Dave's Journal, April 2012

jpg I did it! . . . . cut my hair !
Deb love's it.
I look scary now.

No excitement around here lately. Been busy digging plants in and out. Putting off state tax forms as long as my conscience will allow. Federal taxes weren't bad. State taxes suck.

Maybe I have Spring fever. All I want to do is linger and putter around the yard, twiddling with the plants. I'll get over it, but probably not this week.


Well, I lingered, twiddled and puttered again today, moving hostas from here to there (Ms Nature works relentlessly - using every second of time - toward growth and changes, whereas, we mortals work in only small daytime increments to catch up with her). You can't "win" . . . the best deal She will cut you is a compromise that does not threaten any plant in Her domain.

So I compromised and made the soil ever so perfect for the little %$#@&^ hostas, your royal &^%$@ Highness.

Then I pumped out and changed 1/4 of the water in the fish pond (aka, The Swamp). Can't even count the fish because the water is so clogged with algae . . . must get some plants in there soon, to clear up the water.

Then . . . . boldness prevails . . . I ordered a bag of clover seed to plant as a "lawn" in the back yard. Read up on it . . . clover was once considered THE prime lawn cover. This is a risk . . . clover is pretty and it flowers nicely and requires no maintenance and actually improves the soil . . . but bees love it (I like bees buzzing around the flowers out back but most people get twitchy about them ). What could happen? I ask.

I have too much stuff to read (again). Fell 4 issues behind with the New Yorker, and decided to just scan for the cartoons and catch up with the next issue. Here are some laughs . . .


One of my favorite olden day Sunday comic strips was Rick O'Shay.
The guy here is Hipshot, a "good" gunfighter, friend of sheriff Rick.


O my . . .

Some town in Italy bought a Lamborghini for a police car. Not the best idea they ever had . . .



Today's visit to the Boston MFA

I find "modern art" and "abstract art" intriguing, even though 99% of the time, "I don't understand it". Today was no different . . . the first shot here looks like a double exposure, but is not - it's one click of the shutter button and no computer hanky-panky. The second shot still has me wondering how this person got his stuff hanging in the Fine Arts Museum when I can't even get coffee shops to hang my stuff up ? ? The third picture restored my sense of security just as I exited to drive home.. . .


jpg And one more thing . . . .

I fell prey to the museum gift shop on the way out. There is very much stuff in there that is just excellent but way too expensive, except for . . .

They sell 8X10 prints of artwork, mounted and matted to 11X14 . . . for $9.99 ! And these are prints of the artwork hanging in the museum !

For the record, it costs me about $12 simply in material to produce something like that of my photos. If I sold the stuff for $9.99, I'd loose about $2 just in materials alone and then there is the time I spent to create the image.

(I bought two.) . . rolleyes

The New China Worker, and "Eating Bitterness"

This is a very informative article about the young workers in China. "I will not Eat Bitterness"

Me: Come on, Mike, smile for the picture.
Mike: I can't smile now, dad, I'm too cool, what with my new sporty Italian car, and all.
Me: Nice red color on the disk brakes.
Mike: Yeh . . . they match my undershirt.

Show and Tell

In case you missed this story . . . .

What was the most interesting thing you ever brought in for show-and-tell? A bunny? A toy car? Whatever it was, a five-year-old boy put you to shame Monday, when he showed up to school with 500 dollars worth of heroin to show his kindergarten class.

The Connecticut Post reports that the boy arrived at school with his step-father's jacket, from which he pulled 10 small plastic bags, each containing five folds of heroin, according to the police, for show-and-tell.

Unfortunately, he never got past the show part. The teacher promptly confiscated the heroin. It is not entirely clear what the child planned to say for the telling part of the exercise. Shortly thereafter, the student's step-father, Santos Roman, showed up at the school frantically looking for his kid and the jacket. Instead, he found the drugs had confiscated by the police, who arrested him.

Mushroom Burgers

I've been to Red Robin before (in Texas), but today I became a fan of their (New England) mushroom burgers, for a curious reason. (I had one with a side of fries and enought draft brew to guide it through my system.)

It's been 4 hours now since we ate lunch, and I can tell you (within + or - an inch) where the burger is inside my body. This is what makes the Red Robin burger stand head and shoulders above the MacDonald burger (diffused discomfort, hard to localize except to say that it is somewhere in your torso between your throat and your . . . um . . . um ) or the Burger King burger (numbing in your left arm and loss of feeling in your toes) or the Wendy burger (vague urge to meet chicks named Wendy until it passes through your system). Nope . . . no dispute, I am certain that the mass of the Red Robin burger is right here (I am pointing to a specific spot now), and (based on the elapsed time since lunch and the spot where the burger is) I am 90% confident that at 10:16PM tonight I will be staring out the bathroom window at the stars, having timed my meeting with burger destiny to within + or - 2 minutes.

(I will turn my cell phone off, so don't try to call me then and ask "How's it going? " )

jpg Elsa Dorfman

A few years ago, I saw an exhibition of photos - very large polaroids - at the MFA. Great stuff, and the use of this huge polaroid camera made it very interesting. I forgot the photographer's name since then, but this morning I found her ! She is world famous - so is her camera - there are only 6 of them in the world !

Here are her interesting comments about using the camera: ElsaDorfman. At the upper left on that page is a link to her main page.

Her website is quite witty and personal. You should roam around and read the things she wrote about this and that - especially her family and friends.

Guns, Laws, Dead People

The crime watch guy who shot an unarmed person a few weeks back has been arrested for murder. However that trial may turn out, so be it, but I think there is a much larger issue here and it makes the arrested person almost (in a philosophical sense) as much of a victim as the person he shot dead.

Certainly the dead guy has more to grieve than the killer, that's not my point.

The killer was given a permit to carry and fire a gun in a populated area, and given the priviledge to "stand his ground" and kill anyone he perceived to be a threat to his safety, with no limits placed on his behavior in provoking a dangerous situation. This actually gives this guy more killing latitude than police officers have !

This is like giving some guy a "00" license to kill (for those of you who remember James Bond) - no questions asked. Happily, the DA's office isn't agreeing with this concept and is charging the guy with a crime.

This guy is now being tried for murder. I think that is a good decision, but I think the real bad guys are hiding under the radar of public opinion. Not to defend his killing of the unarmed person, but the real bad people are the people who support a law that says "Here's a gun . . . go shoot anybody you want if you think that will keep me safe and secure".

That works ever so well to your liking until some neighborhood crime watcher with a license to kill blows your kid's (or grandkid's) head open for "looking suspicious".

As a lifelong supporter of civilian gun ownership, I am beginning to understand the thinking that "If we cannot control the use of firearms, we must outlaw them." (Or just allow people to kill each other, no questions asked.)


Last week, I donated my baritone uke to the Ed Tree memorial music program.
Yesterday morning, when I pulled the curtains open the sunlight did magic
when it hit my small uke (the one I kept) so I made a picture . . .


Old Cameras

Today I am off to the antique camera show. It's a long drive, but where else can I see this old stuff ? . . . Full report when I get back . . . .


I'm back now. The show was OK. Not as big as 10 years ago because of the internet (why drag your stuff to Massachusetts when you can sell it on the internet?). It was nice to rub elbows with other collectors and see the great variety of what people are shooting with. It's amazing!


These guys were fun last night (at FSU). Drummer was better than Ringo and the base player was better that Paul, and the two guitarists were really really good, especially "George". Voices were so-so, harmony was fair, but then again it was live (no studio retakes!).

A Day Trip To Ogunquit, ME

This place gets jammed solid with people in the Summer and we stay away, but it's "off-season" now so not crowded at all. Weather was sunny and 750F. Too nice.

Not every moment was so very perfect (people drive me %$#&^ crazy sometimes), but it was a pretty nice day.

I put up some Pictures, here.

Go Hillary ! !


Extremely Interesting History of Social Security

I did not understand the Social Security system until I retired and started collecting benefits. I always thought (incorrectly) that my contributions over 45 years were in my retirement account, earning the money via investments, that would pay me after retirement. Not true, as I learned just a few years ago . . this is a cash-flowthrough system, or "pay-as-you-go", which has a horrendous impact on the US federal budget, and it is virtually unsolvable at this point, because all the money that was put into the system was given out by the system just as fast as it went in.

Anyway . . . when I learned this after I retired, I blamed FDR for this terribly bad system . . . turns out that I was wrong ! ! . . . he's not the guy to blame ! ? !

Thanks to Deb, who dug this up. Here is an excellent article in the Washington Post (it also references a book which might be worth reading ?). . . . FDR actually wanted an investment account set up for each person who put money into the system. It was Congress (after FDR died) who tweaked it into a come&go system that burdened the current generation with the finances of the retired generation.

I am wondering . . . what if all my SocSec contributions had simply been used to purchase US Bonds to pay for my retirement? ? . . . I'd be rich and the current generation would have lower taxes. (I once ran the numbers and calculated that - had my contributions been invested at 5%, and continued to earn 5% - I could pull in $50,000/ year for eternity). Of course that was impossible because Wall Street protested that US Bonds were unfairly competing with the stock market, so that could never get passed by Congress (owned by Wall Street).

My humblest apologies to FDR, and I promise to always get the facts straight (at least try harder) from now on before I blame someone for something.

Electric Shadows

This is another small foreign gem. (See Netflix reviews.)


One thing about Asian cinema is you can count on some very very emotional moments, and most often they involve children. There is some tragedy in here, but that is life I guess.

Stand Your Ground - the Gay Approach

I get the Russell's for Men catalog in the mail, and here I am on the porch rustling jpg through it and come upon this perfect carry-all for gay guys who want to strut around places where there is a "stand your ground law".

jpg The Stealth Pac is constructed with a nearly hidden rear key-locking compartment for valuables, travel documents or for concealed-carry (optional nylon holster included).

So I am thinking now that gay guys can throw this over their shoulder, having the peace of mind that their 9mm Glock is safely tucked away in there. Some local yahoos approach and start their manly bullying because you have a "purse" on your shoulder . . . you say "Oh please let me pass without hurting me, sirs" . . . they laugh, they shove, you fall and smash you chin on the curb (all the physical evidence of unprovoked violence is now on your side) and in the blink of an eye you blow the (ever so small) brains out of (how many? 3? 4?) morons.

Everybody wins . . . gays start buying property in the area and drive the real estate values through the roof, there are 3 or 4 less morons on the planet, and everyone in the US now knows that you should never ever f$%#% with a guy carrying a "purse".

The Week in Review (April.22.2012)

Well . . . . have been nursing the lawn seed in the backyard now for days, watering every 4 hours (it cannot dry out until it sprouts). What a pain, but my hopes are high. I planted a mixture of 60% grass and 40% white clover which, theoretically, is a very good healthy combination. Must never use any kind of weed killer as it will kill the clover ! Then planter dichondra between the stones in the footpath. Theoretically it will be beautiful in a few weeks.

Went to CafeKafofo and took down my pictures down, for the next guy (a painter). Must get out and find more places that will appreciate my stuff, but for the moment I have 15 framed pictures sitting in boxes downstairs.

After, that I took a film camera (the Hexar) for a walk along the Charles River. What a beautifual place to walk and sit. Also, across from the Science Museum is the best kept secret park in Boston !

Finished the last of the roll of film and dropped it off at CVS. My plan is to develop my own film (B&W at least) at home, but the fish tank is where my "dark room" needs to be and those 5 little fish are too happy to flush away.

My next step in photography is to find (and buy) a medium format film scanner. I have rolls and rolls of 120 film (Tri-X !) in the fridge and that beautiful Fuji 645 waiting to go to work. But processing 120 roll film is expensive. Rumor has it there is a glitch in the (don't laugh) Walmart film processing system, that the local employees aren't aware of. The rumor has it that if you drop a roll of 120 film at Walmart, their system will send it to the Fuji lab. Since that is not the usual automated Walmart process, there is no billing amount in their computer system. They end up charging less than $1 per roll ! ! . . . . definitely worth a try, I think. If that doesn't work, I need my own film scanner, but that's a cash flow problem at the moment.

Today is probably a Debbie-Do-Day . . . Debbie say do this, Debbie say do that !


Getting the notice that "The version of operating system (Ubuntu) you are using is no longer supported with updates", I (against Mike's advice) opted to stay in step with technology and (you guessed) update my OS. The good side of this is that I now have something to snark about here in my journal.

The bad news is that my netbook barely boots to the GUI, does not connect to the internet, doesn't work, has a whole new desktop environment so I cannot find anything or any way to fix the problem. (Don't we love "upgrades" ?) Happily my system administrator makes house calls and came and took it away to his shop for a fresh installation of a new OS, which they call Linux/Mint. Okay. Okay. Ten years ago I used MSWindows that has about 5.8Billion users on Earth. Then I switched to Linux/Ubuntu which has 1.0B users and now I am switching to Linux/Mint which has . . . what does their website say over there . . . oh . . . a total of 2174 users worldwide.

I am now on my good old laptop with its good old version of Linux. Took a few hours to load up the latest backup files from the (dead) netbook, but I am still (kind of) in business.

On a positive note, once Mike installs this Linux/Mint on my netbook, I will be user #2175. They'll probably throw me a party !

Page written by Dave Leo