Saturday, November 28, 2009

Ich Bin Ein New Englander

The title comes with apologies to the ghost of JFK.

We're here, we have the living room more-or-less set up the way we want, and we have Road Runner internet at 7Mb. The unpacking continues, of course. There are still piles of bins full of stuff that has yet to find a home. As usual with any packing/unpacking cycle, a great deal is going straight from the bins to the dumpster or clothing donation box next to it. Less to move next time, as long as we can resist the urge to buy more crap to replace the crap we got rid of.

Just as a lark, I'm creating this post through Google's Chrome browser. It has some really cool features, but lacks a certain amount of polish. Given who is behind it, I don't expect that to be a problem for very long. The only real annoyance at this point is the lack of an ad-blocker plug-in. I am always amazed just how much annoying advertising there is on the web whenever I venture out of my Firefox/AdBlocker Plus universe. I'll probably flip back and forth for a while and see how it goes. The best part, of course, is that I don't have to worry about Yahoo hijacking my browser every single time Firefox updates itself. I still wonder about the legal definition of "malware" and why it doesn't include software that refuses to uninstall.

Speaking of which, we've been having some rather interesting events on the PC front. While at Debbie's mom's place, I had installed the drivers for her HP printer/fax/copier/scanner doohickie. Of course, it came with about a gig of software that I really didn't want or would ever use, but it seemed harmless enough. Until yesterday when I tried to uninstall it. Long story short, before the dust settled, I had lost the ability to connect to any external drives, including the Drobo array, all the HP software had mysteriously reappeared, and Windows had been rendered impotent to uninstall it. After some Windows updates last night and a full power down/up cycle rather than a simple reboot, the Drobo is at least back on the list of hard drives. All the HP software is still there and now I'm paranoid to uninstall it. Again, when simply removing an unneeded hardware driver can knock out parts of the OS, is that not stepping over some sort of legal line? And please spare me the anti-Windows, anti-Microsoft, just-go-out-and-spend-three-times-as-much-for-the-same-thing-from-Apple BS. I have installed and uninstalled literally hundreds of hardware drivers over the years without screwing up the OS, so it isn't some inherent flaw in Windows. It's merely HP's attempt to make it as painful as possible to ever get rid of whatever crapware they decide to install on your PC. And even as I type this, I have some HP thing demanding that I stop what I'm doing to give it permission to run. Feh.

The reason my system had a hard reset this morning is also an interesting story. We woke up to our first-ever New England power outage. It seems the wind was blowing, so about half of New England was without electricity for several hours. The power company has this cool reporting thing that determines your location from your caller ID and automagically creates an incident report when you call in and gives you some idea how long they expect the power to be out. I would think the effort would be better spent clearing trees away from power lines so the outages don't happen in the first place, but my brain seems to run down different paths than the brains of those who run things.

We spent most of Wednesday dealing with local government crap and spending piles of cash we really don't have in the process. See, New Hampshire's state motto, emblazoned on every license plate, is "Live Free or Die." They make a great deal over how there is no sales tax or income tax. Well, let's just say that in one day, we spent a couple years' worth of sales and income taxes in some pinko-commie state like Michigan, and we're not done yet. The fun started at the Department of Motor Vehicles. A New Hampshire driver's license is $50. We're not sure exactly how long that is good for as the government crones behind the desk were stereotypically unhelpful government workers. We think it's four years. My Arizona license was $20 and good until I turned 65. Live free or die.

Then we were off to the Swanzey Town Clerk's office, because the New Hampshire Department of Motor Vehicles doesn't issue motor vehicle license plates. It turns out that the reason for that is that the town of Swanzey wants a piece of the action. More than $200 later (in two separate checks because the Swanzey Town Clerk having to figure out how much gets forwarded to the DMV and how much she gets to keep is just too much work), we are the proud owners of a temporary title and two license plates. One problem; there is no accommodation for a front license plate on a 2003 Dodge Durango. Doesn't matter, of course; one must do whatever is necessary to make it as easy as possible for the constabulary to issue insanely high fines for every minor infraction (which of course includes not having both plates properly displayed). Live free or die.

The Town Clerk informed us that we also need to get a vehicle inspection in the next ten days. We explained that we have been in town for exactly 36 hours and had no idea where one goes to do that. She gave us the name of a local garage just down the street from our apartment, which is on the way to the hardware store where I was heading anyway, in order to figure out some way of mounting the front plate. Perfect! We had visions of getting everything taken care of in one day. Alas, the garage mechanic nearly worked himself into a stroke because the license plates were still in the back seat and not on the vehicle. He kept repeating "Don't be drivin' around like that; it's a big fine." Surprise, surprise; yet-another non-income-tax, non-sales-tax, government revenue stream. I tried to explain that I had literally picked up the plates five minutes before and was on my way to the hardware store to get some means of attaching the damn thing, but he wouldn't have it. I arranged to come back Friday afternoon and left before the guy worked himself into heart failure. Odd how many people in the "Live Free or Die" state act like slaves. Or maybe it would more accurate to say colonials; once a colonial, always a colonial? All I know is that somewhere, King George is laughing his ass off.

Anyway, I managed to get the plates on the vehicle Thanksgiving Day with the help of some Gorilla Tape, a couple screws, and a plastic bumper. Thanks goodness for cheaply-built cars. We headed south to have Thanksgiving dinner with Debbie's brother and family. We scurried out Friday morning so we could get back here and get the Durango inspected, but the shop was closed up and dark. Not a big deal; I have ten days to get it done and put the sticker in the front windshield. (Who needs bumper stickers or custom paint jobs when the government provides so many free adornments for your automobile?) At that point, I hope we are done dealing with government. At least until next year....

We've met several people in our apartment building already. Everyone seems to be relatively normal. The one surprise was the large number of Southeast Asian families, recently immigrated judging by their preference for their native language. We haven't had a chance to really talk to any of them, other than the usual passing-in-the-hallway hello's, but they all appear to be relatively young couples with the world's cutest kids. When we rolled in Monday around dinner time, the entire ground floor was redolent (woohoo! got the spelling right on the first try!) with the smell of curry. I love that smell, but Debbie doesn't. Fortunately for her, the apartments seemed to be rather-effectively smell-proofed as well as sound-proofed.

And that's pretty much been our week. Posting will probably continue to be light until we eliminate all the plastic bins and settle into some sort of routine. We'll get some photos of the apartment up on Flickr at some point as well. There may also be some photos of the surrounding areas, if it ever stops raining. We really didn't arrive at the most scenic time of year.



Unknown said...

Good to find another rightward-leaning New Englander. That means I'm not alone. I'm over to the west in Vermont, and we've got taxes that probably put Michigan to shame. And you're right about King George laughing his ass off-- I'm sickened by how many people over here talk so lovingly about tyranny. Some of them even think the Revolution itself was a bad thing. Do they not teach history in schools anymore?

Anyway, nice blog. I'll be watching the RSS feed.

Ric said...

I generally consider myself libertarian with a conservative bent, but I'm not evangelistic about it. I consider politics to be a vector; right now we are heading in the socialist/totalitarian direction. I'd like to see us head back the other way. Once we accomplish that, then we can argue about whether we stop at traditional conservatism (as opposed to the current neo-conservatism which looks a lot like 1960's liberalism) or libertarianism or anarchy. My fear is that it isn't possible to change course; we seem determined to prove to ourselves that socialism doesn't work rather than learning from history.

Thanks for your time.

Unknown said...

A true Libertarian government (if there can be such a thing) probably wouldn't last long. There are too many traditional conservatives in the US. And we do NOT want anarchy. Nature abhors a vacuum, so something would quickly rise up to fill the void of government. And that something would most likely be bad. We'd be right back to the whole tyranny thing. And IMHO, anarchy is really just a fancy term for civil war. I think our best bet is to go back to what Constitution says. And to make the politicians actually listen to the people.

And besides, we do need government for some things. For instance, a police force, due process of law (trial by a jury of one's peers, etc.), and the maintenance of a professional military. I wouldn't trust a militia to do the job if the Soviets, Chinese, or North Koreans came knocking. And I wouldn't trust any sort of unregulated militia with our nuclear weapons. Speaking of which, I shudder to think of what would happen with those in an anarchy situation.

Anyway, libertarians with a conservative bend are conservatives to me, so I'm still counting myself as "not alone".

Ric said...

I agree completely that having Washington DC return to its former status of national curiosity that has little to do with my daily life rather than the Imperial City it has become would make me positively giddy. As I said, it's a vector; once we're on it, we can debate how far we want to go. And I have no problem being in league with anyone that agrees that that is the correct vector to be on, even if I may want to take a few more steps down it than you do. I know I don't want to go nearly as far down that path as, say, the Libertarian Party does, which is why I am no longer affiliated with them; they cannot abide by anyone who does not agree 100% on every point (see Ayn Rand and Objectivism).

Unknown said...

And I agree with the vector thing. I'm in college (one of very few conservatives at the University of Vermont) and I'm currently in Calculus 3. As long as our vector has the right direction, I don't mind people suggesting different scalar multiples of it (which would only change the length). The problem is, I think the vector we're on right now needs to have a negative scalar multiple (e.g. the opposite direction).

Anyway, another thing I noticed from your blog is that you're a satisfied (and not talking about switching) Windows user. That's something else we have in common, as I'm a die-hard Windows man myself. It's always worked for me, and I've never seen the need to pay twice the money (at least) for the hassle of switching to a completely different system. And I've seen so many macs at the aforementioned university that I'm starting to feel like even more of a minority. So again, it's good to know I'm not alone.

So yes, your blog has conservative politics and technology, so it's perfect for me. I'll be watching it closely. Your life is fascinating. :)