Saturday, August 28, 2004

The Face of Courage

Wednesday was a full day for me. I worked and then drove over the hill to hear my friend Rachel Nelson sing in front of a very respectable trio of jazz musicians; Victor on bass, John-Paul on drums, and Richard on keyboard.

The venue was Hoffman’s Bakery at 1103 Pacific Avenue, Santa Cruz.

As my normal mode is to not eat a meal during the day — merely a 600 calorie snack sometime during the workday — I fell to with a gusto when my server brought a plate of pasta, scallops, and shrimp in an Alfredo sauce. Can’t say I was paying particular attention to the music, as my concentration was on not spilling a drop.

After the repast, all was well and the music was simpatico. Rachel did something I’d never heard her do before. She went up a couple of registers to a very high soprano and sang a couple of bars of an old favorite a cappella before the band came in. Very interesting and really exciting.

The music ended at nine. I yakked with the musicians as they packed up instruments, music stands, scores, notes, amps and such. Shortly, it was time to come back over the hill.

Pacific Avenue, once Pacific Garden Mall, is home to the longest running freak show on the West Coast. I was in no rush to get to the car. I ambled along taking in the sights and listening to the catchy lyrics of the street musicians. Mickey Newberry probably rolled over in his grave.

As I approached the parking lot where the T’Bird was stashed, two young men in wheel chairs came streaking down a short ramp. I stopped in my tracks to watch their antics.

I inquired if they were having a steeplechase. It was a term neither understood, but once explained, they were in agreement it was something like that.

Both are handsome young men, Eric and Gavin, and had suffered debilitating spinal injuries. They were in an upbeat mood and we conversed for several minutes before I asked what the possibility of recovery was.

Gavin answered that it depended on the outcome of stem cell research and Eric issued an immediate “Go, Kerry!”

The only thing I have at stake in the upcoming election are my own prejudices. These guys are faced with the prospects of maybe being able to walk again in their lifetimes or being denied any possibility, depending on which way the wind blows come November 2.

I left them plotting a new run over high curbs up one ramp and down another. I had plenty to think about on the 28 mile drive home.

Britain and Taiwan will soon have stem cell cloning on line, but in the meantime, the only source is embryonic tissue over which there is much choleric rhetoric. Having an upbeat attitude in the face of those circumstances strikes me as courage of the first order.

Hang in there, guys!

Monday, August 23, 2004

Cyber Hygiene

My annual subscription to Norton AntiVirus updates was to expire in early September, so I checked the Symantec site to see what else might be available rather than to continue with the mishmash of NAV, LavaSoft’s Ad-Aware, and Popup Cop that passed for my security/peace-of-mind scheme.

After comparing internet prices, I was able to purchase Norton Internet Security from a Yahoo! listed etailer for about $20 cheaper than the Symantec store. It was slow arriving, but well within my requirements window.

NIS refused to install until I removed Ad-Aware and Popup Cop. Afterward, the installation while lengthy was straightforward. The package spent a good 45 minutes updating. (On DSL, yet!)

I later found that NIS doesn’t counter spyware, so I went to the LavaSoft site to download a fresh copy of Ad-Aware. The Swedes have updated this little freeware jewel and does it hum! Better yet, the first time I ran it, I found 27 “infections” that had not been discovered by the old version, even though I had downloaded updates and performed system scans religiously.

One of the things I didn’t have to reload was Popup Cop. It did a superb job, but has been adequately replaced by NIS. If you have unwanted pop ups (What am I saying? Who in his right mind likes pop ups?) Popup Cop did a superb job for me and is available from TUCOWS.

What I really like about NIS is I am no longer bombarded with spam in my Outlook mailbox. I had been getting 10 to 12 unwanted emails a day and often a couple of them had NAV popping up and telling me it had corralled a virus. I just checked and found that 14 spam emails have been blocked since I installed it yesterday morning. No more of that, it looks like. As OWW would say, Heh, Heh!

Monday, August 02, 2004

Bush Calls for New Intelligence Director (read article here)

Back before 9/11, the Fed had all the dots. For one bureaucratic reason or another, the dots didn't get connected and 3,000 people, mostly American civilians, died at the hands of Saudi extremists.

How did this happen? Everyone wants to know. Dubya forms a commission to check it out. All bureaucrats, each and every one. What corrective action did the commission propose? More bureaucracy, that's what.

Bureaucrats are really, really good at taking precautions against previous disasters, but by their very nature are incapable of imagining something new, or if they do, you can bet they will not present a hypothesis until all the eyes are dotted and all the tees crossed.

So far we have a new Reichsprotektor - er - Director of Homeland Security and now a copy of the Siecherheitsdienst is proposed.

All that the Fed has come up with is new color codes for the perceived securtiy condition, an invasion of a country incapable of causing us harm, and a be-Jesus long wait to catch an airplane.

I don't feel one little bit safer. Do you?

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