20 April 2021


The hamsin has broken, the temperatures are back down in the 20°Cs, and in the afternoon I went for a pleasant walk in the fields. All the vines have new leaves after looking like dead sticks in the winter. (Now is the best time for collecting the leaves for stuffing.) The photo, taken with my mediocre camera phone looks across the vineyards to the Trappist abbey on the nearby hill. It's not great, but I do like the contrast between the vibrant green of the vineyard and the olive groves and cypresses on the hill.

My walk took a steady pace while listening to Café de Anatolia's Amelie de Paris album, an eclectic non-stop mix of chansons, bhajans, middle eastern melodies, and other styles that I'm unable to identify, with a constant background beat. ( Cafe De Anatolia - Amélie de Paris (Mix by Rialians On Earth) by Cafe De Anatolia ETHNO WORLD on YouTube)

The 16:8 diet

A neighbour of hours recommends the 16:8 diet, which seems like a sustainable means for maintaining a good body weight. With my frame, I try to stay a little below 70 kg, though I'm usually a little above it. When I was in the Sivananda yoga ashrams, we used to eat just twice a day, at 11 am and 7 pm, which is exactly this diet. It isn't hard, once one gets used to it. In the east, Buddhist monks and Jain samans often eat just once a day. The principle to be maintained with the 16:8 diet, as explained by our neighbour, is not to have any caloric intake at all during the time that one is fasting, since this changes the body's responses. One may drink liquids without sugar, such as tea without milk and sugar, but that's basically all. So far, I'm managing only a 14:10 diet, due to meal timings; but even that is better than before.

Ramadan fasting

Yesterday, when it was 42°C outdoors, I passed Zakariya working outside, doing some gardening. He is my age, and very strictly observes Ramadan, which means not being able to eat or drink at all during the daylight hours. The food part is easy; but the inability to drink is a genuine austerity. I was speaking to a woman yesterday who said that her mother, as a result of her fasting, has been having pains in her kidneys; but she won't stop. According to Ramadan rules, it's actually perfectly okay not to fast, if someone is sick, pregnant or frail. But it's hard not to fast when the rest of the family is doing so.


Spent a lot of time formatting a newsletter for the office, in LibreOffice. I can do a passably reasonable job with this, though overall, I still eventually prefer the simple html version I did for our website. HTML is much more fluid to work with and it's easier to move the text around for other purposes later. One thing I learned this time is that if I need to put a few photos together as a collage, rather than struggling with the photos in a LibreOffice table, it's better just to put the collage together in GIMP, then import the result as a single result in LibreOffice.

I'm a fan of well-structured documents, and love LibreOffice's implementation of document styles. It's very easy to structure a document with heading1, heading2, etc., and then a simple change to the style changes the formatting for the whole document. (It did take me a while to get used so some of the changes to the styles feature that the program made a few years ago, and remember to click or unclick the auto-update option in the style Organizer. Another advantage of document styles, is that using them facilitates export of LibreOffice documents to other formats like MS Word.
(The results of my labours can be seen here (to see the PDF version, click on the PDF download at the beginning).


For the last couple of days I have been playing with Darktable, which I hadn't used before. There's a bit of a learning curve and it peppers the document directories with XML files to record the non-destructive changes. It does seem to do a better, more fine-tuned job of color-correction than everything else that I'm using (XNView, GIMP, GThumb, nomacs). Unfortunately, I will probably end up just adding this additional tool to my arsenal, as each of these programs handle certain functions a little better than the others. XNView is best for batch processing, such as taking a group of selected photos, renaming them and resizing them according to the longest side. Nomacs is quickest for viewing photos. GThumb, among other features, has some nice style effects. GIMP is terrific for serious photo editing.

Links blog

Assange, Nils Melzer says the treatment of Julian leaves him "speechless" - Il Fatto Quotidiano
‘ They want to keep him blocked and silenced. It’s also to punish him personally, but they are punishing him primarily to scare everybody else, to make sure you don’t want to launch Wikileaks and disclose all these secrets. The message is: “If ever you have evidence of atrocious crimes, don’t disclose it, because this is what will happen to you’”.’

The strong do what they will and the weak suffer what they must: It seems like we are all half-asleep.
Thanks to  https://mamot.fr/users/jz for the link.

Renting Is Terrible. Owning Is Worse.
A third option is necessary: a way to rent without making someone else rich. Book on his proposals: https://islandpress.org/books/affordable-city. These are interesting ideas. Sometimes it's so frustrating to know that for so many of the world's inequities there are not overly complicated solutions. Thanks to Doc Edward Morbius for the links