cactuswatcher: (Default)
( May. 24th, 2017 06:15 pm)
I think somewhere I mentioned the subject of book I read through most recently. It is The Fall of the Ottomans by Eugene Rogan, which covers the years between 1908 and the armistice on October 31, 1918 ending Turkey's participation in World War One, eleven days before the armistice on the Western Front. Not sure anyone here is interested in that subject, but I should say it is balanced, well written and easy to follow. I've read a couple books on the Ottomans before, the excellent The Ottoman Centuries by Patrick Balfour, 3rd Baron Kinross, which covered the entire sweep of Ottoman history and another book I don't recall well that also focused on the Ottomans in World War One, but without the clarity of The Fall of the Ottomans.

The book manages to relate the problems Turks had without painting them as 'the enemy,' but also not ignoring the ugly side of Young Turk rule. The book explains why the Armenian genocide began, who was behind it in government, and some of the horrors, but it does not let that topic overwhelm the rest of the history. It does cover the double dealing on the part of the British in the war who seemed to have made promises to far too many groups, tribes and nations with conflicting interests. It does however show without actually arguing the point that perhaps those who think that the current troubles in the Middle East began with the British and French occupation after World War One probably haven't dug deeply enough into the issues that were tearing the Ottoman Empire apart long before then.

My only gripe about the book is that it stops in 1918 where as the transition from the Ottomans to the modern Turkey took several more years of fighting.

Currently, I am translating a very long, Soviet era, Russian novel called Blockade by Aleksander Chakovsky, about the siege of Leningrad in World War Two. It seems the book was turned into a movie shortly after it was published in 1978, but it is not easy to find out anything about its author. The book is fine for brushing up on my Russian skills, but it certainly is not one I would recommend to anyone, Russian speaking or not, as a work of art. Among the problems I've seen in it besides the usual Soviet era ideological crap are plagiarism (It's bad when you know the English language sources a Russian book stole from), horrible syntax, and possibly non-existent or possibly terrifyingly bad editing.
cactuswatcher: (Default)
( May. 17th, 2017 10:07 am)
From Trump: No politician in history treated worse than me
As my brother used to say, it's the littlest violin in the world playing 'My Heart Cries For You.'
I'm tempted to rewrite the headline without the word 'treated,' but that's not true. But surely Trump understands both his position and public relations as poorly as any elected US politician in recent memory.

From (our local NBC station's site.) John McCain says Trump scandals are 'Watergate size'
It was also on the NBC national site this morning, before it was subsumed into the following article: The ground begins to shift for Capitol Hill Republicans
Amazing it was stable this long.
cactuswatcher: (Default)
( May. 17th, 2017 05:34 am)
My new fridge is in place and since I've got ice this morning it must be working okay. Sirius will be pleased. Last night he got the last of his fancy pouches of cat food. As soon as I dumped it out I knew I'd made a mistake buying that one. A few nice, whole, cat-sized shrimp plopped into his bowl. Sirius doesn't like shrimp. He didn't even lap up the broth till late last night. He did, in fact, eat it all when he got hungry. But as I expected, instead of eagerly gobbling up his soft food as soon as he got it, he let it sit, and meowed plaintively at me for a while as if something was wrong. Yeah, he was just being picky. The shrimp was mixed with fish he does regularly eat, and he did eat the shrimp eventually. If it had been whole tiny shrimp from a canned mix, I'd have found them left in his bowl this morning. He doesn't like any of this fancy stuff that well. He likes the goo that separates out of processed canned food the best. Why not give him what he likes? (I spoil him. He gets half regular and half indoor-cat kibble every day. He leaves the indoor kibble till everything else is gone, usually well into the next day. He's only coughed up one hair ball in all the time I've had him. So the indoor-cat food has done its job, and I can feel like I'm doing something good for him.)

I got another one of those awful scam phone calls yesterday, or my answering machine did. (When the phone rang I saw the caller ID read "unassigned" which didn't exactly make me want to answer myself.) Got threatened that "IRS is filling lawsuit against you." I've never heard of a filled or half-filled lawsuit, but I suppose those foreign crooks know best.
Maybe Trump should stop practicing in front of a mirror.

cactuswatcher: (Default)
( May. 2nd, 2017 10:28 am)
Sirius the cat has had a rough few weeks, although he doesn't seem to notice it much. It all started when I made tacos and he managed to get a piece of shredded cheese that fell on the floor before I picked it up. I saw him do it and thought, 'Well, I'm not going to eat it, now. If he wants it...' He just gobbled it down. 'Oh, he really likes cheese. Maybe I can give him a little bit, for a treat now and then.' So when I was making a sandwich the next noon, he was hanging around so I gave him a sliver, and the next day and the next. Then the next day I noticed he was losing the hair inside on his back legs. Yike!

He loves cheese. But he's allergic to it. It doesn't seem to effect his disposition or general well being. But it certainly did a number on his hair! Fortunately it was the transition time from winter to summer coat and his dusty-brown underfur hung on while his black coat was falling out in most places. But it has taken weeks for his system to correct itself and for his black coat to grow back underneath.

I really felt bad. The first bit of cheese he had, probably wouldn't have hurt him. But giving him cheese three more days was my fault. As an act of contrition I didn't buy or eat any treats myself for those weeks. I just had a salad last night for dinner. I'm trying to lose ten pounds from where I was last year. Guilt is a good motivator, but it isn't much about the cat anymore, now that he is back to his furry self. I am five pounds down, but want to keep going for the rest.

One more thing about Sirius. He must have been a little disappointed in the toy I got out for him this morning. A few minutes ago I found a drawer open in the same cabinets where his toys are. I don't think he's been able to open a drawer before. but his efforts weren't exactly rewarded. A. The drawer with his toys is above his full height on his back legs, B. The drawer he opened was empty and C. When not empty it's the drawer I keep onions in. Sorry, Sirius, by chance I arranged my home to keep curious and industrious kitties very bored. ;o)
1. The year: Before time began.
2. What kind of car did you drive? I didn't drive much. You might not believe me if I told you the cars I did drive my senior year. Let's just say that the car I went to take my driver's test in was longer than the space they gave me at the DMV to demonstrate parallel parking in.
3. It's Friday night football, were you there? I went to a few games earlier in high school, but had to give it up for work.
4. What kind of job did you have? I made parts for jet aircraft. (not kidding!)
5. Were you a party animal? Nope
6. Were you in the band? No. Couldn't play anything. But remembering what the high school band sounded like, that probably wouldn't have disqualified me from being in the band. You did however have to take band class, and I would not have wanted that.
7. Were you a nerd? No! Terms were different then. You didn't call anybody a 'nerd,' unless you were sure you could lick them in a fair fight.
8. How often were you in detention? Never.
9. What was your school mascot? Hawk
10. If you could go back and do it again would you? There are certainly a few times I wish I'd done things differently. But over all? No.
11. Are you still in contact with people from your class? No, not since a reunion ages ago.
12. Do you know where your high school sweetheart lives? No. It's been ages since I knew.
13. What was your favorite class senior year? I liked all my classes senior year. We did plays in Spanish class. My English teacher missed a day and sent word to the substitute that *I* was supposed to lead the class that day. Our school specialized in math and science, so the senior classes in those were good. The class that was worth the most in the long run was Journalism. By the time I was a senior I wasn't even a total loser in gym class.
14. Do you still have your class ring? Yes, come to think of it, it's probably the only piece of gold of any size in the house.
15. Do you still have your yearbook? Yes, all four years.
cactuswatcher: (Default)
( Apr. 14th, 2017 06:44 am)
One of my local TV stations is doing an Internet poll about favorite Easter candy. I'd leave a link, but their polls disappear after a day anyway. The choices (and current percent of votes) are:

Chocolate bunnies (10)
Peanut butter eggs (20)
Jelly beans (11)
Cadbury creme eggs (36)
Peeps (8)
Easter M&Ms (15)Read more... )
cactuswatcher: (Default)
( Apr. 13th, 2017 04:48 am)
I'm up early this morning. The power went off about 7:30 last night and stayed off till just after 3:30 this morning. It was fairly common for the power to go off where I grew up as a kid. The road was lined with trees, and you sort of had to keep your fingers crossed every time there was a strong thunderstorm. Unfortunately you got used to the sound of a transformer blowing up on the power pole a long walk from the house. There I lived in the woods. Here I live in a subdivision with the power lines all buried. I think this is only the third time the power has been off (always in good weather) in the 18 years I've been here, and the only time the power has been off for more than a couple hours. There is a substation quite close so maybe I haven't been lucky at all.

At any rate when the power went off last evening, I heard a transformer blow loudly. Mostly, then, I wondered whether it was on the street that goes past the subdivision or at the substation. I don't really know, but I suspect it was on the street. The power didn't go off at all on the far side of that street. The power in the park next to my backyard was off for maybe 90 minutes. Those of us in the subdivision were left in the dark. They probably didn't have a suitable replacement transformer in the area, like they would have on every repair truck back in St. Louis County.

Although I have a lap top I could amuse myself on for a while, long experience taught me the best thing to do in an evening power outage is go to bed. I got a good 7 hours of sleep before the power came back, which is about what I'd get anyway. So I've been up resetting all the clocks, and deciding what in the fridge needed pitching. Eight hours without electricity is too long to not to be concerned. The freezer compartment was still fine and dandy. Most of the stuff in the main fridge was by chance crammed together in mostly full bottles and jars keeping nice and cool, so it should be fine. The few things in small quantities (which would get warm faster) I threw out to be safe. The tomatoes should be fine; the lettuce will tell me if it needs to be pitched before I need it. Luckily the only leftovers I had were a small amount of canned cat food, a bit of corn and some chopped black olives in the bottom of a can which I'd already thought about throwing out.
cactuswatcher: (Default)
( Apr. 6th, 2017 06:13 am)
This clump of cacti is blooming again. I saw a hummingbird buzzing around the flowers yesterday. An old, but good picture )
cactuswatcher: (Default)
( Apr. 5th, 2017 10:53 am)
I'm always behind the times, so I saw both Fantastic Beasts and Rogue One for the first time this week. I have to agree with what I'd heard before about them. Fantastic Beasts is meh, not really bad but not exactly good. Rogue One wasn't what I was expecting, but it was far above and beyond episodes 1-3. Spoilers below if anyone cares, now.

I had a difficult time relating to or caring about the characters in Fantastic Beasts. Eddie Redmayne didn't impress me in the least as Newt Scamander, and Katherine Waterston's Tina Goldstein was more like a supporting role than a central one it seems like she ought to have been. I did get a kick out of Kowalski trying to convince the banker to try one of his pÄ…ncki (I ate some fine ones myself this spring). Otherwise Dan Fogler as Kowalski was perfectly adequate in a character actor's role. The only character I actually liked was Tina's sister, Queenie played by Alison Sudol, but again it was something of a role for a character actress. I think the movie should have been aimed at an audience under 13, but it's PG-13, and maybe it might have come off better in cartoon form than as a glitzy CGI extravaganza. I hear they are planning no less than four sequels. Either there are a lot of die hard Rowling fans or this series may not quite make it that far.

I expected Rogue One to be closer to The Force Awakens which was one reason I was in no hurry to see it. Indeed it was poor-but-principled female protagonist saves the world, but I didn't expect it to be quite so grim. When the group was all piling on the captured transport to go off to the last battle, I got the sudden realization "This is like the Dirty Dozen. Might be no one is coming back." Other than being a little melodramatic in spots, the thin story didn't play out badly; certainly better than The Dirty Dozen did! As for the CGI 'actors' I thought they could have found someone who could have done Peter Cushing's voice better, otherwise it seemed as good as they could do. I liked the movie over all, but will be glad if the next movie, the one between episodes eight and nine, will be very different.
cactuswatcher: (Default)
( Apr. 3rd, 2017 09:43 pm)
I hope the new LJ user agreement will convince those who have accounts here, but only post on LJ to reconsider especially for locked posts. I just don't think anything is safe over there.
The drought spoiled... not my yard or garden, but me. I've been used to cleaning the weeds out of the front yard once in the spring (February and early March, here) and then giving it a lick and promise every few months and having the front look halfway decent into the fall. Today I made a third concerted pass through the front yard this year. Granted it took me less than an hour, but there were well established weeds everywhere. We've had what the weather bureau says is normal rainfall, but the drought had gone on so long that I'm sure not used to it!

The most disconcerting was finding Palm leaves growing out of the clump of Yucca Glauca. The yucca, at least this garden version of it grows in tight clumps so it's unusual to see any weeds in it. While there are no native palms in Phoenix, there are a number of varieties that will spread like weeds here if given a chance. My neighbor, a couple of owners back, worked cleaning out drainage areas and culverts for Arizona highway department. (One day he brought home a massive diamondback rattlesnake he found at work to show off, which scared me pretty good till he assured me he didn't get it anywhere near where we lived.) When he was going to move he decided to landscape his front yard to make it look prettier for sale. He brought in a good dozen Mexican fan palms he'd dug up at work, and planted them all over his tiny front yard. Fortunately the next owner saw the pretty little palms were going to grow into a giant mess and he cut down all but three of them. The three are about 20 foot tall now after a dozen years, and can easily get twice as tall. They haven't been much of a problem until the last year or so when the current owner stopped having them trimmed regularly. Yes, palms require maintenance. Usually they are trimmed at a particular time of year just as the fruit stalks start to grow to keep the palms from planting themselves in your roses. (I don't have roses, but the neighbor with the palms does.) If they do sprout and you catch them small, they're just like any little weed. Pull them and you're done. I'd guess the palm in my yucca was hidden for at least year underneath the yucca. So it was pretty sizable when it burst through recently. Way too big to pull. I cut it off as low to the ground as I could. Once it gets a few years old and has good roots it's hard to kill one.

While I was out working, the toddler from the house on other side wobbled out of their garage and greeted me with a cheerful "Geah!" (rhymes with 'yeah'). His dad chuckled as he led him back to go into his car seat. I pondered the expression while those neighbors drove off for the morning. I thought, well he'll grow beyond that philological curiosity all too soon. Then one of the folks from across the street came to get into his car parked on my side and he greeted me with a smile, a wave and what sounded like 'Guh up!' Maybe that toddler won't grow out of it. ;o)
cactuswatcher: (Default)
( Mar. 23rd, 2017 07:31 am)
I went out early this morning to water because I thought it had not rained as expected last night and discovered the stepping stones in the backyard were damp. I frequently can't hear it softly rain in my house because of the tile roof. I know it's raining when the rain smacks hard into the metal chimney and vent covers up on the roof, which is most of the time when it rains here. Anyway I was outside when I heard someone playing a horn, I presume a trumpet, practicing bugle calls in the subdivision across the park from me. A kid practicing before school, maybe? Any way, glad it wasn't in my immediate neighborhood. Here in AZ we get up earlier and do noisy chores outside earlier than people would back in the Midwest, but I think bugle calls at 7:00 am in a quiet neighborhood is a bit much.

It's that time of year and I need to go get my car inspected today. It's just a pollution inspection. They had a safety inspection as well back in Missouri. But government here doesn't seem here seem to care if your brakes and lights work. With rare rain and no salt on the roads, mufflers last a very long time here, so little need to check to see if you are illegally rumbling down the street.

ETA (before 9:00 a.m.): That was quick. I got past the high school before all the kids were crossing the road. Zipped down the highway. Pulled into the test facility and there was no line up at all, the first time that's happened to me. With newer cars with on-board-diagnostics the test literally just takes seconds. The biggest hiccough was when I handed the tester the exact cash for the test, and he forgot for a second what he just told me I was supposed to be charged, then rolled his eyes at his negligible mistake. A little more highway traffic on the way back, not much. I was gone from home less than 40 minutes. Mail in my forms and money and my car is set to go for another two years.
cactuswatcher: (Default)
( Mar. 9th, 2017 07:57 pm)
Florida Lawyer's Pants Catch Fire During Florida Arson Trial

Liar, liar, pants on fire! Yes, his client was convicted.

German inmates dine on McDonald's

Failed food supply contract negotiation. A choice for lunch of regular hamburger, regular cheeseburger or veggie burger. Inhumane treatment! They can't even have the new bigger Big Mac! I wonder how many hardened criminals order the veggie burger. No word about fries. No word about dinner. Bockwurst, pretzels and beer from the nearest bar?
cactuswatcher: (Default)
( Mar. 9th, 2017 08:01 am)
I know you're away from the Internet, but for when you get back:

Happy Birthday to [personal profile] shadowkat!
cactuswatcher: (Default)
( Mar. 2nd, 2017 05:57 pm)
My Internet provider has been having continuing problems with denial of service attacks. The worst of it seems to be during school hours, which is more than a little suspicious.

It took me till the first of March to get back down to my normal weight from the holidays this year. I just have little resistance against snacks. I'm going to try to get ten pounds lighter, but it's more a hope than an expectation.
cactuswatcher: (Default)
( Feb. 15th, 2017 07:38 pm)
I haven't spent much time reading lately. February is weed season in Phoenix, and it's best to deal with them now rather than later. Basically I work like the devil for a few weeks in Feb. and for most of the year the front yard looks pretty good without much attention. You can tell the difference between my gravel yard and the ones that get sprayed. (All, but two or three yards on the street have gone to gravel to save on water and maintenance.) The weeds still grow back, especially when the summer rains come, but not nearly as densely.

Anyway, I've basically gone through the front yard by hand, and hoed the weeds fairly thoroughly that would attract termites in the back yard. I use a mower and a weed eater to keep things under control in back for the spring and summer.

It was anything but easy getting through it, this year. I really had a hard time with stamina. The work itself seemed easy enough, I just couldn't work as long as I'd would have liked each day, and with this wettish winter, there was a lot of work to be done. In the evening I was mostly too tired and sore to do anything, but sit and do puzzles. It could have been worse. On Saturday afternoon, it felt like I had the flu; body and joint aches all over, headache and a cough. But I think it was just from exhaustion. Plus the dust that you always kick up here even with the ground dampish is full of bad stuff. ( I should have worn a breathing mask more.) Anyway I had dinner as usual on Saturday and felt better. I decided to take Sunday off just in case. I felt stronger on Monday and pretty much finished yesterday.
cactuswatcher: (Default)
( Feb. 5th, 2017 07:59 pm)
People frequently have a big to-do meal for the Super bowl. The fact that I don't care about the Super Bowl, its half-time show, or the commercials, shouldn't mean I can't have a Super Bowl appropriate dinner.Adventures or misadventures in cooking )
cactuswatcher: (Default)
( Jan. 29th, 2017 04:17 pm)
I seem to have been one of the few who really enjoyed the vampire TV series Moonlight from 2007-08. People then said it was a rehash of the Canadian series Forever Knight. I only saw the first season of Forever Knight. I thought that was interesting, but really lacked maturity having come before Buffy instead of after it. It was done well considering it seemingly had next to nothing as a budget.

Compared to Forever Knight, Moonlight had better actors, better sets, better costumes, better special effects, better dialogue, better background music, all of which were a matter of money. But it only lasted 16 episodes. It's certainly true that Moonlight borrowed heavily from both Forever Knight and Buffy. Heck one of the most romantic scenes in Moonlight used the same music as Buffy did for a memorable hot and heavy scene. But focus of each show was different.

Forever Knight was about trying to make amends (but not in a league with Angel. Being post-Buffy mattered). Buffy was as much about a young woman and her friends maturing as it was about killing vampires. Moonlight was essentially a love story.

At any rate I'm off the thing I wanted to mention. I watched the whole Moonlight series again this weekend and realized a very odd coincidence. The last episode of Moonlight had as a vampire, guest star Jonathan LaPaglia who 9 years before had his own show Seven Days about going back in time to deal with problems. Also in the same episode was Abigail Spencer, playing a human 'friend' of another one of the vampires. Ms Spencer 9 years later is in her own series, Timeless, about going back in time to deal with problems. It isn't just vampire shows that keep coming back from the dead.