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Archive for March, 2014

Me, after this weekend

Me, after this weekend

 

Of course, I’ve had worse stretches of days, but this has been among the worst in a good while.

The plan had been to take last Wednesday and Thursday off to…

a) Get my boss to stop nagging me to take time off (we can only accumulate so much);
b) Take advantage of the quiet intersession period at UCLA and the Friday state holiday;
c) And just to do things that I’d like to do, instead of what I have to do, and enjoy a five-day weekend.

Silly me.

Instead, what happened was:

I got sick for the first three days with a miserable cold. Only started getting better yesterday.

Got turned down for an apartment I wanted because I don’t make enough money, even though it’s less expensive than where I live. As you can imagine, I enjoy being told that, at age 55, I’m too poor to live in a distinctly average apartment, and I want to thank my employers, the UCLA Library System. While you hire more and more upper management, staff aren’t paid enough to live on their own in decent surroundings. Love you, too.

That rejection, of course, happened after I paid $635 for a deposit and credit check fee. I’ve been promised the $600 deposit back, but the credit check fee is “iffier.” If they had already started the check, then I’m S.O.L. Considering only less than an hour went by between my application and learning I’m too much of a peasant for them, I had better be refunded that, too.

Oh, and —yay me!!— I lost my Kindle Fire. (Pause. Heavy sigh.) Yes, you read that right. Sometime Saturday, while shopping at either Costco or the Albertson’s next door, I must have become distracted and left it in the cart or on the counter. Called them, but neither lost and found had it. If the apartment failure was embarrassing, this one is heartbreaking. That was a gift from a friend, and anyone who knows me knows how attached I was to it. It literally went almost everywhere with me. And now I’ve stupidly lost it. I’ve de-registered it, so no one can buy stuff on my account, but I really hadn’t planned on the expense of buying a new one — oh, and a new over-priced case, too.

(Secretly, I blame the late, lamented Notespark synched notepad applet and Apple computers. If Notespark hadn’t gone out of business, I could still have used it for my shopping lists, instead of Evernote. And if Apple hadn’t made my iPod Touch obsolete with its iOS upgrades, then I could have used Evernote on my iPod Touch, which can be slipped into my shirt pocket, instead of my Kindle Fire, which has to be placed in the basket while shopping. And then forgotten. See? It’s not my fault.)

Like I told a friend, if this keeps up, I may start to get cranky.

As it is, the weekend has a few hours to go. I wonder what else can happen?

I’d better not ask.

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At least until he decides to invade the neighbor’s fish pond:

And his bunker is under the ugly pink fake-coral castle his owner bought at Petco…

Edit: Sometimes the tweet and picture show up, sometimes not. Usually embedding works better than this.

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Yachting, Titan-style

Yachting, Titan-style

Okay, so trying to catch some rays from a distant, faint sun on the shore of a hydrocarbon sea on a freezing moon doesn’t sound like all that much fun (at least, not to an Earthman…), but the announcement that scientists may have discovered waves on the seas and lakes of Saturn’s moon Titan does spur the imagination:

Now, after years of searching, Nature reports that NASA’s Cassini scientists think they may finally have spotted waves cresting on the seas of Titan. If confirmed, this would be the first discovery of ocean waves beyond Earth.

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft spied several unusual glints of sunlight off the surface of Punga Mare in the 2012 and 2013 flybys. Those reflections may come from tiny ripples, no more than 2 centimeters high, that are disturbing the otherwise flat ocean, says Jason Barnes, a planetary scientist at the University of Idaho in Moscow.

(…)

Researchers expect more waves to appear in the next few years, because winds are anticipated to pick up as Titan’s northern hemisphere — where most of its seas are located — emerges from winter and approaches spring.

There’s been a proposal for a seaborne “lander” to go to Titan for an initial exploration of its “waters,” but the project was beaten out by the Mars Lander. Seems kind of silly we couldn’t do both. Besides, imagine the reaction to the last images from the “Mare Explorer,” as a Titanian whale swallows it whole.

Yes!

Let’s do this, NASA.

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This little girl in Kyrgyzstan absolutely has to grow up to be a great conductor — she has all the moves down. The setting was a Baptist church, perhaps during choir practice. Just watch:

From the article at Kloop, which I gather is a Kyrgyz site. Translation by Google:

The video sealed, like a little girl conducting the choir at a Baptist church in Bishkek. Child won the hearts of American viewers who were amazed by her improvisation.

Video for this moment gathered over half a million views on the popular video service YouTube, and its heroine – a little girl – hit the U.S. media.

About her story made ​​TV channel NBC (where the leading could not pronounce the name of the country) and wrote popular blogs in the world , “Huffington Post” and “Gouker”  (“Gawker”). 

“Despite her age, she conducts with passion and drama that you may have never seen,” – writes in his article “The Huffington Post”.

What a charmer. If she doesn’t go to musics school, it will be a crime.

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"Your sommelier"

“Local postmaster?”

What makes this special is that the letter was written by a Roman soldier to his family in Egypt, over 1,800 years ago:

A newly deciphered letter home dating back around 1,800 years reveals the pleas of a young Egyptian soldier named Aurelius Polion who was serving, probably as a volunteer, in a Roman legion in Europe.

In the letter, written mainly in Greek, Polion tells his family that he is desperate to hear from them and that he is going to request leave to make the long journey home to see them.

Addressed to his mother (a bread seller), sister and brother, part of it reads: “I pray that you are in good health night and day, and I always make obeisance before all the gods on your behalf. I do not cease writing to you, but you do not have me in mind,” it reads.

“I am worried about you because although you received letters from me often, you never wrote back to me so that I may know how you …” (Part of the letter hasn’t survived.)

(The back of the letter contains instructions for the carrier to deliver it to a military veteran whose name may have been Acutius Leon who could forward it to Polion’s family. Although the Roman Empire had a military postal system, Polion appears not to have used it The back of the letter contains instructions for the carrier to deliver it to a military veteran whose name may have been Acutius Leon who could forward it to Polion’s family. Although the Roman Empire had a military postal system, Polion appears not to have used it, entrusting the veteran instead.)

Polion says he has written six letters to his family without response, suggesting some sort of family tensions.

Change the religious and other references to modern-day terms, and this letter could have been written by a worried American anywhere around the world. I’ve often said that people haven’t changed all that much since civilization began around 6,000 years ago, and I think this letter is more evidence of that. Though the letter apparently reached his family (it was discovered in the ruins of a Roman-era Egyptian village), there’s nothing to indicate if Aurelius Polion ever heard back.

I’d like to think he eventually did get that letter from home.

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My new best friend

My new best friend

Well, for TV shows and movies, that is. I came to the decision more than a year ago that, while TWC provided good service, they were just charging way more than I wanted to pay. I was paying for more than 200 channels, but watched only five or six with any regularity. Seems kind silly to subsidize the rest, no? But, being a NFL football addict —and my 49ers are good, again!!— it was hard to cut back to Internet only. I mean, I could catch the shows I like through streaming services or their web sites, but… football. (Said in a slack-jawed, caveman voice.) Then I did the math and realized I could save $85-$90 per month.

Football isn’t worth that much to me.

So, yesterday I “downgraded” my service and returned the DVR box to my local TWC office. And the choice to do so is no reflection on Time-Warner; I’ve had almost nothing but great service from them. And there was no hard sell yesterday to keep me, just a couple of offers and then making the change I asked. Returning the equipment was no questions asked, out in ten minutes, tops. So, well-done, TW.

My replacement is the Roku streaming video box pictured above. Because my TV is older (no HDMI), I had to get a switcher box so I could also connect the DVD player to the TV, but, overall, the set up, both physical and online, was very easy. Video playback and sound is excellent, and I’m impressed with the breadth of channel offerings. (1) I’m now linked to my Amazon Instant Video and Cloud Player accounts, so I can keep current with the shows I watch (2), paying only for them and not for channels I’d never watch.

So far, I’m very happy with the change.

Now all I need is a live streaming option for the NFL…

Notes:
1. Okay, some are on the level of public-access cable, but, you never know when you’ll find a gem. I mean, I found a channel for military miniatures enthusiasts! How cool is that?
2. Currently: Grimm, Justified, The Americans, Person of Interest, Sherlock, The Black List, and Covert Affairs

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