Wednesday, January 25, 2017


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.


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.


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.