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Outside on a Warm January Day!

Deege and I went out for a walk along the river yesterday.












In other news, J.K. Rowlings says there is a magic school in the Amazon in Brazil, where the students wear bright green clothes and specialize in Herbology and Magi-Zoology: Estudantes de Castelobruxo usam vestes de verde brilhante e são especialistas em Herbologia e Magizoologia...

http://www.papelpop.com/2016/01/j-k-rowling-revela-que-ha-uma-escola-de-magia-brasileira-no-mundo-de-harry-potter/

Free Coffee

A woman in front of me at the coffee shop the other day paid for me and 2 other people. She was a 'pay it forward' sort of woman, so I'm assuming she was paying for having been helped by someone else.

My story about this sort of thing was from several years ago when I was downtown walking from the parking lot to my office. A woman and man approached me asking to borrow some money, saying their car had broken down and they had $20 on them, but the tow truck wanted to charge $33.

Normally, I don't give money to people (unless they have a really good story, in which case I might give them some money for being such a good storyteller). In this case, I could see the car and the tow truck just on the street near the parking lot, so their story seemed real.

They needed $13. I reached in my pocket to find exactly $13 there, so I handed it over. The man asked how he could repay me. I told him to just give it to someone else when they needed it. When I said that, I heard the woman draw in a sob -- she teared up -- she was feeling very stressed and appreciated my kindness.

Anyways, when the woman in front of me paid for the coffee, it reminded me of that event years ago.

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My Biggest Regret....



My biggest regret?
Being tied to my parent's belief system for so long -- wishing I had come out / screwed a guy / fallen in love / told the world to fuck off earlier than I did.

But it's not like I'm walking around with regret -- I'm stronger for the life I've had...but I wish..I wish...I had allowed myself to fall in love with the first guy I had real feelings for :)



On a different note -- a "note to self" -- read the Portuguese before hitting the button!

I told Siri to 'remind me in 15 minutes' -- I just wanted the phone to ring a bell after 15 minutes on the bike (on the trainer) tonight. But I didn't read her reply -- and my Portuguese is not good enough to just automatically skim when she asked replied "Ok, just tell me about what I should remind you."

No reminder for me! I realized after 17 or so minutes...

Snow Recovery Day

The snow & sleet FINALLY stopped last night. Depending on where I measured, I got 12-16" of snow -- I didn't measure the deepest drifts, just places out in the yard. So, I'm calling it in the middle at 14".

I did some shoveling today, making paths for the mailwoman and on the street sidewalk, and I (hopefully) knocked the snow down enough that I can get out of my driveway tomorrow.

The snow was too deep to comfortably walk very far with the camera; the snow often being knee-deep in some drifts. But I did take a few pics around the house.

Out front last night --



Snow sliding off the eaves today --



Shadows that reminded me of Art Nouveau or Arts and Crafts designs --







Sunset tonight --

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An Upright Ape ... All Set for Extinction

The movie Ex Machina was pretty good -- certainly food for thought!

There were a couple of decent quotes from the movie. This one about Artificial Intelligence (AI) is spot on -- I firmly believe this will happen. One day the AIs are going to look back on us the same way we look at fossil skeletons on the plains of Africa: an upright ape living in dust with crude language and tools, all set for extinction.

This next quote is only partly attributed. It was said to have been said by Oppenheimer after the 1st atomic bomb test, which is true and certainly fit in with the point of this movie. But I wish they had mentioned that the Oppenheimer's quote is based on a line from the Bhagavad Gita.
Oppenheimer: Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.
The translation I have at home says: I am come as Time, the waster of the peoples.

It's a helluva quote to pair with the atomic bomb...and with Artificial Intelligence!





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Work at Home Day

Because we had plenty of notice about the big snowstorm coming, I decided to work 1/2 day from home today, and then just take the afternoon off.

Surprisingly, I've been a little down today.

Ya know...most of the time I like being single. Really I do -- I enjoy coming and going as I will, making my own plans...even singing La Marseillaise at the top of my lungs if I wanna, lol...

But sometimes...sometimes, I'm reminded how nice it is to be dating. Times like today for example. Making snow ice cream (which I totally did today) is more fun with someone. And so is playing in the snow (tomorrow's plan). And picking a movie to download -- tonight's activity.


I did take some time today to play with some multi-exposure photos. If you wonder why so many selfies sometimes -- that kinda goes with the comments above -- if I were dating, I'd probably be making him pose for some photos!







This one turned out odder than the others...and other than brightening the picture, bumping up the exposure, etc., I didn't manipulate it. It's not a photo I particularly like -- just interesting.



Photos

The snow a few days ago was just a preview of the big storm heading our way for tomorrow and the weekend!











This was a Solstice gift from friends...it has found a permanent home sitting near the back door in the kitchen --





Extra pic from the Rodin exhibit a couple weekends ago. I decided to use the Gaussian blur effect in Pixelmator --



I've noticed a couple pounds weight gain lately -- I can't imagine why...

Slavery in North America

One thing that I think is important for everyone to know is that there were free black people in North America early on after Europeans arrived. These free black people arrived, worked, owned land -- all the things that free people do. But eventually, all black people came to be considered slaves, and their inalienable(?) rights were taken away.

This article describes the changeover.

In 1700, a 70-year-old African American could look back half a century to 1650 and shiver, knowing that conditions had definitely changed for the worse.


The paragraph below makes a reference to Bacon's Rebellion in 1676 as a pivotal event. It scared white landholders because poor people of whatever race were working together. As I understand it, the way the landowners handled this was to give the franchise -- the vote -- to white poor men, but not black ones, as a way to drive a wedge between them.

All these large and gradual changes would still not have brought about the terrible transformation to race slavery, had it not been for several other crucial factors. One ingredient was the mounting fear among colonial leaders regarding signs of discontent and cooperation among poor and unfree colonists of all sorts. Europeans and Africans worked together, intermarried, ran away together, and shared common resentments toward the well-to-do. Both groups were involved in a series of bitter strikes and servant uprisings among tobacco pickers in Virginia, culminating in an open rebellion in 1676.


I read something once...that the way to enslave someone is to take away their access to the legal system so that they cannot seek redress for their grievances. If you can't sue someone who has damaged you, then that person can continue to damage you as much as they want -- event to the point of enslaving you and your descendants.

As if this momentous shift were not enough, it was accompanied by another. Those who wrote the colonial laws not only moved to make slavery racial; they also made it hereditary. Under English common law, a child inherited the legal status of the father. As Virginia officials put it in 1655: “By the Comon Law the Child of a Woman slave begot by a freeman ought to bee free.”

http://www.slate.com/articles/life/the_history_of_american_slavery/2015/05/why_america_adopted_race_based_slavery.html?wpsrc=kwfacebookdt&kwp_0=35545&kwp_4=277111kwp_1=195887

The biggest take away for me of this is that things don't just 'happen' -- they happen because people make them or let them happen. African-born people lost their freedom because of the profit motive, and because their rights were taken away purposefully and systematically.

Things like this happen over and over in history...and sometimes I look at the people running for office today and see some of this same history repeating.

Hanging Out

Deege and I hung out together yesterday -- lunch, antique/thrift stores, record shops, lemon shopping!

One of the things I had forgotten was how interesting and colorful album covers used to be!

A Tarty Night

I like reading David Leibovitz because he's such a Francophile...and me too. I think it's because enjoying life, enjoying food and drink, etc. is a big part of French life and culture. This is something Americans should learn!

Last night, I tried Leibovitz' recipe for a lemon tart -- making both the shell and the tart filling. What a messy recipe! Between juicing the lemons and grating some zest, cooking the custard, making the pastry dough, etc....it used a lot of dishes!

Sadly, I haven't actually tasted this yet because I popped it in the freezer for when P and I have another movie night.



The process of making it was kinda fun. I actually bought some non-stick tart pans with removable bottoms --



The shell was very easy -- I mean surprisingly so! I always thought of pastry dough as being a chore! This recipe involved putting the liquids in a hot oven in a Pyrex bowl until they were bubbling, then bringing the bowl out onto the counter (hot...hot...hot!) and dumping the flour into the bowl. The dough naturally made a ball when stirred.

After I spread the dough into the pan I poked holes, but I'm thinking I didn't do a good job of getting all the way through the dough, because while it was baking I checked on it, and it had puffed up like a blowfish! I stuck my hand/fork into the oven and poked some more holes in to release the steam!





After the shell was baked --



For the filling, I started with some organic lemons. By the way, I had bought 9 lemons because I didn't know how many I needed for the 1 cup of juice.

To maximize the juice, I let the lemons come to room temperature, and then (on advice of a friend) microwaved them for a few seconds (for my low-performing microwave, it was 30 seconds), rolled them under my hand on the counter and then used a reamer.

Doing that meant that I got 1 cup of lemon juice from 5.5 lemons.



Here's cooking and whisking the custard --



Here's pushing the custard through mesh. Those recipe instructions were very good advice because there was a fair amount of cooked egg whites that got caught by the mesh.



All in all, a fun process even if it was messy. And the proof will be in the eating later!

Lightning Navel

For several months, I had had trouble plugging the iPhone in -- I had to push hard, and if I moved the phone, sometimes the phone would stop charging. It was like the lightning connector wasn't holding the cable.

Finally last night, I couldn't get the phone to start charging at all! I thought I was gonna have to buy a phone outside of my normal cycle (normally around 2 or 2.25 years).

I had a friend who had had a similar problem and taken it into the Genius Bar at the Apple store where they had cleaned dirt out of the lightning connector hole.

I couldn't see any dirt, but someone online had used a pin to clean the hole. So that's what I did -- grabbed a safety pin and ran it around the inside of the hole. At first, nothing happened, but then what looked like a small piece of wood came out, and then lots of lint and fuzz! And now the phone charges fine.

Evidently, the lightning connector hole is sort of like your navel -- collecting lint!

River Bridge

My Facebook text with some of these photos --
"For my morning constitutional, I headed down to the river to take pictures of the railroad bridge, my solitude broken only by a lone kayaker and a bunch of kids who, based on their woohoos, had reached one of the milestones of their river pilgrimage."

I enjoyed being outside in the nice weather -- 60 degrees and partly sunny in January :)















Ce n'est q'un au revoir

Today as I was cleaning out some old stuff, I found some old cassette tapes! One of the tapes belonged to my 1st partner, Matt. Truth be told, I think it's music he would have played when he was cruising other guys for 'monkey sex' as he called it -- before he met me. Mostly electronic background stuff with a strong beat.

I only have 1 device in the house that will play tapes!

I also found a tape from an act in the 80s that used to perform here in town. It's all garbled, but as I searched for where that group is now, somehow (in the mysterious ways of the holy internet), I ended up listening to some versions of Auld Ang Syne.



French --


Thai --


Chinese --

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When Yoda Moonlights...

...as a Google Translator :)


"Wrong we classify"...


Google Translate is VERY helpful, but it is also not so great at all...but I use it A LOT!

This is a status update from UPS about a package that was delayed. I did not know the word dependências, so I copied the whole status to Google Translate, which is when I noticed the 'Yoda' wording.

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Facebook Nature Challenge

An old classmate marked me on Facebook to a challenge to post 7 days of nature photos. I chose 7, but in the process I went through a bunch of others.

Here are all the possible photos that I considered for the challenge (and I used 7 of them). I believe most have not been posted before, although a few are close to those that I did post.

At Maymont -


In New Mexico -


Iguaçu Falls -


On the Mist Trail / Yosemite -


Vernal Falls / Mist Trail / Yosemite -


Vernal Falls / Mist Trail / Yosemite -


Point Lobos -


Point Lobos -


Point Lobos -


Point Lobos -


Point Lobos -


Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville, NC -


Bryce Canyon / Utah -


Zion / Utah -


Lower Antelope Canyon / Navajo Land near Page AZ -


Lower Antelope Canyon / Navajo Land near Page AZ -


Stream in neighborhood park -

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Karmic-Dragonfly

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