Priorities!

Series 800 Terminator

Series 800 Terminator

I’m starting to get the computers back on track. It’s been a bloody battle, but I’ve made progress. I’ve even located my list of contacts, carefully built up over the past ten years and destroyed in one fell swoop by the computer uprising of 2014.

Now that I’m getting things back in order, I’m faced with serious questions about my priorities. My priorities as a person; as an adult; as a citizen.

Do I want to concentrate on learning to play “Why Can’t This Be Love?” on the guitar? Maybe I want to focus on drums, because some days it’s good to come home and hit something with a stick. Or, should I concentrate on converting the Walmart Halloween skull I bought (list price $9.95) into a Series 800 Terminator?

It’s a tough decision, but I’ve already spray painted the skull silver (with flat black low lights), I’ve got the Arduino microcontrollers, and it’s only the head of the Series 800 Terminator, so how dangerous could it be?

The Washington Redskins Dilemma Solved!

 

F

As you know, I’m not much of a sports fan. I also think that most sports teams have strange names.

“The Mighty Ducks?” It’s a good thing it’s not a theological college, or else it might have been “The Almighty Ducks!”

In college I had a nodding interest in football since I was in marching band at the University of Toledo. Toledo’s mascot was “The Rockets—not too bad, really. I thought Kent State University had the weirdest nickname – “The Golden Flashes”; the band cheer when playing Kent was, “What the hell’s a golden flash?”

But then I did my graduate studies at the University of Akron – the home of the “Zips.”

I understand the Washington football team’s problem. Imagine if they were the “Honkies?” – or “the Micks”, “the Wops”, or “the United States Congress!” However, if they are dead set on keeping the name “Redskins” all they have to do is

(Wait for it)

Change the graphics to redskin peanuts!

Imagine the sports commentators, being able to say such things as:

“Well, Washington’s offensive strategy is a typical nut job once again this week.”

“The quarterback is getting ready to pass! There goes the Peanut into the pocket!”

“The Peanuts sacked the Browns quarterback!”

“Washington is favored by at least 7 points against the Ravens, so it’s fair to say that the Ravens are suffering from a severe case of Peanuts envy.”

The Abject Failure of the Department of Redundancy Department

I’ve been playing and working with computers for a long time. I know the importance of backing up my computers. The laptops back up to dedicated hard drives on my main computer.

My main computer backs up to a dedicated backup system that comes complete with hardware, software, cables and a steady supply of advertisements. It is set to do continual backups; anytime the hard disk has a change, the backup is supposed to catch it.

I also have Norton 360 which is set to do weekly backups. I have Amazon’s cloud (by choice). I have Microsoft’s cloud (forced on me by Windows 8), and the iCloud because iWas trying to help my iWife get her iTunes back on her iPod. She has an ongoing problem in which iTunes duplicates everything. She has an ongoing problem in which iTunes duplicates everything.

Naturally, if my computer is turned off, it cannot back up data; but I leave the computer on because when I’m not using it, I donate the computer cycles to several good causes through BOINC at the University of California Berkeley. My computer has contributed toward climate prediction, clean water, a better strain of rice, fighting several diseases, and the grand-daddy of them all, SETI-the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence (Seriously). Want to contribute your extra computer time? boinc.berkeley.edu

So when my computer died (bad power supply), I figured it was no big deal, all I needed to do was to restore the most recent backup. Unfortunately, out of all those systems, none had a useable, recent backup file.

“I’m sorry, Steve, I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

The HAL 9000 Computer 2001: A Space Oddessey

The HAL 9000 Computer
2001: A Space Odyssey

Fortunately, I was able to physically remove the hard drive and copy all the user files, so I think I’m okay. Unfortunately, it has not been painless.

 

You might want to double check your backup systems and see if they’re really, really backing up your data.

After all, you don’t want to open a file and jeif duw2 sjxnsj wi2ss, now do you?

Look at All My Trials and Tribulations

Cheech and Chong

Cheech and Chong

I use my computers for paying bills, writing, taking an online course, and even for ham radio.

My computers broke, as in all of them; as in all of them at pretty much the same time. All right, not exactly all of them – the ham radio/weather computer kept on working, but it’s not set up for anything else.

The desk top would shut down and refuse to respond to the on/off switch. The laptop, which was a hand-me-up informed me that I was trying to do more than its poor little CPU could tolerate, so, “bye-bye!”

So, here I am with a graded online class assignment hanging over my head, and did I mention that I pay my bills by computer? You know how cranky corporations get if you miss a payment by a nanosecond or a nanocent (as opposed to when they owe you a refund, which triggers an immediate megatrillion dollar government bailout since they’re “too big to do anything wrong.”)

I order a laptop to get me through; let’s just say that fiasco is an understatement. The bigbox company website says “order here and you can pick it up today at your local store.” Great! Perfect! Of course, once you place the order it changes and says that you will receive your order 5 days after that big assignment is due.

I also tried to order the parts to repair the desktop; I ordered them from the company I have worked with for years. However, after years of satisfaction, my last two or three transactions have been less than optimal—as in “an unmitigated failure.” I won’t name the company, but if you’re a comics fan, let’s just say that the company is not named after Calvin.

In any case, the pieces parts from “Large Striped Cat” don’t work.

So I start trying to do everything on the laptop—which is running Windows 8.blech. Windows 8.hurl and Windows 8.blech don’t allow you to do a files and settings transfer. In fact, as far as Microsoft (not a very manly name) is concerned, I can’t transfer anything because THEY have all my data in the cloud.

The cloud…yes the cloud…[Shift to 1968. Two guys in button fly, low-rise, bell-bottom jeans are sharing a funny looking cigarette. “I can see it, man, (cough, cough) a huge cloud (cough) with all your knowledge, and – wait – what was I saying? Hey, I’m really hungry; is there a White Castle nearby?”]

So I keep trying to access my Microsoft (not a very manly name) Cloud files and it asks me to prove my identity, which I do. Then the next time I turn the computer on, it goes through the same routine. To quote the music of my youth;

“Who are you? Who, who, who who?”

“I provided all the information and entered the code you sent me last time.”

“You did? Like wow, man! That’s like… Hey, how do I know who you are?

“Man if I were human I so could enjoy a big sack of sliders, ‘cause I’m really hungry!”

So, here I am with several twenty-first century computers reduced to the capability level of the Cosmac Elf RCA 1802 computer, circa 1978. What can I do?

I googled that question.

The answer was, “Oh, wow, man.”

Things I Try Not to Think About

funkeeper.net

funkeeper.net

With the mess the world is in, there are probably some things you would prefer to never think about. My list keeps changing. Here are two I added today:

  1. The color brown. As the proud owner of a Y chromosome, I look at things in a manly way through a man’s eyes. As such, I know there are eight colors. How do I know this? In kindergarten, the box of Crayolas had eight colors. There was no peach, because peach is a fruit, not a color. I did have a problem reconciling the fact that there was violet, but no purple. I attribute that to purple being in the witness protection program.

     

    There was, however, brown. Brown is one of the eight (and only eight) chosen ones. It should be treated as sacrosanct.

     

    Today, I noticed that UPS has copyrighted brown. How can they do that? It’s a color! It’s an earth tone, so it certainly existed as a color before the first amino acids combined to form basic organic molecules.

     

    But then, brown might be entering the witness protection program, and this is a cover story.

     

  2. There is a new focus on gay rodeo riders.

    I once lived in Cheyenne, Wyoming and was very involved in Frontier Days, THE rodeo.

However, when somebody gets on two thousand pounds of angry bull.

When he’s hanging onto a rope with one hand as the bull jumps and twists.

When a winner is someone who can stay on the bull for eight (count them – eight) seconds.

I really don’t care one way or another about the rider’s sexual orientation (or for that matter, the bull’s)

Okay, I’m done not thinking about them.

Zippy Tunes that Say You’re Worthless

I love music but when it comes to singing, I can’t carry a tune in a bucket, so I’ve always focused on the instruments—at times to the exclusion of the lyrics. I’d tell whoever was listening with me (usually in the car) to pay attention to a bass line, or to the drums; to how the lead guitar was only playing 3 notes every other measure; to key changes or tempo shifts.

I didn’t realize what I was missing.

When Weird Al Yankovic parodied “Blurred Lines” as “Word Crimes,” he explained that he liked the idea of taking a misogynistic song and making it into one that could be use constructively in elementary school.

Enlightened by Weird Al, and that’s not meant as sarcasm, I began to listen a bit more to the words.

What a load of rubbish:

Robin Thicke — “Blurred Lines” – “You’re a good girl; I know you want it, I know you want it.”

John Mellenkamp — “I Need a Lover” Great riff, but the words? – “I need a lover who won’t drive me crazy; Some girl who knows the meaning of, ‘Hey, hit the highway.’”

Queen – “Fat Bottomed Girls” I love Queen, but really, Freddie, was that necessary?

In the movie That Thing You Do, Tom Hanks tells the lead and songwriter of “The Wonders” to write “Something zippy; not some lover’s lament.”

I think that a lament is in order. However, I’d recommend bemoaning the demise of self-absorbed twits who think everyone else, particularly women, exist merely for their amusement.

Mama Jo

Jo wasn’t really her name, but only a few of us knew her real first name and kept it as an insider’s joke and a secret among friends. However, Jo soon became “Mama Jo” to thousands of Sailors and their families.

Around 2007, I had returned from overseas and many Sailors were sent to work “boots on the ground.” It became apparent that the rules, regulations, procedures, and administrivia weren’t equipped to handle Sailors operating outside their normal channels. “Sailors belong on ships, and ships belong at sea!” we were told. Unfortunately, the enemy didn’t agree, and the war was in the desert. Dirt sailors took on whatever duties their nation required. Unfortunately, this meant they no longer fit neatly into the Navy system.

Families no longer had a command to which to turn when there were problems with pay, military housing or whatever. Add to that the wartime toll on marriages, and it was a mess. The Navy Times had articles and letters describing how Navy families whose sailors were serving in the sandbox had nowhere to turn and how they felt—and were—abandoned.

I happened to be in command when we had over one thousand Sailors in theater, so I was suddenly “the expert” for “Boots on Ground Sailors.” The wife of the Chief of Naval Operations saw the problems and took the issue of family problems personally (and my sincere thanks to you, Mrs. Mullen, for caring) and so I was told, “You’re our troubleshooting expert – fix it.”

I confess, throughout my career my Sailors were more important to me than the officers. The officers were my friends and colleagues, and I love them as brothers and sisters. It was my Sailors, on the other hand, who got the job done. They depended on me to shield them from the bullshit but missions that were successful were due to the Sailors, not the officers. I was committed to the Sailors and their families, but this war presented a Herculean task. There was almost no one who could help me tackle this.

Then came Jo.

Jo’s husband had been an Air Force Colonel. She was the only one in the command who was (slightly) older than me (I think). She had been a successful business consultant who shut her business down immediately after 9-11 in order to help our men and women in uniform. There is no one individual who has done more for our men and women in uniform than Jo.

Now there are some who believe that Jo hated me. I love this; if she didn’t get the cooperation she needed from a particular command, she would explain to them, “Well, I’m sorry that we haven’t been able to resolve this, because my Captain is going to be calling your commanding officer and it’s going to be ugly. I have to work with this guy every day, and I can tell you that when this is over, you and I are probably both going to both be in big $#!+. What? You have an idea? Why, yes, I think that might work!”

“Sir (always Sir, dammit), if you hear that the USS Whatever thinks you’re the world’s biggest pain in the ass… (add smile here) it’s my fault,” and I knew that some family had been taken care of.

Jo always threatened to buy a parrot and teach it all the things she said to her kids so when she died the parrot would be passed on and continue to repeat (in her voice) her favorite sayings. She never bought a parrot.

I did. I’ve had parrots before, but Jo provided the tipping point.

There are families who have survived storms, wildfires and tornadoes, thanks to Jo. Together we set up systems to meet returning Sailors as Thurgood Marshall in Baltimore, Norfolk International, and Naval Air Station Norfolk. Not everyone appreciated the importance of this, and it was an uphill battle, but Jo was there.

Sailors who worked with her know she was the first one in and the last to leave. When others arrived, there was coffee already started, and her desk always had a jar of candies. I preferred peanut butter cups, which mysteriously appeared in the freezer of the mini-fridge at my end of the building.

Some people are known for great discoveries and inventions. Others leave great wealth. The best way to describe Jo is with a prayer often attributed (albeit incorrectly) to St. Francis of Assisi; the author doesn’t matter – what matters is that Jo made it happen.

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is discord, harmony;

Where there is error, truth;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek

To be consoled as to console;

To be understood as to understand;

To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

 

Jo, when we meet again in the next life, we’ll pick up where we left off, except we’ll know our men and women are cared for, and I’ll finally get to meet your husband. In the meantime, know how much everyone appreciates the footprints you left behind.

Fair winds, following seas and peace, Jo.

Oh, and by the way, Mr. President, if for some reason you might be reading this blog and you’re looking for a hero to acknowledge – Jo Carter.