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I've finally gotten it through my head that, unless I take concrete steps to pursue some so-called "long term" goals, I may very well depart this veil of tears with the sweetest music left unplayed.

So in addition to the other ridiculousness going on chez nous, I spent the day putting together a... something (book?)... of fiction items that I'd written for LJ Idol over the years.

It wasn't as hard as I thought, but it took more time than I anticipated.

My main takeaway from the exercise has been the difficulty associated with rewriting the ending to a story. Specifically, I rewrote (a href="http://alexpgp.livejournal.com/1515058.html">Salt of the Earth to leave Sailor alive at the end, with the issue of his survival in doubt, but with some (I hope) optimistic overtones.

In other news, I've started to listen to podcasts again, but the whole podcast ecosystem would appear to have undergone a major radical change since last I listened to the genre. That change involves podcast length. Podcasts such as This Week in Tech and Jocko Podcast are easily over two hours long! (I don't watch that much television in a week!) I shall have to pick and choose where to spend my time, I guess.

Cheers...
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I am chagrined to admit that I have not exercised much since the beginning of the year, and what exercise I have been getting has been as a result of day-to-day activities, i.e., climbing stairs, shlepping boxes from one place to another, and so forth.

Today, I got about 40 minutes of exercise in, and I feel pretty good. No shortness of breath or anything like that.

Experience tells me that the first such day is not the problem. It's the second and subsequent days that will be a challenge.
* * *

I spent about an hour this morning scraping as much adhesive from the area of the LCD screen and the bezel of the MacBook Air. The next step is going to be to check the operability of the replacement screen, and then, if it works, to replace the backlighting layers before reassembling the unit for action.

Cheers...
alexpgp: (Default)
There are few things as good as home-baked bread, but between (a) losing track of two (!) pizza stones on which to bake bread and a plastic container large enough for the artisan dough I learned to make some time back and (b) Galina's objections to heating an oven to 450°F and keeping it at that temperature for the time it takes the bread to bake (while at the same time running an air conditioner in the Houston heat), there's not been much bread baked around these parts in recent times.

As I'm sure I've mentioned before, buying bread in a store can be an expensive roll of the dice, given that the kind of bread I'm looking for typically costs $3–$4 per loaf, sometimes higher. My most recent unfortunate experience was just a few days ago, with a loaf that cost very nearly $5, the slices of which "contained" a lot of empty space, which degraded slice performance—for example, when buttering bread in the morning to go with coffee or keeping mustard inside a ham sandwich.

So a couple of days ago, while accompanying Galina and Alla while out and about, I picked up a thrift shop bread making machine at a price that would not hurt should the device turn out to be defective. A little Internet search-fu found the machine's user manual.

I made some whole wheat bread yesterday, but as it typically the problem with such bread, it was quite dense. Today, I went out and bought some white bread flour and repeated the experiment, and ended up with a loaf that was pretty airy.

I think I have what I need bracketed.

One thing led to another in the kitchen, which gave me the desire to make something that I had made a little more than 3 years ago (mentioned here). As it turned out, we pretty much had all the ingredients on hand; the only thing I really needed to get from the store in order to put this dish together was a small butternut squash, some raisins, and some pitted Kalamata olives, which were obtained in short order.

Making the concoction was not difficult, but did take some effort to keep things straight. I thought the end result was pretty tasty, and while Galina's comments about the Moroccan-style stew were pretty noncommittal, Alla declared it to be of restaurant quality.

It's getting late, so I guess I should go hit the rack. Big day tomorrow.

Cheers...

Drat!

Jul. 6th, 2017 05:15 am
alexpgp: (Default)
The Samsung S8 comes with a USB cord with a "type C reversible" connector at the phone end, which makes it a unique item in the tangled inventory of cables chez nous.

And it has gone for a walk.

I am sure it will return soon, probably just after I purchase a replacement.

Fortunately, I opted for the wireless charger when I got the phone, so there are no worries there.

For now.

Cheers...
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We learned that, of the at least dozen or so members of Our Little Group™, two couples actually made it to the restaurant yesterday. Personally, I thought that setting up a dinner party in Kemah on the Fourth of July (at a buffet restaurant that does not take reservations, no less) was a bit outré, but I decided to hold my peace. In the end, everything turned out well.

I'm on Steve Barnes' mailing list and recently received an email in which he states "we now have seven reviews on Amazon! As I've said, when we get to twenty the algorithm treats the book differently, and with greater respect. Only thirteen to go!" (my emphasis). I shall have to do a little digging about the part I've italicized.

From the same email:
When I got back down to L.A. in 2005, I was eager to pick [up] my career. My agent [...] gave me some horrid news: freelancers were no longer hired for television shows. It was all written by staff. And they didn't hire anyone for staff over the age of forty.
Interesting news, though not germane to my own dreams and goals.

Cheers...

Dinner...

Jul. 4th, 2017 10:07 pm
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Over the past couple of weeks, arrangements had been made for Our Little Group™ to meet at a place called The Lighthouse in Kemah for the Fourth. I personally had my doubts as to the wisdom of such plans, as Kemah tends to be a pretty popular place on ordinary weekends; what kind of popularity it might attract on a national holiday that involves fireworks I could only imagine.

We left the house at 6:30 pm to meet the group at 7:30 or so. Normally, the trip to Kemah takes about 10-12 minutes, and Google Maps estimated about 25 minutes given the traffic conditions at the time. At 7:30 pm, we were still in line to turn left into the restaurant area in Kemah when the police showed up and started setting up roadblocks. It was okay to leave, but entry was being severely discouraged.

We ended up going to the Villa Capri. Dinner was good. I had a martini, the first for many moons. I also spied George Abbey, a former Director of JSC, and wished him a Happy Fourth.

All in all, a pleasant evening,.

Cheers...
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I edited the lone outstanding assignment and sent it and my June invoice off to my one and only client, so for now, "the plate" is clear.

I then set about scanning old LJ Idol posts for fiction items that, in retrospect, don't cause me to think "What was I thinking of?" and have found ten items so far, which "weigh in" at very nearly 17,000 words, which is a little less than half the size of the translation of 'Keep Forever' that I did for Feht a few years back.

I figure I ought to be able to find enough additional items to break 20K words, whereupon I will feel sorely tempted to wrap them up into something salable and offer it to the world.

Cheers...
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I can only imagine how difficult it's going to be to fall asleep, since I pretty much slept the afternoon away. We'll see.

During the parts when I was awake, I completed and sent off a translation assignment and looked at some stamps featuring La semeuse (The sower), who first appeared on definitive stamps in 1903. In addition to there being quite a number of denominations and colors, there are also a number of known subtypes that are within reach of the ordinary collector.

I also learned about a feature that had eluded me. It turns out that, among early French stamps, red was used to print stamps for the standard first-class letter rate; blue, for stamps used on letters posted to foreign destinations; and green, for stamps used for second-class mail, postcards, and newspapers. That said, those were not the only three colors used to produce stamps.

It's getting kind of late. I should probably hit the rack and be prepared to read myself to sleep.

Cheers...
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The highlight of the day was the purchase of new cookware. We allowed ourselves to enjoy the pleasure of using it for the first time to make something that resembles ratatouille, with the fortuitous side effect of learning that a "courgette" is basically the same thing as zucchini squash.

While the ladies spent the morning out and about shopping, I meditated on today being the 154th anniversary of the turning point in the Civil War, as Union troops repulsed numerous attacks on their left flank on the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg, including the famous charge down Little Round Top by the 20th Maine, under Joshua Chamberlain. After July 2, 1863, and certainly after what is usually called "Pickett's Charge" on July 3, the South went permanently on the defensive, allowing the Union to be eventually saved.

I'll bet few people thought about that today, in preparation for the day off tomorrow.

Cheers...
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Among the philatelic goodies that I've acquired recently is a Franchise Militaire postcard, scans of which are shown below.


The card would appear to be addressed to a Mr. Caubert, a pharmacist located at 120 Rue St. Charles, in Paris' 15th arrondissement.


Items of this kind are broadly termed "postal history" by stamp collectors, though technically (as I understand it) to be a really good exemplar of postal history, a piece of mail should be something more than something that passed through the post. No matter. This item was of interest to me.

As far as I can make out, the message on the back of the card reads as follows:
Du front, 10 mars 1915

Cher Monsieur,

Madame Guffroy doit aller vous voir ces jours-ci. Je suppose que vous êtes resté à vos bocaux.

Made Guffroy vous fera faire un appareil pour remplacer le tien. Comme convenir l'année dernière – faites le mieux – et pour le prix c'est moi qui vous paierai. Je suis toujours très satisfait du mien qui fonctionne même en temps de guerre. Et M. votre élève?

Bien cordialement à vous,
Guffroy Cycliste
36e Territorial par Verdun


From the front, March 10, 1915

Dear Sir,

Madame Guffroy will stop by to see you in the coming days. I guess you stayed with your jars.

Madame Guffroy will have you make an apparatus to replace yours. As agreed last year – do the best – and as for the price, I will pay it. I'm still very happy with yours, which that operates, even in time of war. And your pupil M.?

Sincerely,
Guffroy, Cyclist
36th Territorial [Infantry Regiment] via Verdun (my translation and, naturally, my errors)
I initially believed the year written in the card's date was 1911, which puzzled me, because whatever France was undertaking militarily in 1911 (in Sudan and Morocco, in Africa), I sort of doubted those actions would have been called a "war" by the writer. Then I noticed the curious shape of the numeral 5 on the front of the card, in the reference to the arrondissement of the recipient (15), and it became clear to me that the year was 1915. The card was written during World War I.

"I guess you stayed with your jars" is a pretty literal translation of what I read, and it sounds sort of weird. I get the feeling what was meant might be "I would guess that you're still in Paris with your pharmacy."

There remained a couple of words that I simply could not make out, which appear to have the same last few letters, but I cannot figure out what they might be. (See the comments at the LiveJournal version of this page for their clarification, although just what the apparatus referred to might have been remains a mystery.)

By the way, the Franchise Militaire was basically a system by which French servicemen could communicate by mail with their families back home for free, i.e., no postage stamps were required.

As it turns out, these days, 120 Rue St. Charles in Paris' 15th is a pastry shop. However, numbers 119 and 122 on that same street are pharmacies (as was the case with number 120 back in 1915), which leads me to wonder if there's any kind of connection there.

Anyway, that's as far as I got with this today.

Cheers...
alexpgp: (Default)
I suspect this afternoon's nap may go a long way toward answering that question. :)

Galina, Alla, and I toured the local garage sales this morning. Fortunately, there were not many of them, and of the ones that were open for business, few had anything I might be interested in. The one thing I did pick up (for a whole buck) was a piece of oven cookware made of clay and sold under the name of RömerTopf.

A quick read of the instructions revealed that the pot cooks with steam (one is supposed to soak it in water for 10 minutes prior to use) and can be used to prepare complete meals in one pot. The downside, it would appear, is that it is designed to be used in an oven, which is not necessarily the best solution down here in Houston, where the house's air conditioner has enough to do without the added burden of getting rid of oven heat.

I stopped by the post office to send off the Duofold to someone who knows about nibs, and then picked up some fruit and a slab of baby back ribs on the way home. I suspect the ribs may have had something to do with my nap.

Since arising again, I've completed one of two outstanding translation assignments and paid a bunch of bills. As I type this, I find it difficult to believe that it's almost 8 pm, but I will muddle through, somehow.

Cheers...
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I took the plunge and created the "GallopingBookworm" shop on Etsy this morning. The first book to go up for sale was the 50th Anniversary paperback edition of Farenheit 451.

It seemed as if it took me forever to go through the process of creating the listing, though it was probably more like 30 minutes, as I negotiated the various options. Presumably, as I create additional listings, I ought to be able to speed up the process.

* * *

In other news, the Parker Duofold I bought in early May (and which just came back from having its filling mechanism repaired) has a wonderful, flexible nib, but after inking the pen, I found it has a tendency to pump ink like a fire engine, i.e., the line it makes with very little pressure is quite thick and quite wet, and will easily bleed through a sheet of Rhodia dotPad paper (which normally doesn't allow such behavior). In examining the nib under a 10x loupe, it appeared to me that the two sides of the nib do not quite meet, as I can see a narrow crack of brightness between them when I hold it up to a light.

Further repair will likely not be cheap or fast, but I've taken the first step in the process, so we'll see what develops. It would be a shame not to bring this pen up to 100% functionality.

* * *

A recent telecast brought something called "post-cancer anxiety" to my attention. This is apparently an affliction suffered by some folks who, to all appearances, have beaten the disease, but "beaten" in this context hasn't quite the same finality as in the sentence "The Yankees have beaten the White Sox in the World Series." Cancers have a tendency to reappear after a while, hence the anxiety that some people suffer.

Moi? I'd be happy to face the prospect of suffering from post-cancer anxiety if I could only get to the "post-cancer" part. (I'd also be happy to risk winning the lottery, despite all of the grim news about so many lottery winners turning their lives into financial disaster areas, but I digress...)

Since last November, when my cancer got out of hand, I've been having a devil of a time keeping my spirits up as a patient with what I can only describe as active cancer, largely because my oncologist is a stand-up guy and insists on being straightforward with me (almost certainly with the endorsement of the institution's legal department). Now, I have no fundamental problem with his being straightforward, but hearing "you're going to die when we run out of treatment options" and variations on that theme every few weeks—even if not explicitly stated in that way—sort of ruined whatever high spit shine I was trying to create in my day-to-day attitude toward the world.

The good news is that for now, the most recent cocktail of chemo is driving my cancer into inactivity at a geometric rate (though with an exponent of less than unity). I am tolerating the chemo very well (knock wood) and the manner of my oncologist's nurse-practitioner (who runs the follow-up visits these days) is not depressing in the least, to my great delight.

And so, onward. Excelsior!

Cheers...
alexpgp: (Default)
I learned a few things incident to chemo today.

First, the Benadryl® in the cocktail of stuff they give me before the main event is responsible for an annoying tendency I've noticed, while supine, of suddenly moving my legs in a manner that suggests, were I standing upright, that I'm standing on hot coals. (Understand, I don't feel any heat or discomfort, it's just that my leg suddenly moves, "lifting" my foot with respect to the rest of my body.)

Second, the young woman who was in charge of administering the chemo had a bit of a problem finding a suitable vein and suggested that I drink a bottle of water upon rising on chemo days to make that task easier for folks like her. That said, she nailed (so to speak) a vein in my hand on the very first try! (Yay!)

Third, my nurse-practitioner happened to mention that if one takes furosemide (a diuretic) on a regular basis, it gradually loses its efficacy. Since I only use the stuff on an as-needed basis, this is not a hazard for me.

I read the issues of the France and Colonies Philatelist while waiting for my clinical follow-up visit today, and came away impressed. The level of knowledge exhibited by the folks who wrote the all-too-few articles was pretty impressive, and impelled me to improve my own knowledge in the field. So I am a happy camper with regard to the F&CPS.

We lost Internet connectivity in the house sometime last night, due almost certainly to some electrical storms that passed through our area. (When I asked Alexa what time it was, the response was that the information was not available, which suggests the unit does not have an internal clock, but I digress...)

I tried the usual stuff—rebooting my computer, attempting to connect from multiple devices (none of which found joy), rebooting the AT&T hardware in my office—and then called tech support. They ran some tests and arranged for a tech come out to the house.

That happened around 5 pm, after Galina and I got back from downtown, and the problem was solved by the tech going out to the modem (which is stuck on the side of the garage) and doing a hard recycle (reboot) on the unit, i.e., disconnecting it from power and then reconnecting. The Internet came back, thank goodness.

I'm looking at Etsy as a potential place to set up shop selling "vintage" books (those over 20 years old). I've hit a few pages that discuss the pros and cons of selling on Etsy, and have come away unconvinced either way. Some people love Etsy; others don't.

So I just spent some time randomly picking five vintage booksellers (from a page showing vintage booksellers). I recorded the respective number of sales, the number of reviews, the year in which the store opened, the number of items currently on sale, and the price of the first 24 items displayed when the number of items is clicked.

The most immediate of my assumptions were as follows:
  1. The nature of a seller's inventory had not changed substantially since opening, i.e., if they sell a lot of multivolume sets now, they've always done so; if they sell erotica now, they've always done so, etc.
  2. Prices for inventory items have remained approximately even over time, i.e., a seller who sells books that average $100 per item did not previously sell inventory for $10 per item.
  3. The number of years a seller has been "in business" on Etsy could safely be calculated by subtracting the joining year from 2017 and adding one. This has a tendency to potentially skew results for businesses that joined Etsy in December, but the skew decreases over time.
  4. The 24 items I recorded were typical of the seller's inventory in terms of price.

The most immediate of my hypotheses were as follows:
  1. The greater percentage of reviews a seller receives, the greater the seller's annual revenue.
  2. The more items a seller has on sale, the greater the seller's annual revenue.
  3. The higher the median price of seller's items, the greater the seller's annual revenue.

Using this data, I calculated the annual revenue (linearized over time), the average price and the median price of the 24 items recorded, the average and median number of items sold per year, and the percent of sales that garnered reviews.

Based on my five picks, it would appear there was little correlation between the percentage of reviews a seller gets for sold items and the seller's annual revenue. In my group, sellers with the highest review percentages had the lowest annual sales revenue. In fact, two sellers with comparable annual unit sales but with significantly different review percentages saw the seller with the lower percentage (~20%) outperform the seller with the higher percentage (~30%) by a factor of 3 in terms of annual revenue. Hypothesis 1, suggesting a correlation between review percentage and revenue, would appear to not only not hold water, but the opposite may be true (the greater the percentage of sales that get reviews, the less revenue).

The difference between the average and median number of items on sale by members of this group appears significant (median, 311; average, 427). Not surprisingly, the four sellers with a median (or higher) quantity of books on sale had the highest revenue, but there did not seem to be a consistent correlation there.

The top-grossing seller had the median number of items on sale; the second highest seller, about three times the median value; the third, about one-quarter (!) of the median/average; the fourth, over twice the median value.

What I found surprising was that the fifth seller, who has sold an average of 19 items per year and had only about 30 items on sale (which amounts to a hair less than 10% of the median), still managed to pull in about 50% of the median value for annual sales (about $5,000) over the past two years, despite said sold items having a median unit price of ~$25. Calculating this seller's average unit price (about $300) and noting that he has one item currently on sale for nearly $5,000 suggests the proprietor may have scored a high-value sale since opening a shop on Etsy, and that barring another such sale, the store's numbers will fade and start to correlate with my hypothesis. However, that said, my Hypothesis 2, suggesting a correlation between number of items on sale and revenue appears to be wrong. There does not appear to be any such a correlation.

It's late, and I think the probability of anyone actually reading this post down to this point is fairly small. Trust me when I say Hypothesis 3 does not appear to hold up, either (the three top-grossers did have the top median prices, but then the model broke down). Then again, maybe my group is too small.

Thus, the three intuitive hypotheses I've tested appear to be dubious, if not outright wrong, which suggests shortcomings in my understanding of what I'd be stepping into should I open an Etsy store specializing in vintage books (it occurs to me I have quite a number of them, BTW).

I'd venture to save face by saying it's the chemo talking, but I won't. Seriously, I am doubtless not touching upon the important factors that looking at the Etsy site will not reveal and which were enumerated in those recollections of pros and cons I mentioned at the beginning of this rant. Chief among them will almost certainly be the effort required to promote one's Etsy enterprise and products.

But it's getting late. I plan to get a good night's rest and let my subconscious work the problem.

Cheers...
alexpgp: (Default)
Going through stuff continues, whereupon I have unearthed a small cache of recipes. One is for something called "Bavarian cream." I recall my grandmother making this once.

Once.

I have not read the recipe through to the end, and am looking at it for the first time as I type this post. My mother's index card is dated March 4, 1945.
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup cream (light)
  • 1 envelope gelatin (1 tbsp)
  • 1/4 cup warm water

Mix eggs with sugar. Pour in milk and mix again. Pour gelatin into a glass and add warm water. (Put the glass into hot water to thoroughly dissolve the gelatin.) Put the egg-sugar-milk mixture into a saucepan and put it on a medium flame, stirring constantly. When the mixture thickens and starts to steam, remove it from the stove. Beat and let stand one minute. Pour gelatin into the custard and let it cool. Meanwhile, pour cream into a dish. Attempt to beat. To accelerate cooling of the custard, put the saucepan into cold water. When it is cool, add cream and mix. Get a larger saucepan full of ice and lower the custard saucepan into it. Stir. When the contents thicken, beat with an eggbeater. Put the saucepan into the refrigerator for a while (about an hour).
I seem to remember my grandmother scraped the insides of a vanilla bean and mixed the fine seeds into the sugar before mixing the sugar with the eggs.

I shall have to try this.

Cheers...

Drat...

Jun. 27th, 2017 08:31 am
alexpgp: (Default)
I edited my .emacs file to effectively upgrad my org-mode code to version 9.0.9, whereupon a pretty vital piece of my invoicing process stopped working. Undoing that edit reverted my setup back to version 8.2.10 and restored the functionality.

As there is no pressing need to upgrade, I shall stay with the older version until (and if) I figure out what changed.

Cheers...
alexpgp: (Default)
It took quote some time, and I was considering bugging someone about it, but the official notification of my membership in the France & Colonies Philatelic Society was delivered in today's post. I don't know what held up my application for over two months, but it doesn't matter, now.

Among the materials were two issues of this year's volume of the France and Colonies Philatelist, which I look forward to perusing in some depth once I get some "spare" time.

The editing job went smoothly, and my panic at the meager scope of this month's billable work was assuaged somewhat, once I hunkered down and filled in the blanks for some assignments that were delivered when they were due, but for which I had not recorded essential billing data (word counts, hours spent, etc.). The month is still a far cry from putting me on "easy street," but it will do.

I'm due for blood work tomorrow, in advance of my follow-up later in the week. Gotta make sure I get plenty of rest.

Cheers...
alexpgp: (Default)
Happy birthday to my LiveJournal account, which turns 17 today!

According to the profile genie, in that time, I've made 8,790 journal entries.

There's got to be a book or two in there, somewhere. :)

Cheers...
alexpgp: (Default)
Galina overnighted in Tucumcari, New Mexico, and pulled into the driveway here a little before 8:30 pm local time. That takes a great load off my mind.

But before that happened, a file arrived for editing at 9 am. I am, however, confident that I can take care of the job early tomorrow morning, so I only have it a once-over glance to make sure there were no unpleasant surprises in store for me tomorrow when I sit down to actually edit it.

Alla and I decided to go out to lunch at Pier 8, which was pretty crowded, but not so much as to degrade the experience of breaking bread there. Among other things, we had them filet a red snapper for us, serve them to us fried, and then took the head and backbone home with us, where Alla made a most fabulous fish soup.

The afternoon was a frenzy of clean-up (with a lot of stuff getting scanned so that the paper could be thrown out). A little of that every day, and soon... who knows?

I have a feeling tomorrow is going to be a day for hunkering down and getting things done.

But first, a little rack drill, maestro!

Cheers...
alexpgp: (Default)
Okay, so I've watched about six different YouTube videos on replacing the LCD on my Mac, and now it was time to put what I had learned (or not, as it turns out) to good use.

Removing the bezel turned out to be fairly simple, although a second pair of hands would've come in handy.


Removing the existing, cracked LCD was a little more complicated than I expected. First of all, for some reason, five of the seven screws initially gave the impression that they were not there because the places where the screws are located were covered with electrical tape. And there were screws in those locations, by the way. This amounted to a mere speed bump, however.

Next came the removal of the old LCD, and here is where stuff got, um, sticky.

The LCD is held in place by double sided tape, and between the fact that the LCD was profoundly cracked (which made removing it as a single piece well-nigh impossible) and my failing to exercise caution with my heat gun as I attempted to soften the adhesive (my bad), I managed to thoroughly screw up three of the five layers that lie behind the LCD whose purpose is to polarize, reflect, and diffuse the backlight.

I comfort myself only with the knowledge that the Plexiglas layer of this set of sheets was cracked as well and will require replacement. A session with eBay finds that replacements are available, but they cost more than the LCD.

Ah, well. I shall make a project of this, and when I am through, I will have the satisfaction of having accomplished what few would think of undertaking (mostly because those who are not part of that "few" are sane, reasonable individuals, but I digress...).

* * *

Galina decided to leave for Houston today instead of tomorrow, which is good news, but the reason for her earlier-than-planned departure was that she felt poorly, presumably because of the altitude. I told her to consult a doctor, she said it wasn't necessary. Grrr.

Cheers...
alexpgp: (Default)
I was browsing through Netflix offerings and paused to examine a potential candidate titled Last Knights on the basis of seeing Morgan Freeman's face on the graphic Netflix shows for the movie. The description seemed reasonable and the duration not excessive, so I hit "play."

Spoilers follow.

At about the point where it became clear that the character played by Morgan Freeman— that of a noble lord of an imperial province—was about to be executed, I got to thinking about how his demise exhibited, broadly speaking, similarity to the death of the nobleman in the story of the 47 Ronin, a classic Japanese story with aspects that I, at least, don't understand fully, principally (I suspect) for cultural reasons.

However, when the property of the character played by Freeman is forfeited to the emperor, when his knights become "disavowed" (effectively making them masterless, making them essentially equivalent to ronin, or masterless samurai), when they are forced to work at whatever menial jobs they can find, and when the commander of said knights falls into a long, alcoholic tailspin under the watchful eye of spies sent to keep an eye on him by the emperor's official responsible for the death of Freeman's character, I no longer had any doubt as to the provenance of the story, and simply settled back to enjoy this Westernized version of the classic Japanese tale (very similar to the way John Sturges's The Magnificent Seven was a Westernized version of Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai), with a weather eye peeled for how certain aspects of the story would have to be changed to adhere to Western customs.

Specifically, I was curious as to how the finale of the story would be handled. In the Japanese version, the surviving ronin all commit seppuku (ritual suicide) to atone for their retributive actions. In Last Knights, the knights do not commit suicide, but neither do they all get off scot-free to live happily ever after, either. I found the solution to be reasonable, given the plot line.

Overall, I enjoyed the movie.

Cheers...

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