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I'm still ruminating on the news that the VA Governor had a picture on his medical school yearbook page with 2 guys, 1 dressed in blackface and the other in KKK robes. The picture would have been taken in the early '80s.

And first I read that the Governor admits that he was one of the guys in the picture. Then the next day, I read that he denies it. Changing his story, in itself, is a strange occurrence that gives me pause. And yes, I know how ironic it is that I'm concerned about the state governor's story change when we have that crazy dimwit in the White House who makes up fantasy stories every.single.day.


First some of what I'm thinking about Blackface --

I try to think back to the early 80s, and I wonder if I, myself, realized at the time how hurtful blackface had been to black people -- basically, white actors in times past painted their faces with shoe polish and then mocked black people as dumb Sambos or clownish buffoons.

Would I have known about that in the early 80s? Probably not completely. But I am almost positive that I would have known enough not to do that, not even as a 'joke' or a costume.

On balance, I believe that I could 'kind of' move past the black face, and ignore that picture from the 80s.

KKK Robes

But then I see those robes...those robes! The KKK was not a 'joke'...not just mocking, not just words. People died, were beaten, had their houses burned, etc., all by groups of cowards wearing hoods and too afraid to show their face.

I have a real problem moving past those robes -- I don't think I can ignore that image.

What do I think?

My first reaction was that he would not survive this, which led me to looking up how the succession works when the governor resigns. However, now the Governor says he won't resign. Personally, I think he should resign.

The only reservation I have about is that the jackal in the White House is heaping onto the governor. Trump has been the biggest disaster in US presidential history, and anything he does is highly suspect to me. And the news was dug up and released by a conservative political group.

I still think the governor should resign, although I wonder about the conservative involvement in it.
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Shit in their pants,indeed...

If the world should end tonight, I had a crazy classic life...apologies to Janelle Monae...

So glad it's Friday...I needed a break this week! Work was weird. Non work-related discussion today between (in my not so humble opinion crazy-assed conservative and in my not so humble opinion more sensible and realistic people....) Jiminy, when was the last time I had to use the word macaxeira at work???

Glad to have had TANG -- the drink -- yes TANG, lol cocktails with a friend. We also played Shuffleboard, lol!

I had a 'Tang-quila Sunrise' at Tang and Biscuit, lol!

Got my taxes filed.

And got my escrow analysis from the mortgage company -- as expected, payment going up because of local taxes.

And it snowed unexpectedly today.

And it got down to fricken 10F (-12C) this week...wtf!?? And it will be 70F (21C) next week????

And I'm now the project manager on a project at work that I have no skill set for???

And visited the breweries with a friend from out of town the other night...

And tomorrow having coffee with someone I don't know to offer career advice???

Always look at the cards that fall out of the deck!

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I was pleased with this photo -- it was such a dreary day that I didn't expect to find much to photograph, so it was nice to see this Blue Heron in the one of the canals along the river.
Blue Heron in the Manchester Canal

The heron photo was Saturday, and then Sunday night around midnight was a full lunar eclipse.

OMG...it was so cold! So cold! While I was out for the eclipse, it hovered around 29F (-2C). The low last night was supposed to have been 16F (-14C). The temperature made it uncomfortable to be out long, and the moon was directly overhead which meant I had to kneel or crouch uncomfortably to see the camera screen or peer through the viewfinder. Luckily I was at home, so I could go inside sometimes to warm up a bit!

Near the beginning of the eclipse (time 22:35) --
Lunar Eclipse

Further along (22:58) --
Lunar Eclipse

I was not entirely happy with my full eclipse (23:48) photo. I'm not sure that I was in focus, or maybe I kept the shutter open so long that I got some movement.
Lunar Eclipse


15 Jan 2019 19:10
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It's been out a while now, but Janelle Monáe's album really has been a good listen!
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With the pending snow and/or ice, I just put on some lentils on to slow cook. No particular recipe -- just dumped lentils, tomatoes, stock, spices and assorted other stuff into the Instapot.

Snow is preferable to ice -- ice often brings power outages. And I've put some water in pitchers in the fridge, and turned up the heat a bit just in case.

The past week was fun -- dinner or drinks with several different friends!

One night, I had dinner with my Portuguese speaking friends -- I had a good time, and for the first time, I understood most of what was said!

Of course, these friends always slow down for me, which helped. But even when they spoke slowly, I often had trouble! But this time, I understood a lot, and they even commented on that! Also, I didn't feel exhausted afterwards. In the past, I often felt exhausted because it was such hard work to follow the conversation. But I did okay this time!
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This past Christmas I bought a book as a gift. I didn't pay attention that it was coming from the UK, so I felt all special when I got a package from Royal Mail by Airmail! The British company included an additional gift, which they called a "Diary"...which doesn't mean the same thing in American English. The additional gift is what I would call a "Datebook" -- a diary in American English means a "personal journal", not a calendar!

In any event, I have no need for a Datebook -- I mean, we have electronic calendars now!

So as a way to remind myself of good things in my life, I decided to use the Datebook to record something I am thankful for each day. For example, today I recorded that I am thankful that I like to play with electronic things -- having just bought a couple of HomeKit connected plugs to turn lamps on and off with Siri. Mostly, this was just for fun, and I guess what I'm really thankful for is that I still like to play :)

But one worry I have had is that sometimes, I think I am just writing something quickly at the end of the day without really stopping and really thinking about what it is that I'm thankful for. I think I'll have to be sure to stop for a few seconds each day and consider why I'm writing what it is that I'm writing.

Maybe at the end of the year...or maybe the end of each month, I'll read the entries to remind myself....sort of a Buddhist meditation :)

And as I think of it, maybe I'm using this 'Datebook' as a 'Diary' lol, recording what I was thankful for!
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The weather is so early Spring-like that the early daffodils are coming up!

I got the last of the Christmas light decorations down today. And because of the mild weather, I have a bunch of windows and doors open to air out the house!
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Family Christmas dinner and gift exchange was very pleasant this year. I'm glad that one sister likes to make dinner and host -- it would be hard each year if we had to decide how to meet! I put in an extra gift card for that sister to thank her for doing Thanksgiving and Christmas every year! I know how much work it is!

In addition to the holidays, I have been getting rid of stuff -- I like the idea of a 'Death Cleaning' -- not that I'm planning on needing to do that just yet, lol! But it's a good idea. So I have instituted a "1 thing in, 1 thing out" rule -- meaning, when I get gifts, I try to find something that I can donate or pitch out.

Yesterday, I took this load to a local thrift store --

And I also put this stuff in my alley. Many times, things in the alley get picked up, so it makes me feel like they are getting used instead of throwing away.

That toilet has been in the basement since 2005 when I replaced it with a newer one in my downstairs bathroom!
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Sem título

I was playing around with holding plastic wrap in front of the lens last night --
Merry Christmas!

Sem título
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The busiest holiday time for me has finally past! I had a gift exchange this past week, dinner with friends last night and family Christmas is Tuesday. I have a couple more dinners and gift exchanges, but generally I'm chilling out this weekend!

Gawd, I feel fat! I have been eating so much crap -- at home, at work, at friends' houses! I was supposed to visit someone Friday night, but the candy and crap caught up with me!

Today I did some laundry, then walked around the neighborhood to test out the new lens some more and get a spot of exercise --
Christmas Around the Neighborhood

Christmas Around the Neighborhood

Ghost of holidays past in the neighborhood --

I watched a movie today on Netflix -- Thor Ragnarok, which was actually pretty good! I usually only 'kind of' enjoy that series of movies, but I like this one. There were some very nice action scenes, and calling the large portal the 'Devil's Anus' was a humorous touch. And damned if Chris Hemsworth didn't look nice shirtless!

Watching the movie also made me look up the actual Norse tale of Ragnarok - I had remembered it differently (and I was correct in my memory) that almost all the gods died during Ragnarok -- I mean, it is the Doom of the gods / Twilight of the gods / Fate of the gods . But in the movie, Thor, Loki, etc. were still around at the end. And poor Freyr got a bum rap in the movie!

I'm still listening to the Myths and Legends podcast, where the guy gathers up old stories and re-tells them. And there is a Ragnarok episode, which I may go back and re-listen to. My habit is to listen to podcasts every morning as I make my oatmeal! The first "oatmeal making" series I listened do was the fantastic History of Rome podcast, and I have followed up with Myths and Legends.

I started my Amaryllis from last year -- I had them out for the summer and then in the basement for several weeks. The bulbs are nicely green at the top so hopefully they'll bloom nicely for me! I would expect blooms by sometime in February.
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Bad...but in kind of a good way -- not something I needed, but I splurged and bought a new camera lens! I already had a EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM -- shown to the left below. Today I just received a Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM. At this point, my intent is to sell the 70-200.

My primary use cases for a long zoom are moon pictures and macros of insects. Unsurprisingly, butterflies, etc. don't particularly like it when you hover over them with a typical macro lens, so I have been using my 200 for that. And I have reached my limit on how close I can get to the moon with my current equipment.

It was a rainy day, so I just took some shots inside to play around, comparing the new 100-400 with the 70-200. The aperture won't open as wide on the 100-400 as the 200, and since I was also using a 1.4x extender, I wanted to keep the settings the same for all the shots. So I set the settings to ISO 6400 and f/8.

Then I took pics both fully zoomed out and fully zoomed in while sitting on my couch aiming at a particular ornament on the tree.

Here's the 70-200 fully zoomed out (70 mm):

Compared to the 100-400 fully zoomed out (100 mm):

70-200 fully zoomed in (200):

100-400 fully zoomed in (400):

And here's what each looks like with the 1.4x extender.

70-200 fully zoomed out with 1.4x extender (98 mm):

100-400 fully zoomed out with 1.4x extender (140 mm):

70-200 fully zoomed in with 1.4x extender (280 mm):

100-400 fully zoomed in with 1.4x extender (560):

No surprises, lol -- the 100-400 can zoom further. But I was happy to confirm that the 1.4x extender worked fine with the new lens (although as expected I lose an f/stop using it), and autofocus continued to work with it. One note though is that I only tested the autofocus with a center focus point, so I don't know if other focus points would work.

When I labeled the pics above, I used what Lightroom indicated as the zoom length in the photo metadata, but I believe since I'm using a 7D Mark II (which is a crop sensor) that I am getting additional zoom beyond what the numbers indicate above. The 7D Mark II has a 1.6 factor crop sensor. If I understand correctly, here's how the arithmetic works: 400mm zoom * 1.6 crop factor * 1.4x extender = 896mm. Compare that to the old lens: 200mm zoom * 1.6 crop factor * 1.4x extender = 448mm.

I'm looking forward to trying out this lens when the moon is visible next!
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I had my party last night to decorate my Christmas tree ... I had fun! And now I'm in process of cleaning up.

Before I get too involved in the clean-up, I am having my traditional after Tree Trimming breakfast of coffee and deviled eggs, lol - there are always some deviled eggs in the fridge left after the party. I just followed the eggs up with a couple of the delicious bourbon balls that a friend brought to the party!

Glad I had my party last night -- we are getting a lot more snow today than expected. Here's an animated gif pointed out of my back door to the back yard.
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Some friends helped me get my Christmas tree today. It was wrapped up when I bought it -- so it's a guessing game as to how the tree will look once the limbs have relaxed.

The car was COATED in needles!

The previous week has been prep work week, and that will continue this week as well. If you grew up in the South of the US, sweet potato pie is a standard holiday dessert. Sweet, sweet, sweet! And a bit fibrous because, well, sweet potatoes. I made and froze these this past week --

I boil my potatoes -- some folks bake them. You have to cook the potatoes before you can mix them with sugar, butter, evaporated milk and spices for the pie --

Pimento cheese , also now in the freezer -- fresh is better than frozen, but this dish takes to much time to make at the last time. And frozen is not bad --

Yum - fresh tarragon - an ingredient in the pimento cheese!

The 2 weeks before Tree Trimming is actually a bit lonely for me. Because I have so much to do, I turn down most social invitations during this 2 week period. But I do try to plan a few here and there (for example -- last night, wine with friend, tomorrow dinner with another friend...having friends help with the tree...etc) ...

But overall, I feel cooped up in the house cleaning and preparing for the 2 weeks! When the event finally happens, I am totally relieved!
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The family meal was yesterday...I used MyFitnessPal to estimate about 1700 calories just from that one meal! Even if you take just small dollops of each dish, it adds up quickly!

One of my sisters has taken on the role of hosting the meal -- my mom is up in years now. I do my Tree Trimming every year, so I'm not sure I would want to cook and host another meal each year. And the other sister doesn't cook!

My contribution, as usual, was a salad. With the recall of romaine lettuce, I was only able to get spinach for the greens. I added blueberries this time, which I think I will not do again -- they didn't add much flavor, and I think there are other candied berries I would prefer.

It was good to see my family. I showed my New Mexico pics to my parents. And here's a gif of my sisters and I --
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The Thanksgiving meal with friends yesterday was nice and relaxing...I came up stuffed and pleasantly wined! My contribution was a Spinach Gratin -- VERY rich, but good.

Family Thanksgiving dinner is this weekend, so this will be a gluttonous weekend!
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...but Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

Now I know why I block this jackal on Twitter! I see enough of these Tweets just by reading news articles.

By the way, we used to be shocked that a president would even tweet, and more shocked that he would tweet so indecorously, but you never really hear anything about that anymore. There's a lot of boundaries he has crossed, as he drags us through the mud.
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As the trip fades in memory....I culled through a few more pics, and de-saturated a couple. Here are a couple of pics, one from White Sands, and one from Bisti, that I de-saturated -- pics to match the memories fading.

Desaturated White Sands

Looks like an old graveyard

I think I'm finally back in work mode.

And my annual Christmas party is on my mind. I've been buying food, and cleaning house for it. This coming holiday weekend, I will have 2 different Thanksgiving dinners...also getting ready to make recipes to take with me to those. Lots to do!
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Fitful sleep last night -- one bad dream followed by another! It was a night when waking up in the morning was a relief! There was one particular dream that I have almost no details about, only that I remember being in the deep forest alone with no light. And it was particularly uncomfortable.

After the next bizarre dream, I did manage to rouse myself to make some notes. FYI -- what follows is NOT a great story or anything -- just a collection of details about frustrating, gross and uncomfortable situations!

The dream opens with me searching for my airline baggage in a big pile in the middle of a small London square. The ground is dirt not asphalt, so maybe it is the 1800s. So yes, anachronistically there is airline baggage in the dirt of an 1800s London square. I am very frustrated because my checked bag is not in the pile.

Next I run into a former friend unexpectedly. She is also looking for her luggage, also seems frustrated and upon seeing me delivers an accusatory declaration that we keep meeting, and that at these accidental meetings I am interacting with her in a manner not to her liking for some reason. Her face is blotchy whereas I remember that she always had great skin tone!

Now, I'm standing on the side street at a covered shop entrance. There is a cop and two of his goons standing on the street keeping watch. I'm standing in the covered entrance while this mean looking, cloaked guy is feeling me up -- running his hands all over me. This is NOT a pleasant experience, and it seems I am only submitting to this gross touch because the cop has insisted. We both have all our clothes on, so it's not intimate, just gross.

Anyway, next the gross guy is gone, and I'm out on the street complaining to the cop. He is quite tall and broad-shouldered and appears to be Irish with gorgeous strawberry blond hair, a large nose and smallish mustache. He called one of the two goons by the name of Francis, and he orders them to go to the baggage to search.

The cop is one of those guys who does bad things and then acts apologetic for it. I remember rolling my eyes in the dream because I hate fake apologies!

Next I'm sitting down the street at a corner to get my bearings. This trip has started out on a very wrong note, and I need to decide what to do next now that I only have my carry-on bag and have lost my checked luggage.

Did I mention there are sick and dying people lying all around on the sidewalks? My first thought is that they have the plague, although I have no knowledge of plague symptoms.

One sick little girl attacks me, and her eyes are darting all around me looking for opportunities to steal the bag I am carrying. I fight her off and notice that her skin is putrid, yellow, and squishy and after our fight some of her flesh is trapped under my fingernails. I am grossed out now and wondering if I am going to be infected with whatever sickness they have!

And THAT is where the dream ended...and I woke up. The dreams really were not happy last night!


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