Monday, July 31, 2017

Culture - The Style Column (Guest Blogger Update)

If I were to be interviewed for the Style column in the Chronicle, my answers would be;

  1. Style Heroes - I don't have style heroes either, I like what I like and that's that. I suppose I could say the person who invented denim jeans, can't live without those.
  2. Home - A town south of Gatwick airport in the South East of England.
  3. Pairs of Shoes - Daft question, I have absolutely no idea as I don't have an inventory of my collection.
  4. Favorite Accessory - My eyes, I need them to see where I'm going.
  5. Should Toss But Can't - Ah hem - shoes that I have forgotten I possess.
  6. Trend You'll Never Wear - shorts, never have, never will. 
  7. On Bedside Table - An alarm clock and a pile of 5 books I have started to read and mean to get back to. 
  8. Recent Purchase - A new car! Deposit paid.
  9. Must-Have Beauty Products - Shampoo, conditioner, eyebright, eyeshadow, eyeliner, lip balm
  10. First Car - A red Mini, my Dad bought for 100 GBP and eventually gave to me
  11. Favorite Vacation Destination - UK islands, cities and Scotland. Amsterdam was pretty good too.  
  12. Most-Hated Household Chore - I don't do chores
  13. Favorite Word - Happy
  14. Favorite Food - Indian and Italian
  15. Hidden Talent - Nothing hidden unless I haven't discovered it yet
  16. Best Advice You Ever Had - "It's only work, not real life"
  17. Surprising Thing About Yourself - I don't cry (except when I laugh sometimes).
  18. Backup Career - The rock star idea crashed and burned as I cannot sing so no backup, I worry about things when they happen, not before.
  19. Worst Job Ever - Not had a bad job really. When I was a teenager I had a summer job on a fish and chip van. I smelt bad and got burnt a bit even though I was not handling the fryers.

Texas - Bathroom redo - take 3

Getting close. Only the glass for the shower is left to install, which should be this week.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Culture - Great writing - Frank Bruni of the New York Times


CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

At this point I think it’s fair to say that Donald Trump has gone beyond taunting and demonizing Hillary Clinton to a realm of outright obsession.
He’s stalking her.
He can’t stop tweeting about her. Can’t stop muttering about her. On Monday he addressed tens of thousands of boy scouts at their Jamboree, and who should pop up in his disjointed thoughts and disheveled words? Clinton. He dinged her, yet again, for having ignored voters in Michigan, which he won.
The Jamboree, mind you, was in West Virginia.
And it brought together dewy-eyed adolescents, not dyspeptic acolytes of the Heritage Foundation. Most cared more about — I don’t know — camping gear, crafts projects and merit badges than whether the Democratic nominee should have made an additional stop in Grand Rapids and maybe scarfed down a funnel cake in Kalamazoo while she was at it.
But Trump doesn’t meet his audiences on their terms. He uses each as a sounding board for his vanities, insecurities, delusions and fixations. Clinton factors mightily into all of these. She’s his psychological dominatrix.
Continue reading the main story
He keeps telling us that he’s president and we’re not. Does he know that he’s president and she’s not? Does he realize that most Americans can go a whole day, an entire week — verily, a month! — without picturing her at a rostrum, hearing the melody of her stump speech or repeating, “I’m with her”?
At least they could if Trump would shut up about her. I understand that he misses her, but, sheesh, send some Godiva chocolates and move on.
Many political observers have been marveling at recent tweets of his that blasted Jeff Sessions, his attorney general, for not reinvestigating and potentially prosecuting Clinton for supposed crimes. He ripped into Sessions anew at a brief news conference on Tuesday afternoon.

But the other half of that equation is Clinton, and it’s just as remarkable that more than eight months after Election Day, Trump is still hauling his vanquished opponent out for public ridicule and marching her toward the stockade. Did Barack Obama do that with John McCain or George Bush with Al Gore or Bill Clinton with the previous George Bush? No, no and no.
Many political observers have noted Trump’s hyperconsciousness of Barack Obama, who was also mentioned in those remarks to the boy scouts, which were so inappropriately political and self-centered that parents actually lodged complaints.
But Clinton is more precious to him. While he merely itches to erase Obama from the history books, he’s desperate to keep her at the center of every page. Beneath all of his braggadocio about the genius of his campaign strategy and the potency of his connection to blue-collar Americans, he knows that he made it to the White House largely because many voters didn’t want her there and he was Door No. 2.
So he reminds them of that. Over and over again.
It would be one thing if he had amassed a trove of accomplishments and watched his approval ratings climb. But the opposite is true, so he depends on a foil who flatters him, a fork in the road that he can portray as rockier and swampier. That’s Clinton’s role, and it’s more important than Jared’s and Ivanka’s and the Mooch’s combined. They whisper sweet nothings. She saves him from damnation.
Don’t look at his campaign’s relationship with Russia. Look at hers with Ukraine! Don’t focus on Don Jr.’s incriminating emails. Focus on her missing ones! And while you’re at it, tally up how many of her donors are on Robert Mueller’s staff and take fresh note of her big-dollar speeches. Seldom has a scapegoat grazed in such a profusion of pastures.

He’s more or less back to chanting “lock her up,” as if it’s early November all over again. He has frozen the calendar there so that he can perpetually savor the exhilaration of the campaign and permanently evade the drudgery of governing and the ignominy of his failure at it so far.
Nov. 8 is his “Groundhog Day,” on endless repeat, in a way that pleases and pacifies him. That movie has a co-star, Clinton. If he dwells in it, he dwells with her. He can no more retire her than Miss Havisham, in “Great Expectations,” could put away her wedding dress. Clinton brings Trump back to the moment before the rose lost its blush and the heartache set in.
During the second of their three debates, he was accused of shadowing her onstage, but that was nothing next to the way he pursues her now. His administration slips further into chaos; he diverts the discussion to her. She’s the answer to evolving scandals. She’s the antidote to a constipated agenda — or so he wagers. What stature he has inadvertently given her. And what extraordinary staying power.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Culture - The Style Column

Strange, they have never asked me to be interviewed for the Style column in the Chronicle, but if I were here my answers;

  1. Style Heroes - I don't have heroes, let alone style heroes.  It is a strange concept, maybe that is why they never asked me
  2. Home - Suburbs 30 km SW of Houston, and the country 120 km NW of Houston
  3. Pairs of Shoes - About 12, including sloggers (mud shoes) and boots, it rains a lot here
  4. Favorite Accessory - My body, I really need it, without it my mind would be stuck in one place
  5. Should Toss But Can't - I don't think I have this problem, I can toss things away with no regrets
  6. Trend You'll Never Wear - Black, I like color too much 
  7. On Bedside Table - An alarm clock, but that is boring, and people use this category to add books they are reading.  I am still reading Homo Deus and have "The House of Spies" by Daniel Silva and "The Templars' Last Secret" by Martin Walker, on my Kindle 
  8. Recent Purchase - A new magic globe to replace the one the stopped believing in magic
  9. Must-Have Beauty Products - Shampoo
  10. First Car - A Mini Van I painted lime green with a brush, bought for 200 GBP
  11. Favorite Vacation Destination - Everywhere, but Istanbul, Paris, and Manhattan are favorites 
  12. Most-Hated Household Chore - None
  13. Favorite Word - Yiddish words, they have such depth 
  14. Favorite Food - Indian, Chinese and Thai
  15. Hidden Talent - I am pretty transparent, not sure there is anything left hidden
  16. Best Advice You Ever Had - The wonders of physics I was introduced to as a teenager
  17. Surprising Thing About Yourself - I function as a coherent whole
  18. Backup Career - The aim was to keep my day job, which has worked out well. But when the price of oil was down, I once considered being "The English Gardener, LLC", a company that would design your garden, buy and plant plants suitable for the micro-climate and irrigation, and maintain and replant through the seasons on a monthly subscription
  19. Worst Job Ever - Not sure I have ever had one. I once spent a week transferring a huge pile of  construction debris to an dumpster, running a laden wheelbarrow up a plank to tip it in. As soon at the dumpster was full they brought me another one to fill.  

Click here for this weeks Style Column

Monday, July 24, 2017

Texas - No dogs in the garden

It has been so hot lately I was checking the garden to see if the sprinkler needed to run. There were two people walking by with two dogs each, with those extendable leashes that cause trouble. I had to ask why they had four, "We had two and saw two more in the animal shelter."  Nice people.

The woman said to me, "We just love your garden, and the metal work over the gates." And she went on, "It reminds me of the places in Mexico, where there is a hidden area behind the wall or fence."

I smiled, I was enjoying this, and said, "Follow me, I will show you the inside, but I cannot let the dogs in."  They followed me to the side gate, and took turns seeing the inside and holding the dogs. They really liked the Peacock Gingers and the Caladiums which thrive here.

The pleasures of gardening.