If There’s No Breaking News—We’ll Break Something!

Courtesy, National Geographic  (Consider joining--http://www.nationalgeographic.com/about/)

Courtesy, National Geographic
(Consider joining–http://www.nationalgeographic.com/about/)

Squeezed in somewhere among the celebrity gossip and pinup pictures, occasionally the Internet carries items that journalists once referred to as News.

News includes such boring items as wars, disasters, election results, and rarely mention the reaction from starlets, transgender humans or trans-species….whatever. In the days of journalism, the reporter listed the facts:

  1. This is what happened (not my impression of what happened).
  2. Where and when it happened.
  3. Why is this significant? (Not guaranteed to be 100% factual, but true journalists tried to be as objective as possible).

“News” today is often predictive—this COULD happen, or the media focuses on something that probably will happen, but it could be tomorrow, or it could be in 30 billion years (give or take).

[Note: I like the fact that what was once the press is now the media. It’s like admitting they only rank a grade of “C” for their work.]

Today CNN ran a story on the super-volcano that someday could, maybe erupt (or it could keep releasing pressure through Old Faithful and the other geysers like that weight on the top of a pressure cooker).

But the best thing is—they’re now adding music to news stories, and a pretty zippy bongo number (doubtlessly electronically generated) at that. Try http://www.cnn.com/videos/weather/2015/04/24/supervolcano-yellowstone-magma-reservoir-orig.cnn?iid=ob_article_footer_expansion&iref=obnetwork

What’s next for the news mesia—laugh tracks?

There Are Some Nights…

I hear lots of people talking about going home at the end of the day and watching TV or even doing something significant. The older I get the less often that happens. I tend to wind down in the evening; if I’m productive I do some “therapeutic soldering” on some project or another.

However, there are some evenings when I’m just beat. I may have gotten a whole lot of things done that were on my to-do list (nothing like the folks at the Hadron accelerator, but accomplishments nevertheless).In any case, I just want to relax, wind down and call it a night.

Tonight is one of those; in fact it’s a perfect example. I could explain why, but I’m just too tired.

So, on that note, good night.

It’s NOT Speed-dating!

The Persistence of Memory Salvador Dali (and his mustache) Courtesy about.com

The Persistence of Memory
Salvador Dali (and his mustache)
Courtesy about.com

Fortunately, I’m past those that deal with dating, on-and-off relationships, and other unsure bets. I am the embodiment of the line from When Harry Met Sally, “Promise me I’ll never be out there again.”

Especially given some of the strange rituals that accompany the process these days. Speed-dating? Really?

Apparently you sit with a person of whichever sex interests you for a very brief period of time—as in minutes—and try to learn enough about the other person to determine if he or she might be worth more time (apparently if that other person has the same opinion of you).

Imagine my horror when I realized that having two teenagers at home is just like speed-dating my wife. We have five minutes in the morning before we each head in different directions.

“When did you say Katie’s trip was?”

“Did I hear something about a soccer tournament for Adam?”

“I’ll have to get back to you on that.”

“Wait, did you pay the credit card bill?”

“Call me.”

“No you call me, maybe we can do lunch.”

I’m going to go down to the office supply store and get a couple of those “Hello, My name is:” stickers, and a letter of introduction from some high and lofty personage, and see if that….

Ooops, sorry, gotta run.

Community Service

Socrates Courtesy Wikimedia

Socrates
Courtesy Wikimedia

Yesterday, the American Diabetic Association’s Tour de Cure bicycle race was held in our area. This is a fundraiser for diabetes research and rides can choose a ten-mile, thirty-mile, sixty-five mile, or one-hundred mile course, with people donating to support their efforts. Local ham radio operators provide communications from each of the seven rest stops with the race coordinators at the start/finish lines. When I lived in Wyoming, the local hams provided similar service during Frontier Days.

Some people enjoy providing service to their friends and neighbors; some belong to an organization that encourages (and if necessary shames) its members into serving the community. Churches often provide the tipping point for people who wouldn’t go out on their own. Many high schools require a certain amount of community service in order to graduate. I believe that organizations provide the social network and support to help those who are comfortable being part of a group, but are not comfortable acting as an individual. Members of the Local Club (whatever it is) are more likely to adopt a road and clean it than the same people as individuals.

I know every generation worries about the state of their children. Supposedly, Plato credited Socrates with the following quotation:

The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they allow disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children now are tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.

However, in Socrates’s time young men and women couldn’t cocoon in their bedrooms with smartphones and video games.

The Impending Storm!!!

Rick Moranis and AudreyII Little Shop of Horrors

Rick Moranis and AudreyII
Little Shop of Horrors

To quote Tom Lehrer, “Spring is here! Spring is here!”

(Those of you who are Lehrer or Dr. Demento fans know the rest of the song, but that’s not where I’m going….)

It seems like every day the weatherman on TV points out that “there’s a chance of thunderstorms….IF this cold front currently over Kyrgyzstan and IF this low pressure system in Chile coalesce with the effect of butterfly wing flapping in South Africa.”

So I debate. Should I spray weed killer on the eighteen foot dandelion in the front yard that keeps ringing the doorbell? If the rain comes, it will wash the weed killer away, but if I don’t spray, the weeds will take over.

Decisions! Decisions!

I’ve always found that I do best if I sit back and think about a problem, so I went to the front porch and sat on one of the two white Cracker Barrel rocking chairs. I tried my best to think and logically assess the situation.

Then I saw it

A sporty BMW pulled up in front of the house. The driver looked around; when he didn’t see anyone watching, he jumped out and walked across my lawn without even turning the engine off The giant dandelion spoke first..

“Here’s what I promised you,” it said, handing the weatherman a roll of banknotes. “You were never here, and we never met.” The weatherman did a quick count and started to turn back to his car.

I pounced from my chair, weed killer in hand and began to spray the dandelion and watch it wilt. Surprisingly, just from the overspray, the weatherman began to wilt in exactly the same way, and soon both were merely smudges on the front lawn.

The weatherman was dead! What should I do?

I pulled my cellphone out of my pocket, dialed the police department, and calmly reported, “Hey, there’s a BMW running in front of my house with no one in it.”

Ahhchooo!

I have allergies. I made it almost sixty years without them, but then they showed up—BANG!

Or should I say, “Ahhchooo!

We Nowaks are famous for the ferocity (and volume) of our sneezes.

I’m allergic to dogs (we have a dog).

To cats (two cats)

To birds (Alex the parrot lives in my office/radio room.)

To dust mites (We have a dog, two cats, a bird and two teenagers, so we have plenty of dust and the mites that go with them.)

I’m also allergic to pollen. Lawn pollen, and tree pollen.

It’s spring in Virginia. My normally while car is yellow. My normally brown wooden deck is yellow. When it rains, the puddles leave yellow trails behind as they evaporate.

Which got me thinking (always dangerous)—given pollen’s purpose, does that mean I’m now afflicted with a sexually transmitted disease?

Random Issues and Other Nonsense

Courtesy: NASA

Courtesy: NASA

Computer wonks professionals are always focused on security above all else. Of course, the most secure computer is the one that is not only disconnected from the internet, but also, unplugged, disassembled and the individual pieces mashed with a sledgehammer.

Therefore, it was no surprise that I received a computer peripheral for my “Home Cloud” that had seals on the cardboard box stating that opening the cardboard box would void the warranty.

My family used to have a tradition of passing an item – a cheap ceramic jar labeled as a “Penny Jar” so that each birthday, holiday, or whatever, it would show up. Sadly it eventually broke. However, with re-gifting now a common practice, there have to be items that keep getting passed along and never actually used; Christmas fruitcake doesn’t count.

Samantha Cristoforetti, an astronaut on the International Space Station is from Italy (and a ham radio operator who talks to kids in school by radio). The Italians have some of their priorities set right, and they designed an espresso machine specifically to work on the space station—the other astronauts drink instant coffee. It finally arrived after a launch mishap (explosion) of a supply rocket in January. If I were an executive with Starbucks, I would be soooooooooooo embarrassed that the Italians beat us to this milestone.

Finally, I have to wonder why certain otherwise normal people feel compelled to write blogs.