Thursday, April 30, 2009


I've been sitting at the computer for about 2-and-a-half hours, and cannot come up with a single decent idea for a blog. So, I surfed a little and found a picture to illustrate my feelings this evening.

Here, then, is my 1000-word blog for today:

Blog at ya later (as soon as I get the keys back into the board),

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Caveat Emptor for the 21st Century

We’ve all grown up watching out for con artists and their ilk, who have been around since civilization started, and probably even before that. To one extent or another the buyer has always had to beware of what’s out there in the marketplace. And these days that has spread to the innocuous little screen we all spend time staring at most days…our comfy little home computers.

I suppose it was inevitable that I’d manage to get suckered in at some point…and it almost happened the other day. Yes, folks, I’m talking about:

It seemed like a simple little program to put some ads on my blog site…even had a trusted name, Google, very prominent in the promotion. So I filled out the little form, clicked it, and gave my credit card number to pay for “shipping”. What could go wrong? Right?


Here’s the thing. After ordering the “kit”, I decided to read the fine print, and went to the bottom of the page…where I found the line:
“This page has no connection to Google, which does not endorse this product.”

Hmmm. Wasn’t that the Google logo on the page? Well, no. It looked like it, but there were, well, differences. Subtle, but noticeable on second look.

After I clicked the fine print button, though, things got a little clearer, and a lot scarier:

I had, the rules assured me, committed to pay monthly fees of 24, 29 and 78 dollars respectively for three separate services never mentioned in the ad…unless I took action to cancel the agreement, in very specific and convoluted ways, within strict deadlines, etc. etc.
It reminded me of something I’d read quite a bit about:

Strictly speaking, this may not have been phishing in the classic sense, conducted via email. But the phisherman ended up with quite a catch…my credit card number, and a commitment that took the better part of my Monday to undo.

So…Just a word of warning folks…READ THE FINE PRINT FIRST. Before you send for the kit or anything else.

And don’t believe everything you read.

Case in point:

(Although I do know some people who believe that.)

Blog at ya later,

Friday, April 17, 2009

Susan and Kate

Remember Kate Smith? She brought a clear, strong voice to the American singing world years ago. When I was a young boy she was still going strong, bringing patriotic and religious music to television in black and white, and a conservative, respectable dress.

Kate has been dead for a couple of decades now, but I was reminded of her when I joined the many million YouTube viewers who heard this lady deliver a demanding selection from “Les Miserables” to a British talent show:

Susan Boyle, Blackburn Scotland

Kate Smith would belt out the long high notes, and put feelings into her music that touched me even at the tender age of whatever I was back in the mid-1950’s. She battled the “Fat Girl” image during her early career, and overcame that cynical “wisdom” from the “savvy” crowd of her own time.

Kate Smith 1909-1986

As did Kate Smith, Susan Boyle put the emphasis on what mattered: the talent that came from within, rather than the surface appearance. It was refreshing, and quite obviously unexpected for the theater-full of people watching the show as well as for the three judges, who ended up with not a small amount of egg on their faces.

It was a reminder to us all that we’ve become a little too caught up in the things Madison Avenue and it’s equivalents elsewhere have defined for us as being “vital”.

So thanks, Susan, for bring us back to earth. Let’s hope what one of the judges termed “the biggest wake-up call ever,” stays with us for a while.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

Dig in. There's plenty for everyone!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Almost Easter

When I was growing up, Lent was a long, solemn vigil in what always seemed the grayest, wettest time of the New England year. Ceremonies were intoned in Latin, in a darkened church, and the sound of that long-dead language would set the cadence for the many days ahead. It was truly a time of serious reflection, and even though we were still very young, we got the message.

The nightly services, the Stations of the Cross, the incense. Somehow the silence had a weight to it in that big church, as we sat in hunched rows, waiting for our turns in the confessional. The whispered "Our Fathers" and "Hail Mary's" ricocheted off the curved ceiling and around the purple-covered statues. Rosary beads clicked together, bringing images to our young minds of bones in a shadow-infested graveyard.

It wasn't so much that we gave up candy, although we did. It wasn't so much that we spent more time in church, although we did. It wasn't so much that we stayed away from meat every day, not just on Friday, although we did. It was the combination of those things. A grayness that spread from the spot of ashes on our foreheads, and enveloped us with the sober knowledge that we had something to atone for.

And then, it was Easter. The covers came off the statues, flowers were everywhere, music filled every corner and there wasn't a shadow to be found. The priests wore white and gold, and everybody sang. There was joy in our new suits and shoes, in Mom's new dress and hat, in the big feast at home after Mass with all the relatives seated at the big wooden table.

We didn't just observe the season. We felt it. The somber days of Lent gave the celebration of Easter its true meaning for us. The meaning you can't put down on a piece of paper. The meaning that you hold inside your heart.

Those days were years ago, and things have changed a lot in the interim. That big church is closed now, and up for sale. They haven't prayed in Latin for a long time. I'm far removed in years and miles from old St. Francis Church. The nuns are gone, the priests are gone. The parish is gone.

Still, it hasn't disappeared completely. For some reason it came back to me tonight.

I wish you all a truly Happy Easter.

Blog at ya later,

Friday, April 10, 2009

First Quarter Report Card...Barack & company

So our new president is traveling these days, talking about the economy and relationships with other governments and pizza. I heard on a radio talk show today that a British news organization reported that the president (or his minions) had a pizza chef flown to England, along with his materials and business partner, to cater a lunch. OK, so maybe that's considered the proper way to impress a foreign power when you're out there "building relationships", or whatever Obama's doing right now. But it seems a little arrogant. A lot of what's gone on since he took office seems a little arrogant.

After all, he's told us in no uncertain terms that we all have to tighten our belts. People lose their jobs in droves, and Obama says it will get worse before it gets better; oh, and by the way how do you like Michelle's new dress, and the kids' new swing set? And let's order a pizza chef to fly over from the US to Europe so we can all have lunch.

That kind of thing used to be known as "conspicuous consumption". It was something rich people, usually newly rich people, did to brag without words about how much they had. It was intended to make others jealous, and it worked.

Well, Obama is newly powerful...and he wants his piece of Camelot. And I guess he's got it. The problem is with what we haven't gotten. Like a leaner, more responsible administration. Remember that?

I don't think he's done anything to make those massive changes in the way things are done in Washington. Cooperation? Bi-partisan effort? Remember that?

Remember how we were going to get a fresh, transparent administration, and cooperation across party lines? I don't see that happening.

I see a lot of posturing. I see overblown, phony outrage over bonuses paid to inept executives instead of substantial economic policy changes to make things better. (oops, did I just complain about a lack of substance? Is that politically incorrect? Should I just sit down and admire the speech maker's craft?)

I see the blame game, and the usual gullible reaction from the public. Scapegoats in the corporate world, and pressure from the government to fire the scapegoats. Tax their bonuses at 90%.* That's supposed to make it all better.

Fluff and arrogance. And complete disdain for ordinary, hard-working Americans. The government graciously takes a few dollars less out of the paychecks of those who still have jobs, and this is supposed to be our part of the "economic stimulus".

Where are the major investments in things like alternative energy? Where are the big projects that are supposed to create all those jobs so families can make it though this government-sponsored mess?

Where's all that help for education, so precious to the Obama campaign, as hundreds of teachers get their pink slips under the Obama administration?

Yes we can.

But we don't really want to, do we?

First Quarter Grade, C-
-Needs to improve

OK that's my rant for today. All vented.
Blog at ya later,

*What a great idea That is! Our legislators are always thinking, aren't they? "We'll scream bloody murder, then tax those bonuses and put the money where it the government. What, return it to taxpayers? Good one! Hahahahahah!"

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Chopper Malfunction

Today I am doing a visual blog. It will be really short, because the pain pills are starting to kick in.
Blog at ya later, with more enthusiasm.

PS..that guy doesn't look like me; he just looks like I feel.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Time To Play

I just found a bunch of new (to me, 'cause I'm not very observant) buttons on my blog posting today I'm going to try them out:
  • there are bullets
...and a tab to make the text different colors.
It has a button for spleelll chrkning
  1. one for numbers (but for some reason it looks just like a bullet)
and one to insert pictures...I've used this one several times before, but it never really gets old, so...

Here's Proof You Can Find Just About Anything On The Internet:

You may have noticed I used yet another feature there by changing the size of the font...

There's also a feature for adding videos, but I don't have any on my computer right now because (see yesterday's blog).

There are a few other buttons that scare me a little, so I'm going to quit before another hard drive bites the dust....

Well, OK, just one more:


Blog at ya later,

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Here's My Excuse

I'm hoping this attempt to post a blog will be more successful than my last effort. When I sat down to carry on with my one-daily blog for the month, the hard drive in my computer decided that three years was long enough, and promptly crashed, and burned:

What was unfortunate was the fact that this particular blog would have been a genuine masterpiece. (It was also unfortunate that I was unable to preserve my perfect record of a blog a day. But I think it's a sufficient excuse to let me continue I'm going to continue.)

What was fortunate about the situation was the presence of a genuine Geek in the family, who was able to come out to the rig, and tell us that our hard drive had crashed, and help us install a new one. (Which we did, taking up a day and evening.) Now the effort to recover what was on the crashed drive continues, in the capable hands of our family Geek.

At the same time our computer was crashing, there was this hissing noise from somewhere under the refrigerator, and things like the hall carpet mysteriously started getting wet. Yes friends, the appliances were in full revenge mode again. (See previous posts circa Christmas '08):

We did manage to spot the trouble this seems the water heater had sprung a leak at its intake valve, always a fun prospect...and the perfect opportunity to cut off the water supply to the entire rig and not wash for a couple of days.
So, today, after the leak had been fixed, I had a couple of other things to take care of before resuming my blogification...

Like the dishes:

...And the other stuff I couldn't find generic pictures for on the internet. (any ACTUAL pictures I might have of the rig are still in recovery mode, as you may recall from earlier in this tomb.)

Anyway, I'm back and happily at it again, and the 30 days of April proceed apace. (That piece of utterly overblown phraseology is the only remaining vestige of the "masterpiece" mentioned earlier.)

Blog at ya later,

Friday, April 3, 2009

Cat Duty

I’m about to brave evening traffic, sans Tom-Tom, for the sake of three cats who pretty much tolerate my services. I am allowed to clean the litter box, check the water, and replenish the food, provided I do it discreetly. You might think this is a bit much to put up with…but there are some good reasons to get behind the wheel and brave the streets of Tucson. To wit:
  • The cats belong to my temporarily absent son, who owns a big screen TV and lots of movies.
  • I am obligated, by reason of long-term marriage, to get the laundry done by a Yarntangler-imposed deadline.
  • I am shamelessly borrowing my son and daughter-in-law’s nice new washer and dryer.
  • Those appliances and the aforementioned TV can operate simultaneously.

So, off we go; me and the laundry headed across town with the setting sun in my eyes and the Tucson work force driving home with a vengeance. I try to imagine the GPS in its spot on the windshield, and the little female voice telling me to take the Interstate “Toward El Pahsaw”.

Eventually I make it to the house. Their Royal Highnesses are sprawled with their accustomed aplomb, and giving me the “Oh, are you here again?” look. I get the litter box cleaned, and check the food, and they grant silent, though reluctant, approval.

I smile to myself, start the laundry, and head for the living room, where the sequel to my guilty pleasure Special-Effects Fest awaits.

Time passes, my son comes home and we put on an extra movie, and eventually I make it back to the rig, and find…

…I have exactly fifteen minutes to get my blog posted for today, or forever live with the shame of not making it through day 3 of the April challenge. So, with no further ado, I present today’s blog:
(see above)

Blog at ya later,

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Getting Around in Spite of Myself

Since moving into the city this week, I’ve been doing a little more driving in traffic than I care to. I’m not a big fan of multiple lanes, and fast-moving streams of rival vehicles within inches of me as I try to pick my way over an unfamiliar route.

Modern technology came to my aid up until this week, and I guess I got a little spoiled. My son let me borrow his Tom-Tom, which tells you how to get around, turn by turn. It even gives you a heads-up on which direction you’ll be turning next, so you can change lanes before your fellow travelers spot your out-of-state plate, and lock you out. We also enjoy the sexy female voice’s often wretched attempt to pronounce street names.

Unfortunately for me, my son took the Tom-Tom with him on a recent trip, so now I’m back to the old Chamber of Commerce map (very creative and entertaining, but missing a few thousand crucial details).

Later this week, I’ll probably discuss driving in Tucson a bit more, but for today, I’ll just say I miss the Tom-Tom. I’ll also talk about my son’s cats, with whose maintenance I have been entrusted, my son’s extensive collection of movies, and the relationship between the two. For now, I’ll just say that I have not seen a street sign like this yet in Tucson:

…But given the ongoing improvements along Interstate 10, I expect to any time now.
Blog at ya later,

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Back for Another Month

Another month, another challenge. Yarntangler decided that things went so well in late 2008 with our 30 day blog challenge, we should do it again. So, here I am. The problem is, my brain's stuck in neutral at the moment, after not posting for a while. steps:

That's enough for today. First blog is in the history books.
Blog at ya later,