Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ultimo Anno Sexto

No, it is not nearly as sexy as it sounds. It is merely the last one sixth of the year (or as near as I can remember - it has been 40 years since I last learned any Latin). I figured that with the paucity of posts on my part in the last couple of months, it was a good time to summarize the last sixth of the year.

The week before Thanksgiving brought the 11th annual Community Caring Hands Trivia Bowl (which I have written about in the past here and here.).  After the ultimate humiliation of placing second last year by one point, this year our team roared back to win. One team member who had been gone on recent years returned to play with us this year while another departed to move to Love Lady Texas. So if you run into Dr. Bob the surgeon around Love Lady, say high from me. {*grin*} Our team has competed for the last 8 years, winning in 5 of them. We treat the trophy like hockey teams treat the Stanley cup. So it is mine to display now until next November. Looks good on the piano doesn't it?
I made sure it was out for Christmas to tease the teen age relatives who were on a competing team this year!

Then came Thanksgiving and Black Friday. L and I hit a few sales since she needed a laptop and I wanted a spare coffee pot and a tool set (years of using the same tools, with no metric sizing and the shrinkage caused by the son's teenage years left me a bit short in the wrench department.). I remembered why I generally don't attend such sales. Why stand in line and shuffle and shift in a mass of humanity? Especially since some things were available the next day. I do have to admit that we got L a new laptop for a very nice price. The nice thing was that in our rural community, everyone was cordial and friendly, trying to help one another. Sounds a bit nicer than some of the reports from cities that I read.

There was the sadness of Carol's death and the funeral. There is nothing quite like a rural funeral where the burial is out on the plains with snow and wind and near zero temperatures with sub-zero wind chills. Lou Gehrig's Disease (ALS) is such a sad thing, especially since it so often strikes in middle age.

Other than the normal round of Christmas parties, it was a pretty calm December. The weather here has been unseasonably warm, with highs in the 40s and 50s for most of the month. That goes along with the relative paucity of snow thus far. It is almost as bad as the mountains where snow packs are at the lowest levels in 30 years.

Christmas was, as it normally is, a dual affair. We had the clan from my side of the family here Christmas eve for gag gifts and coffee and cookies and ... It seems hard to picture that the youngest of the group is now in first grade. I can remember babysitting for their moms and dads a long time ago. The party got livened up when the young ladies and gentlemen discovered the costume closet. There is nothing like a group of teenage girls and guys putting on a dress up show in costume and wigs. Everything from roman gladiator and Cleopatra to cowboys and indians. Talk about energy and enthusiasm! L and I and mom journeyed over to the MIL's for present opening and good food on Christmas day. The son was working at Breckenridge, so didn't join us. He had just gotten back from his first real vacation. (He decided to go to Hawaii and visit friends and relatives before the ski season kept him tied down. He got L some puka shell encrusted flip flops and me some macadamia nuts for Christmas - what more could one ask for.)

The last week of the old year was marked by very warm days and then the wind. The last few days have had wind gusts into the 70+ mph range with steady "breezes" of 40 mph. That isn't too bad unless it is like yesterday where the wind brings falling temperatures and whiteout snow conditions. L had a cold and combined with the wind and snow and ice, it was a good day not to be out and about. So no New Years Eve partying for us. We instead had soup for supper and were in bed right after the right coast ball dropped.

So much for the year that was.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Odd Thoughts

Today as I was contemplating my navel after clearing the snow off the sidewalk and driveway, I began to meander down several odd mental pathways. So here are some odd thoughts for your perusal.

1) How great is it to live in a small town? I am out in shorts and parka this morning clearing the snow when the postman pulls up and yells "Hi Dan, just got a package for you, I'll be by with the mail in a bit." as he walks to the door. No comments about my choice of clothing or sanity level or ... That is because in a small town everyone knows your name and accepts your behavior, just as you accept theirs.

2) How different is it to meet the love of your life at different ages? At least for me, the mental picture I see when I close my eyes and kiss L is of the wonderful young girl from 40+ years ago. We have been married for going on 37 years and I still think of her as a teenager. If I had not met her until later in life, what mental image would be the one etched in my memory?

3) How appropriate is this to most arguments?


We learned that Carol, L's business partner and friend, lost her battle with ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) yesterday. She battled and fought with all her strength to see her kids grow into adulthood. Try as she might, she is not going to see the three teenage kids she leaves behind graduate from high school. It is so sad to see someone so young (our age) reach the end. Our sympathies go out to her husband and family. (I wrote briefly about Carol and her battle here.)

Carol, 1955-2011
Rest In Peace

Monday, November 14, 2011

Long Ago

Long ago in a time when personal and office technology was just coming to the fore, L and I founded a little company called Jones Technologies, Inc. It is a story for another time to mention what it is called now. Needless to say it was small then and isn't now.

We started the company about the time the first laser printers with {*gasp*} built in fonts were coming to market. But, ..., nothing was standardized and no two printers had the same way of calling the fonts and using them, so they were pretty much a useless novelty. A client of mine had me create a program to set the fonts in a particular line of lasers as a sales tool. This was back in the days of MS-DOS before Windows was even a gleam in anyone's eye, so you ran my program and then your word processor to print and automagically you had the graceful fonts (but only one font for the whole page, etc ...). It was a resounding success for the client as a sales tool at the time.

In playing around that year, I decided to make what, for the time, was an impressive demo. Using FatLips (yes, I named the program FatLips internally - it was a play on the printer brand and a certain movie of the time), I created this:

At the time, it was a spectacular card. The graphic was cut and paste - literally pieces of paper taped together and added to the page. A few years later this type of thing was common place. And in another few years it was completely supplanted by pure computer techniques.

In any case, this came to mind as L was cleaning out some old paperwork and came across this and had to show me. An interesting reminder that what is now trivial to do from your favorite programs with almost any printer was once something that required programming and specialized tools. I for one do not miss those days of yore in the least!

Monday, November 7, 2011

*It* or not *It*

The other night we had a discussion about *it*. You know, the quality that some people have that makes them so appealing on television and in the movies. My writer friend with his extensive background in film and I have discussed the topic before. His claim is that no one has been able to quantify what constitutes having *it*, but almost everyone can agree when they see someone with *it* on camera. *It* seems to be a major topic of discussion and debate in film school.

The discussion the other night was engendered by the following thought chain: we all agree that there are some people with *it* and that *it* cannot be taught, but is the opposite true? Are there people that just naturally have the opposite of *it*, such that when you see them on camera you immediately react the opposite of how you react to someone with *it*. Can they be trained so that they can escape the "not *it*" label even if they cannot be trained to have *it*?

I think this is an amusing question for many reasons. I have always been struck by the fact there are people who exhibit *it* on camera but who do not exhibit the least amount of *it* in person. When we lived in LA and hung out with some Hollywood people, I was often surprised at how little *it* showed up off camera. Likewise there are people who seem to have *it* in person, but who do not show the same on camera. My claim would be that there are people who have the opposite of *it* and they exhibit "not *it*" the same way.

So what do you think? Are *it*ness and "not *it*ness" qualities that just exist and cannot be changed? Or are they learned/trained quantities that anyone can attain? Inquiring minds want to know.

While you are pondering that question, you can enjoy this cartoon from The Math Plane:

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Fall of Indian Summer

Amidst the interesting potpourri of odd web information I have stumbled across in the last couple of weeks is this gem from 2dayBlog:
To most Christians, the Bible is like a software license. Nobody actually reads it. They just scroll to the bottom and click "I agree."
A sad but true summary of a great many religious persons and their relationship to the master source material of their belief system.

In other news, fall/winter has arrived here. A couple of weeks ago it was pleasant and in the 80's. Now we have had two snow storms and the third is forecast for tomorrow evening. So here are some pictures of L and I strolling in the park with Molly the wonder dog before the snows arrived, supplemented with a couple of pictures from my strolls about the neighborhood:

Of course, once you see the streaking ice crystals running across the sky, you know that snow and cold is not far away. So when I spotted this in the sky I knew that Indian fall was soon to fade away.

Sure enough, the next morning this was the view out the front door.

It warmed up and melted a bit, then snowed again and has stayed cooler so some of the snow is still around. So the predicted 6-8 inches tomorrow night will add to what is already hiding in the shade and make it seem like winter is coming. But at least I don't have to mow the lawn!

More later. I wanted to make sure you knew that I hadn't died. {*grin*} The MIL had double knee replacement surgery, I needed decommission a couple of servers here and replace them with more power efficient units, I have been changing my insulin regime, and ... In other words I have been a bit distracted and busy. I hope to get back to posting on a more regular basis soon.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Indian Summer Has Come

Today was a beautiful indian summer type of fall day. The sky was crystal clear blue, the sun was warm, and the air temperature was in the low 60s. It was great!

As I walked cross town to a doctor appointment (I managed to wear a hole in the bottom of my foot and so need inlays for my walking shoes), I couldn't help but enjoy the newly fallen leaves from the cool weather last night. They are covering everything in their plenty. Can you spot the sidewalk  in this picture?
Yeah, it means someone is going to have to rake a bit this weekend.

Unfortunately, it was not a hard enough freeze to kill the grasshoppers. They were hopping in mass with every pile of leaves I kicked as I walked. Maybe later in the week. I can always hope.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Coming of the ...

It is time once more for the weather to turn cold. Last night was predicted to be the first freeze of the year, but once again the weather critters were off a bit. So maybe tonight? It is hard to predict since it was near 90 on Saturday but it hasn't been above 60 since and the night time cooling is going closer and closer to freezing. The date of first frost here on the plains has been a moving target over the past few decades. After years of stability in late September, it has now been marching later and later in the year. For the last few years, it has averaged around Oct. 10. This year it is going to be considerably later than that. Guess it goes along with the rest of the "non-existent" global climate changes.

I love this time of year. So many things are done for the year and/or nearing their end. I mowed the lawn last weekend for the last time this year (and it better be the last time since I am throwing away the mower in the city trash pickup next week; it has served well for a number of years but has reached the point where even I cannot apply enough baling wire to keep it operational and so it must go). I also turned off the water to the sprinkler systems here and at mom's house. I had already turned it off at the MIL's place preparatory to replacing a broken pipe. I guess you could say the early weatherization for winter is complete. Plants have entered into the slow part of their growth curve as the days shorten and cool.

I love the sense of fulfillment that comes with working in the cool and cold and then settling in in the warmth of the house in the evening this time of year. The joy of getting out of bed in the cold of morning and then warming up. The coming of the early nightfall and late morning sun. The turning of the leaves and the honking of the geese.

The best things about this time of year? They include the coming of Halloween and the pumpkin crop:

But the absolute best thing is that the bugs die off, including these lovely pests:

Friday, October 7, 2011

Wind and More Wind

The last several days have seen continuous 45 mph winds out here on the plains. A sure sign that the cooler weather of fall is on the way. In fact, the first frost might well happen this weekend. Which means an end to all the daily fresh melons and vegetables from the garden until next year. Just time to clean up and prepare for next spring and then batten down for the cold and snow of winter.
Other than all the branches and street lights and other things blown over and about, the worst part of the wind is the dust and sand. There are stories of the original settlers out here in sod houses being unable to stand the day after day beating of the wind and dust, to the point of giving up hope and just lying down and dying. The wind reminds me of the Santa Ana winds in southern California: the ionic charge in the air makes one literally feel bad. So needless to say I have not been in the most pleasant of moods. Of course, neither has anyone else, so we all have been ready to verbally spar at the drop of a hat. A good time to just hunker down and remain calm. At least the wind has died down a bit now as the cold and rain gets ready to settle in. But it still leaves my mind in a flipping and flopping state where seemingly random things connect to other things and then hook into something even further afield. For example ...

I love the fall weather once it gets here. There is that sense of drawing back into one's self for the coming days of winter, the slowing down of the pace of life. There is nothing that says job well done like the feeling of brisk air in the morning and the sound of geese circling the harvested corn fields.

The sound of geese as they migrate also reminds me of my grandfather. When he found out that he had inoperable metastatic cancer, he lived on with his steel will to see one more cycle of planting and growing. And when the fall and harvest came, he decided it was time and died. I remember slipping away from work, bundling the son in his infant carrier, and driving the 30 miles over to his farm to just to sit with him in his final weeks. And I remember the sound of the honking geese circling as I would leave to head back home.

That of course brings to mind how lucky I was growing up. I not only knew all my grandparents, but some of my great-grandparents. A consequence of being the oldest child of the oldest child on both sides of my family. In fact with the exception of L's grandfather, we had a complete set of grandparents on both sides when we were dating. So we both grew up with the presence of grandparents in our lives. It makes me sad to think of all the people who aren't so lucky.

Enough meandering, time to get back to work.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


I saw this over on today:
and do know you what my first thought was? It was "Hasn't everyone?"

And my second thought? If you haven't, you are not living your life with enough passion. Time to get passionate.

So what was your first thought?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Speaking of ...

Speaking of things that have been delayed a bit, the watermelons are a bit late here this year due to the odd weather. So this weekend I was out in the watermelon patch picking a few as they ripened. L took this picture with my phone - one of the clearer ones I have seen it take.

The melon in my arms is about 22 lbs. - a good size but enough melon to keep L and I eating for days.

Did you know that you can tell when a watermelon is ready to be picked by looking at the first curly tendril on the vine nearest the melon?  When it curls and browns, the melon is ready for picking. I like that much more than the myriad of odd ways to tell when cantaloupe, muskmelons, and honeydews are ready. Just one simple visual inspection and you are set to go.

Back to getting ready for the 5K this weekend.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Busy, Busy, Busy

I am the executive director of the Logan County Humane Society. This Saturday is our 2nd annual 5K Run and Pet Walk. So this week is busy with everything from getting T-shirts printed to painting the route on the streets. Not to mention all the silent auction donations and .... (If you want to sleep in for the animals and get a T-shirt or make a donation, you can sign up on our website.)

Last year was the first year and we had about a 100 participants. We have already almost tripled the corporate sponsorship this year, so it will be interesting to see the participant turn out. It is one of the more amusing factoids that there are certain characteristics in how people sign up for such events. Females tend to sign up early for the pet walk. Males and 5K runners tend to wait until the night before and/or day of the event to sign up. (I assume they are checking the weather forecast.) Thus the planning is always a bit up in the air as we wait on pins and needles. You never want to be short of coffee and donuts for a crowd of animal people. {*grin*}

One of the fun aspects is painting the streets to mark the route. We use a bright pink paint and, as I once said to a colleague, when else do you get to vandalize the city streets for a good cause. Three of us will get together Friday afternoon to walk the course, marking and measuring via a GPS unit. (Nothing makes 5K enthusiasts more upset than a course that isn't exactly 5K. Many of them seem to lack a sense of humor about that. {*grin*})

I'll leave you with our logo for this year:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I Jab You, You Jab Me ...

Many of you remember when I was mayor that many disputes had a certain resemblance to two young kids poking each other. The same thing happens now that I am the Executive Director of the humane society. The only difference is that the level of insanity seems to be higher when dealing with animal rather than urban issues.

For a classic example, I give you this letter that arrived in my mail recently:
Spot the classic signs of the jab fest? They include:

  • No signature
  • Unverifiable claims
  • False concern for others

How much do you want to bet that the complainer runs a similar food business and has lost business to the yellow trailer. Why not simply keep a sample of the offending food and send it in for analysis. Why not ... In any case, this missive ended up in my trash can.

I long ago adopted a very simple rule. If I get an anonymous accusation against my staff, I investigate it because there might be a possible justifiable case for anonymity. If I get an anonymous accusation against some other person or organization, it goes directly to the trash can.

If you are unwilling to stand up and identify yourself, why should I waste my time on your complaint. I think that too many people today hide behind anonymity. If you have something to say, stand up and say it proudly. Deal with any consequences in the open. Don't hide behind anonymity and act maliciously like a cowardly teenager.

What do you think?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ever Have One Of ....

Ever have one of those days when things are just that little itty bit off kilter? That describes my morning to a T.

Within one 30 second span, I:

  • caught my finger nail on the cupboard door and ripped the nail
  • bit my tongue out of the blue
  • spilled ground coffee all over the counter

and that was before I kicked the door frame as it moved in front of my foot.

I can't wait to see what the rest of the day brings.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Yet Another Anniversary

In spite of the fact that I have been missing in action for the last month, I am alive and well. I could offer excuses, but L has changed jobs and is now located back here at home rather than 3 hours up the road. So we have been doing a lot of things around the house and just making up for time apart over the last few years. In addition, we each spent a week down and out with the creeping crud that was endemic in this area and had a friend pass away. In other words, life got in the way for bit.

It is official that this was the hottest August in recorded history here! Same for Denver and much of Colorado.

Time once more for the ignorant to rant that there is no such thing as climate change. It is going to be interesting to see what the weather is like this winter.

But the real reason I chose today to start blogging again? Today is L and my 36th wedding anniversary. Early on we were this carefree couple.

I still have a fond spot in my heart for the maxi dress with empire waist from this era. Of course, we evolved through college to become this pair when we got engaged. (Notice that the horn rimmed glasses were gone!)

It seems hard to believe that it was 36 years ago that we meandered through the maze of getting married on the way from the east coast to the west coast, stopping off here in Colorado to get hitched before a small crowd of 200-300 or so. Don't you think we looked pretty calm? (And notice that the horn rims are back due to some damage to the other glasses in the days preceding the wedding.)

And now? Well, we both look a bit whiter of hair. (The picture is actually from last fall.)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

An Odd Question

Do you ever watch foreign movies with English subtitles?

I do. I find that they satisfy a craving for a completely different viewpoint on life and society than my normal viewing habits. I am especially fond of Swedish and French films for their rather odd (to an American) point of view.

Understand that I don't speak or understand a word of Swedish, so the subtitles have to carry the movie for me. Likewise my French is pretty poor, so unless the on-screen action involves speaking to the class idiot, I have to depend on the subtitles. It is always amazing to me how much of the emotional tone one can deduce just from hearing the voice inflections of the actors, even when you don't understand a word they are saying! I suspect that the similar inflection structure of French and Swedish to English is the reason I like those films and cannot stand, for example, German subtitled films.

It is also interesting to me that my preference for type of film varies by nationality. I like Swedish detective mysteries and social movies while I like French humor and farce. I tend to like the humor in French movies featuring Audrey Tautou, whereas I really don't have a favorite actor or actress in Swedish films.

So with all my oddities in mind, here are a few foreign films that I highly recommend, subtitles and all:

Un Long Dimanche de Fiancailles (A Very Long Engagement)

Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain (Amelie)

Så som i himmelen (As It Is In Heaven)

So do you watch foreign films? If you do, what are some of your favorites?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Hot, Hot, and More Hot ...

... and I'm not talking about the sauce on my burrito either.

The entire month of July has been running hot with highs above 100 for most of the last few weeks. Normally, the highs at this time of year are in the upper 80s, so you might say that the temperature has been running 12-16 degrees above historical norms for the past month. Couple that with unheard of amounts of rain and it has not only been hot but humid with occasional floods here in the semi-desert.

L and I were talking about it tonight at supper as we contemplated next month. August is usually the scorcher around here, with occasional highs in the 116 to 119 range. If August runs 10 degrees above the historical norms, it could be a bit too toasty for my taste. Not only that, but that will be the time of the county fair and marching parade. Nothing says semi-desert like marching a few miles in 100 degree heat while carrying a tuba on your shoulder. One year L and I led a precision marching keyboard and kazoo team in the parade - and boy were we glad to reach the end of the route. I can't imagine doing it in even hotter weather.

The extreme temperature variations, unusual rainfall, and severe wind all bring to mind the idiocy of those who espouse the no climate change line. Sort of like this editorial cartoon concerning everyone's favorite and least factual news station:

Of course, one always has to keep in mind that all news media are a bit slow on the mental uptake, especially around any sort of a rating period. In these days of Jerry Springeresque news coverage it is no wonder that many people forgo the mass media in favor of the bits and pieces they can glean from the internet. Nothing brings it home like the "local color" segments.

Time for me to head back to waiting for it to cool off a bit. What's the weather doing in your neck of the woods (or desert as it may be)?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I Resemble That ...

Sad to say, I resemble that cartoon. This year was my 35th college reunion and next year will be my 40th high school reunion. The only point of poor correspondence is that I won't reach my 60s until two years after that.

I find it amusing to look back. When I was a youngster, the very idea of making it past age thirty was foreign. Now it seems like a brief flash. It has been longer than that since I went to high school.

Back in those days of yore, vinyl records were king and eight track tapes were just starting to fade into history. I remember that the first stereo I traipsed off to college with had a record player and an eight track player and an AM/FM radio. The ultimate in media sophistication!

While I was in college, the new-fangled tape cartridge came out and began battling reel-to-reel tape decks (and quickly dominating the automobile market and the also new-fangled Sony Walkman was the iPod of the day). And today I look around and find all of those technologies eclipsed. Even CD-ROMs are dying now in the face of online streaming and mp3 players like the iPod.

And speaking of online streaming, I was asked by Foursons what I thought of the new NetFlix pricing plan where the unlimited streaming is $7.99 a month and the one-at-a-time mail order DVD is $7.99 a month. This is as opposed to the combination being $9.99 a month under the old plan.

If it was just me, it would have little to no impact. I'd just move to streaming only and continue on my merry way. But (there is always one of those), L uses the mail order one-at-a-time DVDs for her watching pleasure. It comes down to the fact that we use the same entertainment sources in different ways. I stream movies as a background amusement while working, etc. L consciously sets aside time to watch a movie as an event, completely engrossed in watching. So when I am forced to modify our plan come September, I suspect it will be to go with the unlimited streaming + one-at-a-time DVDs.

The more interesting point here is how NetFlix is working to push people to move to a new technological base. A while ago, the mail order option was the right way to compete (and drive to extinction) with the movie rental stores that started in the days of VCR tapes. Now that almost no movie rental shops exist, NetFlix wants to move its customer base to streaming. That eliminates the hassles of physical inventory and shipping and simplifies their business model. But there are still some who want the physical media and the sometimes newer releases only available there. So NetFlix has very wisely left in place a plan for them where they can pay a higher price per movie and help finance the bandwidth expansion NetFlix needs. A win-win from their point of view. From my point of view as a technologist, it makes sense. As a consumer, I am a bit PO'ed that they effectively increased my price by 60%. It makes me think of the cable and satellite companies.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Rain, Rain, Go Away ...

... come again another day.

We have had rain nearly every day for the last week. More than 3 inches in the last two days alone. Given how little rain we normally get, this seems like a flood of biblical proportions.

Coupled with the rain has been lightning and thunder and wind - so Molly the wonder dog has been Molly the shaking dog hiding on my feet. It's funny but Molly will hang with L as her best buddy until the thunder starts and then it is time to find me. She seems to think that I will save her. {*grin*}

The worst part about the rain is that it is keeping the area dry land wheat farmers from harvesting. Every day while it is too wet and muddy to harvest is yet another chance for hail and wind to destroy the crop. Not a good thing.

The answer to the falsehood in the list of woes and happenings from last time was the boredom of Netflix being down. Everything else was true.

(Does anyone else feel that the new beta blogger tool leaves a lot to be desired? I know that I do.)

Thursday, July 7, 2011


All sorts of odd / tragic / funny things have been going on here. Interspersed in the litany of woes and good tidings below is one gaping falsehood - the rest are true. Which one is it?

  • Storms. Four storms in seven days; including hail and 70 mph winds and rain. This area is a semi-desert that normally gets less than 14 inches of precipitation a year, but in the first 6 days of July alone we have had close to 2 inches. Can you say damp? I knew that you could.
  • Humidity. (See above.) Normal relative humidity levels here seldom exceed 20%. But already this month there have been days with humidity levels close to 90%. Sort of like moving to New Orleans without Bourbon Street!
  • Heat. So far the hottest has been only 107 degrees. I just can't wait for the dog days of August when it sometimes hits 115 or more.
  • Worry. My (younger) brother had a heart attack. Of course this was while he was recuperating from surgery to re-attach the tendons in his foot. Sometimes when it rains it pours. (He is out of the hospital now after some recovery time and getting stent(s) put in.) 
  • Stress. L is doing the prep work to paint the trim on the house. (Thank heavens the house is brick and doesn't need painted.) The scraping and wire brushing and contemplating having to do a primer coat and a paint coat has left her a bit sore and grouchy. Nothing like heat and humidity and grouchiness to make all come to a boil. She especially didn't appreciate my suggestion that she get up at 5am and work while it was still cool. Something about getting up early was the proverbial straw that broke the camels back.
  • Cats. This month seems to be the grand prize of found cats that no one wants. Especially the feral ones. We must be getting 10 calls a day or more about found cats and kittens. Normally we could go months without that many found cat calls.
  • Fear. Molly the wonder dog gets extremely nervous when the thunder and lightning are around - to the point where she jumps in your lap and quivers. So for the hours while the storms move through, Molly gets no more than a few inches from me or L. Sort of like having a two year old around again. {*grin*}
  • Micro-bursts. Some friends own an amusement ride manufacturing business in the area. A micro-burst before one of the hail storms picked up a completed Ferris Wheel, moved it laterally about 15 feet, then toppled it and mashed it to pieces.  No one would have believed it except for the eye witness who was sure his pickup truck was next.
  • Toads. All the rain and water has led to a bumper crop of toads throughout the yard. Enough of them that even Molly the ever curious has reached the point where she simply stares at them and continues on her way. I don't know whether to attribute this relaxed attitude towards toads to boredom, learning that they really don't taste good when you lick them, or ...
  • Pieces. My ancient lawn mower has finally gone to pieces. It survived the years of the Son abusing it mowing lawns (including this one), but old age has finally crept up on it. Guess it is time to look for a new one when I spend more time fixing it than mowing with it.
  • Boredom. Netflix was down for a whole day and I had no entertainment. {*grin*}

So which one is the figment of my fevered imagination?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I'm Back, Yet Again

After battling network issues and then some weather issues and spending some time in the mountains with L, I am once more sweating profusely at my keyboard. So what great oddity do I bring forth to celebrate my return? That was a tough question since I seem to have run amok amidst things that pique my interest and curiosity of late.

For example, I read that the recent quake in Japan is estimated to have moved the main island approximately 8 feet eastward. Interesting in and of itself, but that led my mind wondering how property surveyors handle the movement. Up til the introduction of GPS units it would not have make much difference since survey marks were based off the geologic survey markers embedded in the ground. Since the ground moved, the basis mark moved with it and all was fine. But now survey is based increasingly off of precision GPS readings. Those GPS readings are based on satellite positioning, not ground. So the ground moved but the satellite did not.

Picture now the poor Japanese property owner whose neighbor wants to build a fence at the edge of his lot. The deed marks the lot in terms of latitude and longitude. So a surveyor comes out and marks the corners of the neighbors lot from the latitude and longitude via satellite and now discovers the the lot sits 8 feet into our poor owners lot, right through his kitchen. So how is the subsequent slew of anomalies corrected/handled. Inquiring minds want to know!

I'll leave you with one of my favorite Gore Vidal quotes:
Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half have never voted for President. One hopes it is the same half.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Oh My!

I had a whole slew of semi-serious topics I planned to talk about, but then I took a left turn and all you get is this. {*grin*}

As I was taking my pills this morning, I was struck by the thought that the drain in my sink has to be the healthiest drain anywhere. For more than 20 years it has dutifully eaten every pill and drug to slip from my fingers in the morning with nary a burp or belch. It obviously has low cholesterol from the statins and niacin it has stolen. It is on a balanced diet supplemented with all the vitamins it has swallowed as they tumbled from my hand due to sleep blurred vision. It has every once in a while even taken a dose of insulin that would kill a cow when a vial was dropped. And yet it keeps right on waiting for the next tidbit to fall its way.

So far as I can tell, the only substance to ever cause it indigestion is the stubble from my beard mixed with shaving cream. Even then, adding a bit of Drano to the mix seems to set all to right once more.

I figure it will still be gobbling things up long after I am gone.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Event Pictures

Here are a few pictures from the LCHS volunteer appreciation/recruitment and facility status update meeting.

First up, a picture of me talking to a couple of the volunteers and guests prior to the presentation. (And boy does this picture make me look BIG!)
(I am the gentleman in the suit coat and gray hair. {*grin*})

Next is yet another picture of me talking to a group prior to the presentation. This time you can at least see my smiling face!
(That's me on the left.)

And finally here is a picture of me giving my presentation:

You can click on any of the pictures to get a much more detailed picture. Just hide the good glassware so it doesn't crack upon sight of my beautiful mug. {*grin*}

Of course the real reason for attending is the layout of food, including pizza:

(We are very fortunate to be able to use the Tennant Art Gallery at the local college to meet. Nothing like fine art around the room to set off a meeting. One of the better things we accomplished during my terms on the college board was to set up the Tennant Collection of Western Art for perpetual display in a dedicated gallery that also serves as a meeting facility.)

Have a safe weekend!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Event That Was

The volunteer appreciation and recruitment event for the humane society (and new facility construction update) was this evening. I was more than happy that it was held in a nice air conditioned gallery as the outside temperatures today soared into the high nineties. Made it a lot of fun lugging stuff into the gallery. {*grin*}

Tomorrow is the BBQ for Relay for Life, so I'll have to mosey over and eat and throw a few balls at the dunk tank victims. Of course it probably won't be as hot just to make it less enjoyable for the dunkees. It always amazed me that I made it through three terms as mayor without being railroaded into being a dunk tank victim for the event. There is a lot to be said for glaring and looking unpleasant. {*grin*}

Am I the only one who finds that the year is getting away from them? It seems that time is flying by and always catching me unawares. The older I get, the faster time seems to move. I just know that one of these days I am going to look around and it will already be next year. Do you ever feel that way?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Once There Was A ...

A short fairy tale of woe and doom. Once upon a time there was a company named Google who also happened to own another company called Blogger. One fine day, one product of Google ceased to work with the only product of Blogger. True to form, Google acknowledged there was a problem for some users and proclaimed that they were working on the issue. After weeks of problems logging in to Blogger using Google's Chrome browser, today it seems to work mostly work correctly again. You might think that such idiocy wouldn't happen with products all under one owner like that, but ... So the moral of the story? Not even all the ducks in one family swim together is a straight line all the time.

In any case, today was Memorial Day and it was a nice and slightly cool day until about 4pm when the forecast 50 mile an hour winds and hail hit. It all cleared out in time for me to fire up the BBQ to cook for the small celebratory crew of L, her mother, my mother, and me. So we had a great repast and sat around the table talking for a bit over desert. All in all a very pleasant evening.

One of the topics of conversation was the question: Do you count relatives by marriage as "relations" or not? The original train of thought came about from L and my attendance at a high school graduation party for the daughter of a golfing buddy. At said party we ran into a person who is related via marriage to me through the fact that he is the cousin of my uncle's wife. We also ran into the brother of another aunt's late husband. I would consider those all relatives (even if a bit distant). On the other hand some people do not consider any marriage tag-a-logs other than spouses to be relatives. So what do you think?

(Those of you who share my devotion to science fiction will find the names more meaningful. {*grin*})

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I'm Back ...

Or at least trying to be.

Blogger has made it darn hard to get back. Somehow they broke their interface when using Chrome and LastPass. The little light bulb above my pointy head finally turned on and I fired up another browser to login and do this post. It doesn't seem to have been a good month for Blogger. This has been the worst period for outages and odd errors since I started writing this blog. I sure hope it is not a harbinger of the future!

So just to get everyone up to date, this has been a month of getting some gardening stuff done (and the onions all planted) and the arrival of spring weather. Out here in the semi-desert the coming of spring means thunderstorms and sometimes even rain. This month has been a wet one compared to most years - one of the continuing changes due to climate change. The winters have been geting dryer and the springs wetter and more stormy. So now we are waiting for it to dry out enought to get the rest of the garden planted. And of course once it is planted, that will be the last moisture we will see for the rest of the growing season. {*grin*}

Time to get back to work preparing for an upcoming Humane Society event. Now that I have a way around the Blogger idiosyncrasies, I hope to post regularly again.

I'll leave you with one of the better editorial comments on the recent Blogger shenanigans from The Odd Blog:
Caption: Ann Althouse, relaxing at an undisclosed location following the attempt on her life by Blogger.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Every so often something new and annoying happens in the business of the internet. The most recent trend to annoy me is the appearance of streaming video ad-lets that have no escape, mute, or user control embedded in various pages. Many of them have no way to prevent the contents from being streamed at the person viewing the page they are on. One clicks on to a page and there, off to the side, is a streaming video with no accessible controls and sound blaring, making it nearly impossible to read the article you originally intended to read.

Why are these ad-lets annoying and a dirty trick? There are several reasons:

  • No volume control to mute the obnoxious ad audio.
  • No pause control to stop wasting bandwidth for the video.
  • Capricious consumption of my bandwidth without asking permission.

Given that more and more ISPs are installing bandwidth consumption caps on consumer accounts, do you really want to see your bandwidth used without your permission to display an obnoxious streaming ad? I sure don't, and I don't even have a bandwidth cap on my service.
What can be done about the problem? Short of some technical slight of hand to prevent the domains serving the bogus video from connecting, there is very little the average user can do. But one thing we can all do as consumers is to refuse to do business with any company that uses such ads. Maybe they will get the hint that abusing their potential customers is not a way to increase sales.

What do you think?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Near and Dear

Near and dear to my heart is the dumbing down of the populace I see each day. Little things like simple math skills gone missing. A complete lack of knowledge of the world around us and how it works. Attention spans approximating that of a gnat.

All of these problems I believe are symptomatic of a change of attitude in society as a whole. A few generations ago, education was regarded as the way to a better life. Parents emphasized education as a way to a better life to their offspring. Somewhere along the way the whole process has been ditched in favor of  the many faces of the cult of idol-ism. So now we have a growing group of semi-literate and scientifically uneducated people who follow the dictates of the talking head of the moment without critically examining anything. It scares me for the future.

One of the oft overlooked consequences of the dumbing down of America is the increasingly strident opinions of the populace. One of my favorite quotes puts it succinctly:
People are getting dumber but more opinionated. -- Philip Roth
Can't be much clearer than that. Check out your favorite letters to the editor page for classic examples. (Or listen to a call in radio or TV program since many are no longer capable of writing a coherent letter.)

On the other hand, my rationalist mind demands that I also ponder if the dumbing down is real or just a a figment of my imagination. After all:
Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it. -- George Orwell
So what do you think. Is the increasing stridency of modern opinion due to the dumbing down of the populace or ....?
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