Dave's Journal, March2013

Happily, March is winter's last month. It's my very least favorite time of the year. Muddy cold wet windy, but it'll be gone in 4 weeks.


I dropped some cash on a ROKU box for the basement TV (where I spent a lot of my bad weather days). It replaces the P.O.S. box I had from Verizon, so I don't get normal TV down there now, but I do get streaming Netflix and HBO movies and TV, on demand, and so far (2 days) I love the thing.

First movie had to be Serenity . . . one of my very favorite sci-fi movies ever, based on the outstanding TV series, Firefly. This is the best character development you will find in sci-fi movies (sim to the later Gallactica series)

Next movie was What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1992), which is an excelllent, enjoyable, piece of work with great acting. Leo DiCaprio was incredible (I think he is very under-rated as a serious actor)! Juliette Lewis was her usual outstanding self.

At the moment (Friday morning, with coffee), it's Abbot and Costello meet Frankenstein (their best movie ever ?).

I also checked out Game of Thrones (an expensive production of junk material) and some Japanese anime (I shouldn't be watching that stuff, but I like it a lot, and it makes good background ambiance when I'm doing other stuff), and Daffy Duck (what's not to love about Daffy, huh?)

Fuji X100s


The X100 was introduced in 2011, and I traded in some gear back in December to buy one (used, 18 months old), and I really really like it. It is my "personal" camera now.

But it has its quirks, and at times it's hard to deal with them, if you are in a hurry to snap a great picture.

Fuji could have, in my opinion, fixed the quirks with some new software downloads, but they decided instead to come out with the 2nd generation design, the X100s, that has better focusing and (theoretically) a better sensor (I don't yet buy the second bit there).

If I trade in anything in 2013 (like my X100), it will probably be to buy the X100s; I thinking that October - December is a good target date for the upgrade.

Smoking (a discussion from a forum I visit)

Smoking kills you, and even when (if) you stop, you lifespan will never be the same again . . .

(http://http://www.cancer.gov/cancert...acco/cessation )

Quitting smoking reduces the risk of developing and dying from cancer. However, it takes a number of years after quitting for the risk of cancer to start to decline. This benefit increases the longer a person remains smoke free .

People who quit smoking, regardless of their age, are less likely than those who continue to smoke to die from smoking-related illness:

Quitting at age 30: Studies have shown that smokers who quit at about age 30 reduce their chance of dying prematurely from smoking-related diseases by more than 90 percent .

Quitting at age 50: People who quit at about age 50 reduce their risk of dying prematurely by 50 percent compared with those who continue to smoke.

Quitting at age 60: Even people who quit at about age 60 or older live longer than those who continue to smoke.

From the New Yorker . . .


Last Night At Armsby Abbey * * *

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A Fleamarket Teapot


Silent Movie, 1928


If you can watch a silent movie, watch this one. The script is very edgy; this is not Hollywood whitewash sentimentality. The lines that Ms Swanson dishes out to the religious hypocrite (who is ruining her life) are as bold as anything you will hear in movies today (minus vulgarities).

Lionel Barrymore is the perfect slimeball.

Good ending too !

Wonderful job on the film restoration also.

Okay, enough artistic stuff . . .
what's on the screen right now?


What else is there to say, huh !

I've been experimenting with a Zeiss Softar filter; it renders soft pictures, just enough to "take the edge" off and also gives them a richness that looks like a memory shot on very old film. Example.

My first reaction to everything is panic.
Then I grab the flamethrower and toast whoever I can.
Then calm down to understand the issues.
Then apologize to everyone for having toasted them.

I blame this behavior on the genes I got from mom.

Yesterday was worse-than-predicted snow (snowblowed the driveway twice, and the city plow smashed into our garbage pails!) but, honestly,
I can't complain about how nicely today is going . . .


Mar.10 / Montepulciano Weather . . . yucky

I was fantisizing how great to be sitting in the cafe there overlooking the valley, so I checked their weather . . . it's worse than ours at the moment . . .


An Otter Icefishing

Down at the wildlife sanctuary today, I saw this otter icefishing - diving under, coming up, munching, diving back down. One of those times that I wished I owned long lens, but he / she was fun to watch. The snow was blinding white.


I have been experimenting with the GIMP, taking my photos into a more abstract world, if you will. The possibilities are endless, and it is hard to decide what's good and what's gimicky - I guess ultimately the viewer decides that.


I may open a new gallery in Cafephotos for this kind of stuff.

Google Me - "Dave Leo" / images


You're right, I am tired and bored, why else would I google myself?. Spring must get here and save me form this house that holds me captive .. . . must escape soon or go crazy.

The End is Near


Physicists announced today (March 14) that a particle discovered at the world's largest atom smasher last year is a Higgs boson, a long-sought particle.

The Higgs boson discovery opens the door to new calculations that weren't previously possible, scientists say, including one that suggests the universe is in for a cataclysm billions of years from now.

The mass of the Higgs boson is a critical part of a calculation that portends the future of space and time. At around 126 times the mass of the proton, the Higgs is just about what would be needed to create a fundamentally unstable universe that would lead to a cataclysm billions of years from now.

"This calculation tells you that many tens of billions of years from now there'll be a catastrophe," Joseph Lykken. "It may be the universe we live in is inherently unstable, and at some point billions of years from now it's all going to get wiped out."

Yeh yeh yeh . . . I'm not going to panic until I hear what Doctor Who has to say about all this sillyness.





A hypocracy is a government that was once a democracy but whose leaders turned into a pack of self-serving, two-faced hypocrits. They are always dictating what's "right and wrong" for the rest of us; but when an issue touches their own personal lives, they suddenly become liberal and forgiving on the matter.

Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, has switched his stand on same-sex marriage, saying he now supports it after his son told him he is gay.

Mr. Portman, who had been considered one of the leading candidates to be Mitt Romney's running mate in 2012, told Ohio newspapers that his son Will told him and his wife, Jane, in 2011 of his sexual orientation.

"It allowed me to think of this issue from a new perspective, and that's of a dad who loves his son a lot and wants him to have the same opportunities that his brother and sister would have . . . "

Of course, when it involved people outside his family, it was evil . . . now it's okay.

Come to Wonder . . . Why are they still running the government ?


Medical bills prompt more than 60 percent of U.S. bankruptcies

from CNN . . .

This year, an estimated 1.5 million Americans will declare bankruptcy. Many people may chalk up that misfortune to overspending or a lavish lifestyle, but a new study suggests that more than 60 percent of people who go bankrupt are actually capsized by medical bills.

Bankruptcies due to medical bills increased by nearly 50 percent in a six-year period, from 46 percent in 2001 to 62 percent in 2007, and most of those who filed for bankruptcy were middle-class, well-educated homeowners, according to a report that will be published in the August issue of The American Journal of Medicine.

The bleeding details are here: CNN news article

Footnote: ". . . . an MRI costs $1,080 in America and $280 in France. . . . In 2009, Americans spent $7,960 per person on health care. Our neighbors in Canada spent $4,808. The Germans spent $4,218. The French, $3,978. If we had the per-person costs of any of those countries, America's deficits would vanish. Workers would have much more money in their pockets. "

People then say to me "Well, move to Canada or France!". My answer is "No . . I want to fix what's wrong with my country, not move to someone else's country. "

Roku Online Chat Support

Hey . . not everything sucks !

My Roku streamer locked up and stayed lockup up. This was bad. This did suck.

After a lot of soul-searching, I took a patience pill and logged into the Roku support site and . . . this is a first . . . started an online chat with "Lynne" (who is probably a prisoner earning work credit towards an early parole?). Anyway, after the usual "Is it plugged in? . . . do you have an internet connection? . . . What is the device serial number? (this required a magnifying glass AND reading glasses) . . " Lynne did this and that and finally said "Power it down and then back up". I said "No, I am not going through that 30 minute setup again with Netflix, HBO etc etc" Lynne said "Trust me."

I stuggle with trust. I trust no one; not because everyone is evil, but because it's a very good bet that a stranger is either evil (33%) or simply giving you incorrect information (65%) . But . . . I trusted Lynne, and my trust was rewarded. I feel good about me, I feel good about my Roku and most of all, I feel good about Lynne, the Roku chat person (and I hope that she gets out on parole soon).

Doctor Who (the 9th)


The Doctor (Christopher Eccleston played the 9th incarnation of The Doctor) and Rose (Billie Piper played his time-travelling companion).

I just finished these episodes. Great great sci-fi because the characters are so well developed (esp Rose rolleyes) and there is so much humor going on you forget about the trouble they are in !

The most emotional episode was Rose' trip back to be with her father when he was killed. The most intense (and scary !) episode was "The Empty Child", which also had the most intellectual plot.

Now I'm off to the episodes with Doctor #10 . . . (boy do I love my Roku !)


Will TV networks ever have this level of integrity?


Circuit City Flyover


jpg At algebra practice . . .

Dave: "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Nam lacus. Fusce accumsan. Phasellus vitae elit. Vestibulum eleifend. Nulla sodales elit in quam. Maecenas vehicula urna vel dolor. Cras lorem. Pellentesque aliquet blandit mi. In nisi. Cras id elit. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae."

Erynn: scribble . . . scribble . . . scribble . . .

Dave: "Glad to see you diligently taking notes, Erynn."

Erynn: "Oh yes, Prof. Dave" . . . scribble . . . scribble . . . scribble . . .

( log this under "strange looking flags" )

The Flag of the Republic of Sicily

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It was only in February 2000 that the 'trinacria' as we see it above was approved for the Sicilian flag, but the flag itself dates back to 1282, after the Sicilian Vespers of Palermo. It is characterized by the presence of the triskelion (or trinacria; which is also the ancient name of Sicily) in its middle, the (winged) head of Medusa and three wheat ears which symbolizes the fertile land. The three bent legs are supposed to represent the three points of the island Sicily itself(The same three bent legs are used in the Flag of Isle of Man).

The head of Medusa in the flag is for protection of the island. According to Greek mythology, Medusa was a gorgon, a chthonic medusa got raped in athenas temple to punish her athena made her ugly with her hair full of snakes. Who ever looked at her would turn to stone. She was beheaded by the hero Perseus, who gave her head to the goddess Athena to place on her shield. In classical antiquity and today, the image of the head of Medusa finds expression in the evil-averting device known as the Gorgoneion.

Has my DVD player (and the 300 DVD's that I own !) become obsolete? This Roku streaming device is a something else. I can add Netflix, Amazon & HBO movies to my queue - even movies that I own DVDs of - and watch them without searching for the DVD and booting up the DVD player. (FWIW, Amazon Instant Video - $79/year- has the biggest selection of movies.)

When you think about it, physical DVD's are an expensive waste of money these days !
I am reminded of my parents having to toss tons of expensive LaserDisks away when those players were made extinct.

Is this good ? or bad ?

? ? ? ? ?


In the early 1900's, visiting nurses (they made house calls !) found it too difficult to climb up and down the tenement stairs to their patients. So they travelled along the rooftops, when it made sense to do that !

(It was a different world back then.)

The Dutch were the first Europeans to establish a real stronghold on Manhattan Island. They were greeted by, and became good friends with, the local "Indians".

The Dutch were a very class-oriented society and they were also extremely driven by commerce and business, and theirs was a rich people / poor people society (these are the 15-1600's).

One thing the Dutch noted was that there were no homeless, vagrant or discarded people in the native social structure. All the natives were more or less equally well off in terms of "lifestyle".

By 1870, there were a reported 50,000 people in New York City living in abject poverty. In the winter, when they had no heat, poor families were allowed to sleep on the floor in police stations. During the 1870's depression, families would abandon their children to life in the streets; most never saw "home" again.

"The New Colossus"


" Give me your tired, your poor.
Your huddle masses yearing to breathe free.
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, the tempest-tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door."

Well . . . that poem did not come along with the Statue of Liberty (though today it is on a bronze plate at the base of the statue). It was written by an immigrant, Emma Lazarus, who actually never saw the Statue (she was dying when it was at last erected). She wrote it (3 years earlier) as part of the private fund-raising campaign to get the statue errected (most Americans thought it was a horrid sentimental waste of money and would not pay taxes for it). Many other poems and articles were also written for that purpose, and this poem gained no big notariety at that time.

Fifteen years after she died, through the efforts of a friend of hers, the poem was inscribed and placed at the base of the statue. Even then, Americans didn't much care one way or the other about the statue or the poem.

It wasn't for a few more decades, when these new Americans looked back on their entry to America that the poem hit a resonance with people in this country.

Okay . . . that's enough about NYC history for tonight.

Dave and Lexie on the Porch
(no one is safe from the i-phone queen)


Looking for a nice $10,995.99 lens ?
Here you go . . .


(I gotta ask, will he take $10,995 for it ?)

A Fascinating Animation
(not me, I wish)

(Click Me)

The creator is Micael Reynaud. The original url is a Stumbleupon mess, so I can't link directly to it.

The Endless Summer

This is a wonderful little, gentle, easy-to-watch travelogue from 1966, Shot originally on 16mm movie film, and it looks magical today. Very laid back commentary.

Here's the trailer . . .

Here is the interesting story behind this amateur film: The Endless Summer.

Does a still picture tell a story?

My answer:

On the imagination of the viewer.
Some viewers try to "get" what the picture maker wanted to tell them.
Some viewers like to wrap their own stories around a picture.
Some viewers only want the picture to match the color decor of their parlor.

Okay . . . wrap a story around this one . . .



Over there is Dave, early this morning, barely awake, holding a sketch. In the sketch, there is Dave, late yesterday, holding the new Nexus7 android tablet that Chris and Mike bought for him. Dave was happy then. Dave is very tired now, because he was up very late watching Netflix movies and reading magazines on his new Nexus7. Dave hopes that the coffee will pull him out of this dreary bleary foggy morning. . . .

. . . . because today, Dave must fill out his 2012 taxes.


Beautiful day, but Deb worked this morning and then off to a chick flik with her friends. So, I drove to Alewife and took the train into Boston. Got off at South Station, trekked along the harbor walk into the North End. Sat down for a double espresso and pastry, then crossed over to the street market. . . . almost bought some calamari, but worried about getting them home fast enough.

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a little picture magic on this one . . .

Hanover St. in the North End . . .

Am switching to a new "everyday" camera bag, so I order up some new flag patches for it.


Heading: another late night

Comment: this new andoid thing is depriving me of sleep. Was up late late in bed watching (closed captioned ! ! )Twighlight Zone reruns. Decided that I need - really - a stylus pointer thing. My fingers are all pointed in the wrong directions.

Easter 2013, Deb and Elaine at Rick's


March goes out like a lamb.

Page written by Dave Leo