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( 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?
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( 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!
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( 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.
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( 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.
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( 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 )
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( 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.
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( Jan. 20th, 2017 07:34 am)
I don't think I've ever watched an inaugural address live. What with school and work I mostly couldn't, then when I retired didn't want to. I think I tried with Jimmy Carter, but tuned in only in time to see him walking on his way from the speech to the White House. I wouldn't want DT to feel left out. So I won't watch today either. Might skip the news tonight for that matter.

Big controversies at inaugurations: Kennedy had a top hat, but broke long tradition by not wearing it. (Outgoing President Eisenhower wore his that day.) The good part of it was that it was largely the end of the top hat as a necessary part of formal wear for men. I remember my father setting out for a formal dinner one evening in the 1950s in a tux with tails and a top hat. The suit looked great on my dad; the hat looked silly.

Jimmy Carter was supposed to ride to the White House from the Capital building in a limo, but as mentioned above he walked with his wife. Kind of a last minute thing. The press didn't know it was going to happen, though I think they suspected he would. At his age DT will do well to stay out of the weather as much as possible, lest he follow the example of William Henry Harrison.
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( Jan. 11th, 2017 09:58 am)
Rasputin: Faith, Power and the Twilight of the Romanovs by Douglas Smith.

It's difficult to decide how to review this book. It's biography, but it spends a lot of space telling stories about Rasputin that, as the author assures us, are completely false. It's an important part of the Rasputin story. But isn't biography supposed to be more about the subject than about the fictitious stories about the subject? Maybe it could better be called social history?

Rasputin was not quite the person we learned about in high school. But there was enough of that scandalous person in him to cause all kinds of problems in the decade plus between the Russian revolution of 1905 and February Revolution in 1917.Facts and implications drawn from the book about Rasputin )

The book is very long and in some places very intense. It's full of early 20th century Russian newspaper stories about Rasputin that would have surely been judged as libelous in a country with a better legal system than pre-revolution Russia. There are so many of the stories that sometimes I got lost and confused over what Smith was trying to say was fact and what was nasty fiction. I think someone who hasn't had some experience with Russian history could get totally lost in the mass of Russian names in the book, which English speakers often find confusing anyway. It would have been a huge help to have a list of the main personages in the book listed with their government posts, and perhaps a short family tree to sort out all the Grand Dukes. Smith did attempt to refer to many of the extended royal family using their family nicknames, but without some list to refer to, that got to be yet another layer of confusion. I would say that the book is mostly for specialists, but it does serve as a warning of how 'public opinion' can get out of hand when dealing with an unpopular figure in very trying times.
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( Jan. 9th, 2017 06:48 pm)
1. What was the last thing you put in your mouth? Some apple dessert.

2. Where was your profile picture taken? In my library/front room.

3. Do you play Pokemon Go? No. Never watched Pokemon for that matter.

4. Name someone who made you laugh today? My neighbor from down the street, Kareem.

5. How late did you stay up last night? 10:15 pm which is late for me.

6. If you could move somewhere else, where would it be? The Colorado mountains in the summer, right back here in the winter!

7. Ever been kissed under fireworks? No, unless the light above the front door of the girl's dorm counts. ;o)

8. Who is your most observant friend? Dunno.

9. Do you believe ex's can be friends? Yes, my brother and his ex-wife got on quite well.

10. How do you feel about Dr. Pepper? When I was a kid it tasted like carbonated prune juice to me. Didn't hate it, but thought it was weird. I think it tastes better now.

11. Who took your profile picture? That great photographer, me. ;o)

12. Who was the last thing you took a picture of? I think it was the cat again.

13. Was yesterday better than today? In some ways yes, in some ways no.

14. Can you live a day without TV? Yes, I don't watch much anymore.

15. If you could have any career/job what would it be? Higher paid retirement would be nice.

16. Are you a bad influence? Only on my cat.
J P and Julia visited Harry Potter World and loved the butterbeer they had there. It's part of their nature to make it themselves back home.Video )

Thinking about Harry Potter too much is not healthy. I got to thinking about why Harry was casting Lumos under the covers at the start of Prisoner of Azkaban when he'd been sent a nasty warning about doing any magic outside school in the book before. Of course, by Order of the Phoenix the rule seemed to have morphed to doing magic in the presence of a Muggle. But aren't we all suspicious that Hermione was showing off in front of her proud parents every summer, and thus shouldn't we be puzzled why Harry would get in trouble for doing magic in front of his cousin, who knew he was a wizard, well before the weird kangaroo court at the Ministry of Magic?

What did Hermione's parents tell their friends when they asked where Hermione was attending school? St. Brutus' like Harry's Aunt and Uncle?

Who saved Harry from the Dementor by the shore? Yes, we were shown that Harry saved himself eventually. But trace the time line through the loop. The first time through Harry would have been a soulless husk if *some else* doesn't save him. Think about it. If some one else saves him then he can go back with Hermione and the next time through the loop he can save himself. *Not the first time.* So did Dumbledore save him, and think, "Oh this is a mess! Harry's a wuss and I still can't save Sirius. Why don't I get Hermione and Harry to go back in time and straighten it out for themselves? Harry thinks I was his dad anyway, and it will be great practice for them!'?
cactuswatcher: (Default)
( Jan. 5th, 2017 07:46 am)
I haven't finished the book on Rasputin, but I'm making progress.

Thought I'd mention a few things today about the last couple books I've been reading. I'm not sure if it's a trend or just a coincidence, but the latest few books on history I've been reading have been heavy on regurgitating research and very light on making the history understandable. Some of it is carrying academic arguments into popular works of history. Some of it is trying to squeeze every last bit of info into a book to make it less likely someone else can publish it first. Let's face it, getting a publishing house to publish books on paper these days is getting more and more difficult. So why publish mass market books on paper that are going to be hard for most book buyers to follow? I think it's a simple matter that for a while large printed books have been selling better than thin ones. People see more book for the money maybe, I don't know. I'm just not sure that some of the books I've been reading in the last year or so would have been published a decade or more ago in the form I read them.

Notes on the Russian royal titles )
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( Jan. 1st, 2017 06:24 am)
Have a happier New Year!
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( Dec. 31st, 2016 08:13 am)
Isn't it interesting that just as people decide to switch over here. LJ get's hit with a robot commenter. I wonder how many people automatically friended said bot then imported their friends list here, allowing whoever to follow them over here?
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( Dec. 30th, 2016 04:30 pm)
Moving to DW. :o( Hope to see you there (same handle).
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( Dec. 30th, 2016 04:23 pm)
It's been a long time since I posted anything here. But LJ no longer looks like a good choice; few friends still over there, servers moving out from under US law. I already deleted everything political I posted over there for fear of this happening. It's time to admit, that LJ's a lost cause.
After weeks of struggling with Romans vs the barbarians (I'm only about half finished with the book) I've broken it up with a biography of Rasputin. Much better writing, much better organization. I'll give a full report when I finish this second book.

I took a quick trip today to visit my sister, who is in assisted living in Tucson about 120 miles away. Glad to see it was a nice place. My sister is better off than most of the residents there, but it's clear it's the best place for her. She doesn't understand it really is her home for now, but thankfully she does seem to like the place.

Awful traffic on the way back, pretty much crawled all the way across Phoenix to get to my side of town. Why does rush hour start at 3:00 p.m. here? There was an accident on another highway that messed up traffic at that time leaving Phoenix for Tucson and the east. Going west there was nothing major, just too many cars. There is a bypass that they are starting to work on so everyone doesn't have to go through the heart of town. But we sure needed it today not five years from now when it might go into service.

ETA: I just heard that Debbie Reynolds has died the day after her daughter. So sad.
cactuswatcher: (Default)
( Dec. 27th, 2016 12:44 pm)
Goodnight, sweet Princess Leia. A rough but too short life.
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( Dec. 25th, 2016 06:50 am)
Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!
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( Dec. 23rd, 2016 11:06 am)
It's a little odd to be this wet and chilly here. The nighttime temperatures are actually higher than normal with all the cloud cover. I had about an inch of rain the night before last, certainly the most rain in one 24 hour period all year. Being so damp in the house I brought out a sweater for the first time in a few years. The week before and after Christmas is usually the coldest time of the year here. But this year it's just chilly. Travel in the western half of the country is going to be a giant mess tomorrow with snow or heavy rain expected everywhere.

The damp chill reminds me of Vancouver in June a few years ago. As I've told several people I originally wanted to go to graduate school in the Northwest: Seattle or possibly Vancouver. But I switched to studying to studying Russian and the schools in that area didn't turn out to be as attractive as ones farther east. I don't know how I would have done then with the weather. But now I'd have a hard time now dealing with it being damp much of the time.
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( Dec. 20th, 2016 01:46 pm)
Strange to say I received my first Christmas card of the season today. I usually am the first to send them out, and it seemed like I was really late this year waiting till the 12th. At any rate the card was from a friend from grad school, who reminded me in his letter of the Thanksgiving of 1972, which isn't a big story other than the two of us spent it together in Columbus, OH and that it is not unrelated to the fact I haven't had Domino's pizza in over 40 years. I presume most Domino's pizza aren't as greasy as the one we had that evening so long ago, but I haven't thought it wise to risk it. My friend was a professor of folklore for many years. Back in our grad school days he introduced me to such backwoods musical treasures as Gid Tanner and the Skillet Lickers (featuring the blind guitar player Riley Puckett). My friend learned to play clawhammer banjo when we lived near each other, and seeing how much fun he was having, I took up the mandolin. He loved grand opera as well, which I was less enthusiastic about despite his kind patience in explaining the nitty gritty of it to me.

I got my passenger side airbag replaced on recall last week. It was six months since the recall notice for them to get the replacement bag, and I hear plenty are waiting longer. My car model was far from the first one recalled because of airbags from that particular supplier. The dealer I bought the car from is long out of business, but there is a new one much closer. The various car dealerships are so close together in that area that I drove up to the wrong car brand's service department, at first. I know they had to disassemble the dashboard to replace the airbag so I was mostly expecting it. But it's still annoying when they ask you to come in first thing in the morning and then don't get back to you till rush hour in the afternoon.