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September 1, 2011

Yesterday's Hero

Doc Savage by Baum
Click images for desktop size: "Doc Savage-Man Of Bronze" by Baum
I bought a Switch on Woot. Cost two bucks. I got it because I needed extra Ethernet connections. Wireless N does't always cut it for streaming movies. Hard wired connections always seem to work.Kiss Me Quick So right now I've got seven connections.
It's worse with my USB. I've got a powered hub with 10 ports and they're all filled. So is my FireWire port.
I need a new computer.
I want to go post-PC, surviving with my iPod and my hacked nook but there are still a few jobs I need a desktop for.
I wanted to get it next paycheck but I want my puppy to get some bloodwork done.
My puppy and my trophy wife are more important than a computer.


April 17, 2011

Since you've been gone my guitar won't stay in tune
The Lolas

Airplane by unknown
Click images for desktop size: "Airplane" by Unknown
The world is in bad trouble. In the USA we've got a President who promised change but then turned in to George H Bush. In the mid-west we've got loonies hiding under the name of reverend going House of Whipcord around burning books that results in people getting killed and nobody condemns him or threatens to shoot him because he's against women having a choice, I guess that makes him alright.
Its dark and getting darker for the world: Climate change, the price of oil, the destruction of innovation by the lying politicians and their cold eyed assassins.
There's no way out so long as the poor, the middle class, the children and the puppies are the only ones getting hurt.
The National Visa Center sent me a letter today telling me that we'd been approved to proceed with our application. The sort of statement that makes sense only to government workers and bureaucrats of the 7th circle. The main point of it all seemed to be that I had to send them more money.
My puppy's annual physical is on Saturday. She should be fine. I plan to take photos. Since the separation from my wife (due to governments not personalities) I haven't been taking pictures like I'm used to. I keep trying to get enthused about it again but it's a hard go.
I remembered taking pictures when my puppy and I watched a fight between a crow and a squirrel. It was very interesting. And then about 1o minutes later we saw an opossum cross a busy street in front of us. It went hhhhhhh at us and didn't even attempt to fool us into thinking it was dead. We chaperoned it across the street but it was as ungrateful as it was ugly.
Yes, I wanted to take pictures of an animal fight and of something ugly. I think people would have liked them.
In the face of all this cataclysm and personality the only safe thing to do is think about and over analyze the trivial.

AppleTV vs WDTV Live



The first thing you have to understand is that the DVD is dead tech. The BluRay disk will be following it soon.
The future and now are media files: H264 mp4's and mkv's. They do to movies what mp3's, aac and Hawaiian Girls by Chris Sanders
Click images for desktop size: "Hawaiian Girl's Progress" by Chris Sanders
flac have done to music. And it's all a good thing no matter what the old fogies at the MPAA and the RAIA have convinced Obama and any other cash hungry government man.
With the means of production and now distribution falling into the hands of the creators there's a nice little well spring of music and books starting to flood over us, most poor but many good and a few great. All pretty much distinguished by the fact that without the new method of distribution we'd never have heard of them or been given a chance to decide what we love or hate.
Of course the people who are used to telling us what we like hate that. Choice sucks when you're intent on propagating mediocrity.
Mp3's were getting huge but it was the iPod, the hardware that pushed them to the top. And now there are plenty of cheap media players for video, all that scream to take me from the computer screen to the big screen, the screen in the living room. The first one I became aware of was the AppleTV 1. It was a sleek small silver box with a smallish hard drive. It was also totally cool evenAbducted Bride with its heavy heavy limitations and shortcomings.
I got a Western Digital WDTV Live because I liked their drives, the WDTV can read multiple HD formats and not just the usual Windows litany and I got it on sale for about $80. It addresses a lot of the AppleTV's shortcomings quite nicely. I can attach an external hard drive for unlimited storage and it can play almost anything, whereas the AppleTV only plays mp4 and then it has to be in iTunes.
The WDTV gui is ugly. It can be fixed and fiddled and be made to be more attractive but that doesn't change it's basic homeliness. It works alright though and that means something. The AppleTV gui is beautiful and well thought out. It is graceful and simple minded to comprehend.
I got an AppleTV 2 for my wife. It is even simpler than the 1 and smaller, lighter and fool proof to Sarah Walks by Marvel Comics
Click images for desktop size: "Sarah Walks" by Marvel Comics
install and run. More than it just works, it is just there.
The AppleTV is fun. The interface has enough things to do that you always feel you're onto some secret discoveries. With the addition of the, to me worthless, MLB and NBA channels and the potent addition of Netflix it really has become a full on entertainment center.
Netflix needs a digression. With it's new commitment to streaming only Netflix has become the first preview of all our entertainment in the cloud. The selection is pretty much like what you'd find in a popular video store just before closing on a Saturday night. It's all old movies and stuff you'd normally avoid. To me that's okay. I like that stuff.
If you want something more current there is, just two clicks away, the iTunes store with pricier rentals.
With the inclusion of podcasts, your own video libraries and music libraries you can fill up months of time and with a $99 MSRP what could any one complain about?
One caveat: The sound on the music is not as deep or full as the sound from most iPod docks. Most receivers have some sort of Compressed Music sound enhancement. Apple has long eschewed that. Big Foot It can be adjusted with some receiver based EQ but why?
The WDTV is not as much fun. In recent firmware upgrades it has added Flingo and Mediafly as a source of online media. It also has Facebook integration, although I've never gotten that to work so I can't comment. Facebook is not something I care about anyway.
Where the WDTV beats the AppleTV is all tech stuff. It will output 1080p as opposed to the 720p limitation put on by Apple. The WDTV will play anything. I've yet to find something it couldn't play, including camera mts files. AppleTV 2 will play only mp4's with H264 or X264 video encoding. It will finally handle High Profile encoding and CABAC encoded files but that is it.
The WDTV plays MKV files flawlessly and does a good job of steaming DTS sound. For me the DTS soundtrack is more important than the 1080p playback.
The WDTV also handles attached drives, so if you save your movies and music on an external drive it is nothing to attach the drives to your WDTV and have instant access to 2 TB of media. (And the WDTV is the only media player out there that can access any format on the drive - most demand the archaic Windows solutions for morons - a few European ones will allow Linus formats but that's about it.)
Apple still demands that you can only access movies stored on your computer and within iTunes. This keeps things simple but it is seriously limiting. (Even if its financial and designed to slow down piracy or reassure Apple's content providers it is a cheat to the consumer.)
The WDTV plays music well but it does not play the whacky Apple Lossless codec, while it handles FLAC just fine. Conversely the AppleTV plays Apple Lossless just fine but just ignores FLAC. FLAC is Virtual Girl by unknown
Click images for desktop size: "Virtual Girl" by Unknown
by far the superior codec.
I have 110 gigs of music so I actually like iTunes integration for various mundane and personal reasons. Hence I don't use the WDTV for music listening, preferring to use my receiver's iPod dock.
I like that I have access to my WDTV and my wife's AppleTV 2. If I had to choose I would have no problem saying goodbye to the AppleTV. The WDTV tries to be user friendly but it isn't. Still it makes more important things available to me. That no one else can easily access these things doesn't bother me much.
The AppleTV is fun and easy to use like an expert with nil effort. I could live with it easily if there was nothing else available.

I miss comments. I like hearing from people. Spam is still an ugly problem but in the near future I'm going to open them up again. Movable Type has improved their security again and I have hopes that it will sort the mess out. I still have over 300 malicious (spammer, hacker) hits an hour.

September 9, 2009

This is no way to treat a superstar

Truck in Field
Click images for desktop size: "Truck in Field" by Unknown
My puppy is back with me.
The first thing she did when she saw me was to try and bite me.Cinderella 2000
She acted like she was afraid of me. For nearly 5 minutes she ran from me and tried to hide behind others.
This hurt. It hurt a lot.
She's never been afraid of me before.
She got over being fearful and she became angry. That I expected. She poked me and vocalized.
Then I war permitted to scratch her butt. After a moment of that she was suddenly glad to see me. We became inseparable again.
She slept on the bed. She was an exhausted puppy. She would sleep, then wake up and stare at me long and searching before flopping her head back down to sleep.
She was far too tired. It came time for me to go to work. I didn't want to go, but if I didn't go in, I wouldn't get paid. It's that cruddy a job.
I spent the night at work at a low level of stress. I kept worrying about my puppy. I spent hours pondering why she had acted so fearfully. It still hurts and bothers me. In all my nightmares I never imagined my puppy being afraid of me. Being bossy and angry with me are fairly normal, but she'd never been afraid of me, not even afraid to be wrong. I was the one she ran to when she was afraid. For the first time I was questioning whether my puppy and I belonged together. Whether I'd made a mistake and pulled her from someplace where she was happier and better off.
It put a light veil over the joy of our being reunited.
I rushed home. She was waiting for me at the front door. We went for a walk. She was pretty normal, the puppy I know and love. She headed for her old hangout, the corner that leads to the football stadium and the hospital. She loved coaching football. She loves being a doctor dog.
I was going to walk her past there when her grandparents, who had delivered her, drove by. They were coming for us to go to breakfast.
A Vampires Rage by Titusboy
Click images for desktop size: "A Vampire's Rage" by Titusboy
We went to the old school Southern diner. Good food. Better getting to spend some time with people who raised my puppy, it was better getting to know them better.
I got home. My puppy greeted me enthusiastically. When her grandparents went to leave she paid no attention to them, instead she stayed close to me, barely acknowledging them.
She said goodbye to them and then started to play with me.
We were playing with her Kong. My puppy gets so ecstatic and full of herself when she gets me to chase her. Suddenly the neighbor appeared. He's the wannabe drummer.
He shocked me. He told me that after I left for work my puppy howled for hours!
My puppy hadn't cried since she was about 4 months old.This distressed me. I didn't understand whether she was howling because she was alone, missing me or missing her temporary life, the life she'd just left, and the life that the two of us had to abandon.
I thanked the guy for telling me and apologized if she had disturbed him, but then he went on until IChampion realized he was squawking. When he said that her crying had disturbed his FIVE cats sleep I started to feel angry.
There was no place for the anger so I let it go. But I remember the people who worry more about their petty comfort and value that more than the obvious distress of an animal. I can be polite but if he asks me for help with his music or playing again I'm going to politely refuse.
A dogs howl is more mournful than a human's. For a dog it is the only George Chikharis
Click images for desktop size: "George Chikharis"
tool they have. Its is beautiful and profound. It contains their soul and expresses their fears, their heartbreak and their pleas. To not feel compassion for something that is so instinctively well crafted and full of nothing but sincerity is something I can't understand. To not be moved and compassionate forces me to harden my heart.
I've never met anyone who could ignore the distress of an animal who would understand much of anything else, including themselves. I'd listened to him moaning about his girlfriend leaving him. And I listened to him whinge about not being able to meet anyone. Know at least I knew why. It also explained the lack of passion in his drumming. It didn't explain why he couldn't keep the beat. Listening to him once I realized he doesn't count. (Drummer pun)
My housemate came home from the Labor Day weekend; I figured he'd be enough company for her that my puppy wouldn't cry. That didn't work.
She started to howl her wolf like cry of despair. SInce she's a good girl she stopped as soon as my housemate spoke to her. But she howled twice.
She met me at the door and was all excited. She remembers where she is. There was a dog whom The Challenge by Charles Marion
Click images for desktop size: "The Challenge" by Charles Marion
she used to play with. It passed away last Thanksgiving. When we got to the house she lunged to see her old friend.
She kept close to me all day. She slept on the bed with me, and tried hard to push me off. She woke me to feed her. That night she only cried for me once. I remember my vet talking about the howling. She said it was mixed emotions because the dog looked so beautiful when it howled but you knew that the howl meant its heart was breaking.
Wednesday was the date of my first physical therapy appointment. It was scheduled for 2, with the car (in some circles I'm considered disabled) picking me up at 1. I needed to sleep yet my puppy was so overjoyed to see me; she was full of jokes and wiggle butt merriment.
She'd howled during the night but only the once and only about half an hour after I'd left. I think she was beginning to believe that I would come home to her.
We played and got about 30 minutes of sleep. At least that's all I got, she was pleased when I got upCorruption so she could take over the bed.
We stood outside the house together and waited for the car. She loved just standing outside with me. She loved it so much there was no protesting when the car pulled up and I had to leave her in the house.
The Physical Therapist was good, very good. Which means I'm hating him.
There are three main ligaments in the shoulder. Because of my frozen shoulder they have all shortened, the biceps and triceps have atrophied. Before we can work on the shoulder I have to lengthen the ligaments. They are so short that one of them is locked solid and can't be worked until I get some motion in the other two.
The PT pointed out that I kept my right arm too well guarded. I never relaxed it, clearly for some months. When I told him it had been bad since about April he was shocked. He wondered how I can stand that much pain for so long.
He gave me four exercises I could do They hurt and are embarrassingly simple.
I was dippy from very little sleep when I went into work that evening. But I was fine when I heard my puppy had not howled all evening.
I was starting to feel better about her being with me. I had doubts. Not about how much I needed her but doubts about whether she needed me. If she wouldn't have been happier where we used to be or where she used to be.
The doubts are dissipating more and more as we walk around and are together. I've seen that she is also initially distrustful of people she has known but then she also warms up to them in exactly the old way, but there is that moment of confusion that people feel. It wasn't as intense and there's no Waiting for Spring by Elena Savitskaya
Click images for desktop size: "Waiting for Spring" by Elena Savitskaya
anger in her but she seems to feel a need to reintroduce herself.
Its like when I ask her if she wants to go outside to go to the bathroom or just to play. She works so hard to understand me and she considers her answer. And she always tells me the truth. It's a part of the trust between us. It's a part of the love we have for each other.
She loves her kong and when she gets me to chase her for it she nearly explodes with giddy joy. I watch her play with others and there is fun but there's not that sense of being tickled to near endurance breaking levels.
We still bicker. We still argue but we do so in the sense that no matter what the anger there's no chance of it impinging on our love for each other.
She is my dog and I am her boy.
I got paid today. I'm already broke. But I'll get through till next payday.
My puppy's aunt sent somethings along with her, including a bed my puppy sometimes uses andColossus of Rhodes some toys which she ignores and food which my puppy always demands. There were also some things for me. A cool Silver Surfer T-Shirt I'm wearing now.
Today was also the second visit to the physical therapist. This one was rough. 45 minutes of having my arm manipulated. I still find it near impossible to relax the arm, this is causing some nasty bad cramping in my neck and collarbone. The manipulation heightened some of that but it also relieved the numbness in my hand.
It hurt and left me very sore but I get out of doing the painful exercises, at least for the day. I also noted I can raise my arm a good two inches higher than I could three days ago. Small but important and encouraging.
Tomorrow I have to take my puppy to see the vet to get a booster rabies shot. What a waste of time and money. Her original vaccine of only 4 months ago is made by the same American company that is approved here but because it was done out of state, not out of country, they do not recognize it. I've tried to understand. Rabies is a problem here. Its found often in raccoons and in bats(!). But this just seems stupid. No one disagrees but the government . . . I have to get her licensed so we Night Man An Wolverine
Click image: "Nightman and Wolverine" by Marvel Comics
can get out permit to use the dog parks!
I continue to be disappointed in Snow Leopard, the new OS for the Mac. There are numerous benefits but they seem piddling to the issue with icons. For the most gorgeous interface imaginable for Apple to continue to ignore the loud complaint that the 512 pixel icons (why do you need such huge icons) suddenly vanish and that the older 128 pixel and 256 pixel icons look horrid, like a 1 inch jpeg blown up to bill board size, is inexcusable.
I always remember when Macs were a cult item. We accepted Apple's mistake calmly and with the knowledge they'd be addressed rapidly. Now that they are merely an iPod factory (Even though I still want an iPod Touch!) I am pretty disgusted with this. It is far too similar to the buggy junk that Microsoft foists on people who think they have no other choice.

August 29, 2009

One thing I never will forget is the beauty of a friendship that's not ended yet
Roger McGuinn

High Life
Click images for desktop size: "High Life" by Unknown
It was my birthday up until a few minutes ago.
It didn't seem to mean much. Thanks to the people who remembered.48 hours1xs.jpg
My sole celebration was to go to the Chinese Buffet. It was better in my memory than in reality. Probably its just the world of memory. And not having a puppy to filch tidbits for.
I still rather enjoyed it but in a softer way than I usually enjoy these things.
I was tired. Had to run around a bit and get my shoulder x-rays. I finally got an appointment with an orthopedist. For Monday. It's a bit Doris Day
Click images for desktop size: "Doris Day"
dull that I have to hand carry my x-rays in. I got to look at them at least. I can't tell a thing, other than it's my shoulder for sure.
Other cause for birthday celebrations was I got my first pay check. It was at least 8 hours short, 8 hours that should have been overtime. I didn't want to talk to the boss about it until I'd studied and confirmed the figures. It will have to wait until the next paycheck anyway.
I got my new debit card but I have to go make the long trek to the bank to activate it. Probably do that tomorrow/today. I can't really touch the money until then. Even though it's a short check there's still enough to make a dent in my debts. That's important.
My friend has waived enough of the debt payment so I can get a new Apple keyboard. I hate having to buy it but the Logitech board is horrid to use. I hate the key feel but the monstrosity is that the keys are just small enough to force a ridiculous amount of typos. And whenever I type an A or hit tab, I also hit the Cap Lock . . . So it's frustrating.
The thing I did mostly on my birthday was play with Snow Leopard. the newest update to Mac OS X.
Back in the day an update to OS X was a sort of geeky thrill. Now that Apple has gotten so big and Life by Cole Phillips
Click images for desktop size: "Life Cover" by Cole Phillips
Microsoft continues to crumble its lacks the joy of participation.
There are a couple of things I like about Snow Leopard. Its faster and feels snappier. Too many of my standard daily apps don't work. A couple required upgrades but a couple are just dead. It also seems to have a problem burning to my external DVD Burner. Which is a stone drag.
But what I like the least is that way too many icons now look distorted and fuzzy! Like hell really. I can't figure out why. Some of the 128 px icons look fine, but others are a real mess, including some of the 256 px ones. Since OS X now permits 512 px icons this is annoying. Even stranger is that several of the pre-installed icons look terrible too. Disc Utility looks amazingly bad. It also crashed several times while trying to repair permissions. Creepy in a way I associate more with Windows than with Apple, which just goes to show how the two have grown closer in feel and philosophy.
Apple was better when it was a decided underdog, trying to appeal to the hardcore. iPods and Doomsday Special iPhones have pushed them into great wealth and success and then into tyranny and sloppiness.
The rest of the day was spent sleeping and dreaming of my puppy coming home to me. Hopefully next week. I'm on edge enough about this to need constant reassurance.
I miss my puppy. She's okay but chances are she misses me too.
My days have been filled with working nights while only managing to sleep 3 or 4 hours a day. I'm in a bit of a constant daze. Its endurable. I don't like the job at all and am sort of glad that they'll be moving at the end of September. Probably moving to a location that will be inaccessible to me.
I get asked questions.
About the girl who used a high speed grinder to make sparks fly from her body. No. I did not find that sexy. I did find it terribly cool.
It would have been the same if had been a guy up there 90% naked and touching tender body parts with power tools. I wouldn't have stared as hard at a naked guy but watching people potentially do great harm to themselves in the realm of entertainment is a rush that guys seem to enjoy.
Like I had a gay friend who got drunk and decided he wanted to get a tattoo on his rear end. He wanted a bunch of blue birds, hearts and flowers flying out of his rectum.
Whatever you think of that pales beside his decision to go to the Pike in Long Beach to do this. There are plenty of tattoo parlors on the Pike. If you don't know the Pike is a beat to death amusement park out on a pier. The area is filled with bikers, dock workers and hard drinkers. The tattoo parlors are not cute and cool artistic studios. They are old school and cater to the man who Still Life by Jan Lievens
Click images for desktop size: "Still Life" by Jan Lievens
wants his girl friends name tattooed on his chest or a naked mermaid tattooed on his bicep.
This was not the place that you would figure an effeminate set designer should be going. Of course I went along because I knew there would be trouble and none of the trouble would be my responsibility.
We got to the Pike and the set designer was sobering up. We stopped in a bar. Behind the bar was a low stage with a band where I knew the guitarist. it was a surprise meeting.
I told him what the set designer was planning to do as an explanation as to why I was in a sea front bar known for broken teeth and smashed skulls. He was there for $100 bucks a night, as the band was cheaper than replacing the juke box that invariably got busted during the nightly bar fight.
The guitarist tried to talk the set designer out of his plan. He explained it was dangerous and that none of the tattoo artists on the Pike would welcome his custom.
The set designer stood on his rights as a human being, which are true and accurate in a civilizedA Dog's Life society but this area really didn't respect individuals too well. People in the bar were already giving the set designer, who was sharply dressed, all 5' 6" of him and muttering some pretty nasty comments.
The guitarist implored the set designer to reconsider. This just made the set designer more trenchant and determined. So having done his best the guitarist joined us. he felt he deserved to see the fun after he'd worked so hard to do the right thing.
We started the search of tattoo parlors. As soon as the set designer described what he wanted to the bare chested men we were thrown out of their joints, usually with threats of violence.
I was impressed with the little guy. No matter how much the much larger, dangerous looking tattoo artists threatened and berated him he stood firm and talked about the stupidity of discrimination and his refusal to give up his right to have pretty birds, flowers and hearts tattooed around his rectum. I was also surprised that with all the yelling and swearing no one tried to punch us out.
Only one guy offered to do the job and I pulled the set designer out of there as it was obvious the guy was going to get him into a compromising position and then just hurt him.
Pin Up by JW McGinnis
Click images for desktop size: "Pin Up" by JW McGinnis
The set designer wouldn't give up. His insistence on walking into places that clearly wanted to hurt him was a lot of fun. Much better than TV.
The only negative was he finally did find a female artist willing to do the job. Since her work displayed was mainly of burning skulls and various devils I thought she might not be the one to render the set designers artistic vision. She spent a few hours doing the work. I went and listened to my friends band while I waited for him. (I drove so I had to.)
The negative was that the set designer made me inspect the finished product. The woman had seriously done her best but the work was crude. It wasn't artistic. The hearts looked like they should have been bleeding or had daggers shoved through them. The flowers were blobs and the blue birds looked like hawks. That and the fact that staring at guys naked butts is not a fave past time of mine was depressing.
The set designer went to one of the trendy tattoo artists on the strip. I can't remember his name butAdventures of Captain Marvel he was famous for doing Cher's tattoos. He cleaned the work up quite a bit. My punishment for my violence tinged voyeurism was having to inspect the new work as well.
So watching the sparking woman was a lot like that. Seeing her dance and striking the grinding wheel on the tiny strips of metal to generate the sparks, and knowing that she could hurt herself severely with a simple wrong move of a half inch or so was what fascinated me. And she was fit . . .
The other question I've been asked a lot here rather surprises me: How much longer do they give you to live?
Since I have nothing of huge value to leave anybody other than a huge movie collection and a beautiful puppy this is rather startling.
Since other doc's had given me erroneous time lines I figured it wouldn't hurt to ask. I called the doctor who was happy to discuss this morbidity with me. I knew it was going to go well when the conversation started off with something like, "Frankly, I can't quite accept the fact that you're alive right now!"
The leukemia put my body through a serious beating, the diabetes is a progressive disease that just wears you down. The techniques used in Canada are different then the preferred method in America but I have to live with it. They have no idea how I managed to survive the second heart attack, the one intentionally induced by the Canadian Government which they refused to treat. They said the damage caused by that heart attack was more severe than the first one.
But I am alive and the damage to my heart, while serious is nowhere near as bad as it should be or as bad as the scarring indicates it should be, I guess.
There's no real answer to how long I can live. If I stay on my diets pretty well and keep swallowing Head Hunter
Click images for desktop size: "Head Hunter" by NFL Films
the handfuls of pills they believe I can return my heart to about 98% (Before the second heart attack it was believed I could get it back to 100%)
In other words I stand a good chance to make it into my 60's . . . maybe.
All I can guarantee is that I will live at least one more day than my puppy. After this episode I will not ever let us be separated again.

Even with the job and my constant exhausted (but not fatigued) state I can still follow football. I'm surprised and concerned that Pete Carroll has named Matt Barkley the starter. Matt has the chance to be one of the greatest QB's of all time but his senior season in Orange County was solid but far from spectacular. In practice he's looked brilliant and incredibly young by turns.
I'd just feel more comfortable with the equally talented Aaron Corp playing QB against Ohio State. The Asphalt Jungle Next week San Jose State is just a tune up game. A game I'm irked USC is playing. San Jose State has a talented Div 1A defense. Its quick enough to give Barkley a look and some problems. I hope Corp gets some time in because I still think Corp is the key to a successful season.
These 12 games a year - 12 days that these kids have spent a life time getting ready to play are too important for experiments.

I've got another year to start. I think I get to say when that year starts. It didn't start today. Today was as disappointing as Obama's plan for health care reform. It is certainly not going to start until I can start to use my right arm again, I've got my puppy beside me telling me doggish jokes, and I can get up in the middle of the night and talk to my friend. Interestingly I've compensated for the arm so well that I have either deceived everyone that my arm is fine or else everyone around me is too self obsessed to notice . . . I don't know how to compensate for the lack of puppy or lack of friend.

July 24, 2009

I get around
Brian Wilson

mc by Richard Mohler
Click images for desktop size: "mc" by Richard Mohler
Another bad night.
My careful construction of pillows and positioning failed me. I was awakened 4 times with sharp They Drive by Night pains. Did manage to sleep well until then though so I feel pretty well rested.
Miss my puppy.
Last night I had to dip into my work clothes fund (or interview clothing fund) to buy a new keyboard. I wouldn't buy a new Apple keyboard. Don't have $50.00 to spare. And as this is the third keyboard to just go bad it seems futile.
David Bowie
Click images for desktop size: "David Bowie"
The keyboard was working absolutely fine but then abruptly the space key and six keys stop functioning. I have a thesaurus so I could do without the letter keys but copy and pasting spaces was pretty time consuming.
I got a Logitech board for $15.00. It works okay. It is cheap and the Apple keyboard certainly looks and feels better and the Apple has all those hardware function keys (volume, eject, screen brightness). But for 15 bucks I figure this one will last and do just fine until I start working.
Yesterday was also tough as my friend spent most of the day at the doctors and then at the hospital getting tests. She's going to be okay but right now she has three separate viral infections. Viral meningitis, which is nasty but not as nasty as bacterial meningitis, a kidney infection and a general infection. Rah.
They gave her something. Hope she'll be okay.
Being separated by imaginary borders heightens the worry and the frustration.
I'm still looking for work. Still applying for at least three jobs a day.
I'm worried now.
People have been on me for bum rapping Canada. I'm not. I've traveled enough and lived in enough foreign countries to draw a line between the people and its government. Even in the most Mist's Edge by Luis Royo
Click images for desktop size: "Mist's Edge" by Luis Royo
entrenched democracy the government seldom coincides with its people. Its worse in a capitalistic society but it is usually pretty evident.
Most foreigners bum rap America as being too litigious. They don't understand that it is those massive payouts you read about that shape and form our society.
Like in India Union Carbide negligently murdered thousands of innocents with a poison cloud. Its still in court over there decades later. Union Carbide is still appealing and fighting the size of the payout. I gather the damages to the surviving family members who were victims of the slow painful death Union Carbide inflicted on them want so much money it would eat up nearly a week of Union Carbides normal net profits. That's NET profits.
In the USA the damages would have bankrupted the corporation and then the lawyers would have gone after the corporate officers and bankrupted them.
And I think that's a good thing. Corporate America doesn't fear prison. They fear losing money. Corporate America was poisoning dogs and cats for a long time. They figured it was worth it.The Killer that Stalked New York
They saved so much money by putting a known poison into dog and cat food that they figured they'd still turn a profit based on how many animals would likely die. The law suits wouldn't be large enough to offset the tremendous savings.
They continued to poison animals for months until judges started to hit them with stiffer and stiffer penalties and allowed the pain and suffering of the pets owners to enter into the settlements. That's when it finally stopped.
But America has an entire history trying too fight for and to find a balance between freedom and justice. It is only in the last 30 years when America bowed to corporate domination that our laws have gotten screwy. I mean the old, "Better 1,000 guilty men go free than 1 innocent man suffer," sounds cool. It is cool but we can't seem to deal with that anymore. Still its so ingrained that the conservatives haven't been able to totally dismantle the structure.
Even in France, where the fight for liberty runs deep, if you are arrested you are presumed guilty. Your task is to prove you're innocent not for the prosecutor to prove your guilt.
In the U.K. they revoked the right to silence. Being confused, dazed or lost isn't sufficient. Not answering a cop's (a COP'S) question will be held against you.
In Canada you do not have the right to speak to an attorney before questioning. They state that you have a right to one phone call. You don't. You can ask the cop to call a lawyer for you and he may or may not choose to do so.
You can sue the cop for refusing to make the call. It will cost you about $25,000.00 and if you win you'll get a written apology . . . and that's it.
The quality of cops has been declining world wide. Mainly because of the quality of the men who want to be cops. See, fewer and fewer want to be police officers, protecting the innocent, helping Hie Sanno Festival
Click images for desktop size: "Hie Sanno Festival" by Unknown
the helpless sort of men. Most of them want to act out some control fantasy, carry guns and shoot people and get away with it. The UK and Canada are both giving more and more types of cops guns. They didn't need guns for hundreds of years but now they do. Well, they really don't but they want them and they have unions.
So I'm not really bum rapping Canada so much as I'm noticing that any society that attempts to run essential services at a profit will eventually work most to appear it is following the letter of the law while intentionally ignoring the intent of the law.
Any country that does not prize the rights of children and the rights of the individual over all other rights is out of necessity going to become a cruel heartless torturing nation.
And I still miss my puppy. I still hope my friend is okay.

June 3, 2009

I'm an idealist. I don't know where I'm going, but I'm on my way
Carl Sandburg

Irises by Vincent Van Gogh
Click images for desktop size: "Irises" by Vincent Van Gogh
Woke up in screaming pain from my shoulder. Very bad.
I see the doc's today at 3:30. I hope they have some sort of miracle pill to calm this thing down.The Devils Rejects
I'm far from impressed with the miracle of Lantus insulin. I thought it was starting to kick in. I got hypoglycemic trembles. Had to eat the glucose tablets to get them to stop, but it appears it was more from me not eating anything for 12 hours than the drugs.
Here's to today.

Football last night. It was good for me. It wasn't good in general but it was far from the worst session I've ever been involved in. The organizers' hearts are in the right place they just don't have the skills to pull it off.
The Equipment Manager and the Team Manager are stellar.
Saw 118 kids yesterday. No stud athletes. That's no big deal. They were kids. Some showed potential. Potential is all that they need right now. In general the kids seemed eager to learn, eager to play they just have no clue as to how.
I ran the agility section with the 6 inch agility hurdles. This is one of my and a lot of other coaches favorite sets of drills. We used to run these drills with "step over bags" which were about the same height as the hurdles and about six inches broad. One of the evolutions in sports science is how even this small thing has changed.
Originally the step over bags were about 12 inches high. The point then was getting the players to get their knees high, like stepping over arm tackles and flying bodies. Gradually it dawned on us that getting the knees high slowed the player down, it was not efficient use of kinetic energy. The step over bags got shorter and shorter. Virginia Tech was then using one inch plywood, eight inches wide and five feet long, as step over bags, getting the placement of the player's feet and legs while letting their knees and feet stay low and Indominitble
Click images for desktop size: "Indomitable" by Unknown
flowing to the motion instead of chopping against the motion. And now we accomplish the same thing with little plastic hurdles.
Part of me resists the change over. There are certain elements I think need the five foot long bags to properly implement. Since they don't have any step over bags and as raw as these kids are my normal concerns about finding a replacement drill aren't needed here.
I started with the "Bunny Hop". Six hurdles, 1 yard apart. The kids are supposed to keep their feet together and hop over each hurdle, one hop per hurdle. I had intended this as just a warm up and not part of the evaluation. Two thirds of the kids could not keep their feet together at all. One third could not clear each hurdle with one hop per hurdle. About 10% faded out and couldn't complete the drill.
They wanted to grade three drills. The single step, where the kids run through the hurdles taking one step to clear each one, come to the end, turn left, explode forward five yards turn left againThe Chosen and run through a second set of hurtles.
Then there was the side step, same drill basically.
The final drill were the in and outs. Just a weave going forward, side step, then backwards. What I look for are eyes, good football stance and good arm motion.
In West Texas and California high school ball 95% of the kids would have been given a 1. I gave most of them 3's. I only graded three kids as 1's and 4 kids as 4's. No 5's. I figured I should use a bell curve and not a rigid standard.
Gloria Swanson
Click images for desktop size: "Gloria Swanson"
Even the experienced kids kept their eyes on the ground trying to watch their feet, had no arm movement and no sense of precision. I tried to give them visualizations of what they were doing and why. They liked that. I gave the 4's more based on effort than skill. I like effort.
My friend ended up not working with me. She had to start and do the 10 yard time on the 40's. During a water break I glanced at her sheet. I was impressed I saw a few 5's and several 4's! Kids hitting 4 seconds in the 40's make my heart glow. Until I realized I was looking at the wrong column and the 4's and 5's were the 20 yard times!
Watching a few of them run it was apparent they all needed just some fundamental work. With times like that I can get some massive miraculous seeming improvement. I think the kids will work hard enough to accomplish that.
Since most of you know that my coaching technique involves trotting along the athlete and encouraging and exhorting I realized I trotted about two miles yesterday! I was pretty shattered Hug Me Forever by Jana Jelovac
Click images for desktop size: "Hug Me Forever" by Jana Jelovac
after practice. But it felt good.
We have to go again on Thursday. I'm going to push to take over my friends job and run the 40's. The kids clearly need some coaching there. That was my biggest surprise. I didn't hear any coaching, just instructions.
Oh, after practice we stopped and bought whistles! Just regular whistles. I still like loopy ones but that could terrify the parents.
That was the oddest part of the day for me, the 200 or so parents who just sat in lawn chairs on the side lines. I still don't quite know what to make of that.

New foster dog has decided he likes us. He spent much less time humping foster dog and more time hanging out with me and my friend. Yesterday he had no accidents in the house.
He was crated for about 4 hours while we were at practice. I hung out outside for 10 minutes before we left. There was no evidence of the bad behavior his previous fosters experienced.
New foster is a good little dog. He wants to be loved. Boy, does he not know anything! I think as heThe Giant Behemoth gets a bit calmer, he'll learn.
Foster dog has two more applications! No word on whether they are acceptable. Foster dog is pretty special. He's struggling to learn, struggling to find out how to fit in. He's a pretty great guy.
I took the Original Trio, gentle dog, my puppy and giant dog, on a walk with just the three of us. They needed the reassurance. My puppy not so much. She;s been through all these fostering things before. She stays steady. Gentle dog needed reassurance that he's still special the most, even more than giant dog who is is very insecure and jealous.
My friend bought me a new hard drive! A 500 gig Western Digital.
I'm not looking forward to installing it. The iMac case is NOT user friendly. There's so much tape and putty etc that it can get pretty overwhelming. Too many tight gentle windings to break, too many glues to distort.
Ella Fitzgerald by Bernardine
Click images for desktop size: "Ella Fitzgerald" by Bernardine
I did it before. I'm going to check around and see if I can get someone to instal the drive for 50 bucks or so. I figure 50 is about how much my fear is worth.
I feel oddly reluctant to let the computer out of my hands.
No issues from the "lost" files. I'm hoping it was just cache files or something.
I'm worried that I've loaded all these responsibilities on my friend, football practice, vets and doctors when she got hit with some ridiculous deadlines at work yesterday. I have to think of something reasonable so she can get her business and recreation done while I handle myself better.
I mowed half the yard yesterday. Not much of a contribution to her ease of mind.

June 2, 2009

All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them
Walt Disney

Her Blue Eyes
Click images for desktop size: "Her Blue Eyes" by Unknown
Pain in my shoulder woke me at 4, again. Last night I updated some of the Apple software. The QuickTime update required a reboot. I hate rebooting. Now I can hate it with even more purpose.Teenage Doll
The restart began and then the computer turned itself off. Did that twice more.
I rebooted in single user mode (command line stuff) and ran a disk repair (fsck). The disk was unrepairable. The binary tree catalog had become corrupt. That's the entire file system . . .
I'd gotten lazy and hadn't done a full back up since Sunday. I was able to boot from my back up. 2 and 1/2 hours later DiskWarrior was able to repair the problem. At least for now.
I guess I'm going to have to start doing twice daily back-ups until I can find a replacement drive I can afford. DiskWarrior reported that I've lost 36 folders and 18 files . . . I don't know what they were. A quick visual scan doesn't show anything terrible. Maybe I got lucky and it was some cache files or something.
I replaced the drive in the iMac almost 3 years ago. A Seagate Barracuda. It was a terrible job. One I'm not looking forward to attempting again. What choice do I have? Last time I broke the DVD drive. Maybe I can fix that or replace it.
Working on the iMac is worse than working on a notebook.
If I suddenly cyber-vanish, well, you know why.
I remain grateful for IMAP. No fear of losing any emails, at least. Even when I don't answer them I like to have them.

Yesterday was strangely busy. Five dogs had a lot to do with that. Five dogs and thunderstorms.
My friend got to come home early, she got to work from home. Her MacBook running Parallels is doing studly duty, I think.
Heroine
Click images for desktop size: "Modern Woman" by Unknown
We had a good discussion about the football tryouts this evening. I was just pulling out of my zombie state, where I'm resisting passing out. I hate naps.
My friend sometimes resists discussions. I think she sees them as arguments and with my propensity for going ballistic I worry that I engendered that. She was at one of the meetings about the tryouts.
At the meeting I heard, "The coaches won't do anything but observe and evaluate the players."
She heard, "The coaches will be assigned drills to run so best come prepared to work."
Pretty contrary.
Somewhere in there she said, "You don't approve of any coaches except the ones you trained." I could immediately think of at least a half dozen coaches I worked for who I liked and also thought were pretty good, better than me in most ways.
The end result of the conversation was positive for me. It reminded me of a truism that I have The Blob and Dinosaurus always held but in the middle of the volunteer coaches I know it is easy to forget.
The main point of sport at this age and this level is to help the athletes to be better people not just on the field but in society, in their neighborhoods.
No person is really capable of teaching that sort of skill. But it can be taught. A coaches job is to train the athlete to be the best that he can be. The real beauty of football is that its teaches more than Doris Day
Click images for desktop size: "Doris Day"
I ever could.
My aphorism has always been, "I teach them how to play the game. The game teaches them about life."
All men are, by instinct, competitive. For me to be successful as a coach, and I think I have been successful, it is important I rise above my animal instincts and not get sucked into who's better, best.
Working with pros I never had an issue knowing that. Amateurs, volunteers who are giving freely and deserve love and respect for their efforts made me forget that, if only just a little bit.
Remembering that changes my attitude greatly. Remembering my place in the great scheme of my goals is important. Even though I made my friend uncomfortable the conversation was important to me for that and several other reasons.

The five dogs . . . oh boy. New foster and foster dog are tight buddies. Even if it involves a lot of humping. They are both doing better and better each day. New foster still gets too nervous but he's starting to laugh and smile. When my friend or I upset him he now goes to look for one of us to protect him from the other!
He's not housebroken and had another accident, urinating in the exact same spot! I need to buy a Geisha Dream by TitusBoy
Click images for desktop size: "Geisha Dream" by TitusBoy
newspaper so I can cover that spot.
We had another small incident. Giant dog is incredibly jealous, He attacked, not viciously, the new foster. The little guy ran and hid under a chair but let my friend coax him out. Just too many dogs and giant dog doesn't like us talking so much to the new guys.
Foster dog has had some intrest from forever homes. One was rejected out right. They'd adopted and returned two animals previously. The other two are lets wait and see right now. The new foster has a woman willing to wait for him until we can see how he really is.
My friend points out that with 5 dogs we cannot do a proper assessment as to how he'd do on his own with just him and a person.

I watched a terrible movie yesterday. A BBC documentary. In this country we have a strange idea of the BBC. I've disliked them and continue you do so. The doc was "The Rock and Roll Singer."The Animal World
It claimed to be an impressionistic view of a rock & roll tour from 1969. It was impressionistic becasue it had no point of view, no story to tell, and no skill in resolving it.
Still the 45 minute film was fantastic becasue the rock & roll singer was Gene Vincent. It was his tour with The Wild Angels" as his back up band.
Even inept filmmaking couldn't conceal the man's genius, his talent as a musicain as he rehearsed with the band. His insanity and his charm.
Although he was 34 at the time of the tour he looked well over fifty. He'd be dead in two years, dead from excess. There are five live numbers in the film, shot with a static single camera. That;s all he needed. When Vincent sang he collapsed the world in on itself.
The only effective filmmaking was a couple of pointless moments of Vincent walking around London, dragging his crippled leg around his corpulent body looking sadly at the world. Then there were the Advocation
Click images for desktop size: "Advocation" by Unknown
moments after the show where he had to fret over getting paid. He was worried about himself but there was also the worry about getting the band paid that seemed pre-emminent.
Even when they attempted to provoke and in each spontaneous moment there was no scandal, nothing to uglify, all there was is a drunken, sad man who still held close to the idea of being a Southern Gentleman in all things.
Gene Vincent. Even talentless hacks can make art when you have a demi-god to point your camera at, a demi-god who was also so very mortal and so little different from you or me.

May 30, 2009

When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President; I'm beginning to believe it
Clarence Darrow

Division by Robert Randtoul
Click images for desktop size: "Division" by Robert Randtoul
I was feeling somewhat better. Up at 4:00. Just over 3 hours of sleep but no where as bad as I've been feeling until . . . Satan's Sadists
I set my pills out. One of them started to roll off the table. Without thinking I caught it. Wish I hadn't. The quick move made me see black. Vision back in just a few seconds but the pain doubled me up for nearly 15 minutes. Still feel it 40 minutes later.
The deep nausea is much better this morning. Maybe I'm getting used to the insulin. Its not doing me much good as far as I can see. The injections still hurt. It makes me feel edgy right afterwards. I went to sleep with a good blood sugar count of 7.0 and woke up with a 12.4! Stupid body. Stupid pain.

Were getting a new foster dog today. An emergency placement. The dog was surrendered by the owner with another dog. It was one of those things, "Surrender the dogs or face jail time". So you can tell the guy has had a nice three years so far. He was going to be put down. Clearly fair. His abusive owner avoids jail time but the dog gets the death penalty. That's justice. Clearly being victimized was the dogs fault.
His front teeth have been knocked out. He's not housebroken. He's not crate trained. He has bad separation anxiety. I don't see much there that justifies the death penalty. Five dogs in a tiny house bothers me just a little. My flailing health and dealing with two fosters bothers me just a little bit more.
Looking ahead next weekend we'll be gone most of the day. My football teams "evaluation". I hope that a week with us will get the new foster enough time to know he's safe here and that we can be gone without him panicking.

Elegance by Richard Mohler
Click images for desktop size: "Elegance" by Richard Mohler
I am totally bugged by Obama. With all of the rhetoric he's going totally 19th century when it comes to consumer rights. And he's showing a deep hatred for the handicapped. I thought he was avoiding the sickening presence of lobbyists? It was one of his big promises, wasn't it?
There's the International Copyright Treaty convention going on. The Obama administration has presented an opposition to the treaty. He opposes books for the blind and for the handicapped. You know, people with no arms, people paralyzed from the neck down. Obama is sickened that these slackers have been getting a free ride at the expense of poor down trodden publishers. You know those poor publisher guys who need to park their Escalades in the Handicapped parking spaces at the grocery store.
The RIAA, MPAA and the publishing lobbyists are recorded as having open access to Obama. TheyShield For Murder decided that the Handicapped have had it their own way too long. No more free books in braille, no more handmade books on tape. The handicapped, according to Obama, have got to start pulling their own weight around here. I guess he figures they're handicapped, what right do the handicapped have to be informed or educated. They should just stay inside in the dark and out of sight.
This is the most repellant thing imaginable. The only reason for their opposition, at least the argument they presented to the conference was the verbatim page from the copyright lobbyists website, so you know Obama is watching out for us and not being unduly influenced.
Revolting.
More revolting is that come election day no one will remember this gross cruelty. No one cares much now. Its only the lost, the powerless, the disenfranchised. And that we will allow them to be exploited and forced into the shadows, deprived of basic human rights is revolting. It's not a country I can be proud of.

April 6, 2009

They are not pets; they are family
Tony Jaa

Autumn Maple by Kamisaka Sekka
Click images for desktop size: "Autumn Maple" by Kamisaka Sekka
Yesterday was pretty nice. Temperature's up around 50, felt warmer in the sun. The dogs were happy.Road to Rio
It was nice, like a pleasant autumn day.
This morning there was about an inch of snow on the ground and the threat of about 8 inches to come. Aggravatingly no one but me thinks this is peculiar and slightly disheartening.
The dogs are still happy.
It was a mildly interesting weekend. On Saturday we met my friend's parents at the Chinese buffet for their birthday lunch. We were surprised at how Bath Time
Click images for desktop size: "Bath Time" by Unknown
busy it was.
This impacted my doggie bag purloining. While I doubt if they care about me snatching tidbits to take home for the dogs it makes the experience much more fulfilling if its a clandestine operation I barely get away with. Not certain how much I'd be able to eat I went loaded for bear, both the inner and out pockets of my sweater/fleece were lined with plastic.
The crowd was so heavy and there was so much wait personnel that I only got 2 pockets filled. Fortunately their Saturday lunch is more of a brunch thing. There was bacon and pork sausage.
There was also an omelet chef. This was new and novel. My friend had a cheese and mushroom Beethoven
Click images for desktop size: "Beethoven" by Unknown
omelet that she thought was pretty good. Except it was too large for her. This probably saved them a fortune in sprig rolls and veggies.
I had no big problems eating. I got sick afterwards but I put that off to living on nothing but over cooked rice, pudding and other non-chewables.
Real food felt weird in my mouth. The only problem I really had was with the calamari. Too chewy to disintegrate it properly for swallowing. I sampled a little bit of everything. Everything felt odd in my near toothless mouth but there was no problem and no bleeding.
The table conversation perplexed me. My friends family is larger than I ever imagined. Every time she talks with her parents I seem to find out about another sibling. I'm an only child so its perplexing to me. I guess my ideas about extended families don't have much basis in reality. I always figured that they were closer, chatting daily. I thought they were more apart of life.The Red Rider
I don't like how everyone looks at me like I was retarded when I ask, "who is that?"
(I suddenly remembered I'm not actually an only child. My step-father had three kids from a previous marriage. I guess I met them once when I was about 7. Never had any contact or heard about them until my step-fathers funeral. They sent some flowers. I was bored and I asked my mother who some of the flower senders were. She gave me that same "how retarded are you" look and explained, slowly, that those people were my brother and sisters.
Nude
Click images for desktop size: "Nude" by Unknown
I thought it was pretty chintzy to only get one bunch of flowers from 3 people but then realized that since they'd never seen the guy in at least 20 years probably one of them thought to send something and just signed all three names. Fair enough and probably more than my step-father warranted. I lived with him and wasn't too thrilled to be there I can't imagine how his three other kids must have felt hearing he was gone. Heck of a legacy. They got mentioned in his obituary. I didn't. Suited me fine.
After lunch my friend and I headed to the Animal Shelter. There are plenty of reasons we should stick with having only three dogs, mainly economic and the lack of canine sleeping space. But there were two dogs there that seemed to need us more than we might need them.
I was surprised when her parents met us at the shelter. They'd never been there before. I likedSatan's Cheerleaders them showing up like that. Its the only pleasant surprise I recall from them. My friend seemed pleased which made it all the better.
Inside was not so great. The one dog, Rufus, was gone. He'd found a new home. The other little dog Jackson had an application for him pending.
Jackson is one of those dogs that really irk me. Not the dog but the people who were entrusted to him. He is at least 9 years old and they just abandoned him. The notes on him indicated severe neglect. He was intact. (Polite dog words for not fixed, which is slightly less polite for uncastrated).
This is a non-kill shelter and they're fairly fussy about who takes their dogs so we decided to give him a break and pull him out of the kennel. He was a little frantic and really wanted out. Understandable. Except the shelter was closing! We weren't allowed to spring him. I was looking forward to it.
It cast a pall over what had been a nice day. My friend's mother was surprised there were so few dogs there. I thought that was good news.
Our spirits were elevated a little bit when on Sunday we got an email explaining that we are still being considered as foster parents. Dog foster parents.
I like the idea of being fosters. Meet a slew of nice dogs and a bigger slew of some excellent people (for the most part).
My friend bought up another subject on Sunday. She's been corresponding with an old high school chum. It appears that woman is going through some strive. Her husband's girl friend was calling him constantly while their son was getting an operation. I also gathered that the boob husband was taking the calls. Yow!
Mermen by Maxfield Parrish
Click images for desktop size: "Mermen" by Maxfield Parrish
My friend has invited her to stay with us if things get too crazy for her. (Crazier than that?) Now my friend is worried that her high school mate isn't very much like us.
We also had to deal with the stupid cat. When we came back from a little errand the stupid cat was standing in the neighbor's yard yowling its head off. My friend had to go into the yard but then couldn't find the thing. It had left the yard it was acting like it was imprisoned in. My friend caught the cat up and bought her into the yard where upon the cat demanded to be set down. Since the fence is separated from our neighbors by a quarter inch wire link fence we spent 10 minutes moving it a quarter inch.
There's someone who might like to take the stupid cat into their home. As much as I dislike the stupid cat, I mean I like skanky cat, the feral free loader, more than I do her, I still have a strong knee jerk reaction about moving an 8 year old animal out of the environment its used to.
My feelings aren't very important here so we'll see what happens.Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Finally my iMac is holding on. Barely. I think the Hard Drive is only part of the problem. I think the HD Controller and possibly even the CPU might be in trouble s well. I'm still doing daily back-ups, which are a pain.
I looked at the Pystar Hackintosh. Pystar is being sued by Apple for making and selling machines that run OSX. There's even talk, probably true, that the next version of OSX will have DRM in it to prohibit it from running on anything but Apple taxed machines. Still . . .
Even though its about 25% the cost of a MacPro and about six hundred less than the sexier non boxed iMac its still too expensive for us.
I think I could replace all the parts. Its scary working with such tiny screws on something so fragile but how else do you learn?

April 2, 2009

A nickel ain't worth a dime anymore
Yogi Berra

Five Faces of Hecate by Luis Royo
Click images for desktop size: "Five Faces of Hecate" by Luis Royo
Woke up this morning and found the computer was all locked up.
I did a reboot and some updates installed and then - nothing. During the reboot the system poweredMonster A Go Go down. This is not a good sign.
In single user mode I tried to repair the disk drive, where you usually start, and it failed three times.
I rebooted into my back up and used DiskWarrior to reconstruct the catalog of the drive. I got lucky. It repaired a huge amount of errors and rebooted.
So there we are.
I probably need to replace the hard drive. I did this once before on the iMac. Its a bit daunting. Its exactly like replacing the HD on a lap top. Doable but a tense operation.
I also wonder if I should just get a Hackintosh. Both are out of my price range (HD or a Hackintosh) but . . . we'll have to see.
Going back to daily full backups.

Day two post multiple tooth extraction was okay. I got a call from the Oral Surgeons office. More like checking up than anything else. I wished they'd shown that much concern when I was actually there.
The good thing is that there's been no more bleeding. I'm uncomfortable but the pain is considerably less than when the teeth were still in there.
The worst pain comes from where they extracted the bone marrow for the biopsy. The next worse is in my jaws. Learning how to hold my jaw with the new mouth is the most aggravating part.
I ate a little bit of solid food. A frozen hash brown patty. It was awkward but not too bad. Minimal bleeding.
There's a lot of swelling inside my mouth but not much that shows up on my face. I can talk plainly.
Tree and Sunset by Giovanni Di Gregorio
Click images for desktop size: "Tree and Sunset" by Giovanni Di Gregorio
I kept waking up with my face wet with drool. Not very dignified but it wasn't bloody drool so I can suffer that indignity in the dark.
My friend took off work. I think she was counting on a lot of nursing. I was glad to disappoint her. I'm glad she just got to have some days off.
Tonight is the interview for coaching the pee-wee footballers.
I'm not nervous about it. I'm good at it and know what I'm about. If nothing else I've got a pretty solid philosophy in my coaching. Solid enough that if they disagree then it wouldn't be the place for me to coach anyway.
I'm excited and really hope it works out. They really want HC's (head coaches). While I'd prefer being a position coach and a smaller member of the team I'd handle anything. My friend is drivingThe Mysterians me to the interview so I've volunteered her (only to her) to come on as the team manager! She's good with paperwork. I'm good at missing paperwork deadlines. She'd be an asset in more ways than one.
Now I need to take the puppies out for our long walk. They've been crazed not having their daily constitutional. I'm hoping that the walk and exercise will drive away some of my lightheadedness and let me focus more.
If it does I'm going to make a big rush at getting my puppy's site updated.

March 16, 2009

Television is a medium because anything well done is rare
Fred Allen

Red Flute
Click images for desktop size: "Red Flute" by Unknown
Last week was one of those lost times. Pain, worry and concern blinding me to life.
What I know is that these sort of weeks used to be prevalent. They ran to months. Times where you walk through life Body Heat and it does not touch you. It leaves no remark and accepts no input. I would feel like a hunk of meat and symptoms. I simply endured.
Even the good times, because for some reason I never stop working, even the good times were simply blurred like a 16 mm movie slipping its sprocket holes and showing the sound stripe.
Now those times are rare. Rare enough to notice.
One thing I did this weekend was install Windows on my friends new Dark Art
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Dark Art
MacBook. Ended up staying up most of the night.
The Apple side of things was no big problem, actually no problem at all. It did what it was intended to do and did it fine. But Windows . . . No wonder little geeks sit out there believe they are computer experts because they can work with that clodge of make believe.
I've never seen anything so inept and silly as Windows XP. Granted Apple has an advantage in that its OS is designed to work on a restricted set of hardware and Windows is expected to function on any piece of junk that you want to cobble together it still doesn't justify the inherent stupidity of the OS.
When installing Boot Camp, the Apple app that partitions the hard drive and preps it for Windows, it reminds you that it will be necessary to have Windows reformat the HD. It sets it up as FAT32. Windows might not be able to read to this.
After waiting for 30 minutes the Windows installer asked if I wanted to reformat the drive. It did not give me the option to reformat as FAT32, only as NTFS (another horrible clodge that emulates HTFS). I foolishly decided that it meant that it could read and write the FAT32 fine.
Waiting by Riftsurround (Fran Rivera)
Click images for desktop size: "Waiting" by RiftSurround (Fran Rivera)
It could write to it but couldn't read it . . . which probably makes sense to Windows only guys. As does the installer not realizing that it could write but bot read the partition.
I found this out because when I rebooted to finish the Windows install I got nothing but a disk read error. I futzed around and tried to fix it but the only solution was to repartition the drive and blank the old partition. Fortunately Boot Camp makes this a no brainer with no risk to the Mac data.
This time I reformatted the drive as NTFS and the install progressed nicely.
The problem with the NTFS file system is that when my friend is in Mac OSX she can read but can't write to the partition. She can't save docs to Windows. This is a secondary problem as when the partition is over 32 gig you can't write to it either (from OSX). Of course Windows is so stupid itBracula can't read any other file system or OS (even linux). If it were my computer I'd have set it up for 32 gig and used Parallel to run any Windows apps I might need. Of course I also hold to the principal that any tool should be used by the user in the way they see fit.
Now I finally had the Windows actual installer going. It said it would take anywhere from 2 hours to 39 minutes to complete the install!!
I love that sort of accuracy.
It took 50 minutes.
After doing all the password set up I finally got to the screen and was nothing but appalled at the sheer ugliness of the interface. I'd forgotten just how pig ugly it is especially with the inane way it tries to beautify itself. That wasn't all the issue. It was the way EVERYTHING stopped at all the stupid security fixations.
All the notices were growing tedious. With its huge list of supported machines and hardware it couldn't find the WIFI card, the sound drivers etc.
Installing the Apple drivers fixed that but it seems rather foolish that Windows can't find anything.
But its up, running and looking pig ugly. Only took 5 hours.

Lest you think I love Apple blindly I note that the new iPod shuffle is charging A FEE to anyone foolish enough to want to design third party headphones that will work with the thing. So unless you want to pay the Apple tax and an extra premium for premium earbuds your stuck with the cruddy Jimi Hendriz by S4W
Click images for desktop size: "Jimmy Hendrix" by S4W
$29 buck-ers they pack in. This could be Apple's biggest failure since the Newton.

We took the car in for some warranty work. Nothing at all serious but all annoying. The squeal from the brakes and the constant squeaking, the blown speaker and a funny clunk when you turn off the rear window wiper.
We got a loaner. A Ford Focus that really sucks! But, as my friend says, it's better than n car at all.
The thing that startles is how easy the whole thing was. The salesman even remembered me! (Which my friend points out is probably an indication of what a pain in the neck I can be.)
We stopped at Taco Bell. My friend had TEN vegetarian tacos. I had a burrito and a quesadilla and her french fries (that came with her Family Taco Meal). The fries were hard for me to eat. She Cinderella didn't get sick or smelly so the meal was a success.

Sunday I spent getting the yard ready for spring and summer. It was over 50 and sunny. The dogs and I had a good time. I'd clean and then they'd mess it right back up. The gentle dog got into trouble. He got tangled in some dead Virginia Crawler behind the garden gate. He had cornered the stupid cat back there. The cat was taunting him. While he was all tangled it was hissing and swatting at him.
It was a hateful thing for it to do. As I got the gentle dog untangled and the stupid cat saw he was free it took off with the gentle dog in hot pursuit.
The cat went to the defunct bomb shelter. The same one the gentle dog had gotten itself trapped in during the winter. After that escapade I blocked off any easy dog access. Good thing as there's no doubt he would have dived right in there.
He hates that cat.
I might have to rename the gentle dog. He really hates that cat.

March 13, 2009

Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are
Kurt Cobain

Strong Bow
Click images for desktop size: "Strong Bow" by Unknown
Yesterday I got a call at 9:30. From the dentist. Telling me they'd had a cancellation. At 10:30.
I told them of course I wanted it but it was a 5 mile 90 minute walk (per google.maps). I rushedBeyond the Forest out. It was nasty cold but the sun was shining.
I made it in 40 minutes.
This wasn't speed. It was pain driving me on. Even though they'd told me this wasn't to relieve the pain but it was to extract only 2 teeth to send for a biopsy. Even two teeth missing would relieve some of the pain and maybe even let me chew food.
I was feeling pretty smug when I walked into the office. EARLY. Until I discovered I'd lost my friend's checkbook . . . I dug through my Book and Oranges by Signac
Click images for desktop size: Book and Oranges" by Signac
pack and only avoided panic by being rushed into the dental chair.
The dentist took my blood pressure. I told her my normal BP was 130 over 80 but in doctor's offices it usually ran about 160 over 90. Doctor's make me nervous. It was 180 over 97. We waited 5 minutes and it fell to 160 over 95. Five minutes late it was 140 over 95.
She claimed that was too high to do any tooth extractions. She said I might stroke out on her.
Maybe, but I sort of doubted it. I pointed out that I'd just walked/trotted a pretty fair distance. I was in pain. The pain stressed me and kept me from sleeping well. Doctor's make me nervous and I think I lost my checkbook. And we were checking to see if my leukemia had come back. I thought this was enough. I figured my BP was going to be high until this was sorted.
She said I'd have to take an oral sedative. It would take about an hour to work and she didn't have the extra time today. She was starting a weeks vacation Friday (today).
They ma to set up an appointment with an oral surgeon (next door) (being next door was the only Street Cred
Click images for desktop size: "Street Cred" by Unknown
decent part). I went to the Oral surgery and had to answer the usual shaft of questions re: medical history etc.
A nurse took my BP. It was now 130 over 88. (They couldn't wedge me in at the dentist's next door. I checked.)
An oral surgeon came in and checked the stuff and said this was too complicated for him. I would have to wait for the Doc who'd studied my x-rays to "consult" with me. Magnanimously he wasn't going to charge me for his 2 minutes of time spent with me.
I got an emergency appointment for Wednesday at 8:45. Then they'll decide what to do . . .
In the little town I was in before I had signed all sorts of HIPPA doc's so that my team of oncologists, GP's, dentists could freely consult. They also had all of my medical records on theBasket Case central database so they could see anything they needed with a couple of mouse clicks.
This is quick, easy and far less stressful for me. I wrote to my old Team head and was surprised to discover that this wasn't a state wide program but just a municipal program! Just a small city.
This is what Obama wants to do. While I clearly understand the point of HIPPA and I really get the idea of privacy and not wanting any jerk having access to my medical records this system works easily and well from the doctors all the way to the municipally funded pharmacy. It needs to be done. I think city by city until all the towns and villages are on the database and then bring it nationally. It will save time, money and insure better medical care.
In just this dental thing I've spent about 2 hours just repeating medical history and signing documents to let them show the oral surgeon my x-rays. That's out of about 3 hours I've spent with Regret by LawnElf
Click images for desktop size: "Regret" by LawnElf
them in total.
My old small town doctor pointed out that all my files are marked by the fact that I'm sickly I have a huge amount of stamina, and a huge capacity to deal with pain. He also thought that my abnormal bone deterioration probably has more to do with the various chemo's and he would consider me coming out of remission the least of the possibilities. He sees no reason to not do a biopsy on the teeth, but merely as a precaution.
He confirmed all this with my old records.
So I left the oral surgeons with nothing really accomplished. Except I'd lost the checkbook.
I walked back much slower, kicking over every leaf and piece of garbage.
No joy.
I decided that it probably never made it out of the house and that I'd find it on the floor next to myAtom Age Vampire desk.
No joy.
I had put the leashes on the pups. I was going to use their highly honed hunting instincts to find the checkbook! Or at least have a few laughs at their expense while I looked for it.
My friend called me. She was still in her meeting in the "big city". Her bank had called her. Someone had brought the checkbook in and dropped it off at a bank branch!!
The pleasures of a small town.
I was still obligated to take the dogs for a walk. They insisted on searching for the checkbook even though it had been found. We had fun.
When we got home I started work on my friend;s new MacBook. I could not get the Migration Assistant to work.
I decided to do the one thing that all guys despise. I called Support.
After about 40 minutes the woman on the other end of the line couldn't figure out why it wasn't working. I was doing and had done everything exactly right but it would not work. She transferred me to a guy in Cupertino (Apple's main office). That guy was great. A lot of help. His conclusion was that the old Powerbook's dead DVD drive was the culprit. That it was dead but did not report to the system as dead had to be the problem. We discussed lightly the best way to get the data swapped across. He actually said that it sounded like I knew what I was doing! Then he gave me his direct line to call if I had any grief.
My issues with the New Apple not withstanding the smartest thing they've done is not to outsource Fashion, Sex, Politic and Music by S4W
Click images for desktop size: "Fashion, Sex Politics & Music" by S4W
their customer service centers. I hung up the phone feeling that we'd made a smart purchase.
Moving all the data "by hand" was a long and tedious process but most likely a more accurate way of doing it. Proof being that after I rebooted the new MacBook not only was all the data there but the desktop looked exactly like it did on the old Powerbook. All the little menu items and gooniness that she loves so much were all there and most of them were working flawlessly. There was some very minor tweaking to be done and probably some minot tweaking still to be done but all in all it worked easily enough.
The MacBook is QUICK, lively, responsive all that you could hope. I am jealous.

My little second hand iPod nano seems to be gasping. The little music player is hyper important to me. Music is still the thing that makes some parts of my life bearable. I'm curious about the new Blind Fury shuffle. Not to own. I don't want a crappy pair of 29 buck headphones and third party headphone rushed out with the extra little controls are going to be over priced and no guarantee of sound quality.
I still covet an iPod Touch but they are still too expensive. Time to start saving up for a new Nano I guess.

I ended the day watching another episode of "King of the Texas Rangers". A serial I got more out of curiosity. I wanted to see Hall Of Famer "Slingin'" Sammy Baugh. Oddly its become one of my favorite serials. Its consistent and at its worst its wryly amusing. I still love bits like cowboys dressed in full regalia including six guns SKY DIVING! Duncan Renaldo is great and Sammy Baugh is fascinating in the way he moves. He looks beautiful on horseback but then looks cramped and uncomfortable while driving a car, like a machine is trying to confine and restrict his great sense of full on motion.
I only have two episodes until I've finished it. This makes me sad. I like the world these guys inhabit.

One clarification. Yesterday I mentioned that three girls I tormented as a kid proposed marriage to me. It should be noted that they were also about 7 years old. My repsonse to their show of affection I reciprocated. I would throw smaller stones at them. And I would never try and put dry ice down the backs of their t-shirts.
I always had a way with the babes.

March 12, 2009

If you don't want to die don't be born
Ryhishiki Tseumoto

Slag Heap by Clarence Carter
Click images for desktop size: "Slag Heap" by Clarence Carter
Yesterday I made a root beer float. I made it in self defense.
It bought back a lot of memories. Ancient memories.Shoot the Piano Player
In our neighborhood a root beer float was called a brown cow. A float with Coke we called a black cow. I have no idea why. That was also the extent of our names and color palette.
When I was a kid one of my best friends was Pete. Pete was trouble, great trouble. As much fun as we had was always trouble.
The kind of fun we had was in our games like "War". We all had wrist rockets. Tom and Pete and I would climb onto our garage roofs and shoot brads and bent nails at each other. It was exciting and dangerous. We always wore protection: green plastic army helmets.
After a salvo we'd climb down to score (and gather up more ammo). We had a complicated scoring system. Getting both ends of a brad to stick was worth two points, getting one to stick in the helmet was worth a half point. Getting a nail to go through the helmet deep enough to bleed was worth a full point etc.
Tom and I had a game that always appeals to 7 year old boys; stealing girl's dolls. We would replace the dolls heads with plastic dinosaur heads or earthworms, or pretty much anything that would make girls shriek and threaten to tell our parents on us. They never ratted us out, in fact at least three of those girls proposed marriage.
While we were involved in this Pete came up on his bike. He'd been to the beach (he was a good surfer, even had his own board). Pete was all excited. The Starlight Theater was starting Saturday matinees. Ten cartoons, three Three Stooges shorts and a cheap horror movie. Fifty cents admission!
We were stoked.
Second Story Sunlight by Edward Hopper
Click images for desktop size: "Second Story Sunlight" by Edward Hopper
The premiere show was "Teenaged Frankenstein", a movie that was already on TV but this was a chance to see it on a big screen with a few hundred of your buddies.
During the boring cartoons and during the slow parts of the movies we all prowled the aisles. The air was thick with tossed popcorn, popcorn boxes, soda cups, the occasional nerd's jacket. The air was so thick with thrown stuff it was often hard to see the screen. That was cool by us. Everything got dead quiet during the Curly Stooges and whenever the monster was on the screen.
Those Kid's Matinees were the lynch pin of our weeks for a long time. No experience came close to it for exuberance and fun in the dark until we discovered underground surf films with live bands.
I always had a dollar for the matinees. After admission I had fifty cents left. My special treat was toAlien buy an Eskimo Pie from the vending machine for a quarter and then a soda from another vending machine. A soda in a paper cup.
I'd sit in my seat and meticulously pick off the chocolate coating from the Eskimo pie, i'd pick it off with my teeth, then when I had a glob of melting ice cream, free of chocolate, I'd plunge the ice cream into the cup of soda and have a fancy float. (it was important to get every bit of chocolate off the Pie. I somehow had it in my head that chocolate, ice cream and soda would be poisonous. Pretty much the same way I decided that the top level of jelly or any jelly that had been touched by peanut butter was poisonous.)
That's what I thought about when I ate/drank my brown cow yesterday. I remembered that and remembered how great it is to be alive.
Yesterday I spoke to the dentist. I thought we were setting up an appointment to get my teeth pulled. They're not pulling the teeth. The oral surgeon saw my x-rays and sort of freaked.
Shark Underwater
Click images for desktop size: "Underwater Shark" by Unknown
Normally people who've gone through chemo or who are in remission have the bone loss in a localized area, it then sort of grows from there. My bone loss is scattered throughout my mouth which is more common to people in the midst of full blown leukemia.
That kind of threw me.
What they want to do is pull one of the teeth and have it biopsyed.
It took a root beer float to ground me enough to decide that they were being over cautious. I've been through 4 different chemo trials. Been in remission all four times. Three times I came out of remission.
Calming down I was able to examine my body. I don't feel anything like the three times prior. No soul crushing fatigue. No deep set agony in my skeleton. There's just the normal pain I'm sort of used to.Alice In Wonderland
The greatest grief is from my teeth which do hurt pretty terribly. I'm tired but its because of weeks of bad sleep because of the pain in my mouth.
Last night I went to bed with a head that feels like it had been over inflated with a rusty bicycle pump. I got out of bed with the same feeling. I've been dealing with leukemia long enough to know that's Still Life by Huillot
Click images for desktop size: "Still Life" by Huillot
not one of the symptoms.
Unscientifically I've decided that the scattered necrotic bone is more a result of the 3 chemo's and the long term oral chemo that really does seem to have worked.
I've decided they're just being overly cautious. Can't blame anyone for that especially when its me they're being overly cautious with!
I need to get these teeth extracted. They are hurting fiercely.

My friend survived her long excursion for her business meeting. She claims she was so tired she has little idea if the meeting was any good or worthwhile at all. She has a sense it was okay but can't recall any details!
But her new MacBook arrived! I had to call UPS and roast them a little to get it delivered. They New Hampshire Hills by Maxfield Parrish
Click images for desktop size: "New Hampshire Hills" by Maxfield Parrish
expedited it so that it wouldn't have to sit 10 miles away.
Its a beautiful machine. The glossy screen seems like it might be a hassle in some instances but to look at it is gloriously pleasant.
I was able to partition the drive, to set it up for dual booting into Windows with no problem at all. The machine is super quick.
I'm having a lot more grief trying to use the "Migration Assistant" to move all of her data from the PowerBook to the MacBook. It sees every computer but then just grinds away doing nothing!
Irksome.
I plan to have it done today, one way or another. The "Migration Assistant" would be the easiest way to move over keychains, apps and preference files but I can do it manually if I have to.
I remember when all Apple products just worked . . .

October 9, 2008

It's alright ma, I'm only bleeding
Bob Dylan

Darkness Over Grass
Click images for desktop size: "Darkness Over Grass" by Unknown
I'm not sure if I'm getting old or if I'm dying.
I don't think I have enough experience in either to say with certainty.
Decoy
I've been pretty bugged by the recent Mcain-Palin rallies. They look like the old Nazi hate rallies. They seem to have no real purpose except to exhort the crowd to a lynch mob frenzy. Not to go out and vote but to go out and hate and kill.
I mean Palin nor McCain have said or done anything about people screaming "Kill him!" and the like. McCain's odd choice of referring to us as his "fellow prisoners" smacks of inciting to riot. They're sure not trying to quell the hatred or the explicit racism.
You could be far less cynical than I am and think that the Frankenstein
Click images: "Frankenstein" by Universal Pictures
Republican strategy has gone to the limit of trying to incite on of the more moronic KKK right to lifer bomber types to go and assassinate Obama.
Given the naked loathing that McCain has displayed this is a pretty credible theory. As McCain reminds us he' a bad pilot with a hard set bigotry. He wouldn't flinch about walking into the White House in bloody shoes.
Sad but what else explains the non-reaction to a frothing crowd member screaming KILL HIM!", and then exciting the crowd to attack a black cameraman in the press pit?
I read the Todd Palin written answers to the Troopergate investigation. Boy, he sure runs the government up there. He claims that its just a spouse helping out his wife, but man . . . considering this thing was strained through three lawyers and not a spontaneous answering of questions its pretty chilling.
Not only was he running the government but he was a pretty non-stop gossip. Seems to spend a lot Emi by Skyoon
Click images for desktop size: "Emi" by Skyoon
of time slandering this guy where common sense would say to keep your private matters private.
It stinks a lot of Cheny's Black Government. This guy would implement that bleak plan pretty fully.

I installed the new AppleTV update 2.2 last week. Its pretty interesting. Some of the features it offers are useless to me. The Genius playlist thing is still just creepy to me.
What it does do that is useful is allow you to view the cast and credits while the movie is playing! This is pretty cool. Its an overlay window, semi-transparent.
The other feature is that it finally utilizes the chapter function of mp4's. It freezes the frame then opens up the chapter listing making it a simple task to go toConquest Of The North Pole the chapter you want.
this partially addresses the big issue of slow seek times in mp4's. Its elegant. It works. Its fun and its cool.
But most oddly the update has made a few of my movies unplayable!
The theory is that if iTunes can play it so can AppleTV. The problem appears to be with my movies that have Chinese soundtracks. Apparently when the AppleTV encounters a language (in this case Traditional Chinese) it messes with something that causes the movie to not display, even though it plays the sound just fine . . . What? Yeah.
I'm trying a suggestion and that's to open the mp4 in Quicktime and then change the coding that calls the soundtrack Traditional Chinese to English. (Under Quicktimes "Movie Properties" menu item) This sets something in the header that apparently fools the AppleTV into playing the file . . . what's nuts is that it works . . . This is a major foul up in my opinion and typical of the New Apple theory, which is way too much like the old Microsoft Theory - Just run it out there without testing it. Let the consumer find the bugs.
It also works for Korean and Japanese films. I haven't tried just changing the AAC track and not the AC3 track. I change them both. Its stupid tedious. But it works and is the simplest solution I've found until the next AppleTV update.
Before the update I had ATVFlash installed. This enabled me to set up an SSH connection so I could save some music and song files that were lost when the PB crashed. It had some other benefits like Web Browsing on the AppleTV (really stupid in execution) but mainly the ability to play DivX and Xvid files.
Marvel Heroes
Click images for desktop size: "Marvel Heroes"
As a lot of people use it for home movies etc this was very cool and useful.
To get the AppleTV update I had to wipe those apps off the system. But its cool. There a new FREE and open source solution that works much better!
Boxee is freely available via google code. It requires the old USB flash drive and that's about it.
It installs Boxee and XBMC. XBMC is a mildly interesting. I think it stands for Xbox Media Center. Its Windows roots are really apparent in its clunky interface and "skins" that sometimes work and sometimes forget important functions. (One that comes packaged with it forgot the stop button when watching a movie). Still they extend the usefulness of the AppleTV in little ways (displaying the time and the weather so it can be called up by just a flic of the remote) and big. It also easily handles DivX, Xvid and even Matroska (mkv).
It does not extend or improve the hardware.A Woman's Face Matroska files encoded at larger than 720p or higher than 5000 kb will still stutter and look like hell.
Boxee is based on XBMC but adds some interesting features. It promotes itself as a "social" tool. I'm not too big on social sites. Here it seems that you can recommend films to your "friends" etc. You have to wait for an invitation to join the Boxee network. It took them two days to answer my request. Once you log in Boxee gives you access to several music, TV and Movie sites. Pretty cool stuff, like Last.fm and CNN. Decent.
It also gives you access to the Internet Movie Archives. You can actually watch and download Public Domain films right from your AppleTV. This is a nice function.
Boxee also connects to IMDB and will tag and annotate your Xvid movies with posters cast list etc.
Hhhhmmmmm
Click images for desktop size: "Hhhhhmmmmm" by Unknown
Boxee comes with one pre-installed friend. You get to see his recommendations and what he last watched each time you log in. I have no idea how to get more friends or if you'd rally want to.
Boxee uses SMB file shares to connect back to your home computer. SMB is Windows based and a bit less secure than APF file sharing. It also takes a touch more memory but works well enough.
It also easily played the files the AppleTV choked on.
So with these nice clean adjustments I'm still enjoying the AppleTV. Best gift I ever gave someone . . . even if I do seem to use it the most . . .

September 10, 2008

The New Poets Rebel

Wedding by Clarence Holbrook Carter
Click images for desktop size: "Wedding" by Clarence Holbrook Carter
There's an apochraphylic story from the sixties.
Lyndon Johnson was running for Senator. He told his campaign manager to start spreading a rumour that his opponent had carnal knowledge of sows.
The campaign manager was aghast. He sputtered, Hand of Death "Mr Johnson, we can't say he's a pig f***er! Its not true!"
In the joke Johnson replied, "I know that. The point is to make him deny it!"
The Republican Party never got the joke.
There latest commercial libeling Obama is a dangerous disgrace.
Implying that Obama is a pedophile goes too far. It harkens back to the evil Nixon "Dirty Tricks" campaign.
It also presents an ugly innuendo about the Republicans. The statement that they are using in their sly innuendo was a plea to teach kindergarten students the difference between good and bad touching from an adult.
Its not unreasonable to purpose that the Republicans don't want children to know the difference. Since they've created the ad its fair to surmise that they are advocating keeping children ignorant and even less able to protect themselves. Any right thinking man could decide that they wanted children ignorant so that they can prey upon them.
One of the few things I whole heartedly agree with Obama about and its twisted like this.
I've worked with young people for a whole lot of years. Its always been important to me that no kid, male or female, ever feel uncomfortable around me. I spend a lot of time in locker rooms with the kids. I've always made it a hard unbreakable rule that no coach, including myself, ever be alone with a kid in those sort of situations. There must always be at least one other coach and one other player. Its not much but its all I could come up. Kids are already woefully ignorant. They are Withus Flying Dog by Flying Wombat 007
Click images for desktop size: "Flying Withus Dog" by Flying Wombat 007
vulnerable. They need approval and they need affection. Even 6' 5" 280 pound line backers.
They have to be protected. They need to be better informed. They need cool headed education from day one.
Not according to the Republicans.
I'm not a bible student. Maybe there's nothing in the bible about protecting the welfare of children.
Sarah Palin is a nightmare.
One of her decisions as mayor was to have the police charge rape victims for their rape kit examination . . . . She's strongly, vigorously on record demanding that rape victims who might sadly become pregnant be forced to carry the child to term . . . Clearly sexual predators are not inhuman monsters in her eyes.
People are actually still claiming that the "liberal media" are being unfair to her and McCain. What liberal media?
McCain lies all over the place and it should be ignored? Gun Crazy And not ignoring it means you're a liberal?
McCain's incessant lying and rewriting of history being accepted as fact scares me. Its that old childish thing, "tell a lie three times and people will think its true." Its been proven effective for the Republicans since Nixon. Why change?
It does bother me that at his age McCain might not be able to tell what is the truth anymore. It would explain his stream of contradictory answers to things. Each moment he may be living in a different truth, like most of us.
Not being ageist just trying to understand how a man who purports himself to be a good man can be so many things that I typify as being a bad man.
Sarah Palin though: she's a pure monster. An ugly vile contemptible monster. Forgetting her bounty on wolves ($150 a leg . . .) Her vindictiveness and her Nazi like attempt to ban books, BOOKS! What is most vile is her attempt to suppress religious freedom.
Horrifique 2
Click images for desktop size: "Horrifique 2" by Unknown
I do consider attempts to "cure" homosexuals and Jews as vile and an attempt to suppress religious freedom.
Its not that I find her religion so bizarre. All religions look bizarre to outsiders. The Catholic church with its ritualistic cannibalism would terrify an alien. It preaches against graven images but fills its churches with statues and graven images . . .
I'm sure that my own personal religion formed from years of Catholic catechism, zen learned from TV, movies, comic books and rock & roll seem freaky and other worldly to anybody outside of myself but that's cool. Its what I believe and I have a right to it.
It works for me and it doesn't interfere with you believing whatever you believe in.
When a religion preaches that you have to give them money or you're not allowed to believe or that it preaches intolerance of another's beliefs it stops being a religion to me. It becomes something ugly that is only an excuse to hate.
Palin, when she's not slurring dogs is slurring people Halloween and slurring those people's rights to believe what they chose to believe. She has argued that her faith is the true faith and that others are wrong! She argues so fervently that it seems clear that she will not allow me to believe what I chose, nor will she allow you to have your own personal religion.
She calls herself a "hockey mom". Which, I guess, is some bastardization of soccer mom. I always thought of soccer mom as a pretty pejorative term. It implies a woman who has no interest in sports but doesn't mind schlepping her kids around because she gets to socialize with other pampered upper middle class and upper class women where they can sit around and kvetch about their husband's career. It also implies a woman who's world of experience is so shut down that they can't envision another world.
I never viewed it as a compliment. I don't know of any women who embrace the term, until now. In fact I know many woman who resent being called soccer moms. They think its degrading.
It looks like the Republicans are going to steal Gorgo the country from us and win the election. The rest of the world is amused or terrified. Unfortunately its our enemies who are amused and are friends and the neutral nations that are terrified.

Yesterday Apple released iTunes 8.
This is the worst piece of software Apple has ever released. It is draconian in the same way Microsoft is draconian. It is evil.
I'm not even talking about the way it begs for my complicity in sharing all my personal tastes and personality with them.
About 5 or 6 years ago, back in the days when OSX was called Jaguar, I think, Apple released an update that killed your internet connection! Not just mine but everyone who updated! I had to go to the public library and get the fix.
As ugly as that was most Apple users viewed it with wry amusement. We believed that Apple and its users were a team. This was just a mistake. We forgave and understood.
Then the iPod took off.
iTunes 8 is a cynical marketing ploy. Its contemptible.
One of the things I like about OSX is that its attractive, easy on the eyes, easy to work and concentrate without being overwhelmed with brutally ugly widgets and canvases.
iTunes 8 has decided that trying to trick me into impulse purchases is more important than me having my computer look the way I want it to look.
They've disabled some pretty basic functions. Some for no reason I can think of, some to turn iTunes into an advertising piece of spam.
Cabinet Of Dr Caligari
Click images for desktop size: "The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari"
Its unacceptable. By hacking around in the app I could get it looking presentable but then discovered that it renames all of my files and there is NO WAY to stop it. It does this for its convenience, not for mine. No way to keep my files named the way I want them named . . . how draconian. How Microsoft.
When this computer dies I will most likely get a much cheaper than Mac pc and run Ubuntu.
Apple is bending towards WalMart's ways and running the computers to the benefit of money and the iPhone. I bought the computer to work for me, not for them.
Oh, and there is no easy way to uninstall iTunes 8 and go back to iTunes 7. I know how to do it but I wonder if its worth the effort.
Nothing works better in iTunes 8. The only reason for the update was the Genius (!?!) bar and to add all the spam stuff.

Girls Girls Girls With all my carping you might not believe it but I had a good day yesterday.
I took my ebike to my appointment with the High School head coach. That was pleasant and fun.
The interview was less so. Nothing wrong with it but I have some questions that I never got the clear cut concise answers I wanted.
I'm being understanding. As usual I'm trying to be careful and not be too understanding. I'm trying not to let my eagerness cloud my judgement.
My phone just buzzed to tell me that I had to recharge the battery. In that moment I was totally rushed thinking it was "the call".
African Desert
Click images for desktop size: "African Desert" by Unknown
The main problem is that the school can't afford to hire pure football coaches. They have teachers who've volunteered for unpaid overtime . . . I've been there before.
Teachers have a different perspective on the kids then a coach does. They should. They have different responsibilities and, while they do share some common goals they also have different goals. My concern is that the overwhelming goal be to the benefit of the kids.
Now I just get to wait for my phone to recharge then I'm biking to the store to get a couple can's of dog food!
Life is good and interesting even if the outside world isn't.

September 3, 2008

Why didn't the Ramones have a horn section?
Or
Age is a degenerative disease

Old Baseball On The Grass
Click images for desktop size: "Old Baseball In The Grass" by Sandra Cunningham
I have a strange factoid: If USC were its own country (and there are plenty of people in LA, particularly on the West side, who already think we are) the Trojan athletes would have placed 13th in the medal standings at the Beijing Olympic Games and been tied for 8th in the Gold Medal standings.
I have no idea what that really signifies. It just seems cool. The past and present Trojans won 21 medals overall.
The Asphalt Jungle And I still wish USC was not ranked Number 1, at least not yet. I wanted Ohio State to come in with there uncompetitive schedule and be 7 point favorite. I want them at full strength so they couldn't offer up any more of their lame excuses when we throttle them. I hope we do beat them. I sort of like this years Men of Troy.

My friend went back to work today. I miss her a bit. I was rotten company on her 6 day weekend. I just kept feeling sicker and sicker. Its not that bad. Its really how I feel "normally" about three quarters of the time. I just didn't want to feel that way now.
We went and test drove cars today. She needs a new car. We can't come close to affording one but it was fun driving new ones.
We looked primarily at Hyundai's - The Tucson and the Santa Fe (plenty of room for dogs). And the Kia. I thought the Kia felt kind of tinny. The Nissan X-Trail was too big and kind of oppressive looking to me.
For the final dinner we grilled p two salmon steaks she marinated in some sort of glaze-y teriyaki sauce. We had them with wild rice. There was nothing to be cynical about while we ate.
Spiderman
Click images for desktop size: "Spiderman" by Marvel Comics
We watched the great dog movie, "Soldier In The Rain". Its a cool movie that is inexplicably not available on DVD. I got a hold of a TV capture that was pretty low Q. The movie is so cool it doesn't need a great copy to be wonderful.
Watched intermittently the documentary about Hunter Thompson "Gonzo". Interesting stuff.
It made me sad that the country has ended up in exactly the state that a drunken, drugged out madman brilliant writer predicted. It was so easy to for see, and we let it happen anyway.
This Sarah Palin fiasco could not have been for seen. What a vile mess. And its been less than a week.
This woman wanted to BAN BOOKS!! She condemns to hell those who think differently than her. She abuses the power of her office for personal vindictive reasons and then because she wriggled through a legal loop hole she behaves like a career criminal Andy Warhol's Dracula and takes her "alleged" offenses even further. Actually, unless they were making good money most career criminals would have enough sense to walk away from a crime if they were lucky to walk away from it on a technicality. It takes a sociopath to continue on the same mad path, a sociopath with psychotic delusions of grandeur who would think that their wrong actions are excused by divine right.
McCain is an idiot but even he should know he needs to ask her to step down. The damage will clearly only increase.
Obama has behaved well throughout all this. He impressed me here. If only he believed in freedom and personal liberty I could vote for him. As it is I have to consider him as just the lesser of two evils.
I can't believe that none of the third party candidates have stepped up and clearly made a stand about all this insane stupid folderol. That they haven't makes them look even less attractive.
I might have to vote for Obama just to keep the country out of the mad man McCain's hands. People elected Bush. There are enough cowards to elect McCain and his hate filled savage Alaskan.
This morning I woke up to discover my iMac was having a system crash.
A corrupt coreservicesd file someplace. I rebuilt the launch services and tried everything else I could think of. So far it seems to be holding.
Very fatiguing.
I would suspect the dogs of sabotaging the computer. They did get an extra long walk today while I let the system files install and update.
I realized that there sabotage would include more bite marks. So I have to blame the guys up in Cupertino . . .
Who is Apple supporting in the election? Why?

August 8, 2008

You can't keep a good man down unless you hit him really hard

Before The Storm By Vaclav Krivnek
Click images for desktop size: "Before The Storm" by Vaclav Krivnek
I learned computer on Macintosh. We used them for sound controllers and digital recordings in the studio. We also used Excel on them, back when Excel was Mac only.
I got frustrated with Mac for some pretty silly reasons I don't even recall and got a 386 Windows PC. It was madness but I'd spent the money. It did a good version of a Mac especially when playing Sim City. I didn't mind Lotus 1-2-3 and Text Adventure games were an okay diversion.
Cleopatra PC clones really couldn't compare to the hardware that Apple churned out. But Apple stuck to that dull one button mouse. It was easier to work in Black & White on Mac. The color was sort of dreary, even compared to VGA. So I went along with Windows up through Windows 95.
I messed around with Linux. I liked it but the sound recording and editing apps left a lot to be desired. Sound was a hassle in general.
Then along came BeOs. I loved it. I had to dual boot so I could use Sound Forge in Windows. Everything else I did in BeOs and smiled.
I understand how Microsoft fan boys can happen. You spend so much time learning how to make the computer work so it will do some mundane task that you get high faluting ideas about yourself. You think you're an expert. Linux was cool for somethings, especially scripting and some light programming but BeOs, I just did my work and didn't worry about anything else. It just worked.
The built in file indexing meant I never lost another file. Every chore was easy and working was just that, working, not crashing out, not dying Reveries By Maxfield Parrish
Click images for desktop size: "Reveries" by Maxfield Parrish
and wiping out hours of work. I even loved getting error messages. They were always an thoughtful haiku.
Microsoft got busted big time for illegally destroying BeOs. They had to pay a huge fine that they didn't even appeal.
I wandered along with BeOs for a while but with no new development it seemed pretty futile. So I switched to Windows XP. I thought it was a huge kludge joke. It basically corrected the total ineptness of the Windows ME world and was hailed as . . . the solution.
I hated it.
A fellow named Scott something or other was the huge prophet for BeOs. He was a writer and programmer. He wrote some coolness scripts for mp3's for BeOs that I adored.
I read an article he wrote lamenting the passing of BeOs and guardedly suggesting that the new Mac OSX while not as complete as BeOs came close, making up for its shortcomings with some advantages (java support for one).
Voyage Of The Rock Aliens I got an iMac and gradually began to accept it. For music it had improved. For graphics it was tres cool. I feel in love with it when I got my 12 inch Power Book, that still runs well today.
I never looked back. Then the iPod became a huge cash cow, then the iPhone then . . .
When I got my new iMac (mostly as a gift), it came with a Mighty Mouse. The mighty Mouse is a beautiful looking thing. Apple's first TWO button mouse. The little scroll ball is a pleasure to use . . . for a while.
For some asinine reason Apple designed the Mighty Mouse in the same over priced disposable mode as their iPod. The problem is that the little scroll ball gets clogged quickly and easily. Even constant cleaning of your hands can't prevent it. Suddenly you can't scroll anymore.
Apple knows this happens. They have a web page devoted to cleaning the little scroll ball. it relieves the issue for a few days and then its back. No scrolling.
The cleaning process isn't that easy and its too stop gap. When you search the web the solutions for cleaning the little scroll ball are insane. One guy says he gets good results by filling the mouse with denatured alcohol and then whipping it around his head to clear out the gunk!
The other modes are insane and involve a few hours of bisecting flimsy plastic parts (and praying you can reassemble them and glue them well enough to work and not look too ugly) in order to clean the little rollers.
Apple clearly knows this is an issue. They're ignoring it.
As the Mighty Mouse runs about eighty bucks shipped this hardly seems like a disposable gadget. Considering I can get a logitech that's ugly and not as comfortable but WORKS for less than 20 bucks it seems either Blue Morning By Shifted Reality
Click images for desktop size: "Blue Morning" by Shifted Reality
ridiculous or of the same arrogance that Microsoft has shown over the years. The get what you get and shut up attitude.
I've got two Mighty Mouses (Mice??) and I swap back and forth between them and then swap to the logitech when I get too frustrated.
With Apple's refusal to come down in price, the proliferation of iPods and iPhones and the increasing shoddiness of their supposedly high end line I notice that Ubuntu is free and looking better and better.

I've been getting castigated (even by adults) for not updating my puppy's web site. It's hard. For 10 months my puppy, my little blind dog and I were a trio. We had adventures together. Real adventures that fascinated the two of them, me and the kids who read her web site. We were going to have a big adventure hunting lions at the Lion's County Safari near us when the little dog passed away.
1935 - a night at opera2xs.jpg My puppy is doing fine she's still laughing and telling me bad dog jokes but its hard for me to get the joyousness that the little kids deserve and sometimes need.
Checking the logs her website normally averages 40,000 visitors a month. Its fallen to about 25,000 right now. I'm touched that a few thousand people are still watching the little movie about the little blind dog.
I'm working on it. Honest. I have to take the pictures and get into the mood. I'll try.
My friend has still been working insane hours. The 4 days lost to the Windows crash made her miss her deadline by one day. Still, she's closer than anyone else. I miss having her around.
Tomorrow the giant dog gets bathed and clipped. He's such a mess and his coat so heavy as to defy the consumer quality clippers that he gets to go to the groomer.
Its a car ride. All by himself. He'll be so pleased until he sees where we're going.
Totally stoked to watch all the videos of USC practices. I'm shocked at how well the defense is playing and even more shocked at how good the offense looks!
So far Mark Sanchez looks like the hype that surrounded him coming out of high school was less than he deserved. The O-Line makes mistakes but they are so fast its staggering! Speed can correct a lot of mistakes. Since they're almost all freshmen and the one returning starter is on the bench the unit is becoming less of a worry to me.
Twenty two days until Virginia. I can hardly wait.
I'm holding on well. Some pain but not so bad that I can't resist loading up on pain killers. Who could ask for more than that.

July 27, 2008

I said a prayer and played the jukebox
Anthony Gourdine

Unknown
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Unknown
I found some work. Its walking a dog for two days.
I like the dog plenty, a graying black mutt with happy blue eyes and a big desire to play. I don't like the woman who hired me. She's watching the dog for the owners who are in hospital. I probably would have liked them.
Prehistoric Women The woman described the owners as an "older couple". As in, she couldn't understand why an "older couple" got such a young dog . . . The little thing has to be at least 12. That's not young for a dog, even if the pup is spry and happy.
I used the money to buy some household necessities. That felt all right.
The woman who hired me left me notes I had to sign and date stamp . . . and there were spies noting my coming and going. I do wonder why they'd spy on me instead of just offering to take the dog out. He's a sweet thing and no trouble at all.
I didn't have keys to the house. She left the dog in a pen in the yard. Its a nice pen with plenty of water and shade plus a nice old school dog house. So it doesn't bother me too much that he has to spend time there. She still cried when I left her.
This lack of trust was something I hadn't counted on when I started running the ad. Thinking about it there really is no reason to trust me. Although I do think that offering to walk your dog would be a weird way to gain access as a house breaker.
Bonsai by Le Revant
Click images for desktop size: "Bonsai" by Le Revant
I guess I either have to get to know more people for references or buy a bond or something. Both aren't bad ideas. I'll have to see if I can make more money to justify the bond. If I get enough customers to justify it I probably won't need it (the bond, I mean).
I'm tired. More from all the walking. It's like nearly two miles there. I wade it in 20 minutes, which is good but I ended up drenched in sweat by the time I got home. Really harsh big drop soak your shirt sweat. I'll recover.

On the home front I hacked the AppleTV. Not as complicated as it sounds. My main reason for doing this was to recover the stuff on the AppleTV that was lost when the PowerBook HD crashed.
For whatever reason Apple decided that the AppleTV would only sync one way. I suspect that was to keep people from sharing music and movies. Its the requirement for the iPods so it seems logical. Except the iPod is so ubiquitous that there are plenty of apps to let you recover your music from the iPod (I like Senuti - its free and does the job well Niagra and easily. Senuti doesn't even let you accidentally duplicate tracks or overwrite songs with old versions.)
Unfortunately there's no software to do the same thing for the AppleTV. So they only solution was to hack the thing. The hack enables SSH communication between the computer and the AppleTV. This is cool because I can now download all the lost music and photo's back to the PowerBook.
What isn't cool is that I can't figure out how to copy directories across a network so the files have to be dragged across one at a time, virtually. This is tedious but preferable to losing all that stuff.
The hack has a couple of other things I didn''t think I'd care about. One of them is to use SSH to put Xvid files on the AppleTV. It plays them flawlessly! This is handy for those oddball flics I want to see but have no desire to keep. It takes about 3 minutes to upload an Xvid avi to the AppleTV as compared to the four hours needed to convert it to avc.
The hack also allows for "Couch Surfing". Which I can't figure out the "why" for. Its a pain to input url's using the virtual keyboard and the Apple remote, but I looked at it anyway.
To install the hack was pretty no-brainer stuff. Its just formatting a memory stick, putting it in the USB port of the AppleTV and rebooting it.
The best thing is that the hack does nothing to harm the old functions of the AppleTV. I went into this with the attitude of do or die. I'd either get all the stuff of the machine or I'd lose it all. So leaving the data and old functions untouched is a real killer find for me.
It looks like the hack does it by Vampi by Frank Frazetta
Click images for desktop size: "Vampi" by Frank Frazetta
setting up a separate directory that leaves everything else untouched. This also means you can play with it pretty safely.
I'm happy with it.

I'm also happy as I got a very early birthday present. A cell phone. Its a pay as you go. You have to love that an impoverished guy has a cell phone.
With my serious iPod addiction I'll probably never hear it ring. Since I usually keep my cell phones in my back pack odds are I'll never feel it vibrate either . . .
Most of you are used to me never answering my phone and no matter how frustrated you get with me, you still call. Thanks for that.
Now there's a new shiny way for me to be rude to my friends . . .
I'm very happy about it and with it.

July 17, 2008

Just give me raw power
Iggy Stooge

I'm Melting by Janet Tangus
Click images for desktop size: "I'm Melting" by Janet Tangus
I didn't find any money yesterday.
I did get to change shirts twice. Sweated through a cotton button down and two T-shirts. Too hot for me. People always think that LA is hot. It's not. Its just fine.
My friend is feeling "improved" which I think is the same as better, but I wouldn't count on that. Last night she finally played with the AppleTV. I Dismember Mama She discovered Jack White on YouTube. She was particularly taken with the Raconteurs' version of Cher's "Bang Bang". The Raconteurs version seemed more based on the Nancy Sinatra cover than the original.
I was just glad to see her having fun and being excited by her various discoveries.
There's a band I love that a lot of people seem to hate: Guitar Wolf. They have a lot of videos on YouTube as well. There's one in particular "I Love You, OK". Its a solo, just Guitar Wolf (The band is Guitar Wolf, the members are Guitar Wolf, Bass Wolf and Drum Wolf - keeps things simple, doesn't it?) on electric guitar rasping and growling through a vicious number that I guess is a love song. He sings it in Japanese so I can't really say for certain.
As Guitar Wolf slams his guitar around and growls in a controlled apoplectic fit at the mike the song always appears about to disintegrate into low level noise but he fights and wrestles it back to the pounding chords and the inchoate melody so that the chorus, "I love you, OK" floats between being a demand to an insane plea. I like the way he fights to control himself, the guitar and his voice. It gets close to a Lichtstenian ideal of art. To me at least. Most people just wonder how I can put up with all that white noise guitar and screeching. I can. I do. I like it plenty.
I've always liked Guitar Wolf. I even liked their movie: "Wild Zero". It was an insane bit of film made for no budget. It swiped the plot from "Plan 9 From Outer Space". Yes, that "Plan 9" worst film ever made, "Plan 9".
The plot is that an alien invasion is presaged by converting earthlings into the living dead, ZOMBIES FROM SPACE!
Guitar Wolf aren't even the real heroes. The hero is a Japanese kid who wears leather and dresses like Elvis. He wants to be Guitar Wolf, the entire band.
There's a beautiful drag queen, a beautiful ninja warrior, a crazed club owner with a penchant for wearing hot pants, and enough gore and zombie head explosions to satisfy the most jaded zombie freak out there (like me). There's also plenty of Guitar Wolf music, J-Pop and the band driving around Japan raising their fists defiantly to the alien space ships and shouting their war cry "lock and lor". Its a great ultra low budget movie. If Guitar Wolf hadn't done anything else I'd have become a fan. As it is they've done nothing to disgrace the image.
Robert Crumb
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Robert Crumb
I've always like Japanese rock. I lost my collection of Shonen Knife with the hard drive crash. Thy started me into it. Then The 5-6-7-8's got famous when Tarentino exploited them for Kill Bill. They were the coolest thing in the movie, dressed in gold Dragon Lady dresses and bare feet slapping out the beat of "Woo Hoo". They've always been pretty big in Japan. I like their covers, like "Wooly Bully" is a hoot and their take on Tommy James' "Hanky Panky" is enthusiastically original.
There's a great Japanese compilation album called "My Summer Love". It features a couple dozen of the best female hard rock/punk bands in the country. It some how always strays into J-Pop territory, which is fine by me. There are plenty of good to great tracks on the disc. For me the most atypical is The Pebbles doing "I Love You Baby". Everything you need to know about I Drink Your Blood - I Eat Your Skin The Pebbles and most of the girl groups in Japan is all right there in the sound waves. If you have any unanswered questions you can clear them up with a fast listen to The Bunnies cover of "Let's Dance". For me this is high art becasue its intended to me nothing but fun and a reminder of the joy of being young.
The Japanese compilation brings to mind that classic USA comp, "Now Just The Girls". The American's are more driving and wear their influences a whole lot more subtly but they have a base iconography that's pure bliss. Candypants doing "Nerdy Boys" has more in common with The Bunnies and Jan and Dean than Metallica and I approve.

I'm not going to look for money today. Too hot for me. My blood is too thin and used to dry heat. The kind of heat that dehydrates all these bugs!
We need money but the situation is serious and not desperate.
There's no danger of having no home. The bills are paid. The mortgage is current. That just doesn't leave any free room for luxuries like food. I don't drink so that's cool and I loaded up on a coupon item so I've plenty of Diet Dr Pepper so I can feel like I'm drinking like the rich.

Its been a month today that my little blind dog passed away.
I still check under the chair to make sure I don't roll it over him when I get up. I still miss him huffing behind me following me everywhere I go. Getting mad at me for not just sitting down and staying put for a while.
I'm taking the 3 dogs on a walk to the post office. I miss how excited he'd always get even when he was walking into telephone poles.
I wish he'd come back.

July 1, 2008

It takes a lot of lights to make a city
Raymond Chandler

Bird in Branches
Click images for desktop size: "Bird In Branches" by Unknown
Its going to be a beautiful day today.
The sun is bright. It won't be too warm. The air is cleansed by the storms.
The house still beats empty. The loss of the little blind dog is still keenly felt.
The absence of vivacious house guests and an extra tentative puppy is still noticeable.
Infra-Man Th constant explosions of fireworks and mini-bombs still has the pack in a constant state of ill ease. The Gentle dog put himself in the bathroom and even closed the door to shut out both the silence and the explosions.
Still, its going to be a beautiful day today.

Beautiful day means I finally get to do some laundry. The dryer is busted. It was mangling clothes. Really mangling and ripping them apart. Now have to do the old clothesline trick.
Drying clothes in the sun isn't that big of a pain. Main thing is having to remember to put clothes softener in. Clothes dry really stiffly on the outside in nature. Fabric softener reduces that to a tolerable level.
The biggest issue, especially in a house filled with dogs, is no lint removal!
It feels like a "rich man's complaint" carping about having to haul clothes around and clip them to a rope. It could be worse. It just feels strange having my rigid schedules dictated by something as arbitrary as sunshine and nature.
You all know its my rigid schedules that let me cope with the fluid unpredictable world. So this feels different . . .

Yesterday was not eventful. Well, it was the way life has a way of always being eventful
I have a doc appointment tomorrow. Just a physical. Had to get ready for that. Two days in advance . . . I LIKE rigid schedules!
I have to eat muesli. I don't like it much but I got to eat it sometimes. One of the nuts wedged against a tooth, one of the loose teeth I've been fighting to preserve . . . mainly out of vanity.
Coagulation by dDefinder
Click images for desktop size: "Coagulation" by dDefinder
It wedged and bent it. The tooth still in in there. It looks jagged and like it should be wearing braces. It looked bad before but now it looks worse and its uncomfortable.
I still don't want to just let it fall out. I don't think I can tolerate losing another part of me, even one so small. And because its in front . . .
I thought muesli was supposed to be good for me.
The giant dog disappointed. Not really. I think he was tired of hearing how good and trustworthy he'd become. He stole a bag of dried banana chips from the table and ate them. Didn't make him sick. I guess that's alright. His breath smells like monkey's.
My puppy is clamouring for an adventure. Fortunately her idea of adventure is going to the park and maybe getting pizza!
Low expectations are usually pretty easy for me to fulfill. Its the real stuff that gives me a problem.
Watched a couple of movies. Generally amusing Invasion of the Saucer Menwas "Godzilla and Mothera: Battle For The Earth". It was cool because it focused on all these serious environmental issues. The earth was attacking, well, the earth, because of insane developers and fossil fuels! It had great lines in it like, "The Planet Earth is trying to destroy us because of our arrogance!"
Why the Planet Earth chose a giant moth who shoots laser beams as its agent of destruction is some speculation to avoid.
The watched a rather dreary Japanese "Battle Royale" rip off - "Kill Devil". It was pointless. Still it had two scenes that I liked a lot. One made no sense. Two guys we'd never seen before (or after) are in a cell and start to do a beat box rap and dance. It was stunningly impressive.
Then after everyone in the film is dead . . . how dreary . . . they somehow come back to life to end the movie with a totally out of place 7 minute dance routine. The dancing was modern ballet and hyper-cool. I just have no idea what it was intended to mean.
Finally. I installed the new MacOSX update: Ruslane Korshunova
Click images for desktop size: "Ruslane Korshunova" by Unknown
Leopard 10.5.4. This appears to be more in getting Mac's ready for the 2nd gen iPhone, so I had moderate interest. I've been running it for 12 hours and it seems fine. I don't notice anymore extra stability, but its not crashing or giving me the spinning beach ball so it seems okay. I did notice it gives you some extra and welcome information when your repairing permissions (something I guess you're supposed to do every/any time you update the OS) but nothing flashy or insanely cool.
I'm more interested in the upcoming iTunes. I'm hoping it gets more stable and uses less memory while holding more securely to the networking with the AppleTV.
Just have to see.
And still a bit concerned over network and internet security in general. Since the WordPress site got hacked I had an inexplicable invasion on the iMac. Still studying that.
So, now its time to remark: Its going to be a beautiful day.

June 28, 2008

We're real big in Japan

She Did It Here
Click images for desktop size: "She Did It Here" by Anonymous
The house feels empty.
House guests are gone. My little blind dog is still gone. No canine resurrection.
Girls, Guns And Gangsters
The visit was nothing but fun, except for the mad and scrupulous house cleaning that proceeded it . . . and the scary StarBucks Incident!
When my friends touched down I met them with my puppy. At first her brother and she were glad to meet then he tried to mount her (dominance mounting, not sexual - they're both neutered) and she snapped at him. Her brother took that pretty seriously.
We drove back to the house so her brother could meet the other two dogs. After the 12 hour drive to a new world I guess her brother needed to feel in control of his life again. He got nippy with the Giant Dog who snapped back. The Gentleman dog decided this was all a lot of fun and joined in! It only lasted a second but it seemed to have embedding into her brother's engrams.
We took a walk together. For some reason I had to walk all three dogs . . . and the trio and my puppy's brother were all just fine. But he stayed wary of the three of them for the rest of the visit.
We went home and got presents! Nothing better than a guest bearing gifts! I got vital supplies and my puppy got treats and MORE treats.
My puppy thinks anyone with treats and food is doubly privileged. They not only get to look upon her but feed her as well. My puppy loves her food.
We started the next morning with a visit to StarBucks. It wasn't StarBucks fault, really. I got a Vanilla Latte with skim milk and sugar free vanilla. It hit my system all wrong. I've had it happen in the past with different foods and drugs so it wasn't terrifying but it makes things uncomfortable for me.
Its the feeling that your whole body is hollow, ringingly achingly so. It feels most uncomfortable in your head and in your thorax. Its maddening.
Skylines By Turi
Click images for desktop size: "Skylines" by Turi
Before it got too bad we checked out a nearby pet store that someone had recommended but that I'd never been in before. They had FREE FOOD SAMPLES. I love free samples.
I spoke briefly with the store owner. She had some pictures she'd just printed out of her dogs, including one that had just passed away. She wasn't prepared to see the picture of her dog and got misty. She couldn't control it.
I plan to try and shop there.
The rest of the day was a bit blurry for me. We must have walked a lot. We had lunch and I remember some well meaning nagging about what I ate, but I don't remember what we ate.
I do remember dinner. My friend is a cool chef and he made a Carnival Of Shrimp Redux. Not as wonderful as the original Carnival Of Shrimp but still very memorable in its own right. The grilled shrimp and vegetables cut right through my haze.
Gigantis The dogs appeared to have a calm truce mode going on. My three behaved as usual but my puppy's brother stayed diffident and overtly cautious around the three of them. Once he tried to play with his sister but when the other two showed an interest he backed off and went into slunk mode.
We went to bed too late. I woke the next day feeling no better. As the day progressed the haze parted enough for me to feel irritable. Some of you know what I mean, its that time when you swear you can feel the air molecules driving painfully into your skin. The hollowness lingers but the joints become real solid feeling and painful.
We went to a farmer's market, flea market sort of thing. I remember that there were a lot of Irish Mennonites there. For some reason it struck me as odd. I liked the lyrical Irish accent while they were hawking their fruit and vegetables.
After the flea market we went to the town. It was a huge effort to stay erect. My hips were screaming as were my shoulders and arms.
I did notice that there were a lot of interesting styles to the Mennonite carriages in the town. Some were junkers, some were limousines, even saw a two horse racing style buggy and a tiny buggy that looked more like a coffin then a mode of transportation. I wondered if the driver was shy or hated the world. There were only small slits for vision and I guess ventilation. All of the buggies were painted a monotonous flat black. They looked dingy against the bright sunny sky. Not secular or spartan just dingy.
Aladdin by Maxfield Parrish
Click images for desktop size: "Aladdin" by Maxfield Parrish
I don't remember what else we did that day and evening. I could feel my body coming back to me. Like a leg thats cramped and fallen asleep it wakening made me irritable and hostile and resentful. No reason for it except the chemicals that make me be alive I guess.
I do remember being concerned about my puppy's brother. My Giant Dog was becoming very enamored of him in a very positive way. While the two of them attempted to play anytime that the other two tried to join in her brother would scurry back into the house. I found this distressing.
I woke up the next day and felt more like myself but still nasty and irritable. Very black thoughts. Heck, maybe nasty and irritable is my old self.
We went to a forest preserve to walk the pack. It was fun.
All the dogs got along splendidly united in their mutual desire to good naturedly kill me.
It was a long hot walk but I felt much better for it. We saw a turtle and a toad, which are highlights grand enough to make mine or any dog's week.
Heat Wave That evening my friends all sounded like they were having a world of fun making gluten free perogis. Perogis are Polish kind of like raviolis. They were up until 3. It sounded like they were having fun. I sat in the office fiddling about, not doing much of anything except recovering and talking to the dogs who kept coming to check on me, or who wanted me to get up and give them some sample perogis. It was definitely one or the other.
I slept well that night. The next day we went to the near by big city. Scoped out about a mile of outlet stores and the area China Town.
I like big cities. I like looking at people and seeing buses and traffic. It was okay. I was surprised when they found me shops selling Asian DVD's 10 for 20 dollars and as I looked through the racks I discovered I had all of them already . . .
That evening we enjoyed the Festival Of Perogis. They were different than the ones I remembered. But they were okay and it was easy to enjoy all the enjoyment around me. Everybody was cranked over them. My friend especially. She'd been waiting 11 years to have perogis again. They talked a lot about gluten free dough and such. The dogs kept offering to try them and give their opinion . . .
Our guest, the chef, only had one serving. He said he wanted to save the rest for my friend. She was touched by that.
The little memorial for my little blind dog showed up. Its a book of photo's is all, hard bound Untamed Love by Frank Frazetta
Click images for desktop size: "Untamed Love" by Frank Frazetta
with a pretty dust cover.
iPhoto has a very idiot proof button to push that will take a group of selected photos and arrange them within a template.
I use Aperture (although I usually use Lightroom - Adobe supports my inexpensive RAW shooting Fuji and Apple doesn't!! Apple supports RAW files natively, but each camera manufacturer has their own secret spec. Apple only bothers with the RAW formats in the 800 bucks and up class) and it gives a tighter control over the templates and design of the thing, even allowing you to go outside of the app to tweak and twiddle.
My friend didn't want to look at it. This disappointed me but makes sense. I needed the catharsis of creating it of dreaming about my little blind dog. She needs the space to deal with her own grief.
I checked the book through and it looks very well done. It looks slick and professional and exactly like the pdf file I laid out. It seemed expensive at the time, but only because we're so poor. In hand it feels very much worth it. For me at least it will be a place to always know my little blind dog exists.
House of Dracula Memories are not life but memories are sometimes all that survives. The little 20 page book should do that: make the memories real.
And then it was time for our guests to leave. Maybe they didn't like sleeping in the closet . . . well, it is the only room we have!
All the dogs were getting along. The giant dog had a new best friend and decided he loved our guests. All the dogs were sad to see them leave. It was too soon. My Giant Dog was committed to stowing away and visiting his best-est friends. Luckily he's pretty inept at everything except laughing and being big so he didn't quite pull it off.
So now the house feels twice as empty for everyone. The fireworks have already started so the pups are on edge. The storms and the heat are uncomfortable but for me, at least, feels better than whatever is in a "skinny sugar-free latte".
I liked having friends around. I don't even mind them leaving so long as they keep on being.

June 14, 2008

The girl is not guilty with me
John Twist

Velocity By Jon Vic
Click images for desktop size: "Velocity" by Jan Vic
The weekend.
My friend got out of of seminar so she got an extra day off. We had fun. We cooked mee krob together.
If you don't know mee krob involves deep frying rice noodles and stuff. All the oil made me sort of sick but it was still enjoyable as was the whole day. The Wild Angels Sometimes its nice to have a day where very little is accomplished and all there is is peace.
She got to play some on her resuscitated Powerbook. Mucho disappointment over all that was lost. Tempered with the vague thrill of, "Now I'll set this thing up right!"
One thing she's doing that I like is turning all of her dock and folder icons into "Pooch Cafe" icons. Poncho is tres cool. For Safari (Mac's web browser) she even found a surfing Poncho!
Even though the Powerbook doesn't have enough juice to run Leopard, Tiger (OSX 10.4.11 - I love goonie numbers) is still very rock solid and robust.
She's having some fun.
I also spent the day doing storm recovery work. This basically was picking up dog feces and throwing things at trees to knock the fallen branches free so they don't fall and whack a dog in its noggin.
I had the iPod on and realized I'm out of new music. That's not a bad thing at all. It means that I get to listen to a whole lot of my favorites, songs I neglected in my fear of missing the next great tune.
I like pop. I like bubblegum a lot. Bubblegum was a 60's kind of music dedicated to making the little girls scream and shout. Its the same energy the Pice Girls tried to callously and shallowly politicize with their bogus "Girl Power" trip.
The Ramones did a few klazzik bubble gum covers! Did them well too.
No one has ever covered the 1910 Fruitgum Company's "The Train". I like the track a lot. Alongside The Rare Breed's "Beg Borrow And Steal" you get a decent image of bubblegum and an interesting view of how the 60's viewed women in the throes of the dawn of feminism. Meaning they ignored it so well they made sure it was inevitable.
Women's Figure
Click images for desktop size: "Women's Figure"
Of course any "movement" in music had its follower's who barely had a clue of what the sound was all about. The nice thing about bubble gum was that the genre is itself was so vacuous that even its most vapid practitioners could produce cool, catchy little bouncy numbers, like Daddy Dewdrop's "Chick A Boom" and The Buchanan Brothers "Medicine Man". Songs that had no pretensions other than to make people dance about and earn a few dollars are always welcome in my book.
Part of bubble gum's appeal is how nuts it made the hippies with its crass commercialism and how furious it made the "serious" players who were envious of the genre's wide play and popularity. Most of those serious musicians I knew were into playing authentic blues . . . singing about their life picking cotton in the LA River Delta . . . I guess.
Its fun seeing someone dead serious get spluttery and red faced about something that is by its own definition totally insubstantial.
And there's always surf music. Yellow Submarine Paul Johnson's DuoTones project is still awesome. Johnson was one of the originals. His "Mr Moto" is an awesome klazzik tune. But what he does with the old surf standard "Baja" is a tour de force.
I've known a lot of good guitarists who couldn't get the sync between right and left hand playing and palm muting working on this tune. I've even seen a couple of guitarists rig a mute out of a handkerchief to avoid having to contend with this trickiness and this was on ELECTRIC guitars with skinny necks, low action and slinky strings! That Johnson does it on an acoustic steel string is a frightening testament to virtuosity.
Today I predict a good day. Rotten weather but a good day.
I got some coupons in the mail. Big sales at THREE different pet stores!! Okay, I think shopping for dog toys is valid and IMPORTANT FUN!
Then my friends parents invited us to dinner! FREE FOOD justifies spending money on puppy toys!
Then there's that coupon for half off "Glow In The Dark" miniature golf . . .

June 13, 2008

You sing beautifuly but no one has a voice like Zorro!
Basil Dearden

The Bride Of Frankenstein
Click images for desktop size: "The Bride Of Frankenstein" by Universal Studios
Friday the 13th started off with a power outage . . .
It crashed my network badly and I've spent over 5 hours restoring it. Of course, I could have done it in about an hour or less but I made a mistake and called customer service.
Jeanne D'Arc Even that's not completely their fault. I blanked on the fact that the reason I hate my Linksys router is that every time there's a quick blackout, a second or less, it wipes out all the settings even though it makes it appear as if the settings are all there.
The end result was I reset everything to its factory defaults and started from point zero. That sorted everything out fine.
That's my other complaint with Linksys. Every time I get incredibly frustrated with the router I end up getting it fixed and then I forget about replacing it until the next time . . .
We did cancel the old ISP.
Amazingly the new marketing practice in America is to wait until you cancel a service then offer it to you again at the price you possibly should have been paying. They offered to lower the price to 35 bucks a month if we didn't cancel . . . that's still twice as much as we're paying now . . .
The restoration of The Powerbook Hard Drive continues apace. It feels desolate, like trying to see what can be salvaged from the fire.
The oddest thing is that music stored on the Apple TV can't be used to restore a crashed HD.
I don't think I like the implication of that at all. I blame the RIAA.
The weekend promises to be better.
Been invited for a free early dinner. Got coupons for doggie stuff and a half price round of indoor glow in the dark miniature golf.
I hope it uses black light and that full price is less than 5 bucks.

June 11, 2008

So long and thanks for all the fish
Note from the dolphins on hearing of the end of the world ~Douglas Adams

Home
Click images for desktop size: "Home" by Unknown
Its been a bad past few days. Maybe not that bad but hard to know that at the time.
One of the near disasters was the old G4 12' Inch Powerbook had a nasty hard drive issue. The "Invalid symlink" error.
The prescribed methods of fixing it didn't work. Eventually the HD wouldn't boot. It wouldn't even boot off of the CD drive . . .
Revenge Of The Dead By hooking the Powerbook to the iMac with the Firewire cable (Apple is moving towards discarding Firewire ports which is scary. They offer a lot more than USB 2. Speed shouldn't be the only concern. And Firewire is still faster!) I was able to access the Powerbooks dead HD. There was nothing I could do to get any of the data (and no backups!) so the only thing left was to try and reformat the drive. I was lucky. I was able to reformat it and re-install Tiger.
I've been using the FileSalvage app to try and get back as much data as possible. About 50% roughly speaking . . . all with names like 1057.jpg, or 6572.m4a . . .
I bought the Powerbook years ago. It cost about two grand so you can tell how old it is by the sheer fact I could actually afford 2 grand. When it comes close to death I suddenly feel a pang. I realize how attached and fond I am of the little machine.
I gave it to my friend a couple of years ago. I guess it shows how fond I am of her as well. She's used it as her everyday ever since, after a lifetime of Windows machines she has learned to love the Mac with a fervor that matches my own and she also looks fondly at the little 12" inch G4 Powerbook.
Long may it live.
Then this morning I awoke to find an e-mail from the hosting service.
They had terminated this domain due to violation of terms of service . . . Bluehost was very quick in responding to me.
The WordPress installation had been hacked and the hacker had inserted a php attacking virus, hence the need to shut it down ASAP.
I was not so upset not to be impressed that they had found the hack so quickly.
Reclining Nude By Edward Hopper
Click images for desktop size: "Reclining Nude" by Edward Hopper
The only part of the site I run on WordPress was the old blog, "The Long Goodbye". It was very popular even though I hadn't updated it in nearly 2 years. I had plans to put a couple of things up so I updated to the latest version of WordPress, version 2.5.
I just found out that 2.5 had 3 major security holes and that millions of them were hacked within the first week of installation. I could have updated to the recent WordPress 2.5.1 which repairs the holes but it seemed more expedient to simply delete the thing.
Its another reason to prefer MovableType. I prefer perl to php and even if I find php more confusing than cgi I'm alone in that. Most of the kiddie hackers get bewildered by perl. I've no idea why that is. I guess it the same reason that most of the attacks servers seem to withstand are directed at Windows servers and fail against Mac and linux servers.
Anyway, the sites back up (obviously).
Then yesterday I saw that the cat was spassing out. I figured she was close to death. Earth VS The Flying Saucers I sat with her while she trembled and stared blankly.
She's an old cat. I don't like cats. No reason. I just don't. Even if they like me first.
I also don't think any living thing deserves to die alone or rolling in the mud. I'm not that tough. So I gathered her up in a towel and sat with her.
She put up with it and kept staring blankly and trembling.
My friend said to call the vet and see about euthanasia. They wanted about 300 dollars for the task . . . the Humane society only wanted seventy five . . . it seems a sick sort of thing to make such a huge profit off of.
It also went some way to explaining why so many people dump ill pets off at the shelter knowing they'll be put down. I don't recall how much I was charged the last time I had to have a pet put down. Its too traumatic an event for me to recall that sort of trivial detail.
Anyway being poor might have been a salvation. Under my friends tender ministrations the cat made it through the night. She's moving around. Wobbly but alert and jumping about some. Even eating.
Then there was the major upset.
I suddenly realized how vulnerable I am. Which is ironic because the upset was caused primarily by insecurity and pride.
Stupid pride.
One thing about us people things . . . well, its one thing to be able to look at yourself and see yourself as you are, to look at yourself and know your strengths, weakness, ills and secrets. Untitled by Dark Art
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Dark Art
Its something different to have another person know all those things and accept you and love you. We all say we want that but what I've noticed is that we always want the person to love that idealized image we tend to carry of ourselves.
Its hard when someone knows all your secrets, "even the secrets you don't know they know" and still loves you.
That's trivializing things some but my brain has been exploding too much to be more exact.
Brain exploding and too much to do. I guess that's another definition of life. Its like the grass growing taller while you try and figure out how to fix the lawn mower.

June 6, 2008

Its heating up down there

End Of Daze by Envy
Click images for desktop size: "End Of Daze" by Envy
A couple of weeks a go we found a robin's nest in one of the trees. The bird built the thing at about my chest height . . . There were 3 eggs in it. Pretty pale blue things.
I thought at the time that this was no good but urban myth says you can't touch or move a bird's nest.
Last week the nest was there but the eggs were gone. I felt deprived.
Stupid bird.

Untamed Mistress The new internet provider is now on board. They claim it was up and working since the 31st . . . I have no idea how they figured I would know this.
Anyway, it took me the full day to get everything up and running. By paying a year in advance the ADSL is about 1/3rd the price we were paying. My router generates about 10% stronger signal than the one the Slipstream the old ISP made us use, with about 50% less noise on the broadcast. For those two things alone it was worth making the move with the savings just slightly over riding the increased range.
Both Mac's and the Apple TV were no brainers to get up and running on the new router config. The AppleTV particularly likes the stronger signal. My router is G, as are the WiFi cards in all our computers. The AppleTV is the only thing in the house running draftN. Still with the increased signal the AppleTV loads things from the computer much more quickly and far less stutter on the 5mgs on some of the movie files.
This is a pretty bare bones service. You get some email addresses and some one line storage but nothing else.
Even though their customer service is good the bare bones thing could inhibit growth. The modem works out of the box ONLY if you plan to plug it in via the ethernet cable. Does anyone do that anymore?
To set the DSL modem up into bridge mode was a tremendous chore. This house is old so phone jacks and outlets are at a premium. I had to keep climbing ladders to set up the modem, test it, figure out what was wrong and then go through the grief of reconnecting to to the computer - back and forth.
Once I figured it out it wasn't all that difficult but setting up keep alive times and establishing MTU (what the hell is an MTU anyway?) was all guesswork.
Sits Far Down
Click images for desktop size: "Sits Down Far Away" by Unknown
But it works.
The other pluses for the new ISP are corporate guarantees of Net Neutrality, and no traffic shaping. I don't put a lot of faith in corporate promises but at least they put it out there and in writing.
As to performance it seems to be okay. There is a slight decrease in download speed overall but with higher spike speeds, much higher like 200%. The upload speed is like 300% higher than the old provider! Since this all come through the same DSL line the effects of bandwidth shaping are pretty apparent. No problems at all with my normal internet stuff.
Its too early to define the reliability of the connection. I've had one complete outage that lasted for only 5 minutes. Time will have to tell on that.
Basically I'm happy with the new provider. Its a shame I had to do so much work to find an alternative provider, alternative to the biggies who even now are working or charging for the megabyte of bandwidth. The old charge 'em more for less gambit. Funny it works when you have corrupt local and national politicos who are willing to let a monopoly get away with this stuff.
Women Of The Prehistoric Planet The other shame was the lack of instructions on setting the DSL modem up for basic home networking. That seems like a quibble on the next day but yesterday it was bugging me bad.
Emails today admonished me to save and dry the maple branches because they are the best wood going for smokers! Maybe I should chip them up and sell them! Around here there are too many maple trees. If I was successful it could start a deforestation thing, so I'll just save them up.
The other emails (4) wanted instruction on making your own guitar from scratch!
I've only done it twice. One when I was 16. I made it in high school wood shop. Plenty of power tools paid for by the government!
The second time when I was 22 and I had a friend who's dad spent a fortune on his workshop.
Making two questionable guitars doesn't make me much of an expert. But I did make them and futzed through the whole procedure so maybe it might be useful.
I'll give it some thought.
Its supposed to hit 90 today . . . means mucho work outside!
That will make the puppies happy. They like to boss me around. But doesn't everybody . . .

May 18, 2008

Just stand right about there

Electrogoth by Envy
Click images for desktop size: "Electrogoth" by Envy
Since I've had access to the AppleTV i haven't even turned on a DVD player . . . odd that.
It makes me realize the importance of senses and the anthropological psychology of our senses.
Like we've all allowed to have rather lousy memories for sounds. We've all had a friend who we thought had died because we kept hearing the same song pour out of his bed room window, over and over again.
Night Of Bloody Horror When you finally break in you find out there was nothing wrong. He just dug the tune. Couldn't get enough of it.
Or we've gotten into a car with a friend who played the same track over and over again, all the way to wherever you two were going and you were probably glad it wasn't any further.
If we'd evolved with auditory memory that matched our visual memory we wouldn't be able to do that.
Its like you can listen to a live concert of your fave band a few times without even blinking, but you'd be hard pressed to watch a video of the same show more than once or twice. You'd get bored and relate to editing gaffes instead of watching. Most often you'd end up reading and listening, or looking at anything except the image.
Its part of the power of paintings and photographs I guess, the ability to take you someplace, someplace new or the same familiar place, each time you gaze at a painting even though you know every pixel of the painting by heart. There's more than a certain genius to that, or else we'd all live in bare walled holes.
Our sense of smell is pretty terrible and we only seem to recall smells that are bad or great - a cess pool or your mom's cooking. Even though scents have a way of bringing up a bigger and wider range of emotional responses from us that come closer to re-experiencing the reality of a moment, of all moments connected to a scent.
And touch? Unless its connected to pleasure or pain who remembers a touch. Its why we can do all those cool nasty tricks with peeled grapes and things at Halloween.
All of that is why I don't get to stressed about my little blind dog sitting happily two inches from a wall, apparently staring at it happily.
Untitled by Frank Frazetta
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Frank Frazetta
With as much effort as we put into communicating with aliens from outer space we don't put much time into communicating with the aliens we share the planet with. John Lilly, a cool enough guy, is the only one I know of who's tried to talk to dolphins.
Dolphins need talking to. There are legends about dolphins rescuing drowning people at sea. Every surfer has a story about some dolphin harassing or playing with them.
(Mine involved the dolphin with a nasty sense of humor. I was on dawn patrol when I saw a gray fin break the water line and come rushing at me. I pulled my feet up on the board and was getting ready to punch the shark in the nose . . . I read in a comic book or saw on TV about how sharks had real sensitive noses and you could not them out with the right punch! The fin submerged. I looked around fearfully and waited for panic when my board was suddenly capsized from underneath. I thought I was fish meat. When I broke the surface the dolphin was up there laughing at me. Laughing at me . . . he spent the day catching Night Of The Lepus every wave I caught and being a real pain in the neck. He seemed to love it best when he could cut me off and create a wipe out . . .)
There an animal with intelligence, at least as much intelligence as the gorillas who've communicate pretty effectively with sign language.
We don't pay much attention to this except as freak show stuff, like the tic tac toe playing chicken. I think it makes us uncomfortable. We're not a very secure species, still clinging to the worries of survival and junk like it. We relate to animals best when we feel comfortably superior and can easily humanize them, at least to our conscious minds.
It seems easy to love something we are in total control of and can give ambiguous human traits to. Its a bit harder to love something that is alien to us. Like a dog.
When my little blind dog stares at the wall with a happy grin on his snuffling face he might not see the wall but I imagine he's got a world of other things to get so lost in. Smells that I can't guess at but that tell him stories and sing him songs. I'm sure he can hear noises that ell him absorbing dog stories, or else why is he so easy to startle when I call to him.
He likes to stay close to me because the other dogs don't tread on him. I'm the for sure alpha dog around this house anyway.
He knows I'm the source for food and pets. And in some canine way he loves me. That doesn't mean the blind little guy doesn't try and escape at every given opportunity. Not to run away but to go find new smells and to hear new things.
This is all the junk you think about on a rainy Sunday morning. Nasty cold day so that even the dogs don't want to go outside.
I need to heal. I think I've been tearing my body up pretty badly with all the yard work. My hamstrings are singing off key Feeling My Age
Click images for desktop size: "Feeling My Age" by Anonymous
arias to my calves and my hands are clenching and cramping begging to rest.
So it might be just time to watch a lot of movies. Consider finances.
I going to move the house internet connection from the monster monopoly phone company to an independent ISP . . . I'm nervous about this. The internet is the way I communicate, get information and survive and function, I think. Since were doing that we're also going to dump the land line and go to VOIP. I had Vonage before. The service was a tick better than acceptable. It would have been fine except the customer service department were the biggest jerks ever. Sales people should not be called customer service. It bothers me when I understand a tech better than the paid employees who are supposed to trouble shoot the problem, and keep wanting me to buy more services when I struggling with the existing services, The People That Time Forgot but maybe this time it will be okay.
I have to figure out finances. Its a logistical issue with my credit cards and cash availalbe. Th savings become significant if I pay for a year in advance. I mean like over a grand for the year significant. But its hard to come up with the front money. Got to figure it out. Which isn't that big a deal. I just hope the service works well enough.
Other than that I plan to watch movies and sleep during most of the boring bits. I still haven't ordered or rented a movie through the AppleTV. It looks easy enough and maybe its time to try. The 99 cent movie special this week is "The Usual Suspects", which is entertaining enough and my eyes are bad enough to not remember enough of it so its a thought. Of course when I've got about 100 movies I haven't seen yet renting one just to check out the tech is a bit frivolous, even if it is only a buck . . .

May 15, 2008

Get on your feet. You make me nervous in your seats!
Robert Parker

Circles Ny Aleksander Maksimow
Click images for desktop size: "Circles" by Aleksander Makimow
Today is an international holiday!
Isn't it?
It's my puppy's birthday. She has a full itinerary lined up.
I'm not kidding. I'm expected to participate and to enjoy myself fully. It all culminates with a big surprise party with a new taste treat promised. French fries ala mode with beef gravy . . . Its a surprise party because my puppy seldom listens to much I talk about.
Laserblast
Yesterday I cleaned my keyboard. It had gotten beyond gross.
The last time I cleaned my keyboard I killed it. Totally and irrevocably killed it. So I was, understandably reticent to try it again.
I used the utmost care, swabbing each key gently with pure alcohol and a Q-Tip. And needless to say I killed it again.
Since a new keyboard is at least 50 bucks I thought a lot about the prudence of Mac clones and how Ubuntu really looks like a decent alternative.
This time it appears that the keyboard had gotten so gunky that the residue from my swabbing had caused some of the gunk to shift under the board to the contacts so it was working as if I was constantly pressing the command (Mac only) control -alt-shift key. Which made for some interesting results.
I pried all the keys off and re-swabbed. Then re-integrated. I then took my puppy and my little blind dog for a quick walk and came back to find out that it had dried out and started working again.
I am a genius at breaking stuff. Fortunately I am still half a genius at fixing stuff.
If only I could get my ebike running . . .

During all this my mind drifted, as it generally does. I was thinking about a mediocre science fiction book I'd read years ago. I got it from the Charing Cross library in London. I've never seen it any where else or heard it talked about. I don't remember the author or the title of the book. They only had volume one of a series. I don't know how many books in the series, but it was called "The Amtrak Wars". Pinup
Click images for desktop size: "Pinup" by Unknown
I originally thought it was about our decrepit train system but it was about an intergalactic war!
It was pretty tedious stuff but it had one wonderful conceit. It predicted that human beings were the most dangerous and aggressive warriors in the galaxy. That even a middling small nerd type had twice as much endurance, strength, speed and blood lust than the previous galactic champions.
That was very appealing to me. I figure if you added a Belgian Sheepdog to the mix you'd have a serious combat team (who would also have a few laughs.)
Like I said, I never was able to find any other books in the series. Its one of those things a dispassionately look for in used book stores.
David Drake is an odd writer. He has his own science fiction trips. But he also touched on a similar theme. He had some guy conquer the universe by capturing an ancient Roman Legion and forcing them to fight for him.
Ray guns are no match for iron, steel and precision it seems.
My Gun Is Quick Cool stuff.
For some reason day dreaming about the destructive capabilities of our race makes a lot of insanity more sensible.

Now the rest of the day will be spent rejoicing in my puppy and the joy she brings into my life and the life of others. Three years old today. Three years and we're still inseparable. Still bicker all the time. Still need each other.
There's not much better than that. Not much better than a good dog. Together we are perfect, for each other and for others.

April 17, 2008

Cause your small and sweet and round and a penny to the pound
Eddie Cochran

Oh Bondage Up Yours By SB
Click images for desktop size: "Oh Bondage Up Yours" by SB
It appears I owe Apple, or at least Apple TV an apology.
iTunes will update from Apple TV. It just needed a reboot from my computer to start working properly again . . . a reboot . . .
Poultrygeist How Windows of it! I only discovered this because I had to reboot to install a new version of Safari . . . Normally I go 90 plus days between reboots. I know that Windows is so poorly designed and riddled with memory leaks that everyones first solution to a problem is to reboot to get their computer to have that cool, "just rebooted" feeling. The second solution is to uninstall and reinstall every app on their machine . . . how droll . . . how ludicrous that it might actually work.
I guess that's cool for Windows addicts but I don't use Microsoft because of that and several moral issues.
If OSX is going to turn into Windows it will be more of a reason to scope out Ubantu or maybe just run a vanilla version of FreeBSD. But jeez, I do like the look and feel of Apple. I like just working instead of the Windows method of spending 3/4's of my time trying to figure out how to make it work, and when I do becoming an official Windows expert.

I'm getting better. Its the misery before the dawn better.
Penicillin has taken away a lot of the pain in my mouth and in my joints. Who knew that infections could cause agony in my joints. Who knows where I get all these weird infections.
Fatigue hitting me hardest. Vision keeps bouncing around. I think this latest attack has permanently screwed up my eyes. Not to the point of blindness but to the point of needing new glasses. Money again. Money . . . Well, as big a problem as money is for most of us its comforting to know that the Presidential candidates are more concerned about Flag Lapel Pins then whether I can see those pins.
Untitled by Rey Ortega
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Rey Ortega

Other than being appalled by the latest Candidates debate I watched a movie called "The Profit".
"The Profit" is a pretty undisguised slam of Scientology. As I know the facts it was accurate in a superficial way.
It was a pretty bad movie. It bothered me though that it was such a virulent attack on a cult.
I don't much care for Scientology. When a few of my friends have blown some money on the Church I could offer comfort. When some of the zealots had the stupidity to grab me on the street and spit in my face while trying to get me to take a personality test you could pick them up and put them in a garbage can and keep walking.
I think that everyone I've ever met who was seriously into Scientology was a stupid jerk, a sly con man and an obnoxious prat. You could say the same for most Fundamentalists, most Catholics etc. One thing about Scientologists they seem pretty happy at least within themselves.
What's wrong with that?
Rancho Notorious I don't feel any more comfortable about a movie slamming a religion just because it seems apparent its a shoddy scam, no more comfortable with that then the Fundamentalists picketing other denominational churches or zealots blowing up Women's Health Clinics or Jihadists blowing us up.
Religion is personal. It used to be important that we allowed each other to believe what we needed to believe in. That's one terror Bush has inflicted upon our civil rights, the tacit approval to sneer at others religions. I don't think its right.
I hold to certain rights for myself. That carries the responsibility of holding those rights for others just as hard.
I still hold that I'm no better than anybody else and nobody else is any better than me.

I have to go check on my dogs. They've figured out how to open the gate and escape! My puppy comes and tells me when the others have gotten out but I really don't feel much like running down the street playing with and chasing them today.

April 16, 2008

The New And Improved One Armed Swordsman

Moody Waters By BE Photographic
Click images for desktop size: "Moody Waters" by BE Photographic
I got word today I have to go see another doctor.
I hate new doctors, which is unfair but totally justified.

I raked up 6 big bags of garbage and leaves Pigs! yesterday and set them out by the curb. They go about 40 pounds each so I took them out one at a time. On the final bag my neighbor from across the street came and told me that the garbage guys won't take the leaves because I used clear plastic leave bags. They'll only take them if they're in paper bags . . . she told me on the sixth bag . . . my puppy was glad to see her and she did tell me so I guess its cool . . . the sixth bag . . . its about 70 yards from the gate to the curb . . . six . . .

My facial paralysis is lessening. My vision seems to be improving but just when I'd decided it was good I completely lost sight. It didn't go black. Its like someone shoved a large wad of crinkly saran wrap into my eye sockets, like I was looking at life through blown glass window panes. (Until World War II and the introduction of machine manufactured glass if you witnessed a crime through a window you couldn't testify in court. Looking through glass was the same as seeing nothing.)
I was walking with my puppy. I don't remember why. She must have known something was wrong because she stopped pulling her leash and began to "herd" me, staying close to my right hand and nudging me this way and that. I was surprised that she didn't lead me to a pizza parlour or an ice cream shop.
The vision hassle passed. It went like that for the rest of the day.

Before I moved, back in that town, I worked with a group to save dogs. I enjoyed it. My puppy enjoyed it. It was beau coup fun for sure.
Edmund DuLac
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Edmund DuLac
There was a woman associated with the group. I had very mixed feelings about her. I admired the work she put into saving dogs even when I doubted her methods. But there were odd looks and gestures, an occasional stray phrase that set up alarms.
While everyone else in the group was pretty chilled and cool, if a bit crazed and scatterbrained (myself included no doubt) this woman seemed strangely driven. She was also incredibly self promoting and self serving. She liked to give orders and read people well enough that when they started to pin around at the tone of her voice she would coddle them.
Its a tact I'd seen often before. Usually from untalented directors and writers who managed to always get work in front of other more talented people. The kind of musicians and filmmakers who could get work despite a string of desperate flops.
X - The Man With The X-Ray Eyes There was an agenda in her I couldn't figure out.
I couldn't discuss it with anyone because she was much admired for her hard work and I had nothing to go on but that uneasy feeling. I put it out of my mind.
Today I got an email. This woman has snagged herself a job. A paying gig on a State Board over seeing the care and disposition of animals . . .
Her agenda, politics? Probable.
I think its sad that this is the best we can hope for nowadays. Someone who cares a lot about their job is an excellent choice. Someone who wants the job for other reasons raises flags for me. She'll do a good job, I'm sure. To a point anyway. The person who mollifies can't be trusted to stand and make the tough calls. The person who cares more about how others perceive them instead of putting their charges safe and protected behind them bothers me.
I don't think that compromise works when you're talking about children or animals. For some jobs I want people who care more about the job then they do their image.
I guess this is similar to what bothers me about the current crop of presidential candidates. They want to mollify me, occasionally inspire me instead of seeing a world that they know they can change for the better. And then be willing to fight for that vision at all costs.
Well, at least I know what it was that bugged me about this woman.

There was a software update for the Apple TV this week.
I wish I hadn't installed it.
It makes the menu's a tad snappier. It improves the Genre filter Odilon Redon
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Stephen Youll
(a feature I could care less about) and it allows you to add favorites in YouTube (a feature I could care even less-er about. I don't care much for YouTube due to the quality of the videos. Of course if I do go blind the quality will be fine. I learned how to make and host and serve my own video files to avoid having YouTube mangle the pictures of my puppy).
It also took away a feature I really liked and used. It no longer does a two way communication with iTunes! Part of this is simple anal stuff on my part. I liked when I played a track and iTunes would update adding 1 to the play count and changing the "Last Played" date.
That was anal I know but when watching a Serial it was tres cool in marking which chapter I had just watched. It saved me energy and kept the hardware software transparent to my enjoyment.
I hope they fix this.
You know I'm squawking.

April 10, 2008

So simple a child of 5 could do it!

5 Cm a Second by Kabegami
Click images for desktop size: "5 cm Per Second" by Kabegami
This is going to be that great definitive Apple TV encoding thing. Except my eyes are failing badly.
Calling doctor's tomorrow. Maybe it will get better.
So forget the even more typos' than usual and trust in the touch typing I had to learn in high school.
Mantis In lace
I like the Apple TV. In fact I think its great.
My issues are simple: More codec support, accept external HD's, more responsive menu's. Since that seems to be everybody else's issue with the thing doesn't seem a lot of point to belabour it.
For music I've had issues with it choking on some aac and a couple of MP3's that caused it to crash! The MP3's seemed to have malformed ID3 tags (2.5). Why the m4a files choked I'm not sure. I simply get a screen saying that this file is not compatible with Apple TV. In a playlist it just skips the track.
Since I encode all m4a's through the command line and the built into Apple codec and tag them all in iTunes this is peculiar. I use true VBR encoding so that might be part of the issue. It shouldn't be.
For video Apple TV only supports mp4 encoded with the H264 (or the open source X264) codec. Sound tracks have to be either aac or, if you've got a digital output to a digital preamp, AC3 (surround sound).
There are plenty of apps out there designed to automate and simplify encoding your DVD's or avi's into the proper format.
Avi's are problematic. No codec will improve the image or sound of the source. Avi's are lossey files (data is dispensed with to make them smaller). Most of the time avi's transcode okay and a few have been excellent but in general they look pretty poor, kind of smeary and avi blockiness is not removed, nor are halo's (a creepy effect of a bright spot in a dark background).
But my issue was in finding the best way to encode my DVD's.
Fly With Me
Click images for desktop size: "Fly With Me" by Anonymous
I picked "Spider-Man", the first one. Because I had the SuperBit DVD. SuperBit prides itself on making the best possible DVD's of movies.
I ripped the DVD 3 ways.
I used Handbrake and their Apple TV preset. This encoded the movie at 2500 kbs and allows for embedding both the aac and the surround audio track.
I always use two pass encoding. The first pass examines the movie and creates a log. The second pass examines the movie and the log and then decides where you can get by with more or fewer kbs. It produces the smallest possible file and the best image quality for the bit rate.
To encode "Spider-Man" a 1 hour 52 minute movie it took about 4 hours! It made an mp4 of 2.5 gigabytes. (The DVD is 8 gig) I used An anamorphic setting which produces a 1024 by 526 image. Apple TV handles the Anamorphic image with no problems at all. The original is like 720 by 360.
Mark Of The AstroZombies I then encoded the movie with MpegSteamClip. On this encode I upscaled the image to 720p, the widest resolution the Apple TV can handle. I had to scale back the bitrate to 4.8 mps per second, the Apple TV can handle 5 mps but that would have made a file of over 5 gig. I used multipass encoding. This passed the file 4 times! It took 36 hours!
MpegSteamClip does not allow for any but the aac soundtrack.
I then encoded the movie in Xvid with Handbrake at 1500 kbps with the surround Soundtrack. In multipass this took about 2 hours . . . It produced a file of about 1.5 gig.
Oh, both Handbrake and MpegSteamClip are freeware apps.
To compare the Xvid, DVD I used my Oppo DVD?Xvid player. The Oppo uses its own upscaler to bring each movie up to 720p.
I watched on My Sony lcd.
Now what I saw (even with Bad eyes).
The Xvid was unsurprisingly, the least of them. The picture was acceptable but displayed all the flaws of the codec, smears, occasional blockiness in dark scenes and haloing. None of these would prevent you from enjoying a movie and at least on this encode there were none that were truly horrible.
The Handbrake encode was excellent and it took a cautious eye to detect any difference between it and the DVD! It benefited greatly from having the surround soundtrack. It was bright clear and I never noticed any artifacts. It streamed flawlessly over my class g network, never a stutter.
The MpegSteamClip upscaled image was fantastic! In comparisons it was BETTER than the DVD! The picture was bright and details were crystal clear, revealing wisps of hair and specks of dust in the air. All impeccable. As common sense says it couldn't improve the image quality I put it down to a software upscaler Celebrating The Migration Of The Swans
Click images for desktop size: "Celebrating The Migration Of Swans"
taking about 6 hours to enlarge the image was an improvement on the Oppo's excellent but on the fly upscaler.
Where the MpegSteamClip fell apart was in having only the aac soundtrack. Dolby ProLogicII is does not have the dynamic range of AC3 and the flatter, less dynamic range sounds really makes a huge impact in side by side comparisons.
It was disconcerting in that it was noticeably better than the Handbrake encode but it was very difficult to decide if the 36 hours of encoding time is worth the extra detail.
For me I've decided that there are only a few movies out there worth the extra hassle and then only movies that don't have a massive booming soundtrack. Even the Xvid sounded better than the MpegSteamClip. For some movies that would be cool.
And I've probably left out some pertinent detail or fact that you need to know. But I'm feeling creepy enough at the moment to not really care.
Oh, Handbrake is also available for Windows. I note this with chagrin that Handbrake was originally created for BeOS. BeOS was for a brief moment the finest OS ever created.

April 9, 2008

We're going to get into each other's heads
Walter Doniger

Our Man Flint by JW McGinnis
Click images for desktop size: "Our Man Flint" by JW McGinnis
Yesterday I was going on about how the drugs made me feel like a prisoner. Some people didn't get it.
I understand.
I'm not looking to run away. There's nothing to escape but myself and that would take some awful fast running. I just want an open door as an option.
Mad Doctor Of Blood Island Plus Blood Curse Its a sense of freedom that's been born in me and purified over the years. No country is big enough to hold me. I need that as much as I need the drugs.
But with the drugs it was always a wearisome chore. I had to have them. I have to have them. Its a medical condition addiction, I guess.
They cost money and I always have to have a doctor write me a prescription. They very seldom will give me more than a month at a time. So I'm on a time tether.
It usually means if I go someplace I have to have a week to find a doctor, or a free clinic who'll write me the prescriptions, then I have to find a drugstore I can afford. Its funny, but one of my meds was like $125 at Ekarts, $85 at Walgreens, $60 at Walmart and I ended up getting it at a tiny corner druggist for $25 . . . So, yeah, I have to look and they won't always tell you over the phone.
And then I have four weeks before I have to start all over again.
I've always resented it. Always hated the bus rides, the walks and the bike rides, the time spent getting my drugs so I can stay alive, not go blind, not die.
So Three months supply feels like freedom. I like looking at the bottles and knowing I could go anyplace I can get to in 11 weeks.
Even now it means I don't have to go through the monotonous routine of getting them.
That's all I meant. I hate my drugs. I hate that they keep me alive but don't make me feel better . . . But I still look at them, my massive 3 month supply, and I feel wealthy.

I finished "Atom Man VS Superman". It was cool. Very.
I've already rabbited on about the acting and all. This would be "Highly Recommended" instead of "Warmly Recommended" because of three major caveats.
The first is the special effects. Its got cool space ships made of riveted tin, rockets and flying saucers (but, sadly, no robots!) but when it comes to the coolest effect, Superman flying, it cuts to a rotoscoped cartoon image. Sometimes they try and make it cool but the Superman flying over the horizons of Metropolis (A very very cool old LA) it is always a cartoon Superman . . . which is kind of disappointing. It never looses that jarring effect.
The second is common with Columbia serials. I Remember Papa
Click images for desktop size: "I Remember Papa" by Unknown
They LIE TO YOU! Like, you see a flood come rushing down a mountain and just sweeping a truck carrying Lois Lane over a cliff where the truck is dashed to bits and the announcer intones "Will Lois survive!"
But when you come back to the next episode it doesn't happen . . . Cartoon Superman swoops down and lifts Lois and the truck out of the way of the flood, just in time. No truck ever goes over the cliff . . . personally, I prefer the old pulls her out of the truck just in time sort of thing.
The final concern might actually be a plus. I found it pretty amusing. Seem Luthor has invented a device that can transport people anywhere in the world, he's invented a TV camera that can see and hear through walls, a heat ray, an earthquake machine that can level any city in the world, space ships, ATOM BOMBS and this criminal genius uses these fabulous inventions to commit a rash of robberies. In one night his gang robs a Shoe Store, a Dry Man Thing Cleaners and a Candy Store . . . yup. A bit of overkill is what I'm thinking . . . And you can't help but wonder how many atom bombs can the day's take a candy store finance?
Then to avoid being busted for petty larceny he launches an Atom Bomb at Metropolis . . . to avoid a bust on a candy store stick up . . .
Still, it was fun through out. Next on the serial watch list is Michael J Foxe's fave, "Spy Smasher".
I've also come to terms with the fact that I'm a Jean Claude Van Damme fan. I have almost all of his movies and I find them diverting and enjoyable. They have no pretensions other than to entertain. Van Damme works within his limits and succeeds. And he looks great kicking people in the head!
His recent films have taken an interesting tact, presaging Stallone's again of his characters. Van Damme's heroes' are mortal, more so, often just aged and disillusioned. One he was a drug cop who used his position to get himself addicted to heroin!! Not to preserve anything but only from ennui, rage and loss. It was shockingly real and well played, but not so heavy as to detract from all the head cracking to come.

I've finally finished all the encodes for my big Apple TV encoding experiment. Now I have to watch and compare. That will take a bit depending on how my eyes hold up.
My eyes feel marginally better. I've noticed an odd thing about my face. Its not Bell's Palsy paralyzed but its not moving right. I can't clamp my eyes shut. I'm only smiling with the left side of my face.
The good part is that with concentration and effort I can still move the right side of my face. I'm not gravely concerned. Death By Beauty by Lai Nguye
Click images for desktop size: "Death By Beauty" by Lai Nguye
I figure it will pass. If it doesn't I've got a doctor.
The penicillin is doing its job. I wonder if its part of the semi-paralysis in my face - some weird eye infection its fighting. Its knocked a lot of the steady pain out. The only drawback to that is that its let me realize just how badly my right shoulder is aching! I'm used to that. Concentrating on one set of pain allows you to ignore the lesser pains.
The only grief from that, other than an upset stomach, is the sudden electric bursts of pain that escape. Nothing heavier than the previous constant pain so its just a wake up call reminding me to keep taking the pills.
Other than that its just the usual of my body readjusting to the chemistry of the drugs. I go through it every time I run low on the drugs in my system. Its uncomfortable but not debilitating.
And I'm looking at the world with the old stupid wry look.
I'm feeling quirky and as happy as I usually am.
But crabby always very crabby. It keeps me predictable.

March 30, 2008

What I want to tell you could save the world. If only we spoke the same language!

Cowboy By Fredric Remington
Click images for desktop size: "Cowboy" by Frederic Remington
I like serials. All kinds of serials.
The ones I'm thinking about now are the movie serials that lasted for only 2 decades. They got replaced by TV.
They were born out of a need to drag in the kids. Get them into the theaters every week.
They were written for kids with a cynical innocence. They were cool.
Caged Heat They delighted in the obvious. In speed and in straight ahead narrative. Nothing was in there for character development. You already knew exactly what these characters were. Nuances could be added but weren't required. Nuances came from the actor and if they impeded the break neck flow they were cut out.
Woman mainly existed only to be protected. They were unloved, pretty and ineffective. The heroes were cardboard mirrors and reflected only what we wanted them to be.
I like watching serials because they let me feel what it was like to live in the 30's or 40's. They didn't impart information, they gave you the feel, the taste of an era I'll never know.
I'm not the only guy who feels that way. (I've never met a woman or girl who cared or could even watch a serial.)
The first serial I ever saw was "Batman". And I saw it in a theater. They showed all 15 episodes to try and cash in on the Batman TV series.
It was close to four hours long and I was confused by it. Not only by the showing of all the opening credits for each episode but also by the arcane slang and lingo. I still remember the heavily used phrase, "Now you're cooking with gas!"
I was about 9 and the only thoughts I had were along the lines of, "What else would you cook with?"
I liked the villain though. He wore a black satin robe with a hood. That was a definition of cool for me.
I saw the Flash Gordon serials (with Buster Crabbe and Charles Middleton) on KRLA, early Sunday mornings. I was fascinated and dreaded missing an episode.
So as an adult I would jump to see more serials. That's how I met this fellow Vince.
Vile Vince. Without doubt the ugliest man I ever met. Even when he was showered and his clothes Casino Royale - JW Mcginnis
Click images for desktop size: "Casino" by JW McGinnis
were clean there was something oily and antagonistic about him. He was fat but still wore a belt about 8 inches too long. I always figured he was trying to fool us into thinking he had just lost a lot of weight.
His teeth were green, his complexion oily and pock marked and he had a huge collection of films. His house was hot house warm and I was afraid to touch anything when I was there. The only things in good repair were the huge projection TV and the bank of VCR's and tape decks. His projectors were state of the art.
He was always trying to sell me porn. But he still had the largest collection in LA of serials and kung fu flics. (The weird chinese movies that were dubbed strangely so that ancient Chinese warriors were given names like Chuck and Danny - as in "Chuck it is time for you to die!" "Try your best Danny my Mantis style has destroyed Bob and Gene and will now destroy you!")
The Bronx Warriors Michael J Fox was there. He was my main competitor for the serials. This was an unfair competition although not as bad as my competition with Bob Towne for Raymond Chandler letters and manuscripts . . . Towne was fueled with movie money. Once a bookseller in Santa Barbara (Aaron Neville) got a huge collection of Chandler letters. Towne TREBLED my bid.
Fox was cool and affable. We talked about serials and nothing else. He never bought up his work but we discussed the weakness of "Captain America" as opposed to the "Spy Smasher" serial, and we waxed euphoric about "The Mysterious Dr Satan".
We agreed that Republic made the best serials. I always thought it was because they had this stuntman, Alan Sharpe, under contract. Sharpe was a demon. Even by the insane standards set by the Thai's and Chinese his stunts were incredible. They propelled each episode with a sense of jaw dropping wonder. In "Captain Marvel" Sharpe would leap off of buildings and cliffs, flinging his body out there so that it honestly looked like he was flying, until they cut to some pretty cheesy special effects . . .
Every fight he got into was remarkable. He was a little guy but he jumped and tackled and fought 3 or 4 guys with an ease that was pleasing to the eye. People were always bashing him with charis and curtain rods, bricks and desks. After one of his fight scenes the entire room was nothing but rubble and splinters. A lucky punch always stunned Sharpe just long enough for the bad guys to get away.
There hasn't been enough written about this guy. He elevated the world of stunt men to make it something spectacular.
So Fox and I would talk and try and manuever Vince into selling us the latest find. I remember Hellsing - Anime
Click images for desktop size: "Hellsing - Anime"
fighting hard for a washed out 16mm print of "Undersea Kingdom". I lost. But the creepy thing about Vince was that after Fox would leave he'd sell me a dupe . . .
The hardest thing about serials was figuring out how to watch them. It pretty hard, most of the time, to just sit and watch 15 episodes at once. They're the kind of thing that you want to watch sporadically, so that the credits and the re-cap of the previous episode seem fresh. It was doable with video tape, a bit easier on DVD but still not quite satisfactory.
I've discovered an excellent use for the Apple TV!
By telling iTunes that the serial is a TV show I can set up each serial episode as a TV episode, including naming each episode. But what is totally cool is that iTunes and the Apple TV remember which episodes I've watched! That's more of a problem than you'd imagine. So know more accidentally skipping an episode or watching half of one I'd already seen . . . yes, I'm capable of doing that.

I'm using ecto Beta 43 . . . Its fixed a lot of the bugs recently introduced by previous betas . . .

March 24, 2008

Virtue will always find virtue
Wai Kai Fan

Untitled by Carlo Carra
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Carlos Carra
I'm fighting a cold.
Flues, colds are always dangerous for chemo patients, I mean ex-chemo patients, or former, whatever.
Don't have enough immune system left so a simple cold can knock you out for a week, 104 temperatures, a near certainty of pneumonia. That kind of thing.
Mudhoney I've been able to avoid them for the last few years. I might be able to fight this one off too. My temperature is 97.5 (which is normal for me), I've just got the scratchy throat and the inflamed sinuses.
Watched a lot of movies yesterday. An old Johnny To, Andy Lau film "Full Time Killer" was far more entertaining than it had any right to be.
The real find was a Canadian flic: "Lars And The Real Girl". It seems so long since I've enjoyed a film where the actors spoke English . . . Its an odd little independent comedy, mainly American actors. As with all little movies its incumbent on the actors to carry the load. They do so here with nice touching real performances all the way around. Patricia Clarkson (I remember her as playing one of Frasier's important girl friends) does great work.
The lead, Ryan Gosling, had a miserable sort of part, very difficult to play, and only rang false or seemed to be reaching once or twice. Most of the time he was totally believable and managed to suck you in.
The plot is weird. Lars orders one of those love dolls off the internet. He accepts it as a real woman and treats her elegantly, chastely. He takes the doll with him to church, to visit his parents grave, to parties. He has his brother and sister-in-law chaperone.
The people of the small town accept this and while they all have some snide asides at first come to see the doll as real as Lars does.
There's no pat answers as to why Lars has the delusions. I thought that was nice. It lead you to some places to speculate but doesn't slam you in the head.
Its funny, unpredictable and I wouldn't dare to think of it as life affirming but it does give insights into people, insights and thoughts I'd never would have had on my own.
Dreaming Of Texas - Anonymous
Click images for desktop size: "Dreaming Of Texas" by Anonymous

The beta 40 from ecto seems to have corrected the nastiest, most time consuming bugs. Its still not perfect. For me, its further from perfect than it was in beta 32 . . . or some number in the 30's. I still prefer it. I tried using MarsEdit for the whole caboodle and found it too tiresome. Keyboard shortcuts and things were just aggravating and wouldn't remap properly in MarsEdit. MarsEdit was also worthless for doing the layout. Because this jumbly crowded mess pleases my eyes.

Yesterday ended with a sad email from my puppy's breeder, her gramma. My puppy's biological aunt passed away from lymphoma . . . cancer.
This thing always brings up sad thought. I had two of my dogs fight cancer. At least when they had it I had the money to help them fight the disease.
One had bone cancer and had to have his right front leg amputated at the shoulder. He lived for five more years that way. He really never slowed down. I called him Tripod after the New Adventures Of Batman And Robin surgery.
Then their was another dog who had pancreatic cancer. We got her on a Good Friday. Adopted her from the pound in West LA.
On the way home we stopped at Delores'. Its gone now. Its a parking lot at Wilshire and LaCienega. We ran into Sandra Locke there and started chatting. She named the new puppy.
I don't want anything to happen to my puppy, or any of my dogs.
I love them all. They give so much and ask for so little really. I wish they all had eternal life. What a world full of pettings and laughter that would be.
I'd like the same for children. While I'm at it I'd want the same for all of us. But mainly for kids and dogs.

The holiday weekend has been sort of wonderful. Its been too long since I've done so little and had so much pleasure and fun. Even sleeping 12 hours a day can't detract, it only seems to enhance.
When things go back to normal I hope the buoyancy carries on.

March 15, 2008

From now on we're strictly legit

Fabio By Eric Hamilton
Click images for desktop size: "Fabio" by Eric Hamilton
Went to the Chinese Buffet last night. I ate myself sick. It was great!
I got these little breakfast style steaks for the pack, and a porch chop for the little blind dog with all his allergies.
Instead of being grateful I think the dogs were more like, "Why don't we get good food like this all the time!?!"
The Hitchhikers We got them dog food. It felt like normal stuff.
Also got them treats, rawhide strips and these odd bones made out of salmon skin for the little blind guy. He's strutting around with one of them now, very proud and the others are very envious. That just makes little blind boy prouder.
I got sick from eating a crab leg, I think. I should know better than to eat something fancy at an all you can eat soiree. I didn't get sick enough to put a damper on anything. I felt like a starving man who just came out of the desert into the land of milk and honey.
We watched Daniel Lee and Andy Lau's "Protege". It was okay. Andy Lau was great. He's such a likable actor that its hard to be against him when he plays a villain. It was also hard not to remember that the last time he played a villain this well Scorsesse remade his film ("Infernal Affairs") into a mega Oscar winner ("The Departed").
Daniel Wu was excellent as the undercover cop. I now know too much about the heroin trade . . . the revelation in the movie was Jingchu Zhang as the junkie mother quasi-love interest. She was brilliant. She let you see through her eyes and into them. When her character lied and manipulated it was as convincing as when she was loving and motherly. She played pathetic with a fierce but beaten pride.
I also watched "Kung Fu Dunk", a monster hit film in China. It was light, moving and highly entertaining, sort of a less maniac but far more human "Shaolin Soccer". It also had a great fight scene.
What's of note about this film is that the copy I got had horrid machine translated subtitles that Wasp - Wallpapers Mania
Click images for desktop size: "Wasp" by Wallpapers Mania
often only translated Chinese phonetically! So that there were lines like "Well, the xiojang most way to be comacackphon, we do fire jang to xapheus."
At first this was disconcerting and I figured this movie would be a waste. It ended up differently and posted what was a real education for me in the "why I like Asian movies" so much vein.
The director and the actors remembered how to tell the story visually. I had very little difficulty in following the story. In the exciting parts I had no trouble at all. I didn't even think about it.
All the actors managed to convey a pretty large gamut of emotions and reactions that didn't need to be spelt out for me or illuminated with words.
I remembered once being in Paris and going to the Cinematheque to see the Marx Brothers' Sherlock Holme's House Of Fear "Duck Soup". The audience was almost all French and the film was not subtitled. The theater was packed.
The audience got a bit lost with some of Groucho and Chico's puns and banter but they laughed almost through out. During the classic mirror sequence the theater was literally rocking with people shifting and howling and fearing for Harpo as his charade disintegrated.
A few years ago in London I took a woman to see Rowan Atkinson's "Bean". She was Italian and spoke no English at all. She wasn't that keen on going to an English movie, but she laughed and enjoyed herself through out.
Movies are a visual media and somehow most filmmakers have tried to turn them into plays with long boring monologues or leaden dialogs that explain and point to what we're seeing. They stopped trying to tell the story with pictures and just want to lecture us.
TV, with its all encompassing medium shot, is the cause of this, I think.
I didn't want to talk about the movies so much as I wanted to talk about encoding . . .
Ti get "Protege" onto the Apple TV. I originally ripped the DVD to H264. It produced a very nice watchable image at 720x360 16x9. Later I got a copy of the movie in 720p (1280x720) resolution in wmv format, ripped from a BluRay disc.
I decided to experiment and ripped the wmv (a ghastly clunky codec that works on XBox 360) to H264 and ProLogic II AAC.
Using multi-pass encoding it took about 24 hours, with the computer using 100% of the cpu . . . For the Apple TV to play the movie I had to restrict the data rate to 5mgb per second. DVD's are typically around 3mgb per second.
I wasn't stoked about the sound quality but the image quality was stunning.
The difference between the DVD and the 720p in this film was not only noticeable but clearly added to the dramatic telling of the story.
Fathom - Michael Turner
Click images for desktop size: "Fathom" by Michael Turner
The junky and the undercover cop bot live in the same rat trap apartment building. In the junkie's apartment you can see the dirt clinging to the air and the filth that touches all the furniture and the little girl's toys. While the undercover cops place is just as ramshackle here the air is clean and the same dank belongings have the appearance of some sort of minimal maintenance.
None of this is even remotely visible in the DVD version! There are further examples of this through out the movie, where surfaces and environment reflect much of what is going on inside the characters minds and in their self constructed little worlds.
When Andy Lau and Daniel Wu ride elephants to visit a drug lord in the Golden Triangle the workers they pass have a sweaty patina to them, while Lau and Wu are dry and pink from plenty of facial massages. This visual image has much more impact then a laborious pair of scenes that make the same point. I The Jury (Wu tells a little girl in the city not to eat candy she picks off the ground. In the Triangle Lau feeling pity and empathy for the worker's children throws huge handfuls of candy on to the ground from the perch of his elephant and the kids run to scrabble it up from the dust while the workers look at Lau with sheening gratitude.)
Part of the thing you learn in psychoacoustics is that the human brain is much more impacted by what it sees than by what it hears.
The mind retains visual images but retains little of audio memory, which is why its so cool to listen to the same song over and over again, I suppose.
Anyway, I like anything that lets someone tell their story better. I like being led to understanding.

March 7, 2008

Now we have real work to do

Orangy Art - Richard Mohler
Click images for desktop size: "Orangy Art" by Richard Mohler
I've almost always lived in houses.
Compared to apartments, I mean,
When I've had to stay in an apartment or a condominium it put me on edge.
I don't like lying in bed and hearing my neighbor walk to the toilet and flush it. Escape From Planet Of The Apes It gets too close to poetry staring at your own walls and hearing the life of strangers surrounding you and pressing ever and ever closer.
Since I've spent most of my time in big cities and major metropolises, and that in my home in London I usually had a dozen or so people staying on it might seem odd, but that's the way of it.
I like private houses that are full of people . . . or at least full of dogs and one person.

Yesterday my little blind puppy seemed to be on the rebound. The night before he dragged me tumbling down a hill. There was enough snow that neither of us were hurt. I was more irritated by it. He was excited. This falling down thing of mine is getting to be a drag. The puppy must have enjoyed it though, some small canine excitement. He tried to drag me back over the same hill last night. He was mad that I wouldn't follow him again.
My big surprise came off.
Not the way I wanted it. UPS is too unreliable to ever make plans around.
Its embarrassing to say but I bought an Apple TV . . . I got it second hand via one of the auction sites. The fellow selling it lived relatively close and . . . I used a small portion of my IRS Tax Refund. It was a fraction of the cost of the new ones.
I'm sure I'll regret spending the money in a week.
I was nervous it would be busted up, not work, twonky, what have you. It works like a dream, better than I'd imagined.
I got it mainly for music. H264 encoding with Dolby Pro Logic Sound doesn't interest me much, other than novelty, at least for now.
What surprised me was how easy it was to set up, to start seeing Flickr pictures and then using them as a screen saver was like totally YOW!
Night Angel
Click images for desktop size: "Night Angel" by Unknown
And the streaming of music was perfect. We don't have a proper sound system set up here. I spent today re-wiring the stuff I have and it now works okay. Its listenable for sure and so nifty to play thousands of songs one after the other.
What was also impressive was getting podcasts. I'd never used them much because they were usually poorly mastered and took up a huge chunk of real estate on my iPod, where they'd sound terrible.
Going through the Apple TV they sound cool and much more viable and varied than listening to the radio. Some of them are totally bitchin.
I'm not much into YouTube, but it accesses those pretty easily as well. I watched a couple of my puppy's YouTube video and was annoyed with the poor quality of the encoding. Main reason I figured out how to host her video files ourselves.
Force Of Evil But that's the stuff that interests me. The main purpose was for the music for my friend. She's chuffed and thrilled to be able to surround herself with the sounds she loves.
That makes me happy.
Its simple and easy enough that she can start playing her stuff right away and without having to ask me how to do it.
We watched "Pillow Talk", an 60's Rock Hudson & Doris Day comedy. The humor was pretty arch and the characters repulsive in any clear vision, but we laughed and played with it, enjoyed it.
With my little blind puppy making noises like he's going to be around a bit longer, my surprise being a success even with all the glitches, worries and stress, yesterday was a day to mark with a white stone.

February 28, 2008

You can't cheat an honest man so never smarten up a sucker or wise up a chump
WC Fields

Edmund DuLac
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Edmund DuLac
I've seen an amazing increase in spam lately. Rough estimates are I've won about 1 billion in lotteries I never entered. I've had about 2 billion left to me by dead relatives I never knew I had. My puppy and I have had our bank accounts our paypal accounts and our other personal information compromised about 80 times, all at banks where we don't have accounts. Hangmen Also Die And the usual suspects offering us great penny stock tips and the usual porn sites and sexual enhancements.
I resent the ones offering money the most.
There are too many people driven to desperation in our world today where cash is the only solution. It takes sociopathic guts to steal from people. It takes a sheer coward to steal from you and not be able to look you in the face.
Con men used to at least be entertaining. They used to give you a show as they fleeced you. The Flim Flam Men were always known and usually endured until they robbed the wrong person of too much.
They even made movies about them, Oscar winning movies where the con men were the heroes! ("The Sting" for only one of them."
Now the cowardly ilk advertise in the papers or people who are multilingual. Its a lot more convincing to get emails from someone who can at least approximate the language, I guess. But they advertise in the newspapers and the newspapers take the ads . . .
Its like a legitimate business now. Why not. They've only prosecuted one spammer. The government must condone it or they'd do something to stop it. In a lot of ways the government condones it. I've gotten spam from political candidates . . .
Considering that the government allowed Comcast to hijack the investigative meeting to discuss the despicable acts committed by Comcast its not a great surprise. (Net neutrality and tiered pricing are ugly cruel things that need to be abolished and not encouraged. The government disagrees. They don't care about the people anymore it seems.)
In China and Russia they are openly and actively recruiting hackers and programmers. I do wonder if anyone ever bought anything they saw advertised when their browser has been hijacked by a malicious script?
Do Us All A Favor
Click images for desktop size: "Do Us All A Favor"
Someone must or they wouldn't invest so much money in getting it done. The self centered self righteous jerks we keep electing wouldn't keep approving these tactics. They wouldn't ignore the deplorable acts of Microsoft and the lesser companies who emulate them. (Microsoft gets fined over a billion in Europe but gets a nudge nudge and a wink in the USA).
Maybe they view all of this corruption of something as pretty as the computer and the internet as just another poor tax, like the insane profits of the oil companies (who will again set records for the low taxes they will pay.)
There used to a great operating system for computers: BeOS. It was elegant, refined, powerful and ran on machines that stuttered with Windows and Macs running 9.0.
BeOS had features 10 years ago that are just now The Big Store entering into Windows Vista and Mac OSX. (Indexed searches - integration of OpenGL etc)
Microsoft pointedly and fixedly destroyed the company. It did so illegally. Microsoft got prosecuted. Of course this was after they accomplished their goals and bankrupted the little BeOS company.
They had to pay the BeOS stockholders a lot of money and they got fined 100 million. Microsoft never paid of course. I'm sure it was quite legal on their side, the not paying I mean, but once again no one in power was watching out for us; the little guys who just wanted to have some fun on our computers or make a little web site about our hobby or the club we belong to. No one in power cares about the little guys like you and me communicating with each other.
I thought that was supposed to be their job, to look out for us and t understand things we didn't grasp and to make sure we could live a free and a happy people. I thought they were meant to safeguard us, not to encourage the slugs to rape and pillage us.
I guess I was wrong. Again.
I'm just not feeling human. A long strident rant because I got some junk mail in my email folder. I'm not human today.
Still feeling sick. Still worried about my little blind dog who still is keeping me up all night. Still worried about money and desires unfulfilled.
I shouldn't rant about things I can't change just because I can't reach out at them and give them a kick in the pants.

January 30, 2008

I'm all out of threats

The Day We Met For Coffee - J3 Concepts
Click images for desktop size: "The Day We Met For Coffee" by J3 Concepts
Sometimes there's just an empty space. It doesn't want filling.
I don't know exactly what that means, but I know how it feels.
Sometimes I miss being innocent.
It Came From Outer Space
My blood levels are getting better. Much better, normal really, but there are these odd spikes. So I talked to my old doctor.
No more coffee . . . or I can have decaf coffee. I've no big problem with that but its just another small pleasure, another enjoyable vice taken away. He also thinks its dangerous for me to be a vegetarian. No red meat but I should be eating chicken, turkey, that kind of stuff.
I don't like my body dictating this much to me.
Except for this I've been stud healthy most of my life. No allergies, no chronic this or that. Never ever even had an earache. Nothing hurt me badly at all. Except other people, but that would be the case for most of us I'd figure.
So I really don't have any experience dealing with this. I don't know how to gracefully accept a limitation imposed on me by my body. My body was always my friend. Now it feels like its not.
The way I've been dealing with it is the same bull headed way I deal with everything: Get my head down and bull through it. Ignoring everything, every stitch every bloody cut and patching up what can't be ignored until . . . I almost wrote "until its too late" instead of typing the thought in my head which was "until I have time".
I should just whine better. Learn to be graceful in the face of this. I realize I don't have a clue as to what that graceful attitude would be. If it even exists.
Praying Mantis - WallpaperManiac
Click images for desktop size: "Preying Mantis" by WallPaper Maniac
There was someone I was dating along time ago. It didn't last long. She wasn't dating me, she was dating some image of me that may or may not have ever existed. She didn't like me being morose and said to me, "You never heard about Jackie Kennedy being all morose when her husband got shot!"
Now I wonder what she wanted to convey, other then making me look at her as if she were a slime encrusted gastropod alien. And the thought "Where do I meet people like this . . . oh yeah, Hollywood.
But I don't know how to behave as gracefully as Jackie Kennedy. Somebody probably wrote a book about it. A book I'd most likely never read.

I've figured out the AJAX code to get the little pop-up windows of the web sites on my links page. It works great Jail Baiton the local server but choked when I went live. Which is how I discovered what every first year Computer Student already knows, for security reasons you can't make an XMLGetRequest to another server or another domain via the browser . . . You can, however, get the server to make a proxy request to a third server.
As soon as I figure out what that means I plan to get right on it. Or kludge together a brilliant work around . . . or at least make up something that will work.

And today I'm using Beta 27 of ecto. I still like the app a lot. It finally solved one major issue for me. It now properly uploads the pictures to the server. That means I don't have to go and manually create the thumbnails then open an ftp app and upload the things. This way is much quicker and easier.
And I am so busy that I NEED the 45 or 50 seconds that normally takes.
The layout tools have shown a marked improvement as well. Now it is possible for it to use my css file and create the layout exactly as it would appear instead of me either guesstimating or firing up the local server and examining it that way.
I still use MarsEdit to add in the extra span tags and special styles. That may be force of habit. Or the fact that I have all the code snippets stored inside of MarsEdit. I guess my next big adventure will be to try and do a post solely in ecto.
I'm also getting yancy (there's a word you haven't heard since your grandfather bounced you on his knee) waiting for the next Leopard Update. It supposedly will fix my biggest issues!
I wish Mac and iPod etc hadn't gotten so successful. It used to be that Apple was mainly worried about keeping their customers happy now they're just trying to become Microsoft.

And I am still excited about the Super Bowl. I want to see the Patriots play.
But its been so dull so far. I mean, Plaxico Buress predicting that the Patriots will only score 17 points is hardly deeply interesting. Nor is the state of Tom Brady's ankle that fascinating.
There's no great hype, no deep analysis of each teams match-ups, that sort of thing.
I've been hearing more about commercials than the game. More about the money than the game.
Although I did just learn today that one of my Texas players signed with the Bengals! Which is great football news.

January 27, 2008

Sometimes its hard being me
Ka-Fai Wai

Hi Vista Diner - Stray Cat
Click images for desktop size: "Hi Vista Diner" by Stray Cat
With no football I got involved in some of the more usual activities of winter.
Like shoveling snow. Someone needs to write a book on this. I suppose if I'd been raised in snow and ice it would all be second nature to me, but coming to it as an alien I'm amazed how difficult I can make it, and how many different ways I can injure myself.
The Fly 1958 It seems simple but it's not. Honest. Or else I'm a bigger idiot then I ever imagined . . .
One thing that perplexes me is salt. It melts ice but then the cold freezes the salty ice . . . so I must be doing it wrong. And at 5 bucks for 40 pounds there has to be a more economical way of throwing it around, someway that will give me enough traction to not fall down when I call the dogs in but will still leave me enough for later in the week.
I guess I am an idiot. When I ask people around here about it they just stare at me blankly as if I had asked them how to walk or crawl.

I've been organizing the links page. I'm doing it in a way that will enable me to control the look of it easier later on. Right now its a mess. All the links still work but its no longer alphabetical . . . so you got to look if you want something.
I've added a "thing" to it I'm nervous about: "Snap". It cool. When you hover over a link it pops up a thumbnail of the site! Nifty.
I use Safari and Camino web browsers on my Mac. Both of them have pretty decent ad blockers that I use heavily. The ad blockers work well because I had no idea that Snap generated an "Adsense" style add underneath the thumbnail.
I don't get any money for those ads. I guess its fair payment for their service. I just don't like that.
But I like the thumbnails so I'm going to leave the page with the "Snap" code up until I finish this lynda.com course on AJAX. I'm, probably foolishly, convinced that I can do what snap does on my own and maybe even pretty it up some so that I'll like.
I guess I'm apologizing for the ads . . .
I also got to see a few movies!
I seem to always do that. Have time to see a movie . . .
Pale Pink - LC
Click images for desktop size: "Pale Pink" by LC
"Hitman" wasn't near as bad as I thought it would be. The guy they picked for the lead is pretty worthless. I can't figure what they thought he's bring to the cardboard character. The girl is cute but not very memorable.
I sort of suffered through Tim Burton's "Sweeny Todd". I know the guy made billions with "Batman" but whatever he had is gone. This was a dreadful thing. I barely watched it but I could HEAR it. Casting a musical with non-singers is the kind of thing even a first year film student would do. But, hey, Johnny Depp wasn't as dreadful as some of the others.
Then, finally, I got to see a film that maybe the best film I've seen in 2007: Johnny To and Ka-Fai Wai's "Mad Detective".
Its an inspired idea, which is what I'd expect from the guys who last made "Running On Karma". A police detective is an ambulatory schizophrenic. He is also a genius at solving crimes. No one quite knows why but he explains it as "I can see the different personalties inside people."
Grand Central Murder The guy playing the detective, Ching Wan Lau, is never less than excellent and at times rises to superb. In some ways this performance is the best screen acting job I've seen since Marlon Brando in "Last Tango In Paris".
The film has a murder mystery plot. It starts out as just a McGuffin (See Hitchcock). What the film is really about is looking inside ourselves and inside other people. The film is pailful to watch, almost as painful as it is exhilarating and astonishing.
What hurts the most is Ching's embodiment of the schizophrenic. The way he sees the world and how he protects himself from the world. Its soul numbing and far too easily identifiable (meaning its as easy to see ourselves in his performance).
The film works on moments of astonishment. I don't want to give anything away in case you seek this one out. It opens with a panorama of knives, killing knives. Then Ching is circling someone with a knife in his hands. It seems he is circling a dead pig. A bunch of cops are watching him. One whispers, "Detective Bun is working on a case."
Hold Me
Click images for desktop size: "Hold Me"
Suddenly Bun attacks the dead pig, savagely stabbing it. It falls to the ground and he hacks at it.
A headline informs us that their was a girl stabbed to death and her body found shoved into a suitcase.
Ching drags out a suitcase and puts himself into it ordering a cop to kick him downstairs. He does, down three flights of stairs, brutally bouncing the bag around until they get to the bottom. The cop unzips the suitcase and Ching gets out battered and dizzy. He gasps out, "The ice cream vendor did it. Arrest the ice cream vendor."
Another headline blares "Detective Bun Solves Another Impossible Case".
Then it is the Chief's retirement party, the other cops have given him a yappy, cute Pekinese. Ching stands in front of the Chief, visibly moved. Without a word he reaches up and cuts off his right ear and hands it to the Chief as a token of his esteem . . . " And all of that is before the final opening credits.
The film astonishes. Sometimes it appears that the characters are getting overwhelmed by the plot mechanisms instead of being exposed more fully by it.
I have to watch it again to decide.
It won't get nominated for an Oscar . . .

January 25, 2008

Let no man pull you low enough to hate him
Dr Martin Luthor King

Franklin Sisters By Richard Io
Click images for desktop size: "The Franklin Sister" by Richard Io
"With this new trial side effect include hair loss, kidney damage, liver damage, pancreatic damage etc which may result in cirrhosis, necrotic damage and diabetes. This trial causes remission in over 40% of the patients thus far treated."
"Its only stage 2 diabetes. It can be treated with a pill."
"Glucophage shown to increase probability of heart disease by 250% in diabetic patients."
"With the trauma cataracts (from a UCLA safety who managed to pry my goggles off and poke me in the eye) and the level of damage from chemo it would be best if you kept your glucose levels at near hypoglycemic levels to avoid going blind." How To Make A Monster "Diabetes is a systematic disease. It will only get worse."
I have to pay better attention.
I got to read the fine print.
It is easier to find a good doctor than it is to find a good cop. That's something, I guess.
Doctors are just people. Most of them mean well. Like for anyone its a job. Most of the time they want to put in a good days work and get home to their families, their cars, their boats and their own dreams.
Its a good thing that they don't want you to die.
Sometimes they'll put you through 600 hells to keep you alive, but I'm grateful they don't want you to die.
We're human. People can get used to anything.
I sure don't want to die now, and I didn't want to die then. I'm the kind of sap who always thinks there's something worth living for. A dog, a friend, a project. Even the sick have dreams that go beyond hope.
My blood sugars today were 8.5 which is still 4 points better than ideal but also the best its been in a few weeks. So I have hopes and dreams. Bigger dreams and bigger hopes than I thought I'd ever have a year ago.
I have plans.

I updated the site yesterday to Movable Type 4.1. It doesn't do much for me really. The custom fields might be interesting and It does do one thing that might be fun to play with. Girl Bathing by Frank Frazetta
Click images for desktop size: "Girl Bathing" by Frank Frazetta
It allows a user picture to be uploaded for writers and commenters!
Not much use here. Who wants to look at me! But it might be fun on my puppy's site! The idea of a lot of dog pictures is always tres cool.
The enhanced security is very good too. It stops almost all of the track back spam and it seems to catch all of the comment spam.
Well, it seems to think all comments are spam . . . Which is why, if you've posted a comment here and wondered why it hasn't or why it took so long to show up . . . I have to go in and pull them out.
I want to keep testing it here first before opening up my puppy's site to comments. Her site gets an amazing amount of porn and bestiality porn spam comments. I Vampiri I don't want to risk a kid stumbling upon any of that stuff.
ecto, the tool I use to update and do the layout (yes, there is some planning that goes into making this mess . . .) seems to be working even better in its latest incarnation. I've never seen a Windows developer take as much care and be as responsive to user requests as any Mac developer, and the fellow working on ecto goes even further than that.
I am almost happy with ecto!
This will be my first post with it and MT 4.1 but it seems to mesh with it fine. Every time Wordpress would update I would go through some horrendous times just trying to get everything to work. Wordpress has some advantages but I'm happy with the switch back to Movable Type.
One advantage Wordpress has is php. It would make it a lot easier to figure out how to do the Ajax and Ruby On Rails stuff I want to do. I could convert Movable Type to php but I have to consider that one long and hard . . . the price of cheap hosting service.

I'm starting to really love Leopard, the latest Macintosh permutation of OSX. There are some cool features that enable me to do what I call work easier and faster with less awareness that I'm actually at a computer. Of course it is beautiful and elegant. It has some bugs and I'm really anxious for the rumored update to come out any day now. Its supposed to be massive and deal with a lot of my grief.
Windows users, those who prefer playing with their computers rather than working through them (t least it looks that way to me) still criticize Mac's as being too simple minded . . . of course none of them have spent any time producing much other than unsubstantiated complaints and opinions they hold as pedantic facts.
Arthur Fiddler and the Beach Pops by S4W
Click images for desktop size: "The Beach Pops" by S4W

We're still doing well, my puppy and me. Our family is thriving. I am continuing my staunch war against fleas! I still don't comprehend how fleas can thrive in this cold and snow! I think I am winning.
My puppy thinks all these bathes and combings are an unfair nuisance but doesn't hold them against me.
She still thinks that I'm taking the first football free weekend out on her.
She may be right . . . Only Friday and I already feel the withdrawal!
I'll be scrapping at the Senior Bowl to get a mild fix, I suppose . . .
It isn't the same.
Still having grief with the cable not being canceled. This is insane. I guess they're saying wait until we have to disconnect you or pay us all we say, cancel and then maybe we'll deal with your justified dispute.
They need an Ombudsman

January 22, 2008

Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars
Dr Martin Luther King Jr

Birdie By The Lake By Swiebel
Click images for desktop size: "Birdie By The Lake" by Sweibel
It snowed today.
I discovered a new way to injure myself. It takes strong winds but its very successful. I merely fling the snow to one side and it blows back into my face, down the front and back of my coat and shirt.
Very clever.
The Bride Of Frankenstein Last night I watched Misumi Kenji's "The Last Samurai", nothing to do with the Tom Cruise mess.
I got a copy from someone reading here. It was a decent trade.
The films never been released in the US. What he did (Cinephage) was take a French DVD and translate those subs into English. Not content with that he scoured other sources and put together the most accurate translation he could.
It makes for a brilliant package.
Odd thing is that he doesn't really rate Misumi, he considers him an entertainer and a "bargain basement Mizoguchi". Rah!
I disagree. There are elements of Mizoguchi in Misumi's work, for sure. The same way there are hints of Eisenstein, Murnau, Dzega-Vertov, and Dyer in every body's movies. "The Last Samurai" may even be a masterpiece. I'd have to see it again. Its odd. Everyone is smiling and happy, "a nice guy" until they have to kill.
There's a painful examination of the differences in killing: for love, for honor, for duty. Dying is given no value except towards the total cessation of existence.
It gets mature, adult even, mature in a profound sad and bemused way. So few artists get bemusement into their works. I value it highly mainly because I am almost always bemused, even when I'm crabby and bewildered.
This is a movie to treasure, no doubt. I am already certain it has changed the way I see life.

I've been thinking about love songs. Hotel by A Railroad - Edward Hopper
Click images for desktop size: "Hotel By A Railroad" by Edward Hopper
Like what is the greatest love song I've ever heard. A love song that encapsulates all those turbulent passions and rocky unsettling times that leads to the peace and serenity of love requited and returned.
The saccharine standards with swelling strings and desperate crooners are okay. Like Johnny Mathis, they set a mood but, for me, fall short of the dynamism of the act of falling in love. There's no desperation, only longing.
In that branch of the sub-genre I'd have to pick "The Way Love Used To Be" by Ray Davies and The Kinks.
Its got your deep and wailing strings and it talks about the bittersweet longing of not taking chances, of forgetting what love could have been while foolishly trying to recreate it anew.
Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane wrote a song that eloquently describes the joy of love. Their version was lush and heavy with Procul Harum style organ, which takes away from its gentle plaintive intent. Quiet Riot's cover of "Afterglow" hits closer to the mark. Besides it has Randy Rhodes playing a sizzling acoustic guitar.
The Devil's Bride When you think of Steve Marriott and the Small Faces (As in "There Are But Four Small Faces" one of the great album names of all time) there's one song that always clicks. They had a modest hit with it but their live version delivers the rage and the power that propel Alkaline Trio and The White Stripes. To me their "Tin Soldier" exposes the joy and the pain that love brings. From the hesitant opening to the deep blues wail hollering in the middle to its end where the world seems to disintegrate in rimshots and girlish screams, for me this song is the background of any love affair.

Of course thinking about love songs always makes me think about other goofy songs!
For a while my fave psycho tune was Brittany Spears' cover of Joan Jett's, "I Love Rock n' Roll". It was the most vapid non-comprehending track ever! It was great with a stupidity even the Ramones would have envied!
Arizonia
Click images for desktop size: "Arizona"
That was replaced in my heart by Pat Boone's being relevant (he wore a leather vest with no shirt on the album cover - YOW! Sixty year old non-six packs!) as he covered Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train". It redefined psychotronic!
But now I've discovered Dion's totally mad version of Jimi Hendrix's Purple Haze. Since Dion recently acquitted himself quite admirably with a solo album of country blues covers this comes as a total shock. This track will burn out your retinas and cause flashbacks, not to Viet Nam, but of that time you got sent to the principals office for eating all the kindergarten paste.
This is one track that will put a stop to "Rock on brother, rock on."

I'm writing this on ecto 3 beta 25 . . . 25 . . . its becoming usable and I can almost rely on it not to take all my words and vanish them into the computer innards! I can actually recommend it!

January 16, 2008

Lord, if you can't help me please don't help that bear
Jape Richardson

A Gift For A Disillusioned Man By MA Parkes
Click images for desktop size: "A Gift For A Disillusioned Man" by Michael A Parkes
I walked to see the lawyer today. The walk seemed long and cold.
Direct consequence of not having a dog with me.
On the other hand I seemed to fall down an awful lot less . . .
I Am A Groupie 1971 I must enjoy falling more than I'd admit to myself.
I think I have discovered the music that goes with cold, snow and ice: 60's garage, early Devo, and Glenn Gould playing Bach on harpsichord.
They all work pretty well. I did notice that groups like The Outsiders ("Respectable, "Time Won't Let Me", "Girl In Love"), The Human Beinz ("Nobody But Me") and The Choir ("Its Cold Outside") all seem to fit the mood remarkably well.
They're all from Ohio.
Devo used to be proud of being from Akron, Ohio . . .
Glenn Gould is Canadian but I'm certain he has played in OHIO!
Sometimes you have to stretch to make an impossible theorem work. The same way that my puppy is from Ohio but she doesn't really play any instruments. She sings a lot and she thinks its beautiful but that adds nothing to the argument or the rash conclusion I'm about to jump to . . .
Ohio is the home of cold weather music!
That's not it . . . I think it has something to do with it appears that weather might have a heavier role in art and pop than I'd first considered.
Would Alan Watts or William Faulkner have written in that same turgid style if they'd been reared in the frigid spans of North Dakota? Would James Joyce had written lighter less dense work if he'd lived most of his life in Malibu instead of Dublin?
And this just about leeches the joy out of this worthless topic. It was something to speculate on while I walked, listened and shivered.
Listen Ms DJ
Click images for desktop size: "Listen Ms DJ" by Anonymous
The meeting with the lawyer was okay. Fine really. I just can't get past the premonition of doom. Waiting for the next calamity to strike sort of thing. I'll get over it.
I watched "The Warlords" last night. Its the big deal holiday movie in China - stars Jet Li, Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro. Parts of it were very good.
Andy Lau was typically himself, which, to my eyes means he was great!
Jet Li was a revelation. He plays a rather complex and not very nice guy. In some ways he was a villain, no the villain. But Li managed to convey the desperate emotions of a man and a man with a vision well. He managed to bring some negative traits to the forefront and make us accept them as a part of what drives lesser men to greatness. He's a coward and a liar and an adulterer.
Animal House He is not these things venially. We understand and empathize. We admire Lau, who is all things heroic. Whose rise to greatness is on Li's shirt tail. Lau never wanted greatness. He only wanted his family and friends to have enough to eat.
Kaneshiro is the tragic figure here. He believes in the greatness of both men. Childishly he believes in truth.
Its worth seeing for sure.
I just got an email. Astonishingly I am not yet out of the Football Contest . . .
My editing tool, ecto, is now at beta 22!
And from MacWorld I want a MacBook Air, the wireless Router and server grade drive and AppleTV II and and and . . .

January 9, 2008

Remember just getting by is okay too

Hardcore Hentai by Anonymous
Click images for desktop size: "Hardcore Hentai" by Anonymous
Just a day.
I miss the snow. I was getting used to it. It all melted and now everything looks just normal. That doesn't do me much good.
Modesty Blaise I do seem to be able to avoid falling down quite a bit easier but thats not much off a fair exchange.
Feeling like I was walking in some new alien world everyday was worth the nicks and bruises.
My broken toe is healing. Its a nice mottled purple today. The blackness has retreated. It hurts some but I can walk. My biggest fear is not being able to walk. I guess it equates to most people's fears of their car breaking down.
As long as my puppy and I can walk I figure we can get anywhere . . . eventually.

ecto, the blogging/posting tool I like is up to beta 20!
Its improving and I almost trust it. Its amazing how many words this app has flushed down the toilet. I doubt if it was ever a loss.
Being a beta tester has a lot of pluses. I'm learning a lot of the power of this tool. Its all simple stuff, but its stuff I probably wouldn't have ever used. I still don't use most of what it offers. I don't need most of that kind of power.
I just like it to help me do the layout, and keep everything from being repetitive xhtml coding. It is doing that okay so far. That makes me happy.

I took my puppy and the big dog who broke my toe for a walk to the store today. I was limping and when you show a big dog a sign of weakness . . .
Having good traction disrupted most of his plans for me.
We met a Belgian Sheepdog mix in the neighborhood. She was being walked by an older woman and we were both excited to meet another black dog face to face! My puppy was prettier . . .
Pretense Of Innocence By Mo
Click images for desktop size: "Pretense Of Innocence" by Mo
I like meeting friendly people with friendlier dogs.
At the store I tied the dogs to a bicycle rack, which was tired to a concrete filled 3x3x4 metal box. I took 2 steps away and the big dog decided I was abandoning him. I turned in time to catch the bike rack at my chest and to kick the metal box away before it hit a parked van.
Of course I kicked it away with the foot with the broken toe.
A bystander said, "Hey, you're pretty fast! Good job!" Turns out it was his van.
I got everything put back in place while holding on to both dogs. I then found a nearby tree and tied them to that. Another bystander said, I hope jokingly, "Do you think that's strong enough to hold him?"

Other than that its just been a day like any other.
Did watch a movie. Ben Affleck's "Gone Baby Gone".
La Prisonnivre I tend not to like Ben Affleck. No reason. The main reason, I think, is that I confuse him with Ben Stiller who I have a strong dislike for.
When I get them straight in my head Affleck reminds me of this guy I know, Kevin.
Kevin worked for me, he was a big burly good looking guy. Quiet in a brutish kind of way but affable enough and not given to a lot of talking.
One day he gave me a nicely offset printed magazine. It was a poetry magazine and he edited and printed it himself.
"None of my junk's in there. Nothing good enough for this issue," was all he said when he sort of jammed it at me.
I liked it. A couple of them I still remember. I told him this and he just grunted at me and never mentioned it again. There was just always a new issue in my mail box.
Anyway Affleck's movie is pretty good. Its too complicated about Boston and child molesters and baby stealing. Dark stuff. Handled darkly.
Everything is intro'd nicely. The acting is all very good. particularly Ed HArris and, of course, Morgan Freeman. But then the plot gets so complicated and twisty that I couldn't figure out what the movie was trying to say, if anything.

November 27, 2007

This is just a test

Eye Test
This is just a test, really.
Just a test.
Looking to replicate some errors with line breaks. Double Indemnity Nothing to see here.
The developer of ecto has responded to one of my querelous emails and asked me to provide some data so he could fix the problems I'm having.
I'm pretty happy about that, since this is a beta and its running on Leopard, a brand new OS, some problems are to be expected. Its always nice that a developer cares enough to try and get things right.
In Windows apps I seldom had this sort of response . . . except in free ware. I still have a few Macintosh apps that are going screwy with no fixes in sight, so I'm happy to try and get this fixed.
I mean, I could live without ecto and still get everything done like I want it done here, but it becomes a much more time consuming and annoying task.
Still recovering from my cold.
Still watching snow fall.
Still happy and still optimistic.
I can't think of anything else to say.
Just move along, please.
Move along.
This is just a test.
Its hard being anything but self consciously droll when trying to just fill up space.
Story of too many lives I suppose.

November 10, 2007

You can't judge a man now because of what he might be in the future
Sui Mak

Weird
Click images for desktop size: "Weird" by Alexandra Gomprecht

I maintain this blog primarily with an app called ecto.
With my upgrade to Leopard (MAC OSX 10.5) the old version was sort of flakey, so I have to use this beta, which is nearly as flakey.
It also demands I re-create all my templates and stuff. That sort of stuff normally pleases me no end. For some reason I just find it fatiguing right now.Pickup Alley
If things look messed up I'm trying to get it right! I've updated the blog script (WordPress) in hope that it would make everything that was broken miraculously work again . . . I'm a dreamer like that.
On the plus side, the flakey beta ecto does offer WYSIWYG editing. On the down side I can't get ecto to work on the same standard as the css of the web site so its still pretty much a guessing game as to how it will finally look. I'm no expert, just a guy who likes to fiddle with symbols and codes and stuff.
Its boring me to write about this stuff right now. Must make it hell to read.
So on to a subject that befuddles a lot of you. My passion for football. Its no joke. I see football as beautiful as literature. At its zenith as moving as Mahler or Berlioz. Some people don't need an explanation of that. For the rest its something that will never be understood.
Last week I fell from my previous weeks perfection and ended up 10-4. No where near good for a prize but good enough to move me within 9 points of first place! Or 45th out of 104,000 other people who dream too much about a game.
This week there's nothing to compare to the beauty of New England VS Indianapolis, unfortunately. But there's nothing totally dire, not really totally dire on paper anyway.
In fact overall its an intriguing week. Things are at stake for some of the teams and others feature teams so mashed up and beaten up by the season that its impossible to do more than guess. My picks are in Bold.

Atlanta at Carolina - Here's exactly the cruddy type of game that injuries has made intriguing. Testaverde is too banged up to play.1967 Ford Galaxie
Click images for desktop size: "1967 Ford Galaxie" by Brett Schnacky
He might have to anyway because the only thing behind him is a kid they signed off the street. The Panthers front 7 is banged up badly and missing some key people on the line. Atlanta just stinks but not badly enough to get beat by the Panthers 3rd and 4th stringers.

Buffalo at Miami - The Dolphins are really stinking and still missing key personnel, while some of those who'll be playing should be taking some time off to heal. The Bills are improving and building character. Building character is tough to do in the pros but they're doing it. The Bills are also showing faith in one of my kids so I'll always lean towards them when all else fails.Underworld

Cleveland at Pittsburgh - With all the fuss about Brady Quinn this kid the Browns have is really managing the team. Yeah, I can't remember his name but I remember his footwork and his composure. He's good but the Steelers have too much for a talented kid to handle just yet. A possible upset.

Denver at Kansas City - This is a rough game to call. Both teams either stink or are injured in a way that plays directly into the opponents strength. As in the Broncos can't stop the run and the Chiefs have lost their starting running back. I'm going with the Chiefs because they're at home and Huard is confident.

Jacksonville at Tennessee - Here's my first psycho pick of the week . . . but it just makes sense. Garrard is back at QB for the Jaguars. I think that they can stop the Titans one dimensional powerful running game. That's it really, that and that the Jaguars have a whole season to lose if they don't win it here.

Minnesota at Green Bay - The Packer's Brett Favre is becoming the story of the year. With no running game, a good but not great defense and his unstoppable gunslinger mentality he's offering sheer entertainment and a fantastic record. The Vikings have Adrian Peterson and little else. This should be fun.

Philadelphia at Washington - This is one I've gone back and forth on. The Redskins are overwhelming favorites. The Eagles are in disarray and finger pointing, a usual trait of teams ready to lose the rest of their games. Redskins are beaten up, their confidence still shaky after the Patriots beating. It really could go either way. I'm taking the Eagles hoping they'll get smart and unleash Brian Westbrook.

Big City Life
Click images for desktop size: "Big City Life" by Sweibel
St Louis at New Orleans - I feel sorry for the Rams. Not enough to pick them. The Saints are surging. Reggie Bush is becoming an every down back and Dru Brees is making it known that last season was no fluke.

Cincinnati at Baltimore - And another psycho pick! Cincinnati's D is terrible, right now so is the Raven's Offense. As great as the Baltimore D is they're banged up and Carson Palmer and Co know they're season is nearly over and they are younger and have bigger dreams. Not scientific I grant you,

Chicago at Oakland - I wouldn't be too surprised to see the Raiders keep this one close. Not enough to win but enough to keep the outcome in doubt. The Bears have collapsed and have nothing left on Defense.

Adventure In IraqDallas at New York Giants - This pick is too looney even for me to justify. The Cowboys have looked nothing but good. The Giants have looked pretty awful at times. For some reason I can't see them losing at home when they all know that their careers are on the line this year. I think they might play over their heads and pull this one out.

Detroit at Arizona - Jon Kitna would be the story this year if not for Brett Favre and Tom Brady. He's had the 2nd biggest year, taking a cruddy team to respectability. The Cardinals are still suffering, talented but suffering.

San Francisco at Seattle - The 49er's stink. Frank Gore is banged up so they really stink. The SeaHawks are looking poor and playing like they've already got the division locked up. Oh yeah, they do.

Indianapolis at San Diego - Remember at the start of the year, this looked like it would be a game of the week for sure. Still an awful lot of talent on the field but I'd be even crazier than usual to go against the Colts.

As usual anyone would be crazy to use these picks for any other purpose than to laugh at me and my supposed football acumen.


November 3, 2007

I've seen the light. It didn't care for me
Ken Boyd

Ma Parkes Beyond The Night
Click images for desktop size: "Beyond The Night" by Michael Parkes
There's not a real lot going on. There is, of course but the reality of it is that I'm stuck in a grim mire. No reason for it. No reason at all. Everything is good. I'm happier than I've been in decades. I guess there's always the future lingering on out there. And governments. Governments scare me. They really do. 1947 - Out Of The Past It seems that governments exist to create jobs, exploit fear and to struggle against itself to find justice. I think that the utopian ideal used to be to preserve freedom. I'd like to think that. I've always thought that true justice was something only an omniscient being could fathom or create or endure. Freedom though, that's a fight I can rally around. That's enough preachy dawdling around. Hard facts are the general order of thing. Facts are nice becasue they're solid, It doesn't matter if they're objective facts or subjective, they're going to be. Facts, outside of math, can only exist in the past, Lets hear it for facts! Last week I was perfect in my silly NFL predictions! This is straight up picking, not against the spread. The weekly prize is $1,000. But I lost the tie breaker and came in 4th. No prize. It was exciting though. I think I prefer it when the prizes are smaller. I was ecstatic about winning the iRobot. And I'll never forget my wife following me around and quizzing me on the games so she could enter the LA neighborhood football contest. She won it so often that she would get angry with me when she lost! The prizes were dinners or theater or movie tickets. She loved winning them with her mad skills. And my picks. I've been running Leopard on my iMac for a week now. I like it fine. I'm not to keen on the interface "improvements". Its a bit too busy for me and can become distracting and, at times, aggravating. What I like most is the "under the hood" stuff. The new media codecs and the media icon previews are excellent. The network and the terminal stuff is totally cool. Its a cool step up and I recommend it. As always it makes slipping over into using Windows seem arduous. Windows is still a bad joke to me. I continue to dislike it and I've solid reason to actively hate Microsoft. I'd say Leopard is almost very close to where BeOS would have been if Microsoft hadn't used grossly illegal tactics to kill BeOS. Shades
Click images for desktop size: "Shades" by Unknown
Of course it was Halloween. We got no trick or treaters. Kind of normal in this present. So got to have plenty of big time fun tormenting the dogs and trying to get them look happy in silly costumes. Took all the dogs out on the night. They all got good comments and laughing attention. Wouldn't have been possible but for my puppy's aunt. Best news is that the dogs didn't bite any of the kids! The World Series ended. What I saw of it made it clear that Boston is and was devastating. I had a lingering anxiety becasue I wanted to see the Colorado Rockies continue their miracle for just a bit longer and I really really don't want to ever hear about the "Red Sox Nation" ever again. Sorry to my friends in Boston and MA. Its not really your fault.1937 - Day At Races(Lc)1Xs-1 I haven't had time to watch many movies. Disconcertingly I was unpacking a bit, looking for stuff really, and discovered a couple hundred DVD+R's I haven't entered into the database. Oh well. I'm restructuring the database to sort by Genre instead of by title. I am continuing with my plan to segregate the genre's more completely - Vampire, Werewolf, Slasher instead of just horror. Chambara, Kung Fu instead of just martial arts. It will take time. And tomorrow my puppy and I enter a new training class. Just to give her something to do and to focus on. It will, hopefully, be a lot of fun for her. She likes to get praise. She likes to work. She likes just about everything except being away from me. I feel pretty much the same way.

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October 27, 2007

USC 17 Oregon 24

Nysmbw Chadvw
Click images for desktop size: "NY" by Chad VW
Southern California wasn't on TV here so we had an early Halloween movie party.
Started it with the flash "Underworld: Evolution" then the childhood flic, "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein". On to the sci-fi horror of Burgess/Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange" and then ended the night with the fascinating Val Lewton "The Seventh Victim".
There was one great exchange in "The Seventh Victim". There's a poet and a psychiatrist. Their professions make them natural enemies, but they are both so civilized about it, that its disconcerting to the point of being nearly shocking. The poet suspects that the psychiatrist murdered the girl he loved about 10 years ago.
Notorious Xlg - 1946 It stopped the poet from writing and stayed with him every day, even worse when he saw the psychiatrist in their crisscrossed social circles.
Near the climax of the film, they find themselves uneasy allies, Cyrano's not emotionally involved in the drama but invested in its outcome. When the psychiatrist says out of the blue, "That girl you saw me with is in an insane asylum. She's a terrifying raving thing." He pauses and lights a cigarette. "I didn't tell you because I wanted to spare your feelings."
The poet stares at him and then says, "That means that for all these years you've actually been my friend." Its a slight little scene. It ties up a loose plot thread that most people would have forgotten anyway. It has power and I found it fetchingly beautiful.
Then today watched, "Constantine"; another roller coaster attraction type movie, engaging without meaning anything. The Hong Kong horror, "Mr Vampire 3", then the engaging and touching, "Bubba Ho Tep".
Finally ending the horror night with "Cube". Its a film that's cheap and intriguing. It has enough of those old fashioned existentialist concepts (Hell is other people) and decent enough acting to inspire someone else to make their movie. I like that a lot.
To wash the night of terror away we watched "The Boondock Saints". A violent comedy that has stunning acting and deserves a little bit more cult status, in my opinion.
All in all, except for USC's defeat, it made a good weekend for me. I love movies. I love stories. I love watching stories with loved ones who see things differently than I do. I love hearing how they find things different.
With my puppy begging for pets and treats its hard to imagine a much better time.

I've updated the movie listing. This time just the look of it. Got it prettier and fancier. It looks geeky until you push the buttons to the right of each title. Then I think its kind of fun!
Sky Is The Limit1-Askudesigns
Click images for desktop size: "The Sky Is The Limit" by Asku Designs
I've installed Leopard on my computer. I like it. Much more for the under the hood stuff. I've been dismantling most of the eye candy stuff. I like my work space to look elegant but not distracting.
There are enough enhancements to make work easier that I can recommend it. I like the new core audio functions, the improved aac codec and command line access to it especially.
There are still reasons to cringe every time I touch a machine running Windows. I sometimes think that Windows has such a silly learning curve that people have to become experts to just try and live with the machine. I prefer just working.

Last week I went 10-4 in my football picks. Some of my nutsy picks worked out and one, in retrospect, seems even more insane. I did pick the Colts to lose to the Jaguars. What was I thinking.
1969-Klein Mister Freedom Three of my losses pleased me - I mean I was glad to see the Lions, Buffalo and Denver rise up and win.
Of course that being pleased doesn't make up for me not winning a prize! My picks last week put me in the top 37% for the week and the top 22% for the season. A long way to go for prizey goodness!
Its not a very interesting week in the pros.
This seems to be a schedule designed to keep interest up for the World Series. I thought game 2 was brilliant, game 1 was too overpowering to be entertaining.
This week my picks are, as usual, in Bold.
Cleveland at St Louis - This is saved from cruddy game of the week honors because Cleveland has looked better this year. At least better than the Rams. The rams may still rise up angry and win a game or two but you can't go wrong right now picking against them.

Detroit at Chicago - The Bears look stronger each week behind Griese, who has been nothing but a journey man QB, and that fearsome Bear Defense seems almost like a distant memory. The Lions keep playing well. I like them. I don't think the revenge thing will play too well for Chicago. The Lions will be confident.

Indianapolis at Carolina - If Vinnie Testaverde can come up and knock off the Colts this week it will be sensational and the greatest upset of the year. You have to lose a million to make a thousand playing long shots. I have to pick straight up or else I would take the Panthers and the points.

NY Giants at Miami - How do you make a cruddy game of the week into the GAME OF THE WEEK? Move both teams 3,000 miles away from home and put it in London. I'm pleased that my kids other there will be able to see a real NFL game, the speed, the poetry and beauty of it. Even the cruddy Dolphins will show them more than they've ever seen before.
"Red Sunset" - 1600 X 1200 - Le-Redsunset
Click images for desktop size: "Red Sunset" by Lawn Elf
Oakland at Tennessee - Vince Young should be back and that's enough to offset the improving Raiders.

Philadelphia at Minnesota - One of the more intriguing games, which doesn't mean good. Jackson, the Vikings QB, is pretty banged up and there's not much behind him. Adrian Peterson will be at home and eager to make up for his poor performance at Dallas. But the Eagles are not a team in disarray, even if their loses make it look that way. The Eagles know that a loss here will wreck them in the city that loves to hate them.

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati - Boy, do I want to take the Bengals. I just can't bear being disappointed again. I would have taken them if the Steelers had won in Denver. Coming off a loss means they'll come in looking to punish a division rival.

Buffalo at New York Jets - I'm confidently picking the Bills! Its good to see them right themselves. They are looking good and poised to make a show of things for a community that needs them. The Jets are confused and angry and without Vilma at LB even weaker.
1935 - A Night At Opera(Lc)3Xs Houston at San Diego - I think the Charger players have woken up, the front office and coaching staff may be lost but this team has too much talent for the Texans to win.

Jacksonville at Tampa Bay - I'm picking yet another road underdog . . . I think the Jaguar defense can get after Garcia, who will be dangerous. The Buc's D seems to be getting weaker as they get deeper into the season.

New Orleans at San Francisco - Another road team but not an underdog. The 49's D is improving and starting to look tough. But Reggie Bush is stepping well into his full time role. Brees always plays his best when he's playing with a lead. And the 49er's are rushing Smith back too soon.

Green Bay at Denver - My game of the week and another road dog for my pick. Brett Favre has to decide if this is the year he goes to his last Super Bowl. Denver brutalized the Steelers and needs to keep whening to contend in the up for grabs West. What could be more fun?
Apo Spiral 140605 002
Click images for desktop size: "Spiral" by Apo
Washington at New England - They say that New England isn't all that good and the hype is just because sports writers need something to hype. They say that the Redskins D will be the first true test for Tom Brady. They say a lot of things and most of them are crap. Billicheck and Brady each play every game like they are cast off underdogs. This will be no different. The Redskins QB will be playing injured. I'm pick the Patriots 38-17.

Anyone using my picks for advice will be considered a terrible raving thing.

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February 18, 2007

Refried Hard Drive

The new foster puppy showed up yesterday. Here name is Noelle, 8 months brindle hound mix. She's sweet, lonely and scared. My puppy will get her over being scared.
Just this second discovered she's not completely house trained. Its the kind of job that doesn't bother me.

Then this morning I discovered that my hard drive is now trash. I've managed to get it up and limping. With a loan I've gotten an external drive to save the bit of music and art and photos I have. Two major crashes in a month is hard on the heart!
I was disgusted to learn that the warranty on the drive and iMac expired less than two weeks ago. Also disgusted with the cavalier approach I sensed to it from Apple.
I still like OSX and I hate Microsoft much more than this, but it is disenchanting to see that all big companies end up behaving in the same way. Yes, I'm disappointed in Apple in their mad rush to court Microsoft users they ignore their core.

And to add to my disgust there was a nasty turn with Time Warner today. Everyone has nasty disgusting stories about cable companies so I won't waste precious time elaborating on it. Its the price we pay for allowing greedy politicians the right to give monopolies to uncaring companies.

And February still continues . . .

January 29, 2007

The coroner's report's unclear

Derek Prospero Fastburn
Click images for desktop size: "Fast Burn" by Derek Prospero
Still discovering losses from the computer crash. Oh well. Its data and that's all it ever was. Some of them hurt but this is nothing like losing a dog or a friend. Re-gathering data has its own sense of pleasure. Tedium can be a pleasant thing if you keep the mindset right. Recreating templates is tiresome, when you know it worked before. Its just something that needs to be done. Some grim realizations today. What if the job I dislike so is the best one for me? Aside from this cold that lingers but hasn't shown signs of pneumonia, I've been pretty healthy there. It doesn't pay enough though and I'm constantly insulted. It hasn't lowered my self esteem though. I have to keep thinking on it. If I could drive it might be easier all the way around. On the bus today there were two enormous women in wheelchairs. I ended up having to help the driver maneuver the chairs into place. He wanted to tell me know but each of these women had to weigh over 300 pounds. I talked to them while we moved and strapped them. I was amazed at how their bodies bulged and overflowed the chairs. Adventures Of Captain Africa, Ep#09 (1955) (Col) Blasted By Captain Africa! One of them said that she'd been in the wheelchair for two years, ever since she weighed 270. They were both in the chairs because their disability was weight. When we got them into place their chairs left a decently wide aisle to pass through but the overflow of flesh (?) touched and pressed against each other so hard they blocked the aisle. The bus has only two places for wheelchairs. They take up the front 8 spots. The driver had to let people enter through the back door. As I was in the front I had no convenient way to escape. I had to listen to them. They talked to me about the food they'd eaten this morning and the food they planned to eat this evening. The dark haired one talked about her boyfriend. She kept emphasizing to me that he was thinner than I am. I had to listen to them for a half hour. I don't think I learned anything. My puppy is glad I'm feeling better. She's started to bug me again. Tentatively. She wants me to play but she doesn't like me when I cough and gasp for breath. I still love her more every day. One of the guys I work with got a "free" puppy. I felt cross about that. Partially because of back yard breeders not taking care of their animals and then putting the dogs in a box by the road with a FREE DOGS sign. Partly because he was getting the dog to cure depression. I have to think about that some more but I don't feel like that is a valid reason to have a puppy. If it were a child anyone would think it was an insane reason, but because its "just" a dog, some how it's ok. It is a cute little thing though. I have this sick fear I'm going to end up with it in a few months. My boss called me today and wanted me to scheme with her to make sure my co-worker took good care of the new 12 week old thing. My puppy played with her. She thinks the kid is all right. And I'm still always interested in swaps and trades in my video collection. I've lost my database but I still have the films. It just takes me a touch longer to figure out if I already have what you're offering!

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January 26, 2007

Computer fried

A power outage bounced and nullified my hard drive . . . I've had to reformat which means I've lost most of my art, my music, about 2 gigs of puppy pictures and a small part of my mental health.
My cold has worsened and all in all this has been a pretty crummy week.

Stay tuned for who knows what!

September 7, 2006

You could join the Church Of Indifference . . . maybe
The Saints

Trust Nature
Click images for desktop size: "Trust Nature" by Pixel Hust
Just waiting for the season opening game. Listening to experts ridicule my choice of the Dolphins to get the mild upset.
There was that commercial for the new Bob Dylan album available on iTunes. I read Dylan's comments on why he's finally decided to distribute his music digitally, “The new recordings sound terrible. When I heard the masters of the new album I couldn't believe how it sounded nothing like what we were doing in the studio.”
I guess that music sounds so bad now why not just throw it out there on iTunes or whatever. If Bob weren't so rich already you could make a lot of accusations. Thing is that most of Bob's attack was launched at CD's!
The UndeadI think most of his complaints have to do with the horrific mastering job they're currently doing. I prefer the sound of analog tape recordings being digitally mastered. It gives a near perfect clone of the original recording. The White Stripes have killed using this technique. It also explains the brilliant sound of some of the retro stuff I like.
Straight digital records have a sharp hollowness that I find fatiguing but the worst part is that re-mastering engineers have taken digital and gone berserk with it. The old RAIA standard called for heavy compression to pump up the lead voices and instruments without losing the background. Now the compression can be even more extreme and the overall sound level pumped up to the max, sometimes coming distorted before they are even played. They do sound louder when played through any equipment and that seems to be the point.
I think Bob's complaints have to do with the re-mastering process and not the recording step. I've looked at the aiff's of the new album, Modern Times, and they are as squelched as Green Day's! Somehow even Bob seems to have little control over this.
The best thing out of all this was the comments coming from Kid Rock's manager. I like Kid Rock a lot. But . . .
His manager refused to let Kid's music go digital because he doesn't like people only being able to buy the tracks they like. He was actually making that incredibly stupid argument that “the album has artistic integrity that should not be allowed to be decided by the consumer” . . . RAH!
The Devil Without A Cause a work of art?!? I shouldn't be allowed to decide what is a good track?
I liked it better when it was just pop music.

Other than that it was just another day. Nothing more and it couldn't be much less.
My puppy found a mole. It was sick. She's nursing it. She is very serious about this.

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February 3, 2006

Why do the good die young

Downandout
Click images for desktop size: "Down and Out" by MacMonkee
The hard drive on my PowerBook died.
Had to erase it but I have it up limping along for a while.

Lost a lot of pictures, projects, art work and music. It's all replaceable except for some of the puppy pix. Backed up a lot . . . not enough it seems.

Its a pale comparison but it feels a bit like surveying the damage after a fire.

Interesting note: The 6 apps I bought that were designed by Mac only developers sent me the lost registration information almost immediatley!
Four Windows/Mac deveolopers haven't answered. Adobe asked me for a whole lot more info for Photoshop and Macromedia/Adobe pretty much said, sorry you lost it, tough break wanna buy a new copy?

This Sunday is the SuperBowl. Finally and sadly. I hate the last game of the season.
Who knows if this will be a good enough game to carry me through.
Matching up the two teams it gets surprisingly even.
Cowher's been to one SuperBowl and lost it.
Holmgrem has been to 2 and split them.
Even. Ed Allen-Cyber Reader 1024At QB Rothlisberger has the hype but Hasslebeck has put in the time. Rothlisberger has been great but he choked last year in the big game. He has a blog on typepad too. Not very interesting but it is pleasant enough for kids and fans. I still have to give a slight edge to Hasslebeck.
O Line - Seahawks win this one. The line is quick and strong and should handle the Steeler's front seven pretty well. The play action can freeze these guys. The Steeler line is great for run blocking but weak against a pass rush; they set up mediocre screens.
D-Line - The Steelers have the name but the Seahawks line is fast and crazed. Ball hungry. I'd call this even.
Linebackers - I like Porter running his mouth. It lets everyone get on with business and is a cool diversion. A slight edge to the Steelers here. But mainly becasue of Troy Polomonu who is really more a Rover Back than a Safety.
Secondary - Seahawks play better man and give up fewer big plays. The Steelers play good zone and depend a lot on their front seven. Nice edge to the Seahawks.
RB's - Bettis will be pumped but banged up. He'll not embarass himself but Alexander is a man possessed looking for recognition and the killer payday. Advantage SeaHawks!
WR - This is a bland a group as ever reached a SuperBowl. Jackson and Hines cancel each other out. Look for the TE's to steal the glory here.
My pick is take the SeaHawks and the 4 points.

I had an odd job interview today. I have to think about it some more.

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