Summer

Jul. 25th, 2017 03:10 pm
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Had a very nice time with a friend at a wine bar last night. I was tipsier than I expected -- one of the wines was (do I remember the server correctly...) 14% alcohol?

Dinner with some other friends later this week. Should be fun!

I'm trying to re-start my social life a bit. A dear friend has been more and more unavailable to me for the last few months. He and I have always been sort of an 'odd couple'...but somehow we (maybe it was just me that..?) made it work for several years. But it has made me sad...And now I have to decide what the f**k to do with the small birthday present I bought him, which is sitting on a chair in my house!


Even when I don't get the words...I still listen to Brazilian music -- I figure if nothing else, it 'trains' my ear to the sound. And in this song, I looked up the lyrics..and there are a lot of words about Carnival that I don't really get...nor do I get the storyline. But it's pleasant music.



Headed over to the the fine art museum here to snap a few pics of Chloe -- the gigantic head outside of the museum. She's pretty eye catching! And flat from head on!
Chloe @ VMFA

Chloe @ VMFA
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My house has a new resident -- it appears to be a leafcutter wasp.

As I was walking around the house this morning, I saw this bug fly into a hole in the mortar. I watched it come and go a couple of times, but it was too fast -- I couldn't see it well enough to identify it! So I brought the camera out. Again, it was so fast that I couldn't point the camera (and have the camera focus) fast enough. So then I brought out the tripod and shutter switch. Still not a great pic, but enough for me to ID the bugger!

The green you see is a piece of leaf it has cut to bring back to line the nest --


The good news is that they seem to be excellent pollinators. And it doesn't seem that they will do great harm to the house. The bad news is that once one finds a 'good spot', they mark the spot, so others know about it. Although solitary nesters, they tend to have nests near each other. So, I suppose this could become a problem in the future. But for now, the nest is safe with me!

***

The heat has been fierce lately, so I haven't wanted to work in the yard. And by the time I was up and about today, I didn't want to go to the river and be in the sun. So, I decided to visit the butterfly exhibit at the local botanical garden again.

If I thought it was humid outside....wait until I got inside the butterfly exhibit, whew!
It wasn't humid in there....not not at all  馃槣


I wanted to "pan" the camera, in the way I do for bicyclists....but butterflies don't go in a straight, predictable line! I still think this photo is interesting, although not what I was aiming for --
It's hard to photograph a moving butterfly!


I had seen the 'eyes' on the wings of these butterflies before, but the angle of this this photo really made them stand out! I was surprised at how much my eye was drawn to the fake 'eye' instead of the actually head of the butterfly!
The Eye!


Another butterfly in the exhibit --
Butterfly


I have not seen many butterflies in my garden at home this year -- small ones -- Sulfas and Skippers, but not many large ones. I'm hoping when the Asters start to bloom that I'll see a few more.

Asimov

Jul. 21st, 2017 05:02 pm
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Growing up, I read a lot of Isaac Asimov...his Foundation series (along with Tolkien's Lord of the Rings) was definitely a big part of my growing up. His writing style is a bit terse and old fashioned, but since his stuff was published in the 40s and 50s, that's understandable.

And Asimov was prolific - there are a lot of short stories and novels that he wrote. Today, I read a less than 15 page 'novel-ette' called "Nightfall".

I realized when I was reading it, that a lot of Asimov's stories are 'thought experiments'. What if there was a world with 6 suns, where there was never any light? How would the people react if there was a time of total darkness?

Published in 1941:
41 ' "It came to pass that the Darkness
42 of the Cave fell upon Lagash, and there
43 was no light on all the surface of Lagash.
44 Men were even as blinded, nor could one
45 man see his neighbor, though he felt his
46 breath upon his face.
47 ' "And in this blackness there
48 appeared the Stars, in countless numbers,
49 and to the strains of music of such beauty
50 that the very leaves of the trees cried out
51 in wonder.
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In addition to the Flash cards, I decided to learn more parts of the body. So I printed out some skinless medicinal images of a body and began labeling them.

My friend laughed at me -- I was using Google Translate, which sometimes is NOT my friend, lol. I typed 'calf'. And Google gave me the word for a child of a cow....a calf...but not the 'leg' kind, lol!

The same thing happened with chest! Google gave me "o ba煤, but my friend says "o peito"!

So I had to correct several of the words I got from Google!







Ent茫o, tem cuidado! Be careful what you get from online translation services!



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Until I get a handle on the verb tenses, I'm afraid my Portuguese is always gonna be very mediocre.

They are just hard for me! In French, I had many classes over many years, all drilling le plus-que-parfait or le pass臈 simple and many more into my thick head...But I don't have that in Portuguese, so I am now reduced to flash cards, lol! I printed them myself, and I intend to keep adding to them.

This morning, I chose 10, and I got 6 right....but the 4 I got wrong -- I really got wrong! So today I've been specifically practicing the 3rd person plural of present, past and imperfect of the verb fazer (to do/make): n贸s fazemos / n贸s fizemos / n贸s faz铆amos.

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I had a 6 year old Apple Extreme Basestation -- great device -- had given me trouble-free service for 6 years! Best router I had ever had, and I would have bought an updated one!

And it was still kicking....but sadly Apple is getting out of the router business. So I decided to try a mesh network because the front porch was a bit weak and so was the glider out back under the Mulberry.

I set up a Linksys Velop mesh network today with 2 devices. I'm still testing -- this is not a recommendation yet, but so far so good!

The setup took a few steps but was pretty easy. You start by downloading the app for your phone, and then the app takes you step by step through setup.

First you create your network name and password - I didn't take any screen prints at that point. Since I used the same name and password, and the same security protocol, after I finished, all my devices re-connected with no manual intervention from me!

All this is in Portuguese, of course because applications obey your language preference on iOS...so I have to be 'on top of my game' with my Portuguese when I am doing any new setup! I really have to read slowly to make sure I'm answering the questions correctly!

Several steps (not sure if these are the right order or not!) -- "Verifying an internet connection"...."Accessing the cloud"..."Success! You configured a node!"..."Sending configurations to the node"...."Configuring your remote access"...



On the very first node -- the one that actually connects to the wired broadband network...there was a failure -- a sad cloud face...I ended up resetting the node and going through the process again.



After setting up both nodes, it told me there was a firmware update, so I let it download it.



It gives you some instruction on where to position the nodes -- where you want coverage, but within reach of the first node. It's NOT personal to your situation, but just suggestions.



You pick the location of the node -- and that is how it is referred to in the application from then on. In this case, it was the node in the kitchen (cozinha)



It decided that I had a picked a good spot for node 2 --



Your WIFI is ready. The configuration was finished.



I am still testing whether this is better or not. I noticed my Macbook getting hot when I was sitting on the porch (sign of weak connection), so I used the 'device prioritization' to make it one of the top devices. It has cooled off. Not sure if that had anything to do with it or not.

It was an easy setup...although it took a few minutes....I'll keep an eye on it and post an update to this article in a few days.

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Nothing earth-shattering, but it's nice to see an old gay man and a young gay boy talking about their experiences growing up and coming out.

Bucket List

Jul. 8th, 2017 10:01 pm
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I need to visit Bisti again....This is how I remember it...
Last Bisti Pic...Panorama
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Wow -- I had some sort of allergic reaction last night! Around midnight, I woke up with a stiff thumb, and noticed it was swollen, so I took an Advil and dunked the thumb in ice water for a little while and went back to bed.

As I'm lying in bed, I notice my cheek feels stiff. So I get up and look in the mirror.

OMG! What is going on??! I took Benadryl, and the swelling (both thumb and face) is better this morning!

Last evening, I was staking up tomato, hibiscus and phlox plants. That is the only thing that was outside of my normal routine. The plants brushed my face while I was staking them. My suspicion is the tomato plant -- they sometimes cause rashes in some people.
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I am being very lazy on this long holiday weekend! A friend and I headed downtown to walk along the river yesterday --
The Cathedral Under the Bridge

Pic of a friend on the Canal Walk

RVA


And I got a few more Bisti images processed. This first one is a very short time-lapse. It takes A LOT of stills to make a time-lapse, and about 1/2 through, I kicked the tripod...so I had few photos than I needed.

I think you'll have to click on this to open it in Flickr before you can see the play arrow.
Bisti Shadows at Moonrise

This one is quite phallic, lol!
Bisti

Bisti
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Most days, I find something to listen to or read that gets me a bit of Portuguese practice. Hoje tem um v铆deo no YouTube que eu estou tentando pra entender...

The words are similar to a Portuguese proverb: If you run the beast catches (you); if you stay, the beast eats (you)." -- se correr, o bicho pega; se ficar, o bicho come.

There's an LGBT dimension to this video...
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Sorry for this long, jumbled post. I don't think i have a point here.. just a list of jumbled thoughts and general observations about the precipice we are standing on.

Fear -- Common Thread

1) The Republican party is not about common good -- it is strictly a grasp for more power. Centralized politics always is leads to power grabs, but I have never seen it this naked before. I read a tweet the other day about how it seems that Republicans are voting as if they will never have to run in a free election again - in other words, they are not afraid of losing an election based on their votes in Congress.

2) The people who are supporting Trump seem to be 'white people first' people -- 'Make America Great Again' really is 'Make America White Again'. Being white myself, I don't say that with the intention of insulting. -- it's just my perception that MAGA is really about white people feeling threatened.

3) The people supporting him also tend to be conservative Christians. Same issue -- Christians feel threatened not being in the majority anymore. I read somewhere that 911 caused an upsurge in atheism! I suppose it's because 911 was due to religious extremism -- done in the name of god.

4) The people supporting him are afraid -- maybe afraid of losing their 'place' in the world. And Fox (let's call it the 'state news') is constantly drumming the fear beat.

5) The people supporting Trump seem to mostly be rural...and indeed rural society has broken down. Seriously -- I don't think urban people realize how broken society has become in rural areas. This is a source of fear for rural people.

The common thread is fear. I see the fear, but I don't feel it.
--> If a MAGA person sees a person in a turban...they become afraid, probably thinking 'what will this turbaned person do to me'?
--> When I see a turban on a co-worker, I tell him that I really like the color of the turban! (the man I'm talking about is Sikh and wears red turbans a lot, and I like the color red.)

I'm not acting all 'high and mighty' here -- just seriously, I don't feel the fear -- quite possibly because my life in general is pretty stable right now. Of course, I do have a good deal of concern about the children of immigrants becoming radicalized...and that radicalization is so very violent in nature. It seems to be a situation where the children become distant from both their own culture -AND- the dominant western culture. And radical ideology fills the void.

But to me, closing the doors to immigrants feels less like 'closing the doors to immigrants'...and more like 'closing the gates to pen Americans in' -- I worry that the gates are closing in the way they did for Jews who waited too long as the Nazis came to power, and then could not get out.


Speaking of power grabs

As I read the article about the Federal Commission wanting personal data on every voter since 2006, I saw this quote in the article: 鈥鈥obach 'has a lengthy record of illegally disenfranchising eligible voters in Kansas....'"

And that made me think of this Maya Angelou quote: When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/06/29/trumps-voter-fraud-commission-wants-to-know-the-voting-history-party-id-and-address-of-every-voter-in-america/?hpid=hp_hp-more-top-stories_voter-fraud-655pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory#


Existential Dread

This article spoke to me:
"Terror management theorists believe anxiety over death is the driving force behind politics, art, literature, religion, science, and the rest of what we call civilization. In order to manage the terrible yet inescapable knowledge of our own impermanence, we seek out projects that offer us some promise of immortality, either literal or symbolic."

Breakdown of institutions --
Loneliness is a vacuum that yearns to be filled. And when established institutions are unable to meet that need, fringe ideologies come to replace them. Thus Hannah Arendt wrote in The Origins of Totalitarianism that 鈥渢otalitarian domination as a form of government 鈥 bases itself on loneliness, the experience of not belonging to the world at all, which is among the most radical and desperate experiences of man.鈥

Basically, the terror management thinking is that all of civilization is a reaction against the existential dread we all have! And the breakdown in the community ties that bind is what has resulted in our political situation.
"Trump seized the White House by utilizing the oldest known recipe for legitimating political power: Cultivate an aura of immortality; remind your subjects of their own mortality by nourishing their fear of an alien Other; promise the extinction of that Other, and an escape from death鈥檚 shadow, in return for loyalty."
https://thinkprogress.org/trump-arendt-terror-management-theory-6f0fc40e598a


I can't tell if we are still on the precipice..or falling at this point.

Solid茫o!

Jun. 28th, 2017 06:17 pm
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I tended to spend time by myself at Bisti. I liked the others in the group, but I wanted a lot of solitude...

This was during the blue hour after sunset....me by myself, wind, solitude...standing, thinking, taking pictures....
Bisti

I was and will always continue to be fascinated by these 'swirls', lol!
Bisti

Missing Bisti tonight...As I told my Brazilian friend -- "I'm feeling a lack of Bisti tonight!" Eu sinto falta de Bisti!

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I was talking about this Twilight Zone with a friend tonight -- not sure why the subject came up...

Sad!

Jun. 27th, 2017 05:38 pm
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The painter painted the porch, and it looks really nice!

But I got home and noticed a dragonfly had gotten stuck in it! You know I like dragonflies a lot!

And he's still alive! But I can't get to him. And even if I could get to him, I think I would end up pulling off a leg or wing or something.

鈽癸笍


Awww!  Sad!

Update

I emailed the painter about it -- not because I expected him to do anything, but just as a personal note. He felt bad for the dragonfly, so he came by the next day and used a long stick to free him! And as far as I know, the dragonfly kept all his wings and legs!
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I am still not recovered from my trip, so I decided to have a quiet weekend. Today, I walked a little, and got a shot of an Ebony Jewelwing --
Ebony Jewelwing (?) Damselfly
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The schedule on the Bisti trip was crazy...Day 1, we had class from 10 - 2...then we met at 4PM to go out all night, arriving back around 5AM...only to have another class start Noon!

I've done these workshops before, so I knew to go to the grocery story and buy stuff to store in the fridge in my hotel room. That way, I could make a quick sandwich in the room and have a few extra minutes of sleep!

But one morning, I had some free time to go to breakfast, and while I was eating I told the waitress what I was in Farmington for -- a photo workshop in Bisti.

She asked if we had seen any "Skin-walkers"...I had no idea what she meant, lol!

Evidently, this is a Navajo legend about people who can transform into animals...and there's a lot of negative talk about them, and it seems that the Navajos just keep quiet about them...but it seems there's not much to fear...just people who can transform -- humans who bring their good or bad with them, but just humans who can transform into animals.
https://sites.lib.byu.edu/worldhistory/folklore-william-a-wilson-folklore-archives/popular-search-topics/skin-walkers-navajo-legend/

So, I got a piece of information from having breakfast!



Which brings me to another memory....the very last night we were in Bisti, we were on our 'march' back to the parking lot, when the instructor spotted a tent near our path. To be polite, he diverted us pretty far around the tent, so as not to disturb the person.

I tend to 'bring up the rear', whether biking or hiking.

That night after we went around the tent, I had a lot of 'creepiness' -- I kept turning my head behind us, so my headlamp would show what was behind us....I kept having the sensation someone was following!

It went away after about a 1/2 mile, but I was uncomfortable for a while!

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I had a couple hours before I had to drive from Albuquerque to Farmington, so I stopped at one of the trails that are part of the Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque.

I went to the 'main' office, but I had already picked out this particular trail based on the time I had available. They told me how to get there (I got lost, until I stopped and turned on the maps...)...it is sandwiched between residential and commercial strips, but it has its own (free) parking area.

Petroglyphs at the Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque

Petroglyphs at the Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque

Petroglyphs at the Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque

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"O seguro morreu de velho, mas o desconfiado ainda est谩 vivo." -- "The safe one died of old age, but the suspicious one is still living."





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