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Arghhhhh!

I do not relax well.  Having a day without obligations and distractions makes me nervous.  Today was such a day.

Sam left early in the morning, off for a school ski-trip and he’ll be gone for a week.  I knew that was happening so I was not surprised.  I figured that would give Helena and I the peace and quiet needed to go through our to do list and get caught up to date.  Then Helena told me that she was off up to the cottage.  Of course, Isabel went with her so I’m on my own for the weekend.

‘Great!’ I thought.  I will get a lot done without the distractions.  I’ll  be able to watch TV in English and eat things I like that nobody else in the family does.  Well, I did do that, but I watched a bit more TV than I should and the day was not massively productive.  I took the paper and plastic out, cleaned the rabbit’s cage, and watered the plants but most people would have had that done before breakfast.

One thing I did get done was my “Rheets 2014″ book.  This is a writing project I’ve been doing once a year for three years now.  Rheets is a scrunched up word  for rhyming tweets.  I write one every day,so at the end of the year I have a collection and I finished writing that book today and OMG the keyboard just died  in the middle  of that sentence so I hit publish, still could navigate via mouse but not type so  this is being finished Sunday morning had to call my  help desk (AKA wife).  Anyway,  the Rheets book is done, should have that up on  Kindle  soon, it’s a little summary of the past year in  rhyming couplets.

 

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A Little Bit About a Couple of Things

In the learn  something new every day department: today I learned that Brazil Nuts are not actually nuts at all, but seeds.  A whole bunch of them grow inside a hard shell that looks a bit like a coconut.  I don’t know how any birds or forest creatures manage to break them open, which must happen for them to be worth a damn as seeds and also because that’s the way nature works, everything is food for something else, but I’m guessing there must be some seriously sharp beaked birds in the Amazon rain forest.  Human beings need a hammer.

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I don’t know if Congress cozying up to Benjamin Netanyahu behind Obama’s back is technically illegal or not, certainly in the barroom debate definition of words it could be considered treason, but the thing that I don’t understand is: what the fuck is it about Israel?  I get offended when people I know (and I know a few) start in with their conspiracy theories about how Jews control the world and the Mossad did 9/11 (which I think is more plausible than Al Qaeda doing 9/11, but I still think Occam’s Razor prefers Cheney and Co.), and then we see something like this.  Somehow, for some reason, Israel has the U.S. by the balls.

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King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is dead.  This is the nice thing about death.  It happens to the nasty, horrible

What happens at Camp David  stays at Camp David

What happens at Camp David stays at Camp David

people of the world just as surely as it happens to the good people.  I don’t think his death will actually change much.  His successor has vowed “continuity and stability” which means they will continue with all the beheadings and floggings and denying rights to women and treating immigrant workers like slaves, and the U.S. government, protecting the interests of U.S. oil companies, will be behind them all the way.  It does not make sense.  Israel and Saudi Arabia.  The U.S. can’t say that both are our best friends, because they are each other’s bitterest enemies.  Yet the U.S. gives billions of dollars worth of weaponry to both of them.

I wonder if  George Bush  will go to the funeral?

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Fifi

Fifi is a rabbit

She is a lot of fun

but everywhere that Fifi goes

she poops a fucking ton

 

Yes, you read right.  We have a pet rabbit and her name is Fifi.  We’d decided on Fifi for a girl or George for a boy (“Tell me about the rabbits again, George” was what went through my mind when I heard that name, but I’m sure the film reference was totally unintentional) but then we just started calling her Fifi because we didn’t  know and I was quite relieved when the vet told us she was actually a girl and we didn’t need to change the name back.

This is not Fifi, but it looks a lot like her

This is not Fifi, but it looks a lot like her

She’s beautiful and soft and I actually  like her, although rabbits are perhaps even below cats on the giving a fuck what human beings think scale.  For the first week or so I couldn’t pick her up at all, if I got anywhere near her she would run like hell, although it’s not actually  running.  She can skitter along on those hind legs pretty well, and can hide in places we can’t get to.  Like a rat, to which I’m pretty sure rabbits are actually related.

She does poop a lot, though.  Our plan for the weekend is to get that sorted out, apparently you can give them a litter box like you would for a cat, so we’re going to try and set that up.  People think “Hey, stop complaining, it rabbit poop.  Tiny little pellets, they look like chocolate chips.  It’s not as if you have a pet elephant or anything.  Now, there you have a case.

Her other bad habit is she likes to chew at cables, which we have plenty of.  That was why my  computer suddenly bleeped out on me yesteday.

We borrowed the cable from a friend, though, and now I’m back in business.

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The Speech

Reaction’s to the State of the Union address are as predictable as rain in Seattle.  Democrats loved it.  Republicans hated it.  Democrats say that Obama came across as a champion of the people, that he appeared confident, and that he put the hecklers in their place.  This is very true.  Obama gives a great speech.  It’s what he does best.

Republicans insist (despite a world of evidence to the contrary) that he is the worst president ever, that he is ruining the country, and should be impeached immediately.

Actually, this time I think they might have some momentum going.  I’m going to go on the record right now and say I am convinced that in less than 2 years, Obama will be out of the White House and a new president will be installed.

I haven’t listened to the whole speech.  I’ve been having computer problems since last night and I’ll be lucky if I can finish this blog before it conks out again, but a few things strike me just from the excerpts and things people have said.  There was a lot of talk about income equality.  Liz Warren has had an impact.

Robert Reich wrote a really good piece on this a couple of days ago.  He pointed out that if Obama was really interested in raising taxes on the rich and giving the middle class a break, he’d have done it 6 years ago, when he had a congressional majority.  Now, with zero chance of passage, talk is cheap.

Obama will go down in history as a great president.  His accomplishments have been impressive, especially in view of the hysterical, fanatical opposition.  But he’s not nearly as great as he could have been.  I’m afraid I’ll always remember him as a disappointment.

re the Republican response from Joni Ernst: I think Democrats are making too much of the shoes wrapped in bread bags comment, just like we made too much of the pig castrating comments.  These may sound comical to people in New York and L.A., but pig farmers do castrate pigs and plenty of parents, I’m sure, have employed bread wrappers as galoshes.  It looks stupid but it works.

Joni Ernst is crazy, she is every bit as delusional as Michele Bachmann.  We have plenty of real reasons to criticize her without focusing on sound bites which sound crazy but, to her audience, are not at all.

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Fox v. France

Fox News lies.  That’s a plain, cold fact.  Well over half of their regular viewers believe that weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq whereas, in fact, they were not.  They mislabel countries on maps, they identify congresspeople with a D rather than an R if, as so often happens, they are an R who is involved in a scandal, and they call people ‘experts’ who are, in fact, just loudmouths with an ax to grind.paris

Generally, nobody calls them on it.  Liberals just shrug and say “Eh, there goes Fox News lying again” and conservatives actually think they are telling the truth.  They get away with it because lying is not, in fact, illegal.  It is totally covered in the concept of ‘free speech.’

Slander, however, is illegal.  Or libel.  I always get those two confused because it seems to me an irrelevant distinction.  One is spoken and one is in print, but either way it is the crime of lying, and damaging somebody’s reputation by lying.  Also, I’m not sure where Fox News sits on that spectrum.  They are not print media but, they speak to millions of people at a time, and their words do get written down and spread around in print.  They are like a virus that can be transmitted in more than one way.

So, finally, somebody is suing their lying asses, and it’s not just some random Democratic congressman.  It’s the city of Paris.  Fox said that some neighborhoods of the city were off limits to non-Muslims, which is obvious bullshit to most normal people, but Fox viewers would probably believe it.  ‘France’ and ‘Muslims’ are both foreign, so it makes sense.

I don’t know how this is going to work out.  A foreign municipality suing an American network raises all sorts of questions of jurisdiction and which laws to apply, but it’s going to be fun to watch.  I hope they ask for a gazillion dollars, and win.

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Monday

People go on and on about how much they hate Monday, they want to shoo-oo-oo-oot the whole day down, they say Thank God it’s Friday but Oh, Shit it’s Monday, and I can understand the sentiment, lots of people have jobs they hate and plenty of people who have jobs they don’t totally hate still love to complain about them because people love to bitch, they actually seem to derive pleasure from complaining about their misery.

But, since I have an unconventional job, I have an unconventional schedule and Monday’s a pretty good day for me.  My first class (and today, the only one) is about two minutes from my flat, an undemanding conversational lesson with a pleasant and very attractive young lady in her office.  What better way to enjoy the first cup of coffee of the work week and ease into it?

Then, I had to go to the courthouse out at Prazskeho Povstani to get that little piece of paper which confirms that I’m not a convicted felon and have never been in prison, because one school where I teach is demanding it.  I thought that was going to be a huge pain in the ass because, when I arrived here in ’98, it was.  Hundreds of people milling around outside, at least a two hour wait, and grumpy clerks who would find some reason, any reason, to make you come back.

But, the Czech Republic has changed.  It was quick, it was efficient, it took about two minutes.

At home, I got a little bit of work done on my next book, a collection of very short poetry, but not much.  Mostly, I just read a book called  “The Thirteenth Step: Zombie Recovery,” by Michele Miller.   Normally, I wouldn’t bother with a zombie novel, but since it was just 99 cents on kindle and the author is my cousin, I went for it. But I really enjoyed it. The characters were interesting and varied, the scenes were vivid, the dialogue felt genuine, and the action was fast paced. Thumbs up all around.

I read it on the Metro on the way to pick up Isabel for her ballet lesson, read it while I waited for her, and then finished it after I got home.  The baseball bats were swinging and the zombies heads exploding all over the place.  Very satisfying.

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On Beyond Pluto

It’s amazing how much we know, and it’s amazing how little we know.  We have discovered over a thousand exoplanets, we have seen to the edge of the universe (or, at any rate, this universe), and we’ve got robots crawling all over the surface of Mars.  (cool story from yesterday: one that was sent up in 2003,  The Beagle, but lost contact immediately and was presumed dead, has been found, by a more recent robot, and may even be reparable).

This is what one of them might look like, if either of them actually exist

This is what one of them might look like, if either of them actually exist

Yet, up to a couple of years ago, we considered Pluto a planet.  Now, scientists say  there might  be two (not one, but two!) planets in our Solar System out beyond Pluto.  We haven’t seen them because they were hidden behind Pluto.  So, it’s not a planet – it’s the smudge on the lens.

I don’t really understand how scientists have figured this out – just because you can’t see something, doesn’t mean that it’s actually there.  But, they’re a smart bunch of folks, so their guesses are a lot better than mine.  Not only do they figure that there are two more planets out there, they reckon they are approximately the same size  as Earth, which means they are likely rocky planets like Earth, and not gas giants like Jupiter or Saturn.

No chance of life as we know it, of course.  Well outside of the Goldilocks zone.  There might be ice, though, and they might be potential refuelling stations for the ships we’re eventually going to send on interstellar voyages.

I just hope if they find them, they give them cool names.  I’ve always remembered the planets by the mnemonic “My very eager mother just served us nine pizzas,” which doesn’t work without Pluto.  Maybe give us a V and a T, and she can serve us nine vodka tonics.  For example.

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