservative they are.  Whats particularly interesting is the guy himself, who apparently is both quite conservative and disgusted with Trump.  He commented quite a bit on my FB feed before the election (not necessarily in defense of Trump), but since then, radio silence.

In my continuing quest to improve my abysmal ability to understand quickly spoken French, I came across a web site called Linguo.TV, which offers free videos in French, with or without French subtitles, at full speed and reduced speed. It can be hard to understand, but somehow I find this site easier to use than others that offer the same thing.  Oddly, I think its because this one's narrator (at least, for the video on surfing, which is the only one I've seen thus far) has a thicker French accent.  Somehow it feels more genuine. 

Not going to Italy this year after all.  I'm mulling going to France for a week while my wife takes a drive in New York to see various things with her mother.  I probably won't.... but I might.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Readings and Stuff

I read a couple of interesting articles - one about a concept known as Deep Learning, which is the current Big Thing in artificial intelligence research (not that I am current in the least, but this, I do know); specifically, that people are a little concerned because while on the one hand it seems to have some unsuspected abilities -- such as accurately (though not completely) predicting predilection towards schizophrenia - they don't know how it does it (one of the delights of neural nets is that they teach themselves, and sometimes their pathways are convoluted, if not downright spooky).  This is not a problem per se - hey if it works, it works -- but when you get to the point where Deep Learning is driving, say, an autonomous car, you really want to be sure that the decisions it's making are ones that a reasonable person would have made.  People have written science fiction novels about what happens when that assumption turned out to be wrong, with dire consequences.

The other article was about how a number of online sites are removing their comments sections, because they are finding that using  comments as a way of getting feedback from readers isn't working -- they are being taken over by bots, by ideologues, or by conspiracy theorists.  Then the owner of the site has to spend time weeding out the bogus comments from the valuable ones, and what they're finding is that it just isn't worth the effort.  (Ironically, reading that, I wanted to send the author a comment!)

I baked cookies the other day, and I've been thinking for a week or so that I'd like to make some crêpes.  I had a running joke with one conversation partner who told me that she had gone to a crêperie; it took me three tries before I realized that what she was pronouncing as krep ree is what I pronounce as krep er ee.  You would think that a French person would be able to speak the language better!

The hedgehog seems to be doing okay.  After two enucleations, it's now in permanent night - but since it's a nocturnal animal, that may not be a bad thing.  My daughter is almost giddy with delight.  I am being guarded in my optimism, but I try not to let that be obvious.

Friday, April 14, 2017


I don't dislike people, but I don't like that many, either.  When I do like someone, I feel as if they are clearly smart and capable. I always think that they have the ability to succeed at whatever is important to them, and if they don't, it won't be for lack of effort.   There aren't that many people about whom I think this, but there are a few.  I try to tell them. And they're always surprised. I'm not that smart, they say. You don't really know me.  No, I think.  But I believe in you.


Yeah, about that.

We had/have plans to visit Italy this June.  The primary reason is that my wife's family (part of it) comes from there, a small town about two hours north of Rome.  The rough idea was that we would go to Rome, spend about a week or so there, head north to that small town, go west to the city where my Italian language partner lives, then back to Rome and home.

I, of course, was trying to figure out if I could sneak a side trip into France along the way.  Turns out, as they say, Yeah..... no.  Although France does abut Italy, the 'top of the boot' flares way out.  If you're in northern Italy, you'd have to go fairly far up and over to get to France.  And that's just to Nice, which is, pretty much, as far east as you can get. To get to where my friends live, its a minimum of another three hours (going north to Burgundy) or four hours (going west to Toulouse), or even ten or twelve hours (going north and west to Paris, La Rochelle, Lille, all of that).  In other words - Bill, if you want to go to France, go to France.  Not Italy. (Though even that idea is shaky, as I remember the rolling strikes that France had last summer. Ugh. I was personally never impacted, but there was always the chance...)

So, Rome.

The thing is, my wife is not all that thrilled about going to Rome. (Me, neither, but I'm just not a city person.  Didn't care for Paris, either.  Or San Francisco.  Or even Seattle, mostly.)  She thinks Rome's very congested, with lots of opportunities to have your money stolen. (She told me, for example, that she had read If you're taking a cab from the airport to a hotel, determine the cost before you go, and hold the money in your hand - but don't give it to the driver until all of your stuff is out of the cab. Ouch.  The fact that this might be an exaggeration, or that it could happen in any major city, didn't matter.  Just the idea of having to fight to get your bag back, in a city where you don't even speak the language....)

So right now, probably, that trip is off.  We still want to do something, though.  We're thinking Pittsburgh. And then Toronto. And then New York's wine country.  And then home. We hear they speak English in all of those places.  Still need foreign currency, but....


Thursday, April 06, 2017

Meaty observation

I enjoy reading articles about how to succeed when cooking a steak at home, because I have never successfully done so. 

I've cooked steak, but it always, always comes out drier and less tasty than when I get a good one at a steak place.  I know, part of that is because I prefer well-done steaks (I am aghast when I see people ordering or even advertisng a dark-red slab of meat), but even given that, well-done steaks in restaurants are frequently good.  Well-done steaks in my home, nope.  Never.

But I am disgusted whenever those articles go into its this muscle that runs from this joint to.... Ugh.  I know it's meat.  I know where meat comes from.  I just don't like thinking about it.

Thursday, March 30, 2017


This is an article about one librarian, and the effect that she had.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

I do the shopping...

...for our house, but somehow I have never managed this.

Monday, March 27, 2017


I like finding new authors whose work I enjoy, and its lagniappe when I find them by accident. 

Like Jay Posey, and Outriders.  The book can be classified as hard-sci fi / military.  Not all of his work is like that -- some seems to be Then the governor of the remote settlement found the hidden door into the spirit world -- but THIS one is, and it is pretty damned good.  Creative and plausible.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Friday, March 10, 2017

Monday, March 06, 2017

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Sunday, February 26, 2017


Soda Stream bottles -- empty bottles -- have an expiration date?

Friday, February 24, 2017

Friday, February 17, 2017

Mistakes Were Made

Just started reading Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me), by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson.  Only in the first chapter, but absolutely loving it.  A terrific view of why we believe things that are objectively wrong.  (Hint:  Cognitive Dissonance.)

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Friday, February 10, 2017

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Wednesday, February 08, 2017


I didn't need proof that things are very strange and more than a little scary, but I got it anyway.

A friend living in Iran - home of the Revolutionary Guard and institutionalized intolerance - asked me yesterday evening if my family is okay.

A friend living in northern France asked me last night if there was going to be a civil war in the United States.

To the first, the answer is yes.  We're comfortably well off, we're not in physical danger.  Emotionally, it's another story. To the second, I said that I didn't think so.

I found myself thinking about the Jews (and others) in the 1930s, who converted their assets into easily portable jewelry, just in case. And wondering if we should contemplate that.  This is not something that you want to find yourself thinking about, at any time, and even more so at two o'clock in the morning. Which is when I woke up, thinking about it.

It's fine and very Gandhi-ish to say that love trumps hate, and that we should fight intolerance with understanding and acceptance.  But what do you do when the person who should be leading that effort is in fact the primany supporter and instigator of the intolerance?

In a better world, the leaders of the society would politely ask that leader to step down, and in recognition of their moral force, he would do so.

In this one, that would not only not happen, but could not be conceived of happening.  Each of the leaders would instead be jockeying for power and influence.  Each sure -- or at least proclaiming - that they were doing it for the people.

Without much evidence of it.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Friday, February 03, 2017

Grab Your....

As much as I am delighted by pretty much anything that causes a problem for Trump, I can't bring myself to support the Grab Your Wallet organization, which seeks to instigate boycotts of companies who either do business with or actively endorse Trump and his brand.  I don't think less of LL Bean because one of their directors donated more than the legal maximum to Trump -- I wish they had not, but that doesn't mean to me that LL Bean should now be forgotten.  I don't think that Nordstrom's should be praised for no longer carrying the clothing line of Trump's daughter, whether they dropped it because sales were poor or because they didn't want to be boycotted.  These are all secondary targets, useful only to the extext that they distract Trump -- and given that he has plenty of grimy little worker bees who are busily snipping words out of the Constitution, or adding sections, or just ignoring it entirely means to me that what happens or doesn't happen to a company won't affect the generally offensive thrust of his actions.

I read today a warning to the effect that liberals are starting to get into a hothouse atmosphere where anything that Trump does is deeply offensive.  Certainly, much of it is.  He is catering to the deep right, the Bible-belters, the mouth breathers.  But that does not mean that everything he does is wrong.  I know, people like his supporters are black-or-white; you are either for him completely, without reservation, or you're a dammed Commie who should be ridden out of town on a rail.  That doesn't mean that we can't be nuanced, ourself.  I look at a Facebook page for Anti-Trumpists, and I've noticed that as more men get involve, the tenor of conversations there is getting more heated, more lets just blast Air Force One out of the sky.  (No one has said that, literally, but I did see comments today of Where is Lee Harvey when we need him, followed by a comment of We don't need an assassin yet. That's crazy talk.  Literally, crazy.)

I oppose Trump and just about everything he stands for - but when people start advocating boycotting a company because they sell his daughter's clothing line, or assassinating Trump himself -- that's going too far.  Way too far.

Get a grip, people -- or you will turn into the same foaming-at-the-mouth types who've populated Trump rallies.  In other words, idiots.

Thursday, February 02, 2017


After dreaming about Trump (whom I detest with the fury of a thousand suns) last night, I spent today studiously skipping any mention of him.  I can't continue -- the fight against him, his stupidity, and his bigotry must continue in each of us -- but I do feel better.

The chocolate egg cream I just made, helped.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Thursday, January 26, 2017


I had really thought that life would settle down.  I had really thought this.  Even that idiot apparently thought that last weekend - lo scorso fine settimanna, to work in a little of my Italian study -- in the Big White House would be pleasant.  It did not turn out that way.

Part of it was the enormous number of people who turned out to express hate and discontent regarding his -- I hesitate to call them policies; more like legislative temper tantrums.  I doubt that the people in his inner circle discuss this, but I would bet that they quickly agreed Don't tell him, denigrate the marchers, tell him its just a passing thing, they'll get over it. Which may actually be the case, but I don't think so.

I believe that the flurry of spiteful, hateful actions this week are in response to that.  Telling the EPA that they could not publish their findings until a politician says they are acceptable -- doesn't that sound like East Germany when there was an East Germany? Saying that organizations could not use Twitter (his preferred method for getting to the people.  And of course, telling people who want to communicate with the White House that they must use a specific venue in Facebook - one that, as it happens, does not exist.

I really hate this.  I am proud and amazed by the hundreds of thousands of people who came to the march on Saturday in DC, as well as at other locations -- I did not go, but I picked up my wife and two friends afterward, and just the sensation of being surrounded by people who were happy, laughing, glad to be there -- it was delightful.  It was invigorating.

I don't know what happens now.   But never have I feared so much for the integrity of my country.  Which is in a way ironic, because those are the kinds of words that right wing zealots -- the kinds who put up web sites with names like Patriots, Assemble! and Liberty's Guardians and the like -- like to use to describe the country. Its not going the way we of the fierce right think it should go, and so we are all doomed!  I used to laugh at them.  I still do, a little.

But mostly, I just want this nightmare to end.

Friday, January 20, 2017

It's pretty creative.  (I'm taking a break from saying omg omg omg omg omg.... as I await the horrors to come.)

Sunday, January 15, 2017


I picked up a biography of Guy Grissom which was well written but seriously in need of a decent author, and ended up returning it quickly.  While there, I happened to notice Spaceman, a partial autobiography by Mike Massimino. He's got a really nice writing style that is both informative and self-deprecating.  Much more to my liking, not the least because it reminded me of when I was a kid, and NASA was still exciting, and we really did think we'd be building spaceships by now.

Why didn't I think of that?

"One of my theatre-geek friends had a Les Miserables wedding – you had to steal the bread and silverware at the reception, and a bunch of people piled up all the chairs and started singing.”

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


At least, those who comment on Facebook pages for conservative news sources -- seem to be an angry, bitter bunch.  And frankly, they make me less likely to want to understand them and their grievances.


This is bizarre.  I am avidly awaiting the next edition of a comic strip.  A comic strip.

Saturday, January 07, 2017


I know that this is (probably) a Fabergé egg, but to me it looks like the model of a Jules Verne spacecraft.  Complete with comfy couches inside and small chandeliers.

Friday, January 06, 2017

Stray Thought

Driving one of the Google mapping cars must be the most boring job in the world.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

What An Interesting Idea...

Siro Ortiz is an 11 year old kid from New York and every Sunday he brings his folding table out to the streets and offers emotional advice for only two dollars. Siro says he's been bullied in school and that has hardened his emotions, and he just wants to share his wisdom with people in need.

 Original Site

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Staring Contest

I'd say that they are evenly matched.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

New Year

I hope that we have a year of peace and prosperity.

I won't hold my breath, but that's what I hope. 

And I'm changing my party affiliation to Republican, just to be able to do a little bit against the ton of slime and stupidity that's headed our way.