Saturday, May 28, 2005

As Useless As A Sidesaddle On A Sow

Every now and again my Aunt Winnie would come on to something or someone (usually a politician) for which she had no use and proclaim it or them to be as useless . . .

What brings that particular East Texas idiom to mind is an experience I had recently with my A drive. A friend wanted me to download a lengthy file from the net. (He’s one of the few people I know who isn’t “wired.”) I went to write it to the A drive and kept getting all sorts of errors. The drive seems to be able to read okay, however.

I then tried to remember the last time I wrote something to the A drive on this machine, and I think the answer is never. I bought it back in November of ’01, so my guess is the machine is long out of warranty.

3½” floppy drives are no longer being installed in the newer notebooks without special requests to do so. Magnetic removable media is now being replaced with optical media. Magnetics lasted a long time. I remember a pioneering little company that modified automotive cassette decks to accept data from mini-computers. That was over 30 years ago. The progression moved to 8” floppy discs, 5¼” floppies, then to the 3½”. Data density went up from under a hundred kilobytes to a little over a meg.

For a while, the Iomega Zip Drive offered the top end of magnetics, but they never had much of a market. The optical media is much less expensive, more robust, and just as easy to use.

Which is exactly what I did for Jimbo when my A drive failed. I merely popped a blank CD-ROM into my E drive and downloaded the manual he wanted.

Ain’t technology grand?

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Martin Gets Married

A while back I ran into a guy who lived across the hall from me back in ’83. As we renewed our friendship, I introduced him to a Minister of the Universal Church, who in turn was able to assist him through a number of life’s little difficulties.

Yesterday I was privileged to attend his wedding and what a wedding it was! It was held on the bow of the MV Cheers in the lee of Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay. The Minister officiated, and the man who introduced the loving couple who just happens to be a caterer fetched up a wedding feast of the first order. Afterwards, the yacht owner maneuvered the vessel so as to allow a good view of the KFOG Kaboom fireworks show.

As we were out for about 6 hours, I had regained my “sea legs” and needed to get back my “land legs” after leaving the boat. Riding the train home was a good idea. I don’t think there’s a cop in the state who would have believed I hadn’t been drinking. A good night’s sleep fixed that.

Anyway, it was a good show all around. This is the first weekend this year where it has been warm and sunny all weekend. It would appear that party time is here and I can’t think of a better way to kick it off than see my friend marry the love of his life.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Cyber Hygiene

I’m a little paranoid about computer security, so this morning when I followed a link to a site that set off my Norton AntiVirus, I backed out very quickly. NAV obviously stomped on it good.

Later when I was through with the morning routine (news, comics, crosswords, email, etc.) I decided to run Ad-Aware. There was an update, so rather than run the truncated version I use to clean up cookies after checking Yahoo mail, I ran the smart system scan. Lo and Behold! I had four cooties that were detected by the upgrade. One domestic and three Russian.

Now that I am back home for the day and have the time, I will disconnect from the net, and run a NAV scan, another Ad-Aware scan, and the Spy-Bot Search and Destroy Scan.

I love the world the internet brings to me via this P4, but the amount of effort expended in protective vigilance is going up.

Identity theft is on the rise and seems to be the least prosecuted felony going. I got another em today from someone hoping I’d be dumb enough to update my “eBay” account. Misspelled words and all. Like, sure, dude. I’ll do that right after the next snowball fight in hell.

Sunday, May 15, 2005


The Fountain Blues Festival was held yesterday on the campus of San Jose State University. I took a friend who is partially disabled and doesn’t drive to catch the show.

We arrived midway through Craig Horton’s set, having missed David Jacob-Strains and the Lara Price Band. (Sniff) Next up was Chris Cain followed by the Tommy Castro Band and then the headliner, Etta James.

I’m here to tell you that there was a whole lot of boogieing going on.

This is the first year that I’ve attended that the weather held warm the for the entire day. There was still a good size crowd on hand at the very end which was a few minutes after sun down.

While all that was going on, the City of Campbell put on a street party down town. It’s title is Boogie on the Bayou. What Californians can tell you about a bayou could probably fit into a thimble with room left for a fair sized dollop of good bourbon, but that’s the name.

As it is a two day event, I plan to slather on some 50 weight sun block and see if anyone knows a crawfish from a pirogue. Maybe they have a band or two that can play Cajun music.

In any event, spring has arrived for the moment. More rain and cool weather is forecast for tonight and tomorrow. Of which I’ve had enough.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Plumb Tuckered Out

My Aunt Winnie lived all of her life that I can remember on a farm near the small town of Shelbyville, Texas, with her husband, Uncle Billy Hughes. The lead line is an expression she used often when the Texas heat and farm drudgery overcame her.

The past couple of weeks have been like that for me. It is time to change career. (Starvation being nature’s way of telling me I’m in the wrong business.) A week ago this past Monday, I began a 52 hour required course of study for licensing as a Life and Health Agent. A day of poring over study material followed and then this past Monday I sat for the state mandated exam which I passed.

The following two days (Tuesday and Wednesday) were given over to product training with the regional honcho of the company who recruited me for this. I’ve been to two more meetings since then.

Today is Saturday and, to use another East Texas idiom, I feel like I been drug through a hollow log. Not physically, but mentally and emotionally. I have likened this process to being stuck in the bottom of a silo filled with cockleburs. It required learning, if not mastery, a whole new argot, memorization of arcane laws and regulations, and contact with people way outside my normal coterie of fellow cynics.

The class room instructor for the 52 hour course puts me in mind of my boot camp company commander way back when I ran away from home and joined the Navy rather than the circus. As a matter of fact this whole experience seems to be a corollary of those days.

There have indeed been moments of recruit humor; a 22 year old woman in class who asked the instructor, “Who do you work for if you become self-employed?” The guys around me immediately got up an over-under pool on how many questions she would ask the next day. I think being around her would be akin to being in a TV sitcom. Too bad she went with a different company.

The trip into San Francisco to take the test was straightforward; I drove to Fremont and took BART up. The test consisted of 150 multiple choice questions with a three hour time limit. I was in the testing room for an hour and fifteen minutes which included the taking of fingerprints. I was able to get back to my car before rush hour got serious and was home by 4:00 PM.

The anxiety over passing that flipping test has interfered with my sleep pattern and led to what seems to be a permanent state of mental slowness. I think it’s a good day to veg with a good book and some mellow jazz.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Love Is Blind

John Mason still wants to marry Jennifer Wilbanks. . . Ain’t that special?

Wilbanks flaked 4 days before the loving couple’s planned nuptials. She sneaked out of Atlanta on a Greyhound for points west, trying to disguise her jilting ways as a kidnapping. The subterfuge came to light and she is now back in Jawjuh from whence she began. The authorities, having lost their sense of humor, are contemplating charges.

However, John said he’d go through with the wedding on account of having promised before God. I wonder if her actions might not be God’s way of telling him it would be a big adventure if he did indeed hook up with Jiltin’ Jennie? (An adventure is someone else in a world of deep, sticky, odiferous brown stuff far, far away.)

The whole thing has provided a badly needed laugh. Thank you, Jennifer, for being the fruitcake you are. The next time you get itchy feet, try it out here in California. You’ll fit right in.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

The Minuteman Project Folds Its Tent

They’re going home! It’s all over. They showed the Fed that citizens are indeed relevant. In that part of Arizona, next week will be business as usual. Things will go back to what they were.

A few motel and café owners will be better off, but the merchants who were boycotted by Mexicans will not be. There you have it; it all balances off.

The real solution to the illegal immigration from Mexico is to just annex Mexico outright. That would immediately lessen the burden of patrolling a lengthy border as the distance would go down to 751 miles from 1948 miles.

No more Mexicans would have to illegally cross a border because there would no longer be any Mexicans; they’d all be Americans. Something to ponder, what?

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