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caesar novus

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Blog Entries posted by caesar novus

  1. caesar novus
    Many years ago I was killing time in the IBM bldg atrium next door to NYC Trump tower; it had tables for public in the days before vagrants, amidst bamboo and even a computer museum open on weekends. I was about to bolt for opening time at the Metropolitan Museum when I saw a security man swing open a hidden door from Trump lobby to IBM atrium. I zoomed thru in order to save steps walking around bldg, eyes riveted forward to clear thru the ugly bordello-like marble decor and pop out the main entrance.
    It was deserted except for one tall frizzy blond man with armful of documents who straightened up in an escalating haughty scowl as we passed. No eye contact, and I dimly realized I was invading Trump personal space, but he wasn't much on my radar and I had a higher mission to focus on. Later I learned that his first wife designed the lurid decor, and it perhaps had the same function as some Roman ruin props at the entrance of my parents retirement home complex - make a certain unwelcome demographic uncomfortable. Probably explains decor in a biker bar, etc... not that the customers like it but it scares away the folks who don't fit in.
    In the early opening time at Metropolitan museum, probably on another visit but maybe the Trump one, I encountered artist Andy Warhol. I was just exiting the deserted Egyptian temple which was bathed in yellow light, and the approaching pasty be-wigged celebrity urgently locked eyes with me. It would be logical that his concern was that I leave him alone with his trailing photographer to do poses. But it felt more like he as a needy person was feeding off my recognition of him. I recently thought of an even less palatable motive, but anyway I blazed past as a sightseer on a higher mission.
    Other features of NYC in the past were the higher crime rate. Before the pacifier effect of cellphones, women walked in fear, and as a long legged male you couldn't help but tailgate slower walking women almost quaking in fear as you finally passed. I had to do the quick walk sometimes, when I would go to saturday night musical events in Harlem and Bedford Stuyvesant. If the doors weren't open yet, you had to keep orbiting or else be swarmed by lounging troublemakers.
  2. caesar novus
    Here I sit typing outside in what was hysterically promised to be a massive tropical storm from a weakened hurricane. Even weather reports on TV were pre-empted by big brother robo alarms which couldn't be muted even if you hit pause button or changed the channel. Well, the wind is less than usual, sky is greyer than usual, sprinkles are a little more persistent than usual... just what anybody would expect from checking doppler radar etc of oncoming storm. Oh, you can feel a sinister quality to even weak wind gusts... it's how fast they accelerate rather than their tame speed.
    I've seen it umpteen times; we luckily have a massive mountain that hurricanes have to cross first, and the forecasters are oblivious to the demonstrated historical fact that it snuffs out much circulatory power out of such storms. They probably know; only recently did their models pay attention to geography, but they probably don't dare stick their neck out and depart from proven flat-world forecasts. Maybe faked out a guy who repairs wind-blown roofs and is an instructor pilot to boot; I see him blogging he has boarded up his windows.
    This time I really detect fraud. The storm has long been rated at the slowest possible speed to raise any alarm, and was forecast to not drop even one knot after mountains and cooler water for an unprecedented period until it passed all populated areas. There is a disaster industry where politicians and scientists huddle and warp the message for both good and bad intentions.
    I suspect the storm has long been under dangerous wind speeds, but the nerds were afraid of the small chance it would ramp up and force them to flipflop their warnings. Forget the truth, don't inform us lowly taxpayers but pump condescending spin to keep us manageable. I have sat thru a scientific review of the Japan tsunami event, and came to see many public warnings of such waves are overblown compared to what is known to science. Even if you have infinite power behind a quake, it takes unusual predictable geology to allow that to translate to big waves. Most places cannot create dangerous waves... they are like huge engines with a tiny propeller that can't exert it's force.
    Anyway, I think politicians show worse motives here. Wasn't it the Romans who instituted bread and circuses, which google calls "a diet of entertainment or political policies on which the masses are fed to keep them happy and docile." Now they exhibit benevolence by overhyping storm dangers and needlessly opening shelters etc which is much cheaper and more visible than working on crumbling infrastructure. They monopolize news in their hardhats, for instance triggering buying frenzies on bottled water... a ridiculous product that can make folks sorry they didn't get nutritious drinks at the same price. The brain runs on sugar alone, and once I was stranded in the Sahara with nothing but lemonade sport powder for several days - comfy because wells and shade was available in my spot.
  3. caesar novus
    I downloaded a free Amazon Kindle book which was a memoir of a Brit reporter stuck inside Paris under siege by Prussia. 1870 was an interesting period where the unified architectural redo beloved by the world today was being started, and then fired upon, for the oddest of reasons. Napoleon3 was trying to suppress urban revolutionists on one hand by making wide blvds that couldn't be barricaded against gov't military response, and on the other hand by baiting the Prussians into a war which could bolster French patriotic unity.
    Well, like another free Kindle memoir from the Confederate war department in US civil war, it was an interesting time covered by a rambling lousy memoirist. It worked better when I mixed in readings of a quality history book of FrancoPrussian war, which was one of the bloodiest yet most needless of the 1800's. Bismark also wanted to bait France into war in order to rally and unify Germany; southern parts of modern Germany had been losing interest in joining up with Prussia, just as Parisians were increasing hostile to their agrarianist national gov't.
    Well, I haven't read that far and am already forgetting stuff, but I have the nerve to make a few observations. Napoleon3 is thought to be the dunce because he was tricked into declaring war first over a ridiculous nicety about how a wedding was called off. Bismark got the appearance of not initiating war and was able to win it with better organization and cannons (although worse small arms). I do give points to Napoleon3 for trying sort of a "suicide by cop" approach of wandering a field under fire when things first looked hopeless (his companions were hit), then surrendering to stop bloodshed well before ammo ran low. Bismark wanted to shell Paris vs his superiors trying a standoff first.
    My most bold observation is that there seem tremendous echos of 1870 tactics in WW2. It almost seems like WW2 wasn't an attempt to redo the freakish case of WW1 more effectively, but to address or relive the more conventional issues of 1870 war. In the case of 1940 France, it was still hobbled by terrible communications and disunity which made it hard to benefit from some superior technology like tanks and fortresses.
    In the case of Germany, so many of the oddball concerns of Hitler which were in his generals memoirs seem to be avoiding pitfalls from the 1870 war. Hitler was obsessed by the exact performance of every small arm, maybe recalling the much superior 1870 French rifle and crude machine gun. Many 1870 units squandered ammo to a disastrous extent, and Hitler insisted certain wasteful units not be resupplied with ammo as a punishment that could mean wipe out. Speed of deployment problems of 1870 would be ruthlessly corrected, etc... I may not be explaining this well, but there seem echos galore.
  4. caesar novus
    I do most errands the green and healthy way, with long walks along busy roads. I drown out traffic noise with noise cancel earphones, typically playing historical lectures. Still I miss parts, such as due to the arrogant ear-bleeding level of gov't sirens going to typically false med emergencies such as to request recreational pain pills. So I switched to histories of composers like http://www.robertgreenbergmusic.com/great-courses/ where there would be song samples and content that won't suffer much by occasional interruptions.
    By the way, I just read that since our police sometimes clear vagrant campers from 100% blocking sidewalks on my busy route, a top federal official has punitively blocked milliion$ of our fed tax money from reaching here. Idiot limousine lefty... he expects us to abandon foot travel for electric cars. Many of these vagrants are not poor but admit to being awash in benefits like fake disability. Some flew 5 to 10 airline hours to reach this place, famous on the internet for "blind compassion" where they can spend their benefits purely on intoxicants with no obligations.
    Anyway, I'll point out some lecture anecdotes that surprised me. My listening was fractured, so I sought confirmation in (fractured) Wikipedia which normally contradicted the lecturer. Start with Shostakovitch, the stark modernist of a century ago. I have visited his son and grandson in their home, so I hope I don't sound ungrateful for only liking one work which was sort of a redo of some Italian work. Right after WW1 there was disinterest in the harsh mechanical sound, so he sought out income from a quite delightful and accessible piece that I wish I remembered the name of.
    He redid many of his own works as well, just as they were falling out of copyright. Most of the lectures were about the drama of him trying to survive the wrath of Stalin. I liked Shost. quotes on Stalin being worse than Hitler for Russia, which still acknowledges the almost infinite horror of Hitler. Putin has whitewashed the textbooks about Stalin, and the west is content with Hitler rather than Stalin or Mao as symbolizing the essence of killer.
    The lecturer digressed into a conspiracy theory that Stalin was murdered because he was about to start a war with China and terrorize Russian Jews. Wiki seemed to carefully shoot that down in favor of the conventional natural(ish) death theory. The supposed assassin Beria seemed unlikely. He was a depraved counterpart to Hitler's Heydrich, both sort of secret intel police heads that enjoyed personally torturing and killing... especially young civilian girls picked up off the streets daily.
    It was not too long ago when construction at Beria's old mansion turned up many young female skeletons in his garden. Daughters of high officials up to Stalin were warned to not accept a ride from Beria. Reading histories of Stalin (a terrorist even when young), Beria, and Heydrich are somehow more depressing than Hitler who at least espoused some appeal toward ideals rather then being brazenly devoted to nothing but evil.
    Lastly Tchaikovsky and his music, maybe only matched by Vivaldi in terms of accessibility. I came to realize that practically his only work I grooved on was "Serenade for Strings" https://archive.org/details/SerenadeForStringsInCMajorOp.48 which the lecturer said was flagged by "serenade" to uniquely be a pleasant interlude. Other works seem dramatic to bombastic accompaniments to his high strung life. The lecturer called him a serial molester of slightly underage boys, including his servants. One committed suicide, which was followed by writing of his ultimate gushy heartbreak work (I think in Swan Lake) which I have seen middle aged women melt to.
    Wiki doesn't take that shrill approach, saying just that he enjoyed man-friends more than his bizarre marriage, and that he died in a cholera epidemic rather than suicide for being outed. I have heard endless hand wringing supporting the latter theory, that he was driven to suicide due to society's homophobia. The lecturer took a strange middle path, that Tchai .killed himself out of vanity to not be remembered as a gay composer. He was about to be reported as gay to the Czar in some minor investigation, but there were no punishments for that except raised eyebrows. The lecturer said Tchai. knew how to easily avoid cholera outbreaks, but was so jealous about his hard-won conventional legacy that he took a poison that mimicked that agonizing, drawn-out-for-days death!
  5. caesar novus
    What is still worthwhile to watch on cable TV? I can't save $ by "cutting the cable", because they negotiated a discount to my neighborhood on the basis that everyone must pay for at least basic service. This when my favorite genre of history documentaries disappears from History channel, and reappears free on youtube. Well, some channels like Smithsonian or Arts & Entertainment have good detective-type documentaries about recent history, which BTW go by different titles in different parts of the world.
    "Air Disasters" covers intrinsically interesting causes of a particular airliner crash, but gosh you have to tolerate some slow pacing from this Ontario/Quebec subsidized production. You can see their points coming a mile away, maybe amid clumsy attempts to bluff you. It's not that Canadians are slow, but I think their media experts have brain-drained to the U.S. where they are quite prominent. They tend to wash out the color into a pale grey... is this dreariness for hiding cheesy low budget re-creation filmsets? But the ultimate findings turn out to be fascinating and surprisingly nuanced. I used to think it was knee jerk "blame the pilot" which they do at 70%, but not solely or lightly since the investigators tend to be pilots too.
    Smithsonian channel now follows this with another docuhour "Alaskan Aircrash Investigations", which is a bit more lively and colorful, but disturbing for a taxpayer. Alaska has a crash every other day in the summer, typically in a tiny 1950's era plane doing some kind of cowboy antics. Big budget investigations seem to be made as if they were airliners, with representatives of various federal departments, engine manufacturers, and airframe manufacturers who plod around swampy crash sites with a band of sheriffs to fight off bears or clingy family of victims.
    Helicopters bring remains back, which is sometimes rebuilt and tested over a thousand miles away... presumably to see if a device from 1952 can be improved so that the one other surviving example must do an upgrade. Well, it can be good, like an illegal heater upgrade done to a whole fleet of bush planes proves to be capable of knocking occupants unconscious from CO poisoning in minutes. They get friends of the pilot to give gushy background info thru the subterfuge of filming before official final report, which often condemns pilot negligence.
    Similar in spirit is A&E "The First 48" which has long covered real who-done-it murder investigations in a fast paced format. But now it is dragging with a lot of gushy emoting by the fam/friends of the victim, which may be responsible for cutting down from 2 to 1 case per episode hour. Another bad trend is the victims and perps seem to come from the same pool of dysfunctional, blatantly lawless, and self sabotaging in lifestyle. It's not a question of how to possibly dream up the rare potential killer, but how to eliminate the many obvious violent drug dealing 18 yr olds, each with multiple welfare baby mommas.
    This isn't even a fair depiction of murderers in general, but more the case for poorly policed areas like Chicago - recently famous for becoming a murder war zone after implementing "compassionate" minimal prison sentences. I remember older episodes with more interesting suspects, like a cagey old hermit who would only talk (indeed confess) to a rubenesque policewomen using just a hint of flirt dangled like a carrot. Little progress seems to ever be made without deceiving suspects or brandishing a potential death sentence, practices probably on the way out.
    A more satisfying series along the same lines is "Homicide Hunter" which covers a more diverse slice of cases in one city by one detective (Kenda). He wasn't the first choice for this somewhat low budget series, but his low-key skills in a non-war-zone city in Colorado forces the series to show the quirks of real stranger-than-fiction stuff that appears among apparently well-meaning people in benign everyday surroundings. It's repeating on Investigation Discovery channel which you may channel surf by due to typically cheesy overwrought re-creations of crime.
    What I would like to see more of is the genre of sitcoms that satirize modern life. A trying-to-be sane or nice person like Alan Harper colliding with cheerfully off kilter types like hedonist Charlie Sheen in "2.5 Men". One of the first of this type was "Married with Children"s dad trying to survive his cheerfully out of control wife and kids. Maybe these don't age well because with time the craziness of some characters becomes more culturally accepted and the striving to be respectable is less and less identified with. But maybe one more such series for dunces like me?
  6. caesar novus
    I went to a gladiator talk by the celebrated Roman scholar Garrett Fagan, author of: http://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&field-author=Garrett%20G.%20Fagan&page=1&rh=n%3A283155%2Cp_27%3AGarrett%20G.%20Fagan
    It was quite entertaining, but that seemed to be the point more than shedding much light. But I will try to share a few points, esp on new unpublished findings. Well, he showed some stone carvings of arena antics freshly unearthed. I forget if old or new, but there was a lot of bear vs man battles. Not lethal, but actual boxing matches or just a guy hiding from a bear behind a screen that rotated on a pivot. Kind of like a bullfighters cloth, but fancier.
    Anyway, he seemed to drive at the artificial theatricality of the animal and human battles... not so much actual violence. Half way to modern wrestling for TV, it could even approach circus type acts with people or animals suspended in the air with ropes. Gladiator losers seemed to frequently be given mercy, and their costumes were not that of actual foreign fighters. Just fantasy costumes, but they would be highly trained in that role and no other. Showed much rigging for releasing animals, etc, and some strange but common setup for "ramp fighters".
    Then in the q and a portion, he seemed to lose the plot. Serious issues were raised, like were christians really never executed in colluseum, which he seemed to dodge or give flippant or sensational answers. I think he did know the answers, but wanted to keep the jovial tone. Or his jokes about his water bottle containing gin were really true. He gave the impression of a common phenom of a UK scholar (including Dublin in UK, ha ha) who goes on to higher income in the US with crowd pleasing skills... probably gets perfect approval scores by his amused but not too educated students. He did give some nice "great courses" lecture series on Romans though.
  7. caesar novus
    If the forum site is to be eternally awaiting maintenance, maybe I had better correct a wrong impression I posted there. The really appealing Minerva magazine, http://minervamagazine.co.uk/ with a lot of coverage of Roman archeology and history... really is giving Roman coins with some of it's subscriptions (auto renewing or 3 yr minimum). I reported that their website blew up when I attempted my (intnl) subscription, and gave up when no billing appeared. But now I've got my coin, mag, and bill... something to keep that Roman fix coming (altho not cheap).
    P.S. if someone knows how to contact the admin for this site, they should remind that admin that klingan or whatever Patrick from Sweden goes by made an offer to take over the upkeep of this site. I can probably find how to contact Patrick if you can get the OK from the Austrian admin.
  8. caesar novus
    Can you believe I got a sunburn purely in the SHADE!? A slight injury kept me away from outdoor activities except reading in the shade. So for some "light" reading I checked out about 1500 pages worth of Goebbels diaries from 1939-1945. They were kind of yellowed and fine print, so I used bright outdoor light, but kept religiously under shade of concrete overhang.
    I started to get brown in a strange kind of tanning-bed omnidirectional way, where ever my swimming suit didn't cover. I wondered if this was UV being bent as they passed thru clouds or if it was from reflected UV. But then we had a cloudless day, and I got almost lobster red sitting in clearly defined shadows! It must be from reflection, or the scattering from particles in the air. I don't need any more skin sun damage, after volunteering to crew a sailboat one summer and too cheap to use sunblock lotion.
    One useful item for this was internet radio with noise cancellation headphones. For a while there were jackhammers running and found I needed music with a hard beat to distract. Cuban music worked best (pandora cuban genre or spotify radio based on cuban masters playlist), but there was useable Goa world beat station possibly under tunin app. If it was quieter, I might play mellow ambient or chill jazz to distract, although if that is too sappy there are quite a few birdsong stations. I suppose it sounds odd that I listen to those next to ultrasound speakers intended to scare away boring local birds and their mess...
    In one case I was reading about the invasion of Russia while the internet radio played birds and running creeks recorded in the Urals (Russia). You can tune in special Brazilian birds or more temperate ones such as from http://birdsongradio.com/radio-birdsong-listen.php .
    When having a hard time sleeping (like with a sunburn) I sometimes tune in british comedy internet radio stations, such as found on xiialive app. There seem to be an atlantis.fm station and a ROK station with bbc skits about 50 years old. Today they kicked off a hilarious but unlikely recent comedy "HUT 33" satirizing the WW2 decoding boffins... I love the high strung violent Polish secretary who angrily mistakes brownie girl scouts as possible fascist brownshirts for example (as I read about the Polish invasion). I earlier mentioned (in temp forum?) the very funny Roman satire episode that I have now heard twice on those stations... was it on the Jimmy Edwards show?
  9. caesar novus
    Long ago a co-worker and I suffering thru cold/flu seasons did a comparison test of a range of anti-histamines. We normally rarely agreed on things, but both decided chlorpheniramine maleate was the champion. Its an old school variety that also makes you drowsy, and I recently started taking some slow release versions to avoid waking up from (I think) irritating construction dust creating breathing problems. It had the strange side effect of trying to extend sleep for the full 12 hours that the dose is supposed to last.
    Well, thats a drag... but oddly I recently got the opposite effect when by chance combining that pill with aspirin. Very strange, and I haven't discussed it with anyone before now. What does this mean to wake refreshed with only about 4 hours of sleep, and is it a real, healthy sleep? I guess the cycles of sleep put the important part in the first few hours, and high achievement folks like Napoleon lived on short sleeps naturally.
    I hate to live with some artificial additive, although aspirin is about as natural as you can get. The ancient Greeks used it from willow bark, as did the Cherokee. It is in fruits and vegetables, and according to wikipedia the body even synthesizes it. The active ingredient is salicylic acid which wiki sez has been proposed as vitamin S! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salicylic_acid Weirdly it's the same stuff that is sold to paint on warts to make them drop off.
    There is also an anti coagulant effect, which is why I experimented with it in the first place. With even athletes getting heart attacks from modern artery clogging diets, I dabbled a bit with the baby aspirin regime to thin the blood. But it bugged me that baby aspirin cost more than the normal adult size pills. The big pills CAN overdo anticoagulance, for instance making a shaving cut (or an ulcer) bleed way too long. So I decided to simply take big aspirin only on days of some slight muscle ache (such as overexercise) anyway.
    Now I find this dramatic effect, and wonder to milk it or leave it alone. Does it just work for me... does my system yearn for these combined additives due to some imbalance? Not sure, but you have been informed of the potential anyway.
  10. caesar novus
    I rarely google myself, but tried it after recent news about false personal info spreading online. I was amazed to find Amazon and books.google sold publications authored by me. Actually out-of-stock, nondigitized bookLETS, but I never submitted these. Wow, does this mean fame ormoney, and how or why? Google yourself for lies, and they may even be charitable ones!
    In one case, they had pruned off the name of my coauthor in an internal company publication. He had far superior credentials and apparently greater ambition to submit it commercially (requiring legal reviews too intimidating for me). I remember we had little meeting of minds, but worked on it in opposite time zones. Got his draft by email at dawn and I would spend next couple hours frozen with my head in my hands about how he botched most stuff I knew about. Rewrote it and email by sunset, where probably he held his head in his hands, facing the redo of my botch-alisms in his area of expertise. Round the clock activity, but doubtful progress.
    There's another case where a respected researcher included me authoring a conference report where I only understood a smidgen. I only dared to correct his english, because if I got seriously involved it would be delayed by legal reviews. It turned out to be widely cited for a couple decades, and only seemed to drop off google in the last few days. Again I never received or deserved tangible credit, but got to enjoy virtual celebrity via search engine. Any actual accomplishments being more under the radar.
    I have more genuine pride about a European magazine article depicting, but not naming, me at play. While reading about an extreme sport attempt on the worlds "highest" mountain (only if measured in a gimmicky way) it appeared to be me in their picture, based on helmet and equipment color. I contacted the author, who had been our guide on that expedition but who wrote it up as his solo accomplishment. I had no complaint, and now treasure his written confirmation that I was the pictured person who defied timidity in such an out-of-character folly. Something unknown, but at least real.
  11. caesar novus
    I read a free e-memoir of a WW2 bomber co-pilot called "Serenade to the Big Bird" that I can't recommend but started me reflecting on work and family trends. Actually his writeup of prewar and likely postwar goals of him and his buddies was interesting - chase women under any pretense, suck down hard alcohol in down-times when possible, but expect you will eventually have to secure a highly paid job to support some irresistible nonworking spouse and various children.
    He didn't survive the war, but his and other accounts depict that both men and many women were in a frenzy to meet up more than today, and not just due to the disruption of war. Hormones and hedonism seemed in the air, but the assumed trajectory was toward serious (1950ish) domesticated worker bee life. A recent article http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-idle-army-americas-unworking-men-1472769641 "The Idle Army: America’s Unworking Men" shows a major new alternate lifestyle with hedonism, kids, but without any thought of work.
    The US publishes pretty low unemployment figures, but they only count unemployed JOB SEEKERS. The US rivals Greece in OVERALL unemployed, which are not just those in school or retired. It can total almost 40% for male grown ups. Almost a hundred million of all (4?) genders not seeking work. I'll skip the guesstimates of how many of those are brazenly coasting on benefits, crime, grey market, or disability fraud, but you see the swashbuckling lifestyle of them all the time. Those arrested at age 18 with 11 children by 5 welfare mothers with a flashy car but unemployable. No incentive to engage in civil society, and police of all races are grimly experienced, not biased, with dealing with their hostile sense of entitlement.
    This social ill was seemingly created by "compassionate" politics during my lifetime, generally without carrots or sticks. The problem is not from immigrants or the married "underprivileged" or many others who still work hard and bear the burden of taxation, it is product of social engineering by naive children and grandchildren of 1940's boozers who played but worked hard. Oh, and who died early of lung cancer due to the culture of free cigarettes issued to US soldiers, when the Germans had already proven the cancer link.
  12. caesar novus
    Let me review some of my timid steps of using new consumer technology... nothing electronic, but more on the humble side:
    With tired looking bath tile and kitchen counters, I avoided the expense and trouble of replacement with some of those special purpose epoxy paints. As I feared, the finished look was a little uneven due to non-ideal temperatures and applicator tools. But the coverage of any porous grout and a few tile cracks gave a great waterproof and uniform look.
    The only drawback was the tile paint didn't stand up to the rare abrasion very well, but little problem for me because I was that rare person who didn't take the opportunity to change the color. A scrape is invisible and typically still waterproof. Oddly the (non-matching) counter paint is bulletproof from abrasion, something I was concerned about even tho I never chop stuff directly on the counter.
    There is one quirk which I just now realized may be my fault. The counter stains from food! A dot of tomato sauce or orange juice will be instantly tattooed on the surface. Well, it is very faint, but will take about a month of regular cleanings before that shadow disappears. I guess it is my fault due to sanding the results to give a uniform somewhat rustic look from the patches that were more or less glossy. It must be porous, so I guess I should wax it or something.
    Next challenge was my car battery dying between starts. Over time the alternator gets weak and various gadgets stay annoyingly active when the car is off. I had one of those jump start batteries that had lost it's oomph, so tracked down the few replacements that weren't already sold out from a nation's harsh winter. First tried one, then two small lithium batteries that plugs in a cig lighter. They are actually feeble chargers that can rarely give enough help, but turned out useful for locking or unlocking a trunk which can only be done electrically.
    Then I got a medium lead-acid jump start battery which sometime would do the job after couple minutes, but finally I had to buy a cheapo full size extra car battery with jump start cables. I normally wheel all 4 of these on a handcart to start the car! But the best help was couple dollar battery cutoff switch. I had tried to install the wrong kind long ago, but this new one did the trick. It was preassembled all wrong, probably due to a return before I got it, but after correction it almost negates the need for jump starts and may someday prevent a theft.
    The last new item was one of those Turkish pistol replicas that they use to fire blanks in the air during celebrations. They seem legal in any state other than NY, and even in Canada if it has a flare attachment. It is so fascinating because mine is a near twin to a real Beretta semiauto model which is made in Turkey anyway. Apparently it is legal in (eastern?) Europe for firing nonlethal tear gas or in Russia for rubber bullets.
    Anyway in my area gun ownership is extremely rare and I can hardly remember my only pistol experience on an old model 1911 automatic. Now thru handling the action, I can evaluate crime events with the more modern pistols. Even today a gov't employee reportedly shot thru adjoining offices when cleaning his Glock. I had heard how super safe they were due to NO manual safety (but 4 automatic safeties?) but how does this apply when cleaning them? BTW, there was little danger of hitting anybody because gov't employees here are eternally absent or on junkets. Today's news covered how great it was only 31% prison guards called in sick during super bowl rather than the usual more than a third. And how it was unavoidable due to monopoly gov't union rules - outrageous.
    Another advantage besides understanding crime reports (robbers with jammed guns, etc) was hand strength and dexterity issues. I sometimes have to rig and unrig sailboats for hours at a time until my fingers cramp up into distorted positions. Handling this pistol with it's stiff Turkish springs lets me for example compare right and left hands in the decocking process or whatever. My left really needs more exercise, for which this strange toy is the perfect exercise machine. BTW, I didn't get the more risky model that fires blanks forward - oddly enough my elementary school had a special presentation on how dangerous those can be to any finger or skull in the way.
  13. caesar novus
    The last few weeks have had so many urgent problems for me that I didn't add them to any to-do list; I figured they burned in my mind well enough. But now after swatting down several of them, some kind of cathartic release has left my mind a blank and probably forgetting some remaining urgency. Maybe I will remember by reviewing events, or else just get mad at the needlessness of it all.
    Starts with my car which eternally drains battery flat. A full day at a high rep dealer only provided a list of red-flagged and yellow-flagged nonelectrical problems they had no time to fix. No improvement with battery, so I added to my collection of cordless and corded emergency chargers. These conveniently connect thru cig lighter, but thus are so low power to be almost worthless. Caveat with these newer digitized models is they won't work if you fall to half charge. They decide you have an obsolete 6 volt battery if your 12V one falls below half.
    Anyway, it was while waiting for a battery booster to be dropped off to me, I noticed an email claiming package delivery just failed because no answer at door. Wha? I ran madly around the neighborhood and found the truck and got it. I diagnosed that the sort of doorbell system to our building utilized a land line that had gone out. Actually that is my telephone and dsl line too, and for 10 days up to xmas I couldn't receive packages or even send them due to waiting let in the repair man.
    The day after xmas I mailed packages by a special "media" rate... with tracking numbers I can see them still sitting within walking distance and estimated to take 3 weeks. The phone was fixed when I came back, but then went down again. How was I supposed to let in the repairman when I was so cut off? With the usual more-than-a-week response time I got another fix. They had disconnected me instead of another intended person. This happens all the time for me with cable TV but the weird thing is they need to send someone out to fiddle with actual copper... the last one talked about removing corrosion as well!
    Oh, and the main threat to having no phone or virtual doorbell is that I am overdue for a mandatory plumbing upgrade. I don't have any carrier plan for a cell phone by the way, just 911 capability. Now is about the deadline when a letter threatened to break down the door of anyone in the building who hadn't shown proof of upgrade. Unresolved, overdue, but not forgotten.
    There was also the usual crises of getting estimated taxes prepaid when I don't have enough info on what the amount should be. And the infinite pain of getting signed for mandatory medical coverage with it's usual 50% yearly price rise for 50% less coverage. It pays for almost no genuine need, just ensures that wildly irresponsible self inflicted politically correct problems are coddled with years of acupuncture, med maryjane or whatever.
    Unbelievable hostile human factors where the fed system thought I was a different person than the state system, where one had mandatorily added middle initial. I signed up at the start of window only to be bombarded by daily shrill messages that warned my signup was incomplete. A web page and the most incompetent, rude, complacent-on-his bloated-fed-benefits helpline monkey suggested my signup had worked. No confirmation is given before the window is closed and you are cut off and subject to penalty. You have to pay by year end, but may not see a bill until days before that, if ever.
    Well it goes on and on. I remember a time when I could leave the house for travel time, but now am a full time idiot-manager. I don't recall some other deadline that I think was looming, so maybe I will be the idiot for not putting it on a to do list.
  14. caesar novus
    Well, I'm laid up again with a nasty foot injury... strange how disabling that can be, due to it's location rather than the severity. So I thought I would reflect here a bit. I just put on some background video of a Bocelli concert in Portofino, which makes somewhat sappy music in a pretentious location quite magical... is it the Italian touch, or maybe my memories of hiking the pretty hills in the background (better than crowded Cinque Terre!).
    I recorded it off cable tv and was about to flush it, but then found it is a real cinema movie, This trailer makes it seem brash rather than it's actual mellow, scenic character:

    Anyway, I didn't realize the extent of my injury because it had a numbing effect at first. I got all distracted by trying to create my own salt free Cajun seasoning by mixing up stuff on hand. This was after much frustration of trying to subscribe to that from Amazon... if you subscribe to 5 things at once regularly they deduct 15% and charge no postage. Anyway, why not mix various pepper, paprika, garlic, onion and others powders together? Came out a little harsh, so why not add some mellow thai seasonings and nutritional yeast... pretty good, but what is that throbbing in my foot... YIKES!
    Another liberating area of self-mix is sodapop. Got the neat Sodastream carbonating machine (did I mention this earlier?) and concoct my own syrups. A good one is root beer extract mixed with the super healthy agave syrup instead of the usual corn syrup. Or canned frozen concentrate of lemonade mixed with coconut syrup... refreshing! I found an adaptor valve online to use paintball co2 chargers which are vastly cheaper bubblemakers than from sodastream, yet fit in their machine. Real quality results, cheaper, and I save all the lugging of cans and such.
    My next mixing direction is something I touched on in a topic here about fermented applesauce. I am crazy about bubbles (not alcohol) in what I eat or drink, and accidentally created a perfect mix of fermented cranberry juice mixed with applesauce. The bubbles stay suspended in place and are amazing to encounter. But it's hard to perfect. Too thin and the apple pulp just sinks below a watery gruel. Too thick can be fun, but has problems I talked about earlier. The trick seems to be starting a tad too watery, then the yeast turns the mixture a bit gluey with absolutely immobilized bubbles. But you can drink it, sort of like a smoothie with tart bubble bursts!
  15. caesar novus
    I recently came the closest ever to being hit by a car when crossing the street, with the walklight. I remember calculating whether I should jump on the hood or try to bounce off the side. I was too exhausted from a gym session to jump, but was saved by their last minute screech to a stop. Lucky, because the driver was accelerating fast to turn into a gap in traffic.
    Now I know why pedestrians so often leave their shoes behind when being hit and smash in the windshield. If you don't jump way up, the impact at knee level should shoot your feet out faster than the car in a levered sort of a crack-the-whip fashion; your center of gravity above the impact level should tend to stay still until it is smacked by the windshield which then tosses you in the air.
    The strange thing was I felt no road rage; even though the drivers behind voiced support for me and anger at the offender, I ambled on with an uplifted feeling. It seemed like an overdue wakeup call in making the consequences of collision concrete in my mind and clearing out laziness in defensive walking or driving.
    Actually I probably had in mind some concern about a drive I planned to pick up a sofabed from a warehouse. I rarely drive, yet could not bear the delivery fee for a sofabed I scored for half price on a holiday sale. Why does that concern me... well it may be the second time I arrive at a warehouse in a compact hatchback where they won't want to release the oversize furniture, and then I have the trouble dragging it precariously thru traffic. I have to, because it is prepaid with no refunds.
    My previous upscale sofabed was bought for a song in a store being closed and no longer offered delivery. I was lucky at the warehouse with someone undaunted by my small vehicle and my delusions of being able to disassemble the sofa first. He knew the internal frame would fit in the hatchback even if the foamy parts were way oversize, and picked it up in a forklift and jammed the square peg in a round hole.
    Well, maybe that damaged the foam, because over the years it broke up into lumps and the fake leather shed. Finally I put it outside the evening before trash pickup, and was pleased to see that someone snatched it overnight... they get a temporary thrill until seeing it in daylight. I next went on a long drive for the replacement, proud of the fact I used no map or gps and even outsmarted the word directions (turn at second light? no way, that looks like a newly added one).
    The warehouse didn't want to release the box which wouldn't fit in the hatchback. I had them remove the box and it still resisted, but now I am committed. In the tension of the moment, or day, or couple of days I got brain freeze and didn't think of the likely solution of flexing the backrest. We were handling it flat and I just shoved with all my might, which somewhat scuffed the thing but got it in kind of diagonally and tied it down
    On the drive home with the hatch open and sofa sticking way out, I got stuck in traffic that took maybe an hour to cover a few blocks... nine million degrees of swelter. I noticed being tailgated by an inattentive driver, and realized I had rigged the high side of the sofa against my headrest instead of the empty passenger seat. The slightest tap from behind would lever me into steering column and crush my ribcage, and the stuck sofa would not release pressure afterwards. Oh great, my near death experience served to impress me with dangers when I was already committed, rather than inspiring precautions.
  16. caesar novus
    I'm writhing thru withdrawal symptoms, because my favorite food is out of stock at the supermarket as well as from the importer http://www.instantthaifood.com/ . Thai food can be so seductive, and this brand more than any other makes it both good AND instant. But every few years their supply is cut off for 6 months or so.
    So what are the alternatives to their addictive ginger, lemon-grassy curry rice? Well, I could reconsider the starch family and switch back to a potato base. But I noticed big helpings of potatoes can induce drowsyness, and then found it has a glycemic index of up to 111. Thus it can give more of a sugar shock than pure sugar! I think it might nudge a person towards diabetes2 almost like a junk food, so will reserve that for times I am fighting insomnia.
    Armed with some Thai flavorings, I looked for a rice that reaches the high standards as from my favorite instant Thai packages. Conventional minute rice is ghastly. I tried some healthy types such as converted rice which has some of the husk nutrients baked in, but preferred a new kind of half-milled rice where the brown husk is half removed. Still, that can be like forcing down medicine.
    From the array of typical white rices, I know I hate the common east Asian varieties. I recall wonderful Indian basmati rice which can be fluffy in a dry kind of way. But basmati rice on the shelves looks way to short and tastes boring, even when imported from India. On the internet I gather much of the Indian rice has been hybridized for more production, and there is some weird Texan variety trying to claim the name Basmati.
    Finally I find some lonely little bags from Pakistan with the elegant super-long grains, almost like strings or threads. Yum! It cooks fairly fast and and has a great mouth feel. I don't know if this is nowdays a rare heritage type rice, because many of the Basmati bags from India are opaque and don't show if they are old style. So I muddle along, stirring in experimental Thai flavorings for now.
  17. caesar novus
    I thought I might prevent some grumpy meanderings in my forum entries if there was a place off to the side to unwind, such as here.
    And actually I feel guilty to not responding to a gun entry posted here somewhere months ago. Someone blogged about finding a really old family 10 gauge pump shotgun as I recall, and was thinking of testing it. At the time I remembered seeing such a thing in my dad's closet and him saying ammo is hard to get (and wondered why - huge 10ga was rare but legal).
    Later I heard some appraisal show saying these were mostly black powder guns and could not stand up to modern ammo. Well, it must be a testament to my values that alarm bells did not fully ring until I heard another appraisal show saying these were very valuable due to being the first pump/repeating shotguns. So while I didn't intervene then to try to save face wounds or loss of an eye (will heal by itself, or at least another eye is left), I now want to point out that sale of such a thing might help fund a visit to Roman sites!
    I also remember fiddling with 2 rifles from that closet. One was a WW1 gun which my dad had me convert to a "sport" rifle as a learning experience. It was still heavy for me as a kid so he used that and I got a modern semi auto. Having fiddled with bolt action, I could hardly imagine how it could repeat so took it all apart and reassembled - with one spring left over, to my horror.
    I didn't dare admit this, and went on a ritualistic deer hunt with my dad. I think we both had no interest in bloodsports, but it was a supposed to reveal it's value afterward according to myths of the time. After the unsuccessful hunt I emptied the gun, swung it vaguely towards a dirt pile by the car, and pulled the trigger to unspring the firing pin - BLAMMO! Maybe the missing spring would have revealed how there was still a round in the chamber.
    Anyway, it's good I always used the rule to point even unloaded guns away from people (many ignore this). And it's good I ran across a couple of poor squirrels before butchering any bambi, and got so sick at the sight of wounds that I eventually became vegetarian and save a chain of deaths that way. Not that I'm sentimental about it, I just don't want that vaguely unclean feeling.
  18. caesar novus
    I got lost in Amsterdam recently, and stumbled around for hours too proud to ask for directions. I consider that good and right behavior, although it has been ridiculed as a typical male weakness. I say "has been" because maybe the issue has become mute with so many people walking with phones displaying map locations or driving with gps stuck to their windshield (doesn't this obscure vision and kill people?).
    I think finding your way on your own is a fundamental issue of your relation to the universe. If you can't do it, you must try harder to master it's principles rather than get yourself off the hook with a plea for help. Some people like to ask directions because they are needy for social interactions, and it's sort of a mutual backscratching. Fine, but do that for some issue other than navigation which needs to be mastered.
    So what benefit came from my masochistic stumbling? First note that I criss-crossed all of Amsterdam like a genius for several afternoon hours. I had a tiny cartoon map with several areas I wanted to photograph and surprised myself with the ease of finding them by just blazing a compass course based on the low sun position. After it went dark I got disoriented by the way everything is in a uniform curve like Manhattan bent in a semicircle. I took hours to find my hotel even when I knew I had gotten close.
    Well, I think the lesson is I got lazy with normal reliance on sun position (ignored the moon) or else high landmarks (ignored differences in church steeple gingerbread). I got mesmerized by the uniformity of the canals, but didn't notice there was one bigger canal with a lack of bridges that kept turning me back, but should have served as a landmark. So I lost sleep, but a lesson was learned to be more flexible for clues (or to carry a map detailed enough for the lengthy Dutch street names).
    Some might say visual navigation isn't dependable due to clouds or fog, but normally under those conditions there usually is a breeze in a consistent direction vs the random gusts kicked up by local heating. I once carried a compass to explore the backstreets of Cairo, but that wasn't needed due to their sun and landmarks. All you normally need to do is to fix in your mind a map of prominent landmarks before heading out. I never navigate in the sense of a word problem - "second left then right" type of thing just means you are totally lost when you miss or can't take one turn.
    Anyway, that is my wisdom - or silliness - for the reluctance to ask directions. Actually I did ask a very rare directional question on a previous brief stopover in Amsterdam. A young women was tagging along who was on our tour group into Africa, and exuded delicate sensibilities that I thought might be offended by us blundering into the red light district. Later I found that protectiveness was very misplaced, as she loved to go alone into African bars where glass was being smashed and no other tourists dare tread. Wouldn't it be funny if someone piped up to say "I was that women"... I await an internet reunion.