Opposite of Midas Touch?

Midas turned everything to gold when he touched it. What's the opposite of that, when everything you touch breaks, lol? There must be some Greek/Roman god of machinery that I haven't paid a proper libatio to! Maybe Hephaestus/Vulcan?

The disposal stopped working (burning smell), so I went to Home Depot to see what my options. Brought up in the country, I have a real problem paying someone else to do work that I am able to do myself...so I guess you'll hear me complaining about spending time replacing the disposal.

And the faucet upstairs.

And the under cabinet light in the kitchen.

And the fluorescent light in the basement.

In other news, I got my first bike ride today SINCE OCTOBER! My body is in shock.

Here are a few pics from lately of me shaving...and of a watch battery I replaced.
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Craving warm weather

When it's cold, dark and rainy out, I take pictures inside...and they can get kinda odd because...well, why would I just take a picture of a lamp?

But I might take a picture of lamp out of focus with my hand holding a pendant. And I might take a blurry picture...on purpose.

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Can't believe how lazy I've been today and all weekend!

Today, I have only been out of the house to take trash to the alley! I've done some chores, watched the original War of the Worlds in English and then again in French, and taken some pics around the house...but really, really lazy!

Here are some pics from lately --
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Verão is hard for me to remember

I have a hard time remembering the word for Summer in Portuguese because it doesn’t correspond to words I know in Latin or French.
Latin — aestas
French — été

The French looks to me like its origin was the Latin word, which makes it easier for me to remember.

But Portuguese and Spanish are different:
Portuguese — verão
Spanish — verano

Neither of those look like the Latin, so I have a hard time with them. So, I've been trying to find the origin of these words to help me remember them.

The article below talks about how in earlier times the year was divided into 5 seasons — with Summer having 2 parts — "hot and rainy" and "hot and dry". The Portuguese word used for hot and dry was estio — which looks much more like the French and the Latin. And that word evidently is still used as a synonym for verão.

But I still have not found out the origin of verão.

Nos tempos primitivos, era comum dividir o ano em cinco estações, sendo o verão dividido em duas partes: o verão propriamente dito, de tempo quente e chuvoso (geralmente começava no fim da primavera), e o estio, de tempo quente e seco palavra da qual deriva o termo "estiagem". Atualmente usa-se o termo "estio" para um período de seca e também como um sinônimo para verão.



I tried making butter again...and using real cream, it actually worked this time! I'm kinda pleased because I like knowing how this stuff works!

This is the jar after I had shaken the cream for 20 minutes.
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Draining the leftover milk from the butter --
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After I washed the milk off the butter --
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After I salted the butter --
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And this is the leftover. I thought it would be buttermilk, but it tastes like insipid, warm milk.
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TEFL...Done, Done, and Done....

After completing an arduous 3 weekends of 9 - 6 Saturday and Sunday back in October...then there was a 40 hour online grammar component to complete: verb tenses, parts of speech, phrasal verbs, stative verbs, gerunds....

After October, I was exhausted and didn't want to look at it for a couple weeks...then there was Christmas shopping, Thanksgiving, my Tree Trimming, Christmas, New Years...and FINALLY I put more time to the online component.

I finished it tonight, so I am now TEFL certified -- 100 hours certified to teach English as a Foreign Language.

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There was an assignment during the in-class part of the training that really stuck with me. It was this excerpt from Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky --
’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

What parts of speech are brillig? What about slithy? And how about toves?

The point of the lesson was to teach you that when you know the rules of English grammar (you are a native speaker after all), you can with some probability tell what the parts of speech words are, even if you don't know the word.

Slithy is most definitely an adjective -- it modifies what is pretty certainly a noun: toves.

Brillig is almost probably an adjective. It comes after 'It was..', so it's either an adjective modifying 'it'...or maybe it's a noun. But if it's a noun, you probably would have used the or a before it....so I'll stick with an adjective.


And the big question....And what next?

What do I do with this?

Dutch Gap

First pic is the friend I went hiking with --
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Weekend has been a nice balance of seeing friends and getting stuff done around the house. Last night, I did the final holiday gift exchange with some friends --
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I got to their place way too early -- I do that sometimes -- so I walked around with the camera for a while. There was a garage with this zombie-esque head in the window --
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And a bike shop next door --
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Sunrise on Friday --
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After bringing in the last of the Christmas decorations, I did some oil and water macro photos --
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I squirted some gel food coloring in at one point -- this is before I stirred it up --
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Going on a short hike/walk with a friend tomorrow -- should be cold, but I like getting outside!

Messiah myths...Ghost Dance

I had been of the opinion that not all religions have or need messiah stories -- for example, what good would a messiah be in a religion like Hinduism, which is really just a long story of a cycle of birth and death? There seems to be no need for a messiah when the religion is about a cycle.

I also had been of the opinion that messiah stories were only part of religions and societies where the people were in bad situations in need of some sort of outside deus ex machina to come in and save them.

But as I am searching online (and I have no way to verify whether the stuff I'm seeing is accurate or not), it seems that messiah stories are more widespread than I thought.

For example, Buddhism seems to have the concept. Although I follow a Buddhist path, I don't pay much attention to the more 'religious' aspects of the teachings, and I had never exactly heard of Maitreya. And why would Buddhism need this story? I have no idea..

I wonder about the reasons the stories are there.
  • Maybe the messiah stories are just mimicry between religions (as in, that religion has the story, so we need a similar story)
  • Or maybe the myths exist because religions arise out of our common human ancestry (we all faced the same trials as a species), so it solves one of our basic human needs for hope in bad situations...
  • Or maybe it's related to our inability to really grok 'infinity', meaning a finite end to a story is more satisfying than a story without an ending.

Who knows...but this whole line of thought came about because it surprised me that American Indians had a messiah development too -- it seems to have happened late -- when they were in a bad situation, and also they were interacting with Christians (and probably absorbing Christian religious concepts).

Wovoka, a Paiute shaman (medicine man) who had participated in the Ghost Dance of 1870, became ill with a fever late in 1888 and experienced a vision that provided part of the basis for the new Ghost Dance. While cutting wood in the Pine Grove hills — during the solar eclipse of January 1, 1889 — he received a revelation.

Wovoka reportedly was taken into the spirit world, where he saw dead ancestors alive and well and saw all natives being taken up into the sky. The earth swallowed up all whites, and all dead Indians were resurrected to enjoy a world free of their conquerors. The natives, along with their ancestors, were put back upon the earth to live in peace.

He also claimed that he received instructions from God that by dancing the Round Dance continuously, the dream would become a reality and the participants would enjoy the new Earth.


The basis for the Ghost Dance, the circle dance, is a traditional ritual that has been used by many Native Americans since prehistoric times, but this new form was first practiced among the Nevada Paiute in 1889. The practice swept throughout much of the Western United States, quickly reaching areas of California and Oklahoma. As the Ghost Dance spread from its original source, Native American tribes synthesized selective aspects of the ritual with their own beliefs.

The Ghost Dance was associated with Wilson's (Wovoka's) prophecy of a peaceful end to white expansion


17 minute YouTube on Wounded Knee --



A local photo group has themed contests every month, with the theme for January being self portraits. I created a couple using the iPhone, the crystal ball, a mirror, and my Canon.

In the 2nd one, I look upset, but in reality, I was just concentrating on what I was doing. To get the selfies, I was actually looking through the crystal ball -- the iPhone was on the other side of the crystal ball from me...

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A friend made me some note cards using my oil on water pictures from a couple years ago...they are very nice, and very attractive cards!
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Here are a couple of recent pictures from the War Memorial. The first is sort of an abstract of the fire burning at the feet of the statue, Memory.
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Crystal Ball

I had seen some folks taking pictures through crystal balls (there's even a Flickr group devoted to it), so I bought one...and as a first pic, I walked out to my back yard and snapped a couple of pics, which I think are kind of interesting.
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The only thing is that I realized it's kind of a one trick pony -- meaning, all the pictures will kinda be the same, and I can see myself trying it out a few times and then not doing it anymore...

iPhone 6 WIFI issues

One thing I noticed lately was how fricken slow websites seem to be on the iPhone 6. I don't think that was always the case, so I feel like one of the latest updates gave me that lovely gift.

So I did some testing. And the result is not good for the iPhone.

Here are some speedtests with several devices. My internet connection at home is 50Mbps up and down.

1) iMac (HARDWIRED): almost 58 up and 63 down --
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2) Macbook Air (WIFI): 52 up and 63 down --
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3) iPhone 6 (WIFI): 22 up and 19 down...wah, wah... --
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Notice how much slower the iPhone was.

First, I turned my internet provider's modem on and off, and restarted the Apple Airport Extreme. No improvement.

Then, I set up a 5Ghz only network. No improvement.

Finally, I reset the network settings on the iPhone, and for a brief shining moment, the iPhone speed test registered 57 and 63.
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And then...and then....it fell into the pit again --
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Really sloppy work on Apple's part.


Phrasal verbs

I'm continuing the online hours I need to finish before I take the test to become certified to teach English as a second language.

It's funny -- as native English speakers we 'know' how to say a phrase, but we don't know 'why' -- or don't know the grammar behind the phrase.

There are some things in English that are just weird when you think about it. An example of a weird thing is what is known as a "phrasal verb". Phrasal verbs are verbs which pair with another word (like a preposition) to completely change the meaning of the verb.

Consider these phrasal verbs: make up, make out, make do, make for...

These are all phrasal verbs that mean something different and really have nothing to do with the main meaning of "make". Making out with someone is COMPLETELY different from making up with someone. Although perhaps the up could lead to the out in this case.

And how about making up the bed. Or making up time or a assignment. When you ask the teacher for permission to make up an assignment, perhaps you make up a lie about why you didn't complete the assignment on time!

It's pretty crazy! Think about it -- how is a non native English speaker supposed to make out what all those phrasal verbs mean?

It reminds me of when I first started studying French. I remember phrases in French that I originally had a hard time with because you can't translate them word for word -- you just have to know what they mean. I remember seeing "il y a" the first time and wondering how it could possibly mean "there is" or "there are". But now il y a trips off my tongue with no uncertainty at all.

So it is absolutely possible for non native English speakers to learn these phrasal verbs. But it can be hard! And I imagine hard to teach!


Just call me Suzy Homemaker...

I wanted to try making buttermilk and butter at home. So...let's say this was not a complete success, but I learned a lot.

All I did was to pour whole milk into a jar and shake it for 25 minutes. Essentially, it is a churning action to shake the jar.

First, I think it would have been better to use cream. Sadly, the only cream I have seen in stores is 'ultra-pasteurized', which does not seem to be the right thing to use. So, I was using whole milk. Also, the milk was homogenized which makes it more difficult.

I have seen an article online about boiling the milk to get the cream off it, collecting the cream and making butter from that. But I think I should be able to find some non "ultra" pasteurized cream before I go to that extent.

I started with the jar --
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After only 3 or 4 minutes of shaking, I noticed this dark color on the inside of the jar. At first, I was shocked that maybe I had not cleaned the jar well, but the color was spreading and moving around the jar as I shook.
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After 25 minutes of shaking I strained the solids off and got this. At first, I thought I had gotten whey -- but whey is curdle (think cottage cheese), and I had not curdled the milk.

What I got was very creamy -- maybe butter, or maybe congealed cream? I'm not sure.
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I do know that what I got could very well have been butter, based on how creamy and slick it felt/tasted.

I think when I try this again, it will be with cream.

Baking bread

I did something I hadn't done in a long time -- baked loaves of bread! I used to bake my own bread every week -- this was before biking, before photography, before exhausting jobs....

I have missed it!

I used a white bread recipe -- honey and buttermilk. It wasn't bad, although I should have cooked it a bit longer since it was still a bit chewy on the inside.

I enjoyed the kneading the punching down. Of course, it's an hours long process -- mixing it up, 1.5 hour 1st rise, 45 minute 2nd rise, and then 30 minutes baking -- so, you have to have the time to hang out at home while you wait.
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Trying my hand at something new...

I wanted to try some photographs of a nude model...

I learned a fair amount -- it's not easy helping to direct a model. And inside at night is murder for noise in photos. I have been eying an upgrade to my camera body which should help with noise at low light.

So, I wonder if I will do this again? I figure it will probably come up again, but I'm glad I got this bucket list item done!

Photos...Collapse )

Latest film roll developed

I got the latest film developed from that old film camera that a friend gave me. This was taken with ISO400. I'm pretty pleased with how some of these came out.

The first couple pictures are family at Christmas --
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These are my favorites of the others --
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And these aren't bad --
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Wow! Tired!

I have various routines, one of which is to take the Christmas tree down on New Year's Day.
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When a friend and I got the tree this year, we noticed that it was heavier than usual -- I think because it was so tightly and thickly branched.

Knowing that, and planning for when I would have to take the tree out by myself, I had stopped watering it a week ago with the idea that it would dry out and be a bit lighter. But it was still hard!

I lost control at one point...but the tree fell gracefully with no issues. And since there was no water in the stand, there was no mess.

The deed is done -- the tree is outside, and the living room is back to normal!



Celtic Knot

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January 2015


In order to be effective truth must penetrate like an arrow — and that is likely to hurt.

-Wei Wu Wei

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