Magic: the Gathering

The Constitution

I just had an idea.

Since it seems obvious that President Trump has not read the Constitution since his high school civics class -- and he wasn't paying attention then -- it should be recorded as an audiobook.

We might get James Earl Jones to read it, in his most soothing and mellifluous tones. Then get Mr President to listen to it as he composes himself for sleep.

I know it's a long shot, but maybe the American people would benefit from it.
Magic: the Gathering

The Irony is Thick

I just listened to Laura Ingraham speechifying at the Republican National Convention. Most everything she said was ... unexceptionable. She's a Republican Party Mouthpiece, and she touted the Republican Party -- including it's policy-free promises of some vague "better".

But... she made a special point of saying that the "liberal media" has been too lax to uncover the government's "business as usual" corruption. She told them: "Do your jobs!"

Isn't that exactly what Barrack Obama has been telling the Republican Senate for the past 150 days?

What you think about can affect the way you think.

... and the way you speak.

I’ve recently been studying Complex Analysis, which includes studies of the way a function behaves “in the neighborhood” of a singularity or “in the region” of some boundary on the complex plane. I tell you that just so that I can relate this story and make sense:

I’ve just recently performed periodic maintenance on my hot tub. This involves draining the water completely, scrubbing the inside of the tub with bleach, cleaning the filter, and refilling the tub with fresh water. I had gotten to the “refill with fresh water” part of the process, and got distracted on another project. I suddenly looked up from what I was doing, shouted “Shit! Spa!” and ran out to the back yard. Sure enough, the tub was brim-full, with water falling out all around the edge like a fountain in the park.

I shut off the hose and removed it from the tub, and then opened the stopcock on the drain hose to let some of that water out. I then went back inside and reported: “The water is now moving in reverse direction in the region of the spa, but in the same direction in the region of the lawn.”

…Okay, I don’t usually talk that way, so *I* thought it was funny…
Magic: the Gathering

Public Service Announcement

If you live in the United States of America, be sure to top off your gas tank on Monday.

In my living memory, the price of gasoline has always, always, ALWAYS been depressed in the month leading up to a national election. This is not an artifact of the improvement in our economy; it is an artifact of a concerted effort on the part of those who control oil prices to assure you that Things Are Not So Bad.

In this particular iteration of this phenomenon, the prices of gasoline have been reduced by about 70 cents per gallon from a month ago, or just over 20% in my locality. I cannot remember any previous reduction that extreme; my interpretation of this phenomenon is that the Oil Powers That Be are particularly worried about how you might be voting on Tuesday.

In any case, I predict that the price of fuel will begin to jump right around the time that the polls close -- for reasons that make complete economic sense, mind you -- and that you are not likely to see gasoline this inexpensive for at least two years (specifically, until roughly the first week of October 2016 -- a month before the next national election). So, be sure to fill your tank on Monday.
Magic: the Gathering

I almost screwed up BIG-TIME

Last week, while discussing all the changes coming down the pike at work, I mentioned that I didn't think I had time for the UMSL thing in this next quarter. My supervisor told me "Don't even think that." So... I got on the UMSL website to look at the fall semester. It starts tomorrow, 25 August. Thank Goddess for online registration!

I'm going to be taking Mathematical Statistics I. Oddly enough, I'm excited about this course. My last statistics course, Applied Statistics, was a complete bore and almost a total waste of time. It was a "This is the technique; apply it" kind of course. This 4000-level course will develop the mathematical principles behind the techniques presented in the 2000-level course; that will help me to understand those techniques.

More and more as I get older, I find that when people want to tell me "What", I ask "Why". The flip side of that is that when people ask me "What", I try to explain both "What" and "Why" until their eyes glaze over. I apparently feel the need to understand, not just to know.

Sunday -- Life Maintenance Day

It's noon.
I haven't gotten dressed yet.
I can't go on like this. I've got to shake off this post-divorce depression.

So... today is the only day of the week that I'm not working at work. It's time to work at home.

In no particular order...

wash dishes
clean off kitchen counter tops
wash laundry
take out trash
take out recycling
mow back yard
mow front tree lawn
weed front steps
weed front terraces
weed back terrace -- try to keep the mint in place
test & balance spa water
change sheets on bed
hang/put away clean laundry
clean upstairs -- make ready for new tenant
grocery shopping
buy shoes
sort, catalog & box M15 red
sort, catalog & box M15 green
sort, catalog & box M15 colorless
prepare backpack for school tomorrow: textbook, paper, writing implements, laptop, school clothes, MetroLink pass

So, there are 20 useful and productive things I could do today. Let's see how many I can do before bedtime, hey? I have a fruit pie and ice cream in the freezer; if I get a reasonable number of these things done today, I'll give myself a treat tonight.

Let me say, I am completely gobsmacked by how difficult it is to find/buy a sensible pair of sandals in St Louis in the high summer. While I was out, I recalled that the last time I did battle with trumpet vine, I really wished I'd had a wheelbarrow. So I bought one. I'll have to assemble it; by then it will be getting dark. So, I'll content myself with a preliminary attack against the Plant Invaders today, using chemical weapons.

EDIT: Oops. Got into a political discussion with my neighbors while I was taking out the recycling. Dark now. I'll have to do Plant Wars another day. But it wasn't wasted time; talking to people about things that matter to them is almost never wasted time.

FURTHER EDIT: Standing around without moving, wearing short pants at sundown is not a particularly good idea. What do the mosquitoes eat when they can't get woof?

BONUS: I used a $20 birthday gift certificate from Casual Male XL before it expired. Didn't get sandals there, as I'd hoped, but I did get another good-quality belt that fits me, and I needed that.

FINAL RESULT: No pie for woof. I don't consider 60% a passing grade on any test. That said, I'll take it as a victory over the post-divorce depression. After all, I set a goal. My next goal? To get up and go to work on time!

I Am Disappointed

I received an email from the Democratic National Committee, telling me all about how Senator Lindsey Graham is talking about impeaching President Obama. The point of this exercise was to persuade me to donate money to elect Democrats.

Now, let's see how this appeal plays to an educated voter:

"Impeach" does not mean "to remove from office". It means "to bring an official to trial on charges of High Crimes or Misdemeanors". According to the Constitution of the United States of America, in the case of an impeachment of the President, the Senate would sit in judgement during such a trial, presided over by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

BUT. The power to levy this charge of "High Crime or Misdemeanor" rests with the House of Representatives -- currently held solidly by Democrats. Even if the House were so inclined, they would be hard pressed to find a crime of which to accuse the President; it's not illegal to do the job that the American People elected him to do. The good senator can flap his jaws all he wants, but he has no power to impeach the President.

The DNC has sunken to Rovean sound-byte politics in its fund-raising efforts, trying to frighten me with implausible scare scenarios. As an educated voter, I am insulted.

This does NOT tempt me to donate money, but it does tempt me to unsubscribe from their email list.
Magic: the Gathering

A culinary experiment

I've tried an experiment: a variation on a low-cal meal that even a bachelor who hates cleaning up the kitchen can handle.

I think I'll call it 1-2-3 Salad.

1 Cucumber
2 Tomatoes
3 Green onions
6-8 oz plain nonfat yogurt
1 heaping tbsp minced garlic

Peel cucumber and cut into bite-sized pieces
Wash tomatoes and cut into bit-sized pieces
Chop onions.

Combine vegetables in a mixing bowl with garlic.
Add yogurt and stir until everything is well coated.
Garnish to taste with red and/or black pepper.

Makes one large or two small servings.

Result? It's amazing how effectively plain yogurt can neutralize garlic. Next time, I'll try 1 1/2 heaping tablespoons of garlic. Also, maybe it ought to be 1-2-4 salad... Otherwise, it was quite acceptable as a light weekend meal, it took perhaps 9 minutes to prepare, and the cleanup consists of one knife, one spoon, one bowl, and one cutting board.
Magic: the Gathering

A completely arbitrary milestone

Since I left the Army several-mumble years ago, I had gained weight at an average of 3 pounds a year... creeping upwards from a very fit 220 pounds to a plateau of just over 330 pounds. That is to say, once I hit 330, my weight gain slowed significantly. My highest recorded weight was 338 pounds, last May.

I have to admit that this is far beyond the design specifications of my knee joints, which complained bitterly every time I did anything strenuous, like stand up out of a chair. I have learned to circumscribe my activity to pamper my knees, having torn a meniscus once (which required surgical correction). I don't care to go through that again, or anything even remotely like it.

My physician suggests that I would be much healthier than I am if I weighed 250 pounds. My own goal is that mystical, mythical, completely unrealistic 220 pounds. As a practical matter, it would be good if I could look down from a standing position and see my toes without leaning forward.

So... I have been consciously trying to lose weight. As you might imagine from the above, my efforts have not included a whole lot of high-energy exercise... no more than a walking speed, thankyouverymuch. But I have been moderating my diet, and following my own set of rules about what I eat. I haven't given up entirely on anything, but I do things like "no grease or starch until after a plateful of salad or vegetables" and "when belly is pleasantly full, stop eating".

When I weighed this morning...

This is the first time that my weight has been under 300 pounds in ... years. Though I've lost just over 10% of my highest body weight in roughly a year, I've achieved nowhere near the weight-loss performance of a hybernating bear. But hey... progress is progress, right?

[semi-related rant] English is a completely irrational language. We speak of "losing weight", but we really mean "losing mass". We even measure our mass in terms of pounds, which are units of force. The typical American doesn't even know the standard English unit of mass, which is called a slug. But whatsa woofta do? As long as we are trapped in a 1G field, units of weight and units of mass can be used interchangeably without anyone noticing. [/rant]
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