Sunday, February 28, 2016


I'd like Rubio to get the Republican nomination.  I doubt he will.  The radicals won't like him, and they have the keys to the Republicans' car. 

Of the remaining two, I'd prefer Trump, because if Cruz gets the nomination, he could fire up the conservatives enough to actually win.  At which point, liberals and conservatives alike, we're all screwed.

I still prefer Sanders, though, of all of them.

Saturday, February 27, 2016


" We Can't Be the Stupid Country Anymore. " -  Trump

Well, voting for him would certainly secure that distinction for us.  

Not that he's entirely wrong -- we can't assume that the world is going to do the right thing -- if it did, Sanders would be in a much stronger position, and Trump would be hawking newspapers on a streetcorner.   We have to see the world clearly, as it is, not as we want it to be.  We have to push forward, against a lot of obstacles.  We won't always win.  But we can make progress.  

Having him even running is as strong a vote for stupidity,  and against progress, as I can think of,  at the moment.  But we like stupidity, right? Keeps us docile.

Thursday, February 25, 2016


I am once again scared for my country.  The demagogue Trump is doing so well in the political primaries, I find myself wondering if this is what it was like at the early rallies for the Nazis.  I really do.  He is a bigot and a racist, but he is also wily and smart (despite having some very stupid opinions and having said some very stupid things; astonishingly, people feel that this makes him trustworthy - he "says exactly what he thinks"), and he is good at playing negotiation games.  He actually said that he could kill someone on a crowded street and it would not affect his standing with his supporters.  Now tell me that that isn't something that Hitler could have said.

And even if Trump does not get the nomination (which he seems very likely to do), the other two contenders on that side are bad -- well, one of them, Ted Cruz, is; he's superbright and he wants to drag the US back to the 1950s, when it was a 'Christian nation' and where, by god (figuratively and literally), foreigners knew to be afraid of us. The other, Marco Rubio, isn't as bad, but in this environment, that means that he isn't doing as well, either.

Society doesn't seem to reward being reasonable any more.


My daughter has a lot of cosmetics.

She's in the Corps of Cadets at her college, so she's limited in what she is allowed to wear, and when she can do as she wishes, she doesn't wear a lot.  When she was a teen, and I would see other teen age girls, I admired that about her.  They sometimes looked like clowns in training, whereas I frequently could not tell that she had any on, even when I knew that she did.

She called today and asked if I could mail her a specific item,  and I said sure.

It was not in the stack of cosmetics on her bureau.
It was not in the stack of cosmetics in her bathroom.
It was not in the stack of cosmetics next to the TV.
It was not in the stack of cosmetics next to the fireplace.
It was not in the stack of cosmetics on the coffee table.

To be fair, only one of those is a massive stack.  Some are just five or six things.  Still, she seemed surprised that I could not find the lip crayon.  Excuse me, the Revlon Color Stay Just Bitten Balm Stain.  So I bought her one and mailed it to her, along with something else that she'd asked for. Based on the price that I paid,  I now know why Charles Revson was wealthy.

Next time, I'm mailing her an actual crayon.  What the heck, the 64 pack, with the sharpener. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016


Basically, I think that any current Democratic presidential candidate is better than any current Republican presidential candidate.  I can't imagine either of them having flaws as heinous as those of the Republican candidates.

And yet, and yet....  there are people willing and eager to vote for the Republicans.

Sunday, February 21, 2016


I had no idea that there were actual companies -- small but viable -- who sell PCs which are guaranteed not to have bloatware on them.  A search for "windows 10 no crapware" showed me that I was wrong.  The selection isn't as good, but man, the idea of getting just the tools, none of the ads?  Thats worth a lot.  (As I found when I had to reinstall Windows and discovered to my surprise how much software with the name Lenovo went away....)

Saturday, February 20, 2016


We're willing to do things to help others - send money to migrant relief foundations, for example -- but not a lot, and not often.  The pool of our compassion can be deep, but it refills slowly.

But when helping affects us -- when it is possible that one of a hundred refugees clamoring for entry into our country is in fact a terrorist who might hurt us -- then the immediate question is our safety.  Those others -- well, they were poor and likely to die anyway. And even if we're pretty sure that they are as they seem, our resources get drained quickly.  And somehow that country's problem, which we can easily live with, becomes our country's problem.  Thats not something we can handle.  We feel aggrieved.

Its been a long time since we offered to house those yearning to breathe free.  Somehow, its a lot more dangerous these days.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


Last night, I dreamed about computer performance.

For part of the time that I worked at one company, I was in their 'performance' group.  I was supposed to make the computer run as quickly as possible.  The faster the computer ran, the more work that it did per minute, which meant they were able to charge the customer more per minute, which meant more profit to the company.

I never really felt that I was good at it.  I understood the general idea, but somehow I never was able to translate the idea into practical terms. 

For example, I knew that when you press enter on your keyboard (to do something at an ATM, say, or to make a move in a computer game, or to write an email), the computer had to start a program which would do what you wanted.  Doing what you wanted at the ATM might mean telling the bank to transfer money from one account to another, or making a move in a computer game might mean taking the character on the screen and moving it two inches, or writing an email might mean taking the text that you had written and sending it to someone else.   Each of those actions would have smaller steps that had to happen - for example, telling the bank to transfer money from one account to another would mean confirming your identity, then reading a file to find out what your bank account information was, then determining if you had enough money so that it could be transferred, and so on.  Each of those steps breaks down further.  The fewer of those steps that you can do, and the faster that you can do the ones that you need to do, the faster the computer can do work - it ran faster.

I dreamt that I was still working at that company, and someone asked me to set it up so that he could keep track of how often a specific problem occurred.  I knew we used a specific form for that.  I looked for the form, but we had no more.  A coworker told me that I would have to print more, but when I went to print them, the printer had controls that I did not understand, so that after four hours, I had wasted a lot of paper and still did not have what that guy needed.  About that time, he saw me and asked what I was doing.  When I told him, he expressed astonishment, saying, but I didn't want the paper form?  Why would I want that? Its just a waste of paper.  And in thirty seconds he told the computer to start keeping track of what he wanted to know, and to alert him when it became a problem.  Done.

I was stunned.  I have to remember this, I thought. Someone else might want to be able to do that.  And then ten minutes later, I tried to remember what he had done....  and I could not.

I'm a smart guy, but I don't think that I was an effectual guy. And up to today, the difference never occurred to me. 

At least, I don't think so.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


I got a request from a French girl I know -- not a conversation partner, but a friend -- to see if I could help her get the word out that she's looking for a job.  Things continue to be tough in France -- the most recent unemployent rate is about 10.6 percent -- and she's been looking for at least a year. 

Of course I said I would -- I sent notes to four or five French people I know, none of whom work in her desired field (import/export), but all of whom said sure, they'd look at her resume, and if it rang any bells, or if they knew of anyone who'd be interested, they'd pass it on.

It reminded me of a comment that my daughter made to me not too long ago, asking why there wasn't a national database of available jobs, or at least a way of evaluating your skills and desires against jobs that were currently filled.  It seems like everyone has some kind of evaluation criteria, and everyone has suggestions, but when it comes right down to it -- the only consistent comment is network.  Get the resume out there.  Spread it all over the place.

If you happen to know of anyone who needs an eager 22 year old who's fluent in French, competent in English, speaks a little Mandarin, and has been an intern in China..... drop me a line.


Saturday, February 13, 2016


Complained to Verizon about erratic email performance.  They assured me that it would improve very soon.

Yes, its because of email upgradation only and it will be there for 3 to 4 days more as whole email client user intersection is changing to make it much more easier for our customers

It is our responsibility to serve Verizon's esteemed customers like you in the best possible way. 

Upgradation, huh?  Intersection? Why don't I believe them?

Thursday, February 11, 2016


When I worked for IBM, they gave me a Lenovo laptop.  My impression was that it was a tough, solid piece of hardware.  I liked it, to the point where, having need of a new home laptop, years later, I bought one.  This was after IBM no longer made them, having sold the brand to a Chinese company.  This laptop still had the cute little almost-useless track-pointer set down between the G, H, and B keys; still had the bold THINKPAD logo.  I liked it.

This may be news, but laptops tend to get moved around.  And since they don't come with handles, they tend to get grabbed by the edge. 

It turns out that there is a microswitch inside the Thinkpad -- specifically, the Yoga 14 Thinkpad -- along the front edge, that is intended to warn the PC if it is under abnornal stress - the kind that can cause a head crash on the drive.  If the microswitch gets depressed, it will immediately cut power to the spinning hard drive, protecting it.  As a side note, it shuts down the PC, too.

My Thinkpad creaks and flexes.  And every so often, I squeeze it at just the right spot....

Friday, February 05, 2016


The other day, my daughter informed me that she was doing some serious budgeting for her upcoming trip to Florida (Disney cruise), and the long and short of it was that she needed funds.  She said I don't want to sound like the classic kid who says Oh, I'll just ask my parents for the money.  I assured her that she was not, and that I thought she had a good grasp of financial essentials.

As if to nail that one down, she called today and said Hey, I got this call, they said it was someone's fraud analysis department, and they wanted to know about this charge on your credit card for a hotel in Florida?  Well, as it happens, she does have access to my card, but she had not ordered anything -- so I called the credit card people and said hey, this isn''t valid, we object....and while I was talking, I noticed another charge on the card, for food from Jimmy Johns! So we objected to that, too.  I made sure to tell my daughter that she'd done exactly the right thing in her reaction to that call.

Odd, though.  I have one of the new credit cards -- the ones with a chip, but without a PIN?  Who would have guessed that the lack of a PIN might mean that someone could still hijack the card?  Clearly, not the people who issued my card!

(Though I do wonder -- how do you keep a card secure if its being used online? )


I'm in the last stages of restoring my PC after it died (specifically, went into a 'reboot loop'.  I am sure that Microsoft does some amazing things, making them look easy, but 'system restores' don't appear to be in that category.)  I do regular backups, and yet I still find that there were things I did not have -- for example, a current set of email addresses for my friends.  Not to mention, emails I sent, emails I saved.  Totally gone.

Software guys like to stash stuff in obscure places.  Their favorite is the APPDATA folder (which is, by the way, a hidden system folder; you have to say SHOW before you can see it and its contents), but there are others.  The data file for a database I use to keep track of stray info (Personal Knowbase; its really quite good) likes to put its file in one place but then stick a 'fake' file somewhere else, so that when you go to copy it -- there's nothing there!  And Calendarscope, my PC calender (also highly recommended); you can tell it to back up routinely, and it will - at the end of the day. But suppose you make a change at 2PM and you crash at 3PM - is that change saved anywhere?  Don't be silly.

Argh.  I would ask that software designers include backup and restore functions (other than the simple ones that many do have), but that'd get into the well, where shall we hide it, what shall we call it, hmm, do we really want to users to be able to get to it discussion.

And don't get me started on Window's 10s System File function, which LOOKS awesome and WORKS .... almost not at all. 

So, for anyone who is interested, here is my current list of backup actions I have to take routinely.  You will notice that some are incomplete -- I know I have to do them; I just don't.  At least, I am not sure.  Its all confusing, and thinking about it hurts my head.

Any software with a key goes into KNOWBASE/Software Licence Keys
Any friends email address goes into OUR EXCEL FILES / ADDRDB spreadsheet
Firefox bookmarks go into BILLS FILES/FIREFOX BOOKMARKS
BILLS FILES gets copied as part of overall data grab 
Thunderbird emails, folders, email addresses, profiles, message classification  rules go to ??????????

Oh, and my Network Attached Storage device?  The My Cloud?  Its really quite nice, but every so often....Windows says NAS?  What NAS? NETWORK PATH NOT FOUND.  A few minutes later oh, there it is!

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

This is why French flummoxes me

This is a headline from the French version of Slate:

La démocratie américaine a encore beaucoup à nous apprendre

Translated directly, it is
The democracy american has still a lot to us to teach.

Or as we would say
American democracy still has a lot to teach us.

Took me five minutes to translate that one bitty sentence.....

And so....

Hillary will say I won.  And she did.

Bernie will say Close enough! And it was.  But not a win.

Cruz will say See, they all love me.  But they don't.  Yet.

And Trump will say It doesn't matter, I'm going on.  And he will.  And on, and on.

Ain't politics fun?

Monday, February 01, 2016


I usually don't mind Windows 10.  But when I say yeah, do a system restore back to before your last critical update,  and Windows replies Oh yeah?  Well eat this -- REBOOT LOOP ERROR, so that I have to completely reinstall Windows (easy to do, since the PC has a Recovery Partition, though why it felt it necessary to throw away parts or all of several applications, I have no idea) -- well, then, I'm not too fond of it.  Good thing I am retired, with lots of spare time.

As it turns out, having to reinstall windows is a (relatively) painless way of updating the applications that you use... and trashing the ones you don't. Still would not recommend it as a fun time activity, though.

And for those people who say that you don't really need a CD copy of the software, because hey, you can just download it, right?  -- just about everything went right back in *except* the one that was acquired via streaming download. I'll probably end up buying it again. (It's Quicken, whose idea of customer service leaves a lot to be desired.) So, yeah. You need the CD.