Thursday, December 03, 2009

One of fifty...

I owned this bike since it was one month old in 1987. It's a Fuso MTB, made by Dave Moulton, who has since retired. There are a few more pics here. The first pic is not of my bike however, mine's a 22 inch frame. The paint job etc are identical though.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Woe to Vista...

I have just one laptop with Windows Vista installed on it. As it was purchased a year after the launch of Vista, most of the weirdness and faults that give the Vista OS its unique "charm" had already been patched and fixed. I wouldn't say it offered many, or any advantages over XP, but it was on the machine, and it worked.
A couple of weeks ago I started noticing that some updates and patches for the OS (the ones that come down the Interweb pipe to the laptop on a semi-regular basis) were repeatedly failing to install. A little digging, and a lot of the failures were due to something called the .net framework failing, and also an update/service pack for the .net framework. A little googling revealed that several other people had exactly the same issue as me, and had tried all manner of fixes, including time with Microsoft's tech support, and had failed to resolve the issue. I was sure I wouldn't be added to the list of the severely frustrated. Little was I to know.
After trying the various fixes outlined by Microsoft MVP's on the web, nothing worked. So I called Microsoft's Tech support. Very nice "help" from people in Indonesia, and then later in India, but everything they tried failed miserably. I spent a total of two and a half hours on the phone with them, essentially for nothing.
The next day a chipper voice called me from Microsoft, asking whether the issue was resolved or not, and was a little perturbed when I told him the sorry state of affairs, and that I was just not interested in spending yet more time on the phone.
I suspect the only sure "cure" for this issue is a full reinstall of the OS, followed by interminable downloads of the hundreds of security patches, followed by a reinstallation of all the applications, user data and settings. In other words: hours and hours of work.
Meanwhile, I "hid" the offending .net framework update. At least it doesn't try to repeatedly keep failing to install itself any more. The laptop isn't optimally functional, but I will keep on using it till the day I HAVE TO reinstall everything.
Memo to Microsoft: this is unacceptable.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ecology week...

In the space for one car fit 42 Bromptons...and they are stacked just one deep. Imagine how many would fit if they were to keep stacking them to the height of the adjacent vehicles.

Monday, August 24, 2009


No idea how heavy this thing is, but it's a pretty neat concept.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Maratac and ITP EOS AAA flashlights

These are maybe the two hottest little AAA flashlights right now. The one on the left is the Maratac AAA, which is made by ITP, who also make the black light on the right. Both are tiny pocket rockets, especially when run from 10440 Li-Ion cells.
Though they come from the same factory there are differences between them. My EOS has more output than the Maratac, and the EOS beam is also appreciably more concentrated (despite the EOS reflector having more pronounced Orange Peel). Reading comments at CandlePowerForums others experience the same, or opposite, so YMMV. Also, the threading is better and has a tighter tolerance on the Maratac.
I took the keyring nub off the end of my EOS today. I couldn't imagine carrying this little gem on my keyring anyway, getting it all scratched up. I can report that the anodization is very hard, and generously thick. I ended up using a dremel, a couple of grades of emery paper, then some Mothers Aluminum polish.
That little sucker gleams like a mirror now. Just have to remember never to get fingerprints on it, and to buff it regularly ;-)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Puppy Linux: v4.2 "Deep Thought"

Just installed this to the hard drive of my relatively newish, though 5 years old Toughbook CF-18, after trying it out first as a "live CD".
Impressions: Fast, VERY full-featured, makes XP look so very bloated let alone Vista, and has a surprisingly slender learning curve....which is always nice for ex-Windows geeks like myself. There may be some issues with installing more complex hardware like Printers, Scanners, WebCams etc, but so far it has been almost all plug-and-play. Now, why can't Microsoft be so smart???
Get it, or read about it here Puppy Linux
Download it in a couple of minutes, burn the ISO to CD, then try it out live, before deciding whether to install it to the hard drive. Boy, the extra speed is so nice!! Did I ever mention that it is fast ;-)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

CurriedFishRot's* ancestor..."The Lost System of Jigger Johnson"

This system was played continuously for 10 of the last 22 years irregularly in both Pairs competition, and Teams, by Neill Currie and Tony Melucci. In one twelve month period they played at only three tournaments, winning 5 consecutive minor Pairs events at the San Francisco Nationals, three consecutive one-day Open Pairs events at the Las Vegas Regional, and the "New England Pairs Championship" at The Regional in Burlington VT. It was quite a "year". It seemed that whenever they played, providing Neill didn't totally butcher a hand, or fall asleep at the table, or if Tony could rein in his proclivity for a large number, they had a chance.

Note from Neill Currie: Tony was getting a little bored playing Currified Precision. So five minutes before the start of a Pairs event at a Sectional at Adventures in Bridge in San Diego, I taught him the changes to switch from the 5 card Major version to the 4 card major version. That afternoon we scored 73% (Tony remembers the score as 76%), and we never played Currified Precision again.

The System utilizes the lightest opening bids allowed by the ACBL (8+ HCP, and 4+ card length), a forcing Club, a completely artificial 1D opening showing ANY (unbalanced) shape at all (12-14 HCP), weak 2H and 2S on a puny 0-7 HCP and 5+ length, and a 2-suited over-calling system that stresses showing shape not HCP.
For the curious, here are more details:

Bridge Agreements: March 2011


1NT opening: 10-14 first 3 positions. In 4th seat: 14-17.
Stayman, red-suit transfers and Minor Suit Stayman over any 14+ HCP 1 or 2 NT opener, or after a 1 or 2 NT rebid after opening 1C.
We play "Touching Escapes" when a 10-14 NT gets doubled.
If it goes 1NT, pass, pass, double,....then Opener plays "Touching Escapes" himself.
Lebensol when necessary....isn't it always???
Forcing Stayman only applies after a 10-14NT.
If they overcall our 1NT with a *natural* 2C or 2D, then doubles by 3rd hand are negative.....and opener is expected to protect a pass by 3rd hand (which may include a search for penalties).


After our 1C opener(15+ HCP, any shape):

1NT response is either 9-10 or 17+ hcp, 2H is 11-12, 2S is 13-14, 2NT response shows 15-16. Clubs is always Stayman, all suit bids are natural and game-forcing.
If they overcall our 1C opener: our suit bids show 5-8 HCP and 5+ suit, NF. Double shows any 9+ HCP, GF. Cue bid shows 9+ HCP, GF, either asking for a stopper for NT, or showing no biddable length.
If they overcall our 1C opener: our 1NT shows 5-7 hcp with a stopper, our 2NT shows 8-9 hcp with a stopper, our 3NT shows 10-11 hcp with a stopper. Then 2C and 3C bids are always Stayman, suit bids are natural and forcing 1 round.

A 4C bid over 3NT shows ???
Suit bids over 3NT are to play??? or forcing 1 round???

A 4NT bid shows/asks what???


After our 1D opener(good 13-14 HCP, usually unbalanced when vul):
Simple 1NT rebid will show 3 card support for major when Vul.
2NT jump rebid shows 5+/5+ in minors.
Support doubles through 2H.
Negative freebids through 3D.
Responder game-forces over overcalls by first doubling then bidding a suit.
1D-2C, and 1D-2D are F1R+.
2NT response shows 11 hcp, no major.
New suits by responder are always F1R.
All jump responses are weak, except 1D-2H shows exactly 4 spades and 5 hearts, and a weak hand(if second hand doubles, it reverts to weak with 6 hearts)


After our 1H/1S openers (8-12 HCP, 4+ suit):
Support doubles through 2H.
Negative freebids through 3D.
Responder game-forces over overcalls by first doubling then bidding a suit.
All jump responses are weak.
New suits by responder are always F1R.
All major raises tend to be pre-emptive, but we are bidding opposite a known, tight-range opener.

1M-2C is artificial/natural, GF. Openers first rebid is natural. We need to discuss continuations.

1M-2D is ostensibly natural and F1R, but needs alerting as it may not be what most people would consider bidding 2D on, due to the nature of the 2C bid above.

1M-2NT is basically Jacoby. opener rebids to show a shortage, rebids 3M to show no shortage with a minimum, 3NT to show no shortage with a maximum.


Over our 2C opener, 8-12 with 5+ clubs, may have a 4 card major:
2D forces and asks.
2H and 2S are to play, as are all other suit bids.


Over our 2D opener, 8-12 with 5+ diamonds, may have a 4 card major:
2NT forces and asks.
2H and 2S are to play, as are all other suit bids.


If we open an artificial bid: 1 Club, or 1 Diamond, then the subsequent first double by either opener or responder is NOT PENALTY. It is either a forcing noise, or for takeout.
If we open 1C and get a positive response, all doubles are penalty.
If we open 1NT (or 2NT ???), if they intervene and we double, then that is for penalty.
After our 1D/H/S opening bid, double by them:
Redouble by us (3rd hand)shows cards. If followed with a new suit bid it is GF+.
After our 2C or 2D opening bids, double by them:
Redouble is the only forcing noise.
All suit bids are natural, non-forcing.

CurriedFishRot is a system first played in 1989 by Steve Rothman, and Billy Fishbeck; devised by Neill Currie. It first employed a nebulous 1 club opener, a strong 1 diamond opener, 8-11 hcp 1M openers, and a 12-14 hcp 1NT opener. Since then, it has morphed a little into what you read above, and has been played under the guise of "The lost System of Jigger Johnson" for the last 12 or so years. For a somewhat fictionalized backdrop to the history of the system, please read here. My BBO User Name is jota981 if you have questions, or, I may have enabled comments on this blog.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Barbara, just before leaving Chennai for Madurai

Barbara is leaving Chennai in 2 days to travel to Madurai where she'll spend a couple of weeks in an Ashram. She sent me a couple of pics. It's getting hot there now (into the 90's), and VERY humid, she says.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

More pics...

From Barbara...

Letter from Barbara.

I'm having an amazing time and have stayed healthy except for a bad cold the second week. Unfortunately Neill got very sick his last day and had to go to the hospital once he got home and then go to a parishioners house to be taken care of. Bad stomach virus.

I go to a different church every Sunday to preach and give greetings. The churches here can have a thousand families. The first time a helped with communion at the rail for over 500 people, my back felt like it would never straighten out. These big churches sometimes have an assistant pastor but sometimes not. This past Sunday I went gave greetings and did the communion at one church and then went with the pastor to two smaller churches that he goes to on a monthly basis for sacraments. Even the smaller churches were filled and overflowing, children sitting on mats in the front. It's wonderful to see all these enthusiastic Christians, many of them new converts; I understand that those who are like 4th generation Christians are no longer so active--what can we do to keep faith alive? After the 3 churches, we went to do a house blessing and had a big meal. I like the food and eat most of it; however, I can't get use to eating with my hands. I asked for a spoon and they had to go down the street looking for one. The next stop was a birthday service for a one year old. On the way I was asked to do the sermon--5 min. That's probably the area I've grown most in, letting the Spirit speak through me and I'm amazed at some of the things I come up with.

I'm working with several women's programs. They have a granny program where they give provisions monthly as well as counseling. Once they found out I was a Rev. many wanted me to pray for them. They stood in line kneeling at my feet. Most of them could not understand English but they knew I was praying. Some church services are in English but two of the three I've been at are in Tamil and so I have a translator. That language problem is the worst. Anyhow 4 of the grannies wanted to come see me the next day at the Bethany House where other womens programs happen. We had great fun together, individual prayers of course, translated conversations and ended with a group hug. We were more than an hour late meeting with them but they waited. Everything here except for church runs pretty late. Traffic is a big part of that reason.

I'm also teaching some of the self-help group how to crochet. I found a pattern for easy coin purses that I thought they might make and sell. It will take a lot of practice.

I'm also working with some children whose families live on the street. The diocese pays their tuition to religious school and provides daily study time from 4-6 so they can have a place for homework and some nutrition. I loved playing with them--did the hokey pokey. Anyhow I'll attach a few pictures of what I have described. I leave Chennai, my month long service project in one week and go on to a seminary in Madurai. The worst part has been loneliness in my living situation. 85% of the time I have been by myself in the Bishop's guest house. It's okay except for dinner time. They brought me food at first but now I go out to eat but there are only a few places close by.

All in all I'm glad I'm here. Love, Barbara

Barbara in Chennai still.

It's her last week there. She took a side trip to Velore to visit one of the other Church Programs, but these pictures were all taken in Chennai. The one pic of her playing soccer without a ball with several children, is apparently her trying to teach them the Hokey Kokey (Hokey Pokey to Americans??).

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Latest Pics from Barbara in Chennai

Just got these from Barbara in Chennai via email. Here's her description of them:
"1) Pastor Barbara arriving in Chennai to start month of volunteering with Professor Cornelius, in charge of volunteers. 2) First Sunday, preached and shared in Eucharist at Holy Cross--conservative Anglican church. Shown with their Pastor. 3)Daycare children performing for volunteers in Bethany House, my main placement. 4) Pastor Barbara with some children and staff at Bethany House. 5) All dressed up with other volunteers at a celebration for Indian pastor that just received his DMin."

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Just back....

It took roughly 48 hours of mind-numbing plane journeys and mammoth layovers, but, I am back!!! I currently have terrible stomach cramps and gas, but here are a few pics from the last few days in Calcutta. In order: a small shrine by the river, a mix of the old and new (super modern bridge, with ancient fishing vessels on the bank), the towers of the bridge behind a public building often used for music and plays, and lastly, a video of a fairly typical street market scene in Calcutta. As usual, you can click on any of the pics to get a much larger rendering. Just click the play button to play the video. More videos have been uploaded to youtube. Just search for videos from luckybj2003

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Varanasi last day

Our last day here in Varanasi.
Writing this in possibly the nicest Internet Cafe we have seen.......anywhere in the World. Not only is the Cappucino excellent, but it's full of the local silks and fabrics to browse through and possibly buy. If the suitcases were no already bursting that is.
We board the overnight train to Calcutta at 4pm today, arriving there at 7am. So far the rail has been an easy way to travel, provided we have reserved seats.

Here's a link to someone elses video, showing a typical street scene here.

Varanasi, the holiest city in India.

We've been here a couple of nights now. Both of us ate something a bit too delicious for our weak white stomachs last night, and paid for it this morning. I also had a really bad (lack-of-caffein-related) migraine, which has mostly fixed itself....but not without the aid of a thousand Mg of Ibuprofen and some drug-induced sleep.

It's taking so long to upload video's as the upload speeds are slow, so I may have to wait till I return to the USA before posting more video.

Here's two links to whet your appetite.
Link #1

Link #2

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Erotic Temples at Khajuraho

Spent the morning visiting the amazing Temple complex here at Khajuraho. Lots of them built around a thousand years ago, the guide said there were about 85 built in all, though many have fallen into misuse and disrepair since. Many of the temples are famous for their erotic carvings, inspiration for the Karma Sutra, which was to be written centuries later.
At times I had to shield Barbara's eyes from some of the more explicit work, scroll to the bottom of the linked page to find out what I mean.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Taj Mahal and The Red Fort in Agra

Visited the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort today. Both are in Agra, both are large, impressive monuments with legends and history attached to them. Though having already seen the Taj in many pictures before, nothing prepared us for the magnificence of the building, its location, and the unbelievable condition it is still in....even after centuries of use. It's simply amazing, amazing!!
I also posted a video or two on showing a couple of minutes worth of video of the Taj. Search youtube for videos from luckybj2003.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

more delhi pics

Delhi links

Temples in Delhi

We have had some great food here, both at our hotel, and on the street. Sometimes in littles holes in the wall you wouldn't be caught dead in back in the USA.

Street life

Friday, January 16, 2009


Fascinating city. Seems like we have been here ages,yet it has been just a couple of days.
Here's a few snaps we took, nothing major. They are mostly pics of tombs and local sights, one pic of Barbara with our tour organizer taken in the hotel.

Delhi Pics and video

The pics on the still camera proved unworthy, but there are video clips. Search youtube for videos from luckybj2003