Two Years in Vermont

Submitted by Bill St. Clair on Sat, 01 Apr 2017 15:29:34 GMT  <== Personal ==> 

Today is the second anniversary of moving into my little apartment in Vermont. Still loving it here. Just returned from getting a two-week supply of vegetables from the farmers market. About to take my near-daily mile walk to the little coffee shop I frequent, for a black eye (coffee with two shots of espresso), and time with Angelica, the proprietress, and her two-year-old daughter, Brooklyn. Life is good.

The stuff in the upper photo below is what I took in my car from the house when my wife kicked me out. I lived with that for two weeks in my brother's house, while finding the apartment. I picked up a truckload more of stuff soon thereafter.

Stuff in New Apartment 150401
Stuff in New Apartment

Walmart Run 150401
Walmart Run to Outfit the Empty Place

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Mocker Switchback Review

Submitted by Bill St. Clair on Thu, 30 Mar 2017 08:07:41 GMT  <== Personal ==> 

Utilikilts redesigned their kilts. The new ones are called "Switchback", after their adjustable rear end, with stretch and velcro. I just got one, the Mocker Switchback, in Basil Twill. I posted the following review:

Got my first Mocker Switchback two days ago (Basil Twill). Love it!

I got my first Utilikilt in 2009, the old standard (now called "Spartan"). Bought one more every spring since then, except 2016, all Mockers except the first one and a black Workman. After kilt number three, I wore them in the warm months. After kilt number five, I found that cheap sweat pants kept me warm enough in the winter, and I ditched all the pants except those sweat pants, and some long johns to wear under them on the really cold days. This one makes kilt number eight.

One big problem with the old Mockers was that the pockets grew holes. I've taken two of them to the local seamstress for pocket repair. I predict that the new model will have no such problem. The pockets are made out of the same tough material as the rest of the kilt, and are sewed in place, instead of allowed to flap around inside.

I love that it actually SAYS "Mockers" on the back of the new kilt.

I miss the back pocket. Store my knife there. It fits on the back of a front pocket, but I don't like that as much.

I haven't yet tried the buttons that hold the front together.

Bottom line: You guys hit it out of the park with the new design. Bravo!

Mocker Switchback Basil Twill Mocker Switchback Rear View

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Dinosaur Updated

Submitted by Bill St. Clair on Mon, 17 Oct 2016 00:32:50 GMT  <== Personal ==> 

I said three posts back:

I'm a dinosaur, too. A dinosaur who loves to dance. And sing. And play the trombone. And ride a bicycle. And my next post will be about those things, especially the bicycle.

Well, this isn't the next post, but close enough for jazz, and government work.

For many years, I used this blog to be angry. I'd find things on the web to be angry about, and I'd spew that anger all over my blog. Well, I've mellowed. A lot. I'm hardly ever angry any more. Not even about Hillary, or Donald. Life has affirmed what I knew all along:

There are no political solutions to any problem. Politics is itself the cause of most of the problems it purports to solve.

So I dance a lot. Wild, free-form dancing, to music with an infectious backbeat. My favorite bands are local:


  1. Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds, from Brooklyn. Must dance music. Six men, including trumpet and bari sax behind a tiny woman with infinite energy. They'll be in Albany at the end of October. Not a great dancing venue, but I bought a ticket in the back row, so I can either stand up and dance in my seat, or go behind the seats.

    Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds

  2. The Interlopers. More must dance music. The original group broke up when they all graduated from Berklee School of Music in Boston, but Curtis Kelley, the drummer, singer, and writer of most of their music, has put together a new group. I look forward to dancing with them sometime soon.

    The Interlopers

  3. Adam Ezra Group, from Boston, plays upbeat folk music. Adam puts his whole soul into it. And what a beautiful violin player. Yow!

    Adam Ezra Group

There's also dancing the third Friday of every month at the local Yoga studio. Every two or three months I put together the play list, of whatever songs made me dance during that time period.

I'm not currently playing my trombone in a group, though I played in a local concert band over the summer. I sing with a 50-person choir on Monday nights, with an amazing director. We'll have sing gigs around Christmas and in the spring, then the band will start again in the summer.

Music rocks!

Trombone

But what about the bicycle? As you may remember, I hit a deer with my Scooter in August of 2014. Fell down, rolled like a log, and broke seven ribs. Walked away thanks to really good riding armor.

When I moved to southern Vermont, I packed my stuff in a U-Haul truck, including the bike, which ran, but didn't have full motion of the steering. The place I took it, a few miles from my apartment, totalled it, deciding that it would cost more to fix than it was worth. Geico paid me enough to pay off the loan and buy a nice bicycle.

After I graduated MIT, I rode a bicycle all around Boston, from 1978 until I moved to the Berkshires to get married in 1991. In the Berkshires there were big hills and long distances, so I let the bicycle rust. It has been wonderful to be pedalling around town again. I take the car when I need to go far away, but locally, I ride or walk.

New Bicycle

But the best illustration of the simplicity of my life is my key chain. I carry two keys, one for the apartment and one for the car.

Keys

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Medium and Steemit and Gab, Oh My!

Submitted by Bill St. Clair on Sat, 15 Oct 2016 10:47:12 GMT  <== Personal ==> 

One reason I'm not blogging much any more on my Lisplog sites is that most of my writing these days is on Medium or Steemit.

I like Medium because communication there tends to be kinder than on other sites. There is still strong disagreement, but somehow their platform encourages discussion of issues more than deprecation of character. It's also visually beautiful, and has an incredible online text editor. Check out my essay, What I Believe (also at billstclair.com/beliefs).

On Medium, I end up responding to gun grabbers more than anything, even though, as L. Neil Smith says, in Why Did it Have to be... Guns?, that's really not my only issue.

People accuse me of being a single-issue writer, a single-issue thinker, and a single-issue voter, but it isn't true. What I've chosen, in a world where there's never enough time and energy, is to focus on the one political issue which most clearly and unmistakably demonstrates what any politician--or political philosophy--is made of, right down to the creamy liquid center.

Make no mistake: all politicians--even those ostensibly on the side of guns and gun ownership--hate the issue and anyone, like me, who insists on bringing it up. They hate it because it's an X-ray machine. It's a Vulcan mind-meld. It's the ultimate test to which any politician--or political philosophy--can be put.

If a politician isn't perfectly comfortable with the idea of his average constituent, any man, woman, or responsible child, walking into a hardware store and paying cash--for any rifle, shotgun, handgun, machinegun, anything--without producing ID or signing one scrap of paper, he isn't your friend no matter what he tells you.

If he isn't genuinely enthusiastic about his average constituent stuffing that weapon into a purse or pocket or tucking it under a coat and walking home without asking anybody's permission, he's a four-flusher, no matter what he claims.

What his attitude--toward your ownership and use of weapons--conveys is his real attitude about you. And if he doesn't trust you, then why in the name of John Moses Browning should you trust him?

If he doesn't want you to have the means of defending your life, do you want him in a position to control it?

If he makes excuses about obeying a law he's sworn to uphold and defend--the highest law of the land, the Bill of Rights--do you want to entrust him with anything?

If he ignores you, sneers at you, complains about you, or defames you, if he calls you names only he thinks are evil--like "Constitutionalist"--when you insist that he account for himself, hasn't he betrayed his oath, isn't he unfit to hold office, and doesn't he really belong in jail?

Steemit enables those who are popular with the "whales" to earn fake money with their writing. Except it's not completely fake. Steemit's content, and its "money", are blockchain-based, like Bitcoin. I've never been comfortable with money that has no basis in physical reality, i.e. gold or silver or other durable, fungible commodities. But you can trade both Steem dollars and Bitcoins for Federal Reserve Notes (FRNs), and the guy at the corner store will trade you food for those pieces of paper and worthless tokens. So they're effectively money.

BTW, my account started out being worth $6. It went up to over $20 after I wrote a couple of popular essays. It's under $10 today. So, as usual, I'm not managing to make money off of popularity. My likes don't tend to be mainstream.

Look at the people I follow on Steemit for some good reading. One advantage, and drawback, of Steemit, is that everything is public, all recorded on their blockchain for all eternity. Well, everything except your very long passphrases, which they generate, with no option I can to find choose them yourself.

Gab is a new Twitter-like service that focuses on free speech. They have a handful of rules, a bunch of legalese about Terms of Service, and a Privacy Policy, and all three pretty much make sense. They're in beta. I applied nine days ago, and have not yet received my invitation. They said when I applied that it could take up to four weeks. So I only know the tone of the place by the Tweets of their CEO, Andrew Torba, gab.ai/a. I followed him for a while, but he filled my stream, so I stopped. The guy likes to talk. More on Gab after I have some actual experience there.

Writing this post has reminded me of why I like Lisplog, the blogging system I wrote, in Lisp. It's very responsive, and does everything exactly how I like it. But it's a dinosaur in the online world, saving everything as plain text, so that it serves up instantly, without any waiting for code to run or database to respond.

Come to think of it, I'm a dinosaur, too. A dinosaur who loves to dance. And sing. And play the trombone. And ride a bicycle. And my next post will be about those things, especially the bicycle.

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New Kitchen Faucet

Submitted by Bill St. Clair on Tue, 23 Dec 2014 03:21:18 GMT  <== Personal ==> 

Our kitchen faucet has been leaking under the sink, from, I think, one of the supply hoses. Finally went with the wife to Home Depot and got a replacement. Installing it took, as usual, much longer than I thought it would, losing nearly the whole morning today. When I thought I was done, I turned it on, and the water ran for a few seconds, then stopped. I could not convince it to flow again. So I took it apart, and found a valve that required, I think, more pressure than I have to open; my water is gravity fed from a spring up the hill. Removing the valve, and the flow limiter in the aerator, made it work well.

New
New Faucet

Faucet Valve and Flow Limiter
Pressure valve on left, flow limiter on right

Pressure valve end view
Pressure valve end view

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Tree Falls on House

Submitted by Bill St. Clair on Mon, 04 Jun 2012 00:21:05 GMT  <== Personal ==> 

Yesterday morning, a tree fell on our house. Nobody hurt. Tree dispatched by my neighbor, to be burned to make maple syrup next spring. Patch put over the hole until we get it fixed.

Photos and video clips of removal at billstclair.com/treefallsonhouse

treefallsonhouse-05.jpg

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Jogging Can Be Fun!

Submitted by Bill St. Clair on Mon, 30 Jan 2012 11:34:52 GMT  <== Personal ==> 

I went to my doctor recently for a yearly physical, and, a couple of weeks later, for a followup to go over blood test results. Need to increase my Vitamin D, which I'm doing by adding a second 2,000 IU pill to my daily regimen. More disturbing was high blood sugar AND insulin levels. That's called "Syndrome X", and its stress on the pancreas tends to lead to type 2 diabetes. So it's less fat and carbs, especially late in the day, and more exercise for Mr. Bill.

I'm not good at limiting my diet, and other than an occasional binge on ice cream or chips, I eat pretty well. So those binges have to stop, and I intend to slowly cut my meal portions. Have had some success at that, but am probably still eating too much.

I'm having better luck with increasing the exercise. I already walk for 30-45 minutes with the dogs, almost every day, but it's easy work. I first tried jogging after my Dad bought Kenneth H. Cooper's book, Aerobics, in 1968. Hated it. Made me feel awful. It took 43 more years to learn, from my kids, that landing on your heels while running damages your body. We're built to land on the balls of our feet, using the ankle joint as a natural spring to absorb the shock. And my doctor recommended combining sprinting and walking. Tried both. Jackpot. I jog until I'm out of breath, then walk until I'm not. It's fun!

Of course this is not without pain. I've had sore muscles, and appear to have pulled something in my left big toe, but sore muscles recover, and are stronger for it. I get out of breath in about 100 yards, but since I no longer have a problem with that, it'll get better over time. When 4 days of jogging turns to 40, I'll bet I see a marked improvement. Maybe I'll even try going barefoot in the spring, like my son.

Looking forward to having much more energy. I go back to the doctor in April for a progress check.

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The Gift of Life

Submitted by Bill St. Clair on Mon, 26 Dec 2011 07:31:13 GMT  <== Personal ==>   <== Philosophy ==> 

Every cell of your body
is singing in ecstasy.
Be that song.

Feel it.
Every cell.
Perfect harmony.
Always.

Be that song.

Be here now.

[received at 2:20am on 26 December, 2011]

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Fundraiser Recordings

Submitted by Bill St. Clair on Fri, 08 Apr 2011 00:44:32 GMT  <== Personal ==> 

The Fundraiser for Victoria I blogged 3 weeks back went well. Good audience, good performances, yummy baked goods, and generous donations. If you want to listen to us, go to victoria.nfshost.com/music, and please donate, via the Chipin widget there, if you can.

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Fundraiser for Victoria

Submitted by Bill St. Clair on Thu, 17 Mar 2011 13:31:13 GMT  <== Personal ==> 

victoria.nfshost.com is a small web site my wife created, soliciting donations to help with our medical expenses for our daughter, Victoria. She has been sick and out of school, with Lyme and other tick-borne diseases, since April of 2009. We have medical insurance, and it's helping a lot, but there's a lot it doesn't cover. We've been spending nearly everything I make on doctors, vitamins, herbs, and prescription drug copays, but there are some therapies that Karla thinks would be useful that we can't afford. Karla and our son, Christopher, have organized a fund-raising concert, with local artists, students at his college, and me, playing mostly jazz. We also have a chipin, if you can't come to the concert, but want to help.

Victoria

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