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APRIL 2018

Sunday 2018.4.29


Something I appreciated reading in Madeleine Albright's book, Fascism: A Warning — in writing against communism and fascism, she stated: "In any society, men and women with imagination will rebel at being told what to do, what to believe, and not to think." This might also apply to some religions.

The book covers a lot of history of fascism, mostly during the past hundred years or so. For history buffs, it's a great read.

Chapter 15, titled "President of the United States," brings the discussion home to describe the presidency (maybe I'll call it a regime eventually) of Donald Trump. He admires strength in others, but many of the leaders he praises are ruthless despots.

As I've said in this blog before, I am a fan of statistics — not so much as to be a nerd about them, but enough to appreciate the way they make sense of data. Albright listed a few recent statistics in chapter 15:

Since early 2017, surveys show a marked decline in respect for the United States. In Germany, belief that the American president can be counted on to do the right thing shrank from 86 percent under his predecessor to 11 percent under Trump. In France, the fall was from 84 percent to 14; in Japan, 74 to 24; in South Korea, 84 to 17.

Given recent events, the South Korean people probably put more trust in Kim Jong-un than in Trump right now. There was talk on the news of Trump possibly being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize if North Korea denuclearizes. If they can do that and make peace with South Korea, I think the presidents of both those countries should share the Peace Prize, not Trump.

I have mentioned before how this president is damaging America's reputation among other nations. Now there are numbers to back up that claim. And their concerns are not only about our government. According to Albright, "Trump's election alone casts doubt in international circles on the judgment of the American people." In other words, what can be said about a population that elects a man like Donald Trump to be its president when there were obviously more qualified candidates in the campaign?

And I might have reason to admit to something: "Today citizens get their news from a kaleidoscope of sources, some reliable, many not—and we're pretty sure it's the other guy, not us, who is being taken in by partisan propaganda and fake news." That's from chapter 16. And I will state that sometimes it isn't always easy to distinguish fake news from the truth. How trustworthy are the books I read?

I'll read the last chapter of her book today.

And Speaking of History

Did you watch or listen to Thursday's telephone "interview" with Trump on Fox and Friends? It was nearly 30 minutes of rant. I was appalled. That's our president! I'll go out on a limb by saying his cabinet might soon have grounds to invoke Article 25 to remove him as president.

The White House Correspondents' Association Dinner

Did you watch the Correspondents' Dinner yesterday evening? I had been expecting it for several days and I paid close attention to the clock on Saturday so that I wouldn't miss any of it.

I would have liked to see Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward on the dais. They gave us All the President's Men and helped bring down Richard Nixon. If only…

After the comic monologue of Michelle Wolf I walked to a neighbor's home to ask if he'd seen it (he hadn't). I felt like I needed to talk to someone about it. If Trump's 30-minute rant on Fox and Friends had left me appalled, I was equally appalled, and amused, at Wolf's comedy. I told my friend I was pleasantly shocked, both by Wolf and Trump. She was funny (Trump was too, but he wasn't trying to be funny) and I couldn't help think of Stephen Colbert's correspondents' dinner monologue in which he left no one un-victimized.

I appreciated what someone on CNN said about Wolf afterward: "She's a comedian. Why do you hold a comedian to a higher standard than the President of the United States?" If you haven't seen the monologue, it's on YouTube. Search Michelle Wolf Correspondents Dinner.

And Speaking of Comedians

I was both saddened and satisfied with the jury finding Bill Cosby guilty of drugging a woman and raping her. It's sad that such a beloved comic turned out to be such a sexual predator.

Anticipation Mounts

Saturday afternoon I moved the frozen smoked salmon out of the freezer and into the refrigerator to thaw. I also printed my recipe for Smoked Salmon Quiche. I'll make the quiche today. My ice cream maker's cannister is in the freezer. This week I'll reveal the empty freezer in a video and make vanilla ice cream.

Wednesday 2018.4.25

Reading by Lamplight

Sunday evening we were told the electricity to the trailer park would be turned off while some utility workers worked on the power lines. I plugged in a few things to charge them while we had electricity and powered down my computers.

It was a boring evening. No TV. No computers. I have a battery-powered radio. It's my storm radio. Several turns of a crank will charge the internal battery for a while. But I chose instead to light my oil lamps and continue reading Bleak House by Charles Dickens. My Nook ebook reader has an option for back lighting the screen; so reading was easy.

The electricity came back on around 6:00 the following morning.

Meanwhile, I downloaded Madeleine Albright's new book, Fascism: A Warning. Without looking into it, a friend and I agreed it must be about Donald Trump. I feel encouraged the books are being written, and I wonder how many books I'll read before this lowest episode in American history will be over. "Lowest" might be too strong a word. Worse than the Great Depression or the two World Wars? Worse than America's Civil War? History will judge.

As of yesterday afternoon I had read five chapters of Albright's book. She starts off with a history of fascism, mostly in Europe, coving the last 100 years or so. In the second chapter, in which she discusses Benito Mussolini and fascism in Italy, the comparisons, though unstated, with Donald Trump were obvious, and obviously intentional.

I discussed the book in a Kitchen Vlog, having read only two chapters. I think it's one of the most boring vlogs I've done, but if you need to fall asleep you can watch it by clicking on the graphic.


When I upload a video with some political commentary, I don't usually respond to the comments left by others. My video is my comment. However, there was one comment that intrigued me.

I know the person through his other comments. He is friendly and respectful, a conservative, a Republican, and a Trump supporter. Having mentioned fascism in the video, he said in his comment: "You knew this was coming, right?" Well, yes. I'd read other books that discussed the decline of democracy in the USA and other parts of the world and the rise of authoritarianism. What surprised me was that the rise of imperious government in the USA mostly came from Republicans — Ronald Reagan, more so the Bush/Cheney regime, and now Donald Trump. I guess he never made that connection. Does he think the Democrats are imperialists?

I didn't respond to his comment. As I said above, my video is my comment and I don't oppose contrary responses unless they are ignorantly insulting. I did not create my YouTube channel to provide a free forum for trolls.

I continue to read Bleak House, mostly at bedtime, following along with the audiobook. In our local public library system there are several branches throughout the county. If one library has something I want, I can request it and it will be delivered to the local library for pickup.

I ordered the audiobook on CDs — 29 of them! — and ripped copies to my computer as MP3s. Although read consecutively, they are not sectioned into chapters, which doesn't blend well with reading a book by chapter. So I spent a morning being obsessive/compulsive, arranging the tracks according to my needs, adding ID-tags to them (597 tracks!). And then, finally, I copied them to my MP3 player. Happy, happy.

I could have taken it further. I have an audio editor on this computer. I could have edited the MP3s, combining the tracks into single chapter recordings. But I'm not that obsessive.

I also feel obliged to say Charles Dickens' books are not easy to read. Verbosity was evidently the style of the day. I remember reading one of his books, many years ago, in which one sentence filled an entire page! So, having the audio book, along with chapter synopses and analyses, is helpful.

Maybe One More Thing

The temporary crown came off the tooth the dentist worked on during last Monday's visit. It was an easy bike ride back to their office to have it cemented on again. I really like this dental group.

Sunday 2018.4.22

The James Comey Book

I waited patiently, reading the chapters in order, starting with the Introduction and Chapter One. I knew the good stuff was eventually coming. It was almost like waiting for Christmas morning.

As I mentioned in Wednesday's blog, most of the book is history and biography. However, starting in Chapter 12 the real meat of the story is served. We had heard about the Russians, their attempts to influence the outcome of the election. According to Comey, that was the watered down version, for public release. What the intelligence community told Trump after the election was much more detailed, much more conclusive, and much more damaging. Putin and the Russians had definitely done it, and in spades. In other words, Mr. President, you are the illigitimately elected president of the United States. Comey didn't state it using those words, put the import was clear. The election was rigged.

And that helps explain why Donald Trump continues to be so angry about the Russia investigation. He would prefer the American population to never know more than the watered down version of the story. He doesn't want voters to receive confirmation that he is a fraud.

There are those, of course, who don't want to believe that. Comey himself said it well in the book. There are those with informed opinions. We see them on TV. Some of them are awarded the Pulitzer prize for their reporting. And there are others, many others, who have only an opinion, without doing the reading or research to determine whether or not their opinion is based on facts. You see them at the barber shop, the grocery store, the deli lunch counter, the neighborhood bar, or the laundromat. According to Comey, we can, and should, listen to the knowledgeable and ignore the ignorant.

I am reminded of a brief conversation I had with a garbage collector in the fall of 2016. He asked what I thought of the coming election. I told him it would be fascinating to watch. He told me to vote for Trump because he would fix all the problems. He couldn't offer any details; he just knew he was right. It also reminded me of a conversation with my father when he wouldn't come to church with us. He said, "I believe in God and that's good enough for me." I thought, but it is good enough for God?

The book, by the way, isn't as much of a tell-all as Michael Wolff's book, Fire and Fury. Wolff enjoyed unprecedented access to the West Wing. Comey told his own story, from his own perspective. The account is credible and worth reading. Trump might not like what Comey wrote, but nothing was revealed that would undermine his office or national security. I believe Robert Mueller's investigation is far more dangerous to the president than Comey's testimony.

I should do a vlog about the book, and maybe I will, but I don't feel like doing a video. The best books, those that tell the whole story about this presidency, are yet to be written and published.

Every Siliver Lining Has a Cloud

All that good dentistry on Monday had its dark side. The work set off my cold sore again. By Friday it was evident and I began my treatment of it, which includes regular applications of triamcinolone. It's a medicine that is for something else, the treatment of canker sores, but it works on the cold sore. With 48 hours the cold sore was healing nicely. The important thing is to catch it early.

Stuff Gets Complicated

I'm not sure if it's because I'm getting older (I'll be 67 in July) or stuff just gets more complicated. I had computers problems this past week.

Af first, I assumed it was the router. Everything with these (somewhat) new computers is WiFi. The printers aren't connected with ethernet cables or USB cables. The modem/router was acting up and finally lost all connection to the Internet. Assuming it had died, I disconnected it and brought it to Best Buy. "I need one of these," I told them. They told me I might not and suggested some things I might do to troubleshoot it.

I tried, but I couldn't find the pass code. I later learned it was on a label adhered to the underside of the modem.

Then a neighbor told me he received a text from the cable company, saying the Internet was temporarily out and would be restored as quickly as possible. Okay.

Yesterday, I ran diagnostics on my computer to test the printer connection because it had stopped working, possibly because I had pulled the router. I have an HP printer. I downloaded their trouble shooter. I had older drivers that needed to be removed before new drivers could be installed. That took a while. After rebooting, I installed the new software and drivers. That went quickly.

Finally, everything was back to normal again. I don't know what went wrong, or why, but the printer appears to be working again.

I will say this: As complicated as things get, thankfully the companies that make these products program (somewhat) easy setup utilities that do all the work of connecting and verifying the hardware. Many years ago, in my early days of computing, I had to manually do the setup, selecting things like "interrupts," sometimes in MSDOS to get peripherals to work with my computer.

Wednesday 2018.4.18

Good Dentistry

A new dental office opened close to where I live. The planned opening was announced several months ago and I've been waiting patiently. It's a large practice with eight offices in the county.

We have two other dentists close by, but they're both crooks. One makes his money by selling unnecessary crowns, and at a premium. If a crown costs $1,300 and my insurance pays $741.50, he'll charge $850. The other dentist drilled a small whole in a tooth adjacent to the one he was working on, setting me up for a cavity, and more money for him, at my next visit.

The new dental office is very nice. Their Grand Opening was on Saturday, when they were offering several procedures — cleanings, exams, extractions, fillings — for free. There was a long line outside the door when I biked past to do some shopping. They must have had a full staff of dentists there, bringing them in from their other offices, to provide free services to all those people.

I went to the office early on Monday morning. Being their first regular day, the office was practically empty. They could see me right away for my standard cleaning, exam, and x-rays. One cavity was found under a crown, which meant replacing the crown. My insurance covered more than half. My cost was $558.50. That's fair. And the doctor was able to do most of the procedure that same day. I have to go back in two weeks for the final crown.

As for the procedure itself, it was almost painless. No dental work is a walk in the park. Being a molar toward the rear, it was not a comfortable procedure. "Open really wide." That sort of thing. He tried putting a rubber block in my mouth to hold it open, but I knew that wouldn't work. We went without it and I was fine.

I did like the cleaning. Rather than using a sharp metal scraper to clean my teeth, and hurting my gums in the process, she started with a sonic wash sort of thing that removed tartar and plaque. Some scraping was required, done afterward, but there was a lot less of it and not painful at all.

It was the office's first day; so things weren't perfect yet. They forgot to do the fluoride treatment I paid for. I'll have that done when I go back for the permanent crown.

However, I was very happy with my first visit. Their office is really close, within walking distance, and an easy bike ride, even on a very windy day (which it was on Monday).

I Do Enjoy Good Political Cartoons

I look at them weekly. A few really please me. This one captured my hopes for the mid-term election:

I do wish the cartoonist was a little better at drawing elephants. It's not obvious enough that the gray "egg" is the GOP. Rather than a beak, give the elephant a trunk.

And Speaking of Politics

I got my copy of the James Comey book, A Higher Loyalty, yesterday morning. As expected, it was available through my usual source. I was also able to get the audiobook; so I've been following along, reading the book, to Comey's voice. I like when a book is read by the author. I believe s/he knows best where the inflections should be to stress the intending meaning.

As of this morning I had read about half the book, the first seven chapters (there are 14 chapters, plus an epilogue). So far, the writing is history and biography, covering Comey's schooling and early years as a New York attorney and his service to government under the Bush/Cheney regime. (I read the books written about that time; it was more of a regime than an administration.)

I look forward the finishing the book today. It's easy to read. The narrative is logical and linear, not jumping around through many diversions and digressions. Perhaps, when I'm done reading it, I'll do a Kitchen Vlog to discuss it.

Sunday 2018.4.15

I'll Tell You What I'm Waiting For

I'm Waiting for Donald Trump: The Movie. I'm expecting a dramatization of events of the campaign and the presidency, such as the meeting between Trump and congressional leaders in which he was told the Russians interfered with the election. Rather than asking, "How do we prevent this from happing again?" he asked, "How do we spin this so that we don't look bad?"

I wonder if Alec Baldwin will portray the president…

I really do expect a documentary, at the least, after he's found guilty of something, like obstruction of justice. In the news on Friday they were saying Robert Mueller isn't interested in interviewing Trump as part of his investigation because he already has all the evidence he needs for an indictment. Some are even saying the investigation is almost all wrapped up. There are only the conclusions to write and then turn them over to the Justice Department.

Then what? Supposedly, under current law Mueller can't make public the results of his investigation. The law that allowed Archibald Cox to release his findings in the Nixon-Watergate probe has expired. Mueller can only release the results to the Justice Department, which means Rod Rosenstein. It therefore would come as no surprise of Trump fired Rosenstein and appointed a director who promised the president he would keep the outcome secret "for security reasons."

Of course, if the Democrats gain control of Congress next year, they could vote to release the investigation publicly. The results, or if Trump refused, could lead to impeachment proceedings.

The next eight to nine months could seem very long as we await the outcome of Mueller's investigation. If the investigation shows actual proof of wrongdoing, enough to trigger impeachment proceedings, Trump would likely resign, blaming crooked Hillary and the Democrats, and Mike Pense would issue pardons like aspirins in a clinic.

There is a caveat. If my understanding is correct, the criminals can only be pardoned if they committed federal crimes. State crimes, such as conspiracy to rig a state's electoral primary system, or violations of state campaign finance laws, or the paying of bribes, etc. could not be pardoned by the president. And that is probably where the investigation of Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen is leading.

When all the dust has settled I'd like to see a book or movie titled Donald Trump: America's Worst President. I hope Bob Woodward writes it.

Kitchen Capers

On Friday I ground the last of the beef chuck into hamburger, nearly four pounds. Some of it I'll use for cheeseburgers. I'll also planned some of it for ragù for one of my favorite comfort foods, Mom's American Chop Suey.

In the process of grinding the meat, some juices squired out onto my shirt. That doesn't usually happen. And then I like to toss the discards into the trash bin outside to spare my kitchen any potential odors later.

Friday was trash pickup day and usually the truck empties the bins across the street before turning around somewhere in the trailer park and getting this side. That first sound of the truck is my signal to get the last of the trash in the bin before the truck empties it. This time, however, the truck came the other way and by the time I knew to carry the beef discards outside, the truck had emptied my bin. So I went across the street to ask a neighbor if I could toss the bag in her trash.

Another neighbor saw me, with beef juices splattered down the front of my shirt, and asked, laughingly, if I was eliminating some of our least-liked neighbors. Think Sweeney Todd. More than a little gallows humor followed.

Which leads, again, to my …

New Year's Resolution

By now you are probably sick of hearing about it. I seem to be a man possessed, or obsessed. We are halfway through April and now I believe I can make it through to the end of the month Without doing any serious grocery shopping. I needed to buy more pasta sauce to have what I need for the American Chop Suey. I did that yesterday. I already have the macaroni and other ingredients.

I went to the store, on my bike, yesterday morning. In the afternoon I made the sauce, let it cool, and portioned it for freezing — another zero sum gain, substituting one frozen food (ground beef chuck) for another (beef ragù).

And so I am setting May 1st as the deadline to complete this resolution. I'm not sure what I'll do next. The last video I did was Beef & Bean Chili, which I believe I uploaded to YouTube in late January. Three months will have passed since I shot a cooking video. I'm still aiming for vanilla ice cream. And with summer well on its way (it was 87°F outside yesterday afternoon) I think I'll keep the ice cream maker cannister in the freezer for repeated use.

James Comey's Book

On Tuesday the James Comey (former F.B.I. director fired by Trump) book will be released. It is already a pre-release best seller on Amazon. I'll start looking for it in the free places.

It's an odd dilemma. I know where to look. I avoid the torrent sites on the Internet. I think a place called Pirate's Den used to be one, until they were closed down by the feds. A former friend likes the torrent sites, but he admits there is always the danger of computer viruses when logging onto those sites. There are safer places.

I don't like to reveal those sources because I don't wish to encourage piracy. My usual, admittedly weak, rationalization is to say I can borrow a book from the library and read it for free. I've done that enough times too. So, if I can get the book from a source other than a library, what's the difference. The difference, obviously enough, is that the library paid for it and only one person can borrow it at a time. From an Internet source, it might be available to thousands, maybe millions.

Actually, not many people will have access to it. The reason: Getting it for free is so difficult. It took me a year to learn the methods and get the software I needed. Now only two or three clicks of a mouse are all that is necessary. And, for further rationalization, I pay nearly $200 per month for cable and Internet, and an additional $15 per month for access to one source. So, money is going somewhere — maybe not directly to the author, but money flows.

And I should probably point out that I am not a pirate like some. When I built my new computers two years ago, I bought two packages of Windows 10 at Best Buy for $199 each. There are bootleg copies available, but no thank you. The illegal operating systems usually cannot be updated with the latest security fixes. That big virus problem in Europe and Asia a year or two ago mostly hit computers with bootleg operating systems. Microsoft had already detected the vulnerability and closed the loophole months earlier.


And so, as I await the Comey book, I am finishing Frank Herbert's Dune. I should be done by tomorrow, ready to look for the new book on Tuesday.

Wednesday 2018.4.11

The Freezer is Looking Mighty Empty

It isn't empty yet, not fully. I still have plenty of portions for my Minute Meals, stored in the bins in the door. I'll always have those, as they are my preferred way of eating — from freezer to table in under six minutes.

The large portion of the freezer is almost empty now. There is one beef chuck roast. I'll either cube it to make Beef and Bean Chili or grind it for cheeseburgers. Yesterday I used about a pound of cubed chuck to make chili, which was portioned and frozen. That's one of those zero sum gains — I used up some beef in the freezer, but added seven portions of chili. I probably won't make anymore chili, as the days are getting warmer and a bowl of chili tastes best on a cold winter day.

I do have plans to celebrate the fully empty freezer. I put the cannister of my ice cream maker in the freezer so that it will be ready to make vanilla ice cream. I don't have a recipe here on this web site, nor a video on YouTube; so I'm thinking I might shoot the video in such a way that I can use parts of it for a Kitchen Vlog and parts for a Mobile Home Gourmet recipe video. There is still a little more work to do.

The final project will be to use the box of frozen rabbit pieces in my freezer. I haven't started looking for recipes yet. I'd like to video that too. And there is a package of smoked salmon in the bottom bin. I'll use that to make Smoked Salmon Quiche again. The last time I made that was October 2010. It's time. The video is already on YouTube.

Here is a photo of the freezer, almost empty:

To explain a few things: On the top shelf is the chili I made yesterday. On the second shelf is the cannister of my ice cream maker. Behind it is a ziplock bag holding two packets of homemade Chorizo. The third shelf holds a plastic box in which I keep ice cubes. Below that is the shelf holding the rabbit, along with the beef chuck roast, the smoked salmon, and a bag of pine nuts. In the bottom I found a packet of frozen mascarpone and some packets of frozen sour cream I set up a long time ago for an experiment. I'm thawing one of those to enjoy with the chili.

And, invariably, there is always a surprise. In the back — evidently it fell behind the shelves — was a piece of mystery fish. I didn't portion it. It was factory sealed and stamped "Open before thawing." From the skin, I suspect it's a piece of salmon. I might try that for dinner.

And Speaking of Warmer Weather

I moved my air conditioners' plastic exhaust panels — three of them — into the windows of my home yesterday. The ACs aren't attached yet, but I'm ready. It might be early. It's only April. But for two days the temperature here peaked at nearly 84°F. The forecast for the next week is for daytime temperatures in the high 60s to low 70s. The warmest weather won't come until August and September.

Another Strange Dream

But this one I can explain. I dreamed I was a senior in college, in a geology major. My professor was the acting teacher I studied under for a year. For our thesis we were required to present a sample of stone found in a field study. We were also told to write and perform a theatrical piece that would explain the significance of the stone sample. In my dream I felt some frustration because some of the students had no acting talent.

The meaning is somewhat simple, at least part of the dream. Yesterday I watched the Paris Roubaix cycling race that I recorded on Monday. The race is famous for its course over sections of cobblestone roads. The trophy given to the winner is a mounted cobblestone. It is said of the contest: It's a race no cyclist wants to be in, but every cyclist wants to finish because it is so difficult. Of the 175 who entered the race, only about 50 completed it. And, sadly, one cyclist collapsed on the course and was rushed to the hospital where he died of cardiac arrest. He was only 23 years old. It was his first Paris Roubaix race.

Less tragically is seeing what the course does to those bicycles. The bikes typically cost thousands of dollars, upwards of $10,000 each. The rough sections of cobblestones shake and rattle those bikes. At one point in the race Peter Segan used his radio to call his team car. He asked for an allen wrench. While still riding he tightened the handlebar stem; evidently his handlebars where vibrating loose.

And, Finally, Some Politics

House Speaker Paul Ryan announced this morning he would not run for re-election. He gave his family as his reason. "I don't want to be a weekend dad to my children." Of course, the news anchors are speculating. Does he see a Democratic wave (some describe it as a tsunami) taking over the congress next year?

The raid of attorney Michael Cohen's office and home is being discussed a lot. Evidently the Mueller investigation uncovered some potential crime(s) outside Muller's perview. They turned the evidence over to New York prosecutors to investigate and that led to the seisure of Cohen's records.

Could the latest evidence lead to an indictment of Trump's campaign officials, or even Trump himself? And, therefore, does Ryan want to be out of Congress before it all hits the fan? Conservatives will, of course, claim Trump is 100% innocent and any legal action against him is only part of an unnecessary "witch hunt," probably instigated by Hillary and Bill Clinton. Liberals will ask why it took so long.

I still believe Trump will resign, alla Nixon, after he is charged with obstruction of justice for firing Rod Rosenstein, and possibly Jeff Sessions, in an attempt to get rid of Robert Mueller.

As for the impending attack in Syria, Russia claims any and all missiles will be shot down. I don't want to see any escalation of hostilities, but I am curious to see what might happen with this imminent military strike. I'll be watching it closely.

Sunday 2018.4.8

Seeing the Silver Lining

Fans might recall the Kitchen Vlog video in which I cauterized my own nose. If you need a refresher you can link to it by CLICKING HERE.

With the number of times I have been sneezing and blowing my nose each day during this cold, I surely would have had at least one nosebleed per day. Before I cauterized the vein in my nostril I was enduring the menace almost daily, and I was being very careful with my nose. Instead, I haven't experienced a single nosebleed since doing that video back in November.

As for how I'm feeling now, I turned the corner on Friday. The symptoms started to ease. This morning I woke up feeling much better. I still have the low voice and stuffy head, but no more runny nose, itchy eyes, nor sneezing.


It was an odd bit of shaking on Thursday. It lasted several seconds, without any sharp jolts, leading me to believe it was quite a distance away, like down in Los Angeles. I was in bed, trying to take a nap after eating my lunch, when I felt the shaking. All one can do is wait, hoping it won't get any worse. It didn't.

I went to my computer and looked at the U.S. Geological Survey website that catalogs quakes. The epicenter was 40 miles south of here, south of the Channel Islands. Prelimary data rated it at 5.3 on the Richter scale.

Those are actually good earthquakes. They relieve fault line tension periodically, sparing us the really big quakes experiences in places like Los Angeles and San Francisco. When the ground shakes, the big worry for me is whether it is a small local quake or a big one very far away.

Anxiety Dreams

Maybe it was the earthquake. Maybe it was being sick with a cold. Something was weighing on my mind.

During the night I dreamed that the skylight in my shed, which in my dream was a huge structure held in place by heavy beams of steel, collapsed and I was worried about how much that repairs would cost. I do have a skylight in my shed, but it's small and light weight.

I also dreamed about my taxes, which I hadn't filed yet. The deadline is still a week away; so there was no pressure. In my dream I was trying to sort out the forms because after initially printing them the IRS had made changes and I needed to print them again. I was doing all this in my car because I needed to fill them out on my computer at the pump at a gas station, because that was where an available printer was located. There were hundreds of pages scattered all over my front car seat.

Yesterday I filed my taxed. I paid about $200 additional tax to the Feds, but I qualified for nearly $400 in refund from the state. Something ain't right. I supposed I'll know more later. With a head feeling all clogged up because of the cold, I didn't want to dig any deeper.

Finally, Nook

The new Nook e-book reader did arrive and I did think about doing a video of the unboxing, even showing how to side load books onto it, but with this cold in my head I didn't feel up to it. The reader works better than my old one. I've been reading Dune on it while I've been waiting for other books to be released. James Comey's new book A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership is scheduled for release on April 17. On Amazon it's already a best seller.

Wednesday 2018.4.4

Don't Try This At Home

Maybe you've seen someone pour hot chili over Fritos corn chips, or garnish the top of a bowl of chili with the chips. I got to thinking, "What would my homemade Beef & Bean Chili taste like with Fritos Chili Cheese Flavored Corn Chips?" I don't recommend it. I can't describe the flavor, but it wasn't great. It was edible, but only marginally enjoyable. I won't try that again. You never know unless you try, right?

People Are Strange

I can't always tell when someone is trying to be funny when they write text. Unless they include a smiley face or an LOL in their comment, I can't be sure of their intent. Case in point: I received a text message that basically said, "Get better and start cooking again. We're waiting."

It seemed rude, but, as I said, I couldn't tell. Maybe he was trying to be funny. A "please" in the message might have helped. If it was meant to be a terse command, all I can say in response is that I don't take orders from people who don't pay me. One negative part of YouTube is that some people develop an entitlement attitude. They want what they want, when they want it, and they expect to get it for free.

I didn't respond to his comment. In one of the books I read recently someone said you never win a text war, be it on Twitter or elsewhere. That's good enough for me.

Getting Sicker Before Getting Better

If you saw my last vlog, which I linked in Sunday's blog, you heard my voice sounding awfully low. I wasn't sure if it was the beginning of a cold or just a little virus in my throat. By that evening I knew I had a cold. I didn't have the watery eyes nor the runny nose — just a slightly sore throat and a mild cough that I stifle.

Here's the thing about coughing: Each time I cough I cause my throat a slight injury. When injuries heal, they often itch. The itch makes me cough, which injures the throat again, and starts another cycle. By stifling the cough as best I can, I spare myself the itching and the cough goes away quickly.

Last night the cold finally reached up into my head — watery eyes, runny nose, etc. Still, I can't complain much. The symptoms are mild. I've been much worse. And thankfully I have what I need for good, healthy homemade chicken soup. Today's lunch planned.

I'm getting plenty of rest. Falling asleep last night wasn't easy, but I slept until after 10:00 this morning.

I Replace a Toy

It's not exactly a toy. I have had a Barnes & Noble Nook ebook reader for many years. It is one of the models with a black and white screen. I also have a color Nook tablet, but it's heavy to hold. I use that one with a easel.

Yesterday I was trying to load ebook files onto the ereader. It's a struggle because when I connect it to the computer with the USB cable it connects and then disconnects. Just the right amount of pressure when inserting the plug into the Nook makes the correct connection. Nothing worked yesterday and then the socket came out of the device. That might explain the problem — it was breaking loose. I'm good with a soldering pencil, but not that good. I ordered the latest model from Barnes & Noble. Hopefully it will be here by the weekend.

The newer model, now called the Glow Light 3 (mine was an original Glow Light) has a few better features. Same size and resolution screen; so that isn't a step up. However, there are now page turn buttons on the left and right. No more tapping or swiping the screen. And it has an amber lit screen that is supposedly better for nighttime reading.

Depending on how I feel later this week, I might video the unboxing and setup for my Kitchen Vlog. Something to look forward to. The cost, if you're wondering, was about $120. There is a Barnes & Noble store in Ventura. I could drive there in less than an hour and bring my new Nook home the same day. But do I really feel like driving with my head feeling all clogged up the way it is? And would it be safe? Better to stay home.

Meanwhile, I have the other Nook to use while I'm waiting.

And Speaking of Books

It would not surprise anyone who reads my blog that I like books. I've been wanting to read Frank Herbert's Dune again. I went onto the Internet (actually Usenet) to find an ebook. There are many of them, but none of them are formatted to my liking. So when I am down with a cold and looking for distractions, a tedious reformat of an ebook seems like a welcome diversion. I found one that was close to what I wanted, and then wasted a few hours doing the fixes this morning. At the risk of being tedious, what do I look for?

  1. The proper use of <p> (paragraph) tags. Some of the books used the <div> tag for each paragraph. Divs should be used for chapters.
  2. The proper use of ellipses (…). Three periods, especially divided by spaces, cause display formatting problems. A true ellipsis is a single character.
  3. Curly quotes: “ and ” rather than straight quotes " and ".
  4. And em dashes, which are long dashes about the size of the letter M. Hyphen (-), en dash (–), and em dash (—). They're all different.

I won't put you to sleep with more details. So far, I'm satisfied with my corrected version of Dune, which I'll start reading this afternoon while listening to the audiobook.

Sunday 2018.4.1

Happy Easter

I am not a spiritually minded person. I used to be. I used to attend Christian meetings and at one time, like many, I was interested in the Eastern spiritual philosophies. I still have an I Ching and I know how to use coins (three or four, depending upon your preference) and yarrow stalks (mine are bamboo). I did a Kitchen Vlog in which I demonstrated how to consult the I Ching using yarrow stalks.

When I was in graduate school studying psychology, with an emphasis in Jungian depth psychology, I learned that Carl Jung believed a measure of spirituality was an important part of a healthy psyche. I believe that too. Of course, spirituality can be observed in different ways. One doesn't need to be a Christian or a Buddhist. Some find awe in nature or in the stars. It's a beautiful universe; why not appreciate some part of it in a spiritual way?

Just the fact that we are here is a miracle. The universe is not a place where life should survive, let alone thrive. Look at the planets we can observe. They are devoid of life. And yet the little blue planet we call home has been teeming with life for millions of years. Give credit where credit is due and appreciate life on this Easter Sunday.

An Obsession?

It seems that way. Okay, so here's the story. It's no secret I like to read books. And I have already explained one way I enjoy reading books is to read them on my e-reader table while also listening to the audiobook on my MP3 player (which I mentioned briefly in last month's blog).

For several years I've owned a SanDisk "Sansa Clip+" 4GB player. I've listened to music, to FM radio, and to many audiobooks on it. Last month it stopped working. It wasn't the battery. It was just plain dead — for a while.

Meanwhile, I went onto Amazon and ordered a new player, this one Dansrue (Model M01) with 8GB of memory. But I was in the middle of reading a book with the audiobook and I didn't want to wait ten days to receive my player (I don't subscribe to Amazon Prime).

So I drove over to Best Buy (it was raining; otherwise, I would have used my bike) and looked at their MP3 players. I was attracted to the SanDisk "Clip Sport Plus" (with 16GB of memory). I bought it. I like it. As I mentioned last month, I successfully paired it with my Bluetooth headphones for wireless listening pleasure.

Meanwhile, the Dansrue shipped. And if I might digress:

The name amuses me. Rue means to regret bitterly. I have a friend named Dan; so I think of this MP3 as Dan's Regret. (And if anyone has things to rue, Dan does — but I won't get into that, lest he read my blogs.)

The Dan's Regret MP3 player is really nice, but it's larger than the SanDisk and heavier (85 grams compared to the SanDisk's 38 grams — okay, no biggie, but I wonder how I'd feel holding it for a while). Other than that, it's a really nice player. If I traveled a lot, I think I'd take it with me because its metal case would probably survive luggage handling better. It's not as easy to use as the SanDisk. The front is touch sensitive and even the slightest touch, like might happen if carrying it in a pocket, can change tracks or pause the player.

Meanwhile, the old SanDisk MP3 player came back to life. Maybe it needed some time to sort out its internal memory issues. I did unplug it from my computer without properly releasing it, which might have caused the problems.

So now I have three functioning MP3 players. I like having spares. If you were to look in my shed you'd see a spare vacuum cleaner, still sealed in its original box. I bought it on sale at Costco because my other vacuum broke three times. I keep it fixed, but if it breaks again it's gone. I also have a spare laser printer out there, also new in box. It was more than half off; so I ordered two. You never know… And now I have two extra MP3 players.

It's not an obsession that is out of control. I only have the one Haier washing machine I recently purchased from Amazon.

Speaking of Which…

After receiving that washing machine I haven't done any laundry since the first few days when I used it to catch up on all my washing. I have since been letting some dirty clothes collect. Late last week it was time to do laundry again.

I can't think of anyone who might say they love doing laundry. It's one of those onerous chores that we can procrastinate doing for only so long. But I love doing laundry (at least for a while). After washing my clothes by hand in a five-gallon bucket for many years, using the machine is a blessing.

And One Last Item

Yesterday morning was the Pedago Group Ride. I attended. It was a fun ride, even though it was cold and foggy. This time we rode eastward along the ocean for a while, then turned inland to stop at a coffee shop for a break before heading back. It wasn't a long ride, only 7.3 miles. The last one I attended was 11.1 miles. But it was very enjoyable. It was fun to associate with other people. One of the riders is a member of Amgen, which hosts the Amgen Tour of California cycling race each summer. We talked about the year when cyclist Taylor Phinney rode into Santa Barbara unchallenged to win the stage.

The Amgen Tour is scheduled for mid-May this year and three of my favorite sprinters — Mark Cavendish, Peter Sagan, and Marcel Kittel — will attend. It's on my calendary.

And Maybe One More Item

I'm thinking of writing a Diet Blog again. I need to lose weight. I did well several years ago, losing about 60 pounds. Writing a blog was part of that effort. Like most dieters experience, the weight crept up again. It's a lot easier to lose the weight than it is to keep it off. As for writing a blog to help keep me focused, I'm thinking about it.

And Maybe Just One More Item

I videoed a vlog this morning, just catching up on a few things. You can watch it by clicking on the graphic.