Category Archives: low life

Gin Popsicles? It’s Freezing here in Tartu!

In a normal month of July, I would be tempted by the idea of making  gin popsicles for sitting on the beach or lounging by the pool of a rich friend, while soaking up a few rays.

Not this summer here in Tartu! It is freezing! Just this morning, we had to give up our outdoor seats in the town square where we were sipping lattes. Too cold!

Image result for Tartu town square

But if you find yourself in a warmer part of the world, and perhaps even in a part of the world where you can wear shorts without goose bumps appearing on your legs, here is the recipe!

Enjoy!

The Body Slammer Goes to Washington

After the events of the other day, it was a surprise that the body slamming GOP congressional candidate from Montana, Greg Gianforte, would win the special election. Apparently, he did.

This may be because around half of the Montana electorate voted by mail before the body slam took place. At least some of those voters might have changed their votes if they had a chance. At the same time, a portion of voters who showed up at the polls after the body slam voted for Ginaforte despite his temper tantrum that led to physical violence against a reporter. They sent the body slammer to Congress, even as police were charging him with assault and battery.

To his credit, the body slammer is a successful businessman. On the other hand, he holds some odd views

Gianforte is a believer in Young Earth creationism, the belief that the Earth is less than 10,000 years old. He donated $1.5 million to the Glendive Dinosaur and Fossil Museum in Glendive, Montana, a creationist museum which teaches visitors that evolution is false, the Earth is about 6,000-6,400 years old, that dinosaurs were on the Ark and that they likely died out 4,300 years ago during the flood described in the Book of Genesi

Errr …. dinosaurs were on the Ark? Must have been a pretty big Ark!

Is it unreasonable to wonder if Mr. Gianforte will fit into the scene in Congress? He has shown that he can remember the various absurd positions that are considered normal by the GOP. But what will he do when Nancy Pelosi rises to speak in the House? Will he keep his cool?  Or will the body slammer take down all comers?

Stay tuned!

The Street Food Capital of Asia is Banning Street Food!

God save us!

Thai street food in Bangkok is famous. It is a tourist draw. It is the only way many Thais can afford to eat. And street food will be banned in Bankok by the end of the year.

Image result for Bangkok street food

The reason? The government claims that it is to promote cleanliness and safety. The real reason may be the way the military junta is thinking. They want Bangkok to be like Singapore. And street food is too yucky to fit into that vision.

Disaster? I think so. And not just for the folks who have for decades manned the food stalls. But there you go.

An Update on the Man Who Studied Wine Bottles

You probably have not heard of him. But he had a mission to stop the madness. The madness of dripping wine pours.

Over the course of a three-year study, Dr. Daniel Perlman, a biophysicist at Massachusetts’ Brandeis University, perfected a new bottle design that adds a circular groove just below the lip to keep the wine from dripping down the side of the bottle as it’s poured.

Apparently, it works.  Errr … but it will not prevent your wildly gesticulating guests from shloshing red wine onto carpets, wallpaper, clothing, and event pets.

Image result for guest spilling red wine

The pets will just have to deal with it. But there is a cure for getting rid of red wine spills – club soda. Not seltzer. Club soda.

Oscar Wilde’s Peculiar Demise

I was thinking this evening about Oscar Wilde’s prison related deprivations. It was prompted by a comment made by Wilde’s prison warden. The warden said that while Wilde was holding up in prison despite being subjected to hard labour, he would not survive more than three years after being released. Men who are unused to such treatment never do.

The man knew what he was talking about. Wilde died at the age of 45, exactly three years after his release.

How long  was Wilde’s prison term? I knew at one time but could not remember. My first thought was that it was less than a year. Or was it three years? In fact it was two years. That might not seem very long if one is just sitting in a jail cell, reading books and writing letters. But Wilde was not that fortunate In case you are wondering,

The deterrent object of imprisonment had been officially laid down as “hard labour, hard fare, and a hard bed.” Evidence given by a variety of witnesses before a recent Home Office Committee on Prisons had shown that two years imprisonment with hard labour, involving solitary cellular confinement, with its attendant laborious and largely useless work in the shape of the treadwheel [pumping water or grinding grain], the crank [turning the handle in a cylindrical metal drum] and oakum picking [separating loose fibers in old rope used in caulking scams of wooden ships], which had to be performed on a poor and inadequate diet, were calculated to break a man in body and spirit.

The last sentence of the above quote bears emphasis — hard labour was calculated to break a man in body and spirit. Being sentenced to hard labour was a serious matter, and I would guess it was a bit unusual for it to be imposed on a gentleman. Indeed, Wilde suffered enormously from hard labour. He did not complain, and he never showed bitterness over his treatment. But the punishment was brutal. If you are interested in the more lurid details, you might refer to the above link.

And perhaps Justice Wills, who had sentenced Wilde, would have been pleased by this. At sentencing, Wills said in open court

It is the worst case I have ever tried. I shall pass the severest sentence that the law allows. In my judgment it is totally inadequate for such a case as this. The sentence of the Court is that you be imprisoned and kept to hard labor for two years.

Worst case? Two years at hard labour — calculated to break a man in body and spirit — in effect, a delayed death sentence prefaced by torture,  was “totally inadequate”? Clearly Justice Wills had got his dander up.

What provoked him? I do not see the extreme provocation from what I know of the legal matter itself. True. the alleged activities were considered to be salacious but there was no violence or obviously great harm to society. To the contrary, in the Victorian era,  illegal sexual activity by members of polite society was not so serious as long as it was conducted in a discrete manner. Wilde was not an aristocrat, but he was accepted in polite society. And he was not accused of publicly conducting illegal activities. Nor was there any evidence that Wilde had injured anyone,  either physically or otherwise. Last but not least, the witnesses for the prosecution were notoriously unreliable, and testifying for money.  So, yes, there was a crime involved. But was it that horrendous? One shudders to think what additional punishment the good Judge would have imposed had he had the power to do so. Perhaps burning at the stake?

So if it was not the legal issues, what was so bloody awful? My best guess is that it had less to do with the homosexuality than the publicity about it. This was not a run of the mill trial. To the contrary, Wilde was a celebrity, and the press riveted public attention on the matter. Wilde contributed to this by his eccentric manner in court, and by having his lawyer read letters from Queensberry to evidence bullying. Unfortunately, these letters also referred to the prime minister, Gladstone and even the queen. This created an indirect suggestion that these figures —- who should have been above reproach in public —  were somehow involved in the scandal. And of course, Wilde had attempted to use his libel suit to continue what came out as a scandalous lifestyle.  Perhaps there was a feeling that unless Wilde was smacked down, the above figures and the court might be seen by the public as endorsing public immorality.  That could not be tolerated!

BTW, this line of thought finds support in the way the government acted. The first criminal prosecution of Wilde ended in a mistrial. The government might have let the matter drop and some argued at the time that this was the right thing to do. The government did the opposite, going full bore with the toughest prosecutor they could find, in order to go back to court and this time get a conviction. There is no recorded reasoning for this decision.  Using hindsight, it does appear to be excessive, though in line with Justice Wills’s level of outrage about the case.

And the government got their conviction on the second go round. The punishment then had the desired effect. Wilde was broken, bankrupted, and soon dead. And not only that, Wilde’s reputation was so blackened that his wife had to change the family name to protect their two young boys. As Churchill put it, Wilde was “obliterated”.

One hundred years later, it is not so easy to understand why all of this was necessary. The fact is that Queensberry did provoke Wilde – not just once, but repeatedly. He was acting like a nut case, which apparently he was. Wilde may have been less than brilliant in deciding to bring his libel suit, but one wonders what alternatives he had given that Queensberry was likely to continue his provocations. It was not just a matter of honor. Queensberry was attempting to  disrupt Wilde’s ability to earn his living. Given this, one might expect at least some sympathy from someone.  Nope. There were clearly emotional elements to the case that are hard to fathom from our perspective.

Perhaps we might conclude by stating the obvious – the intense emotions arose from something that we see very differently now. The Victorians were obsessed with public propriety. They would have found the rise of someone like Donald Trump unthinkable. Come to think of it, I am still getting over that one myself. No matter what happened in private, for Victorians, it had to stay there. Wilde may not have intended to breach this standard —, and he had a point that it was Queensberry who was forcing things into the open — but in the end Wilde got the blame for doing just that. The man who used publicity to make his literary fame, died from an overdose of it. No one comes out smelling like a rose from this, though Wilde’s work is still entertaining. We disregard the unpleasantness of his obliteration.

Starting off the New Year with a Bang

For some reason, the return flight from New York to Helsinki was just horrendous. It was not the Airline’s fault. True, Finnair was 3 hours late getting out of JFK, and true they gave me a voucher that was only good at Mcdonalds and a few other places that I could not find nor wanted to. Despite that, they were felicitous if less than efficient.

My problems started when I decided to spend my unexpected 3 hour layover at JFK with Bobby Van.

Image result for Bobby Van JFK

What could go wrong? Allow me to explain. Too much food and wine just before a long flight. ´Funny that I did not think of that while I drained glass after glass of Sancere and bantered with the waiter who had become my best friend in the world. Sitting on the plane, I had the distinct impression that Godzilla was trying to escape my tummy via my bellybutton. And my lower back started to groan that I was the bastard child of a rabid whore dog. My head promptly fell off onto the floor and I could not reach down to pick it up. Worst of all, I forgot my lovely hat as we disembarked.

I liked that hat and will miss it. But the loss of the headpiece had more immediate effects. Stepping out of the departure gate to board the bus for the Tallinn plane, a razor cold gust of wind made what is left of my hair to fall out. I was back in Scandinavia! Hooray!

“Good thing”, I thought, “that I am going back to a warm home.” Errrr …. not so fast. My ex called while I sat in the airport to remind me that most of the radiators in the house were not working while I waited for delivery of a new bedroom unit. Ooops!

She was helpful to a point. In addition to rearranging my papers, she had cleared off all of the dishes and such from the wood fired stove in the kitchen and she relayed that her brother had been heating the place for a few days that way. “But” she said, “it may be a bit nippy when you arrive. He forgot to heat the place today. Stop at the gas station on the way home  and buy some wood.”

Yikes! And so it was. That night, back in Tartu, I burned wood, reflected on my trip, and began to feel a tiny bit better. Even my back started to loosen up a bit after I imbibed my usual turmeric concoction.

Then I found I had a comment waiting on this blog for review. Here it is

Hillary is Pinocchio and greedy and murderer and power hungry and egotistical…DUH…..When Bill was governor of Arkansas, Hillary asked when are the f…ng ree-tards (handicapped childrens) getting out of here……….Hillary asked Louise “How long do I have to keep this kid (her own daughter)…DUH……..People are too blind to see TRUTH about her……

The first three words were promising. But as I read further I felt myself sliding down into a whirlwind of angry nonsense. How do people get into such snits?

A thought began to trouble me. Is this what the new year has in store for us? Good Lord! Better stock up on the Bushmills!

And BTW, a hearty thank you to all of my dear friends who tolerated my blovations while I visited!

Onward!

PS Usually things start looking better after a good night’s sleep After I woke up, I promptly lost my car keys.

You Think You have Regrets?

Consider this

There was a little-known third cofounder of Apple named Ronald Wayne. Two weeks after Apple was incorporated in 1976, Wayne left and sold his 10% stake in the company for $800. Now 84, Wayne lives off his social security check outside Las Vegas. Today, his shares would be worth $63 billion.

Ouch!

As it turns out,  dealing with regret is a more common problem these days than you might think. Check out the article for more.