Dave's Journal / Jan 2016
Happy New Year ?
Well, I am back from the fantasy of Paris, 1920's now, and I'm stuck here until the next book transports me into another dream. The bullfights in 1930's Spain? ("Death in the Afternoon") . . . . Africa? ("The Green Hills of Africa", "The Snows of Kilamanjaro") . . . . Long Island? ("The Great Gatsby") . . . . 1940's America? ("On the Road") . . . .???
But first, we should start off with my new year resolutions.
So .... in 2016 I will .....
- not worry about medical issues and instead be very thankful every morning that I roll happily out of bed;
- not complain about the insanity of the "news" that invades my home through the TV set;
bake an apple or blueberry pie.
- stop shouting "Just shoot the sonofabitch, and all his friends. Shoot all of them!" at the TV screen.
- stop pointing to the TV, looking over at Deb and saying "Do you believe this sh#t ? Do you believe this sh#t ? I don't believe this sh#t!"
Congrats to Cousin Pete
on his first day (today) of retirement !!
Out with the Old
Here's the ad I just placed on the photo forum.
Fuji X100 (No. 12A04227) + thumbgrip + soft release + leather half-case + original Fuji adapter ring + hood + cap + JVC adapter & dome-style hood (uses the Fuji cap) + spare charger + battery (maybe 2 spare batteries?)
I can't believe I'm doing this, but life's full of surprises. Truth is I have the XE1 and 11 lenses for it, and I just bought a bargain Panasonic LX7 as a more convenient and versatile "carry-around".
I bought this X100 from a forum member here, a few years back. He had Fuji do the stuck aperture blade repair before I got it, and the camera has worked absolutely without one glitch while I have owned it.
There is a scratch on the LCD screen that you can see in the picture. I bought it that way, and it has never bothered me.
Price: $415 for the complete set includes shipping by USPS priority mail to CONUS.
International shipping would be calculated as necessary.
I can only accept Paypal payments.
(I will wait a few weeks to decide if I would sell the items separately, but right now, I want to keep it all together.)
I am watching me do this like I'm having an out-of-body experience, asking me "Why is Dave doing this?"
"Grow healthy and sustainable food in the form of insects in your home! With our beautiful and functional desktop hive for edible insects you can grow 200-500 g of protein-rich super food mealworms!
. . . . . . Feed your mealworms sustainably on vegetable scraps from your kitchen . . . . .
Mealworms are healthy and good for the planet! . . . . .
. . . . Make them crispy as a snack, sweet or savory as an insect meat patty for your burger. . . . ."
As of this morning, they've raised $123,229 from backers !
Emma Turns 18 ?
(just last week she was 12 !!)
Some Things Don't Make Sense to Me
Take my neighbor's house, for instance.
Nice house, double lot on the corner. Her husband died a few years back and she had to default on the mortgage, move out last year and the bank (some biggy in NYC) "took it over". Never put a "for sale" sign on it, only one time in a year did I see someone "looking at it". But mostly it is just rotting away.
She (the neighbor who left) lives in a small apartment and has not much money. There's really no way she can move back in and take care of the place, even if she could afford to do that.
What doesn't make sense is why the bank is letting it rot away. Maybe they have so much cash on hand that this $250,000 (or whatever) means nothing to them? They must be paying real estate taxes ($4000/year probably) and insurance?
I think there are pieces of this puzzle that are not on the table.
it is very likely that the house is still in your neighbours name, meaning the bank doesn't pay taxes or insurance on it ... it just sits there costing them nothing, just the depreciation [due to rotting away] on its value over time.
Cochlear Implant: I had a meeting at the hospital with a guy who has 2 cochlear implants. He's 40 now, has had them for 20 years. We talked for a half hour, and it was re-assuring. He says it will take 3 - 6 months of self-training to learn how to correctly hear words. If I don't work at it, it will take a few years !! Gave me the name of a psychologist who may help if my brain gets overloaded.
The Fuji has shipped out: never thought I'd do it, but I sold the X100 and shipped it today, after giving the buyer an exhaustive interview and checking out his photo work. I liked it, so I sold it to him.
Best camera I ever owned, but (1) I wanted to sell it before it died and became worthless (it is from 2011) and (2) I hope to buy one of its later redesigns later this year. In the meantime, the XE1 and its 11 lenses will do the heavy lifting for a while, and the Panasonic LX7 will be my snapshooter.
One thing I already noticed is that the Fujis have spoiled me. The small sensor in the LX7 shows lots of noise in the pictures above ISO100. I can shoot the fujis up to ISO3200 and get very little noise.
Star Wars / The Force Awakens: very good movie. The look and feel and directing (even the storyline!) much reminiscent of "New Hope" and "T.E.S.B.".
It was actually shot on film, which caused a lot of good feelings on photo forums.
Went to my general doctor today for a general "follow-up" visit. I'm doing fine. Blood pressure and pulse rate are just like those of normal people. Had an interesting chat about the blood thinner I'm taking:
Me: I don't like the idea of this blood thinner. If I get cut, it won't stop bleeding.
Dr: But it's helping prevent a blood clot & stroke event. In fact you have a 6-7% chance of getting a stroke in the next year if you don't take this medicine.
Me: But if I get hurt really bad and start bleeding .....
Dr: We can always pump blood into you until the blood thinner wears off and the bleeding stops. But if you have a stroke, there's not much anyone can do for you.
Me: Oh. Good point there, doc.
Nothing much to report from here. Too cold and sometimes rainy to go out and stroll around. So I've been reading a lot and flicking through movies like a junky.
This morning, I decided to sell a lens I bought in November. Good lens, but I just didn't bond with it, you know. I paid $140 for it ,and wrote this ad up for $135.
I posted the ad and, while I was proof reading it over a cup of coffee, some guy sends me a note "I want it" less than 5 minutes after the ad hit the forum. He deposits the money in my Paypal account 10 minutes later!
An hour later, it was in the capable (he said sarcastically) hands of the USPS on it's way to Washington state.
Violent Crime is Down !! ?
I read about this and did not believe it. Violent crime in the US has been going down for the last decade. The reason we think it is getting worse is because of the "news" media - that's all they focus on. This graph is from the FBI website.
Believe no one.
Politics: New York Times Conservative Commentary
This is a clip from a conservative's opinion of D. Trump. My faith in the Republcan political party machine may be getting better now. (My faith in American voters remains at an all time low.)
The full opinion is here: NYTimes Commentary
Mr. Trump is precisely the kind of man our system of government was designed to avoid, the type of leader our founders feared - a demagogic figure who does not view himself as part of our constitutional system but rather as an alternative to it.
The 2016 New England Car Show
Nothing compares to the NYC car show (haven't been there in 25 years, but I remember it well), but the one in Boston is not so bad. Not very many exotics (that NYC is famous for), but there are enough to keep you dreaming about what your next car should be.
Stupidly, I drove all the way in, instead of taking the train. Parking was horrific. Never again (didn't I say that the last time we went?).
This simulator swerved and bumped and spun as you drove around the race track.
Another simulator - this driver was increible.
Aston Martin DBS Volante ($287,000)
Probably the busiest car in the show - a Porsche - covered with handprints.
Alfa Romeo is definitely still in the game. This was georgous.
The cute carshow models were everywhere.
A Lamborghini Huracan Spyder ($305,000)
The Rolls Wraith (with "suicide doors") was priced at $358,000.
Our personal favorite of all the "possibly affordable" models is the Fiat 500x.
World Photo of the Day
(Russian "Family- Friendly" Gun Show)
(They definitely have our kids out-gunned.)
If this gang were blacks or hispanics or native Americans,
they'd be gassed from helicopters or bombed from drones.
But they are white guys in cowboy clothes,
so we'll let them do what they want and call them
"Red Blooded American Heroes".
Total bullsh#t. I say gas them from helicopters.
If that doesn't work, send the drones in.
2015 Was Hottest Year in Recorded History
Scientists reported Wednesday that 2015 was the hottest year in recorded history by far, breaking a record set only the year before - a burst of heat that has continued into the new year and is roiling weather patterns all over the world.
. . . . the bulk of the record-setting heat, they say, is a consequence of the long-term planetary warming caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases.
"The whole system is warming up, relentlessly," said Gerald A. Meehl, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.
Why is a temperature increase of 20F so critical?
There is a lot of ice in the Arctic and Antarctic that is sitting there at 310F. That's why it is frozen solid. Raise that temperature just 20F, to 330F and all that ice melts and adds to the water in oceans around the world.
Then of course the ice that was at 290 is now at 310, just waiting to melt at the next 20 increase.
Who cares? . . . . apparently no one. Who should care? . . . .
Why I voted for Obama
Some people know this, some people don't. So I'm here to tell you .....
Back a few elections ago, I liked John McCain. (For the record, I hated George Jr.) John was a decent sort and I liked that (at the time) he was not 100% establishment politics, and I thought that took some spunk on his part, being surrounded by stuck-in-the-mud Republicans.
I kind of liked Obama for the same reason. He was new and had some bold ideas. I was not too concerned about what the two guys actually stood for (they are both intelligent and it wouldn't matter so very much who got elected - it's the 500 people in Congress who make our laws or don't make them).
Anyway, back then I was slightly more favoring McCain than Obama.
Then he picks Sarah Palin to be his running mate, and all of a sudden I thought "How can he be so stupid? What a colossal mis-judgement on his part. "
And the rest is history - I voted for Obama.
Poverty & Minimum Wage in the US
A Bernie Sanders comment started me thinking about poverty and the minimum wage in the US, so I ran my numbers and made up my mind, as follows:
The average American household has 2.54 persons, and the defined poverty level for that family is $18010/year (for the lower 48 states).
Bernie says that anyone who works 40hrs/week in this country should not be living in poverty, and I agree.
(It's not really this simple - what if a family has 6 kids?? - but let me give it a shot here. We have to set the rate based on the average family.)
So, I say that the minimum wage in the US should be $8.66/hour. (8.66*40*52=18,010).
The current minimum wage in the US is $7.25/hour.
Footnote: I don't say that I agree with the poverty level set by the government. I generally feel it should be defined higher than their numbers. That is a completely separate argument.
Additional Note on Atmospheric Temperature
Putting aside the fact that people don't believe in science, I'll go ahead with this anyway.
I did a little digging about the increasing temperature of Earth's atmosphere.
Because there is already so much of those nasty "greenhouse gases" up there, we are already and unstoppably going to see a 4.50F average Earth temperature rise in the atmosphere during thie next 100 years. (Not my problem, but still ....) This will happen even if we stop adding any gases throughout the 100 years !!! It's already "locked in", they say, and can only get worse from there.
Now . . . the calculation is that, given that rise in temperature in the next 100 years, the ocean level is estimated to rise 17 feet from today's level.
That's a lot to think about, even if you can't do anything about it, and you will probably be dead by then, which is why no one cares, I guess.
News, News, and More News
Yeh, the weather has kept me indoors and I've been reading the news for entertainment, and here's another choice piece of information that I learned today.
The number of undocumented (aka, illegal) people living in the US has (despite the political B.S. going around) actually declined over the last 8 or 9 years.
Hopefully the weather will get better and I can get out of here soon !!!!
Can Ted Cruz be The President? ... of course he can, and everyone who remembers history (yikes! are we supposed to remember history ! ? ) understands this. Here is the commentary on the constitutionality of the matter, from The Heritage Foundation ( maybe the most conservative interpreters of The Constitution in America)....
. . . . the Presidential Eligibility Clause incorporates both the common-law and English statutory principles, and that therefore, Michigan Governor George Romney, who was born to American parents outside of the United States, was eligible to seek the Presidency in 1968.
Here is the link: The Heritage Foundation
So why the big fuss over it? .... because some people have nothing real to put on the table, so they set the table cloth on fire and shout "fire! fire!" . (Similar to the immigration issue mentioned above - it's only a panic of you don't know the real facts.)
It's Elaine's 81st Birthday This Week !!
NYC This Morning
John Wayne's Daughter Endorses Donald Trump for President
Guys . . . it can't get better than this.
Diazepam .....wonderful stuff
I got to take 5mg of this stuff this morning to relax me for a prostate biopsy. Worked great. We talked and joked through the whole procedure (they took 12 samples !!!). No as bad as I was expecting. Results come back in 2 weeks or so, but I am very sure that I wasted Medicare's money to do this.
Picture of a Potato ..... Sold for $1,080,000
The world is filled with insanities these days. Here's one of them. Someone bought this picture of a potato for the amount shown above (that's US dollars!).
Here is what the photographer had to say about his picture:
"I see commonalities between humans and potatoes that speak to our relationship as individuals within a collective species," says Abosch.
"Generally, the life of a harvested potato is violent and taken for granted. I use the potato as a proxy for the ontological study of the human experience."
I'd like to come up with a snarky, smartass 'bloggers comment here, but I think this level of insanity outspeaks anything I might have to say.
"A Picture is Worth 1000 Words"
We all have a crush (I think) on some actress or actor or fashion model, and, truth be told (as it is being told here and now), I love the French actress / model Lea Seydoux.
She is in the fashion news today, having cut a deal with Louis Vuitton, and Vogue posted some pictures of her (lovely in every way), and here they are.....
Mohave-Xmahjongg Lives Again
Back in the day, I was pretty good at writing bash scripts (smallish computer programs that are not compiled to machine language). It actually was fun, and I miss it at times.
Since then I have changed computers and some things got buried on archive CD's, and this was one of those things. I had written a graphical front-end to start an existing mahjongg game (called X-mahjongg). The existing game was messy to start (way too many command line options). I labeled my new script "Mohave".
This morning (weather is still bad outside) I dusted off the old files and re-wrote some lines for today's computer and stashed files where they needed to be, and "wala", it works, and I can once again waste hours and hours playing Mahjongg.
The highlight of my day today was leaving the very boring Worcester car show. It was basically a carnival of local dealers, and we're glad we got in for free (but $5 for parking).
After that, desperate for excitement, we drove to Wegman's very upscale grocery store and spent $100 on $75 worth of very upscale food. The extra $25 paid for the upscale feelings you get bumping pushcarts with other very upscale people who are also overspending on food.
The hot item in my cart was Coney Island Hard Root Beer (3.8% alcohol) that says it was brewed in either their factory in Brooklyn or the one in Wisconsin or the one in Taiwan. I am drinking it now. I love root beer and I like real beer, but it's gonna take me a few bottles to decide if I like this stuff.
Yesterday's highlight event was the doctor calling with my biopsy results to tell me that I do not have prostate cancer. I kind of knew that, but was glad that the experts agreed.