Orfus' Alphabets


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Last update: 2023-01-01

A :  America: (2013) For sure the greatest country on earth. I have been lucky to live in the USA for about 6 years. I came with lots of preconceived ideas on America and Americans, good and bad. I learned how much all of them were wrong. We all forget that America is all of us. It is our ancestors, often from not so long ago, or even friends and actual family members who wanted more opportunities and freedom; and there you do get more of both than anywhere else. All is not perfect in America, far from it, so I'll leave to a person who was the first ever honorary citizen of the United States to offer a constructive comment: Winston Churchill who said: "Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing after they have exhausted all other possibilities". As I observed this to be essentially true, I'd like to remark that unfortunately, this often results in high human, time and dollar costs. This is the America we see, the extreme America, with all kind of flaws and exagerations, but when you care to look beyond this, and in spite of all this, indeed America is the greatest country on earth.

B :  Burton, Gary: (2004) Jazz Vibraphonist prodigee and a true genious. I heard him once say that he was following his forebearers (Lionel Hampton, Red Norvo, Milt Jackson, and Cal Tjader). Although he recognizes Milt Jackson as the most innovative vibraphonist, he forgets that he built upon this to far outpace them all. Gary's music is both melodious and magic. His sound is indeed pure magic so pure it is. Somehow it reaches your soul and heart. Thank you Mr. Burton. Without you the world would be a little less interesting place.

C :  CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps): (2012) CFLs are a hoax ! Sure they use 3 to 4 less power than their incandescent couterparts, so yes, we save in electricity costs, but they do not live up to their promise of saving you money and being much more ecologically friendly then the incandescent bulbs. Rated with a lifetime of 6000 hours or more, that would be better than 6000 days in my bathroom at 1 hour per day, or 16 years, well, half of the 10 bulbs there died after 2 years. Even assuming that the other 5 will live their rated time, this is a 50% increase in cost and is actually equal to the life of incandescent bulbs (see * below). Similarly in my kitchen 2 out of 5 had to be replaced within 2 years. The worse story are the 5 dimmable CFLs I installed in my living room. First off, dimmable is a joke. Yes they dim but not nearly as well as the previous ones. Second I had to install a new dimmer as these bulbs cannot be controlled by the regular kind (significant added cost). Now these are on about 1 hour a day too, on average. They started dying 1 at a time after a lifetime of 1 to 20 hours. So I started bringing them back to the store for replacement. I now have had to go through 30 bulbs to have 5 working. They have been working for now approximately 4 months without problem (see ** below). And there is the issue of turn-on time. They really do take at least 1 mn to come to their rated brightness, with the effect that I usually turn them on a few minutes before required (another small but real cost). And there is the electronics. CFLs are full of electronics, not to mention some mercury. This all adds to pollution and hence to the global cost of CFLs. This does not mean to not use them. I have used CFLs since about 1985. With this background, I find that CFLs lifetime is on par (or only slightly better) with incandescent bulbs'. Some incandescent bulbs used to have lifetimes of more than 5 years, none died after a few days. So yes, let's go on using CFLs, but let's soon replace them by LEDs which have a number of advantages over CFL. I own a few of these and they look very promissing. As for the CFL pushers of all kinds here what they should say: Use CFLs, not because you'll save money (although you may save a bit in the long run), but because they use less electricity, which ultimately translates to less carbon footprint. Be aware though that they are toxic, pollute more to make than incandescent bulbs, are costlier and more difficult to dispose of, do not turn on fast enough and are not really dimmable.
* (2012) well this has been up for 2 days only and 3 more have died, nearly doubling the cost. So let's see. on average these are on 1 hour per day, that's a lifetime of 700 hours, a far cry from the rated 6000 hours. Did I say hoax?
** (2013) well 7 months and another 2 have died within 2 days. This brings the total to 32 to have 5 working dimmable CFLs. As for the lifetime of these bulbs, it now ranks between a 1 hour to 7 months (at about 1 h per day, this is 210 hours). Hoax is not even fit a word to describe this scandalous fraud!
(2022) To be fair, I still have some (4) CFLs purchased 22 years ago which are still working, after an estimated 8000 hours of operation and just as many starts.

D :  In preparation - check back from time to time.

E :  In preparation - check back from time to time.

F :  Swiss cheese fondue: (2012) One of my favorite dishes. I have made fondue in many places in the world, in spite of difficulties in locating the right ingredients. I have made fondue for many people who often ask for more - sweet success. I finally managed to complete a web site on fondue I have been working on for a long time: Cheese fondue. Thanks for visiting.

F :  Lemon: (2013) Let me explain. Obviously words have only as much meaning as we want to give them. Besides words are just words, not the reality of whatever they might represent. That being said, this entry is about the work fuck and its derivatives. I am really tired of the prude and hollier than thou approach to that word in North America, where it is usually replaced by a beep, or refered to by euphemisms such as the F-word or better yet the F-bomb. But really any bad meaning it might have is only re-inforced by such an attitude. So here. I'll replace it by the word lemon in a little text found on the web. Let's see what that does:

This incredible word can be used to describe many situations:
1) Surprise -- "What the lemon are you doing here?"
2) Fraud -- "I got lemoned by the car dealer."
3) Resignation -- "Oh, lemon it!"
4) Trouble -- "I guess I'm lemoned now."
5) Aggression -- "lemon YOU!"
6) Disgust -- "lemon me."
7) Confusion -- "What the lemon...?"
8) Difficulty -- "I don't understand this lemoning business!"
9) Despair -- "lemoned again...."
10) Pleasure -- "I lemoning couldn't be happier."
11) Displeasure -- "What the lemon is going on here?"
12) Lost -- "Where the lemon are we?"
13) Disbelief -- "UN-lemonING-BELIEVABLE!"
14) Retaliation -- "Up your lemoning ass!"
15) Denial -- "I didn't lemoning do it."
16) Perplexity -- "I know lemon-all about it."
17) Apathy -- "Who really gives a lemon, anyhow?"
18) Greetings -- "How the lemon are ya?"
19) Suspicion -- "Who the lemon are you?"
20) Panic -- "Let's get the lemon out of here."
21) Directions -- "lemon off."
22) Awe -- "How the lemon did you do that?"
23) Desertion- "lemon only knows where my men have lemoned off to."
All the lemoning lemoners lemoning lemoned off.

There! All of you perfectly understood all these sentences, had a chuckle doing so (especially #2) and this did not even give you a chance to feel falsly offended. Come on, it's about time to stop these lemoning annoying and ridiculous beeps, a few swear words go a long way towards coping with stress and emphasizing other words. Besides you only feel offended because you want to, ask yourselves why!

G :  Gould - Stephen Jay: (2003) Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002) was an American scientist and a paleontologist by profession. He was also a professor in paleontology, biology, geology, and the history of science but for the rest of us he must be one of the most thought provocating and entertaining scientific writer. I discovered and read one of his books soon after his death, and since then, I am always looking forward to spending some time with any of his books. In particular he has published over a period of 25 years 280 essays, most of which he has then published in books. For starters, I'd recommend 'The Panda's Thumb' and 'Eight Little Piggies' and for the interested readers, the slightly more scientific but absolutely fascinating 'The Mismeasure of Man'.

H :  Hamburg (Germany): (2004) Quite a nice city, many beautiful places, nice shopping. I've spent a short vacation there at the beginning of 2004. I'd like to ask a question : Everytime I was taking pictures (of my wife) in public places (shopping mall, restaurant, snack, station) I was told it was 'verboten', however noone seemed to know why and none of my german friends have heard of this, so please if someone knows, email me.

I :  Insanity: (2012) Music is an art (may be not all music, although...). Painting is an art (same comment). Some musical works are very famous and known as standards, in the classical field as well as in the rock, jazz, blues, etc. fields. Some paintings are very famous and known all over the world. Music is played in concert halls, but also on the radio. Paintings are mainly displayed in museums and art galleries. Whatever the place and medium, art is enjoyed to various degrees, from casual to sensitive attention, by the onlooker or listener. All the works of art have been created by their author as we know them today. It would not come to the mind of anyone sane to clip a corner of the Joconde to place an add or even just a comment. Similarly it would not come to the mind of anyone sane to cut short the end of a musical piece to place an add or some comment... oh wait, yes this is what radio people do all the time. This is insane! So radio people, you may not like the music you play, but if your radio station plays it, it is because someone listening might like that piece, in its entirety, as it was conceived, from artfully start to carefully completed end by the artist. Cutting a piece before the end, even to give it's title, cutting it in the middle because it's news time or station identification time is vandalism and sloppy planning. Think about it...

J :  In preparation - check back from time to time.

K :  In preparation - check back from time to time.

L :  Lemon: (2009) It is almost inevitable, car manufacturers will produce lemons every now and then. However you would expect the more prestigious makes to do something about it. Well, at least I did, until I had to live with this Mini Cooper. But after all Mini may not be such a prestigious make, so what about my next car, a Red BMW Convertible for a real horror story.

M :  Metric: (2013) America must go metric! There is no (valid) reason not to. The following website: metric4us explains clearly why, and actually even bothers to present the opposite point of view, although in this case, it is not obvious that the author is fully serious nor well documented. As for the rest of us, using the metric system, we should use it properly. This is fairly easy and is fully documented in the excellent work by Charles Poynton: Writing SI units and symbols. Give your preference to the pdf version of this document which is more precise (and easier to read) than the html version.

A couple of great reference documents are on Wikipedia: International System of Units and Metric Prefix.

Oh, and another point: dates! There's only one sensible way to write dates: YYYY-MM-DD. Anything else is ambiguous.

N :  In preparation - check back from time to time.

O :  Orfus : (2004) What's an Orfus or possibly who is Orfus? There is an Orfus street in Toronto (Canada), and maybe in other places too. Yet an Orfus seems to be some elusive entity...

P :  Pie chart: (2012) Our American friends, call it a pie chart, and indeed so many of their foods are somehow sweet.
The French, country of hundreds of cheeses, call it a camembert (chart). You know, something is right in this world!

Q :  In preparation - check back from time to time.

R :  In preparation - check back from time to time.

S :  Solitaire: FreeCell : (2012) Having heard that somehow it should be possible to find a solution to all FreeCell games, I set as a goal to test this. I used to complete maybe, one out of four or five.
Got a good version of FreeCell on my PDA (Can't Stop Solitaire), turned the brain on, and there it is, after 5 years and more than 4000 games completed without forfeiting any, I consider this affirmation to be true.

T :  Time: (2019) Looking closely, one cannot help but notice that the the USA have different measurement systems than the rest of the world for all walks of life (distance, weight, volume, temperature) with the exception of time measurements. I have had the opportunity to speak with several Americans who believe that the imperial system is superior to the metric system, and even have met engineers who shared this view. I would like here to contribute to the advancement of America into their superior system by offering a proposal for a time measurement system in accordance with the rest of their measurements. We will not change the day: 365 days a year and occasionally 366. This is due to the rotation of the earth on its axis and there is nothing we can do about this (so far ...). However to divide the day into 24 slices (hours) makes no sense. Several imperial units are based on human features (foot, yard for instance). I therefore suggest to divide the day into 2 sets of 10 hours since we have 10 fingers. We will have 10 am hours and 10 pm hours. Now each hour has to be divided in smaller segments (minutes). Here I suggest 36 parts, similar to the yard which is divided into 36 inches. Obviously instead of dividing the hour in 4 quarters, it is immediately obvious that we should divide it into 3 tiers of 12 (US) minutes. By the way I think it is important to keep the denominations hour and minute for our new improved system. If this can lead to some confusion on the part of the silly metric "system" users, so much the better. Our minutes will need to be divided into smaller increments, similar to the seconds in the system used in the rest of the world, however seconds are crude. Here we will borrow from our length measurement systems of using fractions leading to a much finer division system. Indeed we might buy a 13/64" screw, and similarly we can divide our minutes in as increasingly smaller powers of 2 as we need. 1/2 a minute, 13/64 of a minute, etc. This system is compatible with any time measurement, no matter how small. An engineer might need to measure 9 ms for instance (9 millisecond = 0.009 s), in our system this will be 5/65536 (5/2^16) minute. Similarly, in the kitchen, a dish that takes 2 hours to cook in the rudimentary metric "system" would "only" take 1 hour and 24 mn. One last point. It is likely that minutes are more common to normal timing tasks than hours. To reflect this, my last suggestion for a fully working measurement time measurement system is to write time in the form: MM:HH:fraction. For instance our cooking time would be written 24:01. There is no ambiguity here since we know that minutes come first. Similarly 1 and 3/4 hour in the metric so called "system" would be written 16:01:1/2 in our new much improved system. This is just a proposal, I claim no rights to it. I am sure actual Americans would find several ways to improve it further to better serve their time measuring needs.

U :  In preparation - check back from time to time.

V :  Vache: (2016) French for Cow. The French love their cows, so much so that many colloquial French expression use the word in one way or another. Here are for the most picturesque, the French expressions and the equivalent english meaning.

French expression French meaning English translation English meaning Exemple / Example
La vache ! Surprise ou admiration The cow! Surprise or admiration
Vachement Très Cowly Very Ce film est vachement bien.
This movie is very good.
Grosse vache Injure pour une dame d'un certain poids Fat cow Fat cow
C'est vache C'est méchant It is cow It is mean
Etre une peau de vache Etre méchant To be a cow skin To be mean
Parler français comme une vache espagnole Mal parler français To speak French like a Spanish cow To poorly speak French
A chacun son métier et les vaches seront bien gardées Chacun s'occupe de ses affaires et tout ira bien To each his trade and the cows will be well guarded To each his trade and the cows will be well guarded
Un coup vache ou une vacherie Une manoeuvre sournoise A cow blow or a cow trick A dirty trick
Comme une vache qui regarde passer un train Avoir l'air absent ou stupide Like a cow that watches a train pass by To look absent and stupid
Manger de la vache enragée Passer par une période de privation To eat sick cow To go through hard times
Pleuvoir comme vache qui pisse Forte pluie To rain as a pissing cow Strong rain
Une vache à lait Quelqu'un que l'on exploite A milking cow Someone who is exploited Le gouvernement nous prend pour des vaches a lait.
The government thinks we are milking cows.
Le plancher des vaches La terre ferme The cow's floor Solid ground
Mort aux vaches ! Insulte exclusivement pour la police. Death to the cows Down with the pigs! (police)

W :  Warranty: (2019) "Our warranty states that we will repair your car if there is a problem with it during the warranty period. It does not limit the number of times you will have to bring it to the garage for the repair." [BMW representative in Switzerland after I had to return my brand new BMW 9 times to get the cruise control repaired]. Details here: BMW red lemon

X :  In preparation - check back from time to time.

Y :  In preparation - check back from time to time.

Z :  In preparation - check back from time to time.


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