Boundaries: Twenty-five for Eighteen

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Boundaries.”


Boundaries: Irrigated, dry, short grass, long grass, tee box, hole, manicured, untamed, paved walks, fairways, birdies and actual birds.

As a friend who gave me a golf lesson noted, the sport never “took” with me, but I like golf courses, especially municipal facilities like this one. Twenty-five bucks for eighteen holes. Social boundaries: none.


Tech For Troglodytes: Syncing Notes to iCloud


“Son of Man,” painting by Rene Magritte

Hi Apple Heads. A bunch of visitors dropped by this week to a 2013 Scribbler’s Report, which  offers tips on how to sync iPhone notes to iCloud. Here’s an update:

A new iPhone operating system was just released, and after installing it, many of us discovered that (once again) iPhone notes won’t sync to iCloud.

Don’t waste time trying to fix it. The new iOS will only sync with OS X El Capitan, which won’t be released until Wednesday, Sept. 30.

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 1.22.02 PM

No, this is not a paid sponsorship. You’re welcome, Apple.

If you’re like me, you probably don’t need notes in the cloud, so let’s all wait a couple weeks for kinks to be worked out before upgrading. Big releases always have a few bugs.

Note: upgrade releases are a good reminder to make a backup copy of files, which we should be doing periodically anyway. I use Time Machine and this “Porsche Design” Lacie external hard drive.


Fast, lightweight, not too expensive, easy to use and nice to have if hard drive goes kabluie. No, this is not a paid sponsorship. You’re welcome, Lacie Company.

Happy syncing, just not today. Cheers —

Follow-up Friday: A change of plans

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Change.”


Trail, Mt. Pisgah

Last January, things were looking gloomy for farmers on Seavey Loop Road. They’d already had to stand up to corporate-organized concerts in Buford Park to the west, and the City of Springfield was planning an industrial park to the east (Scribbler’s report, 1/31/15).


The concerts were banned, after a three-day event hosting 27,000 mostly out-of-state celebrants with music so loud it rattled houses 5 miles away. County authorities agreed with local residents — that’s enough of that.

The industrial zone seemed like a done deal, though.

Nevertheless, the neighbors rolled up their sleeves.


Lo and behold.


Is that blue sky?

The city decided they didn’t need quite as much land as they thought, and other sites were better suited.


Farmland still.

Well, well.

Biggest Job Creator?

What industry creates more jobs in Europe than Ford, General Motors and Chrysler combined?


Parisian commuters


Cycling in the EU brings in €205 billion a year, when all its benefits (tourism, cardiovascular health, fuel savings, lower carbon emissions, reduced congestion, noise and air pollution) are accounted for. In 2013, EU bicycle sales were almost double car sales.

Not holding my breath that the US love affair with cars is ending anytime soon. I myself fall off the wagon when it gets cold and rainy.

Still, it’s useful to know what great job creators cyclists are, especially if you happen to run into an advocate for taxing bicyclists (to make up for gas taxes cyclists don’t pay).

UPDATE: three-year campaign to make my biking route safer bore fruit. A nice new sign explaining things appeared this summer.


The old sign encouraging people to cross speeding traffic to a mid-block sidewalk cut-out is still there, but hidden, in summer, when there are leaves. Probably doesn’t endanger too many.


Curb cut-out on left. Sign on right? Safely hidden behind leaves.

Ringing my bicycle bell in salute to city council. It’s a partial victory. It’s a small bell.


Follow-up Friday: Many LIBOR Liars, One Conviction

Waiting since 2012 with baited breath for the outcome of the LIBOR scandal investigations.

Photo credit: John Gapper axce3q7cqaewfe7

     Being economically illiterate has its consequences. Those lowest on the totem pole will take the hardest hit. Mish’s Global Economic Analysis

In 2009, twenty-nine-year-old Tom Hayes was making £325,000 (about $500,000 in 2009 dollars) a year at Swiss Bank UBS. His reputation as a super trader caught the attention of Citibank head hunters, who lured him across the Atlantic and paid him £3.5 million for nine months’ work ($5.25 million).


Yours for only $19.95 from Walmart.

Pretty good for a math nerd who used his childhood superhero bedspread until he was twenty-four, and was known by his colleagues as “Tommy Chocolate” because he preferred cocoa to beer.

Then Citibank fired him.

Turns out Mr. Hayes was the ringleader in a cabal of traders who were rigging interest rates. But — was it just Tom Hayes and the traders, or did everybody know, right up to the CEOs?

This month, Hayes was the first person to be convicted of manipulating the London interbank offering rates (LIBOR) for profit. He was found guilty on eight counts of conspiracy to defraud and sentenced to fourteen years.

     If you aint cheating, you aint trying. Trader at Barclay’s

Happy ending for the rest of us?

Bring out the toothpicks and prop up your eyelids. This is soporific, but we must try to understand.


Zzzz … (Photo credit Mark Engelbrecht)

Why it matters: LIBOR is what banks charge each other for loans. Businesses and governments everywhere rely on it to set their own rates on loans, mortgages, and derivatives, and it affects ordinary people investing in houses, paying student loans, car and mortgage loans, even tourists buying foreign currencies on vacation.

The crime: bankers and traders placing bets, then rigging interest rates so that they won their bets.

             It’s just amazing how libor fixing can make you that much money. (Quote by a trader)

What’s happened since?

(1) Lawsuits are pending.

(2) Oversight of LIBOR has been instituted.

(3) UBS AG, pled guilty in the US to manipulating the LIBOR and paid $203 million. Four other banks – Citicorp, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Barclays PLC, The Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS AG – pled guilty to felony charges in a related case for manipulating the price of U.S. dollars and euros (FX). The fine: over $2.5 billion. Seven banks have been fined over $10 billion in Europe and the United States.

Missing? The big boys.

  • Robert Diamond, fired from Barclays for his role in the scandal: founded a new bank.
  • Fred Goodwin, aka Fred the Shred, head of the Royal Bank of Scotland, which has been fined millions: enjoys a generous, taxpayer-funded pension.
  • Andy Hornby, who presided over the collapse of the HBOS: thriving as head of a betting empire. 
  • Panagiotis Koutsogiannis, aka Pete the Greek, a manager of UBS who chat-messaged Hayes about fixing rates: will not be prosecuted.
  • Alex Wilmot-Sitwell, described as “grossly incompetent” by the head of the Tory party for his involvement in the LIBOR scandal: Head of Bank of America’s European business. 
  • Citibank, Haye’s boss for a year (they fired him when the LIBOR scandal began to boil) and the biggest LIBOR liarNone of Citibank’s higher ups are under scrutiny. 

Hayes has been diagnosed with autism, and didn’t have to sit in the docket during the trial. He was accompanied by an aide who calmed him when he got upset and waved his arms around. He and his wife cried at the sentencing. In his defense, he said:

  • “The practice [of fixing rates] was tried and tested, it was so endemic within the bank (UBS), I just thought … this can’t be a big issue because everybody knows about it … (it was) such an open secret.”
  • “I was very, very, very open, very transparent … All my managers knew. I had no reason to think that it was wrong.”
  • He wasn’t motivated by money, but wanted “to do my job as perfectly as I could do it.”

Perfect? Maybe for the big boys.

Sea Life and how to make a GIF in two easy steps

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Beneath Your Feet.”

You know those five-second videos that loop endlessly? They used to make me crazy because they caused my first laptop to overheat.

Well …


Gull goes wild for something underfoot. Whatever it is, it must be good.

Want a looping video of your own? It’s easy. As one expert put it “even a Mom can do it.” It’s true.

The format is called GIF, short for Graphics Interchange Format, pronounced “jiff.” It compresses images and videos so they take almost no time to transfer from one site to another.

How to do it: (1) Download one of the free apps — I used “Gifrocket“–  drag it to the desktop. (2) Drag your short video into the box where indicated.

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Bing! Within seconds a looping gif file appears on the desktop. Not amazing quality, but fine for the average blogger, twitterer, redditer. If you want fancy, you’ll need to learn to use Photoshop.

And now, after all that frenetic bird activity, visual relief. Hello sea anemones.


Amazing how two centimeters of water turns a slime doughnut into a temptress.

So lovely. So benign. A Venus Flytrap has nothing on these babies. Ulp.

Happy GIF-ing. And watch your step.

Apologies to those whose old laptops are overheating.