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Alvin Stearns has been at 1 events

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Ryan Van Sickle782,264ON AIR Hangout Concert  Tuesday, August 7th @ 8PM ESTRyan Van Sickle Pre NYC HIRL2 Hangout CONCERT w/ Matthew Rappaport2012-08-08 02:00:0027  

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Activity

Average numbers for the latest posts (max. 50 posts, posted within the last 4 weeks)

7
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Top posts in the last 50 posts

Most comments: 42

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2015-08-08 19:57:11 (42 comments, 0 reshares, 28 +1s)Open 

Windows 10 killed my PC.  

So, how am I making this entry from my PC?  After 27 years of putting up with Microsoft operating systems, I'm exploring the world of Ubuntu.  Which I don't truly understand, except that it's a family, a universe of open source operating systems.  To my mind, it's the operating system for those who know computers and know what they're doing.  So, not me.  

I got the one called Mint just because I like the name.  Mint.  I like mint, the plant.  I grow lots of it.  Now Mint is on my PC.

I've been at this whole operation since last night.  Backed up my files--thank goodness.  That took six hours and I fell asleep during it.  This morning I took MS's suggestion and tried to load Windows 10.  Kept getting an error message.  So, I tried a clean install.  That wiped out any recognizable OS on my machine. Fraaaak you, M... more »

Most reshares: 9

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2015-07-19 22:49:45 (10 comments, 9 reshares, 48 +1s)Open 

We should all be doing so well at their age.  And, neither of them has much business being that well at their ages, given their histories.  Heh.  Which they comment upon in another song off this album, "Live This Long.'

Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard, Django and Jimmie (2015)
"It's All Going To Pot"

Most plusones: 65

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2015-08-18 14:37:12 (40 comments, 0 reshares, 65 +1s)Open 

Annie and I are home from the vet surgery.  The news is not good.

Annie's problem is not the ligament.  It's cancer.  In the bone.  Which has likely spread since the moment it became evident she had a problem.  So, there's nothing surgically or medically to do for her.  Except to enjoy my dog, let her enjoy her time.  Hang out.  Let her eat all the grass she wants and not mind when she vomits it up--on the carper--just be a dog.  Manage whatever comes.  Until it's time.

Could be tomorrow.  Could be weeks, or months.  There's no way to predict the course of it.

I came home with pain medications, which right now she doesn't need.  We visited a neighbor on the way back.  I phoned the other neighbors, so they'll know.  The husband knows, he's at work.  Later today I'll take her next door to visit with her German Shepherdbuddies--the ne... more »

Latest 50 posts

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2015-08-25 01:17:34 (1 comments, 0 reshares, 1 +1s)Open 

"Evidence" (2013) would have played better as a 15 minute segment in a "V/H/S" sequel.  A decent twisty ending is undone by the 90 minutes of shaky camera to get there.

Has that guy from "True Blood."  Oh, and that woman from "True Blood," too.

Now shakily showing on North American Netflix.

//

"Evidence" (2013) would have played better as a 15 minute segment in a "V/H/S" sequel.  A decent twisty ending is undone by the 90 minutes of shaky camera to get there.

Has that guy from "True Blood."  Oh, and that woman from "True Blood," too.

Now shakily showing on North American Netflix.

//___

2015-08-24 22:23:08 (1 comments, 0 reshares, 12 +1s)Open 

I have, despite the horrid spring, red corn!

I'll show you later.  I pulled one ear, shucked it, and Annie and I ate it up.  It's very good, not too sweet, a nice bite to it.  I'd plant that again.

There won't be much of it, alas.  Reference the horrid spring.  But, I will share what I've got.

Also, there are more blueberries ready, so if you like blueberries, feel free.  Annie and I won't get to that tonight.

I have, despite the horrid spring, red corn!

I'll show you later.  I pulled one ear, shucked it, and Annie and I ate it up.  It's very good, not too sweet, a nice bite to it.  I'd plant that again.

There won't be much of it, alas.  Reference the horrid spring.  But, I will share what I've got.

Also, there are more blueberries ready, so if you like blueberries, feel free.  Annie and I won't get to that tonight.___

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2015-08-24 13:37:58 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 3 +1s)Open 

Change the ear worm.

I got eyes in my backside 
That see electric tomatoes 
On credit card rye bread 

A better Monday morning Bowie ear worm, "Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed," (1969).  Enjoy a fine penultimate August 2015 Monday, all.

//

Change the ear worm.

I got eyes in my backside 
That see electric tomatoes 
On credit card rye bread 

A better Monday morning Bowie ear worm, "Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed," (1969).  Enjoy a fine penultimate August 2015 Monday, all.

//___

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2015-08-24 13:25:54 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 2 +1s)Open 

I look at my watch, it say 9:25, and I think  
Oh, God, I'm still alive  

We should be on by now.

Ear worm, Bowie cabaret/burlesque, from a time when everything was younger and all of this introspection was just another toy.

"Time"
by David Bowie, Aladdin Sane (1973)

Time - He's waiting in the wings
He speaks of senseless things
His script is you and me, boys

Time - He flexes like a whore
Falls wanking to the floor
His trick is you and me, boy

Time - In Quaaludes and red wine
Demanding Billy Dolls
And other friends of mine
Take your time

The sniper in the brain, regurgitating drain
Incestuous and vain, 
and many other last names
I look at my watch it say 9:25 and I think 
Oh, God I'm still alive

Wesho... more »

I look at my watch, it say 9:25, and I think  
Oh, God, I'm still alive  

We should be on by now.

Ear worm, Bowie cabaret/burlesque, from a time when everything was younger and all of this introspection was just another toy.

"Time"
by David Bowie, Aladdin Sane (1973)

Time - He's waiting in the wings
He speaks of senseless things
His script is you and me, boys

Time - He flexes like a whore
Falls wanking to the floor
His trick is you and me, boy

Time - In Quaaludes and red wine
Demanding Billy Dolls
And other friends of mine
Take your time

The sniper in the brain, regurgitating drain
Incestuous and vain, 
and many other last names
I look at my watch it say 9:25 and I think 
Oh, God I'm still alive

We should be on by now

You - are not a victim
You - just scream with boredom
You - are not evicting time

Chimes - Goddamn, you're looking old
You'll freeze and catch a cold
'Cause you've left your coat behind
Take your time

Breaking up is hard, but keeping dark is hateful
I had so many dreams, 
I had so many breakthroughs
But you, my love, were kind, but love has left you 
dreamless
The door to dreams was closed. 
Your park was real dreamless
Perhaps you're smiling now, 
smiling through this darkness
But all I had to give was the guilt for dreaming

We should be on by now

//___

2015-08-24 12:58:02 (2 comments, 0 reshares, 6 +1s)Open 

Linux Mint, problem with touchpad interference during typing.  This was happening to me a lot, I'd be typing and errant brushes of my thumb would cause the cursor to jump, sometimes disastrously.

The fix:  click on "Menu" and then choose "Preferences."  Next, select "Assistive Technologies Preferences."  Next, "Mouse Accessibility."  On that window, "Mouse Preferences," choose "Touchpad."  Finally, select "Disable touchpad while typing."

You're done.  Anytime you're typing, you touchpad will not accept signals.  Stop typing, and you can resume touchpad use.

Usually it's these simple things that make life easier and pleasanter.

//

Linux Mint, problem with touchpad interference during typing.  This was happening to me a lot, I'd be typing and errant brushes of my thumb would cause the cursor to jump, sometimes disastrously.

The fix:  click on "Menu" and then choose "Preferences."  Next, select "Assistive Technologies Preferences."  Next, "Mouse Accessibility."  On that window, "Mouse Preferences," choose "Touchpad."  Finally, select "Disable touchpad while typing."

You're done.  Anytime you're typing, you touchpad will not accept signals.  Stop typing, and you can resume touchpad use.

Usually it's these simple things that make life easier and pleasanter.

//___

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2015-08-23 11:38:29 (9 comments, 2 reshares, 35 +1s)Open 

Tonight is the premiere of Fear the Walking Dead.

Support American-made horror television programming by tuning in to AMC tonight.

Murica!

Tonight is the premiere of Fear the Walking Dead.

Support American-made horror television programming by tuning in to AMC tonight.

Murica!___

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2015-08-22 15:06:52 (4 comments, 0 reshares, 20 +1s)Open 

A pretty Maine Saturday. After all.

A pretty Maine Saturday. After all.___

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2015-08-22 13:44:41 (4 comments, 0 reshares, 16 +1s)Open 

Annie had thinly sliced steak, briefly sauteed in a hot iron pan.  She loves fried eggs, she got two.  The husband and I ate the same, with sliced fried tomatoes from the garden, seasoned with salt and pepper.  The husband, in addition, got nasty carbs in the form of a bagel and cream cheese.

Annie is napping.  I'll let her, for now.  Soon we go out again into the world of the gardens.  She's not a gardener, my Annie.  In many ways we are poorly matched, human and dog.  She likes to act, and to move, and to indulge her common pleasures.  I like to ponder, to deliberate, only to move when I think I understand my course.  I will bend to her nature.  She bends to mine on occasion.  We meet.

She knows things have changed, through me.  I am attentive and present, and I push away others, favoring her.  She doubts, but she enjoys it.  She responds.  She meets mynature, having ... more »

Annie had thinly sliced steak, briefly sauteed in a hot iron pan.  She loves fried eggs, she got two.  The husband and I ate the same, with sliced fried tomatoes from the garden, seasoned with salt and pepper.  The husband, in addition, got nasty carbs in the form of a bagel and cream cheese.

Annie is napping.  I'll let her, for now.  Soon we go out again into the world of the gardens.  She's not a gardener, my Annie.  In many ways we are poorly matched, human and dog.  She likes to act, and to move, and to indulge her common pleasures.  I like to ponder, to deliberate, only to move when I think I understand my course.  I will bend to her nature.  She bends to mine on occasion.  We meet.

She knows things have changed, through me.  I am attentive and present, and I push away others, favoring her.  She doubts, but she enjoys it.  She responds.  She meets my nature, having the opportunity to fully understand it.

She actually gardened a bit with me this morning.  Until a movement in the trees drew her attention.  She's a bobble head.  A lovely one.

We meet in the moments.  Meantime, it's all about her.

My world is crushed into the space of a 70 pound dog who should have been companion to one who more closely matches her nature and energies.

We do what we can.  Eternity is formed in small moments.

//___

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2015-08-22 11:21:41 (14 comments, 0 reshares, 13 +1s)Open 

God and Satan sat on a hill overlooking a plain that stretched to a smudge of hills in the northwest distance.  Below and far off the smoke still rose from God's ruined and pillaged temple.  

God was still called Yahweh then.  He would become better branded later.  He'd rise to heights of divinity not even imagined by his peers.  He'd become not only a god, but God.  The word his.  Him.  The world his.  Inseparable from the light and terror of his radiant being.

Then?  He was a god in fear of his existence.  A prideful god, he buried his face in his arm, imaging the shame of joining the pantheon of lost and forgotten gods.  How had it come to this?

Satan lay his hand upon Yahweh's shoulder.  A companionable silence between the two immortals.  The situation could not have been much worse, for both of them. Though Satan, the newer immortal,had his Plans... more »

God and Satan sat on a hill overlooking a plain that stretched to a smudge of hills in the northwest distance.  Below and far off the smoke still rose from God's ruined and pillaged temple.  

God was still called Yahweh then.  He would become better branded later.  He'd rise to heights of divinity not even imagined by his peers.  He'd become not only a god, but God.  The word his.  Him.  The world his.  Inseparable from the light and terror of his radiant being.

Then?  He was a god in fear of his existence.  A prideful god, he buried his face in his arm, imaging the shame of joining the pantheon of lost and forgotten gods.  How had it come to this?

Satan lay his hand upon Yahweh's shoulder.  A companionable silence between the two immortals.  The situation could not have been much worse, for both of them. Though Satan, the newer immortal, had his Plans B, C, and D.  He'd survive no matter what. But, he wanted to survive with Yahweh.

Though he'd not started out with Yahweh, he adored this god.  Their styles perfectly complimented each other.  An immortal could make an eternal career with this tribal god.  As long as said immortal had the constitution to play into Yahweh's singular ego.  Satan's ego allowed him particular gifts, chief among them was no feeling of being diminished alongside the ego of another.  

Of the two of them, Satan had always been the less fearful partner.  Even then, Satan knew his powers.  The more contemplative of the two, Satan understood that he needed a partner riddled with both glorious ego and crippling fear.  Hand upon Yahweh's shoulder, contemplating the gray smoke rising on the yellow air, Satan understood--I could not have asked for a better scenario.  He companionably gripped Yahweh's shoulder.

Yahweh, by contrast, was all insecurities and fears.  Also, however, he was madly glorious.  Impetuous and regal.  Utterly beautiful.  Even in his obvious weaknesses, Yahweh dazzled Satan.  Yahweh, above all gods, existed to be Satan's perfect partner in life and eternity.

Satan felt a swell of pride and quietly debated if it was pride in himself or pride in what he could become with this beaten tribal god.  What he could make of this beaten tribal god.  Was this love, or was he being merely selfish?  He inclined his head and regarded Yahweh's face half-buried in his crooked arm.  Does it matter, thought Satan. 

Satan could do better, he knew, than this one.  But, this one had something special.  Satan's perfect companion, this Yahweh.  Satan followed his instinct on some matters--he was borne of instincts and primal fears and desires and truths--and he'd never stopped loving this god. He sat upon the dusty hill, hand upon Yahweh's shoulder, and planned a future that Yahweh did not have to imagine in that moment.

Time would bring all things.

Satan had a plan.

//___

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2015-08-22 09:49:04 (2 comments, 2 reshares, 21 +1s)Open 

Oh, this is wicked.  If anybody ever did that to me I'd be furious--and then I'd laugh long and hard.

Via +Eric McIntosh 

Troll like a Pro

#trolllikeapro   #trolling  ___Oh, this is wicked.  If anybody ever did that to me I'd be furious--and then I'd laugh long and hard.

Via +Eric McIntosh 

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2015-08-21 22:52:26 (5 comments, 0 reshares, 12 +1s)Open 

Halloween is coming.

So is The Walking Dead.

But first, Fear the Walking Dead (Still a stupid title, even if the show is great.)

Summer is bloated and bursting.  Overgrown vines, tall stalks, seed heads, swelling ears of corn and squashes and gourds, and even the insects and birds seem a little exhausted by the overabundance.

We look forward to Earth's tilting.  The coming of the night, and the cool, and the frost.  Life coming down from its high, curling up for another six months of nap.

Soon it's pumpkins and dried corn stalks.  Canning everything, and jellies and jams from juicy grapes, blueberries and blackberries.  The scents of baking breads, rich soups, and roasting meats.

Barriers will thin.  Life and death will mingle, each confusing itself for the other, the one confusing the other as its fellow,passi... more »

Halloween is coming.

So is The Walking Dead.

But first, Fear the Walking Dead (Still a stupid title, even if the show is great.)

Summer is bloated and bursting.  Overgrown vines, tall stalks, seed heads, swelling ears of corn and squashes and gourds, and even the insects and birds seem a little exhausted by the overabundance.

We look forward to Earth's tilting.  The coming of the night, and the cool, and the frost.  Life coming down from its high, curling up for another six months of nap.

Soon it's pumpkins and dried corn stalks.  Canning everything, and jellies and jams from juicy grapes, blueberries and blackberries.  The scents of baking breads, rich soups, and roasting meats.

Barriers will thin.  Life and death will mingle, each confusing itself for the other, the one confusing the other as its fellow, passing in the light, curious and intimidated in the dark.  Separations dissolve.  

And everything wants to eat.

Once Orion is visible on the night of the New Moon, don't forget to start to leave out your offerings.  We're never alone.  And everything is hungry.

The image is titled "Summer's End," and it comes from artbydawn.com.  Check it out.  

//___

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2015-08-21 22:01:35 (3 comments, 1 reshares, 21 +1s)Open 

Supper for me and Annie. Rainy day, so I used the oven's broiler. Put your iron pan under the broiler for ten minutes, so it's wicked hot. Prep your steaks, then lay them out on the hot pan. For one inch cuts I broil four minutes one side, three minutes the other.

Good eats for dog and man.

Supper for me and Annie. Rainy day, so I used the oven's broiler. Put your iron pan under the broiler for ten minutes, so it's wicked hot. Prep your steaks, then lay them out on the hot pan. For one inch cuts I broil four minutes one side, three minutes the other.

Good eats for dog and man.___

2015-08-21 20:03:23 (17 comments, 0 reshares, 6 +1s)Open 

Who are the Duggars? My coworkers assumed knowledge that I don't have. I'm guessing off-brand Palins or televangelists, just from context.

Who are the Duggars? My coworkers assumed knowledge that I don't have. I'm guessing off-brand Palins or televangelists, just from context.___

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2015-08-21 01:18:09 (6 comments, 0 reshares, 6 +1s)Open 

"If there's fraud or if there's abuse, if people are bringing, pregnant women are coming in to have babies simply because they can do it, then there ought to be greater enforcement," he said.

Jeb Bush has a point.  Our nation is filled with instances where people are doing things just because they can, and those actions become abusive and contrary to public good.  Executives earning astronomically more than the lowest paid laborer in the company.  Tax breaks and massive loopholes for the wealthiest Americans and corporations.  Different standards of policing and justice depending upon one's skin color and origins.  Placing lesser value on women and the old.  Defending profits over reasonable health care, giving subsidies to the most resource-hungry and polluting industries, giving a pittance to resource- and economy- growing industries, turning children'seduca... more »

"If there's fraud or if there's abuse, if people are bringing, pregnant women are coming in to have babies simply because they can do it, then there ought to be greater enforcement," he said.

Jeb Bush has a point.  Our nation is filled with instances where people are doing things just because they can, and those actions become abusive and contrary to public good.  Executives earning astronomically more than the lowest paid laborer in the company.  Tax breaks and massive loopholes for the wealthiest Americans and corporations.  Different standards of policing and justice depending upon one's skin color and origins.  Placing lesser value on women and the old.  Defending profits over reasonable health care, giving subsidies to the most resource-hungry and polluting industries, giving a pittance to resource- and economy- growing industries, turning children's educations into a system of meaningless metrics that have nothing to do with growing an educated and useful citizenry . . .

We have let those in our society who abuse what they can do get away with doing those things for far too long.  Kudos, Next Bush, for calling a spade a spade.  Unless that's too racist, in which case call it a club or a diamond.  Unless Trump approves of the term spade, in which case "Murica!".

//___

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2015-08-21 00:06:08 (5 comments, 0 reshares, 29 +1s)Open 

Birds

This morning I woke up and decided I'd continue to pretend things.  There's a Golden Hour in the morning.  The hour after the husband leaves for work and before I leave for work.  I often shave the night before to maximize that hour.

The husband left for work, and I took Annie outside with me and we inspected the gardens.  Watered plants.  Annie mostly ate blades of tall grass poking up among the pumpkin leaves in the veggie garden.  I mostly worked.  Division of labor.  Missions being accomplished. 

While watering the morning glories growing along the kennel fence another hummingbird glided up and inspected me.  Muted green and cream in the stationary parts.  Blurry in the rest of the parts.  Zero fear of me.  Like the last time it inspected me from solar plexus to belly, moving slowly up and down on the air.  "Annie," I called. "Weirdn... more »

Birds

This morning I woke up and decided I'd continue to pretend things.  There's a Golden Hour in the morning.  The hour after the husband leaves for work and before I leave for work.  I often shave the night before to maximize that hour.

The husband left for work, and I took Annie outside with me and we inspected the gardens.  Watered plants.  Annie mostly ate blades of tall grass poking up among the pumpkin leaves in the veggie garden.  I mostly worked.  Division of labor.  Missions being accomplished. 

While watering the morning glories growing along the kennel fence another hummingbird glided up and inspected me.  Muted green and cream in the stationary parts.  Blurry in the rest of the parts.  Zero fear of me.  Like the last time it inspected me from solar plexus to belly, moving slowly up and down on the air.  "Annie," I called.  "Weirdness going on."  She barely glanced my way.  OK.  Dog is untroubled.  The hummingbird is no threat.  Then I laughed, imagining a hummingbird injury and how that would sound to my fellows on the Fire & Rescue.  My laugh scared it away where my presence did not.  It flew a zig-zag course to the west, disappearing into the pines.

I worked today.  People are tactically ignoring me or being super nice to me. I prefer to be ignored.  My boss had written me a meaningful and compassionate email.  I sighed.  OK.  He's a good man.  We mostly ignore each other.  Our preferred styles, boss to subordinate and vice versa.  I would no more openly react to his email than he would expect me to gush over the birth of his next child.  We are who we are, we do the work, and when it's time, we show appropriate interest in the other.  It was a good email.  He's a good man.

Then I drove home and collected Annie to go out.  Truck!  Super fun happy time!  Us, driving off, having adventures.  Same drive.  Same adventures.  Always new.

As we approached the border between our town and that next town, an hour before sunset, a big flock of swallows swerved in front of the truck, flying just in front of us.  I slowed a bit, waiting for them to bank left or right.  They swept a bit left, a bit right, but stayed flying in front of us.  A hundred dark torpedoes, wings blurred, in perfect formation.  We broke the town border and they continued that way until we reached the apple orchard.  Then they cut left as one and they were gone.

"Well, that was odd," I murmured to Annie.  She found the scents coming through the air vents more interesting than my words.  My words are mostly stupid, which she knows, so I rubbed her ear.  Much more productive use of my time and intentions.

We walked the college.  A piece of our usual circuit.  We saw some squirrels--best thing ever!  Now, though, I guard her excitement.  I don't squish it, I just guard it.  She's no longer allowed to leap up.  She can never again pretend to know how climb a tree to reach her nemesis.  "No, baby," I say, hugging her.  "Let's just look."  

Nearing the end of our walk, passing the science building, a crow dropped onto a pine branch, loudly cawing.  It flanked us, flying from tree branch to tree branch tracking our course.  All the while loudly cawing.  

It bothered me.  I stopped.  Annie sniffed the pavement.  I glared at the cawing crow.  "What?!" I yelled at it.  It dropped from the branch, spread its wings and flew off to the east.

Annie does well on three legs.  But, it's tiring for her.  We do just under a mile now, not our normal two+ mile course.

She's happy and in no pain today.  I got her more beef bones and she chewed one on the drive home.  I made her leave that one in the garage.  Leo is a terrible bully and would, at least, take it away from her or, at worst, attack her for it.  Beef bones indoors are a chaperoned and segregated activity.  She got the marrow, the best part, in the truck.  

Missions accomplished.  Not a bad day.  Just another day.

We can pretend anything.

//___

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2015-08-20 11:58:42 (1 comments, 1 reshares, 2 +1s)Open 

Gastropod is the latest podcast to debut on my player.  Haven't actually listened to any episodes yet, but looking forward to it.  My method of taking on a new, already well into its run podcast:  Download and listen to the latest episode and the first episode.  Doing that can tell you a lot about the evolution of a 'cast.  

I chose Gastropod because it looks like Crimes Against Food is gone forever, no new episodes.  Which I find a great shame, Gloria Lindh and Mia Steel were wonderfully chummy, lighthearted and playful in presenting their food topics. If you ever get a chance to listen to their "Erotic Foods" episode, do so.  It's the zenith in that 'cast's all-too brief and sporadic history.  I find that I like having two smart women tell me stuff about food.  So, welcome, Gastropod!

Here's the blurb on Gastropod:
Gastropodlooks at... more »

Gastropod is the latest podcast to debut on my player.  Haven't actually listened to any episodes yet, but looking forward to it.  My method of taking on a new, already well into its run podcast:  Download and listen to the latest episode and the first episode.  Doing that can tell you a lot about the evolution of a 'cast.  

I chose Gastropod because it looks like Crimes Against Food is gone forever, no new episodes.  Which I find a great shame, Gloria Lindh and Mia Steel were wonderfully chummy, lighthearted and playful in presenting their food topics. If you ever get a chance to listen to their "Erotic Foods" episode, do so.  It's the zenith in that 'cast's all-too brief and sporadic history.  I find that I like having two smart women tell me stuff about food.  So, welcome, Gastropod!

Here's the blurb on Gastropod:
Gastropod looks at food through the lens of science and history. 

Co-hosts Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley serve up a brand new episode every month, plus a bite-sized interlude and articles to tide you over in between. 

Each episode, we look at the hidden history and surprising science behind a different food and/or farming-related topic, from aquaculture to ancient feasts, from cutlery to chile peppers, and from microbes to Malbec. We interview experts, visit labs, fields, and archaeological digs, and generally have lots of fun while discovering new ways to understand the world through food. We think these stories are fascinating, and we hope you will too.

In between, we catch up on the news that caught our attention and the places and ideas we’ve been thinking about: these snack-size podcasts are a quick hit of brain candy to keep you going through the month, until our next full episode is ready.  

//___

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2015-08-20 11:01:05 (3 comments, 0 reshares, 11 +1s)Open 

Time to get up and get on with it all.

Spoke to the husband about him upgrading his somewhat-smart phone and me giving up the flip phone, both of us getting, say, Galaxy S6 phones.  He has Verizon, happy with that, maybe we can work out a two-for-one deal.  

Nature has delivered a string of lovely days, more on the way.  Time for me to finish all the work on the property, get things ready for autumn.  Meantime, the indoor work can start to be prioritized.

Today I go back to work.  I don't fix that place, I work there.  Sanely.  Do my hours, take my money and benefits, go home.  I may have some 'splainin' to do since for the first time ever in my working life I stayed home without letting anybody know it.  So, take any lumps, then get on with it.

Annie is having a normal morning, sleeping in, expecting nothing but her normal day. Let'... more »

Time to get up and get on with it all.

Spoke to the husband about him upgrading his somewhat-smart phone and me giving up the flip phone, both of us getting, say, Galaxy S6 phones.  He has Verizon, happy with that, maybe we can work out a two-for-one deal.  

Nature has delivered a string of lovely days, more on the way.  Time for me to finish all the work on the property, get things ready for autumn.  Meantime, the indoor work can start to be prioritized.

Today I go back to work.  I don't fix that place, I work there.  Sanely.  Do my hours, take my money and benefits, go home.  I may have some 'splainin' to do since for the first time ever in my working life I stayed home without letting anybody know it.  So, take any lumps, then get on with it.

Annie is having a normal morning, sleeping in, expecting nothing but her normal day.  Let's follow her lead.

I hope that you enjoy a fine day.  Here's a story about Finland considering a government-paid basic income for all of its citizens as a reform to its welfare system.  5.4 million people live in Finland.  In terms of population size, it would be like the US's Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont all deciding to do something like that.  Though, that might upset Massachusetts, which prefers to make New England's grand social statements and policies.

//___

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2015-08-18 17:06:59 (1 comments, 0 reshares, 23 +1s)Open 

We're home. That should keep Annie fed and happily gnawing for a few days. There's always more where that came from.

We had a couple of adventures in our travels. Time to slide into the afternoon.

We're home. That should keep Annie fed and happily gnawing for a few days. There's always more where that came from.

We had a couple of adventures in our travels. Time to slide into the afternoon.___

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2015-08-18 15:55:39 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 20 +1s)Open 

Hard to see, maybe, but the Field House at the college is having its roof covered in solar panels. Annie and I approve.

Hard to see, maybe, but the Field House at the college is having its roof covered in solar panels. Annie and I approve.___

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2015-08-18 14:37:12 (40 comments, 0 reshares, 65 +1s)Open 

Annie and I are home from the vet surgery.  The news is not good.

Annie's problem is not the ligament.  It's cancer.  In the bone.  Which has likely spread since the moment it became evident she had a problem.  So, there's nothing surgically or medically to do for her.  Except to enjoy my dog, let her enjoy her time.  Hang out.  Let her eat all the grass she wants and not mind when she vomits it up--on the carper--just be a dog.  Manage whatever comes.  Until it's time.

Could be tomorrow.  Could be weeks, or months.  There's no way to predict the course of it.

I came home with pain medications, which right now she doesn't need.  We visited a neighbor on the way back.  I phoned the other neighbors, so they'll know.  The husband knows, he's at work.  Later today I'll take her next door to visit with her German Shepherdbuddies--the ne... more »

Annie and I are home from the vet surgery.  The news is not good.

Annie's problem is not the ligament.  It's cancer.  In the bone.  Which has likely spread since the moment it became evident she had a problem.  So, there's nothing surgically or medically to do for her.  Except to enjoy my dog, let her enjoy her time.  Hang out.  Let her eat all the grass she wants and not mind when she vomits it up--on the carper--just be a dog.  Manage whatever comes.  Until it's time.

Could be tomorrow.  Could be weeks, or months.  There's no way to predict the course of it.

I came home with pain medications, which right now she doesn't need.  We visited a neighbor on the way back.  I phoned the other neighbors, so they'll know.  The husband knows, he's at work.  Later today I'll take her next door to visit with her German Shepherd buddies--the neighbors' yard is like Disney World to Annie, she loves it there.

I feel unhappy.  Until I look at her.  And then I just want to snatch her up and say, "Come on!"  Let's get in the truck.  Get out of here.  Let's do all those things we enjoy doing together.  While we can.

But, right now I think I'll let her nap.  She's had a busy morning, and she finally got to eat.  We had a good walk-around the property and inspected the gardens.  Sure, it's nap time.

For now.  Then we do something.  Together.

Buy steak.  We'll need lots of steak, no more dog food for Annie.  We'll go to the food store, then swing by the college to check on the squirrels.   

It's going to be a full and busy day.

//___

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2015-08-18 00:32:44 (6 comments, 0 reshares, 8 +1s)Open 

Merry Christmas!

It's safe to say that in mid-August.  It's merely out of place.  

Since it's late summer on this end of the planet and nobody is particularly sensitive right now to its out of place utterance--what's the problem with saying "Merry Christmas" to people in December?  You know, when it's Christmastime?

Responses I've heard:

I don't celebrate Christmas! 
Fine.  Don't.  I don't celebrate any number of holidays, but that doesn't stop me from graciously receiving the well-wishes of others on a day that's important to them.  Relax.  When somebody says "Merry Christmas" smile and then get on with your day.

It ignores other cultures! 
Look, Hanukkah, the Solstice and Kwanzaa are all fine celebrations.  Invite me to your parties for themplease.  ... more »

Merry Christmas!

It's safe to say that in mid-August.  It's merely out of place.  

Since it's late summer on this end of the planet and nobody is particularly sensitive right now to its out of place utterance--what's the problem with saying "Merry Christmas" to people in December?  You know, when it's Christmastime?

Responses I've heard:

I don't celebrate Christmas! 
Fine.  Don't.  I don't celebrate any number of holidays, but that doesn't stop me from graciously receiving the well-wishes of others on a day that's important to them.  Relax.  When somebody says "Merry Christmas" smile and then get on with your day.

It ignores other cultures! 
Look, Hanukkah, the Solstice and Kwanzaa are all fine celebrations.  Invite me to your parties for them please.  Saying "Merry Christmas" is not the same as saying "Your non-Christmas holiday sucks, and you suck!"  Not even close.  If you feel that other holidays are being dissed by somebody saying "Merry Christmas" when it's Christmastime, smile and reply, "Merry Christmas and Happy (fill in with the holiday you prefer)."  If the other guy then disses your holiday, then you can get all weird on him.  Otherwise, relax.  It is Christmastime, after all.

I hate Christmas! 
Sounds like a personal problem.  Examine that.  Have the sense and grace to leave others out of it.

It's a Christian holiday, and I'm not Christian.
It's a Christian holiday if you make it a Christian holiday.  Mostly, it's a mid-winter celebration of light, color and merriment in a dark and cold time.  European and Near Eastern history is rich with mid-winter holidays, stretching back to the dawn of recorded history, and likely well before then.  In fact, I'd bet, though I've not done a study of it, that mid-winter/Winter Solstice has more holidays around it than any other time in the calendar, currently and historically.  Christmas just happens to now be the dominant traditional manifestation of the human need for something to celebrate at that time of year.  One among many, but certainly dominant.  It's fine.  It's going to be OK.  Bonus:  If you want extra credit nerd points, smile at the greeting and then cheerfully point out, "And Jesus wasn't even born in December!"  Remember to smile.

Celebrate whatever you like, or nothing at all in the dark days of December.  Do try to relax and realize that somebody saying "Merry Christmas" is not meant to offend you.  It's meant to observe a time of year when people want to feel a little better during the darkest days of the year.  That's all.

Now, let's talk about Halloween and how it's a cornerstone of the Gay Agenda and Satan's Master Plan to bring about the fall of the world . . .

(The link?  It's the first thing that appears on a Google Web search of the phrase "Merry Christmas."  Don't be the guy in that story.)

//___

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2015-08-17 23:49:39 (1 comments, 0 reshares, 2 +1s)Open 

KFC got rid of Hammond's creepy, pervy Colonel.  I'm so glad.  Norm Macdonald's take on Colonel Sanders doesn't make me frightened for the children.

KFC got rid of Hammond's creepy, pervy Colonel.  I'm so glad.  Norm Macdonald's take on Colonel Sanders doesn't make me frightened for the children.___

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2015-08-17 23:19:50 (6 comments, 3 reshares, 5 +1s)Open 

Alvin's Podcast recommendations  Mostly for +Laurie Varga, but anybody can check 'em out.  It's the beauty of living in the era of podcasts!  I hope this niche of democratic and wide open social sharing, education, entertainment and information never "monetizes."  

Google any of the following . . .

Alvin likes history!   Each of these is a quality product from knowledgeable and engaging (for the most part) presenters:  
Dan Carlin's Hardcore History
The History of Rome
The British History Podcast
The History of Byzantium
The History of English Podcast
History of the Crusades podcast 
Norman Centuries, A Norman History podcast
The Angry History Show
My History Can Beat Up Your Politics
Stuff You Missed In History Class 
The Podcast History of Our World
The Ancient World When D... more »

Alvin's Podcast recommendations  Mostly for +Laurie Varga, but anybody can check 'em out.  It's the beauty of living in the era of podcasts!  I hope this niche of democratic and wide open social sharing, education, entertainment and information never "monetizes."  

Google any of the following . . .

Alvin likes history!   Each of these is a quality product from knowledgeable and engaging (for the most part) presenters:  
Dan Carlin's Hardcore History
The History of Rome
The British History Podcast
The History of Byzantium
The History of English Podcast
History of the Crusades podcast 
Norman Centuries, A Norman History podcast
The Angry History Show
My History Can Beat Up Your Politics
Stuff You Missed In History Class 
The Podcast History of Our World
The Ancient World 
When Diplomacy Fails Podcast
Rex Factor
Medieval Archives
Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean 
Philosophize This!
Celtic Myth Podshow

General interest, news and culture podcasts 
Fresh Air
The Diane Rehm Show
Radiolab from WNYC
Pop Culture Happy Hour
Invisibilia 

Science stuff  
Science Friday Audio Podcast

Horror short story fiction  
Pseudopod

Humor  
Wait!  Wait . . . Don't Tell Me
The Flop House
Oh No Ross and Carrie
Throwing Shade (NSFW)

There.  That's enough to give you something to listen to that you haven't tried yet.

//___

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2015-08-17 22:17:12 (8 comments, 0 reshares, 2 +1s)Open 

Android users who also listen to a lot of podcasts, a question for you:  What do you recommend is the best app, utility, resource, whatever to connect me my podcasts on an Android phone?  Podcasts and me are like bread 'n butter.  I listen to podcasts virtually every day of my life.  I'd like to have seamless and constant access to them once I abandon my Touch and lose my Apple "subscribe" connection to all of them.

Android users who also listen to a lot of podcasts, a question for you:  What do you recommend is the best app, utility, resource, whatever to connect me my podcasts on an Android phone?  Podcasts and me are like bread 'n butter.  I listen to podcasts virtually every day of my life.  I'd like to have seamless and constant access to them once I abandon my Touch and lose my Apple "subscribe" connection to all of them.___

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2015-08-17 11:49:05 (3 comments, 0 reshares, 10 +1s)Open 

Why the Internet exists.

To walk me through my 1,000,001 house/property projects.  This particular one is in my future.  It's time to replace some house shingles.

Why the Internet exists.

To walk me through my 1,000,001 house/property projects.  This particular one is in my future.  It's time to replace some house shingles.___

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2015-08-17 10:36:55 (8 comments, 0 reshares, 5 +1s)Open 

I'm flashing the Linux beacon into the sky

What smart phone works the best with a Linux OS?  

After all of these years I'm finally considering a smart phone.  I'd like your help in knowing which phone will best work with my OS (Linux Mint 17.1), let me load my apps, manage my music, etc.

I'm flashing the Linux beacon into the sky

What smart phone works the best with a Linux OS?  

After all of these years I'm finally considering a smart phone.  I'd like your help in knowing which phone will best work with my OS (Linux Mint 17.1), let me load my apps, manage my music, etc.___

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2015-08-16 22:43:02 (26 comments, 1 reshares, 19 +1s)Open 

Do you have a traditional style of birthday cake?  When I was a child, I and my siblings each had his or her style of birthday cake.  My cake was always a white cake with white frosting.  I have no idea why, or how that started.  It was just "my birthday cake."

I don't insist on many things in life, and I detest sentiment.  But, I stick true to my cake.  Actually, it's delicious, a white cake with white frosting.  And it's mine, my birthday cake.  I don't insist on it, I never did.  I can have a birthday pass with no observances and I'm fine.  But, if you're going to insist upon a cake, then make it my cake, or I won't recognize it.

What about you?  Any cake traditions?

(Also, I think I may have brought up this topic here before.  I don't remember.  If so, apology.  And, respond anyway.)

Do you have a traditional style of birthday cake?  When I was a child, I and my siblings each had his or her style of birthday cake.  My cake was always a white cake with white frosting.  I have no idea why, or how that started.  It was just "my birthday cake."

I don't insist on many things in life, and I detest sentiment.  But, I stick true to my cake.  Actually, it's delicious, a white cake with white frosting.  And it's mine, my birthday cake.  I don't insist on it, I never did.  I can have a birthday pass with no observances and I'm fine.  But, if you're going to insist upon a cake, then make it my cake, or I won't recognize it.

What about you?  Any cake traditions?

(Also, I think I may have brought up this topic here before.  I don't remember.  If so, apology.  And, respond anyway.)___

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2015-08-16 14:01:21 (2 comments, 0 reshares, 14 +1s)Open 

Trivia of the Gods

We all know the name Thor. Most of us know he's a Marvel comic book character based upon a god in the Norse/Germanic pantheon.  Some of us know he was a son of Odin.  

God geeks and practicing Saxon pagans know he was called Thunor by the Saxons who emigrated to Britain in the 5th century.  That name survives in English in the words Thursday and thunder.  

Etymologically, the name Thor ultimately derives from an ancient Indo-European word for a great noise; e.g., thunder.  The name Thor/Thunor, etc. comes from the same source.  It's like giving an electrician the nickname Sparky.  

In Latin, that same Indo-European root created the word tonare, which means to thunder.  Forms of it also existed/exist in languages from Persia to Ireland.  So, from a common ancient source an idea became a word, the word went forth in dozensof ancie... more »

Trivia of the Gods

We all know the name Thor. Most of us know he's a Marvel comic book character based upon a god in the Norse/Germanic pantheon.  Some of us know he was a son of Odin.  

God geeks and practicing Saxon pagans know he was called Thunor by the Saxons who emigrated to Britain in the 5th century.  That name survives in English in the words Thursday and thunder.  

Etymologically, the name Thor ultimately derives from an ancient Indo-European word for a great noise; e.g., thunder.  The name Thor/Thunor, etc. comes from the same source.  It's like giving an electrician the nickname Sparky.  

In Latin, that same Indo-European root created the word tonare, which means to thunder.  Forms of it also existed/exist in languages from Persia to Ireland.  So, from a common ancient source an idea became a word, the word went forth in dozens of ancient languages, the proto-Germans made a god from the word, the word coalesced, recombined, blended across languages and cultures, leading to us and to Hollywood inflicting upon us multiple big budget movies starring a beefy Aussie.   

Finally, it seems that some warrior pagans hedged their religious bets by wearing decoration that could be a Christian cross in one orientation or Thor's hammer in another.  Warriors are ever-practical.  They will always go with the god who shows up.

//___

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2015-08-16 13:19:37 (3 comments, 0 reshares, 12 +1s)Open 

How to find out what graphics card you are running using a Linux OS:  Full disclosure, I am running Mint 17.1 Rebecca.

Cut and paste this into your Terminal, then hit Enter:

lspci | grep VGA

Now you can read what card you're using.

Next, what drivers are you running for your card? 

If the results above show an Nvidia brand card, enter this into Terminal and hit Enter:

lsmod | grep nv

If the results above show an ATI brand card, enter this into Terminal and hit Enter:

lsmod | grep radeon

You should now see the active driver(s).  Anyway, you'll see a bunch of letters combined into words that give meanings to those who understand all of that stuff.

Yeah, I'm a little foggy from this point on.  I need to learn more about how Linux works with drivers, how to best load andcon... more »

How to find out what graphics card you are running using a Linux OS:  Full disclosure, I am running Mint 17.1 Rebecca.

Cut and paste this into your Terminal, then hit Enter:

lspci | grep VGA

Now you can read what card you're using.

Next, what drivers are you running for your card? 

If the results above show an Nvidia brand card, enter this into Terminal and hit Enter:

lsmod | grep nv

If the results above show an ATI brand card, enter this into Terminal and hit Enter:

lsmod | grep radeon

You should now see the active driver(s).  Anyway, you'll see a bunch of letters combined into words that give meanings to those who understand all of that stuff.

Yeah, I'm a little foggy from this point on.  I need to learn more about how Linux works with drivers, how to best load and configure drivers.  But, at least I got this far.  Sharing this little journey in case it's of use to anybody.  I did the above steps and nothing awful happened.  It's all informational work, you're not changing anything on the OS doing the above.___

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2015-08-14 23:01:30 (19 comments, 0 reshares, 19 +1s)Open 

This has been a trying week.  Work is spirit crushing.  That's nothing new.  It crushed harder this week.  

My dog is broken and goes in for surgery next week.  Her spirits are high and she's already expert at running around on three legs.  I hug her and say, "Whether the surgery works or not, you do great on three legs."

One of my dear neighbors is ill.  On the the other side of me, a neighbor is turning 50.  Multiple trips to the emergency room with party plan in between.  

This morning before heading to work I helped a neighbor by explaining some documents for sale of a property.  A car broke down in front of his house.  A man started pushing the car into my neighbor's driveway.  My neighbor lost it.  Burst out the door yelling for the guy to get his car out of his driveway, that it's private property (cleaned up version).  Iwas shocked. ... more »

This has been a trying week.  Work is spirit crushing.  That's nothing new.  It crushed harder this week.  

My dog is broken and goes in for surgery next week.  Her spirits are high and she's already expert at running around on three legs.  I hug her and say, "Whether the surgery works or not, you do great on three legs."

One of my dear neighbors is ill.  On the the other side of me, a neighbor is turning 50.  Multiple trips to the emergency room with party plan in between.  

This morning before heading to work I helped a neighbor by explaining some documents for sale of a property.  A car broke down in front of his house.  A man started pushing the car into my neighbor's driveway.  My neighbor lost it.  Burst out the door yelling for the guy to get his car out of his driveway, that it's private property (cleaned up version).  I was shocked.  I gripped my neighbor's shoulder and asked him to go finish up his documents.  I approached the car and helped the woman behind the wheel and the man pushing it get it safely on the side of the road.  Saw a little boy, maybe five or six, in the back seat.  Sighed.  Great.  A starring role in one of that little guy's scarring life events.  I gave him a reassuring smile and a thumbs up.  He sank into the seat.

I left for work.  Bad news, difficult people, and I was the last one out of the door on a Friday afternoon of one of the prettiest days all summer.

My broken dog and I went out back and cut some sunflowers for the ill neighbor.  I took a few over to the neighbors on the other side, she likes sunflowers too.  Gave the rest of the sunflowers to the husband to take up.  Even ten minutes alone and quiet will go a long way right now.

Tonight is an EMT duty night.  Dreading it. Bad week.  New Moon.  I'm tired.  I think I'll play Civilization, doze off with "Big Bang Theory" episodes playing, and hope that everybody stays safe and healthy through the night.

Wake up tomorrow.  Moon waxing, the height of late summer, the gardens exploding--hope for a change in mood and tone.  Try to influence the change as best I can.

How was your week?  Better, I hope.  Sorry for being a bit of a downer right now.  Everything changes, though.  That's the trick.  Hang on long enough and everything changes.

//___

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2015-08-14 22:36:37 (5 comments, 1 reshares, 3 +1s)Open 

I need a recording of "Fun For Everyday With Little Johnny Everything And His Sister Judy" (1958).  It's a sentimental thing for somebody.  I'd never heard of it until today.  It's not easy to find.  If you get a line on it, let me know.  Thanks!  LP record or digital file(s), all good.

Johnny:  "Don't be stupid, Judy!  Khrushchev can denounce Stalin all he wants, he's still a dirty Red."

Judy:  "Oh, Johnny, don't be so jejune!"

The flat dangling chimp symbolically foreshadows future US foreign policy in Southeast Asia and Johnny's tragic addiction following injury in Vietnam.

//

I need a recording of "Fun For Everyday With Little Johnny Everything And His Sister Judy" (1958).  It's a sentimental thing for somebody.  I'd never heard of it until today.  It's not easy to find.  If you get a line on it, let me know.  Thanks!  LP record or digital file(s), all good.

Johnny:  "Don't be stupid, Judy!  Khrushchev can denounce Stalin all he wants, he's still a dirty Red."

Judy:  "Oh, Johnny, don't be so jejune!"

The flat dangling chimp symbolically foreshadows future US foreign policy in Southeast Asia and Johnny's tragic addiction following injury in Vietnam.

//___

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2015-08-13 14:09:49 (4 comments, 0 reshares, 5 +1s)Open 

A friend sent me this in retaliation for an ear worm I gave to her.  So cute.

A friend sent me this in retaliation for an ear worm I gave to her.  So cute.___

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2015-08-12 01:12:08 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 2 +1s)Open 

Keep telling yourself:  Tomorrow will be a better day.

The Static Speaks My Name is a free game for Linux, Mac, and PC.  It's a one-time experience that takes about ten minutes to play.  If you're depressed, highly impressionable, or have emotional triggers around obsession, kidnapping or suicide, don't play it.  If you like freaky experiences that make you mutter at the end, "Whoa. What just happened?" then do play this game.

Oh, and if you don't want it spoiled, don't read any reviews.  Just dive in.

//

Keep telling yourself:  Tomorrow will be a better day.

The Static Speaks My Name is a free game for Linux, Mac, and PC.  It's a one-time experience that takes about ten minutes to play.  If you're depressed, highly impressionable, or have emotional triggers around obsession, kidnapping or suicide, don't play it.  If you like freaky experiences that make you mutter at the end, "Whoa. What just happened?" then do play this game.

Oh, and if you don't want it spoiled, don't read any reviews.  Just dive in.

//___

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2015-08-11 21:58:09 (2 comments, 0 reshares, 35 +1s)Open 

Chicken is ready.

Chicken is ready.___

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2015-08-11 19:32:40 (2 comments, 0 reshares, 23 +1s)Open 

It's rainy, windy, cool August day in Maine. Perfect afternoon to roast a chicken--and clever me got one on sale earlier.

It's rainy, windy, cool August day in Maine. Perfect afternoon to roast a chicken--and clever me got one on sale earlier.___

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2015-08-11 19:05:44 (3 comments, 1 reshares, 7 +1s)Open 

Fixed my game graphics problem.  With help from the Community.  

OK, gang.  If you're Linux stoopid like me, and you are running Steam, and your copy of Left For Dead 2 appears as all or mostly black screen?  Try this:

Open Terminal (it's a selection on bottom left);
Cut and paste this into your terminal screen: 
sudo apt-get install libtxc-dxtn-s2tc0 libtxc-dxtn-s2tc0:i386
Hit Enter.
Let the bugger load.
Restart Steam, select Left For Dead 2, let it load.

You might be just fine now.

Still no solution for running Sid Meier's Pirates! on Linux.  But, that's not entirely a Linux/Steam problem.  Sid Meier's Pirates! is long in the tooth now and it's having install/play issues across multiple operating systems.  Still, if any Linux Mint 17 gurus have a solution, I'd love to learn of it.  It's afantasti... more »

Fixed my game graphics problem.  With help from the Community.  

OK, gang.  If you're Linux stoopid like me, and you are running Steam, and your copy of Left For Dead 2 appears as all or mostly black screen?  Try this:

Open Terminal (it's a selection on bottom left);
Cut and paste this into your terminal screen: 
sudo apt-get install libtxc-dxtn-s2tc0 libtxc-dxtn-s2tc0:i386
Hit Enter.
Let the bugger load.
Restart Steam, select Left For Dead 2, let it load.

You might be just fine now.

Still no solution for running Sid Meier's Pirates! on Linux.  But, that's not entirely a Linux/Steam problem.  Sid Meier's Pirates! is long in the tooth now and it's having install/play issues across multiple operating systems.  Still, if any Linux Mint 17 gurus have a solution, I'd love to learn of it.  It's a fantastic game, still.

The link is to the page where I found my code solution for Left For Dead in Steam for Linux Mint.

//___

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2015-08-11 13:39:09 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 1 +1s)Open 

I'm putting together a new playlist.  I compulsively collect free tracks and albums off the Internet.  The problem is that only a few times a year do I actually collect some of that stuff into playlists and listen to a fraction of it.  

This song, NONONO's "Pumpin Blood," is from a 2013 EP.  I listened to it and thought, wait, I've heard this, but where?  Looked it up, it was used on an episode of "Suburgatory," a now-defunct American sitcom that I liked and watched.  (Miss you, Dalia!)

The song has a ridiculously catchy pacing and hook.  A bit of musical fluff with a fine message summed up in the phrase, "You're a catalyst to your own happiness, you know?"

Maybe you'd like it too.  Something to add that playlist for cleaning the house or finally leveling those patio pavers before the arctic blastsreturn.... more »

I'm putting together a new playlist.  I compulsively collect free tracks and albums off the Internet.  The problem is that only a few times a year do I actually collect some of that stuff into playlists and listen to a fraction of it.  

This song, NONONO's "Pumpin Blood," is from a 2013 EP.  I listened to it and thought, wait, I've heard this, but where?  Looked it up, it was used on an episode of "Suburgatory," a now-defunct American sitcom that I liked and watched.  (Miss you, Dalia!)

The song has a ridiculously catchy pacing and hook.  A bit of musical fluff with a fine message summed up in the phrase, "You're a catalyst to your own happiness, you know?"

Maybe you'd like it too.  Something to add that playlist for cleaning the house or finally leveling those patio pavers before the arctic blasts return.

"Pumpin Blood"
by NONONO

Hey ho on the road again
Moving on, forward
Sticks and stones, won't break the bones
We're in the car... on a highway

It's so magical feeling, that no one's got a hold
You're a catalyst to your own happiness, you know

Cause it's your heart, it's alive
It's pumping blood
It's your heart, it's alive
It's pumping blood
And the whole wide world is whistling
And it's whistling

Hey ho on the run again
Drive is strong, onward
Stick and stones won't take his course
Sky got the part, in the front seat

It's the best of world's feeling, like nothing can go wrong
You're the decider of the world you'll get to know

Cause it's your heart, it's alive
It's pumping blood
It's your heart, it's alive
It's pumping blood
And the whole wide world is whistling

Hey ho on the road again
On the highway, on the highway
Hey ho on the road again
On the highway, on the highway

Cause it's your heart, it's alive
It's pumping blood
And it's your heart, it's alive
It's pumping blood
And the whole wide world is whistling

And it's whistling,
And it's whistling,
And it's whistling

//___

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2015-08-10 13:23:07 (8 comments, 1 reshares, 10 +1s)Open 

Myth is not the opposite of fact.  Fiction is the opposite of fact.  While one can argue that myths are fictional, it is psychologically and emotionally healthier to keep myth as myth and let fiction stand as fact's opposite.

Why does this matter?  Because our current dominant myths treat the holy books--the Torah, the Bible and the Quran--as historically factual documents.  To be a good believer one must accept as historical facts all of the characters, events, and statements made in those books.

The result is that we live in a strangely isolated era in human history where most cannot even consider an alternative to the argument that if it's not all completely true, then it's all worthless.  We don't know how to experience a myth, much less abundantly live with one.  We live in a kind of Myth 101 phase of spirituality, but within a complex and rationalworld... more »

Myth is not the opposite of fact.  Fiction is the opposite of fact.  While one can argue that myths are fictional, it is psychologically and emotionally healthier to keep myth as myth and let fiction stand as fact's opposite.

Why does this matter?  Because our current dominant myths treat the holy books--the Torah, the Bible and the Quran--as historically factual documents.  To be a good believer one must accept as historical facts all of the characters, events, and statements made in those books.

The result is that we live in a strangely isolated era in human history where most cannot even consider an alternative to the argument that if it's not all completely true, then it's all worthless.  We don't know how to experience a myth, much less abundantly live with one.  We live in a kind of Myth 101 phase of spirituality, but within a complex and rational world where all of our senses and our intellect constantly bombard us with the knowledge that our myth and our experience of life are in constant conflict.

The problem is that we never stop being human.  From birth to death, we are members of a species defined by consciousness intimately tuned to mythological yearning, experience, and understanding.  Again, myth is not the opposite of fact.

I spent some time with a Christian in crisis.  She doubts her faith--a natural thing, we all have moments of spiritual crisis.  Her barrier was her psychological equipment.  She, like most, live with that religion-based either/or dichotomy.  Either a religion is all true, or it's all worthless.  And if it's all worthless, then who am I?  What matters?  What does it all mean?  That's frightening stuff.  Nothing in most of our childhoods and upbringings give us the equipment to usefully grapple with those moments.  Much less emerge spiritually refreshed.

The crisis moments come, for virtually everybody, for a reason.  Our consciousness requires more of us than creeds spoken in earnest sincerity that everything written is historically accurate, and therefore religiously fundamental--and now we're done, life's lessons complete.  Go forth and judge others, knowing that you are saved.  It's not enough.  It's not accurate, given what we know of life.  Grown up experience of life and world conflicts with what we've been told, and we reach those crisis points.

There are few sadder human animals than one who is doubting her myth--having never understood her myth--and who now starts to see the wasteland around her.  

An aside:  Try not to be a person who attacks another's myth.  State your myth, there is no need to attack another's.  At best, you come off as shrill and mean-spirited, not, as some fancy themselves in their self-justified violence, as elevated, worldly and enlightened.  At worst you may contribute to the destruction of the only thing keeping that other human on course and out of the abyss.  Have faith.  Give others the courtesy of not trying to shame them for theirs.

So, what do you do with a Judeo/Christian/Moslem believer when she opens that door and (speaking mythologically) actually lets god into the conversation?  She's going to start to immediately notice the incongruities between this god and the one she's been told is real.  She's going to start to doubt everything she's been told, which now places in jeopardy everything she's believed.  If the god of her instruction is not real, then who is this god?  Is that god at all?  Is it--gasp!--Satan?  Around and around it goes, the doubting believer running in tight little mental, emotional and spiritual circles, gasping and afraid.  Because what do these doubt say about her?  Her soul?  If there is a soul.  Doubt piling upon doubt.  "Oh, god, what do I do?"

First.  Deep breath.  

Another aside:  Breathing is so important and so frequently overlooked.  Seriously.  Breath is life.  It's one of the first things you check for as an emergency caregiver:  patient is/is not breathing, has/has no patent airway.  As an experiment, try to make yourself become conscious of your breathing now and then through the day.  How you're breathing reflects your consciousness in any given moment.  Control your breathing, begin to control your consciousness, control your life.  As an EMT some of my best medicine is to simply coach the patient's breathing.  

Next, realize that you have no magic pill for the doubting believer.  Give up any notion that you "fix" somebody, that your own ideas on the matter of belief will set right another.  I think that many of us have this fixer impulse to get rid of the problem, shut up the suffering human.  Relax.  You are one human acting out of your naturally compassionate nature for another human that is suffering.  That's quite enough.  

Also, don't panic.  You can meet this human and handle the mess.  We're all a mess anyway, so there's no fault in letting others show that now and then.  You're fine, you'll be fine.  Abandon the impulse to fix everything, meet with compassion, don't panic.

So, taking my own advice, now I have this suffering human who clenches and releases her hands, eyes constantly wandering in response to her spirit's need to find something mythologically tangible to hug and to hold onto.  I fell back on a spiritual chestnut.  I asked her, "How's your relationship with Santa Claus?"

She blinked.  I waited for it.  She became angry.  "God is not Santa Claus!"  I nodded.  Waited.  Then casually replied, "I like Santa Claus.  He's a good guy.  That whole be nice to others, don't be naughty thing."  She continued in her anger.  This would take time, but I knew that.  More time than one session at a table.  It'd taken her whole life to reach this point.  So, I relaxed and let her be angry.  "An interesting thing about Santa Claus:  we reach a point where we stop believing in him, but later some of us find ourselves becoming him for believers."

"Are you saying my faith is childish?" she challenged.  Isn't it interesting that even in the depths of our personal doubt we can still muster offense when another even hints that our belief is less than perfect and perfectly true?  I poured more coffee for both of us and replied, "I'm saying that if Santa Claus did not exist we'd probably invent him.  He's a great idea when we believe in him, and he's a great idea when we stop believing he's a man in a workshop at the North Pole and we joyfully step into his boots from time to time."

A change in perspective.  That's all I was offering.  When another believes that Heaven and Hell are true and real, that death is the start of either eternal suffering or eternal perfection in a perpetual 35-year-old body, you don't start by saying, "You know that's all bullshit, right?"  To do so would be cruel, and it would avoid an essential point.

We don't need things to be historically true for them to have real value and meaning in our lives.  When Jesus said "I and the Father are one" he was delivering a profound spiritual/psychological message.  It was so incendiary that he was politically executed for it.  When Buddha simply touched the ground in response to everything that the old ways could throw at him, he affirmed for himself and for us that the earth witnesses our being, and that not even a god may deny what earth has witnessed.  When Sam picked up Frodo and carried him the last mile to the fiery core of Mount Doom, he saved his friend and his world by simply acting out of his authentic nature.

Musing on these things, drinking coffee with a suffering other, I remembered something and chuckled.  She said, "What?"  I cleared my throat and did my best Katherine Hepburn impression:  "Nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we are put on this world to rise above."  And that character should know.  Rose, Ms. Hepburn's character, had sublimated so much of her nature that her life had become a joyless round of hymns and chasing after her weak-minded brother on his missions among the heathen natives.  All in quest of some after-life reward of--something.  Some perfection unattainable on earth.  All of nature, including one's own nature, the disgusting remnant of a fall back in the Garden of Eden when Woman bit a piece of fruit and recommended it to her husband.  When all is fallen, where is the joy in right here, right now?  It takes a monolithic god and a monolithic fact-based creed to create any sense of joy.

Until the doubt comes.  Because earth and life and nature are our experiences.  The god inside of us never leaves.  He/she/it just taps now and then.  Visits us in dreams.  Tries to tell us things that we may or may not listen to.  

I did not fix my suffering friend.  That was not my job.  Nor is it my nature to tell her to read her Bible to re-achieve untroubled faith.  I want her troubled just enough to read her Bible for itself, to love it in a new and wonderful way.  I'd like her not so troubled that she gives up and becomes a bitter human that spins out her days in wrath against everything and everybody--never realizing that she and the Father are one, never becoming affirmed in simply touching the ground, never acting out of her own nature to save another and save the world.

I think she'll be fine.  She'll either accommodate her existing religion and its god, which will give her peace.  Or, she'll have the courage to try, and the luck to achieve a change in spiritual perspective.  Let the world--as it is--explode outward and inward in all its awesomeness and purpose.  Find out that myth is not the opposite of fact.  That facts are tools: they should be cared for and properly used, and that tools must never control their user.  

And that myths help us know how to live fully human lives.  That's a fact.  Hug your myth.  Get way into it, and get over yourself.  There's so much more for you to be and do, given a chance.

I'll keep the coffee on.

//___

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2015-08-09 14:54:36 (17 comments, 6 reshares, 37 +1s)Open 

Had an odd conversation with a townsman in which he was trying to imply something and I was supposed to be able to infer his meaning.  I kept shaking my head in confusion, he kept repeating his non-statement, gesturing with his arms, as if he could push some invisible meaning into my body.  Finally I said, "Could you plainly speak, please?"  He leaned forward a bit and referred to my sexual orientation, using the most anodyne language possible that might A) give me the needed reference, and B) offer the least chance of offense.  It still took a moment for me piece together what he'd said in reference to my incidental sexual orientation.  Then I laughed and slapped his arm.

"Dude," I chuckled, "I'm gay.  You can say that to me and refer to homosexuality in topics of conversation with me.  Homosexuality is not insulting."  He ducked his head,clearly... more »

Had an odd conversation with a townsman in which he was trying to imply something and I was supposed to be able to infer his meaning.  I kept shaking my head in confusion, he kept repeating his non-statement, gesturing with his arms, as if he could push some invisible meaning into my body.  Finally I said, "Could you plainly speak, please?"  He leaned forward a bit and referred to my sexual orientation, using the most anodyne language possible that might A) give me the needed reference, and B) offer the least chance of offense.  It still took a moment for me piece together what he'd said in reference to my incidental sexual orientation.  Then I laughed and slapped his arm.

"Dude," I chuckled, "I'm gay.  You can say that to me and refer to homosexuality in topics of conversation with me.  Homosexuality is not insulting."  He ducked his head, clearly uncomfortable, but then nodded.  "Yeah, OK."

When I was a little boy American society had more open racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia, and all sorts of other forms of discrimination against its citizens.  But, I grew up in a society that also talked about all of those things.  From kitchen tables to network sitcoms, American society wrestled with discrimination and equality.  

Today?  We like to fancy ourselves a more equal society, but we are not better off now when it comes to discussing these topics.  You don't talk about race in polite society.  Women?  We've dealt with you, gender studies are taught in colleges, we can leave it there.  Homosexuality?  We can legislate that issue out of our lives and out of general discussion.  We don't talk about our society any more, about how we harm each other on the basis of age, race, gender, origin, skin color, and sexuality.  

Before, I think there was more emphasis on recognizing our differences as a way to realize that the differences are incidental.  The vast majority of our differences, as we discover by exploring them, do not disqualify any of us from participating to the fullest in American society and politics.  We are different.  It's OK to notice that.  It's better that we do notice that.  Then we find out that differences don't define our ability to participate and engage as American citizens.

What makes me American?  It's not my gender.  Or my skin color, origin, age, sexuality, etc.  I'm American because I share a common set of ideals and values that make up a distinctly American vision of how humans may live together.  None of those ideals and values include exclusions based on any of the discrimination discussed above.  America is not a white nation, or a male nation, or a Christian nation.  It includes people who can described by those adjectives.  That's all.

We should be able to reference our differences without fear of being labeled a bigot.  Heck, we should be encouraged to talk about our differences, even share how some of them make us feel uncomfortable at times.  How else are we ever going to get over our incidental differences and make a better citizenry?

We don't become better Americans by accepting differences (sincerely or not) with the understanding that having accepted our differences we now never talk about them.  That's just weird. 

This was a bit long-winded and unfocused.  Figured I'd jot my thoughts while they're on my mind.  Lucky you!  Now I have to go mow my gay lawn.___

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2015-08-09 12:39:16 (16 comments, 0 reshares, 10 +1s)Open 

I've no idea why Amazon recommends that I might enjoy this e-book, but having now checked out its blurb I mention it here in case any of you might enjoy a turgid romance involving a shape-shifting independent male and his feisty female counterpart.  Spoiler:  She'll change his mind and his ways by story's end.  In fact, you know how this goes and how it ends, reading it is optional.  Minor gripe:  Our hero on the cover should be hirsute and less well-coiffed.  That guy would get laughed out of the forest as an effete wannabe.  

In related news, I've figured out how to install a Kindle application in Mint 17.

I've no idea why Amazon recommends that I might enjoy this e-book, but having now checked out its blurb I mention it here in case any of you might enjoy a turgid romance involving a shape-shifting independent male and his feisty female counterpart.  Spoiler:  She'll change his mind and his ways by story's end.  In fact, you know how this goes and how it ends, reading it is optional.  Minor gripe:  Our hero on the cover should be hirsute and less well-coiffed.  That guy would get laughed out of the forest as an effete wannabe.  

In related news, I've figured out how to install a Kindle application in Mint 17.___

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2015-08-08 19:57:11 (42 comments, 0 reshares, 28 +1s)Open 

Windows 10 killed my PC.  

So, how am I making this entry from my PC?  After 27 years of putting up with Microsoft operating systems, I'm exploring the world of Ubuntu.  Which I don't truly understand, except that it's a family, a universe of open source operating systems.  To my mind, it's the operating system for those who know computers and know what they're doing.  So, not me.  

I got the one called Mint just because I like the name.  Mint.  I like mint, the plant.  I grow lots of it.  Now Mint is on my PC.

I've been at this whole operation since last night.  Backed up my files--thank goodness.  That took six hours and I fell asleep during it.  This morning I took MS's suggestion and tried to load Windows 10.  Kept getting an error message.  So, I tried a clean install.  That wiped out any recognizable OS on my machine. Fraaaak you, M... more »

Windows 10 killed my PC.  

So, how am I making this entry from my PC?  After 27 years of putting up with Microsoft operating systems, I'm exploring the world of Ubuntu.  Which I don't truly understand, except that it's a family, a universe of open source operating systems.  To my mind, it's the operating system for those who know computers and know what they're doing.  So, not me.  

I got the one called Mint just because I like the name.  Mint.  I like mint, the plant.  I grow lots of it.  Now Mint is on my PC.

I've been at this whole operation since last night.  Backed up my files--thank goodness.  That took six hours and I fell asleep during it.  This morning I took MS's suggestion and tried to load Windows 10.  Kept getting an error message.  So, I tried a clean install.  That wiped out any recognizable OS on my machine.  Fraaaak you, Microsoft!  You killed my machine!

Took me another several hours to learn about alternative operating systems, choose Mint, learn what, where, how . . .  That last part, the how, took another two hours all by itself.  I made a bootable installation of the Ubuntu Mint OS on a flash drive.  (Doesn't that make me sound like I know what I'm doing?)  Then I had to figure out how to tell my trusty Sony Vaio laptop to stop listening to Microsoft--apparently some remnant or stub of MS survived well enough to try to keep booting a non-existent OS--and boot from the USB/flash drive.  

Finally, I got that figured out.  Honestly, I know next to nothing about these complex machines.  I tend to imagine hierarchies of angels inside their cases and behind their screens.  That I need to interact with them?  Tell them how to do their jobs?  Not in my nature or in any of my training.  But, when the need is there, we must realize that we are thinking apes, line up our resources, push up sleeves, and get cracking.

Another 20 minutes figuring out how to load Chrome on Mint.  And here I am.

This could all still end in tears.  Or a new laptop with Windows 10 pre-installed.  But, right now I feel pretty good.  Minty fresh, one might say.

Now, what word processor will I use, and how do I get my iPod to work with all of this . . .?  God bless all you smart people who post how-to pages and videos!

So, a big screw you to Microsoft--why must each new iteration of your OS come with a bigger headache than the last one?  I'm not saying I've totally given up on you. But, I'm learning that I can do without you.  You should pay attention to that.  I am.

//___

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2015-08-03 22:50:41 (10 comments, 0 reshares, 31 +1s)Open 

I'd like to retire now.  From my civilization.  I'm done.  
Conversations today:

Me:  Well, the virgin birth is a time-honored mythological idea.  All humans share the origin of birth from their mother.  Then, we have a second birth, of our spiritual life, transcending physical, animal concerns, and often symbolized in some way via a mythic virgin.

Her:  My Lord and Savior Jesus was born of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and she was real.  You're just blasphemous.

/

Me (holding at a steady 173lbs since May):  I've been enjoying ice cream and chocolate almost every night this summer.

Him (obese since I've known him):  You eat like crap.

//

Me:  She'll need surgery for what is probably a cruciate ligament strain, rupture or tear.  Possibly some meniscus damage.

Her:  It's adog!  Kids a... more »

I'd like to retire now.  From my civilization.  I'm done.  
Conversations today:

Me:  Well, the virgin birth is a time-honored mythological idea.  All humans share the origin of birth from their mother.  Then, we have a second birth, of our spiritual life, transcending physical, animal concerns, and often symbolized in some way via a mythic virgin.

Her:  My Lord and Savior Jesus was born of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and she was real.  You're just blasphemous.

/

Me (holding at a steady 173lbs since May):  I've been enjoying ice cream and chocolate almost every night this summer.

Him (obese since I've known him):  You eat like crap.

//

Me:  She'll need surgery for what is probably a cruciate ligament strain, rupture or tear.  Possibly some meniscus damage.

Her:  It's a dog!  Kids are starving in America and you'll waste that kind of money on an animal.

/

At the very least, I'd like not to talk to people any more.  Unless there's a good reason, dialogue exchanged, in and out.  

Yes, I'll probably feel better about my species by tomorrow.  

//___

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2015-07-30 00:26:45 (10 comments, 0 reshares, 18 +1s)Open 

Today I walked with Annie at the college and tried to imagine that I live in a world that is not fallen.  It's not fallen, of course.  My personal meditation was not on the world as it is, the world is fine, whole and exactly itself, with nothing to apologize for.  The meditation was to try to fix me.  

I was raised Southern Baptist.  My spirituality and psychology formed around the central truth of a fallen creation.  That we are born to find our way out of exile, to atone, to reunite with the Father, through the Son, guided by the Holy Spirit.  Dependent upon, but never worthy of the divine's grace.  That only through the perfect sacrifice of the divinity are we able to atone for an event in a garden involving a man, a woman, a tree, a serpent, and a piece of fruit.

It is not that way for millions of people currently alive.  It was not that way for most ofWestern ... more »

Today I walked with Annie at the college and tried to imagine that I live in a world that is not fallen.  It's not fallen, of course.  My personal meditation was not on the world as it is, the world is fine, whole and exactly itself, with nothing to apologize for.  The meditation was to try to fix me.  

I was raised Southern Baptist.  My spirituality and psychology formed around the central truth of a fallen creation.  That we are born to find our way out of exile, to atone, to reunite with the Father, through the Son, guided by the Holy Spirit.  Dependent upon, but never worthy of the divine's grace.  That only through the perfect sacrifice of the divinity are we able to atone for an event in a garden involving a man, a woman, a tree, a serpent, and a piece of fruit.

It is not that way for millions of people currently alive.  It was not that way for most of Western history.  But, it's that way for me.  And probably for you.  I'm not much bothered any more by the idea of original sin, but one's original mythology can really blind one to so much experience.

I watched Annie amble along.  Stopping.  Sniffing.  Bolting toward squirrels--which she's as likely to capture as I am a feeling that my world right now is Eden.  I stopped my fruitless efforts and tried to imagine the world through her experience of it.  Again, surprisingly difficult.  I'm sure I got it wrong, my ape brain is far too noisy.

As we neared the end of our walk I realized that I will never escape being me.  Never walk through a world that isn't fallen.  Never feel relationship with powers and divinities that don't pay much if any attention to me because they're much too involved with the perfections they represent within the whole.  The ineffable and eternal forever springing forth, dancing, twisting, laughing, suffering, and returning back to the nothing.  All of life, meditations on creation and dissolution--and there is nothing at all, just the imperfection of words to try to contain and make sense of all of that nothing.  

Why does all of this happen?  Really, is that the relevant question?  The meditation, I think, is on the experience of it all, not on assigning meanings and reasons why.  I could be wrong.  But the older I get the less I trust the imperative that everything must mean something.  Find the joy.  Try not to label every friggin' experience and put it into boxes of "This is good," "This is bad," "This I hide," "This I show the world" . . .

We concluded our walk, Annie and I, and the world remained just as fallen to me.  I thought, OK, I'm stuck with this crappy mythological DNA.  

When life gives you mythological lemons, make lemonade worlds.  It's not that hard to make worlds, apparently.  Look what one Eastern Mediterranean deity managed with no more than a small overcompensating tribe with a crippling inferiority complex following a crisis 2,500 years ago.  Without the Internet.

It's time to create better, accounting for flawed mythological DNA.

Then Annie and I came home and I just now remembered that there's watermelon to eat.  Life is good.  It's a start.  

And you're not a fallen creature in a fallen creation.  You've never had to reach for the divine.  Exile is a state of mind and the universe doesn't mind if my or your life is a mediation on exile.  But, I like to imagine that it points and giggles.

//___

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2015-07-26 01:17:43 (2 comments, 0 reshares, 8 +1s)Open 


In the port of Amsterdam  
There's a sailor who drinks  
And he drinks and he drinks  
And he drinks once again  
He'll drink to the health  
Of the whores of Amsterdam  
Who've given their bodies  
To a thousand other men  

Select lyrics from David Bowie cover of Jacques Brel's "Amsterdam"


In the port of Amsterdam  
There's a sailor who drinks  
And he drinks and he drinks  
And he drinks once again  
He'll drink to the health  
Of the whores of Amsterdam  
Who've given their bodies  
To a thousand other men  

Select lyrics from David Bowie cover of Jacques Brel's "Amsterdam"___

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2015-07-25 05:04:52 (5 comments, 2 reshares, 19 +1s)Open 

That Face

And those crazy eyes.

Meet Marcus Aurelius Severus Antoninus Augustus, Emperor of Rome in the early 3rd century anno Domini. He was nicknamed Caracalla, which refers to a style of ancient hoodie that he favored.  History remembers him as Caracalla.  But, nobody called him that to his face.  He wouldn't have liked that.  Nobody without a death wish risked upsetting Antoninus Augustus, aka Caracalla.

You can learn a lot about leaders by how they choose to have themselves portrayed.  Look at Caracalla, at any of his many surviving busts.  The cropped hair and beard.  The "You tawkin' to me?" turn of the head with furrowed brow and scowling lips.  His styling, bearing and expression are a radical departure from the flowing lines and dreamy expressions of his predecessors, the Antonines, the line exemplified by the philosopher/emperorRichard ... more »

That Face

And those crazy eyes.

Meet Marcus Aurelius Severus Antoninus Augustus, Emperor of Rome in the early 3rd century anno Domini. He was nicknamed Caracalla, which refers to a style of ancient hoodie that he favored.  History remembers him as Caracalla.  But, nobody called him that to his face.  He wouldn't have liked that.  Nobody without a death wish risked upsetting Antoninus Augustus, aka Caracalla.

You can learn a lot about leaders by how they choose to have themselves portrayed.  Look at Caracalla, at any of his many surviving busts.  The cropped hair and beard.  The "You tawkin' to me?" turn of the head with furrowed brow and scowling lips.  His styling, bearing and expression are a radical departure from the flowing lines and dreamy expressions of his predecessors, the Antonines, the line exemplified by the philosopher/emperor Richard Harris Marcus Aurelius.  Caracalla set a new fashion.  After him emperors would continue the scowling martial visage in their official imagery.  By the 3rd century emperors could no longer command respect by looking emo, they needed to instill fear looking bad-ass.

Caracalla's father was the Emperor Septimius Severus.  Papa Severus had two missions in the year 210:  do an emperor's duty to Rome by beating on some barbarians, and try to instill some military discipline in his spoiled, violent and often drunk teenage sons, Caracalla and Geta.  The brothers were close in age, but not in affection.  In fact, they hated each other.  

The family, including the boys' mother, Julia Domna, traveled to the Roman province of Britannia, present day England and Wales.  Severus had probably had more than enough of his sons' constant fighting on the journey to Britannia.  So, he left Geta in the town of Eboracum (modern York, England) and took Caracalla north with the army to go beat on some Caledonians, the predecessors of the Scots.  On the way, Caracalla drew his sword as if to strike down his father, the Emperor of Rome.  Father stared down son and Caracalla put away his sword.  Dad didn't say a word.  But, that night, Severus sat his son down and placed a sword between them, telling his boy that if it was his intention to murder his father, do it now.  Caracalla swallowed his impatience and didn't touch the offered sword.

Happily for Caracalla, his father died in 211 of an illness while still in Britannia.  Knowing he was close to death, Severus called his sons to him and gave them the following fatherly advice:  "Be harmonious, enrich the soldiers, and scorn all other men"  Then he died and was declared a god by the Senate of Rome.

Caracalla and Geta ruled as co-emperors for a while, but their hatred of each other only increased.  If not for their mother's protests the brothers might have divided the empire, each brother ruling his half, which would have advanced by several decades the eventual division of the empire into eastern and western administrative halves.

Julia, their mother, tried to get her sons to reconcile.  The pair agreed to meet at her palace in Rome to patch things up.  At the meeting Caracalla gave a signal and soldiers loyal to him rushed forward, fatally stabbed Geta.  Julia Domna tried to shield her son and suffered an injured hand.  Her younger son bled out in her arms, her older son standing over them both, triumphant.  The sole emperor.

Then the real killing began.  It is estimated that on his orders Caracalla caused the deaths of some 20,000 people in the first era of his reign as sole emperor.  Almost all of Geta's friends and allies and several thousand more attached to those friends and allies were put to death.  

Caracalla wasn't satisfied with killing his brother.  He wanted to erase Geta.  Even going as far as having the Senate officially damn his brother's memory, making it a capital offense to even speak his name.  His mother kept her titles, privileges and wealth, having been prudent enough to keep her mouth shut and grieve in solitude.

Also, he had his ex-wife and former father-in-law murdered.

So, Caracalla failed to follow his father's first piece of advice, that his sons be harmonious.  However, he excelled in the other two pieces, favoring the army and to hell with everybody else.

By this time in its history Rome's political power was in its army.  The era of expansionist Rome was over.  By the 3rd century the legions were the military police force of an empire trying to keep itself together.  Caracalla's father understood the political facts of life and had raised the soldiers' pay and given them other perks.  Caracalla continued to favor the army, raising pay again, buying its loyalty.  Caracalla styled himself a soldier/emperor.  He traveled with his army, camped with them, ate with them.  It worked.  It's possible the soldiers did like him, this soldier emperor.  It's certain they liked the treasure he pushed their way.  (But, how would they feel if that treasure ever stopped flowing?  Caracalla had set a precedent that would haunt later emperors and Roman citizens.)

The soldier role and uniforms were perfect for him because he was still a homicidal sociopath.  During a stop in Alexandria, Egypt, he had another 20,000 or so people murdered.  What had the cosmopolitan center and greatest city of the Classical world done to upset him?  Some actors performed a satire that mocked Caracalla's story that he'd killed his brother in self-defense.  Caracalla did not discriminate in his retaliation and had his soldiers punish the city by killing thousands of its citizens.  It was dangerous to assume that Caracalla had any sense of humor about himself.

I mean, look at that face.

Caracalla fancied himself another Alexander the Great--which is funny considering what he had done to Alexander's namesake city.  He tried to emulate Alexander in style and career.  So, to mimic his idol, Caracalla needed to invade Persia, now called Parthia--same people, different branding.  His methods differed, though.  He affected a proposal of marriage between himself and the King of Parthia's daughter, to lessen tensions between the empires with ties between its ruling families.  Dubious, but agreeing to a summit meeting, the King of Parthia along with his daughter and some of his court met with Caracalla.  Caracalla again gave a signal and his soldiers fell upon the Parthians.  The king escaped, but his daughter and several of his people were slaughtered.

Crazy Eyes strikes again.

Did he do anything good?  Sure.  He kept the empire together during his tenure.  No small feat in that age of invasions, rebellions and civil wars.  He was the emperor that declared that all free males living in the empire were henceforth citizens of Rome.  That was a double-edged sword.  It vastly increased the Roman franchise, from Mesopotamia to Britannia.  But, more importantly to the emperor,  it also vastly increased the volume of imperial taxes--Roman citizens were taxed differently than non-citizens. Caracalla needed treasure to grease his army and keep it loyal to him.

Meantime, Caracalla's attempted murder of the King of Parthia put the empires into a state of war.  Caracalla needed to burnish his image as the Second Coming of Alexander, so he was game.

However, time and circumstance caught up with Caracalla outside the city of Carrhae, in present southeast Turkey.  While on the road, Caracalla called a halt so he could dismount and take a leak.  Dismounted and standing by the road, taking care of business, he was fatally stabbed by a soldier.  It's been said that the soldier was upset at having been passed over for a promotion.  It's also whispered that he was put up to the act by a fellow named Macrinus, a leader of the Praetorian Guard, the emperor's personal police force.  Caracalla's murderer was instantly killed by an archer's arrow.  Macrinus went on to succeed Caracalla as Emperor of Rome, with no potentially pesky whistleblower to mess up things.  Convenient.

Caracalla was declared a god by the Senate of Rome.  He had ruled Rome for six years as sole emperor when he died at age 29.  Live fast.  Kill everybody.  Die young.  Leave a pretty corpse and lots of crazy-eyed busts.

That town where Caracalla died?  Carrhae?  It was where Crassus died in 53 BC while fighting the Parthians.  Crassus was a member of the ruling triumvirate along with Julius Caesar and Pompey.  With Crassus gone, the battle was on between Caesar and Pompey, and I think we all remember who won that battle and paved the way from Republican to Imperial Rome.  

In Ancient times the city of Carrhae was called Harran, same as it's called today.  Alexander the Great had taken the city from the Persians.  The Persians had taken it from the Babylonians.  The Babylonians had taken it from the Assyrians.  In fact, Harran was the last-stand capital of the Assyrian Empire.  A coalition of Babylonians, Medes, and Persians invaded Assyria and destroyed its capital.  The last-stand Assyrians failed at Harran too, ending the ancient Assyrian empire.  Harran remained an important center of later Assyrian Christianity.  Until they were persecuted and scattered and all but wiped out.

Harran is an unlucky city for the mighty.

But, Caracalla's amazing face and crazy eyes stay with us.

Oh, and the 12 century story-weaver Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote that Caracalla was a king of early Britain.  Geoffrey of Monmouth lied.  A lot.

//___

2015-07-23 20:10:52 (7 comments, 0 reshares, 14 +1s)Open 

Hard to get beyond that one little detail.

Tried to enjoy listening to an elderly, experienced and wise woman with a fine history of triumph and scandal. But, my inner voice kept interrupting: "She touted the health benefits of drinking your own urine."

I find that I still have some hang ups that inhibit my otherwise benevolent detachment from those who harmlessly live life on their terms.

//

Hard to get beyond that one little detail.

Tried to enjoy listening to an elderly, experienced and wise woman with a fine history of triumph and scandal. But, my inner voice kept interrupting: "She touted the health benefits of drinking your own urine."

I find that I still have some hang ups that inhibit my otherwise benevolent detachment from those who harmlessly live life on their terms.

//___

2015-07-20 14:51:09 (3 comments, 0 reshares, 9 +1s)Open 

Today's ear worm: the Hare Krishna song from the musical "Hair."

Beads!
Flowers!
Freedom!
Happiness!

Then my Virgo mind kicks in and wants to replace Beads! with Peace! and Flowers! with Abundance! because who cares about beads after age 13, and the replacements join the other two universals, also available in a Maine January.

I'd wish to change and have a nature that can just go with stuff, but I guess Nature needs us Virgos or else it wouldn't have evolved us.

Take trips and get high
Laugh, joke, and good bye
Beat drum and old tin pot
I am high on you-know-what . . .

//

Today's ear worm: the Hare Krishna song from the musical "Hair."

Beads!
Flowers!
Freedom!
Happiness!

Then my Virgo mind kicks in and wants to replace Beads! with Peace! and Flowers! with Abundance! because who cares about beads after age 13, and the replacements join the other two universals, also available in a Maine January.

I'd wish to change and have a nature that can just go with stuff, but I guess Nature needs us Virgos or else it wouldn't have evolved us.

Take trips and get high
Laugh, joke, and good bye
Beat drum and old tin pot
I am high on you-know-what . . .

//___

posted image

2015-07-19 23:46:54 (25 comments, 0 reshares, 17 +1s)Open 

Are there any actors or actresses you dislike so much that you'll skip seeing a movie just because that actor or actress is in it?  I have a few:  Adam Sandler (annoying voice, not that funny); Will Ferrell (manic, uncomfortably desperate, not that funny); and Tom Cruise (despite being part of my generation and appearing in movies since my teens, I've never understood his appeal, he's just not a very good actor, to me).  

The movie "Pixels" is coming out.  I smiled at the premise:  aliens received signals of 1980s video games and mistook them for a threat from Earth; now they attack Earth with those same video game characters and it's up to a group of aging gamers to save the day.  That sounds like a fun 90 minutes in air conditioning with too-salty popcorn! 

Then I saw that Adam Sandler is in it and I thought, oh, never mind.

Whatabout ... more »

Are there any actors or actresses you dislike so much that you'll skip seeing a movie just because that actor or actress is in it?  I have a few:  Adam Sandler (annoying voice, not that funny); Will Ferrell (manic, uncomfortably desperate, not that funny); and Tom Cruise (despite being part of my generation and appearing in movies since my teens, I've never understood his appeal, he's just not a very good actor, to me).  

The movie "Pixels" is coming out.  I smiled at the premise:  aliens received signals of 1980s video games and mistook them for a threat from Earth; now they attack Earth with those same video game characters and it's up to a group of aging gamers to save the day.  That sounds like a fun 90 minutes in air conditioning with too-salty popcorn! 

Then I saw that Adam Sandler is in it and I thought, oh, never mind.

What about you?  Any "Oh, never mind" actors or actresses?___

posted image

2015-07-19 22:49:45 (10 comments, 9 reshares, 48 +1s)Open 

We should all be doing so well at their age.  And, neither of them has much business being that well at their ages, given their histories.  Heh.  Which they comment upon in another song off this album, "Live This Long.'

Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard, Django and Jimmie (2015)
"It's All Going To Pot"

We should all be doing so well at their age.  And, neither of them has much business being that well at their ages, given their histories.  Heh.  Which they comment upon in another song off this album, "Live This Long.'

Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard, Django and Jimmie (2015)
"It's All Going To Pot"___

posted image

2015-07-19 22:19:01 (2 comments, 0 reshares, 20 +1s)Open 

Another example of how everything is improved by Metal.

Another example of how everything is improved by Metal.___

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