Sunday, August 1, 2004
There are unsubstantiated reports that Michael Moore may be here for the Labor Day rally. Wow! I sure hope that's true. Speaking of Michael Moore. He was on the season premier of Bill Maher's "Real Time" show on HBO. They also had the former Prime Minister of Canada, Kim Campbell, and David Drier, Bush-Dick '04 Campaign Chairman as his panelists. Ralph Nader just happened to drop by, too. The discussion was lively, needless to say. The Republiduck showed his true feathers. At some point, he just left. These people really hate anything liberal or progressive. They are so fearful that someone who doesn't have any money or power will get some, and of course that means that someone who already has those things will have to relinquish some. It's truly pathetic.
Anyway, Bill and Michael got down on their knees and begged Nader to quit the race. I hope his ego isn't so large that he doesn't pay them heed. As much as the Repugnican NeoCon Reactionary Nazis hate everything liberal, I hate everything they stand for as well. I don't think I can survive four more years of a Fascist regime. I pray there are enough souls like me who will get out and vote and urge others to do the same.
I saw a pretty young girl at Wal-Mart yesterday looking at Rap CD's. She was wearing a tee shirt that said, "Friends don't let friends vote Democrat." How pathetic is that? A young person, content with the way things are to the extent that she opposes the party traditionally aligned with the needs and desires of they young. This country is split down the middle and bad times are coming.
Quote of the Day: "An act of Congress repugnant to the Constitution is not law. When the Constitution and an act of Congress are in conflict, the Constitution must govern the case to which both apply. Congress cannot confer on this court any original jurisdiction. The powers of the legislature are defined and limited, and those limits may not be mistaken or forgotten is the reason the Constitution was written." -- U.S. Supreme Court, Marbury vs. Madison
Anything in particular come to mind? Maybe, say, THE PATRIOT ACT!!! I doubt very seriously if any conservative types ever read this page, outside of the FBI that is, so it's unlikely I'll change any minds, but I hope sincerely that my efforts here will at least convince a few people to shake off their apathy and vote for Kerry, realizing what are the consequences if they don't.
Monday, August 2, 2004
I will agree that we have our democracy back and live in an open-minded country when we elect an atheist to a high public office. There was a news article in one of the news mailings I get every morning (unlike the Charleston Gazette mailing, which I get apparently whenever they feel like it) about John Kerry talking more openly about his personal connection to God. This bothers me somewhat that elected officials have to reach out to the religious nuts by openly proclaiming their beliefs. For one thing, I think religious convictions should be personal, and are not justifiable to anyone but ones self and to whatever higher power one believes in. Also, catering to a faction that holds belief to be more important than intelligence and competence in office is more than just a little scary.
I don't really know what I expect, however. This country was initially populated (unless you count the indigenous victims of Christian arrogance) by the Puritans. Contrary to the popularly-perpetuated story that they came to these shores to escape religious persecution in England, the Puritans were run out of England for trying to foist their beliefs on everyone else, for being royal pains-in-the-ass to the established clergy and the government. They were the former day equivalents of abortion protestors, breaking the law, being obnoxious to try to promote their views on an otherwise unwilling and possibly uninterested public. They were run out of England, and the Netherlands, and who knows where else, before, as a last resort, they came here. Their descendants are alive and well and in charge of the White House and Congress. We must do like Jefferson, Adams, Madison, and their ilk did in the late 18th century -- wrest control of our political institutions from them and return rationality to government.
Quote of the Day: "During almost fifteen centuries the legal establishment of Christianity has been upon trial. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity,; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution." -- James Madison
Any doubt in your mind that George W. Bush bought every academic accolade he has, from a high school diploma all the way to his MBA from Harvard should be erased by reading this bonus quote.
Bonus Quote of the Day: "They said, 'You know, this issue doesn't seem to resignate with the people.' And I said, you know something? Whether it resignates or not doesn't matter to me, because I stand for doing what's the right thing, and what the right thing is hearing the voices of people who work. " -- George W. Bush
My cable connection is not what it should be. The cable guy is supposed to be coming out today between twelve and two to have a look to see what the problem might be. Today I'm getting downstream speeds of around 700 Kbps, which is what I normally get. On Friday and at times over the weekend I was getting in the range of 80 Kbps to 200 Kbps. I'm supposed to be getting 3.2 Mbps, or over 4 times what I usually get. Why is it always me? What did I do to piss off the universe? This journal perhaps? My intractable views on freedom and necessity? My beard? My eye color?
I just finished adding a virus alert feature to my main page. It looks like this:
Be sure to check it out daily to find what the biggest threats from the juvenile miscreants who write these things are.
Speaking of juvenile miscreants. . . True Beginnings is having e-mail ads for their matchmaking service broadcast widely over the Internet. I've unsubscribed to their crap at least a dozen times and I still get the stuff. I've also called them twice and berated them for their advertising strategy. I suggest you do the same. If you don't know their phone number, it's 1-866-583-8783. Don't be kind. This sort of advertising is out of control and needs to be curtailed.
Speaking of advertising. . . There was an infomercial at K-Mart yesterday. We got a free paring knife. The speil we had to endure first was just like one of those long commercials on the cable stations -- a guy telling us how wonderful his knives are, and progressively adding more knives to the package until the purported value of the $21 package was well over $100. We got a paring knife. . . free, and one of those spouts you stick in the end of an orange to extract the juice. The knives were okay, but the paring knife wasn't really free -- it cost me 10 minutes of my life.
Tuesday, August 3, 2004
This morning in my daily e-mail from Capitol Hill Blue, I get an article that starts:
The increased terror alerts in New York, New Jersey and Washington are based more on President George W. Bush's political campaign needs than any actual threat and the information used to justify the alerts is three years old, intelligence pros complain.
The alerts, planned weeks ago, came right after the Democratic National Convention in Boston as a carefully-orchestrated attempt to play on Bush's strengths in the war against terrorism and blunt any momentum challenger John F. Kerry might have coming out of the convention.
Much of the "new" information cited as reasons for raising the alert dates back to 2001.
"The only real 'increased chatter' we're seeing lately is between the White House and the Bush campaign headquarters in Arlington," mutters one Homeland Security operative who spoke to Capitol Hill Blue only on condition of anonymity. "There's no greater threat today than there was six months ago."
The rest of the article is HERE. [ NOTE: The new York Times also reports this -- click here ]
It's really amazing what these people will do to hang on to power and privilege. I watched the season opener of Bill Maher's "Real Time" for the third time last night. The Bush-Cheney campaign chairman is a prime example of a neocon true believer. There's no political salvation for these people. I see them exactly as evil as they see me.
One thing Michael Moore said that didn't resonate well with me: he doesn't hate Bush. He feels sorry for him. Well, Michael, old pal, I hate him enough for both of us. A Frat-boy preppie president who's dull-witted yet holds degrees from two of the most prestigious Universities in this country, who has had to ask for nothing in his life but votes, who has had the front door key to power since his undergraduate days at Yale deserves no pity, merely contempt. He looks down his nose at everyone but "his base." This is a man (I use the term loosely) worthy of my hatred. Ralph Nader, on the other hand is an almost Greek-Classic example of someone to be pitied for his hubris and his fatal flaw. I don't think Ralph can grasp that what he's doing is wrong. For that I feel sorry for him. But there is an obstinacy within him that won't let him separate his self-esteem from his goals. Please, Ralph, listen to those two men on their knees begging you. Please understand what your recalcitrance has the potential for doing.
In the "and I thought I hated Bush" department: " A South Florida woman who died this week had an unusual last request. Instead of flower or contributions in her name to a charity, she asked those who loved her to try to make sure President George W. Bush is not re-elected."
For the whole story, click here.
I try not to go on and on about the upcoming election, I really do, but it's so important that I can't seem to help myself. I don't have extra money to donate to Kerry, nor do I have the time, energy,and mobility to go out and do a lot to help out, so I rant and rave here, doing my part as I see fit.
Wednesday, August 4, 2004
Long day. Official business, shopping, eating out. Long tiring day, and the cable guy is coming again (different one) tomorrow. I'm still not getting what I should be out of this connection. I get so tired of things not working right.
Quote of the Day: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." -- Albert Einstein
Tired, tired, tired.
Thursday, August 5, 2004
Today is Les Paul's birthday. Happy Birthday, Les. He's 89. Les & I have a lot in common. We both play guitar (admittedly, he plays a little better than I do), we both have bad left arms, and we both feel like we're in our 80's.
Quote of the Day: "I learned a long time ago that one note can go a long way if it's the right one, and it will probably whip the guy with 20 notes." -- Les Paul
Les Paul, in addition to creating the Gibson guitar named for him, also created techniques and inventions that advanced rock'n'roll, jazz, country and all other genres of music played with amplified instruments. In his home studio he pioneered a technique that allowed him to overdub multiple tracks, producing the distinctive sound of Les Paul and Mary Ford (his wife). Multitrack recording was originated by Les Paul. He also invented the eight-track tape recorder, the first solid-body guitar, the electric bass, the use of echo, delay, phase shift, and made important innovations in reverb and other areas of studio methodology. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.
Here's a good example of how careful you need to be when doing research on the Internet. While the daily almanac I get every morning in my e-mail states that today is Les Paul's birthday, another source I used to research his accomplishments says that it's June 9, 1915. The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, as cited by Bartley.com doesn't list a birthdate, but says he was born in 1916.
Someone called into the Reader's Comment line at the morning paper and was complaining about the anti-bush rally planned for Labor Day. They said that in 1996 no one had an anti-Clinton rally to try to get Dole elected. I immediately had four separate thoughts running through my head:
Dole was dull. No one really wanted to stage a rally for him.
Clinton was no bush. He was a president who had proven his intelligence and ability and was taking the country forward in spite of a recalcitrant Republican Congress. bush has shown us that he cares little for anything but his own kind, and folks, less that 1% of us fit that description. Had Clinton been able to run for a third term, bush would be back in Texas doing donuts in the dust with his pickup.
No, there was no rally against Clinton, unless you want to count the Starr chamber and the Congress trying to impeach him for lying about a blow job. Hey, haven't bush-boy and his busheviks lied repeatedly about more substantive matters? Haven't their lies and misdirections gotten people killed?
Clinton was an elected president. bush is not.
I just had to do another entry today to throw a couple things out there. First there are a couple web sites that every "bush must go" adherent should be aware of:
All Hat, No Cattle
And then there's this quote: "Third, this bill meets our commitment to America's Armed Forces by preparing them to meet the threats of tomorrow. Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we. We must never stop thinking about how best to defend our country when we all must always be forward-thinking." From W's speech before signing the defense appropriations act for 2005. See the whole speech at:
See, I knew it all along!
I have several friends in Texas. I'd love to count Molly Ivins among them, but the best I've done is shake her hand, get her autograph on the program, and talk to her for five minutes. I'd never have gotten that much if a friend of mine hadn't been her bodyguard while she was in town. but, I digress. . .
A dear, sweet friend from Texas sent me a URN. I clicked on it and nearly laughed my ass off. The movie files are quite large, so have patience. I recommend right clicking and picking "Save Target As." That way, too, you can show it to all your friends and family and anyone who shows up at your door. I've watched it three times since late this afternoon. I generally don't care for Will Farrell, but this is genius. Check out The Western White House. Thanks, Karen!
Bonus Quote of the Day: "It is useless to hold a person to anything he says while he's in love, drunk, or running for office. " -- Shirley MacLaine
Tonight is supposed to be relatively cool -- 53 degrees! I smell a cold pillow coming on. . .
Friday, August 6, 2004
I finally got the replacement basket handle for my espresso maker. It only took a day and cost less than $15.00 once I figured out where to get it. Neither the manufacturer or the store we got the machine from were much help. Anyway, a short while ago, I decided to make a latte. Well, the machine isn't working right now. Nuts!
Quote of the Day: "When you have nothing to say, say nothing. " -- Charles Caleb Colton (1780 - 1832)
I have nothing to say today except. . .
I can't seem to achieve full consciousness today. I've been groggy since I got up. I took a pain pill last night early and had a brandy at bedtime. I swear, it feels like the narcotic only took effect around 7:30 this morning.
Saturday, August 7, 2004
I think I got the espresso machine malfunction figured out. I ran a pot full of white vinegar and two of filtered water through it. It works fine now, I think. The problem was three-fold. One, it hadn't been used in a long time and needed cleaning desperately. Two, the filter was clogged because I'd ground the beans too finely. Three, I'd bought a bag of Starbucks Espresso Roast and put it in the freezer to keep it fresh until I got around to using it. Well, cold, humid air -- moisture. The coffee was too damp and clumped forming a plug in conjunction with the constricted steam path from *one and *two. I'll try to brew a cup of espresso later and see if it works right now.
Quote of the Day: "Any idiot can face a crisis. It is this day to day living thing that wears you out." -- Anton Chekov
I ate some butter pecan ice cream. Now I'll have to eat some crackers and drink a gallon of water to get all the bits out of my mouth. Nuts stick around. . . especially if you have diverticulitis.
Sunday, August 8, 2004
Quote of the Day: "I believe that every human has a finite number of heart-beats. I don't intend to waste any of mine running around doing exercises."" -- Neil Armstrong
Monday, August 9, 2004
Today is the anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki. Had I stayed married to my first wife, this would have been our 30th anniversary. It's my niece, Angela's birthday. Happy birthday Angie! It was also thirty years ago today that Nixon resigned. It's also Gillian Anderson's birthday, born the same year as my niece, and Whitney Houston's. It was 35 years ago today that the Manson family committed the Tate murders. Happy August ninth.
Quote of the Day: "The beginning of wisdom is found in doubting; by doubting we come to the question, and by seeking we may come upon the truth." -- Pierre Abelard
I suppose I could cull out all the quotes I've included here over the years and make a page of them. I could also do the same with trivia, recipes, art, photographs, and essays, cutting the untimely and outdated and making my page completely like a portal, but somehow I doubt it would be as interesting to as many people that way. With the mad proliferation of blogs on the Internet over the past few years, this project of mine has become much less unique, perhaps only set apart by its longevity. I don't like to be just another voice crying in the wilderness, perhaps because that's what I've been all my life. I would really like to achieve something substantial with this site, but I appear to have taken the road more traveled.
The city came by today and spray painted some of my weeds. I had plucked a handful of them to scan and put up here to show you, but Corel photopaint hangs up on me whenever I try to save a file. I think I must have a corrupted file. I guess the next little while I'll spend reinstalling the damn thing.
Well, the reinstall didn't work. It turns out that photoshop and GIMP don't work either. I tried a Windows system files repair, too. Nada. Fortunately, Corel photopaint 8 works okay. I don't know what the deal is with 11 or photoshop 7. pisses me off.
"Don't those things usually travel in pairs?"
Tuesday, August 10, 2004
I found a great little essay about human predictability on the usenet newsgroup alt.art -- I've requested permission to reprint it here, but have received no reply yet. If and when I do, I'll include it as a part of my daily entry. At any rate, today's quote is a short excerpt.
Quote of the Day: "I have never been more than a conduit, a conductive metal providing paths for energy to flow. An Artist can never, should never aspire to be more; to do so would be to dilute the purity of their own spirit." -- klunk
I'm starting to get a little creative juice back. I've been puttering in my studio today. I think part of why I can't sustain an effort is the fact that a lot of what I need to do in order to get things in shape to get my creative paradigm percolating has to be done on my feet, and ten minutes is about the limit of that. It's hard to sustain a decent level of insanity in just 10 minutes.
I met a new friend online through a very strange chain of events involving a literary mailing, a statue in Scotland, and a Google search. Her name is Liberty. Neat name. Neat person.
It's storming. I shouldn't even be online or have the computer plugged in.
My graphics program malfunction went away! I don't understand. I'm not complaining, mind you, but I don't get it.
If you're reading this, don't forget to tip the bartender (i.e., sign my guestbook or drop me an e-mail letting me know who you are and that you were here and loved it, hated it, were confused by it, want to set it on fire and watch it burn, whatever). Click the comments button to continue. . .
Thursday, August 12, 2004
Okay we have this tropical storm, Bonnie, and this hurricane. . . Charley going after Florida at the same time. Now please tell why in heaven's name didn't they name the 'C' storm 'Clyde?' It's a perfect opportunity for a little irony and humor. but nooooooo, they have a list made up in advance and they stick to it. No room for playfulness. That's what's wrong with the planet. Everyone is so serious -- all business. people, get a grip! Life is much too important to be taken seriously!
Quote of the Day: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. " -- Edmund Burke (1729-1797)
I woke to a moderate steady rain this morning that made me want to stay in bed. Great sleeping weather -- that lovely rain hitting the leaves and cool enough temperatures to require at least the sheet and duvet. but I didn't. I got up, went and picked up a manuscript and my prescription. Krispy Kreme Mini-crullers for breakfast. A steak hoagie left-over from last night's dinner for lunch. I'm going to make a concerted effort to accomplish something artistic today, even if it's just scrawling on a couple pages in my sketch book.
Hey! The tip jar is still empty!
Friday the 13th, August 2004
Scrawl in the sketchbook it was. Well, on some loose scraps of paper, anyway. Nothing I wanted to keep, but, hey, at least I tried. I sort of feel something percolating up deep down inside me (no, I didn't take a laxative). That's what it's like, a slow popping of little heat-filled bubbles of inspiration breaking from the hard surface of my being, heated by an underlying passion. Well, the passion isn't too noticeable these days, but I can sort of feel that it's still there. If only it would flare up to the point where the steam bubbles come to the surface and break open in a roiling frenzy of creation.
Those words, If Only. Shouldn't they be merged? Ifonly? One word to be avoided in our thinking. One word to be nailed to the barn door as an oddity to be looked at when we go to feed the cows, or get the tractor out. Nothing that should ever be seen in polite company, or in sophisticated surroundings. There would never be an Ifonly in New York or Chicago. It should be a relic consigned to the dustbin of magical thinking. It should be pounded into powder and spread across the sands of the Sahara, to mingle with the other phrases that have ill-served us in time of want and deprivation.
Quote of the Day:
"Seems I've got to have a change of scene
'Cause every night I have the strangest dreams
Imprisoned by the way it could have been
Left here on my own or so it seems
I've got to leave before I start to scream
but someone's locked the door and took the key
You feelin' alright? I'm not feelin' too good myself
Well, you feelin' alright? I'm not feelin' too good myself"
-- Steve Winwood (Traffic) "Feelin' All Right"
[ emphasis mine ]
Bonus Quote of the Day: "One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that ones work is terribly important. " -- Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)
I can only aspire that my work is terribly important. Does that mean I aspire to a nervous breakdown? Something to consider. . .
Saturday, August 15, 2004
Long day. We went to the flea market. I had a good time, other than my leg bothering me and almost scraping the bottom out of the van in their parking lot. I got a couple things I'd been wanting for some time: a pressure cooker and a stone to sharpen my kitchen knives. We also picked up a nice crystal flower vase, a couple new coffee mugs, a magic 8-ball, a pair of curtains (don't ask me; ask Ann), one of those thingies to reach up high and grab things, and, on yeah, three laser pointer key chains. Maybe the cat will behave herself now that she has her "red dot" back. I swear that feline is a junkie for the "red dot."
Quote of the Day: " Experience without theory is blind, but theory without experience is mere intellectual play. " -- Immanuel Kant
Speaking of Kant, one of the books that got left out of the boxes currently residing in the attic is my copy of his Fundamental principles of the Metaphysics of Ethics. I didn't leave it out intentionally, but since it is out, I think I'll grab pencil and hilighter and read it again. It's been over 25 years since I first read it. perhaps through the lens of those extra 25 years of life and experience I'll appreciate it differently. Currently I'm reading A Reporter's Life by Walter Cronkite. I never imagined him to be so witty and to have lived such a humorous life. I find myself laughing out loud nearly every page.
I'm sitting here with one of my favorite sippages: a buttery nipple. For those of you who don't know, it's a mixture of butterscotch schnapps and Bailey's Irish Cream. Delightful drink. Very relaxing to sip on as the ice melts.
I got a very disturbing e-mail earlier. It seems that our dear friend in Indiana with whom we stayed when we went up there and to Chicago three years ago was in an automobile accident and is in the hospital with a broken neck. Her son Tom sent the e-mail and included a phone number and her room number. Needless to say, the ink on the e-mail wasn't even dry before we were dialing the phone. Diane is getting out of the hospital before Thursday. She'll have several months of therapy and wearing an appliance to hold things in place until it heals, but she'll be okay. She said she didn't need anything much more than a Tylenol™ or a Darvocet for pain, but from the sound of her voice and her high spirits, I suspect there's a little extra in her IV. Get well soon, Diane. We'll be back to see you as soon as we can.
Monday, August 16, 2004
The recall election in Venezuela is becoming problematic. The elected government is, according to their president, "an alternative to Washington style capitalism." Good, that's what we need. The right-wing faction in the country arranged for the recall election and now that it's not going their way, they're staging demonstrations and whining about the outcome, very much like the brown shirts of the busheviks did in Florida in 2000. Rioting by the well-to-do. Imagine!
There is a really well-done essay on "What is Conservatism and What is Wrong with it?" on Phil Agre's site. While you're there, you should sign up for the RRE Newsletter. RRE has been sparce since the 2000 coup, but I think Phil is revving up for the 2004 election.
Quote of the Day: "Conservatism is incompatible with democracy, prosperity, and civilization in general. It is a destructive system of inequality and prejudice that is founded on deception and has no place in the modern world." -- Phil Agre
I see a lot of bush-Cheney '04 stickers on high-end SUV's. I know these people can't possibly think G.W.b. is in any way qualified to lead this country. They just think they're part of the elite who has placed this sock puppet in the oval office and want to perpetuate their privilege. It's wrong to create a right wing elite like this to run over us. This is supposed to be a democracy. It's not. It's an oligarchy, and that oligarchy is becoming entrenched to the point where it will take violence to remove it. please, let us vote these bastards out of office and change the electoral process and the attitudes of the American people so that such a thing never happens again. We're in serious shit, and only a small percentage of the electorate understands how deep the shit is or cares. I don't know what to do to help change it other than write here, lambaste there, rant and rave and stomp my feet.
Something has my computer clock screwy. I noticed it last night when I was looking at this page and noticed that the entry for Saturday had Sunday's date on it. I corrected it, I thought, and just now it was telling me that it was 9:30 pm today. Weird. This computer is dying, I think. I don't know what I'll do if it goes. I don't have the wherewithal to get a new one. This time, I'd like to get a leading edge machine instead of one on the back slope of the technology. Maybe then, by the time it gives up the spirit I won't be so far behind. I'm still running Windows 98. Everyone I know has long since gone to XP.
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
I've gradually been trying to replace the pots and pans in the kitchen with better quality, heavy bottom ones. So far, I've managed to get a 10-inch sauce pan out of the trash. I have no idea why someone would throw a good quality pan away like that. I also got a nice 3-quart pot with lid from the Martha Stewart collection, a copper-bottom 3-quart pot with steamer and lid, also from Martha, a Wolfgang puck small sauté pan, a T-Fal ceramic coated, quasi-crystal lined 2-quart pot with lid, a larger Exeter sauté pan, an Oneida 2-quart pot, an Exeter large stock pot with lid, and a huge soup pot with an 18-inch handle.
I'm still using two of the pots we already had, a small T-Fal teflon-coated aluminum pot good for heating soup and the like, and a blue enameled pot I've had for centuries. It's good for something quick that don't stick. I also retained my smallest T-Fal sauté pan. I use that for frying eggs exclusively. Eventually I want to replace it with a same-sized stainless or copper bottom skillet. A nice omelet pan would be nice too. I also want to get better quality pots to replace the two old ones I still use.
Oh, and my pressure cooker. I've been wanting one of those a long time. Now I want another one, or two -- one smaller than the one I have and one bigger.
Mostly I'm happy with what I have now. I think I have all the kitchen accessories and gadgets I'll ever need. One thing I would like to have is a three-egg poacher. I can find the single-egg models and ones that do up to six at a time, but none of the three-egg models. Ann & I both love poached eggs, but seldom eat them because of the lack of this crucial piece of equipment.
I've got two blenders, a Sunbeam and an Oster, a store-brand hand-held blender, a Kitchen-Aid food processor, wooden spoons, all the standard gourmet cooking utensils, and plenty of mixing bowls, etc. What I don't have is a decent range or a large enough kitchen. There are other things I'd like to have, too. I'd like to replace all the baking sheets with the insulated ones. I'd like to have a decent set of spring forms. I've been replacing utensils as they break or wear out with better ones, but I'd really like to get a matching set. better knives is a priority, too. I've got three chef's knives, but none of them have the heft and edge of a truly professional quality knife. I'm much closer to being comfortable with what I have in the kitchen than I've ever been, but there is still a way to go.
Quote of the Day: "It's fun to get together and have something good to eat at least once a day. That's what human life is all about - enjoying things." -- Julia Child
Maybe that's what this writing about kitchen gear is all about -- Julia Child. She recently died (August 13) at the age of 91. Julia was a trip. I used to love watching her show. It was the first place that I discovered it was all right (notice, please, two words as is proper, not alright, which The Who foisted on an unsuspecting public) to screw up in the kitchen and have the whole effort end up in the garbage. She was not the elitist some made her out to be. She was a down-to-earth, 6-foot-2 woman who started cooking at the age of 32 and turned a passion into a career and a career into a legend. Julia was no Martha Stewart, and I loved her all the more for it.
I should go shave and have a shower.
All clean now. I'm wearing the most ridiculous outfit today -- a Naples yellow tee-shirt (I've been looking for one for ages. . . unfortunately the only one I found that was large enough, was too big), blue jersey shorts that come down below my knees -- the kind that skateboarders wear, and flip-flops. Hey! I'm comfortable.
There's a new big Lots store going in just down the hill from us. We're in big trouble. . .
Wednesday, August 18, 2004
A tall blonde woman in a long black dress was outside a while ago taking pictures of the house with a small digital camera. She was driving a Jeep Cherokee with amber light bar on the roof. There was a logo on the side, the only part of which I could make out was "911." It had regular license tags and a large black number (J405) on the back. I get paranoid when people start taking pictures of where I live and I don't know what it's about.
Quote of the Day: "The end move in politics is always to pick up a gun. " -- Buckminster Fuller
A heckler got "escorted" out of the area by "staff" at W's pep rally in the Eastern panhandle yesterday. Kerry much endure heckling from Right Wing louts, but bush has them "escorted" away. Does this not bother anyone but me? I hear more and more stories like this. I also hear about the FBI coming to "discuss" people's politics and protest activities with them. We are under house arrest. Free speech is relegated to "free-speech zones" or places where it can't possibly make an impact. This isn't right. If the president (and I use the term loosely) doesn't see protestors everywhere he goes (and they're there) then it only feeds his sense of arrogance and complacency. If he rarely hears a heckler at one of his "gatherings" then he's sure to be assured that all is well in his mythic kingdom.
"I don't see no steenking silver lining."
I'm not feeling very well today. I had a short nap a while ago, but that didn't seem to help much. I need a nice home-cooked dinner, but I really hate to go shopping and go through all the hassle just for me. Ann's working this evening, and Sean, who knows? besides, this pathetic closet of a kitchen doesn't leave me any room to work. I haven't even cleaned the stove because I hate to be in there so much. I go in twice a day -- one to wash dishes, and two, to set the coffee pot up for the next morning. Some days I do both at the same time.
Thursday, August 19, 2004
My grandmother (maternal) is somewhere in her 90's. She's been in a nursing home for the past several years, due to Alzheimer's and arthritis. I'm told that of late she rarely opens her eyes. It's like she doesn't want to see any more of this world. I, too, find myself doing things with my eyes closed. I'll go a major portion of the day without my glasses on as well. It's almost like I don't want to see anything. The world is still beautiful and a marvel, but not to me. I wear bright colors, but I avert my eyes when confronted with them myself. perhaps my recent inclination to red and yellow shirts is to get people to avert or close their eyes and not look at me.
Quote of the Day: "Success is sweet and sweeter if long delayed and gotten through many struggles and defeats. " -- Amos Bronson Alcott
I'm not sure that it's sweeter through struggle and defeat. I've gotten to the point where success would be bittersweet. I'd enjoy it, but I'm of a mind and in physical condition to enjoy it less than if it had come earlier in my life. At one point I was angry that I couldn't seem to achieve any modicum of success at anything I tried. Then I went to being bitter about it. Now I'm just sad. Overwhelmingly sad.
I've had visitors to this web site from all over the globe. Already this month over 45 countries have been heard from. At one time or another I've heard from nearly every country in Europe, Asia, and South America, Australia, several countries in Africa, a number of island nations, and all the countries in North America. I've even had visitors from countries I'd never heard of (Faroe Islands). I guess this is an indication of success. So are the almost 24,000 hits I got last month and over 14,000 I have already this month. Funny thing is, without feedback (other than statistics), without reward for this achievement, it really doesn't feel like much. I know, what do I want? Egg in my beer?
I'm making my first Yankee pot roast in my new (old) pressure cooker. It should turn out nice and tender and tasty, and I've used a leaner cut of beef than would be possible to get an edible product by most other methods. In the meantime, here's something for you to chew on. How about a jobs creation comparison of the bush and Clinton administrations?
Friday, August 20, 2004
There are so many things I could say about the political and social situation in this country, but I think what it really all comes to in the end is what Senator (First Lady at the time) Clinton referred to as a "vast right-wing conspiracy." Of course the pundits and rhetors and wonks on the dexter side of things poo-pooed that and made light of her and tried to portray her as paranoid. Well, folks, the question is not if we're paranoid. It's if we're paranoid enough There really is a vast right-wing conspiracy, and what they're up to is establishing an oligarchical aristocracy in this country, while maintaining the lie that we live in a democracy. It started with the Rand Corporation and ends somewhere on the other side of the Heritage Foundation. What we need to do is to find out what all the organizations are who are in this conspiracy, who the principles are, and systematically go about debunking the irrational, elitist propaganda they spread via willing dupes like Joe Scarborough, Bill O'Rielly, Rush Limbaugh, and Dennis Miller, and find ways to bring them to justice. I think Robert Anton Wilson is the man for the job. bob? Are you listening?
Quote of the Day: "The artist doesn't have time to listen to the critics. The ones who want to be writers read the reviews, the ones who want to write don't have the time to read reviews." -- William Faulkner (1897 - 1962)
I keep hearing "veterans" say things like "John Kerry is a hero alright, but I just can't get that picture of him alongside of Jane Fonda out of my mind. I'm voting for bush. He's a good Christian man." Well, folks, it's been shown over and over that the picture in question was faked. That's the wonderful thing about propaganda -- people see the propaganda, but rarely the refutation of it.
In that spirit:
Saturday, August 21, 2004
I suppose this section of my web page qualifies as a "blog." When I started doing it the word was not even in my vocabulary. I think I'd seen maybe one other person doing something even remotely similar. Now, according to an article written by Harry Wessell of The Orlando Sentinel, which was reprinted in today's Charleston Saturday Gazette-Mail (a Frankenstein's monster of a newspaper if there ever was one -- maybe more like a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde), there are an estimated 2-1/2 million people doing blogs on the Internet. Whew! I'm sorry, I don't have time to keep up with them all.
The lead in that story states that blogs were "Virtually unknown five years ago. . ." See, that's when I started mine. I think my new online acquaintance, Liberty was doing hers before I started mine. I used to keep a daily blurb in a special area of the bulletin board I ran from 1986 through the early 90's. Guess that makes me a pioneer, huh? I'm not claiming to be an online pioneer. That distinction in this area (indeed in the whole country) goes to bob Vaughn and Scan Man. Their BBS's were long-running and among the first and best in the world.
Anyway,back to blogs. It states in the article that "Akin to online diaries, blogs are Web sites with frequent updates displayed in reverse chronological order. . ." Yeah, from what I've seen, most are in reverse order. I know that the two I'm familiar with, blogspot and LiveJournal are. Also, my pal Liberty maintains hers in reverse order. If you hadn't noticed, this enterprise is in natural order, with the link from the front page taking you directly to the current entry. I'd thought about doing it similar to what Liberty does, with a calendar, but decided against putting more complexity into such a simple thing as my constant blather. Never once, however, did I consider putting the entries in reverse order. I suppose the mass sites and the blogging software like "Movable Type" and "Word press," running from databases, it was probably simpler to do it in reverse order.
I still think there's something awkward about this. If someone comes into a blog late and wants to catch up, they would probably want to read the entries in chronological order, not reverse order. posting and archiving them in reverse order makes reading them in sequence annoying to say the least. I'm tempted to create a blog on several of the mass sites and to look at some of the software to see if a more natural order approach is possible.
Quote of the Day: "Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius." -- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
The other day I heard a Dream Theater tune on the radio. That's about as rare as hen's teeth. I think they're a group who should be getting more airplay, especially in this area. They are currently on tour supporting a new CD. They are opening for Yes in most venues, although they are the main act in several of the dates. The band started in 1986 when The guitarist (John Petrucci), the bassist (John Myung), and the Drummer (Mike Portnoy) were attending Berklee College of Music in boston decided to form a band. The result is nothing short of amazing. If you've never heard Dream Theater, you really owe it to yourself to check them out. I have two of their CD's and would love to collect the all, but as you can see from their web site, the list is long and certain to grow.
The article in the paper and my earlier entry about it and about blogs in general got me curious. I went to LiveJournal and blogSpot and started looking at random blogs. OMG, the so-called blogsphere is vast and comes in a whole lot more flavors than Baskin-Robbins trademark 31. It's truly amazing. A lot of blogs are teenage girls with heads full of air and a lot of time on their hands. Another rather substantial segment is soldiers in Iraq and other places. Then there's the "blogs for bush" crew. I'd just as soon not go into that particular dungeon.
It seems that, once again, I was in on the leading edge of something only to get left behind in the stampede that came later. Now there's a whole literature and scholarship of blogs. If you have the time, it makes for interesting reading. Here's a blog of white papers about (among other things) blogs.
Five years ago I was among probably a few thousand at most, perhaps even as few as several hundred people doing this "blog" thing. Now I'm just one in 2-1/2 million, begging for an audience and trying to do something that has at least some societal value and something that gives me some manner of satisfaction. It's like anything else, I suppose. It's what you make it and how well you advertise.
Sunday, August 22, 2004
It might not be exactly a well-known fact, but I create the files for this web page almost exclusively using NoteTab pro. I was one of the beta Testers on a previous version of this wonderful piece of software. I use the pro version, but I could probably just as easily use the Standard or Light version. They all use what Eric Fookes (NoteTab's author) calls "clip-books" and "clip-bars" to allow the user to make macros and customized commands. It's much more than a replacement for Notepad, which it does supplant admirably. It's also a very capable programmer's editor and much, much more. I highly recommend it to anyone who does much work with text files, HTML, scripting, or programming. The web site has a plethora of clip-books and other useful tools. You can also write your own, and you can even use PERL and Gawk interpreters, or use NoteTab's own macro-building language. It also supports some third-party tools like TopStyle and CSE Validator. It has spell check, text statistics and a virtual cornucopia of tools to make any text manipulation task much easier,including the ability to use regular expressions in some of the search and other functions. Notepad, eat your heart out!</testimonial>
Quote of the Day: "Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right, or doing it better." -- John Updike
I've been looking at the past five years of this project. Man, that's a lot of writing, drawing, painting, making collages, and taking pictures. How many books would it fill? I don't have the time or the inclination to count all the words I've written, so I did a random sampling of 10 of the months out of the 60 or so I've been doing this. It seems to average out to about 5,000 words a month. That, times 60 comes out to approximately 300,000 words. That would fill a large book, even without the 1,500 or so pictures that are to be found on this site. Now some of the text, granted is by a few other people, as are some of the graphics, but the greater bulk of it is my doing. Gee, I didn't know I had it in me.
So far this month there have been over 17,000 hits on this site. A lot of them are repeat viewers, too. I think what happens is that someone searches for something on one of the many search engines and comes across something on my site, likes what they see and keeps coming back to see what else I'm up to. The greatest number of hits are direct requests, like someone types in the address in their browser or clicks on a favorite or bookmark. The search engines make up the next largest block, and links from other sites comprise the rest. Rarely do any of the links from other sites make the top 30. Some of the things people have been searching for and found this site are:
black and white contrast
Seems people are always looking for naked women. . .
Monday, August 23, 2004
Last night we went to one of our favorite places to eat -- The Southern Kitchen. It's one of the few restaurants in the area that is still open 24 hours. They always have a good variety of menu items, plus a daily special board in the entrance. Last nights not-on-the-menu specials were grilled prime rib, filet mignon, and some chicken dish -- I don't recall exactly what. One of the big reasons I go there is they're one of the very few places in the entire area to serve scallops, and only occasionally at that. I was disappointed to not see scallops on the special board. Oh well, I thought, there's plenty else to choose from. Well, when it came time to order, I asked the server if they perchance had any scallops they could fix me. The answer was a definite yes! Heavenly. I love scallops, probably more than any other kind of seafood or meat.
The Southern Kitchen has a new employee. I don't know her name, as the people don't wear name tags like in the chains and fast food joints. She's Middle Eastern, with shiny black, wavy hair, a deep olive complexion, a full, beautiful face, slim shapely body and sparking brown eyes. She is absolutely gorgeous. Were she 5-foot-10 instead of 5-foot-three, she could be a model in any major market. There aren't too many Middle Eastern women I'd consider pretty, much less beautiful, but this gal is nothing short of spectacular.
My first wife was from an emigrant family. They were Lebanese Muslim. There are a sizable number of Lebanese and Syrian families in this area, but most are Syrian Orthodox Christian. One of the most beautiful churches in the city is St. George's. If you're a long-time reader of these pages of rambling blather, or if you've "caught up" by digging through all the archives, you've probably seen several shots of the domes of the church. My favorite photo (so far) of the building is this one:
When my ex's grandfather died I got to have the unique experience of attending a Muslim funeral, with the Imam coming in from somewhere in Ohio. At the time there was no Mosque in this area. Now there is one, but it's largely populated by African-American converts to Islam, including my old friend Ishmael (Rick). The funeral was as elaborate and emotional as any I've ever seen. The wake afterward was at the finest restaurant in town. It's was a stunning affair.
After I met my first wife I was introduced to Middle Eastern food. I really can't say I like very much of it. It just doesn't seem "familiar" to my taste buds. I've grown to love Chinese, Mexican, Japanese, Thai, Indian, and German dishes over the years, but Middle Eastern cuisine has not made my list. I've looked into other world cuisine and I think that one I'd really like is Afghan. unfortunately the closest restaurant I know of that serves that kind of food is in Baltimore, and that's a little more than a day trip.
Okay, this is getting a little too autobiographical and more like an actual "blog" so let me cease and desist before I end up telling you the story of my divorce which ended with me in the middle of Virginia Street in front of the courthouse, with a portable typewriter under my arm, on which I'd typed the final decree sitting in Shanklin park, yelling at the top of my lungs, "I divorce thee! I divorce thee! I divorce thee!"
Quote of the Day: "Don't tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results. "
-- George Bernard Shaw
The new overtime rules concocted by the bush-Rove administration go into effect today. Let's hope the next paychecks that get issued under the new rules don't cause massive rioting in the streets. Isn't today the start of the Fascist National Convention (GOP), too? bad combination. Evil portends for the world.
Today, the united States of America meets all 14 Criteria for being a Fascist state. Don't ya think it's about time we got rid of these people in power and at least put John Kerry in the White House and more democrats in Congress until we can come up with something better?
I mentioned yesterday that I figured I write approximately 5,000 words a month here. Well, I seem to have a case of "blabber mouth" this month. So far, counting this entry I've written over 12,000 words.
Big mouth Continued
I really wish that Ralph Nader had a ghost of a chance to win the presidency, but he doesn't. I fear that, like 2000, if he continues his misguided attempt at the White House, he'll be the shoe spoon that eases Bush back into office. please, if you're even considering voting for Nader, DON'T. If you don't plan on voting, please change your mind and vote for Kerry. It's THAT important. If you're not registered, register, and vote. We've let this country slip away from us, and if we don't shake ourselves out of apathy and disgust and do every little bit we can to retrieve it, we'll soon be marching in lock step or wearing yellow patches on our clothing to distinguish us from the real Americans.
Here's more about Fascism in America Today. Here's an Acrobat document from The Couples Company about government structures that may be useful as well. It includes the above linked Fascism in America essay.
I stand corrected. We have another week before the Rethuglican Convention. That should give all the people short their overtime pay time to get to New York.
Tuesday, August 24, 2004
I opened the paper this morning to find a headline proclaiming my doctor has pled guilty to income tax evasion and wire fraud. I guess now I'll have to break in a new doctor. I hate breaking in new doctors. It's so hard to convince them to follow the course of care and treatment that I want instead of some pre-plotted, generalized, mass-marketed regimen. Here we go again!
Quote of the Day: "Everybody believes in something and everybody, by virtue of the fact that they believe in something, use that something to support their own existence. " -- Frank Zappa (1940 - 1993)
Frank Zappa was a very smart man. However, contrary to rumor and popular belief, Frank did not hold advanced degrees in music from prestigious institutions. In an interview with Hustler magazine, he said, "I don't have any degrees at all. I'm fortunate to have a high school diploma." We miss you, Frank.
The sun is shining directly through my newly-installed hummingbird feeder. It's shaped like a giant strawberry. I've had a solitary Hummer coming around in early evening for the past three or four days. It's probably the same one who was around occasionally before I installed the feeder. I love to watch those little bird with their sleek iridescent bodies and long needle-like beaks. The little guy who comes to visit has taken advantage of the little perches below the faux-flower nozzles so I've got to see one of the little helicopters at rest, a rare treat.
Wednesday, August 25, 2004
Modern marketing techniques, especially the ones on the Internet really get me to the boiling point in a hurry. To start with, there are pop-ups, which I've mainly managed to block. There there is SPAM, which I can manage with some work, although work should not be required to keep that crap out of my inbox. Then there are banners and web page advertisements, which I rarely see anymore now that I have an extensive Hosts file re-directing the dubious bastards that use such ads to localhost and therefore 404-page-not-found obscurity. If you want to do the same, send me an e-mail and I'll zip the file I use off to you with instructions.
One form of advertising I find marginally acceptable is the text ad inside a newsletter. I get several of those a day (Those quotes of the day had to come from somewhere). Now, some of the newer ones are requiring a sign-up "procedure" in order to start the subscription. They ask for information like e-mail address (granted you have to give them that), mailing address, phone number, etc. Once you fill out the form with the *required information, they take you on a merry jaunt, trying to sell you anything they can come up with. Anything to separate you from your cash. I'll be damned! One advertising company is really bad about crap like this: Ebates. They'll even have you download and install their spyware on your machine if you're the slightest bit inattentive.
What happened to advertising? Wasn't it, at one time, a pitch for a product, a favorable description to get you to desire what they had for sale? Well, now it seems to be entirely composed of subterfuge. Anything they can do to brow-beat you into buying something; anything they can do to trick you into buying something; anything they can do to overwhelm you with offers until you buy something to make them stop. It's wrong. It's unethical. It's immoral. It should be stopped. unfortunately, it'll never stop as long as the Congress keeps inching us back to the age of robber barons where the rich can do as they will with impunity and any effort to stop them is met with violence either by the corporations themselves, or the government on the corporations' behalf.
Even a lot of the television advertising ("HI, BILLY MAYS HERE. . .") has become a hook to drag the unsuspecting into a labyrinth of pitches so dense and complex that the only way to extricate yourself is to buy a lot more than you really want or to not buy what you want and hang up the phone in disgust.
There's a rubber-bristled broom with a squeegee on the back I've seen on television for several months now. "And if you order in the next ten minutes, you get two brooms for the low, low price of only $12.95 plus $6.95 shipping and handling." Well, I finally called it about 10:30 one night. The voice message said, "This will just take a few minutes." I followed the instructions, gave them my name, address, phone, and credit information. Turns out the $6.95 shipping is EACH. That makes the shipping more than the price of the product. "Allow 3 to 7 weeks for delivery" What? They have to make them as the orders come in? And how in the world can non-express shipping of something that weighs under two pounds cost $6.95? And what causes a second item shipped in the same box at the same time cost twice as much. That doesn't make sense. They're using the S&H charges as a profit line, and folks, that is plain dishonest.
Anyway. Once I'd ordered the broom (plus free broom for only $6.95 more) -- I really wanted these brooms -- I was "given the opportunity" to upgrade my order to the new "improved" nylon bristle model. I said no. "Well, then, how about upgrading one of them to the new model. No. In that case, would you be interested in. . . No! Well, how about? (mind you, this is all taking place inside a voice mail maze with no discernible exit other than going through all the multitude of "offers" one-by-one) NO! "As a first-time customer, we'd like to offer you the opportunity. . ." No! No! No! I just want my freaking brooms! Well, along about 11:30 I was still wending my way through the miserable trail of one-thing-after-another, trying to wear down my resistance, until I'd bought what they consider what my finances will bear. I had to go pick my son up at work at midnight. Eventually the only choice I had was to hang up and leave. I don't know if I'll get my brooms or not, but it's been at least six weeks and I've seen nothing. I should probably look at my credit card statement and see if they charged it, and for how much. Companies that do things like this should be shut down and their officers and stockholders taught a serious lesson about respect and courtesy.
Quote of the Day: "Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power. If you realize that you have enough, you are truly rich. " -- Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
I've been in a pumped-up, angry, not-put-up-with-anything mood the past two days. I get so tired of seeing our society turned into one huge pissing contest. It disheartens and angers me that corporate greed is seen as something to aspire to instead of the evil cancer that it is. I get angry when I see people flagrantly disregarding traffic laws and driving practices that are in place to assure that there are fewer accidents and that fairness and reason reign on the highways.
People drive like they're the only ones on the road. Turn signals seem to be something to decorate the steering column. Turn signals are to signal your intention to other drivers so that they may adjust their navigational strategy to fit the circumstances, not as an afterthought or a nuisance to your getting where you want to go. Some people never use turn signals, and are either proud of it or, no matter how forcefully and lucidly explained to them, don't understand why it's so important. Folks, it's not a decorative add-on to your driving skills, nor is it a quaint custom to be observed if you feel like it. It's an essential part of driving and it's a law. Surely you've heard of those? West Virginia code states that turn signals should be used at least 200 feet before making your turn. A lot of people, even if they do use their signals, do so either 5 feet before they turn or after they have begun to turn. What the hell is the point in that?
I realize that people are going to drive above the speed limit, but what needs to be curtailed is "aggressive" driving -- driving like, well, like some people do business -- pushy, selfish, uncaring, self-absorbed. People do things like jumping on a green light as soon as it turns and making a left turn. It matters not whether there's only one car opposite wanting to go straight or turn right. They just have to beat you to the punch. You know what? That's called "failure to yield right-of-way" and is a punishable offense. Another thing that is not technically illegal, but isn't fair is people in a line of traffic following a slow vehicle: at first opportunity many times, the people in the back of the line are the first to jump into the other lane to pass, without giving the people immediately behind the chance to go first. People seem to see driving as a contest. It's been shown over and over that cutting people off, cheating on yellow-to-red, and other aggressive techniques really only save a few seconds on driving time. The unfortunate thing is they also raise the stress levels of anyone around someone driving like this, and are a major cause of road rage. And if you get pissed enough to say something to one of these people driving like this, they never, ever admit that what they're doing is anything other than perfectly okay. I even had a state police officer threaten me with a pistol for getting out of my car and telling him he was doing something illegal, ill-considered, and rude. Hey, as long as he has that on his lapel, who am I to argue?
Thursday, August 26, 2004
I had written a fairly long entry for today about an hour ago, and just as I clicked on the "save" button, the damn machine locked up irrevocably. I lost the whole thing. I'll try to recover from this and piece together in my mind what I'd said and try it again later. How frustrating! At least I remember the quote I picked. Maybe somehow that will cause the neurons I used writing it originally to fire again. . .
Quote of the Day: "Don't forget until too late that the business of life is not business, but living. " -- Bertie Charles Forbes, publisher
Nope, didn't help much. We now return you to "Short Attention Span Theater," already concluded. . .
Friday, August 27, 2004
You'd think today was Friday the 13th the way things are going so far. I started up the computer and the BIOS was wiped out. I sure hope it was a fluke. I'd hate to have to set up the BIOS every time I turn the machine on. It could also be an indication of something more serious too, so if I don't make an entry here for more than a couple days, it's probably because the machine died and it's hard to tell how long it will be before I get it fixed or get a new one. Last time it was nearly five months. If it goes that long again, I'll just close it down (let it lapse, actually -- it will remain up until the hosting money runs out next July).
I spent a large part of yesterday evening converting this file to be XHTML 1.0 transitional compliant. I even converted the text to UTF-16. Well, when I loaded the file into my text editor this morning to make this entry, it wouldn't let me make any changes. Apparently my text editor can read but not write UTF-16 text format. Joy!
List of the Day:
The 7 modern sins:
- politics without principles,
- pleasures without conscience,
- wealth without work,
- knowledge without character,
- industry without morality,
- science without humanity,
- worship without sacrifice.
-- Canon Frederic Donaldson
My next door neighbor died Wednesday. His name was Jimmy Walker. He was, among other things, a musician, a parrot breeder, and a nice guy. He had liver cancer. I only met him once. He came over the day before he was to go to Duke university to be evaluated for a liver transplant. He told me a little about himself and wished me well. It's a shame when you never get to know someone, regardless of the reason. It's especially sad when they die before you really get to have much interaction with them. I hope you play music and bring joy to those around you wherever you may be, Jimmy. I hope your pain is past and your good nature brings you the reward you believe in and seek.
<!--- To make this compliant with XML and XHTML --->
I reverted to UTF-8 text encoding until I can come up with a reasonable way to do the 16-bit. I ran the XHTML validator against this page and caught all the errors except the wierdness that Lycos does at the bottom for the "View Comments" link. I have come to the conclusion that it is definitely simpler to write XHTML compliant code to start with rather than try to convert it from something living somewhere between HTML 3.2 and 4.0 -- with or without stylesheets. HTML 3.2 was a bastard concoction to begin with. Then, as I started to use stylesheets more and tried to come up to the 4.0 specification, things got rather muddled. I may go back and convert all the other pages one-by-one in order to keep them from going obsolete, what with deprecated tags and all.
I've been looking at XML and how it can interact with XHTML and other web building tools. It looks to be a fairly useful specification. I'm not sure I have much use for it here with what I do, but I do want to learn all I can about it anyway. In addition to recoding this page, I cleaned up my clipbook (macro library in NoteTab Pro) so that all the macros conform to the HTML 4.0 and XHTML 1.0 specifications.
Saturday, August 28, 2004
Some observations from this morning's newspaper headlines:
A bug bit or stung me on the back this morning as I lie sleeping. It was a sharp pain, woke me right up. I killed the bug, but in the dim light in the bedroom I couldn't tell what it was. It wasn't the normal kind of bug you'd associate with stinging or biting. I wonder what it is? You think I'll gain superpowers from the combination of the bite (sting) and the morning sun coming through the curtains? Will I become "Bugger!"?
Okay, enough silliness for today.
Quote of the Day: "Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I ask, 'Where have I gone wrong?' Then a voice says to me, 'This is going to take more than one night.' " -- Charlie Brown (Peanuts)
I'm still struggling with XHTML and its cousins. I've been using CSS stylesheets for a while now, so you'd think this would come easier to me. As one of my fellow Beta testers of NoteTab said in a recent e-mail, the standards and logic of the way things are done in markup language, scripting, and programming code are arbitrary and illogical as language itself, and the people who promulgate this sludge need to get out more.
I've got this page completely XHTML 1.0 Final valid. I also have it CSS compliant, except for some Internet Explorer specific tags that work, but show up as errors on the Validation Suite.
I looked at bringing my front page up to specifications,but some of the code I use for the "features" isn't compliant and would not pass muster. There are standards, but no one uses them. I guess it's a lot of people used to using a loosely-typed language writing the same old sloppy code they have for years. A tighter standard really makes things easier across the board once you learn the rules and structure.
My only complaint about the new standards is that they are deprecating tags that make perfect sense in favor of ones that are longer, more complex, and easier to enter improperly. A couple examples of this are the <b> for bold text and <i> for italics. It's simple, elegant and very understandable to use these tags at the beginning of the text affected, and the closing tag at the end. What the "sages" at W3C and the centers of coding genius want to do is replace these simple, elegant and easy-to-remember tags with styles that require either a <span>, <div> or some other sectioning tag plus a "style" attribute (i.e., <span style="font-weight: bold"> to make text bold and <div style="font-style: italic"> for italic text -- the "span" and "div" being arbitrary in this example). To have a paragraph of bold italic text, instead of using the simple tags <p><b><i>text text text</i></b></p>, you'd have to use <p style="font-weight: bold; font-style: italic">text text text</p> Which makes more sense to you?
Oh, and another thing. Say you want underlined text -- you'd just do a tag that said: <div style="font-style: underline">, right? Wrong! It would have to read: <div style="text-decoration: underline">text text text</div>!! All that to replace <u>text text text</u>. And here we have three different attributes to describe essentially a variation in the style of a font. I'm sorry, but that is needless complexity.
While it's true that using cascading stylesheets in conjunction with XHTML does make for a more consistent, easier to maintain product, it's also true that simple body-text formatting tags are a lot simpler to use, remember, and write. There is something to be said for simplicity and elegance, although since the advent of Windows and the Mac OS, neither have been the case in coding. Program and script code have become bloated, both because of slovenliness on the part of programmers, and because of the coding languages themselves. Instead of making script authoring and program writing more accessible to more people, it's become an arcane art akin more to the Kabbalah than to English, German, or French.
See, the way the "smart people" tell you to handle the bulky tags with style attributes like the ones I mentioned about is to do it like on my front page: using structures like this:
font: bold 32px Verdana, sans-serif;
which define tags to be referenced later on in the code like:
<p id="p5"><a href="http://webpages.charter.net/ideas2"
<P id="p6"><a href="../info/"
Even an experienced writer of HTML and CSS would look at this snippet of code and know it did something, but would have no idea what without referring back to the earlier definitions. When I was writing code, back in the middle ages, we were taught, and it was in fact derigueur that we wrote code that would be understandable by another programmer without external references to pieces of code he might or might not have access to. With the advent of online interactive code, however, it seems the norm to hide as much meaning from just about everyone as is possible, in the name of security. Personally I think honesty, elegance, and simplicity are a much better way to go. But then, who am I?
Sunday, August 29, 2004
The produce at the Capitol Market is marvelous. This year is turning into a wonderful year for produce. The tomatoes are amazing. We brought home a 5-lb. basket of not-quite-ripe beefsteaks to allow to ripen over the next few days. The smaller ones should ripen first and the really huge ones later. That'll keep me in tomato sandwiches for a couple weeks.
Last weekend I found a 4-egg poacher at Wal-Mart. It's a Chinese imitation of the good heavy-bottom, multi-ply pans I've been buying. It has no-stick cups and a nice heavy glass lid. We got to try it out for the first time today. Wonderful!
Quote of the Day: "All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit." -- Thomas Paine
It's about time for some art on these pages again. I was just going to put up the following piece, but then I got to doodling in my sketch book last night,so here are two things.
"Demon Skull 1239 B.C.E."
The actual picture is a little bigger so you can see the detail, just click on the picture for the full-size rendition. I did this piece sometime last year. It is currently hanging in the hallway next to the bathroom door. The following is something from my little 6X8 sketchbook. I've named it for what I was watching on television at the time.
Monday, August 30, 2004
Okay, I really don't feel like writing here today, so what am I doing? Beats me.
Quote of the Day: "I'm a uniter not a divider. That means when it comes time to sew up your chest cavity, we use stitches as opposed to opening it up." -- George W. Bush, on David Letterman, March 2, 2000. (the audience booed)
I realize that John Kerry isn't exactly the best man for the job. I also realize that Ralph Nader hasn't a snowball's chance in Palm Beach. But most importantly, if George W. Bush gets to stay in the White House, we will be solidly under a fascist government for the foreseeable future. Vote Kerry!
Tuesday, August 31, 2004
I get more and more discouraged about more and more things -- the upcoming election, for one. For another, it's the right turn this country has made, back into the land of fear, oppression, and intolerance. Yet another is the channeling of antisocial behavior into more and more violent behavior because technology has rendered less-violent criminal acts either impossible or completely likely to be discovered and successfully prosecuted. There are so many things to be discouraged about. Bush is gaining in the polls, mainly due to lies and subterfuge. I wonder when Rove's horns will pop out of his forehead?
I'm not sure where to put my newly-adopted 'fair use'
policy for this web site. I'll post it here and probably either on my front page or either the information page or the potpourri page.
Fair Use Policy
This site may contain copyrighted material, use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. I am making such material available in my effort to advance understanding of political, economic, democratic, philosophical, social justice, artistic and other issues. I believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of such copyrighted material as is provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 United States Code, Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed an interest by choosing to visit this site. If you disagree with my duly-constituted 'fair use' of your copyright material, please notify me and we will discuss it. If you wish to use included copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the original copyright owner. Attribution and links to original copyright owner's material are provided where possible. My 'fair use' of material does, in no manner, imply or insinuate that the author and copyright owner of said material endorses anything on this site, nor in any way agrees with the stated and implied opinions of the author or authors of this site.
One of the reasons I decided to post a fair use policy now is my decision to put large portions of articles for which I have not been able to acquire permission to reprint here, which I think deserve to have as wide an audience as possible. Sure, I could just link to the article, assuming it's on the web and that it's persistent, but really, how many people click on every link on a page like this? Today I am including two such articles today. The first was harvested from one of the Usenet newsgroups, probably alt.art.modern or something similar. The author's name was listed as "klunk". The e-mail address was at Hotmail and may or may not actually exist. I wrote for permission to reprint and was duly ignored, so here it is, presented under the fair use provisions of the Copyright Law:
People seem to have difficulty accepting their own predictability.
I have discovered in my observations of behaviour, patterns which allow me to predict how one will act in a given situation with almost complete certainty. Grifters understand this. Gamblers understand odds. Science understands probabilities within chaos.
This is not to say that each of us is incapable of acting outside of our established patterns, only that it is a rare occasion when we do so - usually due to extenuating circumstances.
I've also found that it is usually the type of personality that holds the greatest faith in the essential "goodness" of others that are most resistant to this notion. Those that dehumanize others do so by applying this notion either strategically to achieve their ends or as justification for their actions.
The question I must ask myself is, can my own recognition of such a phenomenon also be an act of dehumanization? Is this a step further towards the adoption of evil intent?
In order to overcome our self-imposed limitations, I believe it crucial to recognize not only the nature of those limitations, but also the source and symptoms. Recognition of repetition in and of itself is not "evil" - only what I do with this knowledge can be construed as such. My goals have always been the same; to learn, to grow and to facilitate this process in others.
I cannot see how this can be anything more than the work that God has intended. I have never belittled another in order to achieve personal gain. I have been harsh with others in order to affect change to behaviours that were fundamentally destructive toward others.
I've never believed I could influence someone whose behaviours were self-destructive. This is a far more complex challenge better suited to those whose profession has provided the tools and training required for such an affectation.
As an Artist, I merely reflect, like a mirror. I express myself in accordance with my belief in the value of truth and I will die like a canary in a coal mine.
I have never been more than a conduit, a conductive metal providing paths for energy to flow.
An Artist can never, should never aspire to be more; to do so would be to dilute the purity of their own spirit.
With this in mind, doubt all materially wealthy "Artists" and support those toiling in obscurity.
Do not say that an Artist must suffer to create great Art, because they already suffer far beyond your capacity to understand; simply by being born into this world.
Their suffering comes not from the difficulty of sustaining an existence in material poverty, but by shouldering the pain of this world that others have refused to bear.
You may recognize a painful reaction in another when they are struck, but an Artist feels not only the pain of the flow, but also the pain in the energy which motivated that blow.
klunk -- 2004
Quote of the Day: "I told my psychiatrist that everyone hates me. He said I was being ridiculous - everyone hasn't met me yet." -- Rodney Dangerfield
The second of my wholly-included articles today comes from Capitol Hill Blue.
Right-wing columnist Robert Novak, one of the most ardent defenders of the anti-Kerry book, Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry, hides a conflict-of-interest he has with Regnery, the conservative publishing house that issued the book. Novak's son, Alex Novak, is director of marketing for Regnery, a publishing company founded and still controlled by White Supremists.
"I don't think it's relevant," [he] says when asked why he failed to disclose his connection to the publisher. "I'm just functioning as a columnist with a point of view, and a strong point of view."
While most journalists have uncovered a myriad of errors, inconsistencies and distortions in the anti-Kerry screed, Novak has praised the book in his syndicated column and on news talk shows, calling author John O'Neill a "real patriot."
The book is part of a GOP-backed campaign by a shell group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a "527"political action group funded by two Texas millionaire friends of President George W. Bush and staffed by Republican operatives.
© Copyright 2004 by Capitol Hill Blue
Well, it's my concerted opinion that Robert Novak is about the sleaziest of the Neocon Reactionary puppets on television. Why CNN has allowed him to remain on the air through all his sleaziness and immoral acts is beyond me. It's beyond reason. It must be ratings.
One more thing and I'll shut up for the rest of August. If anyone reading this should sight any problems with spelling or capitalization, I'd appreciate a "head's up." When I converted this page to XHTML I think I may have broken a few spellings and capitalizations. I think I went back and caught most of them, but if you see any I'd appreciate a note telling me what and where. Thanks!