Thursday, November 09, 2017

A Little Site Maintenance

I did a little long-overdue site cleaning over there on the right. For some historical reason I don't even recall, the list of links was separated into two chunks. The reason for a link being in one list vs. the other seemed increasingly arbitrary, so now it's just one list.

I finally removed the link to Jerry Pournelle's site. Today is the first time in 20 years that I am maintaining a site without a link to Chaos Manor. I also removed the link to the Non-Sequitur comic as they now refuse to show content if you run an ad blocker. Sorry, but you're not that funny. I also removed a site run by a very nice gentleman in upstate New York because the things he wrote about were so far out there, they make Uncle Charlie seem mainstream.

Matt Taibbi came close to getting deleted. His recent articles just seemed to have lost some of the edge that his GFC articles had. But he redeemed himself with this excellent bit on the student loan racket. If you have a child thinking about attending college or you yourself are considering doing so, you really need to read it. The conclusion:

It's a multiparty affair, what shakedown artists call a "big store scheme," like in the movie The Sting: a complex deception requiring a big cast to string the mark along every step of the way. In higher education, every party you meet, from the moment you first set foot on campus, is in on the game.

There is no way to win this game other than simply not to play.

I added links to RT (pretty bad that a citizen of the land of the free and home of the brave has to depend on a Russian site for objective news), and Condemned to Debt. If spending five minutes on that site doesn't convince you to stay far away from student debt, nothing will.

And I'm off to the laundry room and down to the 'rents to help them get settled.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Another Quick Update

It's been cra-cra-crazy around here the last few weeks. My work has more or less gone completely off the rails lately. We are going into the busiest part of the year with a half-dozen large, public special events coming up and all is chaos. We had decided that Debbie would bring my parents down some time back, and it's a good thing we did, because there is no way I can disappear for the better part of a week. I'm not sure how it will all turn out, but right now it ain't lookin' good.

Ah well. Two years is about average for me to keep a job....

We still have our screaming toilet valve, but it's screaming a lot less frequently thanks to the overall drop in water pressure in the park now that all the snowbirds are flocking in. I was hoping to get over to Home Depot and see if I could scare up the right pieces-parts but I'm not sure that's going to happen anytime soon (see above).

At least we finally got the hot water heater situation sorted. I got a little snippy when I called our propane company to tell them it was leaking yet-again and got some clueless BS about how there was no record of us having any problems. So we were pissed before the repair guy even showed up. Fortunately for him, I was at work and Debbie was on the phone with a client, which saved him from getting his fracking ears burned off. Of course, they never have the parts on hand even when I tell them exactly what the problem is and to not bother coming out without a replacement valve in hand, so he declared that the valve was indeed bad, shut the gas off to the hot water heater and left. That was Monday.

We also needed another tank of propane, so I had ordered that up while I was on the phone with the propane company. He came Wednesday and swapped out the empty for a full tank. Understand, this has been done every couple months for the five-plus years we've lived here without a problem. I don't know what happened, but Debbie called me at work gagging and coughing because the trailer was filling up with propane. I flew home and shut everything down.

Now we have no hot water and no stove. And I was shopping for a new propane company.

Thursday, Debbie called me at work to tell me that I need to call someone at the propane company to "discuss the water heater situation." There really wasn't much to "discuss" in my book; just fix my damn hot water heater already. After some phone tag, it turns out the company that made our hot water heater wasn't going to honor their warrantee and in any case, couldn't ship the replacement valve for several days. That was unacceptable, so we now have a bright new shiny hot water heater installed at absolutely no cost to us at all. Not even the usual $100 service fee we've had to pay all the previous times.

So as of right this minute, I cannot smell mercaptan for the first time in five years. I let you know in a few months if that holds.

I guess I should get off my butt and go do some sweeping, weeding, power-washing, etc. around my parents' place before they get here. I spent a good chunk of yesterday doing all the interior cleaning and plugging everything back in. It's all done other than I need to take a bunch of batteries over there and get all the clocks running again. It's weird. We have battery clocks here, both inside and out. We replace the batteries in them maybe once every couple years. But batteries in their place don't even last through the summer. It can't be the heat, because as I said, we have a battery clock outside that gets direct afternoon sun for several hours a day, and I've changed the batteries maybe twice in the four years we've had it. Besides, we talked them into leaving the AC on over the summer instead of shutting everything down, so it never got above 80. And it isn't just my parents' place; for the last month all you hear walking around the park is everyone's smoke detectors chirping. I've replaced the battery in ours twice in five years; the day we moved in and about a year ago. Why can't batteries sitting in empty trailers not even make it through six months? Do batteries die of loneliness sitting by themselves with no people around?

Things that make you go, "Hmmmm...."

(And before anyone has a burning desire to lecture me about it, yes I am aware that I'm "supposed" to change our smoke detector battery every time I have to reset all the clocks for the semi-annual stupidity called Daylight Savings, but that's just dumb. Every smoke detector sold in the last, oh, twenty or thirty years or so will tell you when the battery is low. Replacing it on some arbitrary schedule is simply wasteful and stupid. That entire campaign had to have been thought up by the dry cell industry.)

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Screaming Toilet Valves...

...is not the name of a punk rock band.

It really needs to be.

About a year ago, our toilet started making a loud, high-pitched screaming sound after it was done filing, or at completely random times. Like 2:03am. Then again at 2:37am. Then again at 2:46am. Then again at 3:09am. Etc., etc., etc.

Fun times.

If I can find a replacement valve, I may be able to fix it, but given all the other weirdness with this stupid toilet, it probably has some sort of custom valve that has to be shipped special from Indonesia and will take two years to get here. Seriously; this thing is really starting to piss me off. Under the lid, it looks like part of a Saturn V main engine instead of a toilet, and it's been nothing but a giant pain in the ass since it was new. I'm ready to yank it out and replace it with some cheap Home Depot piece of crap from China.

Speaking of things pissing me off. We have a hot water heater that has done nothing but leak propane since the day it was installed. We are on something like the fourth or fifth valve and I constantly smell mercaptan. The propane company insists that it's all in my head, probably because it's close to being out of warrantee. Given that we had to pay $100 every time the valve blew out bad enough that they couldn't deny that it was leaking, I'd hate to think what it will cost once the repair isn't "covered". I can guarantee one thing; once this hunk of junk is out of warrantee, it will be replaced, and not by the ass-clowns who installed this one.

Did I mention that we paid top dollar for the toilet and the hot water heater because we bought and had them installed by small, locally owned businesses?

That will teach me to deal with a local company instead of a multinational big-box corporation. Their crappy merchandise likely would have failed as fast as what we have, but it would have cost a hell of a lot less.

And pass the beer nuts.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Life in Florida

Woman arrested while trying to yank out another woman's hair and uterus.

Pasco man arrested for driving into person who set bananas on his car.

Hours after Hurricane Irma, Miami-Dade County tickets residents for code violations.

And yes, I saw the update where the county tries to walk back its profound stupidity. There is no possible excuse for hassling people who are standing outside their destroyed home trying to find missing relatives about a damaged pool fence. As far as damaged electric and gas meters, there is nothing a resident could do about it even if Home Depot happened to be opened. Those are the property and responsibility of the utility. So again, why are you hassling someone more concerned with where they are going to live and what they are going to eat because their gas meter isn't properly attached to their destroyed house?

Whenever a stupid man is doing something that even he knows is stupid, he will always use the excuse that he was just following orders.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Dr. Nefario's Snowplow

We sooooo needed this when we lived in our little log house:



Those are MiG-15 jet engines. Leave it to Russians to invent a snow removal device that looks like a doomsday machine from a Bond flick.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Dr. Jerry Pournelle, RIP

Lost in all this hurricane nonsense was the news that Dr. Pournelle passed Friday afternoon (September 8th). I never met him in person, but we did communicate via e-mail on occasion. Thinking about it the past few days, I realized just how much Dr. Pournelle influenced the path of my life; from his monthly column in Byte magazine, to his daynotes website (the world's first blog, although he hated the term), to his books, one of which (Oath of Fealty) is directly responsible for us landing at Arcosanti.

Steve Sailor over at Taki's Magazine has a memorial article on Dr. Pournelle:

In 1977 Jerry paid $12,000 to have a state-of-the-art personal computer assembled for him, supposedly to boost his productivity. By 1980 that led to his long-running “Chaos Manor” column in Byte magazine in which he would document his troubles on the bleeding edge of PC technology. As fellow word-processing aficionado Dave Barry explained jealously, Jerry got paid to mess around with his computers when he should be writing:
Every month, his column has basically the same plot, which is:

1. Jerry tries to make some seemingly simple change to one of his computers, such as connect it to a new printer.

2. Everything goes hideously wrong…. Sometimes there are massive power outages all over the West Coast. Poor Jerry spends days trying to get everything straightened out.

3. Finally…Jerry gets his computer working again approximately the way it used to, and he writes several thousand words about it for ‘Byte.’

I swear it’s virtually the same plot, month after month, and yet it’s a popular column in a magazine that appeals primarily to knowledgeable computer people.

I like to imagine Steve Jobs circulating “Chaos Manor” columns to his executives with scribbled annotations suggesting that some people would pay good money to not have to go through all this.

Sailor doesn't mention it, but Dr. Pournelle always named his computers. His first one was christened Ezekiel, or Zeke for short. He frequently referred to it as his "friend Ezekiel, who happens to be a computer." Zeke now resides in the Smithsonian.

I tried to remove the link to his website from my list over there on the right, but I just... can't. That link has existed on every website I have ever maintained. Someday it will disappear. Today is not that day.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

We Survived Irma...

...and we didn't even get a crappy t-shirt.

She jigged, she jagged, she was all over the place. But in the end, we were on the "good" side of Irma. Debbie was working up until sometime Friday afternoon when the mandatory evacuation order was first announced. I had to work Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so we just sat tight and had the car all packed up with what we would need for a few days of camping out. Debbie came with me to work on Sunday and we stayed there until Monday morning.

Sounds simple, right?

Heh.

Sunday morning, we shut down everything at the house, loaded up in the Durango and instead of starting, it was just, "click-click-click". Dead battery. Seriously?

We found someone in the park, got a jump and headed out about two hours later than we planned. We were still in pretty good shape, but the weather was starting to turn ugly by the time we got to my work and threw everything into the building.

All was good until around 9pm when parts of the building started losing power. However the place is wired, some of the building can be out, but other parts will stay up. Kinda weird. Anyway, little by little, things stopped working until around 1am Monday,  we were completely in the dark with no phone, TV or internet. Cell phones were still working, so we could call and reassure nervous relatives that we were fine. By sun-up it was all over, so we headed for whatever was left of our home. (It only took two jump-starts to get the three-tenths of a mile from my work to the house. THANKS CHUCK!!!)

Our place had no damage, just a lot of debris. My parent's place didn't fare so well. The new roof over the porch detached from the main roof and collapsed. That's part of today's job; see about getting that the rest of the way on the ground before it goes flying around the park.

Power here came back on around 5pm [Debbie says, "Nuh uh, it was 7:24pm." OK, 5pm-ish], so we didn't have to throw away everything in the fridge and freezer. My work is still out (I'm typing this Tuesday, noon-ish), which means that it's starting to get iffy on all the food in the various fridges and freezers there. That would be a big bill. I hope we have insurance to cover the loss.

Our first priority today was getting a working vehicle. It would start with a jump, but it would die a couple tenths of a mile down the road. Today so far was spent trying to find a place with power that I could buy a new battery from and then somehow getting there. Someone at the lodge was out and about and knew that we were stranded. She got all the specs over the phone, bought us a battery and delivered it here to the house. THANKS TERRI!!!  So we have a car that runs, but I don't think we are out of the woods yet. Because of how it was acting, I think there may be a problem with the alternator as well. As far as I can tell from what it was doing, the alternator could not have been putting out much for the car to keep stalling out. (I couldn't tell for sure because it's a soccer-mom car with no gauges, just idiot lights.) But the battery needed replacing regardless; when I tried to remember the last time I had bought a battery, I had no recollection of ever doing so. When I pulled the battery, the date was November 2004. Oooooookay. Maybe I should call Interstate about buying my dead battery to use in an ad: Six-Year Battery Lasts 13 Years!!!

Yeah. Probably not.

So we have transportation, power, internet and the landline phone working. Cell phone coverage is still hit-or-miss. I assume it is a capacity issue. We get various error messages; "Network Unavailable", "Emergency Calls Only", etc. All we have is a Tracfone, so I assume we are last on the priority list to connect to the local towers.

More later, but I better get at cleaning things up.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Roof Korean Option

I was going to post something about the cruise, but I bumped into this instead:

The Roof Korean Option will recognize that this life is “nasty, brutish, and short” and there is little time to sit and chat with Rod [Dreher] about the merits of gay civil unions while getting a $75 haircut when your home is being broken into or your daughter didn’t get into Notre Dame because she checked “white” on the entrance application.

You really need to read the entire essay. I've been sayin' much the same thing pretty much for the life of this blog, but Jesse Russell says it much better (and funnier) than I ever could.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Cruisin'

We are home recovering from our cruise. I've been working ten-hour days every day since we made landfall. I figured everyone worked extra hours to cover for me, so now I'm giving everyone else as much of a break as I can. I may have overestimated my abilities....

The cruise was a blast, as all cruises are (other than the occasional diarrhea cruise, which thank God we have avoided so far). We drove over to Miami a couple days early and booked a hotel in Brickell that was basically walking distance from the port. Our first day there (Thursday), we ventured out to find some food. The front desk guy basically told us to just start walking straight down the road until we found whatever we were looking for. We ended up in a Brazilian restaurant where no one spoke English. (If you ever find yourself in a "foreign" restaurant where the entire staff and clientele are Americans, RUN!) As is standard these days, there were TV's everywhere. I'm not sure when people became so addicted to screens that there has to be a TV hanging on every available inch of wall in every building, but I've accepted that the battle is already lost.

And get off my lawn!

Ahem. What was on the TV's had us cracking up the entire time we were there. It was some bizarre telenovela that combined Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Pirates of the Caribbean with some Mayan Vampires thrown in. I'm pretty sure that even if we spoke Portuguese or Spanish or whatever language it was in, it still would have made absolutely no sense to us. But it was still fun watching the crazy jump-cuts between a 16th-century British country house, a pirate ship, and Mayan human sacrifice while eating dinner.

The next day (Friday), we jumped on a van that took us to a bus that dropped us on an air boat that did a lot of this:


We were in the front of the boat, which steers from the rear, so it was like riding on a bar of soap. I was holding the camera pointed straight ahead the entire time (except when I had to throw it behind me to keep it from getting drenched with the water coming in over the side). So yea, the parts where it looks like I'm pointing the camera out the side of the boat? That was when the boat was going sideways. Which was most of the time. We only saw a couple small alligators because it was too hot out even for cold-blooded reptiles. The park has some captive breeding going on, so we wandered around a bit checking that out. At one point, we both felt the hair on our necks stand up. We turned around to this:


It's an odd feeling to have something sizing you up for lunch....

When we got back to Miami, the bus dumped us off right outside Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, so we headed in for dinner where I got revenge on that croc by munching on some of his cousins. We wandered the waterfront a bit, listened to some jazz, then hopped on the people-mover-thingy to our hotel and crashed. It sucks not being able to handle the sun and living in Florida of all places. Maybe we should move to Seattle.

Saturday was All Aboard!! the Carnival Vista for fun and frolics. This is our first mega-ship, the flagship of the Carnival line. The upside was that I had the best mac-n-cheese EVAAAAAR! Unfortunately, there was a lot to be disappointed in, like a lack of staff and too many people in too small of a space. There were the same number of stairwells and elevators as there are in ships half the size, so getting anywhere was a royal pain. Room stewards only hit the rooms once a day instead of twice. Takes forever to get food in some areas. The buffet had limited selection. Even main dining was a disappointment unless you wanted to pay an upcharge for the "specialty meals". All of which is supposed to entice (force?) people into the "specialty dining restaurants" that cost extra. I know it's a first-world problem, but it just isn't what I expect from a cruise. And the ship is just over a year old, and some of the public areas are already looking tired. I realize that sea air is hard on everything, and that people, especially the low-brow types that are drawn to Carnival, are even harder on things. But, as we were reminded 50 times a day, we were on the Flagship of the Fleet. I would expect a little extra effort from the maintenance department.

And the rocking. A ship can only be so wide and so long and still be able to use standard port facilities, so they keep making them taller. Any wind or swells whatsoever and it's rocky-rock, rocky-rock, rocky-rock. Kinda makes you wonder about the stability of the thing if it ever encounters serious weather. I know the cruise lines are very good about ducking and dodging around storms, but stuff happens.

And even the cruise director was making jokes about how crappy the theater was. Flat seating on the main floor? How many fractions of a percent did that brilliant move save on the construction costs? And don't even get me started on the stupid little drink tables screwed into the arms of the seats. They are right where your arm goes, which means that every last one of them is bent, making them completely useless as drink tables. But some ass-hat in management won't allow the maintenance guys to just get rid of the useless things. And thanks to giant pillars all over the place, about half the seats have no view of the stage. The cruise director offered to meet us there at midnight with sledge hammers for a little "repair party". I'm not sure he was actually joking.

But. And this is a very big "but".

The crew was great. They ran themselves half to death trying to get everything done without enough staff, always smiling, knew us by name after the first day, etc. And our favorite place on the ship was listening to Elizabeth in the piano bar. In our comments to the cruise line, we told them that "Elizabeth is a goddess and should be allowed to drive the ship." I'm not sure that's going to happen, but if it does and you're reading this, Elizabeth, give us a couple short blasts on the horn, K? And the Debbie Frost Whip dance craze will live forever. (Sometime when my post isn't already tl;dr, I'll explain that.)

The first day was taken up with boarding and getting settled, then a full day of sailing. We woke up Monday morning in Grand Turks. We didn't bother getting off the ship because a) we've been there before, and b) other than sitting on the beach or sitting in the bar/restaurant at the end of the pier, there really wasn't much to see. So we stayed on board and enjoyed short lines for things like the buffet and the SkyRide.




Next on the itinerary was La Romana in the Dominican Republic. We went through the Cueva de las Maravillas National Park. As is now typical, no photos are allowed in the cave due to concerns about blinding the bats and damaging the cave paintings. Of course, the Googles has 'em. The description of the shore excursion had some blah-blah-blah about steps. What we should have noticed was the number of steps. During the entire cave tour, you are going deeper and deeper in.  When you exit, you are greeted by a single staircase of some 200+ steps. We stopped about two-thirds the way to the top to try to breathe. Some young snot with his LL Bean Hiking Shorts (tm) and his LL Bean Hiking Stick (tm) and his LL Bean Hiking Boots (tm) that still had the tags attached says, "Oh, we're taking a break?" Yea, ya little shit, 'cause as soon as I can stop panting, I'm gonna toss your scrawny ass back down to the bottom of the stairs. Which I totally would have said to him, except I was busy trying to get enough oxygen to my brain so I could see.

After that we headed up to Altos de Chavon, a replication of a 16th Mediterranean village. It had steps. Not as many as the cave, but too many.



Debbie wanted me to climb down to the bottom of the amphitheater for a photo. I told her, "You first!"


Nice place to just hang out, but other than a gift shop and a guy charging to have your picture taken with his donkey, I'm not sure what really goes on there.

Next up: Aruba. The short version; Central Arizona with iguanas. After the whole Stairmaster routine the day before, we were looking for something easy, so we took an island bus tour. The first stop wasn't bad, just some uneven ground. And no steps.


Then the second stop was a giant boulder with these:


Not just steps, but irregular, uneven, crooked, stone steps.

And then this:


And this:


And then back to the ship.

In Curacao, we did another cave. This one was privately owned rather than a national park, but they had done a good job developing the cave. It was a much smaller and younger cave system than the one in the Dominican Republic. Very few full columns, but still a very nice cave. The best part was the guide shutting off all the lights when we were in the back of the cave. Always a good time for anyone who hadn't been in a cave before. Which included Debbie. I thought that she had been in a cave when she was a kid, but that must have been one of my other wives.... Again, no photos allowed and, likely because it's a private cave, I can't find any online. I do have a picture of (you guessed it) stairs!



The next stop was an ostrich farm. This little guy is the only chick that survived this year. They don't know what happened. Probably some sort of virus. Blood and tissue went out to various labs with the hope that they can come up with some sort of vaccine that can be given to the adult birds which will give immunity to next year's brood.


The babies are cute. The adults... well....


So after all that, it was two days at sea that consisted mostly of sleeping, eating and hanging out with the Goddess Elizabeth in the piano bar.

Then, back to reality....

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Busy, Busy, Busy

I think this is like the dozenth post with that title, but what can I say? We are.

I have a new job at the lodge. The administrator went back to his old job outside the lodge. He is still the administrator, but now I'm the Office/Social Quarters Manager. I also have a new assistant so I don't have to be there 7 days a week. More pay, longer hours and more headaches, mostly people bitching about the administrator not being at the lodge basically 24/7. I've already had to tell several people (in varying degrees of my not-nice voice) that they can either tell me what they want or they can just suck it up. Sheesh. Old people.

To add to the fun and games, the Annual Moose International Convention was held in Tampa this year. Someone had the bright idea of running four vans between the convention center and our lodge from noon to midnight Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Yea. That turned out just about how you would expect. Actually, it was a nice financial shot in the arm for the lodge in the midst of our summer doldrums, and given the amount of alcohol consumed, it didn't go too badly. Trying to train a new guy while learning a new job myself with sheer bedlam right outside the door and even right at my desk was... interesting. I think I got about 10 hours of sleep over the three days. Nearly two weeks later, we are still cleaning up the last of the debris.

On the CLL front, my white cell count is going the wrong way, but my hemo guy insists that all is well and other numbers indicate the drug is doing exactly what it is supposed to be doing. If you say so, dude. It's not like you have a Plan B, so what else are you going to say? Physically, I'm the same; tired all the damn time, open sores and rashes popping up at random (mostly on the right side of my body, which is really odd...). I've gotten outside to take a wack at the six months of junk piled up all over the place, but I just can't be out there for very long without feeling like I'm gong to black out. Of course the 90-100 degree heat may have something to do with that.

Oh, and because we don't have enough other stuff going on, we finally got the plumber and tile guys out here and completely ripped out the bathroom and all the plumbing and replaced everything:

While we were at it, we had the old kitchen sink taken out and replaced with a deeper one, a new faucet and a water filter.

Bathroom floor.

New sink top to replace the 1970's gold marble (that "matched" the original green shag carpet).

Front of the shower stall.

Back of the shower stall. The seat is more of a perch; one cheek at a time ONLY please.
We only had to spend one night down at my parents and only had to use the park bathhouse for showers a couple times. The tile people and the plumber dude did a good job of leaving the place livable at the end of the day. We still have to replace the 1970's antique brass faux-Gothic towel rod, hand towel hanger and toilet paper holder. We are also replacing the light fixture and the mirror and medicine cabinet. Then the last step will be to peel off the old-people wallpaper boarder around the top of the room and painting the room something other than old-people beige.

Well, I probably should go get dinner started.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Happy Fourth of July

A couple days late. Sue me.


Edited to add this (which relates the first one):



Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Adam West RIP

First Gene Cernan and now Batman. Are there any heroes left?

Adam West died on Friday, June 9th. I realize West did a great deal more than just play Batman for a couple years. I was only three or four years old on the the show's first run, so I probably remember them when they were reruns on Channel 50, when it was operated by Kaiser Broadcasting. It was pretty cheesy stuff, even back then, but I was hooked. It doesn't matter how many posers have tried to play Batman since, Adam West will always be THE BATMAN.

I love this:


I assume this was West's idea. Someone who played himself on such shows as The Simpsons and Family Guy probably didn't take himself very seriously.

Speaking of fallen icons, America's "Newspaper of Record" has about as much credibility as that former mainstay of American journalism, The Weekly World News. This is from an article written by comedian Lee Camp demolishing a Times article about himself:

This past Thursday the New York Times vomited up a hit piece on little ol’ me – a guy who has been doing stand-up comedy for nearly 20 years and thought maybe that comedy could be used to inform and inspire audiences, rather than just make fun of the differences between men and women.

At first when you’re the center of a smear job, you’re annoyed and frustrated. But as I read further through the piece, I realized it was a master class in how to write propaganda for one of the most “respected” news outlets in our country. I’m actually grateful it was written about me because now I can see with my own eyes exactly how the glorious chicanery is done. I count no less than 15 lies, manipulations, and false implications in this short article, a score that even our fearless prevaricator-in-chief Donald Trump would envy.

So here now is a “How To” for writing propaganda for the New York Times – using the smear piece against me as an example.

It really is worth it to take five minutes and read the entire article. 

Personal update:

I'm back to a sort-of normal. I cannot do any real physical activity for more than a few minutes, and I can't take direct sun at all. But I'm able to get to work and make it back home to watch TV, so that makes me better off than most of our neighbors. I'm on some drug that Johnson & Johnson thinks is worth $110 a pill wholesale. (At three pills a day, that comes to $10,000/month.) Of course, I'm not paying that. In fact, I'm not paying anything. J&J has a program for poor sots like me so I can get it for free. When I read up on the drug's side effects, I wondered if I would even be able to continue working. But so far, they've been mild to the point of non-existent. In fact, I'm wondering if the stuff is even working as many of the side effects are the result of the destruction and flushing of all the defective white blood cells floating around in my bloodstream. My last round of blood work was inconclusive; the blood work I had done today will show if I'm one of the lucky few who will not experience any of the common side effects, or if I'm one of the unlucky few for whom the drug does nothing. I have no idea what happens if it's the latter. Everyone seems to have placed all my eggs in one basket.

Central Florida had one of the worst droughts ever over the winter. The wet season seemed like it would never get here. Most of our plants were dead or nearly so; even some of the trees in the woods behind us died completely. About two weeks ago, we finally got some rain. Now we wish we were back in the drought. So far, flooding has been minimal because the ground is so dry, most of the water is soaking in as fast as it can come down. But that won't last forever. The good news is that most of our plants came back. We lost a few and I will likely replace a couple others that are so beat down and deformed that even if they recover, they will never be anything but ugly. I'll do a little trimming and give them one last chance, then if they don't shape up it's off to the compost bin.

Well, that's all I have for now.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

This Place Sucks

If you want to know why where you live sucks dead bunnies and, more importantly, why you can't even force yourself to care that it sucks dead bunnies, watch this:



Someday I'll post some pictures from around town. Which sucks.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Quick Update

My CLL kicked in big time around the first of February and has me completely beat down. I'm sleeping 14-16 hours a day and have absolutely no energy whatsoever, which is why this place has been so neglected.

One thing we are learning first-hand is that James Kunstler is right; the entire medical industrial complex is a criminal racket. From where I sit, I can see no practical or moral difference between what we've been put through the last couple months and Al Capone's reign in Chicago a century ago. The main difference is that at least Uncle Al had a fairly competent organization. These asshats around here can't get anything right. The lab can't figure out how to run the test the doctor ordered. When I ended up admitted to the hospital, I had to correct the nurse on duty every hour on the hour as to what medications I was on, how much I take and when. Some stupid bitch PA tried to kill me by prescribing 40mg of prednisone twice a day. It took me a month to get my blood sugar down low enough that my meter would display something other than "HI", not to mention that my immune system was already in complete collapse and I have an irregular heart beat. At least my hematologist seems to have his crap together. He's the only reason I'm still alive.

Anyway, things will likely be quiet here as I have to wait another two weeks or so before possibly starting on some drug that is supposed to help. Of course the side effects of the drug will have me puking up my guts, crapping my pants and possibly bleeding to death because I shave with a blade instead of an electric razor. Sounds like good times.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

The Coup Continues

I sincerely hope everyone in the US understands that we are in uncharted territory here. There is a faction buried in the alphabet soup of the dozen+ federal security agencies that are actively attempting to over-throw the duly elected president of these united States:

1. June 2016: FISA request. The Obama administration files a request with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) to monitor communications involving Donald Trump and several advisers. The request, uncharacteristically, is denied.

2. July: Russia joke. Wikileaks releases emails from the Democratic National Committee that show an effort to prevent Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) from winning the presidential nomination. In a press conference, Donald Trump refers to Hillary Clinton’s own missing emails, joking: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing.” That remark becomes the basis for accusations by Clinton and the media that Trump invited further hacking.

3. October: Podesta emails. In October, Wikileaks releases the emails of Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, rolling out batches every day until the election, creating new mini-scandals. The Clinton campaign blames Trump and the Russians.

4. October: FISA request. The Obama administration submits a new, narrow request to the FISA court, now focused on a computer server in Trump Tower suspected of links to Russian banks. No evidence is found — but the wiretaps continue, ostensibly for national security reasons, Andrew McCarthy at National Review later notes. The Obama administration is now monitoring an opposing presidential campaign using the high-tech surveillance powers of the federal intelligence services.

5. January 2017: Buzzfeed/CNN dossier. Buzzfeed releases, and CNN reports, a supposed intelligence “dossier” compiled by a foreign former spy.... [Pissgate]

6. January: Obama expands NSA sharing. As Michael Walsh later notes, and as the New York Times reports, the outgoing Obama administration “expanded the power of the National Security Agency to share globally intercepted personal communications with the government’s 16 other intelligence agencies before applying privacy protections.” The new powers, and reduced protections, could make it easier for intelligence on private citizens to be circulated improperly or leaked.

7. January: Times report. The New York Times reports, on the eve of Inauguration Day, that several agencies — the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Treasury Department are monitoring several associates of the Trump campaign suspected of Russian ties... though it is unclear how they found out, since the investigations would have been secret and involved classified information.

8. February: Mike Flynn scandal. Reports emerge that the FBI intercepted a conversation in 2016 between future National Security Adviser Michael Flynn — then a private citizen — and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The intercept supposedly was part of routine spying on the ambassador, not monitoring of the Trump campaign....

9. February: Times claims extensive Russian contacts.... and the Times admits that there is “no evidence” of coordination between the campaign and the Russians. The White House and some congressional Republicans begin to raise questions about illegal intelligence leaks.

10. March: the Washington Post targets Jeff Sessions. The Washington Post reports that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had contact twice with the Russian ambassador during the campaign.... The Post suggests that the two meetings contradict Sessions’s testimony at his confirmation hearings that he had no contacts with the Russians, though in context (not presented by the Post) it was clear he meant in his capacity as a campaign surrogate.... The New York Times... adds that the Obama White House “rushed to preserve” intelligence related to alleged Russian links with the Trump campaign. By “preserve” it really means “disseminate”: officials spread evidence throughout other government agencies “to leave a clear trail of intelligence for government investigators” and perhaps the media as well.

Emphasis is mine. Some random thoughts of my own on each of the above point:

1. A sitting president requests permission to spy on an active presidential candidate and his staff. He becomes only the 13th person denied a warrant by the FISA court out of 35,000+ requests. Just how over the top was that first request that even the damn FISA court told Obama to stuff it deep and on a slant?

2. The news media stops editorializing against Trump and begins telling straight-up lies. They've never stopped.

3. RUSSIA DID IT!! Again, this has been endlessly repeated to the point of nausea, never with a shred of evidence.

4. Obama gets his FISA warrant on the second go 'round, can't find anything incriminating, then just keeps spying. Because RUSSIA!!

5. Pissgate: a story concocted by a former spy. Former because he was completely incompetent, was pulled from the field, then stuck in Mulder's old office.

6. Let me get this straight; Obama signs an executive order literally hours before the end of his presidency that will essentially guarantee that anything juicy the NSA hoovers up in its data center will be leaked to the press...

7. ...which happens immediately.

8. Probably the only thing the "intelligence" community has said in the last year that isn't a complete lie.

9. The "White House" (meaning Obama) creates a situation that virtually guarantees leaks, then tries to act surprised when they occur. Obama's estimation of the IQ of the average American must be seriously low. Oh, wait....

10. We've saved Russia so much money. They no longer need to play Spy vs. Spy with the CIA. They just need to subscribe to the Washington Post.

And mere days later, Julian Assange received what looks to be the entire hacking manual that the CIA uses, including code. The current assumption is that while passing the thing around to all the private, for-profit contractors, it escaped into the wild. So basically, the entire planet now knows, down to the code level, how the CIA has been hacking into their systems (or simply paying software and/or hardware companies to write back doors for them). The best bit is a little thing code-named UMBRAGE:

As Wikileaks notes, the UMBRAGE group and its related projects allow the CIA to misdirect the attribution of cyber attacks by “leaving behind the ‘fingerprints’ of the very groups that the attack techniques were stolen from.”

In other words, the CIA’s sophisticated hacking tools all have a “signature” marking them as originating from the agency. In order to avoid arousing suspicion as to the true extent of its covert cyber operations, the CIA has employed UMBRAGE’s techniques in order to create signatures that allow multiple attacks to be attributed to various entities – instead of the real point of origin at the CIA – while also increasing its total number of attack types.

Sorta puts that whole Sony-hacked-by-North-Korea thing in a different light. From where I sit, it looks more like a trial run. When the report first came out that there were Russian "fingerprints" on the hacked DNC e-mail server, I said then that the last people who should be blamed for the hack (well, hacks, actually; it had been compromised at least a half-dozen times) were the Russians. If it had been the Russians, the "fingerprints" would have pointed directly to some 27-year-old college drop-out living in his mom's basement in Elksnout, Montana.

In any case, good to see the CIA destroy what little credibility the US "intelligence" community had left. The problem now is that with their brilliant plan to Ukraine the US lying on the floor in pieces, I wonder how long it will take them to just Kennedy our president and be done with it.

On the home front, my dad is still in hurry-up-and-wait mode. The original surgery was canceled at the last possible minute because the surgeon looked at all the various tests and scans and discovered much more grave problems than a mass that may or may not (but so totally could be!!!) cancer. So now it's back to round after round of tests, scans, x-rays, etc. with a much more involved surgery maybe next week. That means that even if everything goes perfectly, my parents will be stuck here in Florida for at least a couple weeks longer than they would prefer. Good thing they got a couple air conditioners up and running last winter.

The dry needling thing seems to be slowly making some improvements to Debbie's arm and wrist. She can at least make it through a week mostly pain-free. Between that and her alien sex toy, she seems to be turning a corner after five or six years of steady decline.

I, on the other hand, am completely falling apart. Whatever was up with my feet a couple weeks ago is now hokey-pokey-ing around my entire body. Left foot, right foot, left knee, right thumb, left pinkie, left hand, right hand, left wrist, left shoulder. I finally had time to get to my primary, Dr. Ken. He freaked and order up all sorts of blood work. (After whingeing about how it would be so much easier for him if I would just go to the ER, have them check me in for a couple days and they would be able to run all the blood work. Um... isn't that what I pay you for??) He had them checking for everything from AIDS to TB. The problem is that somehow my CLL was left off my medical records. I know damn well I put it on the forms, but it didn't get entered into the system. Which I got bitched out for by Dr. Ken. Anyway, now I'm waiting for the blood work to all come in, make a follow-up with Dr. Ken and a hematologist and a rheumatologist. The current theory is that instead of tissue infection or gout, I actually have RA, which almost makes some sort of sense. The CLL flared up, which landed me with a bunch of nuisance infections (like thrush) and also caused the RA to go nuts. The problem is that I've already been tested for RA and it came back negative. I guess science ain't an exact science with these clowns.

Well, Debbie just got back from the store, so we better start in putting the tinfoil up on all the walls....

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

My Kind of Fitness



Yea; I'm into that....

"We now return you to your regularly scheduled coup d'├ętat already in progress."

Most Americans haven't realized it yet, but our very own "Intelligence Community" is in the process of over-throwing our duly elected president. For decades, we've been doing it to other countries, either through brute-force assassinations, or more subtle approaches such as manipulating public opinion by planting false stories in the media. I suppose this is just the proverbial chickens coming home to roost, but it won't make what follows any less unpleasant. 2017 may very well turn out to the a year everyone would rather forget about.

Maybe the prep'ers are right: all us deplorables should be stocking up on pork-n-beans and buckshot.

On the personal front, the last few weeks have been my turn to be sick. I just started my second round of antibiotics in two weeks. The doctors at Urgent Care can't seem to agree on what is wrong, but first my left foot, then my right foot swelled all up and became feverish and very painful. On the first time around, it was a tissue infection likely from a cut on my foot that I didn't notice due to diabetic neuropathy. The problem with that brilliant diagnosis is that I don't have diabetic neuropathy and there were no breaks in the skin on my foot. But whatever; don't confuse doctors with facts. No matter; the drugs made it go away. Until about 36 hours after I ran out of antibiotics, then the exact same thing happened to the other foot. Now it's gout. OK. Sure. So as of Monday I'm on a different antibiotic that has an interesting side effect. It can make you shit yourself to death up to six months after you stop taking it.

No progress on Debbie's problem with her arm. The dry needling seems to work for about three hours after each session. The chiropractor suggested some weird thing you buy online that looks like an alien sex toy. So far, it has mostly caused a lot of bruising, but it does seem to help with the pain.

And my father is still in a holding pattern. The antibiotics didn't get rid of the growth, so they want to cut it out so they can confirm that it isn't cancer. 'Cause it so totally could be! And we need to get it out right away! But first lets spend two weeks running a bunch of tests to see if we can find more billable hours! Sure enough, they managed to find some sort of "anomaly" with his heart, so now the surgery is on hold. We should know something by tomorrow afternoon. I won't be surprised if they are still dinkin' around with this in May when my parents want to head back to Michigan.

And just to keep it interesting, my mother had to make a trip into Urgent Care because she couldn't breath. They sent her home with antibiotics for pneumonia. A couple days later, she was at her regular doctor and mentioned that she had been to Urgent Care. Quelle Horreur! Not Urgent Care! You must see a specialist at once! Because they are retired and have nothing better to do than drive around seeing doctors, off my parents go to a pulmonologist. He spent all of thirty seconds listening to her lungs, pronounced that she certainly did not have pneumonia, and prescribed methylprednisolone for her "asthma flair-up". When she got home, someone from Urgent Care called to let her know that the x-rays they had taken confirm that she absolutely did have pneumonia, regardless of what some moron pumonologist told her.

YAY MODERN MEDICINE!

Not much else to report. My work is still cranking away at top speed. Debbie's seems eerily quiet for this time of year, especially given how nuts it was all summer and fall when it's supposed to be slow. It has us a bit concerned, but we'll just have to wait and see what happens.

In the meantime, we'll just keep buying pork-n-beans and buckshot.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Waiting

Not much has been happening since the last post (other than work, of course). My dad is still doing good while the doctors continue to try to terrify him. He's basically in a holding pattern while the medical industry tries to figure out how to profit off a perfectly healthy 83-year-old man. I'm sure they will find a way eventually.

There has been no progress with Debbie's arm, either. Routine chiropractic adjusting is keeping her (barely) working, but is not doing a damn thing about finding whatever is wrong. Not that "traditional" medicine has done anything either; after we spent major bucks giving them a crack at it last year, they just collectively shrugged and declared that there was nothing wrong. At least the chiropractor admits there is a problem and provides some relief. Tomorrow, we try something else: dry needling. It's supposed to help with myofascial pain syndrome, which Debbie may or may not have. Some of the symptoms seem to fit, but not entirely. In fact, in some ways, the symptoms seem closer to her restless legs syndrome, so maybe getting poked will have an unexpected side benefit.

Another part of all this is looking at Debbie's work area to make sure it isn't contributing to and/or causing the problem. I headed out to the internet to see what alternatives existed to the "temporary" setup she has been using for the last 4+ years. What a load of horse flop. I realize we are all supposed to be working on tablets while sitting in a Starbucks, but there are still some of us that do real work on real computers. Unless you want to stand for 8 hours a day (which FYI can do as much damage to hips/knees/ankles/back as sitting for 8 hours a day), there isn't crap out there for computer desks. The last time I needed a desk, I ended up building one. I guess we may have to resort to that again.

We are still battling with computer issues. The Drobo I've been using since around 2009 appears to be dead. It lost a drive shortly after Alien Bob joined our household. I replaced the drive, it went through its whole rebuild routine and all seemed right with the world. But it kept acting weird; disappearing and reappearing, taking forever to respond, Win10 throwing nonsense error messages, etc. Once all the data had been moved to the NAS, I gave up on it and unplugged it. So right now, I have the NAS as our main data store with a 2TB drive in an Antec MX-1 that I backup to via manually-run xcopy batch file jobs. I have another MX-1 that I may load with another 2TB drive I have laying around and experiment with the backup utility that comes with Windows. (What? Doesn't everyone have 2TB drives lying around the house? Why not?) This wouldn't replace my current backup, but would be a supplement to it. And yes, I know all the cool kids are backing up their data to The Cloud (tm), but I just don't trust them. Sorry Carbonite; I'm just not that into you.

Speaking of computer issues, Amazon seems absolutely bent on making me hate my Kindle. The latest "update" is to the music app. I know people think I'm joking or being hyperbolic when I make cracks about music apps that can't play music, but Amazon has come damn close to realizing that, at least if you don't pay Amazon to store all your music in The Cloud. The old version had very obvious selector buttons that said if you were playing music on the device or the cloud. The "improved" version buries that inside a menu. Worse, it switches back to the cloud every time you go to a different app even when you are playing music. It also cannot remember what song it was playing within a few hours of hitting the pause button. Every day when I get home from work and try to play some music to relax, I'm staring at Bruce Springsteen's 57 Channels (And Nothin' On), and have to endlessly finger-scroll down while trying to remember the last song I listened to. In the blessed name of Elvis indeed....

(Side Note: I listen to music on the Kindle in alphabetical order by song title. That gives a surprisingly good mix of music. The shuffle play on the Kindle is total crap. It puts way too high of a priority on songs that have already been played, which means that starting with a clean Kindle, it will play ten or fifteen songs, then begin replaying them endlessly while completely ignoring the other 300 songs on the device. I seriously think Amazon hires chimpanzees on meth as programmers. Randomly selecting items from a list is something I learned how to do in my first programming class. In COBOL, no less.)

Amazon also "updated" their Silk browser. It no longer crashes to hard reset of the Kindle seventeen times an hour, but now I'm plagued with the option to Undo everything I do, and while it's waiting for me to decided if I really would like to Undo what I just did, I can't do anything else until the Undo message goes away.

I know, I know: first-world problems. It's just a shame that Kids These Days will never know what it's like to use software that doesn't start out being a steaming pile of shite, then is constantly "improved" into complete inutility. There isn't a day that I don't mourn the demise of Brown Bag Software.

The mainstream media is in an uproar about Trump because he is doing exactly what he promised to do in his campaign. Yes, precious snowflakes; Trump is not a politician and will not be doing things the way politicians have done things for the last 40 years. Get over it.

Takimag had a good one a few days ago that reminds us deplorables why all the Hollywood types are so angry and hurt:

Can’t you bastards see what you’ve done? You’ve hurt the feelings of those noble souls who seek nothing more in life than to entertain us as they push for progressive tax increases and free health care even though they belong to a union in which dues don’t increase for high earners and medical benefits are a privilege withheld from low earners. These are America’s finest, and you’ve made them feel impotent and unloved. As they cry themselves to sleep on pillows filled with money and oxycodone, just know, Trump voters, that the next OD is on you.

Then John Michael Greer cuts through all the BS as only JMG can do, to reveal what is really going on:

I’d also like to offer the rest of my readers another bit of advice that, again, I hope will prove helpful. As Donald Trump becomes the forty-fifth president of the United States and begins to push the agenda that got him into the White House, it may be useful to have a convenient way to sort through the mix of signals and noise from the opposition. When you hear people raising reasoned objections to Trump’s policies and appointments, odds are that you’re listening to the sort of thoughtful dissent that’s essential to any semblance of democracy, and it may be worth taking seriously. When you hear people criticizing Trump and his appointees for doing the same thing his rivals would have done, or his predecessors did, odds are that you’re getting the normal hypocrisy of partisan politics, and you can roll your eyes and stroll on.

But when you hear people shrieking that Donald Trump is the illegitimate result of a one-night stand between Ming the Merciless and Cruella de Vil, that he cackles in Russian while barbecuing babies on a bonfire, that everyone who voted for him must be a card-carrying Nazi who hates the human race, or whatever other bit of over-the-top hate speech happens to be fashionable among the chattering classes at the moment—why, then, dear reader, you’re hearing a phenomenon as omnipresent and unmentionable in today’s America as sex was in Victorian England. You’re hearing the voice of class bigotry: the hate that dare not speak its name.

And on that note, I'm going to cut this off. Some of my family from Michigan just rolled in.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Pissgate and Other Stuff

Well, the MSM/CIA/DNC/whatever batch of loons you want to mention, have definitely jumped the shark. The latest release of crap (well... piss, really) comes from a failed MI6 spy assigned to Russia who has been known to Russians counterintelligence since the mid-1990's. It reads mostly like some of the sorry attempts at fiction that people self-publish on Amazon. Uncle Vlad has taken to cracking jokes in public about the whole sorry mess. I'm sure our standing in the eyes of the world is soaring....

Anyway, read this for all the details. The whole thing sounds to me like the obsession of someone who got his ass handed to him in the past (meaning Steele, the MI6 agent, who was busted while trying to use fake rocks in a Moscow park to pass information; you cannot make this stuff up). (Or maybe you can....) His own coworkers don't seem to have a great deal of respect for him or his "work".

And Counterpunch, that lefty, liberal, probably-socialist, maybe-even-communist website, published the most definitive take-down of the whole Putin-hacked-the-election nonsense being peddled by the DNC and the CIA that I've seen. It's long and gets a little technical in places, but it is worth the effort to work through. To give away the ending:

There are too many inconsistencies and holes in the official story. In all likelihood, there were multiple intrusions into DNC servers, not all of which have been identified. The public ought to be wary of quick claims of attribution. It requires a long and involved process to arrive at a plausible identification, and in many cases the source can never be determined. As Jeffrey Carr explains, “It’s important to know that the process of attributing an attack by a cybersecurity company has nothing to do with the scientific method. Claims of attribution aren’t testable or repeatable because the hypothesis is never proven right or wrong.”

Russia-bashing is in full swing, and there does not appear to be any letup in sight. We are plunging headlong into a new Cold War, riding on a wave of propaganda-induced hysteria. The self-serving claims fueling this campaign need to be challenged every step of the way. Surrendering to evidence-free emotional appeals would only serve those who arrogantly advocate confrontation and geopolitical domination.

This from a website that links Donald Trump with a resurgent white supremacy movement. Hardly a bunch of Trumpian deplorables.

Enough.

Many who read this already know that my dad ended up in the hospital for five days. It was mostly for nothing. He had severe abdominal pain, so my mom took him up to the ER where they sat around for hours while nothing was done. As usual. Finally, a CAT scan was done and a mass was found. He was also slightly dehydrated. So he was admitted, hooked up to IV's for fluids and antibiotics and assigned a team of around 20 physicians who did absolutely nothing for four days other than stick their heads into his room at all hours of the day and night to assure him they had no idea what the mass was, but it was certainly cancer. They finally did a needle biopsy on the mass and it was not cancer; it was a cyst full of infected puss. He was sent home the next day with prescriptions for antibiotics and a blood pressure med. Understand that there is nothing wrong with my father's blood pressure, but the hospital here seems obsessed with killing everyone over 80 with blood pressure medication, which they came very close to doing to my mother last winter. My parents asked me what to do, and I told them to just get the antibiotics and forget about the blood pressure med. He's fine, of course. The pain (which went away soon after they started him on fluids) was probably a kidney stone, which my dad has had numerous times before. The whole thing could have been handled on an outpatient basis without scaring the living crap out of him with all the cancer talk based on absolutely no evidence whatsoever.

But I'm sure Medicare will be paying a hefty chunk for five days in a private room with hourly checks. And I'm sure my parents will be hit for another big chunk once the balance billing kicks in. As we all now know, this is the purpose of the medical-industrial complex.

Speaking of medical issues, Debbie's arm is acting up again. I'll be driving her to an appointment tomorrow. She's been told that she needs to start looking into permanent disability because, while no one can figure out what the exact problem is, working most certainly is what is causing it. She will probably be eligible for Social Security before she gets through all the paperwork, but it may be worth the hassle. Or not.

Or the business she works for goes bankrupt in the Great Depression of 2017 and the problem fixes itself.

I'm still having issues with the new computer. Everything was working fine until one sunny morning, after yet-another of Microsoft's forced updates, I could no longer print anything to our network printer. Debbie's PC, which is also running the (presumably) same version of Windows 10 has no problems printing to the very same printer. I really don't want to buy another printer just for this, but I've been thinking about getting something I can print photos from. Maybe this will be the excuse to finally pull the trigger.

I did finally find a music app that I like. I'm running MusicBee which seems to do everything I need a music app to do; namely, play music. (I found out the hard way that that's not always a given for  a music app.) I also create playlists by using text in the comment field, such as "Debbie", "Kindle", "Party", "Emo" etc. iTunes and WinAmp have been able to do this since the early 2000's, but iTunes got too... err... Apple-ish? Jobs-ish? Control-freak-is? And WinAmp lost its support base and hasn't been updated in a really long time. Many of the other players out there cannot do this including Windows Media Player. MusicBee can. I still don't have a way to automatically send new stuff with the "Kindle" tag to my Kindle like WinAmp could (sometimes) do (poorly). But I haven't really looked, either. There is an Android app, but unless specifically written for the Kindle, those rarely work inside Amazon's walled garden. If nothing else, I can tell MusicBee to export the Kindle playlist to a separate folder, then xcopy changes to the Kindle via USB. Not the most elegant solution, but it's not like I buy music all that often.

On the other hand, the app was free, so it was likely written by the NSA and is sending streaming video and audio to the Big Black Box in Maryland.

We've also been looking for a new camera for my parents. The camera they had just stopped working and we've been out looking around for a replacement. But I can't find anything that is a) simple enough for a couple in their 80's to operate, b) has buttons big enough for a couple in their 80's to see and be able to press, c) doesn't weigh 800 pounds, and d) doesn't cost $1,000,000. I'm not sure what happened in the digital camera market in the last few years, but I'm not seeing anything that meets all four criteria. If it costs from $100-$200, it's small enough to fit in your nostril and can only be operated with a molecular probe under an electron microscope. Everything else retails for $12,000 (batteries, battery charger, memory cards and lenses not included) and comes with a Sherpa and a mule to haul it around. I've been scrounging around for our old Sony Cybershot, which would be perfect. (The new ones are nostril cams.) I have a feeling we sold it or gave it away at some point.

Well, I need to get something done today. It has mostly been a complete waste (other than cranking out another brilliant bit of prose, of course). But I guess I need to have a day off once in a while.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Good Bye National Geographic

I believe I just received my last ever National Geographic magazine. I've been reading them since I was in grade school and started my own subscription shortly after graduating from high school. (Back in those days, you had to be 18 to subscribe and needed an existing member to "sponsor" you into the Society.) I've seen a great deal of changes in the magazine over the decades. Some were good. Some sucked. But on balance, I always found something worth my time in every issue.

Until the January 2017 issue.

The cover depicts a gender dysphoric boy dressed in pink girl clothes, in a classic pin-up pose. The entire issue is devoted to gender dysphoric children. If this is yet-another new direction for the magazine, then it will be a direction they will be travelling without me. Sorry, but I have no desire to pay to have pedophile porn mailed to my home. Even us deplorables have standards.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

United States of Goldman Sachs

I guess "draining the swamp" is following "hope and change" to wherever it is political slogans go to die once they've served their purpose: get the rubes to vote for you. Goldman Sachs is going to be doing some serious recruitment over the spring to replace all the "talent" The Donald has poached for his administration. Between GS running the economy and all the most bat-shit crazy generals running the military, the next four years could be rather entertaining.

Meanwhile, the Democrats are doing everything in their power to make themselves look ridiculous:


With Trump blowing up the Republican Party, you would think the Democrats would spend their energy taking advantage of that instead of running around screaming, "The Russians are coming!! The Russians are coming!!" There can't be anyone left in the world that thinks Americans are anything other than a bunch of psychopaths and crybabies.

Anyway, Happy New Year!!

Mine started off with having to clean up puke all over the men's room and hallway at work. Seriously? Are there really people over the age of 20 that still drink until they puke all over the place the next morning? At least say something instead of leaving it for my opening bartender to step in. 

So first, a 2016 wrap up: Nothing has really changed. We still haven't hit the Power Ball, so Debbie is still selling cruises and I'm still working full time at the Moose Lodge. We did finally get some work done on the place, but not by me. We ended up hiring outside help which probably doubled the cost, but at least something got done. We've also got the water leak patched and an estimate to rip out all the old, crappy plumbing in this place and redo it while also adding in a hook-up for a washer/dryer out in the new shed. We will probably hold off until the snowbirds leave in May to do that. In the meantime, we're busy rearranging stuff and hauling away everything we can do without in an attempt to give ourselves some elbow room in here.

We did good on the reading front. I signed up for a 50 book challenge on Goodreads and managed to blow past that with 65 books total. The two of us put away something like 110+ books for the year. Not bad considering all the distractions like work. I re-signed up for another 50-book challenge for 2017. I thought about upping it, but decided to leave well enough alone. A book a week is a pretty good clip while working full-time. No sense in straining myself.

We again met our primary goals of not ending up homeless or killing anyone, but it was close on the second one a couple times. I've said it before but it needs repeating; of all the personality disorders out there, narcissism does not age well. There is nothing worse than a self-important asshat who has absolutely nothing meaningful to do with his time.

Predictions:

Last year I said the fracking bubble would continue leaking air, and it did. In spades. 2017 will be more of the same. Oil prices stayed low all of 2016 and even with the reductions in fracking and tar sands, that won't likely change much in 2017. As more countries like Japan, China, the EU continue wobbling, demand will likely continue to decline, while places like Russia and Saudi Arabia will keep pumping as much as they can.

I also expect 2017 to be the year of some sort of "event". A major bank failure, derivatives blow up defaults on car and/or student loans, real estate, stocks, bonds. There are lots of bubbles out there that look ready to pop. James Kunstler is calling The Donald the "Designated Bag Holder" which is something I've been saying all summer. Hillary may still end up being the winner of the 2016 election by not winning. If there is some kind of "event", we may end up with neither of us working. We have an emergency stash, but it ain't that big and even in the best of times, Zephyrhills is hardly a boom town. If things do go seriously sideways and you are related to one of us, expect company.

Well, I have to cut this short and get some dinner going.